Category Archives: Stanley Cup

Stanley Cup

Eagles’ Carson Wentz struggled with ‘tough’ Jordan Matthews trade

The trade involving Jordan Matthews hit his teammates hard, especially Carson Wentz.

The Eagles quarterback acknowledged the difficulty in not only losing a pivotal wide receiver, but also losing his close friend. Nonetheless, he trusts the franchise’s decisions and knows the team will push forward.

“It’s tough,” Carson Wentz said Saturday, via Philly.com. “It’s one of those things where there’s the personal side to things and the football side to things. The football side of things, you just got to trust what they’re doing upstairs. Ultimately, they’re the ones that make those decisions. And what they think is best for the team, I’m going to be in support of 100 percent.

Getting Cam Newton and Russell Wilson in consecutive games to open is rough on that rebuilding defense. The Niners will need that home win badly against Los Angeles to save some face.

This where San Francisco needs to make hay away from the Bay to try to boost that record a bit to stop resembling 2016. The good news is their road games here are against fellow non-playoff teams. The bad news is that lone home date against Dallas can’t get more brutal.

This month is critical for San Francisco to build some momentum for 2018. Every game except that long trip to Houston is very winnable. This is where Shanahan and Lynch’s young corps need to play hard and come through with a few strong overall performances.

That’s a modest projection that the Niners will mine more than twice as many wins as they had last season. As Shanahan needs to wait a little for Lynch to gather some solid all-around talent, that will be a better accomplishment than you think.dolphins_040

Italian skiers take to the slopes with a smoldering lava bomb

Do you like skiing? What about lava? Okay, so maybe just one of those things. If you’re in the small venn diagram of people who like skiing and the danger of being incinerated by molten rock then head over to Italy’s Mount Etna!

On that play, Martinez did his best to clear Indiana’s line and block the kick. It was close, but officials ruled that he landed on someone —- a 15-yard (or half-the-distance) penalty and an automatic first down. It didn’t technically matter whether Martinez landed on a teammate or an opponent. Either constitutes leaping.

If the rule changes, it won’t matter whether defenders get clear of other players. Anybody who runs and tries to hurdle people will be guilty.

The rule’s still a little more complicated than that, though.
Players often run toward the line of scrimmage and try to jump over blockers to swat away a field goal, and it can be well within the rules. A play can’t be a leaping foul if the defender in question reaches the line of scrimmage before he jumps, or if an offensive player “initiates contact” against the player who jumps. And the leaping rule doesn’t apply to linemen who are stationary at the time of the snap.

Last season, Penn State’s Big Ten East-turning win over Ohio State happened because the Nittany Lions’ 13

22 blocked a field goal with a totally legal leap:

Did Allen (No. 2 in blue) run toward the line of scrimmage and try to jump over blockers to deny a field goal? Yes. Did he land on someone? It’s possible, though it’s close. But the play was legal anyway because he reached the neutral zone before he jumped.

The NCAA has a similar leaping rule for punts, but it rarely comes up, and the NCAA’s announcement only indicated a change for field goals and extra points. The leaping rule also says players can’t “step, jump, or stand” on an opponent on any play. None of that seems likely to change.

The playing rules panel could make broader changes to the leaping rule, in theory. But if it only expands the definition of leaping by making it irrelevant how players land, there will still be legal ways to jump over people to block a kick.

Philip Rivers regrets ‘not winning it all’ in San Diego

Philip Rivers spoke at the San Diego Hall of Champions dinner Tuesday night for the first time as the quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers.

At the dinner to honor teammate Nick Hardwick, an emotional Rivers said he was disappointed he couldn’t bring a championship to San Diego before the team moved to L.A.

Bell missed most of the Steelers’ loss to the New England Patriots due to a groin injury. The dual-threat back told NFL Network earlier this month that he had been dealing with the injury before the AFC Championship game.

“People don’t understand I was kind of fighting that through the playoffs,” Bell said. “I really hurt it in the Miami game. I played through the whole Kansas City game with it. The beginning of the Patriots game, I felt it.”

The NFL is considering whether the Steelers improperly withheld Bell’s groin injury from injury reports.

Not having to undergo surgery is a great sign for the free-agent-to-be. The Steelers are likely to use the franchise tag on Bell before the March 1 deadline while the sides attempt to hammer out a long-term contract that could set the running back market pay scale.

I particularly enjoy the aggrieved defender’s bewildered glance at the floor moments after his fall. No sir, that is no wet spot on the court — those are tiny bone fragments from both of your ankles.

And shoutout to Gurley for ending the play with the deuce. As anyone who’s played in competitive gym hoops can attest, the majority of amateur slasher types have no ability to finish. Your crossover don’t mean jack unless you put the rock in the hole.

Every 2015 NFL training camp fight ranked from best to the Jets

Training camp always has its fair share of scuffles, but Geno Smith’s broken jaw and high-profile players like Cam Newton and Dez Bryant getting in scraps with teammates has cast fights on the practice field into the spotlight and the NFL wants players to chill out a bit.

In a memo sent to all 32 NFL teams on Friday, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, warned players that fights aren’t a good idea.

“As professionals, no matter how emotional the game becomes, there is nothing that should resort to fighting,” Vincent wrote. “Coaches are encouraged to emphasize to players, coaches, and other club personnel who are on the sidelines, that fighting will not be tolerated.”

By the end of last year, he started figuring out the other shit.

I saw Floyd starting to use his hips to get past offensive lineman — an underrated skill that’s vital to most pass rushers — and his hands a lot better as the 2014 season progressed. Instead of hanging on to blocks, he started escaping off them and making plays after pushing the blocker or blockers into the backfield. The most telling thing I saw from Floyd as the season went on was that he started to celebrate after he made plays.

I know some of you lame jackasses have something against celebrating, but I can’t understand that mentality. We, as players, put so much into being able to go out and make plays for our teammates, coaches and fans every week. That shit is hard! There have literally been thousands of “good” college players who never got a shot in the NFL or got there and simply couldn’t make plays against that level of competition.

Jim and I agree that someone on the Cincinnati Bengals will step up to fill the void created by A.J. Green’s torn hamstring

Obviously, Jim and I agree that someone on the Cincinnati Bengals will step up to fill the void created by A.J. Green’s torn hamstring. I’m betting on LaFell, since he’s been the second-best wide receiver on the Bengals this season.

Among that group, LaFell ranks second on his team in both targets (55) and yards per catch (12.7), with Tashaun Gipson Authentic Jersey only Green ahead of him. With Green sidelined, expect LaFell’s target frequency to increase and a with a game versus the Baltimore Ravens on the horizon, that’s great news. The Ravens allow the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, so look for LaFell to be a worthy WR2 candidate this week.

These are surely not the answers you’re looking for, whether you’re a frustrated Texans fan or simply someone who would like to limit blood-pressure spikes during games. It is easy to bash the NFL when an official appears to make a mistake, even while overlooking errors that occur regularly in all aspects of what is a game played and coached by humans. And in many cases, the league deserves the criticism.

The Dolphins’ defense has proven resilient and has one of the better pressure rates in the league in the pass-rush phase, but with Kaepernick’s ability to escape the pocket and the up-tempo scheme Chip Kelly employs — the 49ers are eighth in drives per game the past six weeks (11.6) — we admire his high floor for fantasy purposes, as he’s produced at least 17 fantasy points in all but one start this season.

Adei-Barimah has been the team’s nickelback for most of the season. He’s played in all 10 games this year, with 22 tackles, two sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.

It is not a perfect solution, and in fact is designed only to avoid the most obvious mistakes, but it is a layer the NFL should consider adding for occasions such as Monday night.

Second, the cost was significant — estimated at $25 million or more — for a project that might have only Telvin Smith Authentic Jersey incremental impact. (Belichick has suggested a bake sale to take care of it, which might have been one of his best public moments to date.)

The difference in Davis from 2015 to 2016

What got lost in the move remains in the jar; that’s the 2015 production that Davis couldn’t match. What he replaced it with is in the glass, on the right. We’re talking about 20 plate appearances that shifted from positive outcomes to negative, fewer than one bad outcome per week. The overwhelming majority of his nearly 700 plate appearances stayed the same.

Davis was much more patient. He swung about five fewer times per 100 pitches seen, a patience that showed up both at pitches in the strike zone and out of the strike zone. He went from the top 40 percent of free-swingers, in 2015, to the bottom 20 percent in 2016. (This probably explains the modest uptick in both walks and strikeouts, as he worked deeper counts.)

More teams shifted against him, though not that many more — he was already shifted by almost everybody. Still, he hit 127 ground balls against an extreme shift in 2016, up from 113 in 2015 (and 96 the year before that). This cost him a single or so.

His slugging percentage Stefon Diggs Authentic Womens Jersey to the opposite field over the past five years is the best mark in baseball by more than 65 points. Hitting more balls to left or center isn’t necessarily a bug for Davis, and in 2016 especially it worked to his benefit: He slugged .975 on balls hit the other way, more than 100 points better than any other hitter in baseball. He slugged .795 on balls hit to center, fifth best in baseball, two points behind Mike Trout.

He drew four more walks in 2016, so to the extent the Orioles were paying him to walk (and they were) they got more than their money’s worth. He had six fewer singles, so to the extent they were paying him to single (and they were), they almost got Teddy Bridgewater Authentic Womens Jersey their money’s worth. Davis repeated all of the walks and most of the singles, so remove all of the walks from the marshmallows, and all but six of the knockoff M&Ms.

He hit 38 homers in 2016, down from 47 in 2015. He doubled 21 times, down from 31. So if the Orioles expected him to hit 78 extra-base hits, he lived up to that promise in 59 of 78 instances. Those 19 missing extra-base hits were, more or less, cleanly replaced by 11 extra strikeouts and five extra outs on balls in play. (He also batted five fewer times.)

It’s what coach Jay Wright relied on as he rolled out his undersized frontcourt of 6-9 Darryl Reynolds

The Boilermakers made their run as expected at home, pulling within one point six different times in the last 12 minutes, including three times in the game’s final minute. Each time, Villanova had an answer.

That, folks, is championship mettle.

It’s what coach Jay Wright relied on as he rolled out his undersized frontcourt of 6-9 Darryl Reynolds and 6-7 Eric Paschall to contend with Purdue’s tandem of Hass and the 6-9 Caleb Swanigan.

It’s why the Wildcats didn’t have Matt Elam Youth Jersey a turnover in the game’s final four minutes, with Purdue pulling within one possession.

It’s how sophomore guard Jalen Brunson, who hadn’t attempted a free throw the entire game, coolly stepped to the line and made four in the final 23 seconds.

And no matter how high draft boards have a player getting picked, that kind of fortitude is earned only through experience.

Not too long ago, like 10 to 15 years ago, a national champion that returned as many key players as Nova did would be a clear-cut pick for No. 1. That, of course, is no longer the case.

Duke received top billing with its fine assembly of what many experts considered the No. 1 freshman recruiting class (Kentucky was ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s rankings). Never mind that injuries have sidelined Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden and that the trio will possibly be the most talented DNP’s to visit Madison Square Garden this season.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said this past Saturday that until he had his full roster playing, his team would be about “survival” and that he hoped once healthy it could be the team he thinks it can be.

Well, Villanova has that team right now. If anyone is paying attention.

Markelle Fultz has a Michael Jordan story. Like MJ, Fultz didn’t make his varsity team as a high school sophomore. But Fultz doesn’t want to follow Jordan’s footsteps. He wants to be better.

“My mindset is different from a lot of people,” Fultz said. “You ask people their goal, and they’ll say to make it to the NBA. My goal isn’t just to make it there, it’s to be the best that ever played.”

Ravens have Antonio Brown’s number, and amazingly, it’s 1 (TD)

The Baltimore Ravens have dominated their rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers in recent years because they’ve been able to do something that the rest of the NFL has struggled with — keep wide receiver Antonio Brown out of the end zone.

Every day before practice he went through receiving drills in individual warm-ups, growing his route tree and building on a childhood of playing dodgeball and “razzle dazzle” catch in his backyard. It paid off. When he graduated, he was Clinton’s all-time leading receiver.

“He did just a great job of running patterns,” Camp said. “He’s got a knack for getting open and the biggest thing, I think, is just his drive to get the football. He’s going to go out and meet the football at the highest point or come back to the ball — do whatever he needed to make him have the best chance of catching the ball.”

“His pass-receiving skills are off the charts,” Arians said after drafting Johnson in May 2015. “But if you wanted to hand it to him 20, 25 times, he’s used to that.”

With the Cardinals at the midway point of the season, Johnson leads all running backs in receiving with 35 receptions for 407 yards. When quarterback Carson Palmer watches Johnson catch passes, Johnson’s receiving background is evident.

“His hands. His body control. Everything he does Kenneth Acker Authentic Womens Jersey in the receiving game. The way he runs his routes,” Palmer said. “He runs his routes, whether it be a double move or a post, his rhythm and his footwork is in line with what we do with our receivers. Everything he does in the pass game looks receiver-like.”

Having that knowledge and experience made Johnson’s adjustment to being a pass catcher in the NFL “comfortable.” He wasn’t confused by the terminology, footwork or route combinations thrown at him earlier in his career.

“It wasn’t tough for me,” Johnson said. “I think that’s Knile Davis Authentic Womens Jersey where I think it helped out that I played it in college.”