Monthly Archives: January 2017

McCarthy has shown little aptitude for handling his team’s fourth-quarter decisions

McCarthy has struggled with game management in key situations during previous playoffs. As I wrote about on Sunday, McCarthy has shown little aptitude for handling his team’s fourth-quarter decisions, particularly as an underdog.

Against the Seahawks two years ago, McCarthy kicked twice on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter, then clung to a bizarre emphasis on the number of carries his team should have in the second half in an attempt to hold on to the lead.

Then, last season in the divisional round of the playoffs, he followed Aaron Rodgers’ miraculous Hail Mary on the road in Arizona by kicking the extra point to go into overtime in lieu of attacking a stunned Cardinals defense for a game-winning two-point conversion try. His team never touched the ball again.

The “Brotherhood” seems to be on a mission this season, as Quinn has established a winning mentality in everyone on the roster. Ryan might be adamant about “blocking out the noise” regarding his inability to reach a Super Bowl, but you can bet that some of the negativity has fueled him up to this moment.

This game could be a shootout, indeed, but the Falcons prevail behind Ryan’s arm and his running backs’ legs. The defense will hold up just enough, relying on the blazing speed of rookie linebacker Deion Jones and Beasley and the physical play of rookie safety Keanu Neal to come up with some key stops. Falcons 35, Packers 31

The one other concern with Tomlin is that he may get carried away with challenges, although that’s less of a concern under the league’s modern rules. He made a terrible mistake with challenges earlier in his career during a playoff game against the Ravens in 2010.

Quinn had a strong case as the NFL’s top edge rusher

Coming into the 2014 season, Quinn had a strong case as the NFL’s top edge rusher. His 19 sacks in 2013 trailed only Robert Mathis’ 19.5, and he was a terror opposite Chris Long.

Long added 8.5 sacks in 2013 for a total of 27.5 for the pair, but Long managed just one sack in 2014 while Quinn tallied 10.5. Luckily for the Rams, they have Aaron Donald, a dominant three-technique on the inside who racked up nine sacks from the interior as a rookie. If Quinn returns to the dominant form he showed in 2013, the Rams have pass-rushing threats all over to make for a scary defensive front in 2015.

At the end of the day, Houston’s probably right that the Chiefs boast the best duo — for now. Hali’s drop-off in production doesn’t bode well for the title in 2015, but most of the other top tandems feature aging pass rushers, too. Quinn and Donald are a young pair for the Rams, while other teams like the Houston Texans are banking on potential and could sneak into the pass-rushing spotlight if Jadeveon Clowney finds his form in the NFL alongside reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
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By diversifying their receiver portfolio, the Patriots are able to balance talent with cost, and compensate for any sort of injury that might occur.

This, of course, is the Bill Belichick style of team building and management. He sets his ceilings for players and their contract values, and he doesn’t go beyond them. He understands that deviating from the system in place is the first step towards its collapse.

Game Kids Ernie Stautner Jersey The Patriots are fielding Edelman, LaFell, and Amendola for less cap space than the Broncos or Cowboys have allocated for Thomas and Bryant. That is why the law of the Shiny Hood Ornament doesn’t apply. Belichick has surrounded Brady with the fourth most expensive group of weapons in the entire league, and he’s done it by building quality depth across the roster.

Power Rankings: Warriors jump to top spot — now the real work begins

The good news first: Golden State will take the floor for Monday night’s highly anticipated rematch with Cleveland having capitalized on all of the slipups around them to reclaim the No. 1 spot in ESPN.com’s weekly NBA Power Rankings.
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Now for the bad news: What awaits the Warriors over the next seven days just might add up to the most challenging week of their regular season.

There have been slightly more bets on the Warriors to win the NBA title than there are on the defending champion Cavaliers, but there’s far more money on Golden State.

What Rio did for me was have me go back and literally play a different type of game. I don’t think I was looking to score. I was trying to pass and have fun. I got a chance to be around those guys and sometimes be a leader, and to sacrifice your game shows what kind of player you actually are.

You have always carried yourself with a lot of swagger and believed in what you could do, maybe when others overlooked you or didn’t see the same potential in you. Did playing for USA and winning gold give you even more swagger, and is that showing this season in your play?

I just felt like I was one of the better players out there, and I was able to, with a group of guys who respected what I did for the team and respected the situation we all were in. I think guys enjoyed playing with me, and it shows I can play with them, and I am one of the guys that won a gold medal, one of the better players in the country and the world. That definitely gives you confidence. You just got to go out there and keep working and getting better.
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In checking all the statistics on your season so far, one that really jumps out is the fact that only you, LeBron James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are averaging 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds this season. What does it mean to be putting up numbers with that kind of company so far this season?

Aaron Rodgers’ ‘guarantee’ could join Rex, others in NFL lore

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers just lit up the Dallas Cowboys for 356 yards, two touchdowns, clutch throw after clutch throw, and an upset win in one of the most thrilling NFL playoff games ever.
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We asked nine ESPN.com NFL writers a simple question:

Is Rodgers the best football player on the planet?

Gerald McCoy Game Jersey Here are their answers:

Dan Graziano, national NFL Insider: Yes, because he’s the best at so many things. He’s the most accurate, the most clutch, the most confident, the most calm player at the most important position, superior at the shortest passes as well as the longest (Hail Mary) and delivering right now in the biggest games against the best opponents.

The Chiefs could make Berry the franchise player again, as he was in 2016. It’s going to cost them more than the $10.8 million it did last year, but Berry would be worth the franchise-player cost to the Chiefs in 2017 if he plays and leads like he did this season.

Should the Chiefs retain Charles? Charles was, for a long period, among the best running backs in the league. But he hasn’t been since Oct. 11, 2015, when he tore the ACL in his right knee in a game against Chicago. He played in just three games this season as a part-time player with 40 rushing yards and a touchdown before soreness in the knee ended his season.

Charles turned 30 in December, and there’s no guarantee he will ever return as the player he was before the latest knee injury (he tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011). Charles, between salary and bonuses, is scheduled to cost the Chiefs $7 million in 2017.

The Chiefs would absorb no cap charge for Charles if they release him. Charles was so good in his day that it’s worth seeing whether he can get back to his previous level of play. But it’s not worth $7 million. The Chiefs need to see whether Charles would take a reduced contract that includes incentives. Such a deal would give both sides some security.

Jadeveon Clowney returns to Texans practice, says he’s ‘tired of hitting blocking dummies’

Quarterbacks beware: Jadeveon Clowney is back on the practice field. The Texans activated last year’s No. 1 overall pick from the PUP list Monday, and eased him back into the swing of things.

“The rehab process can be monotonous,” head coach Bill O’Brien said to the media Monday. “He put in the work. We are going to ease him in and then ramp him up.”

There is no word on whether Clowney will be ready to play Week 1 against the Chiefs, but the fact that he’s practicing again is a good sign. For his part, Clowney said he is ecstatic to get back on to the field.

No big deal, that’s just Manuel connecting with Deonte Thompson for a 51-yard touchdown two drives removed from imminent disaster. Manuel isn’t out of this thing yet.

It’s easy to overlook the fact that kickers have a tough job in the NFL; even from short distances nothing is guaranteed. Still, a kicker is reasonably expected to convert on all the extra point attempts he tries because, well … there’s a reason it’s called an extra point. About that:

That’s Titans kicker Ryan Succop completely shanking the kick and missing an extra point on Friday. This is Succop’s second season with the Titans after five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He converted 86.4 percent of his field goals last season, and made all 27 of his extra point attempts, so there’s not really cause for concern. These things just happen in the preseason.

“It’s going to be great when I can get back out there and rush the passer. I’m tired of hitting blocking dummies that don’t hit back,” Clowney said to reporters after practice, via NFL Media.

Antetokounmpo is scoring at will in the paint and is also doing a great job of defending down low

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Stafford’s benching is temporary — more akin to yanking a starting pitcher when he’s having an off-day, as Caldwell put it — but it’s seriously disconcerting for a team that has tons of weapons on offense but hasn’t been able to get anything going. He was replaced by Dan Orlovsky, who didn’t fare a whole lot better. Caldwell was so confident in his backup that he kicked a field goal from the Arizona 22-yard line with 11:56 remaining in the game … down 28 points.

Speaking of absurd passing records, one ended in Green Bay today as Rodgers’ streak of 586 passes at home without an interception ended. Rodgers tossed two picks and lost a fumble, but in the end it didn’t matter as the Packers improved to 5-0 on the year with a victory over the Rams.

He is averaging 1.97 blocks per game, fifth in the NBA. Three of the four players ahead of him are considered true centers.

He is allowing opponents to shoot 45.5 percent at the rim this season, eighth in the NBA. Five of the seven players ahead of him are considered true centers.

Elite Boston Red Sox Jersey “It was a long one, man,” Irving admitted. “Seemed like eight days is an eternity in the NBA life, but missing those three games was definitely necessary. … For me going forward and for the rest of my life, I will never take any hamstring that anyone has for granted because that’s how you make your living, that’s through your legs. So, just wanted to take the necessary time and do whatever is needed. Whether that was three games, four games or any amount of games. Just wanted to do the best thing for my body.”

Thanks to some quality time at the gym, Antetokounmpo is scoring at will in the paint and is also doing a great job of defending down low.

Osweiler has especially struggled throwing downfield this season

Authentic Iman Shumpert Jersey Hopkins finished the game with a team-leading five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. The Texans scored three touchdowns on offense for just the second time this season.

Osweiler has especially struggled throwing downfield this season. In the regular season, Osweiler completed just 26.5 percent of his passes that were thrown at least 15 yards downfield. He showed improvement Saturday, highlighted by his deep pass to Hopkins in the second quarter.
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The victory was the Texans’ first in the playoffs since the 2012 season.

The Texans will travel to play the No. 1 New England Patriots or the second-seeded Chiefs for the divisional round, pending the outcome of Sunday’s game between the No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers and No. 6 Miami Dolphins. Houston will play the Patriots if Pittsburgh wins, Kansas City if the Dolphins prevail.

“I thought Randall practiced well,” Mike McCarthy said. “Randall played well in the first game against the Giants. Yeah, obviously it would be great to have him ready, so he’s got some more work to do.”

The Packers indeed ran the table, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers suggested was possible, even though they had a 4-6 record in late November and were mired in a four-game losing streak.

They don’t intend to let up now.

“The energy that this team has is unique,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “That is not a concern at all. It’s about as ambitious a group of men as I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. That’s been evident from day one on the journey. But at the end of the day, it’s about winning this Sunday against the Giants.”

History should have no bearing on Sunday’s NFC wild-card game at Lambeau Field unless, of course, the ghost of playoffs past revisits Green Bay. The Giants have twice upset the Packers in the playoffs at Lambeau — the 2007 NFC Championship Game and in a 2011 NFC divisional-round game — both times with Eli Manning as New York’s quarterback and with Mike McCarthy as Green Bay’s coach. Manning is 2-0 in playoff games at Lambeau Field and has as many postseason wins there as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (2-2).

Where has the sanctity of the triple-double gone?

Harden recorded a triple-double on Friday, too. He¡¯s producing them at a frightening clip, with eight now through 35 games. In another season, if Russell Westbrook wasn¡¯t literally averaging a triple-double, that would get more attention. As it is, Harden¡¯s play is unlocking the Rockets as an absolutely terrifying offense that can and will blitz any defense into a death via jump shots and layups.

I¡¯m not going to say there¡¯s nowhere to go but up, because that¡¯s never true. Eight teams had worse rotations than Oakland¡¯s trainwreck Surkamp ¡®n¡¯ Detwiler Show last year. The Twins lost 10 more games than the A¡¯s did even though they were supposed to be on the upswing ¡ª a couple ESPN folks even picked Minnesota to win its division. Things can always get worse. Or they can stay just as bad, which would also be awful.

Elite Youth Michael Bennett Jersey But the most likely scenario, overwhelmingly so, is that 2017 will be better. Maybe not awesome, and probably not a playoff year unless some big additions are coming imminently, but it¡¯ll be better, more interesting, and more exciting. Here are five reasons why.
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If you want to put a finger on the pulse of the greater A¡¯s fan base, then take a stroll through the comments on our Facebook page sometime. You¡¯ll see a lot of people saying a lot of different things, with varying degrees of logic and tact, but the single most common theme is always easy to detect: ¡°Sell the team!¡± Usually with more expletives. It shows up on almost every post, even the positive, happy articles.

Rose started slowly but helped ignite the Knicks’ offense in the second quarter

Limited Womens Robert Mathis Jersey There will always be public discussions over whether the Knicks are better off trading Carmelo Anthony and giving Kristaps Porzingis a chance to shoulder more of the burden. But nights like Tuesday show that Anthony is still vital to this team¡¯s success. They also show the importance of Rose to this club.

The Knicks had gone 1-3 in Rose¡¯s absence if you include their loss to Phoenix, in which Rose played just 10 minutes.

George Blanda Elite Jersey Rose started slowly but helped ignite the Knicks’ offense in the second quarter and for stretches in the second half. New York improved to 6-2 when Rose scores at least 15 points and hands out at least five assists in a game.

¡°I think we just play differently when he¡¯s able to be out there,¡± Anthony said.

“I listen to Coach. Whatever he sees, I’m going to work on,” Conley said when asked about Fizdale’s pointed comments. “At the end of the day, I’m going to look at the film, look at myself in the mirror. I’m going to tell the guys to look in the mirror as well and say, ‘Did you give everything you had? Did you lead as best as you could? Did you do things to help the team win?’ And get ready for another game tomorrow.”

Shooting guard Tony Allen, considered the emotional leader during the Grizzlies’ Grit ‘n Grind era, agreed with Fizdale.

“You’ve got to roll with what Coach said. He calls a spade a spade,” Allen said. “I thought guys put their head down when they started cutting into the lead. Myself and Marc and Mike should take offense by that and show by example the next game.

“It’s nothing like we’re fighting back with Coach or nothing. We have to be better leaders and respond in critical situations when we see a lead sink. That’s what I’ve got to get from it. We’ve got to be better.”

Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison has been labeled a one-trick pony

Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison has been labeled a one-trick pony, an edge rusher whose only value is sacking the quarterback. It¡¯s not a bad label, mind you, and it¡¯s not one that offends the former high school running back.

It¡¯s just not totally accurate.

Addison proved that once again in Saturday¡¯s 33-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In a game in which there were few bright spots for the Panthers (6-9), the sixth-year player out of Troy University had two tackles for loss on Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman.
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Panthers defensive end Mario Addison celebrates a fourth-quarter sack against the Falcons.

Elite Womens Marshawn Lynch Jersey Week 4 vs. Jacksonville: The Colts were down 17 points to the winless Jaguars in London when they began a late comeback by scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter. The Colts had a chance to at least get into field goal position to tie the score when receiver T.Y. Hilton went down a yard short of the first down marker. Then on fourth down, Luck’s pass attempt to Dwayne Allen was knocked down in their 30-27 loss.

Week 6 in Houston: This was no doubt the worst loss of the season for the Colts, arguably the worst of the Pagano-Luck era. The Colts had a 14-point lead with less than five minutes remaining. The defense couldn¡¯t stop Brock Osweiler and Houston¡¯s offense, and the Colts offense couldn¡¯t use enough clock in their 26-23 overtime loss.

Week 14 vs. Houston: Same team. Same opportunity. Same result for the second straight season for Indianapolis. All the Colts’ problems from earlier in the season could be put to rest momentarily with a victory against the Texans, because it would allow them to control their destiny for first place in the AFC South just like in 2015. But just like in 2015, the Texans went into Lucas Oil Stadium and took the division title away from Indianapolis.