Thursday, December 12, 2013

Name Change Next?!?

The Washington Redskins and Robert Griffin may want to seriously consider a name change after the 'Skins dismal 2013 season. Just two years ago, almost to the day, Robert Griffin was hoisting the Heisman Trophy, now he's being benched with three regular season games left in his sophomore campaign in order to protect 'the future' of the franchise. 'Skins head coach Mike Shanahan won't make it out of this season with his job still in tact, that much is clear. The quarterback who was expected to be everything and then some after his rookie season will now have to prove himself again to be in competition with his fellow draft 'classmates,' Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson who will both be leading their respective franchises into their second straight postseason appearances. Ask any 'Skin fan you can find, eight months to prepare for 2014 isn't going to be the solution for RGIII and owner Daniel Snyder. What will?!?

Glad you asked;

1. A Defensive Coordinator who is going to be part of the solution not part of the problem. Between his blowups with other assistant coaches and his own players, current defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is not that guy. The Redskins defense is a laughing stock, they can't cover or rush the pass, good luck in a league where 34-year old journeyman quarterback Josh McCown looked like f*cking John Elway in his prime against the Dallas Cowboys this past Monday night. This is an offensive league folks, you better find a way to play defense if your plan is to compete for a Super Bowl. Offensive guru and Super Bowl winning head coach Sean Payton knew to bring in defensive mind Rob Ryan to help his Saints get back to where he thought they should be. Pete Carroll in Seattle has done everything he can to ensure his defense brings the pressure and let's stay out west, the 49ers and all-world pass rusher Aldon Smith aren't anything to scoff at either. If I were running the 'Skins, my first calls would include a short list of Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator 'in waiting' Keith Butler, and redemption project Steve Spagnuola.

2. A Head Coach who is comfortable bringing in people to surround himself with talent in order to make his job easier. How has Marvin Lewis lasted so long in Cincinnati? Mike Zimmer. How has Mike Tomlin been so successful in Pittsburgh? Dick Lebeau. Why has Dan Snyder's last several choices as the head man in Washington had a rough ending? He picks guys who are mostly in it for themselves. All due respect to Kyle Shanahan and what the 'Skins did last season, but let's be honest you don't move all in with your son as offensive coordinator if you don't think he'll at the very least listen to Y-O-U. Clearly Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio is prepared for another NFL head coaching job, his leadership during head coach John Fox's medical leave surely made people start to think of Del Rio in that role again. Recently fired Texans head coach Gary Kubiak shouldn't be out of work for too long, he may have done what he could in Houston and it was time for a change, but that doesn't mean he can't defer to assistants and still lead a pretty solid team. As long as the next head coach isn't a dominating personality, like Shanahan the 'Skins may be okay. Snyder, that means NO JON GRUDEN! But maybe a Jay Gruden . . hmmmmm.

3. Lose the name. I'm all for standing up for what you believe in. I'm all for not giving into public opinion. But even Anthony Weiner has to look into the mirror (without a camera phone) at some point. American Indians are offended by the name Redskins, as they have a right to be. There are 50-names I could think of off the top of my head which would pay respect to Native Americans and keep the spirit of the 'Redskins' alive. The Washington Brave, The Washington 'Skins, anything would be better if a large section of people feel as though your current name is insulting, which they're probably right, you ought to just change it.

Is all of this going to help you if you've picked Robert Griffin as your fantasy quarterback next season? Probably not, but at least it'll prevent Kirk Cousins from selling me a Subway tuna melt 18-months from today.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

See You In The Rafters

June 24th, 1998 - I turned 15, stopped believing females had cooties, began to thumb through my mother's J.C. Penney catalog (bra section) a little slower, and the same day our Boston Celtics would select a small forward from Oakland, California who played his college ball in Lawrence, Kansas with a natural chip on his shoulder.

That player, now 15-year NBA veteran with well over 1,000 games started in Celtic green, a top-20 scorer in the history of the game, an NBA Finals-MVP in hand, has written himself into Celtic lore, the most storied basketball franchise in the game. What more could we have asked from Paul Pierce? Nothing.

I grew up with Paul Pierce. His 15-year career has spanned my years in high school, college, and beyond. In the winter/spring/summer of the 2001-2002 NBA season, a group of friends and I would travel from our freshman years at various institutions of higher learning in the northeast and meet in Boston to see Paul Pierce lead a Celtics band of misfits including the 'Original Creation' Eric Williams, 'Batman' Tony Battie, and fan favorite Antoine Walker to their first Eastern Conference final in seven years. It was then I learned of the true lion of a man that Paul Pierce was.

Down 21-points heading into quarter number four of a tied-up (1-1) conference final, Paul Pierce dropped 19 of his 28 points that night and led the Celtics on a historic comeback toward victory. Pierce stood on the scorers table after the game and just electrocuted the sold out then FleetCenter. I looked to my left as one of my friend's held a ceiling tile he pulled out from the last row of the arena under his right arm, to my right was another friend of mine with Adidas 'shell-tops' spray-painted Celtic green, and there was Paul Pierce running on pure emotion from the legions of Celtics fans roaring around him. That was my Pierce moment, I have the ticket stub to this day, and forever in my mind will be that moment. To me, that was whatever moment my father used to talk about Larry Bird. That was the moment I'd tell my future children, I was on a straight high that no drug could provide, even writing this makes the hair on my arms stand up.

On a personal clip; That same Spring that my high-school friends and I would come back home to hit-up Celtics playoff games, I had experienced the first real loss of my life with the passing of my grandmother, a rock of a woman, Shirley Lynch. So yes, 'The Truth' played a part in both helping me cope with loss but also helping me move on with life.

In 2005, prior to the annual NBA Draft, despite that Pierce was rumoured to be tired with the traditionally young nucleus the Celtics wanted to surround him with, it was Pierce who blocked a potential trade that would have sent him to Portland in exchange for the third-pick overall and veteran Nick Van Exel, a pick which was suspected to ultimately have landed the Celtics current all-stars Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Pierce would ask Celtics brass that they do not trade him because for his frustrations he desperately wanted to remain a Celtic for life, and be part of that team that would eventually raise Banner 17. Now there is a good chance that I'm mis-remembering things, but to me, this is one of the moments that ultimately changes my history as a Celtics fan, so I tend to lean on the side of story than fact. Either way, Celtics fans walked away with a player who had been in a Celtics jersey longer than anyone they remembered.

Then came the summer of 2007. In a series of moves made by general manager Danny Ainge, the Celtics would quickly turn around and change the next six-seasons of the history of the franchise, six-seasons which would outline and define the career of Paul Pierce as a true Boston Celtic. The Celtics would mastermind two-trades, for future hall-of-famers Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The 'trio' of Pierce, Garnett, and Allen would then lead to a historic turn around by the Celtics from a 24-win season in 2007 to a 66-win season a year later, and ultimately an NBA Championship, the first for the franchise since 1986. There are moments during that run that are so personal to me that I can't do justice in words, you'd have to see it on my face to believe how awesome they were.

I was at a Boston Red Sox Sunday afternoon game on May 18th, 2008, still on a high from a World Championship won the previous fall. With a Game 7, of the Eastern Conference Finals looming for my Boston Celtics, I really didn't want to got to a regular season, Sox vs. Brewers game. Just innings into the game, we bailed, and decided if we can't get into the TD BankNorth Garden, worst case scenario we catch the game The Four's. A hot cab later, I stood in front of the Celtics ticket-office with a man explaining to me that a quarter into the game, best he could do was $240.00 a person, and he'd get us into a luxury box, but don't expect anything but the seats. Done. I was going to catch Paul Pierce battle for his shot at an NBA Conference Finals, again.

To me, that day will be trapped in time. The games most talented player, LeBron James, in his fifth season as a professional, would be in the battle of his career at the time. With future Hall of Famers Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett taking back seat, Paul Pierce would assume the driver's seat vs. LeBron James. Pierce would go toe-to-toe with LeBron, point after point, play after play, you weren't beating him, in the house he helped build, on that day. I again allowed the hair on my arms to stand-up, remembered that day in 2002, years earlier, when Pierce stood at the apex and let you all read the name on the front of his jersey, not the back.

So personal to me, that moment eclipses the moment in which Pierce out dueled legendary Laker Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals weeks later and led the Celtics to a 17th NBA Championship, and an NBA Finals MVP to boot. That's how deep his career runs with me. My father and brother can talk about Havlicek and Bird, but can't sniff what I've seen with Paul Pierce.

For years I've told my friends, "I've seen Pierce at the top of the mountain, but I want to be there the day they pull #34 alongside #6, #33, #14, and #17. Because that's where he belongs."

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

One & done this week . . .

Mr. Commissioner, please explain why? Typical apologists of performance enhanced sluggers in Major League Baseball, that we are. However, can't we please just move past this part of 'the game?' Twenty-players the MLB is going to attempt to suspend for suspected performance enhancing drug use, due to their relationship with South Florida 'anti-aging' biochemist Tony Bosch. We know injured Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez is dirty, we've know that for a while now. No one bought that Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun was clean after his failed-test in 2011, despite his winning appeal of the failed-test in 2012. When current Blue Jay and former San Francisco Giant, Melky Cabrera, failed his test and was suspended last season, not a single-person was standing on their soapbox claiming Cabrera's innocence. As for the other 17-players on Mr. Bosch's scribbled notes of whichThe MLB is prepared to use as their reason for suspension, leak their names, let the court of public opinion run wild with it, and move on. No major professional sport from coast-to-coast of The United States is being more vigilant when it comes to performance-enhancing substances, and for good reason, we get it. We're moving on from cyclist Lance Armstrong for crying out loud, and he's a man who might possibly be the worst offender of any professional athlete we've had. What good does it do to have these suspensions looming through the legal process? There are some great things going on in Major League Baseball, but based on news stories like this, you wouldn't know it.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

I've been on board with MTV's The Real World for the better part of my life. Mostly because I just wanted to know what it was like when seven strangers were picked to live in a house and have their lives taped to find out what it's like when people stop being polite and start being real! (Sorry, had to do that.) In all honesty, it's a great show that has really transformed an entire generation and ultimately created the 'reality-television' genre. I'm not sure if that last sentence is a societal win, but we'll take it. Anyway, the most current installment of the series takes place in Portland, Oregon - not to sure why, but it does. Given that I haven't really been invested in the television show since the cast was in Cancun, Mexico back in 2009 and that I'm turning thirty-years old in less than a month, I figured I'd give The Real World: Portland a shot on my DVR. This most recent three-week binge I've taken to catch up on the entire show from this season has been just that, a binge. Watching about eight or nine episodes in a three week period has really got me messed up and left me with some real revelations;

1. What the f*ck?!? You've got to be a special kind of moron to move to Portland, Oregon where chances are you've got to be at least amongst the top five most exciting things going on, and immediately get into a serious relationship with anyone in the actual house. I just want to scream at this kid 'Johnny,' from my home state of Massachusetts to boot, Portland should be your oyster and the odds of you and this girl who resides in Arizona actually making it have got to be slim!

2. I might be a bit too old for this. Go back and read item one, in which I give relationship advice to a kid who is most likely at least six years younger than me and hammered at least five out of every seven days. But seriously, the cast has had at least a half dozen on-air discussions about such topics as race, sexual preference, religion, and how they were brought up. I'm twenty-nine years old and have never had a serious conversation about race, sexual preference, religion, and how I was brought up with any of my friends, let alone people I'd only known for the past three months. Maybe I didn't notice it when I was watching the show and the cast was the same age as me, but is this really what twenty-somethings discuss now? I'll tell you what my college roommates and I discussed; breasts, beer, breasts, and beer. In that order.

3. The employment factor has gone off the tracks. I don't expect the housemates to have a job where they're actually doing something productive for society, also I'd hate to see them have real jobs which actual participating members of society could have. That being said, Portland's cast pretty much does nothing. (2) Of the (7) member cast are fro-yo jockeys selling out of a canteen, and the other (5) are "working" at a pizza place doing tasks which amount to about two hours of work and five hours of sitting around drinking discussing some of their absurd arguments they've had that day. Why can't MTV put them together with a non-profit where they're not making money but are required to go and act appropriately or they get removed from the house.

(I've officially alienated every reader who was out on MTV's The Real World five years ago, my bad.)

Next Thought . . .

LeBron James. Odds are that the NBA's greatest player will will his Miami Heat to a second-straight NBA Championship. While the Indiana Pacers could push the Miami Heat to seven games, I still see a situation in which the Heat are hoisting the Larry O'Brien after San Antonio gives them a run. That being said, no one really likes LeBron. But why?!? He's a friendly guy, probably loves the kids, makes a ton of commercials for non-sneaker stuff, I'll help you out on this one. He took his talents to South Beach, period. Sure, he'll make a ton of moments that he'd hope would erase him sitting on that director's chair at a Boys & Girls club with Jim Gray, but he'll still be wearing that Heat jersey in all those 'new' moments. The Cavaliers, the franchise he left, are on the verge of having their second top pick overall since James left them, and we love them for that! Why? Because we dislike LeBron. Anyone else watch him storming around the court after he fouled out in the Heat vs. Pacers pivotal Game 4? Anyone else think he muttered this sentence, "How dare they call fouls on me, I'm LeBron, LeBron don't foul!" Anyone else think that 'King James' talks about himself in the third person, in fairness very similar to how Kobe calls himself by his nickname when he tweets?!? We'll never like LeBron, and not just in Boston where he squashed any hope that our aging superstars would bring us just one more banner in this run, we'll never like him because he's not likeable on South Beach, and if you don't think that bothers a guy like LeBron, you haven't been watching him! Did Michael ever do a commercial in 'The Barber Shop' with the motive to have us believe he was 'that-guy,' No, he did a commercial where he scored 50 points in wing-tips because he was in the board room moments before!

. . . more on the Spurs later this week!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

Friday Morning Thoughts back at it!

Let's Get After it!

Thoughts and prayers to the people of Oklahoma and specifically Moore, OK. On the real though, it's just flat out sad. No person living in this country of freedom should have to live in constant fear of losing everything in a disaster such as this. Yes, in America we shouldn't be exempt from natural disaster, but this is just a scary way to live and it seems like it is happening more and more. It might be that in this age of social media and unlimited access that we just see the images and hear of the destruction for longer periods of time and in a much more saturated way, yet it still seems like natural disasters are happening much more often. Tornadoes are too scary, they're unforgiving, they're unrelenting, and they leave no real survivors because everyone is ultimately affected in a horrible way by just having the memory of the fear. Be that as it may, our heart really goes out to these people who didn't deserve to have their lives shattered and their faith tested.

Through May 23rd, Major League Baseball has been somewhat of a second thought. Even in baseball rabid New York and Boston, we have the Bruins, Rangers, and till last week the Knicks on our mind. That being said, I've watched a ton of baseball already and two players specifically jump out at me. (Insert your thought on an East Coast Bias.) Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz is having a fantastic Cy Young worthy season. Am I bias? Possibly. The Red Sox have had some success with right-handers from the Lone-Star State, Beckett, Clemens, and now Buchholz. In the ten-starts Buchholz has had this season, the Sox are 9-1 in those outings, with Buchholz recording a 7-0 start through Wednesday. He's allowed two-earned runs or fewer in nine of those ten starts. The more important thing to remember is this; with a 1.73 earned run average, it's going to be Buchholz' responsibility to stop losing streaks and help this short-on-power Red Sox offense get wins. . . . Second player, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. Last year the then 29-year old Cabrera became the first player in 45-years to win the elusive Batting Triple Crown. Even more impressive, he could do it again! Cabrera possesses that undeniable intelligence at the dish that we once reserved for hitters such as former superstar Manny Ramirez. His ability to hit for power, average, and pick-up 'ducks-on-the-pond' whenever possible. A month plus into the season and Cabrera is one home run shy of the American League lead while hitting .391 and has already driven in 55-runs, both good for the lead in either category. Could Miguel Cabrera be both the quietest and most dominant player in Major League Baseball at same time? We think so.

I'm really happy for the original honey badger, former Heisman finalist, defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Sure, all of his problems and off the field issues are self inflicted and part of me still thinks that 'Badger isn't going to be able to stay out of his own way for the better part of his future NFL career. That being said, why can't we be excited that this young man is getting a shot at the next level, and a very good shot for that matter. The Arizona Cardinals went out and picked Mathieu up in the third-round of the April NFL Draft, without seeing him play in game competition in over a year. Mathieu just inked a $662,500 signing bonus (guaranteed money) on top of a his very carefully constructed 4-year deal. Arizona has put provisions in place to protect themselves in the event that the self-diagnosed marijuana addict is suspended by the NFL for drug related violations, well played. The fantastic part about this is what Arizona is doing to help him, they aren't paying him if he goes back to his old ways, they aren't bending over backwards for him, they're putting him in the same defensive backfield as another form LSU star, Patrick Peterson, who will play the mentor role. My point is, all of us loved watching Mathieu play football in college and while I don't actually think he was Heisman worth, he's a player in one way or another and it's good to see that he gets a shot at redemption as we all should at times!

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

We back at it, pour your coffee and bone up on the thoughts inside my dome!

An Oakland Raiders top 10, first-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, former Alabama stand-out linebacker Rolando McClain, has made the rare decision to retire at the age of twenty-three (23). A month after signing with the Baltimore Ravens, McClain has made the decision that with court dates pending on one of his three arrests since December '11, he needs to remove himself from football, something he loves, in order to "get his personal life together." I'm choosing to look at this as a positive for this young man. Over the last twenty-four hours I've heard more than one 'talking-head,' mention that McClain was most likely going to get cut from the Ravens after his most recent arrest, as if that was the reason for his decision to quit, but why go there? I haven't heard anyone mention where McClain came from and his troubled youth which we read about in 2010 when he was an NFL draft prospect, why? McClain grew up in a housing project in Decatur, Alabama, the same city in which he's been arrested all three times in the past 18-months. His mother wasn't allowed near him after a restraining order was issued against her when he was 15-years old when she threatened to kill him with a kitchen knife! As a senior at Decatur High School, McClain's mother who had been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, again made a threat but this time it was to kill everyone in his high-school causing the school to go on lock down. You thought you were embarrassed by your parents in high school when they dropped you off at a dance? None of this really excuses McClain's behavior with the police and his inability to keep his nose clean when he returns to his hometown, but it does help to explain why this young man so often makes poor choices. If in fact Rolando McClain is simply stepping away from the game with the intent on correcting his young life before something worse happens to him, then I'm happy for him. For some, football can be a way to get away from your personal life and really become a better person, but for McClain, it's a sort of catalyst for his bad behavior, I'm guessing. Success in football may have given McClain the feeling of invincibility, the money, the people that come around you, it might have all just been too much for him to control. For a person who has been let down by the people who are meant to be around him for support, his parents, is it really a surprise that McClain would search for that support in the wrong places off the field? For his sake, we really hope everything works out for the best for young Rolando McClain, and while we loved him at Alabama, I never want to see him play football again, because it's just not the best thing for him.

NBC's The Office has finished after nine seasons on air. I'm truly depressed about it. I watch a ton of television, and that has got to be an understatement. Every Thursday since 2005, I've been hooked on The Office, to the point where on multiple trips to NBC's "30-Rock" I've made it a point to stop into the NBC Store and make such ridiculous purchases as a Michael Scott bobble head doll. One-step further, the only argument my wife and I had over our guest list at our 2012 St. Patrick's Day wedding, was her refusal to invite John Krasinski (Jim) and Jenna Fischer (Pam). Side note: In my defense, if you're going to have a wedding start off on the right foot, why not invite the only other couple you've envied over the past ten years?!? To be blunt, this show, a brain child of Ricky Gervais and Ben Silverman, has literally been the best show on network television since Friends. Its entire concept, its methods, its humour, its story, the actors, the guests, everything has been nothing but perfect to me. Steve Carell as Michael Scott will make me laugh every single time I see him. Rainn Wilson is one of the funniest men on television and as Dwight Shrute has made me fall off the couch laughing for nine seasons. After the Heisman Trophy, the only other award I ever wanted to hold was a "Dundie." It's possible that in watching John Krasinski's character Jim, has at times reminded me of myself and my hatred for working for 'the-man' very early on in my career, and that his relationship with his on-screen wife Pam, would be my relationship with my wife, is that crazy?!? I will miss The Office so very much, I've seen every single episode, I've laughed and cried even, I've waited for seasons to come out on DVD just to watch them again. I didn't want the series finale to end last night, and when my wife went to bed as she so often does before me, I watched it all over again just to make sure I didn't miss one thing. If this show doesn't live in for generations, then I don't know what good television is.

Not a hockey fan, admittedly. However, you've got to hand it to overtime-playoff hockey, because it's done right! Edge of your seat, next person to slide the puck around the goalie who is too big for the goal, and the game is over in an instant! 90% of the time, I don't even know if someone scored! Seriously, take the crowd out of it, take the announcer out of it, ask the players not to raise their arms and jump around, and I wouldn't even know if someone scored or didn't. But that's the point! You can't take those things out of it, that's why playoff hockey does it better than anyone else! The fans are banging on the glass, they're on top of the rink! You want to bite your nails off, and I'm not even a 'bite my nails nervous' type of guy! (Seriously though, 'bite your nails' guy isn't getting any chicks!) I don't think my heart can take playoff hockey and that might play into why I'm not a hockey fan. I don't ever even know how a goalie makes a save with so many things going on around him. When the Boston Bruins won an epic game seven earlier this week after being down 4-2 with minutes remaining, I wasn't really impressed by them so much as I was unimpressed with the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie, who cares what his name is. Here's the thing, that guy let up a bunch of goals in like seconds, he turned into a puddle, but how would you do? I could get a major league baseball player to pop-up to the outfield, I even think I could hit a three-pointer in an NBA player's face, just once, but save a goal?!? Not a chance bro! Nevermind that it is coming at you incredibly fast, how about the fact that the puck is the size of a tic-tac and there is at least a half-dozen people in front of you blocking your vision. My thought this morning when I decided to include this little blurb was this, forget the first two and a half periods plus, turn the NHL games on when it's tied up and about to go into overtime, pick a team, then sit on the edge of your couch, it's pretty wild. . .

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

Due to my paying employment requiring more and more of my time as of late, I needed to find a better way to stay more consistent with my postings. For some unknown reason, I'm pretty damn lucid on Friday mornings as well. These developments are what gave birth to: Friday Morning Thoughts. Also, as a precursor to our inaugural Friday Morning Thoughts, I should prepare you that I won't just be covering sports, gaming, and horse racing but also will inject some pop-culture so to speak, in these columns . . .

Let's get after it!

The Summer of Gatsby has officially begun. With today being the release of director Baz Luhrmann's theatrical interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, who isn't thinking about Gatsby! A couple things jump out at me right away; (1) Did the youth of 1925 line-up outside bookstores all over the country awaiting this novel as did our youth for each of the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter books? I'm guessing no, depression and world wars most likely get in the way of that. (2) Are teacher's still assigning this novel on summer reading lists all over the country? If so, I highly advise the children of America to read the book and if you won't do that, at least rent the 1974 Francis Ford Coppola version starring Robert Redford as Gatsby and Law & Order legend Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway. Trust me on this one, Baz Luhrmann's last go at bringing story to the theater was Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, and that wasn't exactly how Bill Shakespeare had hoped his most famous play would be brought to the silver screen. Lastly, this is literally my favorite book ever written and casting DiCaprio as Gatsby in this movie could possibly be the biggest success in cinema this year. Do you recall the last DiCaprio flop? I can't.

I don't see why Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is getting so hot under the collar about people questioning his hot April start in 2013. This is the price that baseball players should pay for having zero conscious when it came to juicing for twenty-five of the last thirty years. Ortiz has had to deal with these suggestions previously, and yes we should all question a man coming back from a serious foot injury who will turn 38-years old in November, that comes out of the shoot hitting 0.67 higher than his career batting average. Look, some things in major professional sports are just never going to pass the smell test and that's a fact. You can't watch pitchers and hitters alike smash every major statistical record of a game which is well over 100-years old for the better part of the last century and just clap your hands blindly. For Ortiz to make such a federal case out of the media questioning his hot start, it makes him look more guilty than ever! Here's the bottom line though, I love David Ortiz, I've loved everything he's done for the City of Boston, the people of New England, and the Boston Red Sox, but there is no way that I'm going to say that he should get a 'pass' because he's a sensitive guy at heart. Grow up Papi.

Do we have to move on from Tim Tebow so quickly? Aren't a couple things still true when it comes to Tebow? For instance, the man who drafted Tebow and believed in him - former Broncos head coach now Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels - he's still coaching in this league. Is he the only man in the league who thought that Tebow could win or at least contribute? What did the former Gator signal caller do that proved he couldn't be that player McDaniels thought he could be? Won a division, won a playoff game, now out of the league? The Jets moved on from Tebow after bringing him on board last year and never giving him a legit shot at the starting job. I'm sorry, but if you are trusting the opinion of Jets owner Woody Johnson, head coach Rex Ryan, and former general manager Mike Tannenbaum, well that's a you problem. Between the three of them, there isn't a sound football mind in the room. We've addressed in previous columns that we think that Jacksonville could most benefit from Tebow, and now their fans don't want him?!? The Jaguars are a terrible franchise, their fans don't even know what winning looks like, but somehow having Tebow under center is a bad thing? The guy wins. If you bring him on board, let him compete and play for the position and he doesn't win you games, you're back in the same position you would have been anyway?!?! I'll never understand the overwhelming criticism of Tebow, no one ever suggested he was a better option than Peyton, Tom, Aaron, or Drew but is he better than Mark Sanchez and Blaine Gabbert? We think so.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

LRN; 2013 1st Round Mock

What else is there to say before we get after it?!?! It's a MOCK NFL DRAFT!


'Git 'em!

1 Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M There are too many smokescreens being bandied about just days before the draft for me to make the other top-tier offensive tackle, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, the pick here. The other opportunity that may still be available to Kansas City would be a trade with Cleveland if the Browns do get worried about another team jumping them for the West Virginia quarterback, only if Kansas City believes one of the top two offensive tackles would still be available to them at pick six.

2 Jacksonville Jaguars - Dion Jordan, DE Oregon This makes the most sense for Jacksonville, they're not a good football team and they need to get players. New Jags head coach Gus Bradley is going to build this team around a speed defense it's what he knows. All the discussion that surrounds them possibly taking whichever offensive tackle remains after the Chiefs pick is bogus, Dion Jordan has been the pick since early March.

3 Oakland Raiders - Sharrif Floyd, DT Florida The Gator defensive stand-out fits best in Oakland and they have to have seen that throughout the process. Floyd can be a leader on that defense and really develop into an elite player in this league. Another team who has been trying to drive up the price because they know Floyd will be there five picks later if he doesn't go here.

4 Philadelphia Eagles - Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan Best possible play here for the Eagles, this is a team who loves the athletic offensive tackle from Oklahoma, Lane Johnson and if they have their choice between the two, I still think they'd like Johnson more than Eric Fisher who might still be available. That being said, the Eagles are the team that Cleveland might use to jump two spots to get their quarterback.

5 Detroit Lions - Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma This pick is Johnson or Fisher whichever is available. Johnson has impressed throughout the draft process just as Central Michigan's Eric Fisher has. A month ago I don't think Johnson was in the top-five but he is now. Each way I mocked the top-five, I can't see Joeckel, Fisher, or Johnson available so long as Cleveland doesn't find a way to jump up.

6 Cleveland Browns - Geno Smith, QB West Virginia Let me be clear, I don't think I've seen a player have so much said poorly about him that DIDN'T involve an off-field issue, throughout this process in some years. With Norv Turner calling the offense in Cleveland, I know Brandon Weeden can't be long for the Browns and Geno Smith has a monster arm, just like Turner's last quarterback, Phil Rivers.

7 Arizona Cardinals - Ezekiel Ansah, OLB BYU Ansah can rush the passer and fill a need the Cardinals have to get after the quarterback, especially in a division that is getting to be very full of young talented quarterbacks. That being said, I really have no idea what the Cardinals plan to do with the pick. If they were really targeting one of, the top-offensive tackles and they're gone, they might stay on the offensive line and bolster it with a guard.

8 Buffalo Bills - Ryan Nassib, QB Syracuse To have your college head coach get an NFL job with a draft selection in the top-ten is really a dream come true for the Syracuse quarterback. Nassib can run Doug Marrone's offense better than any quarterback in this draft and while they're drafting him higher than he should be, they can't risk him not being there in the second round, which he most likely wouldn't be.

9 New York Jets - Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia Boom! Jets snag Austin knowing they have the Revis pick right around the corner. This would be huge for the Jets because so many teams know how good Austin is and aren't sure how they can go up and get him, the Jets will. Tavon Austin gives them a very good player to put on that offense that let's face it, has none.

10 Tennessee Titans - Chance Warmack, G Alabama There are a group of next-tier offensive linemen, be it guards or tackles. that the Titans need to take, either Warmack, his Alabama teammate D.J. Fluker or Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. I've liked Warmack all along and would take him first amongst these three.

11 San Diego Chargers - Jonathan Cooper, G North Carolina This is a good way to stay safe and take a player that has probably slid a little further than he would in most years that didn't have such top tier offensive tackles as this draft does. Cooper can instantly improve an offensive line that needs work.

12 Miami Dolphins - D.J. Fluker, OT/OG Alabama I've routinely questioned Miami and their front-office. I don't know if they have it in them to get that trade for Chiefs tackle Branden Albert done before they pick. If that is the case, they still need to address their offensive line issues and Fluker can play a couple different spots (not left tackle) on their offensive line.

13 New York Jets (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - Dee Milliner, CB Alabama If you would have told me a month ago that the Jets would swing Revis for the 13th overall pick giving them two picks in the top fifteen and one of them would include the best corner in the draft? I'd tell you that they stole him! The injury questions around Milliner are smokescreens to see him drop, and it's worked. Yes, there has to be questions given the injury to his shoulder, but I'm sure Milliner can play in this league and play well!

14 Carolina Panthers - Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas He is essentially the only first-round defensive back I feel completely comfortable picking. Last years first round selection, Luke Kuechly, worked out fairly well for the Panthers who are just two years from landing Cam Newton. Vaccaro helps in a division with the high flying offenses of New Orleans and Atlanta.

15 New Orleans Saints - Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU The Saints have got to be dying at this point if it shakes out like this. Coming so close to landing the safety they've had their eye on only to see the Panthers take him right away, in the same division none the less. Keep Mingo in 'The Bayou' where can be a cornerstone of their rush defense, not a bad consolation prize.

16 St. Louis Rams - DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson The Rams want and need an upgrade for Sam Bradford to throw to, with the departure of Danny Amendola to New England, Hopkins would be that upgrade. Hopkins is a physical player who works very hard at making space for himself, something he'll need to do twice a year against those Seattle cornerbacks.

17 Pittsburgh Steelers - Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia The Steelers need a football player who can replace James Harrison and get after the quarterback. If any of you think they'll pass up on a guy like Jarvis Jones who is a natural football player and gets after it. That being said picking him is going to take a team who isn't concerned about his medical issues, and the Steelers value football players rather than all the reports above than anything.

18 Dallas Cowboys - Sheldon Richardson, DT Mizzou I love this pick for the Cowboys. Richardson will make NFC offensive lines guard him and take pressure off DeMarcus Ware on the outside. In the Cowboys new defensive scheme, Richardson might be a center-piece type for the future. He is great against the double-team and with some growing up could be that at the next level.

19 New York Giants - Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State The Giants love picking defensive ends and are pretty good at it. Werner is super-productive and will only get better and better playing in that defense with players who can make him look even better. Coughlin and Co. are 'that good.'

20 Chicago Bears - Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia I like Ogletree more than most, and obviously Chicago needs to replace Brian Urlacher with a pick here in the early going, at least that is what is expected. Ogletree was a monster at Georgia and is an extremely intelligent football player, however I still get the feeling Chicago fans are the only ones who want Te'o.

21 Cincinnati Bengals - Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama I really like Eddie Lacy and hate the undervaluing of running backs. Behind a very solid offensive line in Cincinnati, I only expect solid things from that offense that looks like it is developing into a pretty productive machine behind Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.

22 St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) - Eric Reid, S LSU If the Rams walk out of the first-round and their two picks were Reid and Hopkins, I'd be satisfied, they improved the defense with a big hitter in Reid and landed DeAndre Hopkins to help out the offense, I'd be fine with Eric Reid but would have wanted Vaccaro to slide to flip where I picked the two of them.

23 Minnesota Vikings - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee After parting ways with Harvin, it is no secret that Minnesota needs to add another play maker at the wide receiver position. I would much rather DeAndre Hopkins and Tavon Austin but Patterson is the next best thing and that has to be the Vikings main goal.

24 Indianapolis Colts - Desmond Trufant, CB Washington Trufant is the best second best corner in this draft and he'd be the best remaining player on the board at this point. The Colts absolutely want to get better in their secondary and Trufant would be able to make an impact very quickly.

25 Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks) - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina I'm sure there a few teams that would like Williams to stuff the run, unfortunately it's his future teammate Adrian Peterson who would need to be the back to be stopped. Williams is a big mean who several teams might reach up and go get if he is still sitting there at twenty-five.

26 Green Bay Packers - Tank Carradine, DE Florida State Carradine will give the Packers production on their defensive line, production that rushes the pass and maks it difficult for Minnesota's offense to move and even more so for Detroit to get time to air it out to Calvin Johnson.

27 Houston Texans - Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee Hard to see the Texans make a move for another pass catcher after they've been able to count on Andre Johnson for so long, but he isn't getting any younger. For what Hunter lacks on the field, there can be no better mentor than a player like Andre Johnson, and look it gives Schaub another big weapon.

28 Denver Broncos - Datone Jones, DE/DT UCLA Let's face it, the Broncos need to fix what they lost in Dumervil. Datone Jones is a very good pass rusher and will excel with Denver, don't expect him to give you what Dumervil did, but he's a good replacement.

29 New England Patriots - Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State The third Seminole picked already, and you wondered why the 'Noles looked like they were back for the first time in years! Patriot fans could only get so lucky that they've finally picked a corner back who has the potential to be elite at the next stage, and that corner is Rhodes. The player is really good but even more so than that, he's awfully smart and should be able to pick up NFL schemes right away.

30 Atlanta Falcons - D.J. Hayden, CB Houston Strictly a needs thing for Atlanta, they don't have the bullets to move up in the draft and get a player they may covet more, but Hayden is no slouch. Atlanta has holes in their secondary and cannot risk NOT to address them.

31 San Francisco 49ers - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah Do I actually think that Lotulelei is going to be there at 31? I doubt it, highly, but based on what has transpired in our mock draft, he's available and San Francisco wouldn't let him go out of the first round, he's a talent too good.

32 Baltimore Ravens - Matt Elam, S Florida Ozzie Newsome wants Urlacher in Baltimore, so that leaves Te'o out of a job, and out of the first round. Actually there are a number of players that would have slid at this point other than Te'o. Zach Ertz, the Stanford tight-end who is a first-round talent, Justin Pugh the Syracuse offensive tackle, and the massive Margus Hunt from SMU. My point? Baltimore is going to let someone jump into this round and take a player they need who has made the fall. That being said, Elam is good enough to replace the production lost by Bernard Pollard and even with all the losses the defending champs have had, they'd shape up very well. . . .

Follow-us throughout the entire first round of the NFL Draft for up-to-date commentary on Twitter!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thoughts And Prayers

I debated whether or not to address the events of April 15th at the running of the 117th Boston Marathon in words. My good friend slash co-host of TheRightNowPodcast and I spoke at length last Tuesday night in podcast form addressing our scrambled, confused, angry, and frustrating thoughts. After all which has transpired over the last week however, there are still too many emotions running through my mind to not let it out.

I've lived in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts for thirty years and have never really felt afraid, and while the home my wife and I share is forty-miles west of Watertown, Massachusetts, I didn't feel safe till the second suspect in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings was in the custody of law enforcement. Does putting the entire city and state in a moment of fear mean these two suspected terrorists did what they set-out to do? I do not believe so. How can a terrorist feel as though success has occurred when volunteers, not just first-responders and law enforcement, but volunteers and every-day persons don't sprint away from explosions and watch their fellow-Americans expire, but turn and run directly into the unknown willing to risk their lives for another? To those people, fear was a fleeting moment, to those people the word bravery just isn't enough. Were they scared? Of course. Did that terror bring out the best in them? Absolutely.

Along with an act of terrorism, this was a complete act of cowardice. You allegedly accept our public assistance in the form of welfare, you go to our schools, you live in our cities, you befriend our people, then you do this? You are cowards. You rip families apart, you take young lives, you shatter the dreams parents have for their children. You are cowards. What about your own? Your family. How do you expect them to process this? To leave them with immense confusion and bewilderment, how do you do that? You are cowards. No matter what you've felt or feel about our people, you have made no statement to be proud of by your actions. You've only furthered our belief of what our people are. We are together in a country contrived like no other and when dismay happens around us on any level, we move together, stronger, and proceed.

I don't dare to speculate on how events like this in the future can be thwarted. We'll never fully know, and for our protection, how the FBI investigates the hundreds of thousands of people on their watch list. We don't know what exactly goes on in a terrorists mind when he believes something good will come out of taking the lives of the innocent. Furthermore, at what point in these men's lives did they believe their life was better the way it currently is? One dead, the other about to spend the rest of his years at the very least locked in a cage. Are incidents like this isolated? I'm sure the people who protect us everyday, law enforcement, federal, state, and local, are stopping events everyday that we are not privy to, and I'll continue to put my faith and life in their hands based on what I've seen over the last seven days. As for what we, the average person, can do to help prevent these events? I just don't have the answer.

I appreciate any of you who read this and our thoughts and prayers at LynchyRightNow go out to everyone whose lives will forever be altered. For those who would like to donate to the victims of these atrocities, select TheOneFund here. Thank you.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Just Push >>>

Really though?!?! Are we all in agreement that we want a Heat vs. Thunder re-match?!?! I'm good with that for the next two years after this, book it!

Okay, okay, so part of me wanted a Knicks vs. Celtics match-up in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but not this way, not with that M*A*S*H unit that has become the 2013 Celtics. While we're on the topic of the Eastern Conference, call me when Derrick Rose is back. LeBron James is (excuse me while I choke-up), unstoppable. The Heat are going to cruise through the 'ECP', and they 'gon make it look real easy my friends.

As for the Western Conference, I too like San Antonio, and I love that Coach 'Pop' is definitely in the Phil Jackson conversation and he didn't have to be an arrogant prick to get there, but the Spurs run is over, it's Durant and Oklahoma City's conference playoffs to lose. No?!? 3-1 vs. the Lakers, their probable first round-matchup this season and you thought Durant's throat-slashing gesture was on for the Warriors on Thursday night?!? That was for the entire state of California, the Warriors, the Lakers, the Clippers and even the Maloofs. The residual effects on the rest of The League from Miami's winning streak coupled with the way Oklahoma City is playing, do you doubt what I'm saying?

Who are we dismissing? Really?

The Spurs; Their best record in the NBA in 2012 didn't help them reach The Finals. Up 2-0 to Oklahoma City a year ago, the younger more explosive Thunder ripped off four-straight wins to reach earn the Western Conference title. Letting the Rockets Jeremy Lin go off for 38 in early December, splitting four with the younger Clippers, I won't forget Memphis handling them two years ago as an eight-seed either. Sorry Pop.

The Rockets & Nuggets; At some point in the postseason you've got to actually play defense, which the Rockets and Nuggets don't do. Both teams can push the scoreboard and that really works in the regular season. However, in the postseason things get slightly different. Yes, James Harden & Co. will go off off four 110 a couple times and win a few games, but are they going to be able to stop a team like Oklahoma City in seven games? (2) Twenty+ point losses to Oklahoma City and (1) three-point win proves just that. The Nuggets on the other hand, not only do they play poor defense but you attempt to point out the player on that team who is going to take over a game in the playoffs?!? Exactly.

The Clippers; The 'Clips can run, they're 'LOB City' for crying out loud, but really, do you think that the Pacific Division champs are going to add an NBA Championship two years after winning just 32 games? Why does that matter? Because, it's the NBA where parody does not exist. Since the 1979-1980 NBA season, a span stretching 33-years, only nine organizations have won an NBA title. This would be an issue for the young Clippers led by The League's best guard, Chris Paul. Oh, and they're 0-3 against Oklahoma City this season.

The Pacers & Bulls; Indiana can't win on the road and they were eliminated when Danny Granger went down for the season last month. I love what the Bulls did with an injured Noah and no Rose when they snapped Miami's near-record setting win streak last month, and while they play fantastic defense, it won't be enough to beat Miami in a seven-game series, it's just not enough. If Derrick Rose was healthy, it'd be a different conversation.

The Knicks; They're going to hit the postseason at the right speed that is for sure. In the first-round they're going to get the banged up Celtics who haven't been the same since their loss to Miami back on March 18th, losing 9 of their last 13. Carmelo Anthony has been averaging nearly 39-points a night in April, while the Knicks have been scoring 100+ in ten of their last eleven games. However, 'Melo's playoff record leaves something to be desired and because of that, I'm not moving chips to the center of the felt on that guy.

As the title of this post reads, let's Just Push >>> and get to Oklahoma City vs. Miami as soon as possible, you and I both know there can be no other eventual 2013 NBA Finals. . .

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Can Winning Cure All?

It's a valid question, right?!?! Can winning change how the conversation on you starts? Admittedly, you'll almost always come with a 'but' following the initial statement, then again, how much winning can determine the rhetoric spoken about you? In the wake of golf mega-star Tiger Woods' most recent victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, we are forced to answer that first question.

Tiger's sixth-first place finish in the last 365+ days has elevated him back to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings. Immediately, those of us who pine to see the most dominant and successful athlete in his sport, during the post-Jordan era, begin to pump his fists in victory as he roars up the 18th fairway on Sundays, become over-excited. We want nothing more than to move 'all-in' with him. We push aside any negative comments which are made from the most important women in our lives regarding his personal failures as both a husband and a father. Those remarks from women who are our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and anyone else for that matter, are dismissed as we edge up on our couches hoping Tiger will win.

In a moment we forget how meek Tiger Woods looked during his 2010 over-publicized, sex-scandal mea culpa. We excuse that he hasn't won a major golf championship since 2008. We dismiss 23-year old rising star Rory McIlroy in nearly an instant, despite his two major championship wins in the last two years. Why?

It's possible that there is just unfinished business with Tiger Woods and his fans. Tiger was supposed to become the most celebrated golfer of all-time, and you and I were supposed to be able to watch him chase down Jack Nicklaus and his 18-major championship victories. Tiger was to be untouchable. He had won like Michael. He had done for golf what Michael had done for hoops. Then that all came crashing-down around him. The butt of jokes, the injuries, the divorce, the scandal, his inability to return to former greatness being paramount, you can pick, but the bottom line was that Tiger had become 'touchable.'

However, you and I still have to answer the question for ourselves. If Tiger is to slip on his fifth 'Green Jacket,' en' route to winning his fifteenth major golf championship next weekend in Augusta, will winning really have cured all?

The answer is yes.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Who's Cooler Than Joe?

Newly minted Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco, just completed the greatest postseason of any Super Bowl winning quarterback in the 2000's, now what do you have to say? Zero interceptions in 126-passing attempts, that's seven fewer Peyton threw in 2006. A 117.2% QB passer rating over four games, better than Drew in '09, Aaron in '10, and Eli in 2011. Eleven touchdown passes, that's four more than Ben in '05 and six more than Tom in '04.

Got anyone else we've forgotten to cover? For the non-believers who'd still like to squeeze him into the Dilfer/Johnson category, and we mean no disrespect to either of them, but you all are reaching. Let's just put it all to bed now, over four games free-agent to be Joe Flacco just made himself upwards of $100-million dollars and earned the respect of everyone across the entire country.

Since parting ways with the only other Super Bowl winning quarterback to wear a Ravens jersey (Trent Dilfer), Baltimore fans suffered through the likes of Elvis Grbac, a beyond-his years Randall Cunningham, Jeff Blake, Chris Redman, Anthony Wright, Kyle Boller, the late Steve McNair, and Troy Smith, all culminating in the firing of former head coach Brian Billick. However, since selecting Joe Flacco 18th overall in 2008, the Ravens and their legions of fans have never looked back. Flacco has started every game under center (91 straight-including postseason starts), became the greatest passer in Ravens team history, and solidified the position under center for the Ravens foreseeable future.

With all that being said, the most impressive thing which Joe Flacco accomplished last night was a more symbolic moment than anything else. While standing atop the championship podium, side-by-side with Raven legends Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Joe Flacco ripped hold of this defense-first franchise of the past 12-years and made it his. At some point during this postseason, whether it was the moments between Ray Lewis' final time-out in Charm City and Joe Flacco out-playing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in their own buildings, Baltimore became his. Flacco never showed that he was frustrated with the critics and maybe he never was, it's possible that Joe Flacco only needed the men in that locker room. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis placing their individual faith in Flacco, and Joe Flacco in return finally helping Ed Reed get his first Super Bowl ring, and sending Ray Lewis out in style.

For that, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is going to open his check book and Joe Flacco has earned every nickel he's going to get paid.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Welker Out In New England

With unfortunate big-game drops adding up and his free agency looming, Wes Welker may have caught his last meaningful pass from future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. After six very successful seasons in Foxborough, could it be time the staunch New England Patriots and Welker part ways? We think so.

By the start of the 2013-2014 NFL season, free-agent wide receiver Wes Welker will be 32-years old. Despite playing in 14+ games in each of his eight seasons, the Patriots would still be committing themselves to someone who isn't young anymore. Can you remember the last time the Patriots made a player the highest paid at his position, when they were over 30-years old?!?! A second-straight season tagged as franchise player would push Welker's salary from $9.5 million in 2012 to $11.4 million in 2013. If the Patriots wanted to pay Welker nearly $21 million dollars over two seasons, they would have made that offer to him at the end of last season.

What is Welker's real value?!? True, with Wes Welker the Patriots know what they're getting; 112 receptions, 1,244 yards receiving, and 4 to 9 end zone trips
per season. However, let's not pretend like the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick weren't trying out their 26-year old wide receiver/return man/utility offensive weapon Julian Edelman to fill the Welker shoes for the first three weeks of the seasons, it was obvious. We're not saying that Edelman is Welker, but with an increased work-load, couldn't he be a cheaper similarly effective player?

In 2012, the Patriots weren't really able to display their two tight-end attack with both (under contract) heavy hitting tight-ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski sustaining injuries and missing considerable time this season. Drafting both running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley in 2011 seems to have worked out and given them a running attack that is pretty solid. An all-world signal caller, healthy pass catching tight-ends and two consistent running backs, wouldn't we all agree that the Patriots offense is not going to be noticeably different without Welker.

All this being said, when it comes to the New England Patriots and their now seven-season Super Bowl drought, is the offense what the organization and the fans should be most concerned about? When mid-season acquisition, cornerback Aqib Talib, goes down in the AFC Championship the Ravens jumped all over the New England secondary. The most dominant franchise of the last twenty years was hinging their Super Bowl hopes on a cornerback they acquired midway through the 2012 season, a cornerback with a lengthy history of off-the-field issues and marginal NFL success. Yet somehow, Wes Welker should be their main priority?

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Update: NFL Draft Chatter

With two weeks to go, we've got to find something to fill up our time. A slew of NFL prospects have descended upon Mobile, Alabama for the Senior bowl, so we're going to get after it with some NFL Draft chatter!

Get After It!

Manti Te'o, LB Notre Dame What could be a better week to discuss the draft prospects of Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o?!? 2013 Hasn't been a good year for Te'o. He looked terrible during the BCS National Championship game. Te'o missed tackles, got roughed up by each of Alabama's NFL ready interior offensive linemen, and rarely looked like the player who was invited to New York as a Heisman finalist. If that wasn't bad enough, the scandal involving his supposedly deceased 'girlfriend', has exploded onto the front pages burying all other headlines this past week, including the NFL Conference Championship games taking place today. Without going into the
awkward, embarrassing, and superbly sorted details, Te'o basically carried on a committed relationship with a woman he'd never met in person. A woman who was part of a hoax to dupe the star linebacker as she faked her own death earlier this past fall leading everyone from South Bend to Honolulu to believe that Te'o was playing with a deeply emotional burden for the remainder of this season. Here's the point, you've read this far about Manti Te'o and we've yet to talk about how well he played during his time at Notre Dame. Smoke weed, get bumped to the second round of the draft. Have an online-girlfriend who fakes her own death, get bumped to . . . sorry, there hasn't been a precedent for this. He was incredibly consistent throughout his career in college, and will probably be a solid pro, but we don't believe he belonged on stage with Johnny Maziel and Colin Klein, the hype is absolutely bigger than the skill. Te'o should be a top inside linebacker taken, but I doubt we are talking about anything but his poor play in the National Title game and his off-the-field scandal going forward.

Teams targeting: Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers

Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina Sometimes you've got to get while the gettin' good. Two-year Tar Heel rusher Giovani Bernard is splitting from Chapel Hill with everything going his way. In back-to-back seasons, Bernard was fairly consistent rushing for 1,200+ yards and hitting the endzone 12+ times in both 2011 and 2012. Back in early October, the sophomore gashed Virginia Tech for 262-yards averaging 11.4 per carry, putting the ACC on notice. By years end Giovani Bernard would be named to the 2012 ALL-ACC 1st team as a running back and as a return specialist on special teams. In our opinion, Bernard can be likened to the quickness and explosive speed of rookie running back and fellow ACC alum, David Wilson, who came on late in his rookie season in the Giant backfield. Bernard has the potential to be the first running back taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, with open field speed and the ability to break-free in space, expect more than one team with a running back need to jockey into position to select him.

Teams targeting: San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Atlanta Falcons

Stepfan Taylor, RB Standford The Cardinal senior is a brusier of a running back destined to be a three-to-four down back at the next level. While North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, and Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle have the highlight tapes, Stepfan Taylor is the steal of the running back class. His role in the Stanford offense increased each year, from getting eighty more carries and sixteen more receptions in 2012, to hitting the endzone on the ground 13 times this season, Stepfan was a monster piece of Stanford's recent success onto the National stage. Taylor measured up close to six-feet and just under 220 lbs. at the Senior Bowl on Monday, given him the NFL size he'll need. Playing in the same offense as four-players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft's first 50 selections, Taylor's game was dramatically under looked. Even with the loss of offensive linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, the Stanford running back averaged nearly five-yards per carry again this season. 153-Yards vs. USC, 161-yards vs. Oregon, and 189-yards vs. California, it's safe to say Stepfan Taylor has the ability to put up major numbers on Saturdays, now it's time to see how he'll fair on Sundays.

Teams targeting: New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Green Bay Packers

Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas The Longhorn defensive back is either 1 or 1A when it comes to the safety position. His last two years in Austin have been for sure standout years. Watch ten minutes of film on the 6'1" safety out of Brownwood and three things are for sure: (1) He's got tremendous closing speed. Just ask West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin, who got chased down by Vaccaro on an end around earlier this season. (2) He's an absolutely fantastic tackler who always seems to be in the right position to break down the ball carrier. At one point we even saw him take down Heisman finalist Colin Klein, who has ten pounds and four-inches on the Texas safety. And (3) he can seriously hit. Ole' Miss quarterback Bo Wallace felt that pain when he chose to keep the ball on an option and got lit up by the Texas safety who came out of nowhere to drop the hammer. In an NFL where offenses like San Francisco's 'pistol' offense has lead them to the Super Bowl and more athletic quarterbacks like Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, Washington's Robert Griffin, and of course the 49ers Colin Kaepernick are taking over, NFL teams will need tacklers and bruising defensive backs like Kenny Vaccaro to make their presence felt. Expecct an NFC East team to make an early move for a player like Vaccaro.

Teams targeting: Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys

Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State When it comes down to Xavier Rhodes, people are only going to question the conference he played in. Here's what I have to say about that; He never played against SEC speed as did his counterparts, Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks and Alabama's DeMarcus Milliner, that's it. Look, Rhodes is a terrific player with a ton of ability. The Florida State defense gets a ton of pass rush headed by All-American Bjoern Werner, and defensive backs like Xavier Rhodes really benefit from that. That being said however, he has a knack for playing close to receivers and making plays on the ball as soon as it goes up. He's a very intelligent player who took to Mark Stoops' defense as well as any other. We're not trying to down play the player, but the jury is still out and we look forward to seeing how he'll develop over the next few months and move up draft boards after the combine.

Teams targeting: New York Giants, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans

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Previously Broken Down: December 29th, 2012

Da'Rick Rogers, WR Tennessee Tech
Barrett Jones, OL Alabama
Johnthan Banks, DB Mississippi State
Alec Olgetree, LB Georgia
Joseph Randle, RB Oklahoma State

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chip Weekend: Pick 'Em!

Baltimore(4) @ New England(2) - AFC Championship

It's the #Rayoffs in Foxborough, Massachusetts, what could be better?!?!? I can think of one thing; Manning vs. Brady. Unfortunately, the match up that seemed predetermined heading into the postseason took a slightly different turn last weekend. The Baltimore Ravens and fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco had other plans as they shocked the Denver Broncos and their all-world signal caller Peyton Manning. The 6'6" Flacco continued his postseason assault by completing eighteen passes for 331-yards. Through two-games, Flacco has remained interception free while tossing five touchdown passes. Sure to have earned him major money this offseason as he hits free-agency, Flacco's work isn't done just yet.

The New England Patriots meet Flacco in the AFC Championship, the seventh time the Patriots have reached this point while in the Brady/Belichick era. The Patriots pushed aside any doubt that their earlier 40-spot on the once vaunted Texans defense was a fluke. Brady and Co. tuned up Houston one more time hanging another 40+ points on Houston and sending the Texans packing. In typical Patriot fashion, they overcome the early departure of tight-end Rob Gronkowski due to injury and non-primary rusher Shane Vereen finds the end zone three times and gives both the Baltimore Ravens and the eventual NFC Champion just another weapon to try to defend.

The Ravens and Patriots are no strangers to each other and more than one firework is going to go off in Foxborough on Sunday. As the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick attempt to take their third shot at a fourth Super Bowl Championship since 2002 the Ravens are attempting to complete the career of no-doubt Hall of Famer, linebacker Ray Lewis, with a second Super Bowl Championship. Time to put our money where our mouth is; Vegas obviously has an issue with our man Joe Flacco, and by issue I mean Vegas has a problem with the 1-4 finish the Ravens ended the regular season with. Patriots advance, but we'll take the points. Ravens +8

San Francisco(2) @ Atlanta(1) - NFC Championship

Has anyone stopped talking about Jim Harbaugh and his mid-season call to replace serviceable quarterback Alex Smith with what has become the face of the 49ers in second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick?!?! Has there ever been a more disrespected top seed than the host Atlanta Falcons?!?! That pretty much sums up all the analysis you've heard up till now, however, we're here to tell you something slightly different.

Falcons 5th-year quarterback Matt Ryan, accurately nick-named 'The Mattural' has not only won his first playoff game as a starting quarterback in the NFL, but also led the Falcons to a 13-win season, a franchise which seemed to be in dis-repair when he showed up in the ATL. Who says it isn't his time? Correct me if I'm wrong, but he did complete two monster passes to put his field goal kicker in position to win last weeks playoff game against a Seattle team coming off six straight wins, right? Ryan and the Falcons posted thirteen wins as previously mentioned with a rushing attack that ranked just twenty-ninth in the league, so they've go to be doing something right. Twenty-two game winning drives in five seasons? 33-6 at the Georgia Dome? Yep, keep doubting the kid.

Then again, the Falcons will be playing a team that just deflowered the Packers 45-31. A nasty, terrifying defense. A game changing second year quarterback with unlimited talent. A head coach who will stop at nothing to ensure his team advances to the next level evidenced by his mid-season Kaepernick change. All that being said, don't Falcons fans deserve this? The Mike Vick years being a wash, the tough losses to Green Bay and New York in recent years, haven't the Falcons paid the piper? While I'd never want to see Patrick Willis looking ofr me in a dark alley, we're still going out on a limb here. F*ck the points, Falcons outright. Falcons +4

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Before The Big Dance

With everything out of the way and nothing lying in front of us but The Big Dance between (1) Notre Dame and (2) Alabama, there is still some clearing of the air that needs to be done. From coaches thinking about leaving to coaches doing some leaving, from players on the rise to players at the celing. As a mixture of the NFL and the NCAA collide . . .

Let's get after it!

Is Andy Reid in KC a wise choice?

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has survived not one but two four-win seasons, with his illustrious 79-80-1 head coaching record in play, even he is held in somewhat high-regard amongst his peers. To answer your question however, I absolutely think recently (as recent as Monday) fired Eagle head coach Andy Reid is a safe move for the Kansas City Chiefs. For every Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, there are twenty Steve Spurrier's and Nick Saban's whose coaching styles just don't work at the next level. Caveat Emptor on Chip Kelly.

Was O'Brien ever leaving Penn State?

6'4" 212 lb. Christian Hackenberg is the consensus top quarterback recruit in the country and Penn State is coming off an 8-4 season, so no, I'm not surprised that first-year Nittany Lion head coach Bill O'Brien isn't leaving Happy Valley for Cleveland. Oh, and that's be the biggest a**hole jump by a head coach in the history of collegiate athletics, especially after Hackenberg and a dozen-or-so other recruits agreed to take O'Briens word that he was at State College of Pennsylvania for the long haul.

After the Cotton Bowl are we finally fans of 'Johnny Heisman?'

Aggie super-quarterback Johnny Manziel may not be next-level, but he's pretty damn good at this level. The answer is yes, we are definitely fans of Manziel at LynchyRightNow. Look, you'll hear it more than once over the next few days, Manziel didn't miss a beat from the moment his 'star' took off on the night of December 8th to the moment he strolled onto the field at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night. He's as advertised. He's a leader. He's flat out exciting to watch. Manziel torched the Oklahoma Sooners in a 41-13 laugher. Two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, over 500+ yards of total offense, all against a legitimate Top 20 team from a BCS conference. Now just one question remains, over-under on additional Heisman Trophies?

Which player improved his NFL stock most during 'Bowl Season?'

This is a two-way tie for us.

(1) Georgia QB, Aaron Murray The under-sized Bulldog quarterback needed to follow-up his solid play in the SEC Championship with a good performance in the Capital One Bowl. His poor play earlier this season on the road against South Carolina, just 11 of 31 passing, coupled with rough outings vs. LSU and in the Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State last season had begun to define Murray as a soft big-game quarterback. Murray walked out of Orlando after throwing five-touchdown passes and leading Georgia to a 45-31 victory over Nebraska with that signature win. Finishing his junior campaign in electric fashion just might push Murray toward the NFL foregoing his final season in Athens.

(2) South Carolina DE, Jadeveon Clowney I'm no different than anyone else in terms of rapid reaction. When I say that Jadeveon Clowney's bone crunching hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the final minutes of the Outback Bowl was the greatest college football defensive play I've ever seen, I'm serious. Now Clowney is just two-years removed from high school so he won't be eligible to bolt Columbia, SC for the NFL just yet, but barring an injury it's going to be difficult for NFL teams to forget that hit and his play as a sophomore. We firmly believe that the reigning SEC Defensive Player Of The Year and Ted Hendricks Award winner (best defensive end in the country) winner is going to be in line to clean-up nearly every defensive player award in college football at this time next year.

Which college coach would you like for an NFL team?

Without hesitation, it'd be current Louisville head coach Charlie Strong. He's one of our favorite coaches in college football and you can tell the players around him would run through a brick wall for the guy. Strong has coached all over college football from Oxford, Gainesville, and Columbia, to College Station, South Bend, and now Louisville. This is a guy who had to wait his turn for more than enough time to get a shot at running a college football program he could call his own. This season, his third at Louisville, Strong led the Cardinals to a BCS bowl victory over Florida in upset fashion. With next-level coaches, we are looking for two distinct attributes; (1) Can you get buy-in and (2) Are you okay with 'them' being bigger than you? Strong does both of those things.

Finally, Who you got on Monday night?!? 'Bama or the Irish?

I don't see Notre Dame getting waxed that's for certain. You know all the parties, Notre Dame has a very good defense that doesn't give up points easily, in fact they give up the fewest points amongst defenses in college football (10.3 ppg). They're elite, most notably holding the Stanford offense to just 13-points, a Stanford offense which includes 1,500 yard rusher Stepfan Taylor in the backfield. That's the type of attack that the Irish will face on Monday night.

The Alabama offense averages close to forty-points per game with not one but two running running backs who have both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy pound defenses changing speeds and driving the ball up field, with a loaded offensive line in front of them. Junior quarterback AJ McCarron remains to play close to flawless football, tossing only three interceptions this season, two of which came in the Crimson Tide's sole loss to Texas A&M. The legend that has become linebacker Manti Te'o will have his hands full leading the Irish defense against an Alabama team that has become pretty comfortable playing on the games biggest stage. I'm going to go against popular opinion, I like the Irish in a tight one!

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