Monthly Archives: November 2016

Browns coach Mike Pettine says Johnny Manziel is doing better

Last year, the Cleveland Browns sent their fans into a state of ecstasy when they selected Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Unfortunately for the Browns, Manziel was an utter train wreck in his rookie season. After several off-the-field incidents, Manziel recently took the admirable step of checking himself into rehab.

At the NFL Combine Wednesday, Browns head coach Mike Pettine gave a brief update on Manziel’s Jimmy Graham Authentic Womens Jersey progress. “I did go to visit him last week. I’ll keep details of that private,” Pettine said. “We’re proud of him for the decision he made to go in.

“He has our full support,” Pettine added. “He’s in a much better place than he was before he went in and he’s determined to come out of it.”

This past season, the former Texas A&M star could not beat out Brian Hoyer for the quarterback job and only started two games, throwing zero touchdowns with a pair of interceptions. The concern about Manziel heading into the draft were his off-field habits with many suggesting the Heisman Trophy winner enjoys a good time. Manziel lived up to that reputation after his selection, spotted in Vegas rolling up a $20 bill in a bathroom, among many other late-night adventures. He then got in trouble before Week 17 for holding a party the night before a walkthrough, ultimately missing the practice.

Now it appears that Manziel is trying to get his life on track, but the Browns are still faced with Jon Ryan Authentic Womens Jersey a tough decision. Is Manziel the future of the franchise or a colossal mistake?

Pettine said that because of all the uncertainty surrounding the Browns’ quarterback situation, it was “probably accurate” to suggest they will look for another signal caller in the offseason, though he didn’t specify whether it would be through the draft or free agency.

Moving on from Manziel would not be easy. Manziel was seen as the savior in Cleveland, giving a city hope after so many years of futility. The team invested a first-round pick in him and is unlikely to trade him after such a bad showing in 2014. The Browns will not cut Manziel either, because if they do, the dead money outweighs his salary until 2017. Having Manziel on the bench would be highly uncomfortable, but perhaps something Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer would live with.

Regardless, the top priority for Manziel right now has to be his well-being, and that, at least, seems to be improving.

He’s the faceoff man for the Predators’ top unit that includes Ryan Johansen, James Neal, P.K. Subban and Roman Josi

First off, his six power-play points are tied for 33rd in the NHL — and he’s missed four games this season. Guess who else has six power-play points while missing a bunch of games? Sidney Crosby has the same power-play Larry Csonka Authentic Womens Jersey points as Fisher in one fewer game. Kris Letang has the exact same six power-play points in 15 games as Fisher. In fact, aside from Crosby, Letang and Ryan Getzlaf, all 47 players with at least six power-play points this season have played at least three more games than Fisher.

He’s the faceoff man for the Predators’ top unit that includes Ryan Johansen, James Neal, P.K. Subban and Roman Josi. He’s not going to win you your league, but let’s give his specialty stats some love. Fisher is higher on the ESPN Player Rater this season for fantasy hockey success than guys like Joe Thornton, David Krejci, Brandon Saad and Filip Forsberg (the guy whose power-play role he usurped).

Back to the overall power-play chances for a few more notes:

If the Calgary Flames ever get things flowing under new coach Glen Gulutzan, watch out. They are tied for the fourth-most chances this season and they finished with the sixth-most chances last season. Unfortunately at the moment, they are lost on the man advantage with just a 9.5 percent success rate.

The Stars could be a source of improvement in the near future. As mentioned, they are tied with the Lightning for the most chances, but are 14th in the league for power-play percentage. The Stars have also been dealing with several injuries to key personnel from a power play that was fourth best in the NHL last season. Get ready for Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg to have a big December.

Remember how we mentioned the Coyotes had the most chances in the league last season? And by a Leonte Carroo Authentic Womens Jersey fair margin? They are second-last in opportunities this season to the Blue Jackets. Whether they trend up or not is debatable, but with plenty of returning players in key roles, one might suspect they are due for a run of power-play chances at some point soon. Such a result would certainly do wonders for the stagnant fantasy value of Max Domi, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Martin Hanzal and others.

A busy enough week will see 11 teams with a four-game schedule, but only one with a two-game week. The Washington Capitals are the lone team with a light week, but you still have to start Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin in weekly formats — especially with the New York Islanders as one of the opponents. That said, we understand if no one else on the squad makes the cut. But we’ll just say one word in favor of Kuznetsov here, who was back on the power play this past week and had his best game of the season on Wednesday. Maybe the slump is over?

The Giants had spent the second half the season stealing signs

As legend has it, Dressen called down again to the bullpen. “They’re both ready,” Sukeforth said. “However, Erskine is bouncing his overhand curve.” Dressen went to the mound and signaled for Branca. Two pitches later, Thomson homered.

After the game, Dressen was asked why he brought in Branca. “Sukeforth said he was ready,” Dressen answered.

Did Thomson know what was coming? Maybe. The Andrew Hawkins Womens Jersey Giants had spent the second half the season stealing signs. As Paul Hirsch writes,

In January 2001, Joshua Prager, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, published the details of a sign-stealing scheme the Giants rigged in the Polo Grounds, their home ballpark. The scheme involved a telescope from windows in the center-field clubhouse, a buzzer rigged under dirt in the bullpen, and a reserve catcher positioning his body and equipment to tip off the batter as to which pitch was coming. Prager’s story confirmed for the public what Branca had been told by his
Detroit Tigers

That’s when everything started to change. Ray’s average fastball went from 92.4 mph in 2014 to 94.4 mph in 2015 — the league’s biggest jump that year — and to 95.3 mph in 2016. Velocity isn’t destiny, but Ray’s leap was striking and unexpected. He now throws harder than Clayton Kershaw, than David Price, than every left-handed starting pitcher except James Paxton. He all but junked the perpetually-in-progress changeup in 2016, leaning more on a slider that had the eighth-best whiff rate among starters.

The results were staggering. Two years ago, Ray struck out fewer than seven batters per nine innings in Triple-A. This year, he struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings in the majors. Only 10 other starting pitchers in history struck out more batters per nine innings in a season, and there isn’t a fluke in the bunch. Ray still walks too many batters, but not prohibitively so. He slotted in between Austin Pasztor Womens Jersey Jake Arrieta and Yordano Ventura last year, with 3.7 walks per nine innings. His ground ball rate is above average.

Ray also allowed more runs last year than all but three National League pitchers. He averaged 5.4 innings per start, worse than every starting pitcher in the majors but Tom Koehler. His average exit velocity was the eighth-highest among starters last year. His team is 20-41 when he starts, a winning percentage only slightly better than that of the 2013 Astros. His record, for what that’s worth, was 8-15 in 2016 and is 14-31 in his major league career. No active pitcher with at least 60 career starts has a worse winning percentage.

Mariota has excelled in the red zone throughout his career

One area where Mariota has shown a distinct advantage over Winston is with his legs. Mariota has averaged 6.5 yards per carry in his career, the highest among QBs since the start of last season (minimum 25 carries). Winston has averaged 3.6 yards per carry.

Both QBs have averaged similar yards per carry on scrambles, but it’s Mariota’s designed rushes that set him apart. On designed rushing plays Mariota has averaged 5.35 yards per carry, the highest among QBs Allen Hurns Authentic Jersey since the start of last season (minimum 10 designed rushes), while Winston has averaged 0.2 yards per carry on those plays.

It is worth noting that Winston has seven career rushing touchdowns (six last season), tied for third among QBs, while Mariota has four in his career.
Winston’s variance is not quite as extreme, posting a 72.5 Total QBR in wins and a 52.6 in losses.

Plenty has happened to them over the past year and a half. Both have a new head coach in Year 2, and both have a better team around them in Year 2. So which young quarterback has the brightest future?

We asked five NFL front-office executives about which QB they’d want on their team right now — and for the next 10 years. The results were close, but one has the edge.

But the Lions are helping to hold Thanksgiving back. Although they’re having a decent year in 2016, they haven’t been consistently above average since the early 1970s, and their average Thanksgiving Day pregame Elo of 1485 pales in comparison with those of their fellow holiday mainstays. If the NFL cut down on appearances by Detroit and a few others (the Bills, Broncos, Eagles and Jets have played 33 Thanksgiving games combined, with an average Elo of 1476), it could elevate Thanksgiving much closer to the standard the league sets in its other showcase time slots.

This isn’t to say that the NFL’s more tradition-based approach to holiday scheduling Allen Robinson Authentic Jersey doesn’t have some advantages. There’s something reassuringly familiar about powering up the TV with relatives and seeing the teams you grew up watching on Thanksgiving year after year. But if the NFL wants to guarantee better holiday matchups — rather than having them be happy accidents, like this year — it might make sense to tweak the tradition a little and take a page from the NBA’s playbook.

3 NBA teams will not stay at Donald Trump’s hotels following election result

An ESPN report revealed three NBA teams will no longer stay at a Donald Trump-stamped hotels this season in order to sever any connection between the franchise and the president-elect.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks have ditched their Trump hotels in New York and Chicago, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe. Another unnamed Eastern Conference team has elected not to renew its contract with the Trump SoHo in New York City at the end of the season. Stein and Lowe note:

Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are both high-profile Brandon Finnegan Authentic Womens Jersey supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who last week lost the race to be the United States’ 45th president to Trump.
Grizzlies coach Dave Fizdale argued the team’s hotel switch had nothing to do with Trump’s election.

What Drake’s party witnessed was basically the same trick, but with frogs, and it’s both amazing and disturbing that he was able to fit three live frogs inside his body, without doing damage to both the frogs and his body. It’s not so much a magic trick as it is a showcase of how far he’s pushed his body to do things most humans would never do.

The best part about Blaine’s trick is the fact that, after the trick, he and Drake gave each other a pound hug, like everything’s cool and nothing happened.

That’s right: the Timberwolves have the second-best net rating in the first and second quarters, along with the ninth-best one in the fourth quarter. But in the third quarter, they’re the worst and it’s not even close. That’s a net rating of minus-33.1.

Holy cow. The Timberwolves are 3-7, but Jim’s assessment in his tweet could be spot-on. If Minnesota Brandon Phillips Authentic Womens Jersey could just figure out what’s screwing them coming out of the half, this might be a team that easily wins more than 40 games despite the poor start.

But while it seems likely the Timberwolves’ third quarter performances improve, perhaps that negative net rating spreads itself out among the other three frames as well. I’d lean towards Minnesota being good, but with strange splits like this, it’s really anybody’s guess.

Kovalev-Ward winner could emerge as pound-for-pound king

Will Sergey Kovalev’s power carry the day or it will be it Andre Ward’s technical skills that win out? Whoever wins can come out with more than a belt.
“I always gave him some cash for his pocket,” Klimas said. “He goes to Russia, I gave him a couple thousand dollars. We gave him some money for food.”

Asked how much he had invested into Kovalev Tim Wright Authentic Womens Jersey before that $5,000 purse, Klimas said, “I never much counted.”

“I tell people it was by desire.

“I wanted to go out and win games. I had a coach [in Bob Cousy] who told me: ‘Your ball, your team. How far you go is how far we go.’ That’s what Cous did for me. And I think both of them [Harden and Westbrook] are in the same place. Neither one of those guys are out to break records.”

That’s just one of the reasons Archibald, now 68, feels a kinship with both of these box-score-stuffers even though he doesn’t know them personally.

Harden isn’t just a fellow lefty any more. The Beard’s partnership with new Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who broke into the NBA as a player with Archibald’s Kings in 1973-74 shortly after Nate’s slice of history, has D’Antoni’s former teammate watching Houston games closer than he ever imagined.

“I didn’t think he was a good passer, but when I saw him in the exhibition season, I Travis Lewis Authentic Womens Jersey was like, ‘Oh my God,'” Archibald said of Harden.

With Westbrook, it’s more of a mindset connection. Archibald sees the Oklahoma City Thunder’s relentlessly rim-attacking lead guard as “the hardest-driving guy in the league.”

“He’ll challenge anybody,” Archibald said. “I love that. I wasn’t as big as him, but I loved to take the ball to the rim and challenge bigger guys.”

Truth be told, though, Archibald has bittersweet memories of his finest individual season. The Kings, at 36-46, didn’t make the playoffs in 1972-73 and didn’t win nearly enough to make it an unforgettable campaign. Tiny ranks his five-season stint with the Boston Celtics, which peaked with an All-Star Game MVP trophy as well as a championship in 1981, as the highlight of an NBA career that spanned from 1970-71 through 1983-84.

Undermanned Bulls earn best win of the season over Blazers

Taj Gibson is the longest-tenured player on the Chicago Bulls and has seen more ups and downs than most players endure over a career. Entering his eighth professional season, all with the Bulls, Gibson is a testament to the theory that the strong survive in the brutal meat grinder that is professional basketball.

Until last season Gibson’s Bulls had never beaten the Portland Trail Blazers. A streak of seven consecutive losses in the Moda Center, which included multiple blowouts, another season-ending knee injury to former point guard Derrick Rose in 2013 and Authentic Sheldon Richardson Jersey a severe ankle injury for Gibson the following season that put him out for weeks.

The confidence in Grant’s game was apparent on the Authentic Steve McLendon Jersey floor, but the chemistry off of it continues to play an important role in the Bulls’ early-season success. As happy as Butler and Wade were for Grant, they couldn’t help but tease him after the game as he dressed in a old Bulls warmup T-shirt on his way out of the arena. Like a high-schooler repping his basketball team in a school shirt after a big win, Grant was proud to wear the shirt. But Butler and Wade weren’t about to let the second-year player walk out without saying something.

Smiles are easier to come by for a group that knows the basketball world wasn’t expecting much from them this season. While the on-court differences are becoming clearer as the season unfolds, the biggest change from within is in attitude. Everybody seems to be getting along well, and that cohesiveness helped the Bulls earn one of their most impressive team wins in several years. The fact that it occurred at the start of a six-game road trip, in a place where the Bulls have historically struggled, wasn’t lost on the veterans in the locker room.

“I knew everybody was going to get along,” Butler said. “Everybody was going to like each other. Are we ahead of where I thought? Not really, I don’t think we’re doing anything out of the ordinary. Everybody’s playing to their strengths trying to cover up their weaknesses. We’re paying attention in film. Everybody’s working on their game. As long as you do that, you’re going to be put in the right position. Guys are in this gym early. At shootaround, getting shots up, studying film, that’s the reason why guys are playing the way that they are. There’s no fluke to that.”

“That’s my brother, man,” Brown said. “I’m honored to know Jimmy. Honored to be his friend. I’m ultimately a fan of him, but as my friend, that’s my brother. I’m a huge fan of the Bulls. I’m a huge fan of his. I watch all of his games. Just bought his jersey. I’m excited for the season he’s going to have. He’s been working at it all offseason. It’s great to know guys like Jimmy.”

Tony Romo in ‘dark place’ but could resurrect career elsewhere

Tony Romo, wearing a navy blue Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt with a matching baseball cap, somberly eulogized his career with the Cowboys on Tuesday afternoon.

Romo, standing at a lectern, kept the bill of the cap pulled low, so we never really saw the hurt in his eyes. But you could hear the disappointment, maybe frustration, in his voice as he read from a prepared statement.

Romo’s career with the Cowboys hasn’t Ra’Shede Hageman Authentic Womens Jersey seemingly ended because he can’t play anymore. That would be sad, but understandable. Every 36-year-old athlete goes through that.

If Romo no longer possessed the arm strength Ricardo Allen Authentic Womens Jersey or skill set to play at the level that has allowed him to pass for more than 34,000 yards with 247 touchdowns and 117 interceptions, then he could accept that Father Time had kicked his behind.

But that’s not what happened.

Romo’s body betrayed him in August — again.

He suffered a compression fracture in his back that has essentially kept him out for 10 weeks — not the month or so he initially anticipated.

This time, Romo is not returning to save the Cowboys’ season. This time, the team has moved on without him.

The Cowboys are 8-1 and lead the NFC East by two games over the New York Giants. They lead the Seattle Seahawks by 1.5 games for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Those who know and have spoken with Kelly backed up his words and say he is not going anywhere

Despite the disappointing season in San Francisco, those close to Chip Kelly insist that the 49ers head coach is not just paying lip service to the idea that he is not interested in returning to his former Oregon coaching job, or one at any college, even David Pastrnak Youth Jersey amid the growing speculation to the contrary.

They say he is staying with San Francisco, through the thick and thin of this challenging season. Colleges that have privately made overtures to Kelly’s representatives have been told in no uncertain terms that Kelly is not interested in going back to school.

Last month, the Oregonian speculated that if there were an opening at Oregon, Kelly could wind up going back. Even billionaire Oregon booster Phil Knight recently attended a 49ers game as Kelly’s guest. But when asked about the Oregon opening recently, Kelly said: “No. I’m the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. So, not looking at anything else. I’m here.”

However, Ajayi stayed focused, overcoming fumbling issues Dennis Seidenberg Youth Jersey and earning the trust of first-year Dolphins head coach Adam Gase.

“I don’t know if he was comfortable with the scheme early on,” Gase said. “But as he’s gone on and got a better feel for what we do and developed more comfort in what we’re doing, he’s really gotten into the groove.”

After Foster went down with a groin injury in Week 2, Ajayi got the starting nod and asserted himself with back-to-back, 200-yard rushing performances in wins against Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

“He has great vision,” Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said about Ajayi. “He has the ability to bounce it [outside] strong. You see a back that’s not only quick to get to the edge, but if you’re in his way he’s powerful and can run you over.”

Gordon has taken a similar path with the Chargers, rushing for a career-high 196 yards in a win against Tennessee last week.

Yes, the Saints’ No. 1 pass offense faces the Broncos’ No. 1 pass defense Sunday, but Saints coach Sean Payton has made a bigger statement on the ground with Tim Hightower and Mark Ingram the past two weeks. In an effort to not only help his defense but instill physicality, Payton has had the Saints at almost an exact 50-50 split on pass-run plays the past two games versus the Seahawks (35 passes, 35 rushes) and the 49ers (39 passes, 42 rushes).

Ohio State has a case for No. 4, but does it even matter?

The Big Ten had another great night in the College Football Playoff rankings, with three teams in the Top 10, but it could have been even better.

Michigan, as expected, remained No. 3 in the second set of rankings. The Wolverines’ forever archrival, Ohio State, is No. 5. Should the Buckeyes be No. 4, ahead of Washington?

Think about it. Ohio State has wins over three teams ranked by the committee: No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 19 Nebraska. Two of those (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) came on the road, while the home win over Nebraska last week came by a score of 62-3.

Crawford’s selection was not a surprise, considering that he won last year. Panik’s first Gold Glove was unexpected. Panik is the first Brandon Belt Jersey Giants second baseman to win since Robby Thompson in 1993. He’s the fifth different NL second baseman to win in the last five years.

Their teammate, catcher Buster Posey, ended the eight-year run of Yadier Molina. Posey is the third Giants catcher to win a Gold Glove Award, joining Kirt Manwaring (1993) and Mike Matheny (2005).

How did Posey win? He finished with 23 defensive runs saved, the most among catchers in the majors. He ranked as the game’s top pitch framer (meaning a catcher who gets “extra strikes” for his pitchers) and best defender of bunts at the position.

The Cubs had four finalists, tied for the most among teams, and won two awards — Jason Heyward won in right field and Anthony Rizzo won at first base.

It’s still a long shot. That is why the latest playoff rankings offer the Big Ten a reason to puff its chest this week, but not much more than that in terms of the national championship picture.

Penn State doesn’t have much of a shot at the Brandon Crawford Jersey playoff, but its strong ranking — and extremely manageable remaining schedule (at Indiana, at Rutgers, vs. Michigan State) — means a New Year’s Six bowl is well within reach. The Big Ten, in fact, could put three teams in New Year’s Six bowls, in addition to its playoff team. No conference has done that in the first two years of the playoff, and it would be quite a coup for the conference.