Month: July 2018

Recent Posts

In his Fourth Season with the Falcons, Grady Jarrett Insists It’s Only the Beginning

You know what was cool? Quinn said. Back in November, the team got together and said, ‘How do we go from where we are and go make a difference?’ I was proud to be part of this group this spring. We took action on nine different initiatives in the offseason, one a week, that we wanted to take on as a team. And so what we did in the offseason was take on some of the issues that were really important to players.

A lot of that involved the team’s influence and the police side of things, so we dove head-first into those two things with ridealongs, and trips to boys and girls clubs, a lot of things back-and-forth with the police and the community. So that’s really what we decided on as a team.

The program flies soldiers in for games, and Quinn expanded it over the last few years where players would wear decals of soldiers’ initials on their helmets—they needed to get league approval for it—during Salute to Service month. In some cases, those soldiers meet with the players wearing their names while in town on Quinn’s Corps trips.

I knew there could be this natural connection, going for something at the highest level, and the accountability to the person right next to you, through the years they have nailed that in every way, Quinn said. So if we could learn from them, then I thought, ‘How can we apply it to our team?’

Fitzgerald wants the ball in his hands, sure, but he also won’t miss those Sundays when his body sometimes ached so badly he could not lift himself out of bed without help.

A lot less hitting my head up the middle against a wall, Fitzgerald says. You can only take 30 carries a game for so long.

His pre-snap assignments are changing, too. He’ll have less to do, fewer checks at the line, but the secondary reads may become more complicated. It’s as much about coverage identification than it is physically throwing the ball in the place it needs to be, Moorhead says.

Breiner is making what he terms slight changes to Fitzgerald’s mechanics, like opening his front toe more, keeping his upper body closed longer and developing a more consistent arm angle. These should allow his hips to move more freely and, just maybe, increase a career completion percentage (55.4) that falls below Moorhead’s preference. His last four starters, at Penn State and Fordham, have combined to complete about 65% of their passes. I think he’s got a very high ceiling as a passer, Moorhead says. We saw glimpses of that this spring.

Rams offensive lineman Jamon Brown suspended 2 games

We’ve got five guys that have been in this offense, that really know what we’re trying to get done when you look at Robert, you look at Cooper, Josh, Mike and Pharoh, McVay said. You feel really good about them.

Los Angeles is among the favorites to make a Super Bowl run this season after returning to the playoffs in 2017.

There’s no question the Browns are confident with their wide receiver room this offseason.

Jarvis Landry said in May that he is the best wide receiver in the NFL while Josh Gordon added to that notion saying the Browns have the best group of receivers in the league after the additions of Antonio Callaway and Landry.

Landry got a glimpse of what his new teammate Gordon can do on the field and he added to the theme of confidence surrounding the Browns’ wideouts, calling Gordon unstoppable.

The size that he has and his ability to be able to get in and out of cuts, I think that’s one of the most impressive things I’ve recognized and noticed about him, Landry said on The Jim Rowe Show, via Pro Football Talk.

The more he continues to hone in on that and grow as far as in route running, listen, the kid’s unstoppable.

When baseball started, they set players up in the positions they did because that’s where they thought the ball was going to be hit. You had the first baseman and the third basemen at the corners, the middle infielders and three outfielders. There was no rule that you had to have five guys on the dirt, a catcher and three outfielders. They just set it up that way because they said, ‘Hey, this is where we think we’re going to hit the ball.’ It’s the same thing that’s being done now.

The question everybody has to ask themselves is, ‘Why are we playing the game? What is the goal of the game?’ I think it’s to score more runs than the other team. That seems to be what organizations are trying to do. They’re going to set guys up there because they think, ‘This is going to help us prevent runs’ and ‘We’re going to try and attack the baseball in this way because we think it’s going to help us score runs.’ That’s the name of the game. I think this has been a long time in the making. It’s actually been quite impressive to watch how quickly teams have adapted to the data they’ve got.

The reason they shift you in the places they do is because that’s what your batted ball data says. I heard Joe Maddon say, ‘You have three choices: You can try to hit it and beat the shift. That’s going to give you a single, but now you’re doing something against what you’re best at, so the defense wins. You can hit into the shift, and the defense wins. Or you can try not to let the infielders catch the batted ball. No ground balls and no popups. Try to stand on second base.’ That’s Option C.

It happens so many times now, where a ball would have been in the 4-hole [between first and second base], but that isn’t there anymore. Or you hit a line drive up the middle, and the guy is standing there. It’s kind of the new norm.

LeBron James couldn’t beat the Warriors.

I once said in print that the XFL was going to be awesome. I don’t often reflect on the many things I put down in newspapers during my career in print sports writing. Sports happen so fast and so often that many events just get overwritten in my mind.

Unfortunately, there are a few times in which something I put down in print has come back to haunt me in my idle thoughts. Like the time a headline read XFL will be a hard, fast hit and had my smiling mug under it. I was working at the Kenai Peninsula-Clarion in Alaska at the time. My sports editor, Jeff Helminiak, probably could have stopped me. He probably SHOULD have stopped me. But, then I couldn’t be adding it to this list of really, really bad takes.

Despite very different personas, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick have a lot in common. The two oldest coaches in the league are both Super Bowl-winning leaders with long, storied careers in the game. They’ve both earned paychecks signed by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. And, in the past week or so, they’ve both drawn criticism from former players.

He was aging, and Safeco Field was a notorious soul-sucker of a ballpark. Rereading this debacle of a prediction, I can’t fault the logic. But Cruz ended up being one of the best DHs the Mariners have ever had.

Heck, I’ll go so far to predict that Cruz will end his career as the best DH the Mariners have ever had.

I thought Virginia would beat UMBC in the first round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. [silent weeping] — Caroline Darney

Michigan State would win the 2016 national championship. I make instant NCAA tournament predictions minutes after the bracket drops for this fine website every single year. Sometimes it works out OK, like when I picked Villanova to win it all this past March. Sometimes it does not, as anyone who saw my 2016 bracket predictions will tell you.

Last year Dwayne Harris had a LTBE incentive that would have paid him if he finished the season with a punt return average of 10.0 yards or better.

For example, hitting a certain number of receptions or receiving yards, or playing in a specific percentage of the snaps are various LTBE incentives. If the player fails to meet such incentives, the team ends up with a year-end cap credit that is applied to the following year.

As we all know, Harris suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5, falling way short of that incentive. Hence, the Giants received a credit for that particular incentive since it was not earned at the end of the 2017 season which rolled into the 2018 cap.

There are also performance escalators which are put in place such as if a player ends up playing in a certain percentage of snaps.

When the current CBA was being negotiated, there was a concern that veterans who were maybe nearing the end of their careers might be squeezed out prematurely.

I honestly don’t think we were what our record was last year and I know it’s tough to understand that. Going 3-13, I think what we were, you would expect guys to come back down on themselves. That was just a humbling season for everybody. So, if anybody was on their high horse, they have no choice but to get down now and get back to the drawing board and work all over again, which is a good thing to see.

Harrison appears to be excited in this early stage of the offseason program with an optimistic look on much of what was going on, including a glowing review of rookie B.J. Hill.

It’s also important to note Harrison’s response to playing in the 3-4 scheme. He did play under Todd Bowles, who was the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and 2014 with James Bettcher as the linebackers coach. Bettcher moved up to defensive coordinator when Bowles left to take the head gig with the Jets in 2015. Bettcher then adapted Bowles’s attacking 3-4 and made it even more aggressive. Harrison’s best season came with the Giants and not under Bowles, but he was still a force on the defensive line with the Jets. That familiarity and Bettcher’s ability to adjust to players could make Harrison even more dangerous in the middle of the line, which should keep the happy vibes going and would be a nightmare for opposing offenses.

Orlando Scandrick would love to play with Dez Bryant again

Wide receiver Dez Bryant said recently that the last problem he has is finding a team for the 2018 season, but the veteran remains unsigned since being released by the Cowboys this offseason.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick, one of his former teammates in Dallas, said he’s a little bit surprised that Bryant hasn’t landed with a new team yet and suggested his current team when asked where he thinks Bryant would be a good fit.

Earning All-NBA honors this season will leave Damian Lillard waiting another year to become super max eligible. Lillard will need to be selected All-NBA again to be eligible for a $185 million extension in 2019, as opposed to two extra seasons now for a total of $80 million.

Despite the change in the 2017 collective bargaining agreement that saw rookie free-agent cap holds increase across the board, teams most likely will still play the waiting game when it comes to rookie extensions this summer. The 2015 draft class is still operating under the 2011 CBA, so the free-agent hold for a player like Devin Booker next offseason will be only $9.9 million. Had Booker been a first-round pick in 2017, his cap hold would be $15.9 million, costing the Suns a significant amount of cap room.

Sanders missed four games last year and caught 44 passes, which marked his lowest output since the 2012 season. The hope is that his productivity will rise with Case Keenum now at quarterback and that would certainly help Sanders’ efforts to prove his worth inside and outside of Denver.

Kershaw made only one start between May 2 and June 22. He initially went on the DL because of biceps tendinitis, then rejoined the rotation on May 31 and went right back on the DL because of a lower back strain the following day, making this the third straight year that his back has forced him to miss time.

In lieu of a traditional minor league rehab start, Kershaw pitched against the New York Mets at Citi Field on Saturday and gave up a couple of runs in three innings, expressing good health thereafter. On Thursday, he averaged 91.7 mph with his fastball — standard for this season — and generated 10 swinging strikes.

Davis is expected to return to the closer role Sunday.

Hernandez’s home run gave the Dodgers 55 in the month of June, to increase their franchise record for a month. The previous record of 53 was set in June of last season.

Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis (5-1, 5.07 ERA) will be back on the road where he excels, as his five road victories were tied for third in the National League at the start of play Saturday. Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling (6-2, 1.98) has a loss and a no-decision in his past two starts following a six-start win streak.

Rodriguez’s performance came a night after Andrew Suarez allowed one run in six innings during San Francisco’s 2-1 series-opening victory. The NL West-leading Diamondbacks have managed just one run in the last 18 innings.

It’s big, Rodriguez said. They’re leading our division and we come in and shut them down. That’s big for our team and our pitching staff, gives us some momentum.

Brandon Crawford, Andrew McCutchen and Joe Panik homered on another rough night for Shelby Miller, who struggled in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Panik’s homer, off reliever Jimmie Sherfy in the eighth, was his first since April 3, a span of 162 at-bats.

Ainge said the team is looking at all possible upgrades this summer but doesn’t feel a need to find a specific type of player.

It’s easier when you have three [star] guys already that you’ve gotten from the years before and you got some budding stars in younger players that are progressing. So … we don’t really have a need. We have really good players.

Sources: Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee to join Lakers on one-year deals

After snatching LeBron James, the biggest free agent in the 2018 market, the Los Angeles Lakers are shifting to filling out the roster.

The Lakers have agreed to free-agent deals with guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lance Stephenson and veteran center JaVale McGee, league sources told ESPN.

Sources said Caldwell-Pope will re-sign on a one-year, $12 million deal and that Stephenson has agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal.

Once James committed to the Lakers, Stephenson was a top player on the team’s priority list.

The Lakers are heard to be offering only one-year deals to maximize their cap space for the summer of 2019.

I know they want me back, and I want to come back, Favors said to the Tribune. But, it’s a business and a numbers game, so we’ll have to see.

Favors is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in 28 minutes per game in 2017-18.

I’m really looking forward to next season, Favors said. A lot of what will happen depends on other players and other teams.

Favors was originally selected with the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Nets. He spent just half a season with the team before he was dealt to Utah as part of the Deron Williams trade.

In a corresponding move, Milwaukee recalled right-hander Aaron Wilkerson from Colorado Springs.

The 23-year-old Arcia has hit .197 in 66 games, including 56 starts. He hit .277 in his first full year last season.

This is the second time the Brewers have sent their former top prospect to Triple-A this season. The team first did so in May in the hopes of jump-starting him offensively in a pressure-free environment but had to recall him shortly after when shortstop Tyler Saladino hit the disabled list with a sprained left ankle.

Brad Miller was in Milwaukee’s starting lineup at shortstop on Sunday.