Monthly Archives: February 2017

Rusty Kuntz is getting his own bobblehead and Royals theme night

When you’ve slid for three straight years and don’t have impressive recruiting rankings, you are, of course, going to project pretty poorly. That S&P+ says Rice will rank around 120th this year isn’t a surprise. And at that level, the Owls are given a better than 50 percent chance of winning in just one game this fall.

But if you’re hoping Bailiff has another turnaround in him, you don’t have to spin too much. For one thing, Rice really was beset by an abnormal number of knocks last year. And for another, the schedule isn’t that far from flipping in the Owls’ favor.

Rice faces four games with a win probability between 46 and 48 percent and two more with 36 percent. Granted, a bowl bid would require the Owls to win all but one of them, but you can at least see how a healthier, far more experienced team finds a quarterback, plays well in the trenches, and stops its recent slide.
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You can also see how the Bailiff era limps to a quiet end, of course. You can see that more clearly, in fact. But Bailiff has stared down the odds before.

Jimmy Graham Game Jersey It¡¯s a big day for Royals fans. Rusty Kuntz bobblehead night is going to be a thing.

This Rusty Kuntz talking bobblehead is everything you want and more.

Fans on Twitter have been pushing to honor Kuntz with his own night, going so far as to start a petition to have the night in his honor. It¡¯s a very well-done bobble head, too, with features like ¡°realistically lush hair,¡± a permanent fist pound for ¡°all day affirmation,¡± and it even speaks.

The ascension of Rusty Kuntz from baseball coach to cultural icon is almost entirely based around his name, which led to one of the best jersey sequences ever.

The Jets¡¯ primary tailback last season was 31-year-old Matt Forte

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Former general manager Ryan Grigson¡¯s strategy of bringing in veterans on the wrong side of age 30 led to his ouster, but his decision to pick up Frank Gore actually worked out for the franchise. Gore ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, but has one year left on his contract and will be 34 years old in May. Indianapolis needs help at tailback, and bringing in Lacy could give the team a hard-to-tackle tandem next fall and serve as an audition to be the team¡¯s true No. 1 back down the road.

The Jets¡¯ primary tailback last season was 31-year-old Matt Forte, who struggled to regain the form that made him a star in Chicago. Bilal Powell did a great job sharing carries ¡ª his 722 yards were a career high ¡ª but bringing in Lacy could give New York a power back to add a new dimension to a struggling offense. However, with more than $10 million tied up in tailbacks for 2017 and holes throughout the roster, spending big on another runner may not be the wisest decision.

What actually caused the penalty flag to be thrown was Vince Wilfork diving into the back of Jackson and Chung’s legs which caused both men to fall. Jackson’s hands never moved but he ended up getting the better of the fall by using the leverage from both of them falling to slam Chung into the turf really really hard. It still wasn’t holding, but let’s say it was. This part of the block didn’t even happen until McFadden had already crossed the goal line. There is simply no way it had an impact on the play. And yet there was the yellow flag being thrown at a guy for doing his damn job too well.
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Anybody who has followed the Raiders over the last 10 years could have predicted in some fashion what was going to happen after that touchdown was taken off the board. Maybe you wouldn’t have specifically predicted that it would be Wilfork who ended up catching a deflection for an interception to end the game, but I’m sure you would have been close enough. Once that flag was thrown all hope was basically lost for the Raiders. It should have never left the ref’s pocket.

LeGarrette Blount ‘definitely’ wants to stay on Patriots

LeGarrette Blount works in New England. He’s productive there, he’s seemingly at peace there, and he wins Super Bowls there.

So naturally, the 30-year-old running back would prefer to remain with the Patriots should the free agency winds take him that way.

“I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England,” Blount said on NFL Total Access Monday. “I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I’ve become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is. We’ll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I’m in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to.”

It’s easy to believe Reid would upgrade if the perfect opportunity presented itself. It strains credulity, however, that he would risk alienating Smith — or losing him altogether — for a quarterback who could be one hit away from retirement.

Buffalo Bills: It’s easy to see why the Bills would turn to Romo as an alternative to Tyrod Taylor. The team’s brass might just find that the interest is a trifle one-sided. Why would Romo choose to spend his precious few remaining NFL days far from home on a perennial AFC East also-ran with more questions than answers?

Cutler in Gotham is a match made in tabloid heaven (a New York Daily News headline writer just passed out at the thought of such a scenario). THE CUTLER DID IT! after a stunning Week 2 overtime conquest of the Patriots. PASS THE JAY when a furious columnist calls for Hackenberg to replace Cutler in Week 6. CUT-LER after the team releases the QB on the eve of a new league year in 2018.

Aaron Hernandez needs inmate approval to watch Super Bowl in prison

Whether Aaron Hernandez gets to watch his former team in the Super Bowl on Sunday night will depend on his fellow inmates at Nashua Street Jail.

The facility’s policy requires the inmates to vote on which channel the community TV gets turned to, according to WCVB5 in Boston. So the game could be on, but only if the majority wants it. It’s probably fair to assume that the Super Bowl will win the vote, but you never know.

He’s super friendly and excited to meet everyone. Seriously, check his Twitter page. It’s just so, so sad that he’s a bit socially unaware of when people are scared to death of him (which is almost all of the time). To be clear, most of my colleagues at SB Nation feel this way, and I’m here to change their minds too.
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This week, Cake Baby went on ESPN’s The Jump, and Zach Lowe and Tracy McGrady gave the reaction everyone does: head down, hands protecting the face. KCB really doesn’t understand this social cue.

Even a week off for a bye couldn’t slow the rolling Boston Bruins under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.
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Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway with 2:24 left in overtime and the Bruins picked up where they left off before their break by winning their fourth straight game, 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

“This is a really hard building to win in and they’ve been playing well lately,” Marchand said. “With five days off, it’s not easy to come back here and feel good. It wasn’t always pretty, but we got the two points. That’s all that matters.” Even though the Kings didn’t give up a lot for the skilled Gaborik, I was skeptical from the outset given the winger’s up-and-down playoff history and his lack of durability.

Brantley stayed in Cleveland to concentrate on his rehab rather than go home to Florida for the offseason.

In Harper’s case, it caused him to boil over immediately. Well, almost immediately. On the Sunday of the Cubs series, despite the fresh sting of emasculation still smoldering within, Harper somehow managed to rise above, giving a jar full of money to a homeless woman he spotted as the team bus was pulling out of Wrigley. But soon after that, he sank below.

On the very next day after the Chicago series — after standing there all weekend long with the bat on his shoulder and watching helplessly while his team got the broom — Harper blew a gasket and got ejected in the ninth inning of a tie game in Washington. But wait, there’s more. When the Nats won in extras on a walk-off, Harper defied the rules by not only coming back onto the field, but also barking a few “choice words” (as he would later call them) at the umpire, all of which led to the first suspension of his career.

Michael Brantley’s availability for Cleveland’s regular-season opener on April 3 will depend on the strides he’s able to make in his rehab from surgery to repair a torn right biceps.

Brantley, a 2014 All-Star and the third-place finisher in the American League MVP race that season, logged 39 at-bats in 11 games in 2016. He began the season on the disabled list with an injury to his right, nonthrowing shoulder, and had surgery in August to repair chronic biceps tendinitis.

For the second straight winter, Brantley stayed in Cleveland to concentrate on his rehab rather than go home to Florida for the offseason.
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The Indians are counting on Brantley and newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion to upgrade an offense that ranked second to Boston in the AL with 777 runs in 2016. But Brantley is currently limited to hitting off a tee, and the team has no plans to slap any timetables on him.
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Francona said it’s “not even on the table” that Brantley will be ready to appear in spring training games on time.

Savage didn’t shine in his time under center either

If it wasn’t for a concussion suffered by Savage in the team’s regular season finale against the Tennessee Titans, the 2014 fourth-round pick likely would’ve been the starter for the Texans in the postseason. But that was far more of an indictment of the play of Osweiler rather than an endorsement of Savage’s play in Weeks 15 and 16.

It’s not that the third-year quarterback played poorly. It’s that he didn’t show much of anything to give Houston confidence that he’s capable of taking over in 2017.

In three games and 73 pass attempts, Savage threw no touchdowns and no interceptions. When he led the Texans to a 12-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in his first career start, it came with struggles to get the team’s offense moving early, although O’Brien took some of the blame.

Though the official word from Team Tiger was that back spasms unrelated to the three microdiscectomies he underwent between March 2014 and October 2015 were to blame for his latest withdrawal, he conceded during a pre-tourney promotional interview that he doubted he would “ever feel great” again after the multiple procedures.

Woods’ history as the most dominant, thrilling, and polarizing golfer since he lapped the field with a 12-shot win in the 1997 Masters is well-chronicled, and there will be plenty of time for postmortems on the most storied career in the history of the game.

For now, it is enough to recognize that the 41-year-old guy with an octogenarian’s body is a shadow of his former self. Certainly he has defied the odds and returned to competition time and again from a litany of injuries that would have derailed the careers of lesser men.

Since the beginning of 2014, Tiger Woods has more back surgeries (3) than top-10s (1).

White scored the winning touchdown in overtime as the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28

Most around the team knew that Galynn was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments at that time. She didn’t attend a regular-season home game for the first time in her son’s career; Tom Sr. attended only one. For a few days, her attendance at the Super Bowl was in question.

Brady always controls what he can control. He has become an expert at controlling how he reacts, whether it’s about an attack on his reputation or being down 28-3 in the Super Bowl. While not exactly masking his anger, he knows that unfailing class always beats raw vengeance, at least off the field. And so in a weird way, he ended up giving back to his family like they always gave — and give — to him.
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Jake Gardiner Womens Jersey Everyone expected a massive counterattack from the Brady family this year. It never came. Tom Sr. has blasted Goodell a few times, but after the Super Bowl, when most expected him to really pop, he didn’t. He told Albert Breer of The MMQB that the Super Bowl win meant “redemption,” and let everyone fill in the blanks. Brady himself never went there. He shook Goodell’s hand at the MVP ceremony. He shook the hands of reporters who had labeled him a cheater. He has long ceased ever allowing himself to be the victim, seeking mostly to put the controversy behind him, a strategy his family has mostly followed.

White scored the winning touchdown in overtime as the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. What happened to the ball after that is anyone’s guess, White said on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show on Monday.

At the time of his retirement, Johnson ranked 26th in receptions and yards, and 31st in receiving touchdowns. Every other receiver of his era was no lower than 10 in any of those categories, with the exception of Michael Irvin, who retired in 1999.

If the receivers of the 2000s were ranked, Johnson probably wouldn’t be top-five in a list that includes Marvin Harrison, Owens, Torry Holt, Hines Ward and Steve Smith, all of whom finished with better numbers.

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is someone the Packers can build around on defense.

It would be tough for the Eagles to justify paying market value to yet another defensive lineman, but if there was ever a scheme where it made sense to spend big money on the linemen, it would be with Schwartz’s 4-3, which relies almost entirely on the front four to get pressure. Philadelphia could try to get by with Beau Allen and help from the draft, but it would make sense to bring back Logan at the right price. The problem is that Logan might be able to command something close to Damon Harrison-level money on the open market.

Jairus Byrd Elite Jersey Sign DeSean Jackson. It’s a good story, of course, but it just makes sense for the Eagles to bring back Jackson, their former star wideout, given their offensive needs. Carson Wentz ranked 26th in passer rating on “deep” passes of 16-plus yards downfield, and while coach Doug Pederson installed a relatively conservative scheme for his rookie quarterback, the Eagles desperately need some speed to scare teams off pressing the line of scrimmage while providing Wentz with a big-play weapon downfield.

Position review: Burnett and Clinton-Dix evolved as a duo in part because of the amount of time they spent on the field together. Clinton-Dix played every defensive snap in the regular season and playoffs on the way to his first Pro Bowl selection, while Burnett was on the field for nearly 89 percent of the plays; he missed one game (Week 3 against Detroit because of a groin injury).
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“When you have premier players on your defense and they line up and play 1,000 plays, to me that says it all,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Hyde proved to be a jack-of-all trades defensive back, playing both safety and in the slot positions in the nickel and dime defense. He had four interceptions in the last seven games, including playoffs. Among them were a game-clincher in the Week 17 win at Detroit and one in the divisional-round win at Dallas.

Claude Julien is a faultless casualty of that process, and now the players and management in Boston must prove that cost was worth it

Regressing a bit, with just four wins in their last 10 games. That was expected; Columbus¡¯ first-half run was too remarkable to be sustainable over 82 games.
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Second-half goal: Bolster the team¡¯s depth before the playoffs.

Trade deadline plans: A big priority has to be a backup goalie. Neither Joonas Korpisalo nor Anton Forsberg have stepped up since Columbus parted ways with Curtis McElhinney, and they could go after proven backups like Ondrej Pavelec or Keith Kinkaid. If a center is made available, they¡¯ll take a hard look there, too.

¡°It used to be that everyone said [the NHL is] not a developmental league,¡± Cassidy said. ¡°I think now there¡¯s a lot more developing going on on the fly. [More] younger guys, and the hard salary cap forces you to move guys up in the lineup maybe sooner than they¡¯re ready for compared to previous years.

Limited Dwayne Harris Jersey ¡°So there¡¯s more teaching involved as a result if you have younger players. They¡¯re not ready-made players on on most teams; you have to get them ready to learn on the fly. It¡¯s important as coaches that we recognize that and we don¡¯t forget that some of these players are young and don¡¯t have as much seasoning as they might¡¯ve had years ago.¡±

¡°On the fly¡± certainly seems to reflect many things about the Bruins these days. From firing Julien in January just a point back of the playoffs to pushing youth into a playoff team, Sweeney is assuming the challenging task of simultaneous rebuilding and contending.

Claude Julien is a faultless casualty of that process, and now the players and management in Boston must prove that cost was worth it.

Malone promptly shows Cousins the door

Limited Braden Holtby Jersey A streak of five consecutive winning seasons and playoff appearances ended with a thud in 2016. The Bengals’ defense, once filled with playmakers, managed 20 takeaways, tied for 19th in the NFL. The future of their secondary is uncertain, given Adam Jones’ recent arrest and the pending free agency of cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Plus, longtime left tackle Andrew Whitworth is due to become a free agent. The Bengals are very much a team in transition. To what? That remains unclear.

Re-signing Kirkpatrick and Whitworth would seem wise, at least for the short term. The Bengals are projected to have more than $47 million in cap space. It could also be argued that they didn’t fall as far as they appeared to do. The Bengals lost six games by one score, a problem that could be minimized as they move from place-kicker Mike Nugent to Randy Bullock. Perhaps coach Marvin Lewis, who is seeking a contract extension, will use this offseason as a reset.
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Malone promptly shows Cousins the door.

Nearly three years later, Cousins shares the story with the affection you’d expect from a retired player reminiscing about his youthful fury. He’s neither proud nor embarrassed. But it’s an incident he cites as evidence that there can be accountability and friction in the NBA, that a player can be both insubordinate and not a terrible person, that a coach can be tough — even hysterical — but fair.

Cousins, at the time, was a 23-point, 12-rebound center with a reputation for petulance, playing, perhaps not coincidentally, for his third coach in four seasons. Malone, though, appeared to have located Cousins’ escape key. “There were days where we got into it, but I think at the end of the day, he always knew that I cared about him and I loved him,” Malone says. “It was never personal. Once you earn his trust, he’ll go to war for you. I think pretty early in our relationship I earned his trust.”