show search options
  • Blog post by smithlucky

    Minnesota Vikings. The Saints would become the new best team in the NFC, but they aren't the favorite to reach the Super Bowl. That would be the Vikings, out of circumstance. Even with Foles at quarterback, the Eagles have enough of a lead that they ought to squeak out a first-round bye -- and maybe even the No. 1 seed. The Vikings have both the Bengals and Bears left

    on their schedule and should secure a bye. Likely needing one fewer postseason win than the Saints, Rams or Seahawks to reach the Super Bowl, the Vikings are the favorite to represent the Authentic Oscar Robertson Jersey NFC. And though they might be a hair worse than New Orleans, let's not overlook the Vikings' ability after Sunday's road loss. Entering Week 14, Case Keenum was the Total QBR leader among healthy quarterbacks, and Minnesota had the fifth-best defense in the league, per FPI.
    Field Yates, NFL Insider: Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota has shown a resilience -- despite the Week 14 result -- throughout the season that is difficult to ignore. The Vikings' offensive line has been dramatically improved this year and if it gets back to full health down the stretch should further fortify the running game. I also still believe Philadelphia has a strong enough roster to make a deep postseason run.
    This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Dec. 25 'Tis The Season Issue. Subscribe today! ON THE MORNING of Sept. 26, more than two dozen Adidas employees gathered inside a gym at the University of Louisville. They had flown in from as far away as Europe -- marketers and athletic performance specialists, top designers from Adidas' secretive Brooklyn Creator Farm. They Authentic Nolan Ryan Jersey were participating in a weeklong workshop to imagine gear, products and advertising built around Louisville's most valuable commodity: the men's basketball team.
    The exercise was meant to simulate the vision behind a $160 million partnership between Adidas and Louisville, which had been announced the previous month. One of the largest all-school sponsorship agreements in Adidas' history, it was much more than a shoe deal. In internal strategy documents, Louisville vowed to "write the next chapter for college athletics, for streetwear and fashion." Adidas, a $7.9 billion corporation, would have access not only to the university's amateur athletes but also to the business, law and music schools to help create and market new products.
    As the participants prepared for Day 2, Julianne Waldron, Louisville's associate athletic director of marketing and an architect of the deal, received a call. "Julianne, there's a story that just broke. You need to read it," said a public relations official. "It has to do with Adidas." "They're with me right now," she replied, confused.
    The story involved a different blockbuster deal between Adidas and Louisville -- one that had played out in the shadows but was now being revealed by the U.S. Department of Justice, in New York City. That morning, the FBI had announced a sweeping corruption investigation into college basketball. In one of the most explosive allegations, Adidas employees -- colleagues of the same people who were gathered in the gym -- had paid a $100,000 bribe to a blue-chip recruit's family.
    Nothing has been the same in Louisville since. While other schools have avoided taking drastic action in response to the ongoing probe, Louisville has blown up its athletic department. The morning after the Earnest Byner Womens Jersey FBI's announcement, Dr. Gregory Postel, the interim president, removed not only Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino but also athletic director Tom Jurich, one of the state's most powerful
    people. Over the past 20 years, Jurich had built a sports empire on top of a midlevel commuter school near the Ohio River, transforming the campus and infusing a genteel Southern city that lacked a professional team with the excitement of big-time sports. Jurich was so successful generating money that "I wished I could turn them upside down and shake out their pocket change for the academic side," says Thomas B. Byers, a professor emeritus in the English department.
    Perhaps more than any other place in America, Louisville came to embody the contradictions of college athletics -- a multibillion-dollar industry built on amateur athletes. The Adidas partnership was supposed to be a crowning achievement that validated the university as a national power. The agreement represented an undeniable windfall, with potential opportunities for the entire university, but to some it also exploited the athletes it purported to benefit while encouraging the criminal behavior later alleged by the FBI. Ultimately, the scandal -- on top

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz left the Eagles' 43-35 win at the Los Angeles Rams late in the third quarter Sunday, and the team is concerned that he tore his left ACL, sources tell ESPN's Adam Schefter. Wentz was an MVP candidate and a huge part of the Eagles' turnaround from 7-9 a year ago, and now backup Nick Foles could be forced to play down the stretch and into the playoffs. So how does the NFC playoff picture change now? We asked our panel of ESPN NFL insiders to weigh in:

    Matt Bowen, NFL writer: New Orleans Saints. Yes, the offense needs a healthy Alvin Kamara on the field. His versatile skill set and explosive big-play ability stands out, and he changes the Saints' game plan. But I'm also looking at the balanced offense this season under Sean Payton and the proven ability of Drew Brees to make plays in critical moments. Plus, with an aggressive defense under Dennis Allen, the Saints can bring pressure and challenge routes at the cornerback position. This is a physical team with the leadership to make a run in January.
    Mike Clay, NFL writer: Minnesota Vikings. They have taught us this season that a quarterback who struggled during the Jeff Fisher Rams' era (Case Keenum) can guide a well-built team to Super Bowl contention.
    That said, I'm not going to completely throw in the towel on an Eagles' team that was stacked on paper even before Carson Wentz took a big step forward this season. Wentz hasn't been the Eagles' only big loss of the season. Injuries to Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles have also taken their toll. It's hard to imagine this team beating two quality NFC teams in the playoffs.
    The Saints, Rams and Seahawks are in the conversation, but I'm hard-pressed to go against a Vikings squad with many impressive statement wins, including against the Falcons, Ravens, Rams and Saints. Minnesota has a terrific defense, a productive offense and a December schedule (Bengals, Packers, Bears) that should put them at least at 12-4 and with a first-round bye. That will be the edge the Vikings need in order to becoming the first team ever to play in the Super Bowl in its home stadium.
    Dan Graziano, NFL writer: Philadelphia Eagles. I'm going to say it's still the Eagles, just not by as much. Their pass rush will help them finish games, and while they'll obviously lose a lot if Foles can't replicate Wentz's third-down success, Foles knows the offense and I think we can trust Doug Pederson and Frank Reich to put their players in positions to be successful.
    I thought the Eagles were clear favorites to win the NFC as Week 14 dawned, and now I would rate them as one of several roughly equivalent possibilities. But since it looks likely they'll get a bye and maybe even the No. 1 seed even without Wentz, I'll give Philly the narrow edge.
    Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Minnesota Vikings. I'm not sure Keenum will play well enough for the rest of the season and playoffs, but the Vikings are strong enough across the board to be the top team. That might have been true even if Wentz had stayed healthy.
    Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders editor-in-chief: Philadelphia Eagles. Believe it or not, it's Authentic Corey Crawford Jersey the Eagles. They are no longer the best team in the NFL, but the results of Sunday's games make it likely that the Eagles will have the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They now have a head-to-head win against the Rams and clinched the common-opponents tiebreaker
    against Minnesota and New Orleans. Other than perhaps Teddy Bridgewater, Foles is probably the best backup quarterback among the top contenders, and the one most likely to follow in Jeff Hostetler's footsteps. Games against the Raiders and Giants should get him up to speed. The Cowboys in Week 17 (with Ezekiel Elliott) will be tougher, but the Eagles should have the No. 1 seed even if they finish 2-1. In fact, with Aaron Rodgers coming back to face the Vikings in two weeks, they could have the No. 1 seed even if they finish 1-2. And the Eagles would be likely to host warm-weather teams (Rams, Panthers) or dome teams (Vikings, Saints) in cold Philadelphia in January.
    Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Minnesota Vikings. This is a team that won eight consecutive games before losing Sunday by one Authentic Josh Smith Jersey score on the road to the Panthers, themselves a likely playoff team. The Vikings suffered a few injuries Patrick Robinson Authentic Jersey to keep an eye on, most notably to tight end Kyle Rudolph (ankle) and along their offensive line, but most of their key pieces remain intact. And, in terms of playoff positioning, keep in mind that they'll play two of their final three games at home against the Bengals (5-8) and Bears (4-9). MLB Authentic Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Paypal NHL Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys All

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    The top two picks in a draft are rarely quarterbacks. They also seldom lead playoff-bound teams in only their second season. And they definitely don't come with origin stories like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have, who shared an agent and trained together before the 2016 NFL draft. Goff's Los Angeles Rams host Wentz's Philadelphia Eagles at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox).

    The Eagles are 10-2, rank first in point differential and are averaging an NFL-leading 30.08 points per game. The Rams are 9-3, rank second in point differential and are averaging an NFL-leading 30.08 points per game. Goff and Wentz represent the seventh quarterback pair to be selected first and second overall since 1967 and will soon become only the fifth of those to meet head-to-head.
    Goff, a gifted downfield passer, went to a Rams team that had just moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles and traded up from No. 15 to No. 1 to have the chance to draft him. He rode the bench early, struggled late and then got a new head coach in Sean McVay who helped launch his career. Goff now sports a 98.4 passer rating and is averaging 8.1 yards per attempt.
    Wentz, a wizard outside the pocket, went to an Eagles team that looked primed for contention and traded up twice, from No. 13 to 8 to 2 to get him. He thrived immediately, then took his Dennis Rodman Jersey lumps in the back half of his rookie season and now looks like an MVP candidate while throwing for an NFL-leading 29 touchdowns and sporting a 72.5 Total QBR.
    Leading up to their first meeting as pros, we took a look back at the pre-draft process and told that story from the accounts of those who experienced it. The Charles Clay Jersey four executives directly involved -- for the Rams, Eagles, Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns -- declined interviews. But several others shared their memories of the 2016 draft.
    Goff and Wentz worked side-by-side in their competition to become the No. 1 pick. They not only became the first 1-2 quarterback combo to share an agent -- Ryan Tollner -- but they trained together in the lead-up to the draft. Three days a week, they would take the field, alternating snaps and matching throws.
    With North Dakota State advancing to the FCS championship game, Wentz arrived in California to begin training a week later than Goff and was itching to catch up.
    Ryan Lindley, former NFL quarterback who trained Wentz and Goff: "I want to say [Wentz] took a red-eye right after they played their championship game and came right out to Orange County from Texas and wanted to get going. I was like, 'Hey, man, you're coming off wrist surgery not even eight weeks earlier, came off playing a football game the day before. We can take a couple days off.' But he wanted to get right to work. And I think it irked him a little bit that Jared already had a week up."
    Wentz: "We had just Tyler Johnson Jersey finished winning our fifth national championship there, and I knew I was already a couple weeks behind, kind of that pre-draft prep and everything, so I was ready to get it going. I just got out there as quickly as I could." Goff: "I met him. Immediately, right away, you can tell what type of worker he is."
    Wentz: "Jared and I, we threw on the field together a couple times a week. But we had our own private film sessions with our quarterbacks coach and everything and kind of did our own thing. It was just good to be around him."
    Lindley: "I mean, obviously Jared took it seriously and knew it was a big deal and was excited to work with us. But once Carson got there, you knew there was a bar being set, and each one wanted to jump the other each day and raise it even higher. ... You put two alphas in a cage, they're going to put their hair up and be a little bit on edge, go after it a little bit." Wentz: "He can throw the ball well. He had a lot of arm talent. And he's a great dude. We got along great."
    Weather -- and even the simulation of weather -- played a role in how the draft process unfolded. A North Dakota blizzard on March 24 kept 14 teams from attending Wentz's pro day. Only one head coach, the Cleveland Browns' Hue Jackson, was in attendance. "Divine intervention," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said, looking up to the heavens. California rain proved to be a key ingredient in the Rams' courtship of Goff. The skies opened over Berkeley prior to their private workout with the Cal quarterback, setting precisely the scene they needed. Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap NHL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Wholesale NHL Jerseys Cheap Baseball Jerseys Custom

  • Lance Stephenson, showmanDateToday 1:34 am
    Blog post by smithlucky

    Stephenson has turned every mundane act of basketball into a piece of flair. He doesn't just dribble up the court. He gallops and prances, sometimes literally jumping mid-dribble, so that both his feet are in the air, kicking in opposite directions. Every pass can be a no-look pass if you will it. And if it wasn't really a no-look pass, jerk your head away from the target anyway, so it carries the same pizzazz.

    Stephenson is screaming after almost every made basket. He's launching insane hit-ahead outlet passes, because why in the hell not? After leading one recent successful fast break, Stephenson stopped to strum an air guitar -- or maybe pluck a bass, it was hard to tell -- as the game was still going on.

    When a teammate swings Stephenson the ball, he doesn't just shoot or drive. That would be boring. He palms the ball, and lifts it above his head with one hand in what Omri Casspi Jersey is supposed to be a pump fake. If that doesn't work, he'll jut it out to his side -- a taunting pass fake. He might even poke the ball toward his defender's head as a rude scare tactic.
    Stephenson is part basketball player, part Jonathan Huberdeau Jersey public art installation. And it's all kind of working. Stephenson has hit 39 percent from deep since Nov. 1. He's shooting well from midrange. Indy has played teams close to even with Stephenson on the floor over the past 20 games -- progress after an ugly start.
    Stephenson can play alongside any of Indy's perimeter players, and even guard some power forwards when the Pacers downsize. His antics juice up the crowd, and his teammates. I'll give Morris an injury mulligan -- he scored well against in a revenge game against Phoenix Thursday night -- but he has never been good enough to play below peak intensity.
    Morris' rebounding has been Womens Troy Niklas Jersey worrisome. He's grabbing boards at career-low levels on both ends, and the Wizards allow too many offensive rebounds when he's on the floor. He sometimes floats around the arc, doing nothing, when a shot goes up. Washington's starting lineup is barely outscoring opponents. Meanwhile, their other go-to group -- a small-ball look with Kelly Oubre in Morris' place -- has emerged as their best lineup. I've written before that Scott Brooks should at least consider shifting Morris to sixth man; he's better suited than Oubre to carry bench units.
    A change may cause more drama than it's worth. Washington's bench has perked up of late (hello, Tomas Satoransky!), and Otto Porter is doing good work as the lone starter alongside them. Moving Morris to the bench also would mean booting a big man out of the rotation, but that shouldn't be a concern when the reserves in question are Mike Scott and Ian Mahinmi.
    Look at that sneer! Dribblin' Ben Franklin is about to hit some sucker with an Iverson-level crossover. Dribblin' Ben Franklin is out to humiliate fools.
    The Sixers made Dribblin' Ben a secondary logo in 2014-15, and they've given him primo placement on basket stanchions in some games this season. Dribblin' Ben was a candidate to be the team's actual mascot in 2011, when they asked fans to choose between Ben, a moose creatively named Phil E. Moose, and a brown dog called B. Franklin Dogg (with two Gs, natch). The winner would replace Hip-Hop, a Poochie-esque sunglasses-wearing bunny who died on the way back to his planet. Dribblin' Ben was the obvious choice.
    The Sixers chose the classic none of the above, and then went four agonizing mascot-less years before revealing a fluffy blue dog named ... Franklin. Fine. Kids like dogs. But the Sixers know in their hearts that Dribblin' Ben is better. The Wolves still rank an embarrassing 26th in points allowed per possession. The teams below them are either tanking, or decimated from injury. Minnesota entered the season with obvious fit and depth issues, but they should not be this awful on defense in Year 2 under Tom Thibodeau.
    One easy fix: clean up the horrid transition defense. Joseph Young Womens Jersey Only four teams allow more fast-break points, a blaring red flag given Minnesota plays at a slow pace. They rank dead last in points allowed per possession on transition chances by almost any available measure -- from Synergy Sports, Team Rankings, and others.

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    lympic hockey is on everyone's mind this week, what with the Russia drama, which means many fans are crying into an entirely new bucket of tears over the fact that the NHL isn't participating in the 2018 Winter Games.

    For this week's Power Rankings -- voted on, as always, by ESPN's panel of experts -- we focus on one player from each team who we truly, deeply lament will not be taking part in the men's hockey tournament in South Korea. Many because they haven't gotten the chance before. Others because we've never had the chance to see them with gold around their necks.
    How we rank: We use a panel of voters, and these rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams are favored over lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn't guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn't guarantee a fall.
    Filip Forsberg. The 23-year-old forward was too young to make the squad for Team Sweden in Sochi in 2014, but his point-per-game season -- as well as the aging out of other Swedish forwards -- would have earned him a top role in the upcoming Olympics, which would have afforded him a platform for a star-making performance.
    Auston Matthews. So let's get this straight: The Americans finally have a generational talent and a game-dominating scorer who can match any other star in the world, and Russell Wilson Jersey suddenly the NHL isn't going to the Olympics? We don't traffic much in Canadian conspiracy theories here, but ...
    Nico Hischier. The Swiss are always an interesting team to watch in the Olympics, what with their propensity for upsets. Hischier would have given them an offensive weapon the likes they rarely have. Now, how many games could Reto Berra steal?
    Tom Kuhnhackl. This is a tricky one. Sidney Crosby? Been there, seen it twice. Evgeni Malkin? Three times. Jake Guentzel wouldn't be cemented in that Team USA lineup, with his lack of international starts. Phil Kessel ... well, sure, if USA Hockey got over itself and invited him back. So we're going with Kuhnhackl, because Germany is in this tournament, he only represented his country in three games and he is the second-leading scorer among German NHL players this season. (We'll get to the top scorer in a bit, because his team is terrible right now.).
    The Dallas Stars might have found a cure for the Vegas Flu. While the rest of the teams in the league have slogged through their inaugural road trips to Sin City, the Stars aligned their Las Vegas visit with their annual dad's trip.
    Last week, 29 fathers, fathers-in-laws and brothers snapped selfies on the team plane and crammed together around the table for steak dinners as the Stars enjoyed themselves in Vegas and cruised to a 3-0 win. "It was smart," said veteran forward Jason Spezza. "Get the dads in trouble out there, instead of us."
    When the Stars -- and their extended crew Petr Mrazek Authentic Jersey -- rolled into Chicago the next day, the mood was still light. After a morning skate, Ben Bishop Jr., hovered next to his son's locker stall as the former conducted an interview
    (the Stars goaltender is technically Ben Bishop III). Across the room, Tyler Seguin grinned as he shimmied out of his pads so he could scoot out and spend some time with his dad, Paul. "We've been playing crappy on the road at times," Seguin said, noting the team's 3-8-1 away record before the Vegas visit. "Because I think we talk about it so much and we forget to just play like we do at home. But this team is going to be OK."
    Plus, Ken Hitchcock -- the future Hall of Fame coach who led the Stars to their only Stanley Cup, in 1999 -- came back on board in April. Hitchcock, who was fired by the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 1, has a reputation as a defense-first guy who runs a tight ship, and his teams always improve in the first year. With the Blackhawks likely to regress and the the Blues riddled with injuries, the Central Division figured to be wide open.
    That's why the Stars' pedestrian start felt like a complete letdown. Dallas had slowed things down at even strength. At Thanksgiving, the Stars led the league with the fewest shots allowed per game (29.3), but were only firing 31.5 per game themselves. Some began Womens Tom Pyatt Jersey to question whether Hitchcock, a coach known for his tight defensive style, was the right fit for a team whose best assets were a pair of elite goal scorers in Seguin and Jamie Benn.

  • Growing up as the laid-back son of an outspokenDateSat Dec 09, 2017 1:10 am
    Blog post by smithlucky

    father known for his bigger-than-life personality and eye-opening comments also has prepared Walton to handle the challenge of coaching Lonzo Ball -- perhaps no rookie since LeBron James has come into the league with as much attention -- and dealing with Lonzo's famously outspoken father, LaVar, who can go from feuding with Donald Trump to harping on Walton and the Lakers' coaching staff for their "soft" handling of his son.

    LaVar said this week on SiriusXM NBA Radio that Walton needs to Womens Troy Hill Jersey play the No. 2 overall pick for the entire fourth quarter to start winning more games. Walton often will bring Lonzo Ball in midway through the fourth and finish games with the rookie unless the game is out of hand or sixth man Jordan Clarkson is playing better. Ball is averaging 7.5 minutes in the fourth quarter and has not played in the fourth in five games this season.
    No other coach in the NBA has to deal with the intense scrutiny surrounding Ball and his high-profile father, who has done interviews on CNN and ESPN and offers a critique of Walton's John Brown Jersey coaching whenever asked.
    "My background as a player and even growing up with the dad that I have and spending those two years in Golden State just helped me prepare for being able to have all these distractions Womens Tom Compton Jersey and focus on what is really important to us," Walton said. "Do I have to deal with more than most coaches? I would say yeah. But every coach has to deal with some internal conflict.
    "Anyone that says anything about us, not just [LaVar], but anyone, if you are not part of our group or circle, have whatever opinion you want. It doesn't matter. We are in here every day grinding and working on getting better."Kerr smiled when asked if he has ever had to deal with a basketball parent. "When I coached my son's eighth grade AAU team, I had to talk to a couple of parents," he said. "But never in the NBA."
    While his father gave Walton his first exposure to basketball, and Jackson gave him a front-row seat to observe coaching greatness, it was Kerr who first put Walton on an NBA sideline. The Golden State Warriors' coach has played as large a role as any in guiding Walton to the Lakers' coveted post. The two developed much of their basketball philosophy and approach as championship role players for Jackson, so it was a natural fit for Kerr to hire Walton, who spent two seasons learning at Kerr's side and guided the Warriors to a 39-4 start in 2015-16 while Kerr was out with a back injury.
    Walton marveled at how Kerr's innate feel for not just his stars but also his little-used reserves could keep everyone on the team invested. Despite not being a Walton, Kerr feels much of his coaching DNA is also in Luke.
    "I think Luke and I are as much alike as human beings as any two coaches could possibly be in the NBA," Kerr said. "When you consider our backgrounds, growing up in Southern California, on the beach, laid back, both played for Lute Olson [at Arizona], grounded in the fundamentals of Lute, Tex Winter and Phil Jackson, deeply in love and passionate about the game but not to the point of obsession. Good life balance, family man, he has younger kids, I have older kids. "Luke is as much like me as anybody I can think of, and our coaching profiles probably reflect that."
    BEFORE EVERY GAME, Walton and Pelinka huddle together to discuss basketball, life and anything else that comes to mind. Despite being hired under the previous regime, a source close to Walton said that one of the best things to happen for the coach was the hiring of Pelinka and Johnson in the spring.
    "They are a young team, they got some talent and they are going to win some games and are going to have some growing pains," Kerr said. "The best organizations are the ones that stick together through thick and thin, and if you have that kind of support as a coach, then it can all really be successful."
    Walton, a former Lakers player, Pelinka, who was an agent for Kobe Bryant and other former Lakers, and Johnson, a Lakers legend, all share a deep bond with the franchise that predates their current positions, and they have known one another for years. They all appear to be in rhythm on the rebuilding vision and know that there will be tough times ahead with such an inexperienced roster.

  • While Walton was sidelined, JacksonDateFri Dec 08, 2017 9:50 pm
    Blog post by smithlucky

    had him sit in on coach's meetings and chart statistics from the bench during games. The gesture, Walton said, and Jackson's guidance meant "everything" to him. Walton didn't know it at the time, but Jackson's move gave Walton his first major exposure to NBA head coaching, a priceless internship under the game's most successful coach and a daily tutorial on how Jackson's mind worked strategically.

    "I do think Luke has a similar personality to Phil in that he is a coach that stays in the moment, you don't see him get too emotionally high or too emotionally low," Pelinka said. "He has a presence. He has a lot of confidence, but yet he approaches things with calmness, which is an enduring quality." Walton is employing some of Jackson's methods, but with a 2017 spin on it.
    Pelinka introduced Walton to a meditation and mindfulness app company called "Headspace." The app guides its customers through sessions as short as three minutes, allowing 20-something NBA stars who might have a short attention span to meditate even on the way to a game.
    Once a month, Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe visits the Lakers' film room on a game day, dims the lights and conducts a 15-minute meditation session while the players attempt to enter a state of relaxation in their plush chairs. The goal is to train their mental game by concentrating on eight areas -- motivation, focus, training, competition, communication, analysis, recovery and rehabilitation -- to get them relaxed but in an active state of readiness on game day. Walton hopes an app like this can help players cope with the pressures they face in today's social-media-driven Jakub Voracek Youth jersey world.
    "That is a whole different realm that no other generation of NBA player has ever had to deal with," Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma said. Puddicombe, who spent 10 years training to become a monk in Burma and Tibet, has worked with the British Olympic team, professional athletes and pro teams. Puddicombe worked with the Whitney Mercilus Jersey New York Knicks the past two seasons when Jackson ran the franchise as team president.
    While Jackson failed to build a winner in New York and seemed out of touch with players such as Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, Walton still uses some time-tested Jackson techniques to keep his team engaged and his message fresh.
    Jackson used to love incorporating movie themes and scenes into game tape to break up the monotony of film sessions. During the Lakers' training camp this fall, Walton borrowed that Authentic Jorge Soler Jersey method, using a scene from Denzel Washington's "Man on Fire" to drill his team into running more. Washington is training Dakota Fanning to start swim races faster by honing in on the sound of the starting pistol, using two wooden blocks to simulate the gun sound.
    Preaching to the team to run off makes and misses, Walton had the team watch the clip of Washington training Fanning and then had Lakers assistant coach Jesse Mermuys smash two wooden blocks against each other, just like Washington, to signal the players to run in practice.
    "[Jackson] has been a pretty big influence on me," Walton said. "Last year I tried a bunch to not call timeouts and let the guys figure it out like he used to do with us. I have gotten softer at it. In the middle of the game, Phil's thing was he used to love that you guys are in this mess, figure a way to get yourself out. We would either lose by 20 or have to come together on the court and figure out how to stop the bleeding." While much of Walton's approach comes from the Jackson portfolio, Richard Jefferson, Walton's longtime friend and former teammate at Arizona, said the Lakers coach is more like his father.
    "Oh, he is a hippie," Jefferson said. "Make no mistake, that is Bill Walton's son out there. Say what you want about Phil and Steve, he grew up calling his dad Bill. All you have to do is look at his dad. So when you start seeing the new-wave stuff, don't just think that is from Phil Jackson."
    Like his free-spirited, tie-dyed father, Luke has not been afraid to speak his mind on issues, such as voicing his opinion during the preseason on why it was important for his team to lock arms as a show of solidarity during the national anthem. "My dad taught me and my brother since we were a young age to always question authority," Walton said. "It is not being a bad kid. It is doing what is right because you either need to understand what is going on or make changes for the better. That is kind of the mindset we were raised with as kids."

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    ATLANTA -- A swarm of bright red submerged Deion Jones as he held the ball tightly in the end zone. The Atlanta Falcons linebacker, decked out in his all-red color rush uniform, gave the home crown an adrenaline rush in the final moments of Thursday night's showdown with the New Orleans Saints.

    Deion Jones's interception in the end zone with less than 90 seconds to play Thursday Marc-Edouard Vlasic Authentic Jersey sealed a crucial victory for Atlanta. AP Photo/Danny Karnik
    Jones intercepted Drew Brees in the end zone with 1 minute, 25 seconds Mike Piazza Authentic Jersey to play, capping a stellar defensive effort against a potent Saints offense in what no doubt was the biggest Falcons' victory of the season, a 20-17 triumph over their biggest rival and the NFC South leaders. Now 8-5, the Falcons can continue the playoff conversation. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Falcons' chances to make the postseason increased from 36 percent to 52 percent with the win. Had they lost, those chances would have dropped to 19 percent.
    Most figured the offense would be what guided the Falcons to victory, if anything. But reigning MVP Matt Ryan struggled miserably, throwing three interceptions, two of which appeared to be solely on him. Penalties were a factor again on offense. And there was a questionable declined penalty late by Falcons coach Dan Quinn that allowed the Saints to convert a fourth-and-1 and keep a potentially game-winning drive alive.
    Then Jones, the New Orleans native who grew up rooting for the Saints, stepped in and stole the show. Literally. It was Brees' first red-zone interception of the season and just Atlanta's fourth overall. And the Falcons limited the Saints to 3-of-10 on third down, part of the reason a team that entered Thursday scoring 29.4 points per game managed only 17.
    Give defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel credit for dialing up pressure at the right time. Both Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn had key third-down sacks to foil Saints possession. True, the Falcons benefited on offense from a slew of New Orleans penalties that resulted in first downs. But no matter how they got it done, it was an important victory. Touchdowns by Devonta Freeman and Mohamed Sanu, along with two field goals by Matt Bryant -- who reached 1,000 points with the Falcons -- helped secure the victory.
    Now the Falcons -- still seventh in the playoff picture, right behind the Carolina Panthers (8-4) -- have to build off the win, no matter how ugly it was. They have consecutive road games against Tampa Bay and New Orleans before finishing the season at home against the Panthers. The postseason is within reach ... if the Falcons handle their business. The fact that Jones and the defense are stepping up the right time is a positive sign that could lead right to a postseason berth.
    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There are times when Rob Pelinka will walk down the hallway from his office at the UCLA Health Training Center, past Magic Johnson's office, where a flat-screen television is almost always tuned to sports shows, and down to Luke Walton's office.
    Sometimes, the sounds of the Grateful Dead and other '70s classic rock will be blaring out of the head coach's office as Walton gets "in the zone." Other times, Pelinka will find the room as quiet as a library, with Walton deep in meditation. "I usually keep going when I see that," the Los Angeles Lakers' general manager said, laughing. "Man, I keep it moving. I wait until he is back in the present."
    Luke Walton's present, however, is deeply connected to his past and to a collection of champions who had the most influence on his life: From his father, Hall of Famer Bill Walton, to his longtime coach and mentor, 11-time champion Phil Jackson, to the first boss of his professional coaching career, Steve Kerr, who collected five rings as a player and already has two more with the Warriors.
    It takes a certain type of unflappable personality to handle coaching in the entertainment capital of the world with a point guard who has Hollywood-sized hype and comes with the most opinionated father in all of sports. Perhaps the type of even-keeled personality that has been molded by Walton's Richard Panik Jersey eclectic championship collection of mentors.JEANIE BUSS POPS her head into an early October practice and finds Walton gathering his team at the center of the court to discuss the shooting in Las Vegas that took 58 lives just days before the Lakers are set to play a preseason game there.
    The Lakers' owner watches the team meeting and sees Jackson's Zen fingerprints all over it."[Jackson] knew that Luke was going to be somebody that would be a great coach," Buss said at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit in early October. "So now because of that relationship, he was talking to them about the emotions that people were feeling, and he was encouraging them to share how they were feeling."I thought this is like a touch of something that Phil brought to him, and I was so proud of what he was doing with these young men."

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    There was Tennessee QB Peyton Manning, who spurned NFL riches the year before to return to school to win an SEC title and throw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns. There was Michigan's do-everything playmaker Charles Woodson, who dominated at cornerback but also excelled on special teams and offense for the unbeaten and top-ranked Wolverines. There was the relatively unknown wide receiver at Marshall making defenses look silly in Randy Moss. And there was big-armed Washington State QB Ryan Leaf, leading the Cougars to the Rose Bowl.

    When Woodson edged Manning to become the first primarily defensive player to win the coveted award, it set off howls of protests in Knoxville, Tennessee. To this day, fans on all sides fiercely debate if the voters got it right.
    After turning down millions of dollars to return to school for his senior season, Manning endeared himself forever to Tennessee fans and entered the 1997 season as the prohibitive Heisman favorite. But for everything Manning accomplished at Tennessee, it's who he didn't beat, fair or not, that hounded him for much of his college career. He was 0-3 against Florida as a starter, and even though
    he was a 6-1 against Tennessee's other two big rivals (Alabama and Georgia), a 33-20 loss to the Gators -- highlighted by a Manning interception returned 89 yards for Andrew Sendejo Jersey a TD by Tony George -- in September 1997 was something many of the Heisman voters held against him and opened the door for somebody else to win it.
    ennessee OL Trey Teague: No doubt he would have won it had we beaten Florida. And sometimes when you're out in front that much, you've got a media that creates something to talk about, something people will pick up and read about. The media, in my opinion, kind of fueled Woodson's candidacy, and obviously Michigan was undefeated. So it allowed people to feel OK about that vote. If anybody looks back on it and says they still feel good about it, they're either lying to themselves or such a Michigan or Big Ten person that they have blinders on.
    George: Really, Peyton got screwed when he didn't beat E.J. Gaines Womens Jersey us for those four years. It's sort of a bittersweet moment for me, picking him off and returning it for a touchdown. You're like, "Yeah, I had something to do with it and maybe he did deserve it."
    Florida coach Steve Spurrier: Yeah, we seemed to always beat them, and I'm sure that didn't help Womens Roberto Luongo Jersey him any. But I don't know. Tennessee went ahead and won the SEC that year. Sometimes, those Midwest guys ... maybe they just wanted a defensive back to win the thing. I can see why all those Vols are still mad about it.
    Woodson was a highlight waiting to happen in 1997, but his one-handed interception in the 23-7 win over No. 15 Michigan State was a play for the ages. It was a pass Spartans quarterback Todd Schultz was just trying to throw away after being pressured, but Woodson had other ideas with a leaping pick on the sideline, one of two interceptions on the day. If he wasn't already a legit Heisman contender, he was after that gem.
    Then-Michigan State coach Nick Saban: I've been coaching for a long time in all the leagues -- NFL, Big Ten and SEC -- and he jumped up and made an interception that you never forget. It was one of those plays where you say, "How did he do that?" He was a phenomenal player. They used him on offense, and he was phenomenal. There are only a handful of players that you play against that really make a difference in a game, and even fewer on defense, but he did. It's harder to do on defense because you don't have the ball in your hands, but that guy did it in a lot of different ways.
    Michigan coach Lloyd Carr: From that point on, he was on everybody's radar, if he already wasn't. It was a day game, and that interception was all over the highlights. All afternoon and all night, they were replaying that play. From that point on, he just picked up momentum.
    Woodson: I had started to gain some momentum as far as people saying I was in the running and there was some buzz around me, but I think the one-handed catch against Michigan State was the moment when people finally decided I was a serious candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

  • Investment in shooting paying dividendsDateThu Dec 07, 2017 10:40 pm
    Blog post by smithlucky

    CLEVELAND -- LeBron James was on each of the previous two Cavaliers teams to win 13 consecutive games, in 2009 and 2010. And he was the hero again in Wednesday's 101-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings to give the current Cavs their 13th straight triumph, tying the franchise record he helped set years ago.

    Only this time around, he's doing more of his damage from beyond the 3-point arc, punctuating his improved shooting this season with a trey with 16.6 seconds left to grow the Cavs' lead from 2 to 5 and effectively end the Kings' night.

    The 3 was James' fifth of the night. He went 5-for-8 from deep -- even better than his sharpshooting teammate Kyle Korver, who went 4-for-8 -- to lift his 3-point shooting average to 43.0 percent for the season, a career high. The previous best mark for the 15-year veteran was 40.6 percent in 2012-13 with the Miami Heat. When the Cavs were off to those win streaks in 2009 and 2010, James shot 34.4 and 33.3 percent from deep, respectively.
    I just wanted to continue to improve my game," James said of his increased marksmanship this season. "I try to get better and better each and every year, and shooting the ball is what this league has kind of turned into, so for me Womens Jack Crawford Jersey to continue to improve, that's what I wanted to do. I put a lot of work into my offseason training and I just try to implement it into the season once it gets here."
    Two-time MVP Stephen Curry, widely credited for the 3-point revolution that the entire NBA has embraced, is shooting 38.1 percent from 3 this season, for comparison's sake. It was James' ninth game this season with three made 3s or more out of 25 games. Last season, James hit three 3s or more 17 times in 74 games. His dagger 3 on Wednesday came on the same playcall that freed James up for a game-winning 21-foot corner jumper in Game 4 of the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls to knot the series 2-2.
    That play, which James revealed came to be after he "scratched" the original plan that former Cavs coach David Blatt had drawn up with 1.5 seconds left that would have had James passing the ball in from underneath the hoop rather than shooting it, has since been dubbed "Chicago" by the Cavs' coaching staff.Coming out of a timeout with 20.6 seconds left in the fourth Walt Aikens Jersey quarter and clinging to a two-point lead against the Kings, James asked for "Chicago" again.
    "Was going to run a different play, and then Bron said, 'I want Chicago.' So I said, 'OK,'" said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. "We got it to him and he made a big shot. That was a huge play for us to put us up five."
    "Shoot it," James said with a smile. "I mean, I don't remember the exact time in Chicago when I made that shot, but it was very low. We drew that up on the fly and Delly [Matthew Dellavedova] gave me a great pass, and I was able to raise over top of Jimmy [Butler] and knock it down. And ever since then, it's been called 'Chicago.' But I mean, I have other options; but tonight, with five seconds on the shot clock, it was up to me to try and make a play and I was able to do that."
    The shot against the Bulls was a catch-and-shoot with James' foot on the 3 line, thus only counting for two points. James' shot against the Kings was created by a step-back move that took him from inside the 3-point arc to behind it. James is now 8-for-11 on step-back 3s this season, according to
    A lot of teams are not expecting me to shoot a lot of outside shots," James said. "But I feel just as comfortable out there as I do Ivan Provorov Womens Jersey in the paint. So, I'm just going to continue to improve my game where I'm keeping defenders and defenses off balance and they just don't know where it's going to come from."James' teammates know where Womens Wily Peralta Jersey the fuel behind their winning streak is coming from, however.
    "He's just demanding the ball," Korver said of James. "He's like, 'Give me the ball, we're about to win.' And I've been around some guys who've had amazing years. I've been playing with him, and Derrick when he was MVP. Allen Iverson when I was young. Guys who could just, man, amazing.
    "But [James has] taken this to a whole new level. It's amazing to have a better than a front-row seat, because I'm usually on the court next to him somewhere. So, he's playing really special basketball at the end of the game and, I'll say it again, I'm glad he's on my team.",107738

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    reg Wyshynski: Admittedly, the Olympic men's hockey tournaments that have involved NHL players have been absolutely extraordinary. Imagine the NHL All-Star Game, except instead of winning a big car after playing methodical exhibition hockey, the players are battling for national Adam Humphries Jersey pride, Olympic immortality and playing with a ferocity not seen until the deepest levels of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    There's just no replicating that, as anyone who saw the World Cup of Hockey will testify. The NHL players will be missed, even if I sympathize with the league in its battle against the abject greed and avarice Andre Iguodala Jersey of the International Olympic Committee.
    In place of that unmatched elite level of play? Great stories and new heroes. The chance for a player like Linden Vey, out of the NHL at 26, to become an Olympic hero for Team Canada. The chance for Matt Gilroy, an NCAA star who last played in the NHL in 2014, to win gold for the United States and maybe earn his way back to the league. Or the chance for Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk to win gold for ... uh ... "Olympic Athletes From Russia," or whatever.
    Therein lies the other big issue now facing the Games: that if there are no KHL players in the games, it'll drain the talent pool even further. No Kovalchuk or Datsyuk or Vey or Gilroy or dozens of others who compete in the Russian league. Every nation in the tournament will be impacted. The quality of play and familiarity with the players will drop.
    But even then, the tournament will be one I'll watch. First, because it's Olympic hockey, which is like catnip to me as an Olympic junkie and a puckhead. Second, because these dramatic decisions by the NHL and (potentially) the KHL will have thrown the whole thing into unpredictable chaos. All bets are off. One hot goalie for two weeks, and Slovenia is your gold medal winner. It's that nuts.
    I'll watch it for the drama, for the new faces, and for the old ones rescued from obscurity to become Olympic heroes. Meanwhile, for the incredible skill and brilliant intensity that we'll have lost with the lack of pros in these Games, there's only one place to turn: the women's ice hockey tournament, where Canada and the United States will continue their blood feud and have us all wondering why we're wasting so much attention on an inferior men's draw to begin with.
    Emily Kaplan: The NHL skipping the 2018 Olympics is a travesty for America. Team USA is enjoying a renaissance of young -- and marketable -- stars like we haven't seen in two decades. "The talent level now, it really reminds me of our group [in] the mid- to late-'90s," Mike Modano told me in August. And then Modano echoed what you've now been reminded of at least four dozen times since August. There's nothing like an Olympic stage: "The eyes of the world are on you, and it puts the NHL on the forefront," he said. "People get to see the best of the NHL players. To get all these stars together for a congested two-week period? It's an incredible way to market the game."
    So not only are we being denied the chance to watch Auston Matthews front and center for Team USA, plus the possibility of Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Eichel skating on a line together, but mainstream America is missing out on a much-needed introduction to these guys.
    I've come to grips, however, with the NHL missing the tournament. I'm not OK with it, but I've had time to process its absence. But if the KHL is out too -- and if there is potentially no Russian participation at all? That's another dagger. While it's going to be great to watch a crop of anonymous Americans conjure up their best 1980 Miracle on Ice imitation, the truth is, Team Russia offered the most intrigue (and remaining star power).
    Remember, a number of former Russian NHL players, like Ilya Kovalchuk, bypassed the NHL this season for a chance to play in the Olympics. The KHL boasts the best non-NHL talent in the world. International tournaments are about national pride. Considering the current political climate, a Russia vs. USA matchup might have generated (almost) as much attention as the terrific game between these countries in Sochi. USA vs. Canada would lose some luster, too, if the KHL blocks all of its players from going, even non-Russians. A bulk of the projected Canadian roster is playing in the KHL right now.
    Of course, I'll probably still watch as much of the Olympic tournament as I can. But I can't Authentic Marcus Cannon Jersey recommend it to casual hockey fans with nearly as much enthusiasm.Chris Peters: This is absolutely a fair question to ask, and I think that a large number of fans simply won't make time to watch the tournament now. With the time

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee's circuitous head-coaching search, which has Brian Gionta Jersey taken on just about every twist imaginable, is nearing an end, as the Volunteers are finalizing a deal with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, sources told ESPN.

    Tennessee expects to announce Pruitt as its football coach on Thursday, and a press conference to introduce him is planned for later in the day. Sources told ESPN that Pruitt plans to stay on as Alabama's defensive coordinator through the College Football Playoff, while pulling double duty as the Vols' head coach and spearheading their recruiting efforts and putting together his staff at Tennessee.
    Pruitt, 43, is in his second season as Alabama's defensive coordinator under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide are ranked first nationally in scoring defense this season and second nationally in total defense. Pruitt also is regarded as one of the top recruiters in the SEC. As an assistant coach, he has been a part of four national championship teams.
    Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee's former College Football Hall of Fame coach, replaced John Currie on Friday as the Vols' athletic director; he has spearheaded the coaching search ever since. Fulmer interviewed Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on Tuesday in New York City. Fulmer notified Tucker on Wednesday that the school was going in a different direction.
    Pruitt, a two-time Broyles Award finalist as the top assistant coach in college football, possesses two of the qualities that Fulmer put a premium on in his search for the Vols' next coach: a tough-minded defensive presence and a proven track record as a recruiter.
    A former defensive back at Alabama, Pruitt served two different stints on the Crimson Tide staff under Saban. He was initially coached in Tuscaloosa from 2007 to 2012, the last three seasons as defensive backs coach. Pruitt also was the defensive coordinator at Florida State on the Seminoles' 2013 national championship team, and he was the defensive coordinator at Georgia under Mark Richt for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, before returning to his alma mater.
    The son of legendary Alabama high school coach Dale Pruitt, he was an assistant coach in the high Devan Dubnyk Womens Jersey school ranks before catching on with his alma mater in 2007 as Saban's director of player development. Both of Pruitt's defenses as Alabama's defensive coordinator have led the country in scoring defense. His Florida State defense in 2013 also led the country in scoring defense.Saban, who hired Pruitt to replace Kirby Smart, called Pruitt a tremendous teacher of the game.
    "He knew our defense, knew how we wanted things done, because he'd been with us before and had gone out on his own and done an excellent job at Florida State and Georgia," Saban told ESPN last year. "I'm not into comparisons, but what I will say is that he's made it easier for our guys to play faster, more instinctive, and we've made very few mistakes. So much of coaching is how the kids respond, and they've responded great to Jeremy."
    Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Anderson, who was recruited to Alabama by Pruitt, said one of Pruitt's strengths is the way he connects with his players.
    "He can relate to anybody, and you see that with the way guys have bought into new roles, and guys have been able to move around and play different spots," Anderson said last year. "But the big thing he does is that he lets his dogs go hunt. There ain't no holding back."Pruitt would become the fifth different head coach at Tennessee in the past 11 years. He would replace Butch Jones, who was fired after going 34-27 overall and 14-24 in SEC play in five seasons in Knoxville.
    Fourth-ranked Alabama plays No. 1 Clemson in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
    It would be the third season in a row that Alabama has dealt with losing a coordinator before playing in the College Football Playoff. Two years ago, Smart was named Georgia's new coach before helping the Crimson Tide win their fourth national title under coach Nick Saban. Last season, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was named Florida Atlantic's coach and then was relieved of his duties by Saban only a week before Alabama lost to Clemson 35-31 in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week. Each Tuesday, we'll honor the skater or goalie from around the hockey world -- every league, every level, every player -- who had the best previous week, Monday through Sunday. If there's a player you'd like to nominate, from your local team to a high school team to your beer league, email us here. And remember: Stats only tell part of the story, so tell us why he or she deserves this honor.

    The 20-year-old forward now leads the Q in scoring after posting eight points in two games. He had two goals and two assists against both Charlottetown and Drummondville. By scoring what was his ninth game-winning goal of the year, Barré-Boulet has already tied the Armada's franchise record for most winning goals in a season. And we have a bit of season left to go.
    Garreffa had one of many eight-point efforts during Alonzo Mourning Jersey the past week, but his was a bit different: they were all assists, over three games for the Rangers. This 2016 profile of Garreffa by the Waterloo Region Record compared him to "Mr. Wolf from Kevin White Jersey Quentin Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction'" in that "like that character, Garreffa too solves problems, only he does it by playing defence or forward depending on the club's needs." Instead of cleaning up after a horrific murder, we guess.
    he Moose played three games last week. In those three games, Petan scored eight points. He had two goals and six assists for the Moose during three consecutive wins, as the team continued on a nine-game winning streak overall. Good to see this 22-year-old thriving with ice time rather than wasting away in the bottom six for the Jets. Ben Scrivens, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
    We have a Ben Scrivens sighting! The former NHL netminder helped Ufa Jonathan Bernier Womens Jersey to two wins in three starts, and shut out his opponents in both of those wins. Scrivens, 31, in those three starts, had a save percentage of .966, a goals-against average of 1.01 and his shutout streak currently stands at 125 minutes and 27 seconds. Daryl Watts, Boston College (NCAA)
    The Boston College first-year star had five goals and two assists in her team's past three games, mounting a serious challenge for the NCAA scoring title this season. Watts is a forward from Toronto who is a two-time member of Canada's Under-18 national team. She considers Canadian Olympic hero Marie-Philip Poulin as her favorite player, which makes her OK by us. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (NHL)
    The Jets have been one of the season's best stories, and Wheeler is one of the main reasons. He had 10 points (!) in four games, propelling the Jets to a 3-0-1 week and the top of the Western Conference standings. That includes two three-point games, against the Minnesota Wild and the Vegas Golden Knig
    Well, he's 9 years old. He started playing hockey in McDonough, Georgia, in an inline hockey league, where he fell in love with the sport and, specifically, with being a goalie. He now lives in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and plays for the U10 Jr. Bulldogs out of Hagerstown, Maryland. It's his first season playing on ice.
    The Bulldogs faced the Georgetown Titans last weekend. The Titans' goalie was sick, so forward Leopold Hylton was forced into action as their netminder. One problem: He had never played goalie, nor had he even ever worn the equipment before. Hylton's coaches told him that he was probably going to surrender some goals. He gave up seven. He came back to the bench, distraught, after the first period.
    During intermission, Whaley skated over and did something that sliced right through the ferocious, competitive clichés of youth sports: He gave his opponent an impromptu goaltending clinic. He taught Leopold how to move properly when facing shots, how to better use his gear in making saves. While it didn't turn him into Dominik Hasek, the chat helped calm Leopold down and allowed him to enjoy the next two periods. View image on Twitter
    Were this a "Mighty Ducks" movie, the angry self-centered coach probably calls Whaley a traitor and benches him for helping the enemy. Luckily, life doesn't always imitate art, and youth sports don't always imitate other levels of hockey. Every so often, we're reminded that the game is a game, and that sportsmanship can thrive in it.

  • Where will Yu Darvish end up?DateThu Dec 07, 2017 1:36 am
    Blog post by smithlucky

    I love watching Yu Darvish pitch. He's tall, lean and athletic, a pitcher sculpted by Michelangelo. The stuff is electric, the delivery -- he works from the stretch even with the bases empty -- is simple and fairly effortless with a leg kick that goes up to the lettering across his jersey, and he simply looks like the coolest kid in the class.

    Darvish is a free agent, but after five seasons in the majors -- not including 2015, which he missed due to Tommy John surgery -- it seems fair to admit that he's a No. 2 starter, and that he's not to going reach that 2013 pre-injury peak when he finished second in the Cy Young voting and struck out 277 batters in 209⅔ innings. His strikeouts dipped a bit in 2017 and his disastrous World Series performance when he lasted just 3⅓ innings over two starts and allowed nine runs cemented the idea that he's not an ace, if you like to label those things.

    I've always thought Darvish nibbled too much and didn't trust his fastball, leading to too many walks or hitter's counts, but maybe he simply lacks elite fastball command. When he gets to his slider or curveball he racks up the strikeouts, but the fastball and cutter still get him into trouble (batters slugged .450 against his fastball and .511 against his cutter in 2017).
    The rotation projections at FanGraphs put the Rangers at 28th in the majors, ahead of only the Orioles and White Sox. The Rangers' current payroll has room to sign Darvish -- and maybe another starter as well -- and they're obviously familiar with his work. The Rangers are one of the seven finalists for Shohei Ohtani, but getting him wouldn't preclude a deal for Darvish.
    Los Angeles Dodgers: Everyone seems to rule out a return to Los Angeles, especially after what happened in the World Series, but the Dodgers' rotation is still full of injury risks. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu have all spent extensive time on the DL in the recent past. Scott Kazmir is still around as well after missing all of 2017.
    Walker Buehler is banging on the door for a rotation job, however, and Yadier Alvarez and Mitchell White could be ready in 2019, so they have some young pitching on the way. Kershaw can also opt out of his deal after 2018, so they'll likely have to give him a pay raise to keep him around. Then there's the decision on whether to go after Giancarlo Stanton -- don't rule out that possibility just yet -- or keep some money in the bank to go after Bryce Harper for 2019. It all points to Darvish signing elsewhere, but the Dodgers might want another power right-hander for the rotation.
    Chicago Cubs: Jake Arrieta is a free agent. John Lackey is a free agent. The No. Grady Jarrett Womens Jersey 4 starter right now is ... Eddie Butler? The Jaromir Jagr Youth jersey Cubs obviously desire and need another starter to line up behind Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana.
    Would you rather have Darvish or Arrieta, who is a year older, but with less wear and tear on his arm and no Tommy John history? The concern about Arrieta is he has gone from 33 starts and 229 innings in his 2015 peak to 30 starts and 168 innings in 2017. Some of that lessened workload was by design, but pitching an inning less per start than in 2016 didn't improve his effectiveness. Still, Arrieta might make a rational alternative: Not quite as good, but maybe $60 million cheaper.
    St. Louis Cardinals: The attention given to acquiring Stanton at least proves one thing: The Cardinals are willing to take on a big contract. Everyone points to them looking for a big bat, but while they were seventh in the NL in runs scored they were also sixth in runs allowed. An upgrade is an upgrade.
    Right now, the rotation would be Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright (coming off a 5.11 ERA), Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty, with Alex Reyes on the mend from Tommy John surgery. Remember, they traded Mike Leake late last season to the Mariners and Lance Lynn is a free agent.
    Minnesota Twins: The Twins have given out one $100 million contract in franchise history, the eight-year, $184 million extension Joe Mauer Cam Neely Authentic Jersey signed back in 2010 (and is finally entering its final year). The second-biggest contract was for Justin Morneau, another homegrown player, but the biggest free agent deals have been $58 million for Phil Hughes and $55 million for Ervin Santana.

  • Just two years ago, the Cardinals had the mostDateWed Dec 06, 2017 9:58 pm
    Blog post by smithlucky

    prolific offense and were a game away from the Super Bowl. Since 2015, they've won just 12 games in the past two years while the offense has struggled not only to move the ball, but to score. It's not all Bruce Arians' fault.

    He's working without his starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, and star running back, David Johnson. However, if the Cardinals have a major meltdown in the last four games, the question of replacing Arians should be taken seriously. Otherwise, he'll be safe for at least another season, should he decide to return. -- Josh Weinfuss
    Dan Quinn guided the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl in his second season a year ago. Although that early success certainly pleased owner Arthur Blank, Blank isn't content with being a runner-up. He wants a title, especially after the Falcons came so close before blowing a 28-3 lead against New England. If Dorian Johnson Jersey the Falcons miss the playoffs this season, it won't cost Quinn his job. But if things start to spiral down moving forward, he's not immune to Blank's wrath. -- Vaughn McClure
    Any perceived heat for John Harbaugh has been reduced since the Ravens put themselves in prime position for their seventh playoff berth in 10 seasons under him. Harbaugh has always had strong public support from owner Steve Bisciotti, even after Baltimore missed out on the postseason the past two years. "I'm lucky to have a leader like him," Bisciotti said in August. But there will be increased scrutiny surrounding Harbaugh if the Ravens fall apart in the final four games like they did in
    This is a tough question about Jim Caldwell, and it's something of a yearly ritual. This season is a bit more difficult to gauge, and if I could put it at a 3.5, I would. A playoff appearance should mean he's safe, and even a 10-6 record with no playoff appearance should mean he's fine. Without knowing the length of his contract extension, it's tough to say what a 9-7 record or worse would mean for his job status. He does not seem to be as safe as he was six weeks ago, though. -- Michael
    On one hand, Jack Del Rio just signed a four-year contract extension in the offseason after leading the Raiders to a 12-4 record and their first playoff appearance since 2002. On the other, the Raiders are one of -- if not the most -- disappointing teams in the NFL this season. At 6-6, they're still in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West, but owner Mark Davis -- while not as impetuous as his late father Al, who ran through nine head coaches from 1995 through 2011 -- is not exactly in a great mood. As Del Rio himself said after firing defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. two weeks ago, nobody in the organization should be comfortable. -- Paul G6)
    This could get bumped up a notch if Ted Thompson retires -- or is forced to retire -- but the 64-year-old GM still has more than a year left on his contract. The Packers are not a shake-it-up organization, and that comes from the top in team president Mark Murphy. And even if the Packers did hire a new GM, there's a decent chance it would come from in-house (or someone who once worked in-house), where Mike McCarthy has strong support. -- Rob Demovsky
    After opening the season 0-4, Anthony Lynn's Chargers have won six of their past eight games and are tied atop the AFC West. So even if the Chargers were to fall flat in the last four games, it would be hard to believe the front office would move on from the first-year head coach. Lynn's job should be safe heading into 2018. -- Eric D.
    This was a "prove-it" year for Doug Pederson, and so far he has proven to be far better than most anticipated, even budding into a candidate for Coach of the Year. With the Eagles exceeding expectations and holding the league's best record for most of the season, Pederson has certainly earned at least another year barring total self-destruction down the stretch. -- Justin Patton Youth jersey Tim McManus
    The Titans are 17-11 Michael Hoomanawanui Womens Jersey since Mike Mularkey took over as full-time head coach before the 2016 season. That's tied with Philadelphia's Doug Pederson for the best record among the seven 2016 head coach hires. Mularkey is on his way to leading the Titans to their first playoff berth since 2008. The offense hasn't lived up to some of its high expectations, but barring a total collapse or aggressive desire for change, Mularkey should be safe. Currently in year two of a three-year deal, he's much more likely to get an extension than to be fired. -- Cameron Wolfe

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    Sometimes you're seeking a short-term add on the waiver wire to help your team get through a rough spell, while other times fantasy players are looking for that long-term addition that could help their roster over the rest of the season. It's more difficult to identify those skaters that can help now and later, and oftentimes those players are picked up for a short-term gain and end up staying on rosters because they continue to prove their worth.

    That said, not all players who have a good chance to help fantasy teams over the long haul are on rosters. This week, we are taking a spin through some of the wingers available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues who are in a position to help now and on a going-forward basis.
    These are not your 2016-17 Avalanche, and it's time fantasy players begin to collectively forget last season's nightmare. Landeskog built a profile, not as a prolific scorer, but rather as a player who could contribute across the board. Last season was certainly ugly,
    with his points dropping from 53 to 33 and his plus/minus going from minus-5 to minus-25. He's still not going to blow you away with offense, as his 82-game pace is currently for 61 points, but his other category contributions make the sum of the whole greater than the parts. Landeskog is on pace for a plus-32 rating, 230 shots on goal and 20:25 in average time on ice.
    The Canadiens have kicked their season back into gear thanks to the return of a rested and reset Carey Price. A 10-goal outburst against the Detroit Red Wings over the weekend was an exclamation point on a span that started with Price's return on Nov. 25. Gallagher has been playing on the Habs' second line with Tomas Brendan Gallagher Jersey Plekanec and Charles Hudon,
    collecting four goals and a helper during the five-game run of success. Gallagher's Myles Jack Jersey past two seasons don't inspire a lot of fantasy confidence, but he's also spent a good chunk of those campaigns in the press box with injuries. The last time Gallagher played a healthy season in 2014-15, he managed 24 goals and 254 shots on goal, more than earning his place on fantasy teams. Guess what? Gallagher's 82-game pace so far has him on track for 38 goals and 255 shots on goal. With an expectation that his shooting percentage returns to his career norm, that pace is about dead on for his 2014-15 campaign.
    Let's just admit that the magic in Jaromir Jagr's ageless legs has finally begun to fade a little. Concerns over the superstar stealing a role on the top line have been proven baseless, and Ferland continues to roll with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on a consistent basis. Admittedly, Ferland had a slow October settling in this season, but he has eight goals and 11 points in 14 games since Nov. 1. Only 14 players have more goals in that span.
    Lost somewhat in the fact that the Blue Jackets are struggling to cobble together their secondary scoring is the fact that the top line, such that it is, has been absolutely rolling. Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Anderson have been a consistent presence for coach John Tortorella, all while the other lines face juggling to find a rhythm. Because of that,
    the trio has also become the de facto top power-play unit for the Jackets. Anderson has been watching his ice time rise, eclipsing 17 minutes in each of the past eight games. It's a massive increase for a player who turned in 12:01 of ice time on average last season, and Anderson has responded to the added workload with 10 goals and 17 points in 25 games. Plus, he'll top his shots on goal total from last season before this season is half over if he keeps up his current pace.
    Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat seems to get more of the headlines, but Baertschi has been every bit as key a cog to the Canucks' top line (we can start calling them the top line, right?). Even in the midst of a cold spell that has the line playing separately for the
    time being, Baertschi's 82-game pace this season is still 52 points, with 18 of them on the power play. That's a very sustainable incremental increase in scoring that can be accounted for by additional ice time and power-play responsibility. Still just 25 years old, Baertschi has his best years still ahead of him. Maybe don't make this move until coach Travis Green has the young guns back together, though.

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    The dream scenario for most major league teams is to be a top contender while simultaneously building a top farm system that can meet the short-term and long-term needs of the organization. But as the saying goes, anything that can't go on forever won't, and like the British Empire, the sun has finally set on every great franchise so far in history, leading to down periods of short or long duration.

    We talk about the success cycle in baseball not because always competing isn't preferable but because the basic structure of the system puts significant pressure on successful teams. Players get rapidly more expensive as they hit the end of the arbitration years, and you can't always develop the exact player you need to replace that player. At the end of a team's run of excellence,

    you tend to see teams start to hit Payroll Hell, in which the team's payroll no longer matches its ability to win games and the minor league system is exhausted like an oil well from 1920. For these teams, escaping Payroll Hell will require a lot more than Orpheus with a lyre. Let's look at baseball's Seven Circles, using Baseball-Reference's reckoning for Eric Kendricks Womens Jersey payroll estimates.
    The trouble in Washington isn't quite here; we're talking about a team that won 97 games in 2017 and 95 in 2016 and looks to be one of the top contenders in 2018 as well. The Nationals have 12 MLB free agents this winter, and though that sounds like a lot, most of those players are secondary talent or were short-term pickups. Even the biggest name, Jayson Werth, didn't really contribute much to the past two successful Nats teams, and removing the $21 million he made yearly is a lot more helpful than his departure is a hindrance.
    There's danger on the horizon, however. Washington's payroll entering 2017 was $165 million. By Baseball-Reference's reckoning, Washington already has $169 million or so baked into the cake for 2018. 2019 is when things start to get scary, when the Nats go from 11 players with guaranteed contracts to four, but they will see that guaranteed money drop by only $33 million.
    That puts them around $140 million, but with no Bryce Harper, no Daniel Murphy, no Gio Gonzalez, no Matt Wiet ... OK, let's stop at those three. Those three players generated 14 bWAR for the Nationals. Add Anthony Rendon the following year and Stephen Strasburg's opt-out, and the Nats face an uncertain future.
    After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August, Watt started a fundraiser to help those affected by the devastating flooding in the area. In less than three weeks, Watt raised more than $37 million.
    In October, Watt announced that $30.15 million of the funds will be distributed among four nonprofit organizations to help rebuild homes, restore child-care centers and provide food and medical care. Watt has been on injured reserve since Week 5 after he broke his leg against the Kansas City Chiefs. Watt was in New York City on Monday, and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon when the Authentic Myles Jack Jersey award was announced.
    Watt discussed his injury, saying that he is feeling great while recovering from his surgery. He had a cane while he was on the show, but joked that he just uses it to "one, appease my trainer, and two, to get sympathy from my girlfriend."
    Free-agent left-hander Mike Minor has reached agreement on a contract with the Texas Rangers pending completion of a physical exam, a baseball source confirmed to ESPN on Monday. Minor, 29, is 44-42 with a 3.93 ERA over six seasons with the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals. He underwent shoulder Christian Kirksey Jersey surgery in May 2015 and did not pitch in the big leagues that year or in 2016.
    But he returned to log a 2.55 ERA and 1.01 WHIP and strike out 88 batters in 77⅔ innings of relief with Kansas City this season, and he was a prime target Jakub Voracek Youth jersey of several clubs as a free agent. Terms of Minor's deal weren't immediately available. He joins starting pitcher Doug Fister as the second addition to Texas' pitching staff this offseason. he Athletic was first to report Minor's pending deal with the Rangers.,108273

  • How Nebraska brought Scott Frost homeDateTue Dec 05, 2017 9:49 pm
    Blog post by smithlucky

    LINCOLN, Neb. -- The pieces that led to Nebraska's hiring of Scott Frost as football coach over the weekend did not fall into place out of a fairy tale. As late as Friday night, Frost harbored deep reservations about leaving his unbeaten team at UCF. A lengthy conversation with his mentor and former coach, Tom Osborne, persuaded Frost to stick with the decision to return to his alma mater. And without the deliberate work of Matt Davison, Frost's ex-teammate and close friend, the Cornhuskers likely would have lacked the connection to strike a deal.

    Osborne and Davison gave Nebraska a much-needed edge in this process, teaming with athletic director Bill Moos, who pushed every proper button to tap into Frost's love for his home state and the program he helped lead to a share of the national title as a quarterback 20 years ago. Frost never seriously considered other suitors, though they came at him hard Womens Niklas Backstrom Jersey -- in particular Florida -- as his high-octane offense and remarkable two-year turnaround with the Knights attracted widespread attention.

    Still he struggled considerably with the timing to accept the Nebraska job, a position, seemingly, for which he was born -- as the son of an ex-Huskers wingback under coach Bob Devaney and an Olympian shot put and discus thrower who coached at the school. "In the end, a lot of this was about integrity and how you go about your business," Moos said Sunday after Frost's formal introduction, a homecoming celebration among dozens of former teammates hungry for Nebraska's return to a powerful spot in the sport. "It was easy. And that's not the norm anymore."
    BY EASY, Moos means simply Eric Weddle Authentic Jersey that Frost's courtship went smoothly, free of the drama that has plagued Tennessee and others in this hiring season. Though Davison has told anyone willing to listen for the past decade that Frost would ascend to this spot in Lincoln, the key events in the chain began in earnest 11 weeks ago.
    Nebraska started miserably this fall, allowing 42 first-half points in a Week 2 loss at Oregon, then falling at home a week later to Northern Illinois. Just like that, Shawn Eichorst was fired as athletic director. His Sept. 21 ouster inserted Nebraska president Hank Bounds and chancellor Ronnie Green into a position of direct oversight above the football program, which last won a conference title in 1999.
    Moos was hired on Oct. 15, a surprise choice from Washington State. His savvy soon showed. Bounds, the university president, said he and Green never told Moos that he must terminate then-coach Mike Riley. And Frost, despite his esteemed status at Nebraska and growing profile nationally, did not come up in Moos' initial conversations. "We trusted Bill to do the right thing," Bounds said. "Bill has a lot of experience, a lot of good experience. I just think he handled this masterfully."
    As UCF continued to win, Nebraska sank. Blown out in consecutive weeks by Wisconsin and Ohio State ahead of Moos' hire, the Huskers lost in overtime on Nov. 4 to resurgent Northwestern. It was their fifth loss and ultimately a backbreaker. Nebraska was not competitive in consecutive defeats to Minnesota, Penn State and Iowa, sliding to 4-8, its fewest wins in a season since 1961.
    Communication increased between Moos and his bosses as Riley was unable to correct the tailspin. Bounds said he and Moos talked "almost every day" in November. And they quickly began to focus attention on the 42-year-old Frost, whom Donald Stephenson Authentic Jersey Moos had admired during Frost's time as offensive coordinator at Oregon from 2013 to 2015.
    Meanwhile, Davison stayed in the ear of his old friend. "It was a one-way conversation almost every day, and it was a two-way conversation when Scott had time," Davison said. DAVISON AND FROST forged a friendship in 1997. Davison was a true freshman out of Tecumseh, Nebraska, and Frost a fifth-year senior who had transferred home from Stanford two years earlier.
    In November of that season, one of the most iconic plays in school history forever linked the duo. Frost's pass from the 12-yard line as time expired at Missouri hit the right foot of Shevin Wiggins and bounced to a diving Davison in the end zone. The reception forced overtime and preserved Osborne's perfect final season. Posters were made of the play. Frost and Davison signed thousands of them.
    Frost played six years in the NFL. Davison enjoyed a prolific receiving career at Nebraska and played basketball at the school. As Frost got into coaching at Kansas State, Northern Iowa and Oregon in 2009, Davison entered broadcasting, among other endeavors. He remains the analyst for Nebraska football and basketball on the radio. hey stayed close and stood in each other's weddings -- Davison for Frost just last year.

  • Blog post by smithlucky

    You can tune in for bone-crushing tackles. You can stand up and cheer when a running back trucks a linebacker. And, yes, you can still be repulsed by two plays that will hover over this game -- and perhaps the NFL -- for weeks and months to come.

    This is not the time to argue, stubbornly and with fleeting merit, that football must be accepted as an uncontrollably vicious and unavoidably violent game. Indeed, it once was. But it can no longer be, at least not in the context we're accustomed to. We know too much now about the long-term impact of brain injuries to simply tolerate the unconscionably directed hits that Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown absorbed in the fourth quarter of the Steelers' 23-20 victory.

    Burfict left the field on a stretcher to be evaluated for a concussion, the victim of Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster's illegal block. Less than four minutes later, Bengals safety George Iloka drilled Brown's face mask after a game-tying touchdown. The plays came amid the pall of a frightening first-quarter injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was taken to a local hospital because of a back injury.
    The Shazier injury happened innocently enough, Patty Mills Youth jersey after he lowered his head to make a routine tackle. To be fair, most of Monday night's game was played within reasonable boundaries of roughness. These teams have a long and heated rivalry, flush with a history of legal and illegal hits in recent years. That's almost certainly why Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, when asked about the viciousness of the game, blew it off as "AFC North football."
    But that just can't be, not anymore, not if you recognize the way the wind is blowing with this sport and game. I spoke this summer with Dr. Bennett Omalu, who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by identifying it in the brains of deceased NFL players. In his opinion and the opinions of many other medical professionals, the science of repeated brain injuries is settled.
    "There is no such thing as a safe blow to the head," he said. "And then when you have repeated blows to your head, it increases the risk of permanent brain damage. Once you start having hundreds or thousands of blows, there is a 100 percent risk of exposure to permanent brain damage. The brain does not have a reasonable capacity to regenerate. This is something we have always known."
    In other words, if you play football long enough, you're going to be exposed to permanent brain damage. That doesn't necessarily mean everyone will fall victim, of course. But if you think that focus on brain health in Thaddeus Young Youth jersey football is a fad or a passing concern or anything other than central to the future of the game, then you haven't been paying attention lately. This isn't going away. At some point, a moral reckoning will arise among fans -- if it hasn't already -- who no longer feel entertained by watching players bashing each other's brains.
    Even the NFL has accepted a reality in which it must at least attempt to minimize head trauma, be it subconcussive hits on a daily basis or clinical concussions in games. That acceptance has manifested itself in a set of rules that Smith-Schuster and Iloka blew through Monday night.
    Both were well within their rights to initiate a high degree of contact. Smith-Schuster was trying to block a much larger man from tackling a teammate, while Iloka was trying to break up a touchdown reception. But whether by intent or simple lack of control, both players hit their opponents in the head.
    When you combine their hits with the cheap shot for which New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was suspended one game on Monday, you realize that the NFL still has work to do to convince players to respect what must be a red line for avoidable contact to the head. The ask is simple: Do everything you can to minimize Henry Anderson Womens Jersey head shots. That alone won’t solve the issue, but it should be a minimum for any serious attempt to make the game safer for the brain.
    Maybe the NFL will assert itself to a greater extent. It's possible that Smith-Schuster and/or Iloka will meet Gronkowski's fate and face a suspension. But the point will not be to water down the game or take away someone's manhood or earn credit by clutching pearls. It will be to preserve the vast majority of a game that many people love, at the expense of a level of savagery from which we can all stand to evolve.,107566

  • Two seasons ago, Brees and Eli Manning setDateTue Dec 05, 2017 1:32 am
    Blog post by smithlucky

    a league record by combining to throw for 13 touchdowns in a wild 52-49 Saints victory in the Superdome. For Eli Manning, who was benched Sunday in Oakland, it might feel like that shootout unfolded 10 years ago. Without warning, things can change dramatically in the NFL. Brees is smart enough to know that. He's also smart enough to survey the NFC side of the draw in the coming playoffs and see opposing quarterbacks who could be at a major disadvantage.

    Carson Wentz of Philadelphia, Case Keenum of Minnesota and Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams have never started a playoff game, while Brees has started 11. If presented with those facts, Brees would likely react the way he did when reminded Sunday that he had moved into the No. 2 spot on the all-time completions list."You play long enough," Brees said, "then I guess those things happen. It just makes me think of all the guys that have caught the balls and all of those guys blocking."
    Only now is the time to think of the one guy who does the throwing. The incomparable No. 9, rapidly approaching birthday No. 39. Drew Brees has a hell of a team this year, and a hell of a chance to grab that second Super Bowl ring before it's too late.
    The New England Patriots are the holiday earworm of the NFL, and especially of the Buffalo Bills. It's December, and Tom Brady's bunch has won eight games in a row -- the latest a routine 23-3 dismantling of their perennial punching bags here in Western New York on Sunday. New England is now 30-5 against Buffalo over the past 18 seasons -- a fact of which first-year Bills coach Sean McDermott was made well aware Nashville Predators Youth jersey by local media all week. He didn't need reminding.
    "They're a very good team," McDermott said when it was over. "I was mentioning to their coaches before the game, I felt like this is one of the strongest teams I've seen from them."
    Which is saying something, of course. That's not like buttonholing the Los Angeles Rams' coaching staff Jacquies Smith Womens Jersey and telling them this is their strongest team in a while. The Patriots have won 10 or more games in each of the past 15 seasons. If you're an especially good Patriots team, you have a chance to be one of the great teams of all time.
    Time will obviously tell on that, but to watch the 2017 Patriots is to see something special -- and not just on Brady's side of the ball. Yeah, there he was hitting Rob Gronkowski nine times for 147 yards while the Pats rolled up 191 rushing yards on the Bills. But it's the other side of the ball that's really making people stand up and pay attention to this New England team. For whatever reason, even as it continues to lose key player after key player on defense, this Patriots team doesn't give up many points.
    "It's a cliché, that whole 'next man up' thing, it really is, but it's so true here," Patriots safety Duron Harmon said. "[Coach Bill] Belichick and the guys just do such a good job of preparing everybody."
    The Pats were prepared Sunday, but at the start, it looked as if it might not matter. Tyrod Taylor and the Bills bled more than seven minutes off the clock while marching the ball all the way to the New England 6-yard line on their opening drive. Things were going exactly to Buffalo's preferred script Kevin White Womens Jersey -- run the ball, eat up the clock, keep Brady on the sideline -- until Taylor threw an interception at the goal line, and that was that.
    Oh, sure, it took a little while. The Patriots' offense sputtered a bit through the first half, mustering only three field goals and giving rise to a Brady tantrum directed at offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. New England led 9-3 at the half and things were still theoretically in doubt -- as much as a Patriots-Bills contest can be.
    But Buffalo had bigger problems. Taylor sustained a knee injury on the opening drive of the game, and while he stuck it out into the fourth quarter, it was bad enough that he couldn't finish the game. Neither, of course, could a porous Bills run defense that has allowed a league-worst average of 177 rushing yards per game over the past five weeks. The Patriots methodically drove their way to two Rex Burkhead touchdowns in the third quarter, killing any remaining suspense, while the defense pitched a second-half shutout.
    "After that first drive, things settled down," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. "For us, it's about understanding what kind of game it is. So that first drive gives you an idea what you're up against. Getting a turnover down in the red area gave us some momentum."

Content created by smithlucky
posts: 0
Page 1 of 4 « Page 1 2 3 4 Page »
0 Members and 34 Guests are online.

We welcome our newest member: yguhujvh
Board Statistics
The forum has 18389 topics and 21192 posts.

12 members have been online today:
Angel92, berry36923, caicai2017, chengjiayim, Melissa Underwood, misshuana, pingfan, smithlucky, wangqing, yguhujvh, yuitfurk, zihua new

Xobor Create your own Forum with Xobor