Month: January 2017

This is where the Manny test case will play out

These days, he’s going through counseling and considers himself a recovering addict. On a recent afternoon, he logged on to his PC and called up his Steam account. It showed that he had made a total of $8,365 in purchases since joining in 2012. He looked at the balance that is left: 4 cents.

“It’s almost like a whole different person did that,” he said, staring at the screen. “Looking at that, it’s not me.” He paused. “At least, that’s not who I wanted to be.”

Assael is one of the original staff members at ESPN The Magazine, and a member of the network’s Enterprise & Investigations Group. He is a contributor to Outside the Lines and the author of four books. His most recent is The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin and Heavyweights, a Boston Globe best sports book of 2016.

After Sports Illustrated broke the story before the 2009 season, he said he had started using them only after he signed the then-largest contract in American sports history, a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

When he led the Yankees’ offense in the playoffs later that year, he talked about how a burden had been lifted off his shoulders, allowing him to perform up to his capabilities.

A-Rod, though, couldn’t help himself and was back on the PED train soon after. Really, there is no telling when he was off it.

This is where the Manny test case will play out. Will the majority of voters one day decide they don’t care at all about PEDs? With Selig in and Clemens and Bonds suddenly well-positioned, that is maybe where this will end up.

If that is the case, the question A-Rod really wanted to discuss in all those locker-room conversations will have an answer. He will be a Hall of Famer, and his accomplishments on the field will be validated.

The NFL may be getting a spring league in 2016, whatever that means

Former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel may have revealed a curious development in the NFL on Tuesday. Speaking with SiriusXM NFL radio, Fassel said there could be “a very good spring league opening next year in the NFL.”

What this would entail is difficult to say. Would spring league teams be associated with current NFL teams? Would players essentially be additional members to the teams’ currently mandated 90-man offseason rosters? How would it comply with the NFL’s current rules about limited contact during offseason practices? Would this mean that some football players could play a couple dozen, or more, games in a calendar year?
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Players currently employed by the NFL wouldn’t be able to participate without violating the collective bargaining agreement, so presumably the league would be an opportunity for veteran free agents and undrafted rookies to show off for teams in a makeshift farm league. Pretty good idea, right? More football, the better? Except for the fact that one-off football leagues, even the NFL-backed NFL Europe, have a pretty poor track record of success.

SAD NEWS: Former Browns receiver JuJuan Dawson was found dead in a Texas lake on Monday.

Earnest Byner Limited Jersey SPRING LEAGUE: Is the NFL on the verge of implementing a spring league? That’s what Jim Fassel thinks. We have some questions about how an NFL spring league would work.

KROMER ON LEAVE: The Bills put Aaron Kromer on paid leave, per NFL personal conduct policy, while police investigate his alleged brawl with some minors in Florida.

Washington president Bruce Allen refuses to change team name even if it means no D.C. stadium

Washington team president Bruce Allen told reporters on Monday that the club still refuses to change its name, even if it means the franchise won’t be able to build a new stadium in the nation’s capital.

“No,” Allen said when asked whether the team would be willing to change its name, via The Washington Post.

Last month, the Obama administration said it would not support a new football stadium until the club alters its nickname.

Washington wants to build a new facility on the site that is currently occupied by RFK Stadium. Interior Security Sally Jewell said the National Park Service, which owns the land, would probably not approve construction of it.

Washington has a lease to play its home games at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. until 2026, but the team is looking to move closer to the D.C. Metro area. The club is also considering sites in Virginia, where it currently holds training camp, though the average camp attendance dropped by nearly 5,000 people this summer.

But since this is the fourth game of the preseason, rookie quarterback Bryce Petty will probably play the majority of the game for the Jets. He went 5 of 8 for 42 yards last week, and head coach Todd Bowles said he’s improving each time he steps on the field.

Besides watching Petty play, there are a number of end-of-the-roster battles to look for with the Jets, including at linebacker where Erin Henderson could provide some depth for the Jets at that position. It’s pretty safe to assume the majority of Jets starters won’t be out there, as the club will already be a little thin up front in Week 1 with Sheldon Richardson serving his suspension.

Perhaps the best news the Jets will receive this week, regardless of how Thursday’s game plays out, is that star rookie defensive lineman Leonard Williams checked out OK following an injury scare last week.

Reece’s job was to lead Rawls through the hole and block the other linebacker

“The linemen are zone-blocking, and the fullback¡¯s man-blocking. Because the [left guard’s] starting a double-team and he comes off on the off-side backer.”
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This play gained 14 yards, and the Seahawks ran iso lead seven times for 47 yards (6.4 YPC). Overall, they had a lot of success with Reece as a lead blocker.

“He knows how to target that thing,” Cable said. “And he can do what¡¯s called read off the block. So if a lineman¡¯s in a combination, he can read off that. And if we take his, he takes ours. We call it the ‘pizza theory.’ If you take my piece of pizza, I¡¯ll take yours. And he¡¯s really good at it.”

Suddenly, Reece, a player who was not even on the roster a month ago, looks like he will have a prominent role going forward.

Rawls ran the ball 10 times for 68 yards (6.8 YPC) out of the I-formation with Reece as his lead blocker. And their go-to play out of this look was “iso lead,” a run that has been in the playbook but was rarely used during the regular season.

The Seahawks were in 22 personnel here (two running backs, two tight ends). Left guard Mark Glowinski and center Justin Britt executed a double-team, and Glowinski peeled off to block the linebacker.

Limited Omer Asik Jersey Reece’s job was to lead Rawls through the hole and block the other linebacker.

“The fullback is leading on the first linebacker, and the line blocks the second linebacker from the outside in, meaning from the left to the right,” Mudd said. “They call it a ‘bob’ play. The old way, you called it something-bob — 25 bob or something. Bob means back on ‘backer.

Seahawks coaches talk often about how the run game is not just about the offensive line

When the Seahawks signed Marcel Reece before Week 14, there was little reason to believe he’d be a difference-maker down the stretch. Seattle had drifted away from runs that involved the fullback, and the team didn’t add Reece until Will Tukuafu suffered a concussion.

During the regular season, Rawls ran the ball 109 times, and only seven of those carries (for 5 yards) came out of the I-formation with a fullback.

But this past Saturday was a different story.
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“That was the plan going in — to get [Reece] a little more involved now that he¡¯s been here a couple weeks,” said Tom Cable, assistant head coach/offensive line coach. “Just normal ball for us. If you think about it, we looked more like we¡¯ve always looked.”

Here, the Seahawks were in 11 personnel (one running back, one TE), and the Lions had two deep safeties. This is a major difference from what Seattle will see in the divisional round. The Falcons are a single-high safety team, which gives them an extra defender to play the run.

Seahawks coaches talk often about how the run game is not just about the offensive line. Tight ends and wide receivers have to do their parts as well. On this particular play, the tight end is often asked to help block an edge defender.
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This was not a shotgun run in which Russell Wilson was reading the edge defender. And the scheme allowed Willson to get a favorable matchup.

“This covers everything so the tight end doesn¡¯t squeeze down from the right,” Mudd said. “If you had him squeezing down from the right, this would be full zone. And the tight end would stay out there. They can¡¯t read the defensive end that¡¯s outside the right tackle because the quarterback¡¯s underneath center. So they just man-blocked that side, put the tight end in on the offside ¡®backer and then took the center, left guard, left tackle and committed them to the defensive tackle, the defensive end and that ¡®backer (No. 54).”

Andy Dalton sat at his locker Monday afternoon after his team’s dynamic overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks

That depends on San Diego’s desire to run a two-tight end offense, but that’s something they might do more with Gates back and rookie running back Melvin Gordon itching for a big game. Gordon has 56 carries for 228 yards on the season, but he has yet to find the end zone.

Game Mens Tyler Lockett Jersey If the Steelers have one thing they definitely have to attack on Monday, it’s San Diego’s offensive line. That line was missing three starters against the Browns, and while some of those players may be back, it’s a unit that is clearly not playing at 100 percent. The Steelers have 14 sacks on the season, good for fourth in the league, and if they can get to Rivers, it could be a big day for them.

Andy Dalton sat at his locker Monday afternoon after his team’s dynamic overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks the day before and listened to all of this.

Same sting. Nothing new. Nothing personal.

But Jordan is Jordan, and watching him was an experience that can’t be compared with anyone else. He completed the impossible in his own individually brilliant way. By the same reasoning, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers, and seeing him in full flight is unique in its own way.

He is the deadliest and most valuable player in the National Football League and he’s only getting better.

Kurt Warner Womens Jersey The same demeanor is apparent in Rodgers as he smirks at defenders after throwing another touchdown to Randall Cobb or when he harbors a slight and waits almost an entire season to beat the Seahawks and then mock them by asserting that “… God was a Packers fan tonight.”

Compared to the typical front-office executive, Phil Jackson comes with a lot of baggage

Whether it’s criticizing star Carmelo Anthony for holding the ball too much, his strong association with the triangle offense or angering the league’s best player with his word choice, Jackson brings unique issues.

Youth Brian Robison Jersey We’re approaching three years since he took over the New York Knicks as team president, and coming up on the mutual option that allows either side to get out of the last two seasons of his contract.
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So it’s time to ask: Is Jackson worth the trouble?

An unlikely contributor emerged in Ron Baker, who didn’t play in the first three quarters, but he played all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter as Jeff Hornacek kept Derrick Rose on the bench.

Baker had six points and a career-high four assists. He finished plus-18, by far the best plus-minus of his 12-game career (previous best was plus-8). Baker had totaled two minutes, 59 seconds of playing time in the Knicks’ previous eight games.

Entering Friday, the Knicks had lost 109 straight games when trailing by at least 13 points entering the fourth quarter.

The last time the Knicks won a game after trailing by at least 13 points entering the fourth quarter was on Jan. 1, 2010, when they beat the Hawks after entering the fourth down by 13. It’s the fourth time in the past 20 seasons that the Knicks came back from at least 13 points down entering the fourth quarter.

It was the largest deficit overcome to win entering the fourth quarter of Anthony’s career.

The NHL is a business

The NHL is a business. Yes, it is a business dependent upon its fans and fan interest, but that’s fan interest as a whole, not the interest of a select group of fans.

The formula has proven successful so far for the league and the participating teams, but in recent years fan fatigue has become apparent. The league increased the number of outdoor games in 2011, bringing back the Heritage Classic that February, a month after the Winter Classic.

The Cardinals are a team full of capable Joe Pavelski Authentic Jersey starters, short on high-end talent. Carlos Martinez, however, breaks the mold. He led the team in fWAR in 2016, and is projected to do the same in 2017. You James Develin Game Jersey might be aware of the fact that fWAR only considers fielding-independent results, and that might sell Carlos short. I found that while his K’s have dropped this year, he was allowing weaker contact.

That could just be random, or it could be a logical result from a strategy of pitching more to contact. Don’t take my word for it? That’s understandable. Fangraphs writer Rylan Edwards found that Carlos was the only pitcher in baseball with three pitches with above-average movement vertically and horizontally. That seems to earn him both more called strikes than average, as well as weaker contact than average.

While there is understandably a lot of excitement surrounding Top Prospect Alex Reyes and the chance he becomes an ace, El Gallo is the Cardinals player most likely to obtain superstar status in the near future. He also only has three years of control left. Newest VEB writer Josey Curtis has already floated the idea, as has Jeff Todd of

Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who was New England’s vice president of Player Personnel from 2002-2008

Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who was New England’s vice president of Player Personnel from 2002-2008, fired Crennel at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Four days later, Pioli was ousted as well. The environment in Kansas City had reportedly grown so toxic that team employees, including ex-head coach Todd Haley, believed Pioli had bugged their cellphones.

The situation doesn’t appear to be that bad in Houston, though there have been numerous reports of discontent between O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith. Most notably, the two feuded over whether to cut quarterback Ryan Mallett after he had missed a team flight in late October. The Texans released Mallett Oct. 27.

Coughlin’s future with the organization and in the league as a whole is murky at best. He’s led the Giants to a pair of Super Bowl titles, but questionable decisions have led to many of the team’s losses over the past few seasons. The Giants have been completely unable to close out games in the final quarter.

New York lost to the New England Patriots, 27-26, then to Washington by just four points, and in their last game they fell to the New York Jets in overtime. That’s an eight point differential over the past three games, all of which have been losses.

But winning the NFC East is still a possibility. New York split the season series against Dallas and Washington, and with a pivotal game against Philadelphia set up for Week 17 (the same week the Cowboys and Washington will play each other), they can split that series as well. But the remaining schedule includes very tough games against the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings.

In other words, they can’t afford to lose their Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins hold a 5-7 record like the Giants, but they are in fourth place in the AFC East and are also well out of the race for a wild card spot. Interim head coach Dan Campbell has led the Dolphins to a few wins since Joe Philbin was fired just four games into the season, but there isn’t much confidence in the team these days.