Monday, August 15, 2011

Sports Quick Hits - 8/15

Sorry for the delays between posts. But we're back, and there's a rumor going around that we may see the return of Chizzy soon.

Football is finally back! Well, preseason football that is. Just a few observations from the limited action I saw over the weekend:

1) Philip Rivers is good. Really, really good. The Chargers offense should be fine.

2) It could be a really long season for Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Question: If they finish as bad as I think they will, do they draft Andrew Luck next year? If he enters the Draft that is.

3) Colts fans should start worrying about Peyton Manning's neck injury. Without him, they're not a good football team.

4) As dumb as the new kickoff rule is, I was surprised to see some long returns this weekend. Kudos to Lovie Smith and the Bears for totally ignoring the rule and having Robbie Gould kickoff twice from the 30 yard line to practice coverage (the new rule dictates you must kickoff from the 35 and players may have only a maximum of a 5 yard run-up to the ball).

5) Ryan Mallett is by far and away the most pro-ready of the rookie QBs, but he won't start this year being stuck behind Tom Brady. That said, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, and Jake Locker were all fairly impressive in their preseason debuts.

Obviously there were a ton of transactions right after the lockout ended. Here's 5 moves that I like and don't like made by teams.

Moves I like:

1) The Eagles signing multiple free agents and dealing Kevin Kolb. The Eagles got a king's ransom for a pretty unproven player. Landing Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha gives them the best trio of CBs probably ever. Ronnie Brown gives them a power runner, and adding the Giants Steve Smith gives them a nice option in the slot. However, I'm not sure they'll get away with having Casey Matthews starting at MLB all year.

2) The playing hardball and retaining Ahmad Bradshaw. The diminutive power runner tried to up his contract status by visiting Miami and scheduling one to Cincinnati. Miami said his demands were too high and the Giants brought him back for slightly less than what Bradshaw wanted from Miami. Good move for both parties there.

3) Darren Sproles to the Saints. Mark Ingram will be the workhorse there, but let's face it, Sproles is an upgrade to Reggie Bust...I mean Bush. While he's not as fast as Reggie, he's a better runner between the tackles, is a much better kick returner (look up the numbers for yourself, Reggie was pretty damn bad), and can do all the things out of the backfield that Bush did for New Orleans. Their offense could be scary-good. Remember, in 2009, Brees was only 18 yards shy of breaking Marino's signle-season record (5,084 in 1984). Brees could challenge that.

4) Minnesota trading for Donovan McNabb. This comes with the caveat that McNabb is 100% into football this year. The Vikings have a lot of pieces in place and have Adrian Peterson to rely on. Sidney Rice leaving creates a void on offense, but I think Minnesota will find ways to manage their downfield attack. McNabb at least offers a nice mentor to Christian Ponder, again, with the caveat that he's totally into football this year.

5) Okay, not NFL related, but Andrew Luck's beard is on the road to magnificence.

5 Moves I don't like:

1) Reggie Bush to Miami: New Orleans gave him up for a 6th round pick and reserve safety Jonathon Amaya. That's pretty telling to me. He himself has admitted his knee is messed up, and Miami trying to pass him off as a true #1 RB is just a disaster in waiting.

2) The 49ers keeping Alex Smith. Just watching their first preseason game was pretty ugly. I'll give Jim Harbaugh the benefit of the doubt for now, but Colin Kaepernick wasn't stellar either. However, a reunion of Harbaugh and Andrew Luck in 2012 would bring more attention to the 49ers than they've had since a man named Rice caught passes there.

3) Chris Johnson holding out in Tennessee. I understand the man wants paid, and deservedly so, but just get to camp already. Tennessee is willing to play ball and will make you the highest paid RB ever. But, the more Johnson stays away, the more Javon Ringer (a high school nemesis of mine) can ease into the starting role.

4) Marcel Dareus in Buffalo. What happened man? You showed up at the Draft weighing in at 318lbs and looking great. 1st day of training camp in Buffalo - 343lbs. Yikes. However...

5) ...that's small potatoes compared to Bryant McKinnie in Minnesota. The once elite left tackle has eaten himself off the roster and up to nearly 400lbs. Someone has to protect Donovan McNabb's backside or the Ponder era will start early.

First and foremost, apologies to JM. His Brewers are for real this year and are a legitimate contender. My Reds however, are done - stick a fork in them. Too much drama in the front office between Dusty Baker and Walt Jockety, too many injuries, and half the team coming back to earth (I believe I said that would happen in my NL preview) a little harder than expected has ended their season prematurely. Nice to see Dontrelle Willis coming back strong though.

How good are the Phillies? At 37 games above .500 (78-41 record) they have a nice lead on the Atlanta Braves, currently 9 games. They've run away with the divison as the third place Mets are just 20.5 games back.

The NL East aside, there's some really good races in every other division. Starting in the AL, Boston's only got a .5 game lead over the Yankees in the East. In the Central, the White Sox and Indians are both within 4 games of first place Detroit (it feels weird typing "first place Detroit" when not talking hockey). In the West, it's a close two-horse race as the Angels are just 4 back of the Rangers.

In the NL Central, Chizzy's Cards are trying to close a 5 game gap between them and first place Milwaukee and out West the surprise Diamondbacks hold a 2 game lead over defending Champs San Francisco.

I'll be the first to admit that I typically lose a lot of interest in baseball around this time of year, especially since the Reds aren't in contention this year (back to normal for Cincinnati) and I turn into a football junkie yet again, so apologies in advance if our baseball coverage is a little lax.

Other Sports News
Due to inclement weather, NASCAR had a road course race this morning at Watkins Glen in New York. Can you say ratings boom?!?

Terrelle Pryor is supposedly meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tonight or tomorrow to see if he can become elgible for this Wednesday's Suppelemental Draft. Both Miami and Oakland have shown interest, but his eligibility remains a question mark. Former Georgia RB Caleb Kings is the only other noteworthy name up for grabs.

Mark Sanchez admits he wanted to fight Rex Ryan after Ryan considered benching him during the 3rd quarter of the Jets 10-6 loss to Miami last November. Sanchez put together back-to-back stinkers in a loss to the Patriots the week before the Dolphins game. All things considered, give me Rex Ryan, and his new tattoo, in the battle of "The Weight-Watcher vs. The Cradle-Robber". It might as well be the undercard of the proposed Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight next spring.

Speaking of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao - that really needs to happen, and soon. I've given up on watching any UFC event, unless Anderson Silva is involved, but I've been a boxing fan since I watched Tyson bite off Holyfield's ear. Gone are the glory days of the world's once most followed sport.

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