Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why Dak Prescott is the NFL’s MVP

ESPN¡¯s MVP Poll debuted Wednesday, with Derek Carr holding the top spot, followed closely by Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott.

Coming in at No. 5 without a first-place vote is the quarterback of the NFL¡¯s best team, Dak Prescott. Yes, Prescott benefits from Elliott and Dallas¡¯ offensive line, but the case can be made that no player has added more total value this season than the Dallas Cowboys¡¯ signal-caller.
Limited Mens Peyton Manning Jersey
Let¡¯s begin with the obvious. After Tony Romo went down in the preseason, it looked like another lost season for the Cowboys. As a fourth-round pick, rookie Prescott stepped in seamlessly and has led the Cowboys to an NFL-best 10-1 record, including a single-season franchise-record 10 straight wins heading into Thursday¡¯s matchup with Minnesota.

Although Prescott¡¯s teammates deserve credit for Dallas¡¯ turnaround (more on that later), few quarterbacks have been as efficient and productive as Prescott this season. He leads the NFL in Total QBR, which is now adjusted for opponents faced, and has gained positive expected points added on the second-highest percentage of his plays among NFL QBs.

That’s the thing about this game: Every unsavory aspect of Incognito’s past — from being suspended at Nebraska for his inability to control his temper, to being cut after head-butting two opponents in the first half of a game against the Rams in 2009, to nearly ending his career after the bullying scandal involving Jonathan Martin in Miami — has been weighed against his ability to bring a flinty edge to a huddle. In the NFL, there’s plenty of dirty work to be done, and Incognito has always been an enthusiastic and proficient worker.

Duane Brown Elite Jersey “If he was on the other side, I’d hate him,” Powell says. “But I’d love him at the same time. He’s the type of dude who has a tough-guy side that you need in a locker room.”

It is one of the most uncomfortable truths in a sport that has many: Incognito’s personality, and how it fits into the small-group dynamic of an NFL locker room, is prized because of its rough edges, not in spite of them. The culture creates it, fosters it, rewards and then discards it, never particularly interested in whether it can exist in a world that doesn’t subscribe to the same rules.

Gary Kubiak is ‘hopeful’ Peyton Manning will return for 2015

The Denver Broncos are set to have a busy offseason with several key players on the verge of entering free agency, but perhaps no decision is bigger than the future football plans of quarterback Peyton Manning. Officially, Manning is weighing the decision whether or not play in 2015. Unofficially, at least if you listen to head coach Gary Kubiak tell it, it Cassius Marsh Authentic Womens Jersey sounds likely that the future Hall of Famer will return.

“I feel good about where we are right now,” Kubiak said about the team’s prospects of having Manning back for the coming season.

Marshawn Lynch could receive a new deal as well, which would further complicate matters when it comes to Wilson. It’s no secret that he’ll be expensive, but both sides are in a holding pattern while the running back decides his future.

Ryan Clark announces retirement after 13 NFL seasons

Washington safety Ryan Clark officially announced his retirement on Thursday, according to the team’s official website. He played for the New York Giants, Washington and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not feeling nostalgic about it all yet, however, saying that the emotions will come later in the summer.

Via Washington’s blog:

“I would have to think that those emotions come more in late July, early August, when you got Christine Michael Authentic Womens Jersey a ton friends who are getting ready to go play football and you’re not suiting up. I think that’ll be the time that it really hits you that you’re not doing it anymore.”

Though his career will end in Washington, Clark had his most productive years with the Steelers, where he made six playoff appearances and won a Super Bowl in 2009. During that stint in Pittsburgh, he started 109 regular season games.

He averaged just 257 passing yards and threw four touchdowns with four interceptions over his final four games, including a disappointing loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional round of the playoffs. In his first 13 games, Manning threw for 3,910 yards with 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Fantasy basketball forecaster for week of Nov. 28-Dec. 4

Scouting reports via ESPN Insider this past summer profiled Kentucky’s Jamal Murray as an immensely skilled combo guard best with the ball in his hands. The downside stemmed from a possible lack of elite quickness or explosion and his potential to become a tweener stuck between backcourt positions.

Murray — who was seventh in usage rate, second in minutes and offensive win shares, third in scoring and first in both field goal and 3-point attempts in the SEC as a freshman — struggled to find steady exposure in the first seven games of his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets. Over this stretch, Murray averaged just 17.8 minutes and shot 27.5 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from beyond the arc, this after ranking seventh in the SEC last season with a true shooting rate of 59 percent thanks to hitting a stellar 40.8 percent of Dion Sims Authentic Womens Jersey his 3-point attempts.

A Warriors error was the Lakers’ only true highlight. In the third, Curry stole the ball from Jose Calderon and again had a wide-open transition opportunity. But this time he went with the layup.

“I smacked the glass as hard as I could the second time just to prove a point,” he said laughing.

Both players stayed on the floor in pain for several minutes. The arena was quiet. Green was holding his ankle and Clark clutching his throat, while teammates gathered around in support.

Green was the first to get up, and he limped on his own power to the bench before heading to the locker room for good. Soon after, Clark was able to rise to his feet and followed Green to the locker and would not return. Green played 26 minutes and provided 12 Earl Mitchell Authentic Womens Jersey points, eight rebounds and four assists. He did not finish the last game against the Lakers on Wednesday after sustaining a left corneal abrasion.

“You have to be hitting on all cylinders. That’s from every guy who steps on the court, all playcalls, the whole scouting report — everything has to be crisp, because those guys make you pay,” Crowder said of the Spurs. “And when you have one lapse and one slipup like we did late in the game, they make you pay. So they teach us to be just more sound on both ends of the court and to take it all in.”

Longoria is the one guy who wants to play here

Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

Contract: $8.875 million (2017), $11M (2018), $14.5M (2019 team option)

Why they should trade him: They went 69-93 in 2016 as the pitching collapsed. The farm system doesn’t have any obvious contributors ready for 2017, so competing with the Dodgers and Giants the next couple of seasons appears unlikely. Goldschmidt’s team-friendly contract is a bargain for a player of his caliber, making him affordable to big-market and small-market teams. His OPS dropped 106 points in 2016, so what if he’s starting to decline?

Why they shouldn’t trade him: Sure, they Michael Oher Authentic Jersey had a bad 2016, but they might be closer than people think. If A.J. Pollock returns from his injury and Zack Greinke pitches better, you’re adding two star players. Robbie Ray had a lousy ERA but an incredible strikeout rate, and he’s a breakout sleeper for 2017. A relatively inexpensive star such as Goldschmidt is exactly the kind of player the D-backs need to build around. The one thing available in free agency this offseason is a first-base type such as Edwin Encarnacion, Mike Napoli, Mitch Moreland and others, so teams might find easier to just sign a free agent.

Possible trade partners: Rangers, Astros, Nationals, Red Sox, Yankees, Rockies, Indians, Mariners.

The Mavs sold Jordan on being the face of the franchise, which is what he said he wanted, right up until the moment he stopped returning their text messages and phone calls. Perhaps the pressure got to him after Cuban publicly declared that Jordan could be a 20-20 man and MVP candidate. Or maybe Jordan realized how good he had it in L.A. during the impromptu team meeting at his Houston home, which ended with him signing the contract that sealed his return to the Clippers.

“When you come together as adults outside of basketball and try to figure stuff out, things work out,” Jordan said. “I feel like that’s what we did a year and a half ago. It all worked out for the best. I’m happy I’m Mike Remmers Authentic Jersey here. I’m pretty sure that the team’s happy I’m here. That’s in the past. We’re looking forward now.”

As Clippers coach/president of basketball operations Doc Rivers said, “It probably woke everybody up. Those are guys you’ve got to try to keep. You’ve got to keep him, and we did.”

Life in L.A. is awfully good for Jordan and the Clippers these days. Jordan might never be the man with the Clippers, but he’s a huge part of their success.

“He’s the world,” Rivers said when asked what the big man means to the team, referring to Jordan’s dominant defensive presence, infectious energy and impact on the offensive end as one of the NBA’s most feared finishers.

Washington won the NFC East with a 9-7 record last year

The offense, with Cousins and an array of weapons that includes lethal tight end Jordan Reed, deep threat receiver DeSean Jackson a sensational, out-of-nowhere rookie running back, Rob Kelley, is as balanced and potent as any. Washington, ranked second in the NFL for yards, is capable of shredding an overachieving Dallas defense and holding its own in anybody’s shootout.

You want Dallas? Rivalry games are also perfect Lamar Miller Authentic Womens Jersey for a gut check. Washington won the NFC East with a 9-7 record last year, when the division was derisively referred to as the NFC Least. Now Dallas is the talk of the NFL in rising from worst (4-12) to first, with every team in the division improved.

Cutler has played in just five games this season after missing the same number of contests with a thumb injury in the early portion of the year. He has completed just 59.1% of his passes with four touchdowns and five interceptions.

But the situation presents an opportunity to review the safeguards in place to ensure players don’t play after suffering concussions and, perhaps, provide an example of how those protections are imperfect.

Since 2013, the NFL has employed a system that includes the use of independent neurologists Max Bullough Authentic Womens Jersey at all games. There is a neurological expert on the sideline of every game in addition to a pair of trained concussion “spotters” in the press box looking for possible instances in which a player could have suffered a potential head injury.

The NFL and Pagano confirmed Tuesday that the spotters took no action when Luck was driven into the turf in the fourth quarter on a hit by nose tackle Austin Johnson, a play that ended with Luck clearly hitting his head when knocked to the ground. Spotters, according to the NFL, have access to the television broadcast of the game and the assistance of a video technician to help tag and label possible incidents on tape so they can be referenced later, if necessary.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck suffered a concussion at some point in the team’s win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, a fact that raises an obvious question: How, then, did Luck finish the game without being assessed or pulled out by medical personnel.

NBA Reality Index: Yup, the Clippers are legit

The Clippers became the first team to 10 wins this week, getting there in 11 tries on the back of a seven-game winning streak. This is unfamiliar territory for the Clips. Their best start in the Chris Paul era was 8-3 back in 2012-13. L.A. has been very good for five years, but that hasn’t usually translated in the Clippers storming the gates. They usually Dante Exum Authentic Womens Jersey make up ground on the back end of the season.

“It had to hurt when they lost LeBron. That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night. They don’t do overnights. Teams just don’t. So now (coach Erik) Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, ‘What do I do in this situation?’ And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, ‘You are on the plane, you are with this team.’ You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.”

“I always thought Pat had this really nice vibe with his guys. But something happened there where it broke down. I do know LeBron likes special treatment. He needs things his way.”
LeBron’s business manager, Maverick Carter, was the first to take exception to Jackson’s loose usage of the word “posse.”

“To use that label, and if you go and read the definition of what the word ‘posse’ is, it’s not what I’ve built over my career,” he said, via Sporting News’ Jordan Heck. “It’s not what I stand for. It’s not what my family stands for. And I believe the only reason he used that word is because it’s young African-Americans trying to make a difference.”

Jackson’s franchise player and James’ close friend Carmelo Anthony also agreed the Derrick Favors Authentic Womens Jersey word “posse” has a negative connotation to it, saying he’d “never want to hear that word about” him and his family.

This isn’t a fluke. L.A. was No. 6 and No. 5 in those categories respectively last season despite Griffin’s long injury absence. The Clippers are a proven commodity and they are performing better than ever.

Steve Tasker sat an empty table in the middle of the NFL media room at One Bills Drive

Steve Tasker sat an empty table in the middle of the NFL media room at One Bills Drive. The lights were dim. The room was quiet. For a moment, he glanced up at the podium where Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan would be making his weekly appearance in front of a crowd of reporters less than an hour later.

“I don’t deserve to be in the Hall of Michael Burton Authentic Womens Jersey Fame,” he said, shifting in his chair. “That’s for other guys, not me. I mean, I appreciate the conversation. But I’m uncomfortable talking about it.”

For Tasker, 54, making it to the NFL Hall of Fame is as farfetched an idea as making it on to a NFL roster had been decades ago, when he was playing football and running track at Leoti High School in Kansas. At five-foot-nine and 180 pounds, Tasker was a small fry by football standards. But he was smart and he was fast. He figured a couple of years at Dodge City Community College might help him catch the eye of a Division I program. He was right. Northwestern University scooped him up as a wide receiver and kick returner. By his senior year, Tasker was not only stronger, he had grown even quicker, and NFL teams took notice.

Tasker, Darryl Talley, and Andre Reed during halftime of a Bills game this season.

Reed, who experienced his own Hall of Fame limbo before being elected in 2014, knows firsthand how emotional and frustrating the process can be and has tried to pass on some of that knowledge to Tasker.

“I talk about it with him sometimes,” he said. “And he’s like, Forget about it. You know, he doesn’t think about it. It’s really up to the writers and the committee. But everybody knows the kind of player he was, and deep down inside he knows what kind of player he was.”

“It’s hard to get in the Hall of Fame and it should be hard,” Gaughan said. “But we may never see someone like Tasker again. There is less opportunity to be as dominant as he was in both punt and kickoff coverage, with the way the NFL is changing. Even since he’s retired, there hasn’t been a special teams player of his caliber or that has had a career in special teams like his. That could help him down the road as a senior candidate.”

There are currently 94 Modern Era candidates for the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Mikel Leshoure Authentic Womens Jersey class. Yet again, Tasker is one of them. And he’s OK with that. In the end, it doesn’t matter. To Tasker, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It won’t define his career. Sitting in that empty media room, where the lights and cameras had once been focused on him, Tasker can only look back at his NFL career and smile.

“I’m grateful to the game for what it gave me,” he said. “When the Bills picked me up, it was like striking it rich. I won the lottery. And I’m still cashing in on it.”

Rockets miss open shots and let one slip away in OKC

The perspective from the Houston Rockets’ locker room Wednesday night was that they let a game slip away. Maybe even lost a game that might haunt them later in the season.

The reality is that the Rockets have no one to blame but themselves after their 105-103 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Houston rallied from a 13-point, first-half Authentic Khiry Robinson Jersey deficit and led by as many as seven early in the fourth quarter, but a lack of ball movement and 28 missed open shots led to their demise.

“We were too slow offensively; our pace wasn’t good at all,” James Harden said. “We got as many good shots as we wanted to, we got a couple of good looks and we didn’t make them. Our pace wasn’t normal; that was the cause of that.”

The Thunder slowed the offensive juggernaut that is Harden with constant double-teams when the Rockets tried pick-and-roll plays. Instead of going with the player who rolls, the Thunder kept two players on Harden, slowing Houston’s offense. Andre Roberson, who made two baskets the entire night, harassed Harden quickly in the backcourt, forcing Harden to find his teammates … who failed to deliver.

“I think it will still be an adjustment when Authentic Lac Edwards Jersey we do [have everyone] just because those guys haven’t played in a while,” Stevens said. “And knock on wood, we are together at some point, right? But we’ll see. Until then, we’ve got to still focus on playing well.”

Stevens said he’ll continue to plan as if Boston won’t have its injured players and will happily audible if it does.

“I just kind of go through it with [the idea that] if they’re available, I’ll figure it out when the time comes,” Stevens said. “But until then, I’m going unavailable in my own mind. I think that that’s the best way to do it. That’s the best way to organize your thoughts.

“If Al is able to play down the road later in the week, we’ll throw Al right in there, and I’ll adjust quickly.”

Both the 30-year-old Horford and coach Brad Stevens have been a bit cagey in discussing his injury, which can be expected to some degree because it’s a head injury. That said, it has led to a lot of speculation about why Horford hasn’t resumed game activity.

The Cowboys expected Dak Prescott to be the third-string quarterback this season

“It’s fun to go to meetings,” Bryant said. “Think about that. Meetings are never fun. They’re not supposed to be fun. But with this group we have here, it’s all fun. The feeling in here right now, I can’t describe it. It’s like nothing we’ve ever had here.”

What’s clear is that this is not a Jalen Collins Authentic Womens Jersey locker room divided. Romo is still present. He’s a helper for Prescott and is still maintaining the same relationships in the room and in the front office that he has had for years. The strong belief is that, if something happened to force Romo back into action, he would play well behind this monster offensive line, and the team chemistry would be unaffected as long as losing didn’t set in.

In the halls of the Cowboys’ gleaming new training facility in Frisco, Texas, no one will talk about the quarterback. They’re under orders. The best you can do is off-the-record, walkaway stuff from people who are afraid to be seen talking to you. Even those are on-message.

“What good does it do us to talk about this right now?” one decision-maker asked. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. This is the NFL. [Prescott] could have an injury and then Mark Sanchez is playing in the second half Sunday. We’re just going to keep it even and see where it goes.”
And later: “Boy, I don’t even want to go there, really, because it’s a great place to be, to have someone of Tony Romo’s stature that could be playing for several years, and then have Dak Prescott as well for the future. It just feels good.”

He is nonplussed. Asked by a gaggle Jonathan Babineaux Authentic Womens Jersey of reporters what it feels like, Prescott says, “It’s always exciting,” and points out that he has been on the cover before.

That’s when you realize none of this is too big for him. Prescott played high-level college football, has done more than his fair share of interviews and is well versed in football narrative. He’s aware, at this point, that the talk outside the building is about a looming quarterback controversy between him and Romo, who is inching closer to a return. Prescott doesn’t care.

“My job is to win, so I’m going to continue to try and do that,” he says. “If you guys want to make it bigger than that, go ahead.”

At this time, the Cowboys’ locker room is a fun place. Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez takes his turn playing “laundry basketball” with teammates, competing to shoot balls into laundry hampers a few yards away from each other in the part of the locker room where Prescott and Elliott are fielding questions. Elliott talks of what it’s like to room with Prescott on the road. Prescott brags about a collection of peacock bow ties.

In a far corner, star receiver Dez Bryant, still working his way back from an injury that has cost the team nothing in the standings, is smiling and talking about team chemistry.

Here’s why Richard Sherman wasn’t flagged for leveling a Bills WR on the final play

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is one of the smartest players on the field at just about any given moment. He’s fully aware of the NFL rulebook at all times and understands the line between defensive holding, illegal contact and just downright great coverage (usually).

Had Carpenter not been forced to come out of the game for a play, which later resulted in a delay of game, the Bills likely would have made Mike Schmidt Youth Jersey the field goal and saved themselves three points, possibly allowing them to kick a game-tying field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

It will be how the Americans perform on the field against the region’s most dangerous squad in the opening match of the final Hexagonal round.

It was the first of many jokes the exiting president cracked in what was his eighth and final ceremony with the reigning NBA champion, becoming the first commander-in-chief to do so in every year of his presidency since Ronald Reagan.

The levity was welcome for a Cavs group reeling as the election unfolded earlier in the week, namely LeBron James, who was one of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s most vocal supporters.

“That’s right, I said ‘world champion’ and ‘Cleveland’ in the same sentence. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about hope and change.”

Before marveling at James’ skills, Obama roasted the four-time MVP for his cryptic tweets during the 2015-16 season that set off a firestorm of speculation in the media. Obama also playfully jabbed at Richard Jefferson and Dahntay Jones for their old age, Iman Shumpert for his old flat-top hairdo, Kevin Love for his surprising defense on Warriors star Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the Finals, and, of course, Obama said he “want[ed] to give a special thanks to J.R. Smith’s shirt for showing up.”

Love presented the president with a black-sleeved alternative Cavs jersey with “Obama” and the No. 16 stitched on its back. Obama had a quip ready yet again, alluding Mitch Williams Youth Jersey to how James ripped the sleeves open on his black jersey the first time Cleveland wore those uniforms.