High impact NFL rookies of 2012

At the NFL’s midway point, there have been many surprises (both good and bad) in both conferences, none more so than the better-than-expected performances of the league’s 2012 rookie crop, especially at QB. A record five first-year signal callers were under center for Opening Day, an almost unheard-of number in this era of “polished” field generals.

The No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Luck with the Colts, hasn’t disappointed. As the Colts surround him with more and more weapons, there’s no reason to believe Indianapolis won’t be back in the mix for AFC elite status sooner, rather than later. In D.C., Robert Griffin III is the talk of the town, even in an election year. The mercurial Heisman Trophy winner has displayed unusual poise far sooner than anyone expected. As in Luck’s case, the ‘Skins need to stockpile as many talented skill players around him as possible.

Miami’s Ryan Tannehill has probably been the biggest surprise of the QB crop, reviving a stagnant offense that hasn’t shown this much consistency since Chad Pennington was under center. Seattle’s Russell Wilson is another QB to keep an eye on. The undersized Wisconsin via N.C. State product has had his issues with tall pass rushers, but his elusiveness and coolness under pressure have Seahawk fans giddy. The remaining rookie QB starter, Brandon Weeden in Cleveland, is surrounded by far less talent than his colleagues, but he’s steadily improving.

The 2012 RB group wasn’t highly-touted, but some pleasant surprises have emerged nonetheless. Cleveland’s Trent Richardson got off to a slow start due to a knee injury, but has quickly demonstrated why scouts were so high on him coming out of Alabama. Tampa’s Doug Martin’s versatility and energy has pushed former starter LaGarrette Blount to the bench, and he should become a star very soon. The biggest surprise at RB, by far, is Alfred Morris of the Redskins. The sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic has already racked up three 100+ yard games and is second behind fellow rookie Doug Martin (794 yards) with 793 yards.

Rookie WRs in 2012 include Kendall Wright of the Titans (RGIII’s favorite receiver at Baylor), who has latched onto 42 passes and 3 TDs. Andrew Luck has wasted little time in targeting his college teammate TE Coby Fleener, with the former Stanford batterymates combining for 21 receptions. With little else in the way of deep threats, Brandon Weeden has gone to Josh Gordon (another Baylor product) in Cleveland, and the 21-year old Gordon has been the best downfield rookie with 4 TDs and increased attention from opposing safeties.

Matt Kalil, the first O-Lineman selected, hasn’t disappointed in Minnesota. Whether it’s pass protection or blocking for Adrian Peterson, Kalil already appears to be cut from the same cloth as other legendary Viking linemen such as Ron Yary and Steve Hutchinson. The only other OT drafted in Round 1, Riley Reiff of Iowa, has already become a leader on Detroit’s frequently maligned (and aging) O-Line. As the Lions develop a running game, Reiff will become even more of a factor. Read more…

The perils of wagering with a small-time bookie

I read online that some lucky guy just hit a 23-team parlay and turned his $100 wager into 25 grand.  Must be nice.

I’ve got a few buddies that are just as hot lately when it comes to wagering.  One friend has reached near unprecedented swami status by winning our local bar pick ‘em pool (40+ participants) two out of the last three weeks.  Another friend had the stones to bet $800 on a three-teamer that hit this past weekend.

It is this final wager that I’d like to talk about.

My friend, let’s call him Skittles, likes to place a healthy wager on football every so often.  He’s got the bankroll to do so.  He’s not the most knowledgeable sports fan in the world but by no means is he a dummy.  As you can see by the parlay he just hit, he obviously knows what he’s doing.

But this was his first wager placed with a new, small-time bookie, meaning a) he didn’t make as much as he could have and b) he’s having a hard time getting paid.

First of all, for you beginners out there, let’s discuss what a parlay is.  A parlay is where you take two, or three, or four or however many games you feel like betting on and string them together into one single bet.  By doing so, you dramatically increase your payout but you must also hit every single one of those wagers, otherwise you lose your money.  For example, let’s say you bet the Giants, Jets, Dolphins and Patriots all to cover their respective point spreads.  If only three of those four teams cover, you lose your wager.  They all must hit.

The standard payouts for parlays are such.  Two-teamers pay 2.6 to 1.  Three-teamers pay 6 to 1.  Four-teamers pay 10 to 1.   Anything more than that and you’re really spreading yourself thin, although on the occasional trip to Vegas, it’s always fun to drop a few bucks on a monster parlay or round-robin, just to see what happens because when they hit, they hit big.

Let’s get back to Skittles.  His first mistake was misunderstanding the comeback on his wager, thinking he was going to get paid out more than he did.  When placing a wager, whether it’s at a sportsbook, card table or wherever, it’s always important to know what you’re risking as well as your potential reward.  Parlays are a smart way to wager, primarily because you’re not paying the juice on a single bet but it’s crucial to know what to expect back if your bet hits.  Skittles’ bookie only paid five-to-one on that three-team parlay, essentially shorting him the $800 he would have won had he placed that bet through a more legitimate source. Read more…

Has LeBron James won your respect?

LeBron James

LeBron James has an impressive resume nine years into a career that was destined for greatness. He finally won that championship that eluded him once in Cleveland and once in his first season in Miami. When your uniform is 23 and you are nicknamed “The King” or “King James” you expect nothing less. For a moment take a look at the list of his accomplishments.

Going into year 10 of his career, you would think hands down, that Lebron would be considered the best player of his time and would have everyone’s undying respect. Still it is hard to get people to like Lebron like they like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or Shaq. The big is why? Has LeBron earned your respect? If so why? If not, why not? If you feel he has earned your respect is it because he finally won a championship? If not, is it because it was the way in which he left the Cleveland Cavaliers? Was it the ill advised “Decision” that was televised that turned you off?

How would you define greatness?

Read more…

Knicks continue their winning ways in record fashion

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This game was a lot of fun, unless you are a Sixers fan of course. It had a little bit of everything. You got some Sheed, some good JR and some hilarious Nick Young being an idiot. Overall it was another blowout win for the Knickerbockers, their third in as many games this season. Melo Tony led the team in scoring with an efficient 21 points on 7/16 shooting. Earl Smith had another strong game with 17 points on 7/15 shooting and almost got in a fight. Sheed entered the game in the third quarter and proceeded to drain a buzzer beating three to end the quarter. This game was loads of fun and the Knicks are 3-0 for the first time since 1875.

Here are my notes from the game: New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers

  • Lets start with Sheed. Despite looking like a homeless man, Mr. Rasheed Abdul Wallace was actually productive in his 14 minutes played tonight. He did a little bit of everything. Wallace hit a couple threes, blocked a couple shots and grabbed some rebounds. He also inexplicably threw a full court inbounds pass to Steve Novak with 11 seconds left in the game that caused me to fall out of my chair laughing. In all seriousness though, he actually looked like he could contribute down the line a little bit. I thought Kurt Thomas looked pretty bad tonight in his 6 minutes played, so potentially Sheed may take some of his minutes moving forward. It’ll definitely be something to keep an eye on. However, there is no doubt that the bench combo of Thomas and Wallace is easily the funniest in the league. Between Thomas punching dudes in the nuts, slapping guys in the face and consistently getting away with shoving people under the basket and Rasheed doing Rasheed things and looking like a displaced hobo, they’re great theater. I’m loving having them on the squad. Read more…

Shahid Khan calls Jaguars embarrassing

Shahid-KhanIn his first season as the owner of the Jaguars, Shahid Khan is embarrassed by what he has seen on the field.

That’s the word Khan used on Jaguars All Access on Action News 47, in an appearance in which he made clear that he knows the 1-7 team has to get a lot better.

“It’s embarrassing but there are better days ahead,” Khan said, via the Florida Times-Union. “I’m deeply grateful to the fans for supporting us. They’ve done their part. Now we have to do our part.”

Khan indicated that he’ll run this business the same way he ran the auto parts company that made him a billionaire.

“Whether it’s a football team or an auto parts company, you need three things: Right people in the right spots, processing and decision making that’s right and you need support from fans, sponsors or owners,” Khan said. “We have to finish the season. You can’t be rushing to judgment. I wish life was that simple, that you could hire and fire people and things would change. I am committed to building a sustainable, winning organization.”

Khan says he will not meddle in the football decisions and will not decide who the Jaguars sign in free agency or draft in April, but he will make some hard decisions about who the Jaguars need in place to make those decisions. Read more…

Fantasy Sports: Strategy versus Luck

Doug MartinDoug Martin… (Silence and crickets.) Well that’s pretty much all I can say on this Tuesday after a monumental fantasy performance. Every daily fantasy player (and season long player) wishes they had Doug Martin on their fantasy team.  Dougy Fresh had a whopping 51 fantasy points, this rivals my Michael Vick performance of 57 a couple years back. The daily fantasy dream is to get a guy that produces numbers like Martin every week. I did have a similar performance with my pick of James Harden, during a NBA match up last week. It is like Christmas morning every time I wake up to a high scoring performance. It is great when they happen, but searching these high scorers out can be the downfall of the daily fantasy player’s bankroll.

I am a big proponent of consistency. I like to take the guys that I am sure will score every week. Sometimes this is my downfall, because I never take risk. Sometime this is my path to success because everyone else has take guys that are a “shot in the dark.” Ultimately it boils down to scoring and in all leagues you want 20+ point guys for football and 30+ point guys for basketball. If you can’t consistently score these amounts then you are destined for a losing effort.

I had an extremely successful college football week, due to the consistency method and the fact that Tyler Bray had what seemed like a million yards passing. In the daily fantasy game it is the guys that manage their bankroll and play consistent choices that profit in the long run. Will there ever be professional daily fantasy players? Who knows, but what I do know is that the way to make money is to be consistent and apply the 30% bankroll method every night. Read more…

Doug Martin, the Muscle Hamster?

Doug MartinBuccaneers running back Doug Martin is having a great rookie season. Now he wishes he could get a great nickname.

Instead, Martin is saddled with “Muscle Hamster,” the ridiculous nickname that some of his offensive linemen at Boise State gave him. Martin said on NFL AM that the nickname was given to him affectionately by teammates who were impressed by how much he could lift, considering his small stature. But he said he wishes they had come up with something better.

“It has to be the worst nickname ever,” Martin said. “I can’t shake it. It started in college, started back in Boise, with our linemen. I have a lot of bigger friends, and they’d call me the Muscle Hamster because of how much I could lift in the weight room.”

The 5-foot-9, 215-pound Martin bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times at this year’s Scouting Combine, tied for the best mark among all the running backs. So Muscle Hamster may be fitting. Read more…

Jimmy Johnson can’t eat fried chicken, why do we care?

Terry Bradshaw

Terry BradshawWhile describing the ankle-breaking touchdown run by Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (which prompted us to point out on Twitter that even Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie lunged at air when Reggie cut left to right), Bradshaw said, “Look at this Jimmy, it was like you was chasing that bucket of chicken that the wind was blowing the other day.”  (Apparently, there’s a question as to whether Bradshaw said “you was chasing” or “he was chasing.”  My first thought was that Bradshaw said “you,” to Johnson.)

Appearing on Tuesday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show, FOX’s Howie Long explained that it was an inside jab by Bradshaw at Jimmy Johnson.

“I was shocked that it was even an issue,” Long said, explaining that Johnson’s wife, Rhonda, doesn’t let Jimmy eat fried chicken at home.

“It wasn’t even poorly phrased,” Long added.  “It was specifically directed at Jimmy Johnson.  It could have been any player running the football or whatever on that particular play.”

Though Long dubbed the controversy “ridiculous,” Bradshaw has apologized for the remark.  And by apologizing almost as clumsily as he does the highlights on FOX, Bradshaw made the controversy necessarily something other than ridiculous.  Indeed, the apology gave credence to the belief that there was a possible racial component to the remark.

If not, why apologize? Read more…

Jerry Jones will not relinquish G.M. duties

Jerry JonesCowboys owner Jerry Jones wants to make this absolutely clear: He will remain the team’s general manager. Period.

After Jones told NBC’s Bob Costas that he would have fired a general manager who had his own record as general manager, some people thought Jones was acknowledging that perhaps he should step back and give up the G.M. authority. But Jones said on 105.3 The Fan today that the Cowboys are his team, and that means he’s picking the players.

“We are not structured that way,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “We didn’t structure it that way with my ownership. There’s no way that I would be involved here and not be the final decision-maker on something as important as players, and that is a key area. That’s never been anybody’s misunderstanding. It’s been a debated thing, but it’s just not going to happen. We’ve had success doing it this way and we’re going to have success in the future doing it this way. It eliminates some very serious issues when you look around the league, as to creating an additional layer that you’re continually having decisions, making changes, doing those kinds of things.”

Jones said that when Costas asked him if Jones the owner would have fired Jones the general manager, Jones was just answering a hypothetical. He was not in any way indicating that he’s considering giving up the general manager authority. Because he isn’t.

“It’s real clear. I was asked the question, ‘If you were an owner and you had a general manager, would you make a change?’ Under those circumstances I speculated that I would probably have made a change, but that’s not our situation,” Jones said. “To change, I’d have to change myself. People don’t do that. If you’ve got the commitment and you have the investment, and I’m talking about in time, effort, all of those kind of things, you change yourself. You don’t change out and have someone else go in there and do it. And that would be misleading to begin with because no one would believe you if you hired somebody at that spot and really believe that he’s not sitting there and ultimately at what I want to do. Somebody would say, ‘Why don’t you just mentally let them go do it.’ I’m not built that way.” Read more…

Jerry Jones locked out of locker room after Cowboys loss

Jerry Jones told Bob Costas over the weekend that Jones the owner would have fired Jones the G.M. by now.  After Sunday night’s loss to the Falcons, the Cowboys may have tried to fire both guys.

According to Matt Barrie of NBC 5 in Dallas, “Jerry Jones just pounded [the] locker room door because no one would let him in.  It’s the angriest I’ve seen him all year.”

Like him or not, the guy owns the team.  He has every right to be in the locker room after the game.  So we can understand why he’s mad.

Jones should be more upset about the team’s performance.  Since looking like a Super Bowl contender on the first night of the season, the Cowboys have won two and lost five. Read more…

Notre Dame, luck of the Irish?

Manti Te'o

Manti Te'oBrian Kelly insists his Notre Dame team isn’t undefeated because it’s lucky, but being lucky certainly hasn’t hurt the Irish.

An uncalled penalty against the Irish during a potential game-winning Pittsburgh field goal is luck, no matter what Kelly states.

Notre Dame had two players on the field with the same number at the same time.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Both Bennett Jackson and Chris Brown were on the unit attempting to block Kevin Harper’s 33-yard field goal in the second overtime, and both wear jersey No. 2. Rules allow for duplicate numbers on a roster, so long as those players do not appear on the field together.

“No exception to it, it was a coaching mistake,” Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. “We had out our ‘Desperado’ team out there, and Chris Brown was part of ‘Desperado.’ We have to do a better job. An oversight that can’t happen.”

The Irish weren’t good against Pittsburgh, they were lucky. Lucky to still be in the position they are in.

The Irish have played five games at home and won all five by only a combined 23 points. The historic South Bend that leaves such a daunting task ahead of the opposition has been pushed aside.

Notre Dame hasn’t reached 9-0 without a little bit of luck and as the potential game-winning kick sailed just outside that pole it was all the luck the Irish needed, for now.

Oregon, Barner sticks it to USC

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Kenjon+Barner+OregonHeisman trophy candidate Kenjon Barner knew it was his last time to play back in his hometown in front of dozens of friends and family members. He made sure he left them with a special performance to remember. Barner ran for a school-record 321 yards and five touchdowns as Oregon beat No. 18 Southern California 62-51.

It was just another example of the most potent offense in College Football showing their dominance.

Moving to (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12), the 730 yards and 62 points were the most allowed by USC, which began playing football in 1888.

Per Sports Illustrated, “Well, I’m from L.A., so it means a lot,” Barner said with a shrug. “We know we have an exceptional offense, but this was a great test for us to have to play four quarters and fight to the end. We’re going to benefit from this in the long run. As a competitor, you want to be in a great game if you can.”

Barner celebrated every touchdown with vigor, although the Riverside, Calif., native playfully refused to talk about what he might have shouted to the Trojans’ dismayed fans.

Barner, a product of Riverside, Calif., set a rushing record for a USC opponent by the third quarter, topping Curtis Enis’ 241 yards for Penn State in 1996, and smashed LaMichael James’ Oregon record shortly afterward.

He didn’t get his usual late-game break, either: With Matt Barkley and his receivers shredding Oregon’s defense, the Ducks’ offense stood up to its first late-game pressure of the season.

“We’re built for that, though,” said Mariota, who went 20 of 23 for 304 yards without an interception. “We go through a lot of conditioning, and we’re always ready to play four quarters. This was a good test for us.”

Oregon has won every game this season by at least 17 points. Most games have been over by halftime.

VIDEO: A RB throws a jump pass to a WR for a TD?

Strange as that might seem it took place today in Cincinnati during the start of the 2nd quarter in their game against Syracuse. The Bearcats, on a 4th down and two on Syracuse’s 37-yard-line, decided to pull off the trickiest trick play we’ve ever seen. The quarterback handed off to the running back who could barely see over the line of scrimmage. So he decides to make a “jump pass” to his wide receiver who went into the endzone untouched, giving Cincinnati the lead at 13-10. I hope the Jets OC  Tony Sparano watches this and opts to implement it using the tallest RB on the team who, incidentally, does have some experience throwing the ball!

See the video here…

Knicks continue momentum, beat Sixers

Oh how sweet it is. The new look New York Knicks kept the momentum from Friday’s win going this afternoon as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 104-84 at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony was absolutely fantastic on both ends of the court, scoring 27 points on 18 shots and making countless great plays on defense. The offense was efficient once again, shooting 50.6% for the game. JR Smith chipped in with a cool 20 points on 8/15 shooting. Defensively, the Knicks were great as has become the norm with this team. Sixers not named Jrue Holiday shot just 37.7% for the game and the Knicks forced more turnovers then they committed. Up 13 in the final minutes, Mike Woodson put in the Knicks human victory cigar. Rasheed Wallace came in, grabbed some rebounds, dished an assist and made a shot. All around, it was a great afternoon for the Knickerbockers.

Here are my notes from the game:

  • I could not be more impressed with Mike Woodson in these first two games. I, like many, had numerous concerns about Woodson’s offense coming into the year. From what we had previously seen in his stint as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Woodson’s offense was one that was based heavily on isolation sets. Given that Carmelo Anthony is his featured offense in New York, I feared that he would run that same offense here. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Through these first two games, the Knicks offense has looked nothing like the Woodson offenses of old from Atlanta. We’ve seen Anthony as the featured player, as he should be, but not how we would think. Anthony has not been used in isolation as much as we thought. Woodson has done a good job of designing the offense to get Anthony touches in positions where he can succeed. We’ve seen a lot of Anthony in both the high and low post, places where he will succeed. As a result, the defense has been doubling down a lot on him. Anthony has done a great job, especially in this game, of effectively passing out of double teams. New York has done a great job swinging the ball which has set up a lot of open jump shots. We have also seen a lot of off-ball movement from this Knicks offense. Lots of off-ball screens to set up open shooters. Lots of screens that have caused the defense to switch and get the Knicks more favorable match-ups. There is a lot to like about what we’ve seen from this Woodson offense and I think this style of basketball is sustainable. In terms of pace, the Knicks have been somewhat slow offensively, but that should tailor to this personnel. There’s no secret there is a lot of old players on this club and this is a long 82 game season. This isn’t the D’Antoni Suns. The Knicks don’t have the legs to just run up and down for 82 games. I like the more methodical, half-court offense. I think it will suit these guys very well moving forward. Woodson seems to have connected with this club in a way D’Antoni really didn’t, at least in the Melo era. The Knicks have bought into what Woodson is selling. They’ve played hard on defense and they’ve been unselfish on offense. I think both of those things can be attributed to Woodson’s ability to connect with this group of players. Great job by the coach so far and there isn’t a reason why this style of Knicks basketball can’t continue. Read more…