Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Future of Mark Sanchez

Not too long ago Mark Sanchez represented perhaps the next of franchise quarterbacks. A bond between New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his first starting signal caller seemed destined to last for years. You know by now how this pair reached the AFC Championship Game those initial two seasons together. Results of course soured, capped off by Sanchez’s infamous “Buttfumble.” His replacement became Geno Smith, a promising yet similarly mistake-prone player. With 21 interceptions during Smith’s rookie campaign management thought it better to avoid past mistakes.

Veteran Michael Vick’s arrival brings competition that the former USC star never saw in New York. Now Sanchez faces great uncertainty himself. Many experts call 2014’s NFL Draft QB class very deep. While chances may seem limited, he likely gets another shot. Doubts will lingerie though surround a possible capacity for continuing his career. 52 turnovers between 2011 and’12 should create some fear among potential suitors. At the same time, Sanchez has mobility to extend plays, while possessing enough arm strength.
 Decision making must improve. History suggests that this player can make things happen if there is a solid supporting cast. As a backup strictly, the Green Bay Packers make sense along with the possible tutelage of Aaron Rodgers. If Sanchez wishes to start immediately, the Cleveland Browns may make sense. Former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine now is head coach. There defense was solid last year, and looks improved on paper.
 Receiver Josh Gordon has superstar-caliber talent, while tight end Jordan Cameron just needs consistently under center to truly thrive. New addition Ben Tate brings excitement at running back. Signing Sanchez could help Cleveland push an early Draft pick and win some game, while helping a fallen individual regain his confidence.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Potential Cinderella: Coastal Carolina

March Madness has arrived, and millions of people filled out their brackets. Of course choosing winners represents an American rite of passage. Office pools usually are the focus offering chances at cash and most importantly bragging rights. Challenging yourself could also bring fun.

Well you most likely know by now how finical mogul/philanthropist Warren Buffett teamed with Quicken Loans to form an inaugural “Billion Dollar Challenge”. All that separates someone from either a lump-sum payment of $500million or 40 offerings of $25million is predicting every game. Sounds easy enough right, but as many mathematicians state your odds stand around 1 in 1quintillian. Chances of cashing in on the Mega Millions or Powerball Jackpots are much better.
One way to at least standout though; chose a major upset.

No top seed has fallen in the first (well, now second round) of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. I want to inform you that each of my three brackets includes 16th Seed Coastal Carolina making history by defeating Virginia Friday night. That would probably sound crazy to many. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that this is my Alma matter, right? It does play a slight role in my thinking of course. However, CCU possesses an offensively- gifted Big Three in Elijah Wilson, Josh Cameron, and Warren Gillis.

 Each player averages over 14 points per game. On defense the Chants aggressively attack rebounds while playing at a deliberate pace. While no one would argue that UVA’s ACC Conference trumps Big South competition, the Cavaliers also surprised this season. They are a solid team with no superstar. Though ranking sixth in RPI, UVA could fall if CCU hangs around late.
Sadly two of my brackets have Memphis ending any run in the next round, but Coach Cliff Ellis’ team would probably welcome such an outcome.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rex Ryan’s Rightful Complaints with NY Jets

Five years ago New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan arrived, transforming their culture. His preference for smash-mouth ball control offense during this period of increased passing defies norms. It is appropriate given the brash personality that he carries. These guarantees have stopped since GM John Idzik took over, but Ryan remains a fiery individual. Given recent struggles that include three straight seasons without Playoff appearances doubters continue to increase.
Despite last season’s strong finish and an earlier contract extension, there are still issues. Idzik’s strategy in pursuing subtle free agent additions clashes with urgency from their coach’s situation. Make no mistake, Ryan’s long-term future remains in doubt. Signing Eric Decker improved the receiving corps, but alone is not enough. This team still has issues at corner have not been addressed while striking out on players like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Frustration reportedly builds from Ryan who believes his boss acts too conservative.

 Getting Michael Vick, who supposedly meets with New York this weekend would push QB Geno Smith, more must be done to improve pass coverage and create more plays offensively. In my opinion, a third-round pick for Philadelphia Eagles receivers could be worth risking locker room chemistry. Idzik appears content staying in rebuilding with an 8-8 team that showed promise. No matter what happens look for such power struggle to continue going forward. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Breaking Down Geno Smith’s Potential Competition

After three straight years without making the Playoffs, Rex Ryan’s New York Jets must feel frustrated. Representing one of pro Football’s most passionate fan bases creates even more urgency to obtain better results quickly. Those who were critical of their front office for fielding a sub-par group of receivers understood the many limitations. Despite not having many surrounding quality players quarterback Geno Smith deserves some blame for both his personal struggles, and that three game losing streak that ultimately proved to be New York’s undoing.
Issues remain with staring down receivers while forcing throws into tight coverage. This created too many turnovers but also makes adding a veteran presence vital. I don’t believe in Matt Simms, who has even less experience then Smith.

 Soon to be former Houston Texan Matt Schaub declined in 2013, but may simply need a change of scenery. Michael Vick would be my first choice, but could pursue other avenues in greater hopes of starting next year. No matter who arrives, New York should also draft someone during the middle rounds to create even more opposition. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Denver Broncos: NFL’s Team to Beat

The Seattle Seahawks won this past Super Bowl using suffocating defense to rattle opponents. Well their victim Denver Broncos seemed as if they took notes. Seen as “soft” using an air- raid style passing attack, Denver’s usually awesome offensive game disappeared. Defensively way too many big plays were surrendered. In free agency John Elway made huge moves immediately.  Linebacker DeMarcus Ware, corner Aqib Talib and safety TJ Ward all represent upgrades.

Now pair that with Vaughn Miller, and you have a tremendous defensive unit. Champ Bailey’s age made him susceptible in coverage, so their new addition makes sense. Darrelle Revis joining the New England Patriots was a big blow to AFC competitors, and losing Eric Decker to the New York Jets hurt somewhat, but Denver; armed with QB Peyton Manning should now be favored to win Super Bowl XLVIX.   His former team Indianapolis Colts are talented, and there are several contenders. This Broncos team just seems better to everyone else.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New York Jets: Free Agent Chronicles

Most of my first 25 years of life have been cheering on the New York Jets. Their history as many know includes many ups and downs. After Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath led Gang Green to a first Super Bowl victory they have not reached this stage again 45 years later.

 Recently New York came close while QB Vinny Testeverde and Hall of Fame RB Curtis Martin led them to an AFC Championship Game appearance in 1999. Successor Chad Pennington would have been much better if it wasn’t for repeated shoulder injuries. HC Rex Ryan is 0-2 at this point in Playoff action while his team currently has some issues. Secondary concerns linger while receiver represents a major problem. Well yesterday’s Free Agency start saw GM John Idzik continue a subtle, quiet approach.

 There were discussions with veteran Michael Vick who would push and/or mentor Geno Smith. Today wide out Eric Deker has a scheduled visit. He is solid, but may want too much money. Solid db’s like Jairus Byrd are already gone. If former Jet Darrelle Revis joins the archrival New England Patriots, that would be devastating.  So far rumors also include “serious interest” in running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Action must take place quickly for an 8-8 team looking to rise.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nick's Notes:Commentary From An Avid Sports Fan: Johnny Football: The American Dream

Nick's Notes:Commentary From An Avid Sports Fan: Johnny Football: The American Dream: In 2012 we were captivated by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel . At the time a redshirt freshman  took over and quickly proved ...

Johnny Football: The American Dream

In 2012 we were captivated by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. At the time a redshirt freshman  took over and quickly proved capable of ridiculous plays. 2012 proved to be magical for Manziel after achieving distinction as College Football’s first freshman Heisman Trophy winner. From that moment this player became the national media’s fascination. Much attention rests rightfully on an exciting and mostly unorthodox playing style of scrambling while extending passing plays. Of course there has also been extensive coverage on Manziel’s tendency to gravitate towards this attention.

After all, he represents the average American 20-something male, you know except for already having a last name synonymous with oil royalty, and supposedly dating multiple super models.

 Two brilliant seasons totaling 63 touchdowns against just 22 interceptions shows that as far as ability in college, such hype is justified. Now projecting how much success this prospect has on the NFL remains difficult.

 Arm strength reportedly does not offer a concern, however Manziel’s willingness and/or ability to operate as a pocket passer brings much discussion. There is some risk in drafting this sub-six foot QB who represents the new “Broadway Joe.” However some team likely takes “Johnny Football” early, allowing his extraordinary life to continue.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nick's Notes:Commentary From An Avid Sports Fan: Peyton Manning Passing Physical is Good for the NF...

Nick's Notes:Commentary From An Avid Sports Fan: Peyton Manning Passing Physical is Good for the NF...: Even though he will be 38 years old next season, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning remains one of the NFL’s most exciting players...

Peyton Manning Passing Physical is Good for the NFL

Even though he will be 38 years old next season, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning remains one of the NFL’s most exciting players to watch. This season saw him throw an astounding 55 touchdown passes, breaking Tom Brady’s previous mark of 50 set in 2007. Recently Manning further etched his name in stone by winning a fifth NFL MVP Award. Of course, he already held the record with four awards. Jim BrownBrett Favre and Johnny Unitas are tied for second all-time with three each. Only one of the 50 voters went against Manning, choosing Brady instead. Such a convincing win proved how dominant he remains in the latter stages of his career. Despite Denver getting destroyed in Super Bowl XLVIII this will always be an all-time great signal caller.

 On Tuesday reports surfaced that Manning passed an annual physical on that surgically repaired neck, giving the green light for a 2014 return. Now in addition to chasing his second Super Bowl ring, Archie’s middle child will most likely pass Brett Favre for career touchdown passes. As a major Favre fan this day will sting slightly, but knowing Peyton’s own class and greatness makes him worthy. Manning almost represents the end of football’s “old guard” of quarterbacks.

 Soon the league will consist basically of 20 something star signal callers. Manning’s mastery of the pre-snap audible makes him a field general comparable to no one else seen before. His physical prowess and sheer ability are going to be missed when he does call it a career.

Examining Carmelo Anthony’s Offseason Dilemma

When it comes to NBA scorers few operate with the potency of New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Antony. He can generate offense using an array of moves like posting up, or by hitting a jumper. Currently Anthony averages around 28 points per game, which in typical seasons would have him possibly thinking MVP. Well misfortunes of this Knicks team have wiped away any chance of achieving such accolades.

Last year of course New York finished respectable at 54-28 before losing to the very talented Indiana Pacers in second round action. Getting back to ‘Melo during this discussion can create such debate as to how valuable he is. Star status is something that Anthony has earned in terms of a pension for taking over games at times. Sadly, there are too many instances where ball movement suddenly halts when isolation plays become much too common place. Right now they are mired in a seven-game losing streak, while most likely slipping out of Playoff contention. Again competition for these bottom two seeds is less than stellar. Anthony’s tendencies for lack of passing cannot be only his fault.

Owner James Dolan has not assembled a quality team.

Yes injuries have hurt but you’re supposedly contender before this season while so called significant additions are one-trick pony Andrea Bargnani  and an eroding Ron “Meta World Peace” Artest.  Amare Stoudemire’s horrid contract prohibits much room for immediate improvement. It is said to be Anthony’s intention to retire as a Knick. There are much more favorable fits out West in possible sign-and-trade scenarios with perhaps the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers or Houston Rockets. Even signing outright with aging Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers would be more appealing. Getting away from this mess with misfit parts like JR Smith behooves Anthony despite Madison Square Garden’s allure. Fans are planning to protest March 19th and they are more than justified.   

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

NFL Free Agency: Michael Vick’s Last Chance

A decade ago quarterback Michael Vick resided on top of the football world. As the game’s most electrifying player he appeared on video game covers while also enjoying incredible contracts. In 2005 Vick led the Atlanta Falcons to an NFC Championship game appearance.

It was around this time where this playmaker famously caused two Minnesota Vikings defenders to collide as he broke free for a game-winning touchdown. Here we had what can only be described as an” original RGIII.” By this I mean Vick represented one tremendous dual-threat signal caller.


All came crashing down of course as allegations of a dog fighting ring surfaced. You probably know how Vick’s involvement in such horrible activities became understood. Well after two years in prison he had a new outlook on life in regards to personal conduct.

Work ethic also became an improved aspect while the admitted earlier slacker began much more thorough film study and game preparation. Then Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid provided a second chance. After quick success, results somewhat turned. In 2013 Nick Foles took advantage of Vick’s injuries while leading Philly to the Playoffs.

Their backup will soon hit free agency and a return is not expected. Rumored interested teams include the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Oakland Raiders. Next year would be his likely last chance at starting. Oakland should pursue him while New York and Buffalo could push young quarterbacks. Health remains Vick’s main obstacle as he only started all 16 games once. Still ,despite being near 34 years old there is enough talent to give Vick one last shot.


Monday, March 3, 2014

NBA Playoff Race: Brooklyn Nets Must Avoid Seventh or Eighth Seed

It took longer than expected, but the Brooklyn Nets are indeed contenders in the Eastern conference. Despite only hovering around .500 this team should be considered dangerous around Playoff time. Of course, I am assuming that Jason Kidd’s club qualifies for postseason action among their sub par counterparts. Losing Brook Lopez, a border line super star center earlier for the year hurt. Rookie Mason Plumlee has stepped in providing energy, but it is not the same. Now point guard Deron Williams has rebounded from his own health issues to lead Brooklyn back from a 10-21 start. Currently they sit at 28-29, which qualifies for sixth in the East.
 Most likely that would lead to a first-round match up with someone other than LeBron James’ Miami Heat and Paul George’s Indiana Pacers. While the upstart Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards have young talent, they are not elite. 
 Staying clear of the two powerhouse clubs early gives them their best shot to win at least one series before going down. Solid bench depth along with veteran starters like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce provides an intriguing mix. Paul If they just get in Brooklyn can still make a run, but Miami or Indiana would most likely end their Championship dreams quickly.