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Archive for the month “December, 2015”

What’s Next For Chip Kelly?

(photo courtesy of Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy of Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

The Chip Kelly era is over in Philly. The former University of Oregon coach took over there in Philadelphia three years ago after the team parted ways with longtime coach Andy Reid. When they hired him there, plenty wondered if he could make the transition from college to the professional ranks. Well, he answered those questions immediately with a 10 win season and a playoff berth in his first season. He followed that up with another 10 win season although he did not make the playoffs in his second campaign. But going into his third year, Kelly took on another role, controlling player personnel as well as being the head coach. That move led to Kelly moving his leading rusher (LeSean McCoy) and leading passer (Nick Foles) via trade. He replaced those two with quarterback Sam Bradford (whom he traded Nick Foles for) and free agent running back DeMarco Murray. Murray along with cornerback Byron Maxwell were the two big free agent acquisitions for Kelly and were expected to be bigtime contributors for the team. But instead of them being bigtime contributors, both seemed to not live up to the hype and the contracts they signed. And instead of being smart moves by Chip, those moves ended up looking pretty bad. Add in that the linebacker that Chip acquired in the LeSean McCoy trade (Kiko Alonso) was not as impactful as Chip thought he would be and the Eagles were not very thrilled with what he had created in this team. The team, coincidentally, did not do so well this season and was 6-9 going into the last game of the season. Eagles owner Chip Lurie decided he was going to take away his personnel power this offseason and Kelly decided he did not want to do so. So when Lurie got that response, he decided to let Kelly go. And now Kelly has gone from a mad scientist to an unemployed coach in the matter of three seasons. He is a talented coach, but there has been some question as to where does he fit. Does he stay at the professional level or does he go back to college? He has said that he wants to stay in the NFL, but there will be plenty of offers out there. So what does he do next?

One place that has been mentioned numerous times is the Tennessee Titans. Even before he was fired, there had been mention of the Titans taking a look at him because of him being the former coach of the Titans 2015 1st round pick, quarterback Marcus Mariota. Before the 2015 NFL Draft, Kelly tried to put a deal together to get the talented quarterback to Phily. But that deal was balked at by the Titans and they drafted him to be their franchise quarterback. If Kelly comes here, he would get probably the most talented quarterback he has had in his NFL coaching career and someone he is very familiar with from his Oregon days. And along with him being the coach, he more than likely would be able to come in with a new general manager in Tennessee that fits more with his personality. If that happens, then we can see if Chip has learned from his mistakes in Philly in terms of player relationships. One thing he would be wise to do is keep the defensive coaching personnel he has here now, which includes Hall Of Famer Dick LeBeau. The good thing about coming to Nashville would be he would be coming to a team that needs many things and that would buy him at least three years or more to get it right here.

But Tennessee is not the only option for Chip Kelly. Cleveland is another place that is on shaky ground right now. Head coach Mike Pettine and management seem not to be on the same page and that relationship seems to be heading towards an end after this season. Back when Kelly was hired as the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles three years ago, he had a choice between heading to Philly and going to Cleveland. He took the Philly job and the Browns decided to hire Rob Chudzinski, who was the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator at the time. Chudzinski was fired after one season and the Browns then hired former Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to follow him. And ever since he has been there, there just seems to be some kind of issue with him and management, mainly general manager Ray Farmer. Both have things they want to get done and players they want to see on the field and their agendas just don’t seem to be the same. So what more than likely will happen is Pettine will get fired in Cleveland as soon as Monday. And if that happens, the Browns will likely pursue Kelly. In going there, Kelly would have a team that is in worse shape than the Tennessee Titans are. The team still does not have a solid quarterback they can depend on and the defense is not very good either. Chip would be walking into something that could take a while to get back to respectability. But the challenge would be something that Chip could like. He could come in there and potentially make Johnny Manziel a solid quarterback in his system. But in terms of winning, he would be in a worse position than he would be if he came to Tennessee. And if he signs there, he would be facing the possibility of being unemployed again very soon based on the disarray there.

Those two options could be there, but there is also the option of Chip to sit out a season. After all that has happened in Philly with him, that could be something that he does. The Tennessee and Cleveland jobs are not something that are guaranteed and all the colleges that may have been interested in him have hired their coaches already or decided to keep their current coach. So taking a year off may make him even more in demand, especially at the college level, which is where he could land next. For example, his name was mentioned as a potential replacement for Les Miles at LSU if he would have gotten fired. But Miles is safe heading into next season per the athletic director there. If Miles is to stumble next season there, then the noise will start again for Kelly to be brought in. And with his style of offense and the athletes that LSU has, Kelly would be right back to his winning ways at the college level that he was in Oregon. Of course, Kelly has said that he wants to remain at the professional level, but that does not mean he will balk at a collegiate job that opens up if the fit is good for him.

Chip Kelly learned hopefully learned some lessons in his three years in Philly. One thing he has to do is make sure he does not fill his plate with too many things like he did in Philly. If he focuses on just the coaching aspect of the team should he stay in the NFL, he will set himself up for success better than he did in Philly. But if he wants more power over things, then he needs to go back to college where he can be given what he wants. And in that instance, he would have to wait until next season. We shall see what Chip decides to do next. But for now, he is an unemployed mad scientist.

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The General’s Top Three Candidates To Replace Chip Kelly

(photo courtesy of www.philly.com)

(photo courtesy of http://www.philly.com)

The Philadelphia Eagles entered this year under total control of Chip Kelly. The former University of Oregon head coach took over the general manager duties in his third year with the Eagles after back-to-back ten win seasons. But after some head-scratching trades and signings along with some underwhelming play, the Eagles now sit at 6-9 going into the last game of the season. The Chip Kelly experiment did not turn out as it was expected going into year three and with that, there was some blowback. Per ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Eagles president Jeffrey Lurie wanted to strip Kelly of his personnel control. After all, Chip traded away running back LaSean “Shady” McCoy for banged up linebacker Kiko Alonso, let dynamic wide receiver Jeremy Maclin walk in free agency and signed cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and running back DeMarco Murray. Besides the trade of quarterback Nick Foles for quarterback Sam Bradford (which was somewhat successful), all of his other moves were not successful. Chip apparently did not want to give up the personnel control. And when he did not do that, Lurie called his bluff. Chip Kelly is now out as the head coach of the Eagles and the team that thought they had their successor to Andy Reid is looking for a head coach again. There are many candidates that are out there, but here are three that could be on their radar.

The first call Lurie could make is to Cincinnati. No, he is not going to be speaking to Marvin Lewis and trying to bring him to Philly. The man he should be looking to speak to there is offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Under Jackson’s tutelage, the Bengals are averaging 26 points per game this year. And each year he has been there, they have gotten better and better offensively. The good thing about Hue is he has head coaching experience and his offenses have been known to be versatile. His addition in Philly would be huge for DeMarco Murray. Hue likes to run traditional running formations with a fullback and that would allow Murray to run more downhill like he is accustomed to. But along with the traditional formations, Hue can also bring in the explosive formations with three or four wide receivers and is also used to having wide receivers that he can flex out in the slot (Philadelphia has Zach Ertz that he can use that way). Whatever he has offensively, he makes it work and gets the most out of it. And most of all, he would cut out some of the empty possessions that the Eagles had all this season. The one question mark about Hue would be who he would bring in as defensive coordinator. That would be huge for the Eagles due to them being in a 3-4 for the last three seasons.

But Hue is not the only offensive coordinator out there that people are going to be looking at. Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase was the hot name on the coaching circuit last season when he was calling plays for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ offense. But unfortunately for him, he did not land a head coaching gig and ended up following John Fox to Chicago. Some thought some of the shine would wear off, but he has still been solid as an offensive coordinator in Chicago. The best thing he has done in Chicago is coaching Jay Cutler. The veteran out of Vanderbilt is having one of his best seasons (interception-wise) in four years. Gase would instill an offense that would be similar to the one that Chip Kelly ran in terms of pace and getting rid of the ball quickly. But the one difference is he uses the running game better than Chip does. That would help utilize DeMarco Murray more and also help the offense and whoever is quarterbacking that team next season. And the defense more than likely would stay in a 3-4 since that is what he is used to having. The one question always about Gase is how smart is he and did the quarterbacks he had make him look better than what he is? Are the Eagles willing to hedge their bet financially that he is the creator of the system? Only time will tell.

The Eagles had problems offensively this season, but they did have some issues defensively, especially with their defensive backs. Teryl Austin is a former defensive backs coach in his career and he also is the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. The defense was excellent last season under him when he had defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and crew running wild up front. This season, they got off to a rough start, but they were able to get it going this season down the stretch. One thing that Austin would bring to the Eagles was a sense of urgency at all times. His defenses always hustle and play at breakneck speed. Adding him to this organization would mean a switch of defenses (from the 3-4 to the 4-3), but it would also mean that there would be a former defensive backs coach there to maybe help bring the Eagles defensive backfield, which has struggled the last two seasons. If he could solve that and then keep the rest of the defense on par, then the Eagles may be solid there. The one question (along with who will be playing quarterback next season in Philly) will be what will the offense look like? Will he run more of a power offense to support a physical defense or will the offense be something of a wide-open offense. The offensive ideas that he could potentially tell the Eagles brass (should he get the call for an interview) could make or break his candidacy for the Philadelphia job. But either way, he would be a solid hire due to his infectious energy and his accountability he holds players to.

These three candidates would fit in Philly. Of course there are some question marks about them, but there are also some positives that they will bring to the Eagles organization. And most of all, each hire has something that will help the prized free agents the Eagles signed last offseason. The reality is Murray and Maxwell are not going anywhere anytime soon. You may as well bring in a coach that can help maximize their abilities instead of letting them waste away and having to eat all that guaranteed money. It should be interesting to see who they hire next. But as far as the Chip Kelly experiment, it all went horribly wrong once they gave a man that had won nothing absolute power.

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Cam Newton Is Going To Make MVP History Whether Folks Like It Or Not

(photo courtesy of Mark Zaleski/Associated Press)

(photo courtesy of Mark Zaleski/Associated Press)

The MVP race has had his ebbs and flows this year. At first people were speaking of Tom Brady of the Patriots winning it. Then there was Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals mentioned. And after that Cam Newton of the Panthers has taken it over. The Panthers were undefeated leading up to their game against the Falcons in Atlanta this week. Plenty looked at it as a continuation of the 38-0 woodshed beating the Panthers put on Atlanta in Charlotte. But this one had quite the different story. The Falcons came out and played with heart and pride as they beat the Panthers 20-13. The Falcons defense was after Cam Newton all day, as he had one of his worst games all season. And immediately, many began to question whether he was the MVP. But that was not all that was said. Many began to speak on the narrative that has long been said about Cam Newton. That he was an arrogant guy and that he was a guy that did not take losing well. And some even said that this loss brought Carson Palmer back into the MVP race. For those that think this MVP race is even close, I got a few words for you: Open your eyes.

Before the season, the thought was the Panthers would not be very good. They had lost their star wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, to a torn ACL. And they had a ragtag group of receivers left that many felt were horrible. The defense was still there, but the offense was very questionable. But Cam not only made this offense viable, he made it one of the best in the NFL. The Panthers are ranked second in the NFL in scoring (30.8 points per game) and are the second leading rushing team in the NFL. And although their passing game is not ranked very high (23rd in the NFL), they are very explosive. For example, Ted Ginn Jr had not had double-digit touchdowns in a year in his career. This season, Cam has helped him have the best season of his career, getting 10 touchdowns up to this point. And as far as the offensive line, that was an issue that was mentioned before the season. Many thought that they would be terrible and would not be able to protect Cam. They have had their issues, but Cam has helped them some with his mobility. And they even produced two Pro Bowlers out of the bunch (center Ryan Khalil and guard Trai Turner).

When you take a look at what Cam compared to Carson Palmer, there are a few things that people can say make him the MVP. The offense of the Cardinals is the only one better than the Panthers in the NFL. Also, Palmer has a better percentage rating and has thrown for more yardage. But what no one talks about is Palmer has one of the best lines in the NFL and he also has skill position players that Carolina can only dream of. Besides tight end Greg Olsen, the Cardinals have far and away better offensive weapons than Cam does. So essentially Cam does more with less than anyone in the NFL right now. And overall, Cam has accounted for more total touchdowns (41) than Carson has (35). But the main numbers that sway the MVP is the wins. And for those that will try to say this game caused Carson to get back in the race, they may want to remember that Carson’s has had some dud game and that he has not thrown for five touchdowns in a game once all season.

The underlying narrative that is being formed is people are out there that do not want Cam Newton to win the MVP. There have been plenty that have not liked him since he stepped foot in the league or even since he was at Auburn. People have been going out of their way to point out reasons why he would not succeed in the NFL. They said he was too dumb to be an NFL quarterback when he first got here (the usual Black quarterback narrative that is put out there). And then they went on to point out the way he wraps his head in a towel on the sideline and how he seemingly is not in a good mood when they are losing (I wonder where those same people are when Tom Brady is going off on the sidelines and even yelling at a coach). They also try to say he is a poor sport because he has fun while he plays and dances in the endzone. (No one ever said quarterback dancing in the endzone was wrong). Whether folks like it or not, the MVP trophy is coming to Charlotte, making Cam the first African-American quarterback to win the MVP award outright. History is about to be made and Cam will be the face of it.

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Miko Grimes May Want To Hit The Chill Button

(photo courtesy of The Sun-Sentinel)

(photo courtesy of The Sun-Sentinel)

The Miami Dolphins have not had the season they expected. The feeling around the team was that with the additions of Ndamukong Suh and the growth of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team would cause some problems for the rest of the AFC. Well, that hasn’t exactly happened. Suh has been largely invisible up front and been seen loafing on plays. And Tannehill has been inconsistent as always. In their most recent game, the Dolphins were down early to the Colts and seemed to have no pulse. But they rallied to come back before ultimately failing on a fourth and goal with a chance to tie the game. The Colts would win the game 18-12 and extend the misery of the Dolphins. Miami falls to 5-10 this season and the misery continues for them. But after the game, there was even more to talk about besides another loss. Brent Grimes’ wife, Miko Grimes, took to Twitter to speak on some reporters that follow the team that she does not care for. She also went on to voice her thoughts on Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill including this: “I knew this quarterback stunk the moment we signed to this team but I tried to be quiet so I didn’t discourage bae from believing in his team”. Of course these thoughts hit mainstream media and now everyone is talking about the things that she has said. She has a right to her opinion and can express it anytime she would like. And although some of what she said about Tannehill’s talents may be true in her eyes, she may want to realize a few things in regards to expressing her opinion.

It seems like Mrs. Grimes has it in for the Dolphins and has had it in for them since she landed there. On the radio show she used to host, she reportedly used to talk noise about the team on there. She has no filter and that is not a good thing at all for Brent Grimes. When he has to go to work at the facility, the main thing he should be thinking about is the gameplan for the week. But instead, he now has to be wondering in his mind what the Dolphins are going to approach him about next in regards to his wife. The team has reportedly approached him on five occasions as to what his wife says on social media and when she used to say when she was on the radio. And once he is done speaking to the organizational brass, he then has to go in the locker room and face the teammates that she has been talking about, including Ryan Tannehill and the offense of the Dolphins. That has to make for an awkward locker room with that going on. What Miko may want to realize is that there is no “we” when Brent Grimes is in the locker room. She is not the one that has to deal with this each and every time she pops off, Brent does. So she may want to actually think on these comments and develop a filter if not for herself, then for the sake of her husband, who bears the brunt of this mess.

The other thing that Miko Grimes may want to think on is employment of her husband. As these social media blips by her keep piling up, the feelings between the organization and Grimes get damaged. And eventually the Dolphins may get sick of this and decide that they are tired of dealing with these issues. At that point, her husband could be out of a job. And with how Miko Grimes’ has been acting towards this organization, there will sure be some effects in regards to who is interested in her husband going forward. That may limit what markets he ends up playing for and ultimately the money he receives. If she continues on this path, then teams will not want Brent Grimes due to his wife and the filter she does not have. And if he is unemployed because of her, then there will be some resentment there from Brent towards his wife more than likely. If she wants “them” to continue to make money, then she may want to check into getting a filter. Because along with making herself look foolish, she could hurt her husband’s pockets.

Ultimately though, Brent Grimes has to handle this bit of business. No one knows what is going on in their home, but one can assume that Brent has not spoke much to her (or she is ignoring him) about her publicly criticizing the team. One can assume that he is speaking on the team at home and she is repeating them. So, he has to either stop speaking to her about the team or tell her to keep what he says in house. You’re not getting any younger Brent and chances to play will get slimmer and slimmer as you get older. And with Miko all over social media, the chances can go from slim to none quickly. Tell Miko to stay in her lane Brent and be supportive of you instead of bashing the team and making things harder on you.

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The Winds Of Change Are Blowing In Chicago

(photo courtesy of Rob Grabowski/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Rob Grabowski/USA Today Sports)

The Chicago Bulls have had a slow start to the season. There have been games where they have shown up, games where they have been missing in action and everything in between. The firing of Tom Thibodeau and hiring of Fred Hoiberg in his place was supposed to get the offense going. But instead of getting the offense going, the Bulls have seemingly been stunted on that end. They rank at the back end of the NBA in scoring, worse than they did last season. And on the defensive end, they are not giving the same effort they used to. Only one guy has been consistent throughout all their ups and down this season: guard Jimmy Butler. But if they are to pick it up, some things have to change. Jimmy Butler went public this week, criticizing coach Hoiberg and saying that he needed to be harder on everyone, including him. The win on Thursday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder is only is a temporary coat of makeup to cover the blemishes they have. The Bulls have no identity. It used to be that they played harder than anyone else and played stingy defense. But this year that cannot even be counted on and they have coasted in some games as well. In this situation, something has to change and change now.

In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls drafted power forward Bobby Portis. The young big man out of Arkansas can shoot the three, post up and he can handle the basketball. He seems to be a matchup nightmare for teams on a nightly basis. But because of the gluttony of big men the Bulls have (Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson), he cannot get any playing time. As a result, there have been many rumors floating around of shaking the Bulls’ roster up and trading at least one of these big men to free up time for Portis. But which one should it be? Each one of these players bring a different element to the team. And in different times, all of them have stepped up and helped get a win for the team. But standing at 16-12 is not what they imagined this year and something has to change. There will be plenty of people looking at acquiring Pau Gasol. The 36 year old is very skilled and has championship experience (won two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers). Taj is the grit and grime player for the Bulls. But the difference between he and Noah is Gibson can score when given the opportunity and has a better stroke. With Mirotic, the Bulls are still trying to figure it out. He has some good games, but he has some games where he is non-existent. And this staff is also trying to figure out whether they want to play him at the small forward or the power forward position. That leaves Noah, who is currently out with a shoulder injury, as the best possible odd man out.

Noah’s shoulder injury he has is not expected to be anything too series. The veteran center is supposed to be back in two weeks. And if he shows that he is healthy, he will draw some trade interest. The most attractive thing about him is that he is a guy that does not require the basketball to make an impact. He can be your secondary ball-handler, a defensive anchor and he will make all the hustle plays that a championship team needs. And to top it all off, he has a contract that is expiring at the end of the season. Whoever is to trade for him, they will essentially have the rest of the season to check him out. And if they don’t like what they see, then they can let him go and not have to be tied up to his contract. The Bulls would more than likely be looking for another wing player or potentially their point guard of the future in this deal also. Nothing is set in stone, but Noah is definitely dangling out there for someone to take. And for many, it is just a matter of “when” and not “if” when it comes to Noah leaving town.

The Bulls have been identified by two players for some time now: Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. They both had some good and bad times, but the fact of the matter is their time is all but up in Chicago. Noah is a free agent this season and Rose will a free agent in 2017. The winds of change are blowing in the Windy City and Rose and Noah could be the next few to get swept out of town. But as far as this offseason, the change is definitely necessary because Bobby Portis is too skilled to be sitting on the bench not getting playing time. And Noah may be the guy that has to go that will clear way for him to get more playing time.

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Replacing Tyrann Mathieu In Arizona

(photo courtesy of Getty Images)

(photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals were flying high, leading by 23 points in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly. Everything seemed to be going their way, and then one play happened that could possibly change the outcome of their season. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu picked off a Sam Bradford pass for the Cardinals. He was on his way to return the interception when his right knee gave out on him, sending him crumbling to the ground. The Cardinals were hoping for good news and that it was just a sprain or something or that sort. But the bad news was confirmed this week when it was announced that Mathieu was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee. As a result, Mathieu is out for the rest of the season and will have to work very hard to even have a chance to play to start next season. There were some questions as to why he was even in the game to begin with. The Cardinals had the game in hand and were cruising to a victory. But that is neither here nor there at this point. Mathieu is not coming back this season and there is nothing the Cardinals can do about it.

The Cardinals take a huge hit with the Honey Badger gone. Mathieu was originally drafted as a cornerback. But he was such a playmaker, the Cardinals had to get him into their starting lineup. So instead of starting at cornerback, Mathieu started at safety. And although he is undersized for that position (generously standing at 5’9”), he was everywhere on the field. The thing that made him so excellent for the Cardinals was his versatility. He started off at the safety position in games. And he would patrol the open field along with sneaking down for blitzes and under coverage. But he could also play the slot corner position, a place very few safeties can play. And when he was there, he batted down passes, intercepted passes and was a general disruptor of plays. Many look at Patrick Peterson as the best defensive back on the team. And with his resume, Peterson just might be the best defensive back they have. But in Mathieu, he is definitely their best playmaker out there. He is one of three players currently in the NFL that have 80 tackles and five interceptions. His impact was immeasurable and he will surely be missed.

The loss is something that will hurt the Cardinals, but it is not the end of the world. After all, the Cardinals adjusted on the fly this year and put safety Deone Buchanan at linebacker to start the year. And that adjustment has been very successful for them. So moving forward, the Cardinals will have to hope veteran Rashad Johnson is able to get healthy and play. He currently is suffering from an ankle injury and that has him questionable for this week. Another guy that has to step up at the safety position is Tony Jefferson. The third-year safety from Oklahoma is going to get his chances to make some plays happen. Not saying he is the Honey Badger, but he just needs to be solid and make some things happen. If he makes the plays when they are available and is sure in his techniques, the Cardinals should be fine at the safety spot. But as far as the slot corner, that one will be something the Cardinals will have to tinker with. They have Patrick Peterson, but he usually sticks with the top wide receiver threat from each team. So that leaves cornerback Jerraud Powers and Justin Bethel. Powers has been targeted a bunch by opposing teams and that has been an issue for the Cardinals during points of the season. With Mathieu gone, the Cardinals may just take him inside to play situationally. The only other option is taking cornerback Justin Bethel and putting him in the slot. The Cardinals seemingly don’t feel comfortable with him there, so it will more than likely be Cromartie and Powers manning the slot. Either way, they have to make a decision on how they want to approach that spot.

The playoffs are approaching and there will be some times where defensive back play will be crucial. With Mathieu gone, the Cardinals now have two weeks to devise a plan to replace him. It may take some ingenuity, but the Cardinals are surely capable. But it will take all of their defensive backs to make this happen. And for their sake, they better hope one of them can make some plays. The things Mathieu does cannot be duplicated by anyone the Cardinals have. And he definitely was the guy that was responsible for a lot of big plays.

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The General’s Christmas Gifts To NFL Teams

(photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It’s Christmas time and kids around the world are unwrapping gifts from under their Christmas tree. Some got gifts they were hoping for while others got unexpected surprises. All in all, the gift of giving was in full swing. In that spirit, every NFL team is in need of something. So why not gift them a few things that they need? Here is the list of gifts the General would give to NFL teams going into the end of the regular season.

Arizona Cardinals-A healthy Tyrann Matheiu

The Cardinals are a dangerous team heading into the playoffs. They have multiple weapons on offense and their defense can put pressure on you from all angles. Unequivocally, their best playmaker was defensive back Tyrann Matheiu. But unfortunately, the third-year defensive back tore his ACL in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cardinals are a still a threat to win the NFC, but that threat is less without Matheiu. If only they could be gifted a healthy playmaker like him at this time.

Atlanta Falcons- Better decision-making for Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan has always been said to be one of the great young quarterbacks in the NFL. But this year, he has definitely struggled. He is near the top in interceptions thrown in the NFL and he has just been off ever since the hot start by Atlanta. If he had some better decision-making, then maybe the Falcons win some of those games instead of taking a loss.

Baltimore Ravens- Health

The Ravens have struggled this season. They have also been hit with key injury after key injury. They have lost their top pass-rusher, wide receiver, quarterback and running back this season. Not many teams can overcome that one. Maybe they would have been better with some of their key pieces healthy. But all of that is pure speculation at this point.

Buffalo Bills- Some consistency

The Buffalo Bills are definitely a talented team. But their issue is they show up inconsistently. If they were a solid team, they would have been in the playoffs at this point. But instead, they are on the outside looking in. The key word is consistency with them and they have yet to find it all season long.

Carolina Panthers- A healthy Kelvin Benjamin

The Carolina Panthers have had a storybook season so far. They have won scoring a ton of points and won scoring very little. It just seems like they have the “it” factor. Cam Newton has stepped up as a passer and that is huge for Carolina. But he would probably much rather be throwing the football to Kelvin Benjamin than Ted Ginn Jr. The speedy veteran is having a career year, but he still has questionable hands and Benjamin was the closest thing they had to a sure thing at that position. Hopefully that does not catch up to them in the playoffs.

Chicago Bears- More defensive playmakers

Looking at the Bears, they are not badly set up offensively. Jay Cutler has not played bad this year for the Bears and Alshon Jeffrey has been solid this season. But on the defensive side of the ball, there are not many playmakers there. Besides Darnell McPhee, not many playmakers you can speak of there. Hopefully for them, they are able to bring in some defensive playmakers this offseason. They need them sorely.

Cincinnati Bengals-A postseason win for Marvin Lewis

The Bengals have been great in the regular season for a while now. That used to be something that could never be uttered ever. But now, the Bengals are a perennial participant in the playoffs. Making the playoffs is not enough anymore for the Bengals, as they have lost every playoff game they have had since Lewis has taken over there. For him, it is imperative that they get a win in the playoffs soon. If he doesn’t, he could potentially get the ax.

Cleveland Browns- A moment of clarity

The Browns have not been relevant ever since they reappeared in the NFL in 1999. And the most recent edition is a group that is much in disarray. It seems the front office and the coaching staff cannot ever get on the same page. So for them, a moment of clarity is needed. Maybe with that moment can come some people that actually can be on the same page and build that organization. If that moment never comes, they will continue to be known as “The Mistake By The Lake”.

Dallas Cowboys- A healthy Tony Romo

The Cowboys seemed like they never could get it going this season offensively. They had star wide receiver Dez Bryant get injured early and quarterback Tony Romo was injured early also. He meant a lot to that team because they have only won one game since he has been injured. The Cowboys are now on their fourth quarterback and they would do anything to have their star QB back. Alas, the Cowboys will go from division champs to potentially the cellar dwellers in their division in one year.

Denver Broncos- Consistency offensively

The Denver Broncos were one of the most potent offenses in the NFL last season. They could get it done whether it be Peyton Manning throwing touchdown passes or their running attack chewing up yardage. But John Fox and his coaching staff were let go after the season in favor of former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. Ever since he has been there, he has changed the offense and not for the better unfortunately. The offense has not been consistently firing on all cylinders all year and if it were not for their defense, the Broncos would be in trouble. And no matter if it were Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler, there is just that learning curve that it takes to get comfortable in a new offense. Maybe Denver will get consistent one of these days offensively.

Detroit Lions- Some sense of direction

The Detroit Lions had a tumultuous start to the season. They lost six straight games and then there was a shakeup in their coaching staff and their front office. In all that, the Lions have played better since the changes have happened. But honestly, this franchise has no direction at this present time. Maybe with the next hires in their front office and coaching staff they will find some direction and be able to move forward.

Green Bay Packers- A consistent offensive line

The Green Bay Packers have had their issues offensively this year. Some would pin those issues on the loss of wide receiver Jordy Nelson. But their issues are much deeper than the loss of a veteran wide receiver. The offensive line has not been what it usually is. You can consistently see quarterback Aaron Rodgers running around trying to make plays while avoiding defensive players coming for him. A quarterback like Rodgers deserves to have someone consistently block for him. And if the line could block more consistently and the running game show up every week, the Packers may be a more consistent team.

Houston Texans- A consistent defensive playmaker opposite of JJ Watt

The Houston Texans are sitting in first place and much of the credit (at least defensively) should go to JJ Watt. He has fought through all kinds of things to still have an impact on the game. But the thing that is amazing is he has had no consistent threat opposite him most of his career. If they could only find someone to consistently be a threat along the defensive line with Watt, the defense would be even better than they are right now.

Indianapolis Colts- Offensive line help

The Colts have paid many people along their offense. They brought in veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore. They even gave an extension to wide receiver TY Hilton. But they have never really addressed their offensive line. And because of that, they now sit with two banged up quarterbacks and an offense that has been very inconsistent. Maybe they should look at the guys up front when it comes to spending money next offseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars- A defensive pass rush

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made some strides this season. Their young players have stepped up. Allen Robinson has become the receiver they thought he would. Allen Hurns has been excellent in his first two years. And quarterback Blake Bortles has taken a giant step forward. Defensively, they have the pieces, but they are missing one crucial element. The Jaguars need a consistent pass rusher that strikes fear in the opponent. Maybe this offseason, they will be blessed with one.

Kansas City Chiefs- Another wide receiver

The Kansas City Chiefs were known as a team that ignored their wide receivers when it came to the endzone in 2014. Last year they did not have one touchdown to their wide receiver. Coming into this season, they acquired wide receiver Jeremy Maclin from the Eagles to bolster that wide receiver corp. Maclin has done well for Kansas City. But for the Chiefs to get better, they need another wide receiver to expand their offense. If they are able to find that playmaker opposite Maclin, then watch out for what Andy Reid can do with them.

Miami Dolphins- A redo on the Ndamukong Suh contract

Let’s be honest. Ndamukong Suh has not had the impact that he was thought to have when he signed that megadeal in Miami. He has been seen loafing on plays and there have been reports that he has “gone rogue” a few times on the field. I don’t know what the Dolphins thought was going to happen when they signed him, but they have been utterly disappointed and are wishing they had a warranty on Suh so they could trade him in.

Minnesota Vikings-Another playmaking wide receiver

The Vikings have started to make strides towards getting it back on track there. They got Adrian Peterson back and he returned to form. But unfortunately for them, their wide receivers have not panned out like they thought. The trade for Mike Wallace was not as profitable as they thought and rookie Stephon Diggs has turned out to be their best playmaker. The team obviously needs another guy there to help Teddy Bridgewater and that passing game. If they get that added weapon, then the Vikings could be even better offensively.

New England Patriots-Health

The Patriots are always a perennial title contender. But this year, the team has had some health issues. Julian Edelman is currently out injured (although he is practicing now) and running back LaGarrette Blount is out for the year with a hip injury, joining third-down back Dion Lewis (torn ACL) on injured reserve. If the Pats were fully healthy, the team would probably still be undefeated and even more dangerous. But now they are not as dangerous offensively and they need some players to step up.

New Orleans Saints- A redo on Brandon Browner’s contract

The New Orleans Saints have not exactly been where they thought they would have been this season. The team has struggled and they will not be making the playoffs again. One piece that was supposed to make them better was cornerback Brandon Browner. He was brought in from New England to bolster their secondary, but he has nothing but create drama. The veteran corner set a record for most penalties in a season this year and has been a disruption for the team. If only the Saints could have seen the future before they signed him.

New York Giants- Holding on to leads

The New York Giants appear to be heading to another season sitting at home instead of being in the playoffs. They had a bunch of chances to make the situation better for themselves, but they just could not close the deal. If the Giants just could have held on to the leads they had in fourth quarters this season, they would be talking playoffs right now. But instead, they invented ways to lose in football’s most important quarter.

New York Jets- A redo of the Eagles game

The Jets are in the playoff race this year and could make the playoffs. And when you’re in that situation, there is always the thought of what games got away from you. The one that got away from the Jets was the game versus the Eagles earlier this season. They just seemed to be not in the game and when they tried to make a comeback, it was too late and the Eagles had the game at hand. If they had won that game, they would not be in the predicament they are in right now, scratching and clawing for a playoff spot.

Oakland Raiders- Defensive backs

The Oakland Raiders are trying to get it right. The progress is there. Khalil Mack is a wrecking ball defensively and the offense has definitely got the right pieces, led by quarterback Derek Carr. But as far as defensive backs, the Raiders need help there. Safety Charles Woodson was the lynchpin back there and took care of a lot of mistakes that were made. But he is retiring after this season and they will need someone to replace him. Along with that, the pieces they have there are not ones that prove to be a solid secondary. The Raiders may be shopping for cornerbacks this offseason.

Philadelphia Eagles-redo on the contracts of DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell

The Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of issues going on that have affected their season. Two of them happen to be players they brought in to make them better. Byron Maxwell was paid handsomely to be their shutdown corner. He has proven not to be that shutdown corner. And although he has had some good moments, he has had others that make you wonder whether it was him or the Seattle defensive scheme. Offensively, Murray never fit the offense that Chip Kelly ran and it showed. He is more of a North/South runner in a scheme that does not cater to that at all. If they could have saw the future, they surely would have avoided these two in free agency.

Pittsburgh Steelers- Late-game adjustments and decisions

The Steelers have a high-octane offense and they have a defense that is growing with each week. But unfortunately, some of the adjustments and calls down the stretch from the coaching staff leave things to be desired. For example, the Steelers had the game won versus the Denver Broncos when offensive coordinator Todd Haley inexplicably called a pass play that was intercepted by the Broncos’ Brandon Marshall. Denver ultimately lost the game and could not capitalize on the gift, but these sort of gaffes and inexplicable coaching decision have happened a lot this year. If the Steelers could clean these decision up and continue to grow as a team, they would give some team fits come playoff times.

San Diego Chargers-A resolution to the stadium issues

It seems like the Chargers and the city of San Diego have been fighting over a new stadium for decades at this point. News is out that the team may be moving to Los Angeles with them getting the new stadium that they craved so much. The move still has to be voted on by the owners in Houston in January, but it seems like the stadium questions may finally be coming to an end for the Chargers and the city.

San Francisco 49ers- An end to the nightmare

The San Francisco 49ers season has been painful. They lost a few players to retirement and others to free agency. And all the while, the team did not really replace those players who left. And this season has some remembering the days when Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary were coaching the team. It is an endless nightmare that seems to have no end in sight currently. For the sake of the 49ers and their fans, they are hoping it ends soon.

Seattle Seahawks- a rebirth of the Legion Of Boom

The Seahawks are soaring right now and their offense is the one leading the way. Russell Wilson is playing at a level he has never played at before. However, the secondary needs to get it together like they have in years past. There have been some breakdowns that normally did not happen in past years. If they can get that together for the playoffs, then all is well. But that has to be alarming though. And it has to be fixed when crunch time comes around.

St. Louis Rams- Consistent quarterback play

The Rams thought they solved their quarterback issues when they traded for Nick Foles from the Eagles. But unfortunately, he has not been what they thought he would be and has been benched in favor of Case Keenum. But let’s not be fooled here, Keenum is not the answer either. If this team had a solid quarterback to depend on, then they would be ready to take the next step. Until then, they will continue to be pretenders.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Consistent pass rush

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made some improvements this season. The offense has become more solid and the running game has gotten better. Defensively, they have had games where they have looked solid and others where they have been missing in action. One thing that would make them more solid is a consistent pass rush. If they are able to add that and maybe more cornerback help, then the progression of this team can continue.

Tennessee Titans- Offensive line help

The Titans drafted quarterback Marcus Mariota with their first round pick this season and he made some headway as a starter. But he also was taking a lot of hits this season behind a makeshift offensive line. In order to protect their investment, the Titans need to invest in the offensive line and that starts in the offseason and in the draft. Once they do that, then maybe the offense will get better.

Washington Redskins- Defensive pressure

The Redskins have been surprisingly good this season. Many did not expect this, including me. But they are in control of their own destiny. If they continue to win, then they will be in the playoffs. But one thing they have overcome this season is consistent pressure up front. If they had that this season, they would be better. But going forward, that would be an investment worth making for them.

Merry Christmas to all and hopefully your NFL teams accept the gifts that await them. They sure could use them.

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The General’s NFL Proclamations-Week 16

(photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

(photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Week 16 is upon us and many teams have called it a season at this point. There are some that will be sitting players, trying to position themselves for draft position. And while some teams will still play their regulars, we all know they are trying to get that best draft position available. On the flip side, there are some other teams that are trying to clinch a playoff spot this weekend. And while some may lose, there will be some that land in the playoffs because of what another team does. The difference between who wins or loses could be one play of ever one player. Without further ado, here are the General Proclamations for Week 16 in the NFL.

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders

  1. The Oakland Raiders took a loss last week, but they stuck around with the Green Bay Packers. Thanks to quarterback Derek Carr, they will be in this game from the jump as well. Expect Carr to have at least 300 yards passing and at least two touchdowns.
  2. The Chargers got an emotional win last week in what some expect to be their last game in San Diego. Look for them to have an emotional letdown this week, as they score 17 points or under versus the Raiders defense.
  3. There will be a fight in the stands between Raiders fans and Chargers fans. Both are repping California and if these fans get rowdy like Raiders fans do when they see 49ers fans, then this may not be a pleasant experience for those that are not involved.

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

  1. The Redskins have been getting consistent offensive play as of late from quarterback Kirk Cousins. Well, look for him to take a make some shots in this one as well. Expect him to have at least 250 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
  2. The Eagles have been inconstant all season. And in this game, they have a chance to strike back against the Redskins. Unfortunately for them, they will be mentally exhausted coming into this one and it will cost them.
  3. The Redskins will have at least three sacks in this one. It seems like they have not had any consistent pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. That must change for Washington as I have an idea.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

  1. The Steelers showed the Broncos Lethal Weapon 3 with their wide receiver corps. In this one, the Ravens better put on their track shoes. Big Ben will throw for over 315 yards two touchdowns.
  2. The Ravens are depleted offensively and that is not good going up against the Steelers. Look for the Ravens’ offense to have at least two turnovers against Pittsburgh.
  3. The Ravens will score less than 14 points in this game. There is simply nothing there that scares the Pittsburgh defense.

Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills

  1. The Bills and Cowboys are essentially done when it comes to the playoffs. So all bets are off as to what will happen. But one thing we can look forward to seeing is Dallas quarterback Kellen Moore throwing at least two interceptions.
  2. The Bills offense has been in good hands this season under quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In this one, look for him to throw for over 200 yards and run for a little under 100 yards.
  3. The Bills and Cowboys will combine to score around 40 points.

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  1. The Bucs were looking solid until last week’s game versus the Rams. In this one, look for them to get back to having some success and that will start with the running game. Doug Martin will run for 150 yards and one touchdown in this game.
  2. The Bears have had success this season when throwing the football in the direction of wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. In this one, look for the Bears to throw his way early and often to the tune of 7 receptions for at least 115 yards and one touchdown.
  3. The winner of this game will win by at least 15 points. Both of these teams have not shown consistency when coming from behind.

San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions

  1. The Lions have been playing a lot harder since they made their changes organizationally and coaching-wise. And in this one, look for their defense to have a good game to the tune of at least one interception and holding the 49ers to under 250 yards of offense.
  2. Linebacker NaVarro Bowman has been very good for the 49ers this year. Expect that to continue in this one, as he will have double-digit tackles in this one, including a tackle for loss.
  3. The Lions will be out to at least a 14 point lead at the end of the first half. The Niners have shown a propensity for getting down big at halftime recently and there is no indication that trend will be changing anytime soon.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

  1. Roddy White had something to say about Panthers cornerback Josh Norman this week. The veteran wide receiver spoke on Norman and it was not glowingly at all. Well, Norman paid attention and responded, but let’s not look for White to respond on the field. Roddy will not have three receptions and he will not have over 30 yards at all.
  2. The Panthers have been making it happen all year long in different fashions. But in this one, look for the Panthers’ defense to come out strong in this one. They will not allow the Falcons to score over 14 points.
  3. The Panthers have got a career year out of wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. In this one, look for him to have another two touchdown catches and go for over 100 yards receiving again. He and Cam Newton have been special through the air this year.

Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins

  1. The Colts’ season is on the brink, as they have fallen out of first place in their division and there is no guarantee they will recapture it from the Texans. In this one, expect them to play desperate, especially offensively. Look for them to put up at least 25 points on offense this week.
  2. The Dolphins looked sad last week versus the Chargers. One of their major things that has hurt them is not giving the football to running back Lamar Miler. In this game, look for him to get at least 20 carries to get a good lather going.
  3. The Dolphins have been horrible in stopping the run this season. Look for that to continue as veteran running back Frank Gore goes for at least 100 yards rushing against the Miami defense.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

  1. The Patriots have been making it happen despite losing pieces week after week. Look for Brady to make it happen again this week with the running game. Brandon Bolden will get at least 100 yards rushing against the Jets.
  2. The Jets have been efficient offensively this season and that comes directly from the quarterback play of Ryan Fitzpatrick. In this one, look for him to have a good game to the tune of 250 yards passing and 2 touchdown passes.
  3. Expect this game to go down to the wire between these two, as the Jets have gotten better since their last meeting.

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

  1. Marcus Mariota will not be playing in this game. With him out, Zach Mettenberger will get the start. And like usual, he will be a statue back there for the Texans to topple. Expect them to get at least five sacks of Mettenberger in this game.
  2. The Titans may have had issues offensively this year, but they have not been bad defensively. Look for them to get at least four sacks of their own against Houston and quarterback Brandon Weeden.
  3. This game has the potential to be ugly. And by ugly, I mean a low-scoring bore of a game. Get other activities ready during this one. It could be more boring than watching grass grow.

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

  1. The Browns have been letting Johnny Manziel start at quarterback. The premise is they have to see what they have. And against the Chiefs, they will see what they don’t have. Manziel will throw at least two interceptions and will fumble the football once.
  2. Kansas City has been rolling, but this one will be a little tougher for one reason or another. Look for them to have struggle to reach 20 points in this game.
  3. The Chiefs will go back to being the Chiefs in this one. They will not have a touchdown scored by a wide receiver in this game.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints

  1. The Jaguars lost a close one to the Falcons last week. But in this one, expect them to play a little better offensively. The tandem of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns at wide receiver along with quarterback Blake Bortles will have the Saints putting up at least 30 points in this game.
  2. The Saints offense may have some issues this week with Brees reportedly having a foot injury. Look for the running game to be given more chances. But even with that, the Saints will not rush for more than 150 yards.
  3. The Saints will get booed this week at home. This game has the potential to get ugly for them and it just might do so by halftime.

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

  1. The Packers have been sporadic for the most part this last few games. Expect them to be inconsistent again this week, as the Cardinals’ defensive line will be hard for the Packers’ offense to handle.4
  2. The Cardinals’ offense has been dynamic this season with the multitude of weapons they have. Look for their newest weapon, running back David Johnson, to take center stage yet again. Twenty touches for 150 total yards and one touchdown is not out of the question for him in this one.
  3. The Cardinals will be missing safety Tyrann Mathieu. And although the Cardinals’ secondary is still tough without him, they will get hit up by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a big play.

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

  1. The Seattle Seahawks played the Rams in the first game of the season and they were beaten in overtime. The Seahawks have gotten things back on track as a team but they can still be susceptible to the running game. Look for Todd Gurley to get at least 100 yards rushing and one touchdown.
  2. Russell Wilson has been on fire, throwing touchdowns right and left. In this one, look for him to throw at least four touchdowns while not throwing an interception.
  3. The Seahawks defense will show a little glimpse of the past in this game, but that flicker will go away pretty quickly. Look for the Seahawks to give up at least 20 points in this one.

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

  1. The Vikings have been an interesting team this year. They have played good against the bad teams and been inconsistent against the good teams. Look for them to play well against New York, putting up at least 30 points against the New York secondary.
  2. The Giants will be without star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. following his suspension for an incident last week. With him gone, look for the Giants to find their one mismatch they have on the field, tight end Will Tye. The young tight end has shown his ability to make plays and catches and will do so in this game to the tune of 5 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
  3. The Vikings and Giants will both have at least two turnovers in this game. More than likely it will be chilly in this one. And the cold weather tends to produce a slippery football.

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos

  1. The Broncos played well in the first half week and disappeared in the second half. The Bengals were paying attention and will bring pressure all game, trying to confuse Brock Osweiler. And in this one, they will also confuse the Denver offensive line to the tune of 4 sacks.
  2. The Bengals stalled a little out of the blocks but recovered enough to win against the hapless San Francisco 49ers. But in this one, if they stumble, this one will not end well. The Broncos’ defense is for real and will be holding this offense to 16 points or less.
  3. The winner of this game will not score more than two touchdowns. Both defenses are tough and will give each offense fits all game long.

This completes the General’s Proclamations for Week 16 in the NFL. It should be a fun week to watch some NFL action.

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Sorry Klay. Jimmy Butler Is The Best Shooting Guard In The NBA

(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Klay Thompson is living the life right now. He is part of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, has a max contract and the team is off to a 26-1 start. The way it seems right now, Thompson and the Warriors could possibly break the record for wins in a season, eclipsing the 72 wins the Chicago Bulls put up in the 1995-1996 season. After a slow start to the season, Klay is playing well and showing off that shooting stroke that has made him dangerous. His play combined with the Steph Curry makes them the most dangerous backcourt in the NBA. At a recent launch for his new basketball shoe, the KT1, Thompson was asked to name the best player at each position right now in the NBA. When it came to shooting guard, Thompson said he would name himself as the best shooting guard in the game. Thompson is supremely talented and can take over a game with his excellent offensive ability at any time. But in overall play, there has to be some question whether he is the best shooting guard in the game right now. Klay was exhibiting confidence when he said his answer and that can be commended. Who else would he name but himself? But unfortunately for him, his answer was incorrect. He is not the best shooting guard in the NBA right now. The guy that has that title resides in Chicago and his name is Jimmy Butler.

When Butler was drafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, no one can say with a straight face that they saw him becoming what he is now. Year after year, Butler got better and better until he had his breakout year last season, averaging 20 points per game. Jimmy parlayed that breakout season into a brand new 5 year max contract with the Bulls this past offseason and he is continuing to get better still after getting the money. He is averaging 21.5 points per game and seemingly has taken over as the leader of the Bulls team. He obviously is not the shooter that Thompson is from the field, but he is scoring more than Thompson is so far this season (Thompson is averaging 19.3 points per game this season). Thompson is playing alongside the best player in the NBA right now, so his shots are decidedly easier than the ones that Butler gets. Butler is the focal point of the Chicago offense and he still gets his points. And in the fourth quarters of games, the offense runs through him. That is a far cry from what it used to be in Chicago with Derrick Rose on the team. The Warriors are one of the top scoring teams in the NBA , so the pressure is not as tough on him to produce every single game. But the Bulls are one of the worse scoring teams in the NBA this season. They need Jimmy to show up each and every game. Of course the Bulls don’t have the record the Warriors do (Bulls are 15-11 right now), but Jimmy has been the main reason they are even in the running for making the playoffs. If he does not give them 21.5 points per game, then they would be in the running for the worst record in the NBA. If you take Klay off his team, the Warriors are still a very solid team.

The offensive end of the floor is only one side of the game. Thompson has become a better player on the defensive end over his time in the NBA. He can defend his position and was sometimes used to take on the best perimeter player on the opposing team. But even with his improvements defensively, he still does not have the versatility that Jimmy Butler has. Butler came into the NBA under head coach Tom Thibodeau, who preached defense. So naturally, Butler dug in on the defensive end and became a very good defender. Butler grew on that end while he was growing offensively and many now recognize him as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He is one of the rare players that can get it done offensively as the focal point and can guard the best perimeter defender on the opposing team. And it does not matter what position they play for him to guard them either. Butler is so versatile that he can guard point guards, shooting guards and even small forwards. He is one of the few shooting guards that can even match up with LeBron James. Thompson tried his hand at guarding him in the NBA Finals last season and got into foul trouble really quickly. But Butler at least can match him physically and can also make LeBron have to work harder to get his points. He is the superior defender to Thompson and it’s not even that close.

Thompson is confident in himself, but the reality is that he is not the best shooting guard in the NBA. When it comes to the total package, Jimmy Butler is a guy that you could put on any team and he would make a significant impact on both ends of the court. When it comes to Klay, he does benefit from playing with a great player in Steph Curry and a versatile defender in Draymond Green. No slight to Klay, but Butler is the best shooting guard in the NBA.

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The Celebration Bowl Makes History

(photo courtesy of Hyosub Shin/AP)

(photo courtesy of Hyosub Shin/AP)

Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have been around for a long time. Back before the days of television, they used to get as many star football players as did big colleges and universities. But over the years, the landscape of college football has changed. Bigtime college football has taken over and many elite athletes go there to play their college football because of the money involved and the television exposure. As far as HBCUs, there are many that are now struggling to even keep their doors open along with not getting the elite players they used to in the past. But even with that, HBCUs are still loved by many. And this past weekend, the inaugural Celebration Bowl kicked off. The bowl game is set up to match the two top teams in the HBCU polls for a chance at the Black College National Championship. The game, which matched the Alcorn State Braves of the Southwestern Athletic Conference against the North Carolina A&T Aggies of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, was a great one that went down to the wire. In the end, the Aggies were able to hold off the Braves 41-34 and win the Celebration Bowl and the Black College Football national title. But the Celebration Bowl was not just a bowl game but history.

Both Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T are Football Championship Series (formerly 1-AA football) teams. Those teams usually have to win their conferences to play in the playoffs and have a chance at the FCS title. But the SWAC, which is the conference that Alcorn State won this year, does not have an automatic bid in the FCS. So this essentially was their title game right here. And for North Carolina A&T, their conference, the MEAC, decided that they were going to relinquish their FCS playoff appearance for this game, which was huge. Over time, there have been games that have pitted the SWAC vs the MEAC, starting with the Pelican Bowl in 1972, 1974 and 1975. The matchup was revived in 1991 and ran until 1999, but then it went away. With it now returning and with the power of ESPN behind it, the groundwork is there for a successful product to display to the world. And with a successful product on the field, that now puts HBCUs in rarified air. The MEAC and the SWAC are the only conferences at the FCS level that have an organized bowl game.

But the organization of the game is just a piece of the puzzle here. With this game and the affiliation with ESPN, there is now a hope for finances to be pumped into the SWAC and MEAC conferences. The additional funds can help the football programs of these schools with better facilities. But it can also help the actual schools general. There have been some HBCUs struggle financially over the years due to a myriad of different issues. With this bowl game, hopefully the commissioners over these conferences could spread this money amongst its members so they can take care of their students even better than they are able to now. Or it could maybe help students who need the financial help to go to school. The sponsorship from the Air Force Reserves should definitely give them a good chunk of money to spread among the conferences. And over time, the money involved should increase.

The Black College National Title was thrilling and came down to the last minute. And what was just as exciting as the game was the history that was made. The Celebration Bowl has the makings of a great things not only for the teams involved, but for the conferences and the fans. The main thing that can provide sustained success is the support of the fans and if that happens, then the Black College National Title game will continue to get bigger and bigger.

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