It Appears That Jimmy Butler Has Coaxed The Competitiveness Out Of Karl-Anthony Towns, As He Won His Race To The Bench After Air-Balling A Three
You know, Karl-Anthony Towns might have the apathetic look of a player who couldn't possibly care less about putting a hitch in his giddy-up so as to not be years late for the meeting between his effort and his potential, but he sure does know how to support a teammate! Not sure "KAT has far more skill than he does guts" is the point he should want to help prove, but I'd bet you that Jimmy Butler is wholeheartedly appreciative of having his full-blown emasculation of a franchise justified by a shameless surrender from its most talented player.
To be fair, things can't currently be all that copacetic in the Timberwolves' locker room. Jimmy Butler did everything short of punching a couple teammates in the teeth when he challenged them to step their game up by strongly suggesting that they are both softer and easier to rip into than the toilet paper on the team plane. While hilarious, I'm not sure that's the best way to form a cohesive culture that inspires effort and makes better a team he's actively trying to leave.
That said, there's two ways to respond to getting pushed around, and I think we can all agree that air-balling a three-pointer then sulking off the floor after asking your way out of a close game in the late stages of the 3rd quarter is an example of the one you desperately don't want your franchise cornerstone to choose. Karl-Anthony Towns is definitely in a bad situation, but - as the T'Wolves announcer was all-too-quick to note - he's making it far, far worse by playing with the small nibble of a bite that made Jimmy Butler bark in the first place.
Sheldon Rankins Just About Summed Up How The Entirety Of The Who Dat Nation Should View Sunday's Game Against The Vikings
As much as we all wish it were, the Saints traveling to Minnesota to face a Vikings' team that is one year removed from starting their season in miserable fashion and ending it in...for lack of a better term...miraculous fashion is not just another game. It might count for as much in the standings, but so do rivalry games against Atlanta, and no coach, player, or fan could tell you with a straight face that there's not a little more piss and vinegar in the air when it's shared with the Falcons.
While I do appreciate the "our only opponent is ourselves" approach, credit to Sheldon Rankins for putting it rather perfectly. A win on the very same field they stumbled off of in shock a little more than nine months ago would feel just a little bit bigger and a little bit better, if only because - right or wrong - it would make an early end to a promising postseason feel a little less bitter. Not a lot less bitter, as the they won't even be facing the same quarterback that destroyed their hopes and dreams on a wing and prayer, but a little less bitter. There's no shame in admitting as much about a game set to be played in front of fans who have had way too much fun at their expense, given the destiny-defying ass whooping they endured a week later.
Maybe I've been desensitized by years spent watching bad defenses blow sure victories in epically incompetent fashion, but I'm not even the type of person that can't stand the sight of Stefon Diggs taking a solo stroll into the end zone as the clock struck zero. It was just a few short days after taking the gut punch seen round the sports' world that I was able to take a deep breath and focus on the positives of a season that somehow went from a fiasco to a sign of a bright future.
That being said, even I want Marcus Williams to redemptively return a game-sealing pick-six before tossing aside his helmet with a vengeance while Sean Payton does the SKOL gesture until his shoulder goes sore this upcoming Sunday. Nothing can ever cure the sickness caused by the 'Minneapolis Miracle', but for any New Orleans Saint that was on that field last January to say that giving the Vikings a taste of their own medicine wouldn't ever-so-slightly ease that pain is as much of a lie as any game being over before it's actually over. After all, revenge - even in regular season form - is the sweetest joy next to getting...well...you can pick up what I'm putting down.
In summation, the CliffNotes version:
"We know what the standard is," says Kamara before pausing for a few seconds. "So, yeah, fuck Minnesota".
Blake Bortles Did Pretty Much The Only Thing He Can Do At This Point And Accepted His Role As The Jaguars' "Scapegoat"
NFL- He may be an All-Pro when it comes to blocking out the noise, but Blake Bortles is not tone-deaf. As the universally maligned quarterback -- for now, at least -- of a Jacksonville Jaguars team best known for a playmaking defense and a power running attack, Bortles knows his role is to keep taking hits, on and off the field, and he's not running away from his fate.
"I'm totally at peace with that," Bortles told NFL.com in an interview last week, four days before he was benched in the second half of a 20-7 home defeat to the Houston Texans, only to be reinstalled as the starter for Sunday's showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley Stadium in London. "I totally understand that I'm like the scapegoat for this team. When we play good, 'The defense played well, the running back did good, the receivers made great plays.' And when we play bad, 'Blake Bortles is the worst quarterback on the face of the planet.'
"And I get it. Obviously, that's not what I would have chosen for myself. And I'm sure it'll never stop. But I couldn't care less. I just want to win football games with this team."
While the use of the term 'scapegoat' is a bit misleading, as there is a pretty sizable difference between taking blame you don't deserve and having blame you've earned forcefully shoved in your face, I kind of respect what Blake Bortles did with those comments. Sometimes you just have to try to change the narrative, as hopeless as the attempt might be, and painting himself as a good teammate for embracing his role as a bad quarterback is quite the spin-zone.
To be clear, I have no idea how accepting the backlash that comes of being one of the worst quarterbacks makes him a better person, but I think I've been duped into believing it. All the sudden, I feel this weird urge to make note of a Jaguars defense that, like most defenses in this offensively uninhibited era, has grown much, much more inconsistent in their play this season. It's almost as if buying into the 'scapegoat' label, under what was probably both figuratively and literally the threat of violence, has made the act of pointing the finger at Jacksonville's biggest problem seem like overkill. Of course, the wide receivers he mentioned can't make plays without the ball being delivered within a 5 foot radius of them, but what fun is it to blame the person who is flat out asking to be blamed? As far as I'm concerned, the whole roster needs to get their shit together, because it's just not fair that Blake Bortles is tooootally the first inconsistent quarterback in NFL history to be seen as guilty in defeat and a dodged bullet in victory.
Sage Rosenfels Brought The Hammer Down On Haters By Reminding Everyone That Bad Professional Athletes Are Still Very Much Professional Athletes
And the self-proclaimed "hypocrisy watchdog" gets put down. I suppose it's sad anytime man's best friend takes an eternal nap, but the timing was probably right on this one. With his sole purpose being to sniff out two-faced bullshit, whimpering about someone's underwhelming football career in response to their list of personal, non-football related beliefs was an undeniable sign that a prompt retirement to a dirt nap was probably required.
I probably didn't even have to dig for context, because any back-and-forth this non-sensical could only be prompted by one thing, but neither politics nor the morals behind them are what I want to discuss here. Instead, I'd rather talk about the reality check that got signed over to us by Sage Rosenfels.
I'd have to bark incessantly at myself in the mirror if I criticized those that criticize quarterback play, but the occasional reminder that crappy professional athletes are still professional athletes is one of which we can benefit from time-to-time. Having to take a public pounding is unequivocally accounted for in the paycheck when you play games for a living. That's not to say that the occasional jab after those paychecks stop can't be in good fun, but it is to say that you leave yourself open for the easiest of gut punches when you throw it for no relevant reason whatsoever. Sage Rosenfels, as mediocre a member of an exclusive group of the best players at the most difficult position in sports as he was, made quite the life for himself in the NFL. Therefore, as easy a target as he seems for an anonymous internet troll he is not.
In short, "F-off" borders on being an 'A' of a response, and bringing up someone's time making millions of dollars playing a sport as a slight is not smart. If I were to offer some...wait for it...Sage advice, I'd say not to do it.
After Basically Bragging About His Embarrassing Flop, Joel Embiid Was Given A Warning As The NBA Rescinded Andre Drummond's Technical
I'm fairly certain the NBA was watching when Joel Embiid, a physical marvel of a human being, threw himself on the ground in response to what was basically the contact equivalent of a firm gust of wind. Even if league officials weren't initially tuned into a Tuesday night matchup between the Pistons/Sixers, I'm sure that they had been put on to the fact that the best game of their season thus far was coming close to reaching its conclusion by the time Andre Drummond had been undeservedly ejected for falling victim to an acting job that wouldn't fly in the introductory scene of a low budget porno. Therefore, I can't imagine it took them all that long to decide that a flop more shameless than the third Hangover movie was in need of further review.
However, if for some strange reason they had decided to continue ignoring the league epidemic that is embarrassing embellishment, surely this is the video that made them reconsider...
I like Joel Embiid and appreciate the overwhelming majority of his antics, but proudly pounding his chest and celebrating himself for making a mockery of the sport is one the NBA can most certainly do without. Therefore, the part of me that's accepted that professional basketball players have taken to borrowing the absolute worst traits of professional soccer players is a part of me that wishes this ruling was handed down to protect the NBA's pride as opposed to their product. Like a kid who face-planted while rounding third base for the first time and immediately started talking himself up to his friends like he's some sort of vagina whisperer, Joel Embiid needed to be put in his place by those that were hurt most by his unwarranted bravado. So I'm glad that the Association played the role of the unsatisfied girl in putting him on blast, for the only thing more annoying than transcendent athletes toppling like toddlers is senseless shit talk. Trust that any shit talk that comes after getting put on this poster is most certainly senseless.
Brian Boyle's Cancer Is Officially In Remission, Which Is Fantastic News That I Didn't Even Know I Needed
NHL- Brian Boyle said his cancer is in remission after receiving the results from his most recent blood test on Monday.
The 33-year old New Jersey Devils center, diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on Sept. 19, 2017, was originally told by doctors that it could take up to 18 months before the disease went into full remission; it took 12 months and 33 days.
"A test (BCR-ABL1) looks for the leukemia cells in your blood and when I was first diagnosed, it was at 75 percent," Boyle said Wednesday. "At the end of last season, it was at .08 percent, and in July I was .04 percent. The results showed all zeros on Monday. It's full molecular remission, and I feel really good. It was kind of the way the progression was happening the last few tests. When I told my wife, she was excited and got emotional.
"The game plan has been working well, and now I'm just going to continue with it. It was good news, but it doesn't change a whole lot for me and I'll continue taking the medicine."
You're going to have to excuse my ignorance here, but I had absolutely no idea I was still waiting to hear that Brian Boyle's cancer was in remission. I probably should have known, as his form of the dreadful disease was rare in that it could be contained in a way that allowed him to play through it, but I'm pretty sure the medically uneducated moron in me just assumed that the cancer eventually took off running when he got back to skating. That's on me (and a credit to him), obviously, though I do think that even the most relentless of conditions probably should have been able to take the hint that it picked the wrong damn dude when he had already potted 10 goals against professional athletes just three months after receiving his diagnosis. In my personal opinion, cancer wasted a hell of a lot of time sitting around doing absolute dick if only now has it realized it was time to pack up its shit and got to steppin' from the blood cells of Brian Boyle.
In all seriousness, this is fantastic news for a guy whose been as good of a story off the ice as he has been an addition on the ice over the last year and change. You wouldn't know from his performance as a player or his persistence as a person, but I'm sure there was still quite a bit of anxiety lingering prior to him getting the conclusive report that he's cancer-free. It's no surprise that he basically busted the original timeline over his knee in kicking the crap out of every last percentage point, as it certainly seemed like he never wasted a second in working his way back into his routine. Much like the rest of the hockey community, I'm glad to see that determination paid off in giving him and his family some premature peace of mind.
Despite No Longer Playing Against Children, Zion Williamson Still Looks Like He's Playing Against Children
I suppose the visual of Zion Williamson soaring through the air and committing acts of terror against either the basket or opponents that play far under it should no longer be surprising. After all, we're talking about a kid who became a household name in high school by looking as though he was playing on a household hoop against competition that was more likely to be mistaken as his children than presumed to be his peers. Him treating other teenagers like parking cones while abusing a rim of regulation height like it was manufactured by Fisher Price is nothing new...
That said, him making college competition look almost as overmatched as the kids who got put through puberty by his posterizations kinda, sorta is new. I know Virginia Union isn't exactly competing with John Calipari for quality recruits, but they are still a team of "adult" student-athletes that looked like they were attending a Zion Williamson Youth Basketball Camp in having their attempts to get buckets off him fall closer to breaking their face.
Whatever company the NCAA employs to provide them with baskets needs to insert that clip in their next commercial because one can only assume that glass is hurricane-proof with how well it withstood that meteoric spike, but that's not even the point. The point is that I'm starting to think it's legitimately a safety hazard for the 18 year old in the body of a brick shit house with wings to put his athletic ability on display at any level less than professional. Someone, or something, is going to get hurt, as he appears to be a less drunk but equally reckless version of Will Smith in Hancock in not knowing his own superhuman strength.
Chad Kelly, Who Has Been Cut, Reportedly Got Kicked Out Of The Broncos' Halloween Party Prior To Being Arrested For Criminal Trespassing
You know, in retrospect, I think it's fair to say this was only a matter of time. I don't mean that it was inevitable that Chad Kelly would get booted for being too belligerent for what looked like a pretty wild Halloween party by his own Broncos' teammates, break into a random house, casually plop his ass down next to a confused family, and get beaten into police custody with the aluminum hose of a Hoover. I do, however, mean that you can only expect someone nicknamed 'Swag Kelly' to remain hushed in the shadows but for so long.
"What's in a name?" is a question that has been asked countless times throughout history. Well, when that name is derived from the party scene of the hip hop community and given to the someone who is supposed to play the silent understudy for the most straight-laced position in sports, what's in that name is quite a bit of foreshadowing.
Obviously someone that drank/drugged himself into an unbabysittable stupor at the most forgiving of work functions probably didn't have the temperament or tolerance to become a starting quarterback in the NFL. However, he definitely didn't have what it takes to be backup quarterback in the NFL, which is the ability to shut the hell up, not cause a scene, and be far better in theory than execution. When you look at it that way, it's basically a minor miracle he made it this long cashing checks for holding a clipboard without letting his rampant urge for recklessness put his job in jeopardy.
Huh, so as it turns out, a wave of six scoreless games to start a season might not be all it takes to wash up the proud owner of one of the most complete careers in hockey history. Who knew?!?
Lost in all the 'Auston Matthews: Does playing in Toronto automatically make him better player, person, philanthropist, and future parent than Connor McDavid?' hysteria was the fact that they both have a hell of a long way to go before putting together the type of extensive highlight reel that has made talking about Sidney Crosby's continued greatness, well, pretty damn boring to be honest. Not having a tally in the goal column prior to last night made it easier to make him an afterthought in the best player in the league debate, but - other than #97 being the fastest kid alive - what's hurt his case the most is that we've simply grown tired of talking about how good he is. As an old dog, it's not like he's got any new tricks. That, of course, is because he's long known literally all of them, but that also means we've long discussed his prevalence in performing them. If only due to desensitization, I've just been made pretty numb to most of Sidney Crosby's superhuman skill set, and that includes the ability to create space for himself with a hairpin turn in the corner before proceeding to put an opponent on a leash and taking him for a walk to the ass end of social media circulation.
Now, the narrative that this particular dissection of a defense came right in front of the eyeballs of those that have been most diligent, and rightfully so, in pumping the tires of Connor McDavid is one that I can absolutely get behind. 'The Kid' holding a one-man dance party for grown folks at the expense of the Edmonton Oilers does add a cool little wrinkle to him doing something we've seen him pull off countless times in lifting the Penguins to victory on his backhand. I don't know that Connor McDavid himself needed a first-hand reminder of whose resume he's chasing, but a quick humbling for those in attendance couldn't hurt...
Blake Griffin Picked A Hell Of A Time To Put On The Performance Of His Life In Willing The Pistons Past The Sixers With His First Career 50 Spot
Timing. Sometimes it's just too perfect. Almost as if sports have a way of setting an alarm on the internal clock of athletes. To be clear, I hardly think that Blake Griffin hit the hardwood with a vengeance looking to provide visual evidence in support of Rajon Rondo's claim that Chris Paul is a bad/selfish teammate, as all he really did was turn up the heat on his scorching hot start to a temperature in which every basketball fan was forced to start sweating him again. However, if he were actively trying to put on a show that, once and for all, proved he was underutilized in Los Angeles then I'm pretty sure putting the pin in his first career 50 point effort with a clutch, game-winning And 1 off the dribble would have been written into his script.
There's multiple reasons that we've rarely seen Blake Griffin flash the full range of his abilities. For one, his range has been a work in progress for a couple years now. That progress, of course, has been halted time-and-time again by a laundry list of health problems that, assuming it wasn't Chris Paul's injury bug that got loose and kept biting him, can't be blamed on anything but a human body that wasn't built to withstand inhumane athleticism. Plus, not for nothing, but when you Hulk Smash your own fist to smithereens on your own trainer's face you kind of lose the ability to argue that outside forces are holding you back from reaching your potential.
That being said, the one cloud that always hung over Blake Griffin and was ultimately part of the perfect storm that rained on his coming out party (the 2015 playoffs) as an unstoppably versatile superstar was that he was only ever trusted to run the Clippers' offense when their ball-deflating point guard was in street clothes. Being unable to maximize two top-notch talents falls on Doc Rivers as well, but it was impossible to watch Blake Griffin take command of every aspect of the Pistons' offense last night and not wonder what could have been if Chris Paul ever actively deferred as much as he's been forced to in Houston.
If he stays healthy, and that is a massive "if", the argument can easily be made that the Clippers actually raised Blake Griffin's jersey to the rafters (albeit as part of an over-the-top pitch to keep him...for the next 6 months) before he even reached his peak as a playmaker. At 29 years old, stints on the IR weren't the only obstacles that stalled that climb. They just made what was a bad situation for his personal growth as a player worse, if you catch my drift.
Rajon Rondo Let The World Know That CP3 Isn't A Good Teammate. Wait, Did The World Not Already Know That?
I'm not going to get into the #SpitGate aspect of this. It's impossible to know whether Rajon Rondo was just trying to be slick with his saliva or if he just truly picked the worst possible time for droll to unintentionally shoot from his mouth in the direction of one of his many nemeses. I don't have to think Chris Paul is a great person to think he has every right to mush the hell out of a fellow shit-stirrer after wiping another man's bodily fluids from his face. Therefore, more than half of that quote is moot, as neither pain in the ass point guard involved in that alteration can/should be taken at their word.
What is worth discussing, however, is Rajon Rondo acting as though he uncovered some huge secret by announcing to the world that CP3 is a bit of a prick. Like, are we sure he wasn't talking about Cliff Paul when he said that everyone wants to believe he's a good guy? I don't know what fans he's been interacting with, but apparently it's none of the people that scoffed at the idea of Chris Paul and James Harden co-existing as teammates without killing each other.
I can't imagine that anyone is under the illusion that what we witnessed was some battle of Good Vs. Evil, never mind everyone. In fact, at least in my eyes, the beauty of the fight was that both participants were enigmatic assholes that didn't realize they were basically punching at their miserable souls' counterparts in one another. Rajon Rondo might be more aggressively unlikable, but - though his counter-puncher hides it slightly better - basketball fans are well aware of whose "demanding" personality slowly picked apart a talented Clippers' locker room that devolved into an outright disaster before it actually accomplished anything.
Literally everyone that has watched CP3 scream and yell at his own teammates while flip, flop, and floundering his way to the free throw line knows he's capable of inciting something out of absolutely nothing. He just gets more leeway in doing so because he's a superstar caliber talent. Unfortunately, the person who got a three game suspension instead of a two game suspension because his saliva caused some skepticism prior to him throwing the first punch can't say the same.
Derek Carr "Crying" After Taking A Sack Against Seattle Has Reportedly Worsened An Existing Divide In The Raiders' Locker Room
PFT- Marcus Thompson II of TheAthletic.com reports that Carr currently has a “fractured relationship” with his teammates. The reportedly fractured relationship between Carr and his teammates is rooted in a loss of confidence in the quarterback, as exacerbated by game film from the London contest against the Seahawks that “showed what looked like him crying after being sacked and injuring his arm.”
“They saw his face,” Thompson writes. “They heard his whimper. They witnessed him explain on the sidelines. They assuredly watched it again in film session. It’s hard to see how Carr can lead this team again.”
It was indeed curious, to say the least, to see video of what appeared to be Carr crying in the melting-face way that a kid would cry after falling off his bike. If Thompson’s report is accurate, Carr’s teammates regard it as something worse than curious.
Crying? Moisture allegedly welling at the eyes of a guy who was as broken as his team's spirit after taking another sack for a 1-5 team whose head coach punted on the season before it even started? That's what's causing a divide in Oakland's locker room? Tears? Waterworks? A biological reaction to getting battered and beaten by freakishly strong athletes that are twice his size? That's where the Raiders draw the line on acceptable behavior from a starting quarterback? They can get past the refusal to throw the ball downfield, the 43.5 QBR, and a stat line that boasts more turnovers than touchdowns, but you simply can't come back from having the sniffles?
Now, I'm certain that the truth, as it tends to do, lies somewhere in the middle of Derek Carr audibly pouting and Derek Carr firmly demanding a helping hand in pulling himself up off the turf...
I just have a hard time understanding how that truth, whatever it may be, is seen as a notable reason not to believe in Derek Carr's ability to lead the Raiders when there are so many legitimate, football-related reasons to give up hope. We're taking about a team that is imploding by design in an attempt of putting together a brighter future in a different city that most of them won't even be a part of. Who gives a damn if their QB1, who has played through a laundry list of injuries throughout his career, is whimpering when the man that's actively made his job even more difficult is the same one that's done a majority of the bitching and moaning about the pass rush that he, himself, pulverized?
Me thinks the quarterback doth protest too much in his own defense, and I get that there's no crying in a physical sport where maintaining a certain level of intimidation is key to success. However, there's also not supposed to be tanking in a physical sport where players with insanely short careers are potentially putting their long-term health on the line with each snap. Alas, your 2018 Oakland Raiders.
The Saints Have Added Another Buckeye To Their Secondary In Trading For Troubled Giants' Cornerback Eli Apple
And with that, the pipe dream that was Patrick Peterson returning to Louisiana to make a parade down Poydras Street even more of a possibility has died. It was both short-lived, and - considering the presumed price - never really all that close to fruition, but bringing Eli Apple to a team that's chocked full of his former peers should put a period on the Saints' deadline deals.
To be honest, a 4th rounder+ seems like a slight overpayment for a player who never really lived up to his 1st round draft status while also being accused of bringing both Mommy issues and immaturity to a locker room that became a cess pool of stupidity under the "supervision" of Ben McAdoo. When you consider that his surroundings were that of a tire fire while playing for the type of dysfunctional team that (even with the coaching change) can sabotage careers, it doesn't become too hard to see Eli Apple - more so than most - benefiting from what's basically a polar opposite change of both scenery and organizational culture. However, if you're judging him off the headlines he's made and the game tape he put out, specifically last season, then you'd have to consider it a risk. In my opinion it's a reasonable risk, as a secondary with a heavy Ohio State influence is more likely to get him to cut the bullshit and tap into his potential than one that grew to hate his guts, but a risk nonetheless.
That said, it shouldn't be discounted that the Saints are an organization whose scouting department should be tested for steroids given the muscles it somewhat magically started flexing upon the addition of Jeff Ireland. Having already been without a 1st (Marcus Davenport) and 3rd (Teddy Bridgewater) round pick in this upcoming draft, they didn't just give away a 4th and change on a wing and prayer. Add to that the fact that they had no shortage of reliable in-house references to help give them a read on who Eli Apple is as a player and/or person, and there's plenty of reason to believe this was a highly calculated decision as opposed to a blind roll of the dice in reinforcing their defensive backfield.
Now, it's of course impossible to know whether a temperamental first round disappointment is going to find his game and transform into a capable starting cornerback for a contender. Still, at the very least, this particular one gives the Saints another young, cheap, and skilled option opposite Marshon Lattimore as Ken Crawley decides whether he's the player we saw last year or the player we've seen to start this year. A little insurance never hurt anybody, and - though the extent of its coverage may currently be of question - Eli Apple provides just that to a group of cornerbacks with multiple expiring contracts.
Having an open Super Bowl window may have forced their hand a bit, but if Sean Payton and Co. are optimistic that all a once promising prospect needs to turn around his career is to get hell out of a self-cannibalistic sports city like New York and get a little southern comfort then who am I to disagree?
With The Suspensions Given To Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo, And Chris Paul, The NBA Proved That It Didn't Hate That Fight As Much As One Might Think
If you're expecting me to be critical of Adam Silver then you, my friend, have come to the wrong place. As far as I'm concerned, you can consider those lights slaps on the wrist to be additions to the long list of things I think he's done right during his tenure as NBA commissioner. Granted, they weren't decided upon by him (that honor goes to Kiki VanDeWeghe) as much as they were signed off on by him, but the truth of the matter is that the following suspensions are much like the scolding a parent gives a young child through suppressed laughter when they won't stop parroting their curse words. To put it simply, these were halfheartedly handed down to save face more so than they were heavily-handed down to deter similar behavior in the future...
- Four games for causing a completely unnecessary scene that quickly got out of hand, and returning to said scene to throw a Superman sucker punch.
- Three games for spitting on an opponent and lying about it after using a well-deserved finger to the face as a justification to hook off on someone with which he harbors long-standing hatred.
- Two games for trying to mush an opponent out of LA County and responding to the ensuing fisticuffs in kind.
I don't know what the punishment should have been if it's goal was to prove, once and for all, that on-court violence will not be tolerated by the Association, but a week long (give or take a couple days) absence from the lineup in mid-to-late-October certainly isn't going to do it. Early season circumstances allowed for the NBA to come down hard on Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo, and Chris Paul without having too much of an impact on the outcome of meaningful games, and yet they still basically said "ah, screw it". If that's not a significant sign that the NBA is self-aware of the shamelessly entertaining soap opera they've become then I don't know what is, because these acts of discipline defy precedent.
As someone who was once sat down for 15 games for throwing a similarly sneaky punch, Carmelo Anthony is right to be "shocked" by the shortness of the suspensions. I'm just not so sure we should be, as most basketball fans would inject the feeling that fight gave them directly into their veins if given the opportunity, and Adam Silver - more so than his predecessor - knows what basketball fans fiend for.
Going For Two While Down 8 Isn't Nearly As Stupid As Thinking That The Giants' Offense Can't Defy Basic Probability
I'll admit it. As the ball bounced off the forever-puffed out chest of Odell Beckham Jr. and rolled harmlessly to the turf, I - like a vast majority of the those watching confused from their couch - laughed at the idea of the New York Giants ignoring what's been common sense in football circles since the inflation of the first pigskin. When you take into account that they've spent the first seven weeks making an almost unimaginably bulletproof case that a buffoon like Ben McAdoo was totally blameless last season (relax, he obviously wasn't), I didn't think it was out of the realm of possibility that Pat Shurmur simply misread the scoreboard when he called for a two-point conversion while down 8. Given their inability to win any games as of late, I didn't for one second consider that they, of all teams, actively decided to play the numbers game in using an advancement in analytics to manage their decision-making. I suppose that's on me, although - as anyone who has watched the Giants play this year (which is everyone, since the NFL refuses to take years of hard evidence into account and admit they are unwatchable when scheduling primetime games) can attest - their offense only seems formulaic if the solution you're looking for is a nap.
As it turns out, what they did wasn't as mathematically moronic as it seems. Unfortunately, refusing to factor in something else that has hopefully also been discussed internally, the players responsible for multiple seasons of catastrophic offensive ineptitude, into the equation absolutely was. You can talk percentages all you want, but if Eli Manning and Co. can manage to defy the presence of multiple transcendent talents then what makes anyone, most notably their head coach, believe that they aren't capable of defying a little arithmetic?
All men (and women) are created equally, but the Giants corpse of a quarterback and their offensively offensive line serve as proof that all athletes are most certainly not. So, while I'm not some analytics truther that is blind to the importance of probabilities in professional sports, I also didn't need to do much homework to learn a stat as simple as some teams suck more at scoring than others...
We are talking about a team that, while having zero timeouts remaining the last minute of a game in which they needed two scores, called for the QB sneak - which is probably the most high percentage play in the sport when run by someone who doesn't have the mobility of molasses - and failed...twice. So, I must ask of the analytics community, is this really your King?
The New York Giants' decision making is a lot of things right now, but defensible ain't one of them. I can promise you that the math dorks will eventually have their day, but trusting the New York Giants to keep safe your statistical evidence is like asking a homeless person to hold your beer. Simply put, it's not doing anything to hurt the stereotype that the smartest people lack a little in common sense.
According To A Source Close Enough To Patrick Peterson To Name Patrick Peterson As A Source, Patrick Peterson Would Like To Be Traded To The Saints
What the New Orleans Saints should be is flattered. It's not everyday that one of the most talented cornerbacks in the entire league, albeit one who may be slightly overhyped in some circles, starts making eyes at your organization and goes through his cousin to publicly flirt with the idea of becoming the perfect complimentary piece in a secondary that, while improving, still has some question marks.
What the New Orleans Saints shouldn't be is surprised. The Cardinals aren't exactly offering Patrick Peterson what he wants at this point in his career, which is obviously a chance to contribute to something a little more intriguing than a full-scale rebuild. He should want out, and - as a former LSU Tiger - what better situation to want in on than a less demanding role for an objectively fun, title-contending team that takes up residence in a state he likely considers a second home?
So, I guess the only question that remains is whether interested is something the New Orleans Saints should or shouldn't be. As is the case with all nice people, places, or things, that answer is highly dependent on the price. While it would be nice to offer Ken Crawley's starting spot in the lineup to someone who is not an on-again, off-again heart attack waiting to happen, it would also be nice for an organization who has proven adept at maximizing assets to maintain a chance to select a cost-controlled one in the top three rounds of the upcoming draft.
You don't need 20/20 vision to see Patrick Peterson fitting in seamlessly in locking down the field opposite Marshon Lattimore during a promising postseason run, so I'd consider the cost of a 2nd second round pick to be stealing solidified Super Bowl odds if it were my heist to make. Unfortunately, you need not look further than the return Jon Gruden just got for Amari Cooper to see Patrick Peterson fetching far more than the Saints' last remaining bargaining chip after trading two 1st's for Marcus Davenport. For that reason, the match - while being made in heaven - may not be as down-to-Earth a possibility as the optimistic asker of it seems to think. Even if Mickey Loomis has proven capable of making magic happen money-wise...
The Cowboys, And Specifically Jerry Jones, Somehow Did The Impossible By Making Jon Gruden Look Like A Genius
I know it's important to examine both points of view in prematurely determining which team "won" a trade. However, in this rare case, I find it hard to believe that anyone could put together a reasonable argument that hopelessly trying to equate the underwhelming short-armed efforts of Amari Cooper to the promise of a first round pick isn't a huge waste of my time.
I mean, this trade is so god awful that it's basically unholy, and - for further proof of that - consider that it - and it alone - has started to flip the narrative regarding what was widely considered the worst run team in the entire league. In massively overpaying to make the Cowboys slightly better, Jerry Jones made the Raiders seem as if they might actually have some of their shit together, for one absolutely has to appreciate selling a depreciating asset for such a premium price.
Now that the insanely desperate needs of a delusional Jerry Jones have been satisfied, I have a hard time believing that turning their biggest problems into pieces that are unquestionably part of their solution is something that Jon Gruden and Co. can continue to do in adding up eventual avenues (three 1st round picks this upcoming draft) out from under their own ineptitude. However, prior to this afternoon I would have told you it's more likely Amari Cooper switches to safety than fetches a first round pick as a wide receiver, so it's very possible that any benefit of the doubt is it too much benefit of the doubt to give NFL brain trusts.
It should go without saying that this move doesn't make moving Khalil Mack any less stupid, but it at least pushes the decision to do so down one in the rankings for dumbest trade of the calendar year. I don't know that outwitting a living cadaver who has convinced himself he's only one receiver who has issues receiving away from fielding a contender despite already cutting a receiver with receiving issues and rostering a starting QB who is allergic to throwing for 300 yards in a league where doing so is basically a right of passage is all that impressive. However, that doesn't make finding someone capable of making Jon Gruden look like a master negotiator and a competent executive by comparison any less of a dream scenario come to life.
If the Behind The Glass series taught us anything, it's that there is quite a bit to like about John Hynes as a leader. That said, if you absolutely had to pick one single thing to appreciate the most about him then it's probably the fact that what you hear is what you get. The concept of "coach speak" is highly dependent on the use of lip service, but that is certainly not considered a native tongue in or around a Devils' locker room in which their commander and chief is the furthest thing from fluent.
There's just something refreshing about actions mirroring words, and any Devils' fan who's been paying attention was well aware they would do just that when John Hynes made this promise following the Devils' disheartening loss to the Flyers on Saturday...
As it predictably turned out, it didn't take too long for that reflection to come to fruition...
While knowing full well that bag-skating your team's testicles off is an approach that probably proves impotent amongst professional athletes if taken too often, I do love the idea of wasting no time in giving a young Devils' team a damn near traumatizing reminder that any complacency whatsoever is unacceptable. Consider that John Hynes normal practices are more merciless than most and "the most unforgiving" is anything but a liberal label for a team employee to throw around in reference to what sounds like a punishment that pushed them past their lung capacity.
It would be easy for the Devils to make some pretty compelling excuses for as to how the current state of their overall health has coincided with the cooling off of their hot start. However, John Hynes didn't do so after their last game so you could be damn certain he wasn't about to leave them any room to be at all self-satisfied in preparation for their next one.
Fortune Must Favor The Bold, As That's The Only Thing That Explains The Timing Of The First Missed PAT Of Justin Tucker's Career
A lot will be made of the missed extra point that had Justin Tucker looking like he had finally seen the ghost that has haunted almost everyone of his fleet-footed peers at some point. After all, without it, it's impossible to know what would have come of a back-and-forth game in which the Saints scratched and clawed themselves in a position to be the team saved by the type of mind-melting mistake that has typically sabotaged them in the past.
If the Saints had lost in overtime it would be a hell of a lot harder to focus on them putting up 17 4th quarter points on a defense that had previously held its opponents touchdown-less in the second half through Week 6, and a hell of a lot easier to wonder why in the hell they still have such trouble getting one last stop when time is on their side. Luckily they didn't, so all the positives of New Orleans proving themselves persistent while on the road in an unforgiving environment against the type of team that's long been the kryptonite of Drew Brees and Sean Payton can truly be prioritized.
The fact is, it's no coincidence that the Ravens were the last to get brushed into the dustpan as Drew Brees became the 3rd quarterback in NFL history to complete a sweep of the league by beating each team at least once. Their ugly, grind-it-out style has never lent itself to the type of offensive onslaught for which the Saints have become famous. For that reason, it was encouraging to see Sean Payton come right out of the gates playing the type of smash-mouth football required to put together a 20-play drive that eats up damn near an entire quarter of the clock. That drive returned no points, of course, but the message it sent was that the Saints weren't about to be bullied in Baltimore. That message wasn't one that was able to keep them from falling behind double digits in the second half, but it sure was one that they stayed true to in methodically erasing a lead that may have seemed insurmountable in seasons prior.
A relatively run-of-the-mill 212-yard performance isn't one you'd consider particularly fitting of the touchdown that officially granted Drew Brees' access to the 500 Club, but the efficiency and the timing of how and when those yards were attained definitely were.
Drew Brees, as he has somehow done all year, played mistake-free football yesterday, which is even more impressive when you consider that doing so required him to make game-changing/saving plays like so...
I don't know that fortune favoring the bold is something that applies to ending up the beneficiaries of Justin Tucker's first blemish in 223 attempts, but I do know that being bold favored the Saints in inching out a win in Baltimore. That boldness didn't pay off in every single play (See: the botched option on the opening drive), but the mindset that they weren't going to be denied a victory in aggressively testing the toughness of one of the best defenses in football in their own building definitely did.
As is the case with most things in life, the Devils' dispiriting performance against the Flyers was much easier to predict in retrospect. Afternoon games have long been the bane of the franchise's existence, and heading into the most unforgiving of environment for their first road game of the season while shorthanded (without Zajac, Lovejoy) only made that trend all the more likely to continue. Add in the fact that the Flyers, despite all their failures, have proven capable of offsetting the offensive excellence of Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Kyle Palmieri when they have the benefit of the last change, and a second straight loss wasn't a totally shocking outcome.
I say none of that to let them off the hook, for my eyes are still recovering from what was their most unsightly showing of the season, but to bring some perspective to a game they played the vast majority of with five defensemen after Steve Santini's stint in the lineup lasted mere minutes before he left with a broken jaw.
The truth is, the Devils' execution was about as god awful as their face-off percentage, but the same can't exactly be said about their effort. The Flyers had about as many shots on goal as they did powerplays halfway through the game, so at the very least New Jersey was dominant in damage control...
When you're sacrificing your body at such an alarming rate it typically means you're trying, and the Devils - led by the black and blues of Andy Greene - did just that in attempting to make up for their inability to create any offense whatsoever or stay the hell out of the penalty box (the latter being an extremely discouraging recurring theme just six games into the season).
That effort, however, was just a step slow in almost every other facet of yesterday's game. I hate to do it to Nico Hischier, because he almost always makes up for his slight stature in working his balls off in his own end. Unfortunately, his half-second of air-headedness that allowed Nolan Patrick to make a weak case that he's anywhere near as good as the player selected ahead of him in the draft is the perfect example of the lack of focus and was much fewer and further between during the Devils' 4-game win streak...
As Brian Boyle was quick to note, there's no room for complacency as the Devils' talent level doesn't allow them much margin for error...
That's especially true when that error is as inexcusable as getting caught flatfooted in allowing a 2-on-1 while mere minutes away from picking up a (largely undeserved) point...
The most noteworthy positives of yesterday's game were that Pavel Zacha, the first round pick who is still looking for his first point, was incredibly active defensively, and that the second powerplay unit finally got on the board with Damon Severson's first man-advantage tally in 546 minutes of trying...
I say that to that to say this. Even a desperate search for the good in their game returned bad reminders, which is perfectly fitting of a performance that made Philadelphia look a lot better than they've been prior to yesterday.
There's no reason to overreact as they are still 4-2 and circumstances certainly didn't help their cause yesterday, but it would be nice if they end the series of hot and cold streaks that made last season a bi-polar test of my blood pressure. It's encouraging that their coach knows exactly how important it is nip it in the bud, so hopefully heed is taken to his words during what is sure to be a couple loud practices prior to their game against Nashville.