Mackenzie Blackwood Put Forth A Winning Effort In His First NHL Start, Even Though The Devils Did Not
Full disclosure, if not for a rookie netminder displaying veteran-like composure in keeping a largely lifeless team in the game for the first 40 minutes of game that they probably shouldn't even have had a chance to win in the final 20, I wouldn't have had enough original things to say to be writing about yet another demoralizing Devils' loss.
The laughable desperate lineup changes that can be best explained by the type of inquisitiveness that could get someone to eat dog food out of morbid curiosity were quickly boycotted. Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson basically gave the middle finger to both their coach and their goaltender by jockeying for the position of RHD while the LHD's responsibility tapped home a goal that was easier to attain than the signing up for a gym membership step of getting in shape...
Taylor Hall, as he's become one to do in trying to dig the Devils out of their depressive state, did a little too much in turning an odd man rush for into a scoring opportunity against so quickly that it made Nico Hischier jealous. Then Cam Atkinson, as he's become one to do over the years, killed the Devils, this time with the resulting penalty shot...
I suppose a bunch of other shit happened along the way, but - all in all - it was a familiar 'too little, too late' type effort from a Devils' team that made things far too easy on their opponent and waited until the 3rd period to show any sort of urgency offensively.
What wasn't familiar, however, was Mackenzie Blackwood and the combination of size (I don't know if you've heard, but you can't teach that), positioning, and athleticism he put together in giving his team every opportunity to conjure up some competitiveness. Whether it was stopping Artemi Panarin on the doorstep more times in a three second span than he's been stopped by a Devils' goaltender...well...maybe ever, or getting across the crease in a form and fashion that made Cory Schneider in fast-forward seem slo-mo, Blackwood was a breathe of fresh air to a crease that basically been black mold whenever Keith Kinkaid isn't at the top of his game.
One game makes not a successful career, of course, but it was encouragingly obvious why he was drafted so high, and (not to name names, but...) that's sadly not something that can currently be said of all members of that same Devils' draft class. Relative to a season of overwhelmingly negativity, a standout effort that - even in defeat - made the goaltending situation seem slightly less doomed is a pretty big positive. For that reason, I'm not sure MacKenzie Blackwood is more deserving of a 'thank you', a 'congratulations', or a 'sorry', because (with the help of a few posts) his 36-save performance was an appreciated accomplishment that went completely to waste...
CLASS: Character and Leadership 101
PROFESSOR: Urban Meyer
SYLLABUS: Do as I say, not as I do.
On one hand, the person who was most impactful in helping me realize the dangers of hard drugs was the active drug addict that was brought in to talk to my health class about how awful his life was when I was a kid. Something tells me that Urban Meyer isn't going to be up in front of the lecture hall shaking from lying withdrawals while using his tenure on the sidelines as a cautionary tale for what can go wrong when you spend so much time up your own ass that you get too used to your own shit to realize it stinks. However, if he did, there'd be a hell of a lot of lessons to be learned from his repetitive mistakes.
On the other hand, it would be nice if Ohio State treated their former Head Coach's (temporary) "retirement" like someone might treat a break-up with a crazy girl who was incredible in bed but insanely controlling. There's nothing the Buckeyes can do to convince anyone that Urban Meyer is a good person, so just admitting that the "sex" (football) was mind-blowing enough to justify all the unforgivable crap that came along with it would make the situation exponentially more understandable. Continuing this sanctimonious charade by letting him bring his bullshit to the class room only makes the university look worse, as "health problems" gifted them the golden opportunity to cut ties with a walking, talking hypocrite that's bound to be someone else's PR problem in the future.
To Herm Edwards, The "Ideal Football Player" Is Basically (Literally?) A Marvel Superhero Named 'Mandrake'
Look man (or lady), I can't explain it. If we were to quantify the amount of crazy quotables from every notable football coach across the country, Herm Edwards is probably neck-and-neck with Jon Gruden atop the list of sheer and utter nonsense. Therefore, it stands to reason that he is also a past his prime personality that got handed a coaching gig, in which he's sure to fail, due to recognition as opposed to recent resume.
However, for reasons that are unreasonable, I'm just not so sure I actually believe that. Maybe it's because charisma goes a hell of a lot further in the college game, but I think Herm Edwards has a legitimate chance to be successful at Arizona State. I don't think he'll be nearly as successful in scouting winged wide receivers with exposed abs on which you chop onions, but if you were looking for someone to lean on their enthusiasm in convincing a supremely talented teenager that he could turn them from a boy into a 'Mandrake' then he'd have my vote.
As well as a campus full of 10's, a preposterous (pool) party scene, and an overactive imagination, Herm Edwards has definitely got the juice to make prospective Sun Devils embrace their inner...well...Sun Devil. Even if he may or may not have known that was Arizona State's team name when he took over the entirety of their football program...
And there you have it folks. We've officially reached the "I wonder if this shit will stick to the wall" portion of an incredibly underwhelming season. Seems like just yesterday it mattered who was playing with whom, and all the sudden curiosity has taken over for chemistry as the driving force behind lineup decisions.
The truth is, after having suffered through watching their collective face get rearranged during Tuesday night's 60-minute assault, I wouldn't blame John Hynes if he randomly put players together like one might assort their laundry while wasted. Hell, I'd be half-surprised if a fifth of warm whiskey wasn't the lubricant on which Taylor Hall slid down to the second line.
Shall we keep going? Bratt on the fourth line? Severson and Vatanen together? Lovejoy being bumped up instead of out of the lineup by Santini? God bless Mackenzie Blackwood's heart, because the first start of his NHL career is pretty close to the last resort for a team that's now changing lines like one might get dressed in the dark.
Again, I don't blame John Hynes (nor want him fired, for that matter). There's only so many ways to inspire a team that still no-shows on a weekly basis, but one that was still available to him was making his players think they are driving him to drink. I have my doubts as to how well sympathy will work as a motivation tool, but it can't be any worse than whatever alcohol they were running on as Toronto put their toppling, tipsy ass in an Uber by the start of the second period. Who knows, maybe it's just crazy enough to work. Not like anything else is anyway...
Cam Jordan Ruthlessly Turned A Question About Ben Roethlisberger Into A Disrespectful Debate About The Top QB's Of His Era
At the risk of being blasphemous, I disagree with Cam Jordan. I don't want that fact to be lost in the following. By no stretch of the imagination do I love Ben Roethlisberger, but to rank him behind self-sacking Eli Manning career-wise is so, so wrong that it almost has to be intentionally insulting.
Which is really the point here. Due mostly to the fact that they been so consistently successful in ending it, the Saints absolutely cannot stop starting shit. I was absolutely howling during the entirety of that interview, because saying Big Ben is a future Hall Of Famer is an absolute nothing comment. It's not even an opinion. At this point, it's far beyond fact, and yet the leader of a defense that's proving itself dominant scoffed at it so damn hard that it turned a fairly simple question into a full blown, First Take-esque debate. A professional antagonist like Skip Bayless would be proud of how quickly Cam Jordan got a group of beat reporters to appraise something he basically just threw out there for shock value, and that's saying something given the harmlessness of the original question.
The Saints are officially going out of their way to stir some shit in the process of cooking opponents, and I can't help but love what it says about the confidence of an undaunted defense ahead of one of their biggest tests of the season. The Steelers can pin that one up free of charge, but - if his disrespectful disclosure is any indication - it's going to take a lot more than a bulletin board to stop Cam Jordan from getting to a quarterback that's probably already drawing up a list of teammates to blame for his shortcomings come Sunday.
The Saints Would Reportedly Use The Falcons' Facilities, Including Their Locker Room, If They Were To Make It To The Super Bowl
To be honest, I'm trying my damnedest to block out the mental image. With increasingly realistic dreams of a Lombardi Trophy already dancing in the head of the Who Dat Nation, the thought of 'Choppa Style' ringing out through the speakers as the Saints absolutely rip right through the rug of their hated rivals and go full-Rick James all over ever inch of their couch is almost too much to handle. You thought sending some wine and a broom to the Panthers was bad? Ha! I can't even begin to comprehend what type of mockery Sean Payton might have up his sleeve if left to experience the highest of highest in the locker room of those suffering from the lowest of lows. Hell, the better question is, what would wouldn't he do in turning up the heat in an attempt to make Atlanta's bad blood boil? I don't have the answer, so as to not overwork my imagination, I simply have to suppress the circumstances surrounding these Super Bowl aspirations.
There's obviously no love lost between the Saints and Falcons, but the ensuing social media footage would be the football equivalent of videotaping yourself sleeping with your worst enemy's dream girl in his bed and then sending it to him. That's a level of resentment that is logistically without an equal and opposite in terms of retribution. I don't care how much Dan Quinn downplays it. Having your worst nightmare realized is not something that any team could ever fully recover from in the short term, never mind one that still stepping on shards of its shattered spirit following 28-3.
I've been calling this season Sean Payton's Picasso of pettiness for awhile now, as this team is mentally molded in his arrogantly antagonistic likeness. Well, if (being the operative word, of course) this were to come to fruition, there wouldn't be a more fitting way for him to sign it authentic with a master stroke than to show the Falcons what their franchise has been missing from the comfort of their own home. For a team that doesn't just love winning, but also loves salting the wounds they've caused in doing so, it seems like the sassiest of Super Bowl celebrations in a house in which they are unwelcome would be the perfect ending.
Until it's reached, however, I still have to consider it a little too perfect. Seeing Falcons fans squirm and sweat at the possibility for so long as it still exists would make for quite the consolation prize, but there's still a lot of work to be done before we're talking ultimate prize.
Reportedly Facing An Indefinite Suspension, Josh Gordon Has Stepped Away From Football To Focus On His Mental Health
This sucks. This just sucks. Regardless of what uniform he happened to be pulling over his pads on Sundays, things are better when Josh Gordon is playing football. Mostly because that more than likely means he's clean of both body and mind, but also because his immense talent - while still largely unrecognized - can be awe-inspiring at any given moment. It's not entirely surprising that even the most sympathetic of NFL locker room isn't the place for someone whose demons are as rife as they are relentless, but it's still saddening that the monsters in his head won't stop standing in the way of his livelihood. Be it mental health, substance abuse, or what appears to be a combination of both, the only person capable of totally stopping Josh Gordon is Josh Gordon, and that's a tough thing for people who don't have those same issues to understand.
That said, this news is a reminder of why it was never fair to criticize the Browns for having had enough and moving on after years of sticking by his side, no matter how slight the final straw seemed to be. It's a reminder of just how premature the Randy Moss comparisons were. Josh Gordon wasn't just some entitled malcontent or some pothead that just wanted his chips to taste better that needed nothing more than a quick left on 'Patriot Way' in order to be guided back on the right track. He's an extremely talented and deeply troubled individual whose other shoe was hanging on by a lace in being a constant threat to drop. I hope he finds the help he needs, but let's not forget that the help he needs was always very unlikely to be fully found in an NFL locker room alongside 52 other players, no matter how supportive they were.
Oh, and - long story short - if this is as simple as Josh Gordon needing marijuana to maintain his mental health then the NFL is an absolute joke. Not that we didn't already know that.
Patrik Berglund Just Became Beloved In The City of Buffalo By Having His Contract Terminated For A Failure To Report
Disclaimer: When the potentially saddening explanation for his otherwise inexplicable absence eventually comes out, I reserve the right to retract the following "statement". Alas...
The good news? A mediocre player whose role on a surprisingly upstart team was quickly regressing just instantly became a hero in, of all places, the city of Buffalo.
The bad news? He just became a timeless punchline just about everywhere else.
Seriously, just wait until Jeff Skinner and his 50+ goal pace get signed long term with the money that the Sabres saved by saying "c'ya never" to a professional hockey player who appears to have valued his pride at a figure north of 12.5 million dollars. Hell, they might damn well save some of it to build a statue of Patrik Berglund sitting in a luxury suite outside the stadium. By my math, he would have had to increase his production about 10-fold to mean nearly as much to the organization as he did at the exact moment he was let go from it. Therefore, the 'one-man-mutiny' approach might have cost eight figures but it instantly bought him legendary status in a long suffering city.
Personally? I'd rather have the money, but some people think of legacies as priceless. This one, of course, would pretty much have to be in order to account for the shredding of a contract that still had 3 years at 3.85 million left on it, but who am I to question the priorities of a professional hockey player who better work on his bluffing if he plans to make up for his losses at the poker table?
Here's A Tear-Jerking Reminder That National Signing Day Can Actually Be More Than Just A Chance To Denounce And/Or Drool Over Talented Teenagers...
Well, shit. How in the hell am I supposed to be a cynical now? I was just trying to get through the day mocking the idea of adult men being put on pins and needles by teenagers making the personal decision of which school they'd most like to financially exploit their talents until Cooper Dawson came along with a contagious amount of compassion. All I wanted to do was have a bad attitude towards one of the traditions in college sports that brings the most irrational and unhinged of fans out from under the school-colored rocks from which they throw stones at largely unknown kids, and all the sudden a bad attitude is the only true disability?
Don't get me wrong, my heart might as well have been nuked in the microwave with how quickly Cooper Dawson's announcement warmed it, but Kingsley Feinman didn't just tear me up, he also tore me up on how I should view National Signing Day. This feeling...I think it might be unbridled optimism, for these glasses suddenly seem rose-colored after having just been clouded by pessimism. I might have to leave the tumultuous dinner table that is twitter for the afternoon. I'm rather enjoying having a good taste in my mouth for the time being, and it's all thanks to two friends who really summed up the human spirit of a practice that's only made creepy by those living and dying with the decisions made during it.
Does Michigan Football Only Recruit Heathens, Hooligans, And Hoodlums? Well, It Depends On Whether Or Not You Believe The Word Of The Lord.
I don't know if there's all that much left to say. My apologies to Matt Dudek, Michigan's director of recruiting, but the Church has spoken and I cannot recall a single time in which one of its most devoted constituents has ever led anyone wrong. I was pretty certain the Wolverines were mediocre after watching Ohio State bend them over the barrel for the umpteenth time in...well...umpteenth times, but I was slightly in the dark on Jim Harbaugh being a magnet for any and all low-class student-athletes. Well, who better to help me see the light than a completely unbiased Pastor!?!?
Typically I'd say it doesn't matter where the word of Lord is being preached from, but everyone knows those in the South are much more in tune with their spiritual side, and with that spiritual side comes an irreproachable ability to judge others. A man of God who lives in Florida and may or may not have a close connection to a certain school in Tuscaloosa is simply more well read on his Bible teachings, and apparently his particular testament has a few verses on the type of scum-sucking scoundrels who are drawn to the sales pitch of some asshole in Ann Arbor. Seems a bit direct, detailed, and topical for a scripture that's thousands of years old, but who am I question the man tasked with reading from a piece of literature that's timeless in its contempt towards particular groups of people?
He says "Roll", we say "Tide". It's Nick Saba....I mean, the Lord's will. Probably because Alabama is just convenient enough in it's forgiveness to be a perfect fit for Christianity.
As Only He Would, Sean Payton Hilariously Tossed His Visor To A Panthers' Fan While Jogging Off The Field In Carolina
For better or worse, baby. For better or worse.
Doesn't matter how many times it backfires on him, and you don't have to look too far back to remember the times in which it has basically blown his heart out of his chest (e.g. SKOL clap), Sean Payton only knows how to be himself. Just so happens that himself happens to be positively pettier than a scorned ex-girlfriend with the snarky social media presence of an NBA player.
He's never going to change, but nor should he with how well his 12-2 team has taken on his personality. There are going to be instances in which the Saints antagonize with their well-earned arrogance, but as long as they keep on backing it up then the only laughs to be had will be with them as opposed to at them.
If there was anything learned throughout three straight 7-9 seasons then it's that losing is far too unforgiving to be worried about conforming to someone else's idea of "classy" when winning. With that said, no insult will go un-added to proverbial injury. There's just too much spice in that locker room for salt not to get rubbed in wounds. This team, at the leadership of its head coach, is having too much fun to concern themselves with others who might feel some type of way about it.
Love him or love to hate him, Sean Payton is putting the strokes together in painting a goddamn Picasso of pettiness, and the only thing that could knock it from it's easel is the Saints not reaching their championship potential. The time will come when they have to prove it entirely deserved, but for now? The only thing more fun than football is the spoils (and trolls) of victory. Therefore, North Carolina, this one's for you...
...and former Panther Kurt Coleman...
The Saints, And Specifically Demario Davis, Have Adopted 'The Mamba Mentality' In Shooting To The Top Of The NFL
USAToday- As the pregame clock ticks down from hours to minutes, Demario Davis always begins praying for forgiveness.
He envisions every scenario that could possibly present itself in any given contest. And the New Orleans Saints linebacker knows how he must respond. He knows the violent nature with which he must attack and the pain that he is expected to inflict. So before Davis can adapt the necessary mindset, he first pre-atones.
“It’s a lot of focus,” the 6-2, 248-pound seventh-year veteran tells USA TODAY Sports. “For me, it’s like, I have to ask for forgiveness for what I’m about to do on the field, and then when I’m coming off the field, I’m asking forgiveness for what I just did on the field, because you have to go to a killer mentality. Mamba Mentality.”
That’s right. Mamba, as in Kobe Bryant. The retired Lakers great has long fascinated Davis. He watches every interview Bryant gives, watches his "Detail" film breakdowns for ESPN, and bought his book “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” hoping to glean insight on how to raise his level of play.
“I remember reading about why he had to create that Mamba Mentality and I try to bring that to my game because it’s like, ‘I’m Demario off the field, but I’m Magic on the field.’ Just like he’s Kobe off the court, but on the court, he’s Mamba. You can’t be that nice guy on the field. You’ve got to have that switch. For me, it’s a mental process. It’s a psych, to go to another place.”
"Mamba Mentality,” he said again. “You’ve got to play that one in front of you. … The biggest point Kobe talks about is, win or lose, your process has to be the same. If you win, gotta go and make your corrections and keep balling. If we lose, we go in and make corrections, come back stronger the next week. Mamba Mentality. It’s like, what’s your goal — your end goal? Our goal isn’t to win all our regular-season games. We have a bigger goal, the ultimate end goal.”
Welp, seeing as there is no bigger discrepancy between two philosophical mindsets than 'The Mamba Mentality' and 'Choppa Style', I don't think the phrase "get you a man that can do both" has ever truly applied more...
I'd imagine the only time Kobe Bryant ever moved his knees like that after a game was when they were falling apart with age, so while Demario Davis definitely has the quick strike ability of a venomous serpent, his personality definitely has a lot more versatility than that of his muse.
Honestly, that as much as anything has made him such a welcomed fit in the middle of a defense that's long lacked a player with his combination of physicality, leadership, and charisma. I hardly think he's the only guy that makes it a point to embrace the ruthless competitor inside himself when stepping within the unfriendly confines of the gridiron, but there's a hell of a lot of Lakers' players over the years that wish forgiveness and fun were also staples of 'The Mamba Mentality'.
That "other place" that Demario Davis goes to is back down-to-earth to join his dancing teammates as a relentless rug-cutter, an active activist, and a community leader, and I'm pretty sure it's a place that it took Kobe Bryant until retirement to fully find. There's a reason that he's been the most impactful addition the Saints have made via free agency over the years, and it's only partially because he's a fast, athletic, and versatile player who just flat-out fixed a suspect run defense by bringing the pain and punishment to the heart of it (despite being criminally robbed of a Pro Bowl bid)...
It's also because he's an incredibly selfless and likable person that fits seamlessly within an incredibly selfless and likable locker room whose team-first attitude, both on and off the field, is something that - well - never really materialized within the Mamba or his mentality.
Eric Reid Was Slapped With His 7th "Random" Drug Test In 11 Weeks After Wearing Cleats That Featured Colin Kaepernick, And No One Has Ever Been Happier To Pee In A Cup
The ass end of that headline was more so for dramatic effect, but - considering the fact that Eric Reid is clearly clean after having passed an amount of tests in an amount of time that would make a heroin addict out on parole feel like a prisoner - I'm not entirely sure that it's not 100% true.
Regardless of whether or not you're fearful of the results, the inconvenience of peeing in a cup is one that just about everyone would rather avoid. Just the splash back alone makes it entirely unpleasant experience that honestly feels like it should have been made a hell of a lot more scientific ages ago. Seriously, we have the world at our fingertips with apps these days, but we have to pinch off a piss so as to remain clean during the process of finding out if our urine is dirty. What goddamn sense does that make?
Whatever, not the point. The point is that just about everyone isn't having their case against a multi-billion dollar entity strengthened every time said entity defies every single law of statistical probability to be of slight nuisance to their plaintiff. So long as the NFL doesn't double-down on the collusion to coerce the Carolina Panthers into spiking Eric Reid's water bottle with a banned substance during practice, he's basically pissing liquid gold into a plastic cup every time he's summoned to clear his bladder. Those leaks are probably more pleasurable than the type that juuuuust make the toilet in getting powered out after a long stint in traffic, if only because they'll more than likely have a dollar sign attached to them.
Start paying me to piss in a cup and I'd keep the economy-size sleeve of Dixie's holstered in my pant leg at all times. If there's any justice to this process (which is debatable, at best) that's what the NFL will be doing when Eric Reid finally has his day in court, so I hope he's summoning a smirk as he's suppressing his stream. For, between this bullshit and the non-sensical fines, he deserves to have some fun at the literal expense of a league that's laughably harebrained in its heavy-handed hypocrisy.
The Bulls Started A Senseless Scuffle That Their Head Coach Then Jumped In On, And I Think It's About Time We Send Them To Organizational Therapy
I know this is a silly proposition due to revenue, and scheduling, and all the other financial implications that come along with telling a team to take a hike to clear their head, but wouldn't the Chicago Bulls benefit from an organizational leave of absence from the NBA?
There is just no good or growing to be done by a team that has no form of recourse other than starting nonsensical scuffles as they get beaten into the basement. It's only goddamn December and the franchise already used the ace up their sleeve to fire a coach of an entirely ill-equipped team only to cause a mini-mutiny against his hard ass of a replacement. I haven't exactly kept my finger on their pulse since, but if Kris Dunn sparking a melee only for Robin Lopez to jump in and psychotically threaten his way into an early exit as their coach puts an opposing player in a headlock is any indication, things aren't exactly trending up in the morale department.
I know professional sports are a business, but if the NBA were your average, run-of-the-mill company then the Bulls, as a collective, would be the disgruntled employee that gets offered either a paid sabbatical or a gracious severance package as it's only a matter of time before he attempts to take down the entire operation out of spite. Obviously that's not possible, but Chicago's front office sure does operate like it is.
Kings' Coach Dave Joerger Defended His Team's Selection Of Marvin Bagley With A Take So Hot It'll Burn Your Eardrums
If you told me that the Kings' locker room was being repainted on the day in which this quote was offered I'd believe you, as it's very much something you'd expect to hear from someone huffing hallucinogens. That said, when it comes to young players who you've invested the entirety of your future in, why not be high on your own supply? As good as they may be, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant make for nothing short of insanely lofty expectations of De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, but if a Head Coach doesn't have an irrational belief in players with which his job security rests then who the hell will?
When you really think about, this is as low-risk, high-reward a prognostication as one could possibly put forth. We'll have our laughs at the expense of Dave Joerger for the next 24 hours or so, but - if five years down the line - he's even remotely close to being right then he'll probably have helped turned a junk pile into a juggernaut as the Nostradamus of the NBA. Of course, he's much more likely to have grown to regret passing on someone whose already proving why he was widely considered the most can't-miss prospect in the draft in Luka Doncic, but why not go big or go home if - for better or worse - your own house is already in order?
I don't think I'm breaking any news to anyone that even halfheartedly watched a game that was as defensive a struggle as an elevator full of office workers trying to pawn off passed gas, but last night's win isn't exactly headed straight to the top of Sean Payton's 'Hall Of Fame' resume.
For the third straight week, the Saints' offense was largely catatonic in a way that made the first down pick-ups that weren't flagged, which were few and far between, feel like the type of gasping breaths one might take after being shaken awake from a nightmare. The complimentary pass catchers were, once again, about as non-existent as the commitment to the rushing attack (notably Mark Ingram, who was running aggressively early), and Drew Brees looked every bit his age as a mere mortal as a result. The injuries to the offensive line piling up certainly didn't help, but I'm not sure it's fair to say they slowed them down as they were basically running in mud to begin with.
Drew Brees launching a ball that would eventually be returned for two points into double coverage was a miserable, momentum-turning mistake...
...but it was one that showed how desperate he was to make a long overdue play.
Sean Payton putting the ball in the hands of Tommy Lee Lewis, who has every Saints' fan on the verge of a stroke every time he so much as catches a punt, with the game not only on the line but also well in hand worked out about as well as one would expect...
More so than that, however, it proved that a eternally cocky coach took to out-coaching himself when nothing else seemed to be working offensively. Granted, that's not an excuse, as that play call was an inexcusable risk to take considering the circumstances, but it's more than likely a risk that wouldn't have been taken if not for Sean Payton's passion for points feeling suppressed all night.
Heading back home, hopefully until playing in the most notorious of neutral ground game, should provide a much needed spark, but not since his draft year has a fanbase been so optimistic and appreciative of Ted Ginn Jr.'s spot in a starting lineup. The availability of both him, and - to a larger extent - Terron Amstead appears paramount to getting a unit that's struggling to consistently protect it's quarterback and/or create windows for him to throw back on the fastest of track.
And yet somehow, as the offense that's had its foot on the gas pedal for well over a decade has stalled, what was once a complete clunker of a defense has transformed into a tank in rolling over opposing offenses. Like, it's not even just the stars that are shining. Much in the same way that Tre'Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood were having big games when the 40-burgers were a weekly staple on the menu, former scapegoats like Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, and PJ Williams showed out in proving that the chemistry and confidence on the backend has become contagious. It all starts up front as the pass rush has been preposterously disruptive, but the quickness to the ball has been evident in almost every single player at one important point or another. Cam Newton's shoulder definitely hampered him, but the Saints' defense had 'Superman' looking like Clark Kent in the pocket while CMC was doing about half his running in place. Absolutely nothing has come easy against them as of late, as they've been relentlessly multi-faceted in a way that compares favorably to...well...the offense during the first half of the season.
Left is right. Right is wrong. Wrong is the all-out assault that a group that once upon a time gave up 48 points to Ryan Fitzpatrick has administered to every team that has crossed their path for the past month and a half. The Saints' defense has every right and reason to feel as though they are impenetrable, because - against every odd in the making of any book - they are currently carrying the best team in football on their back...
Contrary to popular belief, neither defense nor offense wins championships. Complimentary football, on the other hand, very much does. Therefore, the Saints will have to find some semblance of it in the coming weeks.
Fortunately, there's nowhere they are more likely to find it than inside the friendly confines of a SuperDome that, in all likelihood, they won't have to leave until February. The electricity in their own building has long been a steroid in injecting energy into both sides of the ball, so there's no reason not to believe that the Dome won't be patrolled a little more strictly pending the return of a defense that truly came into it's own on the road. As long as a little home cooking gets the young receivers feeling some Southern comfort, this team could easily earn themselves multiple weeks of much needed rest against Pittsburgh this upcoming Sunday.
That really shouldn't be possible considering the offensive struggles of late, but the Bizarro World Saints are playing a level of bully ball that allows for any type of win during a time of year in which they are at an absolute premium. Screw the style points, because the Super Bowl is now one win away from going through the city in which they typically come with the territory. Cam Newton can sip on that dose of reality, assuming he's still letting the wine that Cam Jordan sent him age until the day he finally outplays him.
Can't believe letting that act of mockery marinate on his mind for damn near an entire year didn't work out for him...
I have no issue what Marcus Peters did. Maybe, just maybe, this trend of professional athletes giving it back to those with mouthes that are made much bigger than their britches by some false idea that with their ticket comes some aura of invincibility will result in enough soiled undergarments to get said fans to wipe clean their tongue. I mean, probably not, but if the Rams' enigmatic corner contributed even a little to the humbling and silencing of stupidly outspoken fans then I can pick up what he was putting down.
That said, I'm not quite willing to look all the way past the fact that it was Marcus Peters who did it. We are talking about a player who, over the last two years, has made waves for all the wrong reasons as someone who's gotten run out of one city and underwhelmed in another as he's been aggressive in just about everything other than his play...
To be clear, I don't think even the worst of performances give hypocritical hecklers the moral high ground. That dude earned the entirety of his emasculation. I do, however, think the juxtaposition of running up right in the face of fans that don't know their place while being the type of defensive player who won't offer so much as a single hand in shutting down a red-zone rushing attempt is a bit ironic.
After all, if talking it only as you walk it is Marcus Peters' prerogative then he would have answered to every postgame interview in sign language this season, because he's been roasted six ways to Sunday on damn near a weekly basis. Point being, by my count, there were two voices in that video that didn't keep that same energy in the face of adversity yesterday. Even if one was undoubtedly far less tough than he talked and far more guilty of speaking out of turn in bringing unnecessary adversity upon himself.
Despite the depressiveness of the Devils' season thus far, I've tried to refrain from going full-blown eternal pessimist. In managing to take three out of the last four points despite facing third period deficits against superior teams without the help of the reigning league MVP on back-to-back nights, they've proven that the right way to approach a humbling year that - if only due to the ineptitude of the rest of their division - somehow still possesses the improbable potential for a playoff berth.
Unfortunately, as it pertains to the status of the one player who was the biggest unknown over the offseason, I'm not sure optimism is still a legitimate option anymore. Hell, at this point, I don't even know what the optimistic viewpoint would even be. Either Cory Schneider really is dealing with yet another injury to a part of his body that is essential to him doing his job with any consistency, or his injury is partly an excuse for his undeniable inability to do said job with consistency in anything other than losing.
On one hand, you'd hope that a physical ailment is what restrained him from getting from one post to the other in giving up an inexcusable backhand wraparound just over a minute into his first home start of the season...
And on the other hand, it's insane to hope that a goaltender who has yet to regain even a single shred of confidence following offseason hip surgery has been dealt another blow to his lateral quickness.
Cory Schneider carries a 6 million dollar price tag for 3.5 more seasons, and - as much of an apologist as I was - the Devils have only been somewhat worth the price of admission when he's nowhere near the net. We're talking about someone who took a routine glove save on a nothing shot and, in opposition of all findings of science, managed to help guide it through his own 5-hole...
That's not the work of a strained abdominal as much as it's the work of a shattered spirit. The Devils have undoubtedly been at their most disastrous with #35 in between the pipes, but the fact that they have often refused to play defense in front of him doesn't change the fact that his play has been indefensible. The only case he's made for himself so far is that his career as an NHL caliber goaltender is over. If the goal is to even stay on the outskirts of the postseason race, then the goal simply can't be manned by Cory Schneider. That's really the long and short of it. So, while in the short it's not incredibly awful news that he'll be inactive for a week during which a young player will presumably get a chance to prove himself, in the long there is no remotely good news regarding a player who appears broken mentally during the increasingly rare occasions in which he's not broken physically.
In The Midst Of Their Coaching Catastrophe, The Flyers Have Called Up Carter Hart For His Damage Control As Much As His Goaltending
I'm not sure there's a better way to describe the bipolarity of the emotional roller coaster above then to say I actually felt bad for the loathsome cretins that were stuck riding it as the Flyers out-Philly'd themselves in slamming the breaks during the most highly anticipated of plunge. Metaphorically speaking, the news that Joel Quenneville was replacing Dave Hakstol basically took Flyers fans to their happy place only for them to get there and find Shooter McGavin giving the girl of their dreams a tongue bath as it was almost immediately retracted.
As was likely when they handed their franchise legend of a GM his walking papers, and all-but-inevitable as they let it leak that they were canning their Head Coach, the Flyers...well...canned their Head Coach. However, there aren't many organizations that could surround an overwhelmingly agreed upon decision with such devastating disappointment. Yesterday afternoon, Flyers' fans would have signed up for Gritty grabbing the reigns behind the bench. Now, they'll be happy with nothing less than the second winningest coach in NHL history, and I can't even blame them for being impossibly insatiable, because their own franchise basically waved the finest of filet mignons under their nose only to leave them starving.
Therefore, while I find it hilariously disingenuous that they are acting as if the goaltending prospect they've been so cautious with that he has garnered an unsubstantiated support system only known to the likes of Jesus Christ himself finally developed into a finished product on the very same day in which the Flyers desperately needed a distraction, I totally understand why they are...
Never mind how well Carter Hart ends up stopping pucks at a professional level, because his main job at the moment is to control damage. To play the set of keys to a fanbase that has every right to be acting like disgruntled babies in the wake of being fed spoiled milk. The promising 20 year old is more than more than likely their best option at a position they've filled about as aptly as their trophy case for the last two decades, but that's not exactly some new revelation. I understand the Flyers are dealing with injuries in between the pipes, but - considering the timing - this is as much of a pounding of an "in case of emergency" button as it is anything else. Though, in fairness, with a volatile and long-suffering fanbase feeling its most scorned, this was definitely an emergency worthy of pulling the last ace out of their own asshole.
Drew Brees Sent A Personalized Game Ball And A Letter Of Recognition To Every Single Receiver And Lineman That Contributed To His Passing Yardage Record
Leave it to Drew Brees. Just, leave it to Drew Brees.
During a time when 99% of the .0000001% of people that make a lucrative living throwing a football would have been reflecting on their successes in doing so at a statistically unprecedented level, the NFL's passing yardage leader chose a personal peak of quarterbacking
from which to show himself as so much more than a great quarterback.
Leadership isn't measured in counting stats, but if it were then you can bet your ass that Drew Brees would have broke that record over his knee years ago. There's nothing definitive about subjectively labeling someone a "great teammate", but - objectively speaking - that seemed to be the consensus opinion of everyone that has shared so much as a single snap with #9. Even before he had personalized game balls and heartfelt letters of appreciation crafted for every player who was made better by one of the most accurate arms and one of most unflappable pocket presences in NFL history, nary a discouraging word was spoken of the New Orleans Saints' primary source of encouragement. If that doesn't speak to who he as a person then the fact that his decision to do so wasn't the least bit surprising certainly does.
Simply put, there is a reason that multiple Saints' players have been quoted as specifically wanting to make this season a special one in honor of their quarterback's illustrious career. That reason is best encapsulated by the gratitude he's always shown in greatness. Even during the down times in which that greatness wasn't anywhere near as reciprocated throughout the roster as it is today.