When Asked By His Rookie Quarterback If He Wanted To Run Some Pre-Game Routes, Kelvin Benjamin Responded With A Flat "No"
First and foremost, there is absolutely no way that this interaction was as funny in person as it is in the comedic dramatization I'm envisioning. When I read that tweet I see a youthful and exuberant Josh Allen running up to his elder in Kelvin Benjamin and patting him on the knee as he sits on the bench in stained sweatpants and asking him if he wants to have a catch, only to be shot down with the type of ruthless vigor that damages a kid's psyche well past adolescence. That, of course, is quite a bit of hyperbole, but if you can't see shades of Charlie Brown dejectedly sulking away when you read that Josh Allen couldn't coax a couple pregame 7 routes out of a former first round pick who, at that point, had all of 8 catches in 5 games then I don't want to know you.
Regardless of how common (or uncommon) it might be for a player to turn down a chance to create a little more chemistry with a rookie quarterback prior to a game, this is objectively another bad look for someone whose potential is going to die looking at its watch while being stood up waiting for him at the doorstep of receiving relevance. Having turned down Josh Allen for some much needed reps, it's now official that the most initiative Kelvin Benjamin has ever taken in changing his reputation to something other than that of an overweight wideout with suspect hands and a lousy work ethic was when he blamed a former MVP, in Cam Newton, for all of those shortcomings.
Kelvin Benjamin is literally nothing if not a cautionary tale that has way too many snooze-worthy chapters to get through. That's not to say he's the first or last player to have opted out of running routes for a rookie quarterback due to differing pregame routines, but he's probably pretty close to the first player who has done so with one heavy foot rested firmly on the fringe of the league in which he makes a living. I appreciate the use of the "say it with confidence and you won't be questioned" method, but something tells me that abject apathy can only bide you so much time when you're not getting your work done on the field.
The media, as it tends to do, most certainly made this a bigger deal than it was, but considering the amount of fingers he manages to point, Kelvin Benjamin should really be a lot better at catching a football. If only there were a time in which he could sneak in some more practice doing so...
Three games is what it took for the Devils to turn in their first mediocre performance of the season, but - thanks in part to Peter DeBoer's familiar inability to get his teams to turn possession into production - it'll be at least four before they have to head back to the locker room as losers. The experiences of Switzerland and Sweden seems to have done a lot for the Devils, and none the least of which is set their schedule back so that their 3-0 start makes their record the only flawless one remaining. That means next to nothing in mid-October, of course, but the same can't be said for toughing out a victory in the 3rd period of a game in which they didn't play close to their best against one of the most talented rosters in the entire league.
Labeling a win as "gutsy" sometimes feels disingenuous when all it really means is that a couple bounces went your way during a game in which you were otherwise underwhelming. However, I'm not sure there's a better way to describe concluding a come-from-behind win by killing off two separate penalties in the closing minutes against a powerplay that strikes as much fear into the hearts of its opposition as the apex predator that's stitched across its chest.
No one would argue that the Devils played great, or even good for that matter. The only reason they had to desperately throw their bodies in front of a barrage of pucks was because they made no adjustments in continuing to shoot themselves in the foot with their slingshot-style powerplay and passed up on a golden opportunity for an insurance goal as if it were an impromptu meeting with a door-to-door insurance salesman. As praiseworthy as the ensuing PK was, requiring it's services for a 'holding the stick' penalty and a 'too many men' penalty is simply inexcusable in the late stages of a one goal game against a team that's armed to make you pay in that situation.
Add to that the fact that the Devils' pinpoint passing on the afternoon was about as precise as a back-alley acupuncturist and that their execution was particularly off throughout a second period in which the Sharks seemed to be swarming with the current, and you get the type of performance that becomes defined by nothing more than its outcome. Be they lazy offsides, careless turnovers, or dumb penalties, there were no shortage of mistakes from a team that appeared vulnerable for the first time all year.
Fortunately, those mistakes were largely covered up by the scorching hot stick of Kyle Palmieri and the continued early excellence of Keith Kinkaid, so we can look at the Devils' effort yesterday as resilient as opposed to reckless. For what's it's worth, which is two points in the standings, the Devils' effort never waned. The same can't be said for their focus, but it speaks volumes of their construction that they can beat a team like San Jose while playing through the blunders that tend to bubble up during a long season.
- I suppose you could consider it concerning that Kyle Palmieri currently accounts for nearly 50% of the team's goals. However, while he's as hot as someone could possibly be three games into the season, both his linemates are as cold as you could possibly be three games into the season. The chances have consistently been there for all of Hall, Hischier, and Palmieri, so whatever drop-off the latter might experience from his historical pace should be more than made up for by a positive regression in pucks going in for those skating alongside him. Everyone has made contributions in some form or fashion, so let's just enjoy the Devils' ride on Kyle Palmieri's back as he does what he does best in pocketing goals in bunches.
- As fantastic as the Johansson-Zacha-Noesen line looked against Washington, they looked just as lost against San Jose. Plus/minus can be a misleading stat, but it's no coincidence that it's one that didn't favor them yesterday. It looked like Pavel Zacha's remote control shut off mid-game as he gave away the puck that eventually ended up in the back of the Devils net to make it 2-1, and when Stefan Noesen wasn't waltzing his way offsides during odd-man rushes like he was in a bad way with his bookie he was sitting in the box for the fourth time in three games. Marcus Johansson may not have done anything equally as egregious, but he also wasn't anywhere closer to the difference maker he was prior. I don't think Thursday's chemistry was an aberration, but it just might have been the high to yesterday's low, as well as a reminder of why the spot on the right spot of that line is ripe for the return of Jesper Bratt.
- Face-offs usually go overlooked in their impact on the game, but the Devils marked improvement in the dot has created so many chances that's it's almost been impossible to ignore. This time it led to the game-tying goal, and even if their numbers (that are nothing short of shocking, mind you) regress they should still continue to benefit what's sneakily been the most surprisingly aspect as of their hot start.
- This one was predictable. Damon Severson is far too often treated as the whipping boy when things go wrong, but there's something about having more room to make plays that really brings out the worst in his instincts. I tend to think his spot on the second powerplay unit, that hasn't gotten any better than it was last year, was inevitably going to be taken by a 4th forward at some point anyway, but it's clear I wasn't imagining his hesitancy in moving the puck while he was acting like one yesterday.
- I don't know that any Devils' fan still needed closure to the Peter DeBoer era in New Jersey. While it ended poorly, he wasn't exactly given much to work with as that Finals appearance crept further and further into the rearview and the franchise finally floundered its way towards a rebuild. That said, it's tough not to appreciate the irony of John Hynes passing him in games coached for the Devils while out-coaching him in New Jersey.
- Holds breath...
...annnd let's out with a gasp...
- Bravo. Just, bravo...
Take it away, Snark Ingram...
Welp, it seems Sean Payton's forgiveness for the insider-enabled witch hunt that cost him an entire year of his career, and potentially a whole hell of a lot more, only extends so far. Opposing sidelines have only recently come to be included in that distance, but the worldwide web? Eh, looks like were still a long ways off from any sort of online pardon being granted.
Personally, I think Sean Payton should feel free to take as many unprovoked shots - be they subtle, obvious, petty, or profound - at the weasel that tried to save his own ass by putting that of the man that gave him the opportunity to raise a Lombardi Trophy to the fire. Honestly, I'm really not sure there's one thing he could say or tweet about Gregg Williams that I would deem over the line. Though, as a Saints' fan that thinks Sean Payton is at his best when he DGAF, I'd be cool with him prepping for the Divisional Round during his next bye week by mailing a box of diseased rodents to the doorstep of the human that shares their blood type.
Eli Manning Should Give Thanks To Odell Beckham Jr., Whose Antics Serve As A...Wait For It...Distraction From The Actual Problem
At this point, it's very clear that Odell Beckham Jr. does not enjoy playing wide receiver for an Eli Manning "led" team, and the truth is that no one can really blame him for that. The Giants are unbearably awful, and - as bad as they are - the offensive line isn't entirely to blame for rendering inept a unit that has no shortage of top-end talent. The aging quarterback, whose best days are both far behind him and were never really better than slightly above average anyway, is killing his team's ability to be even mildly mediocre offensively, and frustrations have boiled over as a result.
I just can't understand how the main source of those frustrations, who has now somehow made an actual habit of fist-fighting intimate objects, still can't comprehend that every one of his episodes takes the negative attention away from the person he wants replaced. The truth is that Eli Manning owes Odell Beckham Jr. a "thank you". Obviously it wouldn't be for showing him up by screaming on the sidelines, or for being in such desperate need of hydration that he sulked off the field shaking his head while under his own power with two seconds remaining in the half and his team on offense, or for delivering a three-piece combo to a mechanical fan. Rather, it would be for intentionally doing dumb, dramatic shit that makes just as many headlines as the piss poor quarterback play that instigates them. Odell Beckham Jr., though he doesn't realize it, might as well be extending an olive branch to Eli Manning every time he engages in some infantile bullshit that even slightly lessens the load of the scrutiny that he's sure to face.
The fact is, Odell Beckham Jr. is a distraction. He's most certainly not the type of distraction that is costing the Giants football games, as he could have simply sat down Indian style with his arms crossed in anger during every one of his routes and it wouldn't have effected the outcome of the game. He is, however, the type of distraction that is detracting from his own Lil' Wayne supported message. Even one second that's wasted talking about the antics of an attention whore of an All-World wideout is a second that wasn't spent talking about the failures of the player that's leaving him comically underutilized. As the Giants are currently misconstructed, Odell Beckham Jr. is just about the furthest thing from the problem, but the guy who signed on the dotted line for tip-top dollar knowing damn well who his quarterback was going to be this season certainly does have an uncanny way of making it more difficult to focus fully on the actual problem.
Geno Smith, Who Thinks Ben McAdoo Is Owed An Apology, Allegedly Went All Of Last Season Without A Playbook After Misplacing It
I want to crucify Geno Smith for demanding an apology on behalf of the almost impossibly overwhelmed buffoon who literally mindlessly roamed the New York Giants sideline last year. I really, really do. The team still sucking sans the presence of the mustachioed man who lost the entirety of the locker in which he spent a season walking around looking like he came straight from auditioning for a role in A Bronx Tale reboot is not a compliment to his leadership qualities. Being in charge of a roster that remains structurally flawed even after his dismissal certainly didn't strengthen his case as competent, but the Giants would have to go on to lose every game by 100 for me to retrospectively look back on Ben McAdoo as an answer to any question that wasn't "which former NFL coach would make for a much better stay-at-home father?".
Unfortunately, I can't crucify Geno Smith for doing so, for - as an absolute punchline of a backup quarterback - he should be showing an allegiance to anyone that has ever believed in him, even if it was out of pure desperation. We're talking someone whose jaw got wired shut by his own teammate during his most prominent stint as a starter. A professional athlete who once missed a team meeting because time zones are, like, really hard. Someone who, allegedly, was still given an opportunity to end the 222 game starting streak of a two-time Super Bowl MVP despite having no idea as to where he put his playbook months earlier...
"Geno, you should apologize to your former teammates since you lost your playbook for a whole year," said Banks, the Giants' radio color analyst.
"One hundred percent, didn't have his playbook for a whole year and tried to fool everybody. Everybody knew because they can check whether or not you're looking at your plays with these iPads."
I suppose it's fair to question just how true this playbook accusation is, as the accuser is a Giants' lifer in Carl Banks, who probably has at least one dog named after the lifeless corpse of a quarterback that is Eli Manning. If you're really, really interested in the whole truth then you could seek another source before believing a story that would sound patently ridiculous and absurdly unbelievable if the subject of it were almost anyone else. That, however, won't be me, as I don't want the visual of Geno Smith going about his day-to-day for a entire NFL season acting like a paranoid cubicle worker hearing footsteps during the late stages of his 9th straight game of online solitaire to be ruined. Especially since it's that image that reinforces my belief that Ben McAdoo is pretty close to the coaching equivalent of Geno Smith.
First, some context. The Washington Capitals were on the ass end of a back-to-back. If you weren't aware of that when the game started then you should have easily been able to infer so by the end of it. That's not to take anything away from what a fast and unrelenting Devils' team was able to accomplish by running ragged a team that's given them absolute fits in recent years, but you typically don't skate laps around the reigning champions, who've been on an absolute heater to start the season, without some other factors working in your favor.
Another one of those factors was the Devils having fresh legs on familiar ice, as it can't be discounted that they were chomping at the bit to return home after being out of the country for nearly two weeks. I don't really think doing so against a back-up goalie helped their cause, as Pheonix Copley made just as many saves that he shouldn't as he let in goals he shouldn't. However, for the sake of the cold shower I'm in desperate need of after watching the Devils play near perfect hockey against the best the league has to offer, I'll also include the fact that they were shooting on someone I've never of in the disclaimer. Anyway, that about concludes my list of reasons to keep it in your pants while immediately penciling the Devils into a playoff spot after watching them top off the whole 6-pack in sobering up the Stanley Cup Champs...
The truth is, not even the most annoyingly delusional fan that thinks every player and/or prospect will play to their potential could have scripted such a stellar start to this season. Never mind the lopsided outcomes, because you can go up and down the entire roster, position by position, and the only concern you'd come up with is that not one of the offseason concerns has reared its ugly head as of yet. I'm generally a glass half full kind of guy, but the most worrisome thing about how great the team, as a whole, has looked is that water eventually finds its level. Until it does, however, it's important to drink in the overflowing optimism being spilled by a group that's performing like it wholeheartedly disagreed with the notion that they were in desperate need of reinforcements over the summer.
Mirco Mueller appeared, well, unnoticeable, which is just the biggest compliment you can give to a defenseman that went from in and out of the lineup to first pairing responsibilities in a few short months. Damon Severson, as I live and breath, played positional defense with a marked physicality of which I have to assume is the result of either Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Kuznetsov threatening to tag team his mother...or his comfortability next to Andy Greene. After two games, that pairing has returned encouraging results that lead you to believe that neither was nearly as bad as the cards as they were dealt last season. I would have told you that Marcus Johansson and Pavel Zacha were playing off of each other in dominant fashion before the former embraced his inner Joe Sakic to cap off a perfectly set play, and - regardless of the latter's inability to do the same on multiple glorious occasions - I definitely would have given him a 5-star review before seeing this eye-popping statistic...
I suppose you can include Keith Kinkaid in with the pleasant surprises, as - other than some Cory Schneider-esque expeditions outside the crease - he's picked up right where he left off in backstopping the Devils down the stretch, though I don't think that he was anywhere near as much of a question mark as others.
Regardless, just two games in, all those question marks have been responded to with exclamation points, and all the "givens" on the roster (the 1st line, the 3rd pairing, Travis Zajac, etc.) have lived up to that title and more. Add to that the powerplay seeming in sync and that the penalty kill being flawless against a unit that doesn't need a full tank of gas to make you look stupid, and there's almost too much positive not to be paranoid. After all, these things can, and will, surely change as the season wears on. Still, if only until Sunday, there's just not even one single solitary reason to believe that the Devils are going to fall victim to the funk that has haunted young, first time playoff teams before them.
This team looks just as energetic and even more attentive to detail than they were to start last season. The type of focus they displayed in doing so is just as encouraging, and even more important to sustained success, than the one-off emasculation of a tired team that got their reality fully checked, fore and back.
Pat Riley Called Tom Thibodeau A 'Motherf---er' Before Hanging Up On Him, So I Guess So You Could Say Jimmy Butler Trade Talks Are Going As Expected
You know, when the Jimmy Butler saga eventually ends, it's going to be a sad, sad day for those of us drawn in by the sheer absurdity of it all. Luckily for us, there doesn't appear to be a conclusion in sight as this has already gone on far longer than any competent organization would have let it.
I mean, if there were ever a sign that stubbornness and stupidity were going to somehow keep this thing alive and kicking into the regular season, it's the swindler or all swindlers finding himself flat out offended by the last second demands of a Head Coach whose leverage is laughable at best. Pat Riley, more so than anyone, knows the NBA's tricks of the trade. As someone whose position typically holds as firmly as a hairstyle that's more recently turned gray than it has budged, he's well aware of how much of a stickler you have to be when acting in the best interests of your organization. In short, it's no small feat to get him to let out a "MOTHERFUCKER!" that rings as loudly as the ensuing dial tone. Something tells me there is absolutely nothing that the most cunning of snake-oil salesmen enjoys more than talking his way into getting what he wants, no matter how long it takes, so the fact that he took his pride and went home with one spike of the receiver speaks volumes of the tone-deafness of Tom Thibodeau.
To be fair, nothing is done until it's actually done and I don't know that Josh Richardson, an overweight Dion Waiters with injury issues, and a protected first round pick are a fantastic return for a second tier NBA star. However, if that's what was agreed to then it's pure lunacy to think Jimmy Butler somehow increased in value by continuing to take his own team's lunch money. There's absolutely no logic to wasting time upping the price when your store is being set on fire...which is good news for those of us hoping to see the full array of ways in which Jimmy Butler can bully around an entire NBA organization one day at a time.
The Sights And Sounds Of The Saints Locker Room Following Drew Brees' Record-Setting Night Were Exactly What You'd Expect Them To Be
Countless daps and hugs? A celebratory dance off around the awkward white guy? An approving postgame speech from Sean Payton, capped off by the presentation of the most deserved of game-balls? A selfless show of grace and gratitude from the one player who's definitely owed a disproportional amount of the thanks? A reminder from said player of what the ultimate goal is?
For what scene lacked in containing any sort of surprise whatsoever, it sure made up for in being special. There's enough players on SnapChat for the fanbase to know exactly what the locker room looks like when this particular Saints' team is feeling themselves, but it was still nice to have an in-focus video of a group that's taken massive strides over the last five weeks as they enjoyed a historical night for their unquestioned leader in preparation of their week off. If not only commonplace, it was also cool to listen to Drew Brees back up his record-setting play on the field with the type of words that make him impossible not to rally behind. The night was truly his, and it ended with him surrounded by a team that, in both sights and sounds, is truly starting to believe that the season might be theirs.
Jimmy Butler Led A Players-Only Meeting In Which He Unveiled That He Plans To Play Alongside The Guys He Completely Emasculated Yesterday
I'm of absolutely no illusion that it will lead to the Minnesota Timberwolves coming together as a competitive team that lives up to it's potential by becoming harder to play against, but goddamn do I love what Jimmy Butler is doing. I don't know that I totally respect the calculated way in which he made sure ESPN was present when he walked the talk in wiping his feet all over the franchise, but I sure do enjoy it a hell of a lot more than a run-of-the-mill holdout.
For everything Jimmy Butler's actions of the last two days are not - such as a decent way to build any chemistry whatsoever, for example - what the complete emasculation of the most prominent pushovers on the team he apparently plans to play for was is the ultimate in making lemonade out of lemons. Screw the bitterness that will clearly continue to exist in Minnesota, because there's nothing sweeter to an NBA player than having free reign over the entirety of a locker room in which his days are numbered. Jimmy Butler basically bullied his way into the position of player-coach, and not one of the handful of people he dunked on in the process even thought about putting a hand up to protect their personal pride...
There is approximately a zero percent chance that calling a supremely talented 7-footer Charmin soft to his face in front of his peers is what gets his balls to drop for the betterment of the team, but winning a bunch of games got scraped as an initiative the second Jimmy Butler smacked around the starters while playing alongside glorified ballboys. The Timberwolves aren't going anywhere with or without Jimmy Butler, but he'll be damned if he's not the one to drag their asses begrudgingly to irrelevance so long as the organization (or more accurately, Tom Thibodeau) stubbornly keeps him on board.
Carlos Dunlap Made A Fat Joke At The Expense Of Ben Roethlisberger, Which Is Quite Fitting Of The Bengals/Steelers Rivalry
Look, there's no denying that fat jokes are the low hanging fruit when talking about someone whose face has long appeared to have been pulled from a hornet's nest, but - in fairness - it's not like said fruit was ripe for Ben Roethlisberger's lunch box when Carlos Dunlap decided to pluck it.
In all seriousness, I can't help but feel like this is the perfect prelude to another iteration of a rivalry whose bad blood has been kept at a consistent boil by years and years of crippling cheap shots and lewd low blows. Again, fat jokes aren't typically my thing, but did we really expect the Bengals or Steelers to pull even the most blindsided of punches during the proverbial weigh-in? At this point, doing the verbal equivalent of smushing the cheeks of the Steelers' starting quarterback is just about the nicest mean thing you could say about a dysfunctional organization that's the flicking of one lit cigarette away from going up in flames at any given time. Carlos Dunlap's carnivalesque guesstimation on just how much Ben Roethlisberger dents the scales was probably as gratuitous as his diet on behalf of AFC North animosity. That said, all is fair in hate and war, and this week serves as preparation for an inevitable and bi-annual clash of those two things.
Kevin Durant and New York City. Other than literally everything, what can possibly go wrong! Honestly, it's basically straight out of a rom-com, if said rom-com's plot was that a gorgeous girl with insatiable self-esteem issues locks eyes with a brash bro who is as demanding as he is desperate, and they spend a couple sequels completely undermining a volatile relationship that lasts way longer than its expiration date.
To be clear, as someone who loathes both Kevin Durant's "woe is me" insistence that everyone is out to get him and the undeserved entitlement of everyone invested in New York sports, there is absolutely nothing I'd love more than to see the two wed in a holy hell of a matrimony. I don't even know which party would be the most likely to start the sports' media equivalent of the drunken argument in the middle of the bar, but I do know I'd enjoy watching from the end of it.
Let's not forget, Kevin Durant had to turn into a relentless internet troll to handle the insanely predictable scrutiny that came of coasting to the stage to accept back-to-back Finals MVP trophies. Yet he, of all people, is going to the be the one that walks into the literary lion's den that is Madison Square Garden and tames the beast? Quite possibly the most thin-skinned superstar we've ever laid eyes on is going to be the one to bring glory back to the Mecca of basketball? I certainly hope Kevin Durant learns how to walk on water, because that's what it will take for him to calm the storm and avoid drowning under a tidal wave of takes.
We are talking about a guy that found his feathers ruffled by the Oklahoma City media on multiple occasions, and the general disposition of the New York media is like that of the Oklahoma City media if they were denied food and water for a week in which they were going through drug withdrawals. There ain't anywhere near enough meat on his bones for Kevin Durant to survive getting chewed up and spit about by the city that's never sleeps comfortably when it comes to its sports team. Especially since the sports team he's rumored to have considered joining is under the type of ass-backwards ownership that could ruin a wet dream.
Miles Wood Contends That He's Always Had Good Hands, He's Just Had To Figure Out How To Use Them In The NHL
I can't believe I'm about to say this about a Miles Wood response, but that actually makes a whole lot of sense. It's easy to assume that, after two full seasons of working on them, a professional athlete's hands just don't have what it takes to fully catch up to the speed of the game...until you consider the speed of the particular game in question. Hell, those mitts probably need a re-palming after being run absolutely ragged in coming anywhere close to the dust kicking up behind the middle-6 muscle car they've desperately been attempting to tail.
Prior to the preview he gave us overseas, I had admittedly resigned myself to Miles Wood remaining a relentless, rough-around-the-edges battering ram whose points would primarily come from either bullying his way to the net or a sheer volume of breakaways. After watching him put the puck on a string only to yank it away and leave Adam Larsson looking like he feel victim to a Swedish street prank, however, I'm actually starting to believe there's something to the idea of his speed simply lapping his skill in beating it to the NHL level.
For whatever reason, this scene from The Fast And The Furious comes to mind...
...and if you think of the puck as the car then I think a young, naive Paul Walker compares rather easily (on the eyes) to the Miles Wood we saw throughout the start of his career. After watching the international trailer, you can definitely envision the improvement of the latter's vision and stickhandling becoming a sizable subplot during this sequel of a season. That's something I can't say I saw coming when he ended his holdout, but it's something that, in retrospect, was never all that far fetched given how many blazing quick quarter miles he now has on his NHL odometer.
Sidenote: Far, far, far too many Devils' fans (somehow still) need to listen CLOSELY to what he had to say about Travis Zajac, because it's no coincidence it's echoed the sentiment of almost anyone that's played alongside him for any extended period of time.
The Nashville Predators Raised A Cringeworthy 'Regular Season Western Conference Champions' Banner For No Apparent Reason
As someone that thoroughly enjoys watching the Predators, finds the atmosphere in Nashville to be absolutely awesome, and appreciates what the uniqueness of a loud, proud, and passionate fanbase in a non-traditional market provides the NHL, I feel like I have to speak up here.
We, as hockey fans, simply can't stand idly by and let a franchise that has made an unprecedented amount of headway in demanding respect from the stick-in-the-ass organizations that think longevity in the league automatically makes them better representatives for it do this to themselves. The Nashville Predators have come too damn far to start raising obnoxiously large banners in honor of made-up awards. A "Regular Season Western Conference Championship" is not a thing, nor should a franchise that won both their division and, more notably, the Presidents' Trophy feel obligated to try to make it a thing just to fill their rafters with fluff.
I hate to say it, but this is the type of stuff that helps hockey elitists wrongfully claim that the Nashville Predators unconventional existence is somehow compromising a long-standing hockey culture. After all, everyone knows you need at least a handful of Stanley Cups and/or thirty-five years experience before you're granted the benefit of the doubt in raising banners for random accomplishments...
Jimmy Butler Called Out Teammates, Coaches, And Executives As He Asked To Play With The 3rd String And Beat The Starters At T'Wolves Practice
As someone who stands to gain very little from the Minnesota Timberwolves' organization maintaining a healthy working environment that allows for players and coaches to build positive professional relationships, I must say that I'm officially all-in on them dragging their feet in Jimmy Butler trade talks. Of all the teams with which the type of workaholic prick that could make Kobe Bryant proud (and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible) has been rumored to play this upcoming season, none of them sound anywhere as enticing from an entertainment standpoint as the one with which he despises absolutely everyone.
Honestly, I can't believe there is not one video accompanying the setting of a scene that sounds equal parts awkward, inspiration, and foolhardy, but if there was then I'd have to imagine it would look something like this...
...or even this...
And the truly crazy thing is that the Timberwolves have the one Head Coach and/or President of Basketball Operations in all the NBA that's stubborn enough not to roll the credits on the Jimmy Butler era in Minnesota after he went scorched earth on the organization. Tom Thibodeau is the same guy that encouraged the tireless tyrant of a teammate in Chicago, so starting a Jimmy Butler-led third string to open the season is only as unlikely as him being moved for any less than he's worth.
I'm starting to think it's not completely crazy to envision a scenario where this long overdue breakup doesn't happen until midseason, and that possibility is completely crazy in and of itself. The first practice and Jimmy Butler has already indignantly given a voice to his one man mutiny from within the franchise that it's against. I don't know where things go from there, but for the sake of the NBA as a soap opera, I hope the next few episodes of As The Ball Bounces continue to be set at Timberwolves' training camp, because damn...
The term 'project' can be a scary one in the world of sports. It implies uncertainty. Calls for the acceptance of an above average possibility of failure. Demands patience from those either in or invested in a field in which instant gratification is not only paramount to success, but also key to unlocking some job security. For that reason, trading two first round picks that are typically viewed as immediate contributors for a 'project' at a pressing position of need (that isn't quarterback) is about as comforting an idea amongst predominantly risk averse football minds as...well...trading with Bill Belichick.
Luckily for the Saints, Marcus Davenport is no ordinary project. What's been fairly obvious throughout the first five games of his career is that it's not as if the Saints chose to return from IKEA to a painstaking process that will inevitably be elongated by coming to find out that an unexpected piece is missing from the box when they moved up and select a 6'6 freak of an athlete out of small school in San Antonio. Instead, his drafting already compares favorably to deciding upon paying extra for the delivery of a performance mattress while knowing it'll take some breaking in. Not every intricacy of being a well-rounded, every down pass rusher that's tasked with facing the most trusted member of each opposing offensive line has quite yet sunken in, but Marcus Davenport's physical makeup is helping him conform and become more and more comfortable with each passing game...
Consider that Trent Williams is unquestionably a genetic anomaly in his own right...
...and it becomes even more impressive that Marcus Davenport was able to overpower and outmaneuver him on multiple occasions.
If only because of how much better he could be with more seasoning, 'raw' is still an accurate way to describe a player that manages to defy his size for the better on a weekly basis. With that being the case, he's raw like premium quality sushi that was rolled by an amateur chef. We're just getting a taste of the absurd things he's capable of, even if the bites are a bit inconsistent for the time being. Marcus Davenport is a project, just not the kind that requires anywhere near as much maintenance as other front offices feared.
Antonio Brown Is Being Sued For Nearly Killing A Toddler With The Furniture He Launched From His 14th Story Balcony A Day After Having $80,000 And A Gun Stolen From His Apartment
TribLive- Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown nearly struck a toddler and his grandfather with furniture thrown from a 14th-floor balcony in a rage fueled by the alleged theft of $80,000 from his closet, according to a lawsuit filed by the toddler’s family and a police report from the incident.
The incident was investigated by security personnel, who determined Brown was responsible for throwing the objects. Surveillance video also shows the objects falling from the 14th floor balcony and landing close to Amnon Sternberg and his grandfather, the suit said.
The incident apparently came a day after Brown returned to his apartment and discovered $80,000 and a handgun missing from his closet.
According to a Sunny Isles Beach police report, Brown returned home from a 10-day trip about 11:30 p.m. on April 22 and discovered the money and a 9mm-handgun missing. The money and firearm had been in a tote bag in a closet, he told police.
He said the apartment had been cleaned and his laundry put away, though he reported to police that he had not hired a cleaning service, according to the report.
Security footage showed three women identified as housekeepers entering Brown’s unit on April 13, according to the police report. The security director at the complex told police that when the housekeepers arrived that day, they contacted Brown for permission to enter the unit.
“An unknown representative” for Brown answered Brown’s phone and advised security to let the women into the apartment to clean it, according to the report.
Oh, the Pittsburgh Steelers, or - as the tabloids like to call them - the gift that keeps on giving. Honestly, you can't make this stuff up at this point. We're damn near reaching a Shameless-level of ridiculousness with these storylines, but even the dumbest and drunkest person on that show understands that your cash is as good as gone when you leave $80,000 chillin' in a tote bag around an apartment that you've, at times, granted others access to.
More importantly, when you nearly squash an infant like an insect with an end table thrown from 14 floors above, a better reasoning than "someone took advantage of my extremely shady method of money management and reckless gun storage" is probably warranted. Especially since it was spurned by a robbery that took place just days before you stumbled upon the "stolen" luxury sedan you misplaced...
All this insanely erratic behavior does explain why he spends so much time desperately maintaining his own image on Instagram, but what it doesn't do is add up to Antonio Brown being a decent person with a stable mind or a functioning memory who is grounded anywhere near reality. Not that he has to be to play under the clouds in which Mike Tomlin's head can be found, but it would probably behoove the most talented wideout in the NFL to not risk his livelihood by aimlessly grenade launching his love seat 200+ feet below into communal areas. Despite being the actual victim, literally every single plot twist in what serves as another dramatic episode of the soap opera that is the Pittsburgh Steelers' season makes their star wide receiver look bad. Missing or not, no bag of cash and firearms can buy you sympathy amongst those that actually do understand why it's frowned upon to turn your ottoman into an asteroid while living in an apartment complex.
“I have no comment about that. I know nothing about it,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during his weekly news conference Tuesday.
If we're being honest, regardless of Josh Norman delivering the first jab, I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of Michael Thomas returning a not-so-subliminal shot at a disgraced cornerback whose bark has long been bigger than his backpedal, though that's not necessarily saying all that much. I'm typically entertained by players carrying their issues with each other off the field and onto the internet, but that tweet feels a lot like punching down. Especially since the target of it, who took the "high road" by not "wasting his breath", has never been short of hot air whenever his play has actually allowed him to start huffing and puffing. To put it bluntly, one of the most dominant and trustworthy pass catching options in the entire NFL should have bigger fish to fry than the one that looked like he got caught out of water before being iced on the bench...
If anything was evident on Monday Night, it's that the Saints were going to go wherever they wanted with the ball whenever they wanted (see 26-29, 363 yards during a game in which they took their foot off the gas in the 3rd quarter). Therefore, Josh Norman's best defense against Michael Thomas - any time he happened to run a route into his particular area of the field, that is - was Drew Brees' desire to get complimentary receivers heavily involved in the offense for the first time all year. You can't guard Mike, and - even on the off-chance you could - it wouldn't be with the type of zone-reliant cornerback that gets rendered unplayable by his own coach's unspoken admission that they can't protect Josh (as evidenced below)...
It's true that Michael Thomas was "held" to a relatively pedestrian stat line (4-74) by his exceptional standards. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the guy who is one off the league lead in catches and leads the universe in catch rate wasn't feeling too bothered by how his blocking assignment was trying to bracket him...
Especially when that blocking assignment was this helpless in getting under his own damn pads...
In Front Of The Screen: Takeaways From Episode 3 Of 'Behind The Glass: New Jersey Devils Training Camp'
When I first read that the New Jersey Devils, of all teams, were doing an all-access, behind the scenes look into the inner-workings of the organization, my first thought was whether it was an idea that was forced upon the front office by ownership. Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, my first thought was "fuck yes", my second thought was to send someone to check in on the well-being of Lou Lamoriello, and my third thought was how the all-telling presence of cameras at training camp might resonant with a head coach coming off his first appearance in the NHL playoffs.
After three episodes, I can confidently say it's more likely that John Hynes pitched the damn idea to NHL Network himself than having to have been coaxed into it by someone who disproportionally prioritized the exposure. Think of how much Hard Knocks pulled back the curtain on Hue Jackson as the type of in-over-his-head head coach who's liable to find himself stuck diving into dirty bodies of water after mismanaging his way to a winless season. Behind The Glass has done just as much in portraying John Hynes as a firm-but-fair motivator of men that knows exactly what it takes to get the absolute most out of young players in guiding them above expectations.
Whether it be constantly hammering home the importance of the culture that was ever-present throughout last season, or efficiently breaking down what happened during each period, I can't imagine someone better equipped to get through to an impressionable roster. Never mind icing the best possible lineup on any given night, I'm liable to trust John Hynes as the guardian to my far-from-conceived children, whether tragedy strikes me or not. As the executive that brought on John Hynes to best position his pieces in trying to resurrect a once proud franchise, Ray Shero's self-confidence must have been reinforced more than the motif of Brotherhood throughout the filming of this show, as any questions to whether his coaching hire was the right one are honestly no longer worth answering.
I suppose it's understandable given it's importance to the success of the upcoming season, but I personally think too much was made of some potential goaltending controversy. Keith Kinkaid is clearly the Devils' last line of defense until further notice. When Cory Schneider is ready, his play will determine whether or not that changes. If he's performing up to his potential, he'll take over primary starter duties and it typically hasn't been all that hard to tell when he's not. I tend to think that, barring injury, there's still a lot of good tread on the tires of the player who is superior positionally, but - unless there is a massive systematic regression in store - I'm not all that concerned with riding the player who is debatably superior at making some saves he probably shouldn't make until the time comes to find out. Given Keith Kinkaid's carefree personality, I don't think he is either.
Blake Coleman and Pavel Zacha:
You won't find too many scenes more relatable than two dudes in their young-to-mid 20's trying to uncomfortably maneuver through unfamiliar territory. I damn near got secondhand anxiety watching them attempt an overseas order, never mind sympathizing with their disappointment when checking under the hood of their mystery sandwich to find a key ingredient missing. If nothing else, the fact that cultural uncomfortability is something that exists from Texas, to the Czech Republic, to Switzerland, and everywhere in between is comforting.
There was nothing overblown about how much chemistry played a part in the Devils success last season, that much is now obvious. I would imagine that a trip that saw them in four different countries throughout a two week span could only stand to enhance that compatibility. If the way the team embraced Nico Hischier in trying, sometimes counterproductively, to make his return to Switzerland a successful one didn't convince me of that then the way they played against the Oilers most certainly did. There's way too many unknowns and fluctuating factors to know how the season ultimately plays out, but there's plenty of reason to believe that collective complacency won't be their downfall.
I'm Pretty Sure That Eli Manning Is Now Beefing With Lil' Wayne Because Odell Beckham Is As Bad At PR As He Is Godly At Football
As a noted nitpicker of Odell Beckham's personality, I should start by saying that I don't have much of a problem with his message. Not sure I'd like the type-slick method of delivery if I were one of the other 52 guys standing on the sideline with him, but I can look past how problematic the "why?" and the "how?" are because of how accurate the "what?" was regarding the one dopey looking reason or another that his talents aren't being taken full advantage of in New York. Love him or loathe him, Odell Beckham Jr. was absolutely right about Eli Manning.
The "who?" on the other hand, is where he loses me completely. Going behind the back of the team whose quarterback situation was already decided when they inked him to a deal that pays a market resetting 19 million a season and proceeding to tip-toe around calling their two-time Super Bowl MVP a statuesque corpse with a neutered arm is such a Highly Questionable move that it's almost criminal that it didn't take place on the set of Dan Le Batard's show. Doing so while seated next to a rapper whose spent the last decade self-medicating himself into a stupor by way of cough syrup cocktails, on the other hand, is just flat out dumb.
There's simply no way to surmise that a video co-sign from Weezy Baby grades out as anything more than an 'F' in the eyes of any that's old enough to know that the brain of the celebrity spokesperson for the recreational use of liquid codeine ascended into oblivion ages ago. Odell Beckham honestly might have been taken more seriously if he gave that answer while seated next to the spiteful, shit-eating grin of Tiki Barber, so I think we can conclude that he is equally as bad of a publicist as he is great of a football player.
Like, the idea that we now have Eli Manning answering questions about Lil' Wayne midseason, and Lil' Wayne responding in kind runs so preposterously counterproductive to changing the narrative that your a dysfunction-driven diva that that it could have only been brought about the PR tactics of the millennial's millennial. Admittedly, I often think the impact of "distractions" is extremely overblown. However, even though the Giants followed up Odell's crackpot image management with their first 30-point performance since Barack Obama was President, I'm not so sure there's staying power to trying to fix your tire-fire of a team by embroiling it's quarterback in a passive aggressive pettiness war with a higher-than-high hip hop artist. Especially when said team is the same damn one that Odell Beckham Jr. signed up for when he inked his name on the dotted line in committing his future to a fatally flawed roster.
The Devils Probably Didn't Have To Go To Sweden To Reinforce Their Belief In What They Are Building In New Jersey, But They Did Just That Anyway
As someone who was fortunate enough to be in attendance (and thus extremely late on a recap), I can say that a season-opening win over the Oilers meant more as an experience than it did as a notch in the proper column of the standings. It shouldn't come as a surprise, but the outcome of Game 1 out of 82 isn't anywhere near as important as an international expedition across multiple countries that brought a couple foreign-born players to familiar grounds to further bond with teammates that were granted a whole new perspective.
That being said, the fairly lopsided final score certainly didn't do anything to damper the novelty of lacing them up overseas and putting on a show in Sweden. I think it's safe to say that the taste left in the mouthes of the Devils' players and fans wouldn't have been quite as delectable as the local meatballs if they skated off losers in the NHL's most recent installment of their Global Series, so props to them for punctuating their trip in perfect fashion.
How they managed to do so probably shouldn't be too intricately analyzed, as - again - it was just one game, but it was one game that snuffed out the cries that they didn't do enough to improve over the offseason. There seems to be this prevailing notion that last season's success is unsustainable, as everything had to go right for the Devils to scratch and claw their way onto Taylor Hall's back as he refused to be denied a playoff appearance last year. There's definitely some truth to that, but after one game we already have an indisputable piece of evidence to the contrary.
At this time last year, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac were about as present on the ice as the skill that Miles Wood displayed by backhand toe-dragging Adam Larsson across the continent, and yet they accounted for four goals on what proved to be an encouraging opening night. Speaking of Miles Wood, I don't know that the pretty primary assists he contributed in both Switzerland and Sweden were an aberration, but him not Eurotrippin' over his own two feet after holding out to start camp was a huge step in the right direction for someone who nearly notched 20 goals with zero hands last year. Add in that Will Butcher was noticeably authoritative offensively, Mirco Mueller more than held his own as Sami Vatanen's defensive partner while being pitted against the NHL equivalent of a cheat code, and neither Pavel Zacha or Damon Severson were benched by the second period, and the ways in which this year's team can potentially be better than last year's team have already started to unveil themselves.
Tragedy, in the form of a wayward puck off the crossbar, struck the jaw of the player who appeared poised to start proving he got his sophomore slump out of the way during his freshman season by having a hell of a homecoming, but even without the services of Jesper Bratt the Devils looked as though they improved internally. So much so, in fact, that it feels like overkill to even mention that his fellow countryman, Marcus Johansson, barely played enough last season to carve out a top-six role for himself in the lineup of which he just served as an ambassador.
There is approximately a zero point two percent chance that this season goes as smoothly as its international introduction, as the Devils played well above their weight class defensively, thus making their transition to offense shockingly seamless. However, starting out the season in midseason form against a team that looked like they're still knocking the rust off made all the bitching and bickering about offseason moves left unmade look about as laughably premature as this spiteful takedown of it.
Ray Shero, John Hynes, and company kind of have a clue to what they are doing. I don't know that the fruits of their labor are anywhere close to ripe, but the far-too-early prognosis is that their growth has anything but stalled. The Devils looked much better than even the most optimistic observer would have expected. If nothing else, traveling back home to a fanbase that currently has absolutely fucking nothing to complain about makes their overseas travels as much of a success on the ice as it was off, so here's to hoping their chemistry didn't get confiscated at customs. If only for one absolutely surreal and unforgettable night, it paired heavenly with their culture in, albeit temporarily, calming the concerns that not so coincidentally manage to manifest the most when there is no meaningful hockey being played.