Tuesday, December 30, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Tom Coughlin Will Return For A 12th Season

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Colonel Coughlin Will Return!

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Perry Fewell Leading Candidate To Receive Pink Slip; Tom Quinn May Follow.

The Giants have been to the playoffs five times under Tom Coughlin, but not since 2011.  In fact, this year marked the 6th time they have failed to make the playoffs in Coughlin's 11 years as head coach.

The era is now officially sandwiched by 6-10 records.  In 2004, the Giants launched with a 6-10 record in Coughlin's first season.  With last Sunday's loss to the Eagles, they matched it.

This was also their second straight losing season, and now sport a 22-26 record since winning Super Bowl XLVI.

Was Tom Coughlin the reason for the Giants inconsistent play these last few years?

If Tiki Barber were still around, he'd still be whining how Coughlin repeatedly gets out-coached.   Well, he's not around, and that's really not the Giants case.  That is why Monday morning ownership announced Tom Coughlin will be back next season (coaching in the final season of his contract that is).

For 2015, it's the right move.  The Giants usually get this right, so, we'll cross the 2016 bridge when we get to it.  However, for some of Colonel Coughlin's lieutenants, it may prove a bridge too far.

As defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell's defense routinely ranks towards the bottom of the NFL.   Their run defense should be nicknamed the Alaskan Pass, because of the six months of daylight they provide, while their confusion in the secondary often makes them look like a Keystone Cops casting call.

This season was no different.  Despite injuries, there was enough talent to at least get a more representative showing from week to week.  The real problem lies with Fewell's style itself; it's overly complicated and clearly ineffective.  We've known this for years.

Sure, he earned some credit for limiting Tom Brady and helping win a Super Bowl.  But, Aaron Ross and Corey Webster threw their coach under the bus, admitting things didn't change until Fewell abandoned his failed system in time for the (2011) playoffs.

I'll say this for Perry Fewell, he's been persistent (stubborn) with regards to that dumb layered system no one can figure out.  Alas, he spent his credit..., and now it's time for him to go.

Special teams coach Tom Quinn is also reportedly on the hot seat, and for good reason.  Like Fewell, Quinn's dismissal has been several years in the making.  For at least the last two seasons, his units have either been inconsequential, or guilty of too many questionable performances.  The loss of David Wilson certainly hindered the Giants return game.  And to his credit, Tom Quinn has been here for both Super Bowls.  I'd give him one more season, but then his assistant Larry Izzo must pay the price for him.

Who Else Should Get Big Blue Pink Slips And Who Should Stay:

While I'm still a little ambivalent regarding Ben McAdoo, the organization thinks highly of him, so, he's obviously safe.

I think Danny Langsdorf is Eli Manning's 4th QB coach?  His 3rd at least....  but at this point in Eli's career, that shouldn't matter much.  Eli otherwise actually had a very good season in Ben McAdoo's system, with Langsdorf coaching him on the side.  Danny worked with Drew Brees in his previous gig with New Orleans.  (Drew Brees and the Saints sucked this season.  Just saying....)

I've been rough on guys like Rueben Randle and Preston Parker.  But Wide Receivers coach Sean Ryan still managed to at least get improvement out of Randle.  And, as talented as Odell Beckham Jr. appears to be, a 21-year old rookie still needs a good coach teaching him.  Sean Ryan also oversaw the emergence of the salsa dancer Victor Cruz.  Truth is, Eli Manning has benefited from a quality list of receivers ever since Ryan took over as coach in 2005.  In recent years though, the deeper the Giants dipped into their depth, the more tipped balls and blown routes we witnessed, which also coincided with Eli's escalating rate of interceptions.

Kevin Gilbride Jr. is a harder coach to rate.  The tight ends coach hasn't had much to work with lately.  Second year Larry Donnell hasn't been featured much ever since his hat trick early in the season.  You could say Martellus Bennett had a good season under Gilbride.  Otherwise, there's not much to point at in his 5-year body of work, but nothing much to criticize either.

Pat Flaherty has served as the offensive line coach for all Tom Coughlin's 11 seasons.  In my opinion, he is a fine coach.  Any criticisms regarding the offensive line should be redirected at Jerry Reese; this is his mess to figure out.  And you might as well include running backs coach Craig Johnson into this mess as well.

On the other side of the ball, if Perry Fewell is on the hot seat, then defensive line coach Robert Nunn should be starting to sweat as well.  Over his six years, he's endured the departures of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Barry Cofield, etc.  But, simply put, this year's defensive line anchored by JPP (who's late season surge doesn't sway me) and Cullen Jenkins played atrociously.   They did so because of poor technique and attention to detail, over-pursuit, failure to contain, and other coaching related issues.  Time has depleted this unit, but this coach brings nothing to the table.

Jim Herrmann is the linebackers coach, and perhaps the most inconsequential coach of the bunch. Jerry Reese's treatment of the position makes this so.  At the same time, Jim Herrmann has largely failed to inspire guys like Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jacquian Williams, Kieth Rivers, Spencer Paysinger, etc., to higher levels of play.  They almost had a keeper with the now defunct Jon Beason, but rookie Devon Kennard actually looks like a real deal linebacker.

Coaches Peter Giunta (corners) and Dave Merritt (safeties) are okay in my book.  Like Pat Flaherty and Sean Ryan, they've been here for both Super Bowl runs.  What issues I have with the secondary largely revolve around Perry Fewell's system.

Coaches that should be given a Big Blue boot:

  • Perry Fewell
  • Robert Leonard (Defensive Assistant)
  • Robert Nunn
  • Jim Herrmann
  • Larry Izzo (Special Teams Assistant)

UPDATE:  just learned Danny Langsdorf has taken the offensive coordinators job at Nebraska.


Monday, December 29, 2014

N.Y. Jets: Rex's Last Stand

From the desk of:  WALT MICHAELS' REVENGE

New York Jets: Woody Johnson Dropped The Hammer; Announces The End Of D-Generation Rex.

The top five reasons Rex Ryan is no longer head coach of the Jets are Bret Favre, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Michael Vick, and Geno Smith.

Next on the list are two bean counters hired as general managers.

Further down the list: talking Braylon Edwards away from Marc Sanchez, trading Darrelle Revis - losing both Revis and Antonio Cromartie without bringing in competitive replacements, and Rex's overall disconnect with the offense.

So what happened?

Rex took Eric Mangini's and Mike Tannenbaum's team to another level with back to back AFC championship game appearances.  Then ground and pound lost its juice, Mark Sanchez regressed, personnel decisions failed to keep pace, and Geno Smith has yet to satisfactorily fill the position as the next, next guy (no matter what you think of his performance against Miami).

After Mike Tannenbaum was fired, you might say GM John Idzik effectively conspired against his head coach - the one forced upon him by Woody Johnson.  That right there was a recipe for disaster. Idzik wound up hoarding tons of salary cap money, and entered office already predisposed to firing Ryan after the 2014 season no matter what.

John Idzik also had 12 draft selections at his disposal last draft, and exhibited absolutely no creativity with them, not to mention, that in a draft rich in wide receivers, Idzik couldn't pick one.

On that note, Eric Decker and Geno Smith waited till Rex Ryan's final game to have their best days as Jets.

John Idzik most definitely needed to get fired.  Maybe this will finally clear the air traffic over the Jets practice facility.

Rex Ryan?  I'm not so sure.  Yes, he had his flaws, but his strengths were clear.

There's no escaping however, a team in regression screamed for changes.

Woody Johnson did the right thing.  Now he just needs to make better decisions.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014; Football Sunday - Week Seventeen


Football Sunday
Week Seventeen

On Vacation 
Week Sixteen

Week Sixteen Record:  3-8
Overall Record:  100-92-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-8
BAGELS in the Basket:  +2

Coin Toss:
  • Chargers vs. Chiefs - Chargers in the playoffs with a win.  Chiefs need a win and losses by the Ravens or Texans to make playoffs.
1st and 10:
  • With a combined 12-17-1 record, the winner of today's Falcons/Panthers game wins the NFC South.
2nd and Long:
  • Ravens, Texans, Chiefs, Chargers = win or else!
  • Dolphins and Bills get this year's nice try award.
No Gain:
  • Saints/Falcons/Panthers - the NFC South - Good Grief!
  • 49ers - biggest surprise non-playoff contender.
  • Texans season - huge disappointment despite a chance to make playoffs.
  • The Browns and Johnny Football... Could he be the next Ryan Leaf?
  • The Eagles started the season with a 9-3 record, then failed to qualify for the playoffs!

Week Seventeen:
Friday Line ~ NYDN

GIANTS -2 1/2 (Eagles)
Because winning today would only add to the Giants false sense of hope.  A loss would make the off-season much easier to digest.
Loss; 34-26 Eagles

Jets +5 1/2 (DOLPHINS)
I'm giving the Jets the benefit of the doubt in Rex Ryan's potential last game as head coach.  Do I actually like them to win?  Despite not qualifying for the post-season, the Dolphins play the Jets extremely tough.  Bet with caution.
Win; 37-24 Jets

PACKERS -7 1/2 (Lions)
No harm here, so go with the Packers in cold Green Bay.
Win; 30-20 Lions

TEXANS -9 1/2 (Jaguars)
As one of the more desperate teams playing today, the Texans have no choice but to win.
Loss; 23-17 Texans

Colts -7 (TITANS)
The Titans are motivated to get a high draft pick, if not the top pick of next year's draft.  Just lose baby!
Win; 27-10 Colts

RAVENS -10 (Browns)
I called Captain Obvious, but he didn't answer the phone.  Guess he was out partying with Johnny Football.
Push; 20-10 Ravens

PATRIOTS -4 1/2 (Bills)
Tricky game...  Bill Belechick doesn't usually pull starters from the field.  Look for a full Patriots squad today.
Loss; 17-9 Bills

FALCONS -4 (Panthers)
The Panthers should be embarrassed of themselves.  The Falcons have lost when they could least afford to, but won the games they had to.
Loss; 34-3 Panthers

VIKINGS -6 (Bears)
When the ineffective Jay Cutler is the biggest story of this match-up, the smart money goes on the opposition.
Loss; 13-9 Vikings

Chargers +3 (CHIEFS)
It's no easy task heading into K.C. and winning.  Three points to the home team means this game is a toss-up.  I'll go with Phillip Rivers.
Loss; 19-7 Chiefs

Cowboys -6 (D.C. Hogs)
Captain Obvious finally called me back.  He said the D.C. Hogs should offer no contest.  But, does Tony Romo play?
Win; 44-17 Cowboys

Saints -4 (BUCS)
It would serve the Saints right to lose today.  But this is the Bucs we're talking about.
Loss; 23-20 Saints

Rams +12 1/2 (SEAHAWKS)
The Rams played tough all season.  They won't let up now.  I like them to cover.
Loss; 20-6 Seahawks

Cardinals +6 (49ERS)
Their coach is being pushed out the door, the team is generally dejected after being eliminated from playoff contention, and they're starting to rethink Colin Kaepernick.  A loss would actually lend clarity in San Fran.  And, I'm sure the Cards want to rub it in, even if they start their 3rd string QB.  Defense!
Win; 20-17 49ers

BRONCOS -14 (Raiders)
Peyton and the Broncos need to get back on track.  They will want to execute as best they can today.
Win; 47-14 Broncos

STEELERS -4 (Bengals)
I'm thinking Big Ben magic here.  The Bengals won't get enough pressure on him, which means that big gooch is gonna rumble and stumble, and win this game late.
Win; 27-17 Steelers

Schmear of the Week:
Cowboys -6

This concludes the regular season.  Thanks to all of you who rode the Sunday Football Trolley.  I hope your BAGELS were hot, soft, and plentiful.

Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday!

Week Seventeen Record:  7-8-1
Final Regular Season Record:  107-100-5
Schmear of the Week:  8-8
BAGELS in the Basket:  +3


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Devils vs. Rangers; Battle of the Hudson - II

From the desks of:

Battle of the Hudson - II


New Jersey Devils
33rd Street at 8th Avenue

New Jersey Devils: Lou Lamoriello Weilds His Ax; Coach Peter DeBoer Fired.

When you own a track record like Lou Lamoriello's, it's hard to question his judgment.  The architect of 3 Stanley Cup champions and 2 more Eastern Conference champions, sharpened his ax again, and this time swung it at coach Peter DeBoer.

That makes 16 head coaching changes by Lou Lamoriello since he took office in 1987.  Jacques Lemaire served as coach on three different occasions, and Lamoriello twice put himself behind the bench before settling on a replacement.

I liked DeBoer; I thought he was a good coach, and feel he was more a victim of Lamoriello's recent poor drafting, poor cap management, which of course led to his failure to retain key players.

Look no further than at the team's present reliance on Jarimir Jagr.  He is the poster boy for an old, slow, and otherwise injured team.

That's on the GM, not DeBoer.

The mumps have also come knocking on the Devils locker room doors, only adding to their troubles this season.

A furious stretch run and an appearance in the Cup Finals against the Kings perhaps overshadowed the true need to start reshaping the roster.

On that note, the Devils are in the midst of their 4th straight poor start, and have failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons.

Lou Lamoriello will once again place himself behind the bench tonight when the Rangers host the Devils at MSG.   However, assisting him will be Adam Oates (who will be charged with the forwards) and Scott Stevens (who will be charged with the defense).

Lamoriello's said this will be a short term plan.

After getting off to their own sluggish start, the Rangers appear settled in.  They will be looking to extend their winning streak to eight games tonight.


Friday, December 26, 2014

N.Y. Mets: Putting a bow on Mets Year 12 A.D. (after Doubleday)

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Near future threatens more of the same.

NEW YORK METS: Welcome back initiates, it's almost time for the Saul B. Katz Dilemma to usher in Year 13 A.D. (after Doubleday).

For the unlearned, welcome to Head-Butting Mr. Met.  Here's your definition of terms:
  • Twelve years ago, roughly around this time, the partnership between Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon was officially dissolved.  Mr. Wilpon purchased the outgoing Nelson Doubleday's half-share of the team,  On his way out of the building, Nelson Doubleday derisively prophesied Fred and Jeff Wilpon would run the organization into the ground.
  • Thus began what this blog has long dubbed the Age of WILPONianism.  Today is Day 4.384 on the Wilponic Calendar, in the Year 12 A.D. (after Doubleday).  
  • A brother-in-law, their outside businesses, Madoff, their Mets partnership, losing money, losing more money, and his nephew Jeff, all conspired together to create the...The Saul B. Katz Dilemma.  In other words, poor Saul is in a real bind.  He probably really does want to sell his share, but doesn't have the heart to follow through.

Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid

My (short) version of the truth goes something like this: 

Doubleday and Wilpon argued over Shea Stadium.   Doubleday wanted to renovate the old park while Wilpon wanted to build a new one.  Doubleday's point of contention was they couldn't afford it. The partnership ultimately failed in large part (because Doubleday grew to hate his partner's guts) due to too much organizational infighting.

For Doubleday's 50% share of the team, Wilpon had to cough up $100 million up front, and pay him the remaining $35 million over a few years.  At the same time, Steve Phillips got fired, and left behind a last place team with the highest payroll in the N.L.

This is the true launching point of the Mets financial woes because Fred clearly bit off more than he could chew.  I'm mean really now, Bobby Bonilla is still on the payroll!

In no great surprise to anyone, the next GM, Jim Duquette, was ordered to cease spending.

Enter Omar Minaya, who convinced ownership to reopen the wallet.  It made $ense.  At the same time ownership was seeking financing for a new stadium and was promising the banks yearly attendance of 3.5 million per season.

Citi Field was eventually built, and opened in 2009.  Then, the Bernie Madoff bomb landed on Flushing.  Beyond the financial disaster, Mets fans found out how their team was really being operated.

Needless to say, the team tanked, and attendance dropped for five straight years before experiencing a slight uptick last season.

Along the way, they amassed upwards of $1 billion dollars of debt.

...all common knowledge.

Now for something very disturbing I read back in September.  It paints a very duplicitous picture of the Mets present condition; a very worrisome perspective to say the least (for us fans that is).

Just read it.

Prior to the season, ownership once again managed to refinance (defray) $250 million that was due in 2014, for another seven years.  In June of 2015, they have another (little spoken of) $600 million due to SNY.

Can yet another refinancing be in the works?  Last year's slight uptick in attendance just might call off the dogs.  And why not?  They've been extremely friendly to ownership this far.  If the Mets can turn a profit, they can repay lenders, right?  The other side of that is, if the Mets fail to start turning a profit, banks might start worrying about the Mets ability to pay up, and start demanding their salad.

The question remains - who really controls spending - the banks, SNY, or the Wilpons (and poor Saul Katz)?

Even after salary arbitration settlements are made, the Mets 2015 payroll should still wind up within the 90s (million) range.  But in two more years, the Mets arbitration figures will begin to multiply.  It will be interesting to see how they budget that scenario.

For now, ownership's spending is marginally above their previously stripped down levels.  While a few players have come and gone, the club is still generally redistributing the same money.

Organizationally, and operationally, it seems to me the next few years are already being leveraged, so I expect much of the same.

Speaking of more of the same, that's exactly what we got in 2014.

In the twelve completed seasons of the WILPONian era, the Mets now sport a 947-996 record (.487%), which averages out to a 79-83 record - exactly their record in 2014.

For the 8th time in twelve seasons, and for the 6th season in a row, the Mets finished below the .500 mark.  That leaves a balance of four winning seasons, and just one playoff appearance during Wilpon Family ownership.

Bring your kiddies; bring your wife.......


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: No More Mr. Nice Guy - Rick Nash


18-10-4; 3rd Place, Metropolitan Division

NEW YORK RANGERS: Dear Columbus, thank you for the attitude adjustment!

On October 11th, the Rangers went into Columbus and pretty much got manhandled during a 5-2 loss.  It was only the Rangers 2nd game of the season.

Several Columbus players tried taking their liberties against the former Blue Jacket Rick Nash that night, until the Rangers 3rd year forward finally found it time, not just to defend himself, but to lash out.

Nash took particular exception with Blue Jacket goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Matt Calvert.

After scoring a pair of goals on opening night, he punctuated his raucous evening in Columbus with a 3rd period goal.

The Blue Jackets most definitely poked the bear that night, and the Rangers are still benefiting.  More importantly, that game in effect unleashed the total package Rangers fans thought they were acquiring three years ago.

Rick Nash's attitude appears correct - fixed.  He even snarls a lot more as his overall disposition on the ice is measurably nastier (for him).

Since that game in October, and maybe even with the memories of last season's Stanley Cup failure still haunting him, Nash has thrown his 6'4" 220 lbs. body around very effectively.  His physicality, speed, and skills are all now in sync.

In his 1st season as a Ranger, Nash scored 21 goals in 44 games.  Last season he scored 26 goals in 65 games.

With two goals Tuesday night against the Capitals, Rick Nash now has 22 goals on the season to lead the Eastern Conference.  He is 2nd in the NHL behind Dallas' Tyler Seguin's 25 goals.

And, his 22 goals have come in just 32 games played.

Nash also added an assist against the Caps to give him 36 points this season.  Last season, Nash had 39 points all season. With just 13 assists, that ranked a pathetic 6th on the team behind Mats Zuccarello's Blueshirt leading 59 points.  Nash already has 13 assists this season.

Not incidentally, the Rangers have now won seven straight games.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Sixteen


Football Sunday
Week Sixteen

On Vacation 
Week Fifteen

Week Fifteen Record:  8-5-1
Overall Record:  97-84-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-7
BAGELS in the Basket:  +10

Coin Toss:
  • ...winner of the AFC North; what a great race.
  • ...winner of the NFC South; what a horrific race.
1st and 10:
  • Patriots, Broncos, and Colts have all clinched division titles.  The Cardinals are the only NFC team to clinch a playoff spot.
2nd and Long:
  • Ravens, Steelers, Seahawks, and Packers, hold the Wild Cards.
No Gain:
  • Nice melt down against the Chargers; a year after reaching the Super Bowl, no playoffs for San Francisco.
  • Bad Mark Sanchez showed up just in time on Saturday to ruin the Eagles season.
  • This could very well be Rex Ryan's final home game as head coach of the Jets.  Meanwhile, another plane flew over Jets practice last week.  Hilarious!  Fire John Idzik.

Week Sixteen:
Friday Line ~ NYDN

RAMS -6 1/2 (Giants)
This defense will give the Giants offensive line trouble.  Eli better be careful.
Loss; 37-27 Giants

Patriots -10 1/2 (JETS)
because Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would love nothing more than to drive a stake right through Rex Ryan's heart.  That's how they do.
Loss; 17-16

DOLPHINS -7 (Vikings)
The Fish are still playing for an outside chance to make the playoffs.
Loss; 37-35

Packers -11 (BUCS)
Piece of cake (famous last words).  This will be the Packers last opportunity to play in such fine weather.  They'll make the most of it.
Win; 20-3 Packers

SAINTS -6 (Falcons)
Both teams should be shamed of themselves.  The Saints suck less.
Loss; 30-14 Falcons

STEELERS -3 (Chiefs)
Do or die time for the Steelers, so I like the atmosphere in Pittsburgh this weekend.
Win; 20-12 Steelers

Browns +3 (PANTHERS)
In the immortal words of Billy Joel - Don't Ask Me Why.
Loss; 17-13 Panthers

Ravens -5 (TEXANS)
Because that's what defending Super Bowl champions do.
Loss; 25-13 Texans

Bills -6 1/2 (RAIDERS)
The Bills are surging.  The Raiders are still a bad team.
Loss; 26-24 Raiders

COWBOYS -3 (Colts)
Behind their offensive line, I like Dallas' ability to control the clock.  Without Ahmad Bradshaw, the Colts can't do the same.  In fact, I can see Tony Romo having a great day, and Luck getting picked off a few times.
Win; 42-7

CARDINALS +8 (Seahawks)
The Cardinals still field a stout defense, and Russell Wilson hasn't been the QB he was last season.  I like the Cardinals to cover the spread at home.
Loss; 35-6 Seahawks

Schmear of the Week:
Bills -6 1/2

I totally forgot the Bears/Lions game.  oh well... (I would have picked the Lions). Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday everybody!

Week Sixteen Record:  3-8
Overall Record:  100-92-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-8
BAGELS in the Basket:  +2


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Can't Hang With The Eastern Conference's Best

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

It's Gotta be The Shoes..

BROOKLYN NETS: Losing Is One Thing; Continually Getting Run Out Of The Building Is Another...

The final score in Brooklyn's loss in Toronto's was 105-89; a 16-point disparity.

Working out way back, their game against Chicago on December 10th ended 105-80 in the Bulls favor.  On Dec 8th, the Nets lost to Cleveland by a 110-88 final.  On December 5th, they fell by a 98-75 final to Atlanta.  Against Chicago on November 30th, they lost by a 102-84 margin.

Back on November 22nd, they fell 99-87 to the San Antonio Spurs.  It was then Coach Popovich paid nothing but complimentary words to Coach Hollins' Nets.

The fact remains, in the Nets last 6 losses they've been outscored 619-503, which works out to an average of 19.2 points per game.

All 5 teams presently own winning records.

The Nets do not.  They are now 1-9 against teams playing above the .500 mark.

If you didn't watch the Nets take on the Raptors, don't worry, you've seen that act before.  They got outscored 56-44 in the paint, and by a 14-4 margin on fast-break points.

Just saying....

The Nets continue to play without Brook Lopez, who might (might!) return this weekend when the Nets host the Pistons.

In his absence, Deron Williams leads the team with 16.4 ppg, and 6.9 assists per game.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Fifteen


Football Sunday
Week Fifteen

On Vacation 
Week Fourteen

Week Fourteen Record:  8-5-1
Overall Record:  89-79-3
Schmear of the Week:  6-7
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5

Coin Toss:

Whether obnoxious rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel wins his NFL debut.

1st and Ten:

The Eagles and Cowboys clash for sole possession of 1st place in the NFC East.

2nd and Short:

With Pittsburgh and Baltimore right up their ass, the Bengals have no room for error.

No Gain:

Vegas has lost respect for the 49ers.


There's only one team with 11 victories; the Cardinals.  Yet, there are five teams with 2-11 records; the Raiders, Jets, Titans, Jaguars, and Buccaneers.  However, my vote for worst organization still goes to the D.C. Hogs.

Week Fifteen:
Friday Line - NYDN

GIANTS -6 1/2 (D.C. Hogs)
The Giants are going to look brilliant..., because the game is inconsequential!
WIN; 24-13 Giants

Jets -2 (TITANS)
Despite all their troubles this season, there's still talent on the Jets.  The Titans are a good opponent to play Ground and Pound against.
WIN; 16-11 Jets

Raiders +10 (CHIEFS)
Coach Spano's football exorcism seems to be finally paying off.  All of a sudden the Raiders wanna win games.  I like them to cover.
Loss; 31-13 Chiefs

RAVENS -13 1/2 (Jaguars)
Captain Obvious gave me a dirty look.
Loss; 20-12 Ravens

Steelers -2 1/2 (FALCONS)
The Falcons can afford to lose because their division sucks.  The Steelers need to play more desperately.
WIN; 28-20 Steelers

COLTS -6 1/2 (Texans)
The Texans aren't fooling me.  They'll remind everyone what an inconsistent team they are.
WIN; 17-10 Colts

Bengals +1 (BROWNS)
Heeeeere's Johnny!  You'd think the Bengals can do enough to confuse this disillusioned kid, right?
WIN; 30-0 Bengals

PATRIOTS -7 1/2 (Dolphins)
The Pats will get revenge for Week One!
WIN; 41-13 Patriots

Bucs +3 (PANTHERS)
The Bucs get a bone because a bad Panthers season that got worse just spun out of control.
WIN; 19-17 Panthers

Packers -5 (BILLS)
I thought longer than usual about this match-up; maybe too long.  I like the Cheese Heads by a touchdown.
Loss; 21-13 Bills

LIONS -7 1/2 (Vikings)
This might be giving the Lions too much respect.  C'mon Megatron..., I'm counting on you!
Loss; 16-14 Lions

Broncos -4 (CHARGERS)
Four points smells like freshly baked bread.
WIN; 22-10 Broncos

49ers +10 (SEAHAWKS)
Vegas obviously does not believe in rising-up to face a rival.  Ten points is hard to turn down.
PUSH; 17-7 Seahawks

EAGLES -3 1/2 (Cowboys)
I'd stay away from this one.  Pondering Mark Sanchez against Tony Romo hurts my brain.
Loss; 38-27 Cowboys

Schmear of the Week:
Giants -6 1/2

Good Luck and have a Happy Football Sunday!

Post Game:
Week Fifteen Record:  8-5-1
Overall Record:  97-84-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-7
BAGELS in the Basket:  +10


Friday, December 12, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Working The Phones Is Code For Trouble

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Flatbush Hoops Snap Three Game Skid

Friday Night Final
76ers    70
NETS   88

BROOKLYN NETS: Coach Hollins Deftly Points Out All The Cracks In Billy King's Castle.

The Nets previous two seasons in Brooklyn have taught us it takes roughly 2 months in order for this team to right itself.

Twenty games into the Lionel Hollins era, the trend is holding true.  The question remains however, can they play themselves out of this funk once January arrives?

They entered Friday's action having lost three straight, all by at least 20-point margins.

If you've listened to Lionel Hollins lately (who seemingly took a cue from Phil Jackson), he flatly states the Nets are not a good team (for the moment at least) despite Greg Popovich's recent words of encouragement.

Hollins has been brutally honest when it comes to discussing the team and their shortcomings.  While I find it somewhat refreshing, it is at the same time worrisome because that tact quickly wears thin - just ask Avery Johnson.

The man also certainly knows the game, which, combined with his frankness, makes his post-game analysis a fascinating listen.

If anyone should be taking his words to heart, it should be the general manager.

While the Nets were busy Wednesday night losing to the Bulls, their general manager traded Andrei Kirilenko to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Was that the first bottle rocket in what could become a greater fireworks show over Flatbush?  Recent scuttlebutt says Billy King is ready to blow up this core group of players, or, is open to the idea.

As Billy King put it before Friday's game against the Sixers, his job is to work the phones.

Good answer.

My question is, when does it become time to protect this team from Billy King himself?

Despite the huge sums of money spent on salary and luxury taxes, for a third consecutive regular season the Nets are failing to distinguish themselves as one of the NBA's top teams, or even within the Eastern Conference, or even within a pathetically weak Atlantic Division.

In what is now a trend, Wednesday's loss to the Bulls made the Nets just 1-8 against teams with a winning record.  That's right in line with their previous two seasons.  As one series victory in two playoff appearances might also suggest, the Nets have merely been among the best of the rest.

If rumors hold true, then Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez, the most expensive trio in the NBA, are on the block.

Joe Johnson perhaps has provided Billy King the most bang for his buck.  Deron Williams battled injuries and has largely underachieved since coming to the Nets, while Brook Lopez just can't manage to stay on the floor.  Good luck moving those contracts.

In their defense, the much maligned core-3 has been forced to adapt to a continually revolving cast of supporting players and four head coaches in just over two year's time.

Overall, the slow and plodding (and old) teams Billy King has assembled clearly struggle against younger, more athletic teams.  They continually get victimized by fast-breaks; they fail to defend the paint; and routinely get outworked on the glass.

Even should Billy Kind ratchet up the trade mill, there's little he can do to replenish all the draft picks he traded away for years to come.  So, if the present seems dark, the future doesn't appear much brighter.

If any of this seems in conflict with Friday night's victory over the Sixers, I respectfully remind you, it was the Sixers.  Next Wednesday they face the Toronto Raptors; a far greater measure.

To date, however, what's done is done.

In order to endorse Billy King's continuance, we must ignore:

  • a severely compromised draft for several years to some.
  • salary cap and luxury tax hell.
  • per Joe Johnson (paraphrasing), a group of individuals playing selfish ball.
  • per Deron Williams (paraphrasing), unlike the Nets, the Bulls have benefited from consistency and continuity with regards to their roster and coaching.
  • on that note, four Nets head coaches in less than three seasons.
  • two unimpressive playoff appearances.
January is soon coming, maybe then Old Acquaintance be forgot.


N.Y. Knicks: In Search Of A Miracle On 34th Street

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

There Will Be No Miracles On 34th Street This Season

NEW YORK KNICKS: Taking A Bite Of A Rotting Apple...

I knew the Knicks would be bad this season, but even this is a little more than I anticipated.  They've already managed to post the franchise's worst start over the first 20 games of a season, and realistically have little to no hope of a getting this campaign turned around.

(...unless you're playing for extra ping pong balls, which then makes sucking a good thing.  So yes, at this rate there's always the draft to look forward to.)

The Knicks present losing streak is now up to ten games.  Their last victory came on November 22nd against the lowly Sixers.  And I'm sure you remember, earlier in November they lost seven straight.

They'll look to snap their streak this evening against Boston.

At the first quarter turn of the season, Phil Jackson rightfully accused his team of having a loser's mentality, and pointed out that certain players are still not buying into the system.

Words never rang more true.

The Knicks literally look like an uncommitted team attempting a triangle offense in a round building named Madison Square Garden.  That's screwy geometry for a team that has more problems than a math book.

(...but deep down inside, dontcha think Phil wants this team to get worse before he tries earning more ping pong balls making it better?)

I can't say the cumulative effect of losing this season has finally gotten players openly at odds with each other because last season that was Tyson Chandler's forte.  Tim Hardaway Jr. was only the latest (of the boldest) to challenge Carmelo Anthony's eminence.

That said, I hold a belief: once is an occurrence, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend.

In successive seasons, Melo failed to mesh with Jeremy Lin; Melo couldn't get along with Tyson Chandler; and most recently, Tim Hardaway Jr. felt compelled to share his displeasure with Melo.

I also have no doubt others found/find life in Melo's world difficult to negotiate.  Amare Stoudemire has perhaps exercised the most tact in voicing his opinion.

The media has largely tip-toed around Melo since his arrival in New York.  Isolation, Melo Ball, the star system, et al, have surely been discussed and criticized from time to time.  But, fortunately for Melo there have always been multiple angles with which to debate the state of the Knicks.  And with the hiring of Phil Jackson, an extension on patience was also in order.  With the recent Melo/Hardaway flare-up, however, the media finally feels inclined to make Melo's perceived acidic existence in New York a topical subject.

I hold Carmelo Anthony accountable for none of this.  I place any and all blame on James Dolan for trampling over Donnie Walsh in a desperate effort to win the Melo sweepstakes (and then essentially firing Walsh).

The present state of the Knicks stems from that very moment, with Carmelo Anthony at the center of a rotten core.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: O.T. Win Failed To Cure The Blues


207 - 0 - 4
(weight - big hits - points)

NEW YORK RANGERS: I'm unhappy, therefore I am.

We're just about a third of the way through the season, and I can't smell what management is cookin'.

The Flyers didn't seem to pose a problem.  And apparently, the Rangers seem to have the Penguins number.  But if this team wants to go far, they'll need to get through Tampa, and Boston, and even the Islanders.

The Rangers can hang around with the competition, but to a certain extent.

So far, Martin St. Louis has arguably been the Rangers best all around forward; Rick Nash is up to 18 goals for the season; and they're even getting inspired play out of Kevin Klein.

Otherwise, I'm seeing a preponderance of yawn inspiring play.

Overall, the blue liners have played piss poor transitional hockey, and generally speaking, it seems as if there have been more defensive breakdowns this season than in recent seasons combined.

Kevin Klein's game winning goal is an obvious aberration, as the Rangers have benefited very little from their defensive scoring.  Klein has twice as many goals as the rest of his blue line mates combined; Dan Boyle (2 goals) and Dan Girardi are the only two other defenders to find net this season.

Even since before his injury, Ryan McDonagh has not played up to his own standards, while Marc Staal has played all 26 games this season and averages 22 minutes a game, but has only registered 4 assists.

I'm not necessarily targeting Marc Staal, but maybe if he threw his body around more often (or at all) the Rangers need not go into overtime against the Penguins.

I'll take that a step further: maybe if Montreal does not eliminate Boston from last season's playoffs, we have an entirely different perspective of this team.

I digress.

As a team, they're only playing 40-minutes of hockey on any given night, which is a problem considering they are not nearly as relentless in their offensive zone as, say, Tampa, Boston, or even the Islanders (...much less the Los Angeles Kings,etc.).  When you get right down to it, those are the only teams that potentially matter.

While I'm at it - Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin..., Hello?

In truth, I still don't know what kind of club Alain Vigneault is trying to run.

I do know the Rangers are bland and clearly lack salt.

But that's on Glen Sather.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: 25 Years After Princess Di's Visit, We Welcome The Duke and Duchess of Flatbush

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

In 1989, Princess Diana visited the
Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Tonight, Kings County welcomes back her son and his wife,
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,
Prince William and Kate Middleton

"Welcome Back..., to that same old place that you laughed about."

BROOKLYN NETS: Coach Popvich Said Be Patient, That The Nets Will Become A Conference Force.  He's Friggin Hysterical Isn't He?

Just when it appeared as if he was playing his way out of Coach Hollins' doghouse, Brook Lopez is hurt again.  But, this time his lower back is barking.  Thankfully, his foot bone is still connected to the ankle bone....  Whew!

He'll certainly miss tonight's game against King James, with Prince William and Princess Kate in attendance.  Reports say he'll miss a week.

In the mean time, remember when Milwaukee (the youngest team in the league) started two teenagers, and outscored the Nets 58-54 in the paint, and outpaced them 16-9 on fast-breaks during an overtime victory on Brooklyn's turf?

That was 8 games ago, I know.  But the Nets effort against the Hawks reminded me.

Know why the Nets beat the Spurs?  Because San Antonio is old, and somewhat just as plodding.

In the Nets defense, Coach Popovich had nothing but praise for Coach Hollins and the team, even saying Brooklyn would be a conference force by Spring.


So far, the Nets are 1-7 against .500 teams or better, which makes them 7-3 against the rest of their early   competition.  Their 8-10 record has allowed them to loiter in 2nd place of a very weak Atlantic Division.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 11-7 this season; not a juggernaut by any stretch.

Perhaps with Brook Lopez out, the Nets can speed up the tempo of tonight's game.

Above all, pay attention to detail..., ok?  Don't embarrass yourselves tonight.  The Royal Family has been very good to this Borough.  So Don't Mess It Up.

And don't let LeBron James orchestrate a royal show on the court of Flatbush.

This is Kings County, not his county!


Sunday, December 07, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Fourteen


Football Sunday
Week Fourteen

On Vacation 
Week Thirteen

Week Thirteen:  8-7
Overall Record:  81-74-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-6
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5

Coin Toss:

Flip this!  When you lose to the Jags, and you're PK against the Titans, it means a major rebuilding is in order, Sir.

1st and Ten:

Don't look now, but the Cardinals hold on 1st place (NFC West) is slipping fast.  A loss Sunday, and a Seahawks win ties them for the division lead.  

With the Falcons playing in Green Bay Monday night, the Saints appear poised to take sole possession of 1st place in the NFC South.

2nd and Short:

Miami and Buffalo in the AFC East, and Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland in the AFC North, all enter Sunday tied for 2nd place.

No Gain:

The Ravens lost DT Haloti Ngata for the season (suspended) after testing hot for banned stuff.


Rex Ryan's time in New York is growing shorter.

Week Fourteen:
Friday Line ~ NYDN

Giants PK (TITANS)
As a Giants fan, I really have little to say, particularly after last week's loss to the Jaguars.
WIN; 36-7 Giants

Jets +6 (VIKINGS)
I'll take the 6-points; thank you very much.  The Vikings are a good match-up for the Jets.  I think Rex Ryan's Ground and Pound will enjoy its one and only day in the sun.
PUSH; 30-24 Vikings  O.T.

DOLPHINS -3 (Ravens)
We're about to find out how much losing DT Haloti Ngata will affect the Ravens.
Loss; 28-13 Ravens

BENGALS -3 (Steelers)
This is one of those games that makes you second-guess the Bengals: they're winners of three in a row, they can solidify their hold on 1st place with another victory; and they're playing at home - all the ingredients for a colossal let-down.
Loss; 42-21 Steelers

Colts -3 1/2 (BROWNS)
I just know Vegas is begging everyone to take the Colts knowing the Browns can ruin even the best laid plans.  I'm taking the sucker's bet too.
Loss; 25-24 Colts

Texans -6 (JAGUARS)
The Jaguars have been busy partying well after defeating the Giants.  Did they practice?
WIN; 27-13 Texans

SAINTS -9 1/2 (Panthers)
The Panthers are perfect opponents to make the Saints look like Super Bowl contenders again (if just for a day).
Loss; 41-10 Panthers

LIONS -10 (Bucs)
While I do not foresee the Bucs generating much against Detroit's defense, the Lions offense really makes you wonder.
WIN; 34-17 Lions

Rams - 2 1/2 (D.C. HOGS)
The situation in Washington is laughable.
WIN; 24-0 Rams

Bills +10 (BRONCOS)
If Buffalo's front four can manage some pressure by themselves, the Bills might cover this.
WIN; 24-17 Broncos

CARDINALS -1 (Chiefs)
The Cards have lost two straight, and are desperate for a win.  Drew Stanton had enough practice; time to make some plays.
WIN; 17-14 Cardinals

49ers -8 (RAIDERS)
Where the hell did Vegas get "8" from?  Do they expect a safety?  Eight?
Loss; 24-13 Raiders

Seahawks +1 (EAGLES)
Mark Sanchez has been making me eat my words, but I refuse to trust him.
WIN; 24-14 Seahawks

Patriots -3 1/2 (CHARGERS)
Did you see the way Tom Brady was launching f-bombs all over the sidelines last game?  Let's just say I like the Pats coming off a disappointing loss.
WIN; 23-14 Patriots

Schmear of the Week:
49ers -8

Gutten Appetit: Brisket and baby back ribs; roasted red potatoes; garlic roasted corn on the cob; homemade onion rings; baked beans and side salads.  What's on your Football Sunday menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone!

Post Game:
Week Fourteen Record:  8-5-1
Overall Record:  89-79-3
Schmear of the Week:  6-7
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5


Saturday, December 06, 2014

N.Y. Islanders: Garth Snow's Critics Laying Low


N.Y.I.   19-7-0    38 points
N.Y.R.  11-9-4    26 points
N.J.D.   10-12-4  24 points

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: In his eighth season as general manager, Garth Snow might be the metropolitan area's junior executive next to Lou Lamoriello and Glen Sather, but he's presently doing the best job.

Although Garth Snow inevitably came up empty in the Matt Moulson trade, no one is harping about Thomas Vanek these days (unless you're a bookie that is).

At the time, the previous year's playoff series against the Penguins left many greatly anticipating the team taking another giant step forward in 2013-2014.

However, the team had obvious shortcomings on defense and in net.  Not only did the trade delete John Tavares' popular line mate, Vanek addressed neither issue, which caused many fans to find a place on the fence.

We know Snow's gamble failed to pay off.  The Islanders were unable to overcome a poor start, and did not qualify for last season's playoffs, and Thomas Vanek moved on to sign a free agent deal elsewhere.

In a different town; a different situation; perhaps the net-gain zero trade of a very popular player, and failure to make the playoffs adds to unemployment figures.  However, the continuing post-Milbury reconstruction under Charles Wang has been a very forgiving process.

If nothing else, Garth Snow showed some poblanos, chalking the trade up to - nothing ventured; nothing gained.

Fair enough.

To that point, Snow had already put together a young, fast, and physical team, that was capable of scoring with consistency.  Perhaps a chance to retain a veteran player of Vanek's caliber was worth a shot.   As an impending free agent himself, it would have been far more difficult to maximize a return on Matt Moulson through another team, lest we forget Buffalo was the NHL's most highly motivated seller.

Then what?

This last off-season, Garth Snow very smartly shored up his defense, and vastly upgraded his goalie situation.

For the moment, perhaps no single acquisition indeed shines more brilliantly than goalie Jaroslav Halak.  In exchange for a 4th round draft pick, I'd say Garth Snow did well.

In Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Senators, Halak, 29, earned a franchise record 11th straight victory, breaking the mark set in 1982 by Billy Smith.

Although he only ranks 19th in the NHL with 18 starts, he is t-3rd with 3 shutouts, t-4th with 14 victories (14-4), 7th with a 2.05 GAA, and 8th with a .926 save percentage.

On Saturday night, he'll have the opportunity to face his former team, the St. Louis Blues, whom seemingly had no use for Halak, yet presently find themselves desperate in net and earlier this week signed Martin Brodeur.

Playing in front of Halak, the former Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy, and former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, have repainted the Islanders blueline.

Nick Leddy, 23, is presently playing up to expectations, and (IMO) still packed with offensive potential.  This is a trade I feel will only get better as the season progresses.  Quite frankly, I don't know what Chicago was thinking.  Meanwhile, in addition to the size and presence he brings to the ice, Boychuk is off to the best start of his career.  In 26 games the two have combined on a +9, with 25 points.

No Moulson; no Vanek; no problem.  Garth Snow and Coach Capuano unleashed Brock Nelson this season, and the young 2nd year center is responding.  He is on the power play, his overall minutes are up, thus he's benefiting from increased shot opportunities.  In return, he has 7 PP goals, and a team leading 12 goals, and is tied with John Tavares with a team leading 23 points.

All this so far has contributed to the Islanders NHL leading 19 victories this season.  They enter Saturday night's action in sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division, and trail Tampa by one point for the conference lead.

Not incidentally, those who widely criticized Snow's lack of experience over the years are now laying low.

In his eighth season as general manager, Garth Snow might be the metropolitan area's junior executive next to Lou Lamoriello and Glen Sather, but he's presently doing the best job with the least resources.