Monthly Archives: April 2017

Feast to Famine

The “experts” will break this down later tonight, but I feel like day 2 of the Giants draft was a huge hit and a huge miss.

A defensive tackle in round 2 was a smart pick. The fact that his closest comparison is Hankins, makes it even better. No matter what you think, the Giants took a guy who could fill the last spot in their defensive starting lineup.

A QB in round 3 was incredibly stupid. Davis Webb may turn into Eli Manning, but that isn’t the point. This draft should have been about maximizing Eli Manning’s chances to win another Super Bowl. Webb doesn’t do that and you have to wonder if he will ever develop into a pro QB.

But again, even if he turns into Eli, this represents the worst way to maximize Eli’s last years. Nothing short of another Super Bowl win excuses this pick.

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Check A Box

The “experts” were predictable in their reviews of the Giants draft pick, Evan Engram. Some loved it, some hated it. Some yelled that they didn’t do enough and should have traded up. To me it is all noise. The Giants needed a tight end, and they took one. He may turn out to be good, he may turn out to be bad, but they did exactly what they should have done, and that is all that matters.

As to the argument that they should have traded up to grab “X”, I hate it. Nobody aces the draft year in and out. The only way to ensure you do better in the draft than someone else is to have more chances (ie picks). If you trade up, you lose picks, so the only reason I can think to do so is for a franchise-altering player. The Giants did it in 2004 and got Eli, nice move. They did it in 2013 and got Ryan Nassib, not a nice move. It’s a crapshoot, and you are far, far better off trading down that up. Bill Belichick gets this, and he has done pretty well with it.

So, what’s on tap for tonight? Two picks and with Tight End crossed off, the Giants probably split them between offense and defense. Running Back is an idea as is someone who could play tackle. On the defensive side, something for the interior of the line or a linebacker would be nice.

Draft Time

Here are my two beliefs about the NFL Draft.

 

1- The “experts” are generally wrong over half the time.

2- Because of this focus more on the positions a team drafts than the actual players.

Every year we get bombarded with mock drafts, draft grades and player thoughts and every year they’re are mostly junk. Look back at your favorite team’s draft and the analysis of it. Most of it turns out to be garbage once the players have actually taken the field. Lets face it, GMs get top dollar for making theses picks and they can’t deliver great and consistent results, so why do we rely on the experts?

That’s why I focus on the positions taken and the Giants have some pretty clear needs. Eli is nearing the end, but they want to make one more title run. The defense is returning 10-of-11 starters, so it is in good shape,  So, I would like to see the Giants come out of the draft with a bunch of of players who can help on offense. Specifically, I would like to see them get a running back, a tight end, and an offensive lineman. On defense a linebacker and a defensive tackle would be nice.

Things I would not want to see the Giants do include drafting for the secondary or taking a QB with a high pick. You may never be able to have too many cornerbacks, but the Giants have three good ones and two good safeties. If they get to a position where the best player on their board is a player from the secondary, I hope they trade down. And while it may be tempting to try to find Elis successor now, I would rather try to get him more help on offense in order to make one last run at a title. This is not the time to worry about the future QB of the team, a fifth rounder is fine, just not before that.

Mitch Trubisky

I like Mitch Trubisky, but I am absolutely amazed that he may be the top pick in the NFL Draft.

I would bet that I am one of the few people outside of NFL executives who watched every start he made in college. He was great a lot of the time, but there are two major red flags to me.

1- The game against Virginia Tech in October. Yes, it was played in driving rain, but he was terrible. When you have only made 13 starts in college, you have to be judged on every one of them. I would not feel great about Trubisky’s prospects in a cold weather stadium based on that.

2- The games against Duke, NC State and Stanford. Context is important here. For UNC Football, Duke and NC State are the biggest games of the year. Furthermore, this year they cost themselves another trip to the ACC Championship game by losing to two mediocre teams. Trubisky’s numbers from those games are good, but he didn’t do much, and he didn’t respond late when he had a chance to take UNC down the field and win them. Stanford was the bowl game, and the same thing that happened against Duke and NC State happened there. So, you could say that in the three biggest games of the year, Trubisky didn’t respond. Again, with only 13 NCAA starts, you need to weigh each one carefully.

That’s why I am hoping that Trubisky isn’t picked by Cleveland or San Francisco. I think he can be a very successful QB in the NFL, but he will need time and those situations won’t give him that. He needs to go to a place where he can hold a clipboard for a few years and learn about the game. Based on all the draft boards I have seen, he is probably not falling out of the Top-1o and I think that will be bad for him and bad for the team that drafts him. We shall see on Thursday.

Two UNC players I could see rewarding the teams that draft them are Ryan Switzer and Elijah Hood. Both will go in the middle rounds most likely. Switzer catches everything thrown anywhere near him and is a great return guy. Hood can pound the ball in between the tackles and bust a big run. Watch for them on Friday and Saturday.

I’ll post some more Giant-centric draft thoughts before Thursday.

The NFL is Oblivious

Thr NFL will announce the 2017 schedule tonight, but thanks to more leaks than the Titanic, you can find your team’s schedule online already. One date stands out for the Giants, Thanksgiving at Washington.

Some people are bothered by Native American nicknames for sports teams some are not. I personally avoid using them for the reason that they cause a portion of the population offense. I understand why people may not agree with that, but I hope the insensitivity of scheduling a Washington home game on Thanksgiving needs no explanation.

The NFL doesn’t care. Roger Goodell seems to have zero empathy for victims of domestic violence, victims of brain trauma, and Native Americans who object to a racist trademark. At what point do we, the fans supporting this enterprise, vote with our wallets?

Playoff Hockey

It’s the best time of the year in hockey and so far, the Rangers and Canadiens are living up to the hype. Montreal pulled out a stunner in Game 2 and then blasted the Rangers in Game 3. New York rebounded with a much, much better effort in Game 4, and now we head to Montreal tied at 2.

The best series right now is the Toronto-Washington one. All three games have gone to OT and the surprising Maple Leafs have the Presidents Cup winners on their heels. Game 4 is tonight in Toronto and the Leafs could go up 3-1. Pretty much every other team in the East would be thrilled by that.

Boston and Ottawa aren’t far behind. The last two games have been OT affairs and Game 1 was decided by a goal as well. Game 4 is tonight with the Senators looking to take a 3-1 lead back home Friday.

A really shocking series is Chicago-Nashville. Chicago was the best team in the West, but they are down 3-0 to a surprisingly tough Predators squad. Nashville can close things out tomorrow night at home.

If you like late games, Edmonton-San Jose has been a great series, apart from Game 4 which was a rout. The series is tied, but the games don’t start until 10:30 EDT, which is rough.

Not all the series have been good, or even close to what was expected. Columbus finally put up an effort last night to avoid getting swept by Pittsburgh. Both teams won 50-games during the season and Pittsburgh only claimed home ice because of a better record in OT, so this looked to be a close series. Maybe Columbus will rally, but it hasn’t been pretty so far.

Anaheim and St. Louis can sweep their series tonight. The Minnesota-St. Louis series is a surprise as the Blues were actually the underdog. Barring a historic collapse, that wasn’t accurate.

And while I am not a huge fan of the fact that the NHL takes the games away from local TV after this round, the flip side to that is that all playoff games are televised nationally now. USA and NBCSports are doing the bulk of the games, with the NHL Network chipping in occasionally. So go out and watch, there is nothing like it.

 

 

A Word On The Knicks

i wrote last July about how I didn’t understand the Knicks adding Joakim Noah as a free agent because it created a team on paper that could make the playoffs and possibly win a first round series. My feeling was that the Knicks would be better served in the long term by tanking in 2016-17 and getting a lottery pick while trading away everything except Porzingas.

Phil Jackson deserves no credit for the Knicks ending up in the lottery. That clearly wasn’t the plan at the start of the year and the Noah deal is clearly going to be a disaster. But the Knicks are thankfully in the lottery and can do themselves a lot of good by not winning any of their remaining four games.

The Knicks are currently sixth-worst in the league, but only one win separates them from “dropping” to ninth. If they got lucky, they could possibly get to fourth.

Its not about the first pick, that chance, even with fourth-worst record is small (about 11%). It’s about ensuring they have a pick as high up in the draft as possible. This is a deep draft, but scouts generally say the drop off happens somewhere between picks 6 and 8.

Finish with the fourth-worst record and the worst pick you could have is 7th. Finish with the ninth-worst and you only have about a 7% chance of picking higher than ninth.

So the Knicks need to lose. We need to hope that Sacramento and Minnesota win, and maybe even Philadelphia and Orlando. Fultz and Ball aren’t walking through that door, but getting Monk or Tatum would be just fine with me.

Nothing Could Be Finer!

It wasn’t pretty, but the Tar Heels came through  and won title number six. Roy Williams now one of only six coaches with three or more titles.

This championship is so satisfying for UNC fans because it was 364 days in the making. Kris Jenkins broke our hearts exactly one year ago today. It was great to see him sitting their last night, cheering on his brother, Nate Britt.

You could see this possibly happening early in the season. UNC went out to Maui and dominated the tournament in November. Meeks played like he did Saturday and they beat some good teams including Wisconsin. They got their doors blown off visiting Indiana, which raised some questions, but showed their mettle in a one-point loss to Kentucky in December.

There were a few hiccups in the ACC. They dropped easy games against Georgia Tech and Miami, but beat the best in the conference and won it outright at 13-5. Thr ACC Tournament ended prematurely when they played a Duke team that finally played to its potential.

And then they fought their way through the tournament. After a blowout in their first game, they pulled of a big escape against Arkansas. They handled Butler with relative ease, but needed some heroics from Luke Maye when Malik Monk almost beat them a second time. And finally they survived Oregon and Gonzaga to put the memories of last year to rest.

This championship validates Roy Williams approach to recruiting. He won’t guarantee anything to incoming recruits, so UNC misses out on the top one-and-done type players. Instead, Williams builds a program that can emphasize certain talents, but also develop them. Anyone who watched Kennedy Meeks as a freshman lumbering up and down the court has to be amazed at what four years of college did to revolutionize his game.

And now the Tar Heels will see a real change in their lineup. Meeks and Hicks are graduating along with Britt and White. Jackson will almost certainly leave for the NBA and Tony Bradley could too. But Joel Berry and Theo Pinson will be back to lead next year’s team, and new faces will emerge to replace the departed. But we will always remember and cherish this squad.