The Golden State Warriors’ 122-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night featured Anthony Davis, a superstar whose rise is in need of assistance, against Kevin Durant, the superstar who just received the world.
On Wednesday, Davis scored 50 points and the Pelicans lost. It started as a game against the Denver Nuggets and ended as a symbol for his time in New Orleans. Davis is bereft of help — due to injuries, due to roster construction. On Friday, he delivered another powerful performance, claiming 45 points, 17 rebounds and, again, an unfair loss.
Durant is not so much bereft of help. If anything, he — and his costars — might even have too much of a great thing. The Warriors have so many scorers, so many playmakers, that their offensive actions appear awkward. On many possessions, it’s as though thought is overwhelming instinct. In the early stretch of Friday’s game, center Zaza Pachulia (4-of-6 for eight points) was finding money at the rim as his All-Star teammates sought out a rhythm. Eventually, Durant (30 points), Stephen Curry (23 points) and Klay Thompson (28 points) established themselves.
“Your mind immediately goes to Memphis,” adds Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick, referring to the “grit ‘n’ grind” moniker the Grizzlies have adopted to describe their defensive-minded style of play.
“We will continue to review all of our options and we reserve our rights to petition for cert to the Supreme Court,” the union said. Brady has also reportedly authorized the NFLPA to follow through with its appeal, if it decides to go that route.
It feels like the only way Goodell will ever relinquish any of his disciplinary power is with some convincing from the highest court in the land. It may be the union’s last chance to gain leverage in its quest to curtail the commissioner’s unilateral authority and give the NFLPA a leg up going into the next collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2021.
Size still matters in basketball. A lot. We haven’t been very warm or nurturing to the 7-foot set in recent years — scrubbing centers from the All-Star ballot is one prominent example — but look around. Highly skilled and freakishly agile bigs are emerging in so many different cities and bringing some balance back to this world gone trey crazy.
So keep an eye on them.
The suspicion among numerous league observers is that the Blazers’ non-stop spending this past offseason was asset collection as much as anything. Scan through all those names again and it’s clear Portland has no shortage of options to thrust itself into all kinds of trade talks as GM Neil Olshey continues to shape the roster around backcourt bedrocks Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
The Warriors will win a game by 60 points.
The concept gained scientific rigor when Duckworth tested West Point cadets using the “grit scale” she created. Despite not having a relationship with academic achievement in high school or SAT performance, grit proved a better predictor of which cadets would drop out of grueling basic training.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert required surgery to repair the ankle injury he suffered in the Pro Bowl and he’s clearly not happy that he suffered the setback during an exhibition game. On Friday, Eifert promised that he’ll never play in another Pro Bowl, regardless if he’s selected or not.
Eifert, 25, led all tight ends with 13 touchdowns in 2015, but may miss the beginning of the 2016 season after undergoing surgery in May. The injury is a tough one for the Bengals to deal with, especially after losing receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency. Rookies Tyler Boyd and Cody Core were added to a wide receiver corps that already features A.J. Green so the Cincinnati passing game is far from devoid of talent, but there are few tight ends on the roster with experience after Eifert.
Although it wasn’t the long-term deal that Fitzpatrick was asking for, he’s now the 12th-highest-paid quarterback in base salary and could add another $3 million by reaching incentives during the 2016 season. He’s also the highest-paid player on the Jets’ offense in 2016 and second on the team behind only Darrelle Revis.
Still, the contract isn’t one that shows the Jets believe Fitzpatrick is anything more than a short-term fix while younger players on the roster develop. But it’s starter money and there’s no doubt who the team has penciled in at the top spot on the depth chart.
“It’s Fitzpatrick’s job,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said on Thursday.
But what does that mean for Smith?
The 2013 second-round pick was less than 24 hours away from opening training camp as the Jets’ starter, but now it’s entirely possible that he never takes another snap for the team.
Why the Jets should cut ties with Geno Smith
The Jets have four quarterbacks on the roster and all of them represent a significant investment. Fitzpatrick is due to make $12 million, Smith was a second-round pick in 2013, Bryce Petty was a fourth-round pick in 2015 and Christian Hackenberg is a rookie who was picked in the second round in April.
Smith isn’t even guaranteed the backup job.
“It’s just not worth it,” Eifert told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com shortly after vowing to skip on all future Pro Bowls. The 2013 first-round pick is still in a walking boot, but told reporters that it will come off in a week.
There are plenty of problems with the NFL’s annual all-star game, including the risk of injury. But the game still draws enough viewers to warrant its place on television, meaning the NFL likely isn’t going to scrap the exhibition any time soon.
In 2007, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees suffered a dislocated elbow in the Pro Bowl but it didn’t cost him any playing time in the following season.
Tuesday is going to be a memorable night for Cleveland sports fans.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers open the 2016-17 NBA season at 7:30 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena. They will celebrate their 2015-16 NBA championship, the first in franchise history, before tipoff.
Right next door, Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians host Game 1 of the World Series at Progressive Field at 8 p.m. ET. The Indians have a chance to win their first World Series title since 1948.
Moving forward, FPI projects Cleveland to have the No. 30 offense, No. 30 defense and No. 31 special teams unit.
The Browns’ FPI rating is negative-9.4. That means FPI projects they would lose to an average team on a neutral field by over nine points.
The difference between the Browns at No. 32 in FPI and the Rams at No. 31 is 4.5 points. That gap is larger than the gap between the Rams at 31 and the New York Giants at No. 17.
A deep dive into Rodgers’ season reveals why.
One of them is a receiver — Terrelle Pryor (with five). The other five are “pure” quarterbacks — Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Charlie Whitehurst and Kevin Hogan.
According to Elias, the Browns are only the third team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to have that many players throw at least five passes in a season. The 1984 and 1987 Bears are the only other teams to do it.
This week’s candidate would be Joe Callahan, who was claimed on waivers on Monday from New Orleans. He is the sixth quarterback on the roster this season.
Determining whether that is a record is difficult. Thus, ESPN Stats and Information combined with Elias to come up with the five-pass minimum designation.
In 1984, the Bears had five quarterbacks throw 47 or more passes: Jim McMahon, Rusty Lisch, Steve Fuller, Bob Avellini and Greg Landry. Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton threw eight passes on halfback options. Payton had a better passer rating than Avellini and Lisch.
Buoyed by its well-known defense, that Bears team still made the playoffs with a 10-6 record — and went to the NFC Championship Game, losing to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fuller started both playoff games.
If this preseason, or the two weeks of it we’ve played so far, is any indication, it’s going to be a very good year for first-round picks whose star has faded over the last few years for various reasons. In Cleveland, RG3 is making highlight reel plays again. Jadeveon Clowney, the first overall pick in 2014, finally looked like guy who became a legend for destroying that Michigan running back way back when.
Even Christian Ponder made our all-star list for the second week of the preseason.
BROWNS OFFENSE: Breaking down the Browns offense with RG3. Here’s a great look at Cleveland’s second offensive series from Friday night, the one that ended with a 50-yard touchdown throw to Terrelle Pryor.
He led the NFL in interceptions that season with 10, including a three-interception game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football that made him an instant star. He eventually fell out of favor with the Chargers and was traded to the New York Jets, where he elevated his play and earned a four-year, $32 million contract.
After two Pro Bowl seasons with the Jets, Cromartie was released in 2014 as a cap casualty, spent one year with the Arizona Cardinals and was released by the Jets as a cap casualty again in 2016.
While he’s not the player he once was and could be close to through in the NFL, he’s still a player who has been a starter for eight years and has missed just two games over that span. Cromartie will at least provide depth, which the Colts need in a desperate way.
“It’s not pretty. It’s a little scary right now,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said earlier Monday when asked about the current state of the secondary.
Indianapolis has suffered several injuries at cornerback, including to No. 1 corner Vontae Davis. Davis suffered a sprained ankle last week and could miss the first month of the season.
An early look at Mike Mularkey’s outdated offense with Marcus Mariota. This is not a good thing for Mariota’s career. Mularkey’s offense leans too much on making Mariota run, but the passing game is having a far more deleterious effect on his career. Here’s how Cian Fahey describes it:
“With a great quarterback, someone who can move in the pocket like Mariota does, someone who can manipulate coverages, throw against pressure and read through progressions like Mariota does, it’s not smart to simplify your passing game,” Fahey said. “Great quarterbacks need options. In today’s NFL where the rules heavily favor the receivers, your goal should be to have as many receivers on the field as possible while letting the quarterback keep his eyes on them to find them.”
Hey, that’s not a good thing! If the Titans want to get behind Mariota and play their way back to relevance, they may need a new head coach before it’s too late.
John Clayton says Jeff Fisher is in line for a three-year extension from the Rams. The ESPN reporter suggested the Rams head coach’s new deal would be announced along with Michael Brockers’ contract. It’s possible. At nine losses away from having more coaching losses than anyone else in NFL history, the Rams definitely don’t want to let this one get away.
WEEK 2 PREVIEW: NFL Week 2 preview: Vikings debut Birdkiller Stadium — This week the Uffsides crew previews two Wild Card rematches, two games at “new” stadiums, and one lousy Monday Night Football game. They probably should have talked about Bucs-Cardinals instead.
NO FINES: NFL not expected to fine Titans player who wore 9/11 tribute cleats. Five other NFL players wore patriotic cleats during their games on Sept. 11.
HOSS OF THE WEEK: Leonard Williams wrecks shop no matter where the Jets put him, The Jets’ second-year defensive lineman is Stephen White’s Hoss of the Week.
BROCKERS EXTENSION: Rams, DT Michael Brockers agree to a three-year contract extension. Finally, some good news for the Rams.
MORE OWNERS WEIGH IN ON PROTESTS: Jerry Jones believes that the anthem controversy “really disappointing.” The Cowboys owner is also a big backer of The Shield, go figure. Jones doesn’t speak for all the owners though. Four protesting Dolphins joined by a big fifth — owner Steve Ross. Ross applauded the four Dolphins players who knelt during the anthem.
Josh Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. couldn’t stop trading barbs last year and throughout the offseason. So when Norman signed with Washington in free agency, his two games against the Giants and OBJ were circled on most football fans’ calendars. But now, just days away from their first rematch, they both seem to be singing a different tune.
Norman was asked Wednesday about his on-field altercation with Beckham last season, which climaxed when he threw the Giants wideout to the ground for no discernible reason during a pass play. Now, he says he’s moved on.
The Browns, once again, can’t catch a break. If blowing an 18-point lead against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday wasn’t bad enough, they’ve now lost a total of four starters to injury this week. Coleman, the No. 15 overall pick out of Baylor, was one of the few bright spots through Cleveland’s first two games of the season. He caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Browns’ loss to the Ravens.
In addition to Coleman, the Browns have lost both of their top quarterbacks already. Robert Griffin III, who started Week 1, was placed on injured reserve recently with a left shoulder injury and will reportedly be out for 8-12 weeks. His replacement, veteran Josh McCown, briefly left last week’s contest with a shoulder injury as well. He’ll be out Sunday, paving the way for rookie Cody Kessler to take the reins under center — now likely without his No. 1 wideout and starting center.
That’s right, injuries have struck the Browns in the trenches as well. Cam Erving was hospitalized with a bruised lung over the weekend and is expected to miss at least one month. On the defensive side, lineman Carl Nassib broke his hand during the loss to Baltimore. The rookie will need surgery.
With a new head coach and statistically inclined front office, the Browns appeared to be turning the page on their tortured past. However, the events of the last few days show those efforts have been for naught.
“It’s tough (to have so many injuries) but that’s part of the NFL,” Hoyer said after the game. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Injuries are part of the game, unfortunately. You just have to hope that the next man up is ready to go.”
Minnesota’s defense has been a factor in both of the team’s wins so far this season. Zimmer is confident that the team can still succeed, even as the injuries to key offensive players continue to pile up.
“This team to me is a team — I’ve said before — they’re resilient, they’re tough, they’re competitive,” Zimmer said.