Does New England QB Jimmy Garoppolo have Tools to Succeed?

With the regular season just weeks away, the Patriots are preparing for life without Tom Brady. As it stands today, Brady is still facing a four game suspension although it is rumored to possibly be shortened. Next on the depth chart at quarterback is 2nd year player Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois. Does that school sound familiar? Tony Romo went undrafted out of Eastern Illinois and panned out pretty well for the Dallas Cowboys. Garoppolo was selected in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft and is preparing to fill Tom Brady’s shoes while he’s out. With just 19 career completions, can Garoppolo succeed for the New England Patriots?

Jimmy Garoppolo will fill in for Tom Brady

Jimmy Garoppolo will fill in for Tom Brady

Although he has just 19 completions to his name, Garoppolo has played well in his limited experience. He completed 19 of 27 passes (70.4%) for 182 yards and one touchdown, a quarterback rating of 101.2. Now these numbers come from no-pressure situations. The bulk of his work come from a blow out loss to the Chiefs, a blow out win over the Bears, and in a game that didn’t matter at the end of the season to the Bills. It’ll be interesting to see how he fairs when the slate is wiped clean and every game matters.

At running back, Garoppolo should have a trio of running backs to help him out in LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, and Travaris Cadet. He’ll have All-Pro tightend in 6’6″ Rob Gronkowski who should make for a great red zone target. At receiver, he has the reliable Julian Edelman who accounted for 92 receptions last season as well as Brandon LaFell who finished strong to the tune of 74 catches, 953 yards and 7 touchdowns. If the Patriots can tap into the potential of Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson this season they’ll have a formidable group at wide receiver to give a young Garoppolo. Let’s not forget about Reggie Wayne whom the Patriots just signed. It’ll be interesting to see how quick he can pick up the playbook and get into game shape. I would not expect too much out of him early in the season.

With this kind of offensive personnel in place, Garoppolo should be fine. If he struggles, it may be a testament more to how good of a quarterback he can be in the NFL.

Detroit Lions RB Competition

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Heading into the 2015-2016 season, the Detroit Lions have a crowded backfield. In today’s NFL, that’s not a bad thing. Many teams are moving to the running back by committee model. In this model, teams can not only keep fresh legs on the field at all times, but they also believe they can prolong the length of an NFL running back’s career. Many of these backs today begin to decline by age 27 or 28 when athletes in other sports would be just hitting their prime. Let’s take a look at who is expected to be splitting the carries for the Lions this season.

Joique Bell 5’11″ 229 lbs

Bell shared the carries last season with Reggie Bush who is now with the 49ers but for the most part was the lead back. Bell was given 223 carries to Bush’s 76. Both managed a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry but Bell managed 8 total touchdowns (7 rushing, 1 receiving). Bell showed great flashes and even proved to be a threat receiving the ball out of the backfield compiling 34 receptions for 322 yards. Bell figures to get a good share of the carries, especially between the tackles but there is a rookie right behind him in the pecking order.

Ameer Abdullah 5’9″ 205 lbs

Ameer Abdullah, detroit lions

Ameer Abdullah

The Lions selected Abdullah with the 54th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Abdullah had a decorated career at Nebraska rushing for over 1,600 yards in both his junior and senior season while also eclipsing 1,000 yards as a sophomore. For his career at Nebraska, Abdullah ran for 4,588 yards and 39 touchdowns. A threat in the passing game as well, Abdullah caught 73 passes for 690 yards and another 7 touchdowns. As a 2nd round pick, Abdullah will certainly be given his opportunities.

Theo Riddick 5’9″ 200 lbs

Riddick was selected in the 6th round with the 199th pick in the 2013 draft out of Notre Dame. He has not been much of a threat on the ground garnering 29 carries for 76 yards and 1 touchdown in his first 2 seasons in the league. He has however found a niche as a 3rd down back being a safety valve in the passing game for Matthew Stafford. In limited time in 2014, Riddick caught 34 passes for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns. Riddick will certainly find ways to get on the field this season because of his ability to make plays.

Another name to look out for is rookie fullback Michael Burton. Burton was selected in the 5th round (168th pick) in the 2015 draft out of Rutgers. After playing his senior season at 232 pounds, Burton weighed in at 242 in his pre-draft measurables and showed up to camp at 250. Burton has added the needed muscle to play fullback in the NFL. Primarily a lead blocker, Burton to manage to showcase some offensive skill in a poor Rutgers offense during he tenure. He managed 47 receptions for 401 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air and had 22 rushes for 116 yards on the ground. With an offense that allows him to do more, Burton could be a hidden option for the Lions.

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NFL Preseason: Is it Worth a Players While?

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In recent years the NFL has discussed various different changes for the preseason. Do we get rid of it all together? Shorten it? In 2008, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attempted to change the preseason’s format from 4 to 2 games but add 2 additional regular season games. It ultimately was rejected and the NFL continues to stand with 4 preseason games. Year after year, we see many great players in this league lost for the season or a portion of the season due to a preseason game. Here’s a few important players to their team who were recently injured in a preseason game that will affect their regular season.

Jordy Nelson – WR Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson injured during a preseason game against the Steelers

Jordy Nelson injured during a preseason game against the Steelers

Nelson has been one of the best wide receivers in the league since bursting on the season in 2011. He has been Aaron Rodgers favorite target in recent years accumulating over 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns over the last 2 seasons. Nelson tore his ACL during the August 23rd preseason matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nelson will now miss the entire 2015 season.

Maurkice Pouncey – C Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a broken ankle in the same preseason game that Jordy Nelson was lost for the season and will require surgery. Pouncey may not be lost for the season. He was placed on the short term IR. Under league rules, Pouncey can not practice for six regular season weeks and can not appear in a game for eight weeks. Pouncey is a Pro Bowl center that has anchored the Steeler offensive line since joining the league in 2010.

Brandon Gibson – WR New England Patriots

After spending sometime with the Miami Dolphins, Gibson signed on with the Patriots and had been playing great football this preseason. That progress was derailed when he tore his ACL in a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. To replace Gibson, the Patriots have signed WR Reggie Wayne.

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Tulo Heads to Toronto

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When Troy Tulowitzki signed a 6 year extension worth roughly $120 million with the Colorado Rockies in November of 2010 he likely thought he would stay a Rockie until the deals expiration in 2020. However, with the Rockies sitting fifth in the NL West at 42-55, it looked to be time to sell off one of their best assets. The Rockies have finished with 66, 74, 64, 73, and 83 wins in each of the last 5 seasons. Those win totals won’t compete for championships and so rather than continue to pay who was the face of their franchise in Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Tulowitzki is heading to Toronto

The Blue Jays receive one of the best shortstops in the game. Tulo is currently hitting .300 with 12 home runs and 53 runs batted in. While he has had his fair share of injuries, Tulo has one of the best bats in the game from the shortstop position. With the Blue Jays at 50-50, they look to be all-in in their hunt for a postseason berth. They’re 7 games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East and just 3 back in the Wildcard race. The addition of Tulowitzki to a lineup that already features power in Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson should make for some tough nights for opposing pitchers.

Tulowitzki felt “blindsided” by the move. Here’s what he had to say, “I felt like I got blindsided a bit. I thought I was in the loop, in the conversation.” This comes after Troy had been told the Rockies would keep him or if a trade arose, they would inform him of the possibility of moving him.

The Rockies in return received shortstop Jose Reyes and pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro. Reyes like Tulowitzski is going through some strange times. In December of 2011, Reyes signed a free agency deal with the Miami Marlins for 6 years $106 million. Expecting to spend the duration of the contract in Miami, Reyes was shipped in a salary dump to Toronto in just the second year of his deal. Reyes felt betrayed by Marlins President Jeffrey Loria. He now is moving onto Colorado, another destination he probably thought he wouldn’t be playing out his current contract in. Jose should not get too comfortable though. It’s extremely likely that the Rockies as sellers at the deadline will look to move Reyes again.

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Miami Heat Cutting Costs

The Miami Heat have fallen on tougher times since LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland. During a time when they were a sure thing to contend for an NBA Finals title, Heat brass were willing to pay whatever tax bill it took to bring home a championship. The Heat won two titles in that time period but without LeBron, things don’t look as certain anymore.

Will Selva - shabazz napier

Napier was moved to the Magic

In moves to try to get as close to the luxury tax line, the Heat have made some interesting moves. It started with the Heat dealing 2014 1st round pick Shabazz Napier to the Orlando Magic for a heavily protected 2nd round pick in 2016. The Heat were essentially looking to dump Napier and his guaranteed salary. By doing so, the Heat save roughly $4.5 million in salary and tax. It’ll be interesting to see how Orlando Plans to utilize Napier as they look to be pretty happy with 2014 1st round pick Elfrid Payton and have recently signed CJ Watson to backup Payton. The Heat brought back Goran Dragic and still have Mario Chalmers under contract.

The Heat also dumped Goran Dragic’s brother, Zoran, to the Boston Celtics in a similar trade. Boston received Zoran Dragic and a 2020 2nd round pick for a heavily protected 2019 2nd round pick. The move saves the Heat roughly $5.5 million in salary and tax. The Heat have now been able to shave roughly $10 million off of their salary and luxury tax bill in a matter of days. The Heat may not be done. They have been rumored to be trying to move Mario Chalmers as well.

Cleveland Cavaliers Extend Their Asset

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Heading into the 2015 NBA Draft, many thought Cleveland Cavalier center Brendan Haywood would be dealt. Haywood, a veteran with 13 years of experience signed a 6 year $55 million deal in 2010 with the Dallas Mavericks. However, the deal was not fully guaranteed. Haywood is set to make $10.5 million dollars this year but if waived by August 1st, the Cavaliers owe him nothing. But rather than just cut him, it’s in the Cavs best interest to move him and bring back another player who can contribute, making roughly $10.5 million a year all the while clearing cap space for a trade partner. The Cavs tried and ultimately extended their deadline.

Brendan Haywood is expected to be waived by Portland

Brendan Haywood is expected to be waived by Portland

The Cavs traded Haywood, forward Mike Miller, and two 2nd round draft picks to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for well nothing. The Cavaliers will however receive a $10.5 million and $2.85 million trade exception. These are the figures that Haywood and Miller had been set to make this year. The exceptions last one year. The move allows the Cavs extra time, seemingly until the upcoming seasons trade deadline to use the $10.5 million exception. By that time, Cleveland will hope to pounce on a player from a team that has since fallen out of the playoff race and is looking to clean house.

The moving of Mike Miller comes as a bit of a surprise. Miller has essentially followed LeBron James over the course of the last 4 or 5 years. However, by dealing Miller in addition to Haywood, the Cavaliers lower their tax bill. Cleveland also recently moved 2015 2nd round pick Rakeem Christmas in order to avoid paying him and a steeper luxury tax bill. Cleveland still has to handle deals with Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and possibly JR Smith.

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NBA Draft: 2nd Round Gems

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The NBA Draft is very different from the NFL Draft in the sense that the NFL’s is 7 rounds and the NBA’s is 2. In the NBA, you don’t find as many gems in the draft, 1st or 2nd round. Often times people think what they want of a 1st round pick in the NBA, but reality is the 25th pick in the 1st round is really just the 25th best player among 60 that are picked. A late first round pick is similar to that of a 4th round pick in the NFL Draft. However, sometimes NBA teams who do their research come away with a great player in the 2nd round, which is hard to do. Let’s take a look at some of the better 2nd round picks in recent memory.

Monta Ellis – 40th Pick, 2005

Monta Ellis comes from a time where high school players could go straight to the NBA. Ellis was certainly talented in high school but teams were unsure how it would translate to the NBA. He definitely came in with a couple of problems right off the bat. He was a scorer in high school but at 6’3 185 pounds, he didn’t fit the physical mold of an NBA shooting guard. He’s now a great combo guard for the Dallas Mavericks and holds career averages of 19.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 assists per game.

Marc Gasol – 48th Pick, 2007

Will Selva - Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol was drafted 48th overall but he may have fell just because he was not ready to come to the NBA due to his contract with Akasvayu Girona in Spain. Gasol was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers and actually traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for his brother Pau Gasol. Gasol has since been an All-Star center for the Grizzlies averaging 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game.

Manu Ginobili – 57th Pick, 1999

Overseas, Ginobili won 2 Italian League MVPs as well as the Euroleague Finals MVP so he came to the NBA having accomplished a lot already. When Ginobili came to the NBA in 2002, it didn’t take long for him to carve himself out a role with the San Antonio Spurs. It’s usually hard for a 57th pick to make a roster let alone contribute on a great team. Ginobili has won 4 titles with the Spurs and has been one of the leagues premier 6th men.

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