After Tom Coughlin got a on year extension, signed Ben McAdoo to be there offensive coordinator, they were set with there coaching staff. Next stop; Free Agency. Today marked day one of the NFL’s free agency, an impressive one for the Giants. Things that needed to be addressed for Big Blue were and are going to help in the improvement from a 7-9 record and a +/- of -89. The Giants made a total of 6 signings, just on the first day, and all are players that expect to have an impact on the team.
There was a total of 6 players New York signed. 3 new, 3 players resigned from last season. Running-back Rashad Jennings, from Oakland, defensive-end / outside-linebacker O’Brian Schofield, from Seattle and guard Geoff Schwartz, from Kansas City are the 3 newcomers. Jennings, the most recognized of the 3, was very impressive last season. He came into the season as Darren McFadden’s backup and as soon as DMC got injured he never looked back. He had over 1,000 total purpose yards, averaged 4.5 yards per carry and in 199 touches did not fumble the ball a single time. When Jennings took over the starters job last season, he had 4 out of 5 games with over 100 all purpose yards and scored TWICE in the one game during that stretch where he didn’t. NYG was 29th in rushing yards per game last season and Jennings is looking to vastly improve that mark. O’Brien Schofield may have been a bit of a question mark, a player not many people know about. He simply didn’t get a lot of burn in Seattle but the two prior years in Arizona, in 27 games, 9 of which he started, he had 8.5 sacks which is very respectable. He’s versatile, and I’m sure Jerry Reese took that into account as he’s played LOLB, ROLB and defensive end as well. Schwartz, is much of the same. He’s versatile, but has started more games than Schofield in his career. He’s mainly a guard, has played both positions and has also played at the right tackle position.
The 3 guys who were resigned by Big Blue were safety Stevie Brown, running-back Peyton Hillis and corner-back Trumaine McBride. Headlining these 3, just like Rashad headlined the new guys, is the ball hawk Stevie Brown. Coming off an ACL tear in which made him miss all of the 2013 season. He got a 1 year, $3 million dollar deal and it could reach $4 in incentives. In 2012, in just 11 starts, Stevie was spectacular. He had 76 tackles, was 2nd in the entire league in interceptions with 8 and forced 2 fumbles as well. If Brown can achieve that type of play in 2014, the loss of Ryan Mundy in free agency won’t loom large for New York. I’m also a big fan, of NYG’s starting left corner while Corey Webster was hurt, Trumaine McBride. McBride started 11 games last season for the Giants and had 2 INT’s but had 15 pass deflections, which was 15th in the entire National Football League. Suring up the secondary was big for New York in there pursuit of a Championship. The final signing, which was actually the first of the day, was Peyton Hillis, the one time Madden Cover star who has obviously suffered from the curse since. In limited time, Peyton was average, but reliable for small yardage downs. He spot started when the backfield was totally injured last season and he will be in a similar role coming into 2014.
All in all day 1 was a success. I can’t forget to point out wide-receiver Jacoby Jones is visiting the G-Men on Wednesday which in all likelihood would shut the door on Hakeem Nicks coming back. New York is also completely in play in bringing back Jon Beason, who was fantastic in New York last season, and Justin Tuck who has been a captain of this team since he was drafted out of Notre Dame. If New York lands all 3, boy would you have to think NYG would have one of the better overall free agency runs of all teams.
The Chicago Bulls have been a complete different team since the New Year begun. The Joakim Noah reign has officially taken over and everybody has hopped on his back and come along for the ride. This has been Thibs’ best year coaching and if this play continues he may wind up with his second Coach of the Year award.
Since January 1st, the Bulls have recorded an 19-8 record. Better than Indiana’s 18-8, Miami’s 16-7 mark, 17-10 in Toronto and has the best record in the whole Eastern Conference since that time. Chicago has had two separate 5 game winning streaks since January 1st, has won 7 out of there last 8 games. 9 of there 19 wins in this run the Bulls have had they’ve scored 100 points or more in. Prior to that, only 3 of there wins they scored 100 points, so that’s pretty significantly better than the 1st 2 months of the season. Not only have they improved offensively, but defensively, if you can believe they’ve gotten better they have. Since Jan 1st they’ve allowed an outstanding 91.8 points per game and that’s only .3 points behind the Memphis Grizzlies. They’ve mounted the 2nd best defensive team rating at 96.9
Now, to the players. Chicago has SIX players scoring 12-15 Points a night since this team has come together so greatly; Boozer, Noah, Gibson, Augustin, Butler and Dunleavy JR. Out of the 27 games since New Years, Joakim Noah has piled up 19 double-double’s while averaging a smooth 13.6 PPG, 13.2 RPG and 5.9 APG all while being the anchor for Chicago’s stellar defense. Speaking of that defense, Taj Gibson is someone worth noting who’s been not only a great offensive weapon for Chicago, but has stood out on the defensive end. His 97.8 defensive rating ranks in the top 10 in the entire league, along with his front-court mate Joakim who’s at an even 98. Not only have there defensive ratings been worth noting, but Joakim is 3rd in defensive win shares while Taj is 18th. And that’s in the entire NBA. They’ve both played themselves onto All-Defensive teams and the league should recognize such.
Losing Derrick to injury, again, and trading Luol hasn’t made life in Chicago Basketball land very easy. Losing a top 10 player in the league is always devastating to a team, along with a player that was with you since 2004 and is one of the better 2-way players the league has to offer. That being said, as frustrating as it has been at times, Thibs and the boys haven’t taken there foot off of the gas pedal all season long. Tank? There is no such thing in the land of the Thibs and there won’t be as long as he and Joakim still are part of the Bulls organization. DJ revitalizing his career in Chi-Town cannot go without being noted. He’s spelled Kirk since he’s gotten a contract and also played great in starts while Kirk was injured and missed time. ‘Derrick Jr’ has shot at 40/40/90 splits and has played the point guard position perfectly, as he is a complete change of pace from NationalTVKirk, as they call him.
The Bulls, as of today, sit in 4th in the Eastern Conference at 31-26. A top 4 matchup, would get them home court advantage the 1st round of the playoffs and the Bulls are 17-10 at the United Center thus far. The Bulls have notable wins since the New Year against the Raptors on the road, Suns twice, one home one away, home versus Warriors and at the Spurs. They’ve played against top notch competition and have won games, home and on the road. It may not be pretty all the time, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this years squad. Thibs for Coach of the Year ’14. But hey, Joakim Noah may deserve one or two MVP votes, shouldn’t he?
First and foremost, this wasn’t a very exciting trade deadline. Not many big names were dealt, not many players that will bolster one to become a championship caliber team. So lets delve into it.
Oklahoma City Thunder: They got there perennial all-star point guard back from injury, Russell Westbrook. I’d say that’s a pretty good pickup going forward.
Philadelphia 76ers: They lost 2 of the better players, I won’t say best because there team was very horrible, but losing them was better off. They’ve entered themselves in full tank mode, probably going to challenge Milwaukee for the worst record in the league from here on out.
Washington Wizards: Getting Andre Miller is a lot of good for this organization. Andre has been a very solid player for a very long time, and will be a great back-up and chance of pace from John Wall. Not only will he be valuable on the court, but he will be a good mentor to the younger guards on the Wiz.
Indiana Pacers: I’m not one to say this made Indiana the clear cut favorites because until Miami loses a series, they’re still the 2 time defending champs. But, Granger was shooting below 40% and Turner is avg. career high in scoring. Indiana is 19th in offensive efficiency and Turner will help the Indy bench score more efficiently. Lavoy just gives the giant front court even more size.
Golden State Warriors: Adding Steve Blake, a guy with playoff experience and a scoring threat off the bench. They added him for 2 guys that they weren’t using at all anyways; MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. Can play both guard positions and will be a nice change of pace between him and the other GSW guards.
Philadelphia 76ers: I understand I put them in the winners category but they’re also losers as well, from a gameplay aspect. They’re going to be atrocious the remainder of the season and I’m not sure I see more than 7-8 wins left on there schedule and that may be courteous.
Cleveland Cavaliers: They added Spencer Hawes and he’s not bad, but that creates a big log jam in the front court. Between Hawes, Zeller, Thompson, Varejao and Anthony Bennett is there enough playing time to go around? Dan Gilbert is a wizard at these kind of things.
Detroit Pistons: Not dealing Greg Monroe is something the Pistons and there front office may regret. They could have dealt him for draft picks or a true small forward and move Josh Smith to the power forward position. The 3 big lineup of Smith-Monroe-Drummond hasn’t been very successful. In 18 MPG they have a +/- of -2.0.
New York Knicks: I’m not sure if Dolan/Grunwald realize, but NY isn’t very good this season. Melo has no help, they have the worst starting PG in the league and there best trade piece is still on the team. Melo said he wanted help and staying put at the trade deadline may not have been the start he envisioned.
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February 20th, 2014
Marcus Paige celebrates after a bigger second half lifts UNC pasts Duke 74-66. Paige scored 13 & Roy Williams made defensive adjustments that Duke just couldn’t overcome. The March 8th is much anticipated.
Wednesday, February 19th, Homer bailey got PAID. $105 Million for 5 years type paid. The 27 year old former 7th overall pick in the 2004 draft that the Reds organization has been waiting to sprout into a top half of rotation guy sure just received a contract telling everyone that is that type of pitcher. For a guy who has made $9 MIL in his career up to this point, how much pressure will he be feeling now?
The past 2 seasons for Homer has been his best as a pro. It’s his first 2 where he’s had 30+ starts in a season. 65 total. Both seasons of which he had 200+ innings, his best 2 RA9 seasons which has unearned runs included. He was 16th out of all major league qualified starters last season in WHIP (1.124), 13th in K’s and oh yeah, he threw a no-hitter on July 2nd vs. San Francisco. He only allowed a better than average .234 opponents batting average but all of these numbers are a 1 or 2 year sample size.
I, myself, like Homer Bailey and I do think he’s a very good pitcher. That being said, I’m not sold on Homer being a 100 million dollar man just yet. I’d like to see a bigger sample size. The Reds may have taken a big gamble on somebody they thought very highly of 10 years ago in the MLB amateur draft. I think it’s to big of a gamble, but we will see in the future how it turns out.
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February 19th, 2014.
Not only did Syracuse go down, but they lost to a Boston College team that was 6-19, now 7-19, now 3-10 in the ACC, a Boston College team who had lost 5 in a row. Undefeated no more, team of destiny? Only time will tell.