Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Learn an NBA Roster: Philadelphia 76ers

Basketball season is here, and the stars are out.  Cleveland isn't just a cesspool next to Lake Erie anymore, it's a cesspool next to Lake Erie with LeBron James and the best basketball-playing Beach Boys relation!  Chicago has all sorts of talent to have hurt their ankles!  Phoenix is using a roster consisting of nothing but people related to other NBA players and Eric Bledsoe!  Yes, it is truly an exciting time to like basketball or, like most people, need something to do between Monday Night and Thursday Night Football.

The NBA may not have the severe brain injuries that we all love most about the NFL, but it does have the interchangeable, forgettable players!  Remember Joe Jurevicius?  Of course you don't, and for good reason.  Well fear not, intrepid NFL fans, for the NBA has its own Joe Jureviciuses.  It is practically overflowing with them! While we all might know the big names like Dirk, Melo, and the marketing robot that calls itself Kevin Durant, the lesser names in the NBA may have fallen by the wayside in our sporting minds.

Today, we remedy that.  Today, we take a look at the players that don't make the NBA exciting so much as they make the NBA a league with rosters of the requisite size.  There is no team better to begin with than the Philadelphia 76ers.  The 76ers are, by all NBA rules, an official NBA team with players and everything.  Why, you might ask?  That's an excellent question.  Perhaps the other NBA teams like knowing that no matter what they do, they will not be the worst team in the league.  Perhaps the creators of Sporcle just wanted to increase the difficulty of their NBA quizzes.  Perhaps Sam Hinkie really doesn't know anything about basketball and is just picking names out of a hat.

The 76ers are in the midst of the purest, greatest tank ever accomplished by a professional sports team.  So obvious are their intentions that the NBA tried to change their draft lottery rules to make it harder for the worst teams to get any better.  That's right, NBA owners were so annoyed with how bad the 76ers are that they tried to make things even easier for the Lakers, Knicks, and other such rich franchises.  To be fair, the Lakers and Knicks have been trying to make it harder for themselves for years on end now, it seems, which is very generous of them.

Looking at the 76ers roster might intimidate you.  It's true, you really haven't heard of any of these players and no, it doesn't make you any worse as a sports fan.  Let me help you.  It will be ok.  If you need cheering up, just remember that a particularly good performance at your local YMCA may earn you a contract from Philadelphia.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Move Bruce Irvin Back to DE


The Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin in the first round of the 2012 draft. At the time Irvin was considered a reach by many. In college he was essentially a one trick pony. He made it at West Virginia and built his NFL potential as a pass rusher. According to the NFL.com player profile, "Bruce would be an ideal option at outside backer in a 3-4 defense where he can focus solely on rushing the passer."

During his first year with the Seahawks he was used almost exclusively as a pass rushing DE. He found success in this role getting to the QB and notching up eight sacks. The future looked bright for the young and athletic pass rusher. At the end of the 2012 season Irvin he seemed sure to be on the cusp of breaking big. Fans expected an offseason dedicated to refining his skill to boost him to the next level. Then Pete Carroll and his staff threw a wrench in the perceived plan and decided to transition Irvin to an OLB in their 4-3 scheme. This is still the position he plays today.

The Seahawks play a 4-3 and generally only use their OLB as pass rushers on blitzes. As an OLB Irvin is asked to primarily play coverage against the pass and stop the run. Occasionally he is asked to blitz the opposing quarterback. The Seahawks want him to be an everything linebacker, much like K.J. Wright.  However, through his first 19 games at the position (spanning 2013 and 2014) Irvin has been forgettable. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but when those plays happen they remind me that Irvin is even on the team. He doesn't produce consistently.

The stats back up my perception of Irvin as a non-contributor at the OLB position. So far in 2014 he has eight tackles. That is eight tackles in seven games. For comparisons sake here are the Seahawks other main OLB games played and total tackles over the last several season.

LeRoy Hill - 2013 GS 12 G 14 Tkl 31
Malcolm Smith - 2013 GS 8 G 15 Tkl 34
Malcolm Smith - 2014 GS 3 G 7 Tkl 19
Aaron Curry - 2010 GS 16 G 16 Tkl 57
K.J. Wright - 2013 GS 13 G 13 Tkl 46

Notice how Irvin's numbers are nowhere near the other players. Malcolm Smith, K.J. Wright, and LeRoy Hill all out perform Irvin. Even Aaron Curry, who is considered one of the biggest busts in Seahawks history managed to record tackles at a greater rate, 3.5 tkl/g to 1.14 tkl/g,  than Bruce has in 2014.

Now all of this seems really depressing, but stop yourself before you fall into the pit of football despair, there is still hope for Bruce Irvin it will just require a position change back to DE. Irvin's best feature is his pure athleticism. He has put that on display the last two weeks against Oakland and Carolina. He can run fast and jump high. What he appears to struggle with is reading the offense and putting himself in a position to make a play. Often players like that need to have the game simplified to allow them to excel. At DE Irvin could focus his skills on just one job, finding the quarterback and tackling him.

The move would also allow Malcolm Smith (when health) and Kevin Pierre-Louis to get more playing time. Both of those players appear to have the makings of excellent NFL level linebackers. They require less molding and training and more fine tuning to turn them into contributors. They both played the position in college and appear to have a much better feel for it.

In his return to his old role as a DE Irvin would be able to unleash himself as a quarterback seeking missile and provide the Seahawks with the additional pass rush they so desperately need. Instead of hurting the team as a sub-par OLB Irvin could help the team as an average to above average DE. The position change would also free up playing time for other talented players with potentially bright NFL futures. It is time for Pete Carroll to move Irvin back to DE.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why the Seahawks are 3-3


2013 Sack Rankings from Most to Least
2014 Sack Rankings from Least to Most

Friday, October 17, 2014

Well, Guess I am Rooting for Notre Dame


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/florida-state-football-casts-shadow-over-tallahassee-justice.html?_r=0

Did you click that link? If not here it is again. Click it and read the story.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/florida-state-football-casts-shadow-over-tallahassee-justice.html?_r=0

Finished reading? If not here is the link again.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/florida-state-football-casts-shadow-over-tallahassee-justice.html?_r=0

In case you didn't click the link and read the story yet and you didnt read the title to this post, you might be confused why I keep posting the link. Just click the link and read the story.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/florida-state-football-casts-shadow-over-tallahassee-justice.html?_r=0

Now that you have read the story I beat it makes more sense. Turns out the whole town of Tallahassee is a steaming pile of human shit. It wasn't Jamies Winston being one bad apple. FSU has instantly become a villain to me. For one of the few times n my life I will be rooting for Notre Dame to win a football game.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis


As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic Nick Young.  He was lying on his tattoo-less, "strictly for buckets" arm and when he lifted his afro-ed head he could see Iggy Azalea, who was absorbing African-American music to allow white people to feel comfortable with it.  His numerous (ok, two) legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of the professional athlete world, waved helplessly before his eyes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The NHL: Players to Watch this Year


The NHL season is almost upon us, bringing visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in our heads.  Or maybe that's Tyler Ennis, it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes.  Even so, hockey's here!  It's time for everyone to don their favorite Nordiques jersey, pour a warm cup of Molson's, and laugh at the Maple Leafs all season.

Of course, some of us out there don't have quite the grasp on hockey that we should.  The offseason is a tumultuous time and some of us (I'm looking at you, entire Calgary Flames roster) have had a few too many blows to the head to remember everything that went on.  Fear not, that's why I'm here!

Nobody wants to hear about everything that happened in the offseason though.  That's just too much information and besides, I don't think anyone will much care if I skim over the Tanner Glasses of the world.  Hell, Tanner Glass probably didn't notice when he signed a contract.  There were, however, a few very interesting developments giving us a handful of players that should be imminently entertaining to watch this season.  Don't care to come up with your own opinion on who is "watchable?"  Well perfect, that's what I'm here for.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Who to Root for?

Next Saturday the 18th, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Florida State Seminoles in a college football prime time show down. This game pits the storied tradition that is Fighting Irish football against the defending Division 1 National Champions. Coming into the game, both teams are undefeated and 6-0. In this matchup, there are serious playoff implications on the line. Fans are going to struggle not to be interested in this one. Heck, I might even watch the game and I almost never watch college football. However, the dilemma that I and many other fans will be faced with is who do you root for in a game like this? Can you root against both teams, but still find a way to enjoy the game?

Normally I have a rule against ever rooting for Notre Dame. You would think I would like the Fighting Irish. They have a history of success and they place a strong emphasis on truly being a student athlete. They actually hold their players accountable. The problem is the team comes across as high and mighty and with a better then you attitude. As an organization they appear pompous. The media just feeds the beast that they created by continuously overrating and over reporting everything about Notre Dame.  The team is guaranteed to get multiple number one votes in the AP poll just because of their name. You have to read about their results in nearly every paper. There is no escaping their omnipresence. It is just plain annoying.

ND's opponent, Florida State, is also a team I might have liked. They are a traditional power, but not from the SEC. They don't play the spread offense or the option. They score points using both their passing and rushing attack. On defense they are hard hitting and dominate. They have just one problem keeping me from rooting for them, their starting quarterback, Jameis Winston. The Seminoles signal caller is a complete at total knucklehead. From shop lifting to alleged rape he just can't stay out of trouble. I will choose to look the other way for players on teams I already support, but I can't bring myself to voluntarily align with a team lead by such a nincompoop. If the Seminoles could just bring back E.J. Manuel I would gladly jump on their band wagon. Instead they are playing Famous Jameis, who seems dead set on out doing Johnny Manziel any way he can.

So, the Fighting Irish are out for their history of arrogance and general over exposure and the Seminoles are out because of their idiotic quarterback. I am left wanting to watch the game, but not wanting to root for either team. If I do turn it on, I will be forced to pick between the lesser of two evils. I just don't know who I will end up rooting for. I think I will just have to let the game speak to me and see where I fall.