August is a month of anticipation for sports fans. No longer must we fill out endless fantasy lineups -- the MLB playoffs are finally on the horizon. The college football season kicks off September 1, with Wisconsin marked as a 35-point favorite against UNLV. And the NFL begins the following week which makes me so excited that my fingers are shaking as I type this.
What am I getting at? Well, quite honestly, I expected better of you, my readers. With all of the excitement, I thought you would be in a good mood. Needless to say, I thought wrong.
Regarding your power rankings....
You don't get the Heap move? Nothing but the salary cap, and age since Dickson and Pitta are young and good. Would still like to have Heap, but not a big drop off.
Replacing Mason with Evans is a huge upgrade.
8th is about right...but why not 7th (Jets went backward on Offense, and we beat them last year) or 6th (Steelers stood pat and probably got caught or past by the Ravens)
I'd say if there was one thing to cause me to keep the Steelers ahead is that it is a shortened preseason, and I think there is an advantage, at least early on, in a team with few or no changes (like the Steelers) against some big changes (upgrades right now only on paper) in the starting lineup.
Still, I think you did a better job than ESPN.
-- Melvin Novak, Severna Park, Md.
JS: Love the spirited email, sir. Firstly, I think the Jets went forward on offense. Jerricho Cotchery was essentially New York's version of Derrick Mason, a solid veteran and quality third down option. That loss isn't insignificant. But I loved the Plaxico Burress move. Braylon Edwards was a diva who wasn’t tough and got jammed far too often on the line. Bringing in Burress (who players say is even better than 2009) gives Mark Sanchez a true 1B threat alongside the resigned Santonio Holmes (excellent move).
Defensively, Kyle Wilson is a year older. He may not be the No. 2 corner yet, but if Antonio Cromartie gives up the long ball as often as last season, Wilson should be able to seize his job, or, at least earn tick other than nickel and dime packages.
Regarding the Ravens -- look, I like them a whole lot. Seven and eight is apples and oranges. You could make the argument that both belong in the top five, for that matter. As I mentioned, I think Baltimore could very well upend Pittsburgh at the top of that division this year. Joe Flacco and his 25 TD passes are ready to make the next step. I've always loved Ed Dickson, and Dennis Pitta is more than serviceable as the second tight end. I do however, strongly believe that the importance of having a veteran TE who catches the ball as well as Heap cannot be understated for a young quarterback like Flacco.
At the end of the day though, I still think the Jets are more explosive offensively with Holmes, LT and now Shonn Greene taking the bulk of the carries. He buries teams in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, I don't think any of this matters, because none of these teams come close to the Patriots, who are my pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Hey Jordan - I appreciate the article on Hope Solo and the exposure it gives women's soccer, but...
How can you write an article like that and omit any mention of the Women's Professional Soccer league?
All the USWNT players play in it, except Ali Kreiger. Hope mentioned that the players have no time to rest after the World Cup because they have to capitalize on the momentum, but all the uninjured players are deep into their regular season schedule building to the playoffs in about 3 weeks. And what that means is that they can't be out promoting the game all over the country like Hope. I'm proud that Hope is the face of women's soccer around the country, she's very charismatic and a very talented player, but she's only one of 132 players grinding out a season on the pitch.
So please, some mention of the WPS would go a long way toward promoting women's soccer. In case you're not familiar with WPS, here's a link to their website: www.womensprosoccer.com
Once again, thanks for the exposure,
-- Diane Hansen, Colorado
JS: Thanks for the thoughtful question, Diane. While I appreciate the fact that there is a women's league that exists far beyond the realm of World Cup play and a global audience, I am saddened to repeat the point I made in the last mailbag. As captivating a ride as the US women gave us this summer, I'm afraid it was just that ... a ride. The beauty of the 2010 Men's WC was the American men's ability to capitalize on the momentum and use it back home. With NBC now buying the rights to the MLS and ESPN's contract to televise the Barclay's Premier League, there is a legitimate platform for men's soccer to be seen. I don't argue with your point that there are 132 other players "grinding" (as you stated in one of your emails) in the WPS, but I think that until the league can generate enough capital and interest to have a real TV contract, it will unfortunately continue to flounder. It deeply saddens me, but I can't see any other way.
When UK plays UNC at Rupp on Dec 3rd, it will hopefully be 1vs2. What matchup you look most forward to and does the winner cover?
-- Kerry Cummins, Berea, Ky.
JS: Oh, that's a good one right there! Obviously, the Harrison Barnes-Terrence Jones matchup comes to mind right away. Barnes really flourished the second half of last season as a dominant scorer from 12' and out. The next step of his game is finishing consistently at the basket and flat out getting tougher. Jones is almost too versatile for his own good. While he's no doubt an effective wing player and matchup nightmare, I'd almost like to see him on the block 90-plus percent of the time. Neither will be able to stop each other, but I think Jones' length and size give him the slight edge. I love the Michael Gilchrist-James McAdoo matchup as well. Gilchrist is going to be a gem. At 6'7," 250, he already has an NBA body. McAdoo, meanwhile, is a slithery smooth scorer. If I had to pick a winner, I'd say Kentucky covers a -3 spread at home. Rupp is awfully tough.
Which team do you think would favor a move for Pryor and is he still gonna try playing WR or stick to QB?
-- Shabaan Biggz, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
JS: That's the thing. Most GMs think his NFL position is as a TE/WR hybrid, not a quarterback. Pryor, who has been working with QB coach Ken Anderson, wants to run an offense. I don't think he has a shot. If people think Tim Tebow doesn’t have the tools, than Pryor isn't even a QB3 at this level. He makes far too many errant and forced throws and locks in on receivers to the point of no return. There were two or three Ohio State games last season I watched where he looked so bad I thought he may not even be drafted as a quarterback. Against the best five defenses he faced -- Iowa, Miami, Wisconsin, Illinois, Penn State -- Pryor completed a mere 55 percent of his passes with six touchdowns against five interceptions.
I view him like I view Matt Jones, who shifted to WR out of Arkansas and was fairly productive for Jacksonville before drugs derailed his career.
One team that comes to mind is the Giants, who could use him as a massive target for Eli Manning now that Kevin Boss has departed for greener pastures. The G-Men have long struggled to find a consistent red zone weapon and he could be ideal alongside Hakeem Nicks. Staying in the NFC East, Philadelphia might work well. They are obviously willing to take chances on guys and Mike Vick never found the chemistry with Brent Celek last season. But this all hinges on whether or not Pryor is open to the notion of switching positions. If he's not, he and agent Drew Rosenhaus will face a harsh reality, and I think he will struggle to find a team.
And finally, a special late edition, from my new favorite reader, who we'll just call GC, a Denver native who now resides in Washington, D.C. (Note: Much of this was in blue print and bolded.)
7:10 p.m. ET -- Mr. Schultz:
I enjoyed reading your story on the Huffington Post site today, but I am troubled by your description of the Broncos. Opinions are one thing (and god knows we sports fans all have them) but I found the startling number of inaccuracies in such a brief write-up to be confusing and somewhat disingenuous. I'll write into your text below to show you what I mean:
"The funny thing about this mess is that Kyle Orton quietly had a really, really good season in 2010. He was efficient, accurate and consistent. The bottom line: There isn't a quarterback controversy. Can Tim Tebow help out in situational opportunities? Absolutely. Should he even garner a hint of starting consideration? Absolutely not. Word is that Tebow has struggled mightily to grasp the new Broncos offense The Broncos do not have a new offense. Yes, Josh McDaniels, who called the plays last year is gone, but the same Offensive Coordinator remains, the same offensive system (albeit with some tweaks, like the zone blocking, which doesn't effect QBs) is in place, and they will even been using the same terminology., but more importantly, has not been accurate on any level He went 6-7 with a passer rating of 118 in his first pre-season game. To call that not accurate "on any level" seems to be a bit of a stretch. While he was certainly impressive in Denver's final two regular season games last season He actually started the final three games last season, let's not forget that they were against a historically awful Texans pass defense a strange reason to dismiss a fourth-quarter comback and a Chargers team that knew it wasn't playoff-bound perhaps not playoff-bound, but they were the #1 defense in the entire NFL--leaving out a fact like that seems a bit dishonest. John Fox is the new head coach, and an equally significant factor to consider is that it was Josh McDaniels, not Fox, who nabbed Tebow in the first round This seems like truly bizarre logic, since Fox didn't choose Orton, either. He didn't even choose Brady Quinn, for that matter. By your logic, the front-runner in Coach Fox's eyes should be fourth-string rookie Adam Weber. Even if Orton gets off to a shaky start, don't expect to see the Heisman winner in the starting lineup."
I know that some of this stuff is verging on the interpretation of facts, but perhaps the HuffPost could print a correction for some of the blatantly false statements?
Thanks and keep up the fine work.
7:28 p.m., ET -- Mr. Schultz,
I just re-read the email I previously sent you and I didn't like the sound of it one bit. (Probably an old case of getting too hyped up for football season, combined with the good 'ole pressing-send-button-too-soon syndrome.) You didn't deserve that.
Now that I think about it, it was stuff that was probably more relevant for the "comments" section of the actual site than a personal email (which is still a bit of a internet-reading grey-area if you ask me, but still). So sorry for coming off like a jerk about some silly little details about one of the worst teams in the league :) You are quite a good writer and I've enjoyed your columns and blog. Please keep up the good work and (hopefully) continue to outright ignore ridiculous emails like the one I just sent (though the combination of that email and this one is probably amusing at this point--I should hope).
Yes, these are my readers.
Email me at email@example.com or ask me questions about anything regarding Jose or sports related at @206Child for my upcoming mailbag.
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