Coach Firings In The NFL

Photo Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Article I wrote 1/3 about recent Coach Firings in the NFL that was never picked up. Updated 1/10

BY: Cliff

The end of the NFL regular season generally results in an annual dismissal of coaching staffs following a poor season. In most cases, that lack of success had extended over a series of years. In 2016, five different teams made such a move, some of them even before the season had ended.

Listed below are the five teams that are currently in the market for a new head coach, with the date of that coach’s firing determining the rank.

Jeff Fisher: Los Angeles Rams

One of the most tenured coaches in the league was dismissed on December 12th, just months after signing an extension with the team. With the exception of 2011, Fisher had served as an NFL head coach since 1994, yet his years with the Rams were mediocre, at best. A 31-45-1 record makes for an anxious fan base, especially for one re-establishing a potent fan base.

Fisher was able to draft key skill players, including wide receiver Tavon Austin, running back Todd Gurley and 2016 top pick, quarterback Jared Goff. Yet his major deal that brought a draft bonanza from Washington never really panned out.

Gus Bradley: Jacksonville Jaguars

This firing was seemingly inevitable, with Bradley never able to translate his success with Seattle’s defense to the other side of the ball. A 14-48 record was more than enough for Jacksonville, which dismissed him on December 18th. In his final game, his Jaguars team blew a 20-11 lead with six minutes left.

Bradley had plenty of draft misses, though players like wide receiver Allen Robinson have stood out. Quarterback Blake Bortles put up big numbers, but is still under siege due to offensive line troubles. Bradley was replaced by interim coach and former Bills head coach Doug Marrone. The Jaguars have hired Marrone as their official head coach and have named Tom Coughlin executive Vice President of Football Operations.

Rex Ryan: Buffalo Bills

Like much of his time with the New York Jets, Ryan offered bombast but wasn’t able to get the Bills into the postseason during his two seasons before his December 27th dismissal. Some feel that wasn’t enough time to turn the franchise around, yet most of the 2016 wins came against weak opponents.

During his two years, Ryan never drafted anyone that had a real impact. That helped limit any uptick the team might have enjoyed. The strong rumor is that interim coach Anthony Lynn will soon be named to officially replace Ryan. 

Chip Kelly: San Francisco 49ers

For the second time in as many years, the 49ers got rid of a coach of a coach they had hired during the offseason. Kelly twice beat the Rams to give him his only wins in San Francisco, yet his once-groundbreaking offense appears destined to return to the college ranks.

The man who hired Kelly, Trent Baalke, was also fired, with his team management bringing in plenty of suspect talent when it came to draft picks and forcing out Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season. The Niners can only improve as they get set to hire their fourth coach in as many years. The 49ers own the second pick in the draft, so whoever come in as GM and head coach will have a high pick to work with in the rebuilding process.

Mike McCoy: San Diego Chargers

McCoy was finishing up his fourth season and with the Chargers presumably headed to Los Angeles next year, team ownership was likely to want a new look anyway. McCoy, who finished with a 27-37 record when he was fired on January 1st, made it easy by blowing a number of games, He also had the dubious distinction of having the Chargers be the only team to lose to the Cleveland Browns.

Bringing in players like Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon and Joey Bosa wasn’t enough, especially with issues created by McCoy’s inability to adapt to changes during the course of a game.

The NFL is always cold when it comes to the firing of coaches, this year was no different. Guess that just comes with the territory: you either get that first down, or someone comes in who can, hopefully.

Arsenal Review & Match Preview

Photo Credit: Stuart MacFarlane

Photo Credit: Stuart MacFarlane

Article I wrote 12/15 about the Arsenal v. Manchester City Matchup that was never picked up

BY: Jason

Premier League Match Preview: Arsenal vs Manchester City 

Aiming to rebound after a very chaotic and frustrating loss against Everton last Tuesday. Arsenal will be looking for its strikers to find the net more this Saturday against Manchester City. The game will take place at the City of Manchester Stadium at 4pm local time, and tickets are currently sold out.

Head to Head Matchups:

Historically, Arsenal has seen a lot of success over Man City in the Premier League. With over 87 wins and 41 draws compared to Man City's 41 wins and draws, Arsenal has consistently demonstrated that it is a top four club vs. the second team in Manchester. More recent matches have also favored Arsenal, with the London club winning or drawing the last six head to head games. 

The most recent matchup between the two Premier League giants saw Arsenal find a way to win after trailing by two goals. While the Gunners came away with three points, they came at the cost of a late-match injury to central defender Gabriel. 

If the head to head matchups aren't enough of a prediction, various odd experts also agree with the same sentiment; Skybet has Arsenal winning at 23/10 compared to just 11/10 for Man City and 13/5 for a draw. While Arsenal has been very successful in the past, it is important to note that anything is possible in Premier League, especially after Leicester's Cinderella story.

Injury Report

Manchester City:
As with most teams in the Premier League, both Arsenal and Manchester City will be without a fully healthy squad. Man City’s German midfielder İlkay Gündoğan is out indefinitely after experiencing a critical ligament tear in Wednesday's match against Watford. Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho will not play due to a suspension they received after a quarrel with Chelsea defender David Luiz in stoppage time.

Arsenal:
Arsenal will be without renowned striker Danny Welbeck, who is still in rehab after suffering a critical knee injury in May. Also out of commission for Arsenal is midfielder Aaron Ramsey and defender Shkodran Mustafi who are both recovering from injuries. Arsenal's defense will take the biggest hit from these lesions. Shkodran Mustafi is the best defensive player on the team and missing him could allow Man City to apply pressure at will. 

Other Storylines

Arsenal is entering the game coming off of a very frustrating defeat at the hands of Everton. With the score tied at halftime, both teams struggled to finish opportunities. Physical play ensued with Everton's Laurent Koscielny receiving a yellow card. 

The real battle was found in Arsenals strikers who only recorded two shots in the second half of the game when chaos ensued. It is best to watch the event fold down itself, but Ashley Williams scored with a well-placed header four minutes before the match was over. 

 

Netflix now allows downloading of content

Words By: Kevin

I had recently wrote this article in November of 2016 for a technology site that ended up passing on it

Netflix users will now be able to download select content on mobile devices for offline viewing, an announcement that many have been anticipating for a long time.

While users have been able to watch programming through the iOS and Android apps without a WiFi connection, it previously had to be done through the cellular data plan they had signed up for. For many mobile users, that would mean incurring very high overage charges, because of how much data streaming video uses. With this new feature, users can download the content they want while connected to a WiFi network, and then once they are in an area without WiFi, such as on a car trip, they will be able to load up the videos they want to view.

With the new service, users will simply have to click a download button next to the movies or television episodes they wish to save for later. It won't include the entire Netflix library, however. Many of the offerings will include Netflix original programming, such as "Orange is the New Black", "Stranger Things", and "Narcos." It will also include popular films like "Pulp Fiction", "Good Will Hunting", and "Boyhood".

One of the biggest boons will be for parents, as kid-friendly films available for streaming include "Paddington", "Minions", and "Kung Fu Panda 3", meaning that family car trips are likely to become a lot less frustrating for the youngest members of the family. In 2017, Netflix will also be releasing new original content such as “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “El Chapo”, as well as bringing on nine-time Emmy winner “American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson.”

This is likely to be of a great benefit to Netflix because it means that there will be more people watching their content at any given moment. Plus, this feature and the added convenience is likely to bring in a few additional subscribers, further contributing to the company's bankroll, solidifying them as the kings of video streaming.

This might be the dawn of a new age of streaming. AT&T recently announced its own service, DirecTV Now, which will offer streaming packages of a multitude of channels, with plans ranging from $30 a month to $70 month. The company also announced that use of the app will not count against users' cellular data plan. Brad Bentley, AT&T's chief marketing officer, spoke about the feature.

"The last thing you want to do when you're binging or enjoying entertainment is trying to calculate how many gigs I'm using or where I am in my data plan," Bentley said.

With DirecTV Now, and also Amazon allow Prime members to save videos for offline streaming, Netflix is smart to do this now. After all, if people love your service, it's not fair to limit it to WiFi networks and cellular data plans.

 

Ohio State Can Win It All Without Help

 

This article was written in early November for a Ohio State based outlet but ended up not being published

College football fans and experts are always concerned about teams controlling their own destiny. The phrase is illogical, but everyone knows what it means. It refers to a team's ability to win its own games and reach its goal without relying on outside help or other teams to fall from above it. The Ohio State Buckeyes, despite losing three weeks ago, control their own destiny.

When the first edition of the College Football Playoff committee rankings was released on November 1, two things stuck out in the Buckeyes' favor more so than their own ranking. Obviously it was pretty positive to see Ohio State ranked sixth, behind just one other one-loss squad. However, more important than that were the placements of Washington and Penn State.

The committee placed the Washington Huskies fifth, behind then one-loss Texas A&M, meaning it hated Washington's out-of-conference schedule enough to disregard its undefeated record. That out-of-conference schedule is set in stone and will not change. Beyond that, the Huskies have already faced their two toughest opponents in Stanford and Utah, and that still wasn't enough for a spot in the top four. Essentially, Washington is screwed.

That meant a one-loss squad can certainly finish ahead of the Huskies. Enter Ohio State, whose only loss this year came on the road against what the committee deemed the 12th-best team in the country, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Twelfth! For a team that has no other good wins all season! It is nonsensical that OSU somehow benefited from its own loss, but in a way, that's exactly what happened with this initial Penn State ranking.

In the final month of the regular season, OSU has another edge going for it; namely, a batch of very good opponents beginning with what was number 10 Nebraska, demolishing them 62-3 last weekend. The committee seems to love the Big Ten this season, all to the benefit of the Buckeyes. If they win out (controlling their own destiny), that would mean wins over two top 10 schools, including a matchup against their rival number 3 Michigan on November 26th, as well as two other conference road wins. It seems impossible to imagine that batch of four wins not vaulting them into the top four of the playoff standings.

That added value of two top 10 wins should be enough to propel OSU over its one-loss counterpart. Not to mention the Buckeyes would be at least tied for the Big Ten regular-season title in this outcome and now is slotted in the number 5 spot in the college football playoff rankings, one spot behind 9-0 Washington.

There would also be the obvious benefit of what Ohio State winning out would mean: a Michigan loss, probably dropping the Wolverines out of the top four and opening up a spot. There are a lot of moving parts as the season winds down, but OSU has as much control as it needs.

 

What Are The Knicks Doing?

Photo Credit Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
By ADAM

Full disclosure, I'm not a Knicks fan by any stretch of the imagination, but hopefully that allows me to attack this from a (somewhat) objective point of view.

The Derrick Rose move gave me pause, but I ended up talking myself into a world where it could potentially work. I don't believe we necessarily live in that world currently, but stranger things have happened. It might be swinging for the fences (or a half court shot to stick with basketball metaphors), but in the very slight chance that the one time MVP is able to remain relatively healthy, the deal goes down as an absolute steal. Derrick "If He Can Stay Healthy" Rose is a top point guard in the league and is only 27 years old. Derrick Rose is also made out of papier mache. Having said that, I can't knock the Knicks too much for the move because it's pretty low risk with the potential, however small, and a high reward. I may not root for the Knicks, but I certainly know their fan's distaste for a certain point guard and their ambivalence towards the other Lopez twin that they were able to get rid of.

The real head scratcher comes with the recent news that they're likely to sign Joakim Noah to a contract that pays him $18 million a year. Now I shouldn't start judging this move until the dust settles and it actually becomes official, but this is the internet which was basically invented for jumping to conclusions. Noah is another injury prone player on the back 9 of his career that hasn't been able to stay on the court with any consistency and adding him to a roster with the aforementioned Rose and Carmelo seems like a potential disaster. I know the Knicks are the Knicks and they were going to have to spend money on a big man at some in the offseason. There are definitely slim pickings between Dwight Howard (could see locker room friction here) and Pau Gasol (really old), so I think in their minds it was the lesser of three evils.

If they are just trying to build up the demand for Knicks tickets I kind of get this move. They are in the biggest market in the country with a rabid fan base that hasn't had much to cheer about over the past few years. Carmelo isn't getting any younger and maybe they view this as a favor to him before he hits the twilight of his career. However, if this a play for the 2nd seed in the "wide open East," as some have mentioned, I just don't get it. We saw this play out (kind of) a few years ago when the Nets went for broke and traded for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. They've got a great young player in Porzingis that they should be attempting to build around with other young players, not limping in a former Bulls team only made the ECF once.

I might be wrong and will gladly eat crow if this roster goes on to remain healthy for an entire year and become the second best team in the East, but I won't be holding my breath (unless Kirk Hinrich comes through that door).

Mets Need to Catch the Big One if They Want to Make the Playoffs

Article originally written sometime in July

 

With just over two months left in the regular season, the Mets trail the Washington Nationals by six games in the NL East, but only sit two games back of the L.A. Dodgers in the wild card race. With a solid lineup and a quality pitching staff, they are poised to make a stretch run to the playoffs, IF they fill the one glaring hole in their lineup, catcher.

With only four days left until the August 1st trade deadline, the Mets appear to be trying to fill that gap with the Brewers Jonathan Lucroy. The deal makes perfect sense. Especially if the organization wants Mets tickets to stay in high demand. Lucroy is batting .300 with 50 RBIs and 13 home runs. Should he find himself wearing the Mets’ pinstripes, he would immediately be top three in all of those statistical categories on their roster. Simply put, with no other catcher on the roster even sniffing that production, the Mets need Lucroy’s bat.

The case to acquire him, potentially regardless of price, is made even stronger when you look at his fielding numbers. The Mets have used three different catchers this year. They have combined to turn six double plays and catch 27 runners attempting to steal in 100 games. Lucroy has turned five double plays and caught 32 runners stealing in just 81 games. While you can argue that the Mets catchers have a better CERA (3.35 to Lucroy’s 4.42) that speaks more to the Brewers subpar pitching staff than it does to Lucroy’s ability to call a good game.

The final piece that makes this move a no-brainer is Lucroy’s salary. Basically, after getting to borrow him for the final two months of the 2016 regular season (and hopefully beyond) the Mets will retain Lucroy’s services for the bargain basement price of $5.25 million in 2017.

There are a few things standing in their way, a potential lack of quality prospects in their farm system (the Brewers aren’t just going to give away the two-time All-Star for peanuts) and their belief that Travis d’Arnaud can still be their future at catcher. However, if the Mets are serious about repeating as National League Champions and getting another shot at their first World Championship since 1986, they need to overcome these obstacles.

Nobody says they need to move d’Arnaud in a package for Lucroy. In fact, it might be good to keep him since he is three years younger and about $4.5 million cheaper. But with a batting average below .250 and only two homeruns and 10 RBIs, his bat is not in the same class as Lucroy’s and his CERA of 3.95 is the highest of all three catchers the Mets have used this season. In other words, he may have a future, but Lucroy is the present if the Mets want a shot at the World Series.

So, scrape together enough farm system prospects (and yes, you will have to give up some that are playing key roles for their current clubs), throw in draft picks or even a player or two if needed and give your fans something they haven’t seen in 30 years, a championship.