NFL Panthers will struggle in 2014

The Carolina Panthers started the season 1 – 3 and then went on to an amazing 11 – 1 run to finish the season. The dramatic increase in wins could be attributed to things Panthers great defense and Coach Ron “Riverboat” Rivera took many fourth down gambles. Every decision Rivera made last year seemed to be the right one.
This year starting Cam Newton has a rib injury that he will have to play through behind a make shift line. Newton lost his three out of his top 4 team reception yardage leaders. They were replaced good route runners Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant who will not scare defensive back with their speed.
The running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart haven’t had a big year in a long time. Both backs haven’t passed 1 000 yards since 2009, which they accomplished in the same year. An injured Newton, slow receivers and weak offensive line could make it easier for opposing defenses to shut-down the Panthers ground game by playing with eight men in the box.
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula hasn’t showed that he can get the Panthers offense to put the ball in the end zone with any kind on consistency. Riverboat Ron bailed out the offense by going on fourth down a few times a game. This year the opponents will be ready for the Panthers risk taking.
The defensive unit is the one area the Panthers fans don’t have to worry about. They will be excellent again next year. Their front seven is as good as any team in the NFL. Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy, Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly lead the way.
The big loss is Ted Ginn Jr. who was a very good returner and a dangerous deep threat. He led the team in average yards per catch with 15.4, had 23.3 yards a kickoff return and 11.2 punt return average. Ginn Jr. was seventh in kickoffs and fourth in punt return average per return in the NFC. The Panthers also lost 1 467 combine yards from one player.
Every team in their division has gotten better, which will also affect their record.
Do you believe the Panthers can win 10 games next year?
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Gibbons days as Jays manager are numbered

Manager John Gibbons rips into his star player Jose Bautista for getting himself ejected for balls and strikes. The Toronto Blue Jays are going through a frustrating run and have no shot at making the playoffs this year.
Gibbons should be having a private conversation with Bautista about the incident. The manager’s job is to get the best out of his players not to embarrass and call them out in the media.
The current Blue Jays manager come into the season as a .500 manager and will lead his team to another slightly above or below .500 record. He has never showed the ability to lead a team, make key decision and raise his team to a playoff level. I never like Gibbons selection as manager. He should be fired at the end of the season.
Colby Rasmus was never called out by Gibbons because his favourite player has an extremely strike out ratio (34% of his at bats end with a strike out) and .226 batting average. Yes, Rasmus has 16 homeruns, yet he has continued to hit line drive at the defensive shift opponents play against him. Why hasn’t Gibbons asked Rasmus to bunt more often in order to eliminate the shift?
Rasmus batting average would rise and he would be able to get some hits with one less defender in the shift. This one simple decision could have helped the Blue Jays win a few more games.
Gibbons calling out his All-star player in the media to make a point is not good for team morale and Gibbons could lose the locker, which has many Latino players who view Bautista as their leader. The Blue Jays right-fielder has played 124 games of the teams 131; he has played multiple position, plays hurt and gives it his all every night.
The Blue Jays need a new leader. A manager can’t just send out a starting nine and watch them play. The team has 7 players who should play everyday: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Melky Cabrera Brett Lawrie, Jose Reyes, Dioner Navarro and Adam Lind. The other 2 spots should be platooned.
The new Jays manager search should start and end with Sandy Alomar Jr.  He could connect well with the five key Latin American players.
Should Gibbons be fired at the end of the year?
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Saunders improved the Timberwolves roster

The Minnesota Timberwolves President Flip Saunders dramatically improved his roster with his two trades. The only important person they lost is Kevin Love and a number one pick he received in a trade from Miami.
The Timberwolves got the last 2 number picks: Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. Saunders also got Thaddeus Young without giving up Bennett. The number one pick Zach LaVine will be fun to watch.
Can Wiggins be a go to player? He didn’t show it during his one year at Kansas. Wiggins has the chance to be the Rookie of the Year because head coach Saunders will give every opportunity to show what he can do. The Timberwolves starting shooting guard spot is his.
Bennett will have an opportunity to start immediately at small forward. He had very good NBA Summer League camp and is ready to show he deserves more playing time. He can expect to play more than 25 minutes a game.
Young will replace Kevin Love as the power forward. He last year was his best as a 76ers; he averaged 17.9 points and 6 rebounds a game.
The trio will more than make up for Love’s 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game. He was not going to resign with Minnesota; the trade was necessary.
The Timberwolves will have Wiggins for three, Bennett for two and Young for minimum 1 with a possibility for a second year. Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III will also be part of the organization for a minimum of three years.
Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad have two years remaining on entry level deal.
Saunders may have finally changed Minnesota’s franchise in a positive manner with hopes for many playoff games. They have a young, very athletic and hungry players who want to play and win now.
Do the Timberwolves have a great future?
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Leiweke departure a surprise…

The man most responsible for making the MLSE (Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment) to spend more money on their Toronto franchises (Maple Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays and FC) and made their teams relevant is stepping down. Tim Leiweke is stepping down and has no regrets.
Leiweke has put in place the leaders who should make Toronto teams regular title contenders: Brendan Shanahan as the man in charge of the Maple Leafs, Masai Ujiri for the Raptors and Tim Bezbatchenko to run the FC.
The Maple Leafs Shanahan has brought in some new blood to help the team evaluate talent and find the right players to not only make the playoffs, but compete for the Stanley Cup. The Leafs last season collapse will not happen again next year with the players they signed in the off season.
The Raptors made the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and were able to sign Kyle Lowry to a four year deal. The Raptors signing their own free agent is a big deal since Chris Bosh left the organization for Miami and they got nothing in return. The addition of Drake as the global ambassador was a very good public relations move, brought media attention and positive energy to the organization.
The FC squad added very good former Premier players Michael Bradley and Jermain Dafoe. Brazilian Gilberto was also added to the roster this off season. FC biggest public relation move was to bring back former scoring leader Dwayne de Rosario back.
Leiweke used his connections to improve his teams, he expects his teams to compete for a championship every year; he is not afraid to make bold moves, understands a team has to spend money to be successful and became the face of the MLSE organization.
It is a shock that he is leaving, which is leading to speculation that his reason was more than him looking for a new opportunity. Their might have been a power struggle within the MLSE that Leiweke lost.
MLSE  were not perceived as an organization that only cared about making profits during the one year Tim Leiweke was the CEO, keeping the Toronto players’ salaries below average and not care about being competitive every year.
Will Leiweke departure big a major blow to MLSE? Will MLSE return to a profit machine and not care about team success?
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Make it or Break year for RGIII…

Robert Griffin III will no longer have excuses next year because the Washington’s organization has done everything to eliminate the reasons for the 3 – 13 year in 2013.
RGII excuses were: he was recovering from knee surgery during the off season, he wore a big knee brace, he didn’t look as mobile and quick as his rookie season, he clashed with the Shanahan’s (Head coach Mike and OC Kyle), many fans believed Washington ran too many read options plays, lack of talent at the wide receiver position and he was shut down in the last three games of the season. The reason for the shutdown was either for RGIII’s poor play; prevent another injury or a combination of both.
RGII will no longer wear a knee brace, which means his knee will be 100%. He should be more mobile and will be able to use his legs to make plays. The addition of DeSean Jackson to play opposite Pierre Garcon and third down slot receiver Andre Roberts automatically eliminates the issue of lack of talent at the WR position.
New head coach Jay Gruden is known as an offensive whiz. He was able to make a second round draft choice Andy Dalton into a playoff quarterback three straight seasons. Gruden is a quarterback friendly coach who likes to put the ball in the air, which should lead to a great relationship with RGIII.
The new offensive coordinator Sean McVay will not call many read option plays that put their franchise quarterback at risk to injuries. McVay has been on Washington’s coaching staff since 2010; he has worked with the Gruden brothers in the past. Head coach Gruden will call the plays despite having an offensive coordinator and will also work on convincing RGIII to slid or go out of bounds to avoid unnecessary hits for a few extra yards.
All the signs points towards a fabulous year for RGIII. He will be worth taken high by Fantasy League owners. RGIII will throw for over 4 000 yards and run for over 500 yards this season.
This is a big season for RGIII to re-establish himself as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL. He should be the best quarterback at the end of the season in the NFC East.
Do you believe RGIII will have a great year?
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Gonzalez predicts the Broncos will go undefeated

Future Hall of Fame tight end and now CBS studio analysts Tony Gonzalez predicts the Denver Broncos can go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. Here is a list of games that Broncos may lose.
Week 3 the Denver Broncos will play the Seahawks in Seattle. I believe that the Seahawks will hand the Broncos their first lost. Seattle is awesome at home and Gonzalez’s comments will inspire the Legion of Boom to prove it wasn’t a fluke what they did to the Broncos in the last Super Bowl.
Week 9 in New England against his nemeses Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belicheck, The Patriots have a lot of pride and at home. The Pats defense is better than they get credit for in the media.
Week 11 against the Rams in Saint-Louis could be another loss. The Rams have an awesome pass rush and improving offense could be another loss. St. Louis is a tremendous home team.
The Broncos will play the toughest defenses from one division (NFC West) in the NFL during their 16 week schedule: Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Saint-Louis Rams and aging, but talented 49ers. The Broncos will have to prove to everybody watching that they are physical enough to handle those defenses and follow through on Gonzalez’s prediction.
The three extremely tough road games will lead to at least one loss this year. No, the Broncos will not go undefeated. The Seahawks exposed the Broncos inability to handle an extremely physical team in the Super Bowl.
Offensively the Peyton Manning lead Broncos will score a lot of points against most average defenses. This year’s schedule has many formidable defenses that are physical and will be at home when the Broncos visit them. I didn’t mention the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals because their offenses might not be enough to be the Broncos.
It could be an exciting year in the NFL if the Broncos are undefeated going into the playoffs. It will be highly unlikely because of injuries, bad calls or bounces and fatigue.
Do you believe the Broncos will be undefeated?
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Browns delaying the inevitable…

The Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine after 2 pre-season games was supposed to announce his starting quarterback. The organization would like Brian Hoyer start until Johhny Manziel is ready to take over.
Hoyer hasn’t stepped up and played well enough to eliminate any doubt that he should start the season at quarterback. He has played poorly and looks like a rookie during his preseason performance.
Manziel has looked comfortable in the pocket, moved well when the pocket collapse and has shown the ability to change arm angles to get his throws through traffic. He is head and shoulders above journeyman Hoyer. Manziel is saying all the right things to the media.
The majority of Browns players would vote for Manziel as their starter. The Browns fans have already made up their minds that Manziel was their guy on draft night. Many in the media are also wondering why Manziel isn’t starting over Hoyer.
The only people who believe Hoyer should start is the Browns coaching staff and the ownership. They are the people with the decisive vote.
The Browns should look at the success of the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks when the 49ers decided to play Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith and Seahawks chose Russell Wilson over Matt Flynn. Would the 49ers have played in the Super Bowl two years ago or the Seahawks have won the Super Bowl last year?
The Browns main reason to keep Manziel as a back-up is to see him mature into a good citizen, which may take a while. He was late for a team meeting, loves to have a good time away from the field and still hasn’t mastered the playbook. Hoyer didn’t earn the starting position; it was handed to him and hopefully he play adequately during his time.
Will Hoyer be the Game 1 starter against the Steelers?
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Haitian fighter St. Preux dominated by Bader

The Ovince St. Preux versus Ryan Bader fight was the main event this evening for UFC Fight Night 47. St. Preux was ranked 10 and Bader 8 in their division. It is the first time that Haitian-American Ovince is a headliner for an UFC event. Bader was the season 8 winner of the Ultimate Fighter; has won pressure fights before.
St. Preux had no answer for Bader’s world class wrestling. St. Preux did win round 2 and cut open his opponent in the fifth round with some vicious elbows. He will have to work on his takedown defense.
St. Preux played football at Tennessee, which means he is an athlete. He doesn’t have the wrestling pedigree to fight a fighter who has won at the High School and NCAA level. Most of the Top 10 UFC fighters were excellent NCAA wrestlers. He will struggle against anybody who is above average in wrestling.
Bader finished the fight with 9 takedowns and was on top of his opponents the majority of the 25 minutes. He may now expect his next opponent to be ranked in the top 5 Light Heavyweight Division. He could face Glover Teixeira or Rashard Evans before getting a championship fight.
Bader is a great wrestler, but doesn’t seem to be able to finish a fight with a submission or knockout. He has a 19 – 4 record after tonight’s victory.
I see Bader as a “Gate Keeper” more than championship contender. He is talented enough to beat most fighters except Top 5 fighters. His wrestler is top notch, but doesn’t have much of anything else.
Will St. Preux get himself back in the Top 10? Is Bader a Top 5 fighter in the Light Heavyweight Division?
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Notre Dame Players suspended for academics

The Notre Dame Football program investigation into academic fraud allegedly by four players: DaVaris Daniels, KeiVarae Russell, Ishaq Williams and Kendall Moore. The investigation will be an embarrassment to the program and the only people who will be punished by the NCAA, the players.
The real underlying problems are these players who are coming to college from underprivileged areas are not prepared to survive academically in college? All the players involved are going into their Junior and Senior years, which leads to question how these players were able to keep themselves academically eligible until this investigation arose? Everyone of the players involved are black.
Everette Golson was suspended for academic violations in May 2013. He admitted to cheating on a test, which resulted in him sitting out a year. He has returned and will be the starting quarterback next season.
The NCAA should seriously look at how they can help the students who are struggling with academics and play a sport during a semester. Many student-athletes are not prepared for college courses, work load, reading and math; thus they are at a serious disadvantage in the academic realm.
A student-athlete must maintain a certain G.P.A. and pass a minimum number of courses every year. The pressure to balance both practice, games, meetings, rehabilitation from injuries, attending classes, doing homework, reading, term papers, exams and parties is a lot for a young kid that doesn’t understand time management and wasn’t prepared by his high school to handle the academic load.
The Golson cheating was under head coach Brian Kelly; therefore it could be the second academic incident under his tenure. The college teams have a responsibility to help teenagers become men or at least be future productive members of society.
A team of honour roll students or ex-athletes who had good grades could be hired to help student-athletes understand how to prepare for test, write papers, take notes and time management, which can make a difference academically for the students who are willing to ask for help.
Do you give Brian Kelly the benefit for the doubt?
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Who will be the Canadiens next captain?

The Montreal Canadiens were founded in 1909 during their 105 years existence the team has had only two captains who held the role for a 10 year period. The prestigious club only members are Jean Beliveau 1961 – 71 and Saku Koivu 1999 – 2009.
Brian Gionta was the captain for the last four years has moved on to a new team. There is a vacancy and it needs to be filled.
The Canadiens captaincy candidates will be: Brandon Prust, Andrei Markov, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban.
Prust is a hard nose player who leads by example, fights to protect his teammates and has established himself as a vocal leader. He has the prototypical old school captaincy personalities.
Markov is in his final years of his career and is injury prone. He is one of the few players who can tell Subban to calm down during a game when he is having a meltdown. Markov is a player who seen everything during his career, yet he is too old to be made the leader and wouldn’t like the media pressure that would come with being the captain.
Pacioretty had the most points last year and has been the team’s best goal scorer over the last few seasons. He is the biggest player on the diminutive forwards unit, yet he doesn’t play like a power forward. Brendan Gallagher who is 40 pounds lighter is a more physical player than Pacioretty. He should not be a captain.
Subban is the best player, personable and gets interviewed after game since he established himself. His new long term contract guarantees he will be around to lead his team to success. He is the face of the franchise and deserves the “C” on his jersey.
Subban desire to stay with the organization despite his treatment by the club during the arbitration process is a sign of leadership. He doesn’t want to play for anybody else and wants to bring a Stanley Cup to Montreal again.
The majority of the Canadiens fans expect Subban to be a captain during his career in Montreal it is just a matter of when will he be.
The tense relationship between Coach Michel Therrien and Subban could be a big factor in choosing Prust over Subban to be the next Canadiens captain. Subban may get an “A” instead of a “C” on his jersey next year.
Who is your choice to be the Canadiens Captain?
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