NFL Offseason 2012 Part VII: Defensive Linemen

nfl free agent tracker 2012

Who Gets Their Pass Rusher This Offseason?

Part I: Overview

Part II: Quarterbacks

Part III: Running Backs

Part IV: Wide Receivers

Part V: Tight Ends

Part VI: Offensive Lineman

As the New York Giants proved this season, a great pass rush can alter the scales and put you over the top in terms of being a championship contender.

This free agent class may not have the same depth as the wide receiver position, but there are players out there that can certainly make an impact for a team, if the team is willing to spend the money.

Lets get right to it!

Robert Mathis Colts

Robert Mathis

Robert Mathis, Defensive End:

Among the plethora of Colts free agents, this is their most important one. Mathis is a complete stud and a nightmare for offenses to plan for. However, it is rumored the Colts are moving to a 3-4 defense under new head coach Chuck Pagano.

If this is true Mathis could find himself playing elsewhere, unless he is willing to move to outside linebacker like Mario Williams did this past season. If Mathis hits the open market, I look for him to cash in big time.

Cliff Avril, Defensive End:

Cliff Avril Lions

Cliff Avril

Avril has drawn a lot of attention regarding his comments on free agency as of late. Avril knows he will be highly sought after if he hits the open market and he wants a long-term deal. The Lions should keep him. Avril has been one of the catalysts in the turnaround the Lions have experienced under coach Jim Schwartz over the past two seasons.

I look for the Lions to tag him and then trade him for value. Avril wants a long-term deal and I do not see the Lions dishing out that much money especially with Stafford and Calvin needing pay days in the near future.

Mario Williams Texans

Mario Williams

Mario Williams, Defensive End:

I know Williams played outside linebacker last season, but he is a defensive end at heart. Williams could not have a worse year for a player in his contract year. Williams had 5 sacks in 5 games, than suffered a season ending injury. What makes this even tougher for Williams is that the Texans defense played GREAT without him.

Also if the Texans were to franchise tag Mario Williams, they would be investing $23 million. Williams is a good player, but he is not worth that type of money just yet.

Therefore, it is up to the Texans to work out a long-term deal with Williams and that seems unlikely. Williams will be heading to the open market and will be highly pursued. It will be interesting to see which team decides to go after him.

Calais Campbell, Defensive End:

Calais Campbell Cardinals

Calais Campbell

The Cardinals have a very young defense that began to gel towards the end of the season last year. Campbell is an instrumental part of that defense and I look for the Cardinals to use every resource possible to keep Campbell a Cardinal.

Campbell is 6’8, 300 pounds and a great athlete for someone his size. I look for Arizona to franchise him so if he does leave, they can acquire talent for him. Campbell also said he would not fight the franchise tag if it was used on him.

 

Antonio Garay Chargers

Antonio Garay

Antonio Garay, Nose Tackle:

The Chargers know how valuable it is to keep a solid nose tackle, especially when you run a 3-4 defensive scheme. However, Garay had a sub-par year this past season and may not warrant the contract he thinks he deserves.

If San Diego were to get in a bidding war for Garay, I imagine them bowing out pretty quickly. If the Chargers can not re-sign Garay, look for them to fill their need at nose tackle through the draft.

 

John Abraham, Defensive End:

John Abraham Falcons

John Abraham

Abraham is aging, yet he is still the Falcons best pass rusher. However, I seriously doubt the Falcons will pay him the $8 million he was paid last year. Abraham’s production will be tough to replace for the Falcons, yet I see them letting Abraham walk if both sides can not agree on a reasonable number.

Also, take into consideration the Falcons other free agent they must resign, corner back Brent Grimes. Grimes will command a lot of money, so keeping him might come at the expense of letting Abraham walk.

Jason Jones Titans

Jason Jones

Jason Jones, Defensive Tackle:

Jones is one of the better interior rushers in the NFL. However, the Titans moved him to defensive end last season and he struggled. If the Titans plan to keep Jones at defensive end, than I see the Titans letting Jones go into the open market.

If the Titans wish to keep Jones in the middle of their 4-3 defensive scheme, than I can see the Titans trying to keep him. The Titans have been excellent in their evaluations of defensive lineman in the draft and then letting them walk when they have maximized their talents (Albert Haynesworth).

Sione Pouha, Nose Tackle:

Sione Pouha Jets

Sione Pouha

The Jets have very little depth in their front seven and keeping Pouha should be a high priority. Before this team can make outside acquisitions to better themselves, they MUST retain the certain players they NEED.

Continuity is EVERYTHING for a Rex Ryan defensive scheme. Pouha has excelled in this system and I look for Rex to do the right thing and sign Pouha. Unless of course Pouha becomes selfish (which is possible with the Jets locker room). Interior defensive line play is crucial for the Jets and the way they play defense and Pouha was a big part of that.

Please follow me on Twitter @PeterD024

Stay Tuned for next Article: NFL Offseason 2012 Part VIII: Linebackers

Rangers Should Not Trade For Rick Nash

Rick Nash New York Rangers

Rick Nash

Written by Contributor John Schiesser 

New York Rangers hockey is back on the sports map.

They are currently first in the Eastern Conference with only one true all-star. Henrik Lundqvist currently leads the NHL in shutouts and save percentage.  Henrik Lundqvist is the only true all-star on this team. The Rangers are winning because of great goal tending and great team chemistry.

What is better?

Team chemistry or star players?

You’re seeing it now with Jeremy Lin, and the same goes for the Rangers, nothing beats team chemistry. Trading for Rick Nash will break that team chemistry the Rangers have built so far. Rick Nash is not a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, Nash can score at will and dominate games.

However the Rangers already have their goal scorer in Marion Gaborik. Coming into the season the big name the Rangers got was Brad Richards.

The big question was can Richards get Gaborik back on track?

Gaborik has responded with one of his better seasons in terms of scoring. In reality, Gaborik and Rick Nash are the same player. They are finesse players with one job, score goals. The Rangers are a physical hockey team that grinds out games, hence why Ryan Callahan is team captain.

The Rangers are winning because they have the right amount of grit sprinkled with the right amount of finesse in Marion Gaborik. If the Rangers trade for Rick Nash their getting too much finesse and lose part of their grind it out mentality.

Instead of having one finesse goal scorer they will have two. This will force the Rangers to change-up what they do best to make sure Nash gets involved. John Tortorella is a coach that stresses physical hockey. Gaborik is not a physical hockey player. However, the fact that he is the lone finesse goal scorer allows the rangers to still be a grind it out team.

Gaborik is just the right amount of finesse in an overall physical hockey team. Adding Rick Nash will add to much finesse thus upsetting the balance of the Rangers.

The Rangers are in first place for a reason.

Let’s not mess up what this team has done and try to change the identity of the Rangers as the playoffs are approaching. Let the Rangers keep grinding out games, that is New York Rangers hockey, and that’s the brand of hockey that will bring them the most success.

Where do I believe Rick Nash will land?

I believe he will ultimately stay in Columbus. Most of the contending teams this year are young teams who do not want to mortgage their future for a playoff push.

I do not see Nash moving because the Blue Jackets are asking for too much. Nash is a pure goal scorer which is great, but contending teams will not want to give up their top players young prospects for a playoff push.

 

New York Mets 2012 Preview

New York Mets logo

The Mets Look For Respect In 2012

The Mets or “Mess” as some would like to call them have pitchers and catchers reporting today, although the first official team workout is not scheduled until Wednesday.

As if the Mets didn’t have a tough enough road to begin with no Jose Reyes and possibly Johan Santana, they also find themselves in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, the NL East.

Seems like this team can’t catch a break.

However, the Mets made minor moves this offseason that I think made the team much better and have key players coming back from injury.

The Mets decided to first bring in the fences at their new ballpark. Right-Center Field went from 415 to 398, Left Field comes in from 371 to 358. Citi Field ranked last in the MLB with Home runs per game, it average about 1.43.

Now to the players.

Frank Francisco Mets

Frank Francisco

The Mets made some good moves in regards to their bullpen. First by signing closer Frank Francisco. The Mets bullpen was AWFUL last season, ranking 5th worst in blown saves with 24.

If the Mets had a league average closer which had only 13-14 blown saves, the Mets would have been fighting for a playoff spot. The Mets weren’t necessarily a bad team, their bullpen was just so bad and was their undoing in so many games.

Along with Francisco, the Mets signed John Rauch and traded Angel Pagan to the Giants for Ramon Ramirez. All three will need to have all-star caliber years (and are very capable) for the Mets to regain respectability.

Also, all three of these guys are POWER arms with good stuff and good velocity.

With the dimensions at Citi Field coming in, power hitters like Ike Davis/David Wright and Jason Bay should bring in more offense.

Ike Davis Mets

Ike Davis

Ike Davis was having a breakout year until he got hurt. Davis was batting .302 with 7 Home Runs and 25 RBI’s. I expect Davis to continue his ascent and the fences coming in should not hurt either. Davis has awesome power and if he can stay healthy for a full-season can easily put up 30-35 home runs.

Jason Bay may not be the 40 home run guy that he was in Pittsburgh or Boston, but I know he can be a productive 20-25 Home Run guy and he does play a good left field. Bay needs to have a good year for respect amongst the fan base. Every since being signed Bay has under-performed drastically.

David Wright needs to bounce back big time. With Reyes gone it will be up to Wright/Davis/Bay to really bring up their production. If this offense wants to be productive, it will be up to David Wright to lead the way.

David Wright

David Wright

His opposite field power reminded me of Piazza and his .300+ average made him a feared man in MLB. However, Wright has slumped mightily over the past two seasons and needs to rebound.

 

The Mets projected 2012 starting lineup consists of:

Lineup Player POS Team AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
1 Andres Torres OF NYM 450 66 9 37 21 0.229 0.316 0.378
2 Daniel Murphy 2B NYM 420 62 7 50 5 0.305 0.353 0.440
3 David Wright 3B NYM 545 86 21 79 18 0.264 0.354 0.448
4 Ike Davis 1B NYM 495 81 22 79 1 0.263 0.357 0.467
5 Lucas Duda OF NYM 475 74 17 73 1 0.282 0.365 0.476
6 Jason Bay OF NYM 450 61 13 54 10 0.251 0.344 0.400
7 Josh Thole C NYM 340 46 3 37 1 0.291 0.371 0.365
8 Ruben Tejada SS NYM 410 52 0 41 6 0.285 0.370 0.339

 

On the other hand, the starting rotation consists of:

New York Mets Starting Rotation
Player
IP
W
ERA
WHIP
K
K/9
 
Johan Santana 150 8 3.65 1.26 116 7
Mike Pelfrey 200 9 4.45 1.35 111 5
Jon Niese 175 9 3.80 1.31 152 7.8
R A Dickey 200 10 3.55 1.24 122 5.5
Dillon Gee 170 10 4.35 1.38 123 6.5

Obviously the key is Santana, if he can come back and be effective for the Mets it will be a huge lift for a team desperately seeking positive news. Gee started strong for the Mets, than failed to regain his form after the all-star break. It will be interesting to see how Gee performs this season.

Johan Santana

Johan Santana

The one thing the Mets need more than anything is good health. It seems like this team has been stripped due to injuries the past two seasons. Last season they played hard for manager Terry Collins and finished 77-85, which is not too bad considering the injuries they faced and the competition within the division.

Unfortunately, injuries are apart of the game, the Mets need to hope the injuries they face this year are not major and do not effect key parts of their team. This team lacks depth and can’t afford to have their starters out for an extended period of time.

 

Let the heartbreak begin…

 

 

 

NFL Offseason 2012 Part VI: Offensive Linemen

Free Agent Tracker 2012

Part I: Overview

Part II: Quarterbacks

Part III: Running Backs

Part IV: Wide Receivers

Part V: Tight Ends

The offensive line is the most overlooked, yet important part of an offense. Obviously the quarterbacks and skill positions get all the publicity, but make no mistake about it, without a good offensive line, your team is going nowhere.

A lot of offensive linemen in this free agency class are under-the-radar type players. This comes with being an offensive lineman because usually the ones getting the most attention during the season, aren’t doing their jobs. So if you do not know who these players are, that means they had a very good season.

Lets see who will be on the market come March 13th and where they could fit in.

Carl Nicks

Carl Nicks

Carl Nicks, Guard:

After the Saints dished out a 7-year $57.5 Million to teammate Jahri Evans, Nicks will be looking for the same type of contract. It would be unheard of if the Saints give Nicks this type of deal and have so much money wrapped up at two guard positions.

If Nicks does not give a “hometown” discount to the Saints, I see him moving else where and getting paid on the open market. Nicks said he would love to stay in New Orleans (who wouldn’t) yet I feel the Saints will use their money elsewhere and try to stabilize their defense and receiving corps.

 

Demetrius Bell, Offensive Tackle:

Bell is a very underrated left tackle and his presence was missed last season for the Bills once he went down with a season ending injury. Once Bell was hurt, the Bills struggled to protect Fitzpatrick blind side.

He is an extremely important piece of the Bills pass happy offense and I look for the Bills to resign him as he will be a top priority for the team this offseason. Bell is a solid left tackle that excels at run blocking and pass blocking. He may not be a household name yet, but I see him getting paid like one.

Chris Meyers, Center:

Chris Meyers Texans

Chris Meyers

The Texans have finally found an athletic center to solidify their offensive line and give head coach Gary Kubiak an anchor for his zone blocking scheme. Meyers fits perfectly in this scheme and it has shown over the last two seasons as the Texans were one of the top rushing teams in the NFL for the past two seasons.

Meyers will most likely stay in Houston as I do not see the Texans letting him go, especially since the offensive line’s chemistry is at an all-time high.

Jared Gaither, Offensive Tackle:

Gaither had a very interesting season and because of his solid play has earned recognition for this offseason. Gaither was picked up in Week 13 for the San Diego Chargers, he replaced injury-prone left tackle Marcus McNeill. Gaither picked up five quick starts at the end of the season and excelled in McNeill’s place. He played great and really took the heat off Phillip Rivers and may have ended McNeill’s tenure as the left tackle for the Chargers. The rumors flying around San Diego about McNeill’s release can only mean they are considering resigning Gaither.

Evan Mathis, Guard:

Mathis had an excellent year and seems to have found his fit in Philadelphia. Under offensive line coach Howard Mudd, Mathis seems to have found a system that best fits his skills. Along with finding his scheme, Mathis played exceptionally well and it would be a huge shock to me if he is not resigned by the team. Mathis opened up huge running lanes for LeSean McCoy and gave him Vick time in the pocket or opened up a lane for Vick to run. I fully expect the Eagles to bring back Mathis, especially since their quarterback needs all the protection he can get.

Ben Grubbs, Guard:

The Ravens will have a busy offseason with trying to keep running back Ray Rice, so there is room for Grubbs to move on elsewhere. Grubbs is an excellent run blocker and has been consistent with that all season as the Ravens had one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.

Grubbs is an above-average guard and should be highly touted if he is not signed by the Ravens. Grubbs is very athletic and thrives in power run plays that call for him to pull. If he is not resigned by the Ravens, I can see him moving on to a team in need of a great run blocking guard, the New York Jets.

Scott Wells Packers

Scott Wells

Scott Wells, Center

The Packers have tried to get “bigger” and “stronger” on the offensive line, despite that, Wells has been consistently very good for the Packers this past season.

The Packers did go 15-1 and had one of the best offensive seasons ever seen, don’t you think that has something to do with their offensive line?

Regardless, Wells could see himself removed from the Packers because of other free agents the Packers have. Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver are just two players that could be free agents and I see the Packers trying to sign those pieces before Wells. Wells will not likely get the lucrative deal he is looking for, but the Packers are his best fit and his best chance of winning.

Please follow me on Twitter @PeterD024

Stay Tuned for next article: NFL Offseason 2012 Part VII: Defensive Lineman

 

New York Rangers Win Again

New York Rangers Logo

Best Team in The NHL?

The New York Rangers continue to dominate the NHL.

With a win over the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, the Rangers improve to 38-14-5.

That is first place in the Eastern Conference and best in the NHL.

Despite that, the Rangers continue to fly under the radar in New York, Linsanity definitely has something to do with that. However, the Knicks are just a .500 team at the moment with potential to be a contender.

The Rangers are in FIRST PLACE IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE and have been DOMINATING ALL SEASON LONG. 

TIME TO HOP ON THE BANDWAGON?

The addition of Brad Richards this past off-season has made a huge impact on the Rangers and Marian Gaborik has been playing great. Captain Ryan Callahan’s style of play with his physical/fast paced mentality has also taken shape in the Rangers play.

However, the Rangers MVP (and NHL MVP) thus far has been Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is having an EXCELLENT year and has been a major part of the Rangers success. Also, the Rangers have made a commitment to blocking shots for Lundqvist.

Lundqvist is 28-11 with a Save Percentage of .941 (leads NHL) and 7 shutouts.

Lundqvist also is 2nd in NHL in GAA (Goals Against Average) with 1.77

PRETTY DOMINANT?

The Rangers are 5th in the NHL in killing off Penalties, this is very important and very good for the Rangers. Killing off penalties is an essential part of a championship team and the Rangers have that aspect down perfectly.

If there is one weakness I see in the Rangers, it is their power play production. The Rangers rank 27th in the NHL on power play efficiency (14.3%). That is something that MUST be improved if the Rangers want to bring Lord Stanley back to New York.

The Rangers are playing great Hockey and excitement builds in the city with every win. Casual fans are taking more notice every day and die-hard fans are going nuts.

I am a casual Ranger fan and I admit it, However, I just can not wait until the playoffs, that is when I really start paying attention (relax die-hard fans, it’s an 82 game season).

Personally, the Hockey playoffs in terms of excitement and quality of play come 2nd to football in my opinion. Playoff Hockey is awesome and attending Hockey games are great, if you have not been to a hockey game, you are missing out.

 

The MVP of The NHL

 

 

Who Is Jeremy Lin?

 

Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin

Courtesy: @NervousNeophyte

The majority of NBA scouts are trained to look at point guards based on how they use the ball in three ways:

1) Pass

2) Drive

3) SAT Scores

The New York Knickerbockers skipped step one and two and just got right to the Ivy league point. The MAN called Jeremy Lin has taken Madison Square Garden by storm . Jeremy Lin was originally pushing and pleading for an athletic scholarship from Stanford University about four to five years ago and was politely denied.

Jeremy Lin Harvard

Lin Before LinSanity

Mr. Lin continued to hit the books and found his way to a school called Harvard. From what people tell me Harvard is “not too shabby”. I remember hearing about an Asian kid from Harvard who had a really smooth shot and a nice step to the basket, but in retrospect, I and thousands of others never followed up on his game until he wore the Orange and Blue.

To be honest , I don’t think anyone followed up on his game in college considering he wasn’t drafted. Jeremy Lin was picked up and cut by the Golden State Warriors after sitting on the bench for a whole year and then getting another opportunity with the Houston (Home of Yao) Rockets. Unfortunately, the Houston Rockets had no room for Mr.Lin, so a team that has been up in the air for the past decade decided to give the Harvard man a shot.

Knicks head coach, Mike D’Antoni , wasn’t necessarily giving Jeremy Lin a “shot” to play. D’Antoni was giving him a chance to get paid and hold down a National Basketball Association bench spot. Lin obviously had no reason to complain.

Think about it…

If you know you can play basketball, and you have dedicated your whole life to playing basketball, wouldn’t you sit on the bench too?

At any rate , we all know the 2011-2012 Knickswere going down just as fast as the Jersey

Mike D'Antoni

Frustration For Coach D'Antoni

Shore ratings on MTV. A lot of people , outside of New York , gave the Knicks no chance to compete in their eastern conference. I don’t necessarily blame any of the fans (myself included) for their ridicu”LIN” the Knicks for their decade of abysmal performances.

The Knicks were sitting on an 8-15 record until this man, god, point guard and Harvard grad decided to take over the world wide aspect of sports. Coach Mike D’Antoni was desperate for a point guard to run his offense efficiently, and he hit the b-ball jackpot. The best part about this creature called “LinSanity” is his unlikely story.

Jeremy Lin was cut by two different professional basketball teams, and during his current tenure with the Knicks, he was sent down to the D-League to work on his mechanics as a point guard. Rumor has it that the night before the Knicks faced off against the New (Brooklyn) Jersey Nets, Carmelo Anthony pleaded to Coach D’Antoni to give Jeremy Lin a shot to get some playing time.

D’Antoni really had no other choice considering every other player he gave the opportunity to play point guard has failed. The Knicks were desperate for a spark plug to get this team back on track, and dear lord have they found one.

Jeremy Lin destroyed the Nets and Utah Jazz for two wins, but the real test ahead was the Friday night match up against the storied-franchise Lakers. In the past five or six years, the Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has used Madison Square Garden as a place to put on a solo show. Kobe Bryant holds the record for most points scored in a game at Madison Square Garden.

Jeremy Lin vs Lakers

LinSanity Begins

I personally have nothing against Kobe and the Lakers, but I needed to see if Lin was legit. So I decided to stay in that Friday night to watch the game, and I am so happy I did. Jeremy Lin scored 38 points compared to Kobe’s 34 and helped the Knicks defeat the Lakers for the first time in god knows when. My friends and I were literally rolling around the floor hugging and laughing because we couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

That night, Jeremy Lin was hitting shots over 7 footers , hitting shots double teamed going down the lane, and hitting shots in the corner where Kobe Bryant practically lives. The Knicks ended up winning that game, and that’s when “LinSanity” officially began.

Lin is of Asian descent, and he’s the first Asian-American player in the NBA since 1947. Yao Ming wasn’t born in America, so he obviously doesn’t count. Lin is getting thousands of casual NBA fans to become die-hard fans and making Knick games must-see television. Knick games are now being broadcast around the world, so people can watch the “LinSanity”.

Lin has become so popular especially in the world of Twitter where my timeline has been stockfull of Lin-Puns, some funny, some pathetic, but overall a great read because my Knicks are finally back to being the talk of the town and even the nation.

Jeremy Lin

No Defense Can Stop LinSanity

Today Jeremy Lin defeated the defending NBA champions, the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks were throwing every defensive scheme to try to stop Lin, but it just wasn’t working. Everytime Dallas would try to double team him at the top of the key, he would just dribble around both defenders and make the pass to find the open man.

The Knicks picked up super scorer J.R. Smith as a free agent yesterday. JR played in China the past few months because he believed there wouldn’t be an NBA season, and he wanted to get that paycheck. I don’t blame him either.

What JR brings to the table for the Knicks is another spot on shooter that will help them down the line when Lin and Carmelo will be double teamed. In two weeks the Knicks have transformed themselves into a serious playoff team. Beware because this team will not be an easy out in the playoffs.

Earlier in the year I wrote about how the big three for the Knicks (Melo, Amare, and Chandler) would take them to the promised land, but that was before all this LinSanity began. Now D’Antoni finally has a point guard in Lin to run his offense the correct and efficient way.

Lin is not only a great scorer, but he is an unbelievable passer with off the charts basketball IQ. The Knicks went from weak to power house. They went from having nobody on the bench to having one of the deepest benches in the league. Only the man upstairs knows how this season will play out, but as of now the city of New York is absolutely mad for the Knicks and “LinSanity.”

P.S. Since when did Novak become the second coming of Steve Kerr?

I LOVE IT!

Linsanity

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