Monday Morning Coffee


November 21st, 2016

The Jared Goff era began yesterday at the Coliseum but the Rams still couldn’t get back in the win column.  If you like offense, then you probably didn’t like watching this game.  The Rams didn’t exactly look a whole lot better on offense with their rookie QB, but Goff was steady, and showed some signs of potential.  I wish Jeff Fisher would have opened up the playbook and let him throw the ball down the field, rather than spoon feeding him the playbook.  If anything, this game was a reminder of just how inept LA’s offense line and receivers are, and how much work they need to be able to actually become a good team.  That’s really a shame though because the defense is damn good, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald is arguably the best player in football right now.  The Rams  aren’t totally out of the NFC Wild Card chase, but the rest of their schedule is a death trap, starting with road games against the Saints and Patriots.  Knowing this team though, they’ll probably end up beating New England and Seattle while losing all the other games that seem winnable.

Elsewhere around Week 11, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are elite again, while the Eagles are mediocre again, as Seattle beat dismantled Philly.  No Gronk, but no problem for the Patriots, as they took care of the 49ers.  The Redskins were all over the Packers, and Kirk Cousins is way better at football than most of you thought.  The Steelers beat up on the Browns, and Cleveland is working on asking the NFL if they can forfeit the rest of their games.  The Lions took down the Jaguars and Calvin Johnson is somewhere wondering why Detroit decided to start winning after he retired.  Carson Palmer must think it’s playoff time because he threw a 100 yard pick 6, as the Vikings beat the Cardinals.  The Cowboys won against the Ravens and Tony Romo didn’t get injured.  That’s always an excellent weekend for Dallas.  The Colts were so desperate to beat the Titans that they actually resorted to using the wild cat.  It worked, but I thought that scheme died after Tim Tebow left the NFL.  The Bills topped the Bengals, and AJ Green is now out for the season with a hamstring tear, which virtually ends the Bengal’s season.  The Giants took down the Bears, and now Kristin Cavallari can’t talk shit anymore on everybody that’s talking shit on her husband, Jay Cutler.  The Bucs surprised the Chiefs, and it’s gotta be tough for K.C. to win when their best player is their kicker.  The Saints beat the Panthers on TNF, in a game that couldn’t go five minutes without a player getting injured.  There were five misses on extra points yesterday.  It’s like Blair Walsh was kicking for every team.  This sound guy definitely picked the wrong time to run by the Vikings tunnel….

The Bruins put up a spirited effort against the Trojans on Saturday night, but that lasted about as long as Hillary Clinton’s chances on election night.  USC got another big game from Sam Darnold, and handled UCLA 36-14 at the Rose Bowl.  Despite the early struggles in this game, USC is back to playing like one of the best programs in the country.  In fact, they are playing so well that it would be a shame if Colorado wins next week, and goes to the Pac 12 title game instead of them.  A Rose Bowl appearance against a team like Ohio State or Michigan would be an amazing feat for a program that appeared to be shattered less than two months ago.  As for the Bruins, most will point to having Mike FaFaul, a walk-on, start this game.  Let’s not pretend though like Josh Rosen would have made all the difference in the world.  UCLA still couldn’t run the ball, and their receivers don’t scare anybody.  What happened to all those big physical lineman they were going to recruit?  Last year the excuse was the injuries on defense, and this year it’s Rosen.  Where was the defense on Saturday night? It let them down, just as much as Jim Mora has at the end of every season.  Once again, the Bruins lose their final home game of the season, as they have the last couple of years.  The last few years it seems like the Bruin football program’s self-worth has been defined by that game.  That’s pathetic because the talent has been there to do so much better on a national level.  Jim Mora has turn this group into a bunch of annual underachievers.

Notre Dame is now 4-7, and they’ve managed to do it without playing a single team that is currently ranked in the AP Poll.  That’s not easy to achieve so congrats to my Irish.  The Irish should play the Cleveland Browns in the Waffle House Flag Football Iron Bowl.  Also, Brian Kelly is now 15-14 in his last 29 games.  Coincidentally, Charlie Strong was 15-14 in his final 29 games at Texas, before he was fired yesterday.  Strong had no chance from the moment he took that job, since he was their fallback plan to Nick Saban.  Louisville players definitely picked the wrong week to complain about not being in the Top 4 of the College Football Playoff, because they got wacked by Houston.  Next week’s top 4 will probably consist of Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, and Alabama.  Even with Washington’s loss to USC, they can still make it into the playoff by winning out, and winning the Pac 12 Title game.  It’s only been a couple of seasons and we already need this playoff to get to 8 or even 16 teams to make it more fair.  It’s not like college kids are doing anything in December anyway over Christmas break.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are getting better, but they reminded us how much work they still have to do the last couple of games.  San Antonio executed at a much higher level, which is a level the young Lakers just aren’t at yet.  The same can be said for Chicago, who rode on the coattails of Jimmy Butler to beat the Lake Show last night.  In all these games the Lakers have lost, they still need to learn to beat the elite teams in the 4th quarter, and play smarter.  That’s why I’m not sold yet that they can make the playoffs, especially when you consider the schedule over the next few weeks.    As for D’Angelo Russell, he was definitely favoring the knee last night, and if it’s an issue, the Lakers should shut him down until he is right.  In case you haven’t realized how good Julius Randle has been,  he’s one of seven players in the Association that are averaging at least 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.  The other 6? Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.  That feels like just the start of players on this team that can develop into excellent NBA players.

Then there’s the Clippers who are still rolling.  The Clipps are 12-2 and Blake Griffin has scored 20+ points in 7 straight games, and he’s been killing people inside the paint.  I’ve always thought that Chris Paul would have a much steeper decline in performance by 31 years of age, but he really hasn’t.  In fact, he’s shooting a career high percentage from three point land, and is averaging a career high in steals per game.  The bench has been nice too, but can we just get to the point where we get to see the Warriors facing the Clippers? We’re still a little over a week away from these two Western Conference powerhouses meeting, but I’m not so convinced the Clippers can beat them, especially not in a 7 game series.

Phil Jackson is arguably the greatest coach in American team sports.  However, as a front office executive, he is completely out of touch with how to handle himself.  His latest blunder as an exec came when he claimed Lebron James requires special treatment, and that when James was with Miami, he and his “posse” wanted to spend an extra night in Cleveland.  Of course James took offense to this.  Obviously Phil Jackson isn’t racist, but he has a history of making crude, ridiculous, and obnoxious comments about players (sometimes his own) through the media.  When you have Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neil on your team and you are winning championships, you can get away with it.  However, as an exec without them, you can’t.  Phil is now trying to run an outdated offense modern day players don’t want to run, and now he’s going to have free agents questioning him prior to joining the Knicks.  This is the guy some of you Laker fans want to be a part of the teams front office? Phil the coach is legendary.  Phil the executive is far from it.

It’s nice to see UCLA basketball taking care of business against the opponents they should be blowing out of the gym.  This may not seem like a big deal, but last night’s blow out win against Long Beach State is the type of game we’ve seen the Bruins lose at home over the last few years, even with elite talent.  TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball have looked great, and the Bruins are on track to be undefeated come their showdown with Kentucky in two weeks.  I still don’t understand why Steve Alford can’t trust a couple of more players to add to his regular rotation.  If he wants to play this up and down style, he needs bodies, especially if he wants to keep the intensity at the defensive end.  I haven’t seen the Bruins look this good so early in five years, but I’m reserving my excitement until I see them play some real teams.

It’s been a very rough first twenty games of the season for the LA Kings, but somehow, they are tied for first place in the Pacific Division after beating the Ducks last night 3-2.  It’s pretty hard to win when you don’t have your starting goaltender, two of your top 6 forwards, and one top four defenseman.  However, the Kings are finding young players like Nic Dowd and Kevin Gravel to pick up the slack, and develop in the process.  I have officially jumped on the “I have a man crush on Nic Dowd bandwagon”.    Not only are these young players how the Kings are going to get through this  stretch without their key players, but it’s how they will better contend for a cup, as they become more reliable when everyone is completely healthy.  As for Anaheim, even after last nights loss they are still part of that three way tie for first in the Pacific, winning 6 of their last 10.  I’d still be a little concerned about Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf though.  Getzlaf has just 1 goal in his first 15 games, while Perry has four in 18 games.  As these guys are aging, their production is coming further into question.

Congratulations to Dave Roberts for winning the NL Manager of the Year.  Roberts did a great job managing a team that lost its only reliable starting pitcher for the majority of the season, and dealing with a bunch of injuries since his GM signed a bunch of guys made out of glass.  Unfortunately for Dodger fans, the team has raised ticket prices on all seats for next seats. I have no problem if a good team wants to raise ticket prices because they are contending for a World Series Championship.  The Dodgers aren’t fooling anybody, thinking they actually are going to assemble a team that is going to truly contend.  Under Andrew Friedman, they are lowering payroll, and looking for “cost-effective options” at every opportunity, as opposed to trying to supplement their great farm system with quality pieces that can put them over the top.  We’re likely to see this play out when Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner sign with new teams in the next few weeks.  If the Dodgers want to raise ticket prices, they should be raising their payroll, rather than lowering it.  The Dodgers have been in the playoffs for 6 of the past 8 years, and they still have no World Series title for the past 28 years.  Not sure how anybody can look at this new front office as any kind of success compared to the previous front office.

Congrats to Mike Trout as well for winning the AL MVP award.  It’s his second career MVP, and a reminder that he is on his way to becoming one of the best players in the history of the game.  That’s also a reminder of why the Angels wouldn’t dare trade him, no matter how bad the team gets.  Also, in case you missed it, Kate Upton, who is engaged to Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander, went off on Twitter after losing the Cy Young award to Rick Porcello.  This woman has no chill……

Finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it so read no further if that is the case.  This episode was a little slow, taking us back to the Hilltop, where Maggie slowly gets her health back.  The Saviors visit Hilltop and bully Gregory for a little bit.  The only real suspenseful moment was whether or not Gregory was going to rat out Sasha and Maggie to the Saviors for staying with the Hilltop, even after saving them from Walkers the night before.  Gregory is nothing more than a figurehead at Hilltop, and by the end of the episode, Maggie has basically positioned herself as the leader of the community.  You might as well add him to the “characters that are for sure going to die” list.  Anybody that cares about their own life more than others in this show is toast, and that’s exactly what he does.  Both Maggie and Sasha are looking more and more bad ass by the minute, and the deaths of Glenn and Abraham are pushing them toward any revenge they can get.  What the hell is Carl thinking?  He goes on a rollerblading date with Enid, and suddenly thinks it’s a good idea to jump in the back of the Saviors truck to go exact some type of revenge. My guess is that Negan is just going to toy with him and not actually kill him.   Sounds more reckless to me than anything else, but then again, Sasha’s request that Jesus do the same is just as ridiculous.  Jesus is one loyal dude though.  Enid had Hershel’s watch. Does everybody get a turn with Hershel’s watch?  That thing has been passed around more than the Kardashian sisters during NBA All-Star weekend.  We’ve got several strong characters developing quickly in this season, but I’m curious to see how it’s going to come together in an attempt to take down the Saviors.  It’s probably the women that lead the charge: Maggie, Sasha, and Michonne, who ultimately lead the war against Negan.


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