Monday Morning Coffee

The Rams' Puka Nacua breaks into the secondary against the Cleveland Browns for a 70-yard touchdown.

December 4, 2023

The Rams are still in the playoff hunt! Yesterday they defeated the Browns at SOFI, pulling away in the 4th, and winning 36-19. The team is now 3-0 since signing Carson Wentz. Just kidding. No they really are 3-0 since then, but Matt Stafford is heating up at the right time, throwing 8 TD’s in that stretch. It’s also helped tremendously getting Kyren Williams back in the lineup. He’s racked up 231 yards and 3 total TDs since his return. Unfortunately Sean McVay stole my joke, that he is probably on his fantasy team, which is why he is using him so much more than his previous running backs. Defeating Baltimore on the road will be tough next week, but if they just win the remaining games they are supposed to (Washington, New Orleans, and the New York Giants), they should have an excellent chance at nabbing the final wild card spot. Remember when everyone thought the Rams were going to tank at the beginning of the season? I guess everyone forgot that McVay can actually coach, Stafford can actually play QB, and Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp are still around.

Meanwhile, the Chargers were desperate for a win and got one against the lowly Patriots. I’ve seen more scoring at junior high dances than what we saw on display yesterday at Gillette Stadium. This week we won’t beat up on Brandon Staley because it was the rain that held the offenses in check. His defense actually did the job, even if it was against the lowly Patriots that made him look like Vince Lombardi. Nothing is more Chargers than covering a 5.5 spread with 6 points. Next week is an absolute must win against Denver, given that they are chasing them in the standings for a playoff spot. It would certainly help if they can run the ball more effectively. You would expect more in this department from a team with Austin Ekeler. The Bolts are still 2 games back of the final playoff spot in the AFC, but they need to leap over 5 teams with 5 games to play to get there. I’m not even sure Jim Carey would say “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” in this case.

The Lakers took care of the Rockets on Saturday at arena, but I still don’t know what to make of the team. On one hand, I’m getting very tired of their excuses. They built this team with depth to withstand injury, and they did last spring. On the other hand, missing Rui Hachimura and Jared Vanderbilt is nothing to sneeze at. 12-9 is certainly much better than where they were last year, and still better than the likes of the Warriors and Clippers. However, they still have a lot to figure out. There was once a time where most Laker fans would have given up the Lakers girls and Dyan Cannon for just one good wing player. Now suddenly, the Lakers have 3 or 4 solid ones, and maybe even some reliable 3-point shooting. That includes D’Angelo Russell, and for all his flaws, he’s actually playing really well. In fact, the assumption that D’Lo will get moved has overshadowed how well he’s actually playing. I’m also even warming up to the idea of this in-season tournament, because if the Lakers play more meaningful games, it will help them build that chemistry and cohesiveness they are working towards much faster. We’ll see what that looks like on Tuesday against the Suns in the quarterfinals.

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As for the Clippers, it looked like they were building some chemistry a week ago, but they are still struggling to put the pieces together after the James Harden trade. Sure they beat the Warriors, but they have their own problems, giving away leads consistently because they apparently think they need to be generous during the holiday season. Russell Westbrook is also becoming a problem too, with James Harden acknowledging that Russ is frustrated with his lack of minutes. Oh, so suddenly Russ could be a problem? I was told a week ago by the PR spin doctors in the Clipper corporate office that it was all his suggestion to go the bench and that it was totally selfless. Suuuuuure. I think they will continue to find ways to score, but I don’t see them having the size or the defense right now to be truly elite. That might ultimately hurt them. More than anything though, Kawhi, PG, and Harden have to figure out how to efficiently divide the basketball among the three of them.

In baseball, the Winter Meetings are getting underway this week. These reports on Shohei Ohtani are telling us absolutely nothing. I expect better from the likes of Jon Morosi and Bob Nightengale, than to tell me he’s going to sign “sometime between now and Christmas, but it could also happen in the next week or later.” If it is really coming down to the Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays, and Cubs, this is simply about using other teams for leverage against the Dodgers. I don’t believe for a second Ohtani wants to play in the Midwest or Canada. I also don’t believe for a second that Arte Moreno can outbid any of those teams. If the Dodgers get Shohei Ohtani, great, but that better not impact their ability to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They desperately need him as their front of the rotation starter. Super smart move by Joe Kelly to agree to a deal with the Dodgers, in case Ohtani signs after him. He can sell his #17 to Ohtani for a Kings Randsome!

There’s also some news about the Angels. With the flurry of moves they made toward the end of the season, they stayed under the 2023 Luxury Tax Threshold. This will save Arte Moreno tons of money. I’m sure Angel fans everywhere are relieved that Arte will now be able to feed his family with all the money he saved, since he acts like he owns a poverty franchise. I’m also amused when I hear the Angels name in any trade rumors involving good players. They don’t have a farm system good enough right now that would allow them to even get a picture of a good player sent to them, let alone a good player.

What a complete disaster week for UCLA. They decide not to fire Chip Kelly, instantly Dante Moore enters the transfer portal, and they lose their OC D’Anton Lynn to USC. It’s hard to feel bad for the Bruins though. They made their beds with the decision to keep Kelly, and now they have to sleep in it. This is where the alumni need to step up and make their voice heard. And by alumni, I don’t mean Casey Wasserman, who had the bright idea to keep Chip Kelly. Thanks to him, UCLA is going to lose its highest recruit ever. This is just a reminder that UCLA is not serious about having a good football program.

I don’t know what the hell happened to UCLA Basketball against UC Riverside, but they were nearly embarrassed. Had they lost, they probably wouldn’t have been allowed back in Westwood again. I don’t care about the injuries either. There is no world where the UCLA Bruin Basketball team should ever lose to UC Riverside unless prime Michael Jordan is playing for the Highlanders. In any case, it’s a good thing the Bruins don’t play until December 9th because they need the time to get healthy.

Finally, the last 4-Team College Football Playoff was announced yesterday. With Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama getting in. That leaves Florida State with the biggest gripe for not getting in. It’s like George Kostanza himself picked the four teams. However, it’s also a reminder that College Football isn’t always about the results on the field. The Champion has never been determined in the most fair way, even with what we thought were improvements to the system. Next year might get a little better with 12-teams, but then we’ll still be debating what 9-3 teams should be invited to the party.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 27. 2023

The Rams dismantled Arizona yesterday afternoon 37-14, and Matt Stafford threw 4 TD passes. That was pretty much how I envisioned the Rams winning most of their games this season, but ironically, it’s been their defense that has gotten them most of their wins. Yesterday though, it’s fair to say that it was both the balance of offense and defense that got them the win. It was nice to see Kyren Williams back in the lineup and looking very effective again. Darrell Henderson must be looking for a Sean McVay voodoo doll after this. The Rams have tossed him to the side over and over again. The Rams are still very much in this playoff chase with 6 games left. They’ll have to win the games you expect them to in Washington, New Orleans, and New York. However, they’ll also have to come up with one win against somebody unexpected that is San Francisco, Cleveland, or Baltimore.

As for the Chargers, they were really held in check by the Ravens last night at SOFI. I can’t say I’m surprised because the Ravens are a Super Bowl Championship level team. However, in typical Charger fashion, they made some head scratching decisions. How many times are they going to throw screen passes to 31 year old Keenan Allen, which resulted in nothing?
Quentin Johnston is allergic to catching footballs. I think it’s safe to say the Bolts aren’t as bad as everyone thinks. They are actually much worse! Of course we’ve talked about it ad nauseum, but it’s coaching. Justin Herbert is quickly becoming Matt Stafford in Detroit with Brandon Staley coaching him. The Chargers feel closer to getting a top 5 draft pick than a playoff spot this season.

Nothing could be more UCLA Football than losing to Cal after beating USC. This is a perfect reminder what you get with Chip Kelly. One step forward and one step backward. This man is 34-34. The team is practically burning money for a has-been coach that is giving them average football. The transfer portal opens up on December 4th. There’s a lot of questions about Dante Moore, not to mention, who else might be available to help UCLA improve. However, I’m wondering if we can somehow put Chip Kelly and his bloated salary in the transfer portal and get another coach!

In the NBA, things are looking up for the Lakers. They’ve won 7 of their last 9 games, and they are getting healthier. They’ve been doing this without Jared Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura, and recently Cam Reddish, who have all turned out to be excellent defenders. Yes, even Cam Reddish, who I suggested should be playing in China not long ago, but then he got his act together and start balling before getting hurt. Even once they get those 3 players back, there’s still a higher ceiling they can get to. Anthony Davis is playing well, but he can still become closer to the Anthony Davis we saw in the bubble, or even at the beginning of last year. Austin Reaves is also getting better, and has yet to reach his ceiling. Right now, I don’t care about the trade rumors. I’m convinced this team needs to work with what they have, because they have what they need.

As for the Clippers, they are trying to figure things out with James Harden in the mix. They did manage to blow out the Mavericks on Saturday, but they have to be a little concerned with that fact that almost half of their wins have come against the Spurs. Since the Harden trade, it seems like Paul George has been the least impacted, and been very consistent with his play. On the other hand though, Kawhi has been very hot and cold, and Russell Westbrook has struggled since going to the bench. Something else to watch out for is if Westbrook suddenly doesn’t become as vocal of a leader in a reduced role, since Harden, Kawhi, and PG, aren’t exactly great vocal leaders. Harden still doesn’t look super comfortable either, shooting just 34% from three. On the bright side, the strip club industry is thriving with the Beard in town!

Everybody is trying to tell you that the worst kept secret in baseball is Shohei Ohtani going to the Dodgers. Although it’s a possibility, I am by no means confident that it’s going to happen. Mostly because the Dodgers typically are risk averse when it comes to giving out long-term deals. Even with money to spend, that’s not really how they operate, with rare exception. More than anything though, I’d like to see the Boys in Blue aggressively go after pitching this off-season. Not only can they sign a starter like Yoshinobu Yammamoto, but they can also trade for an elite one like Corbin Burnes or Tyler Glasnow. It’s probably time to take their farm system depth, and turn it into some reliable major league production.

Meanwhile, the Angels are trying to figure out how to improve their team, but the reality of it is, there isn’t much they can do. The Halos have $73 million committed next season to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Both of them at this point are nothing more than part-time players, and Rendon is much less than that now. Once again, the Angels lack pitching, and pitching costs money and prospects. The Halos have none of that. Their prospects couldn’t even get them James Harden in a trade. This has become such a roster disaster, you have to ask yourself if re-signing Shohei Ohtani is a sound baseball move for them, considering they would be devoting their payroll to three players with very little resources remaining to improve their team. Of course Arte Moreno only cares about the business and marketability of Ohtani, and not about winning. The three of them would have to be in the lineup nearly every game to give the team a fighting chance. Yet the best Perry Minasian could offer was he expects them to be in the lineup “more often than not”. Very reassuring!

On one hand, I’m impressed that UCLA Basketball appears to be much better than everyone thought. All these Euros are making UCLA look like they might be a top 10 team, and team with the potential to win the PAC-12. With that being said, the close losses against Marquette and Gonzaga are a reminder that in big games, they seem to fall short. They are always right there, with a play or two away from conquering the elite. Yet, the execution in these games just isn’t there. The kids are talented, but they are different in all these runs. The common thread? It’s Mick Cronin. He’s a great coach, his team defends well, but there’s a few things he can improve on in these games. He has to trust his depth, and he has to be a bit more creative with some of the offensive play calling. These are the differences in these games that can get the Bruins over the hump.

Finally, on the ice, I’m sure many of you are going to be calling me out for not issuing an apology letter to the LA Kings. I admit, they are playing great hockey, and off to one of their best starts in franchise history. Yes, I’m especially impressed that they have a top 5 defense and a top 2 penalty killing unit, while also having a top 2 offense. With that being said, it’s November. The Kings had a great regular season last year, only to get punked in the playoffs for the 2nd year in a row by the Oilers. If the Kings can keep this up in the spring, they will likely be real cup contenders, then they will get my apology letter. Otherwise, it will be same old Kings.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 20, 2023

The Lakers fought their way to a win over the Rockets last night. They are now two games over .500. Lebron has been ballin, but I wish he didn’t have to expend so much energy in these wins. He’s in year 21, and he can still carry a team, but depending on any 38-year-old to carry your team is a dangerous game. I don’t know who needs to hear this but the answer for the Lakers isn’t trading for Zach Lavine. This guy is a nice player, but you’re going to have to trade D-Lo plus a lot more for him, crushing your depth. Lavine isn’t so much better than D-Lo to give up those kind of assets and draft capital for him. I won’t even bother addressing the idiots suggesting giving up Anthony Davis for Lavine either. Unless somehow Donovan Mitchell becomes available, the Lakers will need to just work with what they have, and find a way to build the momentum they had last year. That team didn’t reach their ceiling, so there’s still room for improvement.

Brilliant master PR class by the Clippers last week. They had to let the the world know that it was Russell Westbrook who told the coaching staff he wanted to come off the bench and sacrifice. Yea ok guys, sure thing. Especially after Russ didn’t speak to the media after the Clippers beat the Rockets on Friday. The Clippers are definitely playing better in the last couple of games with Harden in the lineup, but the offense is still very clumsy looking, with all these guys playing “your turn, my turn” offense. That will only get you so far, but let’s see if this team can develop any kind of chemistry in the coming weeks before getting too far behind in the Western Conference standings.

To baseball, where we should all just be prepared for stupid things to happen in this offseason. Aaron Nola is a 30 year old pitcher who gives you some moments, and he signed a 7 year $172 million contract with the Phillies. If he’s worth $24 million a season, I’m sure Blake Snell, Yoshibobu Yamamoto, let alone Shohei Ohtani, will get stupid money. However, it’s just the going rate if you want to improve your ball club right now. Even someone like Dylan Cease, who the Dodgers are reportedly trying to trade for, would cost crazy amounts of prospects because of his cost control. That sounds crazy, but not as stupid as the rumor the Dodgers could trade for Mike Trout. Why? So they can add a guy making boat loads who is never available? I don’t believe that one for a second.

In College Football, USC laid an egg against UCLA on Saturday at the Coliseum. They looked totally unprepared from the start. For USC to finish the season 7-5, and likely headed to some garbage Las Vegas Bowl, that couldn’t be more disappointing for them and their fan base. It’s also devastating for Caleb Williams, who has probably played his last game at USC and is going to the NFL. Lincoln Riley has tons of work to do, namely adding defense, discipline, toughness, and a running game to his program. That could be tough in the short run when going to the Big 10. As for the Bruins, it was a nice win, they played with desperation, as if their coaches job was on the line. While I give Chip Kelly credit for having his boys prepared, I still thinking keeping him as coach is ridiculous. This isn’t what the Bruins signed up for with him when they decided to pay him $30 million. No top recruits at all. If they are content as a perennial bowl program that stays within the rules and graduates players at a high rate, they can do that without having a coach that is so expensive. Kelly also isn’t even personable with the media and the UCLA community either, which is tough to deal with when you’re just a mediocre coach. Plus if Dante Moore enters the transfer portal, that blame squarely falls on Chips shoulders.

In the NFL, the Rams pulled out a gutty win against the Seahawks yesterday. Matt Stafford took a massive hit, yet somehow recovered in time to help LA win. However, Cooper Kupp injured his ankle, and could miss some time. This team feels like it’s being held together but duct tape and super glue, yet they are still in the NFC Playoff chase with a 4-6 record. The Packers, Vikings, and Seahawks all seem very vulnerable in the standings, but I feel like the Rams are going to be kicking themselves from those losses to the Packers and Steelers the last few weeks. I sure hope Sean McVay can find a way to better protect Stafford, who has the mobility of a sub-zero refrigerator, over the next couple of weeks. Otherwise, he’s going to get lots of aggravation watching Carson Wentz take every snap.

Can we stop pretending like the Chargers are going to do something with this “super talented roster” we keep hearing about? The Bolts fell to 4-6, and only have a better record than two AFC team: the Titans and Patriots. They made Jordan Love look like Dan Marino, and they once again, could not hold onto a lead. Love became the fifth quarterback this year to throw for at least 300 yards against them. Losing Joey Bosa to a foot injury won’t help their cause, but they have bigger problems than that. Brandon Staley is now having meltdowns both on and off the field, snapping at reporters who question the quality of his defense. Staley claims that they are losing because of other mistake the team made, such as offensively, but he’s forgetting the fact that he’s supposed to be a defensive coach. I don’t care how good Justin Herbert is, if they can’t slow down the opposition’s passing attack, they are going to be watching the playoffs from the couch.

Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa grimaces as he's taken by cart off the field after suffering an apparent foot injury.

Elsewhere around the NFL in Week 11, the Ravens and Bengals played the worst game of all-time on Thursday for Fantasy Football Owners. Joe Burrow and Mark Andrews injuries, also hurt the NFL product too. Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton turned into Tom Brady and Randy Moss at the end of the Broncos win over Minnesota. The Bears defense was so bad against the Lions, they might have stood a better chance using cones instead of lineman against Jared Goff. The Giants are going to petition the league to see if they can play against the Commanders every week from here on out. Meanwhile, Zach Wilson couldn’t do anything right yesterday: missing receivers, tripping over himself, running into Robert Saleh and taking him down, as well as getting tea bagged by his opponents.

Finally, everybody is talking about NFL sideline reporter Charissa Thompson’s claim that sometimes she has to make up stories while reporting on the sideline because sometimes the coaches won’t talk to her. She will not receive any blowback from her employer about this, nor should she. She also shouldn’t receive criticism from her peers, who are complaining the most. It’s like they are upset because they think we’re suddenly going to realize that so many people in journalism aren’t really telling us the facts, but just make up their own news anyway. The lines between journalism and opinions have become extremely blurred, to the point where you basically have to do your own homework to determine what’s factual and what isn’t. This goes way beyond sports, and is just part of journalist in general these days. I don’t love it, but what are people so upset about, pretending like this is earth shattering news? Frankly, Thompson’s made up stories, are still probably way more real than many of the other stories we hear throughout the sports world. Sorry journalists, the jig is up!

Monday Morning Coffee

November 13, 2023

The Lakers beat the Blazers last night, but they are so obnoxious right now. When you hear Lebron, AD, and other members of the team talk, they act like it’s injuries that are responsible for their mediocre start. Sorry but that’s a lame excuse. They re-signed all these guys for continuity. This same supporting cast led the Lakers to the playoffs last season with Lebron and AD coming in and out of the lineup. Now suddenly they can’t play? Before last night the Lakers were +53 with Lebron on the court, and -77 with him off the court. In 81 minutes with Lebron and AD on the court together the Lakers are -78. This team is just lazy, unfocused, and their coaching staff is giving away games to experiment with lineups. The worst part about it is in this particular stretch, they should be banking tons of wins because their schedule is softer than Charmin toilet paper. No the answer isn’t trading for Kyrie Irving, or wrecking the team for some third star. It’s just being focused.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have lost 5 in a row, and are struggling to fit James Harden in with their team. I’m not saying it’s not going well, but the Clippers are a -28 with Harden on the floor so far. Now, Ty Lue is staggering the minutes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Harden. That’s actually even worse because it’s prolonging the time it’s going to take for these 4 to build chemistry together. The bigger concern though if it does take a long time for these guys to build chemistry, will Harden complain and start sitting out again? It sounds ridiculous, but nothing would surprise me anymore with this guy.

To baseball, where the hot stove is heating up with all the off-season rumors. Nothing has happened yet, but there’s tons of speculation around the Dodgers. We know Shohei Ohtani is going to be pursued, but acquiring pitching has to be a priority. Tony Gonsolin will miss 2024, Dustin May might miss most of it. Clayton Kershaw, even if he returns, will miss half the season, and Walker Buehler is going to be on an innings limit. That means Japanese 25-year-old Yoshinobu Yammamoto needs to be signed, and if they can trade for Corbin Burnes, that would fix a lot. I know everyone wants them to re-sign Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner, but I don’t really see either one. Bellinger’s best years are behind him, and after one respectable bounce back season, the Dodgers shouldn’t pay him big money. Besides, they have James Outman, who is young, cheap, and improving daily. As for Turner, yes he can hit, but he’s not the defender he once was. The Dodgers can do better with finding a younger, more athletic, infield bat.

As for the Angels, they hired Ron Washington as their new manager. This one is actually somewhat impressive for the Halos. Washington is a real name that has led a team to the World Series. However, that was a decade ago, and baseball has changed since then. It’s a much more analytics driven game, and managers have even less control now than they used to. In some ways this reminds me of the Joe Madden hire. Madden had success with the Cubs, but the game changed a lot by the time he got to the Angels. That’s exactly where we are with Washington. I’m sure the Angels celebrated his hire by taking him out to Zankou Chicken and having Washington pay for Arte and Perry Minasian’s meal.

The Chargers looked fantastic on offense yesterday, but equally as atrocious on defense. I was told Brandon Staley was a defensive coach. So much for that. Big plays were again a problem Sunday as the Lions generated eight that netted at least 20 yards. If you have a defense with Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, and Derwin James, you shouldn’t be getting gashed like that repeatedly. I guess this is what happens when you can’t play the Jets and Bears every week. The Bolts have 8 games left, and the have 5 teams to climb over to get to the playoffs. Considering they have to play the Ravens, Bills, and Broncos in that stretch, I have a hard time envisioning this team get into the playoffs, let alone finish the season over .500.

The Rams are in the midst of a bye week, and they definitely need it. They signed Carson Wentz last week, which I don’t expect to go well. Wentz may look like Prince Harry, but he certainly doesn’t have much going for him as an NFL quarterback anymore. This also goes to show you just how concerned the Rams should be about Matthew Stafford. What’s really a shame is that Stetson Bennett is out for the season for some kind of personal reason. That kid looked like he had some promise to develop behind Stafford and maybe even a quarterback of the future for this team.

It turns out that firing Alex Grinch wouldn’t instantly solve USC’s problems. The Trojans got beat by Oregon on Saturday, which ended their hopes of playing in the Conference Championship game. The result was not surprise given how USC has played the last month, but the game was very symbolic of most of USC’s season. Poor execution on defense, Caleb Williams was under pressure, and the team was very undisciplined. I’m sure it’s disappointing for the Trojans, who badly need to beat UCLA next week just to save some face for Lincoln Riley. There’s a lot of larger picture questions to be answered after this year, and if Caleb Williams departs for the NFL, quarterback will be one of them once again, in addition to the defensive issues they’ll need to solve.

Then there’s the Bruins, who lost a shameful game at the Rose Bowl to Arizona State. I’m sorry but there are simply no excuses to lose to a team with nothing to play for, that basically gave up on their season weeks ago. Even if UCLA was missing it’s top two quarterbacks, their talent is head and shoulders better than ASU’s. This is all on Chip Kelly. When the Bruins decided to fork over millions for him to be their head coach, this was not anywhere close to the expectations. In fact, the results have arguably been worse than the previous two regimes, yet they are burning so much more money. Even worse was the extension they gave Kelly about 10 months ago. How you can possibly think that things will get any better with Kelly as the coach when they are headed to The Big 10 next year? Martin Jarmond is going to have a lot of questions to answer to the Bruin alums.

Pasadena, CA - UCLA head coach Chip Kelly on the sidelines during a Pac-12 Conference.

At least UCLA can feel a little better about themselves because basketball season started. The Bruins are 2-0, albeit against 2 underwhelming opponents, but right now they’ll take the wins any way they come. So far, it’s very hard to know just what this team is, as they have a very European look to them. Adem Bona looked like a beast in the first game, and just an average player on Friday. The same can be said for Dylan Andrews, who was way down against St Francis- PA, and way up against Lafayette. The guys I’m most interested in seeing what they are though are Lazar Stefanovic and Aday Mara. Stefanovic played well against Lafayette and logged 35 minutes. He wasn’t all that efficient but he was looking for his shot more than the first game, and appeared more comfortable. Aday Mara on the other hand looks very out of place so far, so he looks like he’s a little bit away from making any meaningful contributions. Honestly, the best thing about this team is the unknown. Then again, it’s also the worst.

UCLA guard Dylan Andrews is fouled by Lafayette guard Devin Hines while driving to the basket at Pauley Pavilion.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 6, 2023

That was just an embarrassing loss by the Rams yesterday against the Packers. I haven’t seen anything so humiliating since last week against Dallas. Brett Rypien looks like some guy the Rams pulled out of the stands to play QB. Les Snead couldn’t have swapped their 6th and 7th round picks with Arizona for Josh Dobbs? He’s a far better option as a back-up. Was a great move by Minnesota in attempt to salvage their season. The Rams needed to give the ball to Darell Henderson and Royce Freeman about 35-40 times yesterday to win, but instead, they got behind and needed Rypien to throw it 30 times. It wasn’t just Stafford’s injury that hurt, as Tyler Higbee was banged up, linebacker Ernest Jones and right tackle Rob Havenstein were out too. The defense actually held up yesterday, but the Rams aren’t going to be able to win if their offense is that inept. No need to overthink this though. It’s not coaching, like Samuel L. Jackson tried to point out on Twitter yesterday. It’s injuries. It stinks, but that’s how it is sometimes and you need to accept it.

I’d just like to point out that when the Chargers wake up this morning, they are going to be looking at the AFC West standings and see the Raiders with more wins than them. That’s right folks, the Las Vegas Raiders, who currently don’t have a coach or GM. I know what you’re thinking folks. Having Brandon Staley as your coach is like basically not having a coach, but that wasn’t the expectation coming into this season. Tonight will be a very interesting test for the Bolts against the Jets and their tough defense. Something to watch tonight will be what the Chargers do offensively after halftime. They’ve scored only one touchdown over their past four second halves. That can’t continue if this team is going to go anywhere in 2023.

To College Football, where it finally happened. USC lost to Washington, but Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch was relieved of his duties. Apparently giving up 571 yards of total offense and extinguishing any remaining hope of a PAC-12 Title was the final straw. By almost every available metric, USC has one of the worst defenses in college football. Through 10 games, the unit has given up 34.5 points per game, on pace for the worst mark in school history by a wide margin. The real issue though is the lost opportunity for the Trojans, as their defense struggled in the last month of last season, giving up 2,000 yards in the last month before losing in the Cotton Bowl to Tulane. The signs were there, but Lincoln Riley didn’t make a change. Had he then, this season may have turned out very different. In the big picture though, Riley will need to fix his defense in a big way if he intends to meet the expectations of USC and their fans.

Then there’s UCLA, which lost to Arizona in the desert on Saturday night. That’s one loss that makes you say “same ol’ UCLA”. The Bruins made so many mistakes, they missed three opportunities in the red zone, and came up empty on two field goal attempts. These are the types of losses that were not supposed to happen when they hired Chip Kelly. Things were supposed to be different. Not only are they not different, things are worse. After 6 years, Kelly would have to win 16 straight to equal Jim Mora & Bob Toledo’s winning % at UCLA (they were both fired after 6 & 7 yrs respectively). He’s 5-28 against teams who finish with a winning record & he enjoys a -294 point differential against these teams. Imagine paying all that money for Kelly, only to lose more games! Where is that GIF of The Joker burning money? The idea that UCLA needs consistency joining the Big Ten and therefore can’t fire him is nonsense when you consider that the only things they’ll ever be under Kelly are consistently out-coached, consistently out recruited, and consistently outplayed.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are not looking sharp at all in the early going. They are 6 games in, and just 3-3. There’s no need to panic, as the win against the Clippers was solid, but there are some disturbing patterns. There’s no urgency to start games, as they’ve consistently trailed by double digits at the end of the 1st quarter every game, and their 3rd quarters are poor too. They also show a complete lack of interest and engagement at times, which we saw on Saturday against Orlando. This team isn’t old. They are actually fairly young outside of Lebron and AD, but need focus and consistency. They are very capable of getting it, even with all their injuries. I’d also like to see the ball in Austin’s hands more to relieve the usage of Lebron, and get him going more. The Lakers next 9 games are against crummy opponents, so they should really be able to reel off 8 or 9 wins, but they need to focus. Injuries are no excuse with their depth. Lebron says the Lakers are like the Steelers, who have been outplayed statistically in all their games but have a winning record. Except the Lakers don’t have a winning record. I get where you’re going with this Lebron, but this is more reasons why kids need to go to college!

Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket past Magic forward Jonathan Isaac.

As for the Clippers, they finally pulled the trigger on a James Harden trade last week. This is one extremely risky trade for the Clips, which gives them a very high ceiling, but a lower floor, especially in future seasons. The Clips plan on moving Harden to the 2, and having Russ play the point, with PG, Kawhi, and Zubac in the front court. While that sounds great on paper, this isn’t 2016 anymore. Harden is best as a playmaker with the ball in his hands, especially as he’s gotten older. Russell Westbrook is not a great shooter, so floor spacing could be a problem for this group. Plus, when I hear Harden talk, he claims that “he is the system”, which makes me think he’s going to show up in LA and think offensively he will eat first. Only time will tell here if this will work, but we’ll get our first look at the new look Clippers tonight in New York. Harden will also be disappointed to learned that since he’s a Clipper, he’ll get treated as a second class citizen in LA, resulting in getting seated by the bathroom in every restaurant he goes out to.


In baseball, the off-season is upon us. Something tells me, Shohei Ohtani is going to be making a free agent decision in the next few weeks, and maybe even before Thanksgiving. Dude has only had 6 years to decide, so I’m pretty sure he knows what he wants at this point. There was also some Clayton Kershaw news last week, when he announced that he will undergo shoulder surgery, and is hopeful to return to play at some point next summer. Now the question remains if he returns, will that return be for the Dodgers? The man has definitely earned the right to do whatever he wants, and if that is to pitch for his hometown Rangers, the defending World Series Champs, then so be it. However, I still feel like reaching 3,000 strikeouts and finishing his career in a Dodger uniform would be much more meaningful for him. For those of you saying, “He stunk in the postseason, I want him off the team,” Mookie and Freddie stunk in the postseason for 3 games, and you don’t want them off the team. Clayton Kershaw as your #4 starter would actually be pretty nice. I’m sure Andrew Friedman and his computer will make the right decision here.

Monday Morning Coffee

October 30, 2023

The Lakers are 1-2 to start the season, but I’m not freaking out like many people are. The Nuggets are the defending champions. The Suns may have played without Booker and Beal, but who knows what they are even with them, and the Kings are a very good team. However, the Darvin Ham needs to clean up this rotation quickly. Glad that he is admitting that though. Rui Hachimura, Christian Wood, and Max Christie need more minutes. Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, and Jaxton Hayes need to be chained to the bench for the time being. Austin Reaves also needs the ball in his hand more, and AD has to stop going for offensive rebounds he has no chance of getting, compromising the transition defense. If they can clean those things up, and stop bricking open 3’s, we can stop talking about how many minutes Lebron is playing or not playing, and the guy can actually get some rest.

The Clippers on the other hand have not had a difficult schedule to start the season, and they’ve mostly taken care of business, winning 2 of 3. They did have a hiccup on Friday against the Jazz, which can happen in the Western Conference. There’s really no truly “easy nights”, even against the likes of the Blazers, Jazz, and Spurs, but none of those 3 I would expect to be in the playoffs. The rumors around James Harden continue to persist though. Both the Clippers and the Sixers seem to have drawn a line in the sand, but for the Sixers, it’s getting way more uncomfortable than I imagined, and Harden may get his way with a trade. Whether or not that trade is to the Clippers remains to be seen.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford wears a bandage after injuring his thumb against Dallas.

That was definitely a rough day for the Rams yesterday, who fell to 3-5 after getting blown out by the Cowboys. The worst of it though is Matt Stafford suffering a thumb injury. If he’s out for any extended period of time, you can kiss this season goodbye. However, if that is the case, the Rams should seriously considering tanking to get a higher draft pick. They might not be in the Caleb Williams or Drake Maye sweepstakes right now, but they could be very soon, even if Stafford is out for the next say, 4 games. The Rams defense really got obliterated yesterday though. Dak Prescott looked more like Dan Marino with all those darts he was throwing to CeDee Lamb.

As for the Chargers, the heat is off of Brandon Staley for a day after beating the Bears on Sunday Night. This game also goes to show you that even with a busted middle finger and bad coaching, Justin Herbert is still really good and able to throw TD passes. Austin Ekeler looks like he’s healthy again too, which was much needed. Unfortunately, the Chargers can’t play the Bears every week, although I’m sure they will petition the league to do so. They’ll get the Jets next week who are feeling really good about themselves, followed by the Lions at home.

To College Football, where USC escaped against Cal over the weekend. They dropped 50 points on them and you would think they would have blown them out but nope! The defense is still horrific. You have to love at this point on National broadcasts, that there is speculation that Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch has compromising photos of Lincoln Riley, since that has to be the only way he still has his job. If you weren’t happy with the Trojans performance yesterday, you’re really not gonna like what happens against Washington, Oregon and maybe even UCLA. How is USC only a 3.5 underdog against Washington? Vegas must be giving away money for free.

Meanwhile, the Bruins put on an impressive display against Colorado over the weekend at the Rose Bowl. It’s the UCLA defense that is most impressive, which has featured a relentless pass rush. Ethan Garbers looked solid, but at some point, I have a feeling that Kelly will go back to Dante Moore, but he’s waiting for the right time to make the switch. With their remaining schedule, UCLA could easily win 10 games, but it might not be enough to get into the Pac-12 championship game with Oregon and Washington still likely to finish as the Top 2 seeds in the conference. Nevertheless, a 10-win season for this group would be impressive.

In baseball, the World Series is going to wrap up this week, and the Dodgers can only look at Corey Seager like an ex-girlfriend, and “the one who got away”. Seager was viewed as a guy the Dodgers liked, but somewhat injury prone and not worth over $300 million. Of course now, nobody is saying that with his production in the World Series. In case we all forgot, Seager actually won a World Series MVP for the Dodgers in 2020, so he gave you all the proof you needed that he was a player worthy of that contract. One way or another, between Seager and Trea Turner, the Dodgers let too much talent walk out the door without replacing it. Hopefully this off-season they will correct that.

Then there’s the Angels, who are trying to find their next manager. The names that are coming up? Torii Hunter, Darin Erstad, and Tim Salmon. What a joke! Since Arte Moreno knows he can’t get any real managers to come run his team, and since he’s cheap, he figures let’s go hire a popular former Angel with no experience, who the fans will get excited about. Unfortunately Mr Moreno, your fans are not as naive as you are. They all know the game you are running, and you’re only making yourself look worse and worse with every decision you make. This will be no different.

Monday Morning Coffee

October 23, 2023

Brett Maher absolutely screwed the Rams yesterday against the Steelers. The Rams had more total yards, rushing yards, passing yards, yards per play, better third down efficiency, fewer punts, and better time of possession, yet still lost. Maher missed two field goals and an extra point, which was the difference in the game. When you’re probably on the playoff bubble, it’s these types of losses that can keep you out of the postseason. When Maher gets to the facility tomorrow, don’t be surprised if they change the locks to keep him out. Kenny Pickett was also short on that sneak, which didn’t help either, and that wasn’t a pass interference play on Witherspoon. That unfortunately felt like a home game for the Steelers, but we also forget that we didn’t have football for about 20 years in SoCal, so there are going to be some remaining transplant fans that will exist for a while. The next two won’t be easy on the road at the Cowboys and the Packers, but maybe the football Gods will give the Rams a few breaks along the way to even things out.

You can’t tell me you’re surprised by seeing the Chargers get beat by the Chiefs yesterday at Arrowhead. However, that doesn’t change how disappointing the way they lost is. I realize that Patrick Mahomes is really good and that Travis Kelce is basically invincible since he’s dating Taylor Swift. However, Brandon Staley is supposed to be a DEFENSIVE COACH. His defense is getting completely obliterated on a weekly basis, and yesterday was just another stark reminder of that. I think the question also has to be asked at this point if Justin Herbert is regressing as a quarterback because of Staley, and not able to take his game to another level because of him. We’ve seen some of his other peers like Joe Burrow and Tua Tagavailoa take their game to another level with good coaching. Herbert clearly doesn’t have that. Sure you might be able to point to his hand injury, but some are starting to question if he’s really a good 4th quarter or clutch quarterback. If Staley weren’t his coach, you probably wouldn’t be wondering that. The real question though is how the Swifties feel about Taylor’s secret handshake with Brittany Mahomes.

Elsewhere around the NFL in Week 7, Josh Allen and the Bills lost to the lowly Patriots, and they haven’t been this embarrassed since the last time the fans tailgated in Buffalo. The Lions decided to have a throwback game to when they stunk, and got blown out by the Ravens 38-6. The Bears dismantled the Raiders in the backup quarterback bowl. The Giants beat the Commanders, Tyrod Taylor looked solid, and they have to be wondering if Daniel Jones was the wrong guy to give $44 million to. And the Packers got beat the Broncos, and Jordan Love is apparently not allowed to throw a pass beyond 5 yards.

In a matter of two weeks, the Trojan season looks like a complete catastrophe. USC lost to Utah for their second straight loss, and there could easily be 2 or 3 more losses to come before the end of the regular season. The Trojan defense is still looking more inept by the game, with poor tackling and poor scheming, and Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch looks like he will need to start looking on LinkedIn for his next gig if he keeps this up. What people need to realize is that this was actually a much bigger rebuilding job than you originally thought, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Caleb Williams covered up a lot of those flaws because he’s that good, but somewhere along the way, USC stopped recruiting lineman and good defenders. However, what’s more disturbing is the rumors circulating that Riley is interested in an NFL job, especially one where Caleb Williams ends up. That sounds ridiculous though for an NFL team to hire him, especially when his defenses couldn’t tackle a car parked on fraternity row.

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Then there’s UCLA, who beat up Stanford. However, the story is that Chip Kelly decided to switch quarterbacks and go back to Junior Ethan Garbers. Look, if this move was really made because Dante Moore wasn’t healthy, then fine. However, I can’t help but think Kelly made the switch because Moore made mistakes against the three toughest opponents on the schedule so far. If that’s the case, Kelly is wrong for ripping the confidence from the man who is likely to become a star college quarterback in the next year or two, especially against an opponent that could have helped him regain his confidence. Naturally, Garbers looked great against an opponent that should be playing in the annual Women’s Lingerie Bowl instead of the PAC-12. Hopefully Moore gets back in the lineup against Colorado for the long-term benefit of the UCLA Football program.

The Lakers are ready to get the season underway tomorrow night on the road against the Denver Nuggets. Savvy move by the NBA to schedule the Lakers on the Nuggets banner raising night, otherwise, nobody would care and nobody would watch. Then again, I’m still not actually sure the Nuggets care they won the championship, as they seem to care more that they beat the Lakers along the way, given all the trash talking they’ve been doing since. In typical Laker fan fashion, after one bad preseason game against the Suns, they suddenly have no depth, Christian Wood is terrible, and the Lake Show is doomed. Relax people. This Laker team is going to be solid. I’m not going to promise you they will win the title, but they will be in the mix in the Western Conference, and they certainly shouldn’t start the season 2-10 like they did last year. They might start 0-2 given that they have the Nuggets and Suns to start the season, but relax. This is a good team that will be competing well every night in a tough Western Conference.

As for the Clippers, I’m surprised we’re still hearing the noise about James Harden. Bringing Harden in is a terrible idea for them. If Kawhi and Paul George start missing games, Harden is going to be salty and bring his bad attitude to the table again. That’s exactly what he did in Brooklyn when Kyrie and KD started missing games. The only positive is that strip clubs in the Los Angels area will be thriving if Harden comes to LA. Also interesting that we haven’t heard any talks about extensions for Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. Something tells me that Steve Ballmer isn’t quite ready to back up the brinks truck for his start until they start showing up to work a little bit more often.

We’re now almost two weeks remove from another traumatic Dodger postseason exit. I’m not sure if many of you realize this, but the Dodgers can easily spend over $100 million this off-season to improve what is already a pretty good regular season team. However, how they spend that money is going to be very interesting. Anybody with half a brain can tell you they need 2-3 starting pitchers, and even people with no brain can tell you they should at least pursue Shohei Ohtani. However, even with all that they need more to succeed in October. They need better defense up the middle and in the outfield, better place discipline, and better run manufacturing capability. The Dodgers can literally do anything they want this off-season, because they are flush with all the resources they need. It’s not even the pitching or Ohtani that I’m really keeping my eye on. It’s the other fringe moves to improve those deficient areas I mentioned, which won’t be talked about, that I’m looking for. Ultimately, It’s how they use all those resources that will be how their future is defined.

Monday Morning Coffee

October 16, 2023

Look people, don’t make excuses. I don’t want to hear that the MLB postseason format needs fixing. It’s the Dodgers playoff approach that needs fixing. That’s why they were eliminated last week, and that’s exactly what I’ve been telling you needs fixing for over a year now. By the way, Lance Lynn should just pitch to Mookie Betts in next year’s home run derby if he wants to win. Lynn clearly knows how to throw those meatballs. In all seriousness though, the Dodgers have been going to the postseason for over a decade straight, and there’s only two postseasons in that time where they actually hit consistently. 2017, and 2020. Don’t tell me you don’t like Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman as leaders or that they aren’t “passionate enough” or some nonsense like that. The bottom line is that when your lineup is dependent on a couple of sluggers to hit the three-run homer because analytics tells you to sit back and do so, you’re going to go through droughts. Obviously the Dodgers need pitching, and we knew that going in with all their injuries. They can fix that by signing the likes of Yoshinobu Yamamoto from Japan, and another starter. However, they need to look for players that are just good at putting the ball in play, have a high-on base percentage, and can steal bases. That’s how you must manufacture runs when your sluggers go through droughts in the playoffs. If they get Shohei Ohtani that’s great, but to be honest, spending $500 million on a power-hitting DH doesn’t fill any need for this team. If you want to replace Dave Roberts because he’s a bad in-game manager, you have no idea how baseball works. If you want to replace him because you think they need a new voice and leader, then that’s fair. I also don’t want to see Clayton Kershaw retire after the last start he had. Can’t go out like that.

While we are on the topic of baseball, I cannot imagine that the Angels would get anybody that is high profile to take their managerial job. I’ve heard rumors of Buck Showalter, or even John Farrell, but these guys aren’t going to want to let some half-ass analytics people from The University of Phoenix tell them how to do their jobs. The Halos are probably going to get someone who has never managed before, or someone who wants an opportunity to run the show (or at least thinks he will with Arte as his boss), or has previous ties to the organization. Think Walt Weiss, Ron Roenicke, or Ron Washington if they are lucky.

To College Football, where USC finally got exposed over the weekend, losing to my Fighting Irish of Notre Dame 48-20. The Irish defense played very well, as they have for much of the season, but Caleb Williams also played so bad, I was beginning to wonder if he had money on Notre Dame and the under. It was a bad night for USC, but ironically, it really wasn’t their defense that did them in. It was the critical turnovers by Williams, which gave the Irish prime scoring opportunities they couldn’t mess up. Still, the Trojan defense is a concern, and with the remaining schedule that includes Utah, Washington, Oregon, and UCLA, they could easily finish the regular season with 4 or 5 losses. That would suggest that Lincoln Riley is in for a much bigger rebuilding project than we all thought. By the way, that victory has to be bitter sweet for the Irish. They beat USC, barely lost to Ohio State who is #3, or they would be in much better contention for the playoffs.

Then there’s UCLA, who got beat by Oregon State. The Bruins defense is still tough, but Dante Moore showed that he’s still going to go through growing pains in some big games this season. There was some thought going into the game that some of the Pac-12 teams would beat up on each other and UCLA might be able to sneak into the Conference Title game, but that seems unlikely after what we just witnessed. There’s going to be some game-to-game volatility with this kid. They might still be good for another big win or two against Top 25 teams, but they aren’t quite ready for prime time. That’s ok though. That doesn’t mean things aren’t looking up with more development from Moore.

In the NFL, I have no idea why Sean McVay abandons the run like he does from time-to-time. When he did yesterday, the Rams couldn’t score against the lowly Arizona Cardinals. However, once he decided to let his offensive line bully the Cardinals and open some holes for Kyren Williams, the game was effectively over. The Rams improved to 3-3, and this is truly the stretch of games they need to win since their schedule got lighter. Cooper Kupp looks like himself again, Williams looks solid, and Matt Stafford is being protected well and producing as a result. With the Steelers, Cowboys, and Packers looming, I expect at least 2 out of 3 wins before the bye week, which is a decent place to be for this team.

The Lakers are nearing the end of the preseason. There’s a few things to feel really good about as we near the start of the season. First of all D’Angelo Russell looks amazing. Not only is he shooting the ball very well, but he’s actually making a focused effort to improve his defense . Anthony Davis looked sharp last night too, so has Rui Hachimura, and Taurean Prince looks like he could be a 3-D wing the Lakers have been needing for quite some time. He might even start, but in any case, the Lake Show has plenty of versatility in their front court to be excited about, and a lot of ways they can round out their starting lineup around D-Lo, LBJ, AD, and Austin.

I know we are only two games into the NHL season, but the LA Kings are already off to a disastrous start. In two games, we’ve already confirmed that the defense and goaltending are hot garbage. To make matters worse, Rob Blake has managed the salary cap like Enron managed their balance sheet. The Kings barely have enough cap room to have a full NHL roster, and certainly not enough to fix their crummy goaltending and defense. Also, how long do we have to wait for Brandt Clark to be called up? Dude will instantly be a top 3 defenseman on the team once he’s in the lineup, and he’s rotting in the minors. Feels like 80 more games of aggravation coming.

Monday Morning Coffee

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, center, removes Clayton Kershaw from the game against the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.

October 9, , 2023

I’m sorry but there is absolutely nothing positive to come away with from Saturday’s Dodger game. This feels like the 10th installment of a bad horror movie. I feel terrible for Clayton Kershaw, but he has absolutely dominated the D’Backs consistently, while Merrill Kelly has been obliterated by the Dodgers consistently. Yet inexplicably, none of that mattered on Saturday night. There’s simply no excuses for Kershaw, not that he’s making any. Imagine if you went to that game. By the time you got to your seat it was 9-0! Now you expect me to feel good about the Dodgers taking 3 of the next 4 with Zac Gallen on the hill for Arizona tonight? There’s really nothing to say about the Dodgers here. It’s just another unexplainable playoff disaster, that feels like it’s going to end badly by the time I’m writing the next edition of MMC.

In the NFL, the Rams put up a good fight once again, but they were no match for the Eagles yesterday at SOFI. The team is only 2-3 with losses against teams you would expect to be Super Bowl contenders. However, you can’t help but think they’ve had enough opportunities to win one or two of these games, and that could be the difference between them making or missing the postseason. The good news was that Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp renewed their connection, racking up 118 yards. The Kupp-Puka Nakua- Tutu Atwell trio has a chance to turn into the Kupp-Robert Woods-Brandon Cooks trio of a few years ago. However, they simply aren’t making enough big plays in the big moments to take control of these games. That doesn’t mean that can’t change before the season is over. However, the Rams need to take care of business in the next couple of weeks with their schedule getting softer.

Cooper Kupp is tackled by Philadelphia cornerback Darius Slay in the first half.

Elsewhere around the NFL in week 5, Cowboys fans are about to enter the transfer portal after last nights beating they took from the 49ers. Belichick is about to break out the spy cameras after the Patriots started 1-4. The NFL probably forced Travis Kelce to come back and play injured yesterday so they can keep the Taylor Swift money train going. Meanwhile, Sean Payton talked all that smack about Nathaniel Hackett just to lose to him and his backup QB.

In the College ranks, USC may be undefeated after getting by Arizona, but all is not well. Any Trojan fan has to admit to themselves that their defense couldn’t stop a parked car, and that they are easily the one of the weakest undefeated teams remaining. At best, they are the 3rd best team in the PAC-12, behind Oregon and Washington, but still vulnerable against others. It also doesn’t help the Trojans that Notre Dame got bombed by Louisville over the weekend. Caleb Williams is phenomenal and still in Hesiman contention, but the Trojans have 5 really tough games out of a remaining 6, and already appear to have reached their ceiling.

As for the Bruins, they came up with a big win against #13 Washington State on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. I’m impressed that Dante Moore was tough enough to overcome some critical mistakes and made big plays, and also impressed that the entire stadium didn’t melt in the heat. UCLA is now up to #18 in the rankings after a 4-1 start. They still have Oregon State and USC on their schedule too, so there’s an opportunity to contend for the conference title if things go really well. Otherwise, there’s a lot to feel good about with Moore’s future.

The NBA preseason got underway on Saturday night for the Lakers as they took on the Warriors. I don’t like to make a big deal out of preseason sports, although I’m sure the Warriors fans will, exacting revenge on last years playoff exit by playing their starters big minutes against the Laker reserves. However, the Lakers should take away the fact that Max Christie looks like a really good rotation player that’s going to make an impact this year. His teammates are noticing it too, and giving him lots of love.

Finally, as I said previously, I don’t like to draw conclusions from preseason sports. However, in the NHL, the Kings played their regulars against the regulars of the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday. They lost 7-4, after taking a 4-2 lead. It was a game that was a complete re-incarnation of last years team. They can score, but they can’t play defense. I have no idea how Rob Blake looked at this team and said “we just need more goal scoring, and who cares about the defense and goaltending”. To make matters worse, Blake has created such an imbalance in the roster and slowed down players development so much, that many are now subject to waives when they are called up. Things are not promising to start for the Kings.

Monday Morning Coffee

October 2, 2023

The Rams had some trouble, but they took care of business yesterday against the Colts. Once the Rams add Cooper Kupp into the offense alongside Kyren Williams, Puka Nacua, Higbee, and Stafford. They might be a problem. Suddenly, choosing Williams over Cam Akers seems like a brilliant move as well. After last week, I was beginning to wonder if Sean McVay was capable of committing to a run game, and having a balanced attack, but yesterday he did for a bit, then abandoned it. I hope he sticks with it because the Rams have an advantage when they do, and he reduces the injury risk to an older Matt Stafford. That was a huge reason why the Colts got back in the game. Hopefully a lesson learned for McVay.

As for the Chargers, it took playing the Raiders, but they find the win column. Not even Brandon Staley could screw this one up. Well sort of. The Bolts didn’t score in the 3rd and 4th quarters against a team with a mediocre defense and a rookie quarterback. Of course the game also included Staley making weird decisions like going for it on 4th down again and calling a QB sneak, resulting in no gain at their own 34 yard line. I still think many of you though are underestimating just how much the Spanos’ love Staley, and how much they hate the idea of firing him and paying another coach. It’s hard to have any confidence this team is going anywhere this season, and they could easily be 0-4.

Elsewhere around week 4 of the NFL, if we played a drinking game where every time Taylor Swift was mentioned on Sunday Night Football and you had to take a shot, you would definitely be dead at the end of the 1st quarter. The Chiefs hung on to beat the Jets. I guess the Miami Dolphins can’t score 70 points when they play real competition, as they got dismantled by the Bills. The Jaguars dominated the Falcons in London, and England has informed the US that the next time they sent the Falcons to play in London it will be considered an act of terror and they will declare war on the United States. The Broncos rallied to beat the Bears in a game that featured two teams that were so bad, it should have been aired on Comedy Central.

To College Football, where the Trojans may be undefeated, but they aren’t nearly as good as we all thought. They took care of Colorado, but their defense is absolutely atrocious. Poor tackling, poor scheming, bad play calling, and just downright poor defensive coaching. This team is completely dependent on Caleb Williams having some ridiculous video game stats in a game, and putting up 50 points in a game. At this point, that makes them no better than the 3rd best team in the PAC-12 right now behind Oregon and Washington. Caleb Williams is making a strong case to be a repeat Heisman Trophy winner, which is one thing Trojan fans can feel good about. However, every game from here on out, everyone is going to be asking Lincoln Riley if he is going to be “tarmac-ing” his defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch.

Elsewhere around College Football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame had a very gutty win against surprising Duke. I think most Notre Dame fans thought their team was dead in the final minute, before Sam Hartman scrambled for his life for that 1st down. Ole Miss took down LSU and their fans rushed the field. Even Abercrombie & Fitch thinks that’s way too many khaki shorts and polos in one place. Georgia woke up from a nap late in the game to survive their game against Auburn. Florida will also get bounced from the Top 25 after losing to Kentucky, and especially after not being able to stop this play with 13 men on the field.

To baseball, where the Dodgers wrapped up the regular season yesterday against the Giants, and are ready for the NLDS. Look, I don’t like the Dodgers chances in this years playoffs. I simply don’t believe in their pitching. Clayton Kershaw looked great Saturday, but he’s a vulnerable health risk at this stage, and everyone else behind him has no playoff experience. With that being said, the best thing the Boys in Blue have going for them is that Miami, Philadelphia, and the Braves are on the other side of the playoff bracket for them. If you had to choose, Milwaukee or Arizona are far more appealing opponents in a short series. Of course, it would be the most baseball thing ever if this was the year the Dodgers actually won the World Series in a year in which we thought they had no chance.

As for the Angels, their season ended and possibly the Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani era. Sure enough, the Athletic did another piece on how the Halos haven’t had a winning season for the six years they’ve had arguably the two best players in baseball. It was very predictable though, reiterating everything we’ve known. Arte Moreno does not spend money on player development and scouting, among many other non-payroll areas, which is killing his franchise. Also, just to remind you how soft people are these days, a kid came to the game over the weekend with a sign that said “sell the team”. Security asked him to take down the sign. I did not realize that going to Angels games was basically the equivalent of entering a communist regime.

We’re just a few days away from NBA training camps opening up. Perhaps the dumbest “I have no idea what I’m talking about” rumor that was out there was that the Lakers were considering trading for Dame Lillard. This was stupid, because the Lakers do not have anybody under contract they can trade until December 15th, other than Lebron, who we know would not be in that trade. I’m actually astonished at the 3-team deal between the Suns, Bucks, and Blazers, which ultimately sent Dame to Milwaukee. It’s possible that all 3 teams are worse than before the trade. The Suns got a bunch of guys that are unplayable for their starting center. The Bucks were already contenders without Dame and are worse defensively, and the Blazers aren’t good enough to make the playoffs or bad enough to tank now. If you’re a Laker fan, no need to be terribly concerned.

Then there’s the Clippers. I can’t believe they arrested the guy who murdered Tupac before they won an NBA Championship. The Clips also have to be a little bummed that they were unable to get in on the Jrue Holiday sweepstakes, in all the Dame madness. Holiday is an all-star, and an excellent two-way player. He actually even shot better than Dame from 3 last season. He’s the type of playmaking point guard that the Clippers need, but they didn’t have the assets to get him, as Holiday ended up with the Celtics. It’s also interesting they added Josh Primo, who is super talented, but has had issues with women, and in this era, that can be a problem. Something tells me if this weren’t the Clippers, more people would be talking about it. It’s disappointing but nevertheless, the Clippers fate will always be dependent on the availability of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.