Monthly Archives: November 2022

Monday Morning Coffee

November 28, 2022

As a Notre Dame alum, I had both the pleasure and misfortune of attending the USC-Notre Dame game at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. It was a pleasure because it’s always a pleasure to see these storied programs go at it. However, the misfortune for me since the Trojans came away with the victory. Caleb Williams went from maybe not even being invited to the Heisman Trophy, to suddenly looking like he’s going to win it, in a matter of just two weeks. He was a magician out there, creating play after play with the pocket breaking down. It’s remarkable how great your team can be if you can have elite quarterback. That quarterback came from the arrival of an elite coach in Lincoln Riley. Which begs the question: why the hell did USC allow Clay Helton to coach them for seven years? I’m still of the opinion that if USC beats Utah and gets to the playoff, they will probably take a street beating from Georgia or Michigan. The Trojan defense is not stopping elite offenses, and their offensive line looks questionable. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to admit that USC being good again is great for College Football.

As for UCLA, they narrowly avoided what could have been a big let down against Cal, by defeating the Golden Bears in the Bay. You could tell from what DTR said before the game that the Bruins were practically uninterested in playing football after losing to USC, and knowing they’ll have to settle for something less than the Rose Bowl. Had they just beaten Arizona though, they might have had a decent shot at the game, assuming USC goes to the CFP. It’s pretty hard to get excited about the Sun Bowl or Las Vegas Bowl for the Bruins, especially after we were talking about a potential CFP appearance just three weeks ago.

As we expected, the Rams got dismantled by the Chiefs yesterday in Kansas City. There were just too many injuries for this team to stay competitive, let alone against an elite team like Kansas City. Things are so bad, Sean McVay may have even suffered a concussion in yesterday’s game. Starting Bryce Perkins at Quarterback in a game against Patrick Mahomes, is like going into a gun fight with a water pistol. Apparently Allen Robinson is now out for the season with a foot injury. I thought dude was basically out for the season with the way he was playing anyway. In case there was any doubt, this team is toast in 2022. Here is the Rams season summarized in one moment.

Meanwhile, the Chargers played most of yesterday like they slammed too much Turkey over Thanksgiving. They were down 24-17 in the 4th quarter, before Justin Herbert delivered a late game miracle for the victory. How is a defensive coach like Brandon Staley, able to consistently deliver terrible results on the defensive side of the ball, while also making idiotic in-game decisions? Had the two-point conversion failed at the end of the game, we would be roasting the man even more than we already do. Sean Payton would probably love to coach Herbert, but that would require the Spanos family paying big money for Payton, giving him team control, and the Spanos family eating some of the Staley contract. If you’re a Charger fan you probably have a better chance of getting $1 million from Santa this year.

To the NBA, where I’m still not going to get too excited about what I’ve seen from the Lakers yet. After a rough start, the Lakers are now 7-6 in their last 13 games, and in the West, that doesn’t put them far from being back in the playoff mix. Unfortunately, the Lakers can’t play the Spurs every game, even if they probably would like to ask the league if that’s possible. It’s true that Anthony Davis is playing elite basketball, but his availability is always in question, and the same can be said about Lebron James, who is still great, but misses games. Given how bad this team is, they can’t afford to have them miss games. It’s also completely unfair to ask them to play at a ridiculous level every night just to drag them into the playoffs. That’s a Rob Pelinka problem that he needs to address, but I’m not so confident that’s ever going to happen.

As for the Clippers, they took down the Pacers yesterday afternoon, but now the injuries are piling up again. Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are out with injuries, along with Luke Kennard. The Clips have been so cautious with Kawhi, next time he gets a paper cut they will hold him out of the lineup, and Ty Lue will say there is no timetable for his return. This is bar far the softest era of NBA basketball, in terms of holding players out of the lineup with the most minor of injuries. Kawhi is clearly the face of that approach. The good news for the Clips and a lot of Western Conference teams: nobody is running away with things in the standings.

In baseball, for a team that is up for sale, you can’t help but be impressed by the resourcefulness of the Angels so far this offseason. They’ve actually added about $33 million to their 2023 payroll by adding Tyler Anderson, Gido Urshela, and Hunter Renfroe. The difference from most other off-seasons though is that the Angels are adding depth, and they had very little in the past few years. When the pitching has been bad, the offense has been bad and vice versa. Not sure if that will change this season, but you have to at least respect Perry Minasian trying something different.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 21, 2022

What a spectacular game USC and UCLA played at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night. Caleb Williams definitely showed he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and probably earned himself a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy Ceremony at minimum. Dorian Thompson Robinson also made some spectacular plays, and deserves credit for playing with a bad hand and most likely a concussion. Unfortunately, the difference in the game were his turnovers. Even James Harden thinks both of these teams played lazy defense. I have no idea how DTR was allowed to keep playing when it looked like he was concussed. UCLA must be employing that Miami Dolphins team doctor on on their staff now. I’m also not sure why Chip Kelly didn’t lean on the run more, which was far more effective and less risky than watching DTR air it out. This feels like more missed opportunities than anything for the Bruins in the last two games. As for the Trojans, if they win their next two games, I think they will end up getting in to the College Football Playoff. However, with defense like this, they will likely get smashed by the likes of Georgia, Michigan, or Ohio State.

To the NFL, where the Rams lost their fourth straight game of the season yesterday, this time to the Saints. The Rams are on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention, and are suddenly looking a lot like the team that was coached by Jeff Fisher a few years ago. The defense is nice, but the offense looks totally inept, and the offensive line is a train wreck. To make matters worse, Matt Stafford had another concussion. I’m not sure how Sean McVay can keep this team engaged for the next 7 weeks, without them thinking about their January vacations to Cancun. With Cooper Kupp out for the season too, there’s virtually no hope.

Then there’s the Chargers, who were devastated in by Patrick Mahomes in the final seconds of yesterday’s game. Real coaches find a way to take away an opponents best player, or at least minimize the damage from him. The Chiefs didn’t even have most of their receiving core yesterday, yet Travis Kelce kept giving them the business. Then again, we’re talking about Brandon Staley here, so expecting him to do something like that might be ridiculous when he can’t even make sound in-game decisions period. This is still likely a playoff team, but they sure don’t play like one, despite all their talent. That is classic Charger football.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Cowboys murdered the Vikings 40-3, and Kirk Cousins doesn’t like that. The Falcons got by the Bears, but the entire NFC South should be demoted to the PAC-12. The Broncos lost to the Raiders and Nathaniel Hackett might need to post his resume on LinkedIn this morning given how the season is going for Denver. The Jets lost to the Patriots, and Zach Wilson should go back to getting with people’s mom’s instead of playing football, because his teammates hate him right now. Joe Burrow piled up throwing yards like the Steelers are piling up losses this season, in the Bengals win over Pittsburgh.

Sometimes it’s important to remember that things aren’t usually as bad as they are when things are looking really bad. But things also are never as good as they seem when things are looking really good. That’s how you should look at the Lakers right now. They have been finding the win column, but their three game win streak is a product of playing crummy teams. I can give them credit for a few things though. Their three-point shooting may not be elite, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was in the first 10 games. Anthony Davis is also reminding us that he’s one of the best players in basketball when he’s healthy. I don’t see anybody saying they want to trade him now. Then there’s those of you who seem to be convinced that the Lakers must be better without Lebron, just because they are 0-10 with him this season. Hopefully you’ve all been watching basketball long enough to realize that any team that has Lebron James on their team is better. If anything, this stretch should just remind Lebron that when he comes back, they need to continue to play through Anthony Davis, like they did a few years ago.

As for the Clippers, they got Kawhi back and picked up a couple of wins over the Pistons and Spurs. Kawhi definitely looks rusty. The real question is if he can actually practice and get himself back into shape, and ultimately build chemistry. It’s felt like the guy is a part-time worker in the NBA, and a Part-Time worker at an Amazon warehouse.

To baseball, where the Dodgers non-tendered Cody Bellinger over the weekend. This was definitely the right move. Bellinger made $18 million last year, and hit .210. Everybody keeps talking about all his talent, but he’s been terrible for three season. He’s the bitcoin of baseball, peaked in 2017, and downhill every since. If he wants to come back on a cheap deal fine, but the Dodgers have good young players in their system that are more than capable replacements. There is no amount of defense that is good enough to justify his ineptitude at the plate. Hopefully the Dodgers can find themselves some reliable contact hitting bats though, but finding one better than Bellinger shouldn’t be difficult.

This was a rough weekend for UCLA sports. The Bruin Basketball team was upset on Friday by Illinois, and then they lost a tight one to #5 Baylor yesterday. The loss to Illinois was just annoying, because the Bruins just didn’t bring it. However, if there’s one take away from the loss against Baylor, it’s that this team just doesn’t execute late in games against elite teams. We saw some of that last year in the tournament too. They have an immense amount of talent, but their freshman are extremely raw, and need time to develop. There’s a long way to go, but this team has work to do for sure, and you can be sure Mick Cronin is going to give his team crap all week long.

Finally, for a decade, I’ve covered The Walking Dead on Jock Talk LA, and the series came to an end last night. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it and plan on watching it later, so read no further if you plan on doing that. I thought the ending was fine considering what they did to the show over the past few years. They took down the latest villain, of course someone good had to die in the process in Rosita, and they’ll all try to continue to move forward and rebuild civilization again. If you knew anything about the comic, you knew she was probably going to die at some point, but that happened much earlier in that storyline. I’m not really surprised they showed Rick and Michonne at the end and still alive, but those two really didn’t wanna just come back to their children and raise them? Imagine knowing that Eugene, Gabriel, and Jerry were the ones that survived after all this. They all seemed like the biggest cowards ever when we first met them. Maggie thanking Negan for saving her son, yet never forgiving him for murdering Glen is about as much as you can ask for of her. The bottom line is that at one point, this show was great, but it went downhill once they had characters leaving the show, and they veered away from the comic storyline. Heck, any show that veers away from a previously written story tends to struggle. Game of Thrones is a perfect example. I do also wish they developed a storyline about solving the disease itself that made people zombies. We never got close to that. I can appreciate it for what it was. I’m not sure I can take the spin-offs though. They probably won’t get us any closer to that.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 14, 2022

Time of Death of the Rams season: 4:08 pm yesterday. There is no fixing this team in this season. The offense has way too many problems, most notably on the offensive line. It’s like a ship that’s dealing with leaks from everywhere, and you just can’t find a way to plug holes without another leak springing. They are now in last place in the NFC West, and to make matters worse, they might as well have been eliminated form the OBJ Sweepstakes. No way he signs with a team that isn’t a contender. Unless someone tricks him into thinking the calendar says 2021, that won’t happen. Now Cooper Kupp is down with what appears to be a significant ankle injury that could knock him out for a few weeks. That makes me think they won’t be able to score if you locked them in SOFI Stadium for an entire day. It was a nice run, but it’s over for now Ramily.

As for the Chargers, they really “Charger’d” that game against the 49ers last night. There could not be a worse head coach to manage a 10-point lead than Brandon Staley. It’s like this dude is almost betting on his opponents to cover the spread with some of the idiotic decisions he’s making. It also doesn’t help that the Chargers have been ravaged by injuries, but it’s the NFL, so who isn’t? At least Justin Herbert escaped major injury last night.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Raiders should just bring in a new coach every week from their fan base and see if he can any better than Josh McDaniel. Tom Brady apparently is only good now when he doesn’t play on American soil, as the Bucs took down Seattle. The Lion beat the Bears, but I don’t know if anybody noticed that Justin Fields is actually a really good quarterback now. Aaron Rodgers still owns the Cowboys, which Stephen A Smith is going to remind them of endlessly this morning. The Bills and the Vikings played a hell of a game, but apparently Josh Allen can’t be Superman all the time.

To the NBA, where the Lakers finally found a team that is assembled even worse than they are: The Nets. They managed to beat them last night without Lebron James. Anthony Davis went off, and I can’t help but wish he would get that many shots on a nightly basis, and in the 4th quarter in particular. Who are we kidding though? This team stinks. They better win at least 4 of the next 5 games against crummy opponents, especially after having the next four days off. Kevin Durant is now the same as Lebron James at this stage of his career: a very productive NBA player, but not impactful enough to overcome a roster full of bums.

To College Football where UCLA did the most on-brand thing ever, losing to Arizona on Saturday night. This really puts a damper on the the USC game next week, which could have had some really high stakes. On the bright side, the Bruins still have a chance to be in the PAC-12 Championship game, and win the conference, although their College Football Playoff Chances have disappeared like the Republicans on election day. All of a sudden everyone is now back to the “fire Chip Kelly” demands, since he couldn’t come through when it mattered. I don’t think at this point you can do that, given that he’s still putting together a pretty damn good season. As great as Dorian Thompson Robinson has been, I sure wish he had set his feet on that last throw, which would have won the game. Nevertheless, the game should have never come down to that one play, as the Bruins couldn’t contain the Arizona’s quarterback. If they can’t contain him, what chance do they have next week against Caleb Williams?

Meanwhile, the Trojans beat up on Colorado, but they have to be a little disappointed UCLA lost, given that the stakes aren’t quite as high this week. Nevertheless, they still have an outside shot at the College Football Playoff. However, if Trojan fans are true to their word, they will still tell you that they would rather win the conference and the Rose Bowl, then be in some fake playoff with a fake champion. I haven’t heard this declaration in a while, and that’s probably because USC still has a chance to be in that “fake tournament”. Also, prayers up for Travis Dye, who USC lost for the season with a knee injury. Hopefully he bounces back.

Finally, it’s great to see the Dodgers bringing back Clayton Kershaw for another year. Kershaw has earned every right to be a Dodger for as long as he wants. I know some of you want to hate on his playoff resume, but I can name plenty of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers that have not been good in the playoffs: Barry Bonds and Justin Verlander just to name a few. However, Kershaw doesn’t get enough credit for still being one of the best pitchers in the National League. He doesn’t need to be the ace of the staff anymore, but he’s still a front of the rotation starter that can be impactful on a World Series Championship team. If this is in fact Kershaw’s last season, I’m glad that he will remain a Dodgers, because it would have been weird otherwise.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 7, 2022

There’s so much disappointment in this edition of Monday Morning Coffee, so I guess let’s get to it. We’ve gotta start with the Rams, whose offense suddenly looks like it’s coached by Jeff Fisher. If it’s not Cooper Kupp finding a way to get open, they have absolutely no chance of getting the ball down the field. You can only give Tom Brady so many chances to beat you at the end of the game, and even this depressed version of Tom Brady will dismantle you if you give him the chance. I don’t necessarily think at 3-5 their season is over given that the NFC is softer than Charmin, but I don’t see any solutions in sight to turn this thing around. The offensive line is dreadful, there is no running game, and no other vertical passing threat. I’m not even sure OBJ is interested in this group anymore, knowing how much they are struggling.

The Chargers managed to pull out a win yesterday against the Falcons. As usual, it was a complete sea of crazy at the end of a Charger game. Austin Ekeler nearly fumbled the game away, but the Bolts recovered a Falcons fumble on the same play. As insane as it is to trust the Chargers, they are just a game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West, which is somewhat miraculous given that they have been ravaged by injuries. They’ve also been ravaged by bad kickers over the years, but not yesterday. Of course it took a kicker named “Dicker” for them to actually overcome their kicker curse.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Eagles had another game that was a cake walk, this time against the Texans. The NFL has basically granted them bye weeks until the Super Bowl. Tua led the Dolphins to another win, and he’s been amazing in every game that he hasn’t died in this year. The Bengals destroyed the Panthers and Joe Mixon destroyed you in fantasy if you had to play against him. Aaron Rodgers is probably ready for that Jeopardy gig as the Lions handed the Packers another loss. Kirk Cousins beat his former team, well sort of since they have a different name now. The Raiders lost to the Jags, and the silver and black are more like the black and blue this season. The Seahawks wrecked the Cardinals, and now we all have to take Seattle for real again. The Chiefs outlasted the Titans, and at this point, I’m convinced Patrick Mahomes could throw to you and I as his receivers and still win football games.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are sinking like the Titanic and we’re only 9 games into the season. They are 2-7 after yesterday’s loss to the Cavs. This time you can’t really blame Lebron, AD, or Westbrook, because they all put up numbers. The rest of the team should probably be playing in the Chinese Basketball Association. Rob Pelinka should be embarrassed by the lack of shooting he has assembled around this squad. Darvin Ham is calling out his role players to contribute more, but they probably don’t even belong in the association at this point. Kendrick Nunn, Pat Bev, and Damian Jones are basically unplayable at this point. Their defense has to be absolutely perfect to overcome this offensive ineptitude. However, the cold hard truth is that if Lebron, Russ, and AD are no longer good enough to overcome these roster flaws as they were years ago, then is it really worth it to double down on this group and try to make a trade to help them? The answer is probably no, but I’m not so sure Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss feel that way.

Meanwhile, the Clippers fell to 5-5 yesterday after losing to the Jazz. The Bigger concern for the Clips though is that Kawhi Leonard is basically a 1099 employee at this point, and barely even a part-time player if we’re being honest. What turned into a couple of days of load management for his knee has now turned into no timetable for his return according to Tyronn Lue. There’s clearly a lot more going on with his knee than the Clippers are letting on, but that’s also because they are the Clippers and people just don’t care about them the way they care about the Lakers and Lebron James. Still, with all the depth that the Clippers have, I expected better than 5-5.

To baseball where we shouldn’t be petty about it. Congratulations to the Astros for winning their FIRST EVER World Series Championship. The 2017 Astros are cheaters, but they have nothing to do with the 2022 Astros, who didn’t cheat, as far as we know yet. It is going to be extra suspicious though when the Dodgers have to sign Carlos Correa and he goes 0-20 in the postseason. Speaking of the Dodgers, free agency gets underway on Thursday, and they will have some decisions to make. My expectation is that Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson, and Tommy Kahnle will be re-signed. After that all bets are off.

In College Football, USC survived their showdown against Cal on Saturday night. If there’s one thing the Trojans need to be concerned about it’s their defense. They were able to stop the run, but the Golden Bears shredded the Trojans secondary, giving up over 400 yards through the air. That could be trouble if USC has any hope of leap frogging a couple of teams and getting to the CFP. In fact, they should probably be nervous about their games against the Bruins and Fighting Irish, since both are physical football teams that have been pushing offensive lines around. It’s basically all on Caleb Williams to provide the fire power every game, or else this teams hopes are sunk. Nevertheless, USC fans can’t complain from where they were a year ago.

As for the Bruins, they are nipping at the Trojans heels in the AP Poll, moving up to #9. They had some problems of their own against Arizona State, but Dorian Thompson Robinson looked like he was ready for the Olympic hurdle event the way he was leaping over defenders. The Bruins will have to survive one more trap game, this time against Arizona next weekend at the Rose Bowl. They will also have to get some help from their Pac-12 friends like Washington, Utah, and Oregon State in handing Oregon a loss or two in the next few weeks. “Friends” is probably too strong of a word though after UCLA and USC are electing to leave the conference in a couple of years.