Chip’s Revenge

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 2.9.2017

Arguably the best coach in NFL history, Bill Belichick, may have inadvertently pulled a page out of his friend Chip Kelly’s book to win Super Bowl 51. Belichick’s team didn’t run a no-huddle, up tempo style however the amount of plays they ran and dominate time of possession had to of put a smile on Kelly’s face as the New England Patriots went on to win their fifth NFL title.

 

KELLYKelly may have been fired from two NFL head coaching jobs in under a year but some of his philosophies are grounded in truth. If your team has the ball then the other teams offensive isn’t on the field. If you run more plays than your opponent then odds are that in the 4th quarter that defense will be tired. Both proved true during the Patriots win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots ran 93 offensive plays to the high powered Falcons 42 and dominated the time of possession. They had the football for over 40 minutes while the Falcons had it for just a little over 23. While Kelly’s teams would normally reflect the the Falcons time of possession, the Patriots were able to adapt Kelly’s philosophy on their way to victory.

Super Bowl 51 TOPAt one point Fox play-by-play announcer Joe Buck pointed out that the Falcons offense had not been on the field in over an hour (that included the extended halftime). You add that up and it’s no wonder the Falcons defense seemed powerless to stop the Patriots offense in the last quarter plus of the game.

While you can point to several factors as to why the Patriots defeated the Falcons for their fifth title, you cannot deny that time of possession and the amount of offensive plays that the Patriots ran was a major factor in the outcome. It’s one that Kelly would be right to be proud of.

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More Mouse Davis Than Bill Walsh

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 1.10.2017

Over the years we’ve written quite a bit about Chip Kelly. We’ve written how he wasn’t right for the NFL and we’ve written that he could be the next Bill Walsh. With many things, the truth falls somewhere in between.

Chip Kelly 49ersChip Kelly was fired from two NFL jobs in little over a year. The second wasn’t his fault as he was dealt an absolute oil spill but the first was his fault. More importantly there has been some talk out there that Kelly wasn’t able to adjust to the NFL. He didn’t disguise his looks and become, in a word, predictable.

NFL defenses may have figured out a way to stop Kelly’s ‘blur’ offense but the NFL also adopted some of his ideas and methods.

While at Oregon, Kelly made trips to New England to talk about the hurry-up offense with Bill Belichick and his staff. Belichick and Kelly have become good friends and there is a possibility, however remote, that Kelly could slide into the OC spot if current Patriots OC Josh McDaniels gets another head coaching gig with, ironically enough, the San Francisco 49ers.

The fact is that a lot of teams, college and pro, use some of Kelly’s principals in their offenses. It’s a lot like how every one criticized Mouse Davis’s Run’N’Shoot offense when it debuted in the NFL way back in 1989.

Many criticized the offense and in it’s purest form wasn’t very successful at the NFL level. However aspects of the offense have made it into just about every current NFL offense. Using the pass to set up the run, single back sets and having wide receivers read the coverage along with the quarterback.

Kelly’s offense and training methods are seeing a similar bubbling up across the league. Kelly embraced sports science and employed a ‘sport science coordinator’ while with the Eagles. Other NFL teams have begun to embrace the idea of maximizing athletes performance after Kelly blazed the way.

Teams have also incorporated some zone read plays, allowed their quarterback to run more often, and of course using the hurry-up or no huddle offense throughout the game instead of just at end of a half.

While Kelly may not have revolutionized the game like the late Bill Walsh did so many years ago, he did influence it significantly like Mouse Davis did back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Kelly’s NFL career will be judged by wins and losses but he has contributed much more than that.

 

Like Family

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


‘Like family’ is a phrase you hear thrown around a lot in life, sports and business. While we await Super Bowl 50 at the home of the five team Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers, it’s only appropriate to look back at the owner during that time, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Aka, Eddie D.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News wrote arguably the best article on Eddie D that has ever been written. While not a saint, Eddie D is the closet thing to one. He is there for his players and his players families now and for as long as he will be on this Earth.

Montana and Eddie DWhile Eddie D is no longer the owner of the 49ers (his nephew Jed York runs it now) he is still widely respected in NFL circles. The way he ran the team during his 23 years at the helm were impressive. From players getting their own room on the road to players wives being sent flowers when their husbands signed as a free agent. Eddie D changed the way NFL owners run a franchise.

Eddie DeBartolo, A Football Life

Bob KraftThe closest thing we have today to an Eddie D is the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He treats players like Eddie D did, like family. That’s sayin something in this modern era of football where players rarely play their entire career with one team.

 

Like Eddie D, Kraft has hard some issues on and off the field but through it all both men are widely respected and are two owners that players want to win for. Owners who don’t see their organization as a company but as one big family.

Surface Fail ?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Super Bowl 50 may be set but one of the more interesting storylines to come out of Sunday’s conference championship games was the failure of the Windows tablet on the New England Patriots sideline in their game against the Denver Broncos. Turns out, the Microsoft Surface tablets failing is a pretty common thing.

The NFL released a statement on the issue on Monday evening specifically saying that the Surfaces didn’t fail.

BelichickEarlier in the day Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said that the tablets failing, ‘it’s a fairly common problem’ (skip to the 5:45 mark) which is surprising but at the same time not surprising at all. They are Windows based products after all.

Microsoft’s contract with the NFL is some $400 million over five years. If four time Super Bowl winning head coach Belichick is claiming that the tablets failing is a “fairly common problem”, it makes you wonder about the frequency and if the problems were all network issues like the NFL claims.

Either way it’s certain that the technology and it’s connectivity have a ways to go. Their unreliability is probably why the NFL does not force the opposing team to stop using their tablets if one teams tablets stop working, unlike the headsets. And for you conspiracy theorists out there, according to the NFL, neither team has access to the devices until the game. 

Needless to say, it may just be a case of network connectivity….or they didn’t have the right drivers installed.

What To Watch Thurs. 11/26 – Sun. 11/29

All times are Pacific.


Thursday November 26th

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – 9:30am FOX: Well, we’d like a better matchup but hey, it’s what we got.

Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:30pm CBS: The Cowboys have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back so this could actually be a good game.

Texas Tech at Texas – 4:30pm FS1: Texas has to win out to be bowl eligible and that’s a big deal for a young team. Texas Tech is good but beatable.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 5:30pm NBC: Awaken from the food coma in time to see if they Packers can win back-to-back games or if the Bears will finally put it together.

 

Friday November 27th

NY Rangers at Boston Bruins – 10am NBC: Ice, skates, rivals. Not a bad way to start Black Friday.

Keenan ReynoldsNavy at Houston – 9am ABC: Winner gets to represent the West in the American Atheletic Conference championship. Also get a chance to see the NCAA all time leader in touchdowns in Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.

Marshall at Western Kentucky – 9am FS1: Last year the final score was 67-66. Just sayin.

Washington State at Washington -12:30pm FOX: The Apple Cup is the most underrated rivalry in college football. Always a solid game.

Armstrong JRIowa at Nebraska – 12:30pm ABC: Nebraska is a lot better than there 5-6 record indicates. Iowa is undefeated and looking for a spot in the College Football Playoff. This rivalry will get a lot more heated after this game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 2pm NBCSN: Both teams are better than their record indicates and still a whole bunch of talent on the ice.

Baylor at TCU – 4:30pm ESPN: It doesn’t really matter what quarterback plays for Baylor but it does for TCU. Points a plenty in this one.

Miami Heat at NY Knicks – 4:30pm NBA.TV: The Kicks aren’t bad this season but the Heat may be a little bit better.

 

Saturday November 28th

Ohio State at Michigan – 9am ABC: Our first taste of Meyer vs Harbaugh. Add in Ohio State having to put a tough loss behind them and this should be one heck of a ball game.

Louisville at Kentucky – 9am SECN: Kentucky is one win away from bowl eligibility and their cross state rivals would love nothing more than to keep that from happening.

UCLA at USC – 12:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Battle of LA and for the Pac-12 South.

Penn State at Michigan State -12:30pm ESPN: Michigan State controls it’s own destiny when it comes to winning the Big 10 Eastern division.

Wisconsin at Minnesota – 12:30pm BTN: Dude, it’s the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe! It also gives us a chance to show this video from 2003.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State – 4:15pm ESPN2: The Egg Bowl and if Alabama loses, a chance for Ole Miss to grab the SEC West crown.

Notre Dame at Stanford -4:30pm FOX: Huge game for the Irish against a very, very good Stanford team.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State – 5pm ABC: Bedlam is here. Winner probably has a legit shot at the College Football Playoff.

 

Sunday November 29th

NY Giants at Washington Redskins – 10am FOX: The winner controls first place in the NFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – 1:25pm CBS: Steelers have been able to keep it together and succeed despite a rash of injuries. The Seahawks looked like the Seahawks for once this season last week. Good luck hearing the play call Pittsburgh.

FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – 2pm ESPN: 2nd leg and Dallas got an all important road goal in leg one. They did lose 3-1 however which should put the Timbers in the drivers seat.

103rd Grey Cup – 3pm ESPN2: Live from Winnipeg with Fall Out Boy as the halftime entertainment. Oh its the Edmonton Eskimos vs Ottawa RedBlacks.

NY Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew – 4:30pm FS1: The Crew won first the first leg 2-0. NYRB has it’s work cut out for them if they want to advance to MLS Cup.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: The best offense in football goes against the best defense. More or less. Broncos start Brock Osweiler for a second straight week.

The Play That Won’t Go Away

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It’s no secret that the Seattle Seahawks called a pass play on 2nd and goal instead of a run play. It’s been debated, replayed and questioned to death but it just won’t die. In reality it’s death has provided us with a clinic on how to handle defeat.

We’re not going to replay what happened because you already know. What’s more impressive is that this play will not go away. We couldn’t forget last years Super Bowl quickly enough and now we don’t seem to want to let this one go. From major media companies to the social media stratosphere. What’s being called the ‘worst play call in Super Bowl history’ has a life of it’s own.

If you were watching the Boston Bruins at New York Rangers game on NBCSN you probably saw a tease for the Today show on Thursday where Matt Lauer sits down with Pete Carroll. It’s being promoted like a major expose or something.

Pete Carroll on Today

Even the opposing coach, Bill Belichick, is telling people to back off. Like a lot of us, Belichick knows that A) it was a great play by New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler and B) if Butler doesn’t make the play people would be pushing for Belichick and Tom Brady to retire and talking about a dynasty out in Seattle.

Instead of questioning we should be celebrating how head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson are handling the situation. They, and just about the rest of the Seattle organization, has handled the repeated questions with grace and dignity. Their coolness under fire should become a college course they’ve done it so well.

It’s called a game of inches for a reason. Now the repercussion of those inches has a life of it’s own. From the Washington Post to twitter to the intro of the Nashville Predators mascot Gnash (‘He knows to run the ball on 2nd and goal!’) before a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. You can’t escape it no matter how well the principles handle the onslaught.

 

 

 

 

What To Watch Fri. 1/30- Sun. 2/1

All times are Pacific

Friday January 30th

Portland TrailBlazers at Atlanta Hawks – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: The Hawks have been unreal but the Blazers are no joke themselves.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 7pm NHL GameCenter: The Blackhawks head west to take on the best team in the NHL as far as points are concerned.

 

Saturday January 31st

Chelsea vs Manchester City – 8:30am NBC: Five points separate Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Yeah, it’s a big game.

Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens – 10am NHL Network: Two quality teams in one of the best venues in all of hockey.

North Carolina at Louisville – 1pm ESPN: It was fun when they played a few weeks ago. This should be too.

Los Angeles Kings at Boston Bruins – 4pm NHL Network: An east coast vs west coast showdown.

Duke at Virginia – 4pm ESPN: Duke is ranked in the top 5 but have to have this game is they want any shot of winning the ACC regular season title. UVA looks to keep their unbeaten season alive.

LA Clippers at San Antonio Spurs – 6pm ESPN: Lob City heads deep into the heart of Texas to take on the defending champs.

UFC 183: Silva vs Diaz – 7pm PPV: As long as Nick Diaz shows up we should have a fun fight. Even a 39 year old Anderson Silva coming off an extended layoff is something to marvel at.

 

 

Sunday February 1st

St Louis Blues at Washington Capitals – 10am NBCSN: The Blues have to be the most underrated team in the NHL. See how good they really are. Tough back to back stretch for the Caps too.

Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins – 11am NHL GameCenter: Predators have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season. Pittsburgh is a tough place to steal three points though.

Super Bowl XLIX – Seattle Seahawks vs New England Patriots – 3:30pm NBC: This should be an amazing game. We did think that last year too.

At Least Keep Your Dignity

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

With the 2014 World Cup wrapping up a lot of people will look back and remember different things. Whether the goals by Robin Van Persie and Tim Cahill or the run by Costa Rica or the biting incident. Everyone will remember something. Most people though may just remember how Brazil and their fans couldn’t lose with dignity.

There apparently is crying in soccer, at least for the fans of Brazil’s national team. Images were plastered around the globe as Brazil gave up five goals in under twenty minutes to the German national team in the World Cup semifinals. People young and old were shown as if a member of their family died when in reality their team just gave up.

The kicker to this is the players afterwards crying. David Luiz gave a tearful interview apologizing to the fans. Apologies are one thing, not stepping up and going down swinging is another.

The fact is Brazil was beatable and was living on borrowed time. Germany exposed that fact. Yes Brazil was without their captain and best defender Thiago Silva and their superstar Neymar but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that no one from the team stepped up when they went down. No one fought back. No one challenged the Germans. Either they were in shock at what was happening or no one had the gaul to step up and be a leader. It was, in a word, shameful.

Teams get behind early all the time in all sports but all is not lost. Take Liverpool’s comeback in the Champions League final in 2005. Down 3-0 at halftime Steven Gerrard put the team on his back and helped lead them to a win via a shootout.

Another example is the 2006 AFC Championship game where the Indianapolis Colts were down 21-6 at the half to their kryptonite, the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning refuses to lose and leads the Colts to not only a 38-34 win but also a Super Bowl victory two weeks later.

The point is that big players step up in big games, even when they’re down. No one from Brazil did that and most of these players play for big clubs around the world. In the end it may not of mattered as Germany poured on two more goals but at least those players could have walked off the pitch with their head held high knowing that they battled to the end. Brazil’s players can take no such solace.

On another note, if you’re a fan of Brazil, don’t cry be upset! Be upset at the eleven players on the pitch who gave up. And for the adults who were shown on TV crying with over an hour left to play, cowboy up. It’s one thing of a child to be crying but you adults no better. Have some dignity.

Advice on how you should be after a huge loss:

Andy Roddick after losing in the 2007 Australian Open

Jim Mora Press Conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spy Game. NFL Style.

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

This has been happening for years but it seems to have been kicked into overdrive this year. NFL players cut by one team then picked up by a rival team. Sometimes a division rival and other times by an early season opponent. While the new player may have been brought in for their skill, their insider knowledge is also high on the list of reasons they were signed.

Senaca Wallace is a perennial backup quarterback in the NFL. Having played with Seattle, Cleveland, San Francisco (about a week) and now Green Bay. Besides him, Green Bay also picked up QB Scott Tolzien. His former team, San Francisco.

SENACA WALLACE

Guess who Green Bay plays week 1, that’s right San Francisco.

While Wallace may be an actual solution to Green Bay’s problem of finding a second string QB, Tolzien is plain and simple an informant.

Tolzien spent all of last season as San Francisco’s third string QB. When he didn’t make the final roster Green Bay snatched him up.

Does he have things to share? Probably. Will he share them? Probably. There is no reason or rule that says he can’t.

The question now becomes, will this help Green Bay on Sunday? It might. It certainly can’t hurt. Let us not forget that San Francisco got the better of Green Bay twice last season and the second time was a thrashing in the playoffs.

This isn’t the first or last time something like this has happened. A few years ago New England picked up former New York Jets running back Danny Woodhead. He ended up having a pretty nice career with New England before signing with San Diego this offseason. People immediatly accused New England Head Coach Bill Belichick of picking up Woodhead soley to gain insider knowledge on the then up and coming Jets.

San Francisco is also guilty of grabbing a player from a divisional foe. They snagged wide receiver Chris Harper from the Seattle Seahawks. A team San Francisco will compete with for the NFC West title.

CHRIS HARPER

San Francisco can justify the pick up just like Green Bay can. They need help at WR with their star Michael Crabtree out for at least half of the season. It doesn’t hurt that he may know a little bit about Seattle’s 2013 offensive game plan though.

Adapting to the Weather

Some years ago, when there was a Big 8 conference in collegiate athletics, the University  of Colorado was changing their offense from an option team to a three WR team. Most people mocked the move with the ‘you can’t run a pass based offense in this conference. At least one game a year you’ll get wind, rain, sleet or snow and then what?’

Well Colorado did change their offense. Some time after that Bob Stoops became the head coach at the University of Oklahoma and won a National Title with the ‘Air Raid’ offense. By that time Oklahoma and Colorado where in the Big 12 conference and proved the weather nay sayers wrong week in and week out. Other schools followed suit including Kansas and Missouri.

Sports has shown an amazing ability to overcome the elements and provide amazing moments. From football to the NHL’s Winter Classic. Now a another weather challenge looms on the immediate horizon, global warming.

Global warming has been effecting athletes for years. There is no better example than the fall football camps. Oppressive heat forcing teams to alter practice hours and closely monitor their players health. Now sports must adapt to storms such as Sandy that battered the eastern seaboard.

Think about this, if the San Francisco Giants didn’t sweep the Detroit Tigers in four games in the World Series when would they have been able to play game five? The outer edges of Sandy were already being felt in Detroit bringing high winds, rain and a big drop in temperature. What if the New York Yankees or the New York Mets had made it to the World Series. Would they have been able to play at all?

MLS had to swap locations of a playoff game from New York to DC because of Sandy. They then ran into a snow storm delaying the second leg of the playoff series forcing the match to be played a day later. All this, one could argue, factored into DC not being at full strength in the next round which resulted in them being bounced out of the playoffs by a fresher Houston side.

Some professional leagues like the NFL, MLB and MLS have all talked about or already extended either their season or playoff structure in the name of revenue. Now these sports are running into situations, in particular MLB and MLS, where their playoff games could be put in jeopardy because of global warming. Placing both leagues in the unenviable position of possibly sacrificing profits just so they can get the games played.

The NFL is looking to expand it’s footprint. One way of doing that is going to an eighteen game schedule and placing a franchise in the United Kingdom. This years London game between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams was played without incident however the trip home became complicated due to Sandy. New England moved up their charter flight to get home before the storm hit but did have a contingency plan which meant staying in London for a few more days until it was safe for them to return to Boston. Luckily, they had an off week the next week.

As we can see, sports are not exempt from the effects of global warming. Dealing with it is going to play a major role in how and when games are played. Leagues, coaches, layers and fans better get use to it because it’s not around the corner but a fact of life right now.

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