Serena Williams

Serena’s Shocker, Maria’s Return, and More

It has been quite a newsy week both on and off the court for some of the biggest stars in tennis. Here is a look around the ever-changing landscape of the sport.

Serena Shocks the World

Serena Williams Pregnancy

Photo: Serena Williams Instagram

The real reason for Serena Williams’ lengthy post-Australian Open absence was revealed Wednesday. The 23-time Grand Slam winner took to Snapchat to announce that she and fiance Alexis Ohanian are expecting their first child.

The 35-year-old was eight weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open to break Steffi Graf’s modern era record for Grand Slam singles titles.

Williams stated her intention to return to the tour in 2018. While it is foolish to put anything past her, it is far from a certainty given her age and apparent happiness in her personal life.

The already wide open ladies tour is now even more so without its unquestioned superior athlete. However, as one megastar steps away, another is back on the scene.

Sharapova is ready to Roll

Maria Sharapova

Photo: twitter.com/mariasharapova

Maria Sharapova has arrived in Germany for her comeback at next week’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. She will play her first match when her doping suspension ends on Wednesday. She will have to practice off tournament grounds until then.

Sharapova’s return remains controversial, but it is happening. There is no reason to look in the rear view mirror. It has been 15 months since Sharapova has played an official match. Until she takes the court for her opener against Roberta Vinci, no one will know if she can get back to the top, not even Sharapova herself.

We do know a few things. Sharapova has dominated everyone not named Serena over the years. Williams is out of the picture for now. Also, we know that the 30-year-old Russian is highly motivated and in great shape. This could make for a lethal cocktail for the competition.

2017 Themes Continue in Monte Carlo

While the ladies tour is being rocked to its core, it has been business as usual for the men at the season’s first big clay court event in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

While it is a step in the right direction just to see them back on the court, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray lost relatively early to lesser players once again. While their opponents played well, Djokovic and Murray continue to search for answers.

Rafa Nadal

Photo: atpworldtour.com

One person who has them, but is not sharing is Rafael Nadal. The “King of Clay” is into the final in search of a mind blowing tenth title in Monte Carlo. There is no reason to think Nadal’s 2017 rebirth will slow down on his favorite surface. The final member of the “Big Four” continues to reiterate his intention to rest until the French Open. Even when he is not around, Roger Federer’s presence looms large.

 

 

 

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2017 Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft Profile

For day 29 of draftmas, the Atlanta Falcons take center stage.

Summary:

Atlanta had a terrific season last year, finishing with a regular season mark of 11-5. Unfortunately, all that will be remembered is the Falcons blowing a 25 point third quarter lead in the Super Bowl.

Matt Ryan (Photo courtesy: twitter.com)

There are not many weaknesses on this football team. The Matt Ryan led offense remains loaded. A lineup that features Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu and Devonta Freeman makes for an embarrassment of riches. Throw in an offensive line that was galvanized by free agent signing Alex Mack, and this offense went from talented to lethal last year. They were held under 20 points in just a single game

The defense was statistically below average, but the emergence of 2016 sack champion Vic Beasley and rookie safety Keanu Neal provides reason for optimism in 2017.

Pushing the right button on draft day makes a chance a Super Bowl redemption even more realistic than it already is. Here is a look at where the Falcons stand.

Picks and needs:

First round: (1) No. 31

Second round: (1) No. 63

Third round: (1) No. 95

Fourth round: (1) No. 136

Fifth round: (1) No. 174

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 249

These needs are in no particular order.

Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- Vic Beasley needs someone else to get after the quarterback, while they could use some depth on the interior as well.

Linebacker- Deon Jones is great, but they don’t have much outside of him.

Offensive Needs:

Guard- Chris Chester retired and Ben Garland is the projected starter at right guard. They need to get that fixed before the start of the season.

Tight End- Austin Hooper is solid, but they don’t really have a big pass-catching threat at tight end.

 

Possible Targets:

These players could realistically be drafted by the Falcons where they are selecting. There will be no trades.

First Round:

Pick #31: Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Charles Harris (Photo courtesy: stltoday.com)

Harris is a good pass rusher, who is also solid against the run. He doesn’t have great length for a edge rusher, but does have good strength. The Falcons had Vic Beasley last season, but need to get more pass rushers around him to have a better defense.

Second Round:

Pick #63: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

McMillan needs to work on pass coverage, but can help stop the run. He will likely be a two down linebacker in the NFL to start. Atlanta doesn’t have many good linebackers outside of Deon Jones, so they can get another one with good value at this selection.

Third Round: 

Pick #95: Ethan Pocic, OG/C, LSU

Pocic has a lot of experience playing on the interior of the offensive line at LSU. He needs to work on his pass blocking, but is good at run blocking. He can start at guard from day one with a good training camp and preseason showing.

 

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francesca schiavone

Old (Tennis) Things New Part II

After getting feedback from readers on my last article, I realized there are a few additional lesser known older players not named Federer or Venus that are giving Father Time a run for his money. So, here are their stories.

Ivo Karlovic

Ivo Karlovic

Photo 10sballs.com

Despite a losing record on the year, the near seven foot Croatian is still hanging tough. He is ranked No. 21 at age 38. The all-time leader in aces remains an uncomfortable matchup for everyone.

That was not more evident than at this year’s Australian Open. The big man fired a tournament record 75 aces in an epic five set win over Horacio Zeballos.

No one will ever want to play a guy who can drop 150 mph serves like nothing, no matter his age. A player never wants the racquet taken out of their hands. That is exactly what Karlovic does. A winning career mark against Novak Djokovic tells you all you need to know about what a nightmare Karlovic can be.

Tommy Robredo

The 34-year-old Spaniard has been ranked inside the top 50 for most of the last decade. After missing the bulk of 2016 with injuries, he started the year ranked outside the top 600.

Tommy Robredo

Photo: atpworldtourcom

Playing on a protected ranking in Morocco this week, Robredo upset top seed and former Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who had been playing the most consistent tennis of his career in recent months.

It remains to be seen just what the long-term potential of Robredo’s injury comeback is. For a veteran who is basically starting from scratch again, a result like that is why you keep playing.

 

Francesca Schiavone

The Italian was already a veteran when she shocked the world by winning the 2010 French Open. She did an okay job of backing up that result for a while. However, the last two full years have really been a struggle for Schiavone. Her year-end singles ranking has dipped outside of the top 90.

Prior to the start of this year, Schiavone announced it would be her last on tour. Playing mostly using wildcards, wins have been tough to come by. This week on the clay courts of Bogotá, Colombia, the 36-year-old turned back the clock, racing to the trophy without dropping a set.

The win is one of the most important in Schiavone’s nearly two-decade career. Her eighth career title also means 600 career match wins and key ranking points ahead of what will be her last French Open.

Passion is the only word that comes to mind when talking about these longtime warriors of the court. These player love what they do, and sometimes that can get the job done even when their physical skills are diminishing.

 

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Tommy Haas

Old (Tennis) Things New

From injuries, to match fixing allegations, to doping, 2016 was not a great year for the sport of tennis. However, the early part of 2017 has provided a narrative that is easy to embrace and get behind.

The success of players in their mid-to-late 30s has been simply incredible. There are some cases of players even stretching beyond that age barrier. Not long ago, players were retired by their 30th birthday.

While the late career renaissances of Venus Williams and Roger Federer have been well documented, there are a few other older players doing amazing things.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni:

At 17, this big hitting Croatian took the world by storm by reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon and playing Steffi Graf to the wire. After 1999, Lucic was forced off the tour due to injuries, an abusive father and financial problems.

Lucic eventually put her problems behind her and got married. After a few stop and start comeback attempts, she became a fixture on the main tour again by 2008. That alone is a massive accomplishment. Unfortunately, despite winning her first tour title in 15 years in 2014, Lucic was not able to regain her past success and was stuck ranked at the backend of the top 100.

This year, she produced a string of upsets at the Australian Open and returned to a Grand Slam semifinal 18 years after her initial breakthrough. She has reached the quarterfinals or better at four events on the young season. At 35, she now sits at a career-high ranking of 21 in the world. If you are not overly familiar with it, her story is worth an even deeper look.

Lucic Baroni

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Kimiko Date:

Date was a top five player and three-time Grand Slam semifinalist in the mid-90s. After retiring in 1996, she announced an unexpected comeback in 2008. A year later, she became the second oldest WTA Tour title winner ever. Her comeback also included a win over Maria Sharapova at her home event in Japan and a memorable match with Venus Williams at Wimbledon.

Kimiko Date

Photo: Getty Images

Most assumed, she would retire again after taking time off for knee surgery last year. They assumed wrong. A newly divorced Date announced her intentions for another comeback late last month. At age 46, Date will return to pro tennis at an ITF event in Japan later this month. She has said that she hopes to resume playing on the WTA Tour.

Date is old enough to be the mother of most of her fellow competitors. Her commitment to the game alone is beyond admirable. The fact that she has had at least some level of singles success at her age is a marvel. A marvel the likes of which we will never see again given the physicality of the modern game.

            Tommy Haas:

            The former World No. 2 has had too many injuries and comebacks to list. Following a toe surgery that brought his career total to 15, Haas announced that 2017 would be his final year on tour. The German said he wanted his young daughter to see him compete.

Tommy Haas

Photo: menstennisforum.com

Haas has crossed over into administrative roles with the ATP while continuing to play this year. This week in Houston, the 39 year old became the oldest man to win an ATP World Tour match since Jimmy Connors in 1995.

These three players are among the many proving that age truly is just a number in 2017. Their days of lifting trophies are likely over, but their passion for the game keeps them going. More than anything, that is what they should be remembered for.

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Denver Broncos 2017 NFL Draft Profile

The Denver Broncos are up for day 18 of Draftmas.

Summary

Denver finished the season at 9-7 last year after winning the Super Bowl in 2015-2016. They are in a very tough AFC West and will be looking to get back into the playoffs this season.

The offensive side of the ball was clearly the problem for the Broncos last season. They averaged just 20.8 points per game and were in the bottom half of the league in terms of passing and rushing yards per game.

Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will probably be the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart next season. If Siemian doesn’t perform Lynch will get his chance. C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker are serviceable running backs, but could be upgraded. The Broncos have two great receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but could use some depth behind them.

Von Miller (Photo courtesy: espn.com)

The real area that needs improvement is the offensive line. Ronald Leary was signed to play left guard, but the tackles still need to be upgraded.

Defensively, The Broncos were great at pass defense, as they were the only team in the league to give up fewer than 3,000 yards through the air. Denver does need to improve in the trenches. They gave up the fourth most rushing yards in the league.

With their pass defense, they don’t need much secondary help. The Broncos do however need to improve their defensive line. Defensive tackle and end are huge needs and have to help stop the run. The linebackers are solid, but Todd Brown could be upgraded, but it’s not a huge need.

 

Picks and Needs

The Broncos have ten picks in this draft, but three of those are in the seventh round. Denver isn’t too far off from getting back into the playoffs, but needs to make the most of these picks.

First round: (1) No. 20

Second round: (1) No. 51

Third round: (2) No. 82, 101

Fourth round: (1) No. 127

Fifth round: (1) No. 177

Sixth round: (1) No. 203

Seventh round: (3) No. 238, No. 252, No. 253

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Running Back- This isn’t a glaring need, but could be helpful to the offense. C.J. Anderson has had an up and down career so far. Devontae Booker played decently in his rookie season in limited action. With a loaded running back class the Broncos may take a running back if there is good value.

Tackle- This is the biggest need for the Broncos. To get this offense going the tackles have to protect the quarterback and open up holes in the running game. Donald Stephenson and Menelik Watson both need to be upgraded.
Wide Receiver- The Broncos have Thomas and Sanders, but may want a third threat through the air.
Tight End- Virgil Green could be upgraded, especially in a great tight end class.
Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- Denver signed a lot of veteran defensive linemen, but none are great players. They need to load up on defensive linemen to help stop the run.

Targets and Thoughts

The picks here are who the Broncos could realistically get where they are drafting.

First Round:

Pick #20: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Ryan Ramczyk (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

With both tackles being a need, the Broncos will be able to take one of the top three in this class at 20. Ramczyk was a solid left tackle in college, who is a good run and pass blocker. He did a pretty good job blocking Taco Charlton when the Badgers played the Wolverines. He doesn’t have good mobility and athleticism and can be beat by fast rushers and blitzers. He might fit in better at right tackle in the NFL.

 

Second Round:
Pick #51: Malik McDowell, DE/DT, Michigan State

The motor of McDowell is questionable, but the Broncos should be able to get the most out of him. He has the ability to play multiple positions on the defensive line and should help clog up running lanes for the Broncos.

Third Round:

Pick #82: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

Hodges has loads of potential and is a great receiving tight end with good size. He did very well in workouts for scouts. He can even split out wide and give Denver a lot of options.

Pick #101: Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

Johnson has all of the physical tools to be a great tackle in the NFL, but his tape from college didn’t lie. He needs to be groomed into a great tackle. He presents good value here and if worked with properly, could be a great tackle in the NFL.

Conclusion

The AFC West is going to have four solid teams next season. With some good draft picks here, the Broncos can battle it out and make the playoffs once again.

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas here!

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Marshawn Lynch Return? Intriguing, but not Impactful

The Raiders on field product is in position to be a force for several years to come despite growing turmoil off the field. Oakland may have been the stiffest obstacle between the Patriots and another Super Bowl if MVP candidate Derek Carr didn’t get injured late in the regular season.

Derek Carr

Photo: heavy.com

However, there is one offseason rumor surrounding the Raiders that will not seem to go away: The possible return of retired running back Marshawn Lynch to join his hometown team in Oakland. Lynch reportedly visited team headquarters on Wednesday.

The Raiders have operated unconventionally throughout their history with mixed results.  This particular out-of-the-box move is a bad idea. Here is why.

Oakland Has Bigger Needs Elsewhere

Oakland’s defensive unit ranked outside the top 20 against both the pass and run last year. Their total defense ranking followed suit. The Raiders were quite fortunate that Carr and the offense were so good last year.

The offense will be very good as long as Carr is healthy. Last year’s starting running back Latavius Murray is now with the Vikings, but the Raiders still have two talented young running backs on the roster.

With an above-average offensive line, bringing in another running back should be way down on the Raider’s list of priorities. It is somewhat surprising that linebacker Jelani Jenkins is Oakland’s only defensive free agent signing to this point with their defensive rankings. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that all of their football related resources need to be dedicated towards building the defense in the draft. Any time spent on Lynch is a waste.

Spell Out the Specifics, It Makes No Sense

The Raiders suddenly find themselves trying to make the jump from good to great after over a decade of futility. This is the toughest jump to make in the NFL. Lynch’s power running style and outlandish personality made him one of the best and most memorable running backs of his era.

Beast Mode run

Photo: sportsworkout.com

In nine seasons, Lynch averaged over a thousand yards per season. A return would be interesting to see, but he will turn 31 later this month.

Ask yourself the following question: When was the last time an NFL team went from good to great by acquiring a 31-year-old running back who has not played in two years? One of Oakland’s decision makers needs to ponder this question before this flirtation goes any further.

 


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Federer Nadal

Spring Tennis Grades for the Stars

The calendar has flipped to April. That means that the two biggest non-major events in tennis are behind us. With most of the big names taking a few weeks off before the clay court season kicks into high gear, this is always a good time to take stock of the sport.

Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic all missed one or both of the events. Thus, it is not fair to evaluate them. However, here are some grades for other top stars in Indian Wells and Miami.

Roger Federer-The English language no longer possesses enough adjectives to describe how remarkable Federer is. His schedule for the clay court season is up in the air. The 35-year-old is expected to take an extended break. We may not see him again until the French Open in late May. After winning these two titles back-to-back, there is not a high enough grade to give. Grade: A++++

Rafael Nadal- He is finally healthy again and a threat in every tournament he enters. Back in the top five and with only losses last month coming to Federer, Nadal has to be deliriously happy with 2017 thus far. Grade: A

Stan Wawrinka- 2017 looks to be following a familiar pattern for the World No. 3. He is beating the players he is supposed to while occasionally getting tripped up by one of the talented young guns. He struggles against the “Big Four”. However, each of the last three years Wawrinka has been able to catch lightning in a bottle and win at least one huge event. That did not happen in Indian Wells or Miami, but he was by no means terrible. Grade: C

Jack Sock- We may have finally found the next American man to win a singles Grand Slam. The more I see from the 24-year-old the more I like. His forehand is one of the most devastating shots in the sport. He reached his biggest singles semifinal in Indian Wells and the quarterfinals in Miami losing to Federer and Nadal respectively. There is absolutely no shame in that. Grade: B+

Nick Kyrgios- Could Indian Wells and Miami have finally been a turning point for the controversial young Aussie? Let’s hope so. Knocking off Djokovic before coming down with food poisoning in Indian Wells and going toe to toe with Federer in the Miami semis should let him know how good he can be.

He is one of the most naturally gifted players I have ever seen. It was refreshing to spend March talking about Kyrgios’ game as opposed to disciplinary actions related to on and off court behavior. Grade: A

Nick Kyrgios

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Alexander Zverev- The tall and talented young German continues to cement himself as the second best prospect of the young generation. Upsetting top seeded Wawrinka in Miami adds to a growing list of big wins that the almost 20-year-old has already had. Despite losing to Kyrgios in both Indian Wells and Miami, Zverev may be a safer long-term bet in terms of career success. Unlike Kyrgios, Zverev is already handling himself very well on and off the court. Grade: B

Elena Vesnina- By winning her biggest career title in Indian Wells, the Russian veteran proved that her game and mental toughness had levels most people did not know existed. By losing her opening matches in Miami and Charleston respectively, she proved that she is just another WTA player in the last 18 months who had a career altering breakthrough and could not back it up. Grade: B

Angelique Kerber- A fourth round showing backed up by a quarterfinals appearance is not a bad month, unless you are the World No. 1. Despite the title, the German counterpuncher has yet to play like the best in the world in 2017. She is looking to vulture a championship trophy as the main attraction at a small hardcourt event in Monterrey Mexico this week. Grade: C-

Svetlana Kuznetsova- The fact that this two time Grand Slam champion continues to put herself in big time finals like Indian Wells in her early 30s is more than commendable. The fact that she blew a lead in a big time final once again makes you wonder just how good she could have been if the mental skills match the physical ones. A fatigued Kuznrtsova was no match for Venus Williams in Miami. Grade: B-

Venus Williams- Much like Federer, Venus simply continues to amaze. The run to the Australian Open final was no fluke.  She reached the semis of Miami. In the process, she became the oldest player to ever defeat a World No. 1, knocking off Kerber in the quarters.

What a splendid way to back up a run to the last eight in Indian Wells. Her opening match loss in Charleston yesterday is understandable. She has never been a big fan of the clay. Throw in a little jet lag, and you could almost see it coming. Even at 36, no one wants to play Venus Williams. Grade: A-

Caroline Wozniacki-The Dane’s late 2016 resurgence has carried over into this year. A quarterfinal appearance in Indian Wells followed by a runner-up trophy in Miami, and a return to the top 10 is just a matter of time. Grade: B+

Johanna Konta- Ranked outside the top 100 is recently as the summer of 2015,  Most folks are still trying to get their arms around who this Brit is and where she came from. Her relative anonymity will not last much longer. After overpowering Venus and Wozniacki on her way to the Miami title, she is knocking on the door of the top five in the world. Grade: A-

Johanna Konta

Photo: lastwordontennis.com

Simona Halep- Admittedly, this grade is a bit kinder than it normally would be for a top five player who failed to reach the semis in Indian Wells or Miami. In fact, the stealthy Romanian has not reached the semifinal of any event in 2017. Even so, Miami could be a real building block for Halep. Reaching the quarterfinals and narrowly losing to the eventual champion is nothing to sneeze at. More importantly, by her own admission, it was the first event of the year that Halep entered and exited healthy. Grade: C+

Agnieszka Radwanska- In a sport dominated by power, the diminutive Pole’s cerebral style of play is a pleasure to watch. However, her fall from grace in 2017 has been swift and mystifying.

She was blasted off the court by bigger hitters in just her second match in both Indian Wells and Miami, winning just 11 combined games in those defeats. Apart from a runner-up result in Sydney, Australia in the second week of the year, 2017 has been a disaster for Radwanska. It just looks like the power of the modern game has finally overtaken her. She has been a top 10 mainstay for the better part of a decade, but with just nine match wins in six events this year, she does not even look like a top 30 player at the moment. Grade: D-

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Silverdome

Motor City Memories: So Long Silverdome

It was announced earlier this week that the Pontiac Silverdome would be demolished later this year. The former home of the Detroit Lions and Pistons has not had a major sports tenant since 2001. Time marches on and business is business. However, it is always a bit sad to see these sports and entertainment landmarks go.

Before it meets the dynamite, here is a look back at some memories from the former jewel of the Motor City.

The Birth of “The Bad Boys”

Bad boys Pistons

Photo: nba.com

The Pistons called the Silverdome home from 1978-1988. The franchise never won much of anything prior to the hiring of Chuck Daly as head coach in 1983.

 

Daly had some players to work with. The shining star among them was Isiah Thomas. Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson were also there. Rick Mahorn, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, John Salley and Adrian Dantley soon followed through the draft and trades. Their physical brand of basketball and defense earned them the nickname “The Bad Boys.” They were never afraid to trash talk or commit a hard foul.

The Silverdome played host as the Pistons reached their inaugural Eastern Conference Finals in 1987 and the NBA Finals a year later. They would lose in seven games to Pat Riley’s Lakers.

The Pistons moved to their current home, The Palace of Auburn Hills, following the 1988 season. They christened that building by winning back-to-back NBA championships. The Palace may have seen the culmination of a mini dynasty, but the seeds were planted at the Silverdome.

Super Bowl XVI

Super Bowl XVI

Photo: 49ers.com

The most important pro football game ever played in the Silverdome, given the infamous history of the Lions, was Super Bowl XVI. The San Francisco 49ers, lead by Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, held off a late rally by the Cincinnati Bengals to win 26-21.

The NFC title game is more remembered because of “The Catch.” However, if the 49ers don’t win it all, that moment is diminished significantly. This Super Bowl was the true beginning of the 49ers’ 80s dynasty and the first of four Super Bowls for the Montana/Walsh combo.

           

The Career of Barry Sanders

The Lions called the Silverdome home from 1975-2001. The building saw just a single playoff win. However, the one thing Lions fans could always hang their hat on was Barry Sanders.

Sanders played home games in the Silverdome for his entire career. Sanders ranks third all-time in rushing yards and also made ten trips to the Pro Bowl. The home fans saw Sanders rush for 184 yards two days after Christmas in 1997 to cap off one of only seven 2000-yard rushing seasons in NFL history.

Sanders had so many breathtaking runs at the Silverdome that it is hard to pick just one. So, enjoy the montage below from the NFL’s YouTube channel.

 

WrestleMania III 

WrestleMania 3

Photo: pintrest.com

While pro wrestling stretches the definition of the word “sport,” you cannot talk about the Silverdome without talking about WrestleMania III.  The 1987 version of WWE’s biggest annual event packed the Silverdome with over 93,000 fans. It was an indoor sporting event attendance record that stood until 2010.

Most were there to see Hulk Hogan battle Andre the Giant in the main event. Hogan’s slam of the 520 pound mammoth is one of the most iconic moments in the history of American pop culture. At the time, wrestling was as mainstream as it has ever been. For many of today’s millennials, the Silverdome is forever known as where Hulk slammed Andre.

If buildings could talk, the Silverdome would have quite a tale to tell.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

New York Jets 2017 NFL Draft Profile

On day six of TGH Draftmas, the New York Jets will be analyzed.

Jets SUMMARY

The Jets had a veteran roster last season that failed to make the playoffs. They have shed some of the veteran players, as they look to rebuild a playoff contender, even though it will take a few years to achieve that.

Scoring was not easy for the Jets last season, as they averaged just 17.2 points per game, which ranked them 30th in the league. Quarterback is a need, as they have two young unproven quarterbacks and a free agent veteran in Josh McCown. They were near the bottom of the league in pass yards and will need to be able to do more than just run the ball. With losing Brandon Marshall in free agency and not having a great tight end, the Jets will also be looking at receiving threats in this draft.

The defense is the better of the two units, but still needs some work. They signed Morris Claiborne, who had a successful season with the Cowboys last year, but has struggled with injuries throughout his career. They still need corners and safeties, but Claiborne will help. Otherwise they need to find a lot of depth players in this class for their defense.

 

 

Jets PICKS AND NEEDS

The Jets have seven picks in this draft, which means that they will need to make the most of these picks to start off their rebuild strong.

First Round:(1) No. 6

Second Round: (1) No. 39

Third Round:(2) No.70, No.107

Fourth Round:(0)

Fifth Round:(1) No.150

Sixth Round:(1) No.191

Seventh Round:(1) No.224

The early round picks will be crucial to filling their needs and could potentially have impacts on the field this upcoming season.

With this in mind, these are some of the biggest needs in no particular order are.

Offense

Wide Receiver– With Brandon Marshall gone, they are relying on Eric Decker to step up.

Offensive Lineman

Quarterback- This is really more pressing, but they already have 3, two young guys and a free agent signing. Thus, can’t see them going here until late.

Tight End- Almost every true contender has a pass catching tight end. No tight end on this roster has 60 career catches.

Defense

Safety

Cornerback

Jets’ TARGETS AND THOUGHTS

As with all the other Draftmas profiles, we will take a look at the first three rounds and there will be no trades.

First Round:

Pick #6: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

O.J. Howard (Photo courtesy: theodysseyonline.com)

The best option for the Jets is to trade down and acquire more picks, but there are no trades in these Draftmas profiles. Marshon Lattimore could be the pick, but he was mentioned in the last team profile. Howard could be a reach at 6, but will likely be gone by their second pick, number 39. The best tight end in the draft going to the most TE needy team would make sense.

Second Round:

Pick #39: Marcus Williams, S, Utah

With this pick the Jets can fill one of their biggest needs, safety. Williams isn’t the biggest or fastest safety, but makes plays on the ball. The Jets will need him immediately and he will have to cover up for some bad corner play.

Third Round:

Pick #70: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

Kaaya is a guy that still needs some developing, but can grow into a solid NFL quarterback. The Jets have Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as young quarterbacks, but they may not be sold on those players, as they felt the need to sign Josh McCown in free agency.

Pick #107: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington

Kupp didn’t have the best combine, but was very productive at the FCS level. He was slower than expected, but has good route running skills and good hands. He is a very talented receiver who could go earlier in the draft, but the combine could make him fall to the Jets’ second pick in the third round.

Conclusion

The Jets have to get some good prospects in this draft class to build a solid foundation for their future. These players will have a chance to compete for starting jobs early on in their careers.

Thank you for joining us on our fifth day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the Los Angeles Chargers.

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas below!

Draftmas Day 5: Tennessee Titans

Draftmas Day 4: Jacksonville Jaguars

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

 

Garbine Muguruza

The Positives of On-Court Coaching in Tennis

Since 2009, the WTA Tour has allowed on-court coaching. Players are allowed one coaching visit per set. The coach must wear a microphone for TV audiences. The choice to use on-court coaching is entirely up to the player. It is not allowed on the men’s tour or at any of the four Grand Slams.

The rule has been controversial ever since its institution. An incident at this week’s Miami Open has reignited the debate. Reigning French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza and Coach Sam Sumyk got into a heated exchange where Muguruza told him to “shut the (expletive) up.” Sumyk responded with “Don’t ever tell me to shut the (expletive) up again.” Keep in mind, a national television audience heard the whole thing.

Tennis is a sport that likes to project a squeaky clean image. Thus, this has ruffled some feathers in and around the sport. Many are calling for an end to on-court coaching. This has been the case from the very beginning. There is a sliver of tennis purist inside me that believes that on-court coaching undermines the individuality of the sport as well as the problem-solving skills a player must possess.

That argument is understandable. Even so, the pros of on-court coaching far outweigh the cons and here is why.

Unprecedented Access to the Heat of Battle:

 It is very common for athletes and coaches in almost every other sport to wear microphones. Even so, on-court coaching provides tennis with something very unique. The public did not get to hear what Tom Brady and Bill Belichick said to each other when New England trailed by 25 points in the third quarter of the Super Bowl live. We only got to hear an edited version after the fact.

In the case of Muguruza, we got to hear exactly what was said while she was down a set and a break to American Christina McHale. Then, she went on to win the match in three sets with a little help from a well-timed rain delay. If you stop and think about it, that is pretty cool for a fan watching at home. If the occasional expletive from an athlete competing at the highest level bothers you, get thicker skin.

It Allows Fans to See the Personality of the Players:

This is the one thing I have always liked about the rule. Even for casual fans, on-court coaching tells you a lot about the way players approach matches. Above is a snippet from the SportsMagicianJJ YouTube channel. It features a coaching visit by Sven Groeneveld to his long time pupil Maria Sharapova. It is all about tactics. Sharapova says nothing and just stares off in to the distance. This is one common approach to coaching visits.

 

Another approach is in the video below from the WTA’s YouTube channel. American journeywoman Madison Brengle became an Internet legend after she joked with her coach about how to handle the immense power of Serena Williams at a season-opening event in New Zealand. Brengle would go on to upset Williams.

The approaches in the two videos are vastly different, but both highly effective. Most important, it lets the fans inside the mind of the players. Anything that allows players to be more than people on the court smacking a yellow ball around is good for the sport. The players who do not believe in the rule simply do not take  advantage of it, and that is their prerogative.

The rule does need some tweaking. If the women have the option for on-court coaching, the men should as well. The Grand Slams should continue to not feature the on-court coaching option. Those are what every player plays for. When the time comes, they should sink or swim on those stages all on their own. Overall, on-court coaching just adds another layer to the television viewing experience for the fans. That is never a bad thing.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers along with Dylan!

 

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