Monday, August 15, 2016
NFL football is back — Well, at least preseason NFL football is back.
While the warmup games may not lend much time to watching starters on your favorite NFL team, it is a good chance for rookies to see some live reps and get some game experience. Things move a lot faster in the NFL and the hits are a lot harder, but former Ohio State standouts performed well on their first weekend in the League.
Former Buckeyes showed off on offense during Week 1 of the preseason, including Cardale Jones(once again proving why his nickname is 12-Gauge), Braxton Miller (proving he can make tough catches) and Michael Thomas (who solidifies his role as a possible starter each time he takes the field). Nick Vannett is also working his way into the depth chart in Seattle, making two catches for 22 yards in his Week 1 showing.
The young quarterback went 11 for 21 during his preseason debut, recording 162 yards and a touchdown with the team’s third-team players. He helped the team launch an attempt to come from behind against the Colts, but ultimately came up a point shy. He came away from the game with the highest quarterback rating of the Bills’ three quarterbacks.
The quarterback turned wide receiver wasn’t too flashy during his debut with the Houston Texans, but a slick sideline snag supported his position switch ahead of taking his talents to the League.
The wide out has been a favorite of quarterback Drew Brees throughout OTAs and training camp, and finally everyone could see why. Thomas made a slew of catches in his debut that made Saints’ fans glad to have the Buckeye on their roster. No doubt a starter for the team, Thomas caught four of six targets for 64 yards — and did so in spectacular, and often diving, fashion.
A main reason the Buckeye offense was so dominate, was thanks to the big men up front. With three new Ohio State players looking to make their marks in the NFL on the line, only two of the three rookies are expected to be on a roster come the start of the regular season.
Taylor Decker is expected to contribute as a starter right away, and his first preseason game didn’t bode well for the young players’ confidence. He drew a holding flag during the Week 1 matchup against the Buckeye-loaded Steelers and failed to stand up James Harrison letting him get to Stafford and force a fumble. The Lions haven’t sounded the alarm yet, and are hoping to see steady improvements by Decker throughout the preseason.
Despite playing Week 1, center Joel Hale only saw 13 snaps and he, along with Chase Farris, aren’t expected to make their respective team’s 53-man roster.
Some of the Buckeyes best defenders made their way to the NFL in 2016, and some have already shown signs of greatness — and surprised a few people along the way. First-round pick for the Giants, Eli Apple, gave the team a scare following a hit to his knee during their preseason game against the Dolphins — following an MRI, everything is said to be fine, with he’s said to be taking it “day by day”.
One of the bigger surprises from the NFL Draft was Powell not being taken during the seven round event. It wasn’t long after the close of the draft that the Buckeye was fielding offers from teams across the country, before ultimately signing with the Seattle Seahawks. Not that the lively player needed anymore fire to motivate him, but the draft snub is certainly ushering him to a spot on the final roster.
Powell is expected to make the roster for his abilities on special teams — a skill position Devin Smith never seemed to perfect — and with these highlights on defense his value has definitely gone up.
The first-round pick has caught the attention of his coaches during OTAs and training camp and continued to show off during the Jets’ first preseason game. Lee recorded the teams’ second sack of the game and even put up some miles on special teams -- even if that’s not exactly where he’s used to being.
“I’m pretty tired from special teams, I’m not going to lie,” Lee said, according to the team. “But according to everybody else, that’s what a rookie has to do. I have to keep running down on special teams, but still go out and make plays regardless if you’re winded. But other than that, I had a lot of fun.”
Despite being a force in training camp, Bell struggled a bit during his preseason debut, getting embarrassed on a cut by Patriots’ Julian Edelman and missing a golden chance at a interception that seemed to slip right through his hands. Hopefully, he can show the team that his efforts in practice can rollover to game day, and earn his spot on the final roster.
Continuing as one of the best guys on and off the field, Perry — unlike Bosa — made his debut for the Chargers in Week 1 and was able to force a fumble in one of several impressive plays. He spoke after the game about areas of improvement, and admitted that going against the tough Arizona run offense in Week 2 will be a challenge, but one that he’s ready to tackle (pun intended).
The Buffalo Bills are thanking their lucky stars to have gotten Washington in the third round, especially given the production he’s had in training camp and now in preseason. He’s already expected to start for the Bills at left defensive end, where he saw extended playing time during Week 1 of the preseason, with Coach Ryan lauding his addition to the d-line rotation.
Sometimes rookies can make a 53-man roster for their special team abilities alone. Aside, from looking good on offense, Jalin Marshall continues to shine on kick returns. He proved his worth during the Jets’ first preseason game, with an 80-yard return.
Not all Buckeyes made their debut during Week 1 of the preseason, with Ezekiel Elliott forced to delay the Cowboys’ second-coming due to a hamstring issue sustained during training camp, but is expected to get some reps during the preseason as a lead-in to a carry-heavy rookie season. Joey Bosa was also noticeably absent, but not surprisingly given the way his contract negotiations have gone with the San Diego Chargers — offset language and bonus money payout schedule has kept the Buckeye from signing his rookie deal with the team.
So far, the latest batch of Buckeyes to head to the NFL are carrying on a long tradition of excellence in the League. We’ll see where they all land once the teams announce their final 53-man rosters, but there will certainly be a bevy of Buckeye talent to root for throughout the regular season.
Posted by just BS at 9:38 PM
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
What a joke SB Nation Michigan in final 4......... lmao
College Football PlayoffNational ChampionshipLSUClemsonJan. 9TampaFiesta winner vs. Peach winnerFiestaClemsonMichiganDec. 31Glendale, Ariz.Playoff rankings top 4PeachLSUTCUDec. 31AtlantaPlayoff rankings top 4
LSU returns a whole t o n, could play 12 bowl teams in 13 games, upgraded at defensive coordinator, and gets Bama and Ole Miss at home. But the quarterback, they shout. Brandon Harris was middlin' in the SEC as a true sophomore, has a horde of weapons, and doesn't exactly need to throw for 5,000 yards here. To bet on a Zombie Les Miles team is to cannonball into a volcano, so I am wearing moisture-wicking garments.
Clemson's my No. 2. Deshaun Watson's offense is going to eat souls, and the defense can't falltoo far.
Michigan might be the safest Playoff pick in the country; I don't think the Wolverines are the best team, but look at that schedule. 7-0 heading into East Lansing should be expected. 8-4 would be a disaster. The Wolverines should have a monstrous defense, and the only real Q is at quarterback, where there are decent options on paper.
[To clarify, I don't mean UM is some sort of Playoff lock. I mean if you had to pick just one team to make the Playoff, Michigan might be the best choice. Or Alabama. Live dangerously.]
Lastly, I think the Pac-12 will devour itself, Notre Dame's schedule has a bump too many, and it'll be a long time before a conference gets two teams in. So hey there, Big 12. The Frogs return a load, once you account for injuries, and the home schedule includes conference favorite Oklahoma and potential OOC prize Arkansas.
New Year's Six bowlsCottonTennesseeHoustonJan. 1Arlington, TexasAt-largeRoseOhio StateWashingtonJan. 1Pasadena, Calif.Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1SugarOklahomaAlabamaJan. 1New OrleansBig 12 1 vs. SEC 1OrangeFlorida StateNotre DameDec. 30MiamiACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND
In this year's rotation, the whole NY6 slate is basically set by the Playoff rankings within each conference. There's only one at-large game, and that one has to include the Group of 5 auto bid.
So, yeah. This part's pretty easy for now.
I spent a lot of time debating Houston vs. Boise State or Western Michigan and Washington vs. its entire division.
Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid)Conference selection order, not based on standingsFoster FarmsWisconsinStanfordTBASanta Clara, Calif.Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4OutbackNebraskaFloridaJan. 2TampaBig Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8CitrusPenn StateOle MissDec. 31OrlandoBig Ten 2-4/ACC vs. SEC 2TaxSlayerMiamiGeorgiaDec. 31Jacksonville, Fla.ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8Music CityIowaSouth CarolinaDec. 30NashvilleACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8LibertyTexas TechMissouriDec. 30MemphisBig 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8SunNorth CarolinaOregonDec. 30El PasoACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5ArizonaAir ForceGeorgia StateDec. 30TucsonMWC vs. Sun BeltAlamoTexasUSCDec. 29San AntonioBig 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2BelkVirginia TechAuburnDec. 29CharlotteACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8BirminghamCincinnatiTexas A&MDec. 29Birmingham, Ala.American vs. SEC 9PinstripePittMinnesotaDec. 28New York CityACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7Russell AthleticLouisvilleWest VirginiaDec. 28OrlandoACC 2 vs. Big 12 3TexasOklahoma StateArkansasDec. 28HoustonBig 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8CactusBaylorArizonaDec. 27Tempe, Ariz.Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7Heart of DallasMarylandWKUDec. 27DallasBig Ten vs. C-USAHolidayMichigan StateUCLADec. 27San DiegoBig Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3MilitaryNC StateTempleDec. 27Annapolis, Md.ACC vs. AmericanIndependenceNorthwestern*Mississippi StateDec. 26Shreveport, La.ACC vs. SECSt. PetersburgGeorgia TechUSFDec. 26St. Petersburg, Fla.ACC vs. AmericanQuick LaneSyracuseIndianaDec. 26DetroitACC vs. Big TenHawaiiFIUUtah StateDec. 24HonoluluC-USA vs. MWCGoDaddyWMUAppalachian StateDec. 23Mobile, Ala.MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2Armed ForcesWashington State*NavyDec. 23Fort Worth, TexasBig 12 vs. NavyBahamasTulsaOhioDec. 23Nassau, BSAmerican vs. MACPotatoToledoColorado StateDec. 22Boise, IdahoMAC 2 vs. MWCPoinsettiaBYUSan Diego StateDec. 21San DiegoBYU vs. MWCBoca RatonMemphisSouthern MissDec. 20Boca Raton, Fla.American vs. C-USAMiami BeachUConnCMUDec. 19MiamiAmerican vs. MACLas VegasBoise StateUtahDec. 17Las VegasMWC 1 vs. Pac-12 6CameliaNIUGeorgia SouthernDec. 17Montgomery, Ala.MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3CelebrationN.C. CentralGrambling StateDec. 17AtlantaMEAC vs. SWACCureCal*TroyDec. 17OrlandoAmerican vs. Sun BeltNew MexicoMarshallNew MexicoDec. 17AlbuquerqueC-USA vs. MWCNew OrleansArkansas StateLA TechDec. 17New OrleansSun
Posted by just BS at 3:58 PM
Thursday, June 2, 2016
10 Stats to know for the NBA Finals
The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers begin the NBA Finals on Thursday, and it's a completely different series than last year. We've looked at what the Warriors and Cavaliers have to do to win, and we've examined some role players to watch. Now, let's get numerical. Here are 10 stats to keep in mind as Game 1 approaches:
1. The Cavs' 3-point shooting has been insane. In the playoffs, they are taking 34.6 3-pointers per game and making 43.4 percent of them. Both of those marks lead the league. This long-distance shooting is absurd, and it is the reason they are scoring 116.2 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs.
2. In the regular season against the Warriors, Cleveland struggled from the 3-point line. The Cavs took 49 3s, and made 24.5 percent of them. Both of those marks were lower against Golden State than any other team.
3. This is the first time that the two top teams in 3-pointers made have met in the NBA Finals, per ESPN Stats and Info. The defending champs set an NBA record with 1,077 made 3s this season -- no team had ever finished with 1,000 before. The Cavaliers made 880 3-pointers.
4. Cleveland is the only team scoring more points on catch-and-shoot opportunities than the Warriors in the playoffs. The Cavs are averaging 34.4 points that way in each game, and making 45.8 percent of their catch-and-shoot jumpers, per NBA.com.
5. Golden State has contested 66.2 percent of its opponents' shots in the postseason, which is third-highest among playoff teams, per NBA.com. It will need to keep that up against Cleveland. The Cavs, meanwhile, have contested only 57.1 percent of their opponents' shots, which is worse than any playoff team other than the Memphis Grizzlies.
6. The pass-happy Warriors are averaging a league-high 25 assists per game and a league-high 7.9 secondary assists per game, per NBA.com. The crazy thing is that both of those marks are lower than their regular-season numbers.
7. Golden State's "death lineup" -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green -- destroyed teams all year long, scoring 142 points per 100 possessions and allowing 95 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. This is the starting lineup that swung last year's NBA Finals, but it did not play against Cleveland in the two regular-season two meetings.
8. The Cavs also have a deadly lineup -- Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, Richard Jefferson, LeBron James and Channing Frye -- but they only discovered it in the playoffs. That group has scored 133.2 points per 100 possessions and allowed 86.6 points per 100 possessions in the postseason, and Cleveland has made an outrageous 54.3 percent of its 3s with those five on the floor.
9. LeBron James has taken 251 shots in the playoffs, and 132 of them have come in the restricted area, where he has shot 72 percent. That's quite a ratio, but it makes sense because he has shot 42-for-119 (35 percent) outside of the restricted area.
10. The Warriors were second in the league in pace in the regular season, while the Cavs were 28th. In the playoffs, that has not changed -- Golden State has been the fastest team, and Cleveland has been slower than everybody but the Grizzlies and Detroit Pistons. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said they would try to push the pace, though. This is probably because they have scored 1.25 points per possession in transition in the postseason.
Posted by just BS at 9:21 AM
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Now or Never for LeBron and the Cavs
CLEVELAND – LeBron James, as he often is, was in control of the music in the Cleveland Cavaliers' locker room. This was after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals here last week, after Kevin Love returned to form, after a complete annihilation of Toronto made the NBA Finals feel like the inevitability it was. The Cavs open at Golden State on Thursday.
The symphonic tastes of professional athletes rarely extend past a month ago, but LeBron isn't your normal young, rich and famous star. For one, he's old school. Second, he's got a hokey, suburban dad angle to him – he's a self-professed fan of HGTV, the Food Network and the "Pitch Perfect" movies. He's also cool enough to cop to it without concern.
Winning a big game called for more than just the latest hits, and besides, what's current that's better than the O'Jays? So the 1972 classic "Back Stabbers" rang through the place, LeBron loudly singing along.
"They smile in your face," James crooned. "All the time they want to take your place. The back stabbers … back stabbers."
LeBron said it was just a great song and wasn't meant to symbolize anything. Moments later the O'Jay's "For the Love of Money" – which Donald Trump used as the opening of his reality show – came on.
LeBron James is headed to his sixth straight NBA Finals. (Getty Images)
LeBron sat there and sang that one too. He was entertaining himself, if no one else.
"I didn't appreciate last year personally on getting to The Finals," James said.
That's not an issue this year. The playoffs have been a blast for LeBron James, a 12-2 record, relatively little drama with a team that is well rested and fully operational – most notably with a healthy Love and Kyrie Irving.
The journey thus far has been enjoyable, but now comes the hard part, the pressurized part, the legacy stuff he signed up for when he returned to Cleveland.
These NBA Finals remain about whether James can deliver a desperate, title-starved city to the ultimate destination. Nothing else will suffice. It's all-or-nothing again, no matter how good the music sounds along the way.
James knows this, he's just trying to take the challenge with less internal pressure, in part because he isn't required to do as much. He's averaging just 36.4 minutes a game, down nearly five minutes from a year ago.
"Just so much was going on in my mind [last year], knowing that Kev was out for the rest of the season and knowing that Ky was dealing with injuries all the way from the first round," LeBron said. " … Having these guys right here at full strength, having our team at full strength, and the way I feel personally, I appreciate this moment, to be able to be a part of it and to be there once again."
This is LeBron's sixth consecutive NBA Finals appearance, 2011-14 in Miami, 2015-16 in Cleveland. The only other players to do that came from the Boston Celtics' dynasty of the late 1960s and 1970s.
He's a June regular. So saying this might be his last chance, or that a frantic feeling should settle in, is ridiculous. That said, this is his 13th season and while he's only 31, there are miles on the tread. You can tack 192 playoff games and counting to his 987 regular-season ones. He already ranks 42nd all-time in regular-season minutes played and sixth in playoff minutes. Plus, there has been plenty of work for USA Basketball, including three Olympics.
While it's certainly not now-or-never for LeBron to win one for Cleveland, now sure would be a good time to get it done. You get only so many cracks at this, and championship windows – for players and teams – tend to shut faster than anticipated. You never want chances to slip by.
As good as Golden State is, the opportunity is right there.
For LeBron, the sense of drama is amplified by his return to Cleveland, just 35 miles north of his hometown of Akron and where he played the first seven seasons of his career, reaching the 2007 Finals but then bailing to Miami in heartbreaking fashion in the summer of 2010.
LeBron James and the Cavs should have a healthy roster for the Finals this year. (AP)
His time with the Heat proved fruitful with two championships, but in addition to satisfaction and excitement, one of the emotions James said he felt when he finally won his first title in 2012 was relief. This isn't uncommon for the truly great athlete, for whom a championship isn't just a dream, but an expectation that can become a burden when a career drags along without one.
Getting that off your back can be exhilarating, freeing, even life changing.
Only James decided to put the burden back on his back; at least sort of. In returning to Cleveland, which hasn't won a championship in any major professional sport since the 1964 (pre-Super Bowl) Browns, he reset the clock in a way that wouldn't have existed had he stayed in Miami. It also felt like he was coming back to make things right in the town he left behind. Anything less will be unsatisfying.
"I don't really get caught up in all of that," James said of Cleveland's doldrums, which is the smart answer. "We're going to prepare ourselves. Our coaching staff will prepare us, and we're going to go out and give it our all, and we're going to live with the results."
"I know our city deserves it," he continued. "Our fans deserve it. But that gives us no sense of entitlement. We've still got to go out and do it."
A year ago he nearly solo-teamed it to the championship, pushing Golden State to six games while averaging, out of necessity, 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists in the Finals. During this year's playoffs he's gladly avoided taking over games, using the team's diversity of attack. He's down in nearly every stat, most telling: 9.3 fewer shots per game.
Love and Irving have "been the reason why we've played at such a high level," James said. "They've accepted the challenge. They wanted to get back to this moment."
The moment is here. It's an old, familiar Finals opponent, an old, familiar stage and old, familiar challenge for LeBron James, who's sitting at his locker, singing along to old, familiar songs
Posted by just BS at 9:25 PM
Monday, May 16, 2016
Hue Jackson has not even coached a single game for the Cleveland Browns, yet his impact is already highly noticeable.
When the Cleveland Browns take the field in 2016 they will likely struggle, but that will not be a completely accurate reflection of the coach Hue Jackson has done. Jackson has not coached a single game for the Cleveland Browns, yet his impact is already highly noticeable. The days of simply preaching about change appears to finally be coming to an end, and the days of actual change taking place are here.
Fans of the Browns have been filled with empty promise after empty promise as each new regime has rolled in. With the possible exception of the Mangini era, no regime has been able to show any progress that backed up the lofty promises they made to the Cleveland faithful. Everyone looking at the Browns kept echoing the same response, you have to give your coaches time, change does not happen over night. Changes in the win loss column may take time, but changes in the mentality and attitude of a team seems to take place a lot quicker with Hue Jackson at the helm.
When Cleveland hired Coach Jackson it was met with an overwhelmingly positive response around the league. Coach Jackson is a highly respected coach in the NFL and for the first time in a long time the Browns were able to get their guy on the first try. The amount of respect other coaches in the NFL have for Coach Jackson is evident by the staff he was able to surround himself with. The Browns coaching staff could easily be considered one of the deepest in the league today. It may not been the Cleveland Browns coaching tree from the mid nineties when Bill Belicheck was running the show, but the amount of experience that is now in Cleveland will be evident starting this season. The silly mental mistakes and being simply outcoached appear as if they will be a thing of distant memory soon.
A few weeks ago, the ESPN 30 for 30 Film “ Believeland” debuted at the annual Cleveland International Film Festival. Of course, this documentary would not have been complete without Marty Schottenheimer and the 1980s Cleveland Browns.
Schottenheimer served as a coach in Cleveland from 1980 to 1988. He started as a defensive coordinator under Sam Rutigliano until taking over as head coach in the middle of the 1984 season. Schottenheimer finished with a 44-27 record (.620 winning percentage) as head coach of the Browns.
He also served as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers. Overall, his career record in 21 years as an NFL head coach was 200-126-1 (.613); the tie came with the Chiefs against the Browns in 1989.
Browns fun facts: Coach Marty
1) Schottenheimer was drafted in both the NFL and AFL Drafts.
As a linebacker from the University of Pittsburgh, Schottenheimer was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the fourth round (49th overall) of the 1965 NFL Draft. On the same day (November 28, 1964), he was also drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round (56th overall) of the 1965 AFL Draft. He opted to play in the AFL.
He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie with the Bills. After spending four years in Buffalo, Schottenheimer played two years with the Boston Patriots (now known as the New England Patriots). In 79 games, he recorded six interceptions—including one for a touchdown—and one fumble recovery.
Hall of fame players who were drafted ahead of Schottenheimer in both drafts were Joe Namath, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus and Fred Biletnikoff.
2) Schottenheimer was the only Browns coach other than Paul Brown to lead the team to four consecutive playoff appearances.
In the 1985 playoffs, the Browns lost a 21-3 lead and gave up 21 unanswered points to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins.
In the 1986 and 1987 AFC Championship Games, John Elway and the Denver Broncos haunted the Browns with “The Drive” and “The Fumble”.
In the 1988 playoffs, Warren Moon and the Houston Oilers got the best of the Browns in a back-and-forth game. Mike Pagel started at quarterback in Schottenheimer’s last game as coach of the Browns as Bernie Kosar, Gary Danielson, Pagel and Don Strock all dealt with injuries throughout the season.
3) 12 future first-time NFL head coaches worked under Schottenheimer as an assistant coach.
The list includes: Lindy Infante, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Gunther Cunningham, Herm Edwards, Mike McCarthy, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Hue Jackson, Bruce Arians, Marc Trestman and Rob Chudzinski.
Cowher, Dungy and McCarthy ended up winning Super Bowl championships as head coaches.
Wade Phillips ended up becoming a head coach for a third time (fifth time if including two stints as an interim head coach) after coaching under Schottenheimer with the Chargers.
Jackson has taken over the Browns in his second stint as a head coach, just three years after Chudzinski’s rookie head coaching campaign in Cleveland in 2013.
Who knows—there could be more assistant coaches from the Schottenheimer coaching tree who end up becoming NFL head coaches.
4) Notable quarterbacks who started under Schottenheimer included: Bernie Kosar, Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg, Joe Montana, Rich Gannon, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.
Ron Jaworski and Doug Flutie also had short stints as backup quarterbacks/spot starters for Schottenheimer.
5) Six running backs who played under Schottenheimer ran for a total of 11 1,000-yard rushing seasons: Kevin Mack, Earnest Byner, Christian Okoye (twice), Barry Word, Stephen Davis and LaDainian Tomlinson (five times).
In 2006—Schottenheimer’s last season in the NFL—Tomlinson set a single-season record with 28 rushing touchdowns. Upon retiring after the 2011 season, Tomlinson declared that he wants Schottenheimer to present him at the ceremony when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Other notable running backs who played under Schottenheimer included: Kimble Anders, Marcus Allen, Lorenzo Neal, Michael Turner and Darren Sproles.
6) Although the “Martyball” philosophy on offense was heavily criticized, Schottenheimer had six top five finishes in points scored per game and four other top ten finishes.
With Lindy Infante as Schottenheimer’s offensive coordinator in 1986 and 1987, the Browns actually averaged more points per game (24.4 and 26.0) than the 1980 Kardiac Kids under Sam Rutigliano and 1980 NFL MVP Brian Sipe (22.3).
7) In his 26 years as a defensive coordinator or head coach, Schottenheimer’s defenses ranked in the top ten 11 times and in the top half of the league 20 times.
He had two number one defenses: 1995 Chiefs (15.1 points allowed per game) and 1997 Chiefs (14.5).
His best Browns defense ranked second in the NFL in 1987 by allowing 15.9 points per game.
8) Schottenheimer won a championship as the head coach and general manager of the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL in 2011.
He was also named UFL Coach of the Year of the four-team league. His starting running back was Dominic Rhodes, who played under Tony Dungy with the Colts in Super Bowl XLI.
Sadly, Schottenheimer left the team before the 2012 season, suing UFL founder Bill Hambrecht for failing to pay him his 2011 salary. Similar lawsuits by other players and coaches reflected the insurmountable financial problems across the league. The UFL folded in 2013.
Posted by just BS at 8:42 AM
Thursday, May 5, 2016
For a worrisome amount of time, Uncharted 4 feels like little more than a familiar, obligatory sequel, existing the way Mario Karts and Halos do to continue bolstering one faction in the ongoing console wars. Excellent, fresh ideas for these kinds of automatic sequels are not a prerequisite.
Thankfully, after nine chapters, Uncharted 4 dramatically improves and hits a great stride for much longer. By the end, it justifies the creation of a sequel in this nearly decade-old series beyond the need to check off the box betweenRatchet & Clank and Wipeout on the PlayStation platform franchise list.
The early levels on Uncharted 4 have what we’d expect. We play as Nathan Drake in a third-person, world-spanning quest to find treasure. We explore ruins and fight thugs. We climb walls, shoot guns, and take cover from streams of enemies. We solve some puzzles and banter with a buddy character who sometimes helps us boost up to higher ledges. We do this in beautiful locations. The levels are linear, the action dramatic.
The opening hours are mostly familiar, though the series looks a lot better than it ever did before. Plus, there are now a few rare moments when you can choose Drake’s lines.
High-quality game series generate high expectations. Simply serving a prettier dish of comfort food would have been a waste of a studio that most recently made 2013's emotionally wrenching survival adventure The Last of Us. Naughty Dog could have moved on and arguably should have, having been so successful with something new the last time out. But they’re back, Drake is back, and we’re back, for what they swear is their last treasure-hunting score.
Uncharted 4's slow start is initially worrying, a sign that the franchise’s well may have dried. An opening speedboat chase is a weak intro in the wake ofUncharted 2's climb through a dangling train car or even Uncharted 3's bar brawl. A couple of levels later, we’re in familiar shootouts in new, gorgeous locales. The enemies absorb fewer shots, it seems, so that’s been improved, but the first quarter of the game largely feels routine and safe, like a top actor coasting through a role they’ve done so many times before. In previous games, Naughty Dog had already pushed things in the first act. They did the love triangles and major fake-out deaths. They had us climb in every climate and discover multiple lost cities.
Enter Sam Drake, long lost elder brother to Nathan. Since the events ofUncharted 3, the younger Drake retired from the life of illegal treasure hunting. He settled into a routine of menial salvage work and dinners with his longtime romantic partner Elena, who seems glad to be finally living like a normal person. Sam shows up, a new character who left Nathan’s life before the series began. He explains that his life is in danger from an angry drug lord and that he’ll survive only if Nathan helps him find some great pirate treasure. Nathan is drawn back in, and Sam becomes the newest buddy to accompany Nathan through levels of climbing, shooting and treasure hunting.
Sam is not the injection of new blood the series needed. He’s bland and more of a plot device for others to react to than a compelling character on his own. His return into Nathan’s life is well expressed in cutscenes, but as a companion in many of the game’s levels, Sam mostly mutters forgettable lines from the background. The best new things about the game, it turns out, come not from a new character (the new villains aren’t so hot either) but from new gameplay.
The top designers in gaming all perform a specific, great magic trick. As you start their games, they sneakily teach you new things and seed their long-form stories until you’re past what was really just a prologue. Only then can you handle the real game. In this case, Uncharted 4's designers hang back for nine chapters, past several major multi-level set-pieces, teasing tiny bits of new or improved gameplay. They’re training you to be ready when the game finally opens up, which it does when Nathan Drake and friends get to Madagascar and begin driving around in a fully controllable jeep.
By the game’s 10th chapter, officially called The Twelve Towers and the start of the Madagascar section, you’ve been sufficiently prepped. In earlier levels, Drake got a rope that the player could sporadically use to swing across gaps. The game also introduced the concept of hiding in tall grass and springing forth to stealthily disable enemy guards, though enemies were seldom so abundant that this was more efficient than starting a gun fight.
As the levels expand, you’re getting into big, roomy outdoor fights in areas filled with beams from which you can grapple. You can spot a distant enemy, swing to them and tackle them (or shoot them while in mid-swing). You’re getting into fights set on both sides of a chasm. You can swing back and forth as the bullets fly.
At other times, you’re in a jungle thick with enemies and tall grass. Your most viable bet is to creep and climb and jump guards from the weeds. Even the game’s roomier levels are still largely linear, but they are wider. They have more paths, more ways to flank bad guys, more ways to attack them from below, behind or above. This alleviates some of the tedium that made the previous games’ shootouts melt into monotony. You’ll still fight a lot of enemies, but you can mix up your methods for taking the bad guys out. And as scripted as these games tend to be, the tweaks to combat in Uncharted 4 allow you to be more expressive, to feel like you’re playing in your own style.
The climbing becomes more complex, too, another area where the series has greatly improved. There are now more red-herring edges that lead you to dead ends. You gain a new climbing tool, a piton, that lets you stab any part of porous wall that is within arm’s reach and then pull yourself to it and up or over to another developer-placed ledge. As with combat, the player is being given more agency, more of a stake in how things will play. In small but appreciable ways, the game feels less scripted.
The added control doesn’t undermine one of Uncharted’s most beloved features. The game still feels like a thrill ride when it funnels into linear, more scripted sequences involving collapsing buildings, vehicle chases, and more. The ones in Uncharted 4 are the caliber of the best levels of any Uncharted. Take, for example, the chase with the crane, which is even more exciting to play than it was to see when Sony demoed it last year.
Deeper and deeper into the game, the subtle design improvements steadily accumulate. These feel like the right advances for a series that always explored new gameplay on the back of improved technology and an attempt to recreate mundane real-world matters rarely seen in games. The earlier Uncharteds, for example, used better in-game physics and scene-staging tricks to present playable fights on top of unsteady trains or inside wave-tossed boats. That ethos is apparent throughout this game, with every death-defying swing of Drake’s rope, every well-staged set piece and every tweak to the climbing and combat.
Sony’s public demos of the game have shown some of Uncharted 4's excellent middle. Gawking at the game, as stunningly beautiful as it is, is no replacement for playing it. The game feels terrific, especially during its scenes of breathless spectacle. Its visuals, though, have undeniable allure. Artistically unconventional games such as Journey and Wind Waker HD may have their partisans who say one of them is the medium’s best-looking game, but in the category of photorealistic graphics, Uncharted 4 is now the champ.
The game’s impressively deep photo mode, which can be accessed at any time, will doubtless result in some of the best real gaming screenshots ever seen. It became one of my favorite diversions as I played.
Even more impressive are the faces of Uncharted 4's characters, especially the scene-stealing expressions of series regular Elena Fisher, who has her own struggles with supposed retirement bliss. Their marriage is compellingly imperfect. Elena’s smirks, sighs, incredulous stares, playful grins, and bitten lower lip support that and improve a script that superbly presents the undulations of a restless union.
Games mark technical progress at a weird pace. The phenomenal facial expressions in Uncharted 4 are a landmark achievement. So are the game’s winch and rope technology, which produce the (no snark) incredible ability for us, as Nathan Drake, to manually wind a cord around a metal bar or tree trunk by moving him around said bar or trunk. This is an action as simple as wrapping a thread around a pencil, and yet it has rarely, if ever, been presented in a major game before, presumably because the physics of it are so complex.
See how the cord wraps around? That happened manually by swimming around the axle. Here’s a video of another sequence involving the same physics:
All of the game’s technical improvements do not blot out some faults. The more conventionally-designed stealth system, for example, might be an improvement in combat vocabulary for this series, but feels under-developed. It begs for Drake to be able to attract or distract guards with a whistle, a tap or a tossed rock. Such options are standard in the better Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Metal Gear games (as well as Naughty Dog’s very own The Last of Us) and are key for guiding patrolling guards into a stealth death. It makes no gameplay sense for Drake to have to squat silently in the grass hoping a guard will come near him. That our expert survivalist never makes a noise to trick an enemy breaks the illusion of reality the graphics are engineered to create.
What should happen in a fourth major installment, especially in an entertainment culture that fetishizes trilogies? By his fourth major appearance, Han Solo was killed off. Die Hard’s John McClane was a parody of himself by movie number three and still continued to a fourth. Wry, beleaguered Nathan Drake is more or less an amalgamation of those two action heroes and seemed largely tapped of potential going into this game. His marriage difficulties in this game make him more interesting, more so than a lost brother does, though the game’s creators find some good friction in colliding those plot developments.
Nathan Drake is mostly in his sunset as he chases this final treasure. We’ve all been here before, and the story is regularly reminding us that it’s time to move on. It’s even in the title. Perhaps it fits and even works as meta-commentary, then, that Uncharted 4 stumbles near the end. Final gameplay sequences feel rushed or at least less cleverly laid out than the hours of action that preceded them. Characters make odd exits, some perhaps being saved for an expansion or some non-Naughty Dog sequel or spin-off. The game’s very last playable sequence and cutscene help clarify what Uncharted 4's real themes were and will provoke some lively discussion. Some of the dissatisfaction the game’s oddly-paced final quarter presents may be a product of deadlines. Some is hopefully intentional. No spoilers about what becomes of Nathan and Sam’s quest, but us real-life treasure hunters don’t always get everything we want.
Thankfully, Uncharted games are more than their beginnings or endings or multiplayer options, the last of which will provide its own odd coda to Naughty Dog’s saga. Like a full-cast dance number at the end of a Bollywood movie,Uncharted 4's competitive multiplayer is an affair for every major (and many minor) member of the series’ cast. Nathan, Sam, Elena, Sully, Chloe, and many more will adventure on in competitive modes designed to be expanded for a year for free (read: please keep playing and don’t trade in the game!). The multiplayer is stuffed with optional, unlockable cosmetic items that the developers say can all be won in-game if you don’t feel like purchasing them with real money. The game’s PvP modes have been largely unavailable to play prior to the game’s release, so an assessment of its quality will have to wait.
The original Uncharted emerged in late 2007 as an alternate, Sony-exclusiveTomb Raider that starred a man and as a thematic maturation from the studio that brought us Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. It was born at a time when it was aspirational for games to feel like interactive movies. It was designed initially as a solo experience and an homage to pulp adventures. It arrives now as something of an anachronism, in a gaming scene filled with more punishing, unscripted sandbox survival adventures and amid a rising tide of games designed to borrow storytelling styles not from movies but from TV.
What Uncharted proved most effectively to be for nearly a decade was a showcase for an ambitious game studio that was determined to push the possibilities of graphics, virtual acting and thrill-ride gameplay. The series reliably delivered that three times on the PlayStation 3 under former creative director Amy Hennig and does so again with studio veterans Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, who helmed this newest one on PS4. Uncharted 4 may have problems at its edges, but its middle is phenomenal. It is a sufficiently wonderful finale for a studio that has made its own case that its next great step should be somewhere new.
Posted by just BS at 9:00 AM