I Love My… Devils

Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com

This is a bit of a departure for me. Not because I’m not used to writing about ASU. I’m just not used to not writing for ASU. Rubs hands together here goes nothing!

Alright, if any of you saw last night, the Arizona State Sun Devils got straight up embarrassed in their most hyped up home game of the season against the 3rd ranked Oregon Ducks. Neither team had been especially tested up until that point and the number one offense in the Pac-12 was going up against the number one defense in the Pac-12. Yes, that was actually true, ASU had the best defense in the conference, get over it. It was sure to be a good show.

That is, until the second snap of the game. Devils defensive leader Will Sutton forced a fumble from Oregon QB Marcus Mariota but subsequently went down with a knee injury and would not return the rest of the game. An MRI is scheduled for today. The ensuing ball game was more like walking through a haunted house for ASU. You didn’t actually want to continue, but you didn’t want your buddies thinking you were a pansy so you did. The final score was a deceiving 43-21. It wasn’t that close.

Alas, I’m actually not even pissed we lost to the Ducks. First off- I don’t care who you are, their uniforms are sick. You can’t hate them. I do hate that duck though. Put some damn pants on there are children present! I did like Chip Kelly a lot, until after the first Oregon touchdown of the game (a 72-yard run by, surprise, Kenyon Barner) Kelly decided to go for a two point conversion to get the lead. That was straight disrespectful Chips and Dip. Seriously. How rude! (In my best Michelle Tanner voice). But like I said, I’m not pissed.

Here’s the good news. This isn’t the end of the road for ASU. They could potentially meet the Ducks again for the Pac-12 championship if they get it back together. The Pac-12 South is ripe for the taking. ASU has UCLA at home next for homecoming. Confidence booster perhaps? If they can beat either USC or Oregon State their chances look really good. And maybe, just MAYBE they would be a little more prepared for Oregon the second time around.

Even if THAT doesn’t happen guess what? I’m still not suicidal. Listen, if anyone in the Pac-12 has a shot at getting to the National Championship this year it’s the Oregon Ducks. Had ASU won last night’s game that would have gone out the window. If Bama had a fluke loss would that be the case? Roll No. Of course not. The BCS loves the SEC way too much. But with Oregon manhandling their first road challenge, they now have a shot at proving to the BCS and the nation that the Pac-12 is not to be f*&%ed with after all. They are the only team in the country who I could see going toe to toe with Bama. And by God, I think they’d win it.

So all in all, I still love my Devils. I always will. But I’ve found the silver lining in these scenarios. That is, a carbon fiber silver lining that subtly reflects metallic green when the gridiron lights shine on it.

Tale of the Quarterback: Eyes on NFL Training Camp

My nose is acute with the smell of fresh practice field grass, my lips are already fixed for criticism on a cover two versus a man to man, my fingers are (wo)manned on my mouse ready for my impending fantasy draft in a few short weeks. Yes, ladies and gentleman, training camp is upon us, which only means one thing: FOOTBALL IS BACK- CAN I GET AN AARON RODGERS BELT THRUST!? And before you say anything, yes, I’m a die hard Bears fan but you just can’t hate him. Trust me I’ve tried.

This past week NFL players have been reporting to the confines of their cozy college dorms where they will study playbooks and play obscene amounts of NCAA and Madden 12 like the grown up frat boys they are. Throw in some two a days and we have got ourselves some content my friends. I would like to take a look at just which teams will have the most eyes on them this preseason. And so it begins…

Once Upon a Time, there was a quarterback of an NFL football team. His name was (insert really important football sounding name here) and he played for (insert team here), this is their story…

The Denver Broncos: If Peyton Manning doesn’t scream football player name, I don’t know what does. He was literally born to play this role: see related Mannings i.e. Eli and/or Archie. Following (a couple) hush hush neck surgeries and Manning sitting out the entire 2011 season, not only is he back, but he is back with none other than John Elway’s Denver Broncos, despite his already published legacy with the Indianapolis Colts. This Broncos team easily has the biggest target on their back as far as the media sh*tstorm goes. I have to say I have a good feeling about this, and not just because I’m listening to Avicii. The way I see it, Peyton wouldn’t even attempt to come back unless he had complete and total faith that he would return to Peyton Manning form. If Peyton Manning has faith in himself, who the hell are we to say or think otherwise? If Peyton says it, it must be so. End of story. I can’t wait for this next chapter in his career, and have to give a special shout-out to three guys from a certain southwest school I also attended who will be along for the ride. Brock- you learn everything you possibly can from that man, I know I don’t have to tell you twice. O, words can’t describe how excited I am to see you back on that field- and with the Champ! G-Rob, do your thing- and don’t you dare drop a Peyton pass! SD4L 🙂

The New York Jets: Ahh, The Timmy Tebow Saga continues. I can’t wait to see what Rex Ryan version .50 has up his sleeve. Wildcat? Convert Tebow to fullback entirely? Make him the starter entirely? I have to say when they picked Tebow up I totally thought that was it for Sanchez. He’s got the SC quarterback curse, all hope has got to be lost. But maybe Mr. Hard Knocks hasn’t given up just yet. And side note: seriously, can they make Hard Knocks permanently on the Jets? That was by far the most entertaining season. I’m not wrong.

The Washington Redskins and/or The Indianapolis Colts: Picking up the first two picks in the draft, both quarterbacks, mind you, you can bet these teams are on the radar. RGIII was pronounced starter out of the gate. With a definitive ‘guy’ you have to think Shanahan will show at least glimpses of those glorious Denver days. With the Peyton Manning departure, and Andrew Luck of the draw in place, look for the Colts to show up like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. They may not be effective right away, but with the ever accelerated learning curve of Mr. Stanford grad, you gotta think they will get it right by midseason, maybe in time to catch the playoffs? Wildcard at least?

And last but certainly not least, for my own personal benefit, The Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler is healthy. They have signed their workhorse Matt Forte to a sufficient deal. They have gelled their offensive line quite a bit as well as made a key offensive pickup in Brandon Marshall, a familiar target to add to their Cutler-y (ya see what I did there?). The defense, yes, is becoming increasingly more ‘veteran’ but with a more high powered offense hopefully we can preserve those guys a few more years by not having them take the field every 37 seconds.

All I can say is thank God we have the Olympics to hold us over til the real fun begins. Happy training season everyone!

Westbroke

I would like to start by first reiterating something very important. This is an opinion blog with sprinkles of analysis thrown in. These are my thoughts and my thoughts only. I am not affiliated with any teams currently and am therefore taking advantage of my hiatus by freely stating my own, absolutely biased opinions. I am not trying to be objective. I am not trying to be politically correct. I am just expressing my views. Everybody on board? Good. Great. FANTASTIC.

Moving on. Ahh Game 4. I had such high hopes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 3 was ugly. I’ll admit it, they didn’t play with as much heart as the Miami Heat. Kevin Durant was useless in the fourth and James Harden committed the fatal foul to solidify the Heat victory. Ok fine, first game in Miami is a tough one, they’ll learn… right?

Wrong.

I found myself screaming at the end of Game 4- WHY WESTBROOK WHY?! similar to my WHY HARDEN WHY?! the previous game. Russell Westbrook puts up 43 points- nearly half of the team total- and then down three, FOULS as the Heat inbound the ball with 20 odd seconds left thinking the shot clock had reset. Newsflash Westbrook, it hadn’t. Stupid, stupid, STUPID.

Not to mention, James Harden seemed to lose his confidence come the fourth quarter. Never have I seen him lose confidence ever. I was there for his ASU career, working in the media relations department. I have seen some great comebacks with him as our leader. The guy is clutch. He’s been a solid 6th man the entire season for the Thunder, including the postseason. Why now? Like Jalen Rose suggested James, cut the beard- maybe that will provide enough of a distraction for you guys to catch up. Maybe.

With the knowledge that Durant was rendered ineffective in Game 3, where were the adjustments to get him open in the fourth quarter, Brooks? You can’t have Russell Westbrook be the one putting up 43 points. Those are KD’s shots to take.

The series’ leading up to this OKC had managed to banish the criticisms of being too young and too inexperienced. They had shut all the critics up. Was it too good to be true? They make it to the Finals, demolishing teams that had taken the title 11 of the past 13 years only to look like an AAU team against the Heat. What. Happened.

Is it perhaps that the Big Three have learned to close? Is this really their year? And if it is? If LeBron finally gets a ring? What does that change?

In my mind, nothing. Sure the jokes of LeBron having no rings will die, but in reality he will only have one ring. He still won’t be up in the category with the likes of Kobe and Jordan. It will be one measly ring. Not six, not seven, not eight. One.

Will this series go back to OKC? The odds are probably against it. And in all honesty, it would likely only prolong the inevitable agony, giving Thunder fans hope they can pull through. If there was ever a time for an NBA ‘miracle’, it would be now. Too bad it’s not Herb Brooks coaching the Thunder.

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Thunder Rolls Right into NBA Finals

Let’s pause for a second to recall the fact that the Western Conference playoffs started out as a contest to see who could eventually ‘beat the Heat’ come Finals time… my, my how things change.

The Miami Heat are facing yet another elimination tomorrow night by the ever-present Boston Celtics while the Oklahoma City Thunder have rolled over the San Antonio Spurs to claim the Western Conference spot. OKC came back from being down 2-0 to the Spurs and most analysts counting them out to win four straight games and advance. So you can take those ‘inexperience’ and ‘too young’ excuses and shove them up your… well you know.

At this rate, even if the Thunder don’t win it all, which I suspect they will, there’s no way there isn’t a dynasty budding. They are so young, so cohesive and so marketable thanks to the ferret on James Harden’s face (see @HardenBeard on Twitter) they have all the tools to be considered with the likes of the Lakers in the Western Conference. Easily.

Led by a man like Kevin Durant who I believe deserved league MVP over Lebron any day, they have some real staying power, provided management is willing to spend. Congrats to the Western Conference Champs.

courtesy of Getty Images