Friday, December 31, 2021
Thursday, December 30, 2021
Cavaliers lose to New Orleans and lose Rubio
By the end of the game, the sparse Louisiana crowd had seen the Pelicans rally past the Cavaliers for a surprising 108-104 triumph but Cleveland had lost more than a single game as point guard Ricky Rubio was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Cleveland was led by Rubio, who was injured in the fourth quarter, who just missed a triple-double in his final game with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists, Kevin Love with 24 points off the bench, and Evan Mobley's 22 points in his first game back from Covid protocol,
Cleveland travels to Washington tonight to tackle the Wizards.
1) The Cavaliers are the talk of the league with their early play (20-14) but with the backcourt losses of Collin Sexton and now Rubio to season-ending knee injuries, can the Cavaliers sustain this level of play for the rest of the season?
2) Cleveland has back-to-back games against Washington and Atlanta and with Darius Garland in Covid protocol along with Rubio's injury, the Cavaliers are down to Kevin Pangos as a pure point guard.
3) While Pangos alone wouldn't provide a lot of confidence, the Cavaliers aren't likely to receive help other than someone from the G League as a depth player unless they are willing to trade for a veteran and can they afford to do that as far a price goes?
4) The Cavaliers hit nine three-pointers in the first period.
They would hit five over the remaining three quarters.
5) Jarrett Allen missed the game due to Covid protocols and with Darius Garland out, the Cavaliers are shorthanded, but the interesting part will be the play upon their return.
After the return of Allen and Garland, all of the Cavaliers mainstays will have spent their time on the Covid list, except maybe Isaac Okoro (and I'm not sure on him) and we will see how the core players play as they try to sustain a strong start without Sexton and Rubio.
6) New Orleans may be struggling (13-22) but it still was enough to make me wonder about the viability of long-term NBA basketball in New Orleans.
Yes, Zion Williamson is injured (as he often seems to be) but the attendance was announced as 15,835 and I would be amazed if there were half of that total actually in the arena.
The Smoothie King Center looked like it was one-third full at most.
7) I watched the game on the Pelicans feed and their play-by-play man, Joel Meyers, missed the game due to Covid, which left the commentary without a pure play-by-play person.
Bally Sports New Orleans used court reporter Jen Hale, the Pelicans court reporter who also works for Fox on their NFL broadcasts, as the loose PBP person but Hale didn't really call the game as to offer observations and set up commentators David Wesley and Antonio Daniels for their thoughts during the game.
It didn't feel like a conventional commentary but more along the lines of two former players shooting the breeze as the game was played with Hale making the easy passes in the transition as a good point guard would.
I rather enjoyed the evening with the Pelicans, other than losing the game that is!
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Browns downed by Packers, playoff hopes alive.
1) Chase McLaughlin had been struggling in the kicking game over the last month but his placement on the illness list resulted in a huge loss for the Browns.
It would have been interesting to see how McLaughlin handled Lambeau in light of his problems of the late but at least McLaughlin had some experience in actual games.
2) That left the Browns with untested rookie Chris Naggar from the practice squad to replace McLaughlin.
With the differences in the practice squad requirements in the Covid era, I have thought having a veteran available in the event of a kicking need (especially at kicker) would have made a lot of sense.
Instead, the Browns decided to go with an inexperienced kicker and it bit them with Naggar badly missing the extra point after the Browns first touchdown.
That led to the Browns trying the two-point conversion after their second touchdown, which they failed to convert.
Two points are given away in a game lost by two points. Hmm...
3) Naggar did bounce back in hitting his other extra point and his only field goal attempt from thirty-seven yards away but Naggar's presence was still felt at the end of the game.
On the Browns final drive and needing just a field goal to win, Kevin Stefanski stated that he was playing for a touchdown, not a field goal, and I'd have to think that having Nagger deciding the game rather than McLaughlin was on the mind of Stefanski and how he called the game/
4) In between the Browns loss to the Raiders and their loss in Green Bay, the Browns decided to waive the "Scottish Hammer" Jamie Gillan upon his return from Covid protocol and keep his supposed to be temporary replacement Dustin Colquitt as the regular punter.
Gillan had struggled this season but was quickly signed to Buffalo's practice squad and the unusual thing was that Gillan had won the punting job over Britton Colquitt and lost it to Dustin- Britton's brother.
5) What I don't understand about this offense?
Yes, the Browns were behind most of the game but never by enough that they had to throw the ball on every down and the running game was unstoppable by the Packer defense.
Nick Chubb finished with 126 yards and a touchdown on seventeen carries and D'Ernest Johnson added fifty-eight more on only seven carries.
SO between Chubb and Johnson, the Browns AVERAGED 7.67 yards per carry and yet you throw the ball thirty-six times with Baker Mayfield?
And considering the lack of big-time targets at wide receiver?
6) Speaking of D'Ernest Johnson, the Browns are going to have a tough decision to make with him.
Johnson has 398 yards on the season on seventy carries which comes out to a 5.7 yards per carry average.
Johnson has made it clear that he is an NFL quality running back but he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year and will be in line for a large raise from his current 850,000 yearly salary.
Can the Browns match an offer to Johnson from a team that may pay him as a number one running back when Cleveland will still have Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ahead of him?
That will be a very interesting situation to watch over the off-season.
7) Myles Garrett didn't make an impact on the scoresheet as he notched a single tackle and one hit on Aaron Rodgers but consider the man played on one leg in the game.
Garrett's groin injury suffered against Las Vegas would have likely sidelined him for the Green Bay games and possibly the Pittsburgh games this week as well had it occurred earlier in the season and not in the playoff rush, so give Garrett tons of credit for sucking it up and playing through a tremendous amount of pain.
8) M.J. Stewart played much of the game at safety and it was your good news/bad news scenario.
The good news was that Stewart finished with ten tackles.
The bad news is Aaron Rodgers threw to his man eleven times and completed ten of them.
9) The Browns coverages weren't prepared for Davante Adams, who caught ten of the thirteen passes thrown his way for 114 yards and two scores.
On both scores, Adams used favorable coverage matchups to easily break away from overmatched Browns defensive backs, rookie safety Richard LeCounte received no help on the first Adams score, and M.J. Stewart was just plain beaten on the second.
10) Pass rush stats.
Baker Mayfield was sacked five times while Aaron Rodgers wasn't sacked at all.
Tough to be overly critical with Myles Garrett playing on one leg and Jadeveon Clowney out for the game due to Covid protocol.
11) Even still the Browns can control their own destiny if the Bengals lose to the Chiefs and the Ravens lose to the Rams, both very possible.
Should that happen and then the Browns win in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Sunday finale against the Bengals in Cleveland would be winner take all for the division title and the playoffs as the losing seems unlikely to make the postseason.
Sunday, December 26, 2021
Browns lose to Packers-All Baker Mayfield Edition
Mayfield threw two touchdown passes and Nick Chubb finished with 126 rushing yards with 58 receiving yards and a rushing touchdown to lead the Browns.
Cleveland slips to 7-8 with the loss and will attempt to keep their sinking playoff hopes afloat next Monday night in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.
1) Baler Mayfield was terrible.
None of his four interceptions were tipped passes and the first and third were just awful throws.
I know the Baker excuse posse is in full excuse mode but there is not a realistic way to excuse such a terrible outing.
2) I know Baker missed time on the practice field due to his Covid status but he didn't have any less time to prepare than Nick Mullens did against the Raiders.
3) A quick look at the four interceptions- the first and third led to Green Bay touchdowns on short field drives, the second was in the red zone that cost the Browns points in a two-point loss, and the final one ended the game. The prosecution rests.
4) I know that Jarvis Landry slipped on the third interception but watch the replay.
Landru slips but Rasul Douglas is sitting on that pass and even if Landry doesn't slip, Douglas is in position for an easy interception.
5) And while I do think that the officials missed the grab of Donovan Peoples-Jones before the second interception by Rasul Douglas that ended the final drive, look at where the ball was thrown.
I'm not sure that Peoples-Jones catches that ball even if he isn't held and best the Browns have a fourth and ten at the fifty-yard line.
6) And why was that drive in a third and ten situation?
Because Mayfield threw a ball to an open David Njoku, who would have gained at least ten to fifteen yards, that had it been thrown by a baseball pitcher would have been described as low and outside.
This is two plays following missing Njoku on a second and six with another terrible toss.
7) It's pretty clear that Kevin Stefanski doesn't trust Mayfield but at the same time, he puts the game in his hands at crunch time.
The Browns had all three timeouts before the final drive started and they finished the final drive with three timeouts after the Mayfield interception, so they could have run the ball more with Nick Chubb, who Green Bay couldn't stop all day.
Instead, the offense was filtered through Mayfield for the final few plays and the reasoning from Stefanski was that they were playing for a touchdown rather than a field goal since the Browns were using a first-time kicker in the league in Chris Naggar.
Naggar had missed an extra point earlier, so I understand the thinking to a degree but your quarterback is still Baker Mayfield.
8) The Browns were mentioned in a recent piece by Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer as being a team considering dealing for Deshaun Watson in the offseason.
While Watson carries risk with his off-the-field woes, I'd be okay with the gamble depending on the cost.
Watson would be a massive upgrade over Baker Mayfield but could never play for Cleveland should his legal problems causes a suspension.
Cleveland under Sashi Brown could have drafted Watson with the 12th pick in 2017 but chose to trade down to 25 (selected safety Jabrill Peppers of Michigan ) and for the Texans 2018 first-rounder which they selected Denzel Ward.
Ward is a very good cornerback but in hindsight- a poor trade for the Browns.
I will be back later or tomorrow with other thoughts on the Browns vs Packers that will cover the non-Baker Mayfield topics.
Saturday, December 25, 2021
It hasn't been the best year at TRS or for the country, which constantly takes a step forward and then a step back into ending the pandemic that has taken so much enjoyment from everyone's lives.
As for me, the blog has been more of a slog this year.
I'm not always motivated to write and even though I sometimes want to write, I either don't have time or I don't want to deal with the consequences of my opinions.
Not on sports, mind you, I've been taking those arrows for years but on other topics.
However, the state of the country has drained me and while disinterested would be a term far too harsh, it's difficult when you feel that your point of view isn't being represented by media very often.
I just don't have the energy to argue with people at this stage and considering that I'm not likely to find a home on the left or the right, it has worn me out.
I find it best to stay informed but try to keep things to myself when possible.
I wish I could tell you my plans for TRS in 2022 other than I plan to continue things here.
I want to write, as I noted above, but sometimes I have time and no ideas and occasionally it is the other way around.
I can't lie.
Sometimes sports (Especially baseball) do not feel as important to me anymore.
There are exceptions- boxing. Ohio State football and I am really enjoying the revitalization of the Cavaliers but baseball has gotten me to the point of barely caring, and Rachel doesn't seem as interested in the Devils and without that, I'm not quite as interested either.
Still, I find myself wanting to write more about history in sports and you may see more of that in the upcoming year.
That's enough for now-enjoy your holidays and thanks for sticking with me...
Thursday, December 23, 2021
Cleaning out the Inbox: Football Passings
Powers coached Washington State in 1977 and took the Cougars into Nebraska and stunned the Huskers on their home field in the opening game to make Powers a hot coaching prospect.
Powers was hired by Missouri in 1978 and upset Nebraska again, which Missouri would not do for the next twenty-five years.
Powers took Missouri to bowl games in his first four seasons and five of his first six, never finishing with a losing record until his seventh and final season with a 3-7-1 record in 1984, after which Powers was fired.
Powers would never coach again and would become a car salesman in St.Louis, while the Tigers would not make another bowl game until 1997 and did not have a winning record until the same 1997 season after the firing of Powers.
Goodbye to Speedy Duncan at the age of 79.
Duncan made the AFL All-Star team on three occasions for the San Diego Chargers and would make the Pro Bowl in 1971 with Washington as a punt returner.
Duncan would intercept twenty-four passes and return four punts for touchdowns in his career with San Diego and Washington.
Goodbye to Demaryius Thomas at the age of 33.
Thomas spent most of his ten-year career with the Denver Broncos and made four Pro Bowls with two All-Pro selections.
Thomas finished with over 1,000 yards on four occasions and ten or more touchdowns on three others.
Thomas is the player that grabbed a short pass from Tim Tebow and took it eighty yards for a touchdown on the opening play of overtime of a 2011 playoff game for Denver against Pittsburgh to give the Broncos the victory.
The play set a playoff record for fastest ending to an overtime playoff game and longest scoring play to end a playoff game.
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Raiders boot Browns 16-14
They couldn't and the Raiders made them pay as Daniel Carlson knocked through a forty-eight-yard field goal on the last play of the game to give visiting Las Vegas a 16-14 win on a Monday afternoon in Cleveland.
Nick Chubb rushed for ninety yards and a touchdown and emergency quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 147 yards and hit Harrison Bryant for the other Cleveland touchdown.
The Browns fall to 7-7 with the loss and will visit Green Bay on Christmas Day.
1) You cannot blame backup quarterback Nick Mullens for this defeat. Mullins did exactly what you would hope an emergency quarterback would do in this situation. He kept the Browns in the game, didn’t turn the ball over, and avoided the big mistake.
2) Mullins didn’t get the ball downfield very well as only one completion went for more than 20 yards however that’s not a lot different than how Baker Mayfield has thrown much of this season as the Browns simply don’t have the downfield receivers to throw the ball to.
Avoiding the big mistake was good enough for the Browns on this day.
3) And it was Mullens who drove the Browns down the field late in the game and actually put them in the lead with a fourth-down bullet to tide in Harrison Bryant for the touchdown.
For a guy that legitimately had only one practice before playing this game, Nick Mullens likely earned himself a job for that for 2020 to whether or not it’s in Cleveland will be the question.
4) The Browns are beginning to discover a problem at placekicker. Chase McLaughlin‘s awful 47 yard missed field goal attempt at the end of the first half would have been the difference in the game had he connected.
It's not that McGlocklin missed- it’s how badly he missed. At a time when the Browns traditionally have needed a kicker to step up, they continue to find kickers that fall down.
It has not been since the days of Phil Dawson has the Browns had a kicker that they can feel good about in late-season situations
5) The Browns seem to be in a good position when Greedy Williams intercepted Derek Carr with around three minutes to
Instead, an inability to run the clock out is what cost the Browns the game as on third down and the third Nick Chubb carry forced Mike Priester (in for Kevin Stefanski) to make a decision, Go for it or punt.
6) I’m not going to barbecue Priester for deciding to punt bur what I might decide to barbecue Priester for is running Nick Chubb three times in a row.
While I know it’s easy for me to say to throw the ball and take the risk of stopping the clock, I may have done that at least once and it might’ve won the game.
Imagine a defense shuffle to the middle of the field expecting a Nick Chubb run and perhaps a dump out of the backfield to the fullback or a tight end that might’ve gotten them the yardage they needed to put the game away.
7) and this is where Kevin Stefanski not being there may have hurt the Browns. Stefanski hasn’t had a great season calling plays but I do believe he would’ve gone for it on the short fourth down rather than punt the ball and again a first down wins the game.
Instead, you played not to lose.
8) Myles Garrett didn't have a sack and didn't appear to have an impact on the game until you consider he injured his groin during the game and finished the game.
9) The Browns also lost defensive end, Takk McKinley, for the season with an injured Achilles Tendon.
McKinley's loss removes the top pass rusher from among the reserves and continues to hammer the depth of a team reeling.
10 ) The Nick Mullens touchdown drive in the fourth quarter of eighty yards was the longest of the season in the fourth quarter for the Browns this season.
11) During the first half, a graphic appeared on the screen that the Browns would move into first place and would be in last place with a defeat.
That speaks volumes for the AFC North this season.
12) This loss is a heartbreaker for the Browns, who still have playoff hopes but at a minimum will take wins over the Steelers and Bengals to close the season.
I don't like the chances considering the inconsistency of the Browns this season.
Monday, December 20, 2021
Boxing Challenge: Parker repeats against Chisora
In London, Joseph Parker won a unanimous decision in his rematch with Derek Chisora in a fight that was a better one than their original but the story in defeat was the effort by Chisora, who easily could have cashed in at several times during the fight and yet battled through in one of the more courageous efforts that you'll see.
Parker would knock down Chisora in the seventh and in both the fourth and eighth rounds, Parker would drive Chisora into the ropes with Chisora using the ropes to stay upright and was rightfully scored knockdowns on both occasions.
On each occasion, Chisora would walk to a corner, anchor himself against the corner post, and wave Parker in and would then begin to fire enough wild punches to pull himself together to survive the round.
Parker was far more aggressive than in his first fight against Chisora and used the jab to set up the right hand rather than box off his back foot.
Parker's right uppercut was the key difference this time as it seemed that it found Chisora with every attempt and it was the uppercut that scored all three official knockdowns.
Parker won on all three cards and was closer than I expected ( 115-110, 115-111, and a surprising 114-112 card that would have seen Chisora win on one card without knockdowns) as my card had Parker winning 117-108.
Parker keeps himself in line for a future try at a title shot (Parker is ranked in the top five in three of the four organizations) while Chisora will continue to grab good paydays as a gatekeeper in the division.
DAZN returned in the evening with the final card of the year from Golden Boy with the main event that was much more entertaining than expected as Gilberto Ramirez earned the mandatory contender spot for WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol with a tenth round knockout over Yuneski Gonzalez.
No knockdowns in this one but plenty of toe-to-toe exchanges that were generally dominated by Ramirez with Gonzalez scoring enough to keep Ramirez honest and make the fight an entertaining one.
I had Ramirez well ahead in the fight at 88-84.
For Ramirez, it was an entertaining win and it does seem that the reluctant super-middleweight champion has developed into an aggressive light heavyweight and I'm looking forward to a Ramirez challenge of Dmitry Bivol.
On the undercard, Lamont Roach dominated Rene Alvarado and won a unanimous decision in a battle of top ten junior lightweights.
I scored Roach a 99-91 winner.
In Minneapolis on Fox, super middleweight David Morrell stopped Alantez Fox in four rounds in a fight that I haven't had time to watch yet.
Saturday, December 18, 2021
Boxing Challenge: Beterbiev rolls over Browne
Friday, December 17, 2021
DAZN and Matchroom start the day with a heavyweight rematch from London as former WBO champion Joseph Parker battles veteran Derek Chisora.
The two fought in May in a memorable bout that saw Parker win a split decision although Chisora scored the only knockdown seconds into the fight with a right hand.
Parker held off a tiring Chisora in the second half of the fight from the outside with the jab and should he use those tactics from the beginning of the rematch Parker could win this fight easily, although it won't be as exciting as the first fight under those conditions.
DAZN moves to San Antonio for their evening card from Golden Boy Promotions.
Their main event is a title eliminator at light heavyweight with undefeated former WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez taking on veteran Yuneski Gonzalez for the right to face WBA light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol for his championship in 2022.
Ramirez looked very impressive in dispatching Sullivan Barrera in four rounds earlier this season and Gonzalez is "Barrera light" with a similar style and isn't quite as talented.
Gonzalez has won three straight against lower competition since losing to Oleksandr Gvodsyk in 2017 in a challenge for the WBC light heavyweight title.
The co-feature is a junior lightweight crossroads fight between two former contenders as Lamont Roach will face Rene Alvarado.
Roach was at one time the mandatory challenger for then-WBO champion Jamel Herring but lost a unanimous decision in 2019 to Herring, while Alvarado was a WBA minor titleholder entering 2021 but lost two close decisions to Roger Gutierrez.
The winner of this could be in a position for a title shot, while the loser (especially if it's Alvarado) could be pushed outside the top ten of the division.
Fox will televise another of their PBC infomercials with squash matches and usually the main event of less quality than you would expect from a network program.
This one pits Cuba's David Morrell in his adopted home of Minneapolis against Alantez Fox in a minor title super middleweight fight.
Morrell is being fast-tracked in holding a belt after only four fights but Fox is the best fighter he has faced which makes his holding a title even more ridiculous.
Fox, who at 6'4 is very tall for the division, is a solid fringe contender that has failed in his attempts to move to the next level in losses to Demetrius Andrade and Liam Williams.
The biggest fight will be from Montreal Friday night as the feared bomber Artur Beterbiev defending his WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles against his mandatory challenger from the WBC in former Olympian Marcus Browne.
All sixteen of Beterbiev's wins have been by knockout and his relentless walk forward style with every punch intended to cause a stoppage makes Beterbiev an entertaining fighter to watch, yet Betevbiev has been knocked down a few times and shows just enough vulnerability to add drama to each of his fights as well.
Marcus Browne is a former Olympian with good boxing ability to go with his excellent size for the division (6'2 76-inch reach) and holds a very good win over Badou Jack.
However, he "won" one of the worst decisions of the last decade with his split decision win over Radivoje Kalajozic with features such as cutting the fight from ten rounds to eight rounds minutes before the fight, Browne scoring a knockdown without throwing a punch (really!), Browne was knocked down in the sixth and was so badly hurt, few would have argued the fight being stopped and after all that, Browne refused Kalajozic a rematch and returned Kalajozic to boxing oblivion.
Browne's only loss was a technical decision loss to veteran Jean Pascal when Browne was badly cut after the fighter's heads collided in a fight that saw Browne knocked down three times and he has only one win since the loss to Pascal in a unanimous decision win over Denis Grachev.
Browne has the ability to outbox Beterbiev and I wouldn't be surprised to see him build a lead over the first half of the fight but I haven't seen anything that makes me think that his chin can handle the punishing attack of Beterviev and will crumble in the middle to late rounds.
Beterbiev-Browne can be seen on ESPN+
In the afternoon from Tashkent Uzbekistan, DAZN will offer a main event of Israil Madrimov against Michel Soro in what is a WBA title eliminator at junior middleweight.
Madrimov is a highly decorated amateur that has won all seven of his pro fights but hasn't fought anyone of note yet somehow has risen to second in the rankings.
Soro isn't really deserving of his top-rating either as his claim to fame was a split decision loss to current WBO champion Brian Castano in 2017 but is a solid European level fighter and in a division that isn't exactly loaded with premiere fighters currently, I wouldn't complain about Soro (or Madrimov) at the back half of the top ten but not at first overall.
The winner will become the WBA's mandatory contender for the winner of the Jermell Charlo (WBA/WBC/IBF champion)- Brian Castano (WBO) rematch.
In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 169-153.
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Browns hold off Ravens 24-22
Baker Mayfield threw two touchdowns with an interception and 190 yards passing, one each to Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper but the star play was Myles Garrett's sack, strip, and resulting fifteen-yard fumble recovery and a touchdown in the third quarter for what would prove to be the winning score.
Cleveland improved to 7-6 and will play Saturday games in the next two weeks, hosting Las Vegas before traveling to Green Bay on Christmas Day.
1) Myles Garrett's play on Baltimore backup quarterback Tyler Huntley was the type of play that you expect impact players to make and one that only special players make.
Garrett's play was even more difficult than you would think because he had to reach over to hit Huntley's arm and he didn't give Huntley a full pop to cause the fumble.
2) Garretts's sack was his fifteenth of the season and with the sack broke the team record held by Reggie Camp that was set in 1984.
The surprise for me was that it took that long for Garrett to set the record but I think he would have broken it in either 2019 or 20 had goofy things not occurred with 2019 ended with the suspension for whacking Mason Rudolph and 2020 saw him slowed in the second half after contracting Covid-19.
3) I remember Reggie Camp as a Brown defensive end but I have to be honest if you gave me twenty guesses on the single-season Browns sack record holder, I am not sure that I would have said Reggie Camp.
This says two things- One is that Reggie Camp was a better pass rusher than I remembered with thirty-five sacks in his five seasons in Cleveland and the second is that the Browns really haven't had an elite pass rusher over the last thirty to forty seasons.
4) And another glimpse at what Grant Delpit could be bringing to the secondary as soon as next season as Delpit finished the game with eleven solo tackles and a hit on the QB on a blitz.
This season is essentially Delput's rookie year, so he hasn't been perfect but I think next season Grant Delpit is going to be a Pro Bowl contender.
5) As much as I was wincing at the Raven's late comeback, one thing that I liked was the Browns' refusal to allow the Ravens underneath completions to end with the receiver getting out of bounds to stop the clock.
Poor individual tackling has been a scourage for Cleveland for years and it was refreshing to see the Browns wrapping up and watching the clock run in return for allowing those short passes to show improvement in that area.
6) Could the Lamar Jackson injury have made the difference in this game?
Maybe, but I'm not so sure.
The Browns have handled Jackson better in their first encounter despite losing and while Jackson was four of four in the quarter that he played, the total yardage was only seventeen,
I don't want to say that the Jackson problem is solved but I do think that Cleveland adding Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Grant Delpit to the lineup and patrolling the middle of the field has forced Jackson to perhaps think twice before haunting down the field with big and fast defenders capable on corralling him.
7) Baker Mayfield was okay.
Not great but not awful.
Mayfield's interception to Anthony Averett was a bad throw but while his inaccuracy still remained, it was improved (22 of 32) and the interception was the only ball that you could circle on your card and say "What was he thinking"?
8) The Browns did allow 287 yards, 117 to the noted Browns killer in tight end Mark Andrews but most of that yardage came in desperate comeback time for the Ravens.
I'm not too concerned about the passing yardage but I am concerned about this team's continued ability to ever cover Mark Andrews.
9) I know the analytics numbers etc and I just don't give a damn- If you are in the fourth quarter and you are down by nine-Kick the extra point and make it one possession tie.
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh went for two and failed, so down by nine points with under nine minutes to play the Ravens are guaranteed to need two possessions rather than one.
Sorry, I believe in numbers as much as the next guy but the biggest numbers were these- Two possessions rather than one.
10) I blame Baker Mayfield a lot for the mediocrity of the Browns offense but I'm starting to be swayed a bit by the argument towards the play calling of Kevin Stefanski.
Stefanski's play-calling was said to be a strength when he was hired by the Browns and for his first season, it appeared to be so.
However, in season two I'm starting to wonder.
While I fully support using the running game, it appears that Stefanski has a tendency to slow things down too quickly and too early, and the things that are working to build a lead are often forgotten in the second half.
11) The Browns finished the second half with only ninety-five total yards and their only score was the defensive touchdown scored by Myles Garrett.
The Browns were so bad as these are their second-half drives: Punt, Chase McLaughlin missed field goal, punt, punt, kneel down.
12) My favorite play was Denzel Ward sticking Rashod Bateman on the final fourth down and taking him down to the turf well short of the first down.
I know I commented on the tackling earlier but hey how many times have we seen broken tackles in the same situation?
13) Finally, the Browns are alive at 7-6, and with the reeling Raiders next at home, the Browns are in a position to likely control their own destiny although that is not one hundred percent guaranteed.
I think it will take at least three wins to get into the playoffs and they need to make the three wins in the three conference games (Raiders and Bengals at home and Steelers on the road) to win some tiebreakers.
Monday, December 13, 2021
Boxing Challenge: Donaire, Bivol retain titles
After a fairly even three rounds with Gaballo having some success boxing Donaire from the outside, it only took one left hook to the body of Gaballo from the man that he idolized growing up in the Philippines to end the fight as Gaballo dropped to the floor, got up off the canvas but couldn't maintain his ability to stand up before returning to the canvas in pain where he was counted out.
Donaire had hoped to face WBA and IBF champion Naoya Inoue in a rematch of their 2019 fight of the year but was forced into a mandatory defense against Gaballo and hopefully, the rematch can be arranged.
The co-feature saw the upset of the weekend as undefeated and untested Canadian Cody Crowley won a unanimous decision over Kudratillo Abdukakhhorov and with the victory cost Abdukakhhorov his number one contender slot in the IBF and a guaranteed title shot at Errol Spence.
Abdukakhhorov scored a second-round knockdown on a counter right but Crowley wasn't seriously buzzed and thereafter the fight continued with Crowley backing up Abdukakhhorov, who clearly wasn't used to that happening and struggled to stop Crowley's aggression.
I scored the fight 97-92 for Crowley and in a just world, it would be Crowley that would move into the number one slot with the IBF and get the shot at Spence but Crowley was unranked and this is boxing so that's unlikely to happen- BUT...
When you look at the IBF ratings, the loss by Abdukakhhorov opens up a very intriguing possibility.
Abdukakhhorov was rated first and there was no one in the second slot but the next two fighters at third and fourth are very interesting- Undefeated welterweight bombers Jaron "Boots" Ennis and Vergil Ortiz!
The IBF could order a dream Ennis-Ortiz matchup that would likely never happen due to competing promoters and although it's unlikely to be made as one side or the other could refuse to participate, there is a chance that both sides could see this as a way to speed up their eventual title shot.
Ennis vs Ortiz would be quite a fight and all because of little Cody Crowley.
From Russia, Dmitry Bivol dominated Umar Salamov and won yet another humdrum unanimous decision to retain his WBA light heavyweight title.
Bivol boxed the crude Salamv throughout, never dropped him or hurt him in winning the decision (119-109 on my card).
Bivol will defend against the winner of this weekend's Gilberto Ramirez-Yuneski Gonzalez fight in San Antonio.
An interesting co-feature was scrapped in the dressing room as undefeated Magomed Kurbanov came down with an over 100-degree fever and was scratched from his junior middleweight fight against former WBO champion Patrick Teixeira.
The winner would have been in an excellent position to face either WBO champion Brian Castano or number one contender Tim Tszyu as Kurbanov entered the fight rated second with Teixeira in the fourth spot in the WBO ratings.
In the boxing challenge. Ramon Malpica outscored me three to two in these fights and cut my lead to 169-153.
Sunday, December 12, 2021
Browns over Ravens 20-17
Boxing Challenge: Lomachenko dominates Commey
On ESPN from Madison Square Garden, former three-division champion Vasyl Lomachenko tossed his hat into the Australian derby for the right to travel Down Under for the first shot at the recently crowned WBA.IBF, and WBO lightweight champion George Kambosos with a dominant unanimous decision over former IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey.
Lomachenko started and drove Commey into the ropes with a strong right hand late in the second round but gestured to Commey to come to the center of the ring rather than jump on the veteran.
In the seventh, Lomachenko scored the only knockdown of the fight with a left hook that almost ended the fight but after Commey beat the count Lomachencko spoke to Commey's corner and asked them to stop the fight.
Richard Commey might be the best-liked fighter in the game as Teofimo Lopez liked Commey so much that he attended Commey's return to the ring after Lopez's win over Commey and Lomachenko legitimately seemed concerned by Commey's condition in the seventh round.
Lomachenko didn't move into a full-blown slowdown after the seventh but he also didn't accelerate the pace in an effort to stop Commey either as the Ghanian gamely made to the final bell without much offense in the late rounds.
I scored Lomachenko an easy 118-109 winner (10-2 with a knockdown) which is in the ballpark of the official scores (119-108 x2 and 117-110) and after his second dominant win in a row after his loss to Teofimo Lopez, Lomachenko is ranked first by the WBC and WBO and has stated that he will travel to Australia to face George Kambosos if asked.
On DAZN, Matchroom placed the first name victim on the record of welterweight prospect Conor Benn as washed-up veteran Chris Algeri was taken out with one right hand near the end of the fourth round in Liverpool England.
Benn was dominating the fight before the knockout that ended the fight with Algeri out cold and without the referee even needing to count.
Algeri, who is still living off a dubious win over Ruslan Provodnikov almost eight years ago, was overmatched against Benn, and after a knockout like this one should return to retirement before he gets hurt.
As for Conor Benn, Matchroom is starting to be cornered a bit as Benn doesn't appear ready for the top ten level fighters but is too advanced for the journeymen and fringe contenders at this time.
On AXS, which is what used to be HD-Net, the initial card from Richard Schaffer's Probellum debuted with a rough production start (early on no sound) with crude graphics and a less than stellar on-air group and that's before the problems with the in-ring product.
The day before the fight, WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero pulled out of his mandatory title defense against Paul Butler with "Gastric Distress:,
Casimero claimed he went to the hospital and the WBO quickly stated that unless Casimero produced medical records, he would be stripped of the title.
Fortunately, 44-year-old former champion Joseph Agbeko who somehow is still ranked was on-site and ready to replace Casimero against Butler for the "Interim" title with the promise of being elevated to the full titleholder, should Casimero be stripped.
That lasted for a few hours before Butler pulled out of the fight refusing to face Agbeko.
In the Probellum main event, Sunny Edwards outboxed his mandatory challenger Jayson Mama to win a dominant unanimous decision to retain his IBF flyweight title.
Edwards scored a flash knockdown in the eighth round for the only knockdown and cruised to an easy win (119-108 on my card) over the confused Mama, who had no idea on how to deal with the slickness of Edwards.
In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica outscored me five to four on these fights, my lead is at 167-150.
Saturday, December 11, 2021
I am short on time with many of the fights starting early in the morning, so for now, I am noting the picks.
If I get the time to detail a preview, I will try to do so.
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Cleaning out the Inbox:Passings
Goodbye to Angelo Mosca at the age of 84.
Mosca, who was known as "King Kong" in his pro wrestling days, was a Canadian Football Hall of Famer, winning five Grey Cups and named to the CFL All-Pro team on seven different occasions.
Mosca's #68 was retired by the team that he spent of his career with, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and was only the second player ever to have his number retired by the team.
Mosca was a huge star in Canada as a wrestler and wrestled in most of the American territories as a heel, although he usually was not the top heel in the territory.
Mosca did come through the WWF as the monthly foil for champion Bob Backlund before his most memorable moment in the company against Pat Patterson when Mosca attacked Patterson, serving as a television commentator, with a steel water pitcher and leading to a program between the two.
Rudman, a long-time giant in the music business in Philadelphia, was known as the most influential music industry member in that city and as the person that advised Bruce Springsteen on how to make his music more popular with women in the late seventies.
However, to me, Rudman was famous for his monthly commentary on the WWF house shows from the Philadelphia Spectrum for some of the campiest and unintentionally funny commentaries one could find in an industry filled with such commentators.
Watching Rudman on these shows (and the occasional Capital Centre USA Network) is hilarious and the surprise that Rudman's fawning over Magnificent Muraco ( a heel) at a time when announcers NEVER did that makes me wonder how did this stuff make the air?
Goodbye to Bob Neumeier at the age of 70.
Neumeier, a longtime Boston area sports commentator, was best remembered outside of the New England area for his work on thoroughbred racing broadcasts for both ESPN and NBC as an on-air handicapping expert.
I always found Neumeier not only an excellent handicapper but an engaging and witty broadcaster that brought a lot to the broadcasts that he worked.
Goodbye to Bob Ferry at the age of 84.
Ferry played for three teams in a ten-year playing career before a seventeen-year run as the general manager for the Baltimore/Washington Bullets that saw the Bullets win their only NBA title in 1978.
It was Ferry that drafted Wes Unseld first overall in 1969 and Ferry was responsible for adding Elvin Hayes for Jack Marin in one of the more lopsided trades in NBA history but his most underrated move in the Bullets title win was signing small forward Bob Dandridge as a free agent from the Bucks before the championship season.
Dandridge gave the Bullets the small forward scoring threat that allowed Washington to use Elvin Hayes at power forward where his quickness was an advantage against slower players.
Ferry was also the father of former Cavalier Danny Ferry, which led me in a roundabout way to meeting Ferry,
Ferry had been fired as the GM of the Bullets but he was attending Danny's first game at the Capital Centre with the Cavaliers with the Ferry family.
Cherie, a three-year-old Ryan decked out in his Cavaliers uniform, and I was waiting in line for the doors to open when a lady walked over and swooned over Ryan and his uniform.
She turned out to be Danny's mom (and Bob's wife) and called Bob Ferry over to look at Ryan and his uniform, so I was then able to talk basketball with Bob Ferry for a few minutes or so until the fans were allowed to enter the arena.
Goodbye to Mark Roth at the age of 70.
The three-time PBA bowler of the year in the late 1970s when the PBA still had a large weekend presence on network television and was known for his distinctive delivery of the ball that "cranked" more power than the other players on the tour.
Roth won eight tournaments in 1978 to set a still-standing PBA record, was the first bowler to convert the feared Seven-Ten split in a televised match in 1980, and still is the only righthanded bowler to manage that feat on television as the three times that it has been accomplished since have been all by southpaw bowlers.
Goodbye to Blackjack Lanza at the age of 88.
Lanza spent most of his career wrestling in the AWA but his wrestling career is remembered by many of outside of the Midwest as the founding member of the original Blackjacks, Lanza's team with the late Blackjack Mulligan.
The Blackjacks did have one run in the WWF in 1975-76 with Lanza and Mulligan winning the WWF tag team championship and did travel for short terms in other areas although they remained based in the AWA.
Lanza retired from active wrestling in 1985 but didn't leave the business as he would work as a road agent/producer for years before his health began to fail around 2010.
Lanza and Mulligan as the Blackjacks were inducted into the WWF hall of fame in 2016.
Boxing Challenge: Davis Defeats Cruz
Davis was unable to extend his knockout string, which saw Davis stop his previous sixteen opponents dating back to German Maraz surviving the eight-round distance in October 2014.
Cruz was aggressive throughout the fight but in my opinion, didn't throw enough punches in the first eight rounds and fell behind on the cards.
Davis appeared to have injured his left hand and rarely threw it over the final few rounds, leading to Cruz getting back into the fight by winning the last three rounds on my card.
Still, I agreed with two of the judges scoring for Davis at 115-113 (the third had Davis up 116-112) and the lead was too much for Cruz to overcome.
Davis looked a little vulnerable against Cruz and his concern about preferring taller fighters than himself before the fight proved to be a legitimate worry as Cruz was very effective in keeping Davis from cracking him to the body.
The fight still could be a good thing for Davis in showing him that not every fighter is going to fall down every time they are punched and if Cruz's performance was helped by a lack of preparation by Davis (not saying that is the case), perhaps that can be corrected in the future.
After the fight, Davis gave up his minor WBA title at junior welterweight, choosing to keep his minor WBA title at lightweight.
Sooner or later, I would imagine the WBA will make Davis fight their real champion in George Kambosos as the organization tries to clean up their mess of titles but until then look for Davis to keep knocking over fighters similar to Cruz (top ten/twelve level) or even lesser.
Lightweight may be the most talented division in boxing with terrific fighters that unfortunately are scattered almost several promotional companies and with the exception of Kambosos, a promotional free agent, appear content to lob Twitter grenades rather than get into the ring and fight each other.
I would be surprised to see any of these stars except for maybe Kambosos and Devin Haney actually face each other in 2022.
I have not seen the other two fights with the results:
Sebastian Fundora unanimous decision over Sergio Garcia.
Carlos Adames majority decision over Sergey Dereyvanchenko.
In the boxing challenge, I scored three points to Ramon Malpica's two and moved the total to 163-145.
Monday, December 6, 2021
Boxing Challenge: Haney Decisions Diaz
Nothing changed in Las Vegas as Haney had too much speed and boxing ability for Diaz in winning a unanimous decision that may have been wide but was not easy.
Haney won on scores of 117-111 (x two and my scorecard) and 116-112 and despite Diaz never giving up and occasionally landing a good punch on Haney, the champion was never in the type of trouble that he navigated in his last fight against Jorge Linares.
Diaz stung Haney a bit in the final round as he fired several lefts in an attempt to score a knockout but was unable to finish the champion.
Haney may be headed to Australia for a fight for all four titles against George Kambosos in a fight that would be the biggest fight in Australian boxing history but Kambosos also could decide to fight Vasyl Lomachenko, should Lomachenko defeat Richard Commey next week or even Gervonta Davis in a long shot should Davis defeat Isaac Cruz.
Any of those three choices would be a strong fight against Kambosos and an easy sell but I'm guessing considering the principles involved with Lomachenko (Top Rank) and Davis (PBC) that it will be Devin Haney that will get the call.
In London, Anthony Yarde avenged his split decision loss to Lyndon Arthur in December with a fourth-round knockout.
Yarde began to walk Arthur down from the opening bell and immediately showed that this was going to be a different outcome than the first fight.
Arthur won the second round and appeared to shake Yarde a little in the fourth round with a right hand although that was his downfall as Yarde suddenly charged Arthur and landed a series of body shots which instantly took their toll on a weakened Arthur.
Arthur attempted to clinch his way through the problems but Yarde refused to tie up and after a right hand to the head dropped Arthur to the floor, where he barely beat the count but the fight was ended anyway.
A huge win for Yarde and with Arthur being ranked first by the WBO, it is likely that Yarde will take over that position, and promoter Frank Warren stated after the match that Yarde has an agreement in place to face the winner of the Joe Smith-Callum Johnson in January for that championship that is currently held by Smith.
In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica added four points to my two to cut my lead to 160-143.
Back later with the Gervonta Davis PPV card, once I have a chance to watch all three fights.
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Gervonta Davis holds/held WBA "titles" in three divisions but only one is the "real" championship in that division (junior lightweight) and that one Davis recently vacated.
Davis will defend one of his two minor titles (the lightweight) against replacement Isaac Cruz and for all of the action, punching power and PPV buys that Davis brings to the table, Cruz is the best fighter that Davis has faced since Jose Pedraza in 2016-FIVE years ago.
What makes this more remarkable is that Cruz is likely the second-best fighter that Davis has faced period. although Leo Santa Cruz is a better fighter over the course of his career, Santa Cruz is a much smaller natural fighter in facing Davis with Cruz being a natural 135-pound fighter.
Cruz is a good puncher, a solid fighter but at best is near the bottom of the top ten of the lightweight division.
Still, Cruz is going to come forward and bang with Davis and should make an exciting fight for Davis that will continue to help Davis build his brand- for as long as it lasts!
I just hope that Davis isn't wasting his prime years before seeing just how good he could truly be.
The undercard will feature two WBC eliminators to determine future mandatory challengers to their Champions Charlo.
At 154, the winner of Sebastian Fundora and Sergio Garcia will be in line to face Jermell, who holds three of the four titles in the division but whom I thought lost his draw with WBO champion Brian Castano.
Fundora is the 6'5 "Towering Inferno" that is freakishly tall for a junior middleweight and seems to be coming into his own over his last three fights that include knockout wins over gatekeepers Nathaniel Gallimore and Jorge Cota.
Garcia, not to be confused with the golfer, is an undefeated Spaniard with thirty-three wins but only one can be considered a quality win- a decision win over Great Britain's Ted Cheesman in 2019.
This appears to me to be a showcase fight for Fundora to establish himself as a mandatory contender with a spectacular win but remember two Spanish fighters have pulled major upsets this year (Sandor Martin over Mikey Garcia and Kiko Martinez over Kid Galahad) and both would be far bigger surprises than an upset here.
The other eliminator will establish a mandatory contender for Jermall Charlo at 160 pounds with rugged contender Sergey Dereyvanchenko against Carlos Adames.
Dereyvanchenko is best known for his near misses in razor-close losses in title challenges to Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin and a close but not quite as close loss to Charlo but against fighters just underneath his level Dereyvanchenko has steamrolled all that he has faced.
Adames was a once highly thought of prospect and was favored against Patrick Teixeira in a 2019 fight for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title but a knockdown in the seventh round was the difference between losing a unanimous decision and a majority decision draw.
Adames has beaten two journeymen since losing to Teixeira and moving up to middleweight but I fail to see any reason that Adames deserves to be in a title eliminator at this time.
Saturday, December 4, 2021
DAZN has the biggest fight as WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney takes center stage from Las Vegas as he defends the only title not held by new champion George Kambosos against former IBF junior lightweight champion Joseph Diaz.
Haney defeated his biggest name foe in his last fight against former three-division champion Jorge Linares and despite winning a wide unanimous decision, Linares won the final three rounds and badly hurt a stumbling Haney late in the tenth round to create a few questions at least about Haney's stamina and chin against top competition.
I'm not sure Diaz is the fighter to test the weak chin theory though as Diaz was never a big puncher at 126 or 130 pounds and despite his aggressive style, Diaz will have to outland Haney in order to win this fight.
Diaz appeared to be toxic after dropping his 130-pound title on the scales and then barely escaping with a draw against Shavkat Rakimov but took advantage of an unexpected opportunity against Javier Fortuna (Ryan Garcia dropping out) to win a unanimous decision, a minor title, and the chance to fight Haney for the real WBC title.
Haney should have more than enough to defeat Diaz, who won't quit coming forward and will make Haney work for the win but Haney is the natural fighter at this weight, the bigger puncher, and the more well-rounded fighter.
It should be an interesting fight and if Diaz can keep from falling too far behind on the scorecards in the first half of the fight, the second half could be very intriguing.
Earlier Saturday, a rematch between England's two top veteran light heavyweights between Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde from their fight last December with Arthur winning a split decision.
The winner could be in line for a title fight in 2022 with both fighters being ranked in the top ten of the sanctioning bodies with Arthur ranked first by the WBO and third by the IBF and Yarde 5th in the WBC ratings and 9th by the IBF.
Yarde was the strong favorite entering their first fight but Arthur managed to slow the fight down and boxed from the outside to grab the upset nod.
Devin Haney vs Joseph Diaz