Wrigley Field is 100

 

 

 

 

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Front of Wrigley Field

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Inside a historic park

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Artists rendering of wrigley at night

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Football at Wrigley

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Chicago

RIP Pat Tillman

On this day 10 years ago we lost a true American Hero. Cardinals Pro Bowl safety Pat Tillman declared for the army instead of opting for the money and fame of an NFL lifestyle. He was killed in friendly fire on this very day 10 years ago. May the soul of a true American legend Rest in Peace.

Panthers decision

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The Florida Panthers have won the draft lottery for the first time since 2003 when they then traded the pick. The Panthers have made the playoffs just once since 2000 which is incredibly woeful but the team is filled with young talent and of course the number one pick in this years draft. There are a “big 3” as far as top prospects this year in Sam Bennett, Aaron Ekblad, and Sam Reinhart which is quite different from last year when Nathan MacKinnon was the clear and consensus top choice. According to our friends at capgeek.com the Panthers have just about 30 Million dollars until they reach the salary cap ceiling. They are also very likely to compliance buyout Ed Jovonaski and potentially yet doubtfully 1 of Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, or Tomas Fleishmann. New owner Vinny Viola a prominent New York businessman has stated he is willing to spend to the cap and he wants to win.

General Manager Dale Tallon has stated that he wants to sign 2 defenseman and most likely 3 forwards. This is a very weak free agency class when it comes to defenseman with the biggest names out there being Markov, Niskanen, and Zidlicky. Ultimately though i think that Dale will draft the best available player rather than most needed. I think you combine that with the success of Huberdeau and Barkov the pick will likely be a forward. The Panthers have depth at the center position though which both Bennett and Reinhart play not to mention they also have interest in Maple Leafs UFA Dave Bolland. Of the two forwards, according to draft experts they say Sam Bennett will likely be able to switch to left wing which the Panthers do have a need there. In the end I strongly believe that the pick will come down to Sam Bennett or Aaron Ekblad. I also think that the Panthers will not move this pick unless its for a young controllable player such as Jeff Skinner or Evander Kane. I really don’t see the Panthers trading down either. So…

With the 1st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft the Florida Panthers select Sam Bennett 

NBA Playoff Predictions

By: Nolan Soffer @Nolan_Soffer

Disclaimer: Predictions made after game 1 games and game 2 of OKC Memphis game/ Los Angeles Golden State

Western Conference Quarterfinals

Spurs V Mavericks: Spurs depth, and their revenge factor pose a threat to any team in the West. Spurs win series

Rockets V Trail Blazers: This is a tough match up. Second year phenom Damian Lillard put on a show in his postseason debut, alog with just a little help of Lamarcus Aldridge. The two pose a huge challenge for Houston but in the end Houston size is too much and steals game 7. Rockets win series

Clippers V Warriors: Probably the most intriguing matchup of the first round. Two high octane offenses that even the a novice NBA fan wold enjoy. Warriors are a two faced team. They’re either hot, or cold from the field. Problem being that the cold tea usually shows up the most which is why I choose the Clippers. Clippers win series

Thunder V Grizzlies: Game 2 was an unbelievable one. Even though the Grizzlies can pose a threat, they just got the wrong match up. Can’t go against the soon to be MVP. Thunder win series

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Pacers V Hawks: Even though the Hawks won game one in every aspect I don’t think it will be enough. Indiana got a wakeup call at the right time. When Indiana’s on its a tough team to beat. Pacers win series.

Bulls V Wizards: In a few years this Wizards team will be making noise in the Eastern Conference. With one of the best back courts in the game , and not enough offensive firepower from Chicago i believe Washington wins the series. Wizards win series

Nets V Raptors: This is one of the better match ups in the first round. Two evenly matched teams. One of the big surprises of the year (Toronto) winded up with the three seed. However Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are on too much of a roll especially with the NBA’s best second half record. Nets win series

Heat V Bobcats: … It’s the Bobcats. Heat win series

Western Conference Semifinals

Spurs V Rockets: The battle of Texas. The Rockets are 3-0 against the Spurs this season so they’re gonna win the series. Not so fast… Houston is in my opinion one more piece to be a legit NBA contender. San Antonio is hungry for the championship after the debacle last year. Spurs win series

Clippers V Thunder: This will probably be the best match up of the second round. OKC is 2-1 against the Clippers this year. OKC has the NBA MVP, but in the end it won’t be enough Los Angeles has too much fire power coming off the bench two of the league’s best big men, and arguably the best coach in the NBA in Doc Rivers. Clippers win series

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Pacers V Wizards: If Indiana winds up playing Chicago this might be another story, but Indiana’s big men will cause too many problems to to this young Wizards team. Pacers win series

Heat V Nets: All that’s needed is Doc Rivers, and Rajon Rondo in a Brooklyn uniform. Brooklyn is 4-0 against the Heat this season. However they’ve all come in close games. In the playoffs Miami is always on their A game so this time around things will be different. Paul Pierce and company will put up a good fight but in the end it won’t be enough. Miami wins series

Western Conference Finals

Spurs V Clippers: San Antonio is 2-1 this year against (the other LA team) this season. However i believe this series will go down to game seven. Chris Paul and company along with coaching from Doc will be too much for this San Antonio team. Clippers win series

Eastern Conference Finals

Pacers V Heat: 2-2 against each other this year. Faced each other last year in the same spot. There hasn’t been an NBA three peat since Shaq and Kobe. Home court will play a huge factor in this series. During the regular season the home team won every game. Miami has all the reasons to pick them to advance to the NBA finals for the fourth straight year. However I believe this will be the first year they don’t reach that spot. Indiana’s size, and home court advantage will be the reason for their first NBA finals appearance in 14 years. Pacers win series

NBA Finals:

Pacers V Clippers: These two teams faced only one time this year, and Indiana won that game. Both of these teams have size. Neither of these teams have finals experience. This is a tough one to call. Indiana one of the leagues best defensive teams faces off against one of the leagues best offensive teams. In the end I believe with the point guard play of Chris Paul coaching of Doc Rivers and two of the leagues most improved players in Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan along with a solid bench the NBA championship will travel back to LA… This time however to the Clippers first ever NBA title

 

Innovations on offense

Innovations on offense

You can see throughout the history of the NFL how it has evolved from a running league to now be a passing league. In this draft there may not be a running back selected in the first two rounds meanwhile Wide receivers and Left tackles remain an extremely hot commodity and are deemed necessary in todays game. That makes me ask the question, what is the next step and what is the next breakthrough in the game of football? Most of the time teams that can keep innovating and be creative tend to be more successful on the football field.

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Platooned Offensive Line

Way back in the day players would play all 60 minutes of the game such as RedGrange, Fats Henry, Chuck Bednarik and Jim Thorpe before executives thought it would be better to tailor ones game to a single position. As time went on players would be at one position but only on specific downs such as a nose tackle on 1st and 2nd down, a pass rusher in long distance situations, and an extra offensive lineman on short down situations. What I am proposing now is to use some offensive lineman in specific situations such as bringing in more lean and slender types for passing situations on the inside of the line and heavier more mauling types on running downs. Such a move would hurt pass rushers trying to beat the slower guards on the inside. Such a move would make other teams cautious when putting in the pass rushing interior lineman as they would be heavily outweighed.

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Running Backs with Slot Potential

As you can see with Chris Johnsons 2yr 8M contract and with the potential for no running backs to be taken in the first two rounds the value of the running back position has deteriorated. Full back used to be a big position played by the likes of Franco Harris and Jim Brown but now they are mostly 3rd tight ends or sparsely used players. I think running back with speed could be very dangerous in the slot especially speed backs. Lets take Chris Johnson and say you go out in the I formation with 2 WR and 2TEs the defense will likely come out in their base 3-4/4-3 defense. If CJ runs to the slot who will cover him? You have the corners matched up on the receivers and that leaves the safeties and LB to cover 1 or 2 tight ends and a running back who is likely too fast for a linebacker. The defense now has to decide who will cover the taller tight ends and the speedy running back which will cause mass confusion.

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The Interior 

In todays NFL you see the quarterback as the key piece of an offense and without one many question a clubs ability to succeed and to a large degree I agree with that but I see a growing value in having a multi-dimensional game. In todays NFL Defenses are focusing more on rushing the passer and being more agile in the secondary. When Ray Lewis played his last season he lost 10-15 pounds before the season so he could keep up with the more spread out game. I am finding a weakness in defenses as they are lighter and faster in todays day. In 2014 every guard that made the pro bowl except Marshall Yanda of the 2012 champion Ravens were on a playoff team (Evans,Grubbs,Iupati,Mankins,Vasquez) meanwhile only 3 receivers (Green, Thomas, Jackson) were on playoff teams. The interior is easier to dominate in todays game due to linebackers being lighter and 4-3 DT being quicker for the pass rush. If teams put more stock and $$$ into the undervalued guard and center positions they should be able to gain key strides in the run game which can create a signifigant advantage when competing against defenses designed for defending the pass. Combine elite guards with a power back and these lighter defensive players are in for trouble.

Any ideas? Post them in the comments

NFL 2014 Mock Draft

NFL 2014 Mock Draft

Here is the first mock draft I am going to do. I did this one not including any trades and will have one with future trades up shortly.

  1. Texans- Jadaveon Clowney DE South Carolina
  2. Rams- Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
  3. Jaguars- Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
  4. Browns-Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
  5. Raiders- Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
  6. Falcons- Greg Robinson OT Auburn
  7. Buccaneers- Jake Mathews OT Texas A&M
  8. Vikings- Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma St
  9. Bills- Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo
  10. Lions- Zack Martin OT Notre Dame
  11. Titans- Eric Ebron TE North Carolna
  12. Giants-Taylor Lewan OT Michigan
  13. Rams- HaHa Clinton-Dix FS Alabama
  14. Bears- Calvin Pryor FS Louisville
  15. Steelers- Darqueeze Dennard CB Michigan St
  16. Cowboys- Anthony Barr OLB UC-Los Angeles
  17. Ravens- CJ Mosley ILB Alabama
  18. Jets- Brandin Cooks WR Oregon St
  19. Dolphins- Xavier Su’a Filo OG UC-Los Angeles
  20. Cardinals- Marquise Lee WR Southern California
  21. Packers- Odell Beckham Jr. WR Louisiana St
  22. Eagles- Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech
  23. Chiefs- Stephon Tuitt DE Notre Dame
  24. Bengals- Kony Ealy DE Missouri
  25. Chargers- Jason Verrett CB Texas Christian
  26. Browns- Allen Robinson WR Penn State
  27. Saints- Dee Ford DE Auburn
  28. Panthers- Kelvin Benjamin WR Florida St
  29. Patriots- Timmy Jernigan DT Florida St
  30. 49ers- Lamarcus Joyner CB Florida St
  31. Broncos- David Yankey OG Stanford
  32. Seahawks- Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh
  33. Texans- Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville
  34. Redskins- Louis Nix III DT Notre Dame
  35. Browns- Bradley Roby CB Ohio State
  36. Raiders- Ryan Shazier OLB Ohio State
  37. Falcons- Jeremiah Attaochu OLB Georgia
  38. Buccaneers- Martavis Bryant WR Clemson
  39. Jaguars- Marcus Roberson CB Florida
  40. Vikings- Jimmie Ward SS Northern Illinois
  41. Bills- Cyrus Kouandijo OT Alabama
  42. Titans- Demarcus Lawrence OLB Boise State
  43. Giants- RaShede Hageman DT Minnesota
  44. Rams- Morgan Moses OT Virginia
  45. Lions- Kyle Van Noy OLB Brigham Young
  46. Steelers- Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech
  47. Cowboys- Gabe Jackson OG Mississipi State
  48. Ravens- JaWuan James OT Tennessee
  49. Jets- Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE Washington
  50. Dolphins- Billy Turner OT North Dakota State
  51. Bears- Dominique Easley DT Florida
  52. Cardinals- Weston Richburg C Colorado State
  53. Packers- Terrence Brooks FS Florida State
  54. Eagles- Davante Adams WR Fresno State
  55. Bengals- Trevor Reilly OLB Utah
  56. 49ers- Paul Richardson WR Colorado
  57. Chargers- Cyril Richardson OG Baylor
  58. Saints- Donte Moncrief WR Ole Miss
  59. Colts- Dakota Dozier OG Furman
  60. Panthers- Joel Bitonio OT Nevada
  61. 49ers- Kelcy Quarles DE South Carolina
  62. Patriots- Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt
  63. Broncos- Keith McGill CB Utah
  64. Seahawks- Jarvis Landry WR Louisiana State