Warriors came out to play

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The Warriors were the favorite to win the NBA title, they finished the regular season with 73 wins, surpassing statistically, the 95-96 Chicago Bulls record, of the Michael Jordan era.

Scottie Pippen of that aforementioned Bulls team gone on record saying the “Don’t mean a thing without the ring”. Warriors need to finish what they started, they need the ring to solidify there place in NBA history.

The Warriors were down 3-1 in the semi finals series against Oklahoma City Thunder, Warriors needes to win 3 straight including on the road. They did just that.

The Warriors won last night 96 – 88 to move on the the NBA finals where they face Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors faced the Cavaliers in the 2015 finals and won their franchises first title in 40 years.

Will this time be different? Lebron James plays in his 7th NBA finals, with only 2 rings to show for it.

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both surpassed the NBA individual record for 3 point shots in a series. Previous record was 28, Curry had 32 and Thompson had 30 in there series against the Thunder.

Splash Brothers vs King James 2.0 here we go.

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The Past, Present & Future of Greg Hardy

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The Past

(Written by LaDonna Williams)

During Greg Hardy’s’ career at Ole Miss he had great numbers that left many believing he would enter the NFL Draft after completing his Junior season as a First Round Selection. Despite the adoration of coaches and scouts, Hardy returned to Oxford for his senior season. Following career numbers of 26.5 sacks, 90 solo and 57 assisted tackles Hardy found his stock drop dramatically, and was not drafted until the sixth round by the Carolina Panthers. What was the reason for Hardy dropping after an exemplary college career? Coaches questioned his durability following an off-season surgery to a broken bone in his foot before his Senior season at Ole Miss. They also noted his inconsistency to play hard each and every down. The Panthers took a chance on him in my opinion because of the impending loss of Julius Peppers.

Greg’s career with the Panthers lasted from 2010 to 2014 with his best season coming during the 2013 campaign where he earned a Pro-Bowl nod with 15 sacks, 40 tackles, and 25 assisted tackles. On field Greg Hardy could do no wrong, but off the field was a different story altogether. His 2014 season left him sidelined due to an impending investigation into a domestic violence case in which he was implicated by his ex-girlfriend. The proof against him was damning. His ex was covered in bruises and he maintained a stance of his innocence saying that he never laid a hand on her. So just how did she get the bruises Greg, tripped on the carpet? The vacuum cleaner attacked her? To add insult to injury, on Hardy’s’ court date she didn’t show up. Why would this woman not show up to court after what you put her through? Just how much did you pay her to not show? One benefit of being on the NFL’s Exempt list is that you still received your salary, so we know you had the money.

 

The Present

(Written by Micheal Hester)

Following the decision to not resign Greg Hardy in March of 2015 by Jerry Richardson, the former second team All Pro defensive end was set to be the top defensive lineman on the NFL free agent market. With speculative buzz of interest from the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Greg Hardy signed with the Dallas Cowboys on March 18, 2015. Considered a high risk/high reward for the Cowboys due to an inept pass rush in the 2014 playoff match-up that cost them against the Green Bay Packers (although some blame it on the controversial no-catch) the signing of Hardy, at the moment, felt like one that would propel the Dallas defense skyward.

We’re going to avoid digging into the X’s and O’s of Hardy’s stint as a Cowboy here. After his initial 10-game suspension was reduced to a 4-game suspension by the NFL. It was apparent, at that moment, that Hardy’s verbal state was a wildcard. With Cowboys’ head coach, Jason Garrett, having to figuratively pull him aside and speak to him, Hardy’s verbal antics simmered down for the moment. For the moment, yes. A few weeks later into the season, Hardy’s verbal outburst turned a bit physical when he was seen by FOX ‘s camera crew knocking the clipboard out of Cowboys’ special team’s coach’s hands and seemingly unable to be calmed by fellow teammates, Tyrone Crawford and then-injured/inactive Dez Bryant. The next Hardy verbal altercation came in week 10 of the 2015 NFL season when he was seen verbally sparring with Buccaneer fans during the Cowboys’ match-up versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And this all happen, sparingly through the Dallas Cowboys’ 2015 season, with constant sports media bashing of his very presence in the league and the Cowboys’ decision to take the swing at him.

Amid the media scrutiny of both Hardy and the Cowboys organization, and Hardy’s obvious decision to “lay low” despite the hypothetical bull’s eye on his back, Hardy finished the season with 6 sacks (2nd on the team) one interception and 32 quarterback pressures (1st among all Cowboys’ defenders) So where does Greg McKarl Hardy stand as of now? No longer on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster or any NFL roster, to be exact. With the high point of the free agency period gone and not being picked up by any of the 32 NFL teams, the writing is on the wall. The fact that he missed all but one game of the 2014 season and four games of the 2015 season, but still managed to put up 6 sacks, 32 quarterback pressures, and one interception proves that Hardy is still a physical specimen that can still make an impact on a number of NFL defensive lines around the league even with missed time from the NFL.

Sometimes the risk isn’t worth it. And that’s a powerful stance, considering that his former employer, Jerry Jones, is one of the biggest and most powerful risk-taking “gamblers” in the world of professional sports. Although the media bearing had no effect on the Dallas Cowboys’ losing record in the 2015 season, the very presence of a player of his nature and given his past incident, makes a player like Greg Hardy a volatile and dividing locker room presence. If you ever played ant sport on any particular level, you know, firsthand, that locker room division eventually trickles onto the field. And sometimes, even a mogul like Jerry Jones has to decide when enough is enough, for the sake of the very team being ran by himself, son Steven Jones and head coach, Jason Garrett…with the latter whose very theme is “the right kind of guys”. Greg Hardy is a freakish athlete with the potential to return to elite form in no time for a number of NFL teams, who could use his talent on their defense immediately. But, Greg Hardy is almost a troubled soul with a checkered past who’s main priority, right now, should be life rather than football.

The Future

(Written by Brian Jones)

What does the future hold for Greg Hardy? Does he have a future in the NFL?

There’s no definitive answer to that question. As of today, he’s out of the league and there’s been no substantive movement towards signing him from any team. Dallas has come out and adamantly said they won’t be re-signing him and a return to Carolina isn’t happening. The draft is over and training camp is starting soon and although teams will tell you that we aren’t signing him or we don’t have any interest in signing him the truth of the matter is that they’ve discussed bringing him in or they will soon. Injuries will happen and needs will develop because of this and because of overall attrition on rosters. You don’t find 27-year old defensive ends who are former Pro Bowlers and have multiple double-digit sack seasons on their resume’ who are available right now.

Someone will go out (eventually) and sign him along with the inevitable media attention and scrutiny that is going to come with it. He can still be a serviceable player; pass rushers don’t exactly grow on trees these days after all. The team that does sign him has to understand what they’re getting and getting into. Keeping him away from questionable members of the media who will ask pointed questions is a start. Keeping Hardy off camera together is a great idea too. Keep in mind, before his first game last season he made derogatory remarks about Tom Brady’s wife and her sister and infamously said he wanted to come out guns blazing–this after being suspended for a domestic violence conviction where he threw her on a bed of guns and other assault weapons. On the field he’ll need to be insulated by coaches and teammates (see the sideline incident with Dez Bryant last season for an example of why) and be in a defensive scheme where he can rush the passer and be a disruptive force on the field.

While there are some who say and hope he never plays another down in the NFL – and there’s a miniscule chance that could happen –it’s very likely Hardy sees the field again in 2016 in NFL.

Philadelphia : New direction

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Howie Roseman – NJ.com

This offseason Philadelphia Eagles seen Howie Roseman trade 3 players away who were underperforming and had contracts not worth there production. In the process we moved up in the draft and eventually took the 2nd overall pick of the draft.

Aside from those trades, Howie also cut wide receiver Riley Cooper, and signed much needed free agency secondary Rodney McLeod, Leodis McKelvin, Nigel Bradham, Ron Brooks, offensive lineman Brandon Brooks, Stephen Wisniewski and wide receivers Chris Givens, Rueben Randle, and T.J. Graham.

We drafted depth players, a quarterback Carson Wentz, two more offensive lineman, Issac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai running back Wendell Smallwood, two more secondary guys, safety Jalen Mills and cornerback Blake Countess as well as defensive end Alex McAllister and Joe Walker.

Chip Kelly didn’t draft any lineman last year, Chip Kelly didn’t bring in so many free agents.

A couple undrafted free agents that caught my eyes were Darrell Greene and Cayleb Jones, these two along with Jalen Mills, Dillon Gordon even Wendell Smallwood show something that we got rid of in Philadelphia. Bad boys and personality.

Wendell Smallwood was on twitter talking crazy about Philadelphia in his younger days and was under investigation for trying to force a witness not to testify in a case. He also led the Big 12 in 2015 in rushing, 1519 yards, and came in 2nd in attempts 238. He had 12 career td’s in 3 years and an average of 17 yards on kick returns.

Jalen Mills was charged for assault on a woman, where his girlfriend may or may not have been the culprit. He had 216 career tackles at LSU with 4 sacks, 1 fumble return and 11 pass deflections.

Dillon Gordon was stabbed in a bar fight outside LSU campus. Not the best stats but he’s 6-5 and 308 lbs.

Darrell Greene was suspended in college for testing positive for marijuana. He has shown excellent run blocking ability.

Cayleb Jones transfered from Texas to Arizona after breaking a tennis players jaw. He has 1926 yards in 2 years at Arizona, 14 touchdowns in the same 2 years, top 10 in PAC 12 in receiving yards for 2 years as well.

None of these guys would have been “Chip Kelly guys”, not a single one. Chip wanted good upstanding citizens who were responsible and well behaved.

This is football, this isn’t the church choir, I like this new direction, I like Jim Schwartz style of defense, I like guys that might be a little rough around the edges, football is a tough sport, its not nice. Football is not always pretty.

Philadelphia Eagles are in the NFC East, full of heavy hitters and super stars, decades old rivalries and sometimes tempers flair and fights happen, say what you will but I want to win the fight and the game.

Sign guys like Richie Incognito, and other second chance players with lots of upside. We’re Philadelphia, the same team that brought in Michael Vick fresh out of jail and put him on the field, you know what? He turned out to be a good guy and he did great things for this Philadelphia and the Eagles.

The old way didn’t get us anywhere, it got DeSean Jackson cut and LeSean Mcoy traded for Kiko Alonso..Evan Mathis cut and signed to Denver, that’s what the old way got us.

I embrace the new direction.

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Memorial Day, by Bob Gurley

The Coolers and luggage bags being packed, families all over this great country piling in cars. Heading for the closest beaches to celebrate an extended weekend and what most see as “Summers official kickoff”. What most tend to forget, is that this “official kickoff” of the summer, is actually a remembrance and dedication to fallen soldiers of this great country who’ve laid their lives on the line for the freedom we take for granted. 
On May 30th, 1868, the very first Memorial Day (then considered “Decoration Day). General James Garfield stood on the grounds of Arlington national cemetery and spoke these words to a crowd of 5,000:

“I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung. With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept, plighted faith may be broken, and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
General Garfield praised these men who laid their lives on the line and paid the ultimate price in that civil war. He spoke beautiful words, in honor of them and paying homage to their sacrifice, because these men paid the ultimate price for this great country we live in today! 
Then “Decoration Day”, meant a day of remembrance, a day to pay respects to the men who unselfishly gave their lives fighting for freedom, that very freedom that we hold dear, some 148 years later. Since the very first Decoration Day (Memorial Day), there have been World Wars, Vietnam War, wars on terror, etc… There has also been many changes. Changes to this country, changes in time, and sadly the way we as a country, view what’s now today considered Memorial Day. 
The first widely publicized Memorial Day was held on May 1st, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. Together with teachers and residents, African American citizens of Charleston organized a “May Day” ceremony. Nearly 10,000 people gathered to celebrate the fallen soldiers. The day was described as follows:

“This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution”
Then in the North, copying a practice that began in the south. General John A Logan, issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually and nationwide. It was granted and observed, for the first time that year. According to the White House, the date was chosen as the optimal date for flowers to be in bloom. 
Today, Americans have many ways of celebrating Memorial Day. Rolling Thunder is a United States advocacy group that seeks to bring full accountability for POW MIA service members for all U.S. wars. Their main annual event occurs on the Sunday before Memorial Day, in which members make a slow ride on a dedicated, closed off, pre-set route, called Ride to the Wall in Washington D.C., referring to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, also called the Ride for Freedom, which leaves the Pentagon parking lot at noon, crosses the Memorial Bridge, and ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Others will join together at National Cemeteries to praise their fallen fellow Americans by still placing flowers on graves. The President of the United States will take a reef to the Tomb of Unkown Soldiers and address the crowd gathered. The American flag will be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of this nations battle heroes.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Memorial Day (Decoration Day). Whether it be at home with a barbeque, or at the beach with your family and friends. Let us not forget the great men and women who sacrificed their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice for US as Americans, so that we can live a life of happiness and freedom today.
Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all service men and women, past and present!

Steelers Using New Technology at Practice

The newest MVP of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a robot.
The Mobile Virtual Player prevents football players from having to tackle each other during practice — and thus reduces injuries.

By Kim Dunning

The Pittsburgh Steelers have started the pre-season by becoming guinea pigs of the NFL and by using some new technology at their practices.  The new faces you won’t recognize to a point unless you’ve played against tackling dummies in your lifetime.  These new faces are called Mobile Virtual Players or MVP’s.

A little background on the MVP to help you understand how it works.  The MVP weights about 150 pounds, which resembles a real person and can run 40 yards in 5 seconds.  It is battery operated and if used for repetitive drills, the device can last for 2 to 2.5 hours, which is about as a long as a practice runs.  If it is run at its top speed, it will last only about 30 minutes.   To operate the device only takes about 30 minutes of training.

The Steelers initially decided to use these MVP’s to cut down on concussions and injuries in practices.  The MVP is used to simulate a real person.  It can be used in coverage situations as well used for tackling.  So why do the MVP’s make practice safer? With all the concussions in the NFL the past few years and with the release of the movie Concussion, the NFL, players, coaches and owners are looking for safer ways to teach the game of football.  The MVP is perfect for this as it allows players to finish moves on the “dummy” without pulling up, as they have had to do when a real person has been the target of a drill.  Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believes that since the players don’t have to pull up and can finish the drills, the players can improve at their position without risking a pre-season injury.

If the Steelers find success by using the MVP in practice and that translates well onto the field in real game situations without the common injuries we tend to see in the NFL pre-season, you can fully expect the entire NFL to switch over to using the MVP’s at practice to eliminate their star players getting injured and missing a lot of game time.  It should be interesting to keep an eye on the Pittsburgh Steelers in pre-season and throughout the NFL season to see how well using the MVP has helped or harmed them.

Game 6 Preview: Thunders and Warriors

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By Will Stevenson

The narratives of this series are almost perfect. If the Warriors win tonight, on the road, then the we will be right back to where we started; Warriors are great, Steph is great, Westbrook is our of control, and Durant is leaving. This series has provided up with 1.5 good games, the rest have been blowouts. So hopefully tonight, for Game 6, we get a chance to witness something epic.

In Game 6, the Warriors gave everything they had, and it was still a close game. It seems as if the Thunder are the perfect match to dethrone the champs. Their big lineup is “out-big’n” the Warriors, their small lineup is out performing the Warriors’ “lineup of death”, and the Thunder have demonstrated ultimate dominance at home in this series. After watching Lebron and the Cavs strangle the Raptors last night to advance to the finals, Westbrook and Durant should close out the Warriors in the same fashion.

In most playoff elimination games, the hype around each game is usually overblown due to speculation of non-measurable data; such as heart, fight, will, hustle, shot making and foul calls. Remember Thunder vs Spurs last series; Blowout. Remember Raptors vs Heat Game 7; Blowout. Remember Celtics vs Lakers Game 7, Blowout. Blowouts happen all the time, especially when the winning team has the chance to clinch at home. The way road teams have struggled on the road in the playoffs, including the Warriors, tonight’s Game 6 does not bode well for them. We know what the Warriors are capable of, I mean we’ve seen it all year, but in these playoffs, scoring efficiency and consistency has been hard to come by. Curry, Klay, Draymond, Bogut, and Barnes have all been touch and go throughout this series. On the flipside, OKC has shown us what they can do when they are on point, but those 20+ turnover/ non-efficient shooting nights have been offset by their aggressiveness on defense and their determination to get to the rim. The OKC crowd will be in full force, so expect the Thunder to come out aggressive. The way Games 3 and 4 went, OKC may be able to knockout the Warriors in the First Half.

So who will be the x-factor tonight? Adams? Waiters? Used to be Sefolosha? Ibaka? The way Durant and Westbrook shot the ball in Game 5 will probably not happen tonight. I also don’t expect the Warriors to get to the line 30+ times, but you never know with the refs in the playoffs. The Thunder have an opportunity to advance to the Finals, in front of their home fans, and continue the hope of keeping Durant in OKC for the future.

The Warriors have had to work for everything the got in Game 5, and I don’t see any change in Game 6. The Thunder have outplayed them this series, and all they need is to do it one more time.

Warriors by 4

or
Thunder by 24

4-3 vs 3-4 The Great Debate,  by Bob Gurley

As the season gets closer and closer, the debates begin. ‘Which Quarterback will lead the league”, “who’s winning the AFC”, “who’s winning the NFC”, and so on. Now the one debate that always stands out to a defensive minded person is which defense is the better of the two? The 4-3 or the 3-4?

 
For those of you who don’t already know. The 4-3 is the oldest of the two and the defensive scheme that is considered the more standard of the two. It consists of four lineman and three linebackers. In a 4-3 scheme, pressure is mainly generated by the front 4 lineman. One defensive tackle will draw two offensive lineman, generating a one on one scenario for the other three lineman, which will open a hole to seldom send a linebacker blitzing through. The linebackers jobs in a 4-3 is stopping the run and guarding against the pass.

In a 3-4 scheme you’ll have 3 lineman and 4 linebackers. The pressure is mainly created from the line backing Corp in this scheme. The linemen’s jobs are to occupy the gaps and draw multiple offensive lineman each. The outside linebackers have a much greater pass rush responsibility. While you have your middle linebackers to stuff the run. Just the sheer fact that you have two middle linebackers opens up the playbook for some cunning blitzes and coverages. 

Ok, now that’s school is over. Let’s ask the real question here. “Which scheme is the best?” If you ask me, I’ll tell you that the answer to that question depends on the coaching staff and the personnel that you have to work with. The age old answer would be the 4-3. It’s most conventional and has been ran by all teams for years. Only in the 2000’s did teams start to adapt to the 3-4 (you can thank the 2000’s Steelers team for that). If you ask me, the best pass defense in today’s NFL isn’t the secondary. It’s creating the pressure to get to the QB as many times as you can to hit and disrupt him as often as possible. 

Defensive teams that run a 3-4 have shown better stats against the run and pass but only by .5 (per run) and 3.5 (per pass attempt). A teams secondary will only be as good as the pressure their front 7 creates. Whether it be the 3-4 scheme or the 4-3 scheme. None of the stats conclude that one is really “better” than the other, but the stats do show that the 3-4 tends to do bit better of a job of stuffing the run and getting to the Quarterback.

A definite answer may never arise in this age old debate, because both schemes can be successful depending on the personnel and coaching staff. However, one things for sure. With each turn of a new NFL season, you’ll find this debate from passionate defensive fans just the same as you will with the “who’s who?” and “what’s what?” this year.