Why Cleveland “Brocks”

Vincent T. Conroy-Villarreal | @mrconroy2u | AAVSPORT

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Photo courtesy of Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

 

PHOENIX- The first day of the NFL free agency period is now done and dusted. If yesterday serves as an indictment of what is to come for the future of professional football, one would think money grew on trees after seeing just how much wealth was distributed by league executives and owners. At this rate, the NFL shield will no longer be recognized as the world’s most renowned leader in the entertainment business. If the whole money on trees metaphor indeed becomes a reality, the NFL will soon stand as a global leader in horticultural commerce.

As expected, the premier talents of the NFL frolicked to the endless riches of tax-free Florida. Desperate teams in dire need to spark regional interest, snagged headlines by overpaying for career backup quarterbacks in hopes of rejuvenating their fan bases. The selfsame rhetoric continued to control media outlets and television banner scrawls alike as sports writers continued to spill out the same jargon we have listened to for the last five years. The Jaguars’ objective is still going to be tailored on buying a championship despite an yet another organizational leadership change, Bill Belichick continues to be the smartest man in football and the Broncos are pursuing yet another veteran gunslinger to bring them back to glory. It was yet another atypical day in the NFL.

But in all the rumors, the signings and the predictable moves, there was a story that damn near almost broke the internet. Arizona State University product Brock Osweiler, went from Super Bowl 50 Champion, to a prized 72-million-dollar contract, to a quarterback nobody wants. What a year it has been for the man once seen as Peyton Manning’s prodigy. After seeing news of this trade break on Bleacher Report and Twitter, I assumed Kevin Costner was still calling the shots for the Cleveland Browns. At first glance, this trade was very much a “Browns move” and lacked any sort of institutional direction or logic. But after brewing on this for the last day and doing some extensive research of my own, the more it has become apparent to me that this trade by the Browns’ brass was a absolute stroke of genius. The Browns have challenged the traditional and conventional model of winning in the NFL. While every other NFL franchise is spending, the Browns are being uncharacteristically parsimonious.

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Photo Courtesy of CBS Sports

Without question, the Browns’ trade involving Brock Osweiler is perhaps one of the most fascinating deals in NFL history-and one that will prove to be next to impossible to replicate. Since Shashi Brown and Paul DePodesta took charge of assembling the team’s roster in 2016, Cleveland has became a rag-tag team of glorified card counters. They have low-balled offered contracts to free agents, let established players walk out the door, made questionable trades on Draft Day but on the contrary, have assembled draft picks hand over fist. The organizational philosophy the Browns’ are adopted since the duo took over, is the NFL version of Moneyball– the very same tactic that Billie Beane has been utilizing over the last decade with the Oakland Athletics. While it shocked many at first, it comes to no surprise that the Browns have adapted this sort of business model under DePodesta, whose background as a baseball executive is exclusively linked to Beane’s. Whether we will see if he can be just as transcendent as his boss remains to be murky, considering that he is employed by perhaps  the most impatient franchise in NFL history.

Have the Browns become the living embodiment of the Athletics? That remains to be seen since we haven’t seen any tangible results. Remember that the A’s  in the early 2000s were on the cusp of winning championships, where as Cleveland can hardly win a regular season football game. But it cannot be dismissed that the Browns have quietly been hoarding draft picks via the way of trades or free agency over the last two years. Against their fan bases’ well wishes, Brown and DePodesta happily let players like Mitchell Schwartz, Alex Mack, Travis Benjamin and Tashuan Gipson walk out of Cleveland, knowing that compensatory picks would be awarded at the conclusion of the season. So far the move has paid off,  as the Browns have not only been awarded draft selections, but the most cap room any NFL franchise has had in the 24-year history of NFL free agency. A whopping 102-million-dollars is at the Browns’ dispense along and 11 picks in the first six rounds in the draft, including five of the first 65 picks.

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Photo courtesy of Terry Pluto/Plain Dealer

Let’s be clear, The Wizard of Oz is never going to part of the Browns plan. His acquisition was made simply to accrue more selections in the NFL Draft. If they can find a potential trade partner for his services, they could possibly collect even more draft picks. I hate playing hypotheticals here, but if Osweiler had been outright released by the Texans, he would drawn a substantial amount of interest around the league. His resume, while tarnished, is head and shoulders above what is currently available on the free agent market. Given this year’s weak quarterback class, I could have envisioned him receiving yet another top-dollar contract yet again . The Browns stood as one one of the few teams (if not the only team) that could absorb his contract. With that much money at their disposal, biting a part of a 16-million-dollar contract is a theoretical “drop in the bucket” for the Browns. By no means is Osweiler penciled in to be the team’s starting quarterback for the 2017 NFL regular season. But if by chance the Browns’ can’t find a trade suitor, he is one hell of an insurance policy.

In baseball, Moneyball is designed to discover value in an inadequate market. Top-dollar contracts given to unproven commodities can hinder a team’s overall development. Acquisitions like Albert Haynesworth for the Washington Redskins serve as tell tale warning that some things are never as advertised. Contracts like this can literally handcuff a team to salary-cap hell and leave team’s stuck with players they no longer want. After a fallout with the coaching staff in the later stages of 2016, Brock and the Texans were facing the same situation. The Browns closely monitored this strained relationship and took advantage of an inadequate of a desperate Texan party. Houston jettisoned their failure at quarterback and got 10 millions in pay roll. They Browns expedited the divorce process and landed Osweiler. As an reward for their services, they ended up getting a  second round pick out of the deal. While the Browns didn’t acquire their quarterback of the future, Brown and DePodesta added more assets they can someday package in order to get the one they are really sold on.

In all seriousness, the Osweiler trade while comical to a certain degree, gives a strong indication about where the Browns are heading. Are they contenders for an NFL title? No, not at all-but they are closer than most thing. Stock piling picks is smart considering that Belichick has been doing this for years in New England. You can build a strong foundation of players to build around while giving you the liberty to make considerable and logical trades on Draft Day. By either the virtue of another poor season or packaging a trade, the Browns’s are in contention to obtain the first overall selection in next year’s draft. Cleveland’s brass is telling the whole world they are in the business of acquiring the services of Sam Darnold, the rising quarterback from the University of Souther California.

While draft capital can’t throw a Hail Mary pass or make a shoe string tackle, the Browns’ are making the right decisions for the first time in a long time. Sure the Dog Pound hasn’t had much to cheer about in Charlie Frye was their starting quarterback, but Brown and DePodesta have the Browns “Brocking”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Trevor Siemian is the Savior

Vincent T. Conroy-Villarreal @mrconroy2u AAVSPORT

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Photo courtesy of Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports

 

PHOENIX- With the NFL Combine concluding in the upcoming days and free agency set to commence, the Denver Broncos, after being forced to sit from the sidelines in their championship defense, will look to reload this offseason with expectations being mile high.

Against popular conception, general manager John Elway has very few holes to address before training camp. His free agency shopping list should be relatively small, addressing only absolute needs at offensive guard and the defensive tackle positions during the free agency legal tampering period. Ideally, his focus should be concentrated on targeting depth across the entire offensive unit in the upcoming draft. Don’t be fooled, if Elway can reconstruct the offensive line, the Broncos’ Super Bowl window is still theoretically wide open. Even after Manning’s and Kubiak’s retirement along with Wade Phillip’s dismissal, the Broncos remain to be New England’s lone kryptonite in the American Football Conference.

Even with management’s decision to not pick up Russel Okung’s four-year option, the collective talent of the offensive line remains to be skeletal at best with no heir apparent in place at the left tackle position. Elway’s offseason moves will prove to be critical not only for the longevity of the Broncos title window with an elite defense aging, but for his drafting ability as well. Elway has gotten the benefit of the doubt at evaluating talent with his defensive selections, but picks like Monte Ball, Michael Scholfield and Cody Latimer have been lackluster and borderline bust worthy at best. While his 2017 offseason tasks prove to be predictable and sensible for the most part, Elway’s upcoming decision on the quarterback position proves to be just as unpredictable as the Colorado weather.

Even though the prognosis of the Broncos’ inability to make the playoffs lies on the shoulders of inadequate offensive line play and the inability to stop the run on defense, most Bronco faithful feel that an upgrade at the quarterback position is warranted after missing the postseason for the first time since 2011.  Spanning over the last five years, the Broncos have won 67 regular season games, which is tied for second-most in the NFL over that period. However, when anyone outside of Peyton Manning has been the signal caller for the Broncos, no quarterback has won more than nine games in a season over the last ten years. Jay Cutler (2006) and Trevor Siemian (2016) are the only quarterbacks to surpass the.500 mark since 2004, when Jake Plummer lead the Broncos all the way to the AFC Championship game.

According to Mile High Report, Tony Romo is still a top target for the Denver Broncos and speculation remains that Trevor Siemian will be traded to either the Buffalo Bills or the San Francisco 49ers. The 49er trade seems plausible with new head coach Kyle Shanahan implementing an offensive scheme similar too Gary Kubiak’s. Paired with Colin Kapernick opting out of his current contract, the 49ers are in desperate need of a veteran quarterback that has seen a substantial amount of playing time. While even though I agree that Romo is arguably a huge upgrade at the quarterback position in Denver, I strongly feel that Siemian is the best option for the Broncos moving forward.

While Tony Romo is a 37-year-old quarterback that is on the back side of his career, he has been unable to string together a clean bill of health over the last three seasons. While he is 16-5 in all competitions over the last four years, the four-time pro bowler’s best chance to win his first Super Bowl ring as a starting quarterback most likely resides with the Denver Broncos.  If Denver wants to capitalize on Romo’s diminishing abilities and go all in again on a championship run, he is perhaps the most viable upcoming option available on the free agent market.

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Photo courtesy of Pro Football Reference

However, Romo remains to be only a stop gap, short-term solution until the Broncos find a long-term answer to their revolving quarterback carousel. Over the last ten years, only two franchises have won a championship with free agent quarterback acquisitions. Drew Brees and Peyton Manning prove to be the outliers to this assessment. Another concern I have with the Broncos bringing in Romo is his health concerns. While Manning had looming, medical concerns coming into Denver, Romo has outright been unable to prove he can stay consistently healthy throughout his entire career.

Three back surgeries, ankle surgeries and a shattered collarbone has limited his physical abilities and as an elder statesman at the position, I question his durability behind Denver’s current offensive line. Manning will go down as one perhaps one of the best to quarterbacks to play in the NFL. It was a calculated decision as free agents of that capacity are usually never available outside of Reggie White, his acquisition will go down as one the best in NFL history. The same cannot be said for Romo impending free agency tour. These concerns should prompt the Broncos brass to seriously consider all of their options, including the ones they currently have on their roster.

Trevor Siemian, the seventh-round Northwestern product played exceptionally well in his first year of starting in the NFL. While he only finished 27th according to Pro Football Focus, he finished 21st in total QBR with an 84.6 mark, threw for 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.  He performed well for a quarterback with low expectations set forth for him from management. When given a clean pocket, he showed the poise necessary to win games in the NFL. While Siemian is limited as a passer, Denver’s offensive unit regressed in Gary Kubiak’s second year at the helm of calling the plays. When CJ Anderson injured his knee against the Texans and was lost for the remainder of the season, the Broncos offense became dependent and predictable on the one-two punch abilities of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. With little to no tight end production since the departure of Juluis Thomas, Denver’s red zone efficiency has dwindled to one of the least productive units in the NFL. Compared to the 2015 and 2016 season, the offense without question took a step back. However, the quarterback play took a quantum leap forward from a statistical standpoint.

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Photo courtesy of Pro Football Reference 

His Pro Bowl alternate invitation and captaincy nod should speak volumes to how the locker room values the third-year player. Prior to his week four non-throwing shoulder injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (which hindered him for the rest of the regular season), Siemian shined in a road victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. Even with a reshuffled offensive line, Siemian made NFL history by winning in his first career road start in dramatic fashion. Completing 25-32 passes for four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a near-perfect 132.1 quarterback rating, Siemian had the Broncos primed for what seemed like another postseason run.

Unfortunately, his grade-three shoulder injury proved to be more severe than what was expected when Siemian opted for surgery on Jan. 5. Whether the Bronco medical staff acknowledged the extent of Siemian’s injury at the time remains to be seen but regardless, Siemian started in 14 games for the Broncos and earned the respect of his teammates while playing injured throughout the entirety of the season. At the end of the season, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, discovered more damage than originally thought while executing the procedure on Jan. 5 in Los Angeles.

The extent of this injury without question will affect Siemian’s offseason. With a new coaching staff in place, his offseason immersion into the offense will more than likely be given to the incumbent backup and 2016 first-round selection, Paxton Lynch. Also, if Denver is likely trying to find a trade suitor for Siemian, his injury proposes an issue, considering he is now “damaged goods” that likely won’t be ready for full contact until the beginning of the season.

Outside of Siemian’s injury, his season from a statistical standpoint, his tangible upside and status in the locker room perhaps has validated his right to be the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. His performance created a dilemma for Elway that he did not foresee. However, the elephant in the room that no one has assessed is the fact that Romo is still under contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Without question, Dallas and Jerry Jones, who has a strong personal connection with Romo, wants to get fair compensation for Romo’s services. Jones affection for his long time signal caller very well could hinder his likelihood of being released. If Jones wants value for the Eastern Illinois product, he likely would want fair trade value for Romo’s services. Dallas has all the leverage in this deal.

Furthermore, with a little over 40 million dollars available to spend towards the cap space, Denver would have to likely force Romo to take a substantial pay cut to accommodate the other needs this team has. Paying for a player of Romo’s qualities does not simply make sense. It is a luxury decision and the Broncos can invest that money in other areas. Right now, Romo is due to make 14 million dollars this year on his current contract with the Cowboys, with that number to increase as high as 20 million next year. Based on numbers provided by Over The Cap, Trevor Siemian makes more sense for the Broncos based on an economic stand point. Not only his he cheap, but his return value is invaluable.

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Photo courtesy of OTC

While Trevor Siemian is not the most glorious or sexiest option for the Broncos, he is the logical choice for the team for the foreseeable future until Paxton Lynch is prepared to take over the reins.  While the Mile-High City has always been recognized by its spectacular defense and electric quarterback play, the likes of Elway and Manning has spoiled. Siemian may not be the quarterback we want, but he is the quarterback Denver deserves. Trevor Siemian is the Savior.

Dallas Buyers Club

Vincent T. Conroy-Villarreal @mrconroy2u– AAVSPORT

He’ll Be Back- But With Who?

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Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

PHOENIX- When the Dallas Cowboys’ season abruptly came to a conclusion after their heartbreaking playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs, perhaps the most gripping and intriguing storyline developed: The Romo Radar.

While there are some in NFL circles that still believe the longtime signal caller could theoretically stick around with the organization- there are plenty of individuals that feel Tony Romo’s time with the club has reached its resolution. With a plethora of development quarterbacks flooding this year’s NFL Draft and with no clear-cut legitimate “face of the franchise” signal caller available for selection, Romo could very well be an intriguing option for numerous teams that are either in the transition of contending for an NFL title or looking for the theoretical last and final piece to the puzzle.

Romo holds a 16-5 record in all contests over the last three years of playing time. The argument can be made that over the last three years, this stretch was the most consistent string of play for the long-time Dallas signal caller. However chronic back, collar bone and rib injuries also saw Romo miss at least one start for the fourth consecutive season from 2012-16. His inability to remain healthy forced longtime owner and general manager Jerry Jones to explore the eventual replacement of Romo- eying Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch in the 2016 NFL Draft. When Denver snagged Lynch with the 26th pick in the NFL Draft via a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, Jones settled on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

The rest is a well chronicled timeline of Romo’s fall  from grace with the Cowboy organization. NFL quarterback breakups are never quite what it seems. Often, it’s a messy divorce where animosity and bad blood between ownership and the coaching staff develops. Furthermore, it can divide fanbases and create a rift in the ever so necessary “trust” between fans and team alike. Jones’ role with the team’s brass only complicates things even further. Organizational breakups with star quarterbacks like  Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre serve as recent reminders how complicated this process truly is. Usually the veteran quarterback wants to land with a team that can allow him to cement his legacy while the organization, wants some sort of return in their long-term investment.

What the Cowboys want to do with Romo remains highly unclear. By all means, Jerry Jones has never been transparent with his decisions in regards to player personnel. His release of Demarcus Ware was unheralded and unprecedented. Romo has always been Jones’ “guy” considering that he himself found the Eastern Illinois product as undrafted free agent in 2003. Jones even publicly stated in 2006 offseason that Romo’s value to the team was at minimum, a second round draft pick after New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton offered a third-round draft back for Romo’s services. Jerry Jones in my eyes will always be an advocate for his star quarterback.

At the tender age of 36, Romo no longer carries that sort of value anymore. His services by all means will be short-term answer, making him more attractive to teams with closing championship window. Peyton Manning was lured to Denver as a free agent acquisition while Brett Favre, was acquired by the New York Jets via a fourth-round draft pick. By no means is Romo any where near that level of caliber of quarterback play, but there is an established  value for him considering this year’s free agent market is mediocre and the lack of quarterback talent in the upcoming draft is highly concerning. The question becomes, who will join the Dallas Buyers Club this offseason?

THE OBVIOUS ANSWER AND ONLY ANSWER

Denver Broncos

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Photo by Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

Tony Romo’s desire to play for the Denver Broncos next season has by far been one of the most well chronicled storylines to take hold of the NFL since the beginning of December. After the defending Super Bowl 50 champions failed to return to the playoffs after a 4-0  start to the season, largely due to a struggling and inept offensive scheme, the Broncos have now undergone a complete institutional makeover after Gary Kubiak’s retirement from coaching. Even if Kubiak remained with the team, adding Romo still made sense for the Broncos.

Vance Joseph was appointed Head Coach of the Denver Broncos on Jan. 11, 2017. Shortly afterwards, Joseph brought in ex-San Diego Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy to coordinate his offense while also bringing in Oakland’s offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to coach the quarterbacks. This move was highly applauded around the league and was seen as a calculated power move by Joseph. By bringing in perhaps two of the most versatile and flexible offensive minds, Joseph can either microwave Paxton Lynch’s development or continue to cater an offensive system around Trevor Siemian’s skill set.

Trevor Siemian currently is the incumbent starter for the Denver Broncos. Without question he is well respected by his teammates, his peers and coaches around the league. In his first full year of starting, the Northwestern alum threw for 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 14 starts. Only three of his games were played in complete health as he battled shoulder and ankle injuries throughout the season. After burdening much of the offensive load for most of the season, Siemian earned a Pro Bowl alternate invitation but unfortunately had to decline due to offseason non-throwing shoulder surgery.

Siemian’s situation only complicates matters for the Broncos’ brass. With Kubiak’s retirement along with Rick Dennison’s and Greg Knapp’s dismissal from the team, Siemian’s largest advocates no longer have a role within the organization. By all accounts, John Elway seems ready to push Lynch into the starting lineup and into stardom.

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Photo by Steve Nehf/The Denver Post

However Siemian’s performances indicate that he should still be considered as the starter and rightfully so. If Siemian is named the starter at the beginning of the 2017 season, its points to an absolute failure of Denver’s coaching staff to develop Lynch’s raw and immeasurable talent into sustained consistency. Then again it would also dictate where the Broncos organization is headed and that is by all means-winning championships. With Lynch as the hypothetical starter for Denver, the Broncos are sending a clear and concise message that they are rebuilding and not rebooting.

John Elway’s recent photograph with Romo at House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s victory party, only added more fuel to the fire that Denver is interested in Romo’s services. Was there a conversation? It’s highly doubtful since Romo is still under contract with Dallas, but who knows what happened behind closed doors. WIth players like Emmanuel Sanders and Demarcus Ware making subtle pushes for Romo’s services, it’s clear from an “outside looking in” perspective that there is some sort of locker room divide about who should play under center for the upcoming season.

Romo’s transition would almost be seamless for Denver from an X’s and O’s standpoint. Scott Linehan’s one-back  offensive philosophy is similar to McCoy’s. His offensive scheme is actaully dated back to Jack Elway’s, John Elway’s father’s, offensive principles. The play action pass is a staple in both Linehan’s and McCoy’s system, theoretically meaning the terminology would be the only point of emphasis.

The only concerns Denver would have is the re-negotiation of his contract and of course- his health. Denver just got Manning off the books for 20 million dollars a year after the Sheriff decided to retire at the conclusion of the Broncos Super Bowl run. Is Elway really comfortable giving that sort of money out again to an aging, banged up veteran? Precedent states that he is. Elway has a history of negotiating reduction clauses in player contracts, only to have players earn the money back in the form of incentives. In 2015, Elway and Manning agreed on 4 million dollar reduction to his salary, only to see Manning earn that money back if Denver won the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl.  So theoretically, the same thing can happen with Romo.

Adding Romo sends the message that Broncos are contending for a world championship in 2017. As Ware alluded to earlier this week, the addition of Romo will not only send a message to the team and respective fanbase- but to the entire league. The ripples of Romo’s addition would not be a simple stone thrown in a shallow pond. It would be resounding wave that would crash on the New England shoreline. The Broncos would be a legitimate and for threat again for contending for championships  by adding a veteran quarterback. The harsh reality remains that  Denver still has other holes to address. Reconstructing the team’s offensive line should remain the team’s largest priority. Remember this was a team that only collected 18 rushing yards against the Titans, 33 rushing yards against the Raiders, and allowed 6 sacks against the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.

What will Denver do at the quarterback position? It is any one’s best guess at this point. But for now, Denver seems to be genuinely interested about Romo’s services as the right price. It may now have the same result as Manning, but it extends Denver’s Super Bowl aspirations for another four years. Count the Broncos to be a buyer in the Dallas Buyers Club.

 

 

Rocktober Act III- Are the Rockies a Playoff Team?

By Vincent Conroy-Villarreal @mconroy2u , AAV Sports

DENVER, Colo. (August 3, 2016)- With the Rockies winning the first bout in their three game stretch against their hated division rival the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mile High based ballclub has increased their post All-Star Game cumulative record to 13-5. This mark is good for second-best in baseball and has the Rockies sitting just three and half games back in the National League Wild Card Race. After choosing not to be either buyers or sellers at the trade deadline earlier this week, the Rockies seem to be content with the roster they have assembled up to this point. Disappointed or not with the decision,  it seems that general manager Jeff Bridich has finally assembled a team (along with a winning identity) that can bring consistent success. Rockeis JB

The days of the Rockies being most recognized by the general public as the Blake Street Bombers seems to be a forgone conclusion. For the last half-decade, Colorado has been a punchline for describing  a sporting catastrophe. With fans and local media alike revolting against the Monfort ownership, it was hard to imagine a team with so much offensive talent ever sniffing the playoffs again. Hell, the only good thing coming out of Coors Field was the late night orange sunsets that served as the prelude for things to come for Denver sporting faithful. Football season was on the near horizon

The Troy Tulowitzki era has been dropped like a bad habit and the fact that Todd Helton is no longer in the argument of being the best player the Rockies ever selected thanks to Nolan Arenado‘s development into of the most gifted third basemen in the last 15 years, points that for once the Colorado Rockies are no longer living in the past. Perhaps for at least this year, the Rockies are finally a team that has balance from their bullpen to the boys running the day-to-day operations upstairs. Perhaps this team will no longer be recognized for its organizational dysfunction. It is paramount to understand that the Rockies internally believe that this roster can win. Not just now, but in the future as well. It’s why neither CF Charlie Blackmon nor OF Carlos Gonzalez was traded at the deadline. Perhaps if the Rockies were in this position a year ago, Tulo would still be onCARGO AND CHARLIE.png the roster. But good management doesn’t make moves or trade away its greatest assets if it doesn’t beleive it can’t contend.

This year, the Rockies can contend. Perhaps by either an extreme amount of luck or by a stroke of managerial genius by Walt Weiss,  the Rockies are about ready to become good. Pennant winner good in my opinion. Take notice, this home game series against the Dodgers is huge. Without question, it is the biggest homestand for Colorado since the 2010 season. After years of being dumpster dwellers in the National League West, the Rockies seemed to have found new life largely because of their pitching success. This type of pitching success from the Rockies is as rare as the air found at 5,280 feet. Buy and large, it’s not the offensive production that has the Rockies at .500 at this point in the season, it’s the pitching.

Pitching efforts from John Gray (8-4), Logan Boone, and the Rockies’ extraordinary farm system, has the team winning in ways never found before. In July the Rockies won 15 games which tied the club record set in the 2009 season. Coincidentally that year was the last time the club made the playoffs. A youth movement in the pitching department has translated to Colorado owning 56 quality starts from pitchers. Last year for the entire season, Rockies pitchers rounded up only 54. Pitching has made an indescribable difference this year and it’s obviously showing in the record book. But with every good bit of news, there is always a shred of bad news which could severely alter the season.

With news filtering to AAVSports earlier today, it seems that rookie sensation SS Trevor Story is set to missed the remainder of the season for the Rockies with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Story so far this season set an NL shortstop rookie record with 27 homeruns this season paralleled with a .272 batting average and 72 RBIs compiled.john gray This loss his huge but there is a shred of hope that he could possibly return for the post-season. In light of today’s news, the Rockies have recalled infielder Rafeal Ynoa from Triple-A Albuquerque. In his career, Ynoa has a posted a batting average .282, but has lacked consisted power to drive the ball out of the ballpark. Weiss also reported earlier today that 1B Daniel Descalso will also fill in the void left by Story. By all accounts, Descalso is having a career year with Colorado and should theoretically fill in the talent gap. While releasing Jose Reyes was the correct move the franchise to make, maybe the Rockies should have explored every option prior to the transaction. Granted, Reyes was a makeshift player added  to the Tulo Deal in order to Toronto to absorb Tulowitzki’s contract, but a player of his caliber would be a fine addition in the lineup with Story set to miss the remainder of the regular season.

Injuries is nothing new to the Rockies, considering the franchise has been plagued drastically by them over the last five years. But with health, offensive fire power, and now pitching all in the Rockies corner for the 2016 season, perhaps they can make some noise this fall. With the Giants stumbling and the Dodgers losing Clayton Kershaw for an extended period of time due to injury, the Rockies’ opportunity is now. The organization won’t get a better opportunity than this.  I love the fall but since 2007 and 2009, every single one of them has had something missing. It is a long season and a lot can go wrong, but based on precedent, the Rockies are headed in the right direction. As a fan, I am happy for this team. It feels like finally management has got everything sewn together.This team has an identity and a clear direction on where the franchise wants to be in the near future. They may just simply be .500 ballclub right now, but I believe in Mile High Magic. I believe in Rocktober. The Rockies will make the postseason, mark my words.

 

Should the USMNT Sack Jurgen Klinsmann?

Should the USMNT Brass Sack Klinsmann?

By Vincent Conroy-Villarreal @mrconroy2u , AAV Sports

DENVER, Colo. (June 28, 2016)- After yet another disappointing tournament exit for the
United States Mens National Team, reports have surfaced that manager Jürgen Klinsmann’s job security could be in jeopardy after Saturday’s 1-0 loss in the third place match against Columbia at the 2016 Copa America. To support these rumors, Klinsmann is supposedly developing a contingency plan of his own and has told those in his camp that he is seriously considering accepting the appointment of the vacant manager position at Premier League Club Southampton after Ronald Koeman departed the Saints earlier this month to take charge of Everton.

Germany v USA - International Friendly

With the United States’ team clearly failing to adopt the German’s philosophical possession based approach,  American supporters have grown impatient with the manager’s failures to provide signature results at marquee tournaments. Paired with a deficient youth development program instilled by Klinsmann himself, the United States side looks lost, out of form, and disinterested on a consistent basis. With reports coming in from USA Today, Klinsmann has been listed at 1-3 odds from London bookmakers to join the Hampshire based English club earlier this morning. Two days before the USA’s scheduled match against Columbia, he was listed at just 40-1 to odds to return back to managing at the club level.

Since Klinsmann was introduced as the manager of the USMNT squad in 2011, there is no denying that his results have been inconsistent. While many of his accomplishments have reaped high praise and huge rewards for the USMNT team, many of these results have been unfairly considered as “tangible tasks”from supporters of the red, white, and blue. While he has progressed popularity of the sport stateside, I like countless other supporters still feel that there is some sort of separation from both the players on the pitch and the manager. Ever since Bob Bradley was axed, Klinsmann’s appointment has been received with lukewarm reception. There seems to be no middle ground and I am here to explore the harsh reality that perhaps despite public desire to see him sacked, he is the right man for the job.

The Glaring Failures in Klinsmann’s Philosophy

To better understand Klinsmann’s failures with the United States, an avid football follower can explore the pressing issues in his philosophical approach. There is no denying that whether it has been at his stops with the German National Team or with Bayern Munich, Klinsmann has always been a huge believer of integrating and promoting players from the development youth squad into the starting eleven on the pitch. When he was appointed manager of Germany in 2004, he selected eight players under the age of 21 that would later be a part of the 2006 World Cup Team. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Philipp Lahm were amongst those promoted who would later play an instrumental role in Germany claiming their fourth World Cup Trophy in 2014. Through this analysis it is evident that Klinsmann has a history of making long-term investments.

Outside of being enamored with developing younger talent another knock on the Baden-Württemberg native is that Klinsmann, regardless of where he has managed, has always rotated goalkeepers regardless of form. The only anomaly to this practice was at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Future Colorado Rapids GK and former Everton standout Tim Howard commanded the net for the entirety of the tournament. 451270456-head-coach-jurgen-klinsmann-of-the-united-states-reacts-crop-promo-mediumlargeWhile player rest is prescribed in football, not all managers practice this method at the goalkeeping position. The problem with this sort of philosophy is that it prevents any sort of defensive consistency and command for the backline. Furthermore, each goalkeeper has different tendencies when it comes to ball placement on goal kicks which may not seem like a big issue in the grand scheme of things, but actually plays a huge role in varying attacking philosophies.

These two philosophical approaches ultimately have plagued Klinsmann’s troubled tenure at the helm of the United States. While the youth development program has clearly taken more time than anticipated, it seems to be a growing concern. Most of the United States’ current starts like Howard, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, Kyle Beckerman, and Michael Bradley are all aging footballers nearing the twilight of their international careers. A change of colors is long overdue at numerous positions and the failure to fully integrate players from the youth squad falls solely on shoulders of Klinsmann. Naturally, I am inclined to give Klinsmann the benefit of the doubt on this matter, but I can no longer compartmentalize that this problem will be taken care of by World Cup qualifiers.

FBL-WC-2018-USA-GUA

As a journalist and avid follower of European football, I understand that these things do require years of investment, scouting, and training in order to prepare  American players to face a far greater quality of talent found in Europe and South America. But as a supporter of the USMNT, I find this theory hypocritical. If Klinsmann is a true believer of youth integration, then players like Jones and Dempsey would be reduced to lesser roles. Instead they are still part of the starting eleven because players like Bobby Wood, Christian Pulisic, and Jordan Morris are still very raw from a fundamental standpoint. Youth integration and development was one of the primary reasons why Klinsmann left one of America’s favorite sons Landon Donovan off the 2014 World Cup squad, ushering in a early retirement for Donovan and a sudden dissatisfaction with Klinsmann’s managerial decisions from supporters.  Truley it is a great American travesty that there is such few silverware shared between all of USMNT senior players. Regardless, if the youth development was truly working, Klinsmann could be able to in theory increase numerous senior player careers.

Klinsmann is Here to Stay

Despite my harsh criticism of the manager’s philosophy, I still remain one of his greatest supporters. While this piece is obviously opinion based, these selected issues are really the only things during his tenure that bothers me.In all reality, Klinsmann is a world class manager that creates a blueprint for success that can be carried on bn-db661_klinsc_gr_20140603185454for years to come, reagardless on who replaces him. Look no further than the German national side to test this theory. This is achieved through the investment and utilization of the youth academy. Where Klinsmann has succeeded in comparison to his predecessors, is that he has explored youth talent outside the United States borders. While that may irk nationalistic fans, he is really left with no other choice. Up until recently, there has virtually been no American based talent worth investing in the previous five years. Remember Freddy Adu? That’s perhaps the only name that can come to mind in recent memory and we all know how his career panned out. 

Ultimately this roster has the talent to crack the elimination round each and every major tournament. If he is let go, any coach that replaces him would likely replicate the same type of success Klinsmann has achieved in his five years at the helm. But there is a great chance any other coach that comes in could potentially derail everything he has accomplished up to this point. The same problems that plague club teams often extend to national sides as well during a coaching change. The problem with USA football does not lie in philosophical approaches or management personalities. It lies in a lack of both quality and quantity of football talent alike. Furthermore, the main reason why America struggles in football is because from a cultural standpoint, the value we invest in the sport is no where near the level like Spain, Germany, or Argentina.

American Society has huge expectations for its sports teams. Success is engrained into our culture, which is why it continues to make our nation the greatest nation on Earth. However this cultural prerogative is detrimental for the development of American football. Like Colin Cowherd stated in Dec. of 2015-

We don’t have realistic expectations. United States soccer wants Alabama football results but doesn’t have any five star athletes. Look at the top 50 players in the world- they are not our players. You can have coaching all you want but what you really need players and that is the one thing USA simply doesn’t have”

Unfortunately, Klinsmann is left with average talent and is tasked to fulfill insurmountable tasks. You can object all you want with Klinsmann’s policy to integrate players into the squad outside the United States. But most large, multi-billion dollar companies in the United States are doing the same thing. They continue to outsource domestic jobs to international talents because the local product simply isn’t good enough. But then again we as a society complain about that too, citing that it’s unfair to taxpaying American citizens. Here’s the deal, if you want Untied States Football to be relevant assist in the cause and embrace Klinsmann. We simply won’t find another coach of his qualities again if we decide to move on.

 

Touchdown Tuesday: Denver Broncos Fantasy Football Projections

Denver, Colo. (June 27, 2016)- Tonight AAV Sports is continuing their AFC West prospective outlook for next season. Next up on the dock for fantasy analyzation is the Denver Broncos offensive unit. Perhaps no unit in the NFL in the last two years has experienced more offensive turnover from a philosophical standpoint than Denver’s. After their record setting offense rewrote the record books, Adam Gase‘s high octane spread offense that scored 606 points in 2013 was traded in for Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s widezone West Coast approach. For Broncos fans, it was like trading in a Ferrari for a Geo Metro. While Bronco fans can’t argue with the end result it was painful to watch . Often times, it was sore on the eyes and was difficult to observe one of the NFL’s best all-time signal callers struggle in an offensive system that did not best suit his diminishing talents.

With a change at the head of the football operations we all understood that for Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, there would be setbacks in Kubiak’s offensive scheme. The Sheriff was in the twilight of his career and was dealing with prolonged health issues that continued to sap the gunslinger of some of his best attributes. With his arm strength practically inexistent, Manning struggled to adapt once his accuracy began to disappear . What we as analysts  didn’t envision was such a steep dropoff in that short of a timeframe. 3000While only starting nine games for the Broncos in 2015, Manning proved to be inconsistent for Denver. In 2015 the 18-year veteran posted a career low nine touchdowns paired with an NFL best 17 interceptions . After scoring 55 touchdowns in 2013 and 39 in 2014, it was mind-boggling to see Manning have the season he did.

Broncos fans will no longer have to ponder if Manning can fit in Kubiak’s offense any longer. Manning chose to retire one month after the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 victory in San Francisco and left Denver with a huge hole to fill after winning four AFC West Championships, two AFC Championships, and one Super Bowl victory. Some franchises are forced to spend a lifetime of trying to replace lesser legends than Manning at the quarterback position, making Denver’s situation far more problematic. While his physical abilities obviously hindered the Broncos offense, his leadership will be greatly missed. To put it in laymen terms, I would rather have Peyton Manning’s brain in a jar behind center than the replacement Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway hand picked as Manning’s replacement. Elway traded for Mark Sanchez of the Philadelphia Eagles on March 11, 2016 and Broncos fans will be left to see if he can rekindle the magic he produced for the Jets in 2009 and 2010.

Mark Sanchez, while only viewed as a temporary replacement for the Broncos after they selected Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, does fit what Kubiak wants to do offensively from a philosophical standpoint. Elway and Kubiak are essentially asking Sanchez to follow the s635978030923454798-ap-broncos-sanchez-football-81601883ame formula Rex Ryan concocted during New York’s back-to-back AFC Championship appearances. With a strong run game behind Denver’s newly furnished offensive line, most of the pressure will not be squarely burdened on the shoulders of the eight-year veteran out of Southern California. Paired ceremoniously with one of the best defenses ever constructed in NFL history, it could theoretically work. To ensure victories for the Broncos, Sanchez will have to limit the amount turnovers that has notoriously plagued him for the entirety of his career.

Because of his high turnover rate, it will be intriguing to see if Sanchez can win the starting job this season. Reports from minicamp have surfaced that both Sanchez and second-year quarterback Trevor Siemain are both “neck and neck” for consideration for the starting job. Siemain, with a full bill of health heading into this year,  has a full season under his belt in Kubiak’s system. While Sanchez has roots in the West Coast offense going back to his days at USC, the terminology is vastly different in comparison. If Sanchez can not shake of the rust off in a reasonable timeframe, this could greatly benefit the former Northwestern standout chances at securing the starting gig. It speaks volumes that while Manning was nursing an injury a year ago, that Denver chose to keep Siemain as Brock Osweiler’s backup throughout the seven game stretch. It will be interesting to see who Gary Kubiaks chooses to suit up as the starting quarterback in the season-opening game against Carolina on Sept. 8th.

Broncos Offensive Statistics from 2015

  • Record 12-4
  • 1st in AFC West Division 
  • Scored 355 points (22.2 ppg) which was good for 19th overall

Offensive Coordinator- Rick Dennison (2nd year, 13th year total with Denver)

Quarterbacks Coach- Greg Knapp (4th year)

 

 

Offensive Leaders

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Projections

When averaging five of the eligible player’s last statistically reasonable seasons, AAV Sports projects the expected output fantasy football fans can expect from the selected leaders of the Broncos. Rookies from the previous year will not be accounted for. Ex. Trevor Siemian

Quarterback Mark Sanchez– Attempts 435, Completions 245, Completion Percentage 56.7, Yards 2,902, Touchdowns 16, Interceptions 16.

Running Back Ronnie Hillman– Attempts 90, Yards 469, Average 4.1 yards, 3 Touchdowns, Receptions 14, Yards 86, 0 Touchdowns

Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas– Receptions 100, Yards, 1246 yards, 8 Touchdowns.

Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders– Receptions 72, Yards 976, 4 Touchdowns

Tight end Jeff Heuerman– Receptions 42, Yards 435, 2 Touchdowns.

Broncos Defensive Stats from 2015

  • Allowed 296 points ( 18.5 ppg) which was good for 4th overall
  • 14 interceptions
  • 20 forced fumbles

Defensive Coordinator- Wade Phillips (2nd year, 8th year total with Denver)

Key Losses

 

Touchdown Tuesday: Kansas City Fantasy Football Projections

Continuing from last night’s blog, AAV Sports is still profiling the AFC West prospective outlook for the upcoming 2016-17 season. Yesterday, AAV Sports and DraftDaddyV profiled the Chiefs 2016 Rookie Class and will furthermore analyze what to expect from the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense next season for fantasy football implications. We have simulated the Chiefs offensive projections through our own database in order to predict who might be worth taking in the early rounds of your upcoming fantasy draft. Even though football action is still seven full weeks away, it’s never too early to prepare for this upcoming season.

Chiefs Offensive Statistics from 2015

  • Record 11-5
  • 2nd in AFC West Division 
  • Scored 405 points (25.3 ppg) which was good for 9th overall

Offensive Coordinator- Doug Pederson (Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles)

Spread Game Analysts- Brad Childress

Offensive Leaders

Stats

 

Projections

When averaging five of the eligible players last statistically reasonable seasons, AAV Sports projects the expected output fantasy football fans can expect from the selected leaders of the Chiefs. Rookies from the previous year will not be accounted for. Ex. Charcandrick West

Quarterback Alex Smith: Attempts 446, Completions 279, Completion Percentage 62.5 percent, Yards 3,314, Touchdowns 18, Interceptions 7.

Running back Jamaal Charles: Attempts 234, Yards 1,283, Average 5.52 yards, Touchdowns 8 , Receptions 46, Receiving yards 397, Touchdowns 3.

Wide Receiver Jeremy Maclin– Receptions 75, Yards 1,021, Touchdowns 8.

Tight End Travis Kelce– Receptions 70, Yards 868, Touchdowns 5

Chiefs Defensive Statistics from 2015

  • Allowed 287 points (17.9 ppg) which was good for 3rd overall
  • 22 interceptions
  • 12 forced fumbles

Defensive Coordinator: Bob Sutton