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Hot Takes Blog

  • 1. Evan Engram is an elite tight end and we all need to recognize it.  After his rookie year, Engram was clearly on all of our radars as a legit weapon in that Giants offense. But after a tough sophomore season people jumped off the bandwagon of the former first rounder from Ole Miss. The offense last year didn’t seem capable of supporting anything more than all-world receiver, OBJ, and rookie sensation Saquon Barkley. Engram was the odd man out, last season, but with OBJ in Cleveland, Barkley out for a significant amount of time and Danny Dimes under center, Evan is poised to thrust himself into the elite tight end conversation. Unlike Kelce, Ertz, and Kittle, Engram hasn’t been the first option on his team up until this season and guess what? He’s been proving he can handle the load that comes with it. Just take a look at the numbers 3 weeks in, he’s making a case right now that he’s the best tight end in the league, but I won’t go there quite yet.    Evan Engram: 23 rec, 277 yards, and 2 TDs Travis Kelce: 17 rec, 284 yards, and 1 TDs Zach Ertz (4 Games): 24 rec, 255 yards, 0 TDs George Kittle: 17 rec, 165 yards, 0 TD   I know it’s a small sample size, and guys like Mark Andrews and Darren Waller have had a really good year so far, but none of them look like Engram when their running routes, not even the consensus elite guys. It’s pretty crazy, but if you squint your eyes and watch that 75 yard TD run he had against the Bucs you would think you’re watching a highlight of Odell Beckham Jr. from last season. I look at the weapons that Daniel J. Dimes has without Barkley in the back field and I think he’s going to consistently look to #88 as his safety blanket, first option, deep threat and red zone target.    Mark my words, come the end of this season we will be mentioning Evan Engram as an elite tight end, print the shirts.    2. Patrick Mahomes II is perfect.    You know it, I know it, we all know it. Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes II is the most entertaining quarterback in the NFL, and for the most part he’s must watch T.V. (Granted he’s not playing the Dolphins, no one should watch the Dolphins, but you should definitely listen to them on the radio home of the Miami Dolphins, ESPN 580 Orlando. Cool, the suits aren’t reading anymore, I don’t think you should listen to them either, they’re that bad).   But back to ‘Patty Ice’   After watching the Chiefs/Ravens game a few times, I’m more and more convinced this guy is the perfect quarterback. There is literally nothing he can’t do at the position, no skill he doesn’t have and maybe I’m bias because I watched him shred the Ravens’ awesome defense (completely bias #RavensFlock #LamarAndrews2020) he doesn’t make mistakes, no matter what you throw at him and believe me the Ravens threw every look at him, he doesn’t make mistakes. Ravens defensive coordinator, Wink Martindale, said he threw up every time he watched the tape, and Wink, I feel your pain, repeatedly watching your defense not stop “Mahomie” made me nauseous too.    Everyone knows this kid is awesome, and I know I’m not telling you anything new when I say that, but I think people don’t understand that this kid is more than awesome, he’s more than just the most entertaining player at the position, he’s the perfect quarterback.    Literally perfect.   Arm Strength, check. Accuracy, check. Pre-snap recognition, check. Mobility in the pocket, check. Mobility outside the pocket, check. Improvisation, double check. Throwing against pressure, check. Willing to stand in the pocket and take a hit to make a throw, check. Throw on the run, check. Leadership, check. Swag, check. Whatever I forgot to mention that is relevant to a quarterback succeeding in the NFL, check.    He’s the NFL’s version of a 5-tool player and there is no one else in the league that’s close right now.    And did I mention Andy Reid is his play caller, Chiefs fans I would say rejoice, but you should have already known all of this.    3. Freddie Kitchens won’t make it through the year, and it’s John Dorsey’s fault.    I’ve talked about Cleveland before and I said they’re going to be fine and for the most part, I think they will be. Well, except for Freddie Kitchens, who I don’t think will make it through the year and I feel bad for poor Freddie because it’s not his fault, it’s John Dorsey’s.   Dorsey is the one who traded his best offensive lineman for an overpaid and underproducing edge rusher. Dorsey is the one that hired Kitchens whom had never been a Coordinator up until half-way through last season. Dorsey is the one that didn’t hire a coach with some experience that could’ve helped temper the expectations for a roster that has talent, yes, but it also has loud personalities that lend itself to distractions. Dorsey is where the buck stops and he’s the one that made this bed and unfortunately for Kitchens, he’s the one that’ll have to lay in it.    I’m not going to sit here and say that Dorsey’s a bad GM, because that would be asinine. His ability to recognize talent, at the top of the draft especially, has been exceptional. He’s hit on most of his top draft picks dating back to his time with Andy Reid in Kansas City. (Travis Kelce, Eric Fisher, Dee Ford, Marcus Peters, Myles Garrett, David Njoku, Larry Ogunjobi, Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb, Chris Jones and Tyreek Hill to name a few) But with all that draft success he still got fired in KC and now 3 years later in Cleveland we might be seeing why. Dorsey may well be the best drafter at the GM position in the NFL, but the Kitchens hire, OBJ trade, and Vernon trade show me that he’s not the guy a lot of people think he is when it comes to building a winner.   The expectation around this team got out of control and it happened because Dorsey chose sizzle over steak.   
  • Three things I learned from Week Two of the NFL Season:   1. Gardner Minshew II is an American treasure and we (The Jags O-Line) need to protect him with all our might.   Gardner Flint Minshew II, is the starting quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars and he is phenomenal in every single way. It’s a simple fact that the man is the most interesting player at the position in quite some time. The position is currently occupied by the single most boring and uninteresting individuals who consistently show zero to less than zero personality on purpose to avoid any scrutiny. My biggest beef with the media has always been the heroization (just made that word up) of athletes that creates pressure on them to try and act perfect. As a result they act like robots and bury every semblance of the personality they may have.    Gardner aka Beowulf, is uniquely refreshing and undeniably himself and I am here for it, and you should be too. By every account this god among men has been this way throughout his life and we as a football and sports community should in every way allow him to be the way he is for our own sake. Mainly mine because if I have to listen to another quarterback press conference or post game interview I might lose my mind.    In case you don’t know who Gardner is, here’s a list of some fun facts:   - Although he is named Gardner Minshew II, there is no Gardner Minshew the first.  - His grandfather wanted him to be named Beowulf - He regularly works out in just a pair of aviator sunglasses, a headband and a jockstrap.  - He scored a 42 on the wonderlich, which is awesome. (I’ve taken the wonderlich, getting a 42 is ridiculous)  - He played for 3 different schools in college. (Northwest Mississippi Community College, East Carolina University and Washington State University)   Also, he’s actually pretty good at slinging it.    Keep on keeping on, Beowulf.   2. The Bills might be a well-run franchise.   The bills are 2-0 and I get that it was against the Jets and the Giants, but they still had to go on the road and beat two NFL teams. That’s not easy, especially to start a season. Look the Bills aren’t great, I think we all know that. But they have built a team that understands what their strengths are and they play to them. Are they going to be a Superbowl team this year or next? Probably not, assuming Josh Allen doesn’t magically turn into Patrick Mahomes. But, they might make the playoffs, especially after seeing what’s happening in the AFC. The Steelers are no longer a threat with Big Ben out, the Browns don’t look like the contender some of us (Me) thought they could be this year and the Chargers just lost to the Lions, so that should tell you a little about who they are.   The AFC is wide open, and I think most of us agree that the Patriots and Chiefs sit atop the conference, with the rest of the playoff spots ripe for the taking. The Ravens, and Texans will probably win their divisions along with New England and Kansas City. So you’re talking about the Browns, Colts, Chargers, Titans and Buffalo for two wild card spots. It’s fair to assume that if Josh Allen continues to be a serviceable quarterback, the defense continues to be a top 10 type defense and that coaching staff continues to not shoot themselves in the foot and allow Allen to utilize his mobility they could go 9-7 or 10-6 and make the playoffs as wild card team.   Did I just say the Bills might make the playoffs, what the hell is wrong with me?   3. The Steelers are going to regret trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick.   I want to preface all this by saying I think Fitzpatrick can play. I loved him at Alabama and thought he would be a hell of a player in the NFL. He has been a pretty good so far for Miami and he should be great for a Pittsburgh defense that could really use him. But don’t let my positivity about the player fool you, this wasn’t a good move for the Steelers. I understand they probably started negotiating this deal before the injury to Roethlisberger, but according to various reports they knew Ben would miss a significant amount of time this season after hurting his elbow Sunday, but they still moved their 2020 first round pick that could have been used to find Ben’s replacement in a draft that could have 3 to 4 first rounders at the position.    Maybe they love Mason Rudolph, maybe they know Rudolph is their guy for the next decade plus and maybe this season isn’t going to be a waste with Ben out. Sure, that is all possible but the more likely thing is; Rudolph isn’t great and the season is going to be a waste and they’ll end up with one of the 10 worst records in the NFL with one of their best building blocks now chilling on South Beach. (I know Hard Rock Stadium is in Miami Gardens, South Beach just sounds cooler)   They wasted a clear chance to find the next Steelers franchise quarterback and what did they get for it?   A good safety.    Bad move, Steelers. (FYI as a Ravens fan, I’m ecstatic)  
  • The year was 2004. Friends was entering its final season, Will Ferrell told us to “Stay Classy” in Anchorman, and rapper Lil Jon said, “Yeah!” in a bunch of Top 100 songs. It was also the year that college football was thrown into chaos.    Just before bowl season, the sport had five teams that went undefeated in the regular season: USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Utah, and Boise State. The matchups that year had #1 USC facing #2 OU, #3 Auburn against #9 Virginia Tech, #10 Boise State versus #7 Louisville, and #5 Utah playing #19 Pittsburgh. In the end, we were left with three undefeated teams: USC, Auburn, and Utah. Critics slammed the idea of multiple teams going undefeated and called for a playoff.   Two seasons later, Boise State, now under new head coach Chris Petersen, went undefeated once again along with Ohio State. However, they never faced each other. Ohio State ended up losing to Florida, and Boise State beat Oklahoma in one of the craziest bowl games fans have ever seen. Boise State was the lone undefeated team — yet they received no other accolades except winning a bowl game.    Flash forward to the end of the 2009 season, when Boise State and Alabama were the only two undefeated teams. The pressure to create a playoff system grew exponentially after having multiple teams go undefeated season after season. A system that would let multiple teams play for a championship, and give schools like Boise State a chance to play for said championship. A team who, mind you, had four undefeated regular seasons in six seasons, but had zero opportunities for a national championship. Well, now we have a college football playoff system to prevent something like this, right?   … right?   Wrong. In 2017, UCF went undefeated in the regular season, but was ranked 12th going into bowl season. They were below numerous one-loss teams, two-loss teams like Miami, Washington, and USC, and a three-loss Auburn. It was then that UCF would shake up the college football landscape.    After beating the Auburn Tigers in stunning fashion, Athletic Director Danny White looked into a camera and just said three words, “National Champs. Undefeated.” It was those three words that divided college football. Some called it, “petty” and “it should be earned,” while others applauded the claim. They’re still divided even though it’s recognized in the NCAA record book, thanks to the Colley Matrix.   Now we’re in 2019, and coming off the heels of upsetting Florida State, Boise State took to Twitter and simply said, “Any place, any time.” A mantra used by FSU’s Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden, however, it was used to attack one another because it’s the internet.    While it may be a line used to attack Florida State, others took it as a jab at UCF resulting in the two fan bases fighting with one another.   When you think about it, both programs are very similar. Both have multiple undefeated seasons, high powered offenses, and been snubbed by college football. Whether you like it or not, we need each other. Some Boise State fans didn’t like the Danny White “National Champs” video, but if their athletic director, Gene Bleymaier, posted a bulletin on Myspace or Facebook saying “National Champs. Undefeated,” we would get behind it. And UCF fans, we should respect Boise State and the path they have helped made for us.    Boise State and UCF have traveled similar paths, some longer than others, but the endgame is the same: to gain the respect of the committee and play in the College Football Playoff.    “Well, they should schedule better teams.” — Complaint from a keyboard athletic director.    If it was simple, everyone would do it. However, we also have to realize that college athletics is a business. We could get the bad end of the deal and take endless 2-for-1s, but what good would that do? Not to mention the parity in college football — look at the once-dominant teams like Florida State and Miami. You could take a 2-for-1 deal, but if that team ends up performing poorly, it doesn’t help you.    “Yeah, well they need to get into a better conference.” — Guy who “knows college football” but thinks Jimbo Fisher is an outdoor clothing brand,   It’s not that easy. They can’t pull a Captain Philips and say, “Look at me, I’m in the conference now.” (Admit it, you read that in his voice.) Conferences have to be willing to add more teams, and with more teams comes restructuring TV deals, scheduling issues, etc. The Big 12 was looking to expand, but chose to stay with 10 teams in 2016. That said, with the ACC getting more money from the ACC Network, the Big 12 could expand just to revive the Big 12 Network. If that’s the case, this could help UCF since Orlando is a top 20 market, and Boise State is in a top 100 TV market. It isn’t much, but it’s better than the Lubbock, Texas market. Not to mention that Boise State is the premiere team in the Mountain West.    “Okay, I’m tired of reading, what’s the point of this?” — You, right now.    Right now, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Despite creating a playoff system that was supposed to help Group of 5 schools like Boise State or UCF get in, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Plus, the committee won’t expand until at least 2025. So either they both sit back and hope something happens, or they build off each other and apply some pressure to college football. It’s no longer Boise State/UCF versus whomever is on their schedule. It’s Group of 5 versus the world — and Boise State and UCF should be leading the charge together.
  • The three things I learned from Week One of the NFL season: Every NFL off-season we spend months on end talking in circles in an effort to kill time until football officially returns. We build narratives, crown champions and fire coaches before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves, I’m talking about you Zac Taylor (Insert Kliff Kingsbury or Matt LaFluer if you’re a Bengals fan).  Well rejoice football fans, the NFL is here and we finally have something to chew on. I know we’re only a week in and I know that after teams get more tape and more football is played we can’t really make any definitive predictions…except that the Patriots will win the Super Bowl, but we all knew that already.  Full disclosure; I’m a Ravens fan, so I more than anyone don’t want to see that happen, but we as NFL fans know it will. Belichick and Brady will pull a ‘these aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ Jedi mind trick and laugh their way to yet another Lombardi to the dismay of all the other fanbases in the NFL; including mine, #RavensFlock.   But with that said, I still learned a few things this week.  1. Christian McCaffery is the most dynamic player in the NFL and will win Offensive Player of the Year. That’s pretty self explanatory, McCaffery’s performance against a good and maybe great Rams defense last week proved, at least to me, that he is the most dynamic player in this league. Simply put, he’s what we always wanted Reggie Bush to be in the NFL. The numbers alone make that argument: 19 Carries, 128 rushing yards, 10 receptions, 81 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. He averaged 7.2 yards per touch, whether rush or reception, that’s beyond comprehension for someone who got the ball 29 times. Yes, those numbers are insane. But that’s not the only reason I feel this way, I feel this way because every time the Panthers went to someone else, they couldn’t move the ball. In the 35 plays that the Panthers didn’t give the ball to McCaffery they averaged 3.82 yards per play. Let me say that again, just to make sure you caught that. When the Panthers gave the ball to Christian McCaffery they averaged 7.2 yards per play and when they didn’t, they averaged 3.82. THAT’S ALMOST DOUBLE THE YARDS WHEN HE TOUCHES THE BALL! Feed the man, and if they do he will win offensive player of the year this season. 2. Dak will get paid, how much? I don’t know. But he will.  He looked good, really really good, and if I was Jerry Jones I would be regretting not paying this guy in the off-season. I get it was the Giants and other than Saquon, no one expects them to do or be anything of significance. But that’s not the point; this is, Kellen Moore’s system puts Dak in a position he’s never been in before, and that’s the driver’s seat of an offense that allows him to utilize his specific skill set while adapting to modern day offensive schemes with legit dudes at every position. Or simply, Dak isn’t running an offense from the 90s meant for a backup anymore.   If Moore continues to show that he’s capable of calling plays and helping build an offense that isn’t afraid to push the ball down the field by utilizing play action with the threat of Dak running, then Dak will have a career year that could end in Miami hoisting the Lombardi with a Joe Flacco type contract on the way in the summer.  *Granted Zeke, Cooper and that O-Line all stay healthy.* Get your checkbook ready, Jerry. I’d bet it’s going to be $30+ million and if I was Dak I’d give a hefty percentage to his O.C.  3. The Browns are fine, not great, but fine.  Yes, the Browns lost to the Titans by 30. Yes, Baker Mayfield threw 3 interceptions. And yes, the Browns only scored 13 points.   I understand those facts. But with that considered, I would still put my money on the Browns to make the playoffs. It wasn’t pretty, and a lot of that was Cleveland shooting themselves in the foot. But the other facts are really telling; this was a 3 point game with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, they out-gained Tennessee when it came to total yards and oh yeah, the browns also gifted the Titans 182 yards in penalties, that won’t happen very often. Look I don’t think much of the Titans, I even contemplated saying they wouldn’t make the playoffs in this article, but the fact is that defense is good and the Browns won’t play a defense like that every week. Yes, the penalties are an issue and first year head coach, Freddie Kitchens, is going to need to get his team in order, but penalties are fixable.  The offense looked good, Baker looked good, and most importantly in my opinion Nick Chubb looked good.  The Browns will be fine; don’t panic, Dawg Pound. 
  • Video games are great for a variety of reasons: they tell great stories that you can’t get in a movie or TV series, they can bring people together around the world, and allow you to yell at children without it being “frowned upon by society.” Over the years it’s been something that has infiltrated the mainstream media. Sports outlets talk about players rating in Madden or NBA2K, we see movies and TV series based on games, and now we are seeing a rise in competitive video games, aka esports.    Over the past year, TV stations like ABC, ESPN, and TBS have started airing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Apex Legends tournaments, as well as Overwatch League matches. Fans of the respective games are excited to see their favorite game rise in popularity. However, there’s always the Joe Knuckledraggers out there who are quick to turn it off…   If you watched it and didn’t like it, I would understand. After all, I don’t see the appeal to Minecraft but people love it. But to look at it for five seconds and immediately turn it off because “it’s video games,” is a very archaic view.   “I can’t believe kids play video games competitively, this is what’s wrong with society.” — The guy who watches the World Series of Poker.    Believe it or not, esports athletes are similar to normal athletes in that they spend numerous hours perfecting their craft. Do you think Steph Curry just came out of the womb shooting from 100 feet? No, he spent hours working on his shot. These esports athletes aren’t immediately great at their respective games. They spend hours working on their skills, working on their strategies, and making sure they play to the best of their abilities. I spoke with a player in the Overwatch League about his training regimen who said, “I wake up, I play Overwatch. I go to practice, where we play Overwatch. Then after practice, I come home and play a game, which is Overwatch.” If you think about it, esports athletes need to have the reflexes of a hockey goalie, the hand-eye coordination of a baseball player, and execute plays similar to a football team.   “Yeah, but they don’t have the body of an athlete.”   You’re right, they don’t exactly have an athletic body. But neither do baseball pitchers Bartolo Colón and CC Sabathia, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, heavyweight champion boxer Andy Ruiz Jr, MMA fighter Roy “Big Country” Nelson, NBA player Glen Davis, and NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.   “Yeah, but I don’t want to watch a kid in a competitive environment.” — The guy who loves watching collegiate sports. Also the guy who’s excited about 19-year-old Zion Williamson.    Most tournaments require it’s participants to be at least 18 years or older. If they are under 18, they must get approval from a parent/guardian.   “Yeah, but they’re just sitting on their butt playing a game.”   Okay, but if you break it down, you can make any sport sound basic.    Basketball: Throwing a ball into a hoop.  Football: A bunch of guys move a ball forward while getting dogpiled.  Baseball: One guy said “I bet you can’t hit this ball,” and someone said, “Bet you I can.”  Tennis: Hitting a ball while grunting.   Plus, like sports, not all games are the same. Baseball is different than football. Overwatch is different than League of Legends. So if you weren’t a fan of one game, you might like another. Besides, is it really worth getting angry that video games are on TV when it’s probably only replacing a re-run of “Whacked Out Sports,” an infomercial, or some cheesy 90s sci-fi show? (Hint: No. The answer is no.)   I’m not saying you need to start liking esports. I’m just saying that instead of immediately dismissing esports because “video games are childish,” you try watching with an open mind.