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  • Speculating on Whether Regehr Should be Traded by the Flames reggie

    Based on a few comments on the Illegal Curve radio show, I put up a post on Matchsticks & Gasoline yesterday about the Flames potential to trade Regehr and why it’s time to do so.

    The article is posted here.

    Below is an excerpt from the article.

    “Now before everyone gets their guard up and says Regehr is [...]

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  • Posted on HP: NHL Team Architecture nashville draft

    Here is a study that I did for Hockey Prospectus on NHL Team Architecture.  Obviously since I posted it on HP, I believe they have a great site, so definitely take a look at some of the material from their other great writers too.

    Front Office Focus – NHL Team Architecture 

    What is the best way to [...]

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  • Jay Bouwmeester: Disappointment or Not Used Properly? J-Bo

    This is a story I posted on Matchsticks & Gasoline as part of our player preview series.  Come take a look at some of the other articles if you’re interested.

    Sometimes things just don’t work out like we thought.  Items bought on eBay looked better in the picture than when they arrive in the mail, your [...]

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  • Fireman Ed Should Pour a Stiff Drink fireman ed

    Rex Ryan may be the king of the F-bombs, but he better use as many as he can during the regular season.  The Jets won’t be making the playoffs.

    The Jets used up all their luck last year.  There are no playoff-bound cakewalk games at the end of this season’s schedule.  Opposing kickers are all out [...]

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  • What is Darrelle Revis Worth to the Jets? revis

    Revis Island can be a lonely place for receivers.  At the moment it’s also a lonely place for a Darrelle Revis.  The man who was hands-down the best defensive player in the league last year is not practicing or spending time with his teammates, and it HAS to be a frustrating way to follow up [...]

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The NHL Trade Deadline - a few opinions

With all the deals that went on in the last month, we’ve been debating it a lot over at Hockey Prospect.  Below are a few links to some articles I wrote and a few by others.

My articles:

Why I didn’t like the Leafs trading Versteeg

The Big Blues-Avalanche trade

The Penguins Getting the Best of Dallas Stars in the Goligoski-Neal Trade

Articles by others:

An HP Roundtable on the Best and Worst deals (including my picks)

Richard Pollock’s take on the Canucks’ moves

Jonathan Willis’ post on the Brad Boyes deal

Derek Zona’s Dustin Penner tribute

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NHL's Best and Worst Free Agents So Far This Year

My take on the season’s free agents who have most outperformed or underperformed their historical levels.  I posted it over at Hockey Prospectus this weekend.  For those who follow the Flames, it should be especially interesting.

The article is here.

A quick excerpt is below:

“Lydman is playing drastically different ice time than Jordan Leopold though. He is facing the hardest competition among the Ducks d-men (1.778 Corsi Rel QoC) and the worst zone starts (42.0%) as well. Despite being thrown to the bottom of the canyon at the start of every shift, Lydman has been a much better possession player than his teammates (9.4 Corsi Rel) and his results on the ice have been much better as well (Relative Plus-Minus of 2.38). If he keeps this up, Lydman could be the king of the HLI for defensemen this season.”

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Jack Johnson's contract, Heavy Lifters on the Blue Line and a Flames Rebuild

Contrary to what it may seem like here on S-O, I have still been writing the last 3 weeks.  I just forgot to link to some of the material here.

Over at Hockey Prospectus, I managed to take the L.A. Kings to task for the Jack Johnson contract and also used my Heavy Lifter Index to evaluate the NHL’s best matchup defensemen.

At Matchsticks and Gasoline, we’ve been busy discussing everything from the Flames need to reinvigorate the roster to the recent winning streak.

The two pieces I contributed were a post about the Flames lack of a matchup line and contributed my views to the Flames potential rebuild.

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The Heavy Lifter Index - measuring hockey's hardest job

I’ve spent the last month or so working on a new way to measure hockey players.  I call it the Heavy Lifter Index (HLI).  I didn’t invent the term heavy lifter for hockey players, I just added the index part.  I’m pretty sure my contribution to the name is much more important than the rest.

For those that don’t read a lot of hockey stat blogs, I’ll elaborate.  A Heavy Lifter is a player who not only faces the opposition’s best players, but frequently has to start shifts in the defensive zone.  Yet he stilll outplays everyone he faces.

HLI measures the difficulty of the player’s icetime by defining the level of competition and starting shift position the using existing stats QualComp, Corsi Rel QoC, and Zone Start percentage.  The only difference is we compare the players rating, to the league rating to see what the magnitude of difficulty of their icetime is.

As for outplaying the competition, HLI uses three stats again.  I measure how much they outscore their competition, how much they outshoot their competition and whether they draw more penalties than they take.  Again these stats are all readily available on BehindTheNet.ca but I use a method to measure magnitude compared to the league.

My work is posted on Hockey Prospectus.  My first post explaining the inner workings of HLI can be found here, while the evaluation of every forward in the NHL over the last 3 seasons can be found here.

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My thoughts on Mikael Backlund's development

With the news that Mikael Backlund was being sent to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL, here was my review of his rookie performance so far this season.

The article is posted on Matchsticks & Gasoline here.

Below is an excerpt.

“With 4 goals and 4 assists in 32 games, Backlund hasn’t exactly been lighting up the traditional NHL stat line, but has been +4 on the season.  Obviously Brent Sutter and interim GM Jay Feaster felt he wasn’t bringing enough to the Flames squad and are backed up in that assertion by the Flames recent winning streak with Backlund in street clothes.

But as we all know here at M&G, the traditional stat line doesn’t tell the whole story.  In fact, the Flames appear to be making a huge mistake by sending Backlund down to the Heat.  Not only are they wasting a year of his entry level contract, but he’s actually holding his own as a third line player at an age when NHL forwards typically develop the fastest.  Denying him time in the NHL is likely hurting his development.”

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Posted on HP: Welcome Backes, Carter

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 01: Jeff Carter  of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 1, 2010 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Flyers defeat the Hurricanes 3-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Here’s a article I wrote on the merits and detriments of the contracts handed out to the Blues David Backes and the Flyers Jeff Carter for Hockey Prospectus.

I also have a post coming up on HP soon where I unveil the Heavy Lifter Index to profile some of the NHL’s best players against the other team’s top lines.

Here is an excerpt from the Backes-Carter column:

“In the case of these two contract extensions, the teams are trying to lock up young, talented forwards to reasonable long term contracts. While they may have taken different approaches to how they’ve managed the cap, it’s very important to understand which team got better value for their money.

Carter, at age 25, already has a 46 goal season under his belt and is considered an elite offensive talent. Backes, at age 26, is a big winger with a solid scoring touch, but hasn’t racked up points the way Carter has.

Carter  	398 games 	153 goals 	139 assists 	11.0% shooting percentage
Backes  	297 games 	74 goals 	89 assists 	11.8% shooting percentage

On the surface, Jeff Carter has the better offensive numbers and his contract extension was more lucrative, earning him roughly $750,000 per season more than Backes. But given the difference in goal scoring skill, shouldn’t Carter be making a lot more than Backes? If the only thing that mattered in the NHL were goals and assists, then the answer would be yes, but we all know that there is a lot more to the game than that.”

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Speculating on Whether Regehr Should be Traded by the Flames

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 26: Robyn Regehr  of the Calgary Flames throws a check during a hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flames won 3-2. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Based on a few comments on the Illegal Curve radio show, I put up a post on Matchsticks & Gasoline yesterday about the Flames potential to trade Regehr and why it’s time to do so.

The article is posted here.

Below is an excerpt from the article.

“Now before everyone gets their guard up and says Regehr is indispensable, let’s take stock of the Flames season so far.  The Flames are 14th in the Western Conference and have to compete with teams like LA and San Jose who are also trying to make the leap into a playoff spot.

According to this article in the Toronto Star, 77.5% of teams in a playoff spot by American Thanksgiving make the playoffs.  This encompasses every season since 1993 so it’s at least taken over a fairly long timeframe. 

While the Flames could still make the playoffs, let’s be realistic and say that it’s unlikely.  And unfortunately, they currently have more cap space committed to next season than any other team in the NHL.  It’s time to start thinking about improving the team for the long term, not for a playoff push.  If that’s the case, it may be time to move some established veterans for valuable, young, cost-efficient assets.”

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I've Been a Bit Lazy

FOXBORO, MA - NOVERMBER 21: Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Peyton Manning  of the Indianapolis Colts after their game at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Yes, I realize the last post was November 10th and it was an incoherent rant about Brett Favre.  But honestly, who can be coherent when Favre is involved.

I did spend some of the downtime taking in the Colts-Patriots and Celtics-Thunder games in Boston though.  Below are some random thoughts from seeing both those games live.  This is just my recollection of events, so some stats/times could be a bit off.  I’ll save the accuracy for more thought out columns.

Celtics-Thunder

No sport on the planet displays athletes so close up as the NBA.  We had seats in the 1st row behind one of the baskets and it definitely didn’t disappoint.  I was definitely bummed out that Kevin Durant was scratched right before the game though.

  • For starters, Shaq is still a phenomenal spectacle.  He was the most jovial, friendly player in the building during warm-ups and genuinely seemed to love interacting with the fans.  It’s also amazing how much we focussed on the size of his feet.  I couldn’t look away from them.  The difference in his foot size to other players like Kevin Garnett seemed immense. 
  • Shaq’s free throw shooting is even more horrific in person than it is on TV.  If you’ve ever had a buddy who is awkward and unathletic, picture him shooting free throws with his eyes closed, that’s what Shaq’s motion seems like.  I felt embarassed FOR him.  It’s even more strange given how athletic he seems to be (for his size of course) during regular play.  Just odd.
  • Rondo is a lot smaller than I thought he was, but just unreal to watch.  Bill Simmons raves about him all the time and I definitely thought he was an underrated player, but he’s much more impressive in person.  Incredibly quick and very unpredictable, he had 7 assists early in the first half and a put-back dunk in the 2nd half that had me on my feet before I could think about it.
  • Russell Westbrook deserves every bit of praise he’s been getting since the summer.  Without Durant, he still dominated the game.  He directed the offense, dished when he needed to and still took scoring into his own hands whenever they needed it.  Despite being the main focus of the Celts defense, he led the game in scoring and was the sole reason they won on the road against the best team in the East.
  • The only player I’ve seen live who appears to score with as little effort as Paul Pierce is Tim Duncan.  The Truth just seems to float around with the ball on a string and has absolutely no trouble finding his own shot.  Just fun to watch.
  • Little known fact, referring to Delonte West as Mom-F*cker every time he steps on the court and touches the ball, never gets old.  Ever.

Patriots-Colts

We made the trip to Boston, because I’ve always wanted to see Peyton Manning play live.  I’ve been a Colts fan ever since I started following the NFL religiously (early 90′s) and obviously wanted to see my favorite player in person.  What better way than against their biggest rival of the last decade.

  • For starters, Patriots fans are great.  Extremely knowledgeable, incredibly supportive, cheering at all the right times and most of all, giving me sh*t for having a Peyton Manning jersey.  That said, I had some great conversations with a bunch of people around me and they were pretty fun to be around.
  • The Colts running game is even more pitiful in person.  I’ve watched 90% of the Colts snaps this year and I already thought it was pitiful.
  • Brady is as cool and calm as any pro athlete I’ve ever watched.  Manning gets clearly rattled at times, Brady just doesn’t.  I hate him.  At least people in Boston hate his hair as much as the rest of us.
  • I’m now a Danny Woodhead fan.  He’s just impressive to watch.  Any guy who scores the most exciting touchdown of a big game and makes the tackle on the kickoff the next play will always be high in my books.
  • Reggie Wayne was the lone focus of defenses trying to stop the Colts.  They know he’s the most dependable option for Manning and were determined to take him out of the game.  The TD pass from Manning to Wayne late in the game was a thing of beauty.  I don’t know how you defend it.
  • Pierre Garcon is going to cost the Colts their season if he hasn’t already.  Despite being the most physically gifted receiver the Colts have had in 15 years, he just doesn’t understand the game well enough mentally.  He and Manning are constantly on different pages.  Just look at Mannings second interception, Garcon ran a comeback or an out while Manning expected him to go deep and threw the ball accordingly.
  • Despite being down by 17 points, the Pats fans never counted out the Colts and constantly explained this to me with the phrase “It’s Peyton Manning, you’re never out of the game…”
  • When the Colts got the ball, down 3, with only a few minutes left, most of the crowd acted as if the Colts had already won.  I’ve never experienced this before.  They may have gotten loud before each snap, but the nerves in the stadium were immense.  When Manning threw the pick and the crowd went nuts, it was more a sense of relief like the end of hurricane than a celebration like you had just won the lottery.  Just strange.

All-in-all, I love Boston as a sports town and would go back in a heartbeat.  Plus, I was very pleasantly surprised with how much Bruins gear I saw in the windows of pubs on people walking around town and even on the local news.  It’s nice to see the NHL still has some true markets in the States, unlike Carolina or Florida.

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Favre Hasn't Saved Anything, He's the Problem

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 31: Brett Favre  of the Minnesota Vikings takes a breather between plays against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It’s Wednesday, and I’m still seeing articles and blog posts on how Brett Favre saved Brad Childress’ job on Sunday.  I can understand that Favre was the centerpiece of a fantastic comeback, but he didn’t save a damn thing.  As usual, the majority of the media is in love with “The Old Dongslinger”, as Jason Whitlock likes to call him. 

Brett Favre is the main reason that Childress could be fired.  

Yes, Chilly made the Randy Moss move without consulting owner Zygi Wilf.  No, this isn’t the move that could cost him his employment with the Vikings. 

Childress hitching his wagon to a lazy, non-committal quarterback who craves the spotlight will be his downfall. 

When Favre is playing well, his egotism gets overlooked.  And apparently it also gets overlooked when he’s being outplayed by Troy Smith and Colt McCoy.  

Favre has thrown for 1896 yards, 9 TDs, 13 INTs and a 75.7 qb rating in 9 games.  He has topped a 90 rating in only 2 of those 9 games.  That’s pitiful for a future hall of famer.  Maybe he should have committed himself in the offseason and shown up for camp.  There’s a reason they call it preparing for the season. 

For those that understand and follow the stats from Football Outsiders, Favre’s DYAR (total value in yards vs replacement player) is -51 and he’s ranked as the 34th best QB in the league.  His DVOA (a per play stat) is -14.0% for a rank of 33rd.  In both cases, Favre is measuring up worse than a lot of backup QBs. 

At the same time, Mike Shanahan is benching a quarterback with a 1971-7-8-76.0 stat line.  Mike made a stupid decision with utterly terrible timing, but he isn’t wrong to want more from his quarterback.  In Washington, McNabb’s performance has been questioned.  In Minnesota, Favre is still being worshipped. 

Childress will get fired because he’s leaning on a junk-texting turnover machine, rather than handing the ball off to one of the best running backs in the league.  

Adrian Peterson already has more carries than any other back in the league, but they may need to use him and Toby Gerhart more often in order to take the heat off Favre.  There’s no way Favre should be throwing as many passes as Tom Brady at this point.

Favre’s big comeback on Sunday may have been like hitting a big hand when you’re down to your last chips, but he’s the reason the Vikings were short-stacked in the first place.

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Giordano's Contract & Flames' Meltdowns: on M&G

There are two new articles up at Matchsticks & Gasoline.

The first, is my analysis of Mark Giordano’s new contract with the Flames.  Definitely go read and comment if you get the chance.  In the meantime, here is an excerpt of the article.

“Potential.  It’s the buzz-word that gets every fan pumped about their favorite player and gives GMs nightmares.  The problem is, how do we value potential?  Every sport is littered with players who vastly outperform their contracts and those who signed mega-deals and didn’t live up to them.

Mark Giordano has loads of potential.  He’s an upside supernova.  Putting together a highlight package of hits, pinpoint passes and jaw-dropping goals from his last 2 seasons is a piece of cake.  Just watching a video like that would make most fans think he’ll be battling Drew Doughty for the Norris over the next 5 years.

The problem, however, is that Giordano is 27 years old and is likely very close to his peak as an NHL defenseman.  So that potential we all see may be more due to some flashes of brilliance, but not something he can sustain through 82 games a season.  On the bright side, at age 27, he can probably play at his current level of performance for the entire life of his brand new 5-year contract.  Giordano is easily a Top-4 defenseman on any team in the NHL, and likely top pairing for at least half the teams in the league.”

Also, my weekly Combustions & Calculators column is up, exploring the Flames’ late game collapses, the top line’s performance and who the Flames worst penalty taker is.

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What's worse, Fan-beaters or Cheerleaders?

I had to give myself some time before I commented on the big fan interaction problem infecting the NHL right now.  I’m not talking about the whole “Rick Rypien fan-grab” controversy, mainly because it’s not a controversy.  Let me break it down for you:

Dude is fired up from a hockey fight.  Fan says something to dude, even if it’s not THAT offensive.  Dude gets mad at fan and makes a move towards him. 

Basically, we just described a similar situation to what happens at the bar between men in their 20’s every night of the week.  The only difference here is that one guy is a pro athlete who is paid to be aggressive towards other men.  Yes, he’s paid to be aggressive. 

I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it’s not that shocking.  I don’t condone what Rypien did, but I’m not sure I would have done better.  Without knowing for sure what the fan said, we can judge Rypien only with half the information.  He was clearly provoked to some degree, but he’s responsible for his own actions.

Continue reading What’s worse, Fan-beaters or Cheerleaders?

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Flames 3rd Pairing D-men and Shot Quality - on M&G

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 19: Martin Erat  of the Nashville Predators carries the puck towards Steve Staios  of the Calgary Flames on October 19, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

My latest weekly column on Matchsticks and Gasoline included the regular Flames stat roundup as well as some interesting insight into Shot Quality.

Here’s an excerpt, the whole article can be found here.

“Much was made of the Avalanche’s “luck” last season, as evidenced by high PDO for many players and a solid record despite negative Corsi rates.  As teams like Chicago and Detroit have proven, dominating the possession game can be a very solid foundation for winning.

However, Corsi doesn’t account for shot quality.  While shot quality has been debated fairly heavily, there is enough evidence to say that it has a definite effect on winning, if not as high a correlation as the possession stats.  In the Hockey Prospectus 2010, Tom Awad breaks down Shot Quality in an excellent summary.  Shot distance and angle both factor into shot quality.  So what does this have to do with the Avalanche?

The Colorado Avalanche had the shortest Average Shot Distance in the NHL last season according to Tom Awad. 

And in Ken Krzywicki’s latest Shot Quality paper on Hockey Analytics, the Avalanche had an expected Shooting % of 9.5%, best in the league.  Their expected Save Percentage was 91.4%, 5th best in the league.

The short version is that Colorado gets high quality shots and gives up low quality shots, so they’re more dangerous than most of us give them credit for.”

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Posted on HP: NHL Team Architecture

MONTREAL - JUNE 26:  Ryan Ellis poses with members of the Nashville Predators organization (L-R) President of Hockey Operations/General Manager and Alternate Governor David Poile, Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton, North American Amateur Scouts Jason Bukala and Rick Knickle and Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty after being drafted during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Here is a study that I did for Hockey Prospectus on NHL Team Architecture.  Obviously since I posted it on HP, I believe they have a great site, so definitely take a look at some of the material from their other great writers too.

Front Office Focus – NHL Team Architecture 

What is the best way to build a winning NHL team?  There probably isn’t just one method, but every team in the league would love to know who to spend their money on, how to find bargains that outperform their salaries and which positions seem to matter most to points in the standings.  Continue reading Posted on HP: NHL Team Architecture

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A Couple New Flames Articles at M&G

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff gets ready to take to the ice in the Flames home opener against the Los Angeles Kings before their NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY IMAGES OF THE DAY)

In case some of my readers don’t regularly frequent Matchsticks & Gasoline, I thought I’d link a few new articles I wrote over there.

The first is a response article to the issue of having either a clear cut #1 goalie or two decent goalies and which situation is better.

You can find that article here.

The second one is my new weekly column at M&G called Combustion & Calculators.  It will be a deeper statistical look at the Calgary Flames players and squad performance with a few extras thrown in as well.

That article can be found here.

Hopefully you enjoy them.

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Which NFL Team has the Winning Record?

A fan of No. 15 Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow shows off her t-shirt during their NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Denver September 19, 2010.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I’m always amazed when I talk to other NFL fans.  They are either fanatically excited/depressed and usually mention how dominant/pitiful their team is and then tell me their team’s record like this explains everything. 

In a league as competitively close as the NFL, it’s amazing how many times luck can be the different between a team that appears to be good and a team that appears to be firing their coach.  A strange bounce of the ball or the sheer luck of the NFL’s annual scheduling draw can change the fortunes of any team’s season. 

Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the stats of two actual NFL teams below and pick which team has the better record at this point in the 2010 season. Continue reading Which NFL Team has the Winning Record?

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Is “Matty Ice” Still the Best QB from the ’08 Draft?

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 03: Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons is sacked by Parys Haralson  of the San Francisco 49ers at Georgia Dome on October 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Like any sports fan, I’m prone to making quick judgments on a player after watching him perform for only a few minutes.  That’s what I did last Sunday while watching Matt Ryan struggle.  I didn’t like what I saw and posted the following on Twitter: 

“Matt Ryan just doesn’t look good.  Starting to wonder if he’s hit a development wall.  With all those weapons – thought he’d be better.” 

More than anything else, I really wanted to know whether Matt Ryan had regressed since his outstanding rookie season.  And if he was regressing, were his fellow 2008 draftees, Joe Flacco and Chad Henne surpassing him?  

Yes, I said Chad Henne in the same breath as Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds.  While his playing career may have effectively started a year later than the other two, he has the best completion percentage and yards per play of the three in 2010. 

Take a look at how the three players stack up after their first two and a quarter years in the NFL. Continue reading Is “Matty Ice” Still the Best QB from the ’08 Draft?

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Locking up a Young Star: The Marc Staal Contract

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04: Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers celebrates against the Washington Capitals on February 4, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

While many teams have wrapped up prospect camps and have started into training camps, there was an interesting contract handed out this week that got lost in the mix.  The New York Rangers locked up their young shut-down defenseman, Marc Staal, in a 5-year deal worth just under $4 million per year. 

Much like we did with the Plekanec and Kovalchuk deals, let’s take a look at how Staal’s contract stacks up with some other defensemen that signed as free agents this summer. 

Continue reading Locking up a Young Star: The Marc Staal Contract

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Jay Bouwmeester: Disappointment or Not Used Properly?

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 28: Jay Bouwmeester #4 of the Calgary Flames in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 28, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Flames 3-2 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This is a story I posted on Matchsticks & Gasoline as part of our player preview series.  Come take a look at some of the other articles if you’re interested.

Sometimes things just don’t work out like we thought.  Items bought on eBay looked better in the picture than when they arrive in the mail, your late-night bar hook-up wasn’t as good-looking as you remembered or your favorite team’s free agent signing just didn’t live up to the hype. 

I think that’s how a lot of Flames’ fans felt about Jay Bouwmeester last year. 

Darryl Sutter appeared to have worked free agent magic, by acquiring J-Bo’s rights a few days before free agency and securing his #1 target for the summer.  Bouwmeester thought he had hit the lottery by signing a big-money deal and returning to the province he grew up in.  Calgary fans rejoiced in having one of the most talented young defensive pairs in the league with Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf in the fold. 

Last season, in more ways than one, just didn’t live up to the hype.  Continue reading Jay Bouwmeester: Disappointment or Not Used Properly?

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Is Arian Foster the next Terrell Davis or Olandis Gary?

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 12: Running back Arian Foster  of the Houston Texans rushes past defensive back Antoine Bethea  of the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL season opener at Reliant Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

At this point in the NFL season, it’s always fun to stretch our projections a little.  Did you know that Peyton Manning is on pace for 6,928 passing yards this season?  Arian Foster is on pace for 3,696 yards rushing, CJ who?

That said, the Texans’ Arian Foster did obliterate the Colts rushing defense and has the majority of us wondering just how good he really is.  Could he be the next great back to come out of the Shanahan-designed, one-cut, downhill running scheme?  Coach Kubiak is definitely hoping so.  Then again, could he be a flash in the pan?

Continue reading Is Arian Foster the next Terrell Davis or Olandis Gary?

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Jason Campbell’s Impact on the Oakland Raiders

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Jason Campbell  of the Oakland Raiders looks to pass in the preseason game againsts the Dallas Cowboys at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Last year, the only thing that made watching the Oakland Raiders bearable, was drinking codeine syrup.  This year it might be a different story. 

In the 2009-10 season, the Black Hole referred to the Raiders’ quarterback position.  It’s where passing went to die. 

While it didn’t get a lot of hype as a top offseason acquisition, the Raiders addition of Jason Campbell at quarterback could possibly be the biggest upgrade by any team at any position.  I wrote about Campbell’s worth last year.

 Don’t get me wrong, just because his initials are J.C. doesn’t make him the savior.  That said, I can guarantee you that he is a monstrous upgrade at the quarterback position for the Raiders and will make a big impact on their offense. 

Continue reading Jason Campbell’s Impact on the Oakland Raiders

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