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Panthers’ Matt Rhule reacts to boos, ‘Fire Rhule’ chants after loss to Bucs: ‘Sometimes you need to be booed’

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The Panthers‘ 10th loss of the 2021 campaign was perhaps the toughest one to digest. The defeat knocked Carolina (5-10) from postseason contention, marking the fourth consecutive year where the Panthers will be absent from the playoffs. Making matters worse were chants of “Fire Rhule!” from Panthers’ fans that attended Carolina’s 32-6 loss to the Buccaneers

Cam Newton came to the defense of his head coach after the game. Newton, who was replaced by Sam Darnold during Sunday’s contest, called Rhule “a great coach” during his postgame press conference. 

“I can tell you right now it wasn’t because of the coaching,” Newton said of Sunday’s loss, via ESPN’s David Newton. “It wasn’t because of what a person may have said or done. The truth of the matter is, we’re all playing for jobs.

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“If you don’t think as a coach you wouldn’t do the right things to win and build your tenure here, you wouldn’t do it.”

The loss dropped Carolina to 10-21 over Rhule’s two years with the team. When asked about the fans’ public backlash Sunday, Rhule said that he didn’t take their criticism personally. 

“I come from Philadelphia,” Rhule said. “To me, it just shows people care. We’re not winning. I have no problem with that. People spend hard-earned money to come watch us play.

“When you’re the head coach, the quarterback, that’s all part of it. It makes it that much better when you win. But I would much prefer passion over apathy. I would much prefer pressure over nothing. I could do something else.

“I think our fans have been great — they support us — and sometimes you need to be booed.”

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Rhule said that he “hate(s) it for our fans that we’re not winning” while adding that his plan is to build a team that can be successful for the long term. And while Rhule’s longterm status in Carolina is anyone’s guess, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported before Sunday’s game that Rhule is safe for now, but getting through year three could be a challenge.





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The Buccaneers Add Depth With A Familiar Face

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(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

 

The current Tampa Bay Buccaneers depth chart shows four players at right defensive end: William Gholston, Logan Hall, Benning Potoa’e, and Willington Previlon.

However, they only have two at left defensive end: Akiem Hicks and Patrick O’Connor.

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The team thought of adding another player to help their cause and they eventually turned to a familiar athlete.

Carl Nassib had his first tour of duty with the Buccaneers from 2018 to 2019 after being claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.

Since then, he joined the Las Vegas Raiders on a three-year, $25 million contract.

He was released after two seasons which paved the way for his reunion with the Buccaneers.

The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweeted, “Bucs first got Carl Nassib as a gem of a waiver claim in 2018 from Browns — got 6.5 sacks that year, then 6.0 in Todd Bowles‘ defense in 2019. Didn’t find the same success in Las Vegas, totaling four sacks in two years, but now back to help with depth in Tampa Bay at age 29.”

The brief story showed that Nassib was often overlooked especially with Maxx Crosby‘s emergence.

Therefore, returning to the Buccaneers may help him resurrect his stalled career.

 

Lining Up The Buccaneers Defense

Nassib is one of the key additions to an already-stacked Tampa Bay defense.

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Aside from him, Hicks and Vita Vea will lead the push up front.

Meanwhile, their linebacker trio of Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, and Devin White could fly all over the field to shut down the opposing squad.

When defending the deep ball, defensive backs like Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis III, Logan Ryan, and Antoine Winfield Jr. should be at their best.

Add in Nassib and the Buccaneers’ defense got even more formidable.

The post The Buccaneers Add Depth With A Familiar Face appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Sandy Alcantara Is On Pace To Shatter Marlins History

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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

 

The Miami Marlins don’t have much of a chance to accomplish anything this year, but their staff ace Sandy Alcantara does.

The National League Cy Young favorite continued his run of dominance last night, tossing seven scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres and earning his 11th win of the season.

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Alcantara also struck out seven batters and allowed just four hits while only walking two batters and lowering his ERA on the season to 1.92.

In fact, last night marked the eighth time Alcantara has tossed at least seven scoreless innings in a game this year, which ties him with the late Jose Fernandez.

Only Dontrelle Willis has pitched more games where he went seven innings and allowed no runs in Marlins history.

He had nine of those back in 2005.

 

Alcantara’s Dominance

Alcantara is quickly becoming one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

He might already be there.

With each start, he dominates his opponents and proves why the St. Louis Cardinals made a terrible mistake when they traded him away back in 2017.

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Only Justin Verlander has a better ERA than Alcantara, who is the clear-cut favorite to take home the National League Cy Young Award.

He has dominated in almost every start, and he did it at an important time last night, as he shut down the juggernaut offense of the Padres, who just recently acquired Juan Soto and Josh Bell.

While the Marlins aren’t going to go anywhere, Alcantara has a very good chance to achieve something special.

He matched a Marlins great and is now one dominant start away from matching yet another one.

We’ll see if he can keep up this run of success.

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The post Sandy Alcantara Is On Pace To Shatter Marlins History appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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WNBA Power Rankings: Aces, Sky title favorites as playoffs begin; Mystics lurking as darkhorse

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After a thrilling close to the regular season, it’s time to turn our attention to the 2022 WNBA playoffs, which will tip-off Wednesday night with two first-round Game 1s. In the first game of the night, the Chicago Sky will host the New York Liberty, and in the finale the Las Vegas Aces will take on the Phoenix Mercury. 

The Aces (+165) and Sky (+200) are the top two seeds and the top two title favorites entering the postseason, per Caesars Sportsbook.

The league has once again revamped the playoff format, eliminating the first-and-second-round byes in favor of a standard bracket. Play will begin with a best-of-three first round series, followed by best-of-five series in the semifinals and Finals. One interesting twist, though, is that in the first round, Games 1 and 2 will be hosted by the higher seed, while the lower seed will get to host a deciding Game 3, if necessary. The semis and Finals will be a standard 2-2-1 arrangement. 

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As we wait for the action to begin, here’s a look at how each team fares in our pre-playoffs power rankings. 

1. Las Vegas Aces — No. 1 overall seed

Sunday’s comeback win over the Storm to secure the No. 1 seed capped off a tremendous close to the season for the Aces. They won four straight, including a win over the Sky and two over the Storm. Their reward was a first-round matchup against a depleted Mercury team that should be little challenge, and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. During their mid-season slump there was concern that the Aces had peaked too early, but they’re back on track and the title favorite. 

2. Chicago Sky — No. 2 overall seed

A mini skid during the final week cost the Sky the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage for the entire playoffs. They won the title as a No. 6 seed last season, though, so they won’t be too concerned about their position. What is worrying, is they haven’t been playing their best basketball down the stretch. They went 3-3 in August after losing just four games in June and July combined, and have not been great defensively. Still, we know this team can flip the switch and they have championship experience, cohesion and the ability to be elite on both sides of the ball. 

3. Connecticut Sun — No. 3 overall seed

On the one hand, Sun had an easy schedule post-All-Star break, and cleaned up by going 11-3 down the stretch to secure the No. 3 seed and best net-rating in the league at plus-9.5 points per 100 possessions. On the other, they were 10-0 against bottom-seven opponents and 1-3 against top-four opponents, picking up just a solitary win over the Storm. The Sun are a definite contender, but their 1-6 record against the Aces and Sky is of real concern, especially considering they would likely have to get through both teams to win the title. 

4. Seattle Storm — No. 4 overall seed

Even in defeat to the Aces on Sunday in the regular season finale, we saw how dangerous the Storm can be when everything is clicking. Moving Tina Charles into the starting lineup has indeed juiced their offense, and that new unit has a plus-20.9 net rating in 16 games together. In the last two playoff runs where the trio of Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird have been healthy, the Storm are 12-2 in the postseason and won the title both times. Can they do it again? Perhaps, but they have not been one of the elite teams over the balance of the season, and do not have the same level of supporting cast as they did in 2018 and 2020. 

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5. Washington Mystics — No. 5 overall seed

Despite being the No. 5 seed, the Mystics could be a darkhorse contender. They coasted through the regular season to some extent in order to keep Elena Delle Donne healthy for the playoffs, and it’s clear they could have been a higher seed if she played a full schedule. In her 25 games they went 18-7 – a .720 winning percentage that would be right in line with the Aces and Sky over a full season – and had a plus-12.3 net rating with her on the court. In the 11 games she sat out, they were 4-7. This team could cause problems if Delle Donne can withstand the demands of a playoff schedule, but they would almost certainly have to beat three of the top-four teams in succession in order to win the title, which may be too much to ask. 

6. Dallas Wings — No. 6 overall seed

The Wings caught fire toward the end of the season and won five straight games from July 30–Aug. 8 to clinch a second consecutive playoff berth. That stretch included victories over the Aces and Sky, and they seemed to have unlocked something by giving more playing time to Teaira McCowan. They will be without All-Star guard Arike Ogunbowale for at least the first round, however, due to a hip injury, and while they’ve had some good games in her absence, her shot creation will be missed in the playoffs. During the regular season they were 2-1 against the Sun, and should be competitive, but actually winning the first-round series will be difficult. 

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7. New York Liberty — No. 7 overall seed

The Liberty enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. They closed the season on a 6-2 run, and had the third-best net rating (plus-6.8) in the league in August. When healthy and at their best, they have the ability to play with and beat any team in the league thanks in large part to their prolific 3-point attack. However, they have not been able to reach that level on a consistent basis this season, and will be sizable underdogs against the defending champion Sky. 

8. Phoenix Mercury — No. 8 overall seed

After losing in the Finals last season, the Mercury went all in for another run at the title. Their plans fell apart over the course of the last six months, however, as Brittney Griner was detained in Russia, Tina Charles abruptly left the team mid-season and both Diana Taurasi (quad) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (personal reasons) are now sidelined. They deserve a lot of credit for even making the playoffs, but they lost five of seven games to close the season and it’s hard to imagine them being competitive against the Aces. 



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