Archive for the ‘5 reasons’ Category

5 warning signs as these Hawks seek to move upward

Here's Jeff Teague. Haven't seen much of him lately. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Here's Jeff Teague. Haven't seen much of him lately. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A stipulation: The Hawks are having a sunny season and have a chance to play deeper into the playoffs than they have in 40 years. “We’ve closed the gap on the top three [teams in the East],” Mike Woodson said last week, and they’ve gained so much ground they’ve become the fourth in a Big Four. That said …

When you step up in class, even the tiniest flaw can become major. And here, as they go forward, are five warning signs for these Hawks:

1. The bench is basically two guys plus Mo. Remember when we thought the Hawks actually had a second unit? That lasted about 10 days. Jason Collins has worked 17 minutes this season. Joe Smith averages 9.2 minutes per game, Jeff Teague 9.7. (Not-so-fun fact: The rookie Teague, whom Mike Woodson claims to like, averages nearly six fewer minutes than did Acie Law, whom Woodson didn’t much like, in his rookie season.) Mo Evans worked 23 minutes a game last …

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5 things about the first-place Hawks that are bugging me

An older Mike Bibby isn't the Mike Bibby of old. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

An older Mike Bibby isn't quite the Mike Bibby of old, is he? (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

1. Mike Bibby is in decline. We all praised Rick Sund for retaining three of the Hawks’ four key free agents, but the Bibby retention, while a boon to continuity, hasn’t paid off in production. Bibby is averaging 9.4 points, down from 14.9 last season. Granted, he’s also playing seven fewer minutes a game — that’s the Jamal Crawford effect — but seems older than 31. He has clearly lost a step and a half, and when a little man loses his quickness there’s not a lot left.

2. Crawford doesn’t mesh with Joe Johnson quite the way Bibby does. While technically the point guard, Bibby doesn’t control the ball all that much. He gives it to Joe and spots up for three-pointers. (I’m betting half of Bibby’s treys last season came off Johnson’s feeds.) Crawford needs the ball more. He’ll shoot but he’ll also penetrate. Bibby almost never ventures into the lane. And when it’s Crawford and Johnson …

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A 5-step program to ensure a better Falcons future

Step 1: Relax. This season was almost a worst-case scenario — defensive overhaul, tougher schedule, injuries by the boatload — and it wound up 9-7. This tells us the Falcons have the right kind of men in administrative places, and it also tells us the core of the team is talented enough to withstand a series of reversals.

Step 2: Get edgy. The Falcons ranked 28th in a 32-team league in pass defense, and I know what you’re going to say — because of the cornerbacks. And I won’t pretend that Brent Grimes and Chris Houston were the second coming of Lester Hayes and Michael Haynes, but even that Hall of Fame pairing would have struggled behind a pass rush that generated only 28 sacks. (Tied for 26th in the NFL.) Look for the Falcons to draft an edge player — a defensive end or an outside linebacker — in Round 1. Look for Lawrence Sidbury to contend for a starting position. Look for a wholesale commitment to rushing the passer.

Step 3: Give the secondary a second chance. Thomas …

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5 players the Falcons can do without (Jerious included)

Here's another example of Michael Jenkins not making a catch. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Another example of Michael Jenkins not making a catch. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It’s the arithmetic of the NFL: First you subtract, then you add. Tomorrow we’ll do the addition part. Today is about the minuses. And here, in alphabetical order, we go:

Jamaal Anderson, defensive something-or-other: Time to pull the plug on this Rich McKay misfire. Anderson has been tried at end and tackle to no great effect. What’s left? Long snapper? Drafted eighth overall in 2007, he has 2 1/2 sacks in three seasons. That spells “bust” in any man’s league.

Tyson Clabo, right tackle: The offensive line lost a heapin’ helpin’ of oomph this season, and Clabo has long been viewed as the weakest of the starting O-linemen. Conveniently enough, his contract is up. Conveniently enough, Thomas Dimitroff drafted Garrett Reynolds in Round 5 last season. He’ll get a long look at RT.

Michael Jenkins, wide receiver: Another of McKay’s greatest whiffs. Drafted in Round 1 in 2004, Jenkins has never …

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Presenting 5 top storylines for Atlanta sports in 2010

Santa Claus will be comin' to town soon enough. Will the Eastern Conference finals follow? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Santa Claus will be comin' to town soon enough. Will the Eastern Conference finals follow? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

1. Will the Hawks reach the Eastern Conference finals? Step by inexorable step, this team keeps moving. It made the playoffs in 2008 and won a series in 2009. Can it do what the Hawks haven’t done since 1970 — when they were based in the West, not the East, and you needed only one series victory fo reach the conference finals — and play for the right to go to the NBA finals? Bradley’s prediction: Yes, they can. Yes, they will.

2. Will Ilya Kovalchuk re-up with the Thrashers? This isn’t so much about a player as it is a franchise. The Thrashers have made a bright start to the season, but all that goes poof if Kovalchuk won’t agree to stay. It has been a decade-long struggle to sell hockey in this Southern city, but if the franchise player leaves, will the franchise itself be long for the A-T-L? Bradley’s prediction: Kovalchuk stays, simply because Don Waddell …

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5 questions about the Braves, a couple involving Soriano

Maybe it's just me, but I think they're going to miss this guy. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Maybe it's just me, but I think they're going to miss this guy. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

1. Why pay the same money to an older reliever who hasn’t had a save since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008? Billy Wagner is 38 and will make $7 million next season. Rafael Soriano will turn 30 this week and, after agreeing to re-up for a a year after being dealt to Tampa Bay, will earn $7 million in 2009. Soriano had 27 saves last season; Wagner had none. I don’t get this one at all.

2. Why offer arbitration to Soriano, whom they had no intention of keeping, and not offer it to Adam LaRoche, whom they need? I know there are issues of draft-pick compensation and, as ever, money — the Braves don’t want to pay LaRoche what his market value stands to be — but I don’t get this, either. The Braves want LaRoche to stick around for less money and bridge the gap to Freddie Freeman, whom they hope will be ready in 2011. But what if Ol’ Rochy gets a better (read: longer)  deal someplace else? …

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5 reasons the Falcons will still have a winning season

Matty Ice has been put on ice, but he'll presumably be back. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Matty Ice has been put on ice, but he'll presumably be back. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

1. They didn’t put Matt Ryan or Michael Turner on injured reserve. This might seem a technicality, but it isn’t. Roster spots are precious, and teams don’t hold them open on a whim. Once you’re on IR, you’re gone for the duration. The Falcons believe these two essential players will return at some point this season. Speaking of which …

2. Forget Philadelphia. Forget New Orleans. Look beyond. The final three games come against the Jets (5-6), Buffalo (4-7) and Tampa Bay (1-10). Win those three and there’s your second consecutive winning season, and right now that seems a more realistic goal than making the playoffs. This isn’t to say the Falcons can’t beat Philly and/or the Saints. This is, after all, the NFL. And didn’t Tampa Bay nearly beat the Falcons? Speaking of which …

3. This coach won’t let this team quit, and this team won’t quit on Mike Smith. They could have rolled over Sunday. …

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5 reasons Paul Johnson isn’t going to Notre Dame

1. He’s a little too much like Charlie Weis. Meaning: He’s blunt, and he can’t be coached in the gentle art of public relations. That works in Atlanta, where there’s one daily newspaper, but might not in South Bend, where the college team is covered by the Chicago papers in addition to the South Bend folks. Notre Dame is going to want a charmer this time around, someone who can schmooze with Regis about the big game. PJ has never heard of Reege, let alone Kelly.

2. Notre Dame isn’t just a program; it’s a TV show. Meaning: Appearances matter. NBC might not be thrilled about the prospects of airing a team that runs the football 83 percent of the time. (Understand: I admire  Johnson’s offense. But I’m not a network programmer.)

3. Notre Dame cares about recruiting rankings. Johnson famously does not. The subway alumni wouldn’t like it if their adopted team didn’t show up in Rivals’ top 10. (Understand: I’m with Johnson on this one, too. Recruiting rankings are overblown — ask …

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5+1 reasons UGA’s loss was even worse than it seemed

Here's the first of Joe Cox's several interceptions. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Here's the first of Joe Cox's several interceptions. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

1. With Georgia within 14 points and still 10 minutes to  play, some 10,000 Georgia backers  up and left. Think about that. You’ve paid for tickets, parking, food, hotel and  gas/airfare to come watch your team, and your team still has a theoretical chance. (One tipped pass and  it’s a one-score game.) And you have so little faith in your team that you walk out. And your program has won 10 or more games six times in the past seven seasons. This would seem to say, at least to me, that Mark Richt is losing his constituency.

2. When Georgia pulled within 14-10, it did its huddle-up-and-jump-around thing on the sideline, and I typed on the live chat, “I smell a late hit coming.” It came on the kickoff. Michael Gilliard, late hit. It is uncanny how this team cannot play by the rules.

3. Florida scored 41 points without doing anything extraordinary. No Gator rushed for 100 yards. No Gator had 100 yards …

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5 ways UGA (and Mrs. Dooley) can sack the mighty Gators

1. In the attempt to show the world there’s no SEC bias toward Florida, Mike Slive deputizes a completely unbiased septet of refs: Vince Dooley, Barbara Dooley, Don Leebern, Sonny Seiler, Loran Smith, Chuck Dowdle and Bill King. (Replay official:  Some guy named Munson.) The Gators are called for 77 penalties. Georgia wins 2-0 when Barbara Dooley sacks Tim Tebow in the end zone.

2. Herschel Walker realizes he left one year of eligibility on the table, and Michael Adams, in his new capacity as president of the NCAA, hastily grants the appeal for reinstatement. And Herschel, at age 46, does what he has already done three times — beat the hated Gators essentially by himself. Then he rides off into the sunset to become an FBI agent.

3. With the Gators leading 16-10, Florida readies for the clinching field goal. Urban Meyer gets so carried away with his timeouts that he calls all three to ice his own kicker. Georgia blocks the resulting try and returns it for the winning …

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