Archive for the ‘Bradley's Buzz’ Category

Bradley’s Buzz: The Falcons look down on the Patriots

This is a clip-and-save moment: The Falcons head to New England ranked ahead — repeat, ahead — of the Patriots. And that’s not a minority opinion. It’s nigh-unanimous.

Don Banks of SI.com has the Falcons No. 7 to the Patriots’ No. 9 in his power rankings. Adrian Hasenmayer of FoxSports has the Falcons No. 3 — No. 3! — to New England’s No. 8, and so does Pete Prisco of CBSsports.com, who covered the Falcons’ game against Carolina.

ESPN.com has the Falcons No. 4 to the Pats’ No. 10 in its overall survey. Diving deeper, we note that all four of ESPN’s participating analysts have the Falcons ahead of New England, and Paul Kuharsky has them No. 2 overall — No. 2! — behind the Giants.

And then we move to NFL.com, where seven of eight experts have the Falcons ranked ahead of New England. Pat Kirwan and Joe Theismann have them No. 3, which is the high. The low comes from Michael Lombardi, who has the Falcons No. 11 to the Pats’ No. 5.

Seeing as how the NFL named a trophy after Michael …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Is there tension between Cox and Wren?

Esteemed former colleague Gordon Edes writes on Yahoo! Sports that a rift may have developed between Bobby Cox and Frank Wren. From Edes’ report:

“Another situation that bears watching is in Atlanta, where manager Bobby Cox has been hedging about whether he will be back. According to a major league source, the relationship between Cox and GM Frank Wren deteriorated during the spring to the point that Cox packed his bag and climbed into his car to drive home from spring training until dissuaded from doing so by one of his coaches.

“Cox was unhappy at the way the John Smoltz issue had been handled, the source said, and because he had not been kept up to speed on other personnel decisions. The relationship appears to have been patched up, although the parting with Tom Glavine was another strained episode, and the expectation is that Cox will be back because he’s excited that the Braves have another core of young talent developing. Stay tuned.”

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Wren …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN assesses Tech-Miami and picks …

As we know, there’s never any cross-promotion between ESPN the TV network and ESPN.com. (Cough, cough. Roll eyes. Cough again.) But sometimes that’s OK. Because otherwise we wouldn’t get this extemely detailed breakdown of Thursday night’s Georgia Tech-Miami game, courtesy of ESPN’s Scouts Inc.

Because this is one of those requires-registration deals, I’ll quote liberally:

“Allen Bailey, Josh Holmes and Marcus Forston give Miami a formidable rotation of defensive tackles that will hold their ground working against the Yellow Jackets’ interior offensive linemen. Behind them, MLB Darryl Sharpton is a downhill thumper who has the strength to help neutralize powerful B-back Jonathan Dwyer and slow down QB Josh Nesbitt between the tackles …

“Georgia Tech will have problems converting in third-and-long situations. CBs Brandon Harris, Sam Shields and Ryan Hill possess the speed and quickness to shadow Thomas and Cone. In addition, Nesbitt has had issues with his timing and accuracy, …

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Bradley’s Buzz: An invisible link about UGA’s Carlton Thomas

Doggone it! Here's someone else I neglected to mention! (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Doggone it! Here's someone else I neglected to mention! (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Carlton Thomas. How could I forget Carlton Thomas?

In a perfect world — meaning: in a world where college games didn’t last four hours, leaving me 20 minutes to write a print column after doing a five-hour live chat — I’d have sung the praises of Carlton Thomas in this little submission. But his name isn’t in there, for a rather basic reason:

I forgot to mention him.

Carlton Thomas made maybe the biggest play of Georgia’s victory over South Carolina, and it was a pure hustle play, and what makes this so embarrassing is that I pretty much wrote about hustle. Which makes me the biggest idiot in the history of sports writing. (Don’t tell me. You knew that already, didn’t you?)

I wrote about DeAngelo Tyson blocking the extra point. I got Rennie Curran in there — I never forget Rennie Curran, who’s unforgettable — for deflecting Stephen Garcia’s final pass. But I left out Carlton Thomas. And …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Everybody (well, almost) loves the Falcons

The extremely handsome Matt Ryan has many admirers. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The extremely handsome Matt Ryan has many admirers. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

So I watched the Falcons through their uninspiring preseason and was starting to think, “Maybe I overclubbed.” (I’d picked them to go 10-6 and win the NFC South.) But now I find I’m only one among many gushing pundits. To wit:

Pete Prisco of CBSsports.com ranks the Falcons the NFL’s seventh-best team and the third-best (behind the Giants and the Eagles) in the NFC. Writes Prisco: “They will be in a lot of shootouts in 2009. The offense will be better, but there are issues with the defense, especially the secondary.”

ESPN.com has them eighth in the league and also third in the NFC. Writes Mike Sando: “A year of seasoning for Matt Ryan should put the Falcons in better position. Coach Mike Smith’s even keel also seems helpful.”

• The idiosyncratic Gregg Easterbrook, who writes the Tuesday Morning Quarterback for ESPN.com, goes all haiku with his predictions. He has the Falcons finishing 10-6 — …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Peter King picks the Falcons, and woe is he!

More of that great Falcon D. But I still think they'll be OK. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

More of that great Falcon D. But I still think they'll be OK. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Poor, poor pitiful Peter

I’ve known Peter King for 30 years, or since he was at the Cincinnati Enquirer and I was working in Lexington. There’s not a nicer guy or a harder worker in the biz. But I feel truly sorry for Industrious Pete today. Because he picked the Falcons to go 10-6 and win the NFC Southsame as I did! And we know what that means, don’t we?

Pete’s SI.com colleague Don Banks sees it differently. He picks the Saints to win the South and the Falcons to miss the playoffs. And Clark Judge of CBSsports.com likewise picks New Orleans. Of the Birds, he writes: “I’m not sure why, but I don’t see it happening again. Maybe it’s because I trust history, and history tells us that when the Falcons go to the playoffs they fizzle the following season.”

I won’t lie. I was utterly underwhelmed by the Falcons’ preseason. (I was appalled by the defensive non-showing against the …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN prescribes Vitamin D for the Falcons

There’s no defense for the indefensible, or something like that

Apparently Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com saw the same game I did. Because he spent the entirety of his post on the Falcons’ victory over San Diego — was there ever a victory so misleading? — discussing the winning team’s defense. Or the abject lack of same. Wrote Yasinskas:

“The Falcons aren’t going to go out and blow up their defense at the end of the preseason. They’re going with what they’ve got and that’s a little scary. They could have gone out and grabbed some blue-chip defensive backs in the offseason. But they didn’t.

“They’re going with Brent Grimes and Chris Houston as their starting cornerbacks and Erik Coleman and Thomas DeCoud as their starting safeties, for better or worse. If the Falcons are going to make the best of this, they need to do some of the same things they do with their offensive line. They don’t have a tremendous amount of talent there, but they make the most of it because they hide their …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Michael Vick returns with a shovel pass

I laughed at this line from John Gonzalez in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “We’ve been held hostage by the Great Vick Debate for two weeks.” And I thought: “Two whole weeks? Poor dears!”

As you know, Michael Vick is now an Eagle, and he made his first appearance for his new franchise Thursday night. And this spawned the sort of Vick back-and-forth’ing we Atlantans have come to regard as Standard Operating Procedure. The NAACP had promised some sort of rally outside Lincoln Financial Field, but apparently it never really developed. Gonzalez counted more media personnel than supporters and wrote this:

“People are still taking sides and shouting, but it is lame sound and fury signifying that principles don’t really matter as long as the media give you the 15 minutes you desperately crave. Who needs courage or convictions when there are soapboxes to stand on and bullhorns to shout into and spotlights to court?

“It’s all so reflexive now with Vick. Love him. Hate him. Doesn’t matter. …

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Bradley’s Buzz: GT’s Dwyer is on Mel’s board; Tebow isn’t

Dwyer breaks another, and this wasn't even against UGA. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Dwyer breaks another, and this wasn't even against UGA. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

First running back taken in April will be a Jacket

Here’s how big this Mel Kiper Jr. thing has gotten: Mel reveals his first Big Board of the 2010 Draft — which isn’t, as you might surmise, scheduled to occur until next year — and ESPN.com Insiders not only makes a huge deal out of of it but also gives us a feature entitled, “Behind Mel’s First Big Board,” written not by Mel but by Chris Sprow.

Because this is Insiders content, any link requires registration, we’ll do a deep dive — “deep dive” is a buzz phrase I took from last month’s AJC brainstorming — and give you most of the big names. Sam Bradford, the OKlahoma quarterback, is No. I overall. Eric Berry, the Tennessee safety, is No. 2. Carlos Dunlap, the Florida defensive end, is No. 3. Jevan Snead, the Ole Miss quarterback, is No. 7. And Dez Bryant and Russell Okung, a receiver and a tackle from Oklahoma State (which you’ll be seeing in …

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The Hot Button: Can Bobby Cox handle a pitching staff?

You know, I don’t just write these little posts. I listen to what you folks have to say about them. And in the wake of the Mets’ eight-run inning against Derek Lowe on Tuesday — not to be confused with the Braves’ eight-run inning against Bobby Parnell on Wednesday — the matter of Bobby Cox and his pitchers arose yet again.

I would suggest a check of the Braves’ team ERA over the fullness of time stands as powerful evidence that Cox does indeed know how to wrangle pitchers. From 1991 through 2002, the Braves finished first, second or third in the National League in ERA every blessed season. The only way that happens is if a staff stays healthy. The only way a staff stays healthy is if the guy in charge doesn’t overwork his men.

I know, I know. Cox had Leo Mazzone rockin’ beside him back then, and it was only after the 2002 season that the Hall of Fame rotation came unstuck — Glavine left for the Mets and Millwood was traded to Philly — and the Braves’ pitching hasn’t been …

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