Three Journalists Join Jason Whitlock’s ESPN Site for African-American Audiences

espn-logoJesse Washington, Danielle Cadet and Ryan Cortes will join the editorial team for Jason Whitlock’s soon-to-launch site that will provide in-depth coverage, commentary and insight on sports, race and culture directed towards the African-American audience.

Jesse Washington, a veteran writer and editor, joins the project as a senior writer, based on the East Coast. Danielle Cadet, a former writer/editor for “The Huffington Post Black Voices,” will be a senior editor for the site, based in Los Angeles, Calif. Ryan Cortes will be based in Los Angeles as a staff writer.

“Jesse, Danielle and Ryan represent the diversity of perspective, experience and background it will take to cover the intersection of sports, race and culture in an impactful, thoughtful and fair way,” said Whitlock, the site’s founder and editor-in-chief. “I’m honored they’ve joined us on this important journey.”

Washington joins ESPN from the Associated Press where he has been the national writer on race and ethnicity since July 2008. Previously, he held several positions as AP’s entertainment editor, editor in chief of Blaze magazine, and managing editor of Vibe magazine.
A Yale University graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in English, Washington is author of “Black Will Shoot,” a novel about the hip-hop culture.

Cadet joins Whitlock’s ESPN project from “The Huffington Post Black Voices” where she led the site’s breaking news coverage of several national stories, including the Trayvon Martin murder case in Florida and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer and its resultant civil protests in Ferguson, Mo.

Cadet holds bachelor and master’s degrees from the Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She was named on Ebony.com’s list of “8 Dynamic Black Women Editors in New Media” in March 2013.

Cortes joins ESPN after contributing to several media outlets, including the “Broward New Times” in South Florida, Lifestyle Magazine group, Life Publications and others. He is multimedia journalism graduate of Florida Atlantic University and was named the Florida College Press Association’s 2012 College Journalist of the Year.

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ESPN NFL Content Week 11

Sunday NFL Countdown logoSunday NFL Countdown: Eddie Lacy’s New Home; Beast Mode; Believing in Drew Stanton; Tom BradySoundtracks; and More
Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis will preview the weekend’s NFL games on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 10 a.m. Anchor/host Wendi Nix will handle select segments, while NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will report the day’s headlines and news.

Reporters at game sites:

  • Seahawks at Chiefs (Lindsay Czarniak and Ron Jaworski)
  • Texans at Browns (Bob Holtzman)
  • 49ers at Giants (Josina Anderson)
  • Eagles at Packers (Sal Paolantonio)
  • Lions at Cardinals (Ed Werder)

Features:

  • Eddie Lacy’s New Home: Eddie Lacy Jr.’s family – Wanda, Eddie Lacy Sr. and their four children – was displaced during Hurricane Katrina nine years ago. During the offseason, the Packers second-year running back bought a house for his mom and dad, moving them from the trailer they had called home for the past eight years. Last Monday,Countdown reporter Michelle Beisner joined the 2013 NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year on his first trip back to the new home
  • Beast Mode: In their own words, Marshawn Lynch and his Seahawks teammates discuss what happens when the running back goes into “beast mode.”
  • Believing in Drew Stanton: After losing quarterback Carson Palmer to a season-ending ACL tear, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arias proclaimed, “We can win the Super Bowl with (backup quarterback) Drew Stanton.” Reporter Jim Trotter sits with the journeyman quarterback to discuss the opportunities and challenges of leading the Cardinals.
  • Soundtracks – Tom Brady: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, wired for in-game sound during the team’s week 9 home win over rival Peyton Manning and the Broncos, will be featured in Sunday’s Soundtracks. 

ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers Face the Titans in Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans host Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Music City on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on November 17 at 8:15 p.m. The MNF team of announcer Mike Tirico, analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporterLisa Salters will call the game from LP Field in Nashville.

In addition to the ESPN telecast, MNF will be available on ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN for fans with video subscriptions from affiliated providers.

Leading into the matchup is Monday Night Countdown at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Suzy Kolber hosts the show from LP Field with NFL analysts Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis and Steve Young, while Chris Berman hosts from the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., with NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.

Monday Night Countdown features:

  • Soundtracks – Best of Ben Roethlisberger: Eleven years into his career, Ben Roethlisberger is having one of his finest seasons statistically, and has Pittsburgh back in playoff contention.  Soundtracks features some of the best in-game audio in the career of the two-time Super Bowl winning Steelers quarterback.
  • Rick Reilly’s Feature – Antonio Brown: Countdown’s Rick Reilly explores the relationship between Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown and his father Eddie, who is one of the greatest players in Arena Football League history.
  • Gruden’s Grill Session with Kenny Chesney: With Monday Night Football in Music City (Nashville, Tenn.), Jon Gruden visits with country music star and football fan Kenny Chesney.

NFL Matchup: Seahawks Ground Game-Chiefs Defense; Disrupting Rob Gronkowski; Jordan Matthews’ Explosive Play; and More
NFL Matchup host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge preview the weekend’s key matchups via a film-room Xs and Os analysis on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 (re-airs on ESPN, Sunday at 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.).  Highlights:

  • Spotlight on Seahawks Ground Game vs. Chiefs Defense: After an impressive 350-yard rushing performance, the Seahawks look to keep their run-game momentum going at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs, who rank 20th against the run, will need to find ways to account for the multiple backfield weapons of the Seahawks. Jaworski and Hoge explain.
  • Between the Lines – Slot Receiver Golden Tate: Jaworski explains why the Arizona Cardinals defense will need to focus on Golden Tate, who has the second-most receiving yards this year from the slot position.
  • Jaws playbook – Jordan Matthews’ Explosive Play: Jaworski shows how the Eagles designed a play for Jordan Matthews to beat man-to-man coverage, a design they will repeat in this week’s matchup against the Packers, who played man coverage 67% of the time last year.
  • Blitz Breakdown – Eagles’ Creative Blitz Designs: Hoge illustrates the ways the blitz packages of the Eagles will confuse the interior lineman and the Packers running backs this week.
  • Let’s See it Hoge – Disrupting Rob Gronkowski: The Colts will look to steal a page from the defensive playbook of the Chiefs, who hindered Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski by disrupting him at the line of scrimmage, Hoge explains.
  • Game Within the Game – Patriots Defensive Disguises: Jaworski explains how the Patriots are so effective at confusing quarterbacks through their use of post-snap coverage adjustments, something to look for in their matchup this week against Andrew Luck.
  • Coach’s Clicker – San Francisco Offense Back to Basics: The 49ers returned to their power running game last week, and a favorable matchup against the Giants bodes well for a big performance from Frank Gore, contends Hoge.

NFL on ESPN Radio: San Francisco 49ers at the New York Giants on Sunday

The NFL on ESPN Radio continues Sunday, Nov. 16, at 12 p.m., as Eli Manning and the New York Giants host Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.

ESPN.com NFL Hot Read: Earl Thomas’ Play

In this week’s ESPN.com NFL Hot Read and two accompanying pieces, senior NFL columnist Jeffri Chadiha profiles Seattle Seahawks defensive back Earl Thomas on the painstaking mental preparation and competitive fire that make him NFL’s top safety. Story. Accompanying Seahawks content:

  • ESPN The Magazine’s Jordan Brenner looks at how the rapid rise of safeties and do-it-all defensive backs give defensive units in the NFL a fighting chance against the emergent spread offenses. (Also in Nov. 10 issue of ESPN the Magazine.)
  • Writer Greg Garber on the curious tale of the roaming gnome and how Seahawks fans are baffled by the statue’s mysterious travels with video content by Sunday NFL Countdown.

Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray and Texans’ JJ Watt on Cover of New ESPN The Magazine State of Football Issue

Dallas Cowboys record-setting running back DeMarco Murray and Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, appear on separate covers of ESPN The Magazine’s new “State of Football” Issue, on newsstands Friday, Nov. 14. Planned features.

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Taylor Twellman Signs Multiyear Extension to Stay at ESPN

espn-logoTaylor Twellman, ESPN’s lead soccer match analyst for Major League Soccer and the U.S. Men’s National Team, has agreed to an extension with ESPN through 2022, it was announced today by senior coordinating producer Amy Rosenfeld.

Twellman, who has quickly emerged as one of the sport’s top analysts, will continue his dual role as a match and studio analyst for ESPN’s television and digital platforms. He will call USMNT and MLS matches and work studio and games during ESPN’s presentation of the UEFA European Football Championship 2016 in France. Twellman will also remain a primary analyst for ESPN FC on TV, the company’s daily soccer news and information program.

“Taylor’s vast knowledge of the game – both American and world football overall, coupled with his passion for the sport and his ability to seamlessly transition from the booth to the studio make him a producer’s dream,” said Rosenfeld, who oversees ESPN’s soccer production. “We are delighted he chose to remain with ESPN.”

Twellman joined ESPN in November 2011, barely a year after his career as one of Major League Soccer’s most-prolific goal-scorers was prematurely cut short due to multiple concussions. His fresh, off-the-field perspective has since established him as one the country’s leading analysts via his work on U.S. Men’s National Team matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Twellman paired with acclaimed match commentator Ian Darke during the most-viewed soccer match ever on U.S. television – ESPN’s 2014 FIFA World Cup opening round telecast of USA vs. Portugal, seen by an average of 18,220,000 viewers in June. Twellman was also praised for his work in-studio during both UEFA EURO 2012 and on the “Last Call” set in Brazil this summer for his pointed analysis and candid remarks on head injuries and concussions in soccer.

“From Day 1 here at ESPN, I felt at home. I have been challenged, critiqued, and pushed to become a better broadcaster but more importantly I have enjoyed every second of it,” said Twellman. “I love the people I work with, the quality of programming and the sense of building a product together and ESPN’s commitment to soccer is long-standing and ultimately a great fit. I can’t wait for the next eight years”

Twellman played eight professional seasons for Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution where his scoring – 101 career goals – helped lead the team to its most-successful era from 2002-07.  With Twellman at forward, the Revs played in four MLS Cups (2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007), two MLS Eastern Conference Finals (2003 and 2004), won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2004 and the North American SuperLiga in 2008.

Twellman also played three seasons (1999-2002) with German Bundesliga club 1860 Munich.

Since his career-ending injury, Twellman has dedicated himself to raising awareness about the dangers of concussions and head injuries, particularly in soccer, through the THINKTAYLOR Foundation. He has become a sought-after speaker and international advocate for concussion awareness in sports.

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Men’s College Basketball: All-Star Commentator Lineup on ESPN’s Extensive 2014-15 Coverage

espn-college-bbESPN’s 2014-15 men’s college basketball telecasts – more than 1,600 games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN3, ESPN FULL COURET, SEC Network and Longhorn Network – will showcase a deep roster of experienced commentators. 

ESPN will provide fans with live coverage of at least one game every day but three from November 14 to March 8 (December 24 and 26 and January 12). The wealth of experience working games on ESPN networks include former Division I coaches and NBA, WNBA and collegiate players, along with versatile and veteran play-by-play voices.

Non-conference coverage of more than 700 contests gets underway Friday, Nov. 14, with a full slate of games including the Armed Forces Classic pitting No. 8 Louisville, and head coach Rick Pitino, against Minnesota, and his son Richard, fromUnited States Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Commentator Highlights

  • Analyst Jay Bilas, entering his 21st season at ESPN, will be paired with Dan Shulman and reporter Shannon Spakeon the Saturday Primetime Presented by DIRECTV game that host’s that day’s College GameDay Driven by State Farm.
  • Bilas and Basketball Hall of Famer Dick Vitale, who enters his 36th season calling games for the network, will each call key ESPN weekday matchups across multiple conferences. Vitale will also work a marquee game each Saturday.
  • College GameDay gets a fresh look in its 11th season as host Rece Davis and Bilas are joined by first-year GameDayanalysts Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams. The foursome will help carry out a new flexible schedule that will give theSaturday morning show more ability to react to storylines as the season develops to better ensure visits to top games on ESPN networks each week, beginning on the road Saturday, Jan. 17.
  • Davis will also call a Thursday Night Showcase game involving Big Ten teams.
  • Shane Battier, fresh off a lengthy and successful NBA career, will join play-by-play veteran Sean McDonough and reporter Allison Williams on the ACC Big Monday package.
  • The trio of Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe return to work the second half of the Big Mondaydoubleheader featuring Big 12 programs.
  • Mike Tirico, one of ESPN’s most versatile commentators and the voice of Monday Night Football, pairs again with analyst Dan Dakich and reporter Samantha Ponder for the weekly Big Ten Super Tuesday game. Dakich will also call aSaturday Big Ten contest with Bob Wischusen.
  • ESPN’s weekly Super Tuesday SEC telecast, will see the return of Brad Nessler and Spake, and adds analyst Sean Farnham. Farnham will join Joe Tessitore on the Thursday SEC telecast.
  • Kara Lawson will work with Mark Jones to call the Saturday SEC window.
  • Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton will again have the call of Pac-12 games on Wednesday and Thursday nights with Dave Pasch.
  • ACC games will also be covered by Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke (Saturday), as well as Bob Wischusen andLaPhonso Ellis (Wednesday).
  • Big 12 Tuesdays will be called by Dave Flemming and Miles Simon, in addition to the league’s Saturday games called by Jon Sciambi and Fraschilla.
  • American games will see Mike Patrick on Thursdays and Saturdays with Len Elmore and Bob Knight, in addition to O’Brien and Burke working select AAC Thursday games.
  • Several analysts return to ESPN and ESPN’s studio coverage – with a consistent presence from Battier, Greenberg and Williams.
  • Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame member and former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun joins ESPN provide insight and analysis, including studio programming, joining select game telecasts and conducting sit-down interviews with top figures in the game.
  • New faces on ESPNU include former coaches Craig Robinson and Stan Heath, and former college and pro standoutBrad Daugherty, who returns to work ESPN games after several years as a NASCAR analyst. He will call select ACC college basketball games, including the ESPNU ACC Sunday Night Basketball series with Adam Amin.
  • SEC Network will televise 118 men’s games in its inaugural season and will include analysts Dane Bradshaw, Barry Booker, Joe Dean, Jr., Tony Delk, Daymeon Fishback, Darrin Horn, Jon Sundvold and Will Purdue, as well as play-by-play commentators Dave Neal, Tom Hart and Dave Baker.
  • Longhorn Network will surround the network’s 10 exclusive Texas men’s basketball games with studio programming that includes a simulcast of Coach Rick Barnes weekly radio show and original content such as LHN All-Access. Paul Sunderland and Lowell Galindo will call play-by-play for the network with analysts Lance Blanks and Reid Gettys.

 

Studio Coverage

In addition to Greenberg, Battier and Williams, ESPN and ESPN2 studio programming will also include Dakich, Ellis, Farnham, Fraschilla, Jeff Goodman, Andy Katz, Lawson and Miles Simon.

ESPNU will rotate its studio coverage including analysts Dino Gaudio and Adrian Branch, along with hosts Brendan Fitzgerald, Matt Schick and Anish Shroff.

ESPN Buzzer Beater

Analyst Tim McCormick will be seen on ESPN Buzzer Beater – which offers live cut-ins and highlights from numerous top college basketball games Saturdays from noon ET to 11 p.m. and Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., beginning Saturday, Jan. 10.

ESPN.com

Katz, Goodman, Eamonn Brennan, Myron Medcalf, Dana O’Neil, C.L Brown and John Gasaway will provide reporting, analysis and original video on ESPN.com throughout the season, while Paul Biancardi, Jeff Borzello, Adam Finkelsteinand Reggie Rankin will break down what is going on in college basketball recruiting. Also, Bracketologist Joe Lunardi will keep an eye on what the NCAA Championship field might look like come March.

Season Overview

Announcers across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN3, SEC Network and Longhorn Network will call games involving more than 300 teams from all 32 Division I conferences. 

Commentators can also be seen during ESPN’s popular weekly series’ beginning in January – Big Monday Presented by Verizon, Super Tuesday, Wednesday Night Hoops, Thursday Night Showcase, College GameDay Covered by State Farm,Saturday Primetime Presented by DIRECTV and ESPNU ACC Sunday Night Basketball – plus a full slate of games throughout the season. 

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Experienced Core of Commentators & New Faces Enhance ESPN’s Women’s College Basketball Coverage

espn-logoESPN’s 2014-15 women’s college basketball regular-season schedule – featuring a record-high exclusive games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, SEC Network and Longhorn Network – will be supported by a field of experienced and dedicated commentators.

Highlights

·         Sue Bird, WNBA star and former All-American at UConn, has joined ESPN for the 2014-15 season and will call games on ESPN2, ESPNU and Longhorn Network this season.

·         The Final Four announcing team of Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke will reunite for marquee games throughout the season, beginning with the UConn-Stanford Tip-Off Marathon Presented by Dish telecast on Monday, Dec. 17, as well as the Jimmy V Women’s Classic Presented by Corona featuring top-ranked UConn at No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 6.

·         Host Kevin Negandhi joins analysts Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo for numerous top regular-season games from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios.

·         Veteran analyst Carolyn Peck and play-by-play commentator Pam Ward will be pulling double-duty this season, calling games across all ESPN networks, with the majority on ESPN2 and SEC Network.

·         SEC Network will air more than 60 games this season, and the network added former coaches Gail Goestenkors andCarol Ross to its lineup of analysts.

o    Also making appearances on the SEC Network will be analysts Debbie Antonelli, Nell Fortner andSteffi Sorenson, as well as play-by-play commentators Cara Capuano, Melissa Lee, Paul Sunderlandand Brenda VanLengen.

·         Beth Mowins, a multi-sport play-by-play voice, will team with Stephanie White for most of the Big Monday series, beginning in January 19.

·         Familiar names returning to the analyst chair are LaChina Robinson and Brooke Weisbrod.

·         Katie Smith, the most-decorated player in Ohio State women’s basketball history and former WNBA standout, will call games on ESPN2, ESPNU and Longhorn Network.

·         Longhorn legends Fran Harris and Nell Fortner, former coach at Auburn and ESPN analyst, will call LHN’s 14 exclusive women’s games.

espnW.com

Throughout the 2014-15 women’s college basketball season, Charlie Creme, Kate Fagan, Graham Hays, Rebecca Lobo, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel will cover the top teams, players and storylines around the country with feature stories, commentary, analysis and original video.

espnW.com will present the women’s national player of the week every Monday of the season for the third consecutive year. Creme will continue to project Women’s Bracketology, a look at what the 64-team women’s NCAA Championship field will look like on Selection Monday, while Hays will produce a mid-major top-10 poll every other week throughout the season.

In addition, the three-episode series, espnW presents: The Geno Auriemma Project will air November 16, February 9 and April 10 on ESPN2. espnW.com will have exclusive related content, including 10, two- to four-minute features on Auriemma and the team, as well as 10, 30-second vignettes. Select vignettes will air during game and studio telecasts throughout the season. espnW.com writer Kate Fagan will have an oral history  that will accompany the series. Excerpts from each episode will also be available on espnW.com.

“3 to See” & “Need to Know”

ESPN will continue to promote the top players in the women’s game through it’s’ “3 to See” and “Need to Know” initiatives. The two brands will be present all season long on ESPN platforms with additional content on espnW.com.

·         Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut) and Jewell Lloyd (Notre Dame) make up the “3 to See” brand.

·         “3 to See” will be integrated in games involving Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart and Lloyd.

·         “Need to Know” players include: Nina Davis (Baylor); Brittany Boyd (Cal); Moriah Jefferson (UConn); Elizabeth Williams (Duke);            Lexi Brown (Maryland); Rachel Banham (Minnesota); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina); Aleighsa Welch (South Carolina); A’sa Wilson (South Carolina) and Isabelle Harrison (Tennessee).

·         The “Need to Know” brand will used throughout all women’s telecasts, and also include the “3 to See” players.

ESPN Non-Conference Commentator Assignments (subject to change)

Date Time (ET) Matchup Network
Sat, Nov 15 TBD UT San Antonio at No. 9 Texas

Fran Harris & Katie Smith

Longhorn Network
Sun, Nov 16 8 p.m. No. 7 Duke at Alabama

Cara Capuano & Nell Fortner

SEC Network
Mon, Nov 17 7 p.m. Tip-Off Marathon Presented by Dish: No. 8 Baylor at No. 11 Kentucky

Beth Mowins & Carolyn Peck

ESPN2
  9 p.m. Tip-Off Marathon Presented by Dish: No. 1 Connecticut at No. 6 Stanford

Dave O’Brien & Doris Burke

ESPN2
Thu, Nov 20 7 p.m. Clemson at No. 2 South Carolina

Cara Capuano & Gail Goestenkors

SEC Network
Wed, Nov 26 8 p.m. Texas Pan American at No. 9 Texas

Fran Harris & Nell Fortner

Longhorn Network
Sun, Nov 30 1 p.m. No. 7 Duke at No. 5 Texas A&M

Paul Sunderland & Gail Goestenkors

SEC Network
Mon, Dec 1 9 p.m. Virginia Tech at Florida

Cara Capuano & Carolyn Peck

SEC Network
Wed, Dec 3 7 p.m. Louisiana Tech at LSU

Cara Capuano & Carolyn Peck

SEC Network
  8 p.m. New Mexico at No. 9 Texas

Fran Harris & Nell Fortner

Longhorn Network
Thu, Dec 4 8 p.m. Charlotte at No. 2 South Carolina

Cara Capuano & Debbie Antonelli

SEC Network
Sat, Dec 6 3:15 p.m. Jimmy V Women’s Classic Presented by Corona: No. 1 Connecticut at No. 3 Notre Dame

Dave O’Brien & Doris Burke

ESPN
Sun, Dec 7 1 p.m. No. 2 South Carolina at No. 7 Duke

Pam Ward & Rebecca Lobo

ESPN2
  4 p.m. No. 14 Michigan State at Georgia

Paul Sunderland & Gail Goestenkors

SEC Network
Mon, Dec 8 Noon Southern at No. 9 Texas

Fran Harris & Nell Fortner

Longhorn Network
Wed, Dec 10 7 p.m. Wisconsin at Florida

Paul Sunderland & Carolyn Peck

SEC Network
Fri, Dec 12 9 p.m. Middle Tennessee State at No. 11 Kentucky

Cara Capuano & Carol Ross

SEC Network
Sun, Dec 14 1 p.m. Mercer at Alabama

Cara Capuano & Carolyn Peck

SEC Network
  3 p.m. Holiday Hoops presented by Kay Jewelers: No. 4 Tennessee at No. 24 Rutgers

Pam Ward & LaChina Robinson

ESPN2
  Northwestern State at No. 9 Texas

Fran Harris & Katie Smith

Longhorn Network
  6 p.m. Belmont at No. 11 Kentucky

Brenda VanLengen & Gail Goestenkors

SEC Network
Tue, Dec 16 7 p.m. Wichita State at No. 4 Tennessee

Paul Sunderland & Nell Fortner

SEC Network
Wed, Dec 17 8 p.m. McNeese State at No. 11 Texas

Fran Harris & Nell Fortner

Longhorn Network
Sat, Dec 20 1 p.m. No. 6 Stanford at No. 4 Tennessee

Paul Sunderland & Nell Fortner

SEC Network
Sun, Dec 21 1:30 p.m. SEC/Big 12 Challenge: No. 11 Texas vs. No. 5 Texas A&M (Little Rock, Ark.)

Pam Ward, Carolyn Peck & Cara Capuano

SEC Network
3 p.m. Holiday Hoops presented by Kay Jewelers: No. 11 Kentucky at No. 7 Duke

Beth Mowins & Stephanie White

ESPN2
  3:30 p.m. SEC/Big 12 Challenge: Oklahoma vs. Arkansas (Little Rock, Ark.)

Pam Ward, Carolyn Peck & Cara Capuano

SEC Network
  5 p.m. Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Holiday Showcase as part of Holiday Hoops presented by Kay Jewelers: No. 23 UCLA vs. No. 1 Connecticut (Uncasville, Conn.)

Dave O’Brien & Rebecca Lobo

ESPN2
Sun, Dec 28 Noon East Carolina at USF

Roy Philpott & Steffi Sorensen

ESPNU
  1 p.m. Oregon State at No. 4 Tennessee

Sam Gore & Nell Fortner

SEC Network
  8:30 p.m. Temple at Memphis

Melissa Lee & LaChina Robinson

ESPNU
Mon, Dec 29 9 p.m. No. 7 Duke at No. 1 Connecticut

Beth Mowins & Stephanie White

ESPN2
Tue, Dec 30 8 p.m. Rice at No. 9 Texas

Fran Harris & Nell Fortner

Longhorn Network
Sun, Jan 4 1 p.m. No. 1 Connecticut vs. St. John’s (New York, N.Y.) ESPN2
Mon, Feb. 9 8 p.m. No. 2 South Carolina at No. 1 Connecticut ESPN2

 

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ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 9

Sunday NFL Countdown logo 
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis previewed today’s NFL games with insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some comments from today’s show:
 
On the impact of the snowy weather in Foxborough and how Denver and New England prepare for today’s game …
Johnson: “It’s so funny, every time New England gets ready to play somebody like a Manning, it’s like dial up something. It will be a snow, rain. It’s not their fault. It just happens to work that way. … We’re forgetting that he (Peyton Manning) has been in Denver now for a couple of years. In our minds, they’re still thinking of Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, coming out of a dome, coming to Foxborough. Let’s not forget, it does rain in Denver. There is snow. There’s bad weather. He’s played in bad weather.”
Jackson: “We know that Tom Brady plays great in this weather. That’s the thing that New England will bring to the table. He has a ball that has great velocity on it, that cuts through the wind. That cuts through the snow. I’ve seen him in this and I’ve seen him play great. He is not greatly affected by this weather. … For the Broncos, I think it comes down to: how well are you going to run the ball against the New England Patriots in this kind of weather if you have to.”
Carter: “The worst thing for Peyton Manning is not a pass-rush. It is the wind. Why? Because when he throws the ball, he throws the ball with a wobble to it. He has great velocity but the wind hits the front of the ball and the back of his ball. That’s why he’s least effective in the wind. … Trust me, when Peyton Manning’s looking at the weather, he’s looking at the wind no matter where he plays and no matter when he plays.”
Ditka: “The biggest factor will be the wind, but I think it will play a really big difference in the kicking game. … Things you take for granted, the short field goals, they’re no longer taken for granted. The hold. The snap. It could be a big problem in that area.”
On how the Broncos’ improved defense could play a big role today, especially with the weather …
Lewis: “Jack Del Rio has taken this defense to a totally different level. So, if you are asking who the pressure’s on, I truly believe today the pressure will be on Tom Brady.”
On whether rivalry games like Brady vs. Manning mean more …
Lewis: “These are the games that inspire me. These are the games that drove me. These are the games that you really earn what respect is. … When you talk about the rivalry that I had with Eddie George, that was pain. So mentally, you had to get up. … I had to deal with a giant, someone who was 6-4 and so light on his feet. It was that type of battle. That was old-school football. That’s when you appreciate it. The guy was great.”
Jackson: “Rivalries are usually driven by you trying to gain some success over someone that’s better than you. In my case, it was against the Oakland Raiders. … I made up stuff up in my mind so that I would hate them when we hit the field. So it made it very easy to play football. Is there a difference between the way I played them and everybody else? Yes. … I put everything I had emotionally into that.”
Carter: “In a rivalry, it brings out the good and bad in you. You can only have a rivalry when you have respect.”
On Robert Griffin III starting for the Redskins today – and in reaction to a report that the quarterback has alienated himself from teammates …
Jackson: “If in fact they are having a problem with RGIII … you have to come out, be available, and you have to play the kind of ball that you played your rookie year when they went to the playoffs.”
Ditka: “This guy’s a good guy. He’s a good football player. All of a sudden, I don’t know why everybody’s picking on him. He’s my quarterback. If he’s healthy, he plays.”
Lewis: “I would love to see Michael Jordan without a jump shot … RGIII’s ability – his magic – was his athletic ability, extending plays, making people miss. Now, that’s what he’s thinking about. … When you go through injuries like that, and that ‘it’ factor is what makes you special, what makes you different … that hasn’t happened in the last few years. You talk about the frustration with this guy, it’s way bigger than now just bringing him back because the ‘it’ factor is definitely missing.”
Johnson: “The case of RGIII is bad luck. … If you are doing your job and the team sees that – you’re winning games and completing passes – the hate will go away. You’re going to have doubters and haters in locker rooms. There’s going to be guys that are going to be jealous of you whether you win or you lose because you are the franchise. … If he comes around and starts to do that [win games], then all the other things will slowly go away.”
Carter: “I believe there’s a lot going on there and that blatant level of disrespect I don’t believe will go away. … Anytime the players want Colt McCoy as your starter instead of RGIII, that’s a serious problem. There’s only one reason RGIII wouldn’t be out there – because guys don’t like him.”
Berman: “When they won two years ago, the turnover from two years ago … a lot of these guys have never seen that winning with him. … A third, a half, whatever the roster, it’s different.”
On Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden benefiting from playing behind Tony Romo …
Ron Jaworski (reporting from the Cardinals-Cowboys game): “Brandon Weeden is the most prepared backup quarterback in the National Football League. Weeden has benefitted from the Tony Romo offseason surgery. Brandon Weeden worked all the first-unit reps in the offseason, every Wednesday. … So he’s ready to step in and play.”
Jackson: “There’s a difference between playing on Wednesday and Thursday, when you’re wearing the red jersey, when you know you’re not going to get hit, as opposed to the pressure that comes with getting on the field on Sunday afternoon against a Todd Bowles as a defensive coordinator who blitzes more than anybody in the league.”
Ditka: “As an organization, if you have a back quarterback that you don’t think you can win with, shame on you.”
And, on the importance of Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray while Romo is out …
Lewis: “With Romo’s injury, now you get to see the real value of DeMarco Murray.”
Johnson: “They’ve got to rely on DeMarco Murray here. If they do that, they have an opportunity. If not, Brandon Weeden will be sitting back there like a duck.”
On how the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry has changed in recent years …
Lewis: “This rivalry used to be (an) old-school rivalry where it was about smash-mouth football and smash-mouth defense. Now it’s about all the fancy passing schemes and throwing a bunch of touchdowns.”
On Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown …
Ditka: “If Ben plays like he did last week – if they play offense like they did last week — they will be in the Super Bowl.”
Jackson: “If you can’t cover Brown, then you are not going to beat them. He’s almost uncoverable right now. I’d say he’s the best receiver in the National Football League.”
On the Seattle Seahawks offense and the approach they should be taking …
Jackson: “I don’t want to see Russell Wilson run for 100 yards. I want to see Marshawn Lynch run for 100 yards, which means at the end of the game, he’ll finish you off because he’s worn you down.”
 
The three-hour Countdown show also included the following features:
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Brady vs. Manning Features Highlight Week 9 NFL Content on ESPN

Sunday NFL Countdown logoBrady vs. Manning Features Highlight Week 9 NFL Content on ESPN

Sunday NFL Countdown: Brady and Manning – Best of SNL; Cardinals WR John Brown; Seahawks Gnome; and More

Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis will preview week 8 on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 10 a.m. Anchor/host Wendi Nix will handle select segments, while NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will report the day’s headlines and news.

ESPN reporters at game sites:

·         Cardinals at Cowboys (Ed Werder and Ron Jaworski)

·         Eagles at Texans (Josina Anderson)

·         Chargers at Dolphins (Britt McHenry)

·         Broncos at Patriots (Sal Paolantonio)

Features:

·         Brady and Manning – Best of SNL: Off the field, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have both served as guest hosts of Saturday Night Live, America’s premier sketch comedy and variety show. Countdown presents some of the best moments of these two quarterbacks hosting SNL.

·         Playing with Manning and Brady: In their own words, some of the players who have played with both quarterbacks – WR Wes Welker, C Dan Koppen and DT/FB Dan Klecko – share the similarities, differences, strengths and weaknesses of these Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks.

·         Brady-Manning – Through the Years: Countdown relives the journey for Brady and Manning with a vignette dating back to their childhood, through pee wee football, high school, college football, and their careers in the NFL.

·         Aqib Talib: In a one-on-one conversation with Countdown’s Michelle Beisner, Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, formerly with the Patriots, discusses being teammates with Manning and Brady, playing for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, and more

·         Arizona Cardinals’ John Brown: After watching his half-brother James Walker die following nine months in a coma after being shot, John Brown vowed to make it to the NFL – a dream that bound the two brothers together. SportsCenter host Jade McCarthy, in her first report for Countdown, tells how the Cardinals rookie receiver has turned the tragedy into a motivating force behind his success in the National Football League.

·         The Seattle Gnome: After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl last season, a Seattle couple had the Seahawks gnome in their garden stolen. The gnome mysteriously re-appeared on the opening night of the 2014 season, along with a calendar of pictures showing the many places the gnome had travelled – San Francisco, Yellowstone Park, Las Vegas, and more. ESPN.com’s Greg Garber chronicles the mysterious off-season journey of a Seahawks gnome.

·         Frank Caliendo – Jon Gruden, The History Teacher: Countdown comedian Frank Caliendo plays ESPN Monday Night Football analyst and Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden as an American history teacher, including a Bob Ley cameo role as the school principal.

Andrew Luck and the Colts Face Eli Manning and the Giants on ESPN’s Monday Night Football

Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts will face Eli Manning and the New York Giants on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Nov. 3, at 8:15 p.m. The MNF booth team of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will call the game from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., with sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

MNF is also televised on ESPN Deportes and available on WatchESPN for fans with video subscriptions from affiliated providers.

The ESPN NFL lineup Monday begins with NFL Primetime (2 p.m.), followed by NFL Insiders (3 p.m.), NFL Live (4 p.m.) and the MNF pregame show Monday Night Countdown at 6 p.m. Countdown will originate from New Jersey with Suzy Kolber and NFL analysts Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis and Steve Young and from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn., with studio host Chris Berman, NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.

Monday Night Countdown features:

·         Soundtracks – Andrew Luck: In his third NFL season, Luck leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns and has thrown for 300+ yards in six straight games.  Luck, wired for in-game audio during the Colts’ week 5 win over the Ravens, is the subject of this week’s Soundtracks.

·         Gruden’s Grill Session with Ahmad Bradshaw: MNF’s Gruden sits with Colts running back Bradshaw, who talks about the matchup against his former team in this week’s Grill Session.

·         Rick Reilly’s Feature – Steve Weatherford: Weatherford might not only have the best physique on the New York Giants team, the punter is arguably at the top among active NFL players. Countdown’s Reilly reports on Weatherford’s non-stop energy in the gym, as well as his service to the community.

NFL Matchup – Patriots Defense vs. Manning; Carson Palmer to John Brown; Roethlisberger Throwing with Anticipation; and More

NFL Matchup host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge preview the weekend’s key matchups via fill room Xs and Os analysis Saturday, Nov. 1, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 (re-air on ESPN, Sunday at 3:30 a.m.).  Highlights:

·         Inside the Matchup – Patriots Defense vs. Manning: Jaworski and Hoge take a deep dive into how the Patriots will mix up their defensive schemes against Broncos receivers to stall the Peyton Manning-led offense.

·         X and O Files – Tom Brady Sack vs. Chiefs: In a key matchup versus a speedy Broncos pass rush, the Patriots offensive line must protect Tom Brady better than they did against the Chiefs’ in week 4.

·         Blitz Breakdown – Redskins Pressure Confuses Romo: The Redskins were able to bring pressure and disrupt the Cowboys passing game – something Tony Romo and his offensive line must fix before their matchup with the heavy-blitzing Arizona Cardinals defense.

·         Game Changer – Carson Palmer to John Brown: The Cardinals designed a perfect play to beat the Eagles defense last week, creating a matchup for speedy rookie wide receiver John Brown for the winning score.

·         Anatomy of a Play – Ryan Tannehill to Mike Wallace: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill shows his development as a passer by throwing a perfect touchdown to receiver Mike Wallace in the back of the end zone.

·         Hoge Breakdown – Roethlisberger Throwing with Anticipation: Hoge shows how the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger found his groove against the Colts, making perfect throws to his receivers by trusting they would be open against tight coverage.

·         Between the Lines – Luck to Hilton Touchdown: Jaworski explains how the big play ability of receiver T.Y. Hilton, and the downfield passing attack of the Colts, will be key in this week’s matchup against the Giants.

·         Coaches Clicker – Arian Foster’s Big Numbers: Jaworski and Hoge contend that if Houston wants to beat Philadelphia on Sunday, they will have to feed the ball to running back Arian Foster, who is compiling an impressive season in a well-designed running game. 

NFL on ESPN Radio: Nick Foles and the Eagles at J.J. Watt and the Texans Sunday

On Sunday, Nov. 2, at 12 p.m., ESPN Radio will broadcast Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles visiting J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans. Play-by-play voice Mark Kestecher will describe the action with reporter Ian Fitzsimmons.

Mike & Mike Celebrate Halloween in Foxborough on Fall Football Tour

ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike will broadcast live from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Halloween, Friday, Oct. 31, as part of ESPN Audio’s annual Fall Football Tour.  The show will preview the New England Patriots game against the Denver Broncos this weekend, and will feature Greeny and Golic dressed in Patriots-themed costumes.  Mike & Mike airs weekdays 6 – 10 a.m. on ESPN Radio via terrestrial stations, ESPNRadio.com, the ESPN Radio app, SiriusXM, iTunes Radio, Slacker, TuneIn and is simulcast on ESPN2.

Also, the show launched its “Who’s In? Mike & Mike at the College Football Playoff” contest earlier this week, in which listeners have the opportunity to win a trip to the College Football Championship game in Dallas.

ESPN.com NFL “Hot Read”

Ahead of the matchup between the two top NFL quarterbacks – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – ESPN.com features a three-pronged “Hot Read” on the matchup. Highlights:

·         Brady-Manning Finish Line: Insight from a roundtable of eight ESPN experts – Mike Reiss, Jackie MacMullan, Jeff Saturday, Bill Williamson, Kevin Seifert, Tedy Bruschi, Jeff Legwold and Field Yates – on what to expect in the last few years of the Hall of Fame careers of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

·         The ESPN Stats and Info blog delves into numbers and analysis via a “Next-Level” look inside the matchup of Brady vs. Manning.

·         Broncos-Patriots Salary Comparison: While Denver seems to have gone all-in on quarterback Peyton Manning’s championship window, New England seems unwilling to mortgage the future for Tom Brady. ESPN.com NFL Nation writer Kevin Seifert on how both organizations are building their teams to take advantage of the championship windows of their Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks.

E:60 Profiles Cam Newton

ESPN’s award-winning newsmagazine, E:60, will profile Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton on Tuesday, Nov. 4 (8 p.m., ESPN). Summary:

Cam Newton is used to being number one. He was the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He led his Auburn Tigers to the 2010 BCS National Championship. That season he also won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s top quarterback. Even his jersey with the Panthers is #1. It’s been this way since his father pushed him into youth football, and since he starred as a high school quarterback in Atlanta, GA. Greatness has been always been expected of Newton. But now in his fourth season with Carolina, many are wondering if he will reach the same heights in the NFL. Reporting for E:60, ESPN First Take host Cari Champion tells the story of the immensely talented Cam Newton, to whom much was given, and of whom even more is expected. Newton recounts, along with his father, the past incidents that cast doubt upon his integrity, and describes the maturation that could ultimately deliver the NFL success so many expect. Preview.

 

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Transcript: ABC & ESPN NBA Countdown Season Preview Media Conference Call

NBA_on_ABCABC and ESPN NBA Countdown analysts Jalen Rose and Doug Collins discussed the start of the 2014-15 NBA season on a media conference call. ESPN’s NBA season tips off Wednesday, Oct. 29, beginning with an hour-long NBA Countdown at 7 p.m. ET with Rose, Collins and host Sage Steele. The program will feature a live performance by International recording artist Aloe Blacc. Following Countdown, the Chicago Bulls and the returning Derrick Rose will visit the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony at 8 p.m. while the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard will host the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook at 10:30 p.m.
Here is the replay of today’s conference call.
Q.  With a couple of the top title contenders this year coming in San Antonio, Cleveland and Oklahoma City, while some of the big markets rebuild, I was wondering if you think that it’s a good thing for the league that a lot of the top teams and most marketable stars are in smaller markets rather than bigger markets now?
 
JALEN ROSE:  Well, a couple of things.  The game has graduated with social media, international and world presence, television sponsors – to where you can get the game and get the experience on so many different avenues. You know how people today basically watch television on their phone as they’re moving around.
So playing for a storied franchise – the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets – it’s not necessary per se to continue to make big time endorsement dollars, to continue to be the face of a franchise that’s successful, to be in one of those markets.  So if you’re a really good player like a Kevin Durant who gets drafted by Oklahoma City, you can become the MVP of the league and get exorbitant dollars from a shoe company, and at that point it’s all about winning.  It doesn’t work out for everybody like it worked out for Kobe Bryant getting five championships and spending his entire career in LA or even a Carmelo Anthony who just got a max deal.
If you’re in a good situation now, instead of chasing a large market like Kevin Love could have, he chose to chase the championship rings to Cleveland, something LeBron James couldn’t get people to do a handful of years ago.
Q.  I’m going to go parochial here with the Heat.  What do you expect from them this year?
       
ROSE:  I’ve got to see how many games Dwyane Wade is going to play, just like everyone else.  He has a few different phases to his career and that’s what happens when you become a veteran.  You reinvent yourself on and off the floor. He’s been really mature and handled himself like a leader and a champion off the floor, but on the floor early in the career, it was drive to the basket, contest and/or block shots, one or two spectacular dunks a game, Finals MVP champion.
Then there was what I consider, I guess, The Flash versus Flashes stage where you’ve got LeBron. First year he plays 76 games.  This past year he missed 28 games. Four Finals, two championships.
Now can he be that guy again that the team can rely on to play over 65 games?  I don’t know health wise if he’s going to be able to hold up, and because of that, that’s what’s going to make it a tough season for the Miami Heat, especially based on the recent success they’ve had.
Q.  I know the city of Boston has changed dramatically since you were in the league and you came out in ’94.  What would be your impressions for the city as a free agent destination?  They’re going to have cap space next summer, and obviously Doc is not here to sell the team, nor is Garnett or Pierce or Allen.  It’s going to have to be maybe Rondo or if not, a bunch of young guys.  How do you see Boston as a free agent destination?
       
ROSE:  Now if you’re a city like Boston where you haven’t been able to land terrific superstar level free agents other than your big three scenario with KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. It was literally a perfect storm with Doc Rivers standing on the sideline, a young Rajon Rondo, who developed into a high-level point guard.  That was more of the exception than the rule.
I know that they flirted somewhat with Kevin Love and didn’t get too far on trying to attract him as a free agent.  I think when you’re one of those destinations like Boston, you have to draft real well and hope that one of the guys that you’re taking with all the picks you’ve been stockpiling for the last few years either becomes a player that’s already under contract from another team that really has no choice but to come and play there, even if he wouldn’t sign as a free agent, or hope that one of those players turns into a multi-time All-Star that can play alongside Rajon Rondo.  Since that has not happened, you kind of have the picks, you kind of have the money.  You’ve still got Rondo, but you’re not contending in any way, shape or form, and you have the cap space next year.
I think it’s going to be crucial to see what happens with Rondo.  They have to turn him into a player and/or a few players that are going to be multi All Stars, and then once you’re able to do that and you’re a winner again, people always want to try to play for a winner.
Q.  How much does the city itself, obviously with Miami and LA it does, but in terms of just the money you get versus the city you’re playing in, can Milwaukee or Sacramento attract free agents if they have the right amount of money?
       
ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely.  I joke all of the time, keep getting them checks.  You’ve got enough money, you’ll get some players.  Now, the thing is, is it going to be the New York Knicks?  You sign Amar’e Stoudemire, it doesn’t turn out, all of a sudden you bring in Andrea Bargnani, you’re paying him over $10 million to go with Melo and Tyson Chandler. All of a sudden you’ve got the highest-paid front court in the NBA’s history, yet you’re not a playoff team.
So you want to be responsible with how you spend the money, but the second part of the league as the finances start to change and everybody knows the new TV deal is going to be in play, there are players who have role-player statistics now looking for max dollars. So when you see what they ended up having to pay for Avery Bradley, who I really like his game, he’s tough defensively. He’s learned to make an open shot, and he is somebody you can have in the game the last two minutes.  If you take his salary base, if you’re going to be a great team, he’s probably going to be your fourth or fifth highest-paid player.  So who are those other guys?  That becomes the dilemma.
Q.  My question specifically is about the Philadelphia 76ers and what you feel about Sam Hinkie’s approach toward turning this team from a loser to supposedly building it into a winner, and he seems to think it’s maybe the only way you can do it in the NBA.  Do you agree?
       
ROSE:  There are a lot of different ways to do it, so just because you get the No. 1 pick, that guy has only went on to win a championship with that team – if it was Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan, those are the only No. 1 picks that have gone on to win titles with the team that drafted them.  It’s not an exact science that tanking is going to get you a great player or a franchise championship player, or it’s going to turn around your forces.  You still need Nerlens Noel to become that shot blocker he was at Kentucky and play hopefully reminiscent of how Jermaine O’Neal played.  He kind of reminded me of him; Jermaine has a softer touch.  You hope he grows into that kind of player.
You hope Embiid becomes a guy that was worthy to be the No. 1 pick. He was a game changer defensively in college and all of a sudden you’ve got two rim protectors to go with Michael Carter-Williams, who was the Rookie of the Year.
But now, what price do you pay as fans?  How long are you willing to wait?  Because Philadelphia does have knowledgeable fans but also ticket prices are so exorbitant in today’s landscape. If you support your team, are you going to spend your money to support your team, which makes it bad for the rest of the league because what happens when other teams that are moderate come to town, a .500 team comes on a Wednesday night?  You have guys taking pictures like he did last year, a guy I think bought basically a whole roll of tickets for $75.  So that becomes bad for the entire league.
Hopefully if that is the plan, which they’re definitely engrained to have that as being the plan, this is the last year for that for everybody involved.
And one other thing that affects that is it’s a league issue.  It’s when you decide that you can pay rookies 500K or first year contract or people in their first contract $500,000 but a 10-year veteran is around $1.5 million. It waters down the roster to where not only do you have a team that’s struggling, but you have a team of young guys that aren’t experienced that are struggling. So they don’t understand how to be professionals and bring it every night, compete every possession, still work hard in practice, know what to say to the media, still be involved in the community.  Those are learned behaviors because of the reasons of trying to save money that teams hurt their roster from just having a competitive team on a nightly basis.
Q.  I’ve got a couple Bulls questions.  How much of an upgrade do you think Pau Gasol will be over Carlos Boozer, and how would you compare Joakim Noah’s game?
       
ROSE:  I think the Chicago Bulls on paper right now, you’d have to argue the players that they’re going to have playing minutes at the four and five position, and I’m including McDermott because of his size, I’m including Mirotic because of his size even though they’re rookies, and I think the team drafted well to add those two guys.  But when you have Pau – who averaged 17 points last year, still is a factor around the basket and is a really good passer high low and he’s an unselfish player and he’s a cerebral player to go with an all-NBA performer in Noah, who was the Defensive Player of the Year, and then add Taj Gibson, who they still have, who can finish over the top, who’s tough to the point where they allow Carlos Boozer to be expendable because he’s so good defensively in the fourth quarter. That’s as formidable as it gets, and that’s what I’m looking at when you compare them to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
You know what you’re going to get from Kevin Love.  You can book his 20 plus and 10 plus.  Tristan Thompson, he was close to a double-double last year.  Is he going to be consistent?  Can he stay out of foul trouble?  How many games are you going to get from Varejao?  I’m not really a big believer in Haywood at this point of his career playing quality playoff minutes.
If I had to go interior and give a team the edge, it would be the Bulls, and that’s why at this point of the season, if I had to pick who I felt like was going to come out of the East, it would be Chicago for those reasons.
Q.  So I take it you have really high expectations for Derrick Rose this year then?
       
ROSE:  Yes, I like a guy that can get 30 points in 24 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Coach Collins broke down a play on our Countdown show where it was 0-0 and Derrick Rose got a long outlet, dribbled up the left side, went over a high pick and roll, drove right to the basket and laid it up.  So what that showed me is that that’s another thing that’s going to make that rivalry great.  Kyrie can boogie with the ball.  I joked that he’s like, I guess, Turbo and Breakin’ outside of the store dancing with a broom.  He can really make it happen, but he has to learn as well as Love and even Waiters to compete defensively.
Chicago has a toughness about them.  They have a defensive identity, and they have the coach in the league with the highest win percentage that has never won a championship in Tom Thibodeau.  They have those pieces in place, and I think they could be ready to take that leap.
Q.  What do you think about Chris Bosh as a No. 1 option offensively at this point?
 
ROSE:  When you look down at the stat sheet, I think he’s still going to be 18 points, shoot a high percentage, cause matchup problems for the opposing four.  He’s shown that he can be an All Star level player, whether in Toronto, and/or a champion in Miami, who’s clutch.  He makes big shots at the end of the games.  But the difference is the wear and tear that’s going to happen with him now having to play closer to the basket, doing more post ups, and grabbing more rebounds.  That’s the biggest decrease that I’ve seen in his game is that as he’s shot more threes and basically it was because of their system that was successful for that team, that took him away from the paint, and he got less rebounds.
So he’s going to be in there trying to get more rebounds and be more of a physical presence, and it’s going to be good.  I think he’s going to be able to live up to the fact that they need him to score buckets, but they’re going to need a lot more points from that roster than he’s going to be able to deliver, I think.
Q.  Two quick questions:  One quick one with regards to the Wizards and your thoughts about the entire Southeast Division, and secondly, your thoughts about the Cavaliers’ first year coach, David Blatt?
 
ROSE:  I’ll go Coach David Blatt first because it was last and it was fresh.  Having LeBron James, Kevin Love and also Kyrie Irving with the fact that he is a really successful championship international coach that’s been really creative with his teams, and his players have really enjoyed playing for him, playing in his system – the way that he wants them to move the basketball and not really play a lot of isolation – for that I think they’re going to be one of the most efficient teams that we’ve seen in the league.
If I had to pick two players to play with LeBron just from an offensive standpoint, it would be Kyrie Irving and it would be Kevin Love.  When is the last time that guy has played on a team where one guy is going to get the rebound, somebody else is going to get the outlet, and he can actually be on a 2-on-1 break trying to dunk on someone?  I’m excited to see that.
Q.  Not since college.
 
ROSE:  I joked that the best point guard that he’s probably played against his high school was Rich Paul.  And the second question?
Q.  The Washington Wizards and your assessment of the entire Southeast Division.
 
ROSE:  The Washington Wizards, I really enjoyed seeing the emergence of John Wall, becoming an All Star caliber player.  It’s hard sometimes as a point guard where that’s the toughest position on a nightly basis in the league to come into your own, and he ended up staying healthy last year and became an All Star level player.  Couple him with Bradley Beal, I really like them as a young, talented backcourt.  I affectionately call them Hustle and Flow.
You bring in a Paul Pierce. The last two or three minutes of a game, Paul Pierce has shown that he’s a guy that you want the basketball in his hands because he can make plays with the best of them.
You’re really going to lose Trevor Ariza’s athleticism, his defense, his ability to switch multiple positions, and he has quick hands, so I think they’re going to miss that.  Can Nene stay healthy?  When you look at him, whether it was in Denver, every time I see him, I was like, wow, if that guy could stay healthy, he could be an All-Star caliber player, and then he just had health issue after health issue. You saw what he can bring if he’s healthy come playoff time, what he did in this past playoffs, and Gortat, who they just signed to new deal, that’s a real formidable four/five.  They basically remade their bench and those guys have got to prove their worth.
As far as the entire division?
Q.  Do you feel it to be kind of an up for grabs situation, that there’s Washington, there’s Miami, there’s Carolina, literally any number of teams that could really jump in there and take it?
 
ROSE:  Absolutely, but I want to grade Miami on a curve for a second.  They’re getting graded on having Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and going to four straight Finals, okay.  The other teams in this division still have a lot of work to do, and they did add Luol Deng, and I don’t think that they’re going to be an Eastern Conference finalist, but don’t be surprised if the Heat are a playoff team.
Atlanta, I love Al Horford.  He’s going to back in the lineup.  You put him back with Millsap, they’re a team no one really talks much about.  They can also be in the playoffs again.
Lance Stephenson is now with Charlotte.  Put him with Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, they’re quietly putting their team together, who’s going to make three point shots for that squad.
And Orlando, they’re dealing with Oladipo’s injury, and I really like Vucevic and Tobias Harris.  It is a division that’s up for grabs, but don’t be surprised when the smoke clears if the Heat is not a lot closer to the top than people really realize on paper.
Q.  A couple more Cavs questions:  Starting with LeBron’s thing that the offense that they’re running is unlike anything he’s done in his 11 years in the league, and in watching the preseason games, have you picked up on any of that that you could explain to us as to what they’re doing that’s so different than the rest of the league is doing?
       
ROSE:  LeBron gets to play as a small forward.  In Miami he was a point power forward.  Early in his Cleveland days he was basically like a point forward because he wasn’t playing post-up basketball much at that point in his career.
His whole dynamic of how he’s seeing the game has changed because his positions have literally switched.  When you have a legitimate All Star point guard in Kyrie, you don’t have to come and get every outlet pass because you know, A, that’s his job; B, you want him to make the second pass sometimes.  And then all of a sudden, Kyrie, while he may get the hockey assist, LeBron is in a position in transition to make a play for himself or for others.
In the half court, it’s basically throwback NBA basketball.  Some teams still play power basketball like the Memphis Grizzlies where they go and throw it to the elbow and drop it to the box and see if they can take advantage of a mismatch or set a small screen for the big weak side like Stockton used to do Malone, then all of a sudden we can get some action that way.
How they’re trying to do it, it’s just have five-man basketball. Pass, cut, moving like your hair is on fire, no standing around, the basketball finds the energy, the energy finds the hot man, and you hope to get a good shot and have a situation where people never feel like they have to force their offensive flow.
Q.  And then to follow up, you were on a Phoenix team with some big time personalities and stardom between Nash and Stoudemire and Marion.  When you have a group like this Cavs group where you have Love and Kyrie and LeBron, how much is that on the responsibility of the players to fit together, and how much does David Blatt shoulder that to make sure everyone is on the same page?
       
ROSE:  Well, the ultimate responsibility is going to fall to LeBron because I think those pieces are in place even though they hired the coach before.  He officially decided to come back to Cleveland.  When you have a four time MVP on your roster it’s going to start and end with him.  He’s the marionette that learned from the puppeteer Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade how to be a champion, how to lead the team, how to recruit players to come play in Cleveland.
He even poached a couple of the Heat players off their roster, formerly Mike Miller and then James Jones.
So when you’re now in Cleveland, his whole goal is to show a young Kyrie Irving, a young Dion Waiters how to be a pro, how to work, how to compete, and Kevin Love how to transform those numbers that he was getting into wins and losses, into more wins.
I think that dynamic is really ironed out, and there won’t be any gray area at all.
Q.  LeBron James basically transformed the Miami Heat franchise, obviously the players, the roster, everything from the organization, top down.  What’s the toughest thing for the Heat, the players on the roster and the organization as a whole going forward while that shadow of LeBron’s departure hovers over the franchise?
DOUG COLLINS:  Well, the thing about it is you know with Miami, the blueprint is in place.  You know, Pat Riley has been there, Erik Spoelstra has been there 20 years.  They call it the Miami way.  This is the way we do things.
The big thing for Erik now is he’s got to find the best way for this particular team without LeBron to win basketball games.  It’s going to be a different offense.  It’s going to be a different defense, and you’ve got a lot of different dynamics. Last year, so often LeBron was the point guard, so now you’re asking Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole to assume those duties of being the point guard and running whatever kind of offense that Erik feels they need to run to be able to be successful.
Chris Bosh has gone from being the third guy, a spacer shooting the ball and not being in the post much, shooting threes, to now being the No. 1 option, being in the paint more, scoring on the block, going back to a lot of the ways that he played in Toronto.
The big question to me is going to be Dwyane Wade.  Last year he missed 28 games and the blueprint looked like it was working until into The Finals, where it looked like he didn’t have a lot left at that particular time.  How are they going to manage him this year?  What role is he going to play?  We know that when he’s healthy, he’s still a dynamic player.
You’re adding Josh McRoberts, when he’s healthy, to be a starting power forward.  Chris Bosh is a center.  Who’s their bench going to be?
The Miami way is in place.  It’s now going to be what do we have to do in the absence of the best player in the NBA to find a way to win on both ends of the floor.  How can we maximize our bench?  How can we maximize our starters?  But to me at the end of the day it’s how effective are Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh going to be, and everybody has got to play off them.
I didn’t mention Luol Deng.  I think it was an excellent acquisition in that deal.  We know what kind of player Luol is, but it’s going to be a totally different team, and how long it takes them to come together is going to be very interesting.
Q.  And then for Jalen, as a player coming out of this, what’s your perspective?  How do you deal with this?  Just everything in general from the lack of media circus to maybe lower expectations now?
       
ROSE:  This is where your pride and professionalism kicks in, in particular for Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  They want to prove like, wow, LeBron was a leader and the MVP, that they weren’t just living off his fumes.  That’s what’s going to drive them.  I can be a first option if I’m Chris Bosh.  I can put up the numbers that people feel like I wasn’t able to put up because I was sharing the basketball and sacrificing myself for championships.
And for Dwyane Wade, already one of the top two guards that the league has seen, can he go back to being a guy that was blocking shots, getting steals, being active, playing multiple games a year?
It’s hard just to imagine on paper to have a maintenance plan with LeBron James that called for him to miss 28 games, and unfortunately he got fatigued come Finals.  I can’t imagine how that could go stronger this year without LeBron James on the roster.
Q.  With the Lakers not being able to land like a big time free agent in the off season, a lot has been made about the fall of the Lakers and that franchise, and a lot of the blame seems to be going towards Kobe Bryant.  How much blame for the struggles of the franchise do you believe should be pointed towards Kobe?
       
COLLINS:  I’m not going to put any blame on Kobe Bryant.  That guy has played for almost 20 years now.  He’s played over 50,000 career minutes.  When he’s healthy, he’s been the best player at his position throughout his time in the NBA.  He’s been all defense.
You have to understand, success is cyclical in this league.  How did the Celtics do after they lost Bird, McHale and Parrish?  How did the Lakers do after they lost Magic and Kareem and Worthy and that group of guys?  How did the Bulls do after they lost Michael, Scottie and Phil and that group of guys?
And sometimes we don’t understand, the league has changed a lot, where super teams are put together to last for a while with each other.  Look at the Boston Celtics right now. They had the run with Doc and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.  Look where they are.  It’s a cyclical part of the NBA, and what’s changed, and maybe Jalen can talk about this, is if you look at it, when is the last time the Boston Celtics signed a big-time free agent?  When is the last time that the Philadelphia 76ers have signed big-time free agent?  When is the last time the New York Knicks have signed a big-time free agent?
The days of those teams automatically signing those guys isn’t happening.  Guys are going and playing other places.  They understand that you don’t have to play in the biggest markets to have success as well as get endorsements and all.  Look at Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City; look at the team down in San Antonio.
To put that on Kobe, I’m not buying it.  The guy is one of the all-time great competitors.  I think he’s an easy target right now because Kobe is not a warm and fuzzy guy, and he’ll step up to the plate and compete every night, but I just think that’s wrong to put all this on his plate.
ROSE:  And I’ll second what Doug said because great teams in today’s era, the elite teams have three guys playing at All-Star levels; the contending teams have two; playoff caliber teams, especially in the East, can have one.  Kobe was great when he had Shaq.  He was a champion when he had Gasol.
I look back at one decision that changed the Lakers’ fortune that probably is going to put Kobe in a position not to get a sixth ring.  It was the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson.  Now, for a guy that’s won five championships with your franchise, and we know about the personal relationship he has with Jeanie Buss, but just professionally, when they decided to go to Mike D’Antoni, well, who else was in tow with Mike D’Antoni?  Steve Nash.  Well, Steve Nash we all know is already out for the season and Mike D’Antoni has been fired.
Those were the two catalyst decisions to me that put Kobe in a position to now say, of course I’m going to ask for maximum dollars.  I see the team that’s probably a shell of itself taking me into my twilight, so of course, who am I going to leave money on the table for?  So he looks at a young team and he looks at a situation that’s in flux, and he says, I’m going to be a pro, I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to show the world I can come back and average 25 points.  But when he does that, he’s coming back to a Western Conference that 32 wins won’t get you in the playoffs, and I think that’s what they’re looking at.
Q.  Feeding off that, comment on the notion that free agents don’t want to go play with Kobe.
       
COLLINS:  When you’re a great player in this league, I mean, LeBron James had two choices:  LeBron was either going to stay in Miami or he was going to go home.  He wasn’t going to go to his third city.  At the end of the day, Carmelo was not going to leave New York City and what that brings to him.  I think that’s really unfair to say guys don’t want to go play with Kobe.
I think there’s a lot of chatter and all that kind of stuff or whatever, but I don’t buy that at all.  I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that.
ROSE:  It relates to one All Star caliber player who’s listed around a top 10, top 15 player, and that’s about Dwight Howard, and since they didn’t click initially and Dwight didn’t stay, that was the other domino that I talked about with the other scenarios. Then all of a sudden you lose an All-Star guy to Houston and you don’t get anything in return.
Q.  Clearly the biggest storyline of the offseason was LeBron returning home to Cleveland.  What storylines are you most intrigued by as we’re getting ready to open up the season?
       
COLLINS:  For me, obviously to watch this Cleveland team as they grow through this period of time.  Some of these guys are going to be under the greatest scrutiny they’ve ever been under as players.  You’ve already seen it.  Kevin Love makes a little statement I need more touches to get going, and basically LeBron gets the guys together and says, guys, understand that every word we say is going to be parsed.  Don’t you find it interesting that every press conference that they had in Miami, he and Dwyane Wade did them together?  We’re going to make sure that we’re on the same page every single day, so it can’t be divide and conquer. This guy said this, this guy said that.
To watch them, David Blatt is a terrific coach.  I think his biggest challenge is going to be handling the media and all that goes with this team as it continues to grow.
I think it’s going to be interesting with the Chicago Bulls.  They’ve got new pieces.  Jalen and I differ on this a little bit.  I think they have the right pieces, but I think that’s going to take a while longer.  Derrick Rose coming back, they’re still not solidified yet with that starting situation.  I’m of the belief that McDermott would be a better starter and Dunleavy coming off the bench would solidify that second unit, but I think Tibs is concerned about having the best possible team he can have out there to start the season so they don’t get off to a slow start.
How do you incorporate Pau Gasol into the low post?  They played through Joakim Noah last year.  Now he’s playing as a power forward.  He’s not catching the ball as much.  He’s not much of a playmaker because you have Rose and you have Pau Gasol.  Jimmy Butler has already got an injury.  So there’s a lot of stuff going on there that we know they’re going to be great defensively.  Can they get good enough offensively to be a team that can win a championship?
And then to me the West Coast, I mean, it’s unfortunate the injury to Kevin Durant, but you’ve got eight teams that made the playoffs last year.  If any team is going to be able to break through, can the Pelicans break through?  They’ve got six really good players.  Do they have enough depth?  Can they stay healthy?
Phoenix Suns had a feel-good season last year.  Can they build on that?  So to me there are 10 teams in the West for eight spots.  How far is Oklahoma City going to drop with the injury to Durant?
I think as much as the Clippers had a great year last year, I think they still have some questions.  Jalen and I both talk about I’m concerned about their size on the wings and on the perimeter.  When it comes to playing teams, they really struggled against Oklahoma City last year, size on the perimeter.  That three-spot right now is by committee.  J.J. Redick has got to stay healthy.  There’s a lot of things going on out there.
To me, so many storylines in the West, but the East, last year we were talking about two teams.  Start of the year we said Indiana and Miami are going to be there in the Conference Finals, and they were.  This year in the East, we’re talking about two teams:  Cleveland and Chicago and everybody else, so it’ll be interesting to watch for me.
ROSE:  And I’ll give you a couple of quick nuggets because Coach killed it.  The return of Derrick Rose.  If he can play at an all NBA level, I feel like they should win the Eastern Conference.  LeBron’s return to Cleveland, I mean, just the maturation to forgive the letter written by Dan Gilbert, but also that means an acknowledgment of his transgressions that he felt like he could have done things a lot different with the organization and with the fans, then to turn around and be able to recruit Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, James Jones and possibly Ray Allen.  Stay tuned for that one.
On the West, working the NBA Finals and being at those games, just appreciating the Spurs fans, I just have a soundtrack in my head that just literally says, Go Spurs Go!  I think I’m so wound up that I might just blurt it out every now and then because that’s how dominant they were and how impressed I am with the way they do things.
Their offseason included re-signing Pop, re-signing Tony, re-signing Tim, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner, and they’re hoping to obviously get an extension going with Kawhi Leonard.
They’re back in tow, along with what Coach said, the Clippers.  Is it their turn?  CP3, Blake Griffin, all-NBA performers.  DeAndre Jordan is going to be in position to lead the league in field goal percentage and blocks and rebounds, probably the first guy to be able to do that in NBA history.
So I’m trying to see if it’s going to be the Clippers’ turn because I think they have what it takes to push the San Antonio Spurs.
COLLINS:  Just to build on what Jalen said, too, to me there’s some really intriguing teams in the West.  Golden State, can they cut down on their turnovers?  Steve is really working on having a more free flowing offense.  Can they keep their defensive integrity?  You look at a team like Portland; last year their starters were healthy most of the entire year.  They win 54 – they hope to be able to have some internal improvement.  They’ve added Chris Kaman and Stevie Blake.  Can C.J. McCollum help them?  Can they have a bench?
To me, Memphis, all these teams, first of all, the success of every team as Jalen knows is all based upon health.  So given every team stays healthy, to me it’s going to be interesting to see at the end of the day who comes out of the mix.
ROSE:  And also, me and Coach really love Dallas and we didn’t mention them.
 
COLLINS:  Yes, sir, absolutely, I’m glad you mentioned them.  They’ve got a great coach.  I like Tyson Chandler going there, Chandler Parsons.  They’ve got depth.  They’re going to be able to score the ball, but the big thing is can they defend well enough to win a championship.
Every team, as great as their strengths are, every one of them is flawed.  There’s not a team out there that doesn’t have a flaw.  You say Spurs, the only flaw they would have is they’re older.  Other than that, they play beautiful basketball.  They’re locked in, they’ve got the corporate knowledge, they’ve never had a back to back champion.  Can they do that?  There’s so many things to talk about.
ROSE:  And also Houston with Harden and Dwight Howard, you add Trevor Ariza who I really like, can Terrence Jones become a guy that’s consistent as his career high nights.
Q.  I just want to get your impressions on Brad Stevens, his second season.  What kind of coaching job do you think he did in his first season, and how do you manage a roster like I’m sure you did where everybody is about even, you’ve got one star but you’ve got,  the rest of the guys have got chips on their shoulders, something to prove, maybe have underachieved in other places and it’s pretty even?  How do you manage that?
       
COLLINS:  I think Brad is a terrific coach.  The first thing, when you’re Brad Stevens, you’re walking in, you’re navigating basically an 80-game season, and you’re coming in. I mean, we saw what he did at Butler.  That team was as well coached as any team that was in college basketball.  He’s got a great feel for the game.  He’s got a nice demeanor.  He’s a terrific teacher.  The hardest part is dealing with the losses.  I mean, he’s never lost before.  The guy has been to two Final Fours with Butler.
So when you go in, and understand doing your job on a daily basis, and a lot of it was almost like a developmental league team, D League team, where your job is as much to try to get players better and create the assets of your team to put your team in a position to move forward as it is to focus in on how many games you can win.  That’s tough because as a competitor, all you think about is winning that next game.
I give him a lot of credit.  Brett Brown had 63 losses last year.  That’s tough to take to keep your energy up, the positive energy, to walk in practice every single day, to continue to teach, to do the things you do.
I’m a big Brad Stevens fan.  I think he did a wonderful job, and he’s going to be more comfortable this year because the second year going through it, you’ve got a better feel for the pacing of everything.  Your practices, the days off, who needs extra work, who doesn’t.
You know, I had a team in Philadelphia when I went there, probably Andre Iguodala on paper was our best player.  He became an All-Star my second year there.  Drew Holiday became an All-Star my third year there.  But when I looked at our team, I thought we had strength in numbers, and I thought if we could get seven guys averaging in double figures and develop a bench, we had a chance to get a lot better, and we went from 27 wins to 41, a 14-game improvement, was the second most in the league.  We got an identity of how we wanted to play, we defended, we didn’t turn the ball over.
But the two keys for me were Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young.  They were two of my five best players, and I went to them and I asked them if they would come off the bench for me to make us a better team.  They would play crunch time minutes.  Lou became the leading scorer for me.  Thad was one of my best players.  Lou was second in sixth man of the year, I think Thad was five.  Our team grew and we got better.
But it was because those players were willing to step up and play a role because they were two of my five best players and we got off to a 3-and-13 start that year, and for the guys to hang with it and for it to turn, it was a fun thing to watch.  But when you’re losing every single night and you’re trying to build something, it’s hard because I don’t care what any coach says, you go home, and it eats at your stomach when you’re losing basketball games.
I give Brad a lot, a lot of credit, and also I said, Brett Brown, to take those kind of losses, to start to build something for Philadelphia and Boston. I’ve got a lot of respect for both of those guys.
Q.  How do you feel about Sam’s approach toward rebuilding this franchise, especially the way you have kind of brought it up, especially the second year and the second round to see what’s happening now?  How do you feel about his approach and the state of the franchise?
       
COLLINS:  Well, I think, first of all, obviously I miss being in Philadelphia.  You know what that franchise means to me, so I always root for them.  I want them to do great.  It’s a little painful for me right now to be a former Sixer and see the losses and all.
But the one thing I remember when I left, I talked to Josh Harris, the owner, and I said, Josh, regardless of what you’re going to do, stick with the plan.  You can’t switch in mid-stream.  If it gets painful, it’s going to be painful and you’re going to have to ride through it, and once you make the choice to do what you’re going to do    and I felt they were going to do it, is to blow the team up and start all over again.  This is what we’re going to do, this is how we’re going to do, we ask you to stick through the pain of what we’re doing.
And you can see that Michael Carter-Williams last year was the Rookie of the Year.  Hopefully he’s going to be healthy and come back.  Nerlens Noel looks like he has a chance to be a high-energy activity defender, shock blocker, rebounder.  I don’t know if he’s ever going to be a big time scorer, but a guy who could be a part of a really, really good team.  Embiid, can he get healthy?  The Shved kid who’s overseas, all the draft picks and everything.
But there’s a lot of pain that goes with that, and that’s why I said I have a lot of respect for Brett Brown.  He’s a tremendous coach.  He walks in that gym every single day with great positive energy to teach that team.
It’s interesting when you get older you hope you can shoot your age in golf.  You don’t want to lose your age as a coach, and last year had I coached, it was 63 wins, that’s how old I am.  I did not want to lose 63 games.  At my age I just couldn’t go through that.
Sam has got a plan.  The most important thing is Josh, David Blitzer, and all the owners are on board, and they’ve made no bones about it with the city of Philadelphia, this is what we’re doing, stick with us.  We think it’s going to work.  Whether or not it does, I don’t think anybody knows, but that’s their plan.
Q.  Is there any scenario in which you could see Miami competing with Chicago and Cleveland in the East?
       
COLLINS:  I don’t see it unless there’s a major injury to one of those teams.  I think I just look at Cleveland, I think they’re going to be one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the league.  I said the first exhibition game they played, I think LeBron took seven shots, had two buckets, Kyrie didn’t play, and they had 122 points.  So they’re going to be a team that can score the ball.  I think the question is going to be for them as a champion.  Can they become a top-10 defensive team?  I think it’s going to be vital for Varejao and Tristan Thompson to stay healthy.  They’re their two big guys that they’re going to ask to give them some size.  They’re going to be a great rebounding team.  And I think at the end of the day, LeBron has a chance to lead the league in assists, and I think once again, he’ll become a first league all defender, and so I think that they’re going to be awfully tough to beat.
With Chicago, polar opposites.  Right now a team that is built on their defense.  Can their offense come up to snuff?  Can Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol give them extra points at all and make the game a little easier for them to where they don’t have to grind out every game every single night?
I’ve got a lot of respect for Miami.  I just – when I look at their team, I say, you know what, there’s still a lot of questions with Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers being your point guard, still a lot of questions about how many games Dwyane Wade is going to be able to play at a high level because of the injury to his knee that he suffered, can Chris Bosh be back to that No. 1 option, Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng filling in, what kind of bench play they’re going to get.  I know they’re going to be well prepared.  I know they’re going to compete.  I know they won’t beat themselves.  I just don’t see them being in the class of those other two teams.
Q.  As a coach, what do you think about running an offense through Chris Bosh?  Is that viable?
 
COLLINS:  Well, I mean, the thing about it is, I think when you look at their team, that’s the way they’re built now.  It’s interesting to me because we played them in the playoffs the one year, and Bosh was a little bit more of an integral part of their offense.  I thought that first year where they ran out of timeouts, they got him the ball at the elbows, they ran some isolations for him, they started games running plays for him, they got him the ball in the paint a little bit more, and I thought as time went on he became more of a home run hitter, where he was depending so much on that three, a little bit what you’ve seen with Kevin Love in the preseason in Cleveland. I think Jalen and I did a game the other night and 22 of his 45 shots, Love shot it in from the three point line.
Chris Bosh is going to be a guy, you’re going to go back, throw the ball in the post to him.  It’s sort of interesting, but you go back to one of his quotes last year in the playoffs, he said, I don’t play down in the post anymore; I don’t take all that pounding.  Well, that’s where he’s going to be right now and we’ll have to see how he plays.
Q.  You touched on the Bulls and Derrick Rose a little bit.  I just wanted to get more elaboration on what you think Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic add to the front court.  Do you think that’s going to be enough to get past Cleveland, and do you think Rose can stay healthy for the whole year?
COLLINS:  Well, I sure hope that Derrick Rose can stay healthy because as a man who suffered injury, my heart aches when you see a great player, and I was never a Derrick Rose, an MVP, but I was a player who played at a pretty high level and loved to play.  When the game was taken away from me, it was heartbreaking that I couldn’t play.  I hope he can play.  He’s taken a lot of grief from being hurt.  Nobody wants to be hurt, and so for him to be back out there – I saw some great play from him in the preseason, and I think the question is going to be his building on the minutes.  But his efficiency has been terrific.
I think when you look at the Bulls, I don’t think people realize that you have a lot of the same pieces back, but they’re a very different team.  To me when I see Pau Gasol out there playing as a center, and I see Joakim Noah playing as a power forward, his defensive role has changed.  Last year he was the Defensive Player of the Year as a center. Now you’re going to see him playing at that four spot a lot when Pau is in there as a five.  You’ll see him play as a five when he’s out there with Taj Gibson.
But so much of what they did last year, their offense, they played through Joakim as an offensive player, not necessarily to score but to facilitate.
Now he’s got to find his role in that offense now because the ball is either going to be in Derrick Rose’s hands or it’s going to be in Pau Gasol’s hands in the post.  So that’s a little different.
To me it’s going to be interesting at the end of the day who Tibs ends up settling on to be the starter.  It looks like Dunleavy maybe to start the year, but that second unit has got to get an identity.  I thought in the preseason they were very inconsistent.
When you had McDermott out there, when you had him out there with Mirotic, two rookies; you had Aaron Brooks, who was a new guy; you had Taj out there; and you had Kirk Hinrich, so I thought they were struggling to find who they needed to be.
I’d go on record and say I feel like at the end of the day, if somehow Doug McDermott can be a starter, I think he’s going to get better shots with that starting unit being out there with Pau Gasol and with Derrick Rose, and it’s not going to depend so much on Jimmy Butler having to make as many shots. And then I think Mike Dunleavy is a guy who has played off the bench in his career, and to me with him out there and Taj Gibson and Kirk and Aaron Brooks, you’ve got a little bit more of a veteran feel to it.
I don’t know what kind of minutes Mirotic is going to get because I don’t know if Tibs can play four bigs, and we know there’s 96-minutes between Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson, and I think the interesting thing for Tibs is it’s going to be – last year, it was a given, the third quarter ended, Carlos Boozer put on his warm up, he ended the game with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.  Now Pau Gasol wants to finish those games, too, so what’s it going to be?  It might be from night to night he doesn’t always finish with the same two guys.  I think that’s a dynamic that he has to figure out.
With all this said and done and Chicago coming back, I think they have as much work to do as Cleveland in getting themselves together to where they want to be.
Q.  Quick question with regard to Coach Blatt in Cleveland.  What are some of the challenges as a first-time head coach do you think that he’s got, and do you think that he’s up to the challenge?
COLLINS:  Well, first of all, I think he’s up to the challenge.  This guy has been a success everywhere he’s been.  He’s coached everywhere, and he’s taken the talent of his team and he’s played that kind of basketball.  I know there was one team that he played, I can’t remember off of top of my head right now which one it was, but it was a team that they had to win with defense, and then he’s had some of the most dynamic offenses.
So I think he’s a guy that knows both sides of the ball.  I think to just say he’s a terrific offensive mind would be selling him short.  I love his assistant coach; he’s got T [Tyronn] Lue in there, who played for me.  I think LD, Larry Drew, is there with him, so he’s got a good group of guys. Jimmy Boylan I think is there.  So he’s got a good group of guys who understand the NBA.
To me it’s going to be managing people.  Every word that comes out of Cleveland is going to be parsed.  Miami was the most scrutinized team in the NBA when LeBron was there.  They’re going to be the most scrutinized team in the NBA with him back in Cleveland.  So to me it’s going to be just managing the media, dealing with the day to day, managing the personalities.  He has all the other stuff.  He has all the Xs and Os; he has all that stuff he needs, and I think he’s got the greatest sidekick you can have, a guy who’s locked arms with him, is LeBron.
LeBron is going home, and LeBron knows that at the end of the day, whether they rise or fall, the pressure is on LeBron James.  To me, it’s not on David Blatt.  When LeBron went back to Cleveland, he said, I’m stepping up, all the pressure is on me, it’s not on Kyrie Irving, it’s not on Kevin Love, it’s not on anybody else. It’s on me coming back to help make sure this works.
What I’m feeling from everything I’m reading and everything that he and David Blatt have gotten together, they have a wonderful working relationship.  But Cleveland hasn’t had a bump in the road yet, and until they have that first adversity where anything happens where they’ve got to fight through it, we don’t know how they’re going to be.  But I do know this:  There’s no more pressure in Cleveland LeBron is going to have on him than what he faced down in Miami on an everyday basis for four years down there.
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ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 7

Sunday NFL Countdown logoESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 7

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis previewed today’s NFL games with insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some comments from today’s show:

 

On being surprised wide receiver Percy Harvin was traded …

Jackson: “He is a difference maker. I’m trying to imagine the magnitude of the problems and baggage that he would have to bring to the Seattle locker room in order for them to get rid of this difference maker … They were willing to give him away – ‘we want him out of our locker room.’ I am hesitant to be the next team to bring him into the locker room. Seattle is less of a football team today than they were on Friday because of letting this guy go. They are less dangerous because this guy is not playing for them.”

Lewis: “You are talking about a very, very special talent – home run hitter when it comes to breakaway speed and what this guy can do. He is a mismatch problem for a lot of teams. He’s one of the biggest reasons Seattle has so many misdirection plays … The players have to understand this is a business at its highest level. Going into these locker rooms, you have to understand that you don’t have to get along with everybody. But you have to find a way to work with anybody. Percy (Harvin) – as well as other guys – needs to understand that.”

Ditka: “There’s nothing worse than a fractured locker room. I’m not sure I agree that they have the big loss here. With production on the field, yes. But, what he’s doing in that locker room is undermining what the coach and that football team is all about. They won a Super Bowl last year, not because of Percy Harvin. The leader of this football team is the quarterback.”

Carter: “For any player that has previous issues, there is always a moment in time that you get the chance to change or alter your history. It is all in your hand. There is always a fork, right on the road, that stops you and you have the opportunity to either go left and go about doing things your own way. Or to go right and make the right decisions and try to do something special with your life. Percy Harvin is not a bad person, but he has had issues in high school, in college and now, with two professional teams. I’m not looking at the scheme, I’m looking right at Percy Harvin because it is really up to him. He is a phenomenal talent. Right now, this league, we have less tolerance for people with great athletic ability and the inability to work in an environment. Everyone should feel safe at work, especially, one of your teammates, who you trust.”

Berman: “(Seahawks head coach) Pete Carroll, if you can’t play there, and he has a winning team, where are you going to play? Now the Jets, hopefully, can give him support, both on- and off-the-field.”

 

On the Dallas Cowboys and their turnaround …

After showing video from a past Countdown segment where Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis ranked the Cowboys as one of the league’s worst teams, the panel today discussed the team’s turnaround.

Johnson: “(QB) Tony Romo is doing more with less in terms of attempts … You go back to the Super Bowl winning years of Troy Aikman, they had 30 or less attempts per game for Troy Aikman. That is what Tony Romo is right now. He is completing 71 percent of his passes, the highest in the National Football League since week 3. This is why the Cowboys have now gotten up there with Seattle on potential talks about going to Arizona (Super Bowl XLIX).”

Jackson: “What Jason Garrett, that coaching staff, Tony Romo, have all accepted is that ‘we have something that we can depend on,’ and we can depend on it everywhere. They are patient. That’s what the running game takes. So, San Francisco, the four turnovers, they lose that game. But they turned it over three times against the Texans. They stick with the run. They are down 21-nothing to the Rams. They stick with the run. They were down 10-0 in Seattle. That tendency to go back to Romo throwing the ball 45-50 times in order to win the game, it didn’t happen. So, they are patient and confident in what they are doing. The defense is benefitting because they are not on the field as long. Tony Romo benefits because of play action pass.”

Lewis: “History proved exactly what Key (Keyshawn Johnson) and I said. For many a years, the Dallas Cowboys was a very bad football team when it comes to making it to the playoffs. What has changed? What has changed is they went back to the Super Bowl formula. Tony Romo is not throwing 30-plus passes per game. Troy Aikman won three Super Bowls doing the same thing. DeMarco Murray, what this guy does with the football in his hand, is the reason why the Cowboys are winning.”

Ditka: “You can’t win in this league without a defense. I know what we said about the Dallas defense over the years, and everybody was right. They’ve really changed. They are playing much better. The Cover 2 they are playing makes sense – playing with a man under. The middle linebacker is able to get depth. It is a different looking football team. That enables the offense to do what they want to do. They are not trying to catch up all the time.”

Carter: “The thing that is most important is what (defensive coordinator Rod) Marinelli is doing with the defense. He has these players, not better players than they had last year, playing in a scheme that they can perform … Also, (OL coordinator) Scott Linehan and how he has put the stamp on this offense as far as what they are going to be.”

 

On whether Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray’s workload will eventually catchup up to him …

Johnson: “I don’t care beyond this year, if I’m in the Dallas Cowboys staff. I will run him till his feet start bleeding, till the wheels fall off. Because, I have an opportunity now, with my best football player touching the ball on offense, of doing something we’ve been trying to get to for a very long time which is the playoffs, winning the Division, playing in the Super Bowl. If you’re talking beyond this year, we can deal with that in the off-season. I played with Curtis Martin back in 1998, he led us to the AFC Championship game carrying the football 367 times, touching it 400-plus times. You want to be able to get the ball in the right guy’s hands that can help you.”

Jackson: “This is a team that’s been 8-8 for two decades, we’ve got a chance to win the Super Bowl, I agree with you, I am going to run him and I’m not worried about what the aftermath is going to be. I want him to get paid. Jerry (owner Jerry Jones) has always rewarded guys when they produced for him. You hope he is one of those special guys down the stretch who can carry the ball. The number that we’re looking at, 400-plus carries, usually changes a back’s life – not for the better.”

Lewis: “When you talk about hard-running players, you think about Larry Johnson, Jamal Anderson, Eric Dickerson, even Eddie George. After that year (with max carries) their numbers dropped drastically and throughout the rest of their careers. I get it. This year is special. Use him how you can use him. There was a formula the Baltimore Ravens had in 2000. They had the same type of beast with Jamal Lewis. The complement to that beast was a Priest Holmes. Anytime you can have a two-headed monster that can take a little bit of that, who has almost the same ‘it factor,’ it can be huge for the team.”

 

On the cusp of Peyton Manning breaking the touchdown record, Tom Jackson reflects on the quarterback’s place in history …

“I was around when Johnny U (Unitas) played football. People think that quarterbacking is exciting now. Back then quarterbacks called their own game. We don’t have enough time to go into his entire legacy, but part of his legacy is that he is the last of these guys who basically are calling the game from the line of scrimmage. When he’s gone, we are not going to see it again, and that’s just part of his legacy.”

 

Ray Lewis on 49ers defense vs. Peyton Manning’s attempt at the touchdown record … 

“The first thing you are saying is – ‘it is not on my watch. It will not happen on my watch. People can talk about these records all day long or you throw fireworks.’ But if you are (49ers defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio, you’re talking about ‘we’re going in to win a football game. Do not get flustered with what’s going on with this record.’

“I had this same opportunity in 2006, I looked at Rex Ryan and said we’ll go to the Super Bowl if we hold Peyton Manning without a touchdown. We gave Peyton Manning five field goals that day. So, it can be done. But they have to have the right mindset to go win the game. And to do it and not worry about the record.”

 

Inside Slant: The thin line between playing hard and playing dirty …

Following a report by NFL senior analyst Chris Mortensen that Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is appealing a league-imposed $25,000 fine for twisting the ankles of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen last week, Carter, Jackson, Johnson and Lewis discussed the fine line between aggressive play and hurting opposing players.

Jackson: “I don’t think you want to be habitually creating plays that could be defined as dirty. People need to understand a dirty play doesn’t make you a dirty player. Very few of us have been on a football field for any number of years and not done something that you didn’t feel bad about … Burfict did some dirty plays. Let’s not make too much of it.”

Lewis: “There’s a lot that goes on underneath that pile … Is he such a bad player? When you watch an offensive lineman dive at somebody’s knees, I always say: ‘Listen, don’t go to my knees. This is where I make my money.’ There are certain things that you don’t go that far.”

Jackson: “We used to police our own game.”

Johnson: “I was always trying to take advantage or get an advantage for me and my team the best I could on the football field. I’m not going to hit somebody, 30 yards away, who had nothing to do with the play. I am not going to peel back on him and knock him out. That, to me, is a dirty play.”

Carter: “So, we all believe in playing a little bit beyond the whistle. But the one thing we all agree on — no hit that is going to cause an injury, to stop a guy from making a living, that’s where you cross the line. And that’s what you call dirty.”

 

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“One-Hit Wonders” Who Caught a Touchdown Pass from Peyton Manning Highlights ESPN’s Week 7 NFL Content

Sunday NFL Countdown logo

Sunday NFL Countdown: Peyton Manning’s One-Hit Wonders; Smashing Records – The DeMarco Murray Story; Special Guest Jim Cramer; and More 

Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis will preview week 7 on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown on Sunday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. ET. The three-hour program will feature reporter/host Wendi Nix during select segments, while NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will report the day’s headlines and news.

ESPN reporters at game sites:

  • Bengals at Colts (Lindsay Czarniak and Ron Jaworski at “The Big Early Game”)
  • Saints at Lions (Sal Paolantonio)
  • Panthers at Packers (Bob Holtzman)
  • Giants at Cowboys (Ed Werder)
  • 49ers at Broncos (Josina Anderson)

Features:

  • One-Hit Wonders: Peyton Manning has 506 touchdown passes and needs just three more to surpass Brett Favre’s record 508. Seven players caught only one touchdown in their careers with the lone pass coming from Manning. Reporter Jim Trotter tracks down some of the lucky seven.
  • Smashing Records: Breaking rushing records is in DeMarco Murray’s DNA. The Cowboys running back is on the precipice of several NFL rushing records this season, including Jim Brown’s record for six consecutive 100-yard games to open a season. Murray broke Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith’s Cowboys single-game rushing record with 253 yards in October 23, 2011, vs. the Rams. At the University of Oklahoma, Murray set several school records, surpassing Sooner greats Billy Simms, Marcus Dupree and Adrian Peterson. Greg Garber reports on Murray’s history with breaking records.
  • My Brother’s Keeper – The Joe Haden Story: Browns cornerback Joe Haden has always shared a unique bond with his younger brother Jacob, who has special needs and is unable to communicate verbally. That bond was further strengthened when Joe, at nine years of age, dove into their aunt’s swimming pool to save Jacob’s life. Josina Anderson reports. (Ed note: This piece was moved from last Sunday’s show to this week.)
  • Soundtracks – Earl Thomas: Seahawks safety Earl Thomas of the vaunted “Legion of Boom” defensive unit was wired for in-game audio last Sunday against the Cowboys and will be featured on Sunday’s “Soundtracks.”
  • Jim Cramer – Buy or Sell: Jim Cramer, star of CNBC’s Mad Money joins the Countdown crew for a segment, measuring the stock of AFC North quarterbacks.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football: JJ Watt and the Texans Visit Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers

JJ Watt and the Houston Texans visit Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on October 20 at 8:15 p.m. The Steelers enter the matchup with the longest MNF home win streak in the series’ 45-year history – 15 games.

The MNF team of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters will call the game from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The NFL’s week seven finale will be televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and available via WatchESPN for those with video subscriptions from affiliated providers.

Monday Night Countdown begins at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Suzy Kolber and NFL analysts Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis and Steve Young review Sunday’s games and preview the MNF matchup from Heinz Field. Studio host Chris Berman, NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter join the show from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn.

Monday Night Countdown highlights:

  • Soundtracks: Best of J.J. Watt: The Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, J.J. Watt’s dominating performance this season has his name being mentioned in MVP discussions. Countdown features the best of Watt’s in-game audio in Soundtracks.
  • Gruden’s Grill Session with JJ Watt: MNF’s Gruden visits with Texans All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt in this week’s Grill Session.
  • Ben Roethlisberger Conversation: Two-time Super Bowl Steelers winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sits for a one-on-one conversation with MNF reporter Salters.
  • Rick Reilly’s Feature – Bill O’Brien: Family and football is a tough balancing act for any head coach. Rick Reilly tells the story of how Jack O’Brien, the son of Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, helped give his father a renewed perspective on pressure and life beyond the football field.

NFL Matchup – Colts Play Action; Cowboys Run Game; Struggling Seahawks Offense; and More

NFL Matchup host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge preview the weekend’s key matchups via film-room X’s and O’s analysis on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 (re-air on ESPN, Sunday at 3:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.).  Highlights:

  • Jaws Playbook – Colts Play Action: Jaworski takes viewers through a play-action pass that the Colts offense will execute against the Bengals defense on Sunday.
  • Inside the Matchup – Chargers Bunch Formation: Jaworski explains how the Chiefs man-to-man defense can be nullified by the Chargers’ bunch formations.
  • Coach’s Clicker – Cowboys Run Game: Hoge illustrates the staples of a versatile Cowboys run game, giving the Cowboys a more balanced offense that wears down opposing defenses.
  • X and O Files – Jets Defensive Game Plan vs. Manning: The Jets defense was able to slow down quarterback Peyton Manning’s decision-making process by playing a variety of defensive coverages, something the 49ers will look to replicate this weekend, argues the NFL Matchup panel.
  • Hoge Breakdown – Suh to Disrupt Drew Brees: Hoge explains how the Lions will rely on their defensive line, led by Ndamukong Suh, to create pressure on quarterback Drew Brees and slow down the Saints passing attack.
  • Let’s See it Hoge – Struggling Seahawks Offense: The Seahawks offense is having trouble on third downs and when defenses are able to keep quarterback Russell Wilson in the pocket, Hoge explains.

NFL on ESPN Radio: Drew Brees and Saints vs. Matthew Stafford and Lions

ESPN Radio will broadcast the matchup between two exciting NFL quarterbacks – Drew Brees vs. Matthew Stafford – on Sunday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m., when the Detroit Lions (4-2) host the New Orleans Saints (2-3) on ESPN Radio.  Ryan Ruocco, Bill Polian and Ian Fitzsimmons will be on site for the broadcast. Pre-game coverage begins at 12 p.m.

E:60 – Profile on Cowbpys’ Jason Witten Airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. 

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has six All-Pro selections, played in nine Pro Bowls and owns the franchise record for receptions during his 12 seasons. But what sets him apart, are his toughness and resilience, traits he learned those at an early age, although not by choice. Witten grew up haunted by an abusive father until, at the age of 11, he and his battered mother moved to live near their maternal grandfather, a legendary high school football coach who helped Witten heal and emerge as a star football player. The Cowboys star has established a foundation that mentors boys whose mothers are victims of domestic violence.  E:60’s Jeremy Schaap reports (Trailer).

ESPN.com – On Jim Irsay’s Shadow Life and Cowboys Unexpected Success

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