Tag Archives: Sports

#Falcons pick of #TakkaristMcKinley – hubris or just following their hunches?

28 Apr

Takkaist McKinley usa_today_10033656.1493351431
Photo from USA Today on BruinsNation.com

The  2017 NFL draft ‘needs list’ for the Falcons wasn’t too much different from 2015 or 2016. Get a good edge rusher, and shore up the offensive line with players who could play right away. In 2015 the pick was fairly obvious. Pundits and fans alike thought Vic Beasley the standout DE from Clemson had shown the speed and quickness to be a good NFL pass rusher.  Even though he was a bit undersized at only 235 pounds, Atlanta drafted him 6th overall.  He has become one of the NFL’s  best pass rushers , leading the league last year in sacks.

In 2016 however the Falcons started with picks that did not seem to address their needs at all.  1st round pick Keanu Neal was a SAFETY, not an edge rusher. 2nd round pick Deion Jones was fast but was a middle linebacker, and like Vic Beasley a little undersized.  Reaves turned out to be a ‘thumper’ who patrolled the Falcons back-end. and dished out punishment to opposing players at will. Deion was a tackling machine and rookie of the year finalist. Another slam dunk for the Falcons.

So here we are in 2017 and again Atlanta surprises us by picking outside linebacker Takkarist McKinley from UCLA.  McKinley appears to be another ‘DQ’ (Dan Quinn) guy. The All Pac 12 DE/OLB is described by NFL.com as “Relentless worker bee on the field” “…and is always charging towards the ball” However on the other side he is considered to be “raw” and a “little stiff in the lower body” He also is coming off shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.  He was slotted by some to be a 2nd round pick. Why did the Falcons traded a 3rd round and 7th rounder to move from 25th to 31st pick to get him. In a draft which is supposed to be one of the deepest in history it seems they could have stayed put and still got him. 1st round picks should be impact players on your team right away. The fact the Falcons selected a raw, injured, player with big potential, means  Falcons leadership is convinced they have the coaching system and team culture that allows them to get the most from the players they bring on board.

The rest of the Falcons draft has yet to unfold. But if McKinley plays the way last year’s draft group did, the Falcons could back in the Super Bowl again and got another rising star in Takkarist McKinley press conference bad language notwithstanding.

By Jonathan Simmons

#AtlHawks blow last minute lead, lose to #Pacers at home

6 Mar

The #AtlHawks looked like they were on their way to a hard fought victory over the Indiana Pacers. They had a 96-90 lead with less the 2 minutes to go, a 96-94 lead AND the ball with about 30 seconds. But it was all for nought as the Pacers Glenn Robinson III hit a 3 pointer with 0.6 seconds left to give them a stunning 97-96 victory over the Hawks.

This game marked the return of former Hawks PG Jeff Teaugue  for the first time since he had been traded to the Pacers for a second round pick after the 2016 season.

Atlanta took an early 30-19 lead, then Indiana’s All Star G Paul George took over. George scored 24 of his game high 34 in the 1st half to help the Pacers take the lead before Atlanta came back to tie the game at 50 to end the 1st half.

The Hawks continued to have problems with George until they placed Paul Millsap on him in 3rd quarter. He did not score after that. By that time however they had forged a 7 point lead going to the 4th quarter.

The Hawks defense, and the offensive punch by Tim Hardaway, Jr (THJ) finally allowed Atlanta to overtake the Pacers and take a 6 point lead in the clising minutes. That’s when things went horribly wrong.

Paul Millsap has been the Hawks best offensive player all year and over the last 2 months Tim Hardaway Jr has been right behind him. Last night was no different. Millsap had 24 to lead all Hawks, and THJ scored 10 of his 23 in the final period. But when the Hawks looked to seal the win late, both men came up short. AMillsap missed shot, then turnover on consecutive possesion allowed the Pacers to cut the lead to 96-94. Then an ill advised 3 pt attempt by Hardaway set the stage for Robinson’s game winner. (Click here to see video)

This has been a recurring theme for this team. An inability to get consistent clutch baskets/plays from their best players. Until this changes the Atlanta Hawks and their fans will continue to deal with more frustrating losses.

 

Despite loss, #ATLUTD and Arthur Blank big winners in epic opening night

6 Mar

The final score from the pitch at Bobby Dodd stadium on the Ga Tech campus was NY Red Bull 2 Atlanta 1. But in every other way the Atlanta United Football Club (@ATLUTD) inaugural game was a huge success.

The game was a sellout. ‘Fan Village’ set up in front of historic Bobby Stadium was filled with a diverse group of fans in full party mode. Some fans waited as long as an hour to buy their official ATLUTD garb at the store in Atlantic Station. Is that the hum of the money machine we  hear?

Once again the genius of ‘Uncle Arthur’ Blank was displayed in another successful sports business endeavor. Hats off to him and ATLUTD for their smashing debut

(Goal by Yasef Asad pic above – AccessWDUN )

 

GT Mens Basketball starts Pastner era in ACC with upset of No.5 #UNC

1 Jan

@GTMBB stuns 9th ranked #UNC 75-63 to start the @GTJoshPastner era with huge #ACC win.

Josh Pastner arrived on the Ga Tech campus in Atlanta to mixed reviews. Some who followed his career at Memphis felt his teams under performed while he was there. Many here in Atlanta however felt the young former Arizona star would bring the energy and youth needed to help revitalize the once storied basketball program.

If the first half of the season is an indicator, the Yellow Jackets may have found their man.  The GT men are 9-4, 1-0 in the ACC after their New Year’s Eve victory over the Tar Heels.  Josh Okogie lead the way with 26 points, and bruising big man Ben Lammers posted a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.  Josh Heath and Quentin Jackson also were in double figures with 15 and 11 points respectively.

Click here for Josh Pastner press conference highlight on the Ga Tech page on our website

 

#Hawks continue up and down season with 92-84 loss to Timberwolves

22 Dec

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The Hawks season overall was seen in the way this game played out tonight. They scored a total of 51 points in the 1st and 3rd quarters. In the those quarters the ball movement, good decision making and shooting were there.

In the 2nd, and the critical 4th quarter. Atlanta scored 16 and 15 respectively.  Their 3 pt shooting woes also continued this game. once again less than 30 % (7-26 = 26.9%)

Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points/18 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins led the T-Wolves with 19. For the Hawks Dennis Schroder had 21 points to lead all scorers. He also dished out 7 assists. Paul Millsap had another double double with 18 points and 10 rebounds

Dwight Howard missed his 2nd game with a back sprain. He is schedule to return shortly, but it is a worrisome sign for a player whose skill sets have been diminished due to back problems.

Even when Dwight returns, this team has to look itself in the eye and determine what type of team it is. Are they willing to play hard and fast the entire game? Consistently make the extra pass? Dive for the loose balls on the floor?

This season is only about 1/3 in so the Hawks have time to right the ship But not much time. They currently are 14-15 in 10th place but just 3 games out 4th place in the Eastern Division. Stay tuned!

Click HERE for our post game video  Check out more Sports coverage at www.realtalksports.net

#Freebird approach needed for #AtlantaFalcons ‘D’ to improve

1 Dec

The #AtlantaFalcons defense needs to be cut loose to flourish. The #Falcons statistically have gone backwards from 2015 when they were 16th overall to 27th. In 2016, Atlanta allows opponents on average almost 400 yards and 28 points per game. The numbers in 2015 were 348 yards and 22 points per game.

The irony is as a fan this years Falcons ‘D’ is much more fun to watch. Sacks are up. They already have 24 vs 19 all of last year. 12 forced fumbles equaling what they had in all of 2015. This team plays best when it is in attack mode. That fits the skills of the players you have.

The Falcons are team that features speed at linebacker, big hitting at defensive back and youth, starting 4 rookies. Those attributes in the primary scheme they run also is the reason why they have problems stopping anybody. Players are at times out of position and seem confused as plays develop.

Coach Dan Quinn and his defensive coaches need to adjust their game plan to take better advantage of the personnel they put in place. Get the DBs up a little closer to line of scrimmage to eliminate some of the short to mid range passes. The defensive backs have enough closing speed if a receiver gets a step on them.  Beasley, Campbell, and Jones are one of the fastest group of linebackers in the NFL. Use more blitzes and stunts to utilize that speed.

During this year’s summer camp the Falcons invited the press to take part in film sessions and hear a little from the coaches regarding the thought concept behind of the defensive scheme. It seemed simple limit explosive plays, decrease yards after contact through sure initial tackling, and force plays to middle of the field. A ‘strike zone’ where hard hits and strip techniques could create turnovers. Seems as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Find the ball and who has it
  2. Attack the area where it is
  3. Deliver a clean blow with greatest force possible

‘Freebird’ was a hit song in the 70’s by Southern Rock band Lynard Skynard.  The song starts as mournful ballad but midway ramps up and turns loose one of the best rock guitar jams ever.

If the Falcons can do a bit better job of putting their players in a position to succeed, the Falcons ‘D’ may be more like the dominant Seahawks defense he led in Seattle. And that would make the Dirty Birds a Super Bowl contender. Turn ’em loose and let them be Freebirds of prey on the NFL.

By Jonathan Simmons

 

 

Ryan silences critics with record 500 yard passing performance

3 Oct

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Matt Ryan has heard the grumbling from fans and the press after last seasons 2nd half collapse. The red zone interceptions. Clear discomfort in Kyle Shanahan’s new offense. The clutch QB play that earned him the nickname ‘Matty Ice’ had been replaced by a hesitant error prone imitation of himself. During his limited work in the 2016 preseason he didn’t look much better.

Ryan stoically handled the criticism as the professional he is and waited to the regular season to unleash the new Matt  Ryan aka  ‘Matticulous’. Ryan has been unstoppable for the 1st quarter of the new season putting up numbers that lead the NFL. He won player of the month for Sept. That was followed up by throwing for a Falcon record 503 yard, 4 TD performance vs the Panthers. He easily won the duel with reigning league MVP Cam Newton who was actually knocked out of the game with a big hit by Deion Jones.

He has been utilizing the many weapons he has at his disposal connecting with 8 or more players in each of the last 2 games. But in yesterday’s game the main thrust of the aerial assault came by ‘Jet’. Julio ‘Jet’ Jones had a career best 300 yards receiving on just 12 receptions. A stunning 25 yards per catch. His last one was a breathtaking  grasp and dash 75 yard TD which sent the Dome into a frenzy. It marked the 1st time in NFL history that a QB threw for 500 or more yards, and a receiver had 300 yards receiving in the same game.

The Falcons offense after 4 games lead the league in scoring, passing yards, and total yards. Ryan also leads QBs in passing, is on a pace to throw for over 5,500 yards and 44 TDs. Of course the season is young, and the NFL unpredictable. But for now Matt Ryan and Falcons can sing to the naysayers – “Turn down for what”

By Minister Jonathan Simmons

Stats from NFL.com

#Bulldogs don’t play #smart in loss to #OleMiss

25 Sep

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Picture from TheBleacherReport.com by Matt Bush USA Today Sports

Different  coach, same results as #Bulldogs lose big in a key #SEC tilt.

It has been heralded as a change in culture. A new attitude, and sharper focus on winning ways under new Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. Smart an assistant under Nick Saban at ‘Bama,  and a former Bulldog player has energized the fan base with his approach to the game.Wins in their 1st 3 games stoked the faithful and pundits into thinking UGA would be an SEC title contender now as they prepared to face Ole Miss in the their first big test of the season. Unfortunately Georgia failed, losing big to the Rebels in Oxford 45-14.

Georgia again looked like a team whose players did not show up for a big game. This was the same story under previous coach Mark Richt. Plenty of credit has to be given to Ole Miss though. QB Chad Kelley threw for 2 TDs and ran 41 yds for another. His unstoppable crew of receivers were led by TE Evan Engram and WR Demarkus Lodge. The 2 combined for 8 catches, 168 yards and 2 TDs

Georgia looked like they weren’t in the same class as the Rebels. Freshman QB Jacob Eason was under pressure all day. Like most of this year, the Bulldog receivers continued to drop passes as if the balls were oiled up. This included two huge drops by Isaiah McKenzie, who had the big catch against Mizzou the week before. And sadly RB Nick Chubb had to leave the game with an ankle injury. At the end of the day we were once again treated to an uninspired performance in a big game by the Georgia football team. Can anyone say ‘Overrated’ again?

By Jonathan Simmons

Stats by ESPN.com

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Are the #Falcons too fragile?

18 Sep

 

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It is tough to write articles that are critical or seem negative.The Real Talk Sports show tries to ‘accentuate the positive’. But life and truth often are harsh and tough to deal with. When we look at this Atlanta Falcons team it seems to always be dealing with injuries to the body and psyche.

Let’s look that physical side. It’s only game 2 and you have several key players already banged up. 2 rookie starters LB DeVondre Campbell and S Keanu Neal out.LB/DE Brooks may be out too.  WRs Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, and RB Devonta Frreman have leg injuries. Recently acquired Dwight Freeney only can practice twice per week.And Vic Beasley still doesn’t appear to be 100% either Hopefully a combination of rest and treatment will get all of them back to full speed.

The mental side of things is questionable too. Game 1 had costly procedure penalties, missed assignments, and poor tackling. There still is a disconnect between QB Matt Ryan and OC Kyle Shanahan. Matt had good stats, but timing was off on several throws causing him to throw behind receivers in critical moments. 1st round pick Vic Beasley had NO tackles or sacks. The mild mannered young also seems out of sorts at times and is rumored not to take tough coaching critique well.

Atlanta’s pro sports teams are filled with nice guys. As a licensed minister I believe that’s a good thing in life to be. However, sports especially at the professional level requires passion, intensity and toughness.

At some point the Falcons are going to have to find some guys with “a little dog in ’em” to give this team the confidence and winning edge they need to get them back to playoffs. Just saying.

By-Minister Jonathan Simmons

 

#Irving, Earvin, or Erving – Sound of success in #NBA Finals

14 Jun
Kyrie Irving Klay Thompson

Is Kyrie the best player in the series?  Photo – cavaliers.247sports.com

Although the names are spelled differently they sound the same. So the performance of Kyrie Irving in game looked like the type game Earvin Johnson and Julius Erving had when they were in the finals in the 70’s and 80’s.  A stretch? Not really when you look at the numbers and situation.

In the 1980 Finals Julius Erving avg 27 pts per game and made one the greatest shots in history in game 4. In the 1987 NBA finals Earvin Johnson scored 29 pts and hit the game winning shot in game 4 on the way to winning the series.

Kyrie Irving in the 2016 Finals is avg 28.6 points per game, (35.5 in the last 3) and his 41 points, 6 assists in last night game 5 was sensational. The narrative was about Lebron who also had his own epic 41 pt, 16 reb, 7 a game. But it was Irving who really kept the engine running for the Cavs with a dazzling array of drives, and jumpers from every distance. He was able to score at will with stunning efficiency. His killer crossover helped him shoot an amazing 70% from the floor.

After watching  Kyrie Irving in these 2016 NBA Finals it looks he might be singing to Curry and Lebron. “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” A song written by another great Irving (Berlin) one of America’s greatest songwriters

by Minister Jonathan Simmons

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