Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Hey, summertime is all about heading off to camps, right?
So let's say hello to the NFL Training Camps that either already have opened up or will open in the coming days -and here's hoping you made a nice little printout of the Jim Sez column this past weekend when all the training camps sites and dates were published right here on this web site.
No doubt that there has been a major facelift among the NFL head coaching ranks -yes, eight of the league's 32 member teams or 25 percent of 'em replaced the coaches from a year ago and already the media folks in/around Dallas are watching things very closely these days even if loud-mouth owner Jerry Jones claims sideline boss-man Jason Garrett isn't in any kind of trouble (hmmm) -but let's spend some of today's column on some old faces in new places where first-time head coaches will rule the roost:
ARIZONA -The new sheriff in town is the well-respected Bruce Arians who was masterful as an interim to a then-ailing head coach Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis a year ago and please don't forget that stint as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2007-through-2011 when the black-and-gold won five post-season games including the thrilling 27-23 triumph over none other than the Arizona Cardinals in SB 43.
Now, Arians will attempt to weave his quarterback guru wand with retread QB Carson Palmer who has not exactly forged a Hall of Fame career with either the Cincinnati Bengals or the Oakland Raiders. Still, ask members of the Cardinals -including defensive lineman Calais Campbell -and they'll be quick to say the Cards are a viable threat to win the NFC West this year thanks to Palmer's arrival in the desert.
"I think you're going to see a different team this season," Campbell told CBSSports.com. "We have a real quarterback to go with a good defense. When we play with a lead, we're heard to beat."
Maybe Campbell and Company can be excused for their wishful-thinking approach following three consecutive non-playoff campaigns but it'll be up to the "marriage" of Arians and Palmer to make things work one year after the Cardinals finished 28th in the league in passing (187.8 yards per game) and 32nd and dead-least in rushing (averaged a mere 75.2 ypg).
Consider it a real positive that Palmer spent part of this summer working out in Minnesota with mega-star WR Larry Fitzgerald who admitted of Palmer that "we need him as bad as anybody".
Expect part of Arizona's summer training camp to include Palmer assessing his wobbly offensive line on a play-by-play basis and should Arians believe this blocking wall cannot be full trusted, than Cardinals' new/old quarterback will have to learn to be more accurate on quickie cut-in or short post patterns.
One year after a merry-go-round system at quarterback didn't work -John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley all were tossed into the fire and none of 'em shined -Palmer's the man but Arians will look to iron out plenty of the team's playbook beginning this week.
SAN DIEGO -Straight from the strange-but-true department comes this factoid: The SD Chargers have not been to the playoffs since the 2009 season and haven't won a post-season game since the 2008 campaign.
Maybe brand-new head coach Mike McCoy -who was born on April Fools' Day (in 1972) but certainly nobody's fool -will be the one to turn the fates/fortunes around on this team that finally/mercifully axed Norv Turn last New Year's Eve following on the heels of a sluggish 7-9 SU (straight-up) and 7-9 ATS (against the spread) season.
McCoy was a highly sought-after commodity as the former offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos was granted permission to interview with the Chicago Bears, the Arizona Cardinals, the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles but he wound up getting hired by the Bolts on January 15th and now he's gonna heavily count on two new faces to the AFC West organization.
First there's rookie LB Manti Te'o who has not been getting "teased" -so far -- following his phony girlfriend bit this past winter. Te'o may have been a major bust in the ND Fighting Irish's 42-14 loss to Alabama in last year's BCS Championship Game but the Chargers are counting on him being a sure tackler right from Day One and you can bet your proverbial bottom dollar that there will be cameras following Te'o's every single move.
True, last year's Chargers ranked sixth in rushing defense a year ago (allowed 96.4 ypg) but Te'o was more than a mere novelty pick -the Chargers wore down late in some games against opposing rushing attacks and so the Heisman Trophy finalist last year must be a major cog if the aforementioned McCoy has plans on getting this club back in post-season action.
And the same holds true for multi-dimensional RB Danny Woodhead who signed with the Chargers as a free agent from New England back on March 15th. Note that Woodhead last year rushed for 301 yards on 76 carries (a 4.0 ypc average) with four rushing TDs for the New England Patriots plus he chipped in with 40 receptions including three TDs and keep in mind only RB Stevan Ridley (12 TDs) and TE Rob Gronkowski (11 TDs) dented the end zone more often for the high-scoring Pats.
So, you know that McCoy -beginning right off the bat with this week's team practices -wants the 5-foot-8, 200-pound Woodhead to be a major factor on a team that has its share of question marks when it comes to so-called "bellcow" RB Ryan Mathews.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out loads of Major-League Baseball Winners all summer long and so check with us right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight action, and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Plus, the NFL Preseason is right around the corner with the annual Hall of Fame Game this year between the Miami Dolphins vs. the Dallas Cowboys on tap for Sunday evening , August 4th. Go ahead and pile up the greenbacks while you're kicking back this summer of 2013!
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES: A SUMMER BUMMER FOR THE NATS
Egads, could the Washington Nationals be cooked even before we get to the final full week in July?
Anyone that watched Davey Johnson's club this past weekend knows there is something terribly wrong with the defending National League East champs when the Nats went down in straight sets to the visiting (and red-hot) Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2, 3-1 (in 10 innings) and 9-2 -yes, that's five runs scored in 28 innings of play and the only bat heard from in Sunday's loss to LHP Clayton Kershaw was that of RF Jayson Werth (two solo dingers) but both came way after that tilt was decided.
The Nationals begin this new work week with a home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates and here's how some of the numbers play out for the D.C. crew:
They are now 48-50 and some 7 full games back of the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves plus the Nats are 7 games back in the loss column from the league's second wild card team (see the 55-43 Cincinnati Reds) and it's duly noted that Washington went 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the Friday/Saturday losses before slumbering their way in Sunday's loss.
Toss into the mix the fact Johnson batted All-Star CF Bryce Harper as his leadoff hitter on Sunday and all he did was go 0-for-4 including three strikeouts while overall the Nats' 1-2-3 batters of Harper, 2B Anthony Rendon and 3B Ryan Zimmerman went a composite 0-for-12 against Kershaw and closer Brandon League.
Believe it or not, the Nationals currently rank 13th in the NL in runs scored with 360 (or 3.67 runs per game) and they are a dismal ninth in home runs in the senior circuit (with 86 clouts) and there sure doesn't seem to be any real life left in this club.
Someone want to give the Nats "last rites"?
And what about that recent published survey that lists the Nats as the 26th most popular MLB team while ranked above just the Oakland A's, the Houston Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Miami Marlins?Right, not a great week for the Nationals who may have to sport a major winning streak -and soon -just to be considered relevant a month from now.