Under Further Review – This week, we salute Bianca’s victory at the US Open, dive into the farm systems of every NHL team and give thanks the Antonio Brown soap opera is over….for now.
She the North – It was almost over in less than an hour and 20 minutes. The girl from Canada was that dominant. Bianca Andreescu shone on the biggest stage in women’s tennis and a whole country can stand up and cheer.
The 19 year old from Mississauga, Ontario all but dominated Serena Williams in winning the U.S. Open Tennis Championship in straight sets 6-3 and 7-5, becoming the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam title. She’s also the first teenager to win a Grand Slam since Maria Sharapova in 2006. Andreescu was up 5-1 in the second set and had match point in her grasp before letting Serena up off the mat. Williams took four straight games and made it suddenly interesting before Bianca closed out the match.
As the match played out, Andreescu was clearly superior. She converted 64% of her first serves. Williams converted only 44%. Off her second serve, Williams won only 30% of the points. Not exactly a receipt for success.
It’s been an amazing run for Andreescu who a year ago failed in qualifying to even get into the tournament. She becomes the first woman to win the U.S. Open in her first trip to the finals. Williams, on the other hand, is now 0-and-4 in Grand Slam finals since winning the Australian Open in 2017 and was denied another opportunity to tie Margaret Court for the most grand slam titles with 24. Andreescu takes home $3.85 million and will jump into the top five in the world rankings. She the North. She the Champ.
Farm System Rankings – The Athletic is doing a deep dive into NHL’s farm systems and the Canucks are ranked fifth in the league according to their prospect rankings. Here’s their look at the Canucks organizational prospect pool.
The Montreal Canadiens had the 6th highest rated farm system.
The Edmonton Oilers ranked 9th.
The Ottawa Senators checked in at 12th.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were ranked 21st.
The Winnipeg Jets, after trading first rounder’s and finishing high in the standings over the past several years, have fallen to 27th.
And the good old Calgary Flames are ranked dead last in the league.
NHL Pre-Season Preview – The Athletic is also previewing every NHL team as we get closer to the start of the 2019-2020 season. Three Canadian NHL teams have been featured so far as they work from the bottom to the top. Ottawa is ranked dead last in the NHL in their pre-season preview.
The outlook for the Edmonton Oilers is not a whole lot better according to the Athletic preview. The Oilers are ranked 27th or fifth from the bottom.
For Vancouver Canuck fans, the news is not particularly good. The Athletic has the Canucks improving but not enough to make the playoffs. I also see them ending up in the 85-90 point range.
Why has it taken the Canucks so long to name Bo Horvat their new captain? He’s entering his sixth season in the NHL and has all the qualities you want in a captain. Just do it!
I have voicing concern about the Canucks lack of depth down the middle and the more I think about it, the more I think they should look at using J.T. Miller as their third line centre. Yes, you need him in your top six but you also have a massive hole on your third line where Adam Gaudette and Brandon Sutter graded out at the bottom of the league last season.
Here’s a bold prediction, if Sven Baertschi keeps working really hard and keeps improving, he could be another Hnat Domincelli. In other words, if he gets anywhere close to 30 feet from the net, it will be an improvement. No wonder the Canucks average shot distance last year was 39 feet.
Thursday Night Snoozefest – Has there ever been a more uninspiring opening night of the NFL season than Thursday night in Chicago? All it did was remind you of how over-hyped the NFL really is. All the NFL pundits have the Bears making the playoffs again this year but sorry, I don’t see it. Great defense – yes! But offensively, they are well, downright, offensive.
It seems like NFL teams have learned nothing over the past few decades about evaluating quarterbacks. If he’s 6’4” and has GQ looks and a big arm, let’s do whatever we have to do to draft him. He may be great in shorts at his Pro Day and can throw the ball 75 yards in the air but it doesn’t mean he will have success at the next level. It usually has a lot to do with accuracy.
Consider the case of the Bears Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago was holding the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft yet felt compelled to trade up one pick with the 49’ers so they could be assured of landing Trubisky even though San Francisco had no intention of selecting him. It cost the Bears two third round picks and a fourth. Trubisky has done nothing to justify the selection and it’s obvious his accuracy is in serious doubt, not to mention his leadership and ability to read defenses. But hey, but he looks the part!
Meanwhile, the Bears could have traded back and still landed a franchise quarterback. In that same draft, the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes with the number ten pick while Houston grabbed Deshaun Watson 12th overall. Great scouting!
It reminds me of a story about perhaps the biggest bust in NFL history, Jamarcus Russell, who was drafted first overall by the L.A. Raiders. During training camp and already questioning his work ethic, the Raiders offensive coordinator decided to play a little trick on him. He gave Russell a tape and told him to look it over. The next day, the OC asked Russell if he watched the tape and he said yes. The tape was blank. Much like what was inside his head.
Thirty Million Reasons – I was happy to see the Raiders finally came to their senses and parted ways with Antonio Brown. The whole training camp charade had become a circus sideshow. By fining Brown $218,000 and placing him on the suspended list, they were able to void $30 million in contract guarantees over the next two seasons.
Brown wasted no time signing with the Patriots who are no righteous they believe they can take on any head case and they may be right.
If you were wondering, there was no way he would sign with Seattle. Here’s a guy who was the most targeted receiver in the NFL last year, yet complained that Ben Rothlisberger wasn’t getting him the ball enough. The Seahawks are a run-first offence with the least number of passes per game in the league. They could use another receiver but he would never see enough balls in Seattle to keep him happy.
Hawkish Swindler – In one fell swoop, Seahawks General Manager John Schneider repaired the team’s biggest weakness – the pass rush or lack thereof. The trade for All-Pro defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from Houston was an all-out swindle. Schneider gave up linebacker Bartevious Mingo, defensive end Jacob Martin and a third round pick in next year’s NFL draft. It was a mere pittance for a player of Clowney’s ability.
The deal basically come down to one year of Clowney in exchange for Martin because Mingo was likely to be cut anyway and the Hawks will re-coup a compensatory third round pick if Clowney signs elsewhere next season. As a franchise tender, Clowney cannot sign an extension with Seattle until after the season is over.
As a result of the trade, Seattle goes from a middle-of-the-pack defense to potentially, a top tier defense. Clowney and Ziggy Ansah now provide the Seahawk with top terrific edge rushers to go along with Jarran Reed and Poona Ford inside. Their front seven is as good as anyone when you add in the linebacking trio of Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. Following the trade of Frank Clark, the Seahawks had a pressing need for a premier pass rusher. When you take into consideration the six-game suspension for Reed, Seattle was missing 23 and a half sacks from a year ago. Suddenly, they now have two Pro Bowlers at defensive end.
Keep in mind, Clowney and Ansah are both on one-year contracts with huge motivation to cash in on big contracts at the end of the season so both have a lot to play for. It also eases the pressure on young rush ends Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier, this year’s top draft pick, to produce right away.
In their 2019 season preview, Sports Illustrated predicted the Seahawks will finish third in the NFC West at 7-and-9. I think SI may want to reconsider that prediction now.
Chuba Fever – Remember the name Chuba Hubbard. The kid from Sherwood Park, Alberta just blew the doors off in the opening game of the season for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Hubbard had 26 carries for 221 yards and three touchdowns in the Cowboys 52-36 rout of Oregon State at Corvallis. The 20 year old sophomore took over as the Cowboys feature back late last season and averaged 106 yards and 5.4 yards per carry over the final four games. Hubbard could be in the Heisman conversation with more days like that. The 6’1”, 207 pound running back is also a world class sprinter and will also compete on the Cowboys track and field team.
Video of the Week – We leave you this week with an incredible version of ‘Walkin’ Blues’ performed by the Joanna Connor Band at somebody’s backyard BBQ in Norwood, Mississippi. You will see why the video has gone viral with 5.5 million views.