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Sports Today: Jimmy Garoppolo trade leaves Bengals, Browns fans feeling frustrated

Published: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 @ 10:07 AM

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05:  Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo should run for president. 

After all, carrying Ohio is generally key to victory, and his trade to the San Francisco 49ers has given people across the state feeling the same way. 

Everybody’s upset! 

Leave it to Bill Belichick and New England to unite Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns fans. 

The Patriots’ decision to send their highly-regarded backup quarterback across the country for a second-round draft pick is harder for Browns backers to swallow because they hoped to get him last spring, and now it appears they could have had him without giving up a king’s ransom.  

I would still be happy with getting DeShone Kizer in the second round, but maybe that’s just me. 

Beyond that, this move has created another front for folks to fight the Hue Jackson vs. the front office war. 

Jackson, the former Bengals offensive coordinator, has hinted that sub-par personnel is a major part of his 1-23 record as coach of the Browns. 

Some fans don’t want to hear that, choosing instead to side with the probably football-illiterate suits over a man who has had multiple successful stops in a long NFL coaching career. 

Jackson is far from perfect, but there’s no denying the roster is awful. The guys who put it together admitted that was part of the plan last year. 

Whether or not the team wins one game or three doesn’t matter much in the long run. In fact, you could argue if the ceiling is last place in the division, winning more games is worse because of draft status. 

Of course, the Browns have not shown any progress from last season. I get that. 

They’ve passed on multiple chances to take quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, and now it looks like they could have had an older, already-trained signal-caller for relatively little if they wanted him. 

I guess that makes the current plight of the Bengals seem kind of trite. 

Better to be in football purgatory than hell, right? I may change my mind eventually, but I’m not there yet. Nothing is worse than the 1990s were for the Bengals — except, of course, perhaps now for the Browns. 

News of the Garoppolo trade hit Southwest Ohio, too, where people are wondering if a Bengals team with offensive line troubles should have been more proactive in shopping their own backup, A.J. McCarron. 

›› Bengals make a change with Burfict

I was firmly in the Keep McCarron camp last winter and spring because I figured he would be more valuable as a backup to the Bengals in 2017 than whatever they got in return. 

Of course, then I thought both Andy Dalton and the team as a whole would look better than they have so far this season. 

The offensive line is in such dire shape, I can get behind the idea moving McCarron now for help could have made sense. 

The problem with trading for players in the middle of the season, of course, is there has be a partner

I’m not going to get too worked up about a deal that wasn’t made without knowing what was truly realistic, but I will continue to wonder how this team gets better in the short term. 

It probably won’t be by drafting more receivers…  

The Dayton Flyers’ 2018 recruiting efforts continued this week with the news a combo guard from Louisville, Ky., is still considering Anthony Grant’s team. 

Chance Moore is a top-300 recruit who is in prep school in West Virginia. 

RELATED: 2018 guard puts UD in his final four

With a bunch of big guys in the gym already and a top point guard committed for next season, it will be interesting to see how Grant is able to build up the talent on the wings now… 

News the Cincinnati Reds have hired Buddy Bell to a job in the front office garnered quite a reaction on our Facebook page. 

I like the move. Bell and general manager Dick Williams explained it as a way of beefing up the baseball side of things in the front office, which makes sense given that Williams has no playing or managing experience. 

They talked about Bell concentrating on development at the major-league level, perhaps acting as a bridge between the minors and the top level of competition. 

READ MORE: Cincinnati native joining Reds front office

If you’ve watched this team closely over the last few years, that seems to be an area they can use some help. 

Perhaps Bell can help unlock the potential in Jose Peraza and get Billy Hamilton to the next step, not to mention make sure Jesse Winker is as ready as he can be for a larger role next season. 

This is also encouraging because it would seem for the second year in a row they have identified an organizational weakness and tried to do something about it. 

Last year, it was working on leadership training to try to stem the tide of losing throughout the minor leagues, something they obviously hope pays dividends at the major-league level eventually. 

There was some immediate success in Dayton, where the Dragons had a great first half and won a playoff series.  

Trae Young named USBWA Freshman of the Week

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 9:19 AM

This may be shocking, so please make sure you’re sitting down before reading this: Trae Young was named the US Basketball Writers Association Freshman of the Week on Tuesday.

It’s the fourth time Young has won the honor — officially the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Week Award, named after another outstanding Oklahoma Sooner.

Young played two games in the week ending on January 14. He averaged 35.0 points, 8.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in that span and led Oklahoma to wins over two Top-25 conference opponents in TCU and Texas Tech. He made 14 out of 28 three-pointers, including nailing 10 in the TCU game. Against the Horned Frogs, he scored 43 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander wrote about Young Tuesday, and his comments were cited in the USBWA’s release.

“Young (barring injury) has essentially wrapped up Freshman of the Year,” Norlander wrote. “He’s reduced the Frosh Watch to a ranking of nine instead of 10 because there is no suspense, and hasn’t been any since the start of December, about the top spot in the rankings. It’s impossible to see how any player catches him. As I wrote on Saturday, he seems physically incapable of having a bad game at the college level.”

Despite the award being named after a Sooners legend, Oklahoma has never had a men’s player win the USBWA’s Freshman of the Year Award. Trae Young is well on his way to being the first.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster selected to NFL All-Rookie Team

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 9:12 AM

JuJu Smith-Schuster is getting awarded for his impressive rookie season in the NFL.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver was voted to the 2017 NFL All-Rookie Team by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Smith-Schuster, the former USC receiver, caught 58 passes for 917 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Steelers.

The Steelers drafted Smith-Schuster in second round (No. 62 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft. Smith-Schuster totaled 213 receptions for 3,092 and 25 touchdowns in three seasons with the Trojans.

Pro Football Writers of America 2017 All-Rookie Team

Bob Huggins compares team to inconsistent golfer after West Virginia loses consecutive games

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 9:08 AM

West Virginia’s No. 2 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll, the team’s highest since 1959, was short lived.

The Mountaineers narrowly escaped Baylor on Jan. 9 before falling on the road to Texas Tech on Jan. 13. A loss to Kansas on Monday has now sent the Mountaineers to their first consecutive losses of the season after falling to No. 6 in the poll earlier that morning.

And West Virginia coach Bob Huggins had what may have been a creative, yet perfect analogy to describe his team’s performance since coming in at No. 2 on Jan. 8.

Huggins compared the Mountaineers to a golfer who shoots a near-perfect score on the front nine, only to implode on the back nine, according to Mike Caszza of 247Sports.

“You ever hear the analogy of a guy playing golf, and he is like a 90 shooter? He shoots 90 most of the time, but he goes out and shoots 37 on the front and he says ‘This isn’t like me, man. I don’t know what this is today. This isn’t like me.’ Then he goes out and shoots 50 on the back and he’s like ‘See, this is more like me.’ He’s comfortable shooting a 59. He’s not comfortable shooting 37. We probably weren’t comfortable being No. 2 in the country.”

West Virginia shot out to a 15-1 start on the season, winning 15-straight games after losing its season-opener vs. Texas A&M.

The Mountaineers now have their first losing streak of the season, albeit both losses coming against top-10 teams.

West Virginia resumes action with a home game vs. Texas on Saturday before consecutive ranked matchups with No. 24 TCU and No. 18 Kentucky the following week.


Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy’s film will force an NFL team ‘to pull the trigger’ and draft him, scout says

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

They’ll poke. They’ll yank. They’ll twist. They’ll scan every sinew the way your auntie scans her groceries at the Walmart self-checkout line. But once the NFL types are done working Jack Cichy the way a butcher works a Boston butt, it always goes back to the film, and the film don’t lie:

“My guess is, somebody’s going to pull the trigger on him with a compensatory draft pick,” longtime NFL scout and general manager Dan Shonka said of the former Wisconsin linebacker. “Maybe fold him away for a year, get him back to 100 percent.

“He’s a good football player. Maybe even a fourth [rounder] … but I think you could safely say between four and six somewhere. You’d love to get him at six, [where] one linebacker coach says, ‘Hey, we can do this.’”

One coach. One front office. One franchise, willing to stick its neck out for a playmaker who hasn’t made a football play, at game speed, in 15 months.

“Cichy has graded very well in all three phases when he’s been on the field, but the reality is, in three seasons, he’s played just 737 snaps,” Pro Football Focus Big Ten analyst Josh Liskiewitz said of Cichy.

“I think squeaking into Day 2 [of the draft] was always going to be tough for him because his size is average at best, and I don’t see elite speed or explosiveness. There’s not much he can show scouts in terms of health and durability, other than testing well at the combine and clearing medicals.

“I think Day 3 is where he’ll slot regardless, but in order to get into the fourth or fifth round he’ll probably need to run under 4.7 [in the 40-yard dash]. And it wouldn’t hurt to shoot for Ben Gedeon’s numbers from last year, which were a surprise to teams.”

‘He had surgery, so that’s probably going to be taken into account’

When the first line in the dossier says DAMAGED GOODS, the idea is to get prospective NFL employers focusing more on the latter word and less on the former. From Halloween 2015 to Halloween 2016, the 6-foot-2 linebacker was one of the most productive defenders in the Big Ten, recording at least 10 tackles on five different occasions while racking up 6.5 sacks over an 11-game stretch. That includes a second half at the 2015 Holiday Bowl that became the stuff of legend:

Flip side: A torn pectoral muscle sustained at Iowa cut a stellar 2016 campaign short after seven contests. And just when Cichy was poised to unleash hell last fall, a freak injury during preseason camp in August shredded his right ACL and ended his senior season — and his Badgers tenure — with more questions than answers.

“Ultimately Cichy, in the eyes of the NFL, isn’t going to be defined by three plays from 2015,” Liskiewitz noted. “And even looking at them, one was unblocked and the other two were very poor block attempts by a running back. He just doesn’t have a stable body of work, and without elite height/weight/speed measurables, I think he’s a late Day 3 guy.”

At 6-2, 234 pounds and with a frame that looks leaner, Cichy isn’t a prototypical NFL 4-3 middle linebacker, nor is he a physical freak like former Wisconsin running mate T.J. Watt, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He could slot inside in a 3-4 front, but there will be red flags about strength and bulk in addition to the running narrative on durability.

“He had surgery, so that’s probably going to be taken into account,” Shonka said. “Somebody will probably draft him and maybe they’ll even put him on PUP or something and make sure he’s 100 percent. So, for instance, if he’s a fourth- or fifth-round compensatory pick, that’s not all that much money if he never plays, or if he’s limited. And he might be, unfortunately.”

‘This kid may step off a curb and may be done the minute we get out of this meeting’

Cichy, who’s working out in Phoenix this winter in advance of the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next month, can take some solace from a guy he used to cover — former Michigan tight end Jake Butt.

Butt spent much of last winter recovering from surgery after tearing his right ACL in the 2016 Orange Bowl in late December. The Denver Broncos took a flyer on him anyway, snatching the Ohio native in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and stashing him on the reserve/non-football injury list and the Physically Unable to Perform list for his rookie season.

“What’s going to be key is the doctor, is what they say,” Shonka continued. “They may say, ‘Hey, this kid may step off a curb and may be done the minute we get out of this meeting.’ And some doctor says, ‘Take him sixth or seventh round, I don’t have much [of a read] on him.’

“If I was on it, I wouldn’t ever take an injured guy at all, and I’ve been around where we made good decisions on injured guys. You’re going to get the hell beat out of you going into the NFL. I like guys as durable as possible, but that’s just me.  But I know people who will take guys who are injured.”

And it only takes one.