Breaking down the Raiders 5 biggest offseason needs

New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said it best: “When you’re looking at a team that’s 4-12, there are a lot of holes.”

It’s not just edge rushers the Raiders lack after finishing with the fewest sacks (13) of any team in a single season since 2008. There are gaping holes on both sides of the ball that need to be filled in free agency and the draft if the Raiders want to even sniff the playoff hunt before moving to Vegas.

Let’s have a look at the Raiders’ five biggest needs entering this offseason.

5. Linebacker

What they had: Tahir Whitehead, Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow, Jason Cabinda, Kyle Wilber

Impending UFAs: None

Why it’s a need: Whitehead was shaky against the pass, even if Mayock loves him. Lee, Morrow and Cabinda flashed, but not enough. The Raiders need someone in the middle who opponents are scared of, something the Raiders haven’t had in a long, long time.

What’s next: LSU linebacker Devin White is an option at No. 4, but the Raiders probably won’t go for a linebacker that high. If they trade back with a quarterback-needy team, White becomes more reasonable. He can be that guy the Raiders have missed for so many years. If the Raiders want to spend big at linebacker in free agency, which I doubt they do, Baltimore’s C.J. Mosley, Minnesota’s Anthony Barr, Washington’s Preston Smith and Seattle’s K.J. Wright are among the top options set to become unrestricted free agents in March.

4. Running back

What they had: Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington

Impending UFAs: Lynch, Martin

Why it’s a need: The Raiders finished 25th in the league with 101.8 rushing yards per game and tied for first in the league with six rushing fumbles lost. Lynch will be 33. Martin will be 30, and lost more fumbles (three) than 22 …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


How one California high school athlete is proving you don’t need 10 fingers to make it in basketball

Everyone has a movie growing up they are inextricably drawn to, a favorite character who speaks to them.

For Elijah McGee, that movie was “Finding Nemo.”

McGee’s left hand was not fully formed at birth. Circulation to the extremity was cut off in the womb, leaving him without full mobility in his thumb, while the other fingers never grew to full size. His family always referred to it as his “baby hand.”

So McGee felt a connection to the titular Nemo, the young orange and white clownfish with an underdeveloped right fin who was unafraid of any obstacle put in his path.

“He loved him some ‘Finding Nemo,’ ” McGee’s mother, Casey Dowling, recalled. “It didn’t correlate to him that Nemo had a baby fin like he had a baby hand. That movie came out right on time.”

So when looking for advice on how to help her son overcome his disability as he began to play sports in middle school, Dowling looked to a foundation inspired by Nemo, the Lucky Fin Project, and found a mantra for her son to live by:

Ten fingers are overrated.

“I always knew, just because I don’t have 10 fingers doesn’t mean I can’t do it,” McGee said. “That expression makes me more comfortable when I’m playing sports. She would talk to me and tell me, ‘Keep on going. It doesn’t matter.’ “

And that’s what he’s done, now the leading scorer on the Cabrillo High basketball team with hopes of playing college basketball after his senior season.

During a ceremony honoring Cabrillo High’s senior basketball players, Elijah McGee, center, is flanked by his mother, Casey Dowling, and his brother, Matthew Dowling, before their game against Wilson in Long Beach on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)
Cabrillo High basketball senior guard Elijah McGee, center, with his teammates …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


Why the Los Angeles Rams will win Super Bowl LIII

This is the Los Angeles Rams‘ first Super Bowl since 2001, and not many people are giving the underdogs a chance.

Jared Goff is the fourth-youngest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history. Sean McVay, at just 33, is the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history. In fact, Tom Brady is eight years older than McVay.

But despite a huge discrepancy in experience, there are valid reasons why the young Rams should be taken seriously.

The Rams are looking for the second Super Bowl win in franchise history, with the first also coming in Atlanta in 2000. Here’s why you shouldn’t bet against the team lifting its second in the same city.

The Defensive Front Four
Tom Brady might be the greatest of all-time, but the best player in Sunday’s game will be Aaron Donald.

Question: What stands out about Aaron Donald?

Bill Belichick: “Everything. He’s pretty much unblockable.”

— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 22, 2019

Brady lost in the Super Bowl twice against the New York Giants because of pressure up the middle, and is 1-3 in Super Bowls when he has been hit eight or more times. Led by Donald, the Rams have the talent in their front four to cause similar problems for No. 12.

Aaron Donald & the Rams defense has generated the highest pressure rate from the interior (16.6%) this season.

Tom Brady has been significantly more effective against edge pressure (118.7 passer rating) than interior pressure (63.1).

Who wins this matchup?#SuperBowl

— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 29, 2019

No co-ordinator coaches against Brady better than Rams defensive co-ordinator Wade Phillips. In the 2015 AFC championship game, the Denver Broncos – under Phillips’ tutelage – got after Brady like nobody else has since, sacking him four times and …read more



3 things we learned in the NHL: Letang climbs elite Penguins’ list

Kris Letang tied Paul Coffey for most goals by a Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman, Evgeni Malkin became the youngest Russian to notch 600 assists, and Ben Bishop continued to dominate the Buffalo Sabres.

Here are three things we learned in the NHL Wednesday night.

Kris Letang ties Paul Coffey

With his 108th goal of his 13-year career, Kris Letang tied Pittsburgh Penguins legend Paul Coffey for most goals by a defenceman in franchise history.

Letang jumped up into the rush and took a Phil Kessel feed down the right wing, and absolutely sniped one past a helpless Andrei Vasilevskiy for his 12th goal of the season, giving the Pens a 4-0 stranglehold over the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

LETANGERANG! @Letang_58 has 15 points (4G-11A) in his last 12 games against the Lightning.

— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 31, 2019

After battling injury problems for the last few years, the 31-year-old has consistently been one of the best defenceman in the NHL this season. The offensive-minded defenceman has chipped in 12 goals and added 30 assists in 48 contests this season.

Malkin becomes youngest Russian to notch 600 assists

Letang wasn’t the only Penguins player to accomplish a milestone Wednesday night. Evgeni Malkin notched his 600th career NHL assist becoming only the fourth Russian-born player — and the youngest — to accomplish the feat.

Evgeni Malkin became the fourth Russian-born player to record 600 assists, requiring the fewest games to reach the milestone (834 GP). #NHLStats #TBLvsPIT

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 31, 2019

Malkin also became only the fourth Penguins player to hit 600 assists, joining Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, of course, …read more



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