Is Khalil Mack deserving of NFL defensive ROY

Khalil Mack has been solid against the run but he hasn't registered a sack. Has he done enough to deserve NFL, Defensive Rookie of the Year?

By Rich Winter

Despite playing on a woefully bad Oakland Raider team, Raiders rookie LB, Khalil Mack is getting some press for NFL, Defensive Rookie of the Year. 

Coming out of the University of Buffalo, Mack was projected to be in the mold of a Denver-like Von Miller. Thus far, he's been exceptional against the run but hasn't recorded an NFL sack. 

Excerpts from an Associated Press story on Mack's rookie impact. 

The only thing lacking so far from Mack is something he was supposed to get frequently: a quarterback sack. Through seven games, Mack is still seeking his first sack despite being compared to pass rushing specialist Von Miller when he was drafted fifth overall in May.

"It's something that's kind of sitting on my mind," Mack said. "All my teammates talk about it. It will come soon enough but even then I'm working hard to get there."

But the sacks will come, Mack is getting closer and he's drawing praise from opposing players. 

Mack has come awfully close, especially in recent weeks. He has been credited with 15 quarterback hurries and hits the past three games, according to Pro Football Focus, and his 22 pressures for the season are the most for any player without a sack.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson called him a spectacular player who was playing like the defensive rookie of the year heading into Sunday's game against the Seahawks.

And Pete Carroll was even more glowing in his reaction to facing off against Mack this weekend. 

"He jumps off the film," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "Every one of our coaches, when they break up and start looking at the Raiders and taking seriously what they're doing well, everybody comes back talking about him. He's almost unblockable and he's got a great motor. He's fast, he's tough, he's instinctive. We think he's an obvious factor."

While there hasn't been much of a Silver and Black lining in Oakland this year, the Raiders defense looks like they have a young stud to build around. If Mack is to make a late push for rookie of the year, then he's got to start forcing fumbles and creating havoc, something Oakland has not been doing this year with just seven sacks on the year as a team. 

Mack is third on the team in total tackles with 43!

Other contenders: 

1. Kyle Fuller, Bears cornerback: Leading the league with three interceptions.

2. C.J. Mosley, Ravens linebacker: Baltimore's answer to Pittsburgh's Ryan Shazier, Mosley has served as a plug-and-play inside force from Day 1. He played his best game yet on Sunday against the Panthers, shutting down the run en route to a league-leading 14 defensive stops on the season, per Pro Football Focus. He'll struggle to win this award because he's not a pass-rusher or turnover machine, but Mosley has been a rock-solid pick for Baltimore.

What's wrong with Carolina and Cam Newton?

Cam Newton wasn't celebrating after his 10-28 performance against the Saints last night.

By Rich Winter

Is it insane for me to watch the Carolina Panthers every week and expect something different from this team? Should I expect that for one game, just one game the Carolina running game gets going? Should I expect Cam Newton, now in his fourth season to look like a field general at home in a gigantic division game or should I just accept that he's a mediocre NFL QB stuck in a system that just doesn't seem to fit his talents?

I'm confused on this Cam Newton thing. 

A few weeks back at Cincinnati the man just went off: 29-46 for 284 with 2 td's and 17-107 with 1 rushing td.

Where is that Cam Newton when you need him in a big division game?

Vs. the Saints last night: 10-28 with 151 yards and an interception, 7-43 with 1 rushing touchdown.

What NFL QB can only complete 10-28 passes? That's terrible.

Several times during the game last night, the commentators floated over to Greg Olsen on the bench. When the game was still close, one of the miked up shots showed Olsen urging his teammates that they needed to get after it an score on the next possession.

And then, after a failed drive, the cameras panned to a despondent Olsen who just doesn't seem to be a factor in the Carolina offense or a target from Cam Newton.

Greg Olsen is a stud, a top-5 FF tight end. He's a notch below Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowksi, but I saw a Phil Simms graphic last night that listed him as the No. 5 tight end in football.

How does the No. 5 tight end in football get 4 targets, and 3 catches for 30 yards? Well, maybe because Cam Newton targeted Kelvin Benjamin 10 times of which he caught 2 for 18 yards.


The running back situation:

 Why is it that Carolina can't get the running game going. Yes, I know they started an un-drafted guy at left tackle last night and he got blown up, but run it to the right then, run it up the middle.

In Fantasy Football circles, we all shy away from the Jonathon Stewart, DeAngelo Williams hole of death because at the end of the day, the combination is not working. Pick one and move on Carolina.

I watch Cam Newton pretty closely ever week. I love to scrutinize his play because I've been on him since he came into the league. The thing is, I want to root for him. I want to see him succeed and do some great things, but every time I think he's turned the corner, he takes two steps backwards.

Remember when Jon Gruden asked Newton to describe a college football play and Newton couldn't. What college quarterback can't rattle off an intricate play call when asked by Jon Gruden? 

All of them except Newton. 

The 12-4 team of a year ago, that is long gone. That team had great leadership with Steve Smith and a smoking good defense. The 2014 Panthers have a so-so defense and a quarterback in his fourth year that is still wildly inconsistent. 

Big decision in Carolina at the end of the season: Do they sign Cam Newton to a long-term contract and if so, what kind of money do they owe him?

Maybe that Andy Dalton deal isn't looking so bad after all!

I'm just not sure if Cam Newton is a guy that you can count on to get up for a big game. His inaccuracy last night was off the charts.

Seems to me like this Carolina team doesn't have an identity. They aren't a running team and they aren't a passing team. They are a team that when the offense breaks down, Cam Newton can occasionally make plays with his feet.

You don't win like that in the NFL!

Follow me @panicgalore

Are the 1959 CEB Braves one of the top-ten Native teams in South Dakota history?

Here are the 1959 State B champions from Cheyenne in the locker room after their win: (from left) Delane Chasing Hawk, Freddie Knife, Percy Philips, Keller Condon (11), Eugene Red Bird, Tommy Makes Him First, Elgin Stricker, Robert Mandan, Melvin Bagola and Chester Condon. American News Archives Photo

By Rich Winter

    Well, it's official, I'm getting fired up for high school basketball in South Dakota.

I was sitting around trying, without help from the internet, trying to figure out some of the top Native teams in South Dakota history. Where to start?

I know more about Todd County and St. Francis I suppose, because I lived in Mission for ten years. I know quite a bit about Red Cloud, Little Wound and Pine Ridge over the last ten years and in the mid to late 80's but don't know much from 1990-2004.

How to fill in the blanks?

So, with the help of the internet I ventured onto the 1959 CEB Braves team that won a state championship. I'm guessing this team would likely be in the top-10 of all-time Native basketball teams in South Dakota.

Dug up a little history on the CEB program this morning.

The 1940 Cheyenne team started the school’s boys’ basketball tradition, making it to the school’s first state tourney. Then came a 85-13 three-year run led by standout player Freddie Knife and coach Gus Kolb (a South Dakota State graduate from Leola). That run included a third-place State B finish in 1958 and a State B championship in 1959 — years when Cheyenne played its home games about 20 miles away in Gettysburg because of an inadequate gym that could not begin to hold its fan base, according to accounts in the American News archives.

At the end of the 1959 school year, the aging Cheyenne boarding school was moved into Eagle Butte due to flooding from the Oahe Reservoir, according to those newspaper accounts. One of the benefits was a spacious new gymnasium was being built in Eagle Butte. The American News reported that the Cheyenne and Eagle Butte schools would meld into Cheyenne-Eagle Butte. 

Hmmmm, interesting!

Trying to find out some more information on great Native teams and players as we head into November and basketball season. Please feel free to contact me on twitter @panicgalore or via emial at

Old photos would be killer.

Long-term goal, try to put together some kind of book or at least scribe some material on some of these great athletes and players.

Fantasy - Sit Giovanni Bernard this week, he's not going to play!

Giovanni Bernard is nursing a hip injury and a shoulder injury. The Bengals host the Jags and the Browns in the next two weeks so it might be a good time to sit Bernard.

By Rich Winter

         I noticed a little blurb yesterday about Giovanni Bernard not practicing because of a sore hip. I didn't give it much of a glance because I don't have Bernard on my roster. With little or no thought, I just automatically thought Bernard would play this Sunday. 

     And then I got to my buddy's house to watch the Thursday night game and he's sitting there fiddling with his lineup, trying to decide what to do with Bernard, and then it got a little more serious.

    "Who do they play," I asked.

     "Jacksonville," was the reply.


     To further complicate things, the injury report this morning says that Bernard didn't practice Thursday, (hasn't all week) and that in addition to the hip injury that took him out of the Baltimore game last week, he is also dealing with a previously undisclosed shoulder injury.

So, in thinking about this on Friday morning, I had to look a little more at who the Bengals are playing this week and next.

Home vs. Jacksonville this week

Home vs. Cleveland next week

The season has been sorta up and down for this Bengals squad. The AJ Green toe injury has really taken this offense backwards, but it looks like Green will go on Sunday. I gotta think in my heart of hearts the Bengals think they can beat Jacksonville at home with or without Bernard. I also think they probably think they can beat Cleveland next week at home, with or without Bernard.

With the nature of the two injuries that Bernard is nursing and the soft schedule for two weeks and the return of Green, I'm saying no way Giovanni Bernard touches the field this week. He's too valuable of an asset for these Cincinnati Bengals and with a tougher road-schedule coming up in November, I gotta think the Bengals want to have Bernard at full strength for the stretch run.

Bench - Giovanni Bernard

Start - Jeremy Hill

The NFL injury reports are pretty lame on Friday and Saturday so make sure you check this one out on Sunday morning as he'll likely post as a game time decision, but if I've got him, I'm already making plans.

Follow me @panicgalore

Will LeBron James' legacy be hero or villain?

After leaving Cleveland to go to Miami and now back to Cleveland, will LeBron James ever be able to shake his 'Villain' image?

By Rich Winter

My Facebook page is already starting to light up with CAV NATION crap and can't wait for LeBron's game tonight.

Of course the flip side of that is my Facebook page is lighting up with people that can't stand LeBron and hope that he fails miserably in Cleveland. 

Ahhhhh, King James takes the court tonight and while it's just the lowly Knicks he's facing, I'm guessing I'll be splitting time between the NFL's Thursday Night game and the Cleveland vs. New York game.

As King James takes to the court tonight I gotta say, I don't think LeBron James is ever going to shake the villain image.

Let's review the facts: (or at least my opinion)

* I don't think people are ready to appreciate LeBron's game for him anointing himself King James. It rubbed some people the wrong way.

* The way he took off his jersey after the loss to the Celtics in the playoffs (ESPN was thumbing through the top-3 LeBron James, Cleveland highlights and they came up with a bunch of stuff. My burning Cleveland memory of LeBron is that of him being a pout-sack and a poor sport as he walked off the court for the last time. (Allegedly)

* The pompous way he left Cleveland - Maybe he was too young to know what he was doing but that interview with Jim Gray was nonsense and then the way he waltzed around with his not one, not two, not 7 act. That was disrespectful to the legends of the game that won their championships the old-fashioned way.

* And then he leaves Miami and comes back to Cleveland - Pretty cheesy to abandon Miami after the Heat bought all in on his services.

I have to be honest in saying in my book LeBron James' legacy is going to be that of a villain and there is nothing he can do in the next ten years that will change my mind. In the Finals last year I took a step back to not dislike his game so I could take a real look at this guy. He's a fabulously talented athlete that is easily the best, all-around player in the game. I appreciated his talents for a few games but now he's off to Cleveland and his legions of Brand-fans, not basketball fans, think it's ok to suddenly be a Cleveland fan.

Good for Cleveland and I wish them success and even a championship because it would mean so much to that city. 

But, my lasting impression of LeBron James will be that of a big, whiny, baby that flops (overreacts to every little hit that he gets). What I'll remember from the championships down in Miami is that he lost two of them and that when the going got tough, he always passed the ball to someone else. He's a great player but when the game is on the line, he's looking to distribute.

If Cleveland doesn't make the finals this year, can you imagine the pressure that's going to mount for this man?

What if they don't win it next year?


I love his game and I'll always appreciate his game, but sorry, I have more fun cheering against King James