A Jeff Gordon Sighting
October 31, 2013
Jeff Gordon and the #24 car picked a good time to end his 32-race winless streak. Gordon’s first win of the 2014 season took place last week at Martinsville and it vaulted him to third place within the point standings.
Gordon’s unexpected trip to victory lane enabled him to close the gap on Chase front-runners Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. He now trails the leaders by 27 points. The win was Gordon’s eighth at the track but was his first on the legendary short track since 2005.
Few give Gordon a chance at his elusive fifth Cup series title. I, for one, am not counting him out. Gordon has slowly crept up the standings after being added to the Chase as an unprecedented 13th driver after the bizarre cheating scandal at Richmond in early September. It would be a historic feat and would bring back memories of Gordon’s greatness from the past.
Rivera Reverses His Thinking
I wrote in these pages a month or so ago about Carolina anthers head coach Ron Rivera refusal to trust Cam Newton and his offense on fourth-and-one situations.
As a result, multiple games have been lost over the past few seasons after the opposition would take the subsequent punt and march down the field for a game-winning score. It happened again in Week 2 this season against the Buffalo Bills.
Panthers’ Ron Rivera
Rivera took a great deal of heat that week as his team fell to 0-2. He must have listened to the critics as he has completely flipped his thinking on fourth-and-short decisions. Rivera is now leaving his offense on the field to face the situation and it has been a success. That, and an improving defense, has led to the Panthers winning four of their last five games.
Carolina’s last victory was a convincing road win at Tampa Bay. Next up is a big home game against the struggling Atlanta Falcons.
Favre Is Back In The News
Injuries and a lack of talent at the quarterback position within the NFL almost brought Brett Favre back into the game. Now three seasons into his retirement, the 44-year old received a call from the St. Louis Rams after Sam Bradford went down with a season-ending injury. I fully realize the state of quarterback play in the NFL is spiraling downward. But I am thankful Favre chose not to make a return to the game.
Back to the current state of the position. I read last week that 51 quarterbacks have thrown at least one pass through eight weeks of play. Ten starters have suffered injuries that have cost them at least one game, and three others have been benched.
Three quarterbacks ticketed for third-string status have already seen action, and one No. 4 quarterback, the Buffalo Bills’ Thad Lewis, has made two starts. It’s no secret that quarterback play is the most important ingredient for NFL success, and clearly there aren’t enough good ones to go around. Parents who raised their sons to be quarterbacks may receive their payoff in 2014. I saw an early mock NFL draft this week that listed nine college quarterbacks who would be drafted in the first round next spring. Hopefully, there will be some quality within the 2014 class of signal callers.
The NBA season tipped off this week which means that our annual struggle with the Charlotte Bobcats begins. The Bobcats finished with a 21-61 record last season. The dismal finish led to yet another coaching firing and hiring.
New head coach Steve Clifford is known to be a defensive-minded coach. Improving that facet of the game should improve the team’s finish in 2014. Two new additions, center Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, will also improve the team a few games this season.
Jefferson and Zeller will give the Bobcats more of an inside presence, something the franchise has not had in recent years. Jefferson can give you 20 points and eight rebounds almost every night. He needs to be doubled at times and that will free up teammates for open jumpers. Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker should benefit most from Jefferson’s presence on the floor. Both back court players possess finishing skills around the basket and can nail perimeter shots if given space to shoot. Ben Gordon, the team’s best three-point shooter, should also see more open looks when Jefferson is on the floor.
I have spent some time in years past saying Charlotte could contend for a playoff berth. I do not see it this year. I do see a 10-game improvement but this will not be enough to finish within the top eight in the East.