Ed Reed Finds a New Home With the New York Jets

Well, that didn’t take long. Safety Ed Reed, who was released by the Houston Texans earlier this week, was signed by the New York Jets on Thursday. Reed played for current Jets head coach Rex Ryan in Baltimore, where Ryan served as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator for 4 seasons and was with the team as an assistant for Reed’s first seven years in Baltimore. Reed cleared waivers on Wednesday and the Jets swooped in and picked him up.

Reed should be available to play this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. It is possible that he will start the game. However, even if he doesn’t, he will get significant playing time. It shouldn’t take Reed long to learn the system, due to the years he played with Ryan. Also, the Jets’ current defensive coordinator, Dennis Thurman, was previously an assistant in Baltimore. Also, Reed played alongside current Jets’ safety Dawan Landry in Baltimore. There is a lot of familiarity there.

To make room for Reed on the roster, the Jets cut linebacker Ricky Sapp. Ryan has long been a fan of Reed, even after Ryan left the Ravens and took over the Jets as head coach. It is no surprise he was thrilled to get a chance to coach him once again. While Reed looked like a shell of himself this year in Houston, the Jets are hoping he feels motivated by his release to reach down and find a little bit of his past All-Pro self. Just last year, Reed made the Pro Bowl and helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl, so the hope is that he still has something left in the tank.

It isn’t like he can really hurt the Jets’ pass defense, anyway. Currently, the Jets rank 24th in pass defense, giving up 251 yards a game. They also have only intercepted 5 passes. Reed has made a name for himself in the league as a ball hawk, as he has 61 career interceptions and seven returns for touchdown. The Jets are currently in the playoff hunt, as they have a 5-4 record and are currently in the final AFC wild card spot.

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Former Raiders Standout Todd Christensen Passes Away at 57

Former NFL standout tight end Todd Christensen passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 57. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Christensen had been dealing with liver disease and died while in surgery at a Provo hospital. An all-around great athlete, Christensen was active after his pro football career ended, taking part in track and field events.Per his bio, he set a world record in the heptathlon for the 45-and-over age class.

Christensen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2nd round in 1978 out of BYU, where he was a fullback. However, it was as a tight end that Christensen would make a name for himself in the NFL. With the Raiders in the early to mid ’80s, he became not only one of the best tight ends in the game, he was one of the best receivers, period. He twice led the NFL in receptions, in 1983 and 1986, and went over the 1,000 yard receiving mark three times. He made the Pro Bowl five times and twice was a first-team All-Pro.

Ed Reed is No Longer a Houston Texan as Team Cuts Him

In what has been basically a lost season for the Houston Texans, the team decided to cut one legend and place one of the league’s best players on the IR. Safety Ed Reed, who Houston signed to a 3-year deal in the offseason, has been released by the Texans. Reed, 35, had recently lost his starting job and was being relegated to dime packages. Also, Reed did not seem happy with the current situation in Houston. After the Texans’ loss to Arizona on Sunday, Reed had this to say: “Arizona played their best ball. We played really well outside of certain situations. Certain situations, we just got outplayed and out-coached…If you’re watching the game, it’s not no-brainers. Certain situations we have to get off the field. We need three-and-out. You have to also come out as an offense and move the ball. We can’t go three-and-out and put your defense on the field that quick. That drive that they had … I’m looking at it like guys are a little fatigued because I know if you don’t control the ball as much, offensively and defensively, you’re going to get fatigued. They’re going to get plays. Eventually they’re going to figure out what you’re doing if you’re doing the same old things.”

In the Arizona game, which Houston lost 27-24, Reed only played a total of 12 snaps. For the season, he has only 16 tackles and no INTs in 7 games. Reed began the season on the PUP list as he recovered from surgery on a torn labrum. He missed all of training camp and the first two games of the season. The sure-to-be Hall of Famer made the Pro Bowl last year with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, who he had played for ever since being drafted by them out of the University of Miami in 2002. He was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2004

Reed won’t go away empty-handed. The Houston Texans have already paid him $5.5 million on the $15 million contract he signed. He was guaranteed $5 million and he’s been paid roughly half a million more this season. Even if no team wants to take a chance on him, he at least was able to go out making a little bank. However, I have the feeling that, despite his age and poor play in Houston, there will at least be one other team that will give Reed an opportunity. It isn’t every day you can pick up a Hall of Fame safety, even one with diminished skills.

The Texans also made it official and placed running back Arian Foster on the IR after it was decided that he would need surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back. The surgery is scheduled for Thursday with Dr. Robert Watkins. Foster had come into the season having had three straight seasons of 1,200+rushing yards. This season, in 8 games, he had 542 yards rushing on 121 attempts. He only had 4 carries in the Kansas City game in Week 7 and then didn’t have any rushing attempts in Week 9 against Indy. While he dressed for the Indy game, he ended up coming out early with a back injury.

Overall, this has just been an awful season for the Texans. Also in that Indy game was when head coach Gary Kubiak suffered a mild stroke and had to be carted out at halftime. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is taking over as head coach until Kubiak can come back. However, with the Texans record now sitting at 2-7 and their best player now on IR, does Kubiak even really want to come back this year? At the time of his illness, it was pretty apparent that he was on the chopping block. Does he want to really come back to coach a couple of games just to get fired in the end anyway?

 

Atlanta Mayor Says Turner Field Will Be Demolished Once Braves Move Out

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed announced in a news conference on Tuesdaythat the current home of the Atlanta Braves, Turner Field, will be demolished once the Braves move out. On Monday, Atlanta Braves ownership stated that they planned to move out of Turner Field and into a brand-new stadium in Cobb County after the 2016 season. That will be when the team’s 20-year lease with the stadium is up.

The proposed 42,000-seat stadium that the Braves will move into is being built at a cost of $672 million. Besides being located in the suburbs, the county is providing $450 million in public funds, per Reed. The team will finance the rest of the construction costs. Braves’ ownership had stated that they felt that Turner Field needed at least $150 million in normal infrastructure repairs and perhaps another $200 million to bring it up to par with the newer stadiums in terms of luxury suites and other amenities.

It was no secret that the Braves were not fond of the stadium or its location. While still less than 20 years old, the stadium itself was actually built for the 1996 Olympics and then used by the Braves as their new home at the beginning of the 1997 season. Therefore, unlike a lot of the baseball-only stadiums built around that time, Turner Field was somewhat plain and not made exclusively for the Braves. Also, the Braves have decried the location for years, as it is surrounded by some of the poorer parts of the city and there are no close mass transit options.

Considering that Reed had already gone through a long and bitter fight with the city council getting public funds to help build a new football stadium for the Falcons, there didn’t appear to be any will by him, the council or the city’s taxpayers to front even more money to improve Turner Field. It should also be pointed out that the Georgia Dome was opened in 1992. Trying to convince the councilmembers to take on more spending related to another relatively young stadium was going to be a tough road to navigate.

Reed has stated that his plans with the space that will be vacated by the stadium are to create massive housing developments for middle-class people. Most likely, this is an effort to try to bring in much of the population that has retreated to the suburbs due to white flight. While one could look at the departing stadium as a loss for the city, there has not been much in the way of redevelopment for the surrounding areas in the years that stadium has sat there. Typically stadiums and arenas are economic stimulants for the surrounding neighborhoods, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with Turner Field.

In this case, this might be the best thing for both the Braves and the city. The Braves get a brand new stadium located in a more affluent area that could bring in more revenue. The city is not on the hook for any further money to help renovate the existing stadium and they may finally be able to really develop and improve a major part of Atlanta. However, this could be somewhat concerning for the repercussions it can have in the arena of MLB and all major-league sports. Will other teams see that the Braves were able to get themselves a brand-new stadium built for them, largely with tax dollars, less than 20 years after moving into a then new stadium, and think that this is a method they should attempt? Is it possible that we will see some extortion attempts by major-league franchises to bilk large amounts of public funds from cities to either renovate existing stadiums or build brand-new ones? It is something to wonder about.

Jose Fernandez Bests Yasiel Puig for NL Rookie of the Year

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was the overwhelming choice for the NL Rookie of the Year award on Monday. The 21-year-old right-hander received 26 first-place votes from the BBWAA to become the fourth Marlins player in history to win the award. His 142 point total was well ahead of second-place Yasiel Puig. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller finished a distant third with 12 points.

It was pretty much a given that the award was basically between Fernandez and Puig and it all depended on what the voters valued more. Would they go for the amazing offensive numbers that Puig put up once he was called up by the Dodgers in early June? Or would they reward the Cy Young-type stats that Fernandez compiled for a terrible Marlins team? In the end, pitching trumped offense, as Fernandez’s performance this season was able to win out over Puigmania.

Fernandez was the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He defected from Cuba in 2008 at the age of 16 and then attended high school in Tampa. While he began the season at the #5 prospect in baseball per Baseball America, the Marlins plan was to initially have Fernandez start the year in AA and perhaps get called up towards the end of the year. However, injuries depleted the starting rotation before spring training was done. Therefore, despite never pitching above Single-A, Fernandez made the Opening Day roster and jumped right to the big leagues.

For the season, Fernandez was nothing short of awesome. In 28 starts, Fernandez went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 0.979 WHiP, while posting 187 strikeouts in 172.2 innings. The Marlins decided to shut Fernandez down in September so he wouldn’t get overused. He made the All-Star team, finished 2nd in the league in ERA, 2nd in strikeouts per nine innings and 3rd in WHiP.

Puig, like Fernandez, is also a Cuban defector. After making his way to the States in 2012, he signed a 7-year/$42 million contract with the Dodgers. He started this season in AA Chattanooga and was called up to the majors in early June. The Dodgers were struggling at the time of the call-up and then heated up. Much of the credit for L.A.’s surge was given to Puig, who was tearing the cover off of the ball in his first few weeks up. While he did cool off a bit, he still had a wonderful season. Overall, he hit .319/.391/.534 with 19 HRs, 42 RBI and 11 SBs in 104 games.

Of course, Puig didn’t quietly go about his business this season, and that appeared to rub a lot of baseball writers and sports radio hosts the wrong way. His perceived arrogance and lack of fundamentals led to a lot of media types going on about playing the game the ‘right way’ and that he needed to be taught a lesson. One has to wonder if the negative media coverage of Puig might have helped Fernandez win the award by as wide a margin he did. While, no doubt, Fernandez deserved to win the award, Puig’s offensive numbers were pretty darn good. It just seems to me that the vote should have been a little closer, if not a lot.

Tampa Bay’s Wil Myers Easily Wins AL Rookie of the Year

As expected, Tampa Bay outfielder Wil Myers took home the AL Rookie of the Year award on Monday. Myers, 22, received 23 out of 30 first-place votes and 131 points. The runner-up was shortstop Jose Iglesias, who split time with Boston and Detroit. Iglesias got 5 first-place votes and 80 total points. In third was Myers’s teammate, pitcher Chris Archer, who receive a first-place vote and 35 points.

Myers came up in the middle of the season for Tampa Bay and helped give their offense a much needed jolt. Playing in only 88 games, the former 3rd-round pick hit .293/.354/.478 with 23 doubles, 13 HRs and 53 RBI. The Rays picked up Myers last season in the trade that sent pitcher James Shields to Kansas City. Coming into this season, Baseball America rated him as the #4 prospect in all of baseball. In 2012 with Kansas City’s AA and AAA teams, he hit 37 HRs in 134 games to go with a batting line of .314/.387/.600. Prior to be called up this year, he was hitting .286/.356/.520 with 14 HRs in 64 games.

Iglesias, 23, had a couple of cups of coffee with the Red Sox in 2011 and 2012, as they had signed him after he defected from Cuba in 2009. He was used as both a third baseman and shortstop for Boston before being traded to Detroit in July, as part of a three-team deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. Detroit needed a shortstop as Jhonny Peralta needed to serve a 50-game suspension. Between the two teams, Iglesias hit .303/.349/.386 in 109 games while playing stellar defense.  He appears to be Detroit’s starting shortstop moving forward.

Archer, like Myers, did not start the season on the major-league roster. The 25-year-old right-hander began the season with AAA Durham and was brought up in June. Prior to the season, Baseball America rated him the #36 prospect in baseball. He pitched well once being called up and became a part of the starting rotation. In 23 starts, he went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.127 WHiP with 101 strikeouts in 128.2 innings. He also threw two complete games, both shutouts.

Tavon Austin’s Coming Out Party Leads Rams Over a Stunned Colts Team

When the St. Louis Rams traded up in the 2013 draft to pick Tavon Austin #8 overall, they envisioned that the speedy receiver would be a playmaking machine. Early on in this season, reviews had been mixed, as Austin hadn’t been able to break off any huge plays as either a receiver or a returner. That all changed on Sunday as Austin finally had his coming out party. The St. Louis Rams completely stunned the Indianapolis Colts in Indy by handing them a 38-8 thrashing.

Austin was the main reason for the butt-whipping. He only had two catches on the day, but totaled 138 yards and took both to the house for TDs. He also was dangerous on punt returns, as he had 145 yards on 4 returns, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown. Including his kick return and rushing yards, Austin totaled 314 all-purpose yards on Sunday, the 2nd highest total in Rams history. Seemingly, the Colts had no idea what to do when Austin touched the ball. By the early part of the 2nd half, the game was essentially over, as the Rams held a 35-0 lead.

This outcome was completely unforeseen. The Rams lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford to a torn ACL a couple of weeks ago and are relying on backup Kellen Clemens to lead them the rest of the way. St. Louis had lost three games in a row and looked for all the world to be a team just limping its way through a losing season. Meanwhile, the Colts were playing at home and came into the game with a 6-2 records. Even after this humiliating loss, they appear to be a playoff team, as they are still solidly in first place in the suddenly weak AFC South.

With this win, the Rams keep their faint playoff hopes alive, as their record improves to 4-6. Perhaps this game shows the way for them to succeed the rest of the year. Get efficient play from the quarterback but do not force him to throw a ton of passes. Force turnovers on the defensive end and create havoc for the opposing team’s quarterback with the superior defensive line. Try to get one or two big plays from Austin. Manage the clock with the running game via Zac Stacy.

The Rams have a bye next week, then host Chicago the following Sunday. The Bears suddenly appear vulnerable as quarterback Jay Cutler wasn’t able to complete the game this week due to ankle and groin issues. Josh McCown might be called upon to play down the stretch if Cutler is unable to get healthy. He already tried to rush back this week and apparently made things worse. If the Rams can beat the 5-4 Bears, they will suddenly find themselves in a good position to make a late-season surge.