In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Matthew Ajaj, asks our panel of experts three questions: Who is the biggest suprise in the NFL this year, can Derrick Rose return to his former status and who is the favorite to win the World Series this year?
1. Which NFL team has been the biggest surprise to you so far this season?
Connor: A number of last year’s playoff teams have begun the season off on the wrong foot, but the Indianapolis Colts have to be the most surprising of the bunch. The Colts were certainly one of the best teams in 2014, but Andrew Luck’s fourth season of the year has been shockingly pedestrian — Luck’s Quarterback Rating (QBR) is at the lowest it’s ever been, 65.1. Luck leads the league in interceptions at seven, and the team has struggled to score any points outside of the fourth quarter. Luck’s QBR in the fourth quarter does skyrocket to 108.9, where he’s thrown four of his five touchdowns, but it does not excuse his sloppy play making in the other three quarters. The Colts would be 0-3 had Luck not dialed it in against the lowly Titans, scoring 21 points in the final quarter of play, but Luck cannot rely on such inconsistency heading forward. The team has a ton of opportunities to turn things around as they still lead the division at 1-2, but a weak division does not excuse the sloppy football being played in Indianapolis this year.
Mackenzie: The Giants have been the biggest surprise this season and not in a good way. The team has had year after year of rough starts, but I really did believe that this season would go differently. Eli Manning has never been my favorite player, but I could at least respect the numbers he would put up. Maybe it’s the American Dream Construction getting to his head next to the stadium, but he can’t seem figure out what game he’s playing. He’s had one too many mistakes for my liking as a veteran, and that has been the biggest surprise.
Kevin: I would say the biggest surprise in the NFL this season has been the disappointing Philadelphia Eagles. After an offseason roster shakeup by head coach and general manager Chip Kelly, many people in the NFL community, including one writer for CSN Philly, said the Eagles were going to dominate the NFC East and be a Super Bowl contender. So far, Chip’s major roster moves have not panned out. Demarco Murray, their new running back, has struggled to break double digits in yards in a few games already this season. Big money corner Byron Maxwell has looked like Bradley Fletcher at times, getting flat out torched by Julio Jones and Matt Ryan in Week One and even got burned for a touchdown by Terrance Williams and “elite quarterback” Brandon Weeden in Week Two. The offensive line has been atrocious after getting rid of Evan Mathis and Todd Herremanns. The biggest disappointment for Philly has to be new quarterback Sam Bradford. The people of Philadelphia wanted the pope to bless his knees, but they should’ve asked them to bless his right arm instead, because he hasn’t been as advertised.
Connor and Kevin each get 3 points for criticism of the underwhelming Colts and Eagles. Mackenzie gets 2 points for noting Eli’s mistakes.
2. Tacking on injury after injury, will Derrick Rose ever be able to return to his old superstar form?
Connor: Derrick Rose’s story has come to be one of the most disappointing tales in sports history. Rose’s 2010-’11 MVP campaign is fading away in the rear-view mirror, and a laundry list of injuries has replaced a number of accomplishments Rose could have achieved had he not missed time throughout the last four years. Healthy knees are core to playing the game of basketball, and Rose has shown that his are prone to injury. The man has torn his right meniscus twice, his ACL once and now adds a left orbital fracture to his ongoing list of injuries that would give Amar’e Stoudemire nightmares. Although Rose is hopeful to return for the Bulls’ opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he hasn’t shown any ability to stay healthy for more than a season since 2010. Rose has all the tools to regain his throne as one of basketball’s best, but his history would leave me to believe there’s no happy ending for Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
Mackenzie: Having just turned 27 and being in recovery from another surgery, it doesn’t seem as though Rose can really bounce back into being the superstar athlete he was pre-first injury. Like any athlete getting older there starts to be bumps in the road — ask Eli Manning. But that’s not to say an older player can’t outdo their younger self. Michael Jordan proved that, although not in baseball. If Rose sticks to the court and has the passion and dedication that Jordan did when he said, “I’m back,” than he should be able to take his place among the greats. Rose has always been a hard worker, deserving his MVP and Rookie of the Year trophies, so it would not be shocking if he hit the ground running post-injury.
Kevin: I don’t think Derrick Rose will ever return to his superstar form. The way he plays requires maximum explosiveness and his knees will simply not allow him to play how he wants to. His jump shot has always been mediocre at best and he’s never been a big assist guy in terms of point guards. I think Rose can be a decent player for the rest of his career. He might even make an all star game or two but he I don’t ever see him being a superstar or an elite point guard ever again.
Connor gets 3 points for telling it how it is. Kevin gets 2 points for mentioning Rose’s faults and Mackenzie gets 1 point for having hope.
3. MLB playoffs are here! Who’s your World Series pick?
Connor: The Blue Jays came into the trade deadline an underdog to even make the playoffs, but the acquisitions of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki have added much-needed depth to propel the Jays to the top. Josh Donaldson has been phenomenal this season, and Jose Bautista continues to rake. The Blue Jays also have seen a resurgence in former Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. Dickey holds an 8-1 record with a 2.80 ERA in the second half of the season. With two former Cy Youngs and a strong supporting cast of starting pitchers, the Blue Jays finally have the pitching to match their offense that has been more explosive than ever. As the Yankees and Cardinals will tell you, big hits reign supreme in October, and the Blue Jays own three of the top five home run hitters who are going to the playoffs. The team leads the League in runs scored, home runs, OBP and SLG. These statistics say a lot about the roster the Blue Jays will field come this October — with so many quality ballplayers on one team, the Blue Jays are my favorite to win it all.
Mackenzie: My World Series pick is of course the New York Yankees. It’s a long shot, I know, but I have to believe in my boys. Alex Rodriguez has something to prove and Chase Headley has taken on a role of seeming leadership that has been lacking without Jeter. It is the first season without the captain and the Yankees want to prove they are more than just one player. I think that attitude will help them get their faulty act together and take them through October.
Kevin: I think the Blue Jays will win the World Series. They have the best offense in baseball, led by Josh Donaldson and Joey Bats and they just got Troy Tulowitzki back. The whole season, the biggest question mark for the Jays has been their pitching, but after acquiring David Price at the trade deadline, their pitching staff has been solid. Lastly, the Blue Jays, thanks to popular Toronto politician Norm, have been blessed by Lil’ B the Based God. Following an NBA season where the Based God seemed to curse every team but the Warriors, the Based God curse and endorsement is very real.
Connor gets 3 points for laying down some great stats. Kevin gets 2 points for mentioning Based God and Mackenzie gets 1 point for having hope (again).
Connor wins Around the Dorm 9-7-4