Morning Skate: Saturday, December 1


Morning Skate: Saturday, December 1

Ken Campbell with an interesting take on the recent Forbes report for team worth, and that its not doing the league any favors in their CBA dispute.

The 700 Level warmly thanks the NHL for the lockout that continues to rip at the heart of hockey fans everywhere. Warning: sarcasm meter needed.

Jeremy Roenick thinks that the lockout was necessary, but JR also thinks theres a deal on the table from the players that the owners should have taken a much greater interest in. Its a common sense approach that could do wonders for a CBA negotiation thats been lacking in them.

Former NHLPA President Trevor Linden compares the current NHL lockout to the work stoppage in 2004-05 that he played a key role in ending. Its fair to say that the two of them are under completely different circumstances, even if the outcome may be the same.

Friday was the anniversary of Joe Thornton getting traded to the San Jose Sharks a day that changed the Boston Bruins franchise for the better.

Interesting column from Roy MacGregor theorizing that the high cost of playing hockey is turning it into an elitist sport.

If theres a playerowner meeting as has been proposed by the NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Marty St. Louis says he wants in on the proceedings.

For something a little different: great video of a couple of Russian youth hockey teams completely gooning it up.

Felger: Broncos’ Elway and Kubiak the only NFL braintrust close to the Patriots


Felger: Broncos’ Elway and Kubiak the only NFL braintrust close to the Patriots

Before I make the following point, I'd like to make one thing clear to my sensitive readers: I do not believe the Denver Broncos are better than Patriots. I do not believe they have “passed'' the Pats. Please, Patriots fans, when New England goes into Denver and wins on Dec. 18 and/or the Pats beat them again in the playoffs, save your emails and calls. Don't get your panties in a bunch. You're still the best.

However, as we assess the pathetic state of brainpower across the NFL, the Broncos are one of only a few teams that deserve mention alongside the Pats. Perhaps they're the only one.  As their recent handling of their quarterback situation shows, especially from a coaching standpoint, Gary Kubiak and John Elway have proven they know what they're doing -- and how many teams in the league can you say that about?

In Denver, Brock Osweiler actually looked like a quarterback with a future. In Houston, he barely looks like he belongs in the league. That's about coaching, scheme and culture. It seems that somewhere between the silly letterman jackets in Houston and his second crack in Denver, Kubiak got a clue. Last year, he managed Osweiler to a 5-2 record before sitting him and somehow winning a Super Bowl behind the noodle-armed Peyton Manning. This year, he has another marginal talent, Trevor Siemian, off to a 5-1 start in his first season under center.

There are many NFL coaches who didn't hit their stride until their second job, and you have to wonder if Kubiak falls in this camp. I actually saw him put down his playsheet with his offense on the field the other night and thought, maybe he's starting to get it. He looked more like a head coach and just a little less like an offensive coordinator. 

Either way, Kubiak has displayed an excellent touch with a string of mediocre quarterbacks. And from the original decision to shut down Manning, to the insertion of Osweiler, to the reinstatement of Manning, and then the ultimate handing of the job to Siemian, he and Elway have pushed all the right buttons. If Paxton Lynch turns into a player down the road, look out.

Of course, Kubiak hasn't had much to do with his defense, which has been the domain of Elway, the architect, and to a lesser extent, Wade Phillips, the coordinator. Elway remains one of the few executives to build a championship team largely through free agency, and some of his moves have been so cold-hearted, so debated at the time, that only Bill Belichick could relate.

Who else fires a coach who led you to four division titles and a Super Bowl berth (John Fox), and then follows that up with a title? Who else lets go of BOTH quarterbacks who led you to a title and follows that up with a division lead?

It's moves like those that led ESPN to display a stat montage late in the game on Monday depicting Elway as ``the Don.'' (Wonder where they got that idea from?). Think about it.  Who else in the league -- what coach, executive or owner -- gets that kind of ``mastermind'' treatment? I don't think anyone else deserves it other than Belichick and, in second place, Elway. Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore would be a distant third; or perhaps Pete Carroll and John Schneider in Seattle deserve mention.

Regardless, as the ESPN graphic showed, the Broncos' record since Elway took over in 2011 is now 63-24, second in the league over that time only to the Pats (67-20). Denver is also one of just four teams to make the playoffs every year during his tenure (the Packers, Pats and Bengals are the others). Like the Pats and Seahawks, he's been to two Super Bowls and won one. And like the Pats, he has won his division five straight years.  

Perhaps that all comes to an end this year, and it sure looks like Denver will be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to earning home field over the Pats come December. But for now, in a league where there are no equals to Belichick, it's almost refreshing (to me, anyway) to consider someone who at least belongs in the conversation. 

Email Felger at Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN New England.

Rex Ryan ready to be done seeing Tom Brady: 'Maybe that dude will retire...'

Rex Ryan ready to be done seeing Tom Brady: 'Maybe that dude will retire...'

FOXBORO -- Rex Ryan says he was just kidding. He didn't really mean it when he said he had a "mole" at Gillette Stadium telling him which Patriots quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett, would play in Week 4. 

This week he doesn't need a network of spies to tell him who to prepare for. 

"My sources tell me Brady will be the quarterback," Ryan joked on a conference call Wednesday. 

Brady and Ryan have met 15 times dating back to the start of Ryan's head coaching career in 2009 with the Jets. Their matchups date back even further when factoring in Ryan's years as a defensive assistant and then defensive coordinator in Baltimore. 

But after three games this season, three games in which Brady has completed 75 percent of his passes for 1,004 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions, Ryan said it's hard to imagine a time when the Future Hall of Famer has looked more at ease. 

"Well, I mean, it’s almost like, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him better . . . I mean he he’s played in the league for 17 years, 18 years, something like that," Ryan said. "You know, obviously, he puts the work in and everything else and it’s just a real credit to him. 

"Like I keep thinking if I stay in this conference long enough, that maybe that dude will retire but I don’t see that happening anytime soon."

The respect is mutual. While Brady has the edge in the win-loss column, he clearly appreciates what Ryan's teams are able to do on the defensive side of the ball. 

They can be an annoyance in the way they deviate from what they've shown on film. 

"I think there’s an element of what you prepare for, you may not get many of those things," Brady said Wednesday. "We’ve played him sometimes when he’s been blitzing a lot, and he doesn’t blitz as much at all. Then he hasn’t been blitzing much at all and then he blitzes us at all. 

"I think you just have to be prepared for everything, which is a bit of a challenge because there’s only so much time in the week that you have to prepare. You’ve got to try to nail down what you think you’re going to get, then practice it and be able to adjust if need be when you get out there."

The philosophy behind Ryan's plan for Brady and the Patriots is a simple one, even if it results in complex pressures and coverage schemes. 

"He’s too good," Ryan said. "If he could just sit back and without challenging him, you know, it’s tough enough when you present something he hadn’t seen, but it’s damn near impossible when he hasn’t seen it."

Benefitting Brady in those types of what-the-hell-are-we-looking-at scenarios is that over the course of his 16 years as a starter, he's seen just about everything. And offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been by his side for just about all of it. Together they are often able to delve into their memory banks and pull out a game plan from their shared past, scrap the week of practice and preparation they'd just gone through, and roll with something different. 

If you're Ryan, you hope you can keep Brady guessing for 60 minutes. At the very least, you hope you can buy your team some time before he figures things out -- because odds are he will. 

"Same guy like he always is," Ryan said.