BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
on WHAM 1180
Email Bob here.
For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
BILLS SHOULDN’T GAMBLE ON SUSPECT QB CLASS IN THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS
SPECIAL TEAMS SUPER SHARP FOR THE AMERKS
KNIGHTHAWKS COULD REGRET TRADING CASEY POWELL
Cheers to the Buffalo Bills management for releasing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick this week. The Bills and Fitz both figure to benefit by cutting the cord and starting fresh.
I wish Fitz all the best. I hope he signs with a team that plans to make him the starting QB. And I hope even more that Buffalo gets to play that team often.
It couldn’t have been easy for Buffalo GM Buddy Nix to admit that giving the journeyman QB a lucrative contract extension (six years for $59 million, including a $10 million signing bonus) when the team got off to a sparking 5-2 start in 2011 was a huge mistake.
Nix and since-departed head coach Chan Gailey were so determined to find the team’s first “franchise quarterback” since Jim Kelly that they tried to pretend and dreamed that Fitz could fill the bill. Since the team’s hot start two seasons ago, he was sometimes OK, usually mediocre and too often lousy.
In fairness, he didn’t benefit from particularly sharp coaching or exceptional receivers
Fitzpatrick had some qualities to become a franchise QB. Unfortunately, arm strength and accuracy were not among them.
In the modern NFL, the most important element for success on the field is throwing the football. Entering Friday, has a demoralizing depth chart at the quarterback and wide receiver positions:
Quarterback – Tarvaris Jackson, Aaron Corp
Wide receiver – Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Ruvell Martin, Brad Smith, Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan.
Nix’s greatest failure has been not providing the team with a quarterback capable of leading an average-at-best team to a playoff berth.
He has all but promised a long-suffering and frustrated fan base that he will deliver such a quarterback in this April’s college draft. That scares me.
Everyone agrees that quarterback is one of the weakest positions in this draft. Maybe THE weakest position.
Will Nix pick and pray on a quarterback with the No. 8 overall pick?
I hope not.
By default, Geno Smith is rated the best QB in the draft. Many media observers believe releasing Fitzpatrick was a prelude to Buffalo drafting Smith in the first round – if another team doesn’t take him before the No. 8 pick (a distinct possibility that would spare the Bills the temptation).
Would taking Smith No. 8 be a stretch and a reach or a reasonable gamble? That’s the big question.
Smith looked like the runaway Heisman Trophy winner early last October, when West Virginia was 5-0 and his stats were almost beyond belief. But the Mountaineers went 2-6 the rest of the season and he was nowhere to found in Heisman balloting. And remember, he had a great 1-2 punch at wide receiver (Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey) to work with and help boost his stats.
Nix was at West Virginia Thursday for the school’s Pro Day. By all accounts, Smith was impressive. He reportedly completed 60 of 64 passes. He was throwing to wide open receivers (including Austin) and there was no rush and no defensive backs.
Under the circumstances, I believe the Bills should use the No. 8 pick on a linebacker and their second-round pick on a wide receiver. I’d select at least one – and possibly two – QBs in the rest of the draft and hope to get lucky.
I’d make the rookie QB the backup to Jackson (or another respectable veteran) for the entire 2013 season. The Bills figure to miss the playoffs for a 14th consecutive year and they could be in the running (backwards) for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Johnny Manziel?
Buffalo could use that prime pick next year to select a better QB prospect than Smith or anyone else in this year’s draft or trade it for a promising young QB on another team.
The Bills struck out badly on Fitzpatrick. Here’s hoping they don’t repeat that mistake by reaching and selecting an overrated a QB too high on April 25.
AMERKS SPECIAL TEAMS ARE BY FAR THE BEST IN THE AHL
The Rochester Americans are 6-0-1 in their last 7 games, earning 13 of 14 possible points in the standings. Their .586 point percentage (68 of 116 possible points in the standings) ranks 10th in the 30-team AHL. Their +25 goal differential (189-164) ranks 7th in the league. They’re a respectable 13-11-3 on the road.
Those are all positive numbers in Rochester’s quest for a playoff berth and perhaps even the city’s first Calder Cup since 1996.
Another plus for Rochester’s Cup hopes is the distinct possibility of the Amerks becoming one of the relatively few AHL playoff teams that figure to get quality reinforcement if their NHL affiliates fail to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The most impressive numbers of all for the Amerks could be their performance on special teams. Entering this weekend, Rochester ranks 2nd in the AHL on both the power play (21/7 percent; 66x258) and penalty killing. It is rare for a team to rank so high in both categories.
The Amerks have a +34 goal differential in uneven manpower situations this season (including 8 shorthanded goals for and 8 shorthanded goals against. At even strength, Rochester has a minus-9 goal differential.
Here are the special-teams numbers (rank on power play—rank in penalty killing – total ranking, the lower the better):
1-Rochester – 2nd-2nd (4)
2-Charlotte – 5th-1st (6)
3-Springfield – 7th-6th (13)
4-Rockford – 1st-17th (18)
5-Providence – 9th-11th (20)
t6-Syracuse – 8th-15th (23)
t6-Toronto – 14th-9th (23)
t8-Adirondack – 19th-7th (26)
t8-Texas – 4th-22nd (26)
10-Abbotsford – 22nd-5th (27)
t11-Hershey – 16th-12th (28)
t11-Portland – 18th-10th (28)
t11-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – 25th-3rd (28)
14-Binghamton – 26th-4th (30)
t15-Grand Rapids – 6th-25th (31)
t15-Norfolk – 23rd-8th (31)
17-Lake Erie – 11th-21st (32)
t18-Oklahoma City – 3rd-30th (33)
t18Worcester – 17th-16th (33)
20-Manchester – 21st-14th (35)
t21-Chicago – 12th-24th (36)
t21Houston – 13th-23rd (36)
23-Bridgeport – 10th-27th (37)
t24-Connecticut – 15th-28th (41)
t24Peoria – 28th-13th (41)
26-San Antonio – 24th-19th (43)
27-Albany – 27th-20th (47)
28-Hamilton – 30th-18th (48)
29-St. John’s – 20th-29th (49)
30-Milwaukee – 29th-28th (57).
Good coaching, skill, discipline and hard work make for exceptional performance on special teams. No team is the AHL is doing it nearly as well as the Amerks.
I don’t understand why the Rochester Knighthawks traded former Syracuse superstar and former National Lacrosse League MVP Casey Powell this week – just before the NLL trade deadline. His skill, savvy and leadership figure to be missed in the postseason. Worst-case scenario: Powell helps the Colorado Rockies beat out Rochester for a playoff berth.
UFC 158 Saturday night in Montreal will showcase some of the organization’s top welterweights. Here are the Bovada odds on the top fights: Jake Ellenberger (bet $170 to win $100) vs. Nate Marquardt (bet $100 to win $140…Carlos Condit (bet $100 to win $115) vs. Johny Hendricks (bet $145 to win $100)…Georges St. Pierre (bet $500 to win $100) vs. Nick Diaz (bet $100 to win $350) in St. Pierre’s eighth title defense.
I thought it was pretty neat that both starting pitchers in Thursday night’s Team USA vs. Dominican Republic showdown in the World Baseball Classic were former Rochester Red Wings – R.A. Dickey (2009) and Sam Deduno (2012).
Manny Ramirez will make $25,000 per month for as long as he stays with the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan’s professional baseball league. Ramirez, 40, is eligible to play in Major League Baseball because he sat out all of last season. I don’t expect him to get the chance but give him credit for hanging in there.
The NFL doesn’t make many mistakes, but introducing the “Tuck Rule” – and keeping it for so long – was one of them.
The All-NBA Teams are required to consist of two forwards, two guards and one center. I think it is time to make it the five best players period. By default, this season’s All-NBA First Team center will be Dwight Howard. He hasn’t had a great season. At least eight guards (Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden) are enjoying better seasons than Howard and at least three of them are more deserving of All-NBA First Team status than he is.