1. Do you think the retirement of Kevin Garnett will affect the Wolves in 2017?
Kras: First of all, a tip of the cap to KG, one of the best to ever step on the hardwood. A defensive juggernaut himself, he could also make the players around him better. KG did it all from the post to the point. He made the T-wolves relevant and for that, Wolves Nation will be forever thankful. Most of this digression, however, is past tense. KG was nothing more than a voice from the sidelines as of late. The physical toll that KG has endured has proven to be too much. “Da Kid” is no longer ”The Big Ticket” and the motives that brought him back to Minnesota are no longer in place. The retirement of “The Franchise” is something that is overdue and I am happy that it happened with him as a member of the Wolves. With KG, the OG, stepping down, a new era begins. Fresh and ready to take on the loaded Western Conference, it’s The Year of the KAT!
Nate Leer: I do think KG was a positive influence on the young T-pups last year and could have held the same role this year. However, the right coaches should be able to accomplish as much as he did for most of the year last year – mentor young men, teach intricacies of defense and ball movement, etc. The Timberwolves roster is loaded with young players who have significant upside. Holding a roster spot for a player who seemed incapable of getting on the floor for even limited stretches just does not make sense for this team. I would hope KG could still be involved with the tea but whether or not that happens, this was the right move for all involved. Thanks for the memories, KG!
2. What did you take away from the Vikings win on Sunday against the Panthers?
Kras: The Vikings are now 3-0 in and atop the NFC North division. The Vikes are shaping up to be a favorite in the NFC as a whole. On Sunday, the Vikings beat the Panthers 22-10. Although Minnesota’s defense was a force again, TE Kyle Rudolph managed to find the end zone to keep the offense on track. I was one of the people that thought there was a slim chance the Vikings beat the Panthers and that was an oversight on my part. As long as the defense is healthy the Vikings will be in games. Zimmer has the boys ready to go, on all levels, every week. Vikings fans should take it in. This defense is something special right now. To force 3 INTs against the Panthers and sack Cam 8 times is a testament to how good this defense is.
Nate Leer: I think this win, even more than beating A-Rodge and the Pack in Minnesota, shows how good this D may be. I think most realistic fans and virtually all “experts” would have agreed with Kras that this was a very tough match-up for the Vikes. However, by the end of the first half, the Vikes seemed to be playing at a different level than the defending NFC champs. There is a lot of season left and the offense will have to play better but this D looks to be emerging as one of the strongest in the league this year, if not in recent memory. We all watched Denver dominate the league last year with its D and the Vikings could be poised to do something similar this year. Skol!
3. With the loss of their 100th game and the season nearing its end, is there any bright spot for the Twins heading into the offseason?
Kras: The only bright spot in the Twins future is that there will be new management in 2017. Even that is a scary thought though. Who knows what or who will bring a new presence to the front office and the team. We will have to wait and see what all transpires throughout the offseason but even if the Twins would have got “the best in the business”, which they didn’t, they are still 2 years or so away from competing and being relevant. A year ago at this time they were around .500, and there was hope. What a difference a year makes!
Nate Leer: Simple answer – no. There are no bright spots. The young, top-end prospects have been somewhere between complete failures and underachievers and Dozier’s home run binge is cool but means nothing in the big picture. The new head of operations should clean house of all veterans and try to bring back as many high-upside prospects as possible. Trying to re-tool this team would be foolhardy at best. Bite the bullet, move on from solid vets and replenish the farm system particularly with good arms. They new head of baseball operations watched what can happen if an organization completely rebuilds as Cleveland did. Maybe the Twins can replicate that but don’t expect it to happen very fast. Realistically the goal should be to be relevant when Slow Joe’s contract expires and use that financial flexibility to augment a young, hopefully talented team.
1. Goodbye to a legend and a phenom.
Kras: Jose Fernandez & Arnold Palmer – R.I.P. to 2 of the best at their craft. These 2 men represented what is great about sports. Palmer, a legend, Fernandez a bright young star that we all thought could be an all-timer. Both gone, but not forgotten. #SportsFamily
Nate Leer: Palmer is an absolute legend and a game-changer. He will be missed. However, the tragedy that befell Jose Fernandez’s family and the Marlins organization is truly devastating. His story of coming to America, establishing his family and becoming an elite athlete and competitor was something to marvel at. Now it is gone just that fast. Of course we cannot hope understand the grief his family is feeling but the wider impact on the Miami community is significant as well. For Cuban-Americans in the area, this was one of their own who made it and a great connection to the baseball team. The Marlins had thousands more fans at games Fernandez was pitching in, which is not unexpected for a star starting pitcher but was certainly bolstered by the Fernandez’s fellow Americans of Cuban descent who supported him. As a fan of the game and of Fernandez, I will miss his passion for the game and how he was seemingly a great teammate, traits that are often lacking for modern athletes. RIP Jose.
2. Who is off to a better start in their rookie year, Dak Prescott or Carson Wentz?
Kras. I think both of these guys are having the best start they could ask for. The Eagles are 3-0 while the Cowboys are 2-1. I think both teams are a bit of a surprise right now given what they have been like the past few seasons. Both Wentz and Prescott are off to incredible and record breaking starts. If I had to choose one of them right now, I would personally choose Wentz. Although I like Prescott more, Wentz is the guy. Philly has gone all in on Wentz to be the future and while that’s what Prescott is in Dallas as well, it might not be right now that they are ready for him. Remember, the Cowboys still have Romo who they expect to be back this year creating a situation to monitor.
Nate Leer: I think it is clear that Wentz is off to a better start. That said, Dallas is getting similar solid play from a 4th round pick as opposed to a player they had to trade away a bunch of assets to acquire, not that Philly was wrong. I liked Prescott coming out and feel teams erred in letting him fall out of the 2nd round, much less to the 4th. Both of these players handle themselves as professionals and put in the work to maximize their considerable skills. That is always great to watch!
3. Who are your top 5 teams through 3 weeks of the NFL season?
Kras: I am answering this questions strictly based on what I have seen from teams on the field this year. It is not based on point for or against, or what team has scored more or had more yards. This is simply based on my “eye test”. My top 5 teams will follow but I do welcome any and all feedback. Let me know who your top 5 teams are and let’s compare notes.
- New England Patriots – The Patriots can seemingly win with anyone at QB. They will get Tom Brady back after week 4.
- Denver Broncos – Their defense has picked up where they left off last year. They are looking good to make a push again this year.
- Minnesota Vikings – A surprise how good they have been defensively. Anytime they get a lead this year they will be tough to beat.
- Philadelphia Eagles – 3-0 with a rookie QB and sneaky good defense. Things are looking up for the Eagles.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Although they are coming off a loss to the Eagles they get Le’Veon Bell back in week 4. I think he helps right the ship.
From what I have seen, these are the top 5 teams so far:
- New England Patriots – See above.
- Denver Broncos – The D looks as good as last year and Trevor Siemian looks better than the guys they had at QB for their Super Bowl run.
- Minnesota Vikings – They have battled through a bunch of significant injuries but have managed to get to 3-0. They should only get better as replacement players settle into their roles.
- Baltimore Ravens – This is where I diverge from Kras as I see this veteran team as much more likely to sustain their winning ways than the young Eagles.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Yeah, they lost to Philly but there is enough offensive talent to win games as their D matures.