With the Tennessee Titans decision to go with young Jake Locker as their 2012 starting quarterback, their future has offically begun.
In short glimpses of action last year, Locker gave fans just enough of a taste to be optimistic for his long term potential. In relief appearances of injured Matt Hasslebeck, Locker came close to completing comebacks against the Falcons and Saints before falling just short. His stats in those games totaled 22-48 with 422 yards, 3 touchdowns, and very importantly, zero interceptions.
Andrew Bynum came to the Los Angeles Lakers as a 17-year-old kid. Over the course of his career, through his many peaks and valleys, he left last night as a man.
Dwight Howard being traded to the Lakers last night was cause for celebration for many fans, who have waited two years for this trade to go through. The trouble with these types of blockbuster deals though, is the requirement of equal value being sent away. And from the bottom of my heart, I really do believe that Bynum and Howard are equals on the playing floor. Dwight may be the imposing behemoth that all teams covet on the defensive end, but few things were as automatic last year as Bynum cornering the post and finishing over a completely outmatched defender. For all of Bynum's offensive prowess, his length gave many teams problems when driving to the basket against him. As ESPN writer J.A. Adande has tweeted for some time now, the stat of S.O.B.O.A., or Shots Over Bynum's Outstretched Arms, was a great indicator of whether the Lakers won or lost last night.
As Michael Lewis' "The Blind Side" clearly explained, the left tackle position has now become the second most important position on the field and his thesis is no more evident than with what the 2012 Denver Broncos are facing.
Peyton Manning never missed a start before the 2011 season. His only documented missed snaps resulting from an injury are the ones following a busted open lip against the Miami Dolphins in the early 2000's. Manning personified the iron man mentality that we all want from our quarterbacks. Unlike Favre with all of his consecutive starts, Manning was never even on the Colts' weekly injury reports.
That all changed last off-season. Following a series of neck surgeries, Manning sat out all of last season and watched his Colts miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. There is no defined time for when his injury occurred. Rumors swirled about when the first sign of his neck injury may have happened throughout the 2010 season. All of a sudden though, the consistent sight of No. 18 leading the Colts to yet another playoff appearance was gone and in his place were quarterbacks hanging on to the fringes of a career.
Russell Westbrook played the best game of his still young NBA career last night, and it still wasn't enough to lead the Thunder to a Game Four victory against Miami in the NBA Finals
The 43-point performance was among the best individual Finals scoring effort in recent years considering the stakes of the game and quality of competition he was up against.
An issue that has dogged Westbrook all season, though, is that despite his consistent statistics and being a key part of his team's success, he remains a lightning rod for criticism due to his playmaking skills. Whether it's him taking shots away from Kevin Durant or making reckless decisions, he's been on everyone's short list for people taking potshots to take at.
In this season's playoffs, he's taken a step up and has seemingly used the negativity going toward him as fuel to make his play better. Westbrook has done this in a way very similar to how Allen Iverson use to lead the Philadelphia 76ers.