Kings' Evans, not Curry for rookie honors

Kings' Evans, not Curry for rookie honors

I dont like to be the one who brings bad news to Warriors fans. But there's something that needs to be addressed before it goes any further.You're hearing it more and more these days, whether it's on Warriors broadcasts or here and there on the radio. And you're seeing it, too, every once in a while on the Internet and in newspapers.There seems to be some buzz -- in the Bay Area anyway -- that Warriors guard Stephen Curry is putting some pressure on Sacramento's Tyreke Evans for the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award.Sorry. Not a chance. How do I know? Because I've been hearing the Curry talk, too, and decided to solicit some information from the people who really matter when it comes to this issue: the media.Writers make the call on the Rookie of the Year award. And they're the ones saying Evans is a lock. In fact, the real competition seems to be for second place, between Curry and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings.Here's a sampling of what various writers from around the country said when I asked them if Curry was making any headway on Evans.Central Division beat writer: "Curry is a distant third behind Evans and Jennings. The other two guys have better numbers, except Jennings' shooting percentage, and the Warriors have a worse record than the Kings and Bucks."National Internet writer: "Curry has too much ground to make up - better chance of Jennings catching Evans because of Bucks success." writer: "Curry has been nothing short of brilliant now that we've gotten the full scope of what he can do. But Evans has been leading the pack for so long it would take a solid month-and-a-half of lights-out performance from Curry and a major meltdown from Evans for me to consider moving Curry ahead of Evans."Southeast Division beat writer: "No doubt Curry deserves serious consideration. I think Evans is still the front-runner, but it's a closer race than ever between him, Curry and Jennings.One wild card: If Bucks make the playoffs, does that become the tie-breaker for Jennings in a close race?National Internet writer: "Evans has the award locked up. With Curry's recent outburst, you could definitely make the case he's surpassed Jennings for the No. 2 spot. I just don't see any way he beats out Evans, who's basically averaging 20-5-5."If he can finish there, he'll do something that only three rookies have done in the history of the league: Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, LeBron James."Northwest Division beat writer: "Evans is the runaway winner. I'd put Curry second over Jennings, who has faded after his initial burst."National Internet writer: "The trophy already has Evans' name on it. That's a no-brainer. I do see Curry having a good chance overtaking Jennings for second."Central Division beat writer: "I think Evans is clearly in the league, but Curry might have moved into second place. Jennings has dropped off a bit in my eyes after the fabulous start. Curry is definitely making a strong push at the right time, but will have a hard time catching Evans." writer: "Right now I'd put Curry third but moving up with a quarter of the season to go. Not fully decided yet."

What's your take? Email Matt and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Raiders OC Todd Downing excited about finding new weapons


Raiders OC Todd Downing excited about finding new weapons

STANFORD – Todd Downing has long been responsible for intently analyzing college quarterbacks entering the NFL draft. He certainly did so during two seasons as Raiders quarterbacks coach, adding input to personnel department evaluations on young signal callers.

This offseason, he’s using a wide-angle lens. Downing is the Raiders offensive coordinator now, promoted to the position after Bill Musgrave was allowed to leave on an expired contract.

Coaches enter draft evaluation process relatively late in the process – they have a season to coach, after all – but Downing prides himself on working hard in evaluating talent. Working with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s staff, coaches feel like their voice is being heard.

That’s important to a coordinator especially, who must make a scheme work with talent around him.

“Reggie and his staff have always done a tremendous job of listening to our vision for the offense or the defense,” Downing said Thursday at Stanford’s pro day. “It’s been a joy to work with those guys over the past three years.

“(Head coach Jack Del Rio) really expects us to be accountable for our position group. Now that I’m the coordinator, there’s more of a broad scope when looking at offensive talent in the draft. When you work that hard (evaluating players), I think the scouts know that your opinion is well grounded, and that validates it a little bit.”

Downing is always on the lookout for weapons, especially while making tweaks to the Raiders offense. The Silver and Black found a few, adding tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive lineman Marshal Newhouse and quarterback EJ Manuel.

Quarterback Derek Carr helped him get some. The full-time East Bay resident has been active recruiting free agents, trying to improve an already strong Raiders offense.

“You guys know how passionate he is about this game, and about this team and backing up this franchise,” Downing said. “(His involvement in recruiting) didn’t surprise any of us. He’s pretty hands on when it comes to football. He lives in the area, so he hopped in when we needed it and it paid off.”

Cook and Patterson especially could add dimensions to a well-rounded Raiders attack. Cook has made some big plays in the past, and should be a reliable receiving tight end the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons.

“He has a skill set that will be fun to play with (schematically),” Downing said. “We’re excited to see what he can do, and I know Derek is excited to add him. He has a history of making plays in this league, and that’s something we’re excited to have.”

Patterson’s primarily known as a kick returner – he’s a two-time All Pro on special teams – but the Raiders hope he’ll be active on offense.

“With guys like that, you just find a way to get them the rock and let them do the rest of the work,” Downing said. “They make me look good. I can call a simple play and he takes it the distance and it looks like I designed something special.”

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."