The holidays bring on many traditions.
You know, things like eating stuffing until you nearly explode.
Still finding room for a piece of pumpkin pie.
Taking an afternoon nap after stuffing your face.
Watching a lousy Lions team play football. Wait, what? They aren’t lousy this year?
Watching the Macy’s parade and critiquing the lip sync-ers.
Putting up the Christmas tree. Well, truth be told it’s been up for weeks.
Then there are the newer traditions. I started a tradition four years ago right here in this very space. It is time to continue that tradition right now.
It is time for the annual Two Cent Turkeys from around the sports world.
🦃 Ron Hextall 🦃
Hextall tried to single-handedly bury the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens missed the playoffs on the last day of the season, and Hextall was summarily excused of his duties as Pens GM. I still have a theory that Hextall was a Flyers plant. Why would you hire a Flyer to try and win you a Stanley Cup? Gobble, gobble Ronny.
🦃 Fenway Sports Group 🦃
Though they did fire Hextall, the FSG also fired announcers Steve Mears and Bob Errey. This forces us to now listen to Josh Getzoff and Colby Armstrong most nights. This was certainly not an even up trade. Armstrong stinks, and Getzoff is a small step backwards as well. Gobble, gobble FSG.
🦃 Tom Wilson 🦃
This is one of my annual turkeys. It’s just too easy. There is no place for goons in the NHL in 2023. Wilson is a turkey who should have his head cut off. Gobble, gobble Tom.
🦃 James Harden 🦃
This one is just too easy. This guy goes from the basketball court, where he’s never seen a playoff game he can’t choke on like a turkey bone, to the strip club, where he hasn’t seen a G-string he can’t fill like a turkey. He is the worst in a league that is hard to be worst in. Gobble, gobble James.
🦃 Draymond Green 🦃
Case in point. Harden is one type of turkey, while Green is the bully turkey. When you get right down to it, Green no longer offers a lot of basketball skill to his team. He is supposed to be the glue guy, I guess. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Green comes unglued far, far too often. I would love to see the NHL tell Tom Wilson to take a hike, and I would love to see the NBA tell Green the same. Gobble, gobble Dray Dray.
🦃 Ja Morant 🦃
Remember him? This guy is a classic turkey. Currently suspended from the NBA for 25 games, Morant can’t stop being the wannabe tough guy that makes videos with guns and beats up teenagers. His play on the court turns heads, while his play off the court makes those same heads shake in disbelief. Gobble, gobble gangsta.
🦃 Bob Nutting 🦃
Until further notice, this section will always be headed up by the ultimate turkey in my sports life. Bob Nutting turns my stomach. He has zero intentions of caring if there is a winning product on the PNC Park diamond. This offseason will be his best chance to get off this list, or at least move further down the list. The Pirates have some young pieces in place with more on the way. It is time to supplement those pieces with some, you know, actual decent major league players. Whether through free agency or trade, an effort should be made. Don’t hold your breath Pirates fans. The only thing on the plate again this year is liable to be a heaping helping of cheap turkey. Gobble, gobble you cheap *&$@#%.
🦃 Analytics 🦃
So the game itself improved with the rule changes. The pitch clock was a blessing for all fans sick of spending 4 hours watching a nine inning game. But the analytics that tell managers to not develop actual starting pitchers is for the birds. Watching a “bullpen game” in the World Series was ghastly. That isn’t baseball. And no matter how many times you analytics nerds yell at me, I am still going to value RBI. Gobble, gobble analytics.
🦃 Owners 🦃
Refusing to accept a salary cap and floor, the owners continue to make the game of baseball completely imbalanced in favor of the big market teams. Small market owners continue to go along with the current system so they are as much to blame as the others. Sure Tampa wins. Others have made mini runs from time to time. But it is still unfair. Small market teams have to hit o n all of their moves. Make a mistake, and you suddenly find yourself in a hole. I’m not holding my breath that I will ever see a change. Gobble, gobble big spenders.
🦃 LIV and Greg Norman 🦃
Maybe the most unlikable guy in sports, Greg Norman just won’t shut up. LIV golf is nothing more than a side show. I like some of the players on their tour, but the three round, music blaring pseudo tea m concept just isn’t it. And it never will be, no matter how many other golfers defect to their side. If Norman is the face of your company, you stand little chance of success. Gobble, gobble Greggy boy.
🦃 NBC Golf 🦃
Almost as if they knew I was putting them on my Turkey list, NBC canned Paul Azinger yesterday. Azinger was just plain awful at his job. I will be interested to see if other changes are coming, because there are more issues than Azinger. NBC is so far behind CBS when it comes to covering the sport of golf. Gobble, gobble NBC.
🦃 Big Ten 🦃
The Big Ten hasn’t won a championship since 2000. Heck, they don’t usually stick around in the tournament until the second week. This year there are two solid teams in Purdue and Michigan State, followed by a bunch of very mediocre teams. Aside from those top two teams, nobody in this league looks good enough to contend for much of anything. Maybe the NIT can become the Big Ten Invitational. Gobble, gobble Big Ten hoopsters.
🦃 James Franklin 🦃
Big Game James seems like a helluva nice guy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make you exempt for my Turkey list. Franklin absolutely refuses to win big games. He does win all of the games against putrid competition, but when Michigan and Ohio State come knocking and his teams wilt. This year he has his most talented roster, with first round draft picks all over the place. He has a five star quarterback. Still, no big wins. An ultra conservative game plan and a kid who looks in over his head and you get a low output offense. Franklin talks the talk, but never walks the walk. The fans are restless. The media is restless. Turkey might be the nicest thing anyone has called him this past week. Gobble, gobble Big Game.
🦃 Lincoln Riley 🦃
How much time do you have? I could go on for hours about the fraud that is Lincoln Riley. It turns out Oklahoma fans weren’t bitter, they were right. By retaining Alex Grinch after last season, Riley proved he doesn’t really want to build a championship team. He thinks he can outsmart everyone and his genius offense will always bail him out. Wrong. Riley managed to essentially waste two years of a generational quarterback in Caleb Williams. As a matter of fact, without Williams USC would have been a sub .500 team. Hen had a lot to clean up after another turkey — Clay Helton— tried to ruin the entire history of the team. He has a lot to change before USC fans should get excited. I’m not sure he is capable. I’d love to see him either get fired or go to the NFL. He is a quarterback coach disguised as a head coach. Gobble, gobble Lincoln, and thanks for ruining my autumn.
🦃 Jim Harbaugh 🦃
I gave Michigan the benefit of the doubt. I even called the cheating scandal a witch hunt. I should have known better. If you think Harbaugh wasn’t the mastermind of this elaborate ruse then I’ve got some Appalachian beach front property to sell you. This scheme has Harbaugh written all over it. Three staff members have been relieved of their duties since the start of summer camp. Harbaugh has sat out more games than he has coached. He continues to play the victim card and has his team playing the victim card. Does anyone outside of Ann Arbor want to see this team in the playoffs again? Yo Jimmy, gobble, gobble, even though we know you are more of a cluck, cluck kinda guy.
🦃 Pat Narduzzi 🦃
Oh, Pat. You’ve rolled assistant coaches under the bus. You’ve rolled players under the bus. You are a lousy bus driver and an even worse football coach. On quarterback number three this year, the Panthers won a big game this week meaning they won’t lose ten games. Talk about a program heading in the wrong direction with a coach who apparently has never done anything wrong. Maybe Pat figures if he loses enough that James Franklin will put him back on the schedule. Gobble, gobble Nards.
🦃 Scheduling 🦃
Athletic directors and head coaches are so desperate for wins that many are clearly scheduling down. James Franklin admitted he would continue to do so because going undefeated is the goal. A rich statement coming from a guy who can’t sniff undefeated. I hate losing regionalization with the expanded conferences, but at least we will see more good games. Kudos to the teams willing to play big out of conference games. Gobble, gobble to the rest of you cowards.
🦃 Steelers offense 🦃
Is it Matt Canada or Kenny Pickett? More on that in the Final Thought section. Whatever the case, this offense is putrid and preventing the Steelers from being more successful. The passing game is a crime against humanity. Gobble, gobble Mikey T.
🦃 Sean McDermott 🦃
The Bills have literally ridden Josh Allen for the last three years. He is expected to throw it, run it, do everything. McDermott has made few adjustments to improve the running game. After an embarrassing loss to Denver, McDermott fired his offensive coordinator. Scapegoat much, Sean? McDermott could be on his last leg in Buffalo. Too much talent for these results. Gobble, gobble Sean.
🦃 DeShaun Watson 🦃
DeShaun signs a gigantic contract with Cleveland, who already had to give up a bunch of draft picks. Then he massaged his way into a suspension last season and has been hurt most of this season. Stealing money in the NFL is a victimless crime, right? Gobble, gobble DeShaun. Oh, and let me throw a gobble, gobble to you Cleveland, for being dumb enough to sign this turkey.
🦃 NFC South 🦃
I know someone has to win this division full of gobblers, but why? One awful team and three bad teams make up this division. Not a decent quarterback can be found. .500 may be good enough. Yuck. Gobble, gobble NFC South.
🦃 Mediocrity 🦃
The NFL product is not very good right now. Mediocrity is not parity. On a weekly basis you look at the list of games and think, “what a bunch of clunkers”. Quarterback play is horrific in most cases, and the rules don’t allow much hitting to take place. Soon we will have really bad flag football games passing as the NFL. Gobble, gobble to the notion of mediocrity being parity.
Well, that’s my list of Two Cent Turkeys. Sure, I could have expanded my list. Let’s face it, the sports world is full of turkeys. But why be ultra negative at Thanksgiving.
Eat that turkey. Eat that stuffing. And find room for the pumpkin pie.
Meanwhile, let this list be food for thought. Too much turkey puts you to sleep. Too many Two Cent Turkeys may put your team to sleep.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, even to you turkeys out there.
Two Cent Takes
~This guy was the second pick in the NFL draft.
That guy got benched for Timmy Boyle.
~Dorian Thompson-Robinson started his first game Sunday. The rookie 5th round choice outplayed Kenny Pickett, becoming the latest nobody quarterback to accomplish that feat.
~The Chargers lost another close game to an inferior team. In other news Brandon Staley has still not been fired. Also in other news, Justin Herbert continues to waste his career away. At least he is well compensated.
~Denver was 1-5. Denver is now 5-5. The Broncos have gotten marginally better, but it is probably more of a sign that other teams continue to be subpar.
~Josh Dobbs is amazing. Though the Vikings blew the game Sunday night in Denver, Dobbs played well enough to win. This is a guy that has been a backup or third string quarterback his entire career. I wonder if the Steelers wish he was still in black and gold right about now?
~Detroit will go in to their annual Thanksgiving Day game at 8-2, their best record at this point since the 1950’s. They found a way to win Sunday even though Jared Goff played like old school Jared Goff.
~I was fully prepared to put Kenny Payne on my Two Cent Turkey list. Then Payne had Louisville nearly beat Texas in Madison Square Garden Sunday. If not for a fall away knuckleball from Max Abmas of Texas going in at the buzzer, Louisville would have had a big win under their belts. Still, this looked like a completely different team. Hustling, playing defense, and running an actual offense. Now we see if that was a one game thing or a new direction for the Cards.
~College basketball continues to provide us with tons of compelling games.
~Maryland is off to a troubling start. They have scored 68, 63, 61, and 40 points en route to a 1-3 start. It could be an uphill climb for Kevin Willard and the Terps.
~Hunter Dickinson probably doesn’t know what to do with a coach —Bill Self— and team —Kansas— that knows how to play inside out. It is going to allow Dickinson to flourish. Dickinson had 28 points and 21 rebounds against Kentucky last week. Not too shabby.
~Lincoln Riley is officially on the hot seat. You may get a bit of grace for having a less than stellar second season, but not when you get embarrassed by your two rivals. Notre Dame did it earlier this year, and UCLA managed the feat on Saturday. The Trojans looked flat and lackluster all day. A reflection of a coach that didn’t have his team ready to play. This also won't help his cause.
This image is eerily similar to the recent days under Clay Helton.— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) November 18, 2023
With more than 9 minutes to play and USC trailing UCLA 38-13, fans are filing out of the Coliseum. pic.twitter.com/uvDk9Krj7r
here is what I really think of the USC/Riley situation.
This is why these coaches’ contracts are out of hand. Riley ain’t it. Simple as that. He’s a QB coach disguised as a head coach. He has soft teams who will never compete for championships. And #USC is stuck with him because of the contract money.— Tim Clark (@TrojanTim66) November 18, 2023
~Chip Kelly isn’t going anywhere according to his AD. Beating USC certainly helps his cause. I still wouldn't be totally shocked if UCLA made a move.
~Another year. Another underwhelming performance from North Carolina.
~Florida State scheduled North Alabama for their next to last game of the season. Jordan Travis broke his leg in a game he didn’t even need to play. Now the committee will have to figure out what to do with the Seminoles. It seems simple to me. If the Noles beat Florida and Louisville —still very possible— then they go to the playoffs. No way you can keep an undefeated power five team out.
~Penn State managed to underwhelm offensively as usual. Once again, the opponent’s offense was so God awful it didn’t matter. Drew Allar got hurt, and backup Beau Pribula played. He apparently is not permitted to pass the football.
~Two Cent Top Ten:
- Georgia- My eyes tell me they are the best team, and it isn’t close.
- Washington- What a big win in Corvallis. Washington easily has the best resume.
- Ohio State- It was only Minnesota, but everyone looks healthy now.
- Michigan- Shaky without Harbaugh. Not sure if they can throw it enough.
- Florida State- If they go undefeated they are in. Tough thing to happen in a meaningless game.
- Oregon- Will need to not overlook Oregon State. Heisman’s home this year.
- Texas- Survived Ames and can now start looking at Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
- Alabama- Second best team in country according to my eyes.
- Louisville- Big win at Miami. Now get to face a weakened FSU in ACC championship.
- Missouri- They are drinking the water in Columbia. Best two loss team.
~As I suspected, the Phillies ponied up for Aaron Nola. 7 years and $172,000,000. A lot for a guy that couldn’t always be trusted this past season. Apparently, Philadelphia's mint is still alive and well judging by the baseball team's spending.
The Weekly Shiny Penny
This is a really cool story off in a faraway locale, El Paso, Texas. Wait for the end.
In probably the coolest thing I've ever seen take place at the Don after a @UTEPMBB basketball game. Young Eli got to meet @GovsMBB Hansel Emmanuel an inspiration to him, sharing a common bond. A special moment to say the least. #PicksUp #LetsGoPeay— Joe A. Rodriguez (@jrodin915) November 18, 2023
Cc: @600espnelpaso pic.twitter.com/BX4QGE4SCE
A Penny For My Final Thought…
Kenny Pickett stinks.
Kenny Pickett's last three games:— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 19, 2023
- 19/30 160 yards 1 TD 0 INTs
- 14/23 126 yards 0 TDs 0 INTs
- 14/27 93 yards 0 TDs 0 INTs
Those are the most recent weeks for Pickett, but the ones before that were certainly nothing to brag about. Pickett consistently gets outplayed by the opposing quarterback, often a far lesser thought of player. Pickett is officially problem A1 for the Steelers.
How about his passing chart as more evidence, and this is the way it looks every week.
Matt Canada should still be replaced at the end of the season. His route trees that he has Steelers receivers run are still far too rudimentary. On top of that his play calls are rather predictable. Just ask Najee Harris.
Najee Harris was frustrated after the loss. Says the offense needs to have a talk. Said he left like the Browns were on him on every carry and every screen pic.twitter.com/IHt0svzmUG— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) November 19, 2023
Canada’s limited offense aside, over the last three weeks it has come in to plain focus what the real problem with the Steelers is. The quarterback stinks, and there is no sign of impending improvement.
Pickett immediately looks to his check downs. Pickett has no pocket awareness, often spinning right into the rush. Pickett misses simple throws. Pickett panics easily. Pickett has zero confidence right now. Even one of his biggest supporters was baffled by a throw to nobody on Sunday.
Mike Tomlin used one of his more famous Tomlinisms after the game: we don’t live in our fears. If Kenny Pickett doesn’t create fears for you, then you are the bravest human on planet Earth.
With that phrase in mind, the assumption that making the playoffs is every NFL team’s goal, and the frightening thought that is Mitch Trubisky, the Pittsburgh Steelers must bench Pickett.
With all his many shortcomings, Trubisky would still give the team a better chance of winning. I actually would play Mason Rudolph, but that is never happening. Better yet, let’s enter a Time Machine and bring Josh Dobbs back to Pittsburgh.
This is just addressing the short term. Trying to win as many games this season as you can, and then take your chances in the playoffs. In the long term, bringing in a free agent or better yet, drafting another quarterback in a quarterback heavy 2024 draft must now be front and center in the organization's plans. The quicker you acknowledge the mistake of drafting Pickett in the first round, the quicker you right that wrong.
The Steelers have been fortunate to win as many games as they have. Now, the running game is clicking and the defense is doing its part. The one thing holding this team back from maximizing this opportunity is the quarterback play. You just can’t win this way long term. Again, just ask Najee Harris.
Najee Harris questions how long the Steelers' record will look good if they continue to play like this.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 19, 2023
"I look like at it like how long is this shit gonna last. It's a good record but this is the NFL. Winning like how we did is not going to get us nowhere." pic.twitter.com/iOpgz9L5dB
Divisional quarterbacks are dropping like flies, the remaining schedule is not all that difficult, the AFC keeps dragging, so it is time to seize the opportunity.
As hard as it is to type, any quarterback on the Steelers roster would give the team a better chance to seize that opportunity. Yes, even Mitch Trubisky.
Make the change now.