With the NBA and NHL playoffs in full steam, daily baseball games and much more in the world of sports, there’s a chance you couldn’t get to all of the great content on SI.com this week. Inside SI has you covered. Here’s a selection of some of the top Sports Illustrated stories and video productions from the past week.
SI announced 10 finalists for its inaugural College Athlete of the Year.
Richard Deitsch reviews Fox Sports 1’s new big hires and more in his weekly Media Circus column.
Jeff Pearlman reminisces about the USFL 30 years later
Ian Thompson says Steph Curry is the latest to establish himself as a star in the playoffs.
Lee Jenkins writes that Kevin Durant can only do so much for OKC.
Rob Mahoney lists five players who have disappointed in the playoffs so far. He also notes the biggest surprises of the playoffs so far.
Do the NBA Playoffs Underdogs stand a chance? Chris Mannix and Maggie Gray discuss the Warriors and Bulls (video).
Mannix discusses how the injuries of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Amar’e Stoudemire have affected their respective teams (video).
Sara Kwak says the Isles vs. Penguins has been the most thrilling series so far.
Allan Muir says the Senators showed their superiority over the shorthanded Habs.
While this week’s SI cover man Sidney Crosby worked his magic in the Penguins’ Game 5 Win, Eli Bernstein says the play of both goalies proved to be the difference.
Stu Hackel on how the NHL may change their policy on head shots.
Tom Verducci says expensive free agents are once again failing to meet expectations.
Jay Jaffe says Matt Harvey is fastest-starting Mets ace ever.
Cliff Cocoran provides this week’s Awards Watch.
SI.com’s Tom Verducci takes a look at the increasing strikeout rate around the MLB and asks if the Braves’ power can overcome their swing-and-miss ways (video).
The Tigers top Joe Lemire’s power rankings.
Peter King notes differing draft strategies, who will control the ’14 draft and more in this week’s MMQB.
Jim Trotter writes on how the California workers comp bill will have a lasting effect on NFL players.
Don Banks asks if betters days are coming for minority hires in the NFL?
Chris Burke on each team’s most pressing question as minicamp looms.
Micahael Bamberger writes that TV saved Tiger Woods from withdrawing from the Masters.
Gary Van Sickle says McIlroy, Stricker and Scott make TPC Sawgrass look easy
Andy Staples takes a stab at his post spring top 25.
Holly Anderson hands out her Sixth annual Switzies, which celebrate the ‘best’ of the 2013 offseason.
Stewart Mandel on how Ohio State aims to break the SEC’s title streak in 2013.
Rick Pitino talks Kentucky Derby, Final Four and 2013-14′s prospects in a Q&A with Pete Thamel.
Luke Winn gives out his second annual data-based hoops awards.
Bruce Jenkins writes that Madrid red clay is a welcome sight after 2012 left all feeling blue
In his weekly mailbag, Jon Wertheim wonders if Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens can find peace.
Grant Wahl provides updates on Alex Morgan, Frank Lampard and various MLS nuggets in his Planet Futbol Column.
Jonathan Wilsion says David Moyes is a safe choice for Manchester United, but comes with risk.
Sid Lowe writes that Jose Mourinho’s separation from Real Madrid getting messy.
Floyd Mayweather tops Chris Mannix’s Pound-For-Pound Top 15.
Floyd Mayweather talks about his title fight victory over Robert Guerrero, and looks ahead towards the rest of his multi-fight contract (video).
Jeff Wagenheim discusses Anderson Silva’s punishment, Johny Hendricks’ beard, and more in his MMA mailbag.
Lars Anderson on what we learned on a rainy, dark day at Talladega.
Carl Estes provides this week’s power rankings.
The Panic Room
While NFC West powerhouse teams San Francisco Forty Niners and Seattle Seahawks have made bold moves to boost their roster for the upcoming season, the Saint Louis Rams find themselves relying heavily on young raw talent, which made Day 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft crucial for the rising team. In a Sports Illustrated exclusive in this week’s magazine, Senior Writer Peter King gives a behind the scenes look at how the Rams managed the franchises most important day of the year with a little gambling and a lucky golden coin.
Included in this draft day timeline is:
- The Rams desperate deal making that ensured their acquisition of the No. 8 pick in the draft and the subsequent drafting of West Virginia receiver-returner Tevon Austin, “a durable lightning bug and the most dangerous player on the board,” (PAGE 50) writes King.
- The dramatic decision making process that led to the Rams trading their No. 22 overall pick in the first round for the No. 30 pick, a move that potentially put securing their favorite prospect, Alec Ogletree, in jeopardy. Ogletree’s agent Pat Dye warned, “you better not get cute or you’ll lose him.” (PAGE 51) The Rams got him at No. 30 still.
- A breakdown of the sweat-educing stressful environment that was the climax of a nine month scouting process, an environment that “felt like Wall Street,” (PAGE 54) said Les Snead, the Rams General Manager.
In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Peter King reports from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis (PAGES 24-27), where he scouted the new kinds of players at critical positions that executives are looking for in this year’s draft. King believes the following evolving positions are the most essential:
- The athletic offensive tackle: With quarterbacks varying between pocket and mobile in today’s NFL, an athletic offensive tackle that can fend off both heavier ends and speed-rushers is needed in an offense. Think Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M, who could very well be the #1 pick to Kansas City.
- The three-down middle linebacker: Even with Ray Lewis departing the NFL, his style of linebacker play (sideline-to-sideline, every down playmaker) is as important as ever in the league. Alec Ogletree of Georgia best fits the mold, as he can rush the quarterback, chase down receivers and easily latch on to running backs.
- The physical corner who can run with speed guys: Corners that can bump at the line are in demand in the NFL as quarterbacks sit in the pocket longer, waiting for the play to develop. They still have to hang with speed receivers once the play opens up, however, and Xavier Rhodes of Florida State, who bumps “like a five-year NFL vet” is the guy in this year’s draft.
Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones, who opened the second half of the Ravens Super Bowl XLVII victory over the 49ers with a postseason record 108-yard kickoff return for a TD, is on the cover of the Feb. 11, 2013, issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, on newsstands Wednesday.
This is the first time that Jones, who appears above the headline: “Fear the Bird. Revere the Bird”, has appeared on the SI cover and the 12th time that a member of the Ravens has appeared on the SI cover. You can purchase this week’s cover here.
Jones, a New Orleans native who also caught a 56 yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco in the first half, set a number of Super Bowl records in Baltimore’s 34-31 victory over San Francisco, including most combined yards in a game (290) and longest play (his 108-yard kickoff return). Jones also tied a record with two plays of 50-or-more yards. Senior writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) writes:
“In the span of two game minutes, Jones had touched the ball twice, gained 164 yards, and scored two touchdowns.” (PAGE 31)
Anchored by Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the new crop of NFL starting quarterbacks are changing the belief that signal callers need time on the sidelines before taking control of the team. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Senior Writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) writes that the recent surge of young quarterbacks making an impact instead of the “carry-a-clipboard-for-years credo” shows a distinct change in the NFL game. King writes:
“Learning curve? They don’t need no stinkin’ learning curve (PAGE 40).”
In addition to rolling right away with young quarterbacks, teams have embraced a variety of changes, such as implementing schemes from the college game, embracing the no-huddle, pistol, and option offenses, and taking a chance on short quarterbacks (Wilson stands at 5’10 7/8”.) King says: “As running threats with great arms force defenses to change on the fly, Sunday’s game looks an awful lot like Saturday’s.” (PAGE 40)
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, who took a chance on starting the short, young Wilson this season, is one of the examples of the new forward-thinking NFL.
“When we gave Russell the job, I thought, Well, buckle up: it’s gonna be a Disney ride. It wasn’t conventional thinking. But conventional thinking, that’s not always what wins. (PAGE 43).”