Take 5: Preseason, playoff, Jared Goff



Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) puts the ball in the air against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Sept. 27. The Rams won, 38-31, with Goff throwing for 465 yards and five touchdowns. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Isabelle Glatts

By The Pitt News Staff

We’re at a crucial crossroads of America’s three major sports, with the NFL entering midseason form while the MLB playoffs and NBA preseason get underway. The Pitt News staff leaves none of these stones unturned as we take a look at storylines from the past week.

Basketball’s back, alright

The last official NBA action saw the Golden State Warriors beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals to win their third title in four years. That was four months ago. But this week, basketball is finally back.

Even though it’s just preseason, the return of televised competitive basketball still provided fans with excitement. The young Philadelphia 76ers kicked off the preseason in style with an international matchup against Melbourne United. They showed why they earned the No. 3 seed last year by dominating the entire game, eventually winning 104-84. Ben Simmons showed out with an eye-popping 14 assists and Markelle Fultz got the Philly fans excited by knocking down a couple jumpshots.

Elsewhere in the league, the Boston Celtics took on the Charlotte Hornets as Gordon Hayward made his long-awaited return from a gruesome season-ending knee injury in last year’s opener, and LeBron James made his Lakers debut versus the Nuggets. Both James and Hayward played limited minutes, but they gave their respective fanbases a glimpse of better things to come.

There are a lot of familiar faces in different uniforms this year and despite many thinking the Warriors have already won after signing DeMarcus Cousins this offseason, I think this NBA season will be one to remember.

— Jack Clay, For the Pitt News

In defense of the wild card

Ever since the MLB Wild Card Game was introduced in 2012, its presence has been slightly controversial. Before the single elimination game existed, the only teams to make it into the playoffs were the division leaders and a single wild card team. Currently, the two next best records after the division winners will face off in an elimination game to move on to the division series. As it stands, the wild card game system is the best option for the MLB playoffs.

One of the biggest disadvantages that wild card teams face is having to use their best pitcher to try and win the wild card game, weakening the pitching staff for the following series. However, since 2012, there have been 12 wild card winners and six of those teams advanced through at least one series.

Another complaint is that it’s unfair for two teams to play one winner-take-all game after an arduous 162-game season. However, this just provides more incentive to win one’s division. There have been four years where one division in baseball sends three teams to the playoffs. The two wild card teams might have been good enough to garner a wild card spot, but weren’t good enough to win their division.

Yes, the wild card game causes controversy every year, but its existence helps create great excitement to start the playoff season. Although it may seem like a poor system, it amplifies the importance of winning the division while also giving good baseball teams the opportunity to steal the playoffs.

— Sami Abu-Obaid, Staff Writer

Kansas City ain’t it, Chief  

The Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) have been highly touted as one of the best teams in the NFL through the first quarter of the season. This praise is deserved, as the Chiefs have emerging star Patrick Mahomes, a top-three tight end in Travis Kelce, arguably the fastest player in the NFL Tyreek Hill and reigning rushing champion Kareem Hunt.

Despite all this, those dead set on a Chiefs’ Super Bowl need to pump the brakes. Kansas City doesn’t have the defense to compete at the highest level of football. This is not the Chiefs’ defense of old that had a dominant Justin Houston, a healthy and thriving Eric Berry or a shutdown cornerback in Marcus Peters.

Kansas City’s defense has been lackluster so far, frequently allowing opponents to post more points than they average on the season. The Steelers, for example, scored 37 points on Kansas City in Week 2 — almost 12 more points than their typical points per game. The Chiefs currently rank dead last in total defense, allowing a league-high 451.8 yards per game.

So yes, the Chiefs are good and their offense is really, really good. However, as they say, offense sells tickets — defense wins championships. If this old adage is true, then don’t expect Kansas City to hoist the Lombardi Trophy anytime soon.

— Andrew Kelly, For the Pitt News

He went to Jared

The Los Angeles Rams have gotten off to a dream start this NFL season. They currently sit atop the NFC West division with a 4-0 record, averaging a monstrous 35 points per game. Several factors have contributed to this amazing start — Sean McVay’s genius as a head coach, star running back Todd Gurley living up to his lucrative contract and the solid performance of the defense. The most important factor of this operation, however, revolves around the MVP-caliber play from quarterback Jared Goff.

In his third season, Goff is showing the NFL universe why he was selected first overall in the 2016 NFL draft. He’s already thrown for 1,406 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 72.4 completion percentage. The numbers that Goff is putting up are helping the Rams become the early favorites to win Super Bowl 53.

Goff really put the league on notice Thursday night against Minnesota, throwing four touchdowns in the first half and five touchdowns total against a stout Vikings defense. This game was the first true test of the year for the Rams and they showed up, making a seismic statement. If Goff continues to shred through NFL defenses with ease like he is currently doing, the Lombardi trophy will be coming to LA in February.

Tyler Moran, Staff Writer

Osuna and the Astros

When the Houston Astros acquired pitcher Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays in August, Osuna had just finished a 75-game suspension without pay for violating the MLB’s domestic violence agreement.

Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow released a statement saying “We will use this decision to significantly increase our support, raise awareness, and influence change regarding the issues of domestic violence and abuse of any kind.”

Last Tuesday, Sept. 25, Osuna had the domestic assault charge against him withdrawn. The charge wasn’t dropped because he was found innocent, but because he agreed to a “peace bond” — an agreement saying he will not contact the accuser and will continue his counseling.

This whole debacle brings up the question of how the Houston Astros are joining the discussion and increasing support for domestic violence victims by protecting someone who is accused of it. The Astros made the decision to get involved with this case and the public backlash when they signed Osuna in August. They can’t run and hide from it now.

If the Astros want to open discussion about domestic abuse, they should not protect Osuna, as they did when kicking out a fan who protested Osuna by holding up a sign for the domestic violence hotline number. He deserves any backlash he gets. He does not deserve to look only to the future when there are so many women who can only look over their shoulders in fear because of men like him.

— Tessa Sayers, Staff Writer