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Ned Balme

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Joined September 2012

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Australian nomad. Seven years in Adelaide, Melbourne and Mandurah, WA respectively Moved to the US in 2013 after receiving a scholarship to play for football for the University of Central Oklahoma. Started every game in two seasons for the UCO Bronchos and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2015. Previously worked as digital content producer for the Fremantle Dockers and now sports reporter for Prime 7 News Wagga. Lover of all things sport. Previous work experience at ESPN AUS and Connecticut, Collingwood, Geelong, GWS Giants as well as radio a weekly NFL radio spot for SportFM in Fremantle. I believe sport to be the great equalizer among societies, it truly is an amazing thing. NFL, AFL, College Football, NBA, Super Rugby, Futbol, Mixed Martial Arts. Favorite Sporting Memories: UCO Football -10,000 people storming the field after we upset #22 ranked Western Missouri in our first home game in 2014. Defeating Missouri Southern in triple-overtime. Taking back the Presidents Cup from Northeastern State in 2014 and making lifelong friends and understanding what it truly means to be part of a brotherhood, and sweat, bleed and grind with one another. 2009 Anzac Day game, 2012 Rose Bowl game, front-row seat to Chris Tarrant's 2003 MOTW, witnessing a Kevin Durant buzzer beater at Chesapeake Arena in OKC. My mother, Robyn Balme surprising me at my final game as a UCO Broncho in Edmond, Oklahoma on Senior Day 2014. Shameless twitter plug: @NedBalmeLives

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Roar Guru
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NFL Week 2: Winners and losers

Two weeks into the season and the Super Bowl aspirations of a number of teams have taken big hits, and it isn’t the usual suspects in the line of fire. Resident cellar-dwellers such as the Jets, Dolphins and Jaguars make up a group of 11 teams yet to win a game but it’s a handful […]

Note: This was written before details of Antonio Brown’s rape allegation came to light.

As you were.

NFL Week 1: Winners and losers

By week eight, we could well be looking at GB having the worst RB unit in football. But until then I think there has to be optimism with Ty Montgomery getting full time reps at the position.

He averaged nearly six yards a carry last year in limited opportunities and Mike McCarthy showed the ability to get him the ball in advantageous situations. He’ll also be a weapon out of the back field in the receiving game given his natural abilities as a pass catcher.

Their biggest issue will be depth if Montgomery hits the wall, considering he only ran the ball 77 times last year.

I wouldn’t mind seeing GB trade for a running back like Hill, Blount or whoever out of Yeldon/Ivory in Jacksonville is on the outer.

NFL's best and worst position groups: Offense

I think Mixon has the potential to be offensive rookie of the year if he’s given even partial holes to work with.

I quite like bringing back Andre Smith because at the very least, he knows the system well and could provide a competent mauler if he’s kicked into guard. It won’t be a world changing pick up but he provides familiarity and flexibility.

NFL's best and worst position groups: Offense

Agree with many of your sentiments.

Kaepernick just isn’t a very good quarterback. And not very good quarterback’s can’t afford to create headlines. An unfortunate reality but reality nonetheless.

I didn’t necessarily have Bengals in the conversation for running backs, merely that they are the most talented group. Whether they could each string competent play together as a trio would be a stretch (and Hill probably won’t even be on the team come fall)

I really like the Steelers group, but it’s just difficult to bank on a guy coming off a year’s suspension for weed. Although I don’t believe his troubles are anything like Josh Gordon, the reality is he has put himself in a situation where he’s one slip up from being in a similar situation. Also, Sammy Coates is far too erratic with his hands, and JuJu doesn’t separate very well (could be a handy chainmover though)

It’s pretty much pick your poison with worst receiving corps. Rams get the nod for me because the organisation (granted, under Fisher) have never displayed any ability to get the best out of their most talented players.

The Ravens at least historically have got production out guys like Aiken, Pitta, an aging Steve Smith (they’ll miss him greatly). Agreed with Jets/Bills, but I think they’ll be masked somewhat by the fact that they’ll run the ball a lot, Bills because they do it well, and Jets out of necessity.

I think the Vikings could be somewhat competent, not because they added any great talent but purely based on how historically god awful their line was last year. I also think they’ll benefit from having a running back tandem that actually complement each other, which they haven’t really ever had whilst they had AD.

NFL's best and worst position groups: Offense

Agree with everything you say.

I had reservations about relying on Gronk purely from a health standpoint, and while I love the Bucs additions this off-season, tight dnd is traditionally a pretty difficult transition for rookies so at least in his first season it’s tough to know what to expect from OJ Howard.

That being said, I definitely see the Bucs as a squad that could own the NFC South for the next few years.

Once again, that division is wide open and wouldn’t be surprised to see another NFC Superbowl representative from there.

NFL's best and worst position groups: Offense

Cheers mate,

Never an easy task trying to reasonably defend a relatively unlikeable personality, but glad you agree!

Jay Cutler: A retrospective on the NFL's surliest man

Agreed. He didn’t capitalise on their early success when he was paid a handsome amount.

On the back end of his career he wasn’t paid a crazy amount compared to other QB’s (mostly because the money for a starting quarterback has become ridiculous), but it’s difficult to defend a player who doesn’t look like they want to be there.

He’s an incredible arm talent but didn’t have that gunslinger mentality like Favre, or even modern day Derek Carr/Andrew Luck. Those guys test every throw available to them, sometimes they throw interceptions but it seems to only drive them to make up for it, whereas Cutler would crumble.

Jay Cutler: A retrospective on the NFL's surliest man

Financially, it makes a tonne of sense for him to get fired.

But whether he wants to be known as “John Fox: three times fired, two-time superbowl losing coach” is another thing.

Whether Fox and Pace are around will solely be based on two things;
-amount of blowout losses
-quarterback play

If they play in enough coin-flip games to suggest they may be only “a quarterback away” from competing next year, that will instill faith. If Glennon is respectable at QB we’ll praise their free agency acquisitions, without seeing how unprepared Trubisky is for NFL level competition.

The NFL draft's three big losers

You’re right, but the difference is unlike the Jags, those teams have world class quarterbacks.

Running backs are undervalued if you’re blessed to be able to put the ball in the hands of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Russell WIlson every play.

Superbowl winners aren’t decided by “who doesn’t the have franchise RB”, it’s about who has the franchise QB.

The Jags don’t have a star at QB and have already seen what life is like when Bortles is given the ball 45-50 times a game, and it isn’t pretty. That’s why Fournette is a good choice for them, it allows them to really play to Bortles strengths rather than force him and his mechanically unsound ways to have to carry the team, and they’ll be better off for it in the short term until they find their answer under centre.

The NFL draft's three big winners

I definitely agree with you, and I don’t dislike that the Raiders drafted him, merely surprised we didn’t see a substantial slide.

I like the notion of personal accountability, he must be accountable to his actions (as should she, if it turns out to be false) as must the Raiders if they find out their due diligence was misguided.

And yes, I think whenever things do rear there head this close to the draft. A healthy level of skepticism should be encouraged, especially because these guys are at the finish line of their collegiate careers and about to collect a massive payday, theoretically they should be on their best behaviour.

The NFL draft's three big losers

I feel it was the Chicago GM and Coach buying themselves some time more than anything. Would be easier to fire them and start a new regime with a new QB next season than if they drafted Trubisky. Reeks of self-preservation.

And yes, no charges have been laid but the very fact that he Conley especially remained so high on their draft board was quite shocking. Remember Laell Collins of the Cowboys went from 1st-2nd round prospect to undrafted as a result of his pre-draft ordeal, I envisioned it perhaps going the same way for Conley.

The NFL draft's three big losers

Not from a games missed standpoint obviously, Greene is already well ahead in that respect and most definitely will be by the time he calls it a career.

Exactly what you said, a cheeky instigator who’s too talented too brush off as a pest.

Toby Greene is our new AFL villain and all is well for now

I think GWS saw the listlessness of the Gold Coast in their first season and made it a cultural priority to at the very least have some mongrel about them.

Always had a cocky, youthful arrogance that sometimes carried over into physical occurrences, the only difference now is that they’re significantly better players and as a result it matters more when they miss games due to suspension.

I don’t hate it, truthfully.

Toby Greene is our new AFL villain and all is well for now

When youngens ask us what Stephen Milne was like, we need only point at Toby Greene.

What a time to be alive.

Toby Greene is our new AFL villain and all is well for now

You are aware there is no actual industry that judges what constitutes a “good looking rooster”…

…well, the poultry industry maybe.

The NFL draft's three big losers

The main difference is that McGregor’s fighting style reflects his personality better than Mayweather’s.

McGregor will talk trash and develop original ways of hyping up a fight, and then back it up by sliding around the octagon, trying his hand at a few spinning elbows and kicks, and when he smells blood he finishes fights.

Mayweather’s trash talk and promotional lifestyle is really in quite stark contrast to his fighting style, that of more a more cerebral, methodical, points based approach.

McGregor gives people their money’s worth through highlight reel moments both in and out of the ring, whereas Mayweather’s greatest supporters are often the more traditional boxing fans who appreciate the shear craftsmanship of his boxing ability (footwork, timing, evasiveness etc)

Simply put, both earn money. But McGregor makes his fights worth the money for the paying consumer. I feel that’s why there’s resentment built up against Mayweather but not his Irish counterpart.

Why I love Conor McGregor

He smells of roses because he managed to momentarily stymie any talk of his job security despite making the colossul mistake of signing Osweiler. All of a sudden a Texans fan base that saw themselves as hopeless all of a sudden can believe in playoff football purely by the injection of Watson, who although flawed, has a long way to go to be any worse than Osweiler was last season.

Minnesota reached the playoffs off the back of Adrian Peterson’s running game, and you’re misguided if you are in any way implying AD is an example of why not to draft a running back. Vikings are 1-4 in the playoffs with Peterson. In three of those games, the quarterbacks were Teddy Bridgewater, Tavaris Jackson and Joe Webb (a now fourth string wide receiver). And in 2012 they wouldn’t have sniffed the playoffs if not for arguably the single greatest rushing season of all time by Peterson.

And as it pertains to the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys had the best record in the NFC last year thanks to an offense centered around 4th overall pick Ezekiell Elliott.

The NFL draft's three big winners

Exactly, JT didn’t like contact and was lucky enough to have a cerebral QB like Manning who was able to dictate coverage enough and throw him open enough to the point where he didn’t need to deal with it.

Question now is whether the Broncos QB’s will be competent enough to utilize Butt to his strengths, or whether he’ll merely be an H-Back style safety valve for checkdowns and shallow routes.

Either way, I can’t wait. Season needs to be here.

The NFL draft's three big winners

Butt could conceivably be a much better TE fit than Julius Thomas was at the height of Denver’s offence.

More refined route runner and considerably more serviceable as a blocker than JT ever was. Could be a nice little addition in the later weeks of the season when the short/intermediate passing game and run game becomes of greater importance.

The NFL draft's three big winners

Agree with you. I think it was important for them to acknowledge they need to give their offense help, and not just rely on their D like they did in 2015.

Really love the Chad Kelly pick as well. Was highly touted out of HS, obviously has the genetic ability for the position, most of the questions pertained to his personality but if there’s any GM able to get the most out of him you think it would be John Elway.

I think you have quite a lot to be optimistic about in the Broncos QB room. It seems like they’re going to keep taking shots at finding the next guy until they are certain, and a QB competition between Siemian, Lynch and Kelly wouldn’t be the worst thing down the track.

The NFL draft's three big winners

Prior to this year, Mora had done a great, not outstanding, but great job with UCLA. In the five years under Rick Neuheise before Mora, the Bruins went 21-30 and never won more than seven games in a season. They’ve done it four times in five years under Mora.

ESPN are losing talent by the handful (Bayless, Cowherd, Chris Carter), and Monday Night Football isn’t the marquee matchup it once was, so I could see Gruden (who is first and foremost a football coach) leaving that role for the right job.

I agree they paid too much for Austin, and it looks even worse because they paid him with out any offensive identity in place. Austin could easily be an 85 catch player in the right system, with breakaway speed to make something out of nothing (but that was never going to happen under Fisher)

As for Vince Young, by all accounts his mentality/immaturity was his death knell but yes it doesn’t help when Fisher is forced to a quarterback in the top five just because the owner was from Texas.

The rise and 16-year plateau of Jeff Fisher

For what it’s worth, my three viable candidates to take over the Rams job

1. Josh McDaniels (New England, Offensive Coordinator)
-Offensive mastermind
-Has shown ability to run a flexible offense, not entirely dictated by personnel available
-Young (40), vibrant, expressive with previous HC experience.

2. Jon Gruden (Former Bucs/Raiders HC, ESPN Analyst)
-Knows quarterback play, already has relationship with Goff through this “Gruden QB Camp” through the draft.
-Animated, celebrity figure will play well in LA Market.
-Has built an offense around a defensive team before (Tampa Bay, 2002)

3. Jim Mora Jr (Head Coach UCLA Bruins, previously Seattle/Atlanta)
-Conservative pick from inside the LA community, knows how to deal with public scrutiny
-Successfully rebuilt UCLA FB program (41-24 in past five seasons)
-Shown ability to develop players (20 UCLA players taken in NFL draft since 2013)

The rise and 16-year plateau of Jeff Fisher

McCarthy is the great unknown. One has to wonder what a year out of the AFL system does to a player not only physically but mentally as well.

Before signing him long term Freo must also dig deep to find out how much McCarthy loves the game if he’s willing to sit out a year, as many people use their “loves” as outlets from personal issues, his football suffered as a result of his situation.

On the field, McCarthy was impressive in 2015, but would be expected to carry the load for post-Pavlich Fremantle but in reality he hasn’t been anything more than a second forward to Jeremy Cameron for his career so far.

Silver linings for the 2016 AFL season's 'also rans'

I agree whole heartedly in the talented corps of youngsters Freo have, but would’ve liked to see their selections remain steady throughout 2016 rather than heading back to the WAFL to “learn lessons”. Trial by fire would’ve been just as effective in a lost year.

As for Balic, he sustained a wrist injury prior to being drafted (playing basketball as far as I’m aware), and it has been problematic since to the point of needing surgery a few months ago, has worn a light brace post-surgery but should be in full flight for the pre-season I suspect.

In the forward line, hopefully the returning midfielders will allow Freo to set up their traditional smaller forward line with Walters & Ballantyne providing more avenues to goal (although I have been impressed by Son Son in the midfield this year), but finding tall options who can consistently bring it to ground is crucial for the future.

Silver linings for the 2016 AFL season's 'also rans'

Good question.

Simply, small margins or ‘swing games’ are losses that can be dictated within the final few minutes and instances of play.

All things being equal, these mistakes caused by in-part by youth or inexperience in a system could be ironed in future close games.

It’s certainly not fool proof but there’s something to be said about growing pains helping establish teams who perform well in those tight game situations, such as your Hawthorn’s.

Silver linings for the 2016 AFL season's 'also rans'