Did you believe the A’s could do it again coming into this season (don’t answer, Oakland fans)? Many did not, yet they fought their way to a second straight AL West title. In matters related, the offense was one of the AL’s best once you correct for the run-suppressing effects of O.co Coliseum, Josh Donaldson is deservedly bound for a top-five finish in the AL MVP balloting, and Bartolo Colon worked almost 200 innings and pitched to a 2.65 ERA at age 40.
Above all, though, it was another first-round exit from the postseason. The likely reality doesn’t make for good copy, but it’s probably nothing more than simple misfortune — “it” being the fact that the Athletics have lost in the first round in seven of their last eight trips to the postseason. While that streak is not indicative of any kind of flawed roster construction, it is a streak.
- Dayn Perry, CBSSports.com
When the 49ers took then University of Miami running back Frank Gore in the third round of the 2005 draft – then coach Mike Nolan believed Gore’s career could be brilliant but brief.
Citing his two knee constructions in college, Nolan never envisioned Gore rushing for back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons in Gore’s 7th and 8th years in the league. In truth, no one could predict that for Gore or any other running back.
The secret to Gore’s improbable longevity?
- Kevin Lynch, San Francisco Chronicle
Lacking an elite edge rusher, the Raiders knew they would have to use creative blitz packages to generate pressure. So when shopping for free-agent help in the offseason they targeted physical, athletic linebackers (Kevin Burnett and Nick Roach, in particular) and defensive backs (notably safety Charles Woodson) who would be as comfortable chasing down quarterbacks as they are dropping in pass coverage.
As a result, offenses are having a harder time predicting where the blitz will come from. “They have exotic blitzes,” says a coordinator who has game-planned for them. “They have enough in their arsenal to mix it up, and they know how to attack protections. They’re tough to prepare for.”
- Jim Trotter, MMQB