Matthews: Remember Josh Allen's Debut


We’d heard a lot about Buffalo Bills rookie Josh Allen’s cannon arm and exceptional mobility for a QB his size.

Seeing is believing. He was impressive.

Who cares that the Bills lost their first game of the preseason – 28-23 Thursday night to the Carolina Panthers at New Era Field?

We saw enough of Allen to know that his arm strength is indeed marvelous and that he can be an effective scrambler when he needs to be.

All three of Buffalo’s quarterbacks played well. Kelvin Benjamin looked like a legit No. 1 wide receiver. The first-team defense looked strong in the first half.

But the biggest long-term positive to take from this game – no doubt about it – was Allen’s rare talent on full display.

He wasn’t perfect but he was good enough to hope he’s worthy of the hype and that the future of the rookie QB and his team is bright.

ESPN Insider this week ranked AFC East kingpin New England 32nd in the NFL in talent under 25. Tom Brady can’t last forever. The Bills have stockpiled draft picks and will have lots of money under the salary cap to play with after this season.

Could Buffalo replace the aging Patriots in a year or two as the consistent team to beat in the AFC East?  That’s easier to believe after watching Josh Allen throw the football Thursday night.


Dellin Betances has been spectacular lately but it would be crazy to even consider making him the closer for the Yankees instead of Aroldis Chapman. They’re the best set-up man/closer combination in baseball today and maybe the right-left late-innings combination most awesome ever. Why mess with success?

Check out these 2018 numbers:

Betances – 47 games; 17 holds; 0 saves; 48 innings pitched; 27 hits allowed; 19 walks; 85 strikeouts (15.94 K/9IP); 0.96 WHIP; .162 batting average against; 2.25 ERA.

Chapman – 47 games; 29 saves; 45 innings pitched; 20 hits allowed; 25 waqlks; 81 strikeouts 16.2 K/9IP; 1.00 WHIP; .130 batting average against; 2.20 ERA.

--The Baltimore Orioles can be eliminated from the AL East pennant race with a loss Friday night in Boston. The O’s (35-80 record) are 45 ½ games behind the Red Sox (81-35 record).

--Aren’t you amazed that the Mets started 11-1 this season? They’re 36-64 since.

--Do you think the Mets might put Jacob deGrom out of his misery by trading him? He has a 6-7 record despite a MLB-best 1.77 ERA.

--I’m surprised that the Dodgers haven’t opened up a comfortable lead over Arizona in the NL West.

--Will Boston teammates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez split enough American League MVP votes to make Mike Trout or sleeper Jose Ramirez the winner? Betts had the first cycle (1B, 2B, 3B, HR) of this MLB season Thursday night. He’s hitting a MLB-best .347 and has a MLB-best 1.103 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage). Martinez is hitting .331 (second-best in MLB) and leads MLB with 35 HRs and 99 RBI.

Trout will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season. If Bryce Harper is worth 10 years for $400 million (he isn’t and won’t be), or even 10 years for $300 million, how much would Trout be worth? How about a future Yankees outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Trout and Aaron Judge?

Cleveland is fortunate to be playing in the AL Central. With a 63-50 record, they’d be 3 1/2 games behind Oakland for the second AL wild-card playoff berth....The three worst teams in the AL Central are a ridiculous 97 games under .500 with a -454 run differential.

The Yankees hit five home runs Thursday night to boost their MLB-total to 181 this season. They’re on pace for 264.3 HRs. The team record is 245 (in 2012) and the MLB record is 264 (by Seattle in 1997).

Oakland continues to stock up on quality relief pitchers. The latest addition is Fernando Rodney from Minnesota. If the A’s earn a trip to the American League wild-card game, I wonder if manager Bob Melvin might trot out six, seven, eight or nine relievers.

Since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers: Manny Machado 20 games, .280 (23-for-82), 4 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HRs, 5 RBI, 11 walks, 25 strikeouts...Brian Dozier 8 games, .308 (8-for-26), 3 doubles, 3 HRs, 9 RBI.

Chris Davis (Baltimore) update: .159 batting average (55-for-347; 13 HRs; 37 RBI; .539 OPS; 34 walks; 138 strikeouts...the lowest batting average for a qualifier for a batting title was .179 (80-for-448) by Rob Deer with Detroit in 1991 (he had 175 strikeouts) and Dan Uggla with Atlanta in 2013 (he had 171 whiffs).


When the Cleveland Browns traded wide receiver Corey Coleman to the Buffalo Bills last week, the deal closed the book on this hideous factoid: the Browns had 11 first-round picks in the eight NFL college drafts from 2009 through 2016 -- and exactly none remain on the team.

It isn’t easy to go 0-16 for an NFL season – like the Browns did last year. Horrible luck in the first round of eight consecutive drafts was a major contributing factor:

2009 – Center Alex Mack (21st overall pick)...101 games with the Browns...Signed with Atlanta as a free agent March 9, 2016...32 games with Atlanta. Currently with the Falcons.

2010 – Defensive back Joe Haden (7th overall)...100 games with the Browns...Released by Browns when he refused to take a pay cut. Signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent August 30, 2017. 11 games with Pittsburgh. Currently with the Steelers.

2011 – Defensive tackle Phil Taylor (21st overall)...44 with Washington.

2012 – Running back Trent Richardson (3rd overall)...17 games...+29 with other teams...out of the NFL; quarterback Brandon Weeden (22nd overall)...23 games...+11 with Dallas and with the Houston Texans.

2013 – Linebacker Barkevious Mingo (6th overall)...46 games, including 23 starts...Traded to New England August 25, 2016 for a fifth-round draft pick in 2017. 32 games with New England and with Seattle.

2014 – Defensive back Justin Gilbert (8th overall)...23 games...+12 games with Pittsburgh. Suspended this season for violating NFL substance abuse policy; quarterback Johnny Manziel...15 games, including 2-8 record in 8 starts) with the CFL Montreal Alouettes.

2015 – Nose tackle Danny Shelton (12th overall)...46 games, including 44 starts. Traded to New England with a fifth-round pick March 10, 2018 for a third-round pick in with New England; center/tackle Cameron Erving (19th overall)...29 games. Traded to Kansas City August 30, 2017 for a fifth-round pick in 2018. 13 games with Kansas with the Chiefs.

2016 – Wide receiver Corey Coleman (15th overall)...19 games, including 18 starts. Traded to Buffalo August 8, 2018 for a seventh-round pick in 2020.

Cleveland fans are hoping 2017 first-round picks defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku, and 2018 first round picks quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward stick around longer and are more productive than most of the team’s other first-round picks since 2009.


The Rochester Knighthawks might need a bigger trophy case.

Three Hawks this week made the National Lacrosse League’s All-Pro Team: First team -- goalie Matt Vinc (for a record seventh time) and defenseman Graeme Hossack; Second team – forward Joe Resetarits.

Three Hawks made the six-man NLL All-Rookie Team: forwards Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell and defenseman Jake Withers. They were teammates at Ohio State and first-round picks in the 2018 NLL draft.

Vinc earlier was voted NLL Goalie of the Year, Hossack was NLL Defenseman of Year, Withers was NLL Rookie of the Year and Hawks owner Curt Styres was NLL General Manager of the Year.


Minnesota’s two top prospects are tearing up the Advanced-A Florida State League for the Fort Myers Miracle. Here’s how left-handed slugging right-fielder Alex Kirilloff (1st round, No. 15 overall pick in the 2016 June amateur draft) and shortstop Royce Lewis (1st round, No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 June amateur draft) have performed at Class A Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers this season:

Kirilloff – 106 games; .346 batting average (145-for-419), 62 runs, 35 doubles, 7 triples, 16 HRs, 89 RBI, .924 OPS...He was the Florida State League Player of the Month for July.

Lewis – 98 games; .314 batting average (122-for-389), 75 runs, 29 doubles, 12 HRs, 70 RBI, 27 stolen bases in 33 attempts, .856 OPS.

They figure to start next season at Double-A Chattanooga and should be in Rochester’s starting lineup for Opening Day 2020.


Friday, August 10

Dalvin Cook (23)...Chance Adams (24)...Andre Drummond (25)...Archie Bradley (26)...Marcus Foligno (27)...Wilson Ramos (31)...Ramon Humber (31)...Matt Prater (34)...Samari Rolle (42)...Walt Harris (44)...Gino Torretta (48)....Gerald Williams (52)...John Starks (53)...jockey Mike Smith (53)...Billy Ray Smith (57)...Rocky Colavito (85). Kylie Jenner (21), Justin Theroux (47) and Antonio Banderas (58) are invited to the birthday party.

Saturday, August 11

Jockey Jose Ortiz Jr. (26)...Patty Mills (30)...Pablo Sandoval (32)...Colby Rasmus (32)...Melky Cabrera (34)...Robert Geathers (35)...Andy Lee (36)...Mike Lodish (51)...Marc Bergevin (53)...Craig Ehlo (57)...Ken Linseman (60)...Hulk Hogan (65)...Ron Snell (70).

Sunday, August 12

Ian Happ (24)...Khris Middleton (27)...boxer Tyson Fury (30)...Zack Cozart (33)...Jiri Novotny (35)...Chris Chambers (40)...Plaxico Burress (41)...Antoine Walker (42)...Donovin Darois (43)...Regan Upshaw (43)...Todd Marchant (45)...Pete Sampras (47)...Greg Manusky (52)...Red Wings Hall of Famer Bobby Bonner (62) wrestler Terry Taylor (63). Casey Affleck (43) is invited to the birthday party.


August 10

118 years ago (1900), USA beat British Isles 3-0 bin the first tennis Davis Cup at Longwood Cricket Clubh in Boston...62 years ago (1956), Cleveland Browns 26, College All-Stars 0 in Chicago...38 years ago (1980), Jack Nicklaus won the 62nd PGA Championship at Oak Hill...37 years ago (1981), Pete Rose’s 3,631st hit broke Stan Musial’s National League record...4 years ago (2014), Rory McIlroy won his second PGA Championship by one shot over Phil Mickelson.

August 11

99 years ago (1919), the Green Bay Packers were founded by Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun. They were named after sponsor Indian Packing Company...89 years ago (1929), Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run...67 years ago (1951), the New York Giants fell 13 ½ games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers – the Giants won the NL pennant...56 years ago (1962), the Dodgers protested the wetting down of the basepaths at Candlestick Park to slow Maury Wills...27 years ago (1991), John Daly won the 73rd PGA Championship...5 years ago (2013), Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship at Oak Hill by 2 shots over Jim Furyk.

August 12

63 years ago (1955), the College All-Stars beat the Cleveland Browns 30-27 before 75,000-plus fans in Chicago...55 years ago (1963), St. Louis Cardinals star Stan Musial announced he’d retire at the end of the season...54 years ago (1964), Mickey Mantle hit home runs from both sides of the plate for his record 10th and final time...30 years ago (1988), the Boston Red Sox beat Detroit 9-4 for their American League-record 23rd consecutive home win...24 years ago (1994), the Major League Baseball Players Association went on strike.

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