Lions around the dorm

This week we’re talking about the NFL and the NBA. Should Portland have drafted Greg Oden? Who’s more important, Eli Manning or Chad Pennington? Were the Patriots penalized enough for stealing signs? All will be revealed as editor-in-chief Lauren Kohout, news editor Brandon Lee and sports assistant Kristen Lord go head-to-head-to-head in the third installment of AtD. Staff writer Justin Jez is the ref.

1) Greg Oden, the Portland Trail Blazers’ first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, will miss the entire regular season due to knee surgery. Did Portland make a mistake in taking Oden over Kevin Durant, and what does this mean for the Blazers’ future?

LK: The bottom line is the Trail Blazers are still rebuilding. Its front office screwed up the team too much for it to be totally OK and ready to go to the playoffs. Adding Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge to the lineup could have done some damage, but adding just one isn’t about to propel them into a Western Conference Championship series. One of the reasons people wanted Durant over Oden was because Oden would be better for the long term. Well, not after this. The Sonics definitely made out better from the draft since their pick is still healthy. I’m sure the Trail Blazers wish they had chosen Durant since hearing of Oden’s injury, but the Trail Blazers still have a solid team that should only get better – you can’t do too much worse than a 32-50 2005-2006 record.

BL: Even with Oden, the Blazers are still too young to really compete in the strong Western conference. The Blazers went with the safe pick, but legit big men are rare in the NBA. It’s really difficult for a team to win a championship without a shot-blocking and rebounding intimidator in the middle. They made the right draft choice. The Oden learning curve will have to wait a year, but they are still pretty solid in the middle with Aldridge and Channing Frye as the probable starters. Of course, they have former Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy as their leader. Give them two years and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the West.

KL: Microfracture surgery isn’t the career death sentence that it used to be. Amare Stoudemire had this surgery and returned to the Phoenix Suns as good as new. The Blazers may miss the rookie this season, but Oden is 19 – he has the potential to be one of the NBA greats. I don’t think the Blazers would reconsider their choice in picking Oden over Durant. Oden is the epitome of a center. He’s strong, quick and built for the NBA. I think Durant will struggle on defense because he still needs to mature. He’s got athletic ability, but he’s going to need more muscle if he wants to contend with the other players out there. While losing Oden presents its challenges to the Blazers, they still have a handful of promising young players on the team. Roy and Aldridge have already proven themselves to be contending players. Yes, the Blazers were banking on Oden’s talents, but the team has been battling back in recent years, only barely missing the playoffs last season.

JJ: Brandon is awarded 3 points this round for saying this team will be a “force” in a few years. Most successful teams have a dominant big man to anchor the defense. Lord picks up 2 points for also mentioning the solid core of young players. Kohout receives 1 point. You absolutely can do worse than a 32-50 record, and the Blazers may be headed down that road this year.

2) Both Eli Manning and Chad Pennington suffered injuries in week one of the NFL season. Which quarterback getting injured had the potential to be more detrimental to his respective team?

LK: We’re talking about Eli, not Peyton, so losing him wouldn’t necessarily have hurt the Giants at all. His backup, Jared Lorenzen, is a beast at 6’4 and 285 pounds. I’m assuming he can take a hit better than Manning. Plus, Manning hasn’t had a passer rating over 77 since joining the NFL. Only once in his entire career has Pennington had less than a 77 passer rating. He maintained a 130.5 last season. Every Jets fan I know said their season would end if Chad went down, and I think for once they may actually be right.

BL: This is Manning’s make-or-break season and the last thing he needs is an injury that could possibly affect his throwing. The Jets are used to Pennington being injured so they know how to deal with it, plus Kellen Clemens is the backup while the Giants have Lorenzen. Lorenzen is a 300-pound quarterback who’s only good for quarterback sneaks. The Jets could compensate for the injury with a solid defense and running back while the Giants have a Swiss Cheese defense and a former undrafted rookie at running back in Derrick Ward.

KL: A hurt Pennington could have been trouble for the Jets, but Manning getting injured would have more of an affect on the already-divided Giants. It’s no secret that some of the Giants have expressed their disappointment in Manning as a leader, but from what I saw in the Giants’ first game, this year could be shaping up to be the year where Manning finally becomes deserving of his birthright. An injury for Manning couldn’t come at a worse time than right now while I think the Jets have a solid enough team to survive a game or two without Pennington. Clemens seems to be a promising young player who could handle the job anyway. While running back Thomas Jones did have an off day against the Patriots last week, the Jets should still be able to rely on him for rushing yardage. If the Giants have any hope of coming together and actually making something of this season, Manning needs to be there.

JJ: Brandon gets another 3 points. Indeed the Jets know how to function without Pennington while the Giants have little protection for an immobile backup quarterback. Kohout earns 2 points for putting the spotlight on Manning’s sub-par passer rating. Lord, although I agree that losing Manning may divide the Giants further, I do not think developing into a success story is his “birthright” – 1 point.

3) The NFL has penalized the New England Patriots for videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals last week. The fine is $500,000 and their first round pick if they make the playoffs, or their second and third round picks if they do not. Does the punishment fit the crime? If not, what would you have done if you were Commissioner Roger Goodell?

LK: Two words: That’s it? First of all, they did this against the Jets, a team they could have beaten without cheating. This only makes me think of what they would have done if they were playing a tougher team. As for what I would have done, as an Eagles fan I am slightly biased and would probably throw them out of the league. Apart from that, I think they should get that win against the Jets revoked and have it count as a forfeit. The fine was way too low. I would have fined these guys at least $1.5 million total. $250 grand from the Patriots is chump change for them. It probably didn’t even come out of their pockets. And hey, what about the offensive coordinator? The Pats were only getting the Jets’ defensive signals, so who do you think they went to? They are getting off way too easy.

BL: Bill Belichick is filthy rich anyway so he probably doesn’t give a hoot about the fine. He might retire next year so it doesn’t matter if he loses draft picks. Even if he coaches next year, he’ll still have Tom Brady, Adalius Thomas, Lawrence Maroney, Donte Stallworth and probably Asante Samuel. Goodell should have suspended Belichick for at least three games if he wants the cheating coach to really feel the impact of the consequences. By missing a few games, we’ll see how good the Patriots really are.

KL: Pats fans argue that everyone in the NFL is cheating, and to some extent they’re probably right. But to actually stand on the sidelines with a video camera focused on every defensive signal? That’s a little much. Belichick is widely considered the best coach in the NFL and his tarnished reputation may serve as punishment enough, but the $500,000 fine he received seems like pennies compared to the approximate $4.2 million he’s getting for the season. It’s possible that I’m giving Belichick too much credit as the heart and soul of the Patriots, but suspending Belichick would put the Patriots at a disadvantage without their leader. This incident is the first that has ever been brought to the public eye. If Goodell was looking to make an example of Belichick and the Pats to discourage anyone from trying this again, he didn’t do a very good job.

JJ: Kohout wins this round, taking 3 points. I like the idea of the Pats forfeiting the game because that is how you really penalize NFL teams – with wins and losses. Lord comes in second with 2 points. Suspending Belichick is a good way to punish the Pats, and I agree that stealing signals is a serious offense. Brandon, suspending Belichick is a good point, but you just did not give me as much as Kohout or Lord – 1 point.

In the third 7-6-5 AtD of the semester, Brandon comes out on top.

WTF Isiah?! -Brandon