Politics, Big Plays and Possible Surprises: Week 3 Review

Alejandro Villanueva, the left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, stands alone for the National Anthem as his other teammates stayed inside of the locker room in silent protest of injustice and in light of President Trump's most recent tweets. Villanueva is a former Army Ranger and has been decorated with a Bronze Star for valor.

Alejandro Villanueva, the left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, stands alone for the National Anthem as his other teammates stayed inside of the locker room in silent protest of injustice and in light of President Trump's most recent tweets. Villanueva is a former Army Ranger and has been decorated with a Bronze Star for valor.

It is hard to even figure out where to start when talking about what happened yesterday in the NFL. From our President insulting many talented players in the most popular game in our country to the most entertaining set of games we have witnessed in a long time, Week 3 packed about as many headlines into a single 96 hour span of time as one could imagine. Since so much occurred over such a little time, I will discuss our President's actions and the players reactions in a first part of this article, and continue on to what happened within the games in the second half. If you don't like politics, I'm sorry, but you cannot ignore it nowadays. It is everywhere, and since it was a headline, I cannot let it be water under the bridge. With the Michael Bennett incident in late August, it has now manifested itself into the game of football, along with our everyday lives. So stop talking about how much you hate politics. It's the common cold of our social structure in America: yeah, not many people like it, and a lot can't stand it. But we have to find a way to deal with it, cope with it and heal. This is the same with politics in football: players, coaches and owners are asking for a solution, not a problem.

Disclaimer: I do not have an extreme bias to the left or right in politics, I simply say what I feel on specific topics. If you do not want to read about how I support peaceful protest, then exit now. But, I promise you my reasoning for my support towards the subject is somewhat different and logical. However, I do also agree with standing for the National Anthem, which makes this an interesting piece. 

   Part One: Trump Tweets and Reactions

Correct me if I'm wrong in the comment section, or commenting on the Facebook/Twitter post, but Donald Trump took to Twitter over the weekend after Steph Curry, the point guard for the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, denied an invitation to the White House. I did not look into the reason, but this happens all of the time. Hell, Tom Brady did it in February and nothing was mentioned, not a word. Donald Trump then took back the invitation that Steph Curry denied, and let the world know via Twitter. The Warriors, in turn, claimed that they did not feel welcomed by the President at the White House, and denied the invitation altogether. NBA superstar LeBron James had this to say about Trump's recall of the invitation:

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This then leaked over into the NFL, who took Trump's tweets towards Steph Curry as an attack towards minorities, especially towards African Americans. Most of these events and confrontations between massive figures in politics and sports led to what was the largest demonstrations of protesting professional sports has seen in a long time, leading our President to respond via Twitter:

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Now, hear me out here. The players in the National Football League are not trying to DISRESPECT ANYONE that has served overseas or have served anywhere and fight for everything that we have. They are doing it to fight for the injustice that they see is going on in our nation (police brutality, hate crimes, public displays of racism, etc.). If you, for one second, think that these players are trying to disrespect our great men and women who have risked their life for the freedom that everyone gets to enjoy and cherish in this country, stop. Simply stop. They're not disrespecting what veterans have done. They are taking a stand for what they see is injustice towards them, and an injustice that the President continues to portray. And, if support and attention is not brought to the issues that socially divide us today, then we will always live in a divided world, nothing will be solved. The stage that NFL players have is a stage where they can talk to these masses, where they can make a change. They understand that, and that is what they're trying to do. 

Note: I also respect the hell out of Alejandro Villanueva, the Pittsburgh Steeler lineman, for showing his belief when it was not the "thing to do" by standing outside of the tunnel, hand over heart, looking towards the flag. I respect that, and since it is his personal belief that he should do that specific action, and it is protected under law, I agree with it. Our country was founded on the prinicples of freedom of speech and expression when you do not believe something is right. I know people who did not stand of recite for the Pledge of Allegiance in school, but we do not call them "sons of bitches" or "anti-Americans". We call them friends. We call them colleagues. But, a player in the NFL who takes a knee and does not sit out of respect to the flag, but also calls for attention to injustice while taking that knee gets ridiculed by our President. Think about that note for a second.

Back to Twitter and our President's takes. A few issues with what Big Don is trying to do here. Number one is the attempt to limit the First Amendment, which is the fact that you are able to freely express yourself through words or actions as long as it is protected under law. Number two; Week 3 in the NFL saw their ratings increase, and ratings in the first three weeks in 2017 have surpassed last year's through the 2016 season's first three weeks, according to Yahoo! Sports. So to say attendance and ratings are down is a blatant lie. And number three: if you want to fire every single person for protesting the National Anthem, you would have one person left on the Steelers roster, the Seahawks and Titans would not have a player on their team, and several owners would not be owners of NFL franchises. And does anyone know where the kneeling came from? Oh yeah, Colin Kaepernick, who went to a group of veterans and asked them what a proper way to protest inequality without disrespecting our country would be. The collective answer from the group? Take a knee. Don't sit. Well, players are doing just that. Protesting inequality and police brutality in a way that military veterans suggested to protest. Before I move onto my next part, which is actually covering what actually happened on the field Sunday, I'd like to leave you with two more tweets that really opened up my mind and made me disappointed in our President due to his hypocracy. 

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I respect the hell out of that old man. A 97 year-old who served in the most influential war the world has ever seen is all in for the "kids" that want just social rights. The second is our President, who says he supports peaceful protests, but condemns them when they are because what he said. Next section.

Part Two: New York Football Gets Fun, Tom Brady Is God, Da Bears in OT and Other Highlights 

New York football had an exciting week. First, the Jets, who were suppose to go 0-16, picked up a win in dominating fashion over the Dolphins at MetLife, 20-6, with the only score from the Dolphins coming as time expired. The Jets held the Dolphins to just 225 yards, which included 30 total rushing yards, and stopped the Dolphins on 11 of 12 3rd down conversion attempts. Josh McCown threw for 249 yards, 2 TDs and no picks, including a 69-yard bomb to Robby Anderson.

Second, the Bills, who beat the Broncos in an impressive 26-16 showing at New Era Field in Orchard Park. It was a tightly contested game until the second half, where the Bills intercepted Trevor Siemian twice and forced two turnover on downs, showing stout defense when it mattered. Tyrod Taylor put together a solid performance, with 226 total yards, 2 TDs and no turnovers. Steven Hauschka went 4 for 4 on his field goal attempts, with his longest on the day being a 55 yarder. 

And finally, the sad, sad Giants. The only team in New York/New Jersey without a win, lost on an insane 61 yard field goal by former practice squad kicker Jake Elliot as time expired. The Giants should not have even been in the game, as Odell Beckham Jr. made two circus catches in the end zone to give the Giants a chance in the fourth. Sterling Shepard put together a solid performance, leading the Giants in receiving yards (133), which included a 77-yard touchdown pass from the Inferior Manning. Carson Wentz had 198 total yards with a passing touchdown and no turnovers. Darren Sproles, however, is done for the season, as he broke his arm and tore his ACL on the same play. Don't ask me how it happened, I watched the play and still didn't understand how he got hurt. 

The Patriots pulled off another signature comeback which left my roommate, who is a Texans fan, upset for the rest of his 19th birthday. DeShaun Watson showed great signs of athleticism on multiple occasions, and ended with 342 total yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. The Texans defense, despite the score, looked very tough up until the second half of the 4th quarter, as they sacked Tom Brady five times. Brady, however, looked like the MVP of the league, throwing for 378 yards, 5 TDs and no interceptions, something that a 40 year-old should biologically not be able to do. Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan hauled in two of those touchdowns each and combined for 199 receiving yards. Gronk tagged on the other touchdown, the 70th of his career, making him the quickest TE to reach 70 career touchdowns. 

The Bears and Steelers game went into overtime, and boy was it a fun one to watch. The combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, AKA the Human Joystick, provided an electric presence out of Chicago's backfield. They were Chicago's top two receivers which isn't a big accomplishment, considering Mike Glennon only threw for 101 yards. The combination of Cohen and Howard totaled 266 yards on the day, with Howard scoring two touchdowns, including the 18-yard dagger in overtime. Antonio Brown was the biggest factor on the day for Pittsburgh, bringing in 10 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. 

The Falcons escaped Detriot by the skin of their teeth to remain the only undefeated team left in the NFC. Yes, that is correct. We're three weeks in and only one NFC team does not have a 0 in the loss column. Originally, it was ruled on the field that Golden Tate had caught a goal line slant with 7 seconds left and was in the end zone before his knee hit the ground. After about 5 minutes of review, the officials overturned the call, which prompted a 10 second runoff, causing the game to end. Devonta Freeman had 138 total yards and a rushing touchdown, and Matt Bryant hit all 3 of his field goal attempts. Matt Prater hit all 4 of his attempts, the longest coming from 57 yards out.

Aaron Rodgers worked another miracle in Green Bay, winning 27-24 in overtime in Lambeau, dropping the Bengals to 0-3 on the season. Rodgers finished with 335 total yards, 3 TDs and an interception, while Andy Dalton turned in a solid performance, going 21-for-27 and slinging 212 yards and a couple touchdowns in the effort. With this being the Bengals 3rd loss on the young season, the Lewis-Dalton era may come to an abrupt close before the season ends. 

The Browns and Seahawks fell just short of comebacks yesterday, losing by 3 and 6 points. Jacoby Brissett had 3 total TDs against Cleveland, and DeMarco Murray had 115 yards on the ground on just 14 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run against what has been a tough Seattle defense.  The Raiders looked bad in Primetime, getting dominated 27-1 by the Redskins. Derek Carr finished with only 118 yards passing and 2 picks, while the Raiders only rushed for 32 yards as a team. 

That wraps up what happened over the weekend in the NFL stuck out to me. Not all games will be covered each week, but it will become easier to cover games when bye weeks start next week, as there will be less games to cover each week. Until next week, NFL fans. Stay classy and be respectful of the beliefs of others.

Twitter: itsnickharmon 

 Instagram: nick__harmon

 

Colts Trade for Backup QB

On the day every team cuts down to the 53 man roster, the Indianapolis Colts traded for Patriots backup Jacoby Brissett.  

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This trade looks like a win-win for both teams.  The Colts will now have Brissett to play while Andrew Luck gets over his shoulder injury, as reports have come out that Luck hasn't been able to lift his arm over his shoulder, plus it helps the Patriots replace injured WR Julian Edelman. 

Look out for more unsuspecting cuts and trades before the clock strikes 4pm.  

Follow me on Twitter @Jesse_Balasus21 

Image Coutersy of USA Today 

The Colin Kaepernick Story Continues

      Colin Kaepernick has still not found a home with an NFL team.  After deciding to kneel during the national anthem last year, teams believe that if they sign Kaepernick, the fans will not approve.  This will be an ongoing story until Kaepernick finds a home.  Kaepernick is the best quarterback left on the free agent market and it's only a matter of time until a team takes a chance on him.  The only question is: Which team is brave enough to do it?

     Earlier this year, Kaepernick had his first visit with the Seattle Seahawks.  The Seahawks were in need of a backup quarterback, so they brought Kaepernick in for a workout.  Kaepernick and the Seahawks go way back including a 2014 NFC Championship game when Kaepernick was on the 49ers.  But, the Seahawks also brought in veteran QB Austin Davis, who played for the Denver Broncos as a third string QB last season.  Most people would agree that Kaepernick is better than Davis, but the Seahawks had their own reasoning for it.  Pete Carroll told reporters that Kaepernick is "a starter in this league."  He stated that the team already had a starter and they did not need another one.  But is this really why the Seahawks didn't sign Kaepernick?  We'll never know!

      The Kaepernick story continued last week when reports came out that the Ravens were interested in him.  Joe Flacco had hurt his back and was expected to be out for 3-6 weeks.  The Ravens needed a QB to fill in until then, and Kaepernick was the best option on the market.  John Harbaugh said that he had built a relationship with Kaeprnick through Jim Harbaugh, former 49ers head coach.  Kaepernick seemed to be intrigued by this opportunity.  NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said that Kaepernick "would absolutely love to play for the Ravens."  However, the Ravens signed arena football quarterback David Olson on Friday.  This signing might mean the end of another chapter in the Kaepernick story. 

     A new chapter briefly opened earlier today.  Ryan Tannehill was injured this morning in a non-contact way.  Offensive coordinator Clyde Christenses said he "just saw him kind of buckle and go down." Tannehill missed the end of the 2016 season due to left ACL and MCL sprains.  Tannehill's injury was very concerning and the Dolphins front office started thinking about Kaepernick.  They discussed him as being a potential insurance policy if Tannehill's injury turned out to be serious.  Tannehill underwent an MRI today and Aditi Kinkhabwala reported that Tannehill did not suffer any structural damage in his knee.  While this is good news for the team, it is bad news for Colin Kaepernick.  However, Tannehill did hyper extend his knee and could still miss some time.  If that's the case, Colin Kapernick could still be a viable option for the Dolphins. The Dolphins will want to make sure Tannehill is safe and they could be extremely cautious with him.  This is his second injury to his knee in less than a year.  There could be a shot with the Dolphins.  Until more news is reported about Tannehill, we have to just wait and see what happens.

    If judging on talent alone, Kaepernick deserves to be on an NFL team.  He is the most talented quarterback on the market.  Teams' only concern is his off the field issues.  They believe fans will not be happy if they see a player from their favorite team kneeling during the National Anthem before every game.  Nonetheless, Colin Kaepernick deserves to be in the NFL this year and hopefully he will find a new home very soon. 

2018 NFL Hall of Fame Class

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     Hall of fame weekend has come and gone, with the Hall of Fame game and the enshrinement ceremony. This years class included the likes of Kurt Warner, Ladanian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Jerry Jones, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley and Morton Anderson. Congrats to all who where inducted this year, but in this article I wanna talk about who should be in the hallow halls of canton next year.  

    

 Terrell Owens

 

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Terrell Owens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Owens is 2nd on the all time receiving list how he's not in already is beyond me, he should of been 1st ballot.

STATS:

Receptions: 1,078

Yards: 15,934  

TDs:153

1st ballot numbers

 

Randy Moss 

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Next is Randy Moss. The committee might not select two Wide Receivers  in the same class, but like Owens he deserves to be a 1st ballot hall of famer. He is 3rd on the all time list at receiving.

 STATS:

Receptions: 982

Yards: 15,292

TDs: 156

 

Ray Lewis

 

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Lewis might of been one of the most feared players of his time, he never gave up on a play, every time he step on the field he was out for blood. Lewis gave his heart and soul to the game of football

STATS: 

Tackles:1,336

Sacks: 41.5

Forced Fumbles:17

INTs:31

 

Brian Urlacher 

 

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Like Lewis, Urlacher was one most feared and consist player at linebacker for a decade and his and Lewis's stats are almost identical. These two deserve first ballot bids.

 

STATS:

Tackles:1,229

Sacks: 41.5

Forced fumbles:12

INTs:22

 

John Lynch 

 

 

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Lynch was a cornerstone of the Tampa defensive in the early 2000's and later on with Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. 

 

STATS: 

Tackles:490

Sacks:13

Forced Fumbles:10

INTs:26

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OTHERS: 

Alan Fancea

Rondae Barber

Steve Atwater

Issac Bruce  

Torry Holt

Jeff Saturday

Steve Hutchinson  

Tony Bolseli

Matt Birk

 

All of these guys deserve to be in but these 5 where at the top of my list, if you agree or disagree leave a comment on here or hit me up on twitter @jordon_tarrence

 

The NFL Needs to do Something About CTE Before It Kills Football

Roger Goodell has not been known for his popularity with the players, alumni, or fans. With the new report on CTE, what is Goodell's next step?

Roger Goodell has not been known for his popularity with the players, alumni, or fans. With the new report on CTE, what is Goodell's next step?

Roger Goodell is standing in front of the firing line once again known as CTE.  An ESPN report came out earlier today showing that about 90 percent of football players who donated their brains and were tested were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.  CTE is a disease that oftentimes occurs after repetitive blows to the head which release tau protein into the brain.  From there, the tau protein basically eat away the tissue of the brain, causing people over time to become confused, slip into depression, or become insane.  There have been studies done to attempt to diagnose CTE while a player or former player is still alive, but none have proven to be a reliable source to diagnose CTE before death.  Therefore, CTE can only be diagnosed after the person dies, which then means no treatment has been developed for it.

CTE is infamously used to explain why so many former football players, more specifically NFL players, have brain damage in their life after football.  It has also been found in cases of boxers, wrestlers, and even soldiers, but has caught steam in the last 15 years in the NFL after Dr. Bennet Omalu found the first official case in an NFL player in the death of Hall of Fame center Mike Webster.  It has also been found to be the cause of depression and crippling mental health in the deaths of Dave Duerson, Frank Gifford, Junior Seau, Bubba Smith, Ken Stabler, Andre Waters and at least 20 other NFL players since the first discovery of CTE in NFL players in 2002.

Here are the findings that were reported by ESPN:

CTE was diagnosed in 177 (of 202) former players -- nearly 90 percent of brains studied. That includes 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players; 48 of 53 college players; nine of 14 semi-professional players; seven of eight Canadian Football League players; and three of 14 high school players. The disease was not found in brains from two younger players.

To continue with those facts, the average age of death of all 202 former football players in the study was just 66 years of age.  The age group that blew me away were the 3 out of 14 high school players that were diagnosed with CTE.  Three of Fourteen!  Now, I understand that this is a ridiculously small portion of high school football players in the country, but that is an incredible 21% of players 18 years old or younger.  I am 18 years old, and am going to college in three and a half weeks.  Three people just like me, who played high school football, died before they got to go to college and were being destroyed by the chemical issues occurring in their brain.  There is not a pleasant way to view that, and there is definitely no way you can rationalize it.

So, now that the study comes out, what comes next?  To be fair, the brains were collected from the Boston brain bank who specify in studying CTE in former football players who have died, and it was suspected that each brain studied had CTE due to the symptoms the player possessed near the end of their lives.  Regardless, this is alarming!  The NFL has been under fire because of this issue since the first diagnosis and has forfeited over $1 billion to former players who have suffered from memory loss, depression, and other mental disorders after their playing career. 

Obviously, the prevention of head injuries starts with the coaching on a youth and high school level.  But the NFL has had the national spotlight on them when it comes to anything football, especially when it comes to addressing injuries.  Yes, targeting and blows to the head have been mostly banned in the NFL, along with new helmets that have been developed to focus on decreasing the amount of concussions in football.  But, in the case of Patient Zero, Mike Webster, it was not the "big hits" that destroyed his mental state of mind.  It was the small, repetitive blows that the center received every snap that caused CTE to infect his brain cells.  The continuing development and research on CTE is disturbing, but right now it is the way of life for football players.  Adam Schefter on Sportscenter earlier today put it in a blatantly honest and accurate way: there is and always will be a risk with playing football.

I also understand that Mike Webster, along with all other players who have died with CTE in their brains, played in a time where helmets were a lot less protective than they are now.  However, the fact that the headlines about CTE are still coming to haunt the NFL may cause an ultimate downfall of the sport.  And the fact that 110 of 111 NFL players were diagnosed with CTE in the most recent study on the disease puts pressure on the NFL to do something, to do more than what they have been trying to do.  Do I know the answer as to how the NFL can reduce CTE or possibly contribute to cure it?  Hell no!  However, if something drastic is not done by the NFL (and done soon), some great athletes will realize football is not worth the risk, which could lead to the end of football as we know it.

Twitter: itsnickharmon

Instagram: nick__harmon

Patriots Upgrade Already Super Bowl Caliber Roster

The Patriots are coming off of the incredible Super Bowl LI victory against the Atlanta Falcons. However, the Patriots front office took a lot of looks at that comeback in the game and have addressed some needs. While the core of Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Dont’a Hightower, and Malcolm Butler all remain, the Patriots had some big losses, but also some huge gains this offseason.

On the offensive side, the major addition was of the speedy WR Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints. Cooks is now the fastest player on the Patriots roster and just adds another weapon for Tom Brady. Cooks deep pass threat will be huge for the Patriots, as defenses now have to adjust to cover both the short slants that Brady loves and also the deep routes for Cooks. If Gronkowski can stay healthy, it will be very, very hard for defenses to double team either Edelman or Gronk, as it will leave another receiver like Cooks open. And Cooks can burn a single man to man coverage. A wide receiver core of Edelman, Cooks, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell is a pretty scary one with any quarterback. And if any of them get injured, the Patriots also brought in Andrew Hawkins, who essentially replaces the loss of Michael Floyd. A slight downgrade from Floyd talent wise, but Hawkins isn’t running into trouble with the law like Floyd.

Another receiver that was added was TE Dwayne Allen, replacing Martellus Bennett. While Bennett didn’t exactly live up to all of the hype, he was another big body that got defenses attention. While Allen isn’t as talented as Bennett, he stills poses a threat and can be used in red zone and goal line packages. It will be tough for opposing teams to cover both Gronk and Allen.

In the backfield, the loss of LeGarrette Blount is a big one. He was a great power back for the Pats who you could rely on in 3rd and short situations. But bringing in Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead help make up for the hole Blount left. Gillislee is a dynamic running back who will help in the running game, but also poses a threat in passing as well. Burkhead still has something to prove and may not see as much time, as long as Dion Lewis and James White stay healthy, but given both players’ histories, Burkhead might be called in to step up and play a role.

The retirement of Sebastian Vollmer hurts the Patriots a bit on the offensive line. But given his recent history of injuries, it doesn’t come as quite a surprise and all that big of a loss. Marcus Cannon was able to fill his role last year, so all five predicted starting O-linemen are returning starters for the Pats.

Oh, and TB12 will again head the QB role. No four game suspension this year either!

On defense, the huge acquisition was of CB Stephon Gilmore. Kraft and Co pulled out the big bucks to pay for the elite cornerback, to replace Logan Ryan. Losing Ryan hurts, but the Pats get an upgrade in Gilmore. Pairing him alongside Malcolm Butler makes for one of the best defensive pairs in the league.

At linebacker, David Harris was brought in, and out went Barkevious Mingo. The linebacker position was a must need for the Patriots, given Hightower’s injury worries. While they still have Rob Ninkovich, Jonathan Freeny, and young Elandon Roberts, Harris provides a veteran role both on and off the field. The Patriots know they're getting a solid reliable pass rusher in Harris.

On the line, the Patriots lost both defensive ends Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard. It will be expected that Trey Flowers must step up on one side, but the Patriots brought in Super Bowl 50 superstar Kony Ealy for the other. If Ealy can perform like he did in the Super Bowl against the Broncos, (I doubt it but still), he will be a thorn in the side of opposing QBs.

Nothing changes at the safety position, as the Patriots will bring back Pro Bowler Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, along with Duron Harmon. On special teams, it will continue to be Stephen Gostkowski with the kicking and Ryan Allen with the punting. Despite rumors that the Patriots may look for another kicker, they have yet to bring anyone in.

All in all, the Patriots upgraded this offseason to an already stacked roster. With no real losses at any position, a Super Bowl repeat is expected for Brady and Belichick. And I don’t think they will settle for less. An AFC East division win is practically guaranteed and they already are the favorites to win the AFC. I would love nothing more than to see Roger Goodell have to hand over the Lombardi to the Patriots yet again.

 

Twitter: @b_murph109

 

Too Early Preview: The Green Bay Packers

Anytime you have Aaron Rodgers lining up behind center there is a chance that you can win the Super Bowl.  I mean, last season Rodgers single handedly carried the Packers' injury ridden roster to the NFC Championship.  The guy can just do mind blowing stuff on the football field.

The Packers biggest weakness in the 2016-2017 season was the lack off depth in the secondary.  Sam Shields going down in week 1 and never returning,  plus a number of different injuries to important members of the secondary resulted in LaDarius Gunter matching up in single coverage against Julio Jones in the NFC Championship and we all know how that turned out (180 yards and 2 Tds).  Therefore, this off-season gaining depth in the secondary has been a priority.  So far the Packers have added free agent cornerback Davon House as well as drafting cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones both in the second round.  House played well during his first stint in Green Bay (2011-2014) but then didn't do so hot as a Jaguar.  Though, one reason House may have struggled in Jacksonville was because he is a big dude who excels in press coverage and the Jaguars didn't play much press but rather a lot of zone.  Kevin King is also a big guy (6'2, 180) who is very athletic and has huge upside.  It's hard to know what a team is going to get out of a rookie in their first year but if King can come in and contribute it would go a long way to help solve the Packers defensive problems.

The Packers offense this year looks straight up scary. Rodgers is the closest thing to a demigod the world has seen since Achilles and now he has more weapons than ever.  This off-season Packers GM Ted Thompson shocked everyone when he signed tight end Martellus Bennett.  Bennett was the best TE on the market and greatly improves the Packers offense.  He is a huge target and isn't scared to go across the middle of the field.  The Pack also signed former Wisconsin Badgers star tight end Lance Kendricks.  Kendricks never played up to his full potential with the Rams but he also never had a good QB throwing to him.  That all changes in Green Bay where he will have Rodgers tossing him bombs.  Add these tight ends to a solid group of wide receivers and a dynamic running back in Ty Montgomery and the result is a huge problem for opposing defenses.

The last few seasons have ended in heart break but this is it.  This is the Packers year!  On February 4th, 2018 the Green Bay Packers will raise the Lombardi Trophy in US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and become five time world champions.

My Season Prediction: 19-0

Ps. Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter @MrSkinnyArms

Ravens Land Jeremy Maclin

Jeremy Maclin and the Baltimore Ravens have agreed on a 2-year contract.

Maclin, who was surprisingly released earlier this month becomes another key signing for Baltimore who lost 3 of their top 4 receivers this offseason.   Don't be surprised if this isn't the last signing the Ravens do; they're also heavily in the mix to trade for Jets WR Eric Decker.  

Maclin, who visited both Baltimore and Buffalo last week,  said his final decision came between Baltimore, and surprisingly Philadelphia- his former team. 

It always seems as though the Ravens come up with these kind of deals year after year.  GM Ozzie Newsome seems to always be one step ahead of the field.  "In Ozzie We Trust" is a key Ravens' term and it's easy to see why with all the big signings they've made this year.  The Ravens are officially in win now mode, and it should be something special to watch. 

Rookie Receiver to Miss Remainder of OTAs

Los Angeles Chargers rookie Mike Williams has been shut down for the remainder of offseason workouts with a mild disk herniation.  Depending on how long it takes for Williams to recover, he might end up on the physically unable to perform list in late July.  This could potentially be the start of a disappointing rookie season for the No. 7 pick who is behind the developmental curve, according to coach Anthony Lynn.  The big-bodied wide-out, who was heavily sought after and was brought in by Los Angeles to be a scary 1-2 punch with Keenan Allen, could potentially start the season as the No. 3 or 4 receiver behind speedster Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams.

 

Image credit: GridironExperts.com- http://gridironexperts.com/mike-williams-fantasy-2017

Follow me on Twitter @Jesse_Balasus21 for more NFL news

 

The 49ers have a new linebacker

On Monday, the San Francisco 49ers agreed to a deal with veteran linebacker Elvis Dumervil. This is what Dumervil said about the move:

Dumervil spent his last four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens pressuring numerous quarterbacks. He made the Pro Bowl twice in 2014 and 2015 and made the All-Pro first team in 2014 with his career high 17 sacks. However, this was before last year. Last year, Dumervil only recorded 3 sacks, his career low. He also suffered a foot injury, which allowed him to only play in 8 games. Dumervil, however, did show signs of his old form after he returned from his injury. Nathan Jahnke reported: "Elvis Dumervil had at least 4 pressures in all 3 games since his return from injury including tonight." after the season.

Dumervil is now on the wrong side of 30 and only has a few years left in the league. However, other than last season, Dumervil proved he was a factor in the pass rush. Dumervil could be a steal for the 49ers if he is able to return to his form before last year. Dumervil is another piece in the 49ers rebuilding process. The 49ers are trying to improve their pass rush as seen in the last two drafts. Last year, the 49ers selected DeForest Buckner in the first round and this year they selected Solomon Thomas with the 3rd overall pick.

Dumervil will come in as the veteran player on that defense. He will be looked up to by the young defensive players. Dumervil is a great addition to the 49ers and hopefully, he can take the younger players under his wing and teach the next great defense.

Ravens Lose Another Player to Injury

What a terrible week for the Baltimore Ravens.  Yesterday rising cornerback Tavon Young tore his ACL, and today veteran tight end Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip for the 3rd time in 4 years.  Pitta, who led all tight ends with receptions (86), has always been Joe Flacco's security blanket since being drafted in 2010.  Pitta, who spent most of last offseason convincing mostly everyone that he could still play, is going to have to think long and hard about continuing his career since surgery is imminent.  Many will say this makes Baltimore passing on OJ Howard sting more, but cornerback was a more pressing need.  They still have tight ends Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Darren Waller on the roster.  Whatever Pitta decides to do with his career, I have to thank him for being my favorite player and being a huge part in the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl run. 

TRADE ALERT! Browns and Jets exchange players

On Thursday, the Cleveland Browns agreed to trade LB Demario Davis to the Jets in exchange for S Calvin Pryor. The Jets have been trying to trade the former first-round pick since the draft.  The Jets selected safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye in the first two rounds of the draft, which hinted at the end of Pryors time in New York.  Pryor showed how he felt by skipping the first day of OTAs. His message was noted.

Demario Davis started for the Jets from 2013 to 2015 and then left the team in free agency. He is now returning to the Jets. This is what Davis had to say:

Todd Bowles reflected on Pryor's actions: "We draft people every year". If anybody's going to cry about somebody drafting somebody at their spot and not go out there and play, this is not the league for them." Adam Schefter reported that the Jets were planning on releasing Pryor if they did not find a trade partner for him.

Pryor was drafted 18th overall by the Jets in 2014. He had a good season in 2015 but regressed greatly last year.  He recorded no interceptions and only one forced fumble. Browns' executive vice president Sashi Brown said: "Calvin is a young, experienced safety that has upside."

Demario Davis, on the other hand, is returning to the team he started on. He was drafted by the Jets in the third round in 2012.  He had a good few years with the Jets and also with the Browns.  Last year, he recorded 99 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble.  Davis is entering a strong linebacker corps in New York.  He is joined by David Harris and Darron Lee, also inside linebackers.  With three strong inside linebackers on the roster, it will be interesting to see how the depth chart plays out.

The Browns expect Pryor to start at safety alongside first-round pick Jabrill Peppers.  The Browns have high hopes for Pryor and hope he can fill the role they want him to.  However, it is surprising that the Browns traded their starting inside linebacker.  The team does not have a solid replacement for him and will need to find one quick as training camp is approaching.   he Browns do have two solid outside linebackers in Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, who recently signed extensions with the team.

This trade does not have a clear winner yet and we will have to wait until the season starts to see who will play better. Will we see the 2015 Pryor or 2016 Pryor?

Ravens Lose Rising Star for the Season

The Baltimore Ravens lost 2nd year nickel-corner and rising playmaker Tavon Young for the season to an ACL tear at practice today.  Young was graded the 26th cornerback by Pro Football Focus last season while racking up 50 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 8 passes defended (which ranked 2nd on the team.) Although Young's injury puts a setback on Tony Jefferson's "legendary defense" claim, it proves the Ravens 1st round pick in Marlon Humphrey, was a smart one.  Expect Baltimore's starting secondary to be Eric Weddle and Jefferson at safety with Jimmy Smith and Humphrey at corner and Brandon Carr at nickel. 

 

Follow me on twitter @Jesse_Balasus21 for more Ravens updates.  

Remembering the NFL's Greatest Warrior

Memorial Day; the unofficial start to summer. Weekend trips to the beach, family barbecues, and department store specials. Although nothing beats an ice cold Miller Lite by the water, Memorial Day has a much greater meaning. Today is the day we remember and celebrate the men and women who sacrificed their own lives to keep our beautiful country free. But there's one man I want to bring up specifically, Corporal Patrick Daniel Tillman.

If you're a football fan, you should already know who Pat Tillman is; and in my opinion he's the NFL's greatest warrior. To the very few who don't know his story, let me share it with you. Pat played linebacker at Arizona State University from 1994-1997. In 1996 he won the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year award and in 1997 he led the Sun Devils to an undefeated regular season and a 20-17 loss in the Rose Bowl to Ohio State. Pat was drafted as pick 226 in 1998 to to the Arizona Cardinals and had a promising start of his career as Strong Safety. After his 3rd season and the September 11 attacks, Tillman walked away from a 3 year, $3.6 million contract to become an US Army Ranger. Pat sadly lost his life in 2004 due to friendly fire in the mountains of Afghanistan. He was only 27.

Pat Tillman might've only played 3 years in the NFL, and although we'll never know how good of a player he would've been, his decision to walk away and serve his country after September 11th leaves him with a greater legacy than one with any amount of interceptions and/or championships. 

Have the Browns found their quarterback?

DeShone Kizer was a top five quarterback heading into the 2017 NFL draft. The Notre Dame standout was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns, who desperately needed a quarterback. The team traded for Brock Osweiler earlier this offseason, who will definitely be the favorite for the starting gig. However, the Browns might throw in Kizer to see what he can do. Kizer threw for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns in his final year at Notre Dame. Kizer has shown to make good decisions on and off the field. During the first week of OTAs, Kizer showed to be superior to the other quarterbacks on the roster in mobility and arm strength. He also seemed very confident and already knew how much of the offense worked. If he can combine his physical traits with his smart mind, Kizer can develop into a very talented quarterback. The Browns picked three very good players in Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku, and Myles Garrett in the first round. The Browns are looking for playmakers and are hoping Kizer can fulfill that role. The Browns need a franchise quarterback and Kizer looks to be the frontrunner for that role.

Victor Cruz is a Bear

The former New York Giant signed a new deal with the Chicago Bears on Thursday. The 30-year-old receiver was released earlier this year after a string of injuries plagued his last two seasons with the Giants. Last season, Cruz totaled 39 catches for 586 yards and 1 touchdown. This was an obvious decline from his earlier seasons with the Giants. Cruz told his opinions of the release on an interview on WWPR-FM.

"I felt it all year long. Halfway through the year, I’m balling; the other half I’m not getting the ball. And you’re just like, ‘What’s going on?’ It was like, ‘OK, I see what’s happening. They don’t want me here anymore.’"

Cruz seems to be part of the Bears' wide receiver heavy offseason. The team signed Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, and Reuben Randle during free agency. The Bears are hoping Cruz can replace the void left by Alshon Jeffery. We will have to wait until training camp begins to see if Cruz can return to his old form.

Martellus Bennett Has The Hottest Mixtape of 2017

The Green Bay Packers' new tight end Martellus Bennett AKA The Black Unicorn, The Orange Dinosaur, The Caption of Fun,  released his new EP I'm Not a Rapper But Some of My Friends Are last month and it's straight up fire. Marty is a super creative guy and his EP really puts that on display. On Bennett's Sound Cloud, in the description of the new EP, he says “It was just me and some of my friends hanging out in the studio making music for fun and this is what came out of it. Pretty cool to have so many talented friends and be able to create with them at a high level. I am on a mission to express my creativity in as many ways as possible in 2017, this is a part of my creative journey. Enjoy." And boy did I enjoy.