Gridiron Killing Fields: Injuries have turned 2017 NFL season upside down

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Published on : November 16, 2017

 

 

Football is violent. It’s part of the allure of the game. A fast paced, highly charged game of gladiator chess where the players put their bodies through hell for the enjoyment of us all. It’s inevitable that these athletes will suffer injuries throughout the course of a grueling season. Every year, fans and players alike must deal with these injuries. The pain of injury and the hard work that goes into recovering from those injuries is something that fans can’t even imagine, but that doesn’t mean we don’t suffer too.

 

Some years are worse than others as far as injuries and 2017 has turned out to be one of, if not the most, gruesome for player injuries in the NFL on record. Players have been robbed of the opportunity to pursue their livelihood and fans have been robbed of the big plays and quality football that these players produce. These big injuries have flipped the league on it’s head and some of the most electrifying players in the NFL have been left on the sidelines. They have come early and often and left heads around the league spinning in an attempt to keep up as the body count rises. Let’s look at some of the big injuries this year.

 

The insurmountable losses

 

Aaron Rodgers
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Aaron Rodgers has once again proved himself to be the most valuable player in the NFL. Yet this year it wasn’t his actions on the field that proved that already accepted fact of life, but his (potentially) season ending collarbone injury. The subtraction of Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers changes the team in a way that can’t even begin to be described. Brett Hundley has shown some growth in his weeks as a starter in place of Rodgers, but unlike the discount double dick, Hundley, cannot single-handily mask the holes in the Packers roster. Because of that, the Packers, who still hold a winning record at this point of the season, are doomed.

 

Deshaun Watson

When the Houston Texans selected former Clemson standout and National Championship winning quarterback, Deshaun Watson, with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, I thought it was a very nice pick for a franchise that has never, in its existence, had a true star under center. Little did I (or anyone else) know that Watson would hit the ground running in such a fashion. Watson appeared in 7 games for the Texans and completed 61.8% of his passes for 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also ran the ball for another 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Texans were finally legit and and had found their QB of the future. Then a torn ACL in practice cut the legs out from under his rookie season and along with losses of JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, the Texans are looking at another lost season.

 

David Johnson and Carson Palmer

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When David Johnson went down with a broken wrist early in the Arizona Cardinals opening game loss to the Detroit Lions, it was clear that the Cardinals had a long road ahead of them. Johnson is among the best young running backs in football and an invaluable part of the Cardinals offensive attack, but luckily for the Cardinals they still had an offensive mastermind of a coach and an injury to your starting running back can be overcome. When Carson Palmer went down with a broken bone in his non-throwing arm during the 33-0 loss to the LA Rams in London, it was clear that the Cardinals had careened off that long road and gone over a cliff. Without the two best offensive players and the likes of Drew Stanton throwing the ball, it is a sad reality that Bruce Arians final year as head coach of the team will be a wasted one.

 

Ouch, that hurts

 

Odell Beckham Jr
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With Eli Manning still throwing the ball this offense was never going to light the world on fire. Manning is well past his prime and no wide receiver, even one of the same caliber as Beckham was going to change that. But OBJ went down with a season ending ankle injury in week 5 everyone knew the Giants were screwed. The G-Men are now 1-8 and destined for a top pick in the 2018 NFL draft, and perhaps a new head coach. OBJ can’t come back soon enough.

 

Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill leaves a whole lot to be desired as the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins but he is still a starting level quarterback and the best one in Miami by a longshot. When he was lost for the season before it even began, the team got desperate and went out and signed Jay Cutler out of the broadcast booth. He has since been about as good as one would expect. Cutler has helped lead the team to a 4-5 record and Dolphins fans are eagerly awaiting any and all news on Ryan Tannehill rehab from ACL surgery.

 

Dalvin Cook and Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford was brought in last year after Teddy Bridgewater’s very serious knee injury, and he has played pretty well. But he hasn’t been able to stay on the field and Case Keenum has performed admirably in his absence. Now, more than a year later, Bridgewater’s return seems somewhat immenent and Bradford’s inability to stay on the field isn’t all that much of a concern. Much more of a concern is the injury to rookie running back, Dalvin Cook. Before he tore his ACL in the game against the Lions he was having a monster year. Luckily the Vikings defense is good enough keep them competing for the NFC North title.

 

Zach Miller
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The Chicago Bears passing game has been desperate for competent pass catchers all season. The Mike Glennon experiment failed miserably and now they have rookie Mitchel Trubisky throwing the ball. One of Trubisky’s only decent targets was tight end Zach Miller but then a gruesome injury ended his season and almost caused him to lose his leg entirely. The Bears offense is now all but doomed this season but the real tragedy is that Miller’s career may well be over. We wish him a speedy recovery.

 

Well, that’s unfortunate

 

Dont’a Hightower and Julian Edelmen

It’s the Patriots. They’ll survive.

 

Joe Thomas
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The Browns were never going to do anything this season and at this point they are in the running for an 0-16 record, but you never want to see a future hall of fame player go down with a serious injury. Especailly when he’s been so loyal to that city and been such an iron man. Prior to this tricep injury, Thomas had played a NFL-record 10,363 consecutive snaps, while playing through torn ligaments for a time and starting 167 straight games. Good on the Browns for giving him an extension even after the injury and making him the highest paid offensive linemen in the league.

 

Eric Berry

Eric Berry is, and should be, a fan favorite around the NFL. Even with Raiders fans. You can’t help but love this guy’s story and his courage as he beat cancer and came back to the NFL to regain his spot among the best safeties in pro football. That made it even more of a bummer when he ruptured his achilles tendon in week 1. He’s just 28-years-old so there’s no reason he can’t make a full recovery, but the Chiefs defense sure has missed him while he’s been gone.

 

It’s a long season, and we are only at week 11. There’s no telling how many more injuries will come before the Super Bowl. No doubt there will be some, but there has certainly already been enough to hold us all over until next here. Here’s to hoping that all of our favorite teams can make it through the rest of the year unscathed.

 

 


Best Wide Receiver combos in the NFL

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Published on : March 21, 2017

 

 

There have been some big roster shake ups since the start of NFL free agency. Many new faces in new places. Every team is trying to get faster, younger and better but who really did improve? So, the question is: which team now has the premier wide receiver duo? Let’s take a second and look around the league to determine which franchise has the best WR’s going into the 2017 season. These are your top 8 wideout tandems.

 

#8 – Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns – Jacksonville Jaguars

Team Allen had a breakout campaign in 2015 but 2016 proved to be a bit rougher. It’s clear that both these guys have the talent to post monster numbers. The biggest factor here isn’t the WR’s but everyone else. The defense that never takes the ball away, the inconsistent QB and the often dreadful play-calling.

 

#7 – Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins

Another set of young guns that have the speed and hands to wreck opposing secondaries. Like the duo from Jacksonville, the Miami unit also suffers from up and down production from their signal caller. One could only imagine the numbers they would post with a Aaron Rodgers/Tom Brady type.

 

 

#6 – Golden Tate and Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions

It’s better to have two great receivers than one amazing one and average one. Just ask the Lions. The team always struggled to find a sidekick for Calvin Johnson, allowing defenses to zone in on him and limit his effectivness. The current Lions are much harder to defend because both Tate and Jones have the ability to be a force.

 

#5 – Bradin Cooks and Julian Edelman – New England Patriots

Cooks has yet to catch a pass from Brady but one can imagine how dangerous he will be playing for the champs. This also allows Edelman to move back to the number two spot where he is a better natural fit. Now, Cooks can handle the down field routes while Edelman takes the underneath.

 

#4 – Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers

This team may have been the best receiving combo over the last few years. Injuries are the only thing capping their success. I despise throwing praise to any Packer players but these guys are legit. It will interesting to see how the passing game will work in 2017 with Davante Adams in the mix.

 

 

#3 – Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles

One of the only number 1 receivers to change squads this offseason. Jeffery will join Matthews in Philly. Both are big bodied guys who can do it all. Their youth and strength give them a huge upside. The real question is how it is all going to work. Seeing they are playing with a sophomore QB in Carson Wentz.

 

#2 – Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jackson just signed with the Bucs and he brings agility and ball skills to wide out unit already featuring rising star, Mike Evans. This pairing is great because Jackson is small (5’10”) and Evans is big (6’5″). They are the new David and Goliath of football. Both will benefit playing along side each other, which makes me believe both are bound for huge seasons.

 

Djax bucs

 

#1 –  Odell Beckham Jr and Brandon Marshall – New York Giants

The top spot on the list. We all know how good OBJ is but the addition of Marshall is just nuts. Brandon Marshall has played the role of top option most of his career. Adding him will force defenses to pick their poison. Blanket both guys and the run game will kill you. The Giants just got a little bigger.

 

Over half the teams listed will feature a new wide receiver combo this year. So it’s hard to guess who will stay healthy and who will gel in a different offense but the on paper talent is clear as day. The pass-happy NFL is gearing up for another high-flying season and I can not wait. Did I leave out your favorite WR combo? Or do you think my order is crazy? Leave a comment.

 

Just give me the damn ball.

 

 


Understanding Why the Patriots are so Damn Good

Written by :
Published on : September 28, 2016

 

 

The New England Patriots are 3-0. That isn’t much of a headline because the Pats always seem to be good. Why is that? Why does one franchise seem immune to all the regular pitfalls that every other teams falls into? Are they lucky? Or magic? Or are they just cheaters? They are 3-0 with out suspended QB Tom Brady and have wins from the backup and third stringer. They have mostly been without super-monster tight end Rob Gronkowski. Did I mention the third string QB, Jacoby Brissett, is a rookie? And his first start ever was against JJ Watt and the Texans? Where they won 27-0?  It’s kind of insane. Let’s look at all the angles and figure out why New England is so damn good. Those winning jerks.

 

The System

They run a tight ship over there in Foxborough. They believe in a team first philosophy. Most squads preach some version of this idea but it is gospel in the Patriots locker room. That means, each player is a cog in a larger machine and no one is more important than the machine. If a cog stops being effective (or gets hurt) then it’s replaced. Do your job and you look like a star. Anyone remember Matt Cassel? The Pats don’t give huge paydays to free agents who threaten to leave. They draft well and find talent wherever they can. Often giving vets new life in a stripped down role where they can shine. Players like Randy Moss, Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount all thrived in Boston because the system only asks them to do what they are great at.

 

 

Competitive Advantage

The Patriots exploit every facet of the game for maximum returns. This hyper-aggressive efficiency has gotten them in hot water more than a few times. Some call this cheating. They broke the rules so yes, it is cheating. Spygate and Deflategate come to mind. Also, we need a new name for scandals, this constant “gate” bullshit is tired. The league issued their punishments and (for the most part) we’ve all moved on. But even in scandal we can see how the team uses each inch and thread available to them. They push right up and sometimes past the edge. This drive is incredible and responsible for their success and their failures.

 

The Coach

Time to stop pussy-footing around and get to the real answer to why the Patriots are so good. It’s coach Bill Belichick. It’s always been Belichick. And the franchise will continue to be successful as long as he is in charge. SBS’ Alex likes to refer to the coach as Emperor Palpatine. Cruel, funny and accurate in terms of his masterful planning prowess but even that is an oversimplification of Belichick’s amazing football mind.

 

Most teams focus on their strength and work to build that identity. This is how they know they can move the ball. New England doesn’t do this. They obliviously have plays and things they like but the basic ideology is different. Bill’s magic is that he molds his team into the exact creature perfect for hunting and killing your team. They change their identity week-to-week. Not only is it difficult to plan for them but they become your worst nightmare. If you can’t stop the run, then they will transform into a power back system and pound the rock. Weak or young cornerbacks? Deep shots all day. Rookie QB? How about a steady diet of all-out blitz? It’s like playing Rock-Paper-Scissors but Belichick knows what you are going to throw and changes his answer to beat you. It’s almost not fair.

 

 

Why doesn’t every team do this? Some try but most aren’t deep enough or well disciplined enough to pull it off. That’s why the Pats have such high standards about who they draft. Bill Belichick is a guaranteed Hall of Famer. Those silly scandals don’t stack up against 190 wins and 4 Super Bowl Championships with the Patriots franchise. He literally changed the game. It’s a trite saying but it legit applies. I take my hat (or hoodie) off to him.

 

The Pats play the Buffalo Bills at home this Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo may be back from injury and will be looking for his third win on the year. Jacoby Brissett hurt his thumb in the last game and may be unavailable. If neither can go then wide receiver Julian Edelman will start under center. Which sounds bonkers but they would probably win. Either way, they get Golden Boy, Tom Brady, back for week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. I kind of feel sorry for the Browns because Tom is going to go ape all over their secondary in his return. Each touchdown will be a fuck you to Commissioner Roger Goodell and I expect it to rain f-bombs that afternoon.

 

A fully healthy and stocked roster means the Patriots should be the favorite in every game for the rest of the season. Don’t be surprised to see them stay nearly undefeated the entire year and probably win the Super Bowl. Again.

 

Gold Standard.

 

 


How to Win your Fantasy Football Championship

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Published on : November 22, 2015

 

There are only a few weeks left of the regular fantasy football season. Many leagues play until week 13 then have the playoffs weeks 14-17 of the NFL schedule. Here are some pro tips from a pro choice dude that has been playing fantasy for over 10 years. I’ve also won the whole damn thing a few times and am on the podium more often than not (7-3 current record). So listen up if you want to win your fantasy football championship.

 

First things first, you gots to make the playoffs to even have a shot at the gold. Different leagues have different rules but you still need a ticket to the dance. Let’s start with improving your roster. Trades are the best way to drastically change your lineup. Look around your league, who has surplus talent at what positions? What is your weak point? Make a deal. Points on your bench will drive you mad and make you second guess your coaching skills. Stop pulling your hair out deciding between which QB (or WR, RB, TE) to play. Pick your favs, trade the others away and increase the value of your starters.

 

trade

 

Often there is a trade deadline just before the playoffs to make sure a losing squad doesn’t make a shady deal to help a friend. My advice is to make that shady deal NOW while you still can. And if there is no deadline then great, you are free to collude with your buds all you want. If you are new to cheating, this is how collusion works. You are team A and you have a solid group. Your friend is team B and his crew stinks. Team B trades all his good players to team A and then if A wins the championship, the two friends will split the winnings in secret. Betraying your friends’ trust for money, doesn’t that sound fun!

 

bribe

 

Okay, you make the playoffs, what now? Time to step your game up. Trades are off the table so we move to the waiver wire. This is the only source of new blood and the pool should be smaller now that the non-playoff bound owners have mentally checked out. This makes watching the games and staying informed very important. You need to know which star is hurt and who is taking over. My team just lost WR Julian Edelman for the year. My division rival Joe already grabbed Danny Amendola, his likely replacement. In one move, I lost a key weapon and Joe gained a high volume target who will start the rest of the way out. These are the moves champs make.

 

Danny filling the void

 

Anticipate. Save a few bench spots for long shots. Maybe get the backup to one of your opponents’ players and hope they get benched or hurt. Remember that week 17, the championship game for fantasy, is often a game where NFL coaches sit star players if their team already has their playoff situation wrapped up. Like maybe have a back up plan for QB’s Cam Newton, Andy Dalton or Tom Brady for that last game. Staying on top of these small details will help push the odds in your favor.

 

If Cam sits, who you gonna start?

 

Last but not least, pray. I like to make a sacrifice to any number of Pagan deities but you can pick whatever god you are most comfortable with. And just like managing a team, you want to be proactive with your offerings. Don’t waste time trying to make up for bad luck or games lost, instead focus on future contests. Don’t be stingy here. It’s better safe than sorry. Just ask Odysseus (Ulysses for my Latin speaking friends) about the perils of offending the gods.

 

So make trades, stay active on the waiver wire, take a chance on some sleepers and don’t piss off the spirits. If you follow all theses steps then the trophy and bragging rights will soon be yours. Now, don’t say I never gave you nothing.

 

 

 

 


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