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.

 

 


Who are the 2015 Atlanta Falcons of this year?

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Published on : November 4, 2016

 

 

We all remember the 2015 Atlanta Falcons don’t we? They jumped out of the gates last season to start with a 5-0 record. They looked to be the class of the NFC South and of the conference overall. Hopes were high in Atlanta and it had people talking about them winning the division before the season had even hit its half way mark. They had a new head coach in former Seahawks defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn. And had as electrifying a quarterback/receiver combo as anyone in the league with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. On the surface, they seemed to have everything it takes to win the conference and play for the Lombardi Trophy.

 

Then it all came crashing down.

 

After being undefeated through the first five weeks of the 2015 season, the Falcons would go on to finish 8-8 and 2nd in the NFC South to the Carolina Panthers, who would eventually go to the Super Bowl. They got exposed as being too one-dimensional on offense by relying solely on the talents of Ryan and Jones to carry the team. The defense was sub-par, despite it being the specialty of the head coach, and there just weren’t enough pieces to keep winning consistently.

 

This was how the second half of the 2015 season felt for the Atlanta Falcons.

 

In 2016, there are multiple teams that are sitting pretty at the half way point. The New England Patriots (7-1) are in a league of their own, as usual. In Dallas, the Cowboys (6-1) are riding a potent offensive attack led by two rookie of the year candidates. The reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos (6-2) are in good position thanks to their defense and running game (sound familiar?), despite having an untested QB at the helm. These teams are, for the most part, balanced and capable of winning on any given day. They are headed to the playoffs.

 

There are two other teams that have only two losses that aren’t doing things quite as convincingly though. The Oakland Raiders (6-2) and the Minnesota Vikings (5-2) are both deeply flawed teams that seem to be on the verge of getting exposed. Let’s take a look at both squads and see which of them is destined to be this year’s 2015 Atlanta Falcons by falling flat on their faces in the second half of the season.

 

Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders sit at 6-2 almost completely on the back of their offense and their risk-taking head coach. They’ve had the good fortune of playing mostly middle of the pack teams (Saints, Titans, Ravens, Chargers, Buccaneers) and one bad team (Jaguars). They’ve beaten all of those squads. The surefire sign of a good football team is that they beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The two teams they’ve lost to are this year’s Falcons (5-3 and much improved over last year with one of the most prolific offenses in football) and the Kansas City Chiefs (5-2). Both of these teams pretty good so you can’t really fault them for dropping a couple to top competition.

 

In short, the Raiders are getting the job done, if not always in convincing fashion. It took a ballsy as hell 2-point conversion to win the game with 47 seconds on the clock instead of heading to overtime in New Orleans in week 1. Let us also not forget the 513 yard effort from QB Derek Carr and the equally ballsy touchdown pass on 4th down with 1:45 left to play in overtime. This likely helped the NFL avoid yet another tie game. The Raiders also committed an NFL-record 23 penalties for 200 yards. When you figure those two very unconvincing wins against two of the NFL’s worse teams and the rest of their wins came by an average of 7 points, it’s easy to see that this team has some issues.

 

 Can the Raiders survive on the strength of Derek Carr’s arm and the size of Jack Del Rio’s balls alone?

 

The most glaring issues are penalties, which reared its head in a big way in week 8, and the play of the defense. The Oakland Raiders are at the bottom, or near the bottom, in all categories that relate to both of those things. Coach Jack Del Rio has the offense all figured out. The Raiders can put up points with most teams in the league, but if they don’t get these other issues figured out then this team could very well end up like the 2015 Atlanta Falcons, on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

 

Luckily for fans of the team, both of these things can be corrected, especially the penalties. That’s simply coaching and practice. This team HAS to get more disciplined if they want this run to continue and it’s totally within the realm of possibility. A bit more tricky will be improving a defense which ranks at or near the bottom of the league in points allowed per game and yards allowed per game. But there is hope. The star of the defense, Khalil Mack, is finally starting to put it together. He posted a 2 sack, 7 tackle, 4 qb pressure, 1 forced fumble stat line in the week 8 win over the Bucs. The defense also allowed a season-low 270 yards. If this is the beginning of a trend then there is a good chance that the 2016 Oakland Raiders will not be the second-coming of the 2015 Atlanta Falcons.

 

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were everyone’s favorite pick to win the NFC before the season began. Then the injuries started, most notably with Teddy Bridgewater’s dislocated knee in the preseason. An injury that has the future of the young QB’s career hanging in jeopardy. This injury forced them to trade for perennial NFL whipping boy, Sam Bradford, and at first the move seemed to have worked out pretty well. Through 6 games Bradford has, for the most part, played as good or better than at any point in his 6 year career. In combination with a defense that is first in the league in points allowed per game, it’s easy to see why this team had such high hopes before the season.

 

But the injuries just kept coming.

 

In September, the team was forced to place all-time great running back (and noted child abuser) Adrian Peterson on injured reserved. Losing the other cornerstone of the offense was a big hit, but it didn’t stop there. The offensive line has seen an endless amount of injuries including season-ending ones for tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith. With the rest of the offensive line battling their own injuries or underperforming in their roles, the running game has taken a serious hit. As a result the team is averaging an abysmal 2.7 yards per attempt on the ground and offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, was given his walking papers following week 8. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

 

 A team can overcome the loss of one or two players, but when the entire offensive line goes down…

 

A month ago, the Vikings were owning every team they played and people were talking about them as a shoe-in to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this year. In the last two weeks, they have been exposed by a solid Eagles defense and a poor Bears team. The team scored just 10 points in both of those matchups and Sam Bradford has been sacked a total of 11 times over both games. And we all know that if any quarterback in the league thrives under defensive pressure, it is definitely NOT Bradford.

 

With the problems that this team faces on offense, there is a good chance that they are in real trouble. And dangerously close to repeating what the Falcons did last year. The issues with the offensive line and running game aren’t going anywhere. Anytime a contender is forced to fire their offensive coordinator mid-season, there is ample reason to be worried. The team signed former pro bowl tackle-turned-revolving door, Jake Long, to try and stop the bleeding at the left tackle position and it has been a resounding failure. The defense is AMAZING but that might not be enough to win the division, let alone the conference.

 

Both of these teams have their issues, but for one of them those issues will not be resolved this year. That’s right, it is the 2016 Minnesota Vikings who will be this year’s Atlanta Falcons. The offensive line is paper thin and it is going to get Sam Bradford exposed for the fraud that he was during his first 4 weeks of play. He is not equipped to carry the offense by himself and because of that there’s a chance that these Minnesota Vikings will finish right around .500 and miss the playoffs. Just like the Falcons did last year.

 

 


Sam Bradford is now a Viking

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Published on : September 5, 2016

 

 

When the Eagles traded up for NDSU Quarterback Carson Wentz in the April draft, Sam Bradford was not thrilled. Bradford, who finished the 2015 season with the Philadelphia Eagles in good fashion, demanded to be traded. Understandably, NFL teams balked at what it would cost to get Bradford, as NJ.com reported, it was going to cost, “more than a second round pick.” Fast forward to Tuesday, August 31st: The Eagles got more than they could ever bargain for by trading Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2017 1st round pick and a 2018 4th round pick.

 

Bradford has never lit up the league or taken any teams to the playoffs, but in his defense, the playmakers around him over his years with the Rams and his one year with the Eagles were rather non existent. The best name to come out of that group was Danny Amendola in St.Louis. Bradford now goes to a team with Charles Johnson and Stefon Diggs on the outside, Kyle Rudolph at TE, and Adrian Peterson in the backfield. There’s also Laquon Treadwell waiting in the wings to take over Charles Johnson’s starting spot.

 

Several talking heads in the NFL considered the Vikings to be contenders for the Super Bowl with Bridgewater under center and now there’s no reason why Minnesota couldn’t have the same hopes and dreams. Mike Zimmer has built the Vikings to be a contender with an old school style of ball. Zimmer is going to grind Adrian Peterson to the bone with Jerrick McKinnon as a change of pace running back. It doesn’t hurt that the defense is filled with young studs (Barr, Smith, Floyd, Kendricks, Hunter) and savvy veterans (Newman, Griffen, Joseph) and were at the top of the league last year in points allowed (17.1 per game).

 

 

When news broke about QB Teddy Bridgewater’s injury last Tuesday, I immediately was banging the drum for Colin Kaepernick to get to Minnesota. The idea of Kaepernick, McKinnon, and Peterson coming out of the backfield and making people look foolish with their legs sounded really intriguing over potential vanilla veterans that Vikings’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner has worked with: Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer, or current backup Shaun Hill. Most people around the league never thought that Vikings General Manager, Rick Spielman, would make such a bold trade to try and save the season. Bradford does’t need to put up elite stats for the Vikings to contend for a playoff birth. Zimmer is going to preach ball control and mistake-free football. It’s exactly how Zimmer wants Teddy Bridgewater to run the offensive unit. Bradford can do the same, and arguably push the ball down field a bit better.

 

Here’s an interesting fact from Pro Football Focus: “Last season, Bradford played with the worst receiving corps in the league, a group that dropped 7.6 percent of his passes to lead the league. He missed all of 2014, and while there was some early-season rust, he was one of the top-graded quarterbacks during the second half of the season. On the year, he actually finished 12th in PFF quarterback grades, at 85.3, one spot ahead of 13th-place Bridgewater at 82.6.”

 

Spielman was indeed bold with this move, but the Vikings are built to go deep into the playoffs now. It’s not so much that they don’t trust Shaun Hill to win a couple of games, but I don’t think the front office viewed him as a 16 game starter and remaining healthy. Bradford has been bitten by the injury bug since joining the NFL, but he won’t have to throw as much with the Vikings. My only concern is that the Vikings run the most plays with 7-step drop backs and frequently use the play-action pass. Getting Bradford up to speed on the playbook will be a priority for the Vikings and we’ll more than likely see Hill split reps with Bradford during practices.  Another thing to consider: Bridgewater may not be ready to go next season.

 

 

One major plus going for Bradford in Minnesota is that tight ends coach, Pat Shurmur, was Bradford’s offensive coordinator during his rookie campaign in 2010 with St.Louis and his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia last year. Although Shurmur doesn’t call the plays, I am guessing that Shurmur and Norv Turner can help Bradford with the playbook and the terminology at an accelerated rate. For me, this doesn’t stink of another Josh Freeman disaster.

 

One thing that the Vikings will miss with Teddy Bridgewater being out: mobility in and out of the pocket. Teddy Bridgewater has underrated wheels and elusiveness and the fact is Bradford just doesn’t match up with him there. I had the Vikings at 11-5 with Bridgewater as the QB, but I think they drop off a game to go 10-6, but still make the wildcard spot for the playoffs.

 

Take a deep breathe Vikings fans….it’s either going to be a really smooth or really rocky flight.

 

 


What are the Eagles doing?

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Published on : April 21, 2016

 

Normally this is a relatively quiet time of year for the NFL. We are a week away from the 2016 NFL Draft, and usually the biggest news around the league is about teams beginning their offseason training programs. But not this year. GMs around the league have determined to make 2016 an exciting one for the NFL, even when there aren’t any games being played.

 

The Rams got the party started last week when they traded up to get the number-one pick in the 2016 NFL Draft from the Tennessee Titans. In addition to the top pick, the Rams got a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick but it didn’t come cheap. In return, the Titans got the Rams’ 15th overall pick, two second-round picks and a third round pick this year. The Rams also gave up a first-round and third-round pick in next year’s draft. That’s a lot of stuff to give up in order to move up and get a quarterback who isn’t a consensus stud, whoever it might be. But I get it. It’s their first year in Los Angeles and they’re looking to make a splash. Add in the fact that Jeff Fischer is just about the most uninspiring coach in the league and is on his way out if they don’t win more than seven games this year, and it’s easy to see why the Rams are so desperate for a QB not named Case Keenum or Nick Foles.

 

But what excuse do the Eagles have for making such a ridiculous trade yesterday? If you ask me they don’t have one. This seems like a really bad trade all around. The Eagles moved up to 2nd overall pick in the draft by giving the Browns their 8th overall pick in the first-round, a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, a first-round pick next year and a second-round pick in 2018. The Browns also sent the Eagles a fourth-round pick for next year. That is an enormous amount to give up for one of two quarterbacks who they are so indifferent about that they don’t really care which of the two falls to them. Oh yea, they also just gave Sam Bradford a two-year, $35 million dollar contract this offseason, and a three-year, $21 million dollar contract to Chase Daniel! How does that make any sense?

 

 The face of a genius.

 

The Eagles roster has been ravaged by three years under the mad scientist, Chip Kelly. His great experiment involved shipping off all of the Philadelphia Eagles’ most talented players and leaving the team with holes all over the field. Sounds like a fun game right? Not if you’re an Eagles fan. I suspect that Chip Kelly has always been a secret Giants’ fan and his entire strategy was to ruin the team. If that’s true then his mission was very successfully accomplished. It was on his watch that the Eagles lost, in one way or another, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy. Most coaches would kill to have those kind of players scoring touchdowns for them, but not Kelly. And that’s why he is gone, off to San Francisco where the talent pool can’t possibly get any worse under him.

 

So with holes all over the field, the Eagles decided to give up a stable of picks to move up six spots and draft someone who might, one day, maybe be a decent quarterback in the NFL. Smooth move. What the team should be doing is using all of those draft picks to build their franchise the right way and fill as many holes as they can this year. Add to that the fact that Sam Bradford is now reportedly super pissed about being lied to by management and this whole thing looks like it’s going to get a little messy over the next season or so. Good thing my Lions get to play them this year!

 

 


NFL Quarterbacks who just got Paid

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Published on : March 20, 2016

 

 

Boy, oh boy, it’s a good time to be an NFL quarterback. It feels like almost every team is looking for a starter and is willing to pay handsomely for one. The apparent lack of quality arms has seen some teams shell out huge contracts for players who are mostly backups. And speaking of backups, you need one of those too. You can’t build a great team without at least preparing for the idea that your star QB may get hurt. Plan accordingly and that injury may not sink your playoff hopes.

 

Below are not the quarterback elite. That’s the whole thing about this. We understand when Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers gets a fat extension but some organizations are so desperate that they will sink their fortunes in someone a little less proven. Let’s take a look at some the big money deals that have been inked so far:

 

Case Keenum

 

The Los Angeles Rams got him for 1 year/$3.6 million. He is supposed to start. I don’t know much about him. I know I don’t want him on my team, holding the ball every play. Not a great beginning for the LA franchise. Maybe they can still go out and sign someone. What is Tim Tebow doing?

 

Sam Bradford

The Philadelphia Eagles gave Sam a 2 year/$35 million deal. With $22 million of it in guaranteed money, including a $11 million signing bonus. This guy has never played well or stayed healthy for a full season. But teams keeping thinking he can be the guy. Maybe he can. Probably not. He is becoming the new Matt Flynn.

 

Brock Osweiler

 

You know, Peyton’s backup. Oh yeah, the Houston Texans gave him a 4 year/$72 million contract with $37 million guaranteed. Part of that $37 is a $12 million signing bonus. Not bad for a guy who just won a Super Bowl ring for holding a clipboard. I’m being mean, Brock could become a great player. The only problem is we just don’t know yet but that contact says differently. For example, Joe Flacco, who has won the Super Bowl for his Baltimore Ravens just signed for 3 years/$66.4 million. Flacco is a proven commodity. Osweiler is not, even if he is 6’8”.

 

Mark Sanchez

With Peyton Manning retiring and Brock Osweiler moving to Houston, the Denver Broncos needed to do something. They picked up the phone, called Detroit and asked about Mathew Stafford. The Fords just laughed and hung up. So Denver got the next best thing: Mark Sanchez! I’m kidding. It’s an insult to Stafford that I mention him in the same breath as Sanchez. Both were drafted in first round of 2009. Matt 1st overall and Mark 5th and that’s where the similarities end. Denver acquired Sanchez through a trade with the Eagles for a draft pick. Last year Sanchez signed 2 year/$9 million deal. Denver will pay him $4.5 million this year. So Sanchez didn’t exactly just get paid but if he plays decently then another sizable contract is coming his way.

 

Kirk Cousins

 

Cousins played great in the second half of last season but Washington still wasn’t sold enough to give him a multi year deal. Instead, they slapped him with the franchise tag which will net Kirk around $19.7 million for the year. If he performs well in 2016, then he can expect a massive contact.

 

 

There are still quite a few teams that need quarterbacks. Browns, Niners and the Jets all come to mind. Will RGIII and Colin Kaepernick find new homes? Maybe Brett Farve will come out of retirement? Only time will tell. The only thing we know for sure is these signal callers are ballers with the checks they cash. And from the looks of it, the money train isn’t slowing down. Damn, is it too late to switch majors?

 

Cha-ching.

 

Contract info from spotrac.com


New Faces In New Places: 2016 NFL Quarterback Edition

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Published on : January 4, 2016

 

 

The NFL playoffs are primed to begin. Every playoff bound team is set with a signal caller for next season, and it’s said that to have a chance in the NFL, a team needs a good quarterback. If that is the case then that would explain why 20 of 32 teams in the league currently have a record of .500 or below. That’s astonishing considering how much money is paid not only to NFL quarterbacks but the front office personnel that are entrusted to secure the services of a competent field general. Next season, teams will shell out millions in free agency. There are only a few first round prospects at the quarterback position and they aren’t necessarily considered elite players. Their draft stock has more to do with necessity than it does to pure talent that translates to the NFL.

 

Here are a few free agent quarterbacks I feel may be on the move and the team(s) they’re likely to play for.

 

Colin Kaepernick

(Currently under contract with the San Francisco 49ers until 2020)

 

Best options for new team: Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals

 

Why? There are a few things to note about Kaepernick’s contract. It was considered to be a record breaking deal, however, the contract is only guaranteed for injury and has several criteria that could lead to de-escalators. It can be voided by April 1st and the 49ers can release him without penalty. With that said, there are rumors that he could remain in San Francisco next season. Head coach Jim Tomsula is not a lock to remain at the helm next season and a fresh start could help the struggling franchise.

 

If Kaepernick does leave, the Philadelphia Eagles (now without former head coach Chip Kelly) could be an ideal destination. Pairing him with running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Jordan Mathews could be a good start to rebuild after Kelly’s failed tenure. The Browns will be in the market for a quarterback and drafting the third first round QB in five years is not ideal. The Browns would be better suited to draft a mid-round quarterback and get a veteran such as Kaepernick with a team friendly contract. The Cardinals come to mind as the team desperately needing a backup quarterback for potential 2015 MVP Carson Palmer. Who has come back from an ACL injury and the team is too good to entrust to a mediocre backup. If Palmer was to go down, at least the team has insurance in Kaepernick to continue to compete in the NFC West.

 

Drew Brees

(under contract with the New Orleans through the 2016 season. Projected cap hit of $30 million for 2016)

 

Best Options for New Team: Houston Texans, wherever Sean Payton is.

 

There are conflicting stories as to what the Saints plan to do with both head coach Sean Payton and Brees. After a remarkable run to a Super Bowl and multiple passing yard titles, the end seems near for Brees in The Big Easy. Payton may also be on the move as the team has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons and the NFC South is rather young at quarterback. Jameis Winston (21), Cam Newton (26), and Matt Ryan (30) have plenty of time to create havoc for the 37 year old Brees. The Saints defense has also been historically bad the last few seasons and regardless if Payton is an offensive guru or not, the league has caught up to his schemes. A ‘mutual’ split may be on the horizon and there is one perfect fit for Brees should he leave the Payton nest.

 

The Houston Texans have a talented team that has been derailed by a lack of a competent quarterback. Head coach Bill O’Brien hitched his future to Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Both quarterbacks have been so bad this season that the team had to call T.J. Yates back into the fold. They have passed up on several quarterbacks in recent drafts that could have at least been serviceable, most notably Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If Brees were to leave New Orleans for Houston then the Texans would be an instant AFC contender. Running back Arian Foster should be returning from injury, they have a budding superstar in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and let’s not forget their formidable defense led by super-alien defensive end J.J. Watt.

 

Brees and Payton could decide to be a package deal with another team, like the Miami Dolphins or Philadelphia Eagles, but I think the two would be best off without each other.

 

Robert Griffin III

(under contract with Washington Redskins through 2016 with Team Option)

 

Best Options for New Team: New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, St Louis Rams.

 

Most people would think that RGIII’s career would be best suited on a team where he can become the instant starting quarterback. I think that is the worst thing that could happen. The Redskins have done him a favor by not playing him. RGIII has been relegated to 3rd string by a team that drafted him 2nd overall. The quarterback selected to back him up is now the starter and may receive a near-massive contract extension. Yet, I think RGIII is the winner in this situation.

 

How is that?

First of all, RGIII needed a public relations makeover. By not suiting up for many games this season, we have not heard much of anything from him. That helps. Moreover, he has had the time to get healthy. He can’t learn much by watching Kirk Cousins play, but what he should have learned this season is a sense of humility and how to become a student of the game. All the physical tools are there, from arm talent to mobility. Hopefully, he has a handle on his ‘handlers’ and he can go back to just playing football, drama free.

 

If Payton and Brees were to stay in New Orleans, RGIII would be a great fit. He is young enough where he can still sit another year or two as an understudy. Payton will find a way to utilize RGIII’s talent and when Brees is gone, the team would have the cap room to build around Griffin. The best scenario for RGIII is to be on a team with an established star quarterback that is exiting his prime and near retirement. The Cowboys are a good choice, as he can back up Tony Romo, whose health entering the twilight of his career should be a concern of owner Jerry Jones. Having a player of RGIII’s stature would fit into Jones’ “entertainment before winning” business model.

 

The Seahawks are a stretch, as they are a team that does not do well with distractions. However, if Russell Wilson were to get severely hurt, would the team want to rely on Tarvaris Jackson for multiple games? RGIII’s skill set is similar to Wilson’s and would at least give the team short-term insurance if Wilson goes down. The Rams are only intriguing considering that the team took all the Redskins draft picks to give up RGIII. I don’t see Jeff Fisher being pleased to have RGIII in the lockerroom as he does not do well with high maintenance players. However, the Rams will be in the market for a quarterback and with Fisher in the middle of his contract, he would have to put his faith in a veteran to secure his job. Irony?

 

Johnny Manziel

(under contract with the Cleveland Browns through the 2017 season)

 

Best Options for New Team: Dallas Cowboys, CFL, Kansas City Chiefs.

 

All signs point to Manziel being released by the Browns after only two years on the team. Now that Mike Pettine has been relieved of his duties, there’s a chance he could stick around. The two seemed to be at war. Their personalities clashed and there was no trust. A new coaching regime could help Manziel, but looking at how the organization is run, it may not do any good. A change of scenery may benefit all parties involved.

 

The Dallas Cowboys would be the ideal destination for Manziel. Jerry Jones would love to have the Texas native backup Romo. Manziel would be able to maintain his star appeal in Dallas with an owner that is known to give players multiple chances. The Cowboys have gambled on reclamation projects before (La’el Collins and Rolando McClain), so Manziel would not be an issue. As for his value on the football field, the Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines and pairing with that and wide receiver Dez Bryant could lead to an interesting team.

 

The Canadian Football League is also an option. There have been many college stars that the NFL deemed not talented enough that have found success up north (Troy Smith of The Ohio State University comes to mind). A few years of seasoning in another league may do Manziel some good.

 

A far stretch is to backup Alex Smith in Kansas City, Head coach Andy Reid is still an innovative mind and could put Manziel in the best position to win when his time comes to be a starter.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Peyton Manning (Houston Texans), Sam Bradford (Jacksonville Jaguars), Geno Smith (San Diego Chargers)

 

 

Let us know who you think is on the move and where they are going.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Review ‘N Brew: Week 14

Written by :
Published on : December 18, 2015

 

 

In this little corner Roger Pretzel will review his favorite play of the week along with a thoughtful review of what beverage he was imbibing at the time.

 

 

Week 14: Mario Williams Smothers Sam Bradford for Big Loss

 Nobody wants to see this guy running towards them.

 

VIDEO: HERE

 

Sam Bradford gives up a huge chunk of yardage under pressure as he scampers backwards only to be tackled by the four-time Pro Bowler, who looks a lot like a heat-seeking missile on the play. Bradford completely fails to get rid of the ball, rolling out right at the first signs of trouble, but the big fella’s gotta eat, and Williams takes the Philly QB to the turf with a flying open-armed tackle.

 

The play happens on 3rd and 6, murdering that drive for the Eagles in what turned out to be a great game full of other highlights. But you know me; I always want to see that big sack. No innuendo intended, thank you.

 

Week 14: The Best Cocktail Ever

 photo kettel-one-vodka-martini_zpsicdeouyf.jpg

 

This Sunday I thought I’d treat myself to the best cocktail ever. It exists. It’s a thing. It’s not a subjective concept but an objective truth. Written in stone, hallowed in the deepest archives, and sung about by the oldest bards: when one reaches for the Platonic ideal of a perfect cocktail that can mean only one thing… a well-made gin martini with a twist of lemon. In this week’s brew portion of the column, I share my recipe for the ultimate mixed drink.

 

This is how I get down with the galaxy’s greatest combination of spirited beverages:

2.25 Ounces Plymouth Gin (eyeballed)
0.75 Ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth (eyeballed)
One dash orange bitters (optional)
Stirred with ice. Strained into champagne coupe. Peel of lemon squeezed over top.

 

 photo beauituflfriendship_zpsjgjui2mz.jpg

I like Plymouth gin because it’s a little softer than a London dry style. If you want a sharper, more robust flavor, by all means go for the London dry. I like Tanqueray because I’m gross like that. There are also a lot of fun new American gins out there to experiment with too. These tend to be more in line with the Plymouth flavor profile, with a non-juniper aromatic, usually some sort of citrus, taking precedence over the old familiar Christmas tree taste.

 

So you know how everyone always wants a “dry” martini? That means it doesn’t have much (or any) vermouth in it. Part of the reason why that became so de rigueur is that for decades there wasn’t really any good vermouth being imported. Given the chance, vermouth and gin can be best friends, and they really should be. Trust me on this one. I like Dolin Dry. It’s cheap and delicious. Hell, you can drink it on the rocks and it’s great on it’s lonesome.

 

 photo jiggers_zps0sysms62.jpg

 

You’ll notice in the recipe I say “eyeballed” in terms of the gin and vermouth. When I make a cocktail I always use a jigger to make sure the proportions are correct. It’s just easier, and you know your spec will turn out correctly if you do so. That rule goes straight out the window when I make a martini. It reminds me of this Ray Bradbury short story where some little old auntie has terrible vision and a horribly unorganized kitchen even though she’s the best cook everybody in her family knows. The family tries to be nice, and they buy her a new pair of glasses and organize her spices and ingredients. Big surprise: her food tastes like shit until she goes back to her old haphazard ways. When it comes to making a martini, I feel like you’ve just got to use the force and free pour that bad boy. It keeps a little bit of the mystery involved in the process too, and ultimately you’re going to consciously or subconsciously make a drink more in line with your current mood/mindset.

 

There you have it, and if you’re reading this and your spouse, parent, stepparent, grandparent, dominatrix, landlord, best friend, worst enemy, first cousin, town alderman or local cobbler yells at you for wasting your time reading the sports pages, you can make them the greatest cocktail under the heavens and tell ‘em that you actually learned something!

 

Until next week, gang.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: NFC East

Written by :
Published on : August 27, 2015

 

There is no other division in the NFL in which the specter of injury looms so heavily over every team. Dallas has its brilliant but weary O-line protecting a fragile veteran QB, Philadelphia has built a winning crew that can sustain injury up to a point, the Giants are looking to rebound after two seasons of a seriously depleted squad, and Washington has brought a curse upon itself for not changing its unfortunate and offensive image.

 

Sweet crystal ball: murky and jumbled though your whispers may be, illuminate our way!

 

Dallas Cowboys:

 photo dallascowboys_zpsl1ytzif4.jpg

 

There was a brief period of time where I didn’t totally hate the Cowboys. I moved away from general knee-jerk disdain and grew to recognize their brilliant offensive line. I also realized that Tony Romo is a solid, likable, and hardworking quarterback, and even thought that Jerry Jones’s desperate ramblings became amusing, endearing even. Then along came Dez Bryant. The dude is by far my least favorite NFL superstar. He’s the epitome of a diva and I hate his whininess towards referees, as well as his frequent fights with coaches and teammates. I will never deny that he is a fantastic talent, but as a human personality, I’m just kind of grossed out by his ego and sense of entitlement. He is Calvin Johnson’s evil twin, no doubt about it.

So here we are in 2015 and I think that Jerry Jones knows in his wizened coal-black heart that last year was the ‘boys best chance at making a run for the title in a long time, and the best chance they’ll get for quite a while. Romo is good for another couple of seasons as long as he stays healthy, but that surgically repaired back is one hell of a sword of Damocles hanging over the entire organization. That previously mentioned O-line is the key to keeping things regular, but even they’re starting to show signs of wear and tear. Should they falter, this will prove very problematic for Darren McFadden.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The crystal ball likes Dez much more than I do, predicting a stellar season for a big time receiver in his prime. Romo will hold down the fort, thanks to that crucial offensive line that will suffer only minor injuries, and remain more or less intact through the season. Darren McFadden will show promise at first and then eventually disappoint. Dallas has a shot at the wildcard spot but she’s still a leaky boat holding herself above the surface in a division that is returning to its highly competitive ways.

 

New York Giants:

 photo newyorkgiants_zpsohv8rzx3.jpg

 

I think it’s pretty easy to get hyperbolic over New York’s potential this season, but I’m afraid that’s more from what’s expected of them than actual evidence. Sure, Eli’s too good to keep playing so poorly, and it’s easy to write off the last two seasons because of the mass of injuries sustained by Big Blue, but that’s also the lazy approach. Like many, when it comes to analyzing the Giants, I want to have my cake and eat it too. Yes, I think a healthier team will win more games, but I’m still dubious that this is a club that’s going to sweep back into the division.

I’m not particularly concerned about the stories surrounding Eli Manning’s contract, but regardless of what he purportedly wants, the fans and coaching staff need to see his ratio of INT’s to TD’s drop precipitously. He’s certainly proved it can go either way. I also didn’t like how Jason Pierre-Paul dealt with his team following that unfortunate sparkler accident. It looks like he’ll be returning to the Giants, and will play before the first half of the season is out, but his cagey statements from the hospital and seeming lack of interest to meet with the team’s officials had me seriously doubting his return to New York, or anywhere. At least JPP can rest assured that he won’t go down in history as the NY Giant guilty of the stupidest unnecessary injury of all time…

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Eli will bring his pick numbers down to below Andy Dalton levels, which will be considered a victory. There will be lots and lots of speculation as to whether or not Tom Coughlin keeps his job. He will, while chomping angrily on his gum the whole time. Jason Pierre-Paul will come back. He’ll do fine. Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz will be frustrated with the heavy coverage they receive from defenses that aren’t particularly scared of the run game. The Giants improve, making them a viable threat, but not as much as expected. THEN things will get crazy with Eli’s contract!

 

Washington Redskins:

 photo washingtonredskins_zpsvrcgzusi.jpg

 

It’s pretty obvious to me that the central cause of the Washington’s woes over the last few years have been due to a longstanding Native American curse brought on by owner Dan Snyder’s absolute refusal to change the franchise’s name and image in the face of good taste or common decency. RGIII is constantly nursing a bum knee or sitting concussed on the bench; relegated to selling sandwiches alongside a once obese pedophile. Now, Niles Paul and Junior Galette are out for the whole damn season. It doesn’t seem fair, and it shouldn’t be… Unless you remember that this team is named after a derogatory term coined during the genocide of an entire population. Feel free to write Dan Snyder a letter telling him how you feel.

Thanks to the curse, we’re left with an extremely weak offensive line supporting a glass-jawed QB. However, the defensive line is really interesting, and I think it’s the best thing the ‘skins have got going for them. There’s a good pass rush to be had there, and a good defense overall if the secondary can hold up. I don’t care if it’s Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, but either of these dudes will fare better than Griffin.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

More deserved suffering for a team with a shamefully behind-the-times character. RGIII will continue to fail and the Redskins will focus more on a mediocre ground game because of it. Fans can expect some joy through the defense, and some excitement when either of the backup QBs start airing it out to DeSean Jackson, the most electric offensive weapon this team has.

 

Philadelphia Eagles:

 photo philadelphiaeagles_zpsckjzuez0.jpg

 

Chip Kelly is the closest thing the NFL has to a mad scientist. He’s a singular coach in that his megalomaniacal vision for his club’s success is less predicated upon individual player performance and more so on the crazy scheme in his head. I mean that as a compliment. The Foles/Bradford trade wasn’t about Foles’ merits or deficiencies on the field; it was about Sam Bradford working better in Kelly’s vision.

So Bradford and Murray are going to be the experiment and the gamble. Both are players that fit with Chip Kelly’s Eagles (trademark registered), but both are also injury prone. Unlike other teams in the NFC East, Philadelphia has a deeper bench. Mark Sanchez works well in this offense and Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles can certainly help take some of the pressure off of Murray. All the meticulously planned and thought out offense in the world can’t cover a weak defense that ranked near the bottom of the league last season. If things looked as exciting for the Eagles on the other side of the ball then they would be a true Super Bowl contender.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The ball likes the Eagles this year, and thinks they’re the frontrunner to win the division, thanks in part to a cushy schedule. The mad scientist has the offense that he wants and I think it’ll come through for him. The defense will improve incrementally but there’s going to be plenty of shootouts to keep Bradford’s throwing arm in shape. Finally, I’m proud of myself for having made it this far without making a single Tim Tebow joke.

 


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