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The Raiders get a new deal on their Carr

Last Thursday, Derek Carr became the highest paid player in league history, according to Ian Rapoport from NFL Network. Carr’s new contract gives him 125 million bucks over the next five years, and it’s a very well-deserved deal.

The Raiders have been a proud franchise to say the least, from their Super Bowl wins in 1976, 1980, and 1983, to their resurgence in the early 2000s. However, after losing 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVIII to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team failed to make the playoffs until this past season thanks to the likes of QB Derek Carr and star wideout Amari Cooper leading the way.

This sudden spark didn’t happen overnight though once Carr was drafted going into the 2014 season, Carr went 3 wins and 13 losses in his rookie campaign as a starter for the Raiders. The following year, (2015) the Raiders climbed up to a 7-win season and hit a new high with 12 wins last season.

Carr’s numbers have also dramatically climbed in that time span as well, going from a 76.6 QB Rating during his rookie year, to a 96.7 rating in 2016. Carr’s career has been a pattern of constant improvement the following season, and it’s been a long time since the Raiders have had a stable QB in the starting lineup, so as far as the contract goes, Carr is worth every penny. But there’s still room to grow.

The Raiders lost in the wild card round to the Houston Texans 27-14, a game in which Carr missed because of injury. The insult was made even greater by the fact that the Texans were beaten by Oakland in week 11 by a score of 27-20, WITH Carr in the lineup.

Carr and Cooper, along with Linebacker Khalil Mack, are the three key components to making the Raiders a credible threat in the AFC. I don’t think they could beat the Patriots, but with the potential that’s dripping out of the 4th year Quarterback, it just MIGHT happen.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2674596-derek-carr-signs-raiders-contract-qb-reportedly-is-nfls-highest-paid-player

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oakland_Raiders

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/C/CarrDe02.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Oakland_Raiders_season

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Can the Panthers Pounce Back in 2017?

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers were near the top of the world in 2015, going 15 wins and only 1 loss during the regular season. They defeated the Seattle Seahawks 31-24, in the divisional round, and then obliterated the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Title Game, 49-15. Winning the Super Bowl against a fading Peyton Manning seemed like a cinch, but it wasn’t. The Panthers lost 24-10 to the Denver Broncos and Cam looked pretty anemic against the vaunted Denver Defense, fumbling twice and getting picked off once. Newton threw 41 passes completing only 18 for 265 yards. It was the start of a huge decline that carried over to the 2016 season.

The Panthers started off 2015, 14-0, they would only go on to win 6 games in 2016, which leads many to believe that Cam Newton’s MVP season in 2015 was a fluke. However, the 2017 season is months away, and the Panthers may be able to get back on their paws. Here are some ways that they just might be able to get back to the playoffs.

Protect the QB

One of the biggest weaknesses that the Panthers had last year was that Newton got sacked on a consistent basis. Last season he was sacked 36 times, that’s a little over 2 sacks per game, Newton has always been sacked 30 times or more throughout his career. The total amount of times Newton’s been sacked (211) over his 7-year career has led to a lot of injuries, not to mention the fact that the Panthers do a lot of the read option plays which puts Cam at risk more often. The Panthers have retooled the offensive line and Head Coach Ron Rivera is decreasing the amount of QB run plays in the playbook, so perhaps this trend will change in a positive way.

Another thing that’ll protect Cam Newton is a good running game, and drafting Stanford Running Back Christian McCaffrey will certainly help. McCaffrey ran for 3922 yards throughout his collegiate career, including a 2019 yard performance during his sophomore year and averaged 6.2 yards a carry over his career. So perhaps McCaffrey can help give the Panthers their traditionally strong running game back.

Injuries

Another part of the problematic 2016 season, was the fact that Carolina had to deal with several injuries that held them back. 30 players were injured, including Cam Newton, Offensive Lineman Michael Oher, and Linebacker Luke Kuechly.  Wide Receivers Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr further exacerbated the problems and keeping these players healthy will at least help the Panthers get a few more wins.

Michael Oher, whose life was famously portrayed in the 2009 film, ‘The Blind Side’, hasn’t been playing as well either, so it’s going to be a year of potential redemption for the Panthers, Oher was out most of the season, missing 13 games and being a few years removed from winning a Super Bowl with the 2012-2013 Baltimore Ravens certainly has that veteran presence that the Panthers need to get back on their feet.

Kelvin Benjamin

One of the other key members of the Carolina offense that needs to get into shape in order to help his team win is fourth year wideout Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin caught 63 passes, for 941 yards, and found the endzone 7 times. During Benjamin’s time at OTAs, it seems that he’s gained a bit of weight and will have to work hard to get to that 4.61 speed he ran at the combine 4 years ago.

Benjamin’s normal playing weight was 245lbs, but now he looks as though he’s 10-15lbs, and the good news is that he has 3-4 months to get back into better shape. This is not, (As many other speculators have claimed) an attempt at childishly making fat man jokes, but Benjamin needs to get back into shape if he’s going to make a splash at the end of his rookie contract this year.

Benjamin’s rookie season in 2014 was a smash hit, he gained 1008 yards on 73 catches during the 2014 season for 9 touchdowns, missing the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL injury. Considering that this is a few months before training camp and the start of the season, Benjamin should have enough time to get back into shape, or at least, better shape.

Final Thoughts

Despite my positivity in several parts of this story, I don’t think the Panthers will get back to their 2015 season, but I think they’ll at least be 8-8 during 2017. They’re in a division that isn’t being clearly dominated by ONE team like the Packers in the NFC North, or the Patriots in the AFC East, but the Saints are always dangerous, the Falcons are looking to redeem themselves this season, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to climb up the ranks a bit this season.

If the Panthers can fix these problems I mentioned in this article, I think they should at least be able to be in playoff contention much longer this season than last year. But expecting them to go 15 and 1 again, or get somewhere near that, is a bit unrealistic for me to accept. That 2015 season captured a moment where the Panthers were nearly unbeatable, but now, I think they’d be better served trying to make the playoffs, instead of trying desperately to hit that mark again.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Carolina_Panthers_season

https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/06/02/carolina-panthers-offseason-grades-free-agency-nfl-draft#

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/N/NewtCa00.htm

http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/christian-mccaffrey-1.html

http://catcrave.com/2017/01/31/carolina-panthers-offensive-line-depth-issue/

http://catcrave.com/2017/01/31/carolina-panthers-offensive-line-depth-issue/

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/car/2016_injuries.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_Benjamin#2017_season

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/kelvin-benjamin-looks-out-of-shape-at-panthers-otas-and-even-hes-disappointed/

The Greatest Player of all time doesn’t exist

Many people have used the phrase ‘Greatest of all time’ a statement handed out only to the ONE player in ANY sport who tops everyone in the past, present or future. Seeing how this is a football blog, we’ll keep this argument limited to just the NFL only. Ever since the Patriots rallied against the Falcons from a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI, many have decreed Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady as ‘The Greatest Player of All Time’ which isn’t a fair or accurate sentiment. Every player is great in their own way, and it’s hard to determine this without looking at every element of the game.

Long before people we’re saying this about Brady, people would argue whether former 49ers’ WR Jerry Rice was the greatest and if he was better than the Packers’ receiver Don Huston. To better explain my point here, let’s look at the facts shall we? Jerry Rice for starters holds records for receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards, however, this took place between 1985-2004. I say this because this was when the Passing game was becoming more commonly used instead of solely running the ball, when Don Hutson played (1935-1945), be became the first official modern Receiver who held the records for nearly every significant receiving category in the league. Hutson lead the league in receiving scores in 9 seasons and lead the league yards for 7 seasons.

Hutson also helped the Packers win the NFL Championship Games in 1936, 1939, and 1944, Rice helped his team win 3 Super Bowl titles (The equivalent of the NFL Championship games from Hutson’s era), so they’re evenly matched in the area that most people focus on in this argument, the amount of championships a man wins in his career. While Rice helped to further evolve the NFL Offense, Hutson revolutionized it. Another thing that helps Hutson earn value points for this argument is that he also played safety and caught 30 interceptions during his career. Back in the older days it wasn’t uncommon for a star player to play multiple positions, Rice only played wideout while Hutson played both ways.

Tom Brady has won 5 Super Bowls, but has lost twice to the New York Giants in 2008 and 2012, making that 7 Super Bowl Appearances. Quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1970-1983) and Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers, 1979-1992) both won 4 Super Bowls in the 1970s (Bradshaw)and the 1980s (Montana) and they NEVER lost any additional Super Bowls. In the 1960s Packers’ QB Bart Starr won 5 championships between 1959-1968, led by the legendary Vince Lombardi as Head Coach. Starr only lost ONE game in the postseason as the Green and Gold’s leader in 1960, but aside from that, he won the big game every time.

Tom Brady also isn’t the highest rated QB in NFL history (QBR: 97.2), that title belongs to Aaron Rodgers who has a rating of 104.1. Brady also doesn’t have some of the records that Peyton Manning Holds in Passing Yards and Touchdowns. The point of the matter is that whenever someone is proclaimed a GOAT, it brings on a lot of debates, which won’t ever end. Whoever’s the best player…to me that claim and argument is too subjective for there to be a definitive answer. Heck, there are QBs that have NEVER won a Super Bowl that people have claimed to be great players like Dan Fouts of the Chargers who never reached a Super Bowl. The same can be said for Dan Marino who held almost every significant QB record for Touchdown passes, yards, pass attempts and completions, etc. The only Super Bowl he ever played in was a 38-16 loss in 1984 to the 49ers, it was only his second season. His records stood until 2006 and 2007 when Packers QB Brett Favre broke all of those records that Peyton Manning has broken some of since then in 2014.

What makes a player great is solely based on your opinion of the player to begin with, that’s why I think saying someone in ANY sport is the greatest has his or her sky high in the clouds and isn’t looking at the bigger picture of the sport.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Rice

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Hutson

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Marino  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_Starr

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Favre

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peyton_Manning

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Bradshaw

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Rodgers

Can Tampa Bay End their Playoff Drought

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a long run of bad luck the past 9 years, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007, and their last Postseason win dates back to winning Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. The Bucs have been through many changes since then, and they now seem to have a winning combination with Head Coach Dirk Koetter, and 3rd year QB Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay went 9 wins and 7 losses and came a game away from making it to the playoffs last season.

After the 2014 season in which the Bucs went 2 wins and 14 losses, they’ve been steadily improving, in Winston’s rookie season they doubled their win total the following season and added three more wins last year. The Buccaneers have an offense that was ranked 18th in both points and yards per game, and their defense is a tough as well, coming in at 15th in the league, led by anchor at Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy who had 6.5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.

Winston has developed into a very strong and productive leader, and that’s going to have to happen again this year if they’re to end this drought. In his rookie season, Winston threw 22 touchdowns against 15 interceptions, in his second year those numbers improved to 28 touchdowns, and his rating was almost 2 more notches higher than his rookie season. What makes this even more impressive, is that he’s done this while having to get used to Koetter as his new head coach last year after Lovie Smith was fired following Winston’s rookie season.

In addition to Winston’s rising star, the Bucs have also added another weapon to their passing game in Desean Jackson who was signed on after spending a few years with the Redskins. The Bucs already have a go to receiver in Vincent Jackson, so adding another speedy wideout to the mix should make Tampa Bay’s passing attack even more potent.

But when it comes to late season football, you need a good running game to get those tough bruising yards, and Tampa Bay has that in their star running back, Doug Martin. Despite missing 8 games due to a suspension, Martin is still a dangerous back, he may not produce 1,000 yards annually, but he knows the offense, and hopefully when his suspension is lifted this season, he can get back to wowing fans with his running abilities.

In a brief segment on NFL Network’s ‘NFL Total Access’ there was a discussion about which NFL team would most likely end their Playoff drought. The consensus was that the Bucs would be the team to do so, and with these weapons on Offense, coupled with a solid defense, they just might end it during the 2017-2018 season.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_Bay_Buccaneers  

http://www.nfl.com/teams/tampabaybuccaneers/statistics?team=TB

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/tam/2016.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Martin_(running_back)

The Packers’ 2017 NFL Schedule: A Look Ahead and Season Predictions

 

Last week on the 19th of April, the NFL announced its 2017 regular and preseason schedule for the entire league. The Packers have been touted as having one of the easier schedules this season with their opponents having a winning percentage .480 of last year. Green Bay opens the regular season up at Lambeau Field against the Seattle Seahawks, who have acquired former Running Back Eddie Lacy this past offseason.

After that, the Packers will travel to Atlanta to christen the Falcons’ new stadium on Sunday Night Football, giving the Pack a chance to avenge their losses against the Falcons last year, including a 48-21 beatdown in the NFC Title game the previous season. The two teams also met up in week 8, and the Packers lost in a 33-32 heartbreaker. This should give Green Bay plenty of motivation to take down the defending NFC Champs on their new home field. This year, the Packers will face only 4 teams that were in the playoffs a year ago, (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Seattle, and Dallas). So the Packers should be able to have a relatively successful season.

The most anticipated game of the season this year, outside of Eddie Lacy’s return to Lambeau, will be a week 5 match-up against the Dallas Cowboys on the road that will air on Fox at 4:25pm. The Packers narrowly defeated Dallas 34-31, in the divisional round of the 2016-17 playoffs, on a last second field goal by Kicker Mason Crosby.

The Packers will come into 2017 with high hopes as well as question marks surrounding their team, ‘Will their running game improve?’ and ‘Can their defense regain their oppressive nature once more?’ These answers and more will present themselves as the season approaches, but right now, there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic. When the Packers are healthy they’re a very dangerous football team, the most recent example of a healthy Packer team doing a lot of damage was in 2014, when the Packers went 12 wins and 4 losses only to lose in the NFC Title Game in Seattle. The Packers have gone to the NFC Championship game twice in the last three years, hopefully the Packers can break through the wall and earn a chance to win a Super Bowl once again, and perhaps have the tandem of Head Coach Mike McCarthy and Quarterback Aaron Rodgers be Super Bowl Champions again. Time is running out on A-Rod’s career, but as long as he’s still playing at a high level, and the other question marks about the team get answered, there’s no reason why Green Bay won’t have another successful run.

I predict that the Packers will make yet another playoff run and win the NFC North Division yet again with an 11-5 record. A lot of people may be thinking that the Pack will get back to the Super Bowl, but only time will tell if that’ll be the case.

 

http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2017/1/2/14147148/2017-nfl-strength-of-schedule-for-all-32-nfl-teams

http://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/04/20/green-bay-packers-2017-schedule/100585542/

Why Teams Really Don’t Want Kaepernick

                                                    

Back in week 11 of 2012 The 49ers let second year QB Colin Kaepernick get his first NFL start against the Bears. The result was beating the Bears 32-7 at home, which sparked a Super Bowl run that resulted in a 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The 49ers would return to the NFC Championship game the following season only to lose 23-17 to divisional rival Seattle. Since then things have changed dramatically, Kap has lost and regained his job repeatedly throughout the last 3 years, and the 49ers haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013. Kap’s inconsistent play coupled with his refusal to salute the flag, but rather take a knee for reasons of protesting the corrupt justice system’s ways of being racially unfair against blacks and other minorities have made him an unwanted free agent.

A lot of people have been speculating why Kaepernick hasn’t been picked up by a team after being released by the 49ers and have come up with several reasons that dance around the obvious. One article has cited that Kap’s Vegan diet and commitment to the game as reasons why he’s not a viable pick for any team, but we all know that’s not the case at all. Teams may claim he’d be a distraction, but the real reason is that these teams are afraid that of Kap, is because they don’t want to deal with his protesting, which may in turn hurt the team’s reputation. Kaepernick has played okay the past three years, throwing 41 Touchdown passes Vs. 20 Interceptions, and has amassed a QB rating of 81.5 since 2014. He still has the ability to scramble out of the pocket and hurt defenses on the run, so talent wise, he can still pull it off. The 49ers have struggled the past few years for more pressing reasons, getting rid of Head Coach Jim Harbaugh hurt the team immensely, when Harbaugh was fired, the team started to fall apart, sparking the bad luck of the last 3 years. The talent around Kaepernick hasn’t been that strong either, offensively, the 49ers ranked 25th in 2014, 32nd in 2015, and 27th in 2016. But Kaepernick has been one of the few elements of the team that has been successful. The 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan on February 6th, as their new head coach, and it looks as if he’ll have QB questions on his hands.  Kaepernick is a free agent and the QB’s on the 49ers’ roster don’t conjure up much confidence.

Kaepernick has been a very polarizing figure the past year or so since he infamously kneeled during the nation anthem, as long as teams continue to make excuses for Kap not being a team worthy asset, the more obvious it is to me that they don’t want the added attention on their team or the scrutiny from the media over this. Their reputations are too precious for these teams to maintain to hire a wildcard that certainly still has enough talent to get the job done.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/2016.htm

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/2015.htm

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/2014.htm

https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonogus/2017/04/03/nfl-teams-reportedly-concerned-about-colin-kaepernicks-commitment-and-vegan-diet/#4f3f391f170f  

Rodgers or Favre

                                                               Who’s the Better Quarterback?

                                                                           Favre or Rodgers 

They’re arguably two of the greatest football players of all-time, one being a maverick Gunslinger that held many records in the NFL for a few years. The other, a former pupil that has managed to forge his own uniquely impressive career. Both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre have brought many joyous moments to the Green Bay Packers in the past 25 years, but which one of them is better? Favre may be my favorite player, but is he truly better than Rodgers? What are you looking for in an NFL QB? Do you want the risk taker or the more efficient player that makes better decisions most of the time? The following are my opinions on the ups and downs of both players, and I ask that anyone who reads this and is angered by my thoughts to accept the fact that these are OPINIONS, and not facts, let’s get started.

The most pressing thing to look at first is the ratings of both Favre and Rodgers, Favre may be a Hall of Famer, but his rating is only 86.0 and he holds the record for most interceptions in NFL history, (336). Rodgers on the other hand has been in the NFL for 13 years and only has 72 interceptions versus 297 touchdown passes. Giving Rodgers a 104.1 career QB rating, making him the highest rated QB in NFL History, as well as the only QB to have a rating of 100.0 or more. Favre was best known for taking chances that sometimes worked out, and other times, not so much. He had a lot of confidence in his arm, and sometimes there’d be costly mistakes on his part from taking chances. In 2010, Favre led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game against the Saints and threw a costly pick when he should’ve tried to scramble on a crucial play that ended up costing the Vikings the game. Now while Rodgers hasn’t had much luck in the past two NFC title games that he’s been a part of, he most likely would’ve taken the open lane and run for it.

Another trait of Rodgers that Favre didn’t show off as much of in his career is his ability to scramble and extend plays. If you could get pressure on Favre he’d be more liable to throw costly turnovers, Rodgers on the other hand can be just as dangerous on the run as he is in a clean pocket. Rodgers has made hundreds of great throws while on the run and usually those occur in the redzone and go for touchdowns as well. Also, he’s great at going for a run if he can’t find a receiver and instead finds a running lane to exploit. Rodgers has 25 rushing scores and 2544 rushing yards in his career, he even ran for a career high 369 yards in 2016. Favre, while a creative playmaker in his earlier days only has 1844 rushing yards and 14 rushing scores in his career.

However, Favre does have a few elements of his game that Rodgers isn’t very prolific at, Favre started 321 games in a row in his career, (Including the Playoffs) Rodgers has missed several games in his career during 2013 when he broke his collarbone. Favre never missed a game from 1992 to December 5th, 2010 but that ended when the Vikings played the New York Giants the following week. Favre has played through several painful injuries, including, A Separated Shoulder, Broken Thumb, and has suffered several concussions throughout his career. To be fair Rodgers has played through pain too, like a slightly torn calf muscle in 2014, and he managed to play well the final two weeks of the season. He also separated his shoulder back in 2008, (His First Year as a starter) and managed to beat Seattle on the road that year after suffering the injury. In 2016 He suffered another calf injury during a week 12 game in Philadelphia, which sparked the 6 game winning streak to end the season and got Green Bay into the playoffs. But still, Favre is the epitome of playing with pain so one of two points will go to Favre as I partake in my second point for Favre.

Who would you want at QB when the game is on the line, Favre or Rodgers? Favre has pulled off 30 game winning come backs in his career. While Rodgers is a great player in his own right, he only has 10 comebacks to his name, meaning that Favre has saved the day three times as much in the clutch compared to Rodgers. In fact, Favre’s first NFL win was a result of a game winning 35 yard touchdown pass to Kitrick Taylor that sparked his legendary career in Green Bay. So both Favre and Rodgers are tied in terms of things one can do better than the other, can Rodgers somehow break the tie? Let’s look at or final category and find out!

The final aspect I want to look at is whether or not one of these fine players were able to generate championships in their time as starters for the Green and Gold. In that case, both Rodgers and Favre are tied in that aspect as well. Favre may have gone to two straight Super Bowls back to back, but he only won one title. Rodgers has only won one title too, and he also won the MVP award in Super Bowl XLV, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. Favre beat the Patriots in 1997 35-21, but lost to Denver the following year 31-24. Rodgers may still be undefeated in the big game, but so far he’s only been to a Super Bowl once, despite having several chances to make it back since the 2010 season, as has Favre. So it all really comes down to who you’d prefer to have as your signal caller. Rodgers is only 33, so he does have some time to win a second Lombardi Trophy before he hangs’em up. Favre will have to relish the one ring he has and all the other accomplishments he has made over the course of his career. I may think Rodgers is the better player statistically, but at the end of the day, both players are the same in terms of bringing joy to Packer fans everywhere. It’s just that Rodgers is more safe with his ball handling than Favre’s, but it doesn’t matter who’s your guy under center, as long as he can make more good plays than bad, then have fun watching your hero play.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Favre

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/F/FavrBr00.htm

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/RodgAa00.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Rodgers