Rough Times Ahead for Rookie QBs

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It’s about that time of year. Teams are realizing that it’s time to start their young quarterback over the old veteran who is seemingly a stop gap until the young quarterback is deemed ready. At least that’s the case for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and QB Blake Bortles, who will make his first career NFL start at San Diego on Sunday.

It could also be that the veteran got hurt and the young quarterback is being pressed into action, as is the case with QB Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings, who also makes his first NFL start on Sunday.

Bortles and Bridgewater join fellow rookie QB Derek Carr as the only rookie quarterbacks starting in the NFL.

Blake Bortles (above) will make his first NFL start on Sunday.

Blake Bortles (above) will make his first NFL start on Sunday.

Through his first 3 games, Carr has led the Oakland Raiders to an 0-3 record. Bortles inherits that same record now that he’s taking over for the Jaguars. On the other hand, Bridgewater is handed a 1-2 start, but is also without his team’s best player, RB Adrian Peterson, for the foreseeable future.

This all amounts to what is about to be a long season for these players. There will be a few exciting plays, and flashes of what each of these players could do in the future, but overall, I expect each of these teams to inherit a top-5 draft pick at season’s end. In my opinion, I think Bortles has the best chance to win some games early. The AFC South is one of the weakest divisions in football this year, and the Jaguars have a group of young receivers that are new to the league and eager to make plays. This could make for some exciting finishes down the stretch. On the other hand, Bridgewater doesn’t have any playmakers besides WR Cordarrelle Patterson, and Carr’s cast around him hasn’t been impressive in the slightest thus far.

Of course, the 2014 season is all about the future with these teams, and by starting these players now, these teams are saying, “the future is now!”

Turmoil In Birdland

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Just when everything was going right for the Philadelphia Eagles, corner back Cary Williams thought it necessary to complain about coach Chip Kelly’s intense practices.

Williams argued that the defense, including himself, was exhausted, even before playing against Washington on Sunday.

What happened to being happy with a win? The Eagles are 3-0. Why did Williams find it necessary to say this now?

Cary Williams (above) ripped Chip Kelly's practices after Sunday's win vs. the Redskins.

Cary Williams (above) ripped Chip Kelly’s practices after Sunday’s win vs. the Redskins.

Overall, this doesn’t make sense to me for a couple of reasons. First off, the Eagles, as a whole, have played much better in the second half of games this year. If players truly are tired, how are they able to perform better in the second half of games? I would believe that it’s because the Eagles are in better shape than other teams, and are able to perform at a higher level when their opponents are tired.

Kelly has noted practice, dietary, and nutrition techniques that are very detailed. However, hasn’t he shown that these techniques work? Kelly compiled a 46-7 record when he was the Head Coach at Oregon, and led Philadelphia to a 10-6 record and an NFC East crown in his first season in the NFL. It’s also worth noting that Williams was on the team last season as well.

Of course, Williams has apologized in the media and the locker room after Kelly said that he would speak with the corner back privately. The whole situation just seemed a bit unnecessary, especially considering the team is only one of three teams to be 3-0, and is going into a big game against the San Francisco 49ers. Let’s hope the Eagles have some rest; the 49ers will be a true test to see if the Eagles can be considered contenders.

Ray Rice Commentary

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What an unbelievable shock. It even took me a few days to fully collect my thoughts and understand how I feel about the incident for me to even consider putting anything in writing. This situation is highly sensitive and controversial. I needed to be sure of what I was going to say before I said it, essentially.

Ray Rice (above, right) has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL.

Ray Rice (above, right) has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL.

First off, any type of domestic violence is wrong, but the video that was revealed to the public on Monday was appalling. Yet, did it not just give us a picture of a story we already knew? We have known the story of how Rice struck his then fiancee, Janay Palmer (now Janay Rice) knocking her unconscious, and slowly removing her from the elevator. However, Rice received a metaphorical “slap on the wrists” from the judicial system, by having to attend anger management classes. The same treatment was observed by the NFL, who suspended Rice for a measly two games. What changed?

Is it really that the video coming out was enough to terminate Ray Rice’s contract and suspend him indefinitely from the NFL?

Apparently. Apparently we need a picture to fully understand a story that was already told in words.

Like many have said, this is just the beginning of the fall out from this situation. There was already a new domestic violence policy installed in the NFL due to the Rice controversy. Now, there are reports that the NFL has had this video since April, before they handed Rice the two-game suspension. Many are questioning NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the evidence, situation, and suspension. In fact, an independent investigation into the matter is being held, and is headed by the former head of the FBI. If it is found that the NFL had had the video since April, does Goodell lose his job? That would be the biggest implosion of an organization as a whole since Penn State, with Joe Paterno taking the fall for another person’s wrongdoing.

Even past that, what happens when Rice gets reinstated to the NFL? You really didn’t think he’d just disappear, right? The NFL is going to be forced to reinstate him, and most likely within the next year. At that time, Rice would be a free agent, and available to sign with any team. How will teams justify signing him? How would Rice be perceived in the locker room? There is no doubt that these types of questions will be what hurts Rice when trying to find his next team. My guess is that he would have to sign with a team that has a big-name head coach, or someone with a dominant personality that could control the media frenzy and overall situation that would come with bringing in Rice.

All in all, it’s a very sad situation, and something that was preventable. I hope that some good can be found out of this, and that is the awareness to stop domestic violence.

Super Bowl Prediction

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One can’t predict the whole NFL season without talking about the pulse-pounding conclusion, otherwise known as the Super Bowl!

SUPER BOWL

Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots

This would be quite an entertaining match up, as two elite QBs, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, facing off. It would basically

The Super Bowl will be held in Arizona in 2015.

The Super Bowl will be held in Arizona in 2015.

come down to which defense could make more stops. On the surface, both teams look matched pretty evenly offensively, running a similar style offense. Both QBs operate primarily from the pocket, and let their group of talented receivers make plays after they catch the ball. Each team has a set of running backs that bring different running styles to the table. However, the Patriots have one advantage, and that is TE Rob Gronkowski. If he is healthy, Gronk can provide an X-Factor as an almost uncover-able receiver that could give the Packers’ linebackers fits all day.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots made some significant upgrades in CBs Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. This, along with players returning from injury, such as DT Vince Wilfork and LB Jerod Mayo, should lead to New England having a very stout defense. However, the Packers defense will often be their weakness this season, as their secondary remains questionable.

All in all, I think New England is too locked and loaded not to get it together, and bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Prediction: 35-24, Patriots

AFC Predictions

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It’s the first Sunday of the NFL Season and the first slate of games is over….

But there’s still time for some season-long AFC Predictions!

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots 11-5
  2. Miami Dolphins 9-7
  3. New York Jets 4-12
  4. Buffalo Bills 4-12

AFCYet again, I look for the New England Patriots to continue their stranglehold on this division and walk away with the AFC East crown for another season. However, the teams behind them are steadily improving, such as the Miami Dolphins, who I expect to be battling for a playoff spot. The Jets and Bills struggles’ will most likely come from their inexperience at the quarterback position.

 

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5
  2. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
  3. Baltimore Ravens 8-8
  4. Cleveland Browns 5-11

These are where my predictions vary from most. I believe the Steelers will have what it takes to rise to the top of the division this year, while most believe the Bengals will continue their run of division titles. A season of failure will have coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers very hungry for a postseason berth, and they seem primed to make a run. That being said, I still believe Cincinnati will be a playoff team, with Baltimore still struggling to get its footing after its Super Bowl. The Browns will struggle, as usual, eventually leading them to bring in QB Johnny Manziel, who will make some highlight reel plays that will give Cleveland fans hope for the future.

AFC South

  1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
  2. Houston Texans 6-10
  3. Tennessee Titans 5-11
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

This is currently the weakest division in the NFL. The Colts should absolutely run away with this division, but that being said, I can see their weak secondary giving them a few bumps and tough losses along the way. All of the other teams in the division are in their rebuilding, and are in different stages of installing their personnel and team plans. Believe it or not, I think that the Texans are the closest to contention, and should rebound with 4 more wins than last season. The Titans and Jaguars will essentially tread water, and continue to gain experience for their young rosters in hopes of competing in the future.

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos 13-3
  2. San Diego Chargers 10-6
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
  4. Oakland Raiders 3-13

Surprise, surprise, QB Peyton Manning will lead his team back to the playoffs… AGAIN. However, I don’t think he’ll be alone, as the much improved Chargers should be able to separate themselves from the Chiefs and Raiders. Injuries and free agent losses will really take a toll on Kansas City, and I fully expect them to take a step back this season. On the other hand, I think the Raiders will take some steps in the right direction while developing rookie QB Derek Carr. Expect the Raiders to be competitive in some surprising games, but ultimately be a team building for the future.

PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round

Chargers vs. Colts –> 28-24, Colts

Steelers vs. Bengals –> 24-21, Steelers

QB Andrew Luck is a rising star in this league, and has some experience in the playoffs. I fully expect that to serve him well, and to beat the Chargers at home. On the other hand, I can see QB Ben Roethlisberger taking Pittsburgh on the road, and squeaking out a victory against the Bengals.

Divisional Round

Steelers vs. Broncos –> 30-24, Broncos

Colts vs. Patriots –> 35-30, Patriots

Denver will enjoy their week off, and come back to tear up the Pittsburgh secondary, and secure their spot in the AFC Championship game. For the Colts, I believe their season will come to an end, once again, at the hands of QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Isn’t Luck’s career starting eerily similar to P. Manning’s in the way that he struggles against the Patriots in the playoffs? Either way, I believe it comes down to a repeat of last year’ AFC Championship.

NFC Championship Game

Patriots vs. Broncos –> 35-24, Patriots

I know that the Broncos got much better on the defensive side of the ball, but so did the Patriots. I couldn’t see coach Bill Belichick getting back to this game and scenario and letting him slip by again. I fully expect New England to make the necessary adjustments, and make their way back to the Super Bowl.

NFC Predictions

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Can you smell it football fans? Football is back and is mere hours away….NFC

That’s the perfect time to release the NFC predictions for this coming season. It should be an entertaining season, as the league is arguably as talented as ever.

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6
  2. New York Giants 8-8
  3. Washington Redskins 6-10
  4. Dallas Cowboys 5-11

This is the most common order I’ve seen in predictions for the NFC East, but my records are slightly different. I give the Redskins and Cowboys more credit, and believe they will win more games than most cellar teams, but nonetheless, I believe they will bring up the rear. The Eagles high-powered offense is reportedly moving even faster this season, and off season additions plus a second season in the new 3-4 system should bring improvements as well. I also believe the Giants will be much improved this season, with QB Eli Manning looking to rebound off an awful season.

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
  2. Chicago Bears 9-7
  3. Detroit Lions 8-8
  4. Minnesota Vikings 4-12

The Green Bay Packers have QB Aaron Rodgers. That’s an almost guaranteed ticket to the playoffs. I have them taking this division with relative ease, as Chicago and Detroit battle it out for a final wild card spot. All in all, I believe the Bears will take it, as I expect their offense to really take off this season. Detroit will be in an adjustment year under first year head coach, Jim Caldwell. The lowly Vikings will ease rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater along, and bring him partway into this lost season. It will be another wasted season for RB Adrian Peterson, whose window on winning a championship is closing rapidly.

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints 13-3
  2. Atlanta Falcons 7-9
  3. Carolina Panthers 5-11
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-12

This could be the Saints’ year. After additions on defense, and reworking some pieces on offense, QB Drew Brees looks primed to take the Saints on another Super Bowl quest. Of course, it also helps that the NFC South is relatively weak as well. Atlanta is looking to rebound off a miserable season that was ravished by injuries, but they still have many holes on the defensive side of the ball. The team making the biggest fall will be the Panthers, who simply lost too many pieces via free agency. QB Cam Newton has one of the weakest receiving cores in the NFL, and is coming off an off season ankle surgery. The Buccaneers are another team that will be under a first year head coach, but they are also starting QB Josh McCown, who has been a career backup. It looks like a move with the potential to backfire.

NFC West

  1. Seattle Seahawks 14-2
  2. San Francisco 49ers 10-6
  3. Arizona Cardinals 7-9
  4. St. Louis Rams 6-10

The Seahawks will dominate the regular season, and look like experienced vets. Think the Miami Heat of football. Their division rivals, the 49ers, will struggle a little bit more this season, as they have to overcome an injury to LB NaVorro Bowman and a suspension of LB Aldon Smith. Yet, coach Jim Harbaugh will find a way to get his team to the playoffs. However, for the Cardinals and Rams, they will suffer the consequences of playing in the best division in football. The Cardinals are good enough to make the playoffs out of other divisions, but suspensions and injuries will ail them. The same could be said for the Rams, but I believe one drastic move (like acquiring a bonafide QB) and another year of development for young players could put the Rams over the hump in 2015.

PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round

Bears vs. Packers –> 35-24, Packers

49ers vs. Eagles –> 30-24, 49ers

I have the Packers taking down division rival Chicago with relative ease at home. Green Bay is just a superior team to Chicago. On the other hand, the 49ers will invade Philadelphia, and pull out a hard fought win. The Eagles defense is still a year away from helping it contend as one of the NFL’s elite teams.

Divisional Round

49ers vs. Seahawks –> 28-24, Seahawks

Packers vs. Saints –> 35-30, Packers

Another 49ers and Seahawks match up in the postseason will yield the same results in my opinion, as the Carroll-led ‘Hawks will continue their dominance of the Harbaugh-led 49ers. The other game of the divisional round should be an extremely entertaining match up, as Green Bay and New Orleans’ offenses will attempt to match each other all game. In the end, I believe QB Aaron Rodgers will come up with the big play or final drive that gets Green Bay over the hump and into the NFC Championship game.

NFC Championship Game

Packers vs. Seahawks –> 30-24, Packers

Say what!? Yes, I really believe that the Packers can go into Seattle and beat them in the NFC Championship game. If there is a quarterback that could do it, it’s Aaron Rodgers. Also, I just simply don’t believe Seattle can repeat. I feel as if too many breaks will have to go the ‘Hawks ways for them to bring home another Super Bowl ring, while I think the time is right for Rodgers to attempt to add another trophy to his collection.