Sunday, August 10, 2014

Officials Steal the Show in Week 1 of Preseason

During the offseason the league informed all 32 teams that there would be stricter enforcement of certain penalties in 2014. For example, illegal contact beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage. The result? Yellow flags galore. I went to cbssports and viewed the statistics for every Week 1 preseason game and added up the total number of penalties called and yardage, and the numbers were staggering. Between the sixteen games that took place, there were 273 penalties called for 2,320 yards. The average number of penalties called per game was 17 for 145 yards. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find out the specifics, like how many of the penalties called were the result of illegal contact by a defensive player, but the league's modus operandi is blatantly obvious.

It's just like what happened a decade ago. In 2004 the NFL decided to more strictly enforce the rule prohibiting defensive backs from making contact with receivers more than five-yards past the line of scrimmage. What caused the change was the pure dominance of the New England Patriots' defense, particularly their secondary.

Fast forward a ten years, after the league's highest-scoring offense gets shut down by the league's best defense in the Super Bowl, and it seems that history is repeating itself.

It's important to understand that the NFL is a business, and that the most important thing to Roger Goodell and the team owners is money. And what draws in viewers? High scoring games. Hard core football fans, such as myself, appreciate good defense. But the more points that are scored, the more people tune in to the games. This is yet another example of Commissioner Roger Goodell's lack of integrity.

At this rate, the saying "defense wins championships" will no longer be reign true.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Projected 53-Man Roster: Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions
LAST UPDATED: 1:16 PM August 25, 2014

Quarterback (2)- Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky
Running Back (3)- Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Theo Riddick
Fullback (2)- Jed Collins, Montell Owens
Wide Receiver (6)- Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree, Jeremy Ross, Kris Durham
Tight End (3)- Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria
Offensive Center/Guard (5)- Dominic Raiola, Rob Sims, Larry Warford, Travis Swanson, Rodney Austin
Offensive Tackle (3)- Reilly Reiff, LaAdrian Waddle, Cornelius Lucas
Defensive Tackle (4)- Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosley, Caraun Reid
Defensive End (5)- Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, Devin Taylor, George Johnson, Larry Webster
Linebacker (7)- Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Kyle Van Noy, Tahir Whitehead, Ashlee Palmer, Travis Lewis, Brandon Hepburn
Defensive Back (10)- Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo, Darius Slay, Rashean Mathis, Bill Bentley, Cassius Vaughn, Nevin Lawson, Don Carey, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Chris Greenwood
Kicker (1)- Nate Freese
Punter (1)- Sam Martin
Long Snapper (1)- Don Muhlbach

Physically Unable to Perform- T.J. Jones

*Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Under the Radar Breakout Candidates

A few months ago I published a list containing second-year players who I believe will have breakout performances in 2014. Just the other day it hit me- why am I not talking about the other guys who are going to burst onto the scene this season? This is long over due, but here are some of the more seasoned players -- who are flying under the radar -- who I expect to have breakout performances in 2014.

Toby Gerhart- After spending the first four years of his pro career in the shadow of the league's most dominant running back, Gerhart is no longer stuck behind Adrian Peterson. Entering his fifth season in the league, Gerhart is "the guy" in Jacksonville. With little wear and tear -- he's only accumulated 276 carries in his career -- there's plenty of reasons to believe he will be the bruising runner he showed glimpses of in Minnesota. I fully expect him to be a bell-cow for the Jaguars' offense and be very productive.

Willie Young- Drafted by the Lions in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Willie Young will be playing his former team at least two times this season after signing a three-year deal with the Chicago Bears. Young won't be a starter, but with veteran Jared Allen's play counts numbered, Young is going to see plenty of time on the field. And in an impressive defensive line rotation, I expect him to compile at least six sacks this season and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

Nick Foles- One could argue that 2013 was Foles' breakout year, throwing 27 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. However, I would disagree with that assessment. Why? Because this season he is the incumbent starter and will build off of his impressive 2013 campaign. I expect big production from Foles in 2014. He'll certainly throw more interceptions, but he'll also throw more touchdowns.

Ladarius Green- Philip Rivers' safety blanket for the past decade, tight end Antonio Gates, is 34-years old. While his production (872 yards in 2013) may not show his declination, Gates' athleticism does, and his playmaking ability has taken a hit as a result. Enter third-year tight end Ladarius Green. It's taken time for him to develop his game, but last season we saw glimpses of the kind of player Green is capable of being. He's big (6'6", 240lbs.) and fast (4.45 40-yard dash), and should see an increased role in the offense this season.

Andrew Hawkins- While wide receiver Andrew Hawkins may not look like much -- he stands 5-feet 7-inches and weighs 175-pounds -- he's proven to be an effective player in the slot. After spending his first three seasons in Cincinnati, the 27-year old will be playing for a division foe, the Cleveland Browns. And if star wide receiver Josh Gordon is suspended, Hawkins is going to see a lot more passes thrown his way this year.

*Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference
*Contract details courtesy of Spotrac

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Commissioner Goodell sending a bad message to the players and public

"Breaking news: Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice has been suspended for the first two games of the regular season," is what I read along the ticker at the bottom of the television screen on the NFL Network. Really, that's it? Just two games? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's views on discipline are greatly distorted, in my opinion.

The message that the Commissioner is sending to the players, and to the public, is that smoking marijuana is a more serious crime than domestic violence. That's certainly the message I'm receiving, considering that Cleveland Browns' wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing a potential one-year suspension for using marijuana while Ray Rice, who was caught on camera physically assaulting his wife, has been suspended a mere two games.

In no way am I justifying Gordon's usage of marijuana, the fact remains that it's illegal and he knew that he would be punished by the league if caught using it, and he should be disciplined. But, how can marijuana usage call for severer consequences than domestic violence? Please, someone enlighten me as to where exactly the logic lies in Commissioner Goodell's reasoning, because I sure as hell can't see it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Projected 53-Man Roster: Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens
LAST UPDATED: 1:44 PM August 25, 2014 

Quarterback (2)- Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
Running Back (4)- Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Fitzgerald Toussaint
Fullback (1)- Kyle Juszczyk
Wide Receiver (6)- Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown, Deonte Thompson, Kamar Aiken
Tight End (3)- Dennis Pitta, Owen Daniels, Crockett Gilmore
Offensive Center/Guard (5)- Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osmele, Gino Gradkowski, John Urschel
Offensive Tackle (3)- Eugene Monroe, Ricky Wagner, James Hurst
Nose Tackle (2)- Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams
Defensive End (4)- Chris Canty, Timmy Jernigan, Pernell McPhee, DeAngelo Tyson
Linebacker (9)- Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Arthur Brown, John Simon, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan
Defensive Back (9)- Matt Elam, Terrence Brooks, Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Darian Stewart, Chykie Brown, Asa Jackson, Anthony Levine, Derek Cox
Kicker (1)- Justin Tucker
Punter (1)- Sam Koch
Long Snapper (1)- Morgan Cox

Suspended- Ray Rice (first two games of reg. season), Will Hill (first six games of reg. season)
Injured Reserve- Aaron Ross, Brent Urban, Kapron Lewis-Moore

*Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Projected 53-Man Roster: Washington

LAST UPDATED: 6:42 PM August 25, 2014

Quarterback (3)- Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
Running Back (4)- Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Lache Seastrunk, Silas Redd
Fullback (1)- Darrel Young
Wide Receiver (6)- Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Ryan Grant
Tight End (3)- Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul
Offensive Center/Guard (5)- Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvo, Chris Chester, Spencer Long, Shaun LeRibeus
Offensive Tackle (4)- Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus, Morgan Moses, Tom Compton
Nose Tackle (2)- Barry Cofield, Chris Baker
Defensive End (5)- Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Stephen Bowen, Clifton Geathers
Linebacker (7)- Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Akeem Jordan, Trent Murphy, Adam Hayward, Everette Brown
Defensive Back (9)- Ryan Clark, Bacarri Rambo, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, E.J. Biggers, Phillip Thomas, Bashaud Breeland, Richard Crawford
Kicker (1)- Zach Hocker
Punter (1)- Robert Malone
Long Snapper (1)- Nick Sundberg

Suspended- Brandon Meriweather (first two games of reg. season)

*Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Projected 53-Man Roster: Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans
LAST UPDATED: 1:08 PM August 25, 2014

Quarterback (3)- Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst, Zach Mettenberger
Running Back (4)- Bishop Sankey, Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, Leon Washington
Wide Receiver (6)- Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Dexter McCluster, Michael Preston, Derek Hagan
Tight End (3)- Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson
Offensive Center/Guard (5)- Brian Schwenke, Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, Chris Spencer, Eric Olsen
Offensive Tackle (3)- Michael Roos, Taylor Lewan, Michael Oher
Nose Tackle (2)- Sammie Hill, DaQuan Jones
Defensive End (5)- Jurrell Casey, Ropati Pitoitua, Mike Martin, Al Woods, Karl Klug
Linebacker (9)- Wesley Woodyard, Zach Brown, Derrick Morgan, Akeem Ayers, Shaun Phillips, Kamerion Wimbley, Avery Williamson, Zaviar Gooden, Patrick Bailey
Defensive Back (10)- Bernard Pollard, Michael Griffin, Jason McCourty, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Coty Sensabaugh, Damion Stafford, Marqueston Huff, George Wilson, Tommie Campbell, Khalid Wooten
Kicker (1)- Travis Coons
Punter (1)- Brett Kern
Long Snapper (1)- Beau Brinkley

Injured Reserve- Dorin Dickerson, Colin McCarthy

*Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads