Category Archives: Football

Offseason Day 1 Starts Right Now

I know what you’re thinking. We’re all thinking it. It’s the worst combination of four words in the human language.

Football season is over.

Let us take a moment of silence for a fantastic NFL season. Honestly one of the best seasons of the past decade that I can remember. The regular season brought us teams that no one expected to do well like the Rams and Jaguars, and gave us one of the greatest underdog victories the Super Bowl has ever had to offer.

But now that it’s all over it’s time to talk offseason moves.

As a Bears fan this post will be mostly Bears related.

First off I want to start by talking about the future of the team. I believe in Ryan Pace and I like the vision that he has put in place for this team. He knows this team is young and I like the style of offense for Trubisky to develop under.

He is a phenomenal athlete and I believe that the west coast style offense will be the best system for him to get acclimated under. It is all about quick throws and there is always a hot route in case the pocket collapses.

I also like the move of bringing in Mark Helfrich as OC. I like the RPO scheme that he specializes in and ran at Oregon. I believe it is the future of football. With Trubisky being a good athlete, teams will have to be mindful of him as a runner as well making him that much more dynamic.

I fully believe in Trubearsky and I am all in on Ryan Pace and the rebuild. I expect the Bears to make strides at contending in two years time.

They have a great young defense who finished in the top half of the league and get their DC back in Vic Fangio who I believe was one of the best moves Pace made so far this offseason. A familiar face at the coaching position is always a good thing for a young defense.

With that being said the Bears are two years away from contending if and only if they continue to make the right moves. So let’s talk about this offseason and the moves they HAVE to make.

The Bears are in a great spot in the draft sitting at 8. It’s a spot where they can do just about anything they want. They don’t need a QB so the potential for Darnold, Rosen, Allen and Mayfield aren’t even on their minds, which is a huge plus.

What I hope to see from the draft:

OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame — Round 1

Protecting Trubearsky (copyright pending) is going to be a KEY next season. For him to develop properly he will need to have 100% trust in his line. The Bears already have a good interior line, one of the best, with Guards Kyle Long and Josh Sitton, and Center Cody Whitehair. In 468 pass-blocking situations, Sitton only gave up 6 QB hurries. On the other hand, their Tackles this year were miserable. Bobbie Massie and Charles Leno, Jr. gave up 73 QB hurries. It is clear the Bears need to get more athletic at the Tackle position because defensive ends are only getting bigger, stronger and faster.

Quenton Nelson is a fierce blocker. Plug him in on the line and he immediately makes them better. He can pull, trap and is a good enough athlete to stop speedy pass rushers. This will be huge for the Bears because there is nothing better than a good offensive line to protect a young and inexperienced Quarterback.

If they go with the defense and Tremaine Edmunds, ILB Virginia Tech, is there, I wouldn’t be upset with that pick either. He’s a versatile athlete who can play multiple positions. Edmunds is a great pass rusher as a linebacker due to his great speed. He had 14.0 TFL for a total of -52 yards. He had a whopping 60 tackles and 49 assists this past year. Not to mention the 5.5 sacks he had this year as a linebacker. It is no wonder scouts are foaming at the mouth over this guy.

I would also be okay if a guy like Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Alabama, fell and the Bears snagged him. Minkah is a flat-out beast. I have been following Alabama football since I was probably 12 years old and Minkah has been one of the cores to the Alabama defense that has awarded him with two National Championships. In his junior year contest Fitzpatrick finished with 60 total tackles, eight of those for a loss. He corralled just one interception and had 7 pass deflections.

I have seen a lot of mock drafts, per Matt Miller and Mel Kiper Jr., that the Bears will take Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama, with the eighth pick. If this happens I will cut all ties with Pace and lose all trust in his vision. If they take Ridley in the draft they will have wasted every bit of progress they’ve made so far. There are far more needs in the draft than a wide receiver that early. There are plenty of receivers in this draft and the Bears could end up getting a steal at that position much later.

Talking about receivers, let’s shift gears toward free agency. The Bears biggest FA targets should be WR’s. There are a lot of talented proven veterans in the league that could immediately impact the Bears terrible receiving core, like Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins. The 25 year-old is my number one target. He is a guy with great hands, who will make plays for Trubisky in the 50-50 balls. He is simply put a pass catcher. Only AB and Julio Jones have caught more passes since coming in the league. He’s not a No. 1 guy, so the Bears will be able to save money on him as well. His downfall is that he is a little slow. Only a 4.77 40 guy, he lacks explosiveness and at times fails to create lots of space.

Next acquisition is Paul Richardson, WR Seattle Seahawks. Richardson is by no means a flashy guy. But he works hard. He has been a great option for Russell Wilson and is coming off a career best year where he caught SEVEN touchdowns. He started 13 games this year and caught 44 of his 80 targets for 703 yards. A really good year for him might draw his price up, but I am sure the Bears will not overspend on a guy like Richardson.

Finally, my third FA target is Jimmy Graham, TE Seattle Seahawks. I know what you’re thinking, why wouldn’t he be my number one target? A proven guy who has had great success on both the Saints and Seahawks. His production went down significantly after his trade to the Hawks but he had a great season last year corralling 57 receptions for 520 yards and 10 Touchdowns. Graham is a big body and one of the best most reliable tight ends in the league. So after hearing all this you’re probably wondering why he’s target number three. Well, he’s 31 years old and has battle injuries throughout his career. Getting Graham would be big for the Bears because of the style of Offense that Nagy runs. Look at Travis Kelce, Nagy practically made his career. The Bears already have a good young tight end in Adam Shaheen who shows lots of promise in the near future. If the Bears can get Graham on a team friendly deal he could be a great weapon for Trubisky. Shoot, I mean Trubearsky (copyright still pending) and a good person for Shaheen to learn under and split downs with.

The time is now for the Bears to make some noise. The potential in the pot is about to boil over, and this could be the year where things start to shift gears in the Windy City.

You Can’t Blame It All On Bill O’Brien

In Bill O’Brien’s first 3 seasons as the Head Coach of the Houston Texans, the defining factors have been instability at quarterback and injuries; though the Texans have finished (9-7) in each of the 3 seasons. Now in his 4th season sitting at (4-10), fans and critics believe this one will be his last.

It all began when Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Houston Texans have traded with the Cleveland Browns for the #12 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. This was followed by words Texans fans have been waiting for since the “glory” days of David Carr. “The Houston Texans have selected Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson”. As Hall of Fame Head Coach Don Shula said, “Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck”. Finally, after having started more quarterbacks (9) than any other team since Bill O’Brien took over in 2014, Houston had found their franchise quarterback.

Fast-Forward prior to Week 1 when Bill O’Brien announced Tom Savage would be the Houston Texans starter. Of course, there were many who despised the decision; however, I was not one of them. I fully understood O’Brien’s reasoning. It can be compared to the situation involving Jared Goff in Los Angeles. Drafting a franchise quarterback is all about working towards the future. Give the rookie some time to watch and learn.

Nevertheless, Savage’s stint as the starting quarterback ended after losing the first game of the season to Jacksonville. After the game, Brian Cushing was suspended 10 games without pay for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Watson was named the starter for Week 2 and for the next six games he demonstrated to his teammates, the front office, and the fans that he was here to stay.

Sitting at 2-2 entering Week 5, the Houston Texans appeared to be getting better week after week. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end for the Texans 2017 season.

During Week 5 against Kansas City, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg, which ended his 2017 season. It was the second year in a row Watt’s season has ended due to an injury. In the same game, 2016 2nd Team All-Pro Linebacker Whitney Mercilus suffered a torn pectoral ending his 2017 season as well. Tight Ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin who have a combined 9 years of NFL experience has been on injured reserve for the majority of the season.

After the Week 8 loss at Seattle, offensive tackle anchor Duane Brown was traded to the Seahawks after holding out of his contract desiring a higher salary. This led to a gaping hole in the offensive line unit, which allowed a season-high 10 sacks to Jacksonville in the season home opener.

Did the Committee Get it Right?

The picks are in: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama are your top four teams in college football. The committee debated and made an absolute statement by putting Alabama in over Ohio State and here’s why:

When you take the two teams and compare their schedule, Ohio State has the wins. They have a statement win over Penn State, Michigan State and won their conference beating Wisconsin. Alabama has wins over LSU, Mississippi State, and (I will put it in there) Florida State. I know that FSU sucks this year and is in absolute disarray right now with Jimbo Fisher leaving but I still count that win because 1. Francois got hurt in the fourth quarter and the game had already been decided, and 2. If you watched that game Alabama absolutely beat up on Florida State especially while Francois was in. That game was a statement of itself and hurting Francois meant nothing in the outcome. With a healthy Francois I think FSU has the talent to be a top 10 team so hypothetically I’m throwing them in there, if you don’t want to that is understandable.

In the past the committee has stressed to get in you have to win your conference. I know Alabama didn’t win theirs. They didn’t even make it, I know that, but the committee knew what they were doing the whole time. If they wanted to give OSU a chance to make the playoff they would have moved them up further after the Michigan week. They were sitting at #9 that week, and if the committee felt they should be in they would’ve moved them up to #6 or #7, essentially making the Big Ten Championship a play-in game. They knew all along that OSU didn’t deserve to be in there because they had the Iowa game playing over and over in the back of their mind. Snubbed?? I would not say that. Unfortunate?? Definitely.

Here’s another reason they chose Alabama. MONEYYYY. Money makes the college football playoff go round. With all the controversy this year as to what teams should be in, I am positive that all of the games will break records in viewership.

Here’s an interesting little thought about the SEC championship game that a lot of people didn’t think about. Georgia lost to Auburn at Auburn, Georgia avenged that loss in Atlanta. So if you think about it, each team won on their home turf. So what then, round 3???? See who gets in? In a way, they did just that.

Alabama and Clemson will meet for the third time in a row and I can’t wait for the showdown. Personally I think Alabama is the best team in the country behind Clemson. I know I’m a little bias but I think they have too much talent and too good of a coach to not be. If you think Nick Saban is going to let Clemson walk all over them you’re just wrong. I expect an absolute bloodbath that game. There’s one reason Bama blew it late last year and that man is currently (well not exactly) playing on Sundays and his name is Deshaun Watson. Experience won in that case. Watson had been there before as a Sophomore against Bama and he lost. The next year against a true freshman Jalen Hurts he was not going to let the same thing happen. Now the roles are reversed. Hurts, a sophomore, played in the National Championship game last year and I can bet you he’ll use that experience to help him this time around. On the other hand, Kelly Bryant has never played in that big of a game before. However, he had sat behind Watson for quite some time and obviously didn’t miss a beat when they lost him to the draft. I think that was too good of a game to pass up and the committee knew that. 

I can’t wait for next year though to watch Georgia-Auburn part III because that’ll be a game for ages. An experienced Jake Fromm who already as a true freshman has taken the reigns from someone everyone thought was going to be a god, Jacob Eason, and took them to the CFP. Kirby Smart is the PERFECT fit for that school. Plus another year with Jarrett Stidham at Auburn and Gus Malzahn staying is going to be fun to watch so mark your calendars.

Will Texas Football Rise From the Ashes?

Growing up during the Mack Brown era, winning seasons was a way of life. It so happens that the first season I actually remember is the year Vince Young scrambled for a 9 yard touchdown on 4th down to defeat USC in the National Championship Game.

The 8 years that followed featured 4- 10 win seasons, 7 bowl game appearances, 5 bowl wins, 1 National Championship appearance, and only 1 losing season. Since Mack Brown resigned after the 2013 Alamo Bowl, Texas has had two 5-win seasons and two head coaches.

After hiring Tom Herman from Houston last January, Texas fans were already talking about the College Football Playoff. Herman had compiled a 22-4 record in 2 years as the head coach of the Houston Cougars. Fans expected Herman to replicate those 2 years in his first year at the helm of the Longhorn football program. Unfortunately for Longhorn fans, this was not the case.

The first game under Tom Herman started with a bang. Maryland’s quarterback Tyrell Pigrome threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Holton Hill. After that, it was all Maryland. Maryland scored 27 unanswered points and Texas fans’ morales changed in an instant. Texas ended up dropping their first game under Tom Herman 51-41. Questions circulated about offensive/defensive play calling, the personnel being used, and issues with the kicking game.

Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a season that no one expected.

Tim Beck’s offense displayed little to no progress throughout the year. It’s ridiculous. The same plays were called time and time again, regardless of the success rate. They had trouble finishing drives in the end zone, closing out drives with 6 points became something Horns fans could only dream of, especially from inside the red zone.

Speaking of the wondrous 6 points, the Longhorns couldn’t rely on kicker Josh Rowland to put up 3 points. Rowland finished the year 10 of 17 on field goal attempts with 2 of them being blocked.

On a higher note, Todd Orlando’s defense progressed significantly throughout the season. After giving up 51 points in the season opener, the next highest number of points they gave up was 34. They held five ranked teams to under 30 points, yet only one of those games was capped off with a victory.

Junior punter Michael Dickson was my MVP for the Horns this season. Dickson, a Ray Guy Award Finalist for the second time, punted 73 times with 32 downed inside the 20 yard line, 34 punts of 50-yards or more, and a long of 76 yards. As great of a player as Dickson is, the punter is never thought of to be the team MVP. Throughout this season, there was one constant: Dickson’s incredible punting abilities.

The first year under Tom Herman was unexpected to say the least. Reaching a bowl game for the first time in 3 years will hopefully be a confidence booster going into next season. All of this being said, I have faith in Tom Herman moving forward. He is a proven coach with an excellent track record and I believe he is the right man for the job. The freshman class, led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger, has the potential to lead Texas back in to the college football spotlight that Horns fans dream of year after year.

MY CFB PLAYOFF TOP 4

Let me just say that I am not a big fan of the way the college football playoff teams are selected. I don’t even know how I would fix it but I just don’t like it at all. I would love to make it an 8 team playoff and just stretch out the games an extra week, it would be an easy fix. There are more than 4 teams each year deserving to fight for the natty. Look at Penn State last year or USC, both teams coming into the postseason red hot but neither of them could make it due to losses in September. Just pick the 4 best teams and don’t look so much into all of the other politics of it. Here’s my top 4 after this weekend’s games

1. Alabama

I don’t even see an argument here. Even when Georgia was at 1 it didn’t make any sense. Bama is so obviously the best team in the country. They have the experience, the best coach in history, and the most amount of talent in the country. Bama faces a tough test next week against Auburn but even with a loss, they probably get in. That won’t be an issue though. Alabama will wipe the floor next week at the Iron Bowl and get ready for another top 10 face off with Georgia in the SEC Championship. All that Bama really has to do over the next 2 weeks is win 1 game and they’ll be in.

2. Oklahoma

I think there is something to say in the rankings for a team with the best player in the country (excluding Saquan Barkley). They have 1 loss to a very solid Iowa State team who has actually been surprisingly decent especially after they beat Oklahoma. The Sooners might not have the best defense but Baker Mayfield is literally never out of a game. They get West Virginia next weekend at home possibly without an injured Will Grier which won’t be a problem then the Big 12 title game against TCU most likely. Oklahoma should win out and get into the playoff and get the respect they and Baker deserve.

3. Clemson/Miami

These teams are completely interchangeable for me because they play in the ACC Championship in two weekends. Miami gets Pitt on Friday after Thanksgiving and Clemson gets a solid South Carolina team. Assuming neither of these teams trip up next weekend the winner of the ACC Championship game will get into the playoff. Even if Miami loses the ACC Championship and that is their only loss they’re not getting in as a 1 loss team most likely. Clemson will get in even with a horrible loss at Syracuse. That’s the Dabo effect and some recency bias. I love Miami but something tells me they can’t be counted on. I could totally see them losing to Pitt but if not Clemson should take care of them. Clemson will be in.

4. Ohio State/Wisconsin

Yeah, I can’t believe it either but I think Ohio State will sneak into the top 4. Lets see how: Ohio State will handle Michigan next weekend and Wisconsin will finish at 12-0 after wasting their time next Saturday against Minnesota. Wisconsin doesn’t seem legit to me; they have played absolutely no one and you can say they beat Michigan but that’s the only ranked team they’ve played, they played them at home, and Michigan was only ranked because of Jim Harbaugh’s presence. I can see Ohio State as a double digit favorite against Wisconsin in Indy and when Ohio State beats Wisconsin, the Badgers will be out of the playoff with that terrible strength of schedule. I think everyone can agree that a 2 loss Ohio State team is still better than a 1 loss Badger squad. Ohio State needs Bama to beat Auburn which will knock them out, Bama to beat Georgia in the SEC title game which would knock them out, and hope the committee sees them as better than either a 2 loss Clemson team (which they will) or a 1 loss Miami team (still to be seen).

First 2 out with no chance

Above I have the teams that still have a possible chance. You can say Auburn does and Georgia does but I’m just assuming they lose to Bama because it’s Bama. I really only see a path for those 6 teams so here are the top 2 teams that don’t have a path to the playoff.

  1. Penn State

This Nittany Lion team is absolutely legit. They lost 2 games on the road to ranked teams by a combined 4 points. Just tough luck for James Franklin. They have the best running back that I’ve seen since Reggie Bush in Saquan Barkley and a very capable quarterback in Trace McSorley. They will not be playing in the Big 10 championship game like last year and will probably finish at 10-2. A 2 loss team that doesn’t win their conference title just doesn’t have a path and that’s the tough part about a 4 team playoff because this team is legit.

2. USC

The Trojans are in a very similar position to Penn State except they’ll have a chance to play in their conference title game. They have a top 5 NFL pick also in Sam Darnold and are an exciting team to watch. USC obviously wont get into the playoff but I’d love to see a USC and Penn State bowl game rematch, wouldn’t you?