Marvin Lewis bengals legacy

The complicated legacy of Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati

It has been a week since the first reports that longtime Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis would step down at the end of the season became public. While we have not gotten confirmation from the relevant parties involved, we also have not gotten anything that approaches a denial.

With no playoff wins in 15 years and consecutive seasons of at least nine losses, the opinion of most fans on the potential departure of Lewis is either “good riddance” or “it’s about time.”

If the end is near for Lewis in Cincinnati, the sentiment in the above paragraph is not unwarranted, but it is also not entirely fair. Here is a closer look at the legacy Lewis may be leaving behind in the very near future.

What he walked into

Simply put, Lewis took over the worst franchise in professional sports when he was hired after the 2002 season. The team had not posted a winning record since 1990 and all but two seasons since then had featured double-digit losses. Naturally, the fan base simply did not care. The Bengals were irrelevant in their own city and home games were like funerals.

As bad as that sounds, words on a page alone do not do this period in Bengals history justice. Check out the 12 Days of Christmas parody below from John Bunyan on YouTube. It was done by a Cincinnati radio and television station towards the end of a 2-14 season in 2002. Many coaches would not have even considered this job, and who could blame them?

What he did

However, from the second Lewis was hired, Cincinnati was a different franchise. Perhaps his biggest impact was felt in the draft. Owner Mike Brown has long been known for total control of that aspect of the Bengals organization. In 1999, New Orleans offered its entire draft to Cincinnati in an effort to draft Ricky Williams. Williams did eventually wind up with the Saints, but Brown and the Bengals stayed put and took Oregon quarterback Akili Smith. Smith played four seasons in Cincinnati and never had a passer rating higher than 73.4.

Things were very different under Lewis. It was not so much drafting high profile names like Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton. It was getting guys like Marvin Jones, Geno Atkins, George Iloka, Mohamed Sanu and Domata Peko in the middle rounds. All those players became key contributors on playoff teams for the Bengals. Make no mistake, the owner’s eye for talent did not magically improve. The difference was Lewis.

A.J. Green

Photo from whodeyfans.com

Unfortunately, his 0-7 playoff mark is what Lewis will be remembered for most in Cincinnati. However, this franchise has been in the playoffs seven times with Lewis as its coach. That is the same number of postseason trips made by all other coaches in franchise history combined.

When Lewis was hired in 2003, every Bengals fan on the planet would have signed on the dotted line for seven playoff trips in 15 years. If any fan says different, they are lying. Of course, any fan would have liked to have seen a playoff win or two. Even so, prior to the Lewis era, the playoffs were a figment of Cincinnati’s imagination. Lewis turned them into a realistic expectation.

His time in Cincinnati has probably gone on a few seasons too long, but that is not his fault. If Lewis does indeed leave after this season, the organization will be in infinitely better shape than when he arrived. That should be the ultimate goal of any NFL head coach.

Looking ahead

Should the Bengals job become available this offseason, it will be one of the more attractive openings on the market. Whether it is Dalton or AJ McCarron, whoever takes over will inherit a serviceable NFL quarterback, one of the best wide receivers in the game, at least one solid running back and a defense with a few playmakers. That is more than 99 percent of head coaches get when taking a new job.

A good portion of that can and should be attributed to Lewis. Whenever his time in Cincinnati ends, Lewis will have done an incredible job.

 

Featured image from upi.com

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Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones breaks through in fantasy with monster game

We all know how good Julio Jones is. He is one of the best receivers in the league. He has had his struggles this season, with only one touchdown and two 100-yard games through the Falcons’ first 10 games. However, through those 10 games, he has only had three games under 70 yards, which isn’t all that bad in fantasy, but not what you expect from Jones. In fantasy, he only had three double-digit games.

But Jones has reminded us all why he is still the best receiver in the game. He had a breakout game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with season highs in catches (12), receiving yards (253) and two touchdowns.

Jones is back! Now with the performance fantasy owners have been waiting for, along with the Atlanta Falcons getting hot, Jones could be the key getting your team in the playoffs.

His breakout game

For much of the game, Jones had more total yards than the entire Tampa Bay offense. He ended with 253 receiving yards, while Tampa Bay had 283 receiving yards as a team and just as many scores.

The first big play for Jones was out of the wildcat on a 51-yard touchdown pass from receiver Mohamed Sanu. The other, just around five minutes later, showcased a double move so deadly that it left Buccaneers defensive back Ryan Smith on his backside. Jones dove over the pylon for his second score. In standard scoring, he had 38.8 points and in PPR he had 50.8 points.

Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones (Photo from bostonherald.com)

On a side note, Jones had some accomplishments after the game against the Bucs. His 253 yards was the most allowed by the Buccaneers in franchise history. He also passed Hall of Fame receiver Lance Alworth with most receiving yards through 90 games in NFL history.

Coming into this game, Jones had just one touchdown and his yards per game (78.6) were the third-worst of his career. In fantasy coming into Sunday, he had 84.6 fantasy points, averaging 8.5 per week, which ranked 23rd among receiving in standard scoring.

As said before, it’s just not been the best season for Jones, but not all that bad. He just hasn’t put up the fantasy stats that he usually does since he is lacking touchdowns. After this game, it looks as if Jones could be back on track, having big games down the stretch with the Falcons finding some luck.

What to expect at this point

The big question that comes to Jones is will he find the end zone on a consistent basis. We all know he’s capable because of how good he is, and now he’s getting some confidence in his game. He does have a tough hill to climb in three of his next four. He plays Minnesota next week, followed by New Orleans, Tampa Bay and New Orleans again.

Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones and Justin Hardy (Photo from usatoday.com)

His most difficult in terms of matchups is probably against the Vikings and Xavier Rhodes. Minnesota has an outstanding defense, but in terms of fantasy performance against opposing receivers, the Vikings haven’t been as dominant and have struggled in the past couple of weeks. Three weeks ago, Minnesota gave up 181 yards and a score to Redskins wide receivers. On Thanksgiving, Lions receivers caught 12 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Most of the damage on Thanksgiving came from Marvin Jones Jr., who resembles to how the Falcons use Jones. Jones Jr. had six catches for 109 yards and two scores.

The matchup against the Saints could go either way. The biggest question is if rookie Marshon Lattimore will play. He was injured last week against Washington, and the Saints struggled against Washington’s receivers. He was also absent for the Saints’ Week 12 matchup with the Rams. Lattimore is a big reason for the improvement of the Saints secondary. If he plays, he could pose a challenge against Jones.

As for Tampa Bay, read the opening paragraph. Hint, pray you don’t play against him in fantasy that week.

Biggest Takeaway: Falcons are hot

The big takeaway of this is the Falcons are hot. After struggling to finish games earlier in the season, they have gained some momentum similar to last year.

In fantasy, they could have key players down the road if they keep playing like they have. Players like Sanu, Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman when he comes back and other offensive weapons could become a threat for fantasy players these next four weeks. If you have any Falcons players, use them accordingly, because this could be the time they have their best fantasy performances of 2017.

 

Featured image from si.com.

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Julio Jones fantasy

Is Week 12 a new start for Julio Jones?

Julio Jones has been one of the most productive and reliable wide receivers in fantasy football since he entered the league. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 220 pounds, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. He is usually a solid first-round pick in fantasy football too. However, this year hasn’t been the same.

Through ten games of the 2017 NFL season, Julio Jones had 786 receiving yards and only one touchdown. Through ten games in 2016, Jones had 1,105 yards and five touchdowns. There is clear regression in his play, and injuries and regression of quarterback play are clearly the reasons behind it.

Struggles

Through this season, Jones has had nagging injuries that have caused him to miss practices and snaps during games. In Week 4, Jones had to leave the game against the Buffalo Bills due to a hip flexor injury that caused him to miss extended time. Jones had offseason surgery to remove a bunion from his right foot after his 2016 season ended on a negative note due to turf toe, which kept him limited through the end of the season into the playoffs.

Other than injury, a cause of his decline may be the result of Matt Ryan’s play. After a terrific 2016 season capped off by a trip to the Super Bowl and an MVP award, Ryan has seen his play regress from last year, which is warranted. Through 11 games, he’s already thrown one more interception than he did all of last season and is on pace for a worse completion percentage. Last season marked Jones’ lowest reception per game stats since 2012. This season has been just the same.

Ryan has also gotten used to spreading the ball to his other receivers and running backs, causing a lack of receptions for Jones, who is on pace for 96 receptions this season. The emergence of Mohamed Sanu as a legitimate No. 2 receiver also has an effect on Jones. Sanu has already matched his touchdown receptions from last year and is on pace to top his yards and receptions from last year.

Bounce back

Julio Jones fantasy

(Photo by Matt Patterson/AP Photo)

Week 12 may be a bounce-back week for Julio Jones, and fantasy owners can rejoice. Jones exploded for 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He doubled his receptions per game and touchdowns and more than doubled his yards per game. Before this week, Jones was only the 23rd ranked receiver in standard leagues. Jones now outscored every other receiver while having his third career game over 250 receiving yards.

Should fantasy owners be expecting a return of the Julio Jones we all have come to love? Yes, they should. Over the last five games of the season, the Falcons go up against the Buccaneers, Vikings, Panthers and the Saints twice. Jones should continue to see the most targets on the team and should succeed in a big way against the Buccaneers again, as well as the Panthers. He may struggle against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings secondary, but will continue to see more targets and more work in the red zone.

 

Featured image from bostonherald.com

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Devonta Freeman fantasy

Fantasy football Injury: Devonta Freeman

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He did not return to the game after the injury.

That led to the speedster Tevin Coleman taking over for Freeman. Coleman could be in line for some production and become a fantasy asset should Freeman miss time.

Tevin Colman Outlook

Coleman set season highs with 20 rushing attempts and 83 rushing yards. He also found the end zone on a one-yard plunge in the last moments of the second quarter and caught a pass for five yards. In his first eight games this season, Coleman had just 63 carries with 316 yards, giving him an average of five yards per carry. He also had one rushing touchdown on the year, and has been a threat in the receiving game with two touchdowns.

Devonta Freeman fantasy

Tevin Coleman (Photo from thefalcoholic.com)

The former Indiana Hoosier star has an explosive presence out of the backfield to make himself a high-end RB2 with RB1 potential. It doesn’t matter how he does it whether it’s running, catching etc. He will make things happen. He proved that last season with 941 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage on 149 touches.

One thing with Coleman, along with the Falcons offense, is consistency. In Week 8 against the New York Jets, he had an impressive 104 total yards. The following week against the Carolina Panthers he had just 24 total yards. It happened earlier in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills when he had 142 total yards and in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins he had only 36 total yards. Some of that is due to the Falcons’ struggles in the past few weeks closing out games.

But Coleman will have tremendous value. As reported on Monday, it looks as if Freeman will miss the game next week on Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks following his second concussion.

Fantasy impact on The Falcons offense

To the concern of whether Coleman’s impact as the starter affects the Falcons’ surrounding offensive players, fantasy owners shouldn’t be too worried. However, don’t think this could impact the Falcons receivers.

Devonta Freeman fantasy

Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu (Photo from cbssports.com)

Coleman is a great receiving back that can catch the ball out of the backfield. There could be days where he has better receiving numbers then other Falcons players.

Now for Julio Jones owners, of course this means very little, even if Coleman has a better game. Others like Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hooper could have less targets because of Coleman playing more snaps. The Falcons should continue to use their weapons as frequent as they have all season though. For Matt Ryan, this gives him another weapon and possibly more fantasy points.

Overall, Coleman will be used in any way they need him on offense, but the Falcons will use everyone to move the ball downfield.

Conclusion

In the end, Coleman should have value even when Freeman comes back from injury. If he is not owned, now is the time to get him as he isn’t available in a lot of leagues.

Devonta Freeman fantasy

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (Photo from si.com)

As for Freeman, he is expected to miss at least next week as mentioned before. When he comes back, he will be back to the role he had all season as the main back and split time with Coleman as long he doesn’t have any setbacks.

Expect the Falcons to ease Freeman back in form and use Coleman a little more.

 

 

 

 

Featured image from atlantafalcons.com. 

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