The Ravens have been searching for new, young quarterbacks to back up Joe Flacco. Not only they’ve picked up Michael Crabtree as a solid target, they’ve also signed Robert Griffin III to a one-year contract as an experienced backup quarterback for Flacco.
At first, Griffin was the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins from 2012-2014. There, he had a combined total of 8,097 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Robert Griffin Running (AP photo (Aaron Josey)
The Redskins later cut him loose, and then he was picked up by the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
Griffin started for five games and later suffered a major shoulder injury. The future for him wasn’t looking too bright. Ever since then, Griffin has been on the free agent market, looking for another team to play on. With limited cap space, the Baltimore Ravens wanted to give him a shot. They brought Griffin to a tryout to throw to receivers that were also free agents. The Ravens were impressed, and they decided to make a deal with the veteran quarterback. Griffin has a strong arm and is able to run and make defenders miss.
But that doesn’t make him officially apart of the regular-season roster yet. The Ravens still desire a young blooded quarterback. Most of these quarterbacks that are in the draft would probably become starters by the end of their rookie deals. If the Ravens pick up a quarterback in the second or third round, they might choose to cut Griffin loose after preseason and give the backup job to the rookie. But there’s no guarantee if the Ravens would get a young quarterback.
Main Target in the draft: Lamar Jackson
The Ravens have had a close eye on the young quarterback, Lamar Jackson. They’ve brought him up to Baltimore for a visit, and they were highly interested in him. Jackson is a young, skillful quarterback who is the only football player in the FBS to rush for 1500 yards and pass for 3,500 yards two seasons in a row.There’s no guarantee if the Ravens will pick him in the first round of the NFL draft. He was a starting quarterback for the University of Louisville in 2016 and 2017. He’s a fast, athletic quarterback that can scramble out of the pocket and pick up yards, and he can launch it in the air for his receivers to make plays as well.
Lamar Jackson Louisville (USA today sports)
The main concern about Jackson is his accuracy in his throws. During his college career, he completed only 57 percent of his passes. If he performs like this in the league, then he wouldn’t be the right pick for a quarterback. But he’s still young and he will be able to grow more and gain experience.
What About Manziel?
Johnny Manziel performed on Saturday’s spring league football game to give NFL scouts a good look. If they like him, then they’ll consider picking him up as a quarterback. Manziel could be a good fit for the Ravens. He still has the quick feet to scramble, and he has the arm. It all depends if he will change his behavior off the field.
Johnny Manziel warming up for the spring game (Bleacher Report)
If he proves that he will be dedicated and changed his bad behavior, then he might have a shot at playing. Manziel has one more spring game in order to prove scouts that he’s ready to get back into the league. If Manziel doesn’t go the NFL, then there might be a chance he would play in the Canadian Football League.
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The NFL playoffs begin this weekend. However, the majority of NFL fans are now focused on the NFL draft.
This draft is loaded with quarterback prospects. Some of the top talent includes Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.
There has also been a lot of NFL talk about Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Some people think he can be successful in the NFL. Others see him as a bust.
There are plenty of reasons to avoid drafting Mayfield, at least early on. Here is a list reasons why NFL teams should think twice before taking a chance on the former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback.
The Big 12 Conference
NFL quarterbacks come from all over the country. Case Keenum went to Houston. Carson Wentz went to North Dakota State. Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami, OH.
Don’t forget about the big schools either. Tom Brady went to Michigan. Aaron Rodgers went to California. Matthew Stafford went to Georgia.
Mayfield joins a nice list of dominating Oklahoma quarterbacks. Jason White and Sam Bradford also won Heismans during their time with the Sooners. But there is something disturbing about the quarterbacks the Big 12 has been putting in the NFL.
Mayfield joins the list of dominant Big 12 quarterbacks. (Photo by Associated Press)
Since 2000, 22 Big 12 quarterbacks have been drafted. None of them have panned out as dependable starting quarterbacks. The most notable names to come from the Big 12 include Chris Simms, Vince Young, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradord, Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith.
Some of these guys showed promise early on, but none of them panned out. Simms never started more than 10 games in a season and only played five seasons in the NFL. Young started off nice by bringing the Titans to the postseason a couple times, but ended up busting as well. The Dolphins have only finished over .500 once under Tannehill. Griffin’s knees didn’t survive. Bradford has also spent plenty of time on the sidelines due to injury. Yes, a few of these guys started off nice, but didn’t end well.
Some of these guys put up big numbers in college and even stayed healthy in the NFL. They just were ineffective in the pros. Smith, Weeden, Freeman, McCoy and Gabbert all failed to deliver.
There was no primary starting quarterback from the Big 12 this season. Why does the conference struggle to put out big-time NFL quarterbacks?
The Big 12 style of play is all run and gun. The Big 12 is known for their high scoring games with almost no defense. Oklahoma has had conference wins that ended with scores like 49-41 over Baylor, 42-35 over Kansas State, 62-52 over Oklahoma State and 59-31 over West Virginia.
Oklahoma State was the Big 12’s second best offense and put up scores like 41-34 over Texas Tech, 50-39 over West Virginia and 49-42 over Iowa State. They are scoring a lot of points, but they are also giving up a bunch.
The Big 12’s quarterbacks have inflated stats. You can’t take them seriously because they aren’t playing against any defenses. It may not be fair to say an NFL quarterback can never come from the Big 12, but it’s not that ridiculous of a statement. Times change and quarterbacks can come from even the smallest of conferences. With the Big 12’s current style of play, don’t expect any star quarterback coming from the conference anytime soon.
Size and attitude
One of the bigger knocks on Mayfield is his size. ESPN lists him at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. Scouts and fans always like a big quarterback.
Yes, there are smaller quarterbacks that start in the NFL. That list includes Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor. There have been smaller quarterbacks in the past that have also succeeded. Don’t rule out a guy just because of size.
Mayfield has issued a few apologies this season after receiving criticism for his antics on the field. (Photo by Getty Images)
The thing about Mayfield is that he reminds people more of Johnny Manziel than Drew Brees. Both Manziel and Mayfield won Heisman Trophies, completed around 70 percent of their passes, were athletic and mobile and made fans hate them with their antics on the field.
Mayfield has already received criticism for talking trash with his opponents, grabbing his crotch and planting an Oklahoma flag on Ohio State’s logo. Manziel received criticism for things mostly off the field like partying, gambling and not working hard.
Do NFL teams want a quarterback that has been labeled as a punk by some? If you look at the NFL’s current starting quarterbacks, none of them have an attitude like Mayfield. The closest guys you could argue would be Cam Newton and Jay Cutler.
Newton has been criticized for a poor attitude before, but not many would call him a punk. The same goes for Cutler. He is known more for whining than anything else.
Mayfield’s personality does not fit the NFL quarterback mold. It is something teams should consider before drafting him.
Former Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner Jason White, along with Chase Daniel from Missouri and Graham Harrell from Texas Tech are notable Big 12 quarterbacks this century to go undrafted. Mayfield probably won’t go undrafted, but teams should proceed with caution.
Taking Mayfield in the first round is risky. Teams interested in Mayfield should wait until the middle rounds to take him. No team should sweat over another team taking Mayfield in the first round. Waiting gives teams more of a low risk high reward.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Although Deshaun Watson lost in a shootout to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, the rookie quarterback from Clemson has been nothing short of spectacular for the Houston Texans. After a four-touchdown performance on Sunday, Watson now has the record for most touchdown passes in a player’s first seven NFL games with 19. We are only halfway through the season, and Watson already has the rookie record for most three-passing touchdown games in a season with four.
How was this man the third quarterback taken in the draft? How did the Browns not grab him first overall? More importantly, how was Tom Savage the original starter for the Texans? Nonetheless, Watson looks like a franchise quarterback, something that Houston has never seen before.
Will Watson finish his rookie season better than these standouts? Here, we have developed a list of rookie quarterbacks from the 2000s, who had stellar first seasons.
It would be almost impossible for anyone to top what Big Ben did to start his professional career. Originally, Roethlisberger was the third quarterback on the depth chart, but the backup, Charlie Batch, went down with an injury in the preseason. Then Tommy Maddox suffered an injury in Week 2, giving the 11th overall pick from Miami (OH) a shot earlier than expected. After almost bringing the Steelers back in their Week 2 loss to Baltimore, Roethlisberger remained the starter for the rest of the season.
Big Ben wound up finishing the regular season with a 13-0 record as a starter. He helped end the New England Patriots record 21-game winning streak by throwing a pair of touchdowns and no turnovers in a 34-20 victory. The following game, Roethlisberger and the Steelers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, who were 7-0 at the time. At the end of the season, Roethlisberger was unanimously selected as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Pittsburgh ended up losing to the Patriots, 41-27 in the AFC Championship Game. While Roethlisberger struggled and threw three interceptions, the Steelers had found their quarterback for years to come.
The comeback kid, Vince Young (Photo from NYDailyNews)
Unlike Roethlisberger, who played with an all-time great defense, Young joined a four-win Titans team after being selected third overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. After Kerry Collins was benched because of an 0-3 start, Young took over and excelled.
He went on to win eight of his thirteen games. Four of those eight wins were fourth-quarter comebacks, including the Titans 24-21 victory over Eli Manning and the Giants. After being down 21-0, Young rallied the troops and statistically had the best game of his career. He finished with 249 passing yards, two touchdowns, 69 rushing yards, and a passer rating of 107.9.
The following week against Eli’s brother Peyton, who had his Colts sitting at 10-1, Young led another come-from-behind win over Indianapolis. This was the first time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback led two 14-point or more comeback wins in the same season.
Due to a Philip Rivers injury, Young was named to the 2007 Pro Bowl. He would also go on to win the NFL Rookie of the Year.
The year before Ryan was selected, Atlanta finished 4-12. As a rookie, Ryan led the Falcons to an 11-5 record, which was good enough for a spot in the playoffs.
His first NFL pass resulted in a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins. He went on to become the first Falcons rookie quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season. In the history of the NFL, only 12 quarterbacks have thrown for over 3,000 yards in their rookie season.
In his first playoff start, Ryan was up against Kurt Warner, who is 15 years older than Ryan. While Ryan threw a pair of touchdowns, the Falcons ultimately fell to Warner’s Cardinals 30-24. For his stellar regular season, Ryan was named AP NFL Rookie of the Year.
Just like Newton, Luck was selected first overall, and was immediately called on to start. The successor to Peyton Manning led the Colts into a Wild Card game, which they ended up losing to the Ravens.
During the season, Luck and the Colts upset Aaron Rodgers’ Packers on a game-winning touchdown pass, in which Luck found Reggie Wayne with 35 seconds left. In Week 9 against Miami, Luck threw for 433 yards, which became the new record for most yards in a game by a rookie quarterback. In a late December game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Luck broke the record for most passing yards in a season.
Even after the addition of Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson was named the starting quarterback in August. Wilson helped the Seahawks reach 11 regular-season wins and earned his first playoff victory by defeating the Redskins 24-14 in come-from-behind fashion. In the divisional round, Wilson threw for 385 yards, but Seattle fell to Atlanta, 30-28.
Wilson finished the regular season with a passer rating of 100.0, which was good for fourth in the league. His 26 passing touchdowns tied Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns thrown by a rookie.
RG3 had a miraculous rookie season. (Photo fromBleacher Report)
As a rookie, RG3 looked like the real deal. In his starting debut, Griffin threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over the New Orleans Saints. He became the first rookie quarterback to be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week in a debut game. Griffin was also named September’s Offensive Rookie of the Month.
Following a bye week in November, the Redskins voted RG3 an offensive co-captain. After the nomination, in a game against the Eagles, Griffin became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 200 yards, pass for four touchdowns, and rush for over 75 yards in a single game.
A lingering knee injury caused Griffin to slow down, and ultimately led to the end of the Redskins season, as Washington was defeated by Seattle in a Wild Card game. He would undergo surgery, and as we know, nothing was the same.
Still, Griffin was selected to the Pro Bowl, and also won the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Tony Romo’s preseason injury changed Dallas forever. Romo now works for CBS, and Prescott is busy leading America’s team.
Last year, Prescott set the records for highest passer rating by a rookie quarterback (104.9) and highest touchdown to interception ratio (5.75:1). His 67.8 completion percentage was good for fourth in the league. Prescott was a major contributor to Dallas’ 11-game winning streak, spanning from Week 2-13.
The Cowboys won the NFC East, but were defeated by the Packers in the divisional round. In that loss to Green Bay, Prescott threw for 302 yards and had a quarterback rating of 103.2. His incredible season made him the obvious choice for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He edged out his teammate, Ezekiel Elliott, by seven votes.
Featured image from Bleacher Report
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The preseason is not a reliable indicator of regular season success in the NFL. The 2008 Lions went undefeated in the preseason, then went on to be the first team to go winless in a 16 game regular season.
However, sometimes little snippets of games can give viewers both good and bad indicators about a team. This preseason, there is a team whose rebuilding process may not take as long as some people think.
Ever since Richard Sherman tipped away San Francisco’s Super Bowl hopes a few years ago, the 49ers franchise has cratered. They are coming off a pair seasons with just seven combined wins.
Rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan and new general manager John Lynch certainly have their work cut out for them, but they have made tremendous strides.
The third preseason game is the so-called “dress rehearsal.” San Francisco traveled to Minnesota last week. The 49ers starters ran the Vikings out of the building for a half.
Brian Hoyer was brought in to stabilize the quarterback situation while the 49ers look for the next young guy. Only time will tell if rookie C. J. Beathard can be that guy. For now though, Hoyer has a chance to guide this team to being very competitive very quickly.
Hoyer is not the kind of guy that a fan base is going to rally behind and buy his jersey, but he can get the job done under the right circumstances. He has been around for almost a decade, has a winning record as a starter and 18 more career touchdown passes than interceptions. There is zero pressure on Beathard to go out and resurrect this franchise right now. That is a beautiful thing.
Also, the 49ers have done a better job putting talent around Hoyer than people realize. Running back Carlos Hyde seems healthy and rejuvenated after getting lost in the shuffle last year. He has managed to put up almost 1800 total rushing yards in his first three seasons despite injuries and organizational dysfunction.
Wide receiver Pierre Garçon was also brought in via free agency and had his best statistical season in 2013 in a Redskins offense that was coordinated by Kyle Shanahan. Garçon also has not missed a game since 2012. Staying healthy and being productive is a rare but great combination to have for any wide receiver.
Honestly, it does not take much to turn an offense from laughable to decent in the NFL. At minimum, you need a serviceable quarterback, a running game that can take some pressure off the quarterback, and a reliable pass catcher or two. For the first time in a handful of years, the 49ers have all of those things in place.
On defense, the 49ers lack big names outside of linebacker Navarro Bowman, but that unit punctuated the relevant part of its preseason by shutting out Minnesota in the first half. Thanks to the ineffectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense, they spent more time on the field than any other defense last year. That will not happen again this year. That alone should make for a significant improvement.
The brilliance of Kyle Shanahan cannot be overlooked, he has elevated every healthy quarterback he has ever worked with. He is a big reason for Matt Ryan’s MVP campaign last year and the rookie of the year campaign of Robert Griffin III in 2012. Much like his father who is a Super Bowl winning head coach, he knows how to put his players in the best position possible to succeed.
The playoffs might be a stretch for San Francisco this year, but they could flirt with .500. That would be quite an accomplishment considering where they were just a few months ago. The 49ers fan base has two things it has not had for a while, hope and optimism.
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In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious that quarterback is the most important position in NFL football. While the goal of leading the team to wins is the same for all 32 starters in the league, the circumstances and context under which they play are all very different. Here are some NFL quarterbacks under pressure to produce heading into the 2017 season.
Andy Dalton– Dalton’s impact on the Bengals franchise has been largely positive. Last year, he and the Bengals missed the playoffs for the first time in Dalton’s still relatively young career. He has thrown almost twice as many touchdowns as interceptions.
However, the reality is until he delivers this franchise a long-awaited playoff win, he will show up on any list like this. There is one additional detail that complicates Dalton’s situation for the upcoming season. Backup quarterback A.J. McCarron’s contract situation is murky, but he may be available via free agency after the 2017 season.
The former Alabama signal caller has proven to be very capable when filling in for Dalton. He got closer than Dalton ever did to a playoff win two years ago against the Steelers. Several quarterback-needy teams would be interested should he become available.
As a native Cincinnatian, I can tell you that the Bengals’ resistance to making coach and player changes is the subject of a lot of comedy around town.
Even so, should Dalton and the team struggle again like they did last year, the threat of McCarron leaving may force Cincinnati into choosing one of the two quarterbacks. If Cincinnati gets off to a rough start, the coaching staff taking an extended look at McCarron as the starter is not unrealistic.
Jared Goff- You can pick whatever metric you want. The fact is Goff was flat-out atrocious when finally given the chance to start during his rookie season. While it is very true he did not have much talent around him, a completion percentage of under 55 and more interceptions than touchdowns speaks for itself.
In some cases, those numbers for a rookie quarterback on a bad team might not be too worrisome. However, virtually the entire front office and coaching regime that traded up to pick Goff first overall has been fired.
The new management has no attachment to Goff and is well aware that the Rams must show significant improvement in their second year back in Los Angeles. The franchise is struggling to become relevant again in the crowded Los Angeles sports scene.
With Wade Phillips now coordinating what was already a playoff-caliber defense, Goff must step up to the plate and at least be a serviceable quarterback this year.
Life is not always fair in the NFL. If Goff does not improve dramatically this year, he is likely headed down the path of guys like David Carr and JaMarcus Russell.
Goff still does not have much to work with on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Todd Gurley was neutralized last year because the Rams had no passing offense to speak of. The addition of young offensive guru Sean McVay as head coach is a wildcard. It will be up to him to turn this offense into something that looks like it belongs on an NFL field. It all starts and ends with Goff, one way or the other.
Cam Newton– Is he the MVP that ran rough shot over the league until running into the 2015 Broncos in Super Bowl 50? Or is he the inaccurate turnover machine that became a bit of a problem child late last season? 2017 is a big swing year for Cam Newton.
It should be noted that Newton had surgery to repair a partial rotator cuff tear following last season. Only he knows how much that affected him, but it certainly could not have helped matters.
The versatility of rookie running back Christian McCaffrey should be a big help to the charismatic signal caller. Improvement in the secondary will also be key to the Panthers ability to bounce back from last year’s hugely disappointing six-win campaign.
Much like every other quarterback on this list though, Newton will get all the credit or all blame. That is just the way it works in the NFL today.
Dak Prescott– Prescott was the inspiration for this article. The pressure on him for 2017 almost cannot be put into words. He is now the unquestioned starter for one of the most recognizable franchises in sports. His spectacular rookie season is perhaps the single biggest reason why borderline Hall of Famer Tony Romo is now a broadcaster.
We know the Ezekiel Elliott led running game and offensive line are fantastic, but Prescott in year two is a massive question mark. From Robert Griffin III to the option and wildcat offenses, we have seen so many things set the league on fire one year only to fade away the next. The defensive coaches in this league usually adapt over time.
Only time will tell if Prescott is different. For me, it is the most fascinating story of the upcoming season. There are two other factors to keep in mind for Prescott and the Cowboys. First, because of winning the division they will play a much tougher schedule than last year. Also, even in a year where he could seemingly do no wrong, Prescott was unable to get the Cowboys any closer to a Super Bowl than Romo ever did.
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The Rams put everyone involved out of their misery by firing Jeff Fisher earlier this week. A blowout loss to Atlanta at home sealed his fate. Believe it or not, Fisher was a really good coach in this league at one time. However, a 31-45-1 record in almost 5 full seasons in St. Louis/Los Angeles speaks for itself. That time is no longer now. His dismissal creates one of the most unique head-coaching openings in NFL history.
The Rams return to the crowded LA sports market has gotten off to a disastrous start. This is a city that has lost its fair share of NFL franchises in the past, but has never lacked big-time sports. Right now LA has the exciting and fun Clippers, the young and rebuilding Lakers, a resurgent USC football program and the star filled Dodgers and Angels. At best, the Rams are the sixth most relevant sports story in their own city, and the second most relevant in their own stadium. USC is infinitely more competitive in college football than the Rams are in the NFL at the moment. Forget the NFL as a whole, the Rams are irrelevant in their own city. That is a battle no other franchise has to fight.
There are a few other issues working against the Rams right now. All of which are their own doing. Rams ownership seems more concerned about building a new stadium and finding a second team to join them in LA than they do about the current state of the franchise. Also, the Rams sit at 4-9 with the worst offense in the league, averaging just 12 points a game. Rookie quarterback Jared Goff is quickly headed down the path of David Carr (not Derek) if they do not surround him with better talent quickly. Their drafts on offense have turned out to be comically bad in recent years. Following Sunday’s loss running back Todd Gurley said the Rams “look like a middle school offense.” Honestly, that is insulting to middle school offenses everywhere. Gurley is the one offensive draft pick the Rams have gotten right in recent years, even he has faded into obscurity in 2016. On Sunday, Atlanta’s defense scored as many points as the Los Angeles offense. That is not even taking into account the Rams botching the opening kickoff and setting up Atlanta at the LA 3 yard line. It was the kind of performance that leaves an organization no choice but to make changes immediately, even though Fisher had inexplicably just been given a contract extension. After the season, the rest of the current staff is probably gone as well.
Despite the many challenges facing whoever takes over the head-coaching gig in Los Angeles on a full-time basis, it is not all bad. It is LA after all. The fact that the Rams have somehow accumulated four wins speaks to how good the defense is and can be. Even so, the Rams cannot give this job to whoever the hot coordinator candidate winds up being. That is doomed to fail. There is too much going on with this franchise for it to be anyone’s first NFL head coaching job. One name already being floated around is Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. While McDaniels seems to have grown up a lot since failing miserably as a head coach in Denver, the Rams need someone with both star power and substance. McDaniels does not check either box.
This narrows the list considerably. Names like Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll would certainly fit the bill, but both have said they are not interested. Additionally, I will eat my own left arm if either one of them leaves their current gig for such a massive undertaking like rebuilding the Rams in Los Angeles. There are two names that have been rumored that would be slam dunk hires. In fact, they may be the only realistic candidates that could be successful in such a chaotic environment. They are Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden.
It is not known if either one of them are on the Rams list. Everything that is out there right now is speculation. I know there are going to be some eye rolls at Shanahan’s name, but there should not be. Yes, his time with the Redskins was largely a failure , but dig deeper. He has been the only coach to get a good year out of Robert Griffin III. Griffin was rookie of the year and led the Redskins to the playoffs in 2012. No other coaching staff has figured out how to even keep him on the field, much less get any sort of production out of him. Shanahan also has two Super Bowl rings as the head coach Denver in the late-1990s. Often times, he gets no credit for that because those Denver teams were loaded. While true, realize that John Elway did not win a Super Bowl until Shanahan came along, then he won two.
Somehow, Shanahan has gotten the “washed up old hack” label by fans and media. Unlike Fisher, he does not deserve it. He did the best he could under the dysfunctional conditions of the Redskins at that time. Shanahan would likely bring his son Kyle on as his offensive coordinator. He is the coordinator behind the 2016 resurrection of Matt Ryan. Both Shanahans have proven they know how to build an offense and make it productive. This is exactly what the Rams need. Hiring the elder Shanahan would bring instant relevance and credibility to Los Angeles and may set the Rams up coaching wise in both the short and long-term.
photo from zambio.com
If there ever was a situation for Jon Gruden to return to coaching, the Rams are it. Those close to Gruden have always said that he has not gone back to coaching because he likes the celebrity that comes with his role on Monday night football. In LA, he can coach and be a celebrity. The two franchises Gruden left (Tampa Bay and Oakland) are really just now starting to recover. His legendary reputation as a disciplinarian that loves to work with young quarterbacks would be perfect for the Rams. Come on, just look at the guy.
photo from deadhitsports.com
Both Shanahan and Gruden would require a lot of money, but they have jewelry on their fingers for a reason. Judging by artist renderings of the Rams future home in Inglewood, California, they must have some deep pockets. It would be great for the NFL to have a good franchise in LA again, but it is going to take a very special coach to turn the Rams into winners in a timely manner.
Well, my hot streak only lasted a week. I fell back to a very mediocre 7-8 against the spread last week. The Lions made me look smart, the Jets not so much. With the Chiefs win Thursday night, I am a game to the good for this week as we head in to Sunday. My season record now sits at 95-100-6. It is nice to still have so many meaningful games this late in the season. Outright upsets have an asterisk. Spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. Let’s roll.
Cardinals (-2) at*Dolphins- Miami got whitewashed last week, but that happens. They are the better team here. The Dolphins big weakness is stopping the run. David Johnson of Arizona is a true workhorse back, a rarity in today’s NFL. Miami’s Jay Ajayi is no slouch though. He, along with the rest of Miami’s offense should be able to keep Johnson on the sidelines just enough. Arizona’s lack of consistency and depth on offense has hurt them all year and will continue to do so here. Mia 21 Ari 20
Bears at Lions (-7) – Matthew Stafford is a legit MVP candidate and the Lions are going to make the playoffs. However, there is something about this matchup. Despite being atrocious, the Bears play well in their division, notching two of their three wins on the season in such games. This includes knocking off the Lions. That will not happen again. The Lions have too much to play for, but I refuse to believe they can blowout consecutive opponents. Also, Chicago is playing its best football of the season (relatively speaking) behind third string quarterback Matt Barkley. Det 30 Chi 27
Bengals (-5) at Browns- This is one of a precious few games that have absolutely no playoff implications this week, but it is not lacking a story. Robert Griffin III is now healthy. He will get a chance to resurrect his career down the stretch and save the Browns from going winless beginning with this game. Cincinnati’s season has been a total bust when you consider preseason expectations. Strangely, the Browns have much more to play for here. Thus, an upset would not shock me. However, the gap in roster talent is just too large for me to call it. Cin 24 Cle 16
photo from ooyuz.com
*Broncos at Titans (-1) – This could wind up being an elimination game in terms of the playoffs. As presently constructed, these teams are pretty much even. Tennessee has an edge just about everywhere on offense, but the same can be said for Denver on defense. When it is this close in terms of personnel, track record comes into play. Denver has spent the last half decade playing games like this, and usually winning. This is uncharted territory for the Titans. Denver finds a way to get it done and stay very relevant in the hotly contested AFC West race. Den 17 Ten 13
Texans at Colts (-6.5) – Credit Houston for being in the race in December despite horrendous quarterback play, but it has finally caught up with them. The better quarterbacks win games and divisions more often than not. Andrew Luck > Brock Osweiler. Ind 31 Hou 17
Vikings (-3) at Jaguars- Here you have two offenses that have not been able to do much all year. The Vikings remain alive in the playoff race thanks to their defense and special teams. Jacksonville is not so fortunate. Minnesota seemed to find something in a losing effort last week against Dallas. They are a little bit better than Jacksonville across the board. Quite frankly, the pregame legends of wrestling event may be more entertaining than the actual game. I wish I lived in Jacksonville so I could see some of my childhood heroes like Ric Flair in action. Oh well, the Vikings are a strong bet here. Min 20 Jac 12
Steelers (-2) at *Bills – The Steelers secondary is prone to giving up the big play. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor can extend plays with is legs. Both teams are scraping to reach the playoffs. As a whole, the Steelers are probably a tick better. However, the big play potential is enough for me to take a flyer on the upset. Buf 27 Pit 21
Chargers at Panthers (-1.5) – These are possibly the two most talented teams with bad records I have ever seen. Everything that could go wrong for these teams has. To me there is nothing that says Carolina will win, especially with all the drama that has gone on this week. However, I have been burned enough by that thought process this year. I will go the other way. Car 24 SD 21
Redskins (-2) at Eagles- It took a while, but the Eagles are finally starting to look as bad as we all thought they would before the season started. Meanwhile, the Redskins are desperate to keep their hopes for a wild-card playoff spot alive. With that offense, they are still very dangerous. If they do somehow sneak in to the playoffs, they will not be a comfortable matchup for anyone. Was 31 Phi 20
*Jets at 49ers (-2.5) – No doubt this is a terrible game between two awful teams, but I will add some spice to it. This is my favorite NFL pick of the year. I do not care that the Jets decided not to show up last week and are now starting Bryce Petty at quarterback. The 49ers should not be a favorite over anybody. NYJ 14 SF 10
Rams at Falcons (-6.5) – Watching the Rams play offense is just painful. They are averaging 12 points a game and have not reached the playoffs since their glory days in St. Louis. Yet, everyone in leadership positions just got new contracts. By no means am I crazy about the Falcons, but they will probably win their division by default and I have zero faith in the Rams. Atl 21 LA 9
*Saints at Bucs (-2.5) – The young Bucs continue to impress, but I continue to expect a letdown at some point. The Saints remain dangerous as long as Drew Brees is taking snaps. The Bucs hot streak has really come from nowhere. This is a whole new ballgame for most of their key guys. It is reasonable to speculate that they will eventually be overwhelmed by the occasion of big-time December football. NO 28 TB 27
Seahawks (-3) at Packers- Depending on other results, the Seahawks could lock up a division title here. Last week, they did what they always do, follow up the occasional clunker that they are somewhat known for with a dominant performance. If running back Thomas Rawls can finally stay healthy and give them the ground game they thought he would at the start of the year, this team becomes all the more dangerous, if that is possible. Even with Aaron Rodgers suddenly doing a much better job of carrying the Packers franchise again, a great football team always beats a great quarterback surrounded by 52 other random dudes. Sea 27 GB 17
photo from profootballfocus.com
Cowboys (-3.5) at Giants – The half-point makes me nervous here. This game is always close. The Giants remain the lone blemish on the season for the Cowboys. I am nowhere near as down on Eli Manning as the rest of the world after his shaky performance last week in Pittsburgh, but there is not a single thing the Giants do better than Dallas on a consistent basis. The only chance they have is Manning playing at his very best. This is always possible, but not likely. Dal 27 NYG 23
MNF: *Ravens at Patriots (-7) – The Ravens have had more success than anybody in New England over the years. Additionally, I would suggest Baltimore is at least equal to the Patriots at every position apart from quarterback right now. The gap at that position is not wide enough to prevent me from calling for the upset. Bal 28 NE 27
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Injuries can really shake up the NFL and that happened in the NFC East when Tony Romo went down with yet another injury. The NFC East has been one of the most competitive divisions over the past 16 seasons. The Eagles have won it the most, seven times, followed by the Giants with four, the Cowboys have won it three times and lastly the Redskins have won it just twice. The Redskins are the defending NFC East champions, but they won the division with a lousy 9-7 record. This division is pretty open and I think three teams have a legit shot to win it. Will the Redskins repeat as division champs? Will Eli lead the Giants to the top? Or will Dak Prescott lead America’s team to the crown?
You read that right. It only took one drive to see the same old Robert Griffin III in his first preseason action as a Cleveland Brown. In fact, Griffin’s entire first drive reminds me of how his career in Washington went. Let’s take a look at each play on that drive.
On just his first play from scrimmage, Griffin lightly pumped left, then went deep to his receiver, Terrelle Pryor, for a pickup of 49 yards. Wow! I must say, RG3 got off to a hot start with that beautifully thrown pass. He didn’t even stare Pryor down the whole time like he did frequently in Washington when he made his first read. He was, however, knocked down on the play which was something Washington fans saw too much. Could the RG3 from 2012, the one that won offensive rookie of the year award, be making a return to Cleveland? Perhaps the next play would be a good indicator.
Robert Griffin III drops back to pass against the Packers in his first preseason game as a Brown.
Perhaps not. Griffin took the snap and failed to hand the ball off to his running back, resulting in a fumble and a loss on the play. This is reminiscent of Griffin making a big play as a Redskin, only to be followed with an embarrassing play or serious injury. One moment Redskins fans would be stomping their feet in excitement, and the next they’d be moaning in disbelief.
Griffin looked sharp on his next two passes, completing for seven and eight yards respectively. But, a couple of plays later he (once again) looked like the same old RG3, throwing a terrible pass over the middle. Green Bay intercepted the pass at their own one yard line. Griffin’s tight end didn’t even look ready for the pass to be thrown so maybe there was some miscommunication in Griffin’s defense.
His last three passing attempts fell incomplete – a forgettable ending to his Cleveland debut. It is only preseason game number one and it was evident that the Browns were not opening up the complete playbook to exploit the full package of RG3. There were no 78 yard touchdown runs, no option plays and no visible chants of “Rg3!” The early look at Griffin doesn’t signal any promises that the Rg3 of 2012 has arrived in Cleveland, despite a fresh start to this chapter of his career.
All in all, Griffin flat out still lacks pocket awareness. I would be shocked if he turned in a season as dominant as his rookie one if he were to play more in the pocket and less as a scrambler. His main asset is his speed and ability to throw on the run. Take that away from him and you’ve got a quarterback who doesn’t step up in the pocket or make smart decisions. At least that was the case in Washington. Stay tuned for Robert Griffin III’s next preseason action for another takeaway from his performance.
Baylor has dismissed every person in a leadership position, who is involved with the football team after Pepper Hamilton found massive cover-ups and an inability to comply with Title IX in regards to multiple sexual assault cases. Jim Grobe has been named interim head coach, but that surely won’t last considering he hadn’t coached since 2013 and also had five consecutive losing seasons at Wake Forest before resigning. Baylor needs someone who can lead them to a future of success on and off the field. That man is Mike Singletary. Here are five reasons why he is the perfect guy for the job:
He is a Baylor Alum.
Photo courtesy bleacherreport.com.
Robert Griffin III now has a statue in his honor at Baylor, but for the longest time Singletary was the best Bear ever (and still might be). Singletary was a consensus All-American in 1979 and 1980 for Baylor and used his experience there to have a successful NFL career, which has landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He used that football knowledge to coach in the NFL, eventually becoming the San Francisco 49ers head coach from 2008-2010. He still follows the Baylor program and has even said he is interested in coming back to Baylor as a head coach.
2. He disciplines his players.
Singletary had this rant after Vernon Davis picked up a personal foul in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ game against the Seahawks in 2008. After yelling at Davis, he sent him to the locker room before the game was over to send a message. Davis had a reputation for being more about himself, rather than the team and Singletary was trying to coach that out of him. If he reacted this way to a player who made a mistake on the field, I can’t imagine how much he will have his players disciplined off the field. Baylor needs a guy like Singletary, who will hold players accountable and expect them to behave.
3. He molds boys into men.
A lot was made of the Davis-Singletary feud, but Davis grew from the experience. Before Singletary was his coach, Davis was all about himself. After Singletary left the 49ers he was a team leader. Davis has even thanked Singletary for making him a better player and person. This is a trait that all colleges should want in their coach. The job of a college head coach is to make players better athletes and better people. The latter is what Baylor’s image needs now. Singletary will mold Baylor football players into men by the time they graduate.
4. He has good character.
“Players respond to coaches who really have their best interests at heart.”- Mike Singletary
Singletary has said multiple times that every coach needs to care for his players, or they won’t buy in, but for him it’s more than that. He has all of his players’ best interests at heart and will try to do what is best for them as well as the team. He does want to win, but that comes after getting players to buy in, which shouldn’t be too hard considering how well he leads young men. Former NFL players have raved about how good of a person he is and how well he deals with adversity. Davis has mentioned how much of a father figure he was to him. With Baylor’s academic and athletic leadership tarnished by the cover-ups, Singletary has the character that will show that Baylor has one person who is able to make the right calls in a leadership position.
5. He will be able to recruit.
Baylor has become a power-house of a team in the Big 12 in recent history. They started by getting recruits who normally would have gone to Oklahoma or Texas. Now Baylor is in the class of the conference in terms of recruiting, but they will need someone to keep up the good recruiting. Although Singletary doesn’t have college head coaching experience, he will be a good recruiter. It will be hard to convince recruits to become Bears at first, because the university is in disarray, but if anyone can convince them to go to Baylor it is Singletary. His character and discipline are well documented, which is something parents of recruits will love to see. He will grab recruits’ attention with his passion for football and emotion. If you add in the fact that he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, something every football player aspires to be included in, the athletes will be flocking to Waco to become Bears.