Jarvis Landry is still getting used to his role in Cleveland but he led the Browns in receiving yards and that’s a good sign of what’s to come:

Photo credit: Jason Miller

Author: Jon Kuzma

Most football fans are familiar with Jarvis Landry’s body of work and he’s averaged over 1,000 yards per season in his 5 years in the NFL. However 2018 was a challenge for Landry because he had to transition to being in Cleveland after spending his first four years in Miami with the Dolphins. Joining a new team always presents a challenge because you have to adjust to a new system and get used to playing with different people around you. Keep in mind that the Browns initially started Tyrod Taylor and then switched to Baker Mayfield. So the receivers had to also deal with that change and there was a lot on Jarvis Landry’s plate in particular. Despite all of those difficulties Landry recorded a team high of 976 receiving yards. Some of those catches were flat out amazing too. Landry can haul in the football with one hand or with a defender hanging on his back. It takes serious skill to make those plays and Landry was constantly igniting a fire in his teammates. The other thing that has to be mentioned is Cleveland also asked him to run and throw the football at one point or another. Therefore Landry was doing a little bit of everything for his new squad and things should be even better in his second time around. Baker Mayfield likes to distribute the ball to all of his weapons oppose to just keying in on his top guy (Landry). Next year though we might see Mayfield look Landry’s way even more. In order for the Browns offense to be at their best they have to get about 10 touchdowns out of number 80. He only had 4 touchdowns last year so you’d like to see Landry improve down near the end zone but as far as being a team leader goes no one is better. Jarvis Landry sets the tone and the rest of the guys in that locker room follow. We know that will be crucial for Cleveland with a new head coach (Freddie Kitchens) taking over.

Charity of the day: Habitat for Humanity International

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Jarvis Landry led the Browns in receiving yards and that’s a good sign for things to come.

If the New York Giants signed Colin Kaepernick and traded for Antonio Brown would they be a playoff team? All signs point to yes:

Photo credit: Joe Sargent / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Most New York fans expect the Giants to draft Dwayne Haskins in the first round and truthfully that’s probably the best course of action for Big Blue. Haskins is the prototype quarterback and he would be a great acquisition for Pat Shurmur’s offense but what if the Giants decided to try something different? New York could release Eli Manning and free up an additional $10M dollars which would give the team $38M in cap space. Then you look at someone who had comparable stats to Colin Kaepernick and Case Keenum’s numbers are similar. Keenum made $18M with the Denver Broncos but you have to remember Kaepernick has been out of action for two seasons so his deal should be around $14M annually. The next step would be trading a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round pick for Antonio Brown. Brown has a $17M dollar contract so that would leave the Giants roughly $7M dollars under the cap. When you think about Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. out wide it’s amazing how much damage those two could do. Lets not forget the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley is also in the mix and he’ll carry the load for this franchise. Eli Manning might be able to throw the ball a little better than Kaepernick but when you go with a more athletic quarterback and combine him with a talented cast it’s an offensive philosophy that’s worked in the past. Randall Cunningham thrived with Chris Carter, Randy Moss, and Robert Smith around him and Kaepernick could do the same. Some people might be worried that Brown and Beckham would cause too much drama but the opposite could happen. Instead those guys would be having so much fun that everything might end up working out. The final piece would be drafting someone like Ed Oliver in the first round. Yea New York would miss out on talented QB like Haskins but collectively there would be more talent on the field.

Charity of the day: National Council on Aging

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All signs point to success: If New York signed Colin Kaepernick and traded for Antonio Brown good things would happen.

Instant classic: The Orlando Apollos pulled out a thrilling 37-29 victory over the San Antonio Commanders in a game that had constant back and forth action

Photo credit: Edward A. Ornelas / AAF

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Orlando Apollos fell behind 12-0 in their week 2 clash against the San Antonio Commanders but Steve Spurrier’s guys refused to give up. Thanks to a huge game from Garrett Gilbert Orlando was able to rally back and win the contest 37-29. Gilbert threw for a whopping 393 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the AAF the quarterback play hasn’t been that strong but Gilbert was really able to light it up. The other star was hands down Charles Johnson. The former Minnesota Viking racked up 192 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. It seemed like Johnson was getting behind the secondary time and time again. So this was huge for his stock as a football player and if he keeps playing like this he’ll be back in the NFL before we know it. On the other hand San Antonio was in control of this game for about three quarters and it was tough to see them fall apart. Really the defining moment was when Logan Woodside threw a pick-six to Keith Reaser. Once the Apollos scored that defensive touchdown you knew the wheels had fallen off for the Commanders. Woodside ended up with 223 yards, 1 touchdown, and the 1 interception. Kenneth Farrow also played really well for San Antonio he finished the night with 74 yards and 1 touchdown. Then there was De’Marcus Ayers who went for 80 receiving yards but it wasn’t enough to keep up with a high powered Orlando team. Neither defense was really great either and when you look at the box score it tells you that. That’s the one area the Apollos have to improve in. Reggie Northrup led the way with 6 tackles and 1 TFL. Reaser was also outstanding with 2 tackles and 1 INT. De’Vante Bausby had 4 tackles for San Antonio and Joel Lanning chipped in 4 stops of his own. Ultimately though Spurrier’s X and Os in combination with great talent led the Orlando Apollos to an amazing road win in what was the best AAF game yet.

Charity of the day: National Council on Aging

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Instant classic: The Orlando Apollos and San Antonio Commanders had the best AAF game yet and the Apollos came out on top 37-29.

The Philadelphia Eagles are in rough shape and it’s because they don’t have any cap space to improve their roster:

Photo credit: Scott Taetsch

Author: Jon Kuzma

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Just last year the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl but those days are all in the past. The Eagles are completely out of cap space and what that means is there’s no money to sign free agents. With Nick Foles and Brandon Graham both on the verge of signing with other teams there’s no doubt this roster will be worse. Philly also has some tough decisions to make with Nelson Agholor, Michael Bennett, and Jason Kelce because their contracts make them much more likely to be cut. It feels like Howie Roseman will release Agholor and keep Bennett and Kelce since those two are the better players. So that would free up $9M but that’s not enough money to make a huge impact. Proving the Eagles are restricted this off-season and there best bet is nailing the draft. Even if they do it might not be enough to get this franchise back to the playoffs. Clearly that will put their front office in a tough spot because it feels like this roster has already peaked. You almost have to wonder if they should cut Agholor, Bennett, and Kelce and just take their lumps in 2019? That would give the team a chance to get back on track in a couple of years but the cost would probably be a losing season next fall. Making it clear that they’re doomed no matter what they do. The good times are behind them and now Doug Pederson’s guys will have to find a way to scale the mountain again. This time they’ll try to do so with even less talent and resources. Therefore it’s evident that the Eagles aren’t going to be contenders for a while. All of the fun is over with and now it’s back to reality.

Charity of the day: Guttmacher Institute

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The Eagles are in rough shape just a year after winning the Super Bowl

What a comeback! The Arizona Hotshots put up 20 points in the second half to beat the Memphis Express 20-18:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins / AAF

Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Arizona Hotshots had a very exciting week two match-up and they actually rallied from a 12 point deficit to beat the Memphis Express 20-18. It was all Memphis in the first half but eventually the Hotshots came storming back and quarterback John Wolford was a big reason why. Wolford had 2 touchdowns passes and ignited Arizona after going scoreless in the first two quarters. Rashad Ross and Tim Cook were on the receiving end of those throws and it was just barely enough to edge out the Express. This one has to hurt for Mike Singletary because they should’ve been able to pull out the win. Instead Memphis will fall to 0-2 and that’s not how you want to start off when you’re a new franchise trying to build up your brand. If there was any good news it was the fact that Christian Hackenberg did improve from his rough week one start. Hackenberg was far from exceptional but he did throw for 102 yards and avoided turning the ball over. Eventually he would also run in a touchdown so it’s clear Hackenberg is becoming more comfortable within the offense. Zac Stacy was really the star for the Express he finished the day with 101 yards and 1 touchdown. Which was impressive but somewhat diminished because of how things ended. Defensively Da’Sean Downey had 3 tackles and 2 sacks for Arizona. Steven Johnson was also very stout with 6 tackles. 4 TFLs, and 1 forced fumble. DeMarquis Gates was the top guy for Memphis with 6 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Channing Stribling also chipped in 5 tackles and 1 interception. Without a doubt the greatest challenge for these teams is getting it going on the offensive side of the ball. Woldford and Hackenberg both failed to throw for 200 yards and that’s the key to unlocking each side’s potential. Whoever figures it out will greatly improve and it’s not surprising the Hotshots won because John Woldford was the better quarterback on the field in this contest.

Charity of the day: Partnership for a Healthier America

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What a comeback! The Arizona Hotshots rallied late in the second half to beat the Memphis Express.

The Birmingham Iron battled back from a 9 point deficit and ended up beating the Salt Lake Stallions 12-9:

Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox / AAF

Author: Jon Kuzma

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Week two didn’t go very smoothly for the Birmingham Iron. Tim Lewis’ ball club fell behind 9-0 against a tough Salt Lake team but that didn’t prevent the Iron from giving it all they had. Thanks to a shutout in the second half Birmingham was able to battle back and eventually win the game 12-9. The biggest play came on special teams when Jamar Summers stripped De’Mornay Pierson-El and then Shaheed Salmon recovered it for a touchdown. That play gave the Iron their first score of the day and the Stallions couldn’t hold off the surge. In fact Salt Lake’s kicker Taylor Bertolet missed three field goals and that prevented his squad from getting things together. Once the final whistle had blown Luis Perez had thrown for 184 yards, 0 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Trent Richardson also ran hard in the victory racking up 41 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground. While Beniquez Brown (6 tackles, 1 sack) and Jeremy Faulk (4 tackles, 1 sack) led the way on defense. Overall you have to appreciate this win because the Birmingham Iron showed how resilient they can be. Things could’ve got out of hand after going down early but instead they strapped in and went to work. For the Stallion it was the exact opposite. To lose after leading for three and a half quarters is a brutal way to go down. Dennis Erickson has to be disappointed with the outcome of their first two games but Salt Lake has looked competitive in both of those contests. Once they find a way to close out their opponents things will start to improve. The top performer for Erickson’s group was hands down Karter Schult. The defensive end recorded 6 tackles, 3 TFLs, and 2 sacks proving that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Joel Bouagnon also ran well racking up 70 yards and 1 touchdown in the loss. The Stallions really need to clean up their passing game if they want to evolve in the next eight weeks. Austin Allen only had 114 yards and no Salt Lake receiver had more than 28 yards. Give Birmingham credit though they bounced back and got the job done. Every franchise in the AAF is trying to establish themselves right now and the Iron are off to a good start.

Charity of the day: Huntington’s Disease Society of America

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The Birmingham Iron battled back and beat the Salt Lake Stallions 12-9.

Khalil Mack is the reason why the Chicago Bears will control the NFC North for the next couple of years:

Photo credit: Robert Reiners / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

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Football is a team game but there’s no doubt that the superstars on each roster have to live up to that role. For the Chicago Bears Khalil Mack is the guy that’s leading the charge and what a year he had after being shipped out to the Windy City. Mack dominated from start to finish and was one of the most intimidating defenders in the entire NFL. The 27 year old carries the torch well and it takes so much game planning to limit his impact. Offensive coordinators have to double team Mack with running backs and tight ends just to give their offense some hope. Somehow the former Raider was still able to rack up 12.5 sacks which is the 4th consecutive year of at least 10 sacks for Mack. Ryan Pace made a smart decision by trading two 1st round picks to get the elite pass rusher. It was risky because Mack could’ve got hurt but he’s been able to exceed expectations up to this point. Especially when you take into consideration that the Bears took the next step and became a playoff caliber team again. There’s also a lot of excitement in the sense that the NFC North runs through Chicago from here on out. That wouldn’t be the case if Pace didn’t roll the dice and you better get used to seeing number 52 flying off the edge. It seems like Mack is consistently overpowering offensive linemen and if you don’t get a full body on him it’s almost a guaranteed sack. He also forces a lot of fumbles so quarterbacks have to make sure the football is always secure. The last phase of Mack’s game is his ability to defend the run. You have to love his film because he does a great job of disengaging blockers and bringing down the ball carrier. All of these abilities translate into a superstar athlete and Khalil Mack is going to anchor the Bears for years to come.

Charity of the day: Guttmacher Institute

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The Bears will run the NFC North for the next couple of years and Khalil Mack is the reason why.

Same ol song and dance. The Atlanta Falcons needs to fix their problems on the defensive side of the ball if they want to get back to winning:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images  Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

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With another season in the books the Atlanta Falcons are searching for answers on defense once again. We all know Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley are going to score points but none of that matters if the Falcons can’t keep their opponents out of the end zone. With that being said Atlanta has about $28M dollars in cap space available. They also could add another $12M to that number by releasing Vic Beasley. Beasley is an undersized defensive end and Thomas Dimitroff should choose to take the money over the player. Then Dimitroff has to do everything he can to prevent Grady Jarrett from leaving. The Falcons needs to win in the “A and B gaps” if they want to generate some interior pressure. The quickest way to the quarterback is right up the gut and Jarrett sets the tone up front. If somehow the front office could find a way to also bring in Ndamukong Suh it would completely turn that defense around. Jarrett and Suh would close up those running lanes and there wouldn’t be much time to pass either. The other area that needs improvement is the cornerback position. Landing an athlete like Steven Nelson would create some turnovers and he would probably end up taking Desmond Trufant’s starting job. The final piece to that puzzle would be adding someone like Clelin Ferrell in the draft. You can line Ferell up at defensive end and then bump Bruce Irvin to one of the linebacker spots. By doing so you have to believe Atlanta would get back to the playoffs. They could potentially win it all if they can bring in all of these pieces. It’s really quite simple load up on defense and make sure that group can off the field more often.

Charity of the day: Food Bank For New York City

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Can the Atlanta Falcon fix their problems on the defensive side of the ball? That will be the challenge this off-season.

The New York Jets upgraded their coaching staff with the Adam Gase and Gregg Williams hires. Now they need to go get the best players available and put it all together:

Photo credit: Icon Sportwire

Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New York Jets will head into free agency with about $95M dollars in cap space and that means they’ll be able to throw some big offers at some of the players on the open market. One name that’s been mentioned several times is Le’Veon Bell. While Bell would be splash it’s a risky move for New York because he missed the entire 2018 season. The lack of reps will definitely hurt him and the Jets should probably avoid ponying up that much money for someone who’s had reliability issues over the past 12 months. It might be better to go with more affordable options on offense and sign someone like Tevin Coleman at the running back position. Then the Jets could pick up a couple of mid-level receivers like Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman to round out that position. Which should leave the team with enough funds to help transition to Williams’ 4-3 defense. The biggest change in that system is switching from outside linebackers who rush to defensive ends up can turn the corner and sack the quarterback. There’s two guys that fit that style of player perfectly and those individuals are Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark. If you can land one of those two and also sign Anthony Barr then the Jets would improve a lot. Williams should also bump Leonard Williams inside to a defensive tackle spot and seriously consider drafting an end in April (Josh Allen?). The new coaching staff as whole is actually an upgrade over Todd Bowles’ staff and they should be particularly better on the offensive side of the ball. Adam Gase will be much better than Jeremy Bates was in 2018. Williams might be a tad bit better than Todd Bowles was too so things are definitely looking up in the Big Apple.

Charity of the day: Food Bank For New York City

Go donate! www.foodbanknyc.org

The Houston Texas will probably lose Tyrann Mathieu to free agency and Earl Thomas would be the perfect replacement:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Everyone knows Earl Thomas is from Texas and he’s been very open about being a Dallas Cowboys fan. However there’s another team in the Lone Star State that could end up making a run at Thomas. The Houston Texans are losing Tyrann Mathieu to free agency and that means they have an open spot at free safety. Who better to replace the Honey Badger with than Earl Thomas? Thomas is the definition of a ball hawk and his 28 career interceptions prove that. Even last year in Seattle Thomas was lighting it up before fracturing his left leg and when he’s healthy there’s no one better over top. There’s really two challenges Thomas will face in the future and those are his age and avoiding injuries. At 29 years old the former Seahawk’s best days are behind him and he has about four more seasons left in the tank. Playing with the Texans and the tough defense they have up front will certainly help Earl Thomas create some takeaways. It’s also a more compelling offer than say signing with the San Francisco 49ers and joining up with his old teammate Richard Sherman. Obviously we know Thomas would love to be a Cowboy but Houston has $77M in cap space available compared to the $46M Dallas has. There’s also been reports that Thomas is enrolling his kids in a school in Austin and that leads you to believe he’s landing with one of those two teams. When you also take into consideration that the Texans released Demaryius Thomas to free up even more funds it just makes sense that they’re gearing up to sign an elite player. It might not be Earl Thomas’ first option but it’ll at least bring him back home and remember he grew up in Orange Texas just 100 miles away from Houston.

Charity of the day: Junior Achievement USA

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Earl Thomas would be the perfect replacement for Tyrann Mathieu in Houston.

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