How many times has the NFL unnecessarily given itself a black eye?

Photo credit: Justin K. Aller / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

With news coming out today that the NFL will clear James Harrison, Julius Peppers, and Clay Matthews in the Al Jazeera accusations. One has to wonder how many times the NFL is going to create problems for themselves by not handling their problems in-house. After going through the Deflategate saga which loomed over the NFL for far longer than it should have. Football fans now had to suffer from the Al Jazeera allegations that hung over some of the league’s most prominent stars. While there is no doubt that the league had to get to the bottom of the allegations the problem lies in the fact that they were submitted by source that seems to be lacking credibility. Even the accuser’s name (Charlie Sly) seems to be lacking merit and when a random person like this is able to put this much pressure on NFL players without any substance there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. First and foremost the NFL needs to protect the players personal reputations and not hang them out to dry. All of this could of been done by handling the problem and not giving the media anything to write about, talk about, or cover. The same exact way the Deflategate issue should of been handled and certainly the way the other professional organizations are handling their problems. Have you noticed that the NFL is continuously having public relation nightmares that are almost caused by their poor handling of the issues at hand? That poor handling then causes negative consequences for the league and actually deters some potential fans from the league’s product. Being an avid football fan myself it’s completely frustrating and there has to be a better way to handle these things when a conflict arises. The continuous pattern of dropping the ball has to fall on Commissioner Goodell and it’s about time we move on from the power hungry, and hypocritical commissioner. The league deserves someone who understands they’re not perfect and have flaws of their own. That humility would greatly benefit the league and Goodell will clearly never be that guy. Why does he care though? It was the players who had to suffer all the backlash and consequences in this case not him.

Charity of the day: ActionAid USA

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Doug Pederson has the Eagles sitting at 3-0 on preseason:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

For the second straight year the Philadelphia Eagles have started the preseason off with a 3-0 record. The only difference is last year the Eagles were led by Chip Kelly while now they are led by new Head Coach Doug Pederson. It might be too early to understand what Pederson’s philosophies are on the football field but keep in mind there are some indicators of what is making the Eagles successful. So far in the preseason the Eagles are 6th in the league in scoring and that ability to put points on the board has certainly benefited this football team. That was Philadelphia’s most noticeable offensive ranking but it’s the defense that might be even more responsible for the Eagles success. Under Pederson Philadelphia is ranked 1st in league with the least points allowed and they are ranked 1st in the league with the least rushing yards allowed. When you have a defensive that is ranked first in the league in 2 categories that means you’re suffocating opposing offenses and making life much easier on your team as a whole. If the success this team is having in the preseason can translate over to the regular season, then there is no doubt they will be a dangerous team and a serious challenger in the NFC East. Maybe it’s early to assume any of that will happen because it’s only the preseason but it’s at least safe to say that the Eagles have some depth on their team. To be 6-1 in your last 7 preseason games says that you’re talented from your 23rd roster spot all the way down to your 53rd roster spot. However Philly fans would be much more satisfied seeing their starting 22 players come out and have success when the season rolls around. If Pederson can keep getting his players to buy into what he selling there is no telling how far this team can go. So far all the players in Philadelphia seem to be doing so and that is a good sign for Pederson. He seems Andy Reid esque and the fans of Philadelphia have to remember that era pretty well consider Coach Reid coached the Eagles for 14 seasons. Maybe getting back to that style of play is just what Philadelphia needs after the Chip Kelly era.

Charity of the day: Population Council

Go donate! www.popcouncil.org

The Vikings playoff hopes hang on Teddy Bridewater’s health:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Scary news came out of Minnesota today when Vikings starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater fell to the ground during practice and began to clutch his knee. Bridgewater was immediately taken by an ambulance to the local hospital and players on the Vikings offense were seen cursing and throwing their helmets. The other players were frustrated that Bridgewater went down because they know he is their best shot at winning a Super Bowl. Something that was very possible with Teddy Bridgwater in the mix but not so much now that Shaun Hill will be leading the charge. The Minnesota Vikings have made tremendous strides under Head Coach Mike Zimmer and truthfully this team should of beat the Seattle Seahawks last year in their playoff match up. After a good off-season the Vikings were looking like an even better team this upcoming season and that was mainly because of Bridgewater’s progression. He looked really good in the Vikings preseason games showing poise and executing that offense fluently. When you add in this team also added players like Laquon Treadwell and Andre Smith to their roster. You can see how they were poised to take the next step and really be an outstanding football team. If Bridgewater is lost for the entire season that means the Packers will have the best shot at winning the NFC North. That is how important having your starting quarterback on the field is and you just hate to see a situation like this happen. Minnesota has went through so many practices and organized team activities trying to stay healthy and now this happens. It’s just a very tough situation and keep Teddy Bridgewater in your prayers. He is a good guy and he works hard to hone his craft. Hopefully this is just a minor setback and he will be able to comeback at some point during the season. If it’s something along the lines of an ACL tear Bridgewater will almost surely be lost for the entire year, just a tough break Teddy Bridgewater.

Charity of the day: Population Council

Go donate! www.popcouncil.org

In a strange twist the Denver Broncos select Trevor Siemian as their starting QB:

Photo credit: Steve Nehf / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

Just like that Mark Sanchez is on the trade block and out of the running for the starting quarterback job of the Denver Broncos. While it was expected that Paxton Lynch would eventually replace Sanchez as the team’s starter, it now appears that Trevor Siemian will be the guy that Lynch eventually replaces. Truthfully it felt like Lynch would be the day 1 starter once the regular season got here but it seems the Broncos want to slowly ease Lynch into that starting gig. That way there isn’t too much pressure on Lynch to perform right away and it allows the rookie QB to develop himself a little bit more. Siemian on the other hand now finds himself leading last year’s Super Bowl Champions into a new year with the hopes of keeping this team at an elite level. Siemian was drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 Draft so he kind of has that Tom Brady thing going for him being a late round draft pick. The Broncos are hoping he can hold this team over until Lynch is ready to take the helm but keep in mind Gary Kubiak chose Siemian over Sanchez due to his careful protection of the football. Siemian didn’t throw nearly as many interceptions during the off-season work outs as Sanchez and it became clear he was better suited to lead this team. Siemian stated he learned a lot from watching Peyton Manning prepare and said that will be a huge factor in his own success. Manning was known for his six days of preparation and then game day approach, so that extra focused mindset is something Siemain has bought into himself. With the Broncos tremendous running game still intact Denver is hoping they can rely on C.J Anderson and Ronnie Hillman to carry this team while Siemian can add a few plays through the air. That should be very possible but keep in mind Lynch will be ready to go sooner than later and Siemian can use this opportunity to raise his value in the National Football League. Certainly a golden opportunity for the second year quarterback and keep an eye on how he handles his new role.

Charity of the day: American Liver Foundation

Go donate! www.liverfoundation.org

 

What Colin Kaepernick did was completely ungrateful to a country that blessed him with so much opportunity:

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Colin Kaepernick recently decided that he wasn’t going to stand for the National Anthem in support of all the oppressed African-Americans in this country. While Kaepernick is entitled to exercise his first amendment rights just like any other American, it’s hard to agree with the method that he is using. Believe it or not Kaepernick is right when he says the oppression against black people and people of color should end. That part of his message is something that is honorable and just. However to not stand for a country that has blessed him with so much opportunity is a mistake on Kaepernick’s behalf. Right now 40% of Africa suffers from hunger and won’t be able to regularly obtain sufficient food. Right now 738 million people in the world lack access to clean water. Even in not so far away Cuba, people live on 26$ a month. So for Colin Kaepernick to turn his back on the flag and our country which has rewarded him with an annual salary of around $19 million dollars ( $1.58 million a month) is absurd. Kaepernick has the right to speak out against the social problems in this country but to turn your back on the flag means so much more than just one individual social stance. Think about the people of Syria right now who truly want peace but are in constant fear of their own safety. The same safety that Colin Kaepernick gets every day he is aloud to freely live his life in the greatest country on earth. Truthfully it doesn’t even feel like conviction is the true reason Kaepernick isn’t standing for the anthem. It feels more like football can’t keep Kaepernick in the spotlight anymore so now he needs something else to keep him popular. He lost the 49ers starting job and he is now becoming a distraction for this football team without producing. When you become a distraction and you don’t produce teams typically move on from that player. So don’t expect Kaepernick to be on the 49ers roster for very long and it’s hard to respect a guy like this. Colin Kaepernick doesn’t know how good he has it in this country.

Charity of the day: American Liver Foundation

Go donate! www.liverfoundation.org

Jaguars beat the Bengals 26-21 but the game wasn’t a true reflection of what’s to come:

Photo credit: John Grieshop / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Jacksonville Jaguars were able to comeback and beat the Cincinnati Bengals after back up quarterback Chad Henne stepped up and led the charge. While Henne was able to beat up on the Bengals back ups, it was the first stringers of both teams that gave us insight of what is to come this upcoming season. In the first quarter when both teams had their starters going it was clear the Bengals are the much better team. Offensively the Bengals looked great and the tandem of Giovani Bernard, and Jeremy Hill will be a load for this team when the regular season gets here. The Bengals are outstanding upfront and can really wear down opposing defenses. That was evident early on when the Bengals offensive line gave the Jaguars starting defense all they could handle. The Jaguars were supposed to be one of this off-season’s most improved teams but it was obvious in this football game that their defense is their weak point. The Bengals starters would of pounded this team had they stayed in the game and the Jaguars first and foremost have to get better at stopping the run. Defensively the Bengals starting unit contained Blake Bortles and company in every facet of the game. Geno Atkins was up to his usual tricks and one play he literally ate Luke Joeckel’s lunch. It goes to show that the Bengals defensive line is still one of the best in the league and that constant pressure is certainly a recipe for success. The Jaguars on the other hand need to improve their offensive line play and get Chris Ivory more involved. TJ Yeldon played good (besides his 1 fumble) but this team needs to develop a ground and pound mentality to take pressure off Bortles and Ivory can help in that regard. That will also keep the defense off the field for longer periods of time and give the Jaguars a better chance at success. Bottom line though if the Bengals starters played this entire game they would of rolled the Jaguars convincingly. Jacksonville hasn’t made the progress we all thought they would and that means the Texans will likely win the AFC South. For Cincinnati they will be tasked with getting passed the Steelers. The Bengals won the division last year but eventually fell to the Steelers in the playoffs. That is unacceptable for this team because they are too talented but if they don’t improve their weakness ( lack of discipline) they could find themselves in a similar situation. The gap between the Steelers and Bengals is so small at any moment either team could be on top. It will be up to the Bengals to understand they have to keep their poise no matter what the situation is and they have to beat Pittsburgh in the postseason when the time comes.

Charity of the day:  Veterans Support Organization

Go donate! www.theveteranssupport.org

Vikings roll through the Chargers for a 23-10 victory:

Photo credit: Adam Bettcher / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Minnesota Vikings are going to be a talented team again in 2016 and you could just see what this team is all about in their victory over the San Diego Chargers. Head Coach Mike Zimmer brings a great philosophy to Minnesota which is to play great defense and run the football. That approach won the Vikings the division last season and they really should have won their playoff game as well. Now after last season’s letdown Zimmer and company will do their best to make the necessary improvements with the goal of making a deep playoff run. With the way Teddy Bridgewater seems to be progressing that is very possible for this football team and Bridgewater had all his talents on display against the Chargers. Bridgewater finished the contest with 12 completions out of 16 passing attempts for 161 yards 1 touchdown pass and 0 interceptions. Teddy Bridgewater was efficient and commanded the offense brilliantly which eventually propelled this team to a victory. Bridgewater also showed some elusiveness running the football as well, so he has really come a long way in his development as a football player. Pro Bowl Tight End Kyle Rudolph also had a big day for this offense he finished the game with 3 receptions for 56 yards and 1 touchdown. Showing that he will be a vital piece to this offense this upcoming season. Rudolph will also see a spike in his production due to Bridgewater’s elevated play, so keep an eye on number 82’s stats and expect him to have a big year. Stefon Diggs had a big day too, so this passing offense could be very effective this upcoming year. They have a lot of talent when it comes to players that catch the football and the Vikings will definitely be the favorite to win the NFC North. They are the defending champs after all.

Charity of the day:  Veterans Support Organization

Go donate! www.theveteranssupport.org

Josh Gordon flat out shined in the Browns 3rd preseason game:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Josh Gordon played at high level in the Browns 3rd preseason game and Gordon was the Browns lone bright spot in Cleveland’s 30-13 loss to the Bucs. Gordon who has missed nearly two season of football due to suspensions looked amazing for the Browns in Hue Jackson’s new offense. Gordon has great size for a receiver standing 6’3 and weighing 225 pounds. He also runs like the wind and has the ability to make the big time catch. Josh Gordon proved that when he hauled in 2 receptions for 87 yard and 1 touchdown against Tampa Bay. That was in his first preseason game and when you have instant success like that good things are going to happen for you in the future. Josh Gordon truly hasn’t skipped a beat in his time away from the gridiron and you have to be ecstatic about getting this guy back if you’re Hue Jackson. The NFL reinstated Josh Gordon just as Jackson took over this team and the timing couldn’t be better for Cleveland. The Browns already have some good momentum going with the new coaching staff and now they get their most talented wide receiver back on the field. Football fans might not want to hear it but the Browns are quietly improving. This is a team that was in the gutter last year and now they at least have hope for the future. That hope could snowball into confidence and when that happens anything is possible. This upcoming season the Browns will still finish 3rd or 4th in the AFC North but they are trending in the right direction. Which is good news considering they were trending in the wrong direction just a season ago. Expect Gordon to be part of wide receiver group that includes Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pyror. Which could be a good group if RG3 can have an up year and get those guys the ball. Gordon still has to finish up a 4 game suspension but if he can stay clean he will be in the clear after that.

Charity of the day: Food for the Hungry

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Jameis Winston and Mike Evans prove they are one of the best duos out right now:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played very well in their 30-13 crushing of the Cleveland Browns and leading the way for the Bucs was Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Winston looked phenomenal for Tampa Bay finishing the game with 16 completions out of 25 passing attempts for 259 yards and 2 touchdown passes. Winston was poised in the pocket and delivered numerous strikes against the Browns defense. When the pass rush got in Winston’s face he would buy time with his feet and then find a receiver downfield time and time again. It was clear watching this game that Winston has progressed significantly and he is going to be a terrific player in his second year of pro football. It’s not just the way he plays either, Winston is an outstanding leader and he is certainly guiding this team in the right direction. Mike Evans also had a huge day for the Buccaneers recording 5 receptions for 115 yards and 1 touchdown. Evans was able to get behind the Browns defense on two huge plays in particular and the connection between both Winston and Evans seems to be flourishing heading in to the regular season. Evans is a flat out star at the receiver position and Winston can get Evans the ball better than most qb’s in the league can. Those two players are going to elevate one and other all season long and if you’re a fantasy football owner really keep an eye on Evans. He should have a huge year in this offense and the only thing that can hold this guy back is an injury. As long Evans can stay on the field he will flat out dominate and the Bucs look like they could finish 2nd in the NFC South. That could be could be good enough for a wildcard spot but it won’t come easy especially since the NFC is loaded with talented teams. Overall though these two players are the future of this league and they should produce huge results for a very long time.

Charity of the day: ALS Association

Go donate! www.alsa.org

The Atlanta Falcons were sluggish in a 6-17 loss to the Dolphins:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins both played their starters for the majority of the first half in last night’s game and it didn’t look good for the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan didn’t have a very convincing day throwing for 12 completions out of 22 passing attempts for no touchdowns and 1 interception. Ryan was also outplayed by Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill so that can’t sit well with the Falcons organization either. Besides losing the quarterback battle the Falcons also struggled with their offensive line play. There weren’t very many holes being opened up upfront and none of the Falcons running backs were able to get going. Devonta Freeman finished the day with only 8 yards on 5 rushing attempts and didn’t seem like the player he was last year. Maybe that was because the Dolphins defensive line played well all night long but still you would of liked to see more from the Falcons offensively. On the defensive side of the ball things didn’t go that well either. The Dolphins no huddle offense seemed to give the Falcons defense fits and Atlanta didn’t do a good enough job of rushing the quarterback. That could be a problem for the Falcons when the regular season rolls around and it just seems like this team doesn’t have enough key lineman on either side of the ball. If you can’t win in trenches it will be tough to have success in the NFL and that seems to be situation the Falcons find themselves in. A bright note for the Falcons was the fact that Matt Schaub continued his hot streak completing 10 out of 11 passes for 109 yards. Receiver Aldrick Robinson also had another big game finishing with 3 catches for 70 yards. Still collectively the team looks like they are going to regress and expect them to draft sooner rather than later in the 2017 Draft.

Charity of the day: ALS Association

Go donate! www.alsa.org

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