Photo credit: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
With Melvin Gordon coming off a phenomenal collegiate year last fall in Madison, he seems like a sure lock for success in his first year of professional action. Many players must go through a transition period from the college level to the pro’s but Gordon is a rare specimen. A superior athlete Gordon accumulated 2587 rushing yards last fall, looking many times much like a man amongst boys. Gordon will give the Chargers a much needed boost on the ground while Phillip Rivers will brush opposing defenses back through the air. The combination will likely pay great dividends for the Chargers in 2015 as they look to compete for the AFC West title a division that the Denver Broncos have dominated of recent. One thing is for certain most football analyst have praised the Chargers in their move of drafting Gordon. With running backs being a little more accessible lately in the National Football League, many teams have opted to fill other positions come draft time. In fact in the past we have seen past running backs like Willy Parker go undrafted and then get picked up in free agency and have success. Yet when you have a talent like Melvin Gordon sitting there and you have a guy that is clearly the most promising running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. You take that chance, and in the end it is very likely that chance is going to be the right one for San Diego. The passing game will now be able to feed off the rushing game. Meaning opposing defenses will try to crouch up closer to the line after a few good Gordon rushes. Leaving the defense more vulnerable to the Rivers pass. At the same time after a few good passes from Rivers the defense will back off and leave more running spaces for Gordon on the ground. A win-win scenario for the Chargers which gives their offense a significant boost and also helped the team move up three spots in the power rankings now sitting at #13 overall. Football should be interesting in southern Cal this fall.
Football players; Melvin Gordon
Charity of the day: Salvation Army
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Author: Jon Kuzma
With all the moves going on in Philly it’s time to see how much substance there is in Philly? With Chip Kelly at the helm wheeling and dealing the Eagles have made some good moves in giving the team more cap space for the future. They also have made some bad moves like trading Nick Foles who at this time last year was coming off a pro bowl season. With Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, and Tim Tebow on roster for the Eagles, it seems most likely that Bradford or Sanchez will win the job. Coincidently Kelly’s success will be strapped to the success of likely those two players. While Bradford seems like the candidate at the forefront, his track record of questionable health is definitely a red flag for Eagles fans. When he is on Bradford could potentially be a very good player for the birds. Maybe a change of scenery and being placed in a high power system like Kelly’s is just what Bradford needs to live up to the reputation he earned at Oklahoma. Or maybe Sanchez’s continuous growth over his career will be enough to finally get him back to being a number 1 quarterback. Sanchez who was once the man for the New York Jets has been mostly a back up ever since. He has seen some success in the past two years as the back up for the Eagles and maybe his cumulative efforts help him supplant Bradford. Who ever wins the job will have to play at a high enough level to get the Eagles back to the playoffs and win them a playoff game. While that is possible, it will be tough to bet on one of these Quarterbacks rising to the challenge and leading the team there. If the Eagles do win a playoff game it will likely be due to the fact that the team collectively has improved. Maybe from moves like adding Kiko Alonzo and getting better on defensive. Maybe it will be because Demarco Murray fits phenomenally in the offense. Whatever it is that gets the Eagles there, one thing is for certain they need to get to the playoffs and they need to win a playoff game to give the Eagles higher ups more validation in their hire of Kelly. If he didn’t trade Foles the off-season drama and chaos wouldn’t have put as much pressure on Kelly. Yet by making that move Kelly will have to show results this year. This is a business where owners turn the page quickly on coaches. If the Eagles regress this year there will be many questions about Kelly and the moves he has chose to make. It’s safe to say it’s make or break time for Chip Kelly.
Football predictions: Eagles will regress this season. If the Eagles choose to keep backing Kelly they might have a bright future due to salary cap space they have added. Allowing them to bring better players into the fold in the future.
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Author: Jon Kuzma
When the Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Football Manziel last season one thing was apparent from watching the process play out. The Browns organization seemed mixed on Manziel from the get go. Never have we seen a quarterback taken in the first round and not have the red carpet rolled out for him. It seemed like from day one head coach Mike Pettine was trying to put a limit on Manziel’s growth and that was the first time I’ve ever seen that happen to a first round pick personally. The right move was clearly to cut the chain off Manziel and let him take his lumps his rookie year and grow. Yet here we are in year two and coach Pettine is already stating that “it’s fair to say McCown is the favorite to be the starter”. Despite that if I were a betting man, I’d bet on Manziel this season. There has already been whispers around Browns training camp that Manziel’s performance thus far has been night and day compared to last years as one Brown put it. Manziel might not have all the tangibles that translate to a typical pocket passing quarterback in the NFL, but he is a fierce competitor and has the moxie to lead when he is on. While who knows if Manziel really needed help in his personal life or he just wanted to make a good public relations move. Going to rehab shows either way that he is willing to put in the effort to become a better man. That step could prove to be on the field, especially in terms of his focus. Often time last year it was said that Manziel was underachieving in terms of running and directing the offense. A Manziel with clarity will be a dangerous one for opposing offenses.
One question still remans though? Why did Cleveland draft Manziel in the first round if Pettine was never going to embrace him?
Football players: Johnny Manziel
Charity of the day: African Wildlife Foundation
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Author: Jon Kuzma
The Seattle Seahawks were big winners this off-season landing a deal with the New Orleans Saints who sent arguably the best tight end in the game (outside Gronkowski) to the Hawks. With the acquisition Russell Wilson will have a superstar threat to throw to when things break down. Anyone who has been around the game of football knows that tight ends can be a quarterbacks best friend because the distance of throws to a tight end is relatively shorter than to a wide receiver. Making the pass to the tight end a much more high percentage play for success. Another thing that stands out when watching great tight ends is they have a bigger frame typically. Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzales, Jason Witten, Rob Gronkowski, and Kellen Winslow Sr. are all outstanding tight end’s in their own rights and all of them also come in around the 6’5 250 lbs range. Jimmy Graham has this same similar size, and he is exceptionally athletic despite that size. You could see that athleticism last year against the 49ers when he nearly stole the show completing a hail mary reception over Perrish Cox. The play would go on to eventually get over turned but it was scary to see how well Graham could elevate over defense backs. A position that is typically more athletic then tight ends.
The next thing that will be big for Graham is the system that he plays in. The Seahawks run many zone read concepts. Where Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch combine to really incorporate to plays in one. The run to Lynch and the quarterback keeper to Wilson. It will be interesting to see how the superstar tight end meshes into that whole process. With so much emphasize needed to be committed to the run, the middle of the field might be wide open where the linebackers just left from to fill the run. It seems to be an ideal situation for Graham and a betting man would bet on an up year from Jimmy Graham.
Projection: 12 touchdowns. Football players; Jimmy Graham.
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Author: Jon Kuzma
With the NFL combine finishing up and reviews of just about every big time college player taking place. I would like to state that I’m not a big fan of this years quarterback draft class. While it’s usually best to choose a quarterback who is slightly oversized, it’s hard to be convinced Jameis Winston is that guy. Yes has everything I want in a quarterback. Great size, a big arm, and played at a big time college program. However it’s his decision making on and off the field that worry me. If you could take away the bone headed mistakes Winston has made off the field, I would be a hundred percent a supporter of his and draft him without second thought number one overall. The fact is though Winston hasn’t shown the maturity to hand him the reigns of a whole NFL franchise. When looking at him it seems very much like the pick the Buccaneers used on Josh Freeman out of Kansas State. A very talented quarterback coming out of college standing similar in stature to Winston. Freeman was slightly bigger being 6’6 240 while Winston is 6’4 230. The difference there being Winston was a much more accomplished passer during his time in the colligate ranks. Putting up about twenty touchdowns more than Freeman in a year less of time at the helm. The good news for Winston is scouts were amped about his football I.Q at the combine many saying “he has the best football I.Q we have ever seen”. I wonder how Peyton Manning feels about that?
The Buc’s will undoubtedly have a tough decision to make with the number 1 pick. It’s always tough when you’re in the position that the Buc’s are in coming off a two win season. They need a franchise savior and usually when you have the number 1 pick a quarterback just makes sense. Every team can take a step in the right direction by landing a big name quarterback. I’m actually surprised more teams don’t move back(trade down), and honestly if I didn’t take a Q.B I would most likely draft a defensive tackle to solidify the defense. In the Buc’s case though they already have that piece in Gerald McCoy. Also with the emerging star wide receiver in Mike Williams it just makes sense to get a guy who can get him the ball. Don’t expect that to be anyone but Jameis Winston and truthfully that is the right pick for this franchise.
After that time will only tell if he is Jameis the savior or similar to the likes of Josh Freeman and Jamarcus Russell, NFL failures with a similar mold.
Charity of the day: American Humane Association
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Photo credit: Icon Sportswire
Author: Jon Kuzma
While the fact that Suh is still hanging around the Detroit area could be a non-factor on whether or not he resigns with the Detroit Lions. It does say one thing. He wasn’t repulsed enough during his time here in Detroit that he felt like he had to skip town as soon as the season was over. Which is a good thing to hear if you’re a Detroit Lions fan. In fact just a few days ago Suh updated his Facebook status saying “Beautiful morning in Detroit for an indoor workout”. With the season being over Suh has no responsibilities at the moment as far as team activities go. He very easily could have spent the off-season back around the Portland Orgeon area where his family has ties. Yet the player who has been often been called “selfish” by some Lions fans is still around the area of the team that drafted and calling Detroit “beautiful”. Enough to make some fans think “hey, maybe he is coming back”? Another thing that stands out about Suh is the fact that the Lions brass has continuously made announcements remaining optimistic about retaining the pro bowl defensive lineman. Mayhew has publicly stated that he believe “a deal is close with Suh”. The most coveted free agent will surely be courted by other teams but Suh is a smart guy. He has to know his opportunity in Detroit is special. He is the hero of a rebuilding city that was once a precious piece to the American puzzle. His importance and impact go beyond just the playing field, he is a symbol for the community. A symbol that if the Lions who were often the doormat team of the NFL can turn it around. So can the city itself. Look for Suh to remain a Lion.
Charity of the day: Breast Cancer Research Foundation
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Author: Jon Kuzma
35 Million dollars. That was how much Roger Goodell made in 2013 and while that number was down from the 44.2 million that Goodell brought in during the 2012 season. He is now the highest paid commissioner of all the major sports leagues. He was once only surpassed by Major League Baseball’s commissioner Bud Selig. However since 2011 Goodell’s pay has substantially increased while Selig’s salary capped out around 22 million (before his retirement). Keep in mind the NFL is the highest grossing and most prestigious of all of the American sports leagues. So yes he should indeed be the highest paid commissioner because he is working for the league that offers the best product. Yet when you factor in all of the blunders and mishaps Goodell has had, he doesn’t hardly seem worth the steep price that he is getting paid. A guy known for his stern approach and his disciplinarian style, Goodell gives off the vibe that he is arrogant but does so very subtly. Anyone with any competence in judging ones character can see that the commish is pompous, and a not very likable guy. In fact in a poll held by ESPN in 2014 the people of the United States voted that 37.8% of people disliked Goodell, that was the majority. In another poll held by CBS Sports 60% of players of the league didn’t support Roger Goodell as their commissioner. While sometimes being likable can be overrated, other times being unlikeable can be a measure of ones poor efforts. The fact is the NFL was going to strive with whoever was at the helm because it is the greatest sport in our country. The question remains how much of a cap did Goodell put on the leagues growth? With the Ray Rice case under his belt, the inconsistency on punishments, and the over glorifying of himself through the punishment of his players. One would have to say enough to make an impact and not in a good way. So while the great owners of the league like Arthur Blank will be politically correct and endorse Goodell. Hopefully you will be smart enough to make your own decision.
Charity of the day: Homes for Our Troops
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Author: Jon Kuzma
Super Bowl XLIX was one of the better moments in Super Bowl history. After watching the Broncos get annihilated in last years Super Bowl it was good to get back to good competitive football. The action was back and forth most of the game and like many games in the National Football League it came down to the last possession. With a coach like Pete Carroll though you’re safe from a bad football decision with the game on the line, right? Wrong, the Seahawks would go on to do the unthinkable in the last thirty seconds of the game and decide to throw a pass from the half yard line. This pass was then picked off by Malcolm Butler and fans got to watch Tom Brady celebrate profusely on the sideline most likely wondering “why in the hell did they throw there?”
While Pete himself has came out and stood by the decision to go for it, and even Bellichick himself has come out to support the decision made by Carroll. The fact is it was flat out WRONG. We live in age of pro football where fundamentals have evaporated from the game. Could you imagine Vince Lombardi watching that play call from heaven? He most likely would have died again. It was unstomachable to watch that play, you had to feel for the Seahawks players whether you were rooting for them or not. To get all the way down to the half yard line and have the best running back in football and pass. That is completely unacceptable.
Now Pete Carroll is still a phenomenal football coach but he was clearly getting a little too aggressive down the stretch. Fake field goal pass against the Packers, going for it in the end of the first half of the Super Bowl (which led to Chris Matthew touchdown), and finally passing at the end of the game on the one yard line. Didn’t he realize his luck was bound to run out sooner or later? I mean heck even at USC he went for it on fourth down against Texas in the national championship (and while that didn’t work), still the football gods clearly were more than generous to Pete Carroll. Here at endzoneblog.com we love Pete he is a great coach and tremendous person, but shame on you for that call. You let your players down.
Charity of the day: Donors Choose
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Author: Joey Carr
With the Lions recent success the organization is in a rare position. It’s been a longtime since the Lions stock arrow has been pointing up and quarterback Matt Stafford has much to do with that success. In fact Stafford is the fastest player to ever throw for 20,000 yards. He did so in seventy one games that’s three games sooner than the great Dan Marino who did so in seventy four games. And just recently Stafford won the Pro Bowl’s offensive most valuable player award throwing for over three hundred yards. Such feats would likely make you here on most teams.
Yet despite these accomplishments many fans in the Detroit area are still openly bashing the young gun slinger. Often questioning Stafford’s decision making ability and interception rate. Most of this focus on the negative is unfair judgement of Stafford. Fans have to remember just how difficult it is to play quarterback in the Nation Football League. Yea it’s easy to say “look at the way Rodgers throws and conducts the offense”. That doesn’t mean getting rid of Stafford is going to bring in a player even remotely close to Rodgers abilities. In all likelihood the Lions would regress getting rid of number 9 due to the fact they would have to develop the next player they bring in.
The fact is Stafford will likely go unappreciated in Detroit until the city nearly drives him out of town. Hopefully Stafford has enough character to look past the naysayers or the fans of Detroit might end up being the ones remorseful in the end when he skips town for greener pastures.
Charity of the day: Boys and Girls Club of America
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