The coaching carrousel continues to turn:

Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Author: Jon Kuzma

There has been coaching news flying all around the press and media lately. Chip Kelly reportedly interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers. A move that seems like a good fit for both parties. Will Kelly be back on the NFL sidelines for 2016? It seems like he will be, the uber talented coach will likely find a new home shortly. Whichever team takes a risk on him whether it be the 49ers or another team will get a truly talented coach who can turn a team into a contender quickly. If Kelly doesn’t get a shot in the NFL he also met with the University of Alabama and Nick Saban. So Chip Kelly in Crimson Tide red could also be an option in the near future. Kelly isn’t the only coach who is on the move. Adam Gase the former offensive coordinator of the Bears and Broncos took the head coaching job at Miami. Gase has been highly coveted by NFL teams recently and the interest became so overwhelming for Gase that you knew he was going to be a head coach very soon. Gase replaces Dan Campbell who was the head coach for the Dolphins after Joe Philbin was fired. The Dolphins are hoping Gase’s systematic approach will result in success down in Miami. Finally the Philadelphia Eagles made headlines by announcing that Tom Coughlin will interview for their head coaching position. The Eagles have interviewed a wide variety of different candidates but you have to figure stealing Coughlin away from the Giants would be their main goal at this point. The move stirs things up in the NFC East by putting Coughlin on the enemy’s sidelines. You have to figure Coughlin would be motivated to beat the Giants and show the world what he can do as well. Despite Coughlin’s old age he still has a lot of energy and that burning passion to get even with the Giants and the naysayers might be exactly what the Eagles need to get back on track. One thing is for certain, the coaching wheel keeps on turning.

Charity of the day: Environmental Defense Action Fund

Go donate! www.edf.org

The Wildcard Game that’s on Upset Alert:

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Author: Joey Carr

A couple of months ago, I predicted that the Washington Redskins would win the NFC East, but also have a .500 record or below. At the time, Kirk Cousins was struggling to win games and the defense was average at best. Fast forward to now: Cousins is arguably the hottest quarterback in the league coming into the playoffs, the defense has performed beyond expectations, and the Skins as a team are meshing together quite nicely. So, a matchup at home with the slumping Green Bay Packers this weekend might seem like a cakewalk for the Packers, but I say differently.
Naturally, Aaron Rodgers and the Pack are going to be favored in this matchup. However, the Redskins finished the season on a real hot streak and the Green Bay on the other hand, did not. This, paired with the fact that Rodgers has been less than impressive, points to a very possible upset, which I am behind. So, before you call me crazy and shout “Blasphemy!” at me for choosing Rodgers over Cousins, look at the stats. Kirk led the league in completion percentage and yards per attempt down the stretch, leading the Skins to a 5-1 record. While Cousins was proving to the league that he’s a legitimate quarterback, Rodgers was struggling mightily, throwing more picks than he ever has and costing Green Bay the NFC North Title. The Washington receivers and tight ends performed marvelously at the end of the season, catching more touchdowns than any other corps in the league. The Packers receivers, as you can guess, didn’t play up to par by any means. The running game for both teams was not their strongest suit, but if I had to, I would give the advantage to GB, as they have more depth with stronger runners. The defense on the other hand is more in favor of the Skins. Now, there’s always the possibility that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will turn it on for the postseason, playing like they were expected to play all season long and blowing out the unmatched Redskins in their own home. However, if I was a betting man, and I’m not, I would be choosing the Redskins this weekend for the simple fact that they possess more momentum and, simply put, have the better quarterback as of right now.

Charity of the day: Environmental Defense Action Fund

Go donate! www.edf.org

 

 

 

Lovie Smith didn’t deserve to be fired when the Bucs were on an upswing:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a very foolish decision yesterday releasing Lovie Smith who is an outstanding football coach in hopes to find the “right guy” for this franchise. Coach Smith has a long tenured history of success in the National Football League and the fact that Jason Licht felt like he was qualified to release Lovie Smith is upsetting to not only the fans but football insiders as well. Smith was handed a team depleted of talent when he took over this Buccaneers’ franchise. That resulted in a 2-14 campaign Smith’s first year in Tampa Bay. In Smith’s second season he would make positive steps toward a more successful future with Winston running his offense. Yet the Buccaneers only finished the season 6-10, but you could clearly see the potential there in that situation. With a little bit more continuity over time this Buccaneers franchise was going to flourish and it was easy to see. Clearly that vision wasn’t foreseen by Jason Licht and now the Buccaneers are going to put learning a new system and adjusting to a new coach not only Jameis Winston’s shoulders but also the rest of this football team’s. The thing you want most for your players is for them to be relaxed. A relaxed athlete will react faster than a tense athlete. Meaning a player that has to overthink tends to be slower on the field than a player that flows naturally with the game. The Buccaneers were at the point where they were just flowing naturally with the game. The system they were taught they were all just buying into. At the end of the day it isn’t a good idea to change things when they are finally beginning to work. That is exactly what the Tampa Buccaneers did and there is an old saying “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” We will see where the Buccaneers go from here and who they feel is better suited to lead this franchise than Lovie Smith.

Charity of the day: Help Our Wounded

Go donate! www.helpourwounded.org

Broncos announce Peyton Manning will be the starter heading into the postseason:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos decided that Peyton Manning’s veteran savvy was what the team needed moving forward. Manning came in and executed nicely in week 17 for the Broncos and that was enough to land the 18th year quarterback his job back. While Manning’s regular season stats were very poor with 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Manning has playoff experience and has played on those big stages before unlike Brock Osweiler. Ultimately the Broncos felt their safest bet would be to play Peyton oppose to the up and coming Osweiler. The biggest difference between the two is arm strength. While Manning looked better in week 17 again the Chargers. The all time NFL leading passer in terms of yardage struggles now to make the big time throws. If Manning can’t connect on those intermediate and deep passes than maybe the Broncos are better suited with the youthful Brock Osweiler. This is a decision that could blow up in the Broncos face. While you know you’re going to get a few boneheaded mistakes from the younger player. Osweiler still can make the throws that at this point Manning can’t make in his career. The storyline of the Broncos playoff defeat last year was Manning not being able to get the job done throwing wise. Will the Broncos suffer that same defeat as they did last year? Or maybe Peyton rises to the occasion and the Broncos are the big winners by going with him. That is why sports are so fascinating, they are like real life drama series unfolding right in front of us. One person who can’t be happy about all of the drama is Osweiler. In Manning’s stead Osweiler led this football team to a number of big wins. Wins that ultimately kept this team’s postseason hopes alive. It’s hard to turn the page on Osweiler if you’re the Broncos however at the end of the day this is the professional level and big time choices have to be made. This was a gutsy call by the Broncos we will see how it all pans out.

Charity of the day: Environmental Defense Fund

Go donate! www.edf.org

What’s happening around the league: wildcard weekend

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Author: Jon Kuzma

 

Sean Payton staying in the Big Easy

The Saints have announced that Sean Payton will be staying in New Orleans. After speculation all year whether or not he was going to be staying on as the Saints Head Coach. We now find out that there will be no changes taking place and much of that speculation is just rumors. Payton has two more years on his contract with New Orleans and stated “There’s more moments, more wins, and more playoffs.” Showing that the coach is convinced there is still bright days ahead for this franchise. In order to achieve that success this team will have to address their defensive woes. The team finished 31st in the league in yards surrendered per game. Allowing an average of 413 yards per game. They can address those shortcomings by improving their defensive line in the offseason either through the draft or through free agency.

Calvin Johnson contemplating retirement

Calvin Johnson has announced that he is officially contemplating retirement. The 9th year player out of Georgia Tech has had a prolific career and certainly has to be thinking about getting out early. Lets face it, it’s better to get out sooner rather than later when it comes to football. Johnson has proved he is the best wide receiver in the league during his playing days. He has nothing left to prove and millions of dollars in the bank account. If Johnson were to retire honestly who could blame him? He has paid his dues for Lions’ fans and at some point he is going to have to walk away from the game. Better on his own terms than on the general public’s.

Coaching shake ups:

With the Giants, 49ers, Eagles, Titans, and Browns all looking for head coaches things are getting interesting in regards to where the chips are going to fall (no pun intended). Chip Kelly has reached out to the San Francisco 49ers about potentially coach there. This comes after the 49ers of course released Jim Tomsula just after one season of service. The Niners just released Harbaugh a season ago for his extreme measures so it’s funny that Kelly reached out to them. However the west coast destination was probably a factor in that inquiry. The Giants who parted ways with Tom Caughlin have reached out to Steve Spagnuolo, Ben McAdoo, and a few other candidates. It will be interesting to see who the Giants select for their next coach. Hue Jackson the offensive coordinator of the Bengals is scheduled to interview with the Browns. While the rest of the scenarios are just playing out day by day. Still the head coaching landscape of the league will dramatically change this offseason and it will be interesting to see those changes on the field in 2016.

Charity of the day: HelpMeSee

Go donate! helpmesee.org

 

Seahawks and Vikings square off again in NFC Wildcard grudge match:

Photo credit: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks rolled the Minnesota Vikings the last time they’ve played each other 38-7. That wasn’t the only team the Seahawks have rolled since then. They just last week pummeled an outstanding Arizona Cardinals team 36-6 and enter the postseason with a ton of momentum on their side. Outside of the Kansas City Chiefs the Seahawks are the hottest football team in the NFL right now. After nearly falling apart at the beginning of the season this team has done a great job of regrouping and they finished the season strong. The Vikings ended their season on a good note by clinching the NFC North division title. Will that success they had last weekend translate over to the playoffs? It’s not likely, the Seahawks looked inward and found that team that has been to two straight Super Bowls. Now that they have their rhythm and sync back they are a very dangerous football team. The Seahawks enter this weekend better in nearly every category than the Vikings. A large part of that success is due to the fact that the Seahawks defense has got back in their groove. They only allow an average of 81.5 rushing yards to opposing offenses. They are also only allowing 17.3 points per game so teams really struggle to put up points up against the Seahawks. With Bridgewater only throwing for 99 yards against the Packers. He might have a really hard time trying to operate against this Seahawks front four. If the Vikings want a shot at winning this game it will be just like last week’s game plan. The Vikings have to feed Adrian Peterson early and often. If the Vikings are going to make a deep postseason run it will be done on the legs of Peterson’s rushing efforts. The other half of the formula will be playing outstanding defense which the Vikings have done for most of the year. They have to continue to play at a high level and really be at their best if they want to have any postseason success. If you’re a betting man, bet on Seattle.

Charity of the day: HelpMeSee

Go donate! helpmesee.org

Chiefs travel to Houston to face the Texans in AFC Wildcard:

Photo credit: Scott Halleran / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The red hot Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Houston to face JJ Watt and the Houston Texans. The Chiefs have been playing solid football on both sides of the ball up to this point. That is why they enter Saturday’s match up on a 10 game win streak. That is right the Chiefs haven’t lost since week 6 when they were defeated by the Minnesota Vikings 16-10. Since then it’s been nothing but outstanding football and they head to Houston with more momentum than just about anyone right now. Alex Smith the Chiefs starting quarterback has been playing good football during the regular season. He has thrown for 20 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions on the year. Finishing the season with 3,486 passing yards. If the Chiefs want to have success against this tough Houston defense Smith will have to operate effectively and efficiently. By limiting turnovers in the game Smith can put the Chiefs in a position to succeed. Throwing a couple touchdowns passes wouldn’t be that bad either. At the end of the day though Smith has to manage the game and keep his poise in the tough postseason conditions. Those Texan fans will be nearly bringing down the house as Houston makes their first playoff appearance since 2012. Andy Reid’s even-keeled approach is a great form of leadership and he will do everything in his power to help the Chiefs eliminate the noise and distractions. In the game it will be up to Reid to call on running back Charcandrick West to lead the rushing efforts for Kansas City. By out rushing the Texans and allowing Smith to do his part in the aerial attack the team can tilt this match up in their favor. On the defense side of the ball they need their playmakers to step up and do what they’ve done all year. Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry have to rally the troops and clamp down on DeAndre Hopkins and company. Not an easy task but certainly achievable. Will the Chiefs be able to survive and move on to the next round? Only time will tell, if you followed this team all season though you have to like your odds.

Charity of the day: Global Green USA

Go donate! www.globalgreen.org

Chuck Pagano was retained by the Indianapolis Colts:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

With speculation coming out of Colts camp all season long that Chuck Pagano was going to be fired. The Colts instead decided to go against that speculation and chose to retain Coach Pagano’s services. The Colts and Pagano agreed to a four year contract that will keep Pagano in Indianapolis until 2020. The move was the right one for owner Jim Irsay because most importantly he builds more continuity throughout this organization. Pagano and General Manager Ryan Grigson have been developing themselves as a head coach and G.M at the NFL level. It makes more sense to keep those guys in place and allow them to continue to grow within those roles. Rather than bringing in fresh personnel at the head coach and G.M position and having that new personnel go through the trial and error that each person will go through when starting a new job. One other thing that stood out with Chuck Pagano is the fact that his star quarterback Andrew Luck had been out of the line up and really off his game for most of the year. When Luck went down Pagano and this team found ways to stay competitive without their franchise quarterback. Even down to the last game of the season the Colts were able to overcome the Titans and do all they could to get to the postseason. Yet the Texans won and the rest was history. It’s that ability to fight when the world is crumbling around you that will inspire those around you. Pagano showed despite all of the chaos that was swirling around the Indianapolis Colts he could still keep this team competitive. If he can add more talent to that foundation this offseason. This team could be right back to being in the postseason. Especially if Andrew Luck heals up and gets back to his usual self. Which he most likely will. Give Irsay and the Colts credit at the end of the day they made the right move.

Charity of the day: Global Green USA

Go donate! www.globalgreen.org

Vikings win the NFC North with a great defensive effort against the Packers:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Minnesota Vikings were able to win the NFC North division championship last night with a 20-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers. That match up was at Lambeau field and yet the Vikings were still able to overcome the odds. Much of the their success was due to the fact that they were able to sack Aaron Rodgers 5 times. Rodgers never could get in synch because the Vikings pass rush was breathing down his neck all night. Another big factor in the match up was the fact that Minnesota was able to win in the running game. Adrian Peterson was the games leading rusher with 19 carries for 67 yards and 1 touchdown on the night. Eddie Lacy was the leading rusher for the Packers with 34 yards. Not one Packers running back was able to find the end zone in this match up. By effectively taking away the running and disrupting Rodgers early and often. The Vikings were able to tilt this game in their favor. Despite winning the game Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t very impressive in this match up throwing for only 99 yards no touchdowns and an interception. While on the other hand Aaron Rodgers was able to throw for 291 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception. If you just read into those stats you would think the Packers won. Especially when you also factor in that James Jones had over a 100 yards receiving for the Packers. However turnovers killed the Packers. Whether it was an interception by Xavier Rhodes on a Rodgers pass or Captain Munnerlyn ion a scoop and score. Plays like that will cost a football team down the stretch and that is why the Packers aren’t the NFC North division champs. The Vikings have to be proud of how far they’ve come. Mike Zimmer really has done a great job of turning this team around in a short period of time. The Vikings are looking the best they’ve looked since Favre was in town.

Charity of the day: March of Dimes Foundation

Go donate! www.marchofdimes.org

Texans earn their respect and a playoff bid with a win over the Jaguars 30-6.

Photo credit: Bob Levey / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Houston Texans have made the transition from a doormat team to a playoff contender in Bill O’brien’s second year as head football coach of the Texans. The team finished with a 9-7 record and are the AFC South division champions after beating the Jaguars 30-6. The Jaguars had a chance to show that they could be the future of the AFC South with young star quarterback Blake Bortles. Yet it was the Texans who proved they are the team who will control this division from here on out. Houston was able to win this game with solid pressure upfront on Blake Bortles. The recipe for beating any talented quarterback is getting a good pass rush. The Texans were able to sack Bortles 8 times in the game completely eliminating any chance for success from the Jaguars quarterback position. JJ Watt led that defensive surge with 8 tackles, 3 sacks, and 3 tackles for losses. Showing why is he the best player on the planet still defensively. Watt finished the regular season with 17.5 sacks on the season. That was despite the fact that he was playing with a cast on his left hand for a portion of the season. Outside of Watt, Whitney Mercilus was a big factor for the Texans defense. He recorded 5 tackles and 3.5 sacks on the day. Offensively Alfred Blue rushed for a 102 yards on the ground for the Texans offense. While DeAndre Hopkins hauled in 7 receptions for 89 yards receiving. For the Jaguars Allen Robinson had a big day finishing with 5 receptions for 108 yards. While Johnathan Cyprien finished with 14 total tackles for the Jaguars defense. Bortles finished the day with 239 yards passing yards no touchdowns and two interceptions. Compared to Brian Hoyer for the Texans. Who finished the day with 249 passing yards a touchdown and 1 interception. The Texans will continue their season Sunday against the Chiefs in a wildcard match up. Kick-off is slated for 4:35 P.M.

Charity of the day: March of Dimes Foundation

Go donate! www.marchofdimes.org

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