All signs point to this being Peyton’s last rodeo:

Photo credit: Joe Amon / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

Peyton Manning has told his family members that this will be his last year of professional football. While many football fans are disappointed to hear that Manning is walking away. This shouldn’t come as a shocker to anyone in the football industry. Manning’s old age has caught up with him and it was clearly seen in his play throughout this season. While some Manning optimist believed that he has a couple more years left in him. The results on the field told a different story. Manning was overwhelmingly ineffective in the regular season. In fact he was so bad at one point that analysts and insiders around the league questioned whether or not Manning was actually holding the Denver Broncos back. The truth is Manning struggles now with the game from a physical stand point. The arm isn’t what it used to be. Causing him to put more balls in the dirt than ever. He also has seen the hits pile up over time. Now that Manning’s body is frail any hit could potentially re-injure that already damaged neck. After multiple operations to the injury and a complete loss of feeling in his finger tips. Manning has decided that walking away from the game with some of his health intact is the best move for his family and himself. Manning will have a bright life after his football career. He has already dabbled into acting with his Papa John’s commercials and his laundry list of other endorsements. So he could easily make it as a television analyst or as an actor. One other post playing opportunity might be to take the field as a coach. It was reported that Ole Miss offered Manning their head coaching job while Manning was sidelined for a season with an injury. Being such a bright football mind you have to figure that there would be other suitors looking to land Manning to lead their football team. What young player wouldn’t want to play for the great Peyton Manning? Regardless one thing is for certain. Manning’s playing days are limited and this will most likely be the last game we see Manning play in. It’s up to him to leave it all out on the field and do everything he can to take down the Panthers. It won’t be an easy task by any means.

Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

Go donate! www.woundedwarriorproject.org

Allen Robinson: On the verge of greatness

Photo credit: Wesley Hitt / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Allen Robinson had a great year for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2nd year player out of Penn State finished the 2015 season with 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Those 1,400 yards were good enough for 6th best in the league. He was a truly dynamic player and one of Blake Bortles favorite weapons. Robinson made tremendous strides in his second year and look for him to continue elevating his game entering his 3rd season. The Jaguars have to pleased with this guys progression. Robinson was drafted in the 2 round of the 2014 draft with the 29th pick. Even though expectations were clearly high for Robinson. He still shattered all expectations in 2015 by being flat out dominant on the football field. Along with Allen Hurns, Robinson gives the Jaguars outstanding wide receivers on the edges. This allows the Jaguars to spread the ball out effectively and create running lanes by stretching the defense. Without players like Hurns and Robinson, the Jaguars would have a tough time keeping opposing defenses honest. Instead defenders have to play 2 safety high defenses and 7 in the box football. While that only translated to 5 wins in 2015. The teams stock arrow is clearly pointing up and they seem to be trending towards success for the first time in awhile. That is due to players like Allen Robinson and their efforts. The Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t the only team to benefit from Robinson’s receiving skills either. Team Irvin which was Michael Irvin’s team in the Pro Bowl also got a boost from having Robinson in their line up. Robinson finished the Hawaii event with 105 yards and touchdown. No other receiver in the game had more yards receiving than Robinson did. It’s clear that this guy is a very special player and on the verge of greatness.

Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

Go donate! www.woundedwarriorproject.org

Calvin Johnson walks away from the game as one of the best receivers ever:

Photo credit: Gregory Shamus

Author: Jon Kuzma

With Adam Schefter announcing that Calvin Johnson’s playing days are most likely over. You have to have mixed feelings upon hearing the announcement. First and foremost Johnson has plenty of gas left in the tank. At 30 years old Johnson might not be the player that he once was, but he still could easily play 3 more seasons effectively. On the opposite end of the spectrum with all the awareness we are gaining about concussions and with the injuries a pro football player must endure of the course of their career. You can’t really blame the 9th year player because he walks away healthier than he would if he continued to play for x amount of seasons. At the end of the day Johnson did what was best for him and people should be respectful of that. Of course Detroit fans and Calvin Johnson fans will be upset to see their favorite player walk away from it all. Yet Johnson has very little left to prove at the professional ranks. Calvin is already one of the greatest wide receivers to ever the play the game. He finishes his career with 731 receptions, 11,619 receiving yards, and 83 touchdowns. Numbers that might be inferior to past greats like Jerry Rice, and Randy Moss. Yet you have to once again keep in perspective that players careers will be shorter from here on out. Due to the rising awareness of the long term negative effects on the body as far as injuries go. Clearly when Johnson weighed those pros and cons the decision became much easier. Another factor is the fact that Johnson also has enough money to walk away and never have to worry about his finances. In 2012 Johnson signed an 8 year 132 million dollar contract extension to stay with the Lions. That move set up Johnson’s future nicely and there wasn’t much left for him to accomplish personally outside of winning a Super Bowl. Johnson received high praise from his peers around the league and will be remembered as a dynamic playmaker who often put the Lions on his back. Now CJ will transition to the next phase of life and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Charity of the day: National Council on Aging

Go donate! www.ncoa.org

The Texans must keep progressing and landing a quarterback would ensure that:

Photo credit: Thomas B. Shea

Author: Jon Kuzma

Bill O’brien has done a great job of turning the Houston Texans back into a contender. The former Penn State head football coach in showing that his methods do in fact make the transition to the pro level. With the Texans getting back to this postseason in 2015. One thing stood out in their loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. That was the fact that Brian Hoyer was not good enough to get the job done on the big stage. Hoyer who had 4 interceptions and a fumble lost was a complete mess in that match. The result was the Texans laying a big goose egg in the score box. That is right, the Houston Texans didn’t score a single point in wildcard game against the Chiefs. In order to fix that problem moving into the future the team has to do it’s best to upgrade at the quarterback position. If Brock Osweiler chooses not to re-sign in Denver he would be a good fit for the Texans. Osweiler is certainly an upgrade over Hoyer and has to be pretty irked with how the Broncos handled his situation. If Osweiler prefers a change of scenery Houston might serve as good landing spot. It will also give the quarterback a chance to compete for a contender that could potentially surpass his old team. Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Johnny Manziel, and Robert Griffin the third are all other players that could be on the move. Yet it’s unlikely Fitzpatrick would head back to Houston (he’ll likely re-sign in New York) and Kirk Cousins will most likely re-sign with Washington. If the Texans can’t land one of those other free agents maybe they could look to add their franchise quarterback through the draft. Paxton Lynch would be a dream for the Texans, but maybe instead they could trade back and take a player like Connor Cook. If the Texans could add a guy like Connor Cook and then land another marquee player in the draft like Kenny Clark, or Derrick Henry. That would be the boost to get the Texans deeper in the postseason. It will take some serious wheeling and dealing by Texans general manager Rick Smith. However if you’re the Texans you have understand you’re closer than ever to a championship run. Now is the time to be aggressive and make a few deals to move up or move back and bring more talent in for your team. The window of opportunity can pass quickly if the Texans aren’t careful. That is why the first move they should make first and foremost is drafting a quarterback.

Charity of the day: National Council on Aging

Go donate! www.ncoa.org

Football online: How the new look Eagles must get back on track

Photo credit: Mitchell leff / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Philadelphia Eagles look to embark on a new path after hiring Doug Pederson to lead their football team. Pederson comes to Philadelphia after coordinating the Chiefs offensive attack. While offense is Pederson’s specialty it will be the defense that he must improve in order to see this team soar to new heights. Under Chip Kelly this defense regressed significantly ranking 30th in the league. Part of that is due to Chip Kelly’s uptempo philosophy which often hung the defense out to dry. However when you rank so low, it has to be a combination of things. The personnel on the defensive side of the ball is certainly lacking talent and must be addressed. Statistically the defense was dead last in rushing yards surrendered with a horrific 134.6 yards per game given up.  One solution to those problems would be to draft an interior defensive lineman that can help clog up some of those running lanes. Outside of that the team should look at replacing a few linebackers with some free agents as well to give the team a boost at the position. As far as the draft goes they could get a guy like A’shawn Robinson, Vernon Butler, or even Shaq Lawson to sure up the line. While at the backer position they should target a key free agent like Von Miller to solidify the shortcomings that Chip Kelly left. A few mock drafts that came out have the Eagles going on the offensive side of the ball to make this team better. Yet when you have an offensive minded coach like Pederson, he should be able to do more with less on the offensive side of the ball. That is why it would be best for him to go defense in the draft and sure up the side of the ball that had the most problems in 2015. Regardless Eagle fans have to ecstatic about the fresh start. It will be interesting to see how everything pans out.

Charity of the day:  Volunteers of America

Go donate! www.voa.org

Travis Kelce is getting the recognition that he deserves:

Photo credit: Elsa / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is a rich man after inking a 5 year 46 million dollar contract. Kelce has been one of the top tight ends in the pro football ranks after he finished his collegiate playing days at Cincinnati. The 3rd year pro had 5 touchdown receptions during the 2015 season. He also hauled in 875 receiving yards which are very impressive numbers for a tight end. Kelce is certainly one of the Chiefs best offensive weapons and he serves as a great target for Alex Smith. Whether it’s a crossing route or a playaction pass Kelce did a great job of providing big plays for this offense. He has 10 career touchdown passes and the rate that he score touchdowns will definitely grow in the near future. As long as Kelce doesn’t get hurt he has a bright future in this league. Tight ends are so valuable because they serve as a safety net for quarterbacks. The throw to a tight end is a lot closer than to a receiver on the outside. When a tight end and quarterback have good chemistry it can yield big returns for the passer and that is what the Chiefs hope to continue by inking Kelce. Travis Kelce is a better receiving tight end than he is a blocker. He is faster than a blocking tight end and that is why he is often able to beat defenders and deliver big plays. In his best game of the year which came against the Houston Texans. He showed exactly what he could do playing at an optimal level. In that game Kelce recorded 2 touchdowns and 106 receiving yards. The Chiefs are hoping the frequency of those big games improves in the future, which it should. Players tend to get better with experience and he still is a young guy at only 26 years old. The Chiefs made the right move by re-signing this guy. If they want to compete in 2016 they need to retain and add weapons for Alex Smith. This was the first step.

Charity of the day: Troops Need You

Go donate! troopsneedyou.com

Aaron Donald is on the right path but not quite JJ Watt status yet:

Photo credit: Michael Thomas

Author: Jon Kuzma

Aaron Donald got it right when he said he isn’t on JJ Watt’s level yet. The second year player for the Los Angeles Rams has been getting compared to the Houston Texans defensive end but acknowledges himself that the comparisons aren’t fair yet. To be honest Aaron Donald is already one of the games best interior defensive lineman. Donald consistently draws double teams and can drive opposing offensive lineman deep into the backfield. That frees up Donald’s teammates to scrape and make plays from sideline to sideline. Don’t believe the hype surrounding Donald? The former Pittsburgh Panther has 11 sacks in just two years of NFL action. When you take into account that he is a defensive lineman and not a defensive end. You can begin to understand the pass rush that he is bringing as a player. To be fair Donald is extremely talented against the run as well. The guy can single handedly make an impact that very few players in the National Football League can. The Rams have a cornerstone on that defense in Donald and he makes everyone around him better as well. Defensive backs have better stats playing with a player like Donald because he can put pressure on the quarterback and cause them to make ill-advised throws. Jeff Fisher has to be ecstatic to have a guy like this on his defense. Now with the Rams moving to Los Angeles, a guy like Aaron Donald will be a great sell for the Los Angeles market. If Donald can block out the LA noise and keep doing what he has done up to this point of his career. Good things are coming for Aaron Donald in his 3rd season. Expect him to get better with time and continue to make a tremendous impact. If he keeps up at the pace he has been at. He will certainly be in the conversation with JJ Watt sooner or later.

Charity of the day: Troops Need You

Go donate! troopsneedyou.com

Ted Ginn Jr. had a break out year in his 9th season:

Photo credit: Ronald C. Modra / Sports Imagery

Author: Jon Kuzma

Ted Ginn Jr. the speedy kick returner and wide receiver out of Ohio State University has always been a dynamic special teams player. He has taken 4 punts and 3 kick returns to the house during his 9 year career. Yet at the receiver position Ginn struggled to make a true impact at the NFL level compiling only 11 touchdown receptions in his first 8 seasons. However in his 9th season which he decided to play in Carolina, Ginn had his best season ever as a receiver. Ginn managed to haul in 10 today passes during the 2015 season. He was clearly one of Cam Newton’s favorite weapons and he did a great job of providing a spark to the Panthers offense. It’s very rare that you seen player make such strides so late in their career. Yet if you’re Ginn you just have to be happy that the production came at all. Up until this year the most touchdowns Ted Ginn ever had in a season was 5 touchdowns. That was two years ago when he played with Cam Newton in Carolina. Last season he left the team and played with the Arizona Cardinals and didn’t record a single receiving touchdown. It was clear that in 2015 the Panthers needed Ginn’s production and Ted Ginn needed to play with Cam Newton. A guy that knew his capabilities and how to utilize his skills and talents. Could you imagine the Panthers having to make do without Ginn when Kelvin Benjamin went down? The team might not be in the Super Bowl right now if they didn’t get Tedd Ginn Jr. back plain and simple. You have to give credit to the guy for sticking around the game and always getting in where he fits in. He truly deserves all of the success that he has had over his 9 year career.

Charity of the day: Research to Prevent Blindness

Go donate! www.rpbusa.org

Bears could lose Forte and Jeffery after a poor 6-10 season:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Chicago Bears finished in 4th place in the NFC North division during the 2015 season. The Bears struggled at times offensively especially when Jay Cutler was out of the line up. When Cutler returned and was playing at a high level the Bears managed to have a little success. Still with the team lacking in talent it doesn’t matter what schemes head coach John Fox implements. Things just aren’t going to work out at the end of the day. Unfortunately for the Bears things might not be getting brighter anytime in the future either. That is unless some serious moves are made by the front office. The Bears are on the verge of losing Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery to free agency. Moves that would spell disaster for a team that struggled  offensively with those two unique talents in 2015. While Forte is getting old for NFL running backs, he still is the Bears best option. Forte has stated publicly that he would like to remain in Chicago. Yet in today’s era many times athletes just say the right things to the media and let their agents handle the business. Will Forte be playing for another team in 2015? It’s hard to say. Maybe the running back is telling the truth and will do whatever he can to stay in Chicago. Then again maybe he is ready for a change of scenery and would like to play for a team that is more of a competitor. At 30 years old the most a good general manager would offer him is a 2 year contract. It’s better to have a youthful running back on the come up rather than an old running back on the decline. Truthfully it’s easy to see Forte leaving for greener pastures. That is just the way the NFL works today. As for Jeffery, it’s likely he may leave as well. After the passing offense struggled in 2015 Jeffery’s talents could be better suited in a more explosive offense. You have to understand that players want to play for a true contender unless they are paid an absurd amount of money. The Bears have so many spots to fill to be successful that they might be better suited going for prospects rather than marquee players. The recipe for success in this league is landing good young talent and developing it. Trading Jeffery or Forte for draft picks last season could of helped lead towards that path but the Bears were reluctant to pull the trigger. Now both players may walk with nothing in return for the team. It will certainly take some magic to get this team back north of .500. It doesn’t look like that will happen in 2016 unless some trades and good acquisitions are made. Don’t count on it.

Charity of the day: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Go donate! ww5.komen.org

The Buffalo Bills have a winner in Tyrod Taylor:

Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley recently came out and stated that the Bills haven’t ruled out drafting a quarterback. While you have to respect Whaley’s effort to find a franchise quarterback. It still would be a mistake to draft a quarterback because the Bills have found a legitimate player in Tyrod Taylor. The former Virginia Tech quarterback was slow to develop with the Baltimore Ravens. However that all changed when he got to Buffalo. Taylor started to show glimpses of what he could be and the prospect was rather promising. Rex Ryan immediately realized that there was something there with Taylor and gave him the nod as the starting quarterback. While the Bills only finished the season with a 8-8 record. Taylor himself had a fantastic year earning himself a Pro Bowl bid. The achievement came after Taylor threw for 20 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. That careful precision and ability to limit turnovers showed Taylor can be more than an effective quarterback at the pro level. It showed he can be a dynamic player that can threaten opposing defenses in a number of different ways. Whether it be with his feet where he rushed for 568 yards and 4 touchdowns or with his arm throwing for 3,035 yards. It’s clear to see, Taylor is a highly effective dual threat quarterback who has seen a massive development over his 5 year career. While it’s easy for the Bills to discuss potentially drafting a quarterback. The team would be very foolish to do so and even talking about something like that could alienate Taylor. The Bills would be much better off adding talent around Taylor and giving Rex Ryan a more complete roster to compete with. Even though G.M Doug Whaley is saying “we might draft a qb” to the media, don’t buy it. There is a lot of gamesmanship that goes on with the draft. Sometimes teams will try to scare other teams away from the guy they really want to draft. So that less people want to take that particular player. At the end of the day don’t expect the Bills to draft a quarterback.

Charity of the day: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Go donate! ww5.komen.org

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