Deflategate, For Now, Has Been Resolved

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

Deflategate. The mere utter mention of this phrase causes NFL fans to shudder and moan about this ludicrous case. It has caused the NFL offseason to be a hindrance instead of a free agent signing paradise. It caused numerous awkward press conferences and interviews. But most of all it caused one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live to be questioned on his integrity. However, after 7 months, false reports, appeals, and hilarious courtroom sketches, Deflategate is finally over. Judge Richard Berman has ruled. Tom Brady has won. And the NFL and Roger Goodell have lost, again.

During the summer, it surely seemed like Tom Terrific was done for. It seemed like the NFL and Ted Wells had all the evidence they needed to put Number 12 in the Hall of Shame; then came the Wells Report. An outrageous 243-page document that seemed like it was saying the same thing over and over again. “More probable than not” Brady knew about the deflation of the footballs used in the AFC Championship game on January 18th is the most famous line from the report and for good reason. How does “general knowledge” with zero evidence get a player suspended for 4 games and get an organization fined 1 million dollars and lose them 2 draft picks? To be short, it shouldn’t do any of that. Judge Berman has sited that one of his major reasons for suspending Brady was that the league didn’t inform Brady that he could be suspended for equipment tampering and that applying the steroid policy to this case was in short not fair. It seemed like most of Berman’s reasoning for vacating the suspension was unfairness handed down by the league and the Commissioner, which is 100% valid. Throughout this whole process it seemed like Brady was being dealt an awful hand. With the investigation process, which he could have cooperated better in, the harsh suspension, Goodell picking himself to be the arbitrator in Brady’s first appeal, and finally the NFL not willing to budge on any settlement talks because they were too prideful to give an inch to the NFLPA were all examples of this unfairness. But now, the NFL has lost again. They will surely appeal Judge Berman’s decision but for now you can chalk this up to another failure in court for the league. Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and Bountygate are all examples of a court finding that the NFL was wrong. The biggest thing in this case however, is that the league handpicked the court that the appeal process would take place. And they were still defeated.

For now, TB12 will play week 1, a major win for the Patriots and Patriots Nation. “#FreeBrady, #ExonerateBrady, and #NoBradyNoBanner” can now be set to rest. And you can expect to definitely see a furious Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are already terrifying enough on the sidelines. Brady took on the league and won. His texts and emails were released. He was dragged through the mud. He felt like the league had it out for him and the organization. Get ready for a Brady like you’ve never seen before. However, the NFL and their fans now have a fresh start to the 2015 season. Of course the NFL will appeal but for now, justice has been served. And it has been served correctly. Happy 2015 Season Opener NFL fans, enjoy it.

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Have we already seen the best of Russell Wilson?

Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

There comes a point when a pro athlete becomes so high profile that sometimes they can’t deal with that amount of fame. How many times have we seen a pro athlete make it to the top and become complacent? A story all to familiar in pro sports, and Wilson is heading into that same uncharted territory. Just a year after making it to the Super Bowl and bringing a title back to Seattle. Wilson found himself on the goal line of the end zone ready to repeat as Super Bowl champion. If Wilson is as bright and calculated as he tries to appear how come he didn’t have the football I.Q to change that play at the line of scrimmage? Even if he didn’t tell anyone else on the offense what was happening, he could have took that snap and kept it himself on a run up the gut for the win. That lack of ability to understand the circumstances and have the moxie and guts to break the chain of command is what makes Super Bowl Winners. Notice how winners is plural. Do you honestly think Tom Brady or Eli Manning would of let that play happen? Not to mention Wilson has numerous distractions going on in his personal life. He is currently now dating singer Ciara, how many times have we seen a high profile athlete date a high profile celebrity and regress on the field? Justin Verlander was an outstanding pitcher for the Detroit Tigers until he reached the summit and landed Kate Upton. That same formula could end up hurting Wilson down the stretch. Finally, lately as he becomes more of a public figure you can tell Wilson is trying to unveil his true self. Which seems to be a religious freak. His attempt to say his “spirit water” helped him recover from a concussion in a playoff game is only a comment that a religious nut job would make. The guy seems like a great guy at first glance, but so do most politicians as well. Most at endzoneblog.com are not sold on Russell Wilson and it will be interesting to see if he falls short or exceeds expectations this upcoming season.

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After an AFC East shake-up, how will the Defending Champs fare in 2015?

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

For pretty much every year since the turn of the century the AFC East has been dominated by one team: the New England Patriots. With the exception of a couple of fluke years in the early 2000’s and the 2008 season that saw Matt Cassel take the helm, the Patriots have controlled the AFC East. This is no doubt due to the dynamic duo that is Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Possibly the greatest coach-quarterback combo the NFL has even seen, Belichick and Brady almost effortlessly have their way with their division year in and year out. However, with some significant departures in the offseason for New England and the Deflategate suspension looming, are the stars aligning for the rest of the AFC East? Some massive revamps and key additions have a lot of people thinking: yes.

For starters, each team signed or traded for players that are arguably the best at their respected position. The Buffalo Bills traded for Lesean McCoy, possibly the best running back in the league over the past three years. Last year, Shady was only second to Demarco Murray in touches with 312 carries and third in yards with 1,319. However, they gave up Kiko Alonso, by far their best linebacker and a leader on the Bills scary defense. They also gained a head coach that appears in headlines more than most celebrities, Rex Ryan. The former Jets coach promises to deliver an exciting and “Super Bowl bound” season for the Bills Mafia. The Miami Dolphins attracted Ndamukong Suh, a force to be reckoned with along the defensive front. Suh, one of the best interior defensive lineman and one of the dirtiest players in the league, figures to add to an already formidable front seven that boasts Cameron Wake on the outside. Although, a questionable secondary and linebacker corps could prove costly for the Fins when the season begins. While also signing quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a 4 year $96 million dollar contract extension, the Dolphins look to be a threat to the Patriots for years to come. However, another turnover at the wide receiver position that saw the departure of Charles Clay (replaced with Jordan Cameron), Mike Wallace (replaced with Kenny Stills), and Brian Hartline (replaced with Devante Parker) might be enough to see a slump from Tannehill at the start of the season that could jeopardize their chance at a playoff spot. The New York Jets saw an offseason that lost Rex Ryan but gained a defensive genius in Todd Bowles, the former Arizona defensive coordinator. They also landed a few toys for Bowles to play with in the secondary, namely Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine. Reuniting Cromartie and Revis is huge not only for the Jets, but the fans as well. The past couple of seasons have been tumultuous for the Jets faithful and a revamped secondary and intimidating front seven, even without Sheldon Richardson, promises an improved season. Of course, there are problems with the quarterbacks in the AFC East, specifically with the Bills, Jets, and surprisingly the Patriots. The Bills have named 5-year vet Tyrod Taylor their starter, but he has yet to prove himself as a solid player. The Jets seemingly always have a problem at quarterback and now with Geno Smith out for at least 6 weeks due to a fractured jaw courtesy of his own teammate, Ryan Fitzpatrick looks to lead the Jets but uncertainty surrounds him, along with the entire Jets offense. And now, the Patriots; Tom Brady will eventually lead the defending champs but time will tell

when he will. Until then, Jimmy Garropolo gets thrust into the spotlight. After a decent 2014 season where he showed glimpses of talent, Patriots personnel feel like he will be the guy to eventually replace Tom Terrific. He has shown promise throughout this preseason but has also shown weaknesses. Depending on the Deflategate decision, the Patriots could start the season with a question mark at the quarterback position for the first time since the Belichick era began.

Time seems to be the tell all with the Patriots and the AFC East. When will Brady start for the Pats? Will the acquisitions made be enough to impact the Pats run at another title? Is this the year another AFC East team knocks off the champs? Only time will tell and answer these questions. However, one thing is certain: Buffalo, Miami, and New York are all gaining ground in the hunt to take down the winners of Super Bowl 49.

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Colin Kaepernick’s time might be wearing thin:

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Photo credit: Instagram @Kaepernick7

When Colin Kaepernick supplanted Alex Smith for the starting quarterback job it was in a similar fashion as the way Tom Brady took Drew Bledsoe’s spot. Kaepernick was a back up only starting because starter Alex Smith was hurt and the Niners needed someone to fill the void. The thing is Kaepernick was starting to gain some momentum as a player in practice and was also gaining respect internally from teammates. He eventually would lead the team to Super Bowl XLVII where the Niners would fall just short to the Ravens on the big stage. Since that moment the guy who had hand picked Kaepernick head coach Jim Harbaugh has left town. Several guys from last years team have retired or left the team via free agency leaving Kaepernick behind to clean up the mess that is going on in San Francisco. Kaepernick struggled all last year with his supporting cast in town, how do you think he is going to fare this time around without them? The fifth year player has really struggled trying to fit into the mold of a traditional pocket passer. Yea we all know Kaepernick can beat you with his legs, but defenses are getting smarter and making him stay in the pocket and make all the throws. That formula has been disastrous for Colin Kapernick due to the fact that he tends to look uncomfortable dropping back and passing every play. In a traditional offense you want to take advantage of Kaepernick’s athleticism by calling bootleg passes out of i-formation, and sprint out passes out of your 4 wide receiver sets. This would allow Kap the ability to throw on the run or have the choice to keep the ball on a quarterback keeper. One thing is for certain the Greg Roman zone read offense will not be be there. Yea the Niners still occasionally run zone read, but it isn’t as effective as Roman’s system. Kaepernick will miss that down the stretch. Most of the Niners play calls in the preseason have been straight drop back passes out of shotgun and that doesn’t suit Kaepernick’s skill set  well. Look for him to stumble during the season passing wise. If it gets bad enough he could find himself in an RG3 type situation.

Note- In Kap’s defense he has never thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns. Still he has yet to pass for 25 TD’s in a season yet.

 

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Comparing the two best tight ends in pro football: Gronkowski vs Graham

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Photo credit: Angie Six

The two best tight ends in the National Football League are hands down Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. Both players coincidently entered the league in 2010 with Gronkowski being drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots. While Jimmy Graham was drafted in the third round by the New Orleans Saints. There are many similarities in both player’s games and even in their size and stature. Both Graham and Gronkowki stand around 6 feet 6 inches tall. Also both players are listed at 265 pounds which might be why when watching them play it’s like a mirror image. Statistically Gronkowski has been slightly better at finding the end zone amassing 54 touchdowns to Grahams 51. Yet Graham out produced Gronkowski in yards receiving 4,752 to Gronk’s 4,379. On any given year each one of these players could out produce the other one. You would have to think Gronk has the slight edge due to the fact he is catching passes from the great one in Tom Brady. That is mainly why Gronkowski edged out Graham last year in touchdown receptions 12 to 10. Those numbers might be shaken up due to the fact that Graham is now on the Seahawks. We still don’t know how Jimmy Graham is going to blend into that situation in Seattle. Expect him to be a much easier throw for Russell Wilson when things break down on a play though. That alone should pay dividends in Graham’s future. Both players are poised for a big season, now we get to see who wins the personal battle. While the players most likely don’t see it as competition. It is always fun from a fans stand point to compare and really analyze who is playing at the highest level. Regardless both these guys have been exceptional and are two of the best doing it.

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