Patrick Mahomes has some big shoes to fill after Alex Smith led the entire NFL with a 104.7 passer rating:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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No full time starting quarterback had a better quarterback rating than Alex Smith did last season and that makes things complicated for Patrick Mahomes. Even though Smith was traded this off-season and Mahomes will assume the lead quarterback role that just means the second year gunslinger out of Texas Tech will have big shoes to fill. We all know Patrick Mahomes has a huge arm but he will have to be savvy in the technical side of things too if he wants to be able to sustain the type of success Smith had. That means the 22 year old will have to prepare like a veteran, understand what opposing defenses are trying to do to him, and lead like a much more experienced player. If Mahomes can excel in the intangibles that made Smith such a star this past year in Kansas City it will be a huge step in the right direction. Especially since we know that Mahomes does have a physical skill set that puts him at a notch above most young players entering the NFL. With most defenses around the league becoming tougher and better every passing year that causes a need for strong armed pocket passers. Mahomes fits that mold perfectly and this guy can flat out let it fly. Andy Reid wouldn’t have felt so secure letting Smith leave had he not had a bright up and coming talent to replace him. The idea is Mahomes can come in and help this team get over their playoff hump. All the Tyler Texas native (Mahomes) has to do is put points on the board. Alex Smith had a great regular season but he only put up 21 points in a loss to the Titans. The idea is Mahomes can take this scoring offense to a 30 or 40 points ball club when next season rolls around. One thing is for certain it will be a lot of fun to watch the new look Chiefs operate.

Charity of the day: Center for Biological Diversity

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The Indianapolis Colts hire Frank Reich to be their next head coach. Reich has over two decades of NFL experience as a player and coach:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Indianapolis Colts didn’t want to wait too long after Josh McDaniels decided to back out from taking their head coaching position. Jim Irsay knew his franchise has a lot of work to get done and that’s why the Colts immediately hired Eagles Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich to take what was supposed to be McDaniels’ job. Indy was already familiar with Reich since he worked on their staff from 2008 to 2011. Clearly that past rapport played a role in the Colts decision and this is a great move because they needed new leadership. There was a lot of toxicity swirling around this organization when it came to the Chuck Pagano situation. The last two years have been a struggle for the fans in Indiana which ultimately opened the door for Frank Reich to enter the picture. From an offensive perspective Indianapolis should be better with a former NFL QB conducting their practices. Reich spent time with the Panthers, Jets, and Lions but he is most known for being Jim Kelly’s back up during the Buffalo Bills four straight Super Bowl appearances in the early 90s. Reich actually put together one of college football’s greatest comebacks in the Maryland Terrapins miracle win over the Miami Hurricanes in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Irsay is hoping all of those past experiences have polished Frank Reich into a competent manager and so much of the rookie head coach’s success will be tied to Andrew Luck’s recovery. If Luck can bounce back from his disastrous 2017 season that will be the first step for the Colts when it comes to getting back to winning football. Hopefully Reich can help with the offensive execution and make that recovery much smoother. From there it will be all about getting as much talent on the roster as possible. Coaches put together the game plan but it’s up to players to make it all happen on game day.

Charity of the day: Center for Biological Diversity

Go donate! www.biologicaldiversity.org

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Jon Gruden has the ability to turn Derek Carr into a bona fide superstar. Oakland’s offense should greatly improve next fall:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Jon Gruden was recently hired by the Oakland Raiders and this is going to be great for Derek Carr. If you don’t remember Gruden did a great job of coaching up Brad Johnson and Rich Gannon during his last two head coaching stints. Each of those players recorded notable numbers in a time when the passing game was a little bit more archaic. Now with the advancement of the game it will be interesting to see how Gruden adjusts to being away from the sidelines for a decade? The good news is the former ESPN analyst (Gruden) has over 20 years of coaching experience and a lot of those philosophies will be blended with some of the new school approaches they use today. You have to believe Carr will benefit greatly from having a true offensive mentor because there’s not many people with the football IQ Jon Gruden brings to the table. By understanding all eleven player’s responsibilities and putting those pieces in favorable positions to succeed. The Raiders can essentially optimize the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball and they should be fundamentally better than they were under Jack Del Rio. Del Rio was a linebacker as a player and specialized in the defensive side of things. By getting an offensive guru to lead the team instead that should help utilize all the talented skill players on this roster. That includes Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Marshawn Lynch, Derek Carr, and the rest of the cast. Collectively there was too many playmakers to pass up on and that’s why Gruden chose to return to the Raiders over the Buccaneers. Coaches improve with repetition just like everyone else does and this is the 54 year old’s 10th different job. Those stepping stones along the way have really tuned up Gruden’s abilities and expect his excellence to rub off on Carr in 2018.

Charity of the day: Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

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Who will be the Jets starting quarterback in 2018? There seems to be a handful of different options possible:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New York Jets rolled with Josh McCown as their starting quarterback this past year but now with McCown set to be a free agent there’s no telling who will be under center for the Jets next season? It’s possible Mike Maccagnan could bring back McCown but it feels like the front office is ready to turn the page on that era. Really if that’s the case the Jets could consider pursuing Nick Foles or Tyrod Taylor just to get someone in there who can sure up the position a little bit. While New York would like to sign Kirk Cousins it just doesn’t feel like that deal is going to end up panning out. Which could lead Maccagnan to believe his best option is selecting someone in the NFL Draft in a couple of months. Since this franchise will be in the 6th draft spot it’s very possible Josh Allen or Sam Darnold might be that choice. Out of those two players it feels like Josh Allen is much better suited for NFL success. Allen has a 6’5 233 pound frame so from a physical stand point he is a rare specimen. If the Jets do go with the former Wyoming signal caller in the first round they’ll have to do their best to refine his skill set. There were some concerns with Josh Allen’s accuracy at the Senior Bowl but his throw power is undeniable. With the windows in NFL defenses getting smaller and smaller having a strong armed QB can be the difference between mediocrity and success. New York needs to find someone who can be the long term solution quarterback wise and Josh Allen feels like a realistic option. Maccagnan could get cold feet and actually re-sign Josh McCown. Especially since a rookie might take a few years to really get up to speed with the pro game. Still though the Jets have about five different choices they can choose from and they have to get that decision right for a chance to be competitive in 2018.

Charity of the day: Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

Go donate! www.themmrf.org

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The Dallas Cowboys have to add a wide receiver if they hope to make more plays through the air:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Cowboys nation has to feel good knowing Ezekiel Elliott will be on the field full time next season. That will really help this franchise get back on track but there are also some concerns with the lack of receiver production in Dallas. Dez Brant led the Cowboys in receptions (69), receiving yards (838), and touchdowns (6) but the truth is those aren’t good enough numbers to be a number 1 receiver. Bryant can still make a notable impact however the Cowboys would benefit greatly from adding another playmaker out wide. Jerry Jones could decide to take a risk on a lower priced player with a lot of upside like Josh Gordon. If Gordon can avoid any off the field setbacks he would end up being a steal for Dallas. This organization also could go in the complete opposite direction and try to acquire a high end free agent like Sammy Watkins. The other possibility is the Cowboys try to draft their next great pass catcher. America’s team is drafting in the 19th spot so selecting Calvin Ridley is an option that’s definitely on the table. Another scenario might be addressing some other position in the first round and then going after Antonio Callaway with the number 50 pick. It feels like that is less likely to happen and if Ridley is there when the Cowboys are on the clock it’s easy to believe that’s the choice they’ll end up going with. Nobody coming out of college has more star power at the wide receiver position than the former Alabama alum. Jason Garrett has to find a way to improve his defense through free agency which opens up the draft to handle the offense early on. Ridley and then Maurice Hurst as their next draft choice would really set the tone for the Big D especially if Demarcus Lawrence is leaving town.

Charity of the day: Prostate Cancer Foundation

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Loading up on defense will be key for the Green Bay Packers moving forward:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Green Bay Packers will get a huge boost from getting Aaron Rodgers back in 2018. One way this team can give Rodgers a chance to compete next season would be by improving the defense overall. The Pack were ranked 17th against the run and 23rd against the pass. One way to improve both those categories is by getting a defensive line who can be disruptive in both phases of the game. If Da’Ron Payne or Vita Vea is available in the draft you have to go with one of those guys and try to dominate the line of scrimmage defensively. With Kenny Clark starting to emerge as a strong nose tackle Payne or Vea could slide to one of the defensive end spots and really give this team a chance to overwhelm offensive lines. This selection would also help prevent opposing blockers from getting to the second level and attacking the Packers’ linebackers. Then the cheesehead’s second draft selection should be used to revamp the secondary. The options out there will likely be Nick Nelson or Anthony Averett. Either option should give Green Bay a boost from a coverage stand point which is exactly what this franchise needs to stop the regression that happened under Mike McCarthy’s watch this past season. By getting back to the fundamentals and making sure they can keep points off the board the Packers should be able to increase their chances of winning games late in the fourth quarter. We all know Rodgers is going to be sensational in those clutch moments therefore it’s best to put some tough defenders out there who can keep games close. The rest of the adjustments will have to be done through free agency and it might not be a bad idea to sign a couple of defenders too. You can already trust the offense to get it done without any major upgrades. Why not go all in on the side of the ball that wins championships?

Charity of the day: Prostate Cancer Foundation

Go donate! www.pcf.org

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The Washington Redskins need to find a way to stop the run and establish the run if they want to have success in 2018:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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It was rough year for the Washington Redskins this past season and the running game was a problem on both sides of the ball for this team. The running backs couldn’t get anything going only averaging 90 yards per game which was ranked 28th in the league. Then the defense was even worse surrendering 134 yards per game which ended up being the 32nd ranked defensive unit or in other words dead last in the league. Getting Jonathan Allen back from the lisfranc injury that sidelined him for most of his rookie season will be huge for the Redskins’ front seven. Allen is a disruptive force when healthy but so far that’s been his achilles heel. Washington also has to do everything they can to put together a package of free agents so they can simply put more talented defenders on the field. In order to completely revamp things on that side of the ball this franchise will have to sign three key players on defense to be competitive. If the Redskins signed Dontari Poe, Adrian Clayborn, and Demario Davis then yea they could be back in the hunt again. On offense Washington really needs to improve their running back situation and get a few guys that can block upfront considering their offensive line gave up 41 sacks for the whole season. That’s too high so now they have to look at the draft as another means to upgrade their roster. If Orlando Brown is there that could be a great addition for the hogs upfront and then they have to do everything they can to land Nick Chubb in the second round. That means the Redskins will likely have to forfeit one of their later picks so they can trade up in the draft. It will all be worth it though if they can walk away with Brown and Chubb. By taking this course of action in both free agency and the draft the Washington Redskins can take a step closer towards success. They also have to find a way to add another wide receiver along the way so they have a lot to accomplish before they can be a true contender in the NFC.

Charity of the day: Prostate Cancer Foundation

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Jimmy Garoppolo signs a five year $137.5 million dollar contract which will make the 49ers QB the highest paid player in the league:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The 49ers struck gold when they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo in October and now the team is making sure Garoppolo is their quarterback for the long term future. Jed York and John Lynch went to the negotiation table and hashed out a mega-deal which will make Garoppolo the highest paid player in the National Football League. Jimmy G ($27.5M) will make a half million dollars per year more than Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford ($27M). The most surprising thing about the Garroppolo situation is the fact that the 49ers only had to give up a 2nd round pick to land him. That’s a very low price for a player who is valued more than anyone in the entire league now. By landing a multiyear contract San Francisco also avoids having to franchise tag their starting QB. The rest of the team’s cap space can now be used on bringing in other assets that can help elevate the talent level on this roster. When you weigh all of these factors it becomes overwhelmingly evident that the scarlet and gold are a organization on the rise. You just can’t say enough good things about the impact Jimmy Garoppolo has had on the rest of the other players in that locker room. We’re talking about team that had one win before they made the trade with New England. After Garoppolo went to California this team rattled off five straight wins. The difference in morale was night and day which is exactly why the 49ers made sure their guy didn’t hit the open market (free agency). The future is certainly bright for this franchise and it will very exciting to see who else they sign once March rolls around? Imagine if San Francisco signed Sammy Watkins and Jimmy Graham for their passing game. Then use the rest of their cap space to load up on defense (Julius Peppers and Zach Brown?). You can already see that his team has plenty of options and John Lynch has to be feeling good about the position he is in.

Charity of the day: National Audubon Society

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The Miami Dolphins should trade down in the draft acquire an extra pick and then select Sony Michel to bolster their ability to run the football:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Miami Dolphins Head Coach Coach Adam Gase will have his hands full if he wants to turn things around in South Florida. One of the main problems with Gase’s team is the fact that his roster is running low on talent. Miami was 29th in the league when it came to running the football so clearly running back is one spot that needs an upgrade. With the Dolphins sitting in the 11th draft position this Spring they’ll have to consider moving back 6 or 7 spots and drafting Sony Michel out of the University of Georgia. The good news is if Miami does pull a move like that they should be able to at least get an extra draft pick (say a 3rd or 4th rounder). Ultimately that has to be the best course of action for this franchise because the Dolphins only rushed for 4 touchdowns in 2017. The leading rusher for Gase’s squad was Kenyan Drake who put up 644 yards for the year. Sony Michel will be an upgrade over that and keep in mind the former Georgia stand out rushed for 1,227 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior year of action. That was despite the fact that Michel shared time with Nick Chubb in the Bulldogs backfield, who is also a phenomenal player. Gase might be great at putting together the xs and os but until he gets some marquee players to execute his vision it’s going to be a rough time for him. Michel can have enough impact where he can potentially get things back on track in South Beach. We’re talking about a player with a complete skill set. Michel can run in-between the tackles or take it around the end on sweeps or power plays. With a unique combination of speed and agility Sony Michel can be very similar to Todd Gurley who also came out of Georgia. When you have a player with that kind of upside it’s best to push all your chips into the middle of the table and take a risk. The Dolphins shouldn’t be too scared about rolling the dice on Sony Michel he’ll be a heck of a player in the National Football League someday.

Charity of the day: Partnership for a Healthier America

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It sounds like Russell Wilson has a plan B if football doesn’t work out for him. The New York Yankees just traded for his baseball rights:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Just a year ago the Seattle Seahawks considered drafting Patrick Mahomes which raised some questions about Russell Wilson’s long term status with the team. We know now that if football doesn’t work out for Wilson he has a pretty legitimate back up plan. The New York Yankees just traded for Wilson’s rights should he ever consider playing baseball again. It seems like that’s a reach but maybe the physicality of pro football is making Wilson reconsider his options? Even though the Seahawks signal caller led the NFL with 34 passing touchdowns, there will be less wear and tear on his body should he pursue the baseball route. It’s very possible that if things started to go south on the football field Wilson might put on the pinstripes and get back out on the baseball diamond. Russell Wilson was on the Texas Rangers roster and actually spent a little bit of spring training with the team to help the Rangers with public relations. Why the Yankees would acquire Wilson when he isn’t even committed to the sport is the true mystery though? Maybe the Bronx Bombers have been hashing out the details with Wilson behind the scenes? One thing is for certain and that’s Wilson had to get back to winning games in order to ensure his status as the Seahawks starting quarterback. 34 touchdowns doesn’t mean a thing if your franchise doesn’t go to the playoffs. Seattle has already considered bringing in other QBs so that should tell you the front office isn’t exactly sold on Wilson. One of the knocks against this guy is the fact that he is a little bit superficial. A great example of this is the quote below. Even though Russell Wilson was technically on the Rangers roster, he wasn’t really a member of the team because he was playing pro football with the Seahawks. It’s all about popularity with Wilson and you have to wonder who he is and what he stands for behind the mask?

Wilson’s statement about being traded

“While football is my passion and my livelihood, baseball remains a huge part of where I came from and who I am today,” Wilson said in a statement. “I’ve learned so much on the baseball field that translates to my game physically and mentally playing quarterback in the NFL. I thank the Rangers and their great fans for making me feel at home and a part of the family! While I embrace the chance to be a New York Yankee, I will forever be grateful to have been a part of a world class organization like the Texas Rangers.”

Charity of the day: Partnership for a Healthier America

Go donate! www.ahealthieramerica.org

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