Photo credit: Brian Bahr / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
Derek Carr had a tremendous rookie season for the silver and black and fans around The Bay area are very excited about the future. It’s been a long time since the team that Al Davis built has seen success and with a 21 touchdown and 12 interception rookie season performance, it’s very likely Carr will continue that success in 2015. The Raiders clearly understood the magnitude of the situation and doubled down on the young passer by bringing in the top wide receiver in college football last year Amari Cooper out of Alabama. They also added Michael Crabtree a player when healthy we all know can play. Crabtree has accumulated 26 touchdowns and 4,327 yards in his career and is another big outside target for the young and promising Carr. With the addition of the two playmakers at the wide receiver position it really will open up the offense for the Raiders in many ways. These are hands down the best players Derek Carr has ever thrown to in a live game. The results should be big for the Raiders, and all three players should see a spike in fantasy football value. Cooper is one player that deserves to be discussed in greater depth. He amassed 3463 yards and 31 touchdowns during his three years at the University of Alabama, looking nearly untouchable at times for opposing defenses. At 6’1 210 pounds Carr has really praised Cooper not only for his body control, and physical abilities. Also for his mental toughness stating that “Cooper is second to none in work ethic”. High praise from a player who is the cornerstone of the Raiders franchise. The chemistry between the two will have a drastic effect on the outcome of the Raiders upcoming season. If all three players can stay healthy and play at an optimal level, the Raiders should have their best season they’ve had in years. Will it be enough to get them to the post season? Who knows the AFC west division is still tough with the Broncos and the Chargers. The gap has certainly closed though and it’s only a matter of time before Derek Carr elevates this franchise to the next level.
Football predictions: Raiders
Charity of the day: Mental Health America
Article on the additions of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper and how it effects the Raiders offense.
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
Go donate! www.salvationarmy.org
Photo credit: Rich Schultz / Getty Images Sport
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.
Charity of the day: Make a Wish Foundation
Go donate! www.wish.org
Photo Credit: Peter G. Aiken / Getty Images Sport
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
Go donate! www.awf.org
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images Sport
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.
Charity of the day: National Urban League
Go donate! www.nul.org