Have we seen the last of Andre Johnson?

Photo credit: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The rumors swirling around the National Football League are that the Indianapolis Colts and Andre Johnson will be going their separate ways. After leaving the Houston Texans and signing with the Colts for a 3 year 21 million contract. Johnson struggled to find his groove in Indy. The once most feared receiver in pro football clearly lost a step in the twilight of his career. That caused him to be smothered by younger and more athletic players. With no spacing to operate Johnson would only haul in 503 yards receiving yards for 4 touchdown receptions in 2015. Even though those numbers are no where near the numbers he put up with the Texans. You have to keep in mind Andrew Luck was banged up most of 2015. Having a fresh and healthy Luck might have put a significant boost on those numbers for Johnson. Still the Colts and Johnson experiment seems to be coming to a screeching halt after just one season together. The Colts will have to take on a 7.5 million dollar cap hit if they do decide to cut the 7 time Pro Bowler. It’s not certain whether or not Johnson will retire or choose to continue his career for another team. At 34 years old you have to think the teams willing to sign Johnson are limited. Still the Natural has an impressive resume which includes 14,100 career receiving yards and 68 career receiving touchdowns. If he can somehow get back into top form by specifically training for speed by doing plyometric workouts, agility training, and foot work drills. Then it’s quite possible that Johnson can regain that burst that he was lacking in Indianapolis. We all know from a receiver stand point the guy can catch the football. Really for Johnson it’s about building up his athletic ability and getting back to the dominant physical prowess that he once had in Houston. If he chooses to retire then he will be remember as one of the best to ever do it. He will also have a legitimate shot of making it to the Hall of Fame.

Charity of the day: World Food Program USA

Go donate! wfpusa.org

Why the Texans are the best landing spot for RG3:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen confirmed that Robert Griffin the 3rd won’t be returning to the D.C area. Allen was on record today stating that he sees “Robert getting an opportunity with another team.” Many executives and people affiliated with the league have been debating the most ideal situation for Griffin, but very few have thrown out the possibility of Griffin signing with the Texans. If you don’t remember Griffin grew up in Texas before eventually attending college at Baylor University. In fact Baylor is only a 3 hour drive from Houston so it’s possible Griffin would be back in his comfort zone going back to Texas. A state that he is very familiar with and very highly respected in. On top of that the move makes sense from a football stand point because the Texans have serious problems at quarterback and the team might serve as a great opportunity for Griffin to get his career back on track. Brian Hoyer was the Texans starting quarterback but he lost his job at one point in the season and also laid an egg in the Texans blowout loss to the Chiefs. Griffin is a much more talented athlete than Brian Hoyer is and could be a great addition to the Texans offense. The team was talented enough to go to the postseason and having DeAndre Hopkins would give Griffin the best option at receiver that he has ever had. Still in order for Griffin to have that success with the Texans, he must first immerse himself in the process of being a professional quarterback. When you plug in the film and watch him play, he clearly has trouble sticking to his footwork when the pass rush is in his face. Griffin has to learn to step up in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield. In order to do that more effectively he has learn how to transfer his kinetic energy and weight through his throws better. It’s very possible that in the Texans offense Griffin could recapture that confidence that helped him become a Heisman winner at Baylor. That is why Houston is hands down the best destination for RG3.

Charity of the day: Fresh Air Fund

Go donate! www.freshair.org

Youth movement: Saints are moving on from Marques Colston in hopes to get younger

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New Orleans Saints have decided to go in another direction. That is what they told their former number 1 wide receiver Marques Colston. A player who finishes as the franchise’s leader in receiving yards (9,759), and touchdown receptions (72). Brees and Colston were once the status quo of receiver quarterback connections. A big part in why Brees was able to throw for 5,000 yards 4 different times in his career. Colston was was a former 7th round draft pick who overcame the odds to become the Saints greatest receiver of all time. His 6’4 225 pound frame made him a natural match up problem to much smaller defensive backs. Colston also had no fear when it came to going across the middle of the field. Which is something most receivers are reluctant to do in today’s NFL. It’s not sure whether or not Marques Colston will look to continue his professional career with another team or if he will retire? At 32 years old it might be a good move for other teams to look at Colston on a one year deal to bolster their receiving corps. Yet you have to think that Colston only has a few good years in him tops. It might be better for other teams to develop a young player for the future instead of signing an aging vet. Still we’ve seen crazier things happen in the past and maybe adding Colston’s production might put a team over the edge. As for the Saints they will look to Brandin Cooks and Brandon Coleman to be their future at the receiver position. Coleman almost fits the same mold body frame wise as Colston and they are hoping he can do great things for the franchise moving forward. Brandin Cooks is the team’s clear number 1 receiver these days. Cooks finished the 2015 season with 1,138 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. Showing he can carry the load that Colston once did. We will see how this move pans out for the Saints in 2016. Brees is getting up there in age and they need to get back to the postseason to take advantage of his unique playmaking abilities. This move was done in hopes of freeing up cap space and creating a brighter future in New Orleans. Only 2016 will tell if it was the right move for the black, white and gold.

Charity of the day: Fresh Air Fund

Go donate! www.freshair.org

Alex Mack will opt out of his current contract:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Alex Mack has decided that his existing contract will not meet his expectations. Mack has decided to opt out of his contract in hopes of landing his next big pay day. Mack is expected to be the highest paid center in the league during the 2016 season and that desire to be compensated for his efforts is the main factor in his decision to opt out of his current contract. Mack will be recruited by a number of teams this offseason with lucrative contracts. Mack has stated that he would like to play for a contender and winning is important. That could be another huge motivator for him wanting to leave Cleveland. While the 7th year player feels like Cleveland is heading in the right direction with the hire of Hue Jackson. It almost feels like he is one foot out of the door if he has it his way. Cleveland has struggled while Mack has been a part of the team and sometimes a player just wants to move on after experiencing something like that. One thing is for certain though the Browns will be hurting without Mack leading their offensive line. He has been outstanding over his career and also was a great leader for this football team. This is a player Hue Jackson would love to have while building his team moving forward. It seems like if Mack has his way though he we wont be returning to the team. In 2014 Mack signed an offer sheet from the Jacksonville Jaguars only to have the Browns match that offer shortly after. The 3 time Pro Bowler is clearly pushing his way out of the city that drafted him back in 2009. He is a marquee player and that should serve him well should he hit the open market.

Charity of the day: Save the Children

Go donate! www.savethechildren.org

Ezekiel Ansah has emerged into one of the top pass rushers in the league:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

When the Detroit Lions drafted Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah in the 2013 draft they were getting a raw football player. Ansah who played college football at Brigham Young University was a physical specimen at 6’5 270 pounds. However the defensive end had only played football for 3 seasons. All 3 seasons were at B.Y.U from 2010-2012, which is very little football participation when you consider most players have been playing since the pee wee level. Instead Ansah played soccer and basketball growing up. Then at B.Y.U he was persuaded to try out for the football team and everything kind of fell in place from there. The Lions were blown away with Ansash’s physical skill set. He was bigger, faster, and stronger than most of the other players coming out of the draft in 2013. The thought of pairing Ansah next to Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley was enough to cause the Lions to select Ansash with the 5th overall pick in the first round during the draft. From that moment on Ansah impressed in Detroit. In his rookie season he was able to record 32 tackles, 8 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. In his second year he improved tackle wise but slipped to only 7.5 sacks. It wasn’t until Ziggy’s third pro season that he emerged as one of the top pass rushers in the league. Ansah recorded 14.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries in his 3rd season. His 14.5 sacks were good enough to finish 3rd in the league in total sacks. Only finishing behind J.J Watt and Khalil Mack. The Lions gamble on a player with limited football experience paid off and that assessment of his physical prowess ending up returning significant reward. Now Ansah enters his fourth season as one of the top defensive ends in the league. It will be up to him to help the Lions elevate their waning defense. Regardless of how that defense finishes, you have to expect that Ansah individually will excel at the end of the day. His physical gifts just make him superior than the competition.

Charity of the day: American Brain Tumor Association

Go donate! www.abta.org

Is it time to give Ray Rice a second chance?

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been out of football since 2014. For those of you who don’t remember Rice was released by the Ravens for a domestic violence dispute that he had with his girlfriend. What made Rice’s case so popular in the public’s eye is the fact that Rice’s incident was filmed on camera. That footage was eventually sold for $100,000 dollars to TMZ, who then released it to the public. What ensued next would be something that completely destroyed Rice’s career. That film footage created a backlash that caused the public to call for Rice’s head. While at the time people’s frustrations with Rice were justified because nobody should  hit their loved one (or anyone for that matter). Now two years later you have to start to ask yourself? Has Rice paid his debt to society for the heinous actions that he committed? We’ve seen athletes comeback from much worse than physically striking their significant other. Mike Tyson was charged for rape and sent to prison before eventually coming back and re-entering the ring. Ray Rice never went to jail and before this mishap was a staple of positivity and well being in the Baltimore community. With a clean slate before this very public domestic violence case does that mean we should give Rice a second chance? Truthfully I believe it does. We’ve all said and done things that we aren’t proud of. It’s unfair to continue to punish Rice and take away the twilight portion on his career. Which ultimately will take away from him providing for his family. Michael Vick was in a similar situation when he was out of the league and in prison for dog fighting. Vick made it back to the field for his NFL comeback. So why can’t Rice when he never served any prison time for his actions? On top of that Rice has spent his time away from football speaking at rookie symposiums helping to guide future NFL players in the right direction. So they don’t follow in his foot steps and make the same mistakes that he did. It’s clear Rice is doing everything that he can to move on from the past. It’s about time the NFL does the same and reinstates him. A lot of people will be against the decision but it’s the right move. No one deserves to be punished forever, especially when others were allowed to comeback after their punishments!

Charity of the day: Prostate Cancer Foundation

Go donate! www.pcf.org

Lions need to address several positions in the offseason:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Detroit Lions are looking to transition into a new era with first year General Manager Bob Quinn. In order to properly execute Quinn’s vision the team released Stephen Tulloch and James Ihedigbo. Both moves were made to clear up cap space and give the Lions a little more room to operate in free agency. They will have several voids they have to fill before they are a competitive football team. So making these cuts makes sense because they will need all the cap space they can get to make their team relevant again. There are issues with the offensive line, the defensive line, the secondary and now Calvin Johnson just retired leaving another hole at wide receiver. When you are that thin at that many positions you really have to shake things up. It’s better to try to land a whole bunch of new players and try to build a new core rather than stick it out and try to resurrect a team of the past. Clearly Martha Firestone-Ford understood this and that is why she has been making changes throughout the organization in hopes to better this team. Quinn will be up against some serious odds if he plans on making Detroit a Super Bowl contender. The Lions have never once been to the Super Bowl, however they did win four NFL Championships the latest being back in 1957. That was before the Super Bowl was originated and in order to have success in the modern era. The team will have to first and foremost dominate in the trenches. Which means win the battle at the line of scrimmage with the offensive line on offensive. Then win the line of scrimmage with their defensive line on defense. You most likely have to go defensive line first because defense wins championships. Plus the team has to fill the holes left by Suh, Fairley, and Mosley when they all left last offseason. At some point through free agency and the draft they also have to add a playmaker on the outside to replace Calvin Johnson. Maybe a free agent like Alshon Jeffrey or Travis Benjamin could be a guy that could come in and pair well with Golden Tate in this Lions offense. The Lions also have to find a solution to protect Matthew Stafford in 2016 as well. Stafford is a talented passer but was constantly overwhelmed by the defensive pass rush. Protecting Stafford would go a long way in propelling the Lions offensive efforts. Unfortunately The team has bottomed out again after making it to the playoffs in 2014. Lions fans believe there is only one way and that’s up. However they’ve been waiting for a long time to see a quality product put on the field. The fans were leaving in masses when the team struggled early on last season. The team can’t afford to get it wrong again.

Charity of the day: Wishing Well Foundation USA

Go donate! www.wishingwellusa.org

Cut from the team: The Rams cleaned house today

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Los Angeles Rams are in a transition phase as they relocate to the LA area and the team decided today that parting ways with Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, and Jared cook were the best moves for this team moving forward. The Rams are expected to save roughly 24 million dollars in cap space by cutting those 3 players. Which leaves the team in a position to make a splash this offseason. You have to keep in mind the Rams will be recruiting players in free agency to Los Angeles this offseason rather than St. Louis. The Los Angeles area is much easier to sell as a destination to players than St. Louis due to the emergence of the SoCal area in culture and entertainment. Having that 24 million dollars to spend in free agency outweighed having those 3 players on their roster to the Rams front office. Keep in mind these players were all core players of this team at one point in the past. Moving on from them couldn’t have been easy but it was ultimately the right move. The NFL is a young man’s league meaning teams are at their best typically with a younger average age for their team. That is why you see so many team opt for a youth movement and then part ways with veteran players. They are hoping to develop a new young nucleus for their team when they do that. That is exactly what the Rams had in mind when they made this decision. They have some good young players like Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin. Now they are hoping to bring in some other young players in to mesh with them, that way they can start off on the right foot in Los Angeles. You have to applaud Jeff Fisher for having the backbone to pull the trigger on this deal. He clearly wants to make a bang in California and we should all keep an eye on the moves they make this offseason.

Charity of the day: Reading Is Fundamental

Go donate! www.rif.org

The Colts need to get back to dominating the AFC South in 2016:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Colts used to be the standard of the AFC South but in 2015 they took a huge step back. Losing Andrew Luck certainly was a big factor in that regression however the team still had a chance to win some games near the end and make it to the playoffs. While ultimately the team didn’t get in, owner Jim Irsay stated that he liked the way the team fought despite battling serious injuries. That effort was enough to help head coach Chuck Pagano keep his job. A good sign moving forward because the continuity the team will develop from keeping the coaching staff together should pay some good returns in 2016. The teams next goal will be to sign starting quarterback Andrew Luck to a massive extension according to Irsay. It’s no secret that the Colts success all starts with Luck’s ability to lead this football team. If he can return to top form the Colts will surely be in the conversation to win the division title again. They have to make the right moves this offseason to keep up with the emergence of the Texans and Jaguars. Not an easy task when you consider the Texans could be a whole lot better if they land a quarterback. Still expect the Colts to continue to progress with a solid free agency and a good draft. They will need to address their offensive woes in order to make the necessary progression in 2016. They ranked 28th in the league in yards per game and adding a few dynamic playmakers around Luck could be answer to some of their problems. The team has a promising young player in Donte Moncrief, if they can add a couple offensive lineman and another receiver to go along with Moncrief and Hilton that should bolster their offense. The team must also make significant upgrades on the defensive side of ball to improve on their 26th overall ranking in yards surrendered. The Colts were giving up 379 yards per game and they must get that number down in order to compete moving forward. The team can improve significantly by building up their defensive front. There are some talented defensive lineman in the draft and adding one to their roster in April would be a good move. It won’t be easy but this is what is needed for Indy, they have to make the necessary adjustments and get back to winning the division and making playoff runs. It’s not impossible by any means.

Charity of the day: Reading Is Fundamental

Go donate! www.rif.org

Jared Allen had a great run over the course of his 12 seasons:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Jared Allen is hanging his cleats up after a 12 year professional football career. Allen who played for the Chiefs, Bears, Vikings, and Panthers. Decided it was now time to ride off into the sunset as he put it with a video he posted on twitter which featured him riding off into the Minnesota wilderness. Allen at one point was one of the most dominant pass rushers in the game. In 2011 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings Allen recorded 22 sacks in a single season. Just half a sack shy of Michael Strahan’s 22.5 sacks which are the most ever recorded in a single season. Not only that but his 136 career sacks are good enough to rank him 9th all time among all pass rushers. It’s clear Allen at one point was the best defensive player in the league and wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lineman. Being a defensive end Allen was always matched up against the leagues best offensive tackles and still managed dominate night in and night out. When the Chiefs sent Allen packing to the Vikings for a 1st round pick and two 3rd round picks in the 2008 draft. They certainly might of regretted that decision when you consider Allen’s best years took place after that trade happened. Maybe retaining Allen in Kansas City was the right move looking back but Allen was unhappy about how he was perceived in a negative light for contract talks that took place between him and the Chiefs. So Allen went packing to Minnesota where he gave the Vikings 6 productive seasons. After his time was over in Minnesota he moved on to the Bears where he recorded 5.5 sacks over two seasons. Finally Allen was traded to the Panthers in hopes to land him a Super Bowl ring. Only to come up short on the big stage in the Super Bowl against the Broncos. While that was certainly a disappointment, Jared Allen’s career was a complete success. He earned his respect over those 12 seasons and will likely be in the Hall of Fame someday. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Charity of the day: Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Go donate! www.michaeljfox.org

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