Doug Baldwin is looking to follow up his stellar 2015 performance with more production:

Photo credit: Jamie Squire

Author: Jon Kuzma

Doug Baldwin finished in a 3 way tie for league leader in touchdown catches in 2015 with 14. That total was tied along with Allen Robinson and Brandon Marshall two other outstanding players. That goes to show the company Baldwin is associated with when it comes to catching the football and the future is bright for the Seahawks’ emerging star. Baldwin carved up opposing defensive backfields all year long and his talents were most notably on display against the Ravens and Steelers last year. Against both those teams Baldwin finished with 3 touchdown receptions and when you have a player putting up that much production by himself, good things usually happen for that players team. Those are big returns for Seattle considering that the team acquired Doug Baldwin by signing him as an undrafted free agent in 2011. Since then Baldwin has recorded 29 touchdown catches and 3,826 receiving yards. Pretty impressive stats when you consider that no team even wanted this guy in the 2011 Draft. Seattle has a history of taking players who were less valued and turning them into true contributors. It comes from their strong system and Pete Carroll’s ability to mold players into successful NFL players. Baldwin also benefited from establishing a chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson is pretty good at extending plays with his feet and establishing that rapport with Baldwin allowed the two to understand where the holes in the defense are going to be when Wilson does run. That has resulted in a spike in Doug Baldwin’s production and the pair could be even better in 2016. Baldwin also has done a great job improving his abilities when it comes to acrobatic catches. We’ve seen some pretty big time catches out of Baldwin whether he was making a 1 handed reception or elevating and high pointing the football by out jumping everyone. Those little techniques and intricacies of the wide receiver position come with experience and it’s clear Doug Baldwin is further along than anyone thought he would be. Landing this guy as a undrafted free agent is like finding a diamond in the rough, it doesn’t happen very often but every once in awhile a rare talent like Baldwin comes along. Seahawks fans have to be ecstatic about this guy’s play on the football field.

Charity of the day: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Go donate! www.cbf.org

Jamaal Charles is looking to reestablish his dominance:

Photo credit: Ronald Martinez

Author: Jon Kuzma

Jamaal Charles had a rough 2015 season after being injured for most of the season after a week 5 ACL tear against the Bears. Charles is usually one of the league’s premier running backs and you hate to see a player with his abilities out for nearly a year of action. While that is a huge setback for the Chiefs losing a guy with those talents, it’s not the first time that Jamaal Charles had to go through a knee injury. Back in 2011 Charles suffered an ACL tear against the Detroit Lions in a week 2 match up. That sidelined him for the remainder of the 2011 season but thing that was significant about that injury is how Jamaal Charles bounced back. Charles’s 2012 season was one of his best years as a pro. Charles finished that year with 1,509 rushing yards which was the most that he has ever rushed for in a single season. Now facing that 2015 injury that he just had last season, we will find out if Jamaal Charles can bounce back like he did in 2012. If he has done it once he very well could do it again and if your a Chiefs fan you have to be upbeat about getting Charles back on the football field. He is a dynamic playmaker who would be a star on any team and there is a reason this guy has had 5 seasons of at least 1,000 rushing yards. He is year in and year out one of the best in the business and it’s hard to bet against Jamaal Charles. Expect this guy to be back to 100% and leading Andy Reid’s offense for plenty of first downs in 2016. He is just too good of a player to stay down and with 9 seasons of experience in the National Football League you’d have to think J.C has one more good season left in him. Ultimately getting Jamaal Charles back will be a huge boost for this football team and look for the Chiefs to be a serious contender in the AFC West.

Charity of the day: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Go donate! www.cbf.org

RG3 will look to emerge as the Browns starting quarterback:

Photo credit: Patrick Smith

Author: Jon Kuzma

With Robert Griffin the 3rd signing with the Browns he will get his best chance at cracking the starting line since his time with the Redskins. While most are expecting Griffin to seize the job in Cleveland, he will still have to beat out Josh McCown who played well at times last year and will certainly compete with Griffin. Still it seems like Hue Jackson is confident in Griffin’s abilities and that is good news for RG3 moving forward. Jackson is a brilliant offensive mind, and Griffin has certain skill sets that you can tailor your offense around. That would mean using Griffin in a zone read style offense and also using bootlegs to utilize Griffin’s legs. By moving the quarterback around on passing plays it also adds another dimension to your offense and does a great job of keeping the defense off balance. That is what the Browns hoped to get when they signed Robert Griffin the 3rd and now it will be up to him to go out there and execute day in and day out. Griffin seems like he is mentally in a better place these days and we will see how that translates on the field. You’d have to think the improvement in his comfort level will yield positive returns for the Browns. It was good move by Cleveland signing this guy because he only is getting $6.75 million dollars in guaranteed money. That low risk move for the Browns could turn around and have a big impact. First it starts with Griffin getting in the best shape of his life and making sure he is ready to go physically. If Griffin can give the Browns the best version of himself they are getting a player with a lot of upside. Then Robert Griffin has to be out Josh McCown which by no means will be easy. From there it’s just taking it day by day and producing in games should he win the starting job. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on in Cleveland and finally things are starting to look a little brighter for the Dog Pound. Hue Jackson and the front office deserve most of the praise for their bold off-season moves.

Charity of the day: American Bird Conservancy

Go donate! www.abcbirds.org

The Steelers drafted Artie Burns and Sean Davis to upgrade their defense:

Photo credit: Stacy Revere

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Pittsburgh Steelers knew they had to get better on the defensive side of the ball to take the next step in the postseason. In order to do that the front office decided that the defensive back position was the position that needed the most help. The Steelers drafted stand out Miami cornerback Artie Burns with their 1st round pick hoping that he can provide some support on the back end of the defense. Burns recorded 6 interceptions last year for the Hurricanes and will do a great job challenging those AFC North receivers. When you combine Burns’s efforts with Cam Heyward’s passing rushing abilities you can see why the Steelers thought Burns would be a great fit for them. The Steelers offense is very dynamic, now by adding Burns they give themselves a chance to compete defensively as well. That will be bad news for opposing offenses in the division and the Steelers weren’t content with just Burns either. With their second pick Pittsburgh took Sean Davis out of Maryland who is also an exceptional cornerback. Davis recorded 3 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles last year for the Terrapins. That is a lot of big plays for a player who doesn’t play in the front 7. Usually you see a Derrick Johnson type linebacker with 5 forced fumbles but Davis added that ability to strip the football to his repertoire. That goes along well with the interceptions and this guy is a complete football player as much is Artie Burns is. These are two really good picks and the Steelers will definitely be better defensively in 2016. Give Mike Tomlin and the rest of the staff credit, they did their due diligence this off-season and it will definitely pay off. The team is much more talented defensively than they were a year ago and that bodes well for their future.

Charity of the day:  National Alliance to End Homelessness

Go donate! www.endhomelessness.org

Bosa will have big shoes to fill to match JJ Watt status:

Photo credit: Jon Durr / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

All over the National Football League we’ve heard the comparison that Joey Bosa is the second coming of JJ Watt. While Bosa might be an exceptional player it’s hard to compare him to JJ Watt. Watt will likely finish his career as the best defender of all time outside of Reggie White, and Bruce Smith. To imply that Bosa is a fair comparison to Watt is a complete injustice to what JJ Watt has done in the league. Now if Bosa comes out and wins the Defensive Player of the Year as a rookie, then we can start entertaining the comparison. However JJ Watt has already won that award 3 times in his career and is a rare talent that only comes along every so often. When you go back and compare both players college stats it would suggest that both players are close and that is likely where the comparison comes from. Watt’s season high sack total for a single season was 7 sacks at Wisconsin. Bosa’s season high sack total for a single season was 13.5 sacks at Ohio State. That leads some people to believe that Bosa could someday be even better than Watt. Truthfully though JJ Watt went through a transformation at the pro level that very few players are able to match. Watt is one of the hardest working, most disciplined players in the league and his genetic make up/ build adds to that mix. While Bosa is similar in size and stature he will need to put on about 20 pounds of muscle to be able to match Watt’s intensity. Look we get it, Bosa has a great chance of being a big time player in the league. That is something we can all agree with, but to compare him to JJ Watt is a little bit absurd. If Bosa can finish with 10 sacks in 2016 that will be a huge accomplishment for him. Until then lets leave the comparisons alone.

Charity of the day:  National Alliance to End Homelessness

Go donate! www.endhomelessness.org

Mack and Irvin are ready to unleash havoc on opposing quarterbacks:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Oakland Raiders have two terrific pass rushers in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. Mack had five sacks in a single game last year and showed why he was highly coveted coming out of the 2014 Draft. Mack was so dominant in 2015 he finished second in the league in sacks with 15 on the year. That was only topped by JJ Watt with 17.5 sacks, so that lets you know just how good of a player Khalil Mack truly is. This guy has a thousand different ways to beat opposing offense lineman and is as good as anyone right now in the league at rushing the passer. The Raiders weren’t content with just Mack either. They decided to go out this off-season and add another pass rusher to make their defense that much more potent. Eventually Oakland signed Bruce Irvin away from the Seahawks and Irvin is quite the pass rusher himself. Irvin finished the 2015 season 5.5 sacks and will do a great job of providing additional pressure next to Mack. Irvin has had 22 sacks over his 4 year career so you know you’re going to get those 5 sacks a year from him. That was good enough for the Raiders and together the tandem will help give the Raiders the best chance to win the AFC West in a long time. Expect to see Mack and Irvin both firing into offensive backfields on special blitz packages that send both players. That would be overwhelming for opposing offensive lineman and it’s going to be a nightmare on quarterbacks. You can almost certainly guarantee that the Raiders will have a defender in the qb’s face on every play and that is such a huge asset to have for a football team. In today’s era pass rushers are worth their weight in gold and luckily for the Raiders they have two players who can make some magic happen. Expect Oakland to be a much improved team in 2016.

Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

Go donate! www.woundedwarriorproject.org

It was a rough day for the Buffalo Bills:

Photo credit: Brett Carlsen

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Buffalo Bills had a rough day today losing both Shaq Lawson and Sammy Watkins to injuries. Lawson is undergoing shoulder surgery and will likely miss some regular season games in 2016. That is tough news for the Bills who had high expectations for Lawson hoping he would elevate the team’s defense. With Mario Williams leaving Buffalo in the off-season Lawson was supposed to come in and pick up the slack left by Williams. Now it appears he will be sidelined for a portion of the regular season and it’s not how the Bills envisioned the beginning of the Shaq Lawson era. Defensively the team will have to find other ways to come up with that lack of production and Rex Ryan can’t be too happy about losing Lawson. That wasn’t the only frustration Ryan had to face today either. The team also lost Sammy Watkins for a short period of time due to a broken bone in the receiver’s foot. That setback will keep Watkins out of action until training camp begins and while Watkins should be back for the regular season. The injury still limits the number of reps that Watkins could of got in off-season workouts. Which will ultimately keep the receiver from progressing. The team is very thin at the receiver position outside of Sammy Watkins and they need every little bit of production that they can get from this guy. To have him out action during mini-camp and away from the team will certainly hurt the Bills and it’s really just a case of bad luck for Buffalo. These kind of things happen in the NFL and we will see how well the Bills respond to the adversity. They have one of the most talented teams they’ve had in awhile, now it will be about overcoming these challenges and getting the most out of the other 51 guys in that locker room. The AFC East is a tough conference but with Tom Brady being suspended the first 4 games of the season. This will be the best chance the Bills have had to win that division since the Wade Phillips era. It will be up to Rex Ryan to put this day behind him and do everything in his power to shape a brighter future.

Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

Go donate! www.woundedwarriorproject.org

The Colts will have a tough time reclaiming the AFC South:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Indianapolis Colts have been a powerhouse in the AFC South for a long time but all of that came to an end last season when the Texans claimed the division. Part of that was due to Andrew Luck being banged up for most of the year but even beyond that the Colts are starting to slip talent wise. The team saw former Tight End Coby Fleener skip town for New Orleans in free agency and after he left Fleener questioned the Colts effort during the 2015 season. While talent being down will almost guarantee losing in the NFL, not giving effort is a whole other kind of failure. If you’re a professional athlete and you aren’t even willing to go out there and compete bad things are going to happen for your football team every time. The Colts put a lot of pressure on Chuck Pagano last season for under performing but truthfully the front office hasn’t got the job done either. That lack of quality decision making from Colts brass has caused morale to drop and part of that ripple effect is players lacking motivation to play for Indianapolis. That is why the Colts are trending downward and why the future isn’t looking as bright as it once did for the Colts. The team also failed to address their lackluster defense properly as well. While adding Patrick Robinson will help the secondary, the team finished 26th overall defensively and will need a significant overhaul. The offense was even worse in 2015 finishing 28th. However you know the offense is going to improve from having a healthy Luck back. The Colts should of came up with a good plan of action to address the defense in the draft. Yet when the time came the team went offensive with Ryan Kelly hoping Luck will lead the team back to AFC South supremacy. What the Colts forgot to realize is defensive wins championships in football and the team will not be able to reclaim the AFC South title in 2016 because of lack of effort on the defensive side of the ball. It’s the whole organizations fault collectively as well, even though we all know they are going to make Chuck Pagano the scapegoat. It’s a sad situation for Indy and don’t expect it to get better in 2016.

Charity of the day: Firefighters Charitable Foundation

Go donate! www.ffcf.org

Taking the pressure off DeAndre Hopkins in Houston:

Photo credit: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Houston Texans did everything they can to give DeAndre Hopkins a supporting cast around him. For the Texans that meant drafting Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to help avoid Hopkins from being doubled teamed. When you add in the Texans quarterback will be Brock Osweiler things are certainly looking better for the Texans offense. Hopkins was one of the best pass catchers in the league last season and the Texans desperately needed another wide receiver to contribute to those efforts. Now the Texans are hoping they will have two other players who can contribute to their passing game. Fuller was excellent at Notre Dame recording back to back 1,000 yard receiving seasons, while Miller was slowly emerging into a productive wide receiver. Now the Texans are hoping to use all 3 players in 3 wide receiver sets to create spacing on the field. That would mean teams will have to do extra coordination to stop the Texans big 3 in the passing game. Production wise this could go either way for Hopkins, he could improve from the other threats around him or he could regress due to less balls thrown his way. The Texans are hoping that those 3 players will mesh and the teams offense will improve on their 19th ranking that they finished with in 2015. It’s clear talent wise the team is much improved at the quarterback and receiver position. Now it’s about coming out and executing in games. Sometimes teams are very talented on paper but don’t fulfill that potential because they don’t sync in and play like a sound unit. Don’t expect that to be the case with the Texans however, Bill O’ Brien has slowly improved this team since he has got to Houston. It feels like he is the right guy for the job and the Texans will do everything they can to repeat as AFC South champions in 2016. Expect DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller to be a big reason they do so.

Charity of the day: Firefighters Charitable Foundation

Go donate! www.ffcf.org

The Redskins believed improving their defense would give them the best chance for success in 2016:

Photo credit: Al Bello / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Washington Redskins won the NFC East and went to the playoffs in 2015 and in order to top that performance the team needed to get better defensively. The Redskins front office understood this and that is why we seen the team add Josh Norman as the big off-season acquisition. Norman is an elite level corner who will make passing against the Redskins much tougher. Norman can break on throws as good as anyone in the NFL right now and he will give the Redskins a huge boost in the secondary. That wasn’t the only defensive move the Skin’s made though, they also made sure they got their fair share of defensive players in the draft as well. The team drafted 3 straight defensive players with the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th round picks (Washington didn’t have a 4th round pick). Which included Su’a Cravens from the University of Southern California who was a terrific football player and should be able to help the Redskins at some linebacker position. Coach Gruden has stated that Cravens will likely play inside linebacker for the team, so we will see how well he transitions to that position and what kind of contributions he can make to Washington’s defense. With the Cowboys landing Ezekiel Elliot Cravens will be needed to help keep Dallas and the other NFC East teams in check. Gruden and the rest of the coaching staff believe Cravens can do so and that is ultimately why Cravens finds himself in D.C. Another notable player the Redskins drafted was Kendall Fuller in the 3rd round. Kendall Fuller is from the prestigious Fuller family which now has their 4th son playing in the National Football League with Kendall. The pedigree is certainly there for Kendall Fuller and expect him to play a lot like his brother Kyle Fuller who plays for the Chicago Bears. That would be a good player to pair along with Josh Norman and you can begin to see why the Redskins put such a priority on defense this off-season. The team is hoping they can be a true contender in the 2016 postseason and with these moves they very well might be. This is the best the Redskins have been talent wise since Joe Gibbs era.

Charity of the day: Center for Victims of Torture

Go donate! www.cvt.org

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