Chargers need playmakers to help turn their team around:

Photo Credit: Don Juan Moore / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The San Diego Chargers struggled in 2015 with a record of 4 wins and 12 losses. The team seems to have problems at a few different positions and in order to get some good momentum the team has to have a great draft at the end of the month. A good draft for the San Diego Charger would start off by landing Jalen Ramsey. While the Chargers desperately need another wide receiver to throw to. Ramsey is a great choice at the number 3 pick assuming that Tunsil goes to the Titans and either Wentz or Goff goes to Cleveland. Ramsey would give the Chargers the best defensive back in the whole draft and an elite level talent that could eliminate opposing receivers. When the Arizona Cardinals landed Patrick Peterson in the 2011 draft. Things really started to pick up for them. The Chargers are hoping the same thing will happen for them when they pick Jalen Ramsey out of Florida State. Some people will wonder how this move helps an aging Philip Rivers? The answer is very simple, having Ramsey will allow the team to get more stops defensively. Which means in 2016 the Chargers should have more offensive snaps than they did in 2015 if they draft Jalen Ramsey. San Diego was so desperate to get off the field last season defensively that drafting Ramsey is really a no brainer. The next round is really quite simple for the Chargers as well. The team needs to select a wide receiver to help put points on the board. Michael Thomas out of Ohio State would certainly fill that void. Thomas was spectacular in 2015 for the Buckeyes recording 781 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. That type of big play capability would go a long way when paired with Philip Rivers excellence. One other option in the second round for the Chargers might be going after Kenny Clark out of UCLA. Adding Ramsey and Clark would give the Chargers defense such a boost that the team would be able to compete for a long time. It’s really up to what the front office wants to do and what their preference is in strategy. In the middle rounds expect the Chargers to address their offensive line and get Rivers some protection. That would be the cherry on top of a great draft for San Diego. We’ll see if they get it right April 28th.

Charity of the day: Coalition for the homeless

Go donate! www.coalitionforthehomeless.org

Tampa Bay would be best off going defense in the 2016 draft:

Photo credit: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a in much better spot than they were one off-season ago. After drafting Jameis Winston the team finished the 2015 season with a 6-10 record. That was a huge improvement over their 2014 record of 2-14. Now with a new Head Coach in place (Dirk Koetter) and most of the major pieces in place on offense. It will be up to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to put the final touches on their defense and do their best as an organization to take that next step, which would be to make the playoffs. The team was in the NFC Wildcard hunt at the end of last season, only to come up short when it was all said and done. In order to prevent that from happening again the Bucs should do their best to put another talented defensive lineman around Gerald McCoy. If Deforest Buckner is still there at the number 9 draft spot, that would be a huge steal for the Buccaneers. Buckner is a player that could come in and really set the tone opposite of McCoy. That would make it very tough for opposing offenses when going against Tampa’s defense and ultimately would give the team the best shot to succeed. Now it gets a little bit tougher if Buckner isn’ there. You could look at Shaq Lawson or Kevin Dodd to fill your need around McCoy. Or the team could hope that Vernon Hargreaves falls in their lap and instead choose to fill their corner need first. Hargreaves recorded 4 interceptions last season for the Florida Gators and really did a great job of showing why he is one of the top cover guys in the nation. A player like that would really help out the Buccaneers on the backend of their defense, but the bottom line is Tampa should look to dominate the line of scrimmage first. You do that by drafting lineman on both sides of the ball and by winning the games in the trenches. Tampa should shoot for Buckner as their first choice, and work down the evaluated list. That is the best option for the Buccaneers at the moment.

Charity of the day: American Red Cross

Go donate! www.redcross.org

Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

When the Carolina Panthers selected Luke Kuechly in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Panthers knew exactly what they were getting. The former Boston College linebacker led the nation in tackles in both 2010, and 2011 so there was no arguing what kind of player Kuechly was entering the pro ranks. Once Kuechly got to Carolina he never lost a step either. Kuechly has been a pro for 4 seasons and has recorded an impressive 591 career tackles. When you average 147 tackles per year, you’re usually in the running for the best defensive player in the league. Kuechly has already won that award once back in 2013, and he year in and year out continues to contribute amazing defensive statistics for the Panthers football team. Now entering his fifth season Luke Kuechly will try to lead the Panthers back to the Super Bowl and this time hopefully take the Lombardi Trophy back to Charlotte. The Panthers are a dynamic young team and are led by Cam Newton offensively. If the team can put enough talent on offense around Newton the team will always be able to compete. That is because Kuechly is going to elevate everyone around him on defense, and he patches up any holes or weaknesses that the team might have defensively. When you have one guy that is as dominant as Kuechly has been for the Carolina Panthers. It makes everyone else’s job around him easier because he is going so far beyond his responsibilities. For example Luke Kuechly has 11 interceptions over his 4 year career. So those safeties behind him feel comfortable allowing those wide receiver under routes to be handled by their middle linebacker (Kuechly) in the passing game. So essentially Luke Kuechly is a true 2 way player. He can play the run, and he play the pass. So no matter what option the opposing offense chooses they are still going against tough odds when they see number 59 on the Carolina Panthers.

Charity of the day: United States Fund for UNICEF

Go donate! www.unicefusa.org

Ezekiel Elliot would be a dynamic playmaker in any offense:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

With the NFL draft quickly approaching, teams are lining up their scouting reports and doing their best to prepare for the big day. One top player in the draft who is on every team’s radar is former Ohio State University running back Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot recorded 58 touchdowns during his 3 seasons in Columbus and his superior athletic abilities make him one of the most dynamic players in the whole draft. While the running back position seems to get disrespected when it comes to value these days. Having a player like Elliot on your roster will instantly give your rushing attack a competitive edge. Elliot rushed for almost 4,000 yards while with the Buckeyes (3,961 rushing yards was his career total) and he is coming off back to back 1,800 yard rushing seasons. It’s not likely that Elliot will fall below the #7 draft position. Chip Kelly loaded the Philadelphia backfield with Darren Sproles, Ryan Matthews, and DeMarco Murray. Those moves suggest that Kelly puts a specific emphasis on the running back position. With that philosophy in mind you would have to think the 49ers who finished 21st in rushing during the 2015 season. Would take a guy like Elliot and let him be the back bone of Chip Kelly’s new offense in San Francisco. Obviously the Miami Dolphins and with the departure of Lemar Miller you’d have to think they would be in the market for a running back as well. Adam Gase’s new offense would get a nice boost in the running game and Elliot could help Miami get back to having success on the football field. Elliot really shouldn’t slip past the number 13 spot with Miami but we’ve seen crazier things happen in the draft. When it’s all said and done though, who ever drafts Ezekiel Elliot is getting a pure football player. He understands the game and is as explosive as some of the best we’ve ever seen. He’ll be a great player in this league some day.

Charity of the day: United States Fund for UNICEF

Go donate! www.unicefusa.org

Josh Gordon debate: why the owners and league should look past marijuana use

Photo credit: Scott Cunningham

Author: Jon Kuzma

With news swirling around the league that Josh Gordon failed another drug test for marijuana use, we have to start looking at the bigger picture. If you really think about it, Gordon is a small problem to the league compared to the bigger problem at stake. That is the fact that we’ve over punished not only athletes for marijuana use but humans as well. In 2014 there were 700,993 people arrested in the United States for marijuana. It’s clear that the American people like to smoke marijuana for whatever reason, and instead of having an uptight approach about it. It’s better to just accept that this is what society has moved towards, and we have to respect the public’s choice. Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and even our nation’s capital Washington D.C has legalized pot. With the NFL being so on top of other social movements, particularly the open arms welcome of Michael Sam to the league recently. It doesn’t make sense that the league would take a harsh stance against marijuana. se. It’s not about whether or not you or I prefer to use marijuana. It’s about keeping up with the times and evolving with ideology. Josh Gordon had a responsibility to his teammates and himself not to smoke. However a lot of people are using these substances to medicate themselves, and we can’t boldly deny the medicinal benefits of marijuana anymore now that 23 states legalized marijuana for medical use. Look we all know there is no way in hell the commissioner is going to let Josh Gordon step on a football field in 2016. The commissioner is obsessed with presenting himself as perfect while throwing the players who make him millions under the bus. The owners already have enough advantages tilted in their favor. Lightening up and looking at marijuana to treat the grind of daily football life might be a serious solution to a lot of the league’s problems. At the end of the day the league should let Gordon play because he isn’t hurting anyone and there are other players in the league playing right now that have committed way worse crimes than he has. It’s time to get it right Mr. Commissioner, although we all know you won’t.

Charity of the day: NAMI

Go donate! www.nami.org

Chip Kelly is back to his “sell the house” mentality:

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

For those who aren’t familiar with Chip Kelly’s departure from the Philadelphia Eagles, it can be summed up by stating the coach was overbearing and bad at managing professional talent. Kelly shipped off several of the Eagles key players believing that his coaching brilliance could mask the lack of talent. That ultimately led to the Eagles struggling in Kelly’s final season in Philly and his eventual departure from the team. Now that the 49ers have signed Kelly as their new Head Football Coach, it appears Chip Kelly is back to his old ways. Kelly is apparently shopping 3 time Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea and and offensive tackle Anthony Davis. While maybe these are the moves that the team needs to move forward? It’s hard for football fans not to question Kelly’s decision making when dealing talent due to his past mishaps. Chip Kelly seems to have a knack for shipping off talented players and not getting much in return for them. Maybe Kelly’s thinking is the team is better off with the cap space that they achieve from these moves? Maybe he believes the team is better off building his vision of a successful football team through the draft? Regardless one thing is apparent with his continuous course of action. It doesn’t work, and Kelly would be much better suited retaining talent oppose to shipping it out the door. In the NFL you get the top by building around a core group of guys and by constantly adding to that core. Kelly is creating problems for himself by causing such a high turnover within the teams he coaches. You would think that Kelly learned from coming up short at his last gig. However this is Chip Kelly we’re talking about. The guy is clearly more than a little bit egotistical and he has proven that time and time again. It’s Kelly’s way or the highway with everything he does and that doesn’t seem to bode well for his success in the National Football League. Keep an eye on the 49ers this year because we might see the same pattern that we seen in Philadelphia. That is pro players not buying into Kelly’s schemes and philosophies and the alienating of talent. We wish coach Kelly the best, but sooner or later he has to take a hint. Coaching is a two way street and you have to respect the players as individuals with their own beliefs and feelings. Until he can do that, Kelly’s struggles will continue.

Charity of the day: NAMI

Go donate! www.nami.org

Steve McNair, Sean Taylor, and Will Smith were all taken too soon due to gun violence:

Photo credit: Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Football is a violent game and players are expected to be able to shut off that violence when they walk off the field. The majority of players do a great job of controlling themselves and know when to draw the line when using their physical advantages. However there are plenty of cases where football players were victims of violence in their own personal lives. Steve McNair was the star quarterback of the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans, and Baltimore Ravens for 13 strong seasons. McNair threw for 174 touchdowns over the course of his career and was the definition of a gritty quarterback. His life was ultimately cut short when his 20 year old girlfriend shot and killed McNair before turning the gun on herself, and committing suicide. McNair’s legacy will forever live on through the NFL, but it was a case of unnecessary violence that claimed a life too soon. Sean Taylor was one of the most electrifying safeties that the NFL has ever seen. Taylor’s unique blend of size (6’2 212 LBS) and speed (4.51 40 yard dash) allowed him to physically dominate on the football field. Taylor had 12 interceptions and 302 tackles during his 4 year career with the Washington Redskins. His reign as a football god was cut short when an intruder broke into Taylor’s home and shot him. The football world mourned because a fan favorite was lost, but like McNair Taylor was a father. Both men’s duties and responsibilities went beyond a football field, they had children to raise and be there for. Those memories were cut short in the end due to gun violence. Finally we have the recent loss of Will Smith. He was taken away from us when a disagreement over a car accident took place. Smith was shot and killed when that disagreement took a fatal turn. Smith was a Super Bowl Champion and recorded 67.5 sacks during his time as a professional football player. Now just 4 years into his retirement and time away from pro football. Smith was gunned down, and taken from the world before his time should of expired. Each loss is a life that was taken away from a family, friend, and teammate. Each loss was a life taken away in an incident that is unacceptable and preventable.

Arizona Cardinal’s defensive back Tyrann Mathieu talked about how the opportunities aren’t there for the younger generation. Particularly in the educational and recreational areas of life. Public parks all over the United States don’t maintain their grass anymore. Basketball courts rarely have nets put up anymore and asking for gym time is nearly out of the question. The cutbacks that have been made due to the economic crisis have hindered our youth’s ability to develop themselves through different forms of recreational participation. As a result the skills that these same youth learn are mainly made up of unethical practices. In order to take a stand against the violence, we have to do a better job of providing recreational opportunities for our youth, young adults, and adults. The NFL also should take the time to honor all three players to help raise awareness about gun violence in America, and the harm it does on our families and loved ones.

RIP Steve McNair. RIP Sean Taylor. RIP Will Smith.

Charity of the day: Defenders of Wildlife

Will Smith is shot and killed after a car crash in New Orleans:

Photo credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The NFL community is morning after former Super Bowl champion Will Smith was shot and killed yesterday in New Orleans. Smith was a defensive end for the New Orleans Saints and recorded 67.5 sacks over the duration of his 10 year career. It was Smith’s ability to rush opposing quarterbacks which helped him earn the respect of football insiders around the industry. However Smith was much more than just a football player. Smith was the father of 3 three children, and a husband as well. His wife was actually with him during the time of the shooting but she is expected to make full recovery. Apparently after being rear ended by a hummer truck in New Orleans Saturday, Smith then began arguing with the hummer driver. That is when the driver opened fire on Smith and essentially took the former Saints’ life. Smith had such a big impact beyond the football field as well. He was the founder of the If There is a Will, There is a Way foundation. The foundation had a mission of helping educate, and provide opportunities for women and children. So there are so many reasons beyond football that are causing the New Orleans community to suffer from this tragic loss. This is another case of preventable violence that has claimed the life of a human being too soon. There are reports leaking out now that the killer had a premeditated motive behind killing Smith. We don’t know all the details yet but it appears Smith was an enemy to the murderer due to previous relations. The police do have the perpetrator in custody and he is being charged with 2nd degree murder charges. Still it won’t bring back the life of a great man who always did things the right way. Nothing will ever be able to replace him. Prayer to Smith’s family and loved ones.

Charity of the day: Defenders of Wildlife

Go donate! www.defenders.org

Jets land Ryan Clady to replace D’Brickashaw Ferguson:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Jets didn’t waist much time when it came to replacing 3 time Pro Bowler D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The Jets traded for Ryan Clady today formerly of the Denver Broncos to help replace their departing left tackle. Clady is actually a 4 time Pro Bowler and is 3 years younger than Ferguson. So in some ways the team could be better off, however it must be stated that Ferguson was an absolute iron man when it came to not missing any playing time. So much that D’Brickashaw Ferguson only missed one snap during his entire professional career. While on the other hand Clady has been sidelined with injuries for a whole season in the past. Still when the two are healthy, Clady will usually be the better option. The gamble with Clady is clearly on the health side of things and as long as there is no issues there. This should end up be being an outstanding pick up for the New York Jets. Clady will come in and likely fill Ferguson’s spot at the left tackle position and the front office has to be hoping that Clady will be blocking for Ryan Fitzpatrick. The former Jets starter has yet to re-sign with this team and if something doesn’t happen shortly. The Jets might have to find another player to lead their football team at the quarterback position. Landing one of the marquee quarterbacks in the draft might by a solution to the Jets problem but the team would be better off with Ryan Fitzpatrick than they would with a rookie. Regardless of who is blocking up front, Fitzpatrick’s veteran presence give’s the team the best chance to succeed. Fitzpatrick has taken his lumps in the league and knows what it takes to win in the National Football League. Landing a guy like Clady should help Fitzpatrick understand that the team is committed to protecting whoever their quarterback is, but at the end of the day that deal is about money. Give the team credit they didn’t take a step back by losing Ferguson and not having a player to plug in the vacancy. They only gave up a 5th round pick to trade for Clady as well. So overall it was a good deal for the Jets.

Charity of the day:  American Liver Foundation

Go donate! www.liverfoundation.org

Cincinnati made the right move by extending Marvin Lewis’s contract

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cincinnati Bengals made the right move by extending Marvin Lewis’s contract for another season. Lewis will be under contract with the Bengals until 2017, and after turning Cincinnati into year in and year out contender. Lewis certainly deserves that extension. Cincinnati wasn’t even relevant before Lewis got there. The team hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1990, and as soon as Marvin Lewis seized control of this team. The Bengals started making tremendous strides in the right direction. That is why we’ve seen Bengals owner Mike Brown be so reluctant to get rid of Marvin Lewis, even when the team has struggled. In the National Football League it’s imperative that you have a talented head coach leading your team. Lewis brings all the positive characteristics that make up a successful coach. He is an honorable man, he works hard, he can connect with people from all walks of life, and he gets his team to buy into his discipline and philosophies. That is why coach Lewis has been able to make the playoffs 7 times while at the helm for Cincinnati. The stats don’t lie Marvin Lewis is best candidate for the job, and you almost have to wonder why the Bengals aren’t committed to signing him to a long term deal. Clearly the team doesn’t want to make that commitment because they keep handing Lewis a one year extension. You have to wonder what their reluctance is though, because he has been by far the most successful coach this organization has had. Forrest Gregg and Sam Wyche both took the Bengals to one Super Bowl each and lost. However neither one of those coaches has made as many playoff appearances as Marvin Lewis (7) and neither one of those coaches has as many wins as Marvin Lewis (112). It was good move by Cincy to extend the contract now it’s time they do the right thing and give Coach Lewis the long term deal he deserves.

Charity of the day:  American Liver Foundation

Go donate! www.liverfoundation.org

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