Jared Goff has looked great at Los Angeles Rams off-season conditioning:

Photo credit: Tim Bradbury / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Los Angeles Rams gave up a boatload of draft picks to draft Jared Goff but apparently Goff has made significant strides entering his second season. Word out of California is Goff is handling new Head Coach Sean McVay’s offense excellently and that’s great news if you’re a Rams fan. Last year at this time Goff couldn’t even take a snap from under center and now it appears Goff is making reads and truly understanding what NFL defenses are throwing at him. Jared Goff finished 2016 with only 5 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions but keep in mind many great quarterbacks struggled during their rookie season. Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Brett Favre and John Elway all threw more interceptions than they did touchdowns in their first year of NFL action. While it’s definitely too early to mention Goff’s name in the same sentences of those legendary players, it’s also much too soon to write Goff off as a bust. Making the transition from college to the NFL isn’t easy if you’re a quarterback and that’s because it’s such a mental battle. As a quarterback you have to know every formation, all the terminology of the offensive playbook, and how to make hot reads all on the fly. Not only that but you have to understand what every other player on the offense is doing, so it’s a lot too soak up and it can overwhelm a young player early on. All of those intricacies of the game are exactly what Jared Goff has improved on and that means the Rams will have a much more polished quarterback in Goff’s second season. Now the bad news for Jared Goff is he doesn’t have very much help around him.The Rams overpaid for Robert Woods and Andrew Whitworth two free agents who are supposed to come in and make life easier on Jared Goff. However it’s hard to say if those guys will be enough to give Goff the talent he really needs around him to excel. Los Angeles is just depleted of talent right now and General Manager Les Snead hasn’t done enough to give this team a chance to compete. Goff will be better this year but if the Rams don’t get some players around him most of the football fans in Los Angeles will be Chargers fans next season.

Charity of the day: Human Rights Watch

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Seattle thought about trading up to draft Patrick Mahomes and you have to wonder what that means for Russell Wilson?

Photo credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks thought about making a move for rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 Draft and you have to wonder what that means for current starting Quarterback Russell Wilson? Wilson only threw 21 touchdowns last season but he did manage to throw for 4,219 yards. While the yardage was definitely there, Seattle was obviously concerned about Wilson’s lack of touchdown production and now the 6th year quarterback is officially on the hot seat. Seattle didn’t actually end up drafting a quarterback in the draft, so Wilson will have 2017 to prove his worth. Make no mistake about it though, if Russell Wilson struggles this upcoming season Pete Carroll and the rest of that organization will make a move for someone else. The Seahawks added Amara Darboh a receiver out of the University of Michigan in the 3rd round to help Wilson out. With Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, and Amara Darboh Wilson should have the best receiving group he has ever had in Seattle. Which means there will be even more pressure on Wilson to produce results. The Seahawks did their part by getting Wilson as many playmakers as they possible could. Now it’s up to Russell Wilson to fulfill his end of the agreement and lead Seattle back to Super Bowl contention. The Seahawks have lost in the divisional round the last 2 seasons, so Wilson has to at least get to the conference championship in 2017 to show he is taking steps in the right direction. Look, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with being a starting quarterback in the National Football League and Wilson has to earn his job in this league just like the other 52 guys in the locker room. If Wilson doesn’t the Seahawks will find somebody else who can get the job done. The Seahawks are already looking around so Wilson better realize the opportunity he has. It’s now or never for Russell Wilson.

Charity of the day: Common Cause Education Fund

Go donate! www.commoncause.org

The Vikings ground game is going to be dominant after adding Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook this off-season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Mike Zimmer was starting to lose the Minnesota Vikings locker room after Minnesota finished 2016 with an 8-8 record. In order to prevent that from happening again Zimmer and the Vikings front office brought in Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook which should lift a huge burden off this team’s offense. The Vikings were ranked 28th in 2016 in total offense and that was largely because Minnesota was the worst football team in the entire league when it came to running the ball. Adding Murray and Cook instantly changes that and now you can expect this team to finish at least in the middle of the pack when it comes to the running game. That improvement will lead to huge results for the Minnesota Vikings and now you have to watch out for this team in the NFC North. Zimmer already commands the 3rd best defense in the league, so adding a functional offense to the mix will yield great results for Minnesota. Also when you factor just how good Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook are you can see why this is such a blessing for the Vikings. Latavius Murray scored 12 rushing touchdowns last year and that’s 72 points that one player alone was able to score. If Minnesota can get that same production out of Murray that’s a lot of offensive fire power that’s being added to the roster. Keep in mind Dalvin Cook was also flat out electrifying in his last 3 seasons at the Florida State. Cook scored 46 touchdowns during his collegiate career and that’s 426 points from Cook scored alone. So you can see just how effective these two players have been and why they will be the perfect additions for the Minnesota Vikings. It almost felt like Minnesota was going to regress and take a step backwards, in the end the Vikings land two quality running backs and completely change their fortune. Give this organization a ton of credit for having a game plan and for being able to execute that game plan when the time came.

Charity of the day: Common Cause Education Fund

Go donate! www.commoncause.org

LeGarrette Blount is the hottest free agent available on the market right now:

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire

Author: Jon Kuzma

With many of this off-season’s free agents already signed, there still is one player on the market that could have a huge impact for one football team. That player is former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. After rushing for for 18 touchdowns last season, Blount earned the right to a larger contract but New England was reluctant to bend on their low cost financial model for running backs. New England opted to sign former Buffalo Bills Running Back Mike Gillislee and that essentially left LeGarrette Blount without a place to play in 2017. We’ve been hearing that the New York Giants are the front-runner to land Blount, but the Giants have very little cap space to actually make the move happen. In order for New York to sign Blount they might have to maneuver a little bit and trade or cut some players. That might be too much of a commitment for Jerry Reese and it will interesting to see if the Giants General Manager takes that initiative or not? There were also rumors that the Lions could be in the hunt for Blount and that’s why they opted not to draft a running back, but when you look at Detroit’s cap space they’re in even worse shape than the Giants are. So if the Lions and the Giants are out, you basically want to look at the teams who struggled running the ball in 2016 and who has the cap space to sign Blount? One team that really stands out when you assess those 2 factors (lack of rushing production and available cap space) are the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts ranked 23rd in rushing last season averaging just over 100 yards per game (101.8). Indianapolis also needs a running back and they have around $11 million in cap space. That would make since because the Colts are still getting by with an older Frank Gore, who is still producing at the age 33 years old. Eventually Gore will have to step aside and signing Blount will help minimize the Colts transition beyond Gore. The other potential team to land Blount’s services could be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Buccaneers really want to put the cherry on top of an excellent off-season signing Blount would certainly be just that. Tampa Bay also has around $13 million in cap space available. So if the Buccaneers aren’t comfortable with Doug Martin anymore, signing Blount could be option for them as well. Someone is going to make a move for LeGarrette Blount shortly and they will be getting an excellent player when they do. It’s not everyday you get a chance to add an 18 touchdown caliber player to your roster.

Charity of the day: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Go donate! www.bbrfoundation.org

Tyreek Hill is going to be lights, camera, action in his second NFL season:

Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Kansas City Chiefs were pleasantly surprised by Tyreek Hill’s rookie season and it’s not often you have a player enter the league that’s instantly as dynamic as Hill was. Hill recorded 6 receiving touchdowns, 3 rushing touchdowns, 1 kick return touchdown, and 2 punt return touchdowns. Hill is somewhat of a swiss army knife type of player and he can make an impact in so many different phases of the game. Clearly those stats tell you that and it’s rare that a rookie scores 12 touchdowns in his first season of pro action. The Chiefs took a chance on Tyreek Hill and there were definitely some worries about his off the field character. However so far it’s panned out for Kansas City and Hill could be even better in his 2nd season. Players gain awareness with every repetition they take in training camp, practice, and in games. Hill was producing big results off his raw football instincts and as he improves from his own personal development he should gain a better understanding of what it takes to be successful in the National Football League. That is bad news for opposing football teams and If you’re a defensive coordinator or special teams coach in the AFC West, you’re staying up late at night trying to figure out how to stop Tyreek Hill. Kansas City is looking for a away to take that next step in the AFC conference and if Tyreek Hill can give this team even more that will be a step in the right direction. When one player carries as much weight as Hill does it makes life easier for every other player on that team. Now the other role players on the Chiefs have to be at their best and provide some addition plays to the Chiefs’ efforts. That’s the formula for success for Kansas City and Andy Reid will do everything he can to make that happen. Luckily for Coach Reid he is fortunate to have players like Tyreek Hill who set the bar high for his football team.

Charity of the day: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Go donate! www.bbrfoundation.org

The Miami Dolphins first three draft picks were defensive players:

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Miami Dolphins knew they had to get better defensively in order to improve their football team and that’s exactly what Miami did when they went defense with their first three draft picks. The Dolphins selected Charles Harris out of Missouri with their 1st round pick. Harris recorded 34.5 sacks in three seasons in Columbia and that was too good for the Dolphins to pass up. Miami let go of an aging Mario Williams last season and Harris gives this football team a chance to infuse a youthful pass rusher who should be able to dominate when he comes into his own. Miami drafted an inside linebacker with their 2nd pick, they selected Raekwon McMillian out of Ohio State University. McMillian registered over 100 tackles his last two seasons in Columbus and that consistency is what Miami loved about the 20 year old linebacker. McMillian will be expected to eventually anchor the Dolphins linebacker corps and this was a tremendous pick in the 2nd round. It’s not often you can find defensive players with this much upside outside of the 1st round and McMillian will be apart of the Dolphins long term plans on the defensive side of the ball. The Dolphins third straight defensive pick was a cornerback named Cordrea Tankersley out of the University of Clemson. Tankersley recorded 9 interceptions over his last 2 seasons at Clemson. Tankersly was a big piece to the Tigers defensive puzzle and keep in mind this guy is fresh off a National Championship. Miami is hoping Cordrea Tankersley can bring his winning ways to Miami Gardens and expect him to upgrade a Dolphins secondary that ranked 15th against the pass in 2016. So it’s clear Miami’s front office believed that Adam Gase could handle everything on the offensive side of the ball and they wanted to put as much talent on defense to balance things out. That compelled Miami to invest heavily in the defensive side of the ball in the draft and these were good football moves when you consider defense wins championships. These picks should help Miami take a step closer to that goal in 2017.

Charity of the day: HealthRight International

Go donate! www.healthright.org

The Arizona Cardinals are on the verge of imploding after a poor off-season and a bad salary cap situation:

Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Arizona Cardinals had a losing season in 2016 posting a 7-8-1 record for the year. That was a letdown for football fans in the desert and it doesn’t look like the Cardinals are going to be improving anytime soon. Arizona had a terrible off-season losing several key players including Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, and Marcus Cooper. Keep in mind Michael Floyd is no longer with Arizona either after being dismissed from the team after a serious of off the field letdowns. The Cardinals had all these subtractions from their roster and they are still nearly $3 million dollars over the salary cap. Basically that means the Cardinals have a below .500 football team with no cap space available to spend on additional players. Most teams that are bad, have a large amount of cap space to rebuild their roster. Arizona somehow managed to put themselves in a bad situation financially and that’s why the Cardinals weren’t able to make a splash in free agency. Not only that but the moves General Manager Steve Keim made will likely cost him and Bruce Arians their jobs at the end of 2017. The Cardinals reached their ceiling with Carson Palmer back in 2015, which was Arizona’s last playoff appearance. If you watched that game you knew Palmer’s time was at an end but the Cardinals failed to turn the page on the veteran signal caller. A 37 year old quarterback is going to have trouble producing in a young man’s game and Palmer folded in the playoffs when the intensity got turned up a notch. Don’t let Palmer’s regular season stats fool you he isn’t going to get the job done when the Cardinals face true adversity. Keim should have drafted Palmer’s replacement two years ago when he knew his starting quarterback was entering his late 30’s. Keim failed to do so and by not getting that task done again in 2017, that will eventually cost the Arizona Cardinals a whole lot of morale. Arizona should have worked a trade in the draft to give their team more draft picks or to bring in a highly coveted player. Instead they were passive and that’s not going to improve your team when you’re already struggling. Arizona could have used Forrest Lamp or DeShone Kizer in the 2nd round and making the right pick could have motivated Larry Fitzgerald to stick around. Now it looks like it will be another season of Carson Palmer and even more regression for the Arizona Cardinals. You have to feel bad for the players on this roster who clearly acknowledge that their front office isn’t getting it done for them.

Charity of the day: Partners in Health

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The Tampa Buccaneers gave Jameis Winston everything he could ever ask for this off-season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers believe the offensive side of the ball will be the key to their success and that was evident in the Buccaneers off-season moves. Tampa Bay signed several key offensive players, while only addressing the defense sparingly. Out of those offensive players the most notable is hands down DeSean Jackson. Jackson is the highest paid free agent Tampa Bay signed this year and Jackson will make $33 million dollars over a 3 year contract. Jackson is supposed to be the playmaker on the outside who helps add another dynamic to the Buccaneers passing game and Winston will have a plethora of receivers between Desean Jackson, Mike Williams, Cameron Brate, and Adam Humphries. Tampa Bay wasn’t content with that group of pass catchers either, the Buccaneers also drafted the University of Alabama’s O.J Howard in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Howard was easily the best tight end in the entire draft and when you combine Howard with those other guys you see how many weapons Jameis Winston has at his disposal. Winston threw for 28 touchdowns and 4,000 yards last year with a much less talented group and don’t be surprised to see the 23 year old quarterback flourish in his 3rd professional season. The Bucs signed a $33 million dollar receiver and drafted a tight end in the 1st round to elevate the overall talent level on this offense and that was all done with Jameis Winston in mind. The more talent you surround your franchise quarterback with, the better overall results the team will receive. Tampa Bay doubled down on offense because they knew they have something special in Winston and they believe his maturity will continue to progress as time goes on. You have to respect the Buccaneers approach because so many other teams get it wrong and make ill-advised roster moves in the off-season. Tampa Bay didn’t fall into that trap and now the Bucs will be a serious contender in 2017. This team has a great chance to be a wild card team and don’t be surprised when you see them in the playoffs. Jameis Winston is going to will this team there.

Charity of the day: Partners in Health

Go donate! www.pih.org

What are the odds that DeShone Kizer can win the Browns starting quarterback job over Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler?

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cleveland Browns wanted to make sure they had a group of quarterbacks competing for the starting job and that’s why Cleveland selected DeShone Kizer in the 2nd round. Kizer is a 6 foot 4 inch 234 pound physical specimen at the quarterback position and Cleveland is hoping that big frame can propel Kizer to NFL success. While Kizer’s collegiate career was definitely a success in his two seasons in South Bend Indiana, that doesn’t mean Kizer is a shoo-in to win Cleveland’s starting quarterback job over Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. Not only do Kessler and Osweiler have more NFL experience than DeShone Kizer, when you compare their collegiate careers to Kizer’s you also can see that both Osweiler and particularly Cody Kessler are a threat to DeShone Kizer. A few things that stand out from each players collegiate tale of the tape are the fact that Kizer played two seasons in college (Notre Dame); while Osweiler played three (Arizona State), and Cody Kessler played 4 (Southern California). That abundance of  experience could have been one of the reasons Cody Kessler surprised folks at the NFL level and in the sport of football repetition is the greatest learning tool. Not only did Kessler get the most collegiate reps, which served a major role in his development. Kessler also threw 10,339 passing yards at USC compared to Osweilers 5,082 and Kizer’s 5,805. So it’s obvious DeShone Kizer has a lot of work to do to out shine the other guys on the Browns roster and while we all think it will come to down to Osweiler and Kizer. The starting quarterback job might actually be Cody Kessler’s when it’s all said and done. Kizer clearly has the ideal quarterback size for the National Football League but if he can’t throw with the precision that Cody Kessler does than Hue Jackson will definitely give Kessler the nod once week 1 rolls around. Now the one feather in DeShone Kizer’s hat (besides his size) is the fact that Kizer is a tremendous mobile quarterback. Kizer rushed for 18 rushing touchdowns in two seasons and that’s another weapon that could utilized by the Browns offense. Hue Jackson will know how to design plays to enhance Kizer’s skill set and if there is a little Cam Newton esque style in Kizer’s play that could be the difference maker for the rookie quarterback. Now you’d think that Kizer needs a couple of years of polish before eventually starting in the pros but the Browns took him in the 2nd round and they expect him to play at some point. If DeShone Kizer has been doing his part and getting himself in the best shape possible, he will certainly have a shot to compete for the starting job from the get go. It won’t be any easy feat to achieve but Dak Prescott was able to make us a believer just a season ago. We will see if DeShone Kizer can do the same?

Charity of the day: JDRF International

Go donate! www.jdrf.org

Jay Cutler decides to join the Fox broadcasting team, retires from pro football:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Colin Kapernick isn’t the only person who is suffering from negative rapport in the National Football League. Today Jay Cutler announced he is retiring from pro football and this is because no team gave Cutler a chance to be their starting quarterback. Cutler could have easily started for the Jets or 49ers but neither of those teams extended an offer to Cutler and now the veteran quarterback will retire at the age of 34 years old. Life after football starts August 27th for Jay Cutler, Cutler will join Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis covering a Titans and Bears preseason game. That will be the first time we get to see what Cutler has to offer as a broadcaster and the now retired quarterback has stated that the move is indeed permanent. The good news for Cutler is he gets to walk away from the sport with no major injuries but Cutler did also state they he will miss the game come training camp time. Jay Cutler has been playing football since he was a little kid and it’s definitely a transition when you have to move on from a passion that’s helped shape your entire life. Cutler has a chance to win over some of the NFL fan base that started to resent him in his career as a broadcaster. This is a huge opportunity for Jay Cutler because we will finally gain some insight on who he truly is a person. There’s no faking it when the camera and microphone is on and it will be interesting to see who handles the transfer to the booth better Tony Romo or Jay Cutler? With that being said it is a little bit sad that Cutler couldn’t continue to play. He still had some good years left in him but there is no doubt the NFL is choosing their favorites right now and unfortunately that has come at Jay Cutler’s expense. Regardless though endzoneblog.com wishes him the best in the next chapter of his life and overall Jay Cutler’s playing career was a success.

Charity of the day: JDRF International

Go donate! www.jdrf.org

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