Brandon Marshall flourished on all levels in 2015:

Photo credit: Jerome Davis / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Brandon Marshall was once a player that some teams considered too much to handle. That was evident when the Broncos, Dolphins, and Bears all traded him way. Looking back at the production Marshall had in 2015 and how well he also handled himself off the field. It’s hard to think that any team would ever want to get rid of him. Marshall not only caught 1,502 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns for the Jets. He also did an outstanding job with Inside the NFL, a television show that Marshall co-hosts during the season. That opportunity could of easily turned into a distraction for Marshall on the football field. However the exact opposite happened, instead Marshall has had to be more responsible with the show and living up to the expectations of a pro athlete. When you also factor in that he has matured as a person as well. You can really see the growth that has taken place in Brandon Marshall’s life. The New York Jets have to be very happy about that. They took a risk when they traded for the 6 time Pro Bowler and that risk ultimately ended up paying off. If the team can retain Ryan Fitzpatrick which they likely will, this team has all the makings of a playoff team. If they could of knocked off the Buffalo Bills one time in 2015 they most likely would of got there. Yet you can’t complain about a 10-6 record if you’re owner Woody Johnson. The team really struggled during the end of the Rex Ryan era and Bowles first year showed a whole lot of promise. It was moves like landing Brandon Marshall and landing Ryan Fitzpatrick that gave this team the chance to succeed in 2015. In 2016 it will be up to the same guys to push the envelope even further and get back to the playoffs. Marshall puts fans in the stands and he also produces touchdowns consistently for this offense. It’s safe to say Marshall has the Jets flying higher than they’ve been in awhile.

Charity of the day: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Go donate! https://www.cff.org

Running wild: How Elliott and Henry will stack up against the pros?

Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Ezekiel Elliot and Derrick Henry were two of the best running backs in the nation at the collegiate level last fall. Now with the draft looming in April both backs will look to successfully transition to the pro ranks. Henry was the Heisman winner last year and played on the National Championship winning Alabama Crimson Tide. Henry was flat out amazing last year on the football field, and he was a big part of why Bama was able to take down Clemson on the big stage. Henry Rushed for 158 yards and 3 touchdowns in that match up. Showing that no matter how high the stakes are, he can still have success. What stands out most about Henry is his overwhelming size and his ability to be a physically dominant down hill runner. Henry is a load to handle for any defense and now he will put NFL defenses to the test. Elliott is a little bit different style of running back. He has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field, he also has big play capability and can score every time he touches the ball. Elliott was a key piece to the Buckeyes National Championship victory in 2014. He very well could be a player that comes in and has an immediate impact for a team in the National Football League. Many times watching Ohio State Buckeyes’ games you felt like Ezekiel Elliott was the best player on the field for that team. If he can take the discipline side of being a pro athlete well and really prepares his body to be in top form. He easily could come out and have an impact for a team that was on par with how Todd Gurley did this year for the Rams. With the combine taking place right now it should be noted that Henry ran a 4.54 40 yard dash, while Elliott ran a 4.47. Both players looked good athletically at the event. It should also be noted that Henry jumped an impressive 37 inches on the vertical jump. While Elliott jumped 32.5 inches. That leg power might be the deciding factor for Henry and whether or not he has success in the National Football League. It would be a safe bet to say he will.

Charity of the day: Global Hunger Project

Go donate! www.thp.org

The Packers need to get over that playoff hump before the window closes:

Photo credit: Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Green Bay Packers have had a team worthy of making it to the postseason for the last seven seasons. The last time the Packers didn’t make it to the playoffs was back in 2008 when the team finished 6-10. With the Packers losing in the conference championship in overtime last year against the Seahawks and losing to the Cardinals in overtime in the divisional round this year. You have to wonder what the Packers are going to do to get over that playoff hump. The recipe for success still seems to go defensive and just put the best defensive product you can on the field. Like the Packers chose to do last year when they drafted Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the first two rounds. Both Randall and Rollins are defensive backs expected to contribute significantly to Green Bay’s future. If the team can get better against the run in the offseason that would help take this team take it too that next level defensively. Whether that be adding an inside linebacker that can take care of all the inside running game or adding a nose tackle that can take up both a gaps remains to be the question? It seems like an inside backer would be a better fit for the Packers because the team wants to play Matthews exclusively on the outside moving forward. Obviously landing a guy like Jaylon Smith out of Notre Dame or Reggie Ragland out of Alabama would be a dream come true. The team should also take a look at Scooby Wright out of Arizona and Kentrell Brothers out of Missouri. Outside of that maybe landing a nose tackle to eventually replace Raji would be an option for this team. It’s always good to be younger on the defensive front and the Packers need to start dominating the line scrimmage defensively to win that big game deep in the playoffs. As far as offense goes, it’s clear this team has to learn how to protect the quarterback. Rodgers at one point was being absolutely demolished by opposing defenses so expect the team to add a couple of free agents or draft picks to protect the former league MVP. The team will also get a big boost from having Jordy Nelson back and with all of these moves being made. The team might be able to get back to the Super Bowl. Still like any other team it won’t be easy and it will take a little bit of luck as well.

Charity of the day: Breast Cancer Society

Go donate! www.breastcancersociety.org

Big Apple Mindset: Addressing life post Tom Coughlin

Photo credit: Jim Mcisaac / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Giants have turned the page on the Tom Coughlin era. The former Giants head coach did an outstanding job of bringing two Super Bowls back to NYC, however it became alarmingly clear that those days were in the past. Coughlin’s ways were starting to wear thin on the new school generations coming up in the league and moving forward was most likely a good move for this team in terms of that perspective. Still it’s hard to argue with Coughlin’s success, the guy will end up being a Hall of Fame coach someday and it won’t be easy to replace those efforts. Luckily the Giants didn’t change away from that Coughlin mindset too much due to the fact the team decided to hire within. The choosing of a candidate (Ben McAdoo) who was groomed under Coughling means that a lot of those Coughlin tendencies and philosophies will still be in effect. One noticeable change that McAdoo is bringing to the team is the team will no longer practice on Mondays. Most teams practice on Monday and then give the team Tuesday off. McAdoo will give his player Monday off and then have them back on Tuesday. The goal is to allow his player more time to rest which he hopes will cut down on injury recovery time. Coughlin believed having his players there on Monday set the tone for the week, but with the NFL being a league that is so drastically changed by injuries. You have to wonder whether or not McAdoo has a good idea there. It appears he does and that is just one of the changes the new Head Coach has made. Other than that the team will look to address it’s struggling defense. The Giants finished dead last in yards surrendered defensively. Allowing a horrible 420 yards per game to opposing offenses. In order for the Giants to get back on track McAdoo must go against what he knows (he was an Offensive Coordinator) and address the defensive side of the ball. It’s no secret defense wins championships and the Giants need to get back to having 11 helmets on the football every play. If these necessary adjustments can be made in the offseason we should see a positive change for the better for that blue New York team. Regardless it will be interesting to watch as the team transitions under McAdoo’s new leadership.

Charity of the day: Breast Cancer Society

Go donate! www.breastcancersociety.org

Greg Hardy unlikely to return to the Dallas Cowboys:

Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Greg Hardy is very unlikely to return to the Dallas Cowboys. After one season with the team and several questionable incidents, the team has decided that moving on would be in the teams best interest. When head coach Jason Garrett was asked about Greg Hardy’s status at the combine Garrett was straight forward. “He’s a free agent” Garrett said, hinting that the players time with the Cowboys had come to an end. While this is a big statement from the head coach in terms of Hardy’s status with the team, it doesn’t come as any surprise. Hardy was a problem child all season long for the Cowboys and his impact was more felt in the rift he was causing with the team. Rather than on opposing quarterbacks like the Cowboys had hoped when they signed the former Panthers pass rusher. Hardy showed questionable character time and time again with the Cowboys and the incident that sticks out the most is when he got in an argument with the team’s special teams coordinator. That insubordination is something that sets a bad precedent with the team and tarnished the teams culture throughout the season. When star players like Romo and Bryant go down, the team must work even harder from a leadership perspective to account for those losses. Hardy didn’t help the Cowboys enough in those desperate times and he even went as far as to set the team back. Even though Hardy did produce six sacks the Cowboys felt that his off the field attitude and mentality outweighed that production on the field. It’s hard to win football games when the team is divided and Hardy was a distraction for everyone else in that locker room. He even was a distraction to coaches such as Rich Bisaccia who was out there trying to execute the game plan for the team. The Cowboys made the right move by choosing to move on from Hardy. Until this guy learns how to keep his emotions in check and until he learns how to be a team player. He shouldn’t be on an NFL sideline.

Charity of the day: World Food Program USA

Go donate! wfpusa.org

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:

Photo credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport

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

Photo credit: Rob Foldy / Getty Images Sport

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:

Photo credit: George Gojkovich / Getty Images Sport

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:

Photo credit: Leon Halip / Getty Images Sport

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

1 110 111 112 113 114 158