Jamie Collins is a key piece to the New England Patriots defense:

Photo credit: Elsa / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots got a talented player when they drafted Jamie Collins in the 2nd round of the 2013 Draft. Collins who played college football at Southern Miss was a tremendous athlete running a 4.64 40 yard dash and bench pressing 225 pounds 19 times. That athletic ability translated over well to the professional level and Colliins has been a staple of Bill Belichick’s defense since coming into the league. Collins finished the 2015 season with 89 tackles and 5 and a half sacks showing that he is a rare breed of outside linebacker. This is a player who has a knack for getting defensive pressure and he can also excel in any other responsibility asked of him by the Patriots. When you plug in the film and watch Collins play you immediately begin to notice that he is always in the offensive backfield. The other thing that stands out is Collins has a motor that never slows down. On numerous plays he would try to run down the quarterback miss and then get back up and then run down the quarterback. It’s that kind of effort that stands out to a coaching staff and the Patriots have to be thrilled with Collins’s development entering his fourth season. Now with more polish than ever Collins could easily be a 8-10 sack a season guy. That would be great production for New England moving forward and keep an eye on this guy if you love defensive playmakers. Colllins is that good and he only seems to be getting better. He will need to be at his best to replace departed Patriots standout Chandler Jones. 10 sacks a year would go a long way in minimizing the loss of Jones and it’s players like Collins that made Belichick comfortable trading Jones in the first place. So Collins is clearly a key piece to the Patriots defensive puzzle and this guy should be a good player for a very long time.

Charity of the day: National Wildlife Federation

Go donate! www.nwf.org

The league comes down on Johnny Manziel and Rolando McClain:

Photo credit: Joe Robbins

Author: Jon Kuzma

The news around the NFL today consisted of suspensions that were handed out by the league office today. Those suspensions went to troubled NFL free agent Johnny Manziel and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain. Manziel who has had his share of off the field troubles will be suspended his first four games of the 2016 season if he does find a team. The penalty doesn’t roll over which means regardless if he finds a team or not Manziel will be eligible to play after the first four games of the 2016 season. That means October 6th is the day that we could potentially see Johnny Manzeil on a football field but we all know he has a long way to go as a person before we see that happen. It will be a long shot for Manziel to turn it around but if he puts all of his focus towards that goal it’s not unachievable. The first step of the process though is deciding how much he truly loves football? If it is really his passion he will do the right thing and put football first. For Rolando McClain it will be a 10 game suspension and this is his second substance abuse policy. This is bad news for the Cowboys because McClain was resurrected in his stint with the Dallas. After being out of football in 2013 McClain managed to record back to back seasons with at least  80 tackles for the Cowboys. Now McClain gets his second strike against him when it comes to the abuse policy which means if he has another setback it could results in a year long suspension from the league. So McClain finds himself on thin ice and can’t afford to have anymore mishaps on his end moving forward. Finally Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jet was also suspended as well. Richardson’s suspension is only for a game and was the result of Richardson speeding. It was said Richards was traveling 145 miles per hour in St. Louis in an incident that involved the police. Those actions will cost Richardson a game when it’s all said and done.

Charity of the day: National Wildlife Federation

Go donate! www.nwf.org

Reshad Jones was as good as anyone last season for the Dolphins:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Reshad Jones is a unique talent on the backend of the Miami Dolphins defense. Jones who plays strong safety in the Dolphins defensive scheme recorded 135 tackles, 2 sacks, and 5 interceptions in 2015. Anytime you have a safety recording 100 tackles a year you know that safety is an instinctive player. That is exactly what Reshad Jones has grown into and now he is the standard of the safety position. Talent wise Jones is in the elite class with guys like Reggie Nelson, and TJ Ward both players who dominate in the secondary for their teams. The Dolphins got a steal when they landed this guy in the 5th round of the 2010 Draft and now Jones is a key piece of this team moving forward. That is good news since this guy has a knack for making big time plays for Miami and new Head Coach Adam Gase will need that if he wants to get off to a good start. Gase is an offensive minded coach but defense will be the key to getting this team some w’s in the win column. Jones provides plenty of defense for the Dolphins and it’s hard not to root for him because he is a world class competitor who works extremely hard. That is why Reshad Jones was able to go to his first Pro Bowl last year and the future looks bright for number 20. Now entering his 7th season he will look to continue right where he left in 2015 which is by being a great 2 way safety. He can play the run with a 100 tackles a year or he can play the pass with 5 interceptions a year. So really either way Reshad Jones is going to make you pay. The Dolphins have a tremendous player in the former Georgia Bulldog.

Charity of the day: American Brain Tumor Association

Go donate! www.abta.org

Andrew Luck becomes the highest paid player in NFL history:

Photo credit: Andy Lyons

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Indianapolis Colts knew they had to pay their quarterback and they knew they had to pay him a lot. Colts owner Jim Irsay chose to look past the paycheck amount and made the right decision to bring his best player back for the long haul. Andrew Luck signed a 6 year $140 million dollar contract today and that contract is the largest amount in NFL history. Luck was exceptional over his first 3 seasons of his career making the playoff in each of those seasons. However Luck struggled in his fourth season (last year) and was eventually sidelined by injury for the remainder of the year. The Colts front office ignored that one down year and decided to go forward with the contract because Luck gives them their best chance to succeed. Luck has thrown for 14,838 yards and 101 touchdown entering his 5th season and is player that is capable of playing at a high level for a very long time to come. When you have a quarterback that is as young and talented as Andrew Luck is, you have to be reluctant to let him walk away. The Colts truthfully would be a very bad football team without Andrew Luck and it would take a long time to find the next guy with similar potential to Luck. That made the decision a no brainer for Jim Irsay and now we will see Luck in a Colts uniform to at least 2021. One thing to take away from all of this is the growth in players revenue. Joe Montana became the first player to make $4 million annually in 1990. Fast forward to 2016 and Andrew Luck will make $24.6 million dollars a year. Part of that is because of the growth that the National Football League has seen as a whole. The other part of that is because inflation has taken place and any dollar amount in 1990 is about 40% greater in 2016. At the end of the day you have to be happy for Luck  because he has lived up to expectations since being hyped as one of the next great quarterbacks. He truly is a big time player and now he is getting a big time pay day.

Charity of the day: American Brain Tumor Association

Go donate! www.abta.org

Doug Baldwin inks a four year $46 million dollar contract extension:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks knew they had a special player in Doug Baldwin and the team made sure he is apart of their long term plan. Seattle signed the sixth year receiver to a contract that will pay him $46 million dollars and that deal will keep Baldwin in a Seahawks uniform until at least 2020. Baldwin had a great year in 2015 finishing with 14 touchdown catches and Seattle couldn’t risk losing Baldwin anytime soon. That is why this deal got finalized and the Seahawks get a big piece of their puzzle taken care of contract wise. The Seahawks have seen some big names leave the team over the last two seasons and it was imperative they retained their top wide receiver. This deal will allow Russell Wilson to continue to develop rapport with Baldwin and the two cold get even better with time. Especially if Baldwin continues to progress at the rate that he has recently. Baldwin who was undrafted 5 years ago is making great strides and this is a player who has shown he can make a big time play. That was evident in the playoffs when he high pointed a throw over the middle against the Vikings in the playoffs. On that particular play you got to see just how athletic Doug Baldwin truly is. He is a player that gives maximum effort on every play and eventually the Seahawks realized Doug Baldwin is the real deal. Now Seattle is hoping Baldwin can lead the team back to the postseason. If he continues to play at a high level he could have a tremendous impact on those chances. It all comes down to Baldwin going out there and making plays week in and week out. Something he has shown he is very capable of doing.

Charity of the day: Arbor Day Foundation

Go donate! www.arborday.org

Buddy Ryan passes away at age 82:

Photo credit: Focus on Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

One of the greatest defensive minds to ever coach the game of football Buddy Ryan passed away today. Ryan who is the father of Rex and Rob Ryan coached for several NFL teams including the Bears, Vikings, Cardinals, Eagles, and Oilers. Ryan was the architect of the 1985 Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears defense. During his stint with the Bears Ryan dominated opposing offenses with his dreaded 4-4 defense. That particular style of defense allowed coach Ryan to bring a variety of different blitzes at team’s quarterbacks. Which resulted in a whole lot of sacks for Chicago. That defense is often regarded as the greatest defense to ever play in the National Football League and that is the caliber of coach Buddy Ryan truly was. Part of that success stemmed from Ryan’s character and temperament. Buddy Ryan was always brutally honest and at times very confrontational. His ability to leave nothing unsaid while coaching often caused friction between him and other members of the coaching staff. It has been said that Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan had to be separated by players during more than a few halftime meetings. Not to mention Buddy Ryan threw a punch at offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride because the two had a disagreement over coaching philosophy while with the Oilers. That burning passion is what made Buddy Ryan a 2 time Super Bowl Champion and you have to feel for Rex and Rob right now. Both coaches who now are employed for the Buffalo Bills have to lay to rest their father, a guy who clearly had a significant impact on their lives. It’s a sad day for the Ryan family but they have to be proud of everything their father accomplished and that he will finally be at peace. Buddy Ryan was born in 1934 he leaves us today in 2016.

Charity of the day: Arbor Day Foundation

Go donate! www.arborday.org

Eli Manning can’t wait to get back to the playoffs:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Giants haven’t been to the postseason since 2011 and Eli Manning is hoping that will change soon. The Giants starting quarterback stated “I’m looking forward to getting back to the playoffs” recently to the media. The statement confirms that Manning believes the Giants are ready to compete talent wise and now the team must go out and execute when the season rolls around. Manning will continue to be the focal point of the Giants offense like he has been since 2004 and this is a player who hasn’t lost a step production wise. Manning threw back to back 30 touchdown seasons the last two years and the Giants drafted Sterling Shepard to help boost those efforts. When you factor in that Odell Beckham Jr. will also have another year of experience under his belt as well you begin to see why this offensive unit is starting to shape up. All of those pieces are in place to help Manning succeed and now number 10 has to go out there and play his best football. He will have to do that while the team makes the transition under first year head coach Ben McAdoo. McAdoo served as the teams offensive coordinator in the past but the team will still have to adjust to McAdoo’s tendencies and philosophies as head coach. Those characteristics set a precedent for the team and go a long way in the team’s motivation. If McAdoo is on and responds well to the pressure that comes with coaching the Giants will get a boost. If he struggles then the team will struggle as well because the coach has a direct correlation on the team’s performance. So the Giants are hoping that Ben McAdoo can be that guy and they are hoping Eli Manning can lead to prosperity. It also should be stated that the Giants brought in a few big time defenders (Vernon, Jenkins) to increase their playoff chances so maybe Manning will get his wish sooner than later. It won’t be easy in the tough NFC East but anything is possible and Eli Manning will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Charity of the day: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Go donate! www.christopherreeve.org

Andrew Luck could be a Comeback Player of the Year candidate in 2016:

Photo credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Indianapolis Colts had a huge setback last year when they lost Andrew Luck for the season with a lacerated kidney. While Luck was struggling before the injury took place, losing their starting quarterback really set the team back and the Colts will certainly get a boost from having number 12 back on the field. Luck is the focal point of the Colts offense and things don’t click when he isn’t the one wheeling and dealing for this team. Luck has the ability to elevate his teammates because he plays the most important position on the field. Even though the Colts talent level as a team is down, Luck can propel the Colts to victory because he is a world class competitor and the position he plays can have a tremendous impact. Those efforts will be key in the Colts quest to reclaim the AFC South and they will have some stiff competition along the way. The Jaguars and Texans have greatly improved but if Andrew Luck can come out and play his best football the Colts will always have a chance. Right now it’s about Indianapolis’s front office and adding talent to the Colts roster. If they can do that then they easily could get back to being a force in this division and making postseason runs. This year might not be the year they get back to that because the Colts are looking like the 3rd best team in the division at best. However they have the right foundation in place with Luck, it’s just about adding players at the other 21 starting positions now. If Luck does come back and play at a high level he’ll likely be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year. That would be good momentum for the Colts in 2016 and that would really set the Colts up to be back in the mix in 2017.

Charity of the day: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Go donate! www.christopherreeve.org

DeMarcus Ware is still an elite pass rusher entering his 12th season:

Photo credit: John Leyba / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos were able to win the Super Bowl last year because they had the best defense in the league. DeMarcus Ware was one of the leaders of that defense and now the 33 year old defensive end will look to continue playing at a high level. Ware is entering his 12th season of professional football and still is quite the physical specimen. This is a 6 foot 4 258 pound player who has a motor that never stops. Ware is such a relentless force that he physically imposes his will on opposing offenses and eventually teams begin to breakdown. When you factor in that the Denver Broncos also have Von Miller on that defense you begin to see why this team brought home the Lombardi Trophy last season. Ware statically had a pretty good year last year recording 7.5 sacks during the regular season. Then Demarcus Ware recorded 3.5 sacks during the Broncos postseason run. That ability to rise to the occasion when the pressure is on is just another testament of what kind of player Ware truly is. It takes a special kind of talent to shine on the biggest stages and Ware gave Cam Newton fits in the Super Bowl. The Broncos had high expectations when they lured Ware away from Dallas but looking back you’d have to think DeMarcus Ware shattered those expectations. He brought the Denver Broncos their 3rd World Championship and the team couldn’t have done it without their savvy veteran pass rusher. Now a year later Ware will continue to mentor the younger players and will looks to set the tone once again entering 2016. Don’t be surprised if DeMarcus Ware overcomes all odds and sets the bar high again. He is still a complete football player and pivotal piece to the Broncos defensive front.

Charity of the day: Conservation International Foundation

Charity of the day: www.conservation.org

Patrick Peterson is looking to bounce back after his worst year statistically:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Every football fan knows Patrick Peterson is one of the best corners in the National Football League. The Arizona Cardinals defensive back is entering his 6th season in the league and has done nothing but impress during his time as a professional football player. In 2015 though Peterson had a rare off year and recorded his worst season statically as pro. Peterson saw his interception total drop to 2 for the year and he only recorded 35 total tackles. Now those stats could be a results of teams choosing not to throw at Peterson. When you are an elite level corner teams don’t want to try you very often. The other thing that must be noted about Peterson’s stat decline is the fact that he didn’t play in 2 games last year. So the key for Peterson is first and foremost staying on the field. Then being able to optimize his skills as a player to yield the best results. You do that by putting in the work during the off-season and by polishing your skills in training camp. One big thing slowing Peterson down is the fact that a couple of years ago he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. After finally getting that under control Peterson has a chance to get back to being the player he once was. That is the best news for the Cardinals and give credit to Bruce Arians and the coaching staff for staying positive with what Peterson was going through. When you have a player that talented facing a situation like Peterson was facing, support is the best thing you can offer that player and that is exactly what Peterson received. Now it’s time for Peterson to step up have another big year and help this team get back to the Super Bowl. If Patrick Peterson is playing at a high level it’s very possible the Cardinals could do so.

Charity of the day: Conservation International Foundation

Charity of the day: www.conservation.org

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