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:

Photo credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport

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:

Photo credit: Alex Goodlett / Getty Images Sport

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

New Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson is everything Chip Kelly isn’t:

Photo credit: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Philadelphia Eagles will have a new face roaming the sideline when the season rolls around. That new face will be Head Coach Doug Pederson. Pederson who was formerly the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs brings the exact opposite approach that Chip Kelly brought last year. Pederson is much more conventional than Kelly and it seems like the Eagles players see that as a relief. Kelly put emphasis on tempo and excelling within the specific shotgun formation system he built. While coach Pederson tends to spend more time under center, and has a time of possession offense. That change in philosophy will have a huge impact for the Eagles because now their defense can get longer rests. The offense is going to huddle under Pederson, and they are going to trust their running game. That means the Eagles offense will have less 3 and outs which is something the team needed to improve in. They had 45 3 and out possessions in 2015 and the defense is on the field too long when that happens. The other noticeable thing about Doug Pederson is he seems like a much more outgoing person than Chip Kelly is. Pederson is more upbeat with his players and that seems to be having a positive impact on the team. After going 7-9 last season the environment around the team seems to be a little more laid back and we will see if that translates into more wins in 2016. Pederson has a very professional approach and the Eagles are clearly moving away from the college approach. So there are a number of factors that could help trigger positive results for Philly and now it’s about adding as much talent as they can to the roster. That way their new head coach will have the best chance for success and things can end better than they did under their last head coach.

Charity of the day: Entertainment Industry Foundation

Go donate! www.eifoundation.org

Julius Peppers is 36 years old and still playing at a high level:

Photo credit: Al Bello

Author: Jon Kuzma

If you’ve been a football fan for an extended period of time you likely heard of the name Julius Peppers. Peppers at one point was the best defensive end in the National Football League and since then he never really slowed down. Last year alone Peppers had 10 and a half sacks and this is a player who easily could come out and have 10 sacks in 2016 as well. The last time Julius Peppers had less than 5 sacks in a season was back in 2007 when he had 2 and half, but truthfully this guy is about as guaranteed as it gets when it comes to producing. That is why the Green Bay Packers were so adamant about adding him to their roster and they’ve sure got their money’s worth on the field. When you can add a guy to your defense who has 136 career sacks, it certainly is going to improve things for you defensively and Peppers has worked out really nice for the Packers up there in Green Bay Wisconsin. Age doesn’t seem to be a factor for Peppers. He still gets off the ball with great explosion, he is a smart player as well. Meaning he can come down the line and stuff runs in the backfield or he drop in coverage and intercept passes as well. Peppers has 11 career interceptions and he also has 4 career defensive touchdowns. So truthfully this is a dynamic player and he can provide huge returns for the Packers in many different forms. When you have a player on defense that can make plays and turn them into touchdowns for his team defensively. You have a player who is of high caliber and Julius Peppers has certainly been that guy for a very long time. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Charity of the day: Entertainment Industry Foundation

Go donate! www.eifoundation.org

 

It’s time for Dorial Green Beckham to rise to the occasion for the Titans:

Photo credit: Wesley Hitt / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tennessee Titans expected to get a big time receiver when they drafted Dorial Green Beckham in the 2nd round of the 2015 Draft. Green Beckham was a stand out receiver at the University of Missouri before he was dismissed from the team. While the dismissal might have been a red flag for some teams the Titans decided to look past that. Tennessee instead saw a 6 foot 5 237 pound playmaker who could be a huge boost to Marcus Mariota in the passing game. Since being drafted Dorial Green Beckham has slightly underachieve however. While Green Beckham didn’t have a bad rookie year at all recording 549 yards and 4 touchdown receptions. It’s recently been announced that Tajae Sharpe a 5th round draft pick out of Massachusetts has passed him on the depth chart. Green Beckham will still be on the field for 3 and 4 receiver offensive sets but this is a guy who the Titans expected to be their number 1 receiving option. Head Coach Mike Mularkey seems to be reluctant to fully praise Green Beckahm as well so that also could be indicator of what the front office and coaching staff is thinking about this this guy. So it’s clear the pressure is rising on DGB and he really needs to elevate himself to prove the Titans investment of a 2nd round pick on him. In order to live up to expectations Green Beckham will need to at least seize one of the starting receiver spots and he will also need to be around the 800 yards receiving mark. That would show enough promise for the Titans to feel comfortable with Green Beckham’s progression and it will keep the team happier when it comes time for Green Beckham to sign another contract at the end of 2018. The best leverage a player can have is the team in his corner and that is why the next 3 seasons DGB has to win the team over and show he capable of being a big time player in this league. Keep an eye on whether or not he can make it happen.

Charity of the day: Accion International

Go donate! www.accion.org

Justin Houston is still a premier pass rusher in the National Football League:

Photo credit: AAron Ontiveroz / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the surprise teams last year in the NFL and that is because they had the 7th overall defense in terms of least yards surrendered. A big piece of that defensive effort is Chiefs stand out linebacker Justin Houston. Houston only played in 9 regular season football games last year and he still managed to come away with 7 and a half sacks.This guy is as fierce as anyone rushing off the edge of the defense and he is still getting it done entering his 6th season of action. That is great news for Andy Reid and the Chiefs because they need Houston playing at his best in order to make a Super Bowl run. Houston has 56 sacks over his 5 seasons of professional action and is a rare combination of speed and maximum effort. He can beat offensive tackles by speed rushing around the edge or he can quickly swim under a lineman on a direct path to the quarterback. What impresses you on film is his explosiveness out of his stance when the ball is snapped. Houston also has a tenacity about him and when you combine that with a motor that never stops. You get a pretty special football player and one of the marquee pass rushers in this league. That is why the Kansas City Chiefs pay Justin Houston $16 million dollars per year and now the Chiefs have the AFC West championship on their mind. A lot of people are praising the Raiders right now but don’t forget about the Chiefs. They were exceptional last season and they are going to get Jamaal Charles back in the mix which could be a huge boost for this team. When you add in Justin Houston and another year of Marcus Peters. You begin to see why the Chiefs are a serious contender not only in the AFC but the entire league.

Charity of the day: Veterans Support Organization

Go donate! www.theveteranssupport.org

It’s hard to believe Darrelle Revis is entering his 10th season of action:

Photo credit: Al Pereira / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Darrelle Revis is about elite as it gets when it comes to the cornerback position. Revis has been getting it done in the National Football League for such a long time that you almost forget that he is entering his 10th season of action. With Revis terrorizing offenses for nearly a decade it’s important to look at the things that made him such an exceptional player in this league. Revis can be physical at the line, and does a great job rerouting wide receivers. By doing this Revis can tilt the one on one battle in his favor and he does a tremendous job of undercutting short routes. Revis can also lay a big hit while playing cover 2 in the flats. That provides great momentum for the team and also strikes fear in opposing receivers. Now guys are worried about taking the big hit and winding up on Sportscenter instead of catching the football. Finally Revis is very good at jump ball situations. He can high point the football and make a play or he can wait and defend the pass at the last moment. The combination of all of those skills helped him become one of the best corners of all time and this guy has made a fortune off playing defense in the game of football. Now coming off a good year last season where Revis recorded 5 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries. We have a player at 30 years old who is showing no signs of slowing down. That is such a big feat considering Darrelle Revis plays defensive back which is one of the toughest positions to play in all of sports. The athleticism it takes to play that position is unbelievable and Darrelle Revis has really made it look easy, for a very long time.

Charity of the day: Veterans Support Organization

Go donate! www.theveteranssupport.org

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