The Seattle Seahawks will have some tough decisions this offseason:

Photo credit: Ronald C. Modra / Sports Imagery

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks had a great three year run which seen the team advance to two Super Bowls and an NFC divisional game. It’s clear the Seahawks are one of the premier teams in the league and with the right moves moving forward. They could easily be back in the hunt to win a Super Bowl again. In order for that to be achieved some tough decisions are going to have to be made regarding the Seahawks personnel. First and foremost the team has to figure out what they are going to do with Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was banged up for most of the 2015 season and with the emergence of Thomas Rawls he might be expendable. Lynch has been leaning towards retirement for the past two off-seasons and at this point maybe it’s better to cut ties with Lynch to avoid chemistry issues in the future. It will be hard for Lynch to take a backseat role to Rawls, and with Rawls’ youth and production he might be a better option. There has been rumors about Lynch signing with the Patriots if he is released from the Seahawks but at this time those are just rumors. We’ll have to wait and see how everything pans out. Other moves will have to be made specifically regarding Bruce Irvin. Irvin is entering his 5th season of NFL action and is a good player for this Seahawks defense. He usually contributes between 5 and 8 sacks annually to the Hawks pass rush and might be a player they want to retain moving into the future. Irvin expressed his interest to play for the Atlanta Falcons halfway through the season via Twitter. However there have been reports lately that he is excited to stay in Seattle. These two moves will change the landscape of Seattle’s roster and it’s important that they get it right. Keep an eye on both situations.

Charity of the day: National 4-H Council

Go donate! www.4-H.org

Julio Jones emerged into the player we all thought he would be:

Photo credit: Kent Nishimura / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

When you seen Julio Jones play at the University of Alabama you seen an athlete that was far superior to the competition. At the time though you could still tell the kid (Julio) still had to grow into his body a little bit and develop that coordination of how to use his body. Well it’s clear Julio Jones has finely reached that time where he understands how to beat defenders better than anybody in the world right now. The only player at the moment that can compete with the level that Jones is playing at is Antonio Brown. However Jones was first in receiving yards in the entire league this year. Making it clear that Jones deserves the nod as the true receiving champion for the 2015 season. Brown won that achievement last year and finished second this year. Until he can knock off Jones though, Jones has to be referred to as the best. Jones recorded 1,871 yards and returned every little bit of the investment the Atlanta Falcons gave up for him. If you don’t remember what the Falcons gave up to get Jones it was a whole lot. In fact the Falcons gave the Cleveland Browns 5 draft picks just to move up and get their guy who at the time was Jones coming out of Alabama. After the Falcons selected him Jones responded with 3 1,000 yard receiving seasons in his first 5 years. The biggest impact Jones has made was in the last two years though. In the last two season Jones has hauled in 240 receptions and 3,464 receiving yards. Proving that he someday could fill the shoes as Atlanta’s number 1 receiver, and be marquee player in the league. Now entering his 6th year Jones seems poised to flat out dominate. He is bigger faster and stronger than most other receivers in the league and a true match up problem for defensive backs. The Falcons will look to add weapons around Jones to help relieve some of the pressure he sees from double teams. Still expect teams to do everything they can to game plan against this guy. He is just that good and his impact will always be felt.

Charity of the day: National 4-H Council

Go donate! www.4-H.org

Suh and Murray are prime examples of why money isn’t everything:

Photo credit: Darren McCollester / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

When Ndamukong Suh and Demarco Murray signed their new contracts last offseason with their new teams (Dolphins, Eagles) everything was supposed to all sunshine and smiles. Suh had just inked a 6 year 114 million dollar contract and would be moving from the struggling economic region of Detroit. To beautiful southern Florida, where he had the financial backing to do basically anything he wanted. Demarco Murray was in a similar situation when he decided to spurn the Cowboys in free agency for a huge payday with the Philadelphia Eagles. Murray collected a 5 year 40 million dollar contract to be the top tier running back in Chip Kelly’s scheme and all was supposed to be fine and dandy in Philly. Both moves seemed to be moves that were made with finances being the underline priority. Both of those circumstances then turned around and fell short of expectations. Since then Suh had a season where his coaches accused him of “free lancing”. Which means instead of following the coaches orders Suh decided to do on the field what he wanted to do, instead. Then there was rumors at the end of the year that the Dolphins wanted Suh to take a pay cut. That’s right just one year after offering Suh a 114 million dollar contract, the team was already thinking of ways of how to scale that contract back. While Suh’s 6 sack season in 2015 was a good year. The Dolphins paid for extraordinary production and extraordinary production is what the Dolphins expected to get. Extraordinary for Ndamukong Suh is around at least 10 sack a season like he had in 2010 in Detroit or even north of that number. It feels like Suh went the opposite route of JJ Watt who was in the weight room bright and early the very next day after inking his large contract. That is what the Dolphins wanted from Suh for that contract and they feel like they didn’t get the returns they wanted on that deal. As for Murray his situation didn’t go as planed either. After Murray was unhappy about his lack of carries and lack of production early on in the season. He went behind Chip Kelly’s back and complained to Eagles owner Jeff Lurie about how his situation was being handled. Had Murray stayed with the Cowboys and that outstanding offensive line. He very well might have been in the competition to be the league’s rushing champion again. Especially when you consider Romo went down and handing the ball off to Murray was a much more promising option than letting Brandon Weeden, or Matt Cassel throw the ball 40 times a game. There was even rumors at one point that Murray wanted out of Philadelphia to rejoin the Cowboys. It just goes to show that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There is another point here that needs to be acknowledged as well. While money certainly DOES talk. Diamonds can’t save your soul. Just look at these two cases and you’ll realize that.

Charity of the day: Habitat for Humanity International

Go donate! www.habitat.org

Raiders could have a winning season with a good offseason:

Photo credit: Peter G. Aiken

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Oakland Raiders are one good offseason from being able to have a winning season in the National Football League. They took care of their biggest problem when they drafted Derrick Carr and that was finding a direction for this team. With Carr at the helm the Raiders have a dynamic passer that can make all the big time throws at the pro level. He proved that by finishing the 2015 season with 32 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions. When you have a quarterback that is that effective for your football team everything gets a little bit easier. We seen the results first hand for the Raiders as they slowly have progressed under Carr’s command. He helped this team put up 7 wins in 2015 and while that would be a letdown for most teams, it was an improvement for the Raiders. It’s no secret the Raiders haven’t been to the postseason since 2002. When Rich Gannon was throwing the pigskin for Oakland. It’s been 14 years since the fans in California have been able to celebrate the Raiders as winners and legitimate contenders. So when you acknowledge that the Raiders could be north of .500 and potentially competing for a Super Bowl. You have to understand that this is a huge deal for this franchise. Getting there won’t be easy, the Chiefs are emerging and the Broncos have been a Super Bowl contender since John Elway started calling the shots. In order for the Raiders to be able to pass those two teams they will have to have a good draft and land a couple marquee free agents. First and foremost that defense seems to be lacking and needs to be addressed. The quickest way to improve a defense is to improve the defensive line. Adding a pass rusher that can pair up with Khalil Mack might be enough on the defensive side of the ball to give the Raiders a chance to compete week in and week out. Offensively they have enough weapons to score points, they should just look to add a few lineman in the middle rounds of the draft or score a free agent or two. Truthfully it feels like the defense should be addressed with the majority of the Raiders focus this offseason. You have enough big names on offense that will gel together over time. Now find some rushers and find a guy to replace Charles Woodson. If that happens the Raiders could find themselves in rare fortunes.

Charity of the day: National Park Foundation

Go donate! www.nationalparks.org

Kaepernick still doesn’t know what’s best for himself:

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Colin Kaepernick is believe it or not an exceptionally bright guy. He scored a 38 on his Wonderlic test entering the NFL. Which is a test that is used to assess incoming prospects intelligence. In 2013 that made Kapernick the 5th smartest player in all of the NFL. So when you see that Kaepernick is making statements in the media like “I don’t believe in throwing mechanics” you almost slap your head in disbelief. Abandoning the fundamentals and disciplines that have been developed over the 96 years of pro football time is an idiotic move. How did not believing in throwing mechanics pan out for Kaepernick? His lifetime career completion percentage is 59%. Meaning he has trouble consistently finding his receivers and moving the chains. In order for Kaepernick to get north of the 60% mark when it comes to throwing the football. He will have to immerse himself in the process of being an NFL quarterback daily. Which means studying throwing mechanics, working on his footwork and steps, also throwing more frequently in the off-season. He worked hard in the past to get in physical shape. This time he has to work hard to progress himself as a quarterback, oppose to training himself to be an athlete. The mindset of the quarterback position is something that takes years of experience to master. That is something Kaepernick has failed to develop over the 5 years of his career. Now with rumors coming out of San Francisco that he wants to leave town and would like to resume his career for the New York Jets. You have to wonder if by asking for all this it’s a sign of Kaepernick’s immaturity. It’s bold to ask for a release but to also call the shot of the next team you get to sign with is a little egotistical. The Jets leading wide receiver Brandon Marshall publicly stated he would prefer Ryan Fitzpatrick over Kaepernick. Which brings us to the next point. Wouldn’t Kaepernick want to stay with Chip Kelly and a coach who would optimize Kaepernick’s skill sets? Hiring Kelly was one of the best for Kaepernick’s future and how does a guy that is that intelligent not understand that? Kelly’s zone read system optimizes a mobile quarterback’s playmaking abilities. That seems to fall right in line with what made Kaepernick an effective player in his first successful NFL run. Getting back to that would be a smart move for Colin Kaepernick and he has to get back to being calculated in order for him to be successful in the National Football League.

Charity of the day: National Park Foundation

Go donate! www.nationalparks.org

Luke Kuechly could end up being the X-factor in the Super Bowl:

Photo credit: Scott Cunningham / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

With the Denver defense getting the recognition they clearly deserve throughout the season. You have to wonder what the Carolina defense is going to do to make an impact of their own. Sticking to the script would be the best option for the Panthers. Essentially that’s letting those front 4 defensive lineman rush the passer and letting those 3 linebackers scrape and make plays. That is the formula for success for the Panthers and all season long their defense has played sideline to sideline. One player has emerged as a star from these defense efforts and his name is Luke Kuechly. Since being drafted in the first round with the 9th overall pick. The former Boston College linebacker quickly made the transition to successful NFL linebacker. He did this by anchoring Ron Rivera’s defense and bringing a unique intensity to Carolina. Kuechly is a rare specimen of raw athletic talent and whip smart football instincts. That translated on the field to a player who can not only shut you down in the running game, but also a player that is coordinated enough to play the pass. Make interceptions and then return those interceptions all the way to the end zone for a Panthers score. When you have a defensive player that can intercept passes and score on that play. It adds a whole other dynamic to your football team because now you have the potential to score points even when the opposing team has the ball. That is what Kueckly brings to this Carolina defense and he has scored 3 defensive touchdowns in the postseason and regular season combined in 2015. The probability of a team winning when scoring a defensive touchdown shoots through the roof. With an aging Manning entering the Super Bowl for the Denver. That might ultimately spell disaster for the Broncos. Keep an eye on whether or not Kuechly is able to jump one of Manning’s passes. That play alone makes Kuechly the x-factor for the Panthers in the Super Bowl.

Charity of the day: Special Olympics

Go donate! www.specialolympics.org

Manziel: a fresh new start on the horizon?

Photo credit: Peter G. Aiken

Author: Jon Kuzma

Johnny Manziel days seems to be numbered in Cleveland. After another incident with his girlfriend that resulted in a criminal investigation and an NFL investigation the Browns have decided that on March 9th they will move on from the former first round draft pick out of Texas A.M. Manziel never really found his rhythm in Cleveland and believe it or not it almost feels like Manziel did this on purpose just to get out of the city that drafted him. While that is unlikely the case, it has to be stated that Manziel has some issues that he has to deal with. Sometimes that needs to be done not in rehab nor in counseling. Sometimes that has to be done by looking inside of ourselves and asking what kind of man do I want to be? Lets be honest it’s unfair to sit here and judge Manziel, we’ve all had points in our lives where we said and did things we weren’t proud of. However it’s getting hard to defend Manziel because he seems to be frequently investigated and on the verge of criminal charges. As a general manager you can look past the partying here and there. The players are young adults and naturally they are going to live it up a little bit. It’s hard to invest in a player as a quarterback and a key piece of your puzzle when you’re not sure if he is going to be in custody though. One key part of being an effective football player is not being incarcerated. You have to be free to step on the football field. Manziel is starting to look like he needs real help at this point. We defended him here at Endzoneblog early on in the season and still are a huge believer in Manziel. The run ins with the police have to stop though moving forward. The Dallas Cowboys will be a team that looks at Manziel this offseason. They have a track record of looking past player’s character as long as they can produce on the field. If Manziel can get himself back on track athletically and from a physical stand point. That will be a great opportunity for him to seize the moment and get his career back on track. If he keeps up his reckless abandon for authority, he might end up in jail. We’d really hate to see that happen and hope number 2 turns it back around. We hope to see Johnny Football excel on the football field once again.

Charity of the day: Special Olympics

Go donate! www.specialolympics.org

All signs point to this being Peyton’s last rodeo:

Photo credit: Joe Amon / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

Peyton Manning has told his family members that this will be his last year of professional football. While many football fans are disappointed to hear that Manning is walking away. This shouldn’t come as a shocker to anyone in the football industry. Manning’s old age has caught up with him and it was clearly seen in his play throughout this season. While some Manning optimist believed that he has a couple more years left in him. The results on the field told a different story. Manning was overwhelmingly ineffective in the regular season. In fact he was so bad at one point that analysts and insiders around the league questioned whether or not Manning was actually holding the Denver Broncos back. The truth is Manning struggles now with the game from a physical stand point. The arm isn’t what it used to be. Causing him to put more balls in the dirt than ever. He also has seen the hits pile up over time. Now that Manning’s body is frail any hit could potentially re-injure that already damaged neck. After multiple operations to the injury and a complete loss of feeling in his finger tips. Manning has decided that walking away from the game with some of his health intact is the best move for his family and himself. Manning will have a bright life after his football career. He has already dabbled into acting with his Papa John’s commercials and his laundry list of other endorsements. So he could easily make it as a television analyst or as an actor. One other post playing opportunity might be to take the field as a coach. It was reported that Ole Miss offered Manning their head coaching job while Manning was sidelined for a season with an injury. Being such a bright football mind you have to figure that there would be other suitors looking to land Manning to lead their football team. What young player wouldn’t want to play for the great Peyton Manning? Regardless one thing is for certain. Manning’s playing days are limited and this will most likely be the last game we see Manning play in. It’s up to him to leave it all out on the field and do everything he can to take down the Panthers. It won’t be an easy task by any means.

Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

Go donate! www.woundedwarriorproject.org

Allen Robinson: On the verge of greatness

Photo credit: Wesley Hitt / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Allen Robinson had a great year for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2nd year player out of Penn State finished the 2015 season with 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Those 1,400 yards were good enough for 6th best in the league. He was a truly dynamic player and one of Blake Bortles favorite weapons. Robinson made tremendous strides in his second year and look for him to continue elevating his game entering his 3rd season. The Jaguars have to pleased with this guys progression. Robinson was drafted in the 2 round of the 2014 draft with the 29th pick. Even though expectations were clearly high for Robinson. He still shattered all expectations in 2015 by being flat out dominant on the football field. Along with Allen Hurns, Robinson gives the Jaguars outstanding wide receivers on the edges. This allows the Jaguars to spread the ball out effectively and create running lanes by stretching the defense. Without players like Hurns and Robinson, the Jaguars would have a tough time keeping opposing defenses honest. Instead defenders have to play 2 safety high defenses and 7 in the box football. While that only translated to 5 wins in 2015. The teams stock arrow is clearly pointing up and they seem to be trending towards success for the first time in awhile. That is due to players like Allen Robinson and their efforts. The Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t the only team to benefit from Robinson’s receiving skills either. Team Irvin which was Michael Irvin’s team in the Pro Bowl also got a boost from having Robinson in their line up. Robinson finished the Hawaii event with 105 yards and touchdown. No other receiver in the game had more yards receiving than Robinson did. It’s clear that this guy is a very special player and on the verge of greatness.

Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

Go donate! www.woundedwarriorproject.org

Calvin Johnson walks away from the game as one of the best receivers ever:

Photo credit: Gregory Shamus

Author: Jon Kuzma

With Adam Schefter announcing that Calvin Johnson’s playing days are most likely over. You have to have mixed feelings upon hearing the announcement. First and foremost Johnson has plenty of gas left in the tank. At 30 years old Johnson might not be the player that he once was, but he still could easily play 3 more seasons effectively. On the opposite end of the spectrum with all the awareness we are gaining about concussions and with the injuries a pro football player must endure of the course of their career. You can’t really blame the 9th year player because he walks away healthier than he would if he continued to play for x amount of seasons. At the end of the day Johnson did what was best for him and people should be respectful of that. Of course Detroit fans and Calvin Johnson fans will be upset to see their favorite player walk away from it all. Yet Johnson has very little left to prove at the professional ranks. Calvin is already one of the greatest wide receivers to ever the play the game. He finishes his career with 731 receptions, 11,619 receiving yards, and 83 touchdowns. Numbers that might be inferior to past greats like Jerry Rice, and Randy Moss. Yet you have to once again keep in perspective that players careers will be shorter from here on out. Due to the rising awareness of the long term negative effects on the body as far as injuries go. Clearly when Johnson weighed those pros and cons the decision became much easier. Another factor is the fact that Johnson also has enough money to walk away and never have to worry about his finances. In 2012 Johnson signed an 8 year 132 million dollar contract extension to stay with the Lions. That move set up Johnson’s future nicely and there wasn’t much left for him to accomplish personally outside of winning a Super Bowl. Johnson received high praise from his peers around the league and will be remembered as a dynamic playmaker who often put the Lions on his back. Now CJ will transition to the next phase of life and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Charity of the day: National Council on Aging

Go donate! www.ncoa.org

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