Manziel gets the nod for Sunday: Make or Break time

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Johnny Manziel will get his first start of the season after Cleveland’s starter Josh McCown was ruled out of the game this week with a concussion. Manziel enters the match up Sunday with 182 passing yards on the season. He also has 1 touchdown pass and one interception. His play hasn’t been outstanding but he does look noticeably better than he did last year during this time. Now being the starter and being in the game the whole time we should get a true assessment of what Manziel can do at the helm for the Browns. While it seems like many people are rooting against the second year pro. It should be noted that when playing at an optimal level Manziel could be an effective player for the Browns offense. Manziel has clearly made a commitment to becoming a stronger person at least mentally. His rehab stint was a step in the right direction as far as getting his personal life together off the field goes. Maybe that calmer lifestyle will allow Manziel to be more poised Sunday. We should definitely keep an eye on how well he commands the offense and how well he does with the leadership side of things. Those intangibles seem to be the thing holding him back the most in his progression. Last year a few players stated that “Manziel could barely call the plays in the huddle.” Something that is ridiculous when you think about how important Manziel is to that team. This year though he has actually won over a lot of his teammates in training camp and has even received praise from Joe Thomas. Who stated Manziel has “made a lot of progress.” Now it’s up to the second year player to go out and prove his worth. He will be going head to head against rookie stand out Marcus Mariota who is already proving his worth to the Titans. Adding a little more pressure to Manziel, it’s certainly make or break time for Johnny Football.

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Chiefs miss huge opportunity to elevate themselves:

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Photo credit: Jason Craven

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Kansas City Chiefs found themselves in a great position to beat the Denver Broncos last night in Thursday night football action. Only to squander that lead late on a fumble by Jamaal Charles, which led to a Broncos scoop and score. The Andy Reid era in Kansas City seems to be a promising one. The Chiefs were on the cusp of dethroning the Broncos from atop of the AFC West standing. Now the Chiefs instead find themselves sitting in third place with a 1-1 record. The win would of been a huge step forward for the Chiefs, but still you have to admit that the Chiefs are heading in the right direction. A couple plays here or there and they are the leader of the that division. Which is a huge testament of the moves the Chiefs front office have made. Manning would praise the Chiefs’ defense after the game stating that “There defense is much better than last year.” The improved stoutness of the defense is a result of retaining their star player in Justin Houston. Houston was able to record 22 sacks last year for the Chiefs, and is one of the marquee defensive players in the league. The other factor in improving this defense was another year of being Andy Reid’s system. His approach to the game on offense, defense, and special teams are what have this team back on the right track. While this is a set back along the way, there are many things they can take away from this and try to improve on. A couple tweaks here and there and good things could be coming for this franchise. It’s good to see the Chiefs back having some good things going for them. It all starts with Andy Reid and his approach.

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Peyton Manning comes up big against Chiefs with game on the line:

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

Peyton Manning had a historic night in the Thursday night match up which pitted the Kansas City Chiefs vs the Denver Broncos. Manning hit a career mile stone of 70,000 yards passing a feat that only the great Brett Favre was able to achieve. While that was a great thing to accomplish in the third quarter in the game itself the Broncos were trailing the Chiefs. It looked like Andy Reid and company were going to shock the world and go 2-0 on the season to start. That is when Peyton Manning had to put on the cape and pull out some heroics. Manning executed phenomenally on a drive late in the fourth quarter which gave the Broncos a chance to stay alive. On that drive Manning was able to hook up with Demaryius Thomas on 3 different receptions. All of which were around 20 yards per catch. Those big plays by Thomas allowed the Broncos to move into striking position. Four plays later Manning was able to hit Emmanuel Sanders on a 19 yard post route for a Broncos touchdown. It looked like overtime was imminent but the Chiefs still had a little time on the clock. That is when Jamaal Charles was stripped by Brandon Marshal. And cornerback Bradley Roby was able to return that fumble for a Broncos touchdown with only 27 seconds left in the game. Eventually the Broncos would go on to beat the Chiefs and Peyton Manning would go on to earn a 14-1 record against Kansas City. The comeback was one of better ones in pro football and it was really the result of Charles’ slip up. You have to be conscious of ball security late in the game and deep in your own end. The Chiefs had a chance at this game but give Manning credit for helping this team hang around. His effort played a huge roll in this win.

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Let it fly Ryan Mallett

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Photo credit: Brian Clark

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Houston Texans finally made the right move going with Ryan Mallett as their starting quarterback. Mallett who is in his fifth year of pro football action was beat out for the starting job by Brian Hoyer. The situation was documented on the show Hard Knocks and it was clear in Mallet’s reaction that he wasn’t happy about coach O’Brien’s decision. Mallett even would miss the next day of practice after Hoyer was announced the starter making us feel like a complete meltdown was on the horizon for Mallett. Well it’s funny how fast things can change. Mallett since then has played well in his limited role and actually has been promoted to the starting quarterback job. Coach O’Brien stated that “Mallet provided a spark for the offense” when he got a chance to play. It became unavoidable for coach O’Brien not to admit that Mallett was the better option for the Texans offense. With the team already falling to 0-1 on the season there was little time for this team to wait for Hoyer to come around for this offense. While Hoyer is a good player, Mallet’s physical tools are a better fit for NFL success as a quarterback. Mallett is 6’6 and that allows him to see over NFL offensive lineman better than Hoyer can. His release is also from a higher point which allows less balls to get batted down, and it easier for him to make throws across the middle. While Hoyer has some better characteristics as far as leadership goes. The more talented of the two players was always Mallett. It’s good to see the right guy finally win the job. This is a league where the guy who wins more for his team should get the job. At the end of the day that guy is Ryan Mallett for the Houston Texans.

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Are the Colts legitimate Super Bowl contenders?

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Photo credit: Angie Six

Author: Joey Carr

Going into this season, many experts made their picks for who would make it to Santa Clara in February. The NFC is a toss up for most people; the Seahawks and Packers are the most popular picks, with the Cowboys and Eagles appearing sometimes, but the AFC is a different story. Prior to the season, the Indianapolis Colts were by the far the most picked team in the AFC to make it to the Super Bowl. With Andrew Luck only improving and the additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson, the Colts seemed like the team to beat coming out of the gate. However, after an extremely rough start to the season that has them 0-1, do the Colts have what it takes to make it all the way?

First off, the first week of the year is not by any means indicative of how the rest of the season will go. Look at the Patriots last year: starting off 2-2 with one of the worst offenses in the league didn’t look like a trip to Arizona was in the cards. But they turned it around and became Super Bowl champs a few months later. The same thing could happen to Indy this year, but for now, they should be concerned with just winning the AFC South rather than the game in Santa Clara. If their performance against the Bills on Sunday is at all telling of how their season will go, they’re in serious danger of being knocked off their throne. Andrew Luck simply didn’t look like himself against Buffalo, but maybe that dominant Bills pass rush led by Mario Williams had something to do with it. Either way, Indy will have to shore up that offensive line if they’re going to have any chance of keeping Luck on his feet long enough to make an accurate throw. Another issue going forward for the Colts will be their run game, which was pretty much nonexistent on Sunday. The offseason addition of Frank Gore was supposed to take the Colts offense to a new level, something that Trent Richardson failed to do in the previous years after being acquired from Cleveland. But alas, Gore looked slow and powerless against the Buffalo D, along with the rest of the offense. And if the loss wasn’t bad enough already, Indy will be without their star receiver T.Y. Hilton for at least a game or two, which will cause Luck to rely more on the aging Andre Johnson and second year man Donte Moncrief, a strategy that didn’t work out very well in the opener as they only managed 14 points. The defense will also need to be fixed if the Colts want any shot at taking the AFC Champion title away from New England. Some major holes on defense were exposed Sunday when Tyrod Taylor used his arm and legs to pick apart the Colts secondary. Also, the defensive line had a hard time stopping a semi-banged up LeSean McCoy, picking up right where they left off when they allowed LeGarrette Blount to run all over them in last year’s AFC Championship game against the Patriots.

As said above, Week 1 is not indicative of how the season will go for a team. We’ve seen teams time and time again start out slow and finish strong, which is what counts come January. But those teams made major adjustments to their gameplan and roster, something Chuck Pagano, head coach of Indianapolis, isn’t quite known for. So, if the Colts can overcome their week 1 loss and patch the holes that need to patched, we should see this team back in the top 3 of the AFC come playoff time.

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Bengals spoil Derek Carr’s Party:

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Photo credit: Trevor Navin

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Raiders had high expectations coming into their regular season opener against the Bengals. Derek Carr was coming off a tremendous rookie season and everyone was looking for a strong start from Raider nation. The Cincinnati Bengals had other plans however, they would knock Carr out of the game and go on to beat the Raiders 33-13. Marvin Lewis had the Bengals fired up and it was noticeable in the teams play on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton overcame his preseason struggles and started the regular season with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Dalton looked poised in the pocket and showed why he been able to hold down a starting quarterback job in the NFL for five seasons. Tyler Eifert who is in his 3rd season with the Bengals was on the receiving end of both of Andy Dalton’s touchdown passes. Proving that he can be another viable option for this offense, and at the same time showcasing his outstanding receiving skills. As for the Bengals rushing attack Jeremy Hill bolstered the bulk of the production. He amassed 63 yards for 2 touchdowns having a nice day for himself carrying the ball. Giovani Bernard was also able to contribute 63 yards to the Bengals rushing efforts, with most of those yards coming in the second half. Defensively the Bengals were stifling keeping the Raiders offense in check nearly the entire game. Notable performances were turned in by Adam “Pacman” Jones who recorded 10 tackles and a forced fumble. Showing that he can still be an effective player for the Bengals. Geno Atkins also added 2 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Knocking Carr out of the game proved to be a winning tactic. The Raiders offense was sluggish after and the Bengals were able to capitalize on several mistakes. The Bengals start the year off 1-0 and look right back in the swing of things in the AFC division.

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Week 1 assessment: Patriots will repeat as Super Bowl Champions

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

Now that week 1 action is complete we are now able to look back and reflect on all of the outcomes. While in the off-season you speculate who is going to have success and who won’t. Now we have tangible evidence of what some teams are going to do this upcoming year. Coach Mike Krzyzewski Duke’s basketball coach had a great quote that stuck with me one time “If a team can’t perform on a moments notice they probably won’t be worth much in the end.” If you take that quote and put it in context for the Patriots you would see the phrase matches up perfectly. The Patriots came into the opener and rolled the Steelers 28-21. While the score showed a closer game than there actually was. It was clear that New England has a better offensive system than the Steelers. Bill Belichick out coached Mike Tomlin for all four quarters of the game. Also collectively New England as a team is still the team to beat in the entire league. Brady with all of the off-season heat that he has been facing was magnificent for the Patriots offense throwing for 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. One thing opposing defenses must truly respect is the Patriots passing system. Josh McDaniels has done a terrific job of pushing the offensive play calling envelope with a much more conservative Belichick at the helm. Together McDaniels’ aggressiveness as play caller, and Belichick’s conservative and calming demeanor they create a great balance for the Patriots offensively. When you have a talented cast like the Patriots do coaching wise, Tom Brady gets to focus more on the field playing wise rather than what play call should be made next. The formula was a Super Bowl winning one last year, and it looks like the Patriots will repeat again. “Remember if a team can’t perform on a moments notice it won’t be worth much in the end”. Well the Patriots just handled business in their opener with the black cloud of spygate hanging over their organization. A sign for good things in the Patriots future.

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Reactions From Week 1

Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

The first week of the NFL Regular Season was everything we hoped it would be. There were blowouts, nailbiters, and upsets, all the aspects that make for a great week of football. However, the injury bug was in full effect, as multiple top players on both sides of the ball left their games earlier than they planned. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable moments from Week 1.

The game that probably has everyone abuzz would be the Seahawks and Rams overtime thriller. In a game where the Seahawks were favored to win by 5 points, the Rams showed the world they need to be taken seriously in that crowded NFC West. Seattle didn’t look like themselves from the opening kickoff, allowing a subpar Rams offense to take advantage of the Kam Chancellor-less Seahawk defense. Russell Wilson and company couldn’t find a rhythm for most of the game but that was mostly due to the human run stopper that is Aaron Donald. Donald and the Rams defense really held their ground for the majority of the game, but did show some holes in the secondary that needs to be patched if they want to be a serious contender this year. The game came down to a 4th and 1 in overtime for the Seahawks, who ironically gave the ball to Marshawn Lynch instead of passing it. For all the criticism he took after Super Bowl 49, it seemed like Pete Carroll had no choice but to run the ball with a yard to go. Unfortunately for Seattle, Lynch wasn’t able to get the first down, proving everyone wrong who said: “running the ball with a yard to go works every time!”. So now every team in the NFC West is 1-0 except for the defending NFC champs, and without Kam Chancellor, Seattle could be in danger of being dethroned.

Another game that’s got the league humming is the matchup that took place up in Buffalo. The Colts were favored by a field goal, but got way more than they bargained for when they took the field against Tyrod Taylor and the ferocious Bills defense. In Rex Ryan’s first game as head coach, he really proved the Bills are for real this year, manhandling the Colts 27-14. Andrew Luck looked like anything but an MVP, throwing 2 picks but had a few more passes that could’ve easily been intercepted. The Colts as a team were in the same boat with Luck, looking like anything but a Super Bowl contender. The defense couldn’t keep up with Tyrod Taylor and his legs and the D-line couldn’t handle Shady McCoy. The offense looked stagnant for the most part and the offseason additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson seemed to drag the team down rather than propel them to new heights. The Bills on the other hand looked great, making the Colts run game almost nonexistent and causing Andrew Luck to make some uncharacteristically bad passes. The offense looked explosive with Taylor at quarterback, something that the rest of the league might have to look out for in the coming weeks.

In regards to injuries, there were quite a few in the first week of action. Most notably, Dez Bryant of the Cowboys is out 4-6 weeks after having surgery to mend a broken bone in his foot. This is a huge blow to the Cowboys offense, as he is the focal point along with Tony Romo, causing Romo to lean on Jason Witten a little more

than he planned to. At wide receiver, Dallas will now have to rely on Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams for the next 4-6 weeks, which could be an issue going forward. However, the most serious injury of Week 1 happened to Terrell Suggs, who is out for the season with an Achilles tear. The heart and soul of the Ravens defense, Suggs has led Baltimore’s D ever since Ray Lewis left, and without number 55, they could be in some trouble. Baltimore’s defense looked good against the Broncos, but that was against an aging Peyton Manning who can’t seem to throw the ball downfield with any accuracy anymore. Less serious injuries included the ones to: Luke Kuechly, T.Y. Hilton, Derek Carr, and Andre Ellington. Kuechly’s injury isn’t serious at all, as it was just a mild concussion and he should be available next week for Carolina. T.Y. Hilton could miss 1-2 games however, which could spell problems for Andrew Luck and the Colts. Derek Carr injured his right hand, but the x-rays came back negative. Andre Ellington’s injury looked more serious than the others, as he had to be carted off the field with a leg problem. He probably won’t be returning to the Cardinals for a few weeks, but with Carson Palmer playing so well, his presence won’t be as badly missed.

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