Weapons on the edge: Patriots pick up Reggie Wayne

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

The Patriots made a good move for their offense today picking up Reggie Wayne. Wayne has been an outstanding wide receiver for the Colts since Peyton Manning was in town. The tandem lit up opposing defenses in the AFC South and managed to rack up some pretty impressive accolades. When Peyton Manning left Indianapolis for Denver and Andrew Luck came into the fold. Reggie Wayne remained a constant for the Colts offense continuing his production on the football field and never skipping a beat. In fact Wayne was so good during his time with the Colts he managed to bring in 82 touchdowns and 14,345 yards receiving. Very impressive numbers since 82 touchdowns is the 22nd most of all times and 14,345 yards receiving is the 8th most of all time. When you step back and think about how many good players came through the National Football League that speaks volumes about how prolific Reggie Wayne truly was in his Colts days. Now for the first time in his career Wayne will look to strike fear in NFL defenses in a different uniform than Colt’s blue and white. Wayne enters a Patriot system that is full of youngsters at the receiver position. Wayne should serve as a good mentor to those younger receivers and will also give that position group more veteran presence. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are two promising players in that system and Reggie Wayne should blend with them nicely. The way Wayne plays even meshes well with the Patriots offensive philosophy. Tom Brady expects everything to be based off of rhythm and timing, which means receivers are expected to run exceptional routes. Which has alway been a strength for Reggie Wayne. His route running skills have been praised his whole career and the destination might revive Wayne’s career for a couple years. A good signing for the Patriots.

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Can the Arizona Cardinals replicate last year’s success?

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Photo credit: Todd Jones

Things have been good for the Arizona Cardinals ever since Head Coach Bruce Arians has come to the desert. The former Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburg Steelers offensive coordinator had shown good coaching promise in his previous gigs. And smoothly made the transition to a head coach in the NFC West instantly showing positive results. Arians would come out the gate hot in his coaching career. Winning 10 football games his first season and 11 games his second season. While it’s easy to dismiss the Cardinals success because the franchise hasn’t been particularly upper echelon in the past. The newly led Cardinals are a team that are here to stay and should show they are a contender again in 2015. In games last season the Cardinals were ferocious on defense blitzing often with the front seven. And letting Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu handle things on the back end of the defense. The combination allowed the Cardinals to surrender the fifth least points in the league. Allowing opposing offenses to score just an average of 18.7 points per game. A number that is very low when you look at how talented some of the offenses really are in the National Football League. Offensively the team will most likely get a lift from Carson Palmer returning from injury. Palmer has looked good in his limited time in the preseason and has shown he can still be contributor at his older age. The former USC Trojan quarterback has posted over a 100 passer rating in both games and looks like he could have a huge impact for this Cardinals team. Other notable players for this offense are Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Together they shape a very talented receiving core and with Palmer back at the helm the Cardinals just might be able to repeat last years success. Still that success or failure will ultimately come down to Arians and his system/culture he cultivates. In the past two seasons it has been a winning formula, so it’s hard to bet against it the third time around.  Keep an eye on the NFC west this fall to see how it plays out.

Jarryd Hayne has proven he deserves to be a National Football League player:

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Photo credit: Tim Napazzi

Former Rugby stand out Jarryd Hayne has proven he deserves to be a pro football player. The two time Rugby League Player of the Year has been exceptional in his limited role with the Forty Niners and seems deserving of a promotion. That shot may or may not come with the Forty Niners but if he doesn’t make that team there may be other teams out there that will bid on Hayne’s service. Almost every time Hanye touches the ball he is almost guaranteed to make at least one defender miss. In last night’s Niners preseason game against the Cowboys. Hayne had an exceptional outing returning 3 punts and netting returns of 27,34, and 23 yards. Another notable stat in Hayne’s favor is the fact that he is currently second in the preseason in rushing yards with 117. Showing that he has the vision, acceleration, and open space moves to succeed as a running back in the league. Everyone praised his abilities on the rugby field and it was debated whether or not he could make the transition to this level. Well it’s safe to say that Hayne is nearly as dynamic on the football field as he was on the Rugby field. His stop on the dime shiftiness has caused experienced NFL defenders to whiff on tackles. An impressive feat for player who is participating in his second football game ever. Yes that’s right his second football game at any level. Hayne’s has never played pee wee, middle school, high school, or college football. Instead relying heavily on the fundamentals he gained during his time in Rugby and learning American Football on the fly. It’s safe to say that this guy has exceeded everyone’s expectations and the Forty Niners should do the right thing and give him a shot. If not some other team in the league surely will.

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Drew Brees: The best pure passer of all-time

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Photo credit: Ed Shipul

Drew Brees looked better than ever last night against the New England Patriots. Dicing the Patriots defense up for 8 out of 10 passes and 2 touchdowns strikes. On one particular forty five yard touchdown strike Brees was able to connect with receiver Brandin Cooks who beat his defender on a double move. Cooks had a heck of a night hauling in 4 receptions, 117 yards, and a touchdown for the Saints. Showing that he can be an effective weapon for the Saints offense and hopefully minimize the lost of Jimmy Graham a little bit. Still much of the Saints offensive credit must go to Brees. One thing you notice right away when watching Brees play is the way he is able to lead the Saints offense. He takes command not only in a leadership role but his consistency on the field shows he is dedicated to many facets of his game. His field vision is better than nearly every other quarterback in the league and that is why he was able to pass for 5,000 yards in a season 4 different times. A feat that no other quarterback in NFL history has done, and a feat that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have only done once each. The numbers don’t lie. When you watch Brees drop back you are watching arguably the best pure passer of all-time. Brady is the best in terms of Super Bowl wins. Brees is the best pure passer ever, period. His pocket presence is better than everyones. His throws are darts that are on the money every time. He also does a great job of being deceptive in where he is going with the ball. Doing a great job of looking off defenders then coming back and making the backside defense pay on throws. Keep an eye on Brees this year as he looks to add his 5th 5,000 passing yards season to his resume. And maybe his second Lombardi trophy if he keeps playing like this.

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Eagles dominate in preseason match. A result of Kelly’s system:

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Photo credit: Kevin Burkett

Chip Kelly had quite a bit of pressure on him coming into this season. While he is a tremendous football coach we can all agree. There were questions whether or not his “sell the house” mentality was going to pay off. Gone are star players Lesean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, and Nick Foles. They were replaced by hand picked Chip Kelly players which include Sam Bradford, Kiko Alonso, and Demarco Murray. The concerns were never really whether or not Kelly could coach the team, but rather is he making the right personnel moves? Well some of those questions can finally be put to rest. The Eagles have scored 76 points in two preseason games and they’re 2-0. Thrashing both the Ravens and the Colts. While it may be too soon to get excited. Things at the moment do look bright for Philadelphia and it could be a sign of things to come for this football team. Another area worth mentioning has to be the offensive system. It’s almost as if the offense is a machine and there are interchangeable parts that can be inserted. For instance the offense has looked good with just about any quarterback in the game. The rushing attack has looked good with Murray or Matthews taking carries. And upfront the guys are creating space and opening up running lanes for these running backs. Right now they are firing on all cylinders and it all goes back to Kelly’s idea of culture. It’s no secret that Kelly has publicly stated he believes the culture and environment you develop will always beat any scheme. In Kelly’s approach this might be the music playing at practices and his uptempo pace that his players must adhere to. All these little strategies, tendencies, and philosophies are what make up the Chip Kelly system. It is ultimately the reason for his success as well. He deserves a pat on the back. Philadelphia fans may be in for a treat this year.

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Seahawks won’t return to the Super Bowl without Kam Chancellor:

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Photo credit: Ryan Lock

In the last two years of NFL action it’s hard to find a player that has been a tougher s.o.b than Kam Chancellor. Nate Burleson got it right when he said “Chancellor puts the boom in legion of boom.” The guy has been an absolute force for the Seahawks the last two seasons and in particular during the postseason when performance matters most. In the 2013 and 2014 postseason combined Chancellor has intercepted 3 passes. Some defensive backs play a whole regular season which is sixteen games and finish with less interceptions than that. Not to mention Chancellor is the Seahawks’ brick wall defender. Leveling guys not only in the secondary on pass plays. But also coming up in run support and acting as an enforcer for the Seahawks defense. Not many guys have had as big as an impact for their team as Kam Chancellor has and he is a vital piece to the Seahawks puzzle. Now, with Kam Chancellor threatening to hold out and Michael Robinson stating that “Chancellor will sit out the whole year”. The Seahawks are left with two options. Either open up negotiations and extend Chancellors contract. Or ignore Chancellors demands and risk him sitting out the season. Really the longer the Seahawks wait the more the morale is going to drop for the Seahawks collectively. You don’t want Chancellor feeling like he isn’t wanted in Seattle. When a player’s happiness drops typically performance does as well. On top of that Chancellor is indeed a key performer for the Seahawks and has earned his money. It makes sense to address the issue as quickly as possible if your the team’s front office. Yet with giving a new deal to Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Bobby Wagner. Cap space might be getting tight for the Seahawks. It will be interesting to see how this things play out and more importantly how Seattle reels Chancellor back into the fold.

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Matt Ryan: shaping in to a fine pro career

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Matt Ryan or “Matty Ice” as they like to call him in Atlanta, is having an excellent career with the Atlanta Falcons. At 30 years old Ryan is entering his eighth season of NFL action. No longer a young player looking to prove his value, Ryan is now an NFL veteran who is entering his athletic prime. With those development years in his rear view mirror Ryan’s best football still might be ahead of him. A pretty strong case since Matt Ryan had arguably the best five year start of any NFL quarterback ever. Don’t believe us? Well, check the stats. In a five year span to start their career no one has more wins than Ryan with 56, no one has more fourth quarter come backs with 16, and no one has more game winning drives with 23. So while Ryan isn’t the best QB ever he does have some very key accomplishments that he can be proud of. Another big factor of Matt Ryan’s game is when you watch him you notice the discipline that he has put into his craft. He is outstanding with his body position such as keeping the ball high and the shoulders cocked. His footwork is impeccable and he always does a great job of stepping up in the pocket. He also does a phenomenal job of seeing the field and looking off defenders before making a throw. And when it does finally come to Ryan throwing the football. It’s like poetry in motion. Most of his throws are fluent, with perfect mechanics, and all of his balls have good zip on them. Maybe this is why he was able to put up 181 touchdowns and only 91 interceptions. Which is 33 more touchdowns than fellow 2008 draft classmate Joe Flacco has put up (148). If Ryan finishes the back end of his career anything like he started. He should certainly finish as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in terms of wins. He also should be a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day. You have to tip your hat to that .

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It’s time for the Kirk Cousins era to begin in Washington:

Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

With former Washington Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan coming out and publicly praising Kirk Cousins. It just adds more pressure to starting Washington quarterback Robert Griffin. Griffin got rocked last night in the Redskins preseason game against the Lions and ended up with his second professional concussion. A bad sign for the former first rounder and his time as the teams’s starter might be coming to an end. The guy who looks best suited to fill the team’s void at quarterback is indeed Cousins. Entering his fourth season of NFL action Cousins has showed some poise in his limited action. He finished 2014 with 10 touchdowns and 1,710 passing yards in only 6 games played. One thing that people in the Washington organization seem to praise about Cousins, is the fact that he is a high character guy. Cousins spent his collegiate days at Michigan State under coach Mark Dantonio. A guy who is no slouch in the college coaching ranks and is single handedly responsible for turning around the Michigan State football program. During his time there Cousins was able to become the most successful quarterback to ever come out of Michigan State. Posting 27 wins while at East Lansing. Those trials of competing every week in the Big 10 and studying under coach Dantonio now serve as a foundation for Cousins. The good habits he’s formed during that time are what has allowed him to patiently wait for head coach Jay Gruden to call his number. Now as RG3 seems to be struggling to live up to the grueling NFL expectations. It’s time for the Redskins to look to Kirk Cousins. When you plug in the film and watch the highlights its clear. Cousins mechanically is more sound, he reads the field better, and he does a better job of going through his progressions. Instead of RG3 getting flustered and fleeing the pocket, Cousins rather will trust his offensive line and rely on his footwork. Allowing the offense to operate overall more efficiently. If the Redskins can become a run first football team and allow Cousins to manage the game they should be alright. The thing they can’t do is come out and have a  20-80 run to pass ratio. Not many quarterbacks can have success dropping back and passing that many times a game. And even the best quarterbacks in the league tend to have more success when their teams also have a solid rushing attack going. The Redskins can take a huge step forward by following this formula and moving ahead with Cousins. When you have a guy who is better attitude and production wise, it’s clearly the right choice.

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Manziel needs to start or Pettine needs to go:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

An interesting turn events have taken place in Cleveland. The guy Mike Pettine seemed reluctant to endorse (Johnny Manziel) is now the best option to win football games for the Browns. Nothing could have made that more clear than tonights game against the Buffalo Bills. While Josh McCown struggled against the Bills defense throwing 2 interceptions and looking shaky at times. Manziel improved his NFL stock by throwing for 118 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown would put the Browns ahead for a short period of time before the Bills would eventually come back and win the game on a 2pt conversion in the late fourth quarter. However one thing remained clear walking away from all this, it’s Johnny Football time in Cleveland. Pettine might not like, if you’ve watched the interviews he has had on Manziel the last two years you can read between the lines that he doesn’t like Manziel. But at this point Pettine’s job should be on the line if he doesn’t start the youngster. Part of being an NFL coach is being impartial and unbiased. Neither of which Pettine has been towards Manziel. Truthfully the Browns would have been in an even better situation now if they started Manziel all last year and let him take his lumps. Now though regardless it’s time for the former Texas A and M Aggies signal caller to lead things down in Ohio. Yea Manziel in some aspects can be brash, and somewhat arrogant. At the end of the day though he is the only one with enough moxie to lead this football team. Look McCown was a good player. He overachieved during his NFL reign managing to become an NFL journeyman when his career shouldn’t have even been that long. Manziel on other hand has been a football star most of his life and there is a reason he has earned that reputation. The former Heisman trophy winner and SEC stand out has earned his prestige on the field and has worked hard off the field to clean up his image. The guy has proved he is invested in Cleveland, it’s time Cleveland show they’re invested in him. The dog pound will be throwing up the money sign shortly.

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The evolution of Tyrod Taylor:

Jaguars at Ravens 12/14/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

A product of your environment is an adage that is commonly used to refer to someone who acts a certain way due to their environment. Tyrod Taylor is a product of the NFL environment. After spending 4 seasons in Baltimore. And going through all of the NFL mini-camps, all the NFL preseasons, and regular seasons. Tyrod Taylor has ultimately become an NFL quarterback. One that is worthy of starting in the National Football League. Taylor is a living example of what determination, hard work, and repetition in a field of work can do. While he was a successful college passer at Virginia Tech, his skills didn’t immediately translate to the National Football League. He spent four years in the Raven’s system with little hope of cracking Joe Flacco for the starting position. While at the time it may have looked like a failure for Taylor sitting behind Flacco. That hunger has driven Taylor to develop himself into a fine football player. He ultimately signed with the Buffalo Bills in the off-season because Rex Ryan previously tried to trade for Taylor when he was with the Jets. That vote of confidence from Ryan made signing with the Bills a no brainer for Taylor. Since arriving in Buffalo Taylor has done nothing but validate Ryan’s assessment. He’s been outstanding in all the training camp sessions this off-season, and has even received high praise from Bills’ G.M Doug Whaley. Now tonight as the Bills take on the Browns Taylor will look to solidify himself as the regular season starter by supplanting Matt Cassel. While in most circumstances the traditional pocket passer style like Cassel’s usually wins in these situations. With all the praise that Taylor is receiving it might be the more mobile quarterback coming out on top this time. It all starts with a good performance tonight.

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