The Eagles have made enough upgrades this off-season to make a push for NFC East supremacy:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

The Philadelphia Eagles were surprisingly better than most people thought they would be in 2016 and since then they’ve made a lot of upgrades to their football team. The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith, and LeGarrette Blount to solidify their offense but those were just a few of the acquisitions this team has made. Philadelphia also signed Chance Warmack away from the Titans to bolster their offensive front. Warmack started in 48 games for the Titans and brings with him a wealth of offensive line experience. Expect Chance Warmack to be leading the charge for the Eagles in the trenches and there’s no doubt this guy will open holes for Blount and company. The Eagles also traded for Timmy Jernigan to plug into one of their defensive tackle positions and we all know Jim Scwartz gets a lot of his defensive talent. Jernigan will help bring a lot of defensive pressure from the A and B gaps, which should help this group be even better than a year ago. That might have been enough for most teams but keep in mind Philadelphia also signed Chris Long, and Patrick Ramsay to act as role players in Philly’s 4-3 defensive scheme. So when you step back and look at all these moves you can really see just how much effort Howie Roseman and the front office have put in from 2016 to now. Keep in mind this was 7-9 football team last season so they really weren’t that far removed from having success in this league. On top of everything that has been stated  the Eagles also added some key players through the draft too. Derek Barnett (DE) and Sidney Jones (CB) are both young stand outs who could provide a big impact early on in their careers. It’s safe to say that the Eagles are looking the best they’ve looked talent wise since Andy Reid was taking Philly to the Super Bowl. Doug Pederson was extremely lucky to inherit this team at perfect time and now it looks like the second year coach will have a chance to be a playoff contender in his sophomore season.

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Dave Gettleman lost some key players over the last few seasons but he was slowly starting to redeem himself:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

With the Carolina Panthers announcing they’ve fired General Manager Dave Gettleman it was easy to see why the Panthers were frustrated. Gettleman had lost Josh Norman, Kony Ealy, and DeAngelo Williams over the past three off-seasons and those were key players to the Panthers overall success. Even though those players departures hindered Carolina’s immediate chances to compete, believe it or not Gettleman was slowly starting to redeem himself with some good football moves. The most notable acquisitions Dave Gettleman made to the Panthers roster were the drafting of Christian McCaffrey and Chris Samuel too extremely fast rookies who are certainly going to help Cam Newton open up the offense. Those two players were solid draft picks by Gettleman and it was clear what the former general manager’s plan was. Gettleman wanted to avoid overpaying for pricey free agents such as Josh Norman, and then he wanted to add affordable players that can provide a significant impact. That’s why an older Julius Peppers was brought in to solidify the pass rush, and a cheap (less than $2 million dollars) Charles Johnson was signed to add to the wide receiver group. By not breaking the bank and aiming for players who can elevate the team Gettleman put together a roster that was very efficient. It’s no secret Gettleman rubbed a lot of players the wrong way with this strategy but that will happen when you’re pinching every dollar which Dave Gettleman did. Then there was the big free agent splash in Matt Khalil, who signed with Carolina to play with his brother Ryan Khalil who starts for the Panthers at center. Adding Matt Khalil significantly bolsters the offensive front and now Newton should have much more time to operate on drop backs. All of those additions were roster upgrades and it’s easy to believe that the Panthers are a better football team heading in to 2017. Still it was clear ownership resented letting go of some of those marquee players and that was likely the underlying reason why the team decided to part ways with their overwhelmingly successful G.M. It just goes to show that one rough patch can destroy an entire career, Gettleman should have been more conscious of how detrimental letting key players like Josh Norman go could be. Now the Panthers will be looking for new leadership to turn the page on the Dave Gettleman era.

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Kenny Stills caught 9 touchdowns last year for the Miami Dolphins, that was a significant contribution:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

Miami Dolphins Receiver Kenny Stills had an outstanding season in 2016 in which the 25 year old receiver was able to record 9 touchdown receptions. That production helped Stills finish 6th in the entire league in touchdown catches and not even fellow teammate Jarvis Landry could find the end zone as much as Stills did. With Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill still looking to find his groove passing wise, it’s imperative that Miami gets strong performances from role players like Kenny Stills. Tannehill has been somewhat underproducing during his time at the helm and talented receivers help alleviate pressure for this group. Stills had four plays that were more than 40 yards in 2016 so he definitely brings big play capability and it’s good to have receivers that can work the vertical passing game. Speedy receivers like Stills can take the top off a defense and lead to quick scoring. Every offensive coordinator dreams of players with those abilities and luckily for the Dolphins they have that in the emerging 5th year receiver. Now in 2017 Stills will hit the field with more confidence than he has ever had and he is coming off his best season ever. This upcoming year offers Stills a chance to build on the success he had a season ago and expect him to do so especially since Stills is much more experienced than he was early on his career. Defensive backs have to take note of where number 10 is on the field now every single snap. If they don’t Stills can run right by them and finish in the end zone for six points. The only question now is whether Tannehill can rise to the occasion and give this team enough effort to take the next step? If not Matt Moore will be waiting in the wings to do so but regardless of who is throwing the football Kenny Stills is going to make plays for Miami.

Charity of the day: Marine Mammal Center

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Ty Montgomery will enter 2017 as the full time starter for the Green Bay Packers, a position he clearly earned:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

The Green Bay Packers got a huge boost to their running game when they plugged in Ty Montgomery into their backfield. Montgomery who started his career off as wide receiver successfully made the transition to running back and believe it or not he was one of the most elusive ball carriers in the entire league in 2016. Those abilities helped earn Montgomery full time starter status and the Packers offense is much more dynamic when number 88 is on the field. Montgomery was an elusive return man at Stanford University during his collegiate career, Green Bay’s front office recognized those skills and that compelled the Packers to draft Montgomery in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The same moves that made Ty Montgomery a star in the kick return game are clearly translating over to running back and that’s why this guy provided a very surprising spark to Mike McCarthy’s team. With Aaron Rodgers delivering strike after strike in the passing game, Montgomery will add balance to the Packers with each hand off. Last season we got a small glimpse of what that looks like but in 2017 we will get to see how Ty Montgomery handles the entire load on his shoulders. Based on those past experiences it feels like Montgomery is destined to do big things this upcoming season and it will be a lot of fun to watch him develop as he becomes a more mature running back. Every little thing Ty Montgomery did last season was off his raw football instinct. This year Montgomery’s skill set will be much more refined and that should lead to much greater output. There’s a reason Montgomery is emerging into a fan favorite in Wisconsin, he plays with maximum effort on every snap and it’s easy to see the third year players has a ton of heart. Green Bay is better off now that they have Montgomery on their roster.

Charity of the day: Marine Mammal Center

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Chandler Jones and Markus Golden bring the heat for the Arizona Cardinals’ pass rush:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

The Arizona Cardinals might have struggled in 2016 with a 7-8-1 record but there definitely was a bright spot in outside linebackers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. Jones and Golden both finished in the top 10 when it came to total sacks a year ago and they are both so key in Arizona’s 3-4 defense. In that particular scheme outside linebackers are expected to rush the quarterback and both guys do that exceptionally well. With Calais Campbell leaving the Cardinals to head to the Jacksonville Jaguars this off-season, Jones and Golden will have even more pressure to produce this upcoming season. Picking up the slack that Campbell left behind won’t be easy but if Jones and Golden can wreak havoc in the offensive backfield the Cardinals secondary should be able to pick off a few ill-advised passes throughout the year. Those turnovers can be the difference between winning and losing games, also look for Jones and Golden to try to force more fumbles too. Arizona’s defense has to create turnovers and find a way to put up points on the defensive side of the ball. Those opportunities will put this team in a much better situation to succeed and the pair combined for 8 forced fumbles last year. Increasing that total isn’t impossible especially since Jones and Golden gain experience with each rep they take but the bottom line is these guys have to pour on the sacks. Markus Golden had 12.5 sacks in 2016 finishing 3rd for the entire league. Chandler Jones finished the year with 11 sacks and ranked 8th among all pass rushers. Sacks are how 3-4 outside linebackers are measured success wise however both players can’t be limited to those stats in 2017. Jones and Golden have to record tackles for losses, intercept passes, and deliver momentum changing big hits. If these two players can rally the other guys in the locker room behind them, that will be the best chance the Cardinals have a getting back to winning football.

Charity of the day: DonorsChoose.org

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