Torrey Smith shows he is a true gentleman of the league:

Panthers at Ravens 9/28/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith is an outstanding player on the football field. Did you know he is also an outstanding person in life as well? The former Baltimore Ravens receiver is a positive force in his day to day life. Often trying to brighten the lives of people around him and give back to his community. You can tell Smith has a strong sense of faith, and he is known for always interacting with people on Twitter and giving fans encouragement. One particular tweeter was anything but a fan however. Twitter user Dario Webb or “@DWebb15” as his Twitter handle confirms. Had one of the most disgusting comments in Twitter history towards Smith stating “And your brother is still dead”. For those who don’t know Smith’s brother was tragically killed in motor cycle accident during the 2012 season. The following night Smith would play in an NFL game and have an outstanding performance before breaking down and crying on the sidelines. The moment was one of the better moments in sports because Smith was going through so much pain of losing someone he loved. And to see him have success during a time that was so troubling for him, instantly made you a Torrey Smith fan. Dario Webb’s comments are symbolic for the world we live in today. A place where social media trolls can make nasty comments without much repercussion. Yet those comments didn’t break Torrey Smith’s spirit. He lived up to that great character he has always had and turned the cheek to @DWebb15. Showing us all how a responsible human being accepts being berated by an unknown internet voice. Most people today have had to deal with this issue at some point and can take a note from Smith’s approach. For those of you that can’t….

Feel free to send your hate tweets to @DWebb15. He truly deserves it.

*Note- Don’t physically hurt the guy though. Rise above that madness.

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Is the end in sight for Roger Goodell?

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Photo credit: Anthony Quintano

The NFL’s uncontrolled and unregulated power came to a seizing halt in some retrospects today. Judge Richard Berman has decided to overturn the NFL’s suspension of Tom Brady because the NFL apparently didn’t follow the collective bargaining agreement close enough. Instead the NFL and Goodell chose to go above the C.B.A and take power into their own hands. They did this by putting together the Wells Report which took into account many events that happened during the deflategate scandal but none of the facts were concrete enough to stick to Brady. This has been a continuous pattern for Goodell who has been the law of the land for the NFL ever since taking over the position. It’s not that Goodell is a particularly bad guy, it’s just that he seems to have an arrogance about him. The guy clearly wants to clean up the league which is a good thing, it’s just that he has zero tolerance for the people who help put him in power. The NFL trying to take down Tom Brady is the equivalent of the Los Angeles Lakers trying to take down Magic Johnson in the 90’s. You just don’t turn on the people who help elevate you like that, and that is exactly what Roger Goodell has made a living off. Turning on the people who helped make the league what it is. Ben Roethlisberger, Adrian Peterson, and Ray Rice were all examples of prolific players that had to face the wrath of Goodell. That is just some of the more marquee names as well. The list goes on much longer to lesser known players and incidents as well. The fact is Goodell has tried to maintain a squeaky clean image while at the same time throwing the NFL’s biggest stars under the bus. A recipe for disaster as those actions will clearly alienate people around the league. Goodell should take a page out of some of the other major league commissioners books and learn to coexist with players and people affiliated with the league. Instead he comes off like a guy who is dull and is socially inept. A bad sign for the NFL and it might be time for the league to turn the page. The brand is so big right now that a fresh new face might be able to catapult the league to new heights. How many people would be all for the move?

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Deflategate, For Now, Has Been Resolved

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

Deflategate. The mere utter mention of this phrase causes NFL fans to shudder and moan about this ludicrous case. It has caused the NFL offseason to be a hindrance instead of a free agent signing paradise. It caused numerous awkward press conferences and interviews. But most of all it caused one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live to be questioned on his integrity. However, after 7 months, false reports, appeals, and hilarious courtroom sketches, Deflategate is finally over. Judge Richard Berman has ruled. Tom Brady has won. And the NFL and Roger Goodell have lost, again.

During the summer, it surely seemed like Tom Terrific was done for. It seemed like the NFL and Ted Wells had all the evidence they needed to put Number 12 in the Hall of Shame; then came the Wells Report. An outrageous 243-page document that seemed like it was saying the same thing over and over again. “More probable than not” Brady knew about the deflation of the footballs used in the AFC Championship game on January 18th is the most famous line from the report and for good reason. How does “general knowledge” with zero evidence get a player suspended for 4 games and get an organization fined 1 million dollars and lose them 2 draft picks? To be short, it shouldn’t do any of that. Judge Berman has sited that one of his major reasons for suspending Brady was that the league didn’t inform Brady that he could be suspended for equipment tampering and that applying the steroid policy to this case was in short not fair. It seemed like most of Berman’s reasoning for vacating the suspension was unfairness handed down by the league and the Commissioner, which is 100% valid. Throughout this whole process it seemed like Brady was being dealt an awful hand. With the investigation process, which he could have cooperated better in, the harsh suspension, Goodell picking himself to be the arbitrator in Brady’s first appeal, and finally the NFL not willing to budge on any settlement talks because they were too prideful to give an inch to the NFLPA were all examples of this unfairness. But now, the NFL has lost again. They will surely appeal Judge Berman’s decision but for now you can chalk this up to another failure in court for the league. Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and Bountygate are all examples of a court finding that the NFL was wrong. The biggest thing in this case however, is that the league handpicked the court that the appeal process would take place. And they were still defeated.

For now, TB12 will play week 1, a major win for the Patriots and Patriots Nation. “#FreeBrady, #ExonerateBrady, and #NoBradyNoBanner” can now be set to rest. And you can expect to definitely see a furious Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are already terrifying enough on the sidelines. Brady took on the league and won. His texts and emails were released. He was dragged through the mud. He felt like the league had it out for him and the organization. Get ready for a Brady like you’ve never seen before. However, the NFL and their fans now have a fresh start to the 2015 season. Of course the NFL will appeal but for now, justice has been served. And it has been served correctly. Happy 2015 Season Opener NFL fans, enjoy it.

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Have we already seen the best of Russell Wilson?

Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

There comes a point when a pro athlete becomes so high profile that sometimes they can’t deal with that amount of fame. How many times have we seen a pro athlete make it to the top and become complacent? A story all to familiar in pro sports, and Wilson is heading into that same uncharted territory. Just a year after making it to the Super Bowl and bringing a title back to Seattle. Wilson found himself on the goal line of the end zone ready to repeat as Super Bowl champion. If Wilson is as bright and calculated as he tries to appear how come he didn’t have the football I.Q to change that play at the line of scrimmage? Even if he didn’t tell anyone else on the offense what was happening, he could have took that snap and kept it himself on a run up the gut for the win. That lack of ability to understand the circumstances and have the moxie and guts to break the chain of command is what makes Super Bowl Winners. Notice how winners is plural. Do you honestly think Tom Brady or Eli Manning would of let that play happen? Not to mention Wilson has numerous distractions going on in his personal life. He is currently now dating singer Ciara, how many times have we seen a high profile athlete date a high profile celebrity and regress on the field? Justin Verlander was an outstanding pitcher for the Detroit Tigers until he reached the summit and landed Kate Upton. That same formula could end up hurting Wilson down the stretch. Finally, lately as he becomes more of a public figure you can tell Wilson is trying to unveil his true self. Which seems to be a religious freak. His attempt to say his “spirit water” helped him recover from a concussion in a playoff game is only a comment that a religious nut job would make. The guy seems like a great guy at first glance, but so do most politicians as well. Most at endzoneblog.com are not sold on Russell Wilson and it will be interesting to see if he falls short or exceeds expectations this upcoming season.

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After an AFC East shake-up, how will the Defending Champs fare in 2015?

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

For pretty much every year since the turn of the century the AFC East has been dominated by one team: the New England Patriots. With the exception of a couple of fluke years in the early 2000’s and the 2008 season that saw Matt Cassel take the helm, the Patriots have controlled the AFC East. This is no doubt due to the dynamic duo that is Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Possibly the greatest coach-quarterback combo the NFL has even seen, Belichick and Brady almost effortlessly have their way with their division year in and year out. However, with some significant departures in the offseason for New England and the Deflategate suspension looming, are the stars aligning for the rest of the AFC East? Some massive revamps and key additions have a lot of people thinking: yes.

For starters, each team signed or traded for players that are arguably the best at their respected position. The Buffalo Bills traded for Lesean McCoy, possibly the best running back in the league over the past three years. Last year, Shady was only second to Demarco Murray in touches with 312 carries and third in yards with 1,319. However, they gave up Kiko Alonso, by far their best linebacker and a leader on the Bills scary defense. They also gained a head coach that appears in headlines more than most celebrities, Rex Ryan. The former Jets coach promises to deliver an exciting and “Super Bowl bound” season for the Bills Mafia. The Miami Dolphins attracted Ndamukong Suh, a force to be reckoned with along the defensive front. Suh, one of the best interior defensive lineman and one of the dirtiest players in the league, figures to add to an already formidable front seven that boasts Cameron Wake on the outside. Although, a questionable secondary and linebacker corps could prove costly for the Fins when the season begins. While also signing quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a 4 year $96 million dollar contract extension, the Dolphins look to be a threat to the Patriots for years to come. However, another turnover at the wide receiver position that saw the departure of Charles Clay (replaced with Jordan Cameron), Mike Wallace (replaced with Kenny Stills), and Brian Hartline (replaced with Devante Parker) might be enough to see a slump from Tannehill at the start of the season that could jeopardize their chance at a playoff spot. The New York Jets saw an offseason that lost Rex Ryan but gained a defensive genius in Todd Bowles, the former Arizona defensive coordinator. They also landed a few toys for Bowles to play with in the secondary, namely Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine. Reuniting Cromartie and Revis is huge not only for the Jets, but the fans as well. The past couple of seasons have been tumultuous for the Jets faithful and a revamped secondary and intimidating front seven, even without Sheldon Richardson, promises an improved season. Of course, there are problems with the quarterbacks in the AFC East, specifically with the Bills, Jets, and surprisingly the Patriots. The Bills have named 5-year vet Tyrod Taylor their starter, but he has yet to prove himself as a solid player. The Jets seemingly always have a problem at quarterback and now with Geno Smith out for at least 6 weeks due to a fractured jaw courtesy of his own teammate, Ryan Fitzpatrick looks to lead the Jets but uncertainty surrounds him, along with the entire Jets offense. And now, the Patriots; Tom Brady will eventually lead the defending champs but time will tell

when he will. Until then, Jimmy Garropolo gets thrust into the spotlight. After a decent 2014 season where he showed glimpses of talent, Patriots personnel feel like he will be the guy to eventually replace Tom Terrific. He has shown promise throughout this preseason but has also shown weaknesses. Depending on the Deflategate decision, the Patriots could start the season with a question mark at the quarterback position for the first time since the Belichick era began.

Time seems to be the tell all with the Patriots and the AFC East. When will Brady start for the Pats? Will the acquisitions made be enough to impact the Pats run at another title? Is this the year another AFC East team knocks off the champs? Only time will tell and answer these questions. However, one thing is certain: Buffalo, Miami, and New York are all gaining ground in the hunt to take down the winners of Super Bowl 49.

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Colin Kaepernick’s time might be wearing thin:

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Photo credit: Instagram @Kaepernick7

When Colin Kaepernick supplanted Alex Smith for the starting quarterback job it was in a similar fashion as the way Tom Brady took Drew Bledsoe’s spot. Kaepernick was a back up only starting because starter Alex Smith was hurt and the Niners needed someone to fill the void. The thing is Kaepernick was starting to gain some momentum as a player in practice and was also gaining respect internally from teammates. He eventually would lead the team to Super Bowl XLVII where the Niners would fall just short to the Ravens on the big stage. Since that moment the guy who had hand picked Kaepernick head coach Jim Harbaugh has left town. Several guys from last years team have retired or left the team via free agency leaving Kaepernick behind to clean up the mess that is going on in San Francisco. Kaepernick struggled all last year with his supporting cast in town, how do you think he is going to fare this time around without them? The fifth year player has really struggled trying to fit into the mold of a traditional pocket passer. Yea we all know Kaepernick can beat you with his legs, but defenses are getting smarter and making him stay in the pocket and make all the throws. That formula has been disastrous for Colin Kapernick due to the fact that he tends to look uncomfortable dropping back and passing every play. In a traditional offense you want to take advantage of Kaepernick’s athleticism by calling bootleg passes out of i-formation, and sprint out passes out of your 4 wide receiver sets. This would allow Kap the ability to throw on the run or have the choice to keep the ball on a quarterback keeper. One thing is for certain the Greg Roman zone read offense will not be be there. Yea the Niners still occasionally run zone read, but it isn’t as effective as Roman’s system. Kaepernick will miss that down the stretch. Most of the Niners play calls in the preseason have been straight drop back passes out of shotgun and that doesn’t suit Kaepernick’s skill set  well. Look for him to stumble during the season passing wise. If it gets bad enough he could find himself in an RG3 type situation.

Note- In Kap’s defense he has never thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns. Still he has yet to pass for 25 TD’s in a season yet.

 

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Comparing the two best tight ends in pro football: Gronkowski vs Graham

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Photo credit: Angie Six

The two best tight ends in the National Football League are hands down Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. Both players coincidently entered the league in 2010 with Gronkowski being drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots. While Jimmy Graham was drafted in the third round by the New Orleans Saints. There are many similarities in both player’s games and even in their size and stature. Both Graham and Gronkowki stand around 6 feet 6 inches tall. Also both players are listed at 265 pounds which might be why when watching them play it’s like a mirror image. Statistically Gronkowski has been slightly better at finding the end zone amassing 54 touchdowns to Grahams 51. Yet Graham out produced Gronkowski in yards receiving 4,752 to Gronk’s 4,379. On any given year each one of these players could out produce the other one. You would have to think Gronk has the slight edge due to the fact he is catching passes from the great one in Tom Brady. That is mainly why Gronkowski edged out Graham last year in touchdown receptions 12 to 10. Those numbers might be shaken up due to the fact that Graham is now on the Seahawks. We still don’t know how Jimmy Graham is going to blend into that situation in Seattle. Expect him to be a much easier throw for Russell Wilson when things break down on a play though. That alone should pay dividends in Graham’s future. Both players are poised for a big season, now we get to see who wins the personal battle. While the players most likely don’t see it as competition. It is always fun from a fans stand point to compare and really analyze who is playing at the highest level. Regardless both these guys have been exceptional and are two of the best doing it.

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Changes around the league: New group of quarterbacks at the helm

Giants at Redskins 9/25/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

A few different NFL teams announced their regular season starting quarterbacks today. The Washington Redskins elected to give Kirk Cousins the nod after demoting Robert Griffin the 3rd. A good move for the Redskins because Griffin had been really struggling as a passer at the NFL level. Often falling back on his strong running skills instead of trusting himself as a passer. Kirk Cousins has virtually no running skills as quarterback. He is a pure pocket passer, so in a sense he is the polar opposite of RG3. This mold of quarterback is usually a better fit at the NFL level because opposing defenses are typically better at stopping the run than the pass. Cousins being named the starter right now is the best move for the franchise. That is because it gives the team a chance to succeed with Cousin out the gate rather than RG3 stumbling a few games and Cousins having to replace him. Cousins gives the franchise a new face and essentially a new savior. Something the Redskins desperately needed to do similar to how a business rebrands itself. That new identity could be the first step in the right direction for the Washington Redskins and it was a move head coach Jay Gruden had to make. In Buffalo Tyrod Taylor was named the starting quarterback. This is despite the great effort put up by E.J Manuel. Manuel finished the preseason with the best numbers statistically for the Bills and recently helped the team trounce the Steelers in their last match. Yet it was Taylor’s smooth execution of that offense that led him to achieve starter status. Rex Ryan and Bills’ General Manager Doug Whaley both had high praise for Taylor and Taylor has earned it due to the hard work he has put in over the course of his career. Look out for both team’s performances with these new gunslingers at the helm.

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Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall make up talented wide receiver duo:

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

The New York Jets put together a talented receiving duo when they landed Brandon Marshall this past off-season. The Jets only had to give up a 5th round draft pick to acquire Marshall a very cheap price considering how productive Marshall has been in the past. They pair him next to Eric Decker who was acquired by the Jets a year earlier in free agency. In his one season with the Jets Decker has been serviceable contributing 5 touchdown receptions and 962 receiving yards to the Jets offense. With the addition of Marshall, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has two weapons that he can count on with the game on the line. In preseason action this have been very noticeable, the Jets are looking much better through the air. In fact Fitzpatrick was able to throw for 2 touchdowns against the Giants. One of those to Decker on a post route from the x receiver position. It’s clear that the Jets are looking to form a new identity under coach Todd Bowles. The team has moved on from Geno Smith as the starting quarterback and Fitzpatrick is clearly an upgrade at that position. The old Jets under Rex Ryan were a ground and pound team meaning they focused more on the run game. The Todd Bowles Jets have a little bit more finesse and much of that is do to the addition of Brandon Marshall. With everyone stating the NFL is a “passing league” now. The Jets made the right move by bringing in talented playmakers on the edges. Look for both of these players to see a spike in production but more so Marshall. After getting out of Chicago Marshall most likely will benefit from the fresh start. A new team and a brand new environment can reinvigorate a player and Marshall seemed to be getting burned out in Chicago. As the teams clear number 1 receiver he seems to have taking a liking to Fitzpatrick and is upbeat about football again. A recipe for success for the 10th year player out of Central Florida. Both players however will make up a large portion of the Jets offense and that is why they’re one of the best duo’s in the league.

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Andre Johnson will benefit from a change of scenery:

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Photo credit: Christopher Brown

The Indianapolis Colts got a heck of a free agent signing when they inked Andre Johnson to a 3 year 21 million dollar contract. The former Houston Texans receiver was exceptional during his time with the team contributing 7 seasons of at least 1,000 yards receiving. Now entering his 12th season Johnson will be catching passes from the best quarterback he has ever played with in Andrew Luck. The results have already been promising with Johnson catching a touchdown pass in the preseason against the Rams. What had to be most appealing for the Colts organization on that play was the fact that Andre Johnson was showing glimpses of what he used to be. Paired along with T.Y Hilton the Colts offense will be more dynamic than it has been in the past. They also added a proven veteran in Frank Gore, and return Deion Branch. All of these other offensive options will likely take pressure off Johnson and allow him to have an up year. Johnson had only three touchdown receptions last year and that number surely will go up this season. At the end of the day the new environment might be enough to help resurrect Johnsons career. He was clearly getting burned out mentally his final few season in Houston. This was evident by the fact at the end of his time there he asked to be released from the team a few different times. Maybe turning a new leaf might be what Johnson needed and from his body language it seems to be working. He might be someone to keep an eye on with a later round fantasy football draft pick. Any time you combine a 7 time Pro Bowl receiver with a top quarterback in the league good things are going to happen. The formula seems to be one that will pay dividends in the Colts future. Johnson will also reap the benefits.

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