Posts tagged National Football League
Monday Morning Glory: A-A-Ron having his worst season... and I love it!

After every Chicago Bears touchdown at Nisei Lounge, a friendly, comforting little dive bar tucked into Clark and Sheffield in Chicago’s bro-ey Wrigleyville neighborhood, the patrons - many of which donning the orange and blue - happily sing “Bear Down, Chicago Bears”, the proud fight song of the hometown team. Once the song gets to its second verse, however, the song changes from “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” to “Fuck Tom Brady, Fuck Tom”.

Now I don’t participate in the remix because it goes against my hidden-but-not-so-hidden-anymore man crush of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. But I’m impatiently waiting for Dec. 16th to arrive when the 8-3 NFC North-leading Bears host the arch-rival Green Bay Packers, so I can finally join in on the second verse with some lyrics of my own…

“FUCK AARON RODGERS! FUCK A-A-RON!”

Since breaking Chicago’s hearts in Week One with his improbable comeback in Lambeau, Rodgers and the Packers have gone 3-6-1, leaving them with only a 3 percent chance of making the playoffs. They’re tied for the easiest schedule remaining in football, with their hardest contest being the Bears match-up in three weeks, but while Rodgers thinks “with a little help” his team can win out and make the playoffs, the Packers look dead in the water in 2018, and Bears fans are enjoying every second that Packers fans are in pain.

The scapegoat has been head coach Mike McCarthy, who will likely be fired at season’s end despite a .621 winning percentage, a Super Bowl win and multiple trips to the NFC Championship Game. For years, McCarthy has been accused of running a stagnant offense, and that’s partially true, but McCarthy’s offense doesn’t mask Rodgers’ inconsistencies this year.

From SI:

Yes, Rodgers’s unique style, which few QBs have enough talent to call upon, has led to some of his most spectacular plays. But in the aggregate, it also creates the illusion of dysfunction around him. To television viewers, Rodgers runs around because his O-line breaks down. Or because, presumably, receivers aren’t getting open. And they’re not getting open because the scheme isn’t helping them. Sometimes this is the case. But just as often, the glitches aren’t coming from everyone around the quarterback, but from the quarterback himself.

Has McCarthy’s coaching decisions been baffling? Sure. Here the Packers line up in a jumbo set on 4th and inches and run the ball right into a waiting 10-man box, costing the Packers an opportunity to drive down the field and take the lead, and giving the Vikings the ball back with good field positioning.

But it’s not just McCarthy, or the depleted talent in Green Bay. Much of the Packers struggles fall on their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.

Rodgers completed 17 of 28 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown in last night’s 24-17 loss to the Vikings. He hasn’t looked well all season; despite already eclipsing 3200 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and throwing just one interception all year, Rodgers has been wildly inconsistent throwing the football On back-to-back plays late in the game with Green Bay needing 10 points to tie, Rodgers badly missed Equanimeous St. Brown on a throw into the turf, and then overthrew a wide-open Davante Adams in the endzone.

Aaron Rodgers doesn’t normally miss those throws. Those key plays we’ve grown accustomed to Rodgers making, aren’t being made. You can’t blame it on injury; he’s looked relatively healthy since Week Two. It may be the offense, the lack of talent surrounding him, father time, or all three… but you can’t sugarcoat it: Aaron Rodgers is having the worst season of his career, and his poor play will cost a lot of people their jobs after the season.

QUICK HITS

After two-and-a-half years of Hue Jackson (on top of three decades of ineptitude) and an 0-16 season, the Cleveland Browns deserve good things to happen to them. They took a step towards turning the corner Sunday with a 35-20 win on the road over in-state rival Cincinnati. The AJ Green-less Bengals looked like they have every game in which AJ Green has been inactive: terrible. I didn’t think they could look worse, and then Andy Dalton went out with a thumb injury, and the Bengals inserted Jeff Driskel (yes, THAT Jeff Driskel) in at quarterback. All the good things kept happening for Cleveland, and not only did they take advantage of it, they shoved it right back into their former coach's face.

After the ass-whupping, Browns QB Baker Mayfield got up to the podium and let his feelings be known about his old ball coach.

Good for Baker. He dealt with the stupidity of Hue starting Tyrod Taylor over him the first few games before he pulled the franchise out of the darkness in one half. The Browns now have back-to-back wins for the first time since 2014. Slowly, Cleveland football is returning to respectability.

And good for them to stick it to Hue. It was obvious during the taping of Hard Knocks that Hue - after one win in two seasons - was not for long in Cleveland. He got canned and went back to Cincinnati, a team the Browns had to play twice this season, knowing all their tricks and personnel, and STILL got blown out. Now there’s rumor Hue could be the one to FINALLY replace Marvin Lewis at the Bengals head coach. I hope I’m apart of the majority that hopes he gets the job, so Baker and the Browns can beat up on Hue twice a season for the foreseable future.

Wilson, Luck ELITE

I would like to personally apologize to two QBs from the 2012 Draft; one I’ve been a big fan of for years, the other I’ve disrespected for way too long.

Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck… I’m sorry.

The both of you are elite quarterbacks.

The Seahawks have battled everything from dysfunction to injury and everything in between to stay in the NFC Wild Card race, with Sunday’s 30-27 win in Carolina being the biggest so far for the 6-6 Seahawks. Trailing 27-20 with under four minutes left in the game, Seattle needed to convert on 4th and 3, or they give the ball back to the Panthers up 7. Forever clutch, Wilson took over, first on this 35-yard bomb to David Moore…

…and then on this huge third down pass to Tyler Lockett that set up Sebastian Janikowski for the game-winning field goal.

Before the season, I was hesitant to put Russell Wilson in that elite QB category with Brady-Brees-Rodgers, but the way he’s willed Seattle this season magnifies his importance to the team and the league. Over Seattle’s NFC dominance, it was easy to forget Wilson’s ability to make special plays on every snap because of the presence of so many other special players - Lynch, Bennett, Wagner the Legion of Boom, etc. - but now that most of those players are gone, Wilson stands alone as the star in Seattle, and he’s shining brighter than ever this season.

Also, he does sweet shit like this…that even the most dedicated Future fan can’t hate on.

Now it’s time for Andrew Luck…

I’ve never found Luck to be a special quarterback. GOOD, for sure, but not special. After a year away, he’s making me eat my words… and quietly inserting himself into the League MVP conversation. Luck completed 30 passes for 343 yards and 3 touchdowns, becoming the first to throw for 3 or more TD’s in eight consecutive games since Tom Brady did so in 10 games back in 2007. It was Luck’s 20th comeback win, his tenth comeback of 10+ points. Oh yeah, and he caught a pass Sunday. Probably not ideal for a man coming back from shoulder surgery, but cool as hell.

The Colts have won five straight, and not only are they in Wild Card contention in the AFC, a loss tonight by the Texans would put them a game behind Houston in the division with one more game between the two teams in two weeks. The Colts are in good position to sneak up and surprise some teams in December.

79th and Halas - "Three Up, Three Down" feat. JR Bang

JR Bang of the First Black Champ podcast joins Scott and Flows to celebrate the Bears’ sweep of the divisional gauntlet, and discuss the keys to the Bears’ success before previewing Sunday’s game against the New York Giants

79th and Halas EP 107 - Growing Pains
Nagy Wonka and the Monster Factory

After a shaky beginning to the season, Mitchell Trubisky flashed his potential by posting passing touchdowns leading the Bears to a 48-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a huge win for the Monsters of the Midway as they establish their place as one of the top teams in the league heading into an early bye week. Here are my takeaways from this week.

Trubisky is taking form

As you may have noticed, I’m a huge critic of Trubisky’s play. It’s not that he doesn’t have the ability to be elite; he just hadn’t embraced the realization. Well toss all that shit out the window because the kid dropped the mic at Soldier Field this Sunday.

For the most part of the game, Trubisky was clean in the pocket, calmly dicing up a poor Buccaneers secondary. He showed no signs of “happy feet” and remained poised under pressure. He progressed through his reads, although many of the plays appeared to be designed to disguise the first read by leading defenders onto decoys. Still, Trubisky tossed some absolutely gorgeous passes to receivers in full stride, proving that he can be an elite QB.

Hell, he damn near looked like an MVP candidate. But we gotta chill… it’s only one game.

The Real MVP?

Although Trubisky isn’t knocking on the MVP door, another Chicago Bear is breaking it off the hinges. The most dominant player in the NFL, Khalil Mack, proved his worth yet again, posting another sack and forced fumble, putting him at five sacks and four forced fumbles for the year. There is no doubt that Khalil Mack will more than likely walk away with the Defensive Player of the Year award, but can he pull off the nearly impossible task of securing the MVP trophy on the defensive side of the ball? 

The last defensive player to win MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Taylor single handedly changed the face of football as the pioneer of the 3-4 outside linebacker and the sole catalyst for the creation of the H-back position. Don’t get me wrong, Khalil Mack probably won’t cause of the creation of two new positions, but the way he tears shit up on a frequent basis, he just may change the forefront of offensive scheming. There isn’t a player in the NFL this year that has made more of an impact for a franchise than Khalil Mack, and I’m pretty sure that is what the league’s overall MVP award is suppose to emphasize.

Forgotten Hero?

Overall, the Bears look like an entirely new team. From the trippy two quarterback “Willy Wonka” formation, to the high-powered wide receiver depth, there are definitely no signs of John Fox left on this franchise. Unfortunately, the backbone of Fox’s basic offense and arguably the backbone of the Bears franchise prior to the hiring of Matt Nagy has been a forgotten soldier during the Bears recent success.

Jordan Howard has appeared to play second fiddle to Tarik Cohen throughout the first quarter of the season. During the landslide victory against the Bucs, Howard only recorded 11 carries, and those were all in garbage time during the second half. It doesn’t appear that the Bears are willing to completely do away with the under-appreciated workhorse - he’s played in 65.31% of the Bears snaps this season, but Cohen has been the hot hand that Nagy wants the ball in.

Based on the pace of the offense , It just seems that Cohen is more fit for the various schemes that Nagy has designed. This was an issue that everyone knew would arise before the season, and Sunday showed that the Bears may not need their dominant running back as much as we think. I wouldn’t be surprised if the young star was shipped away in the upcoming weeks.

Tough trail ahead

After the bye week, the Bears will face their true test as they travel south to face a surprisingly competitive Miami Dolphins, followed by a huge battle at home against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. If the Bears can withstand those two challenges, a Super Bowl could be in the near future.

(cover photo by Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

79th and Halas EP 104
Ball Don't Lie EP 21 - Season 2 Premiere

The boys are back for another season of Ball Don't Lie! They're going by Random Acts of Podcast's Amp to discuss week one of the NFL season, and Xavier from The Looking Glass joins to chat about Insomniac's Spider-Man for the PS4!

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Joe: @Flowsandolini
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Amp: @Ampaveli
Follow Xavier: @BlackIce392

The Bear truth: how will Chicago overcome the week 1 Tragedy

Yeah....that shit happened.....

The heart of Bears fans were ripped out of their chest by the one legged Aaron Rodgers who rallied the Green Bay Packers from a 20-point deficit to a win over the Chicago Bears. If you watched this game, you witnessed a historic NFL Films moment. This was by far the most amazing thing that football Jesus, aka Aaron Rodgers, has ever done.

 But enough of praising that cheesehead, let’s talk about these dam Bears.....

What in the entire fuck happened after halftime? Did everyone forget that this was a road game at Lambeau Field? Did they really think a 20-point lead was all that it took to beat one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time!?

There’s so much to be said about Sunday’s loss, but the real question is how can the Bears bounce back from this L?

Game Management

In the end, it all starts from the top. As a new head coach, Matt Nagy has to learn how to effectively manage the game from a coaching perspective. The Bears ran a underwhelming total of 21 designed rushing plays throughout the entire game. In which, six of these runs came in the the third quarter after the Packers were only down by one score.

That’s so fucking unacceptable. Why wait until it’s a one score game to burn the clock out? Especially when you have one of the most effective running backs in the NFL....

Execution

It’s the first game of the season and many players are still shaking off the rust from a long offseason. It’s still not an excuse to play beneath your full potential. The Bears defense played beyond expectation in the first half (Khalil Mack...say less, Sheesh....)

The second half, not so much....Granted, there wasn’t much that the defense could do on certain plays (I.e. that gorgeous fucking pass from Rodgers to Geronimo Allison could not be defended.)

But a dropped interception by Kyle Fuller that could have sealed the game is unacceptable. Giving an injured, immobile Aaron Rodgers nearly six seconds in the pocket to expose the blown man coverage by Prince Amukamara that led to a 75-yard Touchdown by Randall Cobb is UNACCEPTABLE!

Offensively, Mitchell Trubisky has to play better. He looked like a franchise quarterback in the first half, passing 18 for 21 with one rushing touchdown. In the second half, he looked like a rookie, blindly running around the pocket and overlooking a WIDE OPEN Trey Burton. Running into your own offensive linemen and causing your own fumble is UNACCEPTABLE. I understand that this was probably the biggest game of Trubisky’s short career, but you have to develop nerves of steel  and maintain your elite level of play. Step that shit up Mitch.

Perseverance

In the words of the late Dennis Green, the Bears are who we thought they were. They’re young and make rookie mistakes, but they are very fucking good. The defense is a force to be reckoned with, and once the offense begins to truly click, score boards will light up like Christmas trees. You don’t just walk into Lambeau and dominate the Packers with shear dumb luck.

They can’t allow this loss to destroy their season. Learn from the past mistakes and perfect the craft of winning, Chicago. Green Bay is in the past. Seattle is next.

79th and Halas EP 103 - Fuck 12
The Barber's Chair 2018 NFL season predictions
  Joe Lewis Scott Lewis Pierce Roberson Cory Harris Abraham Odeh Alec Lifschultz
Super Bowl champion Bears Saints Steelers Packers Saints Saints
NFC North Bears Vikings Vikings Packers Vikings Bears
NFC South Saints Saints Saints Falcons Saints Saints
NFC East Eagles Eagles Eagles Giants Giants Eagles
NFC West Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams
NFC Wild Card Packers/Falcons Bears/Falcons Bears/49ers Bears/Saints Panthers/Bears Falcons/Packers
AFC North Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers
AFC South Texans Texans Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Titans
AFC East Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patrots Patriots
AFC West Chargers Chargers Chiefs Chargers Chargers Chargers
AFC Wild Card Jaguars/Chiefs Jaguars/Chiefs Texans/Chargers Browns/Chiefs Texans/Chiefs Chiefs/Texans
NFC Champion Bears Saints Rams Packers Saints Saints
AFC Champion Patriots Patriots Steelers Steelers Chargers Patriots
79th and Halas - Return of the Mack
2018 NFC Playoff Outlook

Every season we tend to see around five new teams emerge during the season and make their way into the playoffs.  Most of them are surprises too. 

Last season the Rams and Eagles took two giant premature steps forward.  I didn't expect much from either team last year but now they both have the appearance of perennial contenders.  An injury to Aaron Rodgers allowed for three NFC South teams to book a playoff ticket. 

A lot can happen so let's take a look at a few certain contenders along with some of those potential surprises.   

Tier 1: Locked In

New Orleans Saints
Minnesota Vikings
Los Angeles Rams

The Saints were one Stefon Diggs touchdown away from having a real shot at winning the Super Bowl last year.  No more wonders of how Adrian Peterson is going mesh with the offense. Mark Ingram will be suspended for the first four games but they have no problem making Alvin Kamara the focal point of the offense until then. Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith, and Ted Ginn Jr. are already a solid foundation but rookie Tre'Quan Smith adds even more raw speed.

Speaking of rookies, first round DE Marcus Davenport makes his way onto a stout defense led by sophomore CB Marshon Lattimore. 

The Vikings made all the way to the conference finals on the back of Case Keenum before getting embarrassed by the Eagles. They've been contenders for the past several seasons thanks to their elite defense so they have no concerns on that side of the ball. Their offense has gotten better every year and now it takes another step forward.

Replacing Keenum is Kirk Cousins, who's is a more willing runner and deep ball thrower. Dalvin Cook returns from an injury that derailed his rookie season after four games.  He possesses the best traits of both Jerick McKinnon and Latavis Murray and was actually on pace to lead the league in rushing at the time of his injury. 

Sean McVay was the blessing that Jared Goff and Todd Gurley needed. New life was injected into the Rams' passing game and the addition of Andrew Whitworth at left tackle gave Gurley some actual lanes to run through. Sammy Watkins was a great asset in the red zone but I think Brandin Cooks is an upgrade for the type of uptempo offense they run.

The defense lost Trumaine Johnson but added Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Sam Shields, and Ndamukong Suh so they should be all set. 

Tier 2: Not Far Behind

Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina Panthers
Green Bay Packers
Atlanta Falcons

The only reason I have the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles right here is because Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffrey are currently working their way back from injuries. If they're forced to missed time then that may cost them a couple of games. Regardless, their defense alone should win them games. I'm not concerned.

The Carolina Panthers have one of the most consistently disciplined defenses in the league regardless of who they plug in there. The offense tends to be a tad on the inconsistent side but everything is currently aligning. Greg Olsen and Curtis Samuel are back and healthy. Christian McCaffrey is expected to take a big leap this year as the projected three-down back.

On top of that, first-round rookie receiver DJ Moore was viewed by many as the most talented prospect in his position's draft class. If everything clicks, they could beat anybody.

Green Bay still had a chance to make the playoffs even with all of the time that Aaron Rodgers missed. Ted Thompson is no longer the GM so now they'll actually participate in free agency going forward.  Brian Gutekunst made that apparent with the signings of Muhammad Wilkerson and Jimmy Graham this offseason.  Graham has surely lost a step but he'll have no problem hauling in all those red zone targets that Jordy Nelson left behind.

From a fantasy perspective, their RB situation is messy. From a real-life perspective, they have three guys (Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams) that can start and produce on any given week. We all know their offense is a threat but their defense is sneaky good and is loaded with talent at all three levels. 

The Falcons' offense looked watered down in 2017 as they transitioned from a Kyle Shanahan offense to a Steve Sarkisian-led side.  Despite the step down, they still made the playoffs in a difficult division.  If they can get a better grasp on Sarkisian's scheme then they have all the pieces to return to form.  

Tier 3: Don't Be Surprised

New York Giants
Chicago Bears
San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals

In 2016 we saw the emergence of a stingy Giants defense that paved a way to the playoffs.  We didn't see that same defense in 2017.  The offense couldn't help them at all.  The entire receiving corps was depleted with injuries and there was zero semblance of a run game.  Now that 2016 team gets Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley.  I'm sure they're excited about a healthy Odell Beckham too. 

The Bears had a top 10 defense last year which a lot of people don't realize.  It's pretty impressive considering their offense was at the bottom of the league in terms of total plays ran. Jordan Howard has managed to be successful in vanilla schemes but now the training wheels are off in Matt Nagy's new offense.

Just like the Giants, they didn't have anybody to throw the ball to last season. Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller hope to aid Mitchell Trubisky make a leap similar to Jared Goff with his revamped team.

If I wrote this a couple months ago then I might have had the 49ers a tier higher. The hype surrounding them has been immense so I've tried to temper my expectations recently. The once elite defense has been a place mat in recent years but the front seven is young and promising. Richard Sherman also provides a type of intelligence and star power the team hasn't seen since Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman were together. Jerick McKinnon isn't as good between the tackles as Carlos Hyde but has a better knack for catching the ball which is what Kyle Shanahan is looking for.

The Cardinals could hover around 8-8 or even 9-7 this season, but they face a similar problem to the other teams in their tier. If everything goes right for the previous teams then the conference may be too crowded to let everyone into the playoffs. The Cardinals are probably one more year out from returning to prominence.

Their defense always lands in the upper half of the league, David Johnson is back, and they have a Hall of Famer in Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver. The glaring problem is the quarterback situation. Sam Bradford is talented enough to lead a playoff team but can never stay healthy for a full season.  Even if he is healthy, they may be too eager to get Josh Rosen on the field. Rosen will probably have the QB position set in stone by next season but Larry Fitz may be gone by then.

79th and Halas EP 101 - Bears season preview feat. JR Bang & Trey Bizzy
Why you should be taking the Cleveland Browns more seriously in 2018

I noticed something a couple years ago: the Cleveland Browns don't draft bad players; in fact, they usually find pretty good players. I'm talking Pro Bowl-level.

I was looking at old Browns rosters (back to 2012) and there are a lot of notable names. Below are former Browns players that ended up playing for playoff teams not long after they left Cleveland.  The year that team made the playoffs is also listed.  

  • T.J. Ward - DEN (2014,15)
  • Alex Mack - ATL (2016,17)
  • Ahtyba Rubin - SEA (2015,16)
  • Jabaal Sheard - NE (2015,16)
  • Joe Haden - PIT (2017)
  • Taylor Gabriel - ATL (2016,17)
  • Dion Lewis - NE (2015,16,17)
  • Tashaun Gipson - JAX (2017)
  • Frostee Rucker - ARZ (2014,15)
  • Jordan Cameron - MIA (2016)
  • Trevin Wade - NYG (2016)
  • D'Qwell Jackson - IND (2014)
  • Mitchell Schwartz - KC (2016,17)
  • Benjamin Watson - NO (2013)
  • Cameron Erving - KC (2017)

And this is just looking back to the 2012 roster. I didn't even include some guys because of them being primarily reserve players. Travis Benjamin isn't on here but he's currently on a Chargers team that are sleeper Super Bowl contenders this year. All the recent playoff years means that a lot of these guys were on the same Cleveland Browns roster. Why they didn't re-sign some of these guys is beyond me. Some of them were even Pro Bowlers before they left the team. 

What that list tells me is that other coaches can see the talent in Browns players and utilize their potential.  Cleveland can find talent but don't realize when they have it.  If they've seen all their ex-players bloom in different locations then maybe they'll learn to trust themselves more often.  I'm a firm believer that personnel continuity is one of the keys to a successful team.  If half your roster is hitting free agency every year then you're starting from scratch each offseason. It probably doesn't sound like I'm making a case for myself so let's get back on track. 

Things Going Right

QB/Receiver Corps

Tyrod Taylor doesn't get enough credit.  He's one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league, in my opinion.  He seldom turns the ball over and runs efficiently.  Some say he's a little too cautious but Sammy Watkins knows he can throw a deep ball.  He also led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs and you can't take that away from him.

The crazy thing is that he may not even be starting for the full season.  Baker Mayfield was selected with the first overall pick in this year's draft so Tyrod may not have a lot of breathing room.  Baker reminds me of Russell Wilson.  He's on the smaller side but is mobile and knows how to make plays.  He doesn't have the red flags that Johnny Manziel and Brandon Weeden had.  DeShone Kizer's big flaws last year were turnovers and being too eager with deep balls which is what ultimately decided games.  I don't think you have to worry about that with either Tyrod or Baker. 

NFL.com

NFL.com

They finally get Josh Gordon back for a full season since his record-breaking year in 2013.  He's often the best player on the field and can take over a game which Cleveland hasn't been able to say about a player in a long time.  They also managed to get Jarvis Landry in a trade from Miami.  Nobody in NFL history has more receptions in their first four years than Jarvis Landry.  Last year, Cleveland's top receiver was Duke Johnson who is great but he's the second-string running back.  Having Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon is a major upgrade for whatever QB is under center.  Tight end, David Njoku is also entering his second year.  He's a little raw but a freak athlete that's a mismatch for almost anybody in the league.  Kizer had trouble getting him the ball last year but Tyrod and Baker like tight ends.  Njoku even caught a TD from both guys in their opening preseason game. 

Secondary

Defensive backs Damarious Randall and Terrance Mitchell are two of the newest faces in Cleveland.  Randall was acquired in a trade with the Packers and Terrance Mitchell last played for Kansas City.  They're not household names but they have experience starting in playoff games which doesn't come around often in Cleveland.

Last year's first round pick now has the help of this year's 4th overall pick Denzel Ward, and second-year man Jabril Peppers returns as well.

cleveland.com

cleveland.com

Coaching

Hue Jackson is entering the third year with the Browns.  Having a lone win over the last two seasons isn't much to boast about but he hasn't inherited a team like this one.  He's not a bad coach. His coaching history with his former teams shows that.  Jackson being allowed back for a third year is a good thing.  He has a better grasp of his roster now.  This goes back to the continuity thing I was talking about.

Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator is another valuable addition to the team's offense.  He's making his way over from a Steelers team that created stars in Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Juju Smith-Schuster.  Jarvis Landry has already gone on record by saying that Haley has a lot more routes prepared for him than they did in Miami.  We're going to be seeing Jarvis all over the field this year instead of just the slot. 

Question Marks

Running Game

Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb are certainly an upgrade over Isaiah Crowell on paper.  Last year the coaching staff said they would try to get Crowell the ball more but that's hard when you're facing a deficit so early in the game.  I really wish Joe Thomas stayed around one more year so he could be apart of this unit.  There's not exactly much star power or veteran leadership when you look at the current crop of guys they have.

I hope their first preseason game wasn't any indication on the outlook of their season because they couldn't get anything going on the ground.  Hopefully Tyrod's running ability can help open things up.

CBS Sports

CBS Sports

Front Seven

They don't currently have anyone providing pressure up the middle which is a huge problem.  However,  I think guys like Myles Garrett, Jamie Collins and Mychal Kendricks are good enough to elevate the play of Carl Nassib and Nate Orchard.  Although they need help at defensive tackle, linebackers Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert were at the top of the NFL in tackles last season.  

Years to Come

The Browns have all the young talent in the world.  Now they just need to hang on to them.  The Jacksonville Jaguars are a good example of this.  They were also once the punchline of the NFL.  They got solid draft pieces in Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Yannick Ngakoue, and Dante Fowler.  Once they set their foundation, they were able to fill in the pieces with the free agent acquisitions of Calais Campbell and AJ Bouye.  Now they're the most feared defense in the league. 

The wins are coming.  They have four games every season scheduled against the Ravens and Bengals and nobody exactly has them pinned for deep playoff runs.  They get the Raiders and Jets in two of the first four weeks.  Losses against those teams means we really have a problem.  If the Cleveland Browns re-sign their studs and address the line of scrimmage in the upcoming drafts then the future  could be looking bright.

79th and Halas - The 100th episode
Is Big Ben trippin?
Getty Images

Getty Images

As you may know, from the month of May through August football fans are bored out of heir fucking minds from May until training camp starts in July. Once the draft ends, there isn’t shit going on besides mini camp drill highlights, wild sportscaster predictions and petty headlines.

In recent news, Ben Roethlisberger’s reaction to the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting quarterback Mason Rudolph in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft seems to be the most petty of headlines floating around. Although NFL draft analysts applauded the Steelers for plucking the talented quarterback off the board, Big Ben was baffled by the pick.

 “I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know you can get some really good football players that can help this team now," said Ben during an interview on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan.

Critics took his statement as a shot at Rudolph. Is Ben's statement a sign of fear? Is this a changing of the guard, marking the end of the Ben Roethlisberger era?

....hell naw...

This is Ben Roethlisberger we’re talking about here. Do you really think a Super Bowl-winning, 500 yard-a-game passing future Hall of Famer is worried about a rookie coming in to take his spot?

Absolutelty not!

Big Ben is trying win another Super Bowl so his crippled ass can retire. Clearly the Steelers aren’t trying to help him do that. Drafting ANOTHER quarterback in the 3rd round, after drafting one last year in the 4th and another one in the 3rd two years before does nothing for the immediate future.

The Steelers are a few players away from being the most dominant team in the AFC. They just lost the biggest focal point of their defense with Ryan Shazier’s injury, and saw their Pro Bowl Center Mike Pouncey leave for the Chargers in free agency. Where does a 3rd round quarterback help here? Is Josh Dobbs and Landry Jones not the answer? They’re basically the same quarterback as Mason Rudolph.

Don’t get me wrong, finding a franchise QB is about as hard as finding Boardwalk in McDonald's Monopoly, so I get the reason why they selected him, But if I was in Ben's shoes, I’d react the same way.

The Rustic GOAT: Is Tom Brady ruining his legacy?
Mark J. Rebilas USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady...just typing the name pisses me off….

This nigga had ONE job to do: beat the St. Louis Rams 17 years ago.  No one asked him to keep winning…

From 1999 to 2001, EVERYONE hated the greatest show on turf. They were just too good. The Rams needed to be stopped, and what better way for them to end their run than to lose in the biggest game of the year to a backup quarterback (ironically the same situation as Super Bowl LII) …who would have guessed that same backup quarterback would grow into the greatest quarterback of all time.

…but it’s time for him to hang up the cleats.

AP, Mark Humphrey

AP, Mark Humphrey

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt his ability to play.

Can Tom Brady make it to another Super Bowl this year? Absolutely.

Can Tom Brady win another Super Bowl this year? Absolutely

But…what if he doesn’t?....

Although he didn’t win the Super Bowl this year, he made it there. That’s not an easy feat, even for the invincible Patriots. Why not end your legacy at the Super Bowl? Brady is risking the possibility of ending his career on a mediocre season or injury. The Patriots offensive line is pure shit, and Tom isn’t built to take that beating, especially at 41 years old. I don’t give a fuck how vegan you are and how much yoga he does.

Also, can the Pats continue to dominate the NFL? Many NFL teams have stepped their game up during the offseason. Niggas ready to ball with the Patriots.  Although they’ve acquired one of the best running backs in college football in the draft along with a top offensive guard, the rest of their team has not significantly progressed. Unless Bill Belichick has some hidden tricks underneath that hoodie, Brady’s Cinderella ending could go up in flames.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

 *Sigh* Our last wave of NFL madness is unfortunately approaching. After the NFL Draft, the only excitement will be Mini Camp highlights. And who gives a fuck about that?

The Draft airs Thursday Night and everyone is curious to see who goes where. This should definitely be one of the more memorable or infamous drafts being that there are 5 potential Franchise Quarterbacks (Or Bust) in the mix.

Before we get into the details, Here’s five VERY bold predictions for this year’s draft.

Three Receivers will go in the first roundand have Trash careers

Who knows what the fuck These GM’s think about in the war room, but it seems like every year niggas jump out the window for mediocre Wide Receivers.

The Packers and Patriots find their Successors

Shit is gonna get real awkward at Lambeau and Gillette Stadium. and Metlife. The two best QB’s in the NFL find themselves in awkward situations when their organization bring in New faces to eventually replace them. Niggas can’t play forever. This is a young man’s game

The Bears add another future Hall of Fame linebacker

The writing is on the Wall. The Best linebacker in College Football will be on the board at 8. We’re about 10 years Overdue for a new Monster of the Midway. The time has come

Only 1 of the 5 elite prospect Quarterbacks will have a highly decorated career

Let’s face the Truth: Good quarterbacks are Rare. Very rare. No way in hell All 5 of these Top tier QB’s will be successful in the NFL. There will be one true star in this draft....or none at All

The Browns Blow it...again

This isn’t necessarily a bold statement, because it’s almost factual. The Browns suck at drafting Quarterbacks. I feel sorry for whoever is picked by the browns. He’s bound to bust regardless of how great of a player he may be. I think them niggas cursed.

Anything can happen in this year’s draft, But If I would guess, These would be the players selected in the first round:

Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

1. Browns: Sam Darnold (Quarterback, USC)

He’s been a beast for 3 straight years, he fits the complete stereotypical bill of an NFL QB. If you’re gonna gamble, go with consistency

2. Giants: Saquan Barkley (Running back, Penn State)

In Eli we trust! The Giants skip over their future and focus on the present by adding the most electrifying player of the draft. Do you understand how deadly the NYG offense is going to be by adding Barkley?.

3. Jets: Bradley Chubb (Defensive End, NC State)

Surprise mothafucka! ....well, not really.

The Jets love defense. Like, a lot. I can’t picture them passing up on the best pass rusher in the draft after losing two elite Linemen recently. They brought back McCown and signed Teddy Bridgewater. Taking a QB here would be smart, but come on, it’s the jets we’re talking about

4. Browns: Quentin Nelson (Guard, Notre Dame)

This pick just makes sense here. As a Bears fan I’m going to be real butt hurt over this shit, but it’s gonna happen. Joe Thomas just retired, they need a new insurance policy for their new QB.

AP

AP

5. Broncos: Josh Rosen (Quarterback, UCLA)

The Jay Cutler of the draft! No real Logic here. That nigga just has the “everything sucks” bratty ass face of a Broncos QB. I’m sure they’re gonna take him here at 5…and he’ll probably be a bust…

6. Colts: Derwin James (Safety, Florida State)

I’m sure they have their eyes on Quentin Nelson, but they will end up with (arguably) the best defender in the draft. And the colts defense sucks ass. Why not pair him with Malik Hooker?

7. Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick (Defensive Back, Alabama)

The Bucs just miss out on adding Derwin James, but they get a more Versatile Defensive Back in Fitzpatrick. From Nickel corner to Strong safety, Fitzpatrick does all that shit.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

8. Bears: Roquan Smith (Linebacker, Georgia)

I would love for the Bears to snag an OL here but only Nelson is worth such a high pick. The Bears are historically a linebacker organization. Restore the Monsters of the Midway by adding the best linebacker in college football.

9. 49ers: Calvin Ridley (Wide Receiver, Alabama)

I personally don’t think a receiver who doesn’t have the name “Julio Jones” or “Calvin Johnson” should go this high, but the hype train makes this kid a Top 10 pick. Jimmy G needs new toys, give him the best WR in CFB

10. Raiders: Tremaine Edmonds (Linebacker, Virginia Tech)

John Gruden will have a Field day with this Perfect Prototype. if his play transitions well in the NFL, This is gonna be an ugly combination of two of the most versatile linebackers in football.

11. Dolphins: Vita Vea (Defensive Tackle, Washington)

No he isn’t Ndamukong Suh, but this big bastard definitely has the ability to be a prime time run stuffer in the NFL

12. Bills: Josh Allen (Quarterback, Wyoming)

Don’t get me wrong, I love AJ McCarron signing with the Bills. He gets to do what he does best: Game manage.....but He isn’t the answer. He’s a Martyr for the future: which is Josh Allen. I think he’s going to be the most successful QB of this draft.

13. Redskins: Denzel Ward (Cornerback, Ohio State)

The Redskins will snag the top Corner in the draft, in hopes of making the next great Cornerback Duo with Josh Norman.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

14. Packers: Baker Mayfield (Quarterback, Oklahoma)

What? You don’t think they’ll pull it? I do...

How do you think Rodgers got to the Packers? He was drafted when Favre was a 36 year old starter. Football Jesus is turns 35 this year. Time to mold your next franchise QB. Plus, you put the humble pants on that nigga Mayfield by putting him behind the one of the Best QB in the NFL.

15. Cardinals: Josh Jackson (Cornerback, Iowa)

Elite cornerback tandems are the new “must haves” of the NFL, pairing Up Josh Jackson With Patrick Peterson is the Smart thing to do here

16. Ravens, DJ Moore (Wide Receiver, Maryland)

The Ravens doesn’t have ANY receivers. If they don’t address this issue early, they will find themselves in a bind. I don’t agree with getting him this early, but Mike Mayock has him as the #1 receiver in this draft. Most of the time he knows what the fuck he’s talking about

17. Chargers: Mike McGlinchey (Tackle, Notre Dame)

Defensively the Chargers are pretty solid. Time to invest in the offense. take the top Tackle in the draft and patch up that suspect offensive line.

18. Seahawks: Jaire Alexander (Cornerback, Louisville)

The Seahawks offensive line REALLY needs some work, but that defense is SUPER SUSPECT as of recently. No Richard Sherman, No Michael Bennett, questionable KamChallencor, The Legion of Whom? Restore the name by replacing Richard Sherman with an elite First round corner

19. Cowboys: Will Hernandez (Guard, UTEP)

The Cowboys are dicks and the hype train is moving fast for Hernandez. They’re going to cash out on an attempt make their offensive line the best in history. Don’t get me wrong, he comes off as a potential beast, but Adding him to an already ridiculous offensive line makes him better than he actually is.

20. Lions: Isaiah Wynn (Guard, Georgia)

Safe pick here. The Lions are going to bulk up the line as they prepare to get a running back in the 2nd round.

21. Bengals: Da’Ron Payne (Defensive tackle, Alabama)

This should be an easy pick for the Bills. A Violent top tier defensive tackle. This dude probably has the best hands of any defensive linemen in this draft. He has the versatility to play every position on the defensive line. If the Bengals go to a 3-4 defense, he can transition well.

22. Bills: Kolton Miller (Tackle, UCLA)

Bulk up your O-Line to protect your first round QB investment. Miller is a tall athletic natural left tackle. Orlando Brown would be a better pick here, but he fucked his reputation up at the combine with that subpar Performance.

Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

23. Patriots: Lamar Jackson (Quarterback, Louisville)

This is a bold prediction but fuck it! No one knows what kind of shit goes on under the hood of Bill Belichick. Bill keeps his Dynasty alive with this new age QB. This would be a scary pick for the Patriots.

24. Panthers: Cortland Sutton (Wide Receiver, SMU)

The Panthers love big WR’s and Sutton is exactly that. Pairing him with Devin Funchess could be an interesting duo.

25. Titans: Leighton Vander Esch (Linebacker, Boise State)

Mike Vrabel is the new head coach, so best believe that he is stacking the defense with a notable linebacker. Plus, he got a weird ass name, and niggas with weird ass names can ball

26. Falcons: Marcus Davenport (Defensive End, UTSA)

The Falcons released Adrian Claybourn this offseason, so they need to find a successor at defensive end, Davenport fits the bill.

27. Saints: Mike Geisecki (Tight End, Penn State)

....Jimmy Graham 2.0? Sean Payton’s thirsty ass is definitely gonna snatch this nigga off the board at 27

28. Steelers: Derrius Guice (Running back, LSU)

“ Run it again” - Mike Tomlin

The Steelers will run that bitch 40 times a game if they could, so RB’s have high value here. these franchise tags won’t keep going for Le’Veon Bell. Fam is a beast but running back shelf life is short lived. Draft a hungry hard runner in Guice.

29. Jaguars: Rahsaan Evans (Linebacker, Alabama)

The way for the Jags to continue their success is to Keep making that defense great. Paul Posluszny’s retirement leaves a big hole in the middle. Myles Jack and Telvin Smith are naturally outside linebackers. Let Evans Sit in the middle and do what he does best.

30. Vikings: Orlando Brown (Tackle, Oklahoma)

Despite the shitty combine performance, the Vikings snatch the top tackle in College Football to protect their 84 Million dollar Quarterback. Brown didn’t allow one sack last year, Ball don’t lie.

31. Patriots: Harold Landry (Defensive end, Boston College)

hard to see him falling this low in the draft, but his size makes him a “tweener” at defensive end. If he does fall this low, Bill definitely won’t pass on him. I can imagine him playing multiple spots in the Patriot’s weird ass defense.

32. Eagles: Connor Williams (Tackle, Texas)

Your Franchise QB is coming off a serious Knee injury. Protect that man!

Bear the pain, trade Jordan Howard
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears offseason has been a busy one. For the second time in 10 years, the Mccaskey family forked out big dollars for an elite WR, giving QB Mitchell Trubisky enough weapons to develop into an elite Player. The Bears offensive roster has upgraded tremendously, but there is one more move that the bears must make for the sake of the team...

That nigga Jordan Howard gotta go

Don’t get me wrong, Howard is a fucking beast! Averaging nearly 1,200 yard rushing seasons is no easy feat. He’s easily one of the Top 5 running backs in the NFL. But let’s face the truth: that won’t last long

Dominant power Running backs come and go every year. Remember When Eddie Lacy was good? How about Peyton Hillis? Alfred Morris?. There are VERY FEW runningbacks  that have a shelf life over 4 years, and those running backs can catch the football. Jordan Howard can’t do that.

Howard is a pro style running back. He will thrive best  in singleback & “I” formations, which the Bears will see less of with new coach Matt Nagy. Although, most of Howard’s great runs have come from outside zone plays, he lacks breakaway speed. His acceleration is great, but he’s overall slow as fuck and he definitely isn’t gonna get any faster as the years continue.

At best, Jordan Howard has about three good years left, meaning he’s at the peak of his career and he’s closing in on the end of his rookie contract. Why not trade him while his value is high? The Chicago bears can put him on the Block and possibly get a 2nd & 3rd rounder or even two 2nd round picks for him! 

So is Tarik Cohen the answer? Hell no. The kid is a beast, but he’s a tiny ass nigga. No way he can bare 20 carries a game for an entire season. If someone make that trade this year, the Bears can/should draft a younger, more versatile back with breakaway speed such as Rashad Penny, Derrius Guice, Sony Michel,  even Nick Chubb.

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