1 New England Patriots (12-4) 2 Buffalo Bills (10-6) 3 New York Jets (7-9) 4 Miami Dolphins (5-11)
The Jets did not make any major coaching changes this offseason, retaining HC Adam Gase, OC Dowell Loggains, and DC Gregg Williams.
The Jets reshaped their weapons for Sam Darnold this offseason, losing three veterans and bringing in a number of free agents and draft picks. GM Joe Douglas opted not to re-sign RB Bilal Powell who the Jets drafted in 2011, and he remains a free agent. Most significantly, Douglas allowed his top offensive weapon in WR Robby Anderson to walk to Carolina on a 2 year, $20.0 MM deal, creating a void at outside receiver. The team has also not re-signed WR Demaryius Thomas, who filled in for Quincy Enunwa last season, and he remains a free agent.
The biggest change that the Jets made to their personnel this offseason was along the offensive line, and as such there were a number of veteran casualties. LT Kelvin Beachum started for the Jets from 2017 to 2019, but he seems to have regressed, and he remains a free agent. The Jets also let C Ryan Kalil go, who unretired to snap for Sam Darnold last offseason but disappointed and got injured, and he remains a free agent. RG Tom Compton was forced into action last season with the injury to Brian Winters, and he, as is characteristic of his NFL career thus far, struggled massively in run blocking and pass pro, but he projects to compete anyway next year for San Francisco on a 1 year deal. Joe Douglas and Adam Gase never expressed interest in RT Brandon Shell for the long term, benching him for the raw Chuma Edoga early in 2019, so it was not a surprise to see the Jets let Shell go to start for Seattle on a 2 year contract.
The Jets mostly kept their defense in tact this offseason, only losing two key pieces. EDGE Brandon Copeland left for New England on a 1 year contract, which is not a surprising location, as Copeland is a great utility player, functioning as a rush linebacker, an off-ball linebacker, and a core special teamer for the Jets in 2019. Similarly, Joe Douglas has not re-signed the versatile FS Rontez Miles, who has played single-high safety, box safety, and a key special teams role during his seven-year Jets tenure, and he remains a free agent.
The Jets cut CB Trumaine Johnson, which was virtually a no-brainer after two injury-plagued seasons in which his lack of speed was frequently exposed. The only real decision was whether to cut Johnson immediately, which would have resulted in a $12.0 MM dead cap hit in 2020, or to designate Johnson as a post-June 1 cut, which would have resulted in a $4.0 MM dead cap hit in 2020 and a $8.0 MM dead cap hit in 2021. Joe Douglas opted for the latter, meaning that the Jets saved a total of $11.0 MM by cutting Johnson in 2020. Grade: A
The Jets cut FS Darryl Roberts in mid-March. The Jets had high hopes for Roberts following the 2018 season, prompting them to sign him to a three-year contract with an out after one year. Roberts had a rocky first eight games of the season at cornerback before injuring his calf and being benched in favor of Maulet, Austin, and Canady. Roberts remained a special-teams asset and good safety depth in December, but ultimately GM Joe Douglas decided he could cut Roberts, save $6.0 MM, and look elsewhere for a replacement. Grade: B
Greg Van Roten
Jets GM Joe Douglas used to work in Baltimore, where he was supposedly very influential in the decision to draft QB Joe Flacco, so this signing is far from surprising. While Joe Flacco may be trending down in his play, $1.5 MM feels like a bargain for the chance at solid veteran insurance for Sam Darnold. However, his neck surgery will supposedly keep him out for the opening of the season. Grade: B
After the draft, the Jets signed RB Frank Gore to a 1 year, $1.1 MM deal to ensure that he will play his 16th season in green and white. Gore is a physical back who played under Jets HC Adam Gase in San Francisco in 2008 and in Miami in 2018. Gore can take some of the pressure off of starting RB Le'Veon Bell in 2020 as the Jets move towards a "runningback by committee" system. Grade: B
The Jets-Ravens connection proved strong again with the signing of WR Breshad Perriman. Perriman was a first-round pick for the Ravens in 2015 while current Jets' Director of Player Personnel Chad Alexander was with Baltimore, and though he never really produced at a high level there, he had a resurgence in 2019 for the Buccaneers. Especially in November and December, where he performed at a 1000-yard rate projected over a whole season, Perriman proved to be a legitimate outside option across from Mike Evans with Chris Godwin in the slot. Perriman is a big, athletic receiver who projects to be well-worth the $6.5 MM deal to start on the outside. Grade: B
Yet again, the Jets signed a former Ravens player, re-signing LG Alex Lewis, who played 2016 through 2018 with Baltimore before GM Joe Douglas traded for him in the 2019 offseason. Lewis stepped in for Kelechi Osemele last season and was a serviceable starter. Lewis is good in pass pro, versatile, and a good zone fit as a guard. However, Lewis could touch up on his penalties and overall run blocking for 2020. GM Joe Douglas only gave Lewis a 3 year, $18.6 MM deal which actually has an out after 1 year, which seems like a solid price to get another look at a 28-year-old guard who might be part of the team's future. Grade: B
The Jets' biggest free-agent singing in 2020 in terms of guaranteed money was former Broncos' C Connor McGovern at $18.0 MM. McGovern is an athletic lineman with experience at guard and center. He is a powerful center, and that serves him well in the run game. However, McGovern has a weak anchor and inconsistent pad level and leverage in the pass game. For this reason, despite the need at center, Joe Douglas' decision to commit two years to a center who is, perhaps, below average in pass pro is worthy of scrutiny. Grade: C
The biggest heavily-scrutinized acquisition that the Jets made in 2020 was probably signing former Seahawks RT George Fant to a 3 year, $27.3 MM contract. Fant functioned primarily as a swing tackle and as a sixth offensive lineman in Seattle, as he could not see the field as a starter over Germain Ifedi. Fant remains a very raw pass protector in terms of his anchor and the fluidity of his kickslide, and his ability in the run is only theoretically a strength in zone blocking. While Fant's contract has an out in 2021, it is a bit strange to see him making a similar salary to Bryan Bulaga and Halapoulvaati Vaitai. Grade: D
The Jets were patient in re-signing their own free agents, which probably helped get good value retaining EDGE Jordan Jenkins. Despite notching 15 combined sacks over the past two seasons, Jenkins only got $3.9 MM from the Jets. The sack number is a bit misleading, though, due to a high quantity of "coverage sacks" and a relatively modest pressure rate. However, Jenkins is a fine run defender, and he'll slot in as EDGE #1 again for the bets in 2020. Grade: B
The Jets also acquired a former Raven on defense with LB Patrick Onwuasor, and they only paid $2.0 MM to bring him in. Onwuasor is an undersized linebacker but a good linear athlete, and while he struggles reading offensive cues and getting off of blocks to stop the run, he is a really good coverage player with the ability to get home as a pass rusher. Onwuasor has played next to CJ Mosley before, and he could potentially contribute in subpackage and base 4-3 looks, in addition to in a depth capacity and on special teams. Grade: B
With the cuts of Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts, GM Joe Douglas decided to fill a starting cornerback spot with former Colts CB Pierre Desir on a 1 year, prove-it deal. Desir lacks longspeed, but he is a long, physical corner with decent short-area quickness. However, Desir lacks refinement in press and zone. With that said, $4.0 MM is a reasonable price to get a fill-in outside cornerback in 2020. Grade: B
This signing probably didnt get much national coverage, but re-signing CB Arthur Maulet could pay huge dividends for the Jets in 2020. In 2019, Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts failed to hit expectations, forcing Maulet, Nate Hairston, and rookie Blessuan Austin into the outside cornerback rotation. Maulet is the only one of that group who was not benched for performance reasons. For a mere $0.9 MM, retaining a guy in Maulet who is familiar with the defense who will compete to start in 2020 is seemingly a no-brainer. Grade: A
Instead of making another draft choice, the Jets decided to trade pick 211 for former Colts CB Quincy Wilson. Wilson, a former second-round pick, was a raw prospect coming out of Florida, and his penalties and lack of zone instincts followed him to the pros and led to his benching. However, Wilson is a big, long, and athletic corner, and at only 23 years of age, it makes sense that GM Joe Douglas wants to bring him on board to compete in an iffy cornerback room. Grade: C
This signing went somewhat under-the-radar, but Jets fans were thrilled when the team retained DB Brian Poole to man the slot on a 1 year, $5.0 MM contract. Poole is a good run defender with an ability to rush the passer, and he had a career year in coverage in 2019. Brian Poole is a good fit for Gregg Williams' defense, so retaining him to start in 2020 for a mere $5.0 MM seems to be a good value. Grade: B
The eleventh pick, Louisville T Mekhi Becton, was my favorite acquisition that the Jets made during the 2020 offseason. While there were other options on the board, namely Tristan Wirfs, Henry Ruggs, and Ceedee Lamb, that the Jets presumably could have considered, Becton was the exact player I thought the Jets should take when he fell to 11. The first thing that stands out about Becton is his massive size, as he's 6'7", 364 lbs, with a monstrous 83-inch wingspan. Becton, however, is much more than a heavy lineman, as he defies the norm with his exceptional 5.1-flat movement skills. Becton is a hulking run blocker who is inexperienced but a fluid mover in pass pro. Becton projects to replace Kelvin Beachum and slide in at left tackle immediately in his rookie season. Grade: A
Wanting to add more picks to build the Jets in his image in his first year as GM, Joe Douglas opted to move down from 48 to 59 in the second round. This was a costly move, as it caused the Jets to miss out on AJ Epenesa and Darrell Taylor, but the Jets managed to grab a falling Senior Bowl standout in Baylor WR Denzel Mims. Mims is a height-weight-speed freak with good length, hands, and run-blocking toughness. Mims should slot in as a starting outside receiver across from Breshad Perriman in year one. Grade: B
The Jets' first third-round pick of 2020 was a real surprise to many fans, as although the team already had arguably the best safety tandem in football with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the Jets drafted California FS Ashytn Davis with the 68th-overall draft selection. Davis is a freak athlete who played single-high safety, box safety, and even slot cornerback at Cal and would almost definitely have been drafted significantly higher but for teams' inability to medically check his groin post-surgery. It's possible that Gregg Williams will utilize Davis as a big nickel defender this year, but this selection could also give the Jets flexibility if Marcus Maye, who is a free agent in 2021, or Jamal Adams, with whom the Jets are supposedly far apart on a long-term contract, depart. Grade: B
Despite having a starting EDGE tandem consisting of Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham and losing Brandon Copeland to New England, the Jets did not add outside talent to the position group before the draft, forcing GM Joe Douglas to pick Florida EDGE Jabari Zuniga at 79 overall. Zuniga is a good linear athlete with a decent ability to set the edge and with some interior versatility, and he could maybe project to replace Jordan Jenkins as a starter in 2021. However, Zuniga struggles with stiff hips and slow reaction time at the snap, and plus he missed most of the 2019 season with ankle injuries. The Jets probably hit the right position with Zuniga, who should factor into the pass-rush rotation with Jenkins, Basham, and 2019 UDFA Kyle Phillips, but it's really hard to justify drafting Zuniga with guys like Jonathan Greenard, Terrell Lewis, and DJ Wonnum still on the board. Grade: C
With his first day-3 selection as GM, Joe Douglas chose Florida RB La'Mical Perine. Perine is a physical runner with some receiving versatility out of the backfield. However, Perine doesn't really offer very much in terms of speed or vision, and drafting a RB instead of going offensive line, pass rush, receiver, or cornerback when Le'Veon Bell was already in the fold was a curious move. Grade: D
The second of the Jets' fourth-round picks probably stirred up the most intrigue, as most casual fans probably didn't expect the Jets to draft a quarterback. With that said, the Jets have gone a combined 0-6 over the past two seasons in games that Darnold did not start, and at this time David Fales was slated to be the backup quarterback, so drafting FIU QB James Morgan in the fourth round, which I thought was a value anyway, was a good choice. Morgan is a thick quarterback with a live arm with developmental quarterback potential. Grade: B
With their third pick in the fourth round, the Jets chose a player with the potential to start soon on the offensive line in Charlotte T Cameron Clark. Clark is a powerful lineman who started at left tackle in his rSo, rJr, and rSr seasons and has good short-area quickness despite his 5.29 forty. Some have floated Cameron Clark as a potential convert to guard for the Jets due to his sloppy pass-pro footwork. Grade: B
The Jets went corner in round 5, taking Virginia CB Bryce Hall at 158 overall. Hall is a long, tall corner who moves well, has zone instincts, and contributes in the run game. However, Hall's struggles in press and off-man coverage schemes probably project him better as a safety in the NFL rather than as a corner, which doesn't seem to be a need with Adams, Maye, and Davis already on the roster, and Hall's ankle injury prevented him from working out at the Combine, leaving teams in a state of uncertainty about his health and his testing numbers. Grade: C
With their sixth-round pick, the Jets went special teams with Texas A&M P Braden Mann. Mann has a big leg and can handle kickoff duties. Mann projects to replace Lachlan Edwards, but this may have been a tad high for a punter. Grade: C
The Jets had an intriguing undrafted free agent class with a number of guys who warranted day-3 draft consideration, but two guys that I liked pre-draft stood out as being worth mentioning. Georgia WR Lawrence Cager is a physical receiver at the line of scrimmage who will attempt to make the team as a redzone threat. Alabama DB Shyheim Carter played the STAR role in Nick Saban's defense, and he proved his versatility as a college approximation of a subpackage linebacker, a nickel corner, a box safety, and even a high safety, so he'll vie to make the team as a versatile depth defensive back and as a special-teams ace.
Other Offseason News
After tensions flared at the trade deadline last season, SS Jamal Adams expressed his frustrations with a lack of a contract extension on social media before supposedly requesting a trade in June. However, according to Connor Hughes at The Athletic, the Jets still hope to sign Adams to a long-term contract. Reportedly, over half of the teams in the NFL have expressed interest in adding the defensive star, but the Dallas Cowboys have gotten the most traction as a potential trade partner, with RT La'El Collins and WR Michael Gallup coming up as potential trade pieces. Jamal Adams is still on his rookie contract for 2020, and the Jets accepted his fifth-year option for 2021.
Also, this isn't really news, but former Jets' All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis continued his spat with 49ers' All-Pro CB Richard Sherman, culminating in this unusual Tweet:
3 facts here. @RSherman_25 •I’m more handsome than him according to women. •I’m better at corner than him according to everyone. •Shutdown corners are paid more than Zone 3 corners which I’m currently still am today.
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Sam Darnold RB: Le’Veon Bell (and Frank Gore) WR: Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims SWR: Jamison Crowder TE: Chris Herndon (and Ryan Griffin) LT: Mekhi Becton LG: Alex Lewis C: Connor McGovern RG: Brian Winters RT: George Fant EDGE: Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham DT: Henry Anderson, Quinnen Williams (and Steve McLendon) ILB: CJ Mosley, Avery Williamson (and Patrick Onwuasor) CB: Pierre Desir, Arthur Maulet NCB: Brian Poole SS: Jamal Adams FS: Marcus Maye K: Sam Ficken P: Braden Mann LS: Thomas Hennessy
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses
QB - Neutral/Weakness Jets fans aren't going to love this one, but Sam Darnold is arguably still a bottom-third passer going into 2020. Darnold has been surrounded by a poor supporting cast over the past two years, including a turnstile of receivers across Robby Anderson with drop issues and linemen with pass-pro issues, but he certainly has not dominated like other young quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Carson Wentz. The Jets have a good group behind Darnold, though, including Joe Flacco, who said he won't be ready for week 1, and James Morgan, a fourth-round rookie out of FIU.
Backfield - Strength Le'Veon Bell, who is making $15.5 MM this season, is an all-around back in terms of running between the tackles, receiving, and pass protecting. The Jets also signed the ageless wonder Frank Gore to take some of the pressure off of Bell. Joe Douglas also drafted La'Mical Perine to contribute in the backfield.
Pass Catchers - Neutral/Weakness In 2020, the Jets are banking on production from unproved pass catchers who have performed well in limited sample sizes. Joe Douglas signed Breshad Perriman, who had a very productive end to his 2019 season, to man one of the outside receiver spots. He also drafted Denzel Mims out of Baylor to presumably also start as a rookie. Jamison Crowder broke out last year as an above-average slot receiver, and Chris Herndon missed virtually all of last season but played well in his rookie season as a tight end. The receiver depth lacks standout names, but the tight end depth is strong, with Ryan Griffin returning on a multi-year extension.
Offensive Line - Weakness The Jets entirely remade their offensive line, and while each position is arguably improved on paper, it is still young and unproven. Most significantly, at LT, Joe Douglas drafted Mekhi Becton at 11, who is already a really good run blocker with the tools to grow in pass pro. Douglas also re-signed Alex Lewis, who is probably serviceable but below average, to start at left guard, but he could force competition from fourth-round rookie Cameron Clark. The Jets signed Connor McGovern to start at C, and while he should solidify the position for at least the last two years, he is not extraordinary. Right guard shapes up to be an open competition between incumbent Brian Winters, who is serviceable when healthy, and new acquisition Greg Van Roten. At RT, the Jets signed George Fant, who played mostly as a swing tackle or sixth offensive lineman for Seattle but certainly has the athletic ability to outperform Chuma Edoga from last year.
Defensive Line - Weakness This might be surprising to the non-Jets fans, but the days of Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams are over, and pressure from the defensive line probably won't come easily for Gang Green. At EDGE, the Jets have arguably the worst duo in the NFL with Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham presumably playing as starters, with rookie 3rd-round pick Jabari Zuniga and 2019 UDFA Kyle Phillips playing rotationally. Starting on the interior, the Jets have Quinnen Williams, the former third-overall selection who notched 2.5 sacks and 4 TFLs in his rookie season and was arrested in March on a weapons charge, and Henry Anderson, a nimble interior penetrator who had a breakout year in 2018 before coming back down to Earth in 2019. Nathan Shepherd, Steve McLendon, and Foley Fatukasi should all see plenty of tread on the DL, as well.
Linebackers - Strength The Jets had a nearly-comical number of injuries at off-ball linebacker last season, but on paper, the unit appears very strong. CJ Mosley, 2019 FA acquisition, missed almost the entire 2019 season with a groin injury, but when healthy, he is one of the best linebackers in football. Avery Williamson, who projects to start across Mosley in 2020, is a good run defender but missed the entire 2019 year with a torn ACL. Returning starter Neville Hewitt, cheap FA acquisition Patrick Onwuasor, and promising second-year player Blake Cashman could each play in various base or subpackage roles, in addition to on special teams.
Secondary - Neutral Similar to the defensive line, the Jets secondary is a tale of two halves, in this case safeties and cornerbacks. At safety, the Jets have reigning All Pro Jamal Adams and solid free safety Marcus Maye returning, in addition to the versatile 3rd-round pick Ashtyn Davis out of Cal. Outside cornerback is in flux, as new acquisition Pierre Desir should lock up one spot, while Arthur Maulet, Quincy Wilson, and Blessuan Austin could compete for the other starting spot, with last year's breakout player Brian Poole locking up the slot. Nate Hairston, Javelin Guidry, Shyheim Carter, and 5th-round rookie Bryce Hall could compete for other key depth roles in the secondary.
Special Teams - Strength/Neutral At kicker, the Jets had a rocky performance last year, so they brought in Brett Maher, who hit 67% of his field goals last season, to compete with Sam Ficken, who hit 70% of his field goals last season. At punter, the Jets have rookie P Braden Mann, who handles kickoffs and whose 47.1 yards per punt would have ranked 4th in the NFL last year. At longsnapper, Thomas Hennessy is an asset in coverage and will return in 2020. Additionally, WR Vyncint Smith and FS Matthias Farley project to play major roles in kick coverage next season, with other jobs presumably up for grabs.
Week 1 at Buffalo: L - Other than the loss of Shaq Lawson and the additions of Stephon Diggs and AJ Epenesa, the Bills mostly had a quiet offseason, though with encouraging performances from young players in Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds, and Tre'Davious White and coming off of a 10-6 campaign, there’s a lot about which to be enthusiastic in Buffalo. The Bills, who went 10-6 last year and made the playoffs, beat the Jets here in their home opener. Record: 0-1
Week 2 vs San Francisco: L - The 49ers took a huge leap in 2019, marching through the NFC and into the Super Bowl, and the additions of Brandon Aiyuk, Javon Kinlaw, and Trent Williams should keep them competitive in 2020. If Jamal Adams is on the team, he might be able to get in George Kittle's way, but nevertheless the 49ers should be one of the NFL's most well-rounded football teams, and it would be difficult to envision the Jets defeating them. Record: 0-2
Week 3 at Indianapolis: L - The Colts had a big free agency period, signing Philip Rivers and adding DeForest Buckner in a trade while retaining their entire offensive line. While the Jets went 7-9 last season, just like the Colts did, the Colts probably are the favorites to win at home, especially with the advantage the Indianapolis offensive line should have over the New York pass rush. Record: 0-3
Week 4 vs Denver: L - While the Broncos went 7-9 last season, they have championship aspirations in 2020, as they went 4-1 in Drew Lock's starts last year and added Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Albert Okwuegbunam to a group of weapons already containing Philip Lindsay, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and Jeff Heuerman while retaining defensive stars in Von Miller, AJ Johnson, and Justin Simmons. Though it is a home game, it's hard to imagine the Jets defeating the Broncos in 2020. Record: 0-4
Week 5 vs Arizona: W - The Cardinals look poised to improve in 2020, with the additions of DeAndre Hopkins, Jordan Phillips, and Isaiah Simmons, but questions remain with the offensive line and defensive line, in addition to with the poor playcalling from Kingsbury and Joseph at times during last season. This could be a key game for Quinnen Williams, Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon, and the interior defensive line to feast on a poor Cardinals' interior offensive line, and for Gregg Williams to outmatch Kingsbury and Murray at home. Record: 1-4
Week 6 at LA Chargers: L - The Chargers revamped their team this offseason, adding Justin Herbert in the draft and surrounding him with Bryan Bulaga, Trai Turner, and Joe Reed on offense, and Kenneth Murray and Chris Harris on defense. Though the quarterback situation is in flux in LA, it’s a bit hard to envision the Jets going on the road to the West Coast and beating an otherwise well-rounded team. Record: 1-5
Week 7 vs Buffalo: W - The Jets have beat the Bills at least once in 8 of the last 10 seasons, and so the Jets should have a good chance to win one at home. Record: 2-5
Week 8 at Kansas City: L - The Chiefs has a pretty quiet offseason aside from locking up Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones on long-term deals, as they added Mike Remmers, Taco Charlton, Willie Gay, and Lucas Niang while losing Stefen Wisniewski, Emmanuel Ogbah, Reggie Ragland, and Kendall Fuller. Despite the offseason losses, Reid and Mahomes should easily be able to storm past the Jets at home. Record: 2-6
Week 9 vs New England: W - The Patriots took a hit this offseason, obviously headlined by the loss of Tom Brady but also supplemented by key defensive losses in Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Duron Harmon in addition to a general lack of attention towards improving a lackluster wide receiver corps. The Jets haven't beat the Patriots since their week 16 overtime thriller in 2015, but a November home game could be a good chance to do it, as the Patriots don't really possess the weapons to exploit issues with the Jets' cornerbacks nor the pass rushers to exploit issues with the Jets' offensive line. Record: 3-6
Week 10 at Miami: W - The Dolphins had a very poor 2019, finishing 5-11 with the 27th-ranked total offense and the 30th-ranked total defense, and as such they had an incredibly busy offseason, adding Matt Breida, Ereck Flowers, Ted Karras, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Elandon Roberts, and Byron Jones in free agency and Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt, Raekwon Davis, and Solomon Kindley in the draft. However, in Miami before the bye would be a good chance for Adam Gase to get a revenge game win, seeing as the Dolphins still have weaknesses all over their roster including quarterback, offensive tackle, and edge rusher. Record: 4-6
WEEK 11 BYE
Week 12 vs Miami: L - With all their offseason additions, the Dolphins figure to match up fairly evenly with the Jets in 2020, and so it's likely that the two teams will split the season series. Record: 4-7
Week 13 vs Las Vegas: W - The Raiders had a very busy offseason, adding Jason Witten, Maliek Collins, Nick Kwiatkoski, Prince Amukamara, and Damarious Randall in free agency and Henry Ruggs, Damon Arnette, Lynn Bowden, Bryan Edwards, and Amik Robertson in the draft with their only major losses being Darryl Worley and Karl Joseph. At home against a West Coast opponent, the Jets would be wise to take advantage of some of the Raiders’ weaknesses in this game, including inexperience at wide receiver, edge rusher, linebacker, and cornerback. Record: 5-7
Week 14 at Seattle: L - The Seahawks went 11-5 last season and were one play away from securing the top seed in the NFC, so their offseason was pretty quiet, mostly focusing on the offensive line with the losses of Germain Ifedi, DJ Fluker, and George Fant and the additions of free agents Brandon Shell, BJ Finney, and Cedric Ogbuehi, and draft pick Damien Lewis. Pete Carroll is one of the best coaches in football today, and in this late-season matchup at Seattle he’ll have the personnel advantage against the Jets offense, which lacks talented weapons and blockers. Record: 5-8
Week 15 at LA Rams: L - The Rams regressed to 9-7 last year and then had a difficult offseason, losing Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Dante Fowler, and Nickell Robey-Coleman, with their only major addition being A’Shawn Robinson. The 2020 Rams are not the Super Bowl Rams of the past, but with both McVay and Goff still on board, the Rams have to be favorites to take this late-season home game against the Jets. Record: 5-9
Week 16 vs Cleveland: W - The Browns had a busy offseason, hiring head coach Kevin Stefanski, losing Greg Robinson, Joe Schobert, and Damarious Randall, signing Austin Hooper, Jack Conklin, Andrew Billings, Karl Joseph, and Damarious Randall, and drafting Jedrick Wills, Grant Delpit, and Jacob Phillips. Despite these additions, however, Cleveland still has a new, inexperienced offensive playcaller at head coach and a question mark at quarterback, and Gregg Williams generally handles quarterbacks who struggle with post-snap reads well with disguised coverages and aggressive blitz packages. Record: 6-9
Week 17 at New England: L - With the expanded playoffs, the Patriots have an even greater chance to make the postseason this year than they otherwise would, so this late-season match in Foxborough could be a consequential, divisional-revenge game. Record: 6-10
Final Record: 6-10 While I firmly believe that the Jets improved significantly this offseason, especially in terms of the offensive line and getting players back from injury, this year’s schedule is substantially more difficult that last year’s, which could result in less games in the wins column for 2020. Last year, the Jets closed out the back-half of their season going 6-2 playing against rookie Daniel Jones, rookie Dwayne Haskins, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Lamar Jackson, rookie Devlin Hodges, and Matt Barkley, and this year the Jets have to play both the AFC West and the NFC West, which is a huge jump in their level of competition.
Training Camp Battles to Watch
WR #2: Denzel Mims vs Vyncint Smith Jets fans would hope that starting receiver isn’t much of a battle, but since rookie wideouts traditionally have been known to take longer learning the playbook, the other receiver spot next to Perriman and Crowder is in flux. Denzel Mims, the rookie receiver from Baylor, is the odds-on favorite to get a starting role and to play as a deep threat and red-zone threat in year one. However, if Mims proves too raw off the bat, the Jets could fall back on Vyncint Smith, who had 17 receptions last year and showed his value as a deep threat.
Left Guard: Alex Lewis vs Cameron Clark Following a 2019 season where Alex Lewis spot-started in place of Kelechi Osemele, the Jets rewarded him with a 3 year, $18.6 MM contract, and he goes into 2020 as the favorite to start at left guard once again. With that being said, the possibility exists that rookie tackle Cameron Clark out of Charlotte will kick inside and compete at left guard.
Right Guard: Brian Winters vs Greg Van Roten After a 2019 season in which Brian Winters went down with a shoulder injury in week 10, many expected the Jets to cut him, but he instead will return as the incumbent starter at right guard. However, new free agent acquisition Greg Van Roten could switch to the right side and compete against Winters to start.
Right Tackle: George Fant vs Chuma Edoga After the Jets had a poor performance form their offensive line in 2019, GM Joe Douglas brought in competition at all position, including at right tackle. George Fant, former Seattle swing tackle, is the presumptive favorite to land the starting job, despite his lack of starting experience and struggles with pass-pro footwork. Chuma Edoga could compete as well, but his performance in both run blocking and pass pro was so shaky last year as a rookie that he needed extensive help from tight ends to prevent the right side from entirely becoming a liability.
EDGE #2: Tarell Basham vs Kyle Phillips vs Jabari Zuniga vs John Franklin-Myers The Jets started Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham at edge rusher last season, so it was somewhat of a shock to see them add absolutely no outside talent until the middle of the third round, and so now Gregg Williams and his defensive staff are forced to make the pitiful decision between starting Basham, Kyle Phillips, Jabari Zuniga, or John Franklin-Myers across from Jenkins. Basham, who the Jets claimed off of waivers in 2018, is probably the odds-on favorite to start once again after notching 2 sacks and 4 quarterback hits in 54% of the Jets' defensive snaps. Kyle Phillips, the second-year player from Tennessee who was a five-star high-school recruit, is a thicker lineman best suited to play on run downs who could push for starting snaps as well. Jabari Zuniga, 3rd-round rookie out of Florida, is a third contender for the starting job, but his interior versatility and similarity to Jenkins in terms of his stiffness and poor pad level could suggest the Jets envision him in more of a rotational role. The wildcard in this battle is John Franklin-Myers, who was claimed by the Jets off of waivers from the Rams at the start of 2019 but who also notched a pair of sacks in his rookie year and is really explosive for his size.
DT #2: Henry Anderson vs Nathan Shepherd This battle won't get much media coverage, as both Anderson and Shepherd project to get plenty of tread on the New York defensive line, but nevertheless the two will compete in training camp for the upper hand in the snap count. Henry Anderson, the penetrating defensive lineman, saw his production fall off a bit in 2019, in part due to a nagging shoulder injury and utilization in different fronts and roles. Nathan Shepherd saw his role increase in the back half of the season after a suspension saw his role increase in the back half of the season after a suspension sidelined him from weeks two through eight, and with a good camp, he could establish himself as the primary nimble-footed complement to the heftier, run-stopping trio of Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, and Foley Fatukasi.
CB #2: Arthur Maulet vs Quincy Wilson vs Bryce Hall vs Blessuan Austin The outside cornerback spot across from Pierre Desir is probably the most open starting battle on the team. Arthur Maulet, the undersized but physical cornerback out of Memphis, is probably the favorite to start after outplaying Johnson and Roberts last season to win the left cornerback job. Quincy Wilson, the former second-round pick, should be Maulet's primary competition after the Jets traded a draft pick to acquire him from the Colts. Bryce Hall, the rookie fifth-round corner from Virginia, is a darkhorse to start as well if he is healthy to start the season. Blessuan Austin, the former sixth-round pick, might factor into the competition, but he'll have Williams' doghouse after reacting poorly to his week-16 benching.
Kicker: Sam Ficken vs Brett Maher Sam Ficken, who hit 70% of his kicks last season, will compete with Brett Maher, who hit 67% of his kicks last season, for the starting kicker job, but neither candidate should have to handle kickoffs with rookie punter Braden Mann in the fold.
Offensive and Defensive Schemes
Adam Gase, head coach and offensive playcaller for the Jets, runs a zone blocking, short passing offense mostly out of 11 personnel while also mixing in some 2-TE sets. In the run game, Gase is willing to run gap concepts based on his offensive line personnel, but he certainly favors his inside zone running playcalls. In the pass game, Gase likes to stack his receivers, throw checkdowns, split his backs out wide, and utilize the sidelines.
Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator for the Jets, runs a 3-4 hybrid, blitz-heavy defense with an emphasis on zone coverage. In the front seven, Williams has used both 3-4 and 4-3 base packages, though he mostly uses nickel fronts and one-gapping penetration schemes. In the secondary, Williams stresses MOFC shells, press-zone concepts, and disguised coverages and blitzes.
With the season (hopefully) on the way I thought I'd put together some lists for top 5 players at each position in Indianapolis (not Baltimore) Colts history. I'll start with QB, and work my way through. This list is purely my opinion as a die hard fan since the early Manning days, and if you think I have no clue what I'm talking about, please feel free to let me know. Fun fact, out of the 26 QBs to start a game for the Indy Colts there are only 7 players that have a winning record. Three of them are Colts legends Josh Freeman, Gary Hogeboom, and Craig Erickson.
After the complete disaster that was attempting to draft John Elway #1 in 1983, the then Baltimore Colts stuck with Mike Pagel at QB, who had just led them to a winless season in 1982. Team owner Robert Irsay decided to move the team to Indianapolis before the 1984 season the team stuck with Pagel as their main QB despite him clearly not being their future at the position. This led to 2 season with losing records and last place finishes in the AFC East. Entering the 1986 draft, the Colts were clearly looking for a franchise player at QB. The obvious choice was Jim Everett out of Purdue, but unfortunately he was selected #3 to the Houston Oilers when the Colts had the #4 pick. Instead of drafting the only other franchise QB in the draft, Mark Rypien, the Colts decided to select promising Illinois QB Jack Trudeau in the 2nd round. Trudeau had shown a lot of promise in his career, leading Illinois to a Rose Bowl in 1984 and finishing 2nd in the Davey O'Brien Award (Best College QB) to Doug Flutie. Unfortunately for him and the Colts, this talent would not translate well to the NFL
After trading Mike Pagel to the Browns the starting job was set for Trudeau entering the 1986 season. Unfortunately the Colts were still a very bad team overall and Trudeau was not set to overcome that. In 11 starts he had 8 TDs, 18 INTs, and a 48.9% completion rate for an 0-11 record. It was immediately clear he was not the savior the Colts needed to bring legitimate football to Indy. Fortunately, a contract dispute between Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson allowed the Colts to trade for Dickerson midway through the 1987 season. Dickerson was an immediate breath of life to the fledgling Indianapolis Colts franchise and helped lead them to their first playoff berth. Trudeau shared starting duties with Gary Hogeboom, and both were successful in not screwing things up too bad, giving the ball to Dickerson, and staying out of the damn way. Trudeau started in his only playoff game and actually played decently well: 251 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, but it wasn't enough as the Colts lost 38-21 to the Bernie Kosar led Cleveland Browns who would eventually lose in via "The Drive" in the AFC Championship. It was clear the Colts would need a better QB to compliment their new superstar in Dickerson, and thus they drafted future Pro Bowler Chris Chandler in the 3rd round in 1988. However, Chris Chandler was most definitely not a Pro Bowler for the Colts. Chandler didn't impress despite an 9-7 overall record, and was replaced by Trudeau following a bad start to the 1989 season. Trudeau had his best year as a pro in 1989: 2,317 yards, 15 TDs, 13 INTs, but the Colts still finished 8-8 and outside of the playoffs. Trudeau was improving, but was still clearly not the QB of the future, which they hoped to get by trading All-Pro Tackle Chris Hinton, Future All-Pro WR Andre Rison, and the #3 Pick in 1991 for the #1 Pick in 1990 which they used to draft QB Jeff George (Wow). Trudeau was kept as the backup and was a spot starter for the Colts from 1990-93. Despite the horrific play of George, Trudeau couldn't muster much better in his limited playing time and was released in 1994.
Jack Trudeau was at best a mediocre QB you could somewhat rely on to manage the game and allow more talented players to make plays. Unfortunately the late 80s, early 90s Colts didn't have too many of those so his play suffered as well. His numbers aren't great and he wasn't much beloved by Colts fans, but he did help lead the Colts to their first playoff appearance which helped me put him on the list over Matt Hasselbeck and others. Trudeau has actually hung around Indy doing various radio and TV appearances talking about the Colts and even has a couple of DUIs as well.
The Colts had their franchise QB in Andrew Luck, but leading up to the 2017 season it was revealed during the preseason Luck had a shoulder injury which would eventually lead to him missing the entire 2017 season. This left the Colts scrambling as they knew QB Scott Tolzien was not the answer at QB, so 8 days before the start of the season the new GM Chris Ballard traded 1st round bust Phillip Dorsett for 3rd string QB for the Patriots Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had looked at least competent spot starting for the suspended Tom Brady and hurt Jimmy Garoppolo in 2016, so he was the best option the Colts had available so close to the beginning of the season.
Bringing in a new QB for a team 8 days before the start of the season and asking him to play is like asking a train engineer to launch a rocket to the moon, so Tolzien started week 1 for Colts. He continued to not impress going into week 2, and was replaced for Brissett. Brissett was an improvement, but it was clear he was overwhelmed by the change of scenery and the rest of the Colts roster and staff was not talented enough to make up for it. He finished with competent numbers: 3,098 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs, 58.8% completion rate, 6.6 Y/A, but was merely a game manager for a bad team as the Colts finished 4-12. Andrew Luck was ready to return in 2018 and the Colts were willing to give Brissett the benefit of the doubt and kept him on as the backup. The Colts saw a major resurgence with Luck and an incredible draft and free agent class by Chris Ballard, leading to their first playoff appearance since 2015, eventually losing to the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs. The Colts were looking to improve going into 2019, but a now too familiar announcement led up to the season when it was revealed a calf injury was going to cause Andrew Luck to retire 2 weeks before the start of the regular season. The spotlight was once again shown on Jacoby Brissett, who was asked to take over Luck's team. Fortunately this time Brissett was able to get all the first team reps in the preseason leading up to week 1 and was much more familiar with the system. That familiarity paid off as Brissett led the Colts to a 5-2 start, including wins over playoff teams like the Texans and Titans along with the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Brissett was not putting up All-Pro numbers, but had clearly improved from 2017 and was still not making game losing mistakes. Through week 9 he had 190 YPG, 11 TDs, and 6 INTs, and and the eye test had shown he was a good leader and could occasionally make big plays when needed. However, after a knee sprain in week 10 he was clearly not the same player. His injury either hampered his physical abilities or his confidence but his poor play for the rest of the season allowed the Colts to fall to 7-9, including an embarrassing 34-7 loss to the Saints that I made the trip over to New Orleans for and watched as Brissett sailed the ball over every receiver's head. Brissett will likely be the backup for the 2020 season behind free agent Phillip Rivers, but he's shown enough flashes of ability that his career is long from over, whether that ends up being on the Colts or somewhere else in the league.
I believe I'm with the majority of Colts fans in that when I see Jacoby Brissett I see somewhat of a tragic figure. He got thrown to the wolves in 2017 and did the best he could, but was basically set up to fail. It's honestly not too much of a stretch to say his play through week 9 of 2019 was the best QB play by an Indy Colts QB not named Manning, Luck, or Harbaugh. You could tell he was well-liked by both fans and teammates, especially through the first half of 2019, but his limitations as a player were clear. Colts fans have been spoiled in the 21st century by 2 all-time great QBs, so any deviation from that, especially when it's not by a QB we drafted #1 overall, will be seen as a major failure. I think people came down a little too hard on Jacoby by the end of 2019, and that he's still a solid pro capable of being the QB on a winning team in the right situation. However, he showed in the 2nd half of 2019 that situation is probably not in Indy going forward.
The Colts had come out of the Eric Dickerson/Jeff George era looking like an absolute dumpster fire. The Colts had been in Indy for 10 years and Indy was still very much a basketball town. The only signature player the Indy Colts had was Eric Dickerson, and he had a very sour exit in 1992 after 2 bad years. The Indianapolis Colts were still in the woods, searching for the player that could give their franchise hope that they would be treated as a legitimate threat in the NFL and generate significant interest from the fanbase. That hope came from an unlikely source in Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh had led the Chicago Bears to 2 playoff appearances in the late Mike Ditka-era, but his play had fallen off and by 1994 he looked somewhat washed. The desperate Colts made a surprisingly wise decision in not drafting QBs Heath Schuler or Trent Dilfer. Instead they drafted future Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to replace Eric Dickerson (this is the "Who the hell is Mel Kiper?" draft) and signing Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh didn't come out guns blazing in 1994 as he traded starting duties with Green Bay castoff Don Majkowski. Harbaugh put up decent numbers but the Colts finished 4-5 in games Harbaugh started, 8-8 overall. Harbaugh entered the 1995 season as no sure thing, the Colts actually traded their 1996 first round pick for young Tampa QB Craig Erickson in another baffling trade for an unproven QB. Erickson and Harbaugh competed for the starting position in training camp and Erickson was selected as the starter by head coach Ted Marchibroda. Erickson played poorly the first 2 weeks, being replaced and outplayed by Harbaugh in both games. By week 3 Harbaugh was the full time starter and didn't look back. Harbaugh was showing that he meshed well with new Offensive Coordinator Lindy Infante as Harbaugh put up some of the most efficient passing numbers of any QB in the NFL in 1995: 2,575 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, 63.7% completion rate, and a league leading passer rating of 100.7 (ahead of guys like Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Dan Marino). Even more importantly he was a becoming the tough effective leader to energize the entire team, leading the Colts to 4 game winning drives that season, including one over the 1994 Super Bowl champion 49ers. The Colts were just outside of the playoffs going into week 17, but Harbaugh led the Colts to a win over the Drew Bledsoe led Patriots in the RCA Dome to sneak the Colts into the playoffs at 9-7. Harbaugh earned his first Pro Bowl appearance along with NFL Comeback Player of the Year. The Colts were going into the playoffs as 5.5 point underdogs against the San Diego Chargers, a team they had just lost to in week 16. However, thanks to 3 TDs from Harbaugh and an out-of-nowhere 147 yard, 2 TD performance from rookie FB Zach Crockett, the Colts overcame the odds. They were heading into a gauntlet of Arrowhead stadium against the best defense in the league and a Marcus Allen led 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs. In an ugly game where the wind chill was -15oF, luck worked in the Colts favor. Harbaugh didn't throw well, but picked up several key 1st down with his legs. He had 1 INT and 3 fumbles, but fortunately lost 0. Chiefs QB Steve Bono had 3 INTs and K Lin Elliot went 0/3 on field goals in a season where he made 80%. Colts K Cary Blanchard made 1/3, and that was enough to upset the heavily-favored Chiefs 10-7. Harbaugh's most defining moment as the Colts QB would come in the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Harbaugh's cinderella story continued on against Bill Cowher and Neil O'Donnell's Steelers. The Colts and Steelers traded scores throughout the game. With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Harbaugh threw a dime to WR Floyd Turner for a 47 yard touchdown to put the Colts up 16-13. Unfortunately the Colts couldn't run out enough clock on their next drive and the Steelers rushed down the field for the go-ahead score to put them up 20-16. Harbaugh wasn't done yet. With 88 seconds needing 84 yards, Harbaugh willed the Colts down the field to the Steelers' 29-yard line for a hail mary shot with 5 seconds left. Harbaugh tossed up a prayer that was very nearly caught by Colts WR Aaron Bailey, but he couldn't come up with it. The Cinderella story was over, but it was a defining moment for the Colts franchise. The 1995 Colts were within a hair of making the Super Bowl, and that 1995 playoff run led by Harbaugh created a real fanbase for them. Harbaugh's stats regressed some in 1996, but he still led the Colts to a 9-7 record and the playoffs, this time getting whooped by the Steelers in the wild card. In 1997 his stats improved some but the wheels fell off of the team as they started off 0-10, eventually falling to 3-13. Fortunately their record would net them the #1 pick in the 1998 draft. After it was clear the Colts were using the pick on QB they traded Harbaugh to the Ravens.
“A lot of people use (the word) ‘culture,’ but the attitude, everybody was team-first, from the front office, together with the coaches, together with the ownership, together with the players, the equipment staff, the training staff, I mean it felt like we were family.” - Jim Harbaugh on 1995 I don't think enough can be said about the effect of Harbaugh and that 1995 team had on the Colts. He gave us our first source of pride in the Colts and set the tone for the franchise to not be the laughingstock of the league. He paved the way for the decades of excellence that came after. Harbaugh will never be a HoF QB, but his effect on the Colts is severely underrated. For more details on the 1995 Cinderella season, read this IndyStar article: https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2016/01/21/1995-indianapolis-colts-jim-harbaugh-aaron-bailey-afc-championship-game-ted-marchibroda/78291676/
After a serious neck injury to franchise stalwart Peyton Manning, the Colts went from perennial playoff contender to nearly winless in 2011. It was unknown if Manning would ever be the same QB again, so the Colts opted to release their most valuable player and use their #1 pick in 2012 on a QB. There was some debate on possibly drafting the Heisman winner out of Baylor, Robert Griffin III, but new GM Ryan Grigson made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Andrew Luck. Son of former Oilers QB Oliver Luck, Andrew Luck blossomed under head coach Jim Harbaugh to revitalize the Stanford football program while also graduating with a bachelor's degree in architectural design. Luck was hailed by nearly every scout as a can't miss prospect, having nearly every physical tool you want from a QB along with a clear handle on the mental and intangible aspects of the game.
Expectations for Luck were high going into 2012, but not so for the team overall. Many experts put the Colts at or near the bottom of all power rankings. Not only had the team lost Peyton Manning that year, but also many key pieces from the Manning era such as Pierre Garçon, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, and Gary Brackett. To make matters worse, new head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and missed weeks 5-16. However, despite all odds, Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record. Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians proved to be a diamond in the rough by helping Luck turn a 2-14 team that lost multiple starters into a playoff team. Luck's stats weren't always pretty: 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 54.1% completion rate, and a 76.5 rating, but he could clearly make plays happen with an absurd 7 game winning drives. The miracles came to an end with a shellacking by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, but this season proved Luck would be no bust, he was a force to be reckoned with. Luck continued to grow in 2013 and 2014, improving in every category to crescendo in 2014 with a league-leading 40 TDs, 16 INTs, 61.7% completion rate, and a 96.5 rating. In 2013 he led the Colts to his first playoff victory in spectacular fashion. After being down 38-10 early in the 3rd quarter to the Alex Smith led Chiefs, Luck led a furious and unbelievable comeback 45-44 victory. Any Colts fan could tell you after seeing all the comeback victories Luck had led to never count him out, and he cemented that in this game. In 2014 Luck led the Colts past their old god of Peyton Manning in Denver in the divisional round, but were given a thorough ass-whooping in the AFC Championship by the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions New England Patriots in what is now infamously known as the "Deflategate Game." Andrew Luck was a very physical player and was known to take many hits, sometimes making spectacular plays through those hits. However, that punishment started to pile up and wasn't helped by GM Ryan Grigson's poor draft classes and inability to build a competent offensive line to block for Luck. This culminated in the injury plagued 2015 and 2016 seasons. Luck only played 7 games in 2015 and severely regressed in every statistical category, clearly hampered by various injuries such as a lacerated kidney. Luck's stats improved in 2016, but the team did not as they finished 8-8, partially due to an astounding 7% sack of Luck. Either some of Luck's good fortune had finally run out or the team and culture built by GM Grigson had completely failed to support their superstar QB. Owner Jim Irsay bet on Luck and fired Grigson after 2016. Hopes were high heading into 2017, but unfortunately an unknown snowboarding accident aggravated a previous shoulder injury for Luck. News was very slow to come out, but fans were shocked to find out he would likely miss the entire season 8 days before week 1. New GM Chris Ballard made a quick trade for Jacoby Brissett, but fans were worried after 3 years of being hampered by injuries Luck may never be the same player. In 2018 we believed those doubts were proven wrong. Luck had an incredibly resurgent season, leading the new look Colts back into the playoffs for the first time since 2014 with a 10-6 record. Luck's numbers were back to form: 39 TDs, 15 INTs, and career bests of 67.3% completion rate and 98.7 rating. Fans were pleased to finally see Luck playing behind a solid offensive line that prevented which prevented him from being sacked for 5 weeks and giving him a career low 2.7% sack rate. Luck led the Colts to a Wild Card win over the Deshaun Watson's Texans, but were stopped in the cold in Arrowhead against Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs. However, hopes were high leading into 2019 that the structure given by GM Chris Ballard would protect Luck and allow him to lead us to our Super Bowl. Sadly that did not work out as Luck appeared to have a calf injury leading up to the 2019 season. Fans held out hope he would be ready to go for the start of the season, but after the years of rehabbing Luck had finally had enough. 2 weeks before the season opener during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears it was leaked that Luck planned to retire. Fortunately his backup Jacoby Brissett was put in a better position to take his place as opposed to 2017, but the sudden and unexplained retirement of their franchise QB right before the season led to some fans to boo Luck as he left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time.
Andrew Luck will forever be one of the greatest "what if?" stories in American sports history. Unlike many "what if?" stories, we got to see what we could have had with Luck. What the Colts had in Luck from 2012-14 along with 2018 was nothing short of incredible and it was clear he was improving to potentially become one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. Instead he's a tragic story where fans will forever be left to wonder what could have been with Andrew Luck. Would Luck have brought the Colts back to the Super Bowl if he he didn't play the majority of his career under the poor management of GM Ryan Grigson and HC Chuck Pagano? All we do know is that his sack rate under Grigson was 5.5%, and in one year on GM Chris Ballard's team it was 2.7%, coincidentally also one of his best statistical seasons. Peyton Manning's sack rate for his career? Tied for the NFL record with Dan Marino at 3.13%. Maybe if Luck had been better protected and coached better to avoid hits he could have made it up there with Manning, but as fans he'll forever be a "what if?" Luck seems like a smart and content man who's just starting a family, so I doubt he will ever return for any team. Even if he did we'll forever be robbed of what the best version of Andrew Luck could have been. However, in his short time here, he delivered enough incredible moments to give us hope and make us love the team. I, along with hopefully many other fans, will forever love Andrew Luck for his time with the Colts and am grateful for a helluva run.
The Indianapolis Colts under Jim Harbaugh had finally established themselves as a legitimate team, but the Colts knew Harbaugh wasn't the long-term answer at QB. He was 35 going into the 1998 season and had just led the Colts to a 3-13 season, bad enough for the #1 overall pick. There was some debate about drafting Heisman finalist out of Washington, Ryan Leaf, but new GM Bill Polian made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Peyton Manning. Leaf had some incredible athletic abilities, but there were some doubts raised about his ability to handle the mental aspects of the game. He also basically made the decision for the Colts when he skipped their draft interview, a passive-aggressive declaration he wouldn't play for the Colts. Peyton Manning, son of former Saints QB Archie Manning, was also a Heisman finalist out of Tennessee. No scout doubted Manning's ability to become a franchise QB in the NFL, but some wondered about his potential ceiling due to a complete lack of running ability and some arm strength concerns. However, he was clearly one of the most mature and mentally ready players to ever come out of college for any position. "I'll leave you with this thought. If you take me, I promise you we will win a championship. If you don't, I promise I'll come back and kick your ass" -Peyton Manning to Colts GM Bill Polian on the day before the 1998 draft
The 1998 Colts were still a pretty bad team overall, and the rookie Manning was not enough to overcome that. He had one of the best statistical rookie seasons ever: 3,739 yards, 26 TDs, 28 INTs, 6.5 Y/A, and a 56.7% completion rate, setting records for yards, TDs, and INTs (yards and TDs are currently held by Andrew Luck and Baker Mayfield respectively). However, the deficiencies of the team and Manning's record number of interceptions helped give the Colts a 3-13 record, including a week 5 win over Ryan Leaf's San Diego Chargers. Fortunately Manning helped lead one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history in 1999, turning the 3-13 Colts in 1998 into the 13-3 Colts in 1999. People weren't exactly ready to give up on Manning after 1998, but 1999 was critical for showing Manning could improve and be at the helm of a winning team. Partially this was helped by sending Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to St. Louis in exchange for the draft pick to select Hall of Fame RB Edgerrin James, who had a phenomenal rookie year. The Colts ended up losing to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, who had just completed the Music City Miracle the week before and would come within an ass hair of winning the Super Bowl against the Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams. Manning was up and down from 2000 to 2002, still posting good stats but missing the playoffs in 2001 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oSFYxDGKy8 ) and having first round exits in 2000 and 2002. Whispers started turning into legitimate arguments about how Peyton Manning was a good stats, dome team, regular season QB that just didn't have it in the playoffs. In 2003 Manning started his absurd streak of 12+ win seasons (7 years) and picked up his first MVP award, the first (and still only) Indy Colt to win it. He also got his first playoff wins in 2003, but was quickly put to shame in a 4 INT performance in the AFC Championship against the Patriots, now known by Colts fans as "The Ty Law Game." The 2004 season is well known by Colts fans for cementing Manning among the all time greats. Manning was white hot all year, throwing for 4,557 yards 49 TDs, 10 INTs, and a 121.1 rating while only getting sacked 13 times. The 49 TDs was a record, which has since been broken by Tom Brady and Manning again while a member of the Broncos. Manning won MVP for the 2nd year in a row, but once again disappointed in the playoffs with a 0 TD, 1 INT performance against the Patriots in the divisional round, losing 20-3. Those arguments of Manning's postseason jitters were starting to feel more and more like reality for Colts fans. They knew they had their franchise QB, but his inability to perform in the playoffs continued to be baffling. 2005 was supposed to be the season that changed all that. Manning's numbers came back to earth somewhat, but he still posted a very efficient performance (104.1 rating) for a much improved overall team. GM Bill Polian had proved his days building the "Four Falls over Buffalo" Bills dynasty was no fluke, he now had a team with the #2 scoring offense and the #2 scoring defense. This was the year to break the Manning postseason curse. Unfortunately in one of the most upsetting games of my life, the Colts could not break that curse against the Steelers in the divisional round. Manning played relatively well: 58% completion rate, 290 yards, and 1 TD with no INTs, but watching the game the Colts struggled to maintain momentum and get stops against the rookie Ben Roethlisberger. Despite the inconsistent play, the Colts still had a shot. Steelers HoF RB Jerome Bettis attempted to ice the game with a goal line carry, but fumbled for the first time all year. With the entire Steelers offense stuffing the line, Colts CB Nick Harper was free to pick up the ball with a nearly open field ahead of him. Normally Nick Harper is one of the faster players on the field, however, as every Colts fan knows, Harper had been stabbed in the leg by his wife in a "supposedly accidental" altercation the night before. This possibly allowed the falling down Ben Roethlisberger to catch Harper by his shoe strings, preventing the nearly sure thing TD by Harper to put the Colts ahead. Instead Manning led the Colts into basically chip shot field goal position for one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history (Mike "Idiot Kicker" Vanderjagt) to tie the game. We all know what happened next. It was a shocking loss to say the least, and it was hard to blame it all on Manning, but it still felt like there was some sort of mystical VooDoo curse hanging over Manning and our franchise. If the Colts couldn't win it all in 2005 it felt like they never would. 2006 wasn't looking like anything special compared to the past few seasons, especially considering the defense regressed from #2 in scoring in 2005 to #23 in 2006. Manning was still putting up great numbers, but those were starting to feel like an exercise in futility. Fortunately the Colts caught fire at the right time, with oft-injured All-Pro Safety Bob Sanders getting healthy towards the end of the season and the trade deadline addition of Buccaneers DT "Booger" McFarland. That momentum pushed them to an AFC Championship, where Manning would match up against the source of his ultimate playoff failures, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Fortunately, this time it was in the RCA Dome, not Foxborogh, MA. Manning and the Colts started off cold, being down 21-3 at one point after a Manning pick-6, but the Colts rallied behind some incredibly orchestrated drives by Manning to finally get the monkey off his back. On a last second drive, Manning drove the Colts down the field to put them ahead 38-34 with 1 minute to go. A Marlin Jackson interception of Tom Brady sealed it, Manning and the Colts were going to the Super Bowl for the first time in Indy history. Manning played well in the Super Bowl, winning the MVP against the league-best Chicago Bears defense. Manning continued his solid play in 2007 and 2008, including his 3rd MVP in 2008. Both seasons ended with heartbreaking first round playoff exits to the San Diego Chargers, 2008's being the "Sproles and Scifres Game." 2008 also showed the first signs of physical weakness from Manning, having a knee surgery before the season that led to a slow start for the Colts. That was not the case in 2009, as Manning led the Colts to start the season 14-0. In a decision that's still derided today, new head coach Jim Caldwell decided to effectively bench Manning along with many other starters rather than go for the perfect season to prevent any injuries. Many had seen the Patriots in 2007 nearly complete the perfect season, but fall in heartbreaking fashion in the Super Bowl against a less talented Giants team. Caldwell, like many others, decided that any rust from not playing for nearly a month was worth the decreased risk of injury to his stars. That decision nearly backfired in spectacular fashion as the Colts were behind the New York Jets (a team they effectively let into the playoffs by letting them win in week 16) in the AFC Championship game until Manning led a furious comeback. It all ended poorly in the Super Bowl however as Manning threw a pick-6 to Tracy Porter that still haunts my dreams to Tracy Porter, allowing the Colts to lose to Drew Brees and his stupid baby and the New Orleans Saints. 2010 was one of the first signs of weakness from Manning. He had apparently injured his neck on this play in 2006 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gjdmww3vgM ) on a hit that would now be extremely illegal. Manning apparently aggravated that injury in the lead up to the 2010 season, and it showed in the stats as he had how lowest rating since 2002 (91.9). For most other QBs a rating of 91.9 is a pretty solid season but for Manning it was a massive fall. This led to a quick playoff exit to the Jets in the first round. In the lead up to the 2011 season, Manning had several surgeries to relieve the pain in his neck which led to him missing the entire season. It was unknown if he would ever be the same QB again, or even play again. Manning's absence showed how incredibly important he was to the franchise, the only major difference between the rosters in 2010 and 2011 is Manning, yet the Colts went 10-6 in 2010 and 2-14 in 2011. This poor record led to the Colts earning the #1 pick in the 2012 draft, which fueled their decision to release Manning and draft a QB in 2012 (Chandler Harnish...and Andrew Luck).
"Fellas, if 18 goes down, we're fucked, and we don't practice fucked." -Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore on why the backup QBs don't get more reps Nothing to me cements Peyton Manning's role in Indy as much as this quote. Even his first 5 years before he became an all-time great, that was still the best sustained stretch of QB play in Indy Colts history. Once he ascended to another level in 2003, it was clear we needed to put every egg we could find into his basket. Manning was the perfect franchise QB: a steady presence on and off the field, consistent delivery of either incredible numbers or game winning performances (usually both), and he made nearly everyone else on the team a better player. His drive and commitment to team victory made him the guy every franchise needs if they want to field a consistently great team. Peyton had somewhat of an authoritarian leadership style, my way or the highway, but you can do that when you show that you're willing and able to give every ounce of yourself to the team and deliver the kind of results that he can. I think some people are disappointed in the Manning Era considering how historically great his stats are but he was 1-1 in Super Bowls in 12 years here. Honestly I think that's not too far off for any all-time QB. Drew Brees is 1-0, Brett Favre is 1-1, Aaron Rodgers is 1-0, Fran Tarkenton is 0-3, Jim Kelly is 0-4, Dan Marino is 0-1, all of these guys are all-time great franchise QBs but it's not abnormal for them to only win 1 or lose several. There are some exceptions: Tom Brady (6-3), Joe Montana (4-0), Terry Bradshaw (4-0), and Troy Aikman (3-0), but honestly you could trade any of the former QBs for Terry Bradshaw and they would also probably be 4-0. There's lots of luck in every playing career, and some get luckier than others. The only season I'd say the Colts were "robbed" of a Super Bowl is 2005, otherwise I think Manning's Colts career went about as good as it could have. Honorable Mentions: Matt Hasselbeck (5-3 record, probably our best backup ever) and Dan Orlovsky (just for saving us from a completely defeated season). Dishonorable Mentions: Jeff George and Kerry Collins (being very bad at QB isn't very uncommon for Indy Colts QBs, but these guys were so bad and toxic they dragged down the abilities of everyone on the team and are actively hated by most fans)
Will the Detroit Lions win OVER/UNDER 6.5 games? By University Stats Prof!
Will the Detroit Lions win OVEUNDER 6.5 games? By University Stats Prof! 1. Introduction After firing Jim Caldwell following a 9-7 record in 2017, the Lions posted a 6-10 in Matt Patricia’s first year as a head coach. Things got even worse last season with a 3-12-1 record. This is a critical year for Patricia. The team has talent for sure. If he does not right the ship, he may be gone sooner rather than later. 2. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Detroit Lions are expected to win 6.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
Count the proportion of seasons where the Lions won more or less than 6.5 games.
Here are the results:
OVER 6.5 wins
UNDER 6.5 wins
Tip: Bet UNDER 6.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +1.4% Rank: 31st-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +127 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Lions’ 16 regular season games: HOME: -1.5 vs CHI, +2 vs GB, -1 vs HOU, +1.5 vs IND, +2 vs MIN, +5.5 vs NO, +2.5 vs TB, -6 vs WAS. ROAD: +3 @ ARI, +4 @ ATL, +1 @ CAR, +5 @ CHI, +6.5 @ GB, -1.5 @ JAX, +7 @ MIN, +6 @ TEN. Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. 3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 3.1 QUARTERBACKS (QB) I feel bad for Matthew Stafford. He has to be one of the best quarterbacks to have never won a playoff game. He’s 0-3 in the postseason and has played for many terrible teams in Detroit during his 11-year career. He had yet another good season in 2019. He finished as the 8th-best QB in the league based on PFF rankings. He missed half the season because of injuries, but still threw 19 TD passes versus 5 picks. Prior to last year, he had not missed a single start over eight seasons, which is unbelievable! He’s a durable and tough guy. David Blough and Jeff Driskel didn’t do very well in Stafford’s absence. That’s a big reason why the team led Driskel go, while acquiring backup Chase Daniel from the Bears. I was stunned to realize that after spending 10 years in the NFL, Daniel has only thrown 7 TDs and 5 interceptions (most of them in 2018 and 2019 with Chicago). He received decent grades from PFF and he looks to be a definitive improvement over Blough and Driskel. 3.2 RUNNING BACKS (RB) I like what I’ve been from Kerryon Johnson over his first two seasons in the NFL. In each of those years, the former running back from Auburn was on pace to be close to a 1,000 rushing yard season, but his pro career has been marred by injuries thus far. Beyond the stats, I thought he passed the eye test. Upon seeing him play several games, he looked like a good back. In his third year, the main goal will be to prove he can make it through a full season. Johnson received a 66.7 grade from PFF last year, which put him in the #37 spot out of 58 RBs. I believe he can make a nice jump in 2020. Bo Scarbrough finally saw some action last season. He did “okay”, but his main limitation is in the passing game. He’s not much of a receiver. He’s still a decent weapon to have when running between the tackles because of his big frame. J.D. McKissic was the opposte of Scarbrough; he is undersized, but a good pass catcher. He still managed to post a lofty 5.4 yard per carry average, while catching 34 balls. However, he left for Washington. Considering Detroit’s backfield was already crowded, drafting D’Andre Swift in the 2nd round was a puzzling move. It probably means the Lions will go with a committee approach with Johnson and Swift being the RB 1A and 1B. Swift is a smart RB who has good vision and runs with patience; he understands and evaluates block timing very well. He is also pretty good out of the backfield; he caught many passes in college and was tagged with just three drops across 73 receptions. 3.3 WIDE RECEIVERS (WR) Can you believe Kenny Golladay’s salary was under one million last year? What an astonishing bargain for the Lions! Golladay solidified his position as one of the top wideouts in the league by posting a second consecutive 1,000-yard season. He also doubled his TD production by catching 11 last year versus 5 the year before. He has a great combination of size and athleticism, which allows him to stretch the field and make contested catches in traffic. His numbers have the potential to increase even more if Stafford can stay healthy for the whole season, and considering Golladay is only 26 years old. Marvin Jones posted a very nice 62-779-9 stat line despite missing three games. He has been a steady producer in this league, both with the Bengals and now with the Lions. A very reliable guy. Danny Amendola has never been a top wideout: his career best is 689 receiving yards back in 2010. However, having him as your #3 receiver is a nice luxury. The main concern pertains to his age, as he is now 34. His level of play has not deteriorated yet, but we should keep an eye on this situation. The team added even more depth by signing a younger guy: Geronimo Allison. The former Packer showed flashes during an injury-shortened 2018 season, but he really fell flat last year by catching just 34 balls despite a wide open #2 WR spot in Green Bay. He received poor grades from PFF and finished as the #111 receiver out of 122 qualifiers. 3.4 TIGHT ENDS (TE) Was T.J. Hockenson’s rookie season a success? The jury is still out on that one. Everyone got overly excited about his first career game, where he caught 6 passes for 131 yards and 1 TD. However, he surpassed 50 yards just once in his final 11 games (an ankle injury put him on injured reserve for the last four contests). He was the #8 overall pick in the 2019 draft, so the expectations were high for the former Hawkeye. The adaptation to the NFL-level is not always easy for rookie tight ends, so let’s cut him some slack. He is a candidate to improve his numbers greatly in his second season, especially with Stafford back under center. Both Logan Thomas and Jesse James caught 16 passes last year. Thomas left for Washington, which leaves James as the clear-cut #2 TE. He is an adequate backup for Detroit. 3.5 OFFENSIVE LINE (OL) Right tackle Rick Wagner provided respectable protection to his quarterbacks during his first six seasons, but his play tailed off dramatically last year. The team released him and signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai to replace him. Vaitai has only started 20 games in four seasons, but he played pretty well in spots with the Eagles last year and that earned him a jaw-dropping five-year, $50 million contract. That seems like a high price for a career backup, but he did grade as the 22nd-best tackle among 81 qualifiers in 2019. We’ll see if the Lions made a wise investment or not. The other four starters all received good marks from PFF: Taylor Decker (19th out of 81 tackles), Frank Ragnow (6th out of 37 centers), Graham Glasgow (12th out of 81 guards) and Joe Dahl (27th out of 81 guards). Yet, the team finished below-average in terms of sacks allowed (19th out of 32 teams). The bad news is Detroit also lost Graham Glasgow via free agency. He signed with the Denver Broncos. He has obtained grades above 70 by PFF in each of its past three seasons. His replacement is unlikely to match that performance. One potential replacement is third round selection Jonah Jackson. He needs to improve as a run blocker since he tends to struggle sustaining blocks. On the other hand, he’s more comfortable in passing situations, while also excelling at processing blitzes. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE The Lions scored the 18th most points in the NFL last season. That output is much more likely to go up than down. Except on the offensive line, we notice a potential upgrade over the 2019 season at all positions. At quarterback, having Stafford back is obviously a big boost. Also, Chase Daniel is a better back than the Blough-Driskel duo. At running back, Kerryon Johnson missed half the season. He also has two years of experience under his belt and is ready to explode. Rookie D’Andre Swift offers an additional potential deadly weapon. Adding Geronimo Allison to an already talent WR group won’t hurt. Golladay-Jones-Amendola will provide good targets for Stafford. Hockenson is now more familiar with the NFL speed and it was reported he played through some pain before landing on injured reserve. Again, an improvement seems a more likely scenario than a regression here. As mentioned above, the OL play will be a source of concern, though. Replacing Wagner with Vaitai could be a plus. However, Glasgow’s loss will be difficult to compensate. Still, overall I can see the Lions jumping to the 7th-12th rank on offense in 2020. You read this right; the Lions could have the number 7 offense in the NFL. They have a very talented and underrated group (with nice depth at all positions!). Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate upgrade 4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 4.1 DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL) The interior of the line has been completely revamped. That may not be a bad thing. Both Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson are gone after a subpar year. They both graded as below-average last year, which was a big surprise in the case of Harrison. He obtained a grade above 90 as a run defender in each of its past four seasons, but cratered to 63.2 last year. What the heck happened? The newcomers are Danny Shelton, formerly of the Patriots, and Nick Williams, coming over from the Bears. Shelton has done very well in all five of his seasons in the league and is entering his prime. He’s a solid addition and he’s good a plugging up running lanes. I’m not so high on the Williams acquisition, though. He didn’t get good grades throughout his career until last year where he finally got some starts and posted six sacks. He could be a one-year wonder. He had been a journeyman thus far and is a former 7th-round pick. Mike Daniels is also off the team. The former didn’t do much in his lone season in Motor City. 4.2 DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED) Both Trey Flowers and Devon Kennard recorded seven sacks last season. Kennard left for Arizona; his leadership as team captain will also be missed. Flowers is a vital piece of this defense. He will enter his age-27 campaign and he has racked up between 6.5 and 7.5 sacks every year since 2016. Who will step up in Kennard’s absence? Romeo Okwara will need to come back to his 2018 form, where he posted 7.5 sacks. Only getting 1.5 last year was a big disappointment. Another alternative may come from Romeo’s younger brother, Julian, who was taken in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Considering Julian’s speed and strength (the bull rush remains his favorite move), you would have expected him to produce more in college. He still needs to learn good techniques to beat experienced offensive linemen. 4.3 LINEBACKERS (LB) Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones and Jahlani Tavai all played a bit above 50% of the defensive snaps last year. They ranked as the #84, #82 and #44 linebackers out of 89 guys. That’s bad. The position will get a lift with the acquisition of Jamie Collins. He led the Patriots with seven sacks last season, which was a career-high for him. I don’t mean to be disrespectful for him, but I believe he’s overrated. He enjoyed great 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England, but his played tailed off big time in his time away from the Patriots in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He came back with a pretty good season when reuniting with Belichick’s squad last year, but will he revert back to mediocre play in Detroit? Super Bowl champion Reggie Ragland also joins Matt Patricia’s team. He adds depth to the team and may play behind Jarrad Davis. 4.4 CORNERBACKS (CB) Last year, the trio made of Darius Slay, Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman saw the field pretty often. Slay and Melvin are gone to other teams. Slay had a very bad year as opposed to his previous five, but that may have been an outlier. He’s 29 years old and he’s likely to rebound in Philly. He asked to be traded after fights over contract negotiations. Unlike Slay, Melvin won’t be missed too much. He was an undrafted guy who is more of a rotational corner. In order to alleviate Slay’s loss, the Lions signed Desmond Trufant, formerly of the Falcons. His best days are behind him, but he has never received a grade below 69.5 by PFF over his seven-year career, which is remarkable. Last year’s 70.3 grade put him as the 32nd-best corner out of 112 qualifiers. The team’s instant #1 corner is rookie Jefffrey Okudah, who was taken with the third overall selection of this year’s draft. He’s a true lockdown corner who is likely to perform at a high level right away. Over the last two seasons at Ohio State, he held every wideout he faced to fewer than 50 receiving yards. He also surrendered just two touchdowns during that time frame. Those are outstanding numbers! Okudah is a blue chip prospect whose mental makeup and physical traits are elite. 4.5 SAFETIES (S) Safeties Tracy Walker and Tavon Wilson led the team in tackles last year. They both played close to 75% of the snaps and obtained similar marks from PFF. They finished 22nd and 26th out of 87 safeties in the league. As of now, Wilson has yet to sign with a NFL team. He is open to re-signing with Detroit, but that has yet to happen. The team decided to upgrade the position by acquiring Duron Harmon, yet another ex-Patriot. He can play safety or as a corner; he is likely to be on the field often. He may not be the best against the run, but his skills in coverage are way above average. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE There’s been a lot of shuffling with this unit during the offseason. The biggest acquisitions are Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Jamie Collins, Desmond Trufant, Duron Harmon, as well as #3 overall pick Jeffrey Okudah. The biggest losses are Damon Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Devon Kennard, Darius Slay and Rashaan Melvin. My own assessment of those moves is a moderate upgrade. However, I value continuity as a key factor in the NFL. Knowing how your teammates are going to react in game-time situations is important in such a fast sport like the NFL. Considering the impact of COVID-19 on offseason preparation, having numerous new faces will likely penalize offenses/defenses even more. Detroit’s defense finished 26th in points allowed last year. They will remain the team’s Achilles heel, but a significant improvement is doable. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate upgrade MOST LIKELY RECORD: 7-9 (based on the one-million simulated seasons using BetOnline’s 2020 point spreads) Tomorrow, I'll discuss the team whose ROI is 30th in the league; the New Orleans Saints! Thanks for reading, I hope you found it insightful! Professor MJ
The Patriots Will Be Just Fine Without Tom Brady This Season
As we all know, Tom Brady is no longer a New England Patriot. The vast majority of sports fans now believe that the door is opened for the Buffalo Bills to step up and finally win the division title for the first time since 1995. I’m now hearing a lot of people say that the Patriots will finish the season with somewhere between 5-7 wins. As a Jets fan, I would love nothing more than to buy into this projection but I have to be realistic. While I certainly do not expect the Brady-less Patriots to measure up to their performance in the last decade, I do think the public is overreacting to his departure. We are talking about a team that has consistently posted double-digit wins since 2002 and 12 or more wins in 9 of the last 10 seasons. So with all factors considered, I am going to predict their season as honestly and accurately as possible. Let’s start with their defense. There is no denying that the New England defense was the best last year, allowing an average of 275.9 yards/game, 47 sacks, and a league-high 25 interceptions. Although they lost linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy during the offseason, they are still projected to be a top 3 defense next year in just about every ranking. Now, they took a lot of heat for not drafting a QB in the 2020 Draft and they have shown no interest in signing quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, or Cam Newton throughout the entire offseason. Some people are throwing out the idea that they may be tanking in the hope to pick up Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, but the idea is ultimately ridiculous as the Patriots are not the type of team to tank. If there is any coach in the NFL that you don’t question, it’s Bill Belichick. The man can put Sony Michel at starting quarterback and I would be forced to believe, “You know what, he probably knows what he’s doing!” So you better believe that if Bill Belichick is this confident in starting 23-year-old Jarrett Stidham, then I have no reason to think otherwise. So we will likely see an offense led by WRs Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry and RB’s Sony Michel and James White. With a defense likely to produce similar numbers to last season, the greatest coach of all time, and a mostly veteran team, if Stidham can produce then we must not rule the Patriots out as playoff contenders. Now, let us look at the Patriots 2020 schedule (scroll down for my predictions for each week’s matchup). Based on the 2019 standings, the Patriots have the most difficult schedule in the upcoming season. However, the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets don’t have it too easy either. In addition to having to verse the Bills twice as always, the Patriots will have to suit up against the Chiefs, the Seahawks, the 49ers, and the Ravens. Yikes! And the rest of their matchups outside of the AFC East will likely not come too easy either in the Broncos, the Chargers, the Raiders, the Cardinals, the Rams, and the Texans. These are all teams that are projected to have 7+ wins next season. Within their division, I expect the Patriots to sweep the Jets and secure the win both times around. Although it is possible that the Jets have a top 10 defense next season, their offense just can’t seem to produce against New England. Last season the Jets lost 33-0 and 14-30 in these matchups. To make matters worse, New York’s 2 touchdowns were not even offensive touchdowns!!! The Dolphins somehow always manage to split wins with the Patriots, and I don’t see that changing with the Dolphins in full rebuild mode and the Patriots...well, you know. The Dolphins have made a lot of changes to their roster and it will take some figuring out, so I think there’s a good chance that New England takes the win Week 1 at home and then loses week 14. For the Bills, I’m also predicting split wins. The Patriots won both matchups last season in low-scoring one-possession games. I think both offenses will struggle in these matchups next year and it’ll be interesting to see these games play out, as they will likely be a determining factor in the division title. So I’m predicting the Patriots to go 4-2 within their division. Now let’s talk about their easier but not-so-easy remaining matchups. In their toughest matchups against the Seahawks, the 49ers, the Chiefs, and the Ravens, I am predicting that they will go 1-3. I don’t think they will be favored in any of these 4 matchups, but I think the odds of losing all 4 are pretty unlikely. The Ravens defense can certainly compete with that of the Patriots. New England’s pass defense is certainly better than their rushing defense, and the Ravens are a team that averaged just about 206 rushing yards per game. They smoked the Patriots with Tom Brady, and I don’t expect a different outcome without him. We have a similar situation in San Francisco; the 49ers seemed to be able to produce offensively against every team, but I cannot say the same for a Brady-less offense going up against the 49ers defense. I’m giving San Francisco the win. As for the Chiefs, there’s just no stopping that offense, and I just don’t see the Patriots being able to keep up. So that leaves Seattle. The Patriots haven’t played the Seahawks since 2016, but the Patriots defense is going to have Russell Wilson scrambling. The Patriots offense can definitely produce against the Seattle defense that allowed 381.6 yards/game on average last season. Maybe the Seahawks can find some success in the run game but I’m still going to give New England a slight edge in this matchup. Now, let us look at the Patriots matchups against the Cardinals, the Raiders, the Broncos, the Chargers, the Texans, and the Rams. Although I think the Cardinals had a great offseason, they have done little to improve a defense that allowed a league-high 402 yards/game last year. They allowed 23+ points to opponents in all but 2 games last year, and that’s not something you can do when you’re up against New England. I’m not too high on the Raiders this year either, as I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish at the bottom of their division. I don’t think the Raiders’ offense led by Derek Carr is significantly better than that of the Patriots. I think these defensive mismatches will lead the Patriots to take both of these games at home. The Broncos and the Chargers are very similar; they have possibly a top 10 defense and young QB with some solid offensive weapons. I’m not sold on Drew Lock just yet, he hasn’t been tested against a top defense like the Patriots’ so I think the Patriots will win in a close low-scoring matchup at home. I have the Patriots losing to the Chargers on the road week 13. By then, I expect that Justin Herbert will be the starting quarterback and they will sort of have things figured out. The Houston Texans I have finishing third in their division next year. This game is a huge coaching mismatch, and I think Deshaun Watson’s issues with Bill O’Brien are deeper than just the Hopkins trade. As for their matchup against the LA Rams, this is their first meeting since the 2019 Super Bowl and I’m sure the Rams will be highly motivated to win this game, especially if they wish to secure a wildcard spot. However, I expect the Patriots defense to pressure Jared Goff and force some turnovers and the Rams defense just isn’t what it was two seasons ago. Realistically, this matchup can go either way but I don’t see the Patriots getting back-to-back losses in LA so I’m going to give them a very slight edge. So, I’m predicting that the Patriots win 4-5 of these 6 matchups. So, overall I’m projecting the Patriots to finish the season with 9-10 wins. See below for my predicted outcomes for each matchup. Week 1: Miami Dolphins Win (1-0) Week 2: @ Seattle Seahawks Win (2-0) Week 3: Las Vegas Raiders Win (3-0) Week 4: @ Kansas City Chiefs Loss (3-1) Week 5: Denver Broncos Win(4-1) Week 6: Bye Week Week 7: San Francisco 49ers Loss (4-2) Week 8: @ Buffalo Bills Loss (4-3) Week 9: @ New York Jets Win (5-3) Week 10: Baltimore Ravens Loss (5-4) Week 11: @ Houston Texans Win (6-4) Week 12: Arizona Cardinals Win (7-4) Week 13: @ Los Angeles Chargers Loss (7-5) Week 14: @ Los Angeles Rams Win (8-5) Week 15: @ Miami Dolphins Loss (8-6) Week 16: Buffalo Bills Win (9-6) Week 17: New York Jets Win (10-6) While the New England Patriots might not be in the Super Bowl conversation for the upcoming season, they’re certainly not going to roll over with the coaching of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. ESPN reporters on average predicted that they would go 9-7, the betting line for their win total has been set at 9, and despite what everyone thinks the Bills are not heavily favored to win the division. The Bills are in win-now mode; they’ve built a solid defense and given Josh Allen the necessary weapons to make a playoff run. But with all factors considered, it would be naive of us to rule the Patriots out as a result of Tom Brady’s departure. We saw them go 12-4 last season where Brady did not perform like a top ten quarterback, so if Jarrett Stidham is even half as talented as Bill Belichick is leading us to believe, then a 10-6 season for the Patriots is a very realistic outcome.
Going to take a deep look at what the Lions have done previously in the draft, and then try and use that as a predictive look at what Detroit may do this year. So, let’s look back at some key trends and then use those to try and project what a Detroit Lions 2020 Draft will look like. One thing to note...LionsWire reporter Eric Schlitt will likely be releasing his Quinn Influenced Benchmark qualifiers (QIB) soon, and I'd really trust those, as Quinn has a pretty measurable trend for athletic traits. Not to say that he hasn't picked players who aren't there, but rather that it's a good tool to use. But here's my look in a similar manner.
First Round Pick:
Previous: OT Taylor Decker, LB Jarrad Davis, C/G Frank Ragnow, TE T.J. Hockenson · Major Power 5 program (Ohio State, Florida, Arkansas, Iowa)* · No major character concerns · No major injury concerns · Year One Rookie Starter (Decker, Davis, Ragnow, Hockenson) · Position of Need · Take Later Risers into 1st (Davis, Ragnow) · “Box” Focus (not outside skill players) *- Arkansas specifically may not be a major program relatively speaking, but they have a good history for offensive line play, especially at the time. For the most part, Detroit plays thing pretty safe in the 1st round. Decker and Hockenson were both heavily projected to Detroit at various points in the draft process. In 2016 and 2017, the clear top needs were the positions that Detroit took. In 2018 and 2019, a bit less so, but they definitely took positions of need (though most would say TE wasn’t as big of a need as a pass rusher). But on average, Detroit looks for high floor players with minimal risk. Jarrad Davis was considered a pretty high ceiling player due to his athleticism, and Ragnow probably fits that mold due to being a center (taking a center in the 1st round is usually a statement that they’ll be a top 5 player at the position). Decker was OT4 in his draft class, but the clear top player at the spot they had. To a certain extent, I do prioritize the trends that Quinn and Patricia also employed in New England so to speak, but at 4 years of Quinn, and 2 years of Patricia, there’s enough to go more so on what they have in mind. The part that’s both hard and easy to process is that this is the earliest they’ve picked under Quinn. At this point, the draft board is usually clearest, and this season it seems to be pretty clear, pending a surprise pick from the Giants and Gettleman. However, based on everything the Lions have shown, the most likely player to be selected based on these criteria is Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah. While some others could make sense, Okudah checks every box here. Contrast to lacking a clear positional need (Isaiah Simmons) or a major injury concern (Tua), and Okudah seems to be highest here. Derrick Brown probably fits the bill next most after this, though believe it or not, Quinn has really only “reached” on Ragnow in the 1st round, as the others were projected roughly in the range Detroit took him, and Brown’s trending closer to 8-15, rather than top 8. So, whether they trade down or not, Okudah is the predictive pick for Detroit in the 1st round. Now, if they’re able to pick up a late 1st round pick from the Dolphins (1.26 perhaps?), then looking at the mold of Davis and Ragnow fits a bit better than top-half picks like Decker and Hockenson. With those two, the big thing I’d narrow in on is that they were both rising up the boards the closer to the draft things got. With that in mind, I think the most likely choices are iOL Cesar Ruiz (Michigan) or WR Denzel Mims (Baylor). Both have been trending towards 1st round status, and both are high character dues from major CFB programs at relative positions of need. I’d lean towards Ruiz if he’s on the board. Thus, the selection, Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah
Second Round Pick:
Previous Selections: DT A’Shawn Robinson, CB Teez Tabor, RB Kerryon Johnson, LB Jahlani Tavai · Media First-Round Player who dropped (A’Shawn, Tabor post-Combine) · Major Power 5 program (Alabama, Florida, Auburn) · No major character concerns (Tavai had a legal incident, but it wasn’t a bad thing so to speak) · Not consistently a starter (Tabor didn’t, Tavai and A’Shawn were rotational) · Position of Need still relatively high · “Box” Focus as Kerryon was brought in to improve the run game. In the second round, Detroit is not as clear in a pattern as the first round is, as Detroit’s grabbed a variety of different players. A’Shawn Robinson was a player many thought Detroit could consider in the 1st round, but instead took him in the 2nd when he dropped to them. Tabor was similar, though his decline in stock started earlier when he had a poor 40-yard dash at the Combine. Kerryon Johnson was a pretty appropriately valued player at the spot. But the big one that throws this off a bit is Tavai. While it sounds like his scout was a bit higher behind the scenes, but he was an out of the blue pick for many Detroit fans. Regardless, we’ll stick to the earlier indicators, of Detroit going with someone who was a bit of a slider. One player I think would fit this mantra pretty well is Iowa DE A.J. Epenesa. He was pegged as a potential top-10 pick awhile back, but then a mediocre combine may have dropped him from the first round entirely, as he was already not much of a traits player. The bigger question is would a team overlook that before Detroit would be able to snatch Epenesa at 35? Personally, I think so, though if he’s available, I’d be shocked not to hear his name called. There’s a handful of players I think could be considered here, and ultimately, I think this one goes back to the “box” focus, as I’d personally be shocked if Quinn went 2 rounds with premium picks and not adding a physical player to stuff the front seven, or help the run game. I echo the first-round feelings on Ruiz and Epenesa, but ultimately, I think they go in a bit different direction, picking Neville Gallimore out of Oklahoma, as he fits a lot of what Detroit looks for in defensive linemen as an active player with some pop in his hands. Thus, the selection, Oklahoma DT Neville Gallimore
Third Round Picks:
Previous Selections: G/C Graham Glasgow, WR Kenny Golladay, S Tracy Walker, S Will Harris · Lesser known player taken a round or two before most projected them (Will Harris, Tracy Walker, Kenny Golladay) · Smaller schools (Northern Illinois, UL-Lafayette, Boston College to an extent for a S) · Traditionally has been a position where they can replace the current starter after a season or so of getting their feet wet. · Willing to take on a bit more off-field concerns (Glasgow DUI) · Skill position focus (other than Glasgow) This spot is actually a bit clearer for Detroit, as this has traditionally been the “reach” pick for Detroit, where they take someone who was graded out as a round 4/5 player, but instead Detroit snaps them up in this round, ensuring they get their guy. And without a doubt, Bob Quinn has done well at that, specifically in this round, with his first 3 picks looking like high caliber NFL starters. Now, Detroit has two first round picks, and could realistically pick up a third in a trade with the Dolphins or Chargers, but the additional pick here will be a bit interesting, as I’m guessing Detroit will also add a player here that is a bit more in-line with the value, not so much a potential gem in the mold of a Golladay or Walker. I think that, despite the school, EDGE Jonathan Greenard could be in play here. He’s a heavy-handed power rusher that fits what Detroit wants, and the Patriots have traditionally waited until the 3rd or 4th round to begin adding edge rushers. Quinn’s earliest pickup was in the fourth last year, but with the extra pick, I think it’s easy enough to land Greenard as one of my picks. Him being on Detroit’s Senior Bowl roster also ensures they’ve gotten a good look at him, which will be a bit more important now with the limited scouting available due to coronavirus. So we’ll take Greenard as one. For the other one, I think the options are quite expansive here. Detroit certainly needs some OL help, and a few guys on their Senior Bowl rosters would be in range here (Ben Bredeson and Jonah Jackson), though adding a bit more traditional Quinn flavor would suggest someone out of a Group of 5 school. And while personally, I’d love to add Temple iOL Matt Hennessy, he also doesn’t fit the gem mold, as he’s a pretty consensus Day 2 player, and I think the idea here would be to find someone who is an earlier Day 3 guy. So, we’ll go with an offensive lineman projected to land at the end of the fourth in Matt Miller’s latest mock, SDSU iOL Keith Ismael. Ismael’s best fit is in a zone scheme like Detroit’s and his experience at center gives Detroit the backup experience there that Graham Glasgow brought. Thus, the selections, Florida EDGE Jonathan Greenard and SDSU Keith Ismael
Fourth & Fifth Round Picks:
Previous Selections: S Killebrew, G/T Dahl, LB Williams, LB Reeves-Maybin, TE Roberts, CB Agnew, DT Hand, OT Crosby, DE Bryant, CB Oruwariye · Players who have dropped a few rounds and DET stops the slide (Crosby, Oruwariye) · Players highly linked with team previously (Roberts) · All over the place with programs, some big-time (Clemson, PSU last year), others not (San Diego, Utah St, Georgia St, Toledo represent) · Positions tend more towards box. Once Day 3 hits, I think people make too heavy a distinction of the rounds. At this point, everyone is no longer a great bet to be a good player. So simply identify who you think will be and go get them. Detroit has three picks in here, with an extra fifth from the Slay trade with Philly. Thus, I’ll try and find a lesser known guy (G5) as a developmental prospect, a lesser player from a P5 school, and a player who slides down a bit. We’ll start with a Day 2 player who could slip, as Austin Bryant, Amani Oruwariye, and Tyrell Crosby were all guys getting hype as Day 2 prospects who ultimately slide to Detroit. One guy I think that’s being projected as a Day 2 guy who I think could slide a bit is Boston College RB A.J. Dillon, who has a lot of mileage for a big back. Given the devaluation of the running back position, and the deep classes at OT and WR, I think that could push some decent RB’s to the 4th round. For Detroit, however, that’s totally fine, as Dillon fits their athletic benchmarks, and can be a bit more of a bruiser inside, to mesh with Kerryon Johnson’s all-around style, and Ty Johnson’s home-run hitting ability. A quality trio. For the small school guy, I think St. John’s T/G Ben Bartch could be an intriguing choice for the Lions, as they covet lateral athleticism and explosiveness at guard, and he does well in both those categories. It sounds like the Lions are rumored to have interest in the Rhode Island WR’s, especially Aaron Parker who wins with size, hands, and body control with a decent athletic profile. Very Detroit-esque player, and we’ll have them double dipping here at WR. If App State RB Darrynton Evans is available here, he definitely fits Detroit’s mold. Ultimately though, I’m going with Boise State WR John Hightower, whose combine showed great speed (4.43 40) and decent enough explosiveness (38.5 vert / 122.0 broad) to fit the Lions athletic preferences at the position. For a mid-tier power five level player, I think there’s a handful of guys who intrigue with what Detroit has traditionally targeted. Looking at the guys like Jalen Reeves-Maybin and others taken here, they like guys with the ability to be a special team’s impact, but also have the upside to develop into a starter. However, we’re going to go with a trench player, to avoid keeping things too skilled for Quinn’s trends. Thus, a picture-perfect match for a Matt Patricia DL. North Carolina DL Jason Stowbridge is the pick here. Detroit likes to be deep on the DL, and so even with Da’Shawn Hand and Neville Gallimore on the inside, along with free agent signings Danny Shelton and Johnathan Williams. Stowbridge has the ability to play nearly everywhere on the line, with the exception of NT, so finding a place for him won’t be too difficult. If they go with someone else, I could see Utah S Julian Blackmon and Texas A&M WR Quartney Davis as potential picks here. Thus, the selections, Boston College RB A.J. Dillon, Boise State WR John Hightower and UNC DT Jason Stowbridge.
Sixth and Seventh Round Picks:
Previous Selections: DE Zettel, LS Landes, RB Washington, DL Ledbetter, QB Kaaya, DE O’Connor, FB Bawden, WR Fulgham, RB Johnson, TE Nauta, DT Johnson For these rounds, there really is no common denominator, though P5 players and DL are a bit heavier than every other spot. Detroit simply has one pick each round here. One thing I think is a very good chance of is Detroit taking a punter to replace Sam Martin, who signed with the Denver Broncos. If they do so, most of the rumors and sources seem to indicate that Texas A&M P Braden Mann will be the pick, though really there’s a handful of “draftable” punters with Turk from Arizona State and Townsend from Stanford also are a plausibility. And as Quinn showed in his first year as GM, he’s more than willing to select specialists, as he took Baylor LS Jimmy Landes in the 2016 draft. I mentioned DL being a heavier spot in the late rounds for Detroit, so another NT like Nebraska DT Bravion Ray is very much someone I could see Detroit taking, but we won’t be doing so in this one, as we’ve already added 3 DL already. Additionally, running backs have made multiple appearances here, so if Detroit doesn’t land someone like A.J. Dillon or Darrynton Evans earlier, a back like UCLA RB Joshua Kelley or TCU RB Darius Anderson fit a lot of what Detroit looks for. My actual pick here will be an extreme attempt at bargain bin hunting for guard. One thing Detroit looks for quite a bit is explosiveness, and Michigan T/G Jon Runyan Jr. brings plenty of that to the table. While he played LT in college, his NFL future is at guard. He has the lateral agility and demeanor to fit Detroit’s scheme really well. Others who I could see being a factor are Tennessee LB Daniel Bituli, who has the downhill throwback style of play that Patricia covets. Missouri LB Cale Garrett fills some of that as well. Additionally, Utah NT John Penisini could give them some depth and competition at NT. If Detroit wants to bring in a QB whose perhaps a better scheme fit than David Blough, then Oregon State QB Jake Luton would make plenty of sense. Miami EDGE Trevon Hill also fits the Lions mold, and Michigan T/G Jon Runyan Jr. would be an interesting option for some G depth, given his quality athleticism. However, we’ll stick with the competition at TE3, since Detroit uses more 2-TE sets than most teams, so depth there is important. Thus, the selections, Texas A&M P Braden Mann and Michigan T/G Jon Runayn Jr. Overall, this brings Detroit to the following class: 1.3 – CB Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State) 2.35 – DT Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma) 3.67 – EDGE Jonathan Greenard (Florida) 3.85 – G/C Keith Ismael (San Diego St.) 4.109 – RB A.J. Dillon (Boston College) 5.149 – WR John Hightower (Boise State) 5.166 – DL Jason Stowbridge (North Carolina) 6.182 – P Braden Mann (Texas A&M) 7.235 – T/G Jon Runyan Jr. (Michigan) Overall, I think this very much has the feel of a standard Bob Quinn draft. Probably a bit too heavy on recognizable names, but perhaps the scouting disruption means we see fewer “sleepers” getting taken, as evaluations are cut a bit short or are less-than-desired in completion. Anyways, to be clear, this is not at all a suggestion of what I'd personally do, but rather trying to predict what Quinn will likely do in this year's draft. Let me know what you think, or if there's anything you notice that I missed.
Good afternoon, nfl! We're through the first quarter of this race, with only 3 teams remaining undefeated while 6 have yet to win a game. It's early going and there's still a lot of moving around to be done, as these horses are anything but predictable. Some wild swings appear in the rankings this week. Who's overrated? Who's underrated? Who's headed for the glue factory? Find out on the Week 4 edition of the Official NFL Power Rankings! 31/32 reporting.
Pats squeaked out a tough one against the legit Bills defense, but struggled mightily on offense all game. Luckily, the defense was able to stymie the Bills for the most part. A game like this early in the season will give Bill Belichick the ammunition to light a fire under the team for weeks to come. Bring on the Redskins.
On a day where everything went wrong, the Chiefs still found a way to win. Highlighted by a sick lateral from Travis Kelce to Shady McCoy and a game-winning drive orchestrated by Patrick Mahomes, this was the type of game that championship-level teams have to occasionally find a way to win. There is some concern about the run defense going forward because the unit should've gotten better since last year, but it seems to be treading water. The Chiefs will now have four of their next five games at home after finishing their rough stretch of road games.
Two days later, and there still aren’t solid answers as to what happened to the Cowboys on Sunday night. It appeared Kellen Moore misplaced his playbook and instead picked up Scott Linehan’s from 2018. Dak struggled like he did in his sophomore season, and Zeke seemed to be thinking about a beach in Cabo. Even the normally dominant offensive line struggled with the Saints defensive front. Things definitely don’t get easier this week as the Pack comes to town.
When the Saints and the Cowboys play in the Superdome, magic always seems to happen, and the 2019 SNF matchup delivered. Both teams' defenses came to play, ensuring a thrilling contest. The boys in the black and white stripes threw their terrible towels all over the field, but the defenses weren't phased and put on exceptional performances to stymie some of the key players in both teams. Well, except Alvin Kamara, who now has back-to-back 69-yard rushing weeks (nice).
The songbirds proved to be no match for the Seattle squadron, and the war's tiniest captain was sent back to his nest in defeat. Transport Ensign William Dissly brushed off the flitting fowl with ease, and "Clowney" made a critical strike early that made the canaries' voices crack. The Seahawks are now forced to fly home to try to head off a herd of recently domesticated sheep.
Good news: Aaron Rodgers can still sling the ball effectively. Bad news: This was discovered by returning to 2018's style of game where the defense is not able to make a stop and the plays are mostly passes. The Packers drop to 3-1 as they headi into the jaws of road game against a good Cowboys team.
"Everybody told me when I got here [it was hard to win in Chicago], then we won some games. I guess if you turn the ball over and you create penalties and you do dumb things, it’s a pretty hard place to play. I think they've lost their last two at home.” - Mike Zimmer, just days before his team (led by 84 Million Dollar Man Kirk Cousins) was shut out for 57 minutes en route to losing to career backup Chase Daniel. Hey, he nailed it.
The 49ers win the bye week by becoming the last unbeaten team in the NFC.
It seems like an annual occurrence that the Ravens hit some kind of low point and fans question whether this is any more than a 9-7 at best team. Not only did the Ravens fall to 2-2, but they now have as many multi-score losses as multi-score wins. However, the Ravens have been here before and have gone on to finish the season a contender. It all hinges on whether these defensive struggles are an aberration or a trend.
The Eagles found a way to win on the road, including a gritty performance from a severely depleted defense. Luckily for the team, the looming Sunday match-up is against the Jets' "offense." That said, without a major change in secondary personnel or a dramatic amount of positional growth, the Eagles will have to continue to rely on Carson Wentz's arm to bail them out at the end of every game.
The Bills defense put up an incredible performance, holding the Patriots offense to just 9 points (the other 7 coming on a Special Teams play). And still, the offense blew it, ultimately losing 17-10. Buffalo had every chance to win, but horrible decision making by Josh Allen and Brian Daboll, along with a timely endzone drop by Zay Jones (on an admittedly bad ball by Matt Barkley), led to a tough loss. Elite defense marred by an inconsistent offense. What else is new in Buffalo?
Moral victories aren't exactly ideal, but the Lions continue to look like a team that can hang with anyone. Health is the major opponent now, and hopefully, Detroit comes out of the bye on more solid ground in that regard.
A slow start against a struggling Miami squad was a concerning sign for an underachieving Chargers squad, but the team pulled itself together to finish the game with a sizable, but not exactly convincing, win. Unfortunately, the victory came at a cost. Several players, including Melvin Ingram, were sidelined with injuries. While the Chargers' 2-2 record isn't the worst position to be in, this team needed to be better and still needs to do better. The Chargers will start division play by hosting a struggling Broncos team next week.
The difference between daring and stupidity is whether or not you succeed, and in that light, some of this week's calls by the Texans were dumb as hell. The offense still can't find a rhythm, and the defense simply allowed Christian McCaffrey to pad his highlight reel. As Houston joins the rest of the AFC South at 2-2, the question is which teams can get on the right side of .500? The Texans hope to get there at home against the Dirty Birds, but fans won't be surprised if these birds get out of hand.
Christian McCaffrey continued to prove he is not human, as his dazzling highlight-reel catch not only converted a key third down, but also tricked Bill O'Brien into burning a timeout that would be desperately needed by the end of the game. Kyle Allen showed a more mortal side as he coughed up the ball thrice via fumbles, but he also made some critical throws that helped put the game out of reach. If this team can continue to grow and refine itself while its star QB heals, they may position themselves to make some noise by the end of the season.
Tampa upset the undefeated Rams on the road, and the QB Whisperer is starting to work his magic with Jameis. Entering 2019, Jameis hadn’t won a road game since 2016. Now he's 2-0 with 5 TDs, 1 INT, and 593 yards. Meanwhile, the defense has held CMC, Gurley, and Saquon to a combined 63 yards, and Sack Ferret is making an early case for DPOY with 9 sacks and an INT in just four games. A win over the Brees-less Saints, and this team will be rolling with the unstoppable force of an A-Train run up the gut.
Talent and execution. Talent and execution. That's all team sports is - which team has more talent, and which team can utilize their talent in the optimal way. With major injuries piling up, the Colts needed to rely on their execution to win on Sunday. A frustrating day of dropped passes and a brutal late interception from Jacoby Brissett meant the Colts dropped to 2-2.
Marvelous. The mustache serves as memories for mortals to recall my maestoso masterpieces. Mustangs might have seemed to mar my miracles, nay they be mashed by my mighty back. The Mile High air may have meant malice, meekly meaning to move the ball aloft — mootly as it marked my meaning: magnificence! Moreover, I must march on from this mumbling, as some mouser needs macerating. Meanwhile, you may call me... Minshew.
A strong overall performance by Mariota and the Titans was highlighted by WRs A.J. Brown and Corey Davis against Atlanta on Sunday. The Titans had WRs catch 3 TDs during a game for the first time in just under 3 years.
This week, the score doesn't reflect the degree to which Raiders dominated. From the start of the game, it was clear that the Raiders were playing inspired and were the better team. The only downside is that Derek Carr hurt his leg against the Colts again, just like in 2016. Luckily, this time it doesn't seem serious.
HTTR: Haskins Throws Turnovers Regularly. While it's easy to be happy with the defense's performance this week, fans should probably wait until they perform well against a unit other than the maligned Redskins offense. As for Daniel J. Dimes, he continues to impress with his accuracy and mobility, but he has now committed two turnovers in each of his two starts. Rookie mistakes like that are to be expected, but fans have to think that's a focal point for Pat Shurmur and Co. moving forward.
A popular refrain among Steeler fans these days is, "We don't have any coordinators." Well, it seems as though that hit awfully close to home, because this week, they did have coordinators. Case in point: the offense was uptempo and few adjustments were made or needed. Again and again, the correct plays were sent in and executed with plenty of time left on the clock. The defense was also dynamic, and a myriad of players had opportunities for big plays. Of course, this still means it's a simplified system for a young QB and defense, but it does at least prove capability all-around.
This team looks sluggish, ill-prepared, and is all too quickly proving that they cannot hang with any other team in the division. This talented team's window just about shut on Sunday. Koetter and Mularkey were kicked out of Atlanta for a reason, and if Dan Quinn really wanted to save his job, he would hire on a different basis than the buddy system. Let's hope the Falcons' 2020 coaching squad featuring Jerry Glanville, Jim Mora Jr., and Mike Smith can produce more results than the current four-headed hydra of disappointment.
A further backslide into non-competitiveness looms after yet another loss. Bradley Chubb will be a huge loss for a Broncos defense that was already under-performing.
Low expectations were one thing, but to see the Cardinals appear to regress the past two weeks is a cause for major concern. Steve Keim has rightfully been blamed by local media members for the disastrous state this team has been in for 13 months. His seat should get much hotter if the Cards can't figure out a way to win in Cincinnati against a win-less Bengals team on a short week
The Bengals are a bad football team, and they will continue to be a bad football team as long as Mike Brown is the owner.
With Weeks 5, 6, and 7 of the preseason behind them, the Jets look to start the season with a bang as the returns of C.J. Mosley, Sam Darnold, and Quinnen Williams get closer every day.
After all the defense's talk and Landon Collins specifically discussing facing his old team and giving them "payback," that was just embarrassing. There isn't much else to say.
They did it! They finally kept the game within 3 TDs! They also finally had a lead! This group of football players in Miami is clearly showing that they may qualify to be called a "team" by the end of the season!
Who should the Dolphins take in the 2020 NFL Draft? (Number333 Breakdown - Offense)
MY HISTORY (BONAFIDES) Sorry if putting my user in the title is ego-centric, I just love draft stuff. Here's my history in terms of wants/predictions with the Dolphins. 2017 NFL Draft - Pick #22. I wanted Forrest Lamp. He has been INCREDIBLY injured only playing 9 games in 3 years with the Chargers. I hated the idea of taking Taco Charlton. He got taken in the 1st by Dallas, got cut, and signed to us (lol was our leading sacker this past year with 5). I also thought we may take Jarrad Davis out of Florida who went to Detroit. Lions fans are disappointed with him and think he's bust. We ended up taking DE Charles Harris. The conclusion? You don't know shit, I don't know shit, and the Dolphins FO back then didn't know shit. Should have taken TJ Watt I guess. 2018 NFL Draft - Pick #11. I really liked Lamar Jackson. This was my snippet on the QBs. Fact check it yourself.
The Quarterbacks: They are the hoopla and the focus of everyones attention this year. I would say 5 Top-Tier guys in Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen. In terms of my favorite of those 5, I have to go with Mayfield and Jackson. I LOVED Watson last year because he was a winner in college and had the "it" factor and I see a lot of that in Baker. Think he has definite boom or bust potential. I also really like Lamar Jackson because of the pure athleticism and feel like Gase could really work with him if he likes him(though I haven't heard much buzz involving him) After that, very meh on Darnold and Rosen terrifies me not because he's smart but Jimmy Clausen vibes. I would HATE Josh Allen because my god does he look like an obvious bust ala Blaine Gabbert.
I stand by almost every single comment I made there. I'm meh on Darnold, don't think Rosen is good, and while Josh Allen made the playoffs with Buffalo I still don't think he's leading them very far. I LOOOOOOOOOVED Roquan Smith out of Georgia. On the Bears post when they drafted him I said he had Defensive Player of the Year potential. He had injury issues this past year with a torn pectoral and got into a car crash a few months ago. He's been solid, but not game-breaking like I'd thought he'd be. I also loved Minkah (like everybody else in that draft post) and would be elated if we took him. We did! and hah... that worked out didn't it fellas? 2019 NFL Draft - Pick #13. It wasn't happening just because we won one too many games but I loved Ed Oliver as a DT. He made the All-Rookie team with Buffalo. I also liked Jonah Williams the OT the Bengals took despite it being boring, he got hurt in practice and didn't play a single down his rookie year. I did hit on us taking Christian Wilkins as a realistic option - he was alright I'd say. He had that stupid ejection on like the 4th play of the game, but let's hope with some actual DEs in Shaq Lawson and Ogbah along with Godchaux he can be more of an impact player next year. I was down on every QB except for Kyler Murray as well. CONCLUSION? I'm not great at this but I have fun doing it. Take a trip if you're bored and you can hear a wild man's ramblings due to COVID-19 baby! QUARTERBACKS Tua Obsessed - Tua Tagovailoa is the end all be all for me. I like him more than Burrow, I think he'll be a better QB at the next level than Burrow, and I've felt this way for well over a year when I said I thought Tua would be viewed as an Andrew Luck-level prospect by the time the draft comes around. He is not without his flaws - specifically durability. I think it'd be unrealistic to expect 16 games a year from him for 10+ seasons. But I'd rather have him relatively healthy (Think Carson Wentz) over Herbert/Love by a mile. That's how good I think he is, and I think that the Dolphins contingency against him really shouldn't ever question Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees if they're trepidatious over his injury history. It's just one throw but this absolute beauty late vs LSU... All I'm saying is a hobbled 60-70% Tua looked better than Trevor Lawrence did in the Championship Game. The absolute dream would be to get him with the #5 pick and not have to move up for him. I feel like our only real competition left at this point is the Chargers - I hope they stay put at #6, ride out Tyrod Taylor / fall in love with Herbert and I think we'll have one hell of a foundation moving forward. Oh No, Tua's Gone... **** - So let's say Tua gets snatched by a team in front of us (Chargers, Raiders, Broncos... whoever really) and now we're left at the altar without a franchise QB. What's the next best alternative? Hard pass on Justin Herbert. I get that he has all the physical tools anybody could fall in love with - but I don't want to spend a Top 5 pick on an inconsistent gun-slinger just because everybody says he's the 3rd best QB prospect. I don't think he moves the needle as a QB. Maybe he'll be decent. But did we get rid of Tannehill to end up with another 5+ years of a Tannehill-middling QB? Don't think so. Jordan Love is a big-time project. Lots of raw stuff to like but from what I've read he has some awful habits he has to break before being ready at the next level. If we took him at #18 I wouldn't exactly love it since that's a high value pick you're using on a complete ? mark but I could see in the 2021 NFL Season us giving him some run. Still - prolly wouldn't be thrilled. After that, you're not really talking about 1st Rounders. Don't think Fromm will be very good. I like the idea of Hurts as a back-up, but in the 4th-5th Rounds and we already have Fitz/Rosen it doesn't really make sense. Eason's a JAG IMO. Shoutout to James Morgan from FIU for getting some draft buzz too. TL;DR QBs - Give me Tua or give me death. If we draft Herbert, I will whine and bitch like I did when the Heat drafted Tyler Herro. Don't look up his draft post pls. I was in a bad place (still think Romeo Langford and Sekou will be good players tho). I'm not gonna pretend like I'm an idiot though, I called Josh Rosen not doing jack for us the second we traded for him. RUNNING BACKS J.K. Dobbins >>>>> D'Andre Swift - I can't fathom the love for Swift as the #1 RB. I think JK Dobbins is a great deal better, and I even like Jonathan Taylor more than Swift. In terms of how it pertains to the Dolphins, I know A LOT of people are down on drafting a RB at our #26 pick late in the 1st Round due to what just transpired with Todd Gurley and the history of 1st Round RBs getting paid big contracts and then not panning out... but JK Dobbins is a frigging baller. Has been since his Freshman year. It felt like vs Clemson he was good for 8+ yards every time they went to him. He does have more mileage on him than Swift but I love the idea of Dobbins being a great bailout option as a pass catching threat (since I don't understand how you could bet on our O-line being "good" given the last decade of performances). I'd love Dobbins 10x more at the start of the 2nd Round - but if we picked him at #26, I'd be quite happy. Other RBs Later On - I really like Cam Akers. He failed to produce quite like Dalvin Cook but those FSU teams also took a down-turn in recent years. Also like Joshua Kelley out of UCLA. With the signing of Jordan Howard, I don't think we need to draft a mid-round RB. We've had some decent success with a 5th Rounder in Jay Ajayi, Drake as a 3rd Rounder has the Miami Miracle and was a nice change of pace back, and while Kalen Ballage was a gigantic disappointment last year as a 4th Rounder, he supposedly was doing well in camp and then none of that transitioned to gametime. I say roll with Howard, use Ballage here and there, and hope we have a preseason surprise standout (who remember the Orleans Darkwa games????) TL;DR RBs - I think Dobbins is a lot better than Swift. Like as a late 1st, love as a 2nd. Akers is cool too. Not a huge need. Still expect us to draft at least one. WIDE RECEIVERS DVP / Preston / Hurns / Grant / Ford / Wilson, who tf else we need? - DeVante Parker emerged as the #1 WR in receiving yards in the AFC last year and blossomed with Fitzpatrick. He made Stephon Gilmore his son. He beasted on the Eagles in Mills/Darby. He became the AJ Green-like #1 WR we were waiting for when we took him in the 1st Round. Williams was a superstar in preseason, and while he had too many drops in the regular season he was our 2nd best WR by yards despite only playing in 8 games. His best game was in our 1st win vs the Jets. But even with his surprise emergence, I think we can 100% do with a high-end WR prospect. Think about it. Is 29-year old Allen Hurns a long-term commitment? Wilson flashed some 2018 ability but we can't seriously rely on him. Ford came on stronger as the season ended but his ceiling is limited if we're being honest. What I'm saying is, while this isn't an awful WR crew, a top WR wouldn't hurt and shouldn't be dismissed in favor of "DRAFT O-LINE MAN" just cuz it's O-lineman. We drafted Pouncey/Ju'Wuan/Tunsil and still had a bad O-line for the most part. It's not all about investing 1st Rounders. Holy crap this WR class is stacked - Tua's boys in Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III are some of the top WRs. I think Jeudy is gonna be phenomenal, real hot take over here. If he's at pick #18 inexplicably, take his ass and don't look back. Same deal with CeeDee Lamb really - and I think he'd fit in better with our current WR crop given his RAC ability. I love Tee Higgins size but it's a duplicating skillset with DVP/Preston. Denzel Mims also tickles my fancy. If you want someone even later on in the draft, take a look at Quintez Cephus from Wisconsin. He has a wild history please be warned... accused of sexual assault, went through the whole ordeal, eventually found not guilty. We got Preston Williams undrafted due to his personality issues at Colorado. All I'm saying is in the 4th/5th Cephus could be a steal - all I hope for really is avoiding wasting assets trading up for a Leonte Carroo-tier WR. TL;DR WRs - Jeudy/Lamb are must-haves if they're somehow there at pick #18 regardless of other needs. They won't be tho. We could absolutely use a higher end WR prospect to go with our crop of guys. TIGHT ENDS Let's GeSexy With It - Gesicki was our 2nd best pass catching option last year behind DVP. He made some incredible catches and showed vast improvement over his rookie season. Caught the game-winning touchdown Week #17 @ New England. Glad we're getting production out of a 2nd Rounder. So with him, Durham Smythe as another 4th Round asset that's a strictly blocking TE, I don't really see a strong need for a tight end. Our last few tight ends drafted haven't been great. We spent a 5th in 2014 on Arthur Lynch who did nothing for us. Dion Sims in the 4th in 2013 had that game-winning TD vs Atlanta and little else. I still have nightmares of spending a 3rd we got for Brandon Marshall on Michael Egnew. This is a weaker TE class without a stud like Hockenson last year. I don't think Randy Moss' son is gonna be very great at the next level. If I had to pick one, I like the other LSU TE - Stephen Sullivan, with a mid-round pick despite little production due to the fact LSU was just an over-whelmingly stacked team this past year. TL;DR TEs - We don't need one. I could still see us taking one in the 4th - 6th rounds. OFFENSIVE LINEMEN I don't know if he's good, but he plays the position we need! - This happens too often when people talk about fixing the O-line. It's always been an issue on here. People say just draft 5 offensive linemen in the draft and that'll fix it. Sure, how far back do I have to take you to make you realize dumping draft assets on a position doesn't work? Hell, let's do it!
2010 NFL Draft: 3rd Round, Pick #73 - OG John Jerry (He's still playing in the NFL, been with Giants/Bengals)
2011 NFL Draft: 1st Round, Pick #15 - C Mike Pouncey (4x Pro Bowler, too bad it felt like he was hurt every other week)
2012 NFL Draft: 2nd Round, Pick #42 - LT Jonathan Martin (hahahahahaha.. hahah... aww... this makes me sad)
2013 NFL Draft: 3rd Round, Pick #77 - OG Dallas Thomas (Mans is out of the NFL and got cut by Gase after we fell to 1-4 2016)
2014 NFL Draft: 1st Round, Pick #19 - RT Ju'Wuan James (Got a MAMMOTH deal from Denver, 4-years/51M... played 3 games)
2014 NFL Draft: 3rd Round, Pick #67 - OG Billy Turner (Got cut w/ Thomas after Titans game, he's been great for Green Bay)
2015 NFL Draft: 4th Round, Pick #114 - OG Jamil Douglas (Cut, won SB w/ Patriots barely playing, started 5 games for TEN)
2016 NFL Draft: 1st Round, Pick #13 - LT Laremy Tunsil (The bong with a gas mask fiasco, we got 2 1sts + 1 2nd for him)
2019 NFL Draft: 3rd Round, Pick #78 - OG Michael Deiter (I cannot honestly say anything about him, don't have analysis)
That's the top 5 rounds worth of drafting of O-linemen for Miami in a DECADE. That's 3 1st rounders! Year after year we invested... and with what to show for it? All I'm saying is, be careful what you ask for. I'd love an Andrew Thomas at #18. Mekhi Becton and Jedrick Willis are literal goliaths. But... I'm not going to pretend like I know what the hell I'm watching/grading when it comes to O-linemen. If you go through the draft posts of those players, you'll see all of us get excited about our O-line FINALLY being fixed. The NFL doesn't work that way. You can't just dump resources into an area and win. There needs to be chemistry, proper development, etc... I'd like one in the 2nd Round at minimum to help Ereck Flowers, Ted Karras, and Jesse Davis - but I can't give props for a pick until I see how we do in the regular season. That's all I know about offensive linemen. TL;DR O-linemen - I can't pretend to know what's good. If we draft 3 O-linemen with some of our Top 70 picks, I still won't be thrilled and think we fixed it. Look how many of our top-tier linemen even dating back to Jake Long just constantly kept getting hurt. We did that for a decade and it didn't. I know this is a different regime but still... be cautious when it comes to celebrating guys nobody really watches when the game is going on. THIS IS SO LONG IM NOT GONNA READ IT JUST GIVE IT TO ME HOT AND FAST Players I'd Love To See Us Take 1st Round: Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Andrew Thomas, JK Dobbins, Jedrick Willis Players I'd Hate To See Us Take 1st Round: Justin Herbert, D'Andre Swift, Henry Ruggs III, if we pass on Tua I'ma lose my shit Sorry if this was a little heavy on 1st Rounders, but with the 3 we have I can't help but lean into them. Defense is next!
Patriots vs. Broncos 2016, AFC Championship odds: New England betting favorite at Denver Tom Brady and Peyton Manning go head to head for the 17th time in the AFC Championship Game between the 2016 Denver Broncos defeated Carolina Panthers – 24-10. 2015 New England Patriots defeated Seattle Seahawks – 28-24. 2014 Seattle Seahawks defeated Denver Broncos – 43-8. 2013 Baltimore Ravens defeated San Francisco 49ers – 34-31. 2012 New York Giants defeated New England Patriots – 21-17 Patriots vs. Broncos: Early Prediction, Betting Odds For 2016 AFC Championship Game. By Anthony Riccobono @tony_riccobono 01/18/16 AT 6:09 PM. Michel remains in line for 200 carries if upright for a full 16 games. The Patriots figure to run more this year with Tom Brady gone. In addition to Michel, the Patriots have James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris and J.J. Taylor on the running back depth chart. New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos Odds - Sunday December 18 2016. Live betting odds and lines, betting trends, against the spread and over/under trends, injury reports and matchup stats for bettors.
AFC Championship NFL Picks for Patriots vs. Broncos
Published on Oct 24, 2016 In NFL Week 8, the New England Patriots may once again have betting value as a significant favorite, while the Atlanta Falcons will try to bounce back after an upset loss ... Betting Line, driven by David Miller for trainer Casie Coleman, won the 71st Little Brown Jug, presented by the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association, in straight heats. His 1:49 win in the final ... NFL 2016 Week 15 Patriots at Broncos Chip Maude. ... MASSIVE Playoff Seeding on the Line: ... How the Patriots Held the Rams to Three Points in Super Bowl LIII - Duration: 41:24. NFL Films ... Published on Jan 29, 2016 Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos has seen considerable line movement as a result of a very interesting overall betting action profile ... Published on Jan 19, 2016 The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos square off for the AFC Conference Championship and with a trip to Super Bowl 50 on the line.