All posts by Migi Contreras

Week 4 in Review: 4 things we learned

Week four is in the books, and it was nothing short of controversial and drama-filled. From missed field goals to referee mess ups, here are four things we learned from week four of the NFL regular season. Plus, it was week four, so four things? Get it? Nevermind then, let’s get to it.

1) Who you have at kicker matters, seriously 

Week four was a terrible week for kickers. And I’m putting that mildly. There were 18 combined misses between field goals and extra points. Kickers missed game-winning chip shots. Week four was just so disgusting, and it taught us that you really need a good kicker. Josh Scobee of the Pittsburgh Steelers missed two field goals. Jason Myers of the Jacksonville Jaguars missed two game winning field goals. Zach Hocker of the New Orleans Saints dinged a potential game winning field goal off the upright. Caleb Sturgis of the Philadelphia Eagles missed a field goal and an extra point in a three-point loss the the Washington Redskins. There are only a few 100% accurate kickers in the NFL right now, and that list includes Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots, Travis Coons of the Cleveland Browns, and Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos. A good, accurate kicker is needed now in the NFL, and they’re the difference between a win, overtime, or a loss.

2) Drew Brees can still sling it.

Did Drew Brees really have a shoulder injury? On Sunday Night Football, Drew Brees carved up on the Dallas Cowboys defense as he went 33/41 for 359 yards an two touchdown passes. That second touchdown pass, was his 400th career touchdown pass, and it was the go-ahead touchdown to CJ Spiller to close the game in overtime. This game not only proved that his shoulder is fine, but he can still put up monster numbers.

3) The Cowboys are cursed with the injury bug.

 

Tony Romo is out. Dez Bryant is out. And so is practically half the roster for the Dallas Cowboys. On Sunday, the team lost linebacker Sean Lee and running back Lance Dunbar. This team has dealt with so many losses, that it’s a surprise they’re even 2-2. The team has played with so many bench and depth players, it’s like the movie, The Replacements. In all seriousness though, With all the current injuries that are stacked on this roster, this is a tough hole for the Cowboys to climb out of. With the NFC East in a three-way tie, the Cowboys need to get all the help they can get to even have a shot at the playoffs. And right now, help doesn’t look like it’s coming anytime soon.

4) The Refs need to open up their eyes

Seriously, referees really need to open up their eyes. I’m not kidding. Monday Night Football ended with a controversial no-call that was clear as day. How could they not see that KJ Wright illegally batted the ball to the back of the endzone? How could they not call that? Detroit should have rightfully had another chance to beat the Seahawks. The referees need to get it together quick if we’re going to like them, as if we’ve ever like them.

Week 3 NFL review: 5 things we learned

Week three is in the books and has brought its share of surprises. There were more major injuries, and somehow backup quarterbacks put up some pretty good numbers. Let’s review week three with five things we learned from last week’s games

1) Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been amazing

Who knew that two aged veterans would still be able to put up huge numbers? This week Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald continued to put up video game numbers as the Arizona Cardinals pounded the San Francisco 49ers 47-7. Palmer went 20/32 for 311 yards and two touchdown passes. Through three weeks Palmer has thrown for 803 yards, nine touchdowns to only two interceptions. Fitzgerald had nine catches for 134 yards. It was his second straight game where he had more than 100 yards receiving. To put that in perspective, Fitzgerald had only two games where he past 100 yards receiving last season.  With the Cardinals standing at 3-0, Palmer and Fitzgerald are lights out in the twilight of their careers.

2) San Francisco and Kaepernick need major fixes

On the other hand, the San Francisco 49ers were on the receiving end of the 47-7 blowout against the Cardinals. Kaepernick was horrendous. Kaepernick went 9/19 for 67 yards. He threw for no touchdowns, but threw four interceptions. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns. Those two pick-6s happened in six minutes into the first quarter. The only bright spot of Kaepernick’s performance was a 12-yard touchdown run. There needs to be some change in San Francisco. No, I’m not saying that the 49ers should start Gabbert, because that is even worse, but the 49ers and Kaepernick need to find ways to improve. Kaepernick’s play through the first three games have been largely inconsistent. In their week one victory, Kaepernick went 17/26 for a dismal 165 yards and no touchdowns. Then in a week two blowout loss, He went 33/46 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Then this trash performance happened. Whatever happened to the Kaepernick that took the league by storm during San Francisco’s Super Bowl run in 2012? The 49ers and Kaepernick need to find away to get back to that, or else it is going to be a long season.

3) The Oakland Raiders are proving they’re  legit

Who knew we would be saying this, but the Oakland Raiders are winning and competitive? Weird, I know. After being blown out 33-13 to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders have turned around, all thanks to Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. With them lighting up on offense, the Raiders have pulled victories over the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Carr has thrown for 726 yards and five touchdowns on the season, and Amari Cooper leads the team with 290 yards receiving. Latavius Murray has provided additional help with 248 yards on the ground. On the defensive side of things, they’ve provided clutch stops. Standing at 2-1 and their great play, the Raiders look like they can compete for a playoff spot in the AFC. And no, I’m not kidding.

4) Who your backup quarterback is matters

Week three had teams start notable backups in place of their starting quarterbacks due to injury. With Tony Romo out for 8 weeks, the Dallas Cowboys started Brandon Weeden in a 39-28 loss where the Cowboys blew the lead in the 2nd half. Yes, Weeden went 22/26 for 232 yards, but don’t let the numbers fool you.  Almost all of Weeden’s passes were short or dumpoffs, and very few if any deep balls. Weeden threw an interception when he was flushed out of the pocket trying to throw downfield. Weeden did not throw a touchdown as the Cowboys run game led by Joseph Randle carried the offense. But the run game is not enough to win the game, especially since your franchise quarterback and best wide receiver are out for extended periods of time. Weeden is 5-17 as a starter, something that should trouble the Cowboys. Going to the southeast, The New Orleans Saints started Luke McCown in place of an injured Drew Brees in a 27-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers.  Again, don’t be fooled by the 31/38 for 310 yards statline. Many of those passes were short, even if he averaged 8.2 yards a pass. And like Weeden, choked the game away by throwing an interception. McCown is also 2-8 as a starter, a stat that should worry the Saints if Brees is out longer than we think. Up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers must deal with losing Ben Roethlisberger for 4-6 weeks due to a sprained MCL and bruised bone, and must start Michael Vick, who seems to be way past his prime. Like it or not, backup quarterbacks matter in the NFL, and you’re fortunate if you have a good one. By the way, we could be looking at a Weeden versus McCown matchup on Sunday Night Football, great.

5) The new extra point rule is truly affecting games

This year, the NFL changed the rules to make extra points be kicked from the 15 yard line to make them an impact on the game. This rule change has made it’s impact and has affected the outcome of games. Before, extra points were automatic, with only 8 being missed throughout the whole 2014 season. This season, through only three games, we’ve past that number at 14. This affects games as what should have been a one possession game, has become a two possession game because of a missed extra point. Instead of going for the “automatic” choice of the extra point, more teams are leaning towards the closer two point conversions. But those are not automatic either. Because of this rule change, what a team does after scoring a touchdown has become more intriguing.

Week 2 recap: 5 things we learned

Week two of the NFL is in the books. This week was more shocking than others, even if it is only week two. Regardless, we learned more about who’s a contender, who’s a pretender, and even a possible MVP candidate. So, here are the five things we learned from week two of the regular season.

1) Tom Brady is the MVP frontrunner

After a stellar week one performance by Tom Brady, he put up even more video game numbers as he led the New England Patriots to a 40-32 win over the Buffalo Bills.  Brady went 38/59 for 466 yards and three touchdown passes. Also he put up history, as he is the first quarterback to throw at least 55 passes, 450 yards and three touchdowns in one game. On the season, Tom Brady has thrown for 754 yards and seven touchdown passes with no interceptions. At this rate, Brady is on pace for 6,032 yards and 56 touchdowns. Tom Brady is putting up an MVP season, and looks unstoppable

2) The Colts and Eagles are overrated 

Both the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles are overrated. They both stand at 0-2 records, and no one predicted or saw this coming. The Colts were dubbed as Super Bowl contenders and an easy pick to win it all. Well, they should not be. Their offense has not generated points or gone anywhere, and Andrew Luck is throwing interceptions like Christmas. This offense was supposed to be dominating, but after being shut down by the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, they are essentially flat. Plus, the Colts defense is terrible, and should not be a surprise after we saw Tom Brady and the Patriots carve up the Colts in the AFC Championship game 45-7. In Philadelphia, the Eagles got what they deserved. Chip Kelly was given power over his players, and traded away talent for players he wanted. Was it worth it? Sam Bradford was just preseason hype, and Demarco Murray is not running around putting up video game numbers. The O-line can not block and give Bradford time to throw or give Murray room to run. Also, their offense had eight possessions that lasted fewer than two minutes in their game against the Cowboys, that did not end up in points. The Colts and Eagles were heralded as the best and prime contenders for the Super Bowl, well now they are just exposed as overrated, and righfully so.

3) On the other hand, Don’t worry about Seattle being 0-2 

Right after I talked about two 0-2 teams being overrated, I talk about another 0-2 team. Though it is a surprise that the Seattle Seahawks are 0-2, there is good reason.  The defense is not the same without Kam Chancellor, and the offense needs to put up more points. Though it seems that the world is falling in Seattle, they shouldn’t be worried. Last season, the Seahawks started 3-3, and finished 12-4 and ended up in the Super Bowl.

4) New Orleans is going to struggle 

The New Orleans Saints have controlled the NFC South for many years. However, this year, is not that year. After dropping losses to the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints sit at 0-2. Drew Brees does not look the same without Jimmy Graham, and the offense is struggling without him. What was a high flying offense putting up huge numbers, is stuck scoring only 19 points a game. Adding on, the defense has struggled in stopping teams from scoring. What makes matters worse is that Drew Brees could miss games due to a rotator cuff injury. That means that Luke McCown or rookie Garrett Grayson will have to go under center if Brees does miss games. It’s going to be a tough year for the Saints, but it could be worse.

5) Maybe Kirk Cousins is actually capable of leading the Washington offense

Who knew, Kirk Cousins could actually manage the Washington Redskins offense. In week one, he went 21/31 for 196 yards with one touchdown, but two interceptions. He pretty much led a dysfunctional Redskins team to a near win over the Miami Dolphins. Then this week, he led them to a 24-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams, as he went 23/27 for 203 yards and one touchdown. Even though the RGIII drama is still alive and well in Washington, Cousins is doing his job and trying to lead his team to victory. At 1-1, Cousins has the Redskins looking like they are contenders in the NFC East behind the 2-0 Dallas Cowboys. They could contend for the division title especially since Dallas has lost Tony Romo for at least seven games, Philadelphia is in disarray, and the Giants are busy blowing leads away. However, time will tell if Cousins will take advantage and push Washington to take the division lean, especially since everything looks to be in their favor.

 

NFL Recap: 5 Things We Learned from Week 1

NFL football season is underway with week one’s slate of games finishing up on Monday Night Football, and the viewers got a good chunk of entertainment, surprises, and sloppiness. With it all, NFL fans everywhere learned more about teams, players and possible season outlooks.

1. The New England Patriots came out with a vengeance.

The New England Patriots are winning, no new news there. But we’re going to be seeing the Patriots use a mantra we have not heard since Spygate, “It’s us versus the world.” Off the heals of Deflategate and Tom Brady’s suspension, we saw the Patriots play with such ferocity and intensity in their season opener versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though the final score was 28-21, the game was very much dominated by the Patriots. Tom Brady went 25/32 for 288 yards and four touchdown passes. The narrative of the Patriots dominating their opponents could be commonly heard throughout the season, and the “us versus the world” mantra could very well give them even more motivation to make another Super Bowl run. Also, don’t mess with an angry Tom Brady.

2Marcus Mariota is the real deal

Marcus Mariota, the number two pick in the draft, impressed in his first career start. In fact, impressed was an understatement. Mariota was historic and near-perfect in his debut as the Tennessee Titans squandered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14. Mariota threw for 13/16 for 209 yards and four touchdown passes. What’s significant about the four touchdown passes is that they all came in the first half. The feat of a rookie throwing four touchdowns in his opener has not been done since Fran Tarkenton in 1965. With the impressive debut, it has essentially eliminated the talk of Mariota only being a system quarterback under Oregon’s fast-paced spread offense, and also eliminated the questions of Mariota possibly struggling to adjust to a pro-style offense.

3. Jameis Winston on the other hand, needs more improvement

Number one pick Jameis Winston, however, struggled and at times looked inept in his debut. His debut went south quickly when his first career past was intercepted and returned for a pick-six. Winston completed lest than 50% percent of his passes as he went 16/33 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. But with those two touchdowns, Winston threw two interceptions. However, it is too early to be hitting the panic button on Jameis yet. Winston is playing behind a shaky offensive line, and was also missing key receiver Mike Evans. However, that is not an excuse for having trouble in finding rhythm with throwing to them. As the season progresses, hopefully he should improve.

4. Maybe Johnny Manziel does have a chance.

After a disastrous rookie season, many began to write off Johnny Manziel as a bust. After checking into rehab, and a successful off-season of growth, a spark of hope was ignited when the Cleveland Browns opened up the season in New York against the Jets. After starter Josh McCown got lit up and sent out of the game with a concussion, Johnny football stepped in. Immediately, he made an impact by throwing a 54 yard bomb for a touchdown. However, the positives would shy away as the Jets force an interception and a couple of fumbles from Manziel during a 31-10 rout. Manziel finished 13/24 for 182 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Though they may not seem like big stats, it is a vast improvement over his rookie season. If he does start week two in place of a concussed Josh McCown, expect him to put up bigger numbers and seize the opportunity. Johnny Manziel has changed, and has improved.

5. It’s going to be a season of chaos

The Buffalo Bills beat the Indianapolis Colts. The St. Louis Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks. Those results should not have happened. But yet the underdog came out on top. And it is only a sign of things to come. This NFL season is going to be a season of twists, turns, and most importantly chaos. Teams that we thought were juggernauts, will stumble and fall and get upset. Peyton Manning failed to throw a touchdown pass, Marshawn Lynch couldn’t run one yard to convert a first down, the San Francisco 49ers won despite being cast off due to the tumultuous off-season. Everyone better buckle up, because of what happened in week one, this season is going to be the year of chaos.

With Brady freed, Goodell and NFL are exposed and need change

It's been a headache for both Roger Goodell & Tom Brady
It’s been a headache for both Roger Goodell & Tom Brady

The biggest news to come out of the NFL today was not a roster cut, a trade, or that the NFL is moving back to Los Angeles. No, it was Judge Robert Berman ruling in favor of Tom Brady and nullified his four-game suspension.  Meaning, He’s playing when the New England Patriots open up the season versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the other three games Brady would have missed because of the suspension.

Everyone in the New England area, and Patriots fans everywhere rejoiced as the greatest player to ever play for their franchise was free.  As great it is to celebrate this victory over the NFL, many fans and spectators of the situation learned something. Goodell and the NFL have been beaten again and truly exposed.

This is not the first time Goodell and the NFL lost appeal cases. He’s lost the cases against Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and now this. This time around, Roger Goodell was exposed for being unfair in the appeal process, as well showing bias. There were even reports that it was the NFL who were the ones who leaked the false information to ESPN when the scandal initially erupted. And throughout this court case, Judge Berman completely hammered Goodell and the NFL for it.

Judge Berman felt that Goodell “dispense[d] his own brand of industrial justice.” Heck, he called bullcrap on the “independent” investigation by Ted Wells.  Berman also believed that throughout the whole “independent” investigation by Wells and the NFL, that it was unfair the whole entire time.

With this huge win for Brady and the Patriots, means a huge blow and a loss to the already big pile of losses for the NFL. Even if Goodell has “universal support” from the owners, said owners want a complete overhaul of the discipline system and not want the NFL appeal this decision. Well, Goodell did not listen, and has confirmed an appeal.

Agreeing with the owners and NFLPA, There should be changes, this sort of hoopla can not happen again. This was by far the stupidest thing Goodell could have made an issue about.

There has to be changes, because Goodell is lying right out in the open, exposed.

Quarterback Michael Vick signs with Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Quarterback Michael Vick last played for the New York Jets.

After a brief stint with the New York Jets, free agent quarterback Michael Vick has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The deal is for one year, and only worth roughly $1 million.

Vick had was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 draft, and became a franchise quarterback, leading the team to a conference championship game in 2004. He was released from the team when he was arrested for dogfighting in 2007, and served 21 months in prison followed by 2 months house arrest. He made his return by playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick did lead the Eagles to a playoff spot in 2009 and again in 2010, but never was able to lead them into deep playoff runs or stay healthy and consistent. In 2013 the Eagles chose not to resign Vick, who had been replaced by Nick Foles as starting QB.

Looking like his career may end, Vick was given the gift of a 1 year 5 million dollar contract by the New York Jets in 2014 to mentor the struggling Geno Smith. It proved to be an effort in futility for the Jets, in week 10 Vick was named their starter over Smith, and he pulled off their second win of the season. He had only started three games, and only competed 52.9% of his passes for 604 yards, throwing only for three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Michael Vick’s role with the Steelers is unknown, but it is a given that he is going to be a veteran backup to franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The signing could make sense as the other quarterbacks on the Steelers roster, Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones, are either injured or have yet to prove their worth. Other than being a backup, Vick could provide more versatility when it comes to the possibility of more attempts at two-point conversions, especially with the extra point distance being pushed back.

NFL: Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota preseason debut breakdown

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, quarterbacks taken first and second in the 2015 NFL Draft debuted for their respective teams in their preseason openers.

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Jameis Winston, drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had his debut on Aug. 15, and struggled in the game against the Minnesota Vikings.  Winston finished the day throwing 9-for-19 for 131 yards. He also threw an interception. Winston’s day was off to a bad start, as he kept missing receivers, usually overthrowing them, or throwing too high, like his interception.  He also got hit often and sacked twice. Jameis also fumbled a snap. Though there were many negatives, Jameis did show off his talent and why the Bucs chose him first. He led two scoring drives, one ending in a field goal, one ending with a touchdown. His touchdown drive was impressive, as on the nine-play 76 yard drive, he completed five straight passes. He then capped it off by running in a touchdown from eight yards out.

Though Winston had a shaky and troubling debut, there should not be anything to worry about. It was the first preseason game, and there’s three more to go. Even though Winston has lots of expectations, he is a rookie and will have speed bumps. He has the talent to be great, and should progress through the preseason.

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Marcus Mariota, drafted second overall by the Tennessee Titans, debuted on Aug 14. against the Atlanta Falcons. Overall, Mariota played great in his debut, even though he  struggled and got off to a bad start. His first two possessions ended in turnovers, one being an interception, and one being a fumble returned for a touchdown. When his first ever NFL play led to being sacked, Mariota threw an interception after he failed to see Falcons linebacker Justin Durant sprinting to make a play and stopping the screen. On the fumble, guard Chance Warmack blew the protection, letting Jonathan Babineaux strip the ball as Maritota stepped up to pass. However, after those two mishaps, it was smooth sailing as we saw Mariota show off his talent and accuracy we had been accustomed to seeing when he was an Oregon Duck.  Mariota led a scoring drive where he threw for four straight completions, and was capped off by a Dexter McCluster rushing touchdown. At the end of the night, Mariota finished seven-for-eight for 94 yards, with the interception being his lone incompletion.

Even with Mariota heading out of the gate struggling, he surged and finished strong. Marcus looked comfortable in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense, silencing some questions on whether he would be able to adjust to an pro-style offense. However, Mariota did seem more comfortable taking snaps from shotgun instead of under center.

Both Winston and Mariota had bad starts, but showed their toughness and mentality by being able to power through and finish strong. Though it is only one preseason game and that we should take this with a grain of salt, the future looks bright for the Buccaneers and Titans, and their franchise quarterbacks.