You would think that the town you play football in has your back. Especially if your the starting quarterback.
Cincinnati Bengal’s quarterback, Andy Dalton, was booed while making an appearance at Great American Ball Park in the Queen City. So, I guess, success isn’t no longer measure by a playoff berth, in Cincinnati.
Dalton’s track record is impressive, if you don’t look past December. With a woeful 0-4 record and early exits in the post season.
“I’m not worried about it,” Dalton told The Enquirer. “Everybody has got an opinion. It doesn’t really matter. It comes with it. Everybody has their opinion here. There’s a lot of support and that’s all that matters.”
Maybe he doesn’t have to worry. Having signed a six-year $115 million contract, entering into the second season of the contracts duration. Could this be a make it or break it year for the red rifle?
Dalton hit two home runs in the ball game. If you were wondering.
With the Patriots set to open Training Camp Thursday July 30th, lets take a look at things to keep an eye on during training camp.
With the decision of quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension appeal still not made, and could still be no decision made by the time New England opens training camp it will be interesting to see how much work each of the teams three quarterbacks see with the first team offense. With Brady and Garoppolo both splitting reps during the teams OTAs I would expect Brady and Garoppolo to continue splitting reps if there is still no decision regarding Brady. The Patriots need to be prepared if Brady’s suspension is not completely exonerated and he accepts the punishment handed down to him by the league and doesn’t fight the decision in court. Getting Garoppolo reps with the starting offense will be important for building a chemistry with the offense and so that the offense doesn’t miss a beat and continues to be a high powered offense with Garoppolo under center. It will also be interesting to see how recently signed quarterback Matt Flynn performs and if he takes any reps with the first team offense and challenge Garoppolo for the replacement starter/ backup quarterback position.
Another area to watch in training camp would be the team’s running back position. With Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley both gone, New England will need to replace both backs that have a very different style of play. Vereen was a receiving back that could play out of the backfield or be split out in a receiver role and will be harder to replace than Ridley. Vereen had a great chemistry with Brady and that showed in the Super Bowl when Vereen recorded 11 receptions. James White and Travaris Cadet are expected to be the main competitors for Vereen’s job. Another name to watch for will be Dion Lewis, who drew praise from both Brady and Belichick during OTAs. Ridley was inconsistent throughout his career in New England, at times showing he could be a top back in the league and then other times his fumbling issues and struggled to get on the field. Ridley started to get overshadowed by Blount during the 2013 season and after Blount left for Pittsburgh in the offseason, Ridley was back as starter for the 2014 season. After a torn ACL and a Blount return to New England it was pretty obvious that Ridley would not be in the teams plans for 2015. Blount is the veteran in New England’s backfield and has the experience in New England’s system and is expected to be the team’s main feature back, but is suspended for week ones matchup against Pittsburgh. With Blount out week one, Jonas Gray and Tyler Gaffney could be in-line to start week one and potentially going forward if they have a good camp and make the most of their opportunities. Gray burst on the scene after an incredible 200 yard 4 touchdown performance against the Colts then found himself in coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse after his alarm didn’t go off and showed up late for practice and saw very limited action the rest of the season. Gaffney was drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. After tearing his ACL at the beginning of training camp the Panthers placed Gaffney on waivers hoping he would clear waivers and the team would be able to put him on season-ending injured reserve, sadly for the Panthers Gaffney was claimed by the Patriots on waivers and was later placed on injured reserve. Bill Belichick has praised Gaffney and his work ethic, we will finally get to see Gaffney on field and see what he can do once training camp starts.
The Patriots drafted two offensive linemen in this years NFL Draft who could be ready to contribute right away. The team selected guard/center Tre Jackson from Florida State and guard Shaq Mason from Georgia Tech. Jackson played along side Patriots center Bryan Stork who the team drafted the year before and played great during his rookie year. Stork’s early success could help Jackson’s chances of being a week one starter or at least seeing significant time during his rookie season. Mason is a terrific run blocker but needs to develop more as a pass blocker. Mason played for Georgia Tech who was primarily a run team and didn’t throw the ball too often. Mason needs a little more time to develop and improve his game compared to Jackson. If Mason can elevate his pass blocking to the same level as his run blocking, he could become one of the better guards in the NFL. Last year’s starter Dan Connolly is currently a free agent and is reportedly considering retirement according to reports. With one starting spot on the line currently open it will be interesting to see if either of the rookies step up and earn the job or if someone whose been around like Cameron Fleming or Marcus Cannon will the win the second starting guard spot opposite last years starter Ryan Wendell, who may not be a lock for a starting position entering the 2015 season.
The Patriots drafted defensive tackle Malcolm Brown in the first round of this years NFL Draft. Brown was drafted to help a Patriots run defense that has struggled the past few seasons and to replace longtime Patriot Vince Wilfork, who signed with the Houston Texans this offseason. All eyes will be on Brown to see if he is the real deal and the new anchor of the defense after the departure of Wilfork. Another player to watch would be Jabaal Sheard, the Patriots biggest free agent signee this offseason. Sheard is a pass rushing DE/OLB and will be interesting to see where the Patriots line him up on the field.
The cornerback position is one that has widely been talked about after the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington, who were key pieces to the Patriots secondary last season. Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and third year man Logan Ryan are expected to be the teams starting corners heading into 2015. Both have shown signs of promise in their short careers and it will be interesting to see how each performs in training camp and see if either can transform themselves into the number one corner that the Patriots secondary is currently missing.
With less than three weeks until training camp kicks off these are things that I and many others will be looking forward to see when the team takes the field and prepares to defend their Super Bowl Championship.
For all of Patriots Nation right now, the cornerback position on their team is a touchy and sensitive subject. With the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, and Alfonzo Dennard this past offseason, Bill Belichick is left with veteran cast-offs and unproven young players to work with this summer.
It is a scary thought for all fans that support the red, blue, and silver with cornerback arguably being the second most important position in the game. With the Patriots having so little experience in their defense with their corners, players such as Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan who have experience will be essential pieces in the secondary rebuild process. The only question now will be which player will take over the number one cornerback spot, Butler or Ryan?
Before February 1st, 2015 the casual fan had never heard of the name Malcolm Butler. Now he is making every social appearance he can to soak up his fifteen minutes of fame after his Super Bowl heroics. Nevertheless, Super Bowl XLIX is in the past and it is time to focus on how the Patriots can repeat, and Butler could be a key piece.
During the 2014 regular season, Malcolm Butler showed that he belongs in the National Football League. He was the surprise of training camp, and Bill Belichick was not afraid to put him in key veteran like situations.
For example, in week nine he spent significant time covering both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders of the Denver Broncos. Furthermore, he matched up against Mike Wallace in both contests against Miami. Every time he held his own ground, showing that pitbull like nastiness that earned himself a spot on the roster.
This year, the microscope will be focused in on Butler. The margin for error will be so small any little mistake will be criticized by Patriots fans and most importantly his head coach. However, based off what we’ve seen from Butler in his very short career, he will be ready to take on the challenge.
Logan Ryan has been the opposite of Malcolm Butler, a disappointment. In his rookie season he flashed at times intercepting five passes. However, the interceptions masked the fact that he was consistently getting beat by his receivers.
In his sophomore campaign, Ryan only digressed. Whenever he was on the field in 2014, the opposing quarterback attacked him and instantly and picked him apart. Most notably in week thirteen against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
So far this season, Ryan has received the most amount of reps due to Malcolm Butler’s absence from OTA’s. Players are in only shorts and t-shirts at OTA’s, but based off reports he impressed the most out of any of the cornerbacks.
Ryan has shown nothing yet that proves he can be a number one cornerback on a elite team. Although, he is the most experienced cornerback in the Patriots system so the job may be his for the taking. That should scare Patriots fans big time.
In the end, the battle for the number one cornerback spot on the Patriots roster this summer will most likely be won by Malcolm Butler.
He is far from a proven cornerback in the National Football League, but his ceiling seems to be higher than any of the players on the depth chart. Logan Ryan has only decreased as his career has gone on, leaving me with little hope that he can be an every down starting corner.
Over the past fifteen seasons in New England, Patriots fans have gone into each season knowing that their team has a reliable pass-catching running back on the roster. Whether it was Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, or Shane Vereen,Tom Brady has always had the luxury of having a solid running back that he can dump the ball off to. Heading into the 2015 season, Tom Brady and the Patriots do not have the same luxury with Shane Vereen signing with the New York Giants this past offseason.
There is a multitude of running backs on the roster that seem to have the ability to take over the role, but they are all for the most part unproven. Two players that will be competing for the role are veteran free agent Travaris Cadet, and second-year back James White.
Travaris Cadet has spent his first three seasons in the league with the New Orleans Saints, catching passes from Drew Brees. Cadet was basically irrelevant in his first two seasons, catching only seven passes, for 49 yards, and one touchdown. In year three Cadet took a miniature jump onto the NFL scene finishing with 38 receptions, for 296 yards, and one touchdown.
Much like Shane Vereen, Travaris Cadet spends a lot of his time playing in the slot. At 6-1, 210 pounds Cadet is built like a running back-slot receiver hybrid. Also, with his size and physicality Cadet is able to pass protect for the quarterback, which is huge when playing for Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick. Cadet just doesn’t seem to have that burst potential. His spot on the roster is fairly safe, barring injury, and his ability to digest the playbook will determine whether or not he will earn a starting job.
James White was one of the more interesting players in training camp last season. Throughout July and August, White received first team reps and performed well during practice. However, when the bright lights came on he couldn’t deliver.
White was mediocre at best in preseason games. He never flashed in the passing game like he was labeled, and in the run game there was not much physicality or burst. His lack of production in the summer lead to his limited game action during the regular season.
Going into training camp this year, White needs to show that he can really be a playmaker like Shane Vereen was at times during his tenure. He needs to play in the slot and also pass block, two essentials for a running back in the Patriots offense as fans have learned over the past couple of seasons.
In the end, James White will most likely come out on top in this training camp battle, given his familiarity with the Patriots system. Nevertheless, in time Travaris Cadet will become more acclimated to the offense and take over the position.
In addition, a change will be necessary due to that fact that at 5-10, 194 pounds James White will easily get exposed pass blocking and will get knocked down easily when running the ball. Cadet is better equipped physically to take over the job. The only way James White remains a starter is if he really flashes and becomes an essential piece to the offense. It is tough to imagine that happening in 2015.
Looking over the eight divisions in the NFL, the AFC East division has had a great deal of success over the past 15 years. Don’t remind any Bills, Jets and Dolphins fans about this though, for all twelve division titles, six Conference Championships and four Super Bowls won over this time belong to just one team – the New England Patriots.
But the reigning Super Bowl champs have had an offseason that has casted some reasonable doubt for fans ahead of the upcoming season. With the anchor to their defense and their two starting cornerbacks gone and an impending ruling yet to be handed down by the Ginger Hammer (#exonerateBrady), the rest of the AFC East has made moves to improve their teams with some key acquisitions. Is that enough to sink the tight ship run by Bill Belichick and Co.? Let’s take a look at how the three other teams stack up against the Kings of the AFC East:
Jets – Aside from the big (*cough* robbery *cough*) free agency signing of Darrelle Revis, the Jets also brought back Antonio Cromartie to the secondary to beef up an already tough and talented defense who will have Sheldon Richardson back by the time they face the Patriots in their Week 7 showdown. To complement the defense, the Jets improved their receiving corps by acquiring Brandon Marshall in free agency and drafting Devin Smith in this year’s draft. The bad news? The Jets may be in a better position to expose a weaker Patriots secondary by forcing them to put more cornerbacks on the field against a stronger set of wide receivers. The good news? The Jets don’t have Rex Ryan. Or a QB that can lead them to a division title. And while the Jets will have Sheldon Richardson back, the Patriots will have Tom Brady ready to go too, so I’ll be placing my bets on the Brady Bunch.
Dolphins – Ndamukong Suh decided to bring his talents to South Beach and that is huge for a franchise whose fans have been left with a sour taste in their mouths from watching teams full of hope and promise disintegrate the past two seasons. Having Suh join Earl Mitchell in the interior while Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon rush the edges will be the cause of many headaches for offensive coordinators in the division and across the league. The Dolphins also did a pretty good job of getting quarterback Ryan Tannehill (a massive contract and) some new weapons by signing Greg Jennings and drafting DeVante Parker with the 14th pick of the draft to join a balanced run game for the offense. But are these improvements enough to overcome the major holes this team has at guard, linebacker and at the cornerback position? Or will Dolphins fans face another tumultuous season that will end in more heartbreak for their fans? Too soon to tell. One thing that is certain – Bill Belichick’s bread and butter is taking away what every team does best and making them beat his team without their strengths. If the offensive line for the Dolphins struggle to create openings for their running backs and keep Ryan Tannehill upright, their secondary won’t be able to save them from the Patriots’ elusive passing attack.
Bills – No other team in this division (or in the league for that matter) had quite the offseason the Bills had. No other team in this division will have the pleasure of potentially facing a Brady-less Patriots offense (*knocks on wood*) this season and that is quite the advantage to have on your side, especially with an elite defense led by Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. These three ended the season with double-digit sacks on a team that racked up 54 sacks in 2014. It only gets better for this team because guess who’s at the helm for this Bills this year? Rex Ryan, defensive mastermind. But, said defensive mastermind is no offensive mastermind, and he’s going from one quarterback debacle with Geno Smith and the Jets to another with E.J. Manuel and the Bills. His other options at quarterback (Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel) don’t seem to represent the long term answer to lead a good running combo in Fred Jackson and LeSean McCoy and a good wide receiving corps that includes Sammy Watkins, who is coming off a stellar rookie season. It’ll be quite the chess match when these two teams meet up in Week 2 and in primetime on Week 11. Rex will focus on disguising his defense with intricate blitzing schemes to faze the Patriots quarterback while Bill will squash the running game and force the Bills quarterback to beat the defense with his arm. There is no doubt that the Bills have the biggest chance to dethrone the Patriots for the AFC East throne, but their biggest hole is at the most important position on the team. With that said, I will give Bill Belichick and Co. the benefit of the doubt and another division title for the 2015-16 NFL season.
The defending Super Bowl champs will have a lot of different faces on both sides of the ball to start the 2015 season.
On the defensive side of the ball the team will look to replace longtime Patriot Vince Wilfork, linebackers Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas who were good depth and situational players for the team last season, as well as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis who went back to the division rival New York Jets. The losses of Browner and Revis will hurt the Patriots the most. Last year New England played primarily a man coverage defense, this year it looks like the team will be focusing on more of a zone defense and pressuring the quarterback through their front seven.
The Patriots defense will look to rely on 1st round pick defensive tackle Malcolm Brown to replace Wilfork, cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler to take on larger roles this season as well as free agent signee Jabaal Sheard to add to New England’s pass rush and pressure the quarterback for the new look defense.
Offensively the Patriots will look similar to last year, only losing running back Shane Vereen to the New York Giants in free agency.
Also guard Dan Connolly is currently a free agent and according to some reports is considering retiring from football after winning the Super Bowl. The Patriots will also be without running back LaGarrette Blount for the first week of the season for a violation of the leagues substance abuse policy last year as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who New England plays week one. New England may also be without quarterback Tom Brady who is currently appealing his 4-game suspension handed down to him by the league for the “DeflateGate” scandal and there is no timetable for the league to make their decision regarding Brady’s appeal.
The offense could look a lot different than it has the past 15 years if Brady ends up losing his appeal and accepting his suspension (which I do not think will happen). 2nd year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would likely be the starter for the duration of Brady’s suspension and though no one knows how the offense would operate with Garoppolo under center, it is almost guaranteed to take a step back to when Brady is under center. With Blount out for week 1 and running backs Shane Vereen and Steven Ridley gone the offense could look very different than it did back in February when the Patriots were playing for the Super Bowl.
With the league offices on Park Avenue literally turning into the Big Apple Circus, I figured why not have fun at the expense of the thirty two franchises whom keep this “non-profit” organization going. This is considered “down-time” for the NFL, when coaches and staff take a month or so off, to unwind before going full tilt into training camp. Bill is most likely parading around Nantucket on his newly renamed boat. Mr. Kraft is off in the mother land being an evangelist for Israeli football. The Forehead is figuring out if Denver really did want to trade him to Houston for God only knows how many draft picks. With the Brady appeal decision looming, we take a look at the league as a whole and why this year is the year YOUR franchise wins the Lombardi Trophy.
Season tickets are at an all-time high.
Rex gives Brady more trouble than anyone.
Shady McCoy is going to run for 2,000 yards.
Buffalo is still a cesspool and almost had Bon Jovi as their owner.
Agreed, but his record is still under five hundred.
Until he has a hamstring pull and starts calling Rex a racist as well.
We own Brady in Miami and the AFC is weak.
Our coach is coaching for his job, he has a lot to prove.
O/U on the amount of games before Suh gets suspended is 3.5. I’ll take the under.
As soon as the weather drops below South Beach, the Dolphins turn into guppies.
The doppelganger from the father in Step Brothers is a pud. Plain and simple.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
They are the defending world champions.
We have Brady and Belichick.
Our schedule is much easier than last year, the AFC goes through Foxboro.
True, but nobody has won back to back titles since…..
God, I love them both. I’d take a bullet for them.
Patriots always seem to have that “WTF” game somewhere early/mid-season.
NEW YORK JETS:
Brandon Marshall and Decker will be unstoppable.
Our defense is the best in the league!
Todd Bowles is a no nonsense coach.
Whom is going to throw them the ball?
Cromartie is a shell of himself, but their front seven is solid.
He also has a permanent grin on. He reminds me of the Joker. Actually from this day on he will be referred to as the Joker.
Dick Lebeau needed to go, time for new blood on defense.
Big Ben had one of his best years as a pro last season, the Steelers were very close.
Winning in Pittsburgh is tough in the cold weather.
Pittsburgh hasn’t been stout on defense in years, especially against the pass. This is a building process for them.
Can the Pittsburgh offense stay out of the tub and off the drugs long enough to sustain success?
You lost to Tampa Bay at home last season, enough said.
Andy Dalton is going to take the next step this year.
Geno Atkins leading that front seven is scary.
The Jungle is becoming a very tough place for opposing teams to play.
Andy Dalton is going to take another step in which direction?
Geno Atkins wasn’t the same player after he got hurt. Case closed.
Marvin Lewis continues to hold a franchise back with more talent on both sides of the ball than most other teams.
Flacco is a proven winner.
Our defense is solid and will continue to win us big games.
Harbaugh is one of the best in the business. He can coach up holes in all three phases of the game.
Flacco threw two gifts to the Patriots in the biggest game of the year.
Your defense blew two fourteen point leads in the playoffs.
Harbaugh is a cry baby like his twin and folded when BB put the heat on him.
Josh McCown is legit and will win us more games than lose them.
Our secondary is one of the best in the business. Haden is the GOAT.
It’s been fifty-one years! Our time is now.
McCown has Matt Flynn syndrome. The Denim King went down with a concussion and he played decent against second tier defense.
Haden is good against mediocre receivers. Look at his numbers against the elite.
Exactly, it has fifty-one years. If Lebron couldn’t get it done. Josh McCown isn’t going to be either.
We got Frank Gore to carry the rock and Andre Johnson as another target for The Neck Beard.
Our division is so weak, we’ve all but guaranteed a home playoff game.
Luck is going to take that next step into elite status, and should win the AFC.
You are still soft and I have no words to describe what is going to happen to you week six when New England comes to town.
Raise a banner for that one too.
Ask Luck and the drug addict owner their record against BB and TB12 led teams.
Bortles got some much needed experience last year and our line is much improved.
Julius Thomas is going to be a monster in the red zone.
Our team is resilient and going to surprise a lot of people next year.
Bortles did improve, but whom is going to carry the rock? MJD isn’t coming through that door.
Who are the other playmakers on that offense? And Julius Thomas is soft as well.
Your coach was surprised when you didn’t turn the ball over. Plain and simple.
The Silent Hawaiian is going no-huddle straight out of the gate.
Sankey will surprise people this year and go for over 1,500 yards.
Our secondary is one of the best in the league, we’re going to be tough to throw against.
How many college quarterbacks who don’t run a pro-style offense do anything in year one?
Sankey looks like Tyrion Lannister in football pads.
Luckily you’re playing against the AFC East this year. Outside of TB12, you have paper bags throwing against you.
Foster is going to reestablish his dominance in the running game.
JJ Watt is an “All-World” talent. Who is going to stop him?
We have two Brady understudies fighting for the QB job. They are both Pro Bowl talents.
You can keep Arian Foster and his rubber band hamstrings.
JJ Watt IS an all-world player. But he is only one of 22.
Matt Cassel, Kevin O’Connell, Michael Bishop, etc. etc.
Manning is the best to play the game, he is due for his second Lombardi.
Our front seven is going to be dominant. Miller and Ware paired with our rookie class will be giving nightmares to defensive coordinators.
Our offense is going to be more balanced this year, and not depend on 18 to win every game.
As of today, whom is his number one receiver? Soft Thomas went to Jacksonville and Hard Thomas doesn’t want to take part in OTA’s.
Miller feasts on bad quarterbacks and disappears against physical offensive linemen. Watch the tape.
CJ Anderson and Monte Ball are NOT the saviors in the Mile High City.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:
Alex Smith is as good a game manager as there is in this league.
Jamal Charles may run for 2,000 yards this year with a healthy offensive line.
Houston, Hali and Poe are the second coming of the Steel Curtain.
Alex Smith also forgot how to throw touchdowns to his wide receivers.
There is a lot of tread on Jamal’s tires. Not to mention he is creeping up on the wrong side of 30.
The secondary is the question mark here. Here is hoping Eric Berry gets healthy. In all seriousness, prayers to him.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS:
This is a contract year for Rivers, he is going to be playing like a man possessed.
San Diego is one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play, especially east coast teams.
Antonio Gates came into OTA’s leaner and quicker than he is looked in years.
This could also be a contract year for the Chargers in general.
Tell that to New England whom came in on short rest last season.
Any tight end with a bad foot, spells bad news for everyone involved.
Derek Carr showed promise in year one, he could surprise some people this year.
Latavius Murray is a beast pounding the rock. He may go for 2,000 yards this year.
Khalil Mack may win defensive player of the year.
He may, but his offensive line may get him killed before Halloween.
Murray was a flash in the pan last season and won’t break 1,000 yards this year. I’ll throw some money on that as well.
Sadly Khalil is only one of twenty two out there, and you are still the Raiders.
As I said before, this is the most boring of times for any NFL fan. Many of us are waiting with baited breath on the fate of Thomas Edward Brady. The fans of the other thirty one franchises are anticipating big things from their team this year, and feel they are only a piece or two away from surprising people. In reality, the NFL is a tricky place and things happen that can change the entire competitive landscape in the blink of an eye. Personally, my sites are set on opening weekend when the Steelers come to town. We’ll see if the loss of the entire cornerback platoon has any effect on the BB run defense. Oh, and there is also that slight detail if the greatest quarterback to ever play the game will be suiting up for it as well. We are just about a month out from training camps folks, hang tight.
By: Mike Procopio
Your NFL news. A few laughs and hard nosed opinions and facts. What more could you want? It's a one stop shop.