New England Patriots TE Breakdown: Patriots Success is dependent on Health of Gronkowski

 

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

There may not be a more important position for the New England Patriots outside of Quarterback than the TE, with the Patriots ranking 2nd in receptions, and 1st in both yards and touchdowns coming from the position in 2014.

Those rankings are due in very large part thanks to Rob Gronkowski’s monster regular season where he was ranked #1 among all NFL TE in yards, average per catch, yards per game, receptions of twenty plus yards, first downs and touchdowns (NFL.com). The only stat Gronkowski didn’t come in first was receptions where he ranked 4th in the NFL. He is no question the best at his position in the league when healthy, and the Patriots success in 2015 will count on Gronk staying on the field throughout the regular and post season.

No doubt the question at the position is the second and third slots on the depth chart. New comer Scott Chandler looks to be #2 at the TE slot when the 2015 regular season starts and he is absolutely no stranger to the Pats Nation having played the team twice a year since 2011. Chandler was often a thorn in the side of the Patriots defense during those games accounting for 4TD’s and over 350yds in those 8 games (pro-football-reference.com). At 6-7 and 280lbs Scott will be another monster big man for Tom Brady to target down field and in the end zone.

The third slot may be a bit of a question mark. With veteran TE Michael Hoomanawanui, rookie big man out of Arkansas AJ Derby, and converted DE Jake Bequette making the move to the offensive position.
The “Hooman” had a significant drop in production last year catching only 3 passes with no scores and missing blocks all over the place allowing for the edge to get to Brady in the backfield.

AJ Derby was selected in the 6th round with the 202nd pick and has high upside as a TE in the NFL. He is fast for a big man running a 4.69 40yrd dash at the 2015 NFL combine with his only downside being that he had only one year at the position in Arkansas system. The lack of experience shouldn’t outweigh his ability to line up all over the field with speed and size.

Bill Belichick thinks Jake Bequette is “in good position to compete” for a spot at TE after swapping his DE position for the end on the offensive side of the ball. He does have some experience at the position playing TE in high school and his first year as a redshirt freshman at Arkansas.

My prediction TE depth- 1st Gronk, 2nd Chandler, 3rd Derby, reserve Bequette (Hoomanawanui gets cut for $1.38 million cap savings)

 

Advertisements

Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant Threatens to Sit Out Games

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

With the deadline to sign a multiyear deal looming, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant tried to heighten the stakes today, threatening to sit out training camp and regular season games if he and the Cowboys are unable to reach a long-term deal. Dez tweeted out today, “As much as I love football…on my beautiful babies… I apologize #cowboynation but I will not be there if no deal #fact” The tweet came after Bryant reportedly informed Stephen Jones, the son of Jerry Jones (who we all know is actually the one running the team and deserves a lot of credit for the Cowboys recent success) of this information. Stephen Jones denied that Dez had told him that.

The deadline for signing a multiyear franchise deal is 4 p.m. eastern on Wednesday, July 15. If Bryant doesn’t sign by then, he will receive a $12.8 million salary this upcoming season if he agrees to sign the one-year franchise tender. The Cowboys love Dez Bryant, and consider him their best offensive player. They’d like to lock him up long term, but they don’t want to overpay him. Much of the Cowboy’s success last season came from the league’s best offensive line, and they want to keep that group together for a long time. They signed left tackle Tyron Smith to a big contract last summer, and they want to lock up right guard Zack Martin in the upcoming years. In a salary cap league, they won’t be able to do that if they overpay for Dez.

The Cowboys believe Bryant’s threat to be a bluff. While Dez has had all kinds of off the field and on the field issues with his maturity, the one thing that can’t be denied is that Dez loves football, and he loves his team. Even during OTAs and minicamp, while Bryant was still negotiating with the team, he couldn’t keep himself away, participating in individual drills, and being on the sideline watching when his contract situation didn’t allow him to participate. Because of this, the Cowboys aren’t worried about Dez’s threat, and are confident number 88 will be on the field in uniform week 1 against the Giants.

Dez Bryant has established himself as one of the top receivers in football. He’s a part of an elite group that includes Antonio Brown, Demariyus Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Jordy Nelson. However, Dez has now played in the league for five years, and it wasn’t until last year that he played in his first playoff game. While Bryant had an impressive season, the real secret to the Cowboy’s success in 2014 was due to their much-improved offensive line and their ability to get consistent quarterback play out of Tony Romo for the entire season. If you look at the receivers listed above, their production is based almost entirely on their quarterback’s effectiveness. Demariyus Thomas wasn’t a top tier receiver with Tim Tebow, but he is with Peyton Manning. A.J. Green is a lot better with regular season Andy Dalton than playoff Andy Dalton, who we all know are two different quarterbacks. In Super Bowl XLIX, the best wide receiver in the game was 5’10 college quarterback Julian Edelman. Yet, there were receivers on both teams making tremendous plays.

The point of all of this is that there are plenty of good wide receivers in the NFL, and the fact is a good quarterback will be good with just about any of them. Dez Bryant is incredible, but his value to the Cowboys is nowhere near enough to sacrifice their young offensive line down the road. However, deadlines always seem to make both sides think a little more reasonable, and it won’t surprise anyone if by time 4 pm passes on Wednesday, Dez Bryant will have a new long-term contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Ex-NFLer Donovan McNabb: Heading Down Slippery Slope

Donovan McNabb’s play-by-play days might end in disaster. Similar to his professional career.

McNabb, is currently Suspended by Fox Sports and taking a leave of absence from NBC Sports Radio. It’s been a tough time 19093for the former NFL pro-bowler.

McNabb was arrested in late June, for an alleged DUI, involving his wife’s vehicle. There were no injuries reported, but officers smelt alcohol on McNabb’s breath and slurred speech.

“It is important that Donovan use this time as best he can to resolve his personal situation,” said Fox in a statement released to the media Sunday.

Mike Florio, of profootballtalk.com, has worked with McNabb over at NBC for the past several seasons. He provided some insight, via his radio show: “There was a story that was released, and I want everybody to be cognizant of it, because I am very aware of it, handling the matter at this particular point,” he said. “But at this point, I have no further information, and as we continue on with the situation, then we’ll let it handle as it will handle itself.”

It’s still unsure if McNabb eats Campbell’s Chunky Soup, or not:

Bengals: Dalton Booed, Doubt Continues to Grow

You would think that the town you play football in has your back. Especially if your the starting quarterback. dalton1

Apparently not.

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.

Patriots Training Camp Preview: Things To Watch For

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.

via bostonherald.com
via bostonherald.com

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.

host.madison.com
host.madison.com

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.

jackson_tre_2

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.

via blog.masslive.com
via blog.masslive.com

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.

via hngn.com
via hngn.com

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.

Patriots Training Camp Battles: Malcolm Butler Vs. Logan Ryan For Number One Cornerback

Images from profootballspot.com and sportsspyder.com
Images from profootballspot.com and sportsspyder.com

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.

 

Your NFL news. A few laughs and hard nosed opinions and facts. What more could you want? It's a one stop shop.