Cleat Geeks

Multiple Veterans & Newcomers Stepping Up In New Orleans Saints Preseason

Two weeks into the preseason and there are many teams that are already eager for the regular season to start. The New Orleans Saints are a team that has been prepping for the 2018-2019 NFL season since their unfortunate loss at the Minnesota Vikings 29-24 in the NFC Divisional Round of the 2017-2018 NFL playoffs. Their progress since their NFL training camp has been highly noticeable with their main star players playing like they are in mid-season form and many of their rookies and underutilized players stepping up by looking to make an impact.

Of all the teams in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints are one of a very few teams to not have a major position battle going on due to a departure or retiring. The Saints, along with the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, and the reigning Super Bowl champs in the Philadelphia Eagles are the only teams in the NFL that seem to complete at every position. This does not mean that those positions have a large amount of talent and depth. This is an area where the Saints needed to be concerned with the most as last year there were some injuries at Linebacker and Defensive Back that plagued the Saints. Offensively, the Saint did not have too much of a concern with injuries, but the lack of depth was concerning. These few weeks before the season is the last time possible to make some last adjustments needed for each team to become more successful and efficient in their decision making.

 

Taysom Hill getting a chance to prove himself as a reliable Quarterback

Former Houston Texans Quarterback Tom Savage was added by New Orleans for a 1-year deal for insurance purposes for star QB Drew Brees. This doesn’t stop depth chart Quarterback and special teams contributor in Taysom Hill from trying to push for the backup Quarterback role. Throughout this preseason, Hill has been impressing the Saints and Saints nation with his passing ability. Hill is looking to make his name known when Brees eventually retires from the NFL. In the Saints’ first preseason game on August 8th at the Jacksonville Jaguars, Hill threw for 72 yards on 8 completions (out of 9 attempts). He also rushed the ball 7 times for 52 yards and a touchdown. Hill does not possess the speed as many of the dual-threat Quarterbacks in the league but he does have the size and the hard-hitting bulk to push for more yards.

Image result for taysom hill saints

Photo by; www.canalstreetchronicles.com

Hill started out his NFL career undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft but was acquired by the Green Bay Packers for a practice squad player. This past season for the New Orleans Saints, Hill mostly played in special team plays but has been reaching for a Quarterback position job. This off-season was the first full off-season that he has experienced with an NFL team now in his 2nd year in the league. Hill has been taking apart in high-velocity passing drills throughout the off-season and that has appeared to show in training camps and in the preseason games. With three more preseason games left, watch for Taysom Hill to lead the Saints to the regular season to secure the main backup Quarterback spot behind Drew Brees.

 

Saints adding another top Wide Out in rookie Tre’Quan Smith

Many of the newcomers of the Saints are making great first impressions with the team and the fans. Former UCF Knights Wide Receiver Tre’Quan Smith was acquired by the Saints in the 3rd round (91st pick) due to the high amount of great Receivers in the 2018 NFL Draft. Smith has already been labeled as a top three Receiver for the high-power Saints offense. Much like the Saints’ #1 Wide Receiver in Michael Thomas, Smith is a speedy and elusive deep threat Receiver that can handle a heavy workload consistently. In his 3 years at Central Florida, Smith has accounted for above 50 receptions each season. In his Senior season last year, Smith accounted for 59 receptions for 1,171 yards (an average of 19.8 yards per reception) and 13 touchdowns. The Saints selected Tre’Quan Smith because they know he can put up those stats equivalent to his production with the Knights offense.

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Photo by; Nola.com

In the game against Jacksonville, he was the team’s leading Receiver by accounting for 48 yards on 4 receptions. His contributions as a mid-range to deep threat Receiver will be a huge boost for the Saints offense led by QB Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas, who is the NFL’s most underrated Receiver. Smith’s productions at the other deep-threat Receiver will not be a decrease in production for Michael Thomas. If anything, the Saints could use Smith’s talent as a speedy deep-target as Brandon Coleman could not consistently bring in for the Saints last year. Last season, Coleman accounted for 23 receptions for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns as he was the 5th leading receiving yards leader for the Saints. Coleman was cut from the New Orleans Saints on August 5th after failing a team physical. Undrafted rookie in WR Keith Kirkwood has also been impressing the Saints organization as a reliable playmaker in the short time with the team. Look for these two rookie Wide Outs to make an impact for a passing offense that was ranked 4th in points per game (28) and 5th in passing yards per game (261.8) last season.

 

DT David Onyemata looking to step up to contribute more to Saints efficient defense

Veteran Defensive Tackle David Onyemata is currently listed as a backup to former 1st round pick in Sheldon Rankins according to the Saints’ first unofficial depth chart of the season. Onyemata, though, has been getting a lot of publicity for his increase in contributions for the defense and rise of his efficiency in his performance. Last season, Onyemata played in all 16 regular season games at Defensive Tackle and End while also started in 6 when he filled in for the injured DE Alex Okafor. Onyemata is a special hybrid Defensive Lineman that can play in a run-orientated Defensive End spot and then a 3-technique Defensive Tackle. Last season, Onyemata accounted for 38 total tackles, 18 solo tackles, and 2 sacks.

Image result for david onyemata saints

Photo by; Who Dat Dish

Throughout the remainder of this preseason, there could be a switch at the Nose Tackle position that is held by Tyeler Davison, at the 3-technique Defensive Tackle position held by Rankins, or at the Defensive End position held by Alex Okafor if Onyemata continues to impress. At the least, Onyemata’s performance along with the Saints’ 2018 NFL Draft 1st round pick in DE Marcus Davenport makes for a potentially dominating slate of Defensive Linemen for New Orleans. 2nd year DE Trey Hendrickson has also been a very productive reserve for the Saints in the past season and in this preseason. The Saints having two complete Defensive Line units make for a great change of pace in creating pressure and also brings in different formations when matching with the different offensive formations.

 

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Preseason Week #1 Recap

The Kansas City Chiefs played their first game of the season last week. They faced the Houston Texans at home. The Chiefs lost the game 17-10 after coming up short on a last minute drive. Chiefs starters only played in a couple of series before giving more playing time to backup players and players trying to make the roster. Despite the loss the Chiefs played well and had strong performances by players throughout the depth chart.

Patrick Mahomes started the game at quarterback for the Chiefs. He only played in two series in the game. He went 5/7 for 33 yards. He did not play a lot of time in the game because he is the expected starter and did not need the injury risk in the first preseason game. He will likely see more playing time in the second preseason game. Mahomes played well against the Texans and did not make any big errors in the game.

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Photo by; 247 Sports

Chase Litton is another quarterback that had a strong performance. Litton is an undrafted rookie from Marshall. He went 7/13 for 66 yards in the game. He led the Chiefs on a last minute drive but came up short on forth down. Litton is expected to compete with Matt McGloin for the third quarterback spot. Chad Henne appears to be a lock for the backup role behind Mahomes. The competition could be tight between the two quarterbacks. McGloin is a five-year veteran but Litton has shown good arm strength and could win a spot on the 53-man roster.Image result for ben niemann chiefs

Another rookie that had a good performance is linebacker Ben Niemann. He is an undrafted rookie from Iowa. Niemann led the Chiefs with five tackles against the Texans. He is expected to be on the roster bubble and could make the final roster with some more strong performances. Raymond Davison, Ukeme Eligwe, Ben Niemann, and Terrance Smith will likely compete for two linebacker depth spots on the roster.

The Chiefs second preseason game will be on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons lost their first preseason game 17-0 to the New York Jets. Chiefs starters are expected to play the entire first half in the game. It will be the first chance to see the Chiefs starters for an extended time. Mahomes performance against Falcons starters will give a good indication of his progress. Last season the Falcons had a top 10 defense in yards per game. The second preseason game will be a better representation of what the Chiefs will look like in the regular season.

Underrated QB

Underrated QB

Player A finished 2015 season with 4,166 receiving yards/ 48 rushing/ 69.8% completion rate/ 29 touchdowns.

Player B finished 2015 season with 4,208 yards/ 141 rushing/ 61.9 % completion rate/ 24 touchdowns.

Player A finished 2016 season with 4917 yards / 96 rushing/ 67% completion rate/ 25 Touchdowns.

Player B played 13 games in 2016 due to an injury. Using the average – 3676 yards / 67% Completion rate/ 30 touchdowns. Good to note, this player had over 4K yards & 27 TD’s in 2014.

 

Which QB would you rather have?

Player A = Kirk Cousins

Player B = Ryan Tannehill.

Obviously I’d draft Kirk Cousins ahead, but Ryan Tannehill may be one of the most under-rated Quarterbacks in the League. Before you run away laughing, let me explain my crazy theory.

As you can see, these stats are similar in some ways. They both have proven they are able to keep a 4k yard average with over 25 TDs.  I believe injuries have hurt the performance for both of them. Neither QB has had good luck with an Offensive Line and as well haven’t had the best WR core. Of course, Tannehill had the knee injury and I am assuming he is now 100% healthy.

What will it take for Ryan Tannehill to take the next step?

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Photo by; USA Today

Captain Kirk had to move to a new team with better support… I really think if Miami can keep a healthy and performing O-Line, Ryan will step up to the next level. Miami now has a triple threat running back crew, 1st round pick (D Parker), a huge redzone threat TE (Gesicki), and a promising defense.

Could Ryan Tannehill be the next Kirk Cousins?

I will leave it for you to decide with my favorite Tannehill stat – 44 Quarterbacks have achieved a Perfect Game, having a single game passer rating of 158.3. Tannehill is one of those quarterbacks. His completion percentage was 94.7% which is the highest among all 44.

 

Tyler Watson

@DynastyDadTyler

Is The Cleveland Browns Offense Over Hyped?

730 days ago, everyone was looking at the Cleveland Browns offense and saw little to no fantasy value besides a stream or two throughout the season, and now the value of the Browns offense is through the roof, what has happened to create of this optimism?

First let’s take a look at how the offense has produced the past two years in fantasy matters, in 2015 they produce the number 32 ranked QB that helped produce the WR34 and WR84 and TE20. They also helped produce an RB14 and RB39. Without even going into the aspects of the player names and actual stat lines, it is pretty easy to tell that the offense only had 1 weekly starter and possibly a couple of streams from their TE and 2nd RB. That Cleveland Browns team would finish with the worst record in the NFL, going 1-15, but somehow with a sub-par offseason would be able to create optimism for the 2016 campaign fantasy wise.

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Photo Creds: RantSports

Now let’s look at the hype back in August of 2017, many people believed Isiah Crowell could finally step into that RB1 category and still have Duke Johnson be a solid RB2 in PPR formats maybe even produce at a high RB2 or low RB1. The QB situation was still a disaster in most eyes, with a young unproven Deshone Kizer but some believed he had enough help around him to be average and hopefully keep the team in games. They lost Pryor but were really high on Coleman and the flirtation of Gordon coming back led to some optimism, plus the highly appraised 1st round pick David Njoku being the new Tight End. Overall, many people believed this team was approved and could have some small fantasy impacts on every teams’ season. Unfortunately, that was not the case what so ever, they produced the QB25, RB20, RB29, WR90, WR93 and the TE22. So, all in all, once again this team had little fantasy impact produced but still had some optimism in the preseason.

When comparing the 2016 offense versus 2017 offense we all could argue both were close to the same, depending on how you were going to rank the offenses. So, what does all of this have to do with the 2018 campaign for the offense?

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Photo Creds: RedZoneSports

All of those facts were stated to show a trend for the Cleveland Browns organization and how; regardless of how they produce they will become hyped to some extent, but this season may have the most hype around the team in the past decade. It all started with the big offseason moves they made, they would acquire Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde, and Tyrod Taylor. Then they would draft Baker Mayfield number 1 overall and then select a Running Back in the second round named Nick Chubb. With all the moves they made, plus the return of Josh Gordon created a very optimistic environment. This has to be the dream case for the worse offense, being able to add-on all this talent and the better half of the talent returning? Let’s take a look at all of the projected starters and how each one finished individually in 2017. Tyrod Taylor finished as the QB16 in a run-heavy offense where he was already pushed out the door by midseason, and he even led the team to a playoff appearance. Running Back is where it gets a little iffy, but I’m going to project Hyde and Johnson as the starters, Carlos Hyde finished as the RB11 and Johnson finished as the RB20. Now moving to the Wide Receivers Josh Gordon only played 5 games and finished well outside the top 200 fantasy players, and Jarvis Landry finished as the WR14 plus David Njoku finished as the TE22. With all of those 2017 stats, it could very easily be seen that most of the players could and should improve in their respected positions. But, could we all be falling into the hype of the Browns like we always do?

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Photo Creds: Akron Beacon Journal

If we account each players ADP and use that to see a projected finish to the season, the Cleveland Browns would finish the season with the QB25, RB35 (Hyde) RB41(Duke), WR24(Jarvis), WR17(Josh), and the TE13. If you looked carefully that is 0 players out of the top 50 in each position, which the Browns haven’t been able to achieve in the past 2 years and way farther down the line. How can an organization that has a combined record of 1-31 in the past two seasons, a one-win coach, and a bunch of new pieces coming together to be one of the most fantasy-friendly offenses this season? News check, it doesn’t, now let’s take a look into how and who will take a hit from the ADP and not produce as high and will fall victim to the typical hype. First, let’s look at Tyrod’s averages per game for the past three seasons:

Touchdowns Yards Interceptions Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Completions
1.15 201.2 .36 28.63 .316 17.59

 

Those stats are nothing amazing when comparing them to the great QBs in the league right now but Tyrod’s projected finish should be pretty close the 25th, but these stats should cause head scratches on producing two WR2, TE2, and a PPR beast in Duke. Those are four hungry guys trying to produce with a QB only able to throw 200 yards a game and a little over 1 TD a game. So, if you divide all of Tyrod’s game stats in respect of each player saying David= 18%, Duke=20% and Jarvis= 22% Gordon =25% which would then leave the other 15% to the other guys on the team like Hyde Chubb and the other wide receivers. With that, these would be the projected finishes:

Player Touchdowns Yards Receptions
Josh Gordon 4.6 804.8 70.36
Duke 3.68 643.84 56.288
Jarvis Landry 4.048 708.22 61.91
David Njoku 3.312 579.46 50.65

 

Now with these projected season stats off of Tyrod’s career averages, each player looks alright on their respected position but not as high as their ADP would project them as due to all the talent around them.  Of course, we have to account for a more pass-heavy team in Cleveland then Buffalo and more talent around, I would expect these to be the floors of each player without injuries playing a factor, but regardless the jump shouldn’t be much higher than a 10%-20% increase which would result in higher stats but nothing extreme enough to make a huge impactful change.

There are two big arguments people may try to make their selection make sense: one being Baker will start and will have better stats, and second being the 2015 Jaguars did it with Blake Bortles under center. For the Baker fans, even if he starts, we rarely see a rookie QB throw more than 25 TDs so that would result from the best case being 3-5 more TDs than Tyrod and most Rookie QBs throw for around 3000-3500 yards which would be a total of 300 more yards than the projected stats from Tyrod which once again shouldn’t make big enough changes to the point that their ADPs are reasonable . The second argument you could hear is that 2015 Jaguars did it with a 5-11 record, but then we have to account a 35 TD season from Bortles, and they had no running game while the Browns have 3 RBs who are solid as long as they stay healthy. So, to summarize the statistical breakdown, it seems close to impossible for all of these ADPs to actually become a reality in their rankings. But if we take injuries into account I wouldn’t be surprised at least 2 of the 6 people finished around their ADP in the rankings.

Image result for jarvis landry and josh gordon

Photo creds: Dawgs by Nature

My Take:  This is where the fun begins, I get to put my personal beliefs into paper and try to help every Fantasy owner make the right selection on draft day. For all the PPR leagues I would recommend taking Jarvis over Duke due to the absence of Josh and having no clue when he will be coming back and Corey getting traded away should help his stock. Gordon to me right now is untouchable due to ADP and no one really knowing the whole situation behind him. For RBs I would stay away from all of them expect Nick Chubb as a deep deep sleeper since he has upside and was drafted after Hyde was brought in, so maybe they see something in him that we all don’t. My personal favorite player out of them all is one hundred percent David Njoku, I think he is this years Evan Engram, a RedZone specialist who is going somewhat late, I personally would pass up on taking a TE early and wait to snag David late and ride him all the way to a championship.

 

  • All rankings came from Pro Football Reference and Fantasy Football Calculator

A New Way To Draft Fantasy Football

I proudly want to introduce every experienced and new fantasy football player to a completely new, easy and fun way to conquer your draft each and every season! DOMINATION is an understatement.

This new drafting system as I the creator refer to it as, simply looks at each and every NFL offense. Every coaching staff. Every player.

I have used this system while developing the little tweaks and gears along the way. I have been HIGHLY successful. In my three seasons of official fantasy football play. I have amassed a record of 100-41 70.9 win % (Yes I keep count, who doesn’t?) 5 championship games with 3 wins. Also I average about 3 leagues a year.

Using my system I win 71% of the time. On any format. Any scoring system. PPR or Standard. League size and scoring bonuses don’t even matter. They don’t affect this system. It’s proven to work 100% of the time. With that being said you also have to actually draft your team (no auto drafts fellas) and you have to be a good manager. Meaning it’s a must that you use the waivers and adjust during the season accordingly.

So with all of that being said here is my 3 year proven to work system in all of its glory….

You have COGS such as Zeke, Gurley, ODB, Brown. PLAYMAKERS such as Freeman, Diggs, Mixon, and Baldwin. TOSS UPS are basically players such as Sanu, Hyde, Blount, Tyrell Williams

Basically I’ve created my own tiers based upon this system. I use it when drafting. I scout offenses, look at schemes, coaches and styles of play, so on and so forth.

COGS- A player that has supplanted himself as the main weapon on his team without any competition or doubt of said player losing his starting role.
PLAYMAKERS- A player that can produce like a COG. But has some competition for his job and or a talented handcuff who takes touches or looks away from said player. Or an aging veteran coming out of his COG role.
TOSS UPS- Players that are usually drafted mid-late rounds. Simply have no idea what said players will produce. ADPs will be too high or too low or similar ADPs with other such like players we always gamble on.
I’m Dylan “D1” Broady you can follow me on Twitter @BroadyDylan
My Facebook page will be up soon. D1 Fantasy! I’ll keep all of you updated. Much love and appreciation.

Dear Patriots Fan, Move On From the Super Bowl

The New England Patriots have celebrated unprecedented success for almost twenty years. In fact, there has arguably never been a football team with the same level of success over a two decade period. This success is ultimately owed to two people – Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. In fact, the love and devotion toward Coach Belichick have gone so deep that the mantra “In Bill We Trust” has been accepted by many Patriots Fans. While the success of Bill Belichick cannot be questioned, it has come at a price.

Coach Belichick does not like to disclose any information to the media. Anyone covering the Patriots during his reign has no doubt come to expect non-answers and little detail into both his line of thinking, and the team’s direction. This was most famously highlighted by the “We’re on to Cincinnati” press conference after the Patriots 2014 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Belichick keeps his cards close to his chest, and that has consistently been his track record as a head coach.

Now enter Super Bowl LII, with the Patriots close-fought loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. In what was an offensive showcase, the Patriots fell short in the League’s biggest game to yet another NFC East team. The biggest strategic question mark that came from that game was the benching of Cornerback Malcom Butler. Butler, who was the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, had been the Patriots starting Cornerback since the 2015 season.  For some reason, which is only truly known by Coach Belichick, Butler was benched for the biggest game of the year. Had the New England Patriots won the game, no one would have questioned the decision, but because they fell short, it was the first thing that people pointed to.

Image result for malcolm butler super bowl
Ever since that game ended, many people have tried asking Bill his reasoning behind the decision. Each and every time people seem baffled and surprised they don’t get an answer, and continue to waste their time and breath by asking again and again. Have you not paid any attention to this team before this year? What has EVER given you reason to believe you would get an answer from Coach Belichick about this? He has never been someone to disclose that type of information, and he never will be. Give up, move on, it is no longer relevant and you are wasting your time.

Look, I understand why you want to know and agree it is a very valid question – but why bother? It is a new season, with new issues, and it just doesn’t matter anymore. Butler’s time with the Patriots has come and gone; now it is time to focus on the here and now. Who will lead this committee in the backfield? What is the solution at wideout with the recent roster changes? Focus on what matters this season, not history that has already been written. From one Patriots fan to another, just move on.

CHARGED UP! Preseason Week 1 Review

Very few teams have had the same success as the Chargers in unearthing talent through their undrafted free agents. In fact, the team has the longest active streak of undrafted rookies making the final 53-man roster, with 21 years and counting. For this reason, watching Chargers football during the preseason is always interesting, and with the Chargers affinity to injuries, it can be just as nerve-wracking. With that being said, before I get to a recap and review of the Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals, there are no serious injuries to report, so 1 week down, 3 to go, my nails certainly will be much shorter come the start of the regular season.

But now for the game itself, a 24-17 loss to the Cardinals, where the Chargers had 4 turnovers and 15 penalties, in a somewhat sloppy performance, but there were some bright spots. The score DOES NOT matter, it is the players that stood out that is important. I will breakdown both offence and defense, and maybe discuss a little special teams, because as you know the Chargers kicking situation is abhorrent at best.

With Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward not dressing for this game, it was a real chance for the second strings guys to really push for playing time, especially along the defensive line.

OFFENCE

On the offensive side of the ball, there is not many unknowns and we can deduce the starters with 99% certainty. However, Cardale Jones trotted out as the ‘starter’ for this game and he looked athletic but there are serious questions still left unanswered and I would feel almost nauseas at the prospect of Cardale being the backup quarterback. He missed high often, was erratic with his accuracy and was almost picked off by ex-Charger Tre Boston on his second pass. Geno Smith played much better than Cardale and is my choice as the backup, despite his one interception he looked adequate and moved the offence enough. Along the offensive line the off-season acquisition of Mike Pouncey looks a good one, evident especially on one of MGIII longest runs where he pulled and was the lead blocker. Still waiting for the return of Forrest Lamp, who could still make a massive difference to this below average line.

Image result for cardale jones chargers

Photo by; KABC

For the receivers, we know that Keenan Allen is one of the best receivers in the league, but it is the number 2 and 3 receivers that’s up for grabs. At this present moment, number 2 receiver is Mike Williams, the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Missing most of his rookies year with injuries, amassing only 11 catches he has a lot to prove. Mike Williams is gaining a lot of buzz in fantasy and NFL circles, he’s looking like the real red-zone threat with Hunter Henry out for the year. He did okay, made a couple of catches for first downs, but did not see a lot of him in the red-zone and his route running still needs some fine tuning. What was evident was his strength and power, at one point bouncing off 4 Cardinal tacklers for a nice gain. For me though, it was a different Clemson receiver that stood out, Artavis Scott. Scott (5 catches for 44 yards) made some really nice grabs on 3rd down and was often wide open after sharp, clean routes. I don’t know how productive he can be in the regular season, but is great depth and for what it’s worth I would take him over Travis Benjamin as the 4th wide receiver. Of course, I would be amiss to not talk about the incredible grab by Geremy Davis (4 catches, 88 yards and 1TD) for a long 47-yd TD, a guy also making waves in camp, but I still take the consistency that Scott seems to possess.

At the running back position Melvin Gordon is one of the true 3-down bell cow running backs in the league, but his back up is still important. Undrafted rookie free agent Austin Ekeler was the guy last year, and on the few snaps he had last night, he looks like the guy again, small shifty with great burst and speed. Useful in both the passing and running game, I’m excited to see more of Austin and he could be one of the surprise fantasy sleepers. We did not get to see 7th round rookie Justin Jackson out of Northwestern, but Russell Hansborough, who has been on the Tampa Bay practice sqaud most recently, did a really nice job, making tacklers miss and getting what was there. If he can keep up the success, he may well push for the 3rd running back in the rotation.

I don’t want to dwell on the tight-end position too much, but it is certainly weird seeing an inept tight-end room. We have had the luxury of a future Hall-of-Famer in Antonio Gates and an up-and-coming superstar in Hunter Henry. Neither of those are playing this year, as of right now, and it’s looking bad guys. Sean Culkin had a couple of nice, chain-moving, in-traffic grabs, but overall, there was 7 targets and 5 drops to the tight-ends. Uh-oh. Someone needs to step up, or Antonio needs to come back, stat.

DEFENCE

On the defensive side of the ball, its all about the rooks! In the 2018 Draft the Chargers went defence with the first 4 selections, Derwin James, Uchenna Nwosu, Justin Jones and Kyzir White. For me Nwosu was the most impressive of the guys last night, had a number of pressures on Josh Rosen including a sack. He was flying around the ball and with his versatility could really take the already impressive Chargers defence to the next level. Another pass rusher who shone as well was Chris Landrum, the Chargers REALLY liked him last year as another undrafted guy, but he tore is Pectoral muscle. Last night again, he was giving Rosen constant pressure and despite a facemask penalty, looks like he could be an excellent rotation guy, to add to the already elite pass rush. A little disclaimer should be added here…the starting Cardinals offensive line is one of the worst in the league, so the 2nd string line is a little….porous. It will be interesting to see if the success can continue against better opposition. Derwin James looked every bit as advertised, one specific plays springs to mind, where he covered the running back toe-to-toe on a wheel route and if he can be every bit the player we all want him to be this Chargers secondary can be very scary. Kyzir White, played safety at college but the Chargers want him to be a line-backer at the next level and he looked okay, made some good plays but also made some rookie mistakes. Whilst I have been very positive, I will say that the first team run defence looked weak again and was gashed a few times by David Johnson, so I hope that is not a theme that will permeate to the regular season. On the defensive line, there is still a lot to play for and I think this could be the weakness of the Chargers defence, Damion Square and Corey Liuget made some nice plays against the run last night, but are too inconsistent. Whereas Darius Philon looked to improve towards the end of last year and during camp this year, so hopefully he can continue that growth and add some much needed talent to the defensive interior.

Image result for uchenna nwosu chargers

Photo by; Conquest Chronicles

Oh and also normality is resumed, Caleb Sturgis, shanked a very make-able 42-yd FG. Yay.

All in all, whilst it was a sloppy, mistake filled game, there was some positives to be taken away from the first week of preseason. If these mistakes can be cleaned up and we can stay healthy I will be relatively optimistic about the chances of this Chargers team, once the regular season hits.

Follow me on Twitter @edmardon23, I would love to hear what you think, I will be bringing you all of your Chargers needs throughout the season.

 

THE PACK: Dive Into Key Positional Battles in Green Bay (Preseason Week 1)

After an NFL off-season that gave us more crazy stories than I can name, the first week of preseason is upon us and we can smell the 2018 season right around the corner. The Packers started out on the right foot with a 31-17 victory over the Titans in Green Bay on Thursday. Diving deeper beyond just the score, I’d like to have a look at three positions that have been newsworthy for the Pack.

RUNNING BACK

The three backs expected to be in the mix this year are of course converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, and Aaron Jones. Both Williams and Jones will be entering their second year. Montgomery began the 2017 season as the starter and looked to be off to a solid start before injuries limited his snap count. Another limiting factor for Monty was the combined play of Jones and Williams. Jones had a pair of 100+ yard games in weeks 5 and 7 before Williams took over the bulk of the work in the second half of the season, contributing on the ground and in the air with six total touchdowns in the final eight games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now entering 2018, it seems to be anyone’s guess who will earn the starting role and if there’s any hope that this won’t be a committee. For the Packers, having multiple versatile backs is never a bad thing, but fantasy owners would surely like McCarthy to just roll with someone primarily. My money is on Aaron Jones, but with him being suspended the first two games of the season, he’ll have ground to make up. As expected, the first preseason game didn’t give us much of a look at these guys, but fans will be hoping for more in the coming weeks. Williams and Montgomery turned their 8 combined carries into a measly 25 yards. Jamaal Williams helped himself with an 8-yard touchdown reception on a strong second effort. One of the other keys for these backs will be who steps up in pass protection.

WIDE RECEIVER 

With the surprising release of veteran Jordy Nelson (now with the Raiders), Aaron Rodgers needs a new top receiver, and it will almost surely be Davante Adams. Although he has yet to eclipse 1,000 yards, Adams has been heavily targeted over the past two seasons by both Rodgers and his backups. What’s even more promising is that Adams also had 10+ touchdowns in both of those seasons. If both Adams and Rodgers stay healthy, I think it’s reasonable to expect 130 targets for Adams, which he should turn into 1,000+ yards in the Packers dynamic offense. In his limited time in the first preseason game, Adams had two catches for 57 yards, the majority coming on a 48-yard bomb with Malcolm Butler in coverage.

The real question mark at the position for the Packers is which receiver(s) will win the second starting receiver spot, and who will step in as the third when the Packers go three-wide? Randall Cobb is currently listed opposite Adams, but he has not been anywhere close to what he produced in his breakout 2014 season, and he is certainly not locked in as the #2. He is also currently dealing with an ankle injury and his status for the regular season opener is unclear.

Behind these two, the Packers are very young, but also show promise. Many are hopeful for Geronimo Allison, but not me. Others in the mix include DeAngelo Yancey, Jake Kumerow, and Trevor Davis. I still don’t see it. I think the answer will be found in one of the Packers 2018 draft picks. The Packers went with a wide receiver in three straight rounds, selecting J’Mon Moore (Missouri) in the 4th, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (S. Florida) in the 5th, and Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) in the 6th.

Final Two College Seasons Stats (2016 and 2017)
Ht Wt G Rec Yards TD Y/R Y/G
J’Mon Moore Missouri 6’3″ 205 25 127 2,094 18 16.5 83.8
Marquez Valdes-Scantling South Florida 6’4″ 206 23 75 1,295 11 17.2 56.3
Equanimeous St. Brown Notre Dame 6’5″ 214 24 91 1,476 13 16.2 61.5

 

We got to see each of these guys in action against the Titans, and it was Valdes-Scantling that won the day with five receptions for 101 yards, with each of the first four gaining more yards than the last, and culminating in a difficult grab for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. As his 17.2 average shows, he can be a deep threat, and if a 6’4″ receiver with a 4.37 40-yard dash can stretch the defense for Rodgers, he will be productive himself and open things up for his teammates, most importantly Adams.

St. Brown had a 4-61 line, while Moore disappointed with only 27 yards on 3 catches. He dropped a beautiful deep pass after he’d gotten behind the defense that could have helped him in the box score. The Packers are excited about what each of them can bring to the table, and having this much size at the position could be a nightmare for defenses, especially in the red zone. If you add in newly acquired tight end Jimmy Graham at 6’7″, I’m not sure the Packers will be able to be stopped if they put the pieces together. The most important thing these rookies can do is earn the trust of Aaron Rodgers. If they can do that, they won’t just make the roster, they’ll earn significant playing time.

LINEBACKER

MLB Blake Martinez is coming off a stellar sophomore season in which he had 94 solo tackles, 48 assists, 1 sack, 1 interception, 8 pass breakups, and a forced fumble. He played close to 93% of the Packers defensive snaps as well as many on special teams, and he may have an even bigger role this year with the Packers losing LB Jake Ryan for the season. There has been talk about how to fill the void at inside linebacker, and there has been some speculation about Clay Mathews or Nick Perry sliding in, but ideally the Packers would like to keep them on the outside with their ability to rush the passer.

Enter the Packers 3rd round pick out of Vanderbilt, Oren Burks. Burks can be a special tool for the Packers, as he has experience at both safety and linebacker. If Martinez can hold down the middle, Burks can be the sideline-to-sideline guy that lines up according the what the offense presents. Going further, with the Packers “nitro” defensive package and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the Packers should be able to give a variety of looks if Burks is included in the rotation with Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, and Josh Jones. Burks saw action with both the starters and the second team Thursday, and led the Packers with 6 tackles.

 

Follow me all season as I cover the Packers and offer my personal takes from a real-life and fantasy football perspective, and follow me on Twitter!

The Roller Coaster Ride of Kirk Cousins

The day is October 10th 2012, little did we know how big of a day this would be for two NFL QB careers. It was 3rd and Goal at the 2-yard line, with 6:22 left on the third quarter, when RG3 would take the snap, then roll out to the right, and try to make a move for the Touchdown then would get hit head to head, which would result in a concussion. Every Redskin fan asked themselves, who is our backup? Little did they know they drafted a future 1-time pro bowler with the 7th pick in the 4th round of the 2012 draft. This would not be his only time coming in a game after RG3 got hurt, his most known appearance was coming in the game, in the 4th Quarter of the Redskins Vs Ravens game leading his team to a game-winning drive against the soon to be Super Bowl champs. After that game, Kirk would start gaining Attention to not only the Redskin fanbase but also the whole NFL fanbase. He was not only a 4th round pick who came out of Michigan State poised to be a backup for life, but he was finally being seen as a future starter in the NFL even if it wasn’t for the Redskins.

Image result for kirk cousins against falcons 2012

He would start a whole season for Redskins until 2015, but he would start the last three games of 2013, and then 6 games in 2014, and then finally be given the keys to take full control of the offense in 2015. By this team, he has gained the nickname of Captain Kirk and would be the centerpiece to the famously known acronym, HTTR. The year 2015, he would lead the Redskins to a 9-7 record and an NFC East division champions, and a ticket to play the Packers in the NFC Wildcard game. By this point, he has all the support around the team and fanbase, no one expected the Redskins to make the playoffs, but “Captain Kirk” put the team on his back and lead them to the promise land. Even though they would lose that game against the Red-Hot Packers being lead by one of the all-time greats Aaron Rodgers, the optimism around DC was off the roofs, everyone loved Captain Kirk and thought he could answer to leading them to another ring.

Fast forward one year, and now the whole Fanbase is calling him, “A Statpatterth seed Giants.  He threw for 287 yards with a completion percentage 62.9 and a ratio of 1-2. People only want to remember his “Choke” interception in the possible game-winning drive to put them into the playoffs, but the whole game should be seen as a team lost not just Kirk losing the game. The defense still allowed 19 points against the first half of starters and a second half against a lot of backups, and offensively struggle to have any run game to be heard of. The defense allowed Paul Perkins to rush for 106 and Rashad Jennings to add-on 52 yards and a TD, while Rob Kelly only ran for 33 yards which allowed the Giants to not respect the run game at all. Somehow the whole game falls under that one interception from Kirk, no the other 3 quarters where they should have put away a team that was already looking forward to the playoffs. This one game would be the start of the demise of Kirk and the Redskin organization.

Image result for kirk cousins looking depressed against giants

Now in the 2016 Off-Season, the rumors of Kirk wanting to get paid big due to his Good Regular Season stats started to create a ripple effect around the organization. With only one playoff appearance and a 26-30-1 seems like nothing special, and with that analysis, they decided to Tag him. He was not pleased at all and felt disrespected but knew he had the opportunity to earn that payday the following year.

Now in the 2017-2018 Regular season he would have to lead this team to a successful season to be able to reach the big money, but with a season derailed by injuries, he ended up just finishing the season 7-9 with a stat line of 4093 yards and a 27-13 ratio, which in most minds is an above average season but nothing special, but when accounting the injuries and below average WR play, just leading to the team to a 7-9 season with the those stats is impressive. Going into the off-season everybody knew Kirk wanted the big contract, and most fans wanted him to walk due to all those names he gained by in 2016, which then allowed for a big Off-season to be had for the NFL.

The first big move the Redskins made was trading for Alex Smith in the off-season, which meant Kirk was going to be in a different NFL uniform in 2018 but how? Were they going to Tag and Trade and straight up let him walk?  They decided to lose all that value, and let him walk to Free Agency where he’s been the most confident prize since Peyton left the Colts in 2012. He was untimely decided to sign with Vikings which then would lead us to the question, What Kirk do we expect?

Image result for kirk cousins with vikings

Do we expect the highly appraised Kirk or the Kirk that gained all those nicknames back in Washington? Every Fan of Minnesota expects the 2015 Kirk to come back, and everyone should by just looking at the team. He has to Pro Bowl caliber WRs, an above average Offensive line, a good Running Back but us coming back from an injury which leads to questions, but the Biggest improvement, is that he is going to be playing with a top 5 defense behind him. With a win or go home game the Vikings won’t allow a Paul Perkins caliber player run for 100+ yards against them, they will shut the run down and not be the reason they lose. This is Kirks first True time having a great team behind him, and a Super Bowl should be expected from this team with all the talent that the roster has. If he fails to even come close to winning a ring, then maybe we should actually recognize him as a 4th rounder talent, but until this season is complete we should expect the most from him, and not hate on him. He has never had a fair chance in Washington, and this is the season to see the true Kirk and have all the Redskins fans who believe they got an upgrade at QB to sit there in embarrassment for calling Alex Smith better than Kirk Cousins

49ers Preseason Week 1 Recap

49ers Preseason Week 1 Recap

The season is almost upon us. This is my first article in quite some time due to other commitments. CleatGeeks have been kind enough to assign me to the 49ers for the foreseeable future.

So, what can you expect from me throughout the 2018 season? Each week look out for a recap and a preview of 9ers’ games. These articles will also update you on any roster transactions, injures and of course, juicy gossip.

For now, let’s focus on our first (of many) victories of the season. In Preseason Week 1 we travelled to Dallas for a much awaited skirmish. As with all games in August there was an air of disappoint. But, if you pull back a few layers there is much to unravel. Let’s start with the bad.

Injuries

 At this time of year all fans, across the world are watching with baited breath, praying that their team battles against the odds and remains healthy. In light of the recent Derius Guice news (torn ACL) it is worth us keeping a positive head on our shoulders. Yes we had injuries but for now, they seem fairly light in comparison.

Soloman Thomas – DE – ConcussionImage result for solomon thomas 49ers

Gary Gilliam – OT – Concussion

George Kittle – TE – Shoulder

Matt Breida – RB – Shoulder

Malcolm Smith– LB – Hamstring

Eli Harold – LB – Knee

At first glance, this list looks catastrophic for the team. The main concern came with Kittle and Breida who seemed to suffer serious shoulder injuries. And let’s not forget that concussions are ALWAYS serious, regardless of how quickly a player bounces back.

However, the Faithful got lucky this week and all six instances appear to be relatively minor. Solomon Thomas and Gary Gilliam are now both in the concussion protocol and are likely to be ready for week 1 (phew).

George Kittle was feared to have suffered some kind of collarbone injury (see Aaron Rodgers) but further tests reveal there is no structural damage. The news is identical for Matt Breida (no structural damage) and both palyers should be good to go for week 1. (@MaioccoNBCS)

Image result for malcolm smith 49ers

Furthermore, Eli Harold- an up and coming contributor appears to simply have a knee bruise. As of the 10th of August there is no news on Malcolm Smith. Hopefully it is nothing major after losing him to a torn pectoral last year. Yes, we have a solidified LB core with the addition of Korey Toomer and Fred Waner but a veteran present is never to be under estimated.

Top Player Performances

Another section I will be trying out for this season is the ‘Top Player Performances’. For the Preseason this will focus on players who, following a game, performed well enough to improve their roster position or improve their chances of maintaining a job. For this reason, it is unlikely that bona fide starters will be on this list- unless of course, they wreck the field. This week we have quite a few names.

Pita Taumoepenu – LB – 2 tacklesImage result for richie james 49ers

Richie James – WR – 4 receptions for 46 yards and 1 TD

DJ Reed – DB – 2 tackles 1 assist

Julian Taylor – DE – 2 tackles 1 assist and a sack

CJ Beathard – QB – 10/20 for 181 yards and 1 INT

Nick Mullens – QB – 11/13 for 141 1TD yards and 1INT

Now, the box scores only tell half the tale- as usual. Let’s start at the top. Pita has been on the 9ers since last year and was drafted 202nd overall. So far he is yet to make an impact in the regular season but will soon become a house hold name.

With the ability to rush the passer and punish the run, Pita showed his natural instincts against the cowboys and was frequently around the ball. Although he only racked up 2 tackles one of these was for a loss. He certainly passed the eye test and could be the home grown talent this team relishes. Oh and he added a tackle on ST for good measure.

All of a sudden the 49ers now have an excess of WR talent. Richie James is currently buried on the 9ers depth chart, look for that to change. Not only did he score the team’s winning TD (see Nick Mullens later) but with the ball in his hands he turns into a RB. Showing exceptional vision and toughness for a WR, James could solidify his place as the team’s number 5 or 6 receiver. One thing can be certain; James, Robinson and Bourne (also Victor Bolden Jr. didn’t look half bad) are going to have to fight this off-season. If it were up to me we’d keep them all, sadly it is not.

DJ Reed set the tone from the moment he stepped onto the field. With K’Waun Williams currently battling some nagging injuries, Reed has been taking over as the slot/nickel cornerback. Totalling 3 tackles, Reed showcased his field awareness and vigor. At only 5’9” and 188 lbs he sure plays much, much larger than that. He allowed 3 catches for a total of 9 yards. Without picking favorites (yet), Reed is going to be the guy I’ve got my eye on the most this Preseason.

Unleeeeessss I change my mind and instead switch to Julian Taylor. At a monstrous 6’5” and 280lbs, Taylor was selected at 223rd overall in this year’s draft. After his first outing, this seems like a STEAL. To say he was all over the field would not do him justice. He may have only totaled 3 tackles but he also added: 1 sack (for -9 yards!), 1 TFL and 2 QB hits. Not. Too. Shabby. Currently a third stringer behind some legitimate competition, Taylor will have to work hard to over take players such as; Cassius Marsh, Ronald Blair and Jeremiah Attaochu. But, these guys aren’t exactly All Pros and that’s how Taylor looked last night.

Image result for nick mullens 49ers

Lets pool this 2 guys together. Beathard and Mullens impressed me a great deal in this game. They kept the ball moving, showed accuracy and poise. With Jimmy G hailed as the next coming, these guys will hopefully have to sit and watch this year. But, as the Eagles proved last year, a back-up QB can be the most valuable player on your team.

Beathard showed some promise last year before the arrival of Jimmy Jesus and I slept slightly better at night knowing he is waiting in the wings. Mullens- an undrafted sophmore, led a game winning drive and for that, he earns himself a place on this week’s Top Player Performances. Oh, and he also led an additional TD drive and completed a 2-Pt conversion.

Good Start- Keep Going

 These section is dedicated to those players who showed some flashes of excellence. Perhaps they didn’t jump off the page as some of the others did but had a good day nonetheless. Again, this are guys we should keep our eye on as they get more and more snaps and more chance to prove themselves.

Joe Williams – RB – 11 Carries for 27 yards and 1 TDImage result for elijah lee 49ers

Raheem Mostert – RB – 8 Carries for 57 yards and 1 fumble

Kendrick Bourne – WR – 3 receptions for 31 yards

Elijah Lee – LB – 7 total tackles

Joe Williams showed why the hype was high on him last season before being placed on IR. He had several runs in which his power was evident and of course, punching in a Goal Line TD helped his performance. As with the receiving core, the 49ers are deep at running back so he has a lot to play for. Expect to see many more carries from him over the next few weeks.

The same can be said for Mostert. His performance was overall more impressive than Williams. With exceptional burst and speed it is easy to see why Raheem has a place on this roster. A Special Teams ‘Demon’ I expect him to make the final cut. However, he does have a fumbling issue dating back to last season. He needs to improve his ball security but other than that, he’s a good young player.

Image result for raheem mostert 49ers

The Darling of the 2017 off-season/Pre Season, Kendrick Bourne is now a household name. His performance was good but limited. As mentioned with Richie James, the receiver battle is going to be hot this year. Let’s see how he falls on the depth chart come September.

A few missed tackles and bad positioning was the only thing keeping Elijah Lee off of the previous list for Top Performers. Now, perhaps you could argue a switch of him and Pita but personally Pita jumped off the screen and his limited snap count was the only thing holding him back. Still, 7 total tackles (6 solo!) is nothing to be sniffed at. I’ll say it again, out LB core is suddenly looking like a commodity rather than a hindrance.

Thank you for reading! As the weeks progress expect to see more sections added. The updates will keep coming and so will these articles. Any feedback is welcome and encourage. Follow me on Twitter @Murphy123George

Cheers guys!!

George.

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