Packers Hire Matt Lafleur

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The Packers search for a new head coach is over. Looking to update a stagnant offense Green Bay has seen fit to hire Titans offensive coordinator Matt Lafleur. Lafleur reportedly edged out fellow front runner Todd Monken, Tampa OC.

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Lafleur’s style of offense has generally centered around two TE sets. What the Packers have seen however, is a coach with the ability to adapt his offense when top TE talent goes down. A Lafleur-style offense utilizes the best 11 guys on the offensive side of the ball, although ideally two of which are at the TE position. Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith couldn’t stay healthy in Tennessee and Lafleur was still able to put a productive product on the feild.

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If you look back, Lafleur has quite the “under the radar” resumé. In Washington he was the quarterback coach that helped RGIII get rookie of the year honors. Also while in Washington he assisted Kirk Cousins in convincing the rest of the league that he should be one of the highest paid QBs. While in Atlanta he helped Matt Ryan win an MVP award and took the Falcons to the superbowl as quarterback coach. A stint with the Rams as offensive coordinator saw Lafleur turn Jared Goff’s career around. Lastly Lafleur was able to make lemonade out of dirt with a below average and oft injured offense in Tennessee.

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The Packers liked what they saw and felt the need to jump on Lafleur quickly. On the surface this hire doesn’t look like much, but when you dig into Lafleur’s past it could be the answer for Green Bay. One question looms, however, how will Lafleur and QB Aaron Rodgers get along?

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England vs. Belgium; The World Cup Game That is a ‘Must Watch’

Thursday, June 28th at 1 pm central time the World Cup will bless us with two great teams and one strange scenario.

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Belgium and England are tied atop Group G with 6 points each. They are also tied in goals for and goals against. If the game ends in a draw the winner of the group will be decided by a series of tie breakers that eventually settles on yellow and red cards. Belgium has three yellow and no red cards, while England has two yellow and no red cards. (England wins the group if the game ends in a draw and no cards are given).

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With that settled (sorta), a huge obstacle lies ahead for the winner of the group; a likely future matchup with Germany or Brazil. Now the loser of the group would likely matchup against Mexico or Switzerland at some point. These players are here to compete with their pride on their chests and their country beating in their hearts, but keep in mind that the loser of this group may draw themselves an “easier” path.

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As England have been known to “choke” on the world stage more recently, I could see them winning the group and then promptly being blown out of the water in the round of 16 by Columbia, Japan, or Senegal.

 

Whatever happens though, this game is bound to have a great story rise from it.

World Cup Group F Primer

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Korea Republic – Likely the worst team to make the field, Korea will be entering thus year’s world down a (somewhat) significant player. Winger Kwon Chang-hoon suffered an Achilles injury and greatly changed the scoring landscape of this offense. Although they still have their all-star player Son Heung-min, Korea will be fighting the steepest uphill battle in the tournament facing off in the group stage against Sweden, Mexico and Germany… OUCH.

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Sweden – THE WORLD NEEDS MORE ZLATAN! Unfortunately for the world, Sweden didn’t select Zlatan for their squad this year. Sweden is running with a 4-4-2 which means they have two strikers and the entire team will need to play hard nose unselfish soccer… and that’s not what Zlatan would want to do. Although leaving Zlatan out hurts them on the offensive end this, in turn, makes this years team a closer group that will be tough to score on. Its entirely possible Sweden sneak into the knockout stage by upsetting Mexico, but it would have to come from a stellar performance from their striker’s Ola Toivonen and John Guidetti.

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Mexico – Six World Cups in a row Mexico has made the knockout stage and gone no further. It’s painful to see such a talented team with so much promise fail consistently. And with lesser talent then years past Mexico’s chances of bucking that trend don’t look good. Sweden may even sneak up and take second in this group. Hirving Lozano is the key factor here. Lozano will have to find a way to not only capitalize on chances himself but also create chances for his teammates. That’s a big task for a winger, especially against Sweden and Germany who pride themselves on mistake free soccer.

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Germany –  Ozil, Muller, Kroos, Reus, Gundogan, Khedira… Who is going to stop these guys? They are going to light you up, and don’t even think about trying to outscore them. In goal stands a 6’4″ schnitzel eating beast that is Maneul Neuer. The group stage really is of no concern for Germany, in fact, they are very VERY likely to repeat as World Cup Champions. Beyond that the only thing to talk about here is Timo Werner, the future of German National soccer. A nondescript center forward/striker, Werner is the type of player Germany will look to build around in its present and future. Werner assures that Germany will still be a super power on the world stage for the foreseeable future.

World Cup Group B Primer

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Iran –  In 18 world cup qualifying matches the Iranians only allowed five goals  and never lost. This team predicates itself on staunch defense and quick counterattacks. In a group with heavyweights Spain and Portugal, Iran needs to continue this impressive play if they hope to make it to the knockout stage. Two players to watch for are Saman Ghoddos and Sardar Azmoun, the heart and soul of Iran’s attack.

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Morocco – Welcome back! Morocco has gone 20 years (5 world cups) without making an appearance on the sport’s biggest world stage. With a roster full of players on European clubs, this team won’t shy away from the tough task at hand. Although it’s unlikely, Morocco has a great chance to make the knockout stage if the other teams in this group overlook them. A couple players I will be watching on this roster will be back fielders Mehdi Benatia (Juventus) and Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid).

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ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – MARCH 23: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, celebrate is goal the 1-2 during the International Friendly match between Egypt v Portugal at the Letzigrund Stadium on March 23, 2018 in Zurich Switzerland (Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Portugal – Although they were the Euro 2016 champions, manager Fernando Santos is trying to keep his team humble and focused. Obviously we all know Cristiano Ronaldo is a major factor here, but don’t overlook Bernardo and Andre Silva. Both will need to create and finish while Ronaldo will surely be heavily marked. The biggest issue Portugal will have throughout the tournament will be their defense. Other then Pepe this defensive group is young, inexperienced, and unproven.

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Spain – Spain has quickly become a favorite to win the World Cup this year and rightfully so. Head to toe this is one of the more sexier rosters… and yes it’s 90% of the same guys from the catastrophe in 2014, but with a new manager and play style this team has been reborn. New manager Julen Lopetegui took a team loaded with talent and said “Hey, why don’t we use this talent?”. With the recent comeuppance of tactical midfielder Isco (you know he is legit cause he only goes by one name) and David De Gea now firmly in goal, this team is set up to go far.

 

2018 Green Bay Packers Draft Recap

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Heading into the draft the Packers had some glaring holes on their roster: an edge rusher, a lock down cornerback, depth at offensive line and also depth at the wide receiver position. A daunting task for any general manager, but a challenge that has to be met by first time GM Brian Gutekunst.

Gutekunst’s first move wasn’t a pick, but a trade. The Packers would trade back 13 spots only trade up nine spots, picking up the Saints’ 2019 first round pick in the process.

Round 1 , Pick 18: Jaire Alexander CB Louisville  Although he is on the “short” end of the spectrum what Alexander lacks in height, he more than makes up for in speed. Alexander ran a 4.38 at the combine, which landed him 4th fastest at the CB position and slower than only two of the wideouts at the combine. Packers were able to snatch a top 3 CB in the draft.

Round 2 , Pick 45: Josh Jackson CB Iowa  CB? Didn’t they draft a cornerback in the first round? Yes, but when another top three corner falls into your lap in the 2nd round you have to take him. Rather then try to keep pace with WRs like Alexander does, Jackson is the type of physical CB that would rather slow receivers down. Although he measured on the “slow” end of the spectrum, Jackson still has proven to have a nose for turnovers. Last season at Iowa, Jackson led the nation in INTs with eight. I’m not a fan of taking CBs back to back, however both players appear to have a bright future in the NFL.

Round 3 , Pick 88: Oren Burks LB Vanderbilt Awesome! We got our edge rusher! Actually no, Burks is not that type of linebacker. Last season a major issue for the Packers defense was defending the screen and covering RBs running passing routes out of the backfield. Enter: Oren Burks. Small enough to squeeze past linemen, but big enough to be a sure tackler, Burks is a converted safety playing the linebacker position. This was a disappointing pick at first glance, but where we passed on an edge rusher we gained a significant role playing LB.

Round 4 , Pick 133: J’Mon Moore WR Missouri  There is sure to be a dog fight this pre season for the WR3 spot on the Packers’ roster and Moore will be firmly in the mix. The biggest issue for Moore, however, is his inconsistent catch rate. He has been known to drop a few balls here and there, BUT you know who else struggled with catching the ball? Davante Adams and look at him now. The Packers are deep enough at WR that they could afford to wait till the 4th round to pick a wideout. If Moore can work on the drops then we landed what could end up being a great WR2.

Round 5 , Pick 138 Cole Madison OL Washington State  Luke Falk became the all time leading passer in Pac-12 history this past season. At 6’5″ , 308 lbs Cole Madison is a “big” reason why. Although he comes from an “air raid” style offense, many scouts think he will have little trouble adapting to the NFL.

Round 5 , Pick 172 JK Scott P Alabama  EVERYONE STAY CALM! If you think you need to draft a punter, why not grab the best one in the draft. The 5th round is a little early… let’s be honest Gutekunst was probably three bud light limes deep at this point.

Round 5 , Pick 174 Marquez Valdes – Scantling WR USF On the surface this appears to be more WR depth, but when you dig deeper you find a 4.37 gunner and return man for special teams. Couple this gunner’s speed with the hang time of rookie JK Scott’s punts and the Packers may have drafted a deadly combo.

Round 6 , Pick 207 Equanimeous St. Brown WR Notre Dame Originally viewed as a top WR in the draft, St. Brown saw his stock plummet due to character issues. A 6’4″ WR with 4.48 speed, the Packers’ future at the position fell right into their lap.

Round 7 , Pick 232 James Looney DL California  A defensive end in college, Looney will most likely be asked to bulk up and play defensive tackle for Green Bay. It will definitely be interesting to see how new DC Mike Pettine decides to use him.

Round 7 , Pick 239 Hunter Bradley LS Mississippi State   So not only are the Packers “that team” that drafted a punter, but the are also “that team” that drafted a long snapper. Bradley started his collegiate career as a tight end, but injuries forced him into the long snapper role. This is a “head scratcher” a draft pick.

Round 7 , Pick 248 Kendall Donnerson LB SE Missouri State  Finally! Finally an edge rusher! With their last pick the Packers saw fit to draft an edge rusher with 4.4 speed.

In his first draft as GM Brian Gutekunst did well, on paper. Not only did he fill glaring holes on the roster but acquired a first round pick in 2019 in the process. The Packers 2018 draft class gets an “A” from me.

2018 NFL Draft Early to Mid Draft Sleepers

Every draft we see a slew of players selected that we hardly knew existed and they turn out to be game changing players. The following is a list of players to keep an eye on during the draft and into their NFL careers.

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Luke Falk QB Washington State – CBS Sports ranks Falk as the 12th overall QB in this year’s draft. Throwing 119 TDs to 39 INTs over the course of his 4 years in college, it is my opinion Falk’s draft stock is anywhere from late first round to late second round. A team in need of a future at the QB position that misses out on one of the consensus top 5 QBs in this years draft would do just fine “settling” for Falk. Notable interested teams include New England and Buffalo.

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Kyle Lauletta QB Richmond – Drawing comparisons to Jimmy Garoppolo, Lauletta has shown to have great pocket presence and a compact throwing motion. One negative of note was a much larger, elongated throwing motion when making passes to deep routes. I can see Lauletta’s draft range being from late second round to mid third round. Notable interested teams include Arizona and Washington.

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Royce Freeman RB Oregon – At 5’9″, 229 pounds Freeman is a load. Averaging 5.9 yards per carry and 10.3 yards per reception, this is the dual threat RB that NFL teams salivate over. Freeman compares well to Jonathan Stewart, his only real downside is his pass blocking or lack thereof. Freeman should see is name called in the second round. Notable interested teams include Oakland, Philadelphia, and Buffalo.

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Chase Edmonds RB Fordham – Edmonds tore it up at the combine and has raced up draft boards. The all time leading rusher in the Patriot League, Edmonds has great hands out of the backfield and has break away speed. Think Christian McCaffrey. Although he shot up draft boards Edmonds is still likely to be drafted no sooner then the late third round. Notable interested teams include New York Giants and New York Jets.

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Mike Gesicki TE Penn State – Arguably the highlight of the combine, Gesicki may have pushed his stock as high as the first round. Gesicki comes in at 6’5″, 247 pounds with a 41.5″ vertical and a 129″ broad jump. At the NFL level Gesicki will likely be an immediate starter with the ability to both create mismatches and be a redzone beast. I can absolutely see Gesicki coming off the board in the late first round, although he could slip into the second depending on what teams are in those spots come draft day. Notable interested teams include Cincinnati and Miami.

Solving the NBA’s Problems

Three major issues have recently come to light in the NBA: tanking, the draft lottery, and playoff structure. Being the genius that I am, I have taken it upon myself to solve these problems.

In an effort to acquire more ping pong balls in the draft lottery to ensure themselves a higher probability at the number one overall pick, bad NBA teams have resorted to tanking. This waters down the product on the court and costs the NBA money. What if every team that missed the playoffs only got one ping pong ball? Equal odds at the number one pick for every “bad” team. Tanking is now irrelevant. Now you might be thinking “Why would a team play hard at the end of the season to get the 8 seed just to get bounced in the first round?” STOP! Because now we do away with conferences and seed 1 – 16 by record. Oh, and did I mention the first round is one game per matchup? What?!?! Yes! Not only does your junky 16 seed of a team have a chance to upset the 1 and move on after just one game, but you also only have to travel across the country just once. Now in the second round matchups are best of three, third round is best of five and the finals are best of seven.

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Quick recap:

  • 14 teams that don’t make the NBA playoffs all have an equal chance at each of the first 14 spots in the NBA draft.
  • Teams that make playoffs are seeded 1 – 16 and there are no more conferences.
  • Playoff format is now 1 game in the first round, best of 3 series in the second round, best of 5 series in the third round, and the NBA finals is a best of 7 series.

 

Chris Chastain & Brian Willis , mocking the draft…

Many teams including the Browns, Dolphins, Bills, and Packers were involved in interesting trades yesterday. My colleague, Chris Chastain (@ChrisPSF) and I took some time to see how these moves affected the outcome of an updated mock draft. Interesting to note that even with the addition of Tyrod Taylor the Browns may still draft a QB in the first round.  We also saw Derrius Guice shoot up the board to 7th overall, filling a hole in the RB spot for Tampa Bay with the release of Doug Martin. Until San Francisco signs a FA WR or trades for one, we still have them addressing that need in the first round. One final highlight of this particular mock draft is the guarantee that Green Bay will take a CB at 17th overall. Trading away Demarious Randall is addition by subtraction. Randall has been an issue both on and off the field for the Packers and by trading him away they definetly have their collective eye on a rookie in this draft.

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  1. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley RB, Penn State
  2. New York Giants – Bradley Chubb EDGE, NC State
  3. Indianapolis Colts – Derwin James S, FSU
  4. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold QB, USC
  5. Denver Broncos – Baker Mayfield QB, OKLA
  6. New York Jets – Josh Rosen QB, UCLA
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers –  Derrius Guice RB, LSU
  8. Chicago Bears – Minkah Fitzpatrick DB, Alabama
  9. San Francisco – Calvin Ridley WR, Alabama
  10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith LB, Georgia
  11. Miami Dolphins – Quenton Nelson G, ND
  12. Cincinnati Bengals – Orlando Brown OT, Oklahoma
  13. Washington Redskins – Tremaine Edmunds LB, VT
  14. Green Bay Packers – Josh Jackson CB, Iowa
  15. Arizona Cardinals – Josh Allen QB, Wyoming
  16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton WR, SMU
  17. Los Angeles Chargers – Connor Williams OT, TEX
  18. Seattle Seahawks – Denzel Ward CB, Ohio State
  19. Dallas Cowboys – Ronnie Harrison S, Alabama
  20. Detroit Lions – Vita Vea DT, Washington
  21. Buffalo Bills – Rashaan Evans LB, Alabama
  22. Buffalo Bills –  Lamar Jackson QB, Louisville
  23. Los Angeles Rams – Taven Bryan DL, FLA
  24. Carolina Panthers – Mike McGlinchey OT, Notre Dame
  25. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Davenport DE, Texas-San Antonio
  26. Atlanta Falcons – Billy Price G, Ohio State
  27. New Orleans Saints – Trenton Thompson DT, UGA
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Harold Landry EDGE, Boston College
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars – D.J Clark WR, LSU
  30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez G, UTEP
  31. New England Patriots – Isaiah Lynn OL, UGA
  32. Philadelphia Eagles – Arden Key EDGE, LSU

 

The Oscars you missed…

If you watched the 2018 Oscars you saw Kobe Bryant win an Oscar for best animated short film. However, there are some other people in the sports world that also have won Oscars that you may have missed:

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  • Dom Capers, Best Actor – Capers impersonation of a Defensive Coordinator in 2010 was amazing, though we know, he truly is not a DC.

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  • Russell Westbrook, Costume Design – Westbrook has shown us time again that clothes are not just for warmth but also used to make an artistic statement. We are still trying to figure out that statement.

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  • Tom Brady, Best Picture – nothing shows your family you love them like kissing them longingly on the mouth on national TV. A picture that we can’t get out of our minds, sadly.

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  • Kyrie Irving, Actor in a Supporting Role – Irving’s time in Cleveland showed us that a lead man could act like a side kick. Staying in the shadow of LeBron this caterpillar has since became a butterfly in Boston. Marvelous.

How did the RBs stack up at the combine?

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Based purely on the results of the 40 yard dash, 20 yard shuttle, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, and three cone drill I ranked the running backs at this year’s combine. Rather then list how each player finished in every event I will just give you the highlights.

PLEASE NOTE: this is just based on their combine results not how they played in college or how I think they will do in the NFL.

1. Justin Jackson , Northwestern

Jackson finished in the top 10 with a 40 yard dash time of 4.52. He is also took 5th in the vertical jump and finished first in the 20 yard shuttle.

2. Nick Chubb , Georgia

Chubb tied for first with 29 reps in the bench press, finished top 5 in the vertical jump and ran a 4.52 in the 40 yard dash.

3. Saquon Barkley , Penn State

Barkley tied for first in the bench press with 29 reps, showed a vertical of 41 inches and finished top ten in the 20 yard shuttle.

4. Chase Edmonds , Fordham

Edmonds is quickly naming a name for himself at the combine. Taking the top spot in the three cone drill and 20 yard shuttle. His vertical leap of 34 inches is good enough for 12th best of the RBs.

5. Bo Scarbrough , Alabama

Bo was second in the vertical jump and first in the broad jump.

6. Kalen Ballage , Arizona State

Ballage turned some heads when he posted a 40 time of 4.46 good enough for third among RBs.

7. Kerryon Johnson , Auburn

Johnson’s vertical of 40 inches ties him for second best among runningbacks.

8. Ryan Nall , Oregon State

Nall has a time of 4.58 in the 40, but he impressed most in the three cone drill and 20 yard shuttle.

9. Royce Freeman , Oregon

9th in the 40, 12th in the bench press, 12th in the vertical jump, 3rd in the three cone drill and third in the 20 yard shuttle. Freeman is using this year’s combine to show NFL scouts that he has a little bit of everything.

10. Chris Warren , Texas

Warren placed 11th in the broad jump, but impressed most with 25 reps in the bench press.

The rest of the running backs on my list had decent showings here and there but didn’t impress enough to finish in my top ten. All combine results can be found at NFL.com.

11. Sony Michel , Georgia

12. Nyheim Hines , NC State

13. Darrel Williams , LSU

14. Kyle Hicks , TCU

15. Roc Thomas , Jacksonville State

16. Jarvion Franklin , Western Michigan

17. Rashaad Penny , San Diego State

18. Lavon Coleman , Washington

19. Justin Crawford , West Virginia

20. Derrius Guice , LSU

21. Kamryn Pettway , Auburn