Cubs Top Pirates in Little League Classic

For the third straight season, there would be a Major League Baseball game played at historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in honor of the Little League World Series.

The Chicago Cubs took care of business early and often en route to a 7-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Little League Classic.

Chicago was the road team and Pittsburgh was the home team.

Nicholas Castellanos hit a solo home run off of Mitch Keller for the Cubs in the first-inning. Jason Heyward also hit a solo home run off of Mitch Keller in the third-inning.

Kyle Schwarber had a two-run single in the fourth-inning for Chicago. They tacked on three more runs in the fifth-inning on a RBI double by Kris Bryant and a two-run homer by Anthony Rizzo off the scoreboard in left field. Rizzo hit the home run off of Stratton.

The Pirates hit a solo home run in the ninth-inning by Starling Marte off of Craig Kimbrel on the first pitch.

Pittsburgh loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Melky Cabrera struck out swinging to end the game.

Jose Quintana (11-7) was the winning pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. He pitched seven strong innings. Quintana gave up five hits and zero runs. He walked zero batters and struck out seven.

Mitch Keller (1-2) was the losing pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched 4.1 innings and gave up seven hits and six runs. Keller walked two batters and struck out five.

He is 23 years old and Mitch Keller has a ton of potential, but he needs the right coaching staff in order for him to succeed.

As bad Pittsburgh has been in the second-half, they did not get swept in this series.

These two teams will play each other twice (three-game sets) down the stretch.

The Chicago Cubs are technically tied for first place in the National League Central with the St. Louis Cardinals, but Chicago’s win percentage is .532 and St. Louis’s is .533 and that’s why the Cubs are in the second wild card spot in the National League.

Chicago has a two-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, the New York Mets, and the Philadelphia Phillies for the second wild card in the National League.

The Chicago Cubs will host the San Francisco Giants for a three-game set starting on Tuesday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates will host the Washington Nationals for a four-game set starting on Monday night.

 

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Daniel Jones New York Giants Week 1 Starter?

Remember when everyone was criticizing New York Giants General Manager David Gettleman for drafting quarterback Daniel Jones out of Duke with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft at the end of April? Well, he might have known something that the people on the outside may not have.

Jones is apparently ahead of his schedule because he has impressed people within the organization during offseason workouts. Training camp doesn’t start until the end of next month, but Daniel Jones will be a hot name to keep an eye on for the New York Giants and the rest of the league during training camp and the preseason.

Head Coach Pat Shurmur has made it clear he expects quarterback Eli Manning to be the Week 1 starter, but Shurmur made a statement the other that Jones is preparing like he is going to be the starting quarterback Week 1.

Manning is in the final year of his contract and he is 38 years old. Eli Manning completed 66 percent of his passes last season for 4,299 yards 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Even though Manning threw for so many yards last season, a lot of those yardage came in garbage time and he didn’t have a very strong arm last season.

The New York Giants didn’t have a very good record once again last season and they finished with a 5-11 record. They need to get off to a good start this season with Manning or Shurmur will decide to pull the plug early in the season on him and go with Daniel Jones.

Jones is a lot more athletic than him and he also only 22 years old. Daniel Jones played his college ball at Duke University.

He will have some solid weapons to throw the ball to like Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns and it didn’t please a lot of New York Giants fans at first, but there has been less drama ever since.

I don’t think Jones will be the Week 1 starter, but I could see him starting the season by Week 8 or Week 9. The New York Giants open up the season on the road against the Dallas Cowboys on September 8th.

Why the Cowboys will have to overpay for Dak Prescott

With technology and social media at an all-time high, the world in sports has evolved. Why am I bringing this up? Well, anybody who goes on Twitter (myself included) seeing sports-related Tweets or posting sports-related Tweets about teams, players, etc. is posting it right there on emotion, most of the time having a “hot take” at that moment.

For those who are saying I’m a hypocrite for pointing this out, well, I have done my share in venting and taking hot takes on Twitter (I try not to, but human emotion does take over).

Why am I bringing this up? Rewind to 2016 when the Dallas Cowboys were the toast of the town, dominating with two young rookies of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. Elliott was a first round pick by the Boys in the draft, but Dak was drafted in the 4th round as a backup to Tony Romo. Well, we know the story: Romo gets injured and Prescott takes over. And wins game after game after game for the Boys.

The toast on Twitter? Dak Prescott. He did no wrong. He was considered a front-runner for both rookie of the year and MVP. He had a great background story, a sympathetic one, etc. Life was good for the young quarterback. People went “there is no earthly way Romo should return at quarterback given how Dak is playing” But then…things started to change.

Dak’s Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones came out and said he wasn’t sure if Dak should remain the quarterback if and when Romo returns from injury. Nearly a week later, Dallas’s torrid run at 11-1 ended in New York, losing to the Giants. Many on Twitter went after Jones, who made the comments during that week. Other people started to question Dak’s ability to lead the team into the post-season and wondered if Dak was the right man, especially that Romo was on the mend.

Dallas kept Prescott as the quarterback and had homefield throughout the playoffs. They lost to Green Bay at home in a classic battle though Prescott did nothing wrong (more of what Aaron Rodgers was doing was the reason why Dallas lost).

After the season, it was reported Elliott would be suspended due to violating the NFL personal conduct policy. While he appealed his case and played early on, Elliott struggled as did Prescott. When Elliott had to serve his suspension, Prescott and the Cowboys really struggled. They went 3-3 without him, but the three losses were embarrassments, and were ones who were fighting for the playoffs (Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chargers) and the wins were to teams who were pretty much done for with the season (Giants, Raiders, Redskins).

Dallas finished at 9-7, but many wondered if Dak is the right guy for the job.

The next season a healthy and suspension-free Elliott came back. Dak’s numbers however, didn’t show the improvement or growth like some had believed and many questioned his ability to be that guy getting the Cowboys back to the promised land for the first time in 25 years. However, the trade of Amari Cooper helped things for Prescott as he finally got that big time receiver he lacked since Dez Bryant left after 2016. His numbers were stout after the Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper and Dallas won the NFC East for the second time in 3 years. A win over Seattle in the first round, but the Boys fell to the eventual NFC Champion Rams. Many pointed to the fact that Dak did not make the necessary plays as Los Angeles stopped Elliott on the run and made him pass. Of course, the take is “Dak is not an answer at quarterback and doesn’t deserve any contract extension that he is asking for.”

Which, the extension value? $30 million per year.

Needless to say, the Cowboys are in a bind. Is Dak worth that much in the scheme of things for NFL quarterbacks? No. But we have to realize a key issue here: he is an adequate, if not good quarterback. And in the NFL, you DO NOT let a franchise quarterback go unless you know you have another franchise quarterback right behind. Teams who haven’t that franchise quarterback are the teams who often languish at the bottom (see the Cleveland Browns pre-Baker Mayfield, Detroit Lions pre-Matthew Stafford, Buffalo Bills). Sure, they may have a year or two with some backup quarterback who has a nice run, but they still don’t sniff a post-season berth or they remain near the bottom and will continue to be that way. Prescott is at anything a constant for Dallas. Yes, he isn’t going to put up those massive numbers like a Brady, Brees, or Rodgers. But he doesn’t need to. He has to make sure he plays smart (which overall he does), and makes those needed plays to win games (still has SOME work there, but overall, he’s not the worst at it).

Again, I don’t think Dak is worth $30 million, but to Dallas, they may have to pay him that regardless. Not having a franchise quarterback really destabilizes a franchise. And in Big D where the owner is desperately wanting to return to the glory years of the early/mid 90’s, it is not great to have massive question marks at the one position you don’t need to have the question mark.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Top 10 Current NFL Quarterbacks-Obstructed Edition

Everybody ranks NFL quarterbacks differently. I am no different. Now, people can rank them through their God-given ability, statistics, ability to win, leadership, etc. It is all in the eyes of the beholder. Last year was an interesting year for quarterbacks. We saw quarterbacks rise up from the ashes, quarterbacks take a step back, quarterbacks get injured, quarterbacks start to possibly decline via age, quarterbacks that can’t be trusted as quality leaders, etc. So I will look at it from my perspective (which is likely flawed, but to each his own).

I factor in as much as possible with the quarterbacks. Yes, I look at numbers, ability, skill, ability to win, leadership, poise, high-pressure situations, and so forth. So when I was thinking about this for the last few days after seeing a fellow blogger write their own ranks, it made me think heavy about it. So let’s take a look at who I think is in the top ten at what spot?

#1. RUSSELL WILSON, SEAHAWKS: Surprised to see him as my top guy? The most surprised person on here is me actually. While Wilson didn’t throw for 4,000 yards in 2018, he threw for a career-high 35 TD’s and only 7 INT’s. His ability to scramble around and still be able to keep his head down the field to throw the ball is immense. For now, he is the best mobile quarterback in NFL history as he has the ability to make key passes and remain poised despite the numerous hits he takes. He really helped guide a relatively rebuilding Seahawks squad into the playoffs and has done everything necessary to be an elite quarterback.

#2. PATRICK MAHOMES, CHIEFS: Save for maybe Kurt Warner in 1999, no quarterback burst onto the scene like Pat Mahomes did. I also was proven wrong as I thought he was more of a systematic quarterback under the Kliff Kingsbury Texas Tech Air Raid scheme. But his mobility sets him apart from others. He is a passing quarterback but he can run when he needs to and run for big yards. He is very poised, cool, and collected, which is big for a youngster like Mahomes. He also seems to have the respect and following of all the teammates in the locker room. If there is ONE thing he needs to do, it is win those big games (notably against New England, but he isn’t the only one), but that will come in due time.

#3. TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS: Brady has cemented himself as the greatest of all time. My apologies to those who think otherwise. Did his overall play dropped from previous years? Yeah, a little bit and his play in the Super Bowl LIII was not that of legend (0 TD’s, 2 turnovers). That said, if you need a comeback, or a key play needed, or making guys better around him, he is still the guy you know you can rely on. And it was shown in the AFC Championship vs. Kansas City. Now, moving forward, is Father Time finally catching up? Brady looked very human at times in 2018, more human than in prior years.

Jan 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman (not pictured) against the Houston Texans in the second quarter in a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

#4. ANDREW LUCK, COLTS: No quarterback rebounded like Andrew Luck did in 2018 after missing the entire 2017 season and possibly his career being over due to the shoulder surgery. His numbers paralleled those of 2014, where many considered him to be one of the NFL’s elite. He gave the Colts a major jolt and with a more rounded team have become a Super Bowl contender. Adding on, while TY Hilton did fine in 2017, he was at the forefront of being one of the best receivers in the game in 2018. You can thank Luck for that. Luck is cool, calm, and poised when he is out there and players want to play with him. My only question and maybe it is unfair is did the shoulder come into play in the Playoff game against Kansas City? He looked like the total opposite of what he was in the season. If it is more of an endurance thing, he should be ready in 2019.

#5. DREW BREES, SAINTS: This may be very debatable given that Brees slipped down the stretch including the playoffs. He was really an MVP frontrunner midway through the 2018 season and then it really inexplicably fell apart on the Saints hero. He sputtered somewhat and failed to eclipse the 4,000 passing yards mark since joining New Orleans (to be fair, he sat out the final week given the Saints clinched homefield throughout the playoffs and would have thrown for a few passing yards to get it). And perhaps there would be no “no-call” in the NFC Championship had Brees not thrown a duck on a slant pattern which would have given a touchdown for New Orleans. But to each their own. However, Brees is the unquestioned leader of the Saints and is that one quarterback that you think you have rattled, but he will still keep punching. Of course, the question is on Brees, much like Brady, has Father Time arrived on him?

#6. AARON RODGERS, PACKERS: Nobody won’t or will ever deny Aaron Rodgers overall physical ability. He sees things on the field nobody else often sees. His mix of scrambling and passing have made him a deadly weapon for Green Bay over the years. So why is he taking a dip in the rankings? Perhaps it is what is between his ears as in leadership. While many Packer teammates past and present have come to Rodgers aid on his leadership abilities, the phrase “when there’s smoke, there’s fire” come to mind. People will also agree that Rodgers plays with that famed “chip on his shoulder” moniker since he nearly wasn’t drafted in the first round in 2005, which is fine. But for him it could also very well be a problem if he is making grudges instead. And I do think he’s not a happy person because of it. In his early years in Green Bay you saw a guy who loved to play and it showed. He was like Favre (who he held a grudge for as well), laughing, cutting up, etc and he was winning Super Bowls and playing like an MVP. Now he just looks irritated at points and he can at times try too hard to show everyone why he is the best. He needs to go back and do what he loves and R.E.L.A.X.

#7. MATT RYAN, FALCONS: I had actually flip-flopped Rodgers and Ryan a few times doing this. Had the Falcons finished the drill in the Super Bowl two years ago, Ryan is probably considered elite all the way. However, people still doubt he can win the big one, even in Atlanta. Ryan’s numbers in 2018 paralleled to those in his MVP year in 2016. However, the Falcons went 7-9 and were out of any playoff race by November. But again, it is “can you win?” despite the Falcons woes on defense. The one thing that I think makes Ryan “overlooked” is his Matty Ice name hasn’t been what it was when he first started out. If the Falcons were down in the 4th, he’d come back and you knew the game was his for the taking. Now it isn’t as evident.

#8. PHILIP RIVERS, CHARGERS: Speaking of looking big winning, Rivers’s numbers in 2018 is on par with every other year of his career. However given how we do factor in the winning percentage, Rivers was considered an MVP candidate in 2018. He won a road game in the playoffs against Baltimore which helps his cause, but like throughout his career, Rivers is that quarterback if you frustrate often, he goes into meltdowns and can be a liability to his team. Aside from a few spots however, Rivers was actually pretty poised in 2018.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 30: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans runs past Telvin Smith #50 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at NRG Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

#9. DESHAUN WATSON, TEXANS: So far, Watson is the NFL’s Timex Watch: he’s taking a licking. But he played all 16 games after his ACL injury in 2017 and helped Houston win the division. Watson is also a dual threat QB where he can pass or run in key situations. He threw for 4,000 yards in 2018 which is an impressive feat. However, he can still be rattled with the excessive amount of sacks and his under 60% completion percentage can show is that he can be slightly indecisive at times. But it is understandable as he is still young. He may need to be more of a pocket passer if he is to survive the NFL for a long time.

#10. BEN ROETHLISBERGER, STEELERS: Roethlisberger puts up big numbers on a yearly basis. We’ve known that for a while. Last year he threw for 5,000 yards and 34 TD. And he can get his team to wins. However, what has been dooming him has been his attitude and leadership issues. In the past he has wavered a few times about hanging it up. Whether or not he is an effective leader and unable to handle the situation with Antonio Brown, it really looms bad on his character. Moving forward, Roethlisberger, like Rodgers and a few others, is getting up in age. While he has been healthy throughout his career, a rough season in some manner may have Big Ben go “I’m tired of this, I will retire after the season.”

That is it for my top ten. Of course it will always be a debate, but remember, to each their own.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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NFL Three Round Mock Draft

With the NFL Draft set to take place in two weeks from Thursday in Nashville Tennessee, teams around the NFL are going over final evaluations before the draft begins. Thursday will be the first-round, Friday will be the second and third round, and Saturday will be the fourth thru seventh rounds.

I don’t have all the time in the world to do a seven-round mock draft. I have time to do a three-round mock draft and I want to see how close I could possibly get.

Round 1: 1. Arizona Cardinals- Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

2. San Francisco 49ers- Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

3. New York Jets- Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky

4. Oakland Raiders- Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Devin White. LB, LSU

6. New York Giants- Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

8. Detroit Lions- T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

9. Buffalo Bills- Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

10. Denver Broncos- Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

11. Cincinnati Bengals- Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State

12. Green Bay Packers- Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

13. Miami Dolphins- Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

14. Atlanta Falcons- Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

15. Washington Redskins- D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

16. Carolina Panthers- Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

17. New York Giants- Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

18. Minnesota Vikings- Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama

19. Tennessee Titans- Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

20. Pittsburgh Steelers- DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

21. Seattle Seahawks- Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

22. Baltimore Ravens- A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

23. Houston Texans- Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears)– Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

25. Philadelphia Eagles- Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

26. Indianapolis Colts- Clelin Ferrell, DL, Clemson

27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys)- Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson

28. Los Angeles Chargers- Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson

29. Kansas City Chiefs- Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints)- Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

31. Los Angeles Rams- Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

32. New England Patriots- N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

Round 2: 33. Arizona Cardinals- Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State

34. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets)- Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

35. Oakland Raiders- Garrett Bradbury, OL, N.C. State

36. San Francisco 49ers- Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

37. New York Giants- Erik McCoy, OL, Texas A & M

38. Jacksonville Jaguars- Irv Smith, TE, Alabama

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson

40. Buffalo Bills- Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

41. Denver Broncos- Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma

42. Cincinnati Bengals- Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

43. Detroit Lions- Jaylon Ferguson, Edge, Louisiana Tech

44. Green Bay Packers- Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State

45. Atlanta Falcons- Jerry Tillery, DT, Norte Dame

46. Washington Redskins- Ryan Finley, QB, North Carolina State

47. Carolina Panthers- Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

48. Miami Dolphins- L.J. Collier, DE, TCU

49. Cleveland Browns- David Long, LB, West Virginia

50. Minnesota Vikings- Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

51. Tennessee Titans- D’Andre Walker, Edge, Georgia

52. Pittsburgh Steelers- Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri

53. Philadelphia Eagles (from Baltimore Ravens)- Cameron Smith, LB, USC

54. Houston Texans (from Seattle Seahawks)- Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State

55. Houston Texans- David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State

56. New England Patriots (from Chicago Bears)- Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

57. Philadelphia Eagles- Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington

58. Dallas Cowboys- Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

59. Indianapolis Colts- Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia

60. Los Angeles Chargers- Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College

61. Kansas City Chiefs- Zach Allen, DL, Boston College

62. New Orleans Saints- Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State

63. Kansas City Chiefs (from Los Angeles Rams)- Jahlani Tavai, LB, Hawaii

64. New England Patriots- Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

Round 3: 65. Arizona Cardinals- Connor McGovern, OL, Penn State

66. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Oakland Raiders)- Te’Von Coney, LB, Norte Dame

67. San Francisco 49ers- J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford

68. New York Jets- Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State

69. Jacksonville Jaguars- Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

70. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

71. New York Giants- forfeited due to supplemental draft.

72. Denver Broncos- Christian Miller, Edge, Alabama

73. Cincinnati Bengals- Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida

74. New England Patriots (Detroit Lions)- Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State

75. Buffalo Bills- Jullian Love, CB, Norte Dame

76. Green Bay Packers- Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss

77. Washington Redskins- Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor

78. Carolina Panthers- Chase Winovich, Edge, Michigan

79. Miami Dolphins- T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

80. Atlanta Falcons- Trysten Hill, DT, Central Florida

81. Cleveland Browns- Max Scharping, T, Northern Illinois

82. Minnesota Vikings- Tytus Howard, T, Alabama

83. Tennessee Titans- Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia

84. Pittsburgh Steelers- Oshane Ximines, Edge, Old Dominion

85. Seattle Seahawks- Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa

86. Baltimore Ravens- Nate Davis, OL, Charlotte

87. Houston Texans- Darnell Savage, S, Maryland

88. Chicago Bears- Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia

89. Detroit Lions (from Philadelphia Eagles)- Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

90. Indianapolis Colts- Michael Jordan, G, Ohio State

91. Dallas Cowboys- Renell Wren, DL, Arizona State

92. Los Angeles Chargers- Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

93. Kansas City Chiefs- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

94. New York Jets (from New Orleans Saints)- Miles Boykin, WR, Norte Dame

95. Los Angeles Rams- Michael Delter, G, Wisconsin

96. New York Giants (from New England Patriots)- Keesean Johnson, WR, Fresno State

97. Washington Redskins (Compensatory pick)- Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas

98. New England Patriots (Compensatory pick)- Joe Jackson, DE, Miami

99. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams, Compensatory pick)- Amani Hooker, S, Iowa

100. Los Angeles Rams (Compensatory pick)- Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford

101. Carolina Panthers (Compensatory pick)- Shareef Miller, Edge, Penn State

102. New England Patriots (Compensatory pick)- Joejuan Williams, CB, Kentucky

103. Baltimore Ravens (Compensatory pick)- Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota

 

Quarterbacks Who Could Be Under Fire In 2019

Most of the times we hear coaches being on the hot seat. Or ones who could be under fire. With the NFL Draft approaching we hear a lot about where quarterbacks could end up going. The teams who desperately need a quarterback will obviously draft one and other teams with a franchise QB (or allegedly) will surprise a few if they take a quarterback early. So today, I will look at quarterbacks who could be in trouble of keeping their spots on the team after the season and in the future. Some may surprise you. And yes, I’m not a salary cap person so obviously some financial things have to be worked with a few others.

But let’s begin.

Dalton has been heavily scrutinized for Cincinnati’s failed attempts in January

ANDY DALTON (BENGALS): Many people point this as an obvious one. Well, there’s probably truth to it especially now with a new coach in Cincinnati (finally). Dalton has been maligned in part because he hasn’t been able to win games in the playoffs for the Bengals but isn’t one of the “gun-slinging” style quarterbacks despite having AJ Green as a top receiver. With all of it said, Dalton hasn’t been too horrible throughout his career, but just nothing overly strong to really think of him as a franchise quarterback anymore. With Zac Taylor at the helm, it isn’t out of the realm to see Cincinnati draft a quarterback THIS year early on and make the move to give Dalton a final hurrah in Cincy.

Dak will need a lot of good games to keep people off his back

DAK PRESCOTT (COWBOYS): Now it depends if Dak ends up having a contract extension in his pocket by Week 1. If Dallas extends Dak in the off-season, then he isn’t on here. If they don’t, this will be very interesting. Prescott looked far better after the Amari Cooper trade happened as he finally got a legit receiver to throw at. However, he still has those flashes of inconsistency and it seems like he is a reflection of his coach Jason Garrett. What I mean by that is, if Dallas wins, Prescott gets credit. If Dallas loses, Prescott is the reason why. But keep an eye for that contract extension.

It may be Flacco’s only season in Denver

JOE FLACCO (BRONCOS): Well, duh. He really is something to hold over assuming the Broncos draft a quarterback in the first round this year. The Case Keenum experiment backfired and Denver brought in a guy who has generated some playoff success. However, his final years in Baltimore were maligned as well. It’s probably not out of the realm that Denver will be trying to find another QB after this season is over.

Stafford doesn’t seem to be a favorite in the Lions new regime.

MATTHEW STAFFORD (LIONS): I don’t want to put this one here. I don’t even think he NEEDS to be on this list. We have to think back to the pre-Stafford Lions years especially the ones from 2001-2008 where Lions fans had to deal with the likes of Ty Detmer, Stoney Case, Mike McMahon, and Dan Orlovsky to name a few and remember why the Lions were just hideously bad. Stafford arrives and solves the quarterback issue and the Lions are at least a respectable team on the field now with a few playoff appearances. But Detroit has been rumbling about trading Stafford since Bob Quinn took over. Do the Lions really need to take a chance hoping another QB will guide them in the future? It failed when they had the idea of drafting Joey Harrington. People soured on Stafford last year as the numbers dropped all around. But people also failed to realize how horrible and depleted the Lions offensive line was (and has been for the majority of his career-40 or more sacks four of the last five seasons) and somehow he got up and played all 16 games for the last 8 seasons. But then again, this is the Lions. So in other words, if Stafford has another season resembling 2018, he’s gone for good.

Age and health may slow down Rodgers to the point of Green Bay having to make a touch decision in 2020.

AARON RODGERS (PACKERS): Wait, what?! This guy? In trouble? It’s very possible. He’s 35 and will be 36 by the time December arrives. After last year, his leadership was brought into question on a few occasions, thus many thinking he was probably prompted to play in a meaningless Week 17 game against Detroit where he got injured to show “leadership.” People have really pointed the blame at Mike McCarthy for the Packers fall from grace, but others also think that Rodgers has to shoulder some of it as well. So instead of the last few years of being debated alongside Tom Brady as the GOAT, Rodgers has now lost some of his luster and some wonder if his attitude and leadership is going to bring him down a notch. And from what I’ve seen, he hasn’t been too excited for the new head coach Matt LaFleur. Also factor in, Rodgers has been dealing with injuries the last two seasons and while you can go “oh well, he may not be injured this year” a guy at his age, once you start getting injuries, they don’t stop. So while I don’t think this will be Rodgers last year in Green Bay by any means, I do think if he struggles or can’t be relied on health-wise, the Packers could look at drafting a quarterback in the 2020 draft.

Goff really struggled down the stretch for the Rams this year.

JARED GOFF (RAMS): Really? Him too? A few things to note: while Goff had a monster start in 2018 and the first 12 games were stout (3,700 yards, 27 TD 7 INT, completion rating of 67%, and QBR of 109), down the stretch was a mess for Goff (QBR 76, comp% of 60, 5 TD, 5 INT, 900 passing yards). The playoffs weren’t earth-shaking either (55%, 700 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT). Now, it’s not easy to replace a franchise QB at all. But it seems like Goff fell backwards despite having a great head coach in Sean McVay. One argument and it may have something is that when Todd Gurley was getting dinged up, teams focused more on Goff and trying to prevent him from beating them. But if Goff can’t lead a team without Gurley (and godsend signing CJ Anderson signed with Detroit), there has to be some flags at some point for the Rams about Goff. Goff is coming up on an extension, but if he struggles, the Rams may entertain the idea of moving on.

Minnesota fans didn’t like the fact Cousins failed to get the Vikes into the playoffs

KIRK COUSINS (VIKINGS): Seemed like Cousins was always on the hot seat in Washington and anytime he was, he played well enough to stay off of it as much as possible. You think going to Minnesota would change that. And, nope. Cousins struggled at times and the Vikings fell back in 2018 and the same thing that has plagued him all his NFL career is coming back of being unable to lead a team to the playoffs. For Cousins, it won’t be about numbers, but about making the playoffs.

Carr may be running out of Oakland soon.

DEREK CARR (RAIDERS): Duh. And given Oakland added Antonio Brown, he doesn’t have an excuse. We do forget Carr was an MVP candidate in 2016 until he broke his leg so one wonders if he hasn’t fully recovered from that physically or mentally. However, Jon Gruden has not been fully supportive of Carr, saying he needs to play better. If he doesn’t, Gruden will probably try to bring in a veteran QB to replace him.

Wentz issues may be staying healthy and with Foles gone, that’s a big key for him in 2019

CARSON WENTZ (EAGLES): Similar to Carr, Wentz had an MVP season in 2017 before falling to injury. We know the story of Nick Foles winning the Super Bowl for the Eagles. But Foles is gone and if Philadelphia wants to return to the Super Bowl, Wentz needs to be at the top of his game and stay healthy. If he can’t do either, Eagles fans will question if he is really the guy.

Winston’s behavior on and off the field has been concerning in Tampa Bay

JAMEIS WINSTON (BUCCANEERS): Has Winston regressed as an NFL quarterback? Controversy surrounded the former Heisman winner at Florida State for acting like a petulant child on numerous instances. He gets to Tampa Bay and has two strong years and people went “well, maybe he just needed some growing up” before back-tracking in 2017 and 2018 to the point of being benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. And the off-field troubles continued. Having issues with now former head coach Dirk Koetter and former teammate DeSean Jackson showed maybe he wasn’t the leader Tampa Bay thought they had. And I don’t see Bruce Arians being a guy to put up with Winston’s foolishness. If Winston doesn’t succeed, he will be trying to find a job somewhere.

Mariota’s health may be what keeps him from staying in Tennessee.

MARCUS MARIOTA (TITANS): There are times Mariota has looked great. And there are times Mariota is on the sideline in street clothes. Tennessee is trying to give him a vast assortment of weapons but it is hard to utilize when you’re on the bench injured. Yes, you can’t blame injuries, but if it continues, the Titans have no other solution but to let him go. And they traded for Ryan Tannehill in case Mariota is injured and/or he isn’t considered the guy.

I’m not projecting all of the quarterbacks on this list will lose their job. In fact, I’m not saying any will. But they will be on the hot seat if they don’t perform well or not be on the field. In this case, I think the one most likely to be out would be Flacco, than Winston.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Jordan Howard Traded to the Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have acquired running back Jordan Howard from the Chicago Bears for a 2020 sixth-round draft pick. That pick could become a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Philadelphia needed a three down running back in the worst way. It was a surprise that Chicago traded away Jordan Howard for basically nothing. The Eagles now have their number one running back for next season. With this move, it most likely means they are not bringing back running back Jay Ajayi.

Howard rushed for 935 yards on 250 carries and nine touchdowns last season with the Bears. He also caught 20 passes for 145 yards receiving.

Jordan Howard was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He is only 24 years old. Howard could exceed very well in this offense. He will not be the only running back used on this team. Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams will also be used.

Those running backs will be really good as second and third running backs, but those players are not number one running backs. The Eagles really missed that last season when Jay Ajayi went down with injury.

 

Rob Gronkowski Announces Retirement

It has been almost two months that the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII 13-3. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has won three Super Bowls in his tenure with New England. Well, he has decided to finally retire and Gronkowski made his announcement on Sunday afternoon on Instagram.

He is retiring at only 29 years old. Rob Gronkowski has dealt with so many injuries throughout his NFL career. He is no question the greatest tight end to ever play in the NFL. Gronkowski was a nightmare catching passes down the seam and lining up on the outside on smaller cornerbacks, but he was also a tank in the blocking game.

In his career, Rob Gronkowski caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards receiving and 79 touchdowns.

In his postseason career, he caught 81 passes for 1,163 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.

Gronkowski made the Pro Bowl five times and he was a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of the University of Arizona.

The New England Patriots will have 12 draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft and they will probably use one in the earlier rounds to draft a replacement tight end for Rob Gronkowski. In reality though, there may never be a tight end like him in the NFL ever again.

Fantasy Opportunity Breakdown: Cleveland Browns

2019 Coaching Staff

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team this optimistic after firing its coach mid-season the year prior and then ditching its interim coach. Funny what a sudden stockpile of elite players will do for the soul. It’s quite poetic how the team’s prospects have mirrored the meteoric rise of Freddie Kitchens, who somehow managed to go from starting last year as the running backs coach to starting this year as the head coach. While Kitchens does plan to retain the scheme he inherited from Todd Haley as well as play-calling duties, he did bring in former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken to become his OC. Former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks will come in as defensive coordinator.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns

What to Expect

As mentioned above, Kitchens plans to retain Todd Haley’s offensive scheme and continue calling plays. This means the Browns’ 2019 offense should look pretty similar to the 2018 version in structure. However, it’s hard to ignore the hiring of Todd Monken. Monken’s background is in the air raid offense, something he ran to great effect in Tampa Bay last year as the Bucs set franchise records left and right. These two minds creating a gameplan every week is scary enough for opponents, but what will really give defensive coordinators nightmares is the sudden influx of talent GM John Dorsey has brought in. Questionable off-field actions aside, pairing Kareem Hunt with Nick Chubb has to be the most lethal backfield duo in the NFL. Yet, you can’t stack the box to stop them unless you want Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, Jr., and David Njoku going to town on your secondary. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Browns could field the top offense in the NFL next year.

In fact, the only thing that might slow down Cleveland’s offense is Cleveland’s defense. Steve Wilks’s resume is a little short on coordinating experience – he had one year as defensive coordinator in Carolina and one year as head coach in Arizona, with moderate success at both on the defensive side of the ball – but if he’s worth his salt at all he’ll be able to make something of the solid defensive pieces the Browns have accumulated. The defensive line in particular almost rivals the Rams as the most talented in football. While the defense as a whole isn’t quite at the same level as the offense, there’s enough to work with that a good gameplan from Wilks could quickly turn games into one-sided affairs. This probably won’t happen every game, but it might be enough to slow down an otherwise torrid pace from the offense.

The Data

There’s no reason to sugar-coat this; the Browns are going to pass early and pass often. Under Kitchens last year, the Browns called a 60/40 pass/run split. Tampa Bay under Todd Monken was even more extreme at a 63/37 split. To be fair, Tampa had no defense and no running game worth mentioning, but nevertheless these are two very pass-happy coaches running the show in Cleveland. Despite this, I don’t expect the Browns to pass at a higher rate than last year. It appears to be the dawn of a new age in Cleveland, and if the Browns are leading more often than not then there’s little reason to suspect they won’t lean on the running game to chew up the clock. If the offense is more pass-happy but spends more time ahead, I would expect a very similar 60/40 split to last year.

David-Njoku

The positional target splits get more interesting. The Buccaneer wide receivers under Monken led the league in positional target share last year at about 67% while the Browns were just above average at about 58%. Reconciling this discrepancy will shape the Browns’ offense more than anything else this year. On the one hand, Monken’s influence will surely bump up the wide receiver target share from last year, and a wideout corps featuring OBJ and Jarvis Landry will demand targets. On the other, Tampa’s stable of running backs was pitiful and their starting tight end was injured halfway through the year, while the Browns boasted a surprisingly deep running back rotation and a rising star tight end in David Njoku. Cleveland’s wide receivers should see their target share creep up, but the sheer volume of talent across the offense should temper that growth.

Fantasy Impact

Cleveland’s offense figures to be explosive this coming year. It should look pretty similar to the offense they fielded last year, except relying a bit more on wide receivers. Any way you slice it though, you’ll want a piece of this offense.

Projected Team Rush Attempts: 415 Attempts
Projected Passing: 385 Completions on 595 Attempts, 30 sacks allowed
Projected WR Catches: 215 Receptions on 355 Targets
Projected RB Catches: 85 Receptions on 115 Targets
Projected TE Catches: 85 Receptions on 125 Targets

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Fantasy Opportunity Breakdown: Cincinnati Bengals

2019 Coaching Staff

After hanging onto the just-better-than-mediocre Marvin Lewis for what seemed like an eternity, the Bengals are finally cleaning house. The fact that it happened was expected (I think many Bengals fans would say overdue). The direction they went was not. While it is true that the current NFL coaching trend focuses on creative young minds who may not have so much experience, Cincinnati’s hire of Rams QB coach Zac Taylor took that philosophy to the extreme; Taylor has all of five games worth of pro-level offensive coordinator experience. For that matter, his coordinators aren’t exactly household names either; defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo served as the interim defensive coordinator on the same 2015 Dolphins squad that Taylor was offensive coordinator for, and Brian Callahan has never served as a coordinator at the pro level…or any level for that matter.

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What to Expect

With so little pro-level experience to draw from with the new coaching staff, it’s hard to say what we should expect from the Bengals. It’s almost a certainty that Taylor and Callahan will put their own spin on their scheme, but given that Taylor will hold play-calling duties it seems likely that the offense will be based on Sean McVay’s playbook. Don’t hold your breath for the same level of offense though; the Bengals have noticeable downgrades at almost every position on the offense, with the notable exception of A. J. Green.

While the offense may not be as effective as the Rams, they will likely be a higher volume offense. Anarumo will have his work cut out for him with a defense that just ranked dead last in the NFL in yards allowed and third worst in points allowed. He doesn’t have much talent to work with (outside of the defensive line) in his effort to improve it either. With all signs pointing to the defense struggling again, Taylor will likely run a bit more pass-heavy offense than his mentor McVay.

The Data

Assuming Taylor wants to emulate the Rams’ offense, it makes sense to take a look at what the Rams have been doing under McVay. In McVay’s first year as the Rams’ head coach, he called around a 55/45 pass/run split. This balance skewed a bit more pass-heavy in year two (up to a 57/43 split), but then that’s the difference between playing a 3rd place schedule and playing a 1st place schedule. The Bengals likely won’t have much defense to speak of – which will skew their play-calling a little more pass-heavy – but they will be playing a 4th place schedule. Also, while they might not have quite the same level of talent and depth as the Rams, they do have some blue chip pieces of their own; the 1-2 punch of Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard is not much of a downgrade from Gurley, and while Cincinnati can’t completely replicate the Kupp-Woods-Cooks/Watkins combo, they could do worse than A. J. Green and Tyler Boyd. It’s probably safe to say that the Bengals will only be a little more pass-happy than McVay’s year-one Rams, so we’re expecting around a 56/44 split.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals

The place where the depth concerns come in is determining positional target shares. The Rams have targeted their wide receivers a little more than 60% of the time under McVay. This is in no small part because the Rams’ base offense is 11 personnel with three wide receivers, but part of the reason they¬†can play 11 personnel so frequently is that they’ve had three solid wideouts at all times. The Bengals have Green, Boyd…and that’s about it. The wide receiver target share should still go up a bit if Cincinnati does strive to emulate the Rams, but Cincinnati is more likely to give a few exotic looks given their strength at running back.

Fantasy Impact

There’s a lot of guesswork in trying to determine what the offense will look like under people with minimal experience designing offenses, but based on what we do know it will be based on Sean McVay’s Rams scheme. Implementing that offense could be a bit tricky given the difference in depth, not to mention the lack of defensive talent, so expect something akin to McVay’s scheme but leaning a little more pass-heavy.

Projected Team Rush Attempts: 440 Attempts
Projected Passing: 340 Completions on 525 Attempts, 35 sacks allowed
Projected WR Catches: 190 Receptions on 315 Targets
Projected RB Catches: 90 Receptions on 120 Targets
Projected TE Catches: 60 Receptions on 90 Targets

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