August 21, 2017

All Out Blitz: NFL News & Notes

Arizona Cardinals:  Arizona has to be the surprise team so far this NFL season as I don’t even think those fine folks living in the dessert would’ve have thought the Cards would be undefeated at this point in the season…..RB Beanie Wells was put on IR but could be recalled later in the season thanks to that new rule that allows teams to recall one player from IR during the season…..QB John Skelton is back practicing with the team, but won’t regain his starting job, not unless Kevin Kolb falters sometime in the future.

Atlanta Falcons:  Now the Falcons are a 4-0 team that shouldn’t surprise anyone.  We all knew the Falcons were good, how good remains to be seen, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter what they do in the regular season, only how they perform during the playoffs…..RB Michael Turner showed last week that the reports of his demise may have been greatly exaggerated as he had a huge game both running and receiving last week.  If he can make teams respect the running game, than Atlanta is about as close to unstoppable on offense as a team can be.

Baltimore Ravens:  The Ravens didn’t look all that impressive in beating the Browns last week, but not every game is going to look great, only matters that at the end, they won the game…..QB Joe Flacco certainly looks like an improved QB, WR Torrey Smith gives him the deep threat he needs to loosen defenses up, which opens up the underneath routes for Anquan Boldin, not to mention what it does for RB Ray Rice and the running game…..If LB Terrell Suggs is able to come back this season from his torn Achilles and be the player he always was, than look out as this team is going to be tough to beat.

Buffalo Bills:  So much for the Bills doing a massive upgrade on their defense during the off-season.   That’s twice this season that they have been shredded by teams in their own division, not a good sign…..What is a good sign was RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson returning in Week 4, the Bills may be forced to score quite a few points on offense to keep up with opposing teams if their defense doesn’t figure things out.

Carolina Panthers:  Sooner or later the Panthers were going to eat it by having QB Cam Newton continue to run the ball.  Newton ran the ball late in the fourth quarter and fumbled, had he held onto the ball he would’ve had a first down and the Panthers would’ve won the game, instead, the ball went back to Atlanta and Carolina ended up on the wrong end of a game winning field goal.  Isn’t this why you signed RB Mike Tolbert, for short yardage situations?

Chicago Bears:  The Bears put a beat down on the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.  For one game at least the coaching staff figured out how to protect QB Jay Cutler as Dallas didn’t get much pressure on the oft-maligned QB, thus allowing Cutler to carve up their secondary…..The return of RB Matt Forte was also a boost for the offense.  Forte is not 100% healthy yet from the ankle injury but still looked pretty good in big D.

Cincinnati Bengals:  Lions WR Calvin Johnson may be in a class by himself when it comes to ranking wideouts, but A.J. Green is gaining ground pretty quickly and with Armon Binns and Andrew Hawkins giving defenses something to worry about opposite Green, the sky may be the limit for the type of numbers he may put up this season…..Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden (Jon’s brother), will almost certainly be a head coach next season, he’s going to be an extremely hot assistant.

Cleveland Browns:  WR Josh Cribbs who was absolutely crushed by a hit in the Baltimore game last week, practiced Wednesday and should be good to play Sunday…..K Phil Dawson deserves some accolades as he kicked field goals of 51, 52, and 50 yards in the loss to the Ravens, thus becoming the first kicker to hit three FGs of at least 50 yards in length.

Dallas Cowboys:  Once again Dallas laid an egg in their loss to the Bears on Monday night.  Quarterback Tony Romo threw five interceptions and have been taking his fair share of the blame.  Some even coming out and saying he’s just not a good QB and the like.  Listen, is Romo a great QB, no, but he’s in the top 10 ten.  If the Cowboys were to release Romo after the year, there would be teams lining up around the block to sign him.  Dallas has plenty of problems, mental awareness, coaching, offensive line, safeties, pass rush, and special teams just to name a few.  In the end, this is an average football team, nothing more, nothing less.

Denver Broncos:  Rookie RB Ronnie Hillman is not a threat to take Willis McGahee’s starting job, but he did show the reason why Denver has high hopes for him, especially as a receiver out of the backfield, he could be quite a weapon for QB Peyton Manning on third downs…..Speaking of Manning, he renews his rivalry with the Patriots this week.  Anyone else surprised that this game wasn’t on Sunday or Monday night?

Detroit Lions:  What is wrong with this vaunted passing offense?  Fantasy owners have to be freaking out right now.  Stafford ‘s ADP (average draft position) was as the fourth QB overall, as high as a second round pick, but he’s certainly not rewarding his owners as of this moment.  The problem seems to be that defenses are doing all they can to take WR Calvin Johnson out of the game and as of now no other receiver has stepped up to force defenses to play it more straight up.  Titus Young has been a huge disappointment right now  Perhaps the bye week will give the Lions the time they need to figure things out.

Green Bay Packers:  By just about anyone’s count the Packers were screwed by the replacement officials in Seattle, but the regulars referees did them no favors last week either.  Quite a few calls were missed including an obvious fumble by the Saints Darren Sproles on a kick return.  Good thing they won the game…..Wide receiver Greg Jennings admits that he may need to shut it down for a little while to rest his injured groin, once again this will be a good time for James Jones to show what he can do.  Jones seems to have a personality disorder each game in that you never know if it will be the good Jones or the bad one that shows up to play.

Houston Texans:  Houston came out this week and said they wouldn’t mind if RB Arian Foster touched the ball 400+ times this season.  Wow, really.  Way to take care of your star player.  They won’t do this of course, even if they were crazy enough to consider it, they could have the division wrapped up by Week 12 and only be playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, plus Ben Tate is a pretty good RB in his own right and could certainly take some of the load off of Foster.

Indianapolis Colts:  Our best wishes go out to coach Chuck Pagano after he was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this week.  Pagano is expected to be away from the team for at least six weeks.  Sort of puts everything into perspective now doesn’t it…..As for the team, DE Dwight Freeney is back practicing and should be good to go Sunday versus Green Bay…..Linebacker Pat Angerer who has yet to play this season due to a broken foot could also return this week but probably not in a full-time role yet.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  Anyone banking on WR Laurent Robinson this week might want to look in another direction.  Robinson seems unlikely to play as he is still dealing with concussion symptoms…..As for their other receiver, Justin Blackmon, well QB Blaine Gabbert finally threw a few passes his way last week, but one has to believe that Blackmon won’t reach his full potential until the Jags get a true number one QB, and I’m sold that Gabbert is it.

Kansas  City Chiefs:  You know things are going bad for QB Matt Cassel when rumors are that Brady Quinn might replace him.  Quinn is no one’s definition of a starter in waiting…..Running back Jamaal Charles is proving that there is nothing wrong with his surgically repaired knee as he is putting up huge rushing numbers, there does however seem to be something wrong with his hands as he keeps putting the ball on the ground…..The other RB, Peyton Hillis seems unlikely to play Sunday as he is still recovering from an ankle injury, that move hasn’t paid off so far for KC.

Miami Dolphins:  Rookie quarterback certainly looked good last week, throwing for over 400 yards against what is considered to be one of the better defenses in the NFL.  He made his share of mistakes, but perhaps the Dolphins have indeed found their QB of the future…..Running back Reggie Bush returned after missing most of the Jets game with a knee injury, he admits to still being a little sore, but otherwise cam through the game unscathed.

Minnesota Vikings:   Another surprise team.  Adrian Peterson certainly looks like the RB of old, amazing what he has done so far this season.  When healthy, he is the best RB in the NFL…..The return of WR Jerome Simpson from suspension should open things up for both WR Percy Harvin and the running game as safeties will have to respect the deep ball, should help out QB Christian Ponder also.

New England Patriots:  So much for the Patriots offense not running on all cylinders, I think they just scored another TD against the Bills defense…..Things aren’t all rosy however as TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez failed to practice Wednesday.  Hernandez shouldn’t’ surprise anyone, but Gronk should be a concern.  That hip injury just isn’t going away…..Raise your hand if you knew who RB Brandon Bolden was before the game last week.  Just another reason Stevan Ridley owners can’t trust coach Bill Belichick.

New Orleans Saints:  Can’t say that I’m surprised about the Saints struggling to start the season, but that doesn’t mean I saw 0-4 coming.  Lets you know how much they miss coach Sean Payton…..Wide receiver Lance Moore didn’t practice Wednesday as he is dealing with a hamstring injury.  Moore is usually a reliable receiver for the Saints, but had a case of the drops last week in Green Bay…..The Saints running game has been abysmal so far this season, you have to wonder if they will activate Chris Ivory this week to see what he can do.

New York Giants:  The Giants have put themselves into a tough spot in the early going this season.  Sure they are 2-2, but both losses have come within the division.  Come tiebreaker time, that could be a huge problem…..Another problem for the G-men is the health of WR Hakeem Nicks.  He missed yet another game Sunday due to a knee injury.  Coach Tom Coughlin has stated that Nicks is moving better this week, but one has to wonder if this will be a season long issue.

New York Jets:  Where to start with the Jets?  Wide receiver Santonio Holmes is gone for the season after suffering a foot injury during the game Sunday.  In back to back games now the Jets have lost probably the two players they can least afford to lose in Holmes and CB Darrelle Revis.  Couple this with QB Mark Sanchez obviously regressing and one has to wonder how long before the circus that is Tim Tebow takes over behind center.

Oakland Raiders:  Raiders have a bye this week and it’s pretty good timing as they need to figure out a way to get their running game, and more specifically Darren McFadden going.  Hard to believe how bottled up he has been to start the season…..The week off should also allow WR Darius Heyward-Bey to recover from neck and concussion issues.

Philadelphia Eagles:  Not sure how the Eagles are 3-1, they could easily be 0-4, it is definitely better to be lucky than good…..Somehow WR Jeremy Maclin was held to only one reception for seven yards against the Giants on Sunday, he’s definitely not healthy…..Fantasy owners in IDP leagues have to be a bit disappointed with the tackle totals of LB DeMeco Ryans, only 21 so far.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  The Steelers will get a huge boost to their defense this weekend as both S Troy Polamalu and LB James Harrison could return to the lineup…..Running back Rashard Mendenhall is also expected to return to action as he has recovered from knee surgery, perhaps the Steelers will get the more balanced attack they are after now…..Question now is who will be the main backup behind Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman?  Dwyer seems to be the better player but Redman may be more suited for the role.

San Diego Chargers:  Head coach Norv Turner and the Chargers were definitely trying to send a message to RB Ryan Matthews that the fumbling has go to stop by playing Jackie Battle over him in certain situations last week.  The team hasn’t lost faith in Matthews, but Battle may have earned more playing time than first thought with his play, including the carries at the goal line…..So far free agent addition WR Robert Meacham has been a huge bust but one has to think if he is going to break out of it, this week would be the week.

San Francisco 49ers:  How impressive was QB Colin Kaepernick last week versus the Jets?  He performed the wildcat to perfection, looking like a true threat to QB Alex Smith should he falter at all…..The 49ers weren’t kidding when they said they were going to monitor the snaps for WR Randy Moss, he’s barely playing and has been a non entity so far this season.  Have to wonder if he is a volcano waiting to erupt, and I don’t mean with his play on the field.

Seattle Seahawks:  The play of QB Russell Wilson has regressed to the point where the Matt Flynn watch is on.  Flynn is recovering from tendinitis in his elbow and could be ready to start as early as next week should Wilson struggle again Thursday versus St. Louis…..Without RB Marshawn Lynch this offense is going nowhere fast.

St. Louis Rams:  Running back Steven Jackson is still dealing with a groin injury and may not be at full strength for quite some time but should still play…..WR Danny Amendola is dealing with an ankle injury but is also expected to play…..The Rams are getting better but not fast enough to make a dent in the NFC West this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Fantasy owners had to be dismayed last week when RB LeGarrette Blount had a goal line carry for a TD last week.  Doug Martin looked to have a strangle hold on the job, but perhaps Blount has squeezed his way into more playing time…..Mike Williams is having a solid season at WR for Tampa, amazing what having Vincent Jackson on the other side can do for you.

Tennessee Titans:  Welcome back RB Chris Johnson.  The Titans may have lost yet another game last week, but Johnson did manage to show that he still can play after all…..Quarterback Jake Locker won’t be playing though as he got crushed, dislocating his non-throwing shoulder.  Matt Hasselbeck starts this week, not sure what happens next week, Locker will have to prove he can take a hit before getting back in a game…..Kenny Britt could return to action this week giving Hasselbeck a deep target to hit.

Washington Redskins:  Pierre Garcon looks to be fully recovered from his foot injury and should once again be the deep threat that QB Robert Griffin III needs…..RB Alfred Morris may finally end the Mike Shanahan curse at running back for fantasy owners, but the signing of Ryan Grant has to give fantasy owners some pause…..Don’t give up on TE Fred Davis yet, have a feeling the Skins are going to get him more involved in the offense as the season progresses.

 

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