Dysfunction in Washington

Jay Gruden said that Robert Griffin III would be the Redskins starter in 2015. Gruden and Griffin’s relationship last season was poor, as the team finished 4-12 in the regular season.

Earlier today, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden publicly said that Robert Griffin III would be the team’s starting quarterback going into the next season. While it seems like a no-brainer on paper, it actually comes as a bit of a surprise. Gruden has always been a big supporter of competition and earning titles. With that mindset, simply handing the role over to RG3 seems bizarre. Additionally, it is a known fact that Gruden and RG3 aren’t exactly best friends. The situation had escalated last season to the point where many believed that the two could not be on the same team next season, for the sake of anything being accomplished. Unless the two buried the hatchet overnight, this move seems peculiar.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; the Washington Redskins SHOULD be an offensive powerhouse, and SHOULD be competing for a playoff spot every season. I predicted that the team would finish 10-6 this past season, finishing second in the NFC East. However, I was proven wrong. I guess the team has too much dysfunction to be successful right now.

Put this all into perspective. Robert Griffin III, when healthy, is an efficient mobile quarterback who can manage the game and lead a team to victory. After all, we can’t overlook the fact that he took his team to the playoffs in his rookie year. Yes, it’s true that him being healthy isn’t the most common occurrence, but with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy on the roster, two quarterbacks who can play at a starting level, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Especially with a receiving corps of Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, and Jordan Reed, among others, there is no reason why the passing game isn’t more potent. Running the ball should be just as easy, if not easier, with the presence of Alfred Morris. Yes, a stronger line would be helpful, but Morris has shown that he is quick enough to get out of tough situations. Darrel Young, the fullback, also receives touches, and has been helpful at the goal line for this team. The defense might not be stellar, but the addition of a quality pass rusher and maybe another stand-out player in the secondary could put this team at that level.

The problem lies within the administration. Jay Gruden isn’t in sync with the quarterback, who is supposed to be the team’s leader. Owner Dan Snyder loves him though. This conflict of interest leads to a rift in the organization. This is a problem to begin with, but when the divide is over a position that may ultimately decide the future success of the team, it’s an issue. If this team wants any chance of success, the organization needs a new sense of unity, and make decisions that everyone in the club is on board with. If you ask me, Jay Gruden would NOT have handed the starting job to Griffin so easily if Snyder had nothing to do with it.

Life After Football

I’ve said many times before to many different people that February is my 12th favorite month of the year. My reasoning may not be the same as anyone else’s, such as a dislike for Valentine’s Day or the brutal winter winds. While those two factors definitely contribute, the key reasoning for that is football-related.

The Super Bowl has come and gone, marking and end to the NFL season. So…now what?

This lame-duck period of the NFL calendar is torture for any football fan. At most, you’ll get some draft speculation, but how much of it is actually reliable at this point is anybody’s guess. The combine is still a week away, and only then will teams and fans alike get a feel for what the draft is going to look like. Free agency doesn’t start until March, so any free agent signing info is merely rumors and speculation. Again, how much of it is actually reliable is anybody’s guess.

And, unless something monumental happens to come up, it leaves a whole lot of nothing for me to write about.

This is the worst time of the year for an NFL fan, with MAYBE the exception of the lull between the draft and the start of training camp, but even then there is still the occasional signing that makes news. Until then, however, all we can do is wait it out. Sigh.

Ladies and Gentleman, Your World Champion New England Patriots.

Malcolm Butler, cornerback for the New England Patriots, intercepts the ball just outside the end-zone to secure the New England Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl victory.

Unless you have been isolating yourself from any and all news media outlets since the past weekend, you know about the Super Bowl. You heard that the little kid from the Nationwide commercial died, you know that Heisenberg is now selling prescription drugs at a pharmacy as “sorta Greg”, and you have likely figured out which “Katy Perry dancing shark” you are, as well as which cultural reference Miss Perry looked like during each song.

Most importantly, you also know that the New England Patriots have won their 4th title in the past 15 years, and that it was at the expense of a poor play call from Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.

It started as a perfect fourth quarter drive. Russell Wilson had been lackluster, to say the least, for most of the game, but down four points, the Seattle Seahawks were moving the ball

Jermaine Kearse makes an amazing catch down the field just before falling to the Patriots, 28-24.

at will. What looked to be the icing on the cake was a phenomenal catch by Jermaine Kearse, bouncing the ball off of his legs into his hands to give the Seahawks a first and goal situation. It was a catch that would have gone down as possibly the best play in Super Bowl history.

The key words are would have.

Instead of going with the sensible option of having Marshawn Lynch, one of the biggest power-backs in the league, punch the ball in, Pete Carroll decided to take a risk. Russell Wilson goes for a slant pass over the middle to Ricardo Lockette. Enter Malcolm Butler, cornerback of the New England Patriots, who intercepts the ball, essentially winning the biggest game of the year for his team.

This, of course, is huge for Tom Brady. With this victory, he is 4-2 in Super Bowls, tying Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most rings. Not only that, but many are now labeling Brady as the best quarterback of all time. Sounds bold? I agree. I still consider Montana to be the best of the best. Still, I’ll call Brady a close second, He has the ring count to be put at this level now, but he also has a gift. He was overlooked, drafted in the sixth round, and only put

Tom Brady has his third Super Bowl MVP award and fourth Super Bowl win, solidifying his position as one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game.

in because of an injury to Drew Bledsoe. Since then, he has turned average-at-best receivers into all-stars. Seriously, name me a Brady receiver who has already succeeded or has the ability to succeed on any other team, besides Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, and Rob Gronkowski. It can’t be done. Welker? He was average in San Diego, and he’s crashing and burning in Denver. Edelman? He’s the same type of receiver as Welker. It’s Brady’s team.

It’s odd to think that in the beginning of the season, there was outcry that Brady is done. People were actually calling for rookie Jimmy Garoppolo to be the new starter. Now, it’s pretty obvious that Brady has at LEAST three more years of greatness left. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that his time is almost up, but it’s not quite finished yet. One of the greats still has work to do, and the Patriots reign of terror is far from over.

I’m Just Writing This So I Won’t Get Fined.

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch made his appearance at Media Day, giving the concise and consistent responses that he is known for.

Media Day in the NFL has not disappointed, merely because Marshawn Lynch has spoken. The NFL’s biggest media troll has been fined by the league for not speaking to the media, and has been threatened to be fined more if he did not speak today.

Well, he spoke. It wasn’t what the league – or the media – was hoping for, but he spoke.

In the past, his responses have ranged from “Yeah”, “Thanks for asking”, and “I’m thankful”. This season especially, he has built a reputation for himself as a journalist’s worst nightmare with his antics, and they continued today. He showed up before the hundreds of reporters in Arizona, but gave the same exact response, twenty-nine times in a row: “I’m just here so I won’t get fined”.

Many believe this to be the power back’s last season in Seattle, with the most popular destination rumor being with the Oakland Raiders. Lynch has established himself as an elite running back, and his behavior is only helping his hype.

Many have mixed reviews on Lynch’s behavior. I talked to two close friends about this after he spoke, and I got differing responses from each of them. One of them was amused by it, making as much of a joke about it as Lynch did. The other wasn’t so impressed. He claimed the running back was childish, and that he is not following through with his responsibility to address the media when needed. So many differing stances from friends and analysts and personnel everywhere

Despite the maturity issues off the field, Lynch remains one of the league’s top backs. One year remains on his current contract with Seattle, but he is expected to leave earlier.

causes many to wonder what to make of Marshawn Lynch.

It’s true that players must address the media when needed. It’s in nearly every contract, and it is susceptible to a fine. However, there’s nothing that talks about HOW they do, as long as they talk. In a very literal sense, Lynch is talking to the media, so at the basis, he is doing nothing wrong. Regardless, this behavior is still immature and classless. I will admit, I do get a laugh out of the ridiculous stunts that he pulls, but it is still something to look down upon. And thank God for it.

Along with being competitive, the NFL wants to make sure that anything that happens under their title is entertaining. As much as it may be annoying, nobody can deny that Marshawn Lynch is entertaining. He’s the exact story-line that the league is in love with. He’s one of the best at his position, has a big mouth, and has the occasional scuffle with fines in the league. It’s exactly the type of thing that the NFL has seen in Randy Moss and Terrell Owens and DeSean Jackson and James Harrison and players with that type of persona. There’s no denying that this type of player is a headache to deal with, but if it attracts fans, and if it brings in revenue, then the league will absolutely let it happen.

As much as many might despise Marshawn Lynch, he’s still such an important part of the NFL. There’s no denying his talent, and he has that personality that keeps the NFL’s popularity alive. For that reason, I’m thankful for Marshawn Lynch’s presence.

#DeflateGate

Patriots coach Bill Belichick claims that there was no tampering with the balls in the AFC Championship game, despite findings of the league’s investigation. New England has yet to be served with a punishment.

Right now, there is an abundance of things that I could write about in the NFL. Tonight is the Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl is coming up, Media Week is about to start, and Josh Gordon was served with a 1 year banishment today. Then, I realized I haven’t said anything about the DeflateGate controversy yet, which is kind of a big deal. So here we go.

Yes, the New England Patriots have once again been caught cheating. This time, it was discovered that 11 out of the 12 balls used in their 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts had been deflated below standard measurements. Why this was done, nobody is quite sure, but the likely story is that the team wanted an advantage, and catching the Colts off-guard on the feel of the ball would be a good way to do so. The NFL has not issued an official punishment yet, as they claim they are still determining what the consequences of these actions will be.

Meanwhile, the Patriots have tried to cover their tracks, stating they knew nothing of what they had done. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the main culprits, with Brady saying he had no knowledge of any tampering, and Belichick going the scientific route about what the standard measurements actually are. Frankly, most of the league sees through these petty excuses. It has already been proven that the balls were deflated, and that it was at the hands of New England; the remaining details, however, are still shaky.

The biggest question, however, is what the punishment for this team will be. Many say that it will be a fine, with possibly a lost first-round draft pick. This punishment, however, would seem like a mere slap on the wrist and would be much too lenient. The fact of the matter is that the Patriots have been caught cheating. Yes, it has happened in the past, and yes, Brad Johnson came out and said he deflated balls in the Super Bowl his team won. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that this is NOT the first time that New England has been caught trying to get an unfair advantage, as the SpyGate controversy had put the Patriots under fire just eight years ago. The league’s integrity should be questioned if New England is not given a punishment that fits the crime, which from the looks of things will likely be the case. A possible suggestion would be that the league could suspend Belichick and/or Brady next season, but the possibility of the NFL

While the DeflateGate controversy does bring about an important matter of ethics., many have blown it out of proportion. This picture was released in a humorous attempt to exaggerate the issue at hand.

wanting to do that is slim to none. I mean, it’s Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They created a new rule for these guys. They’re not going anywhere.

Among all of this, a question that arises is this: how much does this really matter? Is this being blown way out of proportion in the media? This NFL fan has mixed feelings on this. Yes, it’s a big deal, and yes it deserves attention. However, people who act as if it meant the difference between the Colts winning or not are out of their minds. Standard balls or not, the Colts did not look good last Sunday. That game was entirely run by New England. Would it have been closer if the balls were standard size? Nobody knows the answer to that. Maybe it would have been, maybe it wouldn’t have. Nobody really knows. If you ask me, the Colts still wouldn’t have won. So yes, it’s a big deal that the cheated, but this team still deserves to be in the Super Bowl. This is an example of how a big news story can get blown out of proportion, and make it seem much more monumental.

Will Chip and Mariota Happen?

The Eagles missed the playoffs this season, and head coach Chip Kelly is anything but pleased. His team played well – the offense finished the season ranked in the top five. The front seven on defense came out and surprised a lot of people. However, there are a few main weak links that remain in the system. The obvious one is the secondary, which many would assume is the main priority in the offseason.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has his eyes set on his former QB prodigy in the draft this year, as the Eagles come off a 10-6 season that kept them out of the postseason for the 3rd time in 4 years.

This season, however, Marcus Mariota, the Heisman-winning quarterback out of Oregon, Chip Kelly’s former school, is entering the draft. And Chip Kelly has recently made it clear that he wants him. I’ve thought about this possibility for a long time, and I’ve talked to countless people on the topic, and I’ve finally figured out my stance on this proposed move.

It goes without saying that the decision will mean giving up on quarterback Nick Foles. While I by no means believe that Foles is a reliable future for Philadelphia, I do not think that he is a bad quarterback. One thing to note, though, is that he has not played a full season. Sure, for half of the 2013 season he looked phenomenal, and for half of the 2014 season he looked sloppy, but still good enough to get the job done. But we are yet to see what he looks like when he plays two halves. There’s no telling how Mariota will transition into playing at the professional level, but reuniting with his former coach certainly would help him. He fits the system much better than Foles does, so on paper, it seems like a dream scenario.

The biggest obstacle is that right now, Mariota looks like he can go first overall. This would land him with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who is much more needing of a QB than the Eagles are. If they want him, then the Eagles are likely out of

This year, all eyes are on Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota in the draft. While he is expected to go early, speculation and old ties suggest that the Eagles might try to make a move for him

luck. Even if they decide to go with Winston, the Eagles would need to do a LOT of trading up, and they would have to give up a huge amount on their part. The team could lose first round picks for anywhere from the next 2-4 years. It’s a pretty big risk for a rookie. Let’s say the kid is a bust, and the Eagles fall to a 3-5 win team with him. That would leave them no chance to rebuild, since they already gave up so much for the player that is bringing them down.

The dream scenario might have come a year too early. Next year, with Foles a free agent, a QB might be something to look into. Right now, the main focus should be on the secondary. Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen are slated to leave, and they won’t exactly be missed. Cary Williams isn’t guaranteed anything next season, either. This leaves three spots to fill, including both starting CBs, assuming the Eagles continue to hold Brandon Boykin from starting. There are some great DBs not only in the draft, but in free agency as well. With it being their biggest need, I say it should be their first priority. If they address the issue well enough in free agency, fine, try for Mariota. No harm in that. Otherwise, use that first round pick on a position that’s needed the most. My suggestion would be Marcus Peters from Washington. Still a PAC-12 Marcus, so it’s close enough, right?

Head Coach Hirings: Who Made the Right Moves?

This NFL offseason has provided a decent number of head coaching vacancies, and most of them have been filled or are in the process of being filled. The 49ers, Bills, Jets, Raiders, and Bears have found their matches thus far, while the Falcons and Broncos are still searching. Both of the latter teams still have interviews to conduct, and will likely reach an agreement soon. With the five newly-filled positions being with non-playoff teams, there is a lot of expectations. If the fans don’t get instant gratification, the new jobs may be as good as gone. A further look can help to see what the teams should expect. In some cases, a perfect match may have been found. Others, however, might not be so lucky.

Todd Bowles, New York Jets I’m not sure what type of reaction I will get for this, but I like the hiring of Bowles here. It’s true, he’s a defensive guy when they need a better offense. Maybe it’s my Temple bias weighing into this input. If there’s any bias, it should be my bitterness over his failures in Philadelphia. All that aside, I believe that he’s the right guy. The Jets are on the right track to reclaiming their spot as one of the best defensive teams in the league, and are making moves on offense to back it up. The quarterback situation remains cloudy, yes, but Eric Decker and Percy Harvin are both solid additions. Let’s say they draft Amari Cooper in the draft, and that’s a team that suddenly has a potential to make an impact. It’s going to go either way with Bowles in New York, but I feel that it was the right call.

Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders Don’t get me wrong, I think Jack Del Rio is a fantastic head coach. However, the man has a career losing record. Out of his 9 years coaching the Jaguars, only 3 times has the team finished above .500. He’s a good coach, but I’m not sure that he’s exactly a head coach. A coordinator, absolutely, and a great one. I just don’t see him taking the Raiders to much success. To be fair, this team has a lot more talent than it has in recent years, including the addition of a young quarterback who has potential to be a success in the league. If I’m the Oakland Raiders though, I’m trying to find a guy at this point who is an established winner that can take the team to a playoff berth within the next two years. Del Rio is simply not that guy.

John Fox, Chicago Bears I love this move. In fact, I’ll say it’s my favorite of the coaching moves thus far. In Carolina, he was able to take Jake Delhomme to a Super Bowl, and I feel he can do the same with Jay Cutler. Plus, he can improve the needs of the once-dominant Bears defense. For the past few years, Chicago has been trying to piece their team back together, but always fell flat. Fox might be the missing puzzle piece that can give this team that deep playoff run that they’ve needed for years. The Bears already have plenty of talent on their roster. They just needed the right guy to get them into playoff shape. I believe John Fox might be that guy.

Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills I still think Rex should have been hired in Atlanta. He’s a better fit there, and would be of much more use to the Falcons. Unless the Bills match or (preferably) best their 9-7 record from last season, I’ll look at this as a mistake. He’s incredibly defensive-minded, arguably one of the best defensive minds in pro football right now. Buffalo is already exceptional in this regard. Their offense, however, is in shambles. The current quarterback is EJ Manuel. CJ Spiller will likely go elsewhere in free agency. Fred Jackson has little time left in the league. Sammy Watkins has shown great potential, but he’s useless without a good team around him. This is the part that Rex cannot fix as well, as seen with the Jets. With Jim Schwartz gone, Rex will have some work, but the Bills should have went with a more offensive-minded head coach, and Rex should have went down to Atlanta to help mend the horrific Falcons defense.

Jim Tomsula, San Francisco 49ers Promoting the defensive-line coach to head coach wasn’t particularly a bad move, seeing as he’s already served as an interim head coach. Sure, it was one game, but he helped the team win in a convincing fashion. Plus, that San Fran D-line is arguably the best in football. However, I’m curious to see how he’s going to adjust the offense. Clearly some changes are needed here. Colin Kaepernick has looked off all season, while Michael Crabtree is openly upset with his role on the team. Vernon Davis has been hurt and Frank Gore is reaching the running back expiration date. Both of those players are rumored to be traded away. It’s not going to be an easy task, and something tells me I shouldn’t be saying this, but I have faith that Tomsula can get the 49ers back on the winning track that Jim Harbaugh brough them to.

Playoff Weekend Preview

Well, one week of the playoffs is in the books, which has meant the end of the season for the Lions, the Bengals, the Cardinals, and surprisingly, the Steelers. Among the things we saw were the Panthers defense and running game give Ryan Lindley’s ailing Cards all they can handle, the Ravens prove to be even better in the playoffs as they knock the red-hot Steelers off, the Colts remind Marvin Lewis and Co. that they still don’t have a playoff win, and the Cowboys get away with a questionable call which might have handed them the game. All of that is in the past, and all that matters is what’s going on this weekend, as the quest to Glendale continues. Here’s a look at the four match-ups this weekend.

Ravens vs. Patriots 

Forget the Ice Bowl, forget Manning vs. Luck, THIS is the best game of the week. Tom Brady is electric in the playoffs, and the Patriots are looking better than they have since the years they’ve went to the Super Bowl. After handily winning the AFC, many believe them to be the favorites to win it all. Enter the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco has made a name for himself recently as one of the best playoff quarterbacks of all time, with John Harbaugh now boasting an impressive 9-4 playoff record. This is slightly better than Belichick, who is 19-9 all-time in the postseason. These two have met 3 times in the past 5 postseasons, with the Ravens just one Lee Evans drop/Billy Cundiff botched kick away from being undefeated against the Pats. The Patriots have had a nice week-long break, but the Ravens are fueled up after shutting down Pittsburgh’s explosive offense, and as recent history has shown, will not stop fighting here. I’m just saying, New England, you’re on upset alert. Ravens 34 Patriots 28

Panthers vs. Seahawks

The playoffs are all about who gets hot at the right time, and the Carolina Panthers have done exactly that. Ending the season on 4 straight wins, plus taking advantage of a soft Arizona team is exactly what they’ve needed to do. Unfortunately, this team is far from perfect. Cam Newton has that ability to make plays when needed, but struggles throwing the ball down the field. It doesn’t help that his top receiver is a rookie, either. No disrespect to Kelvin Benjamin, who has had a fantastic season, but he still doesn’t look like a full NFL receiver. The Seahawks, on the other hand, have no issues with Russell Wilson, as well as one of the most dominant defenses the NFL has seen in recent years, as well as Marshawn Lynch in his prime. Plus they’re at home. Seahawks 24 Panthers 10

Cowboys vs. Packers

The Cowboys are lucky to be where they are right now, and I can’t stress that enough. Just had to say that, back to analysis. The next coming of the Ice Bowl features two of the best offenses the league can offer. On the home team’s side, there’s Aaron Rodgers, a clear MVP favorite who has had career numbers this season. With weapons like Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and more, it’s no surprise that they have put up multiple 50+ point games and have dominated teams at home, where they have not lost. The Cowboys, however, finally have an offensive line that can protect Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray, who won the rushing title, by the way. Meanwhile, Dez Bryant may be the hardest wideout to cover in the league. Oh, and did I mention they’re undefeated on the road? One of these teams has to lose, and I’m going to pick the one with the slightly  better defense with such closely matched offenses. Packers 42 Cowboys 38

Colts vs. Broncos

Everyone has been dying to see Peyton Manning play the Colts in the playoffs, and everyone now has their wish fulfilled. Andrew Luck has emerged as a top 5 quarterback this season, which isn’t too shabby of a Peyton replacement. It’s no longer Manning’s old team; it’s Luck’s team, and last week, they looked GOOD. Denver has as well, but are they for real? in Week 5, the Broncos beat the Arizona Cardinals, giving them their first loss of the season. That was the last time the Broncos beat a playoff team. Every team they have beaten did not make the postseason, and their losses have been to those high-caliber teams like the Patriots and the Bengals. Yes, the Broncos have looked good, but they had a soft schedule, and Peyton is looking like he’s regressing. Don’t oversell yourself on Denver, because the Colts might be stronger team Sunday evening. Colts 28 Broncos 24

Top Offensive Triple Threats

As the playoffs kick into full swing, everyone is looking to figure out who the best team is. I’ve noticed that a lot of analysts are rankings teams based off their offensive weapons, so I figured I would do my own NFL triple threat ranking. Some are a bit obvious, and then others might come as a shock. One thing to note is that these rankings are not solely based off of stats, because stats can only tell so much about a player.

Some Important Forewarnings:

1. Some positions have offered multiple choices (Nick Foles or Mark Sanchez for the Eagles QB? Terrence West or Isaiah Crowell for the Browns RB? Demariyus Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders for the Broncos WR?), so I used better judgement with these decisions.

2. Some teams use their tight ends as a weapon more than their wide receivers, so I used the TE in the WR’s place in these scenarios.

3. Injuries don’t necessarily take away from the talent of a player, as reflected here. Sometimes, however, they do, as reflected here.

4. THESE DO NOT REFLECT THE TEAM AS A WHOLE. Playoff teams are below non-playoff teams, and the Bucs are NOT ranked 32. Defense is not taken into play here.

And here we go.

1. Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Big Ben has been having one of the best years of his career, with multiple 4+ TD games this season. Le’Veon Bell has emerged as the most dynamic running back in the league, and will be missed this week in a playoff contest against Baltimore. Antonio Brown has been the best receiver in the game this year, leading the league in catches and in yards. With this offense, I don’t see many teams being able to defend them in the postseason.

2. Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson Any time Aaron Rodgers is brought up this season, the MVP race must be included in the discussion. Aside from JJ Watt, Rodgers is the undisputed favorite to win the award and has proven so all season. Eddie Lacy battled injury earlier in the season, but has overcome that and emerged as a powerful back who is hard to stop. Jordy Nelson might not be the best receiver in the league, but he might be the most reliable. Even when he fails, Rodgers has Randall Cobb and Davante Adams at his disposal. Pure firepower.

3. Cowboys: Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant No disrespect to Romo, but put any quarterback behind that line and he will excel. Don’t get me wrong, he has had one of his best seasons in recent years, but much of that can be credited to the five guys in front of him. DeMarco Murray’s success can also be credited to this, but there is no mistaking his talent. This has been his first season injury-free, and has been able to give a more accurate representation of what he is capable of. Dez Bryant might be one of the hardest receivers in the league to cover, and with all the time Romo has in the pocket, he has no issue getting open and leading the league in receiving scores.

4. Broncos: Peyton Manning, CJ Anderson, Demariyus Thomas Peyton is definitely fading out, and his play has reflected that. Then again, “fading out” for him is merely a transition from “legendary” to “really, really good”. CJ Anderson takes some of the pressure off of the aging signal caller, and the undrafted rookie has been one of the most explosive backs in the league since he took over the starting role. Demariyus Thomas may only be one part of the three-headed dragon that is him, Emmanuel Sanders, and Julius Thomas, but he is without a doubt the best of the three and Peyton’s favorite.

5. Colts: Andrew Luck, Ahmad Bradshaw, TY Hilton Although the team hasn’t been the most trustworthy as of late, Andrew Luck is still a top 5 quarterback in the NFL after just his third season. If you’re asking me, the next Manning/Brady era will be the Luck/Wilson era, as long as Luck can get a ring sometime in the next few years. Ahmad Bradshaw is a threat on the ground and through the air, and Indy has definitely missed his presence after he went down. TY Hilton has shown nothing but promise since his rookie year, and now that Reggie Wayne is getting older, Hilton looks poised to take the spot of #1 receiver in Indianapolis

6. Lions: Matthew Stafford, Joique Bell, Calvin Johnson Matthew Stafford receives plenty of criticism that he isn’t for real, or that Megatron inflates his stats, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is a good quarterback. The playoff appearances back that up. Joique Bell has been the better back as Reggie Bush deals with injury and a regression in performance, and a back who has quietly been a threat is finally being vocalized. Megatron is a huge part of the reason that the Lions are so high up on this list, and while this season hasn’t been a Megatron-esque season, it’s still important to remember who he is.

7. Patriots: Tom Brady, Steven Ridley, Rob Gronkowski Age is a non-factor for Tom Brady, as this season, he as looked as good as he has in Super Bowl seasons. The running game brings this team down, as while Ridley is the undisputed top back, the shuffling of Vereen and Gray and Blount and Bolden take away from his credibility. To be fair, he’s not that great of a back in the first place, and nobody would consider him a top back if he wasn’t wearing a New England uniform. Rob Gronkowski might be the only Patriot in the Brady era to be better than Brady. In my opinion, he’s surpassed Graham as the most feared tight end in the league.

8. Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin Russell Wilson has really matured as a QB this past season, making the transition from good to great. In a year where mobile quarterbacks have struggled, Wilson has been dominant. Lynch is still the best power back in the league, and seeing him tackled by only one defender is a rarity. It’s a shame for Seattle that Lynch will likely be leaving after this season, but Robert Turbin is still a decent option. The only reason this team is below teams they are clearly better than is the lack of a passing game. With Harvin gone, Doug Baldwin has been the top receiver, and has failed to step up to the caliber he should be playing at, given his opportunity. This team really misses Golden Tate.

9. Eagles: Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin Foles isn’t the best quarterback for the Eagles, but neither is Sanchez. He’s not bad enough to the point that he absolutely cannot start next season, but he’s the safest option for now. LeSean McCoy took a while to find his groove this season, but he has still been one of the best in the league, and is most definitely fired up to top a season that didn’t meet his standards. Maclin is a solid candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, by posting incredible numbers after missing the entirety of last season. Him and Jordan Matthews make for a dangerous combination down the field.

10. Giants: Eli Manning, Rashad Jennings, Odell Beckham Jr. Eli might be the toughest quarterback in the league to figure out. One year he could win a Super Bowl, the next he could be one of the league leaders in interceptions, but the one thing to take away from everything is that he can play football at a high level. Rashad Jennings is a talented back who has done a great job blocking later in the season. Injuries have made a case for a carry split with Andre Williams, but I believe Jennings to be the better of the two. OBJ could be the Rookie of the Year this season if it weren’t for a fellow NFC East player named Zack Martin. Next season will welcome back Victor Cruz, which might make for the scariest receiving corps in the league.

11. Ravens: Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith Sr. Flacco might not deserve the paycheck he has, and he might not be the best quarterback in the league despite his own statements, but he’s done a great job this season. The AFC North has been tough to hang with, but he has gotten it done. Justin Forsett likely went into the season expecting to be a backup, but without Rice, he has outplayed Bernard Pierce and made his way into becoming one of the best up and coming backs in the league. Steve Smith may have fizzled out towards the end of the season, but with Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels also in the mix, the veteran is still playing at a high level in a new offense.

12. Saints: Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Jimmy Graham Brees may not have as many years left as people think, as he’s struggled to get the ball down the field all season. He may still be a threat, but he is definitely fading. Mark Ingram is the best of a messy backfield, as the former Heisman winner finally has his chance to shine with Thomas battling injury and Sproles being out of the picture. Jimmy Graham’s lackluster season can largely be attested to Brees’ struggles, but the tight end still remains one of the most dangerous weapons in the league and has big-play potential every down.

13. Texans: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins

14. Falcons: Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones

15. Bengals: Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill, AJ Green

16. Chargers: Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Keenan Allen

17. Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, DeSean Jackson

18. Bears: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery

19. 49ers: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin

20. Chiefs: Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce

21. Cardinals: Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington, Michael Floyd

22. Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Knowshon Moreno, Mike Wallace

23. Browns: Brian Hoyer, Isaiah Crowell, Josh Gordon

24. Panthers: Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin

25. Bills: Kyle Orton, Fred Jackson, Sammy Watkins

27. Jaguars: Blake Bortles, Denard Robinson, Cecil Shorts III

28. Buccaneers: Mike Glennon, Doug Martin, Mike Evans

29. Raiders: Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, James Jones

30. Jets: Geno Smith, Chris Ivory, Eric Decker

31. Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, Jerick McKinnon, Greg Jennings

32. Titans: Zach Mettenberger, Bishop Sankey, Delanie Walker

Suh’s Suspension and How it Affects His Future

In Sunday’s game in Green Bay, Lions defensive lineman Ndomukong Suh intentionally stepped on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ injured leg, leading to a one game suspension for Suh.

In the midst of all the NFL buzz that came out today, one of the bigger stories turned out to be another headline featuring the most dominant – and most ill-tempered – defensive lineman in the game, Ndomukong Suh. The Lions were down late in the game, when Aaron Rodgers went down for the second time that game. In that moment, Suh backed up and stepped on Rodgers’ leg. It may have seemed like an accident, until he kept his foot there, and then proceeded to apply pressure on the injured leg with his other foot. The reaction that he got from Rodgers’ also pointed out his intentions. In the midst of this, Suh has been suspended by the league for their first playoff game against the Cowboys. Suh has already made the decision to appeal.

I know I’ll get blasted for this, but Suh’s actions actually amused me a little bit. The way he did it was so nonchalant and free of care. He knew exactly what he was doing, and played it off to make it look somewhat subtle. That’s the type of player Suh has been through his entire career, as this is not his first disciplinary incident in the league. In past years, he has been suspended for stomping on Even Dietrich-Smith’s head, as well as taking a dirty shot to Matt Schaub’s groin. Most in the league put him right up there with James Harrison and Terrell Owens as one of the nastiest players in the game, and this is doing little to shake his reputation.

I don’t see any reason to believe that Suh will win his suspension. There’s no reasoning I can find that will convince the league to let him play this weekend. With that being said, I see Dallas coming out of this week with a win. With free agency

Suh is slated to be a free agent this offseason, but his behavior draws questions as to which teams would be willing to sign him.

looming, it seems likely that Ndomukong Suh has already played his last snap in a Detroit Lions uniform. As the best defensive tackle in the game (save for maybe Gerald McCoy) takes on free agency, it remains to be seen who will take him. Even if he is one of the best at his position, his reputation is going to be a huge question mark when it comes to him getting a contract. He has openly expressed interest in coming to New York (whether it’s the Giants or the Jets), but both teams likely don’t need any more negative attention, especially the Jets. Of course, there’s no debating on whether or not he will be signed, because I would bet anything that he will be, it’s just a matter of who is going to be willing to put up with him. The past game is proof that Suh’s personality has not changed, and likely will not change. Detroit doesn’t want him anymore, and when a team lets one of the best players in the game walk, that’s a huge red flag.