New England Patriots – The Patriots have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. However, their defense is atrocious being the second worst defense in yards allowed. The Patriots focused on their defense in this years draft, especially on their pass rushing need. The Patriots drafted Chandler Jones, a defensive end and Dont’a Hightower a linebacker, both great at going after the quarterback. I expect the Patriots defense to be a vastly improved in the 2012 season.
New York Jets – The Jets finished a disappointing 8-8 this past season and missed the playoffs. The Jets will be looking for revenge. The teams defense and offense should improve this season. The Jets defense was good last season, but the expectations were so high, they could not be achieved. I expect the Jets to have a top five defense this season. The offense has been a work and progress these past three years. They have a young quarterback in Mark Sanchez who shows flashes of being a good NFL quarterback, but isn’t consistent enough yet. I expect the Jets to run the ball a lot more and have a more balanced offense.
Buffalo Bills- The Bills are going to have a tough time competing in this division. The bills have a talented team and have an incredibly talented defensive line. However, the Bills must be more consistent this year. Last season the Bills started 3-0 beating the Chiefs, Patriots, and Raiders, but they finished the season 6-10. The Bills must get more offensive playmakers especially at the wide receiver position. Besides Stevie Johnson, the Bills don’t have another dependable wide receiver.
Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins are going to have a tough time finishing over .500 this year. They are in a hard division and traded away Brandon Marshall, their best playmaker on offense. On top of that, the Dolphins will probably be starting a rookie quarterback midway through the season. The Dolphins will also have an inconsistent defense this season. The only thing the Dolphins will be able to do well this year is run the ball.
Expectations for the AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers will have high expectations this year because they should to go to the playoffs be a Super Bowl contender. The Steelers recently hired Todd Haley, former Chief head coach, as the offensive coordinator. Haley should have great success with the young wide receiving core and should have more success running the ball this year. The only concern I have with the Steelers is the age of the defense, which is the oldest defense in the NFL. While the defense is dominant when healthy, injury was a problem last year.
Cleveland Browns – As usual, the expectations for the Browns will be very low this season. If the Browns can get to 7 wins they should be extremely happy with their progress. The Browns will most likely start Brandon Weeden at quarterback who will be a 28 year old rookie. My concern for Weeden is, who will he throw the ball to. The Browns have a promising rookie wide receiver in Greg Little, but he shows inconsistency when catching the ball. Trent Richardson, their rookie running back should help take the load off Brandon Weeden. The Browns have a promising young nucleus of players, but their youth will show this year and prohibit them from being a great NFL team.
Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens will be the best tem in the AFC North this year and will be a Super Bowl contender. The Ravens have both an explosive offense and a stout defense. The only concern I have with the Ravens this year is how they replace Terrell Suggs. Suggs was lost for the season with a torn achilles. If Courtney Upshaw, the rookie OLB can replace Terrell Suggs, the Ravens could be the best team in the NFL.
Cinncinatti Bengals – The Bengals have a great young nucleus of players that are ready to compete now. They have a great young quarterback in Andy Dalton and a go to wide receiver in A.J. Green. The Bengals also have a great young defense that ranked 7th in the NFL in total yards given up. However, the Bengals are going to have a tough time competing in this division. The Bengals still will make the playoffs this year, but their Super Bowl window is just starting to open and they should be a dominant NFL team for the next decade.
Today was truly a sad day for the NFL, as Junior Seau was reported dead by a self inflicted gun shot to the chest. This is a huge blow to the Seau family, as well as the San Diego community. The heart sobbing interview Mrs. Seau gave in front of her son’s former home, would make the strongest shed a tear. Her mixture of words and sobbing was one of the most heart felt moments I have witnessed in quite awhile. There has been several instances within the past couple of years, that a former NFL player has taken his life. Just last year former Chicago Bear, Dave Duerson took his life in the same manner it appears Junior Seau took his, that is with a gun shot to the chest. Along with finding his body covered in blood, his family and authorities found a note that explained why he did not shoot himself in the head.
The note read, “please see that my brain is given to the N.F.L brain’s bank.” His ex wife, who divorced him four years before, said he always described pain from the left side of his brain. She said his vision and memory almost faded instantly and he did not know how to cope with the fact that is body was degenerating right before him. Duerson was by all account a happy and financially successful man, until he was forced to file for bankruptcy and his once prosperous food distribution went into decline. That is when his family noticed a dramatic change in his mood and how he interacted with others.
Even before Duerson went through his dilemma, he worked along side the committee that reviewed disability claims by retired players. He was very familiar with the sharp incline of former football players suffering from dementia, players like Fred McNeill. Duerson used his brain as a very direct message to the NFL, that they need to provide assistance to former players who gave their bodies up for the progress of this league. Now with the death of Junior Seau, the NFL has to take a deeper look at what causes theses players to go in a sharp decline mentally.
There is no denying it, the NFL is a dangerous, violence game. In order to change that, you would have to eliminate the game. There is no way you can remove the dangerous aspect of the game without removing the game all together. I do not believe it is the game, it is the players that play the game. They throw their bodies recklessly at other players, not thinking, of course in the action, what problems they will have in the future. After this incident, NFL can no longer just talk about making the league safer and providing assistance to retired players.
It is sad at the age of 43 that Junior Seau took his life and though nothing initially can be diagnosed as why he took his life, but a sure bet could be placed on the fact after playing football for more than half of his life took a toll on his brain. The number of instances your head takes traumatic hits during a football career is astounding. Seau was revered as a quality teammate and neighbor within his community. Always willing to help out those who were less fortunate and gave back time and money to his former high school in southern California. He played 20 years all together in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and ended his career with New England Patriots. He is a sure Hall of Famer for the class of 2015, it is sad this will be his lasting memory in so many fans mind. His family shall remain in the prayers and minds of all those who are witnesses to this epidemic that will affect so many more players if something is not done by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
The quarterback is the most important position in the NFL and the 2013 NFL draft quarterback class will be special. This draft class may not have as good of a prospect as Andrew Luck, but it could have as many as 6 first round picks.
Many professional athletes will base the success of their careers with numbers. Things such as averages, how many games they’ve won or lose, rankings and records. However sometimes numbers do not give the full essence of an athletes career. Things such as character, leadership, drive and determination are not recorded in the box score in the morning paper but does determine the outcome of the game. Though Ray Lewis does not lack Canton quality numbers, the man he is off the field, translate to the passion he displays on. Personally I believe Ray Lewis is one of the best players to ever play in the NFL regardless of position. His consistent production over his 16 (and counting) years in the league are next to none. As a fellow linebacker however, yes I want to tackle like Ray. Yes I want to make plays like Ray.
At the end of the day however if I could have as much passion and love for the game as Ray, I would call my career a success. The way he motivates his teammates would make Lombardi, the majestic motivator, shiver with adrenaline and excitement during one of Rays pre-game speeches. Ed Reed Rays All Pro teammate has gone on to say, “when Ray talks you listen. No if and or buts about it. I think he (Ray) could make you believe you can go head up against a freight train and wholeheartedly think that train has no chance against you. ”
As a Ray Lewis fan, it was disturbing to see Ray hurt throughout this year and not playing at 100%. Even still with the toe injury, Ray played his best while still motivating his team until the final defeat came against the Patriots. Many analyst, sports writers, Raven fans and myself thought for sure that was Rays last game. He quickly rebuked the rumor about his retirement with that same fire in his eyes he has displayed the past 16 years.
Though it maybe hard to say but, Ray has made a bigger impact off the field than on especially in the city of Baltimore. Hoisting numerous charity events for a notoriously dangerous Baltimore area. His constant outreach to those who need help is quite admirable. The best part is, it is something he loves to do. It is not just a tax write off or just him showing up, he is making a difference. After the Patriots loss, ESPN analyst Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were discussing the legacy of Ray Lewis and what stuck out to me the most was they stated no numbers nor any statistics. To end the segment, Chris Berman closed with this, “Ray Lewis could probably run for mayor in Baltimore and not have a single opponent. No one would run against him, you can’t. And he (Ray) would not win just because his career in the NFL. He would win because of his character and his tremendous ability to lead and motivate. ”
So no need to discuss tackles, interceptions, sacks or any other statistic. Make no mistake about it, RAY LEWIS IS A HALL OF FAMER, first ballot no argument needed but his numbers don’t speak alone for his career. His leadership and his ability to motivate and get the best out of his peers will never be seen throughout the NFL. It will be a sad day when Ray does finally says enough is enough, but it will give him more time to make an even greater impact off the field.
The Kansas City Chiefs announced today that they have hired former Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their offensive coordinator. Daboll was one of the three finalists, along with former Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders and (gulp) Chiefs quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, for the coaching job. Daboll was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator in 2011. Now before you protest in shock (The Miami Dolphins offense?! Are you kidding me) you must realize that this was the first time in the Dolphins history to have a player rush for 1,000 yards (Reggie Bush) and have another player have 1,000 receiving yards (Brandon Marshall). The first time ever. I don’t care if you’re the baby from E-Trade, if you’re the first to do that for a storied team like the Dolphins, you should be looked at and considered.
Daboll has a relationship with Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel from their years together on the Patriots. Daboll was an assistant under Bill Belichick in New England from 2000-06. So he’s from the “Belichick Brady Bunch,” and might know a thing or two about cheating, spying, and basically helping Pioli hold down Arrowhead Stadium (new hidden seat cameras anyone?). After his stint with the Patriots, he was the Jets’ quarterbacks coach in 2007-08. He was an offensive coordinator for the Browns under Eric Mangini in 2009-10, but we all know what happened to the Browns that year. (Ok I don’t, but I’m going to safely assume they had a losing season—again.)
I like Coach Daboll because of how well he can draw up plays and recognize defenses. Although under Daboll the Dolphins ranked a miserable 22nd in total offense and 20th in points (20.6 per game) this season, they performed much better in the second half of the season, and they were missing their quarterback Chad Henne to injury and playing with Matt Moore. And, although a small jump, it is better than the Chiefs offense, which ranked 27th in the league and averaged only 13.2 points per game in 2011. Interestingly enough, Daboll has worked with Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2005. Daboll was the Patriots’ receivers coach from 2002-06. So expect Cassel to be the starting quarterback next year.
This hire seems fitting because all Scott Pioli refers to is “The Patriots Way”. And since Daboll was with the Pats, he will fit in perfectly. I assume that Jim Zorn will have a major role in the offense as well because of his experience and the familiarity of the team. The major void that the Chiefs have is still at the quarterback position. It is clear that Matt Cassel cannot win a Super Bowl. It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs and Pioli address the quarterback situation and the roster with the draft and signing of free agents, most notably Brandon Carr and Dwayne Bowe.
And people were saying that football is done for the year.