Tag Archives: Tennessee Titans

2017 NFL Rookie Most Likely to…

The 2017 NFL Draft Class was full of star power and several of those members will light up the League real soon. Photo Credit: ESPN.com

The dawn of the 2017 NFL Season has arrived and a new crop of college stars are preparing to make their mark in pro football.

Teams put a premium on defense this past draft. 131 defensive players were selected to 118 offensive. 34 of those players were cornerbacks, the most of any single position, 5 in the first round. If you combine the 3 Safeties, defensive back was the most selected unit in the draft. In all 67 defensive backs were picked in 2017.

I’ve done this exercise the two previous seasons and I’ve hit on some already, some are close to happening, and I’ve missed VERY BADLY on one. My apologies to my fellow Ohio State Alum Joey Bosa.

As with any draft in every sport, the situation you’re drafted to is more important than when you’re selected. It’s fun and difficult to predict how these guys will affect their team’s success or failures. So, here’s how I see several of this year’s crop of rookies careers panning out.

Most likely to lead the NFL in passing yards…. Patrick Mahomes (10th overall pick/Kansas City Chiefs). Andy Reid and his staff moved up to select the Texas Tech QB. Everyone knows the Red Raiders offense is a hyper passing scheme that tends to lead to video game numbers that doesn’t necessarily transition to the NFL. But, Mahomes should be different because he’s no “check down Charlie” like current Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith. Mahomes has the arm strength to push the ball down the field and Reid, a west coast offense guy, who’s called plays for Donovan McNabb when the Philadelphia Eagles went to four NFC title games and a Super Bowl, Brett Favre when he won three consecutive NFL MVPs and Michael Vick when he revived his career after a stint in prison. Mahomes has a real QB whisperer in his ear.

Most likely to lead the league in rushing yards…. Leonard Fournette (4th overall pick/Jacksonville Jaguars). He will play with a quarterback, in Blake Bortles, that has led the league in turnovers with 63 since entering the League in 2014. Bortles struggled to hold on to the starting job in the preseason, with Coach Marrone going as far to say he preferred to not have Blake pass the ball.

The Jags coaching staff already believes in smash mouth defense and a ball control offense.  In 2016 the Jags running game averaged 4.2 yards per carry, which was 17th in the NFL, and 101.9 yards per game that was 22nd. Fournette alone will improve those numbers. He’ll have to if Bortles can’t shake the yips.

Most likely to lead the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs… Taywon Taylor (3rd round, 72nd pick/Titans). The ball is like a magnet to his hands. During his senior season with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers he broke and set the school’s single season record for receptions and yards with 98 catches for 1,730 yards to go along with 17 TDs. He finished his career with a school record 253 catches for 4,234 yards and 41 TDs.

The Titans have a strong running game with DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry and Marcus Marriota running the read-option. What they need is a threat in the passing game and Taylor will provide just that.

Most likely to lead the league in sacks… T.J. Watt (30th overall pick/Pittsburgh Steelers). First reason, it is in his blood lines. He’s a Watt. Second, he plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 3-4 scheme that is only successful when it’s LBs blitz the QB. He got his first sack on Pittsburgh’s first defensive trip on the field in their first preseason game, he followed that up with another sack on the first play of their second defensive drive. At Wisconsin he collected 11.5 sacks in the 27 games he played. It’s what he does. Third, he’ll have the likes of Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt occupying offensive linemen to allow him to get free, plus with Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams and Bud Dupree playing alongside him, offenses won’t be scheming to stop Watt. Initially.

Most likely to lead the NFL in turnovers… Deshone Kizer (2nd round, Pick 52nd/Cleveland Browns). This organization has been snake bitten at the quarterback position since they returned to the League in 1999. Nearly 30 have started a game for the Browns in the last 18 seasons.

Cleveland is in the midst of a fire sale and don’t have much around Kizer at the skills positions. Their leading receiver from 2016, Terrelle Pryor, is in Washington and their second leading receiver, tight end Gary Barnidge, is still on the free agent market. The current leading receiver from 2016 is running back Duke Johnson Junior who had 52 catches for 514 yards.

Coach Hue Jackson has made the decision to start Kizer week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Therefore his growing pains are going to start early and he may very well have to shoulder the entire offense load. That’s not a good thing. Cleveland’s coaching staff and management is willing to suffer through his development, while investing in his future. He may fulfill this prediction of mine in season number one.

He will have to rely on guys who may not be on the roster next season as the team goes through a rebuilding period. It’s safe to say the turnovers will pile up, even it they aren’t entirely his fault.

Most likely to lead the League in interceptions (takeaways)…. Tre’Davious White (27th overall pick/Buffalo Bills). He hails from DBU better known as LSU, the same school that brought the NFL Patrick Petersen, Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne to name a few. The Bills still have a strong front seven that will put pressure on opposing QBs causing them to force some passes where they shouldn’t. Plus he plays in the AFC East where outside of Tom Brady, the quarterback play is VERY shoddy.

Most likely to be Offensive Rookie of the Year…. Christian McCaffrey (8th overall pick/Carolina Panthers). The Carolina Panthers will be attempting to lessen the workload on Cam Newton after his off-season shoulder surgery. Thus, they drafted McCaffrey in the first round to make use of his versatility. The Stanford alum is an all-purpose back that can contribute in the running, passing and return game. He’s going to get the most opportunities of any offensive player in this draft class.

Most likely to be Defensive Player of the Year…

Linebackers and defensive ends have dominated this award. Basically, pass rushers. The guy I really like is San Francisco 49ers LB Reuben Foster out of Alabama (31st overall pick/San Francisco 49ers). He never should have fallen this far, but, character issues hurt him.

The Niners used their two first round picks on defense (DT Solomon Thomas 3rd overall pick). While everyone is expecting new Head Coach Kyle Shanahan to rev up the offense, the San Fran D has drastically declined since the days competing with Seattle for the NFC West crown under Jim Harbaugh. Foster will rack up the tackles on a team that was the 32nd ranked defense last season. If he has the numbers and as a unit they continue to climb to a top ten team, many voters will point to him as the catalyst.

Most likely to be steal of the draft… Jake Butt (5th round, 145th pick/Denver Broncos) a nasty knee injury in Michigan’s bowl game is the reason he fell this far. Coming into the 2016 College football season, he was a projected first round pick. It was between him and Alabama’s O.J. Howard, who was selected in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as to which was the better all-around tight end.

Denver has young QBs who will need a safety blanket in the middle of the field. He will be that. Plus, he will draw lots of one-on-one coverage with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders stretching defenses out deep down field.

Most likely to be a perennial All-Pro…. Ryan Ramczyk (32nd overall pick/New Orleans Saints)He comes from Wisconsin where they churn out as many All-Pro offensive linemen as the state does butter. Not really, but you get it. Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns, Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys and Kraig Urbik of the Miami Dolphins to name a few.

Ramczyk will be charged with keeping Drew Brees up right so he can continue to pass for 5,000+ yards a season. One of the easiest ways to make an All-Pro team is to block for a QB that puts up historic numbers or a RB that is a top five rusher

Most likely to be NFL MVP…. Only six non-QBs have won the award in the last twenty seasons. The six players were running backs and one of them (Barry Sanders, 1997) shared it with Brett Favre. Therefore it’s not going out on a limb for me to predict a QB from the 2017 class will one day etch their name on the trophy.

With that being said, I’m going with DeShaun Watson (12th overall pick/Houston Texans). He’s a better version of Dak Prescott. No disrespect to the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and reigning Offensive Player of the Year. But, Watson has the same intangibles to lead a team and a better skill set. He’s shown it on the biggest stage in back-to-back National Championship games against a vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide team. His college coach Dabo Sweeney said he has some “Michael Jordan in him.” It’s hard to disagree after what we’ve already seen. The Texans are tailor-made for him to step in and lead them to glory.

Most likely to be Super Bowl MVP… Once again I’m going with DeShaun Watson. He has the number one ranked defense. The only thing that has been missing from the Houston Texans over the last three seasons has been a competent QB. Watson is more than competent and very capable of leading a team as he showed in college at Clemson. He’s a big gamer and his abilities will be even more amplified by a coach that’s already work with arguably the greatest QB of All-Time, Tom Brady.

 

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Best Fits For Colin Kaepernick

That is if he isn’t REALLY being blackballed by NFL owners and executives.

Colin Kaepernick still has something left in the tank, but where will he get to display it next is the question. Photo Credit: NFL

Colin Kaepernick deserves a chance to play in the NFL. I won’t go over the list of quarterbacks who can’t compare to him that have already been signed this offseason. That angle has been beaten to death. Rather I’d like to look at the team’s that should be in demand of his skill set.

Let me also set this up by acknowledging that Kaepernick is in starting QB purgatory. He’s like an award winning lead actor who’s had several Box Office flops and now studios only inquire about his interest in a supporting role until he can get that “it” back that sold out theaters. It’s like that episode of “Entourage” when Vincent Chase had to settle for the supporting role in the “Smokejumpers” film after his fallout with Alan the head of Warner Brothers over the “Aquaman” sequel and “Medellin.” Like Vince’s agent Ari Gold told him “you’re in movie star jail.” That’s Kaepernick’s situation now.

Even though the last few seasons with the San Francisco 49ers wasn’t Colin’s fault, you can blame Owner Jed York and General manager Trent Baalke for that, Colin has to accept the fact that he’s not a starting QB right now. I put emphasis on right now. That’s not to say he still can’t be, it’s just that no team is going to invest in him being their starter at this point.

As far as his play, Colin is the definition of a dual threat quarterback. He’s not the historic prototype like Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck. So he can’t fit into any system and thrive. Think of the trouble Michael Vick had finding a team in his latter years. Kaepernick needs to be in a system where the incumbent starter does many of the same things he does best and the offense resembles the read option that helped him when he led the Niners to the Super Bowl and the NFC title game the season after.

The goal for him should be to get on a team that will help him best show that his skills haven’t eroded, just the situation around him in “The Bay” did, and possibly gain a starting offer for 2018.

With that being said, these are the teams I think he’ll be a great fit for as a backup. All of these teams have entrenched starters who play similar to the way Colin played in his best days. None of these teams would have to change their offensive schemes to fit Colin if he were called upon. That’s the “football reason” many are using to avoid signing him.

Seattle Seahawks. Can you name the Seahawks backup QB? Didn’t think so. It’s Trevone Boykin who has some off-the-field issues he has to deal with this offseason. You wouldn’t know that because Russell Wilson hasn’t missed much time since he took over in the great northwest. However, their offense suits the superior athleticism and improvisation both Wilson and Kaepernick thrive on. Wilson also struggled with some lower leg injuries last season that he played through when he probably shouldn’t have if they had a capable backup on the roster.

Plus, that locker room and head coach Pete Carroll is tailor made to handle the “distractions” that will come with signing Kaep. Plus many of the guys in that locker room agree with his anthem protest, which he says he won’t continue this season.

Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton takes a beating, which is why he just had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. Derek Anderson is currently his backup. He’s a totally different QB than Cam, thus the Panthers would have to drastically alter their gameplan  if he’s needed to take snaps. Anderson is more suited to be Andrew Luck or Ben Roethlisberger’s backup. Kaep would allow Carolina to keep their same physical run first style in any absence of Newton.

Tennessee Titans. Marcus Mariotta is coming off a late season broken leg that could slow him down to start the 2017 season. His understudy is Matt Cassell. Those two couldn’t be any different. The Titans are also a run first offense with read option concepts. They rely heavily on their running backs DeMarco Murray and 2-year back Derrick Henry.

Buffalo Bills. If Tyrod Taylor really is their franchise QB, it makes more sense to have Kaepernick behind him than Cardale Jones, who I love, but is more like Roethlisberger or Carson Palmer. The Bills also have a strong running game led by LeSean Mccoy. Notice a theme here?

Miami Dolphins. Despite his size (6’4″ 216) Ryan Tannehill, a former wide receiver at Texas A&M, plays a more mobile game than pocket passer. Miami’s a more heavy rushing offense with Jay Ajayi in their backfield, with many read option concepts. Their backup is Matt Moore, who is more of a pocket passer. Moore is a career backup, which is why he’s in Miami, but as he showed when Tannehill was injured late last season, he can’t duplicate the success of the starter that helped get the Dolphins into the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

Dallas Cowboys. With Tony Romo retired that leaves a significant void behind Dak Prescott. Right now the backup is Kellen Moore. You sure you want him to be the 2nd option? Remember how he fared in 2015 when Romo was injured for most of the season? You may say “the Cowboys wanted to move on from Romo because they don’t need Dak looking over his shoulder.” Like I said previously, at this point Kaepernick is a backup. Romo had shown when he is healthy that he’s a starter. That’s why there was a distraction, because everyone assumed Dallas would be better than they were with Dak if Romo was in the lineup. No one would be making those assumptions with Kaepernick. But Cowboy fans would feel much safer with him on the roster in case Dak were injured or suffered from a “Sophomore Slump.” Plus they have 2016 NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott, keeping with my run first theme.

All these teams I’ve looked at are heavy rushing offenses. That’s what the 49ers were in their best days with Kaepernick under center with the franchise’s all-time leading rushing Frank Gore in the backfield. Also with their style of play, they put the starter in harms way often. Signing Kaepernick would be the best insurance policy out there. After a season excelling as a backup it’s likely he’d get one of those deals Mike Glennon jut got.

Now that there is one less quarterback option on the market for teams in need, Kaepernick’s name should be coming up more. Hopefully his unemployment will end very soon, if not then we know what it is.

The Tennessee Titans Mt. Rushmore

From Houston to Nashville, the Oilers/Texans have had an impressive 55 years of Pro Football. Photo Credit:ESPN.com

From Houston Texas, to Nashville, Tennessee the Oilers/Titans franchise has racked up 404 regular season wins, 2 League Championships (the first two in AFL history), an AFC Championships, 9 Division Championships, while making the playoffs 21 times in their 55 year history.

8 former Oilers/Titans players have been inducted in the Pro Football Hall of fame. But only four standout as the franchise’s Mount Rushmore.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon. 
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Earl Campbell (1978-1984) the “Tyler Rose” is a Texas and Houston Legend. The bruising running back was the first major star in their years in the NFL. After staring in Austin for the Longhorns, Campbell came to the NFL and became a 5-time Pro Bowler, 3-time 1st-team All-Pro (1978-1981,1983), 3-time NFL rushing champion, 3-time NFL MVP (1978,79,80) 3-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1978,1979,1980) and the 1978 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. When he retired he was the Oilers/Titans all-time leading rusher with 8,574 yards and his 73 rushing touchdowns are still number in team history. In 2010, he was voted the 55th NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991. His number 34 is retired by the franchise.

Warren Moon (1984-1993) can make a case that he’s the greatest passer in NFL history, in pro football history. After HAVING to spend six seasons playing in the Canadian Football League to prove he could be a quarterback, all Moon did in his eight seasons as a member of the Houston Oilers was become the team’s all-time leading passer with 33,685 yards and 196 touchdowns. He’s also the Oilers/Titans all-time leader in completions (2,632) and attempts (4,546). In 1990 he was award the NFL MVP award as well as Offensive Player of the Year. Moon was a 6-time Pro Bowler in Houston and a 3-time All-Pro (1988,1989, 1990). When he finished his career as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2000, Moon had amassed 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns; in the CFL he threw for 21,228 yards and 144 touchdowns for a total of 70,553 yards and 435 touchdowns. Those numbers would have been good enough for 3rd on both lists behind Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. The Titans made him only the sixth player in team history to have his jersey retired.

Bruce Matthews (1983-2001) has a name that still is very active in today’s NFL. He’s the father of Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Kevin and Jake Matthews, as well the uncle of Green Bay Packer and Minnesota Vikings Linebackers Clay Matthews III and Casey Matthews. Long before they arrived in the League he had his own outstanding career. He was a 14-time Pro Bowler (1988-2001), 10-time All-Pro (1988-1993,1996, 1998-200), NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year (2000), and a member of the NFL 1990’s All-Decade team. He blocked for the top two leading rushers in team history in Eddie George and Earl Campbell, and played for the team as both the Oilers and Tennessee Titans. Matthews is the All-Time NFL record holder for games played by an offensive lineman with 296. His jersey, number 74, is retired by the team. NFL.com ranked him 78th on the “100 Greatest Players” list in 2010.

Steve McNair (1995-2005) was the driving force of the Tennessee Titans that reached Super Bowl XXXIV after the 1999 Season. The 3rd pick by the Houston Oilers in 1995, he finished his career with the team as the second all-time leading passer with 27,141 yards and 3rd in passing touchdowns with 156. McNair was a 3-time Pro Bowler with the club and an All-Pro in 2003. He also was the co-NFL MVP in 2003 with Peyton Manning. His 76 wins are the most by an Oilers/Titans quarterback.

Titans-Oilers fans what do you think? Is this the right four? Or would you have gone with someone else? Say Eddie George? Ernest Givens? Or Mike Munchak?