NFL Awards

MVP and Offensive Player of the Year- Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, 5,097 yards and 50 TDs

Offensive Rookie of the Year- New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley over 2,000 yards from scrimmage with 1,307 yards rushing and 11 TDS, 91 receptions for 721 yards

Defensive Player of the Year- Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald, 3rd player in NFL history to win the award in consecutive seasons (Lawrence Taylor, JJ Watt). 59 tackles and 20.5 sacks

Coach of the Year- Chicago Bears HC Matt Nagy 12-4 in first season as Bears HC, NFC North title and trip to playoffs.

Defensive Rookie of the Year- Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard

Comeback Player of the Year- Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, missed the entire 2017 season threw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns to lead the Colts to a Wild Card berth and a playoff win.

2019 Hall of Fame Inductees:

Tony Gonzales TE- Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons

Ed Reed S- Baltimore Ravens

Champ Bailey CB- Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos

Ty Law CB- New England Patriots

Kevin Mawae C- Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans

Johnny Robinson S- Kansas City Chiefs

Pat Bowlen- Owner Denver Broncos

Gil Brandt- Dallas Cowboys personnel executive

Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, OH in August

Steelers Considering Transition Tag on Bell

The Pittsburgh Steelers are setting themselves up for another offseason of drama with star running back Le’Veon Bell if they use their transition tag on him.

By doing this the Steelers would be allowed to match any offer made for the services of one of the Steelers most important offensive weapons.

Bell sat out the entire 2018 season after the Steelers placed the transition tag on him for the second season in a row and Bell refused to play for the money on his current contract and failing to reach a long-term agreement.

Bell, who will turn 27 on February 18th, had has at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage four time sin five seasons with the Steelers lead the NFL with 406 touches and tied his career high in touchdowns with 11 in 2017.

New England Wins 6th Title in 9 Tries

In what will go down as one of the most boring Super Bowls in history the New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl title by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3.

The Patriots defense strangled Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the rest of the Rams’ high-powered offense and held them to less than 200 yards offense and the only score came on a 53-yard Gregg Zuerlein field goal in the third quarter.

The Rams high priced defense held up their end by holding the Patriots out of the end zone until mid wat through the fourth quarter on a one-yard run by Sony Michel. The score was set up by a 25-yard pass to TE Rob Gronkowski. Tom Brady went 21-35 for 262 yards and one interception.

The game MVP was Julian Edelman who caught 10 passes for 141 yards.

Jared Goff never threw from a clean pocket all day and tossed a backbreaking interception in New England territory one play after WR Robert Cooks dropped a touchdown pass that would’ve tied the game at 10-10 with under five minutes left to play.

Arizona Taps Kingsbury as Next HC

The run on young, if not inexperienced offensive minds continued as the Arizona Cardinals announced the hiring of former Texas Tech head coach and USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.

The deal is for four years with an option on a fifth and the Cardinals will pay USC the $150k buyout due them for Kingsbury’s resignation.

Kingsbury was a Texas Tech QB and spent parts of three seasons in the NFL before going to play in the CFL and Europe.

In six seasons as the head coach of the Red Raiders lead them to a 35-40 record and three bowl games going 1-2. While his time in Lubbock was disappointing he was known to be an innovative offensive mind and at 39 years old he now fits the criteria needed to be an NFL head coach.

At least for now anyway.

Kingsbury has worked with Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes in college and as a former QB himself, however briefly, its hoped he can groom former first round draft pick Josh Rosen into a franchise quarterback.

Arians to the Bucs

The interest in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hiring former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is mutual.

Negotiations have begun, and sources say that the Bucs are very close to naming the 66 year old its next head coach.

A well respected offensive mind, Arians went 9-3 as an interim head coach for Chuck Pagano while he battled cancer and was the head coach of the Cardinals from 2013-17 leading them to the playoffs twice and retiring with a 49-30-1 record.

Arians also held offensive coordinator positions in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and its hoped that he can get consistent production from talented but troubled QB Jameis Winston.

Aaron Rodgers and New HC, Boom or Bust

By all accounts new Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LeFluer has a resume so scant that the biggest thing he has going for him is that he is an offensive minded coach who probably plays Fortnite with Sean McVay.

The success of McVay in Los Angeles has made young offensive coaches the flavor of the month in the world’s biggest copycat league, the NFL.

LeFluer was the offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans and had worked with Marcus Mariota with middling success and with Matt Ryan who during his time in Atlanta was the league MVP and if the Super Bowl was only three quarters would have been a Super Bowl Champ.

LeFluer spent time in Washington as well under the Mike Shanahan regime that floundered through a revolving door of QBs before landing on Kirk Cousins. He then followed Kyle Shanahan to Atlanta and then left the Shanahan coaching tree to be the OC in Tennessee where they narrowly missed the playoffs in 2018, ending 25th in yards and 27th in points with an injured Marcus Mariota.

So now on to the head coaching job at Green Bay where Aaron Rodgers who ended his relationship with Mike McCarthy at odds over play calling and innovation.

Can Matt LeFluer bring new energy to a locker room had had after 13 seasons, tuned McCarthy out and wring the remaining bits of productivity from Aaron Rodgers?

The offensive whiz kid role takes better when your QB is a 22 year old second year QB like Jared Goff, not a 35 year old superstar like Aaron Rodgers who knows how great and indispensable he is.

Bears OL Defends Parkey

Chicago Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno, Jr., defended teammate Cody Parkey whose missed FG doomed the Bears to defeat in their Wild Card round playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Leno had strong words for any fan thinking about sending Parkey threatening or disparaging messages on social media. When asked what his response would be to fans considering such providing such feedback.

“What would my response be? F—k you! You’re not in our position! You don’t know how hard this sh-t is!”

Parkey signed a 4-year $15 million-dollar deal in the off season coming over from the Miami Dolphins where he had an excellent 2017 season.

However, kicking in Miami and kicking in Chicago are two very different things.

Cutting him this Summer would prove costly for the Bears as the tam would carry $5.1 million dollars on dead money if the cut him before June 1st and $4 million dollars if they wait until after June 1st.

Perhaps the passage of time will allow for cooler heads in Chicago. However, would it be fair to Parkey or his teammates if he is still on the roster in 2019?

The stigma of this miss and ones earlier this season will be hard to shake.

Parkey Missed FG Now Scored as a Block

In what will come as little solace to Cody Parkey, his Chicago Bears teammates and the Bears faithful, it has been determined that his potential game winning 43-yard field goal was partially blocked by Philadelphia Eagles defender Trayvon Hester.

Upon review of the video, Hester was shown to get just enough of the ball to change its trajectory and cause it to hit the left upright.

While it wasn’t known at the time Bears fans still showered the high priced free agent kicker acquired from the Miami Dolphins in the off season was showered with boos as he came off the field and much worse on social media.

Steelers to Trade Brown by March

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According to reports the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to trade disgruntled problem child receiver Antonio Brown before March when he would be due a $2.5 million-dollar roster bonus.

Should the Steelers be able to trade him before March 1st not only would they save the $2.5 million roster bonus, but they could recoup much of his $21 million-dollar cap hit.

Brown, 30 had a great season on the field totaling 104 receptions, 1,297 yards and a league leading 15 touchdown receptions but off field issued have been simmering for years.

These issues came to boil late in the season when the Steelers’ playoff lives hung in the balance and Brown was suspended for the final game of the regular season.

Reports of him and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger not getting along have surfaced outlining Roethlisberger disparaging Brown on the practice field and in meetings. However, Brown’s issues have extended beyond his relationship with his quarterback.

There is little doubt that should the Steelers actually put him on the trade market he would attract interest from nearly every NFL club depending on the asking price.

While the Steelers may rid themselves of a headache, Brown is a headache that no matter what they get in return will be nearly impossible to replace.

Missed FG Ends Bears’ Season

The Chicago Bears, the NFC North Champion and number three seed in the NFL Playoffs lost their first home playoff game since the 2010 season to the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles 16-15.

The Nick Foles magic continued as the Eagles took the lead with less than a minute remaining on a touchdown pass to Golden Tate on 4th and goal from the one-yard line putting the visitors ahead to stay.

The ensuing kickoff was returned by the Bears’ Tarik Cohen to the Chicago 43 yard line and Mitchell Trubisky, who went 26-43 for 303 yards and one touchdown drove the Bears down to the Philadelphia 26 yard line where kicker Cody Parkey, who has had problem at Soldier Field, especially with uprights, hit the left upright to end the Bears’ 2018 season.

The Eagles advance to the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs when they visit the Saints in New Orleans next Sunday

Chargers Survive Ravens’ Comeback Bid

The Los Angeles Chargers are headed for New England after going into Baltimore and defeating the AFC North Champion Baltimore Ravens 23-17.

Philip Rivers threw for 160 yards and the Chargers’ defense ruined the playoff debut of Lamar Jackson.

Jackson was horrible through most of the game and was booed by the fans despite having gotten them the AFC North crown. It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter did Jackson find a rhythm. He finished with 194 yards passing, two touchdowns an interception and a fumble that ended the Ravens’ comeback bid.

The Chargers MVP was rookie kicker Michael Bagley who hit four first half field goals to put the Chargers up 12-0 at the half and added a fifth in the 3rd quarter.

Colts’ Big First Half Sinks Texans

The Indianapolis Colts rode a 21-point first half to advance to the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoff by beating their division rival Houston Texans 21-7 on Saturday night.

Colts’ QB Andrew Luck passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns and running back Marlon Mack had 154 yards from scrimmage and one score.

While the Texans defense pitched a shutout in the second half their offense lead by QB Deshaun Watson struggled mightily against a stout Colts defense and didn’t score their first touchdown until late in the 3rd quarter.

The Texans who were favored in this matchup won the AFC South after starting the season 0-3.

The Colts will travel to Kansas City next week to take on the number one seeded Chiefs lead by MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs.

Cowboys Edge Seahawks to Advance

Dak Prescott lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 24-22 home playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night.

Prescott had rushing and passing touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliot had 169 years from scrimmage with two touchdowns and dominant Dallas defense held Russell Wilson and a stout Seattle rushing attack in check all game.

Seattle wideouts Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett had only 12 targets all game and leading rusher Chris Carson ran for just 20 years on 13 carries.

Dallas has struggled on the road this season and their next game will either be at New Orleans against the Saints or against the Rams in Los Angeles. However the Cowboys did beat the Saints  in fairly convincing fashion in Dallas on a Thursday night late in the season.

More Drama in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who lost star running back Le’Veon Bell to a holdout/contract dispute this season are at the center of yet another controversy involving another offensive star, wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Brown was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, a game they had to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. While the official story was that Brown was dealing with a knee injury the real story presents a real problem for the Steeler organization that has had their fair share of locker room squabbles in recent seasons.

Brown skipped a practice and meetings last week after an altercation with Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger in which Brown threw a football at Roethlisberger. An incident a Steeler player called “embarrassing” and “the worst I’ve ever seen” and that Brown was “completely in the wrong.”

Brown has been frustrated this season with the emergence of fellow wide out JuJu Smith-Schuster as the team’s clear #1 target and has taken that frustration out on Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner.

One wonders how and if the Steelers can make this right with Brown after this latest incident. If the Steelers do decide to trade him his next team will have to assume the remaining 3 years of his contract with an average salary of $17 million dollars per year.

Brown has requested a trade but don’t look for the Steelers to acquiesce to his demands. Ask Le’Veon Bell how that went. That’s not how the Rooney’s roll.

$17 million dollars year is a hefty price for a malcontent diva who has never won anything, even if the Steelers did try to trade him.

NFL Head Coaching Interviews Begin Today

The first round of interviews for vacant NFL head coaching jobs begin today. Eight teams have vacancies and some of the top candidates will be getting their first chances to impress prospective clubs.

Fired Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, will be interviewing with the Arizona Cardinals who need a quarterback specialist to work with Josh Rosen. Gase has also gotten interest from the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns who have young QBs of the future.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will be the belle of the ball this interview season as he has been in recent years. He is expected to take an interview with the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday to revitalize the Packers and squeeze what’s left out of the last few years of Aaron Rodgers.

Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is also expected to interview with the Jets and Browns.

Defensive minded coaches like Vic Fangio from the Chicago Bears is expected to interview with the Miami Dolphins on Monday and Denver Broncos later in the week.

However, Fangio at 60 years old has never held an NFL head coaching job and defense is not what the NFL of the Roger Goodell era is founded on.

In the copycat NFL look for teams to try to find the next Sean McVay, who is the hot flavor of the week offensive mind clear cut for a league that has pretty much outlawed playing defense.

Travis Scott to Join Maroon 5 for Super Bowl Halftime Show

Rapper Travis Scott will join Maroon 5 for the Super Bowl LIII (53) halftime show on February 3rd, 2019 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Scott will bring some Grammy nominated cred to show that has been heavily criticized for booking Maroon 5 as the main act.

Other special guests will include Cardi B and Outkast’s Big Boi who is an Atlanta native.

Giannis Wants Davis to Join Him in Milwaukee

Following a 123-115 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo jokingly tried to recruit the soon to be free agent Anthony Davis to join him in Milwaukee.

Giannis saw Davis in the hallway at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum and said, “Come to the Bucks, man, come to the Bucks.”

Entering Wednesday Davis was the leading the NBA in efficiency, scoring 28 points per game, 12.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

Davis will be eligible for free agency in 2020 and should he opt out of his contract he will be a top free agent target, especially if the Pelicans decide to deal him instead of losing him and not getting anything in return.

Antetokounmpo isn’t the only NBA star that wants to team with Davis. LeBron James would like to see him a Laker purple and gold.

Regardless of where Davis ends up his whereabouts will be a hot button topic for years. He is one of the league’s most versatile players and will turn 26 in March. He’s and asset on both ends of the floor and he’d form a super team if he were to pair with either LeBron or Giannis.

The question is whether we’ll see that happen.

Josh Gordon Leaves Patriots

Pending what will be a permanent ban from the NFL due to violation of the league’s substance abuse policy New England Patriots receiver Josh Gordon has left the team.

He posted a message on his Twitter feed saying he needed to step way from football to focus on his mental health and thanked Bill Belichick, Pats owner Robert Kraft and the organization for the opportunity to play.

The prospect of Josh Gordon never playing in the NFL again is very real.

The Patriots acquired the 27-year-old Gordon form Cleveland in October for a fifth-round draft pick.

Gordon spent the prior five seasons with the Browns and was a an All Pro in 2013 when he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646. However, in subsequent years he saw suspensions in 2014 for 10 games and 16 games in both 2015 and 2016. He also missed the start of training camp this season while he received further counseling and treatment.

Gordon’s departure comes at a difficult time for the Patriots coming off consecutive losses in December for the first time since 2002 and are now 3rd in the AFC with a 9-5 record and will likely not have a first round bye in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Without Gordon Tom Brady will have to focus on hobbled tight end Rob Gronkowski and slot receiver Julian Edelmann with Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarelle Patterson rounding out the Pats receiving corps.

Panthers Shutting Down Newton

The Carolina Panthers in the throes of a 6-game slide have decided to shut down quarterback Cam Newton due to a lingering shoulder injury.

The Panthers will start Taylor Heinecke for Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons. The team has decided not to risk further injury to Newton as their playoff chances are very thin.

The final determination as to whether to sit Newton for the final game against the New Orleans Saints has yet to be made but with their playoff chances at less than one percent it seems the wise thing to do at this point.

Heinecke has attempted just five regular season passes in four NFL seasons. A loss in any one of the Panthers two remaining games will officially end their playoff hopes.

Maybe the Panthers should have sat Newton earlier and allowed him to heal and maybe that losing streak doesn’t get to six games.

The NFL Has an Officiating Problem and Its Only Getting Worse

NFL Officiating is broken, and The Shield can’t ignore it any longer.

The examples of errors aren’t hard to find, they happen in nearly every game. Some don’t affect outcomes of games, but others have, and those errors cost wins and jobs in a league where wins are hard to come by and each game is important.

Forget flag kneelers, domestic abusers and punkish behavior, more than CTE and more than the sport hemorrhaging youth players, this is the league’s biggest problem. It’s not just that the officiating is bad but is plainly visible for all to see.

Poor officiating makes the game unwatchable and will ultimately affect TV viewing audiences. That is what has league officials most worried fearing that some point there will be a price to be paid for the level of incompetence.

Complaints about officiating are nothing new. However, the speed at which the game is now being played is certainly a factor but that’s why replay is now a tool. Part of the problem players and team and league personnel now say is that many officials see themselves as stars of the game and try to insert their own personal style and personality into the game.

The NFL has taken some steps to improve, raising the number of full time officials from 21 to 24 this season. This is a positive step but given the performance this season there is a long way to go.

Many close to the game are suggesting more steps to clean up officiating. The first being adding more full-time officials. This helps the crews work more cohesively and communicate better with the teams

Secondly, more accountability. Making officials available for press conferences after the games like the league requires of coaches and players to answer questions surrounding penalties.

Third, more consequences.  Officials whose calls are overturned by replay on a regular basis in multiple games to be demoted. Now the only price paid for poor performance is that maybe the official doesn’t get chosen to work playoff games of even the Super Bowl.

Hopefully with more attention paid to this growing issue the 2019 season can be more enjoyable than 2018 has been.

Another “Random” Drug Test for Eric Reid

Even the most hard line NFL observer has to admit there’s something not quite right with Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid being required to give a seventh urine sample following Monday night’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.

This was Reid’s seventh drug test in 11 games with the Panthers this season.

Reid went unsigned at the opening of the NFL season leading Reid and many others around the league to believe he was being punished for his National Anthem protest he joined in with former San Francisco 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Upon joining the Panthers, he remined socially active regrading racial profiling and police abuse of young black men.

Reid and Kaepernick are involved in a collusion suit against the NFL whereby they believe they have been blackballed by the league for their social activism. Reid and his attorneys plan to use the frequency of his drug tests as evidence of harassment in the lawsuit.

In response the NFL has said that the Union collectively bargained for the type of test and approved the independent/ neutral third party that runs the computer program to make the selections.

Maybe the program is biased against Reid…

Ray Rice Done with Football

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has declared that he is “done with football”.

Rice was released by the Ravens in 2014 after a video surfaced of him punching his then girlfriend and now wife Janay Rice. Following his suspension and release, Rice was never signed by another NFL team.

Rice has empathy for another NFL running back that has found himself in a similar situation. Rice says he sees similarities between his situation and former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.

In a nearly identical circumstance Hunt was seen on video abusing a woman in a Cleveland hotel. Once the video was made public in late November, Hunt was cut by the Chiefs an suspended by the NFL.

Despite the incident Ray and Janay Rice got married which Rice calls his “second chance” and is happy to be done with the NFL.

As to whether Hunt deserves a second chance to play in the NFL, Rice is withholding judgment saying he wants to know Hunt as a person first before making that call.

Falcons HC Safe, Coordinators Not So Much

The Atlanta Falcons are struggling through an injury ridden season and while head coach Dan Quinn’s job is safe for 2019, changes are likely for the offensive and the defensive coordinator positions.

The team’s entire staff is set for an overhaul which could mean the firing of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Marquand Manual.

The Falcons will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and only two seasons removed from the NFC Championship and one quarter away from winning Super Bowl LI following the 2016 season.

Atlanta is currently 9th in overall offense and 24th in total defense and are sitting at 5-9 and face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday who are in the middle of a six-game losing skid.

Have the Rams Been Exposed?

In the last eight days the Los Angeles Rams have lost more games than they did in the entire first 13 weeks of the NFL season.

While great teams can hit speed bumps along the way the real concern is how the Rams have been completely outplayed in the last two weeks.

First was a Sunday night 15-6 loss to the Bears in frigid Chicago where the Bears defense smothered he Rams and the highest paid defender in the league Aaron Donald went MIA.

Sunday night’s upset loss at home to the injury riddled Philadelphia Eagles was especially concerning as they looked completely overmatched in a 30-23 loss that only got close at the end. The Eagles were a 13.5 point underdog and starting their back up QB Nick Foles.

The problem starts with QB Jared Goff who has turned the ball over eight times in the last three games as many as he did in the first 11 games and his passer rating has plummeted and has completed just 55.5 percent of his passes for an average of 5.5 yards per attempt.

Losing second year receiver Cooper Kupp to a season ending knee injury has had its effect but Goff has been throwing over and behind receivers the last four weeks.

The Rams defense anchored by Defensive Player of the Year Candidate Aaron Donald and other high-priced talent like Ndomukung Suh, Aghib Talib and Marcus Peters have been one of five teams to give up over 30 points in more than five games this season. Certainly not what the Rams were paying for. They have been exposed on the ground consistently on passing downs when pinning their ears back to rush the passer giving up a league worst 5.1 yards per carry.

Now the Rams look like a team that may have peaked too early and have had its flaws exposed and exploited at the wrong time.

Dodgers Don’t Want Long Term, Record Harper Deal

The MLB teams in the Bryce Harper Derby may have one less team to contend with.

The two-time defending National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers want Harper but not if it requires them to sign him to a long-term record setting salary contract.

The Dodgers, instead would be more inclined to give him a shorter deal with opt-outs for both sides. Even at that arrangement it could create a luxury tax situation for the team and cause a log jam in their outfield.

Given the fact that Harper has already rejected a 10-year $300 million-dollar deal from the only club he’s ever known, the Washington Nationals, it’s difficult to imagine him signing a deal with nay team that isn’t a head turning deal.

The Dodgers have succeeded without Harper winning six straight division titles and two National League Pennants and have an outfield full or stars, however getting a bat like Harper could be what the Dodgers need to get them over top and win their first World Series Championship since 1988.

Harper could also make up for the loss of shortstop Manny Machado who is on his own courtship tour around MLB.

Harper’s production is worth plenty but the Dodgers, its seems aren’t interested in bringing it in as part of a long-term commitment.