/CFB Ball We would like to welcome you to the internet's tailgate, /CFB! We are a community of over 900,000 college football fans from all over the globe. There is just something about college football that grabs you and makes you want to scream at a TV, a ref, or - let's be real here - COVID-19 or 2020 in general. Dumpster Fire But even with all the bad in the world, there are countless CFB teams for you to root for - in the US and around the world. We guarantee you've got a college football team nearby. We do our best to cover them all. MontmorencyIPNMonashUFPRKITUppsalaUmojaESME-ESGLagos MarinesCanterbury (NZ)NidarosZlín富山大学 (Toyama)天津大学 (Tianjin)동의대학교 (Eui)Sakarya Once you have found a team to support you should consider picking up a flair to show your fandom and pride. /CFB has over 2,300 unique flairs to choose from. Make sure you choose a flair on a browser and not any reddit apps. /CFB currently has the ability for dual flairs. This allows you to show your fandom for two teams or your team and its conference, or even show your support for the Duke's Mayonnaise Bowl and wear a flair for your favorite bowl game! So, yeah, things are weird this year. We're working with this as best we can. Game Threads Because things are so up in the air, for the moment we're going to have CFB_Referee post all of the game threads and post game threads. If things stabilize, we may revisit that later in the season, but for the moment that will help us ensure that everything stays accurate. Useful Information Here are some links you should visit...
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Now that the season is beginning, weekly threads will be back up. We have at least one thread each day. Use them! Other threads that cover this information will be removed. Please note, this may change depending on how things go.
MS Paint Monday
Theme varies week to week.
The Monday Morning Playoff Committee
A place for you to share playoff hypotheticals and your proposals to change the College Football Playoff.
Betting Discussion Thread
Discuss spreads, oveunders, and prop bets for this week's games.
The Monday Afternoon Conference Realignment Committee
Discuss your hypothetical Conference realignment scenarios and how they might play out!
A thread with reminders about that week's upcoming threads, when weekly threads are, etc.
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Please note, this schedule is subject to change.
Share your own writing, podcasts, etc.
Dear CFB: Going to or Watching a Game Advice Thread
Ask for advice about going to a game or where to watch one for any games this season.
College Fantasy Football
Discuss your college fantasy football threads. Note that any comments that relate to financial transactions may be removed.
Complain About Your Team
For the whole season.
For the whole season.
This year, we'll be doing pre-season threads on a conference by conference basis 1 week before they start play, so they'll be staggered across the next month or so.
This season will be the weirdest in /CFB's history. A Hungry Cougar in the Rain We've jumped to over 900,000 football fans with more joining every day. We continue to grow and push our outreach even farther, adding more CFB media coverage and outreach, new AMAs, and new options for our users. We're getting more and more new people being brought in by discussions of a much wider range of issues. Stay safe. Touchdown Order Ball Stay well. Wash your hands. Houston Nutt Nick Saban Watch your sources.
https://preview.redd.it/b1v30yvtkn651.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=04f75a5416546b59550b162abe5940c65f12ce5d I started this exercise of choosing second- and third-year players in the NFL I expect to take the next step in their development, based on being in a better situation due schematic changes, the respective team not re-signing certain veterans and allowing their young guys to play a bigger role or just my evaluation of them coming out of college. Once again, my criteria was – they were not allowed to have a Pro Bowl so far, reached a major statistical milestone (1000 yard season, double-digit sacks, etc.) or are just looked at generally as one of the better players at their position already. I didn’t include guys that made my list already last year (Kemoko Turay, Justin Reid, etc.) or haven’t seen the field at all yet (Jonah Williams, Hakeem Butler, etc.). Across my two articles on these breakout players, you will only find one top ten pick, since I believe those are obvious choices anyway, if those guys just haven’t been healthy or whatever it may be. In this version, we are looking at eight more defensive players ready to break out in 2020 after talking about offense last week already: https://preview.redd.it/uiunf81mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=6446a7cc2e40ba090abe9cc9e047103831cef1e1
When I did these write-ups, I actually realized later on that Odenigbo was originally drafted in 2017 in the seventh round by the Vikings, but he only made the practice squad that year and was later claimed and waived by the Cardinals and Browns respectively. So since he finally made an active roster in 2018 and that’s when he finally saw the field, I thought he still qualifies. With all those guys Minnesota has had on the D-line in recent years, it was a challenge for Odenigbo to get their coaches to believe in him, having only played in one game for Arizona before last season. However, he was on the field more and more towards the end of this past year and with little investment in the draft into the front, the Vikings are betting on him to continue to develop, similar to what happened with Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter. Odenigbo recorded seven sacks and tackles for loss respectively, while adding another 18 pressures to the mix. He also forced a fumble and returned another one for a long touchdown against the Chargers, while he was actually called down on another scoop-and-score, where he originally got the trifecta (strip sack, fumble recovery and return TD). That is much more impressive putting it into context, as he played just a third of the defensive snaps. Now with Everson Griffen off the roster (unless he somehow decides to re-sign with the Vikes, Odenigbo is almost a shoe-in for that second defensive end spot in the starting lineup. Number 95 was mostly used in passing situations, especially early on, as three quarters of the snaps he played came on pass-rushing downs, and Mike Zimmer used his inside-out flexibility on different sub-packages. Odenigbo was asked to line up anywhere from pretty much 2i in sort of a track stance pointed inside to a wide nine alignment. His favorite (and best) move at this point is the dip and rip, but he also flashes a nice up-and-under combined with a high swim move. However, he also has a lot of power behind those pads, as he set up one of his teammates as the initial slanter versus Detroit and just flattened a guy I talked about in my offensive edition of this breakdown last week already in Frank Ragnow. In addition to that, I think the Vikings DE already shows good timing and execution on twists, freeing himself up by using teammates appropriately. As he seems to be transitioning to a starting role, the biggest question now is – How much improvement can he show as a run-defender? He displays very good pursuit coming unblocked from the backside, but at the point of attack he has some issues holding his ground at times, due to not always playing half the man and getting drawn in and allowing cutback lanes. In the pass game, Odenigbo needs to work on being more successful on secondary maneuvers and not give away opportunities if that initial rush stalls. https://preview.redd.it/pq74mx0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=8182390c28e3747fbb0ed0e9ea04426d25cfaf2f
Leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, Bradley Chubb was considered the clear-cut number one edge rusher coming out of N.C. State and after him most people said there was a huge drop-off. The Saints however shocked everybody by trading up to the 14th overall pick – not for a quarterback, but rather an outside linebacker from UTSA. While there isn’t a lot of buzz around Davenport entering year three of his pro career, I can promise that New Orleans did not spend their 2018 and ’19 first-round picks on a player they didn’t believe in. I was very surprised at the time of selection, because I thought they were looking for a more immediate-impact type of player with Drew Brees arriving in his 40s and the team coming off a 13-3 record, but there was never any question about the talent this kid presented. Davenport has missed three games in each of his first two years in the league and “only” put up 10.5 sacks, but he went from 28 QB pressures as a rookie to 50 last season. He might have been even better against the run, helping the Saints finish as the fourth-best rush defense at 91.3 yards allowed per game. So this is kind of a case for the improvement he has already made and I think the coaches in New Orleans already looked at 2019 as his breakout season, but among more casual fans, I believe Davenport will move his name into more of the conversation as one of the better young edge rushers this year. I personally had the young phenom as my 13th overall prospect coming out of San Antonio. When you put on his tape in college, that combination of explosiveness, power and closing burst really stood out. He already flashed the ability to string his hand together to dominate as a pass-rusher, but he needed to do it more consistently, and he showed the shock in his hands to own the point of attack, if he played with better extension. Those to me were certainly coachable areas and with the situation he was in, I thought he could produce in year two or three. Well, we have arrived at his third season and I believe he is ready to roll. I don’t think there’s much to critique as a run-defender about Davenport. He may still be a tick late recognizing some schemes, but when he extends those arms and drops the anchor, you won’t see much movement and he just owns tight-ends. In the pass game, I do believe he needs to broaden his repertoire a little and rush under a little more control, but he has clearly shown signs of becoming a difference-maker in that area as well. He has burst to win around the edge if he times his swipes up correctly, but also the immense power to bull-rush big offensive tackles back right into the quarterback’s lap. If he just learns to convert speed to power a little better and works on finishing that under-and-under he flashes with a follow-through chop, he could be scary. With third-round pick Zack Baun probably rushing outside on sub-packages, it will enable the Saints to move this guy and Cam Jordan more inside and create mismatches that way. https://preview.redd.it/lfbciv0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=da4072897c2bdf3e5d48946f7a1ddc2c24292f42
Simmons was the 19th overall pick for Tennessee last year. In his debut game he had three pressures on eleven pass-rushing snaps. The rest of the season wasn’t as promising, but considering I didn’t expect him to suit up at all in 2019 after tearing his ACL in pre-draft workouts, the fact he did collect valuable on-field experience, playing less than 40 percent of the defensive snaps just once from that point on, only helps him more. Purely based off his tape, I had Simmons as my IDL3, behind only Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver (both top five prospects for me) and ahead of the two Clemson standouts (Christian Wilkins and Dexter Williams). I even said without the injury he would have been at least around the top ten when I put out my big board a few days ahead of last year’s draft. In limited playing time as a rookie, he recorded 32 tackles, four of them for loss and two sacks. Simmons was an immovable object at Mississippi State and looked to be the same among grown men. I went back and watched the Raiders game in week 14, who have some maulers in the run game and you saw guys almost bounce off the rookie as if he was a brick wall. More importantly, they doubled him on pretty much every single snap he was on the field, probably because of what they had already seen on tape. This guy has some shock in his hands, the ability to look through the blocker on zone-runs and then get back to the gap behind him as the running back decides to cut up into it. He didn’t look as mobile working his way down the line laterally as I thought he did in college and he will have to do a better job working across the face of some blockers, rather than allowing them to wall him off at times. You see him just be a split-second late of actually stopping the ball-carrier rather than allowing him to stumble forward or barely miss altogether. If he gets back to his collegiate form, he can be an elite run-stopper. Having him out there will allow the Titans to run primarily sub-packages with Harold Landry and now Vic Beasley on the edges. The area he still needs to prove himself at is getting after the quarterback. Simmons is very straight-forward as a pass-rusher and didn’t show a lot of finesse to win in that area, getting stuck with stalemates for the most part if he couldn’t drive his guy backwards initially. He flashed a few quick wins on reps with the arm-over, but he has to get off the ball with more of a plan. I believe his ability to shoot upfield, the unbelievable power and just that disruptive style of play will show up big time in his first year at full strength. https://preview.redd.it/7paequ0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c2f4c31d5e75928dfdc684c30a956b575544062
This young man was my fourth overall prospect in last year’s draft behind only Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen (the edge rusher). Oliver was an uber-talented, explosive athlete coming out Houston, who I think is still learning the game to some degree. He came in as a freshman with the Cougars and immediately dominated, recording 22 tackles for loss and being named First Team All-American – an honor he would repeat his two other years there as well. While it was obviously a transition from the AAC, where he was just so superior to everybody else physically, compared to lining up against professionals every single week, I thought he started flashing more and more as his rookie season progressed. And while Jordan Phillips just put up double-digit sacks for Buffalo and got a big deal from the Cardinals in the process, I thought Oliver was already the Bills’ best interior pass rusher in December. Overall he recorded five sacks and TFLs each to go with 31 pressures on 374 pass-rushing snaps. That ratio may not be up there with some of the league’s best, but he definitely showed sparks on winning in that area and he finished up playing 53.7 percent of the snaps on defense overall, as part of a deep rotation. Coming out of Houston a year ago, it was clear Oliver needed some time to adjust to the NFL, after he was playing at the nose mostly in college and not having to stay true to his run fits all the time. While there are still moments where his pad-level gets too high and I feel like he is a tick late recognizing the run scheme, at 287 pounds his anchor is excellent and he has the ability to chase down plays laterally. In the pass game his natural power and quickness present problems for the opposition. What really stands out as well is he flexibility he possesses, as can be knocked from the side and somehow regain his balance to keep going and even if he ends up outside his pass-rush lane, he just continues to work. Something Oliver does really well already, which will give him a couple of “easy” sacks in 2020 is set up his loops to the outside on a twist, staying tight and aiming at the outside shoulder of the guard before pivoting outside suddenly. As a rookie, he had his issues going up against the better-schooled guards in the league, especially trying to beat the Steelers’ Ramon Foster and David DeCastro, who landed their hands inside his chest early and Oliver couldn’t gain an advantage. If he can work on being a little more pro-active and rushes the passer with more of a plan overall, I think he could be a Pro Bowler in year two. https://preview.redd.it/z1xft71mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=58865bb25882e11cf324d4541eb9fd75ea088307
A four-year starter at Wisconsin, Edwards recorded 366 tackles over the course of his career and made several impact plays for the Badgers. Unfortunately he could not participate in any on-field drills at the 2019 NFL combine due to a banged up ankle and if you can trust his pro day results, his athleticism is still below-average. Labelled as a classic college linebacker with limitations to translate his game to the next level, Edwards ultimately went undrafted and signed with the Eagles. As a rookie, he mostly made an impact on special teams, with nine combined tackles on punt and kickoff coverage. He only played 11 percent of the defensive snaps, but when he was on the field, he earned close to an elite grade by Pro Football Focus and got involved on another 21 tackles. When you divide those 122 snaps by the amount of tackles he recorded, that actually gives him the highest tackle rate of any player at the position with at least 100 snaps played. In his first year under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he was mainly utilized on early downs to stop the run, as he was on the field for 89 run downs compared to only 33 pass plays. That is somewhat understandable, since you just have to love his oldschool mind-set in the frame of a well-built, strong guy. Edwards aggressively shoots downhill on inside runs and drops the shoulder on lead-blockers trying to move him out of there, actually stonewalling some of those guys and creating traffic jams that way. At the same time, he shows enough patience with combo-blocks in front of him to not just give away free cutback lanes by overrunning plays, keeping bouncy feet as he deciphers what he sees in the backfield. He offers a sturdy base to absorb the contact by offensive linemen climbing up to him and keeps them at extension, while also showing the mobility to mirror pullers and beat them to the spot. Then he really brings some thump at initial contact on tackles to stop the forward momentum and missed only one attempt on the year (on special teams). It is kind of funny how Edwards was labelled a pure run-stopper because of some athletic limitations, when he actually intercepted ten passes and broke up another 15, while adding eight sacks throughout his career at Wisconsin. He may never be a candidate to shadow more dynamic backs or tight-ends one-on-one, but his feel in zone and ability to get involved as a blitzer should keep him on the field for third downs more. Edwards is also quick to recognize play-action and turn his head for potential crossers behind him before swiveling back towards the quarterback. I believe Edwards will be an excellent replacement for Zach Brown at MIKE, who left in free agency. There are some questions about linebacker trio with Duke Riley and Nathan Gerry, Jatavis Brown or Davion Taylor, but Edwards should be a fixture in the middle on first and second down at least. https://preview.redd.it/lgoeh60mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=38e707ed0ad52312a4c01fc5f2f16153b2c83245
Murphy was my number one corner heading into the 2019 draft ahead of guys like Greedy Williams and DeAndre Baker and he was the first pick in round two. While he started all 16 games for Arizona and missed less than 30 snaps the entire season, I think barely anybody really knows about or watched this guy play for the Cardinals as rookie. There were definitely some learning experiences early on and if you look at the total yards and touchdowns allowed, it’s not a beautiful sight and 78 total tackles for any corner aren’t a great sign either. However, a lot of that had to do with the 105 targets coming his way (fourth-most by any player in the league) due to lining up on the opposite side of Patrick Peterson and the fact he was part of the 31st-ranked pass defense. I thought he improved every single week and he actually put up better marks in coverage than his running mate Peterson, despite being targeted at a much higher rate – 7.7 compared to 9.3 yards allowed per target. Murphy also intercepted one pass and broke up another ten. What I loved about Murphy coming out of Washington last year was his innate feel in zone coverage with an outstanding ability to click-and-close and be a play-maker. He can flip his hips with ease and has that gliding speed to stay on top of routes, rarely allowing opponents to detach from him late. In the run game, Murphy does not shy away from getting involved as a tackler, arriving low and up-ending bigger ball-carriers routinely. You see him fill the D-gap or squeeze plays from the outside on several occasions. He also won’t allow bigger receivers to bully him as blockers, keeping them away from his frame and leveraging the ball accordingly. The rookie mostly played in the slot versus 11 personnel once Patrick Peterson returned in week seven last season and he was utilized as a blitzer off the edge a few times, where he chased running backs down from behind or got into the face of the opposing quarterback. He was heavily exhausted when he was moved in the slot and had to follow receivers back-and-forth across the formation on motions at times. The one thing Murphy really struggled with as a rookie was playing with his back towards the quarterback on slot fades and such as, where receivers could use subtle push-offs and win with their frame, as he almost purely face-guarded them and didn’t even try to snap his head around. The Cardinals have added a super-rangy player is Isaiah Simmons and beef up front to stop the run on early downs, in order to set up third-and-long situations. Allowing the now second-year player to focus more on his coverage and now with veteran Robert Alford being brought in as another outside corner, I see Murphy taking the next step in his developing. By the way, re-watching those Cardinals tapes – Budda Baker is just a freaking baller. https://preview.redd.it/znok171mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=18e3a805075eebfb64e6cea9726c1ceaaa2bd921
At the start of last year’s draft process, Ya-Sin wasn’t a huge name since he had only played one year at the FBS level for Temple. However, after he and now-49ers receiver Deebo Samuel went back and forth at the Senior Bowl, I started falling love with this guy and so did the scouting community. As a rookie with the Colts, wearing number 34 as the spot he was selected at, he started 13 of 15 games and played at least 93 percent of the snaps in ten of them. Ya-Sin was targeted on 15.2 percent of pass plays and he had some struggles, but he also improved a lot from the first to the second half of his debut campaign. There was one really rough showing versus one of the NFL’s young star receivers in Courtland Sutton, when he was penalized five times and was responsible for 75 receiving yards. However, the rest of the season he was called for defensive holding three times and for pass interference just once (40 total yards). That’s not too bad for a rookie who likes to get into the face of receivers and whose play-style out of college could be described as “grabby”. Over the final eight weeks, Ya-Sin held opposing QBs to a passer rating of just 75.8 and didn’t allow any touchdowns (after being responsible for two up to that point), while coming up with his first career pick. Ya-Sin can be described is a very sticky, quick-footed corner. As a rookie, he primarily played outside and faced some tough matchups, while even being asked to travel with some of the game’s elite, such as Michael Thomas. While I’m not saying that always went great, his competitiveness is off the charts and I think he has all the tools to develop into an excellent cover-corner. Ya-Sin was rarely just caught out of position. It was more about struggling to find the ball down the field and panicking a little when he did overcommit initially. The more experience he had, the more comfortable he felt turning his head and making a play on the ball. I still love his competitiveness, rapid feet at the line, ability to read the hips of the receiver and use his length to get his hands on the ball. He had a few textbook reps, staying in phase with the receiver from press alignmenz on hitch or curl routes and knocking the pass down coming out of the break. I thought playing in year one, he was also a pretty good edge-setter in the run game and he didn’t just wait for the ball-carrier to cut back inside to stay clean. You saw him fight off blocks and try to cut down the guy with the ball. Now with Pierre Desir gone in free agency, I expect Ya-Sin to step into the spotlight as Indy’s true CB1. The Colts also brought in veteran Xavier Rhoades, who I thought looked broken down last season, but will help this kid grow mentally as well. https://preview.redd.it/7m1nru0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=a0dea575bc086e12e446f31656bfcbab75acacb0
My top-rated safety from a year ago, I thought Adderley was a perfect match with Derwin James on the Chargers, because he has that range for a true deep middle safety to allow Derwin to roam and play more around the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately he had hamstring issues before even being drafted, which forced him to miss mandatory minicamp and most of training camp. He only appeared in one preseason game and then played 10 defensive snaps across four regular season games, making two pretty meaningless tackles, before the Chargers placed him on injured reserve. So with that little experience, Adderley barely meets my criteria, but he was active for four games and I want to grab the opportunity to talk about one of my favorites in last year’s draft. Coming out of Delaware, he filled the alley in the run game with the mind-set of a linebacker, while also showing the ability to cover ground to bail out his team-mates on the back-end. When the ball is completed in front of him, he punishes receivers and when it gets into his hand, he shows off his background as a kick returner, where we had one of the sickest plays I have ever seen, running an opponent over, staring him down and proceeding to go the end-zone. Outside of some questions about the level of competition in the FCS and how much different he moved different than anybody else, I loved everything about his game. The one time we did actually see him play with pros – week four of the preseason – Adderley made one interception and deflected another three passes, while one of them should have been another pick, with a receiver knocking the ball out of his hands late, and he got both hands on another ball down the seams to deny a touchdown. You could see him show up outside the numbers against go-routes and cut in front of deep in-breaking routes, which led to the one INT he actually made. In addition to that, you saw him try to go underneath offensive linemen and be willing to take on some contact on screen plays, instead of staying back and avoiding collisions, getting involved late on scrums or jumping on the back of a receiver trying to catch the ball at the sideline. Now with Chris Harris added to the mix, Casey Hayward on the opposite side and Desmond King in the slot, with the guys they have up front to get after the passer, plus Derwin possibly being sent as a blitzer with his stupid closing burst, Adderley has the ability to gamble and make plays. Plus he gives them somebody who plays with an attitude, which I really appreciated going back to my evaluations coming out of college. Before he can become an impact player, he first needs to beat out Rayshawn Jenkins, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t on the field for the majority of snaps.
Division: NFC South (7-9 2nd in the Division) Head Coach: Bruce Arians Offensive Coordinator: Byron Leftwich Defensive Coordinator: Todd Bowles
Intro: Let me Get Something off my Chest
A couple of months ago, I wrote the Buccaneers 32 Teams/32 Days Post. Looking back a it, I’m sticking to my guns on most of my analysis. There’s just…one….little….thing….we need to talk about. Regarding Jameis’s pending free agent status, I said:
There's also the question of QB. Jameis is also a UFA and I'd say there's a...40% chance we re-sign him. So who replaces him, and would an aging veteran QB like Brady or Rivers really be a marked improvement?
[Sneezes in Boston accent] The answer is yes, Fencing Coach, you fawkin dumbass! Did you really think that Jameis Winston was a bettah option than Tawm Fawkin’ Brady 6-time supah bowl champion and enemy of Rawjuh Fawkin’ Goodell? You were fawkin’ wrong! Admit to the good people of Aw/NFL that you wuh just another paht of the fake news media that tried to say Tawm Bwady deflated the footballs and that Bill Belichick used the video cameras for the SpyGates! And who would have evah guessed that we’d end up with Gronk! What a yeeyah! What an offseason you fawkin’ pessimist! We got the GOAT! Get ya Covid immunity TB12 pills and shove ‘em up yuh asshole! [Snaps out of it] Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get serious for a moment. This is the final Hail Mary of the underwhelming Jason Licht era, and aggressive moves were made this offseason, because the excuses have finally run out. Since taking over the team in 2014, Jason Licht is on his third head coach (to be fair, Lovie Smith was not his choice) and only has a 34-62 (.35) record to show for, 0 playoff appearances, and only one winning season. Meanwhile, a select list of his GM peers hired since include:
Big moves were made this offseason at the Quarterback position, bringing in a certain 6th round pick out of Michigan to compete with the ethereal and legendary Blaine Gabbert. Jameis was shown the door. And the result is about a case of beer’s worth of cap space and little depth across the roster. Buckle your Bucs, this is going to be a helluvah ride.
Top Offseason Stories
The Tompa Bay Gronkeneers: The biggest news of the offseason was giving Tom Brady a 2 yeaar, $50M contract (fully guaranteed). I won’t be blind to the fact that Tom Brady is 43 years old and clearly on the decline. But Tom Brady on the decline doesn’t have to carry the team on his back when he has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and Oterius Jabari Howard to throw to. Not to mention, people will be sleeping on the Buccaneer defense. They shouldn’t be (more on that later). Had Jameis Winston cut his 2019 turnovers in half, the Buccaneers would have been a playoff team and he would have been in the MVP discussion. Of course, if my mother had wheels, she’d be a bicycle. The real value of the Brady deal will be in his accuracy and more conservative approach to quarterbacking. Let’s exclude Tom Brady’s rookie year and his 2008 season cut short by injury, and Tom Brady has averaged ~10 interceptions. In five seasons, Jameis averaged ~18 interceptions per season (and dozens more fumbles). Numbers aside, Brady’s value will come in the swagger he brings to the locker room. The 2019 Bruce Arians signing brought in a coach with a track record of winning. Brady’s window is obviously short…very short. But the ride should be fun while it lasts. Then of course, there’s Rob Gronkowski, one of football’s most beloved meatheads. One year post retirement, Gronk put the cleats back on and chose to follow Brady to Tampa (in exchange for a 4th and the Patriots’ 7th round pick). With OJ Howard and Cameron Brate already on the roster, the Gronkowski trade was a luxury move, but will give Brady his favorite all-time target in an offense largely unfamiliar to him. Jason Licht’s approach of building from the outside-in has often worked to his detriment for a team that has always excelled at receiving skill position players…but little else. The Tompa Bay Gronkeneers will be fun to watch. Let’s hope Brady can capture lightning in a bottle. The Jameis Winston Cult of Personality Ends: When Jameis Winston first entered the league, I declared that his ceiling was Brett Favre and his floor was Jay Cutler. Five seasons in and I feel like he got a quarter of the way past Cutler. So how will I remember Jameis? For those of you who were old enough to watch the Jerry Springer show and see a big reveal that Cletus’s wife was cheating on him with the next door neighbor, it sure was entertaining for everyone watching, except for Cletus himself. For five years, Bucs fans were Cletus. Fans of the NFL marveled at his “eating W’s” meme while many of us cringed in embarrassment. You saw 5,000 yards and 30 TD’s. We saw 30 INT’s and 6 more fumbles. The worst part of the Jameis Winston era wasn’t the embarrassment on-field, but the divisiveness he generated off the field. Post-game discussion threads on Buccaneers were riddled with personal attacks should anyone have dared mentioned that perhaps we would have won the football game had he not thrown 18,000 picks. But the worst of all? The discussion that came from his third sexual assault allegation (no, this is not a typo. People forget there were two allegations at FSU). Three allegations were not enough to keep a large contingency of the fan base from defending him, justifying his actions, and of course the classic Redditor “she was just in it for the money” trope. Jameis Winston signed with the Saints this offseason, becoming a division rival’s embarrassment. I still believe he has an on-field future in the league. Perhaps, for now, the comments section will allow for smoother sailing. Perhaps not.
Hard to believe that I’m now in Year 6 of writing these offseason reviews for Tampa, and outside of 2017 where I was wildly off on predicting our record, I’ve managed to fall within one victory/loss in each of the other four. The past two seasons, I’ve predicted our exact record. While Covid delays could impact the 2020 season itself, I predict the Tom Brady Bucs will go 10-6, win the wild card, and lose in the Divisional round.
Things I Like About the Bucs in 2020
The Defense: The Bucs finished 2019 with the top ranked run defense, led by beefy Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea. Sack Ferret had a breakout year and led the league in sacks, and Jason Pierre-Paul added 8.5 sacks off the edge despite starting only 8 games. Our ILB unit of Lavonte David and Devin White should be among the best tandems in the league. GM Jason Licht has drafted a fine trio of CB’s in Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Jamel Dean, and the addition of Antoine Winfield Jr. will add an instant performer. Suddenly, defense isn’t a concern when it’s been in the past.
People on Offense who Touch the Football Through the Air: If you told me a few months ago that Tom Brady would be throwing footballs in Tampa to Rob Gronkowski, I would have recommended you go see a shrink. But in the year 2020, anything happens. The receiving corps of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and OJ Howard is the best in the NFL, and I can’t be convinced otherwise.
Things That Scare me About the Bucs in 2020:
The Kicking Game: Matt Gay was a 77.1% kicker as a rookie and missed big in some clutch situations. The Jason Licht era has brought in names like Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk, Chandler Catanzaro, Kyle Brindza, and Cairo Santos (to name a few). None have gotten the job done. Kicker simply can’t be a liability. Gay has to get that % up to the high 80’s. Kickers have lost us numerous games in the last few years. We’re becoming the Minnesota Vikings of the NFC South. A team will only be as strong as its weakest link, and the kicking link has been dreadful.
People on Offense who Run the Football: I’m not sold on Ronald Jones, mostly because his blocking is still horrid and his vision is suspect. He also goes down if he gets hit with the force of a butterfly landing on his shoulder. Shady McCoy was brought in at the veteran minimum, but he was old enough to fight in the Revolutionary War. 3rd round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s ceiling seems like a low one to me and he crosses me more as a utility back than a feature one (more on him in the draft analysis section). The running game is far less important in the NFL of the 2020’s, but there isn’t anyone on this roster who I think can carry the load.
People on Offense who are Supposed to Protect Tom Brady from Dying: Donovan Smith improved in 2019 from abysmal to below average, but below average is what people like Cameron Jordan make mincemeat out of. Tristan Wirfs is a rookie, and rookie OT’s are liabilities more often than not. Ali Marpet is still a stud, and Ryan Jensen improved mightily in year 2 in Tampa. Alex Cappa (RG) is a work in progress and it’s too early to dismiss the guy yet, but progress needs to be made there. For Brady’s sake, this unit has to keep him upright. 43 year olds aren’t meant to withstand hits made with the force of an 18-wheeler.
2020 Draft Analysis
Round 1, #13 Overall
Tristan Wirfs (RT – Iowa)
Admittedly, I always struggle with evaluating OL positions. I thought Chance Warmack, Robert Gallery, and Jason Smith were generational talents. They were far from that. So take what I have to say with a grain of salt, and listen to people like Barian_Fostatewho did an excellent breakdown of Wirfs and Jedrick Wills, with the evaluation noting some glaring flaws in Wirfs’ footwork and hand technique. There’s no denying that Wirfs’ athletic ability is deity level batshit. At 6’5, 320 pounds, he ran a 4.86 forty at the Combine, had a 36.5” vertical, and a 10’1 broad jump. Not to mention, the kid can straight up jump out of a pool and casually hang clean 500 pounds. I wanted to watch how Wirfs performed against some of his incoming peers in the NFL, so I watched his matchup against Pedophilia State University to see how he’d fare against Yetur Gross-Matos, 2nd round pick of the Panthers and future division opponent. The results were…underwhelming. YGM brought constant pressure throughout the game, and seemed to have Wirfs beat from his first step onward, but in the same game, his ability in the run game was eye opening (Example). But then you had cases of sheer lack of awareness on blitzes and also stunts that showed deep areas of weakness for Wirfs. One way or another, this was a necessary pick, and even if he doesn’t pan out at RT, Wirfs’ athleticism and gifted abilities in the run game will make him a long-term key part of the Bucs and a potential Guard candidate.
Round 2, #45 Overall
Antoine Winfield Jr. (S – Minnesota)
Antoine Winfield Jr.’s entrance into the league was a “you’re an old man” moment for us Redditors in our 30’s who grew up watching his “Hall of Very Good” father. This was a pretty pick. While Winfield is of course a safety, the very first thing that stood out to me watching his tape was his pass rush ability. Yes, his pass rush ability. The first couple of clips I put on of Winfield had him perfectly timing a snap from the box and immediately in the backfield by the time the QB had the ball in his hands. The second thing that stood out was his nose for the ball, particularly in clutch situations. As Joe Theismann simply stated: “big players make big plays,” and that couldn’t have been more true of Winfield, who had big time game saving interceptions against both Fresno State and Penn State. Winfield was my favorite pick of the Buccaneers draft class, and what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed and an excellent nose for the ball. Keep an eye out for this one.
Round 3, #76 Overall
Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB – Vanderbilt)
Ke’Shawn Vaughn was one of the harder players to scout from this Buccaneer class, simply because it looked like he would have been better off with an offensive line of obese, beefy toddlers than whatever Vanderbilt rolled out for him. Nearly every snap I viewed of him, he rarely had a clean hole and was hit in the backfield the moment he touched the ball. Like, seriously, what is this? Vaughn’s biggest strengths to me showed up on tape with designed outside runs. Between the tackles, he showed little elusiveness, and a similar issue I saw with former Buccaneer pick Jeremy McNichol is that Vaughn tended to make multiple cuts before turning upfield. Not a good thing. Unlike a glaring weakness I saw in McNichols’ complete inability to block, it’s an area where Vaughn succeeded with flying colors. This, along with his adequate pass catching abilities (28 receptions for 270 yards in 2019) will make him a valuable 3rd down back in the beginning of his career (assuming RoJo is anointed the feature back). There are some traits in a RB that can’t be coached, like vision. There are other things like running upright with high pad level, a weakness I frequently saw with Vaughn that can be taught. Vaughn crosses me as a valuable utility player who may get looks as a feature back should RoJo continue to struggle. The value was there with his 3rd round selection, but expectations for his upside should be kept in check.
Round 5, #161 Overall
Tyler Johnson (WR – Minnesota)
A lot of the Buccaneers crew is pretty high on the Tyler Johnson pick. Pro Football Focus (PFF) had him top 50 on their big board and a Round 2 grade. I just don’t see it. Not at all, in fact. For a guy who stands at a mere 6’1 and is expected to play slot receiver, his speed and separation stand out as glaring weaknesses on tape. What I do like however, is his footwork coming off the line. Most of the time he’d beat his receivers within the first 5-7 yards off the line, but when it came to the deep ball I didn’t see a lot of “wow” factor. Tyler Johnson, I think, will be a reserve WR, which is exactly what you want from a 5th round pick. But I don’t see him as the massive steal many other fans did.
Round 6, #194 Overall
Khalil Davis (DT – Nebraska)
Played alongside his twin brother Carlos at Nebraska (who went one round later to the Steelers). I watched Davis’s game against Wisconsin and he looked to me like he’d fit best as a backup 5-tech. Not particularly explosive with a slow first step, and there were numerous occasions when he did penetrate the backfield but had terrible angles on the RB. Mind you, he was playing against Jonathan Taylor and a stalwart OL, but you want to see flashes of brilliance, even against good competition. Did not see anything that made me say: “this guy’s going to make our final roster.”
Round 7, #241 Overall
Chapelle Russell (LB – Temple)
I was able to find little tape of Russell, but one area where I do trust Jason Licht is in his ability to scout LB’s. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Russell. I don’t.
Round 7, #245 Overall
Raymond Calais (RB – Louisiana Lafayette)
Calais’s best shot to make the roster will likely be as a return man, where he excelled at Louisiana Lafayette. Based on the limited tape I saw of him, I saw flashes of Felix Jones for his ability to get big gains off of draw plays in the shotgun. Obviously a longshot to make the roster.
27-24 Bucs (1-0)
Bucs pass rush finds a way to get to Brees. Fun fact: this will be the oldest matchup of QB’s ever in NFL history…until the Bucs play the Saints again in week 9.
34-20 Bucs (2-0)
Panthers are no doubt in rebuild mode right now. In the past two matchups, Bucs run game has managed to stifle Christian McAffrey. Keep an eye on rookie Yetur Gross-Matos. I think he’ll have a more immediate impact than even 1st round pick Derrick Brown.
37-28 Bucs (3-0)
Always a challenge to play at Mile High on the road, but I think the Bucs defense will manage to shut down a young and budding Broncos offense. On a Broncos note, I’ll never understand Jeudy being the 2nd WR off the board (let alone the 2nd Bama receiver taken). Best route runner I’ve seen enter the league since OBJ.
28-21 Chargers (3-1)
No, I’m not too high on Justin Herbert, but when the Bucs play a rookie QB, I’m usually prone to pick the other team. For some reason, no matter the Head Coach and/or defensive coordinator, the Bucs crumple into fetal position against rookies.
31-13 Bucs (4-1)
If Foles’ performance against the Bucs last year is any indication, they have his number. Pray that Mitch Trubisky doesn’t start. In his last outing against Tampa, he threw 6 TD’s. He did that as a rookie, mind you. Remember what I said about Bucs against rookie QB’s?
28-24 Packers (4-2)
Rumors of Aaron Rodgers’ demise are greatly exaggerated. It’s a team that’s just complete enough on both sides of the ball that I find it surprising so many are writing them off.
34-31 Bucs (5-2)
Here’s another team that is starting to form well under the cracker Mike Mayock. Raiders will be as good as Carr is in Gruden’s offense, and while he improved somewhat in Chucky’s offense by the end of year 2, this is a team at the tipping point between playoffs and an outright QB replacement.
37-17 Bucs (6-2)
Though rookie Daniel Jones (sense a trend here?) shredded the Bucs with gusto last year, Bucs run defense should be able to neutralize Saquon, and despite a good rookie showing, I don’t have much faith in the long term prospects of Daniel Jones.
20-17 Saints (6-3)
Can usually count on the Saints and Bucs to split the division series. And once again, the oldest QB matchup ever. Put on some episodes of MASH. Get your Bingo cards ready. It’s geriatric QB time.
41-21 Bucs (7-3)
Will there be a season by this point? I don’t know. But I still like the Bucs to sweep the series with the Panthers this season.
24-17 Rams (7-4)
Rams offense is all of a sudden looking less like the powerhouse it was from a few years ago, but their defense is still nasty. Aaron Donald will make any QB poop their pants, including Tom Brady. This will be a violent defensive battle and I think the Rams will take the edge.
37-27 Chiefs (7-5)
For years on NFL going back to his time at Texas Tech, I told you all to get on board the Mahomes canoe. Love seeing him already building his Madden legacy. I’m just not going to bet against him right now.
I have no way of confirming this, but I’m fairly certain during the bye week Bruce Arians clears out his office and runs an illegal cockfighting ring with his assistant coaches. You can’t convince me I’m wrong.
31-28 Bucs (8-5)
Vikings remain a balanced team on offense and defense and the Zim Zamm still can’t be flim flammed. Close game here that will be a defensive battle with a few big time plays on offense sprinkled in.
34-27 Falcons (8-6)
I’m glad to see Raheem Morris back in a DC position after seeing him work his way back up the coaching ranks. Always one of my favorite Buccaneer coaches despite his (many) flaws. I pick the Falcons in our first matchup because of one man and only one man: Julio Jones. Jones has now played a full 16 games in his career against Tampa, coming up with a staggering 116 catches for 1,841 yards and 11 TD’s. That’s cruelty.
41-14 Bucs (9-6)
I have a feeling by this point in the season, Fat Patricia will be one of the first Head Coaches fired and the Lions will be staffed by Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell. The Bucs will be playing a team with a wounded ego ready to be put down like Old Yeller.
28-3 Bucs (10-6)
Bucs fight hard to squeak into the playoffs, their first appearance since 2007.
Final Projection: Bucs win wild card, lose in the Divisional Round
Projected Starting Lineup & Analysis: Offense
QB- Tom Brady: See above analysis. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 4,438 yards, 67.1% completion percentage, 33 TD’s, 13 INT’s WR1 – Mike Evans: At only 26 years old, Mike Evans already sits at 128th all-time on the career receiving yards list, and has a chance to pass [checks notes] Michael Crabtree on the all-time list this season. In every season in the league, Evans has surpassed 1,000 yards and has become a hallmark of consistency, even with the suspect supporting cast around him. Having an accurate QB for the first time in his career will be a huge benefits to Evans. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 70 receptions, 1,213 yards, 6 TD’s WR2 – Chris Godwin: Godwin had a brilliant breakout last season, earning 2nd Team All-Pro honors (that probably would have been 1st team had his season not been cut short by injury). While Evans might be the bigger threat, Godwin is among the most complete receivers in the league. A fantastic route runner with sure hands—and perhaps his most overlooked quality is his blocking. Find me a WR who does it better right now. You won’t. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 77 receptions, 1,387 yards, 7 TD’s RB – Ronald Jones: RB is one of the few positions where fans can reasonably expect instant production from a player when he transitions from the college ranks to the pros. As a rookie, RoJo was a mega dud who could barely find the field in the Koetter era. He took a huge step forward in year 2 (724 yards, 4.2 ypc) but still often disappeared in games and lacked the pass protection skills that are so necessary in Arians’ offense. RoJo will have Vaughn to take off some of his workload, but I still see RoJo as one of the weakest links on an otherwise complete offense. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 808 Rushing yards (4.2 YPC), 5 TD’s TE – Rob Gronkowski: See above analysis. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 41 receptions, 614 yards, 6 TD’s LT – Donovan Smith: Donovan Smith provides as much protection as Jeffrey Epstein’s guards when he was on suicide watch. While Tom Brady tends to release the ball far faster than Winston, the Arians offense designed for Brady better be getting the ball out fast. 43 year old QB’s aren’t meant to take the kinds of hits Winston did. Let’s hope that Tristan Wirfs is able to prove himself a viable option on the left side. We’ll be able to get out of Donovan Smith’s contract after this season with no cap ramifications. On a side note, there’s a decent change Donovan Smith will opt out of his contract due to Covid concerns. And I wouldn’t blame him one bit. LG – Ali Marpet: Marpet continues to be the most reliable piece of our OL. Like Lavonte, a continually unheralded player who you can rely on to go toe-to-toe with the league’s best interior DL while manhandling the dregs of the NFL. I thought last season would be Marpet’s shot at a 2nd Team All-Pro, but he was passed over once again. Love Marpet. C – Ryan Jensen: Jensen’s first year with the team was free agent bust material. He seemed to thrive more in the Arians offense and we saw marked improvement in all facets of his game last year. Overpaid for his value? Definitely. Living up more and more to the contract we gave him? Yup. RG – Alex Cappa: When Jason Licht rolled the dice on small school Humboldt State product Alex Cappa, he may have been expecting the next Ali Marpet. In his first full season as a starter, there were things to be encouraged by and I’m a little more bullish on Cappa than most of the fan base. Though he allowed 31 pressures on 562 pass snaps (roughly 6% pressure rate), I saw Cappa’s confidence growing as the season went on. His third season will tell us what his true ceiling in this league is. Right now, his floor isn’t Garrett Gilkey, but his ceiling ain’t Earl Grey. RT – Tristan Wirfs: See above analysis.
Projected Starting Lineup & Analysis: Defense
EDGE – Sack Ferret: The Sack Ferret was brought on a 1 year, $4 million deal last season. I predicted he’d be a 5.5 sack guy and then probably hit free agency again. Just like we all expected, he went off and led the league in sacks with 19.5 (more than his previous five years in the league combined) and earned himself the franchise tag. Barrett has quickly become a fan favorite, and while I don’t see him replicating his majestic 2019 season, I still think he’ll be the same terror he’s been off the edge. Probably wrong projected stats: 12.5 sacks. 0-Tech - Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea: Running on the Buccaneers in 2019 was damn near impossible, so much so that the team only allowed 73.8 rushing yards per game. That success started up front with Vita Vea, who has quickly emerged as the league’s top 0-tech. Unfortunately, like his forefathers in Vince Wilfork and Casey Hampton, he’s likely to spend his career as a valuable defensive cog who receives few to no career accolades due to the “unsexiness” of being a two-gap space eating defender. So NFL, here’s a homework assignment for you. Watch Vea on All-22 if you have some time while on Covid lockdown. You will see one of the most absurdly athletic big men in the league who is your definition of immovable object. His progress last year was a joy to watch and he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite players. Oh, and he’s the best TE on the Bucs. By far. Probably wrong projected stats: 2.5 sacks, 2 receiving TD’s. 5-Tech – Ndamukong Suh: We brought Suh back on another 1 year deal. No, he’s not the player he once was (he’s even refrained from curbstomping genitals in Tampa…so far), but his attitude he sets on the field has been a welcome change compared to the namby-pamby milquetoasts on our DL from the past. Suh’s value will come mostly in the run game. His sack producing days are long gone. Probably wrong projected stats: 3.5 sacks. EDGE – Jason Pierre-Paul: It’s [checks notes] August, and Jason Pierre-Paul hasn’t had an offseason accident. Praise the football Gods. Despite starting in only 8 games last year due to a serious auto accident, JPP managed 8.5 sacks. At 31, father time hasn’t quite caught up with him yet. Probably wrong projected stats: 9.5 sacks. ILB – Lavonte David: The good part of Lavonte David bouncing inside last season to Will is that he no longer got grouped in the same bucket as sack-producing 3-4 OLB’s who beat him out for All-Pro nods nearly every year. Even at 30, Lavonte only seems to be getting better, and his instincts and smarts continue to essential to the defense. Though Lavonte is one half of the Mike tandem and has been one of the league’s best LB’s’ for all of 8 seasons, I don’t think he’s going to be the centerpiece stud. Keep Devin White’s name at the forefront of your mind, which leads me to... Probably wrong projected stats: 3.5 sacks, 3 INT’s ILB – Devin “Get Live 45” White: If you’ve read any of my posts here for the last 5+ years, you would see I don’t take a blind homer approach with player evaluation. Not once have I predicted a Buccaneer would win the MVP award, nor have I predicted a Buccaneer would win DPOY. In fact, only once have I ever predicted we’d be a playoff team. Now that preamble is done, let me say it outright: Devin White is going to win Defensive Player of the Year in Year 2.What? Mikes never win, you say. And you’d be mostly correct. In fact, Vegas odds don’t even have Devin White listed in their top 10. Here’s what I saw from Devin White in the last half of his rookie season: an absolutely insane nose for forcing the fumble, excellent pass rush abilities, and smarts that put him in the backfield often before the RB even had the ball in his hands. I saw enough from him to believe his leap in year 2 is going to be similar to that of Luke Kuechly’s where he won DPOY in his second year in the league. Wherever the ball is, Devin White will be there. You’re going to see one of the league’s dominant defensive enforcers for a long, long time. Probably wrong projected stats: 6.0 sacks, 5 INT’s, 6 FF’s. FS – Antoine Winfield Jr.:See above analysis. I think we’re also going to see Justin Evans get cutProbably wrong projected stats: 2.0 sacks, 2 INT’s SS – Jordan Whitehead: Jordan White is the most underrated player on the Buccaneers defense, in my eyes. No, not Lavonte, because people talk about how underrated he is all the time to the point he’s not so underrated anymore. Whitehead’s mistakes went down drastically last year and he has a knack for being where the football is. Really like him and could see some big plays from him this season. Probably wrong projected stats: 1.0 sacks, 3 INT’s CB – Carlton Davis: Bruce Arians doesn’t give empty praise, but he recently called Carlton Davis a top ten CB in the league, an assessment I’m inclined to agree with. He was battle tested big time in year 2, getting targeted 105 times and only allowing 52.4% of those balls thrown his way to be completed. He was able to shadow the best, and his 18 pass breakups are indicative of a guy with great awareness. And the funny thing is, he’s not even the CB I’m highest on with this roster. Probably wrong projected stats: 4 INT’s CB – Jamel Dean: For a guy who came in as a 3rd round rookie, Dean exceeded expectations and then some. His first game as a starter came against the Seahawks, there’s no sugarcoating it—he got owned. But what I saw was a guy who stayed stride for stride with his receiver with little help over the top. By the end of his rookie season, he was looking like a shutdown corner. This is the CB I’m most excited for in 2020. Kid’s got a bright future. Probably wrong projected stats: 3 INT’s CB – Sean Murphy-Bunting: When I’m wrong, I admit I’m helluh wrong, and with Murphy-Bunting, I was helluh wrong. Yes, it’s been only one season and things could still go south, but I was baffled when we passed on Greedy Williams in favor of SMB.
Non-Buccaneer Predictions for the Season
My 2018 breakout player prediction was Patrick Mahomes. Last year, it was Joshua Jacobs and Corey Davis (oops). This year, you need to watch J.K. Dobbins (rookie, Baltimore), N’Keal Harry (2nd year, NE). Perhaps not a true breakout, but I think Calvin Ridley will surpass 1,000 yards and become an even bigger complement to Julio Jones.
MVP will go to Russ Wilson. DPOY will go to Devin White (and if you’ve been reading these posts long enough you know I don’t usually go the homer approach). OPOY will go to Patrick Mahomes. COTY will go to Cliff Kingsbury.
The NFC Championship will be played between the 49ers and the Cowboys. The Cowboys will win. The AFC Championship will be played between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. The Chiefs will win. The Chiefs will repeat in the Super Bowl, defeating the Cowboys.
Last year I wrote: “Sam Darnold isn’t going to amount to much as an NFL QB. Not this year, and probably not ever.” I’ll repeat it this year too. But let me add one guy to that list: Tua Tagovailoa.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire isn’t the superstar you think he is. I think his career will wind up like Joseph Addai’s: a guy who had a few flash in the pan seasons but never among the top backs. That’s not a bad thing, I would just cool expectations on him.
The teams with the highest potential to land a top 5 pick, in no particular order: Lions, Jaguars, the Washington Football team (I feel like an idiot even typing that), Bears, Jets. Dark Horse: Eagles.
Coaches who have the hottest seats: Fat Patricia, Dan Quinn, Adam Gase, Doug Marrone, Bill O’Brien (as coach and GM).
Shoutouts to my fellow mods on Buccaneers and NFL. It's a pleasure working with you all every day and shooting the shit with dank memes. And of course, much love to platypusofdeath who puts an insane amount of work into this series every year. Thank you for all you do.
Hello Friends, Over in the Fg Discord this season we have put together a game guide each week where each day we look a little deeper into the upcoming matchup. It begins with a short recap of the prior game and moves forward from there. If you are not yet in the discord, please join us! We'd love to have you. We have daily discussions on recruiting, analysis, and most of the time we just hang out and chat Florida Gators. Discord Invite Link Without further ado, the Game Guide. Let us know what you think and if you have any ideas or feedback, we'd love to hear it. Special thanks to Chitowngator and Eric-UF for their contributions this week. Week 1 Recap Week 4 of Football, Week 1 of SEC play had the Gators kicking off against Ole Miss in the Grove. Your Florida Gators took care of business with a final score of 51-35. Coming into the game Oddsshark, had the line for this game at -13.5, with an estimated scoreline of Florida 41.5 - 23.6 Ole Miss. Turns out that was pretty close, although if you bet on the "over" you'd be a definite winner. This game was nearly a shootout due to "lack of availability" for the Gators on defense for several key players, including an early game ejection of starting safety Shawn Davis. Other notable absences were Stewart and Campbell. Ole Miss came out quick early and Lane Kiffin showed he had a few tricks up his sleeve. Even these tricks were no match for the dueling Kyles of the Gators, who lit up Ole Miss like a Christmas candle. Don't you love fall? The Gators were never in any real danger, however, and played multiple freshmen throughout the game, getting valuable experience on key targets such as Bogle, Whittemore, and more. The Gators were rewarded for their effort Sunday by a #3 ranking in both the AP and Coaches Poll, seeing Georgia and Oklahoma fall in the poll. Stat leaders were as follows: Passing: Kyle Trask - 30/42 - 416 Yards - 9.9 AVG - 6:0 TD:Int - 93.4 QBR Rushing: Kadarius Toney - 2 Carries for 55 Yards - 27.5 AVG - Long of 50, Dameon Pierce - 9 Carries for 54 Yards - 6.0 AVG., Malik Davis - 7 Carries for 49 Yards - 7.0 AVG. Note: On throws 20+ yards downfield, Kyle Trask went 4 for 5, 126 Yards, and 4 TDs. It was an explosive night for anyone named "Kyle". Defensively, here's some stats of note: Ventrell Miller - 15 Tackles (13 solo), 1 Sack, 2 TFL Brenton Cox - 8 Tackles (4 solo), 1 Sack, 2.5 TFL 1 Interception - Gervon Dexter - Forced by Brenton Cox Team Stats: 3rd Down Efficiency - UF: 6 for 10. Ole Miss: 9 for 14 (0-1 on 4th Down) Penalties - 4 for 40 yards. Time of Possession - 33:29 UF to 26:31 Ole Miss Total Yards: UF - 642, Ole Miss - 613 Total Rushing: 29 Carries for 196 Yards - Good for 6.8 Yards per Rushing Total Passing: 31 for 45 for 446 Yards - Good for 9.9 Yards per Pass. The FG Discord Mod team has selected a few players from the game as their "Player of the Game". They are as follows: Zlat: To avoid spoiling the podcast, this selection has been redacted, and will be updated at podcast release Stev: Offensively, my pick has to be Trask. It was always going to be Trask or Pitts but they are two sides of the same coin. Does one have as much success without the other? Defensively, I have to go with Cox. He played up to the expectation of the #1 Jersey to me and my pick reflects it as such. Chitown: "Defense - Ventrell Miller was a dominating force and added a sack as well. He helped anchor down a few of our bigger defensive stops. Most improved player - KT. Seemed to have dedicated himself to learning routes and looked much more complete than his previous plays. Can actually play a vital role in the offense instead of being used in gadget-type plays." Toph:To avoid spoiling the podcast, this selection has been redacted, and will be updated at podcast release Matchup Preview This week, the Gators host South Carolina who are coming off a defeat to Tennesee 31-27. Tennessee almost blew a 2-TD lead but Gamecocks weren't able to close it out. Will South Carolina have a rebound, or a slump? Some stats of note South Carolina is dealing with a QB situation, much like other teams in the SEC.. They started Colin Hill, a journeyman Senior who was pedestrian at best. He put up a statline of 25 for 39, 290 Yards - 7.4 AVG 1:1 TD-Int ratio and a QBR of 51.1 His rushing stats were far less impressive due to 4 sacks given up. On the receiving end, though, Senior Shi Smith had himself a night with 10 receptions for 140 yards and a TD. He could have a similar game to Elijah Moore if the UF DB's don't figure out the gameplan quickly. South Carolina struggled heavily to run the ball against the Tennesee DL. The team only put up 89 rushing yards with a 2.5 AVG and a long of 13. They were able, however, to punch it in from close twice for 2 TDs. The matchup has opened as high as -22.5 Florida on some sites but has settled down to -19.5 according to Oddsshark. What are your key things to look for in this game? I would watch the Defensive adjustments to see how they handle a lesser offense. There's a good chance Ole Miss was the best offense we'll face all season. Will the younger DBs pickup the scheme? Will we stunt more on the DL? There's no doubt the offense will continue to fly high and have success with the attention Kyle Pitts commands. What are your predictions? Personally, I'm guessing 41-17. Today's write-up on players to watch provided by chitowngator USCjr Names to Watch Out For Offense QB - Collin Hill (Grad Transfer)* Stephen Garcia Collin Hill is a graduate transfer that arrived at USCjr from Colorado State, following over the Cocks' new Offensive Coordinator, Mike Bobo. Beating out last year's starter, Ryan Hilinski, Hill previously was the starter at CSU, before getting injured 3 games into the 2019 campaign with his 3rd ACL tear. Against Tennessee, he threw for 290 yards with a 64% completion rate, tacking on a touchdown and a tipped pass that resulted in a pick-six. Look for Hill to stretch the defense North/South and attack the middle of the field, especially after the tape we put against Ole Miss. Against Rocky Top, Hill had 5 completions over 20 yards, including 3 to Shi Smith. WR - Shi Smith (Senior To say Shi Smith was USCjr's offense on Saturday is an understatement. Smith caught 13 of the 25 total completed passes for a whopping 140 yards, including a 29 yard touchdown. After losing Bryan Edwards to the NFL, Smith is the only returning receiver at South Carolina with any meaningful offensive production (43 receptions, 489 yards). Look for Mike Bobo to use Smith's breakaway speed to beat Florida over the top, like Exhibit A(Fade route, man-to-man coverage), Exhibit B(skinny post into double coverage), and Exhibit C(post route) RB - Kevin Harris (Sophomore) Following the departures of seniors Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster, Harris is stepping in to replace the highly-touted freshman RB Marshawn Lloyd, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in late August. Harris is a physical runner who won't hesitate to try and bowl over an opponent. Harris received the majority of the carries against Tennessee, rushing for 55 yards on 13 carries, and adding a touchdown. You can also expect to see additional carries split between Deshaun Fenwick and Zaquandre White, as this running back by committee approach combined for 26 of USC's 31 rushing attempts, amassing 105 yards in the process. Defense CB - Israel Mukuamu (Junior) Mukuamu's breakout moment came last year in USCjr's victory over UGA, where he picked off Jake Fromm 3 times, including this beauty of a pick-six, where Mukuamu made Fromm look like the giant baby that he really is. Last weekend, Mukuamu experienced a groin injury, forcing him out of the game in the second half against Tennessee. While South Carolina returns a relatively experienced secondary in Jaycee Horn (CB, Jr), RJ Roderick (S, Jr), and Jammie Robinson (CB, So, 2019 SEC All-Freshman), they lack depth as corner Cam Smith (RS-Fr) replaced him. DT - Kingsley (JJ) Enagbare (Junior) Enagbare was easily the defensive player of the game against Tennessee. In the contest, he had 9 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, including 2 sacks and a forced fumble. As he worked more snaps than any of USC's other defensive tackles, expect him to step up to take the place of 1st round draft pick, Javon Kinlaw. Here's a video of him putting the lockdown on GuantanamoBay last weekend to force the Vols to punt. You can also expect contributions from Keir Thomas (DT, RS-Sr), Aaron Sterling(DE, Sr), as well as highly ranked 5* underclassmen Zacch Pickens (DT, So), and Jordan Burch (DE, Fr). Talent/Position Group Comparison Thanks to our friend Eric-UF, we've gotten a talent comparison (as seen on the sub in prior seasons) of the upcoming matchup for South Carolina. Today, we'll just look at one position group vs. one poisition group. As a recap, the talent ratings are adjusted to account for experience from a freshmen to senior level. The Raw ratings are not. As many saw and have debated about in length since last week's game, our defense struggled a bit against the Ole Miss up-tempo offense and a scrambling QB. The good news is Collin Hill shouldn't be running on us like Corral did. The bad news is that he's not a terrible quarterback. He's no Drew Lock, though. He's pretty pedestrian but he does have the experience, as he's a senior and has been in college football long enough to be average. As seen here Our DBs are at an adjusted 0.861 talent level compared to a 0.908 raw, which means we are very young in the defensive back field. South Carolina's receivers are boasting a 0.901 raw, 0.841 adjusted. Just like us, they have talent receivers who just need a bit more time in college football. We spoke earlier about Shi Smith - He's the dangerous one. This comes out to be a Draw, or if nothing else a very slight Florida edge for the Florida DB's. This should be a fantastic learning experience against an SEC opponent for our young backfield.
Division: NFC West Record: 9-7 (3rd in Division, 7th in Conference) After a wildly successful 2019 season, the Los Angeles Rams had high hopes for 2020. It was truly Super Bowl or bust for the team, and unfortunately as high as the expectations were the end result was disappointment almost as high. Despite the shortcomings (and media doubt), the team is still in great shape to have another great year and playoff hopes are completely within shooting distance. Here's a brief summary of some of the positives and negatives on the 2019 season. Positives
Over half of our draft class showed real signs of being potential starters for 2020. Bobby Evans and David Edwards stepped in due to injuries and had success. Taylor Rapp was one of the leagues best rookie defenders, and will definitely start in 2020. David Long Jr filled in due to injury occasionally through the year and showed a glimpse of the player he could be after some development.
Cooper Kupp emerging as a potential top 10 WR. I'm just going to lean into the joke, because the dude is honestly the scrappiest WR we've had in a long time, and he puts in serious work. He can make a decent argument for being in the conversation as the best route runner in the NFL.
Despite the season being a disappointment as mentioned above, the fact that as a Rams fan I can look at a year where we went 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs as a disappointment has to be viewed as a positive. I've been a fan for my entire life, and wallowing in the years from 2006-2016 has been pretty rough. To have expectations again is nice.
Jared Goff, the most frustrating QB next to Jameis Winston. His rookie year can hardly be counted against him, so after seeing him have a pretty successful 2017 and then a flat out great 2018 was tremendous, and really set the bar high in 2019. To be frank, Jared Goff managed to disappoint in many games this year. Almost off of this disappointment can be attributed to overconfidence rather than bad decisions. Goff doesn't have an issue reading defenses consistently rather he has an issue with thinking he can fit throws in tight windows that he can't consistently place. Taking what the defense gives him has been a problem for Goff throughout his career and in 2019 it was on full display.
We had one of the most predictable defenses in 2019, and having star players like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey would rightfully make fans think some level of razzle dazzle could be drawn up. We never really saw that in 2019 and teams took advantage.
Our run game never could be consistently established. Our offense starts with the OL and the zone blocking scheme, and with the decline of Todd Gurley, and many injuries sustained on the OL, the run game could hardly ever get established.
2020 Coaching Staff/Changes
Name (* indicates new coach)
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach
Assistant Defensive Line Coach/Defensive Quality Control
Special Teams Coordinator*
Previously with the Detroit Lions
Running Backs Coach*
Previously with the South Carolina Gamecocks
Assistant Quarterbacks Coach
Previously WRs coach
Defensive Quality Control*
Previously Akron CBs Coach
Assistant Offensive Line Coach
Defensive Line Coach
Run Game CoordinatoOffensive Line Coach
Offensive Quality Control
Assistant to the Head Coach
insert The Office joke here
Previously with the Washington REDACTED
Tight Ends Coach
Assistant Wide Receivers Coach
Was Assistant QB coach in 2019
Outside Linebackers Coach
Previously with the Denver Broncos as OLB Coach
Pass Game Coordinator
Wide Receivers Coach
The loss of Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is a bummer, but something that was absolutely needed. This series I believe was the nail in the coffin for Wade's tenure with the Rams. And while the man has a historic legacy as a coach, ultimately he has a noticeable trend of running the same schemes and without much adjusting throughout the season, and opposing teams inevitably catch on to what he's doing and they counter. This same trend seemed to happen Denver as well. There is no doubt that the son of Bum will be missed, but ultimately I think Wade's hire was primarily to serve as a mentor for McVay while he figured out what it was like to be a head coach in the NFL. Now that McVay has three full seasons under his belt, that need is no longer there. Brandon Staley can be the energy the Rams defense desperately needs, and he could provide a similar spark that McVay set off when he first arrived.
The bigger bummer is the loss of Special Teams Coordinator John "Bones" Fassell. I know what you're thinking, how can a STC possible be more valuable than the legendary Wade Phillips? Coach Bones had been our STC since 2012, as well as serving as interim head coach in 2016 after the firing of Jeff Fisher. Bones was a true leader of men, and is in the conversation of the best STC in the league. In memorandum of this loss, I want to share my all time favorite Coach Bones moment
Free Agent Signings and Departures
3 y31.5 million
3 y30 million
1 y3.9 million
2 y17 million
1 y10 million
3 y7.5 million
1 y5.5 million
Dante Fowler Jr
3 y30 million
Las Vegas Raiders
3 y36 million
New York Jets
1 y2 million
1 y1 million
1 y1.35 million
Lets start our discussion with the departures, because we lost a lot of key starters. Dante Fowler, Cory Littleton, Clay Mathew, and Eric Weddle were four starters on our defense, with NRC being our primary slot DB. Weddle was more of a leader than an anchor on defense, and did a remarkable job mentoring his replacement in rookie Taylor Rapp. Clay Mathews had a nice season but at his age is certainly replaceable. What isn't going to be replaceable is Cory Littleton, who might be one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL. His coverage ability is going to be sorely missed and leaves the linebacker room, which was already weak, almost defunct. The strategy regarding our free agent signings is a little mysterious. In early free agency we signed Floyd and Robinson, which filled two holes left by Fowler and Brockers, who had originally signed with the Baltimore Ravens. A few weeks afterwards Brockers offer was rescinded by the Ravens, and he resigned at a lofty amount. This effectively leaves the team with a log jam at defensive tackle, with two DTs that do virtually the same thing to be paired with Aaron Donald. I'll explain later in this post how I think our defense might look, but it's certainly a puzzling signing. Resigning Whitworth, in what should be his final contract, is a nice bonus even if it was for another larger than anticipated deal. It gives our numerous young OL talent a wonderful vet to learn from, and despite media reports our offensive line room actually isn't bad. It's just incredibly young, and we have many sophomores who look to make jumps this year.
2020 Draft Class/Undrafted Free Agents
Cam Akers and Van Jefferson are the only players on offensive who should make an immediate impact. Akers could battle for the starting position with Gurley out, and Jefferson could battle Josh Reynolds for WR3. The intriguing pick is Terrell Lewis, who could have been a 1st rounder if healthy. He fills a major need at EDGE for the team, and if he works out will be a massive value pick. Brycen Hopkins will battle with Johnny Mundt for the final TE spot, which may be a tall order given Mundt's proficiency on special teams. But he's a good prospect to replace Gerald Everett, who will demand a larger contract next year. Tremayne Anchrum is probably a longshot to make the team, especially with no preseason games considering we have a logjam of OL prospects with Bobby Evans, David Edwards, Joe Notebloom, among others. For more information on the UDFA list, check out this link. The interesting choices are Easop Winston, Josh Love, and Bryce Perkins. Easop I think may have a decent shot at making the roster, while Josh Love and Bryce Perkins may be able to battle it out for the backup position. The Rams will look to shed future salary cap space where ever possible, and both players have decent ceilings and could be a cheap backup alternative for Goff, but both will have to usurp AAF legend John Wolford who is the leader in the clubhouse.
Projected Depth Chart/Scheme Changes
Offense (* indicates rookie)
The first thing that I envision changing for this Rams offensive is to break out of our traditional 11 personnel into more 11 or 22 based packages. Sean McVay has made no secret about our change to a running back by committee team, which makes sense given the different types of backs we have on the roster. Malcom Brown probably gets the start due to his veteran presence, and because he's a traditional runner of the football. But Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson are both Alvin Kamara-like backs and can open things up for McVay to get more creative. An interesting camp battle will be to see who makes it at wide receiver. Kupp, Woods, Reynolds, Jefferson, and Webster are all locks to make the team, but we will probably carry 6-7 on the roster. I'm partial to Easop Winston and Trishton Jackson to fill those voids but other guys like JJ Koski could also impress and camp and make an impact. As the season goes on, the Rams are going to hope that at least one of these rookies can manage to impress enough to replace Josh Reynolds, as both him and Cooper Kupp are in contract years and we probably won't be able to afford to resign both. On the offensive line front, I'm really excited to see the development that Bobby Evans, Joe Notebloom, and David Edwards show. Make no mistake, if our team is to have flexibility moving forward it is absolutely vital that one, if not all three, of these guys pan out. Luckily, due to injury Bobby Evans and David Edwards were given starting jobs and performed really well all things considered. Evans in particular was given the task to block Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack and really held those guys to minimal impact. As a quick update, the only member of the team to opt out of the 2020 season is OL Chandler Brewer, who was probably a good bet to make the team as a backup OL. In his place I slot Jamil Demby who's been a prospect on the team for what seems like a decade. In any other year, I'd slot a rookie to take over that slot but given the lack of a structured offseason I think the team stays with someone familiar for another year. Defense (* indicates rookie)
David Long Jr
John Johnson III
Our biggest change in identity is going to come from the defensive side of the ball. Losing Wade Phillips is a huge blow to the leadership of the team, but newcomer Brandon Staley may be able to provide a McVay-like spark in ingenuity that provides results. The way that the Rams targeted safeties in the draft, and avoided a massive need in linebacker, makes me believe that we are transitioning to a DB let system similar our neighbors in the LA Chargers. If you do film study on the Chargers, you can see them run a package that consists of 7 DBs occasionally, which works well when you have physical safeties like Derwin James. Luckily for us, we have two incredibly physical guys in Johnson and Rapp, and with the team clearly focusing on DBs I think its in the cards for us to roll this package out in 2020. One area that might be a struggle for us is going to be our defensive line, and generating pressure via the pass rush. Luckily again, we have the greatest defensive player in the NFL and the greatest defensive tackle of all time on our team. Another fortunate circumstance is that we no longer will be marred by Wade Phillips conservative play calling, and in fact may be able to use DC Brandon Staley's expertise as an OLB coach to get improvement out of guys like Okoronkwo and Ebukam, In free agency we signed A'Shawn Robinson, who paired with Michael Brockers can be a force against the run, but neither player is a threat to rush the passer. Leonard Floyd, another free agent signing, is another guy who is strong against the run but struggles in pass rush. This area of defense will be key to the success of the team, and these guys are gonna have to find ways outside of relying on Aaron Donald to generate pressure. Special Teams (* indicates rookie)
Losing Greg Zuerline is going to hurt, and he will always have a place in Rams history for making clutch kicks in the 2018 NFC Championship game. But he grew inconsistent especially inside the 40 yard line, and struggled with injuries since 2017. We drafted Sam Sloman in 2020 but also have two decent UDFA that will compete for the starting job..
Projected Game Results
Week 1: Win (1-0) Dallas Cowboys @ Rams - NBC Sunday Night Football Opening the season at the new SoFi stadium, with potentially no fans is going to be an odd experience. The last time the Rams beat dem boyz was in the 2018 Divisional round of the playoffs. Both teams will struggle early to find continuity, and I'd expect a relatively low scoring, run heavy game. In the end I think the Rams will get the season off to a good start with a win. Rams 24 Cowboys 17 Week 2: Win (2-0) Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles - FOX 10am PST We should finally get to see Goff vs Wentz healthy in full game for the first time. The Eagles have beat the Rams both times they've played Sean McVay, and I think they get things back on track in 2020. I believe our strength at the DL and DBs will be able to effectively manage the weaknesses of the Eagles WRs and aging OL, though the key will probably be Zach Ertz. Rams 30 Eagles 28 Week 3: Loss (2-1) Rams @ Buffalo Bills - FOX 10am PST Our first stumble will come against an underrated team in the Bills. I think having two close games in a row to open the season will leave the team waiting for a crash, and how else to crash than by facing what might be the best defense in the NFL. I expect Tre White and the rest of the secondary to handle Goff and company in a convincing loss. Bills 23 Rams 10 Week 4: Win (3-1) New York Giants @ Rams - FOX 1:05PST Home sweet home, the Rams get back on track with a convincing win over a struggling Giants team. I'll predict an offensive explosion from Goff, somewhere around 400 yds and 4 TDs in a blow out win. Sorry Giants fans, nothing personal. I'm expecting an early struggle for this Giants team as it adjusts to new coach, young QB, with little prep time.Rams 42 Giants 16 Week 5: Win (4-1) Rams @ Washington [REDACTED] - FOX 10amPST I think this gsme is much closer than most might expect. The [REDACTED] are my surprise pick of the year, I have them winning the NFC East. An already tenacious defense led by Ron Rivera and gaining a bona-fide star in Chase Young is going to be fun to watch. I think the key to this game will be quick passes to avoid that ferocious defensive line as much as possible. Rams 24 [REDACTED] 21 Week 6: Loss (4-2) Rams @ San Fransisco 49ers - NBC Sunday Night Football As much as I want to win this game, I think Shanny and those fucks take this one from us. Divisional games tend to be unpredictable and chaotic, and while I do think we split the series with them, being on the road for this one isn't going to favor us. Its going to be interesting to see how DC Brandon Staley chooses to defend Kittle. I dont think shadowing him with Ramsey is the best play, perhaps it's a combination of jamming him at the LOS and covering him in zone. Either way, its a tall order for whoever gets that assignment. 49ers 31 Rams 25 Week 7: Win (5-2) Chicago Bears @ Rams - ESPN Monday Night Football As it stands, McVay will be 1-1 on the year in prime time games. His record as a coach is , which leads me to believe he'll have an edge in winning this one. Of course the Ram fucker Foles might be in at QB, which could spell disaster for our team. I think that our offensive prowess will shine during this long week, and we win in convincing fashion. Rams 36 Bears 20 Week 8: Win (6-2) Rams @ Miami Dolphins - FOX 10am PST We continue this offensive success against a team that will probably be pretty good defensively. HC Tom Flores is a Bill Belichek disciple who learned something important from his former mentor; acquire as many great DBs as you can. The improved secondary will make things tough for Goff and gang, but ultimately working with a rookie QB is going to be hard against a defense with all pros scattered around it. Rams 17 Dolphins 0 ' Week 9: BYE Week 10: Win (7-2) Seattle Seahawks @ Rams - FOX 1:25PST And entering the second half of the season we have our first three game winning streak. Coming off a bye week will give McBae ample time to prepare for a Seahawks team thay frankly will have a struggling offensive line and holes on its defense. Even with Jamal Adams, I expect this team to take a step back in 2020. Rams 31 Seahawks 17 Week 11: Loss (7-3) Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers - ESPN Monday Night Football Facing the best offensive weapons in the league is going to be a tough order for any team this season. Now that they have a QB that will make effective, eccifient decisions this Bucs team should take off. I dont think its particularly close, this is a complete team on both sides of the ball. Bucs 28 Rams 10 Week 12: Win (8-3) San Fransisco 49ers @ Rams - FOX 1:05PST The winning continues as the team really clicks into high gear. A brutal NFC West game will likely be a repeat of Week 6, but with a few more bounces going our way. Being at home will be a helpful factor. Rams 26 49ers 24 Week 13: Win (9-3) Rams @ Arizona Cardinals - FOX 1:05PST If there is any team in the league that McVay can be relied on to spank, its the Cardinals. McVay has yet to be beat by the team in his tenure with the Rams and I expect that to continue at least through this week. Despite a huge game from future MVP Kyler Murray, the Rams prevail, improving to 9-3 Week 14: Loss (9-4) New England Patriots @ Rams - FOX/NFLN/Amazon Thursday Night Football A short week against Belichek spells doom for almost every team, and McVay will continue his struggles against the GOAT. The Pats defense was able to throw Goff off his game on the Super Bowl a few years ago, I expect we see more of this on Thursday. Week 15: Loss (9-5) New York Jets @ Rams - TBD Every team had one puzzling loss, and this matchup with the Jets is ours for the year. I dont expect the Jets to have a grest year but I do think Sam Darnold is universally underappreciated and will have a great game against us. Week 16: Loss (9-6) Rams @ Seattle Seahawks - CBS 1:05PST And we are really ending the year on a slump. Losing to the Seahawks this late in the year isn't great for our playoff hopes, but its always a tall order to go into Seattle and leave with a W. This game may he one of the most important games going into the playoffs and I wont be surprised to see it get flexed. Week 17: Win (10-6) Arizona Cardinals @ Rams - FOX 1:25PST Luckily for us we end the season against our little cousins, and use this opportunity to get our chakras realigned. This game will move us into the 6th seed and bounce Arizona into the 7th seed, becoming the first division in history to have every team make the playoffs.
I think people have forgotten that the Rams were a mkssed field goal away from making the playoffs last year, and thats with playing very sloppy through most games. The only thing holding this team back is the fact that they play in the toughest division in football. I think that Goff has a bounce back year and ends up a top 10 QB for the season. This season will be critical for McVay to really show the new coaches and players that he's capable of not only calling proficient offense but leading an entire team of players. It will be an interesting season, so make sure to wear your damn mask so it actually happens. Thank you for reading, and bless all the knees and keep them healthy!! Thanks for reading!! Bless all the knees and keep them healthy. Link to hub
Offseason Review Series: The 2020 Indianapolis Colts
Division: AFC South
Colts lost defensive line coach Mike Phair to the Panthers and replaced him with Brian Baker who is most recently out of Alabama. Mike Groh reunites with Frank Reich as he was hired as wide receivers coach, while Patullo moved to the role of pass game specialist to accommodate. Tyler Boyles was signed on as the assistant to the head coach to replace Parks Frazier who is moving to offensive quality control coach.
New York Jets
New York Jets
Adam hasn’t officially announced his retirement, but I doubt he comes back to the NFL. He struggled throughout the year before going on IR. Geathers is a great character guy who began the season as the starting strong safety, but slowly lost reps to the impressive rookie Khari Willis. Haeg is the only guy the Colts probably wanted back as he’s a capable backup at all five slots on the line. Sheard is getting up there in age, Ebron seems to have made a business decision, and Funchess was the worst affected in the week one Claviclysm when injured his clavicle alongside Hill and Foles while being the only one to miss the rest of the season. Pierre Desir was an unexpected cut this offseason after playing well enough through the year despite playing through an injury. Quincy Wilson was traded to the Jets after a few disappointing seasons. Players signed
Let’s start with Philip Rivers. It’s clear that Jacoby Brissett is not the guy and the Colts had to make a choice. They went with a player that both head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni have worked with previously, which may be quite valuable as we implement the offense during a shortened offseason. Regardless, Philip underwent a dramatic statistical drop last year. I think he’s still got juice left in him and can make a great deal of good throws if he has a decent amount of room in the pocket. If you have some time, I recommend this video by The Scouting Academy featuring former offensive coordinator turned quarterback guru Steve Fairchild. While DeForest Buckner was not technically a free agent, he was a massive departure from the Chris Ballard modus operandi of building through the draft. The team desperately needed a 3T and they traded their first round pick for one of the best in the league. Joining him will be recent teammate Sheldon Day who will likely take over quite a few snaps at the 1T. Xavier Rhodes was signed on almost immediately after cutting Pierre Desir. He certainly seemed physically incapable of doing what was asked of him last year. Some players have called out the scheme change as a reason that Rhodes might return to form. Personally, I don’t quite see it and think his primary value on the team might be on using his intelligence as a veteran presence in a young CB room. Of the remaining three, Trey Burton seems like a lock at TE2 after an injury filled stint with the Bears. Roosevelt Nix is an interesting choice as I expect him to continue his heavily blocking role he played with the Steelers as well as pick up a few more rushing snaps than he did with the Steelers as we lack a true fullback. Carrie is a guy that has a chance at being the backup slot behind Kenny Moore, but I don’t think he’s secured a spot yet.
Michael Pittman Jr, WR, USC 2.34 Grade: A This man just feels like a Colt. He’s a physical player and will immediately slot in as Philip River’s YOLO target. He’s got great size and uses it well both in positioning himself against a receiver to win the ball as well as using his frame and forcing his way down field. Even on truly contested catches, he has great hands with only 5 drops against 176 catchable targets in college. Lastly, his frame and hand usage make him a valuable blocker, which is particularly valued by Frank Reich as he plans to run the damn ball. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin 2.41 Grade: A- This man is going to run the damn ball. Let’s start by mentioning his toughness, with nearly 1000 rushes through three years. The man’s body doesn’t show any sign that it will ever give up. He has enough cutting ability to dodge the occasional tackle, but excels at using his physique and contact balance to force his way through a tackle. If the defense fails to collapse on Taylor quickly, they’re at risk of him taking off. Taylor was the fastest running back at the combine running a 4.39 at 225 pounds. Going 1-on-1 with him nearing full speed is almost a futile prospect. As he finds lanes behind probably the best run blocking line in the league, he’ll be plenty of trouble. Not without flaws, he’s had a somewhat questionable history with fumbles that will likely lead to plenty of time with Tom Rathman. He also has limited experience in the passing game. Julian Blackmon, S, Utah 3.85 Grade: C+ Perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh on Blackmon because I’m slightly addicted to watching Pittman embarrass the Utah defense in the Utah vs USC game. Perhaps it’s just because I’ve watched limited tape and safeties struggle with getting on tape for failing in coverage more often than being particularly good in coverage. Either way, as the heir apparent to Malik Hooker’s starting free safety position, Blackmon feels in a way like the opposite player. While both players had an eye for the ball coming out of college, Blackmon feels overall much more inconsistent in coverage, but he also feels like a much more solid tackler. Blackmon is also a recent convert to safety from corner, so perhaps what I’m seeing is simply growing pains especially because my reviewed games are from early in the season. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington 4.122 Grade: C+ Jacob Eason was a surprise drop for many who considered him a second round prospect. His arm is an absolute cannon belonging right in that Josh Allen tier of pure arm strength. Of course, he’s a fourth round pick for a reason. He struggles to work through his progressions, he can’t consistently throw with touch, and there are some huge question marks regarding his work ethic. There’s a whole lot of potential, but I’m not going to call the future franchise QB spot secured for the Colts yet. For the time being, I’ll call him a fine backup for a team that didn’t otherwise have a QB rostered for 2021. Danny Pinter, G, Ball State 5.149 Grade: B- Danny Pinter is an undersized prospect that is moving in to play guard after most recently playing as a tackle. As a tight end convert from a small school, he still lacks a lot of the technique and strength and conditioning that you would hope for in an NFL O-line prospect. I’ve seen him be pretty weak with his hand placement and he’s let the defender get into his chest a couple times. The upside here is Pinter’s mobility. He ran the second fastest 40 of all offensive linemen at the combine at 4.91 seconds at 306 pounds and put up respectable numbers for the remaining footwork related drills. Altogether a fine pick for a team with a solid offensive line that will hopefully have time to develop their rookie. Robert Windsor, DT, Penn State 6.193 Grade: C Robert Windsor has a good first step and a motor that doesn’t stop. That’s all the good I can say about him. Windsor doesn’t have the strength, length, or technique to make an impression. With the potential of Denico Autry moving to the edge, it seems like they might be looking at Windsor as a backup for Buckner. If Tyquan Lewis continues to be a disappointment in the limited camp, Windsor might just sneak onto the roster by need alone, which is the only reason I can bump my grade to a C, though perhaps I’m a little too critical as I felt there were a couple of other players that are more roster worthy. Isaiah Rodgers, CB, UMass 6.211 Grade: A Isaiah Rodgers is an absolute burner. His pro-day speed was 4.28. Admittedly hand timed is always faster, but he’s clearly quick on tape. A bit undersized at 5’10”, he’ll likely be relegated to the back end of the cornerback depth chart until he can develop into an NFL level corner, but his immediate value seems very obvious on special teams. His speed makes him a threat at kick returns and he’ll likely get tried out as a backup punt returner. As a gunner, he will gladly hit you with everything he’s got. Check this hit. Dezmon Patmon, WR, Washington State 6.212 Grade: B+ Patman is an intriguing prospect. He’s got a great combination of size and speed. While easily compared to second round pick Pittman because of his physical traits, Patmon lacks a lot of the polish. Worse hands, worse route running, and doesn’t quite play to his size like Pittman does. Regardless, I expect him to find production in his rookie year as Frank Reich was playing with the most injured wide receiver core in the league last year and has proven an ability to scheme depth players open consistently. Lastly, I think his size and River’s tendencies towards giant players is going to come into play fairly often near the redzone. Jordan Glasgow, LB, Michigan 6.213 Grade: B+ Glasgow isn’t a guy I want to see playing a lot of defensive snaps in a game. He’s technically refined enough, but physically doesn’t seem to have a very high ceiling. During the Middle Tennessee State game that I reviewed for him, Michigan used him plenty to blitz the quarterback where he was plenty effective, but I won’t pretend that he was up against top tier opponents. Ultimately Glasgow is going to be a special teams specialist after a college career where he excelled at special teams, which at the end of the 6th round is all you can ask for.
QB: 3 Rivers, Brissett, Eason Things are pretty straightforward for the Colts this year. There aren’t any preseason games, so nobody can retire after one. Rivers is the starter, hoping to prove that his career isn’t over after a down year last year. Brissett is a capable enough backup. Eason is the team’s insurance for 2021 when no other quarterbacks are on the roster and will hopefully not have to start during what is sure to be an odd season. First man out is $wag Kelly, who seems mainly to hold a roster spot as a favor between Frank Reich and his old friend Jim Kelly. RB: 4 Mack, Taylor, Hines, Nix For a while at least, Mack gets to hold the starting job. It’s certainly a competition with Taylor’s level of talent and I expect a pretty even split over the course of the year. Despite some competition at the position, Hines may have his best year considering River’s appreciation for receiving backs. Rosie Nix is the new fullback from the Steelers who might get a few touches here and there, but exists primarily for his blocking ability. First man out is Jordan Wilkins. This is a contentious cut for Colts fans. Wilkins has an unusual level of highlight type plays that lend to his 6.0 yards per attempt over 51 carries last year. Alas, roster spots are at a premium and running backs are not. WR: 6 Hilton, Pittman, Pascal, Campbell, Marcus Johnson, Dezmon Patmon Hilton’s the obvious choice. After two years struggling with health issues, Colts fans are hoping their WR1 remains healthy for the whole year. Pittman comes in as a fairly polished candidate from the top of the second round in a stacked receiver class. He’ll hold down the X receiver immediately. Zach Pascal was a pleasant surprise for Colts fans last year. With a list of injuries above him, Pascal did his best as WR1 for several games last year and led the Colts in receiving yards. As a WR3, he’ll get less focus and still be fairly valuable. Campbell has shown plenty of big play ability, what he needs to show is durability. He suffered four separate injuries last year including training camp. Hopefully, it was just a fluke and he can show off more of what he can do with a ball in his hands. Marcus Johnson is a fan favorite after his Tampa Bay showing last year. After starting the season on injured reserve, he returned to the practice squad and eventually made the roster last year. Colts fans are hoping his 16.3 yards per reception last year and 17 yards per reception in 2018 weren’t flukes and can be duplicated on more snaps Rivers. Dezmon Patman comes in as a somewhat unrefined option. I’ve already mentioned his physical traits. With a little bit of help from Reich’s scheming, I think he’ll find a handful of receptions this year, particularly towards the red zone. The first man out here is Daurice Fountain. After moving to the active roster in mid-2018, Reece was a training camp hit in 2019 until suffering an ankle injury in camp. While he might compete for the position, I haven’t seen enough from him in the first two years to give him right of way over Johnson and the rookie Patmon. TE: 3 Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, Mo Alie-Cox Jack Doyle has been a reliable pass catcher and mauling run blocker for years. He’s solid in his position as a starter. Trey Burton reunites with Frank Reich and is only two years removed from having a 569 yard season with the Bears. After struggling with injuries last season, Burton is hoping for a return to form this season. Mo Alie-Cox was a bit disappointing as many were expecting more receiving stats, but he’s still a talented run blocker with plenty of potential for next year. With Rivers having an appreciation for big bodied receivers, perhaps the 6’5.5” receiver with a 7’1” wingspan will find a few jump balls his way. OL: 9 Castonzo, Nelson, Kelly, Glowinski, Smith, Clark, Patterson, Pinter, O’Donnell The Colts are lucky enough to return all 5 starting offensive linemen this year. Castonzo played some of the best football of his career last year and signed on for two more years after considering retirement for a while. Quenton Nelson is coming off his second First Team All-Pro year. Kelly is a great Center coming off a fairly healthy season and going into a contract year. Glowinski is the weak point of the line, but that’s not so much an insult to Glowinski as it is a credit to the rest of the team. He’s still a very serviceable guard. Braden Smith is surpassing my wildest expectations from the day he was drafted as a guard. With early 2018 injuries to the tackle position, Smith made the shift and has been great at the position. Beyond the starting five, things get a bit more questionable with a significant loss of depth this past year. Clark returns on a one year contract and will be taking over the swing tackle position now that Joe Haeg has left. Patterson suffered a torn ACL in his rookie year, but is the only center on the roster behind Kelly and not including Nelson who only holds the position so he can keep 56. Pinter seems like the obvious option as a backup guard. O’Donnell is a Canadian football prospect that I assume the Colts found at the East-West Shrine bowl where he played fairly well. The Colts need depth at tackle and I can see O’Donnell doing that. First man out is Eldrenkamp as a backup guard. DL: 9 Autry, Buckner, Day, Houston, Turay, Stewart, Muhammad, Lewis, Banogu Autry has largely played DT the past couple years and done a fine job of it. With Sheard leaving in free agency, I currently have Autry slotted as the guy to move outside and take over the job. Buckner is our 3T we’ve been looking for. I hopefully don’t need to say anything else. Sheldon Day is competing with Grover Stewart for the 1T spot. I’ve got Day listed as my starter, but for a position that will see plenty of rotation I don’t think it matters either way. Turay is the “if only” story of 2019. Houston had a surprisingly healthy year and racked up 11 sacks, tied for second most in his career. Turay showed a ton of talent in his few snaps prior to injury in 2019. Over the five weeks he played, he ranked second in PFF’s pass-rushing grade and pass-rush rate with a 22.9% pressure rate. If he can build on these past two years, Turay may be a monster. Tyquan Lewis is the disappointment of Chris Ballard’s 2018 draft. He’s struggled with a couple of injuries and he’s had a few healthy scratches that I haven’t heard anything verifiable to explain away. Alas, I’m leaving him in the lineup as a guy who is flexible enough to back up Buckner, but also play outside as need be. Banogu is another guy that has shown flashes here and there. First one out is Robert Windsor, who might take that 3T spot if Lewis doesn’t shape up in camp. LB: 6 Leonard, Walker, Okereke, Speed, Adams, Glasgow 13 games, 5 Int, 2 FF, 7 PD, 5 Sacks, 121 Tackles. Darius Leonard put up some impressive stats last year and he’s aiming for the top. If he can pull off a 16 game season with similar stats, he’ll have an argument for DPOY. Walker is a smart player, if a little limited athletically and in coverage skills. I’ll keep him as the starter, but many fans are arguing for Okereke to take over the role. Okereke was PFF’s top ranked rookie linebacker last year, particularly for his athleticism and strength in coverage. EJ Speed had some limited play last year while Leonard was dealing with a concussion. He played fine, but has yet to show anything to get excited about. Glasgow takes the final spot primarily for special teams value. Adams has played a handful of snaps here and there, but is primarily going to be a special teams player. First man out is Zaire Franklin was only getting special teams snaps anyways. CB: 5 Rhodes, Moore, Ya-Sin, Tell, Rodgers Rhodes is hoping for a resurgence in a different scheme. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and give the former first team all-pro the nod as CB1. Kenny Moore II has been a great slot corner for the Colts these past couple years. He struggled with injuries for a long while to end out the year last year, but I fully expect him to continue his efforts to make himself a household name this year. Rock Ya-Sin was our rookie pick last year near the top of the 2nd round. He had some common rookie CB mistakes, but showed enough talent and growth to believe he has a high chance of taking over the CB1 role. Marvell Tell is an incredible physical specimen that the Colts took last year with the expectations of moving him to CB from Safety. With injuries to the cornerback position, he got a few more snaps than we were hoping, but he flashed a great deal. If Xavier Rhodes’s physical decline last season continues, I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see Tell starting over a healthy Rhodes. Rodgers is still very developmental as a corner, but holds plenty of value for special teams. First man out is TJ Carrie who would have been a fine slot backup in case Kenny Moore went down. S: 5 Hooker, Willis, Odum, Blackmon, Milligan Malik Hooker is entering the last year of his contract with the Colts after having his fifth year option declined. Hooker lit up the stat sheet his rookie year, but ever since the scheme change, has struggled to prove he was worth the draft position. With an improved pass rush this year, perhaps his sixth sense in finding the ball will come into play more often. Khari Willis was a pleasant surprise last year. It was clear the Colts liked him when Ballard traded draft capital to move up, but I wouldn’t have expected him to so clearly take over the starting strong safety position. On top of that, Willis played reasonably at free safety during Hooker’s injury last year. Odum is a solid backup who can play at both strong and free safety. Julian Blackmon is the new rookie who I assume is intended to be Hooker’s successor next year. For the time being he’s coming back from an ACL injury and may not be available until midyear, but as the successor to the starting position, I think it’s important to at least give him a spot for now. Milligan is a versatile player. He’s really a free safety, but played a bit of slot corner last year when Kenny Moore went down. ST: 3 Blankenship, Sanchez, Rhodes Hot Rod is my guess to be kicker. While McLaughlin played well enough for the Colts. Even with a 100% hit rate on extra points, there’s plenty of room for more consistency as he ranked 22nd overall in field goal percentage last year. It’ll be a tough contest in camp, but if I’m calling my shot with Hot Rod. Sanchez hasn’t played his best football these past couple years. I’m hoping someone else takes over kickoffs and Sanchez can focus entirely on punting in hopes of returning to form.
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses
QB The Colts QB room seems solid. I’m expecting Rivers to return to his typical self that still throws a decent amount of interceptions. Regardless, a quarterback that doesn’t constantly hold onto the ball for 3+ seconds playing behind this line is going to have plenty of opportunities to make great plays. For this year of all years, it seems like the value in having backup quarterbacks is going to be at an all time high and I don’t feel so bad about what the Colts have. I’ll call it a fairly average group until Rivers can prove his career isn’t over. Backfield The Colts have a group of good backs, but lack an elite option particularly when considering that none have proved themselves a threat in both the rushing and passing game at the moment. As a group, I’ll call it borderline top 10 in large part because any one of these players could get injured without it feeling season ruining as may be true with a few of the teams with top running backs. OL I have no complaints about the starting offensive line, the huge question mark is about the depth. The Colts were lucky enough to start the same five men all season last year, but one injury to Anthony Castonzo and Colts fans will have flashbacks to the five game stretch he missed in 2018 where Luck suffered 10 of the 18 total sacks on the season. Alas, many teams struggle with depth and I hope I don’t have to argue too much about this being one of the best groups in the NFL. Pass catchers By Adjusted Games Lost, the Colts had the single most injured wide receiver room last year. The single biggest thing that needs to be proven is that we can stay healthy across the board. If they stay healthy, the Colts are a mid tier group, but under the assumption that TY’s health issues these past two years continue, I’m forced to assume they’re a bottom third group until we can trust someone to be a true WR1 in most games. DL The Colts starting lineup seems pretty strong, but for a position group that we want to rotate with depth players on, I’ve gotta question what kind of play we’re going to see out of guys like Tyquan Lewis and Ben Banogu. As such, I’ll call this group middling overall. LB It’s just a solid group all around. The fact that we can’t decide between Okereke and Walker as starters is primarily a question of which is better, not which is worse. Behind them is plenty of serviceable depth that holds an important role in special teams. Secondary This is the one group with question marks at basically every spot. Can Rhodes return to All-Pro form? Was the apparent growth for Ya-Sin real and can it continue? Can Moore stay healthy? Can Tell develop into a starting safety? Can Hooker stay healthy after missing significant time these past two years and can he prove he’s worth his draft position? Special Teams What just one year ago felt like a solid group for kicking and punting, now feels a bit questionable. I don’t want to get so down about Rigo’s down year as it was still overall decent. With the new search for a kicker, I can’t complain about either of the current options and I don’t believe either will get nearly the leash that Adam Vinatieri got last year, so I’d say the floor there is much higher. The returning seems like it’s best in years after Hines has impressed and our return team overall just seems to be getting stronger. With the addition of Isaiah Rodgers, this may be a group to beat.
Week 1: @ Jaguars (W) Ah yes, the Jaguars. An eternal question mark for the Colts. Generally believed to be one of the worst rosters in the league, I’d have to agree. There are plenty of question marks on their defense that they’re hoping will be filled in by rookies. I would expect them to have growing pains even without a shortened offseason. Week one, this seems to weigh heavily with the Colts who’ve added strong veteran talent in Rivers and Buckner. Week 2: vs Vikings (W) Despite having one of my favorite drafts of the year, the Vikings have many of the same struggles as the Jaguars. First, we must accept that moving from Diggs to Jefferson isn’t likely to be a smooth transition in Jefferson’s first year. Just as notably they’re losing their two corners that put up the most snaps for them in 2019. While neither of their 2018 corners were playing at their best, it currently looks like they’ll have two rookie starting corners with Gladney and Dantzler and I think all of reddit knows to expect cornerbacks to have rookie year struggles. Week 3: vs Jets (W) Can TY play corner? The Jets draft is another one of my favorites, but they’re still not quite there as a whole. Despite my love for Becton, I don’t think their list of offensive line changes have turned into a complete group. On top of that, I’m still not quite happy with their weapons. Bell looks like he’s still got mileage left in him if only he had a better line. Their tight end group is highly dubious, and their wide receiver group has really better hope Mims can actually play like a WR1. I think it’ll be a better game than some might assume based on a lot of opinions I hear on the Jets, but I’ve got the Colts with the edge. Week 4: @ Bears (W) As a fan of watching line play, this will be a game to remember. The Bears d-line is arguably the best run defense in the league and they’re not bad against the pass either particularly when backed by a good secondary. Unfortunately for the Bears, I’m expecting their weaker offensive line to struggle vs the Colts defensive line more than the opposite. Week 5: @ Browns (L) Ah, yes. I get to another one of my favorite offseasons. Just about everything the Browns did seemed like a good move. On paper, the Browns offense is scary as hell and I just don’t have any arguments for why they would be worse. Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills are going to be great additions to fix that line, then you go and add Hooper as if you didn’t have enough weapons. With even half-decent coaching this team can be dangerous and I can’t trust the Colts secondary to handle every weapon. Week 6: vs Bengals (W) After five straight years of the Bengals losing their first round pick for a significant amount of time due to injury, maybe this year will be an exception. With the return of Jonah Williams, perhaps that line can actually have a half decent year, but I’m not going to bet the house on it. For the time being, the Bengals are still working on their rebuild. Week 7: Bye Week 8: @ Lions (W) What little I watched of the Lions last year seemed like a decent quality team. As rarely as I like to bet on rookie corners, Okudah is as complete as any college corner I’ve seen. I’m not ready to call them a strong team, but they don’t seem weak by any means. A return from Stafford could make the NFC North one of the most internally competitive divisions to watch. Regardless, I feel like the Colts have a somewhat stronger roster. Week 9: Ravens (L) If only I could go to this game in person. I’d love to see how the Colts defense matches up against that Ravens offense in person. Top to bottom the Ravens have one of the strongest rosters in the league, so they get the strong edge. Week 10: @ Titans (L) I hate Thursday night games. The home team has a huge statistical advantage. Going into Tennessee tired after a tough Ravens game certainly isn’t going to do the Colts any favors when they’ve gotta try to tackle Derrick Henry. Week 11: vs Packers (L) This is just a long stretch of teams asking a lot of the Colts physically. Stopping the run week after week with the Ravens then Derrick Henry then Jones/Dillon is just going to be physically brutal. Luckily, the Colts are coming off a ten day bye at home, but the Packers are just an overall solid team all around and I think they’ll still be very competitive at every phase of the game. Week 12: vs Titans (W) I don’t think the Colts will be happy with their string of losses. I think they’re coming back hungry and trying to prove themselves against a divisional opponent at home. Week 13: @Texans (W) After the Texans split games in 2018 and 2019, the Colts are going to get the first win of 2020. For two closely matched teams in 2019, the Colts have lost nobody of any particular importance and purely added more talent, while the Texans sold off Hopkins in hopes that Cooks and Cobb will somehow elevate their offense. It’s a risky bet. Week 14: @ Raiders (W) Last year’s Raiders led the Colts by 7 points with just over 2 minutes to go in the half prior to Brissett’s pick 6. Looking at things from a clean slate, I’d fully expect the return of previously inactive Hilton, Leonard, and Hooker to cover the gap between the two teams and I have the Colts winning next year’s game. Week 15: vs Texans (L) Let’s not underrate Deshaun Watson. Having watched Luck carry a questionable offense for years, I think Deshaun’s got enough talent to pull some wins out of his ass. I’m certainly not so low on the Texans roster to believe Deshaun can’t push it to a win. Week 16: @ Steelers (W) Last year’s game was a 2 point Steelers victory after an Adam Vinatieri kick went awry with about a minute left in the game. So, they question is, were the Colts offseason improvements worth 2 points on the Steelers? Both of these teams are expected to improve greatly with the return and hiring of 2004 quarterback legends, but I’d have to give a slight nod to Big Ben as the greater improvement from Mason Rudolph vs Rivers replacing Brissett/Hoyer. For remaining Inactives, I’d have to credit the loss of TY Hilton as a more significant factor than that of James Connor. What I think finally takes the Colts over the top is the combination of their first round pick for DeForest Buckner as well as a stronger pair of second round additions with Pittman and Taylor vs Claypool. Week 17: vs Jaguars (L) If you don’t like the look of that L next to the Jaguars game, you don’t like AFC South football. The Jags always seem like a much better team about once a year. I’m looking at you 2018 Jags. At 10-5, I think the Colts have a good chance at being guaranteed a playoff berth and the Jags probably just want to prove themselves more.
Offense If you’re looking at last year’s team as a model for this year’s offense, you’re probably missing something. To quote Ozzurip from last year’s review, “The point is that there isn’t a specific scheme.” Frank Reich isn’t beholden to doing one thing every week. He wants to find every mismatch and exploit it to the best of his ability by using a diverse set of tools. Jacoby’s limitations as a player saw the passing offense get unnecessarily flat last year. Philip Rivers is the bet to run Frank Reich’s offense properly. This starts by looking at your traditional West Coast offense utilizing a lot of nickel and dime throws in order to set up a rush. Of course with the Colt’s power running and more modern RPO usage, the run game is setting up this short passing game just as well. When teams are playing too close to the box, Frank will call up a play to push the ball deep where his new quarterback is more than willing to follow through. Ultimately, Reich will push whatever works. If the Colts are running over the opposing team, he won’t be afraid to lean into the run, but I personally believe the Colts will want to be a pass first offense once again. This is admittedly not a commonly agreed upon point among Colts fans. Feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt. The Colts have a diverse set of weapons that allow them to play just about any game they want to and will gladly lean on certain weapons to target specific weaknesses in the opponent’s defense. You want big guys? Let’s throw Doyle, Alie-Cox, Pittman, and Patmon out there. This not only puts out a selection of big bodies to have to defend against, but also a good list of run blockers for whichever running back they’re throwing out. Want speed? Hilton, Campbell, and Hines are each capable of stretching the field vertically. The last note I want to add would be a likely increase in 22 personnel. Just toss out Patmon and mix and match some running backs. Reich has mentioned seeing Mack and Taylor on the field at the same time, but I would fully expect plenty of plays with Nix holding a lead blocker role or even a more Tom Rathman-esque fullback that pulls in passes in the short game. Defense The Colts defense is a pretty simple scheme based on a 4-3 Tampa 2 defense. Despite some excitement after the Chiefs game where the Colts played man on 73.3% of snaps, expect for the Colts to play a vast majority of their snaps in zone coverage. Playing man for that one game was likely just taking advantage of a weakened receiving core than it was a proof of the Colts sudden willingness to move to a different scheme. The Colts are heavily reliant on the front four to generate pressure and do so by rotating through 8-9 defensive linemen with the goal of keeping players fresh. The Colts defensive lineman with the highest snap count last year was Justin Houston who only played in 65.18% of snaps. Perhaps bringing in Buckner will cause the team to add a bit more consistency after Buckner’s 78.72% snaps on the 49ers last season. This focus on the front 4 is accentuated by the 6th lowest blitz rate in the league in 2019. Part of what helps the defensive line be effective is their ability to focus on the passer while the linebackers work heavily to stop the run. The Colts run a lot of a concept called patterns where the play side linebacker’s goal is to control the offensive line and push the run outside where the other linebacker is meant to be athletic enough to cross the line and stop the run. For a more detailed look at the Colts implementation of this concept, read Zach Hicks’s writeup on this Behind the linebacker group is typically a Cover-2 whose primary goal is to cover the deep zones and prevent any big plays. The idea is that forcing a team to dink and dunk down the field forces the offense to be successful on more plays to reach the end zone. More plays means more opportunities on each drive for interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles, and simply missed passes in order to set the offense back. The Colts were ultimately tied for 10th in the league at 13.1 percent of drives ending in a turnover. Shoutouts to those who helped: Ozzurip Link to hub
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