SB 50 Takeaways

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By Stefan Anderson

Usually, I am able predict who I think can win the Super Bowl each year but this year I had tough decision to make between The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. After many days of deliberating. I began comparing the teams’ two contrasting styles. I began to believe the Broncos had the edge with defensive front 7 and a better offensive unit, but something would not allow me to bet against Cam Newton after his MVP performance this season.

Ultimately a scrappy 24-10 Super Bowl 50 win, crowned the Broncos as the champs. While the match up was not as enticing as some expected, we were able to witness somethings that were not foreseen.

Peyton’s Final Game: Winning the Super Bowl only helped cement Peyton Manning’s HOF resume and solidified that he is a top five quarterback of all time. Previously, I stated that Manning was fighting the inevitable ending of the career and could not return to the glorious player he once was. But Manning returned after missing seven games due to injury and returned in a new role as a game manager. Prior to his injury, Manning was responsible for 17 interceptions, but since has only thrown interception and completing over 50% of his passes in route to his 2nd super bowl win. Manning reached title as possibly the best game manager we’ve ever seen heading to potentially his last game.

MVP: Despite the great season Newton had his spectacular run was halted when faced with the league’s top defense. But it goes to show how good he really was this season, with 45 total touchdowns without a true deep threat and a 1,000 yard rusher, they still managed to have a 15-1 record with a trip to the Super Bowl. But without that help last night, Newton showed how great that he has played and the helped need to win.

Defense Wins Championships: The cliché statement proved to prevalent as the top ranked defense conquered the top ranked offense. Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, Demarcus Ware and the front seven of the Broncos clogged every gap and rushed Cam Newton all night long. Newton has hit 13 times, forced to a horrific 16.9 QBR on 18-44 passing night.

Could either team return to the big dance? Carolina has a chance to return granted that they will be motivated after having that great season, will reach where they need to if they can find another target for Cam Newton as Kelvin Benjamin returns. Denver whether Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning is under the center, can return but will have to defeat a furious Tom Brady and Co.

The Starting Point talks with NY Giants TE Larry Donnell

By Stefan Anderson

I had the great opportunity to speak with NY Giants TE Larry Donnell about his experiences coming into the NFL and what it takes, breakout games and huge catches. Check out the interview here at The Starting Point. 

Quarterback Carousel

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By Stefan Anderson

Just over a ¼ way through the 2015-16 NFL Season and the quarterback play has been tremendous thus far. With Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady at the forefront for the MVP award, the league has been on notice for the QB.

Show and Prove

But there are two quarterbacks who are making their distinction known this season after speculations have placed them in the “good but not good enough” category. Andy Dalton of Cincinnati Bengals and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, not only lead two of the six remaining undefeated teams but have done so in fashionable manner.

Dalton, coming into his fifth season, where quarterbacks normally sink or float, is showing that he is poised to take the Bengals to the next level. Throughout his five games this season, Dalton leads the NFL in passing yards with 1,518 and 3rd in QB rating only behind Rodgers and Brady.  Trailing by 10 going into the final period, Dalton put together his toughest performance Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Seahawks, putting Cincy on his shoulders as they forced OT and eventually won their 5th game of the season.

Ryan, who is second in the passing yards with 1,456 has had his struggles with turning the ball over but has been able to help keep the Falcons alive when needed. Atlanta has forced comeback wins against NFC East foes Washington, Philadelphia and New York.  Despite the help of rookie running back Davonta Freeman and superstar wide out Julio Jones, Ryan is still in the driver seat leading his team to victories.

Both sitting at 5-0, Ryan and Dalton are showing that they could make the change this season. But to withstand the pressure of being elite is tough, but they are certainly taking the proper steps.

Insurance Policy

Having a valuable backup quarterback is a commodity in NFL and many teams take that guy with the clipboard for granted until their star QB is down. Matthew Hasselback and Ryan Fitzpatrick have shown that patience is a virtue and despite the obstacles it may come with to always be prepared for the opportunity.

Hasselback, once lead Seattle to the Super Bowl in 2005 and has yet to see a start since 2012. With Andrew Luck sitting for the Colts, Hasselback came in and helped Indy reach two wins when it seemed as if their season was hanging on a thread. Hasselback’s 495 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions show the importance of being ready.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is known as a solid quarterback but once who is also turnover prone, but in his tenure with the Jets has shown to a good fit. With the injury to Geno Smith and the reconnection of offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, Fitzpatrick has found his resurgence and has New York sitting at 3-1.  Fitzpatrick has the opportunity to compete this season with the Jets top ranked defense and weapons on the offensive end , the Harvard alum could taste the postseason for the first time in his 11 year career.

2015-16 NFL Preview :NFC

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By Stefan Anderson

Let’s continue our preview our 2015-2016 season preview with looking at the NFC conference.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals- The Cardinals look to continue after their 11-5 season in 2014-15. Arizona came out striking during the first half of the season but was unable to sustain that momentum when Carson Palmer fell to injury. The Cards roster was depleted, but still remained competitive but didn’t have enough to win the NFC. Coming into this season , Arizona addressed a major problem by signing RB Chris Johnson to help open up their rushing game which suffered a league’s worst 3.3 ypc. Johnson redemption alongside Andre Ellington could help out the Cards. Although they lost Antonio Cromartie, they still have two of the best young DB’s in Patterson and Mathieu.

St. Louis Rams- St. Louis has rebuilt through the draft over the past few seasons, acquiring talent after talent, and now have one of the emerging rosters in the NFL. The Rams have found some success in the run and game their great defensive line that was led by Robert Quinn. But the Rams have not been able to air out the ball completing just over 60 percent of their passes, with Nick Foles in the starting role, the former Philly starter has a lot to prove after failing to reach the same success after his 1st successful season with the Eagles.

San Francisco 49ers- The 49ers have witnessed a roster overhaul after the leaders like Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Anthony Davis, Michael Crabtree and HC Jim Harbaugh have left. Harbaugh was a part of the re energizing the franchise a few seasons and now the 49ers are getting ready to be under the leadership of Collin Kapernick. I expect the Niners to become a team that passes more after Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin get to reunite with speedy backs Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush.

Seattle Seahawks- The Seahawks return from that nightmare of Super Bowl 49, and look to bounce back to the greatness they have shown in the past two seasons. Seattle returns with a brand new weapon in Jimmy Graham to help solve their red zone issues and boost their 22 passing TD’s to a higher number. The top defensive unit has lost their coordinator and could lose their SS Kam Chancellor if contract issues are not settled, which will damage the “Legion of Boom”. The Seahawks can return to the same form but would prefer to have Chancellor alongside Sherman, Thomas and newly added Cary Williams.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: After the injury to Kevin White and trading Brandon Marshal, Chicago will now revert an offensive that allows for shorter passes and specializes in taking what the defense gives them. The new system implemented by Coach Fox and his staff will help to reduce Jay Cutler’s 19 interceptions thrown. As well Coach Fox  will help to improve the leagues 31st ranked defense in his 3-4 scheme.

Detroit Lions: Detroit will posses the same high quality offense as shown over the past few seasons with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and QB Matthew Stafford, but their offense will need some support from their running backs after finishing 30th in the league. Losing Suh will will be tough bu the Lions have found a solid replacement in Haloti Ngata to keep  their top tier rushing attack alive.

Minnesota Vikings: The return of Adrian Peterson and other additions will help boost Teddy Bridgewater into a prominent QB. On the defensive side the DB core of Newman , Exum Jr, Smith and Rhodes will play a huge part if t the Vikes look to have success this season.

Green Bay Packers: The loss of Jordy Nelson will be detrimental to Green Bay this season, but if there is one QB I trust to figure out a way it would be Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers still has two of his favorite targets Adams and Cobb, will be reuniting with former WR James Jones. The Packers front 7 contains talent with Peppers, Raji and Matthews spearheading it, but will have to contain the run if they want to make an impact after allowing over 4 ypc to opposing teams..

 NFC South

Atlanta Falcons- Last season, Atlanta struggled tremendously on the defensive side of the ball, allowing the most rushing TD’s and passing yards will not help your team no matter how good your offense is. The answer to solving that problem, get the Defensive Coordinator of the top ranked Seahawks as your head coach. Dan Quinn will find a way to revitalize Atlanta’s defense. They have switched their offense to west coast system and on defense moved to a 4-3. Atlanta’s air assault will keep them alive and if the defense plays on the same accord they can fight for playoff position.

Carolina Panthers- The Panthers are looking forward to having a healthy Johnathan Stewart , after the RB has failed to play a full season for over four years. Carolina will need Stewart’s effort to help score more than 10 TD’s especially after suffering the loss to top wide out Kelvin Benjamin.  The defense will continue to play solid under the leadership of Luke Kuechly and veterans Roman Harper and Charles Tillman. It would interesting to see Carolina win the division three years in a row.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs will now have their franchise QB in Jameis Winston, two good wide outs in Evans and Jackson but will look to the company of RB’s to help lead them. Tampa Bay was only able to put up 85 ypg on the ground and Doug Martin and co. will have to step up their efforts in order to improve from last season. Alterraun Verner , Gerald McCoy and the rest of the Bucs defense will have a better chance of succeeding with a better offensive unit and look to expand on their 25 turnovers caused last season.

New Orleans Saints-The Saints have seen some pieces go but look to bounce back this season after revamping some positions. The Saints were able to add Brandon Browner and Jarius Bryd to their secondary to help defend after giving up 250 ypg in the air. Drew Brees will now have Mark Ingram as his feature back and a great backup in CJ Spiller to help replace what Darren Sproles once brought. Look for Brandin Cooks to see more action after the loss of Jimmy Graham and the Saints could return to the dynamic they were seasons ago.

NFC East

New York Giants- The Giants have a gem in Odell Beckham Jr, but the return of Victor Cruz will essential for the G-Men. Protecting Eli Manning from being sacked will be a priority, Manning was dropped nearly 30 times last season. The Giants will have to secure their secondary which has been brittle over the past few but hopes that Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara can stay on the field for New York.

Dallas Cowboys- The Cowboys return to seek more and reach the Super Bowl after falling short last season. The Cowboys have lost rushing leader Demarco Murray and now have a carousel of backs with Darren McFadden and Joesph Randle and newcomer will have to replace the effort Murray brought last season. On the defense end, Dallas has lost one of its primary defensive backs in Orlando Scandrick, but the return of Sean Lee and addition of Greg Hardy will keep the Cowboys amongst the elite.

Washington Redskins- Washington will now operate under Kirk Cousins and will not change the dynamic of the offensive but gives the Redskins a better option at QB. The Redskins hope to improve and open up the run game with Alfred Morris. The Redskins have a solid defense but will have guard receivers better but the addition of Deshon Goldson should help to patch up the problems in the secondary.

Philadelphia Eagles- Chip Kelly and Co. have made numerous move to create the team that can live up to the expectations. Philly has a good amount of RB’s and QB Sam Bradford who is under contract season and wants to make a statement after being down from injuries. The only concern for the Eagles would be their depth at WR. The Eagles however brought in a lot of bodies in that defensive back to help to move up from the bottom of the league in passing defense. The additions of Walter Thurmond,Malcolm Jenkins and Byron Maxwell will pivotal  for the Eagles success.

Genius or Gone

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By Stefan Anderson

Chip Kelly, known for his coaching tenure at the University of Oregon, was given a five-year contract worth 32.5 million in 2013 to right the ship for the Philadelphia Eagles after the divorce of long time coach Andy Reid. Since then Kelly brought his fast paced offense to the NFL and opened eyes in the league while bringing Philadelphia back to the postseason, and reassuring the future of the City of Brotherly Love.

Since January, Kelly has been given the keys to the organization to make personnel moves and now has traded and released pivotal players to his system. The likes of Desean Jackson, Lesean McCoy, Jeremy Macklin and now his first successful experiment in the NFL, Nick Foles have all been removed from the Eagles roster.

Although losing those play makers, the Eagles have now inherited the talents of Sam Bradford and one of Kelly’s former players and 2013 DROY Kiko Alonzo, but what talent does the offense have. With the word of Kelly trading up to get his prized possession Marcus Mariota ,it shows weakness in Kelly’s coaching ability.

Kelly was the mastermind that transformed Nick Foles into a Pro Bowl quarterback and following up with the resurgence of Mark Sanchez, but it was the pieces around Foles that made the system free flowing.

I do not like the fact that Chip Kelly has traded for his former players to run his system, however I disagree with as well, it does not show great versatility as a coach. Great coaches often get maximum potential all players not just the players they are accustomed to coaching.

The former Pac-10 Coach of the Year, has shown his wits once before and has to do so once again. Philadelphia, unlike most cities has one of the hardest fan bases and quickly will ask for Kelly’s exit if he doesn’t show the method to his madness.

Let’s hope this madness works out for the Ducks, I mean the Eagles sake.