Cherish The Day

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By Stefan Anderson

Many great players hit the free agent market during 2014 offseason, to speculate that this year’s offseason could possess the same activity would seem ridiculous to some. But this past week has been mind boggling for most as we see players shift from team to team and rosters make their best effort to build their teams prior to the draft.

Let’s recap some of the winner and losers of the 2015 FA period:

Indianapolis Colts: With one of the building blocks of the franchise in limbo, Reggie Wayne, the Colts were aggressive in adding talent to be added amongst the AFC’s elite. Signing vets like Andre Johnson, Trent Cole and Frank Gore, Indy has put together the essentials for Andrew Luck to succeed.  Also reassuring their secondary to keeping defensive backs Darius Butler and Mike Adams are in line to dethrone New England.

Seattle Seahawks: After having repeated issues in the Red Zone and infamous no call to Marshawn Lynch,  the two time NFC champs added more weapons to their offense by trading for the dominating Jimmy Graham. Resigning Lynch and adding Graham give Russell Wilson a greater opportunity to expand his game.  Seattle did lose one of its best defenders in Byron Maxwell but have added a great corner in Cary Williams to replace in the Legion of Boom.

New York Jets: Giving up 234 passing yards per game, the Jets went back to their winning formula shown in the past and brought back the tandem of Darrell Revis and Antonio Cromartie to fill the void. Along with “Batman and Robin”, they added defense backs Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist to add to their poor secondary. The offensive side of the ball improved for the Jets as they acquired big time receiver Brandon Marshall, and bolstered up the offensive line by re-signing Willie Colon and adding James Carpenter from the Seahawks.

Losers:

San Francisco 49ers: After having some the best years under Harbaugh regime, the Niners are headed toward darker days once again. The retirement of defensive leader Patrick Willis and Justin Smith was just the beginning, following the loss of workhorse Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree up for grabs there are a lot of holes to be filled for the once powerhouse of the NFC.

New Orleans Saints: The loss of Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills will have a detrimental effect of Drew Brees efficiency this season and give “Who Dat” nation a lot to worry about.  The offense targets departing will have to shoulder a load on their full house of running backs that added C.J. Spiller. It will be tough for the Saints to rebound following the losses suffered.

New England Patriots: The defending champs have lost their top corners in Browner and Revis, running back in Shane Vereen and now the heart of their defense NT Vince Wilfork.  There are holes to be for the Patriots but that is a task Coach Belichick would love to tackle. Following the SB win, that is  a lot of key players to lose heading into a season where each team in the AFC East has improved

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The Rulers Back

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By Stefan Anderson

Down 10, going into the final quarter, it appeared that the New England Patriots were going to suffer their third consecutive loss in the Super Bowl, but it was the genius of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick that helped to propel New England to their fourth championship in six appearances.

I was originally going to herald the Legion of Boom and Seahawks defense, the greatest defense of all time, but the execution of the Patriots cancelled that statement instantly. Coach Belichick gave the keys to his favorite person, Tom Brady, who drove the field on two 60-plus yard drives that set New England up to seal the deal.

As I originally stated in my The Art of a Winning Franchise post, it’s the coach’s job to get the maximum potential out of all his players to be rewarded with achievement in any sport. After seeing Jeremy Lane go down to injury after early first quarter interception, it was apparent that Seahawks would have a liability in the secondary.

Not attacking with deep passes and playing into Seattle hands, Belichick drew up plays that would find the weak spots in the defense, attacking second year pro Tharold Simon, by utilizing his slot receivers. Julian Edelman, the former 7th round pick out of Kent State, has seen his progression through the Patriots system after once being kick return specialist to now catching nine passes including the game winning touchdown.

With 20 seconds left, Pete Carroll made the most irrational call in NFL History, going for an inside pass that costs Seattle its chances on repeating.

On the winning end was an undrafted rookie out of West Alabama, Malcolm Butler, who catches his first career interception. Right place, right time maybe, but to have a player ready to make a huge play like that attests to Belichick’s coaching ability to have guys to be prepared for any occasion.

Tom Brady goes on to win his 4th championship, tying Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana with most wins in the Super Bowl, while eclipsing Montana’s record for most Super Bowl touchdowns. Brady now finds himself in the greatest QB ever conversation and now has cemented his legacy, while remaining the last quarter back to ever repeat in a Super Bowl record intact.

After Deflategate, and the worries coming into the Super Bowl, New England once again silenced the critics and remains supreme.

Super Bowl XLIX Predictions

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Super Bowl 48 has the potential to be one of the greatest matches with the Patriots and Seahawks facing off and here at The Starting Point, we make our predictions.

Aaron Hampton

2008, was the last time the New England Patriots played a Super Bowl in Arizona, losing to the Giants 17-14 in one of the greatest upset victories in the history of football’s biggest game.  While the lasting image of that February night while always be David Tyree’s miraculous catch, the biggest factor in the Giants success that night was their ability pressure Tom Brady and disrupt the rhythm of one of the greatest offenses the game has ever seen.

Without a doubt, the top-ranked Seahawks defense will be the fastest of any team New England has faced this year.  They have the physicality to throw of the timing between Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, but more importantly, like the Giants six years ago Seattle has the ability to generate pressure on the quarterback without having blitz.  In the end, that combination will prove to be too much for New England much in the same vein as it was for the Denver Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl, and Sunday will see the crowning of football’s newest dynasty as the Seahawks will become the first team since New England to win back-to-back championships.

Final: Seattle 21, New England 17.

Greg Hudson

The Seahawks and their Legion of Boom come into this game looking to defend their Super Bowl title, but the Patriots will look to take the air out their game and leave Hawks fans feeling a little, well, deflated…. Puns aside, this looks like a fantastic matchup, similar in many ways to last year’s matchup: elite quarterback and high-scoring offense against a top defense. While injuries to Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman have left a few question marks as to how much Boom the Legion will bring, I have to pick the Seahawks in this one. If they can stop the Pats’ decent running game, they will control it from start to finish and Russell Wilson, the most underrated QB in the NFL, will get his second ring.

Final: Seahawks 27, Patriots 17

Kelsey  Miller

Get ready to see a turnaround defense versus an offense built for domination. Seattle has been unstoppable and healthy on both sides since last year’s Super Bowl victory over the Broncos. Cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Kam Chancellor and their intimidating defensive line company do not have anything to lose. The Patriots are approaching dynasty status. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick continue to develop one of the best offensive teams I have seen in football years.

My guess is the Seahawks and their defense wins the trophy a second time. Y’all saw what happened last year to Peyton and his outstanding company.

Final: Seahawks 28 Patriots 21, Super Bowl MVP, Mr. Killa Kam Chancellor.

Stefan Anderson

This might be the most evenly matched Super Bowl game I have seen over the years. Both teams mirror each other in many ways, gritty run styles and disruptive defenses. Both secondary’s make the opposing quarterbacks put passes in the tightest windows possible. No real WR to look out for, there is no real edge in the passing either, even though I will give Tom Brady over Russell Wilson. I am looking forward to the trick plays and disguise packages presented by both Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll.

But with momentum and a championship to defend I am going to pick the Seahawks for the win. The Patriots will come to make a statement during the game but to sustain a consistent offensive effort against the Seahawks is something I have not seen many teams do.

Final: Seahawks 24 Patriots 21

You Know Why I’m Here

By Stefan Anderson

Super Bowl XLIX is just days away and we are embarking on one of the premier championship games in years. But most viewers and fans subjected are prepared for the next scene in the NFL’s current soap opera.

It all started with Deflate gate, where the Patriots were suspected of deflating footballs to help them clobber the Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship.

The deflated balls are supposed to give quarterbacks a better grip for passing, why didn’t Andrew Luck capitalize on the issue as well? Not to mention that Legarrette Blount ran all over the Colts defense and provided all the damage needed, so how much did the deflated balls affect the game?

Exactly

Now, we are wasting our attention on Marshawn Lynch post game and press conference. “I’m Thankful” to have some like Lynch , who focused on the task at hand.

Reporters understand that “Beast Mode” doesn’t want to answer his question and has already stated at last year’s Super Bowl Media Day “I’m just about that action, boss” , which everyone else should be about.

As a reporter, I would love to have a great quote from Lynch but it’s plain and simple that he has nothing to say to the media. If the Seahawks running back decides not to help you put together your story there is a roster full of Seattle players that will, including what some would call outspoken Richard Sherman.

There are some many story lines and features that can be headlining this intriguing matchup. For example, Russell Wilson can become the first quarterback to repeat since Tom Brady, maybe even how this could the first time for Brady to capture a championship ring in over a decade, and the possibility of discussing the legacy of the Legion of Boom , becoming the greatest defense units ever.

There is so much more to be discussed about how legendary this game could be, instead we are focusing on everything off the field. Hopefully within these next days’s hope can be restored and as the wise Marshawn Lynch stated “You know why I’m here”

Don’t Forget About Me

underdog QBsBy Stefan Anderson

Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees , the elite quarterback cohort that often gets mentions and set the standard on what young QB’s should follow. The praise these men receive are given at the right cause due to their performance on the field. But there are some quarterbacks that go under the radar day by day and should make their mark shortly.

When I think about those signal callers that get overshadowed, two of the most accurate QB’s in the game come to mind, Phillip Rivers and Russell Wilson. The two not only share a tie for the highest completion rate at 70.3 percent and the same Alma matter NC State, but if they continue their level of play will be at the top of voters list for Most Valuable Player.

Russell Wilson, returning of the season where received the Super Bowl MVP beating one of the greatest leaders of all time Peyton Manning , still continues to show that he has what it takes to be a great quarterback in the NFL. Since taking over the position in 2012, the Richmond, VA native has had a 27-9 record as a starter, including a career 100.2 QBR.

A lot of critics often give Wilson the label of being a “game manager” but the duel threat has been efficient and consistent since 2012.

Since 2012, Wilson has remained in the top-ten in completion rate, touchdowns and game winning drives just to name a few statistics. This season, Wilson continue to play on a high level as he continues to lead his Seahawks into their title defense, as Seattle posts a 3-1 record, with 8 touchdowns and 1 interception on his account.

The only team that was able to win against the Seattle Seahawks was the San Diego Chargers, led by Phillip Rivers. The former first round draft of the Giants went 284 yards and 3 touchdowns over the leagues most feared secondary “The Legion of Boom”.

Rivers has been in the NFL for over a decade and has been over looked by many but has played with that chip on his shoulder throughout the years and his unprecedented stats speak for themselves.

The Chargers signal caller has been neck and neck with that elite cohort, in each and every category. Amongst active players, Rivers is in the the top ten in the following categories: Passing Yards, YPG, TD’s and has the 3rd highest passer rating of 98.6, where he is ahead of players like Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

If both of these quarterbacks continue to play the high levels that they have been playing at this season they will finally receive the recognition they deserve.