Jacksonville Jaguars Season Preview

2016 Jaguars

AFC South Finished 4th in Division

Failed to make the playoffs

Overall Record: 3-13

(2-4 in the division)

Draft Position: 4th
Head Coach: Doug Marrone (2017) GM: David Caldwell (2013)

2016 Rankings

 
Yards/Game
Points/Game
Passing Yards/Game
Rushing Yards/Game
   
Offense 23rd 25th 20th 22nd TDs –

26th

 
Defense 6th 25th 5th 19th Sacks –

T-19th

INTs –

32nd

Outgoing Players

POS Player 2017 Team Contract
RB Denard Robinson Free Agent  
RB Joe Banyard Buffalo Bills 1 year, $690,000
WR Rashad Lawrence Free Agent  
WR Tony Washington New England Patriots 1 year, $540,000
T Kelvin Beachum New York Jets 3 years, $24 million
G/T Luke Joeckel Seattle Seahawks 1 year, $8 million
DT Sen’Derrick Marks Free Agent  
DE Tyson Alualu Pittsburgh Steelers 2 years, $6 million
DE Jared Odrick Free Agent  
DE Roy Miller Kansas City Chiefs  1 year, $1.4 million
DT Jordan Hill Detroit Lions 1 year, $855,000
LB Dan Skuta Chicago Bears  
LB Marcus Rush Kansas City Chiefs 1 year, $465,000
S Johnathan Cyprien Tennessee Titans 4 years, $25 million
CB Prince Amukamara Chicago Bears 1 year, $7 million
CB Davon House Green Bay Packers 1 year, $2.8 million

Draft Results

RD Pick POS Player College
1 4 RB Leonard Fournette LSU
2 34 T Cam Robinson Alabama
3 68 DE Dawuane Smoot Illinois
4 110 WR Dede Wrestbrook Oklahoma
5 148 LB Blair Brown Ohio
7 222 CB Jalen Myrick Minnesota
7 240 FB Marquez Williams Miami

Incoming Free Agents

POS Player 2016 Team                        Contract
WR Bryan Walters Seattle Seahawks 2 years, $1.865 million
TE Michal Rivera Oakland Raiders 2 years, $3.25 million
G/T Earl Watford Arizona Cardinals 2 years, $5 million
DE Calais Campbell Arizona Cardinals 4 years, $60 million
DE Malliciah Goodman Atlanta Falcons  
DT Stefan Charles Detroit Lions 2 years, $4 million
LB Lerentee McCray Buffalo Bills 1 year, $2 million
LB Josh McNary Indianapolis Colts  
LB Audie Cole Minnesota Vikings 2 years, $2.6 million
CB A.J. Bouye Houston Texans 5 years, $67.5 million
S Barry Church Dallas Cowboys 4 years, $26 million

2017 Roster

Quarterbacks

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Passing Yds 2016 TDs/INTs
5 Blake Bortles 25 Drafted 1st RD 2014 3,905 23/16
7 Chad Henne 32 Free Agent (MIA) 2012
10 Brandon Allen 25 Drafted 6th RD 2016

Running Backs

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rushing Yards 2016 Rushing TDs
27 Leonard Fournette 22 Drafted 1st RD 2017 843 (NCAA) 8 (NCAA)
24 T.J. Yeldon 23 Drafted 2nd RD 2015 465 1
33 Chris Ivory 29 Free Agent (NYJ) 2016 439 3
30 Corey Grant 25 Undrafted FA 2015 164 1

Wide Receivers

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
15 Allen Robinson 24 Drafted 2nd RD 2014 883 6
11 Marquise Lee 25 Drafted 2nd RD 2014 851 3
88 Allen Hurns 25 Undrafted FA 2014 477 3
12 Dede Westbrook 23 Drafted 4th RD 2017 1,524 (NCAA) 17 (NCAA)
17 Arrelious Benn 29 Free Agent (PHI) 2015 116 1

Tight Ends

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
89 Mercedes Lewis 33 Drafted 1st RD 2006 169 1
83 Ben Koyack 24 Drafted 7th RD 2015 161 1
81 Mychal Rivera 27 Free Agent (OAK) 192 1

Offensive Line

POS # Name Age                 Acquired
LT 74 Cam Robinson 21 Drafted 2nd RD 2017
LG 77 Patrick Omameh 27 Free Agent (CHI) 2016
C 65 Brandon Linder 25 Drafted 3rd RD 2014
RG 60 A.J. Cann 25 Drafted 3rd RD 2015
RT 78 Jeremy Parnell 31 Free Agent (DAL) 2015

Special Teams

POS # Name Age Acquired
K 2 Jason Myers 26 Undrafted FA 2015
P 3 Brad Nortman 28 Free Agent (CAR) 2016
LS 46 Carson Tinker 27 Undrafted FA 2013

Defensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 Sacks
DE 56 Dante Fowler Jr. 23 Drafted 1st RD 2015 23 4.0
DT 95 Abry Jones 26 Undrafted FA 2013 26 0
DT 90 Malik Jackson 27 Free Agent (DEN) 2016 29 6.5
DE 93 Calais Campbell 31 Free Agent (ARI) 2017 34 8.0

Linebackers

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles/Sacks 2016 INTS/FF
OLB 51 Paul Posluszny 32 Free Agent (BUF) 2011 97/1.5 1/0
MLB 44 Myles Jack 22 Drafted 2nd RD 2016 16/0.5 0/0
OLB 50 Telvin Smith 26 Drafted 5th RD 2014 98/1.0 2/0

Secondary

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 INTs
CB 21 A.J. Bouye 26 Free Agent (HOU) 2017 48 1
FS 39 Tashaun Gipson 27 Free Agent (CLE) 2016 34 1
SS 42 Barry Church 29 Free Agent (DAL) 2017 61 2
CB 20 Jalen Ramsey 22 Drafted 1st RD 2016 55 2

2017 Schedule and Predictions

WK Date Opponent My Prediction
1 9/10 @ Houston Texans L
2 9/17 Vs Tennessee Titans W
3 9/24 Vs Baltimore Ravens W
4 10/1 @ New York Jets W
5 10/8 @ Pittsburgh Steelers L
6 10/15 Vs Los Angeles Rams W
7 10/22 @ Indianapolis Colts L
8 Bye Week  
9 11/5 Vs Cincinnati Bengals W
10 11/12 Vs Los Angeles Chargers L
11 11/19 @ Cleveland Browns W
12 11/26 @ Arizona Cardinals L
13 12/3 Vs Indianapolis Colts W
14 12/10 Vs Seattle Seahawks L
15 12/17 Vs Houston Texans L
16 12/24 @ San Francisco 49ers W
17 12/31 @ Tennessee Titans L

Season Outlook

  • Offense
    • Blake Bortles has to finally take a step forward and become a quarterback that was worthy of being selected third overall three years ago.  He has also struggled with throwing interceptions, and did so again last season, but took big steps back in other areas last year as well.  His passing yards dropped by over 500 yards from 2015 to last season and his average yards per game dipped below 250.  For the Jaguars to take another step towards making the playoffs, Bortles has to cut down on his interceptions and increase his production.
    • I think that the team needs to seriously consider going to Chad  Henne or even Brandon Allen to start the season given how poor Bortles has been and how well Henne and Allen have played so far this preseason.
    • The Jags running back situation has to be one of the best in the league considering they are adding Leonard Fournette to the mix. Fournette was probably ready to play in the NFL after his freshman season at LSU but stayed for two more seasons.  He only played in seven games last season but will be fully healthy when the season starts.  Of the running backs at the top of the draft board this year, Fournette was certainly the most well-rounded of them. He should be an immediate boost to the Jaguars offense and help take some of the strain off the passing game.
    • I like Jacksonville’s wide receiver group as much as I like their running backs. Allen Robinson should be a 1,000 yard receiver every season and Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns are very good numbers two and three options.  They also used a fourth round pick on Dede Westbrook, who had over 1,500 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last season at Oklahoma.  Even though the BIG 12 doesn’t have the best secondaries or defenses in general, anyone who watched college football last season will recognize how good he was.  If Westbrook can put some weight on his frame and can work on his route running, he can be a solid NFL receiver and give Bortles or whomever is their quarterback another good option.
    • Jacksonville’s offensive line took major strides last season and it should be as good, if not better, this season.  They took Cam Robinson out of Alabama with a second round pick.  In his three seasons with the Crimson Tide, he made every start at left tackle and was successful against the tenacious pass rushes of the SEC. If he can work on some of the deficiencies that were pointed out at the Combine, Robinson should be able to anchor the Jaguars offensive line for years to come.
  • Defense
    • I find it really hard to not be excited about the Jaguars defense. Their line consists of second year Dante Fowler Jr, who had four sacks in limited time last season, Malik Jackson’s six and half sacks, and free agent acquisition Calais Campbell with his eight sacks. This line is going to give opposing offensive lines fits all season long.
    • At linebacker, they have two of the better tacklers in the NFL in Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith, plus Myles Jack, who is electric and capable of so much.
    • Their secondary has been rebuilt this offseason with free agent acquisitions of A.J. Bouye and Barry Church.  These two should help a secondary that struggled so much against the pass last season. It also helps that Jalen Ramsey will be entering his second season after a very successful rookie year in which he started all 16 games.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • With the further development of their young players on defense, the Jaguars have the chance to be really solid.  I think that the additions of Bouye and Church will go a long way to stopping the pass and keeping the ball out of the end zone.
    • On offense, their draft picks should make a big difference.  I really like what they have done on their offensive line with the addition of Cam Robinson.  I think that taking Leonard Fournette with their first round pick was very smart because it will help take some stress of their quarterback.  That will, in turn, potentially allow their receivers to be more productive.
    • I believe that this could finally be the season in which the Jaguars turn the page and stop being the laughing stock of the division. Their schedule isn’t terrible apart from games against Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Seattle.  In their division, I think that they will lose both games against the Texans and split their series with the Titans and Colts.  I predict that they will finish with an 8-8 record.
  • Biggest Question Mark this Season
    • Is it time to consider the fact that Blake Bortles isn’t an NFL quarterback and turning to someone else could be smart?

*All stats and information come from Wikipedia, Roster Resource, Pro-Football Reference, Sports Reference, ESPN, NFL, Spotrac, and my previous blog

Indianapolis Colts Season Preview

2016 Colts

AFC South Finished 3rd in Division

Failed to make the playoffs

Overall Record: 8-8

(3-3 in the division)

Draft Position: 15th
Head Coach: Chuck Pagano (2012) GM: Chris Ballard (2017)

2016 Rankings

 
Yards/Game
Points/Game
Passing Yards/Game
Rushing Yards/Game
   
Offense 10th 8th T-5th 23rd TDs –

T-9th

 
Defense 30th 22nd 27th 25th Sacks –

T-19th

INTs –

T-29th

Outgoing Players

POS Player 2017 Team Contract
RB Jordan Todman New York Jets  1 year, $775,000
WR Quan Bray Free Agent  
G Hugh Thornton Atlanta Falcons 1 year, $690,000
C/G Jonotthan Harrison New York Jets 1 year, $850,000
DT Zach Kerr Denver Broncos 2 years, $3.25 million
LB Erik Walden Free Agent  
LB D’Qwell Jackson Free Agent  
LB Akeem Ayers Free Agent  
LB Trent Cole Free Agent  
LB Chris Carter Washington Redskins 1 year, $885,000
LB Josh McNary Jacksonville Jaguars  
S Mike Adams Carolina Panthers 2 years, $4.2 million
CB Patrick Robinson Philadelphia Eagles 1 year, $775,000
S Duke Williams Free Agent  
LB Robert Mathis Retired  
G Joe Reitz Retired  
P Pat McAfee Retired  

Draft Results

RD Pick POS Player College
1 15 S Malik Hooker Ohio State
2 46 CB Quincy Wilson Florida
3 80 LB Tarell Basham Ohio
4 137 T Zach Banner USC
4 143 RB Marlon Mack South Florida
4 144 DT Grover Stewart Albany State
5 158 CB Nate Hairston Temple
5 161 LB Anthony Walker Jr. Northwestern

Incoming Free Agents

POS Player 2016 Team                        Contract
RB Christine Michael Green Bay Packers  
WR Kamar Aiken Baltimore Ravens 1 year, $2.6 million
TE Brandon Williams Seattle Seahawks 1 year, $855,000
G Brian Schwenke Tennessee Titans 1 year, $1.3 million
DT Johnathan Hankins New York Giants 3 years, $27 million
DE Margus Hunt Cincinnati Bengals 2 years, $4.1 million
DT Al Woods Tennessee Titans 2 years, $4 million
LB John Simon Houston Texans 3 years, $13.5 million
LB Sean Spence Tennessee Titans 1 year, $2.5 million
LB Jabaal Sheard New England Patriots 3 years, $25.5 million
LB Barkevious Mingo New England Patriots 1 year, $2 million
LB Jonathan Bostic Detroit Lions 1 year, $690,000
P Jeff Locke Minnesota Vikings 2 years, $3.45 million

2017 Roster

Quarterbacks

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Passing Yds 2016 TDs/INTs
12 Andrew Luck 28 Drafted 1st RD 2012 4,240 31/13
16 Scott Tolzien 30 Free Agent (GB) 2016 216 1/2

Running Backs

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rushing Yards 2016 Rushing TDs
23 Frank Gore 34 Free Agent (SF) 2015 1,025 4
32 Christine Michael – Placed on IR 26 Free Agent (GB) 2017 583 7
33 Robert Turbin 27 Free Agent (DAL) 2016 164 7
25 Marlon Mack 21 Drafted 4th RD 2017 1,187 (NCAA) 15 (NCAA)
34 Josh Ferguson 24 Undrafted FA 2016 20 0

Wide Receivers

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
13 T.Y. Hilton 27 Drafted 3rd RD 2012 1,448 6
10 Donte Moncrief 24 Drafted 3rd RD 2014 307 7
15 Phillip Dorsett 24 Drafted 1st RD 2015 528 2
1 Kamar Aiken 28 Free Agent (BAL) 2017 328 1
80 Chester Rogers 23 Undrafted FA 2016 273 0

Tight Ends

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
84 Jack Doyle 27 Free Agent (TEN) 2013 584 5
86 Erik Swoope 25 Undrafted FA 2014 297 1
85 Brandon Williams 29 Free Agent (SEA) 2017 36 0

Offensive Line

POS # Name Age                 Acquired
LT 74 Anthony Castonzo 29 Drafted 1st RD 2011
LG 75 Jack Mewhort 25 Drafted 2nd RD 2014
C 78 Ryan Kelly – Placed on IR  24 Drafted 1st RD 2016
RG 75 Jack Mewhort 26 Drafted 2nd RD 2014
RT 73 Joe Haag 24 Drafted 5th RD 2016

Special Teams

POS # Name Age Acquired
K 4 Adam Vinatieri 44 Free Agent (NE) 2006
P 9 Jeff Locke 27 Free Agent (MIN) 2017

Defensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 Sacks
DE 90 Kendall Langford 31 Free Agent (STL) 2015 8 0
DT 95 Johnathan Hankins 25 Free Agent (NYG) 2017 29 3.0
DE 96 Henry Anderson 26 Drafted 3rd RD 2015 9 0

Linebackers

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles/Sacks 2016 INTS/FF
OLB 51 John Simon 26 Free Agent (HOU) 2017 32/3.5 0/1
MLB 53 Edwin Jackson 25 Free Agent (ARI) 2015 42/2.0 0/0
MLB 57 Jonathan Bostic 26 Free Agent (DET) 2017
OLB 93 Jabaal Sheard 28 Free Agent (NE) 2017 20/5.0 0/0

Secondary

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 INTs
CB 21 Vontae Davis 29 Trade (MIA) 2012 34 1
FS 29 Malik Hooker 21 Drafted 1st RD 2017 74 (NCAA) 7 (NCAA)
SS 26 Clayton Geathers 25 Drafted 4th RD 2015 49 0
CB 31  Quincy Wilson 22 Drafted 2nd RD 2017 33 (NCAA) 3 (NCAA)

2017 Schedule and Predictions

WK Date Opponent My Prediction
1 9/10 @ Los Angeles Rams W
2 9/17 Vs Arizona Cardinals L
3 9/24 Vs Cleveland Browns W
4 10/1 @ Seattle Seahawks L
5 10/8 Vs San Francisco 49ers W
6 10/16 @ Tennessee Titans L
7 10/22 Vs Jacksonville Jaguars W
8 10/29 @ Cincinnati Bengals L
9 11/5 @ Houston Texans L
10 11/12 Vs Pittsburgh Steelers L
11 Bye Week  
12 11/26 Vs Tennessee Titans L
13 12/3 @ Jacksonville Jaguars L
14 12/10 @ Buffalo Bills W
15 12/14 Vs Denver Broncos L
16 12/23 @ Baltimore Ravens L
17 12/31 Vs Houston Texans L

Season Outlook

  • Offense
    • I have real concerns over the Colts offense, and specifically, the health of Andrew Luck’s throwing shoulder.  He underwent surgery on it this offseason and has yet to resume throwing and was played on the PUP list, making a week one start very unlikely.  I don’t think this team has enough weapons to overcome a long-term injury to Luck.  The Colts also have one of the worst backup QB situations in the NFL so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sign a veteran free agent to add depth.
    • I question their running game and how many more productive years Frank Gore has left in him.
    • I really like their receiving weapons and think T.Y. Hilton is one of the best receivers in football but if there is no one to throw him the ball, how valuable can he be?
    • I am surprised that they didn’t do more this offseason to address their offensive line, which allowed the fifth most sacks in the league last season.  They spent a fourth round pick on tackle Zach Benner but thought that perhaps they would use a higher pick on a lineman.
  • Defense
    • The front office devoted a lot of attention to this side of the ball over the offseason, both in the draft and via free agency.
    • Using a first round pick on safety Malik Hooker was smart because he can be the impact anchor in the secondary that they have been missing.  Hooker is hurt currently, however, and is on the PUP list, so there is no telling when he will be able to start playing. Drafting Quincy Wilson out of Florida will likely be a solid selection as well.
    • They spent a lot of money in free agency completely overhauling their linebacker group by signing John Simon, Sean Spence, and Jabaal Sheard, plus depth players Barkevious Mingo, and Jonathan Bostic.
    • There is no way that the Colts defense can’t have improved over the offseason unless everyone gets hurt or their free agency signings forget how to play football.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • The Colts have now missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons and I don’t expect that to change this season.
    • The hold that the team had on the division for so many seasons is now gone and I think they have been surpassed by the Texans and Titans, and potentially, even the Jaguars.
    • I would argue that the defense is now the better unit and that their offense is going to hold them back this season.
    • Playing in as difficult a division as they do, plus an out-of-division schedule that includes the NFC West and AFC North means that the Colts are going to have a tough go this season.  I think that they will lose both games against the Titans and Texans this season, plus split their games against the Jaguars.  I also think that they will lose generally all of their tough games and will finish the season with a 5-11 record and miss the playoffs again.
  • Biggest Question Mark this Season
    • When is Andrew Luck going to be able to return to the field and is he a damaged good at this point in his career?

*All stats and information come from Wikipedia, Roster Resource, Pro-Football Reference, Sports Reference, ESPN, NFL, Spotrac, and my previous blog

Houston Texans Season Preview

2016 Texans

AFC South Finished 1st in Division

Beat Oakland in Wild Card Round

Lost to New England in Divisional Round

Overall Record: 9-7

(5-1 in the division)

Draft Position: 25th
Head Coach: Bill O’Brien (2014) GM: Rick Smith (2006)

2016 Rankings

 
Yards/Game
Points/Game
Passing Yards/Game
Rushing Yards/Game
Offense 29th T-28th 29th 8th TDs –

31st

Defense 1st 11th 2nd 12th Sacks –

T-24th

INTs –

T-21st

Outgoing Players

POS Player 2017 Team Contract
RB Johnathan Grimes Jacksonville Jaguars  1 year, $775,000
G/T Oday Aboushi Seattle Seahawks 1 year, $975,000
G/C Tony Bergstrom Arizona Cardinals 1 year, $775,000
DT Vince Wilfork Retired
DE Antonio Smith Free Agent
DT Devon Still New York Jets  1 year, $775,000
LB John Simon Indianapolis Colts 3 years, $13.5 million
LB Akeem Dent Free Agent
CB A.J. Bouye Jacksonville Jaguars 5 years, $67.5 million
S Quintin Demps Chicago Bears 3 years, $13.5 million
S Don Jones San Francisco 49ers 2 years, $2.2 million

Draft Results

RD Pick POS Player College
1 12 QB Deshaun Watson Clemson
2 57 LB Zach Cunningham Vanderbilt
3 89 RB D’Onta Foreman Texas
4 130 T Julien Davenport Bucknell
4 142 DT Carlos Watkins Clemson
5 169 CB Treston Decoud Oregon State
7 243 C Kyle Fuller Baylor

Incoming Free Agents

POS Player 2016 Team                        Contract
WR Dres Anderson Chicago Bears 1 year, $465,000
T Breno Giacomini New York Jets 1 year, $2.75 million
LB Sio Moore Arizona Cardinals 1 year, $775,000

2017 Roster

Quarterbacks

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Passing Yds 2016 TDs/INTs
4 Deshaun Watson 22 Drafted 1st RD 2017 4,593 (NCAA) 41/17 (NCAA)
3 Tom Savage 27 Drafted 4th RD 2014 461 0/0
5 Brandon Weeden 33 Waivers (DAL) 2015

Running Backs

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rushing Yards 2016 Rushing TDs
26 Lamar Miller 26 Free Agent (MIA) 2016 1,073 5
28 Alfred Blue 26 Drafted 6th RD 2014 420 1
27 D’Onta Foreman 21 Drafted 3rd RD 2017 2,028 (NCAA) 15 (NCAA)
33 Akeem Hunt 24 Free Agent (BAL) 2015 109 0
34 Tyler Ervin 23 Drafted 4th RD 2016 3 0

Wide Receivers

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
10 DeAndre Hopkins 25 Drafted 1st RD 2013 954 4
15 Will Fuller V 23 Drafted 1st RD 2016 635 2
13 Braxton Miller 24 Drafted 3rd RD 2016 99 1
11 Jaelen Strong 23 Drafted 3rd RD 2015 131 0
82 Wendall Williams 27 Free Agent (NYJ) 2016 75 0

Tight Ends

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
87 C.J. Fiedorowicz 32 Drafted 1st RD 2008 559 4
84 Ryan Griffin 27 Drafted 6th RD 2013 442 2
89 Stephen Anderson 24 Undrafted FA 2016 93 1

Offensive Line

POS # Name Age                 Acquired
LT 76 Duane Brown 32 Drafted 1st RD 2008
LG 71 Xavier Su’a-Filo 26 Drafted 2nd RD 2014
C 66 Nick Martin 24 Drafted 2nd RD 2016
RG 79 Jeff Allen 27 Free Agent (KC) 2016
RT 74 Chris Clark 31 Trade (DEN) 2015

Special Teams

POS # Name Age Acquired
K 8 Nick Novak 36 Free Agent (SD) 2015
K 7 Ka’imi Fairbairn 23 Undrafted FA 2016
P 9 Shane Lechler 41 Free Agent (OAK) 2013
LS 46 Jonathan Weeks 31 Undrafted FA 2010

Defensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 Sacks
DE 99 J.J. Watt 28 Drafted 1st RD 2011 1 1.5
DT 98 D.J. Reader 23 Drafted 5th RD 2016 7 1.0
DE 90 Jadeveon Clowney 24 Drafted 1st RD 2014 40 6.0

Linebackers

POS # Name Age Acquired
2016 Tackles/Sacks
2016 INTS/FF
OLB 59 Whitney Mercilus 27 Drafted 1st RD 2012 36/7.5 0/1
MLB 56 Brian Cushing 30 Drafted 1st RD 2009 38/0 0/0
MLB 55 Benardrick McKinney 24 Drafted 2nd RD 2015 79/5.0 0/1
OLB 41 Zach Cunningham 22 Drafted 2nd RD 2017 125/0 (NCAA) 0/2 (NCAA)

Secondary

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 INTs
CB 25 Kareem Jackson 29 Drafted 1st RD 2010 51 1
FS 29 Andre Hal 25 Drafted 7th RD 2014 31 2
SS 43 Corey Moore 24 Undrafted FA 2015 18 0
CB 24 Johnathan Joseph 33 Free Agent (CIN) 2011 38 0

2017 Schedule and Predictions

WK Date Opponent My Prediction
1 9/10 Vs Jacksonville Jaguars W
2 9/14 @ Cincinnati Bengals W
3 9/24 @ New England Patriots L
4 10/1 Vs Tennessee Titans W
5 10/8 Vs Kansas City Chiefs W
6 10/15 Vs Cleveland Browns W
7 Bye Week
8 10/29 @ Seattle Seahawks L
9 11/5 Vs Indianapolis Colts W
10 11/12 @ Los Angeles Rams W
11 11/19 Vs Arizona Cardinals W
12 11/27 @ Baltimore Ravens W
13 12/3 @ Tennessee Titans L
14 12/10 Vs San Francisco 49ers W
15 12/17 @ Jacksonville Jaguars W
16 12/25 Vs Pittsburgh Steelers W
17 12/31 @ Indianapolis Colts W

Season Outlook

  • Offense
    • I know that people question the Texans’ decision to trade an extra first round pick to Cleveland for the 12th overall pick this year in order to take quarterback Deshaun Watson.  I do not, however.  I watched a lot of Clemson football the past two seasons, which could color my vision a bit, but the Texans need a franchise quarterback for the first time in their franchise’s history, and Watson can flat-out play.  He is more of a pocket passer than other mobile quarterbacks, and worked on this more during his senior year. He is also 6’3″, 220 pounds, and can take hits. If I am the Texans front office, I also trust head coach Bill O’Brien and his ability to basically be a quarterback whisperer, even though it didn’t work with Brock Osweiler.  Watson is very smart and worked extremely hard in 2016 to beat Alabama in the National Championship Game one year after losing to them.  Watson is a winner and Houston needs that mentality at quarterback.  I also don’t think that there were many other quarterback options in this year’s draft and even though Sam Darnold is eligible next year, he’s going to go too high for the Texans to get a chance.
    • Watson may not be the starter at the beginning of the season, which is fine, because they do have Tom Savage, who has proven that he is capable of playing competent football for a season.
    • The Texans already had one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL last season and added D’Onta Foreman and his 2,000 rushing yards to that position group.  Foreman will likely have to learn to be patient and allow his blockers to open lanes for him, because he did play in the BIG 12, but he seems to be a very talented running back.
    • I really like their wide receivers and tight ends, led by DeAndre Hopkins, who nearly got to 1,000 receiving yards despite poor quarterback play last season. Potential full seasons from Will Fuller, Jaelen Strong, and Braxton Miller could lead to a much more lethal receiver group.  I also like C.J. Fiedorowicz, their starting tight end, because he is 6’5″ and 265 pounds.  He has to be a nightmare for secondaries and linebackers to cover and I look for the Texans to take advantage of his talent more this season.
  • Defense
    • Last season, the Texans managed to put together the top ranked defense in the league in terms of yards allowed per game and that was without J.J. Watt for most of the season.  Getting him back is like getting an extra first round draft pick.
    • Even though they weren’t as good against rushing attacks as they were against the pass, the return of Watt will help with this.  They will also get help from new draft pick Zach Cunningham, an excellent linebacker out of Vanderbilt. He had 125 tackles last season and will give their rush defense a boost immediately.
    • I think their secondary could prove problematic this season after letting three members of last year’s team, A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps, and Don Jones, all leave in free agency this offseason.  They are going to have to rely on relatively unproven players.  Prior to the offseason, I thought that the Texans would use their first round pick on a safety such as Jabrill Peppers, but they traded up and spent it on Watson.
    • I think that with the return of Watt and others from injury, plus the selection of Cunningham in the draft will help the Texans get back to being the best defense in the league.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • I really like this Texans team.  They have been able to make the playoffs each of the past two seasons despite not having good quarterbacks and relying heavily on their elite defense.
    • That should be better this season as they will have a better defense than last season and even have a more balanced offense with more depth at running back.
    • I personally think Deshaun Watson can be the franchise quarterback this team has been looking for since it was started 16 years ago.  He may take a full season to be comfortable, but he has the intelligence and work ethic to succeed.
    • I don’t think there is much of a doubt that the Texans have the most talented roster in the AFC South.  I think that they will win both games against Jacksonville and Indianapolis, and split their games with Tennessee.  Their out of division games aren’t terrible apart from games at New England, Seattle, and a home game against Pittsburgh.  I think that they will lose the first two but beat the Steelers and finish 13-3.
  • Biggest Question Mark this Season
    • Can the Texans finally get consistently good quarterback play for the first time in a long time? And will that come from Deshaun Watson to start the season?

*All stats and information come from Wikipedia, Roster Resource, Pro-Football Reference, Sports Reference, ESPN, nfl.com, Spotrac, and my previous blog

Green Bay Packers Season Recap

2016 Packers

NFC North Finished 1st in Division

Beat Giants in Wild Card Round

Lost to Dallas in Divisional Round

Overall Record: 10-6

(5-1 in the division)

Draft Position: 29th
Head Coach: Mike McCarthy (2006) GM: Ted Thompson (2005)

2016 Rankings

 
Yards/Game
Points/Game
Passing Yards/Game
Rushing Yards/Game
   
Offense 8th 4th 7th 20th TDs –

T-3rd

 
Defense 22nd 21st 31st 8th Sacks –

T-6th

INTs –

T-4th

Outgoing Players

POS Player 2017 Team Contract
RB Eddie Lacy Seattle Seahawks 1 year, $4.25 million
RB James Starks Free Agent  
RB John Crockett Oakland Raiders  1 year, $540,000
TE Jared Cook Oakland Raiders 2 years, $10.6 million
G T.J. Lang Detroit Lions 3 years, $28.5 million
C/G JC Tretter Cleveland Browns 3 years, $16.75 million
LB Julius Peppers Carolina Panthers 1 year, $3.5 million
DE Datone Jones Minnesota Vikings 1 year, $3.75 million
DE Ego Ferguson Detroit Lions 1 year, $615,000
S Micah Hyde Buffalo Bills 5 years, $30.5 million
CB Sam Shields Free Agent  

Draft Results

RD Pick POS Player College
2 33 CB Kevin King Washington
2 61 S Josh Jones NC State
3 93 DT Montravius Adams Auburn
4 108 OLB Vince Biegel Wisconsin
4 134 RB Jamaal Williams BYU
5 175 WR DeAngelo Yancey Purdue
5 182 RB Aaron Jones UTEP
6 212 G Kofi Amichia South Florida
7 238 RB Devante Mays Utah State
7 247 WR Malachi Dupre LSU

Incoming Free Agents

POS Player 2016 Team                        Contract
TE Martellus Bennett New England Patriots 3 years, $21 million
TE Lance Kendricks Los Angeles Rams 2 years, $4 million
DE Ricky Jean-Francois Washington Redskins 1 year, $2 million
CB Davon House Jacksonville Jaguars 1 year, $2.8 million
P Justin Vogel Undrafted Free Agent 3 years, $1.665 million
G Jahri Evans New Orleans Saints 1 year, $2.25 million

2017 Roster

Quarterbacks

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Passing Yds 2016 TDs/INTs
12 Aaron Rodgers 33 Drafted 1st RD 2005 4,428 40/7
7 Brett Hundley 24 Drafted 5th RD 2015 17 0/1
6 Joe Callahan 24 Free Agent (CLE) 2016

Running Backs

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rushing Yards 2016 Rushing TDs
88 Ty Montgomery 24 Drafted 3rd RD 2015 457 3
30 Jamaal Williams 22 Drafted 4th RD 2017 1,375 (NCAA) 12 (NCAA)
33 Aaron Jones 22 Drafted 5th RD 2017 1,773 (NCAA) 17 (NCAA)
32 Devante Mays 23 Drafted 7th RD 2017 259 (NCAA) 3 (NCAA)

Wide Receivers

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
87 Jordy Nelson 32 Drafted 2nd RD 2008 1,257 14
17 Davante Adams 24 Drafted 2nd RD 2014 997 12
18 Randall Cobb 27 Drafted 2nd RD 2011 610 4
83 Jeff Janis 26 Drafted 7th RD 2014 93 1
16 DeAngelo Yancey 22 Drafted 5th RD 2017 951 (NCAA) 10 (NCAA)

Tight Ends

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
80  Martellus Bennett 30 Free Agent (NE) 2017 701 7
84 Lance Kendricks 29 Free Agent (LAR) 2017 499 2
82 Richard Rodgers 25 Drafted 3rd RD 2014 271 2

Offensive Line

POS # Name Age                 Acquired
LT 69 David Bakhtiari 25 Drafted 4th RD 2013
LG 65 Lane Taylor 27 Undrafted FA 2013
C 63 Cory Linsley 26 Drafted 5th RD 2014
RG 78 Jason Spriggs 23 Drafted 2nd RD 2016
RT 75 Bryan Bulaga 28 Drafted 1st RD 2010

Special Teams

POS # Name Age Acquired
K 2 Mason Crosby 33 Drafted 6th RD 2007
P 5 Justin Vogel 23 Undrafted FA 2017
LS 61 Brett Goode 32 Free Agent (JAX) 2008

Defensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 Sacks
DE 97 Kenny Clark 21 Drafted 1st RD 2016 12 0
DT 90 Montravius Adams 22 Drafted 3rd RD 2017 43 (NCAA) 4.0 (NCAA)
DE 76 Mike Daniels 28 Drafted 4th RD 2012 25 4.0

Linebackers

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles/Sacks 2016 INTS/FF
OLB 53 Nick Perry 27 Drafted 1st RD 2012 35/11.0 1/0
MLB 50 Blake Martinez 23 Drafted 4th RD 2016 44/1.0 1/0
MLB 47 Jake Ryan 25 Drafted 4th RD 2015 56/0 0/0
OLB 52 Clay Matthews 31 Drafted 1st RD 2009 20/5.0 0/1

Secondary

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 INTs
CB 20 Kevin King 22 Drafted 2nd RD 2017 44 (NCAA) 2 (NCAA)
FS 21 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 24 Drafted 1st RD 2014 61 5
SS 42 Morgan Burnett 28 Drafted 3rd RD 2010 68 2
CB 24 Quinten Rollins 25 Drafted 2nd RD 2015 39 1

2017 Schedule and Predictions

WK Date Opponent My Prediction
1 9/10 Vs Seattle Seahawks W
2 9/17 @ Atlanta Falcons W
3 9/24 Vs Cincinnati Bengals W
4 9/28 Vs Chicago Bears W
5 10/8 @ Dallas Cowboys L
6 10/15 @ Minnesota Vikings L
7 10/22 Vs New Orleans Saints W
8 Bye Week  
9 11/6 Vs Detroit Lions W
10 11/12 @ Chicago Bears W
11 11/19 Vs Baltimore Ravens W
12 11/26 @ Pittsburgh Steelers L
13 12/3 Vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers W
14 12/10 @ Cleveland Browns W
15 12/17 @ Carolina Panthers W
16 12/23 Vs Minnesota Vikings W
17 12/31 @ Detroit Lions W

Season Outlook

  • Offense
    • Aaron Rodgers put together one of the best seasons of his career last year and led the league in touchdowns.  Any murmurs that were present in 2015 regarding his regression from being an elite quarterback were put to rest last season.  If he can have a repeat performance in 2017, the Packers offense is going to be elite.
    • The Packers have to get more production from their running backs this season.  Ty Montgomery led the team in rushing last season with 457 yards and Aaron Rodgers was their second leading rusher. The Packers used three of their draft picks addressing this position, including two, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, who rushed for over 1,000 yards at the college level last season. There is a large difference in quality of competition between their respective schools, BYU and UTEP, and the NFL, but both should translate well.
    • At the receiver and tight end positions, the Packers will return one of the best groups of pass catchers in the NFL.  Jordy Nelson had over 1,200 yards receiving last season and led the league in touchdowns with 14, and Davante Adams finished three yards shy of 1,000.  They add to this group Martellus Bennett, a tight end who was a key member of the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots last season.
    • As an offense, the Packers should be every bit as good this season and should be even better.  It is almost impossible for the Packers to have a worse rushing attack than they did last season, and as long as their offensive line can keep Aaron Rodgers off his back better than they did last season, then the team should be in good shape.
  • Defense
    • The Packers had a pretty solid defense last season despite being unable to keep the ball out of the endzone, largely the result of a poor secondary, which struggled to hinder opponent’s passing attacks.
    • They used a very high second round pick on Kevin King, a cornerback out of Washington who was a key member of their elite secondary last season.  He, alongside fellow draft pick, Josh Jones, should provide an immediate spark to the Packers secondary.  They will certainly be tested out of the gate as they play the Seahawks, Falcons, and Bengals the first three weeks of the season.
    • If the Packers can be even league average against the pass, the team has a good chance to be a favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • The Packers should be one of the best offenses in the league this season provided at least one of their rookie running backs works out.  Their passing game is going to give even the best secondaries fits now that they have Martellus Bennett.
    • I do think that there is reason to believe in their defense being better against the pass after spending two draft picks on members of the secondary. However, if they suffer an injury in this area or if one of their two rookies don’t pan out, they are going to have to address it via trade because they simply aren’t good enough.
    • This Packers team should be really good this season and I don’t know many teams who could legitimately make the claim that they potentially have two MVP Award winners on their roster in Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.
    • I expect that the Packers will once again win their division simply because they continue to do enough to outpace their divisional foes. They certainly have a difficult schedule out of division, with games against Seattle Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay.  I do think that they will win all of these games except for the ones against the Cowboys and Steelers.  I predict that the Packers will go 13-3 this season and win the NFC North, grabbing one of the top seeds in the conference along with way.
  • Biggest Question Mark this Season
    • Can the Packers find some stability at running back? They have Ty Montgomery returning but it remains to be seen if he is a true running back. They took three in the draft so they should be able to find at least one that sticks, but the position was their biggest weakness on offense last season so this will be vital.

*All stats and information come from Wikipedia, Roster Resource, Pro-Football Reference, Sports Reference, ESPN, nfl.com, Spotrac, and my previous blog

Detroit Lions Season Preview

2016 Lions

NFC North Finished 2nd in Division

Lost to Seattle in the Wild Card Round

Overall Record: 9-7

(3-3 in the division)

Draft Position: 21st
Head Coach: Jim Caldwell (2014) GM: Bob Quinn (2016)

2016 Rankings

 
Yards/Game
Points/Game
Passing Yards/Game
Rushing Yards/Game
   
Offense 21st 20th 11th 30th TDs –

T-20th

 
Defense 18th 13th 19th 18th Sacks –

T-30th

INTs –

T-23rd

Outgoing Players

POS Player 2017 Team Contract
QB Dan Orlovsky Los Angeles Rams  
RB Joique Bell Free Agent  
RB George Winn Free Agent  
WR Anquan Boldin Buffalo Bills  1 year, $2.75 million
WR Andre Roberts Atlanta Falcons 1 year, $1.8 million
TE Clay Harbor Free Agent  
TE Matthew Mulligan Free Agent  
TE Tim Wright Free Agent  
G Larry Warford New Orleans Saints 4 years, $34 million
T Riley Reiff Minnesota Vikings 5 years, $58.75 million
G Garrett Reynolds Free Agent  
DE Devin Taylor New York Giants  1 year, $815,000
DE Tyrunn Walker Los Angeles Rams 1 year, $855,000
DT Stefan Charles Jacksonville Jaguars 2 years, $4 million
LB DeAndre Levy Free Agent  
LB Josh Bynes Arizona Cardinals  1 year, $775,000
LB Jonathan Bostic Indianapolis Colts 1 year, $690,000
DB Rafael Bush New Orleans Saints 1 year, $855,000
DB Asa Jackson San Francisco 49ers  1 year, $775,000
DB Crezdon Butler Free Agent  
LS Don Muhlbach Free Agent  

Draft Results

RD Pick POS Player College
1 21 LB Jarrad Davis Florida
2 53 CB Teez Tabor Florida
3 96 WR Kenny Golladay Northern Illinois
4 124 LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin Tennessee
4 127 TE Michael Roberts Toledo
5 165 CB Jamal Agnew San Diego
6 2015 DE Jeremiah Ledbetter Arkansas
6 215 QB Brad Kaaya Miami
7 250 DE Pat O’Connor Eastern Michigan

Incoming Free Agents

POS Player 2016 Team Contract
RB Matt Asiata Minnesota Vikings 1 year, $775,000
WR Keshawn Martin San Francisco 49ers 1 year, $885,000
TE Darren Fells Arizona Cardinals 1 year, $1 million
G T.J. Lang Green Bay Packers 3 years, $28.5 million
T Ricky Wagner Baltimore Ravens 5 years, $47.5 million
T/G Cyrus Kouandjio Buffalo Bills 1 year, $800,000
T Pierce Burton Indianapolis Colts 1 year, $465,000
DE Cornelius Washington Chicago Bears 2 years, $5.825 million
DE Ego Ferguson Green Bay Packers 1 year, $615,000
DT Akeem Spence Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3 years, $9 million
DT Jordan Hill Jacksonville Jaguars 1 year, $855,000
LB Paul Worrilow Atlanta Falcons 1 year, $3 million
LB Nick Bellore San Francisco 49ers 1 year, $855,000
CB D.J. Hayden Oakland Raiders 1 year, $3.75 million

2017 Roster

Quarterbacks

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Passing Yds 2016 TDs/INTs
9 Matthew Stafford 29 Drafted 1st RD 2009 4,327 24/10
14 Jake Rudock 24 Drafted 6th RD 2016
  Brad Kaaya 22 Drafted 6th RD 2017 3,532 (NCAA) 27/7 (NCAA)

Running Backs

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rushing Yards 2016 Rushing TDs
21 Ameer Abdullah 24 Drafted 2nd RD 2015 101 0
25 Theo Reddick 26 Drafted 6th RD 2013 357 1
34 Zach Zenner 26 Undrafted FA 2015 334 4
  Matt Asiata 30 Free Agent (MIN) 2017 121 6
36 Dwayne Washington 23 Drafted 7th RD 2016 265 1

Wide Receivers

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
11 Marvin Jones 27 Free Agent (CIN) 2016 930 4
15 Golden Tate 29 Free Agent (SEA) 2014 1,077 4
13 T.J. Jones 25 Drafted 6th RD 2014 93 0
  Kenny Golladay 23 Drafted 3rd RD 2017 1,156 (NCAA) 8 (NCAA)
  Keshawn Martin 27 Free Agent (SF) 2017

Tight Ends

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
85 Eric Ebron 24 Drafted 1st RD 2014 711 1
  Darren Fells 31 Free Agent (ARI) 2017 154 1
89 Cole Wick 23 Undrafted FA 2016 18 0
  Michael Roberts 23 Drafted 4th RD 2017 533 (NCAA) 16 (NCAA)

Offensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired
LT 66 Joe Dahl 24 Drafted 5th RD 2016
LG 60 Graham Glasgow 25 Drafted 5th RD 2016
C 64 Travis Swanson 26 Drafted 3rd RD 2014
RG   T.J. Lang 29 Free Agent (GB) 2017
RT   Ricky Wagner 27 Free Agent (BAL) 2017

Special Teams

POS # Name Age Acquired
K 5 Matt Prater 33 Free Agent (DEN) 2014
P 6 Sam Martin 27 Drafted 5th RD 2013
LS 42 Jimmy Landes 25 Drafted 6th RD 2016

Defensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 Sacks
DE 61 Kerry Hyder 26 Free Agent (NYJ) 2015 23 8.0
DT 91 A’Shawn Robinson 22 Drafted 2nd RD 2016 22 2.0
DT 92 Haloti Ngata 33 Trade (BAL) 2015 11 1.5
DE 94 Ezekiel Ansah 28 Drafted 1st RD 2013 21 2.0

Linebackers

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles/Sacks 2016 INTS/FF
OLB   Paul Worrilow 27 Free Agent (ATL) 2017 12/0 0/0
MLB   Jarrad Davis 22 Drafted 1st RD 2017 60/2.0 (NCAA) 0/0 (NCAA)
OLB 59 Tahir Whitehead 27 Drafted 5th RD 2012 99/0 0/0

Secondary

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 INTs
CB 23 Darius Slay 26 Drafted 2nd RD 2008 43 2
FS 27 Glover Quin 31 Free Agent (HOU) 2013 55 2
SS 32 Tavon Wilson 27 Free Agent (NE) 2016 72 2
CB 24 Nevin Lawson 26 Drafted 4th RD 2014 45 0

2017 Schedule and Predictions

WK Date Opponent My Prediction
1 9/10 Vs Arizona Cardinals W
2 9/18 @ New York Giants L
3 9/24 Vs Atlanta Falcons L
4 10/1 @ Minnesota Vikings L
5 10/8 Vs Carolina Panthers W
6 10/15 @ New Orleans Saints W
7 Bye Week  
8 10/29 Vs Pittsburgh Steelers L
9 11/6 @ Green Bay Packers L
10 11/12 Vs Cleveland Browns W
11 11/19 @ Chicago Bears W
12 11/23 Vs Minnesota Vikings L
13 12/3 @ Baltimore Ravens L
14 12/10 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers L
15 12/16 Vs Chicago Bears W
16 12/24 @ Cincinnati Bengals L
17 12/31 Vs Green Bay Packers L

Season Outlook

  • Offense
    • The Lions offense took a serious step back last season, despite Matthew Stafford’s excellent season.  The problem is that they had to rely on him way too much, as he accounted for almost 80% of the team’s total yards last year.  
    • Their ground game gave them virtually no output, with Theo Riddick pacing the team with 357 yards.  As a team, they rushed for only 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns, not enough production for a team attempting to win a Super Bowl.  They did have a lot of injuries a the running back position to deal with and will be banking on their returns to health.  They did bring in veteran Matt Asiata to help generate more of a rushing attack.  At the very least, Asiata has shown an ability to get into the end zone, scoring six touchdowns last season, tying the number scored by Lions’ running backs last year.  
    • At receiver, they are bringing back the same unit, minus Anquan Boldin and Andre Roberts, but they did add Kenny Golladay out of Northern Illinois in the draft.  They do have a good group of receivers, including Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, both of whom will need to have good seasons in addition to tight end Eric Ebron.  
    • I think that they strengthened their offensive line over the offseason by bringing in T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner through free agency.
  • Defense
    • On defense, they also regressed badly last season, ranking 30th in sacks and tied for 23rd in interceptions.  
    • They didn’t really change much on the defensive line, choosing to add to their depth rather than finding someone to start.  
    • At linebacker, they signed Paul Worrilow out of Atlanta and drafted Jarrad Davis with the 21st overall pick.  While at the University of Florida, Davis was solid in the middle but likely won’t add much to the pass rush.  
    • In the secondary, they added D.J. Hayden in free agency and drafted Jalen Tabor, also out of Florida.  The Lions are going to rely on Tabor’s development into an NFL cornerback because of how much their secondary struggled last season.  
    • Hopefully with the return of players from injuries, plus the further development of young players, especially Anthony Zettel, the Lions can have a better defense.  They need to get better in every area, and I think that they will be able to make strides against the rush and generating a better pass rush.  I do still have questions regarding their secondary, however.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • Detroit made the playoffs last season with a 9-7 record and lost to Seattle in the Wild Card Round.  I think that they are going to struggle to return to the playoffs this season simply because of how much better the NFC figures to be.  
    • The Lions schedule also won’t do them any favors, as they play the Giants and Buccaneers on the road, plus face the Panthers, Steelers, and Falcons at home. Their early stretch of games before their bye week is brutal, playing Arizona, the Giants, Atlanta, Minnesota, Carolina, and New Orleans in consecutive weeks.  I have them finishing that stretch 3-3, but if they can steal one of these losses, then perhaps the playoffs are a possibility.  If their injured players from last season can return to their pre-injury forms, if they can get a good rushing attack going, and if their defensive struggles can solve themselves, then I think that this team can surprise some people.  However, right now, I don’t expect them to be a playoff team and predict them having a record of 6-10.
  • Biggest Question Mark this Season
    • Has the front office done enough at left tackle to keep Matthew Stafford protected?

*All stats and information come from Wikipedia, Roster Resource, Pro-Football Reference, Sports Reference, ESPN, nfl.com, Spotrac, and my previous blog

Denver Broncos Season Recap

2016 Broncos

AFC West Finished 3rd in Division

Failed to make the playoffs

Overall Record: 9-7

(2-4 in the division)

Draft Position: 20th
Head Coach: Vance Joseph (2017) GM: John Elway (2011)

2016 Rankings

 
Yards/Game
Points/Game
Passing Yards/Game
Rushing Yards/Game
   
Offense 27th 22nd T-21st 27th TDs –

T-24th

 
Defense 4th 4th 1st 31st Sacks –

T-3rd

INTs –

T-12th

Outgoing Players

POS Player 2017 Team Contract
WR Jordan Norwood Free Agent  
T Russell Okung Los Angeles Chargers 4 years, $53 million
C/G Sam Brenner Free Agent  
DT Vance Walker Free Agent  
T Sylvester Williams Tennessee Titans 3 years, $17.5 million
LB Dekoda Watson San Francisco 49ers 3 years, $5.1 million
DB Kayvon Webster Los Angeles Rams 2 years, $7.75 million
LS Thomas Gafford New Orleans Saints 1 year, $900,000
QB Anthony Davis Seattle Sehawks 1 year, $855,000
RB Justin Forsett Retired  
DE DeMarcus Ware Retired  

Draft Results

RD Pick POS Player College
1 20 T Garrett Bolles Utah
2 51 DE DeMarcus Walker Florida State
3 82 WR Carlos Henderson Louisiana Tech
3 101 CB Brendan Langely Lamar
5 145 TE Jake Butt Michigan
5 172 WR Isaiah McKenzie Georgia
6 203 RB De’Angelo Henderson Coastal Carolina
7 253 QB Chad Kelly Ole Miss

Incoming Free Agents

POS Player 2016 Team                        Contract
RB Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs 1 year, $2.5 million
G Ronald Leary Dallas Cowboys 4 years, $36 million
T Menelik Watson Oakland Raiders 3 years, $18.375 million
DT Domata Peko Cincinnati Bengals 2 years, $7.5 million
DE Kasim Edebali New Orleans Saints 1 year, $1.2 million
DE Bobby Richardson Kansas City Chiefs 1 year, $540,000
DT Zach Kerr Indianapolis Colts 2 years, $3.25 million
CB Chris Lewis-Harris Baltimore Ravens 1 year, $775,000

2017 Roster

Quarterbacks

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Passing Yds 2016 TDs/INTs
12 Paxton Lynch 23 Drafted 1st RD 2016 497 2/1
13 Trevor Siemian 25 Drafted 7th RD 2015 3,401 18/10
 6 Chad Kelly 23 Drafted 7th RD 2017 2,758 (NCAA) 19/8 (NCAA)

Running Backs

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rushing Yards 2016 Rushing TDs
22 C.J. Anderson 26 Undrafted FA 2013 612 4
28 Jamaal Charles 30 Free Agent (KC) 2017 40 1
23 Devontae Booker 25 Drafted 4th RD 2016 437 4
40 Juwan Thompson 25 Undrafted FA 2014 26 1
33 De’Angelo Henderson 24 Drafted 6th RD 2017 1,156 (NCAA) 16 (NCAA)

Wide Receivers

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
88 Demaryius Thomas 29 Drafted 1st RD 2010 1,083 5
10 Emmanuel Sanders 30 Free Agent (PIT) 2014 1,032 5
 11 Carlos Henderson 22 Drafted 3rd RD 2017 1,535 (NCAA) 19 (NCAA)
87 Jordan Taylor 25 Undrafted FA 2015 209 2
14 Cody Latimer 24 Drafted 2nd RD 2014 76 0

Tight Ends

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
85 Virgil Green 29 Drafted 7th RD 2011 237 1
82 Jeff Heuerman 24 Drafted 3rd RD 2015 141 0
83 A.J. Derby 25 Trade (NE) 2016 160 0
 80 Jake Butt 22 Drafted 5th RD 2017 546 4

Offensive Line

POS # Name Age                 Acquired
LT  72 Garrett Bolles 25 Drafted 1st RD 2017
LG  65 Ronald Leary 28 Free Agent (DAL) 2017
C 61 Matt Paradis 27 Drafted 6th RD 2014
RG 76 Max Garcia 25 Drafted 4th RD 2015
RT  75 Menelik Watson 28 Free Agent (OAK) 2017

Special Teams

POS # Name Age Acquired
K 8 Brandon McManus 26 Trade (NYG) 2014
P 9 Riley Dixon 24 Drafted 7th RD 2016
LS 47 Thomas Gafford 34 Free Agent (OAK) 2016

Defensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 Sacks
DE 93 Jared Crick 28 Free Agent (HOU) 2016 32 3.0
DT  94 Domata Peko 32 Free Agent (CIN) 2017 17 0
DE 95 Derek Wolfe 27 Drafted 2nd RD 2012 38 5.5

Linebackers

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles/Sacks 2016 INTS/FF
OLB 58 Von Miller 28 Drafted 1st RD 2011 62/13.5 0/3
MLB 54 Brandon Marshall 28 Free Agent (JAX) 2013 39/0 0/3
MLB 51 Todd Davis 25 Waivers (NO) 2014 64/0.5 0/1
OLB 56 Shane Ray 24 Drafted 1st RD 2015 33/8.0 0/1

Secondary

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 INTs
CB 21 Aqib Talib 31 Free Agent (NE) 2014 32 3
FS 26 Darian Stewart 29 Free Agent (BAL) 2015 55 3
SS 43 T.J. Ward 30 Free Agent (CLE) 2016 69 1
CB 25 Chris Harris Jr. 28 Undrafted FA 2011 57 2

2017 Schedule and Predictions

WK Date Opponent My Prediction
1 9/11 Vs Los Angeles Chargers W
2 9/16 Vs Dallas Cowboys W
3 9/24 @ Buffalo Bills W
4 10/1 Vs Oakland Raiders W
5 Bye Week  
6 10/15 Vs New York Giants W
7 10/22 @ Los Angeles Chargers L
8 10/30 @ Kansas City Chiefs L
9 11/5 @ Philadelphia Eagles W
10 11/12 Vs New England Patriots L
11 11/19 Vs Cincinnati Bengals W
12 11/26 @ Oakland Raiders L
13 12/3 @ Miami Dolphins W
14 12/10 Vs New York Jets W
15 12/14 @ Indianapolis Colts W
16 12/24 @ Washington Redskins W
17 12/31 Vs Kansas City Chiefs W

Season Outlook

  • Offense
    • The Broncos have a new coaching staff this season after Gary Kubiak retired after last year.  That could make a big difference in how the team operates offensively and could go a long way in determining their quarterback.
    • Took a big step back last season in their first season with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch as their starting quarterbacks.  That didn’t go very well and it remains to be seen how it will work this season.  One of them has to step up and take control of the starting position.
    • Their running backs, which weren’t very productive last season, have been upgraded by signing veteran Jamaal Charles.  The Broncos have to hope that he can return from injury. I really like their tandem of Charles and C.J. Anderson.
    • They have possibly the best wide receiver group in the NFL and return Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, both who had over 1,000 yards receiving last season.  They also added Carlos Henderson in the draft out of Louisiana Tech, where he had over 1,500 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He will have to get accustomed to going up against NFL defenders, which will be much more difficult than those he faced in Conference USA.
    • If they had one weakness before the offseason it was their offensive line.  They attempted to remedy this by signing Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson in free agency and both should be upgrades for the Broncos.  Leary played for the Cowboys last season and Watson for the Raiders, two teams who are considered to have the best offensive lines in the league.
  • Defense
    • Their defense will look largely the same as it did last season, which is fine, considering they have been one of the best in the league in recent seasons.
    • They upgraded their nose tackle position by signing Domata Peko to help stop the rush, an area where they struggled last season.  They also signed Bobby Richardson and Kaslem Edebali, plus drafted DeMarcus Walker to help with their defensive line rotation.
    • At linebacker and in the secondary, the Broncos return some of the most talented players in the league at their respective positions. Von Miller is a top five defensive player in the NFL, easily, and Aquib Talib and Chris Harris were both All-Pro’s last season.
    • If the defensive line can get better at stopping the rush, the Broncos are going to have one of the best defenses once again.  They are certainly going to be ball hawks and should cause problems for opposing offenses.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • The Broncos should be better than they were last season, especially if Siemian or Lynch can prove that they are NFL-caliber starting quarterbacks.  They are lucky because their offense only has to be so good with how elite their defense is.  Last season, their offense wasn’t even good enough to be average in the league and they missed the playoffs as a result.
    • What does this team look like now that Gary Kubiak is gone?
    • Can they stay competitive in a very good division that should only continue to get better?  The Raiders certainly will be better this season, the Chiefs could be better, and the Chargers are always a tough team.
    • The Broncos also play the NFC and AFC East divisions and they have to play the Patriots the week after New England has their bye week.  The Broncos early season schedule is going to be tough, but if they can play .500 through week 12, they should be able to win out down the stretch, with games against Miami, the Jets, Indianapolis, Washington, and a home game against the Chiefs to finish out the season.  I have the Broncos going 12-4 this season and in contention for the playoffs.
  • Biggest Question Mark
    • What happens at quarterback?  Trevor Siemian looked to have a hold on the starting job but struggled with interceptions last season.  Paxton Lynch was drafted in the first round last year and appears to be their future at the position.  What does new head coach Vance Joseph think about the position? The Broncos have plenty of weapons around the position so both guys ought to be able to make the transition seamless.

*All stats and information come from Wikipedia, Roster Resource, Pro-Football Reference, Sports Reference, ESPN, nfl.com, Spotrac, Fox Sports, and my previous blog

Dallas Cowboys Season Preview

2016 Cowboys

NFC East Finished 1st in Division

Lost to Green Bay in Divisional Round

Overall Record: 13-3

(3-3 in the division)

Draft Position: 28th
Head Coach: Jason Garrett (2010) GM: Jerry Jones

2016 Rankings

 
Yards/Game
Points/Game
Passing Yards/Game
Rushing Yards/Game
   
Offense 5th 5th 23rd 2nd TDs –

T-6th

 
Defense 14th 5th 26th 1st Sacks –

13th

INTs –

T-27th

Outgoing Players

POS Player 2017 Team Contract
QB Mark Sanchez Chicago Bears 1 year, $2 million
RB Lance Dunbar Los Angeles Rams 1 year, $1.5 million
TE Gavin Escobar Kansas City Chiefs 1 year, $855,000
G Ronald Leary Denver Broncos 4 years, $36 million
DT Terrell McClain Washington Redskins 4 years, $21 million
DE Jack Crawford Atlanta Falcons 3 years, $8.8 million
DE Ryan Davis Buffalo Bills 2 years, $2.2 million
LB Rolando McClain Free Agent  
LB Andrew Gachkar Free Agent  
DB Barry Church Jacksonville Jaguars 4 years, $26 million
DB Brandon Carr Baltimore Ravens 4 years, $23.5 million
DB J.J. Wilcox Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2 years, $6.25 million
DB Morris Claiborne New York Jets 1 year, $5 million
DB Josh Thomas Free Agent  
QB Tony Romo Retired  
T Doug Free Retired  

Draft Results

RD Pick POS Player College
1 28 DE Taco Charlton Michigan
2 60 CB Chidobe Awuzie Colorado
3 92 CB Jourdan Lewis Michigan
4 133 WR Ryan Switzer North Carolina
6 191 S Xavier Woods Louisiana Tech
6 216 CB Marquez White Florida State
7 228 DT Joey Ivie Florida
7 239 WR Noah Brown Ohio State
7 246 DE Jordan Carrell Colorado

Incoming Free Agents

POS Player 2016 Team Contract
G Jonathan Cooper Cleveland Browns 1 year, $2 million
T Byron Bell Tennessee Titans 1 year, $2 million
DE Damontre Moore Seattle Seahawks 2 years, $1.65 million
DT Stephen Paea Cleveland Browns 1 year, $2 million
S Robert Blanton Buffalo Bills 1 year, $855,000
CB Nolan Carroll Philadelphia Eagles 3 years, $10 million

2017 Roster

Quarterbacks

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Passing Yds 2016 TDs/INTs
4 Dak Prescott 22 Drafted 1st RD 2016 3,667 23/4
17 Kellen Moore 28 Free Agent (DET) 2015
  Zac Dysert 27 Waivers (ARI) 2017

Running Backs

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rushing Yards 2016 Rushing TDs
21 Ezekiel Elliott 22 Drafted 1st RD 2016 1,631 15
20 Darren McFadden 30 Free Agent (OAK) 2015 87 0
46 Alfred Morris 28 Free Agent (WSH) 2016 243 2

Wide Receivers

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
88 Dez Bryant 28 Drafted 1st RD 2010 796 8
83 Terrance Williams 27 Drafted 3rd RD 2013 594 4
11 Cole Beasley 28 Undrafted FA 2012 833 5
  Ryan Switzer 22 Drafted 4th RD 2017 1,112 (NCAA) 6 (NCAA)
19 Brice Butler 27 Trade (OAK) 2015 219 3

Tight Ends

# Name Age Acquired 2016 Rec. Yards 2016 Rec. TDs
82 Jason Witten 35 Drafted 3rd RD 2003 673 3
84 James Hanna 28 Drafted 6th RD 2012
87 Geoff Swaim 24 Drafted 7th RD 2015 69 0

Offensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired
LT 77 Tyron Smith 26 Drafted 1st RD 2011
LG 64 Jonathan Cooper 27 Free Agent (CLE) 2017
C 72 Travis Frederick 26 Drafted 1st RD 2013
RG 70 Zack Martin 26 Drafted 1st RD 2014
RT 71 La’el Collins 24 Undrafted FA 2015

Special Teams

POS # Name Age Acquired
K 5 Dan Bailey 29 Undrafted FA 2011
P 6 Chris Jones 28 Undrafted FA 2011
LS 91 L.P. Ladouceur 36 Free Agent (NO) 2005

Defensive Line

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 Sacks
DE   Taco Charlton 22 Drafted 1st RD 2017 40 (NCAA) 10.0 (NCAA)
DT 92 Cedric Thornton 29 Free Agent (PHI) 2016 12 1.5
DT 96 Maliek Collins 22 Drafted 3rd RD 2016 17 5.0
DE 98 Tyrone Crawford 27 Drafted 3rd RD 2012 16 4.5

Linebackers

POS # Name Age Acquired
2016 Tackles/Sacks
2016 INTS/FF
OLB 57 Damien Wilson 24 Drafted 4th RD 2015 23/0.5 0/0
MLB 59 Anthony Hitchens 25 Drafted 4th RD 2014 39/1.5 0/0
OLB 50 Sean Lee 31 Drafted 2nd RD 2010 93/0 0/0

Secondary

POS # Name Age Acquired 2016 Tackles 2016 INTs
CB 32 Orlando Scandrick 30 Drafted 5th RD 2008 39 1
FS 31 Byron Jones 24 Drafted 1st RD 2015 67 1
SS   Robert Blanton 28 Free Agent (BUF) 2017 18 0
CB 30 Anthony Brown 23 Drafted 6th RD 2016 37 1

2017 Schedule and Predictions

WK Date Opponent My Prediction
1 9/10 Vs New York Giants W
2 9/17 @ Denver Broncos L
3 9/25 @ Arizona Cardinals W
4 10/1 Vs Los Angeles Rams W
5 10/8 Vs Green Bay Packers W
6 Bye Week  
7 10/22 @ San Francisco 49ers W
8 10/29 @ Washington Redskins L
9 11/5 Vs Kansas City Chiefs W
10 11/12 @ Atlanta Falcons W
11 11/19 Vs Philadelphia Eagles W
12 11/23 Vs Los Angeles Chargers W
13 11/30 Vs Washington Redskins W
14 12/10 @ New York Giants L
15 12/17 @ Oakland Raiders L
16 12/24 Vs Seattle Seahawks W
17 12/31 @ Philadelphia Eagles W

Season Outlook

  • Offense
    • The Cowboys were one of the most surprising teams in the league last season, starting a rookie at both quarterback and running back.  
    • Both positions were filled so adequately that when veteran QB Tony Romo was able to return from injury, he lost his starting position to Dak Prescott.  Prescott was excellent last season despite the fact that the Cowboys ranked near the bottom of the league in passing yards per game.  They didn’t have to rely on Prescott to be an elite quarterback last season since Ezekiel Elliott rushed for over 1,600 yards and scored 15 touchdowns from the running back position.  
    • The Cowboys will return both Prescott and Elliott, plus they are solid at wide receiver and tight end and have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. It does depend on how many games Elliott is suspended for as to how successful the Cowboys offense is entirely.
    • I do think that there is potential for regression with the Cowboys offense as there is with any team that has relied so heavily on rookies.  Luckily for them, their line should be elite once again, which will help them continue being one of the best rushing attacks in the league, even if Prescott isn’t as efficient as he was last season.  
    • I also think that the Cowboys could be in trouble if something happens to Prescott injury-wise because they have Kellen Moore and Zac Dysert behind him on the depth chart.
  • Defense
    • I think that if any part of the Cowboys lets the team down, it will be their defense.  
    • They are almost completely turning over their secondary from last season and only time will tell if that move will hurt them.  Allowing Barry Church, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne leave via free agency this offseason could prove worrisome as these three accounted for four of the team’s nine interceptions.  They had to make these decisions for financial reasons and hopefully the players they drafted this year and the cheaper free agent moves they made work out.  There are reasons to doubt this, however, as the Cowboys ranked 26th in the league in passing yards allowed per game and tied for 27th in interceptions.  If they haven’t taken care of this issue this offseason, the Cowboys won’t be able to compete with teams in a shootout.  
    • They should be able to make up for their problems in the secondary with their defensive line and linebackers.  Drafting defensive end Taco Charlton in the first round should help generate a strong pass rush.  Last season at Michigan, Charlton had 10 sacks and 40 tackles and adding that output to a defensive line that had problems last season will go a long way.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • There is no real reason to think that the Cowboys shouldn’t be better than they were last season unless there is an extended absence for Ezekiel Elliott.  
    • Even with their struggles in the secondary, the Cowboys should be able to make up for it with a stronger defensive line and an offense that develops further.  
    • Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott seem like truly elite talents and will guide this Cowboys offense this season and in the future.  This season, the Cowboys schedule will help achieve a record near the top of the league.  Their in-division games have the potential to be difficult, but even if they split their season series against these teams, the Cowboys should be in good shape.  
    • Playing the NFC West will be helpful as the 49ers and Rams are horrible. They also play the AFC West, which will be more difficult but I feel that the Cowboys are more talented than all but the Raiders.  I predict that they will finish the season with a 12-4 record and have them dropping their game against the Broncos, assuming Elliott misses it.
  • Biggest Question Mark this Season
    • How will the Cowboys overcome the absence of Ezekiel Elliott if he is suspended for a long period of time?

*All stats and information come from Wikipedia, Roster Resource, Pro-Football Reference, Sports Reference, ESPN, nfl.com, Spotrac, and my previous blog