2021 Preview – Time to Trade Aaron Rodgers

This has been a bizarre offseason for not only the Green Bay Packers but most of the NFL. Never before in NFL annals have we seen this much player movement and news with marquee quarterbacks. The saga surrounding the Texans and former 1st round draft pick DeShaun Watson. The Jets and Bears moved on from failed former 1st rounders Sam Darnold & Mitch Trubisky. Drafting their replacements Zach Wilson and Justin Fields to assume the reins in their rookie seasons.

Will Rodgers don a Packers practice jersey again?

Then you have Matthew Stafford. The Detroit Lions all time passing leader requesting a trade that landed him in LA in exchange for Jarred Goff. Although in the latter stages of his career Stafford is still in his prime while Goff had quarterbacked the Rams to the Super Bowl just 3 seasons before.

Now we have the standoff between Aaron Rodgers and Packers President Mark Murphy over the culture in Green Bay. Lets keep in mind this team has played in the last 2 NFC Championship Games, has a young and improving roster, just removed Coach Mike McCarthy who Rodgers was no longer in step with…. what is the problem?

Is it Coach Matt Lafleur? All along the body english between these two suggests an uneasy coexistence.

The Packers ranked 5th on offense, 9th in defense and just re-signed RB Aaron Jones who has accounted for 30TDs in the last two seasons. Budding star wideout Devante Adams (115 rec. 1374yds 18TDs) is another Pro Bowl performer who developed with Rodgers help. The cupboard isn’t bare in Green Bay and the front office has done its job. At what point does this emotional grind between Rodgers and Murphy negatively impact the rest of the team?

The time has come to trade Aaron Rodgers.

History repeats itself more than we care to admit & this is 2008 all over again but with a twist. Jordan Love doesn’t appear to be ready to take the helm and that is where Rodgers can help. Not by playing this season trading him for 2 number one draft picks in case Love isn’t the guy. Who knows you may be able to swing a 3 team trade and acquire DeShaun Watson who is in need of a fresh start.

The parallels between the Favre/Rodgers saga and the Rodgers/(who knows) go beyond the draft situation. Back in 2007 the Packers rode a solid running game and a renaissance season from Favre to finish 13-3. They had homefield advantage hosting the NFC Championship Game and were upset by the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. What was Green Bay’s record last year? Didnt they lose to the eventual champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers??

Keep in mind…teams with tumultuous offseasons don’t make it to the Super Bowl. Its not the norm. Now on the precipice of having fans in the stands at Lambeau fully for the 1st time in 2 years… do you really want to hear the hometown fans boo him?? Sentiment has turned during this offseason standoff and could happen if you bring him back.

Yes he is the reigning league MVP however he is 1-4 in championship games.

After this graphic Rodgers went on to lose the 2019 NFC Title to San Francisco 37-20. Then in 2020 he lost a week 6 matchup to Tom Brady’s Buccaneers 38-10 and we saw what happened last January. That is 7 times in a row!! Its one of the reasons Rodgers will not match Brett Favre’s legacy…when the Packers were against a superior opponent Rodgers never led Green Bay to that signature win.

My sentiment in response to the NFC Championship that evening was this:

Of course Rodgers could opt out or retire. There hasn’t been an NFL MVP who won the award then walked away from the game since….. *drum roll* Jim Brown in 1965. He retired due to Art Modell fining him for being late to training camp filming “The Dirty Dozen” If Rodgers does walk away ….both he and Jim Brown’s last NFL game were played at Lambeau Field in championship games.

So Mark Murphy the Packers would take a step back this year but 2022 and beyond the Packers will be serious contenders. The roster is stocked with young talent and you have the quarterback in Love or will be able to trade for the picks to acquire the next quarterback or get Watson in a swap. Your mission….should you choose to accept it…

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Taylor Blitz Crystal Ball- Super Bowl LV: Colts over Packers: Colts Story

The 2020 season is underway and taking shape and several teams have stepped to the fore. The defending champion Chiefs look completely unbeatable as all world QB Patrick Mahomes continues on a torrid pace. The same with Russell Wilson up in the Pacific Northwest. Yet two teams are just under the radar and will gain momentum although they aren’t the sexiest picks as the season will progress.

A formidable defense is growing in the midwest that will finish as the best defense in football and currently ranks #2 in all the NFL. The Chiefs are busy putting the finishing touches on the Ravens no longer being the #1 defense which will leave the Colts at the top of the heap. 

Indianapolis Colts defense:

  • Will be ranked #1 in defense once the Ravens lose tonight.
  • Will be ranked #1 in the NFL against the pass.
  • 5 of their top 6 defenders have allowed 73% or less pass completions in their territory.
  • Colts have given up just 56 points through 4 games…29 in the last 3 games combined.
  • Through 4 games have garnered 10 sacks, 2 safeties, 7 ints returning 2 for touchdowns.
  • This defense has scored nearly as much as their opponents in the last 4 games 18 to 28.

It was the Colts who signed away DT DeForrest Buckner (19.5 sacks the last 2 seasons in San Fran) and CB Xavier Rhodes that have handicapped both the 49ers and Vikings defenses so far this season. Rhodes has scored on a pick 6 against the Jets and Buckner has scored on a safety with his 1.5 sacks this year. The other safety was recorded by former KC Chief Justin Houston who has 3.5 sacks and on pace for 14 this season. 

Keep in mind Houston is a 4 time Pro Bowler and had 11 sacks last year in his first year as a Colt. In 2014 he missed Michael Strahan’s record by 1 when he recorded 22 sacks. How well will he play with a lead and the best back 7 covering opponents receivers??

All this before we talk about emerging star Darius Leonard. Last year #53 turned heads accumulating 121 tackles, 5 sacks while forcing 2 fumbles and intercepting 5 passes and had 7 pass defenses. This year teams are staying away from him and have run into his talented teammates who round out the best defense in football.

The NFL will take notice once this team shuts down Cleveland and can make their way to the bye week at 5-1.

Head Coach Frank Reich who won Super Bowl LII as the Eagles Offensive Coordinator is getting into sync with Phillip Rivers. He doesn’t have to carry the Colts as they have the best offensive line in football and rookie RB Jonathan Taylor learning the pro game. Reich also coached Rivers during some of his best career years from 2013-2016 as first QB Coach then Offensive Coordinator.

The offense has taken a slight step back with Marlon Mack’s injury and Phillip Rivers just needs to be a guiding hand as the offense adjusts to Taylor and he can connect with TY Hilton. Rivers just needs to make key first downs and finish drives Jacoby Brissett left on the field last year. His role is similar to that of Peyton Manning’s in 2015 on the way to Super Bowl L with Denver. Minimize turnovers and get the young Colts an early lead and sic that defense on their opponent and turn to the running game. 

In case you forgot the Colts have the NFL’s best offensive line. Led by All Pro G Quenton Nelson and LT Anthony Costanzo, they powered the NFL’s #3 rushing attack last year. They just need their rookie RB Taylor to hit his stride and timing now that he is a surprise starter due to injury. Taylor will catch stride and rush for 1,000 yards before season’s end. His 250 yards and 2 TDs have just scratched the surface and the Colts should be rolling fully around midseason.

Taylor after scoring against the Jets

Which is just in the nick of time as they host the Packers in 7 weeks that will be a preview of Super Bowl LV. If they handle Green Bay in that week 11 matchup this team will win 13 games and will be vying for home field advantage. We’re upping the ante when The Chancellor of Football predicted they would win 11 and go to the AFC Championship before the season began in this preview.

This is the back 7 the defending champion Chiefs don’t want to face. Leonard is the most athletic Linebacker in the game and can cover TE Travis Kelce. He ate up underneath routes all last year when he led the team with 5 picks as teams were trying to throw to their “Y” receiver. “Y” is Tight End in coach speak…

This team will win Super Bowl LV with a group of hungry players who don’t have a distorted ego and a sinister sneaky defense against the pass. Much like the Philadelphia Eagle team Coach Reich was a part of in winning LII. Taylor Blitz Times said it first.

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Whither Carson Wentz: Jalen Hurts Peers Over His Shoulder

When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts with a surprise 2nd round pick, specuclation took off as to why. Many pundits were dumbfounded with the selection where fans argued the Eagles would use him as trade bait. The Chancellor of Football took a different approach… Hurts was insurance against Wentz not making it back to his 2017 pre-injury form.

Lets be honest his battle is psychological as he is reeling from the fallout from watching his understudy win Super Bowl LII. Once Nick Foles carried the Eagles to that title he has pressed to live up to his $128 million contract and 1st round status. 

Opening with 2 losses has dropped Wentz to 14-15 as the starting QB since his injury late in the 2017 season. This doesn’t include the NFC Wildcard loss when Wentz was knocked from the game by Jaedevon Clowney. Now sure he has said the right thing after the team moved on from Foles. Then said the right things after signing his contract extension yet something is missing.

Wentz has been accused of changing the plays Coach Pederson sent in and his personality has alienated several of his former offensive teammates. Many would be considered in the in the Foles camp as Wentz comes off as aloof and “not a locker room guy.” Many fans want to dismiss it yet he is surrounded by new receivers and running backs. At some point the issue is the quarterback. The offense is the same and the two constants are Pederson and Wentz. 

In 2 games this team has failed to score 20 points in either contest. Carson has completed just 58.5% of his passes having gone 50 of 85 for 512 yards 2TDs and 4 interceptions. Which includes 8 sacks and he has been as indecisive taking the sacks as he has where he’s gone with the football. This is from the team whose continuity at the quarterback position made them an NFC East favorite and now they’re in the basement looking up at a Washington team that doesn’t even have a logo.

If Carson looks bad in a 3rd straight performance its time to sit him down. Even if we look back in Eagles history 1st round pick Donovan McNabb was forced into the lineup due to ineffective play by starter Doug Pederson… uh yes the same man who is now coach back in week 2 of ’99:

The Chancellor has been saying all along the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts as insurance and this is where it pays off. Everyone always says the right thing about the rookie QB not being ready. Well the offense can be tailored to Hurts’ strength as young signal callers are making their way even when forced into action. See Justin Herbert’s performance last week for the LA Chargers.

There is no perfect time to put a rookie quarterback in there. Sometimes its a baptism by fire…

If the Eagles give another knock kneed performance its time to turn it over to see what Hurts can do. 

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2020 AFC East Preview: Winds of Change

When Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason the winds of change swept through the AFC East. The stranglehold Bill Belichick and Brady had was finally broken and teams began anew with dreams of storming the Patriots castle. Most notably the Buffalo Bills who were in the playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 years.

The Bills arrive with the NFL’s #3 ranked defense and added former Viking wideout Stefon Diggs to bolster the offense.  Josh Allen has the keys to the offense and RB Devin Singletary is the engine that powers this team forward. Will they emerge as division champions as many pundits believe?

2020 AFC East Predictions

  1. New England Patriots 11-5*
  2. Buffalo Bills 10-6**
  3. Miami Dolphins 6-10
  4. New York Jets 5-11

Not so fast as the Patriots will become a surprise division champion as Belichick and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels will coax a turnaround season from Cam Newton. The former NFL MVP allows New England a solid weapon in the running game and will be able to work in a more traditional offense and some two tight ends. He has a spectacular young wideout in former ASU star N’Keal Harry and an underrated Jakobi Meyers. These two 2nd year players will benefit from Julian Edelman still in the slot to move the chains.

Singletary should have a 1,200 yard season in 2020.

In upstate New York the Bills have to get more out of Josh Allen as a downfield passer. He has to show the ability to get through his progressions and revert to running as a 3rd option in a make or break season. His fight or flight mechanics were highlighted in last year’s wild card loss. He has to get the ball into the endzone and not rely on field goals and get his defense a cushion.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, right, hands off the ball to Bills running back Zack Moss during an NFL football training camp in Orchard Park, N.Y., Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. (James P. McCoy/The Buffalo News via AP, Pool)

One of the issues is the Bills didn’t step up and take one of the games against New England last year.  Each were in reach and they just couldn’t seize it. That came back to haunt them in why the Bills gave up a 16-0 lead in the wildcard game and couldn’t maintain it. They can’t assume they will win the division just because Brady is gone. The Bills have to learn to seize the opportunity and not expect to default into a division championship.

This team also lost a lot of leadership with the retirement of LB Lorenzo Alexander, RB Frank Gore, and DE Shaq Lawson. New leaders have to emerge for Buffalo to take that next step and why they will be in a wildcard slot again.

Aug 26, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) attempts a pass during training camp at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins are building on the momentum of their 3-2 finish which included a win in New England in the finale. The future looks bright with the drafting of QB Tua Tagovailoa.  The team has brought in RB Matt Breida, and RB Jordan Howard to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick upright as well. He just doesn’t have the tools to move the ball downfield. The team drafted mostly defense to be better prepared to have a defense minded team when Tagovailoa takes over later in the year. Its only a matter of time.

Never underestimate Belichick and the NFL’s #1 defense as he is the best teacher of situational football in league history. He will coax another division championship in New England and Cam will be NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

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2020 AFC North Preview: What will Lamar Jackson Do for an Encore

Last year we saw a transcendent performance at the quarterback position in Lamar Jackson. His 1,206 rushing yards was an NFL record while teaming with fellow 1,000 yard rusher in Mark Ingram. He threw for 36TDs as the Ravens did have defenses in a quandary over where the ball was. The read option was a weapon of epic proportions with Jackson’s ball handling & dazzling athleticism. 

However the Titans exposed Jackson’s weakness completing passes outside of his tight ends and outside the hashmarks in the playoffs. They also played disciplined gap control defense and made sure not to commit forcing Jackson into indecision handing off and in his pass options. He has to improve on his outside touch.

2019 AFC North Predictions

  1. Baltimore Ravens 13-3*
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6**
  3. Cleveland Browns 8-8
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 4-12

In the Steel City Big Ben stabilizes an offense that sputtered with Mason Rudolph and “Duck” Hodges. Yet the defense drug the team to an 8-8 season as they emerged as a top ten defense (5th) and were solid against the pass (3rd) while leading the NFL with 54 sacks and 2nd in interceptions with 20. 

TJ Watt and Bud Dupree combined for 26 sacks were the modern version of Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd. Their disruptive pocket presence along with FS Minkah Fitzpatrick makes this the NFL’s best in defense. They will benefit with continuity and an emerging Devin Bush at inside linebacker.

Roethlisberger will get the Steelers back to the playoffs however the team will come up short of Baltimore without a true running back. James Conner is a ball carrier that can get the yards a play is designed for but nothing more. JuJu Smith Shuster is still trying to show he is a #1 receiver and has a chance with Ben back at the helm. Ben can will this team to 3 more wins with a pedestrian set of skill players with this defense. Good enough for a wildcard.

Its put up or shut up time in Cleveland for Baker Mayfield as the team brought in Case Keenum who is a stop gap veteran much in the way Tennessee picked up Tannehill last season. There is simply too much talent for this team to be 22nd in offense. 

Nick Chubb lead the NFL in rushing up until the final week of his sophomore season. He finished with 1,494 yards and 8 TDs and is the complete package. With former rushing champion Kareem Hunt backing him up they have insurance. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham are a solid set of receivers but they don’t seem to complement each other. They seem to be the same receiver however a good coordinator should able to get the ball to them. Can Mayfield improve with his 3rd offensive coordinator? 

The division is Baltimore’s for the taking and with the drafting of Ohio St’s JK Dobbins he has a stronger skillset than an aging Mark Ingram. The Ravens should repeat last year’s performance with a 1-2 punch. They’ve added DE Calais Campbell to fortify their defense also. The question is can the Ravens make it to Super Bowl LV.

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2020 AFC South Preview: Bound For a Championship Game Appearance

Well…well… well… it looks like we’re going to have an NFL season after all. So we’re here to rub the crystal ball and see what we think will happen this 2020 season. Amid the backdrop of empty stadiums the NFL plans on kicking off the 101st season amid the Covid pandemic.

With two teams that fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the playoffs, it’s not far fetched to assume a team from the AFC South will appear in this year’s AFC Championship Game. The Houston Texans melted after having a 24-0 lead in the divisional round before losing. Then the clock struck midnight on the cinderella Titans in the AFC Championshp after holding a 17-7 lead. Each come into the new season wondering what might have been. 

2020 AFC South Predictions

  1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
  2. Tennessee Titans 9-7**
  3. Houston Texans 7-9
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12

The mantle of best offensive line shifts from the “Great Wall of Dallas II” to the Indianapolis front line. This group led a game managing Jacoby Brissett to a manageable 18TDs & 6 picks and serviceable Marlon Mack to 1,091 yards and 8 TDs.

This line led by All Pro G Quenton Nelson and LT Anthony Costanzo powered the NFL’s #3 rushing attack. Now they add 226lb north south runner Jonathan Taylor out of Wisonsin. He had multiple 2,000 yard seasons in the Big Ten and translates well in tandem with Mack. This is before speaking of the upgrade to Phillip Rivers who already knows Head Coach Frank Reich’s offense from their time together with the Chargers a few years back.

Rivers has signed a 1 year $25 million dollar deal and is playing for his legacy. Fellow 2004 draftees Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger each have 2 Super Bowl wins and Rivers has yet to appear in one. The Colts have a proven leader in this 16 year veteran who should be able to push the ball downfield better than the aforementioned Mr Brissett.

Down in Tennessee they hope to strike lightening twice with a good season out of Ryan Tannehill. Hard to coax from a retread quarterback the division now has film on. Keep in mind bruising defensive teams that rely on a bellcow running back like league leading rusher Derrick Henry rarely repeat close to the vest playoff runs. Last year the Titans were 3-1 in games decided by 3 points or less. The ball won’t bounce that way a 2nd straight year.

Rashaan Evans will become one of the NFL’s best linebackers this season.

Gone is 5 time pro bowl DT Jurrell Casey, former Patriot change of pace back Dion Lewis, TE Delanie Walker and LB Wesley Woodyard. This is a tremendous loss of veteran leadership and with Casey, playmaking ability.

Houston resigned Deshaun Watson to a megadeal and then traded his #1 weapon in DeAndre Hopkins. They traded him for underachieving RB David Johnson from the Cardinals. Johnson was on the bench and fallen completely out of favor with the Cardinals Coach. What Bill O’Brien saw in this move has yet to be understood by The Chancellor of Football. Or any other pundit for that matter.

Watson will be holding the ball more next year now the team doesn’t have a #1 receiver. He will regress from the 333 of 495 for 3,852 yards 26TDs and 12ints he tossed in 2019.

This will be Bill O’Brien’s last season as the Houston Texans head coach. However this division will have the Colts make the AFC Championship Game. 

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