NFL Week 5: Peyton Manning Sets The Pace

At the end of the NFL 2013 season many experts have the Denver Broncos headed to New York and Super Bowl XLVIII. Why not? We’re talking about the #1 offense in the NFL right now averaging 483 yards per game. Worse part is they just pulverized the #2 offense in the Philadelphia Eagles 52-20 and let’s face it, they could have scored 80. Peyton Manning and the Bronco offense rank first in passing with an average of 383 yards per game with an obscene 179 points scored. Are you serious?? They are on pace to score 719 points for the 2013 season. Now the count will begin elsewhere for the Broncos possibly going undefeated along with shattering numerous passing records in the process.

Peyton Manning has turned each of the last four games into a surgeon's clinic on how to pay quarterback.

Peyton Manning has turned each of the last four games into a surgeon’s clinic on how to pay quarterback.

However posing as the #1 challenger in their own division no less are the 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid has kept the Chiefs in games playing stout defense and a low risk / high yield offense that doesn’t beat itself with turnovers. Going into last week’s contest with the Giants, Alex Smith was one of three quarterbacks (one was Manning)  who had gone the longest without an interception this season.

They’re forte through this first stanza of the season has been to play conservative football and not put their 7th ranked defense in a demoralized position. Led by the NFL’s sack king Justin Houston (7.5 sacks) this defense has forced 12 turnovers which includes 3 at the expense of the Giants last Sunday. Lets take a look at the standings.

West Division













Denver Broncos Broncos 4 0 0 1.000 179 91 3-0 1-0 1-0 2-0 W4 4-0
Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs 4 0 0 1.000 102 41 2-0 2-0 0-0 1-0 W4 4-0
San Diego Chargers Chargers 2 2 0 .500 108 102 1-1 1-1 0-0 0-2 W1 2-2
Oakland Raiders Raiders 1 3 0 .250 71 91 1-1 0-2 0-1 1-2 L2 1-3

Don’t overlook the San Diego Chargers too quickly. Sure they lost Dwight Freeney for the season with  a torn quad, but this is a 2-2 team that could easily be 4-0. They’re only 6 points away from it. Last Saturday Phillip Rivers tortured the Dallas Cowboys with a 401 yard passing day with 3 touchdowns. Rivers consistently found the mismatch as he threw all 3 of his TDs against Cowboys linebackers. Danny Woodhead was a surprising star with 2 scoring receptions. Yet the Chargers keep playing very close to the vest affairs that could short circuit their season.

Phillip Rivers is off to an unbelievable start in 2013 as well.

Phillip Rivers is off to an unbelievable start in 2013 as well.

Lost in the wake of Manning’s performance is the fact Rivers is off on a torrid pace of his own. Through four games he is 105 of 142 for an astounding 73.9% completion rate for 1,199 yards 11 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. He is on pace to throw for 4,800 yards and 44 touchdowns himself. Can they fast break with the Broncos when they meet them in their two match-ups.

Last year the Broncos finished the season on an 11 game winning streak that began overcoming a 24-0 deficit to the Chargers. Each team’s season turned on that game. San  Diego finished the season 4-7 which cost Head Coach Norv Turner his job. The Chargers haven’t forgotten and will be looking to pay Denver back in kind. New offensive Coordinator Ken Wisenhunt comes in with a roven background and two Super bowl appearances by his offenses in the last decade. They have to overcome the loss of Dwight Freeney as the season rolls on.

As for the Kansas City Chiefs…it’s hard to not cheer for a team that went through the turmoil they had last year. It wasn’t just the 2-14 season they had to endure….most people forget they had a suicide inside their practice facility by a player last year to compund things. Now with a proven winner with a chip on his shulder in Andy Reid (see Sal Paolantonio video leaving field in Philadelphia wo weeks ago) and a proven commodity in former 49er Alex Smith, this team is quietly on a mission. The Chancellor forwarned you about this team: This is about redemption in Kansas City and nothing motivates men like when they feel they have something to prove.

Justin Houston is a wrecking ball of a linebacker, and at 23 years of age, has just scratched the surface.

Justin Houston is a wrecking ball of a linebacker, and at 23 years of age, has just scratched the surface.

Just like San Francisco found out last year: A sure-fire champion wakes up in the middle of a season and finds themselves the hunted in their own divisional back yard. As all of NFL coverage has talked about Manning’s torrid start ad-nauseum, keep a few things in mind. On defense the Broncos are 24th in football and the Chargers should be able to score with them. Second Ryan Clady is still inactive and this week the Broncos have to have a back up Tackle play against DeMarcus Ware. This game against Dallas could be interesting.

Last but not least keep a few things in mind… Peyton Manning is not a good cold weather Super Bowl and to win it all he’ll need to win 3 games out in the elements. Just remember one of hi worst losses was a 41-0 drubbing against the New York Jets in the same spot that this year’s February Super bowl will be held. Last but not least, the greatest scoring offenses in NFL history, the 1983 Washington Redskins (541 points), the 1998 Minnesota Vikings (556 points), and the 2007 New England Patriots(589 points), ALL eventually ran into a defense and DIDN’T win the title. In fact two lost in the Super Bowl and the other in the NFC Championship Game. Further evidence of this we can throw in the 1990 Buffalo Bills , the 2011 New England Patriots, and the 2001 St Louis Rams for good measure. Bronco fans learn from history and be humble as this season grows on. The first question is:  Do the Kansas City chiefs have one of those defenses that can slow Manning and company before they get out of their own division??  Something to think about…. although right now Manning has established a record setting pace

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Week 2: Seattle Seahawks v. San Francisco 49ers or Ali v. Frazier I

Going into the opening weekend of NFL football most pundits were making the San Francisco match-up with Green Bay a big game. It was from a recent historical perspective but won’t match the intensity of what is about to take place. For in The Chancellor of Football’s eyes, the 49ers let out a huge sigh of relief when Atlanta made a last second field goal in the NFC divisional to beat them 30-28. Had Seattle pulled that game off and faced San Francisco for the NFC Championship, who would have won??

The game NFL fans have anticipated since last year's NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The game NFL fans have anticipated since last year’s NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Lets face it, this entire off-season was an arms race between these two as they played tit for tat jockeying to out-position one another. In perfect poker speak the 49ers saw the Seahawks a Percy Harvin and raised them an Anquan Boldin. Then came the suspension of Seattle DE Bruce Irvin, which made 49er coach Harbaugh make disparaging comments in Carroll and the Seahawk’s direction.

Seattle Seahawks alternate logo.

Seattle Seahawks alternate logo.

Much of the animosity comes from the history both coaches brought from being Pac-10 adversaries at USC and Stanford respectively. Back then it was USC’s Pete Carroll the established champion that Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford Cardinal chased and constantly had to measure up to. Now the situation has reversed itself in the NFL and it’s been chippy. Under normal circumstances coaches warn their players about offering bulletin board material for their opponent, where here, the coaches haven’t adhered to that dogma. They do not like each other and it helps raise the intensity of the match-up further.

While 49er fans bask in the achievement of making it to Super Bowl XLVII, Seahawk fans are quick to remind them it was their team that won the last outing 42-13 in week 15. One our CEO called before it happened. yet we digress. Understand it was a blowout of epic proportions and was one of the defining reasons we picked the Ravens in our Super Bowl preview. Yet that is old news ….or is it??

Seattle comes in with the league’s 5th ranked defense into this match-up where the 49ers rank 22nd, yet that’s misleading. San Francisco stared down the Packers and Aaron Rodgers in week 1. Colin Kaepernick tortured Green Bay with a 400 yard passing performance and Boldin had a 200 yard reception in his debut. So what gives??

Last year the Seahawks obliterated the 49ers 42-13 on Sunday night football. They were not only undefeated at home last year but their games became routs before halftime. In that week 15 game it was 28-6 at halftime and the Seahawks were on cruise control. We expect a closer game than that but the winner will be the early favorite to make it to Super Bowl XLVIII. Yet that will be misleading… The winner will just have the early edge in a long season.

Think back to 1992 when the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys were undefeated going into a huge Monday Night matchup. The Eagles had one of history’s finest defenses in 1991 when they had lost Randall Cunningham for the year. So this was going to be their year. All they had to do was beat a growing Dallas Cowboy football team that was undefeated. Philly killed them 31-7 and had the early edge, but it was Dallas that won game 2 and a playoff match-up on their way to their first Super Bowl of the 1990s.

International fashion model Teisha Lyons looking lovely in a lady Seahawk jersey.

International fashion model Teisha Lyons looking lovely in a lady Seahawk jersey.


So keep it in perspective. The Chancellor of Football’s pick for this one?? We’ll let the lovely Teisha Lyons take it from here.

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2013 Kansas City Chiefs Preview – Tools for A Resurgence

The Chiefs new Head Coach Andy Reid figures to provide an offense the Chiefs have been missing for the past two years.

The Chiefs new Head Coach Andy Reid figures to provide an offense the Chiefs have been missing for the past two years.

If you are a fan

of the Kansas City Chiefs, the 2012 year couldn’t end fast enough. The team had just struggled through a 2-14 season which was one of the worst in the history of a proud franchise. From all the losing to a suicide in front of Head Coach Romeo Crennel, all they could do was start from scratch. Enter new Head Coach Andy Reid.

Whenever a team hires in a new coach, the optimism of a franchise is renewed. Yet why this much optimism?? The staple of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia was his quarterback development. We’re not just talking Donovan McNabb, think back to the 2002 NFL season. In that year he coached AJ Feeley and Ty Detmer to a 5-1 record while McNabb recovered from a fractured ankle. That year they made the NFC Championship Game. In 2006 he coached an aging Jeff Garcia to a 5-1 record when McNabb was lost for the season and they made the playoffs winning a wild card game.

All this before we talk about the resurrection of Michael Vick’s career and the possible Hall of Fame career of McNabb, Reid develops quarterbacks and don’t forget his role in the ascension of Brett Favre’s career. Every quarterback that has associated with Reid has performed above expectations. He is the replacement to develop quarterbacks the Chiefs have sought since Charlie Weiss’ departure. He may be the best to develop quarterbacks in the last 25 years. Look at what he did last year with a rookie in Nick Foles??

Alex Smith for the first time in his career doesn't have to look over his shoulder. The Chiefs are committed to him.

Alex Smith for the first time in his career doesn’t have to look over his shoulder. The Chiefs are committed to him.

Quarterback: What is strange about the odyssey Alex Smith has led is how easily he was dismissed. It’s been documented how he had six offensive coordinators in seven years however before he was traded he had turned a corner. Although his former 49er team made it to the Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick under center, he was 19-5-1 in the last two years. His play had matured while he ran a play action offense that played to his strengths.

For 2012, A. Smith completed 70% of his passes for 1,737 yards 13 TDs with 5 interceptions vs 62.4% for 1,814 yards 10 TDs and 3 interceptions for Kaepernick. An uneducated fan will say “Yes, but they made the Super Bowl with Kaepernick” which is true but a total misnomer. They were already on their way there. In 2011, totally under Smith’s control, they were 13-3 and lost in overtime in the NFC Championship Game. In that game he did not throw an interception. The same could not be said for the 11-4-1 49ers that played in Super Bowl XLVII as Kaepernick did throw a 2nd quarter interception that held up comeback efforts.

For the first time in his career he is going to have big play receivers in their prime. Dewayne Bowe was re-signed and last year’s top pick Jonathon Baldwin are big targets. Face it, Michael Crabtree finally panned out last year. He was on his way to bust status that even the most ardent 49er fan would care to admit. All Smith has to do is produce a little offense and this team could win. Did you know this team only scored 423 points in the last two seasons combined?? Over the past two seasons, Chiefs quarterbacks threw for only 21 touchdowns as compared to Smith’s 31 in a season and a half.

What does that mean?? Well during an 8 game stretch after beating New Orleans in overtime last year, the Chiefs lost 4 of those 8 games by 10 points or less. If you factor in those 10 additional touchdowns of Smith v. Cassel and Brady Quinn this team could have had a 6-5 record going into week 12 instead of a demoralized 1-11. He was a winning quarterback when he had a running game when we last saw him and he should be playoff caliber this year for Kansas City. Why not just average?? Andy Reid is a quarterback coach and they play the 5th easiest schedule. Only a .473 winning percentage. Add to that there is little to study of Smith in a true West Coast offense.

Do you realize Jamaal Charles has rushed for over 1,000 yards 3 times in a 5 year career??

Do you realize Jamaal Charles has rushed for over 1,000 yards 3 times in a 5 year career??

Offensive Backfield: The saving grace for the Chiefs offense last year was former Texas Longhorn Jamaal Charles. Last year he ran with enough power to break tackles and have a Pro Bowl season with 1,509 yards. He had a whopping 5.3 yard average and don’t forget he was a Pro Bowl performer in 2010, when he rushed for 1,467 yards and an even better 6.4 yard average. This is no fluke. He’s only going into his sixth season and Reid hasn’t had a running back of this quality in any of his years in Philadelphia.

Add to that when Charles is spelled, the even quicker Dexter McCluster is the out of the backfield pass receiving complement. These two combined are Brian Westbrook 4.0. Last year he pitched in with 52 receptions for 452 yards and 1 touchdown. He can help with first downs between the 20’s. Charles also contributed with 35 receptions for 236 yards and a touchdown as a safety valve.

For battering at the goal line or short yardage situations, we have to see if Peyton Hillis will do it. Or if Reid will have Charles follow a FB into the line. This group needs more touchdowns. This group should be productive to a Super Bowl quality grade.

You have to believe Reid promised to get Bowe the football. He re-signed pretty quick in Kansas City.

You have to believe Reid promised to get Bowe the football. He re-signed pretty quick in Kansas City.

Receivers: Here is where Andy Reid will feel like an adopted kid spending his first Christmas with a new family. So many toys he won’t know which to play with first. Before they acquired Smith, the first priority was to re-sign WR Dewayne Bowe. At 6’3, 230 lbs, Bowe is a muscular receiver that will go over the middle. He isn’t a burner and he can be an X or a Z in Reid’s offense. He’s not the most fluid in the hips and will most likely line up as the X. Nevertheless, he caught 59 passes last year for 801 yards and just 3 touchdowns. Expect these numbers to go up in a better structured offense.

New Wide Receiver Coach David Culley, your mission should you choose to accept it, is to further develop second year receiver Jonathon Baldwin. The 6’4, 225 lbs former Biletnikoff Award winning receiver from Pitt had a modest rookie season. In 6 starts he caught 20 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown. Promising is the fact that he averaged 16.3 yards per reception. This will be the break-out year for Baldwin and the offense as a whole will take off. No secondary in the AFC West will be equipped to cover them.

Chiefs brass has also signed free agent receivers Mardy Gilyard and Donald Avery to challenge for the slot positions. At tight end Anthony Fasano was signed as a free agent and Travis Kelce was drafted in the 3rd round. Incumbent TE Tony Moeaki (33 rec./ 453 yds / 1TD) had better be ready for the challenge and pick up this offense quickly or he will be the odd man out. A playoff caliber group.

Top draft pick Eric Fisher at rookie camp. Its imperative that the line comes to camp healthy and ready to compete.

Top draft pick Eric Fisher at rookie camp. Its imperative that the line comes to camp healthy and ready to compete.

Offensive Line:  One of the places the team is looking to improve is on the offensive line. Here the Chiefs have drafted T Eric Fisher with the first pick of the draft. Then went on to select Eric Kush in the 6th round while designating T Branden Albert the team’s franchise player. To add to the mix the Chiefs have another six offensive linemen signed and will be brought to camp. With draft pick Kush already signed, the priority is to get Fisher into camp on time.

Are the Chiefs making wholesale replacements on a line that gave up 40 sacks or are they making moves to fit Reid’s style of offense?? Either way we have to give this group an incomplete until we know who is starting and where. Even Tackle Eric Winston, a starter in all 16 games last year, was released.

Defensive Line: After being burnt by the drafting of former LSU DT Glenn Dorsey, the Chiefs didn’t draft any defensive linemen even though they needed them. However three Defensive Ends were signed in Ridge Wilson, Josh Martin, and Rob Lohr to team with Tyson Jackson (43 tackles /3 sacks) and Ropati  Pitoitua (51 tackles /2 sacks). This group only reached the quarterback 5 times in 2012. Horrible.

Kansas City was 27th against the run last year and the only interior lineman returning is Dontari Poe. He needs to push the pass pocket more as he didn’t record a sack last year. Along with the offensive line this will line will have open competition with a new coaching staff. They will need to sign another DT or two this summer. Until then, this group is definitely below average.

Justin Houston is a wrecking ball of a linebacker, and at 23 years of age, has just scratched the surface.

Justin Houston is a wrecking ball of a linebacker, and at 23 years of age, has just scratched the surface.

Linebckers: Here is where the Chiefs bread is buttered as a defense. Long time Chief Derrick Johnson turned in a career year with 125 tackles 2 sacks, and 4 passes defensed. He will bring the thump as he also forced 4 fumbles in a Pro Bowl year from his inside linebacker position. If the Chiefs switch to a 4-3, he would flourish as a sideline to sideline defender. We have to wait and see.

However a switch would be detrimental to Justin Houston’s game. He was the best pass rusher on the team from his outside linebacker flank as he recorded 10 sacks to go with his 66 tackles. He can always rush as a nickel defensive end.  At 23 he’s one of the active young defenders that can be built around. When he replaced Von Miller for the 2013 Pro Bowl, the Chiefs sent THREE linebackers to Hawai’i. Yikes!!

Tamba Hali is the Pro Bowl linebacker for the second time in as many years. He had another solid season with 51 total tackles and 9 sacks. He’s turning 30 this year and if the team moves to a 4-3 he can go back to a right end position on the line. As of now this is a Super Bowl quality set no matter how they line up for Kansas City.

Secondary: This group had mixed results in 2013 that may be more of a result from being constantly behind than their ability to play football. On one hand this group only garnered 5 interceptions the entire year. That’s awful. Yet if you think about it, teams could pass whenever they wanted to and weren’t forced to based on their porous 27th ranked run defense.

Yet this group did send SS Eric Berry to the Pro Bowl after an 86 tackle, 1 interception, and 10 passes defensed campaign. Eric Flowers led the team with 3 interceptions to go along with 48 tackles. Gone is underachieving CB Javier Arenas who was traded to Arizona for a fullback. A curious move that alleviated cap room if they cut the fullback instead of Arenas. Good move for cap space but that leaves journeyman Stanford Routt (21 tackles /2 ints) to man the nickle position. They did sign former CB Dunta Robinson, formerly of the Falcons and Texans, to man one corner spot opposite Flowers.

Despite their interception totals, Chiefs brass feels the move for Robinson is an upgrade at the corner. They don’t need that much improvement as they were 12th against the pass last year. If this team can generate some offense and play with a few leads they will be more productive. They’ll improve to be an average secondary from being a bad one.

McCluster will be a wild card for the Chiefs this year. Both as a 3rd down back and slot option and a special teams return man.

McCluster will be a wild card for the Chiefs this year. Both as a 3rd down back and slot option and a special teams return man.

Overall: Once you look at the sum of the parts on this roster, you’ll notice this offense is just in need of a catalyst at the quarterback position. Recent drafts have brought the receivers and two productive running backs and what type of message is team brass sending by releasing an under performing starting tackle and signing five offensive linemen and drafting two others?? This spirited competition on the offensive line this summer looks like the tonic this team needs to get off to a good start.

They are on the road in Jacksonville then come home to host Dallas, before the Andy Reid Bowl in Philadelphia in week 3. If the Chiefs can go into that game 2-0 and come out of it either 3-0 or a good looking 2-1, this team will be off and running.  Reid has never had these big receivers to run the middle routes necessary to make his offense go. He was short circuited in Philly by fleet receivers who wouldn’t.

When he did have bigger receivers they were older players on their last leg. When he had a prime receiver in Terrell Owens, he made it to the Super Bowl after three other trips to the NFC Championship Game. Are we saying he’ll make it that far in 2013?? Take a look at the open competition on the offensive line. Add to that a quarterback who wants to prove himself after being discarded in San Francisco. Now take an offensive minded coach wanting to prove he is still among the league’s elite coaches after being let go in Philadelphia. No shortage of motivational talks and a team that most wont be prepared to play. This team will challenge and may take the AFC West Title. A 10-6 record or 11-5 record will come from a team few see coming…however The Chancellor does.

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Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

2013 Green Bay Packers Preview – Change Has Come To Lambeau

The Packers stand-out linebacker just inked a five year deal worth $65 million.

The Packers stand-out linebacker just inked a five year deal worth $65 million.

The Green Bay Packers filed out of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in stunned amazement last January. They had just been victimized by one of the most electrifying post season performances in NFL history. Colin Kaepernick’s record setting 181 yards rushing on 16 carries while throwing for another 263 yards for a combined 4 touchdowns suggested the Packers were indeed a bad defense.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense for the better part of 2 years masked the Packers defensive deficiencies. Yet they were exposed as needing speed in the secondary and  in need of power on the defensive side of the line. This off-season, gone is Charles Woodson, the game having robbed him of his once great speed through a series of injuries. Linebacker Eric Walden took his talents to Indianapolis. Factor these departures with the medical retirement of S Nick Collins, LB Frank Zombo signing with the Chiefs this offseason, then the run defense having never recovered from DT Cullen Jenkins’ departure and you have a defense in ruin.

This isn’t the team that won Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, February 2011. Now they have lost arguably their best receiver in Greg Jennings to the hated Vikings.  Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy have some work ahead of them in this year’s draft to restock a defense that had been deep. The question is: Will they keep their “Midas Touch” in mining good talent for the Packers coaching staff to mold into a good defense?? Or will this side of the ball let down Green Bay when they face the NFL’s elite?? Did you know the Packers were only 1-4 against playoff teams last year??

If Rodgers continues at this pace, his career statistics could be staggering.

If Rodgers continues at this pace, his career statistics could be staggering.

Quarterback: Suffice to say the Packers are more than sufficient behind center. Aaron Rodgers is in his prime and his last four years have been off the charts comparing him to any quarterback in football history. In contemporary times it is he and Drew Brees that have battled it out as to who is the best quarterback in the NFL. Taylor Blitz Times gives the nod to Rodgers. In the last four years he has attempted 429 less passes than Brees, yet is just behind Brees 142TDs to 156 TDs, while throwing a ton less interceptions with 32 to 66 for the man in the Bayou. By the numbers, if he threw another 429 passes he would be nearly 15 touchdowns ahead of Brees.

In 2012, the Packers won on his right arm as he conected on 371 of 552 attempts for 4,295 yards, 39 TDs and only 8 interceptions. A whopping 7.1  TD to interception ratio and 67.2% completion percentage. Rodgers is up for a big payday, an extension in the neighborhood of $120 million, but will this cripple the franchise by doing so??

One thing that has crept up is Rodgers has a tendency to press in close games in the second half. It happened up in Seattle in the 14-12 loss   on Monday Night. We saw it in the loss to the Giants last year in the regular season, the 2011 playoff loss to the Giants and last year’s loss to the 49ers in the playoffs. He’ll miss on some throws that he has hit all year long, especially if he has been hit early in the game.

One game he didn’t was the 37-34 loss in the season finale to the Minnesota Vikings. Despite being sacked 5 times, he threw for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns which included a game tying touchdown to Jordy Nelson. Yet keep an eye out for this with a team with a deficient defense and an offense minus Greg Jennings. The boys in Lambeau are Super Bowl quality at quarterback no question.

Offensive Backfield: This is a spot on this team that is a mess right now. When Aaron Rodgers, who is not a running quarterback is second on the team in rushing with 259 yards, something is definitely wrong. Free agent Cedric Benson failed to pan out with only 248 yards, and a favorite during the Super Bowl stretch two years ago James Starks, rushed for only 255 yards. For us the jury is out on James Starks much as it is on Miles Austin in Dallas. When there are weapons around them… they can surprise. But when those defenses start focusing on them, they turn back into the moderate talents that they were scouted and regarded as. Could be time to cut ties here.

The Packers need to draft a quality back to take some of the pressure off Rodgers. Not a sixth round steal, they need a blue chip talent. Just as we warned before about putting all your money at the quarterback position and not spending to improve other positions, the Packers are at the crossroads. They haven’t gone after any runners in free agency this year. Hopefully they realize this and make some moves this weekend in New York at the draft. This group has a bad ranking until they draft someone better.

Randall Cobb brought a game breaking element to the Packers receiving corps as a rookie.

Randall Cobb brought a game breaking element to the Packers receiving corps in his second year.

Receivers: We mentioned several times already that Greg Jennings departed for the lakes of Minnesota. Now James Jones will have to step up to be “that guy”. Last year he led the Packers with 14 receiving touchdowns (64 rec. for 748 yards) which was due in large part to being the third receiver in four wide formations. Is he polished enough to be a solid X in Jennings place??

At tight end, Jermichael Finley is as solid as they come and should have his best season this year. Last year he hauled in 61 receptions for 667 yards and 2 TDs despite missing two games. The coverage he drew when the Packers were close to scoring is why Jones had so many touchdowns. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb round out this receiving corps. These are the big play men when it comes to the passing game.

Nelson was nicked by injuries and only started 10 games. He averaged 15.2 yards per catch (49 rec / 745 yds / 7 TDs) and hopes to have a year like 2011 when he reached the endzone 15 times. Cobb is the explosive new element to the Green Bay arsenal. He’s a threat to return a punt for a touchdown or do so after a short pass. Last year he made it on the field as a receiver and had the type of season (80 rec /954 yds/ 8 TDs) that Packers’ brass believed they could let Jennings go. This is a playoff caliber group rather than a Super Bowl group… We have to see if Jones can be as solid as Jennings was as a starter. If not they can go 4 wide and still be effective.

Offensive Line: This is a spot where the Packers could use some improvement big time. If you’re going to pump $120 million dollars to retain the best quarterback in the league, you better be able to protect him. Everyone forgets that Rodgers, during the Super Bowl year, was one concussion from sitting the rest of the year by mid-season. Last year the Packers were second to last with 51 sacks allowed and he was hit an additional 85 times. He will get hit and with no proven depth behind him, his loss would doom the season if he were injured.

Everyone saw the Monday night massacre in Seattle when Rodgers was sacked 8 times and chased all over Qwest Field. In 6 of the first 8 games of this season, they face top ten defenses when it came to quarterback sacks last year. Three of those they play on the road… at Cincinnati, at Baltimore with Elvis Dumervil now, and at Minnesota. They start the season in San Francisco and they can ill afford to get Rodgers hit in that game.Don’t be surprised if the Packers use a high draft pick on the offensive line.

Part of their problem is they practice their passing and can’t provide a push in the running department. The Packers were 22nd in the NFl with less than a 4 yard average. Along with the injuries seen at the running back position, a fleet of runners started for Green Bay last year and not on of them could average 4 yard per carry. The weakness of this offensive front has been covered up by Rodgers and the receiving corps connecting on quick passes. This is a below average group and have to get tougher up front.

Defensive Line: Where do we begin when it comes to this defensive front?? In all reality this group wasn’t one of the reasons the Packers rose to 11th overall in defense. They were still ranked 17th in defense against the run and allowed 4.5 yards per rush to rival ball carriers. This is a need position in the draft. No question…

No player has fallen from grace as far as DT BJ Raji. He was pushed around and bullied in that playoff loss to San Francisco for playing too high. He recorded 0 tackles and 0 quarterback pressures during that game. For the season he recorded 26 total tackles and 0 sacks. Terrible. Fellow inside Defensive Tackle Ryan Pickett also never recorded a sack during the 2012 season. Here is where the Packers should use a draft pick in the next four days when the draft commences on Thursday. How could they not??

We spoke of the Packers inability to stop the run since the departure from Ryan Pickett. This defensive line gets shoved right into the safeties faces. Evidence by Adrian Petersen’s nearly back to back 200 yard games against them. With no transactions during free agency we have to wait and see who they pick in the draft. If they could spend two picks here…it would be beneficial to the defense. right now this group is bad….not below average. They’re making far too many plays downfield after the ball carrier has gained 5 yards.


The Packers best all around linebacker spent 2012 on injured reserve.

Linebacker: Although Clay Matthews was inked to a long term deal, the best overall linebacker was Desmond Bishop that missed last season on injured reserve.. He led the team with 121 total tackles 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in 2011.  He rejoins AJ Hawk who led the 2012 Packers with 120 total tackles and 3 sacks. However Hawk is somewhat of a liability against the pass without a  single pass defensed all year. He can get caught in space against speedy receivers and third down backs at times also.

One question is who will Kevin Greene develop to take Walden’s place at OLB opposite Matthews?? Will they draft a new player or possibly shift present ILB Brad Jones outside or promote Dezman Moses who had 4 sacks in spot duty last season. One position that is solidified is Matthews who is one of the league’s best pass rusher. His new five year deal will keep him in Green Bay until he’s 31. Last year he had 13 sacks and is the focal point of the pass rush. This group had 34 of the team’s 52 sacks. This is a playoff caliber group that is the best part of this defense.

Secondary: This group will have to develop a new leader with the loss of team captain and team favorite Charles Woodson. However they will be better at cornerback with the development of Casey Hayward (6ints) to go along with Sam Shields and Tramon Williams. Hayward led the team in interceptions and passes defensed with 21. Williams was 5th on the team with 61 total tackles and another 15 passes defensed.

New FS Morgan Burnett made plenty of open field tackles with 122 but needs to make a few more plays against the pass. He should improve in his second season as a starter. Right now there are more cornerbacks than safeties in-house and may. They would be better suited to move Burnett to Strong Safety and drafting a more natural ball hawk. Not trying to keep a fading Woodson in the lineup, this secondary could be even better and should be a playoff caliber group.

Casey Hayward,  Morgan Burnett

Hayward’s development gives the Packers three quality young corners.

Overview: Now someone may read that and ask if The Chancellor felt they needed to improve on back  seven yet gave the a playoff caliber grade. The Packers do pressure opposing quarterbacks yet have to blitz to do it. This includes the secondary who contributed with 5.5 sacks themselves. Yet this feast or famine leaves players in coverage too long or provide a Colin Kapernick immense running lanes.

The Packers have been quiet this off-season keeping the team intact and trusting their ability to draft. Over the last few years Green Bay has been able to stock the roster with quality talent. Can they stay ahead of their NFC North counterparts?? This draft will tell the tale. However they have come down from their perch as an NFC heavyweight and looks like they will battle it out just to be a wild card in 2013. Aaron Rodgers and the passing game can cover only so many deficiencies.

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2013 Cincinnati Bengals Team Preview – Slowly Building A Winner

Pau Brown Stadium

Pau Brown Stadium

Over the last two years the Cincinnati Bengals have charged into the NFL playoffs. It’s the first time they have gone in back to back years since 1982, the year after their appearance in Super Bowl XVI. In these recent years, they fell to the Houston Texans in the wildcard round of the playoffs. In 2011 they fell 31-10, however last year they lost a tightly contested contest 19-13. This year many pundits are calling the Houston Texans a Super Bowl favorite. If the Bengals have made strides to catch the Texans what does that make them??

If they were to meet the Texans for a third straight time in the playoffs, you do realize the odds are on the Bengals side…correct?? Over the course of NFL history, there are few teams that have won 3 in a row against an opponent in a five year period in the playoffs. Since 1950, only 4 times out of 11 had a team won all three times. Remember how the Indianapolis Colts vanquished playoff nemesis New England on their way to the Super Bowl XLI title?? How about when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned the tables on Philadelphia in the 2002 NFC Championship on their way to the Super Bowl XXXVIII title?? What are we getting at here?? Keep reading

Third year pro has led the Bengals to the playoffs in back to back years.

Third year pro has led the Bengals to the playoffs in back to back years.

Quarterback: Well coming off a sophomore slump is Andy Dal…wait…what sophomore slump?? Dalton is entering his third year where he improved on his rookie numbers in completion percentage (62.3% v. 58.1%), yards (3,669 v. 3,398) and touchdowns (28 v. 20). Now don’t forget he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2011. Now that the Bengals have opened up the playbook further for a growing quarterback, he did suffer a few more interceptions (16 v. 13) and sacks (46 v. 24) than the year before. However the arc is going up on this kid at the exact same time the division is losing Raven Safety Ed Reed, and he’ll face 32 year old Safeties in Troy Palamalu along with a 34 year old Ryan Clark when he faces the Steelers. If their healthy.

He has gained NFL playoff experience over these last two years and you have to ask yourself; Is this the year he can break through and win a playoff game?? He has to continue his maturation for this to happen. Last year he didn’t look good in the wild card loss to the Texans. He was 14 of 30 for only 127 yards and 1 interception. He was a little unnerved by the crowd noise in Houston. He was apprehensive in that game and had to live with that the whole off-season.

He hasn’t missed a game in his brief career. At 6-2 215lbs, he is a big strong quarterback. He isn’t a threat to run like some of his contemporaries who have dazzled in The Pistol, however he did run for 4TDs last year. He isn’t afflicted by the Bengals losing ways of the past and has helped the team improve from 9-7 in 2011 to 10-6 in 2012. Only an injury seems to be all that could derail further development. Dalton is no fluke and gives the Bengals a fighting chance and ranks as a playoff caliber quarterback.

Offensive Backfield: This is where the Bengals should use a draft pick in a couple of weeks. Last year the Bengals let go of Cedric Benson and former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 1,097 yards and 6TDs. He is a steady but not spectacular player. Yet just like Benson, they keep grabbing running backs off the scrap heap. To take the next step they need to put a play maker at this position instead of a stop-gap performer. With all the SEC picks in the last few years, would they take Eddie Lacy out of Alabama?

The time is now to plug in a viable rookie running back with Green-Ellis still in the fold. He’s only 27 and has a few years left in him. Bengals brass has also re-signed Cedric Peerman who had a better average than Green-Ellis (4.7 yard avg v. 3.9 yard avg) but there had to be a reason why they named Green-Ellis a starter over him. It couldn’t have been pass protection with the team giving up so many sacks. Cincinnati needs a runner not a ball carrier to push the envelope. The league average for yardage per rush is always around 4.0 and that’s all they can get with these players. With that in mind the Bengals can only be average at the position. Maybe Green-Ellis in his second year with the team can be that guy. We’ll wait and see.

AJ Green is the best young receiver in the AFC, period.

AJ Green is the best young receiver in the AFC, period.

Receivers: The other component to the equation why the Bengals are rising to prominence has been the play of AJ Green and TE Jermaine  Gresham. Both are coming off back to back Pro Bowl seasons even though they are so young. In only his second season, Green caught 97 passes for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Do you realize he caught 32 more passes than his rookie year? He improved in all statistical categories. The Bengals have to develop or draft a complement to him so teams, like the Texans in last year’s playoffs, can’t roll coverage to his side.

Green has been able to blossom due to safeties having to pay attention to Gresham in the middle. At 6’5 261lbs, he is too much man for most safeties and linebackers struggle with his speed. He’s the AFC version of Vernon Davis just not as fast. Last year he had 64 receptions for 737 yards and 5 TDs. Career highs in catches and yardage. If the Bengals weren’t in so many spread formations, he would be a 1,000 yard performer. Do you realize he’s only going into his 4th season?? These two alone make the receiving corps. playoff caliber. Develop or draft another receiver and they will be Super Bowl quality.

Offensive Line: This is another area where the Bengals should look on draft day to improve team fortunes. Last year the Bengals rushed for 1,745 yards and 11 TDs. Very middle of the pack numbers in terms of production. Keep in mind they allowed 46 sacks which ranked 26th in the league. Now is not the time for RT Andre Smith to play hardball in contract negotiations. If they lose him they may have to draft a tackle in the first round. When rushing to the strong side last year, the Bengals were thrown for losses 10 times. While in obvious power situations (3rd /4th and 2 or goal line) they converted on 76% of their attempts. All factors indicate he will re-sign.

Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth just came off his first Pro Bowl and is going into his 8th season. Where he didn’t have to face a James Harrison in Pittsburgh last year, he’ll face division new comer Elvis Dumervil in Baltimore.  Elvis did beat him for a sack in last year’s 31-23 loss to the Broncos. This will be his nemesis when they face the Ravens. However up the middle is where the running game is most solid and should improve with Guards Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling who will be 23 and 24 respectively. This group needs to improve in their pass protection and right now they are just average.

Geno Atkins leads the Bengals beastly pass rush.

Geno Atkins leads the Bengals beastly pass rush.

Defensive Line: One of the best defenses in the NFL is strongest right on the defensive front with DT/NT Geno Atkins and DE Michael Johnson. Atkins is only going into his fourth year and has been to the Pro Bowl two straight years. Last year he was 5th on the team in tackles with 54, had 12 1/2 sacks, and four forced fumbles while being voted All Pro. Johnson was right behind him with 52 tackles, 11 1/2 sacks as the team was 2nd in sacks with 52. Wallace Gilberry and Carlos Dunlap gave them 4 linemen with at least 6 sacks. This is a Super Bowl caliber group.

Linebackers: The surprising play of free agent rookie Vontaze Burfict gave the team a faster look on defense than in years prior. In only 14 starts, he led the team with 127 total tackles and had 1 sack. Rey Maualuga was right behind him with 122 stops and another sack. They just need to force more turnovers by interception or fumbles to be a great group.  If they can get a third blood thirsty linebacker behind that pass out! Still a playoff caliber group with Manny Lawson still on board. Former Steeler James Harrison is close to a deal also. To add to the pass rush they already have??

Secondary: Did you know the Bengals were ranked 7th in the NFL against the pass and was 4th in passing touchdowns allowed  with 16?? They were right there with Atlanta (14), Seattle (15), and Baltimore (15) respectively. You’ll note that one won the Super Bowl and the other two battled to make the NFC Championship Game. However this group hasn’t lost anyone like the Ravens losing Ed Reed or the Falcons losing CB Brent Grimes to the Dolphins.

Defensive Co-Ordinator Mike Zimmer gets the most out of a hodge podge veteran laden group that doesn’t give up the big play. Leon Hall (37 tackles / 2 ints) is solid on one corner where they may need to look for Terrence Newman’s ( 73 tackles / 2 ints) replacement on the other side. He’s still playing well but will be 35 when the season starts. Adam “PacMan” Jones is there to lend support as is Nate Clements formerly of the Bills and Niners. Clements made the switch to safety for 9 games last season yet may have to mold a young safety if the Bengals can draft one. Another season like last year and Reggie Nelson will be in the Pro Bowl. He was 3rd on the team in tackles with 83, defensed 9 passes, and had 3 picks. This group is Super Bowl caliber based on their collective production.

Vontaze Burfict is another reason the Bengals are going to make a move in 2013.

Vontaze Burfict is another reason the Bengals are going to make a move in 2013.

Overview: This is as solid a team that the AFC has to offer. Their greatest asset this year is the continuity in coaches and player personnel. Then you look at the relative youth of all the key positions with Dalton, AJ Green, Vontaze Burfict, and Geno Atkins. Now The Chancellor has had his eye on this defense for some time now. This team has an arc that is still going up. They were 7th in defense in 2011 and improved to 6th last year. This is no fluke.

If you look at their division record, in 2011 it was 2-4 which improved to 3-3 in 2012. They finished 10-6 which was the identical record of the Super Bowl Champion Ravens. Yet look at all the upheaval of personnel in both Baltimore and Pittsburgh this offseason. Now think of the hole Elvis Dumervil left in the Broncos defense. Who has a better defense than this football team??  The Bengals can finally concentrate on luxuries in the draft without any obvious weaknesses. Having adjusted to playing near the league’s elite, this young team will crash the playoffs and might make it to Super Bowl XLVIII. Don’t forget the first cold weather Super Bowl had the Bengals in the 16th edition. They will at least make it to the AFC Championship Game. You heard it here first.

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Free Agency Day 2: Dashon Goldson Signs With Tampa Bay

The San Francisco 49ers lost an enforcer with Goldson's departure.

The San Francisco 49ers lost an enforcer with Goldson’s departure.

When a team sends its private jet to fly you cross-country, you knew they were going to throw a contract at Dashon Goldson he couldn’t refuse. The former Pro Bowl and All Pro safety leaves a glaring hole in the back 7 of the 49ers. This is a blow to the defending NFC Champions who are looking at Charles Woodson to replace him. First things first, Goldson is a hitter and terrorized receivers coming into his area.  At 6’2 205 lbs he brings the lumber whether facing a tight end, receiver over the middle, or coming up to support the run.

He’s been a Pro Bowler the last two years and his 67 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 3 interceptions joins last year’s 1st round selection in SS Mark Barron. Now the Buccaneers have two hitters in the secondary and Barron just gained a mentor.  This move could spell the end for Ronde Barber. Two natural safeties should improve the Buccaneer secondary.

At 28 years of age, Goldson should be able to complete his contract and will be needed to improve the 32nd ranked pass defense last year. They were horrible allowing 4,758 yards and 30 touchdowns. They need all the help they can get. Well he signs a 5 year deal and financial points will be disclosed tonight.

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Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

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