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[Game Preview] Week 5 - Philadelphia Eagles(1-2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
It’s that time again for the battle of the Keystone state. The Eagles are looking to build on their first win of the season when they upset the 49ers last week on Sunday Night football, while the Steelers are looking to get back on the field as their game with the Titans was postponed due to the Titans being morons. The game will be a match up between two of the best defensive lines in the NFL this season. Eagles lead the league with 17 sacks, while the Steelers are right on their tail with 15 sacks despite playing one less game. The Eagles patch work offensive line held up last week against the 49ers but they were without their best pass rusher in Nick Bosa. This week, Jordan Mailata and the rest of the line will be tested early and often and will need to hold up to give Carson Wentz time to find his band of rag tag WRs. However, he may get some help this week with the return of Alshon Jeffrey who could be playing his first time since suffering a Lisfranc injury last season. Jeffrey will give Carson something he has been severely missing this season in a big WR who can make contested catches along the sidelines. The Eagles may also see the return of JJAW and Desean Jackson as both have practiced in a limited capacity this week after missing last week’s game due to hamstring injuries. Carson and the Eagles offense will need all the help they can get facing one of the league’s top defenses in a year where they have struggled to get much going in the first four games. On the other side of the ball the Eagles will face one of its toughest tests this season especially Darius Slay who will be following JuJu Smith Schuster. If Slay can shutdown the JuJu the Eagles offense will have a good chance of holding the Steelers in check and give a chance to their offense to win the game. We will see if the Eagles can hold on to the belt of PA this Sunday in their toughest test this season. Go Birds!
General Information
Posting Rules and Guidelines
Remember to join us on Discord during the game!
New to the Eagles? Take a look at our New Fan Page!
Score Prediction Contest
Date
Sunday, October 11th, 2020
Game Time Game Location
1:00 PM - Eastern Heinz Field
12:00 PM - Central 100 Art Rooney Avenue
11:00 AM - Mountain Pittsburgh, PA 15212
10:00 AM - Pacific Wikipedia - Map
Weather Forecast
Stadium Type: Open Air
Surface: Grass
Temperature: 68°F
Feels Like: 69°F
Forecast: Overcast. Rain overnight.
Chance of Precipitation: 8%
Cloud Coverage: 99%
Wind: South-Southeast 4 MPH
Betting Odds
Oddsshark Information
Favorite/Opening Line: Steelers -7
OveUnder: 44.5
Record VS. Spread: Philadelphia 1-3, Pittsburgh 2-1
Where to Watch on TV
FOX will broadcast Sunday’s game to a regional audience. Kenny Albert will handle the play-by-play duties and Jonathan Vilma will provide analysis and Shannon Spake will report from the sidelines.
TV Map - Week 5 TV Coverage Map
Radio Streams
List of Eagles Radio network member stations with internet broadcast availability
Radio.com 94.1 Desktop Streaming
Listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick
Calling the game on 94WIP and the Eagles Radio Network will be Merrill Reese, the NFL’s longest-tenured play-by-play announcer (44th season). Joining Reese in the radio booth will be former Eagles All-Pro wide receiver Mike Quick, while Howard Eskin will report from the sidelines.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA WIP-FM 94.1 FM and 610 AM
Allentown, PA WCTO-FM 96.1 FM
Atlantic City/South Jersey WENJ-FM 97.3 FM
Levittown, PA WBCB-AM 1490 AM
Northumberland, PA WEGH-FM 107.3 FM
Pottsville, PA WPPA-AM 1360 AM
Reading, PA WEEU-AM 830 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA WEJL-FM 96.1 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WEJL-AM 630 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WBAX-AM 1240 AM
Williamsport, PA WBZD-FM 93.3 FM
Wilmington, DE WDEL-FM/AM 101.7 FM
York/LancasteHarrisburg, PA WSOX-FM 96.1 FM
Philadelphia Spanish Radio
Rickie Ricardo and Bill Kulik will handle the broadcast in Spanish on Mega 105.7 FM in Philadelphia and the Eagles Spanish Radio Network.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA LA MEGA 105.7 FM
Allentown, PA WSAN 1470 AM
Atlantic City, NJ WIBG 1020 AM; 101.3 FM
Steelers Radio
Steelers Radio Since 1995, Bill Hillgrove has served as the Voice of the Steelers and has handled play-by-play duties for the broadcast. Former Steelers All-Pro offensive tackle Tunch Ilkin joined the broadcast team in 2001 as an expert analyst. His former teammate, Craig Wolfley, has served as a sideline reporter since 2005. In 2019, Missi Matthews joined Craig Wolfley as an additional sideline reporter.
National Radio
ESPN Radio will broadcast the game nationally with Sean Kelley handling the play by play and Ben Hartstock will provide analysis.
Satellite Radio
Station Eagles Channel Steelers Channel
Sirius Radio SIRI 134 (Streaming 825) SIRI 83 (Streaming 826)
XM Radio Streaming 825 XM 225 (Streaming 826)
Sirius XM Radio SXM 384 (Streaming 825) SXM 225 (Streaming 826)
Eagles Social Media Steelers Social Media
Website Website
Facebook Facebook
Twitter Twitter
Instagram Instagram
Snapchat: Eagles Snapchat: steelers
NFC East Standings
NFC EAST Record PCT Home Road Div Conf PF PA Net Pts Streak
Eagles 1-2-1 .375 0-1-1 1-1 0-1 1-2 84 107 -23 1W
Football Team 1-3 .250 1-1 0-2 1-0 1-1 79 112 -33 3L
Cowboys 1-3 .250 1-1 0-2 0-0 1-2 88 126 -20 2L
Giants 0-4 .000 0-2 0-2 0-0 0-3 38 47 -49 4L
Series Information
The Philadelphia Eagles vs Pittsburgh Steelers. Eagles lead series, 48-28-3
Series History
Head to Head Box Scores
First Game Played
November 19th 1933 at Baker Bowl, Philadelphia, PA . Philadelphia Eagles 25 - Pittsburgh Pirates 6
Points Leader
Philadelphia Eagles lead Pittsburgh Steelers (1498-1116)
Coaches Record
Doug Pederson: 1-0 against the Steelers
Mike Tomlin: 1-2 against Eagles
Coaches Head to Head
Doug Pederson vs Mike Tomlin: Pederson leads 1-0
Quarterback Record
Carson Wentz: Against Steelers: 1-0
Ben Roethlisberger : Against Eagles: 2-2
Quarterbacks Head to Head
Carson Wentz v Ben Roethlisberger: Wentz leads 1-0
Records per Stadium
Record @ Lincoln Financial Field: Eagles lead Steelers: 2-0
Record @ Heinz Field: Steelers lead Eagles 2-0
Rankings and Last Meeting Information
AP Pro 32 Ranking
Eagles No. 20 - Steelers No. 6
Record
Eagles: 1-2-1
Steelers: 3-0
Last Meeting
Sunday, September 25th, 2016
Eagles 34 - Steelers 3
The Eagles blocked a Chris Boswell field goal on the opening drive to deny the Steelers three points. The Eagles drew first blood with a Caleb Strugis field goal to make the score 3–0. Early in the 2nd quarter, Rookie Quarterback Carson Wentz threw a 12-yard touchdown to Jordan Matthews to extend their lead to 10-0. The Steelers answered with a Chris Boswell field goal to make it 10-3 which ended up being their only scoring play of the day. Strugis notched another field goal to bring the score to 13–3 at the half. Early in the 2nd Half, Wentz threw his second TD of the day, a 73-yard touchdown to running back Darren Sproles. Following a 3 and out by the Steelers, rookie running back Wendell Smallwood found the endzone for his first career rushing touchdown and it extended the Eagles lead to 27–3. On the Steelers next drive, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fumbled the football which the Eagles recovered. The Eagles would add another score on a Kenjon Barner rushing touchdown. The Eagles defense which had shutdown and frustrated the Steelers offense most of the day forced one more turnover to seal the game when Roethlisberger threw an interception to Rodney McLeod. The Eagles added another field goal for a final score of 34-3.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last Meeting at Site
Sunday, October 7th, 2012
Steelers 16 - Eagles 14
The Eagles traveled to western Pennsylvania to take on longtime in-state rival Steelers at Heinz Field. After a scoreless first quarter, the Steelers were able to get on the board first with Rashard Mendenhall's 13-yard touchdown run for a 7–0 lead followed by Shaun Suisham's 20-yard field goal for a 10–0 lead at halftime. The Eagles went to work in the 3rd quarter as Michael Vick found LeSean McCoy on a 15-yard touchdown pass to shorten the lead to 10–7. The Steelers increased their lead with Suisham kicking a 37-yard field goal to make the score 13–7. The Eaglesl took the lead with Vick hooking up with Brent Celek on a 2-yard touchdown pass for a 14–13 score. However, the Steelers were able to drive down the field and Suisham wrapped up the game with a game-winning 34-yard field goal for a final score of 16–14.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last 10 Meetings
Date Winner Loser Score
9/25/16 Eagles Steelers 34-3
10/7/12 Steelers Eagles 16-14
9/21/08 Eagles Steelers 15-6
11/7/04 Steelers Eagles 27-3
11/12/00 Eagles Steelers 26-23
11/23/97 Eagles Steelers 23-20
12/11/94 Steelers Eagles 14-3
9/22/91 Eagles Steelers 23-14
11/13/88 Eagles Steelers 27-26
9/30/79 Eagles Steelers 17-14
Injury Reports Depth Charts
Eagles Eagles
Steelers Steelers
2020 “Expert” Picks
Week 5 - "Expert" Picks
2020 Team Stats
Eagles Season Stats
Steelers Season Stats
2020 Stats (Starters/Leaders)
Passing
Name CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT
Wentz 97 160 60.62% 930 4 7 66.9
Roethlisberger 73 109 67.0% 777 7 1 105.2
Rushing
Name ATT YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Sanders 51 236 78.7 4.6 1
Connor 40 224 74.7 5.6 2
Receiving
Name REC YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Ward 18 146 36.5 8.1 1
Smith-Schuster 17 160 53.5 9.4 3
Sacks
Name Sacks Team Total
Graham/Sweat 3.0 17
Watt 3.5 15
Tackles
Name Total Solo Assist Sacks
Gerry 33 17 16 0.0
Hilton 21 19 2 2.0
Interceptions
Name Ints Team Total
Singleton/McLeod 1 2
Haden/Hilton/Watt/Heyward 1 4
Punting
Name ATT YDS LONG AVG NET IN 20 TB BP
Johnston 19 980 62 51.6 45.9 10 2 0
Colquitt 13 569 59 43.8 36.8 4 1 0
Kicking
Name ATT MADE % LONG PAT
Elliot 8 7 87.5% 54 7/7
Boswell 5 5 100.0% 41 7/8
Kick Returns
Name ATT YDS AVG LONG TD
Scott 4 76 19.0 25 0
McCloud 5 144 28.8 49 0
Punt Returns
Name RET YDS AVG LONG TD FC
Ward 4 18 4.5 8 0 5
Johnson 5 38 7.6 18 0 2
League Rankings 2020
Offense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Steelers Stat Steelers Rank
Total Offense 319.0 28th 382.0 14th
Rush Offense 111.5 18th 139.7 8th
Pass Offense 207.5 27th 242.3 19th
Points Per Game 21.0 26th 26.7 T-12th
3rd-Down Offense 43.3% 25th 40.0% T-20th
4th-Down Offense 40.0% T-24th 80.0% T-6th
Red Zone Offense (TD%) 55.6% T-22nd 50.0% T-25th
Defense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Steelers Stat Steelers Rank
Total Defense 352.3 10th 290.0 2nd
Rush Defense 108.8 12th 54.0 1st
Pass Defense 243.5 17th 236.0 12th
Points Per Game 26.8 20th 19.3 5th
3rd-Down Defense 37.0% 6th 42.9% 19th
4th-Down Defense 50.0% T-15th 33.3% T-7th
Red Zone Defense (TD%) 68.8% 23rd 44.4% T-4th
Team
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Steelers Stat Steelers Rank
Turnover Diff. -5 T-29th +2 T-8th
Total Penalties 22 T-15th 15 T-4th
Total Penalty Yards 168 14th 124 6th
Recap from Last Week’s Games.
Eagles - The Eagles traveled across the country following an embarrassing tie to the Bengals in week 3. Doug and Carson looked to redeem themselves against a team that was suffering from almost as many injuries as the Eagles. The Eagles struck first with Carson running the ball in on an 11 yard scramble. Doug felt that he needed to dust off his balls and show everyone that he did in fact still have them after pussying out last week, deciding to inexplicably go for 2, but it paid off to put the Eagles up 8-0. The 49ers answered with a score of their own when rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk hurdled Eagles safety Marcus Epps and found the endzone. After halftime the 49ers came out firing and took their first lead of the game with a George Kittle TD. The Eagles answered with a field goal to bring the score to 14-11. After the Nick Mullens fumble the Eagles took advantage as Carson Wentz dropped a dime to Tyler Fulgham for a 42 yard TD pass to give the EAgles a 18-14 lead. On the very next drive Mullens threw his second interception of the game right to Alex Singleton who took it to the house for a pick 6 and put the Eagles up 25-14. On the next possession, Jim Schwartz switched to his shitty sticks defense despite the 49ers putting in their 3rd string QB Beathard. Schwartz gifted Beathard easy throws as he quickly moved the ball down the field for an easy TD. The Eagles recovered an outside kick, but went three and out. Schwartz continued to see the error in his sticks defense as Beathard again moved the ball with ease, but thankfully the Eagles players made some plays breaking up some key passes and bailing out their coach’s poor decisions.
Steelers - Steelers game week 4 was postponed because the Titans are morons.
Connections
Eagles DT Javon Hargrave was drafted by the Steelers in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft and played 4 seasons with the Steelers before signing with the Eagles this past offseason.
Eagles senior director of player personnel was the General Manager for the Steelers from 1991-1999 and is from the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon.
Eagles RB Coach Duce Staley played 3 seasons for the Steelers from 2004-2006 winning Super Bowl XL with them in 2006.
Eagles TE Coach Justin Peele signed with the Steelers in 2012, but was released with the final cuts following training camp.
Eagles RB Miles Sanders is from Pittsburgh and attended Woodland Hills HS.
Steelers G/C Stefan Wisniewski played three seasons for the Eagles from 2016-2018 winning Super Bowl LII with them in 2017.
Steelers OT Alejandro Villanueva was signed by the Eagles in 2014 and placed on their Practice Squad before being signed off their PS by the Steelers later that season.
Steelers Practice Squad RB Wendell Smallwood was drafted by the Eagles in the 5th round of the 2016 draft and played 3 seasons with them from 2016-2018.
Steelers Special Teams Coordinator Danny Smith was the Special Teams and DB coach for the Eagles from 1995-1998.
2020 Pro Bowlers
Eagles Steelers
DT Fletcher Cox (Starter) C Maurkice Pouncey (Starter)
OG Brandon Brooks (Starter) G David DeCastro
C Jason Kelce (Starter) DT Cameron Heyward (Starter)
LS Rick Lovato (Starter) OLB T. J. Watt (Starter)
TE Zach Ertz FS Minkah Fitzpatrick (Starter)
SS Malcom Jenkings (1st Alt) CB Joe Haden (1st Alt)
OT Lane Johnson (1st Alt
General
Referee: Ron Torbert
Philadelphia owns a 48-28-3 all-time record vs. Pittsburgh in a series that dates back to 1933. The Eagles have won 4 of the last 6 games against the Steelers, as well as 7 of the last 10.
The last time these two teams met was on 9/25/16 at Lincoln Financial Field, when Philadelphia defeated Pittsburgh, 34-3, in the second game of Carson Wentz’s NFL career and the second game of Doug Pederson’s tenure as the Eagles’ head coach.
Philadelphia is aiming for its first road victory at Pittsburgh since a 26-23 overtime win at Three Rivers Stadium on 11/12/00.
The Eagles (17.0) and Steelers (15.0) enter this week’s matchup ranked 1st and 2nd in the NFL in sacks, respectively. This is the first time Philadelphia has led the league in sacks during Weeks 1-4 since 2011 (15.0, tied with Washington). It is also the Eagles’ most sacks through 4 games since 2008 (also 17.0).
Pittsburgh native Miles Sanders ranks 5th in the NFL with 236 rushing yards since his season debut in Week 2, trailing only Dal-vin Cook, Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon.
Draft Picks
Eagles Steelers
WR Jalen Raegor WR Chase Claypool
QB Jalen Hurts OLB Alex Highsmith
LB Davion Taylor RB Anthony McFarland Jr.
S K’Von Wallace G Kevin Dotson
OT Jack Driscoll S Antoine Brooks
WR John Hightower ST Carlos Davis
LB Shaun Bradley
WR Quez Watkins
OT Prince Tega Wanogho
LB/DE Casey Toohill
Notable Off-season Additions
Eagles Steelers
S Will Parks FB Derek Watt
DT Javon Hargrave G/C Stefan Wisniewski
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman TE Eric Ebron
CB Darius Slay Dt Chris Wormley
Notable Off-season Departures
Eagles Steelers
S Malcom Jenkins DT Javon Hargrave
CB Ronald Darby G Ramon Foster
RB Jordan Howard TE Nick Vannett
WR Nelson Agholor OL B.J. Finney
OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai LB Tyler Matakevich
LB Kamu Grugler-Hill CB Artie Burns
RB Darren Sproles S Sean Davis
DT Timmy Jernigan FB Roosevelt Nix
LB Nigel Bradham
Milestones
Eagles WR Desean Jackson (6397) needs 68 yards to move up to 3rd on the Eagles all-time receiving yards list all-time passing WR Mike Quick
Eagles WR Desean Jackson (34) needs 2 TDs to move into a tie for 7th on the Eagles all-time receiving TD list tying WR Jeremy Maclin
Eagles DE Brandon Graham (54) needs 1 sack to move to 4th on the Eagles all-time sack list passing DE Hugh Douglas
Eagles DT Fletcher Cox (49) needs 1.5 sacks to move up to 6th on the Eagles all-time sack list tying DE Greg Brown
Eagles DE Vinny Curry (27.5) needs 2 sacks to move up to 18th on the Eagles all-time sack list tying DT Jerome Brown
Steelers DT Cameron Heyward (54.5) needs 3 sacks to move up to 5th on the Steelers all-time sack list passing OLB LaMarr Woodley
Steelers DT Bud Dupree (34) needs 2 sacks to move up to 10th on the Steelers all-time sack list passing LB Lawrence Timmons and LB **Kevin Greene)
Stats to Know
Battle of the Defensive Lines
This game will feature two of the top Pressure-generating Defensive Lines. Watt, Dupree, and Tuitt are all in the top 10 DLmen in pressures, with 18, 17, and 17. Meanwhile, the Eagles feature 3 in the top 20. Graham, Jackson, and Cox have netted 15, 14, and 13. Considering Philadelphia's makeshift OL and that QB Wentz has a remarkable 20.0 passer rating under pressure, this could get ugly.
Matchups to Watch
Steelers Offensive Line vs Eagles Defensive Line
As the Eagles defensive line goes so goes the defense. That statement has always been true for the Eagles under Jim Schwartz, but that has never been more emphasized this year given the lack of talent elsewhere on the defense especially at LB. This defensive line has been firing on all cylinders with a league leading 17 sacks through 4 games. This has been especially the last two weeks, helping to limit any potential damages they may take during games. Two weeks ago, Burrow was sacked 8 times; they followed that up with 5 more sacks this past Sunday night. Additionally, Philly pressured Niners starting QB Nick Mullen on 50% of his drop backs, a massive figure. They'll need that juice to carry over this week again and like it did the last time these two teams faced each other 4 years ago. It also must be said the Eagles need their talented defensive line to control the LOS to prohibit any Steelers rushing attack. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Malik Jackson are all off to hot starts on the season. Newbie Javon Hargrave, making his first return trip to Pittsburgh this Sunday, had a slow start missing the first game of the season due to a training camp injury, but he has started to heat up the last two weeks. Derek Barnett had probably his best game one week ago and is looking to build off that as the season continues. If it does, then it'll look like Barnett has taken a long-awaited jump in play. Josh Sweat is starting to prove his own hot start isn't a fluke either. Genard Avery decided to throw his name into the ring last week getting multiple pressures and notching a sack and 5 QB hits against the 49ers Control the LOS and you can control the game. That has to happen again on Sunday if the Eagles want a chance to win.
Steelers bevy of Offensive Skill Position Players vs the Eagles Depleted Secondary
Last week, the Eagles did a great job containing the Niners outside receivers and predictably got obliterated by George Kittle. That last part isn't surprising since Kittle does that to everyone but the Eagles have already shown a total inability to defend TEs and the middle of the field on defense due to being completely devoid at talent at the LB position. Additionally, the Eagles struggle to really cover anyone since they don't have a member of the secondary that can consistently cover like Darius Slay. Granted, Jalen Mills had a decent game last week, but the Steelers offensive weapons are much deeper than the Niners. Dionte Johnson, Juju Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and Eric Ebron will all be very difficult for the Eagles to defend as the game goes along. They each have different skill sets but what they all possess is an ability to consistently get open for Big Ben. We've also seen Juju, Dionte, and Claypool all create big plays after they catch the ball. The Eagles will have to come out with a gameplan to account for this and play disciplined enough to prohibit the big play. There is still a lot of room for error on the back half of this Eagles denese; if they can execute like they did this past Saturday night, that would help limit the potential damage.
Steelers Pass Rush vs The Eagles Revolving Door of Offensive Linemen
If there is one thing the Eagles prioritize more than anything in the draft and in free agency it's building a great offensive line with a lot of depth. This has been a pillar of the organization for over two decades and it has paid off for the Eagles the entire time. Few times in recent history has that philosophy been put to the test and stressed the team like it has so far in 2020. As it stands, the Eagles have, at best, a league-average offensive line and that's largely due to injury as they are currently missing their starting LT, RG, and LG. Sunday has a chance to be the 5th time in 5 weeks the Eagles will have a different starting offensive line combination if Lane Johnson can't go this week. Poor offensive line can cripple an offense. It can derail a passing attack if the offensive line can't keep the offense in a rhythm and keep the QB from being under duress. It forces coaches to give extra attention to the area which takes away from their ability to be creative when they need to leave an extra guy in to block. Additionally, constant OL shuffling and a degradation in talent can hinder a rushing attack since the players on the bottom end of the roster just can't execute at a high level the pillars of the offense. That's a situation the Eagles find themselves in on Sunday against one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. The Eagles offensive line had their hands full against a Niners line that is still good despite its own major injury issues. At EDGE, the Steelers have a perennial DPOY candidate in TJ Watt to go along with a solid and athletic pass rusher in Bud Dupree. They also have stalwarts in the interior with Cameron Hayward and Stephon Tuitt. Long time NFL veteran Tyson Alualu, former 1st round pick of the Jaguars, has suddenly elevated his game and is off to the best start in his career as well. The defensive front is very disruptive when paired with their LBs who excel in both run support and on blitz in Devin Bush and Vince Williams. Steelers DC Keith Butler is creative with his looks and pressure packages while being blessed without the need to blitz constantly. Even if Lane Johnson starts he won't be 100% and that's a problem for the Eagles. A Lane Johnson at less than 100% is still better than most NFL tackles but it'll likely be taxing to the Eagles since the depth of talent the Steelers have across their defensive line. The Eagles are down to mostly nobodies on offense and really need to get creative to string together some plays to have a modestly effective offense. Even when Wentz is on his A-game, offensive execution will still require near 100% effectiveness just to have a chance. This is perhaps one of the biggest OL/DL mismatches in the NFL in week 5 and one the Eagles don't figure to have a ton of success. If they are able to control the line of scrimmage on offense more successfully than previous Steelers opponents, that would go a long way in pulling out a win.
Special thanks to MikeTysonChicken and abenyishay for their help in creating this Game Preview.
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WEEK 3: Denver Broncos (0-2) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

The Denver Broncos will look to snap their two-game losing streak to start the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High (2:25 p.m. MDT kickoff). The Broncos will be hosting approximately 5,700 fans as the team opens the stadium’s doors to Broncos Country for the first time this season.
Game Previews
TV/Radio - TV Broadcast Map
Game Notes
Team News/Injury Report - Final Injury Report
Last Meeting
Notable Team Connections
Please check back throughout the week as I’ll update the news/injury report daily.
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[Game Preview] Week 3 - Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Philadelphia Eagles(0-2)

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-2)
The Eagles are off to their worst start with a real coach since 2003 (I consider 2013-2015 non-existent) when they also dropped their first two games of the season. The team would like a repeat of that season where following a week 3 bye,the team rebounded to defeat the Bills 23-13. The Eagles ripped off 12 wins in their remaining 14 games following their 0-2 start. Maybe the Eagles will be able to do the same, but they will have to shake the injury bug first. The Eagles will be without first round pick Jalen Raegor this week who underwent surgery on his hand to repair a torn UC ligament in his thumb. The Eagles may also be without Fletcher Cox who is dealing with an oblique injury. The Cox injury should be watched closely if he can’t go, Joe Mixon and Joe Burrow will have a much easier day against the struggling defense. Last week against the Rams, the defense was under prepared and unable to stop anyone. The Rams took advantage of Jim Schwartz’s consistently odd decision to have his CBs, play so far off the line of scrimmage, giving a free release to the WRs and allowing easy short passes. If Schwartz does the same this week, it will be another long day for the Eagles defense and a great fantasy day for Tyler Boyd, who Bengals Joe Burrow connected with 7 times last week including 1 for a TD. On the other side of the ball Doug and Carson will both need to be better than the last two weeks. For Carson, he needs to get out of his own head and play with confidence. For Doug, he needs to find some creativity and help his 5th year QB. He would do well to get Carson moving and utilize the RBs more in the flat and screen game. However, if we see more of the same we saw in weeks 1 and 2 from the Eagles coaching staff, we should expect another loss. Hopefully that is not the case and Carson and the coaches can learn from their mistakes in weeks 1-2 and pull our a win this week. Go Birds!
General Information
Posting Rules and Guidelines
Remember to [join us on Discord]https://discord.gg/HwwBbM3) during the game!
New to the Eagles? Take a look at our New Fan Page!
Score Prediction Contest
Date
Sunday, September 27th, 2020
Game Time Game Location
1:00 PM - Eastern Lincoln Financial Field
12:00 PM - Central 1020 Pattison Ave
11:00 AM - Mountain Philadelphia, PA 19148
10L00 AM - Pacific Wikipedia - Map
Weather Forecast
Stadium Type: Open Air
Surface: Grass
Temperature: 78°F
Feels Like: 78°F
Forecast: Clear. Partly cloudy throughout the day.
Chance of Precipitation: 1%
Cloud Coverage: 31%
Wind: South Southwest 8 MPH
Betting Odds
Oddsshark Information
Favorite/Opening Line: Eagles -5
OveUnder: 46.5
Record VS. Spread: Philadelphia 0-2, Cincinnati 1-0-1
Where to Watch on TV
CBS will broadcast Sunday’s game to a regional audience. Spero Dedes will handle the play-by-play duties and Adam Archuleta will provide analysis.
TV Map - Week 3 TV Coverage Map
Radio Streams
List of Eagles Radio network member stations with internet broadcast availability
Radio.com 94.1 Desktop Streaming
Listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick
Calling the game on 94WIP and the Eagles Radio Network will be Merrill Reese, the NFL’s longest-tenured play-by-play announcer (44th season). Joining Reese in the radio booth will be former Eagles All-Pro wide receiver Mike Quick, while Howard Eskin will report from the sidelines.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA WIP-FM 94.1 FM and 610 AM
Allentown, PA WCTO-FM 96.1 FM
Atlantic City/South Jersey WENJ-FM 97.3 FM
Levittown, PA WBCB-AM 1490 AM
Northumberland, PA WEGH-FM 107.3 FM
Pottsville, PA WPPA-AM 1360 AM
Reading, PA WEEU-AM 830 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA WEJL-FM 96.1 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WEJL-AM 630 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WBAX-AM 1240 AM
Williamsport, PA WBZD-FM 93.3 FM
Wilmington, DE WDEL-FM/AM 101.7 FM
York/LancasteHarrisburg, PA WSOX-FM 96.1 FM
Philadelphia Spanish Radio
Rickie Ricardo and Bill Kulik will handle the broadcast in Spanish on Mega 105.7 FM in Philadelphia and the Eagles Spanish Radio Network.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA LA MEGA 105.7 FM
Allentown, PA WSAN 1470 AM
Atlantic City, NJ WIBG 1020 AM; 101.3 FM
Bengals Radio
Bengals Radio Dan Hoard will handle play-by-play and Dave Lapham will provide analysis for the game.
National Radio
Compass Media will broadcast the game nationally with Chris Carrino handling the play by play and Brian Baldinger will provide analysis.
Satellite Radio
Station Eagles Channel Bengals Channel
Sirius Radio SIRI 81 (Streaming 825) SIRI 105 (Streaming 806)
XM Radio XM 226 (Streaming 825) Streaming 806
Sirius XM Radio SXM 226 (Streaming 825) SXM 385 (Streaming 806)
Eagles Social Media Bengals Social Media
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NFC East Standings
NFC EAST Record PCT Home Road Div Conf PF PA Net Pts Streak
Football Team 1-1 .500 1-0 0-1 1-0 1-1 42 47 -5 1L
Cowboys 1-1 .500 1-0 0-1 0-0 1-1 57 59 -2 1W
Eagles 0-2 .000 0-1 0-1 0-1 0-2 36 64 -28 2L
Giants 0-2 .000 0-1 0-1 0-0 0-1 39 43 -14 2L
Series Information
The Cincinnati Bengals lead the Philadelphia Eagles(Cincinnati Bengals lead series, 9-3-1)
Series History
Head to Head Box Scores
First Game Played
September 19th, 1971 at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, OH . CIncinnati Bengals 37 Philadelphia Eagles 14
Points Leader
Cincinnati Bengals lead Philadelphia Eagles (360-222)
Coaches Record
Doug Pederson: 0-1 against the Bengals
Zac Taylor: 0-0 against Eagles
Coaches Head to Head
Doug Pederson vs Zac Taylor: First meeting between coaches
Quarterback Record
Carson Wentz: Against Rams: 0-1
Joe Burrow: Against Eagles: 0-0
Quarterbacks Head to Head
Carson Wentz vs Joe Burrow: First meeting between QBs.
Records per Stadium
Record @ Lincoln Financial Field: Bengals lead Eagles: 2-0
Record @ Paul Brown Stadium: Bengals lead Eagles 1-0-1
Rankings and Last Meeting Information
AP Pro 32 Ranking
Eagles No. 23 - Bengals No. 28
Record
Eagles: 0-2
Bengals: 0-2
Last Meeting
Sunday, December 4th, 2016
Eagles 32 - Rams 14
Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes and Cincinnati finally got its depleted offense moving without receiver A.J. Green, and the Bengals sent the Philadelphia Eagles to their most lopsided loss of the season, 32-14 on Sunday.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last Meeting at Site
Sunday December 13th, 2012
Bengals 34 - Eagles 13
Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, an opportunistic defense forced five turnovers, and Cincinnati beat the Philadelphia Eagles 34-13 on Thursday night. The Eagles offense imploded turning the ball over 4 times with another turnover on a kick off. At one point the Eagles turned the ball over on 3 straight possessions. The Eagles lost double digit games for the first time since 2005, in one of the last games the Eagles were coached by Andy Reid.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last 10 Meetings
Date Winner Loser Score
12/4/2016 Bengals Eagles 32-14
12/13/2012 Bengals Eagles 34-13
11/16/2008 Bengals & Eagles 13-13
1/2/2005 Bengals Eagles 38-10
12/24/2000 Eagles Bengals 16-7
11/30/1997 Eagles Bengals 44-42
12/24/1994 Bengals Eagles 33-30
11/17/1991 Eagles Bengals 17-10
9/11/1988 Bengals Eagles 28-24
11/21/1982 Bengals Eagles 18-14
Injury Reports Depth Charts
Eagles Eagles
Bengals Bengals
2020 “Expert” Picks
Week 3 - "Expert" Picks
2020 Team Stats
Eagles Season Stats
Bengals Season Stats
2020 Stats (Starters/Leaders)
Passing
Name CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT
Wentz 50 85 58.8% 512 2 4 64.4
Burrow 60 97 61.9% 509 3 1 81.5
Rushing
Name ATT YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Sanders 20 95 95 4.8 1
Mixon 35 115 57.5 3.3 0
Receiving
Name REC YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Goedert 12 131 65.5 10.9 1
Boyd 11 105 52.5 9.5 1
Sacks
Name Sacks Team Total
Sweat/Graham 1.0 4
Lawson/Bynes 1.0 2
Tackles
Name Total Solo Assist Sacks
Gerry 17 8 9 0.0
Bell/Bynes 16 6/7 10/9 0/1.0
Interceptions
Name Ints Team Total
N/A 0 0
Jackson III 1 1
Punting
Name ATT YDS LONG AVG NET IN 20 TB BP
Johnston 7 389 62 55.6 49.1 4 1 0
Huber 8 428 70 53.5 43.5 3 3 0
Kicking
Name ATT MADE % LONG PAT
Elliot 4 3 75.0% 38 3/3
Bullock 6 5 83.3% 50 4/4
Kick Returns
Name ATT YDS AVG LONG TD
Scott 3 61 20.3 25 0
Wilson 3 131 43.7 45 0
Punt Returns
Name RET YDS AVG LONG TD FC
Raegor 2 6 3.0 6 0 2
Erickson 2 29 14.5 29 0 1
League Rankings 2020
Offense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Bengals Stat Bengals Rank
Total Offense 314.0 28th 324.0 26h
Rush Offense 89.0 29th 95.0 26th
Pass Offense 225.0 23rd 229.0 22nd
Points Per Game 18.0 T-27th 21.5 23rd
3rd-Down Offense 46.2% T-11th 43.8 15th
4th-Down Offense 0.0% T-25th 100.0 T-1st
Red Zone Offense (TD%) 60.0% T-14th 40.0% 30th
Defense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Bengals Stat Bengals Rank
Total Defense 344.0 9th 398.0 22nd
Rush Defense 135.5 22nd 185.0 30th
Pass Defense 208.5 5th 213.0 7th
Points Per Game 32.0 26th 25.5 T-16th
3rd-Down Defense 40.0% 10th 45.8% 20th
4th-Down Defense 66.7% T-19th 25.0% T-9th
Red Zone Defense (TD%) 77.8% 27th 62.5% 16th
Team
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Bengals Stat Bengals Rank
Turnover Diff. -5 32nd -2 T-25th
Total Penalties 8 5th 11 T-12th
Total Penalty Yards 50 2nd 89 13th
Recap from Last Week’s Games.
Eagles - The Eagles' struggles continued in their home opener against the Los Angeles Rams. An early fumble by Miles Sanders led to a Rams touchdown by Tyler Higbee. After the Eagles cut their deficit to four with a Jake Elliott field goal, Los Angeles responded with a Robert Woods touchdown run followed by a second Higbee touchdown catch. Trailing 21-3, the Eagles closed the deficit to five points by halftime with touchdown runs by Wentz and Sanders. After forcing a three-and-out on the Rams' first possession of the second half, the Eagles would drive to the Los Angeles 21, only for Wentz's first down pass to be picked off by Darious Williams, turning the momentum back in the Rams' favor as they would outscore the Eagles 16-3 the rest of the way. Despite not being sacked once during the game, Wentz finished the day with a 56.5 passer rating, completing 26 of 43 passes for 242 yards and two interceptions. The 37-19 blowout loss dropped Philadelphia to 0-2 for the first time since the 2015 season, and marked the Eagles' first home opener loss since that same season. It was also the first home loss to the Rams franchise since the opener of the 2001 season.
Bengals - After losing their regular season-opening game at home, the Bengals then traveled to Cleveland to face the Browns for Battle of Ohio Round 1. In the first quarter, the Bengals scored first when Randy Bullock kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 3-0. Though, the Browns took the lead when Nick Chubb ran for an 11-yard TD to make it 7-3. In the second quarter, the Browns went up by double digits when Baker Mayfield found O'dell Beckham Jr. on a 43-yard TD pass to make it 14-3. The Bengals then came within 4 after Joe Burrow found C.J. Uzomah on a 23-yard TD pass to make it 14-10. Mayfield then found Kareem Hunt on a 6-yard TD pass to put the Browns up by double digits, 21-10. The Bengals closed out the half when Randy Bullock kicked a 43-yard field goal to make it 21-13 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Browns went back up by double digits when Chubb ran for a 1-yard TD to make it 28-13. The Bengals drew closer with Bullock's 27-yard field goal to make it 28-16. In the fourth quarter, the Bengals were able to get within 5 when Burrow found Mike Thomas on a 4-yard TD pass to make the score 28-23. Though, the Browns would go back up by double digits yet again when Hunt punched the ball in for a 1-yard TD to make it 35-23. The Bengals wrapped up the scoring when Burrow found Tyler Boyd on a 9-yard TD pass to make the final score 35-30.
Connections
Bengals HC Zac Taylor is the older brother of Eagles QB Press Taylor.
Bengals TE Coach James Casey played two seasons for the Eagles from 2013-2014.
Bengals assistant Special Teams coach Colt Anderson played 4 seasons for the Eagles from 2010-2013.
Eagles Run game coordinatodefensive line coach Matt Burke was the LB coach for the Bengals from 2014-2015.
Eagles DB coach Marquand Manuel played for the Bengals from 2002-2003.
2020 Pro Bowlers
Eagles Bengals
DT Fletcher Cox (Starter) DT Geno Atkins
OG Brandon Brooks (Starter)
C Jason Kelce (Starter)
LS Rick Lovato (Starter)
TE Zach Ertz
SS Malcom Jenkings (1st Alt)
OT Lane Johnson (1st Alt
General
Referee: Adrian Hill
Philadelphia hosts Cincinnati at Lincoln Financial Field for just the third time in the all-time series and first time since 2012. Sunday marks the 14th overall meeting between the two teams.
The Eagles are 23-10 (.697) at home in the regular season under head coach Doug Pederson, which is tied for the 6th-best home winning percentage in the NFL since 2016, trailing only New En-gland (.818, 27-6), Baltimore (.758, 25-8), Kansas City (.758, 25-8), New Orleans (.727, 24-9) and Green Bay (.712, 23-9-1).
In Week 2 vs. L.A. Rams, Miles Sanders combined for 131 scrim-mage yards (3rd-most in a single game in his career), including 95 rushing (1 TD) and 36 receiving. In 2019, Sanders led his class with a franchise-rookie-record 1,327 scrimmage yards.
Brandon Graham recorded sack No. 52 of his NFL career against Rams QB Jared Goff in Week 2 vs. L.A. Rams. His 52.0 sacks are the 5th-most in Eagles history, behind Reggie White (124.0, 1985-92), Trent Cole (85.5, 2005-14), Clyde Simmons (76.0, 1986-93) and Hugh Douglas (54.5, 1998-2002, ‘04).
Draft Picks
Eagles Bengals
WR Jalen Raegor QB Joe Burrow
QB Jalen Hurts WR Tee Higgins
LB Davion Taylor LB Logan Wilson
S K’Von Wallace LB Akeem Davis-Gaither
OT Jack Driscoll DE Khalid Kareem
WR John Hightower T Hakeem Adeniji
LB Shaun Bradley LB Marcus Bailey
WR Quez Watkins
OT Prince Tega Wanogho
LB/DE Casey Toohill
Notable Off-season Additions
Eagles Bengals
S Will Parks NT DJ Reader
DT Javon Hargrave CB Trae Waynes
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman CB Mackensie Alexander
CB Darius Slay G Xavier Su’a-Filo
LB Josh Bynes
WR Mike Thomas
S Vonn Bell
CB Leshaun Sims
RB Jacques Patrick
Notable Off-season Departures
Eagles Bengals
S Malcom Jenkins QB Andy Dalton
CB Ronald Darby CB Dre Kirkpatrick
RB Jordan Howard G John Miller
WR Nelson Agholor OT Cordy Glenn
OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai TE Tyler Eifert
LB Kamu Grugler-Hill WR Marqise Lee
RB Darren Sproles CB Darqueze Dennard
DT Timmy Jernigan DT Andrew Billings
LB Nigel Bradham S Clayton Fejedelem
Milestones
Eagles QB Carson Wentz (99) needs 1 passing TDs for 100 career passing TDs.
Eagles WR Desean Jackson (6386 needs 79 yards to move up to 3rd on the Eagles all-time receiving yards list all-time passing WR *Mike Quick
Eagles WR Desean Jackson (34) needs 2 TDs to move into a tie for 7th on the Eagles all-time receiving TD list tying WR Jeremy Maclin
Eagles DE Brandon Graham (52) needs 2.5 sacks to move to 4th on the Eagles all-time sack list tying DE Hugh Douglas
Eagles DT Fletcher Cox (48) needs 2.5 sacks to move up to 6th on the Eagles all-time sack list tying DE Greg Brown
Eagles DE Vinny Curry (27) needs 1 sack to move up to 19th on the Eagles all-time sack list passing DT Darwin Walker
Bengals WR AJ Green (8987) needs 13 yards to reach 9000 receiving yards for his career.
Bengals WR AJ Green (63) needs 3 receiving TDs to move into a tie with Chad Johnson for the most receiving TDs in Bengals history.
Stats to Know
QB Adjusted Completion %
What’s one thing rookie Joe Burrow and 5th-year Carson Wentz have in common? They have not been terribly accurate so far. PFF has an Adjusted Completion % stat that accounts for clear drops, spikes, throw aways, batted passes, and throws made while getting hit. Burrow and Wentz are near the bottom in AC%, with 70.4 and 70.3, respectively. Interesting to note a bit of the distribution within the array of aforementioned stats: while Burrow has had one of the lower rates of on-target passes dropped by the receiver (4.1%), Wentz doubled that at 8.4%, good for 5th-highest. Yes, Wentz has stunk, but...
Matchups to Watch
Rookie versus Veteran, Which QB Has Poise Down 0-2?
With two consecutive weeks of porous defense from both the Eagles and Bengals defensive units, this Sunday's matchup should rest squarely on the shoulders of each offensive unit. Will the Eagles be able to rely on fifth year starter Wentz? Will he be able to shake off two tumultuous weeks and put together a consistent offensive performance? Will the Bengals weapons coalesce around their rookie Burrow? Will he be able to put together his first complete NFL game and demonstrate that this season is the turning point for the franchise? A big piece of Wentz stabilizing his game time performance will be continuing his focus on short-time-to-throw plays. From Week 1 with 8 sacks versus the Washington Football Team to Week 2 and zero sacks versus the Rams with the vaunted Aaron Donald, the Eagles Offensive Line and Wentz’ pocket choices resulted in less lost yards and broken plays. Unfortunately, key turnovers again forced short-yardage scoring situations and massive tempo swings. Wentz needs to take advantage of the cleaner pocket that will likely be available versus the Bengals (2 sacks on the year so far) and finish drives cleanly to put the game away. Without rookie WR Jalen Reagor (placed on IR with a thumb injury after Week 2), Wentz will have to make use of the remainder of his threats, including veteran DeSean Jackson who had 6 catches on 9 targets for 64 yards against the superior Rams’ defensive backfield. Joe Burrow has had the classic introductory NFL QB experience. A high-flying game versus the Browns last week, with 300+ yards passing, 3TDs and zero ints was fantastic bounce back from Week 1 versus the Chargers. 193 yards, 0 TDs, and an int will not win the game for the Bengals versus the Eagles, even if Wentz struggles. A key focus for Burrow will be settling into the routine and relationships he’s formed with his offensive weapons. AJ Green remains one of the best WR threats in the NFL and his slow start to the season (8 catches for 80 yards) could end at any time, in any game with a QB like Burrow. Burrow threw a nearly record setting number of passes during the almost-come-from-behind loss versus the Browns; if the Bengals are able to establish their run-game and abuse the Philadelphia secondary in a similar way to the Rams offensive scheme, then Burrow could have a very big day. If he is forced to drop back 60+ times, and Joe Mixon is again held under 75 yards on the ground, the Bengals and Burrow may have a hard time. Keep an eye on how comfortable each QB is feeling, and whether they can establish good tempo. That will be key to offensive production this weekend.
Coaching Conundrum; Pederson versus Taylor
At the core of the NFL these days is the combat between offensive and defensive schemes. Both coaches come from a background of coaching QB play and offensive schemes, though from different eras and coaching trees. How they go about using that experience to enable their teams to a secure a necessary win this week will make or break their seasons. Doug Pederson, at the helm of a revamped offensive coaching tree with the addition of Quarterbacks Coach Press Taylor as Passing Game Coordinator, has had a rough three year stretch of offensive stumbles. Since the miraculous Super Bowl 52 season (2017), the Eagles have consistently failed to be productive, with a lot of the challenges relating to lack of roster depth and poor player improvement through misaligned coaching. This is the third consecutive year of stuttering offense to begin the season and a big piece of the matchup versus the Bengals will be how well the Eagles can settle in. Coach Pederson has made it clear that the lack of full-speed off-season practice plays a big role in the Eagle’s struggles so far; so it remains to be seen when and if both units can make use of this gametime practice to solidify the small flashes of prior success we’ve seen. Opposite Pederson is Coach Taylor, in his second year of a complete rebuild, now with the (ideally career-long) franchise WB in Burrow. Hailing from the Shanahan line, through the LA Rams McVay, Taylor was brought into Cincinnati to recreate the organization’s coaching structure and form a new core for the team around veteran WR AJ Green. The 2019 season showed marked improvement throughout, particularly in run production and passer protection; the addition of Covid-related practice limitations have also taken their toll on the Bengals’ preparations for this season, as exemplified by the Week 1 drubbing by the Ravens. Taylor returns this season with second-year offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, formerly the QB coach for the Raiders. The cerebral talent in the Bengals organization is clearly arrayed around giving Burrow the best possible chance to shine; and they may just do so against an extremely poorly performing Eagles defense. Being able to establish consistent offensive strength and consistency throughout this season will be a key part of whether this new coaching structure is able to flourish in Cincinnati or if yet more change is needed to remake the franchise. During game day, keep an eye out on how these coaches make use of their star players, now that the very early season yips and stumbles should be behind them. Whoever can appropriately adjust to the flow of the game and take advantage of the others mistakes will win this football game.
The Big Punt: How Special Teams Makes An Impact
Kevin versus Cameron, Huber versus Johnston, two players that may very well decide the nature of this Bengals versus Eagles matchup. These titans of the turf, two punters to rule them all, and two punters to pin them deep; two punters waiting on call, and two punters to make fans weep. In lieu of offensive production, and in hopes of good defensive play, Kevin Huber and Cameron Johnston bring their punting prowess to Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday. Hailing from opposite sides of the Earth, Huber from Cincinnati itself, and Johnston from Geelong Australia, these two are some of the most capable foot-based deliverers of the football to opposing teams. Huber holds nearly all of the Bengals franchise records in punting statistics; and Johnston holds the highest gross and net punting averages in a single Eagles season. The third year Australian punter is known by Eagles fans for his insanely long hang-time and penchant for pinning the NY Giants inside the 20 (20+ times in four games). Huber is loved by the Bengals fanbase as both their longest tenured player and his consistency over the past 13 years. He has missed just 2 of 180 possible games, and has been perennially top 10 at his position. Both players are in the final year of their contracts, so effective performance is a must for maximum salary gains. Keep an eye out on how effective these two are in establishing and keeping good field position. If both teams are struggling for consistency, these swings may be the key to a late drive that puts the game away. Additionally, with every punt comes the magic of a muffed punt return. If you’re a particular connoisseur of special teams play, watch and see if these punters add any special spin or location to their strikes; and key turnover last week in this position kept the Eagles hopeful. Maybe lightning will strike twice for the Eagles Special Teams and the Wizard with the Large Leg, Cam Johnston; maybe the Bengals gunners will scoop up a muff and Huber will be huger than expected. Stay tuned!
Special thanks to belisaurius and abenyishay for their help in creating this Game Preview.
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My Proposal for Detroit's Future

Well, we lost, which means we are back to being bad. Jokes aside, the win last weekend was fun, but as I think today showed, it was merely a mirage. The evidence leans toward Matt Patricia not being a good coach, and I think it will be best that he and Detroit go in separate ways at the seasons end.
And to be clear, Patricia still has a chance to turn the season around and get Detroit into contention. I think people forget that the Titans were 2-4 last year before winding up in the AFC Championship Game. I absolutely do not believe this will happen for Detroit, but rather, just being realistic that Detroit's schedule will ease up here soon enough, and maybe that gives them the confidence they need to make some things happen. But unless Patricia makes the playoffs, I am prepared, even eager I dare say, to move on.
Now, I am obviously not Sheila Ford. But if I were, this is how I would approach this offseason.

General Manager

The biggest question, should Detroit falter is what happens to Bob Quinn. While most would probably assume that Quinn and Patricia's fates are tied together, I think it could be a little bit more complicated than that. Allow me to elaborate on this.
First and foremost, my view of the role of the GM is to work in conjunction with your head coach to create a vision for what the team will look like. The coach then goes about implementing that vision on the practice field and in games, developing and coaching the team to wins in whatever fashion they think they can. The GM goes about implementing that vision in the free agent markets, on the trade blocs, and in the draft room.
In this sense, I think you could actually argue that Bob Quinn has been effective. He has built the Detroit Lions in the image of the New England Patriots, largely by bringing in former Patriots and players with a similar skill set. In terms of swiftly restyling the team, Quinn has arguably done exactly this. He's given Patricia personnel that match the scheme both in the draft and in free agency. As the executioner of this flawed vision, Quinn has managed to reshape them. He is effective in building a wannabe Patriots. Most will focus on the wannabe Patriots, as the issue, and to a large degree, they aren't wrong. But what they miss is that Quinn has done it effectively.
Now, there are surely some poor decisions mixed in there. Quinn missed on some draft evaluations like Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor. He did ship out Quandre Diggs for pennies and missed the window to extend Kenny Golladay before it could get more expensive. This isn't to say that Quinn is perfect, in fact, I'm not even arguing Quinn is a relatively good GM, just that he effectively executed a vision. Personally, I wish he had embraced a better vision, and for that, I'd have no issue firing him. But rather, just making the case that Quinn could stick around for another coaching hire. After all, it was Quinn who fired Jim Caldwell for his utter inability to beat good teams, only to turn around and hire buddy buddy Matty P who struggles to even beat bad teams.
If Quinn is gone, let's look at some of the names to replace him....

General Manager Candidates

The first name that usually comes to everyone's mind is Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds. A widely regarded scout during his time in Seattle, Colts current GM Chris Ballard swiped Dodds away by making him his number two in Indy. He's played a big part in rebuilding the Colts roster, whether bringing in guys like Denico Autry or Kenny Moore, or drafting players like Braden Smith and Darius Leonard. While he's clearly a top option for just about anyone, there are some questions about whether or not he even wants the spotlight of a GM position. From Bleacher Report's Matt Miller: "he doesn't particularly like the attention that comes with being a decision-maker and might not even have the desire to be a general manager." Personally, I don't think someone who is hesitant to take on a general manager role in the first place would be eager to go to the Lions, given our horrid history.
Dodds was from the line of Seahawks GM John Schneider, and he has a few other deputies who could be interesting candidates, notably Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer. Originally a scout himself, he's been in Seattle for awhile now, and was huge piece of the 2010-2012 draft classes that produced Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Bobby Wagner. Additionally, he serves alongside fellow co-director of player personnel, Trent Kirchner, who also figures to be an intriguing candidate.
Detroit may want to consider getting someone with experience running their own show, and if that's the case, Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland could be an interesting name. Ireland was the Dolphins GM from 2008 until 2013, a time when they weren't as bad as they have been the past few seasons. Over his stretch, they peaked in year one with a playoff berth, and proceeded to go 7-9 just about every year following. So why would Detroit be interested in Ireland? Well, he has had time to reflect on the mistakes made during his time, and spent the past few years working in a better organization (the Saints) where you get an idea of new ways to approach things.
I live in Denver, and happen to be connected to a few Broncos employees out here, one of whom would actually have respectable insight, so I texted him and asked "who should Detroit consider for a new GM?". His response was 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters who was with Denver for a few years during their Super Bowl run. He ran college scouting in Denver, and now works alongside John Lynch in building the monstrosity that is the 49ers roster. He even made one the "GM candidates to know" lists that people put out, so it seems some others would share the hype.
Looking at other successfully run organizations, the Baltimore Ravens and director of player personnel Joe Hortiz come to mind. Horitz has been in Baltimore under both Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta, so he's clearly seen what a well-run organization looks like, one that isn't exclusively tied to a legendary head coach. He's played a large role in scouting (1998-2016), a time in which Baltimore added stars like Ronnie Stanley, Za'Darius Smith, C.J Mosley, Brandon Williams, Kelechi Osemele, and Jimmy Smith amongst plenty of others.
If Detroit wants to take a wild swing at the television personalities, like the Raiders did with Mike Mayock, the top candidate there would probably be ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, who was a pro scout with the Redskins for a few years, and worked as director of player personnel for both the Redskins and Eagles.
One person I just want to clearly rule out is Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio. First and foremost, if Bill O'Brien survives the 2020 season as head coach of the Texans, Caserio will be named their new GM. Second, Detroit absolutely needs to avoid another born and raised Patriots executive. So no Caserio. If so, we riot.
I think, ultimately for me, Ireland has too much baggage, Riddick is too much of a wild card, and Dodds isn't likely to leave for Detroit. Therefore, my top target is probably going to be Scott Fitterer, but I'd be thoroughly pleased with Kirchner, Peters, or Hortiz.

Head Coaching Candidates

Not even debating it. Matt Patricia is out. Between an archaic scheme, contentious relations with star players, and poor awareness with the media, Patricia hasn't shown he's worth it. We will be parting ways with him, and I'm sure he'll end up with the Patriots, Giants, or Dolphins in some assistant capacity.
The first name to mention is Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Everyone knows the deal here, I'm not getting too much into it. Same with Michigan-native, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. We'll be discussing less talked about candidates here.
One name that does not get a lot of hype is Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He remains one of the absolute best at tailoring offenses to create dynamic rushing attacks with dual-threat quarterbacks. While Matthew Stafford isn't exactly a dual-threat QB, perhaps a pairing of Roman and OSU QB Justin Fields could be a lot of fun to watch. Roman has called offenses for both Harbaugh brothers, in San Francisco with Jim where he created an offense for Colin Kaepernick, and now in Baltimore with John and Lamar Jackson.
One Kansas City coach who doesn't get as much hype as he probably should is Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. He's a trusted assistant for Andy Reid, and historically speaking, special teams coordinators actually have a fairly high success rate. He's been highly regarded for his leadership within the Chiefs franchise these past few years.
If Detroit wants to keep a defensive focus at the head coaching spot, then Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is one of the best in the business. Quoting CBS here, "Energetic and disciplined, he's Frank Reich's most well-rounded companion". Eberflus runs a fairly creative defensive scheme that has allowed guys like Darius Leonard to thrive, focusing on getting elite athletes across the board. His defense is so fun, that in Week 3 they actually caught more touchdowns passes from Jets QB Sam Darnold than Darnold was able to throw to members of his own team.
Another defensive mind who should be under consideration is Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale. He's been there LB coach since 2012, and their coordinator since 2018 as the Ravens have continued to roll out good defensive units no matter who they have at hand. Martindale's defense is quite the opposite of Patricia's, they blitz like crazy and they mix up their coverage often.
If Detroit is willing to give a head coach a second chance (the results on this trend are pretty mixed btw), then Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier would probably be the most intriguing second chance candidate. Quoting SBN here, "His three-year stint as the Vikings' head coach saw him lead the team to the playoffs in 2012 followed by a sharp fall in 2013. But it's hard to blame him too much when he was choosing between Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel at quarterback". While Sean McDermott is a defensive-minded head coach in Buffalo already, he's credited Frazier with a major role in turning the Bills into one of the top defenses in the NFL.
Turning to offense, we have another Bills coordinator, Brian Daboll calling the shots on offense. Daboll was with the Patriots for a few years as their tight ends coach, before departing and finding success away from Belichick, winning a national title during his time as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2017, before coming to Buffalo and molded the raw potential of Josh Allen into the dominant player he has been this year.
Former Lions backup QB Kellen Moore, now the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys at only 32 years old figures to be a hot name soon. He's helped Dak Prescott continue to build his game, going from a steady game manager to a playmaker himself. Moore's a little young, but is one of the most prolific offensive minds in CFB.
Also in the rising star mold is Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, a former star QB himself. Leftwich has worked under Bruce Arians for a few years now, and helped create an offense that put up prolific numbers with Jameis Winston (and a lot of interceptions as well).
Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni has also gotten some hype from people in coaching circles, as he's helped the Colts manage the unexpected fallout of Andrew Luck's surprise retirement. If he can milk the remaining production out of Phillip Rivers, he'll be an intriguing candidate who has worked under a few quality head coaches already.
Another offensive coordinator that merits some consideration is Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. He played a major role in transitioning the Titans from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill, a move that helped propel them all the way to the AFC Championship game behind the effective duo of Derrick Henry's rushing ability and Tannehill's effectiveness off the play action pass,
Usually teams don't hire position coaches, but it's not entirely out of the blue, especially if that position coach does have interim head coaching experience like Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell. Campbell was Miami's interim head coach in 2015, going 5-7 after Joe Philbin was fired. Campbell also played TE for the Lions back in the second half of the 2000's, posting one of the better seasons a Lions tight end had at that point in 2006. He's considered an exceptional leader in the Saints organization.
The Panthers brought in college head coach Matt Rhule this past year, and if Detroit is looking to do something similar, the three names to watch would probably be OSU head coach Ryan Day, a former Chip Kelly protege who has somehow made the Buckeyes even more deadly and efficient than they were under Urban Meyer, Oklahoma heisman producehead coach Lincoln Riley, who is responsible for getting Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray drafted #1 overall, and lastly Florida head coach Dan Mullen, a former Urban Meyer protege who has had immense success at Mississippi State and now at Florida so far.
There's probably some other candidates I did not dive into. Though similar to Caserio and the GM tree, absolute pass on Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. No need to try that one a second time.
Personally, I like a lot of these candidates. There's plenty of diversity in schemes, backgrounds, leadership styles, etc. My favorite, however, is Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. The work he's done with Josh Allen is fantastic, as he's crafted an offense that fits Allen's style, and whether he'd want to keep Stafford or draft his replacement, I'd have the utmost faith that he'd mold that QB in similar fashion.

Current Personnel

For the current personnel, it'll be important to identify which players have a future in Detroit. Whether that's based on scheme fit, age, health, cap implication, etc. Taking a look at the roster, here's my best guess, outside of one position, which is detailed in a separate section below.
Running back is a good spot for Detroit, regardless of what happens to current starting RB Adrian Peterson. I like RB Kerryon Johnson, but I am absolutely against a sizeable contract extension. Personally, I don't think paying running backs anything more than like $5 mil per year is a good investment, regardless of what back it is. So, he's fine for another season under contract, but may end up parting ways after that. Drafting his replacement in RB D'Andre Swift was a wise move. I actually like the idea of taking good running backs (2nd-3rd round) every other season. That way you never have to pay them and always have fresh legs.
Wide receiver will require some effort this offseason. Quinn massively screwed us by not extending WR Kenny Golladay prior to the season. Only leaves more time for larger contracts to be signed. For example, his spotract market value went up from $16 mil per season to almost $19 mil per season because of additional deals being signed. And with a lowered cap, that's gonna be problematic. The Lions should have at least a WR3/4 in WR Quintez Cephus, and WR Geronimo Allison opted out, meaning Detroit retains his contract for 2021. They'll likely need to draft someone early and sign another veteran, maybe even bringing back Jones or Amendola for a 1-year deal.
Tight end is pretty straight forward. TE T.J. Hockenson was a top-10 selection, and is starting to look like a very good weapon for the offense going forward. His backup, TE Jesse James is also simple: his contract is too large to retain him if he continues his mediocre play. If he can more consistently play like he did against the Cardinals, they may keep him. If not, cut for cap space. Bryant and Nauta are sort of unknowns at this point.
The offensive line may be Detroit's best spot going forward. LT Taylor Decker has been earning that contract extension so far, looking very good at this point. C Frank Ragnow will need his own contract extension soon, but he's been performing as one of the best centers in the NFL, and should remain an integral part of the unit. G Jonah Jackson looks promising as well in his rookie campaign. Detroit will have LG Joe Dahl under contract for one more year, and has G Logan Stenberg developing behind him. The bigger question comes with RT Hal Vaitai and RT Tyrell Crosby. If Vaitai continues to play poorly, he'll be cut after 2021. Crosby could easily be replaced with a better player by that time as well, but for now serves a valuable role as a decent enough spot starter.
Defense is almost entirely dependent on who a new head coach would bring in to call the shots. Many of the players on Detroit's roster are scheme-specific to the old Patriot 3-4 scheme that Patricia loves to run. Let's just assume that, regardless of the new coach, it'll be a bit more diverse, modern scheme.
On the defensive line, DE Trey Flowers is pretty scheme versatile funny enough. He can play SDE in a 4-man front or iDE in a 3-man. His contract will also pretty much require the new coach to make it work with him. And who knows, Flowers has had the intentional misfortune of playing under no-blitz Patricia, so chances are a more aggressive scheme could give him some help in pass rushing. DE Julian Okwara is also pretty versatile. He could be a 4-3 WDE or a 3-4 OLB and was a good pass rusher at Notre Dame. His brother, DE Romeo Okwara is frankly just not very good. If Detroit goes to a 4-man front in a new coach, they'll definitely want a replacement for Romeo, who is serviceable depth, but not much more. DE Austin Bryant hasn't shown enough to warrant an opinion one way or the other.
Interior, DT Danny Shelton is probably not gonna fit in a new scheme. He's an inconsistent run defender who offers little in the pass rush department. DT Nick Williams is a bit more versatile, but the issue is that he's just not very good. His career is as a pretty bland back-end rotational piece. One good season in Chicago would appear to be an anomaly. Cutting either of these two (each set to make around $5 mil cap hits in 2021) would save a net $4 mil in much needed cap space. Behind them, DT Kevin Strong is relatively versatile, but not that good. He's still young and cheap, however, so could still find a role as depth. The big question will be DT Da'Shawn Hand, who has had an inconsistent, but promising career thus far. He can fill a pretty similar role to Flowers, perhaps even being able to play as a 3-tech DT in some schemes (cough, Dan Quinn defensive coordinator). He's a piece that could at least find a useful role under a new regime, but expect Shelton and Williams to be purged within 2 years.
Linebacker is where you can pretty much just get rid of everyone. LB Jamie Collins is clearly the best player in the group, but I still wouldn't bet he'd be a for sure keep for a new regime. He struggled outside the Patriots system, during his exile to Cleveland. I think he could find a role as a 3-4 OLB, rather than the 4-3 ILB/OLB hybrid, but it's still hard to peg him in other schemes. He'll be with Detroit regardless in 2021 because of his contract however. LB Jarrad Davis should just walk at this point. Detroit is better when he's not on the field. LB Christian Jones is similar to Collins, in that he's a poor fit for most schemes, but the difference is he's not nearly as good as Collins. Could probably just trade him to whatever team Matt Patricia ends up on.
The hardest part about a transition to a new scheme would be giving up on younger guys like LB Jahlani Tavai. He's shown some flashes, but really isn't much of a pass rusher and is too old school for modern schemes. Trading Tavai this offseason to a Patriots-style team (Giants, Miami, Patriots, etc.) would be best for both groups.
Now, two guys who could be interesting to bring back are LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin and LB Elijah Lee. Both are currently fish out of water, as they're not great scheme fits for Patricia's defense. They both are on expiring deals however. I'd probably like to see Reeves-Maybin brought back in a new regime, simply because the chance for him to actually find success would go up in a scheme that fits his strengths a bit better.
At cornerback, you have a pretty good foundation. CB Jeffrey Okudah and CB Amani Oruwariye are both pretty fluid athletes with the ability to thrive in multiple schemes. In fact, Oruwariye could potentially be even better in a Cover 3 scheme, should Detroit find someone who deploys that philosophy. Similarly, CB Justin Coleman is pretty versatile, especially out of the slot. He's excelled in the Seahawks Cover 3 scheme (which is honestly my recommendation for what kind of defense to run), but is still good in man coverage. Those three give Detroit a great start. CB Darryl Roberts is built more for Patricia's scheme, so probably won't be back, but I'd expect Detroit to find another veteran like him to fill out the two deep. CB Desmond Trufant is definitely a man coverage corner, and is also old and with a checkered injury history recently. We always knew Trufant was more of a veteran bridge to Okudah and Oruwariye taking over.
Safety is interesting. S Tracy Walker is a rising star and honestly can play any scheme. He's a baller. S Will Harris is not. Maybe a new scheme gets him sorted out, but at the same time, his biggest issue is that he can't cover in man and he can't tackle. Kind of hard to be a slot safety when you struggle with that. S Duron Harmon is a quality Cover 1 free safety, but he's on an expiring contract. Detroit will likely need to find a new starter there, as Harris isn't ideally suited to free safety, and S C.J. Moore is more of a special teams piece than a starting caliber player. We still need to see more from S Jayron Kearse looks like before making decisions there.
Special Teams will require some investment this offseason. Detroit's punting god, Jack Fox, is an ERFA, meaning Detroit can bring him back for pretty cheap. They may just want to reward him and sign him to a deal for a few seasons (though COVID cap implications may prevent that). Both K Matt Prater and LS Don Muhlbach are on expiring deals, so either new deals for them, or replacements. Lions backup LS Steven Wirtel has gotten some praise as a future NFL LS, so perhaps they hand the reins over to him, given that he'd cost half what Muhlbach would, and the Lions will need every penny this offseason.

Quarterback 2021 and Beyond

If there is a new regime change, then it's not out of the realm of possibility that they look into the prospect of finding Matthew Stafford's successor. Stafford will be 33-years old in 2021, and while QB's are still able to continue playing at a high level into their late 30's, for example, Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan and Brady and Brees have all put together quality seasons lately, despite their older age. However, 35 is traditionally the drop-off age, and for a QB who relies on arm talent, it is most definitely something to watch and consider.
I'll say this first and foremost, if Detroit ends up in a position to select QB Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson, you pull the trigger on that and sort things out later. The two options behind him are QB Justin Fields, a dual-threat option out of Ohio State, and QB Trey Lance, an athletic, efficient QB out of North Dakota State. Now, personally, I'm a bit skeptical of Trey Lance. I think NDSU sets everything up for him on a platter, and the more film you watch on Lance, the more I find he struggles on full-field reads. If you can isolate his playbook to a half-field read, then I think he crushes it, but the troubles outside of that, added into the large talent gap between NDSU and literally anyone else in the FCS, makes me hesitant. To me, Lance is a slightly higher upside version of Titans QB Ryan Tannehill. In that sense, I don't really think he'd be worth the investment if Detroit is selecting in the top-15.
Now, Justin Fields is growing on me, admittedly. Rewatched a handful of his OSU games and continue to find his ability to dissect coverage to be a lot more advanced than I recalled during the season. He has a big arm, and has one of the most coveted traits nowadays: the ability to make plays when the original structure breaks down. I think, at this point, I'd probably be sold on Fields, but not on Lance, though honestly, if they did hire a competent offensive mind like Bieniemy or Daboll, I wouldn't object to it, as I think anyone who can get such massive leaps out of Josh Allen could probably get the most out of Trey Lance as well.
The bigger issue I do have is whether or not Detroit should move on from Stafford at this point. A few things can all be true at the same time, and four things I'm going to mention all are true.
  1. Matthew Stafford is not playing as well as he was in the first half of 2020, and the issues don't exactly seem to be tied to any injury.
  2. Despite not playing as well as 2020, Stafford is still one of the better QB's in the league, ranking 11th in passing yards (1,017) and 7th in touchdown passes (8). That kind of production wins games with a better defense.
  3. Detroit would be marginally restricted in the ability to build a roster around a large QB cap hit like Stafford's.
  4. The issues holding Detroit back most (its defense) would not be solved with a new quarterback. There are plenty examples of promising young quarterbacks being broken because they were put in less than ideal situations....Sam Darnold in New York being just the latest example. Unless Detroit can build a competent defense, it will not actually matter who the quarterback is.
All that just to say, let's all chill out a bit when dealing with each other's takes on what to do at QB. We don't have to draft a new QB, that denies so many of the bigger issues. We also do not have to keep Matthew Stafford, that denies the reality that plenty of teams have found a new QB can elevate the play of the team, helping them go from good to great (see Chiefs moving Alex Smith for Mahomes), and that even with Stafford, Detroit remains mediocre.
Personally, I think it's better to build a good roster and then make the change at quarterback. Right now, I think Detroit is set-up well for its OL going forward, and probably will be decent at WRB with Golladay and Hockenson and Swift and Kerryon, but the defense will continue to lose us games, and I'd hate to waste the early years of a cheap rookie QB still trying to build the roster around him. And personally, I think every bit as good as Fields and Lance is USC QB Kedon Slovis as a potential QB to target in the 2022 draft class.

2021 Free Agency Complications

Now, truly, I have no clue what's going to happen with this, but Detroit, along with the rest of the league, is not going to be overflowing with cap space. Minimal fans in the stadium means no ticket revenue. Some doomsday predictions have the cap going down as far as $175 million. Realistically speaking, I wouldn't anticipate Detroit entering the offseason with anything more than $15-20 million in cap space. If you're trying to overhaul a new scheme with new personnel, that'll be kind of tough.
Detroit has a few pieces it can cut, however. Some have been mentioned....Jesse James, Danny Shelton, Nick Williams. All could open up a little bit of change (over $10 mil if all 3) which would be majorly beneficial. Another one who could go is CB Desmond Trufant, which would free up $6 million. QB Chase Daniel could easily have a restructured contract to open up in between $1-2 million. G Joe Dahl would save $3 million if he was cut, but I don't see that really happening, as Dahl's a good bargain for a quality enough starting G. Maybe if Logan Stenberg develops into a quality piece Dahl could be traded, but that seems unlikely.

2021 Free Agency Targets

To remake the team, I'm first going to identify a few veterans who could help accelerate a quick turnaround defensively. Assuming I've gotten my wish of Detroit Lions head coach Brian Daboll, then the offense wouldn't need much reconfiguration.
There would honestly be two players I'd want Daboll to bring with him from Buffalo. They are...
Bills G Jon Feliciano - a powerful run blocker, Feliciano could either compete with Dahl outright, or simply serve as the first back-up at guard...the new and improved Kenny Wiggins so to speak.
Bills LB Matt Milano - Detroit will need modern linebackers, and Milano would be an excellent one to start with. He can cover, get sideline to sideline, and make plays in the box. I think Buffalo ends up re-signing him however.
Now, I don't want to simply switch from the Patriots West to the Bills West. But I do generally believe that any new coach should try and bring 2 or 3 players who are familiar, if for nothing more than putting pieces in place that can help introduce the new system to the current roster.
Some others however.
Detroit will probably need another starting wide receiver in free agency, and while I would absolutely love to get Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins to Detroit, he'll probably be a bit out of the price range, given how many pieces Detroit could need on defense. Some of the more financially plausible options would likely be Jags WR Chris Conley, 49ers WR Kendrick Bourne, Rams WR Josh Reynolds, or maybe Bengals WR John Ross.
Similarly, I'd love to go after Bills TE Tyler Kroft as another piece to work with Hockenson, but he'd probably be too pricey, and I imagine Buffalo will retain him rather than let him hit the market. Jags TE Tyler Eifert, Titans TE MyCole Pruitt, or perhaps Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister would all make a bit more sense. This would be dependent on cutting Jesse James in search of an upgrade.
Detroit is set on starting OL, but could use a depth piece with Wiggins and Aboushi both on expiring deals. Chargers G Dan Feeney has starting experience, though most of the options here are pretty mediocre. Could actually argue that retaining Wiggins would be the wisest course of action.
Defensive Tackle will be a MAJOR spot to address, as Detroit currently doesn't have a quality group there, and scheme change could make it worse. There are some big names like Saints DT Sheldon Rankins or Michigan-native Raiders DT Johnathan Hankins, whom Detroit should've brought in awhile ago. Broncos DT Shelby Harris is a good interior pass rusher who can play multiple roles. I'm guessing Detroit doesn't pony up the money for Giants DT Dalvin Tomlinson but I wouldn't hate that.
Defensive end would be a need if Detroit went to a 4-man front, as you'd want an upgrade over Romeo Okwara. Assuming Detroit isn't going for the big names like Vikings DE Yannick Ngakoue or Titans DE Jadeveon Clowney, a more sensible option would a stopgap option like Washington EDGE Ryan Kerrigan, who can play really any edge spot well. Colts DE Denico Autry would be plenty of fun, and if the Lions hired someone like Matt Eberflus, I'd want them to for sure make that move. One of the more under-the-radar pieces that could be more fiscally responsible would be Saints DE Trey Hendrickson.
If they go more of a traditional 3-4, then adding an upgrade over Christian Jones would be the move there. Kerrigan would still fit that one well, but other options could be Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram. Perhaps a head coach Martindale would want to bring GVSU grade OLB Matt Judon to Detroit? Though both those options would be pricy. A cheaper option would Jets OLB Jordan Jenkins or maybe Rams OLB Samson Ebukam.
Off ball linebackers, we already mentioned Milano. Bucs LB Kendall Beckwith would make some sense, as would Saints LB Alex Anzalone or Chiefs LB Damien Wilson. None of these guys would be stars, but most teams hang onto good LB's who can play off ball and cover backs, so you're probably looking for a veteran stopgap to hold over until you can draft a guy.

2021 NFL Draft

We're getting deep into this. Depending on where Detroit is drafting and who they pulled in with free agency, these would be the guys I'd be most interested in acquiring.
DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State - Like I said, Detroit needs to be a lot better at DT, and Wilson is a monster.
DE Aidan Hutchinson/Kwity Paye, Michigan - If one of these two could slip to you in the second round, that'd be great. Both very good edge rushers. Would love to grab Carlos Basham out of Wake Forest if Detroit is mid first. I also like Quincy Roche as an OLB in a 3-4.
A starting caliber WR. If they miss out on Ja'Marr Chase, then one of the Alabama wide outs (Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith) would suffice just fine. I mentioned the other day that Waddle is my current preferred choice for the draft at this point. Gophers WR Rashod Bateman could also be a fun addition. If they need to hunt for a starting wide out in the 3rd or 4th, Michigan's Nico Collins is an excellent deep threat, not too far from the mold of Golladay and Jones. OSU WR Chris Olave would be a clean replacement for Amendola in the slot.
I think Detroit could use a free safety like Trevon Moehrig or Andre Cisco to either immediately start, or develop behind a veteran. Moehrig may end up as a late first round option, but Cisco could be a day 2 pick that pays off immediately.
G Wyatt Davis may not stick out as a clear need, but y'all know I am an OL coach, and I think this kid is the best G prospect since Quentin Nelson, so I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger, trade Joe Dahl for a pick, and call it a day. If C/G Josh Myers dropped to the second, I'd also be a very big fan of that move as well. I'm guessing most wouldn't like that, as OL is a relative strength to other spots on the roster, and that's understandable, but if we're truly talking best player available mentality, then Davis has to be considered right after guys like Micah Parsons, Ja'Marr Chase, and Lawrence.
As far as linebackers go, either LSU's Jabrill Cox or LB Chazz Surratt out of North Carolina could be guys who can slide into starting roles quickly. Same goes for Micah Parsons but unless Detroit's drafting top-5, they don't get him.
Few others who have appeal right now as later round prospects...TE Matt Bushman (BYU), WR Dazz Newsome (UNC), LB Dmitri Moore (Vanderbilt), CB Camryn Bynum (Cal), WR Tutu Atwell (Louisville), LB Ventrell Miller (Florida), S Reed Blankenship (MTSU), and LB Rayshard Ashby (VaTech).

Overall, a lot of different ways to go, but this would be my proposal at least. Bring in Brian Daboll, get him a veteran defensive coordinator, and then go about building a modern defense. See what you can get out of Matt Stafford, and prepare for a transition down the road if needed at that point.
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2020 Offseason Review: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Division: NFC South (7-9 2nd in the Division)
Head Coach: Bruce Arians
Offensive Coordinator: Byron Leftwich
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Bowles

Intro: Let me Get Something off my Chest

A couple of months ago, I wrote the Buccaneers 32 Teams/32 Days Post. Looking back a it, I’m sticking to my guns on most of my analysis. There’s just…one….little….thing….we need to talk about. Regarding Jameis’s pending free agent status, I said:
There's also the question of QB. Jameis is also a UFA and I'd say there's a...40% chance we re-sign him. So who replaces him, and would an aging veteran QB like Brady or Rivers really be a marked improvement?
[Sneezes in Boston accent]
The answer is yes, Fencing Coach, you fawkin dumbass!
Did you really think that Jameis Winston was a bettah option than Tawm Fawkin’ Brady 6-time supah bowl champion and enemy of Rawjuh Fawkin’ Goodell? You were fawkin’ wrong!
Admit to the good people of Aw/NFL that you wuh just another paht of the fake news media that tried to say Tawm Bwady deflated the footballs and that Bill Belichick used the video cameras for the SpyGates!
And who would have evah guessed that we’d end up with Gronk! What a yeeyah! What an offseason you fawkin’ pessimist! We got the GOAT! Get ya Covid immunity TB12 pills and shove ‘em up yuh asshole!
[Snaps out of it]
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get serious for a moment. This is the final Hail Mary of the underwhelming Jason Licht era, and aggressive moves were made this offseason, because the excuses have finally run out.
Since taking over the team in 2014, Jason Licht is on his third head coach (to be fair, Lovie Smith was not his choice) and only has a 34-62 (.35) record to show for, 0 playoff appearances, and only one winning season.
Meanwhile, a select list of his GM peers hired since include:
Big moves were made this offseason at the Quarterback position, bringing in a certain 6th round pick out of Michigan to compete with the ethereal and legendary Blaine Gabbert. Jameis was shown the door. And the result is about a case of beer’s worth of cap space and little depth across the roster. Buckle your Bucs, this is going to be a helluvah ride.

Top Offseason Stories

The Tompa Bay Gronkeneers: The biggest news of the offseason was giving Tom Brady a 2 yeaar, $50M contract (fully guaranteed). I won’t be blind to the fact that Tom Brady is 43 years old and clearly on the decline. But Tom Brady on the decline doesn’t have to carry the team on his back when he has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and Oterius Jabari Howard to throw to. Not to mention, people will be sleeping on the Buccaneer defense. They shouldn’t be (more on that later).
Had Jameis Winston cut his 2019 turnovers in half, the Buccaneers would have been a playoff team and he would have been in the MVP discussion. Of course, if my mother had wheels, she’d be a bicycle. The real value of the Brady deal will be in his accuracy and more conservative approach to quarterbacking. Let’s exclude Tom Brady’s rookie year and his 2008 season cut short by injury, and Tom Brady has averaged ~10 interceptions. In five seasons, Jameis averaged ~18 interceptions per season (and dozens more fumbles).
Numbers aside, Brady’s value will come in the swagger he brings to the locker room. The 2019 Bruce Arians signing brought in a coach with a track record of winning. Brady’s window is obviously short…very short. But the ride should be fun while it lasts.
Then of course, there’s Rob Gronkowski, one of football’s most beloved meatheads. One year post retirement, Gronk put the cleats back on and chose to follow Brady to Tampa (in exchange for a 4th and the Patriots’ 7th round pick). With OJ Howard and Cameron Brate already on the roster, the Gronkowski trade was a luxury move, but will give Brady his favorite all-time target in an offense largely unfamiliar to him.
Jason Licht’s approach of building from the outside-in has often worked to his detriment for a team that has always excelled at receiving skill position players…but little else. The Tompa Bay Gronkeneers will be fun to watch. Let’s hope Brady can capture lightning in a bottle.
The Jameis Winston Cult of Personality Ends: When Jameis Winston first entered the league, I declared that his ceiling was Brett Favre and his floor was Jay Cutler. Five seasons in and I feel like he got a quarter of the way past Cutler. So how will I remember Jameis? For those of you who were old enough to watch the Jerry Springer show and see a big reveal that Cletus’s wife was cheating on him with the next door neighbor, it sure was entertaining for everyone watching, except for Cletus himself. For five years, Bucs fans were Cletus. Fans of the NFL marveled at his “eating W’s” meme while many of us cringed in embarrassment. You saw 5,000 yards and 30 TD’s. We saw 30 INT’s and 6 more fumbles.
The worst part of the Jameis Winston era wasn’t the embarrassment on-field, but the divisiveness he generated off the field. Post-game discussion threads on Buccaneers were riddled with personal attacks should anyone have dared mentioned that perhaps we would have won the football game had he not thrown 18,000 picks. But the worst of all? The discussion that came from his third sexual assault allegation (no, this is not a typo. People forget there were two allegations at FSU). Three allegations were not enough to keep a large contingency of the fan base from defending him, justifying his actions, and of course the classic Redditor “she was just in it for the money” trope.
Jameis Winston signed with the Saints this offseason, becoming a division rival’s embarrassment. I still believe he has an on-field future in the league. Perhaps, for now, the comments section will allow for smoother sailing. Perhaps not.

2020 Outlook

Hard to believe that I’m now in Year 6 of writing these offseason reviews for Tampa, and outside of 2017 where I was wildly off on predicting our record, I’ve managed to fall within one victory/loss in each of the other four. The past two seasons, I’ve predicted our exact record. While Covid delays could impact the 2020 season itself, I predict the Tom Brady Bucs will go 10-6, win the wild card, and lose in the Divisional round.
Year My Prediction Actual
2015 7-9 6-10
2016 10-6 9-7
2017 10-6 5-11
2018 5-11 5-11
2019 7-9 7-9
2020 10-6 ???

Things I Like About the Bucs in 2020

Things That Scare me About the Bucs in 2020:

2020 Draft Analysis

Round/Pick Player Analysis
Round 1, #13 Overall Tristan Wirfs (RT – Iowa) Admittedly, I always struggle with evaluating OL positions. I thought Chance Warmack, Robert Gallery, and Jason Smith were generational talents. They were far from that. So take what I have to say with a grain of salt, and listen to people like Barian_Fostate who did an excellent breakdown of Wirfs and Jedrick Wills, with the evaluation noting some glaring flaws in Wirfs’ footwork and hand technique. There’s no denying that Wirfs’ athletic ability is deity level batshit. At 6’5, 320 pounds, he ran a 4.86 forty at the Combine, had a 36.5” vertical, and a 10’1 broad jump. Not to mention, the kid can straight up jump out of a pool and casually hang clean 500 pounds. I wanted to watch how Wirfs performed against some of his incoming peers in the NFL, so I watched his matchup against Pedophilia State University to see how he’d fare against Yetur Gross-Matos, 2nd round pick of the Panthers and future division opponent. The results were…underwhelming. YGM brought constant pressure throughout the game, and seemed to have Wirfs beat from his first step onward, but in the same game, his ability in the run game was eye opening (Example). But then you had cases of sheer lack of awareness on blitzes and also stunts that showed deep areas of weakness for Wirfs. One way or another, this was a necessary pick, and even if he doesn’t pan out at RT, Wirfs’ athleticism and gifted abilities in the run game will make him a long-term key part of the Bucs and a potential Guard candidate.
Round 2, #45 Overall Antoine Winfield Jr. (S – Minnesota) Antoine Winfield Jr.’s entrance into the league was a “you’re an old man” moment for us Redditors in our 30’s who grew up watching his “Hall of Very Good” father. This was a pretty pick. While Winfield is of course a safety, the very first thing that stood out to me watching his tape was his pass rush ability. Yes, his pass rush ability. The first couple of clips I put on of Winfield had him perfectly timing a snap from the box and immediately in the backfield by the time the QB had the ball in his hands. The second thing that stood out was his nose for the ball, particularly in clutch situations. As Joe Theismann simply stated: “big players make big plays,” and that couldn’t have been more true of Winfield, who had big time game saving interceptions against both Fresno State and Penn State. Winfield was my favorite pick of the Buccaneers draft class, and what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed and an excellent nose for the ball. Keep an eye out for this one.
Round 3, #76 Overall Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB – Vanderbilt) Ke’Shawn Vaughn was one of the harder players to scout from this Buccaneer class, simply because it looked like he would have been better off with an offensive line of obese, beefy toddlers than whatever Vanderbilt rolled out for him. Nearly every snap I viewed of him, he rarely had a clean hole and was hit in the backfield the moment he touched the ball. Like, seriously, what is this? Vaughn’s biggest strengths to me showed up on tape with designed outside runs. Between the tackles, he showed little elusiveness, and a similar issue I saw with former Buccaneer pick Jeremy McNichol is that Vaughn tended to make multiple cuts before turning upfield. Not a good thing. Unlike a glaring weakness I saw in McNichols’ complete inability to block, it’s an area where Vaughn succeeded with flying colors. This, along with his adequate pass catching abilities (28 receptions for 270 yards in 2019) will make him a valuable 3rd down back in the beginning of his career (assuming RoJo is anointed the feature back). There are some traits in a RB that can’t be coached, like vision. There are other things like running upright with high pad level, a weakness I frequently saw with Vaughn that can be taught. Vaughn crosses me as a valuable utility player who may get looks as a feature back should RoJo continue to struggle. The value was there with his 3rd round selection, but expectations for his upside should be kept in check.
Round 5, #161 Overall Tyler Johnson (WR – Minnesota) A lot of the Buccaneers crew is pretty high on the Tyler Johnson pick. Pro Football Focus (PFF) had him top 50 on their big board and a Round 2 grade. I just don’t see it. Not at all, in fact. For a guy who stands at a mere 6’1 and is expected to play slot receiver, his speed and separation stand out as glaring weaknesses on tape. What I do like however, is his footwork coming off the line. Most of the time he’d beat his receivers within the first 5-7 yards off the line, but when it came to the deep ball I didn’t see a lot of “wow” factor. Tyler Johnson, I think, will be a reserve WR, which is exactly what you want from a 5th round pick. But I don’t see him as the massive steal many other fans did.
Round 6, #194 Overall Khalil Davis (DT – Nebraska) Played alongside his twin brother Carlos at Nebraska (who went one round later to the Steelers). I watched Davis’s game against Wisconsin and he looked to me like he’d fit best as a backup 5-tech. Not particularly explosive with a slow first step, and there were numerous occasions when he did penetrate the backfield but had terrible angles on the RB. Mind you, he was playing against Jonathan Taylor and a stalwart OL, but you want to see flashes of brilliance, even against good competition. Did not see anything that made me say: “this guy’s going to make our final roster.”
Round 7, #241 Overall Chapelle Russell (LB – Temple) I was able to find little tape of Russell, but one area where I do trust Jason Licht is in his ability to scout LB’s. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Russell. I don’t.
Round 7, #245 Overall Raymond Calais (RB – Louisiana Lafayette) Calais’s best shot to make the roster will likely be as a return man, where he excelled at Louisiana Lafayette. Based on the limited tape I saw of him, I saw flashes of Felix Jones for his ability to get big gains off of draw plays in the shotgun. Obviously a longshot to make the roster.

Schedule Predictions

Week Opponent Prediction Analysis
Week 1 @Saints 27-24 Bucs (1-0) Bucs pass rush finds a way to get to Brees. Fun fact: this will be the oldest matchup of QB’s ever in NFL history…until the Bucs play the Saints again in week 9.
Week 2 Panthers 34-20 Bucs (2-0) Panthers are no doubt in rebuild mode right now. In the past two matchups, Bucs run game has managed to stifle Christian McAffrey. Keep an eye on rookie Yetur Gross-Matos. I think he’ll have a more immediate impact than even 1st round pick Derrick Brown.
Week 3 @Broncos 37-28 Bucs (3-0) Always a challenge to play at Mile High on the road, but I think the Bucs defense will manage to shut down a young and budding Broncos offense. On a Broncos note, I’ll never understand Jeudy being the 2nd WR off the board (let alone the 2nd Bama receiver taken). Best route runner I’ve seen enter the league since OBJ.
Week 4 Chargers 28-21 Chargers (3-1) No, I’m not too high on Justin Herbert, but when the Bucs play a rookie QB, I’m usually prone to pick the other team. For some reason, no matter the Head Coach and/or defensive coordinator, the Bucs crumple into fetal position against rookies.
Week 5 @Bears 31-13 Bucs (4-1) If Foles’ performance against the Bucs last year is any indication, they have his number. Pray that Mitch Trubisky doesn’t start. In his last outing against Tampa, he threw 6 TD’s. He did that as a rookie, mind you. Remember what I said about Bucs against rookie QB’s?
Week 6 Packers 28-24 Packers (4-2) Rumors of Aaron Rodgers’ demise are greatly exaggerated. It’s a team that’s just complete enough on both sides of the ball that I find it surprising so many are writing them off.
Week 7 @Raiders 34-31 Bucs (5-2) Here’s another team that is starting to form well under the cracker Mike Mayock. Raiders will be as good as Carr is in Gruden’s offense, and while he improved somewhat in Chucky’s offense by the end of year 2, this is a team at the tipping point between playoffs and an outright QB replacement.
Week 8 @Giants 37-17 Bucs (6-2) Though rookie Daniel Jones (sense a trend here?) shredded the Bucs with gusto last year, Bucs run defense should be able to neutralize Saquon, and despite a good rookie showing, I don’t have much faith in the long term prospects of Daniel Jones.
Week 9 Saints 20-17 Saints (6-3) Can usually count on the Saints and Bucs to split the division series. And once again, the oldest QB matchup ever. Put on some episodes of MASH. Get your Bingo cards ready. It’s geriatric QB time.
Week 10 @Panthers 41-21 Bucs (7-3) Will there be a season by this point? I don’t know. But I still like the Bucs to sweep the series with the Panthers this season.
Week 11 LA Rams 24-17 Rams (7-4) Rams offense is all of a sudden looking less like the powerhouse it was from a few years ago, but their defense is still nasty. Aaron Donald will make any QB poop their pants, including Tom Brady. This will be a violent defensive battle and I think the Rams will take the edge.
Week 12 Chiefs 37-27 Chiefs (7-5) For years on NFL going back to his time at Texas Tech, I told you all to get on board the Mahomes canoe. Love seeing him already building his Madden legacy. I’m just not going to bet against him right now.
Week 13 Bye N/A I have no way of confirming this, but I’m fairly certain during the bye week Bruce Arians clears out his office and runs an illegal cockfighting ring with his assistant coaches. You can’t convince me I’m wrong.
Week 14 Vikings 31-28 Bucs (8-5) Vikings remain a balanced team on offense and defense and the Zim Zamm still can’t be flim flammed. Close game here that will be a defensive battle with a few big time plays on offense sprinkled in.
Week 15 Falcons 34-27 Falcons (8-6) I’m glad to see Raheem Morris back in a DC position after seeing him work his way back up the coaching ranks. Always one of my favorite Buccaneer coaches despite his (many) flaws. I pick the Falcons in our first matchup because of one man and only one man: Julio Jones. Jones has now played a full 16 games in his career against Tampa, coming up with a staggering 116 catches for 1,841 yards and 11 TD’s. That’s cruelty.
Week 16 Lions 41-14 Bucs (9-6) I have a feeling by this point in the season, Fat Patricia will be one of the first Head Coaches fired and the Lions will be staffed by Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell. The Bucs will be playing a team with a wounded ego ready to be put down like Old Yeller.
Week 17 Falcons 28-3 Bucs (10-6) Bucs fight hard to squeak into the playoffs, their first appearance since 2007.
Final Projection: Bucs win wild card, lose in the Divisional Round

Projected Starting Lineup & Analysis: Offense

QB- Tom Brady: See above analysis. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 4,438 yards, 67.1% completion percentage, 33 TD’s, 13 INT’s
WR1 – Mike Evans: At only 26 years old, Mike Evans already sits at 128th all-time on the career receiving yards list, and has a chance to pass [checks notes] Michael Crabtree on the all-time list this season. In every season in the league, Evans has surpassed 1,000 yards and has become a hallmark of consistency, even with the suspect supporting cast around him. Having an accurate QB for the first time in his career will be a huge benefits to Evans. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 70 receptions, 1,213 yards, 6 TD’s
WR2 – Chris Godwin: Godwin had a brilliant breakout last season, earning 2nd Team All-Pro honors (that probably would have been 1st team had his season not been cut short by injury). While Evans might be the bigger threat, Godwin is among the most complete receivers in the league. A fantastic route runner with sure hands—and perhaps his most overlooked quality is his blocking. Find me a WR who does it better right now. You won’t. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 77 receptions, 1,387 yards, 7 TD’s
RB – Ronald Jones: RB is one of the few positions where fans can reasonably expect instant production from a player when he transitions from the college ranks to the pros. As a rookie, RoJo was a mega dud who could barely find the field in the Koetter era. He took a huge step forward in year 2 (724 yards, 4.2 ypc) but still often disappeared in games and lacked the pass protection skills that are so necessary in Arians’ offense. RoJo will have Vaughn to take off some of his workload, but I still see RoJo as one of the weakest links on an otherwise complete offense. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 808 Rushing yards (4.2 YPC), 5 TD’s
TE – Rob Gronkowski: See above analysis. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 41 receptions, 614 yards, 6 TD’s
LT – Donovan Smith: Donovan Smith provides as much protection as Jeffrey Epstein’s guards when he was on suicide watch. While Tom Brady tends to release the ball far faster than Winston, the Arians offense designed for Brady better be getting the ball out fast. 43 year old QB’s aren’t meant to take the kinds of hits Winston did. Let’s hope that Tristan Wirfs is able to prove himself a viable option on the left side. We’ll be able to get out of Donovan Smith’s contract after this season with no cap ramifications. On a side note, there’s a decent change Donovan Smith will opt out of his contract due to Covid concerns. And I wouldn’t blame him one bit.
LG – Ali Marpet: Marpet continues to be the most reliable piece of our OL. Like Lavonte, a continually unheralded player who you can rely on to go toe-to-toe with the league’s best interior DL while manhandling the dregs of the NFL. I thought last season would be Marpet’s shot at a 2nd Team All-Pro, but he was passed over once again. Love Marpet.
C – Ryan Jensen: Jensen’s first year with the team was free agent bust material. He seemed to thrive more in the Arians offense and we saw marked improvement in all facets of his game last year. Overpaid for his value? Definitely. Living up more and more to the contract we gave him? Yup.
RG – Alex Cappa: When Jason Licht rolled the dice on small school Humboldt State product Alex Cappa, he may have been expecting the next Ali Marpet. In his first full season as a starter, there were things to be encouraged by and I’m a little more bullish on Cappa than most of the fan base. Though he allowed 31 pressures on 562 pass snaps (roughly 6% pressure rate), I saw Cappa’s confidence growing as the season went on. His third season will tell us what his true ceiling in this league is. Right now, his floor isn’t Garrett Gilkey, but his ceiling ain’t Earl Grey.
RT – Tristan Wirfs: See above analysis.

Projected Starting Lineup & Analysis: Defense

EDGE – Sack Ferret: The Sack Ferret was brought on a 1 year, $4 million deal last season. I predicted he’d be a 5.5 sack guy and then probably hit free agency again. Just like we all expected, he went off and led the league in sacks with 19.5 (more than his previous five years in the league combined) and earned himself the franchise tag. Barrett has quickly become a fan favorite, and while I don’t see him replicating his majestic 2019 season, I still think he’ll be the same terror he’s been off the edge. Probably wrong projected stats: 12.5 sacks.
0-Tech - Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea: Running on the Buccaneers in 2019 was damn near impossible, so much so that the team only allowed 73.8 rushing yards per game. That success started up front with Vita Vea, who has quickly emerged as the league’s top 0-tech. Unfortunately, like his forefathers in Vince Wilfork and Casey Hampton, he’s likely to spend his career as a valuable defensive cog who receives few to no career accolades due to the “unsexiness” of being a two-gap space eating defender. So NFL, here’s a homework assignment for you. Watch Vea on All-22 if you have some time while on Covid lockdown. You will see one of the most absurdly athletic big men in the league who is your definition of immovable object. His progress last year was a joy to watch and he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite players. Oh, and he’s the best TE on the Bucs. By far. Probably wrong projected stats: 2.5 sacks, 2 receiving TD’s.
5-Tech – Ndamukong Suh: We brought Suh back on another 1 year deal. No, he’s not the player he once was (he’s even refrained from curbstomping genitals in Tampa…so far), but his attitude he sets on the field has been a welcome change compared to the namby-pamby milquetoasts on our DL from the past. Suh’s value will come mostly in the run game. His sack producing days are long gone. Probably wrong projected stats: 3.5 sacks.
EDGE – Jason Pierre-Paul: It’s [checks notes] August, and Jason Pierre-Paul hasn’t had an offseason accident. Praise the football Gods. Despite starting in only 8 games last year due to a serious auto accident, JPP managed 8.5 sacks. At 31, father time hasn’t quite caught up with him yet. Probably wrong projected stats: 9.5 sacks.
ILB – Lavonte David: The good part of Lavonte David bouncing inside last season to Will is that he no longer got grouped in the same bucket as sack-producing 3-4 OLB’s who beat him out for All-Pro nods nearly every year. Even at 30, Lavonte only seems to be getting better, and his instincts and smarts continue to essential to the defense. Though Lavonte is one half of the Mike tandem and has been one of the league’s best LB’s’ for all of 8 seasons, I don’t think he’s going to be the centerpiece stud. Keep Devin White’s name at the forefront of your mind, which leads me to... Probably wrong projected stats: 3.5 sacks, 3 INT’s
ILB – Devin “Get Live 45” White: If you’ve read any of my posts here for the last 5+ years, you would see I don’t take a blind homer approach with player evaluation. Not once have I predicted a Buccaneer would win the MVP award, nor have I predicted a Buccaneer would win DPOY. In fact, only once have I ever predicted we’d be a playoff team. Now that preamble is done, let me say it outright: Devin White is going to win Defensive Player of the Year in Year 2. What? Mikes never win, you say. And you’d be mostly correct. In fact, Vegas odds don’t even have Devin White listed in their top 10. Here’s what I saw from Devin White in the last half of his rookie season: an absolutely insane nose for forcing the fumble, excellent pass rush abilities, and smarts that put him in the backfield often before the RB even had the ball in his hands. I saw enough from him to believe his leap in year 2 is going to be similar to that of Luke Kuechly’s where he won DPOY in his second year in the league. Wherever the ball is, Devin White will be there. You’re going to see one of the league’s dominant defensive enforcers for a long, long time. Probably wrong projected stats: 6.0 sacks, 5 INT’s, 6 FF’s.
FS – Antoine Winfield Jr.: See above analysis. I think we’re also going to see Justin Evans get cut Probably wrong projected stats: 2.0 sacks, 2 INT’s
SS – Jordan Whitehead: Jordan White is the most underrated player on the Buccaneers defense, in my eyes. No, not Lavonte, because people talk about how underrated he is all the time to the point he’s not so underrated anymore. Whitehead’s mistakes went down drastically last year and he has a knack for being where the football is. Really like him and could see some big plays from him this season. Probably wrong projected stats: 1.0 sacks, 3 INT’s
CB – Carlton Davis: Bruce Arians doesn’t give empty praise, but he recently called Carlton Davis a top ten CB in the league, an assessment I’m inclined to agree with. He was battle tested big time in year 2, getting targeted 105 times and only allowing 52.4% of those balls thrown his way to be completed. He was able to shadow the best, and his 18 pass breakups are indicative of a guy with great awareness. And the funny thing is, he’s not even the CB I’m highest on with this roster. Probably wrong projected stats: 4 INT’s
CB – Jamel Dean: For a guy who came in as a 3rd round rookie, Dean exceeded expectations and then some. His first game as a starter came against the Seahawks, there’s no sugarcoating it—he got owned. But what I saw was a guy who stayed stride for stride with his receiver with little help over the top. By the end of his rookie season, he was looking like a shutdown corner. This is the CB I’m most excited for in 2020. Kid’s got a bright future. Probably wrong projected stats: 3 INT’s
CB – Sean Murphy-Bunting: When I’m wrong, I admit I’m helluh wrong, and with Murphy-Bunting, I was helluh wrong. Yes, it’s been only one season and things could still go south, but I was baffled when we passed on Greedy Williams in favor of SMB.

Non-Buccaneer Predictions for the Season

  1. My 2018 breakout player prediction was Patrick Mahomes. Last year, it was Joshua Jacobs and Corey Davis (oops). This year, you need to watch J.K. Dobbins (rookie, Baltimore), N’Keal Harry (2nd year, NE). Perhaps not a true breakout, but I think Calvin Ridley will surpass 1,000 yards and become an even bigger complement to Julio Jones.
  2. MVP will go to Russ Wilson. DPOY will go to Devin White (and if you’ve been reading these posts long enough you know I don’t usually go the homer approach). OPOY will go to Patrick Mahomes. COTY will go to Cliff Kingsbury.
  3. The NFC Championship will be played between the 49ers and the Cowboys. The Cowboys will win. The AFC Championship will be played between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. The Chiefs will win. The Chiefs will repeat in the Super Bowl, defeating the Cowboys.
  4. Last year I wrote: “Sam Darnold isn’t going to amount to much as an NFL QB. Not this year, and probably not ever.” I’ll repeat it this year too. But let me add one guy to that list: Tua Tagovailoa.
  5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire isn’t the superstar you think he is. I think his career will wind up like Joseph Addai’s: a guy who had a few flash in the pan seasons but never among the top backs. That’s not a bad thing, I would just cool expectations on him.
  6. The teams with the highest potential to land a top 5 pick, in no particular order: Lions, Jaguars, the Washington Football team (I feel like an idiot even typing that), Bears, Jets. Dark Horse: Eagles.
  7. Coaches who have the hottest seats: Fat Patricia, Dan Quinn, Adam Gase, Doug Marrone, Bill O’Brien (as coach and GM).

Shoutouts

Shoutouts to my fellow mods on Buccaneers and NFL. It's a pleasure working with you all every day and shooting the shit with dank memes. And of course, much love to platypusofdeath who puts an insane amount of work into this series every year. Thank you for all you do.
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