Bridgewater or Clowney? The race for No.1.

There has been a breakaway in the NFL, but not the positive kind. The Browns and Jaguars have fallen far behind the rest of the teams and are painful to watch. Both are 0-2, and are projected to pick in the 1-2 spots of the 2014 draft. The Browns recently traded away their best offensive player in Trent Richardson, and the Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew is injured. There are major issues on both sides of the ball for both teams, but only one should take a quarterback.

Teddy Bridgewater makes sense for the Jags, but not the Browns. The Jaguars have a pair of quality receivers in Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, as well as a great pass-catching running back in Maurice Jones Drew. Bridgewater will have quality receivers to throw to and will have to put up big numbers as a rookie to keep the Jaguars in the game because the defense is just awful. There’s a lot of pressure on Bridgewater, as he is the most highly touted QB prospect since Andrew Luck. Clowney would help Jacksonville, but Bridgewater would help them more, and would turn them into contenders quicker.

Clowney would be a much better fit for the Browns. Cleveland is a place where QB’s go to die, as they have not had a single sucessful quarterback since their return to the league in 1999. Bridgewater would have absolutely no offensive weapons to help him out, and it’s obvious the QB coaching is awful. Clowney would help create a pass rush that the Browns haven’t had since, well, ever. Combined with Joe Haden in the secondary, the Browns defense could go from a laughingstock to a force to be reckoned with. Plug in veteran Jason Campbell to the starting QB position-he led the Raiders to their only non-losing season in the past 10 years-and let the season play out in 2014. Acquire more offensive pieces before you take a swing at a quarterback in the first round again. It’s never worked before for them to put a young QB in the mess of an offensive that has existed for the Browns since 1999. Eventually, the Browns will be contenders, but not for a while. Clowney starts that rebuilding process.

Teddy Bridgewater will help the Jaguars back into conetntion by 2015 or 2016. The Browns are out of the picture for the forseeable future, but at least they are all-in on rebuilding, acquiring another first round pick for 2014. The Jaguars and Browns will have their day, but it may be a ways away.

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Week One Analysis

After a long layoff, the NFL finally returned last Sunday. Here’s my thoughts.

I’ve already had to eat my words on the breakout player of the year. Gabbert was awful, and he lacerated his hand. He’s already been replaced by Chad Henne due to injury, but if Henne is at least mediocre, he could win the starting job. After a pathetic showing against, the Chiefs, the Jaguars look to be the doormats of the NFL. It’s going to be a long season in Jacksonville, with only the hope of Teddy Bridgewater or Jadeveon Clowney in next year’s draft keeping Jaguar’s fans sane.

The Raiders might not be as bad as we all thought. Terrelle Pryor has sparked the offense somewhat in a close loss to the Colts, a playoff team a year ago. Pryor has a tremendous work ethic and refuses to be the next JaMarcus Russel. Still, the team is too short on talent to make the playoffs or a major impact in the AFC West. However, with wise drafting and smart transactions (not exactly something the Raiders are known for), they could build a team around Pryor and contend in a few years.

Early favorites for the Superbowl, the Niners and the Broncos, both impressed. The Broncos cruised to victory over the defending champions behind the arm of Peyton Manning. The Niners beat a very good Packers team after a flawless performance by Colin Kaepernick and a stellar game from offseason acquistiton Anquan Boldin.

The Chiefs look to be an improving team. The offense has a few quality playmakers and is shaping up nicely. The defense shut out Jacksonville, which wasn’t exactly a challenge, but they need to continue to improve if they want to make the playoffs in the next few years.

The Steelers look like the 3rd worst team in the NFL in terms of talent. The backfield is a mess, and Ben Rothliesberger had no one to throw to. An injury to Big Ben could plummet them to a 2-14 team. The Steelers are just 2 years removed from a Super Bowl appearance but appear to be on the decline, rapidly.

The Eagles new fast paced, college oriented offense looks to gel with the talent on the team. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson are all elite speedsters. The defense faltered late against the Redskins and almost blew a 26 point lead. That will need to improve if they want to come out on top in the NFC East. Chip Kelly is playing to the team strengths, and Philedalphia is hoping to ride that to 9 wins and a playoff berth.

The complete lack of a run game emerged as a major flaw for the New York Giants. One of Eli Manning’s interceptions ended up being a pick 6 and the difference maker in the game. That pass bounced off Da’Rel Scott’s hands and straight up into the air, an easy interception for the Dallas cornerback. Eli will once again have to carry this team. The defense looked shaky as Tony Romo threaded the needed smoothly through the secondary without much trouble. The pass defense will need to improve. The starting tailback, speedster David Wilson, had a horrific game. He needs to call up Tiki Barber and learn how to not cough up the ball. This Giants team is walking on thin ice. The passing game is the only consistent part of the team.

The Buccaneers are loaded with talent, but can’t seem to capatalize. Josh Freeman’s days under center are numbered. He consistently fails to produce, even with a plethora of offensive weapons. The Buccaneers have huge upside and a shutdown secondary, but need more consistency from the quarterback position to win games. They threw away a week one game to the Jets due to poor discipline. Still, it’s hard not to like a team loaded with weapons such as Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Darrelle Revis, and Dashon Goldson. Freeman is 1 for 5 for sucessful years in the NFL. He is the critical piece, the missing element in this team. If he picks up his play, this team has the talent to go places.

Geno Smith has looked solid in his NFL action so far. He hasn’t been anything special, but Jets fans will take a W any way they can get it. Just remember, Mark Sanchez took the Jets to 2 straight AFC championship games before falling off. Hopefully Smith can connect with his offensive weapons in Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller.

The Texans looked scary in their comeback win over the chargers. The team has a Hall of Fame wide receiver in Andre Johnson and tons of other options in a loaded offense. The defense will strengthen with the return of Brian Cushing and the addition of Ed Reed. The Texans could be dark horse candidates for the Super Bowl

Week 2 is almost here!

2013 Season Predictions

Here are some of my predictions for the upcoming NFL Season:

NFL MVP: Many are considering dual threat QB Colin Kaepernick for the Super Bowl favorite 49ers as the general consensus for the MVP, but I think it will go to another player. Broncos QB Peyton Manning will look to add to his trophy case a 5th MVP award in his sencond year in Denver. Surrounded by quality receivers such as Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and Wes Welker, Manning has many viable receiving options. He put up stellar numbers last year despite having a weakened arm. This year, his arm is strenghthened and the Broncos lost their starting tail back, Willis McGahee. Denver will utilize a pass heavy offense and Manning is one of the greatest QB’s in NFL History. I think he captures his 5 MVP award in yet another excellent season.

Super Bowl Matchup:

The San Francisco 49ers are stacked with talented players in their prime, and they are hungry for a SB Title after falling 5 yards short last year. Colin Kaepernick will look to improve on an impressive 2012 campaign. From the AFC, early favorites are the Broncos, led by Peyton Manning and Von Miller, and the Patriots, who hope to ride the golden arm of Tom Brady all the way to 4th Championship. The Patriots are sunk if Brady goes down, the team is short on depth and has lost several top receivers. The Broncos are weakened by the loss of Elvis Dumervil but will triumph over the rest of the weak AFC to meet the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

Winner: Niners 42-Broncos 35.

Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith. After being benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick after a concussion, Smith was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith has a Pro Bowl Caliber reciever in Dwayne Bowe and a decent rushing offense in Jamaal Charles. Look for 3,750 yards and 20-25 touchdowns. Smith excels at not turning the ball over, which was a major issue for KC last year. The Chiefs hope to improve to 6-10.

Other Canidates: Sam Bradford, Micheal Vick

Suprise Team of the Year: Arizona Cardinals

NFC: The Cardinals stumbled last year behind a weak defense and poor QB play. In the offseason, they signed Carson Palmer, a huge upgrade over John Skelton and Kevin Kolb. Palmer loves to throw deep, which should fit like a glove in the Cardinals offense. Larry Fitzgerald is among the elite receivers in the league, and the addition of Rashad Mendenhall gives them a legitamite rushing threat. The secondary looks much improved with young cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.

Other Canidates: Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Bucaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers.

Breakout Player of the Year: Blaine Gabbert.

Gabbert has struggled during his first two seasons as Jacksonville’s signal caller. He has matured and developed into a quarterback who makes fewer mistakes. It’s unlikely he will fufill the potential that had Jaguars fans excited when they drafted him 10th overall out of Missouri this season, but he should develope into a competent game manager who shows flashes of potential. Gabbert struggles in pressure situations, but he is a very talented player and just 23 years old. Maurice Jones-Drew is back to provide support from the run game, and Gabbert has 2 solid receiving options in Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts. Look for an 7-9 season out of the improving Jaguars.

Worst Dropoff (Team): Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas went 8-8 last year, but a repeat of .500 is unlikely this year. With a team full of head cases and whiners, they can be painful to watch. Dez Bryant fails to capatalize on his incredible talent and instead makes more headlines for arrests than touchdowns. Tony Romo seems to be made of glass, and the defense is weak outside of DeMarcus Ware. Doug Free is a consistent headache at right guard for Coach Jason Garret. Jason Witten, the most reliable receiving option, is an injury concern. It looks like the Cowboys will be in the cellar of the NFC East.

Other Canidates: Oakland Raiders (from bad to worse), Baltimore Ravens.

Worst Dropoff (Player): RG3.

We all love Robert Griffin the third, but expecting a performance that will match his rookie season is unlikely. Head coach Mike Shanahan can be fickle, and he and Redskins management are concerned about how well Griffin’s slender 6’2″ frame can hold up againts the bruisers of the NFC like Jason Pierre Paul and Justin Tuck. Hoping to avoid another knee injury, the coaches will look to limit his time outside the pocket, and as a result, his rushing numbers will take a dip. RG3 may be rusty after a preseason in which he didn’t take any snaps. I think he will still be a sucessful quarterback, but his stats will take a hit as the Redskins look to rely on running backs Alfred Morris and Roy Helu to take the strain off of RG3.