It’s always subjective to grade the off seasons of NFL teams and the true test won’t come until this fall and what players/teams do or don’t do, to make impact. However, on Tuesday Morning ESPN put out a list out of all 32 NFL teams and ranked their off seasons with explanations.
We are obviously most concerned with the Bucs, the Dolphins and the Jaguars and what those covering those clubs believe they did well, or not.
Grading the offseasons of all 32 NFL teams, including my thoughts on how the Bucs did https://t.co/X3nFjnCs16
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) June 18, 2019
It is interesting to ESPN thought that the Jaguars and the Dolphins both had “above-average: off-seasons, but that can also be attributed to both “making a splash move,” involving quarterbacks. Jacksonville having ponied up over $50 million guaranteed to sign Nick Foles away from the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dolphins acquiring former top 10 pick, now second-year quarterback, Josh Rosen, in a draft weekend trade with the Arizona Cardinals.
Here is what each beat reporter for ESPN wrote in breakdown.
First, here’s part of what Mike DiRocco of Jacksonville on the Jags moves:
The Jaguars had to fix an offense that scored two touchdowns in the final five games of 2018 by upgrading at quarterback. Nick Foles, who won a Super Bowl MVP with Philadelphia after the 2017 season, was the best free-agent quarterback available. The Jaguars signed him to a four-year deal worth $91 million, with a franchise-record $50.125 million guaranteed. Is he an elite quarterback? No, but he’s a major upgrade over Blake Bortles. In his 13 starts (including postseason) with the Eagles, Foles completed 67% of his passes with 21 TDs and 11 INTs. No Jaguars starter has completed more than 64.5% of their passes over a season…..
It has been a two-step goal: 1. Say goodbye to an era mired in mediocrity, Band-Aid fixes and a risky win-now vision with moves such as getting rid of coach Adam Gase, GM Mike Tannenbaum and QB Ryan Tannehill, along with largely sitting out the free-agent period. 2. Exercise patience for an impending rebuild and make moves to set up the organization for long-term success starting in 2020 with moves such as hiring coach Brian Flores with a five-year guaranteed deal, collecting a bounty of 2020 draft picks and making Xavien Howard the highest-paid cornerback….
Then, Jenna Laine, who covers Tampa Bay for the “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” wrote about the “average” designation that the Bucs received and here’s some of her analysis on the defensive side:
Jason Pierre-Paul contributed one-third of the defense’s sacks last season (32.9%) and nearly half of its defensive pressures (43.8%), according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Best-case scenario for his neck fracture is five to six months of recovery, and that’s if he is able to return at all this season. Can outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Noah Spence and DE Carl Nassib step up to fill that void along with first-round LB Devin White?…
Again, much of this is educated conjecture until the teams report to camps, and we see what they look like in preseason. And in the case of the Buccaneers and the Dolphins, you are dealing with new coaching staffs, too.
Still, it’s always interesting to see varying informed opinions on what has or hasn’t gone right for teams to this point.
Who is headed to Miami and Super Bowl XLIV after Sunday?
Two games remain to determine whom will tee it up at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. Will the upstart Titans pull off a third straight upset in Kansas City? Can the Packers get revenge over a San Francisco team that humbled them in late November?
We know this: the unexpected has already happened several times in these playoffs and don’t rule out the upsets Sunday.
First, the Baltimore Ravens had been favorites to win Super Bowl LIV for some time now. Pretty much since they destroyed the Pats in the middle of the season. They had already beaten the K.C Chiefs and a handful of other solid teams. And, once they defeated the the 49ers in December, it looked like the Ravens were the best team in the NFL .
Then, last Saturday night, this happened:
The Ravens appeared to be the most complete team in the NFL, but that’s the thing about the playoffs, all it takes is one bad game and you’re out.
The Tennesse Titans went into M&T Bank Stadium and surprised them last Saturday night. Jim Harbaugh got outcoached and the Ravens hit a brick wall of a Mike Vrabel defense. So, now they are gone.
But who fills the void, now that the supposed “best team in football” got eliminated, and whom is the favorite to win it all now headed in to Championship Sunday?
The Titans and veteran QB Ryan Tannehill are on an epic run. They are the beast slayers, so to speak. But it isn’t them. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the NFL, and the Packers have won six games straight games after last week’s close one at Lambeau over Seattle.
However, it’s not them either. The 49ers are in a position to win it all for the first time since 1994 and they have the best pass defense in the league. But again, it’s not them.
That leaves just one team: Andy Reid and his “Kool-Aide-Colored” Chiefs.
Kansas City leads the Super Bowl Futures odds charge at +135. The SF 49ers can be found around +165 and both the Packers are Titans are sitting at +650. So, Las Vegas has the Chiefs to win, with the 49ers close at second.
But does this mean the Chiefs and their perennial runner-up coach, will win out?
Many smart sports handicappers have their picks with the Titans to at least keep the game close enough to cover the point spread Sunday. More like the rolling Titans to win outright.
The same goes for the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers game. The Niners are big favorites, but we are dealing with a team whose recent situation performance shows, they would actually win –but maybe not cover.
So, we have two conference championship games with clear, heavy favorites … that could both lose.
The Chiefs showed us a few things in their incredible Division-Round win over the Houston Texans. The first thing they showed us is that their defense and special teams units are vulnerable. This was made apparent when the Texans went up 24-0 and looked to be dominating the game.
Next, the Chiefs showed us that they can adjust better than anyone. They shook it off and put up 28 points in the second quarter to retake the lead. Then they poured it on in the 3rd and 4th, adding 23 more to the board, showing us that they are still the best second-half team in football.
That said, the Texans are not the Titans. They showed us this season that they really only get consistent wins against sub-500 teams. Houston ranked way back at No. 23 in the league for scoring defense (and way worse in their last 3 games allowing 35 per affair) and 26.7 overall while playing on the road.
The Titans on the other hand, only allow 16.6 points per game on the road. They have a top-ten defense overall and have been absolutely stellar in recent games. In their last 3, they’ve only allowed 13 points per game. KC has allowed 18.3 per game in their most recent three.
On the flip side, the Super Bowl favorite has scored 29 points per game at home and averages the same overall. But, the Titans have upped their average to 25 points per game both overall and on the road. So, we should see a very close game, indeed.
Can the SB LIV favs beat the Titans and go on to win it all in South Florida? Perhaps, but it won’t be easy.
Titans QB Tannehill on Wednesday- “I wanna win”
The Tennessee Titans are readying to play in the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. And on Wednesday, former Dolphins quarterback now turned Tennessee starting QB, Ryan Tannehill, met with the media about the opportunity for he and his teammates to play their way into Super Bowl 54.
And, Tannehill made something abundantly clear again, it doesn’t matter about his own personal pass attempts or stats, he’s mainly concerned with getting another victory:
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 15, 2020
“We’ve put in a lot of work to win multiple ways this season. You don’t forget how to throw and catch…. Being a quarterback, I love throwing the ball, but I just wanna win.”
Tannehill has only thrown the ball a total of 29 times with 15 completions in the Titans two playoff wins over the Patriots and the Ravens. So, it’s obvious the Tennessee’s game plan of grinding teams with the run and Derrick Henry bruising them, and, then, playing sound, physical and opportunistic defense has worked thus far.
However, Tannehill also acknowledged Wednesday that it might be different against the Chiefs, who certainly are more explosive then either New England or Baltimore on offense. The Texans found that out firsthand at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, when their 24 – 0 lead evaporated in the second quarter and Patrick Mahomes and Co. proceeded to put 41 unanswered points on them.
Now, Tennessee’s defense is better than Houston’s overall and it’s one of the big reasons why they’re still alive at this stage of the postseason. Still, Tannehill may be called upon to make a bunch of big throws and plays in this game if the Titans are going to have any chance.
His first start was at home against the Chargers and threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in a win. Tannehill then led them on a run of winning six of seven starts total. And, in every one of those games, Tannehill threw for either at least 300 yards or for at least two touchdowns or a combo of both.
His play has been consistent, and at times, very good for Tenneessee.
Further, when you total up his 11 games started, Tannehill now has an 8 – 3 record (including these two playoff wins), and he has only one game, a 30 – 20 loss at Carolina in early November, where he had two interceptions.
One, essentially “bad game” in 11 starts.
And, since that November Carolina game, Tannehill has thrown only 3 picks total, while throwing 19 TDs. Oh, and Tennessee is now 7 – 2 over those next nine games.
And, one of those games is the previous win over Kansas City in Nashville on November 10th, when Tannehill threw for 181 yards and two scores and no picks.
Now, they will head to frigid K.C. to play the biggest game of Tanehill’s and several of the young stars on offense’s biggest professional game ever. And, you get the sense that the veteran signal caller whom the Dolphins gave up on this off-season, is ready to throw it 10 times or 40 times to try to get it done.