Browns v. Ravens Review

Ravens squeaked one out at home against the Browns. It was hard to watch the first half. They just couldn’t move the ball, and Justin Tucker‘s misses didn’t help either. Here are my quick hits from the game.

  • I think Ed Dickson only got one target. It was one too many.
  • Making Torrey Smith a possession receiver is working out well for the team, and your fantasy team. He will continue to get most of the targets, and with his speed, he will have a great yards after the catch numbers.
  • Marlon Brown is the real deal. If the Ravens resign Pitta and can draft a receiver early next year, they will finally have a truly dynamic offense.
  • Ray Rice injury is not great. He is a much better pass catcher than Bernard Pierce and a much shiftier runner. Pierce will be more than serviceable, but Ravens are going to need Rice for the passing game.
  • Michael Oher is huge for the Ravens O-line. Losing him Week 1 was devastating to the Ravens’ offense.
  • The retooled defensive line is awesome.
  • Matt Elam needs to stop making rookie mistakes. He’ll be a good safety once he can cut those out.
  • Tandon Doss did surprisingly well replacing Jacoby Jones, but I would still rather have Jones returning kicks.
  • Trent Richardson‘s YPC is kind of disturbing, but I would say he is a buy low in fantasy. I’m holding on to him until he explodes (which he will do), but it might take some time to weather the storm.
  • Brandon Weeden is probably not the quarterback of the future for the Browns, but he is the quarterback of the present. It still amazes me that Jason Campbell was a first round pick. Redskins’ first rounder… but still.
  • The addition of Josh Gordon next week will help out the offense a ton and should start to open things up for Trent Richardson.
  • Browns’ defensive line is really good. Not because of Paul Kruger by any means, but it is really good.
  • Joe Haden is a Pro Bowl cornerback, and he’s the only reason Torrey didn’t have a truly monster game.

 Greg Danchik

NFL Week 1 Spar

Joe to Greg

Well, we can finally say it. It’s football season my friend, best of luck this year (in fantasy and with the Ravens). More on that later but for now, give me your biggest surprise, some standouts from the weekend, and some players that may need to step it up in Week 2.

Greg to Joe

Fantasy football was rough in Week 1. I can’t make any more ridiculous line up mistakes like in our league that Chris runs. I also would have won the 10 bucks in Week 1 for our yahoo league if LeSean McCoy didn’t go off against the Redskins, but I will have plenty more chances to win weeks.

Wes Welker's 3rd Down Drop that was Not Challenged (Screenshot of NBC Telecast)

Wes Welker’s 3rd Down Drop that was Not Challenged (Screenshot of NBC Telecast)

The actual football games had some crazy things happen. The Ravens got crushed by the Broncos. Just annihilated… It was hard to watch the second half. The tide turned tremendously on the non-challenge of Wes Welker‘s 3rd down drop. I wrote about that game before so I won’t get too much into it.

My biggest surprise was EJ Manuel and the Bills taking it to the Patriots after playing only one preseason game. The Patriots have some serious work to do in my opinion. I also saw that Brady is not working well with the rookie receivers in practice, and with Amendola out, they are going to have to perform for the Patriots to win. I thought the Patriots would be top class because of Brady, and maybe they are. It would just mean the Bills are a lot better than we thought.

David Wilson really screwed me. And I AM NOT happy about it. HOW DO YOU FUMBLE TWICE?!?! You know its your weakness. Did you not work on it in the offseason? Did Coughlin not teach him how to hold the football? Did you need to lift more to make sure defenders couldn’t strip the ball from you? God, I am so mad at David Wilson. I do think he’ll bounce back though and have a good season.

What are your thoughts on your questions? And what did you think of Chip Kelly’s offense on Monday night?

Joe to Greg

You rightfully beat me in our one league but I got off to a good start in our ESPN league. Drew Brees lit it up for me and I had all but one starter fail to reach double digits so I like where this season is headed. Back to real football, I think I was most surprised about the competitiveness of some of the weaker teams from last year. Starting with the Buffalo Bills giving the New England Patriots a scare. EJ Manuel made some nice throws but simply couldn’t play for the whole 60 minutes and keep up. While the score was close towards the end, the Bills had some questionable drives in the fourth quarter but nonetheless impressed many people, including me (I’m going to refrain from discussing the Patriots situation until more games are played/Gronk comes back within a reasonable timespan). Another instance is the Oakland Raiders, lead by former Buckeye Terrelle Pryor. Rushing for over 100 yards and throwing for over 200 yards was impressive in a near underdog win against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck showed off his knack for winning games in the fourth quarter once again but Pryor had a chance to bring the Raiders back. Unfortunately, his 2 interceptions on the day doomed the Raiders. Look out for this Raiders team to win a game or two more because of Pryor’s playmaking abilities.

    Adrian Peterson went off on the first play of the season for him, but other than that was outperformed by Reggie Bush, who was showing off some of his old school USC speed. Colin Kaepernick performed as well as anybody and the scary thing was, he was using his arm most of the day. RGIII certainly didn’t look like the player we know him to be. I think that game was more of him shaking off the rust than anything else.

    Stevan “Needs a nickname related to fumbles” Ridley drove me nuts on Sunday. Fumbling once without anyone even touching him. It’s ridiculous how good he is at fumbling the ball. Wilson and Ridley need to step it up, but luckily for Ridley, he’s the Patriots only option which may mean he’ll be let out of the dog house a little early.

    My thoughts on Chip Kelly’s offense can pretty much be summed up in a conversation I had with a true Philadelphia Eagles fan, Andrew Gerdes.

This was a short text exchange during the first half and some of the second half when the offense was clicking.

Joe: “I know I love watching this, I can only imagine how you feel”

Gerds: “This is insane”

Joe: “It’s incredible honestly, its a work of art”

Gerds: “They’ve maybe had 5 five plays where they haven’t had positive yardage”

It was entertaining to watch and that above all else is why I like it. Its new, you really never know who will get the ball, and its effective BUT time will tell. Remember, it’s only week 1…

Greg to Joe

RGIII did not look good at all. It was bad. He looked timid and just could not perform physically like we saw all of last season, but if he was at full health, the Redskins would have been in that game the whole way. The ‘Skins’ defense played extraordinarily well considering they were facing a brand new NFL offensive system. That being said, the Eagles offense is going to be filthy all year. Early I wrote for half a year and maybe the whole year, but I have to think its going to be the whole year now. They really do have a lot of talent on offense and the O-Line doesn’t have to be great because the offense is designed to tire out defenses so they will be facing D-Lines that are constantly fatigued. Their skill players are awesome, and if Vick can stay upright, the Eagles could be really good by just simply outscoring other teams and not worrying too much about how bad their defense is. I think the first time that team will be tested fully will be against the Broncos and Giants in Weeks 4 and 5. I think the Broncos will do ungodly things to that defense, much like the Ravens game. The reason I call the Giants a test is they have the offense (assuming Eli, Cruz, and Nicks are healthy) to keep up with the Eagles considering the Eagles defensive woes. I hate the Eagles and I can’t stand Eagles fans, but I will admit that offense will be one of a kind.

EJ Manuel at the 2013 NFL Draft (Photo Cred: Jason DeCrow/AP)

EJ Manuel at the 2013 NFL Draft (Photo Cred: Jason DeCrow/AP)

I love EJ Manuel. He definitely wasn’t as good as Cam Newton was in college, but he has a similar body type. With Doug Marrone at the helm in Buffalo, I am expecting big things out of him. I made a bold prediction for Week 2 in my weekly article at BucStop.com. I am calling for a Buffalo victory at home against Carolina, not too crazy considering they at 3 point home dogs. The crazy part is I’ve got EJ Manuel throwing for 3 touchdowns and running another 1 in to out play Cam Newton in his second NFL game. The pocket passer will never die, but the running quarterback, when used properly, can bring a whole new weapon to an offensive system. That is what Manual will do for the Bills and if Spiller can get his head straight, they could surprise some people.

You have a bold prediction for next week and do you think someone will disappoint fantasy owners in Week 2 much like David Wilson disappointed me in Week 1?

Joe to Greg

Not too many bold predictions. I say that RGIII burns the Packers much like Kaepernick was able to do last week. Thinking that Aaron Rodgers starts a season 0-2 seems weird. Regardless, I think one other surprise could be Eli getting his first Manning Bowl victory, currently losing (0-2). This is tough or at least down right bold. Peyton‘s either going to go off again or it’ll be a shootout coming down to come of the last possession in the fourth. I hope it’s an entertaining game throughout.

Some fantasy disappointments… I can see Frank Gore pissing me off this weekend with a subpar performance playing in the Seattle opener. Gore does get the chance to play there every season so he could bring experience to the table, but every now and then he drops a goose egg. Other than Gore, some tough calls to make… Chris Johnson against the Houston Texans. Yes the Texans let Philip Rivers almost beat them, but their defense is still a force. Combined with Johnson’s recent fantasy struggles dating back to last year, I like the chances. I’m calling a big day from Terrelle Pryor. Something about him makes me feel like he can have a little success. Even if that is for a game, I’ll take my chances since he’s playing a Jaguars team that gave up 28 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Any big performers this week?

Greg to Joe

The line for the Jags-Raiders game is ridiculous in my opinion. I would say that the Raiders are so talentless (much like the Houston Astros) they don’t deserve to ever be more than a 3 point favorite. I say 3 points because home teams automatically get a 3 points deducted in the books for NFL games. I can see Pryor going off, but I think that MJD will have a big game as well. There just won’t be a lot of passing. It will be like a game from the 60’s.

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with your Redskins assessment. Kaepernick is much better than RGIII right now, considering health. RGIII won’t be able to tear up the Packers like Kaepernick did. I’m calling for a Packers blowout actually. RGIII is trying to recover on a short week from his first NFL game since an ACL reconstruction. The Redskins defense is probably still trying to catch their breath from Monday. The Packers offense is deadly and will carve up the Redskins in a different way than the Eagles did. I think the Packers just take it to them and don’t let up in their first game at Lambeau for the new season. Your Eli vs Peyton prediction is outrageously bold. I think the Broncos beat them pretty bad because the Giants won’t be able to run any better than the Ravens did so the Broncos will just gear up and attack Eli.

My big performers include the EJ Manuel prediction, but I also think Alshon Jeffery will get a TD or two. The Bears offense is remade under Mark Trestman, and they will try to score as quickly as possible to take the game out of Adrian Peterson’s hands. I am starting Jeffery over Mike Wallace in one of my leagues. That is partially because of Jeffery, but it also has to do with the concern I have will Wallace and Tannehill‘s chemistry (even with chemistry issues, I see them beating the Colts in Indianapolis). I’m just pumped for Week 2 to start tonight in Foxboro (the line for that game is ridiculous in my opinion, but we’ll see if I am wrong).

Good luck in fantasy this week and to the Pats tonight.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

Weekend Wrap-Up

Chip Kelly and Michael Vick (USATSI)

Chip Kelly and Michael Vick (USATSI)

Most NFL teams have finally had their first game after the first Sunday of football action. My synopsis of the games this week.

Adrian Peterson is still a beast. But Reggie Bush is the missing piece to the Lions offense. He went off yesterday running the ball, but that also included 4 catches for 101 yards. In those catches, he had a ridiculous 77 yard touchdown catch and run. He will probably lead all running backs in receptions. The Lions pass the ball and Bush’s talent can help them open up Megatron during the season.

Andrew Luck is really good. Unfortunately, the Colts don’t have a great outlook if they can’t blow out the Raiders. They have some work to do.  Luck will still carry this team to a postseason berth because of their week division, but I am not so sure they will be able to make a deep run against some of the top teams in the AFC. Then again, those top teams did not look so hot (minus Denver).

The 49ers are the real deal again. They are just better than the Ravens, and it showed in their ability to use Anquan Boldin. He dominated in that game because Kaepernick threw to him in coverage, something that Flacco refused to do until Jim Caldwell took over. The Packers are going to be good again, but its hard to be bad with Aaron Rodgers.

The Rams-Cardinals game showed me this… Tyrann Mathieu is a playmaker, and the Cardinals are going to get a large contribution from the 3rd rounder. Larry Fitzgerald is still a top wide receiver if he has a half decent quarterback throwing the football. I personally think these teams are really good and can split with the 49ers and Seahawks. NFC West is the best division in football in my opinion.

The NFC East is going to be the most wide open division in football. Yes, it was only Week 1, but they all have talent, but they all have questions. Is RGIII going to improve on Week 1 where he looked like a shell of himself? Can Tony Romo (and Eli Manning for that matter) be the real deal all season and limit the stupid mistakes? Finally, can Michael Vick stay healthy, and can the Eagles defense be good all season? I know I have been hating on the Eagles ALL summer, and I still think that they will be bad. However, they have an offense with Vick. Chip Kelly’s offense will dominate for at least half the season, and maybe the whole season. It will be up to the rest of the NFL to catch up with him. I still have doubts about this team really contending in this division. I am still going to say they are going to be bad until they continue to show this dominant offense and acceptable defense. I know this is not the same, but remember when the Sanchize threw 3 touchdowns in Week 1 of 2012, and the Jets put up 48 points. Can’t overreact to Week 1, no matter how hard it is.

Since I know no one paid attention to baseball this weekend, heres some big news. It has been 20 years since the Pirates have had a winning season and they clinched it last night. This team has talent. In my midseason bold predictions, I had them winning the World Series over the Orioles. This is still mathematically possible, but it will be really close. This series with between the Yankees and the Orioles could be one of the biggest series in determining the second AL Wild Card. The Orioles started it off with a win and I hope they can win each game including the game I will be attending on
Thursday. With a little less than a month left, the playoff races are coming down to the wire. I can’t wait for the rest of this month and especially October, when all 4 sports are going to be be going on in some capacity.

Greg Danchik

Ravens v. Broncos Review

Julius Thomas scoring one of his two touchdowns (Photo Cred: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Julius Thomas scoring one of his two touchdowns (Photo Cred: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Broncos DEMOLISHED the Ravens last night. Just flat out destroyed them. I just got some quick hits about the game.

  • Ravens should have cut Ed Dickson on the field. He is awful.
  • Michael Oher is probably a lot better than what people give him credit for. The Ravens lost all ability to hold of a rush or run the ball once he got hurt.
  • The Jacoby Jones injury might hurt because he suddenly is able to catch the football now, and the Ravens need a receiver.
  • Dennis Pitta was a much bigger loss than I thought it was going to be. Boldin not so much. If you watched Ravens regular season games last year, he did not look good. He just had a good 4 game stretch in the playoffs, but Pitta was good all season.
  • Ravens need to be able to run the ball better.
  • The Ravens could very easily start the season off 0-3. Browns are good. Call me crazy, but if Joe Flacco was the Browns quarterback, they would be a Super Bowl contender. Flacco > Weeden is the reason that the Ravens will be favored next week and they are the home team so they automatically get 3 points.
  • The Ravens’ safeties looked like they learned how to tackle from Ed Reed (that means they aren’t good at it… they just know how to hit people)
  • The defense is better than last year if last night has last year’s defense, Peyton could have broken the single game passing touchdown record by two touchdowns.
  • The Broncos are going to be REALLY good, but they won’t win the Super Bowl. Peyton won’t be able to play that good in the Super Bowl Sunday Blizzard. (Yes, it is going to happen)
  • The Broncos are great because Peyton is good and the supporting cast is unreal. The Broncos would be a playoff team with out Peyton.
  • Broncos front 7 without Von Miller was still really good. It’s gonna be scary when he gets back and is fresh.

 Greg Danchik

A look back at the 2008 NFL Draft: Part 1

A Look Back: The 2008 NFL Draft First Round Part I

2008 NFL Draft Invitees

2008 NFL Draft Invitees

Teams are always looking for the best pick in a draft, whether it concerns an actual NFL team or a college kid’s fantasy team. Originally this post was going to include all 32 picks with some extra comments. The post will now be broken down into two parts and will become an annual column for the The Sports Dojo. With that being said, a draft can determine the success a team has in the future. Here’s a look back at the first round selections of the 2008 draft (with other standouts and analysis; and some help from the Dojo Master).

First Round:

  1. Jake Long — Miami Dolphins: Sturdy and reliant seem to be understatements for Long. After being the first overall selection, he went on to start his first 61 games of his career. Also winning pro-bowl nominations in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Over the summer, Long became a free agent and turned down a contract extension to join the St. Louis Rams, who interestingly are the next pick in the draft.

  2. Chris Long — St. Louis Rams: Long’s biggest asset is his agility and athleticism for a big man. One of the more unknown statistics in the league, Long led the league in hurries in 2010 along with being named a Pro Bowl Alternate. He was named to the 2008 All-Rookie team as well, recording 4 sacks in his rookie campaign. This past season, Long finished with 11.5 sacks and was named once again as a Pro Bowl alternate. Look for his reliability and maturity to emerge this season, don’t forget this name.

  3. Matt Ryan — Atlanta Falcons: Ryan’s been a good quarterback, but no super bowl and only one lucky playoff win… unlike quarterback taken at 18… 11-4 postseason record plus a Super Bowl win… no big deal or anything EXCEPT Peyton Manning only has 9 wins to go along with his 11 losses… no big deal… just kind of good is that guy who got drafted at 18. There are a couple of statistics that stand out in Ryan’s career. One of the more impressive ones was pointed out by Grantland’s Bill Barnwell. Ryan is now an incredible 27-10 (72.9 percent) in one-touchdown games during the regular season for Atlanta. The down side to this, he is 1-2 in those games during the playoffs. While his playoff appearances are a low, expect to see big things from him in the future.

  4. Darren McFadden — Oakland Raiders: In five professional seasons, McFadden has shown glimpses of the potential he displayed coming out of Arkansas. Through five seasons, he has only surpassed 1,000 yards rushing once (2010). Another problem has been health issues in his career. McFadden has never played a full season, due to to shoulder and ankle injuries. McFadden has displayed several signs of his value, whether that comes from the run game or catching balls out of the back field. Fantasy wise, you’re always looking for running backs that can catch the ball as well as run.

  5. Glenn Dorsey — Kansas City Chiefs: The big defensive end out of LSU remains a competitive force. With a fresh new look in San Francisco and a two year deal, hopefully the level Dorsey was expected to reach in Kansas City will come about. One of the factors that plagued Dorsey’s early career was the shift to a 3-4 defense in Kansas City. Forcing him to change his natural position, defensive tackle, to what he now currently plays, defensive end.

  6. Vernon Gholston — New York Jets: Unfortunately in every draft, there are the occasional busts. Gholston may just be one of them. After being drafted by the Jets, Gholston saw limited time in his rookie position as the perfect outside linebacker the Jets defense was looking for. After three years, Gholston failed to record a sack and was henceforth released by the team. He bounced to the Chicago Bears during the summer of 2011, but after just one month, was prompted released again. After being picked up by the St. Louis Rams during the 2012 offseason, one week into the signing, he was again released. Simply not the career you expect from the sixth overall pick, unfortunately, it happens.

  7. Sedrick Ellis — New Orleans Saints: He started at least ten games each of his five seasons with the Saints, including a Super Bowl win in 2009. Ellis also recorded at least 30 tackles in each of his five seasons. For one reason or the other, Ellis left the Saints following the 2012 season. In June 2013, Ellis signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears, after two months, he decided to let the Bears organization know of his plans to retire from the NFL.

  8. Derrick Harvey — Jacksonville Jaguars: Being the last 2008 first-round pick to sign a contract didn’t bode well for the rest of his career. Harvey was waived by the Jaguars following the 2010 season and picked up by the Denver Broncos for the 2011 season. He had zero sacks to go along with two tackles, which inevitably ended with his release. In March of 2012, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Harvey but in August, he was yet again released.

  9. Keith Rivers — Cincinnati Bengals: Victim of the creation of the “Hines Ward Rule” which caused a season-ending injury, the incident would henceforth make it illegal for blockers to land a blindside block using their helmet, forearm or shoulder, to strike at the head or neck area of a defender. Rivers has had success with the Bengals but was traded to the New York Giants for a 5th-Round pick in the 2012 draft.

  10. Jerod Mayo —  New England Patriots: In a rookie year in which he eclipsed the 100 tackles mark, Mayo was named defensive captain for the Pats in 2010. A year in which he tallied a stellar 175-tackle total and a Pro Bowl nomination. His work ethic is the best in the game. On draft day, instead of being in New York under the spotlight with the other top ten picks, he was at home in Virginia raking leaves. One can only hope he leads the career of another famous and now retired linebacker… Ray Lewis.

  11. Leodis McKelvin — Buffalo Bills: This seems to happen more and more in the NFL. Crazy, super-athletic cornerbacks that have a knack for returning kickoffs or performing other position duties. McKelvin has made some electrifying plays courtesy of his speed and change of direction. The Bills recently re-signed McKelvin to a four-year $20 million deal in March. His 40-yard draft at the combine was an impressive 4.39, a full second slower than another player at the same position coming up on this list.

  12. Ryan Clady — Denver Broncos: If there is one pick that has paid its dividends, its Ryan Clady. As an offensive tackle, he placed third in the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award votings. The only offensive linemen to receive any votes. Clady set a new NFL record for most consecutive games without letting up a full sack (20 games). To go along with the 2008 season and to the delight of Peyton Manning, Clady allowed just one sack the entire 2012 season. This prompted the Denver Broncos to use their franchise tag (worth $9.823 million) on Clady this offseason and in July, they agreed to a five-year, $52.5 million deal.

  13. Jonathan Stewart — Carolina Panthers: Another player that make people feel like their potential hasn’t been reached. Stewart has always fluctuated his carries with fellow counterpart DeAngelo Williams as well as other running backs for his tenure in Carolina. During the 2009 season, both Williams (former first round pick in 2006) and Stewart rushed for over 1,000 yards, becoming the 6th rushing duo to accomplish the feat. Stewart and Williams also created buzz when they dubbed their one-two punch ‘smash and dash’. This combined with a 300 yard performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forced Chris Johnson to claim his name to the nickname first. Stewart and Williams ultimately let this fans decide their new name, ultimately going with ‘Double Trouble’. Look for these two to make some noise. Fantasy wise having two running backs receiving equal reps during the game never helps your team.

  14. Chris Williams — Chicago Bears: The last of five SEC players to be selected in the top 15, Williams has shown promise as an offensive tackle. He’s been matched up against the likes of Jared Allen and didn’t allow a sack. Injuries to his hamstrings and back have hurt his playing time and during the 2012 season, he was released by the Bears. Interestingly enough, the team that claimed him mid way through the season and resigned him to a one year deal in 2013…yes, you got it…the St. Louis Rams (now have three players out of the top 15).

  15. Branden Albert — Kansas City Chiefs: The first offensive guard taken in the draft, Albert showed durability during his first five seasons in the NFL. While he struggled in his sophomore season, allowing nine sacks (5th most in the league) and committing 10 penalties. Albert started all sixteen games in 2010 and the Chiefs decided to place the franchise tag on him in 2013. Over the past two seasons, Albert has allowed fewer sacks and fewer combined quarterback hits than both Ryan Clady (12th overall pick) and Jake Long (1st overall pick).

    Notice some of the smaller themes from the top fifteen picks. Whether than be remaining with the team that drafted them, leaving for another team, or even retiring. Success in the NFL correlates with how much work a player puts in. Clearly there are some players who wanted to win and become successful more than others. Keep these ideas in mind and stay tuned for the release of Part II later in the week.

Joe’s god given ability to untangle any knot has shown that he’s a valuable asset to The Sports Dojo Team. Not to be confused with Daniel ‘Smilin Wanderer’ Dicce, Joe ‘Wicked Pupil’ Meola has been known across Philadelphia as one of the most prolific culinarians. @brosephmeola