Hopefully this gives us an added boost to our pass rush. Granted he's 33 so I am not sure we will see the same type of output he had in his last season with the Vikings (11.5 sacks - 2013), but I think he can better his output from last season with the Bears (5.5 sacks). Good move from Gettleman.
Indeed. Mariota is looking good out there, and he is proving the analysts who questioned his ability to play from day one wrong. And this game is making me wish I hadn't left Mariota and Sankey on my bench in favor of Tannehill and Miller! :( :D
Opening drive for Winston in the second half - 2 sacks and ended needing to convert a 3rd & 42 - the guy doesnt look ready to start in the NFL. Poor footwork. Poor decision making. If they hope he's their guy, it's going to be a long time away. Even Blaine Gabbert was better in his first game...
Their message board will be in meltdown over how they should have taken Mariota over Winston, and how they're doomed as long as Lovie if their head coach... By no means did I expect these types of performances from them game one, but of the two, I always felt that Mariota would have been the better pick of the two QBs.
Great news for Luke getting his deserves pay day. Great news for the Panthers tying up the best ILB in the league to a long term deal. Great news for the fans and all round that this offseason we have the leader/face of the defense and the leader/face of the offense signed to long term deals. On a side note, bet Luke wished LBs got paid like D-Linemen, what with Dareus getting a $108 million 6-year deal...
The Jags aren't devoid of talent and could be on the brink of breaking out, it wouldn't be surprising to see them win 6 to 8 games this season. Granted the same could be said about them last season, but if they can find the consistency that they lacked last season, then they are going to win more football games this season. So I am not surprised that some have picked them to beat us because they have the play makers and young talent to cause us problems, and if they take their chances and/or we start slow, us slipping up against the Jaguars is a possibility. That said, if we have aspirations to win a third consecutive division title and make the play offs, then these are the teams that we have to beat. We cannot afford to slip up against the Jaguars, the Texans in week two, or the following two games against the Saints and Buccaneers. We need to make sure we head into the bye week 4-0. We can't afford another slow start because the Saints, Falcons, and Buccaneers shouldn't be as bad as they were last season, and as soon as we come out of the bye week we head to Seattle, then have home games against the Eagles, Colts, and Packers. By the end of week 9 for us to have a chance we need to be at least 4-4, any worse and our play off chances are going to take a serious hit. So with a tough schedule after the bye week, we need to take advantage of these first four games and cannot afford to slip up against the Jags.
It's an interesting stat and argument, but there is no doubt that teams would rather face our current receiving core without Benji than with Benji. His presence on the field would force teams to plan for him and Olsen, which could potentially make the jobs of Funchess and co easier. Without him teams will just plan for covering Olsen, and force Cam to throw to our other lacklustre options or force throws to Olsen. We aren't doomed, but even with a low completion percentage, this team will feel the loss of Benji from game one.
Hakeem Nicks, Denarius Moore, and Vincent Brown are probably the most appealing free agent receivers I can think of, but all are free agents for a reason, and as such, they carry a risk as to whether they will end up contributing or not. So who would we cut to make room? If there's a belief in the veterans Cotchery and Ginn, they stay. They like what they see in Norwood, he stays. Funchess stays for obvious reasons. So unless Corey, Philly - whatever - continues to be drop prone, then the five we've got stay. So first problem is finding a dispensable player to cut, and the second problem is that the new reciever needs to step in and be able to move up the depth chart to make a difference, and outside of a few receivers, it is debatable how many could do that.
Funchess may not be ready to start because he's not far enough along in his development, or because he is still recovering from his hamstring injury. I would suspect it is the former rather than the latter. But it is somewhat surprising to see Brown being given the start ahead of him after his preseason struggles with dropping the ball. I suppose Rivera is hoping the faith he is showing in Brown is repaid by him bouncing back and being able to catch the ball again? The problem with bringing in another receiver is whether there is a receiver out there that is better than what we have on this roster. Free agents like Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker at this stage in their careers are over the hill, and Hakeem Nicks doesn't look like he wants it. Maybe we can revive Hakeem Nicks' career, or find a diamond in the rough, but right now there doesn't appear to be clear cut options that would definitely be an upgrade over what we have right now. There's some players we could pick up with upside, but they could also fall flat as well.
The O-Line has been an issue because other than his rookie season he has ranked in the top ten in most sacked QBs, though in his rookie year he only missed it by one place. But the problem with blaming the protection is that other QBs manage to have better pass completion when taking more sacks, so why does Cam continued to have issues? Notable examples: - Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times in 2013, he completed 67 pct. - Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times in 2012, he completed 67 pct. - Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times in 2012, he completed 64 pct. - Tony Romo was sacked 36 times in 2011 and 2012, he completed 66 and 65 pct. If we look at last season: - Jay Cutler was sacked the same amount of times, he completed 66 pct. - Teddy Bridgewater was sacked one more time, he completed 64 pct. - Alex Smith was sacked seven more times, he completed 65 pct. At the end of the day other quarterbacks have hit the ground as much, if not more times than Cam, and experienced as much, if not more pressure at times than Cam, and they have managed to be more accurate than Cam. So I do find it difficult to blame the O-Line behind Cam's lack of accuracy. The revolving door policy at receiver does have some merit, but through 2011-13 his top three targets were the same [Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen] and he still had some issues with accuracy. So I don't think we can put the blame entirely on the O-Line and receiving core, they haven't been great, but others have played with worse. For me, the main reason behind his lack of accuracy is that he is still developing as a quarterback. He only had one year of starting experience in college, so he's had to learn on the job in NFL. So it is bound to take time to make the adjustments, and having average protection and receiving options has certainly not helped him, and likewise, not having a great OC has not helped either. That said, I will say the same as I have for the last three seasons - I hope Cam kicks on and have a big year this year statistically. But as long as we win our division and make the play offs, having Cam produce to a similar level to the past few seasons is not a problem. It is like Cam said the other day, judge him by wins not statistics. And I think that is the type of quarterback we have. Someone that will hopefully win a lot, but not be the next Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers in terms of production.
If our depth chart read: #1 Benjamin / #2 Ginn / #3 Brown / #4 Funchess / #5 Cotchery / #6 Norwood Then the outlook for the passing game would be different. With Benjamin's presence on the field teams would have to account for him and Greg Olsen. Last season they were both thousand yard receivers with 15 TDs between them. With them both on the field there would be a lot less pressure on the other receivers on the team. It would also take a lot of pressure off Funchess and potentially make his transition to the NFL easier because teams would have a hard time dealing with three big pass catchers. Take Benjamin away from this depth chart and there is cause for concern. Greg Olsen is going to see a lot of targets and teams are going to plan for that. So that puts a lot of pressure on Funchess to hit the ground running in his rookie year and breakout, because if he doesn't, or he is simply average, the passing game could struggle. Teams aren't going to worry about two drop prone receivers [Ginn and Brown], a veteran possession receiver [Cotchery], and an unproven receiver [Norwood]. They will double team Olsen, and force Cam to air it out to different targets or force the ball to Olsen. Those that are complaining about our receivers are justified because without Benjamin, the outlook of the passing game is not as rosy. With Benjamin it is a whole different outlook.
The Raiders have two, maybe three receivers that would be top of our depth chart. Amari Cooper is one of the most polished receivers to come out of college in recent years, and has the potential to be a very good player. Michael Crabtree hasn't been special, but he's got good hands and route running ability. And Rod Streater [another undrafted receiver] showed his ability when he had 66 catches and 888 yards, if he didn't get hurt last season, he could have kicked on from that, and he still could. Even Andre Holmes is an intriguing talent with his size and speed. Not sure who else they have got, but those four are a very solid receiving core with a couple of players with a lot of upside. But I do agree that we are not doomed. The belief is still there that Devin Funchess will develop into a legitimate number #2 receiver, who will eventually pair up with Kelvin Benjamin to form a dominant duo. There are also hopes that a new team will help Norwood develop into a decent receiver for us. We have a proven veteran in Cotchery. And that's without considering Greg Olsen is Cam's favorite target, plus capable pass catchers in Mike Tolbert, J-Stew and co. So as a whole we should be ok. Ginn has been drop prone and frustratingly inconsistent his entire career. As a result he has spent the majority of his career as a returns specialist and a mid-to-low depth chart player. As a former ninth overall pick he has been a bust because outside of special teams, he's never really produced much. And Brown is a younger version of Ginn, because he has proved to be drop prone. They might have the ability to stretch the field, but their consistency is questionable. As for Douglas and Wright. You are correct that Douglas has only one good season to his name, but he has been behind a depth chart that has included Julio Jones and Roddy White, and until 2013, tight end Tony Gonzalez. His stats may not show it, but he has been a steady slot receiver with decent hands, and when he got the opportunity in 2013 he had a good year. As for Wright, at worst he is a good slot receiver with good hands and route running ability. With the quarterback play he's had to deal with he's shown his ability to be a consistent option. And with better quarterback play he could develop into a thousand yard receiver on a yearly basis. When I compare those two duos, there is little doubt that Ginn and Brown probably have the edge as outside receivers that could stretch the field with big plays, but overall Douglas and Wright are more consistent receivers with better hands and route running ability. I would rather have their consistency than two drop prone receivers. Plus, the other thing to bare in mind is that they have two very talented receivers, Justin Hunter and Dorial Green-Beckham, at #3 and #4 on their depth chart. As a quartet they have the edge over our receiving core this year.
Far from it! :D I was being objective about the two QBs. I can see why they really rate their guy and have high hopes for the future. But as a Panthers fan and a Cam Newton fan, our guy is better with or without my Panthers hat on. And it will be that way for the foreseeable future.
I wouldn't be surprised that they would argue that Bortles could be better than Cam. He has the potential to be a very good quarterback in the same bracket to which Cam resides [ie below the elite passers like Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Peyton]. Cam has been in the league four years and his accuracy is still below 60 pct. He still over throws his receivers and still makes the odd bad read when going through his progressions. Don't get me wrong, Cam is still the superior quarterback and has the higher ceiling of the two by far. But there are parts to Cam's game which still haven't been resolved that really should have been by now, and until they are, he will always continue to post similar stats and have a mid-80 QB rating. I still believe he can, and will, lead us to a Super Bowl. But at the same time, he will be one of those QBs who can frustrate at times. As for Bortles. He's improved his mechanics this off season, has a good arm, and decent mobility. If he can transfer his preseason form into regular season he could have a breakout year. I think he is going to be their franchise quarterback, though how good he will be is hard to say. He certainly has the talent and physical attributes to be a very good quarterback, but like Cam, he has parts of his game which will have to iron out if he wants to establish himself as an elite passing quarterback. Overall, I believe Cam will have the better, more successful career than Bortles. The Jags can be proud of their quarterback, but he's not better than our own, and I don't foresee that happening.