NFL Wild Card game predictions.

NFL Wild Card game predictions
Here it is, the first week of playoffs and while the Jaguars aren’t in it, the best teams, are. Instead of doing an AFCS game preview, this will replace that with my NFL Wild Card game predictions.

SATURDAY 4:35 ESPN

6th Seed Colts (10-6) vs 3rd Seed Texans (11-5)

This is a home game for Houston, they have a better record and therefore should get the nod. I disagree. Indy has a better offense, slightly better defense, much better passing and about even rushing.
In the cold of January, that rushing stat would be worrisome, but the Texans play in a dome, as do the Colts. Which means, passing and defense is what will matter more – for this game.
Houston’s defense only allows 19.8 points a game, while Indy gives up 21.5. Against QB’s, Houston is 13th and Indy 16th in total QBR. I look at this number because it shows how they did in allowing completions. The real eye opener though is how many each allowed in passing TD’s and for Indy it was only 21, for the Texans is was 28.
The Colts score 27.1 a game and the Texans 25.1.
Against the rush, Houston is third in TD’s allowed, while Indy is 10th. Both teams have the same interceptions, but Houston has five more sacks. Since the Colts have protected Luck the best in the league, the big advantage goes to Indy since Deshaun Watson has been creamed the most.
Away teams tend to do far worse in the playoffs than the home teams, usually it’s because the home team earned it by being better. In this case, Indy got off to a slow start because they have a new head coach and had a rusty QB. Both are now clicking. I chose Indy by 6.

8:15 FOX

5th Seed Seahawks (10-6) vs 4th Cowboys (10-6)

Lord, I don’t like Dallas and can’t be objective when looking at stats. Nine is the number that matters. That’s how many rushing TD’s Seattle has allowed. In the red zone, they’re keeping teams out of the end zone.
Dallas’ offense is wrapped around Zeke Elliot and the run game. Take him away and stick a dagger in their heart, their defense be damned.
Seattle allows one more point a game than Dallas and that’s coming from the pass. They’re not great against it, but when it comes to tossing them, they’ve got Dallas beat by 13 TD’s.
Dallas has to find a way to keep up in scoring in order to win. They lag by 5 points per game, hence nine is the key. Nine means the Seahawks have had games with zero rushing TD’s allowed. Do that vs Dallas and you’ve got a big win for Seattle.
In my subjective view point, Seattle plays bend don’t break defense while Dallas plays more flashy, that can get them into trouble. And FYI, Seattle has more rushing TD’s than Dallas. 15 to 13. My prediction, Seahawks by 7 because Dak Prescott will be strip sacked.

SUNDAY 1:05 CBS

5th Seed Chargers (12-4) vs 4th Seed Ravens (10-6)

LA has a big thing going for them, they travel well. 7-1 to be exact which means they aren’t afraid of playing in loud stadiums, plus they have shown time changes don’t bother them, either. In their first match-up, offensive penalties killed them. This is an area to see if it was cleaned up – it’ll go to coaching.
The Chargers have to stop the run, which they’re not bad at, but they’re going to need to be great. Baltimore is number 3rd at the run TD’s, so not a good match-up.
Against the pass, Baltimore is second in QBR and LA is 9th. Both teams on total defense is top ten. Offense is where the gap is.
When it comes to points on the board, LA has scored almost twice as many TD’s. So, this game is about slowing Rivers through the air and stopping the Ravens on the ground. Kind of funny that rivers run on the ground and ravens fly through the air but each team is the reverse. Yes, I’m goofy.
In January (outside), the run game and defense, win. No one is really talking up the Charger’s run game, but they have three less TD’s than Baltimore and more yards per carry and that’s with Melvin Gordon missing time. Both defenses have given up 11 rushing TD’s.
Baltimore keeps points to 17.9 a game while LA scores 26.8. Baltimore is scoring 24.3, while LA gives up 20.6. Based on just this, LA wins by a FG in a slug fest.

4:40 NBC

6th Seed Eagles (9-7) vs 3rd Seed Bears (12-4)

The Eagles are the feel good team this season, once Nick Foles came in and won. The difference between this season and last is one, teams have now seen enough of him in this offense to know him and two, da Bears.
When it comes to consistency, I’ll take Foles over Mitch Trubisky, but Matt Nagy has found a way to scheme around him and it works. Plus, Chicago has 50 sacks. I don’t think Nick or that OL is ready for Khalil Mack.
Where the two teams are equal is on defending the pass for the score. Both have allowed 22. This opens the door for the quarterbacks to have a decent day provided they don’t get creamed, first. However, Chicago has intercepted the pass an amazing 27 times, needless to say, that’s very bad for Foles. His mental game must be on high alert.
Foles’ total QBR is ranked lower middle, Trubisky is ranked third. Which shows he makes plays even in his inconsistency and that’s what matters. Not to mention, Nick has bruised ribs – against a team with 50 sacks. I’m not seeing a happy ending for the fairytale.
Philadelphia has done better as the season wore on, their defense found its legs, but they’re not a top team and on the road in Chicago, I predict da Bears by 14. This is my one blow-out game.

The thing is…why the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback.

why the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback

Most of us would LOVE a shiny new toy at quarterback, one the franchise can have for twenty years. Of course, that’s my gut and heart wishing…then the cold-hearted logic side of the brain kicks in and throws icy water all over the happy party. There are three (or four) reasons why the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback.

First, none of the rookie candidates are setting the world on fire. One could say Dwayne Haskins is the most well-rounded and best choice; he’s the right size, accurate, mobile, and played for a top school. But then, so have a slew of other college QB’s who didn’t pan out. The main reason: they often don’t need to call plays in a huddle, be a leader, diagnosis defenses…exhibit the mental side of the game that makes the difference.

This leads to why drafting quarterbacks is difficult. A franchise should have a guy who is methodical, can march his team down the field, played against defenses that are tough, and played in a pro-system because it shows he can handle a huddle. He must make pinpoint throws and lead his receiver.

Let’s say this guy is found so everything is peachy now, right? Not really. A franchise must also have a good offensive line AND a run game, because no matter how smart the rookie is, the NFL will be faster than what he knows and that requires time to think and help to carry the load.

Without that, you have a guy more focused on avoiding getting hit instead of reading defenses and working on his pocket presence.

Next, does he have the right scheme and coaches? Does the general manager and the coaches want the same things and are on the same page? Often quarterbacks drafted high aren’t busts, they merely landed on teams where the above answers were “no”.

Coaching is Everything.

To keep this brief, let’s jump to a biggest factor that seems to be overlooked by those weighing in: weapons.

Jacksonville doesn’t have any – skill positions on offense that can give a rookie quarterback confidence to make iffy throws because his tight end or wide receiver has good hands.

The Jaguars ranked first in dropped passes. Some of that can go to the passer, but some of it is lack of talent. That must change, Jax has to draft guys with good hands, including a running back that can catch.

The logic could be: “Great, let’s draft a quarterback plus the above and have them grow together!” Sounds perfect in theory. However, the reality is, WR’s and TE’s rarely, and I mean rarely, do well as rookies. The reason is because of the stem route, and the best way for rookies to grasp that is a veteran signal caller.

(If you want to learn more about stem routes and why they’re so important, click the link.)

If Dede Westbrook and a slew of rookies is all he has, he’s going to be in a tough spot. It’ll be the blind leading the blind. We saw that already with Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee.

A good veteran quarterback can help receivers and tight ends get better. They know the playbook well, know defensive schemes, often know the players they’re facing. He can give tips to his guys, be their guide on the field. That won’t happen with a rookie QB.

Rookies are at the mercy of his OC and his center. Yes, the center. I’ve written two articles about the OL, one simple and one more detailed. You can find them under offense. The entire Jaguars OL went down this season, leading to all the backups playing. IF the OL can stay healthy all season, a rookie QB will be ok in that department; if not, he’s in big trouble.

The Jaguars, knowing they need a slew of help on offense, may choose to sign a veteran and develop the skill guys so that in a year or two they can draft a quarterback into a team that has experienced players to help him. This would show that Dave Caldwell learned a lesson.

The flip side could be sign (pay) for veteran skill players and draft the rookie. The downfall to that is…the Jaguars will have a new offensive coaching staff.

For the future, it might be best if this new staff has a vet under center that they don’t need to babysit while they work on rookies. Doing this will set up the future so when they draft, that guy has a smooth functioning offense, one easier to learn behind.

  • a rookie needs a good OL
  • weapons
  • coaching stability
  • vets to help him learn

Until all those boxes are checked, the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback.

AFCS Week 10 Game Previews – stats, ref crews, injury reports, QB charts

AFCS Week 10 Game Previews

The Texans have a bye, so this week there are only two games in this AFCS Week 10 Game Previews. To say that the Jaguars must win and the Titans need to lose is an understatement. There will be no hope of winning a play off spot without wins throughout. If the Texans could stumble, that would best. Duh.

Patriots* (7-2) vs Titans (4-4) CBS

This game is in Nashville giving the Titans a slim chance because the refs should be more fair.

Referee Crew

patriots vs titans ref crew

Notable injury is to Gronk, but Sony Michel is back, so these two are washes. I’ve seen different reports on if Gronk is out, but it’s early, so will wait for an official statement. Also, no one ever believes their injury reports, so take them with a grain of salt.

An already beat-up Marcus Mariota will be down his tackle, which is where NE* will attack.

It’s tough muster up any kind of excitement for this game, I can’t stand either team and despise Brady*. How can anyone cheer for NE*? At this point, the AFC PO roads go through KC, LA (yes, said LAR because they could be the dark horse) and NE*. For Jacksonville, if  they were to win out, Titans winning just this game, wouldn’t be horrid to help knock NE* down.

KC is the team Jax would least want to face since they would have to play there in a tie. A tie vs NE* means Jax at home. Since winning the division is key, that means beating Pitt and so the same applies.

Moving on, the Titans defense has a chance because their defense (on a good day) isn’t bad and Tom Brady* beyond ten yards is looking suspect. His accuracy is very off this season; however, his receivers have been helping him out and he finds ways to pick defenses a part even though the zip isn’t there – like Peyton his ending years. His mind wins over strength.

Tennessee is 6th vs the pass, Jax gave the league the blueprint to beat them and the Titans may have the talent to do something similar in their house. They’re really good vs the rush and with Sony Michel back that may be key. Combine that with having 20 sacks and they have a chance. The way to beat Brady* is get in his face and bump him (I’d sack him, but if they touch him harder than a hip bump, they’ll get flagged).

When it comes to Mariota, his passing charts aren’t stellar, but he’s been hurt. New England is 28th vs the pass which could help him out; however, he’s got two hurt WR’s and a tackle out.

New England is 21st vs the run, but they’ve only allowed 3 TD’s and that’s big since Tennessee has five rushing TD’s and Mariota only has six passing. This offense has been one more of opportunity than a well-oiled machine.

When it comes to NE*, they’re 8th in passing and 9th in rushing. They also create turnovers, 11 interceptions, something the Titans don’t do well, they only have six.

Keys for Tennessee to get a win:

  1. hope their secondary finds a way to cover well enough giving them time to jam Brady*.
  2. they can run the ball
  3. Mariota runs

Keys for NE*

  1. contain Mariota
  2. play Patriot* football

Here’s the thing, NE* isn’t a speedy team, they beat you with their play calling. They love their 21 personnel and matching up Patterson (who is a true flex player) on the slowest linebacker. I don’t think TN is quite there, yet in speed and discipline to beat NE*.

Jaguars (3-5) vs Colts (3-5) CBS

Referee Crew

jaguars vs colts ref crew

The Jags injury report is smaller than it’s been in a while, but after a bye week, it should be. It is disconcerting that both TE’s (neither have more than a combined single game of experience) is on here. I just don’t understand their blasé attitude towards having no TE’s.

The good news is: no OL! Can they stay healthy is the biggest question because with a healthy line, we see good Bortles, without, we see the turnover machine. Combine that with two power backs and we could witness what was envisioned before the season was wrecked with injuries.

Meanwhile, the surging Colts are still dealing with injuries and a few of their players go off a week, only to pop back up the next. What’s to note is although they got Jack Doyle back, their other TE’s are out.

Ok, here’s some brass tacks: Jax run defense stinks, it’s allowing over 125 yards a game and almost a TD per outing. Their bread and butter was in the passing game with AJ Bouye. They were stingy with yards per pass and air TD’s.

These two teams on offense are polar opposites and if Bouye was playing, I’d say this could be a strong win. Also, since Indy is middle of the pack stopping run yards (but even with Jax in allowing TD’s), this would be a good match-up for a strong run first team.

However, do we know how Fournette and Hyde will do? How healthy is the OL, really? That’s what this game will come down to: can Jacksonville be the pass defending juggernaut and Fournette be at 2017 form?

If those two are yeses, then Jax could be on the receiving end of a win.

Must add this. Jalen Ramsey has to be a leader out there. If the DB’s aren’t communicating, missing assignments, he needs to channel some Ray Lewis and get in their face. Someone needs to be the leader of the secondary and it for dang sure isn’t Barry, drink until 4am, Church.

Looking at Indy, they’ve really shored up their pass defense which isn’t good news for Bortles if that OL can’t give him the time he needs. To me, I’d try to come out passing because Indy will be expecting the run.

Test them. See if they prepared for a heavy run defense and maybe Bortles can surprise them because that is going to be crucial if the Jags’ secondary isn’t dominant. Jacksonville can’t be spending seven minutes a drive for a rush TD and Luck throws a TD in two minutes.

The way to stop Indy is for the secondary to play man as often as they can buying time for the DL to sack him, hit him. They’ve got to take away the pass game to even things out.

It would seem prudent to play a safety high and stop the short pass which is where getting DJ Hayden could be a huge help (but keep reading). Luck is among the worst at air yards, Indy’s dink and dunk game is the short pass which is averaging 6.4 air yards. The guy throws 4 TD’s in a game with 156 yards.

He’s a surgeon in reading the field and knowing exactly where to go with the ball. That’s the bad news to leaving one safety, he lulls defenses into playing short and then lobs one deep.

Based on that, Jax will need to get very creative in the looks they show Luck. They’ve got to confuse him.

Even though Jax stinks at run stopping, better that than allowing him to pass. Speaking of which, clearly he’s a GOD in the RZ and that is what must be stopped, letting him get there.

I debated posting Bortles passing charts because they’re pitiful, but they include his running and that should be made a part of the game plan. RPO the snot out of them today. Oh, have to add that the receivers drop a lot and that does affect his numbers.

Keys to winning for Jags:

  1. defense: white on rice for the receivers
  2. DL needs to get in his face early and often
  3. OL needs to block, give BB confidence to throw

Keys to winning for Indy:

  1. pick on injured Telvin Smith
  2. pick on Patmon
  3. play press because Jax receivers rarely get separation

From the Jax coaches, we need to see some aggressive play calling out there. The season is on the line, go for broke.

AFCS Week 8 Game Previews – stats, referee crews, passing charts, injury reports

AFCS Week 8 Game Previews

Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts have bye weeks, so this preview is only the Texans and Titans. Unfortunately for the Jags, based on stats and watching the two teams, it looks like the Texans will win in this AFCS Week 8 Game Preview.

Texans (5-3) vs Broncos (3-5) CBS

Referee Crew

Texans week 9 ref crew

The Texans are still beat-up, but somehow still find ways to win. Clowney has been on a tear lately, so his injury hurts. Pun intended.

The Broncos have a couple of key injuries that Watson should be able to use and tear the Broncos up.

The Broncos operate efficiently off their run game and while Lindsey has been their bell cow, Freeman hasn’t been a schlub, but add him with a banged up Janovich and more just got dumped on Case Keenum.

That’s a bad thing if you know stats and his is ranked 29th for TD-INT ratio. The last thing Denver needs is more throwing from their $25M man. In addition, they’re down a starting and back-up CB and their starting SS.

For the Texans, their secondary is also banged up, but Keenum shouldn’t strike fear, he’s thrown an INT in every game he’s played, ranking him dead last in that dubious category.

Denver is third in rushing, Houston 5th; however, the Broncos have 9 rushing TD’s compared to the Texans’ 4. That’s the ball game right there. Keep them out of the red zone where they score and game over.

Houston is 15-7 in TD-INT, so Denver’s secondary is going to have a long day. Strangely, the Texans’ defense is the exact same. They’ve allowed 15 passing TD’s and intercepted 7.

Bottom line, this is a bad match-up for the Broncos because Houston has only allowed two rushing TD’s, the very motor Denver must have to win. In fact, their OC this week said he wants to run the ball even more.

In addition, Demaryius Thomas was recently dumped and one can imagine he’s not too happy and won’t mind pumping the Texans with everything he knows which is everything.

Sure, the Broncos know all about DT, but who are they going to put on him? He may be a little slower in his step, but he’s good route runner, he’s big and if they cover him, that’s an open guy elsewhere.

Denver is ranked 28th against the run and 16th against the pass. With their secondary gasping for breath, doubtful that number increases. This is bad news for Jaguar fans who need a Texans loss.

No comment on these passing charts because they tell the story of who’s safer with the ball and maybe a harbinger of the day to come.

Titans (3-4) vs Cowboys (3-4) Monday 8:15 ESPN

Referee Crew

The Titans look pretty healthy sad to say.

Cowboys are a little banged up, also sad to say.

This is another game the Jags need some help with a loss by the Titans. Fortunately, this one seems more doable than the Texans game. While Dallas will be short-handed, their secondary, which is second against the pass is healthy.

They’ve only allowed 8 passing TD’s. Not to be left behind, TN has only allowed 9, so the passing defenses on these two teams are evenly matched.

When it comes to stopping the run, both teams are also close – TN has allowed 3, Dallas, 4. Both teams are also behind the curve when it comes to giveaways. Each are in the negative.

Which means this game will truly come down to who turns the ball over, least.

When it comes to total offense, both teams are way down in the dregs of the awful. Both teams are 30 and 31st in passing – they like to pass to the other team. Prescott is 50-50.

Tennessee is worse, but they had Gabbert for a couple of games and a hurt Mariota.

The only difference that separates these teams is Zeke Elliot and even he isn’t burning up the charts. I like to use TD stats over yards because who cares if you can throw and run between the 30’s if when you get in the red zone, you get a FG or zip?

Some teams have a lot of empty yards, so it’s the points that’s worth looking at. The cowboys have five rushing TD’s and Tennessee has three. Kind of pitiful.

In case you were wondering, both teams have missed two field goals and made all their XP’s, so the kicking game may not be a factor.

Neither QB is tearing it up, but with the game in Dallas and Dak doing better with the ball than Mariota, the edge goes to the Cowboys.

 

 

Jaguars/Eagles and Colts/Raider game preview – stats, reffing crew, passing charts and more

Because the Texans played Thursday night and the Titans have a bye week, this AFCS south Jaguars/Eagles and Colts/Raider game preview is short. In case you’re just dying to read the Texans one, click HERE for the analysis.

Eagles (3-4) vs Jaguars (3-4) 9:30 AM NFL Network LONDON

Referee Crew

jaguars:eagles ref crew

The London games are a big deal to the NFL because they’re a cash cow, so this crew should be fairly good, a change of pace for the mostly bad ones who’ve officiated at all the Jaguars home games.

The Eagles are in pretty dang good shape because they still have actual starters (healthy ones) in their line-up. Below is a good list half way through the season.

The Jaguars, on the other hand is literally missing 1/2 their starters on IR. To make matter worse, AJ Bouye is out. And they put LB Donald Payne on IR. They added CB Dee Delaney from the practice squad to the 53.

The pundits outside of Jacksonville keep freaking out about the team as is they’re losing with a healthy team. As if Bortles has had his WR1, RB1, TE1 and LT1 to work with. I’m sick of other teams getting a whoa is me for their beat-up teams and Jax, gets a, WHAT HAPPENED IN JACKSONVILLE?!

Injuries are what happened and the players are really bummed because they know neither side of the ball is playing with anywhere near a championship roster. To make matters worse, there’s nothing that can be done, so it’s a helpless feeling.

Their IR list would make any team in the NFL a contender and they know it.

The Jaguars have an excuse for their cliff dive, but the Eagles do not. I’m not sure what’s going on there other than a Super Bowl hangover is real. They’re a team that seems as if it isn’t focused.

The good and bad news is that can be fixed – the bad news is it could happen in London. Philly can afford to miss the playoffs this season because their ring buys them time, for the Jags, their fans got a taste of winning after so long without and they’re not happy.

A win would be huge, keeping them in contention for the AFCS and maybe they go make one big trade by the deadline for A *#ING TIGHT END. If they lose, we could see a fire sale to set up for the draft next season.

3-5 and two games back from the Texans (and in a tie for last if the Colts win) is bleak. 4-4 and getting a bye keeps hope alive with maybe a 10-6 record.

Moving on from the what ifs, to what the is. When it comes to passing TD’s, Philly has 11 and Jax, 10. The difference is, Bortles has 9 interceptions and the Eagles only have two. That’s the game right there.

The rush per yards for Jax is better, believe it or not considering that TJ Yeldon has had to be the leading back, but Philly has 6 TD’s to Jags’ 2. Jacksonville is first at allowing passing TD’s (only 6); however, that was with AJ Bouye and a healthier secondary that’s going to be fielded on Sunday. Not to mention a sober and rested Barry Church.

Meanwhile, Philly has allowed 10, so if the offense can get anything going with new addition, Carlos Hyde, the play-action pass could be where it’s seen. Philly typically plays a safety high and Bortles is able to find the holes left because of it. If the WR’s can catch the ball, they have a chance to put up points.

Philly has kept a low 4 rushing TDs and Jax is at 6. While I’d say the Eagles should take advantage of the Jags poor rushing defense, missing so many in the secondary may make them go to the air and rack up points.

With linebackers now an issue, Jax defense is vulnerable across the board. Actually, with Barry Church and Ronnie Harrison being complete douches and putting fun over the team, I think we lose. Breathing fire as I just read what they did while writing this.

Here’s the bottom line: we could see a role reversal IF the offense cuts out the turnovers, and Jeremy Parnell pulls his drunk head out of his ass because the Eagles defense isn’t tops at anything. They’re a good team for the Jags to face and if Bouye wasn’t hurt, Church and Harrison idiots, I’d feel comfortable in them winning this “home” game.

This week 7 passing chart is sad, but will say, the incompletions were due to many drops over bad throws.

borltes passing charts week 8

Wentz is clearly a better passer, one who would’ve been slowed with the defense from the first four weeks, but this one? Tough to see.

wentz passing charts week 8

Carlos Hyde has the weight of all Jaguars hopes and dreams on his shoulders because without him, this run-first team is DOA. And clearly, the defense doesn’t care based on a night of drinking and arrests in London.

Colts (2-5) vs Raiders (1-5) 4:05 CBS

Referee Crew

colts:raiders ref crew

This isn’t up to date as Cody has been felled with illness (I swear I didn’t give it him), but I believe all the DNP’s are out and Jack Doyle is a go.

For a bunch of senior citizens, the Raiders are looking in pretty good shape. Maybe that’s the key. However, if they had a pass rusher they could win this game, but Andrew Luck without pressure is like ringing the TD dinner bell.

Oakland lost Beast mode and that’s a huge blow since they were already at the bottom for rushing TDs. They have company down there with Indy, but Carr has only thrown 7 TD’s to Luck’s 20.

Yes, 20 and that’s the game. Tough to write more than that. Oakland is 19th in allowing passing TDs and second to last for best QB rating. For those who own Andrew Luck in FF, they must be dancing, it’s tough to see the men in black and silver slowing hi down.

For defense, Indy is tied for eighth in passing TD’s allowed which isn’t good news for Derek Carr.

When it comes to stopping the rush, neither team is burning down the house; however, neither is burning down the house with their backs.

carr passing stats week 8

In between getting sacked last week, Carr threw as far as my grandma can. Luck has receivers who drop a lot of his passes, so these charts don’t show that.

luck passing stats week 8

There’s just not a lot to say about these two teams. Both aren’t very good, but one has a top notch quarterback. The other is dependent on scheme and it’s clear that Carr is struggling with yet another coaching change.

On paper and for the eye test, the Colts have the edge which I wish wasn’t the case because if they win and the Jags lose, which based on recent behavior they should, a Colts win puts Jags in a tie for last.

Everything I wrote about injury excuses goes out the window when at least three starters go out drinking and staying up late before a game. That attitude says they don’t give a damn. That’s a losing mentality and a cancer in a locker room. If Doug Marrone doesn’t cut it out, this season is OVER.

AFC South Week 2 game reports. Read their stats, injury reports, and passing charts.

AFC South Week 2 game reports

AFC South Week 2 Game Reports

In order to get a feel for the teams we will play, I’ll be watching our divisional foes and who they face (especially if they’re in the NFCE) each week. This week was tortuous as the rest of the games were messes. Good football was tough to be be found.

After watching these three games, the Jacksonville Jaguars are clearly the cream of the crop. Will this continue? Who knows, it’s only two games, but they seem far more efficient and better coached than their divisional rivals.

Texans 17 (0-2) vs Titans 20 (1-1)

Only 12% of teams at 0-2 go on to the play-offs, which is not good news for the Texans. Their penalties were an issue as they came at the worst times. They started the game behind as the result of a fake punt going 66 yds for a TD, which put them in catch-up mode all game.

A big issue for Houston was a new left tackle that didn’t help a porous O-line which looked dreadful. Flags, sacks (4/21), hits. 11-88 on penalties.  However, Houston won the stats, looked better, but that first TD killed them. Plus Watson’s RZ interception, which was a terrible decision on his part.

To make up for the O-line they used six man protection, but that limits a receiver; luckily for Deshaun Watson he has Will Fuller (8-9 113 yards, 14.1 avg), and Hopkins (11-6, 110, 18.3 avg) .

Watson was inconsistent with some terrible throws (mostly from bad choices), but some very good ones. They suffered a missed FG in the game as well which is how much they lost by.

As far as the Titans, they too had a new tackle and Blaine Gabbert starting. He was ok, more consistent than Watson, but nothing special. In fact, the Titans used the wild cat formation with Derrick Henry four times in a row, and a fifth time with Henry throwing a pass. They tried it later in the game, too.

Using the wild cat that many times shows they don’t trust the QB. Reports say Marcus Mariota has issues with full feeling in his hand since his thumb injury.

The lone Gabbert TD came from an RPO play. to Taiwan Taylor on a screen pass that he ran in for 17 yards. They resorted to a lot of gimmicks, which worked, but to say the Titans looked good would be far from the case. Not to mention, it isn’t sustainable. They’re facing Jacksonville on Sunday and that defense will eat them alive.

This was one of those games where it was a mess to watch and without Derrick Henry and penalties at the wrong time by the Texans, it would be a L. Which is sad because I like Mark Vrabel and Matt LeFluer, but their offense was anemic and the defense allowed 437 yards.

  • 1st Downs HT 21 TT 15
  • Rushing HT 6 TT 7
  • Passing HT 13 TT 7
  • 3rd Downa HT 5-11-45%  TT 5-15-33%
  • Total Yards HT 437 TT 283
  • Offensive Plays HT 62 TT 57
  • Yards per play HT 7.0 TT 5.0

INJURIES

Titans

David Fluellen RB (groin)

Colts 21 (1-1 ) vs Redskins 9 (1-1)

Redskins vs the Colts was another game where the winner was not anything to write home about as it was about mistakes rather than better play. I will say this though about the Colts, while they weren’t anything special, they did look crisp. The same cannot be said about the Redskins.

How Andrew Luck played last week continued to his one: almost all throws ten yards or under, and if Washington had better inside linebackers they may have stopped him. Also, they didn’t rush him often.

On offense, Alex Smith reverted to check down Charlie when he saw his receivers drop crucial passes at the worst moments. But, if I were to lay the blame at any one group, it would be the O-Line. They were pitiful.

It seemed like Smith often had little time and their run blocking was poor. When Jay Crowder is the leading rusher with 29 yards, things are bad. Add to that, Jay Gruden did not change up the play calls when he saw the run game was DOA.

There were sloppy tackles on defense. I’d say all the crispness the ‘skins had last week wilted on the road, because what I saw was a team that didn’t seem motivated.

DJ Swearinger intercepted Luck twice and still Washington couldn’t score a single TD. That’s pitiful. I’d say the bottom line was third downs, they just couldn’t get them. Indy was 9-16-56% and Washington was 5-15-33%. 33% is how you lose no matter if you have all the yards unless those yards are inside the RZ.

3-3 and 0-2 is why Indy won. They didn’t do a whole lot between the 30’s, but they converted when it mattered. There just isn’t much to say when one QB out does another and still loses, especially when he has the ball six more minutes.

The Colts looked better than they have in a long time, but all Jacksonville will need to do is take away the short passes inside and make them run and they should win. The Redskin’s receivers dropping balls at the worst times is what did them in, not so much Indy’s defense.

INJURIES

Redskins

Rob Kelley  RB (toe)

Brandon Scherff G (knee)

Trent Williams T (knee)

Colts

Hassan Ridgeway DT (calf)

Jordan Wilkins RB (ankle)

Quincy Wilson CB (concussion)

Patriots* 20 (1-1) vs Jaguars 31 (2-0 baby)

What a game!
I was there and it was so freaking fun to see, not just because of the win, but because a) it was a win vs the Patriots* b) if we see each other in the playoffs, home field advantage will matter and c) that team Sunday was so balanced.

That’s the key to going far: balance. The defense smothered Tom Brady* who was off all day, sometimes because of pressure coming at him, but sometimes because he was seeing ghosts. The ghosts of heat shimmering from the stadium as he sweltered in the hottest game in 15 years. Ambulances were carting Patriot fans away and in fact, after half time, many didn’t return. Either in dejection or to get away from our nice summer weather.

The offense was aggressive and without Leonard Fournette, OC Nathaniel Hackett let Bortles sail. And boy did the BOAT ever. 4 TDS, 377 yards. He was docked for an INT but it went through Austin Sefarian-Jenkins’ hands, otherwise it would’ve been a pristine outing. Beyond the passing game though, Bortles gave everyone the giggles as he laid into defenders–twice, on runs. Flat out leveled Deatrich Wise Jr. (I believe it was him) who left with a finger injury.

The first drive for both teams was indicative of their whole game…one sputtered out and the other scored. Half way through the 4th quarter and the Pats* wide receivers had a total of 38 yards. That’s how NE’s* day went.

When a team has 71% third down conversions, good things happen — like wins against a team with a lot of rings. The only item that needs to be cleaned up is penalties (again). 71 yards of them. The only “silver” lining is most weren’t at bad times

Keelen Cole made a catch I’m sure you’ve seen, Corey Grant and TJ Yeldon combined to make up for the missing Leo and Josh Wells filled in nicely for Cam Robinson.

Look at these stats, 27 first downs and 14 third downs. Stats typically only give 1/2 the story, but when a team gets 22 passing first downs, it means they’re aggressive and clicking.

Finally, have to bring up that the Jags used a safety and a linebacker (rotating which ones) to cover Rob Gronkgowski. Which is pretty ballsy. By using them, it allowed the corners to cover receivers hence the lack of receiving yards going into the 4th.

 

INJURY STATUS

Jaguars

Calais Campbell (eye)

Cam Robinson (ACL-IR)

Donte Moncrief (knee) *he looked fine after the game

Pats*

Patrick Chung S (concussion)

Trey Flowers DL (concussion)

Deatrich Wise Jr. DL (finger)

 

Malik Jackson, DJ Chark, Niles Paul and Allen Lazard gave back to the community

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. On their “day off”, several Jacksonville Jaguars players used their time to give back to the community. For Malik Jackson it was important to him to meet and show his appreciation first responders.

DJ Chark, Niles Paul and Allen Lazard stopped by the Jericho School for Children with Autism and spent time the students.

Jericho School for Children with Autism

 

Stress Fractures, how they occur, the types and the treatment.

Dr Sullivan explains sports injuries

Player X has a stress fracture or Player Y is out of practice because of persistent pain.  This type of thing is heard frequently throughout training camp, preseason and the regular season.  I thought I would explain the concept of a stress fracture before we talked about specific types of stress fractures that occur.

A stress fracture is an overuse injury. It occurs when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock that occurs from the repetitive activity of practice and game. Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the bone causing a tiny crack called a stress fracture. Generally stress fractures occur at sites where the muscle has been pulled away from the bone to which it is attached.

When I explain this to patients, I use the example of gluing something and inadvertently gluing your fingers together.  When you pull your fingers apart breaking the bond of the glue, you create the same type of stressors that a stress fracture does when the muscle is ripped away from the bone.  While the glue example only hurts for a second or two, a stress fracture can result in pain for 6-8 weeks while the muscle heals itself and reattaches the damaged fibers to the bone.

The simple tearing away of the muscle is a class 1 stress fracture.  With proper treatment, which is basically rest and limited stress to the area, the severity of the injury does not progress.  However, continuing to play through the pain can result in an actual microfracture of the bone itself.  Needless to say, this is a more bothersome injury.
Most stress fractures occur in the weight bearing bones of the lower leg and the foot. However, location is more associated with type of activity and certain injuries are more often associated with specific activities.

Particular locations of stress fractures are commonly associated with particular activities.  Metatarsal, Navicular, Pars Articularis, Fibular and Tibial fractures are commonly seen in football players.  Baseball players who experience Ulnar Collateral ligament injury (Tommy John) often also experience Olecranon stress fractures.  A grade 1 Lisfranc injury in the foot is associated with a stress fracture of the 1st and or 2nd metatarsal.

Pars Articularis is a stress fracture in the articulation area between the vertebrae in the spine. This could be what Derek Wolfe was suffering from, or in addition to another condition/injury.

Stress fractures are the one time a woman doesn’t want to be superior to a man.  Stress fractures in female athletes are 3 times more common in females than in males.  There are a number of theories why this is true, but the most common thought is that a lack of adequate calcium in diet can lead to an increased incidence of stress fractures. The female athlete triad: eating disorders (bulimia or anorexia), amenorrhea (infrequent menstrual cycle), and osteoporosis is a condition that has been associated with the increased rate of stress fractures in female athletes.

The most common symptom associated with stress fractures is pain exacerbated by activity and relieved with rest.  Stress fractures are difficult to diagnose because plain film x-rays are usually negative when pain first occurs.  Often times adequate treatment is delayed because appropriate diagnosis is delayed days, even weeks because the only symptom is persistent pain and sometimes mild to moderate swelling at the pain site.

Persistent pain should lead to repeat x-rays which may or may not show bone remodeling (healing), if persistent pain does not diagnose problem. MRI or nuclear bone scans maybe used to show specific localized areas of injury that may not appear on typical x-rays.

Once the diagnosis of a stress fracture is made, then comes treatment.  The most important treatment is rest. Individuals need to rest from the activity that caused the stress fracture, and engage in a pain-free activity during the six to eight weeks it takes most stress fractures to heal.  If the activity that caused the stress fracture is resumed too quickly,  harder-to-heal stress fractures can develop. Re-injury also could lead to chronic problems where the stress fracture might never heal properly, this is called persistent nonunion.

How are stress fractures prevented? Common sense is #1 – If it hurts don’t do that thing that makes it hurt.  Fans often get upset when an athlete on their favorite team is held out of a game or practice because of pain.  They think the athlete is being a wuss or is “soft” and out of condition.  This is not true.  Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong.  Ignoring pain is just asking for a worse injury to occur.
Here are some tips developed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to help prevent stress fractures:

  • When participating in any new sports activity, set incremental goals. For example, do not immediately set out to run five miles a day; instead, gradually build up your mileage on a weekly basis.  In football players this goal is met thru the gradual build up of activity during OTA’s.  It helps explain why athletes start out with strength and conditioning before getting to on the field activities.
  • Cross-training — alternating activities that accomplish the same fitness goals — can help to prevent injuries like stress fractures. Instead of running every day to meet cardiovascular goals, run on even days and bike on odd days. Add some strength training and flexibility exercises to the mix for the most benefit.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Make sure you incorporate calcium and Vitamin D-rich foods in your meals. Most people assume this means drinking more milk, but calcium is found in several foods you may not be ware of these include Kale, broccoli, figs, sardines, salmon,and black beans
  • Use the proper equipment.
  • Do not wear old or worn running shoes.
  • If pain or swelling occurs, immediately stop the activity and rest for a few days. If continued pain persists, seek medical evaluation.
  • It is important to remember that if you recognize the symptoms early and treat them appropriately, you can return to sports at your normal playing level.

By now everyone who reads these articles know how much I like car analogies.   A simple example of a stress fracture in a car is driving with a broken shock.  While usually the car will still roll and get you from point A to point B, it may not be the smoothest of rides.  Ignoring the busted shock long term can lead to premature tire wear, brake wear and tear and other more serious damage to the cars suspension.  The same is true in athletes.

Ignoring persistent pain can result in longer periods of nonparticipation and in some cases has resulted in premature ends to athletes competitive careers.

September 5th is Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Day

September 5th is Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Day

On September 5th, Jacksonville mayor, Lenny Curry declared it, Tom Coughlin Jay Fund day. In 20 years they’ve helped over 5,000 families, and donated around $10 million dollars in northeast Florida. From their web site:

Jay was a special young man who developed leukemia while a member of Coach Coughlin’s team at Boston College. In the eight months between Jay’s diagnosis and the day he lost his battle with cancer, the Coughlin family saw first hand the physical, emotional and financial strains the illness caused the McGillis Family.

After going through the tragic events with Jay’s family, Coach Coughlin vowed that if he ever had the chance, he would create a way to help families with children battling cancer.

Coach Coughlin kept his vow and started this foundation to be there in Jay’s honor. Since 1996 the Jay Fund has evolved in size and scope. We have helped over 5,000 families and given away over $10 million in grants helping thousands of families in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area.

IN HONOR OF JAY MCGILLIS (1970-1992)

Make sure to visit these sponsors and help give back.

Why the Jaguars

I’m writing this to be up front and honest with the readers. While my family and I have lived in the Jacksonville area since 1994 and have been to many games in the following 22+ years (see my t-shirt with the outlawed logo), my first love was for another team.

I grew up in South Florida to Dolphins’ season ticket holders; however, I picked my team 40 years ago and didn’t look back…until 2015. That’s the year Denver fans boo’d Peyton Freakin’ Manning.

We’ve been to Jags games when Bortles threw interceptions and even had one go off a cleat, but never heard a boo. In fact, in 22 years, the only boo’s we’ve heard from the fans was towards the other team and once at Jack Del Rio (deserved). Yes, 22 years of games because while Denver was my first love, the Jags were a close second. In fact, my brother is a first year season ticket holder, a loyal fan through a couple decades of misery.

Which leads me to why I dumped the Broncos, a team I wrote about for a couple of years, loved, sweated and cried over. Professionalism. Integrity. The Jaguars, their media and fans have it, the Broncos don’t.

After having an up-close encounter with Denver, their coaches, team make-up, their in-house media and fans, it became apparent they make the Bills fans at the play off game look like nice people. I won’t address the appalling media surrounding Denver.

Remember when Tom Coughlin was fired and Wayne Weaver seemed to check out as an owner? How the Jaguars became stale, the media became belligerent and there was this sense that the Jags were being left behind? That’s Broncos Country times ten. When Shad Khan bought the team, that all went away.

The Khans brought fun back to Jacksonville. They brought professionalism, cutting edge thoughts, technology and while they needed to go through two head coaches, they found their men in Doug Marrone and Coughlin. Plus, props to Dave Caldwell who’s done a good job drafting.

While some may say I’ve jumped on this bandwagon because of last season’s winning, the truth is, the wins came from the above paragraph. What I love, why I kicked a lifetime team to the curb, is the way the Jaguars operate. As a longtime Navy wife, that leadership style gets my blood going.

In May, I had a gruesome injury that could have killed or left me without a lower leg. That’s when I realized that life is too short and fragile to waste it on dysfunctional things and people.

Even during the dark times, one thing the Jags fans never lost was their sense of loyalty, fairness and honor. Maybe it’s because there are so many veterans here, but fans know there is something wrong with booing a player and booing one before he takes the field. I find it difficult to believe that the Khans, Tad Dickman, Coughlin, Caldwell or Marrone would ever allow that to happen. Or allow local media to destroy a player.

Call me a bandwagon fan, I will own it, but know this, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be my last team because this is home. This is where I belong. In the South, with southern fans, southern charm and writing about a franchise that is run with military precision and leads the NFL in innovation.

HOORAH and Go Jags!

 

 

I’LL ALWAYS CHEER, NEVER BOO A JAGS PLAYER OR THE TEAM! 

Scouting Quarterbacks: read what the NFL is looking at

In this NFL Scouting series, we will cover each position group. The first will be scouting quarterbacks. In the real report I used, there was pictures of the quarterback in various movements, with comments about each. In order to keep anonymity for the Scout, I’m only using the words, no photos of the QB the below, or the handwritten notes used.

What’s fascinating about about the two page report is how detailed it is. When scouting quarterbacks, not only do they put together these analysts, but visit games, watch film, analyze them at the combine, any bowls and often host them at their facilities.

They break down film, have them do whiteboard work, talk to coaches, etc. Choosing a quarterback isn’t usually some whim, it’s a long process based on reports like below. The actual one below is based on, had photos showing:

  • stride
  • hit & throw
  • weight transfer
  • low take-away
  • ball sails position
  • level throw
  • throwing plane
  • ball carry during drop & pocket movement (*compact/2 hands on ball)
  • frame throws: shoulders, hips, lead leg aligned w target
  • slightly flexed front leg
  • high extended over the top release
  • daylight in the grip+adequate hand size
  • compact lead arm
  • hip torque
  • accuracy on the move

There were lines often on the photos showing the above notations.

After the snap how was his:

  • pocket awareness
  • vision
  • locate 2nd WR
  • force into coverage, release quickness
  • arm strength
  • quick/compact vs elongated
  • smooth fluid vs jerky
  • anticipation
  • short stroke
  • change release point
  • technician in mechanics
  • accuracy, short & long
  • touch
  • grip
  • resets quickly
  • balance
  • throws on the run
  • pocket mobility
  • lateral pocket movement
  • weight transfer
  • stride (short =2″-6″)

There’s more that they look at pre-snap.

  • leadership
  • poise
  • judgement
  • defense recognition
  • pre-snap reads
  • primary/secondary WRs
  • blitz recognition
  • audibles
  • who call pro?
  • redirect protections
  • respect for the football

In the pocket:

  • feel for rush
  • pocket use
  • slide/step up
  • strength in pocket
  • make 1st rusher miss
  • temperament
  • squirrelly in the pocket

We’re not done yet on scouting quarterbacks. More items they look for:

  • catchable ball
  • make WR adjust
  • throw away from coverage
  • drive ball into tight coverage
  • hit WR in stride
  • trajectory
  • TOUCH: throwing angles
  • velocity
  • improvisation
  • finds passing lanes
  • trusts his arm
  • leadership-ability to command
  • voice inflection
  • knowledge of the game
  • game manager
  • clock management

Grades on these types of throws:

  • go
  • seam
  • shallow cross
  • dig
  • out
  • deep out
  • comeback
  • quick slant
  • bubble screen
  • check down

Here are the types of notes that can be made when scouting quarterback:

  • Touch, but power on his 8 cut through traffic. Elusive, quick, nice touch on the run. Eyes downfield on scramble. Power runner, looks for contact. Tough kid that’s quick. Very accurate on the run. Don’t know about pocket awareness. Gets to 2nd level well. Tough player. Needs to get stronger. Eyes downfield on scramble.
  • Steps up nicely in the pocket. Elusive. Big arm. Puts ball where only his guys can catch it. Gets away with some high school dare balls.
  • Bullet for arm. A little too reliant on arm strength. Throws off back foot sometimes. Confident. His highlights are based most off of 4 vert concepts. Quick feet. Can buy time on the move. Ball comes out high. Nice 3 ball. Stands tall and delivers strikes. Uses frame well. Drops ball well into coverage.
  • Long motion. Electric. Nice job looking off safeties. Would like to see more reads/routes, but system doesn’t seem to allow for it. Further evaluation needed. Athletic enough to play in both a pro and spread offense.

There you have it, what scouts look at, the type of items they look for and some notes they’ll make. Obviously, the bulleted items above will have numbers or notes and on their QB eval sheet will have many hand scribbled notes.

Ankle Sprain and the athlete: Read Part I

Dr Sullivan explains sports injuries

An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries that sports fans hear about each season.  Some athletes are out a week or two and others are out for months  Fans start thinking a player is injury prone, soft, or some other misinformation simply because not all ankle sprains are created equal.

This post is going to be done in two separate parts to try to clarify the difference between a low or common ankle sprain and a high ankle sprain.  Hopefully, once you finish reading these posts, it will be a little easier to understand, especially before we start seeing news about ankle sprains occurring during training camp.

This type of ankle sprain is what most people have experienced at least once in their life. You step wrong, your foot comes down funky, and bam your ankle hurts and perhaps swells. 80% of all ankle sprains of this type are what is known as inversion sprains.

What does this mean? It means the foot and ankle are twisted in such a way that the bottom of the foot is facing the other leg rather than the ground.  This puts stress on the lateral ligaments of the ankle resulting in pain and swelling on the lateral (outside) of the ankle.

The other 20% of common ankle sprains result from eversion of the foot and ankle, which means the foot and ankle is twisted in such a way that the bottom of the foot is facing away from the other leg.  This motion puts stress on the medial ligaments of the ankle and results in pain and swelling in the medial (inside) of the ankle.

Low ankle sprains can occur for several reasons including walking or running on an uneven surface, falling down resulting in your body weight being unevenly distributed between your legs. It can also happen when participating in sporting activities which require rolling/twisting of the foot and ankle or rapid changes in direction and speed of the athlete.

Another way that an ankle gets sprained is when athletes are playing in close quarters with others and the athlete’s foot or ankle gets stepped or fallen on by someone else on the field.

Most ankle sprains of this type are minor and with simple treatment full function and a resolution of pain is possible in just a short time. These sprains are graded mild, moderate or severe, with most being mild or moderate in severity.
In a professional athlete, a mild sprain can often be treated simply by applying additional support through taping and the athlete can return to play.

Moderate and severe ankle sprains require more care to prevent the development of chronic instability and the risk for re-injury. Moderate and severe sprains are usually treated with braces/walking boots or short temporary casts to provide support during the initial recovery period to prevent further injury.

Treatment of common ankle sprains usually resolve with RICE. Not the stuff we eat, but Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  The goal of treatment is to let the body heal the ligament damage itself and to maintain range of motion in the joint to decrease the chance of re-injury.

Most ankle sprains are better after 1-2 weeks and even the most severe ones that resulted from a complete tear of the ligaments in the ankle resolve with conservative therapy after 6-12 weeks.  Surgery is rarely needed to treat common ankle sprains and is only considered when pain and swelling have failed to resolve after months of conservative therapy.
Since I love analogies to everyday things when I am explaining medical problems to non-medical audiences, a common ankle sprain is a flat tire on your car.  As long as it is flat the car won’t roll.  Fix the flat and the car is as good as new.

In the next part of this ankle sprain discussion I will discuss high ankle sprains.  This is actually not an ankle injury despite the name and to use the car analogy again, this is like having a car with a busted axle. Not as easy to fix on your car or in an athlete. Stay tuned!