3 Losers through 2 Weeks of NFL Free Agency

3 Losers through 2 Weeks of NFL Free Agency

Every offseason, no matter the sport, has teams that improve and fill the holes they need to, and there are others that just sit back and trust their process, and those are teams we generally call losers. However, this offseason, we have seen certain teams, talented ones too, purge assets like never before, for what reasons I don’t know. It seems like nobody is safe anymore in today’s NFL, no matter how talented of a player or a team one is. These 3 teams definitely fell onto that list. Here are my 3 offseason losers so far.

Minnesota Vikings

So you extended Kirk Cousins for 2 more years? After the kind of year he had in 2019, itmakes sense. However, I will ask the Vikings the same question Gamora asked Thanos inAvengers: Infinity War, and that is “what did it cost?” And Thanos’ answer is similar to minewhen judging the Vikings offseason, and that is “everything.” While I may be exaggerating a bit,they did lose a lot, especially on defense. Their defensive line has been formidable for a longtime, but now it took a hit. 3 years after losing talented defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd to amicrofracture surgery that paralyzed a nerve in his knee and hence ending his football career,now they lose both Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen. Joseph was already set to be a freeagent, and at age 31, they replaced him fine with the younger and at this point, better version ofhim in Michael Pierce, who’s 27. However, Everson Griffen, who has been a very consistent anddominant pass rusher for a long time with the Vikings, having 3 double digit sack seasons and 3others with 8 sacks, will be more difficult to replace. While they do save the $13 million in thecap space, the production of Griffen may be lost, and while Danielle Hunter is a dynamic passrusher in his own right, with 3 double digit sack seasons of his own, a lot of his production alsocame as a result of Griffen being very good on the right side of the line, and vice versa. Now,Hunter will see more double teams, which could make it harder for a smaller pass rusher, withHunter standing at 6’5” but just 252 pounds. Can you trust Ifeadi Odenigbo and StevenWeatherly to match the production Griffen did to give Hunter those opportunities in one-on-onesituations? Not going to trust it. While they did well saving the money, it doesn’t seem evidentthe Vikings have spent it well either, and it will be tough to find a player as good as Griffen infree agency for that price.

However, it wasn’t just their defensive line that took a hit. That secondary does not lookgood either. Outside of Mike Hughes, they have lost many of the cornerbacks that have beenmainstays on that defense for the last 6 years. They cut Trae Waynes, Mackenzie Alexander,and Xavier Rhodes, and strangely put the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris for $15 millionafter only one good season. Even though much of those corners didn’t live up to their first roundprojections, Waynes has still been a decent rotational guy between the #2 cornerback spot andthe slot corner spot, and Alexander got better year-to-year despite underwhelming. Waynes wasa little penalty-prone for my liking, but is balanced besides that, with decent speed and goodphysicality for his size, and was a decent #2 corner. Again, he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t aliability either. As for Rhodes, he was one of the best corners in football from 2015-17, when hewas as physical and lockdown as it gets. He had a down year this year, fine, but that shouldn’tmean you should just cut him. In a pass-happy and offensive league, cornerbacks have become more of a premium, and a lot harder to find, especially physical corners like Rhodes at 6’ 1” and218 pounds. With already having offensive line issues and now pass rush issues, creating moreholes is never a good thing for an already talented team. Now, you leave an alreadyinjury-prone Mike Hughes as your best option with nothing beyond that that’s trustworthy. Yikes.

Finally, there was them trading Stefon Diggs. I didn’t like this, but also didn’t hate it asmuch as the previous cuts the Vikings made on defense, because at least they got decent valueback for him. Normally when players make it public they want out, that will drop the value.However, the Vikings still received a first round pick from the Bills, along with a 5th and 6throunder this year, and a 4th in 2021. However, what it does is, similarly to what I was sayingwith Danielle Hunter, will put more double teams on Adam Theilen. Unless they take a receiverwith one of those picks and he has instant impact, that will put a lot more pressure on Theilen toget open looks on more intermediate routes, especially if Dalvin Cook doesn’t stay healthy. Sooverall, I trust the Vikings as one of the better player development franchises in the NFL, butthem purging that many assets just to save money will make it very hard to replenish those andkeep the team towards the top talent wise in the 3-year window they have to win with KirkCousins under center.

Atlanta Falcons

A team that I thought had Top 5 talent might not have it anymore. Like the Vikings, theFalcons were extremely cash strapped ($6.1 million in cap space entering free agency), andthey overreacted badly to it. Outside of pass rush, the Falcons didn’t really need much, with atalented offensive team that got younger on the offensive line last draft, and a still dynamic corein Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, and Julio Jones. Defensively, they were talented and stillyoung too, with them having talented linebackers and safeties and a very underrated defensivetackle in Grady Jarrett. Really, the only thing they were lacking was pass rush, which theycould’ve solved in the draft or some of the money they got back by letting their projected freeagents go. Instead, they did the opposite, and cut too many players again. Starting with thedefense, they cut Desmond Trufant, De’Vondre Campbell, and Vic Beasley. I am fine with themgetting rid of Beasley, being he has really struggled the last 2 years, is exclusively a speedrusher, and never has been a great run stopper. Yet they replaced him with Dante Fowler, whois essentially the same type of player, and is more injury prone and was almost double the pricein terms of average annual value. Fowler did have a much better season last year than Beasley,but can you really trust that to duplicate for somebody who’s been notoriously inconsistent andinjury prone, and isn’t a good run stopper or power rusher? Not for $16 million per year. Whenthe Falcons got rid of Beasley, I was expecting them to go all in on a Yannick Ngakoue or aJadeveon Clowney, or even take a value pick on an older but still more talented EversonGriffen. Instead, they gambled on somebody that was better recently than Beasley, but is thesame type of player, and likely will lead to the same types of pass rush problems for theFalcons.

As for Desmond Trufant, that will be a difficult loss, similarly to Rhodes, becausecornerbacks are a premium now, especially #1 corners and physical corners. While Trufant’sbest years weren’t as good as Rhodes’, he still provided the same kind of role, especially whenDan Quinn came over and brought the physical Seahawks cornerback scheme to Atlanta. He had some down stretches from 2017-19 after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week9 of the 2016 season, an injury that was one of many differences that prevented the Falconsfrom beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but in my opinion was the biggest one, as BrianPoole kept getting roasted that entire game. Having lost Robert Alford last year and IsaiahOliver having trouble with injuries throughout his short career so far, the Falcons are creating amajor hole with themselves at corner, and one that you wouldn’t want to solve already havingpass rush issues.

Another thing that can help questionable cornerback play is good coverage linebackerplay. Teams like the Panthers, Steelers, and 49ers over the years have proven that. TheFalcons had a chance to do that too by re-signing outside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, whosigned for just $8.1 million with the Cardinals. Campbell along with Deion Jones created a veryyoung and fast linebacker tandem that is very good in both man and zone coverage. Obviously,Deion Jones is the much better player of the two, and is arguably now a Top 3 middlelinebacker in football with Luke Kuechly retiring. However, Campbell served his purpose for awhile, and played especially well in 2018 when it seemed like half the defense was hurt.Campbell was a bit down last year, but I also think was misused by Dan Quinn, being usedmore in pass rush situations, which isn’t his strength being a faster but smaller linebacker. Now,they will have to trust several day 3 picks to rotate alongside Deion Jones, which will be tough totrust when it comes to guarding slot areas and outside routes, especially with iffy corner play.Deion Jones is a great player, but he is only one player, he won’t be able to guard every yard onthe field. This will allow offenses to decoy away from him if they want to do middle of the field orslot area routes, and will make it difficult for them to have a formidable pass defense especiallywith iffy corners. Especially for $8.1 million, even if it meant giving a little more to keep him,keeping Campbell could’ve been a very easy move to keep that linebacking core strong. Whythey let go of him for a convenient price made no sense.

Lastly, we have the running backs. The Falcons terminated the final season of DevontaFreeman’s 3-year contract due to his injury issues, which they should’ve tried to prepare foranyway, but not in the way they did. With an extra second round pick for trading Mohamed Sanuand a deep running back draft this year, the Falcons could’ve used one of those second roundpicks for an insurance policy if Freeman gets hurt, and a guy that could start if they let Freemanwalk in 2021 if he still had his injury issues. But cutting him impulsively when he has beenreliable when healthy made no sense. Then, similarly to Beasley, they contradicted themselvesby signing another injury-prone running back, gambling on Todd Gurley. Now, them only givinghim a 1-year, prove it type deal wasn’t bad, but Gurley has dealt with all kinds of football injuryissues, and in addition has arthritic knees, which is not good long term. They might still draft arunning back anyway, but now they have to have him learn the system and play more rightaway, similarly to the Rams using Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown last year, and theystruggled. Who they draft in this draft, assuming they do it with one of their 2nd or 3rd roundpicks, will likely be better than Henderson or Brown, but that doesn’t mean they will be greatright away either. With Gurley having more significant injury issues than Freeman and also notguaranteeing to be a scheme fit either, I think the Falcons were better off gambling on keepingthe guy they know that works with their offense, even if it is a little more money.

Houston Texans

The team everybody has mocked the most this offseason, and with good reason, roundsout the list here. The Texans, talent wise, have really gone downhill from a roster constructionstandpoint since last August when they fired their general manager and operated since thenwithout a GM. I said, at that time, if they are just going to weather the storm and stick with whatthey had and just try to fill holes with bargain deals or scheme fits, it would be fine. However, theTexans did quite the opposite, trading Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick and two platoonlinebackers, and then giving up essentially your entire draft of the next 2 years for LaremyTunsil. This offseason, we found the icing on the cake to all this misery, giving up DeAndreHopkins, a 29-year old, super talented, very consistent, and durable wide receiver, and theydidn’t even get a first round pick back? I bashed the Giants last April for trading Odell BeckhamJr. after re-signing him and witnessing a 2018 season where his antics weren’t as bad, not tomention would’ve been a nice player to help a young quarterback, who they drafted thatfollowing draft in Daniel Jones. Their return of a first round pick, third round pick, and JabrillPeppers wasn’t terrible, but also wasn’t great. However, in comparison to the trade the Texansmade sending Hopkins to the Cardinals though, the Giants look like geniuses, especiallyconsidering that price they gave up was only lower because of Odell Beckham’s antics.DeAndre Hopkins has never had those issues in his career, where teams and certain fanswould portray that player as a “diva” or a “cancer.” I was never one of those people with Odell,even though he was troublesome at times, that wanted him off my team because of that.However, I can admit that the discipline level of DeAndre Hopkins is still a lot higher than that ofOdell Beckham. So with that, you’re expecting the trade to be higher than what the Giants gotfor Beckham. Nope. The Texans only got a 2nd round pick, a 4th round pick, and DavidJohnson back, a running back on a bad contract that hasn’t been good in 4 years and only wasreally that good in Bruce Arians’ offense. If the Texans were to gamble on an injury prone, freeagent running back, they definitely could’ve done it without having to trade the best player ontheir team. Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman, and even somebody like Jordan Howardwould’ve been better options that were also less expensive. With the Texans having less draftcapital because of previous dumb decisions, they knew they had to nail free agency to fill theholes on their team, and it’s not like they were badly cash-strapped either, as they entered freeagency with $63 million dollars. You sign Melvin Gordon, some interior offensive linemen, andsomebody like Ha-Ha Clinton Dix for slightly more than what they got from their respectiveteams they signed with, the Texans’ lack of draft capital doesn’t seem as worrisome becausethey have a more balanced team. Instead, they trade away the most skilled receiver in footballand don’t even get a first round pick back, still have offensive line problems, question marks inthe running game, question marks in their secondary, and holes on their defensive line outsideof J.J. Watt, who has had trouble staying healthy himself. For years, the Texans have had agood roster and were often times a quarterback away. However, because of this offseasoncoupled with the trades they made last year, DeShaun Watson could very much turn intoAndrew Luck of 2012 and 2013, having to carry a team himself. Watson is talented enough andmore than capable of doing it, but on a long-term basis, that can only take you so far. Now,taking away his top weapon and not helping in other areas to make it easier for him will not help him take any next steps that he can grow into with his development and have this Texans teambe a serious threat rather than just a good or average team like they seem to be every year.

3 Winners of Week 1 of NFL Free Agency

3 Winners of Week 1 of NFL Free Agency

Amidst a pandemic that suspended sports around the world, the NFL was stillfunctioning as usual, and then some. Not in terms of game action, but in terms of transactions,and a lot more than usual. We’ve seen star receivers, corners, and defensive linemen traded fornothing. We’ve seen several players go to division rivals. We’ve seen 2 Top 5 draft picks in your2018 Fantasy Football leagues switch teams. We’ve seen Tom Brady head to an NFC team thatwas on nobody’s radar a month ago. Translation, free agency has been wild, not only with thesignings but with the trades. Here are 3 winners from this wild offseason so far.
Philadelphia Eagles

Since Chip Kelly made so many bizarre trades in the 2015 offseason, Howie Rosemanhas been one of the best general managers in football, not only undoing that but building one ofthe deepest, most balanced, and mentally toughest teams in football. This offseason proved nodifferently, with some very good value picks and what was, in my opinion, the move of theoffseason. Beginning with the signings, Javon Hargrave for 3 years and $39 million is a nicemove to help their run defense and pass rush. Hargrave, at 27 years old, is one of the bestyoung run stoppers in the game and has been a decent pass rusher for a 3-4 nose tackle,recording 6.5 sacks and 4 sacks in his last 2 seasons with the Steelers. While he may be arotational player for the Eagles, he is an excellent young run stopper that will clog up the middlewith his size giving guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Malik Jacksonmore opportunities to rush the passer too. Defensive back Will Parks for a 1-year, $1.6 milliondeal is another great move. Parks is a guy that is versatile, having played safety, slot corner,and outside linebacker in 4 years with the Broncos. With the Eagles lacking corner depth andlinebacker depth and losing Malcolm Jenkins in free agency, Parks can fill many different rolesand allow defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to rotate different coverage looks even more.Filling an even bigger hole, the Eagles also signed linebacker Jatavis Brown to a 1-year deal(contract currently undisclosed). Despite being undersized at 5 ’11’ ‘ and 221 pounds, Brownhas proven himself as a good coverage linebacker, particularly zone but also decent inman-to-man too, and a decent tackler at the second level. Injuries have plagued him throughouthis 4-year career, and didn’t play much last year for the Chargers due to them signing ThomasDavis. With the Eagles having a big void at linebacker after losing Nigel Bradham this year andJordan Hicks last year, Brown should get the playing time, and will help out a lot in coveragedespite being an iffy run stopper. However, the Eagles have had a stout run defense for years,so they won’t need him in that. They signed him for what they needed him for, so expect him toproduce. Lastly, there is the move of the offseason so far, with Roseman absolutely ROBBINGthe Detroit Lions for Darius Slay. The Eagles got a Top 5 corner in football and a Top 3 cornerperformance wise last year for just a 3rd and 5th round pick. The Eagles haven’t had acornerback this good since Troy Vincent in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Even corner depthhas been a missing piece for the Eagles, a franchise that has constantly had trouble developingcorners as well as seen free agent corners bust there. Slay has been a lockdown corner foryears, Top 5 in most years, Top 10 on down years. He led the league with 8 interceptions in2017. While he won’t do that with the Eagles because he likely won’t be thrown to enough toaccumulate those numbers, Slay is the shutdown corner that has been the missing piece of this defense for years, and the Eagles were able to get him for just a 3rd and 5th round pick!?!Absolutely masterful job by Howie Roseman, and in my opinion is the move of the offseason.

Denver Broncos

While the Broncos didn’t have the “flashy” moves that the Eagles and Cardinals havehad so far, there are a lot of good ones in a mix for a team that was already ahead of schedulein their rebuild last year. While they still could use help on their roster, this free agency has beena nice start. In terms of the signings, they franchise tagged a safety in Justin Simmons who hasplayed very well for Denver in three seasons as a starter and played especially well this seasonin Vic Fangio’s defense. I think they will get a deal done long-term before the season starts,before the safety market gets a huge jump if Jamal Adams signs a huge contract with the Jetsand Derwin James possibly signs early with the Chargers. They also signed versatile and solidoffensive lineman Graham Glasgow to a 4-year, $44 million deal. The Broncos had sometrouble on the interior offensive line last year due to losing Matt Paradis, and much of the guysthey had inside last year were young and inexperienced. Glasgow gives the Broncos somebodyin the prime of his career, is versatile to play both center and guard, and is very disciplinedespecially. He has only committed 16 overall penalties in his 4-year playing career. While heisn’t amazing at one particular type of blocking, he is very balanced at all, and even was adecent run blocker for a Lions team that never had good running backs. Now, he is blocking forPhilip Lindsay and another new nice addition, and protecting a kid in Drew Lock that proved mewrong and looked good in the second half of the season with not much in the way of receiverseither. Moving on, who is that nice new addition? That would be Melvin Gordon. A guy thatprobably lost some money by holding out, the Broncos got him on a bargain contract of 2 yearsand $18 million. Gordon is the most skilled running back Denver has had in a while, generallydoing a running back by committee recently, even on their Super Bowl teams in 2013 and 2015.Gordon, when healthy, is a Top 5 running back skill wise in football, and can also be a goodpass-catching back too, despite not getting much opportunity with the Chargers having DannyWoodhead and Austin Ekeler on their roster in 4 of Gordon’s 5 seasons. With iffy receivingtalent, a young tight end, and a young quarterback, this will give the Broncos another weaponon offense, and Philip Lindsay is a good enough running back himself to give Gordon some restand allow the Broncos to make sure he doesn’t get hurt. This is a bargain contract for theBroncos, assuming Gordon can stay healthy, and he already becomes the best player on a veryyoung and rising offensive team. Speaking of bargains, they also made two bargain trades aswell. Before free agency even started, they traded a 4th round pick to the Jaguars forcornerback A.J. Bouye. While I always have said Bouye is a bit overrated, he played well forJacksonville last season after they traded Jalen Ramsey, and he is balanced where he hasplayed well in both man and zone schemes. The Broncos getting him for a 4th round pick is anice trade, and it allows them to have a veteran presence that can help out a roster filled withyoung corners. While I don’t think he’s nearly as good as Chris Harris, Bouye is a good fallbackthat is cheaper and a good value for a 4th round pick. The biggest bargain of all, however, wasthem getting Jurrell Casey for a 7th round pick. This move made no sense for Tennessee andhow Denver got him for a 7th is insane. Jurrell Casey is one of the better and more versatiledefensive linemen in the game, as a 3-4 defensive end and a 4-3 defensive tackle. He has
recorded anywhere from 5 to 7 sacks in the last 6 seasons in a 3-4 defense, which is very goodfor a 3-4 defensive end, and he is very durable too, playing 14 or more games in every seasonin the NFL so far. Also, Vic Fangio has done well at getting the best out of interior defensivelinemen in the past, from Justin Smith in San Francisco to Akiem Hicks in Chicago to somelesser talents like Ray McDonald, Ricky Jean-Francois, Jarvis Jenkins, and Mitch Unrein, whohe later took with him to Denver. Imagine what he could possibly do with Jurrell Casey, who isprobably at a similar level if not better to what Justin Smith was when Fangio got to SanFrancisco. Despite Casey getting older, he continues to get better, and this trade should helphim and the Broncos get the best out of him too, especially for a team that needs help in thatfront 3 to help compliment Von Miller and their collection of young outside pass rushers. Howthey got him for just a 7th round pick too is insane, for a guy that, after Von Miller, is already thesecond best player on that defense. As a whole, this is a nice group of offseason acquisitionsfor a team that already took a big step up this season, and it’s a collection of moves that, if I’mjudging now, can make the Broncos a playoff team this season.

Arizona Cardinals

Speaking of another bargain trade, the Arizona Cardinals made one of those for a Top 5receiver. While I don’t think this was as big of a steal as the Eagles getting Slay, being that theEagles needed a cornerback more than the Cardinals needed a wide receiver, this was still asteal. Giving up a running back that hasn’t been good in 4 years and, in my opinion, was aproduct of Bruce Arians’ offense similarly to when Andre Ellington broke out in 2013 (DavidJohnson was better, but the value and longevity was similar), along with just a 2nd and 4thround pick for arguably the most skilled receiver in football in DeAndre Hopkins, yeah that’s asteal. Hopkins will expand the playbook a lot more for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, allowing him toutilize more complicated routes that a 36-year old Larry Fitzgerald couldn’t run anymore andseveral late-round rookie receivers probably aren’t capable of yet, and probably will never be ata high level. Now they bring in Hopkins, who is 27 years old, has been relatively healthythroughout his career, is uber-talented, and besides one down year in 2016 (he still had 954yards), has been a consistent 1,000 yard receiver and near double digit touchdown guy hisentire career, and has done it with bad quarterbacks up until the last two seasons with DeShaunWatson fully healthy. In addition to the big and flashy move in Hopkins, the Cardinals madesome good moves to help out their defense. Jordan Phillips is a nice signing for a defense thatwas 9th worst against the run last year (120.1 yards per game) and will allow Arizona to havethe true nose tackle that Vance Joseph can use in 3-4 packages to create the hybrid defense hehad in Miami when they were a playoff team in 2016. Another good value signing is signingDevon Kennard to a 3-year, $20 million contract. Kennard is a versatile player that is a goodpass rusher and decent screen defender covering the flats, and is scheme-versatile as well.Kennard has good enough size to be a 4-3 defensive end at 6’3” and 256 pounds, and is decentas a 3-4 outside linebacker with his speed as well. While he isn’t that good as a raw coveragelinebacker, he can do everything else well, covering screen passes, stopping the run, andrushing the passer as a speed rusher. Kennard had 7 sacks in back-to-back seasons with theDetroit Lions, and now playing opposite Chandler Jones should help him get more one-on-oneblocking chances where he can flourish and be even better. Lastly, they signed De’VondreCampbell to a 1-year, $8.5 million contract. The Cardinals, in my opinion, got Campbell on abargain considering he had a down year last year. However, he is a talented and well-roundedplayer that will help this defense a lot. While he isn’t a pass rusher, he can do pretty mucheverything else. He has the speed to man cover and decent zone coverage ability too. He is agood outside run stopper and screen defender. While he is undersized, similarly to JatavisBrown, he still is productive as a well-rounded player. The biggest thing too is, with theCardinals having other young and injury-prone defensive players, he played well in 2018 withmuch of the Falcons defense injured all season. While I think Jordan Hicks is more talented,Campbell’s durability can help him emerge into the most productive linebacker on this team, andthey got him for only $8.5 million. One offseason removed for me questioning and bashing whatthe Cardinals were doing, they redeemed themselves nicely at least so far. They still needoffensive line help for sure to help protect Kyler Murray, but there’s still some time as well as the NFL Draft to solve that, which they ensure will be the path now for Steve Keim and theCardinals now that they filled some of their holes with these moves.

First loss of the season? Why it’s a good thing for San Diego State

First loss of the season? Why it’s a good thing for San Diego State

47-35 halftime deficit. Malachi Flynn inefficient from 3. Yanni Wetzel in single digits. Less than 40% field goal percentage as a team. All these factors contributed to San Diego State, the last remaining unbeaten team in college basketball, finally suffering their first loss to a 14-14 UNLV team that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2013. This is a bad loss that could affect them from being a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This is a bad loss that could potentially give other teams with similar styles coaching film on how to take down San Diego State. All of that is understandable. However, at the same time, I believe this is a blessing in disguise for them, as the winning streak they were on is just not sustainable for the rest of the season. If the Aztecs want any shot to win a title, this loss will allow them to refocus rather than remaining overconfident they can win with a lot of the same styles of play on the big stage.
I mentioned in an article I wrote a few weeks ago how the pressure of being undefeated was going to make it difficult for San Diego State to succeed in the tournament, in addition to being a mid-major Top 2 seed, likely a 1. Even a team as talented on paper as 2014-15 Kentucky couldn’t finish off their undefeated season, losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four 71-64. There are too many good teams and a strong amount of parity in college basketball now, and that makes this kind of feat next to impossible, hence why it hasn’t been accomplished since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in 1976.
From that logic, would your team rather have that loss then within the tournament or even within the conference tournament which would directly affect seeding even more, or would you rather have it happen now when there is still time to turn things around? I think 99.9% of people would take it now, and have time to focus and reset rather than just trying to play with the same overconfidence, because it is not sustainable. Throughout recent NCAA Tournament history, there are plenty of cases where teams that have streaked into the tournament and then lost early, whether they were 1 or 2 seeds. In 2015, we saw Villanova end the regular season on a 12-game winning streak and win the Big East Tournament, and then within 2 rounds of the NCAA Tournament get shocked by #8 seed North Carolina State, leading to the famous crying flute girl meme. That team entered the tournament having not lost since January 19. In 2016, Michigan State ended the season on a 10-game winning streak, including winning the Big Ten Tournament, and then got shocked by #15 seeded Middle Tennessee State in the first round. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know what I know now and fell into the trap of picking that Spartan team to win it all. But 4 years later, they help prove this theory. Gonzaga in 2013, aided by the easy West Coast Conference, entered the tournament on a 14-game winning streak having not lost since January 19 against Butler. In the NCAA Tournament, they ended up almost being the first 16 seed to lose to a 1, but surviving against Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference 64-58. After that, they lost 76-70 to #9 seeded and eventual Cinderella team Wichita State. Ironically, the year after, Wichita State did the same thing, entering the tournament 34-0 and then losing in the Round of 32 to a #8 seeded Kentucky team. Lastly, we have my favorite of them all, 2018 Virginia, engraved in history as the only 1 seed to lose to a 16. While their winning streak wasn’t as big (8 games), they hadn’t lost since February 10, and they kept winning the exact same way, just thinking their philosophy of defense was going to carry them through. Then, they made the wrong side of history, getting obliterated 74-54 by #16 seeded UMBC, hitting the lowest of lows for a 1 seed the NCAA tournament has ever seen.
There are also examples the other way too, where good teams can have good losses and that will help them go far. I’m not saying these teams end up going all the way, but they make it to the Final Four or Elite Eight overcoming other expectations, which San Diego State will likely have to do being a Mountain West team. Examples of this include Gonzaga in 2016-17, that made their first Final Four in school history and eventually went to the National Championship Game, falling to North Carolina. Before that run, they lost 79-71 in the final game of the season to BYU, allowing them to refocus and play with that extra effort to do the little things in the tournament, which they did in a lot of key games later on in that tournament. Granted, they were aided by the worst non-call I have ever seen in an NCAA Tournament, when Zach Collins stuck his hand through the hoop and got away with what should’ve been a goaltending call against Northwestern. However, that doesn’t guarantee that Gonzaga would’ve lost that game either, even though it was more likely the case with Northwestern having a big second half. Looking 9 years before, 2007-08 Memphis had very similar circumstances, back when they had John Calipari and were still in Conference USA. They lost on February 23 of that year to Tennessee, which wasn’t a bad loss, as Tennesee was a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament that year. However, that loss helped them reset and allowed them to make it to the Final Four and within seconds of a National Championship before Mario Chalmers broke their hearts. In 2004-05, Illinois lost in the final game of the season to a 20-12, not bad but not great, Ohio State team. They ended up using that loss as a wakeup call and made it all the way to the Final Four and then the National Championship before, similarly to Gonzaga, losing to Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Go back a year, you have St. Joseph’s, who similarly to 2014 Wichita State ended the regular season undefeated. However, they got shocked in the Atlantic 10 tournament by Xavier. However, they still recovered nicely and made it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to a good Louisville team. Lastly, a team that did win it all was the 2005-06 Florida Gators, who lost on February 26 of that season to a very average Alabama team. That among with some other losses knocked that team down to a 3 seed. However, that didn’t phase them and stop them from taking home their first of two National Championships. Not to mention, despite being a 1 seed, the second championship team also lost February 27 of that season to Tennessee before being able to refocus and overcome the pressure of repeating as National Champions.
This is far from a perfect theory, as most Championship and Final Four teams are somewhere in between the two extremes being shown here, and most Top 3 seeds that get upset in the Round of 64 and Round of 32 are in the same boat. However, if I’m trusting a team with a good loss to reset and refocus or a team riding an unrealistic winning streak into the NCAA Tournament, I’m taking the team with the good loss. San Diego State would’ve been the unrealistic winning streak team had they stayed undefeated into the NCAA Tournament, almost guaranteeing they would’ve lost the first weekend. This loss puts me slightly more confident in this Aztecs team, especially since they are well-rounded and well-coached. They will still most likely have the pressure of trying to succeed as a mid-major conference Top 2 seed in a weird year, which still could get to them. However, they avoid having the double whammy of that paired with an undefeated season and an unrealistic, unsustainable winning streak.

Chase Young to the Falcons? Why Atlanta should give up a huge haul and why the Redskins should take it on.

Chase Young to the Falcons? Why Atlanta should give up a huge haul and why the Redskins should take it on.

Since the start of the College Football season, Chase Young has been one of the most
highly-touted prospects of any position in recent memory. Similarly to Nick Bosa last year,
Chase Young is a prospect that has that “can’t miss” label on him. While I don’t think he will be
as good as Nick Bosa, his skills and athleticism are phenomenal where it will be very difficult to
pass up. With the Bengals likely taking Joe Burrow #1 overall in this year’s NFL Draft, the
Redskins would be the next team that would ideally take Chase Young. However, looking at the
way the Redskins are constructed right now, do they really need him? The Redskins defense,
especially in the front 7, already has a lot of talent that, outside of Ryan Kerrigan, is young.
Meanwhile, the Redskins offense, outside of Terry McLaurin and a couple offensive linemen,
has significant question marks everywhere, which is something one draft won’t be able to solve.
This is why I think the Redskins should trade the pick and try to get a haul back, because I think
they can when it comes to a player of Chase Young’s caliber, or possibly a quarterback as well.
A team that can afford to give that haul that desperately needs pass rushing help and not much
else? The Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons roster is Top 5 in football right now probably only
needing some corner depth, running back depth, and outside linebacker if they lose De’Vondre
Campbell to free agency. But the one thing they need badly is pass rush, losing Vic Beasley and
Adrian Clayborn who both had bad years, and Takk McKinley being injury prone. With them not
needing much else, they can afford to give up the large amount of draft capital needed to jump
from 16 to 2, which will take multiple 1st and 2nd round picks. But for the Falcons, I think it is
worth it, and all the Redskins need on offense, taking on that draft capital would be well worth it
for them. Here is why it would benefit both teams.
For the Falcons, they have desperately needed pass rushers for a long time. Historically,
they have a hard time holding onto them, from Claude Humphrey to Patrick Kerney to John
Abraham, and now recently Vic Beasley, who the Falcons will no longer be pursuing contract
negotiations with. Within the last century and even in the 1990s, they have been one of the
better player development franchises at pretty much every other position, from Deion Sanders
to Jamal Anderson to Keith Brooking to Julio Jones. Yet when it comes to pass rushers they
never seem to get it right, and that is a big reason why they haven’t gone further in the playoffs
than they should, and a big reason why they didn’t win Super Bowl 51, in addition to bad
defensive play calling getting too conservative too early against a Patriots team that doesn’t like
to throw the ball deep. Sorry Kyle Shanahan bashers, no NFL defense should never allow 25
points in 18 minutes. Chase Young would provide the rest of that defense the outside pass
rushing leverage they need to fuel the rest of that defense, with already talented linebackers in
Deion Jones and DeVondre Campbell, and a good secondary when healthy in Desmond
Trufant, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and a promising young and well-rounded corner in Isaiah
Oliver. It will also help Takk McKinley flourish as a 2nd option outside pass rusher, because 3
years have shown he probably isn’t a first option, which Chase Young can develop into pretty
instantly with the skillset he had in college rushing the passer and stopping the run in so many
different ways. With Young alongside Grady Jarrett and a decent back end defense, the Falcons
should be able to flourish with a top end offense that they already have, and that kind of
production allowed them to make it to a Super Bowl 4 years ago that they should have won if it
wasn’t for Dan Quinn and Richard Smith playing Cover 3 and Cover 4 defenses midway through
the 3rd quarter thinking their 28-3 lead was safe. A good pass rush helps them hold leads like
that, and what better of a current draft prospect to do that than Chase Young? Also, when it
comes to the Falcons, they are already cash-strapped as it is, with just $6.1 million in salary
cap, so it will be hard for them to add a top free agent pass rusher. That only makes it more
valuable to add somebody home grown, young, and controllable, and when it comes to the draft
capital involved, which will take multiple first round picks, second round picks, and possibly third
round picks, it is worth it for the Falcons.
When it comes to the Redskins, there’s a good amount of offensive talent they can
accumulate in this draft to help give support to Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin, who has
already blossomed in his first season given as bad of circumstances offensively as you can get.
With already having good young front 7 talent in Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Ryan
Anderson, and Montez Sweat, Chase Young would only just improve a strength for them while
leaving offensive areas extremely weak, which is something they can improve on with this draft.
Between skill players and offensive line depth, the Redskins should profit on a lot of it within the
first two rounds, especially with the Falcons getting a second round pick from the Patriots for
Mohamed Sanu. When it comes to this draft, receiving talent they can get includes Colorado
receiver Labiska Shenault (who I like a lot), TCU receiver Jalen Reagor, and Clemson receiver
Tee Higgins, all of which will most likely available at Pick 16 if they were to trade back with the
Falcons. If they wanted to trade up, this potential trade would give the Redskins extra 2nd and
3rd round picks, which could help them jump back into the Top 10 if they wanted somebody like
Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. When it comes to running backs, there will be a lot of good ones,
including DeAndre Swift, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, and even guys you can get
in the second round, such as Cam Akers and Zack Moss. As for top offensive tackles, there is
good depth throughout the first round, with Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs,
Alabama’s Jedrick Wills (I don’t like him as much but he still is getting a first round grade),
Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, and Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanogho. A combination of 5 or 6 of those
players makes the Redskins offense, despite being young, something they can build on, with
already established offensive linemen in Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff, as well as a
running back that is talented when healthy in Derrius Guice. Outside of McLaurin, Dwayne
Haskins doesn’t have much else that is consistently trustworthy to work with, and one player
won’t solve that either. The Redskins need the draft capital to create an offense with several
different weapons to work with, as they did in the spread offense era with Joe Gibbs throughout
the 1980s and 1990s. One pick at #2, in terms of this draft, while it could potentially be a great
player, won’t solve that issue in a spread offense NFL as well as make it significantly easier for
a young quarterback that has had his issues at the professional level in Dwayne Haskins.

16 Seed Upsets a 1 Seed Part2?

16 Seed Upsets a 1 Seed Part2?

Those who watch college basketball know how crazy of a year it has been alreadythroughout the sport. We’ve seen 8 different changes in the AP #1 team in a season that isentering it’s 15th week. We’ve seen teams such as Illinois, Penn State, Colorado, Dayton, andRutgers ranked throughout the year. We’ve seen a defending National Champion become abubble team within a year. We’ve seen powerhouse North Carolina fall below .500. Granted,they lost their best player for over a month, but you would think the rest of the talent and one ofthe best coaches in college basketball could figure something out? Not in this bizarre year. Sowhat would top such a bizarre year? Something strange in the tournament, such as a 16 beatinga 1. We saw UMBC make history 2 years ago by shocking Virginia (I called that by the way),and becoming the first 16 seed to beat a 1. 2 years later, in a bizarre year, I can see ithappening again. Here are 3 reasons I think it’s possible.
Mid-Major Pressure

With a weird year in certain Power 5 conferences comes other schools that benefit just
by winning games, even if their strength of schedule is not on par with the schedules of the
Power 5 Conferences and the Big East. The three teams that have strived on that the most
have been Dayton, currently #6 in the nation at 21-2, San Diego State, currently #4 in the nation
and undefeated at 24-0, and as usual Gonzaga, 25-1 and striving through mostly West Coast
Conference cupcakes. If all 3 of these teams win their conferences, at least 1 of them will be a 1
seed, and depending how things shake up the rest of the regular season, possibly 2. However,
high seeds for these schools have not boded well for them recently, as most of them lose in the
second round of the NCAA tournament. With the exception of Gonzaga in 2017 who went to the
National Championship Game, none of them have made a Final Four. Looking at this century,
when mid-majors have gotten top 3 seeds, we’ve seen several occasions where these schools
have lost in the second round (Round of 32) of the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati, back when
they were in Conference USA, did it twice in 2000 and 2002, and just 2 years ago collapsing
against 7-seeded Nevada when they were up by 22 points in the 2nd half. Gonzaga has been
victimized by it on several occasions, in 2004, 2005, and 2013, a team that was 31-2. A
2-seeded Temple in 2000 fell to a 10-seeded Seton Hall. A 3-seeded New Mexico team in 2010
got steamrolled 82-64 by an 11-seeded Washington. And most recently, we saw an undefeated
Wichita State team in 2014 get beaten in the Round of 32 by an 8-seeded Kentucky. Therefore,
the odds don’t favor these types of schools. Expect all 3 schools I listed to be a Top 3 seed,
which doesn’t help these odds either, but if 1 of them is a 1 seed, in this type of quirky year,
based on these past trends, it wouldn’t surprise me either, especially if it is an undefeated
mid-major similarly to what 2014 Wichita State was, which still exists currently in 24-0 San
Diego State. Pressure for the Aztecs will loom because of this, as well as my next factor
accounting for this reasoning.

Too many streaks

If you listen to me speak on the World Wide Sports Radio Network, I’m sure you’ve
heard me use the term “too hot” implying a team on an unrealistically long winning streak is due
to lose, often times when it matters most. Obviously, there’s still a month left that these
particular teams can lose, but if these schools, especially the mid-majors, are going to get a 1
seed, odds are it will be from winning out and winning their conference tournament. Starting with
the aforementioned San Diego State, they haven’t lost all season, and if they were to enter the
tournament undefeated, they would be 31-0. Therefore, in addition to having the mid-major
pressure I mentioned above, they now have the pressure of entering the tournament
undefeated. In NCAA history, outside of the dynasty that was John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins, 15
teams have entered the NCAA tournament undefeated, and only 3 have won the National
Championship, and none since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. So for San Diego State,
it will be very hard to join that list, and combining that with the weird year and the mid-major
history, they might just be the team to be a victim to a 16 seed. But it is more than just them.
Dayton is another that could be vulnerable. While they don’t have a bad loss, they haven’t lost
since falling to Colorado on December 21, so if they win the Atlantic-10 tournament, that would
be 23 wins in a row, which especially with an inexperienced tournament coach, could be hard to
maintain. Gonzaga has only lost one game all year, 82-64 to Michigan all the way back on
November 29. Since then, they’ve won 17 straight, which isn’t surprising considering their
conference schedule, but is still unrealistic to keep up. While Mark Few is a very good coach
and has gotten Gonzaga into the Sweet 16 or further in each of the last 6 seasons, this kind of
wacky year could be different. In terms of Baylor, their loss was even less recent, falling
November 8 against Washington. Since then, they have won 19 games in a row. If they win out,
which will be difficult, they are almost guaranteed the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Combine that with an already iffy tournament history and that could be a recipe for disaster for
this Baylor team, especially being they are a team that doesn’t have a lot of convincing blowout
wins for a #1 ranked team. Remind of you of anybody? Maybe somebody that was a #1 overall
seed 2 years ago…

Baylor is similarly structured to 2017-2018 Virginia

A team that doesn’t blow people out? Iffy offense but great defense? Bad tournament
history (until last year)? Describes 2018 Virginia very accurately, and can also be applied to this
Baylor team. Baylor is a notoriously choke-prone tournament team, losing in recent years to #14
Georgia State and #12 Yale. They’ve made the Elite Eight a couple of times last decade, but
beyond that have struggled to get past the first weekend and often times the first round. Looking
at this year’s team, the way they’re structured, they’re also similar to Virginia. Only two guys
scoring in double digits in Jared Butler and Macio Teague, with not much bench depth. Only one
guy shooting over 50% in Freddie Gillespie, with all the other starters shooting 45% or lower.
When comparing to Virginia, Virginia didn’t even have a starter shoot over 50%, and while they
did have 3 double-digit scorers, their bench depth fell off drastically. Virginia’s team field goal
percentage was 46%, and this Baylor team is even worse, shooting at 42%. While Baylor’s
overall offense wasn’t as bad (71.6 points per game, 163rd in nation) as Virginia’s (67.1 points
per game, 314th in nation), those numbers are rigged by the easier scheduled games too. In Big
12 Conference Play, Baylor is only scoring 65.9 points per game, which ranks 289th in the
nation against conference opponents. Another thing that hurts teams in the NCAA Tournament
is missed free throws, and Baylor only has two shooters above 75%. The other big thing to
compare them by is the fact that both teams didn’t blow conference opponents out. In 2017-18,
Virginia had some games where being a top team they should be able to win more dominantly.
Only winning 59-58 against Boston College and 59-49 against Wake Forest come to mind, two
teams that have had trouble in the ACC for years. Also, they won seemingly the same way even
against good teams, close and low scoring, proving they could only win one way. Baylor has
plenty of those games this year, only winning 72-63 against Texas State, 77-65 against Coastal
Carolina, 61-57 against Oklahoma, and recently 52-45 against Texas, which both Oklahoma
and Texas are average teams within the Big 12. To me, the parallels are very similar when
judging the schedules side-by-side, and often times those kinds of teams get eaten up in the
NCAA Tournament, besides Virginia last season. Most top seeds that go far have potent
offenses and don’t have to struggle to win close games, so unless Virginia last year sparked a
new trend in college basketball, don’t expect Baylor to have odds on their side, especially in a
weird year with a bad recent tournament history, including losing to double-digit seeds. In this
kind of year, don’t be surprised if that double digit seed is a 16 with those factors and similarities