Tag Archives: NFL

Is Jay Cutler’s NFL career over?

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Cutler has had a pretty poor career with the Bears. Source: blacksportsonline.com

If there is one thing that is for certain in the offseason in the NFL, Jay Cutler will no longer be playing for the Chicago Bears. Their unhappy marriage that has been in counselling for the past few years looks to finally be heading for divorce as the NFC North team look towards a rebuild.

According to NFL.com’s Ian Rappaport, the Bears are looking as to whether there is any trade interest for desperate teams before cutting the 11-year veteran. Unless someone feels that strongly about the former Denver Bronco draftee that they’d throw a seventh-round pick their way, expect him simply to be kicked to the curb in early March.

However, the story doesn’t end there. After a number of tough seasons and coming off an injury-hit year, Rappaport also mentioned that Cutler is considering retiring from football. At 33 and plenty of money in the bank, he could quite easily walk away from the game if he wanted to.

But should he?

There’s no doubt that the quarterback position is the most important position in the game. You can’t really win the Super Bowl with a serviceable quarterback as a very minimum and with so many teams still needing a signal caller, the question becomes whether there are 32 men better than Cutler.

If you look at his recent stats over his career, you have to say no. Other than this season, where he only played five games, he has always had a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio including 21 TDs to 11 INTs in his 15-game season in 2015.

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Yes, even the majestic Brian Hoyer was better than him in spots last season. Source: Sports Illustrated.

Then you look at the statistics against the other two quarterbacks that deputised in his absence and you have to say there could be. Both Bryan Hoyer and Matt Barkley, who faded a little in his final two games, equalled or surpassed his output over the 2016 season, unforgivable against a journeyman and a youngster who has barely played any first-team snaps.

That wayward stance has followed Cutler for what seems like his entire career. There are moments where you think he could lead you to the promised land, others when the only place he’ll lead any coach is to the back of the line at the job centre.

Teams like the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Texans and the New York Jets will surely take a long, hard look at him. He’s never had the greatest offensive line, which is likely to be the case again in any of those teams and a dearth of weapons to throw to will also impact his inconsistent arm.

He’s not always the most accurate thrower, he’s also not the greatest deep ball shooter so an offence would have to be built around that. Will one of those rebuilding sides see the worth in changing their game to suit that long-term? Probably not but a contending team like the Texans who need just one more push might see it as a solid short-term risk.

The real question for most of those teams will be is there better out there? Not really. That more speaks to the talent level in the NFL and that in the draft, although there are a few interesting prospects but the Bears will be in that fight along with them.

Leaving Cutler in that space will be an interesting topic to watch over the course of the spring. If a team tries to go for him, he should give it a go but if there’s only sporadic interest or backup opportunities, it might be time for him to ride off into the sunset.

He might fall off the horse and frown about that on the way out, but that’s Jay Cutler for you. He’ll at least never be dull.

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NFL Awards 2017 predictions

Super Bowl LI is on the horizon and with all but the big one out of the way, it’s time to talk about the NFL awards. Who will come out on top? Who will miss out? Here’s a look at my predictions for the end of season festivities:

 

Most Valuable Player – Matt Ryan

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Ryan has been the picture of almost perfection this season. Source: fansided.com

Matty Ice finally got over the hump this year and in such a big way, he has to walk away with this award.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback finished with 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns against seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 117.1, all career numbers.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have a lot of help. The Falcons have a balanced offence with two quality running backs and the best receiver in the league in Julio Jones which when combined with an offensive line that has stayed healthy all season, Ryan has really been able to shine.

Kyle Shanahan’s offence has also made him hot property as a future head coach and his moulding of Ryan this year has been outstanding. No one ever thought that the Falcons QB would ever quite crash through the glass ceiling but he proved any doubters wrong in 2016/17.

There is an argument to having Tom Brady as the MVP as well, his TD-to-interception ratio is ridiculous and he’s had a great season too but this one goes to Ryan. From start to finish this season, he has not hidden away or chocked like in previous seasons and this team would look completely different without him.

 

Coach of the Year – Jason Garrett

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers

Garrett has done a sensational job in turning this team into a contender. Source: fansided.com

Hands up, who actually thought that the Dallas Cowboys would even make the playoffs this year?

Unless your name is Michael Irvin, you are lying. There’s no doubt that the team now have a solid roster but a lot of credit should go to Garrett and how much extra he got out of this team to finish with the second-best record in the NFL.

Yes, they got a lot of help from two special rookies and an incredible offensive line but Garret always got them in a position to win. It was his play-calling that got them the lead that they would rarely surrender and when they did, they managed to recover spectacularly which was highlighted in the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It almost got them all the way back against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs too but unfortunately, they had a magician playing for them that evening.

With a no-name defence and some strung together receivers outside of Dez Bryant, Garrett worked wonders with this squad. There were a few great coaches this year but none quite stood out like he did.

 

Offensive Player of the Year – Tom Brady

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Brady has a chance to write history and has played phenomenal football all year. Source: USA Today

This is easily the hardest award to predict, given some spectacular performances this year.

David Johnson was sensational, the first to amass over 1,000 yards rushing and 800 yards catching since Marshall Faulk and only the second in NFL history. Le’Veon Bell may have changed the game for running backs with his ever-so patient style that seemingly throws off every defence.

Julio Jones had a monster year that included an insane 300-yard game. Aaron Rodgers produced more miracles than ever before as he scraped by with half of his weapons taken away from him.

However, with Brady missing out on the top award, there is no chance they do not give the New England Patriots something. He has been terrific since his comeback, highlighted by the fact he’s thrown just two interceptions all year which is mind-numbingly good.

Some will argue that his backups did go 3-1 as well but Brady has been a cut above this year. He was mad and it showed on the field.

 

Defensive Player of the Year – Von Miller

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos

Miller has arguably deserved this award for a long time, so he will finally get his reward. Source: predimonentlyorange.com

While Khalil Mack will be in the conversation and could pip him to the post, it was clear this season that Von Miller is a difference maker on defence.

The offence stumbled spectacularly for the Denver Broncos which eventually lead to them missing the playoffs. Their defence did not take any days off and along with a great secondary, it was the play of Miller that kept them in the hunt until the end.

He put up great numbers in the run game, registering more tackles than ever and four stuffs. His 13.5 sacks has only been beaten by Atlanta Falcons’ Vic Beasly and he also forced four fumbles on the year.

Those are some great numbers and why they might not quite be as monstrous as his 2012 numbers, where he was beaten to the award by JJ Watt, they are still very impressive. Aaron Donald would also be a front runner had he not played on such a poor team but Miller finally gets his dues this time.

 

Rookie of the Year – Ezekiel Elliott

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Elliott has come better than advertised, he’s the real deal. Source: Sports Hub

A pretty easy choice, Ezekiel Elliott has been a revelation for the Dallas Cowboys all season long.

He registered 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns in a ridiculous year where he has torn teams apart. From that special late run against the Steelers to dominating almost everyone that stood in his path this season, he’s been superb.

Credit also has to go to his offensive line, something the Ohio State man has regularly stated himself, as they heled create some great creases that Elliott turned into huge gains. His foot speed, his toughness and his ability to make every kind of run really separated him from the pack.

While taking a running back so high in the draft can be a real risk, Elliott looks the real deal. Behind one of the best lines in the NFL, he could become one of the great running backs in Cowboys history and that is saying something.

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Dak Prescott

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Prescott surprised everyone, but can he keep it up? Source: IB Times

If the above award is going to one Cowboy, this one has to go to the other.

Dak Prescott has been the surprise of the year. With Tony Romo out before the season even began, many thought that any chance of Dallas doing anything of note this season sat on the injury table with him.

Prescott was excellent in pre-season, which is usually as useful an indicator as Michael Fish telling you a hurricane is coming, but we were wrong to doubt him. He carried that momentum over into the regular season and put in some really solid performances.

He was aided by a strong running game, an incredible offensive line and a great few weapons in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten but he was still pretty special. Whether he simply proves to be lightening in a bottle remains to be seen but for now, he an Elliott are the future of the Dallas Cowboys.

 

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Joey Bosa

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers

Did you expect anyone else than Bosa? *shrugs* Source: USA Today

It is scary to think that Joey Bosa only played in 12 games this season.

It’s been a little while since we have seen a young pass rusher make this much of an impact on a team this quickly. The San Diego Chargers barely had a semblance of pressure last year but with an astonishing 10.5 sacks in 2016, Bosa brought the thunder.

He has a great ability of bull-rushing offensive linemen, putting them under immense pressure and using his hand work to get them flustered. Bosa can be so quick to get into motion that his opponents simply aren’t prepared for it and that puts their quarterback in danger.

His 23 QB hurries is only six behind Von Miller in four less games, he set a record for at least two QB hits in his first three games since 2006 when they were first tracked and had a crazy 17 tackles for a loss.

This kid is going to be very, very good and a much-needed star as his team moves to Los Angeles.

 

Comeback Player of the Year – Landon Collins

New York Giants v Washington Redskins

Collins has been on a redemption story all season long. Source: USA Today

Cameron Wake may get this award that tends to go to older players but no one has made a bigger leap in quality this year than Landon Collins.

The New York Giants had a pretty poor rookie season, with questions over his coverage and his usefulness in the backfield. Those worries have been quickly quelled as he has risen to potentially one of the best safeties in the entire NFL.

Four sacks, five interceptions and a fumble recovery all showed how he had really began to affect games in a growing Giants defence. He even recorded his first touchdown as he marshalled a secondary that took a great leap from near the bottom of the league to being one of the best.

Is it really a comeback if he’s never been anything to begin with? Maybe not but it’s hard to deny that Collins has been a difference maker. If you can go from being a “bust” to a Pro Bowler in a season, you have to get recognition for it.

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The San Diego Chargers are dead, long live the Los Angeles Chargers?

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Ew.  Source: CBS

Philip Rivers summed it up perfectly earlier today in a speech to the Chargers’ faithful:

“I’m a little bit numb about it all. It hasn’t really settled in yet.”

Two days ago, the team’s owner Dean Spanos announced in a letter that after over 50 years in San Diego, the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles. They will play at the StubHub Arena, home of the LA Galaxy, for two years before joining the Los Angeles Rams at Inglewood in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the faithful that had gathered to Qualcomm Stadium for decades were none too pleased over the news. Shirts, banners and formerly treasured possessions were left in a heap outside of the team’s headquarters as many fans turned their back on a team that scorned them for one final time.

Spanos reportedly tried every avenue of finding a solution in San Diego, with him believed to not want to stump up much of his own declining wealth and hoping tax payers would give him the boost. That did not happen, which is more than reasonable from the citizens of a great city and when the NFL did not come running with the cash instead, Spanos instead hit the eject button.

It stung. Reportedly there were ways for the team to stay in San Diego for now and work at something but in the owner’s eyes, the city had plenty of time to do something but instead decided to sit on their hands.

I feel for the city, even though I’ve never been but I have always felt a bit of a connection to because of the team I support. The Chargers have always been my team but they’ve also been San Diego’s, in fact it’s at least one of the reasons I chose to support them.

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The StubHub Center, the Chargers’ temporary home in LA before moving in with the Rams in 2019. Source: LA Times

However, my disappointment will never match their grief. I am sad that I never managed to get out there to catch a game but the fact that they don’t get the chance to after supporting them with everything for so long, it must be heart-breaking.

Also, the badge is super fugly. It has no relevance to the team, it looks too much like the Dodgers logo and it just feels empty. They tried to change the colours but it doesn’t hide it at all.

That’s not to say the previous badge was a work of art but it was wonderful in its simplicity. It was another reason I chose them in the beginning, it was the blandest, simplest badge from such a varied crazy set that I simply fell in love with it.

Now, it does seem to put me in a slightly weird conundrum. Do I stick with the team I supported with the move? Or do I switch after they took away a lot of what I loved about the team in the first place?

Should I follow those players, who have had zero say in the matter, and rally behind them as they move to the same city as the basketball team I support? Or should I abandon them in solidarity for those that lost them?

That wound may take longer to heal than I thought it initially might but Thursday was a sad day for us all. To me, and to many others, they will always be the San Diego Super Chargers.

I have to stop playing that song, too?!? Goddammit, can they really stop stepping on everything I hold dear?!?

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Loss of Derek Carr cripples Oakland’s Super Bowl dreams

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A sight no one in Black and Silver wanted to see, their quarterback limping off the field on Christmas Eve. Source: Houston Chronicle

The NFL giveth and the NFL taketh away. After breaking their 14-year playoff drought last week and looking like potential Super Bowl contenders for the first time since that loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, star quarterback Derek Carr broke his fibula on Christmas Eve.

Surrounded by his entire team on the field and many players covering the view as he was treated on the sidelines, it was clear by the mood that it was serious. On the floor and on the verge of tears, you could see number three mouth the words “it’s broken” and every Black Hole fan’s worst nightmare came true.

Now their players might be telling you through the media and social networks that this team isn’t done, that they can make an impact in the post-season, but they are wrong. This entire team swings on the quarterback and without Carr for the foreseeable future, the Raiders are cooked.

Before going down against the Indianapolis Colts, Carr was a legitimate MVP candidate. Let’s start with that offence and its leader, MVP candidate Derek Carr. The former second-round pick had been outstanding, throwing for 3,933 yards which included 28 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.

Combine that with a 63.7% completion rating and a 96.7 passer rating, it’s not hard to see why he was the lifeblood of this team. Carr finally gave them hope where they previously had none and with his drive to pull his team out of the mire, he could have been the x-factor once the post-season rolled around.

When you also look at those stats and the surging runs he led in close gains, then add the fact that the Raiders have led the league in dropped passes with 26, you can see why they were so devastated to lose him. No offence meant to Matt McGloin, but he has enormous shoes to fill.

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Mack has been a machine but it may be in vain. Source: Bleacher Report

That will likely mean the team leans on a strong run game, which is currently sixth in yards per game in the NFL. That efficiency on the ground helped open the space up for Carr and if they can continue to pound the football, it may at least alleviate some pressure from McGloin when he does throw the ball.

The issue will be whether they can lean on their defence, which should be the case when you have a destroyer like Khalil Mack on your side. With 11 sacks on the season, yet none in the last two weeks, combined with five forced fumbles and an interception, he is a difference maker on that side of the ball.

He’s even great in the run game, registering six stuffs and forcing teams like the Chargers to force their run game away from him. Mack has become a monster and combined with Bruce Irvin on the other side, who has seven sacks of his own, it has created a beast that strikes fear into every offensive lineman.

However, the worry is the secondary. They rank 30th in yards per game and 21st in points, highlighted by a ball-hawking secondary that maybe takes a couple too many chances and could get burnt by better quality quarterbacks in the playoffs.

That being said, their turnover differential is excellent. In fact, the Raiders lead the league in turnover differential with plus 15 and that is a big driving force in how they have succeeded this season. Simply put, they have given themselves more opportunities per game and restricted their opponents.

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Del Rio has changed the culture in Oakland and should have a shot at stardom for years to come. Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Add to that a good kicking game from Sebastian Janikowski and a solid punting game from dancing extraordinaire Marquette King, they have the start of a quality team. The coaching from Jack Del Rio and his win-or-die attitude has been really infectious as Oakland caught fire from an early aggressive call against the New Orleans Saints.

General manager Reggie McKenzie deserves a lot of credit too for building a solid unit mainly through the draft as well. Regardless of how this season now finishes, he’s given them a foundation for them to compete for years to come.

I had written a piece ready to go last week before Christmas got in the way, saying that if the defence could show something against the Colts, they had a real chance. They did, until Carr went down, now everything is in doubt.

A divisional match-up against a raging Denver Broncos who have nothing to lose could have disastrous consequences. A loss leaves the door open for the Kansas City Chiefs to steal the division from under their noses and could put the Raiders in the playoffs earlier than initially expected.

In fact, it’s hard to see them win a playoff game now. It’s clear from how they’ve won games this season how much Carr means to them and with him gone, so too go their playoff ambitions.

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The tactical interest in the extra point decline

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Tomlin is a two-point purist but more will follow his suit in the next year or so. Source: Fox Sports

The NFL set an unwanted record last week. Well, at least the kickers did.

The unheralded, first-to-blame, bit-part players missed a record 12 extra points at the weekend. Formerly seen as gimmes before being moved back last season, the extra few yards have seen some tumble into drivelling messes and this has been the culmination of what has been a poor year for kickers in general.

When a game will be forever known as the one where two easy kicks were missed, you know they are having a bad time. The 6-6 tie between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks will live in infamy for two terrible field goal attempts that would have won it for either team.

With that, we look at the point after. It was moved from the two-yard line when it turned into an almost pointless exercise, with the knowledge that moving it to the 15 yard line still almost guaranteed a safe hit.

However, the 12 missed in Week 11 highlighted two things that NFL teams may need to think about next season. The standard of kicking across the league has regressed, with more long-distance kickers keeping their job over accurate, safe ones and now whether it really adds to the value of going for two points after a touchdown.

There are a few teams that are already moving towards that line of thinking. Mike Tomlin has had the Pittsburgh Steelers routinely going for two over the last few years, knowing that converting just one can give you a big boost against teams that aren’t as willing to risk it.

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Del Rio showed the guts to go for it and was reSource: SFBay.com

That can also become a disadvantage if you continuously go for it and fail. They were 0-4 against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season, points that could have changed the complexion of the game if they weren’t constantly trying to make up for what they had lost.

But at the same time, converting the first can be such a big boost and would have negated some of the shortcomings, it’s a real tactical piece.

Take the opening game of the season from the Oakland Raiders, where Jack Del Rio was seen as ballsy enough to call for a two-point conversion to win the game rather than a kick to tie it. Sebastian Janikowski is one of the best kickers in the league, one of the most reliable and a sure-fire Hall of Famer, so why risk it?

Because they succeeded and won the game.

Many will cry that if they missed, they would have lost but that kind of attitude can really pull a team behind you. That’s not trying to say that the Oakland Raiders’ success was created solely from that but the early momentum it gave them was undeniable and that gutsy attitude has pushed them further than people could have imagined at the start of the season.

The hope will be that with these missed points, there’s a view to try and add to our options rather than restrict them. There were outcries to get rid of the extra point altogether, which is an interesting point but takes away some potentially exciting tactical ideas and opportunities from that.

What should take place is more two-point attempts, more risks and more teams willing to pile on the pressure if they can. Do you take the relatively safe, 95% extra point or the riskier two that could be the difference between a win and a loss? It adds an extra layer of intrigue, and that can only be a good thing.

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Newton should not change, the NFL should

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Newton may look like a Batman villain but he speaks the truth everyone needs to hear. Source: Twitter @Panthers

You know what, whenever I write about this topic, it feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall. However, every time I do, it’s something that needs to be addressed.

Last week, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to chat about the lack of protection he has been receiving from referees for illegal hits. Then on Sunday, he was hit with a jarring shot to the head by Los Angeles Rams safety Mark Barron, which the referees did not throw a flag.

Another sack from Aaron Donald was borderline high on the quarterback in the pocket and this comes a week after Arizona Cardinals defender Calais Campbell hit Newton in the knees. The referees did not call a penalty on that play but Campbell was retrospectively punished by the league.

Let us put the record straight, there have clearly been a few pretty heinous hits on Newton this season. Some are while he is a runner and players taking a shot while it’s legal, when it really shouldn’t be to any player, and others have been whilst he’s been in the pocket, where every other quarterback is protected even if someone brushes their helmet with a hand.

Many of the players that saw him complain about this issue have simply told him to get on with the game. Repeated statements of “it’s a man’s game” and “it’s his fault for being a runner” are continuously sprouted out as bulletins hiding as insidious remarks about someone who has rubbed them up the wrong way.

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Mark Barron’s hit was dangerous, it should have been flagged. Source: The Rams

They then say that he’s a six-foot-five machine that should be able to handle smaller men with ease. That comes from when players are hurtling at him without applying the brakes, throwing their entire bodyweight into their hit and concentrating it to his cranium.

Size doesn’t factor in that as much, other than it’ll hurt even more from the bigger boys. It’s a silly comment, I’m certain that even The Mountain from Game of Thrones would moan if you shot Tyrion at his head from a cannon.

Cam Newton isn’t a wuss or a softie. Cam Newton is a man acutely aware of what numerous, damaging hits to the head can do to a person and would kindly like to be able to live a normal life once his footballing career comes to an end.

The lack of protection in the pocket by the officials on the Barron hit was astonishing. Newton was clearly in the pocket preparing to throw and the safety made no attempt not to hit him in the head, even when most defensive players know if they do that, even on a legal hit, they will be flagged.

Yet no yellow rained down on that play.

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Goodell has made his own mess, again, and he needs to fix it for good. Source: The Ledge

To anyone watching back that doesn’t have any sense of bias or longing for “the good ol’ days” knows that should have been called. If that was Peyton Manning, there would have been outcry but since it’s the dancing, smiling man that speaks his mind, it’s fine for him to get his clocks cleaned.

There should not be any head-to-head contact in the NFL period. It’s a dangerous move on both parties that has led to severe health problems for ex-professionals and the fact it still happens to anyone is shocking.

Newton said in a press conference last week that the game was becoming less fun for him. The 2015 MVP, in a season full of average play and declining ratings, simply put exactly what everyone else was thinking into perspective.

The NFL needs something to change. If this year, with all its oddities and embarrassments, isn’t enough then it may never do so.

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Is NFL kicking going backwards?

The Jaguars, in particular, have been poor on extra point attempts.  Source: Yahoo Sports

The Jaguars, in particular, have been poor on extra point attempts. Source: Yahoo Sports

With the extra point moved back to the 15-yard line at the start of the season to add some excitement to something that was practically a certainty, it’s a good time to look at how kickers have stacked up this year.

Just eight extra points were missed in the entire 2014 season, with just six teams in the NFL failing to convert. However, this season, 69 attempts have been denied or missed and only five teams have remained perfect on the year.

That proves that moving it backwards has helped it from just being an afterthought, it’s caused some teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars to try more two-point attempts and has shown how crucial it can be to have an accurate kicker.

San Diego Chargers chose Josh Lambo because he had a stronger leg than Nick Novak.  Source: MLS Soccer

San Diego Chargers chose Josh Lambo because he had a stronger leg than Nick Novak. Source: MLS Soccer

In terms of field goals, despite it feeling like an odd year, there have been more teams with a 90% or better success rate than last season. There are three teams below 72%, which is abysmal, but the rest of the 22 teams are somewhere in the 80s, which doesn’t look that bad on paper.

2014 had more in the 70s (six to this year’s one, although there are two teams below that number) but overall there are pretty similar stats across the board.

There was an emphasis on kickers with big legs this off-season, with many teams choosing someone who could kick it out of the endzone on kickoffs rather than a solid place-kicker. However, that isn’t shown in the number of attempts beyond 50 yards (153 in 2014, 161 in 2015), which may be a sign that those who do have a strong leg may not have the accuracy needed.

Gostkowski has been sensational, as per usual.  Source: Press Herald

Gostkowski has been sensational, as per usual. Source: Press Herald

Stephen Gostkowski again shows that he is one of the best in the game and for good reason, he has missed just two kicks all year and is perfect in 51 extra point attempts. The two he has missed have come from over 40 yards (he’s 16-18, which is still pretty great) and is one of very few reliable kickers in the league.

While not a significant change, it is becoming more evident than ever who the real quality kickers are and how valuable they can be. Some teams have gone through so many different kickers to find a solution and there is likely to be a stronger focus than ever in the draft and during pre-season to make sure more get it right.

Overall, the standard only seems to have slipped because it’s the missed extra points that stick in the mind. They’ve cost some teams games and that stings a hell of a lot more than a missed field goal, what will be interesting is the comparison with next year and see how things go after a full year’s experience.

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The NFL needs to address poor officiating

Officiating has not been this poor since the lockout three years ago.  Source: CBS Sports

Officiating has not been this poor since the lockout three years ago. Source: CBS Sports

Back in 2012, we could take in when replacement officials got it wrong. They were inexperienced, they were thrust into a role because of a lockout that they were not expecting and while there were some questionable decisions, at least it did not last too long.

That seems like forever away when you see the standard of officiating this season.

It has been pretty bad all year long but just to add to the very poor mistakes, last night the Green Bay Packers were awarded another chance at a late game Hail Mary pass after the officials called for a facemask penalty on the Detroit Lions defence after time expired.

Aaron Rodgers got another play and wouldn’t you know it, they scored. It was a huge win for them but a monumental blow for the Lions as the defender barely brushed the quarterback and it has killed any unlikely late run for the playoffs stone dead.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg on bad officiating calls this season. The Baltimore Ravens lost the game on a similar incident against the Jacksonville Jaguars when this time, the offence had a false start with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game.

That usually incurs a 10-second run-off, something that didn’t happen, which led to a facemask penalty on the final play which advanced the Jaguars into field goal range to win the game.

KJ Wright patting the ball out of the endzone was a penalty missed.  Source: deadspin.com

KJ Wright patting the ball out of the endzone was a penalty missed. Source: deadspin.com

On another TV game on Monday night, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Lions thanks to KJ Wright knocking  Calvin Johnson’s  fumble  out of the endzone, which is illegal and should have been a Lions first down.

However, the back judge claimed that he felt it was inadvertent, despite the cameras clearly telling a different story. Wright himself admitted that he did it on purpose after the game and the NFL also revealed that it should have been a penalty.

Another Thursday night game last week had controversy that luckily did not determine the final result of the game. The New England Patriots made a big play to Danny Amendola in the second quarter, he had beaten the corner and only had one man to beat for the touchdown.

Had a referee not inadvertently blown his whistle, killing the play dead. The officials then had to fumble around and award the pass to where the receiver caught it and the drive ended in a field goal.

The excuse was that the line judge had “lost track of the football”, which was absurd as it was in Tom Brady’s hands and visible to everyone as he was throwing it as he whistled. It also, technically, meant that it should have been spotted to where the initial play was, as Amendola hadn’t caught it before the whistle, but the officials needed to do something as they had pretty much prevented a touchdown.

Some might give the quarterback the benefit of the doubt but it certainly was questionable.  Source: sfgate.com

Some might give the quarterback the benefit of the doubt but it certainly was questionable. Source: sfgate.com

But the cornerstone of the whole argument this season came in Sunday night’s fixture between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. In a tight game, there were so many missed calls or ghost calls that it became simply a joke of a game for both sides.

They called a first-and-five for the Cards as a 2nd-and-three for some reason but the real stinger was the roughing the passer call near the end of the game. The officials deemed that they hit the head of the quarterback, which the defender did not, it was just a strong play but with that penalty, the drive continued and Arizona went on to win.

To say that the standard has dropped this season is probably not harsh enough. These bad calls are costing points and in too many occasions, entire games and when one of these coaches loses their jobs because of their poor record, they can look back at things like this.

With the amount of replays available, and the absurd amount that can’t even be reviewed, it’s simply astonishing that the NFL doesn’t do something to fix this. They need to further educate their officials straight away, severely punish the groups that have been found wanting and reward those that have performed up to the high standard.

The issue now is that something needs to be done now. The playoffs start next month and if something similar happens then or, god forbid, the Super Bowl then there will be significant reproductions. Quite simply put, it has been nowhere near good enough.

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