Pro Player Insiders Executive Editor Melissa Mahler http://proplayerinsiders.com Behind the scenes look at lives and lifestyles of NFL players and their families plus sports news, interviews & events Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:00:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Tennessee Titans Pick Six Versus The Seattle Seahawks http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tennessee-titans-pick-six/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tennessee-titans-pick-six/#comments Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:00:36 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170167

Four years ago the Titans met up with the Seahawks in the Pacific Northwest. The Titans fought hard and played physical, but they ended up losing the game 20-13 as the Seahawks scored 13 straight points to win the game. The tone of the game was physical and the Titans matched the Seahawks for the most part, but they just could not make enough plays to win. Fast forward to now and the Seahawks are still a physical team, but some things have definitely changed. One thing that has not changed is the presence of that incredible defense. While some have cooled on the Seahawks after their 1-1 start, there are some including the Titans that know the Seahawks come in with bad intentions to not only beat you but to beat you down physically. The Titans are coming in this game with a little more confidence than they left the first game with. Can they keep the good feelings going or will it be just a one-game winning streak for the Titans? Well, that is why they play the games but here are six keys for the Titans to pull off the win at home versus one of the NFC’s title contenders.

 

Offense

1) Keep The Ball Rolling

Titans excited

In the first half of the Jacksonville game last week, the Titans could not get anything going, as they only scored six points. They looked listless and uninterested in what was a huge game for them. Well, in the second half, the team woke up and got rolling, scoring 31 straight points and dominating the Jags in their own stadium. The Titans got some confidence going in that game and they need to carry that offensive confidence into this game again a defense that is always confident in Seattle. The better mindframe the Titans are in, the better they will be able to attack the Seahawks offensively. Usually when the Titans are confident, that means they are chewing up clock, which will also be beneficial to them winning the game.

2) Let Delanie Be The Guy

delanie walker takes a tumble

The Tennessee Titans have multiple weapons they try to get involved. We know they love to run the football with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and they like to throw to their wide receivers like Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker. Well, giving those guys the ball may be nice, but tight end Delanie Walker is the guy that needs his touches. He was given impact touches last week versus Jacksonville and he helped to turn that game in the Titans favor with his excellent play. Against a familiar foe from his football past, Walker has had some moments and it would not at all be surprising if he is able to make some plays in this one. The Titans need to give him at least six touches of the football in this game. Good things happen when he touches the ball not only for Delanie but for the good of the team.

3) No Brakes On The Henry Train

APTOPIX Titans Jaguars Football

Last week, DeMarco Murray was not able to get going. Later we found out that he was dealing with a hamstring issue. If that is the case, we know those hamstring issues don’t heal overnight or in one week. So with that being said, it is time to give Derrick Henry more carries. We all saw what he could do last week (14 carries, 92 yards and a touchdown), as he grinded out the rest of the game with his physical runs that punished the Jags. The Seahawks are a tough defense, but they can be taken advantage of at times for big plays. I’m sure the Titans watched what Carlos Hyde of the San Francisco 49ers was able to do to them last week ( 15 carries, 124 yards, including a 61 yard run) and there is hope for this big bruiser of a back with speed to do some of the same things. Of course, the Titans have to hold their blocks this week and are going against a better defensive line than Jacksonville presented, but anything is possible.

 

Defense

1)  Pin Ya Ears Back Fellas

JUrrell casey celebrating

The Seattle offense has been stumbling out the blocks this year. Just last week, they scored their first touchdown of the season, which is disturbing for them. The big thing that has been alarming is Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been running for his life behind his line that cannot seem to protect him. With those chinks in the armor being shown already through two weeks, the Titans should be foaming at the mouth to get at them. The guys that should be foaming at the mouth the most in this equation are outside linebackers Brian Orapko and Derrick Morgan along with defensive end Jurrell Casey. These three defenders combined with the mind of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau could be yet another scary proposition for the Seattle Seahawks offensive line.

2) Keep Them In Check..Running The Ball

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

The Seattle Seahawks have not exactly been the dominating running team they were in the last two games. In the first game against the Green Bay Packers, the leading rusher for the Seahawks was Russell Wilson with 40 yards rushing. Against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, they got a good performance from running back Chris Carson (20 carries for 93 yards). What you can gather from that is the Seahawks ran well against a 4-3 defense but did horribly against a 3-4 defense. Luckily for the Titans, they play a 3-4 defense. If the Titans can create some push up front along with some confusion for Seattle, then the Seahawks will not be able to get the run going and it will make their job on offense that much harder.

3) Don’t Get Caught In The Magic Tricks

Russell Wilson taking a snap

The Magician that is Russell Wilson can be hard to contain. He may not be the quickest guy, but he is crafty and can make defenders look silly at any given point in time. In this game, the contain of Orapko and Morgan will be huge. They must keep Wilson in the pocket to increase their chances against him. And when they rush him, they must make sure to be under control. If they are not under control, then Russell can escape the pocket for either a run that will compromise your defense or break contain to find a wide-open receiver. The Titans also might want to put a linebacker on Wilson to spy him on the field. Anything they have to do, they must do so to contain Wilson because he is the only consistent weapon that can tear your defense apart at this point. The more he is under control, the uglier the Seattle offense looks and the better the Titans chances are to win the game. Like stated in defensive point number one, they can pin their ears back because of that Seattle line, but they also have to be smart and execute to get Wilson down on the turf.

The Titans are in a good position to make a statement in the NFL. Plenty think they are ready to make that next step and become a playoff team and a win against Seattle would go a long way towards making that happen. Will they do so or not is totally up to them, but if they follow some of these points to success, they could be looking at 2-1 on the season. Let’s see what happens Sunday.

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Delanie Walker Is The Key To The Titans’ Success http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/delanie-walker/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/delanie-walker/#comments Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:15:31 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170152

The Tennessee Titans were served with a gut punch to start the season. After all the preseason hype, the Titans went out and got promptly beaten by the Oakland Raiders at home 26-16. After that sobering loss, the Titans had to see what they did that worked and what they did that did not work and correct it for the next game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans started slow, getting down 3-0 before tying the game and taking the lead on two field goals in the second quarter. At that point, there had to be some Titans fans that were worried about their team. Were they going through some of the same doldrums that plagued them at times last year or was this something they could snap out of? Well, the Titans came out in the second half and scored 27 straight points, pushing the lead to 30-3 before the Jags scored in the fourth quarter. The performance the Titans had in the second half was one that many fans of the team had thought would have happened in the first game. There were many differences in what happened in the first game compared to the second game, but one big difference was the usage of tight end Delanie Walker.

The offense the Titans have is built around the running game and that is without question. DeMarco Murray was phenomenal in his first year as the starting running back for the Titans. While Murray was the focal point of the offense last season and the Titans would like to use that running game yet again this year, the most important piece to their offense is undoubtedly Delanie Walker. The versatile tight end has been special ever since he got here in 2013. There was some wonder as to how he would perform in an offense that featured more of the running game than the passing game. Well, the Titans have fit him in quite nicely and he is still the key to their passing game. Just to give you an example of how important he is, let’s take a look at the last 18 games of the Titans schedule. When Delanie has gotten five or more receptions, the Titans put up a record of 6-3. That ought to tell you that he is a huge key to their winning. His ability to get up the seam along with making plays at all different levels makes their team even better in the passing game and he also is a reliable target for Marcus Mariota, which is huge for their offense.

Going forward, the Titans have to find a way to get him more involved. Sure, they added more weapons in the passing game, but if they don’t get Walker involved, then they don’t win. The best thing they can do to get him involved is to move him around some more. Use him at the tight end position but also use him in the slot, in the backfield and in other innovative ways they can think of. We saw a sneak peak at one eccentric way the Titans used him Sunday. Walker was lined up as an H-back when he went in motion and Mariota handed him the football on a tight end sweep. That play resulted in him outflanking the defense and gliding in for a touchdown. The ever gracious Walker had this to say about his touchdown: “Jonnu (Smith) and Phil (Supernaw) made great blocks on the edges and basically helped me do my job.”  Walker is athletic and fast enough at the age of 33 to outrun people that have just stepped into the league. While it seems like players slow down at his age, it seems like Walker is just aging like a fine win.

The Tennessee Titans evened their record with that win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they discovered that much more in that game as well. Walker is their best offensive weapon and the need to get him involved all the time is evident. The more he is involved, the better the chances the Titans win the game. It’s just that simple. Despite the thoughts that DeMarco Murray is the more important player, Walker is the more essential player to the Titans’ success this season. As he goes, so goes the team. We shall see if the Titans remember that every game or not.

Oakland Raiders v Tennessee Titans
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Emmitt Smith; Life after Football http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/emmitt-smith-life-football/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/emmitt-smith-life-football/#comments Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:50:04 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170142 Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith had an iconic career on the field, but after he retired he turned a different direction and excelled. He went into Commercial Real Estate and started Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities with his wife, Pat. Emmitt said that the transition from a player to philanthropist was something he adapted to well. “I did all that I wanted to do as a football player. I was blessed with the opportunity and I enjoyed every bit of it. (After I retired) I wanted to do something different and I am always up for a challenge. I wanted to do something new, so I occupied my mind and did just that. I always had a passion for helping people and with different platforms, I am able to do that,” said Emmitt.

Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities offers underserved children in North Texas educational opportunities and mentorship programs to help enlighten them about life decisions and how education is the most important thing that these individuals need to take advantage of. Emmitt talked loosely about how education can further their careers, as well as how it has helped him. “Education is our kids future. It is an industrial society that is advancing in technology. Education is very apparent. Knowledge is power. Lack of knowledge will leave you behind. My mother preached to me that education was going to get me ahead in life and I took what she said and applied it to my life.”

One of Emmitt’s quotes that he uses to inspire others to pursue their dreams is, “It’s a dream until you write it down and then it becomes a goal. Every day we have to be motivated to do something for ourselves and others.”

 

Emmitt has unified his community through giving back while educating individuals about his faith in God and using the opportunities to bless people. “My faith has helped me a lot. It has given me a solid foundation to tell people about the goodness that God has done for me.” While his faith is something that is seen through his motivational speeches, he has impacted a lot of people on and off the field. For people who want to get to that next level in playing running back in the NFL, they look up to Emmitt as being at patient and relentless attacker and off the field just his wisdom and how education has helped and molded him into the person that he is, tells a lot about his character, as well as  his determination to be the best person that he can be. His views on coming together as a nation is very inspiring. “America has to look deep inside. Leaders need to analyze themselves and America history. Appreciate the diversity, analyze its beginning and where things are today. We have to look at the faults, acknowledge them and move forward.”


Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities host two annual fundraisers annually. The Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational golf tournament and gala every May and the Emmitt Smith Gran Fondo charity cycling ride coming up on September 30 in Frisco, TX. With 5-routes to choose from, this event offers course options for cyclists at all skill levels. It is speculated that over 3,000 people will be participating in this event. Connect socially with Emmitt at @EmmittSmith22 and @SmithCharities.

 

Image result for emmitt smith

 

 

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Seahawks hang on late to get their first win against the 49ers 9-12 http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-carousel/seahawks-hang-late-get-first-win-49ers-9-12/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-carousel/seahawks-hang-late-get-first-win-49ers-9-12/#comments Mon, 18 Sep 2017 04:21:31 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170144 Seattle, WA- Russell Wilison had to become Superman in the last six minutes of the game to secure a 9-12 win against the San Fransico 49ers. In the first three-quarters of the game, both teams struggled to find any type of rhythm through the air and did not have enough time in the pocket to deliver crisp throws to their wide receivers.

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

 

Late in the fourth quarter, after the 49ers scored a field goal, Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson decided to take matters into his own hands. At their own 30 with a little over 7 minutes left in regulation, Wilson decided to use his legs when the pocket was collapsing. He single-handled led his team down the field. He threw a strike to Paul Richardson in the back of the end-zone for the game-winning drive. That touchdown marked the first time the Seahawks scored in 14 quarters. The storyline in this game was the pass protection that Wilson was not receiving. His offensive line struggled once again with trying to keep Wilson from getting hit, but that was not the case.

Wilson had to scramble plenty of times or rush throws because his pass protection was collapsing and he was not given enough time for throws down the field. The 49ers sacked Wilson three times and was hit several times before releasing the ball. Like week 1 against Green Bay, the Seahawks’ offense line has struggled and even though it is early, there are a lot of concerns with the O-Line.

Wilson was not happy about the win, but he said he will take it. “We had to find a way to get into the end zone and capitalize,” Wilson said. “We had been down there a few times earlier in the game and missed our opportunities there, so this was all we got. We’ve got to go make it happen right now.”Just tried to scramble and keep the play alive and guys did a really good job of moving and running around. Then P. Rich[ardson] did a phenomenal job of making a big-time play and scoring that touchdown.”

 

Wilson finished the game 23 of 39 for 198 yards. He added 34 yards on the ground. Despite their struggles with the offensive line, the Seahawks looked to have found their number one running back. Rookie sensation Chris Carson had an impressive game. He carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards. Carson has shown the organization that he belongs there. He is gaining confidence each week and it showed this week against the 49ers. He was more patient with finding the right holes to run through, bounce to the outside more, and took on tacklers after contact.

On the 49ers’ side, this loss marks the first time in 49ers’ history that they did not score a touchdown. “I’m not happy at all. I’m extremely disappointed,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Anytime you as a team think you put yourself in a position to win the game, you expect to win it. I felt like we had that opportunity and we didn’t get it done which is extremely disappointing.”

Seattle’s next game will be against the Titans.

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Dolphins at Chargers preview http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/dolphins-at-chargers-preview-2017/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/dolphins-at-chargers-preview-2017/#comments Sun, 17 Sep 2017 13:59:07 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170138 After Hurricane Irma postponed their Week 1 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Miami Dolphins will finally hit the field for the first time in 2017 on Sunday as they will take on the Los Angeles Chargers out on the west coast.

In their first game of the year on Monday night, the Chargers lost to the Denver Broncos 24-21 on a last-second field goal attempt that was blocked after Los Angeles came back from a 24-7 deficit entering the fourth quarter.

Miami holds a 15-13 all-time series advantage over Los Angeles. In their matchup last year, the Dolphins defeated the Chargers 31-24 as linebacker Kiko Alonso intercepted Philip Rivers’ pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown with 1:01 left to give Miami the win.

 Miami at Los Angeles

Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 17 at 4:05 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Los Angeles -3.5

 Three Things to Watch

1. Jay Cutler’s debut

Sunday will be the long-awaited debut of Miami’s new starting quarterback. After coming out of retirement on Aug. 6 to replace an injured Ryan Tannehill, Cutler played sparingly in two preseason games for the Dolphins. He has practiced plenty and his familiarity with head coach Adam Gase from their time together in Chicago should help with the transition as Cutler looks to find a rhythm early with his new team.

Cutler will have to be wary of the Chargers’ pass rush, which is led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. After combining for 18.5 sacks a year ago, the duo teamed up for three more on Monday night against Denver. So not only will Cutler have his work cut out for him, needing to get rid of the ball quickly, but his offensive line also will need to do its part.

2. Melvin Gordon

Last week against Denver, Gordon finished with 54 rushing yards on 18 carries. He added five catches for 25 yards and a touchdown as a receiver, but may be able to do more damage on the ground Sunday against a Miami defense that struggled against the run last season.

The Dolphins were 30th in the NFL In 2016 in rushing defense at 140.4 yards per game. In last year’s meeting, Gordon had 70 yards on the ground, but once again was effective as a receiver, finishing with 132 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches. He will be focal point of the game plan and someone Miami’s defense must account for whenever he’s on the field.

3. Dolphins’ defensive line

Cameron Wake and Andre Branch will be huge factors on Sunday if they can find a way to apply pressure on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Wake and Branch, along with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will try and get into the backfield early and often to disrupt the running game but also force Rivers to throw the ball before he wants to.

Last week against Denver’s aggressive pass rush and stout secondary, Rivers threw three touchdown passes but had just 192 yards through the air while completing 22 of his 33 attempts. He was sacked just once, but threw a costly interception on the opening drive of the second half that led to a Broncos touchdown and gave them a 21-7 lead.

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Arizona Coyotes 2017-2018 Training Camp http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-coyotes-2017-2018-training-camp/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-coyotes-2017-2018-training-camp/#comments Sun, 17 Sep 2017 13:00:48 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170135 With the start of the hockey season less than a month away, teams are now beginning to regroup with their respected teams to prepare for the upcoming season in training camp. It’s a great time for players to see one another once again and train to achieve the ultimate goal. For the Arizona Coyotes, players are about to meet some new faces within the group.

New players such as center Derek Stepan, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, goaltender Antti Raanta and many more including new head coach Rick Tocchet. “It’s been fun and I think it’s going more fun when the whole team is together,” Raanta said upon his arrival into the valley. Raanta is set to become the Coyotes starting goaltender and is excited to get started in that role. “You get butterflies in your stomach, but it’s going to be awesome,” Raanta added.

Another new member of the group, Derek Stepan, compared his role as the new guy in the group to him being “the new kid trying on the first day of school trying to find friends as fast as possible.” Stepan is set to be the Coyotes’ new number one center. When he arrived for the first time at training camp he was immediately excited, also feeling that this team “is a really hungry group,” and can’t wait to embrace his new role with the Yotes. Stepan is also ready to embrace his leadership role. “it’s something that when I was a young guy I had older guys do it for me so I want to do the same thing for them.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson is excited to play along side the Coyotes’ star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Hjalmarsson is use to playing with OEL in the Olympics for team Sweden and has formed a strong relationship with him. “It’ll be a fun Swedish connection,” Niklas added. Even Anthony Duclair stated that this duo “could be deadly.”

Returning players are also excited, but one player stands out amongst the rest of the group. Brad Richardson, who missed almost the entire season last year due to breaking his leg, seems to be the most excited to get back onto the ice. His expectations for himself is to not only stay healthy, but to get better again.

Even head coach Rick Tocchet can see the excitement in the group. “There’s a lot of energy” in this group, he added. Tocchet wants his players to “embrace the struggle” and face the reality that things will only be getting harder; “embrace the commitment,” he concluded.

As of now, the Coyotes still have no confirmed named captain. Although rumors are believed that Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be named the new captain, head coach Rick Tocchet and general manager John Chayka think that it will sort out on its own and that there is leadership all throughout the locker room. Tocchet mentioned that even guys “that haven’t had a letter were main leaders… good leadership is the heartbeat of the group,” he said.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is hoping to have a bounce-back season from last year as he struggled heavily due to the passing of his mother. He mentioned that he was glad he had the summer to deal with that whole situation, but is excited to refocus on hockey.

Max Domi is also ready to get back to work for the upcoming season. “We are confident that our team go better in the offseason… it’s an exciting group,” he said in a recent interview.

So it seems as though excitement is radiating all throughout this group of guys and are making the upcoming NHL season appear to be a highly promising one.

 

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Can The Steelers Offense Rebound in Week 2? http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/can-steelers-offense-rebound-week-2/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/can-steelers-offense-rebound-week-2/#comments Sat, 16 Sep 2017 21:12:28 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170130 If it wasn’t for Antonio Brown’s spectacular day on Sunday, the Steelers could be going into Week 2 with a loss. Le’Veon Bell’s role was limited, Martavis Bryant couldn’t catch, and the offensive line was dominated all day in the run game. So, how will the offense turn things around this week when they face a much better team and defense in the Minnesota Vikings?

First things first, the offensive line has to play better. 35 rushing yards is far from adequate for the Steelers, especially when they are facing the worst team in the NFL last season. Now, the blame isn’t solely on the offensive line, Bell played a limited role and didn’t make superior plays when his name was called. The Vikings are a better team against the run than the Browns are, making Pittsburgh’s task this week a bit difficult. With Le’Veon’s role expanded and the offensive line cutting down on the holding penalties, I expect the Steelers to break the century mark in total rushing yards.

The Steelers passing game started off the season on a bright note, thanks again to Brown, who accompanied for 69% of the teams receiving yards. Another highlight that shocked many Steelers fans, due to Mike Tomlin’s comment of not being ‘varsity enough’, was Jesse James’s 2 touchdown day. Ben Roethlisberger found a go to man in the redzone in James week 1, but we’ll see if this connection will spill over to the rest of the season. Bryant’s lack of production is a cause for concern. He finished the day with 6 targets, 2 drops, and 2 receptions for 14 yards. The Steelers expect more from him as the team’s number 2 receiver and he’ll need to deliver this week, because the Vikings were the 3rd best pass defense in the NFL last season. I expect Big Ben to take more vertical shots downfield to keep the Vikings defense on their toes and potential open up the running game.

TJ Watt and the Steelers defense lead the show week 1, look for Big Ben to take back his thrown this week in the team’s home opener against the Vikings.      

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Week 2, Shake the Blues http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/week-2-shake-blues/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/week-2-shake-blues/#comments Fri, 15 Sep 2017 13:30:03 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170121 Whew! Now that the “pressure” of going 16-0 has been released, the Arizona Cardinals can look to regroup in week two against a team who actually looked much worse than they did.  Bruce Arians and company will be on the road again in week two when they head to Indianapolis to take on the Colts, coached by Bruce’s longtime friend, Chuck Pagano.  When Pagano was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Arians served as the interim head coach and went on to win coach of the year honors that same year.  While the two may be likely to have dinner before or after game day, with hugs and handshakes before kickoff, the gloves on both of these proven fighters are coming off once the ball is in the air this Sunday.  They wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Neither team had any luck in week one, and with the Colts already announcing they’ll be out of Luck (Andrew) again this week, this is a must win for the Bird Gang.  With so many things being able to happen throughout a 16 game season, calling week two a must win might call for a bit of eye-rolling, but let’s look at the facts.  According to OddsShark, since 2007 there have been 75 teams that started off 0-2.  Only eight (9.4%) of those teams made the playoffs.  Should the Cardinals start off 0-2, you can be assured that their odds won’t be any better, especially with the recent loss of running back David Johnson.  As if an ugly week one loss wasn’t enough, Johnson has been diagnosed with a dislocated wrist that requires surgery and will miss two to three months.  With Johnson being one of the most dynamic running backs in the league, the Red Birds song of sorrow will undoubtedly be hummed along by fantasy owners throughout the land as well.

Carson Palmer had a poor game against the Lions. Period.  Someone watching a game for the first time could tell you that.  Sure, in week one the birds were probably a bit rusty and out of sync.  Receivers probably ran a few bad routes and had a handful of dropped passes.  Occasionally, Lions defenders just made great plays.  But it doesn’t matter.  Those are all excuses.  It was week one for the Lions too, and the scoreboard doesn’t care how the turnovers happened or who’s fault they were.  Say what you will about Carson but one thing is clear, he is a leader.  After a loss he’ll be the first to take blame, just as he did after the Lions game.  At age 37, and after battling back from two reconstructive knee surgeries, Palmer is here because he wants to win.  Remember in 2011 when Carson was quoted saying, “I have $80 million in the bank.  I don’t have to play football for money.  I’ll play it for the love of the game.”?  The only thing that has changed since is his age, and the amount of money in his account.  CP3 and the Red Sea want their first ring equally as bad.  Don’t doubt it.  On the other hand, the desire to win isn’t always enough to keep fans on your side.  Only winning can do that.  So if Carson Palmer is as resilient as head coach Bruce Arians says he is, he will need a big game in Indy this week against a Colts D that is missing a key pass defender in cornerback, Vontae Davis.  The all-pro corner injured his groin in week three of the preseason and has not been able to practice since.  Carson can’t do it by himself, though.  Outside of Larry Fitzgerald, someone else will need to step up.  Jaron Brown got the start at receiver last week and ended the game without a catch.  John Brown looked good, but appears to be suffering from yet another injury (quad) and has missed multiple days of practice.  Jermaine Gresham (TE)got suplexed on to the injury report (ribs) and has also missed multiple practices this week.  Someone needs to step up.  Will it be David Johnson’s replacement, Kerwynn Williams? JJ Nelson (WR)? Bueller?… Bueller?

Other notables joining Vontae on the injury list are offensive players Andrew Luck (QB), Ryan Kelly (C), and Denzelle Good (RT).  After watching film of the loss to Detroit, there was no sight of Carson Palmer on defense.  While his poor play may have contributed to putting the defense in a few tough positions, he wasn’t in charge of preventing Matthew Stafford from putting together another fourth quarter comeback.  In all fairness, there was also no sight of Deone Bucannon (LB) and Robert Nkemdiche (DE), either.  Both sat out with injuries against the Lions making the comeback against a tired defense a bit easier.  Barring any setbacks, it appears that Bucannon and Nkemdiche have a good shot at playing in Indy as they have taken part in limited practices this week.  Nkemdiche looked like a monster in preseason before being sidelined to a calf strain causing him to be inactive the final two preseason games and week one of the regular season.  He should be salivating at the chance to redeem what was for the most part a disappointing rookie season.  He will be going against a backup quarterback, protected by a backup right tackle, so don’t be surprised if Robert has a big day.  The Colts quarterback isn’t the only one that is going to be protected by a backup tackle.  Cardinals left tackle DJ Humphries is still out another one to two weeks with an MCL sprain.  Even after all of the injuries, and a dismal week one performance, Carson Palmer has remained positive.  In his most Aaron Rodgers-esque interview, Palmer reminded fans that the “the sky is not falling”, not yet anyways…but it’s certainly gloomy out.

The Cards will look to clear the skies this Sunday, September 17th.  Kickoff is set for 10am, Pacific Time.

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5 Questions For The Steelers Going Into Week 1 http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/5-questions-steelers-going-week-1/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/5-questions-steelers-going-week-1/#comments Thu, 14 Sep 2017 17:22:55 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170041
  • How will Joe Haden fit in on the Steelers Defense?
  • Haden will start opposite of Artie Burns this season and hopefully revamp a secondary that has been struggling as of late. He has only been with the team for a few weeks, will he be able to learn the defense and be efficient week 1? Also, will his age play a factor at all this season?

    1. Will Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell be productive from game 1?

    Both players are making debuts, but in different ways. Bryant is coming back from a 1 year suspension, while Bell will play in his game this season after holding out all of training camp. Will Bryant be able to pick up where he left off 2 years? Will Bell be rusty the first few weeks of the season? Look for the Steelers to use both of these players in reserve form (Especially Bell).

    1. Can TJ Watt handle the starting OLB position?

    Starting as a Rookie game 1, will put immense pressure on Watt to be successful. He played well throughout the preseason and definitely earned his starting position. The main thing to watch from Watt is his pass rushing ability. The Steelers have struggled the past few years at getting pressure on the quarterback. Will Watt be able to help change that?

    1. What will be Vance McDonald’s role?

    McDonald is another recent acquisition for the Steelers, coming from San Francisco. The Steelers have struggled to find a solid starter at tight end ever since Heath Miller retired. Last season the team acquired Ladarius Green, who didn’t fit the Steelers scheme. The Steelers also have 3rd year tight end, Jesse James, who Mike Tomlin says isn’t ‘varsity enough’ to consistently play the tight end position. McDonald will start the season reserve due to lack of knowledge of the Steelers offense, but will he be able to develop into the starting tight end Tomlin is looking for?

    1. How will the Steelers use Mike Hilton this season?

    Last, but not least, my favorite player to follow during training camp, Mike Hilton. He was a long shot to make the 53 man roster, but put together a remarkably productive camp. Now that training camp is over and the season is upon, how will the Steelers use Hilton? It’s okay to assume that he will continue to play on special teams as one of the team’s top gunners. However, will he play at all in the nickel spot and split reps with William Gay?

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    Arizona Cardinals vs Detroit Lions http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-cardinals-vs-detroit-lions/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-cardinals-vs-detroit-lions/#comments Thu, 14 Sep 2017 17:20:24 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170103 The Cardinals fell to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field this Sunday by a score of 23 to 35. In a game that started off with a Cardinal interception that was quickly taken for a touchdown  - it seemed like the game against the Lions was the Cardinals to lose, and lose they did. Throughout the game the Cardinal Offense consistently turned the ball over and put the Cardinal Defense in horrible field position which allowed the Lions offense to score easily.

     

    Offense:

    -       It looks like the Cardinals are going to have a very tough time keeping Carson Palmer standing up as starting Left Tackle D.J Humphries went out with a left knee injury and will miss some playing time. After a long game where the Cardinals had difficulty protecting Palmer, they are going to have a tougher time without D.J. Humphries – arguably their best pass blocker.

    -       Not only did the Cardinals lose Humphries, but they also lost their Star Running Back David Johnson. This may be a catastrophic loss as David Johnson was the biggest threat offensively for the Arizona Cardinals. Without him they will have a really tough time moving the ball at all this season.

    -       The Wide Receivers were terrible, throughout the entire game no one could get open against a very average Lions defense.

    david_johnson_lions_stoppage-620x370

    David Johnson injures Wrist in game against Lions.

     

    Defense:

    -       For a Cardinal team that led the league in sacks last year, it sure seemed like the Defense couldn’t get to Stafford  - as he easily picked apart the Cardinal secondary –  it seemed he was never really hurried to get rid of the football.

    -       There is a collective thought amongst Cardinal Fans that veteran Cornerback Justin Bethel needs to be more consistent opposite Patrick Peterson. Bethel started off the game with an amazing interception returned for a touchdown, but then followed it up with two touchdowns given up. The Cardinals cannot allow Justin to be a weak link in this defense or it will cause much trouble for this team going forward.

    -       The one positive that we can take from this horrific game the Cardinals put together was how well Rookie Linebacker Hassan Reddick looked in his first game as a pro. Reddick was stuffing Running Back Ameer Abdullah at the line of scrimmage as well as showing how versatile he is covering the flats in pass coverage.

    detroit-lions-vs-arizona-cardinals---september-10-2017-64af6e18c7a6e3f3

    Theo Riddick escapes a couple of Cardinals to find the endz one.

    Special Teams:

    -       If I were handing out grades, the Special Teams would get an incomplete. Phil Dawson missed a chip shot kick and put worry in all Cardinal fans minds – including my own. On kickoffs, they did a fairly decent job taking advantage of the Detroit Lions boneheaded attempts at running the ball out of the end zone.  Check back with me next week and I’ll be able to assign them an appropriate grade.

     

    Ben’s Take:

    -       After watching the preseason, I really thought the Cardinals had solved all their major problems. It seems I was completely wrong, they cannot protect Carson Palmer and now have to try to do so without D.J Humphries. The loss of David Johnson now means there isn’t much of a way to keep the opposing defenses honest. If the Cardinals want to save their season they better figure out a way to change up their offense. If there is good news, it’s that this is only the first regular season game – Go Cards!

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    Tennessee Titans Pick Six Versus The Jacksonville Jaguars http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/jags-titans/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/jags-titans/#comments Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:00:45 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170108

    Marcus Mariota remembers the last time he played in Jacksonville, but unfortunately it was not a good memory for him and the Titans. Mariota suffered a leg injury in that game last season and the Titans would ultimately go down to a pretty bad Jacksonville team 38-17, ultimately ending their playoff chances. The year is now 2017 and the Titans now get to return to the scene of the crime where it all went down. The Titans face the Jaguars in their first AFC South tilt of the season. While the Jags will be looking for their first 2-0 start in a long time, the Titans will be looking for their first win of the year and trying to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start (many don’t survive that and make the playoffs). So which one will win? Will the Titans sense the desperation or will the Jags continue to try and make everyone believers? Well, if the Titans are to win, there are definitely a few things they have to make happen. Let’s take a look at the Titans Pick Six for this week versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.

     

    Offense

    1) Tough Guy Football

    Taylor Lewan

    The Titans running game was non-existent for the most part last week and that is very atypical of them. The Raiders played more physical up front than the Titans did and that was certainly not expected. In this one, the Titans match up against a physical defensive line that has a playmaker they have to account for in Dante Fowler Jr. The best way to neutralize Fowler Jr and the front seven of the Jags is to be physical and assert your will. If the Titans do that, then everything else could fall into place

    2) Get ‘Em Quickly

    Delanie Walker running with the football

    The Titans passing game last weekend was better than many probably expected it to be although it could have been better. They attacked the Raiders deep down the field and were able to make some plays to stretch the field. That may have worked against the Raiders, but the Titans have a different duo to see this weekend in Jacksonville in AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. This duo helped keep the Texans passing game in check. Even though the Texans did not have much go right for them last weekend, the thing that did help them was the quick passing game. The Titans have those type of weapons that can affect people in the quick game and they have a better quarterback too. The Titans get that going early, then look for them to pop a deep one later.

    3) The  Hour(s) Of Desperation

    DeMarco Murray running the football

    The Tennessee Titans are facing a potential 0-2 start and the percentages are very low for teams making the playoffs after an 0-2 start. We know the offense is the bellcow of this team and they set the tempo. In this one, they have to also be the emotional barometer of the Titans team. So in this one, look for players like tight end Delanie Walker, running back DeMarco Murray and right tackle Taylor Lewan to come out and show some emotion early and let this Titans team know how important this game is. The Titans need this game and it is up to the offense and their main players to show up and lead the way.

     

     

    Defense

    1) Hold That Line

    jurrell casey rusing the passer

    The Tennessee Titans built themselves around being a run-stuffing team last season and many a team struggled with handling their front seven. Well, the first game was something that was atypical of them as the Raiders got what they needed in their ground game and that set up everything else for them in the passing game. If the Titans thought the Raiders were a challenge then they really could have a challenge in the Jaguars running game. Rookie Leonard Fournette was a bully in the run game versus the Houston Texans last week, accumulating 100 yards on 26 carries and also getting into the endzone for the first time in his professional career. The Titans must have better run fits than they had last week along with being quicker off the football. If they are able to do that, then they could give the Jacksonville Jags some issues because from what it looks like, the Jags will be focusing on the running game more than in the past.

    2) Make Bortles The Man

    Blake Bortles throwing the football

    As I previously stated, the running game was the key to Jacksonville’s first win this season and they just bullied the Texans up front. While that was amazing, what wasn’t amazing was the passing game with Blake Bortles. The fourth-year quarterback may have got off against the Titans last season (26/38 for 325 and 1 touchdown), but he struggled mightily in his first game this year, only going 11/21 for 125 yards and no touchdowns. If the Titans stop the run, the Jags passing game will have to win it for them. Being that Jacksonville’s best pass-catcher, wide receiver Allen Robinson, is out for the season, things will be that much tougher for Bortles to make things happen. If he is able to do so then it then it will surprise some folks, but with the Titans knowing the Jags would have to pass, then it could be one of those games for Jacksonville fans that they may want to watch with both hands over their eyes.

    3) Where’s Orapko?

    Brian Orapko

    The Titans are asking that same question themselves. Brian Orapko has been pretty solid for the Titans over his time here, but the first game was definitely out of character for him. The veteran outside linebacker was noticeably absent in the first game of the season, not even registering a sack or a quarterback hit. For a guy that is considered the best pass rusher on the Titans, this is truly unacceptable for him. The Titans need him to come out and set the tone in this game and not only does that mean getting sacks but it also means quarterback pressures and things like that. If he is able to make some things happen, he will make things a lot easier not only for the Titans defense but for the secondary of the Titans, which has not gotten a lot of good attention the last year or so.

    Who would have thought the second game of the season would be the most critical game of the Titans season so far? Based off the first game of the season, it surely has taken that type of importance for Tennessee. Jacksonville has always been talented but the first game showed everyone what can happen when the Jaguars play together with energy and are on the same page. If they come out with that same type of energy, Tennessee will have to match that and then some. Will they or won’t they? We will find out Sunday!

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    Washington State; Is it time to Panic http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-featured-on-homepage/washington-state-time-panic/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-featured-on-homepage/washington-state-time-panic/#comments Wed, 13 Sep 2017 06:47:46 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170098 Should we hit the panic button yet for Washington University? Last week Boise State exposed them on both sides of the ball. Until the third quarter, Boise State had the right ingredients to form an upset, but it did not happen. Boise State coughed up the ball a couple of times late in the fourth quarter and that was when WSU got their heads out of their butts and started making plays down the field to secure the victory. One concern was the running game, which was not there last weekend. The running attack was semi existent against Boise State. They had only 22 rushing yards against Boise State, which made it hard for the team to get into any type of productivity out of their key players.

    Image result for wsu football

    If they had a running attack, maybe they wouldn’t have been down 21 points in the second half. If they played a bigger team in After coming back from a 21 deficit against Boise State last week and won the game in the third overtime 47-44, the Cougs have to understand that they need to read opponents’ defenses faster. WSU’s QB Luke Falk was out of sync in the first half. He was hit, hurried, and had some crucial mistakes down the line that could have been avoided. Falk seems to hold on to the ball too long or try to fit the ball in some tight spaces for his wide receivers.the Pac 12 it would be another story. WSU was lucky to cap off drives by Boise States mistakes and make a game of it. WSU’s defense was great with doing what they needed

    WSU was lucky to cap off drives by Boise States mistakes and make a game of it. WSU’s defense was great with doing what they needed to survive last’s weeks game, but this week they will face Oregon State and it will be a test to see how tired they are from playing last week. Oregon State is known to shock people with their defensive, so WSU has to keep their foot on the gas if they score first. Only time will tell if the Cougs can keep this hot streak going.

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    Different Year, Different Set Of Issues For Tennessee http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/titans-issues/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/titans-issues/#comments Tue, 12 Sep 2017 13:00:57 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170087

    The Tennessee Titans have been talked about a lot this preseason. There are plenty that have them making the playoffs and there are even some people that have them making some noise in the playoffs. While all that may still be true, it seemed like the hype train was running out of control heading into the first game. The opponent the Titans were facing in the season opener had the same if not more preseason hype. The Oakland Raiders made the playoffs last season and this season returned a lot of their same pieces along with adding tight end Jared Cook and running back Marshawn Lynch. They were so built up that people even had them in the Super Bowl. Both potential playoffs contenders met in Nashville at Nissan Stadium in what plenty looked at as one of the best games of Opening Weekend. The game was close throughout but eventually the Raiders would pull away from the Titans, winning the game 26-16 in front of a raucous crowd. The win was a solid one for the Raiders, but it was definitely a game that Tennessee definitely will lament. The Titans could have won this game but some unexpected issues reared their ugly heads in this one.

    Being physical up front and running the football has been a part of the DNA of the Titans under head coach Mike Mularkey. With DeMarco Murray and the physical offensive line, the Titans became a team you had to get the cold tub ready for the next day because of how sore you were after facing them. The running game they produced was one of the best in the NFL in 2016, ranking third in the entire league. So heading into this season, the Titans were expected to pick up right where they left off against the Raiders, who ranked 23rd against the run last season. Well, things did not go as well as the Titans expected them to when it came to running the football. DeMarco Murray was not able to really get on track, as he only got 12 carries for the game and was only able to accumulate 44 yards rushing. This is a far cry from what he did last season versus the Raiders, as he ran for 114 yards and averaged over seven yards per carry. The Raiders were aggressive in stopping what the Titans do best and made them a passing team. The Titans did make some plays in the passing game, but they usually make the plays in the passing game off of the running game. In this one, the Raiders were able to make the Titans one-dimensional, which made them easier to defend.

    The offense looked a little off for the Titans and so did the defense. Just like the Titans offense was physical up front last season, so was the Titans defense. The Titans finished last season second in the NFL in rushing defense, right behind the Dallas Cowboys. This offseason they spent money in the secondary thinking they would still be solid up front against the run. Well, the thing the Titans defense was banking on working for them did not work as well as they thought. The Titans did have some stops that they made when Oakland was running the football, but they surely did not stop the football with the veracity they did last season. The Raiders combination of Jalen Richard and Marshawn Lynch combined to average over 4 yards per carry in the game and got timely first downs when they needed them. The play that stood out the most is when Marshawn Lynch ran through Jurrell Casey late in the game, throwing Casey aside like he was some straggler hanging on. That type of effort in stopping the run is not what the Titans expected at all and is something that will more than likely stick with them this week in preparation.

    Other than the unusual issues that no one expected to see, there is one that the Titans still have yet to figure out defensively. The Titans pass defense was not very good last season and they thought they went out and remedied that with the additions of former Jaguars safety Jonathan Cyprien and former Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan. Well, the Raiders are a high-powered offense and thrive with their passing game, but you would have thought the Titans would at least be able to slow them down. Honestly, the Titans did not even phase David Carr and crew as they he pretty much did what he wanted when throwing the football all game long. The Raiders were hitting Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper and Jared Cook whenever they wanted to it seemed. As a result of that, it made things harder for the Titans defense and it also kept them on the field longer than they wanted to be out there probably.

    Overall, the Titans still gave themselves a chance to win the game on Sunday, but some issues the Titans were just not able to overcome. The interesting part about the issues the Titans had on Sunday is that we don’t know if this is a continuous pattern or not. What we do know if their next opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars and from their first game, they love to run the football at people. As far the Jacksonville defense, you can expect the Titans to use them to try and establish their run game like it was well-established last season. In the end, this is only one loss for the Titans and they could very well reel off a few wins after this one. The season is not over for them yet.

    Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr
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    Anthony Duclair Re-signs with the Coyotes http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/anthony-duclair-re-signs-coyotes/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/anthony-duclair-re-signs-coyotes/#comments Mon, 11 Sep 2017 13:00:36 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170075 As the offseason went by, the Arizona Coyotes were signing and re-signing players left and right, all but one player. Up until recently, Coyotes forward Anthony Duclair was the only Coyote to remain unsigned. With his poor stats last year, it was very clear that signing Duclair was going to be a flip of the coin, but Duclair signed himself a one-year contract with the Coyotes for 1.2 million.

    In his rookie season, Duclair put up 20 goals, 24 assists and 44 points overall. With stats like that in just his rookie year alone, Duclair was turning out to be a power forward. By his second NHL season, the Quebec native only managed to put up 5 goals, 10 points and 15 points overall. In Duclair’s “sophomore slump” season, he was even sent down to the Coyotes minor team the Tucson Roadrunners for a few weeks.

    It was no surprise that the Coyotes were hesitant on re-signing Duclair after a season like that, but they decided to give him another chance.
    Duclair is hopeful to have a bounce back season and wants to “prove himself on this one year deal… that he can play at an elite level,” he said.  He also said that after looking at his play style from last year in videos, it was an “eye opener” and he had no doubt to why he struggled so heavily last season.

    General Manager, John Chayka, stated that he expects Duclair to “earn the opportunity at the high level.” With a new head coach coming to town, Chayka is hopeful that playing for Rick Tocchet will help him achieve that opportunity.
    The Coyotes GM also mentioned that this was “a good lesson” for Duclair as he came off of his entry level contract and that he has to earn his next contract based on his performance.

    Duclair is excited for the up coming season. He also mentioned that this season is all about proving to not only management, but to himself that he belongs here in Arizona. With a new-found confidence in himself, its no surprise that Duclair is excited to play along side the new center Derek Stepan.
    “Whoever I’m playing with, I’m going to do my best to help this team win,” he said. “I’m just happy to be where I’m at right now, and I feel like I’m in really good shape to have a big year.”

    In the words of John Chayka, “the sky’s the limit” for Anthony Duclair. Will he return to his normal scoring self again or have another slump season? Depending on whatever happens, this could be Duclair’s last chance with the Coyotes organization.

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    Seahawks Struggles continue as they opened the season up with a loss to the Packers (16-9) http://proplayerinsiders.com/home-page-carousel/seahawks-struggles-continue-opened-season-loss-packers-16-9/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/home-page-carousel/seahawks-struggles-continue-opened-season-loss-packers-16-9/#comments Mon, 11 Sep 2017 03:43:56 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170083 Seattle, WA- The Seattle Seahawks’ offensively struggled with the pass rush of the Green Bay Packers the entire game and could not get a victory in their season opener. They went on to lose 16-9. Seattle’s troubles continue with their offensive line that could not give Russell Wilson time in the pocket to deliver strikes to his receivers. He was constantly scrambling out of the pocket to make something happen, but the Packers’ defense held him in check.

    In the first half Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers looked out of sync and it looked like the Seahawks’ defense were in control of the game until a controversial call changed the flow of the game. Jeremy Lane was ejected after allegedly throwing a punch. Since Lane was ejected, Shaquill Griffin took his position and was not effective. Up until the last 50 seconds of the first half, both teams struggled to get into their stride. With 50 seconds left, a couple good running plays, and a throw that was good enough to get the Seahawks in field goal position, the Seahawks put three points on the board.

    Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers

     

    However in the second half, the Packers put together a couple of good drives to put points on the board. Rodgers looked to have injured his foot in third quarter, but he stuck it out. That would be something to watch moving forward in the season. Everything was going wrong for Seattle, they could not get yards on the ground. Rookie Chris Carson showed that he could be explosive by running on the edge for a 15 yard gain, but that was about it. He finished the game with only 39 yards. Eddie Lacy had only 3 yards on 5 touches and was not effective on blocking plays. The team had a total of 90 yards on the ground. Wilson finished the game with 158 yards.

    After a game like this, the Seahawks have to be concern with their offensive line and the hits that Wilson is taking. It is only the first game of the season, but Wilson took a lot of hits and was seen on the ground more than he was standing up. With moving forward the O-Line have to do a better job with protecting their QB.

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    What was learned from today’s Los Angeles Rams win http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/learned-todays-los-angeles-rams-win/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/learned-todays-los-angeles-rams-win/#comments Mon, 11 Sep 2017 02:30:57 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170079 Yes, everyone knows that the Los Angeles Rams clobbered the Indianapolis Colts 46-9 earlier today. But this article is about what was learned from today’s game from an analyst of the Rams.

    First off, the Rams have a keeper in kicker GREG ZUERLEIN. He was perfect on field goals (3 for 3) and on extra points (5 for 5). If that wasn’t enough, he also saw all nine of kickoffs sail into the end zone for touchbacks. It’s a good thing the Rams have him locked up through the 2019 season. Punter JOHNNY HEKKER was also money as far as doing his job today. He averaged 43.5 yards per punt and sent all five of his punts inside the Colts 20-yard line. He and Zuerlein make up one of the better punting and kicking duos in the NFL.

    The days when the Rams were waiting for TAVON AUSTIN to emerge as their number one or two receiver are gone. The Rams have moved on to other receivers (more on them later), and they just want Austin to provide excitement here and there as a complimentary receiver and as a punt and kick return specialist. SAMMY WATKINS (5 catches for 58 yards) is that deep receiver that the Rams lacked in 2016. He was targeted by Goff five times today and he accepted every one of those passes. He challenged the Colts defense today in the short, intermediate and deep areas. He’s a keeper provided he stays healthy.

    SEAN MANNION can play, but if Goff plays the way he did today, then Mannion will never see the field again unless Goff gets hurt or has a catastrophic 2017 season. JARED GOFF played within himself today, and he established rapport with the receivers who are responsible for making him look good. Goff must play like he did today or at least near that level for the Rams to be a contender in the NFC West this year or next year.

    ROBERT WOODS (3 catches for 53 yards) made his regular season debut in his hometown today and he didn’t disappoint. He dropped two passes today, but other than that he showed that he can be a safety mechanism for Goff down the line. The Rams will need his services when they get into the teeth of their schedule. Possession/deep threats like him are invaluable in divisional games in the November and December portion of a team’s schedule.

    And then there was COOPER KUPP. He led the Rams in receiving today with 4 catches for 76 yards and 1 score. Kupp worked himself into a lather this offseason to have a game like he did today. He is an up and coming receiver. Cornerback LAMARCUS JOYNER (4 tackles, 1 interception, and 2 passes defensed) took an interception 29 yards to the end zone late in the third quarter, which really closed the door on any chance the Colts thought they had of trying to make a rally. Joyner could emerge as one of the Rams better corners this year as he will be assigned an opposing teams’ number one or two receiver. He needs to be on his game to help the Rams have success on defense this year.

    TRUMAINE JOHNSON’s 39-yard interception return for a score in the first quarter help set the tone for the Rams in this game and it let the Colts know that this is not the 2016 LA Rams. He needs to be a ball hawk, big-time cover man, and a big-play guy for the Rams this year, because he’s pretty much the Rams’ number one corner. Hybrid safety/linebacker MARK BARRON is a keeper in the short area and as a run defender. Running back TODD GURLEY was asked to do a lot today and he was ready for it. But so was the Colts defense. The Colts contained Gurley today, especially in the run game. He carried 19 times for 40 yards and 1 score and he had 5 catches for 56 yards today. Going forward, Gurley has to be big in the running and passing game for the Rams to score points or to set up other players to score.

    Third-year running back MALCOLM BROWN (7 carries for 16 yards and 1 score) needs more carries and he needs to emerge as a complement or one of the running game complements to Gurley. It’s about time for the Rams to see if Brown or LANCE DUNBAR can be complimentary backs to Gurley. ALEC OGLETREE had a quiet game today, but he needs to show if he can be that run-stiffer or keep it short (an inside linebacker who consistently tackles running backs up the middle for short gains or no gain) inside defender. Backup outside linebacker CORY LITTLETON down the line can be a helpful special teams player and occasional pass rusher for this Rams defense. He has a lot of energy and he likes to make things happen. JOHN SULLIVAN held it down at center today and he moves well in space and in his own area. The Rams need his skills and veteran leadership on their offensive line, considering what they went through last year with this unit.

    Left tackle ANDREW WHITWORTH looked good today in pass protection. And he is a serious upgrade at left tackle over what they had in 2016. He’s a no-nonsense player, a hard worker, and has good enough feet/athleticism to keep right defensive ends and outside linebackers off of Goff’s back. Defensive end MATT LONGACRE is a keeper. He had 1 sack and 1 quarterback hurry today. But those stats are a small representation of what he can provide the Rams with as far as pass rush and run defense.

    In conclusion, the Rams look like a much better team than the 2016 version. The free agent signees and the emerging home-grown players will be key to the Rams’ success in 2017 and helping to erase the disaster that was the 2016 season. Is this a playoff team? It’s too early to say that. But this is a team that can contend in the NFC West this year.

     

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    The Los Angeles Rams batter Indianapolis Colts in season opener http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/los-angeles-rams-batter-indianapolis-colts-season-opener/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/los-angeles-rams-batter-indianapolis-colts-season-opener/#comments Sun, 10 Sep 2017 23:30:55 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170071 The Los Angeles Rams officially put the disastrous 2016 season to bed with a 46-9 punch out of the Indianapolis Colts at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

    Rams (1-0) quarterback JARED GOFF was pretty efficient today as he 21 of 29 for 306 yards, 1 score and no picks. Today’s win gave him his first NFL victory and ran his starting record to 1-7 since the 2016 season. He needed a game like this, because Los Angeles and Orange County area fans and media have been on his case in negative way since he lost (14-10) his first start against the Miami Dolphins back on November 20, 2016.

    Goff was cool and calm in the pocket, he went through his progressions, and he distributed his passes to seven different offensive players. Today’s game was the type of performance that the Rams front office, Los Angeles media, and Rams fans have clamoring for from Goff.

    This year—–and it was evident in this game—–he has more weapons to work with and provided those weapons can stay healthy and consistent, Goff may be on to something.

    As for the Colts (0-1), they were bereft of their franchise player in quarterback ANDREW LUCK who was inactive today because of a right shoulder injury. The Colts just aren’t the same without him and today that was clearly evident.

    Luck’s backup, seven-year veteran SCOTT TOLZIEN was under siege by the Rams pass rush  and he also threw two pick-sixes that helped set the tone for how this game went. Tolzien finished 9 of 18 for 128 yards, no touchdown passes and 2 interceptions. He also was sacked 4 times.

    The first touchdown of the game came courtesy of Rams cornerback TRUMAINE JOHNSON. Johnson on 3rd and 10 from the Colts 25-yard line, jumped in front of intended receiver TY HILTON and intercepted Tolzien’s pass. Then the defender raced 39 yards untouched into the end zone for an eventual 10-0 Rams lead with 11:10 left in the first quarter.

    The Rams furthered their lead, when Gurley took a Goff handoff and willed his way into the end zone from 5 yards out. That run gave the Rams their first offensive touchdown of the 2017 season and it gave them a 17-3 lead with 9:37 left in the second quarter.

    Rams rookie wide receiver COOPER KUPP (he led the Rams today in receiving today, with 4 catches for 76 yards and 1 score) scored the first touchdown of his career, when he got behind the Colts defense for an 18-yard score. That play gave the Rams a commanding 24-3 lead with 5:20 left in the first half.

    The Rams went into halftime with a 27-3 lead, after GREG ZUERLEIN executed a chip shot 35-yard field goal.

    The Rams really put this game away when on 1st and 10 from the Colts 25-yard line, cornerback LAMARCUS JOYNER jumped in front of Hilton and took Tolzien’s pass 29 yards to the house for a 37-3 lead. At that point it was 7:15 left in the third quarter.

    Colts rookie running back and former South Florida University star MARLON MACK (10 carries for 24 yards and 1 score), scored the first touchdown of his career, which was an uncontested 3-yard run. That play put the score at 37-9 after kicker ADAM VINATIERI missed the extra point. At that point it was 11:32 left in the contest.

    Then third-year running back MALCOLM BROWN got into the scoring act, when he followed his offensive linemen and his own will into the end zone from 3-yards out. By the way that was Brown’s first touchdown of his career. With 4:28 left in the game the score went to 46-9.

     

     

     

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    Bills’ run wildly against the Jets http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-carousel/bills-run-wildly-jets/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-carousel/bills-run-wildly-jets/#comments Sun, 10 Sep 2017 21:34:55 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170072 Buffalo, NY- The Buffalo Bills were very impressive on the ground as they pounded the New York Jets in a 12-21 victory. Coming into the game, there were many concerns about how the Bills were going to get in a rhythm and get the ball in the end zone. That question was answered as the Bills dominated the Jets on both sides of the ball. Bills’ QB Tyrod Taylor was very decisive with getting his wide receivers into the game early. Jordan Matthews caught a beautiful pass that was in between defenders to get the Bills in scoring position in the first half. He finished the game with only two receptions for 61 yards.

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    However, LeSean McCoy came to play. He sliced and diced the Jets’ defense and finished the game with 111 yards on the ground. The Bills’ defense looked sharp as they got the Jets off the field in third down situations. They brought a lot of different schemes that the Jets did not recognize. They put pressure on Josh McCown and their running backs and made sure that the Jets were one dimensional.  On the ground, the Jets struggled and only combined for 40 yards. McCown finished the game 26/39 for 187 with 2 ints.

    Despite the Bills’ success, they still struggled with penalties. They had 6 crucial penalties for over 50 yards. Last season they were the most penalized team in the league, giving up over 100 yards a game. In order for them to hang in their division and make a playoff push, they need to keep penalties at a minimum.

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    NFL Kickoff: Jets at Bills http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfl-kickoff-jets-bills/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfl-kickoff-jets-bills/#comments Sun, 10 Sep 2017 19:44:47 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170046 After a long and eventful offseason football is back in Buffalo. The Buffalo Bills hosted the New York Jets at New Era Field for a week one matchup between the in-state, division rivals. The Jets and the Bills represent the bottom tier of teams from the AFC East a season ago as the Bills managed to go 7-9 while the Jets a less than stellar 5-11. A fresh season always inspires hope for the Buffalo Bills as they look to put an end to their 17-year playoff drought. One thing that is for certain, the winner of this matchup would at least momentarily have a share of first place in the division following the week one New England Patriots loss.

    The 2017 season for the Bills would start with them in control of their own fate as the Jets deferred possession of the ball to the Bills. On their first drive of the season, the Buffalo offense under new head coach Sean McDermott showed potential and promise. The Bills compiled over 40-yards of rushing on their opening drive, highlighted by Mike Tolberts’ first carry as a Bill going for 16-yards. Tolbert would finish his Bills debut with over 50 all purpose yards and a touchdown. A big impact for an offense that has relied so heavily on the run the past two seasons. The cheers from the Buffalo fans would soon turn to dismay as Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was picked off in the end zone off of the hands of tightened Charles Clay. Juston Burres, the defensive back on the play would return the pick 48-yards putting an end to the Bills first possession.

    Following a three and out on their first possession, the Bills would be backed up from near their own end zone once more. The newest Bill, rookie Zay Jones made his presence known early, capitalizing with his chemistry with Taylor on a 21-yard reception for the first of his career. Jordan Matthews, the Bills other starting receiver acquired in the offseason from the Bills secured his first reception late in the first quarter for 14-yards on third down.

    The Bills and their stifling defense caused problems for the Jets throughout the first quarter. The Bills outgained the Jets 123 to 6 in the first as they could not seem to get anything going as they only had possession for little over 4 minutes.

    The second quarter would be a different story for the Bills offense. Marching down the field for over 75-yards the Bills would put their first score on the board. A 1-yard pass from Taylor to Clay would give the Bills their first score of the season and Clay’s fifth score in his last five games. The score was made possible thanks to a LeSean McCoy 23-yard run down the sideline and over 25-yards by Tolbert. The Bills new kicker, Steven Hauschka added the extra point making it 7-0.

    As the Bills looked at some of their newest play makers for offense support the Jets would do the same. Acquired less than two weeks ago, Jets quarterback Josh McCown hooked up with former Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse for over 20-yards through the air. The Jets would settle for a Chandler Catanzaro 48-yard field goal to put them on the board midway through the second.

    Trading blows back and forth the Bills were able to exploit the Jets defense continually as it was big play galore for the Bills offense. On their following drive, the Bills picked up over 55-yards on two plays back to back. Taylor was able to connect with a wide open Clay in space for 35-yards into Jets territory before being pushed out of bounds. McCoy would follow that up with his own big play, a 20-yard run up the gut of the Jets defense. The offense moving down the field but not capitalizing was a story early on for the Bills as they had to settle for a 46-yard field goal attempt. The Hauschka kick was no good for his first attempt and miss of the season.

    The Jets offensive woes would continue as they were only able to pick up 11-yards of rushing in the first half. Even with the lack of offensive support, the Jets were able to pull close with another Catanzaro field goal. With just under two minutes left in the first, a 52-yard field goal made it 7-6 heading into the half.

    The offense for both sides would be hard to come by coming out of the half. Both teams seemed to have trouble making any adjustments at half offensively as both teams punted the ball away early in the third. With little over 8 minutes left in the third, the Bills offense came alive for their biggest play of the day, a 47-yard strike to Jordan Matthews who showed his big play ability on the run after the catch. Followed by a Taylor run the Bills were within striking distance once more from the 1-yard line. Connecting on his second one-yard passing touchdown of the day, this time to Andre Holmes. On the drive, Tyrod Taylor would become the Bills all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback. The Bills would add to their lead, 14-6.

    Offense in the NFL tends to come in pairs and thats exactly what occur immediately following their score. Putting together their first sustained drive of the game the Jets marched down into Bills territory once more. An 11-play 75-yard drive saw the Jets score their first touchdown of the season. A 21-yard Will Tye reception and an ArDarius Stewart near touchdown set up the Jets score. On fourth down McCown snuck in behind his offensive line for a one-yard run. The Jets would fail to convert the 2-point conversion keeping the Bulls up top 14-12.

    The scoring would only pick up as defense took a back seat in the final quarter. The Bills kicked off the fourth quarter by continuing to add to their lead. A 27-yard run by McCoy set up Nick O’Learly’s 22-yard reception that was stopped just yards short of the end zone. Making it a trio the Bills capped off the drive with their third one-yard score of the day, this time Mike Tolbert punched it in for six, his first as a Bill.

    The Bills defense would step up when called upon. Picking off a pass midway through the fourth quarter, the first year Bill, Jordan Poyer helped insure a Bills victory by removing any thought of a Jets comeback. The top performer on the day was the Bills LeSean McCoy who picked up over 100-yards on the ground and added over 50 through the air, nearly out gaining the Jets entirely by himself.

    The Bills would hang on to the victory 21-12, getting their first win of the season and moving to the top of the AFC East. The Bills will travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers in week two.

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    2017 Season Preview (Arizona Cardinals) http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/2017-season-preview-arizona-cardinals/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/2017-season-preview-arizona-cardinals/#comments Sat, 09 Sep 2017 23:15:03 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=170034  

    Arizona Cardinal fans are excited as the season is finally upon us and after a preseason that seemed like it would never end, it’s finally over. It’s time now to put down the analytical work and watch the season unfold. On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals will open up their 2017 campaign on the road against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Cardinals look to bounce back after a very disappointing 2016 season where they finished the season far below expectations at 7-8-1. If the Cardinals would like to bid for a Super Bowl title then it’s time for a complete turnaround.

     

    Offense:

    -         If the Cardinals want to stay remotely relevant in the 2017 season then they must keep Quarterback Carson Palmer healthy – which means that the offensive line needs to step up and keep the pocket clean. If Carson Palmer is knocked around this year then don’t be surprised if the Arizona Cardinals go 5-11 on the season.

    -         The Arizona Cardinals “no risk it, no biscuit” mentality was nonexistent in 2016. In order to have a bounce back season then the Cardinals must bring back the “no risk it, no biscuit” attitude by capitalizing on the big play opportunities that will send opposing teams into a shock.

    -         David Johnson needs to be the Offensive Player of the year. I know it’s a tall order, but the third-year player must realize that the stakes have been raised and if the Cardinals expect to be competitive in 2017 then they need a superstar player to guide them.

    -         With the exception of Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Wide Receivers were absolutely terrible last year. The Cardinals receivers had all sorts of problems  – whether it was a lingering injury like John Brown or legal issues like Michael Floyd. Nevertheless, it’s a new year and a new day for the Cardinal Wide Receivers and they need to make their presence felt each and every game.

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    Leader of the offense David Johnson runs hard in a game vs the Redskins last year.

    Defense:

    -         The most important key for the Cardinals Defense in 2017 is Safety Tyrann Mathieu – after having a mediocre campaign in 2016 – he’s looking ready for action. Mathieu looks to have a bounce back season after a full year of recovery from yet another ACL injury suffered in the 2015 season. Although, some fans firmly believe that the honey badger is back and ready for the season, he still needs to prove it in the regular season.

    -         The Cardinals Defense led the league in sacks in 2016 with 48 total sacks. They desperately need to duplicate this number or at least get close to it in order to take the pressure off the Offense of the Cardinals.

    -         Bruce Arians says he isn’t worried about the cornerbacks this year. Well, that makes one of us Bruce, because outside of Cardinals Superstar Cornerback Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals were pretty bad and allowed way too many big play opportunities and if those don’t shrink in 2017 then it’s going to be tough sledding all year long defensively.

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    Leaders of the Defense Chandler Jones and Markus Golden celebrate after a sack.

    Special Teams:

    -         For the Special teams I really only have one key to the Arizona Cardinals and that’s to make a play when your name is called to make a play. Whether it’s Phil Dawson draining a 48-yard field goal to win the game or just to contain punt and kick returners, make the play, it’s all we ask.

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    Phil Dawson of the Special Teams locked in during training camp.

     

    Ben’s Take:

    Personally, I believe the Arizona Cardinals were bit hard by the injury bug and I believe that was a huge factor to the Cardinals regress in 2016. However, it’s a new year this year and the Cardinals come into 2017 with a chip on their collective shoulders ready to prove the critics wrong. For this reason I think the Cardinals are a wildcard playoff team finishing the season 10-6, but only if they follow all my keys to this season.

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