Chip falls again

By Melvin Jackson III

The San Francisco 49ers moved to a big pretty stadium a couple of years ago and they put a horrible product on the field to open to the season. Everything went wrong for them. Hyde got hurt, Kaepernick was not living up to the hype and head coach Jim Tomsula was in over his head. Fast forward to 2016 and the 49ers have a new face at the helm: Chip Kelly.

Sports fans across the world had no idea why Chip got another chance to coach. I personally thought he would have been back to college football where he was a dominant force for Oregon. I was wrong and the simple minded 49er organization gave him another chance. This off-season there were rumors that Kaepernick could be traded and it almost happened. It ultimately came down to money. If that was not a issue, then he would probably be on the Broncos roster right now instead of Mark Sanchez.

The 49ers took on the Houston Texans in week 1 of the pre-season. Blaine Gabbert started at the quarterback position because Kaepernick was out with an injury. Chip Kelly is still running the fast pace offense and a little bit of the pistol. The team struggled on defense the whole game and appeared to run of out gas. The run defense is very suspect but on a brighter note they can tackle very well.

The offense was a little shaky and the running backs, other then Carlos Hyde, will leave a lack luster taste in your mouth. Chip still has not learned what a zone blocking running back is. He made that mistake with DeMarco Murray and he is going to do the same with Hyde. The 49ers fell to the Texans at home and once again Chip fell too.

 

San Francisco 49ers Player Focus: Colin Kaepernick

Sports Elite 

By Brian Jones

It’s rare a to see a player of Colin Kaepernick‘s skill set have a fall from grace as big as the one Kaepernick has. The man who was once considered the future of the San Francisco franchise, if not the NFL, is possibly on the verge of becoming an afterthought in the Bay Area.

Following a trip to Super Bowl XLVII, two consecutive NFC Championship appearances and a 17-6 record compiled as a starter, Kaepernick was the toast of the NFL in many circles and was rewarded with a six-year, $114-million-dollar contract. Since then, however, things have not gone well. He’s only gone 14-16 with no playoff appearances and is now locked in a quarterback competition with former top 10 pick Blaine Gabbert. How did someone with this much natural ability and skill, get himself in this situation?

A change in offensive philosophy could be to blame (he was also injured last season as well). When he first named starter, former head coach Jim Harbaugh gave him certain freedoms within the offense that utilized and maximized Kaepernick’s athleticism, but protected him by not exposing his weaknesses and shortcomings as a quarterback. Over the last season and a half Kaepernick has regressed. His accuracy has been off, his completion percentage has leveled off and his run production, a main tool in Kaepernick’s arsenal, has severely dropped off as well. As defenses around the league have adjusted to defending Kaepernick he has tried to become more of a pocket passer. With new head coach Chip Kelly, he will need to rediscover what made him one of the most feared threats in football.

He will get a chance to do that in Kelly’s offense, but the question now facing Kaepernick is how much of an opportunity he’ll get. Gabbert filled in late last season and did well enough for Kelly to declare that both players will get 100% equal reps in practice and in preseason games as well. Kaepernick will need to make the most of his time under center to win the job and then go out and perform this season. Should Gabbert beat him out as a starter this season Kaepernick may not only be done in San Francisco, but possibly as a productive player in the NFL. The pressure is on Kaepernick to step up, perform and silence his critics. This may, quite possibly, be his last chance to do so.

 

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Viking: What Will it Take to Win?

Sports Elite 

Written by LaDonna Williams

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There are a few things that need to happen for the Vikings to win their division again this year.

 

  1. Teddy Bridgewater– Teddy has a lot of pressure on his shoulders this year. This year he needs to focus on throwing to his wide receivers more. The Vikings need a deep threat which they will have them with Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell. Hopefully, Bridgewater has worked on that part of his game. We all know he is quick, can run, but his arm strength isn’t that great. As well, he needs to work on his accuracy last season he had nine interceptions.

 

  1. Adrian Peterson– Well, all AP needs to do is be AP. Last year he had 1485 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also averaged 4.5 yards per play. He needs a repeat of that again this year, but minus the fumbles. He had seven of them last year. He needs to hold the rock better this season.

 

  1. Their offensive line to make holes for AP and protect Bridgewater. This off-season the Vikings added tackle Alex Boone, former 49ers player. They also added tackle Andre Smith, former Bengal. Now they have the most expensive offensive line in the NFL after signing these two.

 

  1. The defense last year was great. Last year they ended with a top five defense in the league. They also have one of the deepest secondary in the NFC. One thing the defense needs to work on is turnovers. Last year they gave up 875 yards, because of penalties. This number is way too high for top five defense.

 

Now, if the Vikings are able to do these things. They will be able to control the conference again with no problem. As well make it further during the playoffs

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Motor City Revival: 2016 Lions

 

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Sports Elite 

By Dennis Blossom

The 2015 Detroit Lions season was a comparison of triumph and adversity. Finishing 3rd in the in the NFC North with a 7-9 record, and a three game win streak, the Lions overcame their mishaps by firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, team president Tom Lewand, and GM Martin Mayhew, a pillar of the franchise since the 1990s. By making those changes, Detroit finished with a 6-2 record to end the season. What changes were made for that to happen besides the firings? The offense finally found its rhythm and the defense was playing much better than they had in the beginning of the season. It was something to build on coming into the 2016 season, and by hiring Rod Wood as team President, a close confidant of the Ford family, the Lions decided to make the pertinent improvements to be more competitive in the NFC North.

In order for the Lions to be even remotely competitive, they had to address some major needs on offense in a major way. First off, they need a wide receiver. With the sudden retirement of Calvin Johnson, this became an epic need for this team. He lead the team with 88 catches, 1,214 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns. With the signings of Marvin Jones, Jeremy Kerley, and Anquan Boldin, the Lions will have a dynamic WR corps lead by Golden Tate. These signings along with the emergence of Eric Ebron give Matthew Stafford weapons within the passing game that he desperately needs. As far as Stafford goes, he didn’t have a bad season with 32 TDs and 4262 passing yards. However, with 15 INTs, that’s a stat he wants to improve on. The run game is decent led by second year player Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick , who in his own right is a good receiver as well as a runner. The offense was ranked 20th and some of that was due in part to turnovers and erratic decisions made by Stafford.  Jim Bob Cooter, who was promoted after Lombardi’s firing made a difference as far as calling the right plays to help improve the Lions offensive output for the second half of the season.

The defense made some strides during the end of the season despite being ranked 18th, giving Darius Slay an extension will help out the secondary in a big way. Drafting A’shawn Robinson in the second round from Alabama fortifies the defensive tackle position. Being alongside Haloti Ngata, Robinson will learn from one of the best of in the game. Detroit’s biggest strength on defense is the safety position. Former New Orleans Saint Rafael Bush signed a one-year contract with the team. Combined with James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin, this unit is the Lions biggest strength. Teryl Austin, one of the NFL’s rising stars coordinator wise now has the tools needed to improve the defense somewhat. The Lions have taken the New England Patriots approach and drafted talent, instead of signing the sexy free agent name. It shows especially on defense.

Overall, the Lions have their work cut out for them. Jim Caldwell has a roster that is talented enough to win some games. With the Green Bay Packers dominance and the sudden emergence of the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions know that they must surpass one of these teams. To be a top caliber team in the division. Lions should get eight to ten wins, this is not impossible or ludicrous, especially with the acquisitions that they have made. All the Lions have to is limit the turnovers, play rock solid on defense, and start strong. Once that happens, you will be witnessing a wild card team that will give hope for Lions fans.

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Falcons Land Freeney and His Spin Move 

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By Dre McClendon

The Atlanta Falcons have landed a player to help with their ailing pass rush by signing former Cardinal defensive end Dwight Freeney to a one-year deal on Tuesday, August 2nd.  Freeney chose them over the Bengals.

Freeney’s career has expanded 14 seasons.  He has played for the Colts, Chargers, and Cardinals. Amassing 119.5 sacks along the way. His eight sacks alone last season with the Cardinals was only 11 behind the Falcons as a team (19). Even though the veteran is 36 and considered by most, long in the tooth. Bringing in Freeney will not only boost the Falcons pass rush, but can also serve as a veteran presence and mentor to star defensive end/outside linebacker, Vic Beasley.

While he may not be the dominant force he once was, this move is good for both Freeney and the Falcons.  This signing has already made Falcon fans plenty excited about the season and about Freeney’s devastating swim move and he will once again wreak havoc for the Falcons down in Atlanta.

 

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Watch Out For Raiders Defense.

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By LaDonna Williams

Last year the Raiders defense wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. They did just enough to get by. Their biggest problem was their pass defense and overall play by the secondary. Their run defense wasn’t the greatest, but they couldn’t stop the passing game either. There was no wonder the defense ended up ranked 22nd in the league.

Now the 2016-2017 season is upon us and their defense has changed and changed for the better. The biggest loss is Charles Woodson who retired this season. Woodson was truly one of the best at his position. They did add some key players to their roster that will help the defense improve this season.

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In March, the Raiders added former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin to their roster. Irvin started 12 games and had 38 tackles, 22 solo tackles and had 5.5 sacks. Irvin joins Khalil Mack to create an impressive pass rush. The Raiders also needed to replace Woodson, so the Raiders added former Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. Nelson, who was tied with Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters with eight interceptions last season. He was ranked fifth out of all safeties in the league.

The Raiders also drafted well, adding several players to help their defense. They drafted safety Karl Joseph from West Virginia, defensive lineman Jihad Ward from Illinois, and two linebackers Shilique Calhoun from Michigan State and Cory James from Colorado State. The Raiders are hoping with the addition of Nelson and Joseph they will be able to cover and shut down tight ends. Last year tight ends scored 12 touchdowns against them.

They already had on the team All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack. Mack, who just had an amazing second year in the league. He had two forced fumbles and 15 sacks. With these new additions to the team the Raiders defense shouldn’t be slept on this coming up season.

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Falcons Say Goodbye To Devin Hester

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By Dre McClendon

The Falcons have released another high-profile player heading into the 2016 season, releasing wide receiver/returner Devin Hester on Tuesday. Many fans were split on the decision, some felt he had one more good year left, others felt it was best to release a player whose injuries and rule changes in the return game made him virtually ineffective.

There was always a saying that floated around the NFL, “Do Not Kick To Devin Hester”. From his exploits at the University of Miami to the being drafted by the Bears, Hester established himself as one of most dangerous return men in NFL History. Teams would literally kicked the ball away from him and if he somehow got his hands on the ball and a crease you can pretty much cancel Christmas. He single-handedly changed field position just by being on the field and people who would usually go to the bathroom during change of possession would literally hold it so they wouldn’t miss any magic that Hester could possibly make on an electrifying return.

When Devin Hester signed with the Falcons in 2014, there was a lot of excitement among Falcon fans. His impact was immediately felt in Week 3 of the 2014 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he scored on a 62 yard punt return for his 20th career touchdown return, breaking the record for non-offensive touchdowns he shared with Deion Sanders. 2015 was a down year for Hester, as a toe injury sidelined him for majority of the season. Releasing Hester will save the Falcons a little over 3 million in cap space.

Many Falcon fans will tell you they loved and appreciated what Devin Hester has brought to the team. While he is no longer with the team, all of us as fans wish him the best on this endeavors.

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