How Many Times Does Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts Need To Prove Himself?

We need to talk about Jalen Hurts

If anyone is proof that the line to success isn’t always straight, it’s Jalen.

When he got beat out for the starting job at Alabama in 2016, it was to a redshirt freshman. He could have packed his bags right then and there, but he stayed ready, had the job within a couple of weeks, and took Alabama to a national championship in his first year. 

After going 12-1 as a sophomore, he had to watch Alabama win a national championship from the sideline after being replaced by Tua Tagovailoa on the biggest stage. How did he react? Not only did he celebrate his teammate’s success as his own, he returned to Alabama as a junior ready to compete for the job.

When Tua won the job in Jalen’s junior year, did Jalen Hurts sulk or slink away? No. Jalen Hurts played the role of backup, supported his friend and teammate, and when the time came to step into the SEC championship game, he led two touchdown drives that secured a come from behind win over Georgia, and sent Alabama to another College Football Playoff.

After Jalen Hurts earned his degree, he left Alabama with the title of “game manager,” and bet on himself to be able to run Lincoln Riley’s spread offense at Oklahoma. The result? 51 total offensive touchdowns, another trip to the college football playoff, and a second place finish in the Heisman voting. 

The previous two Oklahoma quarterbacks went first overall in the NFL Draft. What happened to Jalen Hurts? Some people projected him as a receiver, and he ultimately fell to the 53rd pick in the NFL Draft.

But at least Philadelphia welcomed him with open arms as their QB savior, right? Of course not. He started his career third behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld. His first start came in week 14 of his rookie year, a game he won, and he threw for over 300 yards in his next two starts. Not bad for a skill position player, right? 

Well guess what, in week 17, he got benched, just like he did at Alabama. That led to a new head coach, and a complete restart on having to re-earn everything he’d gained. 

He earned the starting job in his second year, took the Eagles to the playoffs, and was named a Pro Bowl alternate, but spent the majority of the time having to ignore “Deshaun Watson to Philadelphia” trade rumors. 

He weathered that storm, and in his third year, he’s moving the Eagles down the field at will, and has the whole country talking for the first time about how lucky the Eagles are to have him as a franchise cornerstone.¬†

Success isn’t always a straight line, but take a lesson from Jalen Hurts- if your internal compass is pointed in the right direction, whether there are oceans, mountains or deep valleys in your way, you’ll find your way there. 

Let that sink in.

Tua Tagovailoa’s “Back” Injury Shows That The NFL Still Isn’t Right In The Head

We need to talk about Tua Tagovailoa. 

In the Miami Dolphins 21-19 win over the Buffalo Bills, a game that featured Ken Dorsey trashing the coaching booth and a punt safety off someone’s booty cheeks, the real thing we should all be reflecting on is the insane decision to send Tua back into the game after he was clearly concussed in the second quarter. 

If you haven’t seen it, Tua Tagovailoa took a hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano, and his head bounced off the field. Tua looked like he was shaking off some dizziness when he first stood up, and after taking a couple of steps, he fell to his knees and had to be helped up. Tua was taken to the locker room, and the Dolphins informed the press that he’d be questionable¬†to return with a head injury.¬†

Suddenly, in the second half, Tua was back out there, and the explanation that was given was that back spasms from a prior hit led to his wobbly legs.

I’ve had multiple back surgeries stemming from my time in the NFL, but you don’t have to be a former professional athlete to know what a back spasm feels like. If Tua’s back was seizing up, he’s not getting to his feet twice in 10 seconds. When you’re in the middle of a back spasm, you’re lucky to be able to breathe, much less get to your feet. 

We live in an age where people have 4k 1080p HD televisions, and it’s gaslighting to say that the thing the entire country saw as clear as day, didn’t happen.

Under no circumstances should Tua have been allowed to return to that game after showing signs of a concussion.

Now I’ve seen people say that it’s Tua’s responsibility to pull himself out of the game if he feels concussed, but why are we depending on the judgement of someone that just had their brain scrambled to make the best decision for his future? That’s like someone downing a bottle of Bacardi 151 and saying they feel fine to drive themselves home- there’s a chance based on the circumstances that they aren’t using their best judgement. 

NFL team doctors have to protect players from themselves, especially a guy like Tua, who is the ultimate team guy, and has the pressure of knowing that his owner Stephen Ross has spent the last two years looking for any and every reason to replace him. Ross was willing to risk his reputation to pursue Deshaun Watson, and lose draft picks and cash over tampering with Tom Brady. Beyond that, Tua’s second contract is around the corner, and there are hundreds of millions of reasons for a guy like Tua to try and play through a brain injury. 

Yeah, it would be nice for Tua to ensure that his grandkids never want for anything, but it would be a lot better if he didn’t struggle to remember their names. 

The NFLPA has launched an investigation to ensure the Dolphins have proper concussion protocol, and that’s the right move, but the better move is to be proactive, not reactive. 

An NFL franchise isn’t worth a damn without a commitment to the health and safety of its players, and right now, the Miami Dolphins aren’t worth a damn.

Let that sink in.

ASU’s Ray Anderson Can Gain Credibility Back by Hiring Brennan Marion

We need to talk about the job opening at Arizona State.

I know how much it must have hurt ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson’s pride to have to part ways with his friend and former client Herm Edwards. I know it stings to be this close to being able to give one of the biggest “I told you so’s” in the history of sports to everyone that doubted Herm Edwards could succeed at the college level, only to be derailed by the infighting of the staff underneath him.¬†

I’m a man. I have pride like anyone else, and I’ve gone all in on something only to walk away humbled and with a wounded ego. If Ray Anderson can get past the bitterness and temptation to place blame on anyone but himself for the failed tenure of Herm Edwards, he has an opportunity to bring in the savior that this program needs. 

Let’s remember exactly who Ray Anderson is- a lawyer and agent that helped break the glass ceiling on NFL teams hiring minority candidates, and who used his influence as an NFL executive to help bust up the good ‘ol boy network that kept minority coaches from even getting interviews.

I refuse to believe that Ray Anderson did all that work to just turn around and build his own good ‘ol boy network at Arizona State, and then fall into the same trap NFL GMs and athletic directors always do when it comes to taking responsibility for getting it wrong. 

The Ray Anderson that changed football forever for men that look like me is still in there, and he has an opportunity to get back to shaking things up and moving the game of football forward.

And he can do that by hiring University of Texas wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Brennan Marion. 

Ray Anderson said Arizona State needs someone young and energetic. Brennan Marion is 35, and one of the top recruiters in the country. Ray Anderson said Arizona State needs someone that understands the current landscape of player branding and NIL- Brennan Marion has built his own brand as a pull-yourself-up-by-your bootstraps little known recruit, to NCAA yards per catch record holder, to FCS and FBS offensive coordinator, and now a Power 5 position coach at both Pitt and Texas. 

ASU is all about innovation, right? Well how about someone that literally wrote a book on an offense that fuses principles of the triple-option and the spread?

A lot of people laughed at Ray Anderson’s goals for Herm Edwards- top 3 in the conference, top 3 in the country, and a signing day full of four-stars out of California. 

I don’t think these goals are out of the question. Maybe not every year- only a handful of schools can pull that off, and Ray Anderson has already publicly stated that he’s not willing to do what it takes to play with the big boys when it comes to NIL

But ASU is more than capable of having a run like that every couple of years. Why not? 

And why not bring somebody in like Brennan Marion, who has recruiting and staffing contacts all over the country, has worked at Arizona State before, and won’t have to play two years of catch up just to figure out the rules to the game?

Hiring in America has often been about who you know, and not what you know. And when the people in positions to make hires don’t know certain segments of the population, they tend to get left out of the decision making process. Ray Anderson should know this, both as someone that worked to stop it from happening, and someone who participated in it the last time around. 

If the old Ray Anderson is still in there, the one that wants to shake up the establishment, and the one that still has an unused “I told you so” in the chamber, it might be time for him to get to know Brennan Marion.

Let that sink in.

Why I’m Buying the Jake Paul vs Anderson Silva Fight… and Every Jake Paul Fight After That One

We need to talk about Jake Paul’s October 29th boxing match with Anderson Silva

First, let’s get this out of the way- I’m buying this fight, and there’s nothing you can say to convince me that I shouldn’t.

Fans of the “sweet science” of boxing will tell you that this entire spectacle is unbecoming of their beloved sport.

So what? Gathering around to see two men that have agreed to battle until one relents is as old the earth itself. Boxing was born out of the sport of prizefighting, and the people responsible for keeping boxing relevant were never able to escape the temptation to keep prizefighting as the central motivation for everyone involved in the sport. Why has Mixed Martial Arts surpassed boxing? Because it’s structured in a way that the people that participate have to love the sport more than they love the money.

So when a prizefight comes along between a modern internet celebrity and a former MMA world champion, and it isn’t pretending to be anything other than a prizefight, it’s refreshing.

And for those of you that think I’m getting tricked by the celebrity of it all- my generation is the one that repeatedly rejected the idea of celebrity boxing. And why did we do that? Because above anything, we want to see people that can actually fight. Todd Bridges and Vanilla Ice weren’t going to give us anything better than we can see in the stands at a Raiders game.

Yes, Jake Paul is practically brand new to the sport, but he’s taking it seriously, and wins over professional fighters in Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley show that he’s not just some Hollywood pretty boy.

The other problem with celebrity boxing is that most people we tried to throw out there were beloved for some type of artistic or athletic contribution to society. Nobody hated Screech, or Manute Bol, or Refrigerator Perry. And hate is one of the three pillars, aside from skill and storyline, that sells a fight. 

Who is more hateable than Jake Paul? And people don’t just hate Jake Paul, they hate people that don’t hate Jake Paul. More than half the money that came in on Floyd Mayweather fights came from people rooting for his demise, and with Jake Paul, it’s going to be the exact same. 

People want to see Anderson Silva, a man that defended the middleweight UFC title 10 times over almost 7 years, score a win for Generation X over the entire Zoomer generation. And they’re willing to put money into Jake Paul’s pocket in order to see it happen. 

At the end of the day, sports are as much about entertainment as they are human accomplishment, and Jake Paul has tapped into finding a way to entertain people. On October 29th, I’m going to be one of those people.

Let that sink in.

The NBA Let Us Know Their Real Values With Robert Sarver’s Suspension and Fine

We need to talk about the NBA’s suspension of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver

One year. Ten Million Dollars. 

That’s the penalty for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury’s managing partner after an 11-month investigation that revealed 17 years of Robert Sarver acting cringier than the Scott’s Tot’s episode of the Office.

One year. Ten Million Dollars.

Since it doesn’t look like he’s going to be forced to sell the team, let’s take a closer look at what that ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver.

Ten million dollars bought a pass from Adam Silver for at least five confirmed occasions over the span of 12 years where Robert Sarver had to be reminded by people around him that it wasn’t appropriate for him to repeat the n word, whether it was during a free agent courting session in 2004, or in an angry tirade about Draymond Green’s on-court language in 2016.

Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of any proper consequences for unnecessarily pulling his penis out in front of a physician, talking about his penis in front of a female employee, and walking around naked in front of male employees.

Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of having to face the music for depantsing an employee in front of coworkers, talking in a sexual manner about his players’ significant others, and getting caught in a lie by the lawfirm that investigated this case about his habit of shouting and cursing at employees. 

Ten million dollars in exchange for the ability to tell a pregnant female employee that she should be at home nursing babies, commenting on another female employee’s breast augmentation, and organizing a lunch for female employees to try and toughen up one staffer that cried about being screamed at.

That’s what ten million dollars gets you. 

Let’s take the NBA’s investigating lawfirm, and Adam Silver at their word for a minute.

Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t a racist. Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t sexist. Those two things could absolutely be true. And if they are true, what it means is something equally discomforting-

Robert Sarver is a dangerous idiot. That’s what the NBA wants you to believe. We’re not dealing with a trained assassin here- we’re dealing with a milk-drunk toddler with a loaded gun.

How is that supposed to make us feel better?

And how does it rectify 17 years of damage that a supposedly non-racist, non-sexist, dangerous idiot toddler did?

Adam Silver and the NBA owners want to be able to chalk this up to a locker-room talk culture, and claim that the Suns, and the league as a whole have already begun to get a handle on it.

Putting aside the irony that Robert Sarver was saved from being forced to sell the team by the fact that his own HR department spent over a decade doing anything but their job, the idea that an owner should have ever been a participant in locker room talk leaves out the very important point that owners are not part of the locker room any more than Elon Musk is part of the Tesla factory floor. 

The term locker room talk was popularized when Donald Trump had his Access Hollywood “grab them by the pussy” tape leaked. In that tape, Trump said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

Thanks to Adam Silver and the NBA, we know the ‘star’ is Robert Sarver. 

Let that sink in.

Scott Frost Was The Right Hire, But It Didn’t Work- Four Names Nebraska Football Should Look To Next

We need to talk about Nebraska football

First, let’s get something straight- Scott Frost was the right move. We don’t need any revisionist history here. He was an excellent offensive coordinator at Oregon, turned UCF into a national brand almost overnight, and the last time Nebraska was truly relevant, they had Scott Frost at quarterback. 

On paper, this was a match made in heaven, and no amount of revisionist history can say anyone could have anticipated he’d go 5-22 in one-score games.

With the amount of support and resources afforded to Nebraska football, enough to do right by Frost and pay him his full buyout instead of waiting three weeks for it to be cut in half, there should be no excuse for Nebraska to miss on a third consecutive hire.

And here are some of the names I think you should pay attention to:

First- Washington’s Kalen DeBoer.¬†

I know Huskies fans think I’m being a shit-stirrer, but take it from a man that watched Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal leave not very long after they got to town- if the money is right, and Mel Tucker can tell you that Big Ten money is right, there’s nothing the Huskies are going to be able to do. DeBoer had success as a Big Ten offensive coordinator at Indiana, he’s shown he can be a successful head coach while at Fresno State, and he has Washington looking relevant again.

Second- Carolina Panthers Coach Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule is getting the Nick Saban treatment right now from the national media, and while I don’t think he deserves it, the media is pointing out that Saban had successful runs with multiple colleges before an average run in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins as a way to compare Matt Rhule making Tempe relevant and resurrecting Baylor. It doesn’t matter that he stinks in Carolina- most of the gripes about him are that he’s running a pro franchise like it’s a college team anyway. The problem for Nebraska is that they won’t be the only school trying to land Matt Rhule.

Third- Iowa State’s Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell has been linked to so many jobs in the last three years that people are starting to wonder if something’s wrong with him- like a Mel Kiper top 10 pick slipping into the second round of the NFL draft. Nebraska might be a good fit for Campbell though- he recruits the same areas, has shown he can develop three star recruits into NFL prospects, and his players love him. 

Last up, a name I haven’t hear anyone mention, BYU’s Kilani Sitake

I’m convinced that as long as the Cougars get a chance to hold onto Offensive Coordinator Aaron Roderick, they’ll be fine. And it might be hard to lure a former BYU player away from a school that just inked a deal with the Big 12, and someone that is 28-6 in their last 34 games, including wins over six ranked opponents in the last 4 seasons. And if you’re a Nebraska fan thinking to yourself “only six?” Let me remind you that Scott Frost had none.¬†

And the only thing about Sitake is, he actually figured out how to win one score games. After a rough start, going 5-11 in one score games in his first 3 years at BYU, Sitake has gone 9-6 in those games since 2019, including last week’s double overtime win over top-10 Baylor. 

BYU was a program carried by nostalgia that has actually built a successful modern brand- isn’t that what Nebraska is looking to do?

Look, it’s been forever since Nebraska showed it was even competitive, much less relevant. But the fan support is there, the money is there, and the team has plenty of untapped potential on its current roster. They just need a coach that can mix the ingredients correctly and cook up something that doesn’t taste like 3-9.

Let that sink in

George Wrighster Picks NFL’s NFC Conference Division Winners

Tom Brady goat

The NFC is home to the greatest QB of all time, and the back-to-back MVP- will either of them make a run to the Super Bowl this year? There are my picks to win each division in 2022 (Playoff teams in bold)

NFC WEST

Prediction:

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Seattle Seahawks

This division has the defending Super Bowl Champion, and most of the players on that team, outside of Odell Beckham Jr and Von Miller, return. The Rams are a lock to win the division.

Next up is the San Francisco 49ers, and not only do I have them making the playoffs, I’m going to go against the grain and say it’s *because* of the way Trey Lance leads this team, not in spite of it. With Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk by his side, Lance is going to score a lot of points.

I trust Kyler Murray to lead the Arizona Cardinals to the playoffs. I do not trust Kliff Kingsbury to lead the Arizona Cardinals anywhere outside of a decent Scottsdale cocktail party. The Cardinals did not upgrade the roster anywhere during the offseason. Every unit is either the same as last year, or slightly worse. That’s not going to get it done.

It doesn’t make sense to me that Pete Carroll would think of his Seahawks as being in rebuild mode, which means he actually believes in Geno Smith. I like Geno, and I’m rooting for him to have a redemption story, but I don’t think it’s going to happen in Seattle.

This is one of the tougher divisions in football, but it’s definitely less tough for the one team that has Aaron Donald.

NFC South

Prediction:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay is going to win the division in a tightly contested race with the Saints. I’m predicting that injuries take a toll on the Buccaneers, but the marriage of Tom Brady and Todd Bowles, and the retention of Byron Leftwich, is going to be enough to take the division. 

I’m seeing a big year for Jameis Winston. People forget that in his last full year as a starter, he led the NFL in passing yards. With improved eyesight, footwork, and decision making, he’s ready to FINALLY take that next step to Pro Bowl caliber. And another bold prediction for this Saints offense- Chris Olave is going to be the rookie of the year. 

Speaking of former first round quarterbacks having a career resurgence, Marcus Mariota is in Atlanta, and I believe he’s going to leave no question that he deserves to start in this league. I know they’re young, and I know it’s a full rebuild, but I believe the Falcons will be competitive.

The Panthers on the other hand… is David Tepper even trying out there?

It’s an interesting division with Baker Mayfield, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota all trying to show that their QB legacies didn’t end on the Heisman stage, while a 45-year-old with nothing left to prove chases an eighth Super Bowl Trophy to put in a case without a Heisman trophy.

NFC North

Prediction:

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Detroit Lions
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears

This is an interesting division. Maybe the most interesting one-playoff team division in the NFL.

And that playoff team? The Packers, of course. Green Bay’s front office just keeps stripping the Packers offense down to bare bones year after year in a bizarre grudge match with their own starting QB, and all Aaron Rodgers does is get better and better. 

Coming in second, I have the Detroit Lions putting together a 7-10 season where all 10 of the teams that beat them come away worse for wear. I’m a believer in Dan Campbell and his staff, and while I don’t think this is the year they make the Zac Taylor Bengals leap to the Super Bowl, they might just bludgeon their way to being relevant in the NFC North.

Third, I have Minnesota. If they want to win, they need a change under center. They have damn near everything else, but I can’t in good conscience ride with Kirk Cousins. Can you?

Last up, the Chicago Bears. The only team in the NFL that might trade receiving corps with the Green Bay Packers. This just isn’t a competitive roster, and you’d have to be crazy to blame Justin Fields for how this upcoming season is going to turn out. They just better hope they don’t ruin him.

Another year of watching one of the best QBs of all time bully his division without the tools to contend for a second Super Bowl.

NFC EAST

Prediction:

  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Washington Commanders
  • New York Giants

I like the Eagles. Jalen Hurts doesn’t have to do much to make this offense run, and that’s good for him, because Shane Steichen doesn’t call much of an offense. This team’s success is going to be driven by talent and depth, and when you take a 9-win team and add Haason Reddick, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and AJ Brown, that ain’t bad. Now if the running back by committee could share some of those touchdowns with Miles Sanders, maybe we could make some fantasy owners happy.

In second place, and squeaking into that 7th playoff seed, I have the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not sure I can say they got better this offseason, but as long as you have Dak Prescott, you have a chance. Dak was 7 points away from going 13-3 as a starter last year, and if he had 30 extra seconds, might have staged a playoff comeback against the 49ers. If the Cowboys offensive line keeps Prescott upright, they’ll be in every game. 

The Commanders and Giants are interchangeable at the bottom of the division, but I think the Commanders might start out hot enough with Carson Wentz to give them some cushion to not surrender the #3 spot to the Giants late in the season. The Giants are far too dependent on Saquon Barkley’s health for relevance in the division. 

Being at the bottom of this division might not be the worst idea. Can you imagine Alabama’s Bryce Young in a Brian Daboll offense?

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

George Wrighster Picks NFL’s AFC Conference Division Winners

Patrick Mahomes

The AFC is home to the best quarterback play, and the strongest conference in the NFL. There are my picks to win each division in 2022 (Playoff teams in bold)

AFC WEST

Prediction:

  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders

The winner of the Super Bowl is more than likely going to come out of this division, and I’m just going to come out and with my boldest prediction right out of the gate.

When the dust settles on the 2022 regular season, the Los Angeles Chargers are going to be in first place. 

Justin Herbert is ready to make a leap to NFL MVP, and the Chargers have the most dangerous wide receiver room in the NFL. Brandon Staley won 9 games last year despite having the fourth-worst scoring defense, and you know that’s been eating at him after using his credentials as the top defensive coordinator in 2020 with the LA Rams to land this gig. There’s a lot of pressure on Khalil Mack to help get this defensive line over the hump, because Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery weren’t doing enough to get it done without him. 

Patrick Mahomes is still that dude, and they might win the Super Bowl without winning the division, but Tyreek Hill was a vital part of their offensive success. Do you really think 8.6 yards per reception JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to replace that production? We’ll just have to see.

I think the Broncos get in with the addition of Mr. Unlimited, Russell Wilson. That leaves the Raiders on the outside looking in- and don’t try and tell me the Silver and Black are going to build on last year’s surprising rally behind interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia. He’s up in the freezing cold frozen tundra now, and the Raiders chances of making the 2022 playoffs went with him.

I’m not saying the Raiders can’t make some noise this year, but they have the bad fortune of taking a minimum of four losses in conference play. 

So to recap, your MVP and Super Bowl champion are likely both coming out of the AFC West.

AFC South

Prediction:

  • Tennessee Titans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

I believe Ryan Tannehill is closer to the 2021 version than the 33 Touchdown, 7 interception 2020 version that had Dolphins fans ready to walk into the ocean.

But I also believe it doesn’t matter. The strength of the Titans is their running game behind Derrick Henry and a finally-healthy offensive line. If they do what they are supposed to in the running game, and the defense continues the massive leap forward it made in 2021, they’re going to win the division.

The Colts are continuing their end of career Las Vegas residency QB carousel, this time with Matt Ryan. And if you consider that Matt Ryan has had one good season every three years for the past 14 seasons, he’s probably due for a decent year. But just like the Titans, this is a team built on running and defense, and the superstar pair of Johnathan Taylor and Darius Leonard are probably enough to put Indy on the playoff bubble.

The Houston Texans and my old team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are both much improved, and I expect them to be in a lot of games until the bitter end, but those endings will be bitter. I expect 5-6 win seasons for both squads. 

For any of these teams to make the leap to Super Bowl contender, they’re going to need to have a sure-fire franchise QB, but I can’t say with a straight face that any of them have one at the moment.

AFC North

Prediction:

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cleveland Browns

If you don’t think Lamar Jackson is worth $250 million guaranteed, you will by the end of the season. This division is about to be all Baltimore, all the time. 

John Harbaugh is coming off only his second losing season as the Ravens head coach in the last 14 years, and the worst team defense we’ve seen from Baltimore since 2002. Not only are we going to see progression to the mean, if this team stays healthy, we might see dominance. In my opinion, the Super Bowl champ is coming out of the AFC West, but if it’s anyone else, this is the team to watch. 

I’m not a Cincinnati Bengals hater, but let’s be honest. They got hot at the right time last year, but in the Super Bowl, the better team won. I do have them making the playoffs in 2022, and while that should be enough for Bengals fans that went 31 years between playoff victories, a taste of success can make you greedy. Be patient with Joe Burrow and Zac Taylor, and you’ll get back eventually.

I have the Pittsburgh Steelers finishing third in the division and contending for a playoff spot. Yes, even with Mitch Trubisky taking snaps. I could come out of retirement to play QB for the Steelers and Mike Tomlin is still going to find a way for my old ass to drag them to 9 wins. The problem with this is that it keeps you out of range to take a shot on a top QB in the draft, so this might be something they have to reconcile in free agency this offseason. I hear their rival has a QB with a suspect contract situation…

Last, and definitely least, the Cleveland Browns decided to waste a perfectly good roster on a suspended QB. If Deshaun Watson wasn’t being held out for you-know-what, this is a Super Bowl contending roster. And maybe that’s why they’re willing to take all the heat that comes with this decision, and punt their success until 2023. 

And if the Ravens don’t handle things with their QB’s contract situation, these standings could flip next year.

AFC EAST

Prediction:

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets

The division belongs to Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. I’ve always been a Josh Allen fan, and you definitely don’t need to look up any of my takes about him prior to the 2020 season because I’m telling the truth. You believe me, right? Anyway, if the Bills have a non-QB scramble oriented running game, it’s a wrap. 

Miami is not going to be as good as some prognosticators think, but I do have them finishing second,and likely making the playoffs. When your own owner is trying to move you off the team for Tom Brady or Deshaun Watson, you aren’t that guy. I’m talking to you, Tua. But enjoy additions like Tyreek Hill and Chase Edmonds, they’re definitely the type of guys that can mask arm strength issues with playmaking ability.

Recycling failed head coaches onto the offensive staff might work for Nick Saban, but do we really think Bill Belichick is going to get away with using Mat Patricia and Joe Judge to replace the entire offensive staff that Josh McDaniels took to Las Vegas? I think the Patriots will be good enough to finish third in the AFC East. Without Tom Brady, years of bad skill position drafting by Belichick is the ultimate reason the Patriots have fallen off, and should not be considered legit contenders.

And last, as usual, the New York Jets. Do I really need to explain why? Or can I just say that Joe Flacco is 2-12 in his last 14 starts, and Zach Wilson is only slightly better, going 3-10 as a rookie.

Just like when Tom Brady ruled the division, the only team with a legitimate QB remains king of the mountain.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Forget Suspending Aaron Donald, The NFL Needs to End Joint Practices Before Someone Gets Hurt

We need to talk about the NFL trend of joint practices.


If you’ve ever been to an NFL practice, and I’ve participated in hundreds and hundreds, you know what they’re about.¬†
Competition and physicality. 


And if you’re in the preseason, you can throw ‘desperation’ in as a descriptor as well.


And what happens when you’re desperately, physically competing?


Fights. 


Maybe the NFL moved in the direction of joint practices because the preseason has been cut from four games down to three, but it’s not like the number of practices increase when you add a second team to the mix. If anything, you’ve actually drastically reduced the number of reps you get to see as a coach and GM because while your offense is on the field running plays against another team’s defense, your defense is standing around watching.¬†


Couple that with having to make extended travel plans for an expanded roster, and it just seems like joint practices are more of a headache than a benefit.


Earlier this week, a debate broke out about whether the NFL’s best player, Aaron Donald, should¬†be suspended for removing the helmets from two Bengals players and swinging them at everyone in sight.¬†


In my opinion, the Rams front office should suspend themselves for having the galaxy-brained idea to put their most valuable player, a notorious hothead, in a competition space where he’s going up against the players he just beat in the Super Bowl, leading into a preseason game where you’re definitely not going to risk an injury by giving him extended snaps.¬†


Training camp fights are part of the NFL, just like dropping the gloves is part of hockey. If Cam Newton is willing to risk it all to beat Josh Norman’s ass when they’re on the same team, do you really think that players aren’t going to go after guys that they don’t have to see in the locker room after practice?


A couple weeks ago, several New England Patriots were booted from practice after a brawl with the Carolina Panthers. Did the players learn their lesson? Hell no. The very next day, not only did the Patriots and Panthers brawl again, the fight went into the crowd.


Did anyone catch the third episode of Hard Knocks with the Detroit Lions? If you did, you probably agree that running back Jamaal Williams was doing everything in his power to kick off an all-out brawl between the Lions and Colts- and did that added emotion do anything to help Williams? No, he was out there over-emotional and dropping passes.
When a fight happens in training camp, that’s never the business of the NFL. That’s up to the team to¬†handle, internally. But when you involve another team, and all of the sudden someone is swinging helmets, or falling into spectators, you’re inviting the NFL administration into a space it doesn’t belong.¬†


Nobody wants to see their favorite players suspended because the team owners and staff, the same people that preach the idea of going into literal battle to players on the fringe of the roster who are desperate to change their lives for the better, decide to treat the joint practice like a literal battle. 


Get rid of the joint practices, or the next time we talk about this, it could be because Roger Goodell had to step in and protect your players and franchise by getting rid of them for you.


Let that sink in.

A Thank You From a Sports Content Creator to Kevin Durant and the Dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

I want to thank Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.


The months between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of NFL preseason are truly the dog days of summer if you’re in the business of producing or discussing sports content. 


This isn’t a knock against baseball, but even commissioner Rob Manfred will tell you that anything that happens before the all-star break is basically a tree falling in a forest- it’s only making a sound if you’re around to hear it.


And even the MLB All-Star game, the most watched of any sports league’s All-Star game, is less relevant than it’s ever been, with ratings down 71% over the last 30 years.


And that’s the reason that I want to thank the Brooklyn Nets, because when my options on my podcast on iHeart, or my radio shows on SiriusXM and Fox Sports were nothing but baseball, Kevin Durant was there to save the day by demanding a trade with three years and $150 million left on his contract.


When the only topic of the day was what amount of money it would take for a professional golfer to ignore the fact that if Saudi Arabia doesn’t like an American citizen, they can just break out the bone saw, Ben Simmons was there to leave the group chat when people ask him to show up for work.


When the only thing there was to talk about on a random Tuesday in June is Serena Williams struggling at Wimbledon, Kyrie Irving stokes rumors that he’s interested in playing right here in Los Angeles, and refuses to sign an extension that just asks that he show up for work sometimes.


Uneventful Monday in early August? KEVIN DURANT WANTS THE ENTIRE FRONT OFFICE THAT HE HAND PICKED, OF THE TEAM HE DOESN’T EVEN WANT TO PLAY FOR, FIRED! 


It’s hard not to be grateful for this Brooklyn Nets team. They might not be making news for what they’re doing on the court in late spring, but they’re out here dominating the headlines all summer long, whether it’s Kyrie Irving questioning the entire idea of property ownership right before buying a home in LA, or arguing with anyone from Stephen A. Smith to the Barstool sports account, to Kevin Durant picking fights with construction workers and schoolteachers at all hours of the day, and feeding backdoor demands to Shams Charania. 


All to accomplish absolutely nothing, and be forced to suit up together again in 2023. 
All for the benefit of people like me? 


There’s a Douglas Wood quote that says “The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.


But as a content creator, I can definitely feel thankful while the Brooklyn Nets are unhappy. And with today’s announcement that the Nets are running it back next year, I have a feeling I’m going to spend next summer thankful as well.


Let that sink in.