It’s not like the Los Angeles Rams were a bad defensive team last season.
They ranked 12th out of 32 NFL teams in fewest points allowed (20.6 ppg) and 13th in fewest passing yards per game (217.2 ypg), helping them win the NFC West division title with an 11-5 record.
But after losing 26-13 in their playoff opener to the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams attacked the offseason by turning a solid defense into an amazing one — at least on paper. Continue reading
One of the most surprising moves of the NFL offseason was the Kansas City Chiefs trading cornerback Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams.
Peters has been one of the league’s best since the Chiefs drafted him three years ago. He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and led the league with eight interceptions; he was first team All-Pro in 2016; and he led the league in interception return yardage in 2017, gaining 137 yards on five picks. Since entering the league, Peters’ 60.7 passer rating allowed is second-best to Jacksonville Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye.
Going into the 2018 season, Peters is slotted No. 79 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking, which is voted on by NFL players Continue reading
Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith
After three seasons experimenting with a playground-style Pro Bowl where captains chose teams from a pool of the league’s top players, the NFL is returning to the traditional AFC-vs.-NFC format for its 2017 all-star game.
There are a couple of new wrinkles: The Pro Bowl will be held in Florida instead of Hawaii, and in the days leading up to the game there will be a “Pro Bowl Skills Showdown” that — hopefully — might be as cool as the old “NFL’s Fastest Man” and QB-challenge competitions I remember from when I was a kid.
Another Pro Bowl tradition is having a lot of players who are voted into the game being replaced by alternates. Continue reading
Tags: Aqib Talib, Eric Berry, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Harrison Smith, Landon Collins, Marcus Peters, NFL, Pro Bowl, Reggie Nelson, Richard Sherman, Xavier Rhodes
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan (NCAA): Lewis’ diving, one-handed, backhanded interception against Wisconsin wasn’t just one of the best catches you’ll see from any college football player (offense or defense) this season, it was also a clutch play that helped clinch the 4th-ranked Wolverines’ 14-7 win over the 8th-ranked Badgers on Saturday.
Wisconsin had fourth down inside their own 10-yard line with about 2:20 to go when WR George Rushing appeared to have Lewis beat. But the senior All-American cornerback leaped, hung in the air like Zach LaVine, and snatched QB Alex Hornibrook’s pass with one hand. Continue reading
Tags: Aqib Talib, Cam Newton, Devon Earl, Drew Brees, Jourdan Lewis, Julio Jones, Lamar Jackson, Marcus Edmond, NCAA, NFL, Robert Alford, Robert Blanton, Tom Brady
Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr.
Apparently the offseason is ranking season in the NFL.
With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror, and training camps still a few weeks away, it seems every football media outlet is coming out with a variety of rankings and lists to pass the downtime.
NFL.com recently gave retired cornerback Ike Taylor, a 12-year vet who won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the task of putting together a list of the league’s top five cornerback tandems.
Even a casual football fan would not be surprised to find the Denver Broncos on top of Taylor’s list. Continue reading
Tags: Adam Jones, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins, Kyle Fuller, NFL, Patrick Peterson, Tracy Porter, Tyrann Mathieu
Of all the Super Bowl heroes to emulate, Aqib Talib is setting himself up for a fall if he’s rolling with Plaxico Burress as his role model.
Considered one of the NFL’s most talented receivers during his prime, Burress’ pro career peaked when he caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII victory over the Patriots.
But later that year, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg at an NYC nightclub. He ended up serving jail time for criminal possession of a handgun and lost two years of his NFL career.
By the time Burress came back, he wasn’t the same player and his career didn’t last much longer. Continue reading
Usually, when you don’t hear Chris Harris Jr.‘s name much during a game, it’s a good indication that he’s doing exactly what the Denver Broncos pay him to do.
As one of the premier “shutdown” cornerbacks in the NFL, Harris is supposed to blanket opposing wide receivers to the point where opposing quarterbacks don’t want to throw to them. That means Harris shouldn’t give up a lot of catches, which means he shouldn’t get making a lot of tackles and ideally shouldn’t even be getting a lot of interceptions.
But Harris was unusually active around the football during Super Bowl 50. His five tackles against the Carolina Panthers that day tied for his second-highest output of the season, and he added a sack. Which was apparently good enough for the Broncos, who won the game 24-10 and secured the championship with an overall defensive performance for the ages. Continue reading
Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib
Two story lines have dominated the buildup to Super Bowl 50: Peyton Manning‘s unforgiving oldness and Cam Newton‘s unforgivable Blackness.
It’s no surprise, since quarterbacks are almost always the stars of the pre-Super Bowl show. But in most years there are at least some other intriguing angles for the media and for the public to latch onto: a reclusive running back’s maddening silence, a legendary linebacker’s impending retirement, a curmudgeonly coach’s mysterious methods.
This year, however, it seems to be all about the QBs. Which of course means that the difference-maker who will decide the outcome of Sunday’s game will probably be a player who received little to no attention during these two hype-filled weeks. And that man will suddenly become the subject of a thousand “Who is this guy?” pieces about the “unknown” who was completely available for get-to-know-you interviews while everyone was busy chasing Cam and Peyton. Continue reading
Tags: Aqib Talib, Bradley Roby, Charles Tillman, Chris Harris Jr., Cortland Finnegan, Darian Stewart, Josh Bush, Josh Norman, Kayvon Webster, Kurt Coleman, Robert McClain, Roman Harper, Shiloh Keo, Super Bowl 50, T.J. Ward, Tre Boston
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Sunday’s NFL conference title games were hyped and marketed as a pair of star-studded quarterback shootouts. In the AFC, it was future Hall of Fame legends Tom Brady and Peyton Manning going head-to-head; and in the NFC, former Heisman Trophy winners and 2015 MVP front-runners Cam Newton and Carson Palmer going throw for throw. But while Newton did put together another sparkling stat line, it was the respective defenses of the two winning teams that ultimately proved to be the difference between Super Bowl and sitting at home.
Kurt Coleman, SS, Panthers (NFL): Josh Norman certainly deserves all the praise he’s receiving for pushing his way into the best-cornerback-in-football conversation this season, but Coleman has been an invaluable and overlooked playmaker in Carolina’s secondary. Coleman had two interceptions against the Cardinals in Sunday’s NFC Championship game, one of them in the end zone to prevent what could have been a momentum-swinging TD for Arizona. Continue reading
Short of a Super Bowl victory, there are few things that could at change the dominant story line of the 2015 Denver Broncos from being the transition at quarterback from Peyton Manning to Brock Osweiler.
Manning, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer and holder of many NFL passing records, started his 18th pro season slowly. Then he admirably raised his play to typical Manning standards, but then he got hurt, and then he played kind of horribly. During a Week 10 loss to the Chiefs in which Manning threw four interceptions (versus just five completions), the living legend was benched for Osweiler, the 4th-year-pro who had been waiting in the wings as Denver’s presumed QB of the future. In Osweiler’s three starts since then he’s gone 3-0, including an overtime victory over the previously-undefeated defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Continue reading