Brady, Arians and the system: Match made in heaven or hell?

By Alex Lewis (@alexlewis226)

Tom Brady’s decision to move to Tampa Bay and join Bruce Arians had many heads turning when it was announced back in March, as one of the great play-callers in the league was going to get to work with quite possibly the greatest quarterback in the games history.

TB12’s decision to leave his spiritual home in New England and head south to the sweltering heat of Florida, surprised the majority of sports media who had spent a month predicting his imminent arrival in Los Angeles as a Charger.

Now however, with the dust settled, and Brady firmly moved into Derek Jeter’s sprawling mansion, its time to work out whether Arians is going to have to compromise his vertical system for a quarterback creeping towards 45 and a history of papercutting his opponents to death.

In 2019, Brady threw a total of 60 deep pass attempts in the regular season, with a 41.7% completion rate on those passes, which ranks 9th in the league per playerprofiler.com which certainly doesn’t sound like someone who is struggling to dial up the ball deep.

That being said, the season was probably best summed up, in terms of the deep throw, in the New England Patriots home game against the New York Giants in Week 6.

New England Patriots Vs The New York Jets: 15 Key Moments In The ...
Nick Laham – Getty

In that game, Brady made a throw well off the mark down the seam that was picked off at the 13 yard line by Janoris Jenkins less than 10 minutes into the game, only to come back in the 3rd quarter and dial up an almost identical deep ball, this one an absolute dime, over the defence and into the diving hands of Julian Edelman.

The big question is then, has Brady still got the skills to make Arians system tick?


So, what actually is the Bruce Arians system?

Arians offensive system has become known as a sort of air raid. Designed to drive the ball deep over the defence at any opportunity with as many receivers on the field as is possible.

Having spent a lot of his time in the NFL as a QB coach, to some of the best players that the league has to offer like Big Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning, Arians has made his system very stat-friendly to whoever is under centre.

Black and Gold: Don't blame Arians for Steelers' poor offense
Sports Illustrated / Damian Strohmeyer

Known as a “QB-whisperer”, Arians has managed to get the best out of the players he has worked with, and Brady should be no different.

Despite all the benefits to working with Bruce, it does also rely on having someone who can make a five or seven step drop and take constant advantage of man-to-man coverage on the outside with accurately thrown deep-routes.

When Arians took charge in Tampa Bay, everyone could see that he had arguably the best receiving duo in football to run this down-the-field system with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Arians duly took advantage of having such a dynamic combo in his first year, with both players going for over 1100 yards in 2019.

He also loves to have his receivers on the field at any time, in case a deep shot opportunity presents itself, but that means that his guys also have to be ready to block in the running game, something that Evans and Godwin were not shy to do last year.

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They even got Breshad Perriman, former-first rounder and NFL journeyman, to rank fourth in yards per catch last year, as the Buccaneers saw all three of their receivers in the top 13 of that category which clearly shows how Arians is using his weapons to stretch the field as far as possible.

With Jameis Winston at the helm last year, there was no discussion at all whether they could take advantage of those 20+ yard routes with the arm strength, but ultimately, his 30 interceptions bought a close to the Arians and Winston experiment.

Brady will almost certainly be far more reliable with the ball, but whether he has the arm to make the most of Arians system is the real question.


Can Tom still make all the throws?

For Brady, it seems more as though he hasn’t been asked or provided with the weapons to stretch the field vertically since that infamous 2007 season and his time with Randy Moss, rather than his inability to make the throws.

In that unbeaten regular season where Moss average over 93 yards per game, Brady also experienced his first campaign with Wes Welker which led to TB12 registering career highs in almost all passing categories.

Chargers reportedly in hunt for Tom Brady as free-agency frenzy ...
Maddie Meyer / Getty

In that season, with the downfield threat on his side, Brady managed 8.3 yards per attempt, compared to the measly 6.8 that he scored in his final year as a Patriot.

For reference, that ranked sixth lowest in the league in 2019.

Some may say that the numbers come from putting together a “Tom Friendly” system, making use of short routes and throws to a committee of running backs to make up for his lack of physical gifts in the deep passing game.

It seems more likely however, knowing what Bill Belichik is best at, that the team instead chose to go death by a thousand papercuts based on the lack of deep threat that the roster offered last year.

The comings and goings of Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon showed glimpses of what Brady could still give you down the field, but a serious lack of over-the-top weapons hurt any chance the Patriots had of getting back to their own deep-ball system.


Compromising is Key

The answer to making this combination of styles work, is of course going to be some compromising and some progression.

With both Tom Brady and now Rob Gronkowski in Tampa, Arians has all the blueprints to making the most out of Brady’s mental and physical skillsets by including the best that the Patriots system has to offer.

Rob Gronkowski: Tom Brady should 'test out the market' in free agency
Maddie Meyer / Getty

A potential combination of the deadly air attack of Bruce Arians and the suffocating high percentage throws of Tom Brady is rather a terrifying prospect for any defence, and one that will likely catch out many teams this coming year.

And it seems as though these discussions are already in full swing, with the Buccaneers QB coach Clyde Christensen telling the Athletic that: “”I think what we’ll see here (in Tampa Bay) is Bruce’s offense with a Brady influence”

He also went on to say that Brady’s desire to do what is needed to win has already been noticeable.

“We did some good things last year. Tom has been terrific as far as saying, ‘Just tell me what you want to do’.

“He’ll make it better. That’s what the great ones do. He’ll have some great ideas so we’re anxious to get his take on things.”

Clyde Christensen – Buccaneers QB Coach

As fans, all of us are excited to see what the offensive scheme will look like, but the main takeaway should be that Brady can definitely still make all the throws and do so as accurately as any player Bruce Arians has had since he worked with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis when he’s asked to.

However this experiment goes between two of the greats in their respective fields, the marriage between Arians and Brady will be one of the major news stories all year long.

And we can’t wait.

All Stidhams go, the Patriots new signal caller

By Kieran Patterson (@DCCYTFootball)

The 2020 NFL is only months away and one of the biggest questions still remains unanswered… Is Jarrett Stidham any good?

This is uncharted territory for the Patriots. They’ve not had uncertainty at the quarterback position for 20 years. I think the biggest question here is how good can the patriots be without Tom Brady? If we look at it objectively then the Patriots can be just as good with Jarrett Stidham under center given how he stacks up and his coachability. Let’s run through what the Patriots offence has to work with and what makes Jarrett Stidham the Patriots quarterback of the future.

Film Analysis: Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham's untapped potential on ...
Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

Who is Jarrett Stidham? Is he the next Tom Brady? I’m not sure anyone will be, but he isn’t a scrub that will fall flat on his face. Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive on the Auburn QB entering his 2nd year in the NFL.

Let’s look at his College profile:

Stidham had a good 2017, but came crashing back to earth in 2018

The numbers look OK, but he wasn’t asked to do too much of anything. Screens and short passes (Stidham had one of the greater target shares of passing attempts behind the line of scrimmage in his class). His accuracy anywhere near downfield was average at best, and struggled when pressured. However, that doesn’t usually bother New England the Patriots, just look at Tom Brady and his knocks as he was picked #199 overall. We all know the patriots look at what a player CAN do, rather than what they can’t.

Next, I’m going to start by laying out Stidham’s preseason stats for you so you can get some numbers on him. Stidham completed 61 of 90 passes for 731 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also tallied 17 carries for 88 yards on the ground. In the regular season, everyone will remember his pick 6 to safety Jamaal Adams against the Jets and ultimately being benched after being brought in to see the game out, but the foot was hardly on the accelarator. If only Bill and co. had let Stidham try and play some meaningful snaps. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from 4 regular season pass attempts, even if you completed 2 to your team and 1 to the other.

Like I always say though, stats are only half of the story and watching Stidham is where you really get a sense of how he operates.

During his 4 pre-season games he displayed solid pocket awareness knowing when to step up and when to tuck and run if needed. While accuracy was solid he does sometimes need to let his passes go a second or two earlier to hit players in stride. He does have great arm strength and a great understanding on how NFL defenses operate. This IQ allows Stidham to make the right calls in high pressure situations that would avoid turnovers and keep the ball in the Patriots hands.

However, a year behind Brady and learning from Belichick/McDaniels will do wonders for Stidham and he couldn’t really be placed any better to overcome his flaws.

So what has Stidham got to work with? And what state are the Patriots in?

The Patriot’s 2019 offence ranked 8th is passing yards, 18th in rushing yards and 7th in points for. They were 21st in yards per play (5.2), but 13th in total 1st downs (338) and 3rd in total plays. This shows what we all knew about the Patriots offence last year; methodical and efficiently effective, maintaining drives and usually came away with points.

This is all with Tom Brady under center of course, can Jarrett Stidham come in and elevate his game to the level required? And what of those weapons still at his disposal?

Well the first name that comes to mind is veteran wide receiver and Patriots folk hero, Julian Edelman. Despite battling injuries last year Edelman was still Tom Brady’s number one target throughout the season, hitting the century mark for receptions for just the second time in his career which probably says more about the offence in general rather than Edelman’s achievement.

Patriots: Can Julian Edelman maintain production without Tom Brady?
Adam Glanzman /Getty

You look at the stats, you’ll see that Edelman’s 2019 was pretty much the eptiome of his career: about 11 yards per target, 6 or 7 TDs and over 3 first downs per game. Edelman is as reliable as they come and it will be interesting to see if Edleman stays with the Patriots with Tom gone, and whether Stidham utilises him in the same way.

Next up 1st round draft pick N’Keal Harry. Sidelined until week 8 of the 2019 campaign Harry did not live up to his 1st round draft capital investment and looked to struggle on the field. Reports from camp last year did seem to show some significant chemistry between him and Stidham though which is a good sign going forwards. Many are also predicting a massive leap forward in year 2.

Now lets move to some of the lesser known guys or players with more things to prove at wide receiver; Jakobi Meyers.

The undrafted free agent had a very pedestrian season last year but he does have a ton of potential and a crazy work ethic which really puts him in a good position inside the patriots organization. The additions of Will Hastings (Jarrett Stidham’s slot receiver from Auburn) former Jaguar Marquise Lee and former Cardinal Damiere Byrd adding some extra veterans to the roster probably doesn’t inspire confidence, but the Patriot way has never really been to have household names unless you are named Randy Moss or Rob Gronkowski.

A name slightly more well known though is Mohammed Sanu, someone who really disappointed last year. I know, I know…he got injured but even then…average at best. While I expect Gunner to see the field too, I don’t think he’ll do more than return punts and kicks in 2020.


At running back we really have some better options and great variety. Let’s start with a personal favorite of mine, James “Sweetfeet” White. White gives this patriots offence a ton of options. He can catch, run and is a real problem for teams in this regard. I expect him to be a great checkdown option for Stidham and a guy who will probably have more receiving yards than he will rushing yards just due to guys like Sony Michel and Damien Harris being a better fit to carry the rock.

New England's Running Backs, Not Tom Brady, Leading Patriots in ...
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Can the Patriots feed Michel, Harris, White and Bolden? That remains to be seen but it’s a bonus for Stidham to have such a wide range of support on the ground. I know I didn’t mention Rex Burkhead but it’s a belief of mine that he’ll be cut before the season begins.

Lastly, let’s talk about tight ends. If I’m being 100 percent honest, I don’t think Ryan Izzo and Matt Lacosse make the final 53 and fully expecting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene to be the starters come opening week. Both Asiasi and Keene are massive upgrades over Lacosse and Izzo with solid hands but some shortcomings in their blocking game.


To summarise, this Patriots offence is just one or two pieces short of being elite. I can easily see the Patriots slipping into a wildcard slot this year giving Stidham is first taste of post season action. I think 10-6 is a very fair record prediction and not at all a reach like many people would have you believe. I have my ear very close to the ground when it comes to the Patriots and everything I’m hearing is good going forward.

So whilst we know Stidham won’t be asked to come in and be Tom Brady, what will he be, and what will he be asked to do?

Given his play at Auburn it’s clear Stidham can lead and offence and win games, the NFL is different in many ways. This season Stidham won’t be held back though, the coaching staff has belief in him and will expect him to make plays. He’s going to have veteran Julian Edelman in the slot for him, man mountain N’Keal Harry who will be able to high point ball in the endzone and tons of help in the backfield allowing Stidham to check down for 3 to 5 yards when there’s no other options. The offence the Patriots ran with Tom Brady is gone. Due to Stidham being more mobile and having a bigger arm than Brady, look for the play calling to open up a bit more for some designed quarterback runs and some deeper passes down field.

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I could talk forever about what Stidham is capable of but the proof is in the pudding. I’m going to throw out some prediction numbers for his first season as an NFL starter and would love to hear what you guys think over on our social media channels, even if it’s to hurl abuse at me!

With Stidham at the helm I see the Patriots going 10-6, Stidham will pass for 3,500 yards, 27 touchdowns and 15 interceptions along with 300 yards on the ground and 5 touchdowns with his feet. Optimistic? Sure, but unrealistic? No, not with the greatest coach to ever do it backing him. Let’s get hyped for the 2020 season Patriots fans, and let’s enjoy life after Tom.

That’s my opinion, but what’s YOURS? Let us know on the social media. Do you think Stidham will be a success? Or is it time for the AFC East have a new king atop of its mountain.

If you enjoyed this article please remember to give it a share and follow me on social media, find me on Instagram @DustCoveredCleats and on twitter @DCCYTFootball and I’ll see you guys in the next article.

NFL Free Agents: Spinning the wheel of fortune

By Sean Tyler (@SeanTylerUK)

With the franchise tag deadline and free agency looming, it’s time for the @Full10Yards top 10 free agents list (five on each side of the ball) and some thoughts on where they might land ahead of the 2020 season. Thanks to Instagram, we know the 41-year-old Drew Brees is returning to the Superdome for at least another year with the Saints. So while he’s technically still a free agent, he isn’t on this list. So who is? Let’s spin the wheel…


TOP OFFENSIVE FREE AGENTS


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Image Credit: Paul Sancya/AP

1. Dak Prescott (QB) – Dallas Cowboys


He began his time at Dallas by winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and most recently, he led one of the league’s top offenses, throwing for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns in his best campaign yet.

But the cheap deal has run out and someone has to pay the dude. Will it be the Cowboys? It seems they’ll have to go north of $30 million a year, which begs the question “Is he actually worth that?” That’s quite a pay-out but the Cowboys seem to want to build around him. Being the franchise poster-boy for the next few years comes at a price.

Safe bet: Dallas. To quote Jerry Jones, “He’s our quarterback of the future” so it looks increasingly likely that the Cowboys will retain Prescott. He’ll want to cash in on his potential and Jones will make him a happy camper.

Long shot: Dallas. Nope, it’s still the Cowboys. Al three of the team’s most valuable players have expiring contracts (that’s Amari Cooper and Byron Jones too) and it’ll be hard to keep all three. With contract talks back up and running again, Dak seems to be the one who’s going nowhere.


Image credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

2. Amari Cooper (WR) – Dallas Cowboys


Oh boy, do the ‘Boys have free agency headaches. The former Raider filled Dez Bryant’s cleats well but well enough to get top dollar? He’s not perfect but he’s the best receiver available and by that score, he won’t come cheap. If Dallas don’t think he’s worth $20 million a year, or think that paying Prescott, Cooper and corner Byron Jones will break the bank, he might walk.

Safe bet: Dallas. Theoretically, Jerry Jones could pay Dak and tag Cooper, keeping another star in the Lone Star State and giving Coach Mike McCarthy quite the toolkit in his first season.

Long shot: Washington. The Redskins have the cap space to pull the trigger. Imagine if their divisional rivals snaffled Cooper to go alongside rising stars Terry McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins.


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Image Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel

3. Ryan Tannehill (QB) – Tennessee Titans

I doubt any player boosted his reputation more in 2019 than Tannehill. His sensational second-half of the season, leading Tennessee well into the playoffs, suggests he may have more to offer than the waning old men, Brady and Rivers.

He resurrected his own career and the Titans’ season, and will probably get a tag of some sort. He obviously benefitted from Derrick Henry’s success, but he seemed pretty mobile in the pocket and kept making the throws asked of him.

Safe bet: Tennessee. The Titans shouldn’t overpay a guy who had three good months and who might not hit the same dizzy heights again but the franchise tag buys them a year’s grace.

Long shot: New England. Neither GM Jon Robinson nor HC Mike Vrabel seem that upbeat about him and the Brady-to-Nashville whispers just won’t go away. With a straight swap, could the reincarnated Tannehill continue his renaissance under Bill Belichick?

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Image Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

4. Derrick Henry (RB) – Tennessee Titans


Henry was the top rusher in the league last year, with 1,540 yards and 18 TDs. Going for over 180 yards in both his postseason games, there’s no hint of him easing up or slowing down.

Despite helping the Titans ride their late-season wave of glory, Henry is a running back. And these days, they don’t keep getting paid, especially if they’re a non-factor in the receiving game (Henry had just 28 targets all year). Like Dallas, the Titans have two big contracts to sort out. They could pay Tannehill first and then see what they can offer Henry, or vice versa.

Safe bet: Tennessee. He’s among the top RBs, on a resurgent team with a decent O-line, and in a system that clearly works for all concerned. Why leave Nashville?

Long shot: Houston. With Carlos Hyde unlikely to stay, adding a tank like Henry to the backfield could help the Texans take the next step in 2020.


Image Credit: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

5. AJ Green (WR) – Cincinnati Bengals


Valuing AJ Green is a toughie. He was an elite wideout when we last saw him but thanks to toe and ankle injuries, that was 18 months ago. Despite being 31 and without any tape from last season, Green should still have some juice in the tank. We just don’t know how much.

Green wants to stay if the price is right. If healthy, Green would be the ideal pro to help Joe Burrow ease into the NFL, having had 1,000-yard seasons in six of his eight years in the NFL. Cincy didn’t trade him during the season so it’s hard to see him going now.

Safe bet: Cincinnati. Just a few weeks ago, Green said he wanted to be a Bengal his whole career. The most likely scenario is that he stays for a prove-you’ve-still-got-it year.

Long shot: Las Vegas. If contract talks break down or Green is tagged-and-traded, the Raiders could do with a skill position upgrade. They are sorted for slot receiver, running back and tight end but a true outside track star would be the missing piece.


TOP DEFENSIVE FREE AGENTS


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Image Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

1. Chris Jones (DT) – Kansas City Chiefs

If Jones hits the open market, he is primed to get paid. $18 million a year is the going rate for a wrecking ball of a defensive tackle who’s notched 24.5 sacks in the last two seasons. Jones is a rare beast who can dominate games… even alongside Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

An explosive pass rusher and Pro-Bowler who can stand shoulder to shoulder with Aaron Donald and JJ Watt, Jones could expect top whack. But can the Chiefs (available cap space: $13.7 million) afford him, having given something in that ballpark to Frank Clark already? A monster extension to Mahomes will also be needed when the time comes.

Safe bet: Kansas City: The Chiefs should keep Jones but may need to tag him for at least another year.

Long shot: Indianapolis. Maybe KC apply the tag but trade him for draft compensation. The Colts could be up for such a move, as they have draft picks to play with and need some pass-rush help.


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Image Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

2. Shaquil Barrett (EDGE) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers


As mentioned in a recent season in review piece, Bruce Arians said of Barrett: “He ain’t going anywhere.” Given his league-leading 19.5 sacks in 2019, they can’t let him walk but there’s still a chance that Barrett is a one-hit wonder. His four seasons in Denver were decent enough but in that time, he only got 14 sacks. That muddies the water somewhat.

Safe bet: Tampa Bay. He’ll stay put, although it would be wise for the Bucs to use the franchise tag and check last year wasn’t a fluke. Then, he will seriously reap the rewards down the line if he continues on his current trajectory.

Long shot: Tampa Bay. He’s already talked of giving Tampa a “home-town discount” due to Florida’s income tax arrangements so that’s another tick in the “not going anywhere” column.


Image Credit: Chris Szagola/Associated Press

3. Jadeveon Clowney (EDGE) – Seattle Seahawks


Clowney is an enigma. His production doesn’t live up to the billing – he had just three sacks last year and is yet to hit double figures – and he’s had some niggly injuries. But he produces big, game-defining moments, and he’s got the time and potential to grow as a pass rusher.

For a change, I’m not predicting a franchise tag scenario here because the Seahawks agreed not to use it when they acquired him from Houston. And they got him for a song in the first place. So despite non-elite production, Clowney can expect to become one of the highest-paid defenders in the NFL. We’re talking something like $100 million over five years. Ouch.

Safe bet: Seattle. It’s no secret that Russell Wilson wants him to stay and Head Coach Pete Carroll won’t want to further weaken a defensive line that ranked 31st in pass rushing last year. We’ll see him at CenturyLink Field next season for sure.

Long shot: Houston: I know, I know, but bringing Clowney back might not be as dumb as it sounds. The Texans’ passing defence was porous and JJ Watt isn’t getting any younger, so a newer model could give their edge rushing a timely boost.


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Image Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

4. Yannick Ngakoue (Edge) – Jacksonville Jaguars


Think of him like those Velociraptors in the original Jurassic Park film, sneaking in – quickly and silently – hunting down quarterbacks and flaying them alive with their oversized talons… err, sorry, got a bit carried away there. It’s actually more like rushing the passer, getting sacks and forcing errors.

He’s clocked 37.5 sacks through his first four seasons but if he gets elite money now, he’s getting overpaid.

Safe bet: Jacksonville. He’s still young and even in an off-year like 2019, Ngakoue’s eight sacks and 50 total pressures last season – his lowest since he was a rookie – was quite a nice floor.

Long shot: Buffalo. The Jags are strapped and it’ll cost a cool $20 million to keep him. But the Bills have the dosh. They are also losing Lorenzo Alexander to retirement and Shaq Lawson is also hitting free agency, so could have a couple of major gaps to fill.


5. Justin Simmons (Safety) – Denver Broncos


Big, fast and springy, Simmons is a run-breaker and a ball hawk, with 94 tackles and four interceptions in 2019. Those stats made the 26-year-old Pro Football Focus’ top safety last season, signalling a massive step up this year. But the teams sniffing around will need to kick the tyres to make sure he’s not another one-year breakout player getting top dollar for one unrepresentative season.

Safe bet: Denver. Simmons has evolved from a third-round draft pick into an essential element of the Broncos D so I suspect keeping him in Mile High City is a priority for John Elway, even if it’s via the franchise tag for now.

Long shot: San Francisco. If the Niners can’t keep hold of Jimmie Ward, especially given his history with injuries, yer man Simmons could be a great fit in the Bay.


ALSO IN THE PICTURE


Tom Brady (QB), New England Patriots

I couldn’t not mention Brady, could I? Time is catching up with TB12 after 20 seasons but given his stature in the game, he will still turn heads, even though he’s on the wane – he was only the 11th-ranked quarterback in 2019. I doubt he’ll want to up-sticks and start again at the ripe old age of 43 so staying in New England for one last hurrah with Uncle Bill Belichick before he sails off into the sunset doesn’t seem unreasonable. But if you wanna gamble and put it all on red, the Las Vegas Raiders have a youthful core and the financial where-with-all to add weapons around him.

Philip Rivers (QB), Los Angeles Chargers

Although a relative spring chicken (a mere 38), Rivers’ arm isn’t what it was, what little mobility he had is long gone and he had 20 INTs last year. That said, he also threw for more than 4,600 yards and 23 touchdowns so all is not lost. Rivers won’t be back in LA so again, Indianapolis would make a lot of sense. Their offensive line works and Rivers would be reunited with former Chargers QB assistant Frank Reich. Thinking more out of the box, he’s just moved to his family to Florida. Tampa Bay anyone?

Jameis Winston (QB), Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis is your guy if you want a bucketload of throws, thousands of yards, loads of touchdowns and a million interceptions. He’s high risk, high stakes, high reward. The Buccaneers are considering living dangerously again by bringing back the all-and-nothing QB, using the franchise tag for damage limitation. Failing that, the Indianapolis Colts GM said the jury’s still out on Jacoby Brissett.

Brandon Scherff (G), Washington Redskins

Scherff is a run-blocking guard who might have broken into the top 10 if he’d stayed healthy. Despite taking to the field only 19 times in two years, he’s arguably the best interior lineman in this year’s free agent class. The three-time Pro Bowler and former first round pick should stay with the Redskins under new HC Ron Rivera but if he doesn’t, let’s pretend for a moment the Cincinnati Bengals actually engaged in free agency. Scherff would help a terrible O-line protect some young whippersnapper called Burrow.

Byron Jones (CB), Dallas Cowboys

Despite hip surgery last offseason, Jones backed up his breakout 2018 campaign with another top year. Versatile enough to also play safety, Jones will be the top corner on the market which, according to the laws of supply and demand, means he’ll get paid above and beyond his ability. Minnesota could improve at corner, with Xavier Rhodes’ form falling away and Trae Waynes heading for free agency, while the Philadelphia Eagles could help their injury-ravaged secondary by poaching from a divisional rival.

DFS DraftKings Week Five

By Andy Goddard – @godsy1985

So how is everyone getting on in their DraftKings? Week 5 provides some interesting matchups with games that could offer great value on certain players. So who should you pick this week? It’s all about the bounce-back!


QB – Tom Brady – $6,500 (New England Patriots @ Washington Redskins)

Image credit: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Brady may well be coming off of an awful showing against Buffalo but this is the perfect ‘bounce-back’ game. Buffalo have a great defence that caused Brady problems all day, Washington’s defence is poor. They have given up 10 touchdowns and an average of more than 21 fantasy points to opposing teams quarterbacks. The Redskins defence are also allowing nearly 400 yards a game! It will be Tom Terrific again this week!


RB – Mark Ingram – $6,300 (Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers)

Another rebound target for this weeks team, Ingram disappointed against the Browns but is well placed to put up good fantasy numbers against a Steelers defence that has allowed over 100 rushing yards per game and given up nearly 28 fantasy points to opposing teams running backs. Add into the mix that the Ravens run the ball nearly 50 percent of the time and Ingram should be a good pick for that value when averaging nearly 21 fantasy points per game.


RB – David Johnson – $7,500 (Arizona Cardinals @ Cincinnati Bengals)

A duel threat running back is always a great option and Johnson is proving he is just that. He has a favourable matchup this week against a very poor Bengals team that couldn’t get anything working against the Steelers last week. Johnson is averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game and should exceed that number this week against a team ranked 31st in total defence.


WR – Julian Edelman – $6,300 (New England Patriots @ Washington Redskins)

Next on the bounce-back train is New England wide receiver, Julian Edelman. Edelman and the Patriots offense put up lousy numbers against the Bills but he has a lot going for him this week against the Redskins. Firstly, Washington have been awful against slot receivers, allowing the fifth most fantasy points to the position, and Edelman lines up in the slot 70 percent of the time. Secondly, if you think a QB is good enough to start, always pick his top target as one of your wide receivers!


WR – Calvin Ridley – $4,900 (Atlanta Falcons @ Houston Texans)

Image credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Ridley is a gamble after putting up a combined 7.8 fantasy points In the past two weeks but, you guessed it, its time for him to bounce-back! (you starting to see the theme?) Houston’s defence is giving up the third most fantasy points to receivers who line up wide, and that’s exactly where Ridley spends 85 percent of his time. Through the first two games of the season, Ridley had 12 catches for 169 yards and 2 TD’s. We should see ‘early season’ Ridley against the Texans!


WR – Allen Robinson II – $5,600 (Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders – London Game)

Robinson II appears to have become the main weapon in Chicago’s passing game. He is averaging 70 yards a game and 13.8 fantasy points per game. The Raiders are technically at home but they are a long way from Oakland. Head coach, John Gruden, has a poor record away from Oakland and I see this continuing in London. The Raiders are ranked 27th against the pass allowing over 280 yards per game. Robinson II could be in for a big game.


TE – Tyler Eifert – $3,300 (Arizona Cardinals @ Cincinnati Bengals)

Eifert hasn’t exactly set the fantasy world alight but that could change this week as he takes his seat aboard the bounce-back train. Averaging just 6.3 fantasy points per game he won’t be on many people radars, but he should be! The value is there at just $3,300 and he is going against a Cardinals defence that has allowed the most touchdowns to tight ends this season (6). Tight ends have also earned an impressive 27.8 fantasy points! Could be the value pick of the week.


FLEX – Tyler Boyd – $6,500 (Arizona Cardinals @ Cincinnati Bengals)

I always like to use the flex for a receiver and this week I’ve gone for Tyler Boyd. Another player looking to rebound after a poor performance against the Steelers (which Bengals player didn’t have a bad game against the Steelers?), Boyd is up against a Cardinals defence that has already allowed four touchdowns and the third most fantasy points to opposing slot receivers. Boyd is averaging 14.7 FPPG and 70.8 yards per game. Look for him to eclipse both of those numbers against Arizona.


DST – Tennessee Titans – $3,000 (Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans)

Image credit: Carmen Mandate/Getty Images

This pick is more to do with the fact that the Bills are struggling at QB. With Josh Allen potentially being inactive due to a head injury sustained against the Patriots, the Titans could see Matt Barkley under centre for the Bills. The Titans do have a good defence raking up 4 interceptions, 13 sacks, 1 defensive touchdown and averaging 10.8 fantasy points per game. It’s a favourable matchup at that value.

AFC East Breakdown

By Andy Goddard (@godsy1985)

Last Season

New England Patriots  11-5

Miami Dolphins  7-9

Buffalo Bills  6-10

New York Jets  4-12

New England Patriots:

Draft selections: N’Keal Harry, WR (1.32), Joejuan Williams, CB (2.45), Chase Winovich, DE (3.77), Damien Harris, RB (3.87), Yodny Cajuste, T (3.101), Hjalte Froholdt, OL (4.118), Jarrett Stidham, QB (4.133), Byron Cowart, DT (5.159), Jake Bailey, P (5.163), Ken Webster, CB (7.252).

Offseason key additions: Michael Bennett, DE (Philadelphia Eagles), Mike Pennel, DL (New York Jets), Ben Watson, TE (New Orleans Saints), Jamie Collins, LB (Cleveland Browns), Demaryius Thomas, WR (Houston Texans).

Offseason key departures: Rob Gronkowski, TE (retired), Dwayne Allen, TE (Miami Dolphins), Adrian Clayborn, DE (Atlanta Falcons), Trent Brown, LT (Oakland Raiders), Trey Flowers, DE (Detroit Lions).

Super Bowl odds: 6/1

Analysis:

The New England Patriots, and coach Bill Belichick, have had their annual off-season shake up but this year it just feels …… different. Rob Gronkowski’s retirement has left the Patriots very bare at the tight end position, especially with Ben Watson being handed a 4 game suspension to start the season. On the defensive side, Trey Flowers has joined Matt Patricia in Detroit and Trent Brown got his big payday in Oakland. The addition of Michael Bennett (DE) from Philadelphia as well as resigning Jamie Collins (LB) has covered some of the losses. The strength of the defense is clearly in the secondary and the resigning of Jason McCourty along with the emergence of J.C. Jackson to play alongside Stephon Gilmore should help give the front seven time to pressure. The Patriots have signed a catalogue of wide receivers for training camp as well as drafting N’Keal Harry (WR) in the first round. If Josh Gordon does get reinstated, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady will have a much more dangerous receiving core. But let’s be honest, the AFC East, as a division, is still pretty awful beyond the Patriots!

Look out for:

The Patriots to start the season 2-2 and everyone to have a melt down! Brady is finished, the dynasty is over, the world is ending! Back in the real world; Sony Michel to lead the offense with a 1000+ yard season as the Pats become a run first team behind a very strong offensive line. New England should win the division at a canter but an early exit in the playoffs could end the chance at a fourth straight Super Bowl appearance but who would ever bet against Brady and Belichick?!

Miami Dolphins:

Draft selections: Christian Wilkins, DT (1.13), Michael Deiter, OL (3.78), Andrew Van Ginkel, LB (5.151), Isaiah Prince, T (6.202), Chandler Cox, RB (7.233), Myles Gaskin, RB (7.234).

Offseason key additions: Dwayne Allen, TE (New England Patriots), Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Josh Rosen, QB (Arizona Cardinals), Chris Reed, G (Jacksonville Jaguars), Eric Rowe, CB (New England Patriots).

Offseason key departures: Danny Amendola, WR (Detroit Lions), Brandon Bolden, RB (New England Patriots), Ryan Tannehill, QB (Tennessee Titans), Andre Branch, DE (Arizona Cardinals), Robert Quinn, DE (Dallas Cowboys).

Super Bowl odds: 500/1

Analysis:

The Dolphins have made big changes during the off-season. New head coach Brian Flores has moved over from divisional rivals New England and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been traded to the Tennessee Titans. Miami made a very smart move bringing in Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick to battle it out for the starting QB job. ‘Fitzmagic’ (as he was known during a spell in Tampa) averaged 9.6 yards per attempt during the 2018 season. The highest mark recorded by PFF for a QB in 13 seasons! But he suffers massively from consistency issues. Kenyon Drake is a decent but not elite running back and losing Danny Amendola could prove to be a big mistake. Defensively, Miami ranked 29th in the 2018 season but Brian Flores is a defensive guy and has a young group to work with. The Dolphins do boast an elite corner back in Xavien Howard and have a solid linebacking group containing Kiko Alonso. They are a team in transition and should be picking quite early in next years draft.

Look out for:

Fitzpatrick to start the season as QB1 but Rosen to take over by week 8. The dolphins are building for the future and although Super Bowl 54 will be held at the Hard Rock Stadium (home of the Dolphins), do not expect to see the Dolphins competing in the big game. A fourth place finish in the AFC East beckons although they should pick up their obligatory win, at home, against the Patriots!

Buffalo Bills:

Draft selections: Ed Oliver, DT (1.09), Cody Ford, T (2.38), Devin Singletary, RB (3.74), Dawson Knox, TE (3.96), Vosean Joseph, LB (5.147), Jaquan Johnson, S (6.181), Darryl Johnson, DE (7.225), Tommy Sweeney, TE (7.228).

Offseason key additions: Cole Beasley, WR (Dallas Cowboys), Frank Gore, RB (Indianapolis Colts), LaAdrian Waddle, T (New England Patriots), John Brown, WR (Baltimore Ravens), Tyler Kroft, TE (Cincinnati Bengals).

Offseason key departures: Charles Clay, TE (Arizona Cardinals), Chris Ivory, RB (Free Agent), John Miller, G (Cincinnati Bengals), Logan Thomas, TE (Detroit Lions).

Super Bowl odds: 100/1

Analysis:

The Bills are built around their defense and they strengthened it further by adding quality through the draft, but they have also improve the offense with some key additions as well. Ed Oliver is a play wrecking defensive tackle and on the opposite side of the ball, Cody Ford could be used at either right tackle or guard to improve a struggling O-line. The Bills pressured opposing quarterbacks on 37% of drop backs last season (6th in the NFL) and there is no reason to think that this stat won’t be similar in 2019. Buffalo worked their salary cap in 2018 to allow them to build for the future and they appear well placed to make steps this season. The addition of Cole Beasley from the Cowboys should give quarterback Josh Allen a prime receiver to keep the chains moving. At running back the Bills have plenty of options led by LeSean McCoy. McCoy averaged just 3.2 yard per carry in 2018 but the offensive line has been greatly improved. As with most teams, the offensive development with very much depend of the progress of Josh Allen.

Look out for:

The Buffalo bills to be around the .500 mark. If Josh Allen can make decent progress, then a record slightly better than this could be achievable with an outside shot at the playoffs. Their run of games from week 13-16 are brutal (@Dallas, vs Baltimore, @Pittsburgh, @New England) and should be a good indicator of how far this team has developed throughout the season. Look for the Bills to cause some upsets along the way but consistency could be their undoing.

New York Jets

Draft selections: Quinnen Williams, DT (1.03), Jachai Polite, DE (3.68), Chuma Edoga, OT (3.92), Trevon Wesco, TE (4.121), Blake Cashman, LB (5.157), Blessuan Austin, CB (6.196).

Offseason key additions: Le’Veon Bell, RB (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tom Crompton, G (Minnesota Vikings), Jamison Crowder, WR (Washington Redskins), C.J. Mosley, LB (Baltimore Ravens), Kelechi Osemele, G (Oakland Raiders), Trevor Siemian, QB (Minnesota Vikings)

Offseason key departures: James Carpenter, G (Atlanta Falcons), Isaiah Crowell, RB (Oakland Raiders), Spencer Long, G (Buffalo Bills), Mike Pennel, DT (New England Patriots), Buster Skrine, CB (Chicago Bears).

Super Bowl odds: 100/1

Analysis:

Adam Gase has moved into the role of head coach after spending three seasons at their divisional rivals, Miami Dolphins. The Jets have made massive improvements to their roster but it was desperately needed! Through the draft, the Jets used four of their six selections on defensive players, selecting Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick. Greg Williams has also joined as defensive co-ordinator and on paper, the front seven looks promising. However, cornerback is still a big cause for concern. Trumaine Johnson picked up a very lucrative contract and needs to start earning that money if the Jets defence are going to take big strides forward. Offensively the addition of Le’Veon Bell at running back is a big upgrade. The Jets offense ranked 29th in 2018 but with Sam Darnold entering his second year with an elite running back and an explosive receiver in Bobby Anderson, I’m expecting to see the Jets finish 2nd in the AFC East and the offense to be ranked much higher in 2019.

Look out for:

The Jets have the personnel on the roster to be a challenger in the AFC. They have a solid defense, playmakers on offense and are building a strong team for the future. However, it may be a season too early for ‘Gang Green’ and I am seriously worried about head coach, Adam Gase! Seriously, what head coach sniffs smelling salts on the sidelines before a preseason game! The Jets were one of my ‘worst to first’ candidates (shameless plug of my last article) and I truly believe they will be very close to a wild card spot in 2019!

2019 Season Prediction

New England Patriots 11-5

New York Jets 9-7

Buffalo Bills 8-8

Miami Dolphins 4-12

Don’t get all defensive

We turn our attentions to the defensive side of the ball for this podcast and are helped out by Joel Bishop of The Inside Zone, Inside the Pylon and Pro Football Ready.

Before that we find out whether Game of thrones returning was a greater comeback than Tiger Woods’s win at Augusta, what Wilson’s contract means for the next guys up and why avocado share prices have soared.

Adam Foxcroft tries to better Adam Walford’s score on the Full10Questions and we announce the winner of the April competition (you have 1 week to claim!)

Times:

1st Down – News and Notes : 4:29

2nd Down – Defence draft prospects : 10:51

3rd Down – Full10Questions: 49:15

4th Down – Podcast housekeeping and Competition winner: 57:39

Which Division won the Free Agency?

We all have our opinions as to which teams or players got or bad deals. Maybe you loved Mark Ingram to the Ravens, Dee Ford to the 49ers or maybe even Geoff Swaim to the Jags (you sick people!).

But lets go one step further than that, which DIVISION won in Free Agency? For me, one clear winner…

AFC East

This in my mind is the unquestionable winner from the Free Agency frenzy;

Cast your minds back 12 months, Bills fans were celebrating the arrivals of Jeremy Kerley and AJ McCarron (*pukes*) and Miami fans were shuddering at Brock Osweiler being their long term solution (I kid, of course). Added on to that, current free agent Isiah Crowell was being signed by the Jets on a 3 year, $12m deal (get well soon Isiah).

At time of this article, I don’t think that there is any doubt that the AFC are now finally in position where the playing field is shaping towards being a tiny bit more even.

Yes, the Patriots are probably going to still win the AFC East, maybe perhaps for the last time as the chasing pack have applied their Fast and Furious NOS systems and pressed the launch button.

Starting off in New York, the acquisitions of LeVeon Bell, Jamison Crowder on offence and CJ Mosley on defence make them the main protagonists to the Patriots in 2019. The kicker here is the 3rd pick in the 2019 draft too. If they manage to trade down and pick up another few picks inside the first few rounds, this team could make a real push at a division title.

Before we all go rushing to the bookmakers and shoving some hard earned on the currently 100/1 available on them to win the Super Bowl (50s for the AFC is tempting though!), there are scenarios where this goes horribly wrong.

Firstly, LeVeon Bell may be rusty. He’s just taken a year out to release a dodgy rap album and become a pro at riding jet skis. There isn’t one person in the world in any sport that can be off the field and still stay in match fitness, not even Cristiano Ronaldo. You’ll get all the cliche “best shape of his life” quotes from coaches in the offseason about Bell, just take it with a pinch of salt.

Secondly, we have Adam Gase running the ship. I’m not his greatest fan despite his love for flying Tacos and the jury is still out on him in my opinion as to whether he is a good coach or even a good offensive mind in the NFL. Apart from his time with Peyton Manning (where he was OC), what has he accomplished? Probably about as much as Theresa May has with Brexit negotiations. Miami are in a mess after his few years there, and Chicago were hardly perennial playoff visitors. As a head coach, I am yet to see why Gase is held in high regards. Always reports of rifts with players, especially in Miami, what’s to say that he doesn’t get on with Sam Darnold or LeVeon Bell or anyone in New York for that matter?

Talking of Darnold, there is also a case to be made that he may not progress in his second year in the NFL. I am a big fan and he showed flashes last year of what he can do. His love for interceptions may be hard to shake off but now with more pieces around him, a stellar guy in the backfield as a security blanket along with Crowder, you may see Darnold flourish. But there is a slightly bigger than small chance that he maybe not quite there yet. Offences can struggle when new HC come in and implement something new, just ask Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota.

I still see the Jets as the main contenders and a dark horse in the AFC to play a game in January this year (you heard it here first!), but just don’t buy first class tickets on the hype train just yet…it’s expensive in New York after all.

Moving on to a team which i think are in the top 3 of teams that won in Free Agency, the Buffalo Bills.

The exodus on the offensive line is starting to be repaired, with Mitch Morse coming over from Kansas City who is a former 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft and Ty Nsekhe, a solid tackle from Washington.

Buffalo were awful at running the ball last season (taking away Josh Allen’s scrambles) with only Marcus Murphy averaging over 4 yards per carry (on 52 attempts). So the additions in FA, plus whatever they pick up in the Draft, should see Josh Allen have more time to throw deep bombs to newly acquired John “Smokey” Brown.

Many people will forget how electric John Brown was in Baltimore last season when Joe “Statue” Flacco was quarterbacking for them in the early weeks of the season. Prior to the week 10 bye, Brown had 601 yards on 34 receptions. Compare that to Lamar Jackson time, Brown had 114 yards on 8 receptions. John Brown showed us last season that he can play a full season after seemingly overcoming his sickle cell trait that he had over in Arizona. I think Brown and Allen are a match made in heaven and could help fire this Buffalo offence into scoring points where they were 3rd worst in the league last season (I’ll also happily take John Brown at a discount in draft come August).

Cole Beasley and Tyler Kroft are good supporting cast members too and will slot in nicely  to provide a veteran presence alongside Buffalo’s younger pieces of Zay Jones (23), Isiah McKenzie (23) and Robert Foster (24). You would expect at least one of those to step forward to complete this wide receiving core. Whilst collectively they are as old as Countdown viewers average age in the backfield (especially with the addition of Gore), I would expect this to be addressed in the draft this year, if not next.

We move on to Miami finally, and this one could take a little bit longer to boil.

They’ve just said their goodbyes to Ryan Tannehill and shoved him in a suitcase and up Route 75 to Tennessee, leaving 2 schmucks at Quarterback (interesting stat, Rams Punter Johnny Hecker has thrown an NFL ball more times than Luke Faulk and Jake Ruddock. I smell a trade rumour! Just kidding).

The outlook though is not so bleak;

They have a projected $120m in rolled over cap for the 2020 season (pending any subsequent trade moves, which, by the way, I am predicting Colin Kaepernick starts week 1!) and at this moment at LEAST 10 picks in the 2020 draft. The one that apparently has millions of HOF Quarterbacks as we keep hearing over and over (do over with it, already). Chris Grier is putting the work in to fully rebuild this franchise which needs to take a step back before it can take a step forward. Whilst this season may not be pretty for new HC Brian Flores and the Dolphins, the future certainly is looking bright and finally, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the fans in the South East of America. Kenyan Drake may finally be seen in a positive light (still only 25) and Kalen Ballage/Mike Gesicki are also entering their 2nd seasons. Pair that with 26yr olds Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker (OK, maybe clutching here a bit), it wont actually take much to make this offence watchable when the new QB is installed.

Add all of this together, and all of a sudden, Buffalo and New York don’t seem too far away from a Patriots team that is going to come back to the pack at some point. Miami should be casually late to the party, like the cool kids at school except the part about being cool. Miami are not cool.

Last, but by no means least the Patriots. Whilst they may not have done anything in Free Agency of note, especially with regards to the “IN” door, they are the masters at staying on top and the intrigue of how the other 3 teams have approached this Free Agency automatically means that the Patriots are a winner in Free Agency. Letting go of Trent Brown, Trey Flowers, et al. means they get compensatory picks in next year’s Draft. We all know at how good New England are with getting the most out of their picks and turning them in to seemingly big stars when it’s the system. Whilst they will return to the pack when Brady/Gronk etc retire, they will always be the ones setting the bar in the division and as each year passes, the fascination increases as to whether the moves made by the other teams finally give them the chance to leapfrog New England. The same applies to this year.

These are the reasons I put to you that the AFC East division is the winner of the 2019 Free agency.

When the Patriots do come back to the field a little bit and we say that every year (and we saw signs last regular season that the time is nigh), there is more than just one team ready to pounce and one could argue that the next few years, the AFC East could be the most intriguing and that the division as a whole at the very least is now competitive where over the last few years, it’s been the laughing stock of the NFL (even with the Patriots winning it all multiple times over that time period).

Let me know your thoughts and whether or not there is another division that won the Free Agency. Maybe you think the AFC North with the Cleveland stuff? Or perhaps the NFC north with Green Bay strengthen that defence? Would love to hear your thoughts so get in touch with us on THE TWITTER @full10yards or @Tim_Monk85.

We’ll be covering Free agency on our podcast on the 26th March. Don’t miss it!

In the great words of late great Mr Buffalo Bill himself Kevin Cadle, Bye Bye for now… Bye Bye.

Exit Interview – AFC East

We kick off our mammoth review of every team in the NFL with the help of all you lovely fans. We look at last season’s pivotal moments and the questions in the upcoming offseason.

We tackle the AFC East first up and to help we have:

@StevieTRay (Patriots),

@All32Lee (Dolphins),

@Spot_Bills (Bills)

@Roachy1985 (Jets)

*Just a caveat for the whole series, these were recorded over the last few weeks so one or 2 bits may be outdated, but I think we are good for the AFC East!*

Wednesday, the AFC South is under the spotlight!