#NFL100Memories – 11/100

Choosing teams! – By James (&Cathy) Fotheringham – @NFLHypeTrain

So my moment is more of a story of how me and my Wife finally solidified which teams we would support as we grew to live the game. It wasn’t a direct route, in fact, we started with two totally different teams and two totally different reasons.

The journey starts in January 2013. I had just got into the NHL and was following the Penguins but had only just discovered the NFL on Sky. I don’t go out much but an a night owl so I end up getting interested. Having looked into hockey fantasy leagues I stumble on a playoff team selector. I have no idea about anyone but it’s a way of learning, right? I have a fantasy team of sorts and that’s me sucked in for what has now been 6 years. At this point I pick of the 10 teams to support in the playoffs and I choose the 49ers since I enjoy Mythbusters and that’s based in SF. I also like trolley cars and think the Golden Gate is comparable to the Humber Bridge (I’m from North Lincolnshire, it’s one of the better features of the place). It’s shaky logic but when you look at the other 9 teams and know no players it was all I had!

Meanwhile my wife Cath chooses the Ravens because of The Blind Side and Michael Oher. Much more logical than me and of course you know what happens in that Super Bowl… When both teams win their championship games I send in a message to the legendary Kevin Cadle (Rest in peace) and the Sky team to say my team is playing my wife’s team in the Super Bowl… I still remember Jeff Reinbold and Neil Reynold wishing us luck to still be together.

Of course on February 3rd 2013, Cath is the one who prevails as the Ravens win 34-31 in New Orleans. This is the game where the lights go out in the Superdome and the 49ers almost come back from 28-6 down but a missed 2 point try with 10 mins to go and a Justin Tucker Field goal for the Ravens on their next possession is the difference. It’s a blow and I go back to Hockey while football hits the off season.

When August 2013 hits I make a decision which will affect the rest of my life. I get into fantasy football. My first full leagues are just public leagues as it’s still very niche in the UK but I find some leagues and pick some teams purely on guess work. In terms of the NFL as a whole I’m hooked and get two tickets for the Wembley game between the 49ers and the Jaguars in October. To date it’s the only game I’ve seen live in person but it was an epic experience. Colin Kaepernick has a quiet game, Frank Gore got 2 TDs and was in my fantasy team while MJD was the one player Cath had heard of on the Jags.

Cath really got into it and was flying the flag for the “Home” team Jags. This seems to have an effect because when the season ends and Michael Oher is released by the Ravens and isn’t looking quite so elite, she pins her colours on the Jaguars. She liked the underdog story, wanted a team in Florida (since we love Orlando) and with them coming to the UK often she felt they would be easy to support. I decide my logic with the 49ers doesn’t hold up to a loyalty and now I have all 32 teams open to me I look at changing my allegiance.

Jan 2014 I attend my 2nd live hockey game at the Sheffield Steelers in the EIHL. I’m now tied to the Steelers title. My fantasy teams are the Ironowl Steelers (Iron for Scunthorpe United, Owl for Sheffield Wednesday and Steelers for Sheffield Steelers and now…). This is where my allegiance in NFL swaps to Pittsburgh and that becomes “My city”. Sheffield and Pittsburgh are both quite industrial and Steel driven and with a shared name it was an easy swap to make. I was already massively into the Penguins while Cath went back to her “anything Disney or film based” logic and chose the Anaheim Ducks.

August 2014 comes around and I’m hooked on Fantasy Football; I won a title! My first full season playing and now knew the key players for most of the league. There was no going back now! I’m now solidly a Steelers fan and Cath is allied to the Jags. She gets interested in fantasy too (but not to the same level) and the rest as they say is history.

It’s a strange tale but the day my email was read out was my most fun NFL moment while my favourite playing moment is probably a Frank Gore 2 yard TD which happens at our end of Wembley. Even though Fantasy is my main love and the platform for so many of my favourite moments, it’s telling that my highlight comes at the time when I was literally the closest I could be to the action. I really need to get back to a game soon.

Jacksonville: Good, Bad or Ugly?

By Tim Monk (@Tim_Monk85)- 23rd June 2019

Many people see Nick Foles as the answer to the question: “What will it take for Jacksonville to get the Super Bowl?”

I see it a different way. The signing of Nick Foles could be the first domino in the sequence that sends the Jaguars back a few years.

Despite being a Philadelphia hater, it isn’t Nick Foles’ fault nor do I have anything against him or the 4 year $88m deal he signed a few months back. You have to take what you can get in this game and fair play to Foles and his agent for securing that lucrative deal.

However, after the recent news about Jaguars pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue planning to skip mandatory minicamp and Jalen Ramsey seemingly starting to simmer after being told that his contract wont be looked at this offseason, there is a chance here that the Jaguars could implode from the inside out and all the foundations that had been built over the past few years could start to crumble.

Before we go forward, we need to go back; cast your minds back to last season…

This was supposed to be the season where Jacksonville were to have a home playoff game and make a run to the biggest game of them all after being mere minutes away from it the season before. It was supposed to be the season where after getting a taste for January football (something in which they had not tasted since 2008), that they would look to fully establish themselves and put it to notice that they will reserve a seat continuously at the top table of the AFC over the next few years.

Telvin Smith announced prior to the start of the season that he was not available for selection in the 2018 schedule and was to take time away for personal reasons.

Despite this news, the season started as they left off the season prior; going 3-1 and exorcising the demons of the Patriots in week 2. The Jaguars were picking up steam.

However, a thumping by the other hot team in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs, took the train off the tracks and the Jags just did not recover. Losses to Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia followed and whilst they were all playoff teams last year, it was the manner of those defeats which were worrying and seemingly unexplainable. The season then spiralled which wasn’t helped by some more player shenanigans.

One main culprit was Leonard Fournette, who was in and out of the team with injury issues but also disciplinary issues involving team photos and general attitude leading to him losing his guarantees for this year’s portion of his contract. TJ Yeldon, the fellow perpetrator towards the end of the season has been assigned the NFL equivalent of the Night’s Watch in Buffalo.

On the defensive side, there were stories all over the mill relating to their late night in London and the bills that were racked up (and not paid for straight away by all accounts!) and the disruptive nature of the players out and about on the eve of the international series game which is never good news. They lost the game in London and then headed back across the pond.

After their bye, it was plain to see that the Jaguars players just weren’t up for it, on either side of the ball. The defence will get called out more so due to their usually exceptionally high standards and production levels. Watching Henry’s 99 yard touchdown run against the Jags pretty much epitomises what the Jaguars were al about towards the end of the season.

The rest is history for the season and the rumblings keep on churning.

Bringing it forward to this offseason, we mentioned on the podcast a few months ago that the Jaguars were at the point of no return and would have to choose between either Foles and then trying to perform a juggling act on the defence, OR draft a rookie QB in a prime position at pick 7 and still be able to pay the players to keep the stars in their galaxy. They chose option A and I fear for Jaguars fans that this was easily the worst option, despite understanding why they chose it.

The problem is that the front office feel they are not far away from a Super Bowl appearance; The defence is there (or is it?), they have a run game to match the ground and pound combination and they have 1 or 2 pieces on offence but they thought Blake Bortles was the one to put them over the top. That unfortunately wasted a few years and has knocked the Jaguars title bid all out of sync.

If the Jags miss the postseason once again in 2019, Doug Marrone will likely be out the door as it’s likely that the players will be running the asylum. Players will start to leave on that defence and you can start to see the Jaguars credentials will start to crumble.

What doesn’t help is that Tom Coughlin, a former HC himself in Duval from yesteryear, has been trying to rule with an Iron Fist which has been rebuffed by the NFL in terms of forcing players in to participating in minicamps and optional training sessions and it hasn’t been well received internally.

Let’s try and be positive for a second though, it’s only fair;

On the offensive side of the ball, Nick Foles is probably the best QB the franchise has ever had and should bring a great veteran’s presence and winning mentality to the team. He knows what it’s like to win it all and some of the guys on both sides of the ball can buy in to him as a leader.

At Wide Receiver, Dede Westbrook is by far the best pass catcher on the team couldbreak out in his 3rd year despite this team seemingly going to show a run heavy offence. That said, the Jaguars are going to need Keelan Cole, DJ Chark to step up, Marqise Lee to not have lost a step a year removed from his ACL tear and Chris Conley to do…well something. Could it even be possible that Donte Moncrief departing is a miss for this team?!

Leonard Fournette, when healthy and staying out of trouble is one of the better backs in the league and knows how to run through people and when he has the momentum is a tough guy to keep down. Again, maybe Foles can coarse some hard work and effort out of him and show him along the right lines of how to be a professional athlete and how to conduct himself as a former 1st round draft pick should do.

We don’t really need to go in to great detail about how good the Jacksonville defence can be, we’ve all seen it; 2nd ranked defence in 2017 in terms of Points allowed and yards allowed and turnovers created. As previously stated, they need to get back here to allow Nick and co to do what they need to do, the question is: do the players have the selfless desire to win as a team and can they play for each other rather than being 53 individuals and can they play for the guy in charge of them?

Talking of which, we come to current HC, Doug Marrone.

Hired week 15 in the 2016 season as interim manager after being the O Line coach and assistant to Gus Bradley (currently tearing it up in LA with the Charger on Defence btw), Marrone currently has a 16-18 record as the Jags HC. The former Bills HC and New Orleans Saints OC doesn’t strike anyone as a guy that is synonymous with winning and was touted as a coach who may have felt the wrath of Black Monday this year. He stays for now and surely this is a pivotal year for him, just like the many on the 53 man roster.

Doug Marrone must be able to answer the questions hanging over the character issues about the team and lead from the front with the help of Foles in order for the Jags to see January football, otherwise it could be a long goodnight for the Jacksonville Jaguars team as it currently stands.

The Jaguars bandwagon has just turned at the crossroads. Doug Marrone is the driver and Tom Coughlin is the Sat Nav (you also have to wonder if Shahid Khan sabotaged the Sat Nav so that they turned the way towards London….but that’s for another time).

Did they turn the right way and veer towards Super Bowl City or have they ventured back down towards doldrums avenue, where they have lived for the past 20 years?

For me, the Jaguars window in my opinion has shut and not even big d*** Nick can save them. The defence will have to play out of this world again to get them anywhere close but I fear that they are more interested in their own wallets rather than the success of the team. Telvin Smith was away from the team last year so we don’t know what shape and condition he will be in if he returns, Yannick Ngakoue is starting to throw toys out of the pram, seemingly taking a lead from Jalen Ramsey, who isn’t happy about his contract not being looked at (despite a few years still left to run) and who knows what Josh Allen will be like or whether he may pick up some bad habits straight off the bat. This defence at the moment is prestigious by name and past form from over a year ago. Could it be that the stellar season in 2017 was an outlier and in fact this team are just as good (well, bad) as they were a few years prior to that? Prior to 2017, their most recent season with a winning record was 2007 (with every season having a negative point differential) and hadn’t won the division this millennium. Obviously still nursing that hang over when they partied like it was 1999 (Tom Coughlin was the coach at the time).

Interesting season ahead for those in north eastern Florida. A wide range of outcomes and the headlines won’t take too much to write either way because we’ve seen the angel and the devil sides of the Jaguars over the tenure of Doug Marrone.

I’ll leave you with 3 words for the people on that Jacksonville bandwagon;

Tuck and Roll.

Pick It Apart; Josh Allen

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #7

Player: Josh Allen

Drafted by: Jacksonville Jaguars

Grade: A-

Analysis: It’s funny how you can be shocked and also not surprised with one pick. Yes, Jacksonville are renowned for their defence and how shutdown it can be. Also, their offence is not all that, even with Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles joining the ranks (let’s not also forget about the mighty Geoff Swaim, people). Everyone kind of expeting TJ Hockenson to fill this slot but I guess the talent of Josh Allen won through here for Doug Marrone and the front office. Allen, an overlooked 2 star recruit who was only just a Kentucky grad after a late offer used that as his inspiration to be the best form of himself that he could be, earning team captain honours in 2018. Allen has overcome a lot from his youth; often being sent home from school due to his hygiene, being bullied because of a speech impediment and crying numerous times. Now, he is one of the most feared pass rushers coming in to the NFL and I think his attitude, the way he has carried himself through his life and his desire to be the best is what makes Jacksonville a great destination. I say that because great players always have space made for them on any team. Jacksonville had needs on offence and there were plenty of options available to them, but they still decided to go with Josh Allen.

His knocks are his short arm length (47th%ile at combine) and his small hands (1%ile!) but this is not going to stop him getting to Luck, Watson and Mariota (maybe) on a stacked defence. He brings a wide variety of talents along the line and is a guy who can get to the QB in a straight line or round the bend. He has a variety of moves which he executes to a good level, can set an edge and also is adept at dropping back in to coverage if required.

In summary, the Jags are getting an elite athlete, who can fulfill a number of duties along the line and is another jewel in the crown of this defence which may just find it’s mojo again in 2019. He will fill roles at SAM linebacker and an edge rusher on passing downs, he’ll slot in just fine in the NFL.

But, is it enough to say it was the right pick when there were other needs on offence?

Fantasy Football Impact:

Jacksonville are a perennial top 3 defence in fantasy football, Josh Allen will help keep the Jags at the forefront of people’s mind when picking defences in the double digit rounds. Working opposite Yannick Ngakwoue, they have just had a new delivery of sacks in Sacksonville.

Podcast 8 – #MyTeamMythoughts – Jaguars

Aarron Warriner (@DuvalWarriner) joins us to talk about OUR Jacksonville Jaguars.

100 days to go until the  NFL Season starts, and we give you a strange perspective to see that from…

With Aarron, we find out what “Duval” means, assess whether the Jaguars overachieved last season and what is considered success in 2018. I surprise Aarron with a game involving Blake Bortles…