Top 10 NFL quarterbacks going into 2020

By Kieran Patterson (@DCCYTFootball)

Every season there is one position valued above all others, a position that’s scrutinized and picked apart more than any other…the quarterback.

With the position being so varied between teams, players styles and schemes I think it would be interesting to take a look at the top 10 signal callers in the league, break them down and see who is going to be exciting to watch going into the 2020 season.


Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans


I know off the bat I’m going to get flack for this. I know it. Not only was the former number 8 overall pick a complete bust in Miami, he was also injury prone. Every season he played the full 16 games he threw double digit interceptions and struggled to help the Dolphins get anywhere.

So what changed in Tennessee?

Better coaching? More motivation? Better culture? Regardless of what changed at the Titans, it worked. In the 12 games he took the field (only started 10) he put up 2,742 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He had 4 less touchdowns than Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes while only starting 10 games!

Tennessee Titans' Ryan Tannehill named best QB at 4 types of throws
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Behind a dynamic hardnosed offence that includes man mountain Derrick Henry and dynamic Wide Receivers like AJ Brown, Cory Davis and Adam Humphries this offence has all the power it needs to take them deep into the playoffs again. Possibly even a Superbowl appearance.

This isn’t just me jumping onto a player who had a hot season, this is me telling you that the Titans are dangerous and can beat any team they face off against this year. Good luck stopping them.


Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers


You might be asking why I have a future all of famer this far down this list. Well it’s not only his lack of weapons but actually his recent productivity.

Last year Rodgers posted a respectable 4,002 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Couple that with the fact that not only is he missing weapons he’s not getting any younger. The Packers realized this and that’s why they brought in Jordan Love.

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Now my personal opinions on Rodgers aside he is in fact a future first ballot Hall of Famer and an all time great. But I think we see him start to wind his career down now. With little to no offensive weapons to help him move the ball I don’t see Rodgers living up to any of the hype we see around him and the Packers every year.

Sure he’s one of the best…but he can’t win games alone anymore.


Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49er’s


Now many people might call Patriots bias due to who drafted Jimmy Garoppolo and his history with the Patriots but if you’re familiar with my work then you know that I know what I’m talking about (I’m pretty good at this whole football lark).

The 49er’s are 19-5 with Jimmy G under center since he suited up in red and gold and 3-10 without him…now you tell me he’s not a difference maker. People love to hate on Jimmy G but watching him play is sensational, his release is one of the fastest in the league, he can make throws downfield, he makes fast reads and isn’t afraid to take a hit.

Jimmy Garoppolo back to throwing after torn ACL
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Last year Jimmy racked up 3,978 passing yards for 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Oh no he’s terrible despite having a stat line almost identical to Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers. With just a few more interceptions. Yeah tell me he’s bad again.

Despite coming up short in the Superbowl I think it would be foolish to not expect this even stronger 49er’s team to not tear it up next year and make another run at the Superbowl behind this super-powered offense.  


Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans


After Deandre Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in the off-season there was rumors that Deshaun Watson was looking from a way to escape Bill O’Brian too and the Patriots got mentioned…to say I was excited was an understatement.

Watson is unquestionably one of the most exciting signal callers in the league he’s a great athlete with a really accurate arm and despite his O-Line failing to keep him upright most of the time he still manages to make plays and as long as he’s on the field the Texans are still in the game. Watson has taken the Texans to playoffs for 2 of his 3 seasons, the exception being his rookie year.

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Last year he had a great season but unfortunately fell to the eventual Superbowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs. He went into the playoffs with  3,852 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also tallied 413 ground yards taking 7 touchdowns in with his feet.

Despite losing Hopkins, Watson still has a strong defense and competent offensive pieces to aid him going into the 2020 season which will be crucial in helping the Texans to their 3 playoffs berth in as many years.

Hopefully Watson wears a visor this year so he doesn’t nearly lose an eye while escaping the pocket.


Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints


When it was reported that Drew Brees has already signed a TV deal ahead of the 2020 season I think that was almost a confirmation that this was his last 2 years as a player.

Despite playing at a high level his whole career an MVP award has always alluded this man, not that he hasn’t deserved it. The future hall of famer has one last shot at the MVP and he’s in a great position to do it with the team around him.

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With a pro-bowl supporting cast including players like Alvin Kamara, Micheal Thomas and Taysom Hill it’s not hard to picture this Saints team making it back to the playoffs. Last season Brees unfortunately missed 5 games due to a thumb injury he picked up in week 2 against the rams. After back up Teddy Bridgewater came in and went 5-0 in his absence Brees returned and managed to finish with 2,079 passing yards, 27 Touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Despite struggling against the Vikings in the playoffs in the past 3 years Brees has all the tools to finally make it to the big game and despite Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Jimmy G all being in the NFC it’s not smart money to bet against this man.


Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks


Now if I had to pick one quarterback to extend a play as long as possible until someone gets open, I’d pick Russell Wilson.

For pretty much his whole career Wilson had played behind one of the worst O-Lines in history, no matter what he’s tried to make plays and subsequently pulled off some of the most jaw dropping plays in NFL history.

Seahawks' Russell Wilson using Google to prep for Pittsburgh ...
Joshua Bessex

A true leader of men Wilson would earn a place on this list for almost every year he’s been in the NFL. Last season the Seahawks signal caller threw for 4,110 yards, 31 touchdowns and 5 interceptions taking the Seahawks to the playoffs for the 7th time in Wilson’s 8 year tenure with the Seahawks.

It seems a this point a guarantee that Wilson and the Seahawks will see post season action, with stiff competition now in the NFC how far can Wilson take his men?

Time will tell, but with this man as a signal caller the Seahawks won’t go down without a fight.


Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Tom Brady will be 43 years old when the NFL season kicks off this year. 43. Just let that sink in for a moment.

So after one of his worst seasons in 2019 Brady decided to leave for pastures new in Tampa Bay. Whether it was him butting heads with Bill Belichick or him feeling under appreciated by the team he spent the last 20 years of his life leading, Brady left the Patriots. He’s walked into a great situation in Tampa. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howards, JF3 and oh…Rob Gronkowski are just a few reasons why Tampa Bay is looking to be the best team in the NFC this year.

At 43 Brady will 100% slow down, it’s just nature but if that Tampa Bay pocket gives him 2-3 seconds every snap then no doubt they’re dangerous. Now last year on a team plagued with injuries, young players making mistakes and an O-Line made out of paper Brady managed to throw for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Pretty good considering.

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So now put him on a team with Gronk who’s in the conversation for best tight end ever, Mike Evans a rough and ready wide receiver who can out muscle anyone covering and high points balls like a man twice his size, Chris Godwin who can take the top off a secondary and might be one of the fastest guys in the league and the little mentioned JF3 a Taysom Hill type player with 4.19 speed and agility to match. SCARY.

I think if this Tampa Bay team doesn’t make the playoffs it will be the biggest shock the league has ever seen. They’re almost a lock for the Superbowl and Brady vs Mahomes would be one of the most fun matchups ever. This Tampa Bay team is going to be fun to watch with the GOAT at the helm.


Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills


If it wasn’t for Lamar Jackson winning the MVP then Josh Allen would’ve been number 2 instead of here. Josh Allen is my favorite quarterback in the league and that’s coming from a Patriots fan. He’s got a bazooka for an arm, he’s athletic and he’s tough.

Josh Allen has come into a long snakebitten franchise and completely changed the energy. In his Rookie season he played in 12 games throwing for 2,074 yards for 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also added a further 631 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns. Oh and he hurdled over Anthony Barr against the Vikings. That was pretty great.

ESPN highlights where Bills QB Josh Allen needs to improve
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In his sophomore season he really improved starting in all 16 games putting up 3,089 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions while adding 510 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Between his huge frame and cannon arm he really does look like a movie quarterback in every sense of the word. He came into the league with so much potential and only last year did he scratch the surface in terms of what he’s really capable of. The Bills unfortunately dropped out of the playoffs early another one and done situation.

Look for them to make a deep run this year taking on the likes of the Ravens, Titans and Chiefs along the way. If they can beat a team like the Chiefs in the playoffs I’d say they’d be a safe bet to win the big game come February.


Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens


Honestly the number 2 on this list was hotly contested for a whole host of reasons but reigning MVP Lamar Jackson just edged it.

Showing massive improvements in his passing game during his sophomore season Jackson was one of the most electric playmakers in the league. With a mix of great throws and ridiculous speed and agility on the ground Jackson was a true duel threat.

The year he was drafted I was on record saying he might be one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen in a long time and 100% the best quarterback in his class. Not only did he stick to his guns when teams wanted him to work out as receiver he showed true improvement in his passing game taking his completion percentage from 58.2% in his rookie season to 66.1% in his sophomore year.

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In his first season as a starter (starting all 16 games) he put up 3,127 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 6 interceptions plus his staggering 1,206 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns there’s a reason why he won MVP. While he does look like he struggles in the playoffs it clear that Jackson is a true duel threat and more than a handful for any NFL defense.

Expect the Ravens to appear in the playoffs again this year as they finally try as Lamar finally tries to break the one and done showings of his first 2 years.

He is on the cover of Madden though…but then again Patrick Mahomes may have ended the Madden curse for good


Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs


Former MVP and reigning Superbowl champion, Patrick Mahomes might be the best quarterback in the league right now.

The former 2017 first round pick sat his full rookie season, which is something I actually recommend for most quarterbacks coming into the league.

Fresh from blinding stat lines at Texas Tech one of which was throwing for 734 yards in a game (819 combined yards) against Oklahoma. It was clear Mahomes had talent and the Chiefs coaching staff realized sitting him behind a veteran like Alex Smith was a great idea.

It paid off.

In his first season as a starter Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the road to an MVP award and AFC championship game. In his first year as a starter…that’s crazy. His stats saw a slight drop in 2019 where he threw for 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He did go on to win the Superbowl though so I’m sure he’s not too upset.

Super Bowl 2020: Several Super Bowl records set or tied as Chiefs ...
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Mahomes looks to be the best quarterback in the league for years to come, he’s got a cannon for an arm, great feet and awareness which allow him to extend plays and he understands football. If you could pick the best quarterback in the league at this exact moment, it’s Mahomes.

I can’t wait to see how the rest of his career plays out. Honestly I feel like it’s a given that the Chiefs at least appear in the AFC Championship game behind one of the best offences the NFL has ever seen, appearing to have broke the Madden curse with a Superbowl win and Superbowl MVP award to boot.

Season in Review – Tennessee Titans

By James Fotheringham (@nflhypetrain)

Next up in our review series is the Tennessee Titans.


Before the season the Tennessee Titans were one of those teams that nobody really thought much about. They were “just a team” who were too good to be bottom of the pile in the AFC South, but behind the Texans and Colts. When Andrew Luck announced his retirement, hopes grew, but the prospect of DeShaun Watson on offence, JJ Watt on defence and strong teams in other divisions, making the playoffs via a wildcard look difficult.


The Personnel:


The Coaching team lost OC Matt LaFleur to the Packers which led to Arthur Smith being promoted from the TE coach role. Otherwise, nothing changed. Mike Vrabel was HC, Jon Robinson GM and Dean Pees DC.

On Defence the team had 5 rookies in the final roster, but mostly the team was led by veterans Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard and Logan Ryan with developing stars Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry and Jayon Brown all stepping up. Kenny Vaccaro and Malcolm Butler began their 2nd seasons at the Titans while Cameron Wake joined from Miami.

On Offence the team added AJ Brown in the 2nd round of the draft to pair with Corey Davis (taken in the 1st round last year). They also grabbed Adam Humphries from Tampa Bay and retained Delanie Walker for another year. Walker went down very early and so Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser shared to load. Ryan Tannehill joined from Miami so act as backup to Marcus Mariota (who started the season with a rather short leash). The Running back duo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis were retained while the offensive line was improved by the addition of Roger Saffold from the Rams to join Jack Conklin, Taylor Lewan and co. Henry and Lewis were okay in 2018 but Henry only just scraped over 1000 rushing yards and his utilisation stopped him from reaching his full potential. A lot of experts doubted he’d be able to become elite but as the season unfolded, he exploded.


The Regular Season


Cast your minds back to the conclusion of week 6. The Titans had just been shutout 16-0 by the Denver Broncos to drop to 2-4. The Bills, Jags and Colts had each got the better of them and wins away against the Browns and the Falcons were the only high points. Marcus Mariota was struggling and the team as a whole only scored more than 20 points in 2 games (those in which they won) and had 3 games scoring 7 points for fewer.

During and after the loss in Denver the Titans switched QB and put Ryan Tannehill under centre and that decision was key in turning around their season. They went on to in 6 of their next 7 games to move to 8-5 and in a fight with the Texans for the AFC South. In 10 starts and 2 relief games, Tannehill would complete 201 passes for 2,742yds and 22TCs with only 6INTs. A 117.5 passer rating and completion percentage over 70% was a revelation for the Titans while he was also able to rush 43 times for 185 yards and 4TDs. This support and change in playing style caught teams off guard and gave Derrick Henry the room and licence to run.

Image Credit – Chipermc, Wikimedia

Tannehill made the team a passing threat and brought relevance to the likes of 2nd round pick AJ Brown, 2018 1st rounder Corey Davis and the Delanie Walker replacements at TE in Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser. Brown grew throughout his rookie season and became a serious big play threat. Even more so when Henry got into his stride. Brown managed to break the 1000yd reception plateau with 1,052 on 52 receptions, with many of them being more than 20yards. 8 TDs made him an invaluable asset and he was ably backed up by Davis and Humphries.

Dion Lewis was largely ineffective all year. With enough good passing options Lewis was left as more of a backup and a decoy while Derrick Henry ran the show. Henry never had more than 3 targets, so all his work was done on the ground, but after 9 weeks he had only had one game with over 100 rushing yards. Fantasy owners weren’t feeling to need to trade for him and even though the team was improving, nobody could foresee what was coming. In week 10 at home to Kansas City, Henry had 188 rushing yards on 23 attempts and his first multiple TD game of the season. Up to that point he’d had 644 yards and 6TDs in 9 games. This game was the turning point as the 35-32 win (mostly on Henrys back) was the start of a 4 game win streak in which Henry would amass 641 scrimmage yards and 7TDs and each of the 4 games would see him rush for over 100 yards. It was an incredible run which made them the form team going into their crunch divisional game against the Texans.  

Image Credit – Walker Kinsler, Wikimedia

The week 15 head to head was critical as it effectively decided whether then Texans would win the division or whether the Titans would overhaul them. With the Steelers currently in the wildcard spot, whoever lost would be in a scrap to make the post-season. The Texans were off form, totally the opposite to the Titans but DeShaun Watson and co secured a 24-21 win. the Titans were left scrapping with the Steelers for the final wildcard and a loss to the Saints (with Derrick Henry missing from the line-up) the following week proved not to be critical as the Steelers loss to the Jets gave Tennessee the jump on them based on strength of opponent. The Titans then had a simple “Win and in” game against the already playoff bound Texans. An easy 35-14 win against a below strength Houston sealed the deal. A 9-7 record and with the 2nd wildcard spot they’d go in as the 6th seeds in the AFC.


The Post-Season


If seeing the Patriots lose the Dolphins and fall into the Wildcard round (much to the benefit of the Chiefs) wasn’t surprising enough, then what happened at Gillette Stadium certainly was. Very few analysts gave the Titans a chance. They squeaked in on the last day as the final wildcard, have Ryan Tannehill as their QB and weren’t a top 5 defence. Meanwhile the Patriots have Brady and Edelman, a top 3 defence and Belichick in control. 

In the regular season Derrick Henry totalled 1,505 rushing yards on 303 attempts and a (tied) league leading 16TDs. In the post season, he looked unstoppable. He had 34 attempts for 182 yards and a TD against the Patriots, while the defence stifled an increasingly annoyed Patriots offence. Ryan Tannehill only completed 8 passed (from 15 attempts) for 72 yards and a TD but that was all he needed. Anthony Firkser caught the 12 yard pass in the first quarter before Henry took in in from the 1 yard line just before half time to see the Titans into a 14-13 lead. A stalemate second half was finally broken when Logan Ryan picked off Brady with 9 seconds left and took it to the house to cue wild celebrations nationwide.  

Image Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images

The upset against the Patriots was incredible and many anti-Patriot fans were quick to get behind them, but very few people would have said they had a chance against the top seed Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Once again, the Titans proved the world wrong. Derrick Henry again would star with 30 rushes for 195 yards at 6.5yrds per carry. He did get a TD, but it was neither rushing, nor receiving. A 3 yard loop ball to Corey Davis on a trick play was probably the moment where the game was won. The defence held, what some argue was the most potent offence in the NFL, to just 12 points while on offence Ryan Tannehill got them over the line without really doing much.

Tannehill only completed 7 passes, but 2 of those were touchdowns. First to Jonnu Smith to set the tone early and then followed up by Kalif Raymond as they took a 14-0 lead. 2 Field goals for the Ravens brought them back into it but the trick play from Derrick Henry to Corey Davis took the wind out of the Ravens. Only minutes later Tannehill was rushing the ball in himself and at 28-6 with less than 20 minutes to go, it was over. The Ravens would get one back through Hayden Hurst, but it was too little too late.

The AFC Championship game against the Chiefs wasn’t the matchup expected on most people’s brackets, but with the Titans on form and Patrick Mahomes being Patrick Mahomes, it was going to be fun to watch. A heavy run offence vs a heavy pass offence and in the end, despite the Titans taking 10-0 and 17-7 leads, the Chiefs did what they have done so often, and scored a succession of TD’s to swing the balance in their favour. A Greg Joseph field goal and a Derrick Henry 4 yard TD run gave the Titans a perfect start to the game. The response from Mahomes to Hill kept it tight but the 10 point lead was restored when lineman Dennis Kelly caught a pass from Tannehill when labelled as an eligible receiver. Another trick that worked a treat.

After that, it became the Patrick Mahomes show. 4 TD’s in 12 game minutes including a short pass to Hill, a dazzling run, a rush from Damien Williams and a 60 yarder to Sammy Watkins finished off the Titans. At 35-17 with 7:33 left on the clock it was a mountain to climb. Tannehill did get another TD to Firkser but with the team behind, he was being forced to throw more. He had 209 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs but with Derrick Henry limited to under 70 rushing yards the Chiefs got the job done and would go on to the Superbowl.


Conclusions


At no point in the season did anyone truly think the Titans would be in the AFC Championship game. They just kept surprising people and after years of not realising his potential, Derrick Henry has finally shown how elite he can be. No shadow from Demarco Murray, no split responsibilities with Dion Lewis and a QB that is capable of running and providing an alternative which keeps the opponents guessing.

It’s hard to say what they need to concentrate on in the off season since the only thing that stopped them was the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes. They had a good young secondary who are learning fast, a pass rush which maybe could use a fresher set of legs (but are still playing to a high level) and some good special teams’ players. On offence, if Henry stays healthy and the likes of Davis and Brown keep developing and the Smith/Firkser combo can evolve into the long term replacements for Delanie Walker then it’s hard to suggest what else they can do. The O-Line is great, and Ryan Tannehill has been a revelation. The big decision is whether the Titans see him as their future. Tannehill is a UFA this off season and it will depend on contracts and cap space whether he returns. I’d be very keen to keep him on as low level deal as he is willing to take if I was the GM. The foundations of something great are there. I’d like to see Tannehill to AJ Brown for another year.

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans
Image Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After the loss to the Chiefs Dean Pees announced his retirement (again) and so the team will need a new defensive co-ordinator next season. Their defence was a big reason why Derrick henry was able to be so dominant. There is still room for improvement as they gave up 20+ points on 8 occasions in the regular season and they need to figure out a way of stopping Mahomes, but the signs are positive and maybe a the new DC can tip them over than edge.

It will be interesting to see how they cope next season with the new weight of expectation and teams targeting Henry and Brown, but if you are a Titans fan then this has been a season to remember and you have some exciting times ahead. #TitanUp      

Full10Takeaways – Week 10

By Shaun Blundell, Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Week 10 saw shocks, drops and stops as the 49ers tasted their first defeat, the Saints got pummelled by the Falcons and the Browns won!

Here are 10 takeaways from week 10 in the NFL:


Baker Mayfield Feeling More at Home

Image Credit – John Kuntz / cleveland.com

A first home win of the season for Baker Mayfield emphasised his improved play over the past 3 weeks. Riddled with turnovers and poor decision making the 2nd year QB had tossed 11 interceptions and committed 3 fumbles in the opening half a dozen games of the season. Fast forward 3 weeks and games against good pass defences in New England, Denver and Buffalo and Mayfield has only added 1 takeaway to those numbers.

He looks more decisive in the pocket and his completion rate of 68.4% on Sunday was a season-high. He regularly looked for his top 2 targets in Jarvis Landry and OBJ whilst leaning on a stout run game. The entrance of Kareem Hunt into the offence gives the Browns a new dimension and with a favourable schedule on tap a winning streak is a realistic possibility.

The Browns #6 seed credentials will be key to any such possibilities.


Big Man Rumbling

Image Credit – Frederick Breedon / Getty Images

“Never judge a book by its cover”. The age old phrase that continually catches all of us out. Derrick Henry is a home run hitter! His scamper for 68 yards against the Chiefs on Sunday marked his 4th touchdown run of over 65 yards since 2017 which is the most by any player in the NFL over that span.

His almost customary plunge from 1 yard away was tacked onto his big day as he gashed the Chiefs woeful run defence to the tune of 23 carries for 188 yards with 2 touchdowns. Henry has often been used in a timeshare during his time in the league but Mike Vrabel appears to have figured out that he gets better with more usage.

The only player outside of a few Tannehill scramble to carry the ball on Sunday, Henry is on pace for 1300 yards plus on the campaign for a Titans team that are as unpredictable as the British weather.


Just Win Baby

Image Credit – AP Photo

“Knock on wood if you are with me”. Who would have thought that when Jon Gruden continuously barked those words throughout hard knocks that his Raiders team would be in with a realistic opportunity of competing for a division title?

Thursday night football was a huge victory in the division that put the Raiders right on the heels of the Chiefs. A performance that saw yet another Derek Carr 4th quarter comeback win moved the Raiders to 5-4. Josh Jacobs continues to look like the runaway winner of offensive rookie of the year, scoring the game winner in this one.

Winnable games upcoming against the Dolphins and Jets next on the schedule have the silver and black primed for a late season playoff run. Maybe, just maybe that bloke who used to commentate on Monday Night Football can actually still coach?


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You spin me right round baby right round like a record

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Image Credit: Frank Victores / AP

If you have seen a better spin move this season than the one made by Lamar Jackson on his TD run this weekend you will have either been at the World Yo-Yo championships or at some kind of ice skating Olympic qualifier.

In 2018 we were running out of superlatives to describe Patrick Mahomes, and this season the same is getting said about the Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, who is now getting MVP type chatter beyond his own appreciative teammates.

Yes this was the 0-9 Bungles L-Jax faced, but if you have not seen the move he made mid-run against Cincy then find it online and start to drool. Fantasy fans were left a little bit sore after the Ravens had such a ridiculous lead they let Lamar sit for the fourth quarter whilst former running QB phenom Robert Griffith III performed mop-up duties.

Talking of RG3 Coach Harbaugh’s decision to line up the former Baylor superstar as a running back in a split-backs formation was a treat, and then watching L-Jax pitch to him on an outside run was masterful. 


Falcons D rises from the ashes

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Image Credit: Rusty Costanza / AP

It’s supposed to be a Phoenix that rises from the ashes, but after NFL alignment some years ago there is no longer a team in that said city. Instead we have to make reference to another feathered friend that has arisen from the depths of despair.

The Atlanta Falcons beating the 7-1 New Orleans Saints was the biggest upset this season since Darnold and the Jets downed the Cowboys.The Falcons defense had 6 sacks including 2.5 from Grady Jarrett.

This by itself is not headline worthy, but considering the team had 7 sacks all season before this point showed that sticking a rocket in places rockets should not be placed sometimes works. The Saints offense was held without a touchdown and Alvin Kamara the so-called fantasy stud had 74 total yards, including just 24 on the ground.

We all know it’s too late for the Dirty Birds to resurrect their season, but sometimes wins like this can turn around fortunes in the long term. One question to quietly ask is ‘was it right to bring back Brees considering Teddy’s hot streak?’


Anti-tank missiles spotted in Miami

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Image Credit: Bobby Ellis / Getty

Maybe they are not red hot, but the Miami Dolphins are on the boil after securing their second consecutive win in a season that was supposed to be all about displaying ineptitude not grizzly bearded attitude.

Ryan Fitzmagic may not win another game in Miami but he will forever be remembered for bringing some respect to a franchise that has been written off more than a scrapyard full of old bangers. The contrast in styles between Lamar Jackson’s mesmerising TD run and Fitzmagic’s plough through the field for his score was like chalk and cheese, but both ended up in exactly the same result – six points and the extension of a lead.

Sympathies do go out to the team Miami beat in Week 10 as the Indianapolis Colts are akin to a M.A.S.H. unit, especially at WR, so this was a great time for the ‘Fins to paddle their way to a victory. Miami now have their sights set on at least a third win in Week 17 when they face Tom Brady and the Patriots. 


Steel-ing another W

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If you listened to the F10Y Week 10 look ahead podcast Lawrence predicted a Steelers win against a Los Angeles Rams team that is looking like a shrivelled balloon, the type you might find on the floor when sweeping up from say a Super Bowl party.

The Steelers are using gorilla glue, frog tape and any other legally sanctioned substance to patch together wins against half-decent opponents and despite the criticism Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph is hanging in there. It’s a little reminiscent of Big Ben Roethliberger’s rookie season when he led the team to a 15-1 record despite performances that were not exactly pretty.

The Steelers now boast a four-game win streak, and their first above .500 record of the season. With Cleveland twice, the Bungles and the Cardinals ahead we could be looking at a rather strong 9-4 Steelers team a long time before Rudolph the Kyle nosed reindeer takes to the skies. 


Vikings run and plunder a win

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Image Credit: Michael Ainsworth / AP

He can’t win in prime-time, he has a routine he can’t break, he crumbles under pressure. Three common perceptions of Vikings QB Kirk ‘you like that’ Cousins in big and important games. Three perceptions that were proven to be untrue on Sunday night as Minnesota came away from Jerry’s world having pillaged a big ol’ bag of booty including a big shiny W.

To be fair this was not a game dominated by clutch Cousins passes, as the Vikings ran, ran and ran some more, including one 10 play touchdown drive that was on the ground from start to finish.

The MVP conversation as usual is dominated by special quarterbacks and a dash of Run CMC, but at the pace he is going and the rate he is being fed the ball, don’t be surprised if Dalvin Cook makes a ’late run’ for the NFL’s most valuable player.

The Vikings remain one game behind the Packers in the NFC North, but things can change quickly. 


HEY mr wilson!

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Image Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks dealt the San Francisco 49ers teir first loss of the season. No surprise that current MVP favourite Russell Wilson was the main culprit for the defeat.

In what was a Monday Night Classic, the performance of Russell Wilson may have left the thoughts of “what if” for 49ers fans as Jimmy G on the other side was many classes below the Seahawks signal caller.

The 49ers and Jimmy G had a chance to seal it in overtime where perhaps a better thrown ball to Deebo Samuel on the sideline in stride would have seen a walk off touchdown. The ensuing drive saw Wilson take the Seahawks 40 yards in 81 seconds (no timeouts) to allow Jason Myers’ to score from a 42 yard field goal with 4 seconds left on the clock.

With Full10Yards favourite Tyler Lockett being taken to hospital, I’m sure Russell Wilson will be able to overcome any time that he may miss to add to the long list of adversities he’s been able to overcome in this offence.


Ryan tanne-hero

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It was billed as the second coming of Patrick Mahomes but it was the otehr Quarterback at Nissan Stadium that took the plaudits.

Ryan Tannehill completed his 3rd 4th quarter winning drive this season in just 4 games as the starter. That is only 1 behind the season leaders Josh Allen and Russell Wilson.

The drive, which started with 1:21 on the clock, ended just 58 seconds later with a 23 yard touchdown throw to big off season free agent WR signing Adam Humphries also included a 18 yard scramble on the first play

The decision to bench Marcus Mariota may be a game or two too late and could potentially cost the Titans a playoff berth this season, the redeeming factor though, is that they may not have to go searching for a QB in next year’s draft.

For Tannehill, frequently lambasted at his poor quarterback play, will rightly get the plaudits in this one though, which is an incredible feet considering the jumping Patrick Mahomes was clearly in the spotlight. Questions now turn to Adam Gase, who coached him in Miami, as to why he looked so average in a teal jersey.

Full10Lookaheads – Week 7

By Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Rams to the slaughter?


Image result for jalen ramsey
Image Credit: Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

I’m worried for the Rams. Behind in the NFC West, injuries piling up and an offensive scheme that seems to have been found out.

The activity and negotiating that has been conducted this week just adds to the worries;

First, they traded away Marcus Peters to the Ravens and then very shortly after, gave up 2 1st round picks and a 4th rounder for star CB Jalen Ramsey, who comes over from the Jags (I hope his back will be ok on the flight).

Considering there are a few needs on this team, it’s quite surprising that they’ve mortgaged their future for a CB. Fellow CB Aqib Talib is on IR and their options are awfully thin at the position, but there are glaring needs at offensive line and linebacker, which now will not be replenished high in the next 2 years NFL drafts.

Add to that, their top 5 paid players now account for $108m of the salary cap, even free agency signings will be hard to come by.

There is a lot of talent on this Rams team, but I am a firm believer in that you should always build from the inside out. Sort the lines out first and then everything follows. The Rams have taken a massive gamble, I’m not sure it’ll pay off.

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NFC East on Primetime


Big game in prime time between the nose diving Cowboys and the Eagles.

With both teams 3-3, the winner takes a big step to a division title and the loser seriously having the prospect of no January football. Plenty of positives and negatives to talk through with both teams, plenty of injuries both side of the ball and plenty of questions being asked of these teams right now.

Can Dallas’ offensive line hold up against a decent Eagles pass rush or can Dak and his weapons exploit the gaping holes in the Eagles secondary? Will the Dallas defence be able to get some pressure and pin down escape artist Carson Wentz and will Doug Pederson outsmart Jason Garrett? Whilst the answer to the last question is a bit easier than the others, it should be a great game on Sunday Night Football.


AFC Wildcard eliminator in Nashville


Not a game that will be watched by many people outside their respective fanbases (do the Chargers have one?), but the game between Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans could be a loser goes home in terms of playoff aspirations.

Both teams are 2-4, struggling to get any offence going and are not impressing anyone in the league. With the loser going to drop to 2-5, you have to assume that  the losing team does not have any way back from the defeat to play football in January.

Even if they do find their way back, they could be ousted by the head to head tie breaker. All to play for in this one in Nashville.


Mario-nah


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Image Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Talking of the above game, Ryan Tannehill has been named the starter for Tennessee.

Whether or not this was to try something different and try something to invigorate the team to get that win we don’t know for sure. It can be argued (and some people do) that Tannehill is an improvement on Mariota and this was a long time coming.

Tannehill was serviceable enough in Miami under center through his 6 year career there (when healthy) despite having only 1 winning season and an overall losing record. When playing full seasons, he hits around the 4000 passing yard mark with 25ish TDs and 12INTs.

Comparing that to Mariota, Tennessee fans shouldn’t be too disillusioned with the fact that it is infact, potentially an upgrade on what they’ve had since he was selected at no.2 overall in 2015.


Quinn-tessential to get a few wins


Dan Quinn needs a win…and fast.

Problem is their next 4 fixtures don’t give me any enthusiasm that they’ll find one.

Home games vs the Ramsey Rams (Julio not loving that!) and the Seahawks before their bye are not teams you want visiting to try and get that all important win. If Atlanta get embarrassed to the same tunes that are currently bellowing from the record player, Dan Quinn wont even make it to the Saints game in week 10.

On defence, they’ve conceded the 2nd most points, 7th worst in yardage given up, worst on 3rd down conversion % allowed along with a bottom 3 in turnovers created. Yes, they’ve had injuries of similar ilk to last season but unfortunately, that’s only going to get you excused for a period of time.

With Quinn being a defensive minded HC, the writing is on the wall for him.


K.C. and the not very sun-shining backfield 


Four weeks in and we were all drooling over the Kansas City Chiefs and their MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Everything Mahomes was passing to was turning into on-field gold. This was an offense buzzing through the NFL like a lumberjack’s chainsaw.

Two weeks later and two losses later the Chiefs are looking mortal, and the chainsaw is now a handsaw that is looking a little bit rusty. Mahomes is looking out of sorts but he is being hindered by a running game that is blunt. Zero hundred yard rushing performances and some shocking lead performances.

Three out of six games has seen the Chiefs leading rusher go under 50 yards, and since Week 1 the top output has been 62 yards by Darrel Williams. Kansas City will be trying desperately to get some traction with the ground game tonight against the Denver Broncos. LeSean McCoy has a healthy 5.4 yard per carry average which may surprise some, but the hottest RB in last season’s playoffs Damien Williams has been a non-factor so far in four games, with a longest run of just 6 yards on 32 carries.

If the Chiefs want to get back on track offensively they need to get back to basics and get control of the time of possession. A loss to the surging Broncos will be a big blow to those ambitions to do one better than last season and reach the Super Bowl.


Pats perfect possibility? 


The dominance of the New England Patriots has going on for that long that it no longer registers as anything remarkable. 6-0 is not seen as anything special, it is expected, it’s normal.

Thing is it’s not normal it’s a feat, it’s an achievement and it is certainly worth talking about. Tom Brady is for once not hogging the headlines as the Patriots defense is dominating the coverage in the papers and dominating the coverage on the field. The defense is producing stats that are mind-boggling. Allowing 8 points a game, 234.7 yards, 161 in the air and 73.7 on the ground. They travel to the Big Apple on Monday night to face a Jets team with one win, albeit one they achieved in the last week.

This does not look like the hardest task for the Patriots, who will be looking to go 16-0 in the regular season before repeating as Super bowl champions. Weeks 9 and 11 – travelling to Baltimore and Philadelphia will be a clearer indication if this is another fine vintage or not.

One little crumb of comfort and one thing that must cause Bill Belichick to lose 5 minutes from his probable 3 hour daily sleep routine was that Frank Gore and his 36 year old legs ran for over 100 yards for the Bills in their Week 4 loss to the Pats. In other words feed LeVeon Bell the ball early and often. 

Where Do They Go From Here; Titans

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Tennessee Titans.

Don’t forget to check out the AFC South podcast where we talked to Adam Foxcroft from the Long Snappers Pod and get their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

Last season has to go down as a disappointment considering a new OC in Matt LeFleur was brought in to steer the ship with Mike Vrabel to a new exciting offence, separate from the “exotic smash-mouth” stuff that was rammed down our throats. That said, another winning record and the third straight season of 9 wins (which was good enough for a playoff birth in 2017). The signing of Dion Lewis probably didn’t work out how Tennessee wanted it to and neither did the progression of Marcus Mariota. Mr Wet Wet Wet as we call him on the podcast, had multiple injuries lingering throughout the season, leading to Blaine Gabbert getting some playing time.

It’s fair to say that the defence carried the Titans this season in most games and have the rare accolade of being a team to post a shut out (vs Giants) but also be shut out too (vs Ravens). 3rd best in terms of defensive points allowed and 6th worst in terms of points scored tells it’s own story about the Titans season (shoutout to Kevin Byard for the 66yard special teams trick play touchdown!).

Housekeeping

At the time of the article, the Titans have a healthy $23m in cap space and own the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 Draft (coupled with pick 51 in round 2 and pick 83 in the 3rd).

Outgoings

Some of the time I wonder if Titans HQ is like the film get out where once you’re in, you can’t escape (suitable film title when you think about it).

That’s the short way of putting that nothing is troubling the exit door.

Incomings

The saviour is here! Ryan Tannehill is going to fix all of the problems at QB.

No, but seriously, Tannehill as a backup is not bad insurance for when Mariota struggle with injury again this season. May actually be a smart move if they wish to dump Mariota who is on his final leg of his Rookie contract.

A few signings on both sides of the ball include slot receiver Adam Humphries coming over from Tampa who apparently preferred them to New England despite them offering more money. Rodger Saffold agreed to a 4year, $44m deal to help with the offensive line, one of the best graded units coming in to the 2018 season.

Cameron Wake joins on the defensive side of the ball from Miami with a 3yr $23m deal and a player they’ve managed to keep in free agency saw Kenny Vaccaro re-sign too to the tune of 4yrs $26m (also want to shout out that they have a player called Dee Liner on the defensive line, I kid you not).

Outlook for Next Year

This year hinges all on Marcus Mariota.

Yes he has another new OC to listen to, but this year it’s Arthur Smith. He has already been at the Titans previously as the Tight End’s coach so hopefully the transition will not be as painful as Mariota’s arm injuries suffered in 2018. It’s going to be interesting to hear the vibes coming out of camp about him because whilst he could easily be extended in terms of contract, it’s not too farfetched to imagine a world where Mariota is a free agent in 2020.

The defence is here to stay and should be the main reason why Titans win the games they do in 2019, I am not sure the offence will be able to put them in a position to eke out 1 or 2 more wins that would put them in serious consideration for a division title.

That said, don;’t be surprised if the Titans tinker with the prospect of drafting a WR or even a Tight End to go along with Davis and Humphries to try and ensure opposing defences respect balance on their offence.

Prediction

As said above, whilst the Titans D will put them in consideration as a wildcard team, I’m not sure the offence is going to hold up their end of the bargain.

Henry is in a contract year so it will be interesting to see how much they use him (haven’t we been here before?) and whether they can finally get some consistency going on offence in terms of production and stability at the HC position. Arthur Smith shouldn’t have too many problems implementing what he wants and knows the personnel well so bedding in period shouldn’t cause too much concern for Titans fans.

Surely we couldn’t have another 9-7 season could we?

I reckon we will.

Fantasy Football

Marcus Mariota – No, thank you.

Derrick Henry – RB2 ceiling – 4th rnd pick

Dion Lewis – RB3 – 6th rnd pick

Corey Davis – WR 3 – 5th rnd pick *Potential BUST alert*

Adam Humphries – WR 3 – 7th rnd pick

Delanie Walker – TE1 (aren’t they all!?) – double digit rounds

 

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.