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Defending the Draft: New England Patriots

Preface
Going into the 2019 season, the Patriots held very high expectations. The defense that had just shut down the high-powered 2018 Rams offense had arguably gotten better. Although the offense had lost Rob Gronkowski, the addition of first-round WR N’Keal Harry and free agent Demaryius Thomas seemed to at least keep their offensive options. Combining this with Sony Michel coming off a successful rookie campaign and 4 of 5 starters of a strong offensive line, with Trent Brown being replaced by 2018 1st round selection Isaiah Wynn, the offensive situation looked optimistic for New England.
As the team progressed through the 2019 preseason and into the season itself, things began to look even better. Although N’Keal Harry injured himself in the first preseason game, the team was eventually informed that Josh Gordon would be reinstated, even being allowed to start Week 1. The defense showed its prowess throughout the preseason, especially against the Lions and Panthers, with the only bad game coming against the Giants, when the Patriots mainly played people at the bottom of the depth chart. To add to New England fans’ excitement, they saw their team sign WR Antonio Brown the night before the team’s debut against the Steelers. As New England embarrassed Brown’s former team 33-3, and then the Dolphins 43-0 it seemed almost inevitable that New England would become the first franchise to win 7 Super Bowls.
However, that was not how the season progressed. Brown couldn’t handle himself even under Belichick’s control, and his decision to threaten the children of one of his accusers of sexual assault found him released from the team. Josh Gordon was injured Week 6 against the Giants, eventually being medically released and later found to have relapsed when he was on the Seahawks. The rest of the offense was riddled with injuries: Julian Edelman had nagging rib injuries, Philip Dorsett hurt his foot early in the year and also sustained a concussion, Mohammed Sanu sustained an ankle injury in his first game, early kick/punt returner Gunner Olsewski was injured in Week 7, Brady himself reportedly struggled with his elbow. The worst effects of injury came against the Offensive Line, as 4 out of the 5 starters sustained some injury, and this is not including the fact that C David Andrews missed the whole season because of pulmonary embolism. The most impactful injury out of this bunch was LT Isaiah Wynn, as the team had to deploy Marshall Newhouse to replace him, a role that Newhouse did not fill adequately, to say the least. Blocking also suffered when FB James Devlin suffered a season ending injury, followed by his backup Jakob Johnson also being put on IR only a few games later. Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson both missed multiple games, forcing the team to only roll with Ryan Izzo at tight end at some times.
These many injuries, as well as a terrible TE corps, not only stunted the passing attack but also crippled the running game. Michel was often met and tackled in the backfield, resulting in a terrible YPC despite being the AFC East’s leading rusher. Despite these offense struggles, the team’s excellent defense performance, in combination with facing many subpar offenses, carried the team to a 12-4 record and the 3rd seed in the AFC. However, the offensive struggles were too great for the team; although the team’s defense held the red-hot Titans offense to 14 points and gave the offense multiple chances to pull ahead, the offense failed to perform when needed, unable to finish drives, even when on Tennessee’s 1-yard line. Sometimes you really do need an offense to win a championship.
Pre-draft
Notable Losses
QB Tom Brady, FA, Buccaneers: The one loss that seemed unthinkable until it really happened. Even though we knew that Brady’s contract voided after this year, many fans thought he was still going to re-sign and finish his career here. However, New England really did not have the cap space to do so and build a satisfactory team around him, causing Brady to decide to sign with the Buccaneers, a team with high offensive potential and has a shot at the super bowl. The Greatest QB of All Time will be missed here in New England, as the team experiences uncertainty at the position for the first time in nearly 20 years.
FB James Devlin, Retirement: When it was announced that it was a neck injury that sidelined Devlin for the rest of the season, his future with the team was in doubt. Once the team signed free agent Dan Vitale, it was almost certain that Devlin would announce his retirement sooner or later. James Devlin was an underrated part of the Pats’ success in the 2010s, where he proved to be a reliable lead blocker, bolstering the effectiveness of New England’s run game. His absence for most of 2019 was palpable as the team consistently struggled establishing a run game, and the Patriots have a tall task of finding an effective replacement for him.
K Stephen Gostkowski, Released: Gostkowski’s departure represented another long-time Patriot staple leaving the team, although the Patriots had started to live without him as his season ended very early due to an injury that required surgery. The Patriots missed Gostkowski’s leg last year, as the team could not reliably score field goals longer than 40 yards, causing the offense to attempt 4th down conversions deep into enemy territory.
LB Kyle Van Noy, FA, Dolphins: One of Belichick’s greatest successes in terms of correctly utilizing players that were previously viewed as ‘busts’ because their coaches could not use them correctly. Van Noy was acquired from the Lions for a measly swap of 6th and 7th picks midway through the 2016 season. Throughout his tenure with the Patriots, especially within the last two seasons, Van Noy became a staple piece in the team’s LB corps with his versatility and great fundamentals. Van Noy now joins his former LB coach Brian Flores in Miami, who will likely maximize Van Noy’s potential.
LB Elendon Roberts, FA, Miami: Elandon Roberts joined his teammate Van Noy in joining Miami to be coached under Brian Flores. Roberts was promoted to captain for his final season in New England, and primarily played most of his defensive snaps as a run-defending thumping linebacker. Roberts also filled in as an emergency FB when both Devlin and Johnson were injured, and played decently well for a third-string FB, I guess. Roberts represents another role that the Patriots had to fill through free agency and the draft.
LB Jamie Collins, FA, Lions: The Patriots added a familiar face in the athletic freak Jamie Collins heading into the 2019 season. Collins’ athleticism allowed him to flash in the early parts of the 2019 season, when he obtained a pick-six at Miami and almost blocked a Bills field goal attempt by broad jumping over the Bills’ line. Like Van Noy, Collins heads to a former Patriots defensive coach in Matt Patricia in Detroit. Unlike the Dolphins, the Lions front office did not watch the second half of the 2019 season, where Collins tended to lose discipline and become a liability in the defense, showing off some of his former issues. I highly doubt Lions fans will think Collins is worth his $10 million APY contract
DT Danny Shelton, FA, Lions: Patriots North scoops up another Patriots player, what a surprise. Going into the 2019 preseason, Shelton seemed like he might be on the outside looking in for the Patriots roster. It looked like other tackles such as Mike Pennel had the ability to replace Shelton. However, Shelton impressed and was able to earn his spot on the team. The nose tackle’s primary role throughout the season was to be a run defender, a role he played quite well. Shelton will help add some strength to a Lions defensive front that played badly last year.
DB Duron Harmon, Traded, Lions: Duron Harmon was a long-time player at the safety position, filling in the role of the third safety while working alongside McCourty and Chung. He earned the nickname of “the closer” due to his performances at the end of matches where he would end the game through obtaining an interception. The Patriots quickly found their replacement for Harmon, most notably adding DB/ST Adrian Phillips, so there really isn’t much worry for him leaving the team.
OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia, Retirement: Arguably the greatest loss that the Patriots suffered outside of Tom Brady, the OL guru has again decided to retire. Scarnecchia is responsible for the Patriots having great offensive lines throughout his tenure and is a sometimes underrated aspect of their wild success. Unlike Scar’s previous retirement in 2014 where he was replaced by Dave DeGuglielmo, both Cole Popovich and Carmen Briscillo have experience being an understudy of Scarnecchia, which will likely help to soften the blow of his retirement. There were also rumors that Scar was still advising New England on scouting the OL position for the draft, so perhaps you can never keep this man away from this team.
Additions, Extensions, Retentions,
C David Andrews, Returning from IR: Although this technically does not fit this category, Andrews deserves to be mentioned. Even though Ted Karras played decently as he was thrust into the starting role, the Patriots felt Andrews absence, especially in the run game. Losing Andrews also likely contributed to the rest of the IOL (especially Mason, who played a lot of the season with a foot injury) not performing as well as they could have. Andrews' return will improve Jarrett Stidham’s performance, both through his protection as well as increasing the effectiveness of the Patriots’ rushing attack.
OG Joe Thuney, Franchise Tag: Bringing back Thuney was a wise move for the Patriots. The star left guard will be instrumental to protecting young quarterback Jarrett Stidham as well as ensuring the run game operates smoothly. Although some consider IOL to be a low-value position, Thuney will help the team acclimate to the other changes that happened around the offense. Having a solid line is an important element of building a good offense, and Thuney will ensure that the left guard position will work reliably.
DBs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung: With Brady leaving, the Patriots found it valuable to keep long-time veterans around the team to maintain their team morale and culture while acclimating to the personnel change. McCourty has been a captain and locker room leader of the Patriots for quite some time and will be an important leader as the team adjusts to 2020. Both McCourty and Chung will feature in what should be a very strong secondary unit throughout the 2020 season.
DB/ST Adrian Phillips, FA: Boy do the Patriots love versatility special teamers! Phillips has played well as a special teamer and also played in many positions in the Chargers secondary, and will bring his veteran experience to the Patriots secondary. He will likely play in the rotation of safeties with Chung and McCourty, filling in a similar role to Harmon, who was traded the day before Phillips was signed.
DT Beau Allen, FA: The former Buccaneers DT will likely fill in as a replacement for Danny Shelton, who left the team to play for Detroit. Allen projects to play as a run-stuffing nose tackle that will ensure the Patriots can control the run.
FB Danny Vitale, FA: Vitale is an interesting signing. While he is listed as a fullback, he probably will not be a straight replacement for the retired James Devlin. Devlin primarily filled in as a lead blocker and sometimes as a rusher, but very rarely was used as a downfield threat. Vitale has some decent athleticism and pass-catching experience that the Patriots will likely utilize. His versatility may mean the Patriots move him around a lot instead of just using him as a lead blocker, though he has decent experience at that position as well.
LB Brandon Copeland, FA: Copeland was a signing the Patriots made to help account for the losses they had in free agency. The veteran LB recently played for the division rival Jets, where he primarily performed off the ball under Gregg Williams. Copeland brings some versatility and leadership as he has had to adapt from playing from the defensive line to off the ball.
WRs Marqise Lee and Dameire Byrd, FA: Byrd’s main attribute is straight-line speed, though he really has never been able to convert it into a high amount of production, in part due to injuries. Perhaps it’s because Dorsett was on this team for three straight years, but I am not going to bet on Byrd producing just because he has speed. Lee is much more interesting, as he was able to produce solidly during 2016-17. However, Lee has not performed nearly at all in the last two years because of injuries. If Lee can return to his pre-injury form, (though not very likely), he could carve out a pretty decent role on this New England roster.
The Draft:
2.37 Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Rhyne:
It wasn’t a surprise to many Patriots fans that the team elected to trade out of their first round pick, though some that held up hope the Patriots would make a selection might have been disappointed. Many fans wondered where the team would go with their first pick, and when it was announced that the team chose a DB from a division II school, people were initially exasperated.
Belichick’s record with 2nd round defensive backs is quite well known such that it has become a meme within the fanbase and around the NFL. His main success with the position in the second round was with Patrick Chung, and even he wasn’t very successful until his second stint. Obviously, we can’t declare a player a success or failure just because of prior trends or draft position and instead should look at the player himself if we are to make a judgement upon him.
Coming out of high school, Dugger only received offers from DII schools because he was very undersized. As he eventually grew into his frame in Lenoir-Rhyne, he elected to commit to the school that recruited him. Dugger is a hard-hitting player who most likely will transition to playing in the box as a safety for the Patriots, likely eventually taking over for aging veteran Patrick Chung.
What separates Dugger from many other defensive backs the Patriots have selected over the recent years is his athleticism. Dugger running a 4.49s 40, jumping 42 inches in the vertical jump and 134 in the broad jump while being 6’1” and 217 pounds presents a mixture of speed, size, and athleticism that is rare for a safety. The main aspect of his game that the Patriots need to work on is his transition to playing against NFL-level competition. Generally, the jump from a DI school to the NFL is quite large, the difference from DII to the NFL is even larger. It will likely take a year or two for Dugger to be ready to be a significant contributor on the defense as he adjusts to his new system. Adapting to these circumstances, the Patriots have ensured that Dugger will not have a lot of pressure to perform on defense early on through extending Chung and signing Phillips. Interestingly, Dugger’s coaching throughout his years at Lenoir-Rhyne has been inconsistent, he had to play under three different coordinators during his four years at the school. Hopefully with some great coaching and system stability with Bill and Steve Belichick Dugger can carve out his role as a future player in the secondary.
Perhaps to the disappointment of some Patriots fans, Dugger’s contributions early in his career will most likely be on special teams. Dugger had experience being a returner in college, and I would not be surprised if that becomes his primary role early on in his tenure. Dugger’s athletic ability gives him the potential to become a future star on the team if he can adapt to the NFL. Only time will tell whether he works out or becomes another player too add to the list of failed second round picks.
2.60 Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan:
Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio remarked that prior to day two, the Patriots had three players they had a priority on acquiring: Dugger was one of them, and Uche was the other that the Patriots were able to draft with their selections.
Like Dugger, Uche is an explosive athlete with great speed as well as motor. Due to enduring an injury in the senior bowl, he was unable to participate in the combine. However, his athleticism shows up on film. Uche is a very versatile player, being able to play both on the line as well as off the ball and his efforts got him named the most versatile player by PFF in their 2020 draft guide. Michigan DC Don Brown said that he put Uche in nearly every position on the defense. I am sure Belichick was quite happy when he saw the 245 pound linebacker in coverage downfield against Penn State WR KJ Hamler. Amongst his versatility, his pass rush ability is what truly stands out. His 23.2% pressure rate and 28.2% pass rush win rate were second in both categories in the FBS. Uche achieved these great statistics through his incredible getoff off the line as well as good hand placement combined with his fantastic athleticism. Don Brown stated that Uche’s primary motivation was to become the best pass rusher in the country, and the dedication and work that Uche put in to be amongst the best in the country showed throughout the 2019 season. The primary aspect of Uche’s game that he needs to solidify in order to increase his role on the Patriots is increasing consistency with run defense.
Uche marked the first of five consecutive selections the Patriots made that addressed pressing needs. Considering the amount of LB talent that left over the offseason, it is possible that Uche will see a decent amount of playing time on the defense, perhaps in a similar role to former Wolverine Chase Winovich, whom Uche now rejoins in New England. I see Uche likely being the second-most impactful rookie to play for the Patriots this season, helping to strengthen the team’s pass rush, resulting in a more effective pass defense overall.
3.87 Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama:
Jennings’ selection serves as a nice complement to Uche’s. While Uche is this very athletic and undersized linebacker, Jennings better fits into the traditional, big, physical type of linebacker. Coming from Alabama, Jennings offers great fundamentals and football IQ that come from developing under Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. While he may not be the most athletic or flashy player, Jennings will likely cement his role in the Patriots defense as a solid and reliable player, especially against the run. Jennings registered great production during his time at Alabama, leading edge defenders in FBS for run-stop rate at 12.6%. The Alabama product has often been compared to former Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy due to his ability to be a versatile piece across the line.
Jennings is a very persevering player as well. In 2018 he suffered a worrying knee injury. Fortunately, the injury did not prevent him from returning to the field, but Jenninngs had to put in a lot of effort in order to return to his previous form. Saban also complimented Jennings’s dedication to improving himself in practice sessions. Jennings likely projects as an edge defender who will play very well against the run while also sometimes dropping into coverage. Jennings will likely see a fair amount of action as a rookie, especially on rushing downs. While he may not have a high ceiling, Jennings will likely be an anchor of the Pats’ defense as he progresses through his contract.
3.91 Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA:
On the offense, New England desperately needed to do something with their TE situation. Matt Lacosse may be a replacement level backup, but Ryan Izzo is not an NFL-caliber player. With very little cap space to address the position in free agency, the Patriots looked to the draft to fill their TE position. By selecting Asiasi in the third round, it is the first time the Patriots have spent a day two or higher pick on a tight end since 2010, when they selected Gronkowski.
Asiasi will likely become the Patriots number 1 option at the position. When looking at Bill Belichick’s 1991 scouting notes shared by Daniel Jeremiah, NBC analyst Phil Perry noted that Asiasi seems to fit the bill for the number one role. Devin Asiasi displayed great catching ability throughout his year starting at UCLA, only having one drop throughout the entire year. Asiasi also demonstrated great ability to run after the catch, averaging 5.6 yards in this category. Another ability that Asiasi brings as a TE that the Patriots sorely missed in 2019 is blocking. Even if Asiasi won’t perform as a great blocker (which is best reserved for #2 or #3 TEs anyway), it will most likely be better than the awfulness that was Patriot tight end blocking last year.
Asiasi was suspended for three games in the 2018 season for undisclosed reasons by Chip Kelly. However, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are on good terms with UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, meaning that they were able to confer with Kelly and confirm that Asiasi would be a good fit with the team and his suspensions were nothing to.worry about. Asiasi also possesses high football intelligence, being able to run complex concepts such as option routes in Kelly’s TE heavy offense. Even though Asiasi is undersized for what people normally think of a #1 TE , only being 6’3” and 257 lbs., his athletic ability and smooth movement should translate well into the NFL. Although Asiasi will likely be the starting Y-Tight End for the Patriots offense, I would not bet on him to break the trend of rookie TEs having low production, though Asiasi will definitely contribute in blocking.
3.101 Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech:
The Patriots also repeated something that they did 10 years ago, which was taking two tight ends in the draft. Dalton Keene is an interesting prospect to project for the Patriots. His playstyle resembles that of an F or move tight end. Even Belichick admitted after drafting Keene that they would have work to do in terms of finding him a role on this team, since the role that Keene played in the Virginia Tech offense is nothing like anything the Patriots run in their offense.
If Keene seems to be such a confusing fit for the Patriots, then what made the team trade back up into the third round in order to select him. The most defining feature that Keene exhibits through his play is toughness. He is a very dedicated and ruthless player, oftentimes toughing it out through injury and not playing with high regard to his health while on the field. The aggressiveness that Keene displayed both during practice and games caused his teammates to give him the nickname of “Rambo”. Keene’s offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen called him the toughest player he has ever seen. Keene has never produced that much in the receiving game, only racking up 341 yards in his most productive receiving season. Perhaps given his athletic talent it suggests that Virginia Tech underutilized his ability in the passing game, instead placing more focus upon his ability in the run game instead. Keene will be a versatile player and likely fill multiple roles as the Patriots’ second tight end, primarily being used as that F tight end, move tight end, or perhaps H-back. He may in fact share similar duties to FB Danny Vitale. I would be more than happy if Keene and Asiasi can combine for about 600-700 receiving yards and a few touchdowns in their rookie year.
5.159 Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall:
Another need that the Patriots needed to fill during the draft or free agency was the kicker position. Many people expected the Patriots to take someone like Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass, or Chase Vinatieri from South Dakota. When the Patriots selected Rohrwasser, a kicker who was so unknown that he didn’t even have a profile on the NFL’s website many people were confused.
What caused the Patriots to select this unknown kicker from Marshall. Rohrwasser displayed great performance throughout the 2019 season, having a statistically better season compared to the other higher profile kickers in the draft. Rohrwasser made 18 of 21 field goals and 35 of 36 XPs. He was perfect on kicks greater than 50 yards out, even hitting a clutch field goal from 53 yards against Western Kentucky after being iced twice. Belichickj stated that the Patriots have watched over 250 kicks and were impressed by his ability to kick in clutch situations as well as poor conditions, something Rohrwasser will have to do often in the AFC East. It is unclear whether Rohrwasser will relieve punter Jake Bailey of his kickoff duties (thought I think it’s more likely than not). If there is any position I trust Bill to evaluate, it’ s the placekicker. Rohrwasser will likely be the most impactful rookie on the patriots, mainly because he is the only surefire starter out of all of them. If Rohrwasser succeeds, the Patriots will be able to not go for fourth downs deep in enemy territory again and have a good kicker on a cheap rookie deal.
6.182 Michael Onwenu, OG, Michigan:
After addressing many immediate needs, the Patriots decided to take some shots at reserve linemen. Considering what happened in 2019, it is smart for the Patriots to add some young talent to the Offensive Line in order to account for things not going according to plan.
The first thing that strikes people when they look at Onwenu is his size. This man is HUGE, especially for an interior lineman. Coming in at 6’3”, around 350 lbs (he actually weighed closer to 370 during the season at college), Onwenu is a very physically imposing presence. He is very good at doing his job of not letting defenders get by him. During his past two years at Michigan, Onwenu played 1198 snaps, Onwenu only allowed 13 pressures and 2 sacks. He plays with great power and if he is able to get his hands on the defender, then it is over. Onwenu also possesses decent movement ability for his size; he will be able to perhaps do downfield blocking a bit better than people expect him to. Also, according to Michigan’s OL coach Ed Warriner, Onenwu really doesn’t have the ability to go much lower than 345 lbs.
Onenwu will start out on the team as a backup in the iOL, though more likely in his natural position of RG. Onenwu is quite different compared to New England’s other iOLs, he is 50 pounds heavier than the rest of our starting interiors. It will be interesting to see how Onwenu is able to execute the Patriots’ offensive scheme considering how physically different he is compared to Thuney, Andrews, and Mason. Either way, Onenwu will be a reliable depth piece that can protect Stidham if any of the starters go down.
6.195 Justin Herron, OG/OT, Wake Forest:
The second lineman that the Patriots invested draft capital in was Justin Herron. Herron started 51 games for Wake Forest, exclusively at the LT position. Herron’s experience at the position will likely slot him in as the primary backup to Isaiah Wynn, who has spent a lot of time of his career injured. Herron did suffer an ACL tear in the first week of the 2018 season, but rebounded quite well in 2019. Herron, like Onwenu, is a great pass-blocker. In 2017, the season prior to tearing his ACL, Herron allowed zero sacks. In 2019, when he recovered from his ACL injury, he only allowed four sacks and 13 pressures.
Some analysts raise questions about Herron playing tackle at the next level, instead projecting him as a guard. Interestingly, analysts made similar remarks about now-starting LT Isaiah Wynn. Considering that he only played left tackle during his time in college, I think the Patriots evaluated him and will use him as a tackle. If New England wanted an interior lineman, they likely would have selected someone else. Another concern that some have about Herron is his athleticism, which showed up at the combine, especially in his 8.41s three-cone drill. Scarnecchia often said the Patriots don’t care too much about athleticism in the OL, saying that they only needed to be athletic-enough. If the Patriots were that concerned about his athletic ability, he likely wouldn’t have been selected. Even so, it’s a great idea to grab a tackle who played solidly in college and will spend most of his rookie deal as a reserve player. This pick will be a success if Herron makes the team and can competently back up Wynn if he finds himself injured again.
6.204 Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming:
In the midst of the Patriots grabbing multiple offensive lineman, the Patriots selected another linebacker to increase their depth. During the 2019 season, Maluia went relatively under the radar due to his fellow linebacker and 65th overall pick Logan Wilson. However, those who studied Wilson likely saw Maluia pop out on a few occasions and make great plays. Maluia is an athletic and undersized linebacker, weighing in at only 231 lbs. His athleticism showed up both on tape and on the field, where Maluia displayed versatility across the field being able to both be a thumper as well as a decent coverage player. Maluia’s biggest concern is probably his tackling form, as his aggressiveness caused him to miss a fair amount of times. If Maluia makes the 53 man, he will likely contribute mostly as a special teams player, though his athletic ability might allow him to play a few snaps at defense.
7.230 David Woodard, C, Memphis:
With their final selection in the 2020 NFL draft, the Patriots threw a dart at another reserve lineman. Woodard played all across his the iOL throughout his college career, displaying the versatility that is desired in a backup lineman. Woodard does not have athletic testing available, though some analysts expressed concern about his athletic ability and his size, as Woodard only weighs 291 lbs. As detailed earlier, the Patriots generally concern themself more with technique than pure size and athleticism, and Woodard displays great technique. He graded out as the best run-blocking and second best pass-blocking center in 2019 through PFFs metrics. The Patriots will likely have to still improve Woodard’s technique to make him a future part of the team. Woodard projects as a reserve interior guy, particularly backing up C David Andrews if he makes the team.
UDFAs
Considering that a UDFA has made the New England roster for 16 straight years, I think it is appropriate to talk about some of the more interesting prospects in short. These are not all of the FAs the Patriots signed but some that I think are the most interesting and have the greatest chance to make the team.
For the QB position, the Patriots signed Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith. Lewerke initially showed promise but a shoulder injury he suffered in 2018 really derailed his career. Smith is more interesting, as he displayed his athleticism throughout his career, as well as possessing great arm strength and ability to make flash off-platform throws. He was suspended for a game, but in his 11 starts he went 10-1 and won C-USA offensive player of the year. Neither QB really poses much threat to Stidham, but if one of them shows promise (especially Smith, who reportedly had a few offers from other teams), don’t be surprised if Belichick makes space for them on the 53 man roster.
For the WR position, which many people were surprised the Patriots did not take a shot at in the draft, the most interesting players are Auburn WR Will Hastings and Miami WR Jeff Thomas. Hastings was Stidham’s former slot receiver in college, racking up 26 receptions and 525 yards with the QB in 2017. Hastings tore his ACL prior to 2018, and Stidham missed his reliable option during the season. Hastings ran a 4.49s 40 and a blistering 6.64s 3-cone during his pro-day. Hasting’s connection with Stidham may allow for him to sneak onto the team. Thomas, on the other hand, mostly specialized as a deep threat for the Hurricanes. Even though he is undersized at 5’9 and 170 lbs, many scouts said he displayed draftable talent throughout his career. The aspect of Thomas that was more influential in making him a UDFA is his character concerns. Thomas has had an issue with nearly every coaching staff that he has interacted with, and got kicked off the 2018 team for attitude issues. If Thomas can pull himself together and realize that there are no more chances, he could transform into a future weapon for the Patriots.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor is another interesting pickup for the Patriots. He is very short, coming in at only 5’5” tall (never in my life did I think I would be taller than a Pats player), but still manages to pack 185 lbs. Despite his size, Taylor is quite talented, displaying some decent shiftiness as well as the ability to bounce through contact. Perhaps because of his size and elusive playstyle, he has drawn comparisons to former Patriots RB Dion Lewis. If Taylor can show enough ability throughout the offseason, he might be able to get the Patriots to replace a RB, primarily Rex Burkhead, who many Pats fans theorize the team will cut for a few years now.
Ohio State TE Rashod Berry is another interesting player the Patriots picked up. He reportedly may change his position to OLB. Berry had some experience playing defense for Ohio State early in his career, though he did some snaps along the defense for a few games in his senior year. Many Ohio State fans say that Berry is a very athletic player who was underutilized by the Ohio State system. Wherever he plays, it will be interesting to see how his skill translates to the next level.
On the defensive side of the ball the Patriots were able to sign Auburn EDGE Nick Coe after negotiations between him and the Bills fell through. Coe was one of the top ranked free agents after the draft talent-wise, as he produced well in his first few seasons at Auburn. He is a much more prototypical big edge player the Patriots generally use in their system, but also has the versatility to play off the ball. However, Coe seems happiest playing as an edge rusher off the line. Coe’s main issue is his off-the field issues, where he feuded with his coaching staff over his assignments on the team, and also did not put in as much effort as a result. Coe is a very high-potential signing, but he will have to accept whatever role New England gives him if he wants to succeed.
The signing that gave the most guaranteed money went to Arkansas LB De’Jon Harris. Harris primarily plays as a thumping linebacker, which will likely be his role if he manages the Patriots. He has been theorized to fill a similar role to Elandon Roberts did last year (though likely not as a FB on offense). As a thumper, Harris’ best ability is tracking down and meeting the ball carrier, except he does suffer from some tackling issues.
The Patriots somehow managed to convince Bill Murray to join the team, where he will slot in on the defensive line. The DT from William & Mary displays good ability to be disruptive along the defensive line, though keep in mind that this was against FCS competition. Murray also managed to block 10 kicks during his tenure, something that Belichick is surely proud of. He reportedly is also a guy who is great at making his teammates laugh, perhaps like his celebrity counterpart. Considering that DL is a weaker position on the Patriots, Murray has a real shot to get on the team with his talent.
If I am going to talk about UDFAs that have a great chance of making the team, I am not going to overlook the secondary. The DB that the patriots signed this year was Washington’s Myles Bryant. Bryant is another undersized player, only coming at 5’8” and 183 lbs.. and primarily played free safety in 2019 after playing slot corner for the previous two years. Bryant showed good short-area quickness on the field as well as in athletic testing, running a 6.81s 3-cone. His greatest weakness is tackling, likely worsened by his small size. Bryant will need to improve his tackling if he wants to make the team. I also wanted to shout out 2019 UDFA UNM DB D’Angelo Ross, another undersized corner that showed some promise in the preseason prior to suffering a season-ending injury. I still don’t fully understand why Belichick spends so many premier picks on DBs when he can just pull great ones out of his rear nearly every year in the UDFA market.
Roster Projection:
Projecting the Patriots roster is especially difficult due to the amount of bodies at many positions such as OL, LB, and DB. This problem is exacerbated by the fact I haven’t seen anyone play yet or have the most recent updates on everyone’s health. I am not confident that this roster will be that accurate to the final roster that appears week 1.
QB (2) - Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
RB (5) - Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris
FB (1) - Dan Vitale
WR (7) - N’Keal Harry, Mohammed Sanu, Julian Edelman, Marqise Lee, Jakobi Meyers, Matt Slater, Jeff Thomas
TE (2) - Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene
OL (9) - Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu
DL (4) - Adam Butler, Beau Allen, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart
EDGE/LB (9) - Deatrich Wise, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Cassh Maluia, Brandon King
CB (6) - Stephon Gilmore, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Justin Bethel,
S (5) - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Terrence Brooks
K - Justin Rohrwasser
P - Jake Bailey
LS - Joe Cardona
KR and PR - Dugger
Conclusion?
The Patriots enter a time of uncertainty that hasn’t existed in my lifetime. This 2020 squad is very hard to predict because of all the unknowns that exist all over the team, most notably at QB. It is possible that the Patriots perform better on the offense this year due to the sheer amount of players that are now healthy, especially alongside the offensive line. Although it is most likely the Patriots will not be a contender this year, depending on how well Stidham and the rest of the offense perform and develop, the team could bring itself into contention as early as 2021. I anxiously, but optimistically, await this team’s future.
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[OC] Draft Scratchers (The Most Bizarre Draft Picks in NFL History): The Story of Anthony Bell & the Worst Draft Party of All-Time (LB, Cardinals, 1986)

In the 2014 critically accla… uh… critically not panned movie Draft Day, one of the plots revolves around Wisconsin quarterback Bo Callahan, who GM Kevin Costner is debating about taking with the first overall pick in the draft. The turning point when Costner decides to take Vontae Mack no matter what and pass on Bo Callahan came with a plot surrounding Bo’s 21st birthday party. None of Bo’s teammates showed up at his birthday party. Bo had a really bad answer for what happened that night (he said he didn’t remember a thing), which all but confirmed that the story in the police report was true.
Was this plot line kind of absurd and ridiculous? Yes, and I’ll admit that, even though I loved the movie in all its glorious cheese and watch it every year on the week of the draft.
But amazingly enough, there is actually a real life NFL example of this. A story where a player was holding a draft party, and practically nobody was there. Very few friends and very few family members were in attendance. It was the biggest day of his life, the moment where he was about to become a player in the NFL and set himself up for a seven figure payday, and practically nobody was there to see it.
The reason? Nobody thought he’d be taken as early as he was, so nobody was there when he was drafted.
The point of this series is to take a look at draft picks, both good and bad, that were widely criticized at the time. It’s the series about the picks that left people scratching their heads at the time. It’s the series about the picks that make you go hmmm. It’s the series about the picks where you wonder what they were thinking and where you’re first guessing; it’s the series about picks that seemed bizarre, out of left field, and seemed on the surface like they made no sense at the time.
This is the story of Anthony Bell. This is Draft Scratchers.
Part I: The 1985 Season
The St. Louis Cardinals (this was before they moved to Phoenix in 1988) were, by all accounts, a really bad team. In their near three-decade tenure in the city, they never won a playoff game. However, in the mid-1980s, they were at least somewhat respectable. They made it into the postseason in 1982 with a 5-4 record (it was the strike-shortened year), then followed that up in 1983 with an 8-7-1 record, and followed that up in 1984 with a 9-7 record. This gave them three consecutive seasons with a winning record.
In 1985, they were looking to make it four straight for the first time since 1925 (they had four consecutive winning seasons from 1922-25 when they were the Chicago Cardinals, which was so long ago that the Great Depression literally had not happened yet). That didn’t happen (amazingly enough, it still hasn’t happened since then).
During this 1985 season, in the year of Springsteen and Madonna, and a few years away from Nirvana, the Cardinals finished dead last in the NFC East with a 5-11 record. The season started out with a lot of promise; the Cardinals were 2-0 after beating both Ohio teams in the first two weeks, and heading into October, were sitting pretty with a 3-1 record. However, St. Louis would go onto lose 10 of their next 12 games en route to a disastrous finish that would eventually cost head coach Jim Hanifan his job. In what would make for a fantastic post, they fired their head coach after a 27-16 loss to Washington by changing the locks on his office during halftime of the game. That’s one heck of a way to fire a guy.
Because of their poor play (they ranked 27th out of 28 teams in points scored and 24th out of 28 teams in points allowed), they got the fifth pick in the draft. There were some bright spots; Neil Lomax was putting up halfway decent numbers at the QB spot for his era, even if it was a bit of a letdown from his somewhat forgotten 1984 campaign where he threw for 4,614 yards and 28 touchdowns. A 1-2 combo at halfback of Stump Mitchell (who had over 1,000 rushing yards) and Ottis Anderson was pretty solid, they had some decent receivers in Pat Tiley, Roy Green (who led the league in receiving yards in 1984), and JT Smith, even if they were getting up there in age (Tilley would be 33, Green would be 29, and Smith would be 31 heading into 1986).
But, it was very clear that there were some massive holes on this team. Unless you got decimated by injuries, you don’t go 5-11 and have no holes to fix.
For one, the offensive line was super-awful-fragilisticexpial-atrocious. That season, the Cardinals allowed 65 sacks, with Lomax getting sacked 61 times. When Lomax had time to throw, he was actually a pretty good quarterback; he showed that in 1984 and showed that throughout his somewhat underrated career with the Cardinals. But in 1984, he had no time to throw. St. Louis allowed the second most sacks in the league that season, as the only team worse than them was the Atlanta Falcons, who allowed a not-so-nice 69 sacks.
Number two, their defense was also awful. They allowed 414 points that season (an average of over 25 per game), which was the fifth worst total in the NFL. Towards the end of the season, there were some stinkers; a week 12 loss to the Giants where they allowed 34 points, a week 13 loss on Thanksgiving to the Cowboys where they allowed 35 points, and a week 15 loss to the Rams where they allowed 46 points stand out as the lowlights. St. Louis only had 13 interceptions (fewest in the league) and 32 sacks (second fewest in the league ahead of Buffalo with 25). St. Louis allowed 148.6 yards per game on the ground (fifth worst in the league), and allowed opposing quarterbacks to have a 90.1 passer rating, which was the worst total in football (for comparison, only one other team that year allowed a passer rating above 85, and that was the Houston Oilers at 89.3).
It was very easy to see why they were 5-11. So how could they approach the 1986 offseason in an era that didn’t have free agency?
Part II: Holes to Fill
On one hand, the Cardinals were a very young team that had some talent. Of the 22 main starters in 1985, only one of them (wide receiver Pat Tilley) was 30+ years old; the rest of the team was in their 20s. On the other hand, they were really bad, and that can be partly attributed to drug use. This came from a February 1986 issue of Sports Illustrated from writer Craig Neff:
“A source close to the St. Louis Cardinals, for example, has told SI that five Cardinals entered drug rehabilitation programs after the 1984 season. Coach Jim Hanifan, who was fired at the end of the ’85 season, says that drug use by St. Louis players was one of the contributing factors in the demise of his team after high preseason hopes.”
The Cards were pretty thin on the defensive line. I’m going to assume that this was always the case and wasn’t just hindsight talking, because I found this article from 1986 from training camp, and that at one point during camp, the Cardinals had just one defensive end who was with the team in 1985, and had just four defensive ends on their expanded roster. They were also thin at linebacker, as in 1985, the team had just three players listed as linebackers, including two-time Pro Bowler EJ Junior.
Choosing anyone in the front seven seemed like a good idea after their atrocious pass rush in 1985. The prevailing thought, according to this mock draft, was that the Cardinals should take a pass rusher (Jon Hand out of Alabama was who was mocked to them and eventually went one pick before to the Indianapolis Colts) or an offensive lineman (since Lomax couldn’t stay off the ground).
The article from The New York Times was called “The Top Choices and Who May Get Them.” Writer Michael Janofsky mocked pretty much the entire first round. One notable name did not appear on there. You can probably guess what the Cardinals, under new head coach Gene Stallings, decided to do.
Part III: The Puzzling Pick & The Hilarious Draft Party
Unlike a lot of the other players I’ve highlighted on Draft Scratchers, the Cardinals definitely addressed a need in the draft. When the Chiefs took Trezelle Jenkins in 1995, people criticized the pick partly because they didn’t need a tackle. When the Bengals took Levi Jones in 2002, people criticized the pick partly because they didn’t need a tackle. When the Jets took Alex Van Dyke in 1996, people criticized the pick partly because they didn’t need a wide receiver.
So when people criticize a pick even though the team in question got a player at a position of need, you know the pick was a massive reach.
Needing defensive help, especially in the front seven, the Cardinals did just that. With the fifth pick in the draft, the Cardinals selected Michigan State linebacker Anthony Bell.
Remember that article by The New York Times that had the mock draft of the entire first round? Yeah… Bell was not on that list. Nobody thought he’d be drafted that early. As Mel Kiper put it, “when the Cardinals, picking fifth overall in 1986, took the Michigan State linebacker, some draft attendees busted a gut with laughter”. Nobody expected him to get drafted so high. I’m not even sure how many people expected him to go in the first round.
And you know it’s always a bad sign when not even your own family thinks you’re getting drafted in the first round. I’m not making this up- there was absolutely nobody at Bell’s draft party because nobody thought he was going to be drafted. This was an article written by Sun Sentinel writer Craig Barnes after the draft about how the Cardinals made a surprising pick… and folks, it’s a beauty. Some of the highlights from this gem:
Erma Murray invited family and friends to her Fort Lauderdale home to watch Tuesday’s NFL Draft to see where her son, Anthony Bell of Michigan State, would be chosen. She figured if the guests arrived at 9 AM (an hour after the draft started), that they would be part of the celebration. Her son was projected as a late first round or early second round selection.
Those who arrived on time missed the excitement, but the celebration continued all day. Bell… was the fifth player chosen in the draft, and the biggest surprise of the first round.
“My heart is beating a little fast right now,” said his mother. “We’re very excited. I told everybody to show up at 9. Nobody was here but my husband, one of his friends from work, and my daughter. We were all taken by surprise.
“I was stunned,” said Bell, who had 139 career tackles. “I felt confident I would be drafted in the first round, but I didn’t expect it to be so high. When the selection was announced, there was a lot of yelling and screaming in the room. It’s a fantasy to be picked this high. I never thought St. Louis was this interested.
The selection of Bell surprised most experts. In his senior year, Bell made 82 tackles, intercepted a pass and blocked a punt, but his season wasn’t what many had expected.
There was some talk about the Chiefs taking him at seven if he fell to them, but I’m willing to bet that was a smokescreen that the Cardinals bought hook, line, and sinker. The reason? Four people were at Bell’s draft party. If you include Bell, there were five people who were actually there. Count the number of fingers on your hand. Odds are, unless you’re Jason Pierre-Paul, the number of fingers on your hand represents the number of people at Bell’s draft party.
I want to put that into perspective. None of Bell’s teammates or friends were there. The only people there were his immediate family and the dad’s friend from work. Imagine if, during the Costner movie, nobody was at Bo Callahan’s birthday party, and he essentially just threw a party for himself. That’s what this situation with Bell was like. When you have a party to watch your kid get drafted and you tell people not to come until a certain time because there’s no way he gets drafted that high, he should not be drafted that high.
What possible explanation was there that Bell got drafted so high? Outside of the fact that he filled a position of need, he had some very good numbers in testing. That linked article said that he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, which, for an outside linebacker, is really good. However, that same article said that he sometimes gets lost on the field, which is always a good trait for a linebacker to have, especially on play action.
Either way, Bell was now a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Would he be any good?
Part IV: An Atrocious Career
Former head coach Jim Hanifan had these words to say about what he would do before the draft every year:
“The night before the draft, I would get down on my hands and knees and say a rosary. I would ask God, ‘please get somebody good this year.’”
Even though Hanifan was no longer coaching the Cardinals, would his wishes be answered? Would the Cardinals get somebody good?
Nope. Not even close.
His career got off to a shaky start when Bell held out and didn’t sign until mid-August of his rookie year (he missed four weeks and two preseason games). In fairness to Bell, who became the highest paid rookie in franchise history, the Cardinals had a history of low-balling their draft picks. Still, not a great start for a guy that many had projected as a second round talent. In terms of making an impact, linebacker EJ Junior had a fantastic quote in that linked article about what it would take for Bell to make an impact after missing so much time. He said:
“It was very hard for me [to adjust] and I was just two weeks late [Junior held out as a rookie in 1981]. There’s so much to absorb and you have to get adjusted to the NFL. It would take the physical ability of a Lawrence Taylor and the mind of a computer to be able to start by September 7.
Bell started just one game as a rookie, and while the Cardinals’ pass rush improved (they jumped from 27th to 16th), it wasn’t because of Bell. As a rookie, Bell had four sacks, with his most notable performance being two sacks in a 10-10 tie against the Eagles in week 14. That would be the most sacks that Anthony Bell would ever have in his career.
The following year, he started 12 games and had one sack. In 1988, the team moved to Phoenix, and his numbers were still poor; despite starting all 16 games, he was only able to muster up one sack. Over his entire career with the Cardinals, he had just 11 sacks, and was cut from the team in 1991 and was out of the league by 1992.
People were first-guessing this pick, and when all was said and done, they were right. Bell was nothing short of a bust in his time with the Cardinals. Didn’t matter whether they were in St. Louis or in Phoenix; he was really bad. When head coach Gene Stallings was fired in the middle of the 1989 season (he said he wasn’t going to return in 1990, so general manager Larry Wilson decided to cut their losses and move on and avoid having a lame duck coach), it was because he was lobbying for a new GM and couldn’t get it. This quote says it all:
“Stallings, who had little influence in the college draft while former general manager George Boone was wasting first round picks on busts like Clyde Duncan and second round talents like Ken Harvey, Anthony Bell, and Leonard Smith, lobbied for a new GM and more input into the draft.”
One writer called Bell a guy who was big, fast, un-instinctive, and couldn’t make plays, and said it was part of another putrid draft. Mel Kiper called him one of the biggest first round busts of all-time. Nobody defended the pick at the time, and nobody defends it in hindsight either. It was that much of a reach; a guy who was projected as a second round pick was taken fifth overall.
And in his best season from a sacks perspective, he had as many sacks as the number of people who were at his draft party when he was selected. Four.
Previous Posts
Roger Vick: FB, NY Jets, 1987
Tyson Alualu: DT, Jacksonville, 2010
Rick Mirer Trade: QB, Chicago, 1997
Alex Van Dyke: WR, NY Jets, 1996
Jon Harris: DE, Philadelphia, 1997
Levi Jones: OT, Cincinnati, 2002
Trezelle Jenkins: OT, Kansas City, 1995
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Analytics & Protected Seed Profiles (+ Bonus Content)

For the last part in this series, I wanted to do two things that might actually help people win their bracket by answering two questions: is their a correlation between a protected (1-4) seeds profile and their chances of going deep into the tournament and how have similar teams in terms of raw efficiency performed in the past?
The second part is literally just data collection. I have to shout out the wonderful barttorvik.com for the last time since that is where this tool originates and I merely put it together.
PART 1 - TOP 4 SEEDS BASED ON ADJO AND ADJD
Duke is good. We know this. But, how good? Well, they rank in the Top 10 in both AdjO and AdjD. But, wait, there's more! UNC, Virginia, and Gonzaga do as well. That seems like it's good. *checks with judges* Yep, it's good. Does it mean anything come tournament time and what about the teams that aren't our murderous quartet of #1 seeds?
What Is This?
Basic groupings of ten because I'm a human and we run off base ten. This means, it's looking at teams with similar profiles (i.e. ranked 11th-20th in AdjO and 21st-30th in AdjD) and how those teams performed.
TOP 10 ADJO + TOP 10 ADJD
The Teams: Virginia, Duke, UNC, Gonzaga
There have been 11 #1 seeds in the past ten years to rank in the Top 10 on both sides of the ball heading into the tournament. Here's how they fared (a star means they lost the championship game)
Won Title: 2 (2010 Duke / 2012 Kentucky)
Made Final 4: 2 (2017 Gonzaga* / 2015 Kentucky)
Lost Elite 8: 4 (2016 Kansas / 2016 Virginia / 2012 UNC / 2011 Kansas)
Lost Sweet 16: 2 (2011 Duke / 2011 Ohio State)
Lost 2nd Round: 1 (2010 Kansas)
What It Means:
I'm hesitant to do this, but this is easily the strongest group of #1 seeds in the past ten years. Only 1 out of the 11 previous teams didn't make the Sweet 16, losing in one of the most memorable upsets of the decade. But, it's not a guarantee of sustained success. Half of these teams didn't even make the Final 4. One of these teams is probably losing in the Sweet 16, but which one? Your guess is as good as mine.
TOP 10 ADJO + 11-20 ADJD
The Teams: Michigan State
There have been 12 teams total, but only 4 #2 seeds who fit in this group.
Made Final 4: 1 (2015 (#1) Wisconsin*)
Lost Elite 8: 3 (2012 (#1) Syracuse, 2018 (#2) Duke, 2015 (#2) Arizona)
Lost Sweet 16: 5 (2013 (#1) Indiana, 2010 (#1) Syracuse, 2018 (#2) Purdue, 2009 (#2) Duke, 2015 (#4) UNC)
Lost 2nd Round: 3 (2017 (#1) Villanova, 2015 (#1) Villanova, 2013 (#1) Gonzaga
What It Means:
I'm picking against them, but the Spartans seem like a good bet to at least make the Sweet 16 based on recent history. The three teams to lose before then were all #1s with a double Villanova in there. But, no team in this group has ever won the title.
TOP 10 ADJO + 31-40 ADJD
The Teams: Tennessee, Purdue
A little smaller grouping here as only six teams qualify in this group, but it's an interesting bunch...
Won Title: 2 (2015 (#1) Duke, 2009 (#1) UNC)
Made Final 4: 1 (2018 (#1) Kansas)
Lost 2nd Round: 3 (2017 (#2) Duke, 2014 (#2) Kansas, 2016 (#4) Kentucky)
What It Means:
I am out on Tennessee. They might prove me wrong given Grant Williams and Schofield's pedigree and talent, but there's a lot working against them. Purdue is a more interesting case as you'll see later. It seems like they're screwed. Their raw #s have an amazing precedent (seriously, if you scroll down to look at one team, look at Purdue).
TOP 10 ADJO + 40+ ADJD
The Teams: LSU
There are a whopping 23 teams that fit in this category so I won't break them all down. About half of the 23 didn't survive to the Sweet 16. The only two teams to make the Final 4 in this group was the 2013 Michigan team and 2014 Wisconsin team who IIRC fielded some of the top offenses in KenPom history. LSU is 9th on Torvik. There are some positive teams on the 3 seed line, though. 2010 Baylor and 2015 Notre Dame both made the Elite 8 coming from this grouping. So, it's not out of the realm of possibility.
TOP 10 ADJD + 11-20 ADJO
The Teams: Michigan
Only 7 teams in this grouping. Four were #1 or #2 seeds.
2014 (#1) Florida - Final 4
2012 (#1) Michigan State - Sweet 16
2009 (#1) UConn - Final 4
2012 (#2) Kansas - Championship Game
What It Means:
Not sure, but it seems like teams that can lock down on D and are relatively efficient on offense are capable of making deep runs, just not winning the whole thing. That sounds like Michigan to me! Wait, this isn't cfb. No, stop, don't attack me. I'm sorry.
11-20 ADJO + 11-20 ADJD
The Teams: Kentucky, Houston
A solid 10 teams in this grouping that are very hit-or-miss. More than half (6) made the Elite 8, but only 2 made the Final 4 (the Buddy Hield Oklahoma team and the 2013 Syracuse team). Three teams didn't make it out of the 2nd Round including last year's Michigan State fiasco and the 2015 Kansas team that lost to an admittedly good Wichita State team that was underseeded.
What It Means:
Well, one of these teams isn't going to the Elite 8 because they're in the same side of the region. The question becomes do you like Wofford/Seton Hall over Kentucky or Iowa State/Ohio State over Houston more?
11-20 ADJO + 21-30 ADJ
The Teams: Virginia Tech
Only 4 teams fit this profile so sample size and all that. None made it past the Sweet 16. If you extend it out to any team with a defense outside of the Top 20 without a Top 10 offense, you get sixteen teams total. Only two made it to the Elite 8.
21-30 ADJO + TOP 10 ADJD
The Teams: Texas Tech
Another large grouping featuring 13 previous teams that fit this profile. Only two have made the Final 4: The 2013 Louisville team that was the #1 Overall Seed and the 2009 Michigan State team who was 2 seed. Five teams didn't make it out of the first two rounds. Two of them were Virginia teams including last year's not-so-good bois and the West Virginia team that got upset in a 3/14 game.
What It Means:
It means I'm tired and we're all probably screwed and you should just look at team colors or something. Or continue to the second part because it might be more enlightening.
31-40 ADJO + 11+ ADJD
The Teams: Florida State, Kansas
You're a team who's fine on offense. You don't have an elite D, though. That's a shame. Be nice to have. Hey, there's eight teams like us in the past ten years. I'm sure some of them made a Final 4 or something. No? Huh. An Elite 8? Yep! Okay, no. But, two of them did make the Sweet 16. One less than got knocked out in the 1st Round. Oh, that's bad. It sure is!
40+ ADJO + TOP 10 ADJD
The Teams: Kansas State
I lied. I said on Monday that K-State sucked and GIFs were for dummies and there's only one Manhattan and it sure isn't in the middle of nowhere. I was only looking at teams that had sub-40th ranked offenses. That doesn't look so good. But, if you have a really elite D? It gets better!
75% of these teams made the Sweet 16. 9 out of 12. Almost half of them made the Elite 8. It's not as dire as it seems for Kansas State. Of course, one of these teams was last year's Cincy team. And the Georgetown team that got stomped by FGCU.
PART 2 - TORVIK'S SIMILAR TEAMS AND AVERAGE WINS
Explanation: I can't really take credit for this. Torvik has an amazing feature where you can look at any team from this year, click on 'Similar Profiles' and then check boxes limiting the comparison to 'Tournament Teams Only' and 'Similar Seeds'. This measures raw efficiency and tempo (so not ranking relative to other teams like all my other research) giving you the 10 most similar teams within 1 seed line, i.e., if you are a #5 seed it will show you both 4 and 6 seeds. It displays how far each of those 10 teams advanced plus a total 'Average Wins'. That's the number displayed here. So, I did that for all 66 remaining teams in the tournament. The results are below along with notes on some of the teams. There are certainly some interesting things in here...
EAST
#1 Duke: 2.8 - Only two of the ten most-similar teams made the Final 4.
#16 NDSU/NC Central: 0
#8 VCU: 0.7 - 3-4 in the 8 vs. 9 game - and the 2017 South Carolina team boosted the average - no other team made the Sweet 16)
#9 UCF: 0-3 (3-3 in the 8 vs. 9 game)
#5 Mississippi State: 2.1 - tied for 2nd highest in the region, only three of the ten most similar teams didn't make the Sweet 16
#12 Liberty: 0.2 - 2-8 among ten most similar teams
#4 Virginia Tech: 1.9 - four teams went to the Elite 8, the others all failed to make it out the 2nd Round
#13 St. Louis: 0.2
#6 Maryland: 1.2 - their top 3 comparisons all made the Sweet 16, nobody else made it out of the 2nd Round including all of the #6 seeds
#11 Belmont: 0.3 - all the 11 seeds lost their first game
#3 LSU: 1.4 - this is way closer to a 5 or 6 seed than a 3 seed
#14 Yale: 0
#7 Louisville: 2.1 - tied for 2nd highest in the region, best for any seed lower than 6
#10 Minnesota: 0.5 - mostly 1st Round losses
#2 Michigan State: 2.1 - lowest among all #2 seeds, none of their Top 10 comparisons made the Final 4
#15 Bradley: 0
WEST
#1 Gonzaga: 2.8 - same average as Duke, but four of the ten teams didn't make it to the Elite 8
#16 FDU: 0
#8 Syracuse: 1.2 - either out in the first or to the Sweet 16
#9 Baylor: 0.7 - the 2011 Butler team heavily brings up this average, it's a lot of losses in 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9 games
#5 Marquette: 1.3 - no Elite 8 appearances, majority won 1st Round game
#12 Murray State: 0.7 - half won their 1st Round game
#4 Florida State: 1.6 - all the other 4 seeds in their top 10 comparisons made the Elite 8
#13 Vermont: 0
#6 Buffalo: 0.5 - teams are 4-6, none of their Top 10 made the Sweet 16
#11 Arizona St.: 0.9 - their three best comparisons all made the Sweet 16 / #11 St. John's: 0.7
#7 Nevada: 0.8 - only 1 made the Sweet 16, majority won their 1st round game
#10 Florida: 1 - their two closest comparisons both made the Elite 8, nearly every other lost their 1st round game
#2 Michigan: 2.6 - five went to the Elite 8, three went to the Final 4
#15 Montana: 0.2 (MTSU over MSU and Mercer over Duke were in their Top 10)
SOUTH
#1 Virginia: 2.7 - hard to decipher because their top comparisons are all Virginia teams
#16 Gardner-Webb: 0
#8 Ole Miss: 0.7 - no Sweet 16 teams
#9 Oklahoma: 0.5
#5 Wisconsin: 1.2 - lowest among 5 seeds, top comparisons didn't make Sweet 16
#12 Oregon: 0.3 - top 6 comparisons all lost their first game
#4 Kansas State: 1.7 - top 3 comparisons all lost their first game, all the 4 seeds won a game
#13 UC-Irvine: 0.1
#6 Villanova: 1.3 - most 6 seeds won this game, but failed to advance past that
#11 St. Mary's: 0.2 - this was a little shocking to me
#3 Purdue: 3.1!!!!!! - this is the 2nd highest average for any team in the tournament, 9 of their top 10 comparisons made at least the Elite 8, CHOOOOOOO CHOOOOOO #14 Old Dominion: 0
#7 Cincinnati: 0.8 - only two teams advanced to the Sweet 16
#10 Iowa: 0.5
#2 Tennessee: 2.4
#15 Colgate: 0.2 (two upsets in here)
MIDWEST
#1 UNC: 3.2 - highest among all teams, top comparisons all UNC teams that went 4
#16 Iona: 0
#8 Utah St.: 0.9
#9 Washington: 0.8 - both Utah State and Washington have a few sleepers in there
#5 Auburn: 1.2 - none of their comparisons made the Sweet 16
#12 New Mexico St.: 0.5 - similar teams are 3-7
#4 Kansas: 1 - YIKES!
#13 Northeastern: 0.2 - two wins, but both were #12 seeds
#6 Iowa State: 1.4
#11 Ohio State: 0 - yep, that's right, 0-10
#3 Houston: 2.2
#14 Georgia State: 0.4
#7 Wofford: 1.4 - three out of their top five closest comparisons made the Sweet 16 our further
#10 Seton Hall: 0.7
#2 Kentucky: 2.3 - four of their ten comparisons made the Elite 8
#15 Abilene Christian: 0.2
AND THAT'S IT FOR THIS YEAR!
I hope everyone enjoyed. Sorry about the lateness on this. Real life got in the way. I'm going to make my picks later tonight. Hopefully, this pans out otherwise I'll be exposed as a horrible fraud.
Thanks again for reading or browsing and all the gold/silver.
Lastly and most importantly, enjoy the games. It's the most wonderful time of the year!


submitted by DubsLA to CollegeBasketball [link] [comments]

Official /r/TheB1G Week 1 Power Rankings

Week 1 Power Rankings:
Week 1 is over. Northwestern and Purdue played a conference game, Michigan State and Penn State survived scares, Michigan lost to Notre Dame, Maryland upset Texas for the second year in a row, and the Nebraska Fightin’ Scott Frosts didn’t get to play their first game due to lightning. Football is back, baby!
The big winner this week is Maryland, with a 4-spot jump up the rankings after proving that Texas is definitely still not back. Very little change in the rest of the rankings, although the average rankings tell a different story. Ohio State and Wisconsin stand alone at the top, and a big gap separates them and the virtual tie of Sparty and Penn State. Michigan dropped far in the average rankings, but still stand an inch above Iowa, who stands an inch above Northwestern. As mentioned before, Maryland had a big jump, while the rest of the teams remain relatively unchanged from the previous week.
Rank Team Points Average Rank Prev. Change Variance
1 Ohio State 140(85) 1.31 1 0 0.72
2 Wisconsin 202(16) 1.89 2 0 0.18
3 Michigan State 474 4.43 4 +1 2.64
4 Penn State 477(2) 4.46 3 -1 3.23
5 Michigan 639 5.97 5 0 4.78
6 Iowa 649(2) 6.07 6 0 4.23
7 Northwestern 657(1) 6.14 7 0 4.08
8 Maryland 814 7.61 12 +4 3.73
9 Nebraska 1042 9.74 8 -1 3.65
10 Purdue 1069 9.99 9 -1 3.65
11 Minnesota 1099 10.27 10 -1 3.12
12 Indiana 1234 11.53 11 -1 1.78
13 Rutgers 1296 12.11 13 0 2.29
14 Illinois 1457 13.62 14 0 0.96
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1. JT who? After seemingly a lifetime of having Barrett as the Buckeye QB, Dwayne Haskins took over and had a record setting debut. The offense came out firing on all cylinders and was every bit as dynamic as fans were hoping it would be. The best part is that Haskins hit receivers in stride which has been a struggle for the past few years. Dwayne wasn't the only person on offense to shine though, the WRs looked better than they have since 2014 and Mike Webber looks rejuvenated. The defense on the other hand had some question marks. The secondary clearly missed Jordan Fuller and the LBs looked lost at times. It's clear that we'll need to lean heavily on Nick Bosa and the rest of the DL. topher3003
2. Week 1 went pretty much as one might expect for Wisconsin, which on the whole is a good thing. Jonathan Taylor broke free twice for 2 TDs and coughed up a fumble way too easily before sitting out the 2nd half. Hornibrook had a quality game with 2 TDs and no interceptions. A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor both had solid games, but we also got a taste of what having no experienced backups at WR can mean thanks to some cramps. Freshman TE Jake Ferguson got a chance to show his ball skills with 4 catches for 43 yds. On defense, after being pretty much completely shut down in the 1st half, WKU gained some ground in the 2nd, reaching the red zone 4 times. Those trips resulted in a fumble, an interception, a turnover on downs, and a field goal, the Hilltoppers' only points. As far as I'm concerned the main takeaway is that the Badgers are more than ready to ramp up the difficulty a bit next week against New Mexico. pianobadger
3. Another week 1 game against an uninspiring opponent, another week 1 nailbiter for the Spartans. Though Utah State is predicted to compete in the Mountain West, MSU should not have kept it this close to the Aggies. They had opportunities to pull away, but some mistakes helped keep USU in the game. The negatives: The o-line was atrocious. The run game could not get up and running as they created no holes for Scott, and the passing game held on solely due to Lewerke's mobility. The D-line also seemed weak on the pass rush, though that may be due to Utah State's up tempo passing game. The secondary also needs to get better in covering the short middle passes. The positives: Lewerke continues to prove himself as the man the offense will have to run through to be successful. Once he was opened up and allowed to run and sling the ball things started moving. Though Dantonio will never be pass-whacky, we need to start using the pass to open up the run instead of the reverse (which Coach D is more comfortable with). The WRs made a couple of mistakes but overall showed how good that corp can be. Bachie continues to make plays and our secondary showed growth from last year. The mistakes are correctable, but with a tougher than expected showdown against the ASU Sun-Herms looming this Saturday, they need to be fixed sooner rather than later to keep playoff dreams alive. Prediction: The high flying Sun Devils get a few quick hits in before halftime, but the Spartan Secondary and high-flying offense of their own, take over in the second half and pull out another close game 45-40 FoxMcbowser42
4. Well that was a scary way to start the season. Appalachian State came into Beaver Stadium looking to get their biggest upset since 2007 (shit, I’m old… I remember watching that game on a tiny tv in Beaver Stadium) when they shocked the Wolverines at the Big House. Thankfully, McSorley and the Nittany Lion offense pulled it together in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the game. In OT, the Lions hit the end zone first and Amani Oruwariye sealed the victory with an interception for a final score of 45-38. We knew going into this game that App State was not going to roll over, but no one expected a contest that close. Popular opinion supports the idea that the Mountaineers are a just a good team and not that the Lions played poorly. But when I look back to the game stats, I have early concerns for the PSU defense, especially the secondary. App State’s QB, Zac Thomas, at his first career start, was able to pass for nearly 300 yards and, in the fourth quarter, embarrassed the PSU defense. And the talent loss at linebacker this off-season really made itself apparent. On the other side of the ball, things are looking up as I don’t have much to complain about Rahne’s first regular season game as OC. The PSU rushing game racked up 205 yards and 5 touchdowns (including McSorley’s) providing some insight to how the team will deal with the loss of Barkley – Miles Sanders looks promising, as expected. And most of all, McSorley was at his McSorleyest when it was needed the most. Next up: at eat shit Pitt for a test against a P5 opponent. Calling it 24-10 PSU. 2ndHalfTeam
5. Michigan lost at Notre Dame by a touchdown, but it didn’t feel that close. Having said that, the Wolverines did outgain the Irish slightly (307 yards to 302) and both teams averaged 4.4 yards per play. Offensively, the offensive line is still a major problem. As a unit, they were overmatched by Notre Dame’s front, which resulted in a lack of a running game and not much time for Michigan’s quarterbacks to throw the football. They lack the toughness and identity you’d expect from a Jim Harbaugh offense. On a positive note, the wide outs were more involved more than they ever were last season and while Shea Patterson wasn’t special and he made some mistakes (2 turnovers), he’s clearly an upgrade over what they had a year ago. But if the offense is to make a leap this season against better opponents, the offensive line needs to get better. While the offense was ugly most of the night, the defense was more head scratching. Especially their third-down defense (7-of-15 allowed). A unit that was the best in the country last year on third downs allowed numerous key third-and-long conversions starting with the opening series as they fell behind 14-0 midway through the first quarter. Safety Josh Metellus was ejected early for targeting and defensive end Chase Winovich, who had a strong game overall (1 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss), committed a costly penalty which cost Michigan points as Notre Dame extended their lead to 21-3. I suspect if these teams played again, the Irish would struggle to crack 20 points. Not sure the offense would fare much better unless they step it up in the trenches. Maybe the most disappointing part of the Week 1 loss was it appeared the Wolverines were outcoached. Both schematically and in terms of preparation. Notre Dame looked more ready. B1GLove
6. Well, Iowa’s defense is looking good after one game. The second team allowed a touchdown in garbage time, but otherwise the defense as a whole played well, especially the DL, which was in NIU’s backfield all day. There may still be some worries at LB, particularly MLB, but fans are hoping that was more first-game jitters than a worry going forward. The offense inspired less confidence. The WRs dropped many passes, Stanley had quite a few off-target passes, and most of Iowa’s big run plays were called back by boneheaded penalties. By the second half, everyone, particularly all three RBs (and especially Toren Young), got into a much better groove, racking up 4 TDs in the second half (along with a safety by the defense). Hell, even the punting was much improved from last year, provided Rastetter rugby punts from here on out (and provided his special teams actually blocks for him). All in all, considering the roughness Ferentz teams generally play with in Game 1, that was a pretty solid first game of the season. Oh, and Kirk Ferentz is now the winningest football coach in Iowa football history! Congratulations to Ferentz, and here’s to 14 more wins this season! Next game: Iowa State. trumpet_23
7. Northwestern benefitted from Purdue mistakes to pull off a road division win on opening Thursday. The Quarterback situation remains unresolved as Thorson split time with backup TJ Green in order to rest his knee, which is still recovering from ACL surgery. While both quarterbacks played well, the changes seemed to disrupt the flow of the offense, and the receivers struggled to get separation, which put a damper on a strong performance by the O Line and RB Jeremy Larkin. Defensively, the D Line played well, and looks to be disruptive this year, while the secondary showed the growing pains of breaking in three new starters. Next week Northwestern will look to extend their win streak to ten in a revenge game against Duke, who blew out the 'Cats last season. LeinadSpoon
8. On the first play of the game, Maryland lined up with 10 men on the field leaving an empty spot on the offensive line in honor of their late teammate. They took a delay of game penalty which Texas promptly declined. It was a touching moment and one of many ways the team took to remembering the tragedy. While many on the outside have painted the situation as tumultuous, the players came out and showed unity, purpose, and passion. I think it meant alot to the team and the fanbase that they were able to go out and win this one for Jordan. The game ball was placed in Jordan’s locker in College Park where it will remain until it is presented to his parents on his senior day. Okay, on to the game now... holy hell, the Terps did it again! I always said last year’s upset was no fluke and that this year brought even more talent to the table but I didn’t think they’d pull it off again. Led by Kasim Hill, the Terps used a wild Matt Canada offense to jump out to a 24-7 lead. Unheralded freshman wide receiver Jeshaun Jones used his first three collegiate touches to score a 28-yard rushing TD, a 68-yard receiving TD, and for good measure a 20-yard passing TD. Kasim looked confident out there making good reads, accurate passes, and showing off his scrambling skills that led to a torn ACL last year. The defense led the way in the second half, allowing only 7 points and creating three turnovers on the final three Texas drives to close it out. They limited Texas’ offense go 3/15 on 3rd down which is a monumental improvement over last year’s squad which allowed almost a 50% conversion rate. It was far from dominating - the endless supply of jet sweeps went stale in the second half. After having success stretching the field early in the game (something DJ Moore excelled at last year), we abandoned it altogether which allowed the Texas defense to stuff the box. The Terps defense showed general improvement but failed to generate much of a pass rush. The win definitely heightens our expectations for this season but there are still 5 more games where Maryland will find themselves as sizable underdogs so this win gives them a ton of breathing room in the quest for a bowl. Great start to the year, go Terps! Wicked_UMD
9. After 3 hours of waiting underneath Memorial Stadium, the word finally spread the game was canceled. Many rumors are flying about a makeup: Maybe play Akron December 1st, maybe we play Liberty in October?? The real first game of the season will be against an old hated rival, and I suppose nothing would be sweeter than Colorado being Scott Frost’s first victory. Nebraska leads the all-time series 49-18-2. Nebraska_Actually
10. (Ed. note: I couldn’t not include his first message to me, in italics) I have nothing to stay this week. The refs sucked. I’m abstaining from comment. Alright I relented on my position a little after sleeping. Here you go. Purdue answered some questions and asked others in the opener against Northwestern. The defense was a pleasant surprise when they weren't being hampered by short fields. Spencer Evans took every fields goal, extra point, and kickoff, making all but a 53 yard attempt. Rondale Moore absolutely shone in his debut, setting the Purdue record for all purpose yardage in a single game, as well as scoring both a rushing and receiving touchdown. As for the bad...QB Elijah Sindelar may have lost his job, throwing three interceptions before halftime before being replaced by David Blough. Unfortunately, those mistakes and some...interesting refereeing cost the Boilermakers the game. Purdue plays Eastern Michigan next week in what should be a blowout. dgahimer
11. The Gophers started the game slowly, easing their way in to things and actually were down 10-7 early in the 2nd quarter. Right after NMSU took the lead the Gopher offense started firing on all cylinders, marching down the field on two consecutive drives for touchdowns. The second quarter pile-on included a 75 yard punt return TD by Antoine Winfield Jr. and a 84 yard TD drive, making it 35-10 at the half. The game slowed down in the second half ending with a 48-10 UMN win. True Freshman QB Zack Annexstad ended the game 16/33 for 220 yds 2 TDs and no interceptions. Rodney Smith ran for 156 yds and Tyler Johnson notched an even 100 receiving yards. The offense ended the game with 524 total yards. While NMSU can likely be put in the "cupcake" category, the Gophers have had much rougher games against "cupcakes" in the past, so it was great for them to get a solid win and put some mistakes on film to work out. We will learn a lot about how much stock we should put into this team with the Week 2 matchup against a solid Fresno State at 6:30 on Saturday. kShnarsty
12. The result of this game was almost a foregone conclusion when it was scheduled, but this is Indiana football, so nothing is ever really guaranteed. Indiana played about as well as expected. Their defense let up a couple plays they shouldn’t have that turned into scoring drives early in the game, but this is a young defensive squad. Indiana played 11 freshmen on defense this past Saturday, and it is reasonable to expect Coach Allen to get them into B1G shape by the time conference play starts. On offense, I was impressed with Indiana’s QB play. Outside of Indiana’s opening drive where Ramsey threw a very questionable pass for an interception, Indiana’s quarterbacks completed passes consistently. Peyton Ramsey went 20/27 for 156 yds, 3 TDs, and the one interception mentioned above; Michael Penix (really have to watch the typos with that last name) subbed in during the third quarter and went 8/10. This kind of efficient play is key for an offense that, as of now, doesn’t look to have the ability to run up the score on quality opponents like it has in the past. Indiana’s performance was not dominant, but it wasn’t bad either. The squad looks like it has potential. Indiana faces its first P5 opponent next week when Virginia comes to Bloomington. Anyone watching should look to see if Indiana can start to shore up some of its youthful mistakes before the start of conference play. manofruber
13. Rutgers had a solid victory over Texas State this past weekend, and I think fans should be encouraged. True freshman QB Art Sitkowski threw 3 INTs in his first ever college game, but still added a TD and a really good completion percentage. Rutgers fans will have to accept the bad and good with Art, but the good has the potential to be be very good. RB Raheem Blackshear is a beast and will feature prominently going forward. The only points given up to Texas State came from a pick-six, so technically the defense didn't give up any points. That certainly will change next week as the Scarlet Knights head to Columbus to face Ohio State. The betting line opened up at OSU -33, and if the Scarlet Knights really want to show they've improved, they have to stop getting absolutely demolished by the elite teams. I'm hoping we can somehow keep it close in the 1st half and lose by ~21 points. We will see. MRC1986
14. Well, this game was a tale of two halves. There are two big things I got from the game. The run defense is porous and will hurt this year. The defense is quick, can get to the ball, but there are clear holes. If we are defending the pass, we can defend the pass, but will fail to get to the QB if he runs out of the pocket. We are decent against the run, but fail to cover holes on the line. Missing 5 defensive starters doesn't help. Rod Smith's offense works. We had 3 different running backs get TDs and had a QB that rushed for over 100 yards. Like our defense, our offense is very one dimensional, even more now with Dudek out for the year. However, the offensive line has matured. But this was against Kent State. When we got rolling in the second half, it worked. But this will not work against the B1G. But this is a young team, and I hope for individual development on both sides of the ball, its actually great going into the season with 0 expectations. the_reddit_intern
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Offseason Review Series: Day 8, The Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals
Division: AFC North
2017 Record: 7-9 (3rd in AFC North)
 
 
2017 Statistical Team Rankings
 
Total Offense – 280.5 YPG (32nd in NFL)
Passing – 195.1 YPG (27th in NFL)
Rushing – 85.4 YPG (31st in NFL)
Points Per Game – 18.1 PPG (26th in NFL)
Total Yards Allowed – 339.1 YPG (18th in NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed – 211.2 YPG (8th in NFL)
Rushing Yards Allowed – 127.9 YPG (30th in NFL)
Points Allowed Per Game – 21.8 (16th in NFL)
Sacks – 41 (T-11th in NFL)
Turnover Differential – -9 (27th in NFL)
 
 
Coaching Changes
 
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Lazor
Bill Lazor entered 2017 as the Bengals QB coach and was promoted to OC last season from week 3 on following the firing of former OC Ken Zampese. The offense looked much better immediately in week 3 taking the Aaron Rodgers led Packers all the way to overtime. The offense overall had peaks and valleys throughout the season, and much of that was attributed to Lazor being forced to use Zampese’s playbook that was implemented in training camp. There has been a ton of cautious optimism for this upcoming season that Lazor, with his own offense being fully implemented this summer, will be able to maximize the most out of the Bengals offense.
 
Quarterback Coach: Alex Van Pelt
With Lazor ascending to full time OC, the Bengals had a hole at QB coach that needed to be filled. The team elected to go out and sign former NFL quarterback Alex Van Pelt. Van Pelt had most recently been the QB coach of the Green Bay Packers since 2014. Aaron Rodgers publicly stated after the move was made that he was unhappy that the team allowed Van Pelt to walk without consulting him, which could be a testament to the strength of the relationship between Rodgers and Van Pelt. In any case, the Bengals are happy to have a coach with an NFL pedigree who has been responsible for coaching a QB in the past that many feel is the best in the game today.
 
Wide Receivers Coach: Bob Bicknell
Bob Bicknell is going to be the Bengals WR coach for 2018 following the departure of former WR coach James Urban. Urban had been on the Bengals staff since 2011, including winning the Cincinnati Enquirer Bengals Coach of the Year in 2016 for his work developing young wideouts Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson, and Cody Core. As for Bicknell, despite only being 48 years old he has 27 years of coaching experience with 3 collegiate teams and 4 NFL teams. He will be working in tandem with new offensive coaches Lazor and Van Pelt to make the Bengals offense hum.
 
Offensive Line Coach: Frank Pollack
To put it quite plainly, the Bengals offensive line was god awful last year. They were undoubtedly one of the worst units in football. Former OL coach Paul Alexander had been with the team since 1994 in multiple capacities, but following his inability to develop multiple valuable draft picks along the offensive line it was time for a change. Enter Frank Pollack, former NFL player and OL coach most recently of the Dallas Cowboys. This may be the most dynamic philosophy shift on the Bengals offense this season. Alexander’s strategy with linemen was consistent: retreat post-snap and react to the defense. Pollack’s intense personality is mirrored by how he has his lineman play, attack the defense off the snap and initiate contact. This change could spell big things from a unit that is hoping to become more run oriented with the two headed monster of Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard.
 
Defensive Coordinator: Teryl Austin
This is the hire that I personally, and many Bengals fans, are most happy about. There is no mistaking that Paul Guenther wasn’t very liked among fans. His “bend but don’t break” style of defense had its moments but largely left people with a sour taste in their mouths. Austin comes in and immediately in his introductory press conference he makes it known that he wants to play a more aggressive brand of defense that emphasizes defense taking over games, being physical, and forcing turnovers. In 2017 the Bengals only forced 14 turnovers which was tied for 30th in the NFL, while Austin’s Lions defense forced 32 which was 3rd best in the NFL. Similar to the changes on the offensive line and offensive coordinator, the theme of the Bengals offseason seems to be trying to be more aggressive and be an initiator. The fanbase is hopeful that these changes will result both in more wins and more points on the scoreboard.
 
Cornerbacks Coach: Daronte Jones
I don’t have too much to say about this move. Our secondary has been an up and down group in recent years, and after the season the team elected to part ways with former coach Kevin Coyle. Jones was the defensive backs coach for Wisconsin in 2015 and they led the nation with only 7 passing TDs allowed while ranking 7th in overall passing defense. From 2016-2017 Jones was the assistant defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins. Hopefully the secondary can channel some of the success that Jones had at Wisconsin with ascending star CB William Jackson III.
 
 
Free Agency
 
Players Lost
Player Position New Team Contract
AJ McCarron QB Buffalo 2-year $10m
Jeremy Hill RB New England 1-year $1.5m
Russell Bodine C Buffalo 2-year $5m
Andre Smith T/G Arizona 2-year up to $10m
Chris Smith DE Cleveland 3-year $14m
Kevin Minter LB NY Jets 1-year $880k
Pat Sims DT Free Agent N/A
Cedric Peerman RB Free Agent N/A
Eric Winston OT Free Agent N/A
Adam Jones CB Free Agent N/A
 
AJ McCarron: This was a tough loss for the Bengals. In the NFL you can’t have enough security at the backup quarterback position. McCarron had long been thought of as a potential NFL starter by other teams. If you recall, the Bengals famously attempted to trade him at the trade deadline to the division rival Cleveland Browns. I can tell you it stings as a fan to know that we were in a position to get 2nd and 3rd round draft picks in this years draft for him, and instead we are just crossing our fingers hoping for a decent compensatory selection. Even that, though, seems unlikely.
 
Jeremy Hill: This departure was a foregone conclusion from the moment the Bengals selected Joe Mixon in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. Hill burst onto the scene in 2014 running for 1,124 yards and 9 TD while averaging 5.1 YPC. Since then it has been all downhill, as from 2015-2017 Hill averaged only a measly 3.6 YPC without a single 1,000 yard season. He will forever be remembered (and not in a good way) among Cincinnatians for his costly fumble in the playoff game against Pittsburgh. Closing out the 2017 season he also opted to undergo surgery mid-season (team doctors told him it was not an urgent surgery) to be healthy for the 2018 season, and was called out by Coach Lewis for giving up on the team.
 
Russell Bodine: Bengals fandom, rejoice! The Bengals selected Bodine in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL draft and he was a day 1 starter at center. He started every single game in his 4 year career here, and that is about where the positive things I can say stop. Per PFF he was the 25th ranked center in the NFL for 2017 with a 46.8 grade (his 3rd season out of 4 with a grade below 53). The center position is extremely important to an offensive line and Bodine didn’t cut it. I wish him the best of luck in Buffalo but I sure am glad that I will no longer have to watch him stumble back as if he has never faced a bull rush before.
 
Andre Smith: Andre Smith was actually a high draft choice by the Bengals going all the way back to 2009 when the Bengals took him 6th overall. He was the starting RT for Cincinnati from 2009-2015, left to play in Minnesota in 2016 on a one year deal before returning to Cincinnati for the 2017 season. He appeared in 13 games and started 8 at several OL positions (mostly all at Tackle). Per PFF he graded out as the 62nd best tackle in the league, consistent with his deteriorating play throughout the last 3 seasons. He was always viewed as a 1-year rental behind our patchwork line.
 
Chris Smith: This guy hurt to lose. He was a very effective rotational piece for the Bengals defense off the edge. He recorded 3 sacks and a forced fumble, and was generally disruptive whenever he was brought into the game. His playing time was limited but I think moving forward if he gets more opportunity the guy could one day become a great player. For the duration and money that Cleveland gave him though there was no way the Bengals were going to be able to hang on to him, not with our other defensive lineman already on the roster. If you watch many Cleveland games I think this is a name you’ll be hearing a lot of.
 
Kevin Minter: Minter was a guy that came into the league in 2013 to Arizona as a 2nd round pick. The Cardinals had high hopes for him, as did the Bengals when they gave him a 1-year $4.2m deal in free agency. The idea was he would come in and be a faster, stronger, and younger Rey Maualuga. Instead we got what the Cardinals got, pretty unspectacular play. It never seemed like he gelled in the Cincinnati defense and was limited to just 9 games due to injury. Following a disappointing season the Bengals elected to let him walk in free agency.
 
Pat Sims: The Bengals took Sims in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft, and since then he has had stints with both the Bengals and Oakland Raiders. Sims was only on a 1-year deal for 2017, and throughout his career he as mostly just been a big body DT to plug in on rushing downs. Sims is now 32, it is possible the Bengals or another team could bring him in on a minimum contract if they need interior help. I would guess this is a guy that is going to get some calls following training camp injuries.
 
Cedric Peerman: Cedric has pretty much been a career special teams player since entering the league in 2009, but he has been spectacular in that role. In 2014 he was named the Bengals special teams captain and made the pro bowl as a special teamer in 2015. Unfortunately his past 2 seasons have been marred by injury, only playing 6 games in 2016 and missing the entire 2017 season. As of this writing it is unclear what the future holds for him.
 
Eric Winston: This one is short and sweet. The current NFLPA president is more than likely done as an NFL player. He sat on the couch half of last season before being an emergency signing in November following injuries along our offensive line.
 
Adam Jones: Love him or hate him, the guy has been a really solid player throughout his NFL career. He was a First-Team All-Pro in 2014 as a return specialist, and then he made the pro bowl the following season in 2015 as a CB. I’d be inclined to say that his time as an NFL player is over however after the Bengals declined to pick up the 2018 option for the 34 year old player. This is especially compounded by his recent airport fight. I think his age, declining skill set, and constant fear of off-field issues will keep teams away.
 
 
Players signed/traded for
Player Position Old Team Length Salary
Kevin Huber P Cincinnati 3-years $7.9m
Tyler Eifert TE Cincinnati 1-year $5.5m
Preston Brown LB Buffalo 1-year $4m
Matt Barkley QB Arizona 2-years $3.1m
Chris Baker DT Tampa Bay 1-year $3m
Cordy Glenn LT Buffalo 3-years $30m
Bobby Hart T NY Giants 1-year $1m
 
Kevin Huber: The Bengals re-signed our long time punter in a pretty easy to predict move. Huber was born in Cincinnati, grew up and played high school ball in Cincinnati, attended college at the University of Cincinnati, and was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009. The former First-Team All-Pro is a quality player and a local guy, no need to make a change.
 
Tyler Eifert: Tyler is probably the biggest enigma in the entire Bengals organization. When he is healthy, he is one of the best in football. The problem with that is that he is absolutely never healthy. The guy has only played in 39 out of 80 career games, literally he has missed more than he has played. He has history of injury to his back, knee, shoulder, and elbow. This is basically a 1-year prove it deal, this season is going to basically determine his market value moving forward.
 
Preston Brown: After the Kevin Minter experiment didn’t work last season the Bengals turned to a former Buffalo Bills 3rd round pick to help shore up the LB corps. Preston had a pretty good season last year, ranking 43rd out of all linebackers per PFF. Perhaps most importantly he has played every game of his 4 year career. It was reported Brown chose the Bengals over an offer from Buffalo as he grew up in the Cincinnati area. This move confirms that LB Vontaze Burfict will primarily play WILL with Brown playing MLB.
 
Matt Barkley: Nothing fancy here. Barkley is a veteran QB that is going to come into camp and compete with Jeff Driskel for the backup job. I know most Bengals fans (myself included) love us some crazy legs Driskel but I think Barkley wins the job in the end due to his experience and track record. Regardless though, this is undoubtedly Andy Dalton’s team.
 
Chris Baker: Last offseason Baker signed a nice 3-year $15.7m contract with Tampa Bay before being cut after the season. Baker was a force for the Washington Redskins from 2014-2016, but reports out of Tampa were that his laziness and negative attitude made him an unwelcome presence with the team moving forward. I see this as a low risk high reward signing. If the coaching staff can get him into his 2014-2016 form with his current price tag, it is a huge win. If his negativity continues the team can cut him loose easily.
 
Cordy Glenn: This was by FAR the biggest offseason acquisition by the Bengals this season, and perhaps in decades. The trade had the Bengals send a 1st round pick (12th overall) and a 6th rounder to Buffalo in exchange for Glenn, a 1st round pick (21st overall), and a 5th rounder. This is an absolute steal for a team that didn’t have a single tackle on the roster with half of the ability of Glenn a season ago. Glenn has been a full-time starter in his NFL career, but dealt with some injuries of late. Still, he is a massive upgrade over what we had before and is one of the reasons for optimism for our offense moving forward. Note his salary in the table above is what is left on his contract that Cincinnati is on the hook for.
 
Bobby Hart: I’m going to make no qualms about this. I absolutely despise this signing. Yes, it is low risk money wise, but Hart brings nothing of value to the Bengals locker room. There were very few tackles in the league that were worse than what the Bengals already had, and Hart was one of them (PFF ranked him as the 74th Tackle). He is unathletic, has poor technique, and a history of locker room issues. I’m hoping he doesn’t make the roster.
 
Draft
Round Number Player Position School
1 21 Billy Price C Ohio State
2 54 Jessie Bates S Wake Forest
3 77 Sam Hubbard DE Ohio State
3 78 Malik Jefferson LB Texas
4 112 Mark Walton RB Miami (FL)
5 151 Devontae Harris CB Illinois State
5 158 Andrew Brown DE Virginia
5 170 Darius Phillips CB Western Michigan
7 249 Logan Woodside QB Toledo
7 252 Rod Taylor OL Mississippi
7 253 Auden Tate WR Florida State
 
Billy Price (6’4 312lbs):
Offensive line was by far the most important priority going into this draft, and the Bengals front office wasted absolutely no time in addressing it. Rumor was that the Bengals wanted Frank Ragnow out of Arkansas here, but he was chosen the pick prior by the Detroit Lions. The Bengals ended up with, in my opinion, the more polished player with Price. He started all 55 of OSU’s games the last 4 seasons, and with the departure of the disappointing Bodine the team needed an upgrade and some consistency in the middle. With Price I think they got both.
Grade: A
 
Jessie Bates (6’1 200lbs):
The Bengals secondary was solid if unspectacular last season, with one position group that needed help being safety. The Bengals brought in Kurt Coleman and Eric Reid for offseason visits, but in the end they chose to upgrade via the draft. George Iloka and Shawn Williams are both quality players but neither of them are ballhawking playmakers a la an Earl Thomas type, something that is far and away the best part of Bates’ game. I think you will see Bates over the top and Williams/Iloka dropping down into the box more due to their more physical style. Honestly I kind of wanted another OL here but for a safety I think we got a great fit.
Grade: B
 
Sam Hubbard (6’5 270lbs):
I don’t think the team expected Hubbard to be here with this pick, but I can tell you they were thrilled to get him. On a personal note I know that Sam was watching the draft with friends and family from a local Jeff Ruby restaurant in Cincinnati (Carlo & Johnny, if you are familiar). He is a Cincinnati kid born and raised a Bengals fan, and when he got the call he absolutely lost his mind with excitement. He may not have a JJ Watt type ceiling, but he is an extremely high motor guy that is going to become a part of our pass rush rotation day 1.
Grade: A-
 
Malik Jefferson (6’3 240lbs):
Jefferson was one of the most highly regarded LB prospects coming out of highschool, but was largely disappointing in college. His impressive testing at the combine probably makes him warrant this draft position, but with how weak our LB corps are overall I would have rather seen us take a safer pick. I think he is certainly a developmental guy that has a ton of upside, but the Bengals have a history of these not working out (looking at you Margus Hunt).
Grade: C+
 
Mark Walton (5’10 202lbs):
Walton is a very athletic and quick back that profiles as a scat back at the NFL level. He has the ability to get to the 2nd level and make defenders look silly with more than enough speed to take it to the house. However, there are some questions about his pass protection and he is firmly behind Mixon and Bernard on the depth chart. This is a depth pick that I’m not sure made sense given what we have on the roster.
Grade: C-
 
Davontae Harris (5’11 205lbs):
Harris is a guy blessed with great athleticism and pretty good size for a CB, and his play style is fast and aggressive. He doesn’t mind dishing out some hits, which allows him the versatility to play some safety as well. Overall as a corner his technique and hips need some work, but his fearless nature and athleticism will have him right in the conversation for a roster spot if he can contribute on special teams. It may be a few years before he sees time on defense. Overall a solid depth pick.
Grade: B
 
Andrew Brown (6’3 296lbs):
Brown was a DE (5 technique) in college but he profiles as a DT (3 technique) in today’s NFL. That versatility is a huge plus for him, and his size and pass rushing ability gives us another potential presence pushing the interior next to Geno Atkins. Again, if you notice the theme, he is an aggressive and attacking player, further proving how the team is committed to being more physical overall. Plus, he is known as a high character guy which is always solid for a locker room.
Grade: B+
 
Darius Phillips (5’10 179lbs):
Phillips is an interesting selection. Another CB selection, though Phillips profiles as more of a slot corner than a true outside guy. Also going along with another theme, Phillips is a ball hawk with 12 INTs in the past 3 seasons in college. I think he is purely a depth pick for 2018 for defense, but his ability as a returner (5 collegiate return TDs) could get him on the 53 man roster for week 1.
Grade: B-
 
Logan Woodside (6’2 213lbs):
Woodside was taken as just another young QB camp body in the draft. With Driskel already on the roster, the signing of Barkley, and Woodside getting a DUI in early June, I’d wager there is 0% chance he makes the team. Probably going to end up being cut or a practice squad guy.
Grade: C-
 
Rod Taylor (6’3 320lbs):
Taylor came out of high school as a 5 star recruit but didn’t see much playing time until his senior season. He played RT in college but projects as a G for the Bengals. This was a great selection for the 7th round, a guy with top prospect pedigree with very little draft capital is a good decision for a team that desperately needs OL help.
Grade: B+
 
Auden Tate (6’5 228lbs):
What does Tate bring to Cincinnati? One word. Size. He is another big bodied WR who was a quality college player, but many teams had doubts about his ability to transition his game to the NFL level with his lack of speed and explosiveness. He is a red zone target guy that will be on the fringe of the roster, with my expectation being they cut him in favor of someone with a more diverse skill set.
Grade: C
 
 
Another Year of Marvin @#$%& Lewis
 
I, like pretty much every single Bengals fan that I know, was absolutely certain that last season would be the final season for Lewis in Cincinnati. But then the final few weeks of the year (when it didn’t matter) all of the sudden the team that was walking out on the field looked competent. Perhaps even more than competent, maybe even a little bit dangerous. When we closed out the year shattering the hopes and dreams of the Lions and Ravens it resulted in an unexpected turn of events: the hopes and dreams of us ushering in a new coaching regime were shattered as well. Don’t get me wrong, Lewis is a good guy and has had a lot of positive moments for the franchise but what we really need is a culture shift on a wide scale. Instead, we get another season of Lewis giving out ho-hum press conferences. We’ll see a lot of mindless clapping on the sideline when our team performs poorly, and a lot of blank stares when things don’t go our way. We’ll see atrocious clock management with the worst 2 minute drill in the history of football.
 
The prayer for myself and all of Bengals fandom is that we will see a shift with a new offense installed by OC Bill Lazor and a new version of our 4-3 defense installed by Teryl Austin. Our greatest successes were when we had great coordinators to offset Marvin’s deficiencies (Jay Gruden, Mike Zimmer, Hue Jackson) and one can only hope that this year will see similar results. It was pretty clear from our offseason moves what the team is trying to do: establish an identity. I believe that this year we will see the offense being built a lot around Joe Mixon and the run game, though our shoring up of the OL was just as much about pass protection too. Still, I think a fast paced offense built around quick throws and the run game will be what we see. On defense they were trying to get physical and disruptive playmakers to force more turnovers. That has been the calling card of Austin’s defenses to date which gives Bengals fandom reason for optimism moving into 2018.
 
 
Projected Starting Lineup:
 
Quarterback:
  • Andy Dalton. Pretty easy one here. He is a polarizing guy among fans as he is definitely no Rodgers or Brady but he is a quality starter. He can go as far as the pieces around him and as far as his coordinator can make him go. I think our skill positions are good enough to make Dalton look great, the real questions surround our offensive line. If they hold up we could see another fringe pro-bowl year from him. Projection: 4,100 yards, 26 TD, 12 INT
 
Running Back:
  • Joe Mixon. He will be our definite RB1 banger. He is an excellent between the tackles runner that put up some below average numbers last season mostly due to our absolutely atrocious OL play. I think he will put up a great season this year with the offense being built around what he can do. Projection: 250 carries for 1,150 yards, 9 TD, 40 receptions for 350 yards, 1 TD
  • Giovani Bernard. Gio is always underrated but the guy is a great weapon out of the backfield. He has between the tackles ability to spell Mixon but he will primarily be our 3rd down back. Projection: 120 carries for 500 yards, 3 TD, 55 receptions for 550 yards, 2 TD
 
H-Back:
  • Ryan Hewitt. We don’t use this position a ton but when we need to bring him in we do. He played around 11% of our snaps last season. He has shown the ability to also play TE in a pinch.
 
Tight End:
  • Tyler Eifert. He is projecting to be our starter but the real question surrounds if he will be healthy enough to contribute to the team. I have to be honest and say that I just don’t see it happening, but for the sake of the offense I hope I am wrong. Projection: 30 receptions for 350 yards and 5 TD in 10 games
  • Tyler Kroft. He really shined last year as a quality option in the passing game. A pleasant surprise to fans that were concerned following Eifert’s string of injuries. Kroft has only missed 2 games in his career, which is really what we need. Projection: 40 receptions for 380 yards and 3 TD
 
Wide Receiver:
  • AJ Green. No surprise here at all. The guy is an absolute monster, and coming off a down year I expect big things. Projection: 90 receptions for 1,350 yards, 8 TD
  • Brandon LaFell. This may be a surprise to some but I see LaFell opening the season as the WR opposite AJ. Marvin loves his veterans. This could very well end up being wrong if John Ross balls out in training camp LaFell could be a cut candidate. Thus is the life of a veteran. Projection: 40 receptions for 500 yards, 2 TD
  • Tyler Boyd. Boyd had a very solid rookie year but was mostly quiet last year with the exception of his game winning TD against Baltimore in week 17. I think he is a great slot guy and he takes a big step this year. Projection: 60 receptions for 650 yards, 5 TD
  • John Ross. No idea what to think about this guy. He could have 1,000 yards or 0. His pedigree and athleticism is there, and there has been nothing but praise for him from OTAs, but Marvin’s doghouse is tough to get out of. I’m mentioning him as I think he will contribute but before training camp I’m holding off on projections.
 
Left Tackle:
  • Cordy Glenn. We went out and got this guy and there is zero doubt that if he is healthy he will be our unquestioned starter on the left side on Sunday’s. Former LT Cedric Ogbuehi will be his primary backup and could move along the line, but I don’t see anyone challenging Glenn here.
 
Left Guard:
  • Clint Boling. Clint has been a mainstay for the Bengals since he was drafted in 2011. He is consistently above average, and offers a veteran presence to the position group.
 
Center:
  • Billy Price. The rookie was taken in the first round because he is ready to start from day 1. I think he should be a pretty safe bet to be an immediate upgrade over Bodine.
 
Right Guard:
  • Trey Hopkins. I think Hopkins is probably who ends up getting the starting gig here, but to be honest the right side of our line is kind of up in the air. Hopkins was our projected RG last year and I think this year is more of the same.
 
Right Tackle:
  • Jake Fisher. Fisher was a Bengals high draft selection that has largely struggled, and he is coming off an injury shortened season due to a heart issue. I think though that he has shown enough flashes of upside to be given one more chance to start.
 
Defensive Interior:
  • Geno Atkins. Zero argument here from anyone. He is without a doubt our best defensive player, and one of the best DL in the entire NFL. He will periodically come out for a breather but if he has his wind he is in there.
  • Chris Baker. I think Baker gets the majority of the PT next to Atkins but there is going to be a very heavy rotation here with Michael Johnson, Jordan Willis, Ryan Glasnow all getting a chance.
 
Edge:
  • Carlos Dunlap. This guy is the straw that stirs the drink for the defense. He plays loose and fun. He never developed into a Strahan type sack guy but he is an above average pass rusher, run stopper, and is consistently at the top of the league in deflections by a DE. Dunlap plays the majority of snaps.
  • Carl Lawson. One of the brightest spots for our team last year was the emergence of our 2017 4th round pick. He recorded 8.5 sacks as a rookie despite only playing 41% of our defensive snaps. If he improves his run stopping he will be a pro bowl player someday. Expect Lawson to be spelled by Jordan Willis/Michael Johnson on running downs.
 
Linebacker:
  • Vontaze Burfict. Yes he has done some shitty things on the field, but when he is out there he is one of the most intimidating and effective linebackers in the game. He will primarily play our WILL backer spot. Note he is suspended for 4 games, during that time you will likely see Vincent Rey and Jordan Evans playing here.
  • Preston Brown. The Bengals went out and got him in free agency to plug him in at MLB from day 1.
  • Nick Vigil. Our other outside LB spot is up for debate. It would seem that Jordan Evans, Malik Jefferson, and Vinny Rey could be in contention here. In the end they will all see playing time, I just think the coaches like Vigil the most overall.
 
Cornerback:
  • William Jackson III. If you don’t know who he is you better be ready to hear his name quite a bit. I think he is legitimately going to be the next big thing at cornerback. He will be covering outside. I think he is an All-Pro in waiting
  • Dre Kirkpatrick. Dre is merely an average corner, but we are paying him like a dynamo because we couldn’t afford to lose him on our defense. I’m hoping Austin can get more out of him. Kirkpatrick will be outside opposite Jackson.
  • Darqueze Dennard. We selected Dennard in the first round of the 2014 draft and for a while it looked like he was going to be a bust. He has really blossomed though into his role as a slot corner. He is quick, physical, and a great tackler.
 
Safety:
  • George Iloka. Neither of the Bengals starting safeties are your prototypical free safety, so the defense that we play doesn’t lend itself really to needing that. Jessie Bates will compete for playing time with both guys due to him being more of a ballhawking pure FS.
  • Shawn Williams. This guy is a hammer, goes for the big hit and is great at helping out the run defense. I expect to see him dropping down and playing some nickel LB with some cover 1 and cover 3 looks.
 
Kicker:
  • Randy Bullock. I don’t like him and he is garbage but we don’t have anyone that can really compete.
 
Punter:
  • Kevin Huber. Consistent, quality punter. Nothing fancy, I wrote about how he is a solid Cincy guy earlier.
 
Kick Returns/Punt Returns:
  • Alex Erickson. He has done well enough with the job, and has proven he can be a pretty reliable slot WR when called upon, too. I’d wager he keeps the job for one more year.
 
 
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses:
 
QB
Overall grade: B
 
We don’t have one of the premier guys in the league, but we have a consistent starter and a backup in Barkley that has won football games in the NFL. I think that puts us in a better than average position in regard to the rest of the league.
 
Backfield
Overall grade: B+
 
I think the 1-2 punch of Mixon/Gio could wind up being considered one of the best in the entire NFL, but they haven’t shown it yet. Homerism aside I still think they are an above average group, especially when you factor in the depth that Walton provides.
 
OL
Overall Grade: C-
 
The addition of Price and Glenn were absolutely huge for us, but we still have questions on the entire right side of the line. Not to mention that Price is still a rookie and Glenn has had injury concerns. Still, a grade of C- is much better than the grade of F that we had at this time last year.
 
Pass catchers
Overall Grade: A-
 
This is pretty easy when you have AJ Green and Eifert being the stars of your group with solid depth guys like Kroft and LaFell and Boyd, and huge upside with Ross. If Eifert goes down I’d drop the grade a bit, but still I think this is a very interesting group for us.
 
DL
Overall Grade: A
 
This is by far our best position group. Atkins and Dunlap are 2 of the best at their respective positions, and rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis showed a ton of promise. Couple that with the addition of Sam Hubbard and I think that our DL will be the highlight of our team.
 
LB
Overall Grade: C-
 
Outside of Vontaze we don’t have any guys on the roster that have played really well in a Bengals uniform. The addition of Brown helps, but we have questions with our SAM backer and very little depth. I’m disappointed that the organization didn’t do more to shore them up.
 
Secondary
Overall Grade: B
 
WJIII and Dennard are both very good players, but Kirkpatrick is prone to penalties and giving up big plays. The addition of Bates and Teryl Austin’s tutelage may help bring this unit up above their projections but overall I think they are just pretty average.
 
Special Teams
Overall Grade: C-
 
Bullock is an F. I think that our return group is pretty good and our punt team is above average as well. I’m nervous how our ST will look now that the leader of that group Cedric Peerman is no longer in Cincy.
 
 
Schedule Predictions
 
Week 1 – AT Indianapolis Colts
Prediction: Bengals 24 Colts 17 (1-0)
Summary: I think with it being Luck’s first taste of real game action in a while that the Bengals will be able to hit them in the mouth and rack up a bunch of sacks and come away from this week with a W.
 
Week 2 – VS Baltimore Ravens
Prediction: Ravens 27 Bengals 17 (1-1)
Summary: Our games against the Ravens are always hard fought games. I think that they have really improved their team this offseason and they get the better of us in this early season matchup with Alex Collins having a big day.
 
Week 3 – AT Carolina Panthers
Prediction: Panthers 21 Bengals 20 (1-2)
Summary: Carolina is a tough place to go and win games, and the Bengals have struggled to contain Cam in the past. I think it is more of the same and the Bengals come out losing.
 
Week 4 – AT Atlanta Falcons
Prediction: Falcons 31 Bengals 17 (1-3)
Summary: The Bengals are kind of reeling at this point following two really tough games on the road. The Falcons DL eats our OL alive and it is a blowout.
 
Week 5 – VS Miami Dolphins
Prediction: Bengals 27 Dolphins 7 (2-3)
Summary: AJ Green torches the Dolphins secondary and Tannehill struggles in what is a sorely needed get right game for Cincinnati.
 
Week 6 – VS Pittsburgh Steelers
Prediction: Bengals 17 Steelers 14 (3-3)
Summary: I think that this game at home is going to be a hard nosed kind of football game. Vontaze is back in the swing of things off the suspension, WJIII battling with Antonio Brown. I think that Ben throws a costly late pick that leads to a game winning field goal.
 
Week 7 – AT Kansas City Chiefs
Prediction: Bengals 24 Chiefs 14 (4-3)
Summary: I am really high on Mahomes as a starter but I think he is going to have his ebbs and flows this year. I think our DL is going to get to him early and get him rattled, and the KC defense isn’t quite what it once was.
 
Week 8 – VS Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Prediction: Bengals 27 Buccaneers 20 (5-3)
Summary: Unfortunately for Bucs fans, I think they may be in some trouble this year. I think this ends up being a game where the final score is close but it never looked that way.
 
Week 9 – BYE
 
Week 10 – VS New Orleans Saints
Prediction: Saints 24 Bengals 10 (5-4)
Summary: I think the Saints come into Cincy and control the game from start to finish with an effective running game and a sneaky good defensive effort.
 
Week 11 – AT Baltimore Ravens
Prediction: Bengals 31 Ravens 28 (6-4)
Summary: What goes together better than crazy games by AJ Green against Baltimore? AJ explodes for 170 and 2 TDs and the Bengals hold off a late onslaught by Joe Cool to get the W.
 
Week 12 – VS Cleveland Browns
Prediction: Bengals 21 Browns 10 (7-4)
Summary: The Browns are making waves in the league and playing really well, but for this game our DL wreaks havoc and we hold them to their lowest yardage output all season.
 
Week 13 – VS Denver Broncos
Prediction: Broncos 21 Bengals 17 (7-5)
Summary: I think the Broncos defense channels their Super Bowl run and Case Keenum throws it just well enough for the Broncos to squeak out a win in Cincy.
 
Week 14 – AT Los Angeles Chargers
Prediction: Chargers 28 Bengals 7 (7-6)
Summary: Our OL just flat out cant handle the pass rush of the Chargers, Melvin Gordon has a great game and the Bengals look like they are flat.
 
Week 15 – VS Las Vegas Raiders
Prediction: Bengals 31 Raiders 14 (8-6)
Summary: I think the Bengals come out angry about their sorry performance against the Chargers and blow the Raiders off the field. Mixon runs roughshod over them. The playoff hope is alive
 
Week 16 – AT Cleveland Browns
Prediction: Browns 24 Bengals 21 (8-7)
Summary: The Browns get us in Cleveland behind a great performance by Baker Mayfield, who had recently taken over for Tyrod Taylor.
 
Week 17 – AT Pittsburgh Steelers
Prediction: Steelers 31 Bengals 7 (8-8)
Summary: The Bengals go to Pittsburgh needing a win and some help to win the wild card but it is clear from the jump that the pressure is too much for them and they completely flop. They finish the season .500 and out of the playoffs.
 
 
2018 Projection Summary
 
The Bengals are an improved team from the team that went 7-9 in 2017. We didn’t lose any key contributors save Andre Smith and Russell Bodine along the line (both were bad and needed to go) and we made some upgrades at our weaker positions. Still, our head coach doesn’t have the ability to maximize what he has in front of him and remains overall a career underachiever. We play better than we did last year but our deficiencies along the offensive line and in our linebacking corps prove too much to overcome to be a playoff team. We are yet again thrust into mediocrity but with just enough solid play and hope to keep the fans and the organization wondering if the current regime has what it takes to put us in the Super Bowl before our current roster window closes.
 
Note From The Writer
 
I want to thank everyone that took the time to read this. If anyone has any questions/comments/concerns please ask in the comments and I will try to shed more light if possible. Go Bengals!
submitted by datdudebdub to nfl [link] [comments]

In the 1920s, the Ironton Tanks and Smoke House had one of the craziest rivalries in (semi-pro) football. In four years, it saw biased refs, insults from newspapers, the use of college players and even those from other teams, and a canceled year for being "too strong for the game".

The Bears and Packers. The Ravens and Steelers. Auburn and Alabama. Michigan and Ohio State.
Throughout history, these matchups have been considered among the most brutal and intense rivalries in football. The players play harder, the fans hate each other, you name it.
However, in terms of chaos and crazy events, none can compare to one Ohio-based semi-professional grudge: the Ironton Tanks and Smoke House.
Who were the Tanks?
What’s the coolest football team name you can think of? Whatever it is, it probably doesn’t beat the Ironton Tanks.
Never heard of them? I don't blame you. The Tanks were never an official NFL team, instead competing mainly on the independent circuit during the 1920s.
Ironton, Ohio, a city with a rich history of iron production, was no stranger to field a football team. In 1893, it saw its first semi-professional football team called the Irontonians.[1]
Fast forward to 1919. Some members of Ironton's two rival teams, the Irish Town Rags and the Lombards, elected to join together to form one club called the Ironton Tanks. It's a cool name, but why Tanks?[2] Having ended just a year ago, World War I was still fresh in the minds of Americans. The team consisted mostly of war veterans, while the war itself saw the debut of the tank as a slow yet very intimidating vehicle.[3] As the results on the field would eventually show, the Tanks lived up to their name. Nicknamed the "Big Red Machine" for their bright red jerseys, the team’s philosophy aptly focused on running over their opponents.
Most players were not from the area. While they were still Ohio natives, they came from other nearby counties by bus on weekends.[4] On the Tanks' inaugural roster were Charlton "Shorty" Davies and Bill Brooks. The two were ex-Ohio State players, the former playing tailback alongside Chic Harley and the latter at tackle. In Ironton, Davies was also the team’s signal caller and coach, while Brooks was the financial manager, working to schedule games and handle prices. Due to the unpredictable nature of pro football at the time, games were often scheduled as frequently as they were canceled, which led to many instances of last-second games. It was not uncommon for Brooks to clash with other team managers over scheduling disputes, but for the most part, Ironton played games against teams in nearby cities like Portsmouth.[5]
The Tanks played at Beechwood Park, a field that featured no stands and was owned by the city’s school district. In lieu of seating, fans would either stand on the sidelines (and join any fights that broke out) or watch from the trees. As a countermeasure, a fence was added surrounding the field, though it did not stop people from climbing over or crawling under it. When the Tanks scheduled stronger opponents and attracted larger crowds, the school district finally added bleachers.
The Tanks played their first game against the New Boston Tigers, winning 9–0, followed by going 1–1–1 in their next three matches against Ashland Playhouse (two games) and Portsmouth Norfolk & Western.[6] With the modest results, few turned out to attend the games. That changed in 1920 when they arranged a seven-game schedule. One of the games included taking on the original Lombards, who saw the Tanks as a threat to their local reputation. Remember that football at the time was not the business-driven monopoly it is today, but was more akin to gang warfare as teams sought to establish their reputations in their respective cities. Worried about losing their staying power in Ironton, the Lombards challenged the Tanks to a game, but were shut out 26–0.[5]
"The Tanks were something that pulled the community together," Ironton resident Harold Rolph stated. "They were something everyone talked about. The Sunday games were packed. Not only did this give the town pride in itself, but the games were social events."[2]
Glenn Presnell, who would later play for the Lions, added: "Anywhere you went and talked with people who knew football, they knew about the Ironton Tanks. We were nationally famous, and that fame reflected well on Ironton.[2]
Who was Smoke House?
Yes, that really was the team's name. Yes, by "Smoke", the name was referring to smoking tobacco.
Smoke House was a semi-pro team sponsored by a Portsmouth-based tobacco shop aptly known as the Smoke House Company. The store was a popular stop for those wishing to play pool and, well, enjoy a smoke of one of the company's "Good Cigars in Perfect Condition". It was the successor to the Portsmouth Norfolk & Western team, and many N&W players remained as their club shifted identity.[7]
Led by running back "Heckie" De Voss, the team was mediocre. In their first year in 1920, they went 3–4–3 in a schedule that mostly consisted of teams from Columbus.[7]
The Start of the Rivalry
According to Carl M. Becker, Portsmouth residents were the "ancient and hereditary foe" of Ironton, and for a city that was seeing its iron production decrease in recent years, their teams beating Portsmouth clubs helped keep town morale high. Due to this city rivalry, if the Tanks wanted to draw interest from the Ironton populace, they had to be competitive against Portsmouth-based teams like Smoke House. [7]
In their first-ever meeting in 1920, multiple fights occurred, and when the Tanks were down 6–0 late in the second half, Davies scored on a pick six to tie the game. According to a local newspaper, Davies, who had been "slightly injured and standing in street clothes on the sidelines in the first half", resembled Frank Merriwell of Yale, a popular sports fiction character at the time.[5]
The two teams arranged a second game at Beechwood Park later in the year, and the rowdy Ironton fans drew concern from Smoke House manager August Putzek, who requested a $500 payment to ensure no hooliganism would occur. Brooks turned down the demand and instead provided 15 police officers. As stated earlier, bleachers were eventually added to further prevent chaos.[7]
Leading up to the game, the two traded a list of players who had played in their first match and would be allowed to play in the rematch. However, Smoke House was accused of breaking this by adding multiple new faces, a concept known as "loading up". Technically, loading up was permitted, but only if eligibility lists had not been swapped. Regardless, the Tanks did not pursue the matter, likely out of good sportsmanship.[7]
4,000 fans attended the game, a 14–0 victory for the Tanks. With the win, Ironton newspapers took notice as they described the Tanks as "advertising" the city.[7]
1921 Game 1: Ridiculous Refereeing
For 1921, the teams scheduled another two-game card. The first ended in a scoreless tie, a game that was described as having as much intrigue as a croquet match. Despite the scoreboard, the media was still agitated as it pounced on the referees, Ray Eichenlaub and Don Hamilton, for being biased against the Tanks. During the game, Smoke House was penalized for 45 yards, while the Tanks suffered 145 yards worth. The two allegedly admitted to keeping a closer eye on Ironton. While some called for the refs to be barred from officiating future Tanks games, The *Irontonian and Pete Burke of The Ironton Register believed the two had called a fair game. The two papers also pleaded for their respective cities' fans to not cause further drama.[5][7] Despite the two newspapers' hope of maintaining a sportsmanlike mannerism, others were quick to get jabs at one another. One Portsmouth journalist pointed out Ironton fans had praised Hamilton and Eichenlaub as the “best ever” after the Tanks beat Smoke House in 1920, yet vilified them after the 1921 game.[7]
A The Portsmouth Times writer bragged about how the Tanks "lost their pepper" when they were unable to score in goal-line situations, how they "fussed among themselves" as they were "outplayed despite putting up 'real' money for 'outside' players and practicing vigorously for a month" (ironically, no one from Smoke House actually made any accusations of the Tanks breaking the eligibility list rule), and how they "sneaked off the field after the Smoke House players gave them a cheer at the game's end." The paper concluded its spiel by proclaiming the Tanks no longer had any reason to consider challenging the NFL's Canton Bulldogs.[7]
Another Times columnist described the Tanks' complaints about the referees as a "cheap squeal too disgusting to talk about", pointing out the Tanks had pleaded for Eichenlaub and Hamilton to call the game. In contrast, when Smoke House lost to Ironton in 1920, their players did not cite the officiating as a factor. They also called out the city of Ironton: "That is one potent reason why it never has gotten out of its swaddling clothes. As one reporter said Sunday, they have a courthouse, a new bridge and a real hotel and the rest you can give to the Indians.." As Becker described it, "Football was becoming a metaphor for the failure of a community to achieve progress."[7]
1921 Game 2: The Ultimate Shitshow
The Buildup
In the week leading up to the rematch, Smoke House routed their opponent, while the Tanks defeated the Lombards, who were a shell of their former selves and eventually closed down after the 1921 season, leaving the Tanks as the beloved of Ironton. The referee affair of the first game led to debate between Brooks and new Smoke House manager Harry Doerr over who would oversee the second game, eventually agreeing on Herman Beckleheimer (the head football coach at Morris Harvey), W.C. Thomas (an Ohio Conference referee), and Benton Salt (a Columbus native). The Portsmouth Sun remarked, "Perhaps now, the Tanks would stop their crying."[5][7]
With the officials now decided, one might think the game would finally be played without controversy. As it turned out, even more drama ensued long before kickoff. Rumors surfaced about the Tanks wanting to sign various Lombards, including solid running back "Hootie" North, which would violate an agreement that both teams would use the same exact rosters from the first match. Other Portsmouth newspapers reported the Tanks were interested in adding more players from other teams. Burke scoffed at the notions and described them as a "Portsmouth wail". His newspaper's editor decided to join the conversation by accusing Smoke House of submitting a fake eligibility list that excluded two players (Red Williams and Red Selby).[7]
During a practice, Davies provided the Tanks with new plays that he had picked up from West Virginia. The Portsmouth Sun saw this as not only breaking the eligibility list rule, but also unfair. However, Smoke House supported Davies as they believed him not playing would mean the Tanks were making a "cheap squawk". Ironton newspapers also pointed out there was no guarantee the Tanks would be running such plays in the game. The night prior to kickoff, Davies led his teammates in a signal drill in the middle of a city street. In Portsmouth, Smoke House spent two weeks building up their running game and offensive line. For Portsmouth fans, they expected the "highly touted Tanks" to receive "a big surprise."[7]
In the media, the atmosphere was rife with excitement. Sportswriters dubbed the matchup terms like "terrible battle", a "titanic struggle", the "greatest pigskin scrap", the "greatest conflict ever in this part of the map", and "one of the greatest struggles ever in the Ohio Valley". 3,000 tickets were printed and 800 fans from Ironton made the trip to Portsmouth; a band accompanied the Tanks fans with plans of playing a victory march for the Tanks and a funeral song for Smoke House. "The civilian population of Ironton were following their warriors to the bloody battleground to see them do their best in the conflict," Burke wrote.[7]
The Game
The game started later than usual as the Tanks arrived late. In contrast to the high hopes, the game was far less exciting as the Tanks' new playbook saw little effect and Smoke House struggled mightily on offense. With less than four minutes remaining in the game, the Tanks were up 14–0 and in position to increase their lead. However, the field was starting to become too dark to continue playing. Smoke House's coach, West Point graduate Dan Fries, refused to send the team out under such conditions, which the refs took as their intention to forfeit, resulting in a 1–0 Tanks win. Outraged, fans fought in the stands, while Doerr refused to give Ironton their 40 percent share of the ticket gate (about $1,600) as previously agreed. One Ironton newspaper described the decision as the "cheapest, rankest, lowdowned, crawfishiest, most childish, utterly despicable trick of the whole affair [...]. This marks the Portsmouth football team as a bunch of quitters, too unsportsmanlike for words."[5][7]
More drama occurred as further details unraveled. According to one newspaper, Ironton quarterback Art Hall was really Marshall College quarterback and former Ashland Tiger Art Hammond, a blatant violation of the rule that prohibited professional teams from using college players still in school. This revelation was discovered by Smoke House captain Lonnie Chinn, but he did not report it to officials since Tanks tackle Bill Schachleiter denied the accusation and he felt Hammond was never much of a good player during his time at Ashland. As the game progressed, Chinn realized Tanks halfback Earle Shannon and tackle Ashby Blevins were both from other teams, which broke the eligibility list rule.[5] Blevins was playing under the name of fellow Tank Howard Fritz, while Shannon was not only playing as former Lombard Nate Ball, but was attending Morris Harvey College. One Portsmouth writer proclaimed the Tanks had arrived late on purpose to prevent outsiders from seeing through the ruse.[7]
The Tanks defended their actions as Smoke House had done the same in 1920, and hired lawyer Edgar Miller (a Portsmouth native) to sue them, though he never did so. To further add fuel to the fire, Schachleiter said an anonymous Portsmouth man had given Hammond $200 to send the Tanks' plays to Smoke House, while four men from Ironton had arranged for the three ringers to play for the Tanks before betting $5,000 on them.[5]
The Fallout
For Portsmouth fans, they saw the incident as a chance to become the sentimental favorites. The Portsmouth Times wrote the Smoke House roster did not earn salaries and were playing for the love of football and their city, which the latter reciprocated with admiration of their own. The Times ragged on the Tanks by saying they did not sign local players out of worry for losing to Smoke House's homegrown talent, instead signing college stars and dropping them into debt. In a desperate attempt to save funding and appeal to Irontonians, the paper added, the Tanks held "Boosters' Days". The writer concluded by saying if Ironton wanted a professional football team, they should have recruited the NFL's Dayton Triangles or Columbus Panhandles to play for them.[7]
Doerr continued to maintain his stance of not paying the Tanks for a month, but Portsmouth Times editor Harry Taylor pointed out Smoke House could have simply stopped playing upon finding out about the Tanks' ringers. Instead, they kept playing, so out of sportsmanship, the payment should go through. Eventually, Raymond Saddler took over as Smoke House's manager and paid $725 to the Tanks.[5]
The fiasco resulted in Ironton newspapers lobbying for their local teams to never play against opponents in Portsmouth, though they urged the Tanks to continue playing Smoke House for the sake of the rivalry. The Jackson Bearcats, who had scheduled a game against Smoke House, promptly called it off.[7] The Ironton Times even brought high schools into the conversation by remarking about the cockiness of Portsmouth High School football players prior to a game against Chillicothe High, followed by returning to Portsmouth in total silence.
Although a series was arranged for 1922, new Smoke House manager Dick McKinney called it off as he felt the "rivalry was too strong for the game." In their place, the Tanks played against West Virginia's Huntington Boosters in a more benign three-game slate that ended with two Ironton wins and a tie.[5]
1923 and 1924: The Final Years
For 1923, Smoke House decided to resume the rivalry. The first game ended with a 40–0 shutout in favor of Ironton. New Smoke House coach Sam Ackroyd was quick to ignite the flames for the rematch when he proclaimed "the Tanks are going to be squashed, emptied, shot-full of holes and flattened."[5]
In an event that sounds like something out of a movie, Davies, Brooks, and teammate Clarence Poole were missing for pre-game warmups as they were attending a Notre Dame game. Meanwhile, a moving truck arrived on the field; in the truck were members of the Columbus West Side Club, whom the Tanks had defeated earlier in the year, now playing for Smoke House. Davies, Brooks, and Poole eventually showed up on time to lead a 21–6 victory, a win that some remarked counted double as their opponent featured players from two teams.[5]
1924 saw the final year of games between the two, ending with a 44–0 Ironton win and a 0–0 tie.[6]
Smoke House's Demise and Future Portsmouth Teams
In 1925, Smoke House was shut out 35–0 against the Huntington Boosters and eventually shut down operations, though the city would not be permanently left without football as the Portsmouth Presidents were formed in 1926. The Presidents renewed the rivalry with the Tanks, but lost both games, with the second being a 33–0 defeat.[8]
The Presidents were replaced by the Shoe Steels (sponsored by the Selby Shoe Company and Whitaker Glessner Steel Mills) in 1927; although it retained several former Smoke House and Presidents players, the team also signed Jim Thorpe as a playecoach. Despite his popularity and legacy in the sports world, the 40-year-old and injury-prone Thorpe was in the twilight years of his athletic career. He missed the season opener with a foot infection (a Shoe Steels 13–0 victory over Columbus' Rochester Clothiers). A week later, he made his debut as a fullback against the Bobb Chevrolets, but his team lost 12–0.[8]
By the start of November, the Shoe Steels were 4–2 and had the support of various NFL veterans like tackle Russ Hathaway and guard/line coach Walter Jean. On November 6, the Shoe Steels faced the undefeated Tanks, but suffered another shutout in an 18–0 loss.[8][9]
The Shoe Steels rebounded to win their next three games, including a 32–0 revenge victory against the Chevrolets, to put them in title contention as the season finale against the Ashland Armcos approached.[9] To bolster the roster for the game, the team signed Packers running backs Rex Enright and Pid Purdy. Neither of them would play in the game as they were involved in a car accident that ended their football careers. The Shoe Steels tried to salvage the situation by adding more Packers players, backs Red Dunn and Eddie Kotal, both of whom made it to Portsmouth safely. However, the team faced another predicament: this time, Thorpe was gone. The contract he had signed with the Shoe Steels was for ten games... and the Ashland match was Game #11. Thorpe left for Marion, Ohio to run his dog kennel, leading to Jean become the de facto head coach. With Thorpe gone, the Shoe Steels lost 7-6.[8]
In 1928, the Shoe Steels rebranded once more to become the Spartans.[8] That year, the team played three games against the Tanks, tying twice and losing the third 14–0.[10] A year later, Portsmouth finally defeated the Tanks in a 38–0 blowout.[11] At the turn of the decade, the Spartans joined the NFL. Today, the team is known as the Detroit Lions.
Ironton's NFL Challenges and Shutdown
Meanwhile in Ironton, the Tanks were developing a rap across the country. In 1925, the Tanks played their first game against a National Football League team when they took on the Bulldogs. Sitting at 9–0, they were confident entering the game, but the two-time NFL champs shut them out 12–0. Later games were mixed bags, but 1930 saw perhaps their biggest accomplishment: they defeated two NFL powerhouses, the New York Giants and Chicago Bears.[6]
The Tanks shut down following the 1930 season, ending their 11-year existence with a final record of 86–19–14.[4] Many of their players later joined NFL rosters; for example, quarterback Carl Brumbaugh would help lead the Bears to the 1932 and 1933 NFL championships.[5] Presnell joined the Spartans and was the NFL's scoring leader in 1933.[4]
A historical marker stands where the Tanks played.
References
[1] Ironton-Martins Ferry have many gridiron similarities from The Times-Leader, November 5, 2014
[2] WHEN THE TANKS WERE TOPS
[3] 'Seen enough, remember a lot' by Will Grimsley, Lead Daily Call, January 8, 1982
[4] THE IRONTON TANKS: 1919-30 by Thomas S. Nikitas, The Coffin Corner
[5] The "Famous" Ironton Tanks by Carl M. Becker, The Coffin Corner
[6] Ironton Tank Game Results, Ironton Football
[7] Ringers Three: The Ironton Tanks versus the Portsmouth Smoke House, 1921 by Carl M. Becker, Journal of Sport History
[8] THORPE'S FAREWELL SEASON by Bob Gill, The Coffin Corner
[9] 1927 Portsmouth Shoe Steels, Pro Football Archives
[9] 1928 Portsmouth Spartans, Pro Football Archives
[9] 1929 Portsmouth Spartans, Pro Football Archives
submitted by ZappaOMatic to nfl [link] [comments]

Michigan hasn't quite gotten over the hump. Since Jim Harbaugh arrived prior to the 2015 season, the Wolverines have had three 10-win seasons, but haven't made the Big Ten Championship or reached the College Football Playoff. Those goals have been on the table in the regular-season finale against Ohio State twice. Ohio State-Michigan betting line history Updated Nov 27, 2019; Posted Nov 27, 2019 Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith runs during the 2004 OSU-Michigan game won by Ohio State as an underdog. College Football Odds - Live College Football Betting Lines. July 15, 2020 - Compare and find the best College Football spreads and lines anywhere on the internet! UConn pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history in 2014 year with a 63-53 win as 7-point underdogs to Florida, and in 2015 Wisconsin beat an undefeated Kentucky team. According to our partners at Oddsshark, Ohio State opens as 20-point favorites over Michigan. The Wolverines are reeling after a horrific 23-16 loss to Maryland whereas the Buckeyes went on to an

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