Category Archives: NFL

Sorry Washington, Kirk Cousins is a Mediocre Quarterback

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

The Washington Redskins thought they had found their QB of the future when they drafted Robert Griffin III 2nd overall in 2012, little did they know their actual future quarterback, Kirk Cousins, would be drafted three rounds later.

Cousins is a decent NFL quarterback, he would be a starter on a lot of teams, but he’s going to get a Brock Osweiler type deal (probably more honestly) from someone, probably the Redskins, this offseason. He’s just not worth it, and last night showed why.

Cousins is one of the highest paid quarterbacks in football this season by virtue of his $19.9 million franchise tag, and contract negotiations have begun with figures around the $24 million mark. That would make Cousins the third highest paid quarterback in football behind Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. Does anyone think Cousins is the third best quarterback in football?

It’s pretty simple, good quarterbacks put up numbers, great quarterbacks win games. Cousins has put up great numbers this season, he’s thrown for 4,350 yards (Second in NFL) with 23 touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions.

But when his team needed him most, he couldn’t even beat the lowly Carolina Panthers. This was Kirk Cousin’s chance to prove himself, a must win home game in primetime against a bad team, and he couldn’t do it. Cam Newton wasn’t spectacular, but he did enough to win the game, that’s what great quarterbacks do.

The numbers were decent last night for Cousins, as they usually are, 32-47 for 315 yards, but he failed to throw a touchdown pass and the Redskins lost 26-15.

A loss to the 6-8 mess that is the 2016 Carolina Panthers is just unacceptable for a team in the thick of the playoff race, and unacceptable for a quarterback trying to take that next step.

Cousins is going to get paid, there simply isn’t a better option, but he hasn’t showed me anything to make him deserving, he’s going to get paid by default. Cousins strikes me as another Matt Stafford, a good quarterback with a big arm who has no chance to win anything ever.

Lions fans will argue about all the comebacks Stafford has made in his career, how he’s an excellent fourth quarter quarterback, but Stafford couldn’t even win a playoff game with the best wide receiver of this generation.

Cousins has weapons, DeSean Jackson can still get it done and Jordan Reed is an excellent tight end when healthy, but you need intangibles to win in the NFL Playoffs, and Cousins just doesn’t have it.

Redskins fans go ahead and argue with me, but Kirk Cousins is simply mediocre, and he proved it last night.

Patriots Survive a Wild One in Primetime

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Well a win is a win I guess. The Patriots defeated the Ravens 30-23 on Monday night, but this one should’ve been a blowout. New England came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, special teams and defense led to an early safety, and Tom Brady and the offense was rolling.

Mr. Checkdown Joe Flacco refused to throw the ball more than ten yards downfield in the first half as the Patriots cruised to a 16-3 halftime lead. It should’ve been about 30-3 at halftime, but referee Ed Hochuli took away a Trey Flowers strip sack and a Devin McCourty INT return.

But it all came unraveled for New England when Cyrus Jones muffed a punt which led to a Ravens’ score, followed by Matthew Slater fumbling the ensuing kickoff leading to yet another Baltimore touchdown.

Just when it looked like it was going to be a New England blowout, Flacco had his troops ready to upset Brady and Belichick again.

But that’s why Tom Brady has four Super Bowl rings and Flacco has been stuck on neutral ever since his one Super Bowl. Brady looked off one of the best safeties in the league in Eric Weddle and found Chris Hogan down the seam for the dagger touchdown, putting the Patriots up 30-20 with 6 minutes left.

This was a big win for the Patriots, you expect Brady and Belichick to win games at home against decent quarterbacks in December, and that’s what they did. They’ve yet to show me that this team is Super Bowl caliber, there are lots of issues to address, but there’s still time.

There were lots of positives from this game, Brady was flawless apart from one play. When Brady found Martellus Bennett on a fade route in the end zone on the first possession of the second half the game appeared over at 23-3. The Patriots were blowing out a good team in primetime.

But the special teams issues were paramount, and for New England it starts with Cyrus Jones. Jones had a rough night, not just returning punts, but he also let up a long pass to Breshad Perriman. He was replaced in coverage by Jonathan Jones, an undrafted rookie out of Auburn, and Jones looked better in limited action.

There were people on Twitter calling for Cyrus Jones to be cut last night, and that’s crazy. The Patriots aren’t going to give up on their second round pick just yet. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve probably seen the last of Cyrus Jones returning punts this season, but Belichick can still use him in coverage.

It was a big win, but this team still has a long way to go.

 

 

 

Hear Me Out: Odell Beckham Jr. is the Best Player in the NFL

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

We all know the NFL is a quarterback league, you can’t win without a top-tier quarterback in today’s game, just ask the Cleveland Browns. The last ten Super Bowl winning quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning. All competent quarterbacks.

However a quarterback’s success is often determined by his weapons, today’s crop of top receivers is largely better than it has ever been. However there’s one talent that stands above the rest, Odell Beckham Jr.

Ever since the moment he first stepped on an NFL field as a rookie, he has been the best player in the league. In just 38 games, Beckham has 252 catches, 3,670 yards and 33 touchdowns. That is simply unheard of. He caught 91 balls for over 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 12 games as a rookie in 2014.

I would consider Julio Jones and Antonio Brown to be the second and third best receivers in the league (in no particular order). Jones is having an excellent season this year and has eclipsed 1500 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. Brown meanwhile is also coming off back to back 1500 yard seasons and had 1,499 receiving yards in 2013.

On paper the stat comparisons between Jones, Brown, and Beckham are largely comparable, however when you dig a bit deeper into the teams they play for, and how other teams gameplan against them, you see a much larger discrepancy.

The Steelers defense is mediocre at best, but they have weapons all over the field on offense. Ben Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer and is still one of the best quarterbacks in football at age 34. Former Auburn receiver Sammie Coates has proven to be a legitimate number two receiver this season, and is a threat to go deep on any play. And LeVeon Bell has been a monster in the backfield since he came out of Michigan State.

The Atlanta Falcons’ offense more closely resembles that of the New York Giants, but there are still weapons around Julio Jones. Matt Ryan may struggle in big games, and he may not be the most flashy QB, but you know exactly what you are going to get from Matt Ryan. He’s a low ceiling, high floor type guy, and is a top ten quarterback in the NFL.

Unlike the Giants, the Falcons have talent on defense, Vic Beasley has taken a step forward in his second season out of Clemson and Desmond Trufant has been excellent in coverage. Meanwhile Devonta Freeman rushed for over 1000 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

When you gameplan to face the New York Giants, you have one job, stop number 13. That has been the case since the day Odell first stepped on the field, and yet the Giants are 8-3. Eli Manning is likely headed to the Hall of Fame thanks to his two Super Bowl victories, but those were thanks to historically good defenses and answered prayers by David Tyree and Mario Manningham.

Apart from two big games against the Patriots, Eli Manning is nothing more than an average NFL quarterback. Sterling Shephard has started to emerge as a number two wideout, but I need to see more from him. Landon Collins has been excellent on defense, but he plays safety, not exactly a game changing position. To make matters worse, the Giants have no running game.

Does anyone think the Giants are actually any good? I certainly don’t think so. The Giants are 8-3 thanks to the best player in the NFL, Odell Beckham Jr.

Weekend Roundup: Patriots Survive, Ohio State Wins a Wild One, Iron Bowl Disappointment

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Well it was quite the weekend in both College and Professional football. We got a better idea of the four best teams in college football, while the NFL playoff picture didn’t really get any clearer with the Patriots and Raiders both barely beating mediocre teams.

No. 1 Alabama 30, No. 13 Auburn 12

We’ll start with the biggest SEC rivalry game, the Iron Bowl. The outcome of this one was largely predetermined, the Tide came in as the clear cut number one team and would be playing at home against a depleted Auburn squad.

With starting quarterback Sean White and top corner Josh Holsey both out due to injury, and with SEC leading rusher Kamryn Pettway running on one leg, the Tigers didn’t stand much of a chance in this one.

The defense kept them in it for a half, and John Franklin III provided a bit of a spark in the second half, but it was an excellent win for the Tide in a game that was closer than the score would indicate.

The Tigers will likely finish their season in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans while the Crimson Tide looked to have locked up a spot in the College Football Playoff.

No. 2 Ohio State 30, No. 5 Michigan 27 (Final/2OT)

Well when two top five teams go at it this late in the season, you’re bound to have some fireworks. Combine that with one of the biggest rivalries in the sport, and you’ve got controversy just waiting to happen.

The Buckeyes survived a double overtime thriller to knock off their arch-rivals and likely clinch their spot in the College Football Playoff.

I still think JT Barrett was stopped short on that fourth down play in OT, but the Buckeyes got it done when it mattered most.

That play showed what an advantage having Urban Meyer on the sideline gives the Buckeyes. A lesser coach trots his kicker out there in that situation to try and tie the game. But Meyer used his head, he said I’m going to put the ball in my hands of my star QB rather than my struggling kicker and play to win this game.

I think the Buckeyes are a top four team in the country, I think Michigan is as well but they won’t be in the playoff, Michigan can keep blaming the officials, but the turnovers cost them that game, not the refs.

Patriots 22, Jets 17

Tom Brady was playing on one leg, Rob Gronkowski left the game in the first quarter with a back injury (shocker), the Jets played what was by far their best game of the season in what was their Super Bowl, and the Jets still couldn’t find a way to beat the Patriots.

Great teams win these types of games, great teams go on the road with all your star players injured and beat teams that have nothing to lose. Brady struggled mightily yesterday, but he willed his teammates to steal that game on the road.

It’s crazy how far Darrelle Revis has fallen, two years ago he was the difference maker for a Patriots team that won a Super Bowl title. However Revis struggled in Super Bowl XLIX, he got torched by Doug Baldwin and had to be bailed out by an undrafted rookie from West Alabama named Malcolm Butler.

He then signed with the Jets for huge money, and has been a shell of himself ever since. Revis is headed to Canton one day, but yesterday was not his best game. Brady went straight at Revis with rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, and Mitchell flat out beat Revis one-on-one twice for touchdowns.

Not the best day for the Patriots, but a win is a win, especially on the road in the NFL. Now they’ve got a date with the Rams and rookie QB Jared Goff at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, a good chance to get everyone healthy.

Raiders 35, Panthers 32

I never thought I’d say this, and I picked the Raiders to win the AFC West this season, but the Raiders reminded me a lot of the New England Patriots yesterday.

Derek Carr is becoming more of a superstar with every passing week, and playing through a dislocated finger and getting a win over a Panthers team that isn’t as bad as everyone thinks was his best performance to date.

I know the Panthers’ record isn’t good, but they have an excellent quarterback, a competent coach, and two superstar linebackers. They are better than their record suggests.

I only watched one possession of this game yesterday, the last one, and it looked like Cam was going to throw it back to his days on the Plains at Auburn before Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack took over.

The Raiders are an excellent football team, they have a stellar offense led by Carr and Amari Cooper, and the sight of Mack and Irvin rushing the passer could have Brady shaking in his boots.

As long as they don’t beat themselves, the Raiders are the Patriots biggest road block between here and Super Bowl LI in Houston.

 

Election Recap 2016: How It All Went Down

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

I’d like to preface this piece by saying that my goal here is to recap the election and how the events of last night and this morning occurred, I will try to keep my stance as objective as possible. Also, as this is a sports blog, I’m going to draw as much of a connection between sports and politics as I can.

Well American politics had their Super Bowl last night, just as they do every four years. Coming into the election, Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to defeat Donald Trump in the race for the White House. However, as every sports fan knows, it’s never over until it’s officially over.

Trump was a heavy underdog coming in, and needed pretty much every swing state to go his way. One by one the dominoes began to fall, and while it took until the early hours of Wednesday morning and finished as one of the closest elections in history, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America. The final tally had Trump defeating Hillary Clinton 279-228 in electoral votes.

This election was always going to come down to Trump’s ability to crack what experts called “The big blue wall.” In other words, Trump was going to need to win states that traditionally voted Blue.

The Trump camp first gained hope when word came out that Trump had won the swing state of Florida and its 29 electoral votes. The first must-win swing state had gone Trump’s way. And as the night went on, more and more states swung in favor of Trump.

When things were all set and done, Trump had emerged victorious in the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin. We knew that Trump was likely going to need a clean sweep of these states to have any chance of winning the White House, except no one thought he would actually do it.

This will go down as one of the biggest upsets in American history. Think Giants over Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, or Villanova over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA basketball National Championship.

Let’s stick with this Patriots-Giants comparison, I thought long and hard of how I was going to compare this election to sports, and this is what I’ve come up with. This scenario won’t match perfectly with history, as Brady comes out victorious in 2016, but bear with me on this one.

Trump and Clinton could be considered very similar to the two quarterbacks in this analogy.

In one corner you’ve got Hillary Clinton, who has stepped out of the shadow of Bill Clinton and is now hoping for her own time in the spotlight. This is just like Eli Manning, Eli was hoping to step out of his brother Peyton’s shadow and make a name for himself.

In the other corner you’ve got Donald Trump, beloved by some, but hated by many. Just like Tom Brady, Brady is largely hated outside New England, but inside he is one of the most cherished figures in history. Trump is beloved in rural America, but in big cities, his appeal falls well short of that of Clinton.

It seems like no matter what happens on or off the field, Tom Brady just finds a way to win, and that’s exactly what Donald Trump did in this election. When everyone was hating on Tom Brady for Deflategate, he found a way to defeat Seattle and win Super Bowl XLIX. When everyone was hating on Donald Trump, he found a way to break down the big blue wall and win the Presidency.

The reaction on social media to Trump’s victory was one largely filled with hatred and disgust. If this election doesn’t prove what a small sample social media represents than I don’t know what will. If you only saw the reaction on Facebook and Twitter, you would’ve thought that Clinton won in a landslide.

The reality is that America wanted change, and they were going to get it no matter what. I have to give Trump credit here, he knew exactly what he was doing. He cast himself not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American, and as an American who would change the current state of America.

When we first think of America we think of the white collar major cities. We think of New York, Boston, Chicago, LA. But where Trump won this election is with blue collar rural America, places like Wisconsin, Iowa, Alabama, and rural Pennsylvania.

Time will tell how Donald Trump goes down in history, but for one night Trump won over America. He did what all good quarterbacks and presidential candidates do, he found a way to win when it mattered most.

 

 

 

NFL Sunday Recap: Raiders Proving They Belong, Chiefs Continue Surge, No One Wants to Win the AFC North

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

With the Patriots on a bye, Sunday was a good day to remind ourselves of just how mediocre the rest of the NFL is.

Ravens (4-4) 21, Steelers (4-4) 14

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Does anyone want to win the AFC North? The Steelers were hoping to get a boost with Big Ben returning from a knee injury, but instead they took a tough loss to the lowly Ravens. With Roethlisberger at less than 100 percent, Pittsburgh needed star Running Back LeVeon Bell to step up, but he had just 32 yards on 14 carries.

Mike Wallace had himself a nice day for the Ravens with 124 yards and a touchdown on four catches.

The Ravens’ win means Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati are all within a half game of each other in the AFC North, setting up what should be a good battle down the stretch.

Cowboys (7-1) 35, Browns (0-7) 10

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Not much to say here, the Cowboys are looking more and more like a true Super Bowl contender every week and are tied with the Patriots for the best record in football at 7-1.

Meanwhile in Cleveland, the Browns are unable to take advantage of the good vibes coming their way from the Indians and Cavs, as they fall to 0-7.

Chiefs (6-2) 19, Jaguars (2-6) 14

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford (55)

Former Auburn Linebacker Dee Ford is making a huge impact with the Chiefs

While all the talk in the AFC West has been about the battle between the Broncos and Raiders, the Chiefs have quietly kept themselves squarely in the mix.

Backup QB Nick Foles led the Chiefs to their fourth straight win, and with Alex Smith set to return next week, don’t sleep on Kansas City.

I know the Jags did okay last year, but changes need to be made. They’re wasting the talent of Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson. Gus Bradley needs to be fired yesterday.

Dolphins (4-4) 27, Jets (3-6) 23

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The battle for second place in the AFC East is on, and just when you want to say the Dolphins are terrible, they miraculously come up with a win just to keep your hopes up. But come on, they barely beat a Jets team that’s on its third quarterback.

The Dolphins still believe in Ryan Tannehill, and he’s keeping them somewhat competitive at 4-4, but .500 isn’t good enough when Tom Brady is in your division, it might be time to move on. Then again, there isn’t exactly a better option out there.

The Jets have the makings of a good team, we saw that last season, but you’re not going to win with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, or Bryce Petty. Look for the Jets to go hard after Tony Romo or Jay Cutler, should they be available in a potential trade.

Giants (5-3) 28, Eagles (4-4) 23

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In what turned into a battle of talent and potential vs experience, Eli Manning and the veteran New York Giants came out on top. Odell Beckham Jr. scored two more touchdowns, and Eli Manning did just enough to keep the Giants within reach of the Cowboys in the NFC East.

The Carson Wentz pandemonium was fun while it lasted, but let’s not forget he’s still a rookie quarterback fresh out of North Dakota State. He certainly has potential, but he’s been reliant on the Eagles’ excellent defense so far, and might just be a year or two away.

Lions (5-4) 22, Vikings (5-3) 16 (OT)

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The Lions are the most confusing team in the NFL, one week Stafford looks like an MVP candidate, the next week they lose to a Houston that isn’t nearly as good as their 5-3 record suggests. But this was a big win for a team in a mediocre division.

While the Vikings hot start was fun while it lasted, Xavier Rhodes and Eric Kendricks had that defense flying off to a 5-1 start. But two straight losses to the Bears and Lions have reminded us that you can only go so far with Sam Bradford as your quarterback and with your all-pro running back out with a knee injury.

Much like the AFC North, the NFC North is proving to be a mediocre division. We thought the Vikings would run away with it, but two straight losses have put the North very much up for grabs.

Panthers (3-5) 13, Rams (3-5) 10 

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No team can start 1-5 and still make the playoffs right? After an abysmal start that saw Cam Newton get clobbered and a defense that looked nothing like last year’s NFC champions, the Panthers have begun to turn things around.

After a convincing win over the Arizona Cardinals last week, the Panthers found a way to win this week. This was the type of game you expect good times to grind out and win, and Carolina did that. With Cam Newton healthy, and Atlanta seemingly destined to fall apart, look out for Carolina down the stretch.

The Rams looked to have found their identity last year with powerful running back Todd Gurley turning in a huge rookie year and a bruising defense that drew comparisons to their counterparts in Seattle. But they’ve taken a step back this year. Lackluster quarterback play has fans booing Case Keenum and calling for Jared Goff, and Gurley’s steep decline proves that you can’t rely on a Running Back in today’s NFL.

Saints (4-4) 41, 49ers (1-7) 23

NFL: New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers

Drew Brees is well past his prime, but he’s still putting up huge numbers, and a solid running game and two young stud receivers in Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas is keeping the Saints competitive at 4-4.

Man how San Francisco has fallen since Harbaugh left, their quarterback gets more attention for his National Anthem protests than his play, and their coach is still answering to rumors about returning to coach Oregon. I told you they never should’ve traded Alex Smith.

Chargers (4-5) 43, Titans (4-5) 35

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This game was a battle between two mediocre teams, but there was interesting young talent all over the field.

They lost a shootout yesterday, but Marcus Mariota is proving that he should be the Titans’ QB of the future, and with Demarco Murray returning to form and a solid defense, the Titans are very much in the AFC South race at 4-5.

While San Diego is well behind the other three teams in their division, Melvin Gordon has cemented himself as the top running back from the 2015 class, and future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers (that’s right, look at the numbers) is still putting up big numbers. Hopefully they can get themselves a defense before Rivers retires.

Colts (4-5) 31, Packers (4-4) 26

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We all know how bad the Colts are, but sometimes a good quarterback is all you need, and when he’s protected, Andrew Luck is a once in a generation talent. Going into Lambeau is always an excellent win, and Luck got that done by himself. Luck is doing just enough to keep the Colts competitive in the AFC South.

I can’t quite place exactly what’s wrong with the Green Bay Packers. They have all the talent they need to compete for a Super Bowl berth, and with the Vikings missing players left and right this should be Green Bay’s division to lose.

But close losses to Atlanta last week and Indy this week have me thinking a little something is off in the land of the Cheeseheads.

Raiders (7-2) 30, Broncos (6-3) 20

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Derek Carr is looking more like an MVP candidate by the week, and is setting himself up to make a lot of money was Oakland signs him to a contract extension.

With Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray as Carr’s primary weapons on offense, and Khalil Mack leading a solid defense, the Raiders are a forced to be reckoned with in the AFC. We knew the Raiders were a solid team this year, but a statement win over Denver on Sunday Night Football is the boost of confidence this team needed.

We know defense wins championships, and Denver has a historically good defense, but how long can they keep winning with Trevor Siemian is their quarterback. Is Siemian and that defense good enough to beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? I doubted them last year and I’m doubting them again, it’s time for Siemian to step up.

 

 

Patriots Trade Jamie Collins to Browns

The NFL is not a league that is typically associated with blockbuster trades. However with Tuesday’s trade deadline looming, the Patriots dropped a bombshell, trading star LB Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns.

In return, the Patriots receive a compensatory third round draft pick, which in reality could be a fourth round pick as compensatory picks come at the end of the round.

This is yet another move that will be greeted harshly by Patriots Nation. And while it can certainly be questioned, the logic makes sense.

I know Collins is an incredible talent, he’s made plays we’ve never seen a New England player make. I’m sure the Patriots would’ve loved to keep him around, at the right price.

Collins is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season and was reportedly not even close to agreeing to a contract extension with the Patriots.

Given what the Patriots received in return, it would’ve made sense to let Collins play out the season and then leave in free agency.

However it was clear Collins was beginning to fall out of favor with Bill Belichick. There were too many times where Collins was freelancing on defense and getting beat.

After playing every snap of the Patriots’ first four games, Collins’ snaps have dropped in every game sense. Collins played just 62 percent of New England’s defensive snaps in yesterday’s win over Buffalo.

According to Adam Schefter, Collins was asking for Von Miller money from the Patriots, and Bill Belichick was never going to pay that.

Collins, Donta Hightower, Chandler Jones, and Malcolm Butler were all set to become free agents after this season. Given their salary cap situation, the patriots could only sign two of them to extensions.

There were going to be hard decisions to make, but I believe New England made the right choice. By trading Jones and Collins, the door is open for Belichick to sign Malcolm butler and Dont’a Hightower.

There is no question Hightower is the more important piece on defense. He’s the captain of the defense, wears the green dot to communicate with the sideline, he does it all.

Collins is an excellent talent, but he’s not a leader like Hightower.

We’ve seen Belichick do this before, this is the same guy who traded Randy Moss, Richard Seymour and Logan Mankins. And time will tell if he’s right on this one.

In the meantime, Barkevious Mingo and Kyle Van Noy, you guys are the next men up, time to do your jobs. Let’s go win a Super Bowl.

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