The 2018 Aaron It Out NFL Preview!

Hello, August. Fall is not in the air, kids are complaining about not wanting to go back to school (as are teachers!), but football is right around the corner!

Continue reading “The 2018 Aaron It Out NFL Preview!”

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Aaron It Out: Top One Hah-ndred

Despite making it to the AFC Championship game, and probably winning it if one play had not been stupidly officiated (Myles Jack Wasn’t Down), the Jaguars did not have any players above the rank of 14 in the player-voted “NFL Top 100.”

Here’s why the players are wrong.

For the record, here are the rankings of the Jaguars players that appear on the list:

  • 14. Calais Campbell
  • 17. Jalen Ramsey
  • 35. (are you kidding me) A.J. Bouye
  • 58. Leonard Fournette
  • 67. Telvin Smith
  • 88. Yannick Ngakoue

Six players on the list, out of a hundred, out of 32 teams, out of 1,696 possible entries. Not bad! But the ranking is crap.  Let’s look at numbers thirteen through one.

  1. At Thirteen, DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: The player that both A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey shut down in both of their matchups last season, ranks ahead of them. How does this make sense? It doesn’t.
  2. At Twelve, Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers: Did he stay healthy all year? Nope. However, he is a pretty good defensive player. I agree with him being probably on the same level as Calais and Jalen.
  3. At Eleven, Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: And it’s the top 20 so we’re gonna start falling all over ourselves to praise the QBs. Wilson had 11 interceptions last year. 3 of those were in the December 10th game against the Jaguars. How did this oh so great player end each of his drives against the Jags in that game? Punt, punt, punt, INT, missed FG, INT, FG, TD, punt, INT, TD, TD, downs. Are you kidding me?
  4. At Ten, Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Okay. Rodgers is probably one of the all-time greats. But he got injured last year and was out, what, half the season? How is he on here?
  5. At Nine, Von Miller, DE, Broncos: Am I the only one who remembers the Broncos sucked last year?
  6. At Eight, Drew Brees, QB, Saints: He’s getting old. I guess I agree with this one.  He did play pretty good football once the Saints got like four games into the season and figured out what they were doing.
  7. At Seven, Aaron Donald, DE, Rams: The Rams were one of the only teams that gave the Jags trouble last year.  I respect this ranking.
  8. At Six, Todd Gurley, RB, Rams: 2017 Offensive Player of the Year, 1,305 yards rushing – I guess I can kind of agree with this one too.
  9. At Five, Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: lol

  1. At Four, Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: I mean, ok? Man, there’s not a lot of wide receivers at the top of this list.
  2. At Three, Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles: A big reason Philly went to the playoffs this year. Okay.
  3. At Two, Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: One of the only players to actually beat the Jags’ corners on a few plays this year.  I can respect this.
  4. At One, Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: No.

 

Okay! So, yeah, that sucked, and why is Tom Brady ranked so high? Is everyone scared of him or something? Myles Jack wasn’t down.

Here’s my rankings, voted on by me, for the top 20 players of 2017. I’ll do them in reverse order to keep you scrolling.

  • 20. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
  • 19. Cameron Jordan, DE, Saints
  • 18. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
  • 17. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars
  • 16. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
  • 15. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
  • 14. Everson Griffin, DE, Vikings
  • 13. Khalil Mack, DE, Raiders
  • 12. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
  • 11. Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
  • 10. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
  • 9. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
  • 8. A.J. Bouye, CB, Jaguars
  • 7. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
  • 6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 5. Aaron Donald, DE, Rams
  • 4. Calais Campbell, DE, Jaguars
  • 3. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
  • 2. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jaguars
  • 1. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

I know, I know, there’s four Jaguars on there, but they had a great year last year. One of the best defenses in the league and Fournette had more yards than the offensive rookie of the year, Alvin Kamara.  Agree or disagree, we need to get off the Tom Brady number one wagon and let some of the new stars shine.

Aaron It Out: The Dead Zone

We’ve made it, folks. We’re here. It’s the dead zone. Mandatory minicamps are ending today (if they haven’t ended already), and NFL teams are taking the dreaded six-week break. No football news until the end of July! Whatever will we do?

No, literally, what will we do? Baseball is incredibly uninteresting right now, golf is searching for a storyline, Nascar is back in the dumps, and nobody really cares if LeBron signs somewhere else (he won’t).

Here, now, from the esteemed tastemaker Yours Truly, are a few recommendations of what to do as ESPN attempts to fill its top ten with horrible baseball highlights.

GO TO THE MOVIES. Have you been lately? There is some good stuff out. Avengers: Infinity War just broke two billion dollars at the box office. If you haven’t seen it yet, go. Also, Solo is an absolute treat. The camaraderie between Han and his loyal sidekick Chewbacca is fun to watch unfold. Go to see Incredibles 2, the movie everyone who went to see Avengers has been waiting to see for nearly 15 years. For a laugh, Tag is coming out soon. A dinosaur movie, a new Ant-Man movie, a new The Rock Saves Everyone movie, a new Denzel movie, and a new Mission Impossible movie are all coming out before the preseason ramps up. Go spend some time in a dark room with strangers.

GO TO THE COUCH. Call your boo over to Netflix and chill, or Hulu and chill. There’s a lot of cool stuff out. If you’re on Amazon, and dig science fiction, I cannot recommend The Expanse highly enough. It’s awesome to watch. Full of irreverant humor, amazing cold opens, and a spectacular cast, the entirety of Brooklyn Nine Nine is available on Hulu and has five seasons of material for you to binge. Over on Netflix, there is a great old-school-style comedy special featuring Steve Martin and Martin Short that was perfectly fun for me to watch.

TAKE A GETAWAY. Hop on Google Maps, look for something 4-6 hours away, book a hotel for a day or two and go there. Look up “things to do in __________” and make some notes. Talk to the front desk at the hotel, get some local info. You could wind up doing a 2-3 day trip and saving some cash by avoiding tourist destinations. Or, pick a tourist destination and go where the crowds aren’t.

GO ON AN ADVENTURE IN YOUR TOWN. There has to be something a friend has done and posted about on Facebook that made you say, “I’ve always wanted to try that!” Well, do it. Pack yourself and the family up, and go have a fun time without leaving your city.

TAKE A TOUR OF A SPORTS FACILITY. Nearly every football stadium gives tours this time of year. Also, if you have a Nascar track nearby, they almost always feature some sort of “experience” that is available. Stadium tours are a cheap way to familiarize yourself with the home of your favorite team and to see some cool stuff you may never see otherwise. Look at the team’s website for more information, although you might have to click around a bit, or send the team a quick contact email.

There’s a ton of stuff to do instead of constantly refreshing Pro Football Talk… or Bench Points! Hope you have a great summer and we hope to see you back when training camp gets rolling!

Andrew Luck, Former Elite QB

On Saturday, May 12th, a new report came out reminding us all that it has been 496 days since Andrew Luck has thrown a live pass.  Yesterday, the Colts scrambled with the local media to ensure boilerplate quotes on Luck were distributed with panache.

Luck is “doing all the activities” that don’t include throwing, including footwork and other crap.

Luck is “completely engaged” during these OTAs, going to meetings and stuff.

Some additional facts:

Luck is now on his fourth offensive coordinator.

Luck has a backup that played nearly the entire 2017 season and is looking for contract money in 2019.

Luck has to play the Jaguars’ defense twice a year, and will also face the Super Bowl-winning defense of the Philadelphia Eagles early in 2018.

He hasn’t thrown a live ball for nearly 500 days.

I’ve not played football myself, but I know enough about the game to know that throwing in practice and throwing in a live game situation where variables must constantly be accounted for and living, breathing men who want to add to their sack total by smacking the ever-loving crap out of you are two steps and a swim move away from you are two extremely different things.  Throwing a Nerf football a few yards to a trainer and throwing a real football 35 yards to the right shoulder of T.Y. Hilton on the left sideline to score the game-winning touchdown are also two extremely different things.

And having your throwing shoulder injury be horribly managed by an organization that had to burn through two GMs before realizing it had to build up the offensive line in order to protect its QB (whoever that may be) certainly complicates things.

Andrew Luck may come back but he won’t be the same.  I just think there is no way – and the Colts have no one to blame but themselves for it. Luck may be one of the most wasted talents of his generation because of the awful way he was managed by the Colts through his injury and the complete lack of coaching staff consistency.

Time will tell, and I may be wrong, but I don’t see Luck striking for the Colts anytime soon.

Aaron It Out: The Future Is Naw

The first round of the 2018 NFL draft was ridiculous.

Your standard run on QBs that may or may not turn out to be giant busts (more likely than not) notwithstanding, the Browns turned this draft upside down.

Click here for a full round one recap, by the way.

The Browns did a decent job of adding a competent quarterback earlier this year, bringing Tyrod Taylor to town. Anyone with half a brain knows he is a serviceable starter and more than capable of taking advantage of the weapons that you put around him. So instead of using their first and fourth picks on sure bets Saquon Barkley and Bradley Chubb, they instead picked up Baker Mayfield and… blinks… OSU CB Denzel Ward.

Really?

John Elway’s horseface must have had a grin from ear to ear when Bradley Chubb fell to him. The AFC West is not gonna have fun facing that dude twice a year for the next ten years.

As for the rest of the draft, eh, I can take or leave it. Many of the moves were just bizarre – there were a lot of trades, and those trades were for players that probably would’ve been there, or at least someone very close to that skill level.  I mean, the Titans traded up for a guy that only started one year at Alabama.  Yes, I know Alabama has crazy depth and all the kids want to go there and contend for a natty every year, but still.  Just some dumb moves if you ask me.

I can appreciate the fact that Lamar Jackson got drafted in the first round. We may see a Kirk Cousins-esque run for Flacco next offseason.  Of all the places for Jackson to end up, I didn’t expect it to be Baltimore.

Finally, I don’t know much about Jaguars pick Taven Bryan.  He looks big, and from the limited tape I’ve seen he seems like he could do good in either an end or a tackle spot.  I think personally the Jaguars drafted the successor to either Malik Jackson or Marcel Dareus (my guess would be Jackson). However, for 2018, the Jags do a LOT of rotation on the DL and he has a good chance to make an immediate impact.  Another interesting wrinkle? The Jags could deal Dante Fowler this weekend and Bryan could easily match his numbers from this past year.

FIVE PICKS I LIKED

Barkley to the Giants, DJ Moore to the Panthers, Frank Ragnow to the Lions, Vita Vea to the Bucs, Quentin Nelson to the Colts.

FIVE PICKED I HATED

Ward to the Browns, Rosen to the Cardinals, Marcus Davenport to the Saints, Derwin James to the Chargers (this is selfish, I wanted him in Jax), Rashad Penny to the Seahawks (before Sony Michel? Come on).

Aaron It Out: No More Draft-ma

Happy Monday! If you are in the Jacksonville area, the rainy conditions are such that you feel just a little guilty when clicking on that Panera delivery order for lunch because you let your wife take the good leftovers.  For everyone else, I hope you are having a great day and not letting the fact it is Monday get you too down.

Welcome back to Aaron It Out, the NFL column that’s been on a Jaguars-shouldn’t-have-lost-the-AFC-Championship depression hiatus.  Yes, this column occasionally tries to hide its Jacksonville Jaguars bias, and tries to cover the NFL in total, but last season was so different and special that when the Jags lost, I lost the desire to write much about the NFL.  Every once in a while I would get the inkling of an idea, but not much.  But spring has sprung, the team has new uniforms, they’re better than Tennessee’s new uniforms, and it’s a new league year.

We have all the drama of will the Giants get rid of their diva receiver (they didn’t), will the Cowboys get rid of their diva receiver who shouldn’t be a diva anymore because he’s run out of gas (they did, and oh, look, he’s still unsigned), will Antonio Cromartie have another kid (can’t tell ’em apart without a program), and which shiny new quarterback will replace the old quarterback (Eli’s starting), or alternately, which shiny new quarterback can save the franchise (say it with me… #lolBrowns).

Also Avengers 3 comes out Friday and I am excited for that. I am an unapologetic nerd.

So, the draft. Man, this is weird… the draft isn’t as anticipated for me as it has been in previous years.  I don’t care that much about it.  Why?  Oh, that’s right, it’s because my team is good again.  This must be the feeling that New England has every year, minus the ingrained stuffiness.

Free agency played out and there weren’t many huge moves to be made.  Kirk Cousins signed with the Vikings, whoop de doo.  They should’ve given Keenum the money.  Rams owner Stan Kroenke discovered that those green things in his wallet are collectively known as “money,” and the Rams dealed and traded and basically spent themselves up to the salary cap so they can win ASAP (L.A. only likes winners).  The Jaguars… well, they beefed up the offensive line so Fournette can do his thing, and then they signed some questionable depth talent and Donte Moncrief.  Okay, sure.  He’s tall and strong, so they probably think that he can run-block or help with the run-pass option (get ready to sit down in front of your TV after a long Sunday and hear Cris Collinsworth say “RPO” until you’re ready to scream).

The Jaguars, instead of needing to draft immediate playmakers, have seen their previously successful drafts bear fruit.  Blake Bortles is now, whether you want to admit it or not, a quarterback that helped guide his team to an AFC Championship game and out-passed Ben Roethlisberger in the Divisional round.  Jalen Ramsey is the best corner in the league.  Leonard Fournette is one of the league’s top rushers.  Yannick Ngakoue is a hugely successful defensive player.  Telvin Smith and Myles Jack have transformed the Jags’ linebacker position into speedy, hard-hitting powerhouses.  Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook proved that they can extend plays downfield.  Brandon Linder is arguably the team’s most successful o-line draft pick since Tony Boselli.  Supplement that with free agents, and here we are.

The Jaguars will only have 4-5 players make this roster from the 2018 draft, if that.  When you have a metric crap-ton of talent on your team, that is what happens.  Also, of those 4-5 players, half will be on defense.  Why?  Because the Jaguars spent a lot of money on defense, and after the 2018 season most of the contracts can be jettisoned to create cap room and sign rookies to new deals and/or extensions of their current deals.  One of the following individuals will not be a Jaguar in 2019: A.J. Bouye, Barry Church, Tashaun Gipson, Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, or Marcell Dareus.  I am thinking that the team will let Church, Gipson, and Jackson walk or have them take a way more team-friendly deal, and keep the others, so they can create room to give Ramsey and Ngakoue their money.  I also think Marcell Dareus restructures his deal to be more team-friendly and perhaps takes a signing bonus to offset any smaller salary that he might have.

Those hoping that Lamar Jackson will make it to the Jags, or that Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph is taken, don’t get your hopes up.  Bortles signed an extremely team-friendly deal and is the team’s quarterback for the foreseeable future.  You see the flashes of greatness he can bring and he trimmed his interception numbers in 2017 exceptionally well.  I think that the Jags were smart in trading for Cody Kessler as a cheap backup and they will probably pick up an undrafted free agent or two to serve as camp arms this summer, and possibly keep someone around on the practice squad for insurance.

The quarterback frenzy at the top of the draft is ridiculous to me; despite the fact that the Browns, Jets, Bills, and Broncos all have signed or dealt for QBs this year, and we all know that the days of a first-round pick riding the bench for multiple seasons is practically over, apparently there will be a run on QBs.

Personally, I’m hoping Derwin James falls to the Jags (I doubt he will).  I think the Giants wind up taking Saquon Barkley.  Also, I think it would be funny to see the Patriots package a bunch of picks and move up to take a QB, and go into a slight rebuild.  It would be fun to see the Fins or someone take the AFC East this year.

So for me, no mock draft this year, unfortunately – I don’t have the time and others do a much better job than I do.  I’ll link to one, though; here’s a fun one from a Big 10 site: https://www.landof10.com/big-ten/2018-nfl-mock-draft-first-round-projections-top-players-order-2018-nfl-draft-april-23

I’ll have more on the Jags’ schedule with predictions for that schedule in a week or two.

Have fun watching the draft, and thanks for reading!

Aaron It Ouch: The Sting of Elimination

When you have something to write that is too big for Facebook or Twitter, you become thankful that you have a sports blog.

The Jaguars’ season ended last evening in a game they seem to have been destined to lose – not because the team isn’t talented enough, but because it seemed like everything that could have negatively affected the Jags, did.  Okay, I’m talking about the bogus calls the refs made on the Jaguars.  The Bouye PI that wasn’t even a catchable ball.  The Jack fumble ruling.  The delay of game that was called only after the play was complete and a first down made, coming out of a time out.

And then there’s this:

And this…

I saw the above tweet, by the way, because Josh Scobee, former NFL player, retweeted it.  I mean, if that doesn’t tell you something, what does?

So I’m in a state of sports-fan-sadness right now, and I am also in a little bit of a funk, and I blame the Pats and the refs.  I tell myself I won’t watch the Super Bowl and I know I’m lying to myself, because I am a huge football fan.  But man, the magical Jaguars season is over. I can’t believe it.  I don’t want to believe it.  It’s surreal almost.  I am hurting, man.  I am invested in this team.  This is my team and they have played their butts off this year and brought their fans more success this year than has been seen in Jacksonville for a decade or more.  I mean, there have been 18 years between AFC Championship appearances for the Jaguars.  That is so cool, that the Jags made it that far.  But it could have been farther.

There’s really no one to blame here.  The defense played their butts off and many of the top D players were playing through a lot of pain.  The offense did the best it could, and Blake literally carried the team on his back.  Special teams pretty much nailed everything they could; Josh Lambo is THE kicker of the future for Jacksonville.

And yet it sucks, because MY team is home today, and later they will probably head to the stadium and pack up for the offseason, because of a few bullcrap calls during a game they led for three and a half quarters.  I want to be so upset.

But think about where Jags fans were a year ago.  Wondering who the new coach would be, wondering if Coach Coughlin would come back to town, trying to figure out who would be drafted in May, wishing we were one of the playoff teams, and looking at the dang Senior Bowl as the next point of excitement.

This year we were one win away from a Super Bowl appearance.

The Jaguars have a new and deserved swagger.  The Jaguars are on the precipice of truly being respected nationally again.  The Jaguars are in for a huge 2018.

And there’s change on the horizon too, but nothing major.  The team needs to address the offensive line, probably take a long look at receiver, and maybe free safety.  We’ll see new uniforms, as well.  That should be fun.

Before we know it, January 2019 will be upon us.  A new year of playoff football.  A new time to make an impact.  There are two new head coaches in the division now, which may eventually bring competition but for now leaves the AFC South wide open.

This really, really stings.  But going from 3-13 to 10-6 and the playoffs, that’s amazing.  Once the “I can’t believe we lost to the stupid Patriots” wears off, we’ll appreciate this season.  It wouldn’t hurt if the Eagles curb-stomp the Pats, either, I guess.

Go Jaguars.

#DTWD

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