Tag Archives: Dolphins

Beating Vegas: Lucky Week 7

Tennessee Titans -6 at Cleveland Browns

It seems as if, for one reason or another, the Titans and Browns are a “mainstay” at Beating Vegas this year.  This week, these two teams square off against each other, with the Titans coming off a Monday Night victory against the Colts and the Browns losing. . .again.  After Kevin Hogan’s inefficient outing against the Houston Texans, the Browns have decided to go back to starting rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.  Teams that flip-flop on quarterbacks like this, especially when both quarterbacks are below average – are usually teams that have issues.  The Browns have had issues since they’ve come back into the league.  In the five games he’s played, Kizer has three touchdowns, nine interceptions and is averaging less than five and half yards a carry.  He’s a quarterback who only finds success when throwing to the left side of the hash-marks and one must wonder what his confidence is like at this point.  The good news for Cleveland is that Tennessee’s defense has been disappointing this year.  The Dick LeBeau coached unit is allowing 27 points per game and allowing opponents to complete passes at a 60% rate.  The thing to watch here is the health of Marcus Mariota.  He was stiff but was able to complete passes from the pocket for over 300 yards against the Colts.  Mariota’s more effective as a mobile threat and he should be a little more inclined to take off this week.  The Browns are holding opponents to 3 yards a carry and this will be the defenses toughest test when they go up against Demarco Murray (4.6 yards a rush) and Derrick Henry (5.1 yards a rush).  Add to the mix a more mobile Mariota and this will be too much for Cleveland to sustain passed a half.

The Pick: Titans -6

Washington Redskins +5 at Philadelphia Eagles

Philly’s second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is already putting himself in some NFL pundits’ early MVP conversations. He’s looking like a seasoned pro this year and his supporting cast have all helped to carry some of the load.  The name that may surprise many this year is running back LaGarrette Blount.  Why is he a surprise?  Because a week before the season there was talk about him possibly getting cut.  Blount is averaging 5.6 yards a carry this year, which puts him right in the class of Kareem Hunt, who is averaging 5.9 yards a carry this season. This will be an interesting match-up for Blount because Washington is currently only allowing 88 yards a game on the ground.  For all the talk of Carson Wentz this year though, Kirk Cousins is putting together another nice season for the Redskins. Cousins is averaging 8.5 yards per pass this season with 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. The emergence of running back Chris Thompson has been something to see this year as well.  Thompson has apparently come out of nowhere and is leading the team in yards per carry (4.9), receptions (18) and receiving yards (340). The Redskins are averaging 23.4 points a game so far this season, which is a pretty average total, but considering they are getting little to no contributions from Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson – it’s a miracle they’ve done this well.  Keep an eye on this game as the public will tend to go heavy on the Eagles, at home on Monday night, so the Skins may end up getting more points before kick-off.  The Redskins lost by thirteen points at home when they opened up the season against Philadelphia and they’ll be looking for revenge on the national stage.

The Pick: Redskins +5

New York Jets +3.5 at Miami Dolphins

The New York Jets have a lot of gamblers sweating considering they were only expected to win 4-5 games this season and they are already at three.  Be careful with those pre-season prop bets. . . Anyhow, the Jets haven’t looked too bad.  Their running game is confusing because although everyone sees that Bilal Powell should be the guy the Jets keep on trying to force Matt Forte onto our television sets.  That’s a good reason why they are ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing offense.  Its been veteran quarterback Josh McCown who’s been leading the charge.  He’s got viable targets in Jermaine Kearse, Robbie Anderson and Jeremy Kerley – you would think they’d throw the ball more but they hover around mediocrity averaging 234 passing yards a game.   The Jets should look to take advantage of a Miami secondary allowing a completion percentage of 72.4%.  The Jets though have been struggling to stop the run and if last week’s explosion by running back Jay Ajayi was the coming out party most of the league has been waiting on from him, he could stand to put up another monster performance.  Also, last week – it seems Adam Gase stopped being conservative and let Jay Cutler just throw the ball around – it opened up the entire offense and they’ll want to do that again this week because they’ll have their shots to take.  Division rivals usually are at a 3.5 point spread because of the familiarity, and it’s a good line here – for Vegas.  The real play here is the over/under of 38 points.  The over is the play here because both teams’ strength on offense is the other teams’ weakness.  Could spell a recipe for disaster for one side.  Which side?  Who cares?  Just put those points up!

The Pick: The Over at 38 points

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Tennessee Turn Up?

Last week Beating Vegas went 50/50 on College and NFL picks. That’s just not going to cut it here, so let’s knock out these NFL picks!

Seattle Seahawks +3 at Tennessee Titans

In two weeks, the Seattle Seahawks have put up a whopping 21 points.  The offensive line isn’t what it used to be and quiet as kept. . .neither is Russell Wilson.  Wilson’s completion percentage is 56% and he’s averaging 5.4 yards a pass.  Those are pretty below average numbers for a guy who’s held in such high regard today.  It’s not all his fault though, the pass protection isn’t great and his receivers – if we’re being honest – they’re a pretty overrated group (sorry Doug Baldwin fans. . . all four of you).  Tennessee is a team, on the other hand that NEEDS to piece this thing together.  Quarterback, Marcus Mariota is putting up better numbers than Wilson – but  not by much, but unlike Seattle, he has weapons.  Running back Derrick Henry just may have taken over the reigns last week when Demarco Murray went down with a hamstring injury (day-to-day) and the young receiving core has talent with Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Rishard Matthews.  They’re just a young team that is finding ways to put it all together – at least one would hope.  The Titans need a signature win and this is their opportunity, to hit a heavy weight while it’s tending to it’s wounds.

The Pick: The Titans -3

Houston Texans +13.5 at New England Patriots

While Texans coach Bill O’Brien is muddling through the early goings of this 2017 season (blowout loss to the Jaguars and barely beating the Bengals) he has to take his team, led by rookie quarterback Deshawn Watson to go against his former boss, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.  O’Brien was awarded stripes while being the offensive coordinator at New England, than won people over by accepting the job at Penn State during it’s darkest times and eventually becoming head coach of the Texans.  It’s been rough though, as this once heralded “quarterback guru” has been shuffling through mediocrity under center since he arrived.  Now a rookie quarterback enters New England, where under Belichick rookie quarterbacks have gone 0-8.  Add to the fact that Watson is averaging less than 5 yards a pass and his second leading target is his under achieving running back Lamar Miller – things can get crazy.  This Texans defense is “supposed” to be one of the better ones in the league, but in two games they’ve netted three sacks and zero interceptions. New England on the other hand shook off their week one cobwebs and got their swagger back against New Orleans last week 36-20 (game wasn’t even that close – Brees through a garbage time TD with about 5 minutes left).  Houston is going to struggle to score and there will be more than a few three and outs. This will benefit the New England offense who by the second half will wear down this defense.

The Pick: Patriots -13.5

Miami Dolphins -6 at New York Jets

It’s easy to pick against the Jets because. . .it’s the Jets.  When a team is noticeably tanking, you take that into consideration, but this is a rivalry game and coach Todd Bowles is coaching for his life right now.  On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins are only looking up, as they bring to New York one of the more complete rosters in the NFL.   Miami went to L.A. and squeezed out a win against a gritty Chargers team that has a knack for blowing close games and now come back to the east coast to play their rivals in New York.  Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler looked like he didn’t forget a step in the Adam Gase offense and looked calm and in control throughout the game.  Cutler throwing over 70% completion rate, which is pretty much what the Jets allow at about 11.4 yards a pass.  Josh McCown is doing what he can on offense but with no real running game to help him out and only one real target in Jermaine Kearse, the frustration settles in quick.

The Pick: Miami -6

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Where Does Cutler Go?

There have been very few players as polarizing as Jay Cutler in recent professional sports.  I wrote an article almost exactly two years ago “The Perception of Jay Cutler,” in which a defense of his character was made.  And quite well, may I add.

Jay Cutler’s run with the Chicago Bears looks like it may very well be at it’s end.  After eight years with the Bears, Cutler has cemented himself as the franchises most storied quarterback, holding fourteen team records (including passing yards, passing touchdowns and quarterback rating).  Even with that, Bears fans (and for some strange reason even non-Bears fans) have an issue with Cutler.  The whole “he” hasn’t won anything conversation is laughable for all those Millennials and lazy sports writers, have made “wins” an actual stat for quarterbacks – no matter what kind of condition a franchise is in.  Cutler played for a Bears team that actually had guys like Johnny Knox and Devin Hester running routes for him at one point.  Yikes.

But this isn’t a piece to further defend a guy who has been incorrectly vilified in his career, this is to predict possible landing spots for the 33 year old gunslinger.  Keeping in mind that the Bears will most likely cut him before finding a trading partner for him.

1- New York Jets – This is almost too obvious.  If the Jets decide to not part ways with wide receiver Brandon Marshall, reuniting these “bickering brothers” may be something to look into.  Marshall has referred to Cutler as his brother numerous times and even when they blow up at each publicly it’s really not a big deal.  With that being said, the Jets are usually in the business of lying to themselves and believing they have a chance to get into the playoffs.  Teams that believe that, bring in veterans who are looking for one more run, at a good price.  Cutler would get killed by the New York media, but it’s a good thing that he really doesn’t care what you say about him. . . like, ever.

2- Miami Dolphins – Yeah, Ryan Tannehill is still there.  So what?  Reports had come in Miami last season that head coach Adam Gase was growing increasingly frustrated with Tannehill as the season progressed.  Tannehill’s numbers are smoke in mirrors and he still looks like a guy learning how to play the position.  Gase is a “Cutler guy” and they worked great together in Chicago but this would be a touchy situation to get into and would involve the Dolphins giving up on the young guy to roll with the injury prone older guy. . .

3- Denver Broncos – This would be a best case scenario for Cutler.  He would go back to where his career started and would have a playoff contender right off the bat.  With the receiving talents there just being left out to dry, they would welcome a guy like Cutler who can sling the rock.  Cutler wouldn’t have to try to hard to beat out Trevor Siemian for the starting job but Elway definitely wouldn’t look to break the bank for Cutler either.

4- Retirement – Jay Cutler has taken a beating over his career.  Physically and mentally.  He has made a lot of money, has three kids and a beautiful wife and usually makes his way doing charity work (especially with youth diabetes).  Cutler has made it known that  he wanted to end his career as a Bear, which you’ve got to believe was his goal since getting traded to Chicago but money and opportunity can still be offered for this veteran.  Aside from personal opinions – Cutler is still a starting quarterback in this league – but at a certain point, a man has to consider his options and his health.  If he is satisfied with it all, nobody can judge him for that.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Thirteen

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: If it wasn’t for a nonsensical Hail Mary-like Florida touchdown that did nothing to change the course of the game – the picks would’ve been a respectable 3 out of 5 instead of 2 out of 5.  The games were all close and could’ve went either way, but hopefully you evened yourself up (and kept the faith in me) to lay it all on the Jets on Sunday afternoon.  This week’s Beating Vegas is the unlucky number 13th entry.  And with only one college game to really keep an eye out for, we might be playing against the odds, but let’s take a crack at this week.

Oakland (+7.5) at Denver

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The Broncos have ushered in the era of Brock Osweiler and what it’s brought to this offense is a sense of “calm.”  And that’s right where this offense should be right now.  Coach Gary Kubiak is all about time of possession and minimizing turnovers – this goes against everything Peyton Manning was displaying this year as the veteran quarterback’s reaction time could not keep up with his instincts.  Broke knows that he has tools to move the chains and keep his defense rested.  Although he does tend to hold the ball a little too long at times, he is still not turning it over.  On the other side of the ball is the blossoming of a future franchise quarterback in Derek Carr.  The Raiders fan base has been waiting on a franchise QB for a while and Derek Carr seems to be playing the role of one as his 26 touchdown passes paired with a 63% completion percentage show.  Unfortunately for Carr, he is going up against a Denver defense that allows only 195 passing yards a game and has accumulated 41 sacks so far this year (both NFL’s current best).  Carr has fumbled the ball 7 times this year already and he’ll have to be aware of edge rushers all game long.  The Raiders only put up 10 points in their last meeting at that was in the comforts of their own home, this time around, expect more of the same.

The Pick: Denver -7.5

New England (-3.5) at Houston

This one is pretty simple.  It may seem cheesy, or it may seem like a terrible way of reasoning but it’s simple in my mind:  The Patriots will NOT lose three games in a row.  It’s something we just will not see.  They especially wont lose to a team quarterbacked by Brian Hoyer.   Yes, they did just lose to Sam Bradford, but that makes it even more impossible to lose to a quarterback of the same caliber.  Truth is, the game against Philadelphia included a blocked punt for a touchdown, returned a punt for a touchdown and a Tom Brady interception for a touchdown.  Indeed it takes skill to do those things, but for all of them to happen in the same game and against the Patriots – takes a lot of luck as well.  The Patriots biggest issue (besides not having Gronkowski who CBS Sports said was “iffy” against the Texans) was the dropped passes – especially on their final drive.  Amendola, Lafell and the rest of this group need to get it together especially against this formidable Houston Texans pass defense.  New England will go back to utilizing their running backs, like the good ol’ days, and work their way into the heart of this Texans defense that is allowing nearly 4.5 yards a carry.   Bottom line, the Patriots are not losing three in a row and at 3.5 points, that’s almost a “pick ’em” in the era of Tom Brady.

The Pick: New England -3.5

Army (+24) at Navy

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The annual Army/Navy game is one of the best traditions in American sports.  This will be the 116th meeting between the two military academies and Navy leads this series 59-49-7.   Navy has actually won thirteen in a row and looking to continue that streak this weekend.  For some reason as better as Navy has looked in recent years, Army gets up for this game.  In the last four victories Navy took home, they only won by a margin of 7 points or less.   Both academies rely on their running attacks and Navy has been stellar this year on the ground.  Navy ranked in the top tens with yards per carry and finished third in the nation in total rushing yards (ahead of offensive big shots, Baylor and Oregon).  And although Army runs for about 80 yards less than Navy does a game, they are still running for 254 yards a game at 4.9 a clip —  very far from being “shabby.”   Navy is 9-2 and Army is 2-9, Navy has had a tougher schedule and their losses came by the hands of two ranked teams in Notre Dame and Houston.  Their most notable wins came against Memphis and Air Force, of whom statistically has a better rushing attack than Navy and for the most part were shut down.  Army’s wins came against Eastern Michigan and Bucknell, but losses to teams like Wake Forest and Fordham really make you shake your head at the direction this program has taken (quick note, Army had success against Air Force’s rushing attack as well by ultimately lost by 20-3).  There is a lot of respect in this rivalry and the times Navy has blown out Army it’s usually because they can’t help themselves, they’re just that much better.   The over/under is set at 54.5 and the last time these two teams combined to get over that number was back in 2005 when Navy won 42-23.

The Pick:  Army +24 and the Under at 54.5

If You Must:  The Giants versus the Dolphins on Monday Night Football will make it three weeks in a row of teams nobody really cares to watch on prime time.  This games puts to defenses up against each other that can give up thirty a night easily.  Take the over at 46.5 points and root for nothing else but the scoreboard.

Tease of the week: (four gamer) Jets +5,  Patriots +8.5, Army/Navy Under 66 and Steelers/Bengals Over 36.5

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Miami Dolphins 2015 Preview

Head coach Joe Philbin seems to have been on the hot seat since he was hired three years ago.  The Dolphins are active in free agency every year yet their drafts come up a little short.  They can compete, but they can’t get over the hump.  They have been average at best under Philbin and the folks in Miami are becoming restless.

General manager Dennis Hickey, went after the NFL’s biggest name in free agency and inked Ndamukong Suh to a six year deal.   In gaining the best defensive tackle in the NFL, the Dolphins had to cut ties with the likes of Jared Odrick, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.   They did not lose their defensive ends Cameron Wake and Oliver Vernon, who provide one of the best defensive end combinations in the league – and they will get their opportunities with Suh in the middle.

Behind that defensive line is a linebacker core made up of Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi and a depth chart of guys who need to step up.  Misi hasn’t even been as good as advertised, while Jenkins really just did better than people expected last year.   That’s easy to accomplish when people don’t expect much from you. . . The secondary doesn’t get much better after corner Brent Grimes and the return of safety Louis Delmas.  Zack Bowman might win the second corner back spot just out of experience – but the coaching staff is high on converting the All Big Ten wide receiver Tony Lippet to a corner back.  Why?  Who knows.  Looking at the receiver group, his talents would be better suited there.

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Rookie Devante Parker from Louisville, is expected to be the number one receiver on opening day and is also expected to be a game changer in this Dolphins offense.  Dane Brugler of CBS Sports compares Parker to AJ Green of the Bengals: “Although he’s not quite on the same level as Green, Parker is just a notch below with a similar athletic skill-set with the height and length to tower over defenders.”   After Parker there is the veteran Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills, who is still trying to find his way into the pro game.  Stills came out of Oklahoma with a lot of promise and it seemed that the team that drafted him, the Saints, would’ve been a perfect fit for him.  He never could separate himself from the bunch in New Orleans, and now gets a second chance in Miami, where the depth chart isn’t packed with enough talent to keep Stills from getting opportunities.

The Dolphins always keep busy in free agency as mentioned earlier – and they continued doing so when they signed tight end Jordan Cameron.  If Cameron is healthy and can perform at levels that were expected of him last year in Cleveland, it should benefit this offense in every way.  Cameron may be one of those guys who might not ever get to the level that’s expected of him though.

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Like a lot of teams in the league, the Dolphins are weak at their guard spots on the offensive line, but are stout at tackle and center.  Mike Pouncey is a great center when he’s not acting like an idiot off the field with his brother and their left and right tackles Brandon Albert and JaWuan James respectively are as steady as they come.

The offensive line has their work cut out for them when it comes to these running backs though.   Jay Ajayi is an interesting back out of Boise State but he is a bruiser/short yardage back and nothing else.  He had some big games at Boise, but Boise’s problem every year when it comes to being respected as a championship contender is their level of competition, so keep that in mind when checking the tape on Ajayi.  Lamar Miller is one of the most over-rated players in the league.  People talk about his speed and how good he looks in “practice” every year and he comes out and looks less than average on Sundays.   Miller just isn’t very good, but seems to always maintain a spot on this roster.

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At the center of it all is quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was inked to a six year extension worth $95 million.  Tannehill finished with 27 touchdown passes last season but averaged less than seven yards a pass.  He has the size and seems to have the know-how in the pocket but with nothing behind him in terms of a running game and question marks at the receiver side of things – his margin for error has got to be small.  Tannehill seems to be Dolphins guy, for now.  Tannehill is more like a guy who should be holding the spot until something better comes along – which shouldn’t be difficult to find.

Predicted Record: 6-10

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Cameron Wake

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Grading Free Agency, Part 1

The NFL free agency period is one of the most hyped moments of the off-season.  Every team uses free agency as a means to better themselves before the draft, making their draft day decisions a little clearer.   We have seen teams in recent history like the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins, make huge splashes with free agent signings, only to fall short come season’s end.

Ndamukong Suh – Miami Dolphins: 

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The moment the Lions decided they no longer needed Suh, that was the moment the man known as Ndamukong became the prize of this year’s free agency frenzy.  He instantly adds credibility to even the weakest of defensive lines but the Pro Bowl defensive tackle joins a unit that was already good, but with the addition of Suh, they are noticeably elevated.  With (now) former Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick leaving Miami by ways of a 5 hour drive north up to Jacksonville, this left an obvious opening for Suh.  Keeping in my that Suh is a definite upgrade from Odrick,  just how much better will this move make the team as a whole.  The Miami Dolphins have offered Suh a contract worth about $114 million and this might hurt them because the real need for an upgrade was on defense.  With no wide receivers, running backs and questions with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback the Dolphins ignored their real needs.

Grade: C

Byron Maxwell – Philadelphia Eagles

We all knew the Legion of Boom would take on a different look going into next season because Byron Maxwell was going to head  elsewhere to get paid.   Philadelphia, who has been keeping things interesting to say the least in the off-season, decided to give Maxwell the payday he wanted to the tune of 6 years for $63 million.  The Eagles defense is more opportunistic than it is good.  Maxwell no longer  will be able to “hide” behind the team-mates he was playing with in Seattle.  Even then, saying “hide” sounds as if someone is saying he “can’t” play — the truth is, we all really won’t know how good he is as a team’s number one corner until the season goes under way.   Seeing him play against Odell Beckum Jr. twice this season should show if that signing will pay off for the next 6 years.  It’s a lot of money thrown to a position in which a player’s talents are only exhibited in a system that he’s comfortable in.

Grade: B

Rodney Hudson – Oakland Raiders

Offensive linemen are the perennial Rodney Dangerfield’s of the NFL because they “get no respect.”  The Raiders are seemingly parting ways with their center Stefen Wisniewski, who is a free agent this year  and have decided to pay for an upgrade at the position with former Chief Rodney Hudson.  According to Pro Football Focus, Hudson is the third highest rated center in the league.  This is nothing but good news for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who the franchise is banking on to be their guy for the next decade.

Grade: B+

Pernell McPhee – Chicago Bears

Much like (but not as forgotten as) offensive linemen – defensive specialists, are also lost in the shuffle when it comes to free agent buzz.  The Chicago Bears in announcing that they are turning into a 3-4 defensive scheme, have now signed one of the best 3-4 linebackers in Pernell McPhee.  Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second best linebacker in the league amongst that scheme and did so while playing behind the likes of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil on the depth chart.  The Bears need help in pretty much every area of the football field, but lining up McPhee with Willie Young and Lamaar Houston should make for a nice start to what the Bears want to build defensively.

Grade: B

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Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts

Yes, the Eagles have been busy.  After trading LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, it was obvious that the Eagles were looking to shave money at that position.   It seemed it was all but done, the Eagles and Gore agreed to a three year deal, in which $7.5 was guaranteed over the first two years. Then, the Colts called. Gore is exactly what the Colts offense needed because we all know how they didn’t need to trade a first round pick to the Browns for running back Trent Richardson.  Gore is still a strong back, who can do it all: tough yardage, pass block and catch out the backfield. Quarterback Andrew Luck is without a doubt a stud, but this offense became too predictable without a viable running attack.  Gore’s deal with Indy is reportedly 3 years for $12 million – that’s a bargain in the first two years of this deal, easy.  Colts did not overspend and in the process picked up a great piece that this offense desperately needed

Grade: A

Stephen Paea – Washington Redskins

The Stephen Paea signing is such a Redskins thing to do, that it’s almost hilarious. . . if it wasn’t so tragically Redskins-ish.  Paea was a perennial under-achiever with the Bears and played pretty well in the last season of his contract.  The Redskins jumped on Paea’s contract year performance and offered him a four year deal.  It seems the Redskins organization never questioned why the Bears, who are turning into a 3-4 defense wouldn’t have looked to keep the 6’1″ 300 pounder.  He’ll be released or be a “depth guy” in two years.

Grade: D-

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Jeremy Maclin – Kansas City Chiefs

In other Eagles related news, it appears Chip Kelly and his staff in Philadelphia will not lose sleep with the departure of Jeremy Maclin.  Maclin is a good route runner, with nice speed and can upgrade a wide receiver core which didn’t record a touchdown reception all of last season.   He’s paired up once again with his original head coach Andy Reid, who he started his career with.  Last season Maclin took a gamble on himself, coming off of injury and signing a one year deal with Philadelphia resulting in his most productive season racking in 10 touchdowns and over 1300 yards with 85 receptions.  Maclin can be the guy that opens up this Chiefs offense.  Yes, even with Alex Smith at quarterback.

Grade: A

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio