I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. And again, and again. The NFC West is the toughest division in football. This isn’t to disparage other divisions, as there are many fantastic divisions. However, over the last 7-10 years when you look at the records, how many times the winner of the NFC West has changed, how many times the division has represented the NFC in the Super Bowl… it’s hard to argue against my point.
In my article yesterday, I mentioned how the “rich got richer” when talking about the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC West. For the NFC West, the entire division got even more competitive… which is saying a lot. Let’s take a look at how each team drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There is seriously tough competition in the AFC West. It is home to the AFC Champion from the last two seasons.
In a division that has one of, if not the, strongest teams in the league, how did the other 3 franchises look to add to their rosters in order to compete with the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid machine in Kansas City? Pretty well according to many in the business.
Let’s take a look at each team in the division and their draft picks.
Las Vegas Raiders
With the Raiders splitting the season at 8-8 last season, they knew they didn’t need a complete overhaul in order to get better. However, the grades given to this year’s Raiders draft were mostly B’s and C’s, with one D coming in from Vinny Iver from Sporting News.
As we prepare for the new NFL league year, which officially starts March 17, the league will continue to follow the current Covid-19 protocols put into place in 2020, holding all NFL team meetings and press conferences virtually. Beat writers and major network journalists are limited to virtual interviews only, bringing the importance of social media platforms to a whole new level.
As we continue to face challenges due to the 2020 pandemic, the one thing that has become crystal clear is every sports super fan has started a sports podcast and sports page. So what (if any) impact does this have on those that spent their lives working and earning sports journalist degrees? I reached out to two sports journalists and asked them each the same question. One is from the good old print-only days, while the other is a little younger but can still remember newspapers.
We’ve heard about it all season. The 2021 NFL Cap was going down. Way down. Teams who were going to be in cap trouble are now in REAL cap trouble, and teams who thought they had the room to go get every free agent they wanted are now having to reevaluate.
I went straight to the source to try to help us figure out how teams were going to manage this difficult cap year. Miguel Benzan, also known as @PatsCap on Twitter, is one of the most respected NFL cap space minds out there. While he mostly focuses on the New England Patriots cap, he is extremely well versed in intricate details of the NFL cap. Go follow him. Now. I’ll wait. Continue reading “The impact of the 2021 NFL Cap”→
For two weeks we heard nothing but Mahomes vs Brady. New kid vs GOAT. New legacies vs old legacies. But what we soon discovered, and were not all that surprised by, is that it was more than just the quarterbacks who made an impact on the field. In the crazy world of Super Bowl mania, no matter how the media spins it, it’s still a team sport.
It’s not like I don’t understand the reason for the hype. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is, almost without question, the greatest QB to play the game versus Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the fantastically talented, young superstar of the league. A possible changing of the guard right before our eyes.
With the conclusion of the AFC Championship Game, we now know who will play in Super Bowl LV: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) and the Kansas City Chiefs (AFC).
As the defending champion, it shouldn’t have surprised me that the Chiefs moved on again, and yet, it very much did. The Buffalo Bills are a young, up-and-coming team that, frankly, may have been the biggest winner in the “Tom Brady leaves the AFC East” game.
Let’s take a look back at how the Chiefs defeated the Bills to punch their ticket to the Big Game and a chance for a repeat championship…
To say that Senior Bowl Executive director Jim Nagy pulled this year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl off is amazing would be an understatement. With all the covid-19 restrictions and adversities we have all had to face, it was a near miracle.
A great amount of gratitude has to be given to the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers who had to put their entire staff through Covid testing and strict quarantine rules. Many of the coaches were telling me days on the field was the first time anyone had left the team hotel.
As we wrap up the senior bowl practice, there is one question that is always asked. Which player took the most of this opportunity to showcase their talents?
As I am wrapping up the final day of the senior bowls practices, some NFL news broke which included the Miami Dolphins.
Rumors have been circulating for weeks about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s unhappiness with the Texans front office and possibly wanting out. He’s named the Miami Dolphins team as one of the teams he would like to play for.
No big surprise there. Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores is very well respected around the league. And Dolphins GM Chris Grier has started to build a solid future for this team.
As the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl got underway, Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores and his coaching staff got things started.
After a week of testing and quarantine coach Flores and the National team finally got to see some daylight. Due to strict covid protocols, all regular Senior Bowl activities had been canceled prior to both team arrivals.
Day one did however get off to a rocky start. Due to inclement weather, the Senior Bowl staff sent out a mass email that day 1 practice had been moved inside, so no media attendance was to be expected.
Soon after, the skies parted and the weather pattern changed.
The staff quickly reversed the inside order and moved the practice back out on the field. Clearing the way for media to converge back to Handcock Whitney Stadium.
Once we got inside and settled, the team had just taken the field. As teams split into groups, I noticed that Alabama’s top wide receiver and projected first-round pick, DeVonta Smith, was sporting a finger brace on his right hand. Smith has taken part in all team meetings.
When asked by the South Florida media about Smith and his smaller thinner body frame, Coach Flores was pretty quick to snap back that Smith is a tough player. The staff didn’t seem to be bothered by his size, they just wanted it to be known that he had some great college performances, especially in big games. Coach Flores also spoke to the fact that he thought Smith was a good kid.
It’s no secret that the Miami Dolphins are in need of a true #1 receiver. And if you watched any of Smith’s highlights, he is no doubt on the Dolphins draft board.
Another player that Coach Flores and this staff will have an opportunity to take a look at, is Alabama running back Najee Harris. Harris put on a show during the College National Championship game. He showed great athleticism in the running back spot.
As I watched him today, I noticed that he was an attentive young man. He was talking to coaches while seemly taking everything in. Looks like he would be a great fit in the Dolphins’ backfield. Just putting that out there!
With one day of practice in the books, Coach Flores and this Dolphins team have a great opportunity to get an edge up on the 2021 NFL draft class. Scouting is something that Coach Flores knows all too well. Before starting his rise into the coaching field, Coach Flores was an assistant in scouting.
I also got the chance to speak to Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy. Nagy told me how Flores excelled in the scouting world. He would even write up Nagy’s scouting reports for him. So according to Nagy, if there is one thing Coach Flores knows, it’s evaluating talent.
So not only is Coach Flores evaluating talent, he is coaching in it. Seems to have come full circle.
Last weekend brought a little heartbreak to Cleveland and a huge sigh of relief to Kansas City!
The Chiefs were able to hold off the up-and-coming Browns to win their AFC Divisional Round match-up. Next up, the AFC Championship game, hosting the Buffalo Bills this Sunday at 6:40pm EST.
If the Chiefs can win this weekend then they’ll head back to the Super Bowl and a chance to repeat their success from last year. But the victory over the Browns came at a cost. Will quarterback Patrick Mahomes be healthy and ready to play this week?