2014 Season Team Profiles: Jacksonville Jaguars

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Team Name: Jacksonville Jaguars

Division: AFC South

Stadium: EverBank Field (Jacksonville, FL)

2013 Record: 4-12

Head Coach: Gus Bradley (2013 – present), was recruited for the Jacksonville head coach position after working wonders with the Seattle defense as their coordinator

Quarterback: Blake Bortles (2014), named the starter in September and has been regressing ever since

 

3 Offensive Players You Should Know:

– Denard Robinson, Running Back/Wide Receiver (16) – Robinson may be one of the most athletically interesting players in the league. He was a quarterback, running back, and wide receiver in college. Last year the team listed his position as “Offensive Weapon” and this year he’s listed as a “RB/WR” on their website roster. He earned the nickname Shoelace because he didn’t tie his shoes as a kid, a practice which he continued through college and for the most part, in the pros. That doesn’t really bother people because he’s super fast and if he can run that fast without his shoelaces tied, more power to him.

Toby Gerhart, Running Back (21) – He was supposed to be the team’s answer at running back once Maurice Jones-Drew left, but he’s no longer the starter at this point in the season. He had a prolific college career at Stanford.

– Cecil Shorts, Wide Receiver (84) – He ended both his 2012 and 2013 seasons by being placed on injured reserve. This season he’s shown flashes of potential with some 100+ yard games, but he seems to be suffering as a result of this sub-par offense.

 

3 Defensive Players You Should Know:

Paul Posluszny, Middle Linebacker (51) – Unfortunately, Paul is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, which is unfortunate because he’s a Pro Bowler and signed a relatively hefty deal with the team in 2011. He also definitely has some Polish heritage with that last name.

Ziggy Hood, Defensive Tackle (92) – Ziggy spent the first four years of his career as a Steeler and then signed a four-year deal with the Jags in March. His real name is Evander, but his grandmother couldn’t pronounce it when he was little, so they started calling him after his favorite cartoon character (yes, the small pant-less chubby bald dude).

Red Bryant, Defensive End (79) – Red was a Seahawks veteran who followed Gus Bradley to the sunshine state. He was a captain in Seattle, but had a hefty contract and one of the reasons for his release was to create cap space. He’s a big dude, coming in at 6’4″ and 320 lbs. His real name is Joseph, he was the first in his family to graduate from college, and he overcame dyslexia.

 

What Happened This Offseason:

– The Jaguars drafted quarterback Blake Bortles. He was supposed to be the quarterback of the future, but then Chad Henne was kinda sucking, so he became the quarterback of now.

– Justin Blackmon had a ton of potential, leading all rookie wide receivers in first downs last year. In April he received a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Then he violated it again and was suspended indefinitely. Prior to entering the NFL, he had a few DUIs under his belt too. You won’t see him on the field this year, but here’s to hoping he can clean up his act because the team could use him.

– The team lost running back Maurice Jones-Drew to Oakland. MJD’s productivity had declined recently and there were contract disputes, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. The team brought in Toby Gerhart from Minnesota to replace him, but he lost the starting job.

– Most importantly, Jaguars management added pools and cabanas in the stadium. (Can you imagine me as a Jaguars lifeguard? People would drown. “My bad, it was a 3rd and goal, so I was definitely not paying attention.”)

 

Why You Should Cheer for Them: You’re a local. You want to go to a football game and party in a pool. You live in London and need a “home” team. (The team has a four-year deal to play one “home” game there each year through 2016.)

 

2014 Theme Song: Up! (Shania Twain) – With only one win so far this season, it’s tough to be a Jaguars fan or player right now. Things to have to get better for them….eventually….right?

 

The Last Word: Ummm…did I mention they have pools in the stadium?

– Michelle

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2014 Season Team Profiles: Tennessee Titans

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Team Name: Tennessee Titans

Division: AFC South

Stadium: LP Field (Nashville, TN)

2013 Record: 7-9

Head Coach: Ken Whisenhunt (2014),  or “Whiz” as we like to call him, was the Cardinal’s head coach for 5 years and then the offensive coordinator for the Chargers last year

Quarterback: Depends on which week you ask, as the answer could be Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst, or Zach Mettenberger. Eek.

 

3 Offensive Players You Should Know:

– Shonn Greene, Running Back (23) – Spent the first four years of his career with the Jets. He missed the first part of the season with a knee injury, so he hasn’t been able to explode quite as much as they were hoping.

– Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver (13) – This second-year player is a bright-spot on the offense. If the quarterback situation were more favorable/consistent, his stats would be higher. Speaking from experience, he’s not a bad guy to have on your fantasy team as a WR2 or WR3.

– Michael Oher, Right Tackle (72) – Used to be a left tackle, but he’s transitioned to a right tackle. He’s the real-life inspiration for The Blind Side book and movie. If you’ve never seen that movie, drop what you’re doing right now and go get your dose of Oscar-winning Sandra Bullock.

 

3 Defensive Players You Should Know:

Jurrell Casey, Defensive End (99) – Drafted by the Titans in 2011, Jurrell signed a pretty sweet 4-year $36 million contract extension prior to the regular season.

Jason McCourty, Cornerback (30) – He’s got a twin brother named Devin who plays for the Patriots. Their mom has a Facebook page of her own with 10,000+ likes. He’s a friend of our girl Chrissy Carew and one of her Insightful Players. He does a lot of charity fundraising with his brother for sickle-cell disease. He posts pictures of his daughter on social media and she is adorable. At the risk of sounding creepy, I would totally offer to babysit her.

Michael Griffin, Safety (33) – First-round draft pick that currently leads the team in total tackles. He also has three sacks and two interceptions on the season.

 

What Happened This Offseason:

– The Titans fired Mike Munchak, who held the head coaching position for 3 years after growing up in the organization. They hired Whiz.

– The team lost Chris Johnson, also known as CJ2K for the year he ran over 2,000 yards in a season. He went to the no man’s land also known as the Jets.

– The team also lost Alterraun Verner, a Pro Bowl cornerback, to the Buccaneers, who gave him a pretty hefty contract.

– They signed Dexter McCluster to a three-year deal. I think the original plan was to utilize him more as a running back, but he’s made more of a difference as a punt returner so far.

– Despite their revolving-door quarterback situation, they have some big names on the offensive line, like Andy Levitre and Michael Roos. They drafted Chance Warmack last year and Taylor Lewan this year to round out the group.

– They brought in Ray Horton from Cleveland as the new Defensive Coordinator. He’s switched up their scheme. Not sure it’s working out too well.

 

Why You Should Cheer for Them: If you’re looking for a long-term team to invest in, the Titans could be for you as long as you can overlook the short-term because they’re kind of a hot mess right now. They’ve only won two games at this point in the season, one against the hapless Jaguars, so that’s kind of sad. They’ve got a great offensive-minded coach who doesn’t quite seem to have the weapons he needs.

 

2014 Theme Song: Jesus, Take the Wheel (Carrie Underwood) – It doesn’t have to be Jesus, but someone has to take the wheel here because this team should be better this year.

Also, as Val pointed out to me, quarterback Charlie Whitehurst’s nickname is Clipboard Jesus, which makes this song choice even more appropriate. He got the nickname because of his long Jesus-y locks of hair and his perennial backup status.

You didn’t expect me to do a non-country song for a NASHVILLE-based team, did you?

(Side note: Is Carrie Underwood not one of the best looking pregnant ladies you’ve ever seen?)

 

The Last Word: We’ve always wanted to go to Nashville. If we did, our first stop probably wouldn’t be to see the Titans play (at least until they get their stuff together), but if there’s anyone that wants to put us up, let us know!

– Michelle

2014 Season Team Profiles: Houston Texans

2014 PRESEASON TEAM PROFILES (4)

Team Name: Houston Texans

Division: AFC South

Stadium: NRG Stadium (Houston, TX)

2013 Record: 2-14 (This stellar record earned them the first pick in the 2014 draft!)

Head Coach: Bill O’Brien (2014), spent five years in New England and then two years as Penn State’s head coach after the Sandusky scandal, also has an interesting personal story

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick (2014), Harvard grad also known as the Amish Rifle for his sick beard, proposed to his wife in front of a McDonald’s

 

3 Offensive Players You Should Know:

Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver (80) – If there’s a receiving record for the Texans, Johnson probably owns it. This is Johnson’s 11th year with the Texans, despite rumblings of trade talks earlier this year. He’s a pretty darn good receiver who is probably pretty frustrated by their QB situation.

Arian Foster, Running Back (23) – Foster was an undrafted free agent signed by the Texans in 2009. He owns a bunch of Texans rushing records, and when he’s not injured, he makes a lot of fantasy owners very happy. On a more personal note, he likes to write poetry and he’s a vegan.

DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver (10) – Drafted in 2013, he had a prolific college career. He certainly has a bigger role this year than he did last year, but hasn’t had the opportunity to shine yet. His role should increase over time, especially if Andre Johnson leaves the team.

 

3 Defensive Players You Should Know:

J.J. Watt, Defensive End (99) – What. A. Beast. Every week we like to include What J.J. Watt Did in our weekly game recap. Watt is one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league right now and judging by the 6-year, $100 million contract he signed in September, the Texans recognize that. He’s making a case to earn the MVP title this year, something usually given to offensive players. He’s also a nice guy:

Jadeveon Clowney, Linebacker (90) – The first overall pick in the draft, people had ridiculously high expectations of Clowney coming into the season. USA Today called him “by far the most freakish physical specimen” in the draft. He tore his meniscus in the first regular game of the season and has missed seven games so far.

Brian Cushing, Inside Linebacker (56) – Drafted in 2009, he had a stellar rookie season and it’s been a roller coaster ride ever since. He missed four games in 2010 after testing positive for a banned substance, had an outstanding 2011 season, tore his ACL and missed most of the 2012 season, and then missed most of the 2013 season due to injury.

 

What Happened This Offseason:

– The Texans fired Gary Kubiak as head coach before the end of the 2013 season and hired Bill O’Brien as his replacement.

– There was lots of quarterback movement in Houston. They traded Matt Schaub to Oakland, traded with New England for Ryan Mallett, and then signed the Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been their starter this season. Halfway through the season, there are rumors that Mallett could replace Fitzpatrick, who has had a mediocre performance so far in 2014.

– Running back extraordinaire Arian Foster was injured in 2013 and missed the second half of the season. He’s back this year.

 

Why You Should Cheer for Them: J.J. Watt. He’s one of the most dominant defensive players in the modern era and every week he seems to break some record or do something completely unexpected.

 

2014 Theme Song: So Fresh, So Clean (OutKast) – New coach. New quarterback. Fresh start. I would go as far as to say that the Texans are feeling so fresh and so clean.

 

The Last Word: It’s hard to expect miracles the first year you have a new coach and a new quarterback. It’s not a super strong division, which works in the team’s favor. You get the sense that they have the pieces for a really good team, it just might take some more time to put them together. The defense doesn’t seem to get the credit it deserves – it’s currently ranked in the bottom third of all defenses in the league. They lead the lead in some important stats, however, like takeaways (interceptions and forcing fumbles). If the offense would hold onto the ball better, their turnover differential would be near the top of the league.

 

– Michelle and Val

2014 Season Team Profiles: Indianapolis Colts

2014 PRESEASON TEAM PROFILES Indianapolis colts

Team Name: Indianapolis Colts

Division: AFC South

Stadium: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

2013 Record: 11-5

Head Coach: Chuck Pagano (2012 – present), the man inspiring the #ChuckStrong movement after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, he has since been in remission

Quarterback: Andrew Luck (2012 – present), known for his 4th quarter heroics. If Peyton Manning is going to leave your team, you hope that someone like Andrew Luck comes along because he’s got all the makings of a really really great quarterback and will probably be a threat for many years to come

 

3 Offensive Players You Should Know:

Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver (87) – He’s 35-years-old, but I’ll be darned if he acts like it on the football field. He has impressively spent his entire career with the Colts and currently ranks 7th on the all-time receptions list and 9th on the all-time receiving yards list. He’s had over 1,000 receptions. Think about it – if most receivers are lucky to get 5 or so receptions a game…it takes a lot of games to get to that 1,000 mark. He tore his ACL in 2013 and missed about half of the season.

T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver (13) – In his third year, T.Y. Hilton is off to a fantastic start in 2014, putting up some impressive numbers. He’s speedy and has steadily improved, gaining Andrew Luck’s trust. You would never know that he’s 5′ 9″, which is short for a wide receiver.

Dwyane Allen, Tight End (83) – I picked up this tight end late in my fantasy draft in 2012, his first year on the team. I was two years too early. After missing all of 2013 with an injury, Dwyane Alllen has proven to be one of Andrew Luck’s favorite targets this year.

 

3 Defensive Players You Should Know:

Arthur Jones, Defensive Tackle (97) – Arthur comes from a heck of a gene pool – he is the older brother of Jon Jones, the UFC Light Heavyweight Champ and Chandler Jones, the Patriots defensive end. He signed a 5-year contract with the Colts this year, so he must be doing something right as part of their defensive line.

Vontae Davis, Cornerback (21) – More siblings! Vontae is Vernon Davis’s (49ers TE) little brother. He spent 3 years in Miami putting up decent stats until Indianapolis traded a second-round pick for him in 2012. He signed a 4-year, $39 million deal this year.

Bjoern Werner,  Outside Linebacker (92) – OK, Bjoern may not be the biggest name on the Colt’s roster, but he’s German and for some reason, we love pointing out Europeans on this blog. Drafted in 2013, he’s already doubled the amount of sacks he had last year and we’re not even halfway through the season.

 

1 Special Teams Player You Should Know:

Adam Vinatieri, Kicker (4) – The definition of a clutch kicker, Vinatieri is probably one of the best-known kickers in the league. He is the first kicker to win four Super Bowls.

 

What Happened This Offseason:

– Reggie Wayne is back after tearing his ACL last year.

– The Colts signed Hakeem Nicks, a WR from the Giants, to a one-year deal. His numbers haven’t been too impressive so far this year, but it looks like the team is using him as more of an insurance policy if starters go down.

– The Colts lost Donald Thomas (Guard) and Vick Ballard (RB) for the year due to injury. Poor Donald missed most of last season due to injury. Poor Vick tore his ACL in 2013 and then did it again this year in the preseason.

– Outside linebacker Robert Mathis was suspended for the first four games of the season after testing positive for a banned substance that was in unapproved fertility drugs. He then tore his ACL working out on his own and is out for the year.

 

Why You Should Cheer for Them: #ChuckStrong. You feel bad that Colts players have been tearing their ACLs like it’s their job. You feel bad that they’ve lost in the first round of the playoffs the last two years. People in Indianapolis seem like they would be super friendly.

 

2014 Theme Song: Love Sneakin’ Up on You (Bonnie Raitt)The Colts are sneakily a really good team this year. We’re almost at the midway point and they are on a hot streak, with a defense that’s playing better than expected. Everyone knew they would be good, but at the end of the season, we’ll all be saying, we should have seen this coming (especially considering their weak division). That’s where the “sneakin’ up on you” part comes in with our song selection. Also, “Luck” sounds a lot like “love,” so it kinda sounds like Bonnie is saying “Luck’s sneaking up on you.”

 

The Last Word: Do you ever have trouble associating Andrew Luck with the Colts? Our mom doesn’t. As we all know, Peyton Manning left the Colts to go to the Broncos. As Momma O puts it, “he went to the big horsies.” Peyton’s replacement on the Colts, is the younger Andrew Luck. The Colts are the “little horsies.” Peyton = Big horsey. Andrew = Little horsey. Also, horseshoes are considered lucky. Luck = Horseshoes = Colts. Easy, right?

 

– Michelle and Val

How 32 Teams Make Up One League

Let’s talk about the league. The National Football League has 32 teams. That means there are 32 different cities/areas represented, 32 head coaches, and 32 different logos that you can get on adorable Victoria’s Secret PINK apparel.

Maybe all you care about is the PINK apparel, and that’s perfectly fine, but for those of you who have an interest in how to keep track of these teams, keep reading. Knowing the conference and division of a team will help a lot of things make sense, like who can play in a Super Bowl or why everyone in your town hates a certain team.

It helps to start at the beginning. As Julie Andrews said, it’s a very good place to start.

The NFL started, more or less in the early 1920s, and was composed of 10 different teams. The rules were different, the players weren’t as jacked, and the game was most definitely not generating billions in revenue.

The league became more organized, the game gained popularity, and by 1960, a second football league, the American Football League, was created. (There were other attempts to create leagues before this, but the 1960 AFL created by pissed-off people who had difficulty buying into the original NFL, was the only one that really seemed to work.)

Competition got fierce between the two leagues. We’re talking Beyonce-fierce. The leagues finally decided to stop screwing each other over (stealing players and such) and merge in 1966, completing that transition to one league in 1970. The Super Bowl was invented during that transition, with the regular season winners of the NFL playing the regular season winners of the AFL.

OK, that’s enough history for now. Let’s talk about conferences.

The original NFL teams became the National Football Conference (NFC) and the original AFC teams became the American Football Conference (AFC). The winners of each conference still play each other in the Super Bowl today.

The system for determining who makes the playoffs is an article in itself, but let’s save that for another day.

Stay with me now. We’ve established that there are 2 conferences. Each conference has 16 teams. To make scheduling a hell of a lot easier and facilitate the playoff system, each conference is divided into 4 divisions: North, East, South, and West.

That means there are 4 teams in the AFC North, 4 teams in the NFC North, 4 teams in the AFC East, 4 teams in the NFC East…yada, yada, yada.

Here’s your cheat sheet:

Capture

For the most part, teams are in the part of the country reflected in their division name. Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit are all in the northern area of the country, so it makes sense that they are in the NFC North.

AFC Teams

 

The naming-convention isn’t perfect, though. For example, the Dallas Cowboys are in the NFC East (with Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC teams) and the St. Louis Rams are in the NFC West (with Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona teams). Last time I checked, Dallas was not on the east coast…

 

NFC Teams

How do you remember if a team is AFC or NFC? Great question! My secret was to start watching more football. The AFC and NFC are usually on different networks. Different networks have different announcers. You watch enough games and you start to know that if Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are talking, they are on FOX, which means the host team is probably going to be NFC. On the other hand, if Jim Nantz and Phils Simms are chatting it up, the game is on CBS and likely a game with an AFC host team.

Probably lost some of you there throwing around the names football commentators. My bad. Let’s put it another way – If you see commercials for New Girl, American Idol, or 24, there’s a good chance the home team is NFC. If you see commercials for The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, or the Good Wife, you’ve probably got an AFC home team. This method isn’t flawless, especially if you are watching Sunday night football (NBC) or Monday night football (ESPN), but it’s a start. Zooey Deschannel = NFC. Shemar Moore = AFC. How easy is that?!

So there you have it – 32 teams split into 2 conferences, with 4 divisions in each conference.

This is important to know because it determines:

– Which teams can play each other in a Super Bowl

– The logic behind the regular season schedule and the playoff schedule

–  Why there are rivalries between certain teams (if they are in the same division, they play each other twice during the regular season and can keep one another from going to the Super Bowl)

Go forth and have confidence in your knowledge of the anatomy of the NFL!

I got some of my historical info for this post from this article, so you didn’t have to read it. I got my pictures, which I edited, from here.

– Michelle