Isaiah Thomas Already Causing Trouble in L.A.

Do you ever just look at a couple and right away can tell that they just aren’t going to work together. They’re great people and all, but as duo they just don’t “click”. Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James were that couple.

After arriving in Cleveland, Isaiah Thomas just didn’t seem like he belonged, nor did it seem like he even wanted to be there. Fast forward a few months, the Cavaliers are just a big mess. No chemistry, no effort, horrific defense and the former Boston super star still had yet to make any sort of impact. It just wasn’t working.

Then today happened. The NBA trade deadline has finally arrived and oh my goodness did Cleveland take full advantage of it. To no surprise, Isaiah Thomas was traded away and sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Cleveland easily got the better end of the deal.

Shortly after being traded, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols received a text from Thomas’ agent saying “HE IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH.”

Well that’s a bit aggressive. Then apparently IT4’s agent followed that statement up suggesting they’d rather have a buyout than come off the bench.

Now we just have to wait and see how the Lakers will make him fit into their roster and with Lonzo expected to return in the near future, we’ll see if Thomas and his agent stay true to their words and attempt to get out of Los Angeles.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

49ers Go ALL IN On Jimmy Garoppolo

We all knew it was coming at some point this off-season. Today it finally happened. The San Francisco 49ers gave QB Jimmy Garoppolo a 5-year contract extension worth $137.5 million. Making it largest in league history in terms of “average per year”. The 49ers found their franchise quarterback and John Lynch made it official.

Garoppolo transformed one of the worst teams in the NFC to one of the hottest when he arrived in October. The Niners didn’t lose a game when he started, going 5-0 while looking seemingly unstoppable. Also keep in mind during his time in New England he never lost when he started, going 2-0. Jimmy G is 7-0 in the NFL as a starting QB. Has he done enough to earn this payday? In my opinion, absolutely.

The Patriots traded Garoppolo away to the Niners last October for a second-round pick in the 2018 draft. I can’t help to think that Belichick and New England just sort of gave him away. Then again, was he really worth anything more at the time? Either way, San Francisco found their guy for little to nothing.

Personally, I’m glad for Jimmy G and would really like to see him continue to thrive in San Francisco. The organization and fans certainly deserve to get back on the map and I have no doubt that the 49ers will see themselves back in the playoff talk in the 2018 season.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

Jacksonville & Minnesota Will Be Simply Average in 2018

The Jaguars and Vikings had two of the best defenses in the NFL this past season. They went on incredible runs deep into the playoffs. Both competing in their conference championship. It’s safe to say after their successful seasons, they will come back next year with a ton of momentum and continue their winning ways. Right? Actually, no.
Jacksonville was given a situation where it was almost impossible for them not to win their division. The Colts didn’t have Andrew Luck all year, Houston was on FIRE with Deshaun Watson but then he suffered a season ending injury, and Tennessee was their toughest competition. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Titans as I actually think they are brewing up something special with Mariota and that offense, but they are still a ways away from being a true threat. In the end, Jacksonville took full advantage of the very messy AFC South.
In the Playoffs, the Jaguars squeaked by the Bills in the Wild Card round, dominated Pittsburgh for half the game and upset the Steelers at Heinz Field in the Divisional Round and were minutes away from defeating the Patriots in the AFC Championship but couldn’t quite put the game away and came up short.
The Jaguars earned our respect, especially in the playoffs and I’m not trying to take anything away from their special season. It’s their success that will be their downfall.
The 2017 season and playoff run creates a tougher 2018 schedule. Both New England and Philadelphia are early opponents of the Jags next season. Also the AFC South will be at full strength. Indianapolis will have Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson will be back for the Texans and Mariota is only getting better. Jacksonville could very easily finish 3rd or 4th in their division next season and personally I expect at best a 9-7 record.
This same concept applies to the Vikings in the NFC North. The Bears were just plain out bad, Green Bay lost Aaron Rodgers to injury and the biggest competition was an ‘alright’ Detroit Lions squad. This created a dream scenario for the Vikings and they, like the Jaguars, took full advantage of it.
Minnesota’s 2018 schedule is ridiculously tough. Here’s a list of just some of their competition.
– New England Patriots (Duh)
– LA Rams (Best Offense in Football)
– Green Bay Packers TWICE (Healthy Rodgers)
– New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees)
– Philadelphia Eagles (Defending SB Champs)
– San Francisco (Jimmy Garoppolo)
– Seattle Seahawks (Always a challenge)
Those are just the toughest opponents. Don’t forget about having to face a solid Detroit team twice as well. Minnesota is in for quite the wake up call.

All in all, to me it looks highly unlikely that the Vikings and Jaguars will duplicate their success from a season ago. Opponents returning healthy, much tougher teams scheduled and both are without star QB’s. Not quite the recipe for success.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

The Most Underrated RB of the 2018 NFL Draft

With the 2018 NFL Draft on the horizon, there’s one position class that is loaded with talent. The Running Backs. Headlined with names like Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel & more. But there’s a beast of a player that little to nobody is talking about. Tennessee’s John Kelly.

We all know how Tennessee turned out this year, but believe it or not Tennessee was ranked for a few weeks during this season. All because of one player that seemingly put the team on his back. John Kelly. He started out the year on fire & was practically the one who won 3 of the Vols 4 wins this year.

Week 1 against Georgia Tech, he ran for 128 yards and scored 4 TD’s, leading the Vols to a double OT thriller victory.

Week 3 in a losing effort to Florida, Kelly played his best game of the season seemingly dominating one of the SEC’s best defenses in Florida. He carried the ball 19 times for 141 yards and a touchdown. He also recorded 6 receptions for 96 yards. He was literally the only reason the Tennessee Vols were even competitive in that game.

Week 4 in a win against UMass, he recorded himself another 100+ yard rushing performance.

After that though, the season didn’t go well for the Vols. After all, Kelly could only have the team on his back for so long before crashing and burning against their brutal SEC schedule.

So why I am I so high on this John Kelly guy if he didn’t lead his team to a successful year or even have that great of a year? As Luke Skywalker once said “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before (Dalvin Cook). It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now (John Kelly).”

The few great performances Kelly had, were enough to sell me on this kid. His strength, speed, and overall build are unreal. His play style reminds me so much of FSU’s Dalvin Cook. Kelly plays with an anger and passion that isn’t found in most running backs nowadays. Unlike Cook, Kelly wasn’t surrounded by a top 10 team and I think that is another reason why Kelly is overlooked. Seeing him against Florida alone had me sold. This guy is going to thrive in the NFL.

This is one of those players that you just have to actually witness play to really grasp on to the idea of him being a success. Nonetheless, I personally feel like John Kelly is the best-hidden gem in the 2018 NFL Draft.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)