It’s Time to Start Taking The Tennessee Titans Seriously

Free Agency has been a roller coaster of surprising, emotional, head-scratching and wild pickups. Tuesday, the Packers headlined the day, snagging Jimmy Graham and cutting Jordy Nelson. Some other popular pickups were Case Keenum to Denver, Cousins to Minnesota, Sammy Watkins to KC and Bridgewater to the Jets but, why isn’t anyone talking about what’s going on in Nashville. The Tennessee Titans picked up Malcom Butler and Dion Lewis from New England. Hello? This is huge!

In today’s NFL, Defensive backs rule the defense. With that said, a team can no longer rely on just two corners. Instead, three or in some cases four are what teams are looking for. After picking up Butler on Tuesday, Tennessee has created one hell of a cornerback trio. Malcom Butler, Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson. Butler and Ryan both played together in New England and won a Super Bowl during their time with the Pats. Bringing their experience and chemistry on to the Titans is definitely a positive. As for Adoree Jackson, he is coming off a solid rookie season alongside Logan Ryan. Jackson is only getting better and he’ll be able to thrive even more by getting to learn from the experienced Ryan and Butler.  Malcom Butler isn’t an elite corner but, with Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson, Tennessee’s pass defense will certainly be significantly better.

As for Dion Lewis, he is replacing the recently released, DeMarco Murray. This makes the Titans new one-two punch, Lewis, and Henry. Oh boy. Like Malcom Butler, Dion Lewis brings key experience to the offense. Something Murray couldn’t offer. Lewis is coming off a 1,000 yards rushing season with the Patriots and now being paired with Henry, the two running backs have the potential to be the NFL’s next great RB duo. It’s going to be fun to see how Tennessee utilizes these guys.

The Titans are a team that has been quietly building a monster. Last year, we got the first glimpse of what this Tennessee team is capable of. Earning a playoff berth and defeating Kansas City on the road when they were MAJOR underdogs, there’s no denying this team has improved quite a bit. The AFC South is going to be a battle in 2018. Deshaun Watson will be back for Houston, Andrew Luck will be back for Indy, Jacksonville is coming off an AFC championship appearance and now Tennessee has a respectable pass defense, top RB duo, and Mariota has multiple receiving weapons lead by Pro Bowler, Delanie Walker. It won’t be easy but, Tennessee shouldn’t be overlooked in the AFC South and in the AFC in general in 2018.

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

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Welcome to Denver, Mr. Keenum

It is almost 2 AM as I am writing this and the news of Case Keenum intending to sign with the Denver broke only an hour ago. Passing on Kirk Cousins, Elway and the Broncos decided to spark the free agency QB race by signing Case Keenum. As a die-hard Broncos fan myself, it was impossible for me not to write about this immediately after finding out.

First off, why Keenum over Cousins? Well, it’s simple really. Denver was looking for someone who would fit their system best and even though Cousins is the better QB overall, none of that matters if he doesn’t play in a system that fits him. Although it was a fun thought, Cousins in Denver just wasn’t the right fit. As for Keenum, he thrived in Minnesota’s offense last year and the Vikings are nearly the same team as Denver when you think of it. Denver’s system with Siemian and Osweiler was almost identical to Minnesota’s with Keenum. I think we all know which one had more success. Keenum thrived last year. A lot of credit goes to Pat Shurmur and Minnesota for working with what Keenum had and building a perfect system around him. Nothing flashy. Simple but, deadly. This said I think Keenum will fit just fine in Denver’s offense.

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Although he does seem like a solid fit, what if Case Keenum’s incredible year in 2017 was just a fluke? Remember 2015, when Brock Osweiler started 7 games for the Broncos? He went 5-2 in those games and was a big part of the reason Denver reached the Super Bowl. A year later, Houston signed Osweiler to a $50 million dollar contract. Look how that turned out. Osweiler was a 7 game wonder. Although I do believe Case Keenum is a better QB than Osweiler in many areas, I’m just not completely sold on him yet. Now don’t get me wrong, if he does even somewhat similar to what he did last year in Minnesota, I and Denver fans alike will be ecstatic.

Overall, I really like Case Keenum as a player and a person. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see him come to the Mile High City. The potential he has to thrive in Denver’s offense has me giddy. With the recent quarterback struggles, we Broncos fans are desperate for QB to get us out of this hole we’ve been stuck in for the past 2 years. If Keenum is that QB, I’m more than ok with it.

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

Teams You Shouldn’t Trust in The 2018 NCAA Tournament

Selection Sunday has finally arrived. The day fans all over the country wait to see their school listed on the tournament field or have their hearts broken and face the reality of getting snubbed. Either way, people will be glued to their TV’s and anxiously awaiting to fill out all of their brackets. So as we all await the selections, I thought I’d go through a list of teams that shouldn’t be trusted when filling out our brackets, no matter how good of a pick they may seem to be. Let’s get straight into it.

Virginia Cavaliers: Almost guaranteed to be the No. 1 overall seed, I’m probably crazy for thinking this right? Work with me here. Virginia is an incredibly talented defensive minded team and I’m not trying to take anything away from what they accomplished this year. With that said, that is all this UVA team is. Relying only on defense, Virginia has been average at best on the offensive side of the ball and in March Madness that will only get you so far. Last year, Virginia had a very similar team and they took a second round exit after getting manhandled 65-39 against Florida. Not to mention the fact they barely squeaked by their first-round opponent UNC Wilmington the game before. Don’t be surprised to see UVA as the first No. 1 seed knocked out.

Kentucky Wildcats: This year’s UK squad is a confusing one. They’ve lacked consistency all season long and you just don’t know which team will show up any given night. Even John Calipari himself once mentioned the ongoing struggle to find their identity. They are an easy pick because of the name but, with one of the youngest groups in recent memory and with no clear leadership, it’s hard to imagine this Kentucky team to really be a true threat in this year’s tournament.

Any Big 12 Team Except Kansas: Usually one of the best conferences in college hoops, the Big 12 was a complete mess in 2017-18. Kansas was the usual stand out, Texas Tech was the surprise team of the conference, Oklahoma started out hot and turned into an absolute train wreck and West Virginia has been up and down. Other than that, the rest of the competition was nothing more than average. As for the NCAA Tournament, the last time a Big 12 team not named Kansas or Oklahoma made a Final Four was Kansas State in 1964. With Oklahoma possibly not even making the field, Kansas is once again the only team people should trust but, even then KU hasn’t been able to get further than the Elite Eight the past 5 years.

Wichita State Shockers: The Shockers will once again be walking their way into the tournament without a sweat. Even though the 25-7 (14-4) record looks pretty on paper, Wichita State has just one high-quality win (Cincinnati), and two “OK” wins (Baylor, Houston). They haven’t seen a lot of tough competition. The Shockers also failed to reach their conference championship game, coming off a loss to Houston in the semifinal. The past few tournaments they showed that they can still compete with the big boys but can’t seem to make past the second round. WSU will most likely end up with a top 5 seed but, don’t let that fool you into thinking they are a better team than what they’ve proved themselves to be.

Duke Blue Devils: For some reason, I can never get myself to trust Duke when filling out brackets. It seems like every year they are either an early exit or a deep run/National title. No matter how talented the team is, the Blue Devils always end up being a coin flip in March.

In the end, nothing you just read truly matters because not a single person knows how March Madness will play out. After all, that’s the beauty of this entire spectacle. So as we wait for the selections to be announced, it’s time to let out the inner analyst in us all and prepare ourselves to fill out the best brackets possible. Finally, March Madness has arrived.

– Collin Borron 

All Eyes on Cleveland After Series of HUGE Trades

The NFL offseason has been filled with significant trades and the trend continued on Friday as the Cleveland Browns stole the spotlight picking up Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall. Here’s how it happened:

– Cleveland traded 2018 4th round draft pick & 2019 7th round draft pick to Miami for Jarvis Landry

– Cleveland traded 2018 3rd round draft pick to Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor

– Cleveland traded Deshone Kizer to Green Bay for Damarious Randall and also swapped draft picks in the 4th and 5th rounds.

The Browns are showing the NFL and the rest of the sports world that they’re done messing around. Not only did they pick up these guys for little to nothing but the Browns still have 5 of the top 65 picks. Two of them in the top 5 and three in the 2nd round. Also these trades could just be the beginning as they are expected to make a push for Richard Sherman or Tyrann Mathieu.

By week 1 of the 2018 season, it’s very possible that we could see Tyrod Taylor, Saquon Barkley, Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon on the field starting for Cleveland. Holy moly. Although it’s a fun thought, the Browns could pass up on Barkley and draft a much-needed defensive back and snag Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’ll be very difficult for the Browns to find a way to screw up this draft, especially now with their current situation. Also don’t be surprised if the Browns use one of their top 5 picks on Quenton Nelson if Joe Thomas does end up retiring which seems like that will be the case. In the end, this is all speculation and will all depend on how Cleveland finishes in free agency.

The Browns took a big step in the right direction on Friday and expect them to keep reeling in serious talent as free agency continues.

– Collin Borron

Wade Phillips & Aqib Talib Reunite in Los Angeles

The talk about Aqib Talib potentially being traded has been going on for months now. As a Denver fan myself, I didn’t necessarily want to see him go but I also understood the idea of trading him. When I finally got the notification that he was officially done in Denver and headed to the Los Angeles Rams, it was a bittersweet moment. Talib was a key factor to Denver’s success over the previous few years and especially on the Super Bowl winning squad in 2015. Instead of me listing off his accomplishments here’s a tweet that sums up his time with the Broncos rather well.

 

With all of the rumors of Talib returning to New England, I was beyond relieved to see he was going to the Rams. I already wrote about how there is a storm brewing in Los Angeles after they picked up Marcus Peters and how the Rams were just a few pieces away from being capable of a Super Bowl. Adding Talib is a huge step in reaching that goal. Sure he’s reaching the end of his career but, he has proven that he still has a lot to offer and is still an elite corner back. Being paired with Marcus Peters, this has more than enough potential to be the next great cornerback duo in the NFL. Wade Phillips is going to have a lot of fun this offseason with Peters and Talib. Phillips was more than likely ecstatic to see that his former Super Bowl champion corner will be rejoining his squad.

Although it is sad to see him go, I’m happy for Aqib Talib and the Los Angeles Rams. It’s a win for both sides. I’m beyond excited to see what Wade Phillips puts together on defense during this offseason. With the addition of another star corner, the storm continues to grow in Los Angeles.

– Collin Borron

Missouri Tigers: Porter’s Return Makes Tigers A Serious March Threat

Michael Porter Jr was one of the most anticipated talents heading into this season. Expected to be a top 5 lottery pick, the #1 recruit in the country is a one of a kind talent. He was set to bring Missouri back from consecutive years of struggling. So, one could only imagine how Mizzou fans felt when Porter suffered a hip injury in the first 2 minutes of the season opener. Requiring spinal surgery, he was expected to be out for the entire season. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Wednesday afternoon at the Scottrade Center, the Tigers were holding their first practice before the matchup against Georgia in the SEC tournament when Porter came out and started putting up jumpers. With such a beautiful shot, one would’ve never thought he’s been out all year. Not to mention the fact that he drilled 15 consecutive three pointers. Porter is ready to go and at the best time possible. March.

After losing Porter in the opener, Missouri was expected to once again be at the bottom of the SEC but, the Tigers proved otherwise. Mizzou finished 4th in one of the toughest conferences in basketball this year. The Tigers finished the regular season 20-11 (10-8) with a handful of quality wins on the resume. Just a year ago this same team went 8-24. Quite the impressive turnaround and it was all without their star small forward. In fact, I would argue Mizzou is even better than their record shows. The Tigers have suffered some incredibly close and heartbreaking losses this season where they looked like the better team for 35 of 40 minutes of the game but couldn’t quite finish. To put it short, this team is a lot better than they get credit for and with Michael Porter Jr returning, they could elevate into one the deadliest dark horse teams come March Madness time.

If you’re near a TV at 3:00 pm EST Thursday afternoon, I highly recommend tuning into SEC Network to witness the return of Michael Porter Jr.

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

Florida Gators: Could 8 Years of Mediocre QB Play End in 2018?

The 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl. The last game of Tim Tebow’s legendary college career at Florida and the beginning of the programs 8 year-long quarterback drought. This would also be the last time Florida would ever truly be an elite team. After Tebow graduated, a year later Urban Meyer stepped down and UF found themselves in an all out rebuild. The one aspect the Gators have managed to maintain over the past 8 years, is their top-tier defense. The defense alone is the reason UF hasn’t completely fallen off the face of the college football world. As for their offense, it’s an entire different story and it all goes back to the inability of finding and developing quarterbacks. As a Florida fan, it pains me to say that the Gators haven’t had a quality QB since Tim Tebow. With that said, I have a lot of confidence that the 8 year drought can and will come to an end this upcoming season. Before I get into why, let’s take a look at all of Florida’s QB’s since 2010. WARNING: It’s a longer list than it should be.

2010 – 2011: John Brantley – Never heard of him? There’s a reason why.

2011 – 2012: Jacoby Brissett – Another below average QB at Florida before transferring to NC State and actually having a solid career with the Wolfpack. Currently with the Indianapolis Colts.

2012 – 2014: Jeff Driskel – After a decent freshman year, Driskel underperformed and was eventually benched. He then transferred to Louisiana Tech and just like Brissett, he went on to have much more success.

2013: Tyler Murphy – After leading Florida to a comeback win over Tennessee, he was thought to be the hero QB the Gators have been looking for. Unfortunately he also quickly fizzled out and then transferred to Boston College.

2013: Skyler Mornhinweg – After benching the two QB’s ahead of him, the Gators named the 3rd stringer the starter. It didn’t go well.

2014 – 2015: Treon Harris – Had a lot of hype coming out of high school but, never lived up to it in his time with the Gators. Transferred to Tennessee State.

2015: Will Grier – Finally. Florida found their QB. Leading UF to a 6-0 start and looking like an elite player, Grier and the Gators looked unstoppable. Unfortunately, it was too good to be true. Grier was suspended for PED’s and then transferred to West Virginia.

2016: Austin Appleby – Transfer from Purdue. Played like a transfer from Purdue. Sorry Purdue.

2016 – 2017: Luke Del Rio – After showing sparks of potential, Del Rio lacked consistency and was incredibly injury prone.

2017: Malik Zaire – After looking promising at Notre Dame,  Zaire had a lot of Florida fans excited when he announced he was transferring to UF. That would be the only time Florida fans would be excited about Zaire.

2017: Feleipe Franks – Currently the starter, Franks has shown potential and still has a shot to return as the starter next year.

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Here we are today. As the Gators prepare to have their biggest QB battle in years between Feleipe Franks and Emory Jones, fans have high hopes for the upcoming season. After hiring Dan Mullen a.k.a “The QB Whisperer”, Florida may finally have the coach they needed all of these years to properly develop a quarterback. Mullen has proven he can turn a program around after making a lowly Mississippi State team a consistent Top 25 team. He also turned Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzpatrick into high quality QB’s. Something that was unheard of at MSU. Oh yeah, he was also the offensive guru at Florida during the Tebow era, winning two national titles with the Gators.

As one can see, it’s understandable for us Florida fans to be beyond excited for the 2018 season. Whether it’s Feleipe Franks or the 5 star recruit Emory Jones, I’m looking forward to seeing Mullen and his staff revive these quarterback’s and the entire offense as a whole. This could be UF’s return to the spotlight or at least the beginning of it.

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