Encouraging Statistics and the Case for Offense at No. 9

Most mock drafts seem to have the Bengals locked in on defense with the ninth overall pick and rightfully so. Marvin Lewis has always been a defensive minded coach who has a penchant for DB’s and DE’s. With holes to fill at both positions, it’s pretty easy to see why an analyst forced to predict all 32 first round picks would have Cincinnati reaching into the Derek Barnett, Reuben Foster, Solomon Thomas potpourri.

That being said, my impression is that more and more fans (specifically on this site) want to go offense at no. 9, myself included. The logic stemming from what the Bengals already have as opposed to what we don’t have. Yes we need to get faster as a whole on defense. Yes we need an elite pass rusher opposite of Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. Yes there is potential uncertainty in the secondary and along the offensive line.

On the flip side, however, the Bengals are still somewhat loaded on offense. Andy Dalton is a well above average QB. Both A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert are considered among the best at their respective positions, and Giovanni Bernard is as dynamic as they come out of the backfield. You don’t exactly have to possess a Lombardi level knowledge of the game to see that the offense is significantly more explosive when all four are suited up. So much more explosive in fact, I was compelled to research our offensive success and Andy Dalton’s effectiveness in games played with Eifert, Green, and Bernard all in the lineup as opposed to games without. Here are my findings:

Note: This data takes into account every COMPLETE game in which Dalton started under center and Tyler Eifert, A.J. Green, and Giovanni Bernard all participated including postseason games which are denoted with an asterisk. Games against opponents that went on to make the playoffs are highlighted in red.


Now compare those numbers against games in which Dalton started under center and either one or more of that same trio did not participate.


The most noteworthy discrepancies that stood out to me are as follows:

1.) Dalton, Green, Eifert, and Bernard have only played a grand total of 30 games, less than two full years together in 4 NFL seasons. Not ideal.

2.) The Bengals have a .700 win percentage with Dalton and co. on the field as opposed to a .531 win percentage without – Just a shade above .500.

3.) The Bengals are essentially scoring an extra TD per game when Dalton has all of the weapons at his disposal as opposed to a limited arsenal. How many non-wins were decided by just one score this year alone? (Seven. The answer is seven).

4.) Against playoff teams, we’re looking at a 7-4 vs. 4-9-1 split. Significant because that debunks the “Bengals can’t win in Primetime or vs. good teams” rumor.



5.) Last but certainly not least, are the difference in Andy Dalton’s individual statistics.

Dalton has played a total of 32 games without one or more of the subjects, which splits up nice and even to the equivalent of two full NFL seasons.


For reference, Dalton’s single season average without Eifert/Green/Bernard is almost identical to Cam Newton’s 2016 numbers. Newton was the 28th ranked passer in the NFL this year.

Here are Andy Dalton’s splits in the 30 games played with Eifert/Green/Bernard


For reference, those numbers are almost identical to Andrew Luck’s 2016 season. Luck finished as the 9th rated passer in the NFL.

Furthermore, only six NFL QB’s have thrown for 4,000+ yards and 30+ TD’s while winning 70% of their games since 2013.

  • Tom Brady 2x (2015 – 1 MVP vote, AFC Championship appearance, 2014 – 1 MVP Vote, Super Bowl 49 Champion)
  • Peyton Manning 2x (2014, 2013 – 55 TD’s, MVP award winner, Super Bowl 48 appearance)
  • Aaron Rodgers (2014 – NFL MVP, NFC Championship appearance)
  • Cam Newton (2015 – NFL MVP, Super Bowl 50 appearance)
  • Carson Palmer (2015 – 1 MVP Vote, NFC Championship appearance)
  • Tony Romo, 2014

Obviously football games aren’t won with Microsoft Excel and a TI-39. They’re won with physical play and proper execution on the gridiron. That being said, these numbers indicate that when Andy Dalton is surrounded with top flight offensive talent, he’s capable of generating the kind of  top flight individual AND team numbers on par with some of the best and most successful quarterbacks in the game today. The problem the Bengals face is that injuries and the departure of key free agents have limited Dalton’s exposure to elite offensive talent and forced him to work with players that are “just another guy” for lack of a better term. By adding more talent at the skill positions on offense, the Bengals could theoretically have someone to step up and fill the void in the likely event that one or more of Dalton’s primary weapons goes down. And if everyone is healthy and firing on all cylinders? Goodnight.

Drafting a guy like Mike Williams, Corey Davis, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, or O.J. Howard with the 9th pick could provide the Bengals with the type of firepower necessary to make an immediate and noticeable impact. I wouldn’t even mind taking a guy like ArDarius Stewart or JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second if they feel defense, OL, etc. is the way to go at no. 9.

Free agency isn’t out of the question either. I’m not crazy about that idea because the Bengals haven’t had the greatest luck with free agent WR’s *cough* Antonio Bryant *cough* Laverneous Coles, but the Bengals have the cash and names like Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Kenny Stills will be available.

If the Bengals want to become a real competitor again in a hurry, it’s imperative that they add another big time weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Or they can just draft another CB to sit the bench for three years before finally sniffing some reps in our nickel package. Their choice, not mine.

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DraftKings Picks, Week 3

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Good news bad news, fellow fantasy nerds: The good news is, due to a rash of injuries in the ranks of professional football, anyone with a dream and a shred of athletic ability may actually get the call to suit up on Sunday (seriously, the Patriots have zero active quarterbacks. Tebow Time?). The bad news, said injuries have added even more uncertainty to a young season that has already proven to be wildly unpredictable. On that note, let’s take a quick look at the impairments that will be affecting the outcome of this week’s fantasy landscape:

Adrian Peterson – Out. Opted to have surgery on a torn meniscus and may miss the rest of the year. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata assume RB duties.

Ameer Abdullah – Out with a busted wheel. Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington are next in line.

Danny Woodhead – Torn ACL. Melvin Gordon now gets the chance to prove why the Chargers drafted him. #Saveaspotfordanny

Doug Martin – Out, hamstring. Charles Sims will carry the pill for the Bucs.

Jonathan Stewart – Tweaked a hammy and won’t play on Sunday. Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker will split carries.

Thomas Rawls – Doubtful with a leg contusion. Christine Michael would take his place.

Arian Foster – Is he never not hurt? Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake will split the workload.

Corey Coleman – Out, broken hand. LOL Browns.

Donte Moncrief – Out, shoulder. T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett should see an increase in targets.

Antonio Gates – Doubtful, hamstring. Looks like Antonio’s HGH plug came up short and Philip Rivers is down yet another offensive weapon.

Delanie Walker – Questionable with a hamstring injury and hasn’t shown any signs of improvement. May miss a favorable matchup against what could wind up being a historically bad Raiders defense.

Wow, I’m winded.

Even with what seems like half the league out or questionable, Week 3 still offers some pretty enticing matchups.

Let’s get right to it:


Matt Ryan, $7.4K

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Just a few months ago, most Atlanta fans were ready to feed Ryan to Michael Vick’s dogs. That attitude may have changed though, as Matt Ryan appears to be having a nice little career resurgance checking in as the league’s top rated passer and highest scoring fantasy QB. Ryan faces a New Orleans defense that was torched by both Derek Carr and Eli Manning and boasts career averages of 301 yards and a 96.1 rating against a traditionally suspect Saints D. At $7,400, Ryan is this week’s fifth most expensive QB, but given the extremely favorable matchup, Matty Ice’s services should be on par with the pay.

Carson Palmer $7.2K

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Speaking of career resurgences, Carson Palmer is pretty much the poster boy for finding new life after taking his licks in Cincinnati and Oakland for more than a decade. At $7,200, Palmer probably won’t be this week’s high scorer, but given the fact that his offense faces the Bills, Carson is more or less a shoe in for 20+ points which makes him a great play in 50/50 or head to head games where generating a solid score is all you need.

Marcus Mariota $5.8K

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Remember when I said that the Raiders defense was historically bad? Well I wasn’t really kidding. Two games is just a small sample size, but as of right now, the Raiders are giving up a cool 523 total yards a game, which bodes well for the multi-talented Flyin’ Hawaiian. At only $5,900, Mariota is far and away this week’s best value play.

Other Value Plays: 

Philip Rivers – $6,700, faces a bad Colts D possibly without Vontae Davis again.

Joe Flacco – $6,100 in a tilt against the Jags who have been extraordinarily underwhelming this year.

Andy Dalton – $5,700, although he faces the all world Denver defense on Sunday, Dalton has quietly averaged 366 yds/game and the Bengals don’t run the ball at all.

Running Back

Melvin Gordon $5.8K

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Gordon is unquestionably this week’s must start RB play. With half the San Diego offense on the shelf, Gordon will get plenty of opportunities against the Colts dead last run defense. At only $5,800, Gordon’s matchup and availability is almost too good to be true, so be mindful of the fact that he’ll be owned by just about everyone in your GPP or money game.

Matt Forte $7K

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Admittedly I wasn’t real high on old man Forte with a new team this season, but Forte has succeeded in making me look like a buffoon as he’s put up numbers while becoming an integral part of the Jets offense. Forte picked up right where he left off in Chicago, serving as a three down back who can do everything out of the backfield and against the Queefs 29th ranked run D, Forte should post another huge week.

Other Obvious Plays: 

David Johnson – $7,700. From here on out, anyone facing the Bills is probably a must start. They’re that bad. RIP  Bills Mafia and the Ryan Brothers

C.J. Anderson – $7,300. C.J. has been as consistent as they come and my Bengals can’t stop a nosebleed.

Value Plays: 

Isaiah Crowell – $4,700. The Browns are running out there with Cody Kessler at QB and no real offensive weapons. Crowell has been good so far and should see a huge workload Sunday against the Fins.

Kenyan Drake – $3,600. Apparently the Fins coaching staff doesn’t really like Ajayi and if that’s the case, Drake would be the beneficiary of all the carries against the Browns in a game they will likely win.

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones $9.5K

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AB is widely considered the best receiver in the league and gets all the glitz and TV spots, but Julio Jones still reigns king in the fantasy world. Jones is the key to that Falcons offense and with both Mohammed Sanu and Jacob Tamme taking pressure off the big wideout, Julio will probably feast yet again facing a suspect Saints secondary. Pair Julio with Matty Ice and watch the money pile up.

Larry Fitzgerald $6.6K

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I don’t think I can stress this point enough: BILLS STINK! Sorry Bills Mafia, but your team just isn’t that good. Both AJ Green and Big Dick Decker torched the Bills in consecutive weeks and both Green and Decker are big receivers with exceptional route running skills. Larry Fitz wrote the book on that and will likely add to his legacy with another big performance on Sunday.

Jarvis Landry: Landry was born to benefit from DraftKings PPR scoring system, as he’s more or less money for about 7-9 catches per game. With the oft-injured Devante Parker questionable yet again, Landry will be the Dolphins top target and will likely eat against a bad Browns secondary. Let’s dance.

Value Plays: 

Stefon Diggs – $5,100. The matchup against Carolina is a bit scary, but Diggs is transforming into a star right before our very eyes and should see a ton of targets in a game where the Vikes will be playing catch up.

Tajae Sharpe – $4,700. If Walker is unable to go, Sharpe will be atop the pecking order for the Titans against the Raiders.

Mike Wallace – $5,000. Wallace can still take the top off a defense and has been the beneficiary of Flacco’s big (possibly elite?) arm.

Tyrell Williams – $4,300. The receiving corps is looking pretty thin in San Diego and if Vontae Davis plays and locks up Travis Benjamin, Williams could see a lot of balls coming from Phil’s weird, awkward, throwing arm.

Contrarian Play:

A.J. Green – $8,100. It’s tough to consider A.J. Green a ‘sleeper’ or under the radar play, but the words “A.J. Green, Bengals, and Denver” may scare off a lot of owners. However if you’re the superstitious type that believes in good mojo or a goldfish making NFL picks, then consider this

A.J. just had his first son this week and as I mentioned earlier the Bengals don’t run the ball, so while everyone else is staying away from the stripes, you could be looking at a potential T.Y. Hilton situation on Sunday with A.J. Green.

Tight Ends

Delanie Walker $5K

 His status will be of utmost importance come Sunday morning, as he’ll be Mariota’s top dog if he’s able to play against the Raiders.

Jacob Tamme $3.2K

I don’t know how he does it, but Tamme keeps catching balls in an offense that really overshadows him. At only $3,200, you could do a lot worse than Jacob Tamme at the TE spot.

Dennis Pitta $3.4K

 Pitta was one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets before suffering that wicked hip injury a couple years ago, but now that he’s back on the field he’s back to balling. Pitta and Flacco look like they’ve picked up right where they left off in an offense that doesn’t feature a whole lot of other top targets.


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The Dream Team: Putting Together a U.S. Olympic Football Team, Part II: Defense & Special Teams

With the exception of the Men’s Basketball team closing in on their quest for gold, the Olympics (or at least the sports that most Americans care about) are all but over. However if you still need your daily fix of international competition, part II of Team USA’s American Football roster is finally here. This time it’s the defense and special teams.

Once again, here are the selection criteria in case you need to refresh your memory:

  • America has a history of not always sending professionals to compete internationally (i.e. the pre-Dream Team basketball era), but this roster has been assembled under the assumption that Uncle Sam has decided to take off the white gloves and come at the world with everything we’ve got.
  • American Football is actually played on an international stage with each team allowed 45 available non-professional roster spots, however I was unable to confirm that number and since the NFL is the measuring stick of all American Football and because whittling the worthy down to 53 was hard enough, the NFL’s standard 53 available roster spots is what we’re rolling with.
  • The roster was assembled under the assumption that every player selected is willing to miss training camp and brave disease, toxic water conditions, theft, and the possibility of potential murder for the chance to win America’s first ever football gold medal.

One more thing: Keep in mind that this is just a roster, not a depth chart. It was hard enough to find 53 players worthy of the Olympic roster, let alone put them into a 5,000 word blog while I’m at work. If you have any suggestions, feel free to get at me on Twitter or leave them in the comment section.

You can catch up on part I HERE.

Defensive Ends

JJ Watt – Amazingly enough, JJ Watt has found enough time in between flipping tires, nursing sick children back to health, and chopping down trees in the Wisconsin wilderness to accept Uncle Sam’s invitation to Rio. It doesn’t matter if Team USA is going with a base 4-3 defense, a 3-4, a 3-3-5 stack, or just throws JJ out there all by himself, Watt is going to wreak havoc because love him or hate him, he’s the best player on the planet right now.

Carlos Dunlap – If Dr. Frankenstein were to build a prototypical NFL defensive end from the ground up in his laboratory, the end result would probably look a lot like Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap has everything you’re looking for out of a defensive end. Good size, good speed, length, big hands, great footwork; the total package. That would explain Dunlap’s 14.5 sacks last year and why he’s eyeing Strahan’s single season sack record this upcoming season.

Chandler Jones – Much like Dunlap, Chandler Jones has every physical attribute you look for in a defensive end. The Patriots are known mostly for their prowess on offense, but Bill Belichick built a pretty formidable unit on the opposing side of the ball thanks in large part to the pressure Jones would bring off the edge before taking his talents to Phoenix. Also Jones likely won’t be phased by Rio de Janeiro’s rampant cocaine problem, seeing as he’s the younger brother of troubled UFC fighter, Jon Jones.

Michael Bennett – Seattle’s staunch defense was brought to prominence by Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom, but it’s much easier to lock down receivers one on one when Bennett is bearing down on opposing quarterbacks. Also I call dibs on writing Bennett’s firsthand account of the Olympic Village because you know he won’t hold anything back. The Bennett boys are as real as it gets.

Defensive Tackles

Geno Atkins – Geno Atkins is a man of few words, and if he were your run of the mill defensive tackle, most people outside of the Queen City wouldn’t even know who Geno Atkins even is. However, Geno isn’t just your run of the mill defensive tackle. Throughout the course of his still young career, Atkins has used his incredible strength and explosiveness off the ball to become one of the best defensive tackles, if not all around defensive players in all of football.

Ndamukong Suh – Much like many of the players on Team USA’s roster, Ndamukong Suh was about as can’t miss as they get coming out of college. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s quick, and he’s mean. Like, real mean. Much like Incognito was brought in on offense for his attitude and bullish demeanor, Suh will unquestionably bring a nasty edge to an already stacked defensive unit. The only question mark surrounding Suh is whether or not he’ll spark an international incident when he inevitability punches an opposing team’s quarterback square in the beans.

Aaron Donald – Being one of the best interior lineman for an 8-8 team in the Midwest doesn’t get you much shine, but being one of the best interior lineman out in Los Angeles may just turn you into a star. Donald is nearly impossible to block one on one and now that he’s playing under the bright lights in Hollywood, expect Donald’s dominance to turn him into a household name.

Gerald McCoy – Don’t look now, but Jaemis and the Bucs have a chance to be sneaky good this season thanks in large part to the talent they’ve amassed on defense. McCoy certainly fits into that category as his ability to wreak havoc on the offensive line can cause huge problems for opposing offenses.

Marcell Dareus – The Bills are growing increasingly impatient with the talented Dareus as he will have to serve a four game suspension for a missed drug test this offseason. Fortunately, a missed NFL drug test doesn’t mean shit to the IOC so it’s either sit on the couch or lay low in Rio for Dareus.

Vince Wilfork – Much like Mangold on the the offensive side of the ball, Wilfork was brought in to provide leadership for an otherwise young defensive line. Wilfork is a behemoth and can still make plays from time to time, but Vince is mainly here to provide a likeable, veteran presence and perhaps no one personifies a likeable, veteran presence more than Vince Wilfork.

Pass Rush Specialists (LB/DE)

Von Miller – Von Miller spent the majority of the offseason fighting with John Elway and Broncos management, so what better way to blow off some steam (other than spending some of that new $115 million contract money) than to head down to Rio and terrorize some foreign signal callers? Miller is one of the better pass rushers and all around defenders in the game and no Olympic or All Pro roster would be complete without him.
Khalil Mack – It’s a shame that Khalil Mack has to chase around ball carriers on a baseball field, and even more of a shame that the Raiders star is spending the early years of his career out west away from the national spotlight. Much like the Broncos Miller, Mack specializes in rushing the passer and has already proven himself to be one of the best linebackers in all of football.


Luke Kuechly – In today’s NFL, it’s rare that fans, experts, players, and coaches can come to an agreement on which player is the best at their particular position, but Luke Kuechly is an exception to that rule. Since entering the league in 2012, Kuechly has been named to three straight Pro Bowls and All Pro teams and can do just about everything that has been asked from a middle linebacker on a defense that made the Super Bowl last year.

Navarro Bowman – not long ago, San Francisco was one of the league’s great superpowers, but much like the former Soviet Union, leadership problems and key defections left a once proud organization reeling. However much like Vladimir Putin, Navarro Bowman is the last bastion from the glory days where he was, and still is one of the premier linebackers in the game.

Vontaze Burfict – Burfict’s career has been marred by his on field reputation, suspensions, and numerous games missed due to injury. Because of that, many fans don’t realize how good Vontaze Burfict really is, but when he’s not injured or in Roger Goodell’s doghouse, Tez is arguably one of the top linebackers in the NFL. Don’t believe me, just go back and watch that playoff loss to Pittsburgh last year. Personal foul at the end of the game not withstanding, Burfict was the best player on the field in a game that featured a two time Super Bowl winning quarterback, a receiver that has put together statistically the best three year run in the history of the league, a five time Pro Bowler, and a former NFL defensive player of the year.

Jamie Collins – I have a soft spot in my heart for Jamie Collins as he blocked a meaningless field goal last season to clinch me a fantasy playoff berth. He also happens to be one of the most versatile defenders in the league as evidenced by said block. Collins can rush the edge, plug up holes, run with receivers and tight ends, even line up out wide on rare occasion. Collins is the Swiss Army knife to Bill Belichick’s Patriot defense.


Richard Sherman – The Don King of Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom.’ Perhaps the league’s best trash talker since the Bengals Chad Johnson in the mid-2000’s. And much like Johnson, Sherman can back up all that talk. Seattle uses Sherman to shut down one side of the field and he’s done that job so well that opposing quarterbacks rarely look that direction anymore.

Patrick Peterson – The Peterson/Sherman rivalry may be the best individual position rivalry in all of football. Much like Sherman, Peterson is one of the NFC’s premier shutdown corners as well as one of the top return threats in football.

Josh Norman – In a way, Norman helped solidify Cam Newton’s status as the 2015 NFL MVP. Before Cam put the mitts on Norman at training camp back in 2014, Norman was kind of a scrub. Since the scuffle, Norman turned himself into a shutdown corner and one of the league’s most sought after free agents this offseason. Just make sure his locker is in the opposite corner as O’dell Beckham Jr’s.

Darrelle Revis – Another year, another spot amongst the league’s elite for Darrelle Revis. Since entering the league, Revis has hopped around the NFL collecting large paycheck after large paycheck and proving to be a nightmare for opposing pass catchers in the process. He’s a bit older now, but Revis Island is still very much open for business.

Malcolm Butler – Bob Costas and the rest of the NBC team covering the Olympics just love to hit you with inspirational pieces about athletes who overcame long odds to compete and acheive their goals on the biggest stage in all of sports. With that in mind, Costas is salivating over the chance to document Butler’s rise to Olympic glory. Don’t forget, Butler was originally an undrafted free agent out of Alcorn State before picking off Russell Wilson in one of the most memorable plays in recent memory. Not to mention he’s an All Pro talent and a nightmare for opposing wide receivers.


Earl Thomas – Richard Sherman gets all the headlines, Kam Chancellor makes all the highlight reel hits, but Seattle’s best DB is Earl Thomas. Thomas’ speed and instincts allow him to cover the entire field and embody everything defensive coordinators are looking for out of a safety in the modern NFL.

Eric Berry – Team USA is fortunate that the IOC approved Berry for competition in the 2016 Summer Games because Eric Berry may not be from the same country, or even the same planet as you or I. Anyone who can come back from lymphoma and play in the National Football League in the span of a year isn’t of the same species as the rest of us. Yet here we are and Berry is still an All Pro talent and arguably the best safety in the game today.

Tyrann Mathieu – perhaps no one in recent memory has had their off field issues documented quite like Mathieu, and perhaps no one in recent memory has been the perfect example for getting Back on the straight and narrow quite like the Honey Badger. Mathieu’s playmaking ability was never in question and now that he’s gotten his wits about him, Honey Badger is one of the top safeties out there.

Harrison Smith – Harrison who? How about Harrison that just cashed a check making him the highest paid safety in the league. Smith flies a little under the radar because he’s a white guy that plays in Minnesota, but make no mistake, Harrison Smith is the real deal. His size, speed, and versatility allow him to do just about everything a safety needs to do in Mike Zimmer’s staunch defense.


Stephen Gostkowski – Perhaps the hardest thing in all of sports to do is to come in and try to replace a preceding legend. Following in the footsteps of Patriots great Adam Vinatieri is no small feat, but Gostkowski has lived up to the hype nailing clutch kick after clutch kick while receiving plenty of kicking opportunities in one of the league’s best offenses.

Pat McAfee – Everyone’s favorite punter gets a chance to unleash “The Boomstick” in Rio, however something tells me this team won’t be doing a great deal of punting. McAfee is there for the scenery.

Nate Boyer – If you haven’t heard Nate Boyer’s story, do yourself a favor and check that out after you finish reading this article. Boyer is a true American hero and if anyone deserves to represent the United States in international competition, it’s Nate Boyer.

Also Googling “best long snappers in the NFL” doesn’t yield a whole lot of results and if you can honestly name more than two long snappers, DM me and I’ll Venmo you $5.




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The Dream Team: Putting Together a U.S. Olympic Football Team, Part I: Offense

T-minus 48 hours until the 2016 Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro in what is sure to be the most disastrously entertaining games the world has ever seen. Team USA looks to continue their usual international dominance on the court, the pitch, the track, and in the poop water, but what if the gridiron was included as well? What if in some parallel universe the IOC voted to make American Football an actual Olympic sport? What would that team look like?

In the spirit of international competition and also because I have too much time on my hands, I decided to put together a hypothetical roster of America’s best and brightest football talent to compete for a gold medal on sport’s biggest imaginary stage.

A couple things:

  • America has a history of not always sending professionals to compete internationally (i.e. the pre-Dream Team basketball era), but this roster has been assembled under the assumption that Uncle Sam has decided to take off the white gloves and come at the world with everything we’ve got.
  • American Football is actually played on an international stage with each team allowed 45 available non-professional roster spots, however I was unable to confirm that number and since the NFL is the measuring stick of all American Football and because whittling the worthy down to 53 was hard enough, the NFL’s standard 53 available roster spots is what we’re rolling with.
  • The roster was assembled under the assumption that every player selected is willing to miss training camp and brave disease, toxic water conditions, theft, and the possibility of potential murder for the chance to win America’s first ever football gold medal.

With that said, let’s get right to it.


Tom Brady – Did you really expect anyone else to be starting under center for Team USA? In addition to being probably the greatest QB to ever lace ‘em up, Brady embodies everything the rest of the world thinks about your stereotypical American man. A tall, unbelievably good looking, rich, super-model wife having, red blooded winner. Love him or hate him, it’s tough to picture an American football Dream Team without Brady at the helm and his hoodie clad overlord patrolling the sidelines.

Aaron Rodgers – There are plenty of QB’s out there capable of posting big numbers. There are a handful of guys who are capable of winning an MVP trophy, and there are even fewer guys who are gonna be at the top of that list year in and year out. Aaron Rodgers is certainly one of those guys. In fact, Rodgers is still probably the most talented QB in the NFL right now. Not the most accomplished, not the biggest or the fastest, but no one has shown to have a better combination of arm strength, accuracy, mobility, decision making, and overall feel for the game longer  than Rodgers. See exhibit A:

Ben Roethlisberger – Let’s just get this out there, I HATE Ben Roethlisberger. As a Bengals fan, I’ve seen him wreak havoc on my team far too many times, not to mention he’s a shit human being. Having said that, if this were an episode of “Game of Thrones” and I was facing a trial by combat where I needed to win one football game to continue walking this Earth, I still might be picking Big Ben as my QB. The dude just wins football games and posts numbers at an alarming rate. All personal biases aside, he’s probably got another Super Bowl in him and will likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer regardless.

Side Note: Tough to keep reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton off the team, but at least one of these guys have started 9 of the last 15 Super Bowls with each getting at least one Lombardi Trophy. Not saying that Cam can’t or won’t end up doing that, but this is all about winning that gold medal and America has always had to make sacrifices to achieve a common goal. In 1941 Rosie didn’t really want to pick up a wrench and become a riveter and my boy Cam doesn’t want to be that guy who watches from home, but every team needs a camp arm to take a few snaps and hold some clipboards at tryouts before they become the full time starter at the 2020 games in Tokyo.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson – The bell cow. Most people would agree that Peterson is one of the most talented and physically imposing runners to ever set foot on the field. Likewise, Peterson is going to be among the leaders in your fantasy league if he isn’t busy beating his kid with a stick. Not a whole lot else to add here. Just imagine some little squirt from Guatemala or some shit trying to step up and tackle AD in the 5 hole.

Todd Gurley – The slasher. Much like it’s considered cool to hate on Nickelback, it’s considered cool to hate on running backs being drafted in the first round. The modern game seems to have devalued the running back position, thus devaluing the need to select a running back high in the draft- unless that guy’s name is Todd Gurley. Gurley was as can’t miss as they get coming out of Georgia. So much so that a torn ACL didn’t stop him from being selected in the top ten and leading the league in runs over 20+ yards last season. At just the tender age of 22, Gurley may already be the best RB in the game.

LeVeon Bell – The third down back. LeVeon Bell will be Jamaal Charles when Jamaal Charles finally loses a leg due to injury. That just means that Bell is as complete of a back as they come and will account for a large part of his team’s offense for years to come. He can run, he can catch, and he can block. Basically everything you’re looking for out of a third down runner. And since Roger Goodell is getting ready to make sure Bell isn’t going to be doing much until October, the 2016 games in Rio would be a nice place to kill some time.

Mike Tolbert – Whatever position that Mike Tolbert plays. Not really a RB, but as close as you’re going to get to a true fullback in today’s game. Japan is surely going to stock their D-line full of former sumo wrestlers and those Eastern European guys eat steroids with their cereal, so Team USA is going to need themselves a bruiser that can move the pile, something that Tolbert excels at with the best rushing team in the league. Not to mention Tolbert actually logs some carries and catches the ball out of the backfield pretty effectively. Something I think more teams should adopt with their FB but I guess that’s why I’m sitting here writing hypothetical articles about fake football teams and not running an NFL front office.

Wide Receivers

Antonio Brown – Another Steeler I’ve seen faaaaaarrrr too much of yet can’t deny his prowess on the field even the slightest little bit. Statistically, Brown has put together the best three year stretch in the history of professional football. Not to mention he’s probably the most complete receiver in the game today. He’s got elite speed and quickness, can go deep, can go underneath, can run after the catch, and not to mention he’s an absolute hound in the return game.

Julio Jones – To be honest with you, I’m a bit of a Julio Jones truther. I think his numbers get inflated a bit because he’s the beneficiary of a shitty Falcons team that’s lost a lot on offense, but there’s still no doubt about what Julio can do on the gridiron. Julio is one of those guys you could have looked at in the sixth grade knew immediately was going to be a 5-star recruit and future first round draft pick. A condition more commonly referred to as “physical freak.”

Odell Beckham Jr. – OBJ is another one of the more complete receivers in the NFL. Beckham would probably be used more in a slot role on this team due to his speed, quickness, and ability to get up the field after the catch, and who can forget that OBJ is the ONLY football player in the history of the world to make a one handed touchdown catch per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Brandon Marshall – This spot was a tough toss up between B Marsh and Dez Bryant, but I gotta give the edge to Marshall. For being a big guy, Marshall excels in the short to mid-range passing game, but is also a big time red zone threat which really rounds out this receiving corps nicely. No shitty QB’s on this roster to throw under the bus. Also Marshall and Brown can get that Porsche bet started a few weeks ahead of schedule.

AJ Green – Biased? Yea, probably, but AJ Green has posted 1,000 yards and gone to the Pro Bowl every single year of his still young NFL career. The only other player to do that was a guy named Randy Moss. I checked out his Wikipedia page and apparently he was pretty good. Regardless of where AJ lands on your top receivers list, it’s tough to deny that AJ is the best deep ball, go up and get it threat in the league now that Detroit ruined Calvin Johnson’s career. Speaking of Calvin…

Calvin Johnson (Maybe) – Calvin insists he’s hung up the jockstrap for good, but let’s be honest, dude could still dominate the league if he just got healthy and linked up with a team not named the Lions. Team USA has plenty of firepower even without Megatron, but don’t forget the ’92 Dream Team extended an invite to Magic Johnson even after he revealed he was HIV positive. Expect this Dream Team to do the same for Calvin after spending his entire career in Detroit, which may be worse than the AIDS thing.

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski – Perhaps no player on this team was more of a shoe in for a roster spot then Rob Gronkowski. Gronk is unquestionably the best player at his position and not giving Tom Brady his favorite target to throw to makes less sense than having the Olympics in Rio in the first place. Not to mention the party videos from Gronk coming out of the Olympic Village would be the stuff of legends.

Greg Olsen – Guys like Gronk, Tyler Eifert, and Travis Kelce get all the shine, but Olsen’s career has been as solid as his beard game. Olsen has emerged as Cam Newton’s favorite target, posting over 800 yards in four straight seasons as well as proving to be a force in the league’s number one running game. The former 7th Floor Crew member and his third leg should also provide some veteran leadership to an otherwise young tight end corps.

Jordan Reed – With Tyler Eifert hurt and Travis Kelce busy with new dating shows, Jordan Reed gets the nod for the last TE spot, although it might have been his regardless. When Reed isn’t hurt himself, the guy posts MAJOR numbers. At least that’s what my fantasy scoreboard tells me. Every time I see the Skins play (which admittedly isn’t much), it’s Reed running and people chasing.

Offensive Line


Joe Thomas – Thomas is, and has always been, widely considered the best offensive tackle, and maybe the best offensive lineman in all of football. Naturally, that makes the six time All Pro selection a shoe in for a spot on the roster. Unfortunately for Joe, he’s had to spend his career in Cleveland, but a shot at gold in 2016 should make up for that. Luckily for Thomas, the adjustment to the poor water conditions in Rio shouldn’t be much of a factor considering his proximity to the Cuyahoga River for the past nine seasons.

Tyron Smith – If Joe Thomas is the incumbent as the best tackle in the game, then Tyron Smith is the young buck looking to take the crown. Jerry Jones has built a monster offensive line down there in Big D and Smith has been a monumental part of their success. Linemen don’t get much bigger and more athletic than Smith and if Pro Bowl defensive ends have their hands full with Smith, then one can only imagine the problems he might pose on the international scene.

Andrew Whitworth – Outside of the Queen City, Big Whit doesn’t get nearly the kind of love and respect deserved out of a lineman who consistently posts some of the best pass blocking numbers of anyone in the game. The only way Team USA doesn’t cruise to gold is if injuries start piling up and morale starts suffering. Whitworth is about as solid as they come and will make sure the signal callers stay upright and their jerseys stay clean.

Jason Peters – No one is arguing that Peters’ best days as a football player are behind him, but Jason Peters has had about as good of a career as an offensive tackle as anyone in recent memory. While the pass blocking has declined a bit, the giant Peters is still a force in the running game and should be able to toss around the competition in short yardage situations.


Marshal Yanda – It’s no secret that the key to winning games in the AFC North rests in the ability to control the line of scrimmage and pound the rock, and perhaps no guard is more of a force in today’s game than Mr. Yanda. Yanda possesses outstanding explosiveness off the line and plays with excellent body control not indicative of an interior offensive lineman.

Zack Martin – Much like his teammate Tyron Smith, Zack Martin is an integral piece of what is widely considered the best offensive line unit in all of football. Martin is two for two in Pro Bowl appearances for his first two seasons. The last Cowboy to do that: Emmitt Smith, who was also a pretty good player according to his Wikipedia page.

David DeCastro – Speaking of the AFC North, David DeCastro knows all about getting down and dirty in the trenches. DeCastro has pretty much been one of the best guards in the NFL since entering the league in 2012, and it’s blatantly obvious that the Steelers high powered offense isn’t nearly as potent when he and center Mike Pouncey aren’t on the field. That isn’t a coincidence.

Richie Incognito – America didn’t become the greatest super power the world has ever known by being the nice guy on the block. Sometimes you have to get dirty and do things like spend more money on the military than most other developed nations combined, or bully big fat pussies out of the locker room before finding a nice little career resurgence in Buffalo. Richie hasn’t always had the greatest reputation off the field, but no one is denying that Incognito’s play at the guard position is still considered among the best in the game.

Richie has no time for individuals of any creed or color that stand in the way of Old Glory and that celebratory 24 karat medallion.



Ryan Khalil – Carolina has been one of the best running teams in the league dating all the way back to the Thunder & Lightning days. Guys like Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Cam Newton naturally get all the credit, but a good line is built from the inside out and Khalil leads the way for 2015’s top rated rushing team.

Nick Mangold – The casual NFL fan can name dozens of running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers, but ask that same fan to name a few centers and the list gets considerably shorter. One guy on that list just about everyone knows, however, is Jets center Nick Mangold. Much like Peters at the tackle position, Mangold’s days in the sun are far behind him, but his leadership and likability are as strong as ever. Mangold’s veteran presence will be key for some of the younger lineman and his role on the roster will be understated yet important a la Coach K’s token Duke guy who always seems a way to crack the USA Basketball roster.

That’s it for the offense. Stay tuned for Part II, the defense, coming soon.

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Documenting the Pokémon Go Experience at Paul Brown Stadium for Cincy Jungle


Gotta Catch ‘Em All…

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The Ultimate Football Movie NFL Mock Draft, Round 1, Pick 7: San Francisco 49ers

The pick is in…

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How Bad Did Nike Drop the Ball By Not Releasing These Sleeveless NFL Jerseys a Decade Earlier?

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.36.42 AM

Utterly ridiculous…

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The Ultimate Football Movie NFL Mock Draft, Round 1, Pick 6: Baltimore Ravens

The pick is in…

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One Down, 161 More To Go

opening day.PNG

Wire to wire…

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Here’s Everything New GABP Has To Offer In Honor Of Opening Day

The Flying Pig, a bacon-wrapped mettwurst with hot

Baseball is BACK, you guys…

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