Remembering Sidney Rice's 2009 season in Minnesota
One of the forgotten superstars of that Vikings team from 2009 was Pro Bowl wide receiver Sidney Rice. © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Dec 5, 2010; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice (18) watches his team play the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome. Vikings win 38-14. Sidney Rice was drafted in 2007 in the second round with the 44th overall pick by Minnesota. He would grow to become Brett Favre's most trusted receiver in 2009 for the NFC North-winning Vikings. He led the team in every major receiving category.
This will not qualify as particularly surprising news, but the Falcons have named Marcus Mariota their starting quarterback. On the first day of training camp earlier this week, quarterbacks coach Charles London confirmed that Mariota will serve as Atlanta’s QB1, while third-round rookie Desmond Ridder will begin his pro career as Mariota’s backup. © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota.
“Obviously, we’ve got a plan for each of them,” London said. “Marcus is the starter. That’s how we’re going into this thing,” via Josh Kendall of The Athletic.
Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick of the Titans in the 2015 draft, showed some promise during his five years in Tennessee, including a 2016 campaign in which he threw for 26 TDs against nine interceptions and rushed for 349 yards and a pair of scores. But Ryan Tannehill supplanted Mariota as the Titans’ starter midway through the 2019 season, and Mariota has spent the last two years with the Raiders as Derek Carr‘s backup.
Bucs' Leonard Fournette reportedly 'back in shape' at training camp
Any worries about Leonard Fournette’s weight gain this offseason can reportedly be put to rest for now. © Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette. Buccaneers reporter Rick Stroud shared last week that the former first-round pick had supposedly weighed in at approximately 260 pounds. That was concerning given that Tampa Bay listed Fournette at 228 pounds last season.But Fournette seems to have gotten his weight under control. According to Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed, Fournette weighed in at 245 pounds after reporting to camp on Tuesday.
During that time, he saw extended action in only one game, a Week 15 contest in 2020 in which he completed 17 of 28 passes for 226 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed nine times for 88 yards and a score. That performance was enough to generate trade interest the following offseason, but the structure of Mariota’s contract prevented a deal from being consummated. He ultimately remained with Las Vegas on a reworked pact, and he wound up throwing just two passes in 2021 (though he was occasionally brought in on special packages and rushed 13 times for 87 yards and a TD).
After trading franchise icon Matt Ryan to the Colts in March, the Falcons signed Mariota to a two-year, $18.75M contract. Even after that signing, the club was said to be considering using its No. 8 overall pick on a collegiate passer, though Atlanta chose to wait until the third round to select a QB.
49ers' Kyle Juszczyk: 'Not too much of a shocker' Trey Lance replaced Jimmy Garoppolo
Kyle Juszczyk spoke with media members on Tuesday and indicated those in the locker room knew Trey Lance was the offense's new CEO some time ago.Lance served as the team's QB1 throughout spring workouts and mandatory minicamp as Garoppolo recovered from March shoulder surgery. Last month, San Francisco fullback Kyle Juszczyk told reporters he could "only say positive things" about the 22-year-old signal-caller who had become "a very natural leader" in Garoppolo's absence. As Rohan Chakravarthi noted for 49ers WebZone, Juszczyk spoke with media members on Tuesday and indicated those in the locker room knew Lance was the offense's new CEO some time ago.
Ridder completed just under 65% of his passes for 30 TDs and eight picks in 2021 — a season in which he took Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff — and has the chance to become the long-term answer for Atlanta under center.
He may be working with the second team as he acclimates to the NFL, but he will be getting plenty of reps. We heard last month that the Falcons would be deploying Feleipe Franks, the only other quarterback on the roster, in more of a hybrid role, and Kendall confirmed that Franks will practice as a tight end for most of camp.
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Related slideshow: The biggest wish for every NFL fanbase in 2022 (Provided by Yardbarker)
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Starling Marte provided the walk-off single as the Mets topped the Yankees againLet's get right to it.
The biggest wish for every NFL fanbase in 2022
A new year is a sign of hope for many NFL fanbases. Here's the biggest wish for every NFL fanbase in 2022.
Arizona Cardinals: Better health
The Cardinals are having a breakout season in 2021, but have started to slide late in the year due in large part to major injuries. J.J. Watt was the first card to fall, but injuries to Chase Edmonds, Kyler Murray, and DeAndre Hopkins have made impacts late in the year that threaten the team's Super Bowl hopes.
Atlanta Falcons: More talent
The Falcons have done their best to remain in the playoff race, but the talent on the team is clearly lacking. The team needs to address the offensive line and defense desperately in the offseason if Matt Ryan is to have another chance at a Super Bowl.
Baltimore Ravens: Better luck with injuries
No team has had worse luck with injuries than the Ravens, and it started in training camp with the losses of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Marcus Peters. The team has lost one important player after another since then, including Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, and Lamar Jackson. The team is now fighting for their playoff lives, as a result.
Carolina Panthers: Quarterback
It's clear that Sam Darnold wasn't the answer, and the return of Cam Newton has been ugly. The Panthers will certainly address the quarterback position during the offseason and could opt for a veteran since they have plenty of talent elsewhere to win now.
Chicago Bears: New head coach
Matt Nagy is having his first losing season in four years as the Bears head coach, but fans have clearly had enough. The play calling and game management has been very curious in 2021, and the writing has been on the wall for the Bears to move on and find someone else to develop Justin Fields.
Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive line help
The offensive line has been a problem in Cincinnati for several years, and it wasn't a surprise that the problem persisted this year after the team opted to draft Ja'Marr Chase instead of Penei Sewell. The Bengals shouldn't regret that decision given Chase's outstanding play, but the need remains heading into 2022 with Joe Burrow getting sacked on more than 9% of dropbacks.
Cleveland Browns: More consistent quarterback play
It seems very unlikely the Browns would move on from Baker Mayfield, but they certainly need him to play better. Mayfield has played through multiple injuries this season and it has shown, but he simply hasn't been good enough for the team to get where it wants to go. Cleveland's roster remains loaded with talent.
Dallas Cowboys: The great version of Dak Prescott
Prescott was a top MVP candidate early this season before suffering a calf injury. He's seemed to lose momentum since then. The Cowboys have had major injuries around Prescott, which have certainly played a role in his decline, but that might not be the entire story. From Weeks 11-15, Prescott had 5/5 TD/INT, which isn't good enough for a team that still leans on its offense.
Detroit Lions: Talent
First-year head coach Dan Campbell has done his best, but the Lions entered the year with inferior talent after failing to do much in free agency. Detroit might be able to survive with Jared Goff a little longer, but they certainly need to build around him with offensive weapons and defensive talent.
Green Bay Packers: Keeping Aaron Rodgers
Packers fans didn't know if Rodgers would play for the team in 2021. He's not only played but had another MVP-caliber season. Green Bay has hopes of another Super Bowl, but no one knows what will happen after the playoffs with Rodgers. Jordan Love struggled in one start this season, so fans clearly don't want to see Rodgers go elsewhere.
Houston Texans: A quick rebuild
The last two years have been rough in Houston. There have been myriad factors, from Bill O'Brien's poor front office moves to Deshaun Watson's legal troubles. The end result hasn't been pretty for the Texans, and the team needs a lot more talent than what they have currently to compete. Texans fans deserve faster progress.
Indianapolis Colts: Super Bowl
After beginning the season 0-3, the Colts now look like the team that no one wants to play. The running game has been incredible in Jonathan Taylor's breakout season, and the defense is finally shaping up. If Carson Wentz can avoid ill-timed turnovers, the team has a chance to really make some noise in the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars: New head coach
To say that the Urban Meyer hire was a disaster is an understatement. The Jaguars have to turn the page again, but the job remains very attractive with a young roster led by Trevor Lawrence. Jacksonville ownership has made a lot of mistakes in recent seasons and can't afford to get this decision wrong.
Las Vegas Raiders: Better drafting
The Raiders have remained in contention despite a complete nightmare off the field in 2021. The Jon Gruden emails and firing were the first ball to drop, but the off-field issues that led to the release of 2020 first-round picks Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette were even uglier. The team needs to draft better both in terms of talent and character, with years of failed reaches and head-scratching picks preventing the Raiders from getting where they'd like to be.
Los Angeles Chargers: Continued progress
The Chargers are clearly on the right track with Justin Herbert at quarterback and first-year head coach Brandon Staley. The team looks likely to make the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and has seen impressive results in back-to-back drafts. With a talented young core, the Chargers look set to challenge in the AFC for years to come.
Los Angeles Rams: Super Bowl
The Rams are clearly all-in this year after acquiring Matthew Stafford, Odell Beckham, and Von Miller. The team's model of stars with little depth behind them has worked out to this point but could be considered a failure if they fail to reach the Super Bowl.
Miami Dolphins: More consistency
Miami still has a real shot to make the playoffs, which is incredible considering they started the season 1-7 after seven consecutive losses. The team had a lot of problem areas and embarrassing losses early, but the defense has finally rounded into form with just enough help from Tua Tagovailoa and company. The Dolphins could be contenders in the AFC East next year if they can be more consistent, particularly early in the year.
Minnesota Vikings: Defense
Minnesota's defense has plunged over the last two seasons, and it could prevent them from making the playoffs in back-to-back years. They've ranked in the bottom 10 in points allowed again, with a secondary that has struggled to stop anyone.
New England Patriots: Super Bowl return
The Patriots have had an incredible turnaround in 2021 with Mac Jones' addition, and the return of an elite defense. While the Pats had a bump in the road with a loss at Indianapolis, they still have a good chance to make noise in the playoffs. The future continues to look bright with Jones and company, as long as Bill Belichick is leading the way.
New Orleans Saints: Quarterback
The transition after losing Drew Brees has been very rough for the Saints. Jameis Winston suffered a major knee injury early in the year, and the future of Taysom Hill under center remains to be seen. A lack of receiving weapons hasn't helped matters, but it's clear the team needs to do better at quarterback next year.
New York Giants: New leadership
The Giants continue to scuffle, and there are probably more questions about the organization now than when the team drafted Daniel Jones three years ago. New York could make changes at head coach and GM during the offseason, but Jones' future with the organization is uncertain after a season-ending neck injury and more hot-and-cold play in 2021. Winning looks ever more distant for the Giants, even after their offseason shopping spree.
New York Jets: Better quarterback play
The Jets used the second overall draft choice on Zach Wilson, a pick that they could already be regretting after his early struggles this season. It's too soon to give up on Wilson, but fans will need to be prepared for the team to take more lumps in the next year or two if he does remain under center.
Philadelphia Eagles: Improved passing game
New Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is making the most of his offensive talent, as the team has transitioned to a run-heavy scheme with good success in the second half of the season. The play of Jalen Hurts has improved in conjunction with the offensive changes, but the big passing plays have been few and far between despite consecutive years using first-round picks on wide receivers. For the offense to join the elite, Hurts will need to continue developing as a passer.
Pittsburgh Steelers: New quarterback
Ben Roethlisberger has done a lot for Steeler Nation, but it's been clear for the last year that his time is coming to an end. The offensive performance has been ugly this year despite plenty of weapons, with Big Ben now unable to move out of the pocket or make strong throws. With some offensive line help, the Steelers quarterback job could be the most attractive in the NFL as the team likely searches for a replacement in the offseason.
San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance's development
Jimmy Garoppolo's play has been extremely inconsistent in 2021, and many fans are ready to see Lance, the team's prized first-round pick. Head coach Kyle Shanahan's hesitancy to play Lance isn't a great sign, but the hope is that he will be ready to lead the team in 2022. With Shanahan's masterful offensive scheme, the upside is huge if Lance proves capable.
Seattle Seahawks: Keeping Russell Wilson
There were rumors Wilson wanted out of Seattle last offseason, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them get louder after the Seahawks struggled in 2021. Of course, Wilson's finger injury and poor play since he returned are a large part of the reason Seattle has struggled, but he should still have good years left under center if he's healthy. Wilson has brought great consistency to the organization since his arrival, and it's probably scary for the fanbase to think what the future will be like without him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Super Bowl repeat
The Bucs are in a great position for another Super Bowl run despite some major recent injuries, including Chris Godwin's season-ending knee injury. Until Week 15, Tom Brady had been playing at an MVP level, and the defense continues to be elite against the run. Tampa Bay has a realistic chance to have a parade in 2022.
Tennessee Titans: Returning to health
The Titans have been plagued by injuries during the second half of the season after a great start to the year. The team was able to get star wideout A.J. Brown back from injury recently, and Derrick Henry could be ready when the playoffs begin. Tennessee has hopes of a playoff run if Henry is back to 100%.
Washington Football Team: New quarterback
Taylor Heinicke has done everything the team has asked of him since his great playoff showing last year, but his best probably isn't good enough for the team to be a champion. Washington ranks in the bottom half of the league in most passing categories and hasn't had an explosive offense. Likely to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, Washington seems likely to invest in the veteran quarterback market this offseason.
49ers willing to wait until cut-day to move Jimmy Garoppolo .
While the team permitted Garoppolo to seek a trade, they’re willing to wait until roster cut-down day to move him, in order to get a maximum value, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. According to Rapoport, there just isn’t a perfect trade partner out there right now for Garoppolo to go to. When looking out at the quarterback rooms across the NFL, there isn’t really any team struggling enough to field a starting quarterback that they’d be willing to take on Garoppolo’s salary.