Brock Osweiler must prove that he is bigger than “The Moment”

By: Michael Eccleston

The Houston Texans (2-0) signed young quarterback Brock Osweiler to a massive four year, 72 million dollar deal this past offseason for big Primetime games like tonight. Houston has had a running game with stars such as Arian Foster and now Lamar Miller, along with one of the better defenses in the NFL for years now led by one of the greatest defensive players ever in J.J. Watt. They’ve had solid receiving cores led by top receivers such as Andre Johnson and now DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans have had some of the best all-around teams in the league, yet they just haven’t seemed to be able to get over the hump when it’s mattered the most.

What have they been missing? Houston has always been considered to be a quarterback away from contending for a Super Bowl.

Well, now they have one. 72 million dollars is a lot of faith in a quarterback who had only started seven games and had thrown 10 touchdown passes. If Osweiler left the Broncos because he didn’t want to deal with the pressure of succeeding Hall of Fame quarterbacks such as John Elway and Peyton Manning, or the pressure of becoming the next quarterback for a team that just won the Super Bowl, well, believe it or not, he’s come to the wrong place. Whether it’s fair or not, the 25 year old is going to be under fire immediately because he’s behind center for what has been considered to be a very good football team.

This isn’t a newly up and coming team, this is a team that many have lost faith in over the last few years because they just seem like the kind of team that isn’t big enough for “the moment”. They’ve been the biggest tease in the NFL. Well, people are starting to believe that the Texans will take the next step this season because of Brock Osweiler, and if they are going to do so, they NEED Osweiler to prove that he is the guy who can take them there. Hopkins said earlier in the week that tonight’s Patriots game is just another football game. IT IS NOT. This game in New England against a banged up 2-0 Patriots team is the kind of game Houston has to win in order to be taken seriously as contenders coming out of the AFC South. It’s a statement game that “this isn’t that same first round exit team we’ve been in years past”.

This is considered a must win game for the Texans because of the fact that the Patriots are throwing third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett out there, and even if tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) plays tonight, he most likely won’t be out there for every snap. And if Houston wants to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, they will need to go through New England in order to to get there, and if they can’t beat them tonight, I can only imagine what’s going to happen if they have to play a playoff game at Gillette Stadium against Tom Brady and a fully healthy Rob Gronkowski led Patriots team. I don’t care if it’s Week 3 or Week 16, this one is huge and Houston needs to capture the moment.

But, if they lose and Brock Osweiler doesn’t play well, what does that say about them? What does it say about him? Same old Texans. Overpaid Osweiler. Just not big enough for that moment.

The pressure is on.

Future Extremely Bright for Bronx Bombers

By: Michael Eccleston

What a difference a year makes, huh? Going into this season, the New York Yankees were old, had question marks across the board, and everybody was asking which way they were going, because frankly, as long as you have big money names, you’re going to have expectations on you.

The Bronx Bombers did exactly what they needed to do: They traded away their stellar bullpen arms because they knew they had large holes that had to be filled, and they’re doing just that. They’re finally coming to the realization that a youth movement is needed. Some young fire has been added to this team that we haven’t seen in the Bronx since the days of the Core Four.

The Yankees brought young catcher Gary Sanchez up a few weeks ago, and all I have to say is this: “Brian McCann… Pack it in. You don’t have to go home but you have to get the heck out of here.” The future is here and that doesn’t have you in it. I mean good lord. Gary Sanchez has just stunned everyone. This might be the greatest month a rookie has had to start off a career. In just 99 at bats this season, Sanchez has 35 hits which is a .398 average, and has hit 11 home runs with 21 runs batted in… These are video game numbers! I don’t usually jump to conclusions, but this kid is Babe Ruth. Hah I’m just kidding. But seriously. He’s making hitting major league pitching look easy. Now, we’ll see how they adjust to him and when he starts to struggle we’ll see how he can bounce back, but this is very promising. If it’s possible to make it even

Then there’s 24 year old Aaron Judge. The 6 foot 7 outfielder has struggled a tad out the gate, but after hitting that first home run at Yankee Stadium… I mean has that ball landed yet? I’m not sure of that, but yeah, this guy has some RAW power. I wouldn’t worry about him just yet. Not everyone is Gary Sanchez.

The Yankees received outfielder Clint Frazier in the deal for Andrew Miller. The 21 year old was the 5th overall pick in the 2013 draft and is another one who has raw power. In 4 seasons in the minors he has killed the ball and has driven in a lot of runs. Just the thought of both Frazier and Judge being in the Yankees’ outfield for years to come is terrifying. The acquisition of infielder Gleyber Torres in the Aroldis Chapman deal was big as well because he has a boatload of talent. He’s only 19 years old so I wouldn’t expect him to come up and make an impact too soon but the plan is to shift him from shortstop to second base so I don’t know what the plan is with current second baseman Starlin Castro and his future with the Yankees. And I haven’t even mentioned first baseman Greg Bird yet who had an impact when he came up last season but has missed all of 2016 because of injury.

Oh and not to mention Didi Gregorius who is only 26 years old and is becoming one of the best shortstops in the major leagues. He’s a magician in the field and he’s hit much better than everyone expected. Gregorius currently leads the team in average (.288) and slugging percentage (.468).

New York has been able to pretty much push both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira into retirement. They needed to make changes to their approach because even though they’ve went on a run lately fueled by the emergence of Sanchez, they are looking at possibly another season without a postseason appearance. The correct move was to build from within and get younger. We’ll see what these kids do from here, but the potential is there, the talent is there, and as of right now I can tell you that GM Brian Cashman has had a very successful season. Yankee fans need to be patient because growing pains lie ahead, but Yankee Stadium will be re-energized because of the youth movement going on currently.

Now they just need to fix that starting rotation they have there because there is still work to be done. Michael Pineda is a bad pitcher and losing Nathan Eovaldi to that devastating injury really hurts, but they are on the right track.

Teddy Bridgewater ACL Injury puts Vikings once promising season in jeopardy

By: Michael Eccleston

Well, it’s official: Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s season is over before it even started after he left practice with a torn acl. It was a non-contact injury when he dropped back during the very first drill of the day.

Wow. This is exactly why coaches, teams, and players all hold their breath throughout the preseason. Because of things like this. The Vikings were expecting a big season from the third year quarterback out of Louisville. This is a devastating blow to a team that was so poised to go into this season and go toe to toe with the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North division crown. Minnesota’s current backups are 36 year old Shaun Hill, who has been in the league for what seems like forever and hasn’t played many meaningful minutes, and the rookie out of Wisconsin Joel Stave who was just trying to make the 53 man roster.

Ouch… So where do the Vikings go from here? Do they make a trade for another solid quarterback? It appears that they have to if they want to have any chance of sniffing the postseason this year. The division title is most likely out the door, (I say most likely because weirder things have happened), but they might still be able to make a run for one of the wildcard spots if they make a trade for a decent starting option. In my opinion they don’t need a stud behind center in order to be a playoff team. They still have Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon in the backfield, they still have some solid options at wide receiver, and they’re still loaded with young defensive stars like Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes and Eric Kendricks.

They aren’t going past the first round of the playoffs without Bridgewater. I think that’s pretty much out the door. But they possibly still can make it to the postseason… If they make a trade. It’s obvious that neither Shaun Hill or Joel Stave are taking this team anywhere right now. The NFC is extremely competitive right now, so they need to act soon.

Young and Exciting Vikings Begin New Era

By Michael Eccleston

Attention everyone: No matter how much hype they receive because of the history of their franchise, along with the fact that they have arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, the NFC North is no longer owned by the Green Bay Packers.

Even though their year ended with heartbreak, one missed field goal doesn’t take anything away from the fact that the Minnesota Vikings have arrived. This team is young and hungry, they’re flying under the radar, and that is exactly where they should want to be.

The Vikings are unique because they’re one of the very few teams who still value their running game first, and it’s completely understandable because they have one of the greatest runningbacks in the history of the NFL in Adrian Peterson. A ground and pound approach with a great defense behind you can absolutely still win in the NFL. When people think of the Vikings, they think of Peterson, but they’re building a team that will be able to beat you in many different ways, which is scary to think about…

23 year old Teddy Bridgewater was pressured more than any QB in the league last year. That is a fact. And still, he consistently made smart decisions that proved to me that he can be a winning quarterback in the NFL. Second year wide receiver Stefon Diggs had an outstanding rookie year last season, catching 52 passes for 720 yards and 4 touchdowns in just 13 games. Diggs made this jaw-dropping catch in training camp just the other day:

Diggs is exactly what the Vikings have lacked for so many years: A young talented wide receiver who has the potential to be one of the better, more reliable ones in the league. Not bad for a 5th round pick, right? There’s talk of him seeing time in the slot this season.

Third year receiver Charles Johnson and rookie Laquon Treadwell are most likely going to see a lot of time on the field along with Diggs. Johnson is looking to stay healthy, and Treadwell, like any other rookie, is out to prove that he is the best receiver of his draft class. The Vikings are a run first team, so a first year player like Treadwell won’t get too much attention, especially early on in the season, but I expect him to show flashes of greatness here and there. Minnesota’s passing game is still a work in progress because of how young these guys are, but it is making progress. “Teddy two gloves” will have a lot to work with as long as the offensive line can get healthy and improve.

Now, on the defensive side of the ball… I mean, from the defensive line with guys like Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph, to linebackers like Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, to the secondary with young talent like cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes along with a veteran pickup like Terence Newman, and free safety Harrison Smith, this defense is locked and loaded. Anyone who watched them play last season knows how physical they are and how quickly they fly around to create turnovers. Sounds like a typical Mike Zimmer defense. Zimmer has transformed the Vikings from a team that really didn’t have much outside of Peterson and had one of the worst defenses in football to a team that has the potential to be one of the best teams in the league for years to come. He deserves all the credit in the world.

Outside of the Packers having Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, I would challenge anyone to tell me where the Packers are clearly better than the Vikings… Last season was no fluke. This team is here to stay, and with their new stadium, they will be even more hungry to start this era off with a bang. If Minnesota’s offensive line can hold up, this team will be a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t win the NFC North.