Is Tannehill ready for the next level?
Miami’s ability to contend for a playoff spot and the AFC East title will depend heavily on the continued progression of Ryan Tannehill under center. The former first-round pick was among the top-10 quarterbacks in the NFL last year, throwing for over 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 67 percent of his passes. If he takes that next step towards elite status, the Dolphins will be an under-the-radar conference title contender.
The good news for Tannehill here is that he has the best supporting cast of his career. The additions of tight end Jordan Cameron, wide receivers Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and first round pick DeVante Parker should make Miami’s passing offense one of the best in the conference. Now enter into the equation the return of second-year receiver Jarvis Landry, and the Dolphins have near-elite skill position talent. Defensively, it’s going to be all about how Miami’s two Pro Bowl performers mesh upfront as well as the continued progression of young corners Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. If everything comes together in South Beach, the Dolphins will be punching their ticket to the second season and a return to the playoffs.
Miami will have to keep the air out of Tom Brady’s footballs as the New England Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East, “DeflateGate suspension or not.” Buffalo will be improved with the Rex Ryan hard-nosed style and the hapless New York Jets will try to figure out if QB Geno Smith getting sucker punched by his own teammate will be a blessing in disguise?
Lovie Smith and Jameis Winston bring hope to Tampa Bay
Florida State fans won’t have far to travel to watch their former QB, Jameis Winston, and the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft for the Tampa Bay Bucs. Winston is far from a finished product, but he provides future hope for a franchise in desperate need of it coming off a 2-14 record.
The defense has two blue-chip players in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and outside linebacker Lavonte David to build around. The expectation is that the unit will execute better in its second season playing the scheme that Lovie Smith installed, but the Bucs must find a way to generate pass-rush from a non-descript group of ends.
If the Bucs and second year coach, Lovie Smith, can get some offensive production from his rookie quarterback, top wide receiver, Mike Evans and oft-injured running back Doug Martin, the Bucs should be more competitive than last year and one of the league’s most improved teams. They did not win a home game in 2014, so the only way to go is up! Maybe a 5-7 win season for Tampa Bay?
Young Jaguars also in rebuilding mode in Jacksonville
There aren’t the highest of hopes for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. In fact, few are even going so far as to hope (much less predict) a .500 season, settling on the higher end of a losing record.
Most believe second year QB, Blake Bortles, and the trio of second-year receivers in Allen Robinson, former Cane, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee will take major strides in 2015. Alabama running back, T.Y. Yeldon, was the Jags’ top pick and will move right into a starting job to join this young offense.
If the Jaguars are to win 6 games, then look for head coach Gus Bradley to be around in 2016. Bradley has won seven games in two years of being the Jaguars leader, so winning six in one year alone would be a drastic enough of an improvement to keep the Gus Bus in Jacksonville.
If Bortles can go from the league’s worst starter (21.9 QBR) to a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, then the Jaguars can legitimately challenge to get to a .500 mark this season.
Foss’ Fearless Football Fog-nostication for the Super Bowl 50 Prediction
The NFL didn’t like the look of Super Bowl L. It’s kind of lonely sitting there by itself. Instead, it will be Super Bowl 50 on the logo: The silver Lombardi Trophy is between the “5” and the “0” with Super Bowl in silver underneath with a black background. The game will be at the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara.
As for the rest of the NFL divisions, I see Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers getting back to the Super Bowl for the NFC downing Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in championship game.
In the AFC, I’m seeing Andrew Luck and Indianapolis Colts beating the old man Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game.
In Super Bowl 50, Indianapolis and Andrew Luck will take home the Lombardi Trophy!
Carl Foster is the host/founder of “The Good Sports Magazine Show” now in it’s10th season, airing worldwide every Friday LIVE from 12 noon to 1pm exclusively on www.GraceNetRadio.com.