Watson hopes to fill the whole the Patriots desperately needed after Rob Gronkowski retired due to his health. Watson already knows the Patriots offense very well which is where he was drafted in 2004. He went on to win a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots after they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
I expect Watson to do extraordinary with the Patriots but I don’t see him ‘carrying the load’ for the TE position as the Patriots also added Austin Seferian-Jenkins. In the Tweet below, you can see the updated skill players for the Patriots courtesy of Field Yates.
Patriots updated skill players: QB: Tom Brady RB: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead FB: James Develin TE: Ben Watson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse WR: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris
In the last two months Chiefs all-pro wide receiver, Tyreek Hill has been accused of domestic violence against his wife and 3-year-old son. The media has attacked him, rightfully so, and Hill could be seeking a permanent ban from the NFL. Also, if one was to believe in second chances, they could not forgive Hill due to his domestic violence charge, which he plead guilty do, back in 2014. None of this was helped by the release of audio between him and his fiance, Crystal, which depicted Hill as an abusive father and husband. But in the defense of Tyreek, his lawyer sent a public 4-page letter to the NFL claiming all allegations are false and Hill is innocent. So, my goal of this article is to give all the information I can find involving this case and create a timeline of the Cheetah’s situation.
Photo Credits: USA Today
December 2014: Hill is arrested and accused of domestic violence against his wife(later pleaded guilty) and dismissed from Oklahoma State
I’m going to keep this short because nearly every NFL fan knows about the horrific acts that took place by the college star at the time. We don’t need to get into specifics, but this was an awful act by Tyreek Hill. It is as simple as that and he got every consequence he should have.
Photo Credits: UWA Athletics
September 2015: University of West Alabama announces Tyreek has enrolled and will play for their team
Hill was reinstated to college football under the rage of many fans obviously because of his actions one year prior. Tyreek pushed back his haters with his lighting speed that translated to around 700 total yards with 8 touchdowns in his only year at West Alabama. 4 of those touchdowns were off returns which easily was the reason he ended up even being considered to be drafted. Hill left college football and hoped one team could give him a second chance in the upcoming 2016 NFL draft.
Photo Credits: Youtube
April 2016: Hill is drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs got a steal talent-wise when they took the best returner in the draft, but they took a bunch of criticism of people all around the NFL. Hill’s future in the league definitely was hoped to be short-lived by many, but he rightfully said, “It’s my fault, and its my mistake” when referring to his past. Also, Hill got the support of the Chief’s owner, Clark Hunt, at his back after Hunt talked about how he showed great behavior at training camp and that he believed in second chances. Immediately after the moment, he got drafted, Hill would have to prove many people wrong and show that he is a changed man.
Photo Credits: Sportsnaut
2016-2018 NFL seasons: Hill has a very successful beginning to his career and was looked at as a changed man by his peers
So far in the 3 years, Hill has been in the league, he has put together three straight pro bowl appearances, a first team all pro for a punt returner, a first team all pro for a slot receiver, and back to back 1,000-yard seasons. He also broke the Chief’s receiving yard record for a season this past 2018 season and helped Patrick Mahomes development into the NFL. To sum it up, arguably the fastest player in NFL history has the beginnings to a hall of fame career. What is even more important though is that Hill seemed to change as a person. Not only did he have no domestic problems with his fiance(yes the same one he had the previous domestic violence act against) or son(not that he and his son had problems before, I just thought it was important to know there was never a problem between the two in the past) in 4 years, he also started foundations in Kansas City like his annual youth football pro camp. Tyreek looked like he cleaned his life up, while at the same time producing top 5 wide receiver stats.
Photo Credits: The Undefeated
March 2019: The media and fans see released police reports about two incidents of alleged battery at Tyreek Hill’s house
Out of nowhere like a punch to the gut, KCTV5 released two police reports regarding child abuse and neglect involving Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal. The first was on March 5th where both he and his fiance were listed as others involved in the case. It was also listed at their residence, but there was no specific victim. The report just stated there was child abuse/neglect, but most assume this is Tyreek’s 3-year-old son. This case was closed days later and has not been reopened to this day.
9 days later, there was a second police report that only has Hill’s fiance,Crystal, listed on other involved. Tyreek Hill was not at the scene of the report(his home), but it was listed at his household because Crystal and his son stayed there while Tyreek was not home. This incident left the boy with a broken arm supposedly. To the media, it was mostly accepted that you could not determine that Hill did anything at this point. This case was closed, but would supposedly be re opened in late April( I say supposedly because there are reports that it never actually got re opened but that was never confirmed).
Photo Credits: CBS Sports
April 2019: Hill(who was not at the house) calls medical assistance to his wife at their home after she fell asleep watching their kids and both parents lose custody of Tyreek’s son.
A lot happened for this whole case in April of 2019. To start, Hill, who temporarily was on a no-contact order with his son, called the police on his fiance due to her passed out and their son walking around unsupervised after seeing surveillance footage. Hill was trying to protect his son here while also being concerned about his 7-month pregnant partner. Crystal was okay and opened the door for authorities.
Dispatcher: Calling 234 for a medical call.
Dispatch audio alerts that medical crews are needed at the home of Hill.
Dispatcher: The medical call ****, caller advising he’s currently at a hotel. He sees a female passed out. The female was watching the reporting party’s 3-year-old son. The 3-year-old is walking around with no one attending him. The female is seven months pregnant. Medical is also responding, ****.
Audio via KCTV5
Second, both Tyreek and Crystal lost custody of their son until the case is resolved. This was determined after a court date that the couple showed up together at. The couple was seen leaving holding hands, but a day later Crystal gave KCTV5 audio of her and Tyreek which they ultimately released a day later. This is when Tyreek Hill becomes the main suspect in the eyes of the media and fans. It’s also important to note that the criminal case is closed because they believed a crime was committed but could not determine who did it until they supposedly reopened it after the audio was released.
Photo Credits: The Post Game
Late April 2019: Audio of Tyreek and his fiance,Crystal, is released, the March 14th case is reopened, and Hill is suspended from all Chief activities.
To start, the most popular point of this case is when the audio of Crystal and Hill arguing about their son and the criminal case is released for everyone to hear. A lot of things are said and it ended up looking terrible for Tyreek due to the strong language he uses against Crystal and the allegations she is throwing on him, but he never admits to breaking his sons arm or abusing him(except for belt use). He does not respond to some of the allegations made by Crystal, but an explanation is provided by his lawyer(we will get to that later). Also, Crystal seems to hint that she covered for him against the police and detectives. Here is the audio that everyone must listen to if you’re invested in the case:
The audio shows that both parents seriously care about their child, but both seem to not have their relationship in a healthy state. Hill does not admit to Crystal’s allegations, though he awkwardly does not say anything after some of them(also explained his Hill’s Lawyer’s letter). Crystal also claims she covered for him against detectives which means Hill could have done more harm if the allegations are true.
After the audio was released the March 14th criminal case was reopened and immediately Andy Reid and Brett Veach suspended Tyreek from all Chief’s activities. This was the right move as they need more evidence of Hill clearly abusing his son or wife to release him. Many believe Hill should be released and charged with child abuse, but he does not say anything in the audio that points to illegal actions.
Photo Credits: Tyreek Hill’s Instagram
May 2019: Hill’s lawyer publishes a 4-page letter claiming there was no illegal abuse given by Tyreek to his child
About a week later, Tyreek Hill’s Lawyer sent a 4-page letter to the NFL in the defense of Hill denying allegations from Crystal. The letter does not go over everything in the audio, however, it highlights specific allegations Crystal made and attempts to disregard them.
This is the majority of the letter written by Hill’s lawyer. In this Hill is depicted as a fun-loving dad that is having relationship problems with his son’s mom. As seen above, Hill admits to beating his son with a belt which is harsh for a 3 year but not illegal. Tyreek certainty denies ever breaking his kids arm and says the only time he punches him is when the two “play fight” with Marvel superhero costumes. Hill also claims that his awful phrases directed at Crystal were out of frustration. Someone should never talk to their future spouse or anyone like that, but if Crystal is throwing allegations on him that he has never heard before, it is understandable to be in a rage. The article also claims that Crystal and Hill are going through relationship problems and were considering splitting up. Obviously, it is a difficult time for any couple going through a split so that could be a reason for the tension between the two in the past months. Hill’s lawyer also claims Tyreek did not respond to some of Crystal’s allegations because he was in shock due to him never hearing them before, which is understandable. The most interesting part of this piece is the supposed text messages between Hill and Crystal. If those texts are real Hill could be exonerated from the case, but those texts still do not explain the son’s broken arm. If the letter is true, it is definitely great for Tyreek, but it still leaves some questions unanswered. It is important to note that lawyers respect the rules of court and swear under oath to not lie in the eyes of the courts. However, Tyreek could be lying to his lawyer.
Photo Credits: Fan Sided
After about two months of chaos with the case of Tyreek Hill, his son, and fiance Crystal, there is still no answer to what happened to Tyreek’s 3-year-old son. After the audio was released, it looked Hill was the one at fault and that is still what many think. Then days later a letter released a different side to Hill denying all allegations made by Crystal. Right now, you either believe Crystal and her audio(most people are with her even after the letter in Hill’s defense) or Tyreek and his lawyer’s letter. Neither has admitted to anything illegal against their son or each other. Right now, its honestly unfair to blame either as the domestic abuse causer and the case is still being supposedly investigated.
This case is so odd because Hill was not even at his house when the ongoing criminal case incident happened on March 14th. By the way, there are some reports that the case never got reopened, but that has yet to be confirmed as I stated before. Then you look at the audio and you immediately think Hill is an awful person, but then you look into it a little deeper and some of his actions are somewhat understandable. Crystal could just be trying to ruin Hills career because they are splitting up or Hill could just be trying to cover for his horrific actions against his family. As a Chiefs fan, I do not really care about Hills effect on the field. Of course, he is important to the team, but I am more concerned about his 3-year-old child. No matter what happens in this case, it does not seem like he is in a healthy environment with the tension between Crystal and Hill. Let’s all hope that the kid, in the end, is in a safe and fun environment. Let’s also hope that Hill did not do these allegations and truly is a changed man.
Also here is a quote explaining the Chiefs side of things.
This was the 4th episode of LeBron James show “The Shop.” This show had a really good lineup in Lonzo Ball, Travis Scott, DeAndre Hopkins, Seth Rogan, Don Cheadle, Jimmy Lovine, Pharell, and Obviously Lebron. But I’m just gonna focus on what Lebron and Lonzo talked about and their thoughts on the Lakers. If you want to watch the whole show and other episodes go to HBO.
The first thing I want to talk about is when Zo and Lebron talked about Magic Johnson leaving. Zo started off by saying “I found out through him (Lebron)” Lebron then said “I found out through Randy, Between my stretching session my right hand come to me and said Magic just stepped down. the I said man get the f*** out my face your bull****ing. I go check my phone, I look at it, that s** happened. Personally, I came here to be part of the Lakers organization and having a conversation with Magic, so it was just weird for him. to just be like I’m out of here, and not even have no like hey bro kiss my a** I’m gone not even that.” After he said that Zo says “Yea but it was different for me. I was like damn that s*** crazy and I took a minute and I was like yo Kuz what we doing tonight!”
Next Lonzo talks about the whole Alan Foster and BBB situation. They asked him if that whole thing hurt him and he said “yea I mean I’ve known him since I was 12…he was like my second dad…he was way more than that. When I bought my mom and dad a house he had a room in there. The way I see it why I covered up the BBB on my arm when I saw that (BBB tattoo) I saw him that s*** made me so like I was tight. We looked at the transactions and the s** didn’t start happening until my mom got sick (she had a stroke) because she took care of all the money so that’s what really hurt me… I don’t even know what I would do right now if I see him.”
Lastly, Lebron talks about Zion Williamson. he said “I’ve watched him a lot over the last year. Obviously, I was with everybody him coming out of high school I was like ok the competition he’s playing against these little short a** white kids he’s dunking over every single time…can he play ball. The one thing I noticed at his one year at Duke that his energy was effective like every possession it seems like he could make a difference on the outcome of the game… he is the most talked about guy in a long time.”
The Saints are notorious for trading within the draft, especially in the Sean Payton era. In the Payton era, the Saints have traded every year except 2006 when Payton was hired and 2012 when Payton was suspended.
The Saints have traded from late in the second round to jump back into the first to snatch up a player they liked. They did this in 2011, going from No. 56 to No. 28 to select Alabama RB, Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram.
One possible draft day trade the Saints could pull off is trading up to No. 28 with the Chargers. The Chargers are rumored to be looking to trade out of the first round. The Saints could possibly package G Andrus Peat, No. 62 overall and either a 3rd or 4th round draft pick from 2020.
Another possible draft day trade is for the Saints to trade out of the second round and deal No. 62 overall and a 2020 3rd round pick to the Cardinals for CB Patrick Peterson. It’s rumored Peterson’s time in Arizona is almost over. The Saints repetitively tried to trade for the All-Pro CB last season before trading for former Giants CB Eli Apple instead.
Although the upcoming draft may not be as hyped up as last year, it still has many mysteries surrounding the top picks and a plentiful amount of talented players ready to become the next best NFL player. The amount of defensive talent is outstanding, to say the least, but there are also some great offensive options as well. So, let’s get into how we think the draft night will play out.
Pick #1(Cardinals): DE/3-4 OLB Nick Bosa
Personally, I never had and still do not buy that the Cardinals are going to give up on Josh Rosen with selecting Kyler Murray. Therefore, they pick the best player available, which also is a desperate position of need, Nick Bosa. Should be an easy choice for the Cardinals unless they believe defensive tackle is more important.
Pick #2(49ers): DT/3-4 DE Quinnen Williams
With Dee Ford on one side and Alexander on the other, placing the best defensive tackle in the draft in the middle could possibly give the 49ers the best young defensive line in the league. That is why we believe Quinnen Williams will be heading to San Fransisco in his rookie season.
Pick #3(Jets): 3-4 OLB/OLB Josh Allen
The Jets will fail to trade down and go for the best player available. Josh Allen and CJ Mosley will make the Jets linebackers hard to stop and will lay the foundation to potentially becoming a top 5 defense in the league.
Pick #4(Raiders): QB Kyler Murray
In a shock pick, the Raiders will choose a new Quarterback to lead their team into the next decade. Jon Gruden is in love with Kyler Murray and he will convince Mike Mayock that he is the one they want leading the team. This will split the Raiders fan base but might provide the jolt the Raiders desperately need. We will get into what happens to Derek Carr later.
Pick #5(Buccaneers): LB Devin White
Devin White is easily the best middle linebacker in the draft. This is a position the Buccaneers have needed for years and White will likely fall to them. The former LSU linebacker is an explosive player that the Buccaneers desperately need at all positions so they will continue to rebuild with picking the arguably most important defensive position.
Pick #6(Redskins via Giants): QB Dwayne Haskins
The Redskins will give up their first picks for the next two seasons while also giving away a second rounder and a third rounder next year. Alex Smith’s career is most likely done and Case Keenum will not win games. Redskins are one of those teams that have Haskins as the number one quarterback on the board so they will have no problem giving up a lot for their future star player. Haskins will be put into a great situation with learning from two veterans. He might not make an impact right away, but in a year or two he has the potential to lead the Redskins back to the playoffs.
Pick #7(Jaguars): TE T.J Hockenson
Nick Foles wants an elite tight end after playing with Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz his whole career. The Jags picking a tight end is essential for their offensive success and Hockenson is the only tight end worth betting on becoming an elite player. Not much thought should go into this pick for the Jags.
Pick #8(Bengals via Lions): QB Drew Lock
The Bengals know the Broncos want Drew Lock, so they give the Lions their first and second this year, and a second next year to shock the fans. Andy Dalton has not got it done with the Bengals and his next job is to mentor Drew Lock. Drew will be put into a great situation with AJ Green, Joe Mixon, and a new ambitious coach.
Pick #9(Bills): OT/OG Cody Ford
The Bills need to build some sort of foundation of an offensive line for Josh Allen. They already started that with the signing of center Mitch Morse and will continue to do so with picking the best tackle available in the draft. Left tackle is more important to a offenses success than what many think.
Pick #10(Broncos): DT/NT Christian Wilkins
The Broncos will be shocked that Drew Lock is off the board, so they go to the next best player. Choosing between Wilkins and Ed Oliver, they go with Wilkins to put in between Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. That defensive line will be unstoppable if Wilkins lives up to his potential.
Pick #11(Lions via Bengals): DT Ed Oliver
Lions get a steal with Ed Oliver and beef up their defensive line. Pairing up with Damon Harrison Senior will give Oliver a great mentor and partner. Also, these two would create a top 3 defensive tackle duo.
Pick #12(Packers): OT Jawaan Taylor
Since the best tight end is now off the board, the Packers make sure to protect Aaron Rodgers with this pick. Rodgers has been beaten up the past two seasons and it is mostly due to the inconsistent tackle play. Jawaan Taylor could arguably be the best tackle in the draft in some teams eyes, so the Packers get a built player to hopefully ensure a healthy 2019 season for their former MVP.
Pick #13(Dolphins): DE Rashan Gary
The Dolphins are looking to build their teams with the best players possible. They will fail to find a trade partner to trade down, so they look to get a pass rusher to build around on defense. Gary has fallen draft stock wise, but I believe he still has the potential to be the best defensive end to come out of this draft. If the Dolphins believe the same, they will take Gary to start the rebuild of the defense.
Photo Credits: NJ.com
Pick #14(Falcons): DE Montez Sweat
Although Montez Sweat is falling due to his heart condition, I think the Falcons give him a chance. Don’t forget this man had 20 sacks in the last two years and was a for sure top 5 picks before news of his heart condition came out. The Falcons get a steal here and Montez will work hard to prove doubters wrong. Beasley and Sweat would be a dominate young pass rushing duo in the NFC.
Pick #15(Giants via Redskins): CB Deandre Baker
The New York Giants will acquire Deandre Baker to repair the absence of Landon Collins. Baker will bring heart and explosive plays to the Giants defense which has been needed ever since their super bowl runs.
Pick #16(Panthers): OT Greg Little
With Cam Newtons having constant shoulder problems throughout most of last season, the Panthers are almost forced to pick the best tackle available. The Panthers season would end up being a waste if Newton got injured again, so they go with Greg Little with the intentions of giving Cam well-needed protection.
Pick #17(Giants via Browns): EDGE Clelin Ferrell
The Giants again beef up their defense while looking to replace Olivier Vernon. Ferrell contains a great amount of strength and speed that he can bring on a nightly basis. He will mean trouble to the young NFC East quarterbacks and could be viewed as a steal in the years to come.
Pick #18(Vikings): ILB Devin Bush
The Vikings have the inspiration to create something that is not seen often. That is a Dominant middle linebacker duo. This would bring the Vikings back to a defense that can carry a team. Vikings choose Devin Bush and expect him to make an immediate impact.
Pick #19(Titans): OT Jonah Williams
The Titans are simply another team that does not want their injury-riddled quarterback to end their season again. With the recent acquisition of QB Ryan Tannehill(Also injury-riddled) as a backup for Marcus Mariota, the Titans will need all the protection they can get. Although a “boring” pick, Jonah Williams would fit in great with Tennessee.
Pick #20(Steelers): CB Greedy Williams
Under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have not been able to find a solid cornerback that will last on their team rather than an average Joe Haden. They have drafted at least one corner in every Tomlin draft and will continue the trend with Greedy Williams. The Steelers need this to work out as nothing on their defense is looking special. They pick Williams to start a young evolution of the Steelers defense.
Pick #21(Seahawks): DL Jerry Tillery
If the Seahawks want to get back to playing at a super bowl contending level, they will need to repair this defense. A glaring hole in the defense is the defensive tackle position. With Bobby Wagner at linebacker, Frank Clark as a pass rusher, they now need a solid athlete in the middle. So, they will go with the powerful Jerry Tillery.
Pick Twenty-Two(Ravens): WR D.K. Metcalf
The Ravens desperately need some receivers to help Lamar Jackson become a well-developed pocket passer. Metcalf is a big receiver that gives Jackson a person to rely on. Metcalf could possibly be a bust, but if he lives up to expectation he could potentially be the next Calvin Johnson.
Pick #23(Texans): OT Garrett Bradbury
The Texans have not been able to take it to the next level under Deshaun Watson due to lack of elite pocket protection. Watson could easily be an MVP type player if he had at the least an average offensive line. So, the Texans will give Watson someone to work with in Garrett Bradbury.
Pick #24(Raiders via Bears): OG Chris Lindstrom
After acquiring a solid left tackle, Oakland will now need to secure the middle for their rookie quarterback and running back(Pick 27). In order for these rookies to succeed, the Raiders will pick the best guard in the draft in Chris Lindstrom.
Pick #25(Eagles): DE Brian Burns
The Eagles will get their secondary healthy this upcoming season so that leads them to upgrade the pass rush. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox are aging but are still very productive. The Eagles will go with Brian Burns to hopefully develop under the veterans and get solid playing time. Burns will most likely start out slow but turn into a solid Pro-Bowl DE.
Pick #26(Colts): Edge Rusher Jachai Polite
Going into free agency the Colts knew they needed better edge rushers to compete with the top AFC teams. They now have one side locked down with the veteran Justin Houston and will pick Polite to rotate in on the other side. He will be one of those players that gets more playing time as the season goes on and eventually becomes a full-time starter that makes a decent impact.
Pick #27(Raiders via Cowboys): RB Josh Jacobs
They have built their offensive line and brought on great receivers during free agency and earlier in the draft for their upcoming rookies. One of those rookies will be Josh Jacobs, who is no doubt the best running back in the draft. Jacobs may split reps with Lynch at first but his age and work ethic will make him the prime running back in Oakland. This is the last piece to the Raiders offensive rebuild.
Pick #28(Chargers): DT Dre’Mont Jones
The Chargers have needed a pro bowl defensive tackle to place in the middle of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram for years much like their AFC West rival Broncos. They go with Dre’Mont Jones to fill that void and hope he can solidify the middle of the line.
Pick #29(Chiefs): S Jonathan Abram
The Chiefs pick Jonathan Abram to pair up with the Honey Badger and fill the void left from the release of Eric Berry. The Chiefs have desperately needed help the past two years at the Safety position so they go with Abram to help out the secondary.
Pick #30(Packers via Saints): WR AJ Brown
The Packers need another weapon for an aging Rodgers, so they pick AJ Brown to play opposite of Davante Adams. This would be a fast and dynamic receiving duo that the Packers have missed since their super bowl run.
Pick #31(Chiefs via Rams): DB Bryon Murphy
The Chiefs give the Rams both of their second round picks to get the Rams 31st pick. Bret Veach picks another piece to add to the secondary. Murphy is a leader that the Chiefs have needed ever since the veteran defensive overhaul in the 2018 and 2019 offseason.
Pick #32(Raiders via Patriots): DE Zach Allen
In one of the most exciting and mind-blowing draft trades of all time, the Patriots trade their first and third this year and second next year for Derek Carr. The Patriots get Tom Brady’s replacement via trade instead of drafting a quarterback like most thought. The Raiders meanwhile go with Zach Allen to boost the pass rush production. The Raiders ranked last in sacks last year, so picking a pass rusher is a no brainier.
The Saints currently have the 11th easiest schedule, with playing 6 playoff teams from last season. I think the Saints’ ceiling, per se, would be 15-1 and the lowest I see the Saints going is 12-4. I could see losses to the Falcons in Atlanta on Thanksgiving, in LA against the Rams, and to the Seahawks. If we secure the #1 seed by week 16, we could rest our starters week 17 and lose to the Panthers again.
The Nashville Predators took a 2-1 series lead last night, thanks to an outstanding effort in net from Pekka Rinne.
The Nashville Predators picked up a huge win last night, beating the Dallas Stars, 3-2, in Game 3 of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After losing the first game of the series in Bridgestone Arena, the Predators have reeled in two straight wins in the series. Neither of those games has come easy though.
The Predators evened the series on Saturday night after Craig Smith put one past Ben Bishop of the Stars early on in the OT period.
The Nashville Predators had a tall task on Monday night, looking to get a win in a tough environment. It was the first playoff game in American Airlines Center since 2016, so the building was electric all night long.
Neither team was able to break through in the first 20 minutes of the game, but both teams were able to get solid chances.
Things got interesting in the second period, as three goals were scored between the two teams.
Rocco Grimaldi got his second goal of the series, sneaking the puck past Bishop at an awkward angle to give the Predators the lead early in the second period.
Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 2-0 lead late in the second period, as Nick Bonino dished out a beautiful pass down the ice to a streaking Forsberg.
It was a much-needed goal from the Predators first line, as they had been held scoreless for the first two games of the series.
The Stars cut the lead in half just a few minutes later when Mats Zuccarello snuck past the Predators defense and put one past Pekka Rinne.
The game was back and forth early on in the third period as the Stars tried to knot things up. They did just that, tying things up just over eight minutes into the third period.
P.K. Subban took himself out of the play, diving on top of Alexander Radulov, leaving a wide-open pass from Jamie Benn to Tyler Seguin, who was in front of the net, putting another one past Rinne.
The Predators got another greasy goal just three minutes after the Stars tied things up. The Predators won a much-needed faceoff in the offensive zone after the Stars iced the puck.
Mikael Granlund wristed a shot past Bishop after Kyle Turris won the faceoff and dished it off to Dante Fabbro.
Rinne was outstanding to close the game off, making numerous clutch saves down the stretch.
Thoughts on the game
Rinne was the X-factor in this game for the Nashville Predators. He showed up in the times that the Predators needed him the most. Yes, he allowed two straight goals, as the Stars tied things up midway through the third period, but the defense left him out to dry. Zuccarello was able to slide behind the Predators defense and cut Nashville’s lead in half. The Predators defense was lackadaisical when the Stars tied things up in the third, as both Subban and Turris were stuck behind the net, as Benn slid a beautiful pass in front of the net to Seguin to tie things up at 2-2.
Rinne made this spectacular save just after Seguin tied things up. There is no doubt that Rinne won this game for the Predators. Not only did he make this outstanding save, but he was also able to hold the Stars off the scoreboard during their insane push late in the first period.
The Predators were finally able to sneak some greasy goals past Bishop. The Predators have been on the other side of greasy goals in years past, particularly in the Penguins series and the Jets series in the last two seasons. Both the goal from Grimaldi and Granlund were just shots thrown at the net that was tipped into the net by Bishop himself.
The Predators will have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead when the two teams face off on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM Central.
If you were presented the following lists of the top five teams in a particular statistic:
Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints
New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
Kansas City Chiefs
You would probably imagine the statistic was something like passing yards, rushing yards, touchdowns, or some other statistic describing how prolific the offense was. In a league captivated by high scoring, passing driven offenses, you would probably be surprised to learn that the above rankings are for run blocking and pass blocking, respectively. When you consider that each of the teams on the above lists is in the top-15 (top half) of the league in BOTH run and pass rankings, one can begin to paint a very different picture of the type of offense that drives success in the league. We see all of the highlight reel plays and long touchdown passes, and lose sight of the fact that the offenses that most often produce these highlights rarely allow their quarterbacks to be sacked and often average near 5 yards per carry on the ground.
One could then make the argument that if the offensive line is so important, the Titans should have been much better than slightly above average over the last 3 years. After all, we’ve heard for a while now that the Titans have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Let’s take a deeper dive and discover why that hasn’t necessarily been the case, and why I believe a renewed emphasis on the offensive line will be the key to the Titans getting over the hump this season.
Let’s go way back to 2016. The Titans were coming off a 3-13 season, but Marcus Mariota had shown signs of transcendence, Demarco Murray had been acquired for pennies, and the team shocked many by drafting the one-man wrecking ball Derrick Henry in the second round. Exotic Smashmouth had come to town and was ready to take the league by storm. After a slow start, the team put together a respectable season, Marcus had the best year of his career, Demarco Murray led the AFC in rushing, Taylor Lewan made the Pro Bowl, Jack Conklin was All-Pro,and despite a tough ending to the season, the Titans had ascended from mediocrity and become a team competing for a playoff spot.
The Titans offensive line statistics seem to reflect the offenses of those listed above. The line ranked 5th in rushing, and 15th in pass blocking. The Titans had found their franchise tackles to bookend one of the best lines in the league. However, one glaring statistic is indicative of the struggles the Titans would face over the next 2 seasons. The Titans rushing attack was ranked 11th around the left end, 1st at left tackle, 2nd at right tackle, 2nd around the right end, but 21st up the middle (which also includes at left and right guard).
2017 came around, and the Titans found success in the win column, despite a pretty significant statistical regression on offense. It seemed teams had cracked the code of Exotic Smashmouth, and the Titans run blocking rank dropped to 23rd in the league (though they were still 1st around the left end). There are many conceivable reasons for the decline, but Titans fans (and management) seemed to agree that the issue was not the players, but the scheme. Running into stacked boxes and the throwing on third and long wasn’t sexy or effective, but a healthy Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis and the arrival of Matt LaFleur were going to bring a high-flying 21st-century offense to the Titans.
Unfortunately, 2018 revealed a glaring weakness in the Titans highly-touted line. Though the Titans run blocking finished the year ranked 17th, considering over half of Derrick Henry’s yards came in the last 4 games of the season, and he was only averaging 3.7 YPC before that, even that ranking seems a little high. This was coupled with a pass blocking ranking of 29th. Many of you are probably familiar with the narrative surrounding the New York Giants that Eli manning was playing behind an awful line and was constantly running for his life. Eli provides an interesting comparison point to emphasize the rate at which Marcus Mariota was sacked last season. The Giants and Titans gave up the same number of sacks in 2018 (47), but Blaine Gabbert was sacked 5 times, so Eli was sacked 5 times more than Marcus. However, Eli dropped back to pass 250 times more than Marcus. If you dive a little deeper into comparisons, Marcus was the most sacked (by percentage of drop-backs ending in a sack) of all teams’ primary starting quarterbacks. When you consider this it should come as no surprise that Marcus was suffering with injuries for basically the entire season.
An even more interesting comparison for Marcus is Steve McNair (who was also known to play through injury). McNair’s career sack percentage was 5.3%. Last season, Marcus was sacked at twice the rate McNair was. McNair’s most sacked year he was sacked at a rate of 7.9% and no other year was he above 7%. McNair did run the ball a bit more than Mariota (about 10-20 times per year), but you can see that we shouldn’t be surprised that Marcus has been so injury plagued, and one could argue he should be lauded as McNair was for playing through injury (he’s only missed 8 games in 4 years).
One could argue that the transition to a more modern offense revealed a glaring issue with what had once been regarded as one of the best lines in football. Indeed, one need only watch a few games to identify where the holes were. The interior of the offensive line struggled to establish the run and struggled mightily to hold up in pass protection. There was rarely and semblance of a pocket for Marcus to step into (which resulted in a number of sacks for edge rushers despite decent blocking by the tackles). Jack Conklin also struggled to return to form after his ACL injury. Perhaps all the max protect passes that Titans’ fans had grown tired of during the Exotic Smashmouth days hid the poor play of the interior line. Whatever the reason, there is no escaping the fact that the Titans offensive line play was pretty poor last season. However, there is hope, and I believe that the teams focus on the line in the offseason will be instrumental in its success to come.
The Titans have cut ties with 2/3 of their interior offensive line, and went out and made a splash in free agency signing Rodger Saffold (who ranks in the top 10 in both run and pass blocking). The team likely plans to address the other guard spot in the draft (though its possible we could see some shuffling of the right side of the line due to the play of Dennis Kelly). I firmly believe we will see a resurgence in Jack Conklin’s play (its not uncommon for players to have a down year coming off of an ACL injury), and Derrick Henry seems to have figured something out. As we learned earlier, offensive line play (and the running game) is an integral part of the best offenses in the league. Critics of the Titans moves seem to think the Titans are living in the past. Ignore them. An emphasis on the offensive line and the running game will lead to a successful year for the Titans (despite being in a division that now looks like arguably one of the toughest in the league).
It all starts in the trenches, and though there may be some different names this year, Taylor Lewan and the boys will dictate the success of the Titans this season.