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  • NFL Honors: AOB Staff Reveals its 2017-18 Award Winners

    February 4, 2018 • Features, Front Page, ListsComments (0)

    At least night’s NFL Honors, the league announced its 2017-18 league awards, in addition to the announcement of next year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

    NFL award winners

    MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots QB
    Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley, Rams RB
    Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, Rams DT
    Offensive Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara, Saints RB
    Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore, Saints CB
    Coach of the Year: Sean McVay, Rams HC
    Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen, Chargers WR

    We thought we here at the All-Out Blitz would hand out our own awards for the 2017-18 season, which proved to only be slightly different than the league’s awards.

    Ben’s picks

    MVP: Todd Gurley, Rams RB

    Gurley led the league in rushing touchdowns (13), scrimmage yards (2,093) and total touchdowns (19). He also accumulated 1,305 yards on the ground on just 279 carries (4.7 YPC) and was the perfect complement to second-year quarterback Jared Goff in L.A. The 23-year old back helped the Rams win 11 games this season, and perhaps the biggest reason he didn’t win the league MVP last night is because of the positional bias. The last RB to win the league MVP was Adrian Peterson in 2012, and only four running backs have won the league MVP since 2000 (Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander and Marshall Faulk). But, take away Gurley and the Rams miss the playoffs. So give me Gurley as the MVP.

    Offensive Player of the Year: Tom Brady, Patriots QB

    Usually, I like to give the OPOTY award to whichever player is deserving of the MVP, but narrowly missed the cut. If it weren’t Gurley receiving my MVP, it would’ve been Brady. The most accomplished quarterback we’ve ever witnessed play the game of football tossed for a league-high 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns (just two behind Russell Wilson’s league-leading 34). With a 102.8, Brady completed his third consecutive season with a 100+ QB rating, and he’s on the verge of winning his sixth Super Bowl win tonight if he can get past the feisty underdog Eagles.

    Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, Rams DT

    With 11.0 sacks as a defensive tackle, it’s tough to overlook Aaron Donald as this year’s DPOY. The offense got a lot of the press time, but Donald’s defensive effort for the L.A. Rams this season also played a huge part in their turn-around from 4-12 to 11-5. His stat-line of 41 tackles, 11.0 sacks and five forced fumbles as a D-tackle is incredible, and more than deserving of the award.

    Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt, Chiefs RB

    Hunt through the first few weeks of the season looked as if he’d run away with the award. Alvin Kamara eventually caught up, and ended up stealing the award at last night’s NFL Honors, but that doesn’t take away from the fact Hunt led the league in rushing yards (1,327) and racked up 11 total touchdowns for the AFC West-winning Chiefs. In 16 games, the Pro Bowl back averaged 4.9 yards per carry and racked up six 100-yard rushing games.

    Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore, Saints CB

    Lattimore ran away with the award last night, receiving 45 out of the 50 possible first-place votes, beating out Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White and San Francisco’s Reuben Foster. Lattimore, in just 13 games at corner, racked up 52 total tackles, five interceptions (one for a TD) and 18 passes defensed. He was a force in the defensive backfield for the playoff-bound Saints, and he was clearly the best defensive rookie on the field this season, hands down.

    Coach of the Year: Doug Pederson, Eagles HC

    Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in the NFL, had an incredible season with the Rams in Jared Goff’s second season in the league. His win is deserving, but so is Doug Pederson after turning a 7-9 team into a 13-win No. 1 seed. Sure, Carson Wentz’s incredible 13 games prior to the ACL tear helped in a major way, but the injuries piled up for Philly all season long, but Pederson still managed to keep them together and have them making plays as a team and making an incredible run to the Super Bowl. It’s a regular season award — I know — so I probably shouldn’t count what they’ve done in the playoffs for this award, but oh well. It’s my own “Coach of the Year” award to give, so I’m bending the rules.

    Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen, Chargers WR

    There is truly no one else who could possibly come close to Allen in this category right now. Allen missed 15 games last season after tearing his ACL in the 2016 NFL season opener. He ended up making his return this season, only to go out and reel in 102 balls for 1,393 yards and 6 touchdowns. His receptions and yards are both career-highs, with his six touchdown catches the second-most he’s reeled in during his five-year career. Impressive performance.

    Jordan’s picks

    MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots QB

    What Tom Brady did this year was phenomenal for any QB, let alone one still playing at a high level at the age of 40. In a season that started off rough and had many questioning New England’s empire, Brady racked up nearly 4,600 passing yards, tossed 32 touchdowns and only threw eight interceptions. All of this while completing 66 percent of his passes: What else could you ask for?

    Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley, Rams RB

    After a great rookie campaign, Todd Gurley managed to rush for only 885 yards on 278 carries last season. He ran for 1,305 yards on 279 carries in 2017-18. Let that sink in. Not only did his average yards/carry increase from 3.2 to 4.8, but his receiving numbers more than doubled and he caught six touchdowns – in addition to the 13 he rushed for. 19 total touchdowns and over 2,000 all-purpose yards makes you a lock for OPOY. What a season for Gurley.

    Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, Rams DT

    Eleven sacks and five forced fumbles from the nose tackle position? Give me a break. Donald flew under the radar for much of the season until it was time to look back at what he had accomplished. Yes, there are more sexy picks that may have more enticing numbers on the surface. One thing you can’t question is what Donald means to the Rams and the tenacity he brings to the football field every Sunday. Hands down one of the top-5 defensive players in the NFL and my pick for DPOY.

    Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt, Chiefs RB

    I thought long and hard about this pick. I really, really wanted to pick Alvin Kamara after the spectacular season he had both on the ground and in the receiving game. Simply fantastic. This decision came down to the numbers, though. Kamara’s stats were limited by Mark Ingram, which turned out to be his downfall in these picks. Hunt averaged nearly five yards per carry, had over 1,700 yards from scrimmage and reached the end zone 11 times. It’s not hard to tell Hunt was what made the Chiefs go on offense. Had Kamara been the primary recipient of touches from the beginning, I’d likely be writing about him right now. Regardless, Kareem Hunt had a fantastic rookie campaign and fully deserves the OROY award.

    Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore, Saints CB

    While 52 tackles and five interceptions may sound like just “good” stats for a corner but when considering they came from a rookie who cemented himself as one of the best young players in the league, it really sinks in. PFF consistently ranked Lattimore as one of the best corners in the entire NFL throughout the season and recognized him for his stellar play. That alone is enough to give him DROY.

    Coach of the Year: Sean McVay, Rams HC

    This may have been the easiest pick out of the bunch. To go from 4-12 to 11-5 automatically puts you in contention for the award. To do so with a second-year quarterback and a young running back makes you the number one candidate. To win the division makes you a lock. The culture of the Rams organization has completely changed since Sean McVay joined the ranks of the coaching staff. Jared Goff went from five touchdowns and seven interceptions to 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. This was a no-brainer. Sean McVay is your Coach of the Year.

    Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen, Chargers WR

    Earl Thomas and Rob Gronkowski made it a bit more difficult for me to make this pick, but Keenan Allen had one hell of a season for the Chargers. At one point in the year, Allen had three consecutive games with at least 10 catches and over 100 receiving yards. To finish third in the league in receiving yards and fourth in catches is phenomenal – especially if you’re coming back from a season-ending injury. Allen’s second half of the season made the pick more of a lock each and every week. This year was his breakthrough.

    Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

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  • Hall of Fame: We Love us Some Brian Dawkins & Ray Lewis Hype Videos

    February 3, 2018 • Features, Front Page, VideoComments (0)

    With tonight’s announcement of the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, we finally know who will be enshrined into Canton for eternity next August.

    2018 HOF class:

    Robert Brazile
    Bobby Beathard
    Brian Dawkins
    Jerry Kramer
    Ray Lewis
    Randy Moss
    Terrell Owens
    Brian Urlacher

    With two of the most feared tacklers of their time — Lewis and Dawkins — also comes two of the most wired trash-talkers and hype men in all of football. Not much gets you more hyped for three hours of football than Lewis or Dawkins coming out of the tunnel prior to kick-off. And, with that, comes a whole slew of incredible YouTube hype videos.

    We thought this was the perfect time to share some of our favorites. Enjoy:

    I suppose it didn’t hurt that the two feared hitters had the resumes to back up their legendary careers.

    Ray Lewis: 17 seasons as Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker

    13 Pro Bowls, 10-time All-Pro (seven First Team selections, three Second Team), 2 Super Bowl championships.
    227 games started, 2,061 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 INT, 19 FF, 20 fumble recoveries, 81 PD.

    Brian Dawkins: 16 seasons as Philadelphia Eagles/Denver Broncos free safety

    9 Pro Bowls, 6-time All-Pro (five First Team selections, one Second Team), one Super Bowl appearance.
    221 games started, 1,131 total tackles, 26.0 sacks, 37 INT, 36 FF, 19 fumble recoveries, 120 PD.

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  • Super Bowl LII Preview: All-Out Blitz Staff Picks

    February 2, 2018 • Features, Front Page, NFL PlayoffsComments (0)

    Super Bowl Sunday, the day we’ve all been waiting for, is quickly approaching.

    If you told me in August that Nick Foles would be leading the NFC’s No. 1-seeded Philadelphia Eagles to back-to-back playoff victories on the road to the Super Bowl, I would have called you crazy.

    Yet, here we are. Just hours away from Foles leading Philadelphia into a Super showdown against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.

    The most reliable sportsbooks you can find online are giving the Patriots between 4.5 and 4 points as a favorite. So, once again, Philadelphia will head into its third-straight postseason match-up as underdogs.

    They seem to thrive as underdogs, but can they make it three straight on Sunday?

    Here’s how the All-Out Blitz staff believes Sunday will shape out.

    Ben’s pick: Patriots 28, Eagles 21

    The only team to defeat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl also came out of the NFC East (Eli Manning-led Giants, on two separate occasions), but I always have a hard time picking against the Belichick/Brady duo in February.

    The coach-QB duo doesn’t need another Super Bowl victory to cement their legacy, which is already the best in league history, but that’s not going to stop them from coming away with their sixth Lombardi anyways.

    The X-factor in this match-up will be tight end Rob Gronkowski, who will in fact be suited up for the game despite suffering a concussion against Jacksonville.

    Gronk has been giving opposing defenses headaches since entering the league in 2010 and has three 100-yard games and 10 touchdown receptions in 12 career postseason games. I expect to see another 100+ yard game and another touchdown or two from the All-Pro tight end Sunday night.

    I certainly won’t be upset if Philadelphia, once again, goes against the grain and pulls off the victory, but I have New England winning by a touchdown and Gronk winning Super Bowl MVP.

    Jordan’s pick: Patriots 31, Eagles 24

    Although picking Philadelphia to win the Super Bowl would be fun, it doesn’t make much sense. New England is consistently more prepared than its opponent and has been to the big game more than the Eagles have.

    Tom Brady’s hand is no longer going to be an issue (not that it was against Jacksonville two weeks ago) and Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to play. Even if the Eagles had Carson Wentz healthy for this game, it would still be so difficult to pick against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I’ve already done it once this postseason – and it didn’t work out in my favor. This time, I’m going to get it right.

    The game will start off with a bang from either side and may be competitive throughout but in the end, we all know who’s going to win it.

    Brady gets his sixth win and cements his legacy as the greatest quarterback in the history of football while Philadelphia awaits the return of Wentz ahead of next season.

    Photo: Getty Images

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  • Super Bowl: Gronkowski Cleared from Concussion Protocol

    February 1, 2018 • Breaking News, Front Page, NFL PlayoffsComments (0)

    It’s official. Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared from the concussion protocol.

    Gronkowski is ready to suit up for the big game, Sunday!

    But we all knew that was going to happen anyways, didn’t we?

    Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

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  • On This Day: Holmes Makes Game-winning Catch in SBXLIII

    February 1, 2018 • Arizona Cardinals, Features, Front Page, History, NFL Playoffs, Pittsburgh SteelersComments (0)

    February 1, 2009: Steelers defeat Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII on an incredible six-yard touchdown catch from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds to play. Pittsburgh would go on to win the game 27-23, handing the Steelers the franchise’s record-breaking sixth Lombardi Trophy.

    It is still, to this day, the play Holmes is most-remembered for. And it is still one of the best TD catches in Super Bowl history.

    People often forget about Larry Fitzgerald’s incredible 64-yard TD reception that put Arizona ahead 23-20 with 2:37 left on the clock. Unfortunately, Fitz’s potential game-winner, just one of his seven catches on the night (137 yards, 2 TDs), left too much time on the clock for Roethlisberger & Co.

    Big Ben would lead the Steelers on an eight-play, 78-yard scoring drive that lasted 2:02, to set-up the game-winner. Holmes, named the game’s MVP, finished the game nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. It was Roethlisberger’s only touchdown pass of the game.

    Photo:

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  • CFL: Alouettes Sign Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman

    January 30, 2018 • Canadian Football League, Front PageComments (0)

    Former NFL quarterback Josh Freeman, 30, has made the first step to making a potential return to the National Football League: sign with a team in the Canadian Football League.

    The CFL’s Montreal Alouettes signed Freeman to a two-year contract in mid-January.

    Freeman, who is best-known for leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 10-6 season in 2010, hasn’t played in the NFL since he started one game for the 2015 Indianapolis Colts. It’ll be interesting to see if he can make an impact in Canada, though an NFL return still could be a long-shot even if he fares well in the CFL.

    During Freeman’s 10-win 2015 season, he threw for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and just six picks, posting a career-high 95.9 QB rating in 16 starts. Two seasons later, he threw a career-high 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns during a 7-9 campaign in Tampa.

    Even though 2012 was now six years ago, the 30-year old Freeman is definitely a guy who you’ll want to monitor closely throughout the CFL season if he ends up seeing the field.

    Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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  • AFL: Albany Empire Announced as AFL Team Name & Logo

    January 23, 2018 • Albany Empire, Arena Football League, Front Page, Press ReleaseComments (0)

    Press release from official AFL website

    ALBANY, N.Y. – Albany AFL today announce the Albany Empire as the new name for the new Arena Football League (AFL) team in Albany. The Albany Empire represents the home team for the Capital of New York, the Empire State along with the power needed to be successful in the tough, fast-paced sport of Arena Football.

    The team name was voted on by the community on TimesUnion.com and the Albany Empire name won the vote by a landslide, with 44% of the total votes. Phoenix came in at 21%, Fire at 20%, and Machine at 15%. There were over 11,500 unique votes submitted. The contest winner, determined by being the first person to submit the name at AlbanyAFL.com, was Brent Jackson. Brent won the ultimate Albany Empire prize pack including season tickets, an official team game helmet and personalized game home jersey.

    Team Name Manifesto: Power gets more intense as it is confined. A wide river wedged through a tight canyon. Wind forced through a tunnel. Politicians squeezed into a small state capital. Power is why New York is the Empire State. There may be more prominent capitals and bigger cities, there is no better place for Arena Football. If Albany knows anything, it’s the X’s and O’s of a good strategy, and the bloody knuckles of a good fight. We know that a committee of eight is more than enough to get things done and any more than that is just slowing things down. And we know power – where it comes from, how its used, and that it is the ultimate aphrodisiac. The AFL is coming home to Albany. But we aren’t just fielding a team. We are BUILDING AN EMPIRE!

    The unique Empire logo features the team’s official colors, a fiery reddish orange, dark navy blue and grey accents. The logo encapsulates strength, versatility and boldness, with an attractive display of the Empire battle mask and shield, as well as a football. Designed by The Martin Group—an award-winning Upstate New York branding and integrated communications firm, with existing clients such as New Era Cap and Under Armour—the bold, yet attractive design conveys the inherent power of both the team, the sport and city it now represents.

    The team’s inaugural season motto “Building An Empire” will symbolize the organization’s plans to create a product featuring a tough, hard-nosed football team alongside a world class entertainment experience, which will be the ultimate entertainment option for Capital Region residents and visitors. The Empire’s Inaugural game is set for April 14, 2018 at 7pm at the Times Union Center. The Empire will take on the defending league champion, the Philadelphia Soul. More details on the 2018 schedule are planned to be announced shortly.

    The team also announced that the Albany Empire Inaugural season will be presented by CDPHP, whose brand will be in lockstep with growing the Albany Empire brand. “This is exciting,” said CDPHP President, John D. Bennett. “This town loves Arena Football and can’t wait to be a part of every step of the inaugural season.”

    The Albany Empire is also proud to announce their partnership with TownSquare Media. All Albany Empire games will be broadcasted on Rewind 105.7FM, including a half hour pre-game and post-game show. There will also be a weekly coach’s show that will broadcast on 104.5FM The Team on Saturday mornings during the season.

    Team uniforms, mascot, dance team name and other core elements of the team’s brand will be announced at a later date.

    “Albany is a historic, proud and tough city that is passionate about football, said owner Ed Swyer.” “We are excited to reveal the Albany Empire name and logo as the next addition to the sports landscape for our city.”

    “From day one, I proclaimed we are going to have a competitive football team and a world class entertainment experience, said owner Dan Nolan.” “Now we have a tough, powerful identity to build our football and entertainment destination Empire around.”

    “The fact that the name Empire won the contest running away gives us confidence we have named the team in a manner consistent with the personality, history and status of our city, said owner George Hearst.”

    “This is a historic moment for the city of Albany,” said owner Ron Jaworski. “We will make this city be proud of the Empire that the organization, fans and partners are going to build together.”

    “Nobody is more excited than me to have a name that will be consistent with the brand of football we plan to put on the field,” said head coach Rob Keefe. “We will look tough and play tough, there’s no question about it.”

    The team has updated its website and social medial with the announcement of the team name. The new website url is www.TheAlbanyEmpire.com. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram handles are now @albany_empire.

    T-shirts with the team name and logo are on sale now at the team website, www.TheAlbanyEmpire.com. Fans can secure season tickets for as low as $117 by calling 518-533-2200 or by going to the website. A limited number of great seats are still available! If you want to bring your organization or group to a game, fundraise, or perform on the field, group experiences are now on sale. Call for additional information.

    Photo: arenafootball.com

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  • AFC Championship: Was This Bortles’ Only Shot at a Title?

    January 23, 2018 • AFC, AFC South, Features, Front Page, Jacksonville JaguarsComments (0)

    Sunday afternoon, Jacksonville’s 25-year old quarterback Blake Bortles played his heart out in the AFC Championship game.

    Against the mighty Tom Brady, Bortles out-played New England’s offense for three quarters, finishing the game with 293 yards, a passing touchdown, zero interceptions and a 98.5 QB rating. He came up just four points shy in the conference championship game.

    Now the question that remains: was this Bortles’ one and only shot at a Super Bowl title?

    He’s still young, at age 25, but his future with the Jaguars is now up in the air despite his 10-win season and conference championship appearance.

    Next year will be his final year under contract, as he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Not to mention, Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson will both be back in action next year, meaning Jacksonville’s path to a division title will be more difficult. Especially given Marcus Mariota and his Titans don’t plan on going anywhere, either.

    A few of Jacksonville’s defensive players will likely be looking for a big pay day after the season the D had, meaning this entire defensive crew may not be able to stay together for 2018 and beyond.

    So, yes, Jacksonville fans, this was probably Bortles’ best shot at a title. I just can’t see him staying in Jacksonville past next season.

    Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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  • Julie Ertz Reacts to Eagles’ NFC Championship Win

    January 22, 2018 • Features, Front Page, NFC, NFC East, Philadelphia Eagles, VideoComments (0)

    Last week, it was the Everson Griffen post-game interview that captivated me in the NFL playoffs mayhem.

    This week, it’s the Julie Ertz video circulating after Philadelphia’s 38-7 NFC Championship game victory Sunday night:

    https://twitter.com/ussoccer_wnt/status/955275403408523264

    Following USWNT’s game, Julie — wife of Eagles TE Zach Ertz — reacts to finding out her husband is heading to the Super Bowl.

    And, then, of course there’s his reaction to her reaction:

    https://twitter.com/GeoffMosherNFL/status/955286792755924992

    Fantastic stuff.

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  • NFC Championship: Foles Shows Dominance in Win over Vikings

    January 22, 2018 • Features, Front Page, Game Recap, NFC East, NFL Playoffs, Philadelphia EaglesComments (0)

    Sunday’s Conference Championship games didn’t exactly go as I was expecting them to play out.

    I, as well as many others, were almost expecting a blowout in the AFC Championship with the NFC Championship game coming down to the wire.

    Instead, it was the other way around. New England trailed Jacksonville for much of the game before finally pulling ahead 24-20 in the fourth quarter and fending off Blake Bortles and the Jags with a turnover on downs on Jacksonville’s final drive.

    Once the NFC Championship game, it was almost over from the very start.

    While Minnesota struck first, scoring a touchdown on their very first possession, Philadelphia knotted the game up halfway through the first quarter and scored three second quarter touchdowns to put up a 24-7 halftime lead.

    Philadelphia’s defense shut out Case Keenum and Minnesota’s offense in the second half of play to earn the dominant 38-7 victory to earn the franchise’s third Super Bowl appearance in team history.

    Backup quarterback Nick Foles, in his third career postseason start, tossed for 352 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-33 passing. His 141.4 QB rating was near-perfect, and his second career postseason win matches (or surpasses) a handful of great NFL quarterbacks, both past and present:

    Joe Namath (2 playoff wins)
    Norm Van Brocklin (2)
    Michael Vick (2)
    Ken Anderson (2)
    Tony Romo (2)
    Alex Smith (2)
    Tim Tebow (1)
    Jay Cutler (1)
    Carson Palmer (1)
    Marc Bulger (1)

    Foles will match up against Tom Brady, who is gunning for his sixth Super Bowl victory in eight appearances. Brady will become the first 40-year old to start at QB in a Super Bowl.

    Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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