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AFC West

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Concudan, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Still Chargin Staff Member Administrator

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    The AFC West is arguably one of the more interesting stories in the NFL this season. The Raiders made flashes in the off season by leveraging the franchise to bring Jon Gruden out of his decade long hiatus to coach the Silver and Black again. The Chargers are settling in after their recent move to from the laid-back beaches of sunny, picturesque San Diego, to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Denver is moving their bits and pieces around to try and find a winning combination in the post-Manning era, and the Chiefs have rebooted the offense, shipping starting QB Alex Smith out and giving the reigns to talented, yet unproven Patrick Mahomes.

    With all the moves, the division looks to be competitive, and a four-horse race for the division championship. Each team has reason to be optimistic heading into September, yet each team also has question marks.


    New Faces

    There were a lot of changes on each team. Three of the four teams were active in free agency, and not one team seemed to have a bad draft. Let’s look at the player additions for each team. First from the draft, then from free agency.

    Broncos:

    The Broncos are not the same team from 2017. They picked up 10 players in the draft, 11 non-Drafted Free Agents, 8 Veteran Free Agents, traded with Washington and Arizona for a couple of players, and claimed a player off waivers.

    In the first round of the 2018 draft, the Broncos got a player to help their perineal pass rush master, Von Miller. The player chosen as most of us know is Bradley Chubb. Chubb played Defensive End for North Carolina State. During his four years he racked up 100 solo tackles, 25 sacks and one recovered fumble. He is young, has talent, and is playing across from Miller who teams have to plan for. This could be a duo akin to the Chargers Joey Bosa, and Melvin Ingram who can change the pace of a game, and the look of a defensive unit.

    In the second round, the Broncos took Courtland Sutton, a wide receiver from Southern Methodist University. In four years with the team he accumulated 3220 receiving yards, 31 touch downs and a 16.5 yard per catch average. The knock on Sutton out of College is that he was not a polished route runner and he would need time to adjust to the pro-style of the game.

    In the third round the Broncos picked up two players, Royce Freeman, a Running Back out of Oregon, and Isaac Yiadom, a Corner out of Boston College. In the fourth, they again got two players, Josey Jewell, a linebacker for Iowa, and DaeSean Hamilton, a receiver form Penn State. They rounded out the remaining draft picing up Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin in the fifth, Sam Jones, G, Arizona State in the sixth and two more players in the seventh, Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington and David Williams, RB, Arkansas.

    The Broncos let players Aquib Talib, C.J. Anderson and Trever Siemian leave in 2018. They brought in their new Starting Quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum has spent time at several clubs including Houston, St. Louis (Los Angeles) and Minnesota. He was efficient in Minnesota especially last season when he registered his highest pass completion percentage of 67.6. I am not sure Keenum has been ‘the guy’ at any team he has played at. That is until John Elway handed him the keys to the team and told him to go perform. This could be a risky gamble by Elway. Banking that a 30-year old QB will develop into a star is risky. Keenum has the talent, and it is hoped he brings a sense of reliability and stability that the team has been missing since the retirement of Peyton Manning.

    The also added Tramaine Brock, Corner from the San Francisco 49’ers, Clinton McDonald, Defensive Lineman who has played in Cincinnati, Seattle, and Tampa Bay.

    They added Punter Marquette King from the Raiders. King, or some reason has been feeling feisty this off season. He got into a verbal altercation with one of the Denver area radio hosts during training camp. I imagine the Broncos hope he shows as much spirit on the field.

    Su’a Cravens, Safety/Linebacker from Washington was also added along with Offensive Tackle Jared Veldheer who spent time in both Arizona and Oakland.

    The team has some jelling to do, and shoes to fill. They have added talent, but it remains to be seen if the team can rise to a semblance of their Manning driven success in a tough AFC West.

    Chargers:

    The Charges had an arguably good draft. The saying sometimes it is better to be lucky than good applied when Derwin James, safety out of Florida fell from the top 5 pick he was anticipated to be, to the Chargers at 17. James was considered by some pundits to be the best all around defensive player in the draft. The Chargers got a physical player who can help solidify the middle of the secondary. James will probably move around in the defense. He can play at strong safety, free safety and linebacker. He is known as a good tackler as well as a coverage guy. He will probably be called on to help stop the run, which was the defenses biggest weakness last season.

    In round two they took Uchenna (pronounced Oo-chen-uh) Nwosu. Nwosu is a LA local who went to USC where he played Line Backer. He amassed .94 solo tackles, 12.5 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble in his four years at USC. Nwosu impressed Chargers Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley during his pro-day. Nwosu’s speed and ability to get his hands up will mean he will probably see time during passing situations.

    The Chargers continued to focus on their defense in the third round, taking Justin Jones, defensive tackle out of North Carolina State. Jones is reputed to be a strong player who has durability to play a lot of snaps. He adds some needed depth to the defensive line, allowing DC Bradley to rotate players more often.

    In the fourth round the Charger took Kyzir Soze. No, sorry wrong Keyser, or Kyzir… They took Kyzir White, a safety from West Virginia. The Chargers plan on using the athletic White at linebacker. White’s versatility had many defensive coordinators looking at him to play multiple positions. White however is seen as a run stopper. Again, something the Chargers need help with. He will probably play weak side linebacker for the Chargers.

    The Chargers rounded out the draft taking center Scott Quessenberry in the fifth, receiver Dylan Cantrell in the sixth, and running back Justin Jackson in the seventh.

    The Chargers never seem to make a huge splash in free agency. They tend to want to build from inside. They added some key players this year through free agency, but again were not all in as other teams were. Their biggest pickup was getting Center Mike Pouncey from Miami. This move received high graded from many of the sports writers. Pouncey was reportedly surprised when he was cut by Miami where he played for the last seven seasons, and feels he has joined a team with high expectations. The Chargers offensive line surrendered a league low sacks last season, and they look to continue that trend in 2018, which could be tough in the QB attacking AFC West.

    They brought in Virgil Green, Tight End from Denver, with the retirement of Antonio Gates. This was a good pickup as Green is known as a blocking Tight End, but with the season ending injury to Hunter Henry, Green has been proving he can also be a pass catcher in camp.

    The also added Caleb Sturgis, Kicker form Philidelphia. The Chargers were woeful in the kicking game last season. The kicking game cost them multiple wins. Sturgis is in to try and win a chance to correct the situation. This is the biggest weakness on the team, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out. They also brought in Geno Smith from the New York Giants. Smith might be camp fodder, given his one-year deal with the Chargers. It is clear that who ever the backup(s) are at Quarterback, the Chargers coaches and fans hope they never see action unless it is in a blowout win.

    The Chargers biggest losses came in training camp where they lost the aforementioned Henry, and again lost Corner Jason Verrette. Verrett has been off the field with injuries more than he has been on. But when he has been on the field, he showed ability of a shutdown corner. It is hard to say his loss will impact the defense. He was out all of last season. It is more accurate to say his presence stood to make the very good Chargers secondary even better.

    Chiefs

    The Chiefs are an interesting team. They have most of their coaching staff back, but as mentioned before made a big change at starting QB, going with the untested Patrick Mahomes over incumbent Alex Smith. They had a good draft as well.

    In the second round they added Linebacker from Mississippi, Breeland Speaks. Speaks was a standout defensive lineman at Ole Miss, who now will have to transition to outside linebacker for the chiefs. The Chiefs thought enough of Speaks to trade up in the draft to get him.

    In round three they took two players, Defensive Tackle from Florida, Derrick Nnadi and Linebacker from Clemson Dorian O’Daniel. Nnadi is already being proclaimed the next Nigerian sensation for the Chiefs. But he has a lot to prove before he can truly be talked about in the same sentence as Chief great Christian Okoye. Nnadi is sharing snaps at nose tackle in camp and is not expected to be the Chiefs starter yet. He will allow the Chiefs to rotate in fresh linemen to try and wear out opposing offensive lines. O’Daniel has been getting good reviews from camp, and some pundits are tentatively penciling him into the starting lineup. O’Daniel is expected to help the Chiefs close gaps for runners, something they too struggled with last season.

    In round four, they took Safety Armani Watts out of Texas A&M. In the sixth they dassed Corner Tremon Smith from Central Arkansas and Kahlil McKenzie, Guard from Tennessee.

    They added eight new players via free agency, including speedy Sammy Watkins from the LA Rams. Watkins is somewhat of a gamble by the Chiefs given his records of injuries. He hopes he can resurrect his carrer in KC and prove he is worth the #1 receiver contract. He will not be expected to be a star though, with returning start Tight End Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill on the team.

    They also picked up Anthony Hitchens, Linebacker from Dallas, Chad Henne QB from Jacksonville, David Amerson Corner from Oakland, Kerwynn Williams Running Back from Arizona and Robert Golden Free Safety from Pittsburgh.

    All in all there were a lot of parts and pieces shifting around. They are a team that has a lot of people chanting Super Bowl or bust, and a lot of people playing ‘wait and see’. Andy Reid is a great coach, but he is gambling on Mahomes. As Mahomes goes so will the Chiefs.



    Raiders

    The Raiders in the first round of the draft sought to shore up their offensive line. They took Kolton Miller, Offensive Tackle out of UCLA. This pick though has some pundits scratching their head, because Kolton was seen as a late second to middle third round pick. The Raiders reportedly liked the athleticism that Miller showed in college and during the combine. Miller reportedly bulked up before training camp and it will be interesting to see if the additional bulk impacts that athleticism at all.

    In the second round they took Defensive Tackle P.J. Hall out of Sam Houston State. Hall was taken in hopes of helping take some pressure of the Raiders Pass Rushing specialist Khalil Mack. However, by the start of the Pre-season games, Mack is not in camp and there is no expectation that he might be any time soon. Hall was a respected tackler in college as a two time first-team FCA All American. Hall is expected to work his way into the starting rotation of the defensive line.

    The Raiders had two picks in the 3rd round. Tackle Brandon Parker from North Carolina A&T and Defensive End Arden Key from LSU, showing the Raiders focus on beefing up and adding depth to both lines. Parker is expected to provide quality depth for the offensive line while it is hoped that Key could work his way into the defensive line rotation to provide another boost the Raiders pass rush.

    In the Fourth the Raiders chose Nick Nelson, Corner from Wisconsin, in the fifth Maurice Hurst Defensive Tackle from Michigan and Johnny Townsend Punter from Florida. They rounded out the draft by taking Azeem Victor, Linebacker from Washington in the sixth and Marcell Ateman Receiver from Oklahoma State in the seventh.

    They added seven veterans to the offense in free agency. Notably they added Doug Martin Running Back from Tampa Bay to provide Marshawn Lynch some back up. They also added Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson from the Green Bay Packers. Nelson coming off a down year in Green Bay, which with the injury to Aaron Rodgers isn’t totally unexpected is hope to give the Raiders offense additional threats down the field. Nelson is a work horse receiver who was cut by Green Bay after refusing to take a pay cut.

    They added seven free agents on the Defensive side of the ball including Safety Marcus Gilchrist from Houston. Raiders needed help in their back-end pass coverage and Gilchrist is hoped to provide some of that improvement.



    Season Outlook (Optimistic)

    Broncos

    The Broncos feel they have added the talent to allow them to challenge in the AFC West. The addition of Bradley Chubb gives most pundits reasons to be optimistic. Chubb and Miller should be an excellent pass rushing duo. Some writers have compared Chubb’s performance in OTAs and training camp to a young Khalil Mack. While those observations are made from the relative comfort of OTAs and training camp, you can’t take away from the fact that he will take pressure off Von Miller.

    Denver also has decent depth to their Defensive Line, meaning they may be able to wear the opposing Offensive Lines down, with rotations through out the game to keep their DL fresh.

    The Broncos also feel they have shored up and added much need stability to the right side of their line with the addition of Veldheer. Veldheer is a big body at 6 foot, 8 inches and 321 pounds. If he can stay healthy the right side of the line might see the most consistency it has seen since Orlando Franklin was at the peak of his game.

    The last item offered up for optimism is the Broncos skill positions. Especially Running Back, where the Broncos have added some versatility and speed with young backs. If a back such as Royce Freeman will take pressure off of the passing game and perhaps open things up for the Broncos.


    Chargers

    The Chargers have had the most consistency in the division. The same core of players (minus Gates) and coaches. They have the most complete roster in the division with no glaring holes. They have legitimate weapons and quality players at just about every position. Even with the loss of Hunter Henry the Chargers still look loaded for bear.

    Philip Rivers came off of one of his best seasons in 2017, and it does not look like he is ready to slow down in 2018. He made good decisions with the ball and played with fire.

    Looking at the Defense and every team respects the tandem of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. They are a game changing duo. They have a good secondary, led by Casey Hayward. Add an athletic and physical presence like Derwin James and Coach Brandley has to be licking his chops.

    The Offense gets its number one pick from last season, Mike Williams back, after missing much of last season with nagging injuries. So far in training camp he looks like he is ready to take a starting spot next to Keenan Allen.


    Chiefs

    The biggest reason Chiefs should be optimistic is Andy Freggin Reid. Say what you want, Andy makes teams he coaches better. Reid once said he wishes he had Alex Smith his whole career. Said Smith was the best he had seen. Well Reid found a new best in Patrick Mahomes and has said as much. It is expected that Mahomes who has one NFL start should not have any growing pains. He is reported to have a good head on his shoulder and a rocket of an arm. Oh yeah, he also has some good receivers to throw to and an excellent Tight End.

    The Chiefs defense looks improved from 2017. They might not be a dominate D as they were with the had Tamba Hali lining up across from Justin Houston, but they should be able to hold their own and allow the Offense time to do their work.

    The Chiefs have had good special teams for years, and it does not look like that has changed at all.


    Raiders

    Well, if you are a Fan of the Silver and Black most of you instantly thought ‘Jon Gruden’. Yes Gruden is back and changing the team. He has brought with him an excitement that energizes a fan base and team. Heck he throws parties for Raiders fans, and what way to get people energized than giving the beers and brats while telling them ‘I love you guys!’?

    They get their Quarterback Derek Carr back. Carr has shown a toughness the Raiders have not had at QB for some time. He has the physical abilities to raise the level of play of the skill positions around him. Give him some time and he can find a gap in the defense.

    The Raiders should have a sound running game, and if they can find a young, speedy RB to allow Beast Mode to get a breather and change the pace, the Raiders could be hard to stop. This would allow the Raiders to balance their attack.



    Season Outlook (Pessimistic)

    Broncos

    They have had a lot of changes, and lost some good players. Many pundits do not have faith in the Broncos, picking them to finish last in the division.

    The Broncos Coaching Staff does not fill anyone with confidence. It is still unclear what type of leader Vance Joseph is. Under Joseph the Broncos started 2017 3-1, on their way to a 5-11 season. Can the Coaching staff keep the players focused on the game and trusting their team mates or will 2018 be the last season Joseph is the head man in Denver?

    Distractions. The team is already dealing with the fall out of diva Punter…. YES PUNTER… king telling local Radio Hosts to keep his name out of their mouths. What other treasures will this young kid provide? Teams struggling to get back to winning ways don’t need distractions, and that is something if I were Elway, I would be making very clear to King.


    Chargers

    Well… The Chargers have to prove they aren’t the same old Chargers. Slow starts, late game failures (especially in the kicking game) and other things that make their diminished fan base scratch their heads. The Chargers have to stop playing down to the competition. They ended the 2017 season in a 9-1 gallop, barely missing the playoff after an 0-4 start. But they should not have ever had ‘barley’ in the equation. If you can’t win with a field goal, then win big!

    The loss of Hunter Henry hurt. He and Rivers were building up a wonderful chemistry on the field. Green might be able to cover some of that loss, but most likely it will take a couple of players to fully cover that outlet. Probably Running Back Melvin Gordon catching passes out of the backfield.

    Health. The Chargers need to have mongooses set free to roam their facilities because they are snake bit. The Chargers loose too many players to injuries. Each and every year (except for last year, when we think that the Defense were actually sacrificing buckets of fried chicken to Jobu in the equipment shed) they suffer far too many injuries. I am not sure what the team is doing to address this, but more needs to be done.

    Kicking… Will a real NFL kicker please stand up… please stand up… please stand up… The Chargers brought in a few candidates for kickers, and the results in camp so far are not comforting. The kickers in camp, the most vanilla environment they can kick in, are still missing kicks. If a kicker misses a game winning field goal this season, I want the D to call a code red and use them as a tackling dummy in the next practice!


    Chiefs

    I said it before, the team will go as far as Patrick Mahomes is able to take them. They have a few glaring holes and those can be made glaring if Mahomes struggles. So far in camp he has been plagued with turnovers. Most people brush this off as growing pains, but I bet the Chiefs faithful are looking out of the corner of their eyes as they chew their finger nails…

    They have a whole new secondary and no one knows what they really have. Concerns through camp at both corner positions and safety have many people wondering if the Chiefs might get burnt in the passing game early in the season.

    Their Defensive Line has not been the run stopping force it has been in the past. If they do not shore that up, then the Safetys will have to help in run coverage, causing more troubles for a questionable secondary.


    Raiders

    Lets start this off… Jon Gruden. He is reportedly showing his offense plays from the 70’s and 80’s. Many people wonder if Gruden can recapture his glory in Oakland or if he has simply been away from the game too long. Sure, he has been a TV announcer, and watched a lot of game film, but has he worked long hours to put a whole game plan together in like… forever?

    The Raiders franchised the franchise to get Gruden back. Ten years $100 million, and some mutterings about shares in the team… That is a lot to invest in him. In anyone. Some would argue that ‘Chucky’s’ greatest accomplishments came from a team built by Tony Dungy. Of course that was like 16 years ago…

    They have a lot of fresh faces, young blood on the line. Young blood can make mistakes. The skill position players are getting older. Beat Mode may not be able to Beast Mode for many more years.

    Oh… Has anyone heard that Khalil Mack is holding out? Further the Raiders and Mack reportedly haven’t spoken since February. Mack wants 22 Million a year… Yup… That is twenty-two millllllion. Not sure he is worth that much, if he gets it, it will certainly change how defenders are paid going forward. (I think Bosa is texting encouragement to Mack). Without Mack, who does the opposition fear in the Raiders Defense? No one.

    The offensive line. The Raiders have had an awesome offensive line. But last year cracks started to show. Derek Carr’s rating dropped last season when he was under pressure. Now they are working in a rookie at tackle… I hope the kid is as good as you thought he was when you plucked him out of the 3rd round basket with your first round pick… If not, look for Carr’s ratings to drop further.


    Well that is my take on the AFC West… The long and the… long of it.


    If you want, give your opinions and predictions.
     
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  2. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    Oh ****. Concudan wrote all that? I had to delete my snarky comment and actually read it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  3. SDRay

    SDRay RIP SD Chargers..F the LA Chargers, Go Irish Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

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    Nice job assessing the AFC West Conc. I’ll have my predictions at the end of the preseason.
     
  4. Concudan

    Concudan Still Chargin Staff Member Administrator

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    Why? Snarcasm is good....
     
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  5. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    Concudan, you should see if you can get into sports writing. Maybe an established blog or a local weekly paper that takes freelancing. You won't likely get paid at first, but you write for free anyway.

    I will root for Melvin Gordon. He said something good about San Diego and not so good about L.A., so I hope he has a lot of great games but doesn't get anybody to watch said games.

    Hunter Henry has an author's name or maybe a baseball name. He needs to get out of football, move to Paris, start doing drugs, write sex-infused semi-autobiographies, grow a badass 70s pitcher mustache, and set home-run records.
     
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