NEW WAVE IS ON THE WAY!

NEW WAVE IS ON THE WAY!

By Ed Kracz
NFL Contributor for The Balance

A new wave of quarterbacks has begun crashing mightily upon the shores in National Football League cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Dallas. And anyone who knows the NFL understands that, without a solid quarterback, your favorite team is simply washed up.
Thanks to last year’s draft class, the Rams, Eagles, and Cowboys are well-positioned for future success. That success may already have arrived, even though Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott are only in their second seasons.
There was plenty of talk prior to the 2016 draft that Goff and Wentz weren’t worthy of being picked first and second in the National Football League Draft.
That talk was wrong. Just as it feels all wrong that Prescott somehow lasted until the fourth round when Dallas finally plucked him.
The Rams took Goff first overall. The Eagles took Wentz second overall.
Look at them now. More importantly, look at their teams.
Led by Wentz, the Eagles are sitting at a league-best 8-1 and the odds-on favorite to win the NFC and make the Super Bowl. Wentz is the frontrunner to be this year’s Most Valuable Player. His 23 touchdown passes – to just five interceptions – has him on pace to break the Eagles’ single-season record for TD passes, which is currently held by Sonny Jurgensen, who tossed 32 back in 1961.
Jurgensen did it in 14 games, but Wentz has five more games to get nine more to do what Jurgensen accomplished.
As for Goff’s Rams, they are sitting pretty at 6-2. He has 13 TDs to four interceptions.
Goff and Wentz became the first two quarterbacks taken first and second overall to throw four touchdown passes on the same weekend, as the Eagles put up 51 against the Denver Broncos and the Rams torched the New York Giants for 51.
There is a good chance the Eagles and Rams could meet in the NFC Championship Game. As it is, the two teams will play meet on Dec. 10 in L.A., a sort of early Christmas gift for NFL fans as they will get a chance to see an offensive showdown between the No. 1 and 2 picks in last year’s draft.
Don’t count out the Cowboys, either. They have already lost to the Rams, but they still play the Eagles twice, beginning on Nov. 19 in Dallas then ending the season on New Year’s Eve in Philly.
It’s not just Goff, Wentz, and Prescott breathing new life into a position that has been dominated for years by the old guard of Super Bowl winners such as Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Drew Brees.
Houston rookie Deshaun Watson was doing marvelous things for the Texans before tearing an ACL last week. And, while Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay and Marcus Mariota in Tennessee, have yet to live up the billing of being the first and second quarterbacks taken in first and second overall in 2015, they each possess the skill set to take their team a long way at some point over the next 10 years.
This new wave comes along at the right time, given the fact that the careers of such players as Super Bowl winners Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger are winding down.
Here is a look at the ages of the league’s quarterbacks:
(Age when 2017 season began)
The Old Guard
40: Tom Brady, Patriots
38: Drew Brees, Saints
37: Carson Palmer, Cardinals
36: Eli Manning, Giants
35: Philip Rivers, Chargers; Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
34: Jay Cutler, Dolphins
33: Aaron Rodgers, Packers; Alex Smith, Chiefs
32: Joe Flacco, Ravens; Matt Ryan, Falcons
Middle of the road (26-30 years old)
29: Sam Bradford, Vikings; Kirk Cousins, Washington; Andy Dalton, Bengals; Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
28: Cam Newton, Panthers; Tyrod Taylor Bills; Russell Wilson, Seahawks
27: Andrew Luck, Colts
26: Derek Carr, Raiders
The next wave (25 and under)
25: Blake Bortles, Jaguars
24: Carson Wentz, 24, Eagles; Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings; Dak Prescott, Cowboys; Trevor Siemian, Broncos
23: Paxton Lynch, Broncos; Marcus Mariota, Titans; Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
22: Jared Goff, Rams
21: Deshaun Watson, Texans

NFL lack of O heading into Monday night/Ed Kracz

NFL lack of O heading into Monday night
Ed Kracz-Official NFL Contributor for the Balance
@kracze

Maybe Monday night’s primetime NFC East matchup between rivals Philadelphia and Washington will be easier on the eyes than what took place around the National Football League on Sunday.
Don’t look for any offensive short-outs between the Eagles, who are the only team in the league with only one loss at the moment, and the Redskins, who are trying to prevent being swept by the Birds this season after losing the season-opener on their home field back in early September.
At least hope for some offense. That was very much a missing ingredient in Sunday’s full slate of games.
There were six teams who failed to score an offensive touchdown. That’s just simply offensive.
There were another five teams who scored only one touchdown. That’s just mystifying in a day and age where the rules are tailored to encourage points.
The Titans and Browns slogged through 60 minutes of football where neither team was capable of finding the end zone. Tennessee won an all-field-goal game, 12-9. And it took overtime to decide. Fans should demand their money back for having to watch that slop. Of course, Cleveland fans are used to watching such anemic offensive play after failing to draft an NFL-caliber quarterback in forever.
Sunday was no different, with head coach Hue Jackson deciding to start DeShone Kizer again after benching him last week, only to change course during the game, yanking out Kizer for Cody Kessler. The Browns are now 1-22 since trading away the No. 2 pick of the draft last year to the Eagles, who selected quarterback Carson Wentz. There aren’t enough thank-you notes in the world for Philly fans to send Cleveland for that deal.
The Chicago Bears won their second straight game to get to 3-4 and did so with their starting quarterback, rookie Mitchell Trubisky, completing just four passes in seven attempts. The Bears held the ball for just 21 minutes, 25 seconds, gained a paltry total of 153 yards and yet still found a way to beat the Carolina Panthers 17-3.
Three teams had big fat zeroes next to their name – the Colts, Broncos, and Cardinals.
The last time three teams laid goose-eggs on the same day was back in December 2012.
OK, Arizona lost it starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, to a broken arm, and he will miss the next eight weeks at minimum, so maybe they get a pass – no pun intended.
The Broncos need to think about making a quarterback change, before it’s too late. The Broncs are swimming in a sea of mediocrity at 3-3 and Trevor Siemian is at the helm of an offense going nowhere. They have scored 108 points in six games. Only three teams have scored fewer, and, yes, the Browns are one. Denver’s defense is too good to let this season slip through its fingers.
Then there are the Colts, whose offensive line allowed 10 sacks to Jacksonville – or should we say, Sacksonville.
It’s a wonder that Indy QB Jacoby Brissett managed to escape injury. And isn’t that why Brissett is playing quarterback in the first place, because Andrew Luck could not stay healthy behind an offensive line that has more leaks than Donald Trump’s White House?
So cross your fingers and hope the Monday nighter at least delivers some touchdowns, and some drama.

So yeah about “Rodgers and the NFC” /Ed Kracz Balance NFL Contributor

So yeah about “Rodgers and the NFC” /Ed Kracz Balance NFL Contributor
By Ed Kracz
NFL Contributor

Too many of the stars in the NFL heavens have begun to flicker out.
Another weekend of games are complete, and on this one, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn’t make it to the finish line, breaking a collarbone in his throwing shoulder on a clean hit from Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr during their game on Sunday. So Rodgers joins other stars such as the Giants’ Odell Beckham, the Texans’ J.J. Watt, the Cardinals’ David Johnson, the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook, and the Patriots’ Julian Edelman on the shelf for the remainder of the year.
It’s not good for the league or its fans when these types of high-quality players go down before the season has even begun to get within ear shot of trick-or-treaters ringing doorbells on Halloween.
Strictly from an on-the-field perspective, the injury to Rodgers may have the greatest consequences not only on his team, but across the entire NFC landscape, from the east coast where Philly is making plenty of noise to the west coast where Seattle’s defense keeps thumping right along.
Rodgers was arguably the best player in the league. He gave the Pack a chance to win any game they played, even though Green Bay is a flawed team. So is just about every team in the league, though, which made Rodgers the great tiebreaker and his team a perennial Super Bowl contender.
Now, Green Bay will attempt to stay afloat with a former fifth-round draft pick in Brett Hundley and a backup who played his college football at the tiny Division III Wesley University in Dover, Del.
Meanwhile, the rest of the NFC salivates.
Suddenly, the Eagles are the favorite to earn a No. 1 seed. They have the best record in the NFC at 5-1. Seattle is in the hunt for the top spot with a defense that is still ferocious and a quarterback in Russell Wilson who has been to the mountaintop once already in his career. Don’t count out Carolina, yet, either despite a 28-23 loss to Philadelphia last Thursday.
None of these teams have anything locked up, by any means, though.
Not now, not after the momentum Rodgers’ injury gives teams like the Falcons, who were a 13-point favorite at home on Sunday, yet somehow found a way to the Jay Cutler-led Miami Dolphins. Or the Detroit Lions, who looked like a team to be reckoned with until losing their last two games, giving up a whopping 52 points to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
The Washington Redskins fought tooth-and-nail to get to 3-2 by surviving an upset bid from the winless 49ers on Sunday.
Go right down the list … Minnesota, especially quarterback Teddy Bridgewater given the green-light to practice this week, the Los Angeles Rams with a 31-year-old coach in Sean McVay doing wonders with former No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff, and on it goes.
Really, there are only two teams who don’t look like they can make it into the playoff field of six and they are the 1-5 Giants and 0-6 49ers. Maybe the Packers are the third now that Rodgers is done.
The rest?
Well, with Rodgers’ star now extinguished most of the NFC teams have an even greater chance to shine.

Follow Ed Kracz on Twitter: @kracze

This Week in the NFL! Ed Kracz/NFL Contributor

nfl-week-6-opening-lines

By Ed Kracz ED

Official NFL Contributor to The Balance

The Dallas Cowboys have the weekend off thanks to their bye, but the drama that has surrounded star running back Ezekiel Elliott did not take a break.
Elliott’s on-again, off-again six-game suspension was reinstated earlier in the week. Elliott, the Cowboys and the NFL Players Association refuse to go quietly into the night, however.
The NFLPA has asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an immediate recall so they can pursue a full-panel hearing with the court. If the recall goes through, Elliott may very well be able to play in Dallas’ next game on Oct. 22 against the winless 49ers. If it does not, he will sit out games against San Francisco, the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angles Chargers. He would not be eligible to return until Nov. 30 against Washington.
By then, the Cowboys’ defense of the NFC East title they won last year, when they went 13-3, may be out the window, because the Eagles appear to be in good shape to unseat them.
The Eagles are sitting at 5-1, compared to Dallas’ 2-3, and Philly quarterback Carson Wentz has taken a huge leap forward from his rookie season. Wentz has thrown seven touchdowns in his last two games and has been over 300-yards passing in half the team’s games this year.
More importantly, the Eagles are playing team football and free of the drama that surrounds the Cowboys and also another NFC East team, the New York Giants, who are sitting at 0-5, have injuries galore at receiver and had to suspend cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earlier in the week when he complained about being taken out of a recent game.
Elliott and the Cowboys seem to be affected by the suspension issue.
The offensive line, which is one of the league’s best, isn’t playing at the same level as it did last year when Elliott led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards.
Also, in his first five games last year, Elliott had 546 yards and five touchdowns. In his first five this season, he has 393 with one touchdown and was held to eight yards on the ground by the Denver Broncos in Week Two.
Should Elliott be lost for the next six games, the running game would be handled by Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. Not bad, but not Elliott, either.
That means quarterback Dak Prescott, who was last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, will likely have to shoulder a heavier load.
Prescott has the targets to be effective in future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten and receivers Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley, but the quarterback also has an 11-game streak where he has failed to throw for more than 300 yards.
That would have to end if Elliott’s suspension remains in place.

ED KRACZ: Could Derek Barnett be the next Reggie White?

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The following article is contributed by Ed Kracz NFL contributor for the Balance, Beat writer for the The Philadelphia Eagles and Calkins Media
ED KRACZ: Could Derek Barnett be the next Reggie White?

PHILADELPHIA — Had there been a roof, it would have blown off. This was the first outdoor draft in National Football League history so the ear-splitting noise that a crowd of about 80,000 gathered on the Ben Franklin Parkway simply rose to the heavens when it was announced the Eagles were on the clock.

After nearly 10 minutes passed, league commissioner Roger Goodell strode across the stage at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the Rocky theme song blasting.

Then came the pick: pass rusher Derek Barnett from the University of Tennessee.

Maybe someone up in the heavens heard the roars. Maybe even Reggie White himself heard them, because the late, great defensive end, who gave the Eagles so many great years and memories, must know Barnett.

It was Barnett who broke his sack record at Tennessee. The Nashville, Tennessee, native was the first freshman to start on the d-line for Tennessee in 2014, and he responded by having three straight double-digit sack seasons. If he can do that in the NFL, he could be this team’s next White.

It’s a tall order, though, especially because there are some knocks on him. Speed and burst are two.

But 32 sacks are 32 sacks.

“What Derek is proficient at is at the top of his rush, when Derek gets there, he has the bend and can finish,” vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. “He can really close. He has a variety of moves, speed, he can use power and he can finish when he gets to the top of the rush. I think there is a high ceiling for Derek. He’s going to get better, improve his hand technique. He said after he was drafted, he’s only scratching the surface of his potential and I fully expect him to reach it.”

There is no questioning that Barnett is a person of a high-character, and in this draft, where red flags popped up on players like a South Jersey beach when rip tides are present, that is saying something.

Running back Dalvin Cook was still on the board when the Eagles made their pick but several off-field incidents may have steered them away. Same with linebacker Reuben Foster. The Eagles could’ve had him but maybe the diluted urine sample during the NFL Scouting Combine scared them away.

“We’re real excited to get Derek,” executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said. “He was the highest-rated player on our board. We’re always built along the lines but, at same time, take highest-rated guy. He fits our scheme, he fits our culture and I think we got a tremendous player and a tremendous person. Everyone in this city will see the kind of person he is. He has unbelievable character, a hard worker and is really productive.”

Pass rushers are hard to find, and the Eagles believe they found one.

He may not have tested well at the Scouting Combine but Douglas said that was the case with Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs. That didn’t stop Douglas’ employer at the time — the Ravens and Ozzie Newsome — from taking Suggs, who became the league’s defensive player of the year shortly after being drafted.

“Both players didn’t test outrageously well but both are highly productive players, high toughness, great people,” Douglas said. “Again, his production is unmatched.”

Roseman defended Barnett’s testing by saying that Barnett had the flu at the Combine and at his pro day he had a hamstring issue.

As expected, this draft was about as unpredictable as any in recent memory.

So many mock drafts had defensive players coming off the board early and often. It was the other way around. Seven of the first 10 picks were offensive picks.

For the Eagles, who are looking to complete the puzzle around quarterback Carson Wentz, that was not a good thing.

Three of the top 10 players were receivers who had all been heavily linked to the Birds: Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross. Another offensive player the Eagles no doubt coveted was Christian McCaffrey. The Stanford running back went to the Carolina Panthers, which was where most experts thought he would go.

The good news was, there were three trades before the Eagles’ turn came at No. 14. All three of those teams trading up took quarterbacks, which pushed talent down the board.

“We spent a lot of time going through scenarios and we did not have any scenarios with what happened here,” Roseman said. “It was real interesting how it went.”

When all that shuffling was complete, the Eagles had plenty of talent from which to choose, especially on defense. There was one offensive weapon they could’ve had and that was Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. Imagine a two-tight end set of him and Zach Ertz. That would’ve been scary.

In the end, though, defense was the direction they found too difficult to ignore.

They could have taken Alabama defensive tackle Johnathan Allen, who was the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Award on the nation’s top defense and had 10.5 sacks. Maybe if Allen was an end, he would have been the pick, because there was a clear need on the edge after the release of Connor Barwin.

So it’s one down and seven more picks to go.

The next two come Friday night, where the Birds own the 43rd and 99th overall picks.

Maybe the puzzle piece around Wentz will come then. Maybe a cornerback or two.

“There are a lot of different turns and twists as we go forward,” Roseman said, “but this is a good start for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Ed Kracz: 215-949-3070; ekracz@calkins.com; @kracze

The Balance Presents Super Bowl 50 Party/Special

Welcome to the annual Balance Super Bowl Party/Special broadcast.

This should be your 1st stop on Super Bowl Sunday. Today we invite freinds of the show back to talk nothing but Super Bowl

Host of the Balance El Presidente Tom Marquis and special guest Co-Host Ed Kracz Ed Kracz beat writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles for Calkins Media bring you all The Super Bowl storylines with a “Balance Twist”

This is a “Podcast” Format so 2 hours commercial free Super Bowl Talk

Mo of the Co Host of @BSSportstheFan Show, Matt Hicks from 1070 the fan in Indy,Kent Sterling of the Kent Sterling Show,Jason Hammer of the Hammer and Nigel show all are just a few of the guest expected to call into today’s show.

We will have serious breakdowns, with some comic relief, and we will probably fall the “The Rails’ from time to time..But Hey its Super Bowl Sunday

But rest assured like always

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This is the ONE place where fanatics can come together and talk about their favorite teams. The Balance brings you an analytical breakdown of sports from a Fans point of view.

The Best of The Balance 2015 Air Date 12/26/2015

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Today’s episode features interviews from previously recorded episodes.

Ralph Sheheen
Ariel Biggs
The original debut shows for co host that one Radio Guy Rick Riggin/Jordan The Intern

Finally a show for all FANS

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Its Saturday Morning

Join host Tom Marquis and The Balance Team

This is the ONE place where fanatics can come together and talk about their favorite teams. The Balance brings you an analytical breakdown of sports from a Fans point of view.

We bring breaking news, commentary, scores, stats, standings, audio and highlights!

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You don’t wanna miss the Balance !!!

EAGLES COLUMN: Rookies look like contributors/ Guest writer Ed Kracz

Below is a column written by Eagles Beat Writer for the Philadelphia Eagles
http://www.theintell.com/sports/eagles/eagles-column-rookies-look-like-contributors/article_5ba2afb8-59a7-5c69-b2e0-5a3f99eb877c.html

Carl Kosola/Staff Photographer
Carl Kosola/Staff Photographer

PHILADELPHIA — Usually they need time to marinate, slowly simmering in the weight room and meeting room.
That’s what rookies, for the most part, have done in the first two drafts with Eagles coach Chip Kelly in charge. There are some exceptions. Right tackle Lane Johnson comes to mind, but he was the fourth overall pick in 2013. Jordan Matthews was on the receiving end of nearly 900 yards last year after entering the league in the second round.
This year could be completely different.
There were rookies making plays all over the field during the Eagles’ 36-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
The team’s first three picks — receiver Nelson Agholor, cornerback Eric Rowe,and linebacker Jordan Hicks — flashed, their sixth-round pick, cornerback Randall Evans, recovered a fumble, and their seventh-round selection, 6-foot-9 defensive end Brian Mihalik, recorded the Eagles’ first sack. And don’t forget another sixth-round selection, JaCorey Shepherd, who was on track to be the starting slot cornerback until an ACL tear ended his season last week.
“The one thing you don’t know about a lot of those guys is what are they going to be like when you get them into a game,” said Kelly. “That’s the encouraging thing … Without seeing film, I felt a lot of guys stepped up and made plays. Eric Rowe with a fumble caused, did a great job stripping him. Nelson made big catch on our bench and on their bench turned it into a touchdown, then another catch, so we’re excited about those guys. It’s just one step for us, but we feel like we have a lot of good film to teach off of.”
Agholor turned a high, short throw from Mark Sanchez into a 34-yard touchdown that put the Eagles ahead to stay 7-3 with 3:27 left in the opening quarter. The first-round pick finished with three catches for 57 yards. Asked about the touchdown, all Agholor wanted to talk about was the two catches he didn’t make, including one that zipped right through his hands.
“First time I touched the ball was a dropped incompletion,” he said. “I had two hands on the ball, guy comes in and rakes it out, so at end of day, that’s on my mind more than the (touchdown).”
The team’s second-round pick, Rowe forced a fumble from Phillip Dorsett, the Colts’ first-round draft pick this year. Of course, there was some bad there, too. Rowe was beaten on deep over route by Dorsett.
“All I could do was run and catch up,” said Rowe. “When I saw him catch it — at practice we preach strip and get the ball out. I saw he was carrying the ball loose, I punched at it, but wrapped up and tried to get the tackle, too. Once I saw it come out, I was pretty pumped.”
As for Hicks, he made mistakes, too.
That’s what being a rookie is about.
Hicks missed a tackle on the Colts’ only TD of the day, a 9-yard run from Josh Robinson that made the score 26-10 with 7:08 to play in the third quarter. But there was the key block he made on what became a 92-yard punt return by Kenjon Barner with just four seconds left in the first half that sent the Birds into the locker room with a 23-3 lead.
With a crowded field of inside linebackers, it will be special teams where Hicks will learn to grow his game.
“We take a lot of pride coming in here,” said Hicks of the rookies. “This organization, coach Kelly’s done a great job getting guys here who care, who want to get better, who want to compete, who take practice seriously, who take getting better seriously. It’s the culture of this team. You come in here, you’re around his team for five minutes, you understand you’re around a group of guys who want to get better, who want to compete, who want to play for each other.”
Then there were the guys who weren’t even drafted this May but scooped up shortly afterward as free agents. Guys like tight end Eric Tomlinson and receiver Rasheed Bailey.
Tomlinson led the team in receiving, catching five passes for 61 yards and Bailey caught both passes thrown his way, one of which was a one-handed spear from Tim Tebow that went for 18 yards and bailed the team out of bad field position. Bailey’s two receptions covered 23 yards.
“The ultimate goal here is to win and win every week,” said veteran tight end Brent Celek, who added that he has been energized by this influx of youth. “When you have young guys that can contribute like that, it’s big. We still have a long way to go, but I love the attitude of not only these young kids but the whole team. It’s just a different attitude around here. I really hope it translates. At end of day we have to win games and I think we have the guys to do that. I’m excited. I know I’m getting older now, I’ve never been happier to be on a team than I am now.”
The thing that makes contributing as a rookie so difficult, at least in the opinion of nose tackle Beau Allen, who was one himself last year, is that there is very little break form the time the college season ends until the NFL season ramps up. Allen was one of only two drafted rookies from last year who made an impact on the field, with Matthews being the other.
“It’s a whirlwind for those guys because a lot of them have bowl games then all star games, the (scouting) combine, the pre-draft process, then OTAs and they get a couple weeks off before they’re in camp,” said Allen. “It’s just wild. They don’t get a lot of time off and that’s hard on the body.”
This year’s rookie crop seems to get it, and, right now, looks like several can come out sizzling from the start rather than slowly marinating.
Ed Kracz: 215-345-3069; email: ekracz@calkins.com; Twitter: @kracze