Tag Archives: Alex Smith

Triple Zeros: Easy Money Sniper on the Roof

Triple Zeros

Easy Money Sniper on the Roof

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Kevin Durant leaving Russell Westbrook off his list of his top-five teammates in favor of Serge Ibaka and reminds everyone of his warning about Nikola Jokic and the NBA MVP with Stephen Curry hot on his trail. Then things switch over to the NFL as Alex Smith walks away from the game on his own terms, Patrick Mahomes tells Tom Brady the G.O.A.T. discussion isn’t settled, and so much more!

Chicago Bulls Aggressiveness, Ball Movement Return in Wins

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Anchor | Apple

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Finding Homes for the Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

The big whirlwind that was free agency in the NFL has slowed but there are still quality free agents remaining on the market. And these are contributors, not guys just hanging on. So let’s do them, and the franchises we place them with a solid and find them some new homes. Heck, some might even rejuvenate their careers in their new digs.

Remaining NFL Free Agents Can Be Big Pieces for New Teams

Alex Smith – QB

2020 Stats: 5-1 record, 66.7% cmp, 1582 yds, 6 TD:8 INT

That Alex Smith was even able to take the field in 2020 is nothing short of remarkable. After nearly losing his leg to an infection following a gruesome break, Smith missed the entire 2019 season rehabbing. He was never supposed to see the field for Washington but ended up as their best quarterback when all was said and done.

Outlook: Soon to be 37, Smith’s day’s as a starter are long gone, or at least they should be. He’s shown he can still play but there will always be that specter of re-injury; even if Smith isn’t the fearful one. His ideal situation would be backing up one of the top incoming rookies. Even for a young quarterback such as Drew Lock in Denver.

Next Option: Matt Barkley

James Conner – RB

2020 Stats: 169 ru., 721 yds (4.3 YPC), 6 TDs

James Conner entered the league amid much fanfare due to overcoming his battle with cancer. But multiple factors, including the offensive line and scheme, have limited his effectiveness. Not the least of which is health. Conner has missed 15 starts in three seasons as RB1. Oddly, even as Ben Roethlisberger’s mobility deteriorates, Conner’s receiving work has dwindled.

Outlook: It’s a hard-knock life for running backs in the NFL. Conner would have a hard time finding big money on the open market coming off of a good year. Now he will be looking at a complementary backup role. A team like the Arizona Cardinals could use him for short-yardage, goal line, and change-of-pace duties. A return to the Steelers is also a strong possibility.

Next Option: Todd Gurley

Antonio Brown – WR

2020 Stats:45 rec,  483 yds, 2 TDs

Was 2020 enough for Antonio Brown to get back in everyone’s good graces? He caught 45 balls for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games (four starts). He added another eight catches, 81 yards, and two scores in the postseason. It was modest production from a once-giant in the game. But he was a functioning member of a championship team. That has to count for something, right?

Outlook: Any contender, provided they have a strong locker room, should look into bringing in Brown after what he did with little time around the Bucs organization. The Baltimore Ravens have a culture strong enough to overcome Brown. Plus there would be the added benefit of playing with his cousin, Marquise Brown. Reports are he and Tamp have mutual interest but the money isn’t close.

Next Option: Golden Tate

Jesse James

2020 Stats: 14 rec, 129 yds, 2 TDs

Jesse James’ stats won’t wow you but no one on the free-agent tight end market is all that exciting. James has two things going for him that most on the list don’t. First, he’ll be just 27 when the season starts. He also played in all 16 games last season. Oh, and he’s 6-foot-7. You can’t teach that.

Outlook: Again, no one in this group is going anywhere to be a “weapon” but James’ profile does fit that of a red zone threat. That wasn’t on full display in Detroit behind T.J. Hockenson but could be elsewhere. Most teams could use a tight end with his height for depth and the scoring area. A team like the Seattle Seahawks, where Russell Wilson makes good use of the position, would make good use of him.

Next Option: Tyler Eifert

Eric Fisher – OT

Reports are that Eric Fisher could be back on the field by mid-August. If true, he’s easily the top offensive lineman on the market. He received an 80.0 grade from Pro Football Focus. He’s also been durable outside of this past post-season and 2018 when he missed half the year. You need to look no further than Super Bowl LV to see the impact of Fisher’s absence.

Outlook: This is easy because several teams could use the services of a Super Bowl-winning, franchise left tackle. But the Los Angeles Chargers stand out from the rest. They have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert and have already begun building the blocking in front of him. But they have a gaping hole at left tackle. If the medicals check out, Fisher could stay in the same division.

Next Option: Ricky Wagner

Trai Turner – OG

The Chargers cut Trai Turner in a cap-saving move. Last season, the five-time Pro Bowler missed out on the honor for the first time since he was a rookie. He only appeared in nine games as he dealt with a nagging groin injury. But this decision looms large as he was easily their best lineman and they have holes elsewhere.

Outlook: Bengals fans are already making a push for Turner to keep interior pass rushers out of Joe Burrow’s lap. Cincy reportedly has yet to reach out but that is likely just a formality as most of the next wave of deals won’t take place until after the draft. When the time comes, though, Turner donning the stripes would be a good look.

Next Option: Nick Easton

Austin Reiter – C

Another victim of the Chiefs revamping their offensive line, Austin Reiter has the distinction of being currently healthy. That’s something his former linemates who are also looking for work cannot boast. He graded out decent enough from PFF but most will likely remember Patrick Mahomes running for his life in the Super Bowl more than anything.

Outlook: Kansas City has already replaced Reiter but the Steelers and Dolphins both had their centers, twins Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, retire this offseason. Reiter could land with either the Pittsburgh Steelers or Miami Dolphins and be a stabilizing force in the anchor spot.

Next Option: Tyler Shatley

Justin Houston – EDGE

2020 Stats: 25 tackles, 8 sacks, 25 pressures

Yes, Justin Houston will be 33 by the time Super Bowl LVI is played. But it’s also true that the former Indianapolis Colts pass rusher had eight sacks last season; eight more than the next highest ranked free agent. Yes, you read that right. It’s impossible to call Houston over the hill when he’s outperforming guys up to four years younger than him.

Outlook: The Colts are interested in bringing him back. But they will likely have competition for his services. He could land back in the AFC West with the Chargers who are looking for a replacement for Melvin Ingram who profiles similarly to Houston.

Next Option: Jadeveon Clowney

Kwon Alexander – LB

2020 Stats: 57 tackles (39 solo), 3 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FR

Yet another cap casualty, cutting ties with Kwon Alexander saved the Saints $13 million. Sure they just traded for him this past season, but it was for an expiring contract in Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round pick. That’s a pittance in the grand scheme. Still, it can’t feel good to have to cut a productive player for cash reasons.

Outlook: Inside linebacker is in a funky place right now. No one wants to pay top dollar for an off-ball linebacker but ask any team without a certified tackling machine or cover linebacker and see what they say. Alonso can fill both roles. He just needs a home and the Washington Football Team can give it to him. Their leading tackler was Jonathan Bostic but he’ll be 30 by the time the season starts and a free agent after it ends.

Next Option: Avery Williamson

Steven Nelson – CB

2020 Stats: 48 tackles, 2 INTs, 9 PD, 58.2% completion allowed

There might be some more recognizable names than Steven Nelson on the free-agent cornerback market. But they are all older or less effective (and mostly both) than he was for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. Remember, this is a defense that finished 2020 ranked third in yards allowed. Nelson’s only had three interceptions the past two years combined but he’s also allowed a sub-60 percent completion in his area the last three years.

Outlook: The Steelers saved $8 million moving on from Nelson but the move likely helped other teams more. Now, Nelson is free to sign with the team of his liking, and the franchise doesn’t have to fork over draft capital to acquire him or pay that exorbitant amount to keep him. The Arizona Cardinals (should) have entered the chat.

Next Option: Casey Hayward

Malik Hooker – S

2019 Stats: 51 tackles (30 solo), 2 INTs, 3 PD, 1 FR

Malik Hooker missed all but two games of the 2020 season with a torn Achilles. It’s just another in a long list of lower-body injuries the fifth-year man out of Ohio State has endured. The Colts declined his fifth-year option last May with his injury history in mind. But when healthy, Hooker provides a rare combination of range, ball skills, and tackling ability.

Outlook: If healthy (and that’s a big if) Hooker would be a great fit anywhere. But imagine he and Derwin James and the versatility they’d give rookie head coach Brandon Staley. Hooker would look good with the Tennessee Titans too. It would be a similar situation as the Chargers with he and Kevin Byard combining to be a menacing duo.

Next Option: Tre Boston

Week 13 Primetime Moneymakers: Four the Win

A week after having the NFL primetime schedule extended into Wednesday we will do so again in Week 13. It’s an attempt to get back on track. Week 12’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens took so long to be played that their matchups this week have been pushed back in response. Pittsburgh will play the Washington Football Team on Monday at 5:00 PM ET; technically not in primetime but the unique time lands it on the list. Baltimore will face the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday at 8:05 PM ET.

Sitting at 9-14 after a pair of brutal weeks, we finally hit it big going 3-0. We nailed Bears-Packers outright but only got Seahawks-Eagles and Steelers-Ravens covers because the spread changed. So what, we’ll take it at this point. The record now sits at 12-14 with a chance to go above .500 on the year for the first time. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster of bad beats but there’s still money to be made. If anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

Picking Four to Win in Week 13 Primetime Moneymakers

Denver Broncos (4-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)

Spread: Chiefs -14

O/U: 51

Drew Lock should be back under center for the Denver Broncos (6-5 ATS). They had to face the New Orleans Saints with practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, a converted college quarterback. It did not go well as they lost 31-3. The Broncos average 22.7 PPG in Lock’s seven starts this season. They’ll need every bit of it with their opponent this week. Defensively they rank 10th in DVOA, per Football Outsiders, and seventh in sacks. That’s a testament to the job head coach Vic Fangio has done without Von Miller this season.

If ‘unbothered’ was a person, that person would be Patrick Mahomes. Undaunted by the reputation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense (which was largely overblown anyway), he and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-5 ATS) put up 27 fairly easy points on them. They held off a late rally to reach double-digit wins for the sixth season in a row and seventh in eight years under Andy Reid (they won nine games the other year).

Perhaps in some alternate universe Lock is developed enough. And Miller and Courtland Sutton are healthy so the Broncos can keep up with the Chiefs. In this reality, though, he and the rest of the offense aren’t equipped to take advantage. The Chiefs defense ranks 17th in DVOA and has just 20 sacks on the season. Good luck to that secondary containing Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman. No secondary is that deep. Take the Chiefs but just moneyline. For some reason, 14 points feel like too many to lay against a divisional opponent even with such a lopsided matchup.

Washington Football Team (4-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)

Spread: Steelers -10

O/U: 42.5

The Washington Football Team (6-5 ATS) have had a surprisingly competitive season. And that’s not just because they play in the worst division in professional football which means they still have a chance to host a playoff game. It’s also because their defense is ranked fifth in DVOA despite the offense being 27th and 24th in scoring. Alex Smith has led the Football Team to back-to-back wins but has just three touchdowns to five interceptions.

By now the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3 ATS) have to be tired of COVID as much as anyone. On top of having their own problems with the virus, they have had their games moved twice already due to their opponents handling of it. Still, they are undefeated and coming off a disappointing win (per Mike Tomlin) against a depleted division rival. Can their offense (sixth in scoring, 15th in DVOA) take a break and ride the defense (first in scoring and DVOA) to another win?

Some might be questioning the validity of Pittsburgh’s record after watching Ben Roethlisberger and co. struggle against Baltimore but that’s just how those games go. Washington will need them to play as sloppily as they did in Week 12 to have a shot because a shootout guarantees a Steelers victory. Barring that this will make it 12 wins for Tomlin’s team but maybe not by the double-digit margin predicted. The quick turnaround might lead the Steelers to run more with guys still missing in action and that would be just fine with the Football Team. Steelers moneyline seems best as does the under.

Buffalo Bills (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (5-6)

Spread: 49ers +1

O/U: 48

If it seems like the Buffalo Bills (6-5 ATS) aren’t losing much lately it’s because they aren’t. Since back-to-back losses to the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs they have gone 4-1 with a huge win over the Seattle Seahawks included. Buffalo, led by Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, is 10th in scoring offense and eighth in offense DVOA despite not having a ground game worth mentioning. Being so one-dimensional can be detrimental to any team, especially when your defense is 16th in DVOA and 18th in scoring.

Don’t look now, but the San Francisco 49ers (5-6 ATS) find themselve very much in the playoff hunt despite all of the games they’ve lost to injury this year. They’ve gotten some key players back in recent weeks including Richard Sherman and Raheem Mostert so maybe they can start stringing wins together. They still rank ninth in defense DVOA but are just 19th offensively. Jimmy Garoppolo (and likely George Kittle) won’t be walking through that door and Nick Mullens caps this team’s ceiling.

Location, location, location. The 49ers might appreciate the change of venue for this one since they’ve allowed 15 touchdowns at home compared to just 10 on the road. Their offense has also scored more on the road. Buffalo sees a drop in their offensive scoring, mostly in rushing scores. But their defense actually improves away from Bills Stadium. Additionally, even though it’s a small spread it’s worth mentioning the 49ers haven’t covered the spread in any game they haven’t won outright this season and that isn’t to be expected here. Take Buffalo and don’t be shocked to see over hit even with San Francisco so undermanned.

Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Check back soon once the line is set for this game to get the pick!

Kyler Murray: The NFL’s Next MVP

Kyler Murray will be the Most Valuable Player in the NFL in 2020. Yes, we are months out from training camp, let alone the regular season. So much can change from basic cuts and trades to devastating injuries. But the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 is uniquely outfitted to bring the award to the desert.

Sure, this sounds crazy now. The Arizona Cardinals just finished a 5-10-1 season. It was their fourth-straight losing season, and seventh in the past decade. But there were some mitigating factors (on top of Murray’s inexperience) that played a large part in that. Not the least of which is the defense that allowed the fourth-most points in team history.

Since this is about the MVP, an individual award, we can (somewhat) take his team’s success with a grain of salt and focus on Murray and why he makes sense for 2020 MVP.

Kyler Murray Will Be the Next MVP

History

Before we get into the numbers that Murray put up himself, let’s do a quick skim of the history of the MVP in the NFL. And we don’t even have to look too deep to recognize the pattern that has developed over the years. One that has shown a clear bias towards who will and won’t win the most-coveted individual award in the League.

Established in 1957 (yes, the award pre-dates the AFL-NFL merger of 1970), the MVP award has been awarded to the player thought to be the most indispensable to his team. That has usually been an offensive player.  More often than not, that has meant awarding a quarterback. More specifically, 38 quarterbacks have been named MVP compared to just 16 running backs.

That pattern has through recent times as quarterbacks have won every MVP since Adrian Peterson won it back in 2012. Before him, it was Shaun Alexander (05) and LaDainian Tomlinson (06) winning back-to-back. But this isn’t the biggest historical factor leading to this proclamation. We only need to look at the past few years to find that.

The past two winners of the coveted award were Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Aside from both sharing the NFL’s glamour position, they both won the award in their second season. Unlike either Jackson or Mahomes, however, Murray started every game of his rookie campaign, perhaps giving him a leg up in development.

His Story

Murray enjoyed a fantastic collegiate career at Oklahoma playing for Lincoln Riley. His dynamic skill set made him the perfect fit for Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid scheme and he proved it in 2019. It was an uneven start but it didn’t take long for the jitterbug passer to show what made him special.

The Cardinals quarterback threw the sixth-most passes (542) in for a rookie in NFL history and joined some notable company in doing so, including a Hall of Famer. He joined Cam Newton and became just the second rookie ever to throw for over 3700 yards and run for over 540 yards, and the ninth player overall to do so.

Arizona, as mentioned, was bad on the whole and the porous offensive line allowed the sixth-most sacks. But they still managed to rank 10th in rushing. That was thanks in no small part to Murray who finished 36th overall in rushing yards. His dual-threat abilities were on full display during a three-game stretch where he averaged 10 carries per game.

He did all this with the terrible blocking, yes. But he was also the victim of depleted weaponry. His All-Pro running back David Johnson has been reduced to a shell of his former self. He saw himself replaced by his backup Chase Edmonds and later (and for good) by Miami Dolphins castoff Kenyan Drake. His top receiver was the ageless Larry Fitzgerald. That’s not good.

The Sooner the Better

Murray finished the season 15th in passing yards and completion percentage despite all the shortcomings around him. He’s in a system that is geared towards his strengths, something else he has in common with Jackson and Mahomes. This system has never featured the run and the defense will still be bad next season. In other words, he’ll need to throw a lot.

An infusion of talent is on the horizon via free agency and the draft. Depending on how they feel about young pass-catchers Christian Kirk, Damiere Byrd, and KeeSean Johnson they could focus heavily on the offensive line. They could also focus on cornerback and pass rush help because they will want to at least try to stop their opponents.

The success of Mahomes has been the result of the perfect marriage of a great situation and superb individual talent. And he still sat for a season behind Alex Smith. Baltimore overhauled their coaching staff to implement a system that would best utilize Jackson’s abilities (a novel concept, right?). But only after his rookie season.

Murray will enter his sophomore campaign with far more experience than either of those two. He’ll also have a system in place that was seemingly designed for him and that he won’t have had to learn in one offseason. All this along with the organization assumedly having a better understanding of what pieces he needs around him only enhances his prospects.

Kyler Murray, 2020 MVP

This is speculating to the extreme. No one knows how anything in the offseason will play out. But Murray answered two very important questions last season. He proved he could play in the NFL and he proved he can survive a 16-game season at his size. The next step will be improving his consistency and turning drives into points. If he does that, he will certainly be the MVP in 2020.