New York Jets 2021 opponent report: Atlanta Falcons

London’s calling the New York Jets, who will battle the Atlanta Falcons overseas in an interconference matchup in Week 5.

The Opponent: Atlanta Falcons
The Date: Week 5, 9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network (@ London, England)
The Series: Atlanta leads 7-5 (last meeting: 2017, 25-20 ATL)

American soil hasn’t been too kind to the New York Jets. Perhaps a semester abroad can do them some good.

The Jets play on a different continent for the first time since 2015, as they’ll battle the Atlanta Falcons in a British-based interconference matchup. New York won in their lone appearance in the NFL’s International Series, topping the Miami Dolphins at the rebooted Wembley Stadium.

Previous international business trips for the Jets include a visit up north to play the Buffalo Bills in Toronto back in 2009 and preseason contests in Montreal (1988) and Tokyo (2003). Atlanta, coming off a garish four-win campaign, hasn’t played overseas since 2014, when they dropped a 22-21 heartbreaker to Detroit, also at Wembley.

The Skinny On the Falcons

A new era has dawned in Atlanta. Matt Ryan is back for his 14th season as the Falcons’ franchise quarterback (the Jets have started 13 different throwers in that span) but franchise staple Julio Jones has moved on to Nashville. Atlanta also dismissed general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn, each of whom was only four years removed from a Super Bowl appearance.

There’s a lot of things new in Atlanta (more on that in a minute). Several franchise faces that made that Super Bowl run have vanished, but Ryan has remained eternal. Having turned 36 in May, his contract dictates that he has at least two more years left as the Falcons’ man under center. Atlanta drove that point home by refusing to name an heir apparent. The role of Ryan’s understudy is down to a competition between undrafted Felipe Franks and NFL nomad Josh Rosen.

“We studied every drop-back pass, every play-action pass, everything that Matt did this past year,” new Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London said after the team passed (pun intended) on several high-profile throwers at the 2021 draft, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We thought as a staff that he was still performing at a high level. He could still do everything that was needed to do to run this offense…He’s been doing it in this league for a long time at a high level. We expect that to continue this year.”

With Jones dealt away to the Titans, Ryan has found a new favorite target in Calvin Ridley, who established himself as one of the most prominent deep-ball threats for years to come with a career-best 1,374 yards. Russell Gage quietly set new personal highs in the slot and will take on full No. 2 receiver duties in Jones’ absence.

New York Giants, Kyle Pitts
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What’s New In Atlanta?

In the apparent name of building one last Super Bowl map for Ryan, the Falcons retooled this offseason. Arthur Smith takes over as head coach after turning the Titans’ offense into a juggernaut while former New Orleans rival Terry Fontenot was named the general manager. Granted their highest first-round pick since they chose Ryan third overall in 2008, the Falcons defined the concept of taking the “best player available” through the selection of tight end Kyle Pitts. The Florida alum’s other-worldly size (i.e. a jaw-dropping 83-3/8 inch wingspan) allowed the Falcons to feel comfortable in biding their time in finding Ryan’s successor.

Atlanta also underwent extensive renovations to their run game. The team bid farewell to 1,411 yards of production in the form of the Todd Gurley/Brian Hill/Ito Smith group and signed ex-division rival Mike Davis, who rose to the occasion after the Christian McCaffrey nightmare in Charlotte. In terms of protection, cap reasons forced the Falcons to let offensive line staple Alex Mack go. Matt Hennessy (brother of Jets long snapper Thomas) appears poised to take over the role, having beat out fourth-round selection Drew Dalman.

Provided Ryan remains reliable and Pitts fulfills expectations, the Falcons’ biggest issues lie on defense (which was overseen by new Jets defensive boss Jeff Ulbrich after Quinn’s firing). Atlanta also completely overhauled their safeties room (a group that included current Jet Sharrod Neasman) with free agent newcomers Duron Harmon and Erik Harris the favorites to take over. Succeeding Ulbrich is Smith’s former Nashville comrade Dean Pees, who brings two Super Bowl rings with him.

How to Beat Them

-Deploy the Royal Air Force

The Falcons’ defensive revolution was necessitated by a garish effort in the secondary, as they surrendered an NFL-worst 293 yards through the air last season. They allowed at least 300 yards in nine games, going 2-7 in such contests…five of those losses were single possession games. Their attempts to shore things up when beyond Harmon and Harris: Atlanta used second (Richie Grant) and fourth-round (San Diego State blitzer Darren Hall) picks on secondary help and also added sizable man-to-man veteran Fabian Moreau after four seasons in Washington.

Harmon, a Rutgers alum who came over from Detroit, acknowledged that while there’s a positive outlook at the Falcons’ defensive future, it’s going to take some time to develop chemistry.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to take reps,” Harmon said in another report from Ledbetter. “Not just reps on the practice field, but reps in the film room. Reps at walk-throughs. Reps with us just getting together and talking ball. It’s going to take time.”

Zach Wilson thus has an early opportunity to air the ball out against a fledgling unit on a stage that all eyes of the football-loving nation(s) will be watching. If the Jets can take advantage of this opportunity, it can help Wilson and their own developing offense generate some early momentum in a nationally televised game.

-Melt Matty

It becomes a bit more difficult with the loss of Carl Lawson, but the Jets should oblige Ryan’s request to prove he still has enough in the tank. Despite several question marks surrounding the Dirty Birds, they’re capable of putting up big numbers of both the fantasy and physical scoreboards at a moment’s notice with the offensive firepower in tow.

With the Jets’ secondary likewise set to go through their own transitional period…especially with matchups against the weaponry of Carolina, Tennessee, and Atlanta on the docket in the early going…upping the pressure against a 36-year-old quarterback will be more important than ever. Over the past two seasons, Atlanta is 2-9 when Ryan is blitzed at least 15 times.

As anyone who attended that heartbreaker against Las Vegas can attest to, the Jets had no issues blitzing under Gregg Williams’ watch (ranking sixth in blitz rate). Even with Lawson done for the year, they have the personnel to raise the heat this time around. 2020 breakouts Quinnen Williams, Foley Fatukasi, and John Franklin-Myers are a year older and they’ll also have Sheldon Rankins and Shaq Lawson in tow as well.

Robert Saleh is used to making the most of a makeshift pass rush, posting respectable results when the dominant forces of the San Francisco front seven were obliterated by the injury bug. Making the aging Ryan uncomfortable will be vital if the Jets hope to bring a victorious souvenir back from London.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Three reasons why the New York Jets will be fine without Julio Jones

New York Giants, Julio Jones

Some were disappointed that the New York Jets removed themselves from the Jones sweepstakes, but adding the former Falcon wasn’t their fight.

Julio Jones will sing a new tune in the Music City. The accoladed receiver has shed his Atlanta Falcon wings and has moved on to Tennessee, where he joins a Titans squad already blessed with the offensive talents of Derrick Henry and AJ Brown. Thus ends a saga that ignited with a fateful phone call on live television by Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe.

In the aftermath, the eventual price for Jones has been hotly debated. Tennessee sent over two mid-round picks, one each over the next two drafts, the highest being a second-round choice in next year’s selections. It seems like a relatively low charge for one of the most accomplished receivers in recent NFL memory, one that gains some context when a hamstring injury suffered last season is taken into account.

Still, as Jones prepared to don Titans blue, fans of the 31 outliers are left with the lingering inquiry of “what if?” and “why not”?

At first glance, many New York Jets fans have every right to ask those questions. After all, if that was all it took for Jones to leave his Atlanta-based nest, the Jets could’ve spared the necessary parts to bring him in. They have an extra pick in both the first and second rounds of next year’s draft stemming from the Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold departures. One could even argue that adding Jamison Crowder (and getting back over $10 million in cap space with Jones) to the mix might’ve sweetened the deal.

But the Jets are more than capable of surviving the lack of Jones in their lives, as consolation lies all around them…

The Jones Privilege

Adding Jones has given the Titans the dreaded title of “offseason champions”, as amateurs and experts alike will probably list them as their Super Bowl champions. They likely inherit the title from the Arizona Cardinals, who were burdened with expectations after acquiring DeAndre Hopkins in a one-sided trade with Houston. Arizona began the year 6-3 but dropped five of their final seven in missing out on the playoff entirely.

Time will tell exactly how Tennessee handles the pressure, but it’s hard to be too cynical about their chances, at least on paper. The Titans are, after all, only two years removed from an appearance in the AFC title game and are coming off their first division title since 2008. They’re tied for the seventh-best record in the NFL over the last two seasons. During his unscheduled on-air conversation with Sharpe, Jones insisted he wanted to be dealt to a contender, ruling out Undisputed co-host Skip Bayless’ Dallas Cowboys…and, by process of elimination, the Jets.

Acquiring Jones is a first-world problem of sorts, a privilege bestowed to those who are the proverbial “one move away” from the Super Bowl. The Jets are a few moves away from merely fighting for a wild-card berth, never mind The Big Game. Even if they undoubtedly got better this offseason…if only because there was nowhere to go but up after the Adam Gase era…emerging from a crowded AFC pool packed to the brim with established contenders seems like a tall ask. There’s thus no use in taking the uncertainties of post-injury Jones, who turned 32 in February, not to mention the financial obligations that come with it (over a $63 million cap hit over the next three seasons).

No Co-Authorship

One of the primary focuses of this New York offseason has been establishing a new identity, leaving a signature on a new exhibit. Through the hiring of new head coach Robert Saleh, the Jets have managed to do that. The former San Francisco defensive coordinator’s mantra of “all gas, no brake” has already been quoted ad nauseam by Jets fans and Saleh’s entry has been complemented by the arrival of several touted entries who are looking to take the next steps in their respective careers (i.e. Zach Wilson, Corey Davis, and Sheldon Rankins, all of who were chosen in the first round of their respective drafts).

But if one brings Jones into the conversation, suddenly a new identity emerges. Through no fault of Jones, this latest, most hopeful iteration of the Jets’ rebuild gets boiled down to the “Julio Jones Era” and would’ve rendered a great deal of offseason work meaningless.

There’s no doubt that Jones is fully capable of responding to this challenge and will seek to silence any doubters, particularly his former employers that thought he was “only” worth a second-round choice at best. But the Jets are seeking to scribe their own NFL story and identity, as well as write a comeback story that’s a decade in the making. They don’t have the time or resources to worry about ghostwriting someone else’s.

Good Reception

Obviously, in a perfect world, the Jets snag Jones, and he, at the very least, provides some entertainment during another year of rebuilding where progress won’t always show up on the scoreboard.

But if this year is truly the latest stanza of a seemingly eternal rebuild, the Jets must do what they failed to work during last year’s nightmare: take advantage of a bittersweet and gift and turn things into a year of development.

Simply put, anyone who’s watched a minute of NFL football over the last decade knows what Jones is capable of. If this hamstring issue is the first step of the twilight of his career, it’s better for that discovery to be made on a contender rather than a team in desperate need of answers. Once it became clear that the Jets weren’t going to do anything in 2020, Gase and Co. had a prime opportunity to audition a rushing triumvirate of La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams. They instead decided to give Frank Gore a retirement tour, creating questions about the run game that lingered into the offseason.

The Jets have a group of receivers that, while talented, have yet to show they can handle the duties and burdens that comes with the status of a top target. Corey Davis worked behind Brown in Tennessee. Crowder has been a reliable slot option. There are high hopes for second-round brothers Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims. The receiving depth chart is packed to the brim with potential, but the Jets need more proven certainty to truly contend in the modern league. Rather than going with an option like Jones, who isn’t going to immediately shift the team’s fortunes in a lucrative direction, the Jets should instead focus on developing the attractive alternatives that are already in tow.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets: The case for (and against) Julio Jones

New York Giants, Julio Jones

Accoladed receiver Julio Jones wants out of Atlanta; should the New York Jets inquire for his services? ESM investigates…

Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones is ready to recolor his wings. A shade of green could well be in the cards.

Jones declared he was “out of” Atlanta during a candid, impromptu phone call shared by Fox Sports host Shannon Sharpe during Monday’s edition of Undisputed on FS1. There’s been no confirmation over whether Jones knew he was on air but, in perhaps an attempt to interrupt the rare lull on the NFL calendar, hypothetical trades involving the fantasy football godsend have resurfaced. Jones

The accoladed receiver’s de facto trade request serves to end his decade-long tenure in Atlanta. Several teams will undoubtedly embark on a full assault for his services and the crowded resume that comes with it.

Should the New York Jets be among them? ESM investigates…

For: Fantasy Football

Jones has been a staple of the early portions of fantasy football drafts for years. When’s the last time Jets fans were able to choose their favorite players with legitimate dreams of a fantasy title in mind. The last realistic options were probably Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker prior to the star-crossed 2015 campaign.

Now, the Jets shouldn’t base their entire lineup around who wins fantasy football championships; if that were the case, they might as well made a move for Derek Carr. But the fact they haven’t had any fantasy stars in recent years is rather telling about where they are as a franchise. Where are the reliable big play targets? Who does the rookie quarterback turn to in the clutch? Who will teams double cover on the last drive of the game?

This offseason, the Jets used the free agency process to stock up on weaponry for the new franchise quarterback, who turned out to be Zach Wilson. The current depth chart-toppers (Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Keelan Cole, and rookie Elijah Moore) are undoubtedly upgrades from last season, but they have yet to prove themselves as consistent, reliable top options. Bringing in Jones would make him one of the Jets’ top playmakers of the past decade, and he might not even have to play a single down to prove that. Plus, the confidence Wilson would have with Jones there to greet him could prove invaluable not only in 2021 but for years to come.

Against: Julio’s Woes

The sophomoric nature of the internet and social media have perhaps made the Jets unwilling to take risks or make high-profile moves. Any move they make is going to be accompanied by satirical scrutiny that’s threatens everything they’re trying to work with in the latest stage of their perpetual rebuild.

Jones, through almost entirely no fault of his own, is going to bring some baggage with him. He’s no doubt keen to stick it to a Falcons that has apparently given up on him, and the Jets do have a high-profile matchup with the Dirty Birds that apparently did him dirty (Atlanta will “host” the Jets in London in October). Jones is also trying to emerge from one of the NFL’s most unfair stigmas: returning from an injury. Hamstring issues limited him to nine games in 2020, but he still managed to tally a respectable 771 yards.

These factors make Jones a perfect candidate, perhaps even the favorite, for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award. Alas, that’s a quest the Jets truly can’t concern themselves with at this point. They have their own comeback/redemption story to write. It’s part of the reason Sam Darnold was let go. Sure, it was entirely possible that a green-clad Darnold could’ve benefitted from the coaching staff shake-up, but the Jets were at a point where they couldn’t base their immediate future on that “if”. The same could apply to Jones and his current endeavors.

For: They Can Help

Coming off three straight losing seasons (including a brutal 4-12 campaign that cost long-tenured Dan Quinn his job), the Falcons need a de facto bailout. As it stands, they’re currently of three teams with under $1 million in cap space (joining Chicago and New Orleans). Even so, they’re obviously going to want a decent return if they’re sending away one of the most prolific names in team history. Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports projects that any potential suitor would have to send at least a second-round pick.

The Jets have expendable assets to help the Falcons out. They own five picks in the first three rounds of next spring’s draft and could even include someone like Crowder (who becomes over $10 million in cap savings upon his departure). If the Falcons are going to trade Jones, something has to capture their fancy, make the deal truly worth their while. The Jets are one of the rare teams with both present and future assets Atlanta potentially covets.

Against: Anything But One Move Away

The Jets have improved by leaps and bounds this offseason, if only because there was little room to plummet further after 2020. Even so, making the playoffs is still going to be a tough ask. They’re trapped in a division with the defending AFC finalists and the other sections are packed with established contenders.

There’s no doubt that Jones can carry the load of a top receiver on a contender. He’s been part of a fairly consistent Atlanta team, but his prescience alone isn’t enough to secure a playoff berth. If he’s serious about moving, he’s likely going to choose a more established destination, not one where a majority of the starting lineup is undergoing a makeover.

Additionally, whoever trades for Jones is going to literally pay a hefty price. His 2021 cap hit exceeds $23 million, with $15 million guaranteed (per Over The Cap). The Jets are one of 11 teams that can handle Jones’ guaranteed salary with their current cap space, but there are other needs that need to be fulfilled before Week 1 kicks off. They’re in desperate need of a backup quarterback (preferably one that can double as a mentor for Wilson) and could certainly use another upgrade in their blocking and secondary areas. Jones, a 32-year-old due over $37 million over the next three seasons, is a luxurious acquisition that doesn’t fit the Jets’ current landscape.

The Verdict: Stay the Course 

If this was a year or two into the Robert Saleh era, adding Jones would be a lot more feasible. There would be time to showcase what Saleh and his staff are building, a few contests to develop momentum in what the Jets hope is their last extensive renovation for a long time.

Recent history suggests that maybe the Jets would be a bit better off in bypassing redemption-seeking superstars, at least for the time being. New York is still picking at the wounds left behind in the wake of the Le’Veon Bell era. The ghost of Bell shouldn’t haunt the Jets forever, but things are still a bit too fresh to justify and work through the growing pains of a superstar seeking to prove to himself and the football world that he’s still capable of an NFL workload.

If the Jets were on the cusp of the contention red zone, they would be right to go all out. But, right now, they’ve picked up a few first downs, but probably haven’t even reached midfield in the stadium of NFL fortune. If they were closer to the Super Bowl, investing a substantial sum into a 32-year-old receiver…one who has taken quite the pen to the NFL record books…would be a relative risk worth taking. But when progress would be possibly defined as an appearance in the “In the Hunt” column seen on the networks’ playoff charts come the holidays, adding Jones is not something you can do and would be an endeavor that would merely leave everyone bitter.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

How the NFL Draft shuffle affects the New York Jets

The New York Jets remained rooted in the second overall slot, but chaos erupted behind them on Friday. Where does that leave them?

Never mind the Super Bowl shuffle…the draft board boogie aired at full blast on Friday afternoon.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets respectively remain in the top two slots, but the landscape behind looks drastically different. At the cost of two future firsts, the San Francisco 49ers will now choose in the third slot. The Miami Dolphins, recipients of those Bay Area picks, dealt the No. 12 they gained to Philadelphia, officially situating themselves at sixth overall. 

How does this affect the Jets, still the ongoing holders of the No. 2 choice? ESM investigates…

No Way, Darnold

Many assume that the 49ers, like the Jets before them in 2018, are trading up to the third pick to select a quarterback. Trevor Lawrence remains the consensus top choice to Duval, while many believe the Jets will take BYU passer Zach Wilson after team brass attended his pro day on Friday.

Despite being firmly entrenched in the rookie passer discussion, San Francisco has no imminent plans to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. But this move more or less eliminates them from the Sam Darnold conversation. If the 49ers are apparently comfortable with a lingering quarterback controversy between Garopoolo and, say, Justin Fields, there’s no way they would add a third name to that list.

This week has been one of the roller-coaster variety for Darnold. Corey Davis mentioned that he was under the impression that Darnold would be his thrower come September in his first New York statements. But the New York prescience in Provo dictates that the Jets are still exploring other options. If the Jets are ready to officially close the book on Darold, likely only one potential destination remains: the Carolina Panthers. 

Tua Time

Miami owned the third pick through one of the earliest chapters of the downfall of the Houston Texans: the trade for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. After Friday, the Dolphins have essentially turned Tunsil (who fell to their grasp at 13th overall in 2018 after the bizarre social media hacking) into six first-round picks over the next three drafts.

But the cold truth is that draft quantity means nothing without quality, and major questions surround a high-profile choice in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5 in 2020).

While many have pegged the Dolphins as a surprise playoff team this season after winning ten games, questions hovered around their quarterback position, especially after the Ryan Fitzpatrick safety net went to Washington. Trading out of the third slot essentially says they’re not looking for a quarterback. Even with the sixth choice, the best passers, including FCS stud Trey Lance, will probably be gone. With Atlanta rounding out the top four and possibly looking to prepare for the post-Matt Ryan era, we well could see quarterback taken with the first four picks.

From a New York standpoint, the upgrades to their front seven through Vinny Curry and Sheldon Rankins look even wiser right now. It’s possible they could use their latte first-round choice (the Seattle pick at No. 23) to further shore up their edge game, though cornerback options have also been analyzed.

Would the Jets be willing to trade too?

San Francisco elevator ride up the draft board ensures that they can get one of the three or four most-talked-about passing names in the draft. Could that inspire other teams to give the Jets a call in an attempt to find further passing stability?

Carolina’s passing conundrum is anything but solved in the eighth choice, their current depth chart topped by Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker. Denver could be trying to put pressure on incumbent Drew Lock. Stifling the tough of such a deal is the fact that neither potential partner has much to offer in terms of future picks (the best in terms of a surplus amongst each of them is day three picks in 2021). Either way, this shift will possibly have other quarterback-hungry teams trying to work their way through, so Joe Douglas might have some extra calls to field as draft day in Cleveland approaches.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Jets add veteran RB Tevin Coleman: How does he fit?

New York Jets potential free agency target Tevin Coleman.

The Jets have added another playmaker on the offensive side of the football. Joining La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams in the backfield next season will be Tevin Coleman. Coleman joins the team on a one-year deal worth $2 million dollars. Coleman played for the Atlanta Falcons for four seasons before inking a deal with San Francisco just two years ago. Now, Coleman, after two seasons with the 49ers, reunites with Mike LaFleur in the Big Apple.

How Does Coleman Fit?

Tevin Coleman is going on 28 years old and joins a group of young backs. Coleman has started games in the past, most notably 14 in 2018. A season where Coleman also had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns. Coleman has had productive seasons in the past, and he joins an offense he has played and thrived in, in the past.

Coleman will be both a good veteran presence in a locker room of young backs by showing them how the system works, but he will also be a weapon on the field. Last season, in the Shanahan offense, Coleman was unable to get going with only 28 carries for 53 yards, totaling up only 1.9 yards per attempt.

Despite those career worsts last season, in his first season with San Fran, Coleman had 137 carries for 544 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also added 180 yards and 3 touchdowns, receiving on 21 receptions. That level of production is something the Jets hope he can get back to in this upcoming season. Ultimately, Coleman will not be a bell-cow back, but in a running back room that is relatively inexperienced, Coleman provides stability.

Not only that, but if the Jets do opt to draft another back into the fold as a bell cow, Coleman can be a great complementary back. Overall the addition is not going to be as headline-grabbing as a trade for a premier back or an attempt to sign someone along the lines of a Leonard Fournette or James Conner, but the move is a low-risk high reward add for Douglas as he looks to fill out the offense with more pieces after a disastrous 2020.

For Atlanta Falcons’ Johnathan Cyprien, Helping at Risk Youth is a Reward

Johnathan Cyprien

On the field, Atlanta Falcons’ Johnathan Cyprien is a strong safety and off the field, he is just as strong when it comes to donating his time!

Often times you can find Cyprien helping others, something it is clear he loves to do. Through his foundation the Cyp Squad At Risk Youth foundation, Cyprien has done some amazing work benefiting kids who are underprivileged.

When Cyprien had time off, he used it to spread joy to others by joining with a youth football league in Nashville.  He also hosts a free football camp for kids ages 7 to 17 and joins in on his teammate’s camps as well to help out and teach essential skills.  To benefit charity, Cyprien also hosted a Pro Bowl watch party complete with a fun meet and greet and awesome NFL memorabilia.

To inspire the Police Athletic League, Cyprien attended their charity golf event and surprised them with a signed jersey for their youth teaching center.  Knowing just how vital and pivotal education is, Cyprien read books to kids to help forge their love of learning.  His tremendous charitable work earned him the key to North Miami Beach.  When it came time for the annual Music City Bowl, he gifted kids of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America tickets to the event.  When back to school time comes, Cyprien provides backpacks filled with all of the necessary school supplies.  Cyprien has also sponsored and granted wishes for numerous kids in need, putting a smile on everyone involved faces.

When the Coronavirus pandemic struck, Cyprien posted a message of inspiration on Instagram saying that we must all stay safe, stay home, and stay strong.  Like he always does, he encouraged us to stay positive and make the best of it and better ourselves and others along the way, which is exactly what he did.  Knowing how difficult it is to get groceries at this time due to store policies, procedures, and safety measure and precautions as well as lack of availability, Cyprien decided to partner with Joshua’s Heart, which aims to eradicate food insecurity and alleviate poverty and hunger for those in need, to provide 400 families in the city of North Miami Beach, Florida.  A kind gesture like that can go a long way for those who need it most.  Cyprien also partnered with Camarbre, a lifestyle brand to sell masks with proceeds benefiting his foundation.  To purchase one go to https://www.camarbre.com/face-mask

Recently, Cyprien donned a shirt adorned with the powerful, yet simple words “Love Everybody”, a message we should all live by and enact in our daily lives! Johnathan Cyprien often proclaims “God blessed me, so I can bless others” and boy does he embody that mantra to the fullest!

5 NFL Teams that Could Surprise Fans This Season

New York Giants, Darius Slayton, Saquon Barkley

The Kansas City Chiefs won their first Superbowl in 50 years this past February. The team was lead to victory by their former MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes led the Chiefs to overcome a 10 point deficit in the fourth quarter of the game. While the Chiefs are expected to make another strong run for a championship title, there are a few teams that have had their potential flying quietly under the radar. Here are five teams that could surprise people with a strong season this fall. 

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons had a worrisome start to their 2019 season. Through their first eight games before their bye week, the team had only won one game. Atlanta had appeared to be heading for a top pick in the draft. Some fans had lost hope on the remainder of the season. However, after the bye week, the team came back with a new identity. The Falcons won six of their last eight games including wins against playoff-caliber teams such as the Saints and the 49ers. Atlanta finished their year on an impressive four-game winning streak, leaving their fans with high hopes for the next season. The team followed up their strong end of season performance by adding running back Todd Gurley in the offseason and drafting one of the classes best corners in A.J. Terrell out of Clemson. The Falcons improved on both sides of the ball and are definitely a team to look out for in 2020. 

Denver Broncos

Late last season the Broncos handed over their offense to their rookie quarterback Drew Lock. Denver drafted Lock in the second round last year and knew he would eventually take over as the teams starting QB. It wasn’t until Week 13 when Lock finally got his chance as the starter. Lock definitely didn’t disappoint as he performed very well and helped the team win four of their final five games since he took over. Denver continued to support Lock this offseason by adding more weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The team signed running back Melvin Gordon to play alongside running back Phillip Lindsay. The Broncos also added two more weapons on the outside. Denver drafted wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the first two rounds. Not only did the team add two fantastic receivers in the draft, but they already have Courtland Sutton who had a breakout season last fall. The team has set Drew Lock up for success after surrounding him with tons of talent. The ceiling is high for the Denver offense in 2020 as they’ll look to compete with the best of the best this year. 

New York Giants

The Giants made plenty of big moves this offseason, including major changes to their coaching staff. New York hired former Patriots special teams and wide receivers coach, Joe Judge to be the next head coach of the team. Judge has since come in and made significant changes to the teams coaching staff. He brought in former head coaches such as Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens to coach alongside him. Despite the team having a poor performance last season, there were some bright spots that displayed their potential. Last offseason the team drafted quarterback Daniel Jones sixth overall and the pick came with lots of controversies. Jones took over as the starter in the third week of the season replacing the franchise’s great Eli Manning. Jones performed well despite having trouble with turnovers. He displayed flashes of qualities of a franchise leading quarterback. The Giants added some key players in free agency such as cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez. New York continued their offseason by drafting one of the top offensive tackles in the draft in April. With a revamped defense and offensive line, the Giants will look to surprise people this season. 

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals made one of the biggest moves this offseason by trading for superstar wide our DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona fans were provided with much hope after watching their number one overall pick last April be named the NFL offensive rookie of the year. Kyler Murray provided a spark to the Cardinals offense that turned him into one of the most electric players in the league. However, the team did not stop after trading for a superstar. They followed it up with a fantastic draft. The team selected do-it-all player Isaiah Simmons from Clemson. Simmons was considered by many the most talented player in the entire draft. Arizona had been lucky enough for Simmons to still be on the board by the eighth overall pick and there was so chance the Cardinals would let him getaway. The team also took another top offensive tackle in Josh Jones in the third round of the draft. The Cardinals could quite possibly become a must-watch team this upcoming season. 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins struggled badly at the start of last season. It seemed for sure that the team would end up with the first overall pick and likely not win a game all season. However, head coach Brian Flores kept his team fighting as they put on impressive performances against competitive teams late in the year. Despite having such a young and inexperienced roster, Miami was able to win a couple of games including beating their rival Patriots on the road in December. Miami landed arguably the top free agent corner in Byron Jones, giving them possibly the best cornerback duo in the entire league. The Dolphins also drafted what they consider to be their future franchise quarterback in this April’s draft with the fifth overall pick. Dolphins fans are extremely excited about their future as they believe their rebuild has been executed perfectly so far. The Dolphins will definitely be a sleeper team to watch this fall.

New York Jets: Grades and Analysis Against the Atlanta Falcons

New York Jets, Luke Falk

The New York Jets come out of Atlanta with their first win of the preseason, and they showed a lot of promise across the board. Here is my analysis of the game and some team grades.

Sam Darnold is looking good

Sam Darnold is looking like the real deal. After completing 5 out of 7 passes for 46 yards, the Jets signal-caller looks like he has total command of the offense. Darnold showed grace under pressure by keeping himself composed while evading defenders in the pocket. Darnold also showed his ability to perfectly place the ball by throwing behind Robby Anderson on a go route and almost completing a beautiful dime on the move to Quincy Enunwa in the endzone.

If Darnold continues to show this kind of quality, then Jets will finally have the franchise QB they’ve been looking for, for the past 50 years.

Front seven is deadly

The New York Jets front seven has been dominant allowing 124 rushing yards combined in the first two preseason games. This unit has the potential to be good with C.J. Mosely operating the ship. Henry Anderson was lights out, putting a lot of pressure on Matt Ryan. Quinnen Williams was also showing up tonight being a disruptive force down the middle, specifically on third down.

The New York Jets have something special going on in the front seven. It’ll be up to the secondary to complete the defense and make it a top unit.

Secondary getting torched

The Jets secondary, specifically their cornerbacks, are getting manhandled every down. The secondary couldn’t stop a person with paraplegia if there were one on the field. To make matters worse, the football gods handed out their weekly slap to the face to Jet fans by injuring some of the no names in the already thin secondary. The Jets secondary situation is in DEFCON 1; Joe Douglas needs to make a move now if not, the results could be disastrous.

Still, don’t have a kicker

Taylor Bertolet is the only kicker on the Jets roster right now, and the Jets should seriously consider adding some competition. Bertolet wasn’t awful, but he also wasn’t that good. Bertolet had a rocky start after missing an extra point to start the game but redeemed himself by hitting a 49-yard field goal. Bertolet did have a small sample size tonight and should be given another shot, but I don’t think any Jet fan is comfortable with him being the only kicker on the roster.

Offensive Grade: B

The offense tonight was good all around no matter who was on the field. The biggest issue was the fact that O-line looked inconsistent throughout the whole game. Another issue I had was that the running game was nonexistent after Ty Montgomery left the field. Other than those two problems, I think they looked solid.

Defensive Grade: B-

This grade is most reflective on the front seven; however, as the game progressed, the secondary did look a little better. The New York Jets still have work to do on the defensive side of the ball, but tonight they looked alright.

Special Teams Grade: B

The only reason this grade isn’t an A or an A- is because of the missed extra points by Bertolet. Other than Bertolet’s mistakes, they were average group tonight.

Overall Grade: B

 

 

New York Jets: Preseason Preview Atlanta Falcons vs New York Jets

New York Jets

The New York Jets play the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night this week and it will be a critical moment for some players to showcase their talent on a roster that lacks depth. We’ll see the starters play about a quarter Thursday night and continue to show their potential. Some things to keep an eye on for this game will be the starters in the secondary, new kicker Taylor Bertolet and a couple young emerging receivers.

What will the secondary look like?

The New York Jets secondary has been decimated by injuries over the past week with Trumaine Johnson and Kyron Brown both falling to hamstring injuries. The starting cornerbacks for Thursday will most likely be Darryl Roberts and Arthur Maulet. The Jets are thin at corner after releasing Derrick Jones earlier this week. It’s gotten so bad that Jamal Adams has offered to play both corner and safety for the team. The Jets have a couple more weeks until the regular season but who knows how much longer they can go without having any depth at corner.

Give us more

Sam Darnold is like a drug, his presence on the field is so addictive to Jets fans that we can’t get enough. When Sam Darnold is on the field it feels like the past 50 years of incompetence and ineptitude get erased. Darnold is the savior of the team. On Thursday night Jet fans will get a bigger dose of Darnold in the new offense and we all can’t wait.

Who is Taylor Bertolet?

The New York Jets new kicker Taylor Bertolet was signed shortly after Chandler Catanzaro announced his retirement Sunday morning. Taylor Bertolet played for Texas A&M where he set the record for most PATs in a season. Bertolet was on the roster last preseason until he lost his position to Jason Meyers. As of right now, Bertolet is the only kicker on the roster, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Jets bring in an experienced veteran to compete with him.

Stars in the making?

New York Jets wide receivers Deontay Burnett and Greg Dortch both flashed potential against the Giants with the latter scoring a touchdown. Everyone knows Deontay Burnett from his time in USC acting as Sam Darnold’s safety blanket but not many know of Dortch. The rookie receiver from Wake Forest came onto the scene as being the potential replacement for kick returner after Andre Roberts left, but his string of good practices and games might land him a bigger role on offense. If both receivers continue to shine, the New York Jets will have a much deeper receiver room than previously thought.