Browse Month by February 2017
Jacksonville Jaguars

The Green Bay Packers are perhaps the most mythologized team in sports.

Bruce Arians’ offensive system is typically balanced, and that has proven true this season. After three games, Cardinals quarterbacks, plus Ted Ginn, have attempted exactly 100 passes. They’ve been sacked six times and scrambled/rushed 12 times. So, let’s just say, Arians has called 118 passes. He’s called 99 runs. That’s an incredibly balanced attack in the NFL these days, and it’s working. As a whole, they haven’t been world beaters in any particular category, but what they have done is utilized their weapons effectively.

That seems so simple, doesn’t it? Like, you’ve got these great players, so you should use them to make great plays — easy! Only, for whatever annoying reason, this isn’t Madden, and not all teams seem to do this. I think Arizona has.

The Green Bay Packers are perhaps the most mythologized team in sports. Their fans own the team, their stadium is a celebrated combination of history and modern amenity, and the team has won more championships than any other in the NFL. However, they are perhaps most famous for their scoring tradition, the Lambeau Leap. The Leap was born in 1993 when a Reggie White fumble recovery was lateralled to LeRoy Butler, who took it in for the score and jumped into the crowd.

One of the stranger traditions in the NFL, the Hogettes are a collection of cross dressers who appeared at Washington home games and raised money for charity. Their name and suinae image come from The Hogs, the impenetrable offensive line of the 1980s Skins teams that won multiple Super Bowls. While the Hogettes retired in 2012, they earned $100 million for the Children’s Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House, and March of Dimes.

The New York Jets are hardly the only team to spell out its name in a chant. Half the Big Ten has its own spin on this very same idea. However, the Jets fandom cannot be severed from the image of Fireman Ed inciting the stadium-wide cheer. Though he no longer performs at games, the chant lives on.

Jacksonville Jaguars

How the Tribe are refueling after grueling postseason

If ever a group of pitchers deserved to spend the offseason in full-fledged pamper mode — lolling on a white sand beach with coolers of frozen margaritas within easy reach — it was the 2016 Cleveland Indians’ staff.

When we last saw the Tribe, Corey Kluber was taking his workhorse reputation to another level, throwing 34? postseason innings and making three starts on short rest before his needle hit empty in World Series Game 7. At the back end of the bullpen, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen were so dominant in high-leverage situations that they spurred talk of a relief usage “revolution.”

The trainers’ room was also rife with intrigue. While Carlos Carrasco missed all of October with a fractured right pinkie finger, Danny Salazar was limited to a World Series bullpen cameo because of a forearm strain. And who can forget Trevor Bauer spewing blood on the Rogers Centre mound with a gashed right pinkie caused by a confrontation with a drone?

Three and a half months later, the Indians have reassembled in Arizona and pronounced themselves ready to go. The aches have dissipated, the fatigue has subsided and they’re intent on doing everything in their power to avoid the dreaded “October hangover.”

While happy their team won, the Wrigley faithful have high hopes for the season ahead. Fans expect the Cubs will remain among the elite teams.

“We have the money, we have the young players, and we have the manager,” another fan, Casey, said near the batting cage. “Why shouldn’t this continue?”

Manager Joe Maddon knows that achieving success is the best way to gain confidence. His players have been there before, so there’s a natural feeling that it can happen again.

Tennessee Titans

Devin McCourty ready if Patriots use franchise tag

One of the biggest questions for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots heading into the offseason is the future of their secondary. While cornerback Darrelle Revis and his $25 million cap hit for 2015 have dominated the headlines in Boston this month, the more significant decision might be whether the Patriots try to retain safety Devin McCourty, who is set to hit free agency in March.

McCourty is the most likely candidate on the Patriots to get the franchise tag (Revis’ contract does not allow it), which is expected to be roughly $9.6 million for safeties next season. New England could tag McCourty in order to give the team more time to negotiate a long-term contract with his agent, or the 27-year-old could play out the 2015 season at the franchise tag number. Teams have until March 2 to use their franchise tag.

Douglas was primarily a third option to Julio Jones and Roddy White throughout career with Atlanta. Douglas had a career-year in 2013 when he stepped up in the absence of Jones, catching 85 passes for 1,067 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Outside of missing all of 2009 with a knee injury, Douglas has proven durable by missing just five other games during his career.

The Miami Dolphins also made news Friday morning, releasing veteran receiver Brian Hartline, according to Alex Marvez. Hartline, 28, had a poor year in 2014 after enjoying consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns the two years prior, catching 39 passes for 474 yards.

By cutting Hartline, the Dolphins save $3.1 million in cap space but also take on $4.2 million in dead money for the 2015 season. Miami enjoyed the emergence of rookie receiver Jarvis Landry last year across from Mike Wallace, perhaps making Hartline expandable. The Dolphins now have an estimated $9 million in cap space.