Sunday, July 5, 2015, 10:30am
In his first year as the head coach in Washington, Jay Gruden figured he could coach the quarterbacks himself. Gruden was a college and arena football quarterback, and he wanted to take a hands-on approach to the most important position.
But after franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled last season, Gruden decided he needed an assistant who could spend all his time coaching the quarterbacks. So Gruden hired a full-time quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh. Gruden says he can already see that Griffin is benefiting from Cavanaugh’s presence.
“Now we have a set of eyes strictly on the quarterback, and I think that’s important,” Gruden said, via Richmond.com. “Every snap, every handoff, every dropback is being critiqued to make sure we do it the right way, and I think that’s been a big benefit for Robert.”
Cavanaugh spent 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback for the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles and Giants, and has spent 23 seasons as a quarterbacks coach, first at his alma mater the University of Pittsburgh, and then for the Cardinals, 49ers, Bears, Ravens and Jets. Griffin agrees that he’s benefiting from Cavanaugh’s knowledge, the story went on to say. Despite that, we have Griffin ranked 20th among our QBs and he isn't getting a lot of draft attention in ten team leagues. The potential is there, and if you're looking to grab a second QB late in your draft, Griffin should be there.
Royal got off to a fast start in his first year, catching 91 passes for 980 yards and five touchdowns while Jay Cutler was throwing for a career-high 4,526 yards en route to the only Pro Bowl appearance of his career.
It was the only year that the two men worked together, but both remember it fondly and Royal says they’re putting in the same work now that they did then to build the same chemistry.
Bears WR Marquess Wilson is still in the mix, even though Chicago drafted Kevin White No. 7 overall. Because White missed the final week of practice, Wilson received increased reps with the first and second teams. HC John Fox seems impressed by Wilson, who suffered a broken collarbone in training camp last year that derailed his sophomore season.
Bears WR Eddie Royal is a rare breed. He is smart and talented enough to do the dirty work on the underneath routes, but fast enough to catch a slant and take it to the house. It’s hard to remember the last time Chicago had such a versatile receiver on the roster.
Rookie receiver Kevin White was held out of the entire minicamp this week with what John Fox indicated was an undisclosed medical issue. The Bears coach, however, said he fully expects White on the field for the first training camp practice July 30.
"Kevin is doing a good job for us, picking up the offense," Cutler said. "He has a bright future."
An undisclosed injury kept White out of the Bears' minicamp practice Tuesday, coach John Fox indicated.
This raises a few eyebrows at 4for4 headquarters, but we still expect White to start opposite Alshon Jeffery. It's a reminder that rookies carry extra risk since their roles are not defined, especially early in the summer.
Although the sessions he missed were voluntary, his absence disappointed the Bears’ new regime, particularly because of the learning and team-building elements to coach John Fox’s first offseason in charge. Bennett is the only Bears player to miss the entire offseason program to this point.
After making his first Pro Bowl last season, Bennett made clear his desire for a new contract.
Bennett finished #5 in both PPR and standard formats last season, and although he’s playing for a new OC, Adam Gase, he should remain heavily involved in the offense. He’s not happy with his contract, which is a concern.
ESPN's Mike Sando:
Eddie Royal's resurgence over the past two seasons and his early grasp of the Bears' new offense has him in great position to play a prominent role right away. The staff seemed excited about him when I visited Bears camp earlier in the offseason. Royal has 10 red zone touchdowns over the past two seasons, tied for ninth in the league among wide receivers.
Royal could continue to be a headache for fantasy owners. He's production tends to be spotty and comes in bunches, which makes it difficult to know when to use him. There's also the possibility that he draws targets away from Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Martellus Bennett and/or Matt Forte.
“He’s a great player,” Jeffery said, rare praise for a rookie. “He’s an explosive player. We can’t wait for the season. What he’s going to do on the field is going to be great.”
White should start immediately and is a threat to post WR3 (or even WR2) numbers as a rookie. The team is installing a new offense under OC Adam Gase, and QB Jay Cutler hasn't been the model of stability, but there are plenty of targets available for White in Gase's offense.
A proper farewell tour for Malcom Floyd can now begin.
The Chargers wide receiver reaffirmed Tuesday he will retire after the 2015 season. This long has been the plan for Floyd, who will turn 34 in September and is entering the final year of his contract.
Stevie Johnson’s arrival may put a dent in Floyd’s targets (92 in 2014), but Johnson was brought in mainly to replace the departed Eddie Royal (91 targets), so Floyd should continue to post solid numbers. He was the 72nd receiver drafted last season and finished the season in the #40 spot. Don’t be surprised if he repeats those numbers, though due to his somewhat spotty big play tendencies, he’s better suited for best ball formats than standard leagues.
The team hit the halfway point in organized team activities with the veteran still not present.
“As I said before, this is voluntary,” Fox said after Wednesday’s session at Halas Hall. “That is not going to change for the rest of this offseason. You’ll have to ask him that. I just know we have a lot of guys working really hard to get better.”
What isn’t voluntary is the minicamp June 16-18. Does Fox expect Bennett to participate at the minicamp?
“Again, I can’t predict those intentions,” he said. “I would prefer him to be here. Right now, we’re putting all of our energy and focus on the guys who are.”
Bennett did not respond to a request for comment earlier this week.
Bennett finished #5 in both PPR and standard formats last season, and although he’s playing for a new OC, Adam Gase, he should remain heavily involved in the offense. His absence from OTAs is an indicator of his overall attitude towards his current contract. It's a minor concern, but from a fantasy standpoint we'd prefer it if Bennett were happy with his situation.
There's a chance that Justin Forsett's reception total of 44 last season could possibly double this season. At last week's organized team activity, Forsett was catching a handful of screen passes. On Wednesday, he was pulling in passes over the middle and in the flats.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said there has never been any talk of whether running backs will get increased chances as receivers and indicated that they've always been involved in the passing game whether it's checkdowns or play-action passes. "That will be a part of what we're doing," Harbaugh said. "It'll be a big part of it."
One of the mainstays of Marc Trestman's offense is getting the ball to his running backs in space. There have been seven instances where a running back has caught at least 69 passes in a season under Trestman: San Francisco's Derek Loville, Arizona's Larry Centers and Michael Pittman, Oakland's Charlie Garner (twice) and Chicago's Matt Forte (twice). In Trestman's two seasons in Chicago, Forte caught a total of 176 passes, which were 48 more than any other running back in the NFL.
"I'm excited about that -- being used more, going out wide or catching passes out of the backfield," Forsett said. "With Coach Trestman coming in, a lot of backs have had a lot of passes. Even in OTAs, I've been catching a lot of balls, so I make sure I am sharp on my routes and ready to be used that way as well."
This goes along with what we've been saying since the team hired Trestman -- Forsett is going to be very, very productive in PPR formats.
Forsett should see his PPR upside increase due to new OC Marc Trestman's tendency to use his running backs in the passing game. Under Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. However, the loss of OC Gary Kubiak is likely to hurt the Ravens’ running game. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he’ll likely hold more value in PPR formats than in standard formats in 2015.
A two-time Pro Bowl pick, he says he will report to training camp on time despite the team's refusal to extend his deal. Forte is entering the final season of a four-year contract he signed in 2012.
Forte has finished in the top 4 in both PPR and standard formats in the last two years, but his usage (especially in the passing game) was up under former OC Marc Trestman. He’s likely to see a drop in targets, but should still be good for 50-60 catches under new OC Adam Gase. Provided that the holdout doesn’t continue into the summer, Forte should deliver on his mid- to late-1st round ADP.
David Johnson, a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa, ranked 15th in FCS in 2014, posting 1,553 rushing yards while finding the end zone 17 times. He is expected to make a big contribution to the Cardinals offense this season, according to his position coach, Stump Mitchell.
"He's a guy who has a lot of confidence in his ability to play," Mitchell told Doug and Wolf Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's coachable. He's a smart young man, he's physical. He's going to make Andre (Ellington) pick up his game when given the opportunity.
"He has excellent hands and he's a bigger target to throw the ball to. He's going to be a big piece of the puzzle before this season is said and done."
Mitchell gushed about Johnson's physicality, citing his ability to run over people as well as run around them. He also conjured a comparison to one of the NFL's most productive backs over the last five years.
"He reminds me a lot of (Chicago RB) Matt Forte," Mitchell said. "You can put him outside and use him as a receiver and he's a good runner."
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Andre Ellington, and Johnson fits the bill. He does a lot of the same things as Ellington, so for now we're expecting that he'll serve in a backup capacity, but Mitchell sounds as if Johnson will play a larger role than a typical backup. We currently project him for around 147 touches.
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