Happy Summer Team Blitzed. My apologies for being away for so long. I missed everyone… except the Coach. I’m just kidding. I even missed him too! Congratulations are in order for the Rookie and the newest addition to Team Blitzed, his baby girl, Emma. I’m sure however, that Emma has been showing the Rookie some interesting blitz packages in her diaper at times that are most certainly not convenient for either parent. But keep up the good work, Rookie- we’re all pulling for you!
In other news, just a friendly reminder that you can find all our blogs at Blitedfootball.com/blogs now since we aren’t allowed to use the term NFL on anything anymore. I think we should send one of Blitzed Baby’s “gifts” to Roger Goodell to thank him for that!
Since it’s been a while since I’ve seen you all at Team Blitzed, I figured I would use my blog to catch up on all things that have happened since I’ve been gone. I haven’t written since free agency, the draft and OTAs have either happened or been completed so let’s take a look at what teams or players have been winning the offseason so far.
Barkeep's Offseason Studs
Kyler Murray (Cardinals)
What do you do when you get drafted 9th overall by the Oakland Athletics of the MLB and receive a signing bonus of $4.6 million? That’s right, you play your ass off at Oklahoma and win the Heisman Trophy, get drafted 1st overall (becoming the first person ever to be drafted in the top 10 in two major pro sports) by the Arizona Cardinals, make last year’s #10 pick get traded to Miami and then sign a fully guaranteed 4-year deal worth $35.1 million, which includes a $23.59 million signing bonus. Oh yeah, and immediately be installed as the team’s day one starter by a coach who has coveted you for years. Pretty sure Kyler Murray is the answer James Holzhauer would have said when Alex Trebek asked the question “Which player won the 2019 sports world off season?” on Jeopardy before his luck ran out.
In 2018, the Raiders traded away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper (both former first round picks), fired GM Reggie McKenzie, continued to have stadium issues in the midst of a planned move to Las Vegas, were riddled with injuries while limping to a 4-12 record and were the first team officially eliminated from the playoffs in the AFC. Additionally, coach Jon Gruden’s game planning and personnel moves were being questioned on a weekly basis.
Turn the clocks forward to 2019. The former first rounders they traded away netted them 3 first round picks in return that they turned into Clelin Ferrel, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abraham. All three should be week one starters this season. The Raiders also acquired the much-maligned Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers for next to nothing (see the 3 first-round picks above as evidence of not giving up much for AB), signed a hopefully-still-effective (albeit certifiably insane) OL in Richie Incognito and picked up Vontaze Burfict. At the very least, the Oakland Raiders final season in the Coliseum should see them improve on the 4-12 record if all those personalities can fit into one locker room. That’s a big IF, but they certain did a nice job acquiring enough talent to surround David Carr with to succeed. Fortunately we will get to see it all first hand thanks to HBO’s Hard Knocks series this summer.
2018 QB Draft Picks
The 2018 QB draft class may rival the ’83 draft class as one of the best in NFL history. The 2019 off-season saw each of the first round QB’s team’s build their respective teams around them in order to help them succeed.
Baker Mayfield (Browns)
He got a bonafide stud WR in Odell Beckham Jr. and continued to shore up an already decent defense by drafting Greedy Williams, Sione Takitaki and signing Sheldon Richardson. Mayfield knows he doesn’t have to win games on his own.
Sam Darnold (Jets)
He got a new ‘QB guru’ coach in Adam Gase, got a new backfield battery mate that teams have to game plan for in Le’Veon Bell (he also doubles as an excellent receiver out of the backfield too) and an underrated WR in Jamison Crowder (if he can stay healthy). They also revamped their defense in hopes that Darnold will have the same ‘good problem’ that Mayfield has in that he won’t have to win games on his own. The one glaring weakness the Jets failed to address is that OL and that may hinder Darnold’s progress come the 2019 season.
Josh Rosen (Dolphins)
He was booted out of AZ for this year’s top draft pick (see: Murray, Kyler above) but this Barkeep thinks he’s in a better situation in Miami where he’s wanted and the team can do a full rebuild around his skill set. The only problem I see is - does he get booted out of Miami again next year when Tua Tagovailoa becomes the top draft pick in the 2020 draft? Rosen needs to prove he’s the man for the job in Miami or he may get shipped out again.
Josh Allen (Bills)
2018’s 7th overall pick was given a ton of support by the Buffalo Bills this offseason. They signed two WR in John “Smokey” Brown (to extend the field with his blazing speed) and Cole Beasley (to be a security blanket out of the slot). They drafted Dawson Knox to give him another weapon out of the TE spot. They signed Mitch Morse, Quinten Spain, La’Adrian Waddle, Ty Neshke, John Feliciano for the OL as well as drafted Cody Ford out of Oklahoma to revamp the league’s worst OL from a year ago so Allen no longer has to run for his life. If Allen reaches his full potential, Buffalo will be a sleeper team to watch as soon as this year.
Lamar Jackson (Ravens)
Lamar gets a new running back in Mark Ingram, two new WR in rookies Hollywood Brown and Miles Boykin and a returning OL that was good last year for Jackson who went 6-1 down the stretch to help Baltimore win the AFC North. The question surrounding Jackson has always been, can he develop as a passer in the NFL? Having two rookie WR will be tough as that is the most difficult position to acclimate to in the NFL so the jury is out on how year two will go for Mr. Jackson. Either way, Baltimore did what they could to surround him with talent.
So while the guys and teams above were busy improving their teams this summer, I figured I would help you improve your summers with some drinks you could toss back while you wait for the NFL season to start. I know I’m patiently waiting for that first game in August to start, even if it is only a meaningless pre-season game. It’s still football.
That being said, welcome to the first of my summer cocktails. This week I’m having the guys drink a Strawberry Whiskey Smash. It’s a refreshingly potent drink that’s great for sitting outside on the back porch with friends, enjoying the evening while tossing back a few delicious drinks. Knowing the guys love for whiskey, I decided to start my summer drink series off with a whiskey inspired libation. Gentlemen, enjoy this kick off to summer. Please drink responsibly. That’s right - I’m looking at you Stats Guy.
Strawberry Whiskey Smash
3 Medium to large strawberries
4-6 mint leaves
1.5 oz fresh lemon juice
1.5 oz simple syrup
3 oz Jameson
Club Soda (optional)
Blitzed Barkeep Build: Add strawberries, mint leaves simple syrup and lemon juice to a shaker bottle. Muddle together well. Pour in Jameson and shake well. Add rocks to a rocks glass and pour contents of shaker bottle over rocks. Garnish with lemon wedge or strawberry wedge. Top with club soda if necessary (optional).
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Tune in to the Blitzed NFL podcast this Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week and talk all things off-season football. I’ll be back sooner than later with more of my off-season NFL.