Thursday, January 26, 2023

Tyler Linderbaum named to PFWA All-Rookie team


Kyle Hamilton, Tyler Linderbaum named to PFWA All-Rookie team

Both of the Ravens first-round picks performed at the top of their class


Ravens’ safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum were both named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s 2022-2023 All-Rookie teamThe Ravens were one of seven teams with multiple All-Rookie selections. Both of the Ravens’ first round picks being named to the All-Rookie team is quite an accomplishment to general manager Eric DeCosta, the Ravens personnel and scouting departments, as well as the coaching staff.\

Hamilton, the 14th overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, finished the season with 62 tackles, four tackles for loss, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two sacks. Hamilton excelled once he took over nickel duty in Week 8, where he played at least 16 snaps in every game for the remainder of the season. Hamilton proved to be a physical presence in the slot underneath who excelled in the run game as well as in simulated pressures, delayed blitzes and bluffing to drop back into coverage. An excellent tight end matchup weapon, Hamilton saved his best for last with a dominant performance in the Wild Card round against the Cincinnati Bengals, including a forced fumble that caused a takeaway and led to a go-ahead Ravens field goal.

Linderbaum, the 25th selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, excelled in the run game with excellent quickness and hand-placement. He had impact blocks in key games down the stretch for the Ravens, while proving to be a high-IQ, scrappy pass protector who will look to develop his technique further in pass-pro heading into next season. Linderbaum allowed three sacks on the season and finished with the sixth highest PFF grade among centers.

Hamilton and Linderbaum are just 21 and 22 years old respectively. Hamilton, who declared for the NFL Draft as a true Junior has already displayed the physicality and athleticism required to compete at the highest level. Linderbaum, who played over 1,000 snaps for the Ravens, looks every part of a player who can lock down one of the Ravens most tumultuous positions over the last decade. Prior to Linderbaum, here are the players who have taken the most snaps at center by year since Matt Birk following the 2012-2013 season.

  1. 2021: Bradley Bozeman (1,125)
  2. 2020: Matt Skura (620), Patrick Mekari (280)
  3. 2019: Matt Skura (716), Patrick Mekari (288), Trystan Colon-Castillo (127)
  4. 2018: Matt Skura (1,188)
  5. 2017: Ryan Jensen (1,085)
  6. 2016: Jeremy Zuttah (1,109)
  7. 2015: Jeremy Zuttah (610), John Urschel (525)
  8. 2014: Jeremy Zuttah (1,075)
  9. 2013 Gino Gradkowski (1,148)

In the last nine seasons, the Ravens have had seven different centers play at least 250 snaps in the regular season. Any offensive linemen or offensive line coach will preach the value of continuity. Last offseason, Eric DeCosta vowed to build a wall in front of Lamar Jackson. Linderbaum was an integral part in doing so and looks like he bring stability to the pivot for years to come in Baltimore.

The Ravens appear to have hit a home run with each of their first round draft picks in 2022.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Ben Niemann: Top Four Highest Rated by PFF


Topics include the No. 3 pick, Hopkins and player input on a coach

Jan 17, 2023 at 09:33 AM

Darren Urban



From Glenny Irwind:


"Hey you didn't do a snap counts or grades article for the 49ers game. What's happs? Also, I have suggested before, but I don't think there's anything wrong with including negative grades from the game too. It's all subjective anyways right? Players famously hate PFF. So if the negative grades mean nothing, than so do the positive grades."


Given the circumstances of the day after, going through that process didn't seem like it made sense to me especially with the number of top players who weren't playing. The top grades in that final game on offense were G Will Hernandez (83.1), WR A.J. Green (81.1), TE Trey McBride (69.9), T Josh Jones (65.6) and WR Greg Dortch (64.1). On defense it was LB Dennis Gardeck (88.0), CB Jace Whittaker (74.3), DE J.J. Watt (73.6), S Josh Thomas (72.3) and LB Ezekiel Turner (67.5).


For the season, the top offensive grades (I'm saying at least 120 snaps) were Jones (75.8), WR DeAndre Hopkins (72.9), T D.J. Humphries (72.3), T Kelvin Beachum (70.6) and RB James Conner (69.7). Lowest were TE Stephen Anderson (33.9), QB Trace McSorley (36.4), G Cody Ford (41.2), C Sean Harlow (43.2) and G Lecitus Smith (44.8).


On defense, it was S Budda Baker (74.5), DL Zach Allen (72.7), LB Cam Thomas (69.9), LB Ben Niemann (69.0), CB Antonio Hamilton (68.5) and Watt (68.3). Low were DT Leki Fotu (32.4), DL Michael Dogbe (34.8), LB Tanner Vallejo (41.1), LB Jonathan Ledbetter (43.4) and Whittaker (46.3).

Monday, January 16, 2023

T.J. Hockenson’s epic game vs. Giants reaches heights not even Randy Moss could touch


Published January 15, 2023 at 8:11 PM EST

By Steve Silverman

The Minnesota Vikings have been an explosive offensive team all season, and they have gotten a huge boost from tight end T.J. Hockenson since acquiring him in a midseason trade with the Detroit Lions.

He continued his impressive string of performances in the Wild Card game against the New York Giants.

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 16, 2023

Hockenson caught 10 passes for 129 yards in the Giants 31-24 victory over the Vikings. Hockenson is the first Viking receiver to exceed the 100-yard receiving mark in his playoff debut. No Vikings player had even reached the 80-yard mark in his first playoff game — including Hall of Famer Randy Moss.

The record has to be cold comfort for Hockenson, as the Vikings saw their season come to an end on their home field. Prior to the defeat, the Vikings has been 11-0 in one-score games.

The Vikings got the ball back with 2:56 remaining in the 4th quarter at their own 12-yard line but they did not have a time out as they trailed by 7 points. After advancing to their own 48-yard line, the Vikings needed to convert a 4th-and-8 play with 1:44 remaining to keep the drive alive.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins threw the ball to Hockenson, but the pass was just a 3-yard toss, and New York’s Xavier McKinney was able to tackle him and stop the drive.

The Giants were able to run out the clock and they will face the division rival Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional playoffs.

While New York struggled to a degree on defense and could not contain T.J. Hockenson, the Giants made big plays on offense. Quarterback Daniel Jones threw for 301 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also ran for 78 yards.

Former Iowa Hawkeye center Tyler Linderbaum named to Pro Football Focus' 2022 NFL All-Rookie Team


Riley Donald 

Tyler Linderbaum had quite the career as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes during his tenure in black and gold. The colors have changed a bit to black and purple as a member of the Baltimore Ravens but the success has not wavered one bit.

The former Hawkeye who was taken in the first round of the NFL draft last year has made his presence felt in fortifying the Ravens in the trenches on offense. His ability to command the line and handle his own has earned him a spot on Pro Football Focus’ 2022 NFL All-Rookie Team.

Linderbaum is already nothing short of an elite run-blocking center.


While his 26 pressures allowed in pass protection is a bit high, what Linderbaum can do at the second level in the run game is special. The Ravens got a future Pro Bowler, if not All-Pro.


– Renner, Pro Football Focus

Linderbaum’s season year at Iowa in 2021 saw him named the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year, the winner of the Rimington Trophy, and a unanimous All-American selection. His career in the NFL is already off to a similar start and appears that his upward trajectory of success is only just beginning.

The Ravens take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card matchup this Sunday evening at 7:15 p.m. CT in primetime on NBC as Linderbaum gets his first taste of the NFL postseason.

Peter King FMIA Coach of the Week: Phil Rauscher


By Peter King
January 16, 2023

Coach of the week

Phil Rauscher, offensive line coach, Jacksonville. This 37-year-old O-line coach had a major hand in the Jags’ win over the Chargers Saturday night, as coach Doug Pederson told me. It was Rauscher who came up with the idea for the three backs stationed behind Trevor Lawrence on fourth-and-18-inches from the Chargers’ 41-yard line with 1:27 to play. While the Jags took a timeout and decided to change the call to the Rauscher play, the Chargers undoubtedly wondered if the Jags would simply try to sneak Trevor Lawrence, or have him dive with the ball up in the air, a la Brady, to get forward progress for a first down. The Chargers clearly didn’t count on Travis Etienne’s speed around the edge. He took the ball from Lawrence as the Chargers clogged the line and sprinted around the right end for 25 yards to the L.A. 15-yard line, needing only a field goal to win. Great call by Doug Pederson; great play design by Rauscher.


Friday, January 13, 2023

T.J. Hockenson


Dawson receives 2023 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award


01.12.2023 | Football

Former Texas All-American kicker Phil Dawson honored with the award that recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their collegiate careers.


SAN ANTONIO – Former Texas All-American kicker Phil Dawson has honored with the 2023 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award at the NCAA Honor's Celebration on Wednesday night.

The Silver Anniversary Award annually recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletics careers. Representatives of NCAA member schools and conferences, along with a panel of former student-athletes, select each year's recipients. Six former college athletes received the award during the NCAA Convention.

A member of the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor Class of 2012, Dawson was a four-year starter at Texas from 1994-97. He was a two-time All-American, who earned first-team honors as a junior in 1996, and honorable mention as a sophomore in 1995, while also twice being named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best kicker.

A 1997 team captain, Dawson garnered all-conference recognition all four years at Texas, including first-team honors in the Big 12 in 1996, and in the Southwest Conference in 1994. In that span, he helped lead the Longhorns to three conference titles, including the first-ever Big 12 Championship in 1996 and the final SWC Championship in 1995.

Dawson finished his collegiate career with 13 UT records, including all-time marks for scoring (339), field goals (59) and field goal accuracy (74.7%). His scoring total ranked 16th on the NCAA all-time list and 12th among kickers. He set UT records by hitting 15-straight field goals (1996-97) and 54-straight extra points (1994-95), while also establishing a UT record by making six-straight field goals from 50 or more yards from 1995-97.

A 1998 graduate of UT with a degree in political science, Dawson was a first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection in 1997.

After his career at Texas, his determination and resiliency were tested as he pursued an NFL career. He signed as undrafted free agent with the Oakland Raiders following the 1998 NFL draft, was waived, and then picked up by the New England Patriots and placed on the practice squad. He eventually signed as free agent with the Cleveland Browns in 1999, going on to spend more than two decades in the NFL and become one of the most consistent kickers in league history. He spent 14 seasons in Cleveland and four more with the San Francisco 49ers before finishing his career with the Arizona Cardinals for two seasons.

During his 21-year NFL career that included 20 as a starting placekicker, Dawson was a perennial team captain until his retirement in 2019. He played in 305 career NFL games (currently eighth-most in league history) and ranks eighth in field goals made (441) and 12th in points scored (1,847). He is among the NFL's top all-time field goal percentage kickers despite spending most of his time in challenging weather conditions in Cleveland, connecting on 441-of-526 attempts (83.8%), with a long of 57 yards.

Dawson broke legendary NFL kicker Lou Groza's all-time Browns made field goal record with 305 during his time in Cleveland and ranks second only to Groza on the team all-time scoring list with 1,271 points. He still owns Browns' records for most consecutive field goals made (27) and most field goals in a game (six).

Throughout his time with the Browns, he was a not only a star, but a prominent face and representative of the franchise. He was voted the 2012 Browns Player of the Year by the local Professional Football Writers Association (PFWA) chapter and concluded his overall career by signing a one-day contract for a celebratory retirement with Cleveland in 2019.

Among the many accolades of his career, Dawson earned second-team All-Pro honors twice (2007 and 2012) and a spot on the Pro Bowl roster in 2012. He earned AFC or NFC Player of the Week honors eight times and was tabbed the 49ers Bill Walsh Award winner as the team MVP after making 24-of-27 field-goal attempts in 2016.

Following his playing days, Dawson has gone on to a successful career in coaching. He first became the special teams coordinator at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville in 2020-21, and is now in his first year as head coach and assistant athletics director at Hyde Park Schools in Austin where he began in January 2022.

At all of his stops along the way, Dawson has maintained deep ties to civic and community involvement. At Texas, he was active in the community and as a member of the UT and national collegiate Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) program, regularly sharing his story and message with local and regional church groups and organizations.

Dawson has been active in every NFL community he's played in, but particularly Cleveland where he founded the "Dawson's 4 Adoption" season ticket program which provided tickets, apparel and food for the Adoption Network Cleveland organization. He was tabbed the 2006 Ed Block Courage Award winner by his teammates (Cleveland Touchdown Club) and the 2006 winner of the Doug Dieken Humanitarian Award for his charitable and community efforts, recognized by the Cleveland Touchdown Club. The following year, he was voted the 2007 Dino Lucarelli "Good Guy" Award honoree by the local Cleveland PFWA.

His wife, Shannon, is an accomplished singer who has sung the National Anthem prior to Browns' home games, toured with Wayne Newton from 1992-94 and sang at George W. Bush's Inauguration after he was elected Governor of Texas in 1994. They have two sons, Dru and Beau, and a daughter, Sophiann.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Commanders Ex Brandon Scherff Leads Jaguars to AFC South Title - NFL Tracker


Follow along with Commander Country as we keep you up to date with all firings, hirings, and breaking news in the NFL.


17 HOURS AGO (January 7, 2023)


JAN 7 SCHERFF, JAGS MAKE PLAYOFFS The Washington Commanders may not be in the playoffs this year, but a familiar face will be.

After the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans Saturday night, offensive lineman Brandon Scherff punched his ticket to the playoffs. He started every game for the Jaguars this season.

Scherff played for Washington from 2015-21, and now makes his third playoff appearance.


Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Highly regarded Matt Guerrieri has agreed to become Tulsa’s defensive coordinator


Sources: Kevin Wilson bringing highly regarded Ohio State staffer to run Tulsa defense

Matt Guerrieri had a long run at Duke, reunited in 2022 at Ohio State with Jim Knowles


Back as a head coach for the first time in six years, Kevin Wilson is working to assemble a strong first staff at Tulsa, and he's got his defensive coordinator in a key move.

Multiple sources tell FootballScoop that Matt Guerrieri has agreed to become Wilson's first defensive coordinator for the Golden Hurricane.

It's a quick return to play-calling duties for Guerrieri, who spent the 2022 season as a senior defensive analyst for Jim Knowles's Ohio State defense after Guerrieri's final four years at Duke saw him as the Blue Devils' co-defensive coordinator.

An Ohio native who starred in college at Football Championship Subdivision program Davidson, Guerrieri turned in elite work at Duke, where he was an AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year finalist for his work with the Blue Devils' defense in 2020.

Wilson and Guerrieri were colleagues the past year at Ohio State, and sources told FootballScoop that Guerrieri had made an immediate impression on Wilson -- and the entire Buckeyes' staff.

Tulsa parted with Philip Montgomery following a 5-7 2022 season. Wilson previously served as head coach six seasons at Indiana University, where Wilson gradually carved a competitive program that made back-to-back postseason appearances in Wilson's final two seasons at the helm.

Wilson is set to be greeted with a daunting non-conference schedule in 2023; the Golden Hurricane open with FCS-program Arkansas-Pine Bluff and also has a September home date against soon-to-be-SEC-resident Oklahoma, as well as non-conference road trips to Washington and Northern Illinois all within the season's first month.

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Kirk Ferentz ties Joe Paterno for the most bowl wins all-time by a Big Ten coach


Josh Helmer 

Kirk Ferentz’s legendary run at Iowa just got a little more distinguished. With the Hawkeyes’ defensive masterclass over Kentucky, Ferentz now has 10 bowl wins in his career.

Ferentz’s 10 bowl wins ties him with late Penn State head coach Joe Paterno for the most bowl wins as a member of the Big Ten conference all-time. Iowa’s 24-year head coach improved his mark in bowl games to 10-9 and became the 19th coach to win 10 or more bowl games throughout their career.

“Just really happy for our guys. Especially our seniors. What a way to send them off. It’s been a great group, and I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done. Each and every one of these guys has really embodied what it means to be a Hawkeye,” Ferentz said afterwards.

The fact that Xavier Nwankpa and Cooper DeJean each had pick-sixes for the Hawkeyes felt like a fitting finish to a 2022 season highlighted by perhaps the greatest defense in the program’s history.

“Yeah, huge. We knew what we were up against. In some ways both of us were looking in the mirror a little bit. Stronger more veteran on defense, both teams. For us, playing clean football offensively is a starting point. I was confident Joe could do some things and get some things going.

“Defensively, certainly that was going to be paramount, and we’ve ridden that all season long. You never count on the touchdowns, but the field position part,” Ferentz said of Nwankpa and DeJean’s defensive scores.

Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops probably described it best.

“I think Iowa won today by being Iowa, and credit them. I say that with a compliment,” Stoops said.

Iowa finished the TransPerfect Music City Bowl a perfectly imperfect 0-for-11 on third-down conversion tries. The Hawkeyes were also 0-for-2 on fourth-down conversion tries.

Again, given the way the 2022 season unfolded, it was sort of the perfect finish. At any rate, congratulations to coach Ferentz on guiding this team to the Music City Bowl and for finding a way to lean on the defense one final time to pick up a milestone bowl victory.

Here’s the list of Ferentz’s other bowl wins during his run at Iowa:

  1.       2001 Alamo Bowl: Iowa 19, Texas Tech 16
  2. 2004 Outback Bowl: Iowa 37, Florida 17
  3. 2005 Capital One Bowl: Iowa 30, LSU 25
  4. 2009 Outback Bowl: Iowa 31, South Carolina 10
  5. 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl: Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14
  6. 2010 Insight Bowl: Iowa 27, Missouri 24
  7. 2017 New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa 27, Boston College 20
  8. 2019 Outback Bowl: Iowa 27, Mississippi State 22
  9. 2019 Holiday Bowl: Iowa 49, USC 24

Vikings' in-season trade for T.J. Hockenson could be one for the ages

Dec 30, 2022

Kevin Seifert | ESPN Staff Writer


EAGAN, Minn. -- As they have gotten to know each other this year, the Minnesota Vikings' first-year brain trust -- general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell -- has held regular discussions about all aspects of the operation. At one point this fall, the conversation turned to tight ends. O'Connell loved the position so much that Adofo-Mensah felt compelled to initiate an independent film study to see what he was missing.


One of the players Adofo-Mensah examined was T.J. Hockenson, then of the Detroit Lions. O'Connell had spoken generally about the ways a dynamic tight end could produce in his scheme, particularly with defenses chasing receiver Justin Jefferson all over the field. Third downs, red zone and 2-minute situations would be particularly advantageous situations, O'Connell believed. Adofo-Mensah was soon convinced, and on November 1, he pulled off the most impactful in-season NFL trade of 2022 by acquiring Hockenson in exchange for moving lower in one round of both the 2023 and 2024 drafts.


"Tight end is something that honestly [O'Connell] has taught me a lot about in the past couple months or so," Adofo-Mensah said at the time. "... When you try to evaluate that position, sometimes you'll get enamored by how receivers win [compared to tight ends] and it's just a different position. I had actually [studied] T.J. more recently and updated those things and coincidentally he ended up here."

Adofo-Mensah had entered the season with a relatively thin tight end position, hoping largely for a full and productive return from veteran Irv Smith Jr., who missed 2021 because of a knee injury. But Smith's injury issues continued, and Hockenson's immediate performance in O'Connell's scheme has been eye-opening. He established an instant connection with quarterback Kirk Cousins, capitalized on almost all of the available schematic opportunities and became the NFL's most productive tight end -- aside from Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce -- since arriving in time for the Vikings' Week 9 game at Washington.



Top 5 Tights Ends By Yards Since Week 9









Travis Kelce







T.J. Hockenson







George Kittle







Evan Engram







Dawson Knox








Hockenson's individual play has not been as flashy as Kelce or even the San Francisco 49ersGeorge Kittle, but his impact compares favorably with some of the most consequential in-season trades in recent league history, a list that includes the Dallas Cowboys' acquisition of receiver Amari Cooper in 2018 and the Seattle Seahawks' deal for running back Marshawn Lynch in 2010.


"It really has been a whirlwind," Hockenson said after setting a team record Saturday for catches by a tight end in a game (13) in the Vikings' 27-24 victory over the New York Giants. "I don't think I'm going to really recognize where I'm at and what I've been doing and what this team is doing until after the season."


Whenever he chooses to look back, the numbers will be clear. In eight games since joining the Vikings, Hockenson has caught more passes (52) and played more snaps (490) than any tight end in the league. He has accumulated the second-most yardage (444) and first downs (23) over that span, behind Kelce. And in supporting O'Connell's vision for the position, he has led NFL tight ends in catches (17), yards (187) and first downs converted (10) on third down. Finally, Hockenson has three red zone touchdowns and has accumulated the Vikings' second-most yards from scrimmage (58) in 2-minute drills during the end of either half.

The growth of raw passing statistics in the NFL make it difficult to compare eras, but it's tough to find many midseason trades that match or exceed the production Hockenson has brought his new team in his first season. Cooper caught 53 passes in nine games with the Cowboys in 2019, while Lynch rushed for 573 yards in 12 games with the Seahawks in 2010.

T.J. Hockenson has the most receptions (52) among tight ends since the Vikings traded for him ahead of Week 9Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports


To be fair, a significant portion of Hockenson's performance can be traced to what O'Connell called "some of these shell defenses we get quite a bit" to focus on Jefferson. Hockenson has found the area underneath to be fertile. His average target with the Vikings has been 7.7 yards downfield, and only two have been more than 20 yards downfield. Both fell incomplete.

"The tight end position gets to work against some premier matchups sometimes," O'Connell said, "but also in some opened-up space from maybe the top shelf being taken or your 'X' receiver taking so much responsibility of the defense and understanding where he is, whether you call it a 'safety valve' or you just look at the progression that Kirk is going through and understanding that he's going to have some voids for T.J."

If there's something to knock Hockenson for, it's that he hasn't broken many tackles to turn those catches into explosive plays. His average catch for the Vikings has gone for 8.4 yards, well below Kelce (14.1) and Kittle (16.4) over the same span. That's largely because he is averaging only 3.25 yards after the catch, No. 25 in the NFL among tight ends since Week 9.

Regardless, Hockenson's jolt to the Vikings' offense has been instant. He caught nine passes and played 60 snaps four days after the trade, and for his first several weeks with the team, he would find himself running routes in games that he had never run during a full-speed rep in practice, according to tight ends coach/passing game coordinator Brian Angelichio.

"I still don't think he gets enough credit for learning the whole playbook in two days when he got here," right tackle Brian O'Neill said. "Now he’s starting to settle in and get reps of things that he's going to run in the games in practice."


Hockenson's two touchdowns against the Giants demonstrate the mixture of opportunity and skill he has capitalized on. On the first, the Giants' defense lost track of him in the back of the end zone as it focused on a double-team of Jefferson. On the second, however, Cousins laid out a 50-50 ball that he trusted Hockenson to grab over Giants safety Julian Love. Hockenson jumped and secured it over Love's helmet on a play that gave the Vikings an 8-point fourth-quarter lead.


Cousins has made a habit out of finding tight ends within the scheme in his career, having entered this season ranked No. 4 among NFL quarterbacks in tight end targets (810) and touchdowns thrown to tight ends (49), and he said: "I was pretty comfortable with [Hockenson] from Day 1."

All of which has made it easy to project a long tenure in Minnesota for Hockenson, who turns 26 this summer. His immediate unlocking of O'Connell's scheme should provide Adofo-Mensah with all the evidence he needs, especially when considering that Kelce is still rolling at age 33. Kittle, meanwhile, just turned 29. Sometimes, a relatively safe swing can lead to a booming home run.

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