Hello best friends! Most people aren't aware of it, but today is National Best Friends Day and everyone who reads this newsletter is my best friend.
Speaking of the holiday, someone might want to tell Aaron Rodgers and the Packers that today is National Best Friends Day, because they aren't acting like best friends right now. Rodgers was a no-show at the first day of Green Bay's mandatory minicamp on Tuesday and of course, we'll be covering that in-depth below.
Also, we'll be remembering former Giants coach Jim Fassel, who died on Monday night.
Let's get to the rundown. As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today's show: Most improved teams after the 2021 offseason
Every NFL team has the same goal during the offseason and that goal is to improve their roster through free agency and the draft. As you've probably noticed through the years, some teams are much better at doing this than others. For instance, I'm not sure what the Jets are doing, but whatever it is, it hasn't been working. The Jets haven't been to the playoffs since 2010, which is the longest active drought in the NFL.
Now that most of the offseason is behind us, Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I used today's episode of the podcast to pick the team that has improved the most. We each picked one team and although we definitely didn't plan to pick all AFC teams, we ended up picking all AFC teams.
- Wilson's most improved team: Browns. How does a team that won 11 games last year get even better? According to Wilson, it comes down to the fact that they beefed up their defense with the additions of guys like John Johnson, Troy Hill, Jadeveon Clowney, Malik Jackson and Takk McKinley.
- Brinson's most improved team: Chargers. The Chargers had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year, so what did they do this offseason? They totally revamped it by bringing in Corey Linsley at center and Matt Feiler at guard. They also drafted tackle Rashawn Slater. Los Angeles also had a sneaky good signing in tight end Jared Cook, who came at a much cheaper price than Hunter Henry would have been if the Chargers had tried to keep him.
- Breech's most improved team: Patriots. Not only did the Patriots spend roughly $1 billion in free agency, but they also had Mac Jones fall into their lap during the draft. The offseason could not have gone much better for the Patriots.
To listen to today's show -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Ex-Giants coach Jim Fassel dies at 71
Fassel was arguably one of the most underrated and under appreciated coaches in NFL history. Here's a look at what the 71-year-old accomplished during his lengthy career in coaching.
- Named NFL Coach of the Year in 1997. After going 6-10 in 1996, the Giants decided to dump Dan Reeves so they could hire Fassel. The hiring paid off immediately as Fassel led the team to the playoffs with a 10-5-1 record, which was good enough to earn him the Coach of the Year award. The Giants went 7-0-1 in the NFC East that year, which to this day marks the only time the team has gone unbeaten in divisional play.
- Fassel's famous guarantee. After a Week 12 loss to the Lions in 2000 that dropped the team to 7-4, some thought a Giants collapse might be coming. However, Fassel had other thoughts. Following the game, he guaranteed that New York would make the playoffs. After the guarantee, not only did the Giants finish the regular season 5-0, but they ended up riding that winning streak all the way to the Super Bowl.
- Leads Giants to Super Bowl XXXV. The most impressive part of Fassel's career might have been the fact that he got the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2000 with Kerry Collins as his quarterback. To get to the game, the Giants had to beat the favored Vikings in an NFC Championship Game that ended up being a blowout with New York winning 41-0. In the Super Bowl, the Giants would fall to the Ravens 34-7.
- Fourth-most wins in Giants history. Fassel ended up coaching the Giants from 1997 to 2003 and during that time, he racked up 58 regular-season wins, which is the fourth-most in team history. He ended up resigning from the job in 2003 after leading the Giants to the playoffs three times in seven seasons.
- Other NFL experience. Fassel coached a total of 16 years in the NFL. Besides his time with the Giants, he also served as an assistant with multiple teams including the Raiders, Broncos, Cardinals and Ravens. He was also the Giants offensive coordinator for two seasons (1991-92). Fassel also spent one season in the NFL as a player after being selected in the seventh round of the 1972 draft.
- Won multiple UFL titles. From 2009 to 2012, Fassel coached the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League. During his time in Las Vegas, he led the team to three championship games while winning two titles.
Fassel was able to win in New York despite the fact that he never had a true star quarterback. During his time with the Giants, his starters included Danny Kanell, Dave Brown and Kerry Collins. Fassel's football legacy will live on through his son John, who is currently the special teams coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.
3. Aaron Rodgers is a no-show at Packers' minicamp
The spat between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers just got very real.
Although Rodgers skipped Green Bay's offseason training activities earlier this year, that didn't really mean anything because the OTAs were voluntary and he wasn't required to be there. However, he was required to be at mandatory minicamp on Tuesday and he was a no-show for the team's first meeting on Tuesday morning, according to NFL.com.
Let's quickly take a look at the ramifications of Rodgers' decision
- It's going to cost him. Rodgers will be facing fines of up $93,085, although the Packers could let him out of the fine by labeling his no-show as an excused absence. If Rodgers does get hit with the fine, that would mean that he's lost out on nearly $600,000 this year. The quarterback had a $500,000 OTA bonus in his contract, but he won't be getting that since he didn't show up for those.
- Training camp now in question. The fact that Rodgers didn't show up for minicamp means there's no way for the Packers to know if he'll even show up for training camp. If Rodgers were to skip training camp, he would face $50,000 per day in fines, so it won't be a cheap decision.
- Jordan Love getting some reps. The only upside in all of this for the Packers is that Love will be getting some much-needed reps with the first-team. If Rodgers refuses to play for the Packers in 2021, the team needs to know what it has in Love and they'll get a better idea during minicamp if he's taking all the reps.
Of course, Love getting all the reps could work out in Rodgers' favor. If the second-year QB looks terrible, the Packers will be desperate to get Rodgers back. After minicamp concludes, Rodgers won't be required to attend another practice until training camp kicks off on July 27.
4. Predicting every game on the Dolphins' 2021 schedule
Now that the month of June is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is almost upon us and although things can get kind of boring during that period, we're going to keep things spicy around here by going through and predicting every game on each team's 2021 schedule.
There are 32 teams and we'll be doing one team per day until we make it through every team. Today, we're taking a closer look at the Dolphins.
Our Jordan Dajani went through the Dolphins' entire schedule and picked out all the games they're going to win and all the games they're going to lose. Last season, the Dolphins surprisingly managed to go 10-6 even though they couldn't decide who they wanted their starting quarterback to be.
This year, there won't be any confusion at quarterback because Tua Tagovailoa is the undisputed starter. So is that actually going to help things in Miami?
Here's a look at how Dajani sees the Dolphins doing in three key games:
- Week 1: Dolphins at Patriots. "Bill Belichick returns all of his defensive opt-outs and also made several notable additions in free agency. You know he's especially motivated after Tom Brady won a Super Bowl in his very first season with the Buccaneers. Patriots come out and make a statement in Week 1." Prediction: Patriots 27-21 over Dolphins.
- Week 4: Colts at Dolphins. "The Colts are a tough team to judge on paper, as we don't know if Carson Wentz is going to be able to reinvent himself now that he's reunited with Frank Reich. The Colts are ready to compete right now, but how much could bad quarterback play hamper them? I'll take Miami at home here." Prediction: Dolphins 28-23 over Colts.
- Week 16: Dolphins at Saints. "This Saints team is going to look very different without Drew Brees, but Jameis Winston will certainly give them more of an ability to throw downfield. That could either be a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm leaning toward the Dolphins in this matchup." Prediction: Dolphins 28-26 over Saints.
Overall, Dajani is predicting that the Dolphins will end the season with a 10-7 record and if that happens, they'll likely be headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Of those 10 wins, Dajani has the Dolphins going 7-4 outside the division, but just 3-3 in AFC East play.
If you want to see Dajani's prediction for each game, click here to check out his entire story.
5. Training camp battles to watch: Ranking the five best QB competitions in 2021
I'm not sure how it happened, but we are now just six weeks away from the start of the NFL's first training camp (the Steelers and Cowboys report on July 21). With that in mind, we thought now would be a good time to take a look at some of the biggest training camp battles in 2021 and since quarterback is the most important position on the field, we're going to start there.
Cody Benjamin put together a list of the top five QB battles heading into training camp.
1. 49ers (Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Trey Lance). "The Niners will tell you that Garoppolo is cemented as the QB1 for the foreseeable future, and they'll probably be telling the truth. This is a team built to contend now that it's past an injury-ravaged 2020. But they didn't give up immense draft capital to pick Lance No. 3 overall just to be cute." Breech's prediction for Week 1 starter: Garoppolo.
2. Patriots (Cam Newton vs. Mac Jones). "Cam can and should be better with an improved supporting cast, but it's not unreasonable to think Jones could show more accuracy and durability to claim the job early." Breech's prediction for Week 1 starter: Newton.
3. Bears (Andy Dalton vs. Justin Fields). "Chicago has gone out of its way to crown Dalton the Opening Day starter (we still don't know why), and chances are he will, in fact, kick off the season under center." Breech's prediction for Week 1 starter: Dalton.
4. Saints (Jameis Winston vs. Taysom Hill). "Most just expect Winston to get the job, and that's probably the logical thing for the Saints to do. No, Jameis has not proven to be a safe and/or sustainable starter, but you can only run a wildcat-type offense with Hill for so long." Breech's prediction for Week 1 starter: Winston.
5. Broncos (Teddy Bridgewater vs. Drew Lock). "The Broncos have an underrated roster -- young play-makers and a feisty defense -- but need a steadier hand under center. Bridgewater likely provides that, but if Lock can cut down on the silly mistakes, he presents a higher ceiling." Breech's prediction for Week 1 starter: Bridgewater.
Cody has a more in-depth look at each of these quarterback battles and if you want to check that out, be sure to click here. You should definitely click because Cody is writing the newsletter tomorrow and I don't want him to be mad at you because you didn't click.
6. Ex-Chiefs assistant Britt Reid pleads not guilty to DUI charge
After spending months in the court system, the DUI case of former Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid is finally moving forward. The son of Chiefs coach Andy Reid was in court on Monday where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated and causing serious physical injury.
The plea comes four months after the Feb. 4 crash and two months after he was hit with the charge in April. Reid is facing a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if he gets convicted.
The former Chiefs assistant was charged after police found that he "operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and acted with criminal negligence by driving at an excessive rate of speed." After the crash, Reid was placed on leave by the team and didn't coach in the Super Bowl. He is no longer with the team after the Chiefs let his contract expire following the 2020 season.
According to police documents, Reid had a .113 BAC and was traveling nearly 84 mph at the time of the crash. Reid told police after the crash that he had "two or three drinks," along with some prescribed Adderall before getting behind the wheel.
A 5-year-old girl named Ariel Young suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash and her family is still dealing with the ramifications of that.
The court has ordered that he is not to consume any alcohol while he's out on bond. Reid will also face random drug tests and must wear alcohol and GPS monitoring devices, according to the Associated Press. Reid is allowed to drive, but he had to have a special interlock device placed on his car that requires him to pass a breathalyzer before the car will start.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 22.