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Cook’s Top 5: Tennessee Titans Quarterbacks

Steve Cook continues his look at the Top 5 QBs of each NFL team with a stop on Tennessee…or Houston! This list features Titans and Oilers…check it out!

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Steve Cook continues his look at the Top 5 QBs of each NFL team with a stop on Tennessee…or Houston! This list features Titans and Oilers…check it out!

The Houston Oilers won the first two AFL Championships behind the arm of George Blanda & the legs of Billy Cannon. They went back to the title game in Year 3, lost, and didn’t return to a league championship game until their first season as the Tennessee Titans. (Third in Tennessee, of course.) It may have been fitting for them to win that one too, but they came up one yard short. The less we talk about it, the better.

Whether in Houston or Tennessee, the franchise has had some memorable quarterback play. Today we look at the five best!

5. Ryan Tannehill

I may be inserting Tannehill onto the list too soon in his Titans tenure, but I don’t think that I am. We previously discussed Tannehill’s stint with the Miami Dolphins, where he was expected to be the next Dan Marino but didn’t quite get there. Injury issues were a concern, and a large part of the reason that the Dolphins ended up trading him to Tennessee. Perhaps Tannehill would have eventually lived up to the hype in Miami, or perhaps the change of scenery was just what he needed.

Tannehill backed up Marcus Mariota for the first six games of the 2019 season, and was inserted into the QB1 slot after the Titans started 2-4. He threw for over 2700 yards & had 22 touchdown passes with only 6 interceptions, leading the Titans to an improbable playoff run that included an upset victory over the New England Patriots. That ended up being Tom Brady’s final game with the franchise. Tannehill was named to his first Pro Bowl and was voted Comeback Player of the Year. 2020 didn’t see Tannehill win any awards, but he was just as effective in his first full season as Titans starting quarterback, throwing 33 touchdown passes & only 7 interceptions. 2021 looks even more promising with the addition of Julio Jones to the offense in addition to A.J. Brown & Derrick Henry.

The pieces are in place for Ryan Tannehill to climb even higher up this list in the coming years.

4. Dan Pastorini

The Oilers had high hopes when they picked Pastorini third overall in the 1971 NFL Draft. He was the third straight QB taken, behind Jim Plunkett & Archie Manning. The Oilers took a lot of lumps in the AFC Central during Pastorini’s nine seasons as starting quarterback, and Pastorini took a lot of lumps due to lacking a strong offensive line.

Pastorini did make the Pro Bowl in 1975, when he led the Oilers to ten wins & threw for over 2,000 yards. His best season would come in 1978, when he threw for the most yards (2473) and touchdowns (16) of any season of his career. 1978 & 79 saw the Oilers make it to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost both times to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Earl Campbell made the main difference for those teams. Pastorini was traded to Oakland after the 79 season, and was starter for the Raiders’ 1980 team until he got hurt. Jim Plunkett, who had been drafted two picks before him, took over & led the Raiders to a championship.

3. George Blanda

Blanda had retired from football after the 1958 season due to Chicago Bears head coach George Halas’s refusal to use him as a quarterback. When the AFL formed in 1960, he signed with the Houston Oilers, and things went pretty well. He led the Oilers to the first two AFL Championships and a runner-up finish in the third season. Blanda was named to three AFL All-Star teams, led the league in passing yards twice and threw for over 3,000 yards three times. Unfortunately, he also led the league in interceptions four straight seasons. The Oilers were very pass-happy in those days. Blanda still ranks second in franchise history with 165 touchdown passes.

Blanda was released after the 1966 season, and his career was thought to be over. Instead, he played nine more seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

2. Steve McNair

McNair was drafted third overall in the 1995 Draft & started six games during his first two seasons. He became the official starting quarterback in 1997, when the Oilers came to Tennessee. McNair led the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV, where he wuld complete a pass to Kevin Dyson in the final seconds that was one yard shy of the end zone and a chance to tie the game. McNair was named to the Pro Bowl in 2000, 03 & 05, and 2003 saw him become the first Black quarterback to be named NFL MVP. Albeit, in a tie with Peyton Manning.

Air McNair has the second most passing yards & third most touchdown passes in franchise history. One wonders if his numbers would have been higher if not for the presence of Eddie George in the backfield for most of his career. Either way, McNair & George still rate as two of the top football icons in Nashville history.

1. Warren Moon

We’ve already covered Moon in two previous columns, so you know his basic story by now. Overlooked by NFL scouts after a successful college career for reasons. Lit up the CFL & still holds a record with five consecutive Grey Cup victories. Once he decided to leave Edmonton, many NFL teams wanted his services. The Oilers hired Hugh Campbell, Moon’s head coach with the Eskimos, as their head coach, so they were able to close the deal. Moon struggled his first three seasons, but started to turn things around in 1987. He led the Oilers to seven straight playoff appearances and was selected to six straight Pro Bowls with the team. (He was selected his next two seasons with the Vikings as well, and one more time as part of the Seahawks.)

Moon leads the franchise in all-time passing yards, touchdowns and passing yards per game. He has five out of the top seven best passing yard totals for a season. It’s an easy choice to put Warren Moon on top of the list.

The only weird thing? He never played in Tennessee. Don’t blame me, it’s not my fault Houston didn’t get to keep their old records like Cleveland did.

Thanks for reading! Join me next time when I wrap up this project with the Washington Football Team!


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NFL

Cook’s 2022 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 13

It’s lucky week 13 as Steve Cook’s path to a winning record continues! Can Cook keep the streak going with his NFL Week 13 Gambling Picks?

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Josh Allen Buffalo Bills Away Jersey

It’s lucky week 13 as Steve Cook’s path to a winning record continues! Can Cook keep the streak going with his NFL Week 13 Gambling Picks?

Hi, hello and welcome to Week 13 of the National Football League! I’m Steve Cook, and I can’t believe it’s already December. Time flies when you’re having fun, and I think most of us have had a good amount of fun so far this season. There’s still plenty to come, and we’re at the point where the cream rises to the top and we find out just who is for real around here.

We had another successful week in the picks, continuing our streak of going above .500. Could use a really big week to get the record looking good, and hopefully that’ll happen in the following words. Spreads are via Vegas Insider Consensus on Wednesday afternoon and are subject to change.

Thursday, December 1

Buffalo (-4) at New England

It’s one of those rare weeks where the Thursday game doesn’t feature two teams still banged up from Sunday. Both the Bills & Patriots played on Thanksgiving, so they’ll have the typical rest period to get ready for an AFC East clash. I’m expecting a defensive, low scoring game here, but at the end of the day the choice is between Josh Allen & Mac Jones. I can’t see Mac keeping up with the Bills’ offense, even if the Patriots have one of the better defenses in the league. I’ll take the Bills to keep their position on top of the division, and figure that certain things will happen to knock them ahead of Miami.

Sunday, December 4

Cleveland (-7) vs. Houston

There wouldn’t be much reason to care about this game if it didn’t involve the return of every massage therapist’s least favorite customer. The NFL knows how to book these things…it wasn’t going to be enough to have Deshaun Watson’s comeback game be in some random NFL city, it needed to happen in Houston. Otherwise, nobody’s talking about a game featuring the hapless Texans hosting a Browns team that people probably still think are going to make a run here in December.

I don’t have much faith in the Browns to do much other than beat the Texans.

Denver at Baltimore (-8.5)

The Ravens have the advantage of having one of the easiest schedules in the history of the NFL at the end of this season. They should be able to coast to an AFC North title and a good seed in the AFC. So far, they haven’t exactly taken advantage of that schedule. They barely took care of Carolina, then they found a way to lose to the Jaguars. It’s nothing new, as the Ravens have spent most of this season finding ways to lose games they have in control. They should be 9-2 or even better than that, instead they’re 7-4 & tied with the Bengals at the top of the AFC North. Tons of missed opportunities for the Ravens here in 2022.

At least we’re still wondering if they’re frauds or not. We know that the Denver Broncos are frauds. They were a quarterback away after last season, and everybody thought that Russell Wilson would fill that void. He hasn’t. One of the most disappointing teams in recent memory. Not only are they worse than we thought they would be, they’re so boring to watch that they got the Chiefs flexed out of a Sunday Night Football slot. Imagine how un-entertaining a team has to be that NBC is like “Well, we can’t air them against Patrick Mahomes”. Amazing.

As much as the Broncos offend me as a fan of entertaining football, I still have to tell you to take them at this number. The Ravens haven’t shown the ability to blow teams out, and will let the sorry, no-account Broncos hang around in a low-scoring affair.

Pittsburgh at Atlanta (-1.5)

Due to the ineptitude of the NFC South, the Falcons are still in the playoff picture. The Steelers aren’t, but they do have the look of a team headed in the right direction. They also do a good job of stopping the run, as Jonathan Taylor could attest to after that Week 12 game. I like the Steelers here, even if Najee Harris doesn’t end up playing. As long as those defense studs are healthy, they have a chance against most teams.

Tennessee at Philadelphia (-5.5)

Derrick Henry got shut down in Week 12 by the Bengals defense, but I like him to have a strong rebound game against an Eagles defense that’s prone to giving up big runs. The Eagles have a high-powered offense, but Tennessee’s defense has managed to hold their opponents under 21 points in eight straight games. Something tells me this is going to be a tight one, so I’ll take the Titans to keep things close.

Jacksonville (-1.5) at Detroit

The Jaguars showed some spunk last week against the Ravens, defeating Lamar Jackson & company in dramatic fashion. Now they get a Lions team that has a knack for bring involved in games that end in dramatic fashion, including a narrow loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving. Should be a high-scoring game.

Vegas is showing quite a bit of faith in the Jags here. I know they had the good win last week & Detroit has a knack for losing close games, but I don’t mind riding with the home dogg Lions this week. They should be ready to go and well-rested.

Washington (-2.5) at NY Giants

These two NFC East teams seem headed in opposite directions lately. The Giants got all of the buzz early on but are starting to tail off due to injuries to their offensive line & wide receivers. Meanwhile, Taylor Heinicke is making things interesting in Washington while the defense is holding teams in check. It’ll likely be a low-scoring game, but I like the Commanders to keep things rolling while the Giants keep looking for answers.

NY Jets at Minnesota (-3)

Do the Jets have a quarterback now? Mike White had himself a day on Sunday against the Bears. If the team can find some consistency on offense, they have a defense that might be able to take this team farther than one would expect. The only issue here? The Minnesota Vikings are a harder out than a Bears team missing Justin Fields.

As good as the Jets defense is, I see them having problems stopping the likes of Justin Jefferson. Dalvin Cook had a weak showing against the Patriots, but I think he gets things back on track this week. The Vikings have struggled against the best teams in the NFL, but I think they get it done this week.

Green Bay (-4.5) at Chicago

Aaron Rodgers says he’s going to play this week after missing the last quarter of the Packers’ game with the Eagles due to injury. Most years, this would be considered a good thing. In 2022, it’s tough to blame Packers fans if they wonder that the team might be better off letting Jordan Love have a crack at things. Love looked good in that fourth quarter against the Eagles.

The good news for Green Bay? They’re playing the Bears, which almost always ends well for them. Lots of questions surround the Bears, most importantly the health status of Justin Fields. Apparently he’ll be a game time decision this week. Tough to like the Bears under those circumstances, so I’ll do what I usually do and pick the Packers over them.

Seattle (-7.5) at LA Rams

The Seahawks have been struggling a bit lately, losing close games to the Buccaneers & Raiders. This pales in comparison to the struggles the Rams have gone through, as the defending Super Bowl Champions have dropped their last five games & seen whatever playoff hopes they had go up in smoke. They could theoretically win their last six games and finish 9-8, but it seems more likely they’ll be trying to avoid setting the record for fewest wins in a season after winning the Super Bowl. The Broncos won six games in 1999, it wasn’t all that surprising since John Elway retired after winning his second straight Super Bowl. The Rams’ struggles are a bit more surprising.

The Rams’ struggles will likely continue this week, though one can make an argument in their favor against a Seahawks team that seems to have hit a wall in recent weeks after over-achieving to start the season. I think Geno Smith leads the Seahawks to victory, but the Rams keep things relatively close.

Miami at San Francisco (-3.5)

Two of the hottest teams in the NFL will meet up in Santa Clara on Sunday. The Dolphins have won every game that Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t injured for and are on a five game winning streak. The 49ers are on a four-game winning streak of their own that coincides with Christian McCaffrey meshing into the offense. The 49er defense has been top-notch, but is going to face one of their toughest tests of the season this week.

I’m not saying the Dolphin offense can’t be shut down, I’m just saying we haven’t seen it happen yet. If somebody can get it done it’s the 49ers. I think this will be a close game though, so I recommend taking the Dolphins as road doggs.

LA Chargers (-1.5) at Las Vegas

Both of these teams got much needed victories last week, the Chargers in the last seconds of regulation & the Raiders in overtime. Week 1 saw the Chargers defeat the Raiders by five points, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened this time around. Justin Herbert should be able to score enough points on the Raiders’ defense to keep the Chargers in playoff contention.

Kansas City (-2.5) at Cincinnati

There’s a big difference between the Joe Burrow/Zac Taylor Bengals and the Carson Palmer/Andy Dalton/Marvin Lewis Bengals of the 2000s & 2010s. Elite teams were happy to see those Bengal teams of years past. They knew they could get over on those guys, even if those Bengals showed flashes of brilliance. When the lights were on bright, those Bengals would fade away. Their clutch gene was non-existent. These Bengals have shown more fortitude than their predecessors. They have a knack for beating AFC teams that are supposedly better than them. Ask the Tennessee Titans, who are 0-3 against the Bengals since Joe Burrow showed up. Ask the Kansas City Chiefs, who the Bengals beat to get into the playoffs last season, and who the Bengals beat in the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs were favored to win both of those games, and had a multiple touchdown lead in each game, but didn’t get the job done either time. The Bengals rose to the occasion and sent the Chiefs home without reason to chop tomahawks.

So we’ve got another week featuring an alleged “revenge” game that isn’t really one but we act like it is so we have something to talk about. Kansas City will have to do a lot more than win in Week 13 against Cincinnati to even the score here. Can they do it this week? I don’t see why not. As hot as the Bengals have been lately, the Chiefs just keep doing their thing and are still the team to beat in the AFC.

Indianapolis at Dallas (-10.5)

The Colts have shown more fire lately, but Jeff Saturday is finding out that this whole head coaching thing is a lot harder than it looks when you’re a pundit on TV talking about how dumb all the coaches are. You think you know all of the ins & outs of clock management, then you’re trying to do it yourself & failing miserably.

Sunday Night will be Football Night, and the Cowboys actually defied the odds and haven’t gone into the tank yet. There’s still time for that, but it won’t be this week. The Cowboys have a better offense & defense, and should handle anything Indy throws at them.

New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-3.5)

It’s Andy Dalton vs. Tom Brady in a prime time game. Is an explanation required? Take the Buccaneers.

Week 12 Results: 8-7-1
Overall Results: 86-89-6


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Down The Wire: NFL No Cap Recap Week 12

Tom and Dave are back, with no cap, to break down all the action from week 12 in the NFL.

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Tom and Dave are back, with no cap, to break down all the action from week 12 in the NFL.

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