Category: Professional Sports News

Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe Selected By The New England Patriots

Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe was selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. (PHOTO COURTESY: DraftWire.USAToday.com)

By Matt Noonan

Did the New England Patriots add some competition to its quarterback room?

Perhaps they did by selecting Bailey Zappe this afternoon in the fourth round of the 2022 National Football League (NFL) Draft.

Zappe quarterbacked Western Kentucky University last fall to a 9-5 overall record while establishing new single-season FBS records for passing yards (5,967) and touchdowns (62).

The 62 touchdown passes erased the original mark of 60, which was established by Joe Burrow in 2019.

Prior to becoming the quarterback at Western Kentucky, Zappe was spotted under center for three seasons (2018, 2019, and 2020) at Houston Baptist University, but elected to transfer after the Huskies’ 2020 season concluded after four games.

The team elected to not compete in the Southland Conference’s spring season.  

Zappe, who was selected with the 137th pick, may not be the flashiest quarterback selected in this year’s NFL Draft. However, he certainly seems to fit the “Patriot mold” given the squad may need an extra arm if Mac Jones were to get injured. Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham are still on the roster, but it is possible one or both quarterbacks may not make the final cut.

The Victoria, Texas native is not the biggest signal-caller or has the arm strength of North Carolina’s Sam Howell, but he does throw a “catchable ball” that should create some explosive plays. Zappe led all FBS signal-callers last fall in completions (51) and yards (1,805) on deep passes and could certainly develop into a capable backup quarterback.

With drafting Zappe, it’s possible Jarrett Stidham’s time in New England could be coming to an end. The 2019 draftee, who has played eight games for the Patriots, could be a valuable target for some teams looking for a younger backup quarterback.

As of this afternoon, it seems likely that Brian Hoyer would step in if Mac Jones were to get injured.  

Josh McDaniels named the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders

Josh McDaniels, who was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator in 2021, was named the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. (PHOTO COURTESY: Boston.com/AP)

By Matt Noonan

The National Football League (NFL) coaching carousel continues to spin with the occasional stop before not one, but two conference title games.

Prior to the start of Sunday’s conference championships, numerous outlets confirmed that Josh McDaniels has been named the new head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Dave Ziegler, a former New England Patriots colleague, will join him as the team’s next general manager.

McDaniels has spent most of his coaching career in New England in multiple roles, including defensive assistant, quarterbacks coach, and most recently as the team’s offensive coordinator. He arrived in New England in 2001 as a personal assistant after his initial coaching stint as a graduate assistant with Michigan State in 1999.

This is not McDaniels’ first head coaching role as he led the Denver Broncos to an 8-8 finish in 2009 before getting fired one year later after guiding the Broncos to a 3-9 start.

McDaniels remerge in 2011 as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before returning to New England in 2012 as both the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. His coaching certainly had an impact on Tom Brady, who guided the Patriots to six Super Bowls, and Mac Jones, the organization’s initial draft choice last April.

The 2021 season was a tumultuous one for the Raiders, headlined by the firing of their former head coach Jon Gruden to the release of two players, including Henry Ruggs III. But somehow, someway, the Silver and Black were able to secure a spot in the postseason where they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the opening round.

McDaniels becomes the second NCAA Division III football alum to be named a head coach this offseason — Brian Dabol, who played defensive back for the University of Rochester, accepted the head coaching role on Friday with the New York Giants.

Getting To Know Matt Eberflus (Bears) & Brian Dabol (Giants) 

Matt Eberflus was named the head coach of the Chicago Bears on Thursday, January 27, 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY: Associated Press/Toledoblade.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

The National Football League (NFL) coaching carousel continues to spin. But it has also stopped three times in the last two days with a pair of coaches earning head roles with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, respectively.

Shortly after Nathaniel Hackett was named the head coach of the Denver Broncos, Matt Eberflus was tabbed the new leader of the Bears.

One day later, Brian Dabol went from calling offensive plays for the Buffalo Bills to becoming the head coach of the Giants.

Both the Bears and Giants are desperate for a turnaround — we are sure the league office would like to see two of the oldest franchises compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy next February. But like we have previously with Nathaniel Hackett, it’s time to get to know not one, but two new head coaches in the NFL.

Who is Matt Eberflus?

A coach with 30 years of experience, including 17 in the collegiate world, but there is more, of course.

Eberflus becomes the 17th head coach of the Bears after spending the last four seasons as the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator.

With the Colts, Eberflus helped the Blue and White become the least penalized team in 2019 and 2021 and finish in the top-10 in scoring, run defense, and takeaways the last two seasons (2020 and 2021).

One thing Eberflus did quite well as the leader of the Colts defense was to develop Darius Leonard into one of the best linebackers currently. Leonard, who was named the 2018 Associated Press (AP) Defensive Rookie of the Year, has tallied 121 total tackles or more in four seasons with the Colts while producing a career-best eight forced fumbles this past fall.

Eberflus, who played linebacker at the University of Toledo, coached the position with the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys — he was also the Cowboys’ passing game coordinator in 2016 and 2017. And like Leonard, he made an impact on two former Dallas linebackers: Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

This will be Eberflus’s first head coaching role – he certainly will have his work cut out for him as the Bears have not produced a winning season since 2018 when they lost in the Wild Card round to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brian Dabol will be tasked with leading the New York Giants back to the postseason in 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY: Getty Images/New York Post)

Who is Brian Dabol?

For starters, he was the previous offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. And if you know anything about the Bills, then you certainly know they have a pretty good quarterback named Josh Allen. Dabol made both Allen and the Bills’ offense fun to watch these last few seasons, but can he duplicate that same success with Daniel Jones?

We believe he can, but as many believe (and know), he has his work cut out for him.

Dabol, who played defensive back for the University of Rochester, has held a slew of offensive coordinator roles over the past few years, including one with the University of Alabama where he also coached the quarterbacks. He coached three quarterbacks with the New York Jets in 2007 and 2008, including Brett Favre.

Additionally, Dabol gained experience coaching the defense with the New England Patriots in 2000 and 2001 — he was a defensive assistant — after beginning his career on the sidelines as a volunteer assistant with William & Mary in 1997.

Dabol has never been a head coach so it will be interesting to see how he does in his first season with Giants, who have not posted a winning season since 2016.

Noontime’s NFL Conference Championship Predictions

By Matt Noonan

Welcome to the conference championship weekend – are you ready for another exciting weekend of National Football League (NFL) playoff football?  

Last week, we were treated to some exciting football – I can’t say it was the cleanest football, but it was fun.

This week, we should be treated to not one, but two great matchups, so without further ado, allow me to share my predictions for the conference championships.

Enjoy the games and best of luck to everyone in the snow tomorrow!

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, January 30 at 3 p.m.): I picked the Bengals last week to beat the Tennessee Titans. I even predicted they would win their opening-round matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders. But as much as I would like to pick them again this week, I just don’t think their offensive line will be able to contain the Chiefs’ front seven. It would be a great story to see Joe Burrow in his second season leading the Bengals back to the “big game,” but I think Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will make one, two, or three extra plays to secure a spot in next month’s Super Bowl. PREDICTION: Kansas City 31, Cincinnati 26

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m.): It’s hard to pick against the 49ers – they have a great deal of momentum on their side. And while they appear banged-up and tired, especially after two hard-fought postseason contests with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, I think it would be hard for me to pick against them this weekend. San Francisco has been playing some inspirational football, which started earlier this month when they defeated Los Angeles in their regular-season finale. PREDICTION: San Francisco 27, Los Angeles 23

Getting To Know Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos)

Nathaniel Hackett, who oversaw the Green Bay Packers offense for the last three seasons, has been named the head coach of the Denver Broncos. (PHOTO COURTESY: Green Bay Packers)

By NoontimeSports.com

The Denver Broncos have a new head coach. And his name is Nathaniel Hackett.

According to various reports, Hackett, who was previously the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, will become the new coach of the Broncos — he takes over for Vic Fangio, who guided the Orange and Blue for the last three seasons.

Hackett is the first coordinator or assistant coach to fill one of the National Football League’s (NFL) head coaching vacancies — others will be named over the next few days and weeks — but before he inks his name on a new contract, let’s learn about the new leader of the Broncos.

  • Nathaniel is the son of Paul Hackett, a former professional and collegiate football coach that was born in Burlington, Vermont. Paul held numerous coordinator or assistant roles in the NFL but was a head coach twice for the University of Pittsburgh and University of Southern California.

  • Hackett played football at the University of California, Davis. He earned the George Belenis Award as a co-scout team player of the year in 1998 with Trae Milton before earning the Bob Foster Aggie Pride Award in 2002.  
      
  • His coaching career began in 2003 as the UC Davis assistant linebacker’s coach before earning additional roles with Stanford University and Syracuse University. He spent two years at Stanford – he was a specialist/recruiting coordinator in 2005.

  • In 2006, Hackett made his NFL debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive quality control coach before accepting the same duties in 2008 and 2009 with the Buffalo Bills.

  • Most recently, he was spotted on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars as both their quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator before joining Matt LaFleur in Green Bay to oversee the offense the last three seasons.  

Our “Getting to Know” series, a first-ever in the history of Noontime Sports, will introduce our football fans and friends to new head coaches in the NFL. Be on the lookout for future posts once more teams announce their next coach for the upcoming 2022 season.