Seriously, I’m not ready. Partly because I have no freakin’ idea what to write about these days, because those guys who actually get paid are kicking in my ass in their continuous coverage of EVERY SINGLE OFFSEASON EVENT. I don’t have time for that. But I do have time to reflect and analyze (if you want to call it that) the important and interesting topics people enjoy reading about. As well as writing about.
Ideas for new columns come at a premium in the midst of summer days and I’ve now begun this piece in the most un-ideal of conditions: On a flight to Boston, cramped seats, and it’s only 8:39 AM. Yeah…but I’m determined (plus I haven’t written in a while). Also the busy schedule of the my next 2 weeks in New England doesn’t leave me a lot of time, so I’ll stop rambling and get to it.
What’s the single most over-hyped and extremely annoying headline before a new NFL season? “Who will win QB Battle in (team/city without a definitive starter)?” However, year in and year out this costs franchises more suffering than anything else. And ultimately costing any opportunity at a playoff appearance, let alone a winning season. The only thing on these franchises’ waiting lists are that top draft pick in the latter part of April. Via Bill Barnwell from Grantland.com, 11 teams are in “QB Battle Mode” before training camp even gets underway in July. Obviously not including injuries that will occur to the QB position once we approach (and enter) the regular season.
The one thing that completely dissolves all opportunities of any level of success is the flip-flopping of men under center. Whether it’s every week, every other week, or a few times a season. (Cut to Mike Shanahan nodding in agreement.) I do refuse to believe that Tebow last season actually won football games because he took over the starting role. Don’t you think Kyle Orton would have had the same chance (or even a better chance) to win those games? I think so. He’s a better quarterback. Better QB’s win football games, not guys named “Tebow.” (Wait, who beat the then undefeated Packers last season? Yeah, that’s right.) Don’t bring up how Denver advanced to the Divisional Round either. Flukes happen. (Note: 2007 Cleveland Browns.) So before Rex Ryan becomes pressured by the whole damn states of New York and New Jersey, he should probably considering keeping his QB with 4 playoff wins on the field.
So the lesson as always is to stick with your gut and choose the best man for the job well before the season begins. And don’t interchange between John Beck and Rex Grossman when you started the season 3-1. Okay, Washington? (And for myself: Be smart, Pat Shurmur…Go Browns.)
Most of you tuned into the NBA Finals as I did (and not seeing Adam Sandler’s new movie, I hope), baseball season is in mid-swing, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs concluded not too long ago. Why do America’s sports fans continue a complicated love affair with the NFL? Especially during this time of the year? Well, thanks to Rich Eisen and his ever so talented rotating cast of former NFL players/coaches and Mike Mayock (I’m kidding), football has become the ultimate 12-month sport of America. Keeping fans appealed throughout the season, draft, and assemblance of re-designed franchises (or the offseason) is nothing short of a job well done. Well, only if you want to call the the NFL’s public mockery of the New Orleans Saints nothing short of a job well done, then I suppose the approval of the NFL is doing quite fine. I’ll never agree on that one.
Does the idea of a new season just simply remind us of the same over-bearing and extremely annoying headlines? Yes. But does it allow us to witness the latest spectacles of a sport we all devote a Sunday to (as well as Thursday, Monday, and sometimes Saturday)? That’s an unquestionable “Yes.” However, the signing of Chad Ochocinco left an unpleasant feeling considering many NFL alumni are still awaiting a contract offer. Among those names include: Plaxico Burress, Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, Braylon Edwards, and even Terrell Owens. Did Ochocinco really deserve a contract before those guys? I don’t believe so. Maybe Hard Knocks had something to do with it, actually, that definitely had something to do with it.
So maybe I’m not ready for a new season, but I am ready for some more predictions. And if you didn’t catch my last ones, shame on you. But because you should read them, here they are: “Seven (Way Too Early) Predictions.”
Some More (Kinda Early) Predictions:
1. Denver Won’t Make the Playoffs
This isn’t because I despise the Broncos (Go Browns), but this is rather for the fact that Denver isn’t that good. Also taking a look at their schedule- it’s honestly quite tough. Especially in the beginning of the season. I’m a fan of Peyton Manning, actually, I’m more of a supporter. I think he deserves more credit and more wins. One Lombardi in his résumé isn’t clearly enough, so this is why he continues to play. Now I didn’t think the Broncos were the correct choice for the next chapter in his career, but he has to know something we don’t.
And considering I can’t write about something I don’t know- because this is far more important than the H.S. newspaper- then I’ll judge on what I know and what I see. What I see is a defense that over-performed last season and can’t put up that kind of performance throughout Manning’s stint in the Mile-High City. The receivers aren’t polished enough as they must prepare for a real QB, not a pretend one. The only part of this team that may stay consistent is the running game. But can McGahee carry the load? Will Moreno put the injuries aside and return to form? Those questions are all left unanswered until kickoff.
However, the excessive 5 prime-time games won’t be enough to push Denver back into the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. Peyton Manning may be great, but he won’t be enough. Chemistry in Indy took awhile, it won’t be lightning speed in Colorado.
2. Taking a Year Off: Mike Wallace
Pittsburgh won’t budge. Neither will Wallace. If there’s one team in the NFL that will restrain from over-paying it might as well be the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Wallace is looking for “Larry Fitzgerald-like” money, he won’t find it in Pennsylvania. Wallace is currently “tendered”, not “franchised.” In order for another team to obtain Wallace they will have to pass over a 1st-rounder in next year’s draft to Pittsburgh to get him. More of a “sign-and-trade” kind of thing.
As of right now, no one has put out an offer sheet for the impeccable wide-out who has helped fantasy teams (at least mine) throughout the last few seasons. And coincidentally, I have recently let go of No. 17 for greener pastures on my fantasy squad. That is what could be happening this season as Wallace is currently awaiting a prized contract that may not come his way.
If he chooses not to play, then he chooses not to play. This will just mean more opportunities for the emerging star in Antonio Brown. I guess success will come in the form of a new franchise.
3. New Orleans Won’t Have an Answer
Joe Vitt has recently come out against the NFL and denied all accusations of a “bounty system” taking place inside the New Orleans franchise. Vitt may not be the only one, however, he is the Saints’ interim head coach this season right after he serves his 6-game suspension. So the scrutiny may begin when things go awry this year as the team is without Sean Payton, Jonathan Vilma, and possibly even Drew Brees.
I’ve said to myself, Hey this team still has talent, it can’t be that bad this season, right? Wrong. Everything’s a mess. It may take years to officially clean it all up. New Orleans will still have a fighter’s chance as long as Brees plays. Because being stuck with Chase Daniel doesn’t seem like an ideal situation. I may still grant them “contender” status, but as the days drag on and Sportscenter relays more information across the screen, they may move on in to becoming a “pretender.” And that’s a stretch.
4. Rookie of the Year: Trent Richardson
I’m not just saying this because I’m a Browns fan, I’m saying this because he will have the best opportunity for the best year, statistically speaking. He won’t make Cleveland all that much better, but behind a slightly above-average offensive-line, Richardson should be magnificent out of the backfield. Also the lack of the passing game- even with Weeden- will allow him the opportunity to run the football a bit more than your average back. I’m sure Childress doesn’t plan on tiring him out, but I’m sure he plans on using him effectively and efficiently.
Luck and Griffin will obviously put on shows of their own, however, their absence of talent surrounding them may hurt them in the long-run. Once again, statistically speaking. Newton exceeded predictions last season, but to think Luck will put the ball in the endzone as often as Newton did it? Somewhat of a stretch. As for Griffin, Washington should be (and I think they are) taking things cautiously from the beginning. Griffin is a tremendous talent, not “Luck-like”, but still a talent that needs to be developed carefully over time for the best results in the future.
Can Cleveland win something, finally? This may be their best shot. (Sorry Cavs fan, last night hurt. I know.)
5. Best Offseason Transaction: Atlanta Snags Asante Samuel
Well, this one fell under the radar. Atlanta upgraded with a CB who makes his presence felt every time he’s on the field. Adding Samuel to the likes of Grimes and Robinson will surely help a defense who recently lost Curtis Lofton to New Orleans. And really the surprising part of this, is that Philadelphia wasn’t looking for much when they put Samuel on the block. Therefore allowing Atlanta to give up a measly 7th-round pick for a 4-time Pro-Bowler. Not that Pro Bowls really matter any more.
Atlanta is my current favorite to win the highly-competitive NFC South and improving from 10-6 last season is something this franchise is currently eyeing. And maybe if Matt Ryan can win his first playoff game, we could be talking about a potential Super Bowl contender out of the NFC.
Being ready to watch football is the polar opposite than being ready for the NFL. I’d put money on that.
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @C_Rioux23 You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org