The 2021 NFL season is underway.
A look-see at key storylines for each of the NFL teams.
ARIZONA…Kyler Murray’s second season did not match his first season even with the addition of WR-DeAndre Hopkins. Now they have added JJ Watt to the defense in what they hope will be a true breakthrough season. Murray has to be a complete quarterback, not a 1-man gang. He needs others to step up. But the division is so hard.
ATLANTA…New head coach Arthur Smith will link with big time thrower Matt Ryan, and all will watch how good Kyle Pitts can be at wide receiver. But the defense is still suspect.
BALTIMORE..A brilliant Lamar Jackson plays the risk-reward game, not being vaccinated. They have had on going health issues at wide receiver and running back that must be solved. But John Harvaaaugh is so gifted as a leader and talent evaluator.
BUFFALO..Is this the year Josh Allen and the rebuilt Bills take the next step by possibly being a Super Bowl team? I think so, especially if Emmanuel Sanders makes big catches, they run the ball more, and the pass rushers they drafted are jackpot players.
CAROLINA…Sam Darnold-Christiam McCaffrey but not much else. I get the sense they never recovered from the sudden retirement of Luke Kuechly a year ago.
CHICAGO….Waiting game to see how quickly Justin Fields develops at quarterback, but it seems like they are wasting the lives of a good defense. Just a really poor offense, and that is an annual problem at Soldier Field.
CINCINNATI..Can they keep the kid quarterback upright and healthy? Joe Burrow-Joe Mixon-JaMarr Chase and not much else on the team.
CLEVELAND…They have everything you want in a team, skilled QB in Baker Mayfield, two heavy duty running backs, an array of pass catchers, and Myles Garrett and Jadaveon Clowney as pass rushers coupled with a good secondary. Could be as good as the elite in the AFC.
DALLAS…If it’s going to happen it has to be soon, with the age and injury issues Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott and Amari Cooper have had to work thru. Prescott made a statement with his (403Y) passing game on opening night in the loss to Tampa Bay. A young defense has to be better and Mike McCarthy needs to work his magic.The Jimmy Johnson era was a long time ago.
DENVER..Teddy Bridgewater-Drew Lock may both play, but the Broncos seem gifted at wide receiver and running back, and now Von Miller is back healthy with Brad Chubb. This could be a good team.
DETROIT…Jared Goff and Penel Sewell are supposed to lead the Lions to better times, but Goff has been found lacking for the last couple of years and when was the last time an offensive guard was a difference maker?
GREEN BAY…Is this Aaron Rodgers last year? Is it the same for WR-Davante Adams? Will their kids wideouts become game by game stars? Will they explode with the tralents on the roster, or implode because of internal issues?
HOUSTON…Why does this feel like an expansion team headed for a disaster of a season. The unresolved status of QB-Deshaun Watson, some 30-plus new players, a new coach and a new GM. Ugly season ahead.
INDIANAPOLIS…Is Carson Wentz a real replacement for Philip Rivers? They had a breakout season last year, but that was more Rivers, who made everyone better. Now he retires and they get Wentz, his talent, his injury history, his baggage.
JACKSONVILLE..This will be some fascinating marriage, the QB-Trevor Lawrence and the coach Urban Meyer. But they may have the second worst talent level in the league. Most of the starters who lost 15-in a row last season, are still starting.
KANSAS CITY…Andy Reid, the Patrick Mahomes-led offense, all that firepower is back, and now they add four new offensive lineman, led by Orlando Brown. Returning for a 3rd Super Bowl appearance in a row seems likely.
LAS VEGAS..Lots of offense around QB-Derek Carr, and lots of new faces on defense. They’ll score. Can they stop anyone? Jon Gruden’s return to coaching has not been a raging success yet. They have rebuilt the roster three times. Time to win.
CHARGERS…Justin Herbert-Rashawn Slater-Derwin James-Joey Bosa. It’s created lots of excitement, but there are so many new moving parts from Coach Brandon Staley and his philosophies, to the new playbooks, coordinators and four new starters in the offensive front. How do they survive the first 7-weeks of the season?
RAMS…Matthew Stafford never had this around him in Detroit. Tremendous gifts on offense,but they lost alot of depth and some starters on defense. Watch Raheem Morris and what he does as the new defensive coordinator.
MIAMI…The jury is still out on Tua Tagovailoa, but the known commodity is coach Brian Flores and the culture he created last year. They go as far as Tua’s growth goes.
MINNESOTA…Kirk Cousins-Dalvin Cook and that is about it. Can the 3-unvaxxed QBs stay healthy? Who plays defense? Perplexing questions for people wearing Purple.
NEW ENGLAND..Mac Jones-manage the offense. Bill Belichick signed the most quality free agents of any team, and now they will play around the rookie quarterback who took the job from Cam Newton. Interesting experiment.
NEW ORLEANS…Life after Drew Brees begins. Will be fun to see Sean Payton’s impact on Jameis Winston, whose history is touchdowns and turnovers. Tough preseason of injuries on defense.
NY GIANTS..Joe Judge had a good rookie season as coach with a mess of injuries around him. Now year two, it just does not seem they have stockpiled enough players around QB-Daniel Jones, and that includes the unanswered questions about the health of RB-Saquon Barkley.
NY JETS..Robert Salah will be a difference maker as head coach, but they will have to baby-sit QB-Zach Wilson, and survive a mess of injuries to what few quality players they had on defense.
PHILADELPHIA…Biggest question is who is more unproven, young QB-Jalen Hurts or rookie coach Nick Sirianni after a messy preseason. Fletcher Cox and his defensive friends may have to carry this team.
PITTSBURGH…Farewell season for Ben Roethlisberger? They think they have great receivers and solved the run game issues, but it is a new offensive line. The defensive front seven looks spectacular.
SAN FRANCISCO…Can Jim Garoppolo stay on the field? How long do they go before they give first round pick Trey Lance playing time? Can they keep the defense healthy? Questions abound about Kyle Shanahan as head coach too.
SEATTLE..Russell Wilson and all those receivers looks dangerous-dynamic. But every running back has had a major injury. And the defense looks like a grab bag of players wrapped around star safety Jamal Adams.
TAMPA BAY..They returned all 22-starters from last year’s Super Bowl team and tight end AJ Howard is back from injury. Fun to see how much more explosive they are in the second year of the Tom Brady-Bruce Ariens relationship.
TENNESSEE…They are coming fast, and now they add Julio Jones to the Ryan Tannehill-Derek Henry led offense. And the Mike Vrable led defense is so rugged. Might be a special season in the Music City.
WASHINGTON…What a combo, Ron Rivers and his coordinator Jack Del Rio and maybe the best defensive line in the NFL. Ryan Fitzpatrick will throw TDs and interceptions, but this could be a better team than anyone realizes.