“NFL…The Games Begin”
The NFL preseason schedule moves into high gear this weekend…sixteen games in all…starting with three on Thursday night.
Here’s a look at NFL storylines for teams and what they need to figure out over the next 3-weeks of games before we roll into September. Rating the best to worst.
CHARGERS…Use the word learning curve in every conversation about the Bolts. QB-Justin Herbert with a new, much more complex playbook, with a very different language. Life after TE-Hunter Henry. Four new offensive lineman. The move to a 3-4 defense. A new LB role for pass rusher Joey Bosa. Getting injured LBs back on the field. Replacing Casey Hayward at CB. Finding the right FG kicker. And a new unproven head coach in Brandon Staley. Is 3-weeks enough?
RAMS..Matthew Stafford brings his big arm, big attitude and big leadership qualities to a team that did not have that in the past. Must find a replacement for bright young RB-Cam Akers. The skill receivers are superb. The defense must replace DE-Michael Brockers and DBs John Johnson and Troy Hill.
CHIEFS..The high powered offense returns everyone around Patrick Mahomes, but the arrival of LT-Orlando Brown in the Ravens trade means there could be 4-new OL infront of Mahomes. Have other teams caught up to them?
TAMPA BAY…All 22-starters return and you can add the return of injured TE-OJ Howard from an Achilles. Tom Brady’s wide receiver group-amazing. Defend the throne.
BUFFALO…Josh Allen made a big jump last season, has a new contract,, adds Emmanuel Sanders at WR and has an additional pass rusher. This team is loaded.
PACKERS…They solved the Aaron Rodgers issue for the time being. Might be their final season together, but they have a talent-laden roster…and the knowledge they’ve gone (26-6) the last two years.
BROWNS..They could take the next step if they can keep their WRs on the field with Baker Mayfield. Loaded at running back, a fast defense, might be an AFC-Championship team.
SEATTLE…Russell Wilson has a new Off Coord-in Shane Waldron, has 3-healthy RBs to start the season and some WR group to throw too. Defense has age and new pieces in place. Will they mesh?
49ers…Jimmy Garoppolo starts at QB and Trey Lance may play some. They need to keep their WRs-TEs healthy to be good in a very tough division.
COLTS…A bad start to preseason with foot surgeries to Carson Wentz and Quentin Nelson, but they will be back by the first game of the season. Really good season for Jon Taylor, Michael Pittman, and of course they have Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner on defense. If Wentz gets hurt they are in trouble. They have Philip Rivers phone number.
TITANS…You add Julio Jones to the Derrick Henry-Ryan Tannehill offense…then add Bud Dupree to the Tennessee pass rush. A deep in the playoffs type- team
ARIZONA..Kyler Murray gets more help with the arrival of veteran AJ Green. The defense gets the same with the infusion of JJ Watt. Take another step forward in that NFC-West.
STEELERS…A healthy and trimmed down Ben Roethlisberger back for his 18th season. Lots of new faces in the offensive front. Najee Harris at RB. Melvin Ingram at linebacker. Might not skip a beat.
MIAMI…Tua looks so different as a second year starter than a rookie QB. Lots of young talent and athletes who can run. Some job by Brian Flores as head coach last year
DALLAS..Dak Prescott’s ailing shoulder has to be a concern, but they are so gifted in the OL and deep at WR with Zeke at RB. The only question will be how fast young guys come on defense.
SAINTS…Life after Drew Brees got more complicated with the injury issues that are plaguing WR-Michael Thomas, and the health problems in the secondary. Jameis Winston is your starting QB-and now we see what a year under Sean Payton did for his ability to make plays and not throw picks.
PATRIOTS…All eyes on Cam Newton’s second year under Josh McDaniels. Most believe Mac Jones, the rookie QB, will wind up playing too. So will the 9-veteran free agents Bill Belichick signed in the offseason. Was last year an abberation or the beginning of the end?
VIKINGS…Can they fix the deplorable defense? They have Kirk Cousins, a great RB in Dalvin Cook and quality wide receivers, can they stop anyone?
WASHINGTON..They rent Ryan Fitzpatrick for a year at QB and they have a really good defensive front, but do they have anything else? Surprised Daniel Snyder still owns the team..
DENVER…Pretty spirited QB derby begins, the veteran Ted Bridgewater vs the third year guy Drew Lock. They have skilled pass catchers, now we see if a combo of Melvin Gordon and Javante Williams can put together a huge year running the ball. The Vic Fangio-Von Miller defense, who knows?
RAIDERS…They have rebuilt the roster a third time under Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. Love the skill on offense, but it will be a new OL. Maybe Gerald McCoy makes a difference to the defense upfront. Lots of athletes, but they still have not played well together.
BEARS…Andy Dalton starts but I guarantee you they will be calling for Justin Fields at QB. The rest of the roster, who knows what they can do if you don’t get good QB play?
FALCONS…Matt Ryan meet Kyle Pitts, say goodbye to Julio Jones. They need health more than anything in Atlanta.
GIANTS…Young quarterback Daniel Jones should pass out name-tags to his offense, so many people coming and going. A 100-percent RB-Saquon Barkley would make a difference but not much of a roster.
CAROLINA…Sam Darnold..Chris McCaffrey and DJ Moore are good places to start but Coach Matt Rhule does not have enough players.
EAGLES…Jalen Hurts heads into year two after doing pretty well, but the OL just keeps having injuries and who knows if rookie coach Nick Sirianni was the right fit for the job. Wasting a great defensive front.
JAGUARS…Urban Meyer-welcome to the NFL, but understand this won’t be like Ohio State or Florida. Trevor Lawrence will be asked to survive inheriting a team that lost 15-in a row last year. They had lots of cap room and didn’t spend it. Why?
LIONS…Dan Campbell talks tough and this will be a tough season. if you could not win with Matthew Stafford, what makes you think Jared Goff will be better.
BENGALS..Joe Burrows made big plays and took a big time beating. They do have J’Marr Chase to go with Joe Mixon, but they don’t have much else. And Burrow has looked shaky in the pocket in practice coming off the knee surgery.
HOUSTON..What a mess. The Deshaun Watson situation is still unresolved. This is a team that got rid of DeAndre Hopkins and JJ Watt. They signed 33-unsigned free agents this off season. Why does this place resemble 3-Mile Island?