By: Monte Perez
The NFL Season is right around the corner. There were a lot of changes this off-season. Here are 10 things to watch for in the pre-season:
10) What will the Eagles do at quarterback?
Chip Kelly is an offensive genius, he is also known as the “Quarterback Whisperer” but can he work wonders with this lineup? Not one of his QB’s in camp, have had long term success.
Mark Sanchez: 82 touchdown passes, 80 inteceptions and a 56.3 career completion percentage.
Sam Bradford: 59 touchdown passes, 38 interceptions and a 58.6 career completion percentage.
Tim Tebow: 17 touchdown passes, 9 inteceptions and a 47.9 career completion percentage.
9) Can Pittsbugh’s defense match their high powered offense?
Ben Roethlisberger finished the season tied for 1st in passing yards (4,592), Le’Veon Bell finished 2nd in rushing yards (1,361) and Antonio Brown, led the NFL in recieving yards (1,698). No disrespect to the Dallas Cowboys last year, but… The Steelers had the best “Big 3” in football. The problem with Pittsburgh last year was defensive. They finished 18th in yards per game, 18th in points per game and 27th in passing yards allowed. For Pittsburgh to get back to an elite team their defensive must improve.
8) Can Jimmy Graham make the Seattle Seahawks offense elite?
Seattle signing Graham was the best off-season move in the NFL. We know Seattle has an elite defense and running game and now they have the best TE in the league. In 5 years with the New Orleans Saints, Graham caught 386 passes for 4,752 yards and 51 touchdowns. He is the best “RedZone player in the NFL and Russell Wilson should thrive with Graham as his “Go-to” guy. If Wilson and Graham establish a chemistry on the field, it could be lights out for the rest of the NFC.
7) Can Rex Ryan evolve as a coach?
The Buffalo Bills hired Ryan this off-season to be their head coach. Ryan spent 6 years as the Jets coach and compiled a 46-50 record. Up until this point in his career, Ryan has emulated his father Buddy Ryan. Rex still believes in “Ground and Pound” in a vertical passing league. The Bills had an elite defense last year and they should be just as good this year. Ryan has added LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia and has a young, talented wide reciever in Sammy Watkins. For Rex to have any type of success he has to focus more on offense or this will be his last head coaching job in the NFL.
6) Will RGIII ever be an elite quarterback?
Robert Griffin III won Rookie of the year in 2012.. Since that time he has gone through a slew of injuries and controversy. If there ever was a quarterback who needed a good pre-season, it is Griffin. This should be a make or break year for him. All eyes in Washington will be on him during these few games.
5) Where does Johnny Manziel go from here?
Manziel has had a rocky start to his pro career. When he was drafted, I wrote an article titled ” Why Manziel will never be an elite quarterback in the NFL.” I still believe that to this day. Manziel is undersized, has average speed (Andrew Luck ran a faster 40 time) and has an average arm in a cold weather division. I would be very suprised if Manziel is on the Browns roster a few years from now.
4) Is this Tom Coughlin last pre-season with the New York Giants?
Coughlin has won 2 Super Bowls as the Giants head coach ( 2007 and 2011), both times New York defeated the favored New England Patriots. The Giants haven’t made the playoffs in 5 out of the last 6 years and this is Coughlin’s last year under contract. Although the Giants struggled in 2014, the team never quit on him. I think that, coupled with their new offensive coordinator,Ben McAdoo having success, made it easy for the organization to keep Tom for another year. If the Giants struggle early, he will be on the hot seat.
3) Can Peyton Manning lead the Broncos on one last Super Bowl run?
When a MLB pitcher starts to lose his fastball he can adjust and do other things. He can throw a curve, a slider, a changeup etc. What can Manning do to drastically improve he’s fading arm? If you watched the playoff game last year against the Colts, Indianapolis dared manning to throw over the top and he couldn’t do it. It will be interesting to see how many defenses crowd the line of scrimmage and force Manning to throw deep. I expect Manninng to be in the best shape of his career and try to establish a deep passing attack early on.
2) Are the Jets Geno Smith’s team?
The Jets had one of the best off-season out of any team in the NFL. They hired Todd Bowles as their head coach, drafted DL, Leonard Williams, and WR, Devon Smith. They signed DB,Darrelle Revis, DB,Antonio Cromartie, RB, Zac Stacy and WR, Brandon Marshall. All the pieces are in place for this team to make a run at the playoffs. If Smith can’t struggles early look for the Jets to insert Ryan Fitzpatrick and ultimately 4th round pick Bryce Petty.
1) What Rookie quarterback will change a team’s future?
Last year’s AFC and NFC Championship games had Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. Elite quarterbacks win in today’s NFL. Jameis Winston was selected by the Tampa Bucs with the #1 overall pick and Marcus Mariota was drafted #2 by the Tennessee Titans. I think Winston is set up to win now because Tampa has better skill players. Mike Evans had 68 receptions and 12 touchdowns in his rookie year. Long term, I like Mariota as a much better quarterback. He has tremendous upside and there has never been a quarterback with his size, (6’4 225lbs) his speed (4.4 40-yard dash) and accuracy (66.8 % at Oregon). Both are young and will make mistakes but Mariota has the tools to be an all time great.
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