Top NFL Storylines Heading into Week One of the NFL Season
By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
Labor Day in America signifies the end of summer for most of the country. As kids also return to school, about this same time networks will begin their new episodes for the season and most importantly to a football fan like myself, all this means football season is here. Training Camps have concluded around the league rosters have been paired down and teams are making their final preparations for the season to begin.
Though we did this last month enough things have changed, around the league in recent weeks, to warrant a recap of my Top Storylines going into this season. Whether it’s from the trades, injuries or free agent signings this article I will present my, updated list of the Top 10 storylines for this upcoming NFL season, which I plan to follow up on intently;
10) Have we seen the last of Dez Bryant? As of now, this former 1st round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys and 3-time Pro Bowl is a free agent, after being cut in April of this year. There’s no doubt Bryant can still be a productive receiver in the league, though it appears his reputation may be preceding him causing teams to shy away from him.
9) As he entered the NFL, most of any concerns were due to his potential off the field behavior. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2015 1st overall draft pick Jameis Winston reached the Pro Bowl in his initial season, the Buccaneers have yet to reach the playoff under his leadership and the Buccaneers brass fears were realized once Winston was recently suspended for 3 games for violating the league personal conduct policy. How they do without Jameis, will likely tell us if he worth the headache in Tamp Bay.
8) 2007 was the last time the New England Patriots dazzled their competition with great receivers. Though they do a great job in finding a certain type of receiver to excel in their lineup, the return of Julian Edelman was certainly someone they were looking to have back in their lineup. However, Edelman will be serving a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy during his rehabilitation.
7) Adrian Peterson is back! The Washington football team has invited him into training camp due to the 2 injuries they suffered to their young backfield. Was AP given a raw deal in New Orleans last season; was Arizona a good spot for him last season; or does he have anything left in the tank? These are among the questions circling around the Adrian Peterson signing for the Washington football team.
6) Each year we enjoy seeing which rookie acclimate themselves best in the NFL. A few of the rookies we will be keeping a keen eye on early is;
– #2 draft pick Penn State Running Back Saquon Barkley will be filling a void the Giants will have for many years now. It will be exciting to see how Barkley compliments Eli Manning and meshes with Odell Beckham Jr…
– The Arizona Cardinals drafted former UCLA Bruin Josh Rosen to be their franchise quarterback. Rosen will have a lot of talent around him and be given every opportunity to succeed in this very tough division. It will be interesting to see how far he can lead the Arizona Cardinals this season.
– With the 11th pick of the NFL draft, The Miami Dolphins drafted 6’0” 204 lbs. Alabama Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to pair him with current Safety Rashad Jones. This pick is expected to have an immediate impact by bringing awareness and toughness to the previously porous defense.
5) Earlier this year at the owner’s meetings the NFL owners have implemented new rules for this upcoming season. A few rule changes of note are;
– A 15-yard penalty for lowering head to initiate, make contact with helmet…? This rule is so vague that this is sure to cause confusion among offensive and defensive players alike. Because this happens on nearly every play, it will be interesting to see how this rule will this be enforced. Or to what level will the officials will try to emphasize this rule.
– There’s a revised standard for a catch. Gone is the “survive the ground” requirement. Now a receiver must control the ball, establish himself in bounds and perform a football move – such as a third step or a lunge to make a catch legal. So many of those catches we knew to be a catch then, would now be a catch. A few of those controversial ‘non-catches’ that would be a catch this season are the 2010 Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson reversed TD play, the Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant 2014 catch called no catch, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Jesse James reversed TD catch late in the 2017 season.
– The NFL has granted permission for the command center to eject players. Player ejections can now be ordered by Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron of a player who has been penalized for a non-football act such as punching or fighting. Via his wireless microphone connection with referees Riveron will have the option to step in and demand an ejection on questions plays or cheap shots.
4) It’s not often that we’ve seen productive playoff quarterbacks switch teams simultaneously. Cousins, Keenum and Alex Smith were among the free agent quarterbacks to switch teams this offseason. Kirk Cousins joining the Minnesota Vikings will be just as interesting as Case Keenum joining the Denver Broncos or Alex Smith joining the Washington football team. There’s doubt that Kirk is walking into the best situation and yet the toughest situation because it’s Superbowl or bust for the Vikings seeing as how they made the NFC Championship last season.
3) Once the Rams made Donald the richest defensive player in the league, the Raiders were the only team left with a holdout from Training Camp. Though the Raiders came up with $100 million dollars to sign John Gruden as their Head Coach, for whatever reason they decided to trade one of the leagues best defenders in the league for a couple 1st round draft picks. Though the Bears get one heck of a football player in Khalil Mack, as he is the only player in history to be named All-Pro in two different positions in the same season, the Raiders should be ashamed of themselves for not signing their best player on the team.
2) The health of Andrew Luck remains a major concern for the Indianapolis Colts. Having sat out, all of last season, the Colts brass, and the NFL fans are waiting to see if Luck is healthy enough to reclaim his position as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and lead the Colts back to the playoffs. He did get a chance to work out the kinks during Pre-Season, it will be very interesting to see how he comes out in Week 1.
1) Now that the Los Angeles Rams have signed Aaron Donald, to the richest contract at the time, they have seemingly pushed all their chips to the center of the table. With their recent Free Agent additions of Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, the Los Angeles Rams have to be one of the league favorites going and the biggest storyline of the NFL offseason. After winning the NFC West last season, they add 3 Pro Bowlers to this already potent team… they have to be playing with legitimate Superbowl aspirations.
Now that training camps have wrapped around the league, teams have narrowed down their team to get under the 53-man roster limitations. Teams will now be reviewing game plans for the upcoming week.
Storylines will surely arise through the season, though these are the storylines I will watch. Which storylines have caught your attention, or what player are you looking forward to seeing ball out this season. Let us know What’s Good, by sharing your thoughts and feedback in the comment section below at www.whatsgoodinsports.com