2018 NFL Regular Season Recap

 Marcus Peters flexing after signing to the LA Rams. (Rams Wire)
Marcus Peters flexing after signing to the LA Rams. (Rams Wire)

By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com

Yet another season of surprising endings and recording breaking performances in the National Football League ends. We’ve seen players retire mid-way through the season as well as first-year players dazzle us with their remarkable talents. Prior to the season beginning, we posted our list of Top 10 stories which we going to keep an eye on throughout this season.

As we all know, each season presents its own set of storylines, this article will review our previously listed storylines for this season in contrast what actually happened during this season. Going into the season these were my top storylines;

9) 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.

Going into the Season most of us were wondering where would be the landing spot for Dez Bryant? Most of us would still like to have seen what Dez Bryant could’ve brought to that already potent New Orleans Saints offense. Unfortunately, we would never get to see that, as Dez tore his Achilles in his first week of practice as a Saint.

8) 2007 was the last time the Except for 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.

Edelman’s absence apparently didn’t have much impact because the Patriots have earned the #2 seed in the AFC East and a first-round bye; again. The bigger story for the Patriots may have been them acquiring talented WR Josh Gordon from the Cleveland Browns early in the season. After a few big games, rumor has it that Gordon removed himself from the team before receiving an additional suspension for violating league’s substance abuse policies.

7) 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’s personal conduct policy. Though this may not be correctly placed on the morality list, this list simply ranks this specific storyline in comparison to other NFL offseason storylines.

Jameis’ suspension ended up not hurting his team, as his replacement Ryan Fitzpatrick got off to such a sizzling start that many, including the Buccaneers, truly considered separating from Jameis Winston all together. Due to the dearth ineffective NFL quarterbacks in the league, the Buccaneers would be best

suited to keep Jameis for yet another season, and maybe a new head coach would benefit Winston and the inconsistent Buccaneers offense.

6) 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 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.

Neither of these rules has impacted the games more than the way these flags have been thrown on defenders touching or tackling the quarterback. In their false interest of protecting the players, the league has made it a point to protect quarterbacks across the league. Many of the flags we’ve seen thrown on players tackling QB’s have been absurd!

5) 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.

Though Cardinals QB Josh Rosen and Dolphins Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick showed glimpses of the ability to play on the NFL stage, Saquon Barkley has truly impressed the Giants and their fans in his rookie

season. Rushing for over 1,100 yards while gaining over 650 receiving yards is everything the Giants anticipated. However, I nor the NFL expected Indianapolis Colts Linebacker Darius Leonard to steal the show as he has changed the persona of said Colts defense. So much so, Leonard deserves the Rookie of the Year award! Though not listed, Baker Mayfield had an impressive rookie season once he was inserted into the starting line-up, leading the Browns to their most wins in 4 seasons.

4) There have been multiple intriguing free agent signings that have captured the minds of NFL fans. The Green Bay Packers signing of 5-time Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham has NFL fans imagining Graham doing the Lambeau leap multiple times per game with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to him.

By gaining just over 600 yards in an initial season with the Green Bay Packers. Graham’s 2 touchdowns had little to no impact for the Green Bay Packers. Firing their head coach midway through the season and failing to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season didn’t assist his situation either.

3) 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 little 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.

Alex Smith, unfortunately, suffered a horrific leg injury midway through the season, and so went the playoff hopes for their football team. Case Keenum didn’t fare any better this season as his Denver Broncos failed to make the playoffs as well. After being paid the most lucrative contract in the history of the NFL, Kirk Cousins also failed to lead his Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs this past season.

2) The health of Andrew Luck is a major concern for the Indianapolis Colts. Having sat out, all 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.

Though he got off to a slow start, Luck played himself into shape and was end old form by mid-season. Not only did Luck lead the Colts to the playoffs, but they also earned double-digit wins for the first time in 3 seasons. Luck also finished his season with his highest competition percentage of his career.

1) The most notable Free Agent additions of Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to the Los Angeles Rams has to be the biggest storyline of the NFL offseason. After winning the NFC West last season, they add 3 Pro Bowlers to this already potent team, in an effort to get them over the hump and into the 2019 Superbowl.

As expected, the Rams offense proved to be potent much of the season… the defense, after acquiring the guys they did in the offseason, hasn’t been as impressive as anticipated. Aaron Donald played at his traditional all-world pace though that Rams defense gave up their most points in 8 seasons. They did earn a first-round bye in the playoffs by winning their division and having the second-best record in the conference.

Le’Veon Bell sitting out the entire season was a complete surprise to me and probably should’ve led our list, though I never would’ve thought a player would willingly sit out an entire season over a contract dispute. Other noteworthy stories included Vontae Davis retiring at halftime, Kareem Hunt get expelled from the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback from that same Chiefs backfield and favorite to win the NFL MVP, light up the league like few others have before! Please let me know your thoughts on our recap of our Top Storyline of the NFL Season by commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or reaching out to us on twitter @whatsgoodinsports.