Football is back! Well not really back, we still sloughing through the barrage of fake football that the NFL has tricked us into believing matters. Either way, for pigskin starved fans this is a glimmer of hope, an oasis in the desert of a summer owned by baseball. With that in mind, allow me to regale you with a couple of wildly speculative observations grounded in little more than training camp reports and early series of the 1st week of preseason games.
What does a New England Patriots defense do which lost both its starting cornerbacks and Mr. Patriot Vince Wilfork?
Stop Aaron Rodgers on all three of his drives by stoning the run, swarming to the football, and playing mistake free football. When you have less talent, its calls for greater discipline in terms of adherence to the schemes from the coordinator. Is that not what the Patriots have always been known for? Well it was on full display Thursday night.
Friends! How many of us have them?
Jimmy Grappolo does, and he is going to need them. With the supposed loss of the golden boy for four games, Grappolo was aided by the likes of running back Jonas Gray and a suffocating defense that will help ease his transition and limit mistakes by the young signal caller. Bill Belichik is going to have to employ some creative play calling that simplifies the offense for Jimmy “Gatling Gun” Grappolo, much like he did for Matt Cassel in a season that had the Patriots win double digit games.
PS. Jimmy “Gatling Gun” Grappolo is not a nickname that’s actually a thing yet. I really want to make it a thing however, so can we collectively make that happen?!
Johnny Football is BACK!
And by back I mean taking into account the sliding scale of expectations that is now more just rooting for Manziel to be at the most, an intriguing backup quarterback at this stage in his development. The former Heisman Trophy winner had a solid preseason debut that showed flashes of why he won the aforementioned award given to college football’s most outstanding player. Mr. Money Sign has returned with increased focus and an attitude tempered by the humbling gauntlet he went through. That being said, I feel it must be stated I am going to miss the money sign, I have always been on the side of the brash and talented as it seems to upset the old guard.
The Saints are going to have trouble replacing production on offense
Thank you Captain Obvious, of course you cannot replace possibly the best TE in football in Jimmy Graham. But Jimmy Graham is merely the tip of the iceberg. What do you have when you lose your tight end, number 2 WR in Kenny Stills, and are left with an aging Marques Colston and unproven Brandin Cooks? Problems.
The marriage between Marcus Mariota and Ken Whisenhunt is going to prove to be an effective one
This is not so much in regards to Marcus Mariota’s performance on Friday night, but more so the way Whisenhunt (a runner of a classic “pro-style” offense) clearly adjusted has molded his offense to fit the skills of the kid from University of Oregon. From the spread play action pass on his first completion to the heavy reliance on the run game and moving the pocket to take advantage of Mariota’s agility, this joining of new school and new school principals seems to be off to a promising start.
Marcus Mariota had his first pick ever in a Titan’s uniform on national T.V. because he has not thrown one all of training camp yet. However, trained eyes would see that the interception was really the fault of the running back that was not where he should have been on the screenplay.
In the Titans receivers, you have a talented group with a nice mix of veteran and young talent that has the chance to be really special. The one most to be excited about is one, Dorial Greene-Beckham, the resident Calvin Johnson clone for boys from Nashville. If DGB can get over the early hurdles he has faced in camp, namely simple drops and mental mistakes, he has a chance to be really special.
Temper Jameis Winston expectations for this season
This is greatly in regards to the porous offensive line he will be operating behind, as Saturday saw the wunderkind from Florida State deal with protection issues all night.
To aid their first round picks cause, it would behoove the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ staff to limit the down field throws as a plethora of five and seven step drops could result in the unfortunate reality of Mike Glennon getting snaps due to Winston Injury. In addition, moving the pocket around to hinder the defense from keying off on their prized rookie would also a boon to his ability to stay upright and be effective.
You can follow the life and times of Jotham Kabuye @jothamkabuye