AFC East

AFC East

Speaking of which, season preview edition…

Speaking of which, season preview edition…
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In recent years, I’ve begun to listen more to the growing chatter regarding the NFL preseason – too many games, too many injuries, too expensive, too many roster invitees, camps are too remote…

Bunk. All of it.

In the context of good, entertaining football, the preseason hardly qualifies. Watching a bunch of barely-trained athletes trying to demonstrate their knowledge of a new and more complicated playbook is akin to a sandpaper massage – it starts off interesting, then gets more and more uncomfortable the deeper it gets. It’s generally not good football, and if it is, it means your starters are playing far too long and are probably at risk of injury.

But be honest – what’s the preseason really for? The prevailing theory is it’s to develop and analyze players for roster construction purposes. This often involves sifting through bad football; sometimes hours, even days of it. So if you’re bummed about the preseason and feel like you’re wasting your time watching it, you probably are…because it’s not meant for you. The fact that all of the preseason is broadcast on several networks is only indicative of more NFL greed; instead of yelling about its existence or how bad the games are, try changing the channel or, dare I say, turning off the television. The games will go on with or without you, and I suspect you won’t really notice or care if that UDFA RB from Texas Christian ruptures his Achilles tendon on a meaningless fourth quarter carry. Speaking of which…

Now that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has signed, do we expect the Chargers to cave to RB Melvin Gordon’s holdout demands? I can’t say I do. Gordon severely overplayed his hand, as he has little leverage due to effective depth at the position and an organization that seems united in not giving in to Gordon’s flimsy, ill-advised demands. I’d expect a reunion around Week 5, as Gordon will have effectively written off the season (and his marketability elsewhere) if his holdout continues beyond that. Speaking of which…

Redskins starting LT Trent Williams is waffling about not returning to Washington, and although he has “hand” in this scenario, missed game checks – he’ll miss Week One at least – speak loudly. News of his stance has been murky, so any trade discussions (assuming there were any) remain classified for now unless they come to fruition. Speaking of which…

The last couple of years, former Steelers Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell both effectively disrupted their team’s chances through poor attitudes and outsized egos (Jets and Raiders fans, best of luck), yet both ultimately got what they wanted – higher salaries and a chance to play elsewhere sooner than their respective contracts dictated. Add in Elliott’s new deal and the Texans’ bizarre trade of Jadeveon Clowney, and one wonders if we’re witnessing a whole new negotiating ploy on the part of the NFLPA, who reportedly is assembling a host of new issues to discuss at the next league CBA meetings, which should be commencing within the next year. The fight over player movement tactics figures to be particularly bloody, as the root of it seems to be based on the current rookie salary structures and guaranteed money considerations. I suspect the league is in real jeopardy of a work stoppage by 2021 if reasonable people don’t take control and actually negotiate something. This isn’t Congress, folks – figure it out. Speaking of which…

Former 49ers QB and White House scapegoat Colin Kaepernick remains in the news mostly for not being in the news. Kaepernick, whose notoriety stemmed from his taking a knee during the National Anthem as a protest against police brutality towards minorities, hasn’t worked in the NFL for three years, but he’s been referenced several times this offseason for just that reason. “Why aren’t we talking about Colin Kaepernick anymore?” has been asked more than once, usually by local beat writers of quarterback-challenged teams. I’m guessing we won’t see him signed by anyone – ever – due simply to his extended time off and not his politics. Speaking of which…

The aforementioned Le’Veon Bell has been vocal in expressing his desire for his new team to play well. It’ll be interesting to see if Bell, who did not play in the preseason and all of last season, has suffered any dropoff in his game. Jets head coach Adam Gase seems wowed by Bell’s abilities, so it remains to be seen whether he’s as effective with a heavier wallet and an extra year on his waistline. Speaking of which…

RIP to LeSean McCoy’s meaningful NFL existence. In the end, the Bills seem to have decided that McCoy’s on-field worth simply didn’t match his paycheck and cut him unceremoniously. McCoy signed with the Chiefs as a stopgap measure, but at age 31, it’s tough to imagine him having any significant impact to a team’s fortunes, let alone on a roster as loaded as the Chiefs’. Go easy, Shady. Maybe you have one last act in you. Speaking of which…

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was widely chided for his comments regarding teammates on his radio show last fall, has decided to issue a moratorium of sorts regarding discussions of former teammate Antonio Brown. This is a smart move by Roethlisberger, who has done himself no favors throughout his career when offering criticism and has fared far better when staying positive, as he seems to be doing in the link above. I’ve thought many times Ben would be better off shutting up and playing football; he seems to finally think so as well. Speaking of which…

Browns QB Baker Mayfield appears primed to have an excellent season, but he needs to work on his vocal filter a bit. Mayfield is developing a reputation for being brutally honest in his press responses. This makes him a magnet for reporters and a constant league irritant, where the NFL expects saintly, sanctimonious pressers, even if they’re nothing more than a hodge-podge of badly timed cliches, couched with a lot of ya-knows and see-what-I’m-sayins. Keep it up, Baker. Don’t let these softies silence you. Speaking of which…

The Bengals have been silenced. I don’t mean in an actual way; they’re welcome to approach the press, social media, whomever they choose with…something. Anything. While the Bengals have never been a loud, press-hungry organization, this offseason was remarkably subdued, perhaps due to the dearth of talent on the current roster. The Bengals just re-signed longtime scatback Giovani Bernard, but I bet you all weren’t aware of that. In truth, I wasn’t either. Speaking of which…

Rumors abound in Baltimore, where new offensive coordinator Greg Roman looks to capitalize on a solid preseason from starting QB Lamar Jackson, but no one outside the locker room seems sure what that will look like. Granted, the preseason is never a good time to reveal details about the composition of a team or their game plans, but we’ve heard Jackson will run “maybe more than 17 times a game” (head coach John Harbaugh) but also attempt “over 30 passes a game” (Jackson). It’s going to be exceedingly difficult to do both, especially with a QB that hasn’t exactly established a presence through the air. Settle down, Lamar and John. It’s a long season.

Enjoy!

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