As we get down to the point where we can start counting down to the NFL season in hours or even minutes, I find myself constantly looking at the upcoming season from every different angle. It will be a very good thing when the season finally gets underway, because then I can’t start looking at what actually happens instead of driving myself crazy thinking about what might happen. Until then, though, all I can do is ask questions I can’t answer. Here are ten of those questions that keep coming back to the top of my mind:
1. Does 0-4 matter? – The Patriots were absolutely brutal in the preseason. If I thought that that mattered then I would be worried about the team that are still assumed to be the class of the AFC. It’s not that simple, of course. Bill Belichick has an almost irrational disdain for the preseason, and his star quarterback has been missing in action. It would be easy to read between the lines and see brewing troubles in football paradise, but ts too early to do that yet. Isn’t it?
2. How long will public insanity last with the Jets? – I don’t have a lot of interest in how Brett Favre will do with the Jets. I’m bored by the story, and I’m sure he’ll look like what he is – a hall of famer surrounded by unfamiliar talent who is at the head of a decent team which will never be mistaken for a really good one. What I do want to know, though, is how long it is going to take for the public honeymoon with the team to wear off. Until Favre is viewed mostly as just another quarterback then the public won’t be obective about the Jets and the lines might be out of whack. The novelty factor is just annoying.
3. How’s it go, Joe? – The Joe Flacco situation in Baltimore is truly bizarre. Halfway through camp he was clearly the third stringer as he should be given his relative inexpereince (the guy didn’t even play division one ball). But then Boller got hurt and so did Smith. Now Flacco has to start the season as the man, and we have to figure out just how bad that could be. There’s not a lot of reason to be optimistic about this rookie quarterback class right now. Matt Ryan has looked good, but that’s about it. Brian Brohm couldn’t beat out Matt Flynn for the backup position in Green Bay, Chad Henne has done okay, but the Dolphins weren’t ready to trust him yet, and Andre Woodson was cut loose by the Giants in a stunning fall from grace. Those guys were in the same conversations as Flacco, so it makes sense that their lack of success, and the lack of eye-popping performance from Flacco, should make us uneasy about the start of the year in Baltimore.
4. How about Merriman’s knee? – I really have no interest in the debate over whether Shawne Merriman is doing the right thing in playing through his injury instead of getting surgery. My instinct would be to get it, but then I don’t know what the knee feels like, and I have never been a world class linebacker working towards a massive new contract, so my opinion is worthless. I am interested in two things about the story, though – will the situation negatively impact the Chargers’ defense, and will it provide a meaningful distraction for the team now and in the future?
5. Is JaMarcus Russell for real? – I find it odd that there isn’t much buzz about Russell considering he is a former number one pick about to take over his team. He gets talked about, but not as much as some players. Maybe that’s because I’m far from the only one who doesn’t have a good feeling about him. The team around him just isn’t that good, and last year and in the preseason he hasn’t done much to make us think that he will be able to overcome that. He should be helped by having a good running game to rely on, but I get the sense ths could be a long year for the boys in black.
6. Can Adrian Peterson get better? – Peterson was the most exciting part of the season last year. Things could go two ways from here. She could get even better and move towards hs goal or 2,000 yards in a season. Or injuries, opponents’ familiarity, and offensive line issues could conspire to make this year look worse than last year. How he does will go a long way to determining how well the Vikings do.
7. Will the Colts be good? – It’s partly because I really want it to be true, but I can’t get over this sense I have that this could be the year the Colts take a step backwards. Tony Dungy doesn’t seem entirely committed to football, there are obvious questions around Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison isn’t Marvin Harrison anymore, the running game is unsettled – there are just a lot of reasons to think that this team might not be as good as expected.
8. Will the Chiefs win a game? – Probably, but I sure wouldn’t bet on it happening often.