Longer than an extra-inning game at Globe Life Park on the hottest, muggiest day of the year in Arlington, TX, and more prolonged than the final minutes of a March Madness Sweet Sixteen matchup, the National Football League’s offseason is of the most grueling stretches in sports, and is the longest season of them all.
My football heart is yearning for that first, ultimately meaningless preseason kick-off. I can’t wait to watch Chad Kelly (or Paxton Lynch, we will soon find out) take 4th quarter snaps against the Bears on August 18th. Yes, it is marked on my calendar. And, hey, you’re probably looking forward to your favorite team’s first preseason game, too, don’t hide!
In the spirit of anxiousness for the classically distant upcoming NFL season, here are three storylines we can keep thinking about while we continue the countdown.
This guy was one of the most exciting athletes to watch in college football last season. Unrelated to his uncanny ability to guide an offense from an athletic perspective, he was a show. Love him or hate him, none of us ever really knew what Mayfield would do next. Undoubtedly a player with grit, he climbed the ladder from being a walk-on at Texas Tech to becoming the 1st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
But, hey, wait! All this talk about Mayfield and I almost forgot about, guess who? Tyrod Taylor. With a career line of 51 touchdowns to 18 interceptions, Taylor is a more-than-formidable fit at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
(1st overall pick QB) + (proven veteran QB) = A possible quarterback controversy?
Who reigns supreme?
How is this going to shake out in Cleveland? We won’t even begin talking numbers of wins and losses here.
Denver Bronco’s Offense
With the recent arrival of QB Case Keenum, Denver has already named its starting quarterback for the upcoming season. With a skeleton remaining of the Super Bowl 50 defense, it’s time for the offense in the Mile High City to step it up!
Named the 51st player in NFL Network’s Top 100, former Vikings QB Case Keenum hopes to improve last season’s 27th ranked offense in points (18.1 per game), and 20th ranked pass offense in yards (208.3 per game).
The last time the Broncos have had back-to-back losing seasons was from 1971 to 1972. That’s nearly 20 years longer than any other NFL franchise, as the Packers hold the second longest streak from when they suffered the same through 1990 and 1991.
With history on the line, the Broncos and new QB Case Keenum will surely look to improve.
The Rookie Running Back
You might wonder why I didn’t pick “The Rookie Quarterback” as a headline here instead. Despite there being five quarterbacks taken in the first round of this year’s draft, and one of my other Way-Too-Early Headlines including the first one taken of them all, I would argue that apart from Baker Mayfield and his unique situation, a headline of this nature will be better suited for next year.
After seeing Jared Goff’s monumental step forward from his rookie year to his sophomore season, let’s wait for the next grueling offseason to address these rookie pigskin throwers. Until then, back to the Running Back Renaissance we go!
Young ball carriers and defensive players, like Rams RB Todd Gurley and Saints RB Alvin Kamara are changing the game as we know it. As offenses have spread out through the air and defenses have adapted, bruisers have become a hot commodity that can exploit these changes. Multi-talented backs who can also continue to make an impact in the passing game are even more valuable.
I haven’t yet mentioned the League’s rushing leader of last season, the Chiefs’ third-round selection out of Toledo, RB Kareem Hunt, who ran for 1327 yards, and added another 455 receiving yards.
Who will it be in 2018?
Who Reigns supreme in Cleveland? Will Case Keenum hold the key to returning to the Broncos’ historically winning ways? And will the Running Back Renaissance prevail? We have a few months left before we begin to find out.