Fans of the National Football League are getting ready to wake up because their long offseason nap is about to come to an end. NFL Training camps open this week, as rookies come in to experience their first camp. Veterans report next week and the preseason kicks off one week later. Canton, Ohio the venue and the Hall of Fame enshrinement the event, The Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will get the exhibition season underway Aug. 3. Today, Gildshire Magazines looks at the top questions on the minds of football fans as NFL training camps get underway.
1. Is There Any Hope, At All, for San Francisco 49ers’ Fans? “Colin Kaepernick drops back to pass. He throws for Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone and it’s…incomplete. The Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl.” Is it possible that was just 2012? Since then, the 49ers have gone from elite to smelly feet. The public fallout between 49ers’ management and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was unfortunate and unseemly. Without Harbaugh’s guidance, the draft picks have been poor and the play on the field has been nothing short of ridiculous. How bad has it gotten? Vegas sportsbooks are predicting four or fewer wins for the once proud Prospectors. Training camp would be a good time to catch lightning in a bottle.
2. How Will the Los Angeles Rams Perform Under New Leadership? For a time, NFL fans in Los Angeles were just happy to be there, watching pro football in their town. That only lasts for so long. The new car smell has worn off the L.A. Rams, and now their fans would like to see some winning football. Offensively, Jared Goff has been given the keys to the car. How well he drives it will depend on his abilities and his relationship with new offensive coordinator Sean McVay. Defensively, Los Angeles is making the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment. It is a change that can take some time to jell.
3. Who Will Tote the Rock for the New Orleans Saints? Fans in The Big Easy know what to expect when the Saints go marching into the Mercedes Dome. Drew Brees will set passing records and the ball will be in the air most of the time. Head Coach Sean Payton knows his team needs a running game, in addition to Brees’ highlight reel. “Who Dat” gonna run that ball? Incumbent Mark Ingram is more than capable and Alvin Kamara has an impressive skill set, but it is the acquisition of Adrian Peterson that has Saints’ fans most intrigued. Can A.P. be the main guy? If so, whither Mark Ingram?
4. Can the Denver Broncos Fill Their Quarterback Needs? One might say the Denver Broncos deserve a few years in the doldrums. After all, they had John Elway and then Peyton Manning. Isn’t that enough? Broncos’ fans counter with, “Weren’t you watching during the Brian Griese and Tim Tebow years?” For the last 20 years, the penthouse or the outhouse is the story of the Broncos and their quarterbacks. Last year, both Trevor Semian and Paxton Lynch took snaps in the Mile High City. They weren’t dreadful, but “not dreadful” won’t get it done in a division that includes Kansas City and Oakland.
5. Can the Cleveland Browns…(Fill in the Blank): The Cleveland Browns can reliably be expected to land on this list every year when NFL training camps open. If it isn’t the ownership it’s the Head Coach. If it isn’t the playoff drought (now at 16 years) it’s the consecutive years with a losing record (nine and counting). As Rosanne Roseannadanna said, “It’s always something.” This year’s stable of quarterbacks includes decent throwers (Cody Kessler) and QB’s with perceived potential (DeShone Kizer). Neither of them will join Johnny “Football” Manziel in irons at the local police station. That is progress if you love the Browns. There are questions in the defensive backfield and at wide receiver, but at least they are football questions, and not questions of moral and legal turpitude. Now, that IS progress.
NFL training camps are a time to sort out the questions your team has today and deal with the inevitable questions that will arise.