Can you feel the love?
The NFL returned to a sports community in dire need of its presence. At times it looked as if the season would be shortened if there was going to be one at all. But in the end, I believe the players and owners both walked away satisfied and able to see eye to eye one some things and a mutual respect for the players that preceeded them.
With the future of the NBA in worse shape than David Stern cares to admit, the country’s most popular sport returned with free agency as it’s first order of business. As the NFL returns, so does the weekly Q&A…
1. Will missed OTAs and time to get “hands on” in a new system hamper Cam Newton in his rookie campaign?
Thank goodness for DeAngelo Williams re-signing with the Panthers. The most important lesson for Newton this year will be game management – minimizing turnovers and mistakes will be his short term goals. Of course there will be times when his playmaking ability will surface, the rub here is to allow it to come in the flow of the game. He has the luxury of two quality backs in Williams and Jonathan Stewart and an above average offensive line. The addition of a veteran tight end like Jeremy Shockey is invaluable for any QB especially a rookie. The Panthers have to either re-sign or move wideout Steve Smith and give Newton two more quality targets.
2. Have the New England become the NFL’s Home for Wayward Souls?
It seemed to work for Corey Dillon and Randy Moss, so why should I expect Albert Haynesworth’s New England Experience to be any less productive. The Pats sent the Washington Redskins a fifth rounder in the 2013 draft to acquire the best defensive tackle in the game. Haynesworth is coming to the Patriots after a tumultuous season in Washington under Mike Shanahan. He is well aware of the tight ship they run in Foxboro and pairing up with Vince Wilfork in possible 4-3 schemes poses the question; will the Pats defense give up 500 yards on the ground this season?
3. This could be anything but a last hurrah for Donovan McNabb in Minnesota.
Donovan McNabb is out to prove that last season in Washington was no more than a hiccup on what I hope is a road to Canton. The Teflon Don’s mettle was tested once again in the form of the aforementioned Mike Shanahan. McNabb was benched, had his conditioning and intelligence called into question and was pretty much told not to worry about playing after Week 14. If I didn’t know better I would’ve thought Rush Limbaugh was manning the controls in D.C. In Minnesota things will be different, he has arguably the NFL’s best back in Adrian Peterson, a reliable red zone target in Visanthe Shiancoe and an explosive young talented receiver in Percy Harvin. The Vikes took a huge blow in losing go-to guy Sidney Rice and seem to be about $5 million over the $120 million cap. If the Vikings can free up some cash they may be able to pursue an primary wide receiver.
McNabb to Moss maybe…
4. Are the Eagles prepared for a DeSean Jackson holdout?
Financially they are. If Jackson chooses to hold out the Birds have the cap space to bring in a significant receiver. From a PR standpoint this could be a potential nightmare of T.O. proportions. With Drew Rosenhaus representing Jackson this could be an ugly negotiation that drags out. The Eagles have brought in some speedy young backs/return men to either lessen the wear and tear on Jackson when he returns or as a contingency plan if he to holds out. I think a deal will get done, but it will be agonizing to watch.
5. Where will Vince Young land?
Possible destinations include Buffalo, Miami or wherever Kyle Orton doesn’t end up. The starting market won’t be high on Young thanks to former coach Jeff Fisher all but sabotaging the man’s career from day one. Young will get off the mat and resume his career. That opportunity may come in Philadelphia, Young would be in a learning situation under Andy Reid while still being allowed to use his athletic ability. Despite playing a backup role to Michael Vick, Young could be a solid backup when called upon.