The NFL season is just days away, which we here at the USB are very thankful for as it gets tiring pumping out previews. WE WANT FOOTBALL! AND THINGS TO REVIEW! Until then, enjoy part one of our Roundtable, which features random predictions and musings on things that you may or may not care about.
1. The storyline you’re most looking forward to following during the season is…
Steve Cook: The rise of the Cincinnati Bengals and Marvin Lewis as they finally get over the hump and win a playoff game.
What, did you think I was going to say BradyGate? Johnny Manziel or Tim Tebow trying to find a team? People doing things during the National Anthem? I don’t care about these things that the NFL & ESPN try to pass off as news. Gimme football.
Dustin James: “The Tom Brady Fuck You NFL Tour”. It’s going to be amazing. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tom Brady. I’m personally a fan of watching greatness and that’s what Brady has been for the past 15 years in the NFL. Now that Brady is out for the first four games of the season due to a suspension relating to “Deflate-Gate”, the guy is going to play pissed when he comes back and it’s going to be GLORIOUS. He’s already arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, now he’s going to play with a chip on his shoulder. If you hated the Patriots before, just wait. I bet Brady comes back in week five and throws for 30 touchdowns this season and leads New England to a Super Bowl win. You thought you hated Tom Brady now?
: Josh Norman in Washington. Norman got his money, and he’s talked a lot during the offseason
about the amount of freedom he has in Washington. He has so much freedom that he’ll be doing the pregame show for FOX on gameday
. He was the best corner in the league last year, but many wonder if it was just the scheme. We’ll find out in Washington. I think Norman is a great corner, and I’m really interested to see him against Odell Beckham Jr. and
Dez Bryant twice a season.
2. The first head coach to be fired will be…
Steve Cook: In-season firings are pretty rare and usually involve people you barely remember as coaches in the first place. The Jaguars are allegedly supposed to be improved this year, and I could see their owner giving Gus Bradley the hook early on if they get off to a poor start. It’s not like he’s set the world on fire down there in the win/loss column. I’ll also mention the Titans because I don’t know why Mike Mularkey is coaching there and I wouldn’t put it past them to fire him early if he & Mariota don’t gel at all.
Dustin James: Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers. The Chargers almost fired him this past off-season which means his seat is already extremely warm. When looking at a topic like “first head coach to be fired”, you NEED to look at the NFL schedule. Why? Because that way you can get a feel for how the dominoes are going to fall into place. If a team starts out extremely shitty, there’s a better chance their head coach will get canned mid-season. I have the Chargers starting out with a 3-7 record heading into their bye week. Would that be enough to convince the Chargers to keep him around? No. He gone.
: Rumors swirled all season last year that Chuck Pagano was a goner, and then he signed a four-year deal in the offseason
. I don’t think that matters if Andrew Luck is healthy and the Colts get off to a terrible start. Pagano
isn’t my pick, though; I’m going with Jason Garrett. The Romo injury won’t be enough to save him this time.
3. One Last Ride: The player you’re most excited to see in what you believe will be his final season is…
Steve Cook: I think this could be Adrian Peterson’s last season. He made some noise during the offseason about how he would consider retiring because of the offseason work, he’s not getting any younger, and he’s still good enough that the Vikings will have him carry them on his back during this season. Especially with the Bridgewater injury, ADAP’s going to have a ton of work to do in 2016. If he carries the Vikings deep into the playoffs I can see him deciding to go out on a good (by Minnesota standards) note. And if they crash and burn I could see him saying “screw it” and going home.
Dustin James: Tom Brady. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but let’s say Brady comes back and does go on his “Fuck You NFL Tour” like I mentioned earlier and ends up leading the New England Patriots to another Super Bowl title. Brady may be tempted by retirement if that were to happen. He’s probably sick and tired of all the crap he gets from fans as well as the damage his body takes from the pains and gains of an NFL season. Another Super Bowl ring may be all it takes to convince Tom that it’s time to hang up his cleats and go hang out with Gisele on some beach where he can cut his hair however he damn well pleases. Don’t hate him because you aren’t him people.
: Steve Smith. We all thought for sure that last year was it for the wide receiver, but he wasn’t going out like no bitch. Despite his falling out with the Panthers organization, Smith remains one of my favorite players of all-time. He is ready to take no prisoners this year; I just hope the Ravens are in contention to give him one more playoff run and a shot at the Super Bowl.
4. Come up with a memorable play involving your team that could potentially happen during the season.
Steve Cook: Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict takes Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon’s head off, then takes an official’s head off after the flag is thrown.
Dustin James: It’s Super Bowl 51. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Carolina Panthers. Carolina leads by two points with 0:31 left in the game. It’s fourth and one on the 34-yard line. Chiefs could kick the field goal and risk taking the win with some time left on the clock. They run the ball. Get the first-down! But they don’t have any time-outs and Andy Reid lets the clock wind down. Chiefs lose the Super Bowl.
: Cam Newton catches a touchdown. I feel like the Panthers have tried this before, but the defense always snuffs it out and blocks Newton before he can get open. This is the year it finally works. A little reverse action to Ted Ginn, Newton finds a hole on the opposite, Ginn finds him in the endzone
. And maybe Cam will drop it just so Ginn knows how Cam feels every week.
5. Make a bold trade at the deadline.
Steve Cook: Why? Nobody in the NFL is going to.
Oh fine. After Jimmy Garoppolo has a surprisingly good four games before Tom Brady comes back, the Cowboys decide they want him. So they trade Dak Prescott & a second round pick for Garoppolo & a third round pick. Belichick uses Prescott out of the backfield as a hybrid rusher/receiver/occasional passer when Old Man Brady needs a breather. Patriots win the rest of their games. Garoppolo’s ACL bursts into a million pieces his first game in JerryWorld.
Dustin James: Jamaal Charles for Tom Brady. Here’s a scenario for you. Let’s say Jimmy Garoppolo comes out and just kills it for the Patriots. He has 12 touchdowns, 0 picks and the Patriots are 4-0 as Brady comes back from suspension. Is New England REALLY going to bench that guy? I doubt it. Is Tom Brady REALLY going to be satisfied sitting on the bench as his career winds down? I doubt it. The Kansas City Chiefs have three pretty good running backs and the tires are wearing out on Jamaal Charles. The Patriots needs a running back and Belichick would probably do amazing things if he had a player with Charles’ skills. It’s no secret that Charles would kill it in New England with that coaching staff. Going to Kansas City would give Brady a new start. Sure, the Chiefs already have a starting QB in Alex Smith, but you bench Smith if you get a player like Brady on your roster in a heartbeat. The Chiefs can get out of Smith’s contract this next off-season, so he doesn’t become a liability for long. Brady would play for the Chiefs in the final years of his career as they groom a young guy behind him. You’re welcome NFL.
Jeremy Lambert: Adrian Peterson to the Cowboys. Without Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings fall on hard times as the defense just can’t win them enough games. Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliot hasn’t quite figured out things in Dallas. With Romo coming back, Jerry knows he needs to do something drastic. He’s already fired Jason Garrett, but he needs shake things up even more. He trades his 2017 first round pick, something the Vikings desperately want after dealing theirs for Sam Bradford, and plucks Peterson from purple.