It is really exciting to have NFL back from this Sunday, and every Sunday until the Superbowl in February. The season has started as it always does with the teams in Training Camp.
It has been a somewhat quiet camp in the NFC West, with very few teams doing anything silly or unexpected so far. Yes there has been the odd injury and contract extension, but even the annual hold outs have petered out to nothing with players realising that proving themselves committed is as, if not more important, than depriving the team of your talents.
The biggest news from the west is that Tyrann Mathieu has signed to the biggest deal for a Safety in the League. Fully deserved of course, he was challenged by the Cardinals when drafted to prove himself and he has. Judgement is reserved at this point as to whether he is the best safety in the league – the figures simply being inflationary each new contractee getting more than the last guy – but there is no doubt he is probably the most important and versatile player on the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals took a risk on character issues in the third round and came up trumps, so many players seem to do that, Vontaze Burfict for the Bengals and to some extend Thomas Rawls in Seattle. We have yet to see how La-el Collins will work out for the Cowboys but the early signs are good. There are exceptions to the rule of course, the likes of Randy Gregory have really let themselves go. Given the risk/reward it surprises me not to see some of these types of players drafted sooner, or at least not make it to the undrafted lottery.
In LA the cameras are rolling for the next season of Hard Knock, due out next week, largely focused on the Franchise’ move from St Louis but also fixed squarely on the arm of Jared Goff. The takes around Goff are luke warm however, he has looked pretty good, with only one interception so far (as of writing). I would suggest that anything you hear or read about competition at quarterback is simply a smokescreen, gone are the days when you draft Aaron Rodgers and have him learn for a few seasons, struggling teams do not spend a number 1 pick and sit him down. I would support that by reminding you that Todd Gurley is the star running back in L.A. who will be taking a lot of pressure off the new quarterback.
San Francisco 49ers
Chip Kelly is the new coach in San Francisco and has opened up camp splitting quarterback work straight down the middle. It’s an open competition for Gabbert to follow on from a renaissance or for Kaepernick to show that his first 2 years were not a flash in the pan.
I would go one further however. Kelly as you know was the coach of the Eagles last season, focused not on the 49ers troubles but his own team. Given that Gabbert outperformed his previous play and Kaepernick struggled to live up to standards, I feel slightly that Kelly simply does not know exactly what he has in these 2 enigmas. The quarterback competition is as open as Jerry Rice in his prime,
Lastly to the Pacific North West and the Seattle Seahawks, in the midst of another Offensive Line rebuild where this year they look likely to have a new starter in every position on the line.
Things are looking rosey for new right guard and first 1st round pick in 4 years Germain Ifedi who has not once but twice stood up to premier rusher Michael Bennett and resulted in a square off between the two players. Perhaps Ifedi is playing dirty or could Bennett simply be frustrated not being able to beat the new man, either way it’s looking good for Tom Cable’s unit.
This brings me nicely to the other new player on the right of the O Line J’marcus Webb. A player who looked truly awful at right tackle for the Chicago Bears two seasons ago had a resurgence last year with the Raiders playing right guard. So please, riddle me this, why does Seattle draft a college right tackle and play him at guard, while simultaneously moving Webb back to his worse position.
Do tweet me or comment in the sections below, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Duncan is a Seahawks fan from Brighton, now living in Glasgow. You can follow Duncan on Twitter at @DuncanJTerry.