32 issues we discovered heading into the 2021 NFL common season


The 32 issues we discovered from the NFL’s 2021 offseason:

1. These Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the primary crew within the wage cap period (since 1994) – and first for the reason that 1977 Oakland Raiders – to return their complete Tremendous Bowl lineup intact … and that does not embody WR Antonio Brown, TE O.J. Howard, rookie OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and RB Gio Bernard. The desk could not be set any higher for the Bucs to turn out to be the ninth crew, and first since Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004, to tug off the Lombardi Trophy repeat.

2. In the meantime, the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs search to turn out to be the fourth crew to succeed in three consecutive Tremendous Bowls – and a fourth straight AFC championship recreation berth (and sure a sixth AFC West title in a row) could be a prerequisite. Keep in mind when Andy Reid did not win sufficient video games in Philadelphia?

3. A 17-game season. We’ll withhold judgment – for now – as to when the NFL is giving us an excessive amount of of a superb factor. I simply know a 10-7 file is at all times going to look bizarre.

3a. That additional recreation may imply the primary 2,000-yard receiver, and even the autumn of Eric Dickerson’s decades-old dashing file.

4. Additionally gonna take some time to get used to ability gamers sporting single-digit jersey numbers – and I am going to say it now, gear managers have to be extra discerning about who will get them. Good to see Leonard Fournette again in No. 7 and Jaylon Smith in No. 9 on Thursday night time … although Dallas WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. in No. 1 and S Donovan Wilson in No. 6? C’mon, Cowboys.

5. Are the Cleveland Browns, considered one of 4 NFL groups to by no means attain the Tremendous Bowl, lastly going to play on Tremendous Sunday subsequent February in LA? No crew received extra votes amongst AFC groups from our panel of consultants.

6. Turnovers are unhealthy, however some common turnover may be refreshing. Because the begin of the 1990 season, at the very least 4 new groups have reached the playoffs yearly – and that quantity is prone to develop now that we have now a 14-team area.

7. By no means miss a press convention from new Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell, an admitted (bleep) with an urge for food for opponents’ kneecaps.

8. No, Mac Jones will not be the primary rookie quarterback to begin for Invoice Belichick in New England. How shortly we overlook Jacoby Brissett …

9. Congratulations to Steelers OLB T.J. Watt putting a monetary blow for guys who do not throw the soccer. Watt agreed to a brand new contract Thursday that can common higher than $28 million over 4 seasons, making him the highest-paid defender, on a mean annual foundation, in league historical past. He additionally turns into the best-compensated non-QB within the league, his new NFL tax bracket placing him on par with second-tier passers like Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr.

10. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson might need to turn out to be the primary quarterback to hurry for 1,500 yards in a season to offset the output misplaced by the Ravens’ ransacked operating again room, which misplaced its prime three rushers to season-ending accidents over a two-week interval.

11. The Ravens have a league-high dozen video games this season in opposition to opponents who completed .500 or higher in 2020, so they have fairly the deck stacked in opposition to them.

12. Will this season be the primary when Seahawks QB Russell Wilson earns an MVP vote … or merely be his last yr in Seattle?

13. If quarterbacking musical chairs, which appear to shift more and more typically yr over yr, actually get uncontrolled in 2022, let’s hope former Wisconsin Badger Wilson winds up in Inexperienced Bay with West Coast native Aaron Rodgers in Seattle. That ought to inform us rather a lot about each star QBs.

13a. And any probability Rodgers and contract-year WR Davante Adams, additionally of the Packers, turn out to be maybe essentially the most compelling free agent duo in NFL historical past in just some months given how a lot they take pleasure in taking part in collectively?

14. Tremendous Bowl 56 can be performed in LA’s SoFi Stadium, the seventh time prior to now 12 years the sport can be staged in a brand new venue.

15. The Rams will surely like to affix the 2020 Bucs as the one groups to win a Tremendous Bowl in their very own stadium, and the addition of Stafford ought to make {that a} distinct chance.

15a. The Chargers. Proper, the Chargers would additionally prefer to win the Tremendous Bowl at SoFi Stadium.

16. Are you able to title the New York Jets’ backup quarterback? How about Mike White, a fourth-year participant who has precisely the identical variety of regular-season passes as rookie starter Zach Wilson – which is to say zero. Fairly odd the Jets did not pursue a seasoned vet like 2020 QB2 Joe Flacco or at the very least somebody acquainted with coordinator Mike LaFleur’s offense – Nick Mullens? – to assist their newest face of the franchise by his inevitable rising pains.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass against then Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas Metropolis Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a cross in opposition to then Minnesota Vikings throughout the first quarter at GEHA Area at Arrowhead Stadium.

17. We’ll have to keep watch over that revamped Kansas Metropolis offensive line, which uncovered QB Patrick Mahomes to fixed hazard of their Tremendous Bowl 55 blowout loss. C Creed Humphrey and RG Trey Smith are each rookies, and new RT Lucas Niang would possibly as properly be after opting out of his rookie season final yr. Massive take a look at Sunday with Browns DEs Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney coming to city.

18. NFL groups are estimated to journey a collective 558,287 miles throughout the common season. The 49ers will accumulate essentially the most frequent-flyer miles (28,260) – the earth’s circumference is roughly 25,000 miles – and the Bengals will earn the fewest (9,462).

COVID-19. The NFL had a 93.5% vaccination fee finally depend. However count on the virus to proceed to wreak havoc – particularly with the league drawing brighter traces about what sort of circumstances will result in the schedule tinkering that grew to become commonplace final yr … and people, like an outbreak attributable to unvaccinated gamers, that might result in forfeits and missed recreation checks. And given merely the variety of QB1s who’ve averted vaccination – Kirk Cousins, Lamar Jackson and Carson Wentz amongst them – important disruptions appear inevitable.

20. Has there ever been a extra uncomfortable state of affairs than the one taking part in out between QB Deshaun Watson and the Texans? His private circumstances are past regarding, but has a celebrity – one who hasn’t been suspended by the NFL or his crew – ever been paid so properly to not play, presumably ready to be liberated by way of commerce as soon as Houston will get the appropriate supply? So unprecedented. So bizarre. So unhappy.

21. Wilson, Jones, Steelers RB Najee Harris, Jags QB Trevor Lawrence, Bears QB Justin Fields, Broncos RB Javonte Williams, Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase (assuming he cures his current case of the dropsies), Falcons TE Kyle Pitts … 2021 ought to present essentially the most compelling race for offensive rookie of the yr honors in current reminiscence.

21a. It is also fascinating to see what number of groups – Falcons? Panthers? Broncos? Washington? 49ers (perhaps?) – will rue the very fact they did not go all in for Fields on draft night time.

22. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, 49ers DE Nick Bosa, Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr., Chargers S Derwin James, Broncos OLB Von Miller, Saints QB Jameis Winston, Giants RB Saquon Barkley, perhaps even Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo … 2021 ought to present essentially the most compelling race for comeback participant of the yr honors in current reminiscence. (And, for the file, it ought to now be referred to as the Alex Smith Award.)

23. Third-string Cowboys QB Will Grier as soon as threw for 837 yards in a North Carolina highschool recreation. Perhaps he ought to begin in Week 2, regardless of how good Prescott was Thursday.

24. Will Brady’s go to to Gillette Stadium in Week 4 as a member of the champion Buccaneers represent essentially the most memorable (and hyped) regular-season recreation in NFL historical past?

25. If TB12 vanquishes Invoice Belichick and the Patriots, he’ll be a part of Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the one quarterbacks to beat all 32 NFL groups.

26. Becoming a member of forces with the reigning NFC East champion Washington Soccer Staff, is that this lastly the yr QB Ryan Fitzpatrick seems within the playoffs? Nah …

27. Will there be a extra compelling crew than the Saints, at present and not using a house as New Orleans recovers from Hurricane Ida – and 16 years after Katrina pressured the Saints to abandon town? You may be positive Sean Payton will navigate this momentary setback higher than the 2005 crew handled its unlucky hand. On the sphere, Winston’s bid to turn out to be a bona fide beginning QB once more may very well be enjoyable to look at after his 2020 hole yr.

28. The NFC West will get numerous votes because the league’s hardest division, however the AFC West may very well be simply nearly as good. And given the current rash of accidents in Baltimore, do not be in the slightest degree stunned if two AFC West golf equipment (Chargers? Broncos?) snatch wild-card berths even when they don’t seem to be fairly within the Chiefs’ stratum.

29. City Meyer’s preliminary NFL offseason was fairly shaky – regardless of the very fact the brand new Jaguars coach was gifted the Lawrence choice and bushels of wage cap area. Has he flattened his rookie studying curve, or are he and Lawrence going to really feel the burden of crushing expectations … although a 6-11 marketing campaign would mark a large enchancment in Jacksonville?

30. Brady is inside 1,000 passing yards of overtaking retired Brees (80,358) because the NFL’s all-time chief.

31. However do you know Brady can even erase considered one of Favre’s notorious requirements? TB12 wasn’t sacked Thursday, however as soon as he will get bagged 5 extra instances, he’ll overtake Favre’s all-time file (525).

31a. That mentioned, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (sacked 516 instances) may “break” Favre’s mark first, particularly given the state of Pittsburgh’s offensive line.

32. In line with the NFL, now coming into its 102nd season, this yr will mark the a hundred and fifteenth anniversary of the ahead cross. Per the league, “the primary authenticated cross completion in an expert recreation occurred when quarterback George ‘Peggy’ Parratt of the Massillon Tigers accomplished a cross to finish Dan ‘Bullet’ Riley in a victory over a mixed Benwood-Moundsville, West Virginia crew in a 61-0 determination.” Thought it’s best to know.


Observe USA TODAY Sports activities’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: 32 issues we discovered heading into 2021 NFL common season

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