With two weeks to go before the opening game of the 2016 NFL season, let’s zero in on a few more quarterbacks. All teams are made up of three components, the offense, the defense, and special teams. While it has become fashionable to say that defense wins championships, it is the guy quarterbacking the offense that gets you into the playoffs to begin with.
And unfortunately, two of the better signal callers will be benched for that first game, Tom Brady for over-fondling footballs, and Tony Romo for sustaining his annual season ending injury, this time before the season even got started.
The Heisman 1-2 of two years ago, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, look poised to step up towards the elite level of Wilson, Rodgers, Brees, et. al., with solid performances the past two weeks. Not so with Cam Newton who laid an ostrich-sized egg with a sorrowful 13/29, 100 yard, two-interception disaster in losing to the Pats last weekend. BTW, Jacoby Brissett, a rookie from NC State, went 9/9 for New England and is 25/35 for the three games this pre-season. Who?
Eli Manning got Victor Cruz back last week for the much anticipated “Bookend-Brigade” re-uniting of Beckham and Cruz. Absent much of a defense, the Mara-Men can only only hope for a season of flashy flag football with Eli, Victor, and Odell. The cupboard in the Meadowlands looks that bare.
Your NFC Central has arguably the best quartet of quarterbacks in the league. Teddy Bridgewater, the new signal caller of the fabulous foursome of himself, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, the seemingly human cannon Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, and the sometimes great but brittle Chicago Bears human piñata, Jake Cutler, rounding out this group. All have paid their dues except Bridgewater, who threw a skimpy 14 touchdown passes last year. Though, maybe that’s good enough when you can give the ball to Adrian Peterson 30 times a game.
Colin Kaepernick sat out the National Anthem against Green Bay. He should have sat out the game as well, for aesthetic reasons. He went 2/6 for 14 yards when he was inserted. This, from a quarterback who a few years ago came within five yards of a Super Bowl win and was being acclaimed as the prototype of the new passing/running quarterback. Since then, Russell Wilson has worn the mantle of NFC Western top quarterback and doesn’t look in danger of losing that title anytime soon.
Keep an eye on Kirk Cousins of the Redskins. The Michigan State grad is 17/28 so far this pre-season and beat a good Buffalo team this past weekend. Playing in the weak NFC East, he is ready to lead his team to a division title. Both the Eagles and the Cowboys have quarterback starters who are injured, and with the Giants’ passing parade still under review, Washington just might ride Cousins to a divisional diadem.
The Vikings are leaving the world’s biggest Baggie behind and moving into a beautiful new domed stadium. That might be tailor-made for a Vikings run at the despised Packer crew from just one state to the east.