Good at Everything But Great at Nothing
1. I think Jeremy Maclin and the Ravens make a great marriage. Maclin, who is good at everything but great at nothing, is an above average starting wide receiver. He can answer the bell for an offense that was thin at this position and asks its receivers to win one-on-one at times. With Maclin aboard, the Ravens can now use Mike Wallace only on the routes he runs well (fly patterns and shallow crosses); they won’t drown if Breshad Perriman’s development continues to be slower than hoped and they can use Michael Campanaro as a high-level backup rather than an everydown slot guy.
2. I think Carson Wentz will have a huge sophomore NFL season. Besides having all the tools and football IQ, he is surrounded by a quaternary of terrific QB coaches: head coach Doug Pederson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and rising young assistant quarterbacks coach Press Taylor.
3. I think players missing OTAs is a big deal—especially young players. My opinion here was shaped after spending 24 all-access hours with Rams coach Sean McVay during his team’s third OTA session. The volume of work that gets done in OTAs is hard to replicate elsewhere. It’s where you lay the foundation of your systems.
4. I think because of this, Bengals rookie receiver John Ross’s shoulder injury, which is expected to continue to keep him out through the start of training camp, means the first-round pick will have a small role early in the season. The Bengals know Ross is a luxury pick anyway. They’re comfortable bringing him along slowly.
5. I think left tackle Branden Albert is wise to join the Jaguars in training camp, and he was unwise to stay away from his new team’s voluntary workouts. Albert is due $8.875 million in 2017 and wants more. He’s not worth more—especially not to a team that just drafted Alabama’s Cam Robinson high in the second round and already has a solid right tackle in Jermey Parnell. The Dolphins were comfortable shipping Albert in the Julius Thomas trade because the veteran left tackle was no longer nimble enough for their outside zone ground game or perimeter screen game.
6. I think the Patriots got a tremendous bargain on Julian Edelman's contract extension. It’s for three years, $12 to $19 million, depending on a variety of factors. Even if it is on the $19 million side, it's still a great deal for the club.
7. I think it’s good that Seahawks security wouldn’t let ex-Colt Weslye Saunders in the building when he showed up, uninvited, cleats in hand, looking for a tryout. If a team ever did give a tryout to someone who knocked on their front door out of the blue, all 32 teams around the league would be inundated with drop-in appearances from the type of ex-high school jocks who now play noontime ball at your local gym. Or, who knows, they might even get visited by a clownish sportswriter who thinks that just maybe, in the right offense, he could contribute.
8. I think it’s wonderful that Dallas’s Sean Lee has been healthy all offseason. You could argue he’s the best stack linebacker in football not named Luke Kuechly.
9. I think Jay Cutler will thrive as a game analyst at FOX. His don’t-give-a-crap demeanor will lead to sharper analysis. Plus, he’s working with one of the best, and probably most underrated, play-by-play guys in the business, Kevin Burkhardt, and, at least for this first year, also with fellow analyst Charles Davis, who clearly studies the game.
10. I think if you had told people right after the NBA Finals last year that Kevin Durant would join the Warriors, their response would have been: That seems cheap and disappointing. Why would an all-time great player who almost beat those Warriors in the Western Conference Finals want to take a shortcut and join them? That team already has a ring and 73 wins without Durant. With him on board, now the NBA’s champion is essentially predestined. What would be the point of any of it? This was my view, and I’m surprised that so many people who shared it have changed their minds after seeing Durant and the Warriors get the ring that we knew they’d get all along. My biggest problem isn’t with Durant as much as it is with the structure of the NBA. You could argue that Durant’s value to the Warriors was not that he joined their team, but that he left Oklahoma City. A Durant-less Warriors team would have easily beaten a Durant-less Thunder team—probably in a sweep. And so after Durant’s signing, there remained only one legitimate threat to Golden State in the Western Conference (San Antonio). When the second best player in the league is more valuable to his new club not because he is with it, but because he is no longer with that club’s top competitor, the structure of your league is flawed.
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