1. I think Colt McCoy will be named Washington’s starting quarterback at some point this season. McCoy has limitations, namely arm strength. But that’s not as bad as having flaws, which Kirk Cousins, and certainly Robert Griffin III, have. You can’t coach limitations out of a guy, but you can coach around them. Flaws, on the other hand, are impossible to work around, at least at the professional level. (See Tim Tebow’s throwing mechanics or Griffin’s shoddy pocket poise.) Cousins’s biggest flaw—inconsistent ball placement—has too often resulted in turnovers. With McCoy, at least Jay Gruden knows exactly what to expect and can construct game plans accordingly.
2. I think with college football kicking off this weekend, people will feel like football is back. But high-level football isn’t back until next week, when the NFL returns. Most fans have no idea how different the pro and college games are. The most obvious and basic (yet also overlooked) difference: an NFL contest features almost entirely great players, while a typical college contest features maybe four or five great players. Just because both sports are played in front of large crowds doesn’t mean they’re remotely close to being equal.
3. I think nose tackle Phil Taylor, who was recently released by the Browns, is worth signing. At this point you can get him on a cheap one-year contract. If Taylor stays healthy, you’d have a two-gap sized player with enough burst to get occasional penetration and displace blockers.
THE MMQB PODCAST: KLEMKO & BENOIT’S SEASON PICKS
4. I think no team in recent memory has fit the “Super Bowl hangover” paradigm better than the Seahawks. You have the controversy of the final play-call carrying into the offseason, new contracts for some stars but not others, the consequential holdout of locker room leader Kam Chancellor and a club overflowing with contrasting star personalities, ranging from Marshawn Lynch’s churlish act to Doug Baldwin’s and Richard Sherman’s abrasive intellectualism to Russell Wilson’s golden boy image. These are the nebulous types of distractions that always get attributed to a “Super Bowl hangover.” Guess we’ll find out this year whether the hangover is real or farcical.
5. I think starting Tyrod Taylor over Matt Cassel was close to a no-brainer for the Bills. Taylor brings more elements to Buffalo’s already multidimensional ground game.
6. I think with top cornerback Keenan Lewis being out 4-6 weeks (hip surgery), the Saints’ defense is in real trouble. It’s already without any sort of edge-rushing presence in the wake of Junior Galette’s release. If you can’t rush off the edge, you have to manufacture pressure via the blitz. That requires quality man coverage. With Lewis, the Saints had that element. Without him, they don’t.
7. I think Julio Jones and the Falcons were both smart to get a deal done. Jones got paid before potentially encountering another serious injury (he’s had two such injuries already in the NFL, counting the foot surgery he had just prior to his rookie year). The Falcons got a top-five receiver who still might become one of the league’s top two or three wideout talents.
8. I think it’s great the NFL had no problem with Terrell Suggs’s hit on Sam Bradford. Anytime a defensive lineman is unblocked, there’s a read-option element in the play design, even if the quarterback plans to eschew that “option” and hand it off all the way. Against read-option, Suggs has often been responsible for the quarterback and he’s dealt punishments there whenever possible (see him late in Super Bowl 47 against Colin Kaepernick). That’s how an unblocked defensive lineman should react. Otherwise, the offense is incentivized to simply not block the defense’s most immediate threats, making the read-option too advantageous.
9. I think of the major preseason injuries, Orlando Scandrick’s ACL is most damaging. Without him, the Cowboys might have to become a strictly zone-based defense. Second biggest is Kelvin Benjamin’s ACL. His absence removes the perimeter playmaking element from the Panthers’ already limited passing game. Rounding out this twisted top five: Maurkice Pouncey—how quickly will he even be ready to play once his ankle heals? Jordy Nelson, who is replaceable in Green Bay’s system, but still, he’s a 1,500-yard type receiver we’re talking about. And Washington linebacker Junior Galette, just because of his sheer talent.
10. I think this has nothing to do with football, but it occurred to me as I was driving around “thinking” about the other nine items to write for this list: if I had tyrannical rule over my community, I would ban motorcycles from all public roads. Motorcycles are hard to see, noisy as hell—dangerously noisy, in my opinion, if we’re to consider the repercussions of several motorists in the same vicinity getting simultaneously startled by the bray of an unnecessary engine rev—and too often motorcyclists illegally dart in and out of traffic. The only good that’s come of motorcycles, in my perhaps strange but humble opinion, is the highly entertaining but outright morbid FX show Sons of Anarchy.