• Think you know how good these key AFC players are? Our anonymous scout offers a reality check.
September 06, 2016

As the anticipation builds for Week 1, teams (and fans) are finalizing their preparation for another long march through the NFL regular season. But misperceptions abound after a full off-season of hype and coachspeak, setting teams and players up to fall well short of expectations. Luckily, the tape never lies. Which Pro Bowlers are getting by on name recognition only? Which rising stars should be hearing their name more often? A rival scout, whose identity is not being disclosed in exchange for his candor, gives quick takes on the players being overlooked—and the ones being overhyped—on each AFC team entering the 2016 season.


Underrated: Jamie Collins

Collins went to Southern Mississippi as a safety originally, then was moved to defensive end as kind of a hybrid outside linebacker-defensive end. He’s really a pass rusher. And he went to the combine at 6' 3 1/2", 250 pounds, ran a 4.55 40, and really lit up every single position drill. And he’s a really smart guy. So the Patriots had the vision to put him at inside linebacker, even though he’d always played outside backer or safety. Nobody does a better job in terms of fitting players in to certain positions to maximize their abilities than coach Belichick. The blitzes that he sends Collins on, this guy is dynamic. [Nationally] nobody really knows about him, but everybody up and down the AFC East knows about Jamie Collins. He’s going to be hell of a player for years to come for the Patriots.

Overrated: Danny Amendola

He’s always cited as being one of the positive pieces there. People usually say, “Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, they are like two Wes Welkers,” and all those kinds of things. When he is healthy, he’s an adequate player. But more often than not, he misses a lot of time, year after year. He just cannot keep himself on the field, and that makes it very difficult to depend on him. He has more nagging problems, not the season-ending types of injuries. Still, from an overrated standpoint, people always mention Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola together—but chances are you’re not going to see both of them on the field.

Extra Point

I don’t think there is another staff better equipped for handling adversity than the New England Patriots, which is good news considering they’re facing some right now with Brady missing four games to start the season. The Patriots do a heck of a job of controlling the message. To hear their players all echo the message, you have to understand that from a coach’s standpoint everybody has bought into what coach Belichick is selling. They may have some rough patches in these first four games with Jimmy Garoppolo steering the ship for the first time. But with this team, this talent, this coaching staff, and Tom Brady on the field for 12 games, their season is far from lost. Twelve games is more than enough for Brady and Belichick to get them back on the right track. You should fully expect to see them in the playoffs.

Underrated: Calvin Pryor

Pryor came out of Louisville in 2014 and it took him a little bit of time to operate under Rex Ryan’s defense at the time—it was a lot of checks, a lot of calls, a lot of different shifts when the offense moved. But in his second year he showed up and was a positive piece for them. Now he’s being counted on as a leader, and has the ability to communicate all the different calls of a now Todd Bowles-led defense. He has really given that defense—which already has a lot of strength down the middle—some backbone in the secondary. He can really execute that defense, the blitzes and coverage and all the different types of things. For the casual fan sitting at home watching the game, it’s hard to measure the impact of a safety. They don’t realize the safety anticipated the deep route, got the QB to hold it in the pocket, and that in turn enabled a defensive end to get a sack. These are the things you see Calvin Pryor do when you sit there and study the tape. He is the glue of that defense.

Overrated: Nick Mangold

He’s been to the Pro Bowl for however many years now, and at one time he was, if not the league’s best center, then certainly among the top two or three. But hey, in our game Father Time is undefeated. He’s in his 30’s now and not quite the dominant player that he was. He is still a positive piece and can contribute, but he is no longer the best center in the league.

Underrated: Ronald Darby

A former track kid, Darby was taken in the second round, number 41 out of Florida State in 2015. There were some concerns about injuries when he came out, but when you watched the film, [you saw] the route instincts, the suddenness to close and really contest all footballs in his zone, whether he was playing man or zone coverage. He had a hell of a year, and it was really impressive. Really unusual production for a rookie. If it wasn't for Marcus Peters having the type of year that he had, Darby would have been on the tip of people’s tongues coast to coast as one of the top defensive rookies of the year. He’s a young guy with a really bright future in this league.

Overrated: Charles Clay

They gave up a good amount to get him after Miami placed the transition tag on him. On the one hand it’s smart—they took an area of strength from a division opponent and added it to their team. Clay has been solid, but sometimes he is spoken about as being this athletic, finesse, flex-receiver who is a matchup problem for defenses. But at the end of the day, where is his production? He and Tyrod Taylor haven’t had the chemistry yet that one might think they would. But who knows? They may be able to kindle a little of that this year. To this point, though, Clay has been a solid piece for them, but far from the difference-making type of guy that they envisioned they were getting.

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Extra Point

When you look at where this team has been and where they are going, [general manager] Doug Whaley has really done a heck of a job, whether it was with Doug Marrone or working with Rex Ryan. From a personnel standpoint, of bringing talent to upstate New York, he’s really done a good job of not overthinking this. The way they have been going about it is to target big schools. Particularly, SEC and ACC players. We are talking about guys like Shaq Lawson and Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and Reggie Ragland (Alabama). They’re really not overthinking the process. The Bills have also had a way about not totally removing themselves from players who have maybe had an issue or two. When you do that, you get value on a devalued asset. At the end of the day, Doug Whaley and his staff have done a great job adding positive pieces to the equation and giving Rex Ryan some people he can now go win football games with. 

Underrated: Reshad Jones

Jones is a guy who is largely unknown to the national media, but he’s been a well-known commodity throughout the league over the last two years. He is a guy with size and he has a ton of range, and can really cover ground from sideline to sideline. He plays with a relentless effort and he’s a big hitter with ball skills. When you talk about defensive backs, a lot of times they are just receivers who couldn't catch. But when Jones has the opportunity to put his hands on the ball, he makes the most of it. He is a pretty dynamic piece for them, and I’m sure they will work something out with him on a second contract moving forward.

Overrated: Ndamukong Suh

Suh is one of the highest paid players in the league, and he didn't do nearly what the Dolphins anticipated him doing when he came from Detroit. Don’t get me wrong, he’s one of the best defensive linemen in football, but with that said, when you are making that much money a year, there are expectations and a standard that is set. For whatever reason, it didn't seem like he met that standard last season. And yeah, sometimes his production doesn't always show up on the stat sheet. It shows up in others making plays: linebackers making plays, or him getting double-teamed and another guy getting the sack. Coordinators go with a plan to block Suh, he gets a lot of attention sent his way, and will get doubles on him. Over the course of his career when he had a one-on-one in a single block, he was virtually impossible to block for very long. But this past season was a little different: he didn't play with that same passion, that fire, that unfiltered aggression. I didn’t see it this past year. We’ll see if he can turn the switch on in 2016.

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Extra Point

This will be the third offensive-minded head coach and third former quarterback coach who is now whispering in Ryan Tannehill’s ear. At some point along the line, if he’s not able to produce with more consistency going into his fifth season in the NFL, with the offensive talent around him, with Arian Foster in the mix, Jay Ajayi is coming into his own, DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims, he clearly has pieces around him. The foundation is laid to have a little bit of success. And if Tannehill is not able to do it this year, then I think we can all say that we just don’t see it. If Tannehill is not producing, the buck is going to fall on him and not just on Mike Sherman, and Joe Philbin, and now Adam Gase. It will be interesting to see if he will be able to put it all together this year.

Underrated: Ryan Shazier

He’s been nicked up a little bit, but when he’s been on the field he’s as dynamic a linebacker as there is in this game, and really a rare athlete at the position. The fastest LB in football, he ran a 4.35 40 at his pro day and pulled up five yards before he finished, so who knows what he would have ran if he didn’t lighten up right at the end. There is one other linebacker that played at a high level in the NFL and ran a 4.3 anything, and that’s Patrick Willis, who ran a 4.37. Shazier has great instincts and is a difference maker in every sense of the word. Hopefully he stays healthy long enough this year so the masses will recognize that.

Overrated: Markus Wheaton

A lot of people talk about how the Steelers have the best receiving corps in the NFL. When you have Antonio Brown, that helps a lot. But many people tab Wheaton as a top receiver as well, which he is not. He gets the benefit of having one-on-one coverage opposite Brown. He’s a solid player, but he’s not doing anything dynamic.

Extra Point

There is a misconception that there is going to be a drastic decline in terms of their offensive production without Le’Veon Bell [for only the first three games] and without Martavis Bryant all season. But this is one of the most explosive offenses in football and has been for years. And with DeAngelo Williams in the building, they have some safety nets, as he kept the Steelers in it last year when Bell got hurt. 

Underrated: Tyler Eifert

Eifert was a Pro Bowler, but it seems like most people think there is a huge division between the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, who’s widely considered to be the best tight end in the league, and then everybody else. Don’t get me wrong, Gronk is still the best, but the gap is tighter than people expect. Teams are just as concerned about matching up against Eifert as they are when they face Gronkowski. Both of these guys are mismatches wherever they line up, whether they are on the line, flexed outside in the slot, or lined up out wide like a receiver. Eifert is among the best at his position. 

Overrated: Andy Dalton

Dalton is one of the classic examples of a quarterback who gets way too much praise when things go right and way too much blame when things go wrong. He is a solid player for the Bengals, but if they didn’t have A.J. Green, and Eifert, and that offensive line to protect Dalton, he’d have a pretty hard time being successful on the field. Cincinnati plays great defense as well and does a really good job on special teams, so Dalton is in a quarterback-friendly situation. If he were in Detroit, it would probably be a different story for him in the regular season. 

Underrated: Steve Smith Sr.

Old Man River. He comes back for another go-round. The guy was unbelievably productive last year, hands down the best receiver on the team at age 37, before he ruptured his Achilles. If he’s not the most competitive player on the field every Sunday, he’s right up there with them. And he’s not a big person but he has a way of playing big. He is unbelievably passionate about the game and is really a treat for all of us to watch, unless it’s your team that is playing him. It’s amazing how great he has been for so long—the 5' 9", 180-something pound receiver has been defying the odds since he came into the league as a juco transfer. He’s simply an incredible player.

Overrated: Justin Forsett

The 30-year-old was cut by the Ravens on Saturday, but re-signed just a couple of days later. He’s a solid player, but there aren’t many teams that he would start for when you study him on film. He has good vision and will hit the hole when it’s there to hit. The additions that the Ravens have made this season will help a guy like Forsett. But there is just not a whole lot of “wow” factor with the guy. He is a smaller back and is not really a threat to take it to the house. He is a steady-eddie guy who can keep the chains moving. The year before last he finished in the top-five in rushing and was talked about as one of the best players in the league. But as Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. He’s an overachiever, but not anybody who you’d be itching to pull off the Ravens to add to your team.

Extra Point

The Ravens are a first-class franchise in terms of how they’re operated, starting with [owner] Steve Bisciotti, and obviously the great [GM] Ozzie Newsome and [coach] John Harbaugh. They’ve been good for so long, and are usually on the tip of everyone’s tongue in terms of being around the first week of February. So after a 5–11 2015 season, they’re in unusual territory. Not a whole lot of people are talking about them. But when you sit down and look at the additions they made this off-season, there are a lot of pieces back in place. They picked up Eric Weddle to fortify the secondary, they drafted Ronnie Stanley to strengthen the offensive line, they have a lot of youth on their defensive line, and they’re getting many key players back from injury in Jimmy Smith, Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman and Joe Flacco. There’s a lot of depth in a number of places on their roster. I expect they will be vying for a playoff spot at the end of the season.

Underrated: Gary Barnidge

Barnidge broke out last year, and had a hell of a season that nobody expected. His soft hands make him a very natural catcher of the football. Tight ends are not uniquely fast, but he can make catches when there’s a lot of clutter around him. In the middle of the field, with linebackers grabbing on him and safeties pulling on him, he figures out a way to whip his head around, find the quarterback, track the football, and reel it in. The other area of his game is running after the catch—he’ll turn upfield and won’t go down without a fight.

Overrated: Joe Thomas

He has been a really good player for a really long time, but the common opinion is that he is the best left tackle in football, and that’s not the case. He was at one time, but that honor now goes to Tyron Smith in Dallas. Thomas is still a great player, but there are a bunch of guys who are tougher matchups for the top edge rushers in this league.  

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Underrated: Ryan Kelly

The old thinking is that you don’t draft centers or guards in the first round, and certainly not early in the first round. But if the function of the draft is to make your team better, this pick of Ryan Kelly at No. 18 does a lot to do that. It solidifies the middle of their line, and it gives a quarterback who has dealt with injury issues another piece where they can shore up some of those issues up front. Kelly is a young guy who is highly intelligent, he will understand the fronts, the blitzes. He and Andrew Luck will be on the same page in terms of what they are seeing, and he will keep Andrew protected. That’s the key, you have to keep your quarterback from getting hit if you want to keep him on the field. He’s been hit way too much in his short career.

Overrated: Anthony Castonzo

He was a first-round pick and has been a plug-in guy at left tackle ever since he’s gotten there. When matched against a good player, he gets the job done. But when he has to go against the top guys ... I think about what [Rams defensive lineman] Robert Quinn did to him during the 2014 season. He was just absolutely a mess. Quinn had three or four sacks in that game. Castonzo has gotten a little better. He would be in the middle of the pack of right tackles, but he is certainly in the bottom five when you’re talking about left tackles. And because of that it has contributed to Andrew taking more hits. When you look across the league, relative to what other teams are doing with the left tackle position, he is at the bottom of the totem pole.

Extra Point

The national narrative last year that Chuck Pagano was not winning games and that he was on the hot seat, that was a mind-boggling narrative when you really look at the film. When you study them over the course of years, you understand the decline in the talent on the roster. If you look at their draft selections that they’ve made in recent memory, not a whole lot of these guys are producing at a winning level. That’s not O.K. when you are talking about your first-, second-, third- and fourth-round picks. These are guys who have not reached the expectations that come from where they are selected. But there is a disconnect there between Grigson and Pagano. The narrative that Pagano was under all this pressure and Ryan Grigson was getting a pass ... Chuck Pagano is a hell of a coach, and if you give him pieces he can put a winning product on the football field.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Underrated: Jadeveon Clowney

His sophomore year of college, he had that highlight hit where he knocked out the running back, pops his helmet off, jumps up and recovers the fumble, so it was almost like people expected to see that on every single play in his junior year. And the people at South Carolina didn’t help his cause. He had a legitimate groin injury that the staff there minimized and acted like he was milking the injury. This guy competes. He plays the game the right way. He had microfracture, and that’s a surgery that takes awhile to come back from. The narrative is starting to roll that this guy is a bust, but when this guy gets on the field he can still be dominant. And he’s raw. This is where J.J. Watt can help him, in terms of work habits and understanding the nuances of defensive line play. Clowney is starting to come around and is going to have a hell of a year if he stays healthy. I think that will surprise some.

Overrated: Brock Osweiler

He’s an unknown commodity. He played seven games last year and went 5–2. When you look at the Broncos last year, they only threw 19 touchdown passes and won the Super Bowl. That lets you know how great this defense was that was carrying that team. The Texans also have a good defense, one of the better defenses in the NFL, but it isn’t the Denver defense. And the offensive system in Houston is more complicated for the quarterback, it puts more onus on him than the one that Denver runs. When you come off the bench as a second-round pick who hasn’t played, there really is not a whole lot of pressure on you. And now, when you get the big contract, the expectations and the pressure is a lot different. It will be interesting to see how he deals with that. How is he going to handle adversity?

Extra Point

This team has been competitive for years. They have had some of their best years with Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak at the helm, a good defense and a staunch running game. They are making Brock Osweiler out to be the savior of the team, and some of it is just a narrative to sell, so they can sell PSLs and season tickets and luxury box seats. So they are saying, hey, we got our guy, and this is the guy we wanted. But with the expectations, and with Brock’s unknown temperament to handle those expectations, it is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. And Bill O’Brien has a totally different temperament than Gary Kubiak. How is Brock going to handle it when O’Brien is sticking a size 13 shoe up his a--? Gary Kubiak has a different way about him. Both ways have been effective, but it will be different and it could be something that Brock has a hard time adjusting to.

Chris Graythan/Getty Images

Underrated: Davon House

Picking up House from the Packers was an underrated signing. When you turn on the film, this guy has really made it difficult on opposing offenses to throw the ball to his side of the field with any type of efficiency. He has really been an asset in their defense, the three-deep scheme with corners playing a lot of man coverage off that as well. But Gus Bradley plays a little bit of a variation of the Pete Carroll scheme—they run a little bit more Cover-2 than Seattle does. House is one of the reasons why they are playing some really good defense down there.

Overrated: Luke Joeckel

When you look at some of the moves that they’ve made, they’ve tried to throw a lot of bodies at that left tackle position. They see Kelvin Beachum as being a better option than what Luke is. It seems that Luke is responding the right way at left guard and has had maybe his best preseason to date. When a player is taken at the top of the draft like what Joeckel was, he’s automatically considered to be a superstar, a Pro Bowler, and here it is just not the case. Luke has had his issues on the left side, going against the best athletes a defense has to offer.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Underrated: Jurrell Casey

This is a small-market team that hasn’t had a whole lot of success. Casey came out of USC without a whole lot of fanfare. He is a disruptive presence and has flashes of dominance at times. He is a tough guy for opponents to deal with. If you saw him walking around the street, you might not even know he played football. He is not one of these guys that looks like a Greek god or anything like that, but the guy is just a football player and a hell of one at that. He is the strength of their defense. And be it by the small market or by not a whole lot of winning, he is underappreciated on a national scale. But his opponents know who he is, and they know they need to come up with a plan to get him blocked to be successful.

Overrated: Taylor Lewan

He is really athletic, ran a 4.87 coming out of college. He can really move, has really good feet. But he just has a way of being inconsistent, and some of that has to do with his detail in terms of how he prepares day in and day out. Mike Mularkey stripped him of his captaincy midseason last year. He is somebody that was the No. 11 pick, came in with a bunch of fanfare, but when you watch him he has not produced as you would want from your left tackle. They have hopes that Jack Conklin out of Michigan State will be able to take over as left tackle. He’s a little bit more of a reliable guy. He’s not nearly as athletic as Lewan, though. 

Extra Point

The Titans are really trying to build their foundation on a strong, physical running game. Trading for DeMarco Murray, drafting Derrick Henry. Bringing in Conklin who is a mauler, can move guys against their will—that is his specialty as a run blocker, a big, physical, nasty guy. Craig Stevens was one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL, so his retirement will affect them in a negative way. With what they are trying to do, you’d love to have a guy like that in there to help out the run game. But it seems they are dead-set on building a strong running game.

Their defense has performed at a level to where they could have won more games than they did, but they didn’t have an offense to support them. They will grind it out and are not going to go away, so if they can build a run game and have a defense that is capable, you can win with that. Now you are not asking a young quarterback in Marcus Mariota to do it all on his own. He can make the throws when he has to. And he will end up being a part of the run game, just the plays that he can make with his legs. That is something that just kills a defense. This team should be able to make a little jump here this year.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Underrated: Marcus Peters

It is unusual to call a guy who led the league in interceptions as a rookie and was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year underrated, but it just doesn’t seem like his talent is appreciated as much as what it should be on a national scale. Marcus is amongst the best cornerbacks in the league. You have your Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis—that’s rare air—and then when you go down a notch and start talking about Richard Sherman and Josh Norman, Marcus Peters is right there in that bunch. He should be mentioned there, but he’s not. Over time he will prove to be one of the upper-echelon lockdown corners in the NFL. They say most cornerbacks are playing corner and not receiver because they can’t catch. Not the case here. This guy makes the most out of his opportunities to not only disrupt the ball, but to catch it and get it back to the offense, and that is a rare commodity. It’s hard to find a cornerback who will catch the football when the opportunity comes his way.

Overrated: Alex Smith

Quarterbacks always get too much praise when things go right and too much blame when they don’t go right. Alex Smith is a game manager. He’s going to take care of the football. He’s going to deliver the ball when there are opportunities to do so. But he is downright cautious with the ball, and will leave some meat on the bone, as Joseph Randle would say, in terms of some of the plays that could be made down the field. If they had a better quarterback, they would be the class of the division. It’s almost like he is holding them back more than he is helping them. They really have a quality roster, good running backs and a really high quality defense. Alex gets a bunch of credit for winning with the 49ers and also here, but is he really the one who is responsible for that?

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Underrated: Paxton Lynch

The narrative is that Paxton needs to still learn, still develop, still has a way to go. And that is a smart narrative because you immediately disarm the fanbase and the media from placing high expectations on your first-round draft pick. So it’s really brilliant. But sooner rather than later, we are going to see Lynch on the field and he is going to perform at a winning level for this team. When you take into account where they were last year and how they played from a quarterback standpoint, they only threw 19 touchdowns. Paxton is a perfect fit for this offense, when you talk about a mobile quarterback with a big arm who is an accurate passer on the move. The moment they put him as the starter, which will happen within the first five games of the season, that is the time that they turn into a contending team. He has the special sauce that you need.

Overrated: Russell Okung

When he has been on the field, he has been wildly inconsistent. Pass protection is supposed to be his deal, but he gets beat more than you think, especially for a guy who has been to a Pro Bowl. Because he was a high pick, he is a sexy name. He is a solid player, but he is not a great player.

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Underrated: Derek Carr

He was No. 2 in the NFL against the blitz last year. If his last name was anything different, he would have been the No. 1 pick in that draft. But since his last name is Carr, he ends up slipping to the second round. Everyone else’s loss is the Raiders’ gain. [General manager] Reggie McKenzie wasn’t going to let a gem like Carr slip by in the draft. It was a smart decision, so kudos to the Raiders for doing it. If you watch Carr on film and never thought about what his brother did before him, you would have come to the conclusion that he was the best quarterback in that draft. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater? Come on. He was clearly the best quarterback in that draft. But Derek hasn’t let that define him, all the naysayers, he hasn’t let that deter him at all. That is the type of adversity that quarterbacks have to overcome. He was overcoming adversity before he even set foot in the league.

Overrated: Michael Crabtree

He had underperformed in San Francisco. They got a bargain on him in Oakland, and he produced last year. But he is a guy that can’t get out of his own way. It’s hard for him to stay engaged and focused and do what he needs to do to be at his best year in and year out. Michael is a solid player, and he is someone you can win with. But he is by no means a great player. And when you are drafted that high overall [No. 10 in 2009], that reputation seems to have stuck with him.

Extra Point

The Raiders have a deep roster. Their front office has worked in concert with their coaching staff. This may be the first time in the Raiders’ history that the full coaching staff came back intact from the previous year. When you talk about continuity, that is not a word that is ever associated with the Raiders. Continuity counts, and having this staff back intact means that these players get the same message for another year. And the pieces that they have added to this roster, they have good football players. They did a lot to clean up the roster and got rid of some of the overpaid players, and now they are an example of a program that is on the uptick. [Owner] Mark Davis has had the patience to let this vision play out. There is no reason that this team can’t be in there in contention at the end of the year. Their future should be bright for some years to come.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Underrated: Danny Woodhead

Danny Woodhead was working in the shadows of all the criticism that was going Melvin Gordon’s way. Woodhead has done nothing but produce since he got his first opportunity as an undrafted free agent with the Jets. This guy has carved out a career for himself as a niche player, but he is just a hell of a football player. He can run in between tackles, he can make plays in space out on the perimeter, catch balls out of the backfield, not the biggest guy in the world, but he will put his body on the blitz and block. He is a very good and productive piece to have in your program. Largely overlooked and widely underrated, he is the type of guy everyone would love to have.

Overrated: Joey Bosa

It was a curious pick. They kept it quiet the whole time in terms of what they were intending to do. There wasn’t any chatter about them taking Joey Bosa. For a young player, who is a tweener fit for their 3–4 system and needs to ingrain himself and learn the system and endear himself to his teammates, [the holdout] was just curious. He’s not getting that practice time, and not getting into football shape. It’s different than running around in whatever facility he was working out in, it’s different to go at it and physically have those type of confrontations where you are throwing your body into other grown individuals amongst the strongest in the world. It takes a little bit of getting used to. So in terms of him being productive this season, not having that time, he will have a hard time. And there will be such high expectations, and he puts some unnecessary pressure on himself to perform.

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Extra Point

The uncertainty with their stadium and city situation. How is that going to affect the dynamics and chemistry of the team? These type of issues hanging over, it’s almost like a cloud of uncertainty over the team. That has a way of being a distraction for the team. The players will deal with questions all season: “Are you guys leaving?” “Are you going to L.A.?” “Are you staying in San Diego?” Anything that takes the players’ and coaches’ and the front office’s attention away from doing their jobs is a distraction. They have had some players, like Philip Rivers, be pretty vocal that they don’t really want to move to L.A. He is a veteran and a leader in the locker room. So do other guys feel the same way that he does? Who knows. But it is a situation there, and how it will ultimately be resolved among the Spanos family and the city of San Diego will be very interesting to see if it will be disruptive to the team.

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