Three cheers to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I am sure to the NFL League Offices as well, for their thoughtful decision to expand the Hall of Fame entry numbers for the Class of 2020. As likely the final act of the 100th season anniversary for the NFL they will be expanding the 2020 HoF Class to 20 entrants. And I like the fact that the entrants will be broken-down into specific numbers for specific categories of candidates.
The categories will be divided as follows:
3 Contributors to the game
5 Modern Era players
10 Senior Players (more than 25 years out of the game)
I think the final category of the Seniors will do the most good by trying to clean up an increased number of Hall-worthy candidates who played during the hay-day of growth by the NFL starting in 1995 and going backward. For those who noticed the unbridled joy last year of JERRY KRAMER/Packers, who had waited far too long for deserved induction, this proposed group of ten, now “old timers” is a solid gesture.
Every NFL franchise, along with their fan bases, will have scores of candidates to be nominated and championed for consideration from this category of players.
When you consider how many players there’re each season playing in he NFL (almost 1800) it seems that there should still be plenty of room in the Hall of Fame for deserving former players.
Before I mention some “surprise” players in the first full week of pre-season games let me be sure to caution that these are just pre-season games and some guys who shine right now are really only battling to essentially grab a Practice Squad spot come September. But this is real competition and all good work matters.
The COLTS lost to the BILLS last week, but we had a surprise CHAD KELLY sighting, and it was on the field, not off. KELLY took over the QB job in the 3rd Quarter and was impressive in trying to bring the Colts from behind. He went 13/19 for 121 yards and 0 INT. He also used his legs to good advantage rushing/extending plays 4 times for 53-yards and 1 TD. It would seem that LUCK and BRISSETT would be the 1-2 QB spot holders, but could a continued solid showing force the team to carry 3 QB on their 53-man roster? Or could they even peddle BRISSETT for a Draft Pick? Stay tuned it is only early Training Camp.
The PACKERS may have lost IB OREN BURKS for the season to a torn pectoral muscle. BURKS was indeed hoped to be their starter alongside BLAKE MARTINEZ, after struggling through a tough Rookie season in 2018. Based on Training Camp and one game it maybe a very good thing that the team drafted TY SUMMERS in Round 6, back in April. SUMMERS was a very active and productive performer at TCU, and impressed with solid numbers at the Combine. Like many, I felt SUMMERS best fit as a Rookie would be in helping to upgrade the Packers pretty miserable Special Teams units. He’s beginning to look like a lot more than a guy to fill just that role. TY looked like a carbon copy of MARTINEZ as a tackling machine in the Win over Houston, with 9 tackles/1 assist. And he doesn’t just run wild to the ball. He looks to be picking up the basics of Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme very quickly.
Revenge can be sweet, even if it is only the pre-season. Just ask PAXTON LYNCH in some quiet corner of the Sea Hawks locker room. LYNCH was drafted in Round 1 by the BRONCOS back in 2016. After a couple of lackluster years trying to adapt to life in the NFL Denver let LYNCH go and both sides moved on. The Sea Hawks signed him to contract this off-season and have him in their QB competition to back up Russell Wilson. He and Geno Smith are listed behind Wilson on the depth chart. SMITH started the game against the Broncos and had an OK outing. But it was LYNCH who came in relief of SMITH who really lit things up against his old team. LYNCH looked cool, calm and collected in the pocket and went 11/15- 109 Yds- 1 TD- 0 INT. He also showed good mobility rushing 4 times for 38 yards and including another TD. Just wondering to myself if Pirate Pete won’t give Lynch a start soon ahead of SMITH to see what he does in a different role. Based on what Lynch did last week, I’d have to think that CARROLL, of the “competition” mantra, will need to let LYNCH actually compete for that back-up job.
The big rebuild job is well under way in NYC as conducted by GM David Gettleman, he of the feisty, self-confident aura. No, I am not going to get into the brief, but impressive DANIEL JONES debut against the also rebuilding JETS. It is the work of a 5th Round Draftee that caught my eye quite early in the proceedings. That player would be LB RYAN CONNELLY, ex of the UW Badgers. A smart, athletic and productive player in the Badgers program, he was outstanding versus the J-E-T-S! For a team that I grew up watching that always had fearsome LB units keyed by legendary players such as HUFF, CARSON, VAN PELT, TAYLOR, etc., the team has seemed almost devoid of high quality LB play for the past decade or so. CONNELLY reminded me of some of that hard charging, pursuit LB play of yesteryear against their cross city rivals. CONNELLY had his nose stuck into almost every tackling pile all night long. His final stats read 4 T/1 Assist, but that does not begin to tell the story of his overall play. He also show the mobility and flexibility to drop into coverage as needed. Many of Gettleman’s critics may be eating crow as this season progresses if these rookies keep up the current pace of play.
Another battle to watch may be brewing up in Foxboro in Patriots Camp. There may be lots of them for the PATS this year with some major roster re-shuffling (per usual) on the horizon. But one I have been wondering about since just after the Draft is for the job of Punter. The team drafted JAKE BAILEY from Stanford in Round 5. A key advantage in Bailey, versus ALLEN, is that BAILEY handled kick-offs at Stanford. ALLEN has not for the PATS, and taking the kick-off load off of the aging leg of GOSTKOWSKI would seem to be something that should appeal to the team. It should also be noted that BAILEY would cost the PATS considerably less than ALLEN against the Salary Cap. Just for those of you who might be keeping score on this scenario in Week 1 ALLEN had 3 Punts and averaged 39.3-yards per boot. BAILEY had only one shot but his punt carried 45-yards. I say watch this Camp competition. ALLEN might also get the PATS a late Draft Pick for 2020 from a Punter needy team.