Thinking Out Loud

I jus got past my birthday and Wedding Anniversary last week to wake up this morning to the realization that the first NFL training Camp of the 2018 season is scheduled to open up today when the RAVENS welcome in their Rookies. They will also become the first team to bring in their veterans on the 18th. The majority of NFL Training Camps are scheduled to begin in two weeks on the 25th. Y-E-S! is all I can say, well almost…

I have remained free from football deprivation over the past month by watching as many CFL games as possible. ESPN features many of the games to feed their football hungry viewers, but they also have an annoying habit of airing all 4 weekly games on some weeks, while bumping the coverage completely a week later, despite filling some of their multiple channels with reruns and garbage “sports”. It’s maddening, but something is better than nothing. It is also a bit disappointing that once NFL Training Camps get underway the CFL disappears, at least on US airwaves, until the Gray Cop rolls around in late Fall. Then again come September once the NFL and NCAA start play I can’t find the time to watch CFL games anyway. Not being a vampire, I still like to get some nightly sleep most of the time.

Speaking of the CFL games I would suggest that there is a Rookie QB playing for Winnipeg right now who should be on NFL scouting radars. His name is CHRIS STREVELER out of the U of South Dakota, who much like a guy named WENTZ, came out of a small college Dakota based program with a somewhat limited resume’. He began his college career at Minnesota, but transferred out as the Gophers went though multiple coaching changes with Jerry Kill resigning for health reasons. Streveler is just a tad shorter than the NFL prefers at just over 6’1, but is a solid 211 lbs. and looks even bigger than both of those numbers out on the grass. He is also blessed with speed and a solid throwing arm. My guess is he is about to find the bench as the Blue Bombers seem almost ready to welcome their veteran QB MATT NICHOLS back from the 6-game IR list. But I will also declare that I am pretty sure that Winnipeg OC PAUL LaPOLICE would love to hang on to Streveler as the eventual replacement for NICHOLS (31). Just a couple of weeks ago Streveler led his team to a 56-10 victory while passing 22/28-246 yards-3TD, as well as running 10 times for 98 yards and another TD. Sorry to my friend, and fellow PSC alum, Coach LaPo but I’d be looking to sign up Chris Streveler to an NFL futures contract of some kind at the conclusion of the CFL season.

I would also like to point out something else to the NFL that the CFL is trying to institute into their Salary Cap system, which I would love to see the NFL also look at. The CFL, in light of bigger market teams over-staffing their coaching staffs and front offices, is rolling those kind of hires into their overall team salary caps. IMO, NFL coaching staffs have reached ridiculous levels in this millennium. I’d like an NFL where the outcome of games is determined less by coaching and more by players on the field. Do you realize that the NFL team with the most Super Bowl visits since 2000, also happens to have the smallest coaching staff in the League? That fact should clearly indicate that 1 Coach for every 3 players on your roster should not be an absolute must.

I doubt it would surprise many of you GBN readers to hear that I have been using the League downtown to peruse NFL rosters. One of my realizations as I do so this year is the fact the NFL is more of a family affair then ever. I don’t think even Pro Football Focus (the detail guys) keeps tabs on historic brother combinations, but I will bet a day old donut that this is likely the first time in League history that Training Camp rosters will feature 3 sets of 3 brothers on NFL rosters.
Last season the WATT brothers of Wisconsin reached the familial milestone with J.J./TEXANS, DEREK/FB/CHARGERS and Rookie T.J. WATT/LB/STEELERS. They are all on rosters again as I write this. But thanks to Rookie additions they are far from alone. Two WHITE Brothers will be Rookies this Summer. LB/S/KYZIR WHITE was a 4th Round Pick by the Chargers in the April Draft, while WR/KA’RAUN WHITE joins the Bengals as an URFA. They are joining brother KEVIN WHITE/WR/Bears, who was a First Round Pick in 2015, and has been sidelined with various injuries most of the last 3 seasons. All three attended West Virginia for their college careers, just like the WATTS, who were all Badgers during their college playing days. Finally, we have the EDMUNDS brothers, whose dad FERRELL also played in the NFL as a TE back in the day. Oldest brother TREY, worked his way onto the Saints roster last season as a jack-of-all-trades TE/FB/H-B and a core Special Teamer. His two brothers, TREMAINE/LB/BILLS and TERRELL/SS/LB/STEELERS were both First Round Picks back in April.
The NFL also has a plethora of brother duos scattered around on rosters, and the number has grown with multiple younger brothers coming into the fold from the 2018 Draft Process. If I have missed any 3-brother family groups currently active please send me an email.

This past off-season saw a very high volume of QB movement around the NFL, and I am not even considering the return of starters from injury like ANDREW LUCK, DESHAUN WATSON, CARSON WENTZ, AARON RODGERS, RYAN TANNEHILL. Many of the changes are nothing more than a game of musical chairs with starters merely switching uniforms like CASE KEENUM/BRONCOS, ALEX SMITH/’SKINS, KIRK COUSINS/VIKINGS, SAM BRADFORD/CARDINALS (who might also fall into the previous group).
But there are a handful of teams pretty much ready to turn over the keys to the franchise to younger guys who they hope will become successful Franchise QB. There will great interest and perhaps a bit of intrigue with the status and progress of the Round One Rookie QB, many of whom may start later rather than sooner. I think October may be a month featuring great change as caretaker QB turn over the their jobs to the top rated Rookies like DARNOLD, ROSEN, ALLEN and MAYFIELD.
But the most fascinating player/team to watch may by second year man PATRICK MAHOMES in Kansas City. By moving ALEX SMITH to Washington, HC/Emperor for Life ANDY REID has put all of his eggs in the MAHOMES basket. And the Chiefs are pretty much a veteran group that sees itself as a Play-Off team. The rocket-armed, athletic MAHOMES must be the man in KC this season, and should be well worth watching. The other QB names on the roster don’t fool anyone. Neither CHAD HENNE nor MATT McGLOIN is coming off that CHIEFS bench to replace MAHOMES and lead the team to victories. I have little doubt that Mahomes is destined for stardom in the NFL, but if it’s not immediate, or he gets hurt, the CHIEFS are in for a a long, losing season in 2018.

And in one final note, congratulations on the Green Bay PACKERS franchise entering its 100th season in professional football. Despite the fact that so many millennials have bought the snake-oil pitch from one Jerry Jones that the Cowboys are America’s team, true pro football fans in the USA realize that the relatively “small town”, publicly owned team up in Green Bay always was and is America’s football team. Go PACK Go!

And along those lines, a very special wish of congratulations to ex-Packer OG/K, Mr. JERRY KRAMER, who finally was granted his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Take a good, hard look at what this clearly means to KRAMER, and then think hard about being petty and bitter by choosing not to go to Canton for enshrinement TERRELL OWENS.
Kramer’s inclusion is long overdue, IMO, but thank you to the voters on the veteran’s committee for doing the right thing now, instead of waiting for another posthumous selection. KRAMER’s gratitude at his selection shows no bitterness for the wait, just elation at taking his rightful place alongside the greats of his era. And doing this in his lifetime is huge my younger friends, as you may hopefully come to realize in your years to come.

Here comes Football 2018 my friends.

Pigskin Paul