Predicting games in the NFL has become more difficult over the years with the emergence of parity in the NFL. The first couple of weeks always produce a number of shockers.
This year things should be even more unpredictable with the aftermath of the NFL lockout. You have a number of teams installing new systems, with other teams adding new quarterbacks. If you’re going to bet on the NFL in week 1, you’re going to have to watch developments in the preseason so see how different players and teams are responding to the changes. On the other hand, you also can’t put too much stock in the preseason. Hence the dilemma. But that also presents opportunities for astute observers.
Here are a couple of players and teams to keep an eye on:
Colt McCoy – He’s off to a great start in Cleveland. Cleveland is installing the West Coast offense, which typically takes a long time to master. Nobody will suggest that McCoy has “mastered” it after one preseason game, but it’s clear that he’s taking to the system, and that’s consistent with what experienced scouts thought about McCoy. He obviously has all the intangibles, and now he has an offense that is a closer match to his skill set.
Sam Bradford – Pat Shurmer is coaching McCoy this season in Cleveland, and last year Bradford excelled in Shurmer’s system. This season, however, Bradford gets a new system and coordinator with the arrival of Josh McDaniels. McDaniels has a good track record with quarterbacks, but we’ll have to see how Bradford adjusts. He didn’t get off to a great start in his first preseason game but there’s plenty of time.
The Bengals – This could be a disaster, as the Bengals might be going with rookie Andy Dalton. This kid has some ability, but jumping from TCU to the NFL is quite a leap. He wasn’t that great in his preseason debut, so we’ll have to see how he develops. The Bengals might be in the early running for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
The Redskins – This will be the real test of the Shanahan ego express. Who knows who will start, and we’ll see if the Shanahans are as smart as they think.
Donovan McNabb – Can he still play? Will he do better under coaches that give him a longer leash?
These are just some of the questions leading up to the season, so get to work! At least it’s more fun than reading up on labor issues . . .
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