10 things we still don't know about this year's NFL season
1. How will Robert Griffin III fair this season? The famed “RG3” looked, to say the least, uncomfortable in Washington’s Monday night debut against division foe Philadelphia. Often times Griffin was shown by ESPN’s camera crew to be delivering the ball off his back foot or planted firmly into the ground, which caused him to lose zip on his delivery. However, in the second half he did look a tad sharper and one has to think, for the NFL and Washington’s fans’ sakes, that Griffin will only improve in the coming weeks.
2. Will Chip Kelly dominate the NFL? After Monday you may very well think so, but let’s remember one thing: It was Kelly’s first ever game in the NFL. Yes, coaches have tape on his teams at Oregon, but the NFL and the players on Philadelphia’s roster are an entirely different story and until coaches are able to decipher Kelly’s game film, the Eagles will likely be in a lot of games this season and win some that perhaps they shouldn’t. This question may not be answered until next year, but by November or December we might have a decent idea of just how smart Chip Kelly really is.
3. Will Michael Vick make it through the entire season? We’ll be asking this question leading up to Philadelphia’s Week 17 season finale against Dallas, but it’s a question worth asking, especially after seeing Vick take a plethora of hits Monday against Washington. This is a problem for all Quarterbacks who will run the read-option, or some version of it, this season, and Vick has proven to be the opposite of durable throughout his up and down career.
4. Is Geno Smith the answer in New York? Maybe, but as of now he’s still yet to have been the permanent starter. Smith looked poised at times and like a confused rookie at others against Tampa Bay and New England. Smith still has a long way to go before he takes the NFL by storm, an Andrew Luck he is not, but New York has hope in the quarterback position again. The Jets may have a keeper in Smith, but they must give him the entire season to learn the ropes of the league and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg must use his stable of backs more often than he ever has before.
5. How will New England survive without Wes Welker? Yes, Danny Amendola had a spectacular debut against Buffalo, hauling in 10 receptions for 104 yards, including six on New England’s game winning drive, but Amendola missed Week 2’s game against the Jets and chances are it won’t be his last missed game of the season. Only once (2010) has Amendola played in all 16 games and that was in a year when he was mainly a deserve for the Rams, starting just six games. When he’s on the field – especially when Rob Gronkowski comes back from back and forearm injuries – New England’s offense will be spectacular, dare I say it maybe even better than it has looked in the last few years, but when he’s on the field is the key phrase.
6. Will Carson Palmer revive his career in Arizona? Palmer looked good times (26-40, 327 yards, 2 TD) against St. Louis’ ever improving defensive unit, but also flashed the Palmer fans in Oakland quickly grew to dislike, tossing an interception and fumbling twice, recovering one. The Cardinals have a very good, young, ball-hawking defense, but Palmer must take better care of the football. If not, Drew Stanton could be the guy by November.
7. Who are the Tennessee Titans? What type of team is this? We know what they want to be – a defensive team who “grounds and pounds” their way to victory, with Jake Locker serving as a double threat at Quarterback. Their opener against Pittsburgh was an impressive one, but the Titans have fooled many before. This Sunday’s match-up against Houston will poise a big test for Locker and company. He’ll need to throw for more than 125 yards.
8. Are the Chiefs a serious contender? I will say for this for them: whether or not that was the Jaguars (it could have been your local High School’s JV team), the defense is impressive as well it should be with all the first round picks on it. Alex Smith is the prototypical Andy Reid QB, but the next few weeks will truly reveal just how efficient this offense can or cannot be.
9. How will Baltimore’s new look defense fair? If you judge by Week 1, awful, but give Peyton Manning time in the pocket against a defense with six new starters and zero Regular Season work together and he’s bound to carve you up. Throughout the season this unit will have its ups and downs, but players like Daryl Smith, a faster and better ILB than Ray Lewis has been the past few years, should help this defense morph into the usual top tier unit it is just in time for the December and January playoff stretch. Do not sleep on the Ravens defense.
10. Will Chicago win the NFC North? Throughout the last month or so there have been numerous people picking the Bears to upset and unseat Green Bay as the NFC North champions and their opening performance against a stout Bengals team was impressive, as Jay Culter was sacked not once against possibly the best defensive line in the NFL. If that continues to be the case, the Bears should be at least a playoff team in 2013, however, we all know how Chicago’s line woes have plagued them in the past and having an offensive line made up with two rookies on the right side could come back to bite them later on in the season.