Wednesday Morning QB (Off-Season Outlook)

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Another season is in the books for the NFL and a familiar name is sitting on top of the pile as the New England Patriots have their fifth title in the last seventeen years.

That seventeen-year mark began at the moment Bill Belichick took over as the head coach and the Patriots drafted a little-known prospect from Michigan in the sixth round.

The combination of Belichick and Tom Brady has been the most successful tandem in the history of the league as there has never been a coach and quarterback that has won more titles together.

With their fifth Super Bowl and their seventh Super Bowl appearance, there is no doubt that they will enter the history books as two of the best to ever do it in the league.

Like Belichick will say though the Super Bowl is now over and the preparation for the new season is already underway.

For plenty of teams, the preparation began a while ago as they were already out of the playoff hunt and began looking to see what they could do to bring themselves to the Super Bowl in Minnesota next year.

As that pursuit begins for all 32 teams there are plenty of options to improve whether it be through the draft or through free agency.

There are even players on teams right now that are ready to take another massive step forward and have the season of their lives.

Nobody knows what is about to happen as the plans to improve are locked away in the offices of the general managers throughout the league.

Although any team does have a chance at this point in the season there are still some things that are a little more known than most.

Some teams simply have too big of a hill to climb to earn their spot in the Super Bowl, although they could be better teams and start something.

Every team, except the Pats, will look to improve on their standing at the end of the year and although some will have a greater climb everyone has a chance to be better.

For two teams that prospect seems a lot simpler than for anyone else in the league as they rose to the top this year.

For the Patriots and the Falcons, there seems to be little improvement needed as they were the best teams.

Except that is the danger of the Super Bowl hangover as teams often find it very tough to return to the Super Bowl a year after participating in the biggest game.

The Flacons and Patriots will try to find their way back to the big game but they might have the toughest path out of anyone in the league.football-sidebar

The Patriots seem like they have the easiest path with a team made up of Super Bowl champions.

Clearly, at this point in time, they are the best team in the league and it seems as simple as keeping the team together in order to get them another title.

That is what many championship teams seem to think and many championship teams cannot find their way back to a title let alone a championship game.

The Patriots will need to take a different attitude as the off-season begins as they can’t sit back like other teams and simply assume they are the best team in the league.

The only thing more difficult than repeating as a champion is getting back to the Super Bowl and winning after losing the biggest game of the season.

Super Bowl runner-ups have had a terrible record of coming back strong the year after they took a loss in their biggest game.

Most of them struggle just to get back to a winning record while getting back to the Super Bowl is near impossible.

The Falcons enter the off-season with the challenge of being good enough to get to the championship but not good enough to win the championship.

It is a tough spot as they have plenty of talent as evident by their run to the Super Bowl but they still couldn’t win.

Does that mean they need only a few additions to the team? Or do they need to be a little more dramatic in improving their team?

That is the question that every losing team has had to answer and only a few have been able to do it and return to the Super Bowl a year after losing.

The Falcons and the Patriots have a challenge ahead of them but it isn’t unlike the rest of the league.

The off-season is officially underway and every team is beginning their long walk towards Super Bowl LII with plenty to work through in the next few months.

relocation

The NFL continued to re-arrange only a year after the St. Louis Rams became the Los Angeles Rams and for some, it is getting out of control. Two more teams are looking to move with one awaiting a decision and the other already packed. The San Diego Chargers will make good on their option to move to Los Angeles alongside the Rams in Inglewood. While that stadium is being built the Los Angeles Chargers will play at StubHub Center and will be the second team in one of the biggest markets in the country. The issue is whether or not the market cares enough to support two teams. It was already a concern for the Rams and after a terrible season by that team the interest has already waned. Adding another team that doesn’t look to be all that great in 2017 means that a city with a passing interest in the game now has two sub-par teams when some thought it would be difficult to support one. They will try to prove that this market is worthwhile and simply another New York but the danger of more failed teams in LA is a real one. As the Chargers made their decision another team was left with few options as to where they were going to play. If the Chargers were to stay in San Diego the decision to move to LA would have fallen to the Oakland Raiders. Without that option and without a decent stadium or a plan for a new stadium the Raiders filed to move to Las Vegas where a new stadium is being planned. The Raiders are not guaranteed to leave though as they only filed the request to move and that request will be reviewed by the Board of Governors. The group has had a difficult relationship with the Raiders and their ownership, mainly with Al Davis when he moved the team to Los Angeles without permission. The Raiders seem to fit in Vegas and with a team ready to make noise they could be the most successful relocation this year. The debate throughout the offseason will surround whether or not LA can support two teams and if either can do something to be better alongside the decision to move the Raiders to Vegas or to keep them in Oakland. It is two massive stories surrounding the west coast and the future of the league.

romo

The Dallas Cowboys were one of the biggest surprises this year with a great year that ended a little too soon for America’s team. What made their great year even more surprising is that the man who has been the key to their success didn’t even play a regular season game this year. Tony Romo was injured in the preseason and that left the Cowboys with a scary prospect of starting the season with rookie QB Dak Prescott who they took late in the draft as a project. Then Prescott took off and took over the starting role with his fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. The rookie tandem rose to the top of the NFC East and Prescott took home the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The success of the rookies has led to one of the biggest offseason stories in the league as the Cowboys now have to figure out what to do with Romo. There is no question that Prescott is the starting QB for the Cowboys and he will be for a long time. That leaves Romo without a job and although he has struggled with injuries and debate still rages about just how good he is there is certainly a team willing to pay a price to get an NFL starter. More than a few teams have a gap under centre and Romo can fill that spot and immediately make them better. The Cowboys will be fielding plenty of calls from plenty of teams in order to get the QB and without a need for them, they seem willing to trade him to get some pieces for themselves. He is going to be the most popular name on the trade market in years and he could change everything for a team with a need at QB. Reports as of Super Bowl weekend seem to have him headed down the street to Houston where Brock Osweiler underwhelmed despite his massive contract. If Osweiler needs more time, Romo could serve as a veteran stop-gap and possibly an improvement on their current situation. Romo has been one of the most debated quarterbacks for years in the NFL but he will find a home and it won’t be in Dallas as he is on his way out. It isn’t the choice of Jerry Jones but it is needed as there is no need for him on the team anymore and someone else is sure to need his talent in a league where the quarterback is everything.

watson

The Cleveland Browns struggled through their entire season for another year as they still couldn’t figure things out. They tried in the offseason as they attempted to improve the team by solving the biggest issue on the team, the quarterback. Ever since the Browns came back to the league in 1999 they have yet to have a QB that can make a difference. No matter how many times they have tried they have failed to get that QB on their team. They have drafted and signed a number of quarterbacks and yet they have not been able to get what they need. The latest attempt was the signing of Robert Griffin III last off-season and there may be hope there still. The problem is Griffin has turned into a band-aid and spent most of the year on the sidelines rather than playing. He might be their answer at the position but uncertainty is still abundant in a city that was used to winning championships. Their bad season has given them some hope for the future as the Browns will have the top pick in the draft with a few good quarterbacks available. That isn’t a guarantee though as the Browns have been in big trouble for a number of years largely thanks to their terrible drafting. Their draft picks have not stayed on the team for long either leaving when their contracts finish or leaving the game before their contracts are finished. They haven’t been able to figure it out as they have made bad decisions over the last few years and don’t seem to have a solid plan. Getting back to being a contender can skip a few steps if a team can find a good quarterback. This year the Browns will have a chance as they get first pick in a draft that is pretty deep at quarterback. There is the national champion Deshaun Watson who some have as the best QB in the draft and others have going at the end of the first round. There is North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky who has been the popular pick as the top QB throughout the season. There is also DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame who some believe has amazing potential in at the next level. The Browns will have to make a decision with the top pick and that decision could change everything or continue them down the same path.

manziel

During the time in between the championship weekend and the Super Bowl, one of the biggest names in the sport was once again a focal point as Johnny Manziel made some headlines. Manziel went on another Twitter rant except this time the rant didn’t have everyone rolling their eyes at his stupidity. Instead, it had some wondering what could be in the near future and some wishing he would just go away. In his rant, Manziel claimed that he was clean and sober and was ready to make a comeback in the NFL. There are those who believe this isn’t much of a story as he will never come back and even if he did he will burn out once again. After all, Manziel was one of the biggest hyped prospects in recent memory after his exciting years at Texas A&M. He had a good arm and the athleticism that many NFL teams look for in a quarterback to make them more versatile. He also just knew how to win after years of being the biggest thing on his team and taking teams to new heights. He also had a dark side though as he was caught multiple times partying off of the field and for some teams that was enough to take a pass. The Browns didn’t and they paid for it as Manziel was forced into action before he was ready and his mistakes were that much more magnified. Eventually, he would be in and out of the line-up and the off-field temptations caught up to him. He entered rehab for alcoholism but never seemed like he took it seriously enough to really change his life. As he spiralled out of control off of the field his on-field play suffered and eventually he was out of the game entirely. He spent his time out of football partying and making all of the wrong decisions. Now he claims to be back and ready to play football again but the question in the off-season is whether or not a team will really take a chance on him. The QB is the most important player on a team and there are teams in need that might be desperate enough to take a chance at Manziel being the starter they need. If there isn’t a team willing to take that risk he might have to show that he is ready by taking a back seat but either way where he lands will be a massive story to watch this offseason.

cba

In 2011 the NFL and NFLPA took things down to the wire before they finally landed on a deal that both sides could agree on and avoid any lost time. It was a close one and for football fans and the league, it was very close to being a disaster that would have ruined the growth. What was event better about the agreement though was that the new CBA would run through the 2020 season. It was a welcome number for the fans and the league as they would have labour peace for a long time leaving the league to continue to grow. After only halfway through the CBS though the league and the players association seem to be rethinking their deal. Both have expressed interest in renegotiating the CBA with most of the noise coming from the player side of the deal. That is largely because the world is a far different place than it was in 2011 and there have been big developments that the players feel need to be addressed now. The biggest of them all is the role of Roger Goodell as the chief decision maker in all suspensions. It has been one of the most controversial issues in recent years as players believe they are treated unfairly by Goodell and that he simply has too much power. He can make any decision for any reason and he doesn’t need to answer to anyone after a decision is made. For players, it is too much power for one man who doesn’t have the player’s interests in mind, which has never been his job as he is hired by the owners for the owners. The NFLPA would like to strip him of this power in a renegotiated CBA but it is not the only issue. There is also a growing call for the league to legalise marijuana as a way to handle the pain of being hit every weekend. With more states legalising the drug, there is less reason for the NFL to keep it as a banned substance not to mention the reported benefits it could have for players and their pain management. With these and as always the share of revenue to argue about the league and the players association could be headed for a renegotiation of the CBA leading to some uncertainty in the offseason.

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