Wednesday Morning QB (Week 1)

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There is no doubt that entering 2018 the NFL was gripped by the passing era with quarterbacks marking the most important players in the league.

More than ever teams are leaning on the passing game to drive their offence and as a result, finding a quarterback has become the biggest priority for every team.

It has become the main pursuit for any team trying to compete but in the process, one of the most essential parts of the game has fallen off.

The running game became almost non-existent as the passing game took over with more teams seeing value in multiple running backs.

In the past, a running back was the only thing a team needed and they needed to find a feature back in order to lead their team.

With quarterbacks taking over things were different and teams stopped caring about the running game altogether.

That led to running backs falling in the draft and becoming secondary parts of offences.

Teams weren’t concerned about finding that feature back anymore and so they weren’t as valuable.

Although the passing game remains the most important part for so many offences and the quarterback is still the most important position the running game is making a comeback.

A number of young running backs have entered the league with that potential to be so much more than just a role player.

There are more star running backs coming through the NCAA than ever before and as they enter the NFL there is no question that they are made to be feature backs.

There seemed to be a bit of a dry spell for a while with the running backs coming in not really looking like those backs who could carry an offence.

Players like Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon have changed that.

In a league where teams are constantly trying to find ways to open up the attack through the air, these running backs are forcing their teams to look to the running game as a serious threat.

This season the running game seemed to be officially back when one of the best players in the draft and likely the most talented was a running back.

The New York Giants took Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick after the Cleveland Browns took what else but a quarterback.

Barkley pulled off a 68-yard touchdown in his first NFL game giving Giants fans a peek into what he could do as the leader of their running game.

These young players are bringing the running game back to the NFL in a big way but for many, it is just another change in the ebb and flow of major league sports.

There will always be changes and those changes will cause adjustments with teams always trying to find a way to win.

With the move to the passing game, defences are focusing on building great rushing attacks or secondaries to make sure that the passing game doesn’t beat them.

That is taking a lot of focus away from stopping the run because so often they haven’t had to stop great backs.

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Offences know that and so some are beginning to take a look at the ground game as an option to keep teams honest.

They can’t blitz as much when the back is running through the heart of their defence and they take the pass rush and secondary almost completely out of the game with a good running attack.

Ultimately though, the same rule applies as it has for years in the NFL, a balanced attack is always the best attack.

No matter how great a passing attack or a rushing attack is the need for both to work simultaneously is always there.

An offence that can pass efficiently and then switch things up and put the ball on the ground just as the defence is adjusting will always win out.

No matter the belief or the way a team is built there will never be a time that doing both parts of the offence well will be a bad thing.

Teas try to find that balance as 2018 marks a year that could see more teams looking to the ground than in the past few years.

The passing game is going nowhere and the importance of the quarterback will continue to rise but a new group of running backs is changing things.

This season could see those players take over as they become more important throughout the league.

Fifth Quarter

Trading the Franchise

The Oakland Raiders were looking ahead to a season without their best player as Khalil Mack looked to continue his holdout into the season. With his willingness to wait and the Raiders unwilling to pay him it seemed like he would be sitting out a while. That was until the Raiders decided to get rid of the headache and traded Mack to the Chicago Bears. After the trade, the Bears signed Mack to a 6-year deal making him one of the highest paid defensive players in the league. In his first game, Mack showed why they spent the money earning an interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery, sack and a touchdown in his debut leading to the debate about what could be the biggest trade of the year.

The holdout Continues

It is a constant story for the Pittsburgh Steelers as one of their stars spends the entire offseason upset about his compensation. In 2017, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell keeping him at a limited pay and under the control of the team. He wasn’t happy about that move and so he decided to sit out the entire training camp before making his return to the team. The relationship was never repaired and once again the Steelers placed the franchise tag on their running back. Bell’s feelings were known for a long time and with the franchise tag on he decided to sit out training camp for another year. That holdout has continued into the season as Bell continues to wait for a new contract sitting out Week 1 and likely sitting out Week 2.

Stuff of Legends

 Week 1 was full of great stories but one of the best came on Sunday night when Aaron Rodgers added to his legacy in Green Bay. After leaving the game in the first quarter with a knee injury the game seemed to be headed to a terrible place for the Packers. They were dominated by the defence and the offence was moving at will. Then Rodgers returned for the second half and began cutting into the lead. By the fourth quarter they were a touchdown away from winning and a pass with two minutes left in the game Rodgers found Randal Cobb for a 76-yard touchdown to go ahead in yet another major comeback win orchestrated by Rodgers.

  Drought Ended

The Cleveland Browns have been the worst team in the league for the last few years even joining the Detroit Lions as the only team to go 0-16. Last year was the depths of the franchise but things seemed to begin to change in the offseason. The Browns signed some big names and drafted what many seem to think is the future of the quarterback position. They had hope again as they entered a new season but it seemed like their losing streak was just going to continue with the Pittsburgh Steelers as their opening game. Although the Brows didn’t take a win they also didn’t lose as they ended the game against a potential Super Bowl contender in a tie. It wasn’t a loss though and for that the losing streak ended with that hope still somewhat alive in Cleveland.

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