Sports

NFL teams look to regular season as preseason comes to an end

From league-wide quarterback competitions, to the debuts of promising rookies and six new head coaches, the NFL preseason looks to be foreshadowing a lot of excitement. Last year Dak Prescott was crowned rookie of the year after a strong preseason performance. This year, however, promises to give last year’s preseason a run for its money, and has so far succeeded. From the emergence of future rookie sensations to the injuries of bona fide stars, this preseason has already been an exciting one.

This year’s preseason has shown the development of many rookie quarterbacks, who look to prove their worth in the league. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, the Cleveland Browns’ second-round draft pick, has proven to be an absolute steal. Kizer claimed the starting job over Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler. This is a huge accomplishment, as Kizer was not projected to be the starting quarterback when drafted, but earned the job along the way.

Another rookie quarterback making waves this preseason is this year’s second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky of the Chicago Bears. The Bears gave an arm and a leg to acquire Trubisky, a surprising decision considering the team signed Mike Glennon, who was presumed to be the intended starting quarterback, to a three-year, $45 million contract before the draft.

While Trubisky has yet to claim the starting job, he has impressed many this preseason and is starting to prove he may have been worth the handsome price that was paid for him. Other rookie quarterbacks, such as DeShaun Watson of the Texans and Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs, have not claimed their respective starting positions, but are making strong cases for themselves as future starters.

The 2017 preseason has featured the debut of six new head coaches with high expectations. The head coach of the 49ers, Kyle Shanahan, has the highest expectations of the bunch. Shanahan is coming off a Super Bowl run with the Atlanta Falcons, during which he was the offensive coordinator of one of the most potent offenses the league has ever seen. It will be hard for Shanahan to replicate that accomplishment in San Francisco, since the lack of any competent quarterback to run his mostly pass-oriented attack will lead to struggles as the season plays out.

The Los Angeles Rams also made an interesting new coaching hire with Sean McVay, who is now the youngest head coach in league history. McVay may be just what the doctor ordered for the fraught LA Rams, as his focuses on developing sophomore quarterback Jared Goff and a organizing heavy implementation of the run game this preseason have proven to be effective.

Anthony Lynn was named the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, and has some serious obstacles ahead. Between the Chargers’ chronic injury concerns and constant front office mistakes, Lynn will have to rally the consistently underperforming Chargers to wins.

The injury bug has already struck the team, with its top two draft picks, Mike Williams and Forest Lamp, out with serious injuries. Elsewhere, new head coaches Vance Joseph, Doug Marrone and Sean McDermott look to lead the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills, respectively, back to the postseason. Each team possesses the talent to do so.

The New York Giants have had an interesting preseason, to say the least. Big Blue made some big acquisitions on offense, none of which have proven to have made a huge difference so far, as the first team offense has been completely stagnant.

The offense also suffered injury scares, with superstar wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall suffering minor injuries against the Browns. Both of the receivers, however, are expected to play in the season opener. The Giants’ run game is also a mess once again, with the running back carousel starting up again, and the offensive line being utterly inept. The defense, however, is looking just as good as it did last season. With almost the same cast, the defense has picked up where it left off at the end of last season.

The New York Jets do not have as much to look forward to as the season begins. The team cut most of its veteran leadership before the season, and lost its number-one receiver Quincy Enunwa to injury this preseason. The team is also in the middle of a starting quarterback competition between three bona fide backup quarterbacks. While team members may not want to admit it, the Jets look like they will be competing for a high draft pick in next year’s draft.

Around the league, there have been many other newsworthy stories. Jay Cutler’s retirement ended abruptly, as he is officially the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins following a season ending in injury to Ryan Tannehill. This reunites Cutler with Adam Gase, under whom Cutler had his best season as a professional.

Elsewhere, Ezekiel Elliot has been suspended for the first six games of the season following a domestic violence investigation. Elliot is appealing the ruling, however. Should it stand, this would be a tremendous blow to the Dallas Cowboys, as Elliot led the league in rushing last season. This can prove to be a crushing blow in a very close division competition.

September 5, 2017

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