Written by Adam Schein at NFL.com
The return of football means the return of football chatter. And let’s be honest: Much of the chatter is, well, hot air. You have guys making headlines in late July and August who, in many cases, just won’t be factors from September through February.
But not to fear: The Schein Nine is here!
Allow me to keep you focused this training camp. Avoid getting bogged down in the minutiae! Here are nine things we SHOULD be talking about in the coming weeks:
1) The QB situation we should be talking about: Joe Flacco’s recovery
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets just reached an agreement. Going forward, we’re certain to hear a bunch about the quarterback competitions in Denver, San Francisco and Cleveland. But I’m here to say that everyone should pay close attention to what’s going on at Ravens camp. Joe Flacco’s health is, quite simply, everything for Baltimore. Yes, Joe Flacco is elite. He’s a Super Bowl champ with a rocket for an arm. Flacco leads by example — and the Ravens follow.
Baltimore placed six players on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start camp. Flacco was not one of these players. Highly significant. The RavensQB ripped up his ACL last November, so being ready for everything at training camp counts as a big deal.
The Ravens had incredibly bad luck with injuries last year. As the USA Today recently pointed out, eight Week 1 starters in 2015 went on to suffer season-ending injuries, with Flacco,Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith Sr. and Justin Forsett being the most prominent. No wonder Baltimore crashed and burned to 5-11 — the first losing season in the John Harbaugh era.
If Flacco can stay healthy and be on the field for Week 1, that will be a good way to flip to script. This organization, with a great coach and front office, should return to solid ground in 2016. With a healthy Flacco, Baltimore will be in the mix for the playoffs. Without an injured or compromised Flacco? Baltimore will be in trouble (again).
2) The head coach we should be talking about: Chip Kelly
Of course it’s Chip Kelly. It’s always Chip Kelly.
Chip Kelly The General Manager got Chip Kelly The Coach fired in Philly. Frankly, his general personality didn’t appear to help him much, either. But I digress. I was happy to see Kelly get a second chance with the San Francisco 49ers.
Say what you will about Kelly’s personnel savvy (or lack thereof), but the guy can coach. In three years with Philadelphia — a team that went 4-12 in the season prior to his arrival — Kelly logged two 10-win seasons, one division title and an overall record of 26-21. Could do much worse than that.
Now, let’s see what he learned from his first pro coaching assignment. How will his relationships be with the players and the front office? What about implementing his system? Does he have a quarterback? Is Blaine Gabbert reallyleading this competition? Can he rebootColin Kaepernick’s once-promising career?
There’s always so much intrigue with the quirky coach.
But the expectations are low around Kelly’s new team. The roster is pretty bare. Honestly, San Francisco might be the worst team in the NFC. I love Chip, but the Niners are so far away from where they were just a few years ago under Jim Harbaugh.
Could Chip shock the world with his offense? Will he combust? I can’t wait to find out.
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