by jeff beyel
The NFL appears ready to turn the page on the Tom Brady and the
Patriots reign and flip to a new era replete with many new faces,
personalities, and most importantly new stars.
The 2020 draft will
prove to be one of the most transitional classes in history as the
league prepares to march onward and upward. No less than 44 rookies
have already been tabbed as starters on their teams and that's
before any injuries opens the door for a few more! That, folks, is
what ya call transition on steroids!
But what does this say about
the league, if anything, and how does such a dynamic influx of
talent impact the upcoming campaign?
Yes, Tom Brady has taken up residency in the quaint village of Tampa
Bay leaving behind his GOAT status in New England in favor of taking
the reins of a talented roster that has a franchise history mostly
settling on the negative side of the wins and losses ledger. Pundits
have cast just about as many angles on the Brady situation as is
media possible, but few have been able to lock down a definitive
outlook for the Buccaneers.
Some experts have gone so far as to
predict that Tampa Bay will make a playoff run and maybe even be a
Super Bowl contender and that having such a roster was the main
reason Brady chose Tampa Bay. For my money though, I think Brady
went to Tampa because of the weather within his division. Playing in
Tampa Bay for 8 home games combined with 3 road games at Carolina,
New Orleans, and Atlanta means he will likely play at least 11 games
in near perfect weather conditions. Carolina is the only outdoor
team he will face while the Saints and Falcons play in domes. If
anyone watched Brady play last year, it was obvious that he could
not truly rifle the ball through the challenging weather conditions
one annually finds in Buffalo, New York, and New England. Being
assured of warmer climates and excellent playing conditions combined
with the offensive weapons he will have at his disposal, seem to have
been the major lures that brought the legend to the South. At any
rate, the Bucs will be featured in many prime time television events
this upcoming season.
But, while Tampa Bay may enjoy a short burst of glory, it is also
self-evident that the NFL has evolved with a newly established elite
group of players more suited to the wide open offensive extravaganza
the league as placed its fate in. Side arm flinging quarterbacks
with unorthodox playing styles have stepped into, literally, the
role of the neo-super star electrifying audiences with crazy play
results and prolific stats. The "game" has embraced the explosion of
fantasy football gambling which requires a plethora of individuals
posting massive weekly numbers thus making the fantasy world all
that much more entertaining. "Out with the old and in with the new,"
has become the slogan for the league.
And nothing could reflect this move towards a new era than the 2020
draft class. Only Joe Burrow seems likely to be a first year starter
out of this class, perhaps exposing the lack of signal callers
capable of lighting up the scoreboard. But, folks, at least 10 wide
receivers and 1 tight end are slated to begin their careers as
starters! That is a remarkable amount of talent to be thrust into
the main stream for sure, but it also reveals that the league is
firmly cemented in the concept of scoring points at will.
What is a
near certainty, as well, is the league could have one of its
all-time most contested Rookie of the Year battles, which will have
fans campaigning for their favorite new guys each and every week.
Who is it going to be? Dallas Cee Dee Lamb, Oakland's Henry Ruggs,
or maybe even somebody like the Colts' Michael Pittman Jr.? Nobody
can be sure. It may even end up being a defensive player like
Washington's Chase Young.
To go along with this stunning influx of talent, the NFL already has
positioned itself to smoothly transition to its next chapter, Kansas
City's Patrick Mahomes and Baltimore's Lemar Jackson headline a
whole new group of signal callers that fit into the league's
offensive mindset. Others, like the diminutive Kyler Murray in
Arizona, Deshawn Watson in Houston, and the Jags' Gardner Minshew
will help fill the void. Seattle's Russell Wilson seems to be the
next Bard for the league as Brady and players like Ben
Roethlisberger and Drew Brees bid adieu. In the end, there is always
one sure thing: The NFL will find ways to entertain and evolve. You
can bet on it.