Black Quarterback: Season Preview Headlines
By Brandon Simmons
Welcome to Season 4 of Black Quarterback, the weekly NFL Review for BOSS Sports. Last season ended with one of the most improbable comebacks in Super Bowl History by the New England Patriots. It also marked the comeback of one the NFL’s storied franchises in the Dallas Cowboys, as they may have found their next franchise quarterback. This season, those two stories are definitely part of the main headlines going into the season, including a few others.
A Year after Dak and Zeke
Last season was probably the first time in 20 years that people said the Dallas Cowboys would win the Super Bowl and took it serious. Most of that could be credited to the emergence of their two rookies, running back Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott. The two young stars were instrumental in leading Dallas to a 13-3 record and a return to the postseason after a 2 year hiatus. Elliot, drafted number 3 overall in the 2016 draft, had an outstanding rookie campaign, rushing for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, Prescott was the one who stole the spotlight from the offensive tandem. After Tony Romo got injured in a preseason game, Prescott stepped in the starting QB role and has not looked back since, throwing for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns. But what do these two have to look forward to?
After a year of teams studying the Cowboys, specifically Zeke and Dak, the sophomore jinx is bound to loom. Elliot is preparing to serve a 6 game suspension after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, so Prescott will not have that much of a security blanket with the running attack on offense. The teams in Dallas’ division have even gotten better. The New York Giants added Brandon Marshall to their wide receiver group while the Philadelphia Eagles went out and got Legarette Blount to bruise defenses.
A year after these two rookies resurrected the life of a seemingly-antique fanbase, they will have a chance to survive themselves through their 2nd professional years. The Cowboys won their division last year so they will play last year’s division winners as well; but it will not start off so tough for them. They open the season against the Giants on Sunday Night Football but the next 3 games they will face teams who did not even make playoffs the previous season. This should be enough time for Dak to get in his groove while Zeke serves his punishment.
National Anthem Protests on the Rise?
Colin Kaepernick might be absent from the league this season but his presence is still felt. Last year, he garnered attention for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality. It was an action that saw widespread support and at the same time criticism. That has not stopped players this year from going in the same direction.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was one of the first players to kneel thus season. He was followed by Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, who sat out during the anthem. In a surprising move, a large group of Cleveland Browns players took a knee during the pregame ceremony. While the protest has largely been seen by black players, a few white players have joined in as well. Chris Long has expressed his support verbally.
2nd chance Players
This season just might be the year of 2nd chance for a lot of players. Your favorite, and non-favorite, players, are getting a reboot in their careers. The Raiders traded for a retired Marshawn Lynch in order to boost their running game, and hope to make a championship sendoff for the city Oakland, when they leave for Las Vegas after the season. Another retired player to come in for his return was quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler announced his retirement after last season, and even took a job with Fox Sports as an analyst for the upcoming season. But after an injury to Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, head coach Adam Gase – Cutler’s former offensive coordinator in Chicago – decided to reunite and give the veteran a shot. So far Cutler has looked sharp as the team prepares to make a repeat playoff run.
Other players were not really retired but had to push the reset button on their career and uniform. Jamaal Charles was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs and found a new home with division foe, Denver Broncos. Adrian Peterson was cut by the Minnesota Vikings and signed on with the New Orleans Saints. These two signings come in the wake of people questioning whether someone should take a chance on running backs who are over 30.
At the close of last season, it appeared that these guys’ careers were finished, including Peterson. AP made headlines for getting cut as well as not receiving a ton offers as expected. Now they are in the midst of finishing their careers strong with some solid squads and might be able to go out with a championship bang.
Can Brady Finish Strong
At 40-years-old, Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback in the league right now, and probably one of the NFL’s first science projects. There are not too many non-kickers his age that have attempted a playing past the big 4-0; yet here we are looking at the New England Patriots quarterback as somebody that will demolish every defense as if he is the 2007 version of himself. However, as the cliché goes, Father time is undefeated. There’s a reason not a lot of non-kickers, especially quarterbacks, play at a high level past 39. All those years of abuse on the body has definitely slowed down a lot of quarterbacks. It amy seem like Brady is untouchable, but when they do get to him, without question he feels the frustration in those hits. The whole notion that Tom Brady can play at a high level for at least 5 more years is crazy, and somebody should get checked for the same concussion he reportedly suffered.
More storylines are sure to follow as the season progresses. At this time, the suspension for Elliot is kind of up in the air. That will definitely become a headline if his punishment is overturned, as it is one of the early cases under the new domestic violence penalty inserted into the league’s personal conduct policy. Also, there will be somewhat of an interest, and debate, as to which team will sign Colin Kaepernick, as it seems most teams are losing faith in their QB’s or they end up being hurt. Whatever the case, come kickoff, our attention spans will be kicked in.
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