2016 NFL Overview
WE ANSWER KEY QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO THE NEW FREE AGENTS, IMPACT PLAYERS, DRAFT STUFF, NEW COACHES/COORDINATORS ... AND MORE
The National Football League training camp sites all summer long will be filled with the usual stuff ... lots of blood, sweat and tears from the first-year players to the grizzled veterans but there's been a whole lot of changin' going on when it comes to the NFL 2016 season and in today's column we'll dish the details regarding a batch of topics.
Let's get this party started with a look at the top free agents signed this past off-season and what type of impact they'll have on their current teams (and what type of adjustments the Las Vegas oddsmakers might have to make because of them):
The Washington Redskins inked CB Josh Norman (formerly of the NFC champion Carolina Panthers) for a five-year, $7.5 million deal and it's safe to say he could be the single-most important non-QB in the rough-and-tumble NFC East. If Norman can, indeed, shut down the likes of New York Giants' WR/rival Odell Beckham, Jr. and Dallas WR Dez Bryant, than the 'Skins could snag a second straight divisional crown.
Jacksonville handed out the big bucks to former Denver DT Malik Jackson (see six years for $90 million) so he can be a wrecking ball along the Jaguars' defensive front and, of course, Houston signed former Broncos' QB Brock Osweiler (four years, $72 million) to rescue the Texans from offensive obscurity.
No doubt the New York Giants made some big splashes with free-agent signings of some defensive "names" but do the likes of DE Olivier Vernon (from Miami) and CB Janoris Jenkins (via the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams) have enough oomph to move the needle when it comes to the all-important betting lines?
The answer is ... nope!
The most overlooked free-agent signing ... OLB Bruce Irvin is on Oakland after cashing in after a nice stay with Seattle. The Raiders' defense - at least the front seven - could be brilliant and if this AFC West crew gets any boost from the secondary, you might be checking out some "unders" in their games this season.
Other new faces that could have an impact both on the field and with the Las Vegas price tags include first-round draft picks QB Jared Goff (Rams) and QB Carson Wentz (Philadelphia) who were the top two guys snapped up along with CBs Jalen Ramsey (Jacksonville), Eli Apple (Giants) and Vernon Hargreaves (Tampa Bay) - all of whom were selected in the top 11 picks and all of whom could be instant stoppers in the pass-crazy world of the NFL. P.S., we happen to like Hargreaves as a player more than anyone else picked in the draft's top dozen selections.
Ask us and we also really liked the selections of first-rounders C Ryan Kelly (Indianapolis) and WR Will Fuller (Houston), both of whom played big-time college ball at Alabama and Notre Dame, respectively, and should be impact players from the get-go.
Meanwhile, folks love to chit-chat about the league's new head coaches every year - and why not? - but let's spend a few moments here on the new coordinators on both sides of the ball ...
The San Diego Chargers hired one-time Super Bowl head coach Ken Whisenhunt as their new offensive coordinator and we give this guy an "A" for squeezing everything he can from his quarterbacks - see Arizona's Kurt Warner back in 2008. Gut feeling is the Bolts will be undervalued on game days and "Coach Wiz" could have 'em stealing a win or two when in the underdog role.
The Miami Dolphins have a brand-new coaching staff led by first-time head coach Adam Gase but let's check out the Fish's DC Vance Joseph who formerly served as the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive backs' coach in 2014-15. Joseph will be creative and take some chances with this unit, so while all the buzz 'round the AFC East circulates around blowhard assistant Rob Ryan in Buffalo, it's the new defensive coordinator in South Florida that deserves our attention.
Overall, here's a quick-hitter list first of the league's new head coaches and then the new coordinators in the NFL this 2016 season:
NEW HEAD COACHES
|Cleveland||Hue Jackson||Cincinnati OC|
|Miami||Adam Gase||Chicago OC|
|NY Giants||Ben McAdoo||NY Giants OC|
|Philadelphia||Doug Pederson||Kansas City OC|
|San Francisco||Chip Kelly||Philadelphia HC|
|Tampa Bay||Dirk Koetter||Tampa Bay OC|
|Kansas City||Brad Childress|
|NY Giants||Mike Sullivan||Offensive|
|San Diego||Ken Whisenhunt||Offensive|
|San Francisco||Jim O'Neil||Defensive|
|Tampa Bay||Todd Monken||Offensive|
Hey, our final item in this NFL '16 Overview are the rules changes:
Among the changes are the fact touchbacks will be brought out to the 25-yard line - not the 20-yard line - although this rule will be "revisited" following the 2016 season to see if it will be made permanent plus note the new ejection rule which tosses any player that picks up two personal foul penalties in the same game. Lastly, NFL teams best beware not to call a timeout when it doesn't have one left - it will be a delay of game penalty if that occurs.
Lots more NFL goodies in the days/weeks ahead - of course - but hope we whet your appetite some as we close in on the 2016 regular season that kicks off play on Thursday, Sept. 8th when the Carolina Panthers play at the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Again, preseason action kicks off Sunday, August 7th ... so the clock is tick, tick, ticking down on this fast-approaching NFL season.