2011 NFL Season | 10 Enthralling Storylines (1of2)


2011 NFL Season | 10 Enthralling Storylines (1 of 2)
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Our prayers to the football gods were answered on July 25th when the NFL owners and players agreed on a new 10-year labor deal, immediately setting forth one of the most exciting free agent periods in history. The flurry of activity only served to enhance anticipation for the season, which wasn’t guaranteed to occur — at least in full. Now, thankfully, we can spend all of our fall Sundays as planned, lounging around on our recliners and devouring the latest helpings of NFL drama (and nachos). Here are the enthralling storylines that will provide the narrative for the next few months:


    Is Cam Newton for real?

    One year ago, Cam Newton was a name known by few people outside of the South. Essentially kicked out of school at Florida, he spent a year at Blinn College in Texas before landing at Auburn, where he was expected, at best, to improve the team by a game or two from the previous season. As it turned out, he led the Tigers to their first national title since 1957, demonstrating all of the leadership skills coveted by NFL franchises. Debate persists as to whether it was wise for the Panthers to select him with the No. 1 overall pick, as his skills are raw and they selected quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the first round in 2010. But Newton has impressed thus far, even eliciting a “wow” response from new coach Ron Rivera when he was asked of his impression of the rookie. It remains a possibility that he could start in week one.

  2. Can Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan revive the Cowboys?

    Upon being named the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator in 2007, Jason Garrett improved the unit to second in the league, becoming one of the hottest head coaching prospects. The Cowboys managed to keep the poachers at bay, and it appeared to pay dividends in 2010 when he guided the team to a 5-3 finish after a 1-7 start under Wade Phillips. During the offseason, he tasked Rob Ryan with improving a defense that surrendered the second-most points in the league last season. Confidence has already risen, as evidenced by Ryan’s comments seemingly directed at the Eagles: “I don’t know if we win the all-hype team. I think that might have gone to somebody else, but we’re going to beat their ass when we play them.”

  3. Will the Eagles’ big offseason result in a big season?

    That hype has come with additions of Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Ronnie Brown. Before their active offseason, the Eagles were already favored to win the NFC East — now they’re drawing comparisons to the Miami Heat and the Dream Team, the latter of which was made by new backup quarterback Vince Young. Meeting immense expectations, especially those you have for yourself, can be extraordinarily difficult. Just ask the 2000 Redskins.

  4. Will the Jets actually follow through on Rex Ryan’s guarantee?

    On multiple occasions, Rex Ryan has predicted a Jets’ Super Bowl victory. Last May, in a display of unity, Bart Scott backed his coach by saying the Jets would be a “joke” by not following through on the latest guarantee. Such confidence is why they rarely lack swagger and intensity, which makes them one of the most captivating teams to watch in the league. Their reputation has been forged with stingy defense — last season, it ranked third in the league in yards allowed per game — but the offense wasn’t bad either, tallying the fourth-most rushing yards per game in the league. The continued development of Mark Sanchez and the passing game could prevent Ryan from looking like a “joke.”

  5. Will the Patriots’ new veterans propel the team to the Super Bowl?

    Attempting to keep up with their division rival, the Patriots have added a few big names. Bill Belichick is now faced with maximizing the contributions of Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis in an effort to reverse his team’s recent playoff misfortunes. Ellis, who always performed well against the Pats, was selected by the Jets in the first round of the 2000 draft with the pick they were awarded when Belichick left for the Pats. The obstacles of age and attitude haven’t slowed the coach in the past, and he figures to have his latest assemblage of characters competing for a deep playoff run.


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