NFL Preseason 2021: What to Watch This 12 months

The NFL preseason is designed to make us overreact to minutiae. The NFL needs our consideration on soccer all year long, so the league (and people of us who write about it) will make an enormous deal out of just about something it may. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Tim Tebow to play tight finish in an offseason stunt, then lower him after one preseason sport? It’s an enormous story. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a considerably heated battle for his or her backup quarterback job? A giant deal. An Indianapolis Colts operating again will get a preseason taunting penalty? That’s huge.



Bluster apart, the 2021 NFL preseason does have a couple of storylines that may have a serious influence because the clock ticks towards the common season. Listed here are 4 of the largest inquiries to be sorted out over the approaching weeks.

Will 2020’s injured quarterbacks make a wholesome return?

The Cincinnati Bengals would possibly take important steps ahead this 12 months. They’ve been slowly accumulating expertise, particularly on offense, and that ought to make it more durable for them to stay one of many worst groups within the league. They even have contemporary new uniforms to mark a brand new period. However the Bengals aren’t going to be any good if 2020’s No. 1 total draft decide, QB Joe Burrow, doesn’t rebound from the ACL and MCL tears he suffered 9 months in the past.

The Dallas Cowboys are a perpetual disappointment, however they do have plenty of expertise, they usually play in a weak NFC East division that may very well be up for grabs this 12 months. To win it, the Cowboys will want their QB, Dak Prescott, to be one thing near his typical self. Prescott spent his offseason rehabbing from a proper ankle fracture, and he’s now coping with a shoulder ailment.

If Burrow is wholesome, the Bengals may very well be one of many AFC’s shock groups. If Prescott is wholesome, the Cowboys might win their division. In the event that they don’t make full recoveries, although, then each of these eventualities change into a lot much less possible.

Will the Chicago Bears let Justin Fields play?

Fields is the quarterback of the Bears’ future. Is he additionally the quarterback of their current? The reply will go a great distance towards figuring out if Chicago could make the playoffs in his rookie 12 months. The idea earlier in the summertime was that veteran free agent signing Andy Dalton would begin the season underneath heart. However Dalton is nobody’s thought of an inspiring alternative, and at any fee, he’s at present protecting Fields’ seat heat. If Fields is able to go instantly, the Bears’ upside climbs a bit increased.

By each account, Fields has had an encouraging coaching camp. He additionally regarded nice within the Bears’ first preseason sport in opposition to the Miami Dolphins, finishing 14 of 20 passes for 142 touchdowns and throwing in one other TD as a runner. Studying into preseason outcomes just isn’t an excellent thought, however there are plenty of different causes to assume Fields may very well be good shortly. Early pleasure about him is extra a mirrored image of his total observe file than his efficiency in a single single sport.

To what extent will the pandemic have an effect on the season?

The NFL was decided to play each scheduled sport in 2020 and did that regardless of COVID-19 forcing frequent postponements and rescheduled contests. In 2021, the scenario ought to be fairly a bit higher. Followers shall be allowed again—at full capability—in each NFL stadium. As well as, the league says 90 % of its gamers have been vaccinated, which ought to maintain outbreaks to a minimal.

At this level, it’s simple to see the league taking part in a whole season as scheduled and doing it in a a lot safer means than in 2020. The preseason seems to be going effectively, whilst some high-profile anti-vaccine gamers get headlines. Hopefully the Delta variant doesn’t alter the general image because the season ramps up.

What is going to the NFL and the Houston Texans do about Deshaun Watson?

There’s not a lot to say about Watson’s on-field scenario in the intervening time, on condition that 22 ladies are suing him for sexual misconduct and the FBI has opened an investigation. The Texans appear dedicated to protecting Watson regardless of his needs, which suggests he’s nonetheless slated to be the staff’s quarterback this season. However the NFL can also be investigating Watson, and that may possible end in some type of suspension—leaving the Texans to discover a new QB.

The day is quickly approaching when Houston’s administration must determine in the event that they’re OK with placing Watson on the sphere whereas he’s going through allegations from practically two dozen ladies. It doesn’t look like a tenable scenario, and in contrast to the course of COVID or groups’ on-field choices, the NFL decides the way it ends.

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