When you are sweltering in the heat of two-a -ays during the start of NFL training camp there are always questions that need to be answered before the games count. Such is the case in Ashburn, Va. where –despite their stability this off-season–the Burgundy and Gold still have enough questions to ponder before drinking the playoff Kool Aid.
In order of importance here is the first “Groove” Theory for the 2K9 edition of the Burgundy & Gold.
(5) The “U” guys: We’ve been dealing with the influence of the contingent of former Miami Hurricanes who have all gotten paid but haven’t performed at a championship level. There is no “U” in championship or team. Clinton Portis and Santana Moss grab the headlines but not enough touchdowns and Rocky McIntosh is a recovering work in progress. They aren’t the Canes of Baltimore (Ray Lewis & Ed Reed) but they are a year older. If they don’t make the playoffs this year it might be time to start thinking about the great “U” purge…which is another word you can’t spell without the “U”.
(4) Injured Assets: Too many veteran players on either line are coming off injury and are being counted on to play big and stay healthy. Randy Thomas and Phillip Daniels come back after major surgeries. Thomas neck issues and Daniels knee have to be concerns after spending $100 million on Albert Haynesworth which has left no money available to build depth on the most important charts on the roster.
(3) Campbell’s Character: Jason Campbell has the skills to be a Pro Bowl quarterback: smart, athletic, big arm, etc. However, is it in his demeanor to be unpopular in the huddle to win games? Can he deliver a swift kick when his lineman are getting beat and not helping him up or his receivers are dropping balls? The Theismann beefs with his receivers are the stuff of legend and he also won a ring by challenging his teammates with ferocity. Does Jason have that in him?
(2) Z-Man Cometh Into Own: The systems are in place and the team knows what to expect from coach Jim Zorn in year two. Now, does he mature as a game manager and play caller. Will he make better use of his timeouts and challenges? Can he make halftime adjustments or change the team’s tendancies during the second half of the season? Is the play calling still so predictable that you can’t score on fourth and goal against the Bengals?
(1) Catch This: Who will step up as the consistent downfield threat if the offensive line protects Campbell? Moss is the home run threat but will pull a hamstring, quad, or something and then what? Chris Cooley is an all pro tight end but Fred Davis can be a game changer down field if they find a way to use him. Devin Thomas has mastered the social scene but can he move the chains? Malcolm Kelly has the tools and the work ethic but will his knee hold up?
These are the questions inquiring minds want answered by the end of camp.