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Grab Your Clipboard: Random Thoughts As NFL Season Begins

We love Theodore Roosevelt here at Tiebreaker.com. And we especially adore his “Man In The Arena” speech delivered in Paris in April 1910.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”

Right on, Teddy!

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However, that does not mean we can’t take a few shots or make assumptions about the upcoming NFL season, because what would the world be like without critical thought and expression?

And so…

— The Philadelphia Eagles, who begin defense of their NFL championship Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons, will not win the Super Bowl again. Last season was blessed with fairy dust. How else would you explain Nick Foles’ renaissance in the postseason, his Super Bowl MVP? No team has won consecutive Super Bowls since the New England Patriots in 2004-05. But they had Bill Belichick. Doug Pederson? You sir, are no Bill Belichick.

— The Cleveland Browns will live to regret using their first overall pick on Baker Mayfield and not Sam Darnold. It’s been five months since they made the decision and it’s still hard to fathom why they did. The Browns are 1-31 over the last two seasons. They need a spark, a reason to live. Tyrod Taylor? Seriously? The Jets have nothing to lose, as well. And they seem to get it.

— Back to Belichick. The offseason was filled with inuendo that Patriots veterans had finally grown tired of their coach. Upon signing with the Miami Dolphins, Danny Amendola said this: “It’s not easy, that’s for sure. He’s an (expletive) sometimes,” Amendola told the Miami Herald. “There were a lot of things I didn’t like about playing for him, but I must say, the things I didn’t like were all in regards to getting the team better, and I respected him.”

That’s all well and good. But the bottom line is the AFC East still stinks, so the Patriots are a good bet to win homefield in the playoffs. Not only that, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs can’t beat them. It’s the Patriots Way again.

— The most important position in football is quarterback. Didn’t Jon Gruden say that once or twice? Great defensive players are only crucial. So let’s congratulate the agents for linebacker Khalil Mack ($141 million) and Aaron Donald ($135 million) for being able to extort this kind of cash from the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams. Let’s put it this way, if Mitchell Trubisky and Jared Goff struggle this season, there’s nothing either Mack or Donald will be able to do to save their teams.

— Listen, Ryan Fitzpatrick in a nice guy, a Harvard man. He sports one of the dignified beards in  professional sports. But when he is the starting quarterback of your football team, that generally indicates your team is treading water. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have that distinction this season, at least for the first three games while the perpetually troublesome Jameis Winston serves his three-game suspension. Fitzpatrick, 35, has started 119 games in 13 seasons with 26,991 career passing yards and they were 2-1 last year after Winston hurt his shoulder. But he should be a professor by now.

— The Minnesota Vikings had three quarterbacks last season on the way to the NFC championship game – Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. They begin the season without any of them. What essentially was a 3-for-1 deal brings Kirk Cousins and his $84 million to the Vikings with former Denver Broncos starter Trevor Siemian as his backup.  The Vikings have not won the NFC since 1976 when Fran Tarkenton was their quarterback. Is there pressure on Cousins? Did Vikings wear hats with horns?

— There are a number of NFL head coaches clearly at the end of their ropes. John Harbaugh (Baltimore), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati), Jason Garrett (Dallas), Ron Rivera (Carolina) and Hue Jackson (Cleveland) are in danger of losing their jobs if their seasons go south again. Keep in mind, Jackson has one only one game in Cleveland the last two seasons and Lewis has not won a playoff game since he arrived in 2003.

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