Friday, May 24, 2024

NFL Rookie Diary – Week one – Entry one

With kick off in the 2019 NFL season now just a matter of mere hours away, we are launching our ‘NFL Rookie diary’. The plan is that I, a (near) NFL rookie fan, will take you from week to week talking about the game for the more casual fans, as well as those fans who are relatively new to the game.

Each week, I’ll be telling you everything I’ve learned from the weekly match-ups across the league, as well as giving you my own take on the matches, who I thought performed well, and who I’m not so much liking the look of. I’ll also try my very best to explain some of the more complicated parts of the game, if and when they arise.

A little bit about my NFL experience

As a relatively young man, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time as of yet watching the National Football League. I first started getting into the sport in the 2013 season where I fell in love with Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos team. I watched as much as I could every week as Denver marched through to the Super Bowl, only to have my frail, 15-year-old heart smashed by the Seahawks.

Since then, I have been loyal to my beloved Broncos, watching on as we went to the Super Bowl again back in 2015 – this time with a significantly better outcome. In the six years or so I’ve been watching, I have learned a lot – but there’s still a lot more I don’t know than there is that I do.

I tend to find the hardest thing to keep up with in the NFL is the players. Each team has such a high turnover of players that it’s almost impossible to keep tabs on every player – sometimes even in your own team. When it comes to things like schemes and formations, I’m getting better, but I still don’t know much.

I tend to find that with the more casual fans, especially those who, like me, hail from the United Kingdom, often run into the same issues with their understanding of the game. So that’s why I’ve started writing this ‘rookie diary’ – hopefully it’ll be a way for us to navigate the NFL together. As I learn, you learn – at least that’s the idea…

Week One

Most of my attention in week one is focused on Monday night when the Broncos take on Oakland out in California. However, there’s a few days of action before that, starting tonight when the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears face off in an NFC North clash in the Windy City.

I have to say, having written a preview for Chicago Bears season a few days back, I am looking forward to this one. Last year, they had one of the best defensive coordinators around last season in Vic Fangio, but now he’s gone (to become Broncos HC – YAAAS!) it’ll be interesting to see just how much the defence suffers as a result.

In terms of Green Bay, I’ve always been a big fan of them – I love the small town, big club mentality that they have up there. I’m also a big fan of their QB, Aaron Rodgers. Now an NFL veteran, Rodgers has had a cracking career and will be remembered as one of the all time greats when he retires.

Other match-ups I have my eye on this week include New York Giants and their road visit to Dallas – always a feisty game. As well as that, Tennessee Titans taking on Cleveland should be a good game, I’m excited to see how the Browns manage this year with all the hype surrounding them. Finally, Pittsburgh will be making the trip to Boston to take on the (once again) defending champs, New England Patriots.

If you would like to see the whole lineup of fixtures for week one and check when your team is playing, you can do so here:

What I’ve learned this week

So, as the season hasn’t actually begun yet, there hasn’t been a lot to learn. One thing that there was to note is that on Saturday, we had the final roster cuts – where every side whittled their active roster down to the maximum 53 players allowed.

It intrigues me to see just how cut-throat the NFL is – Over 1000 players were cut before the 4pm deadline on Saturday afternoon. When you think about it, that number is insanely high – that’s 1000 people who’ve essentially just lost their jobs. Some of them will find other teams, but a lot of them won’t – what do they do next?

It’s a very harsh environment, especially for those who are so young just coming out of college. To be cut at this tender stage of their career must be devastating, not only to their prospects of making it in the league, but to their confidence too. Football is all they know from being in middle school or younger – when that gets ripped away from them, where in the hell do turn next? Another teams practice squad? The CFL? The XFL? There ain’t so many places to go to making a solid living in this sport.

Maybe teams should bare that in mind when they bring in 20-30 undrafted free agents every season just to release 90% of them a month later.

Alright, so that just about concludes the first entry into my NFL rookie diary, but do stay tuned as this will be a running feature throughout the season.

If you have any suggestions, anything to add on what I’ve said or even if you think I may have gotten one or two things wrong, drop me a comment below and we can have a chat about it. Similarly, any questions you think I might be able to answer, drop them in the comments box below.

I’ll be back next week with entry number two.

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