Other than Christmas, there is no day that compares to the opening of a brand new NFL season. Every team has altered their personnel, some more than others (cough cough, Oakland), you never know what you are going to get. Will Seattle continue their reign of dominance? Will Peyton Manning and the retooled Broncos make it back to the big game? Will Blake Bortles see the field this year? The NFL is the one league that is so unconventional, that it is near impossible to successfully predict how the season will play out. Which quarterbacks will become elite and join the likes of Manning, Rodgers, Brady, and Brees?
Stafford will join the group of elite Quarterbacks
Matthew Stafford has been a turnover machine throughout the duration of his career with the Lions. So what makes this year any different?
Well for starters, Matthew Stafford has a few new toys to play with this year. The Lions added the slick receiver Golden Tate who is coming fresh off a Superbowl win. Tate is a great possession receiver that will help pick up first downs, something the Lions really struggled at last year. Next, enter first round pick Eric Ebron who is a freak athlete at the tight end position. He has drawn comparisons to Vernon Davis coming out of college. You throw these two pieces next to Megatron, who is simply the most dominant receiver in football, the Lions could be scary good on offense.
Let’s face it, the Detroit Lions were poorly coached under Jim Schwartz. They simply didn’t know how to conduct themselves and we saw it by the extensive amount of personal fouls that were called on them over the past few years. Schwartz is gone and now Jim Caldwell calls the shots. Caldwell will bring the best out of this Detroit Lions unit especially Matthew Stafford. It was only two years ago when Jim Caldwell turned around the Ravens and the struggling Joe Flacco and morphed them into Superbowl champions. When Jim Caldwell was the quarterback coach, Flacco has never played better in his life. I expect similar results with Stafford.
Stafford is an ultra talented quarterback with one of the best arms in the game. His main flaw is his lack of ball protection. There have been too many times where the Lions have a good drive going until Stafford unnecessarily forces the ball and gets picked off. Jim Caldwell is going to teach Stafford that that’s not the proper way to play quarterback. I predict that Stafford’s interception total will nearly be cut in half this year as he will become one of the more efficient passers in the NFL.
Cutler takes his game to the next level
Whether it’s his grouchy demeanor or his lack of playoff success, Jay Cutler is one of the most criticized quarterbacks in the NFL. Cutler hasn’t lived up to the hype since he came to Chicago and he has had many Bears fans second guessing his future as their starting quarterback.
So why is Cutler going to turn it around this year?
First off, he’s going to have to stay on the field. He finally has a stable offensive line that he trusts. In the past, Cutler has had numerous notable feuds with his lineman who simply couldn’t hold a block. Hence Cutler was one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the NFL and his name was frequently found on the injury report. He now has a strong group of “big uglys” in front of him, Cutler should now be standing upright for most of the season.
Like his fellow NFC North rival Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler has a lot of weapons at his disposal. He has the top wide receiver duo in the NFL in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Both of these receivers are big, strong, and are a big play waiting to happen. They also signed former Superbowl MVP Santonio Holmes this off season. The Bears have no idea what they are going to get out of Holmes, but if he becomes an accountable slot receiver, Jay Cutler could be unstoppable this year. And we can’t forget about Matt Forte who is one of the premier running backs in the game. Forte plays a big factor to Cutler’s success. Forte is one of the best receiving backs in football and is a great screen play option. The more Cutler puts the ball in Forte’s hands, the stronger the Bears will be.
This is the year Jay Cutler finally gets over the hump and takes this Bears team deep in the playoffs. Their defense is the only thing holding them back from being a real Superbowl contender. Mark my words, after the 2014 season, Cutler will be considered one of the top quarterbacks in football.