With the majority of NFL training camps commencing Tuesday, let’s take a look at 10 intriguing storylines for the 2021 season.
The NFL is truly a reality show.
Every year, there are numerous storylines to follow for various teams — will this young quarterback take the leap? Will that big offseason move pay off? Is this team really a Super Bowl contender?
The upcoming season is no different.
What are some of the best storylines to follow for the 2021 NFL campaign?
Giants: DJ’s Time to Shine
The third-year player, who Big Blue drafted in 2019’s first round, now has a talented unit of offensive weapons (at least on paper) that should assist in his development. This group includes a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Kenny Golladay, a versatile wideout in 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney, and a returning Saquon Barkley.
Jones will additionally be in the same system (with head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett) for the second consecutive season, which will be a first for him in the NFL.
DJ must prove he’s the long-term answer in East Rutherford. If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised if the Giants look to move on.
Rams: Super Bowl Contenders?
This Rams team was a playoff squad last year, and that was with an inconsistent quarterback in Jared Goff.
But following a bombshell offseason trade, the team is moving forward with Matthew Stafford under center.
Stafford has been one of the more productive quarterbacks in the league over the last decade but couldn’t conjure up a noteworthy number of wins in Detroit due to poor coaching and inconsistent assistance. Now, he resides in a much better system.
An offense led by him and head coach Sean McVay paired with a spectacular defense should be fun to watch. Could it lead L.A. to February football?
Jets: A New Era in Florham Park
Two wins in 2020 led to the Jets making changes this offseason.
Major changes, that is.
The organization parted ways with former head coach Adam Gase to make way for the hire of Robert Saleh. New York additionally traded 2018 first-round quarterback Sam Darnold back in April in order to draft Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall.
Not to mention, the Jets also acquired numerous talented bodies on either side of the ball via free agency and the draft, such as receivers Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, running back Michael Carter, offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, linebacker Jarrad Davis, and defensive end Carl Lawson.
On paper, this current Jets roster is much improved in comparison to last year’s version. It’s a new era in Florham Park with a number of new faces — could it point the Jets in the right direction?
Dolphins: Is Tua Tagovailoa the Answer?
We used to hear “Tank for Tua.”
Now we’re wondering whether he’s legitimately the answer in Miami.
Regardless, ahead of the new season, the Dolphins are seemingly sticking with their 2020 first-round pick. But he’ll need to prove he’s the right man for the job during his sophomore pro campaign.
Tagovailoa threw for just 11 touchdowns in 10 games last year and recorded an 87.1 passer rating. He must improve those statistics in 2021.
Bills: MVP Quarterback Josh Allen?
It all came together for Josh Allen last year.
The Bills quarterback and 2018 first-round pick underwent a stellar season and proved he’s Buffalo’s answer at quarterback. The organization did a great job building around him by trading for Stefon Diggs and Allen capitalized on the opportunity en route to a Pro Bowl bid and a spot on the All-Pro second team.
Now, it’s time to take that next step.
A prototypical quarterback with great size, arm strength, and mobility, Allen is only going to keep improving. I truly think he has a legitimate chance of earning the 2021 NFL MVP Award given his talent and the superb situation he’s in.
Colts: Wentz’s Resurgence?
Sometimes, you just need a change of scenery in order to locate success.
That could be the case for quarterback Carson Wentz in Indianapolis.
The now-former Eagle underwent his worst season in 2020, throwing a league-leading 15 interceptions while recording a career-low 57.4% completion rate and career-low 72.8 passer rating.
But now, he’s on a much better roster with a superior coaching staff led by Frank Reich. Indy made the postseason two of the last three years and fielded three different primary starting quarterbacks during that span (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, and Philip Rivers).
With a great offensive line and a unit of offensive weapons that includes T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman, and Jonathan Taylor, Wentz could put last year’s blunders in the rearview.
Jaguars: Hello, Trevor. Hello, Urban. Hello…Tebow?
If there was one thing that was absolutely going to occur in this year’s draft, it was that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was going to head to Jacksonville as the No. 1 overall pick.
A new era of Jaguars football with Lawrence and head coach Urban Meyer is thus beginning down in Florida.
The duo will look to eventually take this team back to the postseason after it endured a disastrous one-win 2020 campaign.
But the organization made another headline-worthy move this offseason: the signing of Tim Tebow to be a tight end.
The former Broncos and Jets quarterback hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2012 and may not even make the final roster. Therefore, the fact the organization even took the time to consider his addition is…interesting.
Will the Lawrence-Meyer era get off to a good start? Will Tebow even be on the team come Week 1?
Chargers: Possible AFC Playoff Squad
The Los Angeles Chargers are absolutely on the up-and-up.
Last year, they fielded a top-ten defense.
They employ talented offensive weapons in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler.
The offensive line is expected to improve with 2021 first-round tackle Rashawn Slater.
They fixed their head coaching issue with the firing of Anthony Lynn and subsequent hiring of Brandon Staley.
And they possess one of the top young quarterbacks in the league in Justin Herbert.
The Chargers seemingly have many of the pieces in place and could definitely finish second in the AFC West. This would potentially lead to them earning a Wild Card berth while Kansas City most likely finishes atop the division.
Looking at the schedule, Los Angeles may certainly win 10 games, which could propel the team to January football.
Panthers: Sam the Man
The trade that some saw coming occurred in April when the Jets parted ways with Sam Darnold.
The young quarterback, who’s entering just his fourth pro season, didn’t have a superb supporting cast during his tenure in Florham Park.
In 2021, that’s not supposed to be the case.
Darnold is headed to a Panthers team led by a coaching duo in head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. He’ll additionally be playing alongside superstar back Christian McCaffrey and a familiar face in wideout Robby Anderson.
The excuses for Darnold are diminishing though — he must now prove he’s capable of becoming a long-term starter in this league.
Seeing how the 2018 No. 3 overall pick operates on a new team should be intriguing — just as intriguing as seeing if the Panthers can unlock Sam’s full potential.
Buccaneers: Time to Repeat?
Many signs point toward the Buccaneers at least coming close to winning their second consecutive Super Bowl title.
The team is returning all 22 Super Bowl starters and there is pure momentum coming off February’s championship win over Kansas City.
The defense is stellar, the offense feels as if it employs an endless number of weapons, and Tom Brady is under center.
Could the G.O.A.T. win his eighth title? Could he solidify himself as part of two separate dynasties throughout his career?