Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer. The unofficial start of the fall? Sept. 5, 2013, when the Denver Broncos host the reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. With the first game exactly 100 days away, there's still plenty of time for notable developments to occur. What's one thing you expect will go down before the 2013 season officially kicks off?
Geno Smith will grab the Jets' job by Opening DayI expect the New York Jets to open the season with Geno Smith as the starting quarterback -- not that this will strike anyone as a surprise, based on Mark Sanchez's performance over the past two seasons. Still, putting a rookie in the starting role is certainly a gamble for a coach who is reportedly on the hot seat.
However, Rex Ryan doesn't have much of a choice, due to the lack of confidence his locker room seems to have in the incumbent starter. Sanchez seems to simply lack the leadership skills and swagger to guide the Jets out of the doldrums and back into postseason contention. Most importantly, he lacks the game to help the Jets contend with the elite teams in the AFC. That alone should lead Ryan to tap the former West Virginia standout as the starter, despite the questions about his readiness to play.
Matt Ryan's on the verge of getting PAID by the FalconsEvery year brings a few more player suspensions, and this year won't be any different. I'm also expecting a couple of players to sustain critical injuries in the preseason. There is no way to predict these things; teams just have to adjust to them.
Additionally, I expect to see the signing of one more big quarterback contract. With extensions already done for Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers, logic says that Matt Ryan -- who is entering the last year of his contract -- will be next.
The time is now for both sides to finish the deal, but there is more pressure on the Atlanta Falcons to get it done. Even if Ryan were to get hurt, Atlanta would have to franchise him at the very least, if not continue efforts to lock him up with a long-term deal.
Geno Smith will send Mark Sanchez to the benchI expect Geno Smith to be named the starting quarterback of the New York Jets. His skill set is superior to that of Mark Sanchez. And at this point, Sanchez's experience seems to be a negative, rather than a positive; he just has too many bad habits and memories to get rid of.
Cutting Sanchez seemingly would make this a simpler process, but nothing in New York is simple. So I expect Sanchez to go into the season as an $8 million backup.
Peyton Manning will be prematurely crowned -- againThe media will once again give Peyton Manning the Lombardi Trophy before the season starts. It's as much of a fall tradition as the changing of the leaves and the rolling out of another bad NBC sitcom. And yet, every year it seems like Peyton's season ends pretty much the same way "Animal Practice" ended on NBC. Well, perhaps 14 seasons isn't enough of a sample size to truly gauge Peyton's playoff savvy.
The excuse-makers always bring up his weapons and constantly stress that this is a team game, but the excuses are out the window this year. With Wes Welker in the mix, it's time for Manning to put a stamp on his career.
Jets will stir up the tabloids with three notable movesContinuing their trend of at least winning the headline wars, the Jets will make three big moves over the next couple of months. First, they'll sign Brandon Lloyd. With a receiving corps that is overrun with injuries and question marks, they have nowhere to turn for help, as they didn't draft any up-and-comers. The longer they go without seeing Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill in practice, the more they'll panic. Eventually, they'll decide to sign someone who is a) familiar with the New England Patriots and b) would come in as no worse than their second-best wideout.
Second, if the Jets get an inkling that the legal process isn't going to go their way with Mike Goodson, they'll release him and sign Ahmad Bradshaw. While Bradshaw doesn't have the West Coast offense skills that coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was hoping to get out of Goodson, the veteran back provides a safety net if something doesn't go right with Chris Ivory. There aren't many landing spots where Bradshaw can count on getting playing time, so he'll come cheap.
Finally, all of this will look like a warm-up act when the Jets waive Mark Sanchez. We spent a lot of time on his three-pick day during organized team activities, but his ultimate fate has nothing to do with how he plays. As long as Geno Smith continues to improve and play well, he'll open the season as the Jets' starter, and Sanchez will be let go during the summer. You don't get bashed by your head coach after Day 2 of OTAs unless the writing is on the wall. But he won't be out of work long. After the Jets let him go, the drama will really get going. He'll land in either Jacksonville or Cleveland as a backup/potential starter down the road.