The Schein Nine  

 

Melvin Gordon a bust? Jimmy Garoppolo a stud? Not so fast

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We spend a lot of time talking. It's what we do as human beings -- and particularly, as sports fans.

But not all chatter is created equal.

A lot of what is discussed in August -- before the real, live regular-season football kicks off -- is ... well ... hot air. Not to fret: I'm here to debunk the bunk! Allow me to identify a few topics of conversation that we absolutely, positively will not be having in October.

Here are nine things we won't be saying by midseason:

1) "EJ Manuel looks great as the Bills' starting quarterback."

I am stunned beyond belief that Manuel is starting the ultra-important third preseason game for the Buffalo Bills. Honestly, I think there's a better chance Manuel doesn't start another game in the NFL than he starts for the Bills this season.

It's pretty clear that Rex Ryan wants Tyrod Taylor to be his guy. So why wouldn't he start Taylor against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, thus allowing the 26-year-old to get the necessary reps and experience with the first team? Seems like the sensible route to me. Instead, Buffalo will roll out its third starting quarterback of the preseason (Matt Cassel started in Week 1 and Taylor got the nod in Week 2). I just don't get it. Is this tee-ball? Everybody plays!!

A mishandling of the quarterback position helped doom Rex in New York. Now he's starting down the same confusing and counterproductive road in Buffalo.

2) "Running back by committee? Yeah, that's the right approach in Detroit."

No chance anyone will say this about the Lions for the foreseeable future. Rookie Ameer Abdullah, as I've written before, is an absolute gem. He was a steal for Detroit in the back half of the second round, and it's only a matter of time before he steals the bulk of the snaps in the Lions' backfield. (Apologies to Joique Bell and Theo Riddick.)

Abdullah is a true all-around back. With rare lateral quickness and agility, he's quite a threat running the football. And he's also a weapon in the passing game, as evidenced by his seven receiving touchdowns over his final three years at Nebraska. I see Abdullah being right in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

3) "Melvin Gordon wasn't worth a first-round pick."

While Abdullah immediately has made a name for himself in the preseason, Gordon -- the running back drafted 39 picks earlier -- has struggled to make a mark. Still, I am not at all concerned with the Chargers running back getting off to a slow start. It's easy to get carried away by one uninspiring performance in August (Gordon rushed for 11 yards on six carries in the preseason opener, then sat out Week 2 with a minor ankle injury), but this cat rushed for 4,196 yards and 41 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Wisconsin. That kind of insane production is no fluke.

Gordon is a great fit in San Diego. Nobody will be pining for Ryan Mathews. Gordon, like any rookie, will experience growing pains. But I'm also convinced that he will dazzle and shine and show his worth. Eventually, his mother, Carmen Gordon, will indeed wear her son's No. 28 jersey in the stands.

4) "Jimmy Garoppolo should be the Patriots' starter."

At the moment, Garoppolo is in line to start the first four games of the season, with Tom Brady due to serve a four-game suspension. Of course, that could change in the coming days. It all depends on how Judge Richard Berman views Brady's appeal. (For what it's worth, I personally think Brady's suspension should be wiped out.) But let's say Jimmy G does go under center for the first quarter of the season. What will happen? Well, I expect that he'll acquit himself pretty well behind the masterful game-planning of Bill Belichick and Co. Not saying the Pats will go a perfect 4-0, but I don't see the team completely falling apart without Brady for that period, either. That said, there is a zero percent chance New England will even think about Garoppolo whenever Brady is eligible to play.

Remember last September, when the Chiefs absolutely lambasted the Pats, 41-14, dropping New England to 2-2. Brady committed three turnovers in a lackluster performance, while Garoppolo came in and completed six of his seven throws for 70 yards and a touchdown. In the postgame, one reporter asked Belichick if the quarterback position would be re-evaluated. Remember the Hoodie's incredulous response?

Whatever happens in the coming months, let's all promise to remember that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history, while Jimmy Garoppolo's a second-year backup. Don't overthink it.

5) "The Ndamukong Suh signing was a mistake."

Every game, all season

I love Suh. Sure, the price tag was steep at $114 million (with $60 million guaranteed), but he's worth every penny. He's going to make a major impact right off the bat, and inherently, the Miami Dolphins' defense is going to dominate. Edge rushers Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon will handsomely benefit from playing alongside the new man in the middle.

I liked seeing Suh say this Dolphins defense has more talent than last year's spectacular Lions unit. He's raising the bar. And at the midway point of this season, the hot topic in Miami is going to be how many more wins it'll take to hit the playoffs.

6) "The Seahawks are the best team in the NFC."

I'm not entirely convinced they will even be the best in the West, with Arizona rising, but I'm not willing to go that far quite yet. When it comes to assessing the broader NFC race, though, I have many reasons to believe Seattle will take a step back.

The Kam Chancellor holdout is a problem. And Chancellor aside, the "Legion of Boom" is nicked up and has some fresh faces playing prominent roles. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line got weaker this offseason, losing Max Unger (in the Jimmy Graham trade) and James Carpenter (in free agency). Oh, and Green Bay still employs Aaron Rodgers.

Also, I believe in the Super Bowl hangover for the losing team. The Seahawks can't stop talking about the ill-fated call that doomed them in the big game this past season. They haven't moved on. Midway through the year, we won't be talking about three straight Super Bowls for Seattle.

7) "Yes, Robert Griffin III is once again the future of the Redskins."

You can see the writing on the wall. Jay Gruden clearly has little patience for RGIII's drama and poor play, which is why he benched the quarterback last year. I don't think we will be calling him Washington's signal caller midway through the year. He will talk and play his way out of the job.

This just isn't the same guy who beat out Andrew Luck for the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Since blowing out his knee at the end of that season, he has not adapted his game to his remaining skill set. And he's taken a beating this preseason. RGIII was initially cleared to play against the Ravens this week, but on Friday the Redskins announced the QB will sit out after a neurologist revisited the concussion data.

8) "Jay Cutler has finally reached his potential."

At this point, it's hard to imagine this will ever be said. Martellus Bennett's recent comments hammer home an increasingly obvious point: Jay Cutler is not a leader. And when you're an NFL quarterback, that is a serious problem.

Here's what Cutler is known for being right now: a coach killer. He's a modern-day Jeff George -- an amazingly gifted quarterback with immense potential forever untapped.

9) "Blake Bortles has found it."

Play NFL Fantasy Football!

I hope, for the sake of Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell, that we are saying this by November, but color me skeptical. Bortles struggled mightily last season, throwing 11 touchdown passes against 17 picks. Will it click in Year 2? That remains to be seen. Again, though, I have my doubts.

Jacksonville doesn't ooze talent around the quarterback, and Bortles needs to make better in-game decisions. I'm not giving up on Bortles at all. I'm just not expecting him to have a juggernaut first half. And what happens if the losses continue to pile up? The Jags have won a grand total of nine games in Shahid Khan's first three years as owner. With another lackluster year, will he look to make some changes in the team's power structure? Will Bortles be forced to develop in a new system?

OK, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. But wait: Wasn't that the point of this column?

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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