D.A.'s Lessons Learned From The NFL Preseason

Many of D.A.'s training-camp questions have been answered. Colts fans can probably say the same.

Damon Amendolara
August 31, 2018 - 12:04 pm

USA Today Images

At the beginning of August, we laid out the 10 biggest questions heading into Training Camp. Now that the preseason is over, it's time to see what answers we received. 

10) Is this the end of Joe Flacco? Answer: Not yet 

While the former Super Bowl MVP hasn't exactly been Tom Brady this preseason, his predicted crash did not happen either. If Flacco was to be displaced by the opener, Lamar Jackson had to have a near-flawless training camp, and while he improved, the transition will not happen yet. So for now, Flacco still is the starting quarterback in Baltimore. 

9) Is Josh Rosen going to start the opener? Answer: No

Cardinals brass never truly wanted the rookie to take over too soon. They seem to like Sam Bradford, and believe Arizona is not far from being a contender. Throwing a rookie quarterback out there would hamper the playoff run, and with the return of David Johnson, the Cards didn't have the stomach to punt on the season. Rosen only got 29 passes this preseason. As talented as he is, Rosen is not being groomed to take over immediately. Then again, with Bradford's inevitable injury, we'll likely see plenty of him this season. 

8) Is Patrick Mahomes ready? Answer: Hopefully

There is no controversy or debate within the organization. Ready or not, the youngster is the starter. He has shown flashes this preseason, his strong arm on display, and his overall comfort growing by the snap. But there's also moments of scattershot throws and inexperience showing. The Chiefs have been an annual playoff contender since Andy Reid arrived at Arrowhead. Mahomes better be ready, because the Chiefs are good enough to win the division if so. 

7) Is Jimmy G really this good? Answer: Eh

Look, Garoppolo is obviously a solid quarterback. No one does what he did last year and ends up a scrapheap disaster. But the expectations are huge for him, and the preseason showed plenty of ups and downs. Some of that is based on the lack of talent in his supporting cast. There were plenty of drops in the exhibition season. Some of that is last year just wasn't a fair indicator of how difficult the transition to franchise quarterback can be. Jimmy Hollywood is good, but his hype is so enormous right now it skews reality. 

6) Is Odell back to being Odell? Answer: Yes 

From a purely physical standpoint, Beckham hasn't shown any lack of burst or timidness in playing the way he did before the injury last year. The Giants saw enough to reward him with a monster contract. Will the money take the edge off Odell? Will he still be hungry? Could the contract make him entitled and allow him to lose focus? Possibly, but doubtful. The Giants receiver seems motivated to prove everyone he's worth the money. 

5) Will Dez Bryant find a job? Answer: No 

The former Cowboys wideout wants to paint a picture of comfort and confidence. He's telling everyone he's turning down offers, and will play when he chooses. But that feels like a humbled man spinning the story. If the Browns are only offering him a one-year, prove-it deal, it's hard to imagine other teams (better teams), needing Dez. 

4) Can Kirk Cousins take the Vikings to the next level? Answer: TBD

Now we know the Jets offered him even more guaranteed money, and he turned it down to play for a Super Bowl. This should earn him respect in the locker room, and he knows how much pressure is on him. Cousins has shown nothing this preseason to deny the Vikings made the right decision in giving him the cash. But his true report card will be in January, not August. 

3) Can Jon Gruden coach? Answer: It's complicated 

Chucky says the things fans want to hear. He seems to have won over a key ally in Derek Carr. But his feud with Khalil Mack is senseless. Why enter into a standoff with one of the best defensive players in the league? The Raiders defense needs Khalil. The coach got his money, but apparently he doesn't want to share that same generosity with his players. They'll go nowhere without Mack, so while Gruden might still be able to coach, his decision-making on personnel is questionable. 

2) Can the Patriots get along? Answer: So far 

While Brady has snapped at the media multiple times for pressing the Alex Guererro issue, his relationship with Bill has seemed fine. It's possible Brady is feeling the crunch from his head coach to tamp down any discussion about the controversial trainer, and that's where the discomfort lies. Gronk seems happy. The Pats are once again the best team in a lousy division. Right now, it's same old, same old in Foxboro. But perhaps that changes as a long season takes its toll. 

1) Can Andrew Luck throw a football? Answer: Yes 

This was going to be the clearest response on the list. Either the Colts franchise has his arm back or his shoulder injuries derailed his once promising career. The preseason proved that Luck indeed has his game back, even if we only saw it in small doses this preseason. Who knows about over the duration of a full season, but for now Indy fans can rest easy knowing their franchise quarterback passed his first major test. 

 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 9:00AM-12:00PM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.