By: Noah Gross
It’s that time of year again. Rosters are set, two-a-days are done and most importantly, games FINALLY matter. With every new year comes a new set of expectations. Who will dazzle us and who will dumbfound us? In this column, we will look at the five people, both players and coaches, who have the most to prove this year.
5. Gary Kubiack: Denver Broncos Head Coach
This name may come us a surprise to a lot of people. How can a coach in his first year with a team be under an obscene amount of pressure and have to prove himself? It isn’t so much that Kubiack has to prove himself as a coach. It’s that he is coming into a situation where there was already a great deal of success but he has to be better. Last year, the Golden State Warriors fired Mark Jackson, a relatively successful coach who had the support of his players. Steve Kurr, Jackson’s replacement, delivered a championship. It worked in Golden State. Let’s see if it works in Denver.
4. Sam Bradford: Philadelphia Eagles QB
The latest player at the center of mad scientist Chip Kelly’s plan, Bradford has a lot to prove both because of his injury history and what Philadelphia had to give up to get him. Whether Kelly actually wanted him or wanted to use him as a piece for Marcus Mariota, we may never know. But Bradford is now the starting quarterback of the franchise with arguably the toughest fans in all of sports. As a self-proclaimed die hard Eagles fan, there is a lot of buzz around Bradford. There is no doubt that when healthy, he has the potential to be one of the elite quarterbacks in this league. But both in college and in the pros, he has shown an inability to
stay on the field. Also, let us also not forget that the Eagles gave up a Pro Bowl quarterback in Nick Foles, a fourth round and a second round pick for him. Bradford certainly has a lot to prove to everyone.
3. Adrian Peterson: Minnesota Vikings RB
There is no doubt Peterson’s actions toward his son were reprehensible and cruel but for the sake of this article, lets stick to the football aspect. Before his ACL injury, there was little doubt he was the best running back in the NFL. When he came back from surgery, there was STILL little doubt he was the best back in the game. But sitting out a full year is clearly going to have an impact on him. The question is will a year of rest give his Hulkean body even more ability to be the best or will a year of rust cause him to fall back in the pack? The only way to find out is to lace up the cleats and go.
2. Drew Brees: New Orleans Saints QB
This is by far the most surprising name on the list. There is a general agreement that the Four Horsemen of the NFL are Brees, Brady, Manning, and Rodgers (we can put Luck on here when he has a ring). What makes these guys elite is that no matter what “weapons” you put around them every year, they deliver. Brees has had, in general, pretty much the same guys the past few seasons. Now, he said goodbye to the best tight end in football in Jimmy Graham and two of his favorite targets in Robert Meachem and Kenny Stills. Will he be able to deliver with his new weapons or will it be another long season for the Who Dat nation?
1. Chip Kelly: Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach
That’s right, a coach is number one on this list. Not just any coach, the coach who has the attitude of a lovechild between Greg Popovich and Bill Belicheck. Kelly came into the NFL after running his team at Oregon like a kid playing Xbox. He had his supporters and his doubters and he listened to both of them equally. That’s because he didn’t listen to anyone. He did what he thought was right and didn’t give it a second thought. 20-12 with a playoff birth is good enough in the eyes of most people. But Chip Kelly isn’t most people. Trent Cole, DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis, Todd Heremans, Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy. All players that were Pro Bowlers or legitimate NFL starters. Kelly scrapped all of that to build his perfect team in a way reminiscent of Victor Frankenstein. A cornerback from this team, a receiver from this draft, a guard from free agency. Kelly has created his monster. Now it’s time to see if it will have life.