Will Chip Kelly work out in the NFL?
The last head coach to have no experience as an NFL player or assistant coach was Mike Riley of the Chargers. Didn't work out too well, as the former Oregon State coach went 14-34 from 1999-2001 before getting the gate. Kelly, the former Oregon star coach whose up-tempo offenses are now all the rage in the NFL, gets his shot with Philadelphia, maybe the toughest town in the league for a head coach. We're skeptical. Sort of reminds you of Steve Spurrier when he came to the Redskins in 2002. Was a genius in college, but didn't translate in the pros. Gone within two years.
Is Robert Griffin III ready to play?
Looks like the Redskins' second-year star quarterback will get the green light to start the season, which is great news considering how bad his injury looked in the playoff loss to the Seahawks. Coach Mike Shanahan would be wise to take it verrry slowly with Griffin, though. Waaay too much at stake to rush the rehab.
Is Darrelle Revis healthy?
The Bucs are optimistic he'll be ready for the opener against the Jets, but Revis might be brought along slowly in camp as he rehabs back from a knee injury. Can't imagine him missing a shot at his old team.
Can the Giants rush the passer without JPP?
They hope they don't have to answer that question directly, which would mean Jason Pierre-Paul is back for the opener after recovering from back surgery. But he's unlikely to participate in most, if not all, of training camp, so the Giants will have to manufacture a pass rush in his absence. Mathias Kiwanuka gets a shot to put his hand in the dirt and go after the quarterback, and Justin Tuck needs to re-establish himself as a pass rusher after two straight down seasons. Maybe Adewale Ojomo, who showed some flashes in camp last year, gets a chance. They'll also look at third-round rookie defensive end Damontre Moore.
Did the Ravens lose too much in free agency/retirement?
No more Ray Lewis. No Ed Reed, either. Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe gone, too. The Ravens couldn't keep everyone after signing Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco to a monster contract. but if there's one thing we've learned in watching the Ravens over the years, never underestimate the roster-building genius of general manager Ozzie Newsome, who managed to plug most of the holes through free agency and the draft. He swiped Elvis Dumervil away from the Broncos after a contract snafu, drafted first-round safety Matt Elam to replace Reed and selected second-round linebacker Arthur Brown as Lewis' successor. And he kept the most important player of all by re-signing Flacco, even though it took more than $100 million to do it.
Can the Dolphins buy their way to the playoffs?
Team owner Stephen Ross was a big spender in free agency, doling out millions for Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, Ellerbe, Jets tight end Dustin Keller and Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes. Whether it translates to a playoff berth remains to be seen, but if second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill makes good progress, we see the Dolphins playing into January.
Absolutely love the rivalry between the 49ers and Seahawks. Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll loathe one another, and with both teams looking like Super Bowl material, this might be the best two-game series -- three if they meet in the playoffs -- of the year . . . The Saints are poised for a rebound season with Sean Payton back on the sideline, but those problems on defense won't go away any time soon, even with Rob Ryan calling the shots . . . Last time I felt this good about the Bengals heading into the season? When Norman Julius Esiason Jr. was the quarterback . . . Liking the long-term future of Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. Still think the Bills are two years away from doing anything . . . Haven't said this about the Steelers very much over the years, but this team looks old and slow, especially on defense . . . Really like what the Chiefs did with their offseason makeover. Think they'll contend in the AFC West right away . . . Texans quarterback Matt Schaub faces a critical early-season stretch in Weeks 3-5, facing Baltimore, Seattle and San Francisco. Schaub needs to prove he can win against elite teams.