All is quiet in the NFL world as July starts. It’s anything but quiet as the month ends.
By the end of July, each team will have started its training camp. Some teams stay at their facility for practices, others like the Dallas Cowboys travel out of state to concentrate on football and little else for a few weeks. But they all hit the practice fields anxious to answer some lingering questions from the offseason.
Through this month we’ll examine all 32 teams, and look at three significant questions each team will face in training camp. We’ll post two team training camp previews most days from here to the end of the month as we get excited for the return of football (check out our first installment on the Dallas Cowboys here … and we’ll be linking to each team’s three questions at the bottom of this page as they’re posted). While each team has its specific questions to answer, here are the three biggest questions around the league as camps start:
Will the Atlanta Falcons get over Super Bowl LI?
After a normal Super Bowl loss, teams have trouble bouncing back. The last team to make a Super Bowl after losing in the Super Bowl the previous season was the 1993 Buffalo Bills. The last team to win it all one year after losing a Super Bowl was the 1972 Miami Dolphins. And that’s for normal Super Bowl losses. What happened to the Falcons was not normal. Atlanta blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots probably goes down as the most devastating single-game collapse in American sports history. It’s absolutely impossible to tell how the Falcons will bounce back. If you want to be eternally optimistic, that will be the motivation to make it back and finish the job. But battling this Super Bowl hangover will be a real challenge for the Falcons, starting with a million questions about it during training camp.
Which teams will have a starting quarterback battle during camp?
Realistically, six teams will be waging a quarterback battle in late July and August: New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. The most exciting of those battles are probably the Texans and Bears, because they include first-round picks. The Bears shocked everyone by giving free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon a $45 million deal, then really shocked everyone by trading up to draft Mitch Trubisky second overall. Glennon has the inside track for now but the Bears obviously are excited about Trubisky too. The Texans have been saying they want Tom Savage to start this season, but that will be tough with first-round pick Deshaun Watson vying for the job. Watson was a college star at Clemson and he’ll be a big name to watch during training camp.
Can anyone beat the Patriots?
Wait, you want more than that? If you’re not a Patriots fan and you want any hope this season, it’s that anything can happen in a one-game situation. Look at the Giants’ upset of the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII as an example. But no team is close to the Patriots right now. New England went 14-2 in the regular season, won a Super Bowl and spent the offseason getting much better. While every team starts training camp with some level of optimism, it’s clear that all of the other 31 teams are chasing one.
TRAINING CAMP SITES AND DATES (CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO READ THREE CAMP QUESTIONS FOR EACH TEAM)
New England Patriots: at Foxboro, Mass. Rookies report July 24; veterans July 26.
Kansas City Chiefs: at St. Joseph, Mo. Rookies report July 24; veterans July 27.
Los Angeles Chargers: at Costa Mesa, Calif. Rookies and veterans report July 29.
Cincinnati Bengals: at Cincinnati, Ohio. Rookies report July 25; veterans July 27.
Cleveland Browns: at Berea, Ohio. Rookies report July 23; veterans July 26.
Indianapolis Colts: at Indianapolis. Rookies report July 24; veterans July 29.
Jacksonville Jaguars: at Jacksonville, Fla. Rookies report July 19; veterans July 26.
Washington Redskins: at Richmond, Va. Rookies and veterans report July 26.
Los Angeles Rams: at Irvine, Calif. Rookies report July 26; veterans July 28.
San Francisco: at Santa Clara, Calif. Rookies and veterans report July 27.
Seattle Seahawks: at Renton, Wash. Rookies and veterans report July 29.
Detroit Lions: at Allen Park, Mich. Rookies report July 24; veterans July 29.
Minnesota Vikings: at Mankato, Minn. Rookies report July 23; veterans July 26.
Atlanta Falcons: at Flowery Branch, Ga. Rookies and veterans report July 26.
Carolina Panthers: at Spartanburg, S.C. Rookies and veterans report July 25.
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