While there is most certainly a litany of story-lines throughout the NFL heading into Week 1, including the return of the Saints players that were suspended, such as Will Smith, the revolving door at QB for the Cardinals (Skelton will start this week), and the announcement that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger would choose to see his first child's birth over playing in a game (what a heathen!) as well as many other things, the story-line that this homer-writer most prefers simply exists as an identity issue. I want to watch the identity of the Mularkey-Era form.
How does the team hold up under pressure? Does he pull a 'Gambling Jack' at any point? How conservative is he? Whats the run/pass ratio? Does he game-plan well? Does he inspire? I know it's the big leagues but I always enjoyed a good inspiration.
Certainly all these questions can't be answered, but I'll state what I see as plausible beginnings to these answers. I mean, we should learn some things, right?
Unfortunately for this article, I don't have any particular memory of Mike Mularkey's time in Buffalo. I'm genuinely curious as to how he handled things. Certain issues have been compared already as he's stated multiple times that he's learned to deal with what he can affect. He couldn't affect Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout. So, what did he do? He worried about the men in the locker room collectively putting their hearts into the team. Wise move, sir.
I want to get a glimpse of this team throughout an entire game. Regardless of how many quarters the first-stringers and influential rotational guys played in the pre-season, we really don't know this team. It's exciting isn't it? It's all new. For the first time in years, one can approach the Jags and not comfortably assume anything. Sure, it would be easy to say that the Jags will lean on their strengths, but what are those?
Maurice Jones-Drew will play 3rd downs, which limits a would-be strength. Rashad Jennings will more than likely be better than he ever has in the regular season, but will the shuffle along the line it can't be said for sure that the running game will be a strength. Rookie Justin Blackmon will most likely play as a main character in the story on Sunday, but how good will he be? What does the team do if they don't look good at first, do they crumble? How does the sideline demeanor appear throughout the game? How will Mularkey interact with the other coaches? Is he a yeller? I don't see him reminding anyone of Mike Singletary but the man's career is on the line with this stint....let's hope its not just a stint.
My favorite part of learning new teams consistently ends up being predictablity. As any fan can say: We run, we run some more and then we, on average, disappoint ourselves in the passing game. It's no slight, its fact. Now, I enjoy the running game much more than I should, considering 'modern day football' and all, but I'm curious if it becomes predictable. Do we see a balanced team on Sunday? I have no idea, and for that reason I'm as excited as ever. Not even losing could damper my excitement. This isn't about winning, it's about watching something form. Then again, maybe Mularkey gets canned in two years along with Gene Smith and Blaine Gabbert and we watch the fan base get divided upon which retired coach will un-retire, but let's cross that bridge when we get there. For now, how about we all just sit back and enjoy getting to know our new team?
So, what are you guys searching for in this new team?