NFL makes its long awaited return

By Frankie Rizzo, Sports Editor

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When the summer fades away every year, fall brings with it the return of America’s favorite sport: football. Whether it is college or the pro scene, eyes will be glued to the television eagerly anticipating the new year. Throughout the first couple of weeks there have been a number of interesting storylines that have captivated audiences.  From injuries to controversy, this season is shaping up to be one of the most action packed in years.

Every year, many teams shock the league, whether it be their surprising start or disappointing performances. This season has been no different, as teams like the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been key parts of NFL headlines due to all of the teams’ drastic ups and downs early in the season.

Chicago started off hot even before the season started. Right before the new year kicked off, the Bears traded for arguably the league’s top pass rusher in outside linebacker Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. The Bears received Mack and a 2020 second round pick in a deal where they sent over their next two first round picks, a third round pick in 2020 and a sixth round pick in 2019. So far, this trade has seemed to benefit Chicago, as they currently sit atop their division (NFC North) at 3-1, while also making Mack happy, receiving a six-year, $141 million extension.

The Eagles are the defending Super Bowl champs this year. With starting quarterback Carson Wentz still recovering from a torn ACL, the team needed to roll with backup QB Nick Foles, who performed fairly well for the team during last season’s playoff run. He may have won the Super Bowl MVP in last season’s big game, but he struggled to find that spark he had in the early weeks of the season. Since the Week 2 loss against Tampa Bay, Wentz has returned, hoping to find that edge he had during last year’s campaign. The Eagles currently sit at 2-2, 3rd place in the NFC East behind the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.

Down in Tampa, the Buccaneers have problems of their own. Going into the season, former No. 1 pick Jameis Winston was suspended the first three games after violating the league’s personal conduct policy. This led to the team rolling with career journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback through the first three weeks. Fitzpatrick played sensational, throwing for over 400 yards in each of the three games and scoring a total of 11 touchdowns, bringing the Bucs to a 2-1 record and Fitzpatrick being dubbed “Fitzmagic.” This created the question of who would start was Winston came back from suspension. Fitzpatrick got the start in Week 4 against the Bears over Winston, but this time, “Fitzmagic” did not come to show, falling behind by five touchdowns going into to halftime. This prompted the Bucs to put in Winston in relief in the third quarter. Many questions have surfaced over who would get the nod Week 5, as the Bucs remain 2-2 and third in the NFC South.

Rookie quarterbacks have caused shockwaves of their own early in the season. Last April there was a total of five quarterbacks taken in the first round, an unprecedented number in such a round. These quarterbacks include Josh Rosen (Cardinals), Josh Allen (Bills), Sam Darnold (Jets) and Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield (Browns) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens). These rookies have already been made starters  for their respective teams, as Mayfield, Darnold, Allen and Rosen are current starters and Lamar Jackson is used in special formations for the Ravens. Although their performance has not been stellar (combined record of 6-13-1), their teams will be looking for some type of spark at some point this season to show some hope in the near future.

We’re only four weeks into the year and storylines are flying around like crazy, but it wouldn’t be an NFL season without them. Throughout the next couple of weeks, the league will see who is for real this season, as teams start to jock into early playoff positioning.

Behind the Byline
Frankie Rizzo, Sports Editor

Frankie Rizzo is the Sports Editor of the Wessex Wire. Frank enjoys playing football, wrestling, playing Fortnite, and watching The Office.       ...

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