By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
There are 32 NFL franchises, and probably 32 questions we can ask about each of them.
Some are quite pertinent: Carson Wentz or Nick Foles behind center in Philadelphia? Will J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson return healthy to Houston and carry the Texans back to the AFC South lead? Will fans be screaming for their first-round rookie quarterback to get on the field, like, yesterday?
Good questions all.
But we’re concerned here with the irrelevant queries. Such as:
1-Can Tom Brady win at age 41?
Maybe you should ask this question when he is 51 — just kidding, Gisele.
At 40, Brady was as Tom Terrific as ever, even without his favorite receiver, Julian Edelman, for the entire season. To think he suddenly will go over the hill with the way he trains and his smarts and competitive fire is foolhardy.
“Obviously, I evaluate last season and things I can do better. I don’t think this offseason was any different for me,” he has said.
No, Brady won’t play forever; the Jets, Bills and Dolphins surely can’t wait until he disappears, not to mention the rest of the AFC. But wondering about Brady’s competence in 2018, when he just might win his fourth league MVP award, is an irrelevant task.
2-Will the Browns win a game?
Yes they will, maybe even in Week 1 at home against their archrivals, the Steelers, but more likely somewhere else in the first half of a schedule that isn’t exactly daunting.
We understand that every matchup for a club that is 1-31 under coach Hue Jackson is challenging. Still, the Browns added enough talent to win a handful of games or more — and that’s not even considering what top overall draft pick Baker Mayfield might provide at quarterback if he gets on the field.
3-Will Jimmy Garoppolo ever lose a game?
Yes, he will — plenty of them.
Sure, Jimmy G is 7-0 as a starter, including 5-0 when he took the reins in San Francisco last year. Look for that first loss to come early this season, perhaps in the opener at Minnesota, a major challenge for the rebuilding 49ers.
Visits to the Chiefs and Chargers also are on the September docket.
So thoughts of Garoppolo remaining unblemished are irrelevant.
That doesn’t mean he won’t improve; he might do so significantly.
“I don’t know how much of a jump you’re going to see,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “When you talk about expectations, I don’t know how you’re going to live up to that. He did very good last year. If we had 400 yards a game, does that mean we need to have 600 the first five games to improve? I don’t know what the numbers will be, but we will be a better offense.”
4-Will the NFL and players’ union find common ground on national anthem protocol. Or anything else?
Nope. Not even close.
The 10-year labor agreement expires after the 2020 season. The union has fought the league on virtually every topic in it and quite a few outside of it. The anthem policy unilaterally imposed by the league and teams is the latest sticking point.
Common ground between these sides? Irrelevant.
5-Is Jon Gruden headed back to the broadcast booth after this season?
It might be tempting for Gruden once he sees how much pro football locker rooms and player approaches have changed since he previously worked a sideline 10 years ago. Still, to suggest a guy with his enthusiasm, intelligence and creative streak is going to sour on coaching so soon is … irrelevant.
Gruden could be hard-pressed to win much this season with Oakland, but he’ll put his stamp on the Raiders, and they will be better for it down the line — when he’ll almost certainly be around.
6-In how many stadiums will Roger Goodell be booed this season?
Let’s see: There are 31 homes for the teams (the Jets and Giants share MetLife Stadium), plus Azteca in Mexico City, Wembley and the new Tottenham Stadium in London. So 34 works.
Thinking the commissioner won’t get booed in any of them? Irrelevant.
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