Where the hell did 2016 go? The NFL season is almost over, yet it seems like just yesterday Cam Newton was getting battered by the fierce Denver defense in week one. I’m already feeling like this about 2017.
Little did we know then that neither of the conference champs would even make it into the playoffs.
Denver’s defense laid out a blueprint on how to rattle Newton, and the rest of the League did just that. And the Carolina offense was never the same unit as in 2015.
As for the Broncos, they couldn’t overcome their quarterback situation. With Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset, they were left with young guys to take over. We could easily say that Brock Osweiler would have been no better than Trevor Siemian, judging how the free agent sucked it up in Houston.
But Osweiler was a decent starter in the system he already knew under Gary Kubiak, so that judgement is hard to make.
As big a story as both Super Bowl participants falling apart one year later was, the biggest takeaway for me in 2016 has been the concussion issues.
Head trauma concerns have forever changed the game of football.
And it blows my mind when commentators wonder why there were so many concussions in 2016 even with all the rule changes.
It should be obvious to anyone with eyes. The head injuries may look to be higher than in years past, but it’s simply the fact that they are actually being diagnosed now.
The League’s concussion protocol isn’t perfect by any stretch. We know this by the lack of flags Newton got in that opening game this year. Also by the so-called miscommunication that happened on the sideline, where the Carolina QB should have been evaluated sooner.
Even with the flawed system, more concussions are being handled. Now even teammates are calling attention to possible concussions when their guy is woozy.
Now the most competitive NFL athlete can’t ignore the possibility of long term damage to a guy they workout with and whose family they see at team Christmas functions.
Whether Greg Olsen would alert the ref about his quarterback being cross-eyed after a sack in a championship game on the final drive may be a different story. But at least the tide is turning as players see what’s at stake for their own health as well as the man next to them in the huddle.
How far do you think the NFL can keep dialing back the violence of the game before it becomes an entirely different sport? Not much further in my opinion.
So I look for a similar number of player games missed in 2017 due to concussions. The head injuries are gonna keep happening since collisions are a natural part of the game.
Instead of looking at it as a negative, the NFL should at least be happy that more players are sitting out instead of being subjected to more damage like in years’ past.
Now that we’re about to head into Super Bowl 51 with the New England Patriots ready to pound it out with the Atlanta Falcons, the NFL and most people will have already forgotten about the year of the concussion.