Producer of the Wes McElroy Show from 3pm - 6pm
Jesse has been with Clear Channel Media & Entertainment since 2010. He considers himself a Richmond transplant as he has lived in the River City for over 10 years now but grew up in the Western Maryland area. Deciding to attend VCU he studied Broadcast Journalism and English while spending time working at radio stations WVCW and WRIR. Jesse is currently the producer for the Wes McElroy Show as well as other shows for Sports Radio 910. Being from the Maryland area he is a diehard fan of the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Capitals. Besides his work at Sports Radio 910 he also writes a blog for VCU basketball’s radio website.
Football is back my friends. It’s time to put down the previews, stop predicting what’s going to happen, and sit back and watch the season unfold. I believe that we are in for one hell of season in the NFL. Dynamics are changing all over the league as the way the game is being played is changing. From week to week I will give you some things that I am watching out for and then when the week is over I will give you a few things that I caught onto. Now I know it’s only the beginning of the season and some of the things that I am looking out for take a course of a season to develop, but it’s always good to get the ball rolling. So with Week 1 kicking into full swing here are some storylines I feel worth watching. Also these are in no paticular order.
1. Exactly how healthy is Peyton Manning: In one of the biggest moves in NFL free agency history the Denver Broncos brought in the future hall of famer despite the 36 year old having a spinal fusion surgery. Of course all eyes will be on Manning but most people will be looking to see how he responds to that first big hit. Last year the Broncos were able to win a playoff game with a halfback as their quarterback last year. So with the Manning gamble and a defense that can certainly play at an elite level, this could be the year they go deeper into the playoffs. Peyton is a warrior but if for some reason his body just can’t handle it anymore it could be the beginning of the Brock Osweiler era. Also if you're the Broncos just keep Peyton away from the cheerleaders, you don't want him turning that neck too much.
2. Is the 2012 Quarterback class going to be like the Class of 1983 or like the Class of 1999: A record number of 5 rookie quarterbacks with start the NFL season, how many finish is another story. We could be witnessing the greatest QB class of all-time or be reminded of the one that included Tim Couch, Akili Smith, and Daunte Culpepper. These new guys could be the dynamic that completely reshapes the position or it could be something that gets too painful and awkward to watch (ex. Cade McNown). But either way these rooks are coming in confident and ready to give it a shot. Andrew Luck already looks like a third year quarterback, RG3 is an Olympic caliber athlete, and Russell Wilson outplayed a free agent vet that Seattle was banking on leading the team. A little uncertainty does surround the other 2 rookie starters. Though he looks poised and athletic the Dolphins may be rushing Ryan Tannehill who in my opinion was drafted too high, but I know the pickings are slim in Miami. The situation isn’t any better in Cleveland as they hope Brandon Weeden can finally end the quarterback infertility that has haunted the team for 2 decades now. The Browns just have to hope his age isn’t a factor and that they haven’t set themselves up with Chris Weinke junior.
3. Speaking of the rookies, about the second year guys: There has been a lot of talk about this year’s rookie quarterback class but let’s not forgot about their elders, by one year. Last year Cam Newton was a fantasy stud but that only equivalated to 6 wins, so is this the year he leads the Panthers to the playoffs or hit the sophomore slump? Speaking of sophomore slumps the Bengals are hoping that doesn't happen to the gem they found in the second round in Andy Dalton. "The Red Rifle" has a big time arm and A.J. Green as his top target, so the ceiling is definitely high. A high ceiling is what Minnesota and Jacksonville are hoping for in Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert respectively. Yes, they both play for horrible teams but it’s up to them to show they are worth the spots in the first round by making their teams better. The verdict is still out on Jake Locker in Tennessee. Last year during the times when Matt Hasselbeck went down Locker looked serviceable. This offseason he beat out the vet for the starting spot and this is a team that was close to the playoffs last season. Another quarterback who is getting his first full year as a starter is John Skelton, and yes I know he’s working on his third year in the league. Arizona may be another bad team but with a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald he could prove that the Cardinals made a 65 million dollar mistake with Kevin Kolb.
4. Is it now time for the Ravens offense to be the team’s calling card: Baltimore was a Lee Evan’s dropped pass and then a Billy Cundiff missed chip shot away from reaching the Super Bowl. In what was another banner year for the vaunted Ravens defense Terrell Suggs was named defensive player of the year. Well now they will have to make that an afterthought as Suggs went down in the offseason with an achilles injury and is looking to be out until at least November. At first the Ray Rice contract situation look messy but the Ravens were able to lock up the engine that runs their offense. With Joe Flacco entering his 5th year he is the only quarterback in the league who has been to 4 straight playoffs, do the math on that one! This season he will have weapons including an emerging Torrey Smith at wide receiver and tight ends that are hungry to prove themselves. With the defense getting older, don’t tell Ray Lewis that, and questions surrounding the pass rush this could be the year Baltimore is known for their offense instead of their defense.
5. Has the window shut for the Pittsburgh Steelers: Though they went 12-4 following a year they made a Super Bowl appearance, last season something just seemed off about the Steelers. First they opened up the season being flattened by Baltimore, who swept them for the year, then they finished the season being the team that Tim Tebow won a playoff game against. Questions surrounded this team’s offensive line last season and it does again this year, especially after covenanted first round pick David DeCastro went down for the season. Yes they were the number one defense in the league last year but no real improvements were made to a unit that has seemed to age a bit. Jerome Harrison will probably lose a step this season so they will look to see if it’s time for Lamar Woodley to lead the defense. Also many are wondering if this is the year that Ben Roethlisberger takes a step backwards because he’s not getting any younger either.