Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: A Scout Breaks Down All 32 Teams Entering Camp

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterAugust 1, 2018

Los Angeles Chargers' Joey Bosa takes off his helmet during NFL football practice, Sunday, July 29, 2018, in Costa Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Jets make the playoffs. Lamar Jackson takes over in Baltimore. Joey Bosa wins Defensive Player of the Year. All those predictions and so many more in this week's 10-Point Stance, in which we take a look at the upcoming 2018 NFL season from an insider's point of view.


1. Introducing a special edition of the 10-Pointer

Every so often, the 10-Point Stance connects with a trusted scout at the start of training camp for a look at every team from his point of view. The scout is knowledgeable, reliable and not prone to ridiculous takes. He dishes the dirt he's collected, and it's fun as hell. 

This week's edition of the column is (almost) entirely from his perspective. It's what he has heard or believes. It's not necessarily all fact, but this scout is solid and plugged in.

Some of his statements have been cleaned up for clarity or length. Otherwise, they are direct quotes.


2. But before we get to that...

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

I wanted to share this quote from Raiders superfan Ice Cube. We spoke last week about his league, the BIG3, and how it could teach the NFL a few things.

Cube is a longtime Raiders and NFL fan, and his words about the Raiders echo that of the scout's.

"One of the interesting things about the Raiders is watching how [new coach] Jon Gruden adapts to the modern player," Cube said. "The player today is different from when Gruden last coached. ...

"They could win seven games. They could win 11 or more. I just don't know. I do know I feel bad for Derek Carr. He hasn't had a lot of stability with a coaching staff. I'm eager to see how he does."

Cube isn't the only one.

On to the scout.


3. Scout's take on the AFC West

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

On the Broncos: "The quarterback situation there is a mess. None of those guys are starters."

On the Chargers: "Unless he gets hurt, Joey Bosa will be Defensive Player of the Year."

On the Chiefs: "If there's one coach who can truly get Patrick Mahomes ready to play, it's Andy Reid. He's a master at working an offense around a player and getting that player to be great. Just don't ask him to manage a play clock."

On the Raiders (upon being informed of Ice Cube's take): "He's right. It's different dealing with players on a TV show [Monday Night Football and Gruden's film-room discussions] than it is in reality. The only coach today who can truly get away with being a hard ass is Belichick. Gruden has to be careful players don't immediately tune him out."


4. Scout's take on the AFC North

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

On the Bengals: "One of the more perplexing teams in the league. One week, they look like horses--t. The next, they could beat anyone in the league. The guy to watch is Joe Mixon. I wouldn't be shocked if he ended up in contention for Offensive Player of the Year."

On the Browns: "Hue Jackson is gone after this season."

On the Ravens: "I think Joe Flacco gets benched by midseason. Lamar Jackson is a future star in this league."

On the Steelers: "The only team in the conference capable of beating the Patriots in the AFC title game. They just have to learn to get out of their own way. They still make too many mistakes and sometimes show an embarrassing lack of sound fundamentals."


5. Scout's take on the AFC East

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

On the Bills: "The players are rallying around Shady [LeSean McCoy]. There won't be any issues in that locker room. The question remains: Will he get suspended or pulled while the league investigates his situation? (Police are investigating a reported home invasion in which McCoy's ex-girlfriend, Delicia Cordon, was attacked and injured. McCoy has been accused of orchestrating the attack.) No one has a clue what the league will do. Not even the Bills."

On the Dolphins: "I'd say 80 or 90 percent of the league thinks Ryan Tannehill is a bust. He's not accurate enough, and I don't think he ever will be."

On the Jets: "They have more talent than most people understand. I actually think this is a playoff team."

On the Patriots: "It doesn't matter if the coaches and some players love each other or hate each other. This is a 12-win team, and they won't lose a division game."


6. Scout's take on the AFC South

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

On the Colts: "I'm still not convinced Andrew Luck will play a game this year."

On the Jaguars: "I think the play of Blake Bortles is going to surprise people. From people I've spoken to in that organization, they genuinely believe he's drastically improved. That defense is also the best in football."

On the Texans: "Second-best defense in football. Deshaun Watson will be in the running for league MVP. I'm a little worried about J.J. Watt. That injury [groin surgery] is no joke. It might take a season for him to get fully back."

On the Titans: "Marcus Mariota took a step back last year. He takes 10 steps forward this year."


7. Scout's take on the NFC West

D. ROSS CAMERON/Associated Press

On the 49ers: "A lot of pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo. What we don't know about him yet is if he has the mental makeup to handle it. Will he handle it, or will he crumble?"

On the Cardinals: "Sam Bradford will play well [and] then get hurt in Week 4. Maybe Week 3."

On the Rams: "It normally backfires when you add a bunch of Pro Bowl veterans to a roster. This team can make it work, though. That's truly a great coaching staff."

On the Seahawks: "What people don't understand is despite losing a lot of veterans, that team is still incredibly talented. I know also from speaking to people there that they feel getting rid of guys like Richard Sherman is addition by subtraction."


8. Scout's take on the NFC North

Nam Huh/Associated Press

On the Bears: "I'm not on the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon. We're a few years away from knowing if he's any good."

On the Lions: "What's holding them back is average quarterback play. Matthew Stafford needs to really up his game if they're going to win."

On the Packers: "That Aaron Rodgers-Jimmy Graham pairing could be historic."

On the Vikings: "They scare me. One of the most physical and nastiest teams in football."


9. Scout's take on the NFC East

Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

On the Cowboys: "I think Ezekiel Elliott could push 1,800 yards rushing."

On the Eagles: "First time in a long time I've believed a team other than the Patriots could repeat."

On the Giants: "They'll be better than people think, and not solely because of the offense. I think that defense will be solid."

On Washington: "Alex Smith turns them into at least a 10-win team."


10. Scout's take on the NFC South 

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

On the Buccaneers: "This team is a disaster at quarterback. I'd be stunned if Jameis Winston is still the quarterback there next year."

On the Falcons: "They still haven't recovered from that Super Bowl loss two years ago."

On the Panthers: "This is Cam Newton's year. If he stays healthy, he's the upset pick for league MVP. One thing to look for with him: vastly improved throwing accuracy. I think we'll see him sit tight in the pocket more than he ever has."

On the Saints: "The best coach in football is Belichick. The second-best might be Sean Payton. Few coaches I've seen in history are better at getting the most out of offensive personnel."


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.


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