Who will be the defining figures of the 2015? That’s the question we attempt to answer in the Gridiron Bumper Season Preview. Our panel of experts – including the Sky Sports’ delightful duo of Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold – have chosen their figures of fascination, and they’ve been put together over 31 stunningly-designed pages.
Our list, though, is one with a difference as, within the 20, we bring you some fascinating long-form features. Neil headed to California to chat to embattled San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula, Liam Blackburn checked in with Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and Peter Carline spoke to emerging Minnesota Vikings defensive end Anthony Barr. There’s also an eight-page feature on the man who tops our pile, a unanimous selection, but we’re not giving anything else away!
We, of course, cover a host of other bits and bobs across our pages. Jeff is back on the chalkboard taking you through X’s & O’s, while Iron Mike has provided his insight on the Niner Nation Nightmare. Finally, we’ve got you college nuts covered with a lovely feature on returning Michigan hero Jim Harbaugh in our revamped College Campus section, which is now brought to your by the fine folks over at ESPN Player.
To make sure you don’t miss a single snap, order your Gridiron Subscription here today – and you could with a trip to either the AFC or NFC Championship Game with Sports Travel Tours.
For now, here are some goodies to keep you going:
“In a league where the average career is just under four campaigns, it may be surprising to see players leaving before their time is up, but meeting the commitment is always hard and it’s actually surprising more players don’t quit before they regret it.” – Iron Mike understands Chris Borland’s retirement decision.
“While Brady and his legal team have been arguing over technicalities and adopting a defence strategy that focuses on ripping the Wells Report apart, the four-time Super Bowl champion may already have been tried and convicted in the Court of Public Opinion.” – Neil believes most have made their minds up on Deflategate.
“If Christmas t’is the season to be jolly, then right now t’is the off-season to put on your rose-tinted glasses, ignore realities and dream of winning the big game.” – Our Couch Potato is as optimistic as ever despite an off-season to forget for his Niners.
“Jimmy Graham is one of the biggest mismatches in the NFL, and one of the toughest players to cover.” – PFF’s Sam Monson believes the Seahawks’ new tight end will be a game-changer for Russell Wilson.
“If anything sums up how you cannot overlook special teams it was last season’s Green Bay Packers. Shoddy play in that area might have cost them a Lombardi Trophy.” – Hamilton Tiger-Cats special-teams coordinator Jeff knows all about the importance of the oft-forgotten phase.
“He’s usually Real Madrid, just because they’re the best team. He always tries to beat me. I play with everybody: PSG, Dortmund, Bayern, Barcelona, Juventus. You name it, I’ll play with it!” – Barr is ready to dominate on the field having spent much of the winter dishing out beatings to teammate Eric Kendricks on FIFA!
“It’s so difficult to replace a living legend. Dick LeBeau was a Hall of Famer as a player and as a coach.” – Jeff thinks new Steelers DC Keith Butler has a tough job on his hands.
“The Bears signal-caller is back. In part because Brandon Marshall isn’t and in part because he’s revitalised by the new coaching staff.” – Simon Clancy believes in Jay Cutler. Do you?
“If you’re going to take a gamble, take one on a quarterback that has a rare winning-percentage record in college, that’s an unbelievable leader, that’s got off-the-charts intelligence and work ethic. Those are the things that make or break a quarterback.” – Tampa GM Licht is bullish over his new quarterback.
“Anybody who knows me knows that’s not me.” – Tomsula scoffs at the idea he undermined former San Fran head coach Harbaugh.
“Every time I’m talking to him I stand there wondering what the hell he’s thinking.” – An unnamed player discusses his head coach, who happens to Gridiron’s defining figure of 2015!
“Harbaugh has taken on an almighty challenge as he must first overcome Ohio State and Michigan State before taking aim at the rest of the nation’s superpowers.” – College guru Ian Parker outlines the task facing Harbaugh in his new job.