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Schultz: Would the NFL in Toronto be a long-term success?

Chris Schultz
12/3/2013 12:31:35 PM
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So the Buffalo Bills lost to the Atlanta Falcons by three in the Rogers Centre and the talk continues about the NFL coming to Canada, specifically Toronto.

I can see both sides of optimism and possibility as well as pessimism and an unknown. There is no doubt that as a city and country, Toronto and Canada have a superiority by comparison to many American NFL cities in terms of population and marketing business opportunities. By comparison, Green Bay, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Jacksonville are small cities and the truth is, if the NFL can make it in those markets, they can make it happen in Toronto.

Because it is high profile and new, the ability to sell out the stadium in the first few years would not be a problem. I'm sure many that know little about football would purchase tickets just to be there. It really would be something and the revenue generated for eight home games would be significant and competitive to many established NFL teams.

But will it be a success that lasts for years and decades? The presentation of football has changed dramatically over the years because of TV, points spreads, fantasy, red zone channel, pre-game shows and on and on and on. In many of the games, the stands are far from sold out. Even the Monday night game between the Giants and Redskins had many prime seats available.

The Rogers Centre holds about 54,000 for football so it would be the smallest stadium in the NFL. A new stadium would cost billions to be competitive with other physical structures. But I do think it is going to happen. First would be London , second would be Los Angeles and third would be Toronto. I can only guess at a timeframe as it would take an identifiable owner of aggressive attitude to push it through.

I do hope if and when it happens that the league relocates as opposed to expands. 32 teams is enough.

Playoff Watch

The NFC East is down to Dallas and Philadelphia. The Cowboys are 4-0 in the division and now have 11 days between games with the next one in Chicago on Monday night. With the Eagles, you can't express enough praise toward Nick Foles and his ability as a quarterback. He has 19 touchdowns and no interceptions this season, one away from equaling Peyton Manning last year (20-0). He is willing to take sacks and not take risks at just the right moment and has an understanding of all aspects of football that now puts him in the conversation with all the young quarterbacks with bright futures. But he has only started six games this year. As always with the NFC East, the teams you play and how they are playing is critical. The Cowboys' remaining schedule includes road games at Chicago and Washington as well as home games against Green Bay and Philadelphia. The key game outside of the last one is the Packers if Aaron Rodgers is playing and Green Bay still has playoff hopes. If both answers are yes, that changes everything in that game. The Eagles have homes games against Detroit and Chicago along with road games at Minnesota and Dallas. Both schedules are about the same in evaluation of competitive reality so I would not be surprised if everything comes down to December 29 in Dallas.

Pivotal Question

I was asked the question the other day if the Jets should draft a quarterback with their first pick, which could be a good player. In the upcoming draft there may be as many as five quarterbacks that could be quick, efficient starters. Geno Smith has had a tough year. Mark Sanchez has had a tough year for different reasons. For Geno it is an inability to protect the ball consistently and for Sanchez, it is an a heath issue. I am not sure which one is going to rise to the starters position next year but if you already have two quarterbacks, do you really want a third? I do think with Smith, it is burn-out. When you think about it, it has been a year and a half since he has received a break from football. From the end of his collage season to the All-Star bowl games to the combine to the individual work-outs to the draft to the organized team activities to mini-camp to training camp and now Week 14, you can understand why he has regressed. It does not effect some players like Russell Wilson and some it does. I think Smith needs to take a vacation in February and come back in March and start all over again. So to answer the question, don't draft a quarterback, draft the best receiver you can when you time comes.

Winning Ways

The New England Pariots have now had 13 winning seasons in a row, which is pretty impressive, not only this year but overtime. Building a football team is one skill, building a good winning football program is a different skill. A team is that year and no other. Every team is different than the last one and a team has a one-year lifespan. A program is a set of circumstances over extended time. No doubt the biggest mistake in the Patriot "program" was the evaluation of Hernandez and its repercussions but the Patriots have recovered and now that block of time is a memory more than a point of adversity. But 13 winning seasons can't be rationalized, the best football "program " is just outside of Boston with the Patriots.

Time To Sit

In Washington, is there anyone out there who wants to see Kirk Cousins start a game or two instead of RG3? Robert Griffin is coming of his best game of the season but still takes too many shots. He has two knee injuries to the same knee and a third would be pretty much career-ending. I doubt it will happen but I would sit Robert Griffin and play Kirk Cousins for the last three games. It would make for extreme competition at quarterback in 2014 and give Griffin a true block of time to heal and take the knee brace off come summer football. It's a tough decision but sometimes the most logical ones are.

Best of the Best

And finally, the Seattle Seahawks play in San Francisco this week and I would not be surprised if the 49ers won. But, I was unable to evaluate that 34-7 win in one way. Seattle is very athletic up front across the offensive line. Having Russell 0kung and Max Unger and Breno Giacomini back at left tackle, centre and right tackle respectively was a difference-making trio of success. Their remaining schedule includes road games at San Francisco and the Giants as well as home games against Arizona and St. Louis and hopefully an NFC Championship. At 15-1, it would be well-earned.

In the AFC, I look at the way Denver and New England responded and I say Denver is a better team. Both teams were coming off a very tough game against each other and both had to travel the next week (New England to Houston - Denver to Kansas City). The Patriots struggled to beat Houston and the Broncos looked good beating the Chiefs. Finally, football is a complex game and sometimes complicated while other times, it's very easy. When we were watching Peyton Manning, it was easy to see his line of scrimmage read. There is Eric Decker out to his right lined up against a rookie cornerback. Just throw the ball to Decker. Sometimes football is complicated, sometimes it's simple.

Chris Schultz

Chris Schultz

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