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Lost in the chatter over deflated balls and preseason injuries this year has been, I think, one of the most fascinating stories of the NFL offseason: The way the Toronto Blue Jays have quietly built a team destined to soar or spectacularly implode.
For all the talk about how Chip Kelly’s unorthodox offseason moves will reveal him this season as either a genius or a lunatic, Kelly’s Eagles pale in comparison to the Blue Jays when it comes to unusual roster construction. Head coach John Gibbons has eschewed conventional football wisdom on the importance of selecting a single starting quarterback, and has openly stated that he will have as many as many as five “starters” throwing the ball this season, with numerous backups also expected to see significant reps.
This quintet of starting passers will need to find at least one reliable receiving threat, but none has emerged in the preseason. The Blue Jays lack elite size on the outside, with 6-foot-tall wideouts Jose Bautista and Ben Revere, and 5-foot-9 slot receiver Kevin Pillar manning the slot. In the red zone, the Blue Jays will look to similarly undersized tight end Troy Tulowitzki to take pressure off their questionable short-yardage run game. But on longer fields, look out for electrifying running back Josh Donaldson, who tallied an incredible 37 runs of 120 yards or more last year.
Defensively, the Blue Jays love to hit hard and hit often, but last year were frequently caught with anywhere from nine players on the field to just one. They’ll have to cut down on these unforced mental mistakes to hang with the many big-play threats they’ll face in the NFC East. Weak side linebacker Edwin Encarnacion has made strides in camp, and the team hopes to see him finally add some bite to a pass rush that, last year, did not record a single quarterback sack.
The Blue Jays are difficult to project due to their unusual and untested style of play, but if everything comes together, they could challenge the Cowboys for the division title. At the very least, they should be a lot of fun to watch.
This post features original art by make it snow.