By Barry Wilner
AP Pro Football Writer
Peyton Manning is retired. Tom Coughlin is gone. Heck, the Rams no longer are in St. Louis.
Upheaval is the buzzword for the NFL as training camps open. At least until big-name players get big-time injuries, or major holdouts end, or tackling and blocking for real begin, the departures of a likely Hall of Fame player and coach will be front and center.
Not to mention the first shifting of an NFL franchise since the Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997.
Manning’s retirement doesn’t exactly leave a void at the top of the quarterback ranks with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and, oh yeah, Peyton’s little brother Eli still around. It does, however, create a huge chasm to fill in Denver.
With Von Miller’s messy contract situation settled — it got ugly at times — Denver still must deal with the defections of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan from the brilliant defense via free agency. So change hasn’t exactly been positive for the champion Broncos.
“Nothing’s smooth about what we do,” coach Gary Kubiak has said. “There’s always things happening. But the most important thing is what we do out there on that field and how we get ready to play.
“So, I think we’ve done a good job of sorting through distractions and various things that are going on with our football team and staying focused on football.”
The Giants have a new look on the sideline as the often red-faced Coughlin resigned (before he was forced out) after a dozen seasons. Whether his gesticulations or his coaching acumen will be most missed is anyone’s guess, but Ben McAdoo steps in for his first top job in the pros.
McAdoo’s first challenge is getting the team out of a four-year rut of not making the playoffs. General manager Jerry Reese and team owners spent big in free agency to provide McAdoo with the tools to turn around the Giants.
“We have talented players. It is just a matter of getting the most out of their ability, letting them make plays and letting everyone step up and do their job,” quarterback Eli Manning said.
“I think we made a big jump this offseason,” linebacker Devon Kennard adds. “It is a great group of guys that came in through the draft and free agency and jelling with the guys who have already been here.”
Other new head coaches are Adam Gase in Miami, Hue Jackson in Cleveland, Doug Pederson in Philadelphia, Dirk Koetter in Tampa, and Chip Kelly in San Francisco. Mike Mularkey has moved from interim to head coach in Tennessee.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, returns to the NFL roster at the expense of St. Louis, where the Rams previously resided for two decades. Things won’t look much different with the Rams, however — they left the LA area (Anaheim, actually) in 1995 — as they call the aging LA Coliseum home until their palace in nearby Inglewood is ready in 2019.
While NFL owners clearly were eager to get back to Hollywood, it remains questionable how enamored of the NFL fans in SoCal will be.
But Rams general manager Kevin Demoff doesn’t seem concerned.
“This has really been a labor of love over the past five months to get this team up and running in every facet,” Demoff told the Ventura County Star. “Our group has been working tirelessly. I must say, the warm reception we have received from everybody in this community has been unbelievable.”
Unbelievably, “Deflategate” actually is over. Tom Brady’s on-again, off-again suspension is on for the first four games of the regular season. That means Jimmy Garoppolo behind center; seeing anyone but No. 12 quarterbacking the Patriots might be the biggest upheaval of all.