NFL 2010 Preview : 32 Thoughts
Fresh off a recent NFL Season Preview episode of The Gunaxin Show, it only seems right for me to give you a bit of a written version of the journey. Here’s 32 thoughts on 32 teams, giving you the 4-1-1 on each of the sets bendin’ corners in the National Football League in one sentence.
Like the season, some will be longer than others.
The Redskins’ offense resembles an outstanding roster built by sugar-addicted, bong-smoking teenager constructing his own dorm-room Pro Bowl team with Madden 2006, if that kid created his own list of receivers no one had ever heard of with a defense boasting a ton of name-brand apparel completely void of proven chemistry or performance, resulting in a squad that could be the perfect avatar for their coach: expensive, overrated, and long-since removed from greatness.
New York Giants
The Giants peaked three years ago as a defense once associated with overwhelming dominance is now associated with disappointment and frustration, an offense once thriving with options is now a squad with one definitive answer for a myriad of questions, and a coach once known as a tough-nosed motivator is now becoming a man whose time and voice has died.
You won’t find many names typically associated with Andy Reid on this reconstructed offense but there is an explosion-in-wait hidden in shadow of youth, a squad dripping with potential that could overcome an offensive line on the mend and a defense void of identity and low on proven, top-tier leadership.
On paper it certainly seems like this crew should dominate the division but the offensive line is a study in contradiction (guys getting too old or guys without any proven experience at all), the coach is a complete and total moron (this team went 11-5 last season despite Wade Phillips, not because of him), and an injury to either Tony Romo or Terence Newman could ruin it all.
There may have been a time in your life when you walked into an anonymous restaurant in the middle of the day hoping to discover a hidden gem in culinary satisfaction only to find the restaurant is a front for a meth lab, inhabited by deviant scumbags profiting off the ignorance and failures of others and all but void of any substantial, positive benefit to society while masking their identity as a reputable business of the community, and this moment would be akin to the emotion 13 different NFL teams will experience in facing the Buffalo Bills this season.
Miami is one of the more enigmatic football teams in the land, constructed by a man closely associated with greatness, coached by another short on experience but tall in respect, and led by a roster overflowing with potential and starving for the opportunity to prove they can compete in what will be one of the best divisions in the game, leaving fans wondering if the next Tony Sparano-led step forward will be humble crawl or a magnificent leap.
New England Patriots
While the once-proud kings of the AFC East have been dethroned and challenged for reign of the land, the faithful supporters of the grey-hooded mastermind remain strong in their convictions this team will rise again despite growing age, questionable value of those coming in support of proven leaders, and an overall effort that may be way too reliant on a disgruntled and aging arm.
New York Jets
Many will suggest this bodacious collection of Hard Knock egos have invited the collective hatred of the National Football League to their front doorstep in 2010 but the target was placed firmly on their backs by one of the most assertive defensive forces in the land, and while the offense may be in the midst of evolution that some might define as regression (listing questionable contributors at left guard, running back, and quarterback), there is no doubt this D is capable of putting the opposition, no matter who that may be, to rest.
The Seahawks welcome rebirth under the guidance of a coach seeking the same, labeled a failure at the professional level after building a resume of humble NFL beginnings only to retreat to the collegiate ranks where a reputation as a leader of men and an innovative offensive mind has given him a second shot at the professional level, and as that man and his supporters will learn, rebirth doesn’t happen in an instant.
St. Louis Rams
The devastating fall of a team once respected as an offensive historical precedent has been as traumatic as this league has seen in recent years, but the Gateway City has commenced with healing via the guidance of Steve Spagnuolo, and while he has been quick to install changes long overdue – new quarterback, new offensive line, new receivers, new linebackers, new defensive line – the prosperity those changes intend to influence are not likely to show in 2010.
There have been noteworthy evolutions in the desert where paper bags were once regular fashion attire at games, but the 2010 season may be three steps back after taking two steps forward last season as the retirement of a prolific field general and the complete implosion of the kid tabbed as his successor has overshadowed any and all progress made since coach Ken Whisenhunt arrived, leaving us to wonder if the only undeniable failure of this Arizona offseason will turn into a death sentence.
San Francisco 49ers
If you are searching for sources of hope from the NFL landscape you may find your answers on the left coast where the former Monster of the Midway is working hard to build a team in his own image, stout on defensive prowess, inventively built around the gifts of a talented rusher on offense, led by a quarterback with hopes of surpassing expectation, all supported by the rehabilitated foundation of a young and highly-touted offensive line hoping to make the best of a bad division.
The Raiders are capable of destruction from the defensive side of the roster where you’ll find more than a fair share of horses in stable, but the offense has been so inept for so long that the addition of a few minor changes won’t be nearly enough to reverse the misfortunes of recent campaigns, even if one of those changes removes the most pathetic excuse of a professional football player in exchange for a capable, game-managing passer who could and should produce substantial upgrades in the effort to move the move the football.
Denver enters the second year of the Josh McDaniels reclamation project and locals may be wondering if the future is getting too much of the focus while the Broncos of today suffer, left to praise the league’s 14th-best quarterback (in most fantasy leagues, he’s not getting the start) as the clear and present danger of an offense that may be void of a clear and present danger, boasting a desire to run hampered by a lack of durability, a desire to defend hampered by the loss of Elvis Dumervil, and a desire to excel with a roster that may lack the weapons needed to do so… at least for today.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers left last season as the undeniable powers of the AFC West with plans of further domination in 2010, but an offseason of strife has transformed a thorough offensive roster into one of the least experienced offenses in the NFL, working without the benefits of their Pro Bowl left tackle and the most feared deep threat left in the division, pushing all eyes to the rookie working out of the backfield, one of the best young passers in the game, and a D that has suffered just as many losses as the O.
Kansas City Chiefs
Held as the potential surprise of the short-bus division of the NFL, the Chiefs are hoping their known commodities on both sides of the roster are strong enough, durable enough, and competitive enough to trump the long list of questions brought by every other squad in the AFC West, boasting a somewhat reliable and somewhat proven passer, several talented offensive targets for that passer to utilize, and a defense with names that suggest potential to perform is not too far out of reach, leaving the coach and fate as the most likely obstructions on the road to success.
If you gather the teams that appear to be taking a definitive turn for the worse, the majority of football fans might consider the Chicago Bears to be the leaders in the clubhouse, putting two former head coaches directly behind the hottest seat in the league as they construct their audition squads in full view of lame-duck Lovie, and at this point we wonder if all three of those so-called leaders aren’t destined for failure.
The tide may be turning as Detroit appears to have finally hired a head coach capable of not only evaluating talent but also managing and mentoring it towards what could be a season of progress, led by the powerfully potent talents of the Mattew Stafford-to-Calvin-Johnson connection and laced with a stable of rushers tailored to suit any need, leaving only the defense as the lingering source of instability.
Green Bay Packers
Some was nice enough to take Aaron Rodgers to pick up his talent from layaway last season, finally looking every bit the part of a man capable of replacing Brett Favre and leading the Packers back towards a successful record with thoughts of hope reaching into the playoffs, assuming the defense can keep the opposition in check and the man known as Ryan Grant can stay healthy, wealthy and wise (‘cause they don’t have anything behind him).
We understand the selection as one of the favorites to win the NFC Norse is resting on the arthritic and durability-challenged ankle of a man who was driving a tractor less than one month ago, but as every NFL fan has learned it does not matter when Brett Favre is that man as his charisma, his arm, and his ability to find an open man down the field are as influential as any weapon you and put on the field… and even if it wasn’t, the Vikes tout the defense to put the teams listed above in pain.
So long as the name Eric Mangini is attached to the Cleveland Browns, or as the name Jake Delhomme is working as the starting quarterback and being deemed as the leader of a supposed “new day” in the Pound, or as names like Jerome Harrison, Montario Hardesty, and Mohamed Massaquoi are counted as the foundation of the offense, or as long as the defensive linebackers continue as IDP candidates only because they spend so much time on the field… so long as that is happening in Cleveland, there is no reason to believe they will compete.
The Steelers have the defense to compete with any squad in the land but there are undeniably obvious consequences to the suspension that will be served by Ben Roethlisberger, and his toilet-stall escapades could be the different between a season of reward and a season of horror for a team seeking playoff aspirations in what looks like the most difficult division in the game.
There are more than a few reasons to believe the Cincinnati Bengals could fall right back to the not-so-charmed life that was the norm not so long ago, but there are just as many reasons to believe this offense, a list that includes one of the most talented arms with a stable of horses for targets, a rusher coming off a surprisingly-successful campaign, and a defense boasting more than a few names capable of keeping points low and tackles high.
Many organizations submit early picks for the Super Bowl and, in this particular season, many of those predictions float all over the league, but not matter which way you go you will find Baltimore is in the mix, and it is easy to understand why when you understand the power in every facet of their roster and the upside all of those contributors have to work as elite players at their respective positions, making the Ravens one of the most potent offensive, defensive, and special-teams squads you’ll find on the planet in 2010.
Tampa Bay Bucs
When the stories of the off-season revolve around the potential of a rookie wideout, the hope for potential out of a rookie running back, and the affects those players might have on this roster, you know the situation is bad… and in Tampa, “bad” might as well be translated as “hopeless”.
The Panthers are packing a ton of hope into unknown commodities at quarterback with a 31-year-old Steve Smith serving as their only viable target for those unfamiliar arms, but the defense (or lack thereof) may be the ultimate downfall for a crew putting too much emphasis on the run in a division that will not allow a second-tier effort to compete.
The Dirty Birds have flashed a boatload of potential since Mike Smith took the reins and started to build it from the quarterback up, but questions continue to linger about the potency of a defense that served as the inspiration for off-season spending with hopes this crew can formulate the power needed to topple the defending champs, and while they appear ready for the battle on paper, putting on the field against a crew as strong a ‘Nawlins is a tall order.
New Orleans Saints
When you consider the defending Super Bowl champs return with off-season bullet points focused on improved depth in the defensive backfield as well as enhanced options along the offensive line (an offensive line already established as one of the best in the land), both supporting an offense as lethal as you can find in the league this season, you understand the normally-oppressive scenario of defending the title may be the only worthy expectation for the Saints… and if they don’t push to keep the Lombardi Trophy in the bayou, you know something has gone drastically wrong.
The Jacksonville Jaguars spent the off-season wondering why no one wants to buy tickets and the answer, from our point of view, is rather obvious: Maurice Jones-Drew translates better to the comforts of the couch and the 60” LCD, and until you push any other facet of this team to match and support his efforts, there is no need to waste time or money on what may be the worst team in the National Football League (a dubious honor they avoid only because of MJD).
We keep waiting for the Kubiak army to rise and challenge the powers of the NFL, and the longer we wait, the more we suspect it will never come as an offense clearly gifted in the art of the pass is so substandard in effort to create any semblance of ability with the run that we wonder if the loss of rookie Ben Tate, the alleged savior of the Texans’ rushing offense lost to a preseason broken ankle, isn’t an omen of continued dismay and poor fortune.
An objective review of the situation in Tennessee would reveal the same warts as many of the teams listed above – questionable quarterback with questionable receivers putting too much emphasis on the run with an unknown defense – but the Titans bring the wood on the offensive line, that guy pushing the run is as explosive as any other player in the league, and while the defense may be questionable, the coaching and proven ability to make a situation like this work is not.
The 2010 edition of the Indianapolis Colts may be as vulnerable as any we’ve seen during the era of Peyton Manning, but the same could be said about the division, the conference, and the league, leaving us with reason to believe the Colts may lack the overall strength to topple other favorites for this year’s Lombardi Trophy but they certainly do not lack in weaponry, on both sides of the football, needed to put the AFC South in check.