Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Offseason Checkup
Posted on: April 3, 2011 2:34 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: San Diego Chargers

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups.



2010 was a weird year for the San Diego Chargers. They had all the tools necessary to contend for a Super Bowl, and in a season when parity reigned supreme, that should have equated with success. It didn't, though, because the San Diego got off to one of its patented slow starts, performed epically horrible on special teams, and couldn't close out inferior teams.

Statistically, though, it was all there. Philip Rivers was a machine on offense, piling up big stats despite throwing to guys like Legadu Naanee, Patrick Crayton, Randy McMichael and Seyi Ajirotutu. Part of what got those A-listers on the top of the Bolts' receiving stats was injuries (well, most was injuries), and part was the holdout of Vincent Jackson. Oh yes, and Mike Tolbert -- just like everyone expected -- was the team's leading rusher.

Defensively, San Diego thrived despite not having an elite pass-rushing presence. In fact, just like on offense, they were the No. 1-ranked team in the league. And yet, again, no playoffs. It's a really odd conundrum, frankly, and it's either a really weird fluke or it's indicative of a bigger problem within the organization. Given the Chargers' typically annual success, the jury's still out on the latter, but another slow start and sloppy manner of missing the playoffs could change that in 2011.



Special Teams, Depth

It's not all that hard to pinpoint the problems for the Chargers in 2010. Pretty clearly, special teams cost them a couple of wins and therefore a shot at the postseason (plus, likely a divisional title). 

Of course, fixing special teams is much easier than, say, fixing a giant hole at quarterback, and it's entirely possible that with the right personnel moves, the Chargers will be fine in that area in 2011. In fact, once some veterans were plugged into the special teams unit, San Diego was much better at the third leg of football than it was earlier in the year. (At that point, though, it was just too late.) 

Perhaps the bigger problem for the Chargers in 2011 will be the status of certain players. Vincent Jackson was franchised, but depending on how the CBA shakes out, he could be gone. It seems somewhat reasonable that he's around for one more year. Malcolm Floyd could be out the door as well, meaning the Chargers' depth at wide receiver could be crushed back to late-last-year levels. If Kevin Burnett, Stephen Cooper, Eric Weddle, Jacques Cesaire, Travis Johnson leave, the defense is going to take a hit too. It's part of the problem with the way A.J. Smith built the team -- if the labor negotiations don't favor the league, San Diego's depth suffers.



1. Defensive End
As might have been said 5,000 times in these previews thus far, it's a pretty good year to need depth at defensive line. So it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Chargers nab a defensive end with their first-round pick. J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan and Adrian Clayborn are all highly likely/possible picks for San Diego at No. 18.

2. Linebacker
Shaun Phillips had a monster year in 2010, but San Diego needs to beef up their linebacking corps, unless they actually think that Larry English can end up performing to his first-round expectations. (And, speaking of which, not exactly a great last pair of years in the first round for A.J. Smith, huh? Ryan Mathews and Larry English aren't exactly justifying their top-20 status.) English could still justify the selection, but there's some serious talent that would fit San Diego's scheme in guys like Robert Quinn, Akeem Ayers and Ryan Kerrigan, the latter two of whom should fall to 18 pretty easily. Quinn's a guy that would be a steal at 18 and could also be a trade-up target for Smith if hops up the board again in 2011.

3. Wide Receiver
Talk about an up-in-the-air position for the Bolts: if Jackson and Floyd end up leaving, they're going to need some serious help here. Buster Davis isn't going to pan out and while Antonio Gates should technically qualify as "depth" at wideout, having Naanee and Ajirotutu as the top receiving options just isn't going to cut it. Smith and Norv Turner know they can have success with less than elite talent, though, so seeing them take a wideout with an early pick would be a bit surprising.



Look, the Chargers are capable of winning it all in 2011. Statistics don't mean everything (obviously), but if a team is the top offensive AND defensive team, it means there's enough talent on the roster to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Living up to the lofty expectations this franchise has set for the past few years in 2011 will require two things: not making simple mistakes and actually remembering that football starts in September.

It would help, too, for the Bolts to address some of their defensive needs as well. And for their last two first-rounders -- English and Mathews -- to play up to their potential. Should all of that happen in 2011 and the Chargers don't win the division and/or at least make a run to the playoffs, it's entirely possible that Norv Turner's job could be on the line once again. At this point, there's no viable reason for a team with this much success -- statistically speaking -- not to be converting their high-end performance into more wins.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: April 1, 2011 1:26 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: New York Giants

Posted by Andy Benoit

E. Manning (US Presswire)

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our
Offseason Check-ups.




Stop me if you’ve seen this one before: very talented, much talked about Giants team gets off to a fast start. At midseason they’re 6-2 and looking like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But in the second half, things start going south. There are rumblings about Tom Coughlin’s job security.

Moronic members of the press who only understand football on a box score level see that Eli Manning is leading the league in interceptions so, predictably, they question him. (Never mind that Manning, who had one of the best seasons of his career, was plagued by receivers’ drops and bad routes.)

There is a particularly heart-wrenching loss to the hated Eagles in Week 15 (apparently the punter not only kicked to DeSean Jackson but also singlehandedly gave up 28 points in the fourth quarter…right?), followed by what would turn out to be a playoff-hopes-slashing defeat at Green Bay the following week.




A change to consider: Antrel Rolle as the new Charles Woodson

The change here needs to be made by fans and the media. It’s time to start recognizing Rolle as the Pro Bowl caliber rover that he is. Thanks to iffy linebackers, depth at safety and a schedule that frequently pitted them against three-receiver offenses, the Giants essentially converted to a three safety starting lineup in 2010. .

Rolle filled what used to be one of the outside linebacker positions. This was done because the former cornerback has the cover skills to line up against wideouts in the slot, but also the tackling prowess to play the edge on the run. What’s more, Rolle is a terrific blitzer, which allows coordinator Perry Fewell to disguise his fronts. Sound like any particular Packer you know?



1. Middle Linebacker
Jonathan Goff is not a bad player, but there is nothing electrifying about him either. This defense has a chance to be special. You can’t be special with a banal force in the middle.

2 Receiving weapon
Steve Smith’s microfracture surgery (knee) leaves his future in doubt. The restricted free agent wideout will spend the entire offseason rehabbing and may not be ready come September. At tight end, the serviceable Kevin Boss is as tough as they come, but with the focus on vertical seam routes in Kevin Gilbride’s system, a better athlete in this spot would do wonders.


3. Center
Shaun O’Hara made the Pro Bowl last season but strictly on name recognition. The 33-year-old (34 in June) missed all but six games with various injuries. When O’Hara did return to action, he looked creaky. Time to groom a replacement.




Ladies and gentlemen….your dark horse Super Bowl contender for 2011! The Giants have a veteran star quarterback, elite rushing attack (thanks in part to a cohesive offensive line) and defense loaded with talent along the front and back fours.

And most of these players have significant playoff experience. If this team can overcome the Big Apple drama that creeps up every year, it’s as tough an out as any.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: March 31, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Offseason checkup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Posted by Will Brinson

J. Freeman is the face of the Tampa Bay franchise (Getty).  

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our team-by-team podcast:





If you know anyone predicted that the Buccaneers would challenge for a divisional title and/or the playoffs, you should stop reading this immediately, buy that person a plane ticket to Las Vegas and go get your Biff Tannen on.

And even though Raheem Morris' Tampa Bay squad shocked the world, people still aren't ready to believe. That's okay, and probably a little fair until the success becomes consistent, and perhaps more, um, explicable. But sometimes wins aren't borne out by stats and Josh Freeman, an absolute star of a quarterback in the making, is a good sample of that. Freeman led the Bucs on several incredibly impressive fourth-quarter comebacks in 2010, and there's little question that he's the face of the franchise going forward.

All optimism aside, though, there's still plenty the Bucs need to address before going head-to-head against the Falcons and Saints seems like a fair fight.



Defensive line, secondary

Tampa Bay burned its first two 2010 picks on defensive tackles -- Gerald McCoy and Brian Price -- and it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the Bucs use some early selections on the defensive line again this year. Defensive end is a big need, and there's plenty of depth at the position heading into April's draft.

The secondary could be an issue for the Bucs, but it's really up in the air at the moment. That's because would-be-star cornerback Aqib Talib is dealing with "violence issues" that have manifested in the form of a "felony arrest warrant," and Tanard Jackson, suspended for substance abuse issues in 2010, is a total wild card. Ronde Barber's fine when it comes to behavior, but there's little chance he'll play after 2011.



1. Defensive end
After spending two early picks on the interior defensive line in 2010, it actually makes a ton of sense to also address the ends in 2011. And this is the perfect draft to do so with a pile of DE talent that should fall to the back end of the first round. Perhaps guys like Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Iowa's Adrian Clayborn would entice the Bucs.

2. Cornerback
It wouldn't seem all that prudent to suggest that the Bucs look for a "problem child" type of corner to beef up their secondary, but if someone like Jimmy Smith falls to them, they'd have to at least consider the move. (And, really, it's not fair to make any comparison with Smith's reported attitude problems and the legal issues for the current Bucs' secondary.) Alternately, don't be shocked to see them beef up the position's depth via later rounds.

3. Running Back

LeGarrette Blount had an absolutely fantastic season for Tampa (and he's blatantly going to be the guy who gets drafted too early in 2011 fantasy drafts) but there are still questions as to whether it was Tampa's scheme or Blount's skills that propelled his year. Even if it was the latter, the Bucs should look to build backfield depth in a year that's prime for doing so in the draft.



Its relatively easy to be bullish on the Bucs heading into 2011, but it's also important to remember that there is room for improvement and growth in Tampa, and with such room can come some growing pains. Of course, it's not terrible news that the draft sets up nicely in terms of depth versus need for this roster.

A repeat of 10 wins in 2011 might be a bit of a stretch, especially if Atlanta and New Orleans improve in the offseason. But discounting Morris' ability to motivate this team would be a foolish move, and there's good reason to expect continued improvement.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our
RSS Feed


Posted on: March 30, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Kansas City Chiefs

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t -- as a certain former Chiefs coach-turned-analyst said -- the “story of 2010.” Maybe at the midway point of last year, but now? Come on. Still, watching the Todd Haley’s crew grow up right before our very eyes last year was definitely fun.

And definitely a reason to give tons of credit to Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, the two coordinators that managed to get a slew of the Chiefs’ early-round draft picks to actually play to their potential. Glenn Dorsey, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, and Tamba Hali all blossomed on the defensive side, and Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki turned into fantastic offensive seasons.

Various talent levels aside, there were too many players who took a step forward in 2010 to simply call it a coincidence. Sustaining those levels, though, is the bigger problem.




Scheme, Blocking

The offensive skill positions are pretty well set for KC (depending on what you think about Matt Cassel anyway, and with the notable exception of a second wideout with wheels) and if they can bring back Brandon Carr, the secondary is going to be sick long-term, and possibly even as soon as next year.

But the Chiefs still need some help in the trenches, though. Defensively, Tyson Jackson played well before suffering an early season injury and Glenn Dorsey certainly made people in Kansas feel a little better about his top-five selection.

And offensively, well, it’s pretty obvious how good this team can be. The biggest question is whether or not Haley can stay out of his own way. (Or, alternately, if Weis really is that brilliant a playcaller -- 2011 will let us know to some degree.) Weaknesses in one particular area -- offensive line -- could put the risk of not repeating on the table.




1. Offensive Line
The key indicator that the Chiefs’ offensive line played better than it is in 2010 is the differential in yards per carry for Thomas Jones (3.7) and Jamaal Charles (6.4). That’s not to say the two backs are equal, because they’re absolutely not; Charles is many times better than Jones at this stage. But Charles also creates his own yardage to a significant degree, and made it easier for KC to be the top rushing team in the NFL. There’s enough talent at O-line in the draft this year to warrant beefing up early.

2. Wide Receiver
Chris Chambers, clearly, isn’t the answer to line up across from Bowe, who had one of the more dominant stretches by a wide receiver we’ve seen in a while across the middle of last season, despite the Chiefs not offering anyone that warrants not double-teaming the Pro Bowler. Putting a talented speedster on the opposite side of Bowe would boost the offense’s overall potent-ability and make life easier for Cassel.

3. Defensive Line
Though the defense produced some surprises from guys who previously underwhelmed, don’t be shocked if the Chiefs look to the defensive line with an early pick in this draft. There’s ample talent available in the early rounds (we’ve covered the depth at this position, no?) and stockpiling some big bodies will bode well for an overall defensive improvement in 2011.



2011 will carry the unusual burden of high expectations for Kansas City. On offense, that’s a distinct possibility if Charlie Weis’ presence really was that important to the development of his skill position guys (Cassel, Bowe and Charles, specifically). If Kansas City struggles to score points out of the gate, all fingers will be pointing at Todd Haley, who’s reportedly clashed enough with Weis to run the big guy out of Dodge and down to work for Will Muschamp in the college ranks.

Defensively, Crennel can help continue to restore his reputation if Jackson can step up and the Dorsey/Johnson can keep the redemption story rolling. Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, Brandon Flowers, and Carr should grow as well, so there’s absolutely some upside from last year’s defensive performance.

It’ll all come down to expectations, though. If some of the guys who performed so well last year regress, or the offensive performances in 2010 were a mirage built on Weis’ brain, there’s a good chance that 2011 looks more like a mirage than a blossoming team for a recovering franchise.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: March 29, 2011 11:56 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Indianapolis Colts

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:





While the Colts were (*YAWN*) winning their ninth straight division title last year, holding off challenges from, I don’t know, the Jaguars I guess, Indianapolis showed cracks in its foundation that will have to be rectified if the Colts plan to continue dominating the AFC South.

Remember when the Texans upset Indianapolis in the season opener, and we (or at least, I) thought it was a brand new day in that division? Remember when, with the 38-35 loss to the Cowboys in Week 13, we wondered if Indianapolis, 6-6 at the time, would even make the postseason? Well, the Colts corrected themselves to win the final four games of the regular season, winning three of three division contests in the process, to earn the chance to lose to the Jets in the first round of the playoffs.

The Colts, though, no longer seem infallible. They’re, in fact, awfully beatable, and they’ll have to make some corrections this offseason to make it 10-straight championships.



Running game, head coaching questions

The Colts haven’t compiled a top-10 rushing attack since 2001, but that hasn’t stopped them from taking home nine-straight 10-win (or better) seasons since then (for the record, Indianapolis had the No. 7 rushing offense in the league in 2001, but the team finished 6-10). Last year, though, you could see the lack of a top-notch back to bail out QB Peyton Manning when he wasn’t playing well was a real detriment to the team.

The Colts ranked 29th in the run game last season with 92.7 yards per game. Hey, it’s an improvement on 2009 (32nd in the run game with 80.9 yards per game), but still, it’s not good enough.

Regarding Jim Caldwell, is anybody convinced he’s the next coaching legend? His record is outstanding, but the critics would say you could throw any old guy wearing a headset out there and pay him to watch Manning win games for you. I’m not saying those critics are right; I’m just saying it’s something to think about (though it’s not a great thing that owner Jim Irsay had to give him a vote of confidence after the 2010 season).



1. Better quality offensive linemen
This partly ties into the running game, but the Colts are in need of a solid group of guys to protect Manning. C Jeff Saturday is fine anchoring the middle of the line, though he’s in his mid-30s now, and while the line improved late in the season (not that it had anywhere to go but up), a left tackle would be nice so Charlie Johnson could move to the right side of the line. Manning does a nice job of getting the ball off quickly (which is why he doesn’t take many sacks), but you don’t want him taking more hits than he must. Although the Colts hardly ever draft offensive linemen in the early rounds of the draft – Bill Polian just doesn’t do it – this year might not be a bad idea to start.

2. Run-stopping DT
While Fili Moala, in 2010, had a big improvement over his rookie season, the Colts still ranked 25th in run defense. That’s why many mock drafts have Indianapolis selecting Oregon State’s Stephen Paea with the No. 22 pick (Polian also isn’t a fan of taking DTs very high in the draft). There’s little question that DEs Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney don’t have a problem finding the quarterback. But in order for the Colts to make deeper playoff runs – and four times in the past six postseasons, they’ve failed to win a game (the other two times, they made the Super Bowl) – they need somebody who can stop the run.

3. Backup QB
It’s time to stop thinking of Manning as an immortal Superman who rarely makes mistakes and never gets hurt. Instead, Manning was more mistake-prone than usual last year (his 17 interceptions were the most since 2002), and his backup, Curtis Painter, is simply not starting NFL quarterback quality. The problem here is that Manning – who is still a top-five quarterback, for sure – is going to make sooo much money the remainder of his career, Indianapolis probably can’t afford to bring in a quality, start-on-a-dime signal-caller. So, for now, the Colts will continue to pray the 35-year-old Manning doesn’t fall off a cliff (figuratively and literally).



Caldwell took a ton of heat after the Colts playoff loss to the Jets for calling an ill-advised timeout that allowed the Jets to regroup and win the game at the last minute. Sure, he’s 24-8 (2-2 in the postseason) in his two years in Indianapolis, but Caldwell isn’t shown the same respect as his predecessor Tony Dungy (one was the leader of the team, some say, and one is basically a figurehead coach).

On offense, though, Manning is the one running the offense, and how he plays usually is how the Colts go. For now, Indianapolis will be fine, because Manning is still really, really good. But what if he’s not next year? Is Caldwell the guy who can right the ship if everything is going bonkers? Frankly, we don’t know for sure. It shouldn’t matter this year or next (unless Manning gets hurt). But soon enough, that question will be the most relevant one to ask.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:15 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Philadelphia Eagles

Posted by Andy Benoit



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:





Michael Vick wrote one of the greatest bounce back stories in the history of professional sports, giving the Eagles not just football’s fastest offense, but also its most entertaining.

Turns out, the 30-year-old Vick is a pied piper to young guns Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy (all of whom took a collective step forward in 2010).

Philly’s magic began to dissipate once teams realized that this defense was not far above average and that this offense could not read complex blitzes prior to the snap.




An improved front five could put the Eagles over the top in 2011. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo has moved to the defensive coordinator role (not a typo…the offensive line coach is now the defensive coordinator).

Filling Castillo’s old spot is longtime Colts assistant Howard Mudd, whom many believe is the best line coach in the industry. Mudd will simplify everything Philly’s offensive linemen do.

Whereas before they had a handful of different pass protection methods to learn, they’ll now have just one. Expect to see major improvements right away. Mudd was a big reason the Colts were able to survive with low-drafted and undrafted blockers for so many years.




1. Outside Linebacker
Ernie Sims is a great athlete who has no idea what he’s doing half the time. Opposing offenses love spotting him in coverage. Moise Fokou has good downhill attack speed, but he’s a fringe starter at best.

2. Safety
It would be wise to re-sign veteran leader Quintin Mikell. But if that doesn’t happen, the Eagles will likely need a more consistent replacement strong safety than Kurt Coleman. Also, keep in mind, free safety Nate Allen tore his ACL in December.

3. Cronerback
Everyone thinks Nnamdi Asomugha would be a great fit on this team. Asomugha, however, is a man-to-man specialist. Castillo will run a zone-based scheme. The Eagles would be wise to spend the money elsewhere. And while upgrades would be nice, the Eagles don’t necessarily have to spend at this spot to begin with. As much as Dmitri Patterson struggled down the stretch, the first-time starter also looked very good at times, playing with aggression and confidence early on.




There is a lot of pressure on Michael Vick in 2011. He is being asked to lead a team that many expect to contend for a title. If he answers the challenge, he’ll almost certainly be signed to a long-term mega contract that could make most of the financial woes left over from his dogfighting retribution disappear.

If he fails, he’ll still get a big contract somewhere, but the mega contract will never come. Assuming Philly’s defense is fine (and granted, that’s not a light assumption), Vick’s performance will determine this team’s fate.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: March 27, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: New Orleans Saints

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The 2010 Saints, by virtue of the way the 2009 Saints ended their season, were a disappointment. Not a disappointment in the way most season-after Super Bowl champs end up, of course, but a disappointment nonetheless. 

Things could have been different had the defending champs been more prepared for a Seahawks team that shocked the world with their postseason upset, the biggest surprise of which was their ability to actually score 41 points. Of course, things would have been different if their division hadn't markedly improved as well -- the Buccaneers nearly made a playoff run and the Atlanta Falcons' success in 2010 has already been well-chronicled. 

That means, too, that the division won't be getting any easier in the future. Fortunately for the Saints, their championship window -- Drew Brees turned 32 shortly after the Saints loss to Seattle -- is wide open for a few more years, with the right additions in the offseason.



Running Game, Defense

It was all but impossible for the Saints to repeat the success they had on defense in 2009, when the team generated a ridiculous 39 turnovers. That's not because Gregg Williams' defense is gimmicky or anything. It's because generating almost 2.5 turnovers per game doesn't involve just good gameplanning and skill; it also involves a little bit of luck. That same luck didn't return for New Orleans in 2010, as they created just 25 turnovers (which is still a respectable, middle-of-the-pack number). 

Some more luck required in having a great season: health. And the Saints didn't stay healthy in 2010, at least with respect to the running game. By the time they were getting bounced by the Seahawks in the postseason, Sean Payton's crew was forced to trot out Julius Jones for 15 carries. That's a clear-cut sign that things aren't going perfectly in your backfield.

There was another sign that some things weren't working right: Marshawn Lynch's (literally) earth-shaking run to the end zone that sealed the deal for Seattle. Give all due credit to Beast Mode for his ability to rumble on, around and through defenders, but it's also a microcosmic example of how the Saints need to find improvement in their run defense if they want to get back to the Super Bowl in 2011.



1. Running Back
It's entirely possible that the Saints could survive with a combination of Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory. In fact, if all of those guys are healthy, and Bush is willing to take a paycut, that's not too terrible a situation. One key thing to remember, though, is that the Saints were an elite rushing team when they won the Super Bowl. In 2010? Not so much. It seems pretty unlikely that New Orleans would burn an early pick on a running back -- unless Mark Ingram happens to slip -- but don't be surprised if they take a look at some depth for the position when the draft rolls around.

2. Outside Linebacker
The Saints don't exactly have the most amazing defensive personnel on the front seven, and even though Jonathan Vilma's a big name, he's not high-caliber enough to warrant giving the Saints a pass on their linebacking corps. Adding a pass-rusher from edge and some speed and pursuit skills from the linebacker position -- think Akeem Ayers possibly? -- could do a lot to improve a defense that's shown significant holes against the run in recent years.

3. Defensive End
Shaun Rogers' presence via free agency could be a HUGE improvement for this defensive line. (Alternately, it could also be a tremendous bust and/or he might not stay healthy.) Either way, expect the Saints, if they don't look linebacker in the first round, to target some help for the defensive line. Will Smith is aging, Rogers isn't going to be a staple, and this team needs some youth on the defensive front. Given that this is one of the deepest defensive line draft classes we've seen in a while, it would make a lot of sense to pick up value late in the first round.



It's a good thing to be a team like the Saints, who face a substantial amount of scrutiny thanks to their success in recent years. Really, the Payton Era for New Orleans has been about as successful as one could hope -- a .613 winning percentage and a Super Bowl win for a team that struggled for many a year is a pretty incredible feat.

It's also a good thing to look at a roster -- in the case of the Saints -- and be able to identify two very specific problems on the roster, both of which can be tweaked, in order to get right back to a championship run. In the Saints case, they have that non-problem problem, and you can expect them to address it during the offseason and get right back to winning games in 2011. 

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2011 12:49 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Seattle Seahawks

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The Seahawks were subjected to much ridicule when they became the first team in playoff history to enter with a losing record (for that, we can thank the incredibly weak NFC West – not to mention the Rams, who fell to the Seahawks in Week 17 in a game that would have allowed St. Louis to win the division with an 8-8 mark).

But then, Seattle immediately thumbed its nose – and indirectly taunted the Giants and Buccaneers, both of whom missed the playoffs with 10-6 records – at the NFL by beating New Orleans (we can talk all day about how Seattle had an unfair advantage by getting to host an 11-5 team, but Seattle outclassed the Saints big time).

Seattle was a weird team to observe last season. The Seahawks were either pretty good (wins against the Chargers and the Bears attest to that), or they were absolutely horrid (remember the 33-3 loss to the Raiders and the 41-7 defeat to the Giants in consecutive weeks?). I never really got a handle on which Seattle team was going to show up each week, and I still couldn’t tell you whether the Seahawks were a good team last year. I kind of lean toward no, though.




Future franchise QB, Too much change

Matt Hasselbeck could return for another season, and honestly, that wouldn’t be a terrible decision, because he was decent enough last year for a 35-year-old quarterback. But his backup Charlie Whitehurst – who the Seahawks traded for last season – simply has not proved he’s a quality starter, and while third-stringer J.P. Losman started in Buffalo, there’s a pretty good reason he’s not doing it there anymore.

It seemed like coach Pete Carroll has turned over the roster about 15 times since he took over as head coach, and he’s lost a few assistants. At some point, there needs to be some roster and staff consistency, doesn’t there?



1. Franchise QB
Could Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb be that quarterback? The Seahawks would have to give up, at the very least, a first-round draft pick (and probably a mid-round pick as well) in order to trade the Eagles, but Kolb could very well be the guy to replace Hasselbeck. Emphasis on the word “could” because Kolb, as far as I’m concerned, still has much to prove as a starting QB. And if Seattle doesn’t get Kolb (and can’t re-sign the unrestricted free agent Hasselbeck), what the heck happen

2. Offensive consistency
wks fired offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates after just one season, probably because they averaged less than 300 yards of total offense per game and perhaps because they thought they could get Josh McDaniels to take that job. Instead, they hired former Vikings offensive coordinator Darren Bevell to replace Bates and former 49ers head coach Tom Cable as the OL coach. Maybe that will work. And if not, Carroll won’t have a problem looking for a replacement.

3. Cornerback help
Seattle allowed 11 passes of 40-plus yards last year, and though that wasn’t necessarily always the fault of the 30-year-old Marcus Trufant and the underwhelming Kelly Jennings, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Seattle takes a defensive back in the first round of the draft. The top-two CBs in the draft (Prince Amukamara and Patrick Patterson) surely won’t be around by the time the Seahawks pick at No. 25, but Colorado’s Jimmy Smith is a definite possibility.




For a playoff team, the Seahawks have soooooo much room to improve. RB Marshawn Lynch (who, you’ll recall, did this against the Saints) was serviceable after landing in the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle signed WR Mike Williams to a three-year extension near the end of the season. But the offensive line needs help (the team has used 15 (!) players on the left side of the line in the past three years), and the Seahawks could forgo a cornerback and draft a lineman in the first round.

That said, remember the Seahawks play in the weakest division in football. So, you could mark them down as favorites to win the NFC West, and you actually have a pretty good chance of being correct. But this team, like last year’s squad, could be very flawed. And it might not be very good.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com