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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Playing 32 Offseason Questions: Prisco has one for each NFL team

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Peyton Manning chats with Ravens officials before the Colts game in Baltimore this season. (Getty Images)  
Peyton Manning chats with Ravens officials before the Colts game in Baltimore this season. (Getty Images)  

The NFL offseason is a time for the negative.

What is wrong with the team? How do they fix it?

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During the season, teams love to be positive: Coaches talk the talk; general managers hide their discomfort.

But when the season ends, the ugly comes out. The anger bubbles to the surface.

How the heck can they make their team better? How can they get one of those big, shiny, silver trophies? What moves need to be made?

Who stays? Who goes? Who do they sign?

All 32 teams, including the two Super Bowl teams, have major questions. So as we put the 2011 season in the books and move on to 2012, here's a big question for all 32 teams as they ready for the offseason.

Arizona Cardinals
Do they believe Kevin Kolb is the long-term answer?

If they get into Peyton Manning talks, we will have our answer. There is some feeling that the team would be better off playing John Skelton, rather than Kolb. It's too early for that, but Kolb didn't do a lot to convince people he was the long-term answer in his first in Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons
Will the change in coordinators on both sides help get them past playoff woes?

I like the hiring of Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator and Mike Nolan on the defensive side. Koetter didn't get the chance to be as aggressive as he would like in Jacksonville, but will be able to do that with Matt Ryan and his receivers. Nolan is a top-level defensive mind.

Baltimore Ravens
What do they do with running back Ray Rice?

He is set to become an unrestricted free agent, so you would think they would put the franchise tag on him. But you never know. He is only 25 and a big part of their offense.

Buffalo Bills
How do they fix a defense that really struggled in 2011?

The first move is to go from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme. Now comes the tough part: Finding edge pass rushers. They have to load up on those kinds of players in free agency and the draft.

Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton helped fix the offense, but what do they do to fix the defense? They have to get better inside at defensive tackle and at cornerback. I would imagine they would use an early pick in the draft on one of those two positions. They could also be active in free agency to find a top-level corner, maybe a Brandon Carr from the Chiefs.

Chicago Bears
Will then change in offensive coordinators from Mike Martz to Mike Tice help or hurt Jay Cutler? It will be interesting to see if the push to more of a running offense will help Cutler. Martz was pass heavy and the offense didn't have audibles. That means Cutler will now have more freedom at the line of scrimmage to change out of bad plays.

Cincinnati Bengals
What do they do at running back?

Cedric Benson is a free agent, and while he's a decent player he's more of a plodder than a guy who rips off long runs. They have Bernard Scott, but is he the long-term answer? They need to get a speed back.

Cleveland Browns
Do they stick with Colt McCoy as their starting quarterback?

McCoy was given the chance to show he was the long-term answer, but struggled in 2011. Seneca Wallace wasn't much better. I would imagine the Browns might be a suitor for Matt Flynn of the Packers. Or they could trade up in the first round for a chance to draft Robert Griffin.

Dallas Cowboys
How do the Cowboys fix a defense that was a major flop in 2011?

Rob Ryan talked a big game, and the defense looked like it would be good, but it wasn't. They have major issues on the back end of their defense and need to get better at covering receivers. Does it mean the end for Terence Newman?

Denver Broncos
Do they fit Tim Tebow to their offense or continue to fit what they do to Tebow?

Look, I understand the infatuation with Tebow. But the Broncos can't win over the long haul with that read-option offense. They have to force Tebow to execute in a more conventional offense. That's what this offseason should be about for the Broncos, fitting him into offense not the other way around.

Detroit Lions
What do they do with Cliff Avril?

He is a young pass rusher who had 11 sacks last season, but he is an unrestricted free agent. Do the Lions franchise him? If not, how much should they go to pay him to stay? If he hits the market, he will get a big deal from somebody.

Green Bay Packers
Do they put a franchise tag on tight end Jermichael Finley?

Finely has star potential, even if he didn't live up to it in 2011. If the Packers tag him, it would be in the $5.5 million per year range. If they sign him to a long-term deal, the average likely will be more. I imagine they do everything they can to keep him.

Houston Texans
What do they do with Mario Williams?

Williams, one of the league's better young pass rushers, will become an unrestricted free agent. But he's coming off an injury-shortened season and will cost $22 million if the Texans put the franchise tag on him, which they won't do. That means he will likely hit the market. If that's the case, he will be almost certainly be playing somewhere else.

Indianapolis Colts
What happens with Peyton Manning? I think at some point in the next week or so they will cut him free. That would mean a whole new start: New front office, now coach and a new quarterback in Andrew Luck, who they will take with the top pick in April.

Jacksonville Jaguars
How do they develop second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert?

The new staff has a lot of work to turn him into a functioning NFL quarterback. His mechanics were bad as a rookie, so this offseason -- his first -- will be huge. There is a big thought that he's not tough enough, but the Jaguars players and front office dispute that notion. He needs better feel in the pocket.

Kansas City Chiefs
Can they keep both corner Brandon Carr and receiver Dwayne Bowe?

The corner position has great value and Carr is a top-level cover player who is only 25. Bowe has put up some big numbers without some great quarterback play. Both players are core players for the Chiefs, but it will be tough to keep both of them.

Miami Dolphins
Who plays quarterback?

Does new coach Joe Philbin push for Flynn, who he had in Green Bay? Or do the Dolphins make a push for Manning? I would imagine star-struck owner Stephen Ross will push for Manning.

Minnesota Vikings
Can Adrian Peterson return to his pre-injury form?

Peterson tore up his knee in the team's next-to-last game, so he faces a tough off-season of rehab. With medical technology what it is now, backs come back faster from knee injuries. That doesn't mean Peterson will be the same guy, even if he makes it back for the opener.

New England Patriots
How do they fix that defense?

It all starts with the draft. Bill Belichick has blown too many picks on the defensive side of the ball over the past five years. They have to do a better job come April of picking defensive players.

New Orleans Saints
We know they're bringing Drew Brees back, but what do they do with their other top-level free agents like Carl Nicks, Tracy Porter and Marques Colston?

Brees will get the franchise tag or a long-term deal, but keeping the other three will be tough. I would imagine Nicks and Colston will go, though the Saints may have a chance to keep Porter. They can't let all three leave.

New York Giants
How do they avoid the Super Bowl hangover?

It all starts with coach Tom Coughlin. He's done a great job in the past when his team wasn't expected to be good. But at times, when expectations were high, he hasn't done as well. This offseason will challenge him as a coach to keep the team focused on the future and push the past behind.

New York Jets
How do they make Mark Sanchez a confident quarterback again?

The change in offensive coordinators will help, but Tony Sparano has to open up the offense. Ground and pound isn't gong to help Sanchez. The Jets need to be less predictable. It will be interesting to see if Sparano pulls it off.

Oakland Raiders
Can the new regime in general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen get past the Raiders recent reputation for being dysfunctional?

They're off to a good start. McKenzie is already purging some bad contracts -- see Stanford Routt -- and is putting his stamp on this team. Al Davis ran things for a long time, so it has to feel fresh around the building. Allen is a rising coach who certainly will help improve the defense.

Philadelphia Eagles
What do the Eagles do with receiver DeSean Jackson?

There is no denying his game-breaking ability. But he has some attitude issues and agent Drew Rosenhaus will ask for a ton in a long-term deal. They reportedly will put the franchise tag on him. That would protect them for a year to see if his attitude improves.

Pittsburgh Steelers
What will the change in offensive coordinator from Bruce Arians to Todd Haley mean for the offense?

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger loved Arians and Haley has a reputation for alienating players. His relationship with Roethlisberger will be something to closely watch this spring. Haley likes to throw the football, so it shouldn't change the Steelers' offense that much since they have become a pass-first team.

St. Louis Rams
What big changes will the new regime, including coach Jeff Fisher, make for the offense and defense?

They have to get Sam Bradford playing at a high level again, which will fall to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Fisher has been a run-first coach in his career, but he has to lean more on Bradford. Gregg Williams will bring his aggressive style to a defense that has some good building blocks in James Laurinaitis and Chris Long.

San Diego Chargers
What do they do with Vincent Jackson?

He is a big part of their passing game, but he's closing in on 30 and they won't franchise him. So that means he will hit the market. If he leaves, it will leave a big void in their passing game. It's a tough call.

San Francisco 49ers
Is Alex Smith their guy at quarterback?

It sure seems that way. Smith is an unrestricted free agent, who played decently in 2011. But he has to do more if the 49ers do bring him back. The 49ers passing game isn't good enough, which means Smith has to be better than just a game manager.

Seattle Seahawks
Who starts at quarterback in 2012?

You have to think the Seahawks will make a move to bring somebody in, whether through the draft or free agency? Neither Tarvaris Jackson nor Charlie Whitehurst looks like the long-term starter.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Can Greg Schiano instill discipline in a team that needs it?

The Bucs looked like they would be a potential playoff team in 2011, but they looked to have a discipline problem. Coach Raheem Morris was too buddy-buddy with his players. Schiano has to change that culture. Quickly.

Tennessee Titans
Will it be Jake Locker or Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback?

Locker flashed when he played for Hasselbeck last season and year in the off-season program will help. Hasselbeck isn't the long-term answer, so the Titans have to decide if they want to waste another year with him under center or move on to Locker.

Washington Redskins
Who will they get to play quarterback?

The indications are they will be in the Peyton Manning mix. But what if he can't play? What if they don't get him? Then what? Do they make a move to go up in the draft from the sixth spot? Do they take Ryan Tannehill at that spot? They have to improve at that position.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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