This off season has produced a great deal of change in the NFL landscape, with an extremely active free agency period and a draft where highly touted players somehow lasted until the later rounds. All 32 teams are now hoping that their new look rosters have what it takes to play far into the post-season and perhaps bring home the coveted Lombardi Trophy in early February. That being said, there are several pressing question marks on rosters that very well could dictate whether their respective teams are able to achieve success this season.
1) Can the Chiefs go from worst to first with their off season acquisitions?
Every season it seems a team is able to go from losing its division to winning it, and odds are this year is no different. The Chiefs were actually the worst team in the NFL last season, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that by looking at their current roster. They started by bringing in QB Alex Smith from San Francisco, who now must prove that he is a bonafide starter in this league, and not simply the game manager that San Francisco’s front office decided he was in benching him for Colin Kaepernick last year.
The shaky offensive line has been bolstered by first overall selection Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan. If the line is able to improve, Alex Smith should have time to get the ball to WR Dwayne Bowe who recently stated that he will lead the NFL in both receiving yards and touchdowns this season. (Bleacherreport.com) Running back Jamaal Charles also should benefit from better blocking, as well as being another year removed from the ACL surgery that prematurely ended his 2011 campaign.
Perhaps the biggest acquisition made by the Chiefs this season was bringing in head coach Andy Reid from Philadelphia, who has taken his team to the NFC championship 3 times in the past, and certainly has the credentials to take the Chiefs to the promised land should these new pieces prove able to thrive in his system.
2) Can young QBs avoid sophomore slump?
Young quarterbacks thrust into a starting position before they are given a chance to mature on the bench often struggle in their second season under center. The benefits of letting a young quarterback learn behind a veteran is showcased in the immediate success Aaron Rodgers was able to have after sitting for 4 seasons behind Brett Favre. However, the NFL is a win now league, and quarterbacks are often starting games long before they are ready.
Last season, rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russel Wilson, along with 2nd year man Colin Kaepernick were able to take the league by storm with their early successes. All of these men became household names within a few weeks, and have skyrocketed their team’s expectations heading into this season.
The sophomore slump may still plague these apparent superheroes, and unless they can avoid a drop off in their production, their fans may soon be scratching their heads and wondering where this year went wrong.
3) Can Green Bay’s defense do enough to allow team to reach potential?
We all know about the Aaron Rodgers lead offense dominating the league without so much as an attempt at a running game, however the Pack has added two highly touted running backs via the draft, making the offense seemingly even more dominant. The defense on the other hand, has been quite pedestrian the past two seasons, acting as the Achilles heel for this team.
The drafting of Datone Jones could finally provide an edge rusher to compliment Clay Matthews. The linebacking corps should benefit from the return of Desmond Bishop, who missed the entirety of last season due to injury.
The only hole appears to be at safety, where no significant moves were made, perhaps a vote of confidence for MD Jennings and Jerron McMillan from GM Ted Thompson.
If these new players and young guns can aid the veteran talent on the defense so that they produce around the league average, the Packers will be a force to be reckoned with this year.
Every team has its question marks heading into the season, but these three appear to be the most pressing, if they turn from questions to positives, any team has the ability to win the Super Bowl in February.
Written By: Charlie Gille
Sources / Supporting Links / Works Cited: bleacherreport.com/nfl