The Biggest Question for Each NFL Roster Heading into Camp Season
Has your team improved? Where are they still vulnerable?
Questions abound in NFL land, even during the mythical offseason.
I'll be taking a look at the biggest question facing each of the 32 NFL teams as they start heading into mini-camps, official team activities and, eventually, training camp.
Read on to see if your NFL team is ready to answer their biggest question.
Is there enough talent in the defensive secondary?
The Bills have added some impressive pieces to their front seven this offseason, but I'm not sure the talented Stephon Gilmore will give the Bills enough talent in the back end to compete against offenses like New England.
Who will be taking snaps in Week 1?
In my opinion, Ryan Tannehill should get a crack at the lineup after the bye week, provided that the Dolphins aren't in playoff contention. However, with Tannehill's familiarity with the offense, I couldn't blame Miami for throwing him into the fire.
New England Patriots
Can the rookies and free agent signings contribute right away?
In addition to their 2012 NFL draft class, the Patriots have added some talented players in Brandon Lloyd, Steve Gregory and a host of other players. If Coach Belichick can get them all on the same page, they could have a special season in New England.
New York Jets
What is the plan at quarterback?
As the old adage goes, "If you have two quarterbacks, you have none." If the plan really is to play Tim Tebow upwards of 20 snaps per game, I'm just not sure how that is going to work with the already skittish Mark Sanchez.
Can Courtney Upshaw fill Terrell Suggs' shoes?
When you lose a player as important as Suggs to injury, it is always nice to have already brought in their heir apparent. Upshaw isn't as explosive as Suggs, but he is certainly ready to contribute at the NFL level.
Are the young guns able to mesh with the established crew?
According to nearly every draft analyst in existence, the Bengals had a wonderful 2012 NFL draft. However, building a team is not just collecting talent. It will be interesting to see how well their vaunted choices perform this year.
Will it be McCoy or Weeden?
This one was simple. Do the Browns roll with the seemingly NFL-ready Brandon Weeden or do they keep the ball in Colt McCoy's hands? I'll be shocked if you don't see Weeden behind center in Week 1, as you just don't spend a first-round pick on a nearly 30-year-old quarterback to develop him.
Can the new-look offensive line take the Pittsburgh offense to a new level?
Adding David DeCastro and Mike Adams should infuse some much needed talent and depth to the Steelers line. If Ben Roethlisberger is protected, the Steelers could be even better in 2012.
How will losing Mario Williams affect the Texans defense?
Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin have been very productive, and the Texans drafted Whitney Mercilus to continue pressuring opposing quarterbacks. I think the Buffalo Bills will be very happy with Mario Williams, but I don't think that the Texans will miss him much.
Does Andrew Luck have enough talent around him to succeed?
The Colts certainly missed Peyton Manning, but the football team as a whole was just bad. They added some weapons in tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, as well as receiver T.Y. Hilton. Luck will need to score plenty of points, as the Indy defense doesn't look like it has improved much on paper.
Can Blaine Gabbert improve on his dismal rookie season?
The Jaguars have finally added some weapons for Gabbert, including first-round receiver Justin Blackmon, so it will be on the second-year quarterback to show that he can stare down the pressure and live up to his early draft selection.
Is it Jake Locker's time to shine in 2012?
The Titans wisely let Locker season for some time during the 2011 season. Now they need to know what they are going to get out of their first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Can Peyton Manning duplicate what he had in Indianapolis?
Denver doesn't have the same set of receivers that the Colts had during Manning's run of success. There is no Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne here. Whether Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas can become trusted receivers for Manning will decide just how good Denver is in 2012.
Kansas City Chiefs
Will Matt Cassel assert himself as the franchise quarterback?
The Chiefs have sniffed around a few big name quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning. They have Ricky Stanzi and Brady Quinn in reserve. If Matt Cassel can't return the Chiefs into the playoffs in 2012, the Chiefs might be in the market for a quarterback from the loaded 2013 NFL draft class.
Can the new management rebuild the Raiders on the fly?
The Raiders have cut ties with a lot of high-priced veterans and are looking to re-establish the once storied Raiders franchise to its former glory. They had a very productive draft for the limited number of selections that they had at their disposal. Tony Bergstrom and Juron Criner both have the chance to be impact rookies.
San Diego Chargers
Will the Chargers play for 16 games?
The Chargers have had a nasty habit of taking months off at a time over the last few years. In 2011, San Diego started and finished 4-1, but lost six in a row during October and November. That can't happen if the Chargers want to make the playoffs in 2012.
Can Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr keep the Cowboys fighting for the playoffs?
With Mike Vick, Eli Manning and now Robert Griffin III in the NFC East, the defensive secondary was a priority for the Cowboys this offseason. If Claiborne and Carr have their expected impact, the Cowboys could surprise folks in 2012.
New York Giants
Do the Giants have enough to repeat?
After losing, among others, Jake Ballard (injury), Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs this offseason, the Giants have done a pretty good job of restocking their cupboard. Adding David Wilson and Reuben Randle might not immediately replace the veterans, but their upside makes the Giants future very bright.
Is the nightmare over?
The "Dream Team" never materialized in 2011, no matter how many prized free agents were brought in. With a few of the locker room distractions gone, perhaps this is the year that the Eagles can take of business on the field...as well as off of it.
Is RG3 the next Cam Newton?
Newton defied almost all the odds in having one of the most impressive rookie seasons for a quarterback in history. If Mike Shanahan and company can adapt their scheme to Griffin's strengths, I see no reason why Griffin can't have similar success in 2012.
Is the offensive line ready to go?
The Bears added receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but I'm not sure Jay Cutler is going to be able to get the ball to them. They'll get tackle Gabe Carimi back from injury, but the offensive line could still be the biggest weakness on the team.
Can the secondary compete with the high-powered NFC offenses?
The Lions added cornerback Dwight Bentley to their porous secondary during the draft, but I'm not sure that will be enough to compete with Green Bay, New York and New Orleans on a consistent basis.
Green Bay Packers
Have the Packers addressed their defensive deficiencies?
2012 draftees Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniel will all add to the pass rush, but the secondary wasn't up to snuff in 2011 either. Tramon Williams will need to bounce back from a poor season if the Packers want to hold opponents under their 2011 total.
How much will the Vikings miss Adrian Peterson?
Unless Greg Childs and Jairus Wright, two rookie receivers from Arkansas, can step in right away and contribute for Minnesota, the Vikings will still be a running team in 2012. However, if Peterson misses a substantial portion of the season, it remains to be seen if Toby Gerhart can carry the load.
Can the Falcons utilize their stud receivers?
Thomas Dimitroff spent a lot of draft capital to pair Julio Jones with Roddy White. Thankfully, he added Peter Konz this year to help protect Matt Ryan. If the Falcons can run the ball and keep Ryan clean, their offense has a chance to be special.
Can Joe Adams and Amini Silatolu help Cam Newton take the next step?
Newton did a lot with a little in 2011. Adding a physical guard in Silatolu and a waterbug like Adams could be just what he needs to turn the Panthers offense into a true juggernaut.
New Orleans Saints
Can Drew Brees quarterback and coach?
The Saints have way more questions than answers at this point. First of all, when will they actually sign Brees? Secondly, if the Saints can weather all the player suspensions handed down from the NFL Commissioner's office, you have to wonder whether losing their coach will have a lasting mental impact on the team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Can the youth movement rebound from a tough 2011 campaign?
With the infusion of Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and a strong 2012 NFL draft class featuring Doug Martin and Mark Barron, the Bucs are poised to have a year much closer to their strong 2010 season. If Josh Freeman and his receivers can click, the Bucs could challenge for the NFC South crown.
Can the Cardinals get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd?
John Skelton has a good arm but doesn't strike fear in the hearts and minds of opposing defensive coordinators. At this point, Kevin Kolb strikes fear only in the ears of his own coordinators. If the Cardinals can't solve their quarterback conundrum, having two great receivers might be for naught.
San Francisco 49ers
How will the receiver position shake out come September?
Once a position of relative obscurity on the 49ers, the receiver position is now stacked with talent. Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn are now joined with free agent acquisitions Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, as well as first-round pick A.J. Jenkins. I'd expect Crabtree and Manningham, with Jenkins in the slot, to get the majority of snaps.
Who will be the starting quarterback come December?
Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson will be battling it out in Seattle. Oh wait, you better add Russell Wilson to the mix as well. The Seahawks have some obvious talent on offense, but they need some stability at the quarterback position to develop it. I wouldn't be surprised to see all three quarterbacks get a start at some point this season.
St. Louis Rams
Does Sam Bradford have enough weapons to compete?
Rookie receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens were two of my favorite picks in the 2012 NFL draft. Each of them gives Bradford a dynamic threat to stretch the defense and open holes for Steven Jackson and the running game. Look for the Rams to finally live up to expectations in 2012.