Ranking NFL Offenses Post-Minicamp: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous
As we await the start of NFL training camps, what teams appear to have the best offenses?
Some have made sweeping changes, while others have been content to do some minor tinkering.
No doubt the final offensive rankings in 2012 will be much different than in 2011. But which teams deserve to be ranked in the top 10 or the bottom 10?
Here's an analysis of all 32 NFL offenses. Of course, many things can occur between the end of June and the start of the season in September that could impact these rankings. Thus, they are subject to change based on training camp injuries, free-agent signings and players who appear ready to have a breakout season.
32. Miami Dolphins
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2011 Rank: 22
2010 Rank: 21
Projected 2012 Rank: 32
Key Additions: QB David Garrard, QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Chad Ochocinco, T Jonathan Martin, TE Michael Egnew, RB Lamar Miller
Key Losses: QB Chad Henne, WR Brandon Marshall
The Dolphins are one of the few NFL teams that don't have a No. 1 wide receiver coming into training camp. When the Dolphins agreed to trade Marshall to the Chicago Bears, they still had time to find a replacement for him but failed to do so.
There is also a a big question about who will emerge as the starting quarterback. Without much of a threat at wide receiver, it will not be a surprise to see defenses stuff the box against Miami, forcing it to abandon the run and throw the ball early and often.
This could be a rough year for Dolphins fans, especially when they are on offense.
31. Minnesota Vikings
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2011 Rank: 18
2010 Rank: 23
Projected 2012 Rank: 31
Key Additions: T Matt Kalil, WR Jarius Wright, WR Greg Childs, WR Jerome Simpson, TE John Carlson
Key Losses: TE Visanthe Shiancoe
Between the injury suffered by Adrian Peterson and the grumblings of Percy Harvin, I am left with the feeling that the Vikings offense is looking more dire than promising in 2012.
Minnesota added a trio of receivers in Simpson, Wright and Childs, which will help Christian Ponder if Peterson isn't still 100 percent early in the season. But they are all new to the Vikings, and Ponder will have to work to get on the same page with all of them, a task made tougher by Simpson's suspension.
If Peterson gets hurt again, this offense will be in trouble. If it turns out that he is all the way back, I could see bumping them up to the 17-20 range. But that is a big if right now. Peterson is simply that important to the Vikings offense.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
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2011 Rank: 32
2010 Rank: 15
Projected 2012 Rank: 30
Key Additions: QB Chad Henne, WR Justin Blackmon, WR Lee Evans
Jacksonville had the worst offense in the NFL in 2011, and while it is reasonable to assume the Jaguars will be somewhat better in 2012, it is difficult to think of them as having anything other than another bottom-10 offense.
Maurice Jones-Drew continues to stay away from the team in hopes that the Jaguars will give him a new contract. The only leverage he has is to stay at home, forcing the Jaguars' hand. The longer he is away, the worse this offense will fare. He is the one weapon that will keep defenses honest. Defenses will have a field day teeing off on whoever plays QB as long as Jones-Drew isn't in the game.
This will be a key year in the development of Blaine Gabbert. If he doesn't show significant improvement after a full year of coaching, it is possible that the Jaguars will have to invest in a new franchise quarterback in 2013.
29. St. Louis Rams
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2011 Rank: 31
2010 Rank: 26
Projected 2012 Rank: 29
Key Additions: RB Isaiah Pead, WR Brian Quick, WR Chris Givens, C Scott Wells
Key Losses: WR Brandon Lloyd
With Lloyd gone to New England, the top returning WR for St. Louis is Brandon Gibson, and he had only 431 yards in receptions. This offense still has a long way to go to be competitive.
The Rams are fortunate to have running back Steven Jackson, but this is an offense that needs to develop other star talent. Considering that they allowed 55 sacks in 2011, it looks like the Rams are destined to struggle again on offense in 2012.
28. Arizona Cardinals
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2011 Rank: 19
2010 Rank: 31
Projected 2012 Rank: 28
Key Additions: WR Michael Floyd, T Bobby Massie
The Cardinals offense made a jump from No. 31 in 2010 to No. 19 last year. Despite the relatively good showing, the Cardinals still wanted to see if they could land Peyton Manning. Can't blame them for trying to get better.
In 2012, I think the Cardinals offense will regress and once again land in the bottom five. I just am not sold on Kevin Kolb as a starting quarterback. Arizona decided to give him the large signing bonus, but that decision doesn't automatically make him a better quarterback. He still has to perform far better than he did last season.
Until Kolb is able to prove himself and string together positive starts from one week to the next, I will have my reservations about him. For the sake of Cardinals fans, let's hope he turns things around, because I believe he will emerge as the starting QB out of training camp.
27. Cleveland Browns
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2011 Rank: 29
2010 Rank: 29
Projected 2012 Rank: 27
Key Additions: RB Trent Richardson, QB Brandon Weeden, WR Travis Benjamin
Key Losses: RB Peyton Hillis, G Eric Steinbach
The Browns have locked down the No. 29 ranking for overall team offense for the last two seasons. Although they appear poised to improve, their receiver corps doesn't strike enough fear in opponents to warrant anything more than a slight bump for 2012 to No. 27.
Cleveland will be relying heavily on rookies, from Trent Richardson to Brandon Weeden. After dropping 14 passes as a rookie, WR Greg Little should show improvement this year. The Browns offense still has to add more weapons before they are ready to be a contender in the AFC North.
26. Tennessee Titans
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2011 Rank: 17
2010 Rank: 27
Projected 2012 Rank: 26
Key Additions: WR Kendall Wright, G Steve Hutchinson
The starting quarterback battle in Tennessee between Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker will be fought in training camp. This decision could go either way and will ultimately determine where the Titans are ranked. If it is Locker, that will make the Titans more athletic, but his inexperience will lead to more mistakes, and that accounts for where I ranked the offense in 2012.
If the starter is Hasselbeck, the Titans would be ranked higher, in the low to mid-20s.
The receiving corps has some issues, starting with Kenny Britt's knees and ending with rookie WR Kendall Wright's development. Many wide receivers don't emerge until their third season, so we will see if Wright is able to be a consistent player this season.
Chris Johnson appears to be determined to have a rebound season in 2012, so that gives the Titans reason to believe they will remain competitive this year.
25. Indianapolis Colts
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2011 Rank: 30
2010 Rank: 4
Projected 2012 Rank: 25
Key Additions: QB Andrew Luck, TE Coby Fleener, TE Dwayne Allen, WR T.Y. Hilton
Key Losses: QB Peyton Manning, WR Pierre Garcon, RB Joseph Addai, TE Dallas Clark, C Jeff Saturday, TE Jacob Tamme, QB Curtis Painter
The Colts have a new franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck and few players on the roster from an offense that finished the 2010 season No. 4 in the NFL, making 2012 a rebuilding year.
The Colts offense will be relying heavily on contributions from its draft class. While Luck will probably be better than your ordinary rookie starting QB, there is no replacement for experience in the NFL.
Rookie mistakes will be a common theme over the first half of the season and will keep the Colts' offensive production in the bottom 10 of the league.
24. Kansas City Chiefs
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2011 Rank: 27
2010 Rank: 12
Projected 2012 Rank: 24
Key Additions: RB Peyton Hillis, WR Devon Wylie, QB Brady Quinn, TE Kevin Boss
Key Losses: QB Kyle Orton
While it is encouraging for Chiefs fans to see their injured stars from 2011 return, nobody knows yet how well they will be able to perform. Out of all the major surgeries that were performed, has anybody lost a step from their previous form? If that is the case for Jamaal Charles, that would be a major red flag for the Chiefs offense.
Another concern is the arm strength of quarterback Matt Cassel. According to Ron Jaworski of ESPN, Cassel has limited arm strength, which prevents him from being efficient on throws outside of the numbers. In his NFL Nation report on ESPN, Jaworski ranked Cassel No. 22 among starting QBs in the league.
If Charles is able to come all the way back from his ACL surgery, that will boost the Chiefs offense and make them deserving of a higher rank. If he can't come all the way back, the Chiefs will be relying more on holdout WR Dwayne Bowe.
23. New York Jets
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2011 Rank: 25
2010 Rank: 11
Projected 2012 Rank: 23
Key Additions: QB Tim Tebow, WR Stephen Hill, WR Chaz Schilens
The New York Jets swapped out offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for ex-Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano. The Jets look to be more of a ground-and-pound running team in 2012, which might explain why they haven't done that much to upgrade their wide receiving corps.
While Tim Tebow might add a new wrinkle to the offense with the Wildcat plays they want him to run, he certainly will be a distraction to starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Jets crowd will be quick to chant for Tebow if Sanchez encounters many rough patches.
If ground and pound is your preferred style of offense, you will love watching the Jets. But on the surface, the Jets offense looks like it could be one of the league's most boring.
22. Seattle Seahawks
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2011 Rank: 28
2010 Rank: 28
Projected 2012 Rank: 22
Key Additions: QB Matt Flynn, QB Russell Wilson, RB Robert Turbin, TE Kellen Winslow Jr.
Key Losses: QB Charlie Whitehurst
Just as the Browns had a lock on the No. 29 offensive ranking during the past two years, the Seahawks have been locked in at No. 28 over the same time period.
That ranking should go up this year as a result of improved play at the quarterback position. If free-agent signing Matt Flynn performs anywhere close to what he did in his start(s) at Green Bay, he will be a big improvement over Tarvaris Jackson.
It has been years since the Seahawks had a true go-to receiver who could be counted on for a 1,000-yard season. 2011 was no exception, so we will see if somebody steps up in 2012.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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2011 Rank: 21
2010 Rank: 19
Projected 2012 Rank: 21
Key Additions: RB Doug Martin, WR Vincent Jackson, G Carl Nicks, TE Dallas Clark
Key Losses: TE Kellen Winslow Jr., QB Josh Johnson
After losing their final 10 games in 2011, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed a major overhaul. New head coach Greg Schiano promises to put a new emphasis on discipline and work ethic.
The Bucs need more weapons on offense, but adding running back Doug Martin is a good start. Dallas Clark didn't show much in 2011, so he might have to be a veteran leader in the locker room rather than a leader on the field.
The Bucs have to learn how to win again. As a result, I am not expecting great things out of the offense.
20. Chicago Bears
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2011 Rank: 24
2010 Rank: 30
Projected 2012 Rank: 20
Key Additions: WR Brandon Marshall, WR Alshon Jeffery, RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Campbell, WR/KR Eric Weems
Key Losses: RB Marion Barber, WR Roy Williams, QB Caleb Hanie
The Bears may not be able to count much on WR/KR Johnny Knox in 2012 due to his back surgery. That means they will have to rely on the talent they acquired to jump-start the offense, which has been in the bottom 10 for the past five years.
One area that should improve is the red-zone offense. In 2011, the Bears averaged only 2.4 red-zone trips per game, which was the second-fewest in the NFC. I will be surprised if that number doesn't go up in 2012.
We have the Bears moving up to No. 20, which is a conservative estimate, based on the team's porous offensive line. After all, you can bring in all the wide receivers you want, but if you can't give your quarterback enough time to throw the ball, the receivers are of little consequence.
When we see clear improvement on the offensive line, we will adjust the Bears' ranking accordingly. It would also help if they could sign running back Matt Forte to a new deal.
19. San Francisco 49ers
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2011 Rank: 26
2010 Rank: 24
Projected 2012 Rank: 19
Key Losses: WR Josh Morgan, WR Braylon Edwards
The 49ers were close to representing the NFC in the Super Bowl in 2011. But they knew to go further they needed to tweak their offense, and they did by bringing in a number of key players who should improve the talent base.
With Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and A.J. Jenkins at wide receiver, the 49ers shouldn't have to worry about completing just one pass to a wide receiver, as they did in the NFC championship game. The 49ers will improve on offense in 2012, but how much will probably come down to how much Alex Smith improves.
Also of interest will be how Frank Gore produces. He has been the primary workhorse in San Francisco, but it would not be a surprise to see him lose some carries to Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs in an attempt to keep him fresher.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
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2011 Rank: 20
2010 Rank: 20
Projected 2012 Rank: 18
Key Additions: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, WR Mohamed Sanu, TE Orson Charles
Key Losses: RB Cedric Benson, WR Jerome Simpson
The Bengals replaced Cedric Benson with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency and will rely on a running-back-by-committee approach in 2012, as per this article by Geoff Hobson from Bengals.com.
Cincinnati's offense should be marginally better due to Andy Dalton and A.J. Green receiving their first full year of coaching, compared to the truncated 2011 offseason. The extra coaching should allow both second-year players to have a greater feel for each other and the pro game.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
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2011 Rank: 12
2010 Rank: 14
Projected 2012 Rank: 16
Key Additions: G David DeCastro, T Mike Adams, RB Chris Rainey
Key Losses: WR Hines Ward
Between the current refusal of free-agent wide receiver Mike Wallace to sign his tender offer, the switch to offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Hines Ward's retirement and the slow recovery of Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers offense faces a number of issues in 2012.
They could be in line for a correction or step backward. Questions abound. How well does Ben Roethlisberger play for Haley? Do tensions start to mount if the two parties find that they are at odds?
What will Wallace's mindset be? If he doesn't sign his long-term deal, he might be inclined to play for himself and sign his next contract with a different team in 2013.
Pittsburgh usually doesn't do much in free agency. But with the serious injury to Mendenhall, the holdout so far by Wallace and the potential conflicts between Roethlisberger and Haley, it isn't that difficult to envision the Steelers offense slipping down four or five spots in the overall rankings in 2012.
16. Baltimore Ravens
2011 Rank: 15
2010 Rank: 22
Projected 2012 Rank: 15
Key Additions: RB Bernard Pierce, QB Curtis Painter, WR Jacoby Jones, WR Tommy Streeter
Key Losses: RB Ricky Williams, G Ben Grubbs, WR Lee Evans
The Ravens signed Jacoby Jones to play special teams and serve as an extra wide receiver and drafted Pierce and Streeter to supplement their offensive weapons.
Joe Flacco was hoping to have his contract signed this offseason. But the Ravens weren't able to present something that met with Flacco's approval, so they will continue talks.
Ray Rice continues to stay away from the team, refusing to sign his franchise tender offer. He has three weeks before the signing deadline, so something should break on his situation sooner or later. If Rice doesn't sign, the Ravens offense will be marked down considerably.
15. Washington Redskins
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2011 Rank: 16
2010 Rank: 18
Projected 2012 Rank: 15
Key Additions: QB Robert Griffin III, QB Kirk Cousins, WR Pierre Garcon, WR Josh Morgan
Key Losses: QB John Beck, WR Jabar Gaffney, WR Donte' Stallworth
The Redskins offense should take a jump, but how high is a mystery. They had the No. 25 rushing offense in 2011, and while RG3 is a mobile quarterback, the Redskins ground attack isn't the kind that will worry that many defensive coordinators.
As such, defenses will probably be looking to put pressure on Griffin every week, forcing him to make plays on the run. If he can prove that he can do that at the professional level, then perhaps defenses will adjust and just put on enough heat to see what he can do as a pocket passer.
This could be one of the more entertaining offenses to watch. If they had a stronger run game to complement the passing attack, I would like it even more.
14. Detroit Lions
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2011 Rank: 5
2010 Rank: 17
Projected 2012 Rank: 14
Key Additions: T Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles
The Lions finally got a full season from quarterback Matthew Stafford, and the results were impressive. Now defenses will have a full offseason to make the proper adjustments to Stafford and the Lions' passing attack. Without the benefit of a strong ground game to support the passing attack, I think that NFL defenses will find a way to slow down the Lions passing game in 2012.
Detroit has to find a way to improve its running game, as it didn't do much to improve it in 2012. If the running game remains mediocre this year and Stafford puts up another monster year, you would have enough of a track record to say that the Lions' passing attack is for real.
If the numbers go back down this year, as this projection suggests, it is because teams have learned not to be afraid of the run and are finding ways to slow down the Lions' passing game.
13. Denver Broncos
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2011 Rank: 23
2010 Rank: 13
Projected 2012 Rank: 13
Key Additions: QB Peyton Manning, RB Ronnie Hillman, QB Brock Osweiler, QB Caleb Hanie, TE Joel Dreessen, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Andre Caldwell, WR Brandon Stokley
Key Losses: QB Tim Tebow, QB Brady Quinn, WR Eddie Royal
For 2012, as Peyton Manning goes, so go the Denver Broncos. If Manning continues to progress from his offseason neck surgeries and increases his arm strength to rival how he threw the ball three to four years ago, the Broncos could easily leap up 10 spots in the offensive rankings.
If, however, Manning takes some big shots in September and the neck and arm are negatively impacted, the Broncos could be in for a long season.
We won't know what to expect from Manning until he starts taking some big hits in September when the games count. If he shows that he can survive those and still stand tall in the pocket, the Broncos offense has a real chance to flourish. It helps having a strong running game to keep defenses honest.
12. Buffalo Bills
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2011 Rank: 14
2010 Rank: 25
Projected 2012 Rank: 12
Key Additions: WR T.J. Graham, T Cordy Glenn, QB Vince Young
Key Losses: T Demetress Bell, WR Roscoe Parrish
The Buffalo Bills might have one of the most improved defenses in the NFL. As a result, the Bills offense should get the ball in better field position and have more scoring opportunities than in the past. The improved defense will set the table for the Bills offense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chan Gailey have worked together to create a viable spread offense that allows Fitzpatrick to attack defenses with either short passes on timing patterns or runs by talented backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The Bills offense jumped from No. 25 to No. 14 last year and gave up the fewest sacks in the league.
In 2012, the Bills offense will probably be even better, as they welcome a new speed threat on the outside in Marcus Easley or the rookie Graham. The Bills have depth at virtually every spot on offense and will try to push their way into becoming a top-10 offense.
11. New York Giants
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2011 Rank: 8
2010 Rank: 5
Projected 2012 Rank: 11
Key Additions: WR Rueben Randle, RB David Wilson, TE Martellus Bennett
Key Losses: RB Brandon Jacobs, WR Mario Manningham, TE Jake Ballard
After winning Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants saw some key performers leave in free agency. The migration included Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham and Jake Ballard.
In addition, Hakeem Nicks has a broken foot, and while he should be fine for the regular season, he will be sitting out portions of the offseason.
Eli Manning's performance in 2011 has firmly established him as an elite QB. With the key veteran players that left the team, Manning will be tested to see if he can find a way to work in the rookies without missing a beat.
10. Atlanta Falcons
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2011 Rank: 10
2010 Rank: 16
Projected 2012 Rank: 10
Key Additions: C Peter Konz, T Lamar Holmes
Key Losses: WR/KR Eric Weems
According to this article by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons are looking to evolve as an offense in 2012. They are going to look for more vertical passes to receivers who are able to gain more yards after the catch, as well as use more of the screen game.
For 2012, expect to see less from Michael Turner, as the Falcons will utilize most of their backs in a committee approach. Julio Jones should fare better in 2012, and Matt Ryan looks to show that his arm is stronger than what he has previously demonstrated.
If all of those pieces fall into place, the Falcons could be a threat again in the NFC.
9. Carolina Panthers
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2011 Rank: 7
2010 Rank: 32
Projected 2012 Rank: 9
Key Additions: WR Joe Adams, RB Mike Tolbert, G Amini Silatolu
Key Losses: TE Jeremy Shockey
The Carolina Panthers have the ability to repeat as a top-10 offense in 2012. The Panthers made such a huge jump in 2011 that I suspect they will fall back to the rest of the pack a little this year.
While there is room for Cam Newton to grow with a full year of coaching, there is also room for NFL defenses to come up with more sophisticated plans to contain him or attempt to slow him down.
The Panthers appear to once again have a strong stable of running backs. That will help to keep pressure off Newton. The onus will be on the receivers to have another strong year. If Newton can find a way to escape from trouble and find Steve Smith and company down the field, the Panthers will once again be in the top 10.
8. Oakland Raiders
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2011 Rank: 9
2010 Rank: 10
Projected 2012 Rank: 8
Key Additions: G Tony Bergstrom
Key Losses: RB Michael Bush, TE Kevin Boss, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR Chaz Schilens
The Oakland Raiders offense will have the benefit of a full season to get on the same page as Carson Palmer. They must hope that will be enough to keep the Raiders in the top 10 of NFL offenses this year.
With a strong stable of wide receivers, Palmer should put up impressive yardage totals. As long as running back Darren McFadden can stay healthy, the Raiders offense should be balanced and potent. It would help if the Raiders can sign a veteran like Cedric Benson to back up McFadden.
The Raiders have been working through a tough salary-cap scenario, so they have lost far more players than they have acquired. They must hope that Palmer will prove to be worthy of everything they gave up to acquire him.
7. Dallas Cowboys
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2011 Rank: 11
2010 Rank: 7
Projected 2012 Rank: 7
Key Additions: QB Kyle Orton
Key Losses: WR Laurent Robinson, TE Martellus Bennett, RB Sammy Morris
The Dallas Cowboys offense really took off in 2011 when DeMarco Murray was inserted as the starting running back. Murray looks to be completely healthy. As a result, it is reasonable to think that the Cowboys will have a strong offense via the run and pass this year.
Miles Austin will have to step up and needs to stay healthy. With Murray and several talented receivers, Tony Romo has plenty of weapons that figure to spread thin defenses who will be trying to stop everything the Cowboys can throw at them.
Add in the continued development of Dez Bryant, and there's no telling how good the Cowboys offense could become.
6. New Orleans Saints
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2011 Rank: 1
2010 Rank: 6
Projected 2012 Rank: 6
Key Additions: WR Nick Toon, G Ben Grubbs
Key Losses: G Carl Nicks, WR Robert Meachem
It is admittedly hard to get a proper handle on how the Saints offense will perform due to so many unusual circumstances that will impact the team. Because of Bountygate, everyone is aware that offensive leader and head coach Sean Payton is suspended for the 2012 season. Drew Brees missed OTAs and minicamp sessions due to his prolonged contract negotiations.
While the rest of the NFL is making progress on their 2012 offense, the Saints are being led by Chase Daniel, who will probably not see many snaps in the regular season. The Saints lost Robert Meachem and will miss his production. Everybody expects Brees to sign at least his franchise tender, so all is not lost.
How effective will the Saints be without Payton for the entire year? That's hard to answer. I suspect that the offense will lose some degree of effectiveness. That is why I have them sliding to No. 6, which is where they finished in 2010.
5. Houston Texans
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2011 Rank: 13
2010 Rank: 3
Projected 2012 Rank: 5
Key Additions: WR DeVier Posey, QB John Beck, G Brandon Brooks, WR Keshawn Martin
Key Losses: T Eric Winston, TE Joel Dreessen, WR/KR Jacoby Jones, FB Lawrence Vickers, G Mike Brisiel
Our ranking of the Houston Texans offense at No. 5 falls between where they have been ranked the past two years. That ranking is dependent on their key players—Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Arian Foster—remaining healthy and available for the majority of the season. If they are not, the ranking would surely start coming down.
The Texans offense is also subjected to a downgrade if the replacements on the offensive line for Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel don't fare as well as their predecessors. But with a healthy Schaub, Foster and Johnson all operating together, the Texans have the ability to move the ball against most defenses.
If the new starters on the offensive line struggle, though, all bets are off.
4. San Diego Chargers
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2011 Rank: 6
2010 Rank: 1
Projected 2012 Rank: 4
Key Additions: WR Robert Meachem, WR Roscoe Parrish, RB Le'Ron McClain, RB Ronnie Brown, QB Charlie Whitehurst, WR Eddie Royal
Key Losses: WR Vincent Jackson, RB Mike Tolbert, QB Billy Volek
2012 looks like it will be a make-or-break year for head coach Norv Turner, so the Chargers have done whatever they could to load up the offense and give Turner the ammunition he needs to get them over the top in the AFC West.
The Chargers will miss the veteran presence of Vincent Jackson, but with the trio of Meachem, Parrish and Royal on board, the loss is minimal. Expect to see a big year from Ryan Mathews, Meachem and Rivers. This could become a top-five NFL offense again in 2012.
3. Green Bay Packers
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2011 Rank: 3
2010 Rank: 9
Projected 2012 Rank: 3
Key Additions: C Jeff Saturday
Key Losses: RB Ryan Grant, QB Matt Flynn, C Scott Wells
The Green Bay Packers thought they had enough returning talent that they were able to focus the vast majority of their draft on the defensive side of the ball. The only free-agent signing of note on offense was signing Jeff Saturday, and that was only because Scott Wells opted for a bigger contract in St. Louis.
The Packers are basically returning all of their starters minus Wells. That means that Aaron Rodgers will continue to have strong chemistry with all of his weapons and should be able to carve up NFL defenses with relative ease.
There is only one scenario in which the wheels come off. That would be if Rodgers goes down with a season-ending injury. In that case, the Packers offense would be in serious jeopardy.
2. New England Patriots
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2011 Rank: 2
2010 Rank: 8
Projected 2012 Rank: 2
Key Additions: TE Jake Ballard, WR Brandon Lloyd, RB Joseph Addai, WR Jabar Gaffney, WR Donte' Stallworth, G Robert Gallery
Key Losses: WR Chad Ochocinco, T Matt Light
Brian Waters may opt to retire, which would be a blow to the team. It was a positive move for New England to release Ochocinco, who appeared to be lost in its offense.
The Patriots came oh so close to yet another Super Bowl crown, so the thought is that the team is still close to winning it all one more time. Aiming not to miss out on the opportunity, the Patriots were active in the offseason, signing a number of veteran players who can help on offense.
Lloyd, Addai, Gaffney and Stallworth should keep Tom Brady plenty busy as he tries to work out any chemistry issues before the start of the regular season. The way the Patriots were starting to experiment with tight end Aaron Hernandez as the H-back could lead to an interesting 2012 season for him.
Tight ends coming off injury include Rob Gronkowski and Jake Ballard, who were basically the starting Super Bowl tight ends. The Patriots offense is loaded again in 2012. The only real question will be which running back—Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen—will be able to replace the production of the departed BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
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2011 Rank: 4
2010 Rank: 2
Projected 2012 Rank: 1
Key Additions: QB Nick Foles, QB Trent Edwards, T Demetress Bell
Key Losses: QB Vince Young, T Jason Peters (injured)
During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles were the only NFL team to rank in the top 10 in total, passing and rushing offense. That kind of consistent attack, combined with Michael Vick's mission to take better care of the ball, is sufficient to lead me to believe that they stand a great chance to finish 2012 with the No. 1 offense in the NFL.
The Eagles are attempting to rally behind head coach Andy Reid. With the offensive talent they have, the Eagles are poised to put up strong numbers this year.
Vick looks to take his game to another level. If he makes better decisions with the ball, there is nowhere for this Eagles offense to go but up.