Jacksonville Jaguars and 7 NFL Teams That Must Have Hot Starts in 2012

Michael Guadalupe@The_GuadaFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2012

Jacksonville Jaguars and 7 NFL Teams That Must Have Hot Starts in 2012

0 of 8

    There are several teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, who need to have a hot start to the 2012 season.

    While the Jaguars need to come out swinging because of a questionable quarterback and other issues, other teams need to have a hot start for different reasons.

    Some were dominant last year and need to prove that the trend can continue.

    Others had a messy offseason and need to show that they were able to overcome it.

    You could always make the argument that every team in the NFL needs to have a hot start to the 2012 season.  What team wouldn't want to start the season with wins?

    It goes far behind just wins, though.  It's about these teams coming out for the start of the season and proving that they were able to learn from last year, overcome mistakes and overcome problems and doubts that happened in the offseason.

    Here are eight teams that when the 2012 season finally starts, need to come out swinging.

Jacksonville Jaguars

1 of 8

    The Jaguars are a team that is in trouble.  Blaine Gabbert didn’t have the best year as quarterback, and besides for Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars are relatively low on talent.

    Add their draft pick in Justin Blackmon and his DUI troubles and you have to wonder what Jacksonville will be able to do next season.

    The Jaguars are also having problems with previously mentioned star running back Maurice Jones-Drew.  They are in the middle of a holdout with the running back, and with a big amount of salary cap room, the Jaguars still won't pay what Jones-Drew is asking.

    While he has two years left on his contract, at this point Maurice Jones-Drew has greatly out preformed his contract. He led the league in rushing yards last year with 1,606 yards on 343 carries.

    If the Jaguars don't see eye to eye with Jones-Drew, they could be in hot water for the start of the 2012 season.

    With all of these problems to the Jacksonville offense, when the season does finally roll around, they need to start off with a bang.  They need to find a way to overcome their current problems and prove that they can still win when the season begins.

    Jacksonville could be considered a struggling franchise.  With two other popular teams in Florida, the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, how much longer can the Jaguars stay afloat if they don’t start drawing in more fans?

    Obviously if they had landed Tim Tebow, they could have generated more revenue.

    If the Jaguars don’t start off hot this season, who would want to pay to actually see them play?

    Sure they have diehard fans, but if they ever hope to become as popular as the Dolphins or Buccaneers, they need to have a hot start for the 2012 season.

New York Giants

2 of 8

    The New York Giants were the only 9-7 team to enter the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

    Now going into the 2012 season with arguably the hardest schedule, the Giants need to prove their Super Bowl run was no fluke.

    This was a team, after all, that lost twice to the Red Skins in the regular season.

    The Giants have also lost some key pieces to their offense during the offseason.  While you could argue that Brandon Jacobs was getting older and didn't have too much left in the tank, losing Mario Manningham might end up affecting the Giants offense drastically. 

    Both players would find a new team in the San Fransisco 49ers.

    Hakeem Nicks has also been sidelined with a broken foot and won't be back in action until sometime during the preseason. Missing training camp and maybe even some off the preseason could affect Nick's performance when the 2012 season starts.

    The Giants have been lucky in some aspects, getting back many of the injured players that sat out last season.  They were also lucky that Victor Crux decided not to hold out while trying to re-negotiate his contract.

    They also managed to come to terms with Osi Umenyiora and his contract.

    With all of that, though, the Giants still have a lot to prove.  Any team that wins the Super Bowl has a lot to prove when the next season starts up.

    That's exactly why the Giants must have a hot start for the 2012 season.  After struggling so much last year and still managing to make it into the playoffs and eventually win the Super Bowl, the Giants now need to prove that even with one of the hardest schedules, they are still a Super Bowl team.

Kansas City Chiefs

3 of 8

    What is there to say about the Kansas City Chiefs?

    They had a rough year last season, and they need to get back on track as we progress into the 2012 season.

    Back in 2009, the Chiefs ended the season with a 4-12 record.  A year later they would improve it to 10-6 and would win their division, sending them into the playoffs.

    In 2011, they would finish 7-9 and have the worst record in their division.

    The Chiefs did suffer some major injuries throughout the season, losing running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and quarterback Matt Cassel.

    Coach Todd Haley would also lose his job after the Chiefs lost 37-10 to the New York Jets.

    After having such a horrible season, the Chiefs need to have a strong start in 2012.

    The Chiefs do have some things working in their favor, though.  We watched as defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was named new head coach, and then saw the Chiefs put an end to the Green Bay Packer's winning streak.  They held down Aaron Rodgers to one of his worst games that season.

    While they may have lost Brandon Carr to the Dallas Cowboys, the Chiefs did manage to pick up Peyton Hillis and Kevin Boss this offseason.  While both dealt with injuries during the 2011 season, in 2010 they were two solid players who will hopefully be able to help the Chiefs offensively.

    Starting the 2012 season hot would help the Chiefs in proving that they are a team to reckon with.  With a relatively new head coach and new offensive tools, it's time for the Chiefs to step up.

    It's also important for them to start the season strong now because of their competition in Denver and San Diego.  While the Chargers had a lackluster year last season, it's never smart to count them out.  With the addition of Peyton in Denver, the Chiefs will need to come out strong if they hope to have a shot at the playoffs.

Denver Broncos

4 of 8

    When the Peyton Manning shuffle finally ended this offseason, the winners ended up being the Denver Broncos.

    But were they really winners?

    Peyton had a neck injury that would sideline him for the 2011 season.  No one really knows how healthy the 36-year-old will be when the 2012 season starts.

    The Broncos decided to take the chance of Manning and acquired him during the offseason.

    Denver, at the time, had already had a starting quarterback in Tim Tebow—a quarterback who managed to unite the team and even helped get Denver a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    The Broncos would send quarterback Tim Tebow packing to the New York Jets as they welcomed in Manning.

    Now with the 2012 season around the corner, the biggest thing for the Denver Broncos is to prove that they made the right choice when they decided to take Manning and send Tebow packing.

    Will the Broncos be able to make it as far as they did last season?  How well will Manning really play?

    With Tebow being such a leader on that team, how will they move forward now?  Will Manning be able to do to the Broncos what he was able to do to the Colts?

    We will have to wait for the 2012 season to start to find out.

    But if the Broncos want to prove that they made the right move, they need to start off the 2012 season hot.

The 49ers

5 of 8

    The San Francisco 49ers had a great season last year.

    They made a huge improvement from the 2010 season in which they finished 6-10. In 2011, they finished 13-3 in the regular season and made it to the NFC Championship game.

    How were the 49ers able to make such a huge turnaround?  Well, we could look at a lot of things, but a big part of it could be thanks to new head coach Jim Harbaugh.  Alex Smith also had a better year in 2011.

    But were the 49ers a one-hit wonder?  Will they be able to meet the 2012 season with the same success they had last year?

    While Harbaugh may have had people sold on the idea that he was 100 percent behind Alex Smith as their quarterback, don't forget that the 49ers were one of the teams after Manning when he went into free agency.

    It was unclear at one point where Alex Smith was going to end up. Do the 49ers still believe Smith is their quarterback?

    The 49ers have also had some off-the-field trouble with second year pass-rusher Aldon Smith.  Smith was arrested for a DUI back at the end of January, and more recently, he was the victim of a stabbing when he tried to break up a fight at his San Jose residence (Yahoo! Sports).

    Now add in some of the choices that the 49ers have made in player signings this offseason.  Not only did they sign aged big back Brandon Jacobs, they also signed aged wide receiver Randy Moss.

    Why sign Brandon Jacobs, who could easily be considered an older version of Frank Gore?  What will they do with Randy Moss now that they have acquired Mario Manningham from the Giants?

    Clearly, the 49ers have made some questionable choices during the offseason.

    The 49ers need to have a hot start to the 2012 season.  They need to prove that they are not a one-hit wonder team, and that the choices they made were in fact the right ones.  They need to show that they still believe in Alex Smith and are able to deal with Aldon Smith and his off-the-field issues.

    The 49ers need to come out hot and show that they have what it takes to be a Super Bowl team.

Chicago Bears

6 of 8

    The Chicago Bears are another team that needs to start the 2012 season hot.

    Last season they had a solid win streak from Week 6 to 11 with five wins.  The last game of that series against the Chargers, however, would cost quarterback Jay Cutler the rest of his season.  He would go out with a broken thumb and the Chicago would go on a five-game losing streak.

    They would lose the playoff spot that they were fighting for.

    This isn't the only time Jay Cutler getting injured would cost the Bears.  In the NFC Championship game of the 2010-11 season, Cutler went out with an injury and the Bears would lose to the Green Bay Packers.

    Now that Cutler is hopefully healthy and ready for a return, it's time to show that he is a good quarterback.  He now has offensive weapon Brandon Marshall, so 2012 is the season that Jay Cutler needs to prove what he can do.

    Cutler isn't the only concern on the Bears, though. 

    The whole contract negotiation with Matt Forte went south relatively quick this offseason.  The Bears did sign running back Michael Bush from the Oakland Raiders in case Forte doesn't play.

    But the real question is: How much will it affect their offense?

    Starting out the 2012 season hot would help the Bears prove that they can still get their offense rolling, even with the bumps that they have had to deal with.  It could also help the Bears land a playoff spot later on toward the end of the season.

    It's especially important because of how scary the NFC North division is right now.  With the dominant Green Bay Packers, and the up-and-coming Detroit Lions, the Bears need to come out of the gate swinging.  They need to establish themselves early if they want to get a hold on the NFC North.

New York Jets

7 of 8

    Since Rex Ryan has been the head coach of the New York Jets, he has been promising a trip to the Super Bowl.  While the Jets did manage to make it to the AFC Championship game two years in a row under Ryan, he has constantly failed to deliver on his promise.

    The Jets also struggled at the end of last season.  Let’s not forget that many of us witnessed the temper tantrum thrown by star wide receiver Santonio Holmes during the last game of the season against the Miami Dolphins.  It would end with Holmes being benched and the Jets losing.

    That incident would also open up the flood gates of criticism that quarterback Mark Sanchez would receive.

    Now, with a new offensive coach, it's time to see if the Jets can get back on track.

    The Jets are still proving to be the media circus we all know them for.  Their move to sign Tim Tebow during the offseason left many people scratching their heads. Why would the Jets want to grab another starting quarterback when they seem set on starting Sanchez?

    While they don’t seem to plan on starting Tebow, no one really knows how the Jets plan to use him.  Maybe they will utilize Tebow in the wildcat, but until the season starts, we just won’t know.

    What will happen now to the Jets offense with the addition of Tim Tebow, and the rift from last season?  And what about the defense? 

    With talk going around about star cornerback Darrelle Revis and another possible holdout, the Jets could be in trouble when the 2012 season starts (USA Today).

    All of these coupled with the promises of Rex and his Super Bowl, and the Jets look like a mess.

    When the 2012 season starts, the Jets need to come out strong.  They need to show everyone that they were able to overcome their problems and be the dominant team Ryan has been promising for years.

The Saints

8 of 8

    What can really be said about the Saints at this point? They are simply a mess.

    This offseason has been brutal for the New Orleans Saints.  While they may have been a dominant team last season, don't be surprised to see them struggle moving forward into 2012.

    When talking about the Saints and their list of problems, we have to start with the Bounty Gate scandal.

    This incident, which most of you know by now, dealt with players being paid to hurt those on opposing teams.

    In the end, the scandal would land head coach Sean Payton a year suspension.  It would also leave defensive leader Jonathan Vilma sidelined for a year as well.  While Vilma is trying to appeal the suspension, it won't be enough.

    Now with everything that has happened with Bounty Gate, add the issue that the Saints are having a standoff with quarterback Drew Brees (Pro Football Weekly).

    It's hard to see how they won't be a mess next year.

    Brees wants more money, and whether you agree or disagree that he should receive more, there is no denying that Brees is a extremely important part of that team.  Not only is he an amazing quarterback, he is also the leader of that football team.

    Not having your offensive coach and defensive leader when the training camps start is hard enough on a team.  Not having your team leader is even worse.

    Will it be easy for the Saints to have a great start when the season rolls around?  Absolutely not.

    But if the Saints plan to overcome any of the things that they have dealt with so far in the offseason, they need to come out swinging when the 2012 season starts.