Denver Broncos and Teams with Most Pressure to Succeed
The pressure to win in the NFL is immense, because teams are becoming significantly less and less patient for players to develop.
Fortunately for the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning need not develop as he just needs to get re-acclimated. Still, the Broncos have much pressure to immediately succeed in 2012. Because of Manning's status as a player, Denver failing with him taking snaps would be extremely disappointing.
And the Broncos aren't alone either. Therefore, let's check out some other teams along with Denver that is feeling the most pressure to succeed right now.
The Philadelphia Eagles failed like no other in 2011, but were given another opportunity as they finished the season on a four-game win streak and 5-1 in the NFC East.
The Eagles also presented a top 10 offense in rushing and passing, and a defense that was No. 10 against the pass. The talent was clearly there in Philly. Now, it's just a matter of playing more consistent from the beginning of the season.
The offense got a boost with Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt in the draft and veteran offensive tackle Demetress Bell. As long as Michael Vick can continue to buy time and allow his playmakers to get it downfield, the Eagles passing attack will be virtually unstoppable.
We also can't discount the presence of LeSean McCoy in the backfield, as well as rookie bruiser Chris Polk from Washington. Defensively, the Eagles made a big selection with Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox to bolster the front seven, so anticipate Trent Cole and Jason Babin having even more production.
Elsewhere linebacker DeMeco Ryans and rookie Brandon Boykin will make an immediate impact to help against the intermediate passing game. With so much current and potential talent across the board in Philadelphia, the Eagles have even more pressure this season than last.
And another frustrating campaign will only create an even bigger stir of criticism during the 2013 offseason. It's not now or never in Philadelphia, but time if of the essence when all things are considered.
San Francisco 49ers
Regardless of what happens with safety Dashon Goldson, the San Francisco 49ers will still field a top five defense in 2012.
The 'Niners have far too much talent on that side of the ball to not be great, and that especially holds true for San Francisco's front seven. Justin Smith remains one of the league's better defensive linemen and Patrick Willis is arguably the NFL's best linebacker.
It's the 49ers' offense that will be feeling the pressure considering Alex Smith is coming off a developing year where he built impressive consistency. Throwing 17 touchdowns to only five picks was excellent for not having a great receiving corps.
Now, Smith is overloaded with talent as Randy Moss and Mario Manningham complete the core with Michael Crabtree. Vernon Davis is the receiving tight end needed to keep defenses off balance and the running game improved as well.
Frank Gore is the No. 1 back, but Brandon Jacobs and rookie LaMichael James will see time to contribute and change the pace. San Francisco has an abundance of talent and potential on offense and have the luxury to be extremely dynamic as well.
In the NFC West where they are ahead by a number of steps, the 49ers have everything to lose and almost nothing to gain. If a Super Bowl doesn't happen in 2012, the Bay Area will only continue to grow exceedingly impatient with Smith under center.
Yes, the Cleveland Browns are under much pressure to succeed.
For one, Cleveland held two first-round picks in the 2012 NFL draft and made a great selection with Alabama's Trent Richardson. Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden went No. 22 overall, and is expected to win the starting role.
Well, that alone right there is enough pressure to put on a rookie quarterback and with the offense needing to build around Richardson, Cleveland has a bright future.
The defense is much better than given credit for and have a sound front seven that includes Frostee Rucker. Playing in the AFC North will certainly be a challenge as it continues to arguably be the NFL's roughest division.
The Browns however are under pressure to win because the city is anxious for a winner and the upgraded defense with the improved offense provides a glimmer of hope. Another poor performance this fall will only suck the confidence out of Cleveland.
To be fair, the Browns also face a tough schedule outside of the division as well. So, there's a little more room for error in Cleveland compared to the other teams mentioned here. To that end, if the offense fails like it did in 2011, it would not be surprising to see Pat Shurmur gone.
Here, it's not so much about the record as it is with total production. Cleveland just needs to see potential in 2012, because that was nowhere to be found throughout the 2011 season.
Peyton Manning is an obvious, yet vehement step up from Tim Tebow at quarterback.
Having a legend under center though also increases the level of expectations from fans and the organization. There is more pressure on Manning than anyone else, because Denver brought him into the Mile High City to win a Super Bowl.
Hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy is the ultimate goal in pro football and the Broncos have made it to just one AFC Championship game since John Elway retired. Manning also has a solid running game to rely on in Willis McGahee and rookie Ronnie Hillman, but the passing game will be all on him.
The Broncos don't have the most threatening of receiving corps, as Demaryius Thomas still has to fully develop and Eric Decker must be more consistently effective instead of just efficient. Jacob Tamme will be a reliable tight end, so look for Manning to target him more often early in the year.
Defensively, the Broncos made a great acquisition in cornerback Tracy Porter and selecting Arizona State's Omar Bolden. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil will get quarterback pressures, but the secondary has to force more turnovers as well.
As for its schedule, Denver faces many tough opponents such as the Falcons, Panthers, Texans, Patriots, Steelers, Bengals and Ravens outside the AFC West.
Regardless, we've seen Manning dice up elite opponents before. And, with a strong defense to fall back on, Denver not winning a Super Bowl before he hangs it up will set the Broncos back quite a bit thereafter.
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