8 NFL Teams Facing the Toughest Offseason Decisions
The NFL offseason is a time to rest and regroup for the next season, but it is also a time to address key decisions within an organization that will shape the franchise's direction for years to come.
And with the playoff picture beginning to take shape, it's not too early to ponder those decisions, as some teams will start their offseason earlier than others.
Much of the talk in the offseason will be about coaching situations, personnel decisions and acts that have worn thin in certain NFL cities. Many teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers, appear heading for new coaches in 2013, while other teams such as the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals are in desperate need of personnel changes at key positions.
Here are eight NFL teams facing some huge decisions this upcoming offseason:
Philadelphia Eagles: Who Will Be Reid's Successor, and What Will They Do at QB?
It seems inevitable that Andy Reid is on his way out as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach after 14 seasons leading the franchise.
Reid has a career 129-90-1 record with the Eagles and has guided them to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl, but they haven't won a title.
This year, the Eagles started 3-1 but have lost eight straight games to put them in the cellar of the NFC East. Reid has failed to live up to Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie's ultimatum coming into the season, meaning Reid will be out of a job soon.
The Eagles will have to pick a successor to Reid in the offseason. They could pluck a coach from the college ranks, such as Stanford's David Shaw or Oregon's Chip Kelly. If they opt for someone with more pro experience, Jon Gruden would be a great fit.
Either way, the Eagles must address not only their coaching situation, but their quarterback situation. Is it time to let Michael Vick go and give the reins to Nick Foles? I don't believe either is the answer. Vick is 32 years old and more turnover- and injury-prone than ever, while Foles has yet to prove he deserves to the starter for the long term.
They could trade for or draft a quarterback, but there have been less-than-rave reviews about this upcoming draft class for QBs.
Either way, the Eagles have their hands full in the offseason with many voids to fill.
San Diego Chargers: Is It Time To Pull the Plug on Both Turner and Rivers?
In six seasons with San Diego, Turner has gone 53-39 but just 3-3 in the playoffs, with the Chargers never advancing to a Super Bowl. 2012 will be a third straight season the Chargers fail to reach the playoffs.
His teams always earn the reputation of underachievers. It appears he's on his way out, with The San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee reporting that sources claim Turner and GM A.J. Smith will be fired at season's end.
Rivers is signed through 2015, which seems to suggest he will be around for three more years. Not so fast. If you look at Rivers' performance these last two years, you should not feel as confident that Rivers deserves to be the starting quarterback.
There are a lot of problems with this San Diego team, but they start with Rivers. Rivers has been a turnover machine late in games this season, throwing 11 interceptions in the fourth quarter alone this year. In the last 28 games, Rivers has a painful 35 interceptions.
The front office has to start wondering if Rivers is hindering this team's success. In 2009, they agreed to pay him $92 million over six years to be the franchise quarterback, but he has struggled mightily over the past two seasons. Rivers is still only 30 years old, but he may have already peaked in his '08, '09 and '10 seasons.
Rivers needs a colossal turnaround next year to prove to the organization that he has what it takes to win.
Arizona Cardinals: Will They Finally Seek out a Franchise QB?
That's how bad it's gotten in Arizona. The Cardinals have dropped eight straight games after starting the year 4-0, and much of this has been because of their erratic quarterback play.
Kevin Kolb had no chance because of a porous offensive line, and he has not played since Week 5 due to injuries that seem to suggest he was in a car wreck rather than playing in a football game.
John Skelton proved once again he is a career backup with his play filling in for Kolb. He was so mediocre the Cardinals decided to turn to sixth-rounder Ryan Lindley, which was an even further travesty to the quarterbacking position.
In Lindley's most recent start against the Jets, he missed open targets left and right, finishing 10-of-31 for 72 yards and an interception in a 7-6 loss.
The front office needs to address the QB issue this offseason with either a well-thought-out draft pick or a trade for someone who can get the ball to Fitzgerald. They will continue to stink until that happens.
Detroit Lions: Should They Get Rid of Titus Young for Good?
Just when the second-year wideout had an opportunity to break out and be a star in a pass-happy offense, he found a way to mess it up.
Once Nate Burleson went down with a season-ending injury, it appeared to be Young's time to shine, and he got off to a great start, going for 181 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears and Seahawks in late October. However, Young was suspended just a few weeks later before the team's Thanksgiving game against the Texans for behavior reasons.
He was also lining up in the wrong spot on purpose "multiple times," per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions decided to leave him inactive for Week 13 and finally placed him on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury.
Receiver Ryan Broyles was also placed on IR, and the Lions could have really used Young in the lineup because of the injuries at the position. Instead, the Lions used the IR tag as an excuse to eliminate Young entirely from the picture for the rest of the year.
Young's character problems, which also include punching teammate Louis Delmas in May, have him with one foot out the door in Detroit. He has great speed and difference-making talent, but is it worth the me-first attitude he brings to the table?
The Lions must decide whether it's worth it to keep their second-round pick from 2011 around any longer.
Chicago Bears: Can GM Phil Emery Draft or Trade To Form a Good Offensive Line?
Bears fans expect the worst-case scenario to play out every time quarterback Jay Cutler takes a snap and drops back to pass.
New GM Phil Emery did a magnificent job bringing Brandon Marshall to the Windy City to reunite with Jay Cutler. He also did well in drafting Alshon Jeffery, another big receiver for Cutler to play with.
This team is a Super Bowl contender if not for one flaw, albeit a big one: Its offensive line is dreadful. Pitiful. Horrible. There's no way to soften the blow. This line needs help.
A season-ending injury to Lance Louis further cripples a line that struggles to do anything right. Whenever it protects Jay Cutler, like it did against Seattle in Week 12, it fails to open up any running holes for Matt Forte. Whenever the Bears get anything going in the run game, they can't throw because Cutler is running for his life in an effort to stay alive.
Emery addressed the needs for wide receivers last offseason but failed to do anything to improve the O-line. This season, he must do that or face the consequences of a team that can't succeed without the necessary changes.
In April's upcoming draft, Emery has to find a way to get his franchise left tackle and more help via the draft or trade.
Dallas Cowboys: What Can They Change to Finally Get Them over the Hump?
It seems like every year we talk about the talent of the Dallas Cowboys. It also seems like every year we talk about how that talent never really translates into a whole lot.
Such is the plight of the Dallas Cowboys, a team experts always deem as talented, but one that can implode quicker than any other team in the league. Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray are the offensive stars on this team, but it doesn't seem to matter.
The Cowboys have been crippled by injuries on defense this year, but they boast a solid defense with DeMarcus Ware as the anchor.
America's team has not made the playoffs since 2009. At 6-6 this season, it'll take a very strong final month to sneak into the playoffs.
It never seems to make sense why this team can't get over the edge, other than inconsistency. However, there isn't a good explanation to why Romo throws three touchdowns in one week and follows it up with a five-interception game. One week, Dez Bryant looks like a better version of Michael Irvin, and the next week he's picking up dumb penalties and dropping balls.
Is it a laissez-faire approach to practice? Is it a lack of mental toughness? Do they not take each game seriously? The answer to the Cowboys' woes remains unanswered.
The Cowboys have been crippled by injuries on defense this year, but they boast a solid defense when fully healthy.
One has to wonder what has to happen for this team to finally live up to the hype. Maybe the Cowboys just aren't as good as America thinks.
New Orleans Saints: Will Sean Payton Be Back with the Team in 2013?
A month ago, the NFL voided the multiyear contract extension head coach Sean Payton signed in Sept. 2011, making Payton a free agent at the end of this season.
While it's likely he'll want to stay in New Orleans and return to lead Drew Brees and the Saints to a bounce-back 2013 campaign after a year that has had nothing but struggles, there will certainly be interest from other teams around the league.
There's speculation Payton could be courted by the Dallas Cowboys, where he was an assistant coach, but owner Jerry Jones has insisted he hasn't given up on current coach Jason Garrett.
The Saints clearly need their head coach back in 2013, as the 2012 season has really shown just how valuable he is.
While the Saints are still putting up strong offensive numbers in 2012—they are tied for fifth in points per game with 26.8 and sixth in yards per game with 386.4— they are 5-7 and almost certain to miss the playoffs. The defense has been awful and is on pace to give up the most yards in NFL history.
Granted, Payton is an offensive mind, but his presence at practices, in the locker room and on the sidelines has been deeply missed by an organization he and Drew Brees helped revive.
I believe the Saints have to do everything in their power to retain Payton. He shouldn't get a free pass for his neglect of the Bountygate scandal, but he is a great football coach who belongs in the city of New Orleans.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Is It Time To Think About Moving to Another City?
There has been discussion for years about the Jacksonville Jaguars relocating.
Much of those talks have revolved around the Jaguars moving to Los Angeles. According to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, talks have even focused on London as a possible destination.
Either way, it seems inevitable this team will be on the move in the next few years. Moving to a big market could be the best thing to happen to this team.
In 2012, the Jags are 2-10 and have been without their best player, Maurice Jones-Drew, for most of the season. Jacksonville doesn't have a winning season since 2007, and the fanbase seems to be diminishing more and more with constant struggles.
A lot goes into an NFL team moving cities, but don't put it past new owner Shahid Khan to make it happen.
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