Ten NFL Teams Who Have Something To Prove in 2010
In reality there are 31 other teams in the NFL that could "improve" as only one team can be deemed champions per season.
However there are some teams that will improve who made some significant moves in the 2010 offseason that could give their fans something to cheer about. I will try to be as creative and original as I can be but there are a few teams included in this slideshow that almost everyone could guess.
This slideshow will be a combination of teams 2009 records and 2010 offseason acquisitions to date but I did throw a couple in that some would be surprised to see on this list. I'll do my best to explain why they are there.
Thanks for taking a look, and enjoy!
St. Louis Rams, 1-15
After being the "greatest show on turf" back in the late '90s to progressively becoming one of the NFL's worst teams coming into the new decade, you can't put the blame on anyone other than the Rams front office.
One bad move after another have led to the demise of this franchise. Now the Rams executives and fans must allow second year head coach Steve Spagnuolo some time to rebuild this team and he will—he has the backround to do it.
They have released players like QB Marc Bulger, DT Hollis Thomas, WRs Nate Jones and Tim Carter, T Claude Wroten, and TE Derek Fine.
To replace some of the players the cut the brought in QB A.J. feeley to a two-year deal, DT Fred Robbins to a three-year deal, G Hank Fraley, TE Darcy Johnson, and DB Kevin Dockery.
I do believe the Rams should have been the team to acquire QB Donovan McNabb, not because I'm an Eagles fan and it would've worked out great for the Eagles. but because it would've been a win-win for both sides.
McNabb would have given the Rams the best chance to win, just like he is going to give the Redskins the best chance to win.
I didn't want to see McNabb leave the Eagles, but I understand the nature of the business in the NFL. If the Eagles didn't trade him they would have had to resign him or let him walk in 2011 and they have extremely high hopes and see fantastic potential in their new starting QB Kevin Kolb.
Also Eagles fan would be screaming that they wasted a high draft pick on Kolb if they only intended on him being a backup!
Back to the Rams.
Spagnuolo first entered the NFL in 1983 in the personnel department for the Washington Redskins but got the bulk of his skills when he was the defensive assistant, defensive backs, and linebackers coach to late and legendary Jim Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles.
From there he moved on to become defensive coordinator for two seasons with the New York Giants who won a super bowl in 2008.
Spagnuolo deploys a 4-3 defensive scheme that proved to be deadly in that 2008 season. It didn't matter who that defense faced, they were relentlessly taking over games.
They saying in the NFL is that defenses win championships and if there is truth to that then the Rams will again become a great team if they stick with Spagnuolo but like I said, it is going to take time but the team is headed in the right direction.
The upcoming draft is KEY for this organization!
Team focus in 2010 draft:
There is debate on what position the Rams should use with the number one pick in the upcoming draft whether they should take Nebraska's DT Ndamukong Suh or QB Sam Bradford out of Oklahoma.
The Rams missed their opportunity to acquire a franchise QB when they passed on franchise QB Donovan McNabb so they must now turn to the draft to try and find one.
I understand the debate because Suh is a dominating DT and is ranked No. 1 of all the players entering this year's draft, but there are other extremely good players at that position later in the draft like UCLA's DT Brian Price who is ranked the 33rd best player in this years draft—coincidence that is also the Rams second round pick (33rd overall)?
Quarterback is fundamental to success in the NFL, if the Rams decide to take Suh and not a QB like Bradford or even Notre Dames Jimmy Clausen they will need to trade for one before the start of the 2010 season.
Or else it will be 2009 all over again!
Detroit Lions, 2-14
After setting an NFL record in 2008 for their 0-16 season, the Lions decided it was time to bring in a new name for the head coach job.
The Lions found a guy in Jim Schwartz who served under Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher from 1999-08.
In his first season as the head coach of the Lions, Schwartz went into the 2009 draft knowing he needed a QB, a potential franchise QB, and they took a young and talented Matthew Stafford and a beast of a TE in Brandon Pettigrew.
Schwartz knows though that he must produce a much better season than he had in 2009 and the Lions are signing some key players in the 2010 offseason that should produce more check marks in the win column.
They've brought in defensive tackle Corey Williams via a trade, Schwartz himself went to Tennessee to speak directly to—and acquire—defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and in the most recent news they signed WR Nate Burleson and guard Rob Sims.
The list continues. The Lions have also acquired multiple other players via a trade or free agency like CB's Jonathan Wade and Chris Houston, LB Landon Johnson, and QB Shaun Hill.
And it doesn't appear they are finished yet!
In the latest rumors in the mill, the Lions have their eye on signing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and taking over his monstrous contract. The rumor intensified once it was believed that Haynesworth is also interested in joining the Lions.
The Detroit Lions front office has done their part. From making personal visits to a couple of players to bring them in or outright signed them through free agency, the Lions have been extremely busy trying to make their team a better team in 2010.
Team focus: The Lions must use the 2010 draft to protect QB Matt Stafford. There is a player out on the street right now named Shawn Andrews who at one time was a Pro-Bowl talent.
Would the Lions take a chance on Andrews, who would greatly improve the offensive line and, most importantly, does Shawn still want to play football?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3-13
At the start of the 2009 offseason began, the Bucs went into cleaning mode. They released coach Jon Gruden who was then replaced by Raheem Morris almost immediately after he replaced Monte Kiffin as the team's defensive coordinator.
It appears as if the Bucs are another team who had a losing season in 2009 that will look to the draft to solve their woes from the previous year.
They have released only a few players, Josh Bidwell, Dirk Johnson, and Torrie Cox, and they signed or traded for a few players like WR Reggie Brown and DB Sean Jones, both formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles.
They've also signed LB Jon Alston who spent the last three seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
So I find myself asking why a team whose best league ranking was their rushing yards per game (which ranked 23rd) isn't making bigger splashes in this year's free agency period.
The Bucs are in position to have a really good draft with their first round and two second round picks but the moves they've made so far only keep them where they were in 2009.
WR Reggie Brown's numbers have steadily decreased since his rookie season in 2006 with the Eagles so he's not the answer at WR. The Bucs might have to use an early round pick for a good rookie WR.
Team focus in 2010 draft:
First and foremost the Bucs need a rookie safety that can contribute immediately. DB Eric Berry a.k.a. "Superman" should still be there in the very early part of the first round so the Buccaneers should snatch him.
Safety is a position of need in Tampa Bay so don't pull an Al Davis (took D.H.B. over Crabtree in '09 draft) and reach for someone like Taylor Mays who is very good but isn't "Superman."
Washington Redskins, 4-12
After coming in fourth place in the NFC East twice in as little as two years, the Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder had enough.
His first order of business in the 2010 offseason was to bring in highly-regarded Mike Shanahan on Jan. 6, 2010 as the Redskins executive vice president and head coach. Shanahan is the 28th head coach in the Redskins franchise history.
Shanahan brings with him an extensive resume, proven leadership at the coaching position, two Super Bowl rings, and years—and years—of NFL football know how.
He's a no nonsense type of coach and that is exactly what the Redskins organization needs right now if they want any hope of being contenders in 2010. Discipline is key and Shanahan is going to bring that missing element to the team!
After bringing in coach Shanahan, the Redskins wasted no time cleaning house. If you didn't have tremendous potential, you were gone! So much so that even veteran RB Clinton Portis may end up looking for work elsewhere in the league.
Players like QB Todd Collins, RB's Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright and Marcus Mason, FB Eddie Williams, WR Antwaan Randle El, DT Cornelius Griffin, and CB Fred Smoot all have been released by the Skins.
They have got some fire power in return however. They haven't completely left themselves out to dry.
After the string of cuts, the Redskins came back into free agency with a sense of urgency to make some moves, and they did so by signing a bunch of players like T Artis Hicks, NT Maake Kemoeatu, TE Sean Ryan, P Josh Bidwell (who hasn't played since 2008 when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and DB Phillip Buchanon.
Not bad moves but there are four other moves that far exceed the previously-mentioned acquisitions.
The Redskins also signed two Pro Bowl RBs in Larry Johnson and Willie Parker as well as two quarterbacks!
First, on March 17, 2010, the Redskins signed QB Rex Grossman to a one-year deal and then on April 1 the team made what could possibly be the biggest trade in a decade to acquire six-time Pro Bowl QB Donovan McNabb.
McNabb is a vital piece to Mike Shanahan's 2010 plans as he needs a proven leader on the field and Donovan brings that calmness he has about him to the Redskins.
The Skins have been busy in the 2010 offseason, they've got a lot of good, if not great, talented players on their roster now but I'm still not convinced it will be enough to land them a postseason appearance.
Give it a season or two Skins fans! Your team will be good in a matter of a few years!
Team focus in 2010 draft:
The Redskins are missing draft picks in the second and third rounds and if they go into the draft with only the picks they have now they could be in hot water.
They need to find a team that is so desperate for a defensive tackle they would take on Albert Haynesworth because he-ain-worth the $100 million dollar contract he signed just last year.
Even if they could trade him for nothing more than a second round pick in the 2010 draft, that would save the team dearly in terms of getting a pick they need to fill a spot of need and unloading that ridiculous contract.
Cleveland Browns, 5-11
The Cleveland Browns have made some serious changes this offseason from bringing in new executives and name player acquisitions as well.
First order of business for the Browns was to seal the deal with new vice president Mike Holmegren and then have new GM Tom Heckert take over, leaving the Philadelphia Eagles behind.
Both men are no nonsense types and will make sure the Browns 2010 record surpasses the 2009 season. They both also have a keen eye for talent in the offseason and draft periods.
I can back that up right away with the Sheldon Brown trade that went down a couple of weeks ago, sending Brown to Cleveland along with fellow teammate LB Chris Gocong in exchange for a couple of mid-round draft picks.
As for the list of players the Browns have parted ways with, there is RB Jamal Lewis, C Hank Fraley, QBs Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, and TE Steve Heiden.
They have acquired players through free agency and trades like CB Sheldon Brown, LBs Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita, and T Tony Pashos. They also traded a seventh round conditional 2011 draft pick for QBs Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, WR Antonio Bryant, and TE Benjamin Watson.
Team Focus in 2010 draft:
I know the Browns just signed Delhomme to a two-year deal, but I still think they should draft a QB with the seventh selection in the upcoming draft.
The fact that the Redskins made that blockbuster trade with the Eagles to acquire QB Donovan McNabb works in favor of the Browns. The only three teams they have to worry about possibly taking a QB are the Rams, Buccaneers, and Seahawks, the biggest threat being Seattle.
If the Rams take OT Suh than I would imagine Bradford would become a Cleveland Brown. If the Rams take Bradford I would then say they should still take a QB like Notre Dames Jimmy Clausen—Tim Tebow isn't worth a first round pick!
Buffalo Bills, 6-10
In 2009 the Buffalo Bills had a defense that allowed opposing offenses to score 25 points or more six times, and 30 or more points on four of those six occasions.
It is pretty obvious where the Bills focus is in the 2010 draft looking at those numbers, but the offense needs some help also. Unfortunately when your offense is only averaging 15.3 points per game for the prior season (2009) then there are some definite needs there also.
So with only additional picks in the sixth and seventh rounds ,where does one acquire talent to fill some holes?
Players already on the roster!
The Bills front office is going to have to accept that reality and they have some tough decisions to make when it comes down to the draft. What is their biggest need? Not which side of the ball, although that is up for debate, but which position deserves the most attention from them?
So far the bills have signed some players that should help like T Cornell Green, LB Andra Davis, DT Dwan Edwards, and WR Chad Jackson. Recently they also agreed to terms with RB Walter Mendenhall (brother of Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall).
The Bills have lost a couple of key players like WRs Terrell Owens and Josh Reed to free agency.
I'm sort of confused looking at the Bills depth chart on NFL.com as it shows OLB Bryan Scott being their starting safety in 2009—that can't be true. I've heard of teams experimenting players at different positions but a LB at safety, that's just down right crazy.
Is his position just listed incorrectly on that website? Somebody please tell me because I just don't see the logic there if it is accurate information.
If it is then that right, there is the reason for the defensive woes last season and that should be an immediate pick in the first round.
Team focus in 2010:
If the above information is true than with the ninth overall selection in the 2010 draft needs to be a safety. I see the bills have re-signed "safety" (seriously, is that just listed wrong?) Brian Scott to a two year deal, but you simply can't allow your defense to give up so many points.
Even with a better offense they still would have had a sub-par season.
The Bills need to go for a safety with the ninth overall selection in the 2010 draft and they could land the likes of either Taylor Mays or Nate Allen. I don't believe Eric Berry will still be around at number nine but if he is, that's you're man.
I've also seen reports that say the Bills might use their top pick on Florida QB Tim Tebow.
No, stop it—just knock it off. Who started that despicable rumor anyways?
Tim Tebow is not even close to being worth a first round pick. I believe he will still be around in the late second to early third rounds but to waste your first round pick on a player like Tebow who will require to much time working on proper mechanics. That is just wrong to do to the loyal fans.
The Bills need to do themselves a favor and work on defense first!
Chicago Bears, 7-9
Entering his sixth season as the head coach of the Chicago Bears, Lovie Smith is most likely about to have himself a make or break season.
In 2009 the Bears third in the NFC North with a record of 7-9 which was just the opposite of what the Bears front office was hoping for after their 2008 campaign when the Bears were 9-7.
After not making the playoffs since the 2006 season, the Bears went into the 2010 free agency period knowing changes had to be made.
When free agency bells tolled the Bears vigorously began their plan of attack for the offseason.
They came out swinging, signing 30-year-old DE Julius Peppers who is an immediate contributor on the defensive side of the ball to a six-year deal. They have also brought in RB Chester Taylor to a four-year deal and then added veteran TE Brandon Manumaleuna to a five-year deal.
The part that needs to be noted is each player, with the exception of Taylor whose legs are fresh, is 30 years of age which should be a cause for concern for Bears fans.
There have been two other signings to the Bears roster since the previously mentioned three.
TE/FB Eddie Williams, a seventh round pick by the Redskins in 2009, was signed to a one-year deal, and CB Tim Jennings signed to a two-year contract. Unless the Bears sign a prolific CB in this year's draft I would expect Jennings to be complimenting veteran Charles Tillman.
With only having draft picks in the third through seventh rounds, the Bears put front office have put themselves in pretty bad situation since there are still a couple of holes to fill that demand immediate, instinctive players which generally are produced in the first and second rounds.
The team's focus in 2010 draft is to try and make a trade to move up into either the first or second round of the 2010 draft by any means possible to acquire a safety which there is a plethora of in this years draft.
As of right now the Chicago Bears have SIX TEs on their roster. If it takes trading the Bears best TE Greg Olson and a 2011 third or fourth round pick to get a 2010 second, remember it is about what is doing best for the team.
Team focus in 2010 draft:
Trade into at least the second round to draft a safety.
Cutler needs to improve his INT percentage so a WR in the third to give him some better options in the passing game might not be entirely out of the question.
Denver Broncos, 8-8
At the beginning of the 2009 season the Denver Broncos looked to be unstoppable, going 6-0.
Then for some reason the entire season went into disarray and through the next 10 games the Broncos won only two of them, giving them their 8-8 season and barely making .500.
So what in the world happened in what seemed as quickly as overnight?
I believe a player named Brandon Marshall severed the heart of the team with his on- and off-field issues. Mainly he felt disrespected by new head coach Josh McDaniels.
However Marshall is not the type of wideout that you just give away—no, he is far to talented to do that.
In the four years he has been in the league, Marshall has totaled 4,019 yards, eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in each of the last three seasons. He also notched over 100 receptions in those three seasons as well.
He has accumulated 25 touchdowns and set an NFL record for receptions in a single game with 21.
Something needs to be worked out between both parties so the team can begin to move forward as a whole. McDaniels need to have a heart to heart discussion with his offensive playmaker and try to figure out a way to resolve this in a way that makes both parties happy.
The Broncos have brought in players like RB J.J. Arrington, DTs Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan, and DE Jarvis Green while cutting ties with RB LaMont Jordan, DE Kenny Peterson, QB Chris Simms, and DT J'Vonne Parker.
Still, nothing about whether or not WR Brandon Marshall will return to the Broncos in 2010.
Team focus in 2010 draft:
First thing the Broncos need to do is figure out what is going to happen with Marhsall. If he stays then I would say draft a linebacker in the first round, someone like Missouri product Sean Weatherspoon or Alabama's Rolando McClain.
Or they could go green and draft a hybrid DE-OLB in Michigan's Brandon Graham.
If the Broncos do decide to part ways with Marshall then you need to draft someone to replace him. I don't believe McDaniels is dumb enough to trade him, and fans need to learn to trust him because there was a lot of rumbling when Cutler got traded and we all saw how that panned out!
Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-7
After winning the franchise's sixth Super Bowl in 2008 the Pittsburgh Steelers had the dreaded Super Bowl curse last year, ending the 2009 campaign with a 9-7 record.
However, the team's record can't be entirely blamed on the curse!
Players' off-field issues and injuries hurt them tremendously in 2009 and most of those "off the field issues" involved one player that a team should never have to worry about and that is their QB.
In the NFL a QB is the most valued and sought-after position for any team. You can ask any professional football expert, analyst, coach or fan and they will tell you it all starts with the QB.
There is a certain level of maturity that is expected when it comes to being a QB in this league.
With all that said, QB Ben Roethlisberger's off the field issues continue to hurt the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he needs to shoulder a big portion of the blame.
In 2008 Ben was involved in a motorcycle accident that he was lucky to walk away from after leaving a nightclub, and in the more recent of his news Ben is under investigation for allegedly raping a women in the summer of 2009.
That is still under investigation so I will reserve my thoughts on this until a later date!
Big Ben needs to understand just how valuable a player he is the the Steelers franchise. He must find a way to remove himself from situations that can not only harm his image but is also impact the Steelers organization image as well.
Other than that, the Steelers are a good team, as they have been for many years.
If you're outside looking in it appears as if head coach Mike Tomlin is making a push for yet another super bowl victory in 2010, but he is approaching it in odd fashion.
By that I mean he is bringing back some of the key players in the 2008 championship team that had left after the season.
The Steelers have brought back a fan favorite WR Antwaan Randle El who parted ways in the 2009 offseason and joined forces with the Washington Redskins, and they also brought back LB Larry Foote who signed with the Detroit Lions after the 2008 season.
Pittsburgh has lost some players to free agency like RB Willie Parker whose starting job was ultimately lost to Rashard Mendenhall. They've also allowed the ever-aging WR Joey Galloway, who was a third string wideout for the Steelers, to walk
For the most part though the players they lost this offseason were no longer considered impact players to the team and were expendable.
Team focus in 2010 draft:
Call me crazy but I think the Steelers should look to a QB in the early rounds. I completely understand Ben Roethlisberger is a great young quarterback who already has a Super Bowl ring in his young career but he needs to prove he has matured from his mistakes or he is out of a job, which should be a STANDARD in the NFL.
Mistakes happen, but if you don't learn from them well, do it once-shame on you, do it twice-shame on me...catch my drift?
Philadelphia Eagles, 11-5
Even though the Philadelphia Eagles made it into the playoffs in 2010 as a wildcard team they still have to improve from last season.
I bring them up for the simple fact that the Eagles are a very young team and will only get younger after the draft.
New GM Howie Roseman has been heard saying things like "the Eagles are not rebuilding" and one would have to question that statement.
The Eagles have cut loose almost every player age 30 or over except for three: David Akers, Jaqua Parker, and Jeremiah Trotter. So to say the Eagles aren't rebuilding is completely false.
To date the Eagles have cut some big names like RB Brian Westbrook, G Shawn Andrews, WR Kevin Curtis, LB Will Witherspoon, and DE Darren Howard.
They've been involved in multiple trades during the 2010 offseason the biggest so far and maybe of the last decade.
The Eagles traded McNabb to the Washington Redskins in exchange for their 2010 second round pick and a 2011 pick believed to be a fourth round pick with the possibility of becoming a third depending on McNabb's performance.
The Eagles now have QB Kevin Kolb their starting quarterback with Michael Vick as backup. I think Kevin will do a fine job in this league as he was highly regarded when he drafted but has also been mentored by three Pro Bowl QBs in Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Jeff Garcia.
He should be one of the best QBs in NFL history just based off of who taught him, but only time will tell if he will amount to anything at all. He's been given the keys now Eagles fans just have to hope he knows how to drive!
They've also traded CB Sheldon Brown and LB Chris Gocong to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for LB Alex Hall and two draft picks—the 105th and 137th.
Lastly the Eagles traded WR Reggie Brown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their 2011 sixth round draft pick.
They too have acquired some players at key positions of need during the 2010 offseason.
In a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, the Eagles acquired DE Darryl Tapp in exchange for DE Chris Clemons and their 2010 fourth round pick. They have signed DB Marlin Jackson, RBs Mike Bell and Dwayne Wright, CFL RB standout Martell Mallett, and P Durant Brooks, and they have also brought back WR Hank Baskett.
The Eagles, even though they've addressed some of these needs via free agency, still need a safety in the early rounds, a strongside linebacker, defensive end, and quite possibly a guard in the draft.
That's four definite areas of need and like I said the Eagles have five picks in the first four rounds in a very talented draft pool.
Lets say the Eagles do move up. What do they give up and who do they trade with?
I can't see the Eagles moving up enough to grasp safety Eric Berry but they could very well combine their first round pick and a third or fourth from this years draft to move up into the top 15 and snag safety Taylor Mays.
That would still give them a first round pick, both of their second round picks, and a pick in either the third or fourth. Still in great position to have a serious impact and get some more talent on the roster.
Team focus in 2010 draft:
The Eagles need to move up into the top 15 in the first round if they want to land a starting caliber safety like Taylor Mays. I know they have needs at other areas but they need to find a replacement for Brian Dawkins after he parted during the 2009 offseason.