50 Burning Questions Heading Into The 2010 NFL Season
The NFL Draft has come to an end, but the speculation hasn't. Draft questions have been replaced with roster questions, free agency rumors, and of course, Brett Favre watch 2010.
The NFL has become a year-round sport, even though the season only lasts five months. There are so many questions and uncertainties heading into 2010 that it was hard to whittle the list down to 50, but I managed.
Without further introduction, I give you the top 50 questions heading into the 2010 NFL Season.
Will San Diego Trade Shawne Merriman?
It appears that the writing is on the wall for Merriman. With only one year remaining on his deal, and San Diego showing no signs of giving him an extension, the Chargers would be foolish not to trade Merriman.
San Diego could easily pick up a late-round pick in next year’s draft for Merriman, and he was far from stellar last year, so why wouldn't the Chargers pull the trigger on this one?
Is JaMarcus Russell Getting Cut?
The latest report from Raiderville says that Jamarcus is now tipping the scales at 300 pounds. Unless Oakland plans on converting him to right tackle, I can’t see them holding onto Russell much longer (especially with no cap in 2010).
Hope you saved that first-pick money JaMarcus, because your NFL career is quickly coming to a close.
Who Will Be The Starting Quarterback In Denver?
Denver didn’t draft a quarterback in the first round for no reason. Josh McDaniels is clearly enamored with Tim Tebow, but he’s currently third on the depth chart behind Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn.
Something’s gotta give here, and I think that Quinn may be the odd man out. But whether he ends up starting or not, Tebow is sure to see significant action in 2010.
Can Jason Campbell Turn The Raiders Around?
The Raiders did not acquire Jason Campbell to back up JaMarcus Russell. If Campbell was good enough to start in the NFC East, he is definitely good enough to start in Oakland.
Despite the underachieving Russell, the Raiders were competitive last year, taking out the Steelers, Eagles, and Bengals. Oakland’s success in 2010 might hinge on Campbell’s performance.
Will San Diego Commit To Running The Football?
The bad news: the Chargers ranked next-to-last in the NFL in rushing last season. The good news? They still went 13-3.
After cutting ties with LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego drafted workhorse Fresno St. running back Ryan Mathews in the first round. He is a tough runner who should get the majority of the carries, with Darren Sproles providing a nice change of pace. Only time will tell if San Diego will actually commit to a run game.
Is Matt Cassel The Answer At Quarterback In Kansas City?
The Matt Cassel era got off to a rough start last year, with the Chiefs finishing the season at a measly 4-12. He got a six-year contract worth $28 million in guaranteed money, so Kansas City fans would like to see a little more production.
Another sub-par season could spell the end for Cassel, especially with Scott Pioli calling the shots in Kansas City.
Will Ben Tate Replace Steve Slaton In Houston?
Fumble-prone Steve Slaton is coming off of offseason neck surgery, and chances are he won’t be healthy for the start of the 2010 season.
Ryan Moats and Arian Foster showed some promise last year, but Houston may have sent a meaningful message to both of them by drafting Ben Tate in the second round of the 2010 draft.
If Tate impresses in training camp and the preseason, he could be starting in week one for the Texans.
Is Houston Ready To Make A Playoff Run?
The Texans are coming off of the first winning season in franchise history, going 9-7 in 2009 and barely missing out on a playoff berth.
With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson putting up video game numbers, and former Auburn running back Ben Tate coming to town, the offense is not in question.
If Houston’s new-look defense can perform well, the Texans can reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
Can Vince Young Lead Tennessee To The Promised Land?
Vince Young was no joke as a starter last season, going 8-2 after Kerry Collins went down. We all know that Young is a winner, through and through, but can he sustain it for an entire season?
With Chris Johnson racking up yards, Young won’t have to do too much, but earning a playoff spot won’t be easy with Indy and Houston in the division.
Will Chris Johnson Get A New Deal?
Chris Johnson didn’t participate in the Titans’ first OTA, and it looks like he may be sitting out for a while. Coming off of just the sixth 2000 yard season in NFL history, Johnson has told the media he wants to be the highest paid offensive player in the NFL.
There is no way that Tennessee will cave into this demand, but there's an outside shot that CJ could be the highest paid running back in the league before the season starts.
Will Jacksonville Sign Darren Sharper?
Any Jaguars fan will tell you that Reggie Nelson is not the answer at safety for Jacksonville. After a solid rookie campaign in 2007, Nelson has steadily gotten worse, and Jags defense has suffered as a result.
Teams will be shy to sign Darren Sharper because he’s 34 years old, which is ancient by NFL standards.
But after a great 2009 season which included nine interceptions and three defensive touchdowns, why wouldn’t Jacksonville gamble on Sharper? If nothing else, he will be a great mentor for Nelson.
Will Peyton Manning Get A New Deal?
Peyton’s $99.2 million deal in 2004 made him the highest paid player in league history. With Manning’s contract up after the 2010 season, Colts owner Jim Irsay will have to break the bank once again.
There is no way that Peyton will go anywhere else, so this is a question of when, not if. I expect his deal to be done before the season starts, and I won’t be shocked if the deal is worth $150 million.
Who Will Start At QB For Pittsburgh With Big Ben Suspended?
Whether Ben’s suspension lasts four or six games, the Steelers need to make a decision on a temporary starter.
Dennis Dixon was Roethlisberger’s backup last season, and performed well in his only start against the Ravens. But the Steelers may opt for Byron Leftwich, whom they recently acquired from Tampa Bay.
Is T.J. Ward Ready To Start For The Browns?
Many draft experts disagreed with Cleveland’s decision to draft cornerback Joe Haden over safety Earl Thomas, especially with the Browns’ glaring need at safety.
But Cleveland did pick up a safety in Oregon’s T.J. Ward in the second round. While there seems to be no doubt that Earl Thomas will be starting at safety in Seattle, many are wondering if Ward is NFL ready right now. Only time will tell.
Will Jordan Shipley Be the Slot Receiver In Cincinnati?
The Bengals’ passing game has been improved across the board, with Shipley and Jermaine Gresham being drafted, and the acquisition of Antonio Bryant.
Cincinnati struggled to move the ball through the air in 2009 with no T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Shipley should be able to fill the possession receiver role, especially with his skills over the middle of the field.
Is Sergio Kindle Healthy Enough To Make An Impact in 2010?
The Ravens have done a good job in getting younger on defense this offseason, and Sergio Kindle will provide a boost to Baltimore’s aging line-backing corps.
Reports have surfaced that Kindle fell well into the second-round because of some lingering issues with his knee, but this wasn’t enough to scare off the Ravens. We will know in due time if his knee can withstand a full NFL schedule.
Will Pittsburgh Commit To Running The Ball With Big Ben On The Shelf?
With Roethlisberger sidelined and Santonio Holmes in New York, the Steelers won’t have an easy time moving the ball through the air. This means old-school, smash-mouth football is back in Pittsburgh (at least temporarily).
With Willie Parker now in Washington, third-year back Rashard Mendenhall has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Pittsburgh also drafted Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer in the sixth-round of this year’s draft, who will get some carries early on as well.
Will Chemistry Be An Issue In The Jets’ Locker Room?
The Jets’ roster has seen more action than…I was going to say something inappropriate, but let’s just skip it.
New York has lost a lot of veteran voices in the locker room, including Jay Feely, Alan Faneca, and Leon Washington. The addition of Santonio Holmes isn’t exactly a character-builder, either. But if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s Rex Ryan. Let’s see what kind of ego-management he can pull off in 2010.
Will The Jets Sign Adalius Thomas?
New York hasn’t shied away from veteran free-agents this offseason (LT, Jason Taylor) or guys who may have character issues (Santonio Holmes), so why wouldn’t the Jets go after Adalius Thomas?
He would be reuniting with Rex Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore when Thomas was in his prime. Adding a motivated Adalius Thomas to the mix in New York is a scary thought for the rest of the AFC East.
Will New England Deal Aaron Hernandez Before The Season Starts?
Hernandez has certainly gotten off on the wrong cleat In New England. Just days after the draft, reports came out that say Hernandez failed multiple drug tests during his time in college in Miami.
Belichick obviously saw something he liked in Hernandez (he drafted a tight end, Rob Gronkowski just two rounds earlier), and that’s probably enough to give him some trade value in the open market.
Can Patriots Rookie Tight End Rob Gronkowski Stay Healthy?
Gronkowski missed the entire 2009 season at Arizona due to back surgery and some lingering concerns over nerve damage. His size and athletic ability have been praised, and some scouts have said that he has more upside than Jermaine Gresham, the consensus number one tight end in the 2010 draft.
The Patriots may have taken a gamble with this second-round selection, but if it pays off, Belichick will once again be crowned as the King of the Draft.
Will Dolphins Regret Trading for Brandon Marshall?
Although early indications suggest that Marshall is strongly committed and fitting in fine with his new teammates in Miami, let’s not forget that he’s far from a saint.
Locker rooms can turn ugly quickly, and some might say that having Marshall on your team is asking for it. That new contract should help him stay focused, but money doesn’t change character.
Is C.J. Spiller The Favorite For Rookie Of The Year?
There is no doubting C.J. Spiller’s talent and explosiveness. He might be the most exciting running back prospect since Chris Johnson. But will the opportunities be plentiful in Buffalo?
A couple of weeks ago, it seemed that Marshawn Lynch was as good as gone, but he’s still on Buffalo's roster. The offensive line is suspect as well (just ask Trent Edwards), and there won’t be huge holes to run through. But with Spiller’s big-play ability, don’t count him out just yet.
Who Is The Favorite In The NFC West?
With the announcement of Kurt Warner’s retirement, the NFC West instantly became a free-for-all. Many experts still like Arizona, but they lost their second receiver (Anquan Boldin) and second corner (Bryant McFadden).
Don’t count out the 49ers, with Alex Smith finally getting some continuity at offensive coordinator. And what about Seattle? If Hasselbeck can stay healthy, the Seahawks may have a sniff at the division crown, too.
Is Matt Leinart Good Enough To Lead Arizona Back To The Playoffs?
Arizona fans may have hit the panic button when Kurt Warner announced his retirement. Matt Leinart is anything but a proven starter in the NFL, compiling sub-.500 record in limited opportunities over the past 4 years.
But with Larry Fitzgerald, Beanie Wells, and an up and coming group of young receivers, things aren’t looking too bad for Leinart.
Will Arizona Regret Trading Anquan Boldin?
Boldin was in the final year of his deal, and the Cardinals dealt him to the Ravens for third and fourth-round picks.
Boldin and Arizona’s front office have had a less-than-cordial relationship over the last few years, with Boldin claiming the team promised him a new contract and failed to deliver.
It’s always good to get tension out of the locker room, but I’m sure Leinart would rather have Boldin around. If Anquan has a solid season in Baltimore and Leinart tanks, heads may roll in the desert.
Is Alex Smith Good Enough To Lead San Francisco To The Playoffs?
After playing for five offensive coordinators in his first five seasons, Alex Smith is finally experiencing the continuity that a quarterback needs. Smith showed flashes of brilliance in his first season with Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator.
With Crabtree entering his first full NFL season, Vernon Davis coming off of his best year, and a talented backfield that includes Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, and wild-card rookie Anthony Dixon, Alex Smith has all the tools he needs to succeed in San Francisco. Can he put it all together?
Can Matt Hasselbeck Stay Healthy For Seattle?
Seattle’s playoff hopes undoubtedly ride on the health of Matt Hasselbeck. Although the Seahawks did make a trade with San Diego for fourth-year quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, Hasselbeck is the entrenched starter, at least for the time being.
With a healthy Hasselbeck, Seattle can push for a playoff berth in a division without a clear-cut favorite.
How Will Pete Carroll Fare In His First Season In Seattle?
Carroll’s first attempt as an NFL coach in New England wasn’t a complete failure, but it’s pretty clear that he underachieved with the talented group of players he inherited.
After a solid 2010 draft with Carroll’s fingerprints all over it, he has a chance to buck the belief that college coaching prowess doesn’t translate to the NFL. And he couldn’t have picked a better division to do it in than the NFC West.
Can Sam Bradford Stay Healthy In St. Louis?
In case you haven’t heard, Sam Bradford injured his shoulder in college (twice), despite the fact that he played behind one of the best offensive lines in college football.
St. Louis’ offensive line is suspect at best, and pass-rushers come off the line a little bit faster in the NFL. Make no mistake: Bradford will get knocked around a lot in St. Louis (ask Mark Bulger). We’ll see if he can withstand a full NFL season of it.
How Many Games Will The Rams Win?
The Rams have a league worst 6-42 record over the last 3 seasons, so winning just three games would be an improvement on recent struggles.
St. Louis is a suffering NFL fan-base, and recent reports suggest that the team could be on the move soon. The future is now for the Rams, so Steve Spagnuolo and company better get something done quickly.
Is Beanie Wells Ready To Break Out In 2010?
Beanie Wells had a solid rookie campaign in 2010, racking up 793 yards rushing to go with seven touchdowns while splitting time with Tim Hightower.
Some expected him to hit the 1,000 yard mark as a rookie, but the Cardinals’ offense was pass-happy in 2009. Now that Kurt Warner has retired and an inexperienced Matt Leinart is running the show in Arizona, Wells is primed to break out in 2010.
Besides Steve Smith, Who Will Catch Passes In Carolina?
With the Panthers not extending an offer to Muhsin Muhammad, Steve Smith appears to stand alone as the only legitimate receiver in Carolina.
Since Dwayne Jarrett has proved that he is not the answer, Carolina drafted two receivers in the 2010 draft, Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards (formerly a quarterback at Appalachian State). Will either of them provide some relief for the double-covered Steve Smith?
Will Drew Brees Fall Victim To The Madden Curse?
What do Marshall Faulk, Michael Vick, and Shaun Alexander have in common? They are all victims of the Madden Curse.
Last season had both Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald graced the cover, with only Polamalu falling victim to the curse. Saints fans everywhere are no doubt up in arms over Brees’ decision to appear on the cover. Let’s see if he can beat the curse.
Can New Orleans Repeat In 2010?
Let's keep this one short: why not?
Can Matt Ryan Lead The Falcons Back To The Playoffs?
After becoming the first rookie quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs with a rookie head coach, Matt Ryan took a small step back in 2009.
Many rookies (quarterbacks chief among them) experience a sophomore slump, so Atlanta fans need not worry. With weapons all over the field, Ryan has a great opportunity to reach the postseason once again.
Is The Writing On The Wall For Detroit RB Kevin Smith?
Detroit traded up to the back of the first round last week to select Cal’s Jahvid Best, a home-run hitter with phenomenal speed.
Kevin Smith is not a speed back, so his between-the-tackles style could be a perfect complement to Best, but the pick could also be an indication that the new regime in Detroit is looking to go in a different direction, permanently.
Can Jay Cutler Guide The Bears To The Playoffs?
Year one of the Cutler era got off to a shaky start in Chicago to say the least. The Bears finished 7-9, well short of the playoff berth that is always expected of this team.
The defense is reloaded and healthy, but can Cutler and the offense do their part?
Is Brett Favre Coming Back?
Haven’t seen this storyline before. Once again, Favre is taking his sweet time, letting everyone worry for as long as humanly possible before making his announcement.
Seemingly everyone expects Favre to come back in 2010 after missing a Super Bowl appearance by the seat of his wranglers. Minnesota fans are saying their prayers, hoping that the Tavaris Jackson experiment doesn’t start over again.
Can Donovan McNabb Lead The Redskins To The Playoffs?
Washington has made it clear that they want to win now, acquiring Donovan McNabb and drafting their left tackle of the future in Trent Williams. The only question is whether or not the Redskins can make it through the tough NFC East and into the playoffs.
McNabb’s weapons aren’t nearly as dangerous in Washington as they were in Philly, but I’m guessing he’ll put it all together with the help of Mike Shanahan.
Can Eli Manning Guide The Giants Back To The Playoffs?
After leading the Giants to the Promised Land in 2007, Eli and company have had a rough couple of seasons.
After finishing 12-4 in 2008, the Giants lost to the Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs. After a 5-0 start last season, the Giants collapsed, going 3-8 over the last 11 weeks and missed the playoffs.
Manning and company will try to bounce back in 2010, but it won’t be easy in the ultra-competitive NFC East.
Will Michael Vick Get A Lot Of Snaps In Philly?
With McNabb gone, Kevin Kolb looks to be the starter for the Eagles in 2010. Where does that leave Vick? I’ll tell you: one bad Kolb performance or injury away from being a starting quarterback.
Vick has proven that he can take a team to the playoffs, and that’s more than Kolb can say. I don’t expect him to be the starter in week one, but stranger things have happened…
Where Will Terrell Owens Play In 2010?
Where-oh-where will the NFL’s loudest mouth land in 2010? Many teams, most recently the Redskins and Bears have said no way to an Owens arrival, but let’s not get it twisted: T.O. will play somewhere in 2010.
I certainly wouldn’t count out the Raiders or the Bengals, where T.O. and Chad could try to outdo one another. Good luck with that, Marvin Lewis.
Can The Packers Get Back To The Playoffs?
Aaron Rodgers has proven in the last two seasons that the Packers were right to let Brett Favre move on.
After a heart-breaking loss to the Cardinals, Rodgers and company are hungry for a playoff victory. In the NFC North, though, a division title is unlikely – that is, if Brett Favre is coming back.
Will Urlacher’s Return Be The Difference For The Bears?
The Bears missed out on the playoffs last year without Brian Urlacher. The defense certainly suffered as a result, giving up more touchdowns than in any season that Urlacher has played.
The addition of Julius Peppers to the defensive line will help too, but without the unquestioned leader of their defense, it’s no wonder the Bears missed out on the postseason.
Can Tony Romo Lead The Cowboys Back To The Playoffs?
The Cowboys finally got over the hump this season, winning a playoff game for the first time in over a dozen years. But after getting smoked by Minnesota in the divisional round, Romo and company are desperate for another chance. It seems that the expectations are Super Bowl or bust for this team. Can Romo be the leader the Cowboys so desperately need?
Who Are The Favorites In The NFC East?
The NFC East is truly a free-for-all. The Giants, Eagles, Redskins, and Cowboys all have playoff expectations, and you know what? They're all good enough to make it.
McNabb is dying to prove himself, Andy Reid is anxious to prove he can get there without McNabb, Tom Coughlin is fighting for his job, and Jerry Jones won't accept anything less. Best division in football? I don't see why not.
Who Will Be The Offensive Rookie Of The Year?
I wouldn’t ever make a bet on NFL rookie of the year before training camp, but if he starts from day one, I like Jimmy Clausen’s chances. He won’t be forced to do too much through the air with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams in the backfield.
And getting third down conversions won’t be the worst thing in the world with Steve Smith as his number one target. Honorable mentions go to Dez Bryant and C.J. Spiller.
Who Will Be The Defensive Rookie Of The Year?
I think the safest bet here is Eric Berry. Outisde of Suh and McCoy, Berry was widely considered to be the most NFL ready defensive player in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Don’t get me wrong: I think Suh and McCoy will both have tremendous rookie seasons in 2010 as well, but safeties are sexier to voters than linemen.
Who Will Win The Super Bowl In 2010?
The favorites are the usual suspects: the Saints, the Colts, and the Vikings. Is it a coincidence that these teams have the best quarterbacks in the NFL (besides Tom Brady)?
Could Rex Ryan and the Jets shock the world? Will the Chargers, widely regarded as the most talented team in the NFL, put it all together? Or will the Patriots return to glory?
Only one thing's for sure: I can't wait to find out.