One Big Fix for NFL's 10 Worst Teams
Some teams have a lot of problems that need fixing, but even the worst NFL teams have one problem that outweighs all the others but, if fixed, would allow the team to make big strides toward improvement.
Just look at what Sam Bradford did in his first year in St. Louis a year ago (then ignore everything about this year).
So what are those huge holes? Here are what I think each of the 10 worst teams in the NFL need more than anything else.
1. Indianapolis Colts: A Quarterback
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This one is easy.
The Colts with a great quarterback: perennial Super Bowl contenders for the last decade.
The Colts without one: 0-12.
Yes, they have other needs like offensive line, interior defensive line, corner and outside linebacker, but none of those holes can be fixed with just one acquisition.
Luck-ily for the Colts (see what I did there?), they have a stud quarterback in Peyton Manning. The decision they have to make now is whether to trade him and draft for the future (Andrew Luck), or keep him and fix some of the other problems on the team.
2. St. Louis Rams: A Left Tackle
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The Rams are one of those teams that have a lot of problems. They need wide receivers, defense against the run and defensive backs.
However, if you watched the Monday night game against the Seahawks, Sam Bradford had no time at all to throw the ball. He was under pressure all night.
If the Rams can pick up a left tackle to give him some better protection, then he may not need that many better receivers. You give a quarterback enough time, and his receivers will open.
Left tackle is the bigger need.
3. Minnestoa Vikings: A Left Tackle
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Well, whad'ya know? Two teams that are both terrible (partially) for the same reason.
The Vikings also have a need at quarterback, but they aren't going to give up on Christian Ponder after only a year, even though he has been pretty bad.
However, in his last game, Ponder was brutalized by the Lions defense. The Vikings gave up five sacks and eight total quarterback hits against the Lions on Sunday, and since Ponder already had some durability concerns in college, they've got to have better protection.
The Vikings already have some great pieces on their defense and have maybe the best running back in the league, so protecting their quarterback would help them take the next step.
4. Washington Redskins: A Quarterback
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Is there a pattern emerging here? Not really, but if you don't have a quarterback, or if you have one that can't stay on his feet, you aren't going to win many games. For further evidence, watch the opening of The Blind Side on Netflix. They explain it pretty well.
When Rex Grossman was playing well, the Redskins were winning. But when he inevitably turned back into the Sexy Rexy we all know, the team plummeted.
If they can get high-end quarterback play once again, they have the tools to win some games. After all, they did start the season 3-1 with an impressive win over the Giants and a two-point loss to the Cowboys.
They can win. Maybe Robert Griffin III can help them out.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A Middle Linebacker
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A big part of Tampa Bay's problems is their inability to stop the run, but they already have a player that takes care of that need (Gerald McCoy), he's just injured.
However, McCoy alone will not answer all their run defense problems. They still need to upgrade their linebacking corps. If they were to obtain a top middle linebacker, they could move Mason Foster out to the weak side, where he'd be better suited.
Maurice Jones-Drew is great, but when your team gives up four touchdowns to one player (who isn't a quarterback), you have serious issues.
At the rate they're going, the Bucs will have their choice of the top inside linebacker in the class, whether they decide that that's Luke Kuechly or Vontaze Burfict.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: A Good Wide Receiver
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Blaine Gabbert has been far from impressive in his rookie year, but I don't necessarily think he's a bust yet. Mostly because of how crappy the receivers are in Jacksonville.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a top-three running back (he was an absolute monster against the Buccaneers), and if the Jags could have teams respecting the pass, they'd have a decent team.
A big play receiver like Justin Blackmon would do wonders for them, but the chances of him being available when the Jaguars pick are slim. Still, the need is critical, so the Jaguars better pick one (or two) early.
7. Cleveland Browns: A Running Back
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The Browns have a lot of needs, but they have two particularly huge ones. Luckily for them, they have two picks in the first round of the draft, so they may be able to take care of both.
However, their biggest need is running back. They had that last year in Peyton Hillis, and while the Browns only won six games last season, it's better than they're doing this year. Whether he's just having an off year or he's a bust, Hillis isn't getting it done this season.
The Browns will be sorely tempted to take stud running back Trent Richardson with one of their picks if Hillis doesn't give them a reason to believe he's the long-term answer.
8. Miami Dolphins: A Quarterback
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Matt Moore may or may not be this missing piece for the Dolphins. He doesn't have the Tebow buzz going, but he wins games. Currently, Moore is 4-3 as a starter, with two of the three losses by a combined four points to the Giants and Cowboys. Not bad.
When Moore does well, Miami is a team that can win. However, the loss to the Eagles probably sealed Moore's fate as a starter in Miami. The Dolphins have games left against the Bills, Jets and Patriots.
They'll probably only win one of those games, which will keep them in the running for a top quarterback (if Griffin and Barkley declare, that is). I see the Dolphins snagging one of those top prospects and then trading away Moore to a team that thinks he could develop into a legitimate starter.
Once Miami gets consistently good quarterback play, they can beat anyone.
9. Carolina Panthers: A Cornerback
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On an average day, Cam Newton and Steve Smith can score on anyone, even the Packers. However, their defense can't stop the run or the pass.
The Panthers double dipped at the defensive tackle position in 2011, so they may have their run defense problem solved in a couple of years. Their pass defense is still terrible.
Drafting a top-notch cornerback would at least fix part of their issues and would greatly reduce their opponents' ability to score, which could just be the extra push they need to win some games.
If nothing else, they're certainly set at the quarterback position.
10. Kansas City Chiefs: A Head Coach
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The Chiefs have been ravaged by injury this year, but they're still a pretty talented team on paper. I think a lot of the losses can be attributed to Todd Haley being a lame duck this season. Now that he's been fired, it's come out that the management considered firing him last season, despite the conference win.
Would things have turned out differently if Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles hadn't sustained season-ending injuries so early in the season? Certainly.
Still, the Chiefs won four straight games at one point and still have one of the best corner tandems and one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. If nothing else, they could have done better than score the points against the then-winless Dolphins.
I attribute most of their failures to Todd Haley. If they can bring in the right guy to replace him, they may have a lot of their problems solved.