Every NFL Team's Worst Nightmare This Offseason

David Levin@@davidlevin71Senior Writer IIFebruary 13, 2012

Every NFL Team's Worst Nightmare This Offseason

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    They are questions every team will have to deal with or situations that may come up. Call them the worst-case scenarios of every team in the NFL.

    The great thing about them—or bad thing, depending on how you look at it—is that all 32 teams have them and they need to be addressed.

    Yes, even the New York Giants.

    Free agency, injury status, the draft and the hiring of coaches and staffs all play into this, and no one is immune. These situations may plague your favorite team if not addressed.

Arizona Cardinals: Team Doesn't Find Someone to Throw the Ball to Larry Fitzgerald

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    The quarterback situation in Arizona is interesting.

    The Cardinals gave up a second-round pick last season for Kevin Kolb, which produced little in the way of "wow" factor. John Skelton proved he can run a professional offense, but he does little to excite the current offense or scare opposing defenses.

    The team is not in a position with the 13th pick in the draft to get Robert Griffin III and may not have the horses to get a Matt Flynn or Peyton Manning.

    The Cardinals may be stuck with what they already have in 2012.

Atlanta Falcons: Dirk Koetter Proves He Is Just as Inept as OC with the Falcons

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    He could not make the offense move in Jacksonville last season. Maybe that had something to do with the lack of offensive weapons at his disposal.

    Can Koetter finally show what he can do with Matt Ryan and a host of receivers? Atlanta owner Arthur Blank, Ryan and the fans sure hope so.

Baltimore Ravens: Team Passes on Chance to Get a Free-Agent Running Back

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    Ricky Williams announced he was retiring for good. Who takes his place? Do the Ravens find a big back in the draft, or can they find a gem in free agency to fill the need?

    Ray Rice is great and dependable, but he is small and one injury away from the Ravens being a bottom feeder in the AFC. While Rice is an elite back, he needs help to back him up on the goal line and in third-down situations.

Buffalo Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick Provides More of the Same Results

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    He looked like Tom Brady the first half of the season. He had Buffalo on top of the AFC East. And then it collapsed.

    He had a subpar season from that point on after signing a contract extension.

    Fitzpatrick needs to be consistent for 16 games and prove he is an elite quarterback. If not, and if this team loses Stevie Johnson to free agency, the Bills are in trouble, and so is Chan Gailey.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton Suffers a Sophomore Jinx

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    If he gets anywhere near his freshman season in the NFL, Carolina will still be better as a team.

    Newton set an NFL record for yards as a rookie and touchdowns on the ground by a quarterback.

    His legs and arm wowed the NFL hierarchy and proved he was worthy of the first pick in the draft. How he carried defenders on his back in the end zone and for extra yardage in games was truly better than anything we could have expected from him.

Chicago Bears: Matt Forte Is Franchised, Contract Disputes Put Him at Odds with Team

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    He will be a Bears running back in 2012, and if his knee is completely healed, hopefully he will pick up where he left off in 2011.

    The Bears need his productivity and whether the team can sign him to a long-term contract or "franchise" him this season, he will be carrying the ball for them next year.

    The only problem is that if he is franchised and his contract becomes an issue again at some point during the season, will it detract from performing at such a high rate?

Cincinnati Bengals: Team Cannot Find More Offensive Weapons for Andy Dalton

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    The Bengals need another receiver to complement A.J. Green and maybe another runner to take pressure off Cedric Benson.

    Andy Dalton and Green were amazing last season, but at times did show they were rookies. A speed receiver in the slot would be great, but someone like Chris Polk would also aid Benson in the ground game.

    If there is more firepower found in free agency (Ryan Grant, Harry Douglas) this team can challenge for the NFC North title.

Cleveland Browns: Colt McCoy, Not Robert Griffin III, Is the Quarterback

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    Griffin would immediately give this team a shot in the arm, and if the Browns find receivers in the draft and re-sign Peyton Hillis, this offense could see a major improvement to go along with a defense that got better in 2011.

    It also means if this team challenges for a winning record and possibly a playoff berth, Pat Shurmur could be a coach in Cleveland for a long time.

Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones Cannot Make a Splash in Free Agency

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    Something has to happen in Dallas.

    The Cowboys looked sharp one week (against Tampa Bay) and then fell apart in the season finale (against the Giants).

    Heads may roll if free agency isn't good to Dallas—not to mention this could be a make-or-break season for head coach Jason Garrett.

    Does Peyton Manning become an attractive piece to Jones' puzzle? Does Matt Flynn make a trip to the compound? Does DeMarco Murray mean other runners will be jettisoned?

    So many questions, not enough answers.

Denver Broncos: John Elway Continues to Preach the Need for Another Passer

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    Tim Tebow should be the quarterback of this team until he falters.

    And then, the Broncos should think of other options.

    John Elway and John Fox need to come up with a plan to maximize Tebow's skills and teach him to be a "quarterback" first and a runner second.

    There is something (and I do not need to say this over and over) about Tebow and "winning" that is contagious. Does this team really want to break up this kind of continuity?

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford Doesn't Take the Next Step as an Elite Quarterback

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    Stafford threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2011. He had Calvin Johnson to help him with that accomplishment.

    Does Stafford take the next step and become a top-six passer in the NFL? He has the arm and the tools.

    Stafford needs to continue to be a leader on and off the field. While the defense is still young and learning, the offense is starting to make people plan specifically for it. Now the Lions need a strong running game to help offset the passing attack and keep defenses guessing.

Green Bay Packers: Team Loses Jermichael Finley in Free Agency

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    The Packers need the talented tight end to continue to be Aaron Rodgers' security blanket.

    It sounds crazy, as the Packers boast great receivers, but when they are caught in coverage, Finley has bailed out Rodgers on many occasions this past season.

    Jordy Nelson will re-sign with the team. Finley needs to do the same.

Houston Texans: Mario Williams Leaves for a Team in the AFC South

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    Jacksonville may be one of those teams that hopes Williams jumps into the free-agent pool.

    Williams was doing well while playing in Wade Phillips' defense. Then he got hurt and the team moved on.

    Williams could be the first defensive player off the board because of his speed and pass-rushing. He could command the highest pay for a defensive end in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts: Team Soon Finds out RGIII Would Have Been a Better Choice

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    I believe when this draft class hits five years, Robert Griffin III will be a better pro player than Andrew Luck.

    That said, do the Colts brass roll the dice and take RGIII or are they set on Luck? Can he take the Colts back to the promised land?

    The Colts want a prototype. Luck is that prototype.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Team Loses Josh Scobee After Losing Adam Podlesh Last Season

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    If the Jaguars allow Josh Scobee to leave via free agency, it would be a huge loss for this team.

    Last season, the team let Adam Podlesh, the team's punter, walk. He signed with Chicago, and the Jaguars had punting and special teams problems the first half of the season.

    Scobee is one of the more consistent kickers in the NFL and he is almost automatic. He needs to stay in Jacksonville.

Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe Leaves, Jamaal Charles Is Not Completely Healed

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    According to a report, Charles looks like he will participate in offseason workouts. That is great news for Chiefs fans. The season began to go downhill when Charles was injured.

    The team needs Bowe to stay and become a main target in the offense with Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin.

    New head coach Romeo Crennel could have a potent offense if all the key players are on the field at the same time.

Miami Dolphins: Offense Does Not Move Like Joe Philbin Wants It To

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    Philbin ran an offense in Green Bay that was unstoppable. Can he do the same thing in Miami?

    He could lure Matt Flynn in free agency, and maybe Jermichael Finley. (This is purely speculation.) These targets would help the Dolphins move toward the top of the AFC East.

    Miami fans can only hope.

Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson Is Not Able to Play in 2012

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    If Peterson is not in the starting lineup for game one next year, it is a bad sign for the Vikings. Peterson makes the offense go, and without him in the lineup, the running game does suffer.

    Peterson's status for the season is still not completely known, but the running back plans to play in 2012.

New England Patriots: Rob Gronkowski's Ankle Doesn't Heal

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    It will be the most talked about ankle in football.

    Amazing that he could dance on it after the Super Bowl.

    "Gronk" will be the primary weapon in the Patriots attack. Wes Welker may not be back. The offense may get fine-tuned. And the defense still needs help.

    But the tight end still may be the most talked about player on the team.

New Orleans Saints: Team Loses Everyone in Free Agency Except Drew Brees

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    The Saints will sign Drew Brees—that is a given. But the team then has to concentrate on Carl Nicks, Marques Colston and Robert Meachem. Is it possible to keep everyone happy?

    Nicks is a must to keep the continuity of the offensive line and Brees upright during the season. Colston is the team's main target, but he could be a welcome addition to many other teams.

    Meachem will get a look as well.

New York Giants: Victor Cruz's Demand for More Money Becomes a Holdout

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    Cruz makes more than $400,000 a year, and yes, he deserves a raise.

    But two days after the Super Bowl is not when to announce you want a raise.

    Cruz should get his, but it sure makes you realize it is not what have you done lately, but what you want your employer to do for you.

    We will see if this becomes a distraction in the offseason.

New York Jets: No Peyton Manning, No Matt Flynn, No Chance at Playoffs?

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    Mark Sanchez is not going to get this team to the Super Bowl.

    The Jets need Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn or something to get this team back to the playoffs.

    If the Jets do not improve the offense and get someone behind center that can move the ball consistently, everything may crash in 2012.

Oakland Raiders: Dennis Allen Proves to Be the Wrong Choice

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    The Raiders are truly a curious case.

    Dennis Allen revamped the Broncos defense, and the Raiders selected him to become their head coach after they fired Hue Jackson.

    Allen better prove he can work magic and get the team into the playoffs after two straight 8-8 seasons.

    Riding the arm of Carson Palmer will be key to this plan.

Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson Is Not in an Eagles Jersey for 2012

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    There are two schools of thought on this one.

    The first: He plays nice, signs a contract with the Eagles and shuts up and plays. (I doubt that happens.) The second: He goes into free agency and Philly lets him. Doesn't that put up a red flag about his ability or his work with his teammates?

    Teams want a player like him, but they do not want a cancer in the locker room.

    Jackson needs to be a player, not a cancer.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Defense Gets a Little Older and Slower

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    What happens if the Steelers have troubles with defense in the way of age?

    The Steelers have long prided themselves on stinging defenses that cause fumbles and interceptions. You need size, speed and big-play ability to do that.

    If the team continues to get older, the defensive scheme will not work.

    Could a slower step by Pittsburgh (and the Ravens) allow the Bengals to take a step up?

San Diego Chargers: Ryan Mathews Doesn't Become an Elite Running Back

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    A few years ago, the Chargers had a running back named LaDainian Tomlinson that ran over everyone in the NFL. Tomlinson was dealt with injuries and the team released him and drafted Ryan Mathews.

    Mathews has been a decent runner, but he has not replaced Tomlinson.

    Mathews needs to take a serious step forward to become an elite back in the NFL. Mike Tolbert, a bowling ball of a back, is a free agent and the team can ill afford to lose him to another team.

San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith Tests the Free-Agent Pool

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    It may not be the worst thing in the world.

    Smith had a good season in 2011, but can he put together back-to-back seasons like that? He has been erratic all his career and he needs to show last year was not a fluke.

    Smith could test the free-agent waters and the 49ers could finally see what Colin Kaepernick can do.

    The 49ers' success last season was more about the team's ability to move the ball with the run than the pass and a sound defense. The second-year player, if called upon, will be asked to control the game and not lose it.

St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford's Ankle Costs the Team the Season

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    Part of the issues with the Rams last season had to do with health at running back and quarterback.

    Sam Bradford certainly took a step back last season because of injury. The team needs the 2010 top pick to be as good as his rookie season. If not, it will be another long season in Missouri.

    Bradford will have weapons at his disposal. Can he use them effectively?

    New coach Jeff Fisher will need to prove he can mold another young team into a playoff contender.

Seattle Seahawks: Team Cannot Snag Matt Flynn, Cannot Draft a Quarterback

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    The quarterback is the one link the Seahawks need to compete for a playoff berth.

    That said, what if they cannot lure Matt Flynn to the Northwest?

    Does someone like Ryan Tannehill become a possibility in the middle or the end of the first round?

    Do the Seahawks also look at Matt Moore in a trade or Jason Campbell in free agency?

    Head coach Pete Carroll needs to find some consistency with this position.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Schiano Doesn't Take Trent Richardson

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    The Buccaneers can use their fifth selection in the draft in many ways, but they really need to hit a home run with the choice.

    Given they have holes on both sides of the ball, finding a true playmaker might be the best way to go. And with that pick, Trent Richardson would meet approval with the fans.

    New coach Greg Schiano knows a thing or two about building a winner out of a program that has fallen on hard times, and doing this with Tampa Bay will be no different than at Rutgers.

    He already has a good young passer in place in Josh Freeman. He needs a great runner to help him open passing lanes.

Tennessee Titans: Tennessee Cannot Find Any Takers for Chris Johnson

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    Johnson proved that you need a full offseason, especially with a new head coach, to learn how to play football.

    Johnson was a diva last season and could not get going until the middle of the season, and then it was not his best effort.

    Would trading the former 2,000-yard rusher be worth the Titans' time? Could they get some good players or a draft pick for him?

    The Titans can use Javon Ringer as their lead back and still get great results.

Washington Redskins: Daniel Snyder Mortgages the Team to Get Robert Griffin III

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    Whatever it takes.

    I firmly believe Snyder, who is a spending machine, will do what he has to do to trade up to the second spot in the draft and make RGIII the second overall pick in this year's draft.

    The problem with this is knowing what to spend and not to spend. This also can open the door for any team wanting Justin Blackmon to trade up to the third spot with Minnesota to snag the receiver before St. Louis has a chance to get him at the sixth slot.

    The Rams may need to trade back up (Cleveland) to make sure they can have a shot at their prized possession.

    This should be every interesting.


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