The parity of sports gives every fan a right to claim something as theirs, to hope for the impossible, and to always expect the unexpected.
If you had told me at the beginning of the 2008 season that the Arizona Cardinals would play the Atlanta Falcons in the first round and win, I would have laughed at you hysterically.
If you had told me that the Dolphins would win the AFC East, scoffed, that the Ravens would play in the AFC Championship, that would have been laughable. I would never in my life have picked the Cardinals playing the Pittsburgh Steelers for the title, and unless you're a Cardinals fan, you wouldn't have either.
Here are three teams who will allow parity to shine bright by falling on their faces in 2009:
(Update) Cardinals signed RB Jason Wright who will most likely take over Arringtons role
The Eagles have taken a step back on offense by letting Pro Bowl tackles Tra Thomas, and Jon Runyan walk.
They continue to ignore McNabb's request for a true No. 1 receiver. If I remember correctly, the last time they had one (Terrell Owens), they went to the Super Bowl. Also lost reliable TE LJ Smith, while not a huge blow, he was a good familiar option for McNabb
On defense, they traded Lito Sheppard, who was the best No. 3 corner in the entire league, the way the Eagles were using him, and has been No.1 corner before. They let Brian Dawkins, the face of their defense, walk away for $3 million a year.
The only impact signings they have made, thus far in free agency, is signing tackle Stacey Andrews to replace Runyan, and signing S Sean Jones to replace Dawkins, who has some big shoes to fill replacing a face of the franchise.
They have not done what it takes so far to retain their starters and bolster their roster. They play in arguably the toughest division in football and have not upgraded their roster like the Giants and Redskins have thus far in free agency.
They did good in retaining the ageless wonder Kurt Warner, but this team has many question marks that have not been addressed.
They let RB JJ Arrington get signed away to the Denver Broncos and are not expected to retain disgruntled RB Edgerrin James and his $7 million salary. They have not made an effort to resign FB Terrelle Smith and are facing a problem with disgruntled WR Anquan Boldin, who was vital to their Super Bowl run. In addition, they have not pushed to resign their starting TE from last season, Leonard Pope.
On defense, they lost DE Antonio Smith to the Texans with a five-year deal and have not showed interest in retaining DE Bertrand Berry—both were key forces on the defensive line.
The only position the Cardinals have upgraded, so far in free agency on either side of the ball, has been signing CB signing Bryant McFadden, a former Steeler, to replace the nickel spot vacated by Eric Greens' departure.
Losing these key contributors and doing next to nothing in free agency is a step backward so far this signing period
The Falcons have a terrific 1-2-3 punch on offense with QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, and WR Roddy White—a young trio who should be dynamic for years to come.
They are on the verge of adding TE LJ Smith which should only make Ryan better, and give him a good, big bodied option in the redzone, which he lacked last year. RT Todd Weiner retired, leaving a noticeable hole. Other than that, they have a very solid, young offense that has a chance to be spectacular in the coming years.
The problems on this team rest on the defense.
They lost veteran DT Grady Jackson, two starting linebackers, Michael Boley (5 years $25 million, Giants), and longtime Falcon Keith Brooking (2 years, $6 million, Cowboys). In addition to this, Dominique Foxworth bolted for greener pastures in Baltimore (four years, $28 million), and they have not signed savvy veteran S Lawyer Milloy.
That amounts to half a defense that was even exposed badly in the playoffs by the other-worldly Larry Fitzgerald, who they could not cover even with two players.
Half their defense is gone and was exposed badly in the playoffs, with minimal effort to replace or upgrade, with the exception of veteran LB Mike Peterson. That gives cause for worry.
Their offense, any offense, will have a tough time scoring enough points with the lack of current personnel. The draft has not come yet and I realize that, but you can't draft everything. You have to address at least some issues through free agency, something the Falcons have done very little of thus far in the signing period
Update: Falcons re-signed DL Chauncey Davis for 4 years $14
Feel free to sound off, I would love to hear your comments.