Biggest Questions Facing Every NFL Team Following the Offseason

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystJune 19, 2015

Biggest Questions Facing Every NFL Team Following the Offseason

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    Tom Brady's suspension looms large for defending champion Patriots.
    Tom Brady's suspension looms large for defending champion Patriots.Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    The NFL offseason is officially over. In roughly six weeks, teams will report to training camp to get ready for the 50th season of the Super Bowl era. 

    Much has changed in the NFL since the last time teams stepped between the white lines to play a game. There are several new general managers and head coaches in the league. There is even an owner going into his first full season—Terry Pegula of the Buffalo Bills. Rosters have been revamped and in some cases barely resemble the one that team put on the field last year.

    Despite their best efforts, every team is still facing questions following the offseason program. We'll find out some of those answers between now and training camp, others during training camp and the preseason and others maybe not until the regular season or beyond.

    It's these questions that make the NFL so interesting. Last year at this time, everyone and their grandmother Gert thought the Dallas Cowboys would have the worst defense on the planet, but they finished 15th in points allowed and 25th in yards per play allowed.

Atlanta Falcons: Can the Running Game Help QB Matt Ryan?

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    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons will have a new offensive system in 2015, but that's nothing new for quarterback Matt Ryan and his No. 1 wide receiver, Julio Jones. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has plenty of talent in the passing game, but the perpetually poor running game needs help.

    Shanahan will install the zone-blocking scheme in hopes of getting production on the ground to take some of the pressure off the passing game. The problem is that the offensive line is still in flux and the No. 1 running back will likely be Devonta Freeman or rookie Tevin Coleman—both unproven NFL commodities.

    For a scheme that requires the offensive line and the running backs to be on the same page, the uncertainty at key positions on offense could be a major problem. The zone-blocking scheme isn't a cure-all for the running game, especially in year one.

    Shanahan's offense in Cleveland last year improved from 28th to 17th in rushing yards, but with a lackluster quarterback situation he had to commit to it. The Browns had the sixth-most attempts and finished 28th in yards per carry. He didn't do that or have as much success in Washington until the personnel improved.

    It's been a mixed bag for Shanahan's ground game. If the talent can't get the job done in 2015, it will be easier for him to lean on the passing game than his previous stops. Along with an upgraded defense, that still might be enough to win the NFC South, but the running game will need to be productive for the Falcons to become legitimate contenders in the NFC. 

Carolina Panthers: Can the Offensive Line Protect Cam Newton?

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    Left tackle Michael Oher was an uninspiring offseason addition for the Panthers.
    Left tackle Michael Oher was an uninspiring offseason addition for the Panthers.Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    According to Pro Football Focus, only two offensive lines in the league were worse in pass protection than the Carolina Panthers in 2014. So what did the Panthers do to address the position? They brought in Michael Oher, who has been one of the worst right tackles in the league over the last couple of years and will move him back to left tackle. 

    Quarterback Cam Newton needs help in 2015. If he has to use his legs on a regular basis, that only puts him in harm's way more frequently. The Panthers just gave Newton a huge contract extension, so they can't afford for him to get hurt running for his life.

    If pass protection remains a problem, the Panthers can always compensate by running the ball. Of course, that could prove difficult if running back Jonathan Stewart can't stay healthy or the offensive line struggles to block. Stewart hasn't played a full season since 2012 and the offensive line was just adequate in run blocking in 2014, so they might not be able to count on a run-heavy approach. 

New Orleans Saints: Which Defense Shows Up?

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    Rob Ryan's defense has been hit or miss over the past two years.
    Rob Ryan's defense has been hit or miss over the past two years.Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Two years ago, the Saints had a top-four defense in points allowed. Last year, they were 28th in points allowed. Not a lot changed from a personnel standpoint, which makes the defensive issues last year pretty stunning.

    Despite the issues, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is still running the show. The Saints also brought back Dennis Allen after his stint as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos and as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. 

    Together, Ryan and Allen are trying to simplify the defense, per Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com. The hope is that they can play faster like they did in 2013.

    If the 2013 defense shows up, the Saints could be legitimate contenders. If the 2014 defense show up, the Saints could be in for another long year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Will Jameis Winston Be an Instant Star?

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    In recent years, we've seen different types of quarterback prospects come into the NFL. There are the Andrew Lucks and Russell Wilsons of the world, but there are also Teddy Bridgewaters and even a Blake Bortles. That is to say that rookie quarterbacks come in instant impact types, delayed impact types and no impact types.

    Which type is Jameis Winston? 

    The Bucs really need Winston to be an instant impact type. He's going to start, there's little doubt about that, so they can't really afford for him to be another Bortles. He shouldn't be, but do we ever know for sure?

    Winston is supposed to be a pro-ready quarterback, but it remains a major question if he can play at a high level in the NFL as a rookie. Will he need time as many rookies do? We are going to find out pretty quickly once Winston faces a live rush.

Buffalo Bills: Can They Get Adequate Quarterback Play?

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    Can the Bills get enough production from Matt Cassel?
    Can the Bills get enough production from Matt Cassel?Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    When the dust settles, Matt Cassel will probably be the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. It could be Tyrod Taylor and possibly even EJ Manuel, but the safe money is on the proven commodity early in the season. 

    Unfortunately for the Bills, Cassel has proven to be a below-average quarterback. His 59 percent career completion percentage is evidence enough of his struggles. If he doesn't perform, he likely won't be able to keep the other quarterbacks from getting their shot. 

    Taylor hasn't proven anything, having been a backup for his first four years in the league. Manuel has only proven he has a long way to go if he's ever going to be an adequate starter. No one is going to be that confident running either of those guys out there as the starter unless Cassel fails. 

    Defensively, the Bills are so good they will probably win quite a few games with average quarterback play. After all, Kyle Orton went 7-5 as a starter for the Bills last season. That's great news for whichever guy gets the job.

    When it isn't clear is if they will get enough from the quarterbacks they have on the roster to win games. The early results this offseason have been ugly at times, as you might expect. The three players vying for the starting job hit rock bottom Wednesday at minicamp after one of their better performances Tuesday, per Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com

    The entire Bills season may hinge on the play of the quarterback, whoever that happens to be. 

Miami Dolphins: Will Offseason Spending Spree Pay Off?

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    The Miami Dolphins gave defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh a record-breaking contract in free agency and quarterback Ryan Tannehill a big extension. Now, the Dolphins have to prove an offseason spending spree can pay off.

    The Dolphins haven't won the AFC East since 2008, when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was hurt. They won on a tiebreaker and Brady's Patriots have dominated in every other year except one since 2001.

    It's annoying, especially to Dolphins fans.

    The Dolphins are trying everything to overtake the Patriots, including spending money. Gobs of money. It rarely works, but if it's going to it's going to be because the players they signed are very good. Suh, for example, is one of the best in the game.

    Will it work? It might, especially if Brady misses a few games.

New England Patriots: Will Tom Brady's Suspension Stand?

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    Jon Barash/Associated Press

    We know the story. The New England Patriots were busted for some funny business with the footballs during a playoff game that may or may not have resulted in illegally deflated footballs. The team paid a steep price that included draft picks and a fine and quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games.

    Brady's appeal still hasn't been heard by the commissioner, which means the whole saga now guarantees the NFL news coverage during a window that is normally dead for the league. Genius move.

    The suspension could be reduced to two games, one game or no games. No one knows for sure what will happen, but the Patriots didn't fight their part of it in hopes that Brady would get leniency. 

New York Jets: Can Geno Smith Rebound?

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Lacking any great alternatives at quarterback, the New York Jets are trying to rebuild Geno Smith into the starting quarterback many thought he was coming out of the draft a couple years ago. Obviously, Smith has struggled in his two years as a starter, having completed just 57.5 percent of his passes. He does have 25 touchdowns, but he also has 34 interceptions and he's fumbled 16 times. 

    The Jets have a great defense and added pieces like Brandon Marshall at wide receiver and Zac Stacy at running back. Those players should help Smith, but if he's still struggling a week or two into camp, the Jets may have to consider backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

    If Smith can rebound, the Jets could be a team to watch in AFC East. If not, expect plenty of Fitzpatrick until the team has a chance to draft a replacement quarterback. 

Chicago Bears: How Improved Is the Defense?

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    Will Pernell McPhee be the Bears' X-factor on defense in 2015?
    Will Pernell McPhee be the Bears' X-factor on defense in 2015?Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Bears revamped a terrible defense from a year ago, but they didn't bring in many big names. The high-profile signing was former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee, who was impressive last season as a situational player.

    There's no guarantee McPhee will be as productive with lesser players around him and playing more snaps, but that's the risk the Bears are taking. Aside from his addition, the Bears didn't bring in any other notable young talent on defense.

    For a defense that finished near the bottom in points allowed, yards allowed and yards per play allowed, a bigger overhaul was probably necessary. The Bears will need players to develop quickly. It won't matter if quarterback Jay Cutler is playing great or horrible if the defense can't keep the score close.

    Training camp should give us a glimpse into just how much better this defense will be in 2015. Up until this point the defense hasn't been wearing pads or been allowed to hit.

Detroit Lions: What Will Defense Look Like Without Suh, Fairley and Mosley?

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Losing defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J Mosley in the same offseason is brutal planning. If the Lions hadn't traded for veteran Haloti Ngata, it would look a lot worse. 

    Still, the defense in Detroit will look a lot different than it did last season. Last year, the Lions finished third in points allowed and yards per play allowed. They were second in total yards allowed and first in rush yards allowed. It was a dominant defense thanks in large part to Suh, Fairley and Mosley. 

    Repeating that kind of performance without those players may be nearly impossible. All three defensive tackles finished with positive run defense grades on Pro Football Focus, and can rush the quarterback as well.

    Ngata is still a good player, but he's can't replace three guys with good production. The Lions may not miss just Suh, but it's hard to believe they won't miss having all three.

Green Bay Packers: What Will Play-Calling Be Like Under Tom Clements?

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy gave up offensive play-calling duties this offseason. Tom Clements will now call the plays for the Packers as the assistant head coach on offense after serving as the team's offensive coordinator.

    This is a fairly huge development for the Packers as McCarthy has called the plays since he was hired in 2006. The Packers finished sixth in scoring last season and have averaged a seventh-place finish under McCarthy. 

    What will the play-calling be like under Clements? Will he be an extension of McCarthy or his own man? Will the Packers see gains as a result of the change?

    There isn't much room for improvement, so Clements is in a tough spot. If he does well, there could be a head coaching job waiting for him in 2016.

Minnesota Vikings: Can the Offensive Line Protect Teddy Bridgewater?

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    Matt Kalil needs to play better for Vikings in 2015.
    Matt Kalil needs to play better for Vikings in 2015.Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    The Minnesota Vikings appear to have very few holes. The return of running back Adrian Peterson, a promising young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and a talented defense are just a few of the highlights. 

    There is one question and that's if the offensive line can keep Bridgewater clean in the pocket. Last year, Pro Football Focus graded the line 25th in pass protection. That's not good enough on a team with a young quarterback. 

    Left tackle Matt Kalil was the primary issue. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed 12 sacks, seven hits and 36 hurries of the quarterback. If the Vikings don't get better pass protection from the offensive line, it could negatively affect Bridgewater or, worse, get him hurt. 

Baltimore Ravens: Can They Replace Pernell McPhee and Haloti Ngata?

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    Haloti Ngata (right) had been one of the Ravens' defensive stalwarts for years.
    Haloti Ngata (right) had been one of the Ravens' defensive stalwarts for years.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Make no mistake, veteran defensive lineman Haloti Ngata can still play. According to Pro Football Focus, Ngata was the third best defensive player on the Ravens last season. The Baltimore Ravens traded him, but that doesn't mean they won't miss him.

    The team's top defender per Pro Football Focus was Pernell McPhee, who signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent. To lose both McPhee and Ngata in one offseason could be tough on one of the league's top defenses from a year ago. 

    The Ravens lost linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger without issue in 2013, but that's because they had players like McPhee to replace them. Who is the next player to develop in the wake of offseason losses? Can they even replace Ngata, who has been one of the foundations of the defense for years? 

    Defensive end Timmy Jernigan seems ready to take on a larger role, but it's not as clear who else is going to help the Ravens in 2015. It will probably be a collective effort, which may not yield as consistent of results as the past.

Cincinnatti Bengals: Who Is Going to Pressure the Opposing Quarterback?

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    Michael Johnson is back in the fold in Cincinnati after a year in Tampa Bay.
    Michael Johnson is back in the fold in Cincinnati after a year in Tampa Bay.Associated Press

    Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals had 20 sacks, the lowest in the league. Their sack percentage was also a league low, so it wasn't that teams were just running more often than they were passing. 

    The Bengals went out in free agency and did almost nothing to address the problem. They brought back Michael Johnson, which is solid, but did little else to bolster the pass rush. Provided they are a little healthier in 2015, they should improve a bit, but it's hard to figure out by how much. 

    There is plenty of talent on the roster in Cincinnati, but it is clearly going to have to manufacture sacks and pressure in 2015. Can it even do that without speed off the edge?

Cleveland Browns: Can Josh McCown Get It Done?

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    Josh McCown is an uninspiring starter, but can he at least be average in 2015?
    Josh McCown is an uninspiring starter, but can he at least be average in 2015?David Richard/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns are in the inenviable position of having a first-round pick from a year ago at quarterback who isn't starting. Not only that, but Johnny Manziel is basically an afterthought. 

    Josh McCown, who is the definition of a journeyman, will very likely start at quarterback. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has actually worked with McCown before when both were with the Oakland Raiders in 2007.

    Right now, DeFilippo is praising McCown, but that's what he's supposed to do. What we really need to know is if the Browns are going to get the McCown from last year in Tampa Bay or the one from Chicago in 2013.

    The one in Chicago looked like a starter, but the one in Tampa Bay looked like he didn't belong in the league. If Manziel isn't going to steal the job from McCown during the preseason, McCown will have to play some of his best football for the Browns to escape yet another disappointing season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Can Troy Polamalu Be Replaced?

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    Shamarko Thomas is taking over for Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh.
    Shamarko Thomas is taking over for Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    If we are being honest, safety Troy Polamalu chose a good time to retire. His play had declined, but not to the point where the Steelers didn't want him anymore. However, he did leave the team in a bit of a pinch defensively. 

    Mike Mitchell will play one safety spot while third-year safety Shamarko Thomas starts on the other side. Mitchell has become a solid safety and is versatile enough to play inside or deep. Thomas has barely played, but typically young safeties are better defending the run than the pass. 

    Thomas hasn't been able to get on the field consistently enough to showcase his skills. Now he will. Can he replace Polamalu's play? It's possible, but he's a huge unknown right now. 

Denver Broncos: Can Manning Get over the Hump with Help from Kubiak?

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Quarterback Peyton Manning is used to doing things his way. In the past, he's had a lot of say in what plays are called because he changes them at the line. He also had a lot of input on which offensive players play.

    Denver Broncos general manager John Elway hired Gary Kubiak as head coach to get Manning and the team over the hump they've been stuck on for the past three years. Kubiak is installing his offense and adjusting it for Manning, which means less input for the star quarterback.

    "To me if I said I liked it or didn't like it, it would mean that my opinion mattered. Which it doesn't," Manning told Mike Klis of 9News Denver. "It's our job to execute the plays and to make it work. I'm learning. I'm learning about the requirements of me."

    Kubiak has taken the burden of being the offensive coordinator on the field off of Manning and is allowing him just be a football player again. If it pays off, Manning will become an expert in Kubiak's system, but he may also be sharper mentally and physically in January. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Will New Receivers Make Impact on the Offense?

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    Will Alex Smith throw into tight windows to maximize the talents of his wide receivers like Jeremy Maclin?
    Will Alex Smith throw into tight windows to maximize the talents of his wide receivers like Jeremy Maclin?Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was a great signing by the Chiefs. Wide receiver Chris Conley was an equally good draft pick. The two combined should be the team's top two receivers in 2015, but what will that look like?

    In the past, quarterback Alex Smith has been unwilling to throw into traffic or deep. Will Maclin get anywhere near his production from last year in Philadelphia if all he runs are slants?

    If Smith isn't more willing to throw to his wide receivers, their additions could be a moot point to some extent. With running back Jamaal Charles and tight end like Travis Kelce, it's easy enough for Smith to lean on them instead of trying to throw passing in traffic to Maclin or Conley. 

Oakland Raiders: Will a Young Secondary Be Productive?

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    There are a lot of unanswered questions about the Oakland Raiders, but there are certainly fewer than in past years. This year, the biggest question is if the young secondary can produce at an acceptable level.

    D.J. Hayden, T.J. Carrie and Keith McGill are the top three cornerbacks. The veteran safety nets are gone, so these young players can sink or swim in 2015.

    The talent is there, but it'll be up to new head coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to get the best out of them. If Hayden doesn't become a good player this year, it may never happen. The 2013 first-round pick would be an epic bust if that's the case.

San Diego Chargers: Where's the Pass Rush Coming From?

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    Jeremiah Attaochu must be productive for Chargers in 2015.
    Jeremiah Attaochu must be productive for Chargers in 2015.Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    The San Diego Chargers did a great job addressing their needs this offseason with one exception. The good was that they drafted running back Melvin Gordon to replace Ryan Mathews and signed left guard Orlando Franklin to solidify the offensive line. 

    What they didn't do was find another pass-rusher. The Chargers will need second-year player Jeremiah Attaochu and veteran linebacker Melvin Ingram to do most of the damage in passing situations. Ingram isn't a great pass-rusher and Attaochu was still raw at the end of last year.

    If the Chargers can't figure out how to get to the quarterback and teams take early leads, it's going to be hard for them to run the ball like they intend. The Chargers may have to rely on blitzes more than they'd like in 2015.

Houston Texans: Can Hoyer Fend off Mallett, Savage?

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    Brian Hoyer didn't make the most of his shot in Cleveland.
    Brian Hoyer didn't make the most of his shot in Cleveland.Associated Press

    The Houston Texans are a lot like the Buffalo Bills. They have a very good defense but the quarterback situation looms large.

    Brian Hoyer is the likely starter Week 1, but Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage will try to push him for the spot. It ultimately comes down to how each player plays in the preseason and early in the season.  

    Hoyer has as many career touchdowns as interceptions and a career 56.5 percent completion percentage. He needs to be better than that, which means he has very little room for error. Head coach Bill O'Brien will grow impatient if Hoyer doesn't take care of the ball. 

    It could get really ugly if none of the three quarterbacks is a capable option. One possibility down the line is Matt McGloin, who is now running as the No. 3 quarterback for the Oakland Raiders behind Derek Carr and Christian Ponder. O'Brien coached McGloin at Penn State and it would be a natural fit if he's cut. 

Indianapolis Colts: Can the Defense Support Andrew Luck and the Offense?

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    Does the aging Trent Cole still have some gas to give the Colts defense?
    Does the aging Trent Cole still have some gas to give the Colts defense?Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    The Indianapolis Colts have a gaggle of good wide receivers, two solid tight ends and the best young quarterback in football. Scoring points won't be a problem for Chuck Pagano's team with Andrew Luck throwing the ball, but there are three phases of the game.

    Defensively, the Colts might be in trouble. They finished in the middle of the pack in most of the significant defensive categories last year. 

    Robert Mathis is still recovering from a torn Achilles injury and won't be ready for training camp. He's 34 and the Colts may not be able to count on him. 

    Linebacker Trent Cole was a good addition to the front seven that was weak without Mathis last season, but will it be enough to make them Super Bowl contenders? The defense doesn't need to be great, but they do need to be better than last season to give Luck the defensive support he deserves. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Can Blake Bortles Take Next Step Developmental Step?

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    It was not a good rookie year for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, but that's all in the past. What matters now to the Jaguars is that Bortles learned from those mistakes and takes the next step in his development in 2015. 

    There was a reason the Jaguars originally wanted Bortles to sit on the bench for a year. Patience was important because the team knew he needed some time to learn and make adjustments. 

    He doesn't have to be great in 2015 as long as he's showing real signs of progress. The Jaguars have given him more weapons like running back T.J. Yeldon in 2015, which should help. 

    Questions about the Jaguars abound, but none is bigger than if Bortles will start to develop.

Tennessee Titans: How Much Will Whisenhunt Bend Offense for Mariota?

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Up until training camp, everything is talk. The coaches can talk all offseason long about simplification and playing fast and tailoring their schemes to the talent on the roster, but when the season arrives it's all about winning.

    The major question in Tennessee is how much of the offense will be tailored to Marcus Mariota's strengths. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he'd use some spread concepts if the team drafted him. He continues to say he'll adjust to Mariota's strengths.

    Right now, it's just talk. How Whisenhunt actually adjusts to Mariota remains an open question. 

Dallas Cowboys: Can Joseph Randle Replace DeMarco Murray?

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    Sharon Ellman/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys don't need a yard-for-yard replacement for running back DeMarco Murray's 2014 season, but they do need a highly productive running back. Last year, Murray helped quarterback Tony Romo tremendously.

    Joseph Randle is the favorite to take over for Murray, but is he ready to replace the majority of Murray's production? That's what everyone wants to know. How much credit should the offensive line get for Murray's 2014 season? 

    Owner Jerry Jones made a very interesting move letting Murray get away to a division foe. If Randle can't make things work, the team may shift to Darren McFadden at running back, who wasn't able to get the job done with the Raiders and was benched last year. 

New York Giants: Will Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz Be Ready for Week 1?

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    Cruz and Beckham have been sidelined for most of the offseason program with injuries.
    Cruz and Beckham have been sidelined for most of the offseason program with injuries.Associated Press

    Odell Beckham Jr. sat out most of organized team activities and all of minicamp with a sore hamstring. He missed four games as a rookie to a hamstring injury, so it's a little bit of a concerning trend. Hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger, especially when a guy tries hard to get back as Beckham might want to do.

    Victor Cruz is coming off a nasty torn patellar tendon. Per NJ.com, the plan is for him to practice when training camp opens, but there's no way to know how he will respond after so much time off. He could be limited for weeks for all we know.

    The New York Giants really need both Beckham and Cruz at full strength Week 1, which is obviously the plan. There's no reason to panic yet, but they are so important that their health and status are the biggest questions facing the Giants right now. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Will Chip Kelly's Roster Makeover Work?

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Chip Kelly wrestled personnel control away from general manager Howie Roseman and proceeded to make bold moves all offseason. He signed not one, but two of the top running backs on the market in DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews after trading LeSean McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

    Linebacker Trent Cole is gone. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is gone. The starting quarterback is Sam Bradford after he orchestrated a swap with the St. Louis Rams for Nick Foles. A lot has changed in a short amount of time in Philly.

    Kelly's approach is either going to backfire on him or be wildly successful. There are a lot of moving parts, but they are Kelly's moving parts now and not just randomly assembled pieces. 

Washington Redskins: Is This Robert Griffin III's Last Hurrah in D.C.?

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Robert Griffin III has had an interesting career. It seems like so long ago that he was an amazing rookie. Three years is apparently a light-year by NFL standards. The 2015 season might be his last chance to recapture some of the magic from 2012.

    He's older now...and wiser. Griffin is getting the coaching he needs and he's actually soaking it up. On Tuesday, he had his best day of practice this offseason.

    “And I told [Griffin] earlier, I told him ‘You screwed up,’" quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh said, via Jacob Feldman of the Washington Post. “’Because now that you did it once, we are going to expect you to do it all the time.’”

    It could be Griffin's last hurrah or he could be making a comeback at age 25. It's frankly hard to tell what is going to happen.

Arizona Cardinals: Is There Enough Talent on Defense?

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    Patrick Peterson needs a big season for the Cardinals.
    Patrick Peterson needs a big season for the Cardinals.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Todd Bowles landed the job as head coach of the New York Jets for his work as the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator last season. The defense simply wasn't that talented, but they finished fifth in the league in points allowed despite finishing 25th in yards per play allowed. Great defense in the red zone was the key.

    Unfortunately for the Cardinals, great defense in the red zone is notoriously hard to sustain from year to year, especially without an uber-talented roster on defense. The Cardinals talent on defense seems to have actually taken a step back from last year.

    In-house candidate James Bettcher will take over as defensive coordinator in 2015, which will ensure scheme continuity, but he simply doesn't have a lot to work with in his first year calling the defensive plays. Questions abound at all three levels of his defense.

    Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is gone, as is defensive tackle Dan Williams and defensive end Darnell Dockett. Defensive end Tommy Kelly remains a free agent and Matt Shaughnessy is moving from linebacker to take over that spot.

    Defensive lineman Corey Peters and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon were solid additions, but on paper it still looks like they lost more defensively than they added this offseason. It doesn't look like they significantly improved a pass rush that finished 25th in sack percentage last year. The run defense may also regress without Williams and with the smaller Shaughnessy at defensive end.

    Cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Calais Campbell give the Cardinals a fighting chance defensively, but they can't do it alone. There are many defenses with less star power, but they need others around them to develop.

    No matter how good head coach Bruce Arians' offense looks with Carson Palmer back under center, the defense will need to play well for the Cardinals to be Super Bowl contenders. 

San Francisco 49ers: Can Colin Kaepernick Return to Form?

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    It wasn't long ago that Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers was the next great young quarterback. He took his team to the Super Bowl in 2013 and lost by three points. Then things went off the rails for him and the 49ers a little bit. 

    Jim Harbaugh is gone and Jim Tomsula is the head coach now, so things will be done a little differently. Kaepernick, for better or worse, took on some of the traits of his former head coach. Maybe a fresh start with Tomsula is just what he needed to reboot his career. 

    Kaepernick is still young and talented, so there's nothing preventing him from turning things around. The 49ers could use a big year from Kaepernick as the team attempts to rebuild after the sudden retirements of linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and right tackle Anthony Davis

Seattle Seahawks: Can the Offensive Line Protect Russell Wilson?

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    The Seahawks need to give Russell Wilson more protection in 2015.
    The Seahawks need to give Russell Wilson more protection in 2015.Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks didn't do a very good job protecting Russell Wilson in 2014. Sure, he holds onto the ball longer than any other quarterback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, but that's a different issue. Part of the reason he is holding the ball is because he has to slide around in the pocket away from pressure to make a throw.

    The team recognized the weakness and devoted draft resources to the problem, but they really might not be ready to be productive starters for a while. Offensive line coach Tom Cable has his hands full trying to get these young players ready to play.

    Wilson's mobility will continue to serve him well and hide this weakness to some extent. The Seahawks still look poised to be a contender once again. 

St. Louis Rams: Is Nick Foles the Solution at Quarterback?

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Rams traded for quarterback Nick Foles, who lost his job last year to Mark Sanchez in Philadelphia. In 2013, Foles was much better than he was last year.

    Which Foles are the Rams getting? Can he play consistently enough to be the short- and long-term option for the team? Those questions remain unanswered, but it won't be long before we get an idea.

    Foles will have a good defense and running game in his corner, so there really won't be many excuses. He may not be any better than Bradford, but at least he'll probably be available.