San Diego Chargers: What I Know- Ryan Matthews can turn the corner. Showed me a burst I just assumed he didn’t have. I would be shocked if he’s not in Hawaii. 15 touchdowns is within reach. 1,500 yards isn’t out of the question. I wasn’t a fan at first, I am now. You don’t trade up 16 spots very often. Pittsburgh traded up 11 spots with San Diego to get a Pac-10 player in the 2003 Draft. That player turned out to be USC’s Troy Polamalu. So, LaDainian who? Worth the risk, now here comes the reward. Remember the deal to move up in the 2nd round in 2007? Eric Weddle. Good things happen when you roll the dice. Merriman is as good as finished. Igor Olshansky is still missed. Antonio Cromartie will not be missed with Cason and Jammer present. They are still trying to find Rodney Harrison’s replacement at strong safety. At some point Steve Gregory will be replaced by rookie Darrell Stuckey. Philip Rivers can do without Vincent Jackson. Patrick Crayton trade will turn to gold. “The Other Guy”, “The Other Shaun/Shawne” no more, Shaun Phillips is among the NFL’s best at LB. Without him, this defense is in trouble.
What I Don’t Know- Why hasn’t Shaun Phillips received more recognition? More attention is due, I still don’t know why he hasn’t been invited to the Pro Bowl yet. 7 forced fumbles, sacks, and stuffs (tackles for loss). Can stout, space eating, wide body Jamal Williams be forgotten at nose tackle? Who’s the #1 target for Philip without Vincent? Malcom or Legedu? Should there be any worry for Gates and his injury issues? Kevin Burnett and Larry English have the talent, but are they going to make louder noise? Team needs the LB’s to be more disruptive. I’m waiting for more Darren Sproles on offense, will my request be granted or denied? Less than 150 touches last season, not many big plays. Overvalued? Would this team take the AFC North or AFC East?
Kansas City Chiefs: What I Know- Jamaal Charles is literally flying by everyone. He’s in the air accelerating right now. He’s a top five back. Charles is Kansas City’s Chris Johnson. Very similar to “Mr. 2,500”, big-play back with ridiculous wheels. Makes it look too easy. He’s running in the open field as I type. Add Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster to the offense, wow. Jones is a warrior. McCluster is going to be fun to watch. He and Javier Arenas are going to make that return game electric beyond measure. I think he’s going to turn out to be much better than his comparison, Darren Sproles. Don’t sell him short. #1 rated draft class. Eric Berry is Ed Reed meets Adrian Wilson. Berry will revive a lackluster defense. Secondary is looking sharp. Flowers makes things happen. Front seven needs to wake up, especially since they’re playing the 3-4. Derrick Johnson needs a spark, has to join Tamba Hali because he’s the only LB getting the job done. LSU is not getting represented well on Sundays by Dorsey and Jackson. Kendrick Lewis, “the other rookie safety” will be more than just “a guy” replacing Jarrad Page at strong safety. Tony Moeaki gives the TE spot the most hope, skill its seen since Tony Gonzalez. They are going to double 2009’s win total. Triple, not out of the question. This is my sleeper team. Most exciting team looking forward to watch in AFC.
What I Don’t Know- Why is Matt Cassel being jumped on, shredded to pieces? Everyone’s so down on him, he’s still young, developing. I still have high aspirations for the kid from USC. Give him time. I don’t know, but I think they may need a win Week 1 at home against San Diego. This game is bigger for them than the Chargers. Are they ready to contend for the AFC West crown with such a young club? Can they dethrone San Diego, or are they a year away? Why is Mike Vrabel still on this team? Any reason other than the fact he’s familiar with the defensive coordinator? McCluster or Arenas, who reaches the end zone more frequently on special teams? Have a hunch, but I’m yet to be completely sure, but Todd Haley and Charlie Weis are going to produce a top 10 offense. Can they have Cassel get rid of the ball precisely to keep him crisp behind the OL he’s rolling with?
Denver Broncos: What I Know- Tim Tebow is going to make more than just a few starts. He’s going to do well, right away. Believe the hype, he’s going to bring his winning attitude, success over from Gainesville. Saturdays will translate over to Sundays. It’ll be contagious. It’s funny how they ship out Jay Cutler and get Tebow, and on top of that they use the 2nd round pick they received from Miami for Marshall to trade up for the former Heisman Trophy winning Florida Gator. What a change. What a brilliant decision for the franchise. Complete 360, and what a risk. It’s going to pan out, they will get rewarded. The secondary is the best the AFC has to offer. Champ and Dawkins, not stopping now, no let up. Eric Decker is the next Ed McCaffrey. Ryan Clady is more important to team’s prominence than Knowshon Moreno. They need him healthy, he’s their cornerstone. Eddie Royal has to return to rookie form if pass game wants to excel. Defensive front, if healthy, is in good shape, they’ll stop the run. D.J. Williams won’t be called upon to be an alternate for the AFC in 2011. He’s a Pro Bowl starter.
What I Don’t Know- Who’s the #1 WR? No Rod Smith. Can former first round SEC boys Jarvis Moss and Randy Ayers do something? They have zero career sacks. I question the trade of Tony Scheffler, is Daniel Graham a better fit? Why wasn’t another RB picked up? Knowshon has been hurt all throughout the Summer and Correll Buckhalter has been injury prone for the longest time. I cringe whenever I hear his name being mentioned. They may regret letting Ryan Torain go too early. Why isn’t Eddie Royal used exclusively in the slot? Put Decker/Gaffney on the outside. Trading away Peyton Hillis was not smart, could Spencer Larsen fill his shoes? He started a game at FB and LB in 2008 against Atlanta. Why was Mike Nolan relieved from his DC duties? Too soon to trade away 2nd round pick CB Alphonso Smith? You can never have enough corners, right?
Oakland Raiders: What I Know- Nnamdi Asomugha is the top cover corner in the NFL. Rolando McClain will have a similar impact as fellow Crimson Tide alum DeMeco Ryans. Rookie 5th round pick Walter McFadden (Auburn) will replace Chris Johnson sooner rather than later as starter opposite Nnamdi. Thomas Howard shouldn’t be shopped. He should be starting. Quentin Groves, Kamerion Wimbley, and John Henderson were all solid additions to a formidable defensive unit. Defense is top 10 material. Lamarr Houston will make you wonder some Sundays how he dropped to the middle of the second round, what a coup, will turn into gem. He’s a first round talent. Richard Seymour makes this unit special. He’s more than just a player. Many consider this a vaunted defense, they are every bit right. Too bad the offense isn’t ready to follow the D’s footsteps. Offense is holding Raiders back. Three parts in Oakland: The defense, the good, the offense, the bad, Al Davis, the ugly.
What I Don’t Know- Why this team continues to underachieve. They are exactly like the Jets. Michael Bush is Shonn Greene. Defenses are both ultra-talented. Tom Cable is no Rex Ryan, could be the big difference. They should have no excuses, getting over the five win hump, right? Why is Darren McFadden all but given up on already? Could they be a good head coach away from turning this project around? I can’t figure out a major weakness other than the team’s inability to complete the big pass. Do you trade some of your star defenders for some offensive firepower?
San Francisco 49ers: What I Know- Super Bowl contender. Mike Singletary is a miracle worker. Couldn’t choose a half dozen of coaches I would want instead of Samurai Mike. Vernon Davis went from bust to best TE in football. I know what I’m getting from this team, 100% certain, they are on the cusp of becoming a team of destiny. Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree are healthy, I see no reason this team can’t compete with the NFC’s elite. Alex Smith is good, but that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Very ordinary. Smart to stick with him. Safe move. Ted Ginn will change a couple of games via return department. Patrick Willis is a playmaking powerhouse at LB. He is unreal. I would be shocked if he’s not the DPOY in the NFC. Front three, as rock-solid as they come. Spikes and the rest of the cast around Willis are aggressive. They can create their share of noise. I like the rook from Penn State, Navarro Bowman. Candlestick will be host to more than one postseason contest.
What I Don’t Know- Why didn’t the team make a more concentrated effort to pursue Donovan McNabb. Ponder that missed opportunity. I guess they felt they were not in a good position to gamble. I thought it was a match made in Heaven. Is the secondary prepared to make a jump? They have the pieces, now its time to back up the front seven. What’s Brian Westbrook’s role? Anthony Dixon is ready to take the rock. I don’t know how many Niner fans supported Singletary right off the bat. I wonder if they thought he was too rigid, convicted at first.
Arizona Cardinals: What I Know- Derek Anderson is a good QB. I like the decision to go with as the starter and release Matt Leinart. Anquan Boldin will not be missed. Trio of Breaston, Doucet, and Stephen Williams are more than capable. On the other hand, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle should be missed. However, with that being said, rookie Daryl Washington (TCU) will fill in for Dansby admirably. As for Rolle, 2nd year guy Rashad Johnson (Alabama) should be better this season. I like him more than off-season acquisition Kerry Rhodes, who’s play has dropped off considerably since ’07. Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are more questions, than answers. They could be liabilities on the outside, very important area in 3-4. Team needs to go a different direction, travel younger route. Coverage could be trouble spot, especially if second corner Greg Toler doesn’t establish himself early on. Dockett and Campbell, undoubtedly two major strengths up front at end. Both insanely powerful in penetration to QB. I think this team is better off in the 4-3. Better influx of defensive linemen than linebackers. You could argue that Rodgers-Cromartie and Wilson are the top two athletes at their respective positions. This group is Top 10 worthy.
What I Don’t Know- Why I hear Max Hall being groomed the starter in 2011. That’s scary. Chris Wells is an enigma. He should be one of the best backs in the NFC. Good thing Tim Hightower is reliable. Will the guards be able to hold up? Faneca is getting any younger, and Lutui is always out of shape. Was trading Wells a smart move? Why didn’t they draft an offensive lineman with their 1st round pick? They could’ve used another one instead of another defensive lineman. TE will be once again a weakness. Why didn’t the team address this big area of need in a deep TE draft class? This team is hard to figure out, I could see anywhere between 4-8 wins. That’s a wide range.
Seattle Seahawks: What I Know- This team is always hurt. I like the move to get Pete Carroll. Justin Forsett/Leon Washington will form a successful duo at RB. If Matt Hasselbeck stays healthy, I could see this team being more than respectable. I love their stadium. Easily in my Top 5. Great football city. As much as I like 1-2 punch of Forsett/Washington, they will regret passing up on C.J. Spiller for Russell Okung, who’s already hurt. He could’ve been the face of the franchise for many years to come. Will Forsett or Washington ever be a feature back like Spiller? No. Sometimes you have to go for the home run in the draft, and for the past two years they have been too safe. They missed out on Mark Sanchez and Jimmy Clausen, this will come back to bite them big time. Charlie Whitehurst is not the solution after Hasselbeck. He wasn’t even good in College at Clemson. Golden Tate is a gamer. Outstanding big-play threat. He’s tough, and will bring swagger to receiver corps. Earl Thomas looks like a natural at free safety, he’s a superb athlete. Chris Clemons is a double-digit sack candidate. They miss Patrick Kerney more than you would think. He was someone they could count on defensively to get to the QB. Letting go of T.J. Houshmandzadeh was the move to execute.
What I Don’t Know- If passing up on Matt Leinart was unwise. I rather have him than Whitehurst. Why is Julius Jones still on the roster? He’s lackluster. Will the team miss Rob Sims? The team has put together a nice unit, but Sims was really solid at left guard. Replacements are there, so you can’t really question the decision. With that being said, why draft Okung when you needed offense. Seattle needs some playmakers in the worst way, and Mike Williams is the response to its most urgent and glaring weakness? Can John Carlson be the #1 guy for Hasselebeck to rely upon? I can’t Lawyer Milloy is still in the league, let alone a starter. Aaron Curry, where was he last season? He’s good, but will never be anything special.
St. Louis Rams: What I Know- I take back my original stance on Sam Bradford. My status has changed, he looks really sharp, on target. He makes quick reads, I like his make-up. Very similar to Matt Ryan, whom they passed up on in the 2008 draft for DE Chris Long. Mark Clayton acquisition was much needed. I’m in total support of this move. He can make plays down the field, and gain real estate after the grab. Mardy Gilyard is an impressive story. More importantly, he’s a gritty player who was a theft with the 99th pick in the draft. He will play like a 1st round selection. Bargain. Has a bit of Donald Driver and Hines Ward to him. With the OL in place, Steven Jackson will be fight Frank Gore for second best back next to “All Day” in NFC. The offense looks better than it did in June and July. Retaining O.J. Atogwe was right decision. They have no else to count on in the secondary. Teams will pass on them with ease. Worst defensive backfield in the NFL. However, Jerome Murphy (3rd round, South Florida) will become a starter, and a good one. Keep an eye on George Selvie also from South Florida. The former Bull was considered a Top 10 choice after his sophomore season.
What I Don’t Know- If Chris Long will ever show dominance. Is James Laurinaitis a keeper, Pro Bowl for years to come, or just a solid starting middle linebacker who can tackle the ball carrier? Can he make plays or just prevent them from occurring? Hoomanawanui (rookie TE), with a name like that, will he become a common name, factor by season’s end? Will Steven Jackson or Sam Bradford go down first? I don’t know, but don’t you think they should go back to the Jackie Slater/Jack Youngblood/Jim Everett/Henry Ellard/”Flipper” Anderson/Jerome Bettis L.A. Rams unis full-time? How about a couple of games at Busch Stadium if Bradford’s hurt? Cold weather, enhanced run game, different feel/look? Good idea?