Minion of Satan
Location: Wher I en nd yu begn
It's that time of year...32 Questions for the new NFL season
Training camp is now open for all the NFL teams, almost all the draft picks are signed, and excitement is building. With the preseason on the horizon, I feel it's apropo for my yearly thread.
1. For the second straight year, New England loses its defensive coordinator, and holes in the secondary were not addressed. Can Belichick and Brady overcome the Pats' aging defense and return to the Super Bowl?
2. Speaking of ex-Patriot coaches, Eric Mangini seems committed to rebuilding the Jets from the ground up. Will he be successful, and how long before we see results?
3. Who will win the starting QB job in Buffalo? And will it matter this season?
4. Two former NFC North starting QBs have invaded Miami. Daunte Culpepper will be the man if healthy, but will his surgically repaired knee hold up? And if it doesn't, can Joey Harrington do in Miami what he couldn't do it Detroit?
5. Add Steve McNair to the list of aging expensive stars currently on the Baltimore Ravens' roster. Can this group, which seems to be showing signs of turmoil, stay happy and healthy enough for one more playoff run? And what will happen to Kyle Boller?
6. Will Carson Palmer be healthy enough to pick up from where he left off and help the Bengals make a run at the big game?
7. Year 2 of the Romeo Crennel Era in Cleveland begins. Will the retooled defense hold up? Can Reuben Droughns keep on chugging? And, most interestingly, can Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards come back from their serious injuries and play well?
8. The Steelers face life without The Bus for the first time in quite awhile. Do they have what it takes to go all the way again?
9. Are the Texans idiots or geniuses for passing on Reggie Bush? And will there be substantial improvement this year under offensive whiz Gary Kubiak?
10. This question will be asked every year until it happens...Can Peyton Manning EVER win the big one for Indianapolis?
11. The Jags looked like contenders last season, but got their rears handed to them in the playoffs. Will there be another step forward, a step back, or will they stay where they are?
12. Another rebuilding year looms for the Titans, but they seem to be headed in the right direction. Who will start at QB and RB?
13. The Broncos finally won a playoff game without John Elway for the first time, and seemed set to make another run for the Super Bowl...then stunned many by picking QB Jay Cutler in the first round of the draft. Does this mean that Jake the Snake's days in Denver are numbered? And is this the year beleaguered RB Ron Dayne FINALLY breaks out?
14. A new sherrif's in town in Kansas City. Is Herm Edwards an upgrade over Dick Vermeil as a coach? Will the Chiefs' aging O-line hold up enough for Larry Johnson to run wild again? And with the defense start carrying its weight?
15. Speaking of new sherrifs, a new old sherrif is in town in Oakland, as Art Shell takes over for the team he was once fired from. Does Shell and Aaron Brooks have what it takes to bring "Excellence" back to Raider Country?
16. Phillip Rivers finally steps into the starting QB role in San Diego, and the pressure could not be greater. Will he perform well enough to make Chargers' fans forget Drew Brees?
17. T.O. is a Cowboy. I'm STILL in shock, and it happened months ago. Will his antics be the cause of Bill Parcells' retirement, or will he shut his damn mouth and prove he does, in fact, care more about winning football games than attracting attention to himself?
18. Will the real Eli Manning please stand up? Is it the one who was one of the best QBs in football in the first half of 2005, or is it the one who was so pitiful towards the end of the season and in the playoffs? Also, how will Tiki Barber's retirement talk affect the team?
19. Year 1 A.T.O. (After Terrell Owens) begins in Philadephia Eagles Years. Can Donovan McNabb and company bounce back and prove last year was the result of untimely injuries and off-field drama, or is Rush Limbaugh actually right about something?
20. Mark Brunell proved a lot of critics wrong last season, posting his best stats in years while helping Washington into the playoffs. This year, the biggest addition to the team is offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who oversaw the best running game in the league while in Kansas City. How will the Redskins respond?
21. Every year there seems to be a surprise team in the NFL. Last year, thy name was the Chicago Bears, as a presumed doormat rode the best defense in the NFL and the erratic play of rookie QB Kyle Orton to within two games of the Super Bowl. Will they prove that last year was a sign of things to come, or will we see a meltdown akin to their 2002 season? Also, who will be the opening day starter at RB?
22. Joey Harrington and his lack of leadership, gone. Steve Marriuci and his lax discipline and impotent Wet Toast offense, history. Dick Jauron and his ultra-conservative defense, bye-bye. Enter Cotton Hill-lookalike Rod Marinelli and his promise of better discipline, Mike Martz and his knack for offensive wizardry, Donnie Henderson and his blitz-happy defensive mentality, and vagabond QB Jon Kitna. Will this motley crew finally make the Detroit Lions a better team?
23. Will this be Brett Favre's final years tasting the cold wind of Lambeau Field? Have the Packers addressed their needs enough for #4 to make one final run at the big prize? Who will start at RB? And will Greg Jennings at least partially fill Javon Walker's shoes?
24. Yet another town, yet another new sherriff. Brad Childress cleaned house and is installing a pass-happy West Coast offense similar to the one he ran in Philly. How will the Vikings respond to such a radical change in offensive philosophy? Does the 800-year-old Brad Johnson have it in him to last the season?
25. Ron Mexi...I mean, Michael Vick seems to be on a shorter and shorter leash as time goes on in Atlanta. Will this be his final year in a Falcons' jersey if he can't carry Atlanta deep into the postseason?
26. Steve Smith was PHENOMENAL last year after missing almost all of the previous season because of a broken leg. This year, the Panthers get Kris Jenkins back, and he's healthy and hungry to help a stout defense. Should the Panthers be considered the favorite to win the NFC and go to the Super Bowl?
27. Call the 2005 season a "wash" for the Saints (pun intended). With mega-talented rookie RB Reggie Bush in the saddle, as well as an upgrade at QB in Drew Brees and a new coach in town in Sean Payton, how much will New Orleans improve this year?
28. Notorious choke-artist Chris Simms is now "the man" in Tampa. After an amazing rookie year, WR Michael Clayton had quite the sophmore slump. The Bucs' defense, while still solid, is aging. Can Jon Gruden and co. get back to the Super Bowl?
29. A brand-new state-of-the-art stadium. One of the top five RB's in the league. A rookie QB who is accustomed to winning. A coach in year three of a rebuilding project sitting on a seat getting hotter and hotter. A football franchise that for a long time has been a laughingstock. Sounds like a Hollywood screenplay to me. Seriously, is this the year the Arizona Cardinals FINALLY become a force?
30. Yup, another town, another new sherriff. This one is Scott Linehan, who helped make Daunte Culpepper a star in Minny and went on to revitalize an impotent Miami offense a season ago. Now he's in St. Louis. Will the Rams miss a beat on offense now that Marshall Faulk is all but in the rearview mirror? And will the defense finally shape up?
31. Alex Smith, a former #1 overall draft pick, threw one touchdown pass against 11 interceptions last season as a rookie. How much better will he and the rest of the 'Frisco 49ers be this season (if at all)?
32. With their only significant offseason losses being O-line rock Steve Hutchinson and vagabond WR Joe Jurevicius, can Seattle break the curse of the Super Bowl runner up and return to the playoffs? Speaking of curses, has Shaun Alexander doomed his season from the get-go by being this years' Madden cover boy?
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