As the NFL season seems to fall further and further away from reality, we here at TSHQ like to look at the positives, or at least pretend like the NFL season will still be happening. You see we have seen plenty of team needs articles and the fact is we as fans know what the hell our teams need in order to not just compete, but be a contender.
So instead of breaking down all the team needs, I figured it be better to talk about exactly what each team needs to do in order to not just compete, but to move into the contenders status and no I am not talking about which players they need to sign, what trades need to be made, or what personnel changes need to occur. No, I am talking about what each team needs in order to become a contender.
Arizona Cardinals: Everyone knows what the Cards need; they have to find a QB in the worst way. So when Kevin Kolb becomes available it appears that he will be a Cardinal, at least that is what the experts say.
Is that what the Cards really need? Is that what will get them into contender’s status?
Well it could definitely help, but what this team needs more than anything is an influx of talent along the offensive line.
A lot of people are starting to whisper about Beanie Wells being a bust, and I say possibly. Honestly thought, how the hell would we know? He has had to run behind an abysmal offensive line every year he has played here. Add to the fact that Alan Faneca has taken his talents to the retirement home and Deuce Lutui, the team’s best offensive lineman last season, could have a new home next season, and the idea of bringing in Kolb, only for him to be killed is a little less exciting.
Atlanta Falcons: Sure you could say they addressed one of their glaring needs with the all-in play to get Julio Jones in this year’s draft, but my opinion of this team differs from everyone else’s.
You see people continually rave about Matt Ryan, about how the Falcons are on the cusp of breaking through, yet here they are still.
What they need can’t be found this off-season, it couldn’t be found in the draft, and no free agent acquisition is going to finalize it.
They have to actually win a playoff game. Scratch that, they have to actually SHOW UP for a playoff game.
It was cute in 2008 when Ryan was a rookie and just seemed happy to be there. An injury cost him two games in 2009 and likely a spot in the playoffs, then 2010 happened.
The Falcons didn’t just get beat by the Packers; they were absolutely humiliated, at home, after rolling through much of the regular season.
If this team is going to make its move to contender status, it has to be done this season, this year, because winning 10-13 games a season is great, but it means nothing if you are perpetually going to be one and done in the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens: You could say they need an infusion of young talent on the defensive side of the ball, but I disagree, what they need in order to not just be a contender, but remain there is their wide receivers to catch the damn ball.
People can say that Ray Lewis can’t go on forever, that Ed Reed is another year older, but guess what; they have continually produced at a high level every season and remained healthy, relatively speaking.
Offensively they have put pieces together around Joe Flacco for him to continue to grow as a QB and produce, except for that little problem of dropped balls.
You want to win a Super Bowl, you want to be the best in the world, you can’t have your playmakers, yeah I am talking to you Anquan Boldin I don’t give a damn if you are my favorite player in the league, dropping potential game winning touchdowns.
Ray Lewis is going to have to hang them up one day, and with that may go your chances of being perpetual contenders, so produce now, or live if the world of if’s and buts’.
Buffalo Bills: I feel sorry for Bills fans I really do. It seems as though they sold their soul for those infamous Jim Kelly teams.
Yes they have had some playoff squads since then, but it isn’t the playoffs that we are talking about, it is about becoming a contender again.
What do the Bills need in order for that to happen? A miracle? A change in location?
No, the Bills need to hire a head coach with a plan, with a future in this league, and someone that can command respect not just from the players, but from ownership and management.
They Bills have hired some of the most incompetent head coaches in recent memory and the hiring of Chan Gailey was a head scratcher to begin with, but the fact that he is getting a second year as coach is what is truly befuddling to me.
You are not winning a Super Bowl, hell you are not competing to even make the playoffs with Chan Gailey as your head football coach.
The Bills have holes all along their team, but that won’t be solved without a change in organizational philosophy.
Carolina Panthers: This one is simple; Cam Newton has to be a homerun of a pick. Newton has to have an immediate impact on the panthers for them to be anything.
The Panthers organization can’t withstand 3-4 years of incompetence at the QB position, they can’t stand for their new head coach to come in and get his ass handed to him by a QB that isn’t ready, prepared or as skillful as they need him to be.
If the Panthers whiffed on Newton we are not just talking about them not being contenders this year, but they won’t be contenders for years to come.
Chicago Bears: The Bears were a game away from playing in the Super Bowl last season, they have their core back, and they added a nice piece in the draft to solidify their offensive line. So what more can be done for the Bears?
Easy, Jay Cutler needs to man up and become a leader on this team.
Cutler has a lot of Brett Favre in him, forces throws, relies on arm strength way too much, has so much natural ability it is sick. What he lacks though is the leadership that young Favre brought to the Packers. Before he was sending dirty texts, leaving crude phone messages and sending pictures of his junk to people Favre was a leader.
Cutler needs to find a way to be that leader on the field that the Bears need or they aren’t going to be contenders for long.
Cincinnati Bengals: In order for the Bengals to become a contender again Carson Palmer has to be the QB of the team this season.
I know they drafted Andy Dalton, and I am aware of the fact that Palmer is refusing to play for them, but he is the only quarterback on the roster that gives them a chance THIS YEAR to make the playoffs, and maybe, just maybe make a run.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns aren’t close to contending are they? I mean they have the Madden 2012 cover boy on their squad, so they must be moving in the right direction. Aren’t they?
No, what the Browns need is time. They aren’t contenders this season, no matter what happens they play in the best division in football, simply because the Steelers and Ravens are in that same division.
They have made good draft picks, started to build a foundation of a winning team, and have a man in Mike Holmgren that has been there and done this before. He has them headed in the right direction, but they need time.
A couple more playmakers on offense and this could be a team to reckon with soon. Hell with the Indians in first place and the Cavs holding the first and fourth draft picks maybe things are so bad in Cleveland anymore.
Dallas Cowboys: Maybe my friend KM was right, maybe all the Cowboy haters were right as well, Tony Romo cannot be your quarterback if you want to win a Super Bowl.
He just doesn’t have IT.
Replacing Romo is going to be the key for the Cowboys to have any future at all in the “contenders” status.
It isn’t that I hate the Cowboys; it isn’t that I don’t like Tony Romo; it is that he lacks the ability to lead your team to the Promised Land.
No one is going to buy the Cowboys as Super Bowl contenders while he is the man behind center, well unless you write for a major sports site then you have to always say that the Cowboys are in the thick of things.
Denver Broncos: Talk about Tim Tebow and his development all you want it won’t mean a damn thing unless that Broncos defense stops being so damn awful.
You can’t rank as the worst defense in the NFL in yards allowed AND points allowed and expect to be anything more than just awful.
The Broncos messed up their chance to begin that drive up the defensive charts by passing on Marcell Dareus. Listen I love Von miller, but he will work best as a 3-4 OLB, not in a 4-3 that the Broncos are going to run.
Dareus would have made an immediate impact on the Broncos defensive line, and done so in a way that would have helped everyone on that defense get better.
Detroit Lions: The Lions improved both offensively and defensively last year, and had some tough breaks along the way.
The toughest break was that of Matthew Stafford’s shoulder. If Stafford can stay healthy for a season and continue to grow on the flashes of brilliance that he has shown, the Lions can make the leap to contender status with the rumblings that they are going to throw mad cash at Nnamdi Asomugha.
They continue to look like a team that could make a run to the playoffs, and with their solid draft additions, and a hopefully healthy Matthew Stafford, I could see them having a successful, and maybe even playoff worthy year.
Green Bay Packers: What can I say about the defending champs? They have the pieces in place, they have the coaching staff, and they even have the necessary swagger to compete. So what do they need in order to continue on that path? What could they possibly need to have in order to repeat as Super Bowl Champs?
A little dose of reality. You see, the NFL has had some bad luck as of late with Super Bowl winners and the Packers are going to have to understand that just because they hold the belt, and by the way I am all for Aaron Rodgers wearing that Championship belt to the middle of the field every weekend for every coin flip, there is nothing that says they will even make the playoffs this season.
A little humble pie will go a long way in Green Bay this year.
Houston Texans: This one is really simple, and people may scoff at the idea, but it is the truth.
The Texans need to simply believe that they are contenders.
I swear every off-season I hear about how the Texans are one piece away, that they are the team to watch out for.
At some point, they need to believe the hype, because that is all it has turned out to be hype.
You can say they need a new scouting department because theirs is absolutely awful at judging NFL
level defensive talent.
You can say that they need to have JJ Watt, Brooks Reed and Brandon Harris all live up to their potential and become strong NFL players.
None of that matters because I truly believe that the Texans have an “Oh Shit” moment every season.
Every season they have a moment when they say, “Here we go again.” Last season it was the Baltimore game on Monday Night Football.
2009 it was the second Colts game.
The Texans are just waiting for that moment, for that collapse, instead of playing with the reckless “eff you” attitude.
Maybe this is the year they get that.
Indianapolis Colts: Again, this is another easy answer here.
Peyton Manning has to continue to be elite.
The Colts are a one man band, and as Manning goes, so goes the team.
We watched as he struggled last year and said this is it.
We have written him off as the best QB of this generation, pointing to his yearly implosion in the post season as evidence that he is nothing more than a regular season star.
Can he lead this team to anything more than disappointment and heart break? Can Manning finally produce that one defining playoff run that allows him to flip the bird to all of his critics and haters?
He has to; if he doesn’t then it will be just more of the same.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I’ve been told by an anonymous Jaguars fan that I don’t know anything about this team.
Well maybe I don’t, I mean I base my observations off of as many games as I can watch, and back that up with stats.
So when I said that the Jags need to develop their talent, I wasn’t just talking about that because I think their talents are a bunch of busts.
I said that because their defense was horrid last year. Their passing game was atrocious, and yet they still found a way to win 8 games and be in it until the end of the season.
You see, if they develop some of that talent, they won’t be fighting for a playoff berth; they will be fighting for a division title and playoff positioning. Not that I know what I am talking about.
Kansas City Chiefs: I honestly miss Todd Haley as the Cardinals OC. You see Haley is the type of coach that looks at his roster and say, what can I do with this? How can I maximize the talent I have?
He doesn’t walk into a situation and implement his schemes and say to the players, figure it out; he fits his schemes to his players.
It really is refreshing.
That being said Haley needs to figure out a way to improve the Chiefs passing game.
The Chiefs were one of the worst passing teams in the NFL last season, and if you have a quarterback that you gave up a king’s ransom for, he needs to be more involved in the offense.
If Cassell can’t be trusted to do more, then Haley needs to find a QB that can, because as great as their running attack is, no one fears their passing game. And we saw in the playoffs what happens when you are one dimensional.
And with that we come to the end of the first part of our journey.
Be sure to check back next week as I finish off the other sixteen NFL teams and exactly what they need to happen in order to become contenders next season, if we have any football.
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