Note: We will look at all the divisions of the NFL with this same point of view over the next few issues of Fryingpansports.com.
- Was last year the breakout season for QB Matt Schaub or will he go back to being just another guy under center? He had better be up to last year because there is nothing behind him. If he gets hurt or regresses, HC Gary Kubiak may want to tear up his new extension through 2012. His choices would be to start Dan Orlovsky or John David Booty.
- How will the D survive the 4 game suspension for LB Brian Cushing? The team has spent top draft choices on the D line but got very little pass pressure from the front 4. Cushing won the D Rookie of the Year in 08 but was hit with the 4 game suspension.
- Who will start at RB and can they hold onto the ball? Steve Slaton was the starter last year. He is very quick and fast but has fumbleitis. He is also coming off a season ending injury. The team drafted RB Ben Tate and expect him to get the majority of carries this year.
- Can S Bob Sanders stay healthy this year? This D is not nearly as good without him. He is the combination of the enforcer on the line and the eraser of coverage mistakes in the backfield. I like both S Melvin Bullitt and Jamie Silva but they can not do what Sanders does for his buddies.
Will the Colts ever be able to run the ball? “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” It has been a long time since the Colts had a running game that can run out the clock at the end of the game. Even the best QB in the league needs a little balance in the O.
- Will it be QB David Garrard or HC Jack Del Rio to be the first to lose their jobs? There is no seat hotter than Del Rio’s in the league. He has not been given much in the draft and the team is broke. The y have been forced to allow good players to leave as FA. Garrard got a 60M deal after having a QB rating of 102 in 07. But he has been in the 80s in each of the last 2 seasons.
Can vet UFA all star LDE Aaron Kampman get the kiddie corps that will start with him to produce a pass rush? The rest of the lineup includes LDT Tyson Alualu, RDT Terrance Knighton, and RDE Derrick Harvey. They are green as baby peas but all are athletic. If they don’t step up, Kampman will be quadruple teamed on every play.
- Is the transformation of QB Vince Young real or is it Memorex? He looked good replacing Kerry Collins who seemed to get old over a single weekend. I still don’t trust Young’s commitment to the game and willingness to spend the time in the film room to become a top QB. He has the physical ability but does not seem to process information quickly enough to succeed.
Will the losses of UFAs on D finally bring the D down? The latest losses were DL Kyle Vanden Bosch, LB Keith Bulluck and DB Nick Harper. It is hard to lose that kind of veteran leadership let alone the talent on the D. Can the new guys get the Titans’ opponents off the field on 3rd down? I doubt it.
- Which all star will HC Josh McDaniels run out of town this season? McDaniels seems to want to try to win with a bunch of guys not stars. Mac, that doesn’t work. He ran pro bowlers QB Jay Cutler out of town in 2009. This year he sent WR Brandon Marshall and TE Tony Scheffler out as well. The only real star they have on the team is OB Elvis Dumervil who Mac irritated by moving him from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OB.
Can the Bronco O survive the loss of their 2 best receivers? No. WR Jabar Gaffney doesn’t run accurate patterns. QB Kyle Orton needs the WRs to be there on time at the right spot. Orton has a below average arm but that is not a problem because the speed WR is gone. Despite losing Marshall’s 100 catches a year, the biggest lost may be TE Scheffler. Sheff was Orton’s safety net. When the blocking broke down Sheff was the guy he went to bail out the O.
- Will the New England West coaching staff ever get QB Matt Cassel to look as good as he did replacing Brady? No. GM Scott Pioli needed to bring in quality coaches because HC Todd Haley has no idea what he is doing. Pioli hired Charlie Weis on offense and Romeo Crennel on defense. Weis has the challenge of turning Cassel into a NFL QB.
Will the high draft choices on the D ever produce? DEs Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson were both high 1st round picks. Neither has produced like expected. Dorsey looked lost last year at DT and DE. Jackson needs to get his motor going. The DBs will have to cover a long time if the front 7 can’t do a better job putting pressure on the opponent’s QB.
- How much will new QB Jason Campbell help the O? Quite a bit. Al Davis blew the pick of JaMarcus Russell and threw away 2 extra seasons waiting for him to learn the O. Campbell want to prove that Washington made a mistake in letting him go.
Can anyone on this team catch the ball? 2009 1st round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is the #1 guy but he caught just 9 passes last year. Chaz Schilens is the other starter going into training camp. Enough said.
- Can QB Philip Rivers survive without LT Marcus McNeill and WR Vincent Jackson? McNeill protected his blind side. Tre Thomas takes over but how much does Thomas have left?
Can OLB Shawne Merriman regain his speed pass rush? Merriman is 2 years removed from his injury and this should be the year he regains his pro bowl status. If not, he won’t be back.
Can this team ever get over the hump and get to the Super Bowl? No and the coaching staff will be gone in 2011 with or without a new CBA.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on
and edits .