New Year’s Resolution for Every NFL Team
New Year’s Resolution for Every NFL Team
As the calendar turns and we leave the year 2012 moving on to the year 2013, it’s time for each NFL team to look ahead to the next year and see how they can improve their chances to win football’s ultimate prize. Whether it’s they have the best record in the league or they are the team with the number one pick, every NFL team has ways to improve. It’s their 2013 new year’s resolutions.
This slideshow will look at each and every NFL team and see what their new year’s resolutions should be for this coming year. For some it’s as simple as improving a group that already has strength but could be a little stronger. For others it’s a difficult as which way to start rebuilding a team that’s been down for many years. But each team has their own unique resolutions that should be addressed this coming year.
The following slides will show each of the 32 NFL teams telling what their biggest problem is at the current time and what they need to do to address them. Some are obvious problems that everyone knows about. Others are not so obvious other than to those who pay close attention. But each one is the most important decision or move that has to be made by each team.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – GET A FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK
The Arizona Cardinals biggest problem lies behind the center. While the defense is good enough to win games, the offense has been bad enough to lose them. And the main culprit position is quarterback. The Cardinals currently don’t have a quarterback and, seeing how it’s the most important position on the field, that must change.
The current starter is Kevin Kolb but since joining the Cardinals he’s been injured more than he’s been healthy. His replacements have been John Skelton and Ryan Lindley who have both been dreadful. If Kolb can’t stay healthy, and there’s no evidence he can, the Cardinals must look to replace him. The Cardinals have had quarterbacks but never one for the future. This offseason this team should finally find a franchise quarterback.
ATLANTA FALCONS – WORK ON THIRD DOWNS
There is not much wrong with Atlanta Falcons as they had the NFC’s best record for the second time in three years. But one problem was their third and short conversions. The 2012 Falcons only converted a measly 50 percent of third downs when they had a yard or less to go. That speaks volumes about the team’s offense.
With a yard or less to go to achieve a first down there’s no way a team should fail half of the time. In the NFL you need to fight for every yard and especially yards of that importance. This statistic shows that the Falcons offensive line is not fighting for every yard when they need to the most and that’s a problem. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later for one of the league’s best teams.
BALTIMORE RAVENS – EXTENSION FOR FLACCO
After a season in which Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco was criticized publicly by teammates, he responded in 2012 with one of his best seasons yet. Flacco’s stats were up in just about every category in 2012 including setting a career high in passing yards. Apart from that, the Ravens were AFC North champions in 2012.
The only way to replace Flacco on a winning team would be to sign a free agent but there’s a problem with that. There aren’t any free agents as good as Flacco on the market. Not brining Flacco back to Baltimore for 2013 would be rebuilding and a winning team like the Ravens need to retool, not rebuild. That means one of their top priorities for 2013 needs to be to re-sign Flacco.
BUFFALO BILLS – USE C.J. SPILLER MORE
2012 was a breakout year for Buffalo Bills 2010 first round draft pick C.J. Spiller. After a slow start in his first two seasons, Spiller took advantage of an early injury to Fred Jackson rushing for 1,244 yards on the year. But one of the biggest criticisms of the Bills this season was how little they used their most lethal offensive threat.
Despite finishing eight in the league in rushing yards, 21 other starting running backs carried the ball more times than Spiller. He tied Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson with six yards per carry which led the league but carried the ball 141 less times. How little Spiller was used is one of the main reasons why head coach Chan Gailey was fired. In 2013 the Bills must use Spiller more often to help an offense that have few other threats.
CAROLINA PANTHERS – GROWTH OF CAM NEWTON
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had a breakout rookie season but went through a sophomore slump in 2012. During the first ten games his immaturity showed in his interaction with teammates and during press conferences. When the season turned in their favor late winning five of their last six, Newton seemed to be a better leader. That’s the player the Panthers need in 2013.
The Panthers are still in a bit of a rebuilding phase and are looking to improve. Newton is certainly one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league and can be one of the best if he can gain consistency. That means consistency on the field as well as consistency off the field. That should be a goal for the Panthers this year. It’s up to the coaching staff to help him see that and for Newton to actually do it. If he can become the leader the team needs, the Panthers will undoubtedly progress.
CHICAGO BEARS – PROTECT JAY CUTLER
When the Chicago Bears traded Kyle Orton and draft picks to the Denver Broncos they received in return a franchise quarterback, the first one since Sid Luckman in the 1940’s. But while Cutler has the ability to lead the Bears to unforeseen heights, he can’t do that from flat on his back. The Bears offensive line since Cutler has arrived has been dreadful and that’s being kind. Only Cutler’s ability to quickly navigate the pocket has kept him alive this long.
The Bears will be getting a new head coach, probably a new offensive coordinator, and a new offensive scheme for the 2013 season. They should also receive a new offensive line, and one that has the ability to protect their star quarterback. In 2012 the Bears gave Cutler a key target when they acquired Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins. Now it’s time to keep him on his feet.
CINCINNATI BENGALS – GET OVER PLAYOFF STRUGGLES
Despite appearing in Super Bowls in 1981 and 1988, the Cincinnati Bengals have struggled in the playoffs since. The Bengals are 5-10 in NFL playoff games in their history and haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. They’ve already begun to break playoff streaks as after going 15 years between playoff appearances, the Bengals have qualified in three of the last four years.
Since taking over in 2003, Marvin Lewis is 0-3 in the postseason. In 2005 they lost their wild card game to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2009 they lost to the New York Jets again in the wild card round. Last year they lost again in the wild card round against the Houston Texans. They will attempt to break that streak Saturday afternoon when they face the Texans again.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – BRING IN ESTABLISHED HEAD COACH
The Cleveland Browns as much as any team in the league have been giving coaches their start in the NFL. Since the original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1995 and Bill Belichick was fired, the Browns have had six head coaches but only one had prior NFL head coaching experience. This strategy obviously hasn’t worked and with experienced coaches out there, they need to start a new trend in 2013.
When the Browns came back into existence in 1999, they hired Chris Palmer for his first head coaching job but he went 5-27 over two years. Next they hired first time head coach Butch Davis. Davis took the team to the postseason but only went 24-34 over almost four years. That would be the most successful head coach. Terry Robiskie would be interim head coach going 1-5 before the Browns hired Romeo Crennel in 2005 who would go 24-40. Pat Shurmur who was fired this week ended his two year run going 9-23. The only coach with experience hired was Eric Mangini who had coached the New York Jets the year before. For 2013 the Browns need to find a coach with both experience and success.
DALLAS COWBOYS – IMPROVE THE OFFENSE LINE
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line has been the biggest problem for the team’s offense. While starting quarterback Tony Romo had a career year, it was behind a front line that had him scrambling. The need for an improved line was apparent during week 11 when, against an average Cleveland Browns defensive line, Romo was sacked seven times and knocked down nine times.
The Cowboys missed the playoffs but have the offense to not be in such a perilous position. With players like Romo, tight end Jason Witten, running back DeMarco Murray, and wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have the weapons to compete with the better offenses of the league. But these pieces are useless if the offensive line cannot protect the quarterback.
DENVER BRONCOS – WIN NOW
The Denver Broncos hit the jackpot when future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning chose them over other NFL teams including the San Francisco 49ers. After struggling through mediocre quarterbacks like Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, Manning has the Broncos with one of the best offenses in the game and as the number seed in the AFC. But the Broncos need to be looking to win now.
There’s no question why the Broncos are the number one seed in the AFC. It’s the man positioned under center. But Manning is 36-years old and at the tail end of a legendary career. It won’t be long before he hangs it up and heads to Canton. When he does the Broncos will not be in the position they are now. While Manning signed a five-year contract to stay in the mile high city, it’s unknown how long he will hold up. It may not be that long. So the Broncos need to win as soon as possible while they still have number 18 healthy.
DETROIT LIONS – RUN THE BALL
The Detroit Lions were the most disappointing team during the 2012 NFL season. After making the playoffs in 2011 with a good young nucleus, they didn’t come close in 2012. One of the reasons for this was their refusal to run the ball. While the Lions don’t have a Pro Bowl running back, that’s not a reason to completely abandon the run.
The best offenses in the league try to keep a balanced offense. The New England Patriots had the league’s best offense this season and, while known as a passing offense, ran the ball 45 percent of the time. The Lions on the other hand ran the ball just 35 percent of the time setting a new NFL record with 740 pass attempts. They threw the ball 69 times more than the second most attempts by the New Orleans Saints. In 2013 the Lions must run the ball more to help Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – MAKE QUICK DECISIONS IN OFFSEASON
The Green Bay Packers won another NFC North title in 2012 but will have some decisions to make during the offseason. Most notable decisions will be about Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and Charles Woodson. These veterans have been a big part of the Packers in the past and current seasons. A quick decision will need to be made about their futures.
If the Packers feel that they need to bring in young talent to replace the veterans then that’s fine but they need to make that decision quickly. There’s no need to let the question hang in the air throughout the majority of the offseason. Once that decision gets made then the team will be able to move forward.
HOUSTON TEXANS – FINISH THE SEASON
The best NFL teams finish seasons strong. The New York Giants weren’t the best team in 2007 or 2011 but won the Super Bowl because they finished strong. That hasn’t been the case for the Houston Texans in 2012. After starting 11-1 with that one loss being to the Green Bay Packers, the Texans lost three of their last four.
The Texans went from being the number one seed in the AFC to the three seed and having to play a wild card game. That’s not the play of an elite team. A team that can win a Super Bowl wins late finishing the season strong against any opponent. Finished the season they started must be a focus in 2013.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – IMPROVE AGAINST THE RUN
The Indianapolis Colts have had a magical 2012 season. After finishing 2-14 in 2011 the Colts decided to release their hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning in favor of starting their number one overall pick Andrew Luck. In 2012 the Colts improved to 11-5 securing the fifth seed in the AFC.
While things have been going well in Indianapolis, the run defense has struggled. In the last six games of the season the Colts allowed three 100 yard rushers and nearly a fourth as Arian Foster finished with 96 yards. The rushing defense is easily the weakest part of the Colts giving up 137.5 yards a game ranking them 29th in the league. For a team that looks to be a contender for years to come, that’s one thing that has to improve.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – GET TEBOW
The Jacksonville Jaguars are not a contending team and don’t look to be a contending team in the near future. There are many problems for the Jaguars and the biggest problem isn’t on the field. In 2012 the amount of fans at games were often outnumbered by empty teal seats. That’s where brining in quarterback Tim Tebow will change things.
Originally from Jacksonville, Tebow won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Florida and is still very popular in the state. Florida fans love him, other fans in Florida hate him, but everyone has a strong opinion on him. As a Jaguar, Tebow would draw fans from all over the state and would vastly improve attendance at EverBank Field which could be enough to keep them from moving to Los Angeles.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – DRAFT THE RIGHT PLAYERS
In 2012 the Indianapolis Colts proved that with a strong draft you can turn your fortunes around very quickly. After an abysmal season in 2011, the Colts made the playoffs this season behind the first overall draft pick Andrew Luck and other picks such as Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. While there may not be a Luck or Cam Newton in this draft there is enough to start a turnaround.
It’s been a rough go for the Kansas City Chiefs over the last few years. But the good news is that there are good pieces on the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles rushed for 1,509 yards this year showing that the Chiefs don’t need a running back. They also had the 12th ranked passing defense showing solid play in the defensive secondary. What they will need is help with their passing offense, including a franchise quarterback, and rushing defense. Those needs can certainly be met in the 2013 draft.
MIAMI DOLPHINS – BETTER SECONDARY
There were several problems this season for the Miami Dolphins but none more glaring than the deficiency of the defensive secondary. The Dolphins had one of the worst passing defenses in the league this season ranking 27th giving up 248 passing yards a game. The good news for the Dolphins is that this is a problem that can be fixed this offseason. After the team decides who they want to keep, they have plenty of cap space and draft picks to build on.
Improvement of the passing defense will greatly improve the Dolphins as they already possess a strong rushing defense which ranked 13th in the league giving up just 108.4 yards on the ground. One key attribute to look for will be takeaway ability as the Dolphins were very inconsistent with that skill. With a franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, a strong running back in Reggie Bush, and a strong defense, the Dolphins could soon be ready to contend.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – BRING IN MORE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS
The Minnesota Vikings have one offensive weapon, Adrian Peterson. Whether you look at receivers, tight ends, or Christian Ponder, nobody else on the Vikings offense scares opposing defenses. This point was made clear during the 2012 season when Peterson came nine yards from breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record.
Other than Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards, no other offensive stats impress. Ponder only threw for 2.937 yards this season completing just 62 percent of his passes and had a quarterback rating of just 81.2. The leading receiver on the team, Percy Harvin, only had 677 receiving yards. This offseason the Vikings must obtain greater threats on offense. This will help Peterson by taking pressure off him and make the Vikings a much more dangerous team.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – RE-SIGN WES WELKER
The no question as to what the biggest job for the New England Patriots is in 2013. During the 2012 offseason the team’s number one priority was to re-sign free agent wide receiver Wes Welker. After the 2012 season that has not changed. After having been given the franchise tag for the 2012 season Welker led the team in receptions and was selected to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl.
The Patriots have had trouble finding another productive receiver since the departure of Randy Moss but Welker has always produced. He’s become Tom Brady’s favorite target and that didn’t change this season. While the Patriots offense has other ways to destroy opposing defenses, Welker would be a devastating loss. This offseason they must get him re-signed.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – REBOUND WITH FULL TEAM
2012 was a tough year for the New Orleans Saints. A team that has been one of the best in the league over the past few years was decimated by “bountygate”. They lost some key defensive players for most of the season but more importantly the lost their head coach, Sean Payton, for the entire season. The top priority was to keep Payton on the bayou but that has already been achieved. Now it’s to rebound.
Going into 2013 the Saints will have their full team back, the star quarterback Drew Brees back, and now their head coach back. With all the suspensions and speculation over the team should be ready to get back to where they were in previous years. The scandal did a lot of damage to the Saints franchise so they must attempt to forget it and move on in 2013.
NEW YORK GIANTS – DEFENSIVE HEALTH
The New York Giants came into the 2012 season as the defending Super Bowl champions but their defense played nowhere close to that level. While the Giants possess a quality offense, the other side of the ball hasn’t produced. While the defensive unit has struggled with inconsistency, they’ve also dealt with several key injuries.
Offensively the Giants are a strong team that can contend with many in the league. But teams who must win shootouts each week struggle in the NFL and the Giants are no different. To return to their previous glory the Giants must have a healthy and consistent defense which should be the primary focus this offseason.
NEW YORK JETS – TRADE TEBOW
There are many things wrong with the New York Jets who were a soap opera all season. But one of the first things they need to do is trade backup quarterback Tim Tebow. It’s not Tebow’s fault but he is a huge distraction for the team. Despite not playing much in 2012, Tebow was the golden boy of the national media which caused problem in the Jets locker room. It even came to a point where Jets players were anonymously blaming Tebow for their struggles despite the fact that he wasn’t playing.
While most teams wouldn’t touch Tebow due to the media presence he brings with him but there’s one team that would do anything to get the quarterback. The Jets must admit they made a mistake bringing him to the big apple and trade him south.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – STRONG DRAFT
No team has been more inconsistent in the drafts than the Oakland Raiders. After drafting JaMarcus Russell first overall in 2007 making him one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, the Raiders made two excellent first round picks taking Darren McFadden in 2008 and Darrius Heyward-Bey in 2009. Both of those have been productive for the Raiders since selected. But the team regressed in 2010 when they drafted another bust in linebacker Rolando McClain who may have played his final game in the bay area.
The Raiders gave up their first round picks in 2011 and 2012 but will have the third overall pick in 2013 and they need to make it count. The Raiders need to make the draft work for them as they did in 2008 and 2009 and not a nuisance as they did in 2007 and 2010. It’s been proven over and over again that a strong draft can quickly change the fortunes of a team and the Raiders need that in 2013.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – FIND THE RIGHT COACH
On Monday, after 13 years, the Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach Andy Reid. Reid was a very successful coach with the Eagles leading them to five division titles and a Super Bowl. But the last few years, despite immense talent, have been very disappointing and a change had to be made. Now the top priority for the Eagles is to bring in the right coach.
While the decision to relieve Reid of his duties was tough for the team it wasn’t controversial. It was a move that had to be made to progress forward toward regaining the divisional dominance they once had. During 2011 and 2012 Reid took much of the blame for some strategic decisions that were made. The Eagles need to hire a coach that will make the right strategic decisions to make the team successful in 2013.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – IMPROVE RUNNING GAME
Not being in the postseason is something unusual for the Pittsburgh Steelers but there’s a good reason for it. After rushing for 1,903 yards in 2011, the Steelers dropped to 1,537 in 2012. That placed them 26th in the league and the only team to make the postseason with less were the pass happy Atlanta Falcons.
Throughout the history of the franchise the Steelers have had some very good running backs that have led them to success but in 2012 the team was historically bad. This is the lowest total rushing yards a Steelers team has had since the 16-game schedule was adopted in 1978. Considering the success the Steelers have had since then, those totals say something. For 2013 the Steelers must find a way to improve their running game.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – MAKE QUICK DECISIONS
The San Diego Chargers are going through a complete restructuring this offseason and therefore need to make quick decisions. This week the team fired general manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner and are currently looking for their replacements. Once those positions are filled they can start working on the team which needs work.
The most work needed is on offense and most importantly on the offensive line. First the Chargers will have to look to free agency for replacements before finishing in the draft. But to make those moves they will need a plan and a plan cannot be formulated until a general manager and head coach are in place for the 2013 season. Making quick decisions on these moves will be very important in the coming weeks and months.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – END QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY
The San Francisco 49ers has been one of the best teams in the NFL over the past two years but have a problem this season. After suffering a concussion, starting quarterback Alex Smith was sidelined for precautionary reasons. His replacement was Colin Kaepernick who played very well. So well that head coach Jim Harbaugh gave him the starting nod once Smith was cleared the play.
This quarterback controversy has continued since Smith was cleared to play. A controversy like this is a detriment to any team and will be to the 49ers if it is not dealt with. The 49ers have two outstanding quarterbacks which many teams would love to trade for. The 49ers must deal with this situation by trading one of their quarterbacks during the offseason or catastrophe could strike in 2013.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – BE AN ELITE TEAM
The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the biggest surprises in 2012. Russell Wilson wasn’t expected to play at the level of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III but he has. During their five game win streak to end the season the Seahawks defeated the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers that had strong seasons. But while they’ve played well, they’re still not yet elite.
To be elite the Seahawks need to continue their recent play. It just can’t be a special 2012 but has to continue through the playoffs and into 2013. If they can play in 2013 the way they did this year, they’ll be on the cusp of earning that description.
ST. LOUIS RAMS – CONVINCE JACKSON TO RETURN
The St. Louis Rams have made great strides under Jeff Fisher and are close to contending for the playoffs. But they can’t do that with their star running back Steven Jackson. Late this season Jackson said that he was considering retirement citing Barry Sanders saying he’d rather leave in a blaze of glory like Sanders rather than fade away.
Jackson has been the star offensive weapon for the Rams for nine years and 2012 was no different. Carrying the ball 257 times, he broke the 1,000 yard threshold for the eighth straight year. If Jackson doesn’t return in 2013 it will be hard for the Rams to compete in the NFC West but with him, they have a chance. Convincing him to return will be the top priority heading into next season.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – FIX DEFENSIVE SECONDARY
The 2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the worst passing defenses in NFL history giving up 297 yards a game through the air. To make matters worse, they traded their best cornerback Aqib Talib to the New England Patriots where he’s flourished and are expected to release Eric Wright who has been trouble for the team missing many games to injury and suspension. It’s an area the Bucs will need to improve in if they want to compete in 2013.
Unfortunately it’s an expensive venture to sign a free agent defensive back and there aren’t many worth spending freely on this offseason. That means that the Bucs will have to improve their passing defense through the draft. With the 13th pick and with no superstars available, they should have their choice. They would likely take Dee Milliner from Alabama, who always seem to bring out productive defensive backs, or Xavier Rhodes from Florida State. Either way, the Bucs need an improvement in their defensive backfield and either of those picks would immediately be just that.
TENNESSEE TITANS – SHOW IMPROVEMENT
The Tennessee Titans had an abysmal 2012 season. The Titans 6-10 season is a long way from their 9-7 2011 season. With what the Titans did during the season and what they have coming back, they are very unlikely to compete in 2013. For Titans fans though, it’s improvement that they want to see.
During the 2012 season it didn’t seem that the team improved at all which is very disheartening. For the 2013 season the Titans don’t have to be a playoff team or contend for the postseason but they must show that they are improving. With Jake Locker as starting quarterback for the foreseeable future fans want to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s important that the Titans show that in the year 2013.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – ADDRESS THE SECONDARY
The Washington Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys on the final day of the season to clinch the NFC East and a place in the postseason. But that doesn’t mean they are without faults. The main fault for the Redskins is the defensive secondary. That group has been mediocre for most of the season and must be addressed following the season.
In an attempt to improve the floundering secondary, the Redskins have moved players around attempting to find the right mix. While they may get away with that temporarily, a patchwork defense will not work in the NFL. The Redskins must fix that by signing or drafted the right players to create a stable secondary.