Every NFL Team’s Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2013 NFL Season
Every NFL Team's Weakness
The preseason is all but over. All that’s left is to finish these meaningless Week 4 games before the NFL can play football for real.
Preseason does give each and every NFL team a chance to fix its biggest weakness. For some, it’s their secondary, for others, it’s their offensive lines. All teams have a weak spot. No team is perfect. The great thing is preseason is a chance to fix that spot.
Some teams take advantage of the opportunity, and some don’t. Whether it’s finding a rookie to fill in a hole or going out and signing a free agent, now is the time for teams patch in those weak spots and get themselves ready for the regular season.
Just because you think your favourite team is perfect, thatdoesn’t mean they don’t have a weakness. Whether it’s a mismatch on the line or on the edge, every team has an Achilles' heel. It’s up to their opponents to find those weaknesses and exploit them.
All offseason long, NFL general managers and coaches have been working together to make sure that they can put together the best team possible. They analyze rookies both drafted and undrafted and try to position players that they already have to maximize their potential. It’s a puzzle that, for some reason, never seems to fit together quite right, not matter what they try.
Then, their opponents try to figure out where the pieces don’t quite fit together and exploit that area. That’s also what makes the NFL so much fun. On any given Sunday, any team can win, and any team can lose. It all depends on how well their opponent prepared for their weakness.
In the following slides, I’ll break down each team's biggest weakness. Where will your favourite team get beat this NFL season?
Baltimore Ravens - Wide Receiver
The Baltimore Ravens are going to feel the sting of losing Anquan Boldin this past offseason. In 2012, he was good for 65 receptions and 921 yards with four touchdowns. Will Torey Smith stand up to the challenge of being the team's no. 1 receiver? Will the aging Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark be able to contribute? They have a good quarterback in Joe Flacco, but will he have good enough receivers to throw to?
Cleveland Browns - Quarterback
The Cleveland Browns are a team with more talent than people give them credit for. However, their biggest weakness is at the quarterback position. In 2012, Brandon Weeden threw for 3,385 yards with 14 touchdowns while throwing an alarming 17 interceptions. He has shown some spark in the preseason, but I’m still not sold on his ability.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Running Back
The Pittsburgh Steelers are lacking in the backfield, to say the least. While the team did draft Le’Veon Bell, he still isn’t their best option, and that’s not saying much. Jonathan Dwyer is a guy that I would advise to stay away from in your fantasy football draft as he is a sup-bar runner for them. They have Felix Jones, but I’m not sold on him being the no. 1 guy for a football team. If the Steelers want to win, it’s going to have to happen through the air.
Cincinnati Bengals - Quarterback
The Cincinnati Bengals don’t have very many things wrong with them. Outside the quarterback position, which isn’t that bad, it’s a pretty sound football team. Andy Dalton is coming into his third year as the team's starting quarterback and threw for 3,669 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2012. Twice he’s led the Bengals to a playoff berth, and both times they were knocked out by the Houston Texans. It all hinges on Dalton. He’ll need to figure out how to get over the postseason hump. He’s on the hot seat this fall.
Buffalo Bills - Quarterback
The Buffalo Bills have run into some awful luck at the quarterback position this preseason. Both Kevin Kolb and rookie E.J. Manuel have gone down due to injury, and undrafted Jeff Tuel will likely get the start for Week 1 if Manuel isn’t healthy enough to play. Tuel was 4-22 in 26 starts at Washington State. The Bills play the New England Patriots in Week 1. Good luck, Buffalo.
Miami Dolphins - Offensive Line
I hope Ryan Tannehill has a rock-solid helmet. Since the Miami Dolphins have lost tackle Jake Long, that offensive line is going to struggle severely. Last year, this offensive line allowed 37 sacks with Long. Without him, it could get ugly, especially with Jonathan Martin playing left tackle.
New England Patriots - Wide Receiver
With a quarterback like Tom Brady, it’s hard to argue against the New England Patriots. But throwing the ball to the receiver is only half the battle. It’s up to the receiver to catch the ball once it is thrown to him. With the loss of Rob Gronkowski (possibly), Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker, the Patriots receiver corp is depleted even with Danny Amendola.
New York Jets - Quarterback
There are few different things that I could have pointed to with this one, but the most obvious and glaring is the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez is a dud and Geno Smith isn’t looking too hot, either. It’s going to be a long season for the New York Jets.
Denver Broncos - Defensive End
Losing Von Miller for the first six games of the season is going to hurt the Denver Broncos defensively. They’ll have to find a way to replace a guy that racked up 18.5 sacks and 68 total tackles in 2012. The two starters on the depth chart, Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe, combined for eight sacks in 2012.
Kansas City Chiefs - Defensive Line
With two former first-round picks, Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe, starting on the Chiefs' defensive line, you’d think they'd be pretty good. The Kansas City Chiefs would tell you that you’re wrong. In 2012, the duo combined for just three sacks, all credited to Jackson. As a whole, the Chiefs were ranked 29th in the league in sacks last year. They also had a tough time stopping the run as they gave up an average of 135.7 yards a game. Jackson and Poe need to step up and take charge on the line of scrimmage.
Oakland Raiders - Front Seven
The Oakland Raiders have a solid defensive backs corp this year. But ... that defensive back corp will see a lot of balls thrown their way since the front seven lacks ... a lot. It’s a front that is relatively inexperienced and lacks talent. Just one player, linebacker Kevin Burnett, had over 100 tackles last year. Sio Moore will be a rookie starting at linebacker, and defensive end Jason Hunter hasn’t played in the NFL since 2011.
San Diego Chargers - Offensive Line
I said earlier that Ryan Tannehill needs a harder helmet this year. If that’s the case, then San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers should just reserve himself a room at the ER right now. In 2012, he was sacked a whopping 49 times, and the Chargers' front five have already given up nine sacks through three preseason games. They haven’t done much other than draft D.J. Fluker to remedy their blocking problems, and drafting one player isn’t going to fix the problem of five.
Houston Texans - Offensive Line
Overall, the Houston Texans are a sound football team. They’ve filled needs, but they still have a weak spot along the offensive line. Left guard Wade Smith could miss some time due to a bone bruise, and right tackle Derek Newton is returning from knee surgery. In 2012, the offensive line surrendered 28 sacks. If the men up front can’t hold things together, the passing game will suffer and the run game will be tough to get going.
Indianapolis Colts - Defensive Line
Last year, the Indianapolis Colts got all the way to playoffs -- but it wasn’t thanks to their defensive linemen. The defense gave up an average of 137.5 yards per game on the ground. Defensive linemen Cory Redding, Aubrayo Franklin and Ricky Jean Francois combined for just four sacks and 78 tackles. In a 3-4 defense that the Colts run, their linemen are meant for pressure and disruption.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Offensive Line
Calling all defensive coordinators! If you blitz the Jacksonville Jaguars, you will win the football game. Blaine Gabbert might as well reserve a room in the ER right along with Philip Rivers. This offensive line gave up 50 sacks last year. While they did draft Luke Joeckel and there’s no doubt that he’ll help, this offensive line will struggle.
Tennessee Titans - Quarterback
If the Tennessee Titans want to have success this season, they’ll need Jake Locker to step up big time. Last season, Locker threw for 2,176 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games. Something that is very unsettling is the fact that Locker threw 11 touchdowns and fumbled two more footballs. While Chris Johnson is still the star of the Titans, he can’t do it alone. Jake Locker will need to dramatically improve from where he was a year ago if the Titans want to find success.
Chicago Bears - Linebacker
It’s tough to find a real weakness for the Chicago Bears. On offense, they improved their line, and they're still a sound team on defense. But, if I had to pick one weakness, it would be the linebacking corps. Even though Brian Urlacher really wasn’t his old self at the end of his great career, losing him will still hurt. D.J. Williams will be the one occupying the middle of the field on defense. It should be interesting to see if he’ll be able to fill the huge void.
Detroit Lions - Offensive Line
On paper, the Detroit Lions have a good football team and should be expected to make it to the playoffs. In reality, their an underachieving team that struggled to 4-12 in 2012. Really, their biggest weakness is the run game, but they’ve helped remedy that by signing the revived Reggie Bush. The offensive line will have to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was sacked 29 times last season, and open up lanes for Bush to run. It all hinges on the offensive line. They have the playmakers. Stafford just needs the time to get it to them.
Green Bay Packers - Running Back
If there’s a place where the Green Bay Packers won’t beat you, it’s on the ground. The Packers ranked a mediocre 20th in rushing last year, and it doesn’t look like it’ll get much better. With Ryan Grant gone, James Starks and Alex Green have a lot to prove, and rookie Eddie Lacy’s newfound mass has some people worried.
Minnesota Vikings - Linebacker
The Minnesota Vikings have an all-around solid defense. Adrian Peterson, well, he makes the offense near perfect and can handle things all on his own. However, the linebacking corps needs to improve. While Chad Greenway played well last season, that’s only because the defensive line has been an underachieving bunch. Linebackers Marvin Mitchell and Erin Henderson have some proving to do if they want to be around for much longer.
Dallas Cowboys - Offensive Line
While Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is on the hot seat this year, not even he will have success if the offensive line can’t keep him upright. So far this preseason, the front five have had struggles staying healthy, and that doesn’t bode well for a quarterback that has been sacked 72 times over the past two seasons.
Philadelphia Eagles - Secondary
There’s no doubt that the Philadelphia Eagles will score points, but can they keep other teams from scoring? Last year, the Eagles secondary gave up the most passing touchdowns of any team. This year, they’ll be without Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and have replaced them with free agents Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, Kenny Phillips and Cary Williams. They have experience in their secondary, but do they have talent? I’m not so sure about that.
New York Giants - Secondary
It’s hard to really find a true weakness with the New York Giants. While losing Andre Brown to a broken leg won't help them, David Wilson can pick up the slack on offense. Defensively, if Jason Pierre-Paul can return from back surgery soon, they’ll be good to go up front and the linebacking corps is solid. In the secondary, they’ve got risk-takers, which is good and bad. They had 21 interceptions last year, but gave up 13 plays of at least 40 yards, second most in the NFL.
Washington Redskins - Secondary
There’s a bit of trend in the NFC East, isn’t there? Much like the Eagles and Giants, the Washington Redskins’ biggest weakness will be their secondary. In 2012, it made head coach Mike Shanahan’s hair even grayer, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be much better this year. While they do get safety Brandon Meriweather back from injury and drafted David Amerson and Baccari Rambo, this secondary is still a question mark.
Arizona Cardinals - Offensive Line
In 2012, the Arizona Cardinals got off to a hot 4-0 start, but then faltered to a 5-11 final record mainly because of the play of their offensive line. The front five gave up 58 sacks and cleared the way for a league-worst 75.3 yards per game. While many still question their talent at running back, it won’t matter if the offensive line stinks. They drafted Jonathan Cooper to help at left guard, but he’ll be out for the season due to a broken leg. Carson Palmer could be in for a painful 2013 season.
San Francisco 49ers - Wide Receiver
The San Francisco 49ers may not be in as great a shape as everyone once thought offensively. While their offensive line and quarterback Colin Kaepernick return and expect to play well, the receiving corps could be a totally different story. This excludes, obviously, tight end Vernon Davis. He’ll still contribute and contribute a good amount. With Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree on the PUP list, it’ll be up to Anquan Boldin, who is aging, and Kyle Williams, who wouldn’t start on any NFL team, to pick up the slack.
Seattle Seahawks - Wide Receiver
This was probably one of the most difficult teams to find a weakness on. The Seattle Seahawks return a stout defense, a solid offensive line, a good rushing attack and one of the league’s top young quarterbacks in Russell Wilson. The reason the receiving corps is their biggest weakness is due to injuries. Percy Harvin will begin the season on the PUP list, and Sidney Rice is recovering from a knee injury, but is expected to start Week 1. If the receivers can get and stay healthy, they’ll be fine.
St. Louis Rams - Secondary
Last year, the St. Louis Rams' secondary was right about average at 15th best in the league for pass yards given up. However, I am still not sold that their secondary is good enough to help put them over the hump, whatever the “hump” may be. They have Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins on the edges, but they aren’t even close to their old selves and shouldn’t be viewed as “key players” in this secondary. The two safeties, Darian Stewart and Rodney McLeod, have yet to really prove themselves in the NFL. Luckily for them, they’ll get a chance to this year.
Atlanta Falcons - Defensive Line
For the Atlanta Falcons, there are no real weaknesses. Instead, they have places that simply need improving, and their defensive line is one of those places. Defensive ends Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora need to generate some sort of pass rush. As a whole, the Falcons are a stout football team. If the pass rush improves over last season, they’ll be very tough to beat.
Carolina Panthers - Secondary
The Carolina Panthers are a team that could really improve on their 2012 season if their secondary can just hold up. Offensively, they’ve pretty much got it figured out. Last year, just two players in the current starting secondary picked up over 60 tackles -- that also means that the front seven is doing their jobs. But the secondary ranked 13th in pass yards allowed in 2012. This season, they’ll play offensive powers like the New Orleans Saints, 49ers, Falcons and a good passing attack in the Rams. The secondary will be testedm and that’s where teams should target the most.
New Orleans Saints - Defensive Line
Offensively, the New Orleans Saints will again be a good team. That will be good because they’ll have to carry the defense. For the defense to improve on last year’s performance, it’ll have to start up front. Linemen Brodrick Bunkley, Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan will have to step up in 2013. They return just 10.5 sacks along the defensive line from last year. The secondary isn’t in very good shape either, but generating a pass rush will go a long way in helping those guys out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Defensive Line
In the NFC South, getting to the quarterback is important when those quarterbacks are Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their defensive line is going to have to come up big this year. Between the four defensive lineman, they are led by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in sacks with five. Collectively, they have eight between the four of them. The linebackers and secondary will be a solid group, but they’ll need a pass rush or else they are going to have a tough time in a pass-happy division.