Every NFL Team’s 2014 New Year’s Resolution
Every NFL Team’s 2014 New Year’s Resolution
As we are in the midst of the holiday season and celebrating with our families and friends, most of us have one or two things in the back of our minds that we would like to change beginning right around the corner after New Year’s. Of course, one of the biggest goals each year after we are done eating all of the Christmas cookies and food we can handle is to lose a bit of weight.
That is exactly the same boat some NFL teams find themselves in at the moment – they need to lose a little weight. There’s one or two guys that need to be either let go, traded or simply demoted in order to move forward as a franchise. But, this is only one example of many items on each franchise’s checklist heading into 2014.
Some rosters need a major shakeup, that’s true. Others, well, just need a few more pieces. Whether or not that’s addressed through the Draft or free agency, that’s to be determined. The bottom line is, though, that each and every team is in need at a certain position – maybe even the head coaching position.
There are teams that have enormous amounts of talent but just can’t seem to put it all together; or maybe they’re just plain undisciplined. Other teams have struggled with injuries, and the first priority next January will be focusing on a healthy roster for the following season. Then again, there are teams with a mostly healthy roster but are amidst some controversy and need to take care of that first and foremost.
Whatever it may be, each team has a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions. The following list is compiled of just one of those tasks at hand for each and every NFL franchise.
Buffalo Bills: E.J. Manuel’s Development
With the quarterback position up in the air, the Buffalo Bills can't give up on E.J. Manuel just yet. He brings too much to the team, adding another dimension that they didn't previously have. I understand Thad Lewis could bring the same, but 2014 needs to be about Manuel. If no progress is made, then moving on is understandable.
Miami Dolphins: Commit to the Run
The Miami Dolphins have two running backs that are averaging 4.0 yards per carry or more, but their leading rusher, Lamar Miller, has only gotten 157 carries this year. That can't happen, especially with a young quarterback needing some run support.
New England Patriots: Find Potential Rob Gronkowski Replacement
After Rob Gronkowski was knocked out of action yet again, the New England Patriots might want to start considering options to replace him in the future. Assuming he's going to be fragile from here on out, that should be one of their top priorities. He brought too much to the offense and was counted on to do quite a bit for them, and without him the Patriots are a different offense.
New York Jets: Find a Quarterback
This one is pretty simple. I don't believe that either Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith is the guy for the New York Jets. I just don't. I also don't believe that the head coaching position should be a safe one, but that debate is for another day.
Dallas Cowboys: Help Dez Bryant Through Adolescence
The Dallas Cowboys are a complete circus. Between Jerry Jones' continuous ignorance and power trip, Tony Romo's fourth quarter failures and the ongoing immaturity of stud wideout Dez Bryant, they have their work cut out for them. One of the big tasks for Dallas in the coming year is to help their challenged receiver through this phase we like to call adolescence, and bring him into adulthood once and for all.
New York Giants: Protect Eli Manning
Part of the problem this season for the New York Giants has been the bad decisions by Eli Manning. I understand that, but he's not the major issue. Manning is running for his life like he's got a group of five third graders holding down the offensive line this season. That must be addressed without question.
Philadelphia Eagles: Draft Defense
I don't care what position comes first. I really don't. If I'm a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I want my front office to draft the best defensive player available in all seven rounds next year. OK, that might be a stretch. But, you get the point. They can score points -- that's not the problem in Philly.
Washington Redskins: Don’t Allow Mike Shanahan to Return
So, Mike Shanahan said he'd be willing to come back if Dan Snyder allowed it to happen. Here's the thing: That relationship is toast. The ship has sailed. Robert Griffin III deserves a halfway decent-functioning relationship between his general manager and head coach. The kid is the future. If you doubt that, you are foolish. Shanahan gets the can in 2014.
San Diego Chargers: Defend the Pass
The San Diego Chargers are a miserable 29th against the pass. Their defense has been able to stay in the middle of the pack this year in the points allowed category, but can’t stop the aerial attack whatsoever. In 2014, this should take priority.
Kansas City Chiefs: Find Another Dynamic Offensive Playmaker
Jamaal Charles has done it all this year for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Dwayne Bowe hasn’t been the same guy we’re used to seeing. Whether that's on him or simply a chemistry issue, it's clear. Getting Alex Smith another dynamic playmaker on offense, with the 2014 season in mind, would do this unit some good.
Oakland Raiders: Make Decision on Franchise Quarterback
Is it Matt McGloin? Is it Terrelle Pryor? The Oakland Raiders need to pick a guy and develop him the best they can. Their running game is much better than people thought it would be without Darren McFadden healthy, so at this point the quarterback is the biggest question offensively.
Denver Broncos: Pass Defense Catch Up to Pass Offense
A 1st-ranked passing offense versus a 28th-ranked pass defense. That’s going to be tough to overcome in the playoffs versus better defenses when it’s all on the line. We're talking a New Year's resolution that gets taken care of immediately if they want to win it all this season.
Seattle Seahawks: Focus on Percy Harvin’s Health
The Seattle Seahawks don't have many weaknesses. They are ranked top-10 in most major statistical categories offensively and defensively, so for them to get Percy Harvin 100 percent healthy is a huge task at hand. Once he is back and at full strength, there's no telling what these Seahawks can do.
Arizona Cardinals: Make Andre Ellington Full-Time Starter
Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall are within 19 rushing yards of each other this season. The big difference? Ellington has nearly half the amount of carries. What is stopping the Arizona Cardinals from getting this kid 20 carries per game?
St. Louis Rams: Plan Ahead for Sam Bradford’s Final Year
Sam Bradford will be in the final year of his contract when he returns from injury next season, but will the St. Louis Rams commit to him long-term? They may need to think about a replacement, unless his few good games this year sold them.
San Francisco 49ers: Quiet Jim Harbaugh Rumors
Look, I don't care what college is involved in the rumors of Jim Harbaugh's coaching future. Why on earth would he leave the San Francisco 49ers? The way I see it, that would be a terrible decision. The 49ers are a threat in the NFC with the current roster, so what would he leave for?
Cincinnati Bengals: Commit to Giovani Bernard as Starter
I have said this from day one -- Giovani Bernard is a stud. The Cincinnati Bengals absolutely must make him the full-time starter. He's obviously younger, but overall he's a much more versatile back and can score in both aspects of the offense. He gets yardage nearly every time he touches the ball. Can BenJarvis Green-Ellis say that?
Pittsburgh Steelers: Find Hard-Nosed Identity Once Again
The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t run the ball, nor are they very good at stopping the run. What happened over the years? Well, the answer there is mainly age. Averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on the ground this season, Pittsburgh clearly needs to get back to basics and find their former identity.
Baltimore Ravens: Fix Offensive Line
The Baltimore Ravens lead the league in rushes of zero yards or less and the majority of their offensive lineman rank toward the bottom in overall ratings from Pro Football Focus; all of that with Ray Rice and arguably one of the better backups in the game, Bernard Pierce. That’s a problem.
Cleveland Browns: Commit to Brian Hoyer for Now
Under Brian Hoyer, the Cleveland Browns found new life for a short time period. Hoyer looked great for the most part, firing passes on a rope to a relatively up-and-coming receiving core featuring the breakout sophomore, Josh Gordon. For now, I think the best thing to do is committing to Hoyer once healthy and moving from there.
Green Bay Packers: Fire Dom Capers
One of the most prevalent phrases coming from the mouths and keyboards of Green Bay Packers fans everywhere for the last year or so has been, "Fire Dom Capers!" Folks, it's time the Packers took notice. He's not working out anymore, and it's shown recently more than ever before.
Minnesota Vikings: Draft a Quarterback
After the news broke that the Minnesota Vikings prepare to move on from Christian Ponder, it means they are either content with Matt Cassel or plan to draft a quarterback – or both. It must happen, without question.
Chicago Bears: Re-Sign Henry Melton
Once Henry Melton was lost for the season, the Chicago Bears' defensive line took a dive; a dive so large that my grandmother could suit up and run for 100 yards on this unit. One of the best defensive tackles in the game, Melton is in the last year of his contract and must be brought back on a long-term deal.
Detroit Lions: Move On From Jim Schwartz
The Detroit Lions will never get over the hump under Jim Schwartz, it’s just that simple. The guy doesn’t care about the level of maturity from his players on the field, nor does he see anything wrong with how his defense continues to play.
Houston Texans: Find a New Quarterback
Matt Schaub is a lost cause at this point. Case Keenum has shown flashes, but he's not a franchise quarterback. The Houston Texans have to find themselves a gunslinger, or next year could wind up being more of the same -- losing.
Indianapolis Colts: Figure Out Running Game
The run game has been unbelievably inconsistent, and sometimes non-existent, for the Indianapolis Colts this season. After what we thought was a blockbuster trade, Trent Richardson has looked mediocre on a good day. It doesn't matter who is in that back field, the offensive line is also fairly mediocre. The run game must establish itself if the Colts want to make a playoff run.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Move On From Blaine Gabbert
Before the season started, the Jacksonville Jaguars from office basically said that this was Blaine Gabbert's last shot at being their guy. Well, what now? It's time to move on.
Tennessee Titans: Trade Chris Johnson
As I've written before, Chris Johnson is a shell of his former self. The Tennessee Titans may undergo a facelift this offseason as far as the offense is concerned, and trading Johnson should be one of the first priorities.
New Orleans Saints: Find Franchise Running Back
Darren Sproles has been a phenomenal addition to the passing game -- but that's it. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas aren't every-down backs. Put two and two together, what do you get? A serious need.
Carolina Panthers: Find Cam Newton Big-Play Wide Receiver
Steve Smith is aging, but still tough as nails and catches the ball without fail. However, Cam Newton needs another guy in the passing game that can make a big play. If the Carolina Panthers got him that, 2014 could be a scary year for this offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Leave Greg Schiano Out to Dry
I don't know how else to say it, other than this: Greg Schiano is not leading this team to a Super Bowl. Schiano will never lead any team to the Super Bowl, for that matter. I'm not sure the majority of his locker room are on board with Schiano at the helm, so, he needs to go.
Atlanta Falcons: Draft a Running Back
The Steven Jackson experiment would have been great had he stayed healthy. Beyond Jackson, the Atlanta Falcons' running back depth is a couple of fill-in guys, not franchise guys. The Falcons need an every-down back in next year's draft, period.