Thursday, August 11, 2011

NFL Offseason - Losers

With the preseason commencing tonight, football is officially back. The lockout was some degree of painful for all of us but the general consensus was that there was no way the United States of America was going a year without football and the players and owners eventually compromised. Then an epic free agent signing period happened with seemingly five different huge moves happening on a daily basis, one right after the other. So who came out of it the best and who significantly weakened? My team's in one of those columns and it's not the good one! Off we go.


1) Baltimore Ravens. And it's not even a question. No other team has suffered losses anywhere near the level of Kelly Gregg, Dawan Landry, Josh Wilson, Le'Ron McClain, Todd Heap, Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason and Jared Gaither? That's an absolute catastrophe. And who did the Ravens add? Vonta Leach? Great, he's a terrific fullback but they already had one in McClain and McClain had far more than three carries in his NFL career. Is this really a better option at the goal line (which is what the team needs) than McClain or McGahee? How often will he be able to spell the undersized glutton for punishment that is Ray Rice? Or maybe Ricky Williams will step in, even though he barely averaged 4 yards a carry last season and had more fumbles than touchdowns. Not only that but there were no additions at corner and not even any rumblings of the team going hard for Asomugha, Joseph or anybody else. They supposedly were shooting for Malcolm Floyd at receiver but he was always resigning with the Chargers and then they got bitten by Mason, who becomes something like the 457th player to follow Rex Ryan to New York. So now they're putting all their eggs in the basket of the Smiths - Jimmy at corner and Torrey as the # 2 receiver. This is how you become better than Pittsburgh, which is the not-so-secret goal of the organization and the fanbase? Please. After the last two collapses against the Steelers, Ravens fans deserved better than this offseason. A wild card might not even be a lock anymore. Unless Bernard Pollard (Landry's replacement) dives at Big Ben's knee.

2) Miami Dolphins. Now, if the plan is to tank for Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley, this might not be such a bad offseason after all. But for Tony Sparano to clean house in a year that may very well decide his future as the head coach is very surprising. They didn't take a QB in the draft, nor did they trade for McNabb or Kolb or Orton, which means they're sticking with Chad Henne for some unknown reason. I actually like Henne but he's never going to be the QB for a playoff team and if he is, he'll be a liability. They cut both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and they're going to replace them with...Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas? They didn't take a look at wide receiver depth in the light of Brandon Marshall revealing he has borderline personality disorder? And their additions? Giving up a player and a draft pick for Bush to be your primary back is asinine. Marc Colombo is old and injury prone and comes from one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Ray Willis only played on the right side in Seattle and Miami needs help on the left. And Matt Moore is Matt Moore. Hey, if the plan is Luck/Barkley, maybe this is a great offseason but on the surface, these guys might not even beat out the Bills this year and that's hard to spin in to a positive.

3) New York Giants. Talk about going in the exact opposite direction of division rival Philly. The Giants lost 40% of their offensive line when they let Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert walk. Following them out the door were three other starters on offense: Madison Hedgecock, Kevin Boss and Steve Smith. Boss might hurt the most as he was frequently Eli Manning's favorite safety valve. They made no notable free agent signings and while retaining pass rushing terrors Osi Umenyora and Mathias Kiwanuka as well as starting halfback Ahmad Bradshaw were important, they got significantly worse without getting any better in a tough division that just became even tougher with all of Philly's power moves. If Smith is anywhere near the receiver he used to be, this offseason becomes an even bigger nightmare. And if all that wasn't enough, top draft pick Prince Amukamara broke his foot on Saturday and will be out for the beginning of the season, potentially missing two months. Ouch.

4) Cincinnati Bengals. Johnathan Joseph left. The failed experiment of T-Ocho has resulted in Chad on the Patriots and TO as a free agent. Carson Palmer is still retired and that situation continues to be an absolute mess. Thomas Howard could be a significant upgrade but he mysteriously had an awful year in Oakland last year and the Bengals will have to hope for a bounceback. They brought in Bruce Gradkowski to hold the fort down until Andy Dalton's ready but that's a band-aid when they could have made a play for a stopgap with higher upside, like a McNabb or even a Kolb. This looks to be a directionless franchise and I could get in to why I don't think Dalton's the guy but that's for another day.

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