As we continue around the NFL in a day, we come to the NFL’s South Divisions of the AFC and NFC teams before they head into training camp. This is the perfect opportunity to head to “The NOLA” and get the latest scoop on the trouble Saints organization and what lies ahead for them.
New Orleans Saints: Man, where do I start with the New Orleans Saints. They are a complete mess heading into the 2012 season. First, you have this gargantuan “black-eye” on the organization due to the “Saints Bounty Scandal” that has been a major media topic for months. It’s caused the Saints to lose their head coach, Sean Payton for the season, along with other key components to this franchise. For lack of a better term, it’s total chaos in New Orleans, referring to the Jonathan Vilma defamation lawsuit against the NFL. One good point is the recent contract extension of quarterback, Drew Brees. However, I’d be totally shock if the Saints even have a winning season, because I’m not thinking playoffs at all.
Atlanta Falcons: After that horrible showing during the NFC wild-card game during the playoffs last season, I wasn’t sure what was going on in the ATL. Taking a closer look revealed some key measures that will make or break the Falcons this season. This season, quarterback Matt Ryan will be working with his third position coach since joining the organization and Ryan will be working with a new offensive coordinator this season. Some may feel that this shouldn’t be a factor, but the numbers don’t lie. The Falcons only put up 2 points against the Giants during the playoffs and Matt Ryan has a 0-3 playoff record. If you want to compete in the playoffs, you have to be able to put points on the board. Success in Atlanta depends on the offense scoring and the defense shutting down their opponents.
Carolina Panthers: One would think that’s all-good in Carolina with a quarterback like Cam Newton and two running backs like DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in your backfield. Add that along with a stud receiver like Steve Smith and your thinking playoffs for the Panthers right? Wrong, especially when your defense was ranked 28th in the league last season. There’s an old saying, “Defense Wins Games”. If the Panthers don’t play better defense, then they’ll have another losing season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers have taken the stance of showing that they mean business. The team has been absolutely aggressive during free agency, buckling down over $140 million in contract signings, adding receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Cark Nicks and defensive back Eric Wright. The Bucs also went out and signed a new head coach, committing to Greg Schiano. I guess this is what happens when your team loses their last 10 games of the season. I’m looking for the Buccaneers to be a playoff team this year.
Houston Texans: I have a huge question mark next to the Houston Texans. I feel that they’ve lost some very good players during the offseason and it’s going to affect the 2012 playoff run. In all the Texans have lost linebacker Mario Williams, offensive tackle Eric Winston , linebacker DeMeco Ryans, guard Mike Brisiel, tight end Joel Dreesen, fullback Lawrence Vickers and defensive back Jason Allen. The lack of true talent will equal a losing season for the Texans.
Indianapolis Colts: Overhaul. That is how you can describe the Indianapolis Colts in one word. The Colts President Bill Polian and Vice President Chris Polian were fired after a disappointing showing last season. We also saw the departure of head coach Jim Caldwell, who was also let go. With the departure of quarterback Peyton Manning, who is now a Denver Bronco, newly drafted signal caller, Andrew Luck is taking over the helm of the offense. This, along with the hiring of a new offensive and defensive coordinators, puts a new spin on the Colts 2012 outlook. It can’t get any worse in Indy, considering they posted a 2-14 record last season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I’ll just go on the record by saying the Jaguars have the next NFL quarterback flop on their hands regarding Blaine Gabbert. Oh yes I did! The passing game bottomed out last season, ranking 32nd in the league. Did I also mention that is equivalent to being ranked last in the league, considering there are 32 teams in the NFL. The Jaguars also have issues at the running back position, due to Maurice Jones-Drew wanting a new contract. I feel the Jags are still two seasons away from being a good team.
Tennessee Titans: With a healthy running back in Chris Johnson, the Titans running game can still be in existence. Johnson has his eye on the prize, and that’s rushing for 2,000 yards this coming season. That actually may happen, considering the Titans just signed offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson during free agency. We can also expect one of quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck’s targets to return to the lineup, referring to wide receiver Kenny Britt. Britt is returning from a torn ACL and MCL injury. On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans button up long term deals with defensive end Kamerion Wimbley and franchise defensive back Michael Griffin. My vision for the Titans this season is the playoffs.