Like everyone, ND Kalu wants the NFL to play all its game starting this fall. On Sunday, he and I discussed ten big storylines for why we need professional football in 2011
Carson Palmer – the Bengals quarterback has demanded a trade from the team he’s spent his entire career with, even going as far as to sell his house in Cincinnati. I personally believe that it’s time for the team to swallow their own pride and deal Palmer for some value (1st or 2nd round pick). With Andy Dalton in the fold, there’s no point to hanging onto a player who clearly wants to leave.
Dallas Cowboys – they had a miserable 2010 season, even though Dallas rallied in the final month under interim (now full-time) head coach Jason Garrett. Will all of the talent at the skill positions translate into an explosive attack? Can Tony Romo finally win some big games? How much of a difference will Rob Ryan make as the new defensive coordinator? I like the talent on the Cowboys, but the amount of hoopla surrounding this team (see: Bryant, Dez) always makes me cautious.
New England Patriots – despite their regular season success, New England has lost two horrible home playoff games in consecutive years. They were dominated by the Ravens in January 2010, before losing at the hands of the arch-rival Jets this past January in the divisional round. Bill Belichick has amassed tons of draft picks over the last few years, and you wonder if this team can put together another big run to give Tom Brady a 4th Super Bowl ring.
Green Bay Packers – the obvious question: can they repeat? This team is absolutely loaded up and down the roster. Aaron Rodgers is the reigning Super Bowl MVP and he has terrific wide receivers, with Ryan Grant returning as the running back. Green Bay is also getting back tons of talent that ended up on injured reserve last season, including the likes of Nick Barnett, Brady Poppinga, Justin Harrell, and Jermichael Finley. It’s extremely difficult to repeat, but this roster has a lot of ability on it.
Cam Newton – how does the number one overall pick fair with the Carolina Panthers? There were plenty of question marks about whether the Auburn quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner deserved top billing (I personally have my reservations). Newton has a lot of talent, size, and a big arm, but he’s also stepping into a situation with a very bad team. On the bright side, he will be handing off to a couple of very good running backs in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.
New York Jets – Gang Green reached the AFC Championsip Game for the second year in a row, this time falling at the hands of the Steelers. Some people are wondering if Rex Ryan’s act will begin to wear thin at some point. The more pressing issue is how the Jets retain impending free agents like Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, and Braylon Edwards.
Colt McCoy – the former Texas quarterback is going into his second year in Cleveland, this time under a new head coach in Pat Shurmur. As the former offensive coordinator with the Rams, Shurmur had a lot of success last season with Sam Bradford, another young QB. McCoy played in 8 games last season, throwing 6 touchdowns against 9 interceptions. This is a big season to prove whether or not he is the Browns’ QB of the future.
Wade Phillips – can he turn around the Texans’ miserable defense? There’s certainly nowhere to go but up, and Wade has already said that star Mario Williams will play as a stand-up outside linebacker. GM Rick Smith gave the new defensive coordinator a couple of weapons in the draft courtesy of JJ Watt, Brooks Reed, and Brandon Harris. We’ll see how much Phillips can improve a D that couldn’t stop the pass in 2010.
Juan Castillo – Who? Fair question. He’s the former offensive line coach of the Eagles, who was promoted to defensive coordinator when Andy Reid surprisingly decided to part ways with Sean McDermott. Philly has a very good offense led by Michael Vick, so you wonder if they can put together enough on D to make it to a Super Bowl. You rarely see a coach switch sides at this level, especially to a prominent position like the DC of a playoff team. We’ll see how Castillo handles this seemingly bizarre switch.
Reggie Bush – The former number 2 overall pick may be on his way out with the Saints. The team traded its 2012 1st round pick to draft Mark Ingram from Alabama, and New Orleans already has Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory on the roster. Via his Twitter account, Bush seems like he wants a new start somewhere else.