NFL Training Camp Questions

Now that we can almost hear the “pop” of the pads and the start of training camps this week, I wanted to take a divisional and team look at questions that need to be answered around the NFL going into the season.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

  • Are MLB Ray Lewis and QB Steve McNair too old and beat up to continue to be the locker room leaders of the Ravens and will they finish this season healthy?
  • Will the NFL’s 2nd rated defense from 2006 (only allowed 201 points) have to carry this team again?
  • Will RB Willis McGahee be reborn with the Ravens after being a malcontent in Buffalo?
  • Do the Ravens have any fight left after an embarrassing divisional round home playoff loss to the Colts?
  • Will their offensive line anchored by aging OT Jonathan Odgen hold up for the entire year?

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Was the division title in 2005 the peak for this team and their Head Coach?
  • After 4 seasons in Cincinnati and no playoff wins, Is Head Coach Marvin Lewis on the Hot Seat with the Brown Family?
  • Will the Bengals after 9 off the field criminal related events, clean up their act?
  • Are the Bengals too “Fantasy Football” based? Sure they have all the offensive weapons in the world, but they are too inconsistent.
  • How will the team survive the distractions related to the suspension (8 games) of WR Chris Henry?

Cleveland Browns

  • Is this the last year for Head Coach Romeo Crennel and is Bill Cowher waiting in the wings?
  • How long will it take for Brady Quinn to take over the quarterback position from Charlie Frye and will he hold out?
  • At the age of 30 and with several years of carries, does Jamal Lewis have anything left?
  • Will injured players from 2006 OLB Willie McGinest, C LeCharles Bentley, WR Joe Jurevicius, and WR Braylon Edwards avoid the injury bug enough to make an impact in 2007?
  • Did the Browns over pay in bringing in free agent G Eric Steinbach from the Bengals?

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Will new Head Coach Mike Tomlin establish his program and lead the Steelers back to the playoffs at the tender age of 35?
  • Are the Steelers including QB Ben Roethlisberger (17 INT’s) over their Super Bowl “hang over”?
  • How will the loss of LB Joey Porter, OL Coach Russ Grimm, and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt effect the team?
  • How will the Steelers incorporate aspects of Tomlin’s Cover 2 scheme into Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 blitz based defense?
  • Will potential free agents Pro Bowlers G Alan Faneca and S Troy Polamalu receive contract extensions or will they leave like past players (ex. Chad Brown)?

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

  • Will the Bills finally put it together enough to end their 7-year playoff drought?
  • Have the Bills had too many quality defections (RB McGahee, MLB Fletcher, OLB Spikes, CB Clements) since last year?
  • Will owner Ralph Wilson get the new stadium he is seeking or are the Bills moving?
  • Is this the year that JP Losman lives up to his first round draft grade (2004)?
  • Will the draft additions of LB Posluszny, RB Lynch, S Wendling, QB Edwards, and others impact the Bills roster?
  • Is GM Marv Levy too old to develop the roster necessary to get back to the playoffs?

Miami Dolphins

  • Will new Head Coach Cam Cameron help re-establish the Dolphins after a 6-10 record with 3 straight losses to end the season?
  • Will the highly rated defense from 2006 (only allowed 283 points) have to carry this team again?
  • Is new quarterback Trent Green healthy enough (concussions) at age 37 to be an effective starter?
  • How are the Dolphins going to utilize 2007 1st Rd pick WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr?
  • How are they going to handle the Rickey Williams situation?

New England Patriots

  • With all of the moves that the Patriots have made (WR Moss, WR/KR Welker, DB James, TE Brady and others) are they as good as the Colts?
  • Is this Bill Belichek’s last season in New England?
  • Will Brady improve upon his passing numbers (61.8%, 3529 yards, 24 TD’s, and 12 INTs) now that he has a whose who of WR’s?
  • Is the core of the Patriots defense (LB Bruschi, LB Vrabel, S Harrison, LB Seau) too old?
  • Will Randy Moss fit in and behave now that he is away from the Raiders (Same for troubled draftee S Brandon Merriweather)?

New York Jets

  • With a more difficult schedule in 2007 can the Jets repeat their 2006 success and can the young brain trust of Mangini and Schottenheimer keep it up?
  • Can Chad Pennington stay healthy for the 2nd year in a row?
  • Is Thomas Jones ready to replace Curtis Martin or will it be RB by committee?
  • Will the Jets find some explosiveness at the WR position?
  • How will the Jets utilize the new ‘Slash’, former college QB Brad Smith?

AFC South

Houston Texans

  • Will Matt Schaub live up to the expectations of being the starter, his trade return compensation, and $48 Million Dollar contract?
  • Will 2006 1st Overall Pick Mario Williams live up to his draft status and pay after only 4.5 sacks in ’06?
  • Will running back Ahmad Green have a rebirth in Houston or are his best days behind him?
  • Can the Texans find an adequate receiving compliment to Pro Bowl WR Andre Johnson?
  • Will their offense find the explosiveness needed to compete with the Colts (Only scored 267 Pts in 2006)?

Indianapolis Colts

  • How do they avoid the Super Bowl hangover of injuries, defections, complacency, money, and other factors?
  • Will Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy be more relaxed now that they have won their Super Bowl?
  • How will they handle the defections from their defense (S Mike Doss, CB Nick Harper, CB Jason David, and Cato June) and the recent retirement of OT Tarik Glenn?
  • Is RB Joseph Addai ready to assume the role as the featured RB with Dominic Rhodes leaving for Oakland?
  • Are they ready to turn back the contenders to their title, especially the Patriots, who have loaded up for this season?

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Can QB Byron Leftwich avoid the injuries that have dogged him through out his career and is he still the Jags quarterback of the future (F\A after season)?
  • How will the Jags share the rushing workload between aging 1,000 yard RB Fred Taylor (32) and up and comer Maurice Jones-Drew (13 TD’s)?
  • After 4 seasons in Jacksonville and no playoff wins, is Head Coach Jack Del Rio on the Hot Seat?
  • Will any of the highly drafted WR’s (Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, or Ernest Wilford) take the next step to becoming elite receiver?
  • Is their star studded D-Line of DT Stroud, DT Henderson, DE Hayward, and DE Spicer still as effective as a couple of years ago?

Tennessee Titans

  • How will the team survive the distractions related to the suspension (season) of infamous CB/KR Adam “Pacman” Jones?
  • Will Vince Young continue to mature after a breakout rookie year (R.O.Y – over 2,000 yards passing w/ 12 TD’s and over 500 yards rushing w/ 7 TD’s)?
  • Which WR (David Givens, Brandon Jones, Justin Gage, or others) will step up to assume the number #1 position vacated by Drew Bennett?
  • Will Jeff Fisher be staying or going after the season (13 years w/ team and didn’t sign an extension in off-season)?
  • Who is going to be the running back on this team (Retread Chris Brown, Draftee Chris Henry, or underachieving LenDale White)?

AFC West

Denver Broncos

  • With the trade/retirement of Jake Plummer, is 2006 1st Rd Pick Jay Cutler ready to assume the role as the starting quarterback (9 TD’s and 5 INT’s)?
  • How will the team handle the end of season collapse including losing at home to the 49ers that knocked them out the playoffs?
  • How will the Broncos share the rushing workload between RB Travis Henry (Career year in ’06 having 1211 yards w/ 4.5 ypc) and surprising rookie from last year Mike Bell?
  • Will Mike Shanahan be staying or going after the season (12 years w/ team)?
  • With all of the moves that the Broncos have made (CB Dre Bly, TE Graham, DT Kennedy, DT Adams, and others) are they as good as the Colts, Patriots, and Ravens?

Kansas City Chiefs

  • With the trade of Trent Green, is Brodie Croyle ready to assume the role as the starting quarterback or will there be an open competition with Damon Huard (Career Year in 2006)?
  • How will the team handle the possible holdout of RB Larry Johnson and when will he report (Wants LT type contract – 21 Million Guaranteed)?
  • Will the Offensive Line be the same after the retirement of Pro Bowl G Will Shields this off-season and OT Willie Roaf in 2006?
  • Can Herman Edwards continue to build up the Chiefs defense (315 Pts Allowed)?
  • Will any of the WR’s including 2007 1st Rd Pick WR Dwayne Bowe step up and take some pressure off of TE Tony Gonzalez.

Oakland Raiders

  • Can new very young Head Coach Lane Kiffin (31) finally get this team back to respectability (2-14 in 2006)?
  • Will 2007 1st Overall Pick QB JaMarcus Russell live up to his great expectations and when will he start?
  • How much does DT Warren Sapp have left at age 33?
  • Will the jettisoning of malcontent WR Randy Moss and the re-emergence of WR Jerry Porter finally solidify the offense?
  • Can the defense perform at a high level again in spite of the problems on offense (Allowed only 20 pts a game despite the offense only scoring 168 pts all year)?

San Diego Chargers

  • Will the team be the same after the firing of former Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer?
  • Can new Head Coach Norv Turner continue to maintain the Chargers record and get further in the playoffs (NFL Best 14-2 record in 2006)?
  • Will any of the WR’s including 2007 1st Rd Pick WR Craig Davis step up and take some pressure off of TE Antonio Gates.
  • The Chargers have better personnel on offense and defense more than almost every team, but can this team take the next step into contending with the Colts and Patriots?
  • Will Phillip Rivers continue to mature after a breakout first year as a starter and can RB LaDanian Tomlinson duplicate his amazing MVP numbers from last year?

NFC North

Chicago Bears

  • How will the team survive the distractions related to the release of enigmatic DT Tank Johnson?
  • Can the Bears avoid the Super Bowl loser problems (Injuries, Karma, Defections, Infighting, etc)?
  • Is Cedric Benson ready to assume the role as the featured back?
  • How will the team handle the possible holdout of franchised player LB Lance Briggs and when will he report?
  • Will Rex Grossman find the consistency needed to be a championship level quarterback (23 TD’s and 20 INT’s) and will Lovie Smith stick Rex Grossman throughout the season?

Detroit Lions

  • Can 2nd Year Head Coach Rod Marinelli finally get this team back to the playoffs?
  • How is the rehab and recovery of franchise RB Kevin Jones (foot) going?
  • Are there enough balls for everyone including 2007 1st Rd pick Calvin Johnson?
  • Will QB Jon Kitna live up to his big expectations from playing O-Coordinator Mike Martz’s offense (Predicted he would throw 50 TD’s)?
  • Will GM Matt Millen survive after this season (3 Coaches, No Playoffs, 24-72 record)?

Green Bay Packers

  • Will this be the year that Brett Favre finally says goodbye to the NFL or will he stick around after the good feelings from a 4 game winning streak at the end of 2006?
  • Will any of the WR’s including 2006 2nd Rd Pick WR Greg Jennings step up and take some pressure off of QB Favre?
  • With RB Ahmad Green going to the Houston Texans, Who will be the featured RB for the Packers (Morency, Heron, or 2nd Rd Draftee Brandon Jackson)?
  • Will the defense be better with the maturing of AJ Hawk and the addition of 2007 1st Rd pick Justin Harrell (Allowed 27 pts per game in 2007)?
  • Can the Packers young O-Line continue to protect the 38 year old Favre (237 Consecutive Starts)?

Minnesota Vikings

  • Can QB Tavaris Jackson live up to the expectations of being a full time starter in 2007or should the Vikings have a plan B?
  • Will RB Adrian Peterson live up to the hype of being the first RB selected in the 2007 Draft?
  • Will owner Zyggi Wilff get the new stadium he is seeking or are the Vikings moving?
  • Will any of the WR’s including 2005 1st Rd Pick WR Troy Williamson step up and take some pressure off of QB Jackson?
  • Will any of the high draft picks on defense step up (DE Udeze, DE James, MLB Henderson, OLB Greenway, DB Griffin and others)?

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

  • How will the Cowboys adjust to the loss of disciplinarian former Head Coach Bill Parcells and the addition of “player’s coach” Wade Phillips?
  • Can Tony Romo repeat his magic from 2006 in basically his 2nd season in the NFL?
  • Will Terrell Owens make through his second season in Dallas and will he continue to make “big plays”, but still drop some routine passes?
  • Are some of the Cowboys core too Old (WR Owens, WR Glenn, LT Adams, OLB Ellis)?
  • Will the secondary improve on their coverage from 2006, especially the safeties?

New York Giants

  • Will Head Coach Tom Couglin survive another 8-8 season or is the handwriting on the wall?
  • How will the offense replace Tiki Barber and his over 2,000 yards of offense including 1,600 yards rushing?
  • Is Eli Manning ready to be the quarterback the Giants thought they traded for in 2004?
  • Will the secondary improve on their coverage from 2006, especially the CB’s?
  • Will there be harmony in the Giants locker room (Strahan, Burress, Shockey, Pierce)?

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Is Donovan McNabb healthy and what will happen if he is injured for the 4th time in 6 years and will they regret not bringing back Jeff Garcia?
  • Will Andy Reid let Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg continue to run the football?
  • Will the LB’s improve upon 3 sacks and 2.INTs now that they have added OLB Spikes, jettisoned OLB Dhani Jones, promoted OLB Chris Gcong and made other moves?
  • Are core players FS Brian Dawkins, LT William Thomas, DE Jevon Kearse, MLB Jeremiah Trotter too old?
  • After letting WR Donte Stallworth leave, can 3rd year WR Reggie Brown take the next step up becoming the Eagles go-to guy?
  • With the changes on the D-Line can they stop the run (26th Ranked)?
  • Can 2nd year players DT Bunkely, OLB Gcong, WR/KR Bloom, and OT Justice make an impact, especially first round pick Bunkley (9 TKLS)?
  • Who will long snap and hold for David Akers this season?
  • Can the Eagles cut down on their 96 penalties for 807 yards in 2006 (18th ranked)
  • Will potential free agents and quality players LT Thomas and TE LJ Smith receive contract extensions or will leave after the season like past players (ex. Burgess)
  • Will any of the rookie players make an impact in 2007 or will they be “redshirted”?
  • Will RB Brian Westbrook be healthy again and can he handle 300 touches again?
  • Who is going to be the backup RB and short yardage RB (Tony Hunt or Correll Buckhalter)?
  • Can the Eagles improve on their sack total (40) from last year and will any player reach double-digits?
  • Can Sean Considine replace Michael Lewis and physically hold up to being an every down SS (In the Box)?
  • Is there really a battle for the MLB (Trotter and Omar Gaither) and second CB (Sheldon Brown and William James) positions?

Washington Redskins

  • Does Joe Gibbs still have the fire in his belly for another NFL season?
  • Will Jason Campbell continue his maturation and become the leader of the Redskins?
  • 2006’s High Priced Pickups (WR Randle El, WR Lloyd, DE Carter and others) live up to their expectations?
  • Can the Defensive Line improve on a franchise low 19 sacks?
  • How will the ‘Skins share the rushing workload between 1,000 yard RB’s Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts?

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

  • How will the team survive the distractions related to the on-going Michael Vick dog fighting investigation and case? If Vick can’t play who starts Harrington, DJ Shockley, or a free agent.
  • Will new Head Coach Bobby Petrino establish his program and lead the Falcons back to the playoffs in spite of the Vick situation and being a college coach?
  • Can older Falcons Gandy, Milloy, Dunn, Horn, and Jackson still produce at a high level?
  • How will they replace DE Patrick Kerney’s sack production (Draftee Anderson or the often injured Abraham)?
  • Are they going to regret trading Matt Schaub to the Texans?

Carolina Panthers

  • Is Jake Delhomme ready to play and what will happen if he is ineffective (David Carr in wings?
  • Are core players FS Mike Minter, DT Kris Jenkins, DE Mike Rucker, and MLB Dan Morgan too old?
  • After cutting WR Keyshawn Johnson, can 2007 2nd Rd pick WR Dwayne Jarrett, WR Keary Colbert, WR Drew Carter, or someone else step to help Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith?
  • Is this the last year for Head Coach John Fox and is Bill Cowher waiting in the wings?
  • Now that Colts DE Dwight Freeney (6 years, $72 Million, $30 Million guaranteed) got a huge contract, will Panthers star DE Julius Peppers be looking for a similar deal?

New Orleans Saints

  • With a more difficult schedule in 2007 can the Saints repeat their 2006 success and can young Head Coach Sean Payton keep it up?
  • Can Drew Brees stay healthy and produce MVP type numbers for the 2nd year in a row?
  • Is Reggie Bush ready to have a breakout season in 2007 and will there be enough carries for Bush and McAllister?
  • Now that Joe Horn has moved on to Atlanta, will Marques Colston continue his impromptu rise and become the Saints number #1 WR?
  • Will the Saints overachieving “no-name” defense continue to excel in 2007 (Allowed 20 pts a game in 2006)?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Will John Gruden be staying or going after the season (Win in SB XXXVII is a distant memory)?
  • How many QB’s do the Buccaneers need (Garcia, Simms, Rattay, Plummer, Eugene, Gradkowski) and who is going to start?
  • Can Cadillac Williams (5’11, 204) stay healthy enough to withstand the pounding of being an every down RB (798 yards, 3.5 ypc, and 1 TD in 2006)?
  • Which WR (Joey Galloway, Maurice Stovall, Michael Clayton, David Boston or others) will step up to assume the number #1 position to help out the plethora of QB’s?
  • Are core players DE Simeon Rice, CB Rhonde Barber, OLB Derrick Brooks, CB Brian Kelly, and others too old?

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

  • Can new Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt finally get this team back to the playoffs?
  • How much does Edgerrin James have left at age 30 (Struggled last year with a 3.4 ypc)?
  • Will draftee OT Levi Brown and acquisition C Al Johnson finally solidify the O-Line after disappointing Leonard Davis left for Dallas?
  • Are the Cardinals too “Fantasy Football” based? Sure they have all the offensive weapons in the world, but they are too inconsistent.
  • Will Matt Leinart live up to his great expectations in his 2nd Season?

San Francisco 49ers

  • Are the 49ers really the Cinderella team for 2007 (Expectations similar to 2006 Saints and Jets)
  • With all of the moves that the 49ers have made (CB Nate Clements, S Michael Lewis, WR Darrell Jackson, 1st Rd Pick LB Patrick Willis and others) are they as good as the Seahawks?
  • After a solid season as a 1st year starter, is Alex Smith (2890 yards, 16 TD’s and 16 INTs) ready to become an upper tier quarterback?
  • Can the 49ers with their additions on defense improve an NFL worst 412 pts allowed (26 pts per game)?
  • Can Frank Gore stay healthy and have another season like 2006 ( 1695 yards, 5.4 ypc, 8 TDs)?

Seattle Seahawks

  • Was the Super Bowl appearance in 2005 the peak for this team and their Head Coach?
  • After 8 seasons in Seattle and being stripped of the GM duties, Is Head Coach Mike Holmgren on the Hot Seat with Paul Allen?
  • At age 30 and with an injured foot how effective will former MVP RB Shaun Alexander be (896 yards, 3.6 ypc, and 7 TDs)?
  • With all of the moves that the Seahawks have made in the last few years (WR Deion Branch, DE Patrick Kerney, S Deon Grant, LB Julian Peterson, and others) can they hold off the 49ers and Rams for the division?
  • Will Matt Hasselbeck stay healthy and will Deion Branch become his number #1 WR living up to his trade value?

St. Louis Rams 

  • Will Marc Bulger holdout and if he doesn’t play, what is Plan B (Gus Frerotte, Ryan Fitzpatrick)?
  • Are core players WR Isaac Bruce, OT Orlando Pace, WR Torry Holt, and DE Leonard Little still effective after playing on the Super Bowl team in 1999?
  • Can Steven Jackson stay healthy and have another season like 2006 ( 1528 yards, 4.4 ypc, 13 TD’s, and 90 catches)?
  • Can undersized 2007 1st Rd Draft pick DT Adam Carriker (290 pounds) make the switch to NT after playing DE in college?
  • Can the Rams with their additions on defense from the draft improve on their bottom 5 rated unit (Allowed an average of 24 pts per game)?
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