NFL Primer: Offseason Losers
We've already examined the offseason winners as we look ahead to the 2010 NFL season but what about the teams that had a less-than-stellar offseason? Below are four teams that might find the 2010 season to be unkind.
Pittsburgh Steelers The Steelers were in the headlines this spring but for all the wrong reasons. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ran into legal trouble for the second straight year and was handed a minimum four game suspension by the league. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes also ran afoul and was sent packing to the Jets. Then to make matters worse, offensive line mainstay Willie Colon ruptured his Achilles tendon, knocking him out for the season. In 2009 the Steelers leaned on Roethlisberger more than usual as their running game was less than ordinary. Of course, more throws meant more sacks as Pittsburgh yielded 50 sacks last year and will be porous again without Colon. Just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl title the Steelers may struggle to be a .500 team.
Philadelphia Eagles After years of speculation Donovan McNabb was finally shown the door and Kevin Kolb becomes the starter under center. Another longtime veteran, running back Brian Westbrook, was released. Kolb certainly has the potential and showed that potential in limited action last year but can he effective for an entire season? Remember, for all the doubting McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC Championship appearances last decade and his leadership will be missed. Now the Eagles will face McNabb twice this year. Westbrook also leaves big shoes to be filled and youngster LeSean McCoy struggled as a number one runner at times. Meanwhile defensively the Eagles suffered a major blow when free agent pick up Marlin Jackson suffered a ruptured Achilles, ending his season. While the Eagles have playmakers at cornerback they are still searching for a replacement for Brian Dawkins at safety. Philly's secondary was exposed in back-to-back losses to Dallas to end the season and will need another big year from the corners to get back to the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills Exactly what were the Bills thinking during the draft? With 2007 first round pick Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson already on the roster the Bills picked explosive running back C.J. Spiller with the ninth overall pick. Spiller is dangerous with the football but how often will he be on the field? The real problem will be throwing the ball. Buffalo lost both Terrell Owens and Josh Reed in free agency. Maybe Owens is addition by subtraction but now without Reed the top returning receiver is Lee Evans. The next best returning receiver is Roscoe Parrish, who caught only three passes last year. By taking Spiller instead of a quarterback (and then not selecting a QB until the seventh round) the Bills didn't address the QB position and are stuck again with the mediocre trio of Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm. It's no surprise the Bills finished 28th in scoring and 30th in passing. Those numbers might be even worse in 2010.
Arizona Cardinals Under the guidance of Kurt Warner the Cardinals had a magnificent two year run including a trip to the Super Bowl in 2008. But Warner retired in the offseason and again the Cards turn it over to former first round pick Matt Leinert. The USC product washed out as a starter in 2007 and while Arizona still has Larry Fitzgerald the Cardinals lost receivers Anquan Boldin and Jerheme Urban, weakening one of the deepest receiving groups in the league. On defense the Cardinals lost veterans Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle. Dansby's replacement, Joey Porter, was subsequently arrested for DUI. Arizona revamped their offensive line through free agency but can they protect Leinert adequately? Will Leinert finally play to his ability? Do the Cards have any playmakers in the secondary outside of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? These are not the kinds of questions a two time defending divisional champs should be asking in late July.