News  

 

Eagles, Saints on right track; Cowboys, 'Skins have work to do

No team can lay claim to winning the Super Bowl in the offseason and improving a roster is a yearlong endeavor. However, the shortened free-agent period has allowed some teams to improve on paper while others left us wondering if they received the memo about the lockout ending.

Having spent more than 20 years working in personnel departments in the NFL, it's only natural that each move made causes a reaction -- positively and negatively. With that said, here is my breakdown of where some teams are after the initial frenzy of signings.


The NFL free agency cycle is in full effect, with teams and players agreeing to terms fast as training camps open. Get the latest on all the news right here.

Off to a good start

Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia has been aggressive, spending big to land prized cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and defensive end Jason Babin. The Eagles also made some really sound economic deals with defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Anthony Hargrove, as well as running back Ronnie Brown. The Eagles have added talent and quality depth.

And with this talent infusion -- primarily on defense -- there could potentially be eight new starters to go with a coordinator, Juan Castillo, who was the offensive line coach a year ago and has never coached defense in the NFL. The unit might look good on paper right now, but expect a few bumps in the road early as all these changes sort themselves out.

Even after all the moves they have made, their Super Bowl hopes will ride on the health of quarterback Michael Vick. He missed four games last year but must now stay healthy since the team traded Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals.

To use a basketball reference, Vick is the point guard of this Eagles fast-break attack. If the team has to play an extended time with either Vince Young or Mike Kafka at quarterback, then all these moves might very well go to waste.

New Orleans Saints

I love what the Saints have been doing all offseason, starting with bringing in defensive tackle Shaun Rogers from Cleveland, then adding nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin from San Francisco to be in their rotation. These two players, along with Sedrick Ellis, will give the Saints more power inside. The end result will be allowing New Orleans to win on first down, something it struggled with last year when the defense finished 26th in the NFL in opponents' first-down efficiency.

The Saints also were able to keep their core free agents along the offensive line, as well as slot receiver Lance Moore.

New Orleans is always dangerous as long as Drew Brees is at quarterback and coach Sean Payton runs the offense. Coupled with the defensive additions, I am starting to like the Saints' chances of being the best in the NFC.

Tennessee Titans

Signing Matt Hasselbeck puts the Titans in position to instantly compete with the Colts for the top spot in the AFC South.

Hasselbeck will bring stability to the quarterback position and, assuming the front office can smooth things over with star running back Chris Johnson, the Titans have the makings of an effective offense.

There are problems still in Tennessee. The defense suffered greatly from the lack of offensive consistency last season, but the lack of offense cannot shoulder all the blame for a defense that ranked 26th overall. Adding linebacker Barrett Ruud will help, but the Titans must get better work from their secondary in order to become a serious playoff contender.

Still got work to do

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys tried valiantly to add Asomugha to their cornerback stable but fell short. Now they must depend on Terence Newman to, first, stay healthy and, secondly, play well. Both might be tough for Newman.

The Cowboys are placing a ton of confidence in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Part of Ryan's aggressive plan relies on the corners excelling in man-to-man coverage, and, right now, Dallas still has work to do in that area.

Washington Redskins

Someone once said, "Don't confuse activity with productivity." For me, that idea applies to the Redskins' offseason, including all their movement in the draft.

I don't mean to imply that Washington hasn't improved -- because it has -- but without a proven quarterback or a speed receiver to go vertical, I don't think the Redskins have closed the gap enough to make a playoff run.

Until John Beck proves to be a legitimate starting quarterback, Washington will always be a question mark. No matter how much better the team appears, if it doesn't get solid quarterback play, it will be though for these moves to shine brightly.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop

NFL News
CONTENT
15