ATL Mailbag: When will we see Geno Smith, EJ Manuel?


As training camp calls to us like a teasing siren, we pass the time with another ATL Mailbag.

Thanks to all those who submitted questions. Except that one guy. You know who you are. Creep.

Let's do this thing.

If you believe Philip Rivers still has the ability to be a Pro Bowl-level quarterback (which I do), the San Diego Chargers have a fighting chance. That said, they're going to need multiple areas on their roster to break the right way. There are legitimate questions at running back, wide receiver, on both lines, and in the secondary. Losing linebacker Melvin Ingram to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in May was a killer. Manti Te'o needs to be an instant contributor.

As for the "REALLY easy" schedule comment, don't be so sure. Yes, the Chargers have the second easiest slate in terms of strength of schedule, but what does that really mean? Every season is a reset button.

So, is a playoff trip possible? Sure. Would I preemptively sell the dog for playoff ticket money? No. Would I sell a dog under any circumstances? Only if it was under 30 pounds.

I don't think this is their time ... yet. I still put the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals ahead of them from a talent standpoint within the division, but 2013 certainly has the potential to be a year of growth for the Browns.

The defense could become a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Now working in the 3-4, the outside linebacker position is loaded with free-agent acquisition Paul Kruger and No. 6 overall pick Barkevious Mingo. And while I'm not sold on Brandon Weeden as The Man, the second-year quarterback should benefit from the arrival of new coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

Two high-end concerns:

1) The health of Trent Richardson: The Browns downplayed his shin injury this spring, but there's reason for some consternation. Richardson battled through injuries throughout his rookie season, and he's starting his sophomore campaign with more issues. It's a disturbing trend for a potential star.

2) The Pilot Flying J scandal: Jimmy Haslam has put up a confident front, but it's never good when your owner is connected to a federal investigation of fraud, conspiracy and other ugliness. Remember, Browns fans already learned the hard way how a promising season can be undermined by ownership tumult. Browns fans don't deserve to go through it again.

They haven't called me yet, but I'm confident I'd be more explosive than Michael Turner.

I'd be extremely surprised if either player spends the entire season holding a clipboard.

Of the two, Manuel has the best chance to start in Week 1. He's a first-round draft pick who has to work his way past the immortal highly mortal Kevin Kolb on the depth chart.

The New York Jets are far more likely to begin the season with their veteran underachiever behind center. Mark Sanchez has projected confidence in his comments to the press. He knows this is his job to lose.

One thing's for sure: If the Jets and Bills bumble through September, change will come. Don't be surprised if both Smith and Manuel are starting by Halloween.

I think talk of the Super Bowl is premature. Yes, the Colts had an excellent, uplifting, Disney Movie kind of season in 2012. But it's certainly possible the Colts suffer a short-term regression in 2013. It goes back to the loss of Bruce Arians, the former offensive coordinator/interim coach who connected on such a high level with Andrew Luck. The hiring of Pep Hamilton (Luck's O.C. at Stanford) was certainly a play for continuity, but successfully installing the so-called "No Coast Offense" will take time.

And if the offense takes a step back, we're not confident Indy's defense (ranked 26th last year) will be able to pick up the slack. I see an 8-8 or 9-7-type year. Don't worry though: With Luck entrenched, true Super Bowl opportunities will arrive sooner rather than later.

Hmmmm ... a name. The Great Demon? The Artery Destroyer? The Girlfriend Repellent?

I got it: The "This Is A Tasty Sandw...Hey, My Right Arm Is Numb."

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.