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Weak in review: How NFC teams improved 2010 problem areas

Charles Rex Arbogast/ AP
After Jay Cutler was sacked 52 times in 2010, improving the offensive line was a top concern for the Bears.


Nobody was perfect in 2010, even the defending Super Bowl champion Packers. So how did teams improve themselves in the offseason? Let's examine every team's biggest weakness last year and how it was addressed, whether via a coaching change, the draft or free agency. This is a look at the NFC (for AFC, click here):

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Cowboys were among the NFC favorites last fall based on their talent, but underachieved due to the lack of discipline and accountability under former coach Wade Phillips.

How have they fixed it?
Jason Garrett was named the coach after guiding the team to a 5-3 record on an interim basis. He has tightened up the discipline in all aspects and jettisoned some of the underperforming veterans (Marion Barber, Leonard Davis, Roy Williams and Marc Colombo) to change the culture of the locker room.

New York Giants

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
Eli Manning led the league in interceptions with 25 picks and had an additional five turnovers on fumbles. His miscues caused the team to unravel in critical moments and led to the Giants missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

How have they fixed it?
Tom Coughlin has made an effort to retool his offensive line by releasing three veteran starters -- Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara and Shawn Andrews -- prior to training camp. His desire to get younger, more athletic players along the offensive line should provide Manning with better protection and lead to improved production.

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Philadelphia Eagles

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The defense ranked 12th in the league, but lacked aggressiveness and ferocity that has been associated with the unit for years. As a result, the unit couldn't get off the field and forced the offense to win shootouts.

How have they fixed it?
The Eagles have assembled a "Dream Team" during in free agency. Nnamdi Asomugha is the headliner, but the addition of Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Anthony Hargrove has certainly upgraded the defense and raised expectations.

Washington Redskins

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
There were numerous problems on a team that finished 6-10, but the biggest has been the constant turmoil within the locker room.

How have they fixed it?
They traded Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth, and allowed Carlos Rogers to walk via free agency. Although the loss of talent makes it hard to view the Redskins as playoff contenders, a happier team could perform more consistently.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Falcons had the NFC's best record at 13-3, but their inconsistent pass rush kept them from making a serious run at the title. While John Abraham had 13 sacks, the team didn't have another player with more than four.

How have they fixed it?
The Falcons quietly landed Ray Edwards with a five-year, $30 million deal during free agency. The sixth-year pro has 29.5 career sacks and gives the Falcons the complementary rusher they desperately needed.

Carolina Panthers

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
There are so many issues to point out on a 2-14 squad, but inept quarterback play stood out. Jimmy Clausen was unfairly thrust into the starting role as a rookie and showed he wasn't ready, completing 52.5 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 starts.

How have they fixed it?
The Panthers used the No. 1 overall pick to select Cam Newton as the new face of the franchise. The Heisman Trophy winner comes with a host of questions, but his immense talent and potential might prompt the team to rush him onto the field. If Newton falters, Derek Anderson is in place as a short-term fix.


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.

New Orleans Saints

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The defense fell off dramatically due to a failure to stop the run or generate consistent pressure on the passer. The defensive line was the main culprit as the group failed to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

How have they fixed it?
The Saints quickly signed Shaun Rogers prior to the lockout to give their front four a dominant three-technique and added Aubrayo Franklin to fortify the nose tackle spot. The team also added Cameron Jordan in the draft to upgrade the pass rush.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
Raheem Morris is committed to rebuilding the Bucs into a defensive juggernaut, but his team finished 30th in sacks and got little production from the defensive ends.

How have they fixed it?
The Bucs spent their first two draft picks on Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers to upgrade their talent on the edges. They were among the most prolific pass rushers in the draft and should be immediate starters.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Bears added Mike Martz to revamp the offense with Jay Cutler as the face, but their porous offensive line didn't provide the time to attack downfield. While Mike Tice deserves credit for getting the most out of his personnel, the patchwork unit was part of the team's demise in the playoffs.

How have they fixed it?
Chicago grabbed Gabe Carimi in the first round to shore up the tackle position and reshuffled the deck to replace Olin Kreutz with Charles Spencer. Getting rid of the veteran Kreutz wasn't a popular move in the locker room, but it gives the Bears a more athletic frontline to protect their franchise quarterback.

Detroit Lions

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Lions made significant progress a season ago, but were undone by the inconsistentcy in the secondary. The unit surrendered too many big plays in key moments and lacked the personnel to stick with division rivals.

How have they fixed it?
As a former defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz understands a pass rush can mask deficiencies in the back end. The Lions added more talent to a frontline that featured a rookie Pro Bowler (Ndamukong Suh) in 2010. By drafting Nick Fairley, the Lions hope opponents will have less time to take shots downfield and the big plays will dwindle.

Green Bay Packers

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
Mike McCarthy led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory despite having 15 players on injured reserve. The loss of several starters robbed him of fielding arguably the most talented team in the league and forced Green Bay to back into the playoffs.

How have they fixed it?
The lockout provided the Packers with an extended vacation following their deep postseason run, and the sabbatical allowed the team to enter training camp fresh. Most of the personnel, including Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant, have returned to full health, which is a scary thought for opponents.

Minnesota Vikings

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Brett Favre experiment failed miserably last season, as the veteran turned in the worst single-season performance of his career. He turned the ball over at an alarming rate and failed to display the accuracy needed to make the offense go.

How have they fixed it?
New coach Leslie Frazier allowed the team's top quarterback options to depart (Brett Favre retired; Tarvaris Jackson wasn't re-signed) and found a prospect -- Christian Ponder -- in the draft. The rookie was originally expected to start, but the recent trade for Donovan McNabb will allow Ponder to sit on the sideline until he is ready.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Cardinals were absolutely awful at quarterback a year ago. The team trotted out three different starters, and they combined for 10 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

How have they fixed it?
Ken Whisenhunt traded for Kevin Kolb to give the Cardinals a franchise quarterback to build around. Although Kolb has a brief résumé, the team is fully committed to him as their starter and the five-year, $63 million contract extension he received ensures he'll be the man in the desert for a long time.

San Francisco 49ers

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
Mike Singletary was a great motivator and inspirational presence in the locker room, but the 49ers needed a better tactician to consistently win.

How have they fixed it?
The team wooed Jim Harbaugh away from Stanford with a big-money deal, and the energetic coach is poised to change the culture of the franchise. His intensity will not only resonate with players, but his high football IQ should help the 49ers' dismal offense finally find its way.

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Seattle Seahawks

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Seahawks won the NFC West and a postseason game despite having an offense that struggled to string together drives. The lack of consistency led the team to suffer several embarrassing blowouts.

How have they fixed it?
Pete Carroll dumped his previous offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates in favor of Darrell Bevell, who is in Seattle to change the design of the offense. The Seahawks chose to sign Tarvaris Jackson over re-signing Matt Hasselbeck and added playmakers in WR Sidney Rice and TE Zach Miller to add more punch to the passing game.

St. Louis Rams

What was the biggest issue in 2010?
The Rams got better than anticipated play from Sam Bradford as a rookie, but their lack of playmakers at receiver limited the offense. Without a true No. 1 receiver, opponents were able to condense the field and force Bradford to settle for underneath throws.

How have they fixed it?
Steve Spagnuolo added three playmakers in the draft -- TE Lance Kendricks, WR Austin Pettis and WR Greg Salas. The team also added veteran Mike Sims-Walker to the mix, while awaiting the return of Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton. The receiving corps still has a lot of questions, but the talent and depth has certainly been upgraded.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks

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