1) Which team has the most to prove?
I’m going to have to go with the San Diego Chargers on this one. Last season, the Chargers didn’t win the AFC West for the first time since 2005; having won the AFC West 5 out of the last 7 season. San Diego also missed the playoffs, snapping their streak of four consecutive seasons. In prior seasons, it was this Charger team that made headlines about possible Super Bowl runs but has been unable to conquer that task. After giving Eric Weddle “Ed Reed money” and with the Chargers already expected to sign Vince Jackson to a franchise tender, San Diego appears to be serious about winning. They have all right tools and it starts with Philip Rivers, who is already a top five quarterback in this league. IMO, they have a pretty talented roster and it’s about time they start putting the pieces together. Soon enough, it will cost Norv his job.
2) Which coach is in a make or break season?
This should easily be Gary Kubiak. The fact that he didn’t get fired after last season surprised me. The Texans have made close strides to make the playoffs, but they have failed to deliver every season. Last season, they had the 2nd worst pass defense in NFL history. The Texans added Wade Philips at defensive coordinator this season hoping to turn things around. The Texans had great draft and now added a Pro-Bowl caliber corner in Jonathan Joseph. With DeMeco Ryans back from injury and Brian Cushing not being suspended games, the defense should improve. The offense isn’t even in question as it has been one of the top offenses in the league for the past couple of season. If the Texans do not make the Wild Card this season, Kubiak should be fired on the spot. Yes, I said Wild Card because as long as Peyton Manning is on the field the Colts will not lose their division!
3) What has been the worst free agency/trade acquisition thus far?
Drew Rosenhaus strikes again! The Carolina Panthers decided to give Charles Johnson “Julius Peppers money”, resigning him to a 6 year $72 million contract with a $30 mil signing bonus. You know what; I don’t even think Peppers got a $30 mil signing bonus. This deal is just flat out whack. Johnson broke out last season with 11.5 sacks, but prior to that he only had 10 sacks in 32 games. Sorry, but he should not be getting paid like he’s the best defensive end in the league. I think the Panthers panicked and made sure they gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Kudos to Mr. Johnson.
4) With Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco getting new life, will they be able to deliver for the Patriots?
The New England Patriots has had a pattern of getting the most out of troubled players with Corey Dillon and Randy Moss, and are now looking to stretch that trend. I do believe Belichick will be able to get the most out of both. He is the type of coach that sets the tone in the locker room or you are gone. He is a proven winner and his resume speaks for himself. Haynesworth still has the capabilities of being a good football player, he just needs to get his mind straight and get into football shape. About three to four seasons ago, he was the best defensive tackle in the business. We know he doesn’t want to play in a 3-4 defense, but I would expect Belichick to utilize him differently in a much needed pass rush. My take is that if any player isn’t stoked about playing for a Super Bowl contender probably shouldn’t be playing football.
As for Chad Ochocinco, I would expect him to make big plays especially when you have Tom Brady at the helm. I have no doubts that Chad can still effective as he is one of the best route runners in the league. His personality has been a distraction at times, but it shouldn’t be a problem here. Chad has stated that him and coach Belichick have a good relationship even outside of football and calls him a friend. It appears the two of them have a solid relationship therefore drama shouldn’t be too big of an issue. Chad still has a couple of good seasons left in him and I would expect him to be fully motivated coming into a Super Bowl contending team after those long seasons in Cincy. Come one, who wouldn’t be pumped knowing Tom Brady is throwing the football to you!
5) How much will Mike Kafka get paid next season?
First, it was Matt Schaub. Now, it’s Kevin Kolb getting a fat contract. It seems as if the trend of unproven backups for Michael Vick getting lucrative deals continues. Mike Kafka, you might be in luck!
UPDATE: Vince Young is reportedly expected to sign with the Eagles.