Archive for Pre-Camp Reviews

Pre-Camp Review: St. Louis Rams

by Matt Soltysiak

As if a 3-13 2007 season wasn’t bad enough, St. Louis went 2-14 last year, leading to plenty of changes for this team.  Those departing include Hall of Fame to be (receiver) Torry Holt, another cornerstone of the team in tackle Orlando Pace and quarterback Trent Green retired.  Touching down in St. Louis include quarterback Kyle Boller and receiver Ronald Curry.

In the draft the Rams hope they found Pace’s replacement in offensive tackle Jason Smith.  In the second round the team took linebacker James Laurinaitis and in the third round added defensive back Bradley Fletcher.

What to watch for in training camp

Does the quarterback have anything left?  Bulger enters only his 8th NFL season, but each of the last two season’s his quarterback rating was in the 70’s for the only times in his career and he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, not exactly a winning formula.  Health is also a concern as he’s only played a full season once. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Seattle Seahawks

by Matt Soltysiak

Mike Holmgren’s going away party was such a festive event.  Seattle went 4-12 last season, after going 10-6 and 9-7 in the two previous seasons.  Injuries were one of the biggest reasons, especially to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.  The biggest off-season move by the club is the signing of free agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who gives the receiving corps quite an upgrade.

In the draft the Seahawks focused on defense grabbing linebacker Aaron Curry with their first round pick.  Seattle also drafted tackle Max Unger in the second round and receiver Deon Butler in the third.

What to watch for in training camp

Matt Hasselbeck had a horrible season last year, mostly due to injury (in 7 games he threw 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions).  If he can return to good health and get some protection, watch out!  Remember, in 2007 he threw for 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  See that he’s healthy. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: San Francisco 49’ers

by Matt Soltysiak

San Francisco closed the season with two wins to finish at 7-9, good enough for second place in the weak NFC West.  Of course Mike Singletary took over as head coach and when the season came to an end Mike Martz decided to leave town.  Along with Martz, receiver Bryant Johnson, running back DeShaun Foster and quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan also left the bay area.  The team brought in Damon Huard to add depth on the quarterback chart.

For much of the teams’ improvement they looked to the draft.  In the first round San Francisco selected receiver Michael Crabtree and in the third round the team took running back Glen Coffee.

What to watch for in training camp

There’s so much to watch, they should make a movie for this team.  The quarterback position is anything but settled.  Shaun Hill appears to have a slim upper hand, but former number one overall pick Alex Smith is still around.  Injuries have sidelined him for much of his short career, but he still has a chance to make good on his draft position. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals finished 2008 with a 9-7 record.  Although the team sputtered towards the end of the season, Arizona put in a good enough effort in the playoffs to reach their first Superbowl.  Two of the bigger names not returning for the 2009 campaign come from the Cardinals’ backfield as Edgerrin James was cut and J.J. Arrington left via free agency.  The team re-signed quarterback Kurt Warner to a two-year deal, a major resigning for the organization.

In the draft Arizona addressed their biggest concern on offense from last season, running back.  The team drafted Chris “Beannie” Wells from Ohio State with the 31st pick.  They then looked to bolster their defense by grabbing a defensive end and a defensive back in the second and third rounds.

What to watch for in training camp

The Cardinals should be guided by Kurt Warner again this season unless he suffers any sort of injury, with former first rounder Matt Leinart to once again be carrying a clipboard. 

Tim Hightower returns as the only running back with experience.  Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

by Matt Soltysiak

Tampa Bay lost the last four games of their season to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs, a collapse equal to that of the Denver Broncos.  The team enters 2009 with a new head coach in Raheem Morris.  The Bucs will have a new quarterback under center as Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese are no longer in town.  Wide receiver Joey Galloway and running back Warrick Dunn are also gone.  Replacements heading into Tampa include tight end Kellen Winslow, running back Derrick Ward and quarterback Byron Leftwich.

In the draft Tampa Bay addressed their quarterback concerns by taking Josh Freeman with their first round pick.  Tampa didn’t have a second round pick and their third and fourth round picks were used on the defensive side of the ball.

What to watch for in training camp

There are so many questions surrounding this team starting with the quarterback.  Will Josh Freeman start the season under center or will Byron Leftwich be the starter?  Either way, the position is a fragile one.  Leftwich is better from a fantasy perspective because he should have more immediate success.  Read more

Pre-Camp Review: New Orleans Saints

by Matt Soltysiak

An 8-8 record is not what the Saints expected last season, especially considering the team put up more points than any other team in the NFL.  The biggest move this off-season was the (not so unexpected) release of Deuce McAllister.  Major injuries took a toll as he missed 28 games in the last four seasons alone.  Also jettisoned was wide receiver David Patten.

In the draft the Saints focused on fixing their biggest weakness, the defense.  All four of their draft picks were used on defense and special teams.  With their first round pick they grabbed defensive back Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Carolina Panthers

by Matt Soltysiak

The Panthers won the NFC South last year going 12-4.  A strong two-headed rushing campaign headed by DeAngelo Williams was a big reason for the club’s success.  A few changes for the club include the release of receiver D.J. Hackett and the re-signing of quarterback Jake Delhomme to a five-year extension.

In the NFL draft Carolina used both second round picks and a third round pick all on the defensive side of the ball adding a defensive end, defensive back and a defensive tackle.  This doesn’t to infuse talent on the offensive side of the ball, but the Panthers were already successful there and a stronger defense just might help the offense get back out on the field quicker. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Atlanta Falcons

by Matt Soltysiak

The Falcons shocked even themselves last year by going 11-5 and taking second place in the NFC South.  With a rookie quarterback and a free agent running back the Falcons flew high enough to make the entire city forget about Michael Vick.  The majority of the roster remains intact for 2009, though Atlanta did lose defensive back Dominique Foxworth and defensive tackle Grady Jackson in the offseason.  The Falcons also cut ties with Michael Vick, which means it’s Matt Ryan’s team for the foreseeable future.  Of course the one big addition is to the squad is Hall of Fame bound tight end Tony Gonzalez.

In the NFL draft Atlanta targeted defensive players in the first three rounds by taking a defensive tackle, safety and cornerback.  With the development of Roddy White and the addition of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons appear set on the offensive side of the ball. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Detroit Lions

by Matt Soltysiak

This team needs little introduction as you had to have lived under a rock last year to not know the Detroit Lions became the first 0-16 team in NFL history.  Obviously, pretty much nothing went right.  This year the Lions could be the league’s most improved team by winning just six or seven games… Amazing!

As for roster turnover, there’s a ton of changes with this team.  Those leaving include quarterbacks Jon Kitna & Dan Orlovsky, running back Rudi Johnson, and wide receivers Mike Furrey & Shaun McDonald (don’t forget that Roy Williams was traded during the season).  Detroit brought in receivers Bryant Johnson, Ronald Curry and recently traded for Dennis Northcutt to help pick up the slack.

In the NFL draft the Lions went offense with their first two picks even though the team’s defense has ranked at the bottom that last couple years.  Quarterback Matthew Stafford was the number one pick in the draft.  With their second first round pick, Detroit grabbed tight end Brandon Pettigrew.  In the second the Lions grabbed safety Louis Delmas. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Green Bay Packers

by Matt Soltysiak

Struggling to 6-10 to finish, the 2008 season is not what the Packers or their fans expected after a great 2007 campaign.  Of course all the “Brett Favre talk” last season didn’t help things much, and that same thing’s happening this year (except Favre might actually play against his old team if he comes back this time). 

This off-season has been relatively quiet for the Packers.  Their biggest move was re-signing wide receiver Greg Jennings to a four-year contract extension. 

In the NFL Draft they focused on defense with their two first round picks by grabbing Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji and USC defensive end Clay Matthews.  The team offense was quite effective last year (5th in points), but the defense couldn’t stop the run (ranked 26th) and gave up too many points (ranked 22nd) to be competitive. Read more