Archive for Pre-Camp Reviews

Pre-Camp Review: Chicago Bears

by Matt Soltysiak

The Bears were a win and a Viking loss away from making the playoffs last year, but it didn’t happen.  Chicago finished 9-7, but they didn’t hibernate this off-season, they made some moves.  None is bigger than the acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler.  Chicago sent a number of picks (and a qb) to Denver for the Pro Bowl quarterback.  This gives the team stability at the position for the first time in years.  The Bears also added Orlando Pace along the offensive line, re-signed running back Kevin Jones and tight end Michael Gaines.  Those departing the Windy City include quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, receiver Marty Booker and defensive leader Mike Brown.

In the draft Chicago used two third round picks to grab defensive end Jarron Gilbert from San Jose State and receiver Juaquin Iglesias from Oklahoma.  Chicago ranked 30th in passing yards allowed last season, so getting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks is a must.  The Bears also need some targets for their new franchise quarterback. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Minnesota Vikings

by Matt Soltysiak

By winning their final regular season game of the 2008 season, the Minnesota Vikings captured the NFC North title.  In fact the Vikings won five of their final six games to finish 10-6, but would lose in the Wildcard game.  There aren’t very many notable changes for Minnesota, at least not yet.  Gus Frerotte is gone as back-up quarterback, that job now belongs to Sage Rosenfells.  The Vikings re-signed tight end Jim Kleinsasser.  Of course their biggest move this off-season still involves a game of wait-and-see.  We’re talking about possibly bringing in Brett Favre to start at quarterback.  Will he or won’t he?  It should be sorted out soon enough.

In the draft Minnesota decided one of the best ways to help Tarvaris Jackson improve is to provide him with another target.  In the first round the Vikes grabbed receiver Percy Harvin from Florida.  In the second round the team took offensive lineman Phil Loadholt.  The former Oklahoma Sooner could help keep Jackson (or Brett Favre) on his feet a little more this season. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Washington Redskins

by Matt Soltysiak

It seems every year the Redskins enter the season with high expectations, only to end it with mediocre results.  Last season Washington finished 8-8, which is good enough for dead last in the difficult NFC East.   There were a few changes this off-season, but not as many as there could have been (*cough* Jay Cutler *cough*).  Defensive back Shawn Springs is gone, as are tackle Jon Jansen, receiver James Thrash and defensive end Jason Taylor.  Washington did sign former first round draft pick Mike Williams, an offensive tackle.  Considered a bust, Williams is hoping to make the most of his second chance.  Of course, their biggest move in free agency is the addition of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

In the draft Washington looked to add more pressure to opposing quarterbacks by grabbing defensive end Brian Orakpo.  Their defense already ranked in the top 10 last year, but it could be even better come 2009.  In the third round the Redskins added a defensive back. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Dallas Cowboys

by Matt Soltysiak

The Dallas Cowboys lost their last two regular season games to finish 2008 at 9-7 and miss the playoffs.  The team dealt with injuries during the season to starting quarterback Tony Romo, but he’ll be back, along with most other key players.  The notable exceptions not returning are star wide receiver Terrell Owens and safety Roy Williams.  Back-up quarterback Brad Johnson is also gone, replaced by a younger Jon Kitna.  The Cowboys re-signed receiver Miles Austin.

The draft was uneventful for Dallas in the first two rounds; they ended up trading away their picks.  Their first rounder was part of the deal for receiver Roy Williams last season.  In the third round the Cowboys grabbed linebacker Jason Williams and tackle Robert Brewster. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Philadelphia Eagles

by Matt Soltysiak

The Eagles barely made it into the playoffs last season, but got hot at the right time and made a run all the way to the NFC Championship game.  Gone from that team are tight end L.J. Smith, running back Correll Buckhalter, Brian Dawkins and Tra Thomas.  The Eagles re-signed receiver Hank Basket and acquired tackle Jason Peters.  It was a relatively quiet free agent period for the Eagles, but the draft filled a couple of potentially big needs.

In the first round Philly hopes they found another weapon for Donovan McNabb in receiver Jeremy Maclin.  In round two the Eagles replaced Buckhalter and provided some youth behind Brian Westbrook by taking running back LeSean McCoy. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: New York Giants

by Matt Soltysiak

The Giants followed up their 2007 Super Bowl run by going 12-4 and winning the NFC East in 2008.  Of course, they exited the playoffs early however.  So what’s the team going to look like this year as it tries to defend a division title?  Perhaps the biggest change is the departure of their number one target on offense.  Wide receiver Plaxico Burress was cut and it’s still unclear if he’ll even be able to play in the NFL in 2009.  Receiver Amani Toomer and running back Derrick Ward also left the Big Apple.  The defense added three pieces in Chris Canty, Michael Boley and Rocky Bernard and also resigned running back Brandon Jacobs.

In the draft New York targeted the best available receiver with their first pick.  That man turned out to be Hakeem Nicks out of North Carolina.  He has big shoes to fill and the Giants are hoping he can make some moves right out of the gate.  In the second round New York added linebacker Clint Sintim as well as tackle Will Beatty.  The team also grabbed a receiver and a tight end in the third round. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Oakland Radiers

by Matt Soltysiak

Al Davis and the Raiders managed to avoid the AFC West cellar, but didn’t do much more than that.  At 5-11, Oakland fans were treated to another lackluster season.  There are just too many explanations for their problems, so let’s just focus on some of the changes they made.  Gone are under achieving receivers Ashley Lelie, and Ronald Curry while they made some nice additions in quarterback Jeff Garcia and fullback Lorenzo Neal.

In the draft the Raiders looked to fill their biggest weakness on offense, the wide receiver position.  At number seven overall Oakland grabbed Darius Heyward-Bey from Maryland.  His speed was amazing at the combine and he did do well in college; but he didn’t put out the same type of production other receivers in the first round posted.  Oakland’s been heavily criticized for this pick.  Do the Raiders know something most don’t, or will he be another Ted Ginn Jr./Desmond Howard?  In the second they took safety Michael Mitchell who most experts didn’t have going in the first five rounds. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Kansas City Chiefs

by Matt Soltysiak

Kansas City went 2-14 last season, good enough to finish last in the AFC West.  That was also two wins less than 2007, which led to some major changes.   Head coach Herm Edwards is gone, as is Hall of Fame-to-be tight end Tony Gonzalez.  The big news of the arrivals is former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel.  They also added veteran wide receiver Bobby Engram.

The Chiefs used their third overall pick to grab Tyson Jackson.  Hopefully the defensive end can help the rest of the team stop others from gaining yards; last year KC was 31st in the league in yards allowed (393.2 per game).  They didn’t have a second round pick since they dealt it in exchange for Cassel.  In the third round Kansas City added another defensive end. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Denver Broncos

by Matt Soltysiak

Sitting at 8-5 with three games left in 2008, the Broncos were thought to be a shoe-in to make the playoffs.  Unfortunately, they lost their final three games to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs.  Head coach Mike Shanahan was dismissed, which caught many by surprise.  That was just the first of many moves made by this very stable organization.  Others who were exiled include Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, Dre Bly, Tatum Bell, Michael Pittman and Selvin Young.  To replace them, the team brought in talent that includes Kyle Orton, Andre Goodman, Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and Chris Simms.

The surprises didn’t stop, as Denver did not go with defense with their first pick.  Instead the team grabbed running back Knowshon Moreno.  They then turned to defense with their second first round pick, taking defensive end Robert Ayers.  To further help the leagues 30th ranked defense in points (and 29th in yards allowed) Denver used two of their second round picks to grab defensive back Alphonso Smith and safety Darcel McBath.  With their third pick of the round they grabbed tight end Richard Quinn. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: San Diego Chargers

by Matt Soltysiak

The Chargers finished the season with a four game winning streak, but still only managed an 8-8 record (which was enough to win the AFC West).  The Chargers are at an interesting transition.  The team’s Hall of Fame running back is nearing the end of his career, as is their tight end.  On the other hand their quarterback is living up to the expectations placed upon him as the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft.  Both LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles were resigned and Shawne Merriman should be back after missing almost all of last season on injured reserve.  There just weren’t many comings and goings in San Diego this off-season.

In the NFL draft the Chargers had just two picks in the first three rounds.  They drafted defensive end Larry English in the first round hoping, he can add a pass rush to a team that ranked 31st in passing yards allowed.  In the third round they targeted the offensive line, grabbing Louis Vasquez from Texas Tech.  The team spent their three fourth round picks on a defensive tackle, nose tackle and running back. Read more