S2014I01:: The GreenZone Report
Sunday, December 23rd, 2013
Kurt Ison, GreenZone Media Committee
QB Robert Griffin III
The Buffalo Bills were better this season, but still have a ways to go to become a playoff calibre team. RGIII did nothing with his legs and his arm only got the Bills by. If this team want's to take the next step they need more from their quarterback. He should be better in his second year and his play should give us a idea if he will be the long term solution in Buffalo.
CB Sean Smith
The Dolphins season came to a end when they couldn't contain the eventual Champion Chargers offence. A guy like Sean Smith will have a sour taste in his mouth and he along with his guys on defence will need to improve their play. Smith was a ball hawk all season and he will have to keep snagging interceptions to ease the pressure on Eli and the offence.
QB Mark Sanchez
Not many players in the GZL have the pressure that Mark Sanchez has. Being one of the many bizarre moves in New York he ended up with the rival Patriots and forced team icon Tom Brady away from the team. The fans have their reasons to dislike him, he is a ex-Jet and he forced the managements hand to dispatching Brady. He had a bad year and he can't afford to have another one.
QB Kevin Kolb
After Sanchez and most of the team and management departed the Jets were left without a signal caller. New management has lured Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia and he seems to be the leading candidate for week one. His time with the Eagles wasn't impressive but the Jets need some good news and if he can play above his weight it will be a huge boost to football in New York.
WR Miles Austin
You would think setting records across the board would keep you safe from moving teams over the offseason. But as Austin found no one is safe as his Cowboys shopped him around. However he still remains in Dallas and will need to put aside the hurt feelings and offer up another record breaking year to help bail Tony Romo out. The NFC East is getting stronger, the Cowboys need to keep them at bay for as long as possible.
QB Colin Kaepernick
It's rumoured that Kapepernick will be the guy to lead the Giants next season. With Henne leaving and Cassell arriving mid season the position was always going to be up for grabs. The coaches believe he is ready and it's no secret the teams success starts at quarterback. New York was ever so close to grabbing a playoff spot, until their former passer Chad Henne and the Redskins sunk their hopes. They will need this kid to give them that extra step.
CB DeAngelo Hall
The ball hawk returns to D.C after spending time with the Houston Texans. He re-joins a Redskin defence which played well above its weight and his turnover capability will be welcomed. Washington has question marks in positions on defence, a veteran like Hall will need to play well to help cover those holes.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Things didn't turn out how they were supposed to in Philadelphia last season. The big acquisition of champion Rodgers wasn't enough to stop the rot and the impatient Eagles fans have had enough. Their isn't a reason why Rodgers shouldn't be performing and so he must get back to his form he showed in Green Bay to repay what the Eagles invested in him. Another losing seasons will raise serious questions.
WR Devin Hester
Hester joined the Ravens as a free agent and had his biggest year at wide receiver. He has great hands and although he isn't big he is blistering quick. His talents have been neglected in the past but Baltimore are working him into the offence. They will need every bit of his game changing abilities both as a pass catcher and as a return man.
DE Geno Atkins
Cincinnati lost a gear last season but they unveiled Geno Atkins. A fourth round pick in 2010 he had to wait till last year to see game time. He proved he can be a valuable addition to this defensive unit, recording sacks and forcing turnovers. He earn't his spot for the coming season but he will need to reproduce his form to stop him from being forgotten again.
QB Boston Mallett
Mallett had a good rookie year, his huge frame and cannon arm excited all in Cleveland and did a decent job leading them to 7-9. But he will need to make strides this season, his huge arm can't be restricted to short yard passes. He is in a tough defensive division which makes his progression harder. But there is no excuses, he needs to get Cleveland wins.
MLB Lawrence Timmons
The dominant Steelers showed some chinks in their armour. A change of management didn't help as they were bundled out of the playoffs early. The Pittsburgh defence is anchored by Timmons who has yet to have a bad season. But his support crew won't be there forever and rival teams are improving, Timmons might need to lift his game as well.
HB Darren McFadden
After arriving in Chicago from Oakland, McFadden has dropped off the radar. Sharing a backfield with Matt Forte who has been the favoured back by the Bears has been the major reason. Its hard to believe McFadden is being wasted as a number two back with his incredible skill set. If the Bears aren't going to use him they should move him to help fill holes elsewhere.
HB Lamar Miller
One of Tim Riddells projects to escape New York, he joins the Lions and will be fighting with Jonathan Stewart for the start. Miller had a quality rookie year for the Jets but he played above his potential. Most can't see him repeating that type of year again, however the Lions could use him to get the edge as they chase another NFC Championship.
OLB Brian Orakpo
The biggest acquisition this off-season for Green Bay with the freakish Orakpo joining the team from D.C. He joins a stacked line backer corp which is easily the most talented in the GZL. Orakpo will have to earn his place against the rest of his line backers and build one of the toughest defences in the NFC.
HB David Wilson
Wilson fell on his feet being drafted by a recently departed Peterson Vikings. A fourth round pick he got the starting job and had a good a year as Lamar Miller previously of the Jets. But he is and never will be Adrian Peterson. But he did his job last season and if he can continue to improve slowly he will ease the loss of AP.
WR Darvin Adams
Entering his third year the former late second rounder has developed into quite the receiver. The Texans are a team on the verge of success, but have stumbled in back to back post seasons. Adams is a guy who given the chance could tip Houston over the edge and get them there. Watch for him to get more game time this season.
HB Reggie Bush
Another stud back sharing the backfield like in Chicago. But Bush was cut down by injury in week three and never saw the field again. Injuries often take a step off players, especially guys like Bush who rely so much on it. It's a big season coming for Bush in his return year and he could be in for a big one.
WR Jeff Fuller
Jacksonville have become a punching bag for their rivals and need a answer. Fuller joined the team last off-season from Carolina and his 6'4" frame made him a hard guy to cover. But Jacksonville will need a lot more from him to get them close to the rest of the AFC South. But another full pre-season with the Jaguars could see Fuller putting up bigger and better numbers.
FS Patrick Murphy
Tennessee have tripped up twice in the AFC Championship games in back to back seasons. Former first round pick Patrick Murphy has improved every year and the Titans will hope the 6'4" free safety will take another step. The defensive backfield in Tennessee is getting questioned, Murphy can help quieten them down.
DE Robert Quinn
Atlanta stunned a few teams in the playoffs after finishing 9-7, one player who was a key reason why was their defensive end Robert Quinn. Getting pressure on a opposing quarterback in this league is extremely important and Quinn did it well in the post season. However he needs to get it done during the season. He has the skills to get it done next season.
CB Chimdi Chewka
The Panthers are still searching for their first GZL playoff appearance and being in the division they are makes it tough. In 2011 they made a great pick with the fifth overall when they took corner Chimidi Chewka, he is developing into a shut down corner. He also made the kick return job his own, players with such abilities are what is needed in Carolina.
HB Jacquizz Rodgers
After three great years for the Saints in the GZL they came back to earth with a 6-10 finish. Running back Rodgers who has been for the team for two seasons improved on his numbers but it wasn't enough to help New Orleans. There is plenty of talent surrounding the young tail back, he needs to do a better job of exploiting those wholes and return the Saints to the playoffs.
CB Morris Claiborne
Last years first overall pick had a quiet year compared to what most thought he would. He has a lot of expectation placed on him, he was beaten a lot in coverage and he wasn't the ball hawk people were use to seeing in his college days. However it's only a matter of time till he explodes on the GZL and he will be dangerous. This season may be it.
HB Knowshon Moreno
Denver were disappointing last season and Knowshon Moreno seems to be stuck in second. Credit for correcting his fumble issues however he still isn't productive enough and fails to find the end zone. Teams aren't afraid of being burnt by Moreno and hence they can focus on defending the pass. Moreno may be past the age to expect a dramatic improvement from his game.
QB Andrew Luck
The Kansas City Chiefs are still waiting for the prodigy to reach the potential people expect. He put up numbers you expect from rookies and they are the same numbers this years rookies put up. Does the blame fall on Luck? The coaches? His supporting cast? They shipped Dwayne Bowe which didn't help but Luck needs to find away to improve, no matter which players he ends up throwing to.
QB Michael Vick
Oakland surprised the league when they were willing to give Michael Vick a opportunity to start. Vick has been great for not only Oakland but Carolina and Philadelphia previously and he led Oakland well in the post season. But he is ageing and those legs will only get slower, he will need to learn how to play without his elusiveness quickly otherwise he will get hit a lot more often.
OLB Melvin Ingram
The Champions don't need to improve but they have talent stepping up to keep the Chargers on top. Rookie line backer Melvin Ingram won the job over his veteran team mates and did a solid job. However he wasn't as big a impact as people though. He is a big physical guy but he struggled to get near the ball carrier to make any major impact. If he can work either on his speed or his awareness he will be a valuable asset to this defence.
QB Christian Ponder
Third year quarterback Christian Ponder has been a player under the radar and has been great for Arizona. Last year was a huge year for the young passer but his impressive performance wasn't enough to land the Cardinals in the post season. For Arizona to have a chance they will need Ponder to continue his impressive performances and hope the rest of the team can keep up.
HB Keith Payne
The Rams broke into the post season but it ended quickly. Their beast back Keith Payne continues to improve on his previous seasons and he took a big step last season. The division is starting to heat up and they will need Payne to put up big numbers while punishing opposition defences. Being shopped around may make or break the young runners career in St.Louis.
HB Trent Richardson
Things only got worse in San Francisco, even drafting Trent Richardson couldn't stop the steep decent into the abyss. Individually Richardson was a major disappointment, he was given his carries but failed to deliver. A sad two rushing touchdowns shows it all. It can't be all put on him but he needs to win his individual battles more often, otherwise the 49ers will continue to dwell in the cellar.
OLB Aaron Curry
Seattle was another team to make their first GZL play off appearance and the season will be marked as a success. However the line backer corps for the coming season is looking weak. One player holding his end is Aaron Curry, he was all over the field getting through work and will have to do so again next season. Seattle will need to be careful they young line backer isn't over worked and ends up hurt.
Thanks for reading! This will be a random feature that will cover various topics around GZL! Would love to hear your thoughts!