Greetings from the Hoodwood where the locals said a tough goodbye as we saw Princess Katie depart for Arizona. That’s the toughest part of my summer.
More of the NFL Preview Lets look to the South in order of predicted finish
2013: 11-5 Division Champs lost to New England in Divisional Round
Coach: Chuck Pagano 22-10 in 3 seasons in Indianapolis (23-12 overall)
Man on the Hot Seat: Trent Richardson is needing to assert himself as the team’s top running back with Ahmad Bradshaw pushing hard to take the
Fast Facts: The Colts have only missed the playoff once in the past 12 years
Pagano’s 22 wins are the most by a Colts Coach in his first two years since Tony Dungy
Hoosier Football: The Colts are the class of a very weak division, as long as Luck has his health, the Colts are the team to beat in the AFC South.
2013: 7-9, Missed Playoffs
Coach: Ken Whisenhunt, 1st Season in Tennessee 49-53 overall in six seasons in Arizona
Man on the Hot Seat: Jake Locker has no more excuses, he is the starter and had better hit the ground running.
Fast Facts: The Titans five year playoff drought has matched their longest since they moved to the Volunteer state
Titan Talk: The Titans are a puzzle, no one can figure what structure their offense is supposed to be in. If they’re supposed to be a running team or develop a passing game under young Jake Locker. Ken Whisenhunt is a coach that can win, he made the moribund Cards fairly respectable but this team needs a direction and fast, if they start slow they could be watching the Colts gallop away fast
2013: 2-14 Missed Playoffs (worst season since 2005)
Coach: Bill O’Brien 1st Season
Man on the Hot Seat: Ryan Fitzpatrick, the well-traveled vet has to fuel a turnaround of a team that has potential but fell hard under a bad season
Fast Facts: The Titans lost their last 14 straight games, the longest losing streak in Houston football history.
Lone Star Football: Bill O’Brien has to reconstruct a once up and coming franchise who just imploded badly last year and needs to get its collective mojo back, Matt Schaub got more or less run out on a rail and Ryan Fitzpatrick picks up the thread
2013: 4-12 Missed playoffs
Coach: Gus Bradley 2nd Season 4-12 overall
Man on the Hot Seat: Chad Henne, how long he will he be able to keep the starting job with heir apparent
Fast Facts: The Jags are one of four teams to have never played in the Super Bowl
Life on the North Coast: I’m waiting for the Jags to LA talk to pop up again, with the Jags already headed to London again, the interest in this franchise has never been lower in its 20 year history and unlike the feline expansion cousin the Panthers they have yet to play for a Super Bowl and have no real franchise direction. Drafting local bred Blake Bortles is a nice step but will he spend his halcyon days in North Florida, SoCal or London?
New Orleans Saints
2013: 11-5 Wild Card lost to Seattle in Wild Card Round
Coach: Sean Payton 73-39 in 6 seasons in New Orleans 79-43 overall
Man on the Hot Seat: Pierre Thomas, given the Saints pass happy offense clicked right back on with Payton’s return. Thomas must do enough to keep defenses honest
Fast Facts: The Saints have won 10+ games in each of Payton’s last four seasons
Big Easy Gridironers: The Saints are a dangerous team, if Drew Brees stays relatively hale this team can easily be playing in Arizona come February, blessed with a solid receiver corps and the indispensable Jimmy Graham at TE the Saints offense can put the points up. Their defense may be the most underrated in the game, if this team stays healthy I could see a deep run
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2013: 4-12 missed playoffs
Coach: Lovie Smith 1st season in Tampa; 84-66 overall in 9 seasons in Chicago
Man on the Hot Seat: Mike Glennon can he run the up-tempo offense that new coach Lovie Smith is implementing
Fast Fact: The Bucs play 3 late or prime time games in the season’s first 11 days then their remaining schedule is all 1p kickoffs
Bayfront Football: Lovie Smith takes over a team that was in full revolt after the disastrous reign of Greg Schiano and has plenty of young if unheralded talent at his disposal. Doug Martin looks to bounce back to his breakout status of 2012 after a poor 2013 that didn’t even have him lead the team in rushing, I like the Bucs to be a surprise team in the rugged NFC south
2013: 12-4 Division Champs lost to San Francisco in Divisional Round
Coach: Ron Rivera 25-23 all in Carolina (25-24 overall)
Man on the Hot Seat: Cam Newton, after a solid season and getting the Panthers an unexpected division title he pressure is now on to keep the Panthers elite
Fast Facts: The Panthers 12 wins in 2013 matched a franchise high set in 1996 and matched in 2008
Marvin Lewis hold the team record for wins and losses
Big Cat Football: The Panthers took a massive leap in 2013 rolling to an unexpected division title by outdueling the Saints, but this scribe is still not really sold on the play of Cam Newton or the suspect running game. The defense is rock solid but I just see a team taking a step back here
Coach: Mike Smith 60-37 in 6 seasons in Atlanta, (61-40 overall)
Man on the Hot Seat: Steven Jackson came to the ATL in a hyped move but looked like a shell of his days in St. Louis if the Falcons want to be taken seriously he need to have a bounce back season
Fast Facts: The Falcons had a streak of 5 straight winning seasons, their longest in franchise history snapped with the 4-12 2013 campaign
Mike Smith hold the team record for wins
Dirty South Pigskin: Injuries derailed the Falcons from the word go, and they never got on any kind of roll. A lack of a solid running game will hurt a good offense but the defense seems to have more questions than answers now. This is a deep and tough division and a team with that many questions on defense is in trouble from the jump and if Jackson is slow to comeback from a balk hamstring, you are asking too much from the redoubtable Matt Ryan.
Ill add more as the day goes. Until next post fellow sports fans…