2013 NFL Preview

2013 NFL Preview: NFC

 

smagoloff@miamiherald.com

NFC EAST

COWBOYS

Coach: Jason Garrett (21-19, fourth season).

Key additions: S Will Allen (Patriots), LB Justin Durant (Lions), DT Nick Hayden (free agent), CB Brandon Underwood (free agent), C Travis Frederick (draft), LT Demetress Bell (Eagles).

Key losses: RB Felix Jones (Eagles), P Brian Moorman (Steelers), CB Mike Jenkins (Raiders), S Gerald Sensabaugh (released), DE Marcus Spears (released).

Outlook: After missing the playoffs the past three seasons, owner Jerry Jones responded by taking play-calling duties away from Garrett and entrusting them with new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. But quarterback Tony Romo also will be under immense pressure. Coming off a career-high 4,903 passing yards, with 28 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions, he got a six-year, $108 million extension. Dynamic Dez Bryant and fleet but injury-prone Miles Austin return at receiver, with steady Jason Witten at tight end.

GIANTS

Coach: Tom Coughlin (83-61, 10th season with Giants, 151-121 in 17 seasons overall).

Key additions: TE Brandon Myers (Raiders), DT Cullen Jenkins (Eagles), K Josh Brown (Bengals), WR Louis Murphy (Panthers), OT Justin Pugh (draft), DE Damontre Moore (draft), DT Johnathan Hankins (draft), DT Mike Patterson (Eagles), MLB Dan Connor (Cowboys), OLB Aaron Curry (free agent), OLB Kyle Bosworth (Jaguars), CB Aaron Ross (Jaguars), S Ryan Mundy (Steelers).

Key losses: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts), TE Martellus Bennett (Bears), DT Chris Canty (Ravens), MLB Chase Blackburn (Panthers), K Lawrence Tynes (Buccaneers), WR Domenik Hixon (Panthers), OT Sean Locklear (free agent), DE Osi Umenyiora (Falcons), OLB Michael Boley (free agent), CB Justin Tryon (free agent), S Kenny Phillips (Eagles).

Outlook: A potentially explosive offense returns, but the Giants’ chances are likely to rest on a defense that allowed the NFL’s second-highest yardage total.

EAGLES

Coach: Chip Kelly (first season).

Key additions: LB Connor Barwin (Texans), S Patrick Chung (Patriots), CB Bradley Fletcher (Rams), S Kenny Phillips (Giants), CB Cary Williams (Ravens), LB Emmanuel Acho (Browns), NT Isaac Sopoaga (49ers), DT Bennie Logan (draft), WR Arrelious Benn (Buccaneers), TE James Casey (Texans), RB Felix Jones (Cowboys), T Lane Johnson (draft), TE Zach Ertz (draft), QB Matt Barkley (draft).

Key losses: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (49ers), DT Cullen Jenkins (Giants), DT Mike Patterson (Giants), LB Akeem Jordan (Chiefs), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Broncos), T King Dunlap (Chargers).

Outlook: Charged with revitalizing the franchise, first-year NFL coach Chip Kelly — an innovator while at Oregon — chose Michael Vick as his starting quarterback. Vick played in 10 games in 2012 because of a concussion and threw for 2,362 yards with 12 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The greatest concern is on the defense, which adopts a 3-4 scheme.

REDSKINS

Coach: Mike Shanahan (21-27, fourth season with Redskins, 167-125 in 19 seasons overall).

Key additions: LB Nick Barnett (Bills), LB/DE Darryl Tapp (Eagles), CB David Amerson (draft), T Jeremy Trueblood (Buccaneers), WR Donte’ Stallworth (Patriots), C/G Kevin Matthews (Titans).

Key losses: LB Lorenzo Alexander (Cardinals), CB D.J. Johnson (Lions), CB Cedric Griffin (free agent), S Madieu Williams (free agent), OT Jammal Brown (free agent).

Outlook: Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III led the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and they won their division for the first time since 1999. But after tearing ligaments in his right knee in the wild-card loss against Seattle, Griffin was held out of the entire preseason and hoping to first test the surgically repaired knee in Week 1. Fellow rookie Alfred Morris surprised with 1,613 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. And the defense gets linebacker Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral) back.

NFC NORTH

BEARS

Coach: Marc Trestman (first season).

Key additions: LB James Anderson (Panthers), TE Martellus Bennett (Giants), OG Eben Britton (Jaguars), OT Jermon Bushrod (Saints), QB Trent Edwards (free agent), FB Tony Fiammetta (Patriots), DT Corey Irvin (Bucs), DE Kyle Moore (Bills), LB DJ Williams (Broncos), S Tom Zbikowski (Colts), OG Kyle Long (draft), LB Jonathan Bostic (draft).

Key losses: QB Jason Campbell (Browns), OL Gabe Carimi (Bucs), TE Kellen Davis (Browns), LB Geno Hayes (Jaguars), DE Israel Idonije (Lions), WR Johnny Knox (retired), OG Lance Louis (Dolphins), CB DJ Moore (Panthers), LB Nick Roach (Raiders), HB Evan Rodriguez (Dolphins), TE Matt Spaeth (Steelers), OL Chris Spencer (Titans), LB Brian Urlacher (retired).

Outlook: Trestman’s greatest success comes from his work in the CFL, so his hiring was met with skepticism from Chicago fans, who hope his offensive ingenuity helps quarterback Jay Cutler reach his potential.

LIONS

Coach: Jim Schwartz (22-42, fifth season).

Key additions: RB Reggie Bush (Dolphins), DE Jason Jones (Seahawks), S Glover Quin (Texans), K David Akers (49ers), LB Rocky McIntosh (Rams), DE Ezekiel Ansah (draft), CB Darius Slay (draft), G Larry Warford (draft), G Jake Scott (Eagles), S Chris Hope (Falcons), DE Israel Idonije (Bears).

Key losses: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (Panthers), WR Titus Young (free agent), DE Cliff Avril (Seahawks), T Gosder Cherilus (Colts), LB Justin Durant (Cowboys), CB Drayton Florence (Panthers), K Jason Hanson (retired), P Nick Harris (free agent), DT Sammie Hill (Titans), DE Lawrence Jackson (Vikings), RB Kevin Smith (free agent), DT Corey Williams (free agent), T Jeff Backus (retired), G Stephen Peterman (Jets).

Outlook: Calvin Johnson again looked like the best receiver in football last season, and quarterback Matt Stafford passed for nearly 5,000 yards. Bush should help the run game, and the defensive line was rebuilt.

PACKERS

Coach: Mike McCarthy (74-38, eighth season).

Key additions: TE Matthew Mulligan (Rams), QB Vince Young (free agent), DE Datone Jones (draft), RB Eddie Lacy (draft), OT David Bakhtiari (draft), RB Johnathan Franklin (draft).

Key losses: LB Desmond Bishop (Vikings), TE Tom Crabtree (Bucs), WR Donald Driver (retired), WR Greg Jennings (Vikings), C Jeff Saturday (retired), LB Erik Walden (Colts), DB Charles Woodson (Raiders), LB Frank Zombo (Chiefs).

Outlook: The protection for franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a concern after Bryan Bulaga, who was moved over to the all-important left tackle spot, tore the ACL in one of his knees during an intrasquad scrimmage and is expected to miss the season. The uncertainty of the offensive line also could stall the team’s plans to bolster the anemic running game, which was addressed when the team drafted Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin.

VIKINGS

Coach: Leslie Frazier (16-22, fourth season).

Key additions: LB Desmond Bishop (Packers), QB Matt Cassel (Chiefs), DE Lawrence Jackson (Lions), WR Greg Jennings (Packers), OL Seth Olsen (Colts).

Key losses: WR Devin Aromashodu (Bears), LB Jasper Brinkley (Cardinals), WR Percy Harvin (Seahawks), WR Michael Jenkins (free agent), P Chris Kluwe (Raiders), OL Geoff Schwartz (Chiefs), CB Antoine Winfield (Seahawks).

Outlook: Adrian Peterson is coming off an MVP campaign in which he gained the second-highest rushing total in NFL history with 2,097 yards. But such a season will only attract attention, and it will be up to third-year pro Christian Ponder to mature in 2013 and show he can move the ball as well as his contemporaries in this pass-happy league. If he can’t, new backup Matt Cassel is a more proven option. In a bid to improve at receiver, the troublesome Harvin was traded to Seattle and replaced by veteran Greg Jennings.

NFC SOUTH

FALCONS

Coach: Mike Smith (56-24, sixth season).

Key additions: RB Steven Jackson (Rams), DE Osi Umenyiora (Giants), CB Desmond Trufant (draft), CB Robert Alford (draft), DE Malliciah Goodman (draft).

Key losses: DE John Abraham (Cardinals), RB Michael Turner (free agent), CB Brent Grimes (Dolphins), S Chris Hope (Lions), CB Dunta Robinson (Chiefs), QB Luke McCown (Saints), C Todd McClure (retired).

Outlook: The next step for quarterback Matt Ryan is the Super Bowl, after the Falcons nearly got there until falling short by blowing a lead against the 49ers in the NFC title game. He has led the team to 36 wins over the past three seasons, resulting in a five-year, $103.75 million contract extension, and continues to have arguably the best receiving tandem in Roddy White and Julio Jones. Also, tight end fixture Tony Gonzalez will be motivated in what is expected to be his final season. On defense, Umenyiora was added to strengthen a weak pass rush, and the secondary was overhauled.

PANTHERS

Coach: Ron Rivera (13-19, third season).

Key additions: LB Chase Blackburn (Giants), CB Drayton Florence (Lions), S Mike Mitchell (Raiders), WR/KR Ted Ginn (49ers), WR Domenik Hixon (Giants).

Key losses: LB James Anderson (Bears), CB Chris Gamble (retired), WR Louis Murphy (Giants), TE Gary Barnidge (Browns), DE Antwan Applewhite (Dolphins).

Outlook: The Panthers will go only as far as Cam Newton can carry them, and he will do so with his arm, legs and, hopefully, a new attitude. The outspoken and physically explosive quarterback — who threw for 3,869 yards with 19 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions, and ran for a team-high 741 yards — warned that his team should not be overlooked after it finished last season with four consecutive wins to go 7-9 after a 1-6 start. But running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart struggled last season, and the team is in the same division as the high-powered Falcons and Saints and the improved Bucs.

SAINTS

Coach: Sean Payton (62-34, seventh season).

Key additions: S Jim Leonhard (Broncos), LB Victor Butler (Cowboys), CB Chris Carr (Chargers), CB Keenan Lewis (Steelers), S Kenny Vaccaro (draft), WR Kenny Stills (draft), TE Benjamin Watson (Browns), QB Luke McCown (Falcons).

Key losses: QB Chase Daniel (Chiefs), QB Seneca Wallace (49ers), WR Steve Breaston (free agent), WR Patrick Crayton (free agent), RB Chris Ivory (Jets), WR Devery Henderson (free agent), DT Sedrick Ellis (Bears).

Outlook: Despite quarterback Drew Brees’ typical monster stats in 2012 — 5,177 passing yards, 43 touchdown passes — last season was a forgettable one for the Saints, who couldn’t seem to jell without their coach. Payton became the first NFL head coach to be suspended for a season because of his alleged role in the “Bountygate” scandal. He’s back, and the team is revitalized, but a better ground game is needed to balance the offense. The bigger issue was the defense, so Rob Ryan was hired as the coordinator.

BUCCANEERS

Coach: Greg Schiano (7-9, second season).

Key additions:CB Darrelle Revis (Jets), S Dashon Goldson (49ers), WR Kevin Ogletree (Cowboys), TE Tom Crabtree (Packers), LB Jonathan Casillas (Saints), TE Zach Miller (Seahawks), CB Johnthan Banks (draft), QB Mike Glennon (draft), DT Akeem Spence (draft), DT Derek Landri (Eagles), T Gabe Carimi (Bears), K Lawrence Tynes (Giants), WR Derek Hagan (Raiders), RB Peyton Hillis (Chiefs).

Key losses: DE Michael Bennett (Seahawks), S Ronde Barber (retired), WR Arrelious Benn (Eagles), E.J. Biggers (Redskins), RB LeGarrette Blount (Patriots), TE Dallas Clark (Ravens), DT Roy Miller (Jaguars), LB Quincy Black (free agent), CB Brandon McDonald (free agent), T Jeremy Trueblood (Redskins), WR Roscoe Parrish (free agent).

Outlook: First-year coach Schiano found gold in rookie running back Doug Martin (1,454 yards) in 2012 and got improved play from quarterback Josh Freeman. The Bucs still need a deep threat.

NFC WEST

CARDINALS

Coach: Bruce Arians (first season with Cardinals, 9-3 as Colts’ interim coach in 2012).

Key additions: LB Jasper Brinkley (Vikings), S Yeremiah Bell (Jets), CB Antoine Cason (Chargers), CB Jerraud Powers (Colts), RB Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers), QB Carson Palmer (Raiders) , DE Frostee Rucker (Browns), LB Karlos Dansby (Dolphins), DE John Abraham (Falcons), T Eric Winston (Chiefs), G Jonathan Cooper (draft), LB Kevin Minter (draft), CB Tyrann Mathieu (draft).

Key losses: S Adrian Wilson (Patriots), , RB Beanie Wells (free agent), CB Greg Toler (Colts), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (Steelers), G Adam Snyder (49ers), S Kerry Rhodes (free agent), QB John Skelton (Bengals), QB Kevin Kolb (Bills), T Pat McQuistan (Jaguars), LB Paris Lenon (Broncos), LB Quentin Groves (Browns), CB William Gay (Steelers).

Outlook: Despite Palmer being on the downside of his career, he could solidify the quarterback position if the offensive line can improve from its disastrous 2012.

49ERS

Coach: Jim Harbaugh (24-7-1, third season).

Key additions: QB Colt McCoy (Browns), WR Anquan Boldin (Ravens), WR Marlon Moore (Dolphins), WR Austin Collie (Colts), WR Jon Baldwin (Seahawks), TE Vance McDonald (draft), OG Adam Snyder (Cardinals), DE Glenn Dorsey (Chiefs), DE Tank Carradine (draft), CB Nnamdi Asomugha (Eagles), CB Eric Wright (Buccaneers), S Eric Reid (draft), K Phil Dawson (Browns).

Key losses: QB Alex Smith (Chiefs), WR Randy Moss (free agent), WR Ted Ginn (Panthers), WR A.J. Jenkins (Seahawks), TE Delanie Walker (Titans), OG Leonard Davis (free agent), DT Ricky Jean Francois (Colts), NT Isaac Sopoaga (Eagles), LB Tavares Gooden (free agent), LB Clark Haggans (free agent), S Dashon Goldson (Bucs), K David Akers (Lions).

Outlook: The reigning NFC champs have designs on the Super Bowl, with dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who took over as the starter in Week 11 last season — and a fierce defense to lean on.

SEAHAWKS

Coach: Jim Harbaugh (25-23, fourth season with Seahawks, 58-54 in seven seasons overall).

Key additions: DE Cliff Avril (Lions), WR Percy Harvin (Vikings), QB Brady Quinn (Chiefs), CB Antione Winfield (Vikings), DE Michael Bennent (Buccaneers), DT Tony McDaniel (Dolphins), RB Christine Michael (draft), DT Jordan Hill (draft), QB Tarvaris Jackson (Bills).

Key losses: DT Alan Branch (Bills), RB Leon Washington (Patriots), CB Marcus Trufant (Jaguars), G Frank Omiyale (free agent), WR Ben Obomanu (Jets), LB Leroy Hill (free agent), QB Matt Flynn (Raiders), DE Jason Jones (Lions).

Outlook: Rookie sensation Russell Wilson stepped in as the starting quarterback in Week 1 last season, but his success had plenty to do with Carroll’s conservative approach and running back Marshawn Lynch (career-high 1,590 yards). Plus, the defense allowed the fewest points in the NFL and gets stronger. But Harvin is out indefinitely after hip surgery — a blow to the offense.

RAMS

Coach: Jeff Fisher (7-8-1, second season with Rams, 149-128-1 overall in 18 seasons).

Key additions: TE Jared Cook (Titans), T Jake Long (Dolphins), LB Will Witherspoon (Titans), S Matt Giordano (Raiders), WR Tavon Austin (draft), LB Alec Ogletree (draft), S T.J. McDonald (draft), WR Stedman Bailey (draft).

Key losses: WR Danny Amendola (Patriots), RB Steven Jackson (Falcons), S Craig Dahl (49ers), S Quintin Mikell (free agent), WR Brandon Gibson (Dolphins), C Rob Turner (Titans), T Barry Richardson (Titans), TE Matthew Mulligan (Packers), LB Rocky McIntosh (Lions), T Wayne Hunter (free agent), CB Bradley Fletcher (Eagles), LB Mario Haggan (free agent).

Outlook: Quarterback Sam Bradford had his best season despite continuing to get beaten up — he has been sacked 105 times over his first three seasons. Left tackle Long was signed to fix that problem. But the team’s top two receivers and top running back are gone, and were replaced by inexperienced players.

Read more Inside the NFL stories from the Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category