The Huddle is a weekly series covering the NFL focusing on insights and opinions about what happened this week in the League. This is an off season edition, which will not be weekly. Because we can't do anything right.
Arizona: Get David Johnson healthy. There are new holes on the defense to adress, and storylines abound at QB, but none of it matters if the best player on the team isn’t one-hundred percent ready at the start of the season.
Atlanta: reignits Vic Beasley. This team will have a good offense, but will the defense be good enough to help them return to a Super Bowl? If they are, it is because Vic Beasley has a double digit sack season-- and not the five he had last year.
Baltimore: Develop Lamar Jackson. The offense has been stagnant the past few years,and Lamar Jackson is exciting. He is going to see the field--sidebar: the two QB system has had terrible results in the NFL-- and they need to make sure they give him the coaching he needs to succeed when he is out there because if they do it right they could have a future superstar.
Buffalo: Get Josh Allen ready. I don’t think Josh Allen is best served by starting, but I also don’t think he is going to get that option in Buffalo. This is a loyal fan base who last year was finally rewarded with a playoff berth. It was a risky move, shaking things up after a season like that, and for it to work out Josh Allen needs to have a solid--if not great-- rookie year.
Carolina: Create a non-Cam Newton rushing attack. The defense should bounce back with a healthy Luke Kuechley. The offense has new passing weapons, so Cam should rebound closer to his MVP season. Cam Newton has been their only consistent running threat, especially in short yardage, and that needs to change if they are going to be a Super Bowl contender.
Chicago: Help Mitch take the next step. Many were surprised with how well Mitch Trubisky played his first year. They doubled down on this success by adding new weapons, and now their coaches need to help him increase last years growth. If they do, Da Bears might just have something.
Cincinnati: Shake things up. This is a team that has settled into mediocrity. They haven’t done much in the off season to change this, so the change is going to need to be internal. I’m not talking about coaching changes, I’m talking about changing the message and relighting the fire under a complacent organization.
Cleveland: Change the culture. When you lose every single game there are a lot of areas you probably need to adress. They did much of this this off season, and depending on how you feel about a few key picks, the draft as well. But they’ve made wholesale changes in years past and remained the same old Browns. They have to change the culture of losing before this season starts if this year is going to be any different.
Dallas: Develop a Passing Offense. They rely heavily on dump offs and screens, which work great if the running game is clicking but when teams manage to stop the run-- admittedly not easy-- their offense crumbles. If they develop some threats vertically it will go a long way.
Denver: Case. Keenum. The Free Agent signing has to be enough to keep the offense on the field this year. They had an excellent draft, and their defense is capable of greatness but last year showed the symbiotic nature of football. If one side of the ball isn’t clicking, the other side falters as a result. If Keenum can put points on the board Denver will return to AFC contention.
Detroit: Find a running game. Any running game. Seriously, Reggie Bush was their last hundred yard rusher and he has not played for them in a long time. Matt Stafford is talented enough to win a Super Bowl, but they have to do something to help him out a little. Seriously. Just a marginal threat will be an improvement.
Green Bay: Establish defensive anchors not named Clay Matthews. This defense has been lacking an identity for some time now. They have solid players who get the job done for the most part, but they rely far too heavily on Matthews to do the heavy lifting. They need to find guys this off season at every level--rather it be free agent signings of draft picks-- who can help get some stops. Rodgers will take care of the rest.
Houston: Continue to develop Deshaun Watson. Before he went down with a season injury last year Watson looked like he had skipped the rookie wall and jumped straight to all-pro. It’s obvious that he’s their franchise QB, but they shouldn’t lean to heavily on him yet. He is young, and while he looked the part of a seasoned pro, there are undoubtedly still lessons he needs to learn. If they stay patient, they should find themselves in the play-offs for years to come.
Indianapolis: Get Luck on the field. This team goes as far as Andrew Luck can take them. They’ve done very little to help him since he has got there and his shoulder has caused him to miss significant time. If they are going to do anything this year it is because he’s back at QB.
Jacksonville: Improve passing game chemistry. Blake Bortles played well enough last year to deserve the job-- but they lost a lot of wide receivers. They will need to develop chemistry between Bortles and some of the new receivers if they want to continue to take the pressure of Leonard Fournette
Kansas City: Set up Pat Mahomes for success. He’s got a cannon, and they have weapons and an innovative coaching staff. If they use their time wisely this season, they should have a potent offense.
Minnesota: Capitalize. Yes, last year's swan dive of success ended in with a face plant in the NFC Championship Game. But they return the same core, while adding a healthy Delvin Cook and the best statistical passer they have had since Brett Favre in newcomer Kirk Cousins. They are on the cusp of a championship, they just have to build on last years success and capitalize this time.
Miami: Get Tannahill ready. There offense went from sneaky good in Adam Gase’s first year, to bad. Ryan Tannahill hasn’t lit the NFL on fire, but he showed some good things, expessially under Gase. If he can get back to that success after a year of injury, the Dolphins should be back on track.
New England: Stay the course. Yes, eventually New England will need to rebuild but it isn’t this year. They will remain a Super Bowl favorite as long as Brady and Bill are at the helm.
New Orleans: Take the next step on defense. The offense has been there for years. It might look a bit different now, but the results or more or less the same. The defense was a surprise last year--but this year they need to be a threat. The development of young stars like Marcus Latimore will go a long way towards that end.
New York Giants: Get healthy. Last year was a train wreck, largely due to injuries. If they can get healthy, they have added enough talent to be a threat again in the NFC East.
New York Jets: Lock McCown and Darnold in the film room. Darnold is the future, and if he develops like they hope they will have set themselves up well for the post-Brady NFC East that has to eventually come-- I think. McCown is a contimate pro that can help Darnold immensely.
Oakland: Find someone beside Khalil Mack on defense. This is a bit disingenuous-- they have many solid players, but no true stars besides Mack. If they want to take the next step on defense, someone needs to step up.
Philadelphia: Stay Hungry. The Eagles became NFL champions (Boy that brings a smile to my face) by taking on the underdog role and riding it all the way. This year they have the spotlight on their back, and repeating in professional sports is incredibly hard. They have the talent to do so, but will guys continue to work hard and step up now that they have already made it to the mountaintop of sports?
Pittsburg: Start looking towards the future. This is a good team, but there seems to be some writing on the wall in regards to certain stars leaving soon. They will compete this year, but they’ve set themselves up to rebuild quickly if they play their cards right. This off season needs to be about preparing for this season, with one eye set firmly on the future.
San Diego: Utilize Derwin James. The offense is going to be solid. They have weapons all over and a QB who has proven to be capable of leading them. Their defense was surprisingly good without James, but he could make it elite if they use the off season to insert him as versatile chess piece.
San Francisco: Develop their investment. Jimmy G looks like a future MVP. They need to improve their defense, but more than anything they need to make sure that their investment in their QB works out by developing chemistry in the passing game, cohesiveness on the line, and a consistent running game. I’m not talking about huge jumps in those categories, just steady improvements.
Tennessee: Unleash Marcus Mariota. His first few seasons have been a bit of a mixed bag. At times he has looked like the player they thought they were getting when they drafted him, and other times he looks like he is a bit lost out there. They made the playoffs last year, and coach Mike Munchack deserves a lot of credit for that, but his system was far from QB friendly. If they find a system that fits Mariota’s strengths this off-season they will become a real threat to the AFC powerhouses.
Tampa Bay: Solidify the Secondary. Their offense should be a little more consistent this year, which should help them stay in some more games-- but it won’t be good enough to stop the bleeding if this secondary continues to give up big plays. They had a chance to address it through the draft and didn't. They need to get some guys to step up, otherwise they will have a tough time getting to the playoffs.
Washington: Get technical in the D-Line. It doesn’t matter who is playing QB for them if they can’t stop the run. They have invested heavily there the past few years, and they have the talent to do it. But they haven’t. They need to have those talented players begin to take pride in executing the little stuff if they are going to turn things around for them. That means gap integrity, staying low, and not quitting on plays.
LA is Editor-in-Chief and Head Writer at Lot 10 Underground. He is an avid Eagles fan and a weary Lakers one. He grew up sneaking through the halls of Hogwarts after dark with Harry and his more talented friends, stumbling along the dark walls of Rock Tunnel in Pokemon Red, storming through flood riddled ships with Master Chief, and questioning Goku's parenting techniques in DBZ. If you'd like to contact him, you can try an owl, but he prefers e-mail.