It’s that time of year again, the one where people make well-intentioned resolutions that they will never follow through on. We thought we could provide some advice and guidance for all 32 teams as they navigate through 2018.
Arizona Cardinals: Invest in the offense. The Cardinals are still relying on Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer to carry the offensive load at ages 34 and 37 respectively. Maybe Tom Brady can play forever, but mere mortals will eventually retire. David Johnson will be returning next season, which will help the offense a lot, but the Cardinals need to be planning for Fitzgerald and Palmer’s eventual exit.
Atlanta Falcons: Make the most of their talent. Under Dan Quinn the Falcons have gone 8-8, 11-5, and currently sit at 9-6. They’re undeniably talented, but that talent has not consistently gotten results. Find more consistency and Atlanta should be one of the favorites to come out of the NFC.
Baltimore Ravens: Get the most out of Joe Flacco. At this point questioning whether Joe Flacco is elite or not is sort of a tired debate. Ultimately, Flacco is what he is. Maybe he is not worth $22m a season, but he is definitely is good enough to get hot and win you a Super Bowl.
Buffalo Bills: Make up their mind. It feels like the Bills haven’t been able to make a decision about who they want to be under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane. Flipping between Tyrod Taylor and Nathan Peterman is just the tip of that indecision iceberg. Ultimately, the entire organization needs to get on the same page and decide what their future is going to look like in Buffalo.
Carolina Panthers: Get Cam some help on offense. Of course the most important decision facing the Panthers as an organization is who eventually will get to buy the team. But there are on the field issues to solve too. Cam has been impressive running the ball this season and currently leads the team in rushing and has set a career high on designed rushing plays. If Cam had some help on offense, maybe you could feel better about this team making a deep run in the players. A couple wide receivers in the draft would be a good start.
Chicago Bears: Get the make-or-break decisions right. It seems like the Chicago Bears have a lot of decisions to make this off-season. They will likely be looking for a new head coach, to sign free agents to fill the many holes on the roster, and will need to draft well in the off-season. It’s a lot to get right and they need to hit home runs every step of the way. If they do though the future will look very bright in Chicago.
Cincinnati Bengals: Find a new head coach. Look, it’s been fifteen years with Marvin Lewis and they still don’t have a playoff win. The team looks listless and they need to break off this relationship and start fresh. The Bengals still have talented players and a change at the top could really help this team succeed.
Cleveland Browns: Stay the course. There have been some shakeups in the Browns management this season, but the core problems remain the same. They still need a quarterback and they need talent throughout the roster. Turning the Browns around is going to take time, but if they don’t overthink the draft and hit on a couple prospects things should look a lot better for Cleveland next year.
Dallas Cowboys: Don’t overreact. Look, it’s been a bummer of a season for Cowboys fans. But while the disappointment of missing out on the playoffs is top of everybody’s mind it’s important to remember how good things actually are in Dallas. The defense came together at the end of the year. Dak Prescott struggled, but he is still a young quarterback with potential. Ezekiel Elliott might hit 1,000 yards on the season despite missing 6 games. The core of this team is still very good, so there’s no need for panic.
Denver Broncos: How about a new quarterback? It really feels like Denver is just a quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender again. Their defense is still loaded with talent, they have a top tier running back, and their receiving corps has plenty of playmakers. Going into the draft, a quarterback needs to be their top priority. Our suggestion? Try scouting short quarterbacks as well as guys taller than 6’6”. You’d think Elway would have heard that short guys like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are pretty good, but the height of the quarterbacks on the roster suggests otherwise.
Detroit Lions: Find a running game. The Lions have good receivers, a veteran offensive line, and one of the better quarterbacks in the league. So it’s a little bit confusing that their running game has been this bad. They are dead last in the league in yards, yards per game, and yards per attempt. If they can improve to even middle of the pack then the Lions offense gets even more interesting.
Green Bay Packers: Keep Davante Adams around. In Aaron Rodgers absence Davante Adams has emerged as the Packers best receiver. Keeping him around needs to be the Packers number one priority. Especially for when Aaron Rodgers comes back.
Houston Texans: Get healthy. This Texans team looked like the real deal this season until injuries crippled them. Once Deshaun Watson gets healthy and the defensive stars come back this team will be as much of a championship contender as anybody in the AFC.
Indianapolis Colts: Forget about 2017. It was a rough year for the Colts in 2017. But next year Andrew Luck will be back, Chuck Pagano will probably be gone, and general manager Chris Ballard will have an entire offseason as general manager to shape the team in his image. 2018 can be a blank slate for this organization to start fresh. They just need to put 2017 behind them.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Make a choice about Blake Bortles. Look, it’s pretty simple. Either extend Blake Bortles or move on. Both paths have risks, both have rewards, and there’s no clear right answer. But the Jaguars need to make a choice about what direction they want to take the organization. Any choice really.
Kansas City Chiefs: Find out what you have in Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs slightly baffling free fall this season has come as a surprise after a very hot start. With Alex Smith unlikely to return next season because of cap implications, the Chiefs need an answer at quarterback. Luckily, they have Patrick Mahomes – a first round draft pick – waiting in the wings. Rumor is that he is going to start in week 17. If he plays well, then the Chiefs can focus on other holes in their team.
Los Angeles Chargers: Find the successor to Philip Rivers. It’s not that Rivers is having a bad year, cause the Chargers passing attack is third in the league. But at some point you need to consider what the future of this team will look like without the 36-year-old star. That future might lie in this season’s draft.
Los Angeles Rams: Keep on keeping on. Look, I don’t know if a team with Todd Gurly, Jared Goff, and Aaron Donald, playing at an elite level needs to make any resolutions. Especially with Sean McVay, Wade Phillips, and Les Snead running things so well. Just keep on doing what you did in 2017 and everything will be fine in Los Angeles.
Miami Dolphins: Get a whole new offense. I’m willing to call it; the Jay Cutler experiment in Miami simply hasn’t worked. Luckily, this off-season represents a chance to have a totally new start. Ryan Tannehill’s contract is easy to move on from, Jay Cutler and Jarvis Landry are free agents, and they already shipped Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia. It’s time to start fresh.
Minnesota Vikings: Let the Case Keenum era begin. Look, I know that everybody in Minnesota loves Teddy Bridgewater, but right now Case Keenum has the Vikings in pole position to make it to the Super Bowl out of the NFC. Even if the Vikings don’t win the Super Bowl this year, Keenum has played well enough to earn the starting job.
New England Patriots: Enjoy it while it lasts. The Patriots have had things go well for a long, long time. Sure, they won’t be this great forever, but if you’re a fan you may as well enjoy the Brady/Belichick ride for as long as it lasts. There might just be a couple more rings in it for you.
New Orleans Saints: Improve the defense. Cam Jordan has been one of the best pass rushers in football. If only there was another pass rusher on the Saints roster. The Saints need to capitalize on the surprise success of their defense in 2017 by adding playmakers in 2018. Especially with an aging Brees.
New York Giants: This time, get a head coach who knows what they are doing. Ben McAdoo had never been a coordinator, let alone head coach in the NFL before he got the Giants gig. For a team that is looking to retool quickly like the Giants, that level of inexperience just won’t work. They can’t afford to sit around and let their head coach learn on the job. Sean McVay and the Rams have shown how one coaching change can jumpstart a team and the Giants should be looking for a head coach capable of making that kind of impact.
New York Jets: Find out if Christian Hackenberg is the real deal. The Jets had a surprisingly decent season in 2017, but their season didn’t include finding a long-term solution at quarterback. They have kept Christian Hackenberg on the bench throughout the season, even as other starters have sputtered. It’s time to find out if he is an NFL quarterback or if the Jets need to look elsewhere.
Oakland Raiders: Help Derek Carr play like 2016 Derek Carr. We’re old enough to remember when Derek Carr was a legit contender in the 2016 MVP race. He and the Raiders have had a disappointing 2017, but if he can recapture that form a lot of their problems just go away.
Philadelphia Eagles: Don’t panic. Look, watching your franchise quarterback go down with a season ending injury is a huge bummer. But, on the plus side, Philadelphia has a franchise quarterback. Plus, remember Nick Foles’ 2013 season? As a reminder: Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. While it might be a bit too much to hope that he will become that quarterback again, he definitely can be good enough to not lose them games. Add in Philadelphia’s varied running game and great defense? This team can still make a deep playoff run.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Make Ben Roethlisberger less integral. The Steelers are probably the most balanced team in football. They have a solid offensive line, the best receiver in the NFL, arguably the best running back, and a quickly improving defense. But the offense still revolves around Ben Roethlisberger, whose decline has been noticeable over the last two seasons and was publicly considering retiring before the season started. It’s time to make Roethlisberger a part of the offense rather than the focus.
San Francisco 49ers: Get Jimmy Garoppolo some weapons. At this point it seems reasonable to say that Garoppolo is going to be a star. The 49ers probably can’t print number 10 jerseys fast enough and the first order of business in the bay has to be signing him up to a longer contract. But in order to maximize Garoppolo next season they need to stock up with weapons on offense. Carlos Hyde is a good running back, but Garoppolo needs guys to throw to. Get him some good receivers and the 49ers fortunes might turn around faster than anyone in San Francisco could have hoped for.
Seattle Seahawks: Find someone else who can score a touchdown. Look we all love to watch Russell Wilson run around behind his offensive line, dodge fifteen tackles, and sling it up to a scrambling Doug Baldwin for a miracle completion, but at some point it has to stop. Wilson has scored all but one of the Seahawks rushing touchdowns this season, which is unsustainable. They need to find somebody, anybody other than Wilson who can run the ball into the end zone.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Find some pass rushers. Obviously there are a lot of questions hanging around the Buccaneers, including over quarterback Jameis Winston. But the most pressing problem was at pass rush. Through 13 weeks, the Buccaneers had just 17 sacks, easily the worst in the league. Pass rushers aren’t easy to find in free agency, but Tampa Bay should have cap space and can maybe pounce if the Lions fail to lock up Ezekiel Ansah or the Saints fail to lock up Alex Okafor. Add a good rusher or two in the draft and this team might bounce back next season.
Tennessee Titans: Don’t waste Mariota’s talent. Marcus Mariota is one of the leagues most versatile, dynamic, and interesting young quarterbacks. And yet Mike Mularkey insists on running a bland schemed that doesn’t seem to maximize the talents Mariota has to offer. That needs to change in 2018.
Washington Redskins: Don’t let Kirk Cousins walk again. This season might have already been Cousins’ last in Washington. In fact, it might take a long-term contract that makes Cousins the highest paid player in the NFL or exercising the franchise tag yet again to keep him there. But Cousins has consistently played well enough to be a starting NFL quarterback and letting him walk in free agency will hurt Washington and force them to look elsewhere for solutions at quarterback.