BASN Training Camp Questions: The AFC

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: July 26, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — Now that we can almost hear the “pop” of the pads and the start of training camps this week, I wanted to take a divisional and team look at questions that need to be answered around the NFL going into the season. Today, we look at the AFC.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

  • Are MLB Ray Lewis and QB Steve McNair too old and beat up to continue to be the locker room leaders of the Ravens and will they finish this season healthy?
  • Will the NFL’s 2nd rated defense from 2006 (only allowed 201 points) have to carry this team again?
  • Will RB Willis McGahee be reborn with the Ravens after being a malcontent in Buffalo?
  • Do the Ravens have any fight left after an embarrassing divisional round home playoff loss to the Colts?
  • Will their offensive line anchored by aging OT Jonathan Odgen hold up for the entire year?

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Was the division title in 2005 the peak for this team and their Head Coach?
  • After four seasons in Cincinnati and no playoff wins, Is Head Coach Marvin Lewis on the Hot Seat with the Brown Family?
  • Will the Bengals after nine off the field criminal related events, clean up their act?
  • Are the Bengals too “Fantasy Football” based? Sure they have all the offensive weapons in the world, but they are too inconsistent.
  • How will the team survive the distractions related to the suspension (eight games) of WR Chris Henry?

Cleveland Browns

  • Is this the last year for Head Coach Romeo Crennel and is Bill Cowher waiting in the wings?
  • How long will it take for Brady Quinn to take over the quarterback position from Charlie Frye and will he hold out?
  • At the age of 30 and with several years of carries, does Jamal Lewis have anything left?
  • Will injured players from 2006 OLB Willie McGinest, C LeCharles Bentley, WR Joe Jurevicius, and WR Braylon Edwards avoid the injury bug enough to make an impact in 2007?
  • Did the Browns over pay in bringing in free agent G Eric Steinbach from the Bengals?

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Will new Head Coach Mike Tomlin establish his program and lead the Steelers back to the playoffs at the tender age of 35?
  • Are the Steelers including QB Ben Roethlisberger (17 INT’s) over their Super Bowl “hangover”?
  • How will the loss of LB Joey Porter, OL Coach Russ Grimm, and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt effect the team?
  • How will the Steelers incorporate aspects of Tomlin’s Cover 2 scheme into Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 blitz based defense?
  • Will potential free agent Pro Bowl G Alan Faneca receive a contract extension or will he leave like past players (ex. Chad Brown)?

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

  • Will the Bills finally put it together enough to end their seven-year playoff drought?
  • Have the Bills had too many quality defections (RB McGahee, MLB Fletcher, OLB Spikes, CB Clements) since last year?
  • Will owner Ralph Wilson get the new stadium he is seeking or are the Bills moving?
  • Is this the year that JP Losman lives up to his first round draft grade (2004)?
  • Will the draft additions of LB Posluszny, RB Lynch, S Wendling, QB Edwards, and others impact the Bills roster?
  • Is GM Marv Levy too old to develop the roster necessary to get back to the playoffs?

Miami Dolphins

  • Will new Head Coach Cam Cameron help re-establish the Dolphins after a 6-10 record with 3 straight losses to end the season?
  • Will the highly rated defense from 2006 (only allowed 283 points) have to carry this team again?
  • Is new quarterback Trent Green healthy enough (concussions) at age 37 to be an effective starter?
  • How are the Dolphins going to utilize 2007 1st Rd pick WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr?
  • How are they going to handle the Rickey Williams situation?

New England Patriots

  • With all of the moves that the Patriots have made (WR Moss, WR/KR Welker, DB James, TE Brady and others) are they as good as the Colts?
  • Is this Bill Belichek’s last season in New England?
  • Will Brady improve upon his passing numbers (61.8%, 3529 yards, 24 TD’s, and 12 INTs) now that he has a who’s who of WR’s?
  • Is the core of the Patriots defense (LB Bruschi, LB Vrabel, S Harrison, LB Seau) too old?
  • Will Randy Moss fit in and behave now that he is away from the Raiders (Same for troubled draftee S Brandon Merriweather)?

New York Jets

  • With a more difficult schedule in 2007 can the Jets repeat their 2006 success and can the young brain trust of Mangini and Schottenheimer keep it up?
  • Can Chad Pennington stay healthy for the 2nd year in a row?
  • Is Thomas Jones ready to replace Curtis Martin or will it be RB by committee?
  • Will the Jets find some explosiveness at the WR position?
  • How will the Jets utilize the new “Slash”, former college QB Brad Smith?

AFC South

Houston Texans

  • Will Matt Schaub live up to the expectations of being the starter, his trade return compensation, and $48 million contract?
  • Will 2006 1st Overall Pick Mario Williams live up to his draft status and pay after only 4.5 sacks in ’06?
  • Will running back Ahmad Green have a rebirth in Houston or are his best days behind him?
  • Can the Texans find an adequate receiving compliment to Pro Bowl WR Andre Johnson?
  • Will their offense find the explosiveness needed to compete with the Colts (Only scored 267 pts in 2006)?

Indianapolis Colts

  • How do they avoid the Super Bowl hangover of injuries, defections, complacency, money, and other factors?
  • Will Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy be more relaxed now that they have won their Super Bowl?
  • How will they handle the defections from their defense (S Mike Doss, CB Nick Harper, CB Jason David, and Cato June) and the recent retirement of OT Tarik Glenn?
  • Is RB Joseph Addai ready to assume the role as the featured RB with Dominic Rhodes leaving for Oakland?
  • Are they ready to turn back the contenders to their title, especially the Patriots, who have loaded up for this season?

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Can QB Byron Leftwich avoid the injuries that have dogged him through out his career and is he still the Jags quarterback of the future (FA after season)?
  • How will the Jags share the rushing workload between aging 1,000 yard RB Fred Taylor (32) and up and comer Maurice Jones-Drew (13 TD’s)?
  • After four seasons in Jacksonville and no playoff wins, is Head Coach Jack Del Rio on the Hot Seat?
  • Will any of the highly drafted WR’s (Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, or Ernest Wilford) take the next step to becoming elite receiver?
  • Is their star studded D-Line of DT Stroud, DT Henderson, DE Hayward, and DE Spicer still as effective as a couple of years ago?

Tennessee Titans

  • How will the team survive the distractions related to the suspension (season) of infamous CB/KR Adam “Pacman” Jones?
  • Will Vince Young continue to mature after a breakout rookie year (Rookie of The Year, over 2,000 yards passing w/ 12 TDs and over 500 yards rushing w/ 7 TDs)?
  • Which WR (David Givens, Brandon Jones, Justin Gage, or others) will step up to assume the No. 1 position vacated by Drew Bennett?
  • Will Jeff Fisher be staying or going after the season (13 years w/ team and didn’t sign an extension in off-season)?
  • Who is going to be the running back on this team (Retread Chris Brown, Draftee Chris Henry, or underachieving LenDale White)?

AFC West

Denver Broncos

  • With the trade/retirement of Jake Plummer, is 2006 1st Rd Pick Jay Cutler ready to assume the role as the starting quarterback (nine TDs and five picks)?
  • How will the team handle the end of season collapse including losing at home to the 49ers that knocked them out the playoffs?
  • How will the Broncos share the rushing workload between RB Travis Henry (Career year in ’06 having 1211 yards w/ 4.5 ypc) and surprising rookie from last year Mike Bell?
  • Will Mike Shanahan be staying or going after the season (12 years w/ team)?
  • With all of the moves that the Broncos have made (CB Dre Bly, TE Graham, DT Kennedy, DT Adams, and others) are they as good as the Colts, Patriots, and Ravens?

Kansas City Chiefs

  • With the trade of Trent Green, is Brodie Croyle ready to assume the role as the starting quarterback or will there be an open competition with Damon Huard (Career Year in 2006)?
  • How will the team handle the possible holdout of RB Larry Johnson and when will he report (Wants LT type contract — $21 Million Guaranteed)?
  • Will the Offensive Line be the same after the retirement of Pro Bowl G Will Shields this off-season and OT Willie Roaf in 2006?
  • Can Herman Edwards continue to build up the Chiefs defense (315 Pts Allowed)?
  • Will any of the WR’s including 2007 1st Rd Pick WR Dwayne Bowe step up and take some pressure off of TE Tony Gonzalez.

Oakland Raiders

  • Can new very young Head Coach Lane Kiffin (31) finally get this team back to respectability (2-14 in 2006)?
  • Will 2007 1st Overall Pick QB JaMarcus Russell live up to his great expectations and when will he start?
  • How much does DT Warren Sapp have left at age 33?
  • Will the jettisoning of malcontent WR Randy Moss and the re-emergence of WR Jerry Porter finally solidify the offense?
  • Can the defense perform at a high level again in spite of the problems on offense (Allowed only 20 pts a game despite the offense only scoring 168 pts all year)?

San Diego Chargers

  • Will the team be the same after the firing of former Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer?
  • Can new Head Coach Norv Turner continue to maintain the Chargers record and get further in the playoffs (NFL Best 14-2 record in 2006)?
  • Will any of the WR’s including 2007 1st Rd Pick WR Craig Davis step up and take some pressure off of TE Antonio Gates.
  • The Chargers have better personnel on offense and defense more than almost every team, but can this team take the next step into contending with the Colts and Patriots?
  • Will Phillip Rivers continue to mature after a breakout first year as a starter and can RB LaDanian Tomlinson duplicate his amazing MVP numbers from last year?