Brew Crew Corner makes it’s way to the North Division.
Note: Players and situations may have changed since the writing of this article.
– Training camp starts July 27
Players being drafted from the Bears:
Bears: By John M. Crist, Publisher of
Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com
Despite the fact that they will open the 2007 seasons as NFC Champions, the Chicago Bears had quite a tumultuous offseason after coming out on the losing end of Super Bowl XLI.
Head coach Lovie Smith finally got the $22 contract extension he richly deserved, but the organization dragged its feet getting the deal done and looked like cheapskates in the court of public opinion. Two-time Pro-Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs has vowed to never play another down in the
Days of Our Lives.
Offensively, the Bears added more speed at the skill positions than perhaps any team in the NFL. Greg Olsen is the first tight end the club has drafted in Round 1 since Mike Ditka in 1961, and diminutive tailback Garrett Wolfe could be the lightning to Benson’s thunder. Devin Hester established himself as arguably the most dangerous open-field threat in the business with his brilliant performance in the return game as a rookie, but now he’ll get even more opportunities with the ball in his hands as he makes the switch from cornerback to wideout. Muhsin Muhammad is little more than a possession receiver at this point in his career, so it’s time for the likes of Bernard Berrian and Mark Bradley to establish themselves as reliable weapons. But it comes down to Grossman, possibly the most scrutinized player in all of football a year ago, who will be under the microscope once again.
As for the defense, the Bears were nothing short of dominant the first half of 2006 before tailing off down the stretch. In the trenches, Tommie Harris was making a case for Defensive MVP before tearing a hamstring in Week 13 and simply must be his dominant self once again this year. Rookie sensation Mark Anderson takes over for veteran Alex Brown in the starting lineup at right end, although both will get plenty of snaps opposite Adewale Ogunleye and second-rounder Dan Bazuin on the other side. All-Pro middle linebacker is still an elite playmaker, but it will be interesting to see how well second-year pro Jamar Williams fills in for Briggs should he indeed follow through with his holdout. And although the trade for strong safety Adam Archuleta should add an element of toughness to the secondary, his addition will be a moot point if Mike Brown — he’s moving back to free safety — can’t find a way to stay healthy after three straight injury-plagued campaigns.
From a fantasy perspective, Benson might be a better fit for this running game than Jones ever was and could post 1,300-1,400 yards and 10-12 touchdowns. Grossman is still too inconsistent to be a No. 1 QB at this point, although he can be a solid backup and occasional starter when facing weaker defenses. Berrian appears to be the safest bet in the receiving corps because of his big-play ability, although Muhammad is still technically the main target. Robbie Gould may not lead the NFC in scoring as he did last season, but he is still one of the best kickers available. The Bears defense and special teams should be dynamic once again because they don’t allow many points, force a ton of turnovers, and Hester is always a highlight waiting to happen on punts and kickoffs.
The schedule is tougher and the target on their collective back is bigger, but the Monsters of the Midway must be considered one of the favorites to make it all the way to Super Bowl Sunday once again.
– Training camp starts July 28
Players being drafted from the Packers:
Another Year for Brett Favre and the Packers. I think this will be the year he will hang them up. You can only play for so long unless you’re Vinny
Testaverde. This will be an interesting 2007 for Favre as he will be fired up for another year and in close range of some of Marino’s records. You have to wonder though, if he breaks these records and the Packers are not in the playoff hunt, will we see Aaron Rodgers play? Favre had minor surgery this off-season that is expected not keep him off the field but you can see that the injuries are starting to creep up on him and that is a concern.
There have been many speculations about the RB situation and it will play itself out in the preseason. Ahman Green has left for
*Update* Morency is going to miss two weeks due to knee problems.
Donald Driver has been a solid producer for this team but is not a true #1. Favre displayed his dissatisfaction when the team did not bring in Randy Moss. If they are going to be successful, they need the other receivers to step in and produce. Last year, Greg Jennings was a surprise rookie before injuring his ankle. He looks to be the second receiver heading into camp. It is unclear how much time Robert Ferguson will have on the team if he can’t stay healthy. He will be challenged by Ruvell Martin who is entering his 3rd year. Rookie James Jones will also be in the mix.
The defense played inconsistant all year but finished strong which helped
Bob Sanders. They need to avoid shootouts as this offense is not built to come from behind when down a large amount of points.
– Training camp starts July 26
Players being drafted from the Lions:
Det/6 (New Team)
Det/6 (New Team)
Bold predictions have come from the Lions this year. Jon Kitna will be better this year with another offseason to learn Mike Martz’s offense, but can you buy into his prediction of 50TDs and 10 wins? Honestly, if you have a QB who throws 50TDs, then you should have more then 10 wins. When Marino set the record in 1984, the Dolphins finished 14-2. When Warner broke 40 in 1999 the Rams went 13-3 and when Manning broke the record in 2004, the Colts finished 12-4. So if Kitna were to throw 50, it would mean the Lions defense was so horrible to get only 10 wins. Kitna has never thrown for more then 26 TDs in his career. In the 6 seasons he was a full starter, he averaged 19TDs and 18INTs. Would that mean 50TDs and 50INTs? With the upgrade at WR there may be a slight increase but not much.
The RB situation is still unclear as we head into camp. Kevin Jones was placed on the camps PUP but still may start the season. Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett were brought in but Jones is the best in the group.
Roy Williams was a great pick for the Lions in 2004, the WR selected after him were not. Still the Lions hit pay dirt by selecting Calvin Johnson this year and hope that tis will be the best WR Duo in the league. Last years surprise breakout player Mike Furry, will work as the #3 and the Lions have added Shaun McDonald who knows Martz’s system. Big things are expected from this offense and judging by the defense, they will have plenty of opportunity to produce.
– Training camp starts July 27
Players being drafted from the Vikings:
Min/5 (New Team)
The Vikings open camp with 2nd year QB Tavaris Jackson.
Chester Taylor came over to the Vikings last year and played well but he broke down towards the end of the season. In this years draft the Vikings had Adrian Peterson sitting on the board and couldn’t pass him up. Peterson has a world of talent and is projected to come in and contribute. The issue remains if his collar bone will hold up and if it is fully healed. We do not know at this time how Brad Childress will use Taylor and Peterson but they will have to lean on the run for them to be successful.
The receiving corp. is one of the must unstable situations in the league. Bobby Wade comes to
Billy McMullen comes over from the Eagles where he played under Childress. He is an average player at best. The team brought in Visanthe Shiancoe from the Giants who they paid big bucks. He was not used much in NY’s offense. He has averaged one catch every other game.
The Vikings defense played well, especially against the run. They gave up about 61 yards a game, forcing teams to pass. Mike Tomlin, who led this unit, is now the Head Coach in
– Training camp starts July 27
Players being drafted from the Bangles:
Cin/5 (8 Game Suspension)
The Bengals had a chance to make the playoffs last year but lost their final 3 games, including the tough loss to their division rival Steelers in overtime of the season finale. Still Bengals fans should be optimistic for the new year as Carson Palmer recovered nicely from the knee injury he sustained in 2005. He should be stronger this year and looks to be one of the top QBs in the league.
Rudi Johnson has been the consistent producer to keep the offense balanced and should be in for another good year. The Bengals have drafted players to challenge Johnson but none have been able to stay healthy. The team drafted Kenny Irons and he will compete for the backup job to Johnson.
The other Johnson had an inconsistent year. After starting the year slow, he finished strong. You can be sure he will leave his recreational Man vs. Horse events for the offseason so that he can get back to being productive. I wonder where his list of DBs went.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a great fit opposite CJ but has had some injury issues. If he can stay healthy he will be just as good. Since C. Henry will miss half the season due to a suspension, Tab Perry or Antonio Chatman will try to fill the void.
Last year the team had the offensive power to win games but the defense let this team down. Marvin Lewis is a defensive minded coach and he will help this unit bounce back. The question that remains is if they have the personnel to do so. Othell Thurman will not be reinstated and David Pollack’s career is likely done. The team would love to get the turnover production they had two years ago.
– Training camp starts July 24
Players being drafted from the Steelers:
Pit/6 (New Team)
As the team set to begin a new season, the 1st without Bill Cowher since 1995. The team also looks to put behind them R
othlesberger’s off field accident and appendectomy. Rothlesberger struggled early and the Steelers failed to make the playoffs after winning Super Bowl XL. Ben has a new offensive coordinator in Bruce Arians who has indicated that they will open up the offense for Ben.
Willie Parker proved his critics wrong by having a great year. Even though he is a smaller back,
10 of his 13 rushing TDs came from inside the opponent’s 5 yard line. The Steelers line is good and Parker should enjoy the same success he had last year provided he can hold up to the physical punishment. Kevan Barlow and Najeh Davenport will back him up but both proved that they are not starters so the bulk of the carries should go to Parker.
If Rothlesberger can step up and turn it around from last year, the WR group will benefit. Hines Ward is still a key component in the offense but has started to decline. He failed to reach 1,000 yards for the second year with the same yardage total of 975 but he had 5 fewer TDs. He has also missed some time due to injury. Santonio Holmes came on last year and although he only had 2 TDs, he put up 824 and finished the year with 3 of 4 games with over 80 yards. Also contributing will be Nate Washington and Cedrick Wilson whose roles will be determined by the new coordinator.
The Steelers defense has always been strong. They lost Jerry Porter who will be missed more for his presence in the locker room. The defensive coordinators will look to be versatile and make changes to their 3-4 scheme.
– Training camp starts July 27
Players being drafted from the Browns:
Cle/7 (New Team)
Kellen Winslow Jr
The Browns open up another camp with the QB situation unstable. Since starting over in 1999, they have been in search of a productive stable QB. This year they drafted Brady Quinn to compete with Charlie Frye for the starting job but if you paid attention to the early mini camps, Derek Anderson had the leg up on the competition. This situation is one that will not be decided right away. Depending if Quinn signs late, this could drag on until mid-season. Some believe if he doesn’t start the year under center that he will eventually take over no matter who is the starting QB. The instability is not good for the offense.
Last years starter Ruben Droughns is now a back up in NY and the Browns signed division RB Jamal Lewis. Many are surprised that Lewis will only be 28 this season but he has taken the pounding of an older back. He has not been the same since his 2,000 yard season. Jamal will get the bulk of the carries and the line must improve for him to have success. Backing him will be Jerome Harrison and Jason Wright.
Braylon Edwards has dedicated himself to becoming one of the leagues elite. He has the talent to do so but will need a stable QB situation in order to be productive. He also has to stay healthy to do so. The Browns #2 is clearly Kellen Winslow Jr, who played well when healthy last year but underwent surgery during the offseason and has to stay healthy to be reliable. The other wide receivers are journeyman Joe Jurevicius, Travis Wilson and Josh Cribbs. Dennis Northcutt, who has been with the team since 2000, has moved on to
The defense remains a work in progress and
Romeo Crennel will continue to work with this unit.
That concludes the 2nd part of our 4 part segment. Stay tuned for the South and West editions.