Which team had the most talent before the former New England staffer joined them? (ranked best to worst)
1). Cleveland. Everybody was expecting the Browns to compete for the AFC North Title last year, and they were arguably the league's biggest disappointment. Romeo Crennel simply didn't get the job done, though it wasn't all his fault. Top draft pick Kellen Winslow JR never worked out, setting the team back a little bit. The talent appears to be there; it remains to be seen if Eric Mangini can get the most out of it.
2). Denver. However, they were definitely better with Cutler at the controls. Plus, nobody knows what is going on with Brandon Marshall. If he ends up leaving, than McDaniel is not off to a good start in Denver. There is definitely still some talent there, but it depends on whether or not that talent decides to stay.
3). Kansas City. In terms of talent, this team has a long way to go. They did start a ton of rookies last year, so it is a work in process. But Scott Pioli inherited this young team, he didn't draft any of them. He did bring along Matt Cassel, but he is not the answer. They also traded Tony Gonzalez, but that might have been the best for both parties. This team likely still has a couple of years to go before anybody pays attention.
1.) Cleveland - Eric Mangini came into a situation where the talent was there (even with the loss of tight end Winslow) so if I were to rank them this year, I think this will be one that is easy to manage. Oh wait, He couldn't manage a plethora of talent in New York so I guess only time will have to tell.
2.) Denver - They will always be known as a running team and with the pickup of Knowshon Moreno they will continue this but, it doesn't matter if you have Orton throwing the ball or John Elway throwing the ball, if you don't have a great offensive line, then you will falter in your quests and not get very far.
3.) Kansas City - I look at the situation in Kansas City as a "sleeper pick" where they have good talent and an above average talent at quarterback (Matt Cassel). I think Pioli will need to work closely with their new head coach and create an energy .. it isn't overnight but I do think it will happen a lot quicker than what people are expecting.
|Jay Cutler, before the trade.|
1.) Denver: The Broncos had the best record of the three teams at 8-8. They almost made the playoffs by winning her divisions but collapsed (some would say a choke) down the stretch and San Diego won the division.
The Broncos had a pro bowler and one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, Jay Cutler, along with one of the NFL's best offenses. 279.4 passing yards per game ranks third in the NFL. 116.4 rushing yards (12th in the NFL) 395.8 total yards per game ranked second in the entire NFL. The defense needed a lot of work however offensively they were among the best in the NFL.
2.) Cleveland: The Browns at 4-12 won twice as many games as the last team on this list. They have Derek Anderson a pro bowler at quarterback being challenged by one of the former first round picks in Brady Quinn.
Before Kellen Winslow was traded the Browns had one of the best young tight ends in the game. They still have one of the best return man for kick offs in Josh Cribbs and a one thousand yard rusher in Jamal Lewis.
They had one of the best offenses in the NFL two years ago when Lewis rushed for 1304 yards, Edwards had 1289 yards with 16 touchdowns and Winslow had 82 receptions for 1106 yards. Even with Winslow traded there is talent there especially on the offensive side of the ball.
3.) Kansas City: When you only win two games you'll make the bottom of many lists and this one is no different. The Chiefs were best known as the team that Tom Brady suffered his season ending injury against. This is a rebuilding process.
Although they had Larry Johnson injuries and other matters slowed him to less than 1,000 yards rushing last season He finished with 874 while the second leading rusher for the Chiefs, Jamaal Charles had 357 yards rushing, The bright spot was Dwayne Bowe who had 86 receptions for 1,022 yards.
Tony Gonzalez one of if not the best tight end in football had over 1000 receiving yards again but was traded this offseason. Rebuilding last year and it continues this year as well.
1.) Denver - The Broncos had the makings of a solid team before McDaniels arrived on the scene. A little help via free agency or the Draft could have propelled them to the playoffs. Though the loss of Jay Cutler will hurt, he was malcontent who needed to go. Still, even without counting Cutler, the Denver roster had talent at numerous positions before McDaniels. Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Dan Graham, Champ Bailey and Tony Scheffler offered a solid base on which to build. The Broncos offense had firepower and could put up points to compete. It was the defense that needed help. If McDaniels focused on fixing the few holes on offense and bolstering the defense Denver could easily have been the class of the AFC West.
2.) Cleveland - Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage built the roster with talent that fit the Patriots 3-4 system so it should be much easier for Mangini to complete the final 2009 using some that personnel to fix the defense. The trade of Kellen Winslow - despite his 'me first' personality - was a step backwards. Although their record wasn't as good as Denver's (4-12 vs 8-8), Cleveland finished the season with their fourth string QB. Bad things were supposed to happen to the Browns, and they did. The offensive line needed some help despite having All Pro tackle Joe Thomas and standout guard Eric Steinbach. The receiving corps had one playmaker, Braylon Edwards, and the running back situation relied on aging veteran Jamal Lewis. The defense has a few bright stars in D'Qwell Jackson, Eric Wright and Shaun Rogers. Cleveland could be the most talented team here, but too many questions remained before Mangini arrived, pushing this team into second place prior to the makeover.
3.) Kansas City - Even with Matt Cassel, the team had a long road back to respectability before Pioli arrived on the scene. All Pro TE Tony Gonzales and injured, but dangerous, RB Larry Johnson headed the list of talent. It's the young players on the roster who may end up being the surprise of the three teams. Former LSU standout Glenn Dorsey, Penn State product Tamba Hali, talented LSU WR Dwayne Bowe and Virginia product T Branden Albert represent a host of can't-miss prospects who should flourish with a little more talent around them. Were it not a lack of above-average talent at the skill positions, the Chiefs could easily be atop this list.
Be sure to check Part 2: Who will win?