And then there is the offense. Putting the QBs aside for a minute, look at the offensive roster. We have some studs to surround our QB with, particularly at wide receiver. Brandon Lloyd had a breakout season in 2010, Eddie Royal has big play ability if utilized properly, Decker seems solid and Thomas if he can stay healthy can dominate as he showed in flashes of great play last season.
Ok, as much as I enjoy talking QBs and debating the pros and cons of Tebow vs. Orton, it is time to take a break from that particular debate and talk about overall reasons to be optimistic about this season. The first and most obvious reason is on the defensive side of the ball; in terms of league ranking, the only direction to go from last year is up. Add in the acquisition of Miller in the draft as well as the two best projected safeties in the draft and the return of Doom, and you have the makings of some significant improvement, if not so much this year, then certainly in another year when we have a chance to draft for D-line and get Miller, Moore and Carter some experience. Make no mistake gentle readers, there is reason to be excited for the future.
With the addition of Orlando Franklin our O-line just got a lot nastier, which will only help Knowshone Moreno, who I think is underrated as a direct result of having a line in front of him that just could not open holes. Outside of Gale Sayers or Barry Sanders, there are no running backs out there that are going to produce consistently well when they are regularly getting hit at or behind the line of scrimmage. With a new blocking scheme and the addition of Franklin, I think we will see significant improvement from Moreno and the run game in general. Can you imagine, actually being able to convert a third and short?? Wouldn't hate that.
One more thing that I think is going to benefit whoever ends up taking snaps under center this year, we drafted two tightends who each could end up being major playmakers. I would love for Julius Thomas to become an Antonio Gates type player. We haven't had a real stud at TE since Sharpe retired. Scheffler was good, but I wouldn't put him in the top echelon of NFL tight ends. Thomas has the potential to be there and for that matter, so does Green. If either one of them can make that transition, our quarterback's job gets a whole lot easier.
Now lets talk about coaching. As I have indicated in this post, I see reason to be optimistic about our team's improvement in talent. But I am every bit as excited to see what Fox can do with the personnel he has. As I said, with our defense as bad as it was last season, it can only improve as we move forward. Having a head coach who thinks defense first is going to go a long way to making that happen.
To put things in perspective, a coach who can put together a defense that can support Jake Delhomme while at the same time getting enough production ourt of Delhomme to score sufficient points to make the Super Bowl has got some talent. Furthermore, not only did he take the Carolina Panthers to the SB, but they were competitive, against arguably one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history. While time could prove me wrong on this, I am not overly concerned with what happened in Carolina last year. Their best defensive player was gone, and their quarterback play was atrocious enough for them to be thinking fondly of having Delhomme back under center. Their personnel was terrible. With some better weapons to utilize, I believe that Fox will show the kind of coaching mojo that got the Panthers to the Super Bowl in the first place. I don't think it is unrealistic to say that we could potentially be back in the playoffs the year after this.