Four 2014 NFL Teams Heading In The Right Direction: UP!By Anthony Grace June 12, 2014 7:41 pmEvery team has ups and downs. Week to week. Year to year. Decade to decade. Everyone knows who is dominate and favorites to win now, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, New England, but who is on the upswing? Who will be the next Broncos or Patriots? Who will come in and take over the team to beat in the NFC when Seattle and San Francisco start to decline? Here are four teams that have a positive outlook on the future.OAKLAND RAIDERSKey Additions:QB Matt Schaub, WR James Jones, DE Justin Tuck, LB LaMarr Woodley, CB Carlos Rogers, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, LB Khalil Mack, QB Derek Carr, RB Darren McFadden (resigned), S Charles Woodson (resigned)Why their stock is up:While it looks like bringing in veterans like Tuck, Woodley, and MJD may be the moves of a team trying to push into the playoffs or advance further in the post season, that is obviously not the Raiders case. Coach Dennis Allen brought in these players to start to glue the locker room together and rub off some of their post season and winning ways onto the young guys. That being said, the Raiders are heading in the right direction. Two solid drafts in a row is something that hasn't been done in Oakland for years, maybe decades once Al Davis started losing it and making selections like JaMarcus Russell and Darrius Heyward-Bey. They are a building a strong defensive front with linebackers like rookie Khalil Mack and sophomore Sio Moore. Starting tight end Mychal Rivera and back up running back Latavius Murray were both sixth round selections in 2012, so Oakland has finally begun to draft for value and need not just flash and speed.When will they see the playoffs?:Unfortunately the Raiders have Gus named Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers still playing in their division. Add in the top tier defense and one of the leagues best backs in Kansas City, and Oakland probably won't sniff the playoffs for the next few seasons. If the front off can let Allen continue to build through the draft and develop his young talent over then next two or three years the Raiders will be back to football relevance again. The silver and black haven't seen a post season game since the 2002 Super Bowl embarrassment and they won't for another few years. Look for the Raiders to get back to their 70s and 80s glory days closer to between the 2016 and 2017 seasons.TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERSKey Additions: DE Michael Johnson, CB Alterraun Verner, WR Mike Evans, QB Josh McCown, OL Evan Dietrich-Smith, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Head Coach Lovie SmithWhy their stock is up:Being in the NFC south means you must have a stacked offense to have a shot to win. Which is when the Buccaneers brought in Lovie Smith to run the team and made their first two off season moves on the defensive side of the ball -signing the best pass rusher available in Johnson and replacing an aging Revis with young upcoming Verner- I loved where they were taking this team. Playing against Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan six times in a year. Means you better be able to get to the quarterback and stop the pass. Tampa Bay will be able to do that. Carolina and New Orleans both have top 5 defenses, but Tampa should be able to join them in the top ranks of the league. Add in the fact that Atlanta is banged up on both lines and have aging talent, the Panthers have a running back and receiving corps that make their fans jealous of some local high schools, and you have the Buccaneers ready to pounce on the NFC south.When will they see the playoffs?:Lovie Smith coached the Bears for 9 seasons, reaching the playoffs three times and winning the NFC once in 2006. He had a top 10 defense 4 of those 9 seasons, and had his defense in the top half of the league -top 10 in 7 of 9 seasons- every year. The Buccs need a healthy Doug Martin to have a real shot at the post season. He should be 100% entering the season off shoulder surgery. If Martin is healthy he is easily the top back in the division and the X factor for Tampa. The Buccaneers have a real shot at making the playoffs in 2014. If they can't slip in this season, then 2015 will put the pirates back on the playoff ship.WASHINGTON REDSKINSKey Additions:WR DeSean Jackson, WR Andre Roberts, S Ryan Clark, DE Jason Hatcher, LB Trent Murphy, T Morgan Moses, CB DeAngelo Hall (resigned), DE Brian Orakpo (franchise tag), head coach Jay GrudenWhy their stock is up:Robert Griffin III's knee. That is the biggest factor why the skins are on the rise. RGIII led his team to the playoffs in his rookie season, where he also tore up his knee, and for a quarterback who relies on his legs as much as his arm that's a recipe for disaster. He wasn't the same in 2013, former coach Mike Shannahan pulled Griffin out three games early as the Redskins finished at 3-13. But already at OTA's Griffin is knee brace free and looking almost the same as his 2012 self. Add in the new toys Washington brought in for RGIII, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts to Jay Gruden's west coast offense. Not only will a Gruden be excited to work with a quarterback with Griffin's ability and ceiling, but his love of working with running backs will be shown through the skins workhorse Alfred Morris.When will they see the playoffs?:The Redskins won the NFC east two years ago, however before their 2012 division crown they finished dead last in the division every year from 2008-2013. That's a long time of hanging around in the cellar of the division. But new coaching staff and new weapons will make the Redskins a team to reckon with when they come to town. Other than the Eagles, there shouldn't be much competition in the NFC east over the foreseeable future. If Washington dethrones Philadelphia this year no one will be surprised, but without a division title the NFC east won't have a wild card team with the strength of the rest of the conference. So look for the Redskins to make a run at the playoffs this year, but once they gain a first round pick again next May that should be the start of a true Redskins run from 2015 on.JACKSONVILLE JAGUARSKey Additions:QB Blake Bortles, WR Marqise Lee, WR Allen Robinson, RB Toby Gerhart, DE Chris Clemons, DT Red Bryant, G Zane Beadles, CB Aaron ColvinWhy their stock is up:Second year head coach Gus Bradley seems to be making a lot of moves reminiscent of his time as defensive coordinator in Seattle. Adding two of his former defensive line pupils from the Seahawks Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, bruising running back Toby Gerhart, and drafting cornerback Aaron Colvin -who is built like former Bradley player Walter Thurmond- in the fourth round are all moves that show Bradley is building this team into something like the current champions. The Jaguars may have had a 4-12 record in 2013 , but they won 4 of their last 8 games. Going from a -178 point differential in the seasons first half, to a -24 in the second half.When will they see the playoffs?:Jaguars fans haven't seen a playoff game since 2007, also the last season the Jags had a winning record. Only the Colts are a dominate team in the AFC south right now, and if they lose Andrew Luck for any reason then they won't be looking down on the rest of the division anymore. If Blake Bortles can become what the Jaguars expect he can, and Gus Bradley can build a defense anywhere close to what he helped build in Seattle, then Jacksonville should have a playoff push in the next few years. But a post season run before the 2016 season seems to be out of the question.link
I knew they were better, I didn’t realize the Saints finished in the Top 5 on defense. Crazy. They took some hits on both sides of the ball this off-season, it'll be interesting to see what effect, if any, it will have. Maybe they'll come back to the pack. I know Carolina will. Their offense was okay last year...I think this year it'll be abysmal. Cam to the left, Cam to the right, Cam up the middle. Cam on IR. Plus, while their defense is solid, they still have some questions in the secondary. Atlanta...a lot of the experts expect them to just jump right back up into contention but I look at this football team and they're just not very good. Roddy is older. Julio is still trying to come back from his injury, their o-line still looks like swiss cheese. They have no pass rusher on defense and they just lost their best defender for the season.I think the ransom they paid for Julio is coming back to haunt them. They have Matt Ryan and offensively they'll still be able to do some damage, but I don't see them being more than a 5-6 win team at best. Carolina should crash back to around 7 wins because that defense will still be stout and keep them in games. The Saints will probably still pull 10 wins. The Bucs? Hmm....now that is the question isn't it? I could see this team going 6-10. I can also see this team going 10-6. It really depends on how quickly everything comes together.
Glad to learn we cut Revis because he was aging...lol. NOLA with a top 5 D? Seriously?
Unless stats lie in which case we're screwed with Glennon.
Not sure what our backup QB has to do with NOLA? Rob Ryan's D's always over perform year one and then fall back to reality, but I guess I didnt realize they cracked the top 5 in all those statistical areas. Whenever I watched them they didnt look like a top 5 crew on D.
Well…..anyone that thinks our season hinges on Martin doesn’t know what they are talking about. McCown…..yes……McCoy….yes…….even VJax, Verner, Oline…..lots of more important peices to this puzzle than Martin.
I agree on all 4 counts, honestly. I can’t see us and the Redskins not improving our records. I don’t think Washington is a playoff caliber team but I think they’ll be middle of the pack. Oakland got better but in that division I’m not sure it matters much, they’re probably still at the bottom of the totem pole. Jacksonville took some good steps but they need a loooot of work. I hope that Bortles is ready to go early, for their sake.
Saints D not as good as their ranking , for sure. A lot of smoke and mirrors there.
Then give us some gawd damn smoke and mirrors if it gets up in the top 5.
They are strong. Ryan has done a nice job over there. And now they have added Byrd, one of the best safetys in the league. Our only hope is Brees gets in a motorcycle wreck and his NFL career is over. j/k
I believe the Bucs are the most promising of that list.Raiders? Please. I don't see much difference between the moves from Al Sr. to Al Jr. They traded Terrel Pryor to the Seahawks for a song, and the Hawks are really happy with him. Not as a QB, but they are going to try to work him into the offense in other ways. I guess the Raiders think they are set with Carr and Schaub.Redskins? Even if they have a decent season, that is a tough division. The Eagles will rule for the foreseeable future.Jags? They are doing a good job building that team. But it will take a couple more drafts. And they have to pass up the Colts in the standings. I don't see it happening anytime soon. Unless Bortles looks like Dan Marino from day 1.
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