#5 St. Louis Rams
- Cap Space (May 16th) $3.8 Million
- Key Additions- OT Jake Long, TE Jared Cook, DE William Hayes
- Key Losses- HB Steven Jackson, WR Danny Amendola, LB Rocky McIntosh, CB Bradley Fletcher
- Rookies- WR Tavon Austin, ILB Alec Ogletree, FS T.J. McDonald, WR Stedman Bailey
The “Not-So Greatest Show On Turf”
“The Greatest Show on Turf” was a long time ago in NFL years. Second year coach Jeff Fisher has a plan and has been adding pieces each of the last two years to build the team in his image. This isn’t so much of a rebuilding project here as it is a maturation process. Young talent needs brought up to speed in order to complete in the very tough NFC West.
Since the Rams drafted Sam Bradford to be the face of the franchise they have done little to surround him with any sort of threat. That is, until this year. The Rams made some moves and were able to move up and draft a playmaker at wide receiver. Tavon Austin was the choice and he brings big play ability to the offense. Also at wide receiver the Rams drafted Stedman Bailey as another target for Bradford. They will team with 2nd year man Brian Quick as the youngest starting trio of wide receivers in the league. The projected starting Tight End, Lance Kendrick, got some competition in the offseason with the signing of TE Jared Cook. Cook is a burner that can stretch the field. Long time running back Steven Jackson is gone. In his place is second year man Isaiah Pead. He is a strong runner with enough speed to get outside.
St. Louis played some serious defense last year. What they lack in big name stars they make up for in heart and athleticism. Defensive Ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn can wreak havoc on the opposing QB’s. Linebacker James Laurinaitis is a monster against the run and is joined by rookie Alec Ogletree who has the ability to patrol sideline to sideline. In the secondary Cortland Finnegan and second year man should be the starters for you at Corner Back. The safety postion is unsettled and should be a big focus for you.
When you take over the Rams, you need to look to upgrade the deep secondary immediately. The safety position is the weakest spot on the team. Offensively this team just needs time to develop. With a little patience we could see “The Greatest Show on Turf” return to the NFL.
#4 Jacksonville Jaguars
- Cap Space (May 16th) $26.8 Million
- Key Additions- WR Mohamed Massaqoui, LB Geno Hayes, CB Marcus Trufant, HB Justin Forsett, DT Sen’Derrick Marks, DT Roy Miller
- Key Losses- LB Daryl Smith, CB Derek Cox, S Dawan Landry, DT Terrance Knighton, C Brad Meester, WR Laurent Robinson, CB Aaron Ross, OL Eden Britton, CB Rashean Mathis
- Rookies- OT Luke Joeckel, FS John Cyprien, Specialist Denard Robinson
Well… They Have Nice Uniforms!
Poor Jacksonville, they can’t catch a break. One of the newest teams in the league and there is already talk of them leaving town. Poor attendance and overall community support of the team has been a problem since their 4th season in the league. There are plenty of tools to work with, you will just have to find a way to bring them together.
It’s another year, and another question mark at quarterback for the Jaguars. Will it be 3rd year man Blaine Gabbert, or will we see another veteran enter the fold? One thing is for sure, you will have a decision to make on day one at the quarterback spot. The bright spot on this offense is Maurice Jones-Drew. Find ways to get him the ball even in the passing game, he also has great hands out of the backfield. At tight end we have a top notch starter in Marcedes Lewis. Big, strong, and great hands are helpful over the middle on 3rd downs. Lewis will be your most reliable target on day 1. The cupboard is bare at wide receiver, no matter who your quarterback is; this isn’t a good situation. Justin Blackmon has all the talent to be a star. However, off the field problems and inconsistency have slowed his development. As the owner, you need to change that immediately. You also have Mohamed Massaqoui and Cecil Shorts to work with. Both are solid yet unspectacular players who will fill a role for you until you can upgrade the position. The Jaguars also drafted Denard Robinson this year. Find ways to get him on the field. He can play Half Back, Wide Reciever, Quarterback, and even as a returner.
Jacksonville comes to play defense every week. Unfortunately they are in the process of rebuilding their secondary at this time. They added several solid players to build around in the offseason. Some of these players have been around a while and can hold you over until you can get some youth added to the mix. Players like Jason Babin, Paul Posluszny, Marcus Trufant, Geno Hayes and Tyson Alualu will give you at least a few seasons to finish the rebuild.
Your plan of attack for rebuilding should be to decide if Gabbert is your starter for the long term. From there you must add some playmakers at receiver. After that just grab the best available defenders for your scheme and with a little luck (unfortunately for you I don’t mean Andrew Luck), you will see the playoffs rather quickly.
#3 Cleveland Browns
- Cap Space (May 16th) $32 Million
- Key Additions- OLB Paul Kruger, WR Davonne Bess, QB Jason Campbell, DT Desmond Bryant, CB Chris Owens, OLB Quentin Groves, TE Gary Barnidge, HB Dion Lewis
- Key Losses- Joshua Cribbs, Usama Young, Colt McCoy, Scott Fujita, Dmitri Patterson, Sheldon Brown, K Phil Dawson, TE Ben Watson
- Rookies- OLB Barkevious Mingo, CB Leon McFadden
At Least the Cuyahoga Can Catch Fire…
The perennial bottom feeders on Lake Erie need a real shot in the arm to return the team to the glory days of the 1950’s and 60’s. They play tough every Sunday but lack that something special to finish games. If you choose to take over this team, you have plenty of tools at your disposal to help you get to the promise land as well as plenty of cap space available to do so.
On the offensive side of the ball you have a great asset in HB Trent Richardson. Using the new “Run Free” mechanic should allow you to feature Richardson in the running game while you decide if Brandon Weeden is your Quarterback of the future. Weeden has a great arm for the deep ball but no true deep threat that is reliable. Your best wide receiver is 2nd year man Josh Gordon; who can get deep and make some great catches all over the field. On the other side is 3rd year man Greg Little. Little is a big strong wide receiver has great release. His downfall is that he drops a ton of passes, if you have the patience to work on his hands he can be a solid go-to guy. Also catching passes will be 2nd year return specialist and speedster Travis Benjamin, along with just signed Davonne Bess. The Tight Ends are inexperienced and raw but don’t sleep on Jordan Cameron as he can get deep against linebackers and safeties alike.
Defensively is where this team shines. Switching to the 3-4 defense brings a very deep front seven led by NT Ahtyba Rubin and DL Phil Taylor. Cleveland added OLB Paul Kruger and Drafted Barkevious Mingo to go along with pass rusher Jabaal Sheard and run stuffer D’Qwell Jackson. You should have no issues getting after the opposing teams Quarterback, just remember to keep your opponent guessing. In the secondary you have stud corner Joe Haden along with a great run support safety in T.J. Ward. Using the revamped “Hit Stick” with Ward will surely cause some turnovers.
To quickly turn this team around you will need to acquire another playmaker at receiver and another strong cornerback to compliment Haden. Also don’t hesitate to look for a Free Safety or Quarterback if Weeden isn’t your style of thrower.
#2 Buffalo Bills
- Cap Space (May 16th) $11.5 Million
- Key Additions- DT Alan Branch, LB Manny Lawson, QB Kevin Kolb,
- Key Losses- LB Nick Barnett, G Andy Levitre, S George Wilson, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR David Nelson, WR Donald Jones, CB Leodis McKelvin
- Rookies- QB E.J. Manuel, WR Robert Woods, ILB Kiko Alonso, WR Marquise Goodwin
I Bet Those 4 Straight Super Bowl Losses Don’t Look So Bad These Days
In the last few years we have heard the rumors of the Buffalo Bills moving to Toronto, Canada. I say we make this happen in Madden NFL 25! This is not your Buffalo Bills of the early 90’s, these hapless Bills have struggled mightily with on the field blunders as well as poor front office decision making. You can change all of that!
Let’s start on defense shall we? There is a solid defensive core in Buffalo, but you need to pick up some role players and young guys to groom. While they sport a solid front line of Mark Anderson, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus, and Mario Williams… your linebacking core is suspect even with the addition of rookie Kiko Alonso and may be the first part of this team you need to upgrade. In the secondary you have a young Stephon Gilmore and a solid veteran in Jarius Byrd but that’s pretty much it. This is another area that needs immediate help!
The offense however, should be exciting. You already have a great combination of running backs with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller so no need for an immediate upgrade there. You are very thin at wide receiver though and that’s why Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods were drafted. They should play nice with Steve Johnson and become a formidable trio in a few years. At tight end you have solid yet unspectacular Scott Chandler. Chandler is 6’7” and a great target in the red zone so be sure to utilize him correctly. The Ryan Fitzpatrick experiment is over, this year the Bills drafted E.J. Manuel in the first round. E.J. has great mobility and a solid arm. He could be the Quarterback of the future and you should focus on building up his skill set immediately.
This team has some good pieces, but still needs quite a bit of work to be a contender. Your first priorities should be on the defensive side of the ball. This could be the worst secondary in the league, that is never a good thing when you face the Patriots twice a season. Just move them to Toronto and be done with it already!
#1 New York Jets
- Cap Space (May 16th) $11.7 Million
- Key Additions- OL Willie Colon, S Dawan Landry, DL Antonio Garay, G Stephen Peterman
- Key Losses- G Brandon Moore, S LaRon Landry, TE Dustin Keller, HB Shonn Greene, LB Bart Scott, OT Jason Smith, S Yeremiah Bell
- Rookies- CB Dee Milliner, DT Sheldon Richardson, QB Geno Smith
Gang Green Can’t Even See The Lights Of Broadway
In New York it’s big talk… small production. Year in and year out these Jets do nothing yet have a ton of talent. Broadway Joe is embarrassed, and even former NFL coaches are baffled at the direction of the team. Rex Ryan is a great defensive coordinator, but not even a serviceable head coach. It’s debatable that he doesn’t even watch the offense practice based on their offseason moves each year. The Jets spend a ton of money on defense each and every year while their offense seems to get worse. This is a major rebuilding project and there are several salary cap hogs preventing you from a complete overhaul.
I don’t even know where to start… burn it down maybe. Start from scratch; unfortunately as of this post you still have Mark Sanchez on the roster. Thankfully you get to use Geno Smith at QB, it’s a good thing he can run because outside of Santonio Holmes there are really no weapons for him to use. Young receivers Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley can get down field in a hurry but are raw. You don’t have a true starter at tight end and the running back situation is the worst in the NFL. Chris Ivory may be your starter on day 1.
The once feared defense had gotten old and needed replaced. Muhammed Wilkerson and 2nd year man Quentin Coples are joined by rookie Sheldon Richardson to form the youngest front line in the AFC East. The linebacking core is still solid with David Harris and Calvin Pace. Gone is Darrelle Revis, in his place you have starters Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Rookie Dee Milliner may also push for a starting spot.
I don’t even know what I would do first here. With so many holes you just have to do something to upgrade multiple positions. Whatever you do DON’T CUT SANCHEZ. Yes he is killing your cap but cutting him will immediately suck and extra $4 million out of your cap with his $17 million in dead money. Keep him until its cost effective to cut him. Until then focus on bringing in cheap role players and a good starting running back that can take advantage of the “Run Free” system.
Do you agree with Buckeye’s Top 5? Who would you add? Be sure to let Buckeye know where he is wrong in our forums.