Sports Briefs: Leaving 2013 NFL Camps

(No team is perfect in Week 1, and while over a month of training camp has helped to address inefficiencies, Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie have found something each team still needs to work on, assuming a winning season - and not the first pick in the draft - is the goal . . . Sponsored by 3 Spoons Yogurt)

Joe: The Baltimore Ravens still need to work on replacing losses from last year's Super Bowl championship team, including LB Ray Lewis to retirement, S Ed Reed to free agency, WR Anquan Bolden traded, C Matt Birk retired, LB Paul Kruger, and LB Dannell Ellerbe. Re-signing Flacco, signing LB Elvis Dumervil, and drafting stars S Matt Elam and LB Arthur Brown will help. Living up to last year's championship team will be very difficult. I do not predict a repeat.

Chris: The Buffalo Bills still need to work on warming their American fans to the idea of either changing their mascot to the Royal Canadian Mounties or changing their official team name to the Toronto Bills of Buffalo.

Brad: The Cincinnati Bengals still need to work on blocking better.

Ralphie: The Cleveland Browns still need to work on finding a kicker. Not having a good kicker can ruin a game.

Joe: The Denver Broncos still need to work on getting over the hump to win it all. The running game must be improved to compliment the Manning passing game. The addition of Montee Ball should be a shot in the arm for the Broncos’ rushing game, as will Wes Welker to the passing game. It will be interesting to see how new OC Adam Gase uses Montee without messing up Peyton's game. Losses of LB DJ Williams, DE Elvis Dumervil and LB Von Miller (six-game suspension) are significant. The defense will be strong again, and with Peyton Manning at QB, the Broncos will be a strong contender to win the AFC.

Chris: The Houston Texans still need to work on developing a phonetic spelling for the correct pronunciation of Matt Schaub’s name. During the Texans’ Thanksgiving Day game last year, I heard various family members call him “Swab,” “Skob” and “Slob.”

Brad: The Indianapolis Colts still need to work on their running game.

Ralphie: The Jacksonville Jaguars still need to work on their roster. How many more players are they going to cut?

Joe: The Kansas City Chiefs still need to work on developing a winning attitude. Firing Romeo Crennel and hiring Coach Andy Reid was a major shakeup and will be a dramatic change for the Chiefs, not to mention a new GM, OC and DC. Key additions of QB Alex Smith, CB Dunta Robinson, TE Anthony Fassano, rookies OT Eric Fisher and TE Travis Kelce should bolster last year’s 24th ranked offense. The many changes of GM, coaches and QB should be a new-look Chiefs team. They still will struggle to be better than middle of the pack in the AFC.

Chris: The Miami Dolphins still need to work on training the dolphin on their helmet to jump through the hoop, as opposed to in front of the hoop. Since the team’s first helmet in 1966, the dolphin has been unable to perform this trick, and I would personally consider not feeding the dolphin its miniature fish treats until it jumps through the hoop.

Brad: The New England Patriots still need to work on a more stable offense and cutting down on injuries.

Ralphie: The New York Jets still need to work on deciding on a starting quarterback. The team needs time to start to trust him as their leader.

Joe: The Oakland Raiders still need to work on shaking their losing reputation. Major changes have occurred to last year’s team with the losses of WR Darrius-Bey, FS Michael Huff, LB Phillip Wheeler, DT Desmond Bryant, P Shane Lechler, DT Tommy Kelly, QB Carson Palmer, and cutting QB Tyler Wilson. The additions include QB Matt Flynn and FS Charles Woodson; RB Darren McFadden is still an outstanding back, but the additions will probably not be enough to get the Raiders out of the AFC cellar.

Chris: The Pittsburgh Steelers still need to work on making sure they have plenty of depth at quarterback, should Ben Roethlisberger fail to stay healthy or make a surprise appearance with Chris Hansen on “To Catch a Predator.”

Brad: The San Diego Chargers still need to work on communicating and working as a team.

Ralphie: The Tennessee Titans still need to work on having a season worth all the money Bud Adams has spent.

Joe: The Arizona Cardinals still need to work on getting over major changes of firing Coach Wisenhunt, their GM, OC and losing their DC. New coach Bruce Arians, and adding QB Carson Palmer, rookies OG Jonathan Cooper and FS Tyrann Mathieu, will make for an interesting remake of the Cardinals. The defense looks to be solid again, but the offense must be greatly improved to get the Cardinals out of the NFC cellar.

Chris: The Atlanta Falcons still need to work on hiding Tony Gonzalez’ AARP paperwork and then hiding the note Gonzalez wrote to remind himself to fill out his AARP paperwork.

Brad: The Carolina Panthers still need to work on communicating and pulling together their offense.

Ralphie: The Chicago Bears still need to work on having an offense that can win football games.

Joe: The Dallas Cowboys still need to work on improving the defense to compliment their offense. New DC Monte Kiffin should give the Cowboys a new and exciting defense. The team must overcome after November losing streaks the last two seasons.

Chris: The Detroit Lions still need to work on tackling, pass coverage, keeping their opponents from scoring points and the general concept of "defense." This is assuming the players on their offense aren’t open and agreeable to playing defense as well.

Brad: The Green Bay Packers still need to work on their running game.

Ralphie: The Minnesota Vikings still need to work on keeping their players off the list of injured players.

Joe: The New Orleans Saints still need to work on getting past the stigma of having Coach Sean Payton suspended for a year from bounty-gate. With his return and the hiring of Rob Ryan as DC, the league’s poorest defense must improve; SS Kenny Vaccaro and CB Keenan Lewis should help improve the defense. The offense should once again put up many points, but will it be enough?

Chris: The New York Giants still need to work on consistently executing a game plan that generates no more than 10 wins, sneaking into the playoffs as a wildcard, winning three straight games on the road and a Super Bowl that is decided late in the game by a miracle that would impress Moses.

Joe: The Philadelphia Eagles still need to work on improving both sides of the ball. Their average offense and defense must improve to get out of the middle of the pack in the NFC. Will college coaching sensation Chip Kelley be successful in the NFL? That is the key question. With a gifted athlete in Michael Vick at QB, the hurried pace may be too much for defenses. Or will the hurry-up offense only frustrate the Eagles?

Ralphie: The St. Louis Rams still need to work on making 3rd down conversions.

Brad: The San Francisco 49ers still need to work on keeping their players off the injury list.

Chris: The Seattle Seahawks still need to work on allowing Russell Wilson time to star in a sitcom, alongside “Cast Away” star Wilson the Volleyball, in which they routinely appear in sketches as each other’s replacement, such Russell Wilson ignoring Tom Hanks on an island and Wilson the Volleyball attempting to take a snap from center.

Brad: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still need to work on communicating and executing cleaner plays.

Ralphie: The Washington Redskins still need to work on their rookie defensive backs.

Try on a new pair of Sports Briefs with the Gab Four every Friday. Find out more about Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie, and read their solo columns on their individual pages.

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