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Part III of NFL Preview: The AFC and NFC South divisions

By Jake Dowling, Icon intern

For previous previews click here.

Part III of NFL Preview: The AFC and NFC South divisions
AFC South

Houston Texans, 10-6, won division, made playoffs, lost in divisional round
The Coach- Gary Kubiak entered last season on the hot seat and finally got the postseason gorilla off his back. Owner Bob McNair was impressed enough to give Kubiak a three-year extension and he now runs the offense so well in Huston. With the stability on defense thanks to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' wizardry, the Texans are again the favorites to win a decidedly weak AFC South.

The Texans made the playoffs for the first time in team history last season and managed to do it without their franchise quarterback Matt Schaub, who did not play after Week 10 because of a foot injury. To that point, Houston was 7-3, atop the AFC South, and playing like one of the league's best teams. Fifth round QB TJ Yates out of North Carolina, finished the season with a 3-3 record, but led them into the playoffs where they had an improbable comeback victory over the Bengals in the wild card round.

The Quarterback- Matt Schaub has become one of the better QBs in the league after being traded from Atlanta in 2007. His problems have always been trying to stay healthy throughout his tenure at Huston, and last season was no different, but a highly talented team surrounded the young QB Yates, which helped them walk into the playoffs.
This offense though has been a top 10 offense the last few years with players Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. The former is a top-3 receiver; and the latter, a former undrafted free agent, signed five-year, $43.5 million deal in March to keep him in Houston. While the Big Three are all well established, the Texans do have depth concerns, namely at the other wide receiver positions. Despite the need, Houston went defense in the first round of April's draft, the fourth consecutive time they have done so.

The offensive game plan will be to continue to feature Schaub, Johnson and Foster behind one of the league's best-kept secrets: the offensive line. Tight end Owen Daniels, an underrated middle-of-the-field threat, returns for his seventh season. The biggest issues for this unit, depth, injuries and age. Schaub and Johnson are both in their 30s and Daniels will 30 in November.

The Defense- The Texans' defense went from liability to asset with the arrival of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips prior to the 2011 season. Kareem Jackson, the 2010 first-round pick out of Alabama, operated the other corner position. After a forgettable rookie season, Phillips regularly provided Jackson with safety help, which led to more confidence and better results. However, salary-cap concerns put the organization in a tough spot. Gone are Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Jason Allen, which means Brooks Reed, Darryl Sharpton, and a cast of young corners will have to step up.

Phillips might have a mixed record as a head coach but there is no questioning his chops as a defensive coordinator. He has brought that same mentality to Houston, and it is exactly what the Texans need to win those tight games.

Tennessee Titans, 9-7, missed playoffs
The Coach- Head coach Mike Munchak enters his second season and now has the benefit of an entire offseason to get his team ready. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer has been happy with RB Chris Johnson's progress, probably because a running game will open up the vertical passing game that Palmer favors. Defensively, Jerry Gray has his work cut out for him in terms of both generating a pass rush with his front seven and avoiding the mental mistakes that often plague a relatively inexperienced secondary.

Last season, the offense was supposed to run through Johnson because that has been the philosophy since his arrival in 2008. However, Johnson missed part of training camp while holding out for a new contract, the Titans eventually relented, and by the time he showed up it was too late to get into shape, and it went downhill from there.

Heading into 2012, Johnson is already in better condition, spending the spring and summer working out with his teammates. The bigger question is who will stand approximately five yards in front of him in the backfield.

The Quarterback- Tennessee drafted quarterback Jake Locker in the first round of the 2011 draft, and as a rookie he played sparingly behind veteran Matt Hasselbeck. The veteran appears to be the favorite heading into camp. Whoever ends up under center, they will have wide receiver Kenny Britt back in the lineup after a knee injury landed him on injured reserve last season. Damian Williams has shown glimpses of big-play ability, Nate Washington is the graybeard of the bunch, and Tennessee added another outside threat in the draft with 20th-overall pick Kendall Wright out of Baylor. The team also has tight end Jared Cook who, like Johnson, finished strong last season.

While the run blocking was mediocre, the pass blocking was among the best in the league. While there was some consternation at the play of the offensive line, the Titans did not spend considerable time upgrading the unit this spring. They signed future Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson, a quality player whose best days may be behind him, and that was it. Still, the perception of an o-line's worth can change drastically if other parts of the offense are clicking. A year ago, Tennessee had a coach, a new system and two new quarterbacks trying to run it. They also suffered injuries to key players. Now, Hasselbeck and Locker have a year under their belts, Britt is healthy and Johnson is in shape. Hutchinson could be all the upgrading this line needs.

The Defense- The defense will feature several new faces in 2012. Loved by teammates and coaches and reviled by everyone else, cornerback Cortland Finnegan signed a $50 million contract with the Rams this offseason. In addition, disruptive defensive lineman Jason Jones is now in Seattle. Safety Chris Hope is also gone, thus the front seven will have to make up for a somewhat inexperienced secondary.

This means consistent contributions from defensive end Derrick Harvey, the team's 2010 first-round pick who has yet to live up to his potential, and big-bodied defensive tackle Jurell Casey, who showed an uncanny knack for stopping the run as a rookie. Linebackers Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers are also entering Year two and they will be joined by Kamerion Wimbley, most recently of the Raiders. Wimbley, a former first-round pick of the Browns, has shown the ability to rush the passer but reliably doing so has been an issue.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray ran a 4-3 last season, citing ease of implementation due to the lockout. The results were average, at best. The hope is that youthful exuberance can compensate for lack of experience this time around.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-11, missed playoffs

The Coach- New head coach Mike Mularkey was criticized in Atlanta for his vanilla schemes. His replacement with the Falcons? Former Jags offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, a proponent of the vertical passing game, who in Jacksonville was handcuffed by an inexperienced QB and a dearth of playmakers. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what Mularkey does with an offense that, outside of Mauricee Jones-Drew, does not have an identity.

The team finished 5-11 a season ago with an offense that finished dead last in yards per game. A lot of that has to do with a rookie QB who was not ready to start, in a cast of players who are below average in talent aside from the team’s premiere running back. Any progress this unit makes will hinge on the play of the offensive line, which, not surprisingly, was above average as run blockers but much less so in pass protection. Some of that has to do with MJD's experience and skills and Gabbert's lack thereof.

Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski has experience working with young signal callers; he was in Cincinnati when Carson Palmer arrived in 2003 and from 2004, Palmer's first year as a starter, till 2007, the Bengals were regularly a top-five offense.

The Quarterback- Gabbert's progress is dependent on several things. Most important: he has to overcome his timidity in the pocket, a condition that plagued him for most of his rookie season. Yes, he had one of the worst wide receiver corps since the invention of the forward pass, but he was also the beneficiary of the league's best run game, thanks to MJD. The bigger issue for Gabbert was one that bedevils most rookie QBs: pre-snap reads, identifying coverages and being decisive. It can be overwhelming. So the new coaching staff will be tasked with putting Gabbert in position to succeed, a scenario familiar to head coach Mike Mularkey, who was the Falcons' offensive coordinator when the team drafted Matt Ryan in 2008.

The short version of the 2011 Jags' offense: outside of Maurice Jones-Drew, there was not one. However, with a new coaching staff and quarterback Blaine Gabbert entering his second NFL season, the hope is that the passing game can serve as something other than a distraction from the rushing attack. Jacksonville traded up in the April draft to take wide receiver Justin Blackmon, and signed Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans in free agency. Blackmon has the potential to be special while Robinson and Evans are complementary players who would benefit from a legit No. 1 and a bona fide franchise quarterback. On paper, the Jags have both. Now it is just a matter of helping both Blackmon and Gabbert mature into those players.

The only problem is, back Jones-Drew may hold out for some time until he gets a new deal, which could stall the progression of this offense.

The Defense- It is reasonable to suggest that the Jags' defense played a big part in any success the team had last season. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac, the Jags went from dead last in defensive efficiency in 2010 to No. 5 in 2011. It was one of the 10 biggest year-to-year improvements in the past 20 years.

The D was just as good against the pass and the run, fifth overall in both, and if not for a string of injuries during the second half of the season, the unit might have been even better. The injury bug did not discriminate, either, affecting the front seven as well as the secondary. The former meant a less effective pass rush; the latter saw a team so desperate for warm bodies that it was signing players off the street late in the year. If this unit had a weakness, beyond staying healthy, it was getting to the quarterback. Jeremy Mincey led the team with eight sacks, more than twice as many as any other Jaguars defender did. Therefore, after the Jags got their big-play wideout in the first round of the NFL Draft, they used their second-round pick on Clemson pass rusher Andre Branch. If Jacksonville's front four can consistently get into the backfield, it will free up linebackers Smith and Paul Posluszny to attack the line of scrimmage. Veteran Rashean Mathis should be back from a November ACL injury, and Derek Cox will line up opposite him. Strong safety Dawan Landry, who was surprisingly effective in his first year with the team, will join steady-as-he-goes free safety Dwight Lowery, formerly of the Jets.

Indianapolis Colts, 2-14, missed playoffs

The Coach- Ryan Grigson replaces Bill Polian as general manager; former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano replaces head coach Jim Caldwell; former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians replaces Clyde Christensen, who is now the quarterbacks coach; former Chargers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky replaces Mike Murphy; former Ravens assistant special-teams coach Marwan Maalouf replaces special-teams coach Ray Rychleski.

As one can see, there has been much change for the Colts’ coaching staff after being a playoff team the year before, and a Super Bowl appearance the year before that. Coach Pagano, who comes from Baltimore, will have his work cut out for him to be able to create a top defense in Indy like he did in Baltimore.

Virtually every position was one of need, especially in light of all the offseason turnover. The organization addressed many of those needs but the stark reality is this: the Colts will be lucky to sniff .500 -- rookie quarterback, upheaval on defense including a new scheme, and new faces up and down the roster. Clubs do not like to admit their starting from scratch but even owner Jim Irsay cannot deny it.

The Quarterback- The Colts, who had the number overall pick in this year’s draft, selected Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Luck, who will now be taking over former Colts great QB Peyton Manning, who is now in Denver, will have huge shoes to fill, and he will not be able to fill them this year. Perhaps the most underrated of these tasks is protecting Luck, who will play behind an offensive line that ranked 25th in run blocking and 18th in pass protection.
Good news: Only three of the projected starters were on the team in 2011. Bad news: It is not clear the replacements are upgrades. Anthony Castonzo, the Colts' 2011 first round pick, has the makings of an elite left tackle but the other four positions all come with questions. Center Samson Satele will succeed Jeff Saturday, and while the former is the better athlete, it will be impossible to replace the latter as a respected team leader.

There really is nowhere to go but up for an offense that was without Peyton Manning for the entire season and saw Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky start multiple games at quarterback. Nevertheless, sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, and a 2-14 record paved the way for Indianapolis to take their next franchise QB, Andrew Luck. However, just like Manning 14 years before, expectations will be manageable for Luck, who enters a situation where a six- or seven-win season will be met with the same praise Colts fans once reserved for their playoff teams.

The Defense- Under Tony Dungy and then Jim Caldwell, the defensive philosophy was to play a sound Cover 2 scheme, make the plays you are supposed to make, and then get out of the way for Manning and the offense. It was a relationship based on Manning staying on the field and upright. Once he was sidelined with multiple neck surgeries, the philosophy, along with any chance of regularly scoring points, went out the window. Chuck Pagano, hired to replace Caldwell, knows something about tenacious defense. He comes to Indy from Baltimore, where he was the defensive coordinator. Whether the Colts, a unit with plenty of pass-rushing talent but short on quality depth at other positions, can successfully make the move to a 3-4 defense is another matter.

Two of the team's best defenders, defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, will be moving from hand-in-the-dirt pass rushers to outside linebackers, where one or both will regularly have pass-coverage responsibilities. But Freeney and Mathis are proven NFL playmakers; the same cannot be said for the secondary, which generally has to work in concert with the front seven for the scheme to be effective.

As often happens with coaching changes, the new regime brings players with them. Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski are former Ravens and know Pagano's system, so that will add some depth to this defense.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints, 13-3, won division, lost in divisional round
The Coach- Head coach Sean Payton, who is suspended for 2012 season because of the bounty scheme; will be replaced by assistant head coach and linebackers coach Joe Vitt named interim head coach, who is also suspended for season's first six games. Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer named interim-to-the-interim coach. Steve Spagnuolo, former head coach of the Rams, was hired as defensive coordinator, after previous coordinator Gregg Williams left to become Rams defensive coordinator before being suspended indefinitely.

Even before training camp, this team was a mess with coaches and players being suspended amid the bounty scheme, where the NFL alleges that Saints players received compensations among themselves and coaches for knocking the opposing player out of games.

The Quarterback- The city of New Orleans breathed a sigh of relief on Friday the 13th when Drew Brees and the Saints agreed to a long-term deal that will keep him in the Bayou for another five years. That means this team will be dangerous enough offensively to compete in the division. Without Brees in the fold, the Saints could well have become this year's version of the 2011 Colts.

The issue for Brees and the offense now will be overcoming another offseason storyline you may have heard of: Sean Payton's suspension resulting from the Saints bounty scandal. Payton's out for the year, which means Brees will have to put on coaching, coordinating and quarterbacking hats this year.

Fortunately, he has help. Marques Colston, a perfect fit for the New Orleans offense, returns after being re-signed in the offseason. Jimmy Graham is one of the best in the league at his position, and probably the most dangerous tight end, offensively speaking. Darren Sproles is a multi-faceted game changer and a perfect for what New Orleans does. If you had to pick one team's QB/RB/WR/TE combo, you would be hard-pressed to find a better skill-position group than the Saints.

There are other weapons too: Devery Henderson needs to be more consistent to replace the departed Robert Meachem. Lance Moore provides another versatile weapon. Mark Ingram needs to improve on his rookie campaign, but combined with Sproles and Pierre Thomas, he should be dangerous. In short, the Saints remain an extremely talented and potent offense, regardless of which administrators got suspended.

No one had better interior linemen than the Saints. Losing All-Pro Nicks was a tremendous blow, but New Orleans was able to end up in the best possible spot during the game of musical guards. They snagged Grubbs, the next best available free agent at the position. The former Ravens lineman, who was also a Pro-Bowl caliber player, should fill in well as a physical replacement for Nicks.

The Defense- The opposite side of the ball is a different story, however. Obviously, the Saints bounty scandal centers around departed defensive coordinator and exotic-blitz junkie Gregg Williams. Williams left to join Jeff Fisher in St. Louis, and was replaced by the guy Fisher replaced: Steve Spagnuolo. Williams' Super Bowl-winning defense in 2009 was not necessarily an "elite" defensive unit, that Saints squad simply generated a ton of turnovers.
And over the past two seasons, that has happened less and less. Spags will attempt to install a more standardized 4-3 defense. The problem is that the Saints still lack a ton of talent on that side of the ball. The pass rush is beyond underwhelming: Will Smith will be suspended for the first four games of the season, Greg Romeus is already out for the year, Cameron Jordan underwhelmed with just one sack in his rookie season, although he was stout against the run and could improve under Spags.

Roman Harper had 7.5 sacks in 2011, but it is unlikely he will be coming after quarterbacks as much under Spags. New linebackers Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and former Spagnuolo player Chris Chamberlain should actually equate to an improvement in that area. The secondary should hold up fine, especially if defensive backs are not spending half their time blitzing the quarterback and leaving their fellow secondary members vulnerable. Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson are an OK duo at cornerback, and Malcolm Jenkins and Harper are decent safeties.

Atlanta Falcons, 10-6, made playoffs, lost in wild card round

The Coach- Mike Smith has changed the culture in Atlanta since arriving there in 2008. His regular season record of 43-21 speaks for itself, as he is the first coach in franchise history to lead his team to three straight double-digit win seasons. However, the bigger issue is his playoff record, 0-3. Could Smith be another coach on the NFL on the hot seat? Though he has done a lot of good in Atlanta, he has yet to get his teams to produce in the postseason, which will have to change soon.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularkey, who departed to become Jaguars head coach is replaced by Dirk Koetter, former Jaguars OC. Brian VanGorder, who departed to become Auburn defensive coordinator; is replaced by Mike Nolan. Smith needs these coaching changes to produce into something great in the postseason.

The Quarterback- Optimists point to Matt Ryan's strong season, 4,177 yards, 29 touchdowns and a 61.3 completion percentage, Michael Turner's 1,340-yard effort last year and say the Falcons are poised to dominate on offense in 2012. Pessimists point out that Turner's stats are inflated by a Week 17 explosion against the hapless Bucs, that Ryan struggled throwing the ball down the field and that Mike Smith has not won a playoff game in his Atlanta tenure.

The reality is somewhere in between, Ryan was very good, Turner's stats are inflated, Smith's job is plenty safe, for now and the Falcons struggled to generate big plays last year. A top-10 unit in points scored, yardage, and passing touchdowns, Atlanta averaged just 5.6 yards per play,14th in the NFL, 6.8 net passing yards per attempt (13th) and 4.0 rushing yards per attempt (22nd). Ryan completed just 15 of his 60 passing attempts 20 yards or more down the field.

This was reflected in the organization's decision to shakeup the coaching staff. Hiring Dirk Koetter as the team's offensive coordinator should mean more shots down the field, more no-huddle responsibilities for Ryan and less dependence on Turner, who lacks big-play ability and is showing signs of wearing down. With weapons like Juilo Jones, Roddy White and the aging-but-effective Tony Gonzalez and an offensive line that's more efficient at protecting Ryan than it is at creating holes for Turner, the Falcons stand to be more explosive, and thusly more effective, in 2012.

The Defense- The Falcons hope that defensive changes will result in more explosion as well. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's aggressive style should improve on 13 forced fumbles, 19 picks and just 33 sacks from last year. The biggest problem for Atlanta is that they cannot play in the NFC South and not pressure the quarterback. Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Josh Freeman are guys that can tear apart defenses if given enough time. The Falcons ranked just 19th in the NFL in sacks last year, despite going all-in with Ray Edwards in the offseason.

Bringing back Jonathan Abraham should help Edwards improve on his 3.5-sack total from last season. Sean Weatherspoon may be the biggest factor for this entire defense though, after a disappointing one-sack, five-start season as a rookie, “Spoon” flashed a ton of potential last season and could be headed for a breakout year in 2012. The trio of Brent Grimes, Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson needs to make plays. That is the best group of defensive backs Atlanta has had in a long time and if Samuel's presence and ball hawking improves the group enough overall, they could do damage against the dangerous group of quarterbacks in the NFC South.

Carolina Panthers, 6-10, missed playoffs
The Coach- Former Bears and Chargers defensive coordinator was hired to be the head coach of the Panthers this season. So chances are good that the defense, who ranked 28th in yards a season ago, will be able to improve in that category. The league will see if Rivera has what it takes to be a good head coach in a very competitive NFC South division.

The Quarterback- What a difference a No. 1 pick makes. The Panthers went from the league's worst offense in 2010 to one of the most dangerous units in the NFL in 2011, literally doubling up their points-per-game production from 2010 (12.2 ppg) to 2011 (25.4 ppg). That is a result of Cam Newton posting one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history and changing the face of the franchise.

Many observers are salivating for a sophomore slump, but Panthers fans should actually hope for one. Lower statistics for Newton will mean a more balanced attack and a better defense. Steve Smith has reminded everyone just how talented he was; he is one of the truly elite wideouts in the NFL. Greg Olsen returns as a key member of the aerial attack, although the addition of another versatile tight end would be nice at some point for Rob Chudzinski's offense. The Panthers clearly believe that either TE David Gettis or Brandon LaFell will break out this season.

The running game for Carolina is laughably stout. Cam, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were the first single-team trio in NFL history to rush for 700 yards each in a season. Mike Tolbert will only improve the red-zone attack.

Left tackle Jordan Gross and center Ryan Kalil are perennial Pro-Bowl players, but this could be a questionable unit in 2012. It is a make-or-break year for right tackle Jeff Otah. That much is clear with the acquisition of tackle Bruce Campbell and small school, big-upside guy Amini Silatolu.

The Defense- It had to pain Ron Rivera, a defensive-minded coach, to watch this unit in 2011. After years of being known as a defense-first squad, the tables were turned on the Panthers last season. They registered just 31 sacks, 25th in the NFL, gave up 4.6 yards per carry to opposing backs (24th) and allowed 130.8 yards per game on the ground (25th). Much of their troubles were injury-related, Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, Sione Fua, Terrell McClain and Ron Edwards were just some of the guys that went down for extended portions of the season.

It was not all negative, though; Chris Gamble re-emerged as a top cornerback under the new coaching staff and linebacker James Anderson looked like a standout once he became the unit's best player. The front seven should be much stronger in 2011. Edwards is back and the McClain/Fua combo should improve. Charles Johnson, who recorded nine sacks last season, could be in for a bounce back with more talent around him. Greg Hardy is a wild card on the other side of the line, but has plenty of potential.

Tackling machine Luke Kuechly is a perfect fit in Carolina and will be an immediate help when it comes to improving the lackluster rush defense. He is my early pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Given the Panthers' weaknesses in 2011, many fans wanted the team to attempt to overhaul the defense and wide receiving corps in the draft and/or on the market. Limited cap space kept them from getting crazy in the free-agency market for the second year in a row and General Manager Marty Hurney surprised everyone when he did not use a single pick on a defensive tackle. That is primarily because Carolina believes the third-round picks they invested in Terrell McClain and Sione Fua last season will pay off in the form of an improved rushing defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4-12, missed playoffs

The Coach- Head Coach Greg Schiano hired to replace Raheem Morris; will being making a transition from college ball to pro ball. Schiano had early success as head coach of the University of Rutgers football program, but since then, his teams have struggled, so there is a big question coming into this season as to if Schiano can get the job done.

Schiano, a hard-nosed disciplinarian, deserves a ton of credit for making Rutgers football respectable. Schiano has NFL cred because he is a Bill Belichick disciple, but it is difficult to ignore the fact that college coaches simply do not succeed in the NFL often.

The Bucs were the NFL’s most disappointing team last season. In 2010, the Bucs looked like a team on the rise, winning 10 games and featuring a number of emerging superstars. In 2011, they were one of two teams with a -200 or greater point differential. The Bucs allowed more points per game than any team in the NFL, the offense completely regressed and they closed out the season with an improbable 10-game losing streak that cost Raheem Morris his job.

The Quarterback- QB Josh Freeman is a very gifted QB, but can he put it all together for more than one season? Freeman had a terrible season last year by turning the ball over way too much. However, the front office came out swinging in the offseason by adding receivers Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson in free agency and running back Doug Martin in the first round of the draft. Those three additions, along with a more disciplined approach from Schiano, should do wonders to help Freeman bounce back to being a legitimate upper echelon quarterback in the NFL

The youthful Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and Sammie Stroughter now looks a lot better. Martin will combine with back LeGarrett Blount to create an interesting one-two punch. Donald Penn and Davin Joseph should see an improvement in their play along the line with the addition of the physical Nicks.

The Defense- Defensively, the Buccaneers should be better in 2012. Tampa's invested heavily in the defensive line over the past two years, drafting Gerald McCoy and Brian Price in 2010 and following it up with Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn in 2011. Bowers already tore his Achilles and the Bucs can only hope he returns in time to play at some point this season. McCoy is the key for this team to not look like a sieve again, if he is healthy, the defensive line could actually be somewhat of a strength.

Clayborn is a legit candidate to have a breakout season this year. The linebackers should be improved with the draft addition of former Nebraska safety Lavonte David, a spark plug of a defender. However, David is not going to transform this unit alone. Mason Foster needs to continue his solid play, and Tampa needs to hope that Quincy Black can be anything close to average.

The secondary looked like it could end up being devastated this offseason, but then Aqib Talib's nasty court case was dismissed. If he can avoid a suspension from Roger Goodell, he will be a tremendous asset to Tampa Bay, especially if Greg Schiano can keep him in line. In addition, Talib will make Eric Wright, a much more acceptable second cornerback. First-round pick Mark Barron should make an early impact, he will need to in order to justify passing on Morris Claiborne for a safety.