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Matching passing talent to schemes keys QB success

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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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By Nolan Nawrocki

The best offensive coordinators adjust to the talent on their roster, devising plays that maximize their players' strengths, conceal their shortcomings and continually put the ball into the hands of their team's playmakers. Injuries, self-scouting and weekly adjustments often can change the style of an offense dramatically from the beginning of the season to the end, as reigning Super Bowl-champion head coach Mike McCarthy did with his offense last season after losing Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant early. Nonetheless, many of the core principles remain in place and define the base of an offense.

PFW divided base offenses into two main categories — a traditional, deep-drop, vertical passing game complemented by a power running game popularized by Al Davis and Don Coryell in the old AFL and still well represented in the AFC, where 11 of the 19 teams running the offense call home. Also heavily employed is a precision-matchup approach, often too loosely misconceptualized as a "West Coast" offense. It is credited most heavily to Bill Walsh and Sid Gillman, but has been modified greatly since Walsh ran his two-receiver, split-back version and in today's game, often includes a heavier arsenal of receivers. It remains most popular in the NFC, which features nine of the 13 teams, or nearly 70 percent, employing the style.

Some offenses feature a very healthy balance of both styles and vary based on the score, opponent and roster makeup, as trades, free-agent signings and injuries often force teams to shift their style. Following is a breakdown of how the base offenses of all 32 teams classify most heavily, listed in order of strength of playcaller-quarterback-supporting cast combinations and categorized into one of two categories — settled, meaning championship-contending, and unsettled, or still developing.

With 13 new offensive coordinators, the jury is still out on what some teams might do, yet PFW surmises what can be expected based on the track record of coaches and the personnel on rosters. In addition to defining each offense, PFW analyzes quarterback situations, detailing how passers fit into each offense and which are best positioned to blossom or burn. For teams in need of quarterbacks, PFW offers who might logically fit into the style of offense. 

 

(Editor's note: Teams with new coordinators are marked by an asterisk. Conference is listed in parentheses to denote offenses that run styles contrary to their division trend.)

 

PRECISION-MATCHUP

Settled

1. Green Bay Packers

Mike McCarthy showed his brilliance last season when he overcame a rash of offensive injuries and redesigned his offense to lead the Packers to a Super Bowl championship. He is excellent at recognizing matchups and keenly opened in the shotgun with a four-receiver set against Pittsburgh Super Bowl XLV, knowing Dick LeBeau's vaunted defense did not have the covermen to contain their multitude of receivers coupled with the explosive arm of Aaron Rodgers. McCarthy, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and QB coach Tom Clements have done an excellent job of grooming Rodgers and developing backup Matt Flynn, who remains of interest in the veteran trade market. The addition of OT Derek Sherrod and WR Randall Cobb infuses much-needed youth and should allow arguably the NFL's best offensive matchup coach to continue creating.

2. New Orleans Saints

Offensive mastermind Sean Payton is one of the best matchup coaches in the league with a very quick-triggered, rapid-firing quarterback. Drew Brees is capable of diagnosing defenses instantly and cycling through his reads, and despite having an inflated interception total last season (his 22 picks trailed only Eli Manning's 25), many could be attributed to well-placed drops. Brees is very patient scanning the field, taking the checkdown and not forcing the ball. Together, Payton and Brees brought New Orleans their first Lombardi Trophy two years ago and remain one of the most potent playcaller-quarterback tandems in the league, aided greatly by a very strong supporting cast that now includes a bellcow back in Mark Ingram.

3. Indianapolis Colts (AFC)

Tom Moore officially has departed and left the coordinator job in the hands of Clyde Christensen, but no quarterback in the league is more adept making pre-snap reads than franchise QB Peyton Manning. Despite all the criticism he endured last season, he might have produced his finest season as a pro, with a depleted supporting cast missing Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez and featuring one of the worst offensive lines in football, an area GM Chris Polian targeted with his first two picks in the draft. In crunch time with the game on the line, Manning consistently came through with big plays and willed the Colts to victory. More than any other passer in the league, he serves as his own coordinator, capable of audibilizing at the line, making sight adjustments and executing his own game plan. When the Colts' receivers are healthy, Manning has one of the best supporting casts in the league, starting with Reggie Wayne.

4. New England Patriots* (AFC)

New offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has gained increased responsibility each year since he arrived as an offensive assistant in 2007, working with the receivers, quarterbacks and helping coordinate the offense the past two years after Josh McDaniels departed. Bill Belichick remains significantly involved in streamlining packages, but O'Brien deserves a share of the credit for Tom Brady's NFL-best 36-4 TD-to-interception ratio last season. The early season trade of Randy Moss placed a greater emphasis on the Patriots' two rookie tight ends, with Aaron Hernandez filling a stretch-the-seam role until he got hurt. Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead thrive in the Patriots' offense because they are quick, crafty and can be trusted to cut off routes at the exact length — a huge part of the reason for Brady's NFL-low interception total. Brady will take deep shots, but is at his best exploiting matchups with a precision passing game.

5. Houston Texans (AFC)

Longtime veteran NFL backup quarterback and Mike Shanahan understudy Gary Kubiak learned well how to identify matchups and pieced together an offense that relies heavily on exploiting them in the running and passing games. Matt Schaub possesses the touch, accuracy and anticipation desired to run the offense and has honed his instincts every year under the tutelage of Kubiak in Houston. When Schaub and Andre Johnson are healthy, the offense is a well-oiled machine that is difficult to stop, with Arian Foster benefiting tremendously from its design last season.

6. St. Louis Rams*

New offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels inherits one of the most precisely accurate quarterbacks in the league in sophomore Sam Bradford. However, what Bradford did not have a year ago, with Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton both suffering injuries, were the precise, reliable route runners that make the offense go. Hence, the addition of the sure-handed and dependable WRs Greg Salas and Austin Pettis and seam-stretching TE Lance Kendricks, who will help keep defenses honest and open up the short passing game where Bradford is most lethal. The key to the Rams' offense will be how well McDaniels can coordinate protection that struggled too much last season and complement Steven Jackson. However, it will not be a surprise to see an offense that ranked 31st in efficiency (and might have cost Pat Shurmur his job had he not fallen up) spring into the top 10.

7. New York Giants

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride would like to run a precision offense, but after an injury claimed Steve Smith, the Giants' most precise, reliable route runner, the offense took more of a vertical look, relying heavily on outside-the-numbers, downfield WRs Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. Defenses recognized that if they could be patient in coverage, Eli Manning would force the ball into tight spots — a big reason why the Giants' offense faltered last season, and he led the league with 25 interceptions. For the offense to thrive, the Giants need Smith to return as an underneath, move-the-chains force, which will help Manning become more decisive.

 

Unsettled

8. Cincinnati Bengals* (AFC)

Carson Palmer had the physical tools to fit in either style of offense prior to suffering a knee injury in the playoffs in January 2006. After declining to have Tommy John surgery to repair torn ligaments on his right throwing elbow in '08, however, Palmer lost his fastball and needed to adapt to a precision offense. The problem in '10 was that he did not have receivers who could run precise routes, as Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco too often freelanced and many perfectly placed passes wound up turning into interceptions. Jay Gruden was brought in this offseason to replace offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and help modify the Bengals' attack and pacify a disgruntled Palmer hellbent on leaving town. The Bengals also used their first draft pick on A.J. Green, a dynamite receiving talent. In the event Palmer refuses to play, the Bengals can turn to Andy Dalton, a systematically sound, rhythm passer, whom they selected in the second round. He fits the offense even better than Palmer, who possibly could be forced to retire unless he can come to appreciate the support the Bengals have provided for him.

9. San Francisco 49ers*

Jim Harbaugh found great success at the collegiate level by outscheming the opposition and targeting mismatches well. While he figures to employ a power element in the run game, with a physical offensive line, and take shots downfield, the offense will be designed heavily on timing and matchups. Part of the problem with veteran Alex Smith, who expects to return to the helm next season while fireballing Colin Kaepernick develops, is that he has been too inconsistent with his reads, tends to drift in the pocket and only has shown flashes of being the confident triggerman the Niners have lacked since the days of Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia. Kaepernick whipped the ball around with more velocity than any other quarterback at the NFL Scouting Combine and possesses the explosive arm talent to fit in either type of offense, with great size, toughness, escapability and a big-play flair. He will allow the offense more flexibility to employ the smashmouth identity Harbaugh desires. While Smith is initially at the helm, however, opposing defenses could have more success stacking the box, with the short-passing game being Smith's forte.

10. Minnesota Vikings*

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is extremely well-versed in the principles of a rhythm passing game, and the Vikings tabbed Christian Ponder early in the draft to run his offense, which relies mostly on short, lateral tosses that will allow Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson to create more often in space. The addition of Kyle Rudolph alongside Visanthe Shiancoe also could go a long way, creating another reliable outlet to ease Ponder's transition and allow Musgrave to use more multiple-TE sets. Despite speculation that Donovan McNabb could reunite with Leslie Frazier in Minnesota, McNabb does not ideally fit into Musgrave's offense without heavily scaling it back the way Andy Reid did in Philadelphia — a big reason the Vikings reached for the extremely smart Ponder.

11. Washington Redskins

When Mike Shanahan was in Denver with John Elway at the helm, he emerged as the game's most creative play-caller. Surprisingly, he has delegated what he does best to his son, Kyle, the youngest coordinator in the game. Three years younger than Donovan McNabb, the youthful Shanahan struggled to earn McNabb's respect as the veteran QB suffered through his worst season in football, unable to adapt to relatively mundane assignments that has left the football community fully aware of why Andy Reid was willing to trade his "star" quarterback within the division. McNabb was benched in the final minutes against Detroit after being unable to play simple pitch-and-catch with wide-open receivers in the face of a too-distracting blitz. McNabb is not expected to return, leaving the offense in the hands of John Beck or free agent Rex Grossman. Despite widespread criticism, Beck has the savvy and release quickness of Brian Griese, knows when and where to go with the ball and could be serviceable in Shanahan's offense with the addition of two physical receivers — Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul. It will take better play under center to advance in the playoffs, however.

12. Cleveland Browns* (AFC)

Head coach Pat Shurmur was tabbed by Mike Holmgren to modify Brian Daboll's vertical power offense, which relied heavily on the legs of Peyton Hillis. The ultra-tough Jake Delhomme excelled in a vertical-power scheme, hanging on to the ball on deep sets and frequently throwing to spots. Sophomore Colt McCoy is better suited for Holmgren's preferred style of offense and has been given the early nod, with Seneca Wallace also understanding its intricacies. As much as any coach in the league, Holmgren still abides by the principles of Bill Walsh and will nurture Shurmur's offense to be very precise. Adding a big, physical receiver such as Greg Little will enhance the offense immediately and coupled with Mohamed Massaquoi, could give McCoy the run-after-the-catch prowess needed to make the offense more dangerous.

13. Seattle Seahawks*

With Matt Hasselbeck unsigned, new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell remains handcuffed by Charlie Whitehurst and leaves Seattle as a prime player in the QB market when the league reopens for business. Bevell prefers a precision-matchup offense that Hasselbeck can run efficiently if healthy. Former offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is gone in large part because of his inability to exploit matchups. Whitehurst's talents are better suited for a vertical-power attack and could force Bevell to adapt the offense. The Seahawks wisely addressed what was one of the NFL's worst offensive lines with their first two draft picks, added Tom Cable to help coordinate the run game and are expected to continue bolstering the unit in free agency. Even if Hasselbeck can be re-signed, the Seahawks need to find a longer-term solution. Carson Palmer played for Pete Carroll at USC and could be ideal to run Bevell's offense if he could be pried loose from Cincinnati's tight grip. Kyle Orton would also fit.

 

VERTICAL-POWER

Settled

1. San Diego Chargers

Norv Turner runs one of the most balanced offenses in the league and likes to feature a power running game with multiple-TE sets and big, vertical receivers that can stretch the field and create big plays. Nonetheless, Turner's greatest strength as a play-caller is focused on matchup recognition. Similar to Bill Walsh, who scripted his first 20 plays, Turner is keen to limit the quality of plays in his game plan, but his initial script uses different formations that help identify what personnel grouping defenses will play. Once he knows how defenses will react, he can cut loose ultra-tough Philip Rivers to pick 'em apart with precision. The reason the Chargers' offense ranked atop the league in efficiency in 2010 was because of Turner's balanced approach, but the big-play passing game (reflected by a league-leading 7.76 yards per pass) keyed its success.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has come under fire, but he has had his work cut out for him having to limit the playbook for the supremely gifted but hard-partying Ben Roethlisberger, arguably the most physically gifted quarterback in the league. Few quarterbacks can stand in the pocket with his poise, shake off the oncoming rush and drill the ball into tight windows the way he consistently has done under pressure. Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin are both terrific motivators and defensive minds, and Dick LeBeau remains the game's top defensive coordinator, but the key to the Steelers' championships in the modern era has been No. 7 and a strong power running game.

3. Chicago Bears (NFC)

Contrary to popular belief, offensive coordinator Mike Martz runs more of a vertical-power offense than one based on precision. He understands matchups, but it is the creativity of his designed routes that pulls receivers open. He demands his quarterback to stand in the pocket and make tough throws, which Jay Cutler consistently did behind a very shaky offensive line in his first season under Martz. He took as much of a beating as any other passer in football, being hit more often than the Bears' league-leading 56 sacks allowed — a big reason Cutler's toughness never should have been challenged in the playoffs and remains a sore spot for those who saw first-hand what he regularly withstood. The offensive line remains weak, but OL coach Mike Tice knows how to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers. The Bears' offense works because of the skill of its sheriffs.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC)

Mike Holmgren protégés Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would prefer to run a precision-matchup offense, but the talent on their roster, from the quarterbacks to the offensive line to the receivers, are more geared for a vertical-power attack. They have wisely adapted their offensive approach to suit the strengths of the team, taking more shots downfield than any other. Of the quarterbacks on the roster — Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb and Mike Kafka — it is No. 3 Kafka who is most suited to be a precision passer. Vick is late to diagnose coverages and get rid of the ball, and his inconsistent throwing technique on the move and tendency to overstride remain issues affecting his accuracy and durability, respectively. He is better throwing deep than short. Kolb too often has appeared like a deer in headlights, and has not shown the instincts or quick-twitched trigger desired in a precision offense, a big reason the Eagles are looking to unload him like they did with McNabb. The offensive supporting cast is collectively as strong as it ever has been during Reid's tenure.

5. Atlanta Falcons (NFC)

Having cut his teeth in Pittsburgh, Falcons offensive coordinator and former TE Mike Mularkey relies on a power running game spearheaded by Michael Turner and an aggressive downfield passing attack featuring Roddy White. When defenses rolled extra coverage toward the Falcons' lone vertical threat the way the Packers did in the playoffs, the offense stagnated. Hence, the immense need for a physical, playmaking receiver like Julio Jones, and the willingness to pay a lofty price to land him. With Jones and a tough change-of-pace back (Jacquizz Rodgers) added to the fold, the Falcons' offense could take a leap, although a gritty, aging offensive line remains an area of concern.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC)

Underrated offensive coordinator Greg Olson was cross-trained in both styles of offense and wisely adapted the offense in Tampa Bay to fit the strengths of the roster, a big reason he was handed the job and the overwhelmed Jeff Jagodzinski was pushed out the door. With a towering, strong-armed fast-pitch passer and speed receivers, Olson tailored the Buccaneers' passing game to be vertical, and Josh Freeman has thrived. A bevy of big, physical, grind-it-out backs give the offense a smashmouth identity, but when defenses stack the run, Freeman can capitalize and push the ball downfield. 

7. Baltimore Ravens

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will take an increased role in the development of Joe Flacco this season after the team let go of QB coach Jim Zorn. The fourth-year quarterback has the rifle arm to slice it and should be enhanced by the addition of rookie WRs Torrey Smith, who can take the top off a defense, and Tandon Doss, well-suited to work the inside, both of whom should complement Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin nicely. The ground game is strong and loaded with firepower. The big question that remains is how Flacco can respond to the pressure of playing on the biggest of stages and whether the offensive line is consistent enough to create creases and protect an increasingly beleaguered Flacco.

8. New York Jets

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has fallen into the trap of piecing together overly complex game plans, and it has cost Mark Sanchez, who has excelled most with simplified assignments that allow him to build a rhythm and gain confidence. Following in his father's path, Schottenheimer employs a physical, ball-control offense that will uncork it deep to Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes to pick up yardage in chunks. Sanchez benefits from a sound supporting cast, powerful ground game and excellent defense and must grow together with Schottenheimer this season for the Jets not to retool their offensive strategy.

 

Unsettled

9. Dallas Cowboys (NFC)

Jason Garrett takes over as head coach and will retain the coordinator duties, which could be asking too much given how he has struggled to identify mismatches in the past, a big reason the Cowboys can look great one week and so bad the next. A mashing offensive line is built to pound the ball, and Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams help stretch the field vertically. Jason Witten and Felix Jones remain underrated cogs for QB Tony Romo, who is coming off injury and should be aided by the addition of OT Tyron Smith. However, Romo could struggle to withstand the pounding Cowboys quarterbacks invariably will receive.

10. Carolina Panthers* (NFC)

New offensive coordinator Rob Chud-zinski brings a well-balanced approach he learned from Norv Turner in San Diego. The Panthers selected Cam Newton to be their franchise quarterback, and he possesses Ben Roethlisberger-type physical talent. The big challenge for Chudzinski will be simplifying the offense enough for Newton to excel, focusing on simple, half-field, short-to-deep reads. The Panthers' supporting cast is very solid when healthy, featuring a multi-faceted ground game and sound offensive line. If they are forced to deal disgruntled WR Steve Smith, a vertical element will be taken away. David Gettis possesses the size and downfield speed to strike vertically, but the Panthers could use more receiving help to support Newton's growth, even if Smith sticks, as the passing game was much maligned last season.

11. Detroit Lions (NFC)

Mike Tice plucked offensive coordinator Scott Linehan from the college ranks to run his offense in Minnesota and find a way to better feature Randy Moss. Calvin Johnson fills the Moss role in the Lions' offense, and Linehan desires to air the ball out to him often. The problem is the offensive line — an area that once again was not targeted in the draft — is not built to protect long, and it too often leaves Matthew Stafford battered, bruised and out of the lineup. The Lions invested in more offensive skill talent, adding Mikel Leshoure and Titus Young, but with questions remaining about how to protect Stafford, it could be Shaun Hill who will need their help by season's end.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars

True to Jack Del Rio's wishes, underrated offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has effectively employed a power running game with standout FB Greg Jones paving the way for Maurice Jones-Drew. Size and speed are abundant at the receiver position and allow the Jaguars to attack vertically, but they lack star talent at the position, and the offensive line remains a work in progress. David Garrard has made steady improvement under Koetter's watch and has a rocket arm to whip it around the field, but he has not been able to get the Jaguars over the hump, a task that will be assigned to QB-of-the-future Blaine Gabbert, whom the Jaguars aggressively dealt up for in the draft to begin grooming.

13. Oakland Raiders*

After enlivening the Raiders' offense last season, Hue Jackson was promoted to head coach and joins forces with new offensive coordinator Al Saunders in an effort to continue reviving Jason Campbell's career. Campbell fits the offense very well. The test for Saunders will be whether he can keep his overflowing playbook in check and allow Campbell to focus on reacting, not thinking too much. The ground game is very formidable when Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are healthy, but the O-line remains a work in progress. It will be aided by Saunders' zone-blocking scheme and tremendous speed on the flanks. On paper, the Raiders' offense is as big, strong and explosive as any in football, but it remains a raw, work in progress too prone to error and short on instincts. The revolving door on the coaching staff remains an impediment to success. 

14. Miami Dolphins*

New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll brings a run-first, pound-the-rock philosophy to the Dolphins from Cleveland, and it should mesh well with Tony Sparano's approach and provide a spark where it was missing in Dan Henning's offense a year ago.  Much like he did during his college career, Chad Henne has struggled to progress in his three seasons in Miami and enters a critical stage in his third year as the starter, which likely will make or break his professional career. With the offensive line solidified by the addition of Mike Pouncey, Henne should have more time to operate in the pocket and must flip his negative TD-to-interception ratio to survive. The Dolphins made a concerted effort to surround him with more weapons, adding a bellcow back (Daniel Thomas) and vertical threat (Edmond Gates) to help his cause. If Daboll and the additional ammunition cannot noticeably jumpstart Henne's career, the Dolphins likely will be seeking Plan B before season's end. If Brandon Marshall cannot return to full health, the Fins might even have to explore an alternative, such as Vince Young, with "Wildcat" elements expected to remain in place.

15. Kansas City Chiefs*

Charlie Weis has found success in the NFL and college ranks using a precision-matchup offense. Todd Haley, on the other hand, was groomed in the more traditional vertical-power offense. While the philosophical clash was not the sole reason for Weis' abrupt departure after one year, it had a role in Weis heading to Florida. The ground game should remain one of the Chiefs' strengths under the direction of longtime OL coach and new offensive coordinator Bill Muir, with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combining to form arguably the NFL's most talented 1-2 punch. With Haley coordinating the passing game and lacking vertical receivers, the passing game needed a spark and got one in the form of Jonathan Baldwin, who immediately is penciled in as a starter and could help Matt Cassel downfield. Cassel had his best two years under Josh McDaniels (2008) and Charlie Weis ('10) running a precision offense, and is vulnerable to regressing this season after flipping back and forth between styles for the fourth time in four years - which could endanger the job of Haley.

16. Buffalo Bills

Chan Gailey definitely understands matchups, but his offense does not require a 62-percent-plus, high-percentage passer to function, a reason the Bills have remained comfortably committed to the cerebral Ryan Fitzpatrick. The offensive line is very solid inside and can create a pocket for Fitzpatrick to step into, but the bookends, OLT Demetrius Bell and ORT Mansfield Wrotto, could continue the Bills' cycling at the QB position, with neither Brian Brohm nor Levi Brown possessing the Jim Kelly-type toughness to withstand the beating Bills quarterbacks are sure to take in the fall. Fred Jackson remains a very underrated bellcow. Lee Evans and C.J. Spiller bring electric speed to the passing game, but the receiving corps is without distinction. Adding a spot starting veteran such as Kerry Collins could prove to be a valuable addition for the Bills.

17. Denver Broncos*

Much debate has emerged about who will win the quarterbacking nod in Denver. The odds-on favorite to make a mark this season is Tim Tebow, who best fits offensive coordinator Mike McCoy's vertical-power offense. While McCoy remains in place in title, he can be expected to change the offense to blend with John Fox's preferred style of power football and will give the offense a considerably different look with more responsibility as its new play-caller, as he did the final four games of the 2010 season. Kyle Orton struggles to throw down the field, had his most success under Josh McDaniels in a precision offense and could be dealt as a non-fit. A quick review of Orton's lone start with McCoy as play-caller is revealing, and the QB's season-low 27.1 passer rating is a good indicator for why he could be sent packing. Brady Quinn possesses the size and stature to compete with Tebow for the job, but remains a project. Tebow has the arm to connect downfield and stands to benefit from a solid offensive line and physical backfield. Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal both possess big-play ability, and the Broncos added two developmental speed tight ends in the draft (Julius Thomas and Virgil Green) who could help stretch the field. The challenge for McCoy will be honing Tebow's accuracy, but the former Heisman Trophy winner does possess the size, toughness and arm strength to emerge in Denver.

18. Tennessee Titans*

Former offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's precision style did not match well with new head coach Mike Munchak's preferred power run game, a key part of the reason Munchak severed ties and installed Chris Palmer as his offensive coordinator. Palmer had his most success in Jacksonville with a power run game directed by the athletic Mark Brunell, and Jake Locker will be asked to step into a similar role readily. Jamie Harper was tabbed in the fourth round to handle hard carries alongside Chris Johnson. Though troubled Kenny Britt is the only standout, the receiving corps features the size-speed combo to test the field. The offensive line remains an area of strength, with two of the most solid bookends in football, thanks to the tutelage of Munchak. In an effort to shore up team chemistry, he will not bring back Vince Young, but that is not to say Young is without value on the trade market. Despite possessing a funky, sidearm delivery, Young proved he could excel with simple half-field reads when he is focused and was one of the most accurate deep passers in the league last season.

19. Arizona Cardinals (NFC)

Ken Whisenhunt is one of the game's top play-callers, but the offense was stuck in neutral last season without a quarterback. After failing to address the position during the draft, it remains parked at the bottom of the league for now. The addition of Ryan Williams should help the Cardinals re-establish their power running game, and they have size, speed and big-play ability at receiver. Derek Anderson is big and strong-armed, but his lack of instincts and accuracy drastically reduce any big-play flair and have handcuffed the offense. Max Hall is too small and weak-armed to find lanes, strike vertically and survive the pounding that comes in the offense, regardless of how well protected he might be. Kevin Kolb is strongly believed to be headed to Arizona via trade. If anyone could mold Kolb, it is Whisenhunt, who masterfully resurrected the career of a shell-shocked Kurt Warner, restoring his confidence and retooling his reads. The move makes sense but might require more patience than the Cardinals have.

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