Unsurprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys are once again struggling to build talent into their roster while fighting their own salary cap woes. Heading into 2014, the only major difference we’re likely going to see with the Cowboys is a team that’s a year older and a step slower.
Even worse, pressure will continue to mount against Jerry Jones, and historically, that’s the time his head coaches tend to lose their jobs. Jason Garrett won’t be able to get another endorsement from Jones without a trip to the playoffs, and there’s little indication the Cowboys will be able to keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.
The Lions are an aging team changing directions after a mediocre era under Jim Schwartz, and new head coach Jim Caldwell brings a completely different culture to the Lions. Finally, franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford regressed in 2014, especially in the latter half of the year.
Unfortunately, this may be a case of “it’ll get worse before it gets better” in Detroit. The Lions have to learn a new system, and they’ll need to develop a ground attack and a defense to get back to competing in a tough division.
To win in the NFL, teams need to be infused with young talent and they need a franchise quarterback that can take his team to the Super Bowl. The Bears have neither.
The biggest problem the Bears will see is Jay Cutler’s inability to rise above the middle tier passers in the NFL. Barring another catastrophe in Green Bay regarding Aaron Rodgers, the Bears will need to start considering who will lead their team beyond 2014, because Jay Cutler likely won’t be leading his team to the postseason anytime soon.
The Steelers have been unable to bring in young players that have the ability to replace older players leaving the team. Unless Pittsburgh hits a couple homeruns in the draft, the Steelers, much like the Cowboys, will be a year older and without any new talent to contribute.
Unlike the Cowboys, the Steelers do have a bit of saving grace. The Steelers will be keeping the current regime in place, and the team is at a point where they may be able to turn a corner following next season. Essentially, Pittsburgh’s stability will allow them to make a quick turnaround, but there’s nothing that suggests the Steelers can knock off the Bengals as the division champs.
New Orleans Saints
To say the Saints will tank in 2014 would be an overstatement. Yes, their salary cap problems will prevent them from signing any impact players outside their own organization, but by restructuring contracts, the Saints may be able to save top players like Jimmy Graham from becoming salary cap casualties.
Still, the Saints have one of the best quarterback, head coach tandems in the league, and that alone should prevent them from falling clear to the bottom of their division. Still, it’ll be a stretch for them to make it into the postseason, especially if the Panthers continue their roll from a season ago.