Each year, teams do their best to improve themselves big enough in roles important enough to rise in the Super Bowl image. Some teams are more successful than others, obviously, but that’s always the goal. This offseason we’ve seen a lot of movement and jolting as the teams scrambled to pass the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and win the Lombardi Trophy next February.
In the space below, we’re going to take a look at the 10 most impactful people (or groups of people) in new places or roles in the 2021 season.
Last year, Dolphins coach Brian Flores built one of the most creative and versatile defenses in the NFL, showing opposing attacks all kinds of different looks and pressures available to him with an improved staff. Miami was able to move the ball offensively with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center due to his high-risk, high-reward style, but struggled to do so with Tua Tagovailoa at the helm as he is by nature a more player. conservative, and the Dolphins don’t have a lot of revolutionary perimeter talent.
Enter two of the fastest and most explosive receivers available this offseason. Fuller is capable of making terrific plays down the line, but he also showed his ability to open the field for others: Deshaun Watson’s performance was always better with Fuller on the field than off when they played together in Houston. . Waddle has Fuller’s downline abilities, but adds a more precise road racing ability, which should allow him to be an elite threat after capture. Pair this duo with wide starters DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden Jr., and the Dolphins’ offense should create more explosive passing plays this season.
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Unlike the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks, Lance and Fields were drafted from teams with rosters that could have been in the playoffs a year ago if things had turned out differently. The 49ers collapsed under the weight of injuries last year, but they were in the Super Bowl the year before. The list is ready to win now. The Bears are not far from making the playoffs with Mitchell Trubisky as quarterback.
If, when these players come into the lineup, they can hit the ground running, their teams could take off from there. Lance, in particular, should be able to be successful right away due to the offensive infrastructure the 49ers already have in place with Kyle Shanahan, a great offensive line and a talented group of passers who excel at creating yards after the catch. .
No NFL team has splashed the pot in free agency more than the Patriots. They signed Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Matt Judon, Jalen Mills, Henry Anderson and Davon Godchaux. They brought Kyle Van Noy back after he was freed by the Dolphins and traded him for Trent Brown. They also get Donta Hightower back after retiring last season and have added Mac Jones, Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins (among others) to the draft. They should also have a healthier Cam Newton this season now that his fight with COVID-19 is months instead of weeks behind him. They’re a much more talented team than they were last season, and it should show on the pitch.
Remember that time a few years ago when the Saints had an elite attack, damn almost unstoppable every year, but you had no idea what you were going to get from defense, and it was generally bad then? they just did 7-9 every year? Well, now the Saints have excellent defensive talent and should be pretty good, but there’s no way of knowing what to expect from the offense as we still don’t know who will play the quarterback- back.
6. Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing
In 2019 and 2020, the Titans finished the season sixth and fourth in offensive efficiency, according to the Football Outsiders DVOA. Each season they were playing better and more efficient football towards the end of the year, before the playoffs. They did all of this under the direction of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who is now the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
His replacement, Downing, has coached the team’s tight ends each of the past two seasons. In his last stint as offensive coordinator, the 2017 Raiders offensive ended the year 13th in DVOA. Not bad, but not elite. He’s got better talent now than he did then, but he also needs to get the elite results Smith has achieved over the past two seasons because the Tennessee defense is … not good. If the Titans are just a top 8-12 instead of a top-five unit, they could go from potential contender to run pretty quickly. How the Titans adjust to their new player will go a long way in determining the fate of their season.
5. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Dallas defensive rookies
The Cowboys basically have the opposite problem. Their attack should be perfect now that everyone is healthy. When Dak Prescott was playing at the start of last season, they were posting historic numbers despite the absences of Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, and with Ezekiel Elliott looking like a shell of himself. Prescott, Smith and Collins are back, as are the rest of the offensive infrastructure from last season and (mostly) the year before. Questions are on the other side of the ball.
Dallas’ defense has been historically bad for much of last season under Mike Nolan. And not just in numbers. They lost everything. the. thin. time. The guys did not know the homework, got lost in the diagram, made easy to correct mistakes, consistently. They should be better trained under Quinn, but do they have enough talent to get results? Can they approach slightly below average on this side of the ball? Last year’s unit just didn’t have a lot of talent. That’s why the Cowboys used draft picks on (deep breathing) Micah Parsons, Kelvin Joseph, Chauncey Golston, Osa Odighizuwa, Nahshon Wright, Jabril Cox, Israel Mukuamu and Quinton Bohanna. Can they find quality starters among this group? They need at least a couple, or they will be playing a lot of 41-38 type games.
As a rookie, Justin Herbert completed 66.6% of his passes averaging 7.3 yards per attempt, throwing 31 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions along the way. And he did so despite pressure on 37% of his dropouts – the 10th highest rate among 35 skilled passer.
So what did the Chargers do? They came out and signed the best cross in the market at Linsley, who just signed a seven-year partnership with Aaron Rodgers and should be of great help to Herbert putting on protections and making adjustments on the line. They signed Feiler, who can play guard or tackle. They brought in Aboushi from Detroit, and he’s just had his best season. And they drafted Slater, arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft. In two years, they completely remade their offensive line, after bringing in Bryan Bulaga last year.
Herbert performed remarkably well under pressure last season, but performances under pressure are not that stable year over year. Your best bet is to keep the pressure off the quarterback completely. The Chargers’ moves should help them do just that.
Last year, no team went harder to improve their defense during the offseason than the Dolphins. They went into a huge spending madness, used several first draft picks on that side of the ball, everything. This year it was the Browns’ turn. They already had Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward, stars on the perimeter. What they needed was to add depth on the outside, and especially in the middle. Consider this mission accomplished.
Clowney hasn’t necessarily lived up to his billing of No. 1 pick as a passer, but he’s a formidable defender of the run and has proven able to push the pocket to create sack opportunities for them. other. Johnson was the best security out there and is one of the league’s most versatile full backs. Hill and Newsome offer immediate upgrades to # 2 & # 3 corners and add added versatility. And JOK was the most versatile defenseman in the draft – a guy who can really play both safe and linebacker. You can’t just have a few great players to build up a great NFL defense. You need everything, everywhere. The Browns are much closer now.
The Rams have built a roster that’s ready to win right now. Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, a solid offensive line, good guns, Sean McVay … they’re good to go. They were ready to go for the past two years. Jared Goff, however, was not. Stafford isn’t necessarily a top-five quarterback, but he’s a much more talented – and consistent – player than Goff, and there should be a new cap available for that attack that wasn’t there. over the past two seasons. This is especially true due to Stafford’s ability to play outside the structure and outside the pocket. Goff was much more limited in these areas.
You watched the Super Bowl, didn’t you? Remember how Patrick Mahomes ran for his life? These guys are in charge of making sure this doesn’t happen again. It’s hard to imagine the players on the new teams being responsible for anything more important than this.