David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock (Flacco), Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images (Mathieu), Carolyn Kaster/AP/Shutterstock (Chargers), D Ross Cameron/AP/Shutterstock (Gruden)

Quickly

  • It’s been a busy offseason for Gruden and the Raiders—are they locked in for the head coach’s second season? Also, Vic Fangio tasked with making his diverse roster work, Chiefs searching for that defensive groove and Chargers standing firm after not many offseason moves.
By Conor Orr
June 06, 2019

The MMQB is evaluating each team’s offseason, division by division. Find all the progress reports here.

DENVER BRONCOS

2018 record: 6-10

New players: Joe Flacco, Ja’Wuan James, Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan, Jeff Heuerman, Zach Kerr

Players lost: Matt Paradis, Max Garcia, Tramaine Brock, Billy Turner, Bradley Robey, Jared Veldheer, Shaquil Barrett

In what areas did the team improve? The quarterback position was obvious, and the Broncos sort of broke the ice on an interesting market by dealing for Joe Flacco. The deal itself is fine, and it buys them time to bring Drew Lock on without the pressure of starting right away. Still, Flacco is a statistical doppelganger to Case Keenum, leading some to believe that there wasn’t a marked improvement made there.

What areas still need help / what does the team still need to do? There was still some work to be done on the offensive line, especially if you’re going to have a starting QB who’s lower on the mobility scale. A powerful running game can negate some of those issues, but a lot of pressure will be placed on a new coaching staff to elevate an offensive line that lost some firepower this offseason.

Biggest question heading into the regular season? I give John Elway credit for staying away from the massive panic-hiring cycle that scooped up anyone with knowledge of Sean McVay. Vic Fangio is one of the oldest head coaches in the NFL, but like Mike Zimmer, he was passed over season after season despite a phenomenal track record as a coordinator. There’s little doubt he’s going to unleash Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, but will his experience in the league help him to galvanize a team that, age wise and experience wise, is all over the map?

Best tweet of the offseason


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

2018 record: 12-4

New players: Tyrann Mathieu, Frank Clark, Carlos Hyde, Bashaud Breeland, Alex Okafor

Players lost: Dee Ford, Chris Conley, Justin Houston, Spencer Ware, Demetrius Harris, Mitch Morse

In what areas did the team improve? This is a difficult question, since a lot of the adjustments Kansas City made were on the defensive side of the ball in an attempt to accommodate the change they made at defensive coordinator. On paper, it’s tough to look at losing Dee Ford and Justin Houston and replacing them with Frank Clark as a net win, even if Clark is younger and has a much higher upside. Yes, Clark will theoretically have Chris Jones by his side, but it’s unfair to ask him to assume an unnecessarily high part of the workload. The real upgrade was at safety. Despite Eric Berry being a generational talent pre-injury, Tyrann Mathieu should function well in Steve Spagnuolo’s fast-break defense.

What areas still need help / what does the team still need to do? I’d like a little more certainty at the cornerback position. Minus that, Spagnuolo has his work cut out for him if he intends on blitzing as much as he’s used to. The Chiefs’ perpetual struggle to find a defensive groove solid enough to merely slow teams down may continue.

Biggest question heading into the regular season? Outside of the Tyreek Hill situation, I wonder whether defensive coaches have gotten enough feel for Andy Reid and the Chiefs to slow this offense down. There’s an analytical component to this, sure, but without Hill and Kareem Hunt in the lineup, they do take a step back skill position-wise and may win fewer matchups this year.

Best tweet of the offseason


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

2018 record: 12-4

New players: Thomas Davis, Tyrod Taylor

Players lost: Tyrell Williams, Jason Verrett, Darius Philon

In what areas did the team improve? ... Not many? I think regardless of health, Thomas Davis is a great addition to the locker room. So much of what Anthony Lynn has done is about the culture in L.A.—especially in difficult circumstances. Davis has great range and can command the middle of that defense.

What areas still need help / what does the team still need to do? I still think they could feel better on the offensive line, linebacker and secondary. This will be on Gus Bradley, who lost some talent this offseason but may—on paper—have one of the best young defensive lines in football this season. The addition of Jerry Tillery in the draft was a smart one, but overall, this was an odd season to sit out free agency with a quarterback Philip Rivers’s age.

Biggest question heading into the regular season? Is Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin enough? Williams was brilliant a few times last season, especially when used unconventionally. Can he consistently dominate No. 2 cornerbacks? There’s a good chance he breaks out in 2019 after major progress in his sophomore season. If so, this could be as balanced of an offense as we saw in 2018.

Best tweet of the offseason


OAKLAND RAIDERS

2018 record: 4-12

New players: Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, Vontaze Burfict, Richie Incognito, LaMarcus Joyner, Mike Glennon, Tyrell Williams, Brandon Marshall

Players lost: Jared Cook, A.J. McCarron, Lee Smith, Jon Feliciano

In what areas did the team improve? Well, wide receiver for sure. This was a wild offseason, in which Jon Gruden—true to form—couldn’t contain himself in free agency when there were Grinders out there to be had. Imagine giving this man a 10-year contract under the guise of a complete, clinical rebuild, and then he trades for Antonio Brown, signs Vontaze Burfict and plucks Richie Incognito out of retirement. But I digress. On paper, this is now one of the best tandems in the league and Oakland did load up in the draft. Offensively, it’s a completely new unit.

What areas still need help / what does the team still need to do? I think they’d still like some more playmakers up front next to Clelin Ferrell, but Khalil Mack isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. That being said, I’m coming around to the idea of a Ferrell/Hurst/Hankins front, which could be solid against the run.

Biggest question heading into the regular season? Maybe there’s a chance Gruden cuts Incognito and Burfict loose before the start of the regular season. Maybe he’s going to depend on them more heavily than we think. Either way, my biggest question is how Gruden himself has evolved in the offseason. A laundry list of former players have had their issues with the Super Bowl-winning head coach, who, at times, struggled to corral locker rooms with powerful personalities. In a decade away from the sidelines, did he have some time to realign his perspective?

Best tweet of the offseason

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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