NFC PREVIEWS



NORTHCHICAGO BEARS
2003: 7-9, third.
Coach: Lovie Smith (1st year).
Players added: DE Adewale Ogunleye; RB Thomas Jones; QB Jonathan Quinn; FB Bryan Johnson; G Ruben Brown; OT John Tait; G Michael Keathley; LB Jack Golden.
Players lost: QB Kordell Stewart; WR Marty Booker; DE Phillip Daniels; LB Warrick Holdman; G Chris Villarrial; QB Chris Chandler; WR Dez White; DT Keith Traylor.
Key issue: Do the Bears have enough to stop anyone on defense? Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher remains a force, but outside of him, the linebackers are weak. The secondary appears decent with cornerback Charles Tillman and safety Mike Brown leading the way. The defensive line leaves much to be desired.
DETROIT LIONS
2003: 5-11, fourth.
Coach: Steve Mariucci (2nd year, 5-11; Career: 62-50.
Players added: OL Damien Woody; CB Fernando Bryant; WR Tai Streets; FS Brock Marion; CB Dainon Sidney; QB Rick Mirer; DT Marcus Bell; G David Loverne; TE Stephen Alexander.
Players lost: RB James Stewart; DT Luther Elliss; WR Bill Schroeder; S Corey Harris; LB Barrett Green; LB Jeff Gooch; OL Eric Beverly; CB Otis Smith; CB Chris Watson; TE Mikhael Ricks.
Key issue: Will Joey Harrington finally shine? The Lions have done everything possible to aid the young quarterback. The team took receivers Charles Rogers and Roy Williams with top-10 picks the past two seasons. Detroit also nabbed RB Kevin Jones in the first round this year. Now the onus is on Harrington.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
2003: 10-6, first. Defeated Seattle in wild-card, lost to Philadelphia in divisional round.
Coach: Mike Sherman (5th year, 43-21).
Players added: QB Tim Couch; LB Tyreo Harrison; CB Chris Watson; FS Mark Roman; TE Steve Bush.
Players lost: DT Gilbert Brown; P Josh Bidwell; DT Rod Walker; S Antuan Edwards; CB Bryant Westbrook; DE Joe Johnson; DE Jamal Reynolds; WR Travis Williams.
Key issue: Will the secondary be good enough? Mark Roman will team with Darren Sharper for an outstanding safety combination. The corners, however, are untested. Mike McKenzie held out and demanded a trade. If he returns with the right mind-set, the Packers should be fine. Otherwise, McKenzie's starting spot could go to veteran Michael Hawthorne or draftees Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS
2003: 9-7, second.
Coach: Mike Tice (4th year, 15-18).
Players added: CB Antoine Winfield; WR Marcus Robinson; TE Jermaine Wiggins; DT Steve Martin; DB Tyrone Carter; P Darren Bennett; LB Keith Newman.
Players lost: DT Fred Robbins; WR D'Wayne Bates; TE Hunter Goodwin; CB Eric Kelly; CB Denard Walker; LB Henri Crockett; P Eddie Johnson.
Key issue: Can the defense improve? The first step was hiring Ted Cottrell as coordinator. Cornerback Antoine Winfield will make an impact in the secondary, but there is little depth. The linebackers, headed by E.J. Henderson, are talented.
EASTDALLAS COWBOYS
2003: 10-6, second. Lost to Carolina in wild-card.
Coach: Bill Parcells (2nd year, 10-6; Career: 146-108-1.
Key players added: QB Drew Henson; WR Keyshawn Johnson; DE Marcellus Wiley; QB Vinny Testaverde; WR Dedric Ward; RB Eddie George.
Key players lost: QB Quincy Carter; WR Joey Galloway; OL Ryan Young; P Toby Gowin; DE Ebenezer Ekuban; CB Mario Edwards; RB Troy Hambrick; TE James Whalen.
Key issue: Can Vinny Testaverde make it through the season? Dallas shocked the NFL with the release of Quincy Carter in the first few days of training camp. The move leaves the 40-year-old Testaverde as the new starter.
NEW YORK GIANTS
2003: 4-12, fourth.
Coach: Tom Coughlin (1st year).
Key players added: QB Kurt Warner; CB Terry Cousin; LB Carlos Emmons; WR James McKnight; DE Lorenzo Bromell; DT Norman Hand; K Bill Gramatica; LB Barrett Green; DT Martin Chase.
Key players lost: LB Micheal Barrow; QB Kerry Collins; RB Brian Mitchell; RB Dorsey Levens; DT Cornelius Griffin; LB Dhani Jones; LB Brandon Short; CB Ike Charlton; K Mike Hollis; QB Jason Garrett; OL Jeff Roehl; CB Ralph Brown.
Key issue: Will the new linebackers be any better? Carlos Emmons, Nick Greisen and Barrett Green aren't household names.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
2003: 12-4, first. Defeated Green Bay in divisional round, lost to Carolina in NFC Championship.
Coach: Andy Reid (6th year, 51-29).
Players added: DE Jevon Kearse; WR Terrell Owens; LB Dhani Jones; QB Jeff Blake; LB Jeremiah Trotter.
Players lost: RB Duce Staley; CB Troy Vincent; CB Bobby Taylor; LB Carlos Emmons; G John Welbourn; DE Marco Coleman; QB A.J. Feeley; G Bobbie Williams; LB Tyreo Harrison; WR James Thrash; DL Brandon Whiting.
Key issue: How will the cornerbacks hold up? Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown are the starters. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the decision could prove haunting.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS
2003: 5-11, third.
Coach: Joe Gibbs (1st year; Career: 124-60.
Players added: QB Mark Brunell; RB Clinton Portis; DE Phillip Daniels; CB Shawn Springs; C Cory Raymer; CB Walt Harris; DT Cornelius Griffin; WR James Thrash; LB Marcus Washington; LB Micheal Barrow; P Tom Tupa; TE Brian Kozlowski; TE Walter Rasby.
Players Lost: CB Champ Bailey; LB Jessie Armstead; DT Darrell Russell; TE Byron Chamberlain; S David Terrell; LB Jeremiah Trotter; FB Bryan Johnson; DE Bruce Smith; DT Lional Dalton; DT Martin Chase; WR Patrick Johnson; OL Larry Moore; DL Bernard Holsey; P Bryan Barker; RB Trung Canidate; G Dave Fiore.
Key issue: Are there too many new faces? The team made sweeping changes in Gibbs' return, none more important than the trades that delivered quarterback Mark Brunnell and running back Clinton Portis. Still, with too many new players, it might take a while for the team to gel.
SOUTHATLANTA FALCONS
2003: 5-11, fourth.
Coach: Jim Mora Jr. (1st year).
Players added: LB Jamie Duncan; CB Jason Webster; CB Aaron Beasley; QB Ty Detmer; TE Spencer Nead; G Steve Herndon; RB James Fenderson; DT Rod Coleman; WR Dez White; LB Eric Johnson; OL Eric Beverly.
Players lost: CB Ray Buchanan; CB Tyrone Williams; LB Sam Rogers; CB Juran Bolden; TE Brian Kozlowski; G Travis Claridge; QB Kurt Kittner; LB Keith Newman.
Key issue: How will Michael Vick adjust to a West Coast system? Vick is adept at moving in the pocket and creating opportunities. The new offense will make him more disciplined. He likely will not run as much as in the past and will routinely get the ball away on three- and five-step drops.
CAROLINA PANTHERS
2003: 11-5, first. Defeated Dallas in wild card, St. Louis in divisional round, Philadelphia in NFC Championship, lost to New England in Super Bowl.
Coach: John Fox (3rd year, 18-14).
Players added: LB Jessie Armstead; LB Brandon Short; DB Terrance Shaw; DT Rod Walker; G Travis Claridge; CB Artrell Hawkins; OL Adam Meadows.
Players lost: G Jeno James; CB Reggie Howard; S Deon Grant; OT Todd Steussie; TE Jermaine Wiggins; WR Kevin Dyson; LB Greg Favors; CB Terry Cousin; OL Kevin Donnalley (retired).
Key issue: How will the revamped offensive line perform? Only two starters remain from last season -- center Jeff Mitchell and tackle Jordan Gross. The line was a strength for the Panthers last year and helped Stephen Davis have a standout season. It must be solid again.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
2003: 8-8, second.
Coach: Jim Haslett (5th year, 34-30).
Players added: FB Sam Gash; CB Jason Craft; RB Aaron Stecker; OL Jamar Nesbit; DT Brian Young.
Players lost: TE Walter Rasby; FB Terrelle Smith; CB Dale Carter; RB James Fenderson.
Key issue: Will quarterback Aaron Brooks ever become consistent? Two years after the Saints were expected to win with him, Brooks has regressed, and he can no longer be counted on. With the talent surrounding him -- RB Deuce McAllister and WR Joe Horn -- Brooks should have a solid season, if he doesn't hit rock bottom.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
2003: 7-9, third.
Coach: Jon Gruden (3rd year, 19-13; Career: 57-39.
Players added: OL Matt Stinchcomb; RB Charlie Garner; OL Derrick Deese; OL Todd Steussie; WR Joey Galloway; WR Tim Brown; WR Bill Schroeder; FB Greg Comella; QB Brian Griese; TE Dave Moore; CB Mario Edwards; LB Keith Burns; OL Matt O'Dwyer; LB Ian Gold; DE Lamar King; LB Jeff Gooch; P Josh Bidwell; QB Jason Garrett; RB Jamel White; RB Brandon Bennett.
Players lost: DT Warren Sapp; S John Lynch; LB Nate Webster; RB Thomas Jones; QB Shaun King; LB Dwayne Rudd; WR Keyshawn Johnson; OT Roman Oben; P Tom Tupa; WR Karl Williams; OT Cornell Green; TE Todd Yoder; RB Aaron Stecker; LB Jack Golden; TE Roland Williams; S David Gibson; DT Darrell Russell; CB Tim Wansley.
Key issue: Can the defense still dominate? The faces changed, but the philosophy did not. The Bucs should be strong with linemen Anthony McFarland and Simeon Rice, LB Derrick Brooks and CB Ronde Barber.
WESTARIZONA CARDINALS
2003: 4-12, fourth.
Coach: Dennis Green (1st year; Career: 97-62).
Players added: CB David Macklin; WR Karl Williams; QB Shaun King; FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo; DE Bertrand Berry; LB Riall Johnson.
Players lost: QB Jeff Blake; CB David Barrett; DT Marcus Bell; C Pete Kendall; DT Barron Tanner; TE Steve Bush; DB Justin Lucas.
Key issue: Is Josh McCown the quarterback of the future? Green certainly better hope so. In selecting Fitzgerald, the Cardinals passed on Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, both of whom went in the next eight picks. McCown had some memorable plays, but is he consistent?
ST. LOUIS RAMS
2003: 12-4, first. Lost to Carolina in divisional round.
Coach: Mike Martz (5th year, 43-21).
Players added: QB Chris Chandler; S Tom Knight; DE Sean Moran; OT Greg Randall; S Justin Lucas; DL Bernard Holsey.
Players lost: QB Kurt Warner; DE Grant Wistrom; FS Kim Herring; DT Brian Young; OT John St. Clair; G David Loverne; LB Jamie Duncan; TE Spencer Nead; S Shane Walton; CB Jason Seahorn (retired).
Key issue: How will the offensive line respond? Left tackle Orlando Pace has been upset with his contract for years. Right tackle Kyle Turley sustained a back injury that could force his retirement. Some shuffling will be required, and St. Louis might be forced into quicker drops.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
2003: 7-9, third.
Coach: Dennis Erickson (2nd year, 7-9; Career: 38-42)
Players added: OL Scott Rehberg; DL Brandon Whiting.
Players lost: WR Terrell Owens; RB Garrison Hearst; OT Derrick Deese; QB Jeff Garcia; CB Jason Webster; WR Tai Streets; G Ron Stone; DL Sean Moran; TE Jed Weaver; DT Travis Kirschke; S Zach Bronson; P Bill LaFleur.
Key issue: Where will the offense come from? Plenty of offensive playmakers are gone, including quarterback Jeff Garcia, running back Garrison Hearst and receivers Terrell Owens and Tai Streets. Tim Rattay, who was injured for much of the offseason, takes over at quarterback. Rattay has shown flashes of potential in previous opportunities, but it remains to be seen if he can handle the job on a full-time basis. Kevan Barlow is a capable replacement for Hearst. Rashaun Woods and Brandon Lloyd likely will start at receiver.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
2003: 10-6, second. Lost to Green Bay in wild-card game.
Coach: Mike Holmgren (6th year, 41-39; Career: 116-76)
Players added: CB Bobby Taylor; DE Grant Wistrom; QB Brock Huard; OT Jeff Roehl.
Players lost: CB Shawn Springs; CB Willie Williams; DT Chad Eaton; DT John Randle (retired); SS Reggie Tongue; DT Norman Hand; DE Lamar King.
Key issue: Will the linebackers be a strength or weakness? Seattle's linebackers leave a lot to be desired. Chad Brown is out eight weeks with an injury. The other outside linebacker, Anthony Simmons, still has not proven that he's first-round caliber.
Miami Herald

More like this from vindy.com

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.

AP News