With the NFL regular season being in the books, every team on vacation is brainstorming ways to be in the hunt next year. Most of the franchises are siding with continuity as Black Monday did not see many coaching changes. Tweaks to the roster or scheme may prove to be what the doctor ordered. But what teams will have the biggest turnarounds next season? Below are the top five NFL turnarounds, in no particular order.
Top Five NFL Turnarounds to Watch for in 2020
This is a no-brainer. With the hiring of Ron Rivera as the head coach, the Redskins gained immediate credibility around the league. Couple that with the firing of Bruce Allen and the feeling among fans is the cancer is mostly removed from the building (unfortunately, you can’t fire the owner).
Rivera has already made news with the hiring of Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator. Rivera believes the right culture is imperative to a successful team as described in a recent interview with Mike Silver. He has already removed the ping pong table and shuffleboard table from the locker room hours after his introductory press conference. This team is going to be tough and potentially adding a talent like Chase Young will certainly help.
The Bengals caught a lot of bad breaks this past season due to injuries. Their top pick, Jonah Williams, was out for the season before July. Andy Dalton‘s top target, A.J. Green, didn’t play a down this season. The only standout was Joe Mixon, who didn’t get going until the second half of the year.
While Dalton and Green are rumored to be out in Cincinnati, the Bengals can easily replace them this offseason. Joe Burrow will be ordained in Cincinnati in April and this year’s draft is deep at the wide receiver position. As long as the offensive line can get healthy, Zac Taylor has a great chance at reversing the Bengals’ fortunes.
The Lions are the disappointment of the 2019 season. They only managed to win three games with the talent on that roster. While just about every game was competitive, they couldn’t find a way to get over the hump. That will change in the new year.
Even though the NFL is a passing league, the top teams have above-average rushing attacks. Something that the Lions are lacking right now. Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia will need to find a consistent run game this offseason. There are a few free-agent running backs the Lions should take a shot at such as Kareem Hunt, Derrick Henry, and Melvin Gordon to help Matthew Stafford.
Players seem to really like Dan Quinn and want him to stick around. The Falcons began their turnaround once Raheem Morris was moved to defensive coordinator midseason. This improvement prompted owner Arthur Blank to retain Quinn when many believed he was as good as gone.
While this may be a turnaround for next season, Blank needs to understand that Morris will be in high demand if the Falcons maintain their success. Morris was young in his first stint as a head coach, but this experience will get him head coaching looks for 2021.
Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray found success in spurts during the season. Adding Kenyan Drake was a major part of the Cardinals’ improvement. Drake effectively took over as their RB1 due to injuries and recorded five touchdowns with a 4.8 yards per carry average. Needless to say, Steve Keim wants Drake to return.
Of course, the Cardinals need to improve their defense. They were ranked at or near the bottom in the primary defensive categories. They need to bring the Brinks truck in for a pass rusher and an upgrade or two in the secondary during free agency. Reuniting CeeDee Lamb with Murray as Matt Miller’s mock suggests would also be a big step.
New Beginnings Coming
These teams can easily go from the cellar to Cinderella next season. Especially the Redskins in a division that no team seemed to want to win. The hurdles are there, but not unconquerable. Expect these five NFL turnarounds to dominate the news cycles in the coming months.
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