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2011 Record: 7-9
Key Acquisitions: Kevin Boss, Peyton Hillis, Ropati Pitoitua, Dontari Poe, Stanford Routt, Eric Winston
Key Departures: Jackie Battle, Brandon Carr, Kelly Gregg, Le'Ron McClain, Jon McGraw, Kyle Orton, Leonard Pope, Barry Richardson, Casey Wiegmann
I am liking this team this year. Cassel is very average, and Jamaal Charles is one of the best running backs in the league when he is completely healthy. The issue is whether or not he has fully recovered from his injuries. We'll see, but if he is fine, this offense looks to be very good, and even have a few really high scoring outings. They ranked 27th in the league in offense last year, but health is the key for Charles and for Cassel. The defense is improving, and looks to break into the top ten in the league this year.
Cassel is a nice quarterback. He's much like Ryan Fitzpatrick in that he's alright and lead a team to the Super Bowl if the supporting cast is very good around him. He's not going to make anyone better, however.
Jamaal Charles is a dynamic runner, whose speed and quickness makes him very hard to tackle. I love watching him blow by guys. You all know about how good he is, but his backup is what makes this rushing attack dangerous. Peyton Hillis isn't elite by any stretch of the imagination (which is why he shouldn't have been on the cover of Madden 12, but I digress), however he is okay. He's a very good power runner, and with Charles being all about speed, Hillis's ability to run through people makes this such a great fit.
I've always been very high on Dwayne Bowe. He is a great deep threat and has very good chemistry with Matt Cassel. He is a big athletic guy who really knows how to reel the ball in. I've also been a Steve Breaston supporter for a long time. He's a good pass catcher, especially out of the slot. Jon Baldwin didn't have the greatest year, but that's partially because Tyler Palko was his quarterback for an unfortunate amount of time.
Tony Moeaki looked good in 2010, but was hurt last year. The addition of Kevin Boss should take some of the pressure off of Moeaki. Boss will allow him to protect his health. Both are good weapons to have at the position. Boss was always very good with the Giants but had a down year with Oakland last year. But then again, who actually wants to play in Oakland. I can't blame him.
I can't really complain about this offensive line. Ryan Lilja has always been a stud, and the rest of the line is full of legitimate starters. Eric Winston is a very nice pickup from the Texans. Nothing terrible over here.
Glenn Dorsey hasn't had the impact that was expected of him when he was drafted, but he's been fine. He's not a bust at all, but he's fine to have on a team. He isn't great at sacking the quarterback. Tyson Jackson didn't get many sacks either last year, so the ends might be a deficiency for this squad. Ropati Pitoitua would probably get most of his snaps at tackle even though he can play on the outside too. Dontari Poe was really impressive at the Combine, and his athleticism might be a strong asset at the nose tackle position. He's probably going to get himself a good amount of sacks. Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson were both All-Pro (Hali on the Second Team) linebackers last year. Justin Houston had a nice year last year playing opposite of Hali. There shouldn't be any trouble for this group of linebackers.
Stanford Routt is a good cornerback who had an okay year in the (Talent) Black Hole in Oakland. Expect a jump in performance this year. Opposite of him is another above average corner in Brandon Flowers. Javier Arenas should see some valuable time in nickle and dime packages this year, just as he did last season. Eric Berry was sorely missed last year. His value is so great for this team because he forces QBs to rethink throwing near his zone. He also knows how to put a good hit on somebody.
Former Mr. Irrelevant Ryan Succop has actually made a productive career for himself. He started very poorly last year in terms of field goal kicking, but turned it around pretty nicely. They hope he isn't going to be as inconsistent this year. Dustin Colquitt is a reliable punter. He's not Shane Lechler or anything but he's very good. Dexter McCluster is going to be the return man. He's fast. Not much other than that.
10-6, T-1st in AFC West