Question Of The Week

VT Question of the Week: Which NFL Team is “Losing” the Offseason?

A couple of weeks ago we debated which team was kicking butt in the offseason and most effectively building its team. Now it’s time to look at the flip side of the coin … 

VT Question of the Week: Which NFL Team is “Losing” the Offseason?

Adam: San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco is the obvious choice here, and the right choice. That team’s offseason has been mind-boggling on a lot of levels, but perhaps no loss will prove greater than that of their head coach. A regime change and unexpected retirements of prominent players create a real problem for the NFL Spin Machine that can usually renew hope for all 32 teams on an annual basis. Given the current state of the team, and the stiff competition within their division, I don’t see much reason for optimism. Oh, and we know they’re going to start out the season with a loss, right?

Arif: San Francisco 49ers
Has to be the 49ers. Sure, they had an average draft, but they didn’t just force out a great (if crazy) coach, they had their best players retire or leave in free agency with some spotty plans for backing them up—Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Justin Smith, Anthony Davis, Frank Gore and even Chris Culliver (who is being replaced by Shareece Wright). Trading their Pro Bowl punter wasn’t a great move either, given how much they’ve relied on field position in the past, and I’m not sure players like receiver Jerome Simpson or cornerback Chris Cook can make up for the rest of their offseason. Their best acquisition, Torrey Smith, was a good grab, but even their second- and third-best free agency players (Darnell Dockett and Reggie Bush) will represent a downgrade at their positions.

Brent: New England Patriots
I will probably eat my words later, but after losing their top four corner backs and long-time defensive line cog Vince Wilfork, the defense will look a bit different in 2015. Yet, we say this seemingly every year and somehow Bill Belichick finds a way to salvage a defense of relative unknowns. On top of the losses on the defensive side of the ball, the entire ‘Deflate-gate’ scandal hasn’t helped the Patriots enjoy their Super Bowl tour. Although I am not entire in love the Patriots draft, it’s hard to argue against their track record for finding top contributors in less than favorable drafting positions.

Other contenders: The Eagles and Chicago Bears

Andy: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers, and it’s not even close. First off, an ego match cost them a premiere NFL head coach in Jim Harbaugh. Say what you will about his methods, but a Super Bowl appearance and two additional NFC Title games in four years is nothing to sneeze at. Then you replace him with Jim Tomsula, a guy who seems to be respected and could be good, but looks like he should be running a muffler shop in Urbana, IL instead of running an NFL team. He’s got 1-15 one-and-done Cam Cameron written all over him.

We haven’t even gotten to the players, with everyone and their mother retiring in veteran stalwarts Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, along with young up-and-comers Chris Borland and Anthony Davis. Plus then you lose Mike Iupati, Chris Culliver, Dan Skuta, and Frank Gore in free agency while replacing them with a bunch of draft picks named Joe and free agents like one trick pony Torrey Smith, never realized potential and now old Reggie Bush, old-old Darnell Dockett, and first down Jerome Simpson. Wow. You easily have the most disastrous offseason in NFL history. If Kaepernick takes another step backwards in his progression as an NFL quarterback, this team could be biblically bad. I’m talking about locusts and plagues and 2008 Lions bad. Either way, I’m looking forward to that first Monday Night game when the Vikings put a W on the board to get 2015 off to a good start. I just hope Taylor Heinicke is comfortable getting run in the 4th quarter…

Lindsey: New England Patriots
It’s hard to argue against the 49ers having the worst offseason, but because I like to play Devil’s Advocate and make the risky choice sometimes, I’m going to go with the Patriots on this one. They lost so much in one area! Losing their top four cornerbacks in addition to Vince Wilfork is certainly going to be difficult to recover from. Sure, Wilfork is getting up there, but saying goodbye to a seasoned nose tackle like him hurts their already-wounded defense. Offensively, losing RBs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley isn’t exactly a drop in the bucket, either. The cherry on top of course is Tom Brady’s season-opening suspension, and the Patriots will be counting on backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo to step up for short-term starting duties.

New England should have done more in free agency to help bolster its roster, and it will be interesting to see if Belichick finds a smooth way out of this one.

Austin: San Francisco 49ers
Living in the Bay Area, it’s almost impossible to avoid the 49ers chatter from local newspapers, talk shows, and crazy fans. Ask them how their team’s going to do this year, and they’ll tell you that things will be “okay” with Kaepernick under center. But I look at this team, and I worry that the immediate future is going to be an ugly one. A new head coach, an exodus of some of the franchise’s stalwart players, and a potentially underwhelming draft class spell disaster for San Francisco. With other teams in the division — watch out for those Rams — getting better, the 49ers may be in for their first losing season in a long time.

Who else thinks the Vikings have a legitimate shot to open the season with a blowout victory? Count me in.

Brett: Carolina Panthers
The obvious answer for the worst offseason is the 49ers. But when you dive a little deeper, the Carolina Panthers are another team who really didn’t do much to improve. A team desperate for help along the offensive line chose not to address that issue until the fourth round, where they selected offensive tackle Daryl Williams.

The Panthers’ first-round selection of Shaq Thompson is a sexy pick but one their team could not afford to make with as many holes as they have. After Thompson, Carolina then took Devin Funchess, which was even more puzzling as he is essentially Kelvin Benjamin 2.0. When you only have five picks to work with (the Panthers had the fewest picks in the draft), you have to hit on every one of them; I’m left wondering if they hit on more than one.

The Panthers didn’t do much in the way of significant free agency signings to improve, either. Losing Deangelo Williams, Carolina has no clear answer at running back (although they did use their last pick on Cameron Artis-Payne). Furthermore, they have zero speed on offense. Combine bad offensive line play, a poor running game and no wide receiver speed and you get an offense that is probably going to be just as bad as it was last season.

The Panthers defense has proven that it can bail out its lackluster offense time and time again. But it has to be disheartening as a Panthers fan to see obvious issues on that side of the ball continue to be ignored.

Guest of the Week

Eric Thompson, The Daily Norseman: San Francisco 49ers
There are a few ways one could answer this. The Patriots had their starting QB taken away for four games, but even if the suspension isn’t reduced it’s impossible to feel bad for the defending champs. The Eagles certainly have the potential for the worst offseason, but we’ll have to wait and see if Chip Kelly’s real-life fantasy football strategy makes him crazy like a fox or just plain crazy. The Browns are always a candidate for a question like this because…well, they’re the Browns.

For me, one team stands out above the rest when it comes to offseason ineptitude in 2015. Luckily for the Vikings, that team happens to be their Week 1 opponent–the San Francisco 49ers.

Not only did they drive out one of the best coaches in the league, many of their best players have seemed to adopt the slogan “30 is the new 65”. With all the retirements, players landing in the news for all the wrong reasons, and more question marks surrounding the team than The Riddler, it’s tough to argue that any other team has lost more before the first play of the 2015 season.

And don’t forget, they still play in the stacked NFC West and have a JUGGERNAUT Week 1 opponent on Monday Night Football. It’s really hard to see the Niners doing anything but regressing this season.

 

 

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Lindsey Young

Lindsey Young (Featured Columnist) is a graduate of University of Northwestern – St. Paul and is an avid Minnesota sports fan[atic]. It’s been argued females don’t know much about sports, but she begs to differ. Her work has been featured on Bleacher Report, KSTP.com, and Fox Sports North. In addition to her work with VT, Lindsey is a contributing writer for Canis Hoopus, runs a bi-monthly fan feature for Timberwolves.com and is a freelance writer for Vikings.com. You can read her blog at Making the Call and follow her on Twitter.

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