AFC West Areas of Concern

AFC WEST AREAS OF CONCERN

DENVER BRONCOS

The Denver Broncos have one of the best-run defenses in the NFL they finished second in the league versus the run. On the other hand, the Broncos finished 29th in the NFL against the pass. The main reason the Broncos pass defense is among the worst in the league is due to a lack of a pass rush. Denver only had 28 sacks in 2005 ranking near the bottom of the NFL. As a result, opposing QB’s had extra time to look for open receivers. DE Courtney Brown has yet to establish himself as an adequate edge rusher. Brown only recorded two sacks last season. The Broncos have added DE Kenard Lang who had 2 sacks and rookie DE Elvis Dumervil from Louisville to improve their sack production. Dumervil was unstoppable in the Big East Conference and in time might develop as one of the best in the AFC West.

The wide receiver position went from strength to a weakness when Ashley Lelie decided to hold out of OTA’s and training camp because he is not the number one WR. Instead of competing against off-season acquisition Javon Walker and Robert Smith for the # 1 position Lelie would rather be traded. Even if Lelie didn’t win the 1st or 2nd receiver position he could have been apart of one of the best WR units in the NFL and Lelie would have put up decent numbers because Nickle DB’s cant cover him. Now Denver must hope that WR Darrius Watts or veteran David Terrell finally live up to expectations.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

The Oakland Raiders must improve their run defense. The Raiders finished 25th in the NFL in stopping the run. Oakland lost DT Ted Washington to free agency Ted was their best-run stuffer in 2005. The Raiders will use a d-line rotation with the idea of keeping players fresh and by using certain players against the run and other players in obvious passing situations. DT Warren Sapp is coming off an injury and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants to limit the number of snaps that Warren takes this season and use him primarily as a pass rusher. DT Tommy Kelly could be the most versatile and talented d-lineman on the team having played every position on the line the past two seasons. DE Tyler Brayton is back at his natural position as a DE and is good versus the run. The Raiders are relying heavily on the development of DT Anttaj Hawthorne and Terdell Sands. These two players must contribute if the Raiders want to improve against the run.

Is there a QB on the Raiders roster that can look good with one of the best WR’s units in the NFL? Aaron Brooks has the edge over 2nd year QB Andrew Walter. Brooks has the experience and has the ability to pick up the first down with his legs. Another plus for Brooks is that he has a winning record as a starter. Andrew Walter is clearly the QB of the future he has tremendous arm strength and a very quick release. He should push Brooks in training camp for the starting position. If Brooks gets the nod as the starter he will not be given that many weeks to prove that he can move the Raiders offense.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

It is essential for the Chiefs to improve at the CB position. In the AFC West the Chiefs have to deal with Randy Moss, Javon Walker, Rod Smith, Jerry Porter, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. Patrick Surtain is Kansas City’s best cover corner. The majority of opposing offenses will go after CB Julian Battle and CB Benny Sapp. The Chiefs finished 30th against the pass last season. There have been rumors of K.C. going after FA CB Ty Law if this is indeed a possibility the Chiefs need to get this deal done fast.

Defense is a Chief concern for Kansas City. The DT spot must show improvement if the defense wants to get better. DT Ryan Simms has not lived up to expectations. DT Lional Dalton is more of a situational player than a full time DT. The Chiefs will be keeping their eyes on training camp cuts and possible trade opportunities in hopes of adding more talent to the defensive line.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

The San Diego Chargers made a big decision involving their QB situation. They decided to let Drew Brees go in favor of Philip Rivers. The problem with the Chargers decision is that they took to many years to go with Rivers. San Diego has a playoff caliber team with what could be considered a rookie experience wise at QB. Teams will stack the line and dare Rivers to beat them. Rivers has the talent to beat people but he might take a year or two to bring his talent to the forefront. If San Diego would have let Rivers develop two years ago they would have been better off as an organization and prepared to challenge for a Super Bowl in the next few years. Now they must wait on Rivers to go through his growing pains.

Playing in the AFC West the Chargers have to be concerned with the passing attacks of Denver and Oakland. Fifth year CB Quentin Jammer has not lived up to his draft status. Drayton Florence has tremendous speed but the Chargers are still waiting for him to develop. Jammer and Florence each had one interception. In four seasons Jammer only has six interceptions. San Diego is counting on rookie CB Antonio Cromartie to improve their secondary this season. Cromartie was injured a lot at Florida State and when he was healthy he was the Seminoles third defensive back. The Chargers were blown away by Cromartie’s combine workouts and hope that translates to on the field production.

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