Five ’08 NFL playoff teams with issues heading into ’09

Vinnie Iyer of SportingNews.com did an interesting piece on five NFL playoff teams who have big issues heading into the 2009 season.

Ray Lewis1) Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco has had a great start to his career, but to take the next step as a quarterback, he probably could use a young receiver with No. 1 potential. The more pressing issues, however, are with Baltimore’s backbone, its defense. First, it’ll be a challenge to find a coordinator and play-caller to match Rex Ryan, who left to become head coach of the New York Jets…

2) Philadelphia Eagles. To some extent, the Donovan McNabb question was answered, at least for the ’09 season. His support system may be different, however. Aging offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan will be free agents. Top guard Shawn Andrews will need to come back from back surgery, and also may need to move outside. Backup running back Correll Buckhalter also wants to explore options out of Philadelphia. Defensively, stalwart safety Brian Dawkins could also walk…

3) Carolina Panthers. Will Carolina need to address the quarterback position after Jake Delhomme’s six-turnover fiasco against Arizona in the divisional playoffs? It seems unfair to judge Delhomme on his first truly bad playoff game, when his play and leadership has been huge for the Panthers in the big picture. But still, with his age (34) and the fact he’s just one year removed from major elbow surgery, it might be time to draft a project passer to groom. In addition, Delhomme’s Pro Bowl left tackle, Jordan Gross, can become an unrestricted free agent….

4) Indianapolis Colts. Tony Dungy and general manager Bill Polian were hoping for a smooth coaching transition with Jim Caldwell taking over, but it hasn’t been necessarily easy in the early going. Offensive coordinator Tom Moore, 70, and offensive line coach Howard Mudd, 66, nearly opted to follow Dungy into retirement. Defensive coordinator Ron Meeks flat-out resigned on Tuesday, and Caldwell fired special teams coach Russ Pernell. Caldwell isn’t a Dungy clone — there will be a different feel around the team….

5) New York Giants. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo left to be head coach of the Rams, and there’s a chance offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride gets the same gig with the Raiders. The unit that Gilbride may leave behind has plenty of issues…

Iyer goes into more detail on every team, so check out the entire piece.

I agree on all of Iyer’s takes, although these problems are nothing new for any playoff team. Good teams have their coordinators stripped from them to become head coaches in other cities. Star players in contract years bolt for bigger paydays elsewhere, while other standouts get another year older or slower.

All five of the above teams have the potential to face major change and that’s what makes them a risk not to make a repeat playoff appearance next year. The most interesting team is the Ravens because they have so many questions to answer about their defense, which has been their identity the past eight or nine years.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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