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- Major Questions in the NFC: Romo's Recovery?

Chris Pokorny July 18, 2007
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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Last season, the NFC sent the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl despite some horrific games from quarterback Rex Grossman. The Bears defense is confident that they can get back to the prestigious game again this season, but they've had their own share of challenges already in the offseason. The New Orleans Saints emerged as an exciting team last season, while people like Jeff Garcia, Tom Coughlin, and Tony Romo made the NFC East a roller coaster ride each and every week. After all of the moves that have taken place in the offseason, let's take a look at five major questions heading into training camp for the NFC:

1. Can Tony Romo Prove Himself?

One muffed holding of the football for Tony Romo caused him nightmares for months, despite the fact that he wasn't even under center at the time. That's behind him now, but Romo's stock seems to have quieted down despite the fact that he started off red-hot last season after filling in for veteran Drew Bledsoe. The team in general will pretty much be staying in tact, with the exception of the departure of Bill Parcells. That means it will be up to Romo to be the first quarterback in history not to have a feud with Terrell Owens when the times get tough. With the Philadelphia Eagles hoping for an injury-free season from Donovan McNabb, the New York Giants sticking with Tom Coughlin and losing Tiki Barber, and the Washington Redskins still trying to build their team, Romo has the tools necessary to capture a division title.

2. Will Defense be the Answer for Brett Favre?

For the past couple of years now, Brett Favre has been calling for some veteran offensive weapons. Instead, over the past two seasons, the offense has removed two of its top three playmakers in Javon Walker and Ahman Green, only to replace them with young players in Greg Jennings and Brandon Jackson. Granted, I'm not saying anything negative about either of those players, but I'm sure that Favre expected something more from the front office. Even when Favre was clamoring for wide receiver Randy Moss, the New England Patriots were able to jump in and acquire him for a fairly cheap price. Instead, the Packers have worked on upgrading their defense.

After improving their defensive ranking in yards given up to 12th last season, the Packers drafted defensive tackle Justin Harrell with their first pick in this year's draft. Linebacker A.J. Hawk showed flashes of living up to his potential in the NFL last year, while defensive lineman Aaron Kampman had a career year with 15.5 sacks. The secondary could still use some work, but the efforts are being made to give Favre the ball as often as possible by taking opposing teams off the field. In return, the team in banking on the success of either Jackson or Vernand Morency at running back, combined with greater success from Jennings.

3. Would Lovie be Wrong for Ditching Grossman?

Last year, the Chicago Bears seemed to be under scrutiny every week, despite finishing with the best record in the NFC. All the Bears needed to head to the playoffs was a quarterback that could manage the football - in other words, as long as they didn't make poor decisions with the football, he'd be fine. Instead, Grossman's play was everything but game-managing. He would throw interceptions into double coverage, fumble the football on the snap, or completely miss an open receiver. He isn't the most experienced quarterback in the league, but if he continues with that type of ply this season, should Lovie Smith switch to Brian Griese instead? Griese isn't exactly a dynamic quarterback either, but it may be worth it just to avoid the constant miscues by Grossman.

In a perfect world, Smith is hoping that the addition of Greg Olsen along with some maturation from Grossman will prevent this question from even being brought up.

4. Can Jeff Garcia Repeat Last Season?

After quarterback Donovan McNabb went down for the Eagles last season, everyone counted the Eagles out immediately simply because franchises tend to lose momentum when their starting captains are gone. Instead, Jeff Garcia stepped in and played at a Pro Bowl level, rarely making the mistakes. Not only did he prevent mistakes, he made plays just like the Garcia of old. Jon Gruden must not have been too optimistic about Bruce Gradkowski or Chris Simms making an impact this year, as both men often brought the team's offense to a complete halt. Gruden could be envisioning a philosophy similar to that of the Chicago Bears, where an average offense is aided by a great defense.

The Buccaneers had some struggles last year defensively, but they're headed in the right direction with the additions of Cato June and Gaines Adams. Garcia will have to hope that Carnell Williams can add the "Cadillac" catchphrase to his name again, as Brian Westbrook was a major factor in Garcia's success last year. After an impressive rookie year, Williams struggled to ever get his engine started last year. Garcia is the right person to lead the Buccaneers offense, meaning it's up to Williams and Michael Clayton to complete the puzzle.

5. Will the Greatest Show on Turf Return?

At the beginning of last season, the Rams' defense looked energized under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. However, by the end of the season, it was same old same old for the Rams as they finished sixth in the league offensively, but 23rd in the league defensively. They actually defended the pass well, but they were ranked 31st in the league against the run. The Rams desperately needed to take steps to improve that ranking this season to take over what was an extremely weak division last year.

The Rams added defensive lineman James Hall from Detroit and rookie Adam Carriker with the 13th overall pick. The Rams also signed veteran receiver Drew Bennett as a better third receiving option and finally acquired a big-name kick returner in Dante Hall. The linebackers still leave somewhat of a void, but perhaps the second year of Haslett's system combined with a technically sound offense can bring the Rams back to the top of the NFC West.

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