Ballard was left with a pretty smelly pile by predecessor Ryan Grigson, and he might already be regretting not staying put in Kansas City for the purge there later. He has a lot of damage to undo, in drafting and free agency. And he’s got to make a coaching decision, since Jim Irsay kept Chuck Pagano in place while making his oddly late move on Grigson.
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When the Glazers surprisingly fired Lovie Smith last offseason, a lot was lifted onto Licht’s shoulders. Dirk Koetter improved as head coach as the season went on. The additions on defense have been good enough to complement Jameis Winston and his growth. But Licht is still on the hook for the trade-up to draft kicker Robert Aguayo … who’s already being challenged for his job by Nick Folk. The competition is already making the Bucs look bad — imagine if Folk wins.
This ranking has a chance to zoom up if Deshaun Watson becomes the player — and franchise quarterback — most believe he will. As it’s been mentioned more than Smith surely ever wants to hear, everything else is in place for the Texans to make a Super Bowl run. However, Bill O’Brien is on the hot seat, because of the quarterback quagmire, and Smith will be judged on how he handles the head coaching situation, if it becomes one.
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Whether their impending quarterback problems land in Keim’s lap or Bruce Arians’, the Cardinals are going to have to address the position before the roster Keim built misses a golden opportunity. The clock is also ticking on Larry Fitzgerald’s career, but the drafting (David Johnson, mainly) and signings have been so solid that the Cardinals have a chance to keep contending.