SHAQ ON SPORTS: Super Bowl champs improve in the offseason


May 10, 2018

With the NFL draft and free agency now in the rearview mirror, teams are putting the finishing touches on their rosters for 2018.

With training camp still two months away, the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles enhanced their team even more during the offseason as they look for that rare Super Bowl repeat. The Eagles have put together a stack of great players on their defense as well as their offense.

The Eagles drafted tight end Dallas Goedert in the second round in April and if he can transition well to the NFL they are expected to have plenty of two tight-end sets. The tandem of Zach Ertz and Goedert, who made one dazzling play after another at South Dakota State, promises to create some serious matchup problems for opposing defenses.

We will see how well this duo is when the Eagles open the season against a very talented Atlanta Falcons defense, a defense that held the Super Bowl champions to only 15 points in the divisional round of last season’s playoffs.

Looking at the Eagles’ Super Bowl opponents, the New England Patriots will look quite different from last season. Top draft picks Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel fit in the immediate plans of the Patriots and eyes will be on their seventh-round pick, quarterback Danny Etling, to see if he is worthy of a roster spot.

Running back Michel, a first-round pick (31st overall), fills the spot of Deon Lewis and is a dual threat who some have compared to Alvin Kamara, the Saints rookie last season. James White, their other running back, is listed as the starter based on how often the Patriots are in pass-first packages.

New England has the big bodies on the interior line as well, led by Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton. They should keep the Patriots stout in the middle while the pass rush come from a group of ends led by Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise and Adrian Clayborn, who had nine sacks with the Falcons last season.

Moving to the AFC South, the Houston Texans will be the team I want to keep an eye on. They will be getting their starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, back from a torn knee ligament. Their free agent addition Tyrann Mathieu gives them a playmaker for the back end of a defense that features a ferocious pass rush when everyone is healthy.

Mathieu will start at strong safety for Houston alongside Andre Hall. When looking at the additions for this team, there are certainly fewer spots open on the roster than in past years, but Coach Bill O’Brien has had a lot of success finding talent in that area.

The Texans drafted two outside linebackers, Duke Ejiofor and Peter Kalambayi, giving them some depth at a position that was thin at the end of last season. Pair them with a healthy Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus will be impressive and add J.J. Watt on the defensive line.

Jumping to the NFC South, where three teams made the playoffs last season, the winner of this division will go down to the wire again since all four teams made good additions in the offseason.

The pecking order at wide receiver for the Falcons starts with Julio Jones, but adding first-round pick Calvin Ridley and free-agent pickup Justin Bethel to the mix behind Jones will be a nightmare for defenses. They also added pieces for their special teams unit, which was not good last season and put a lot of pressure on their offense.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made some hefty investments on both lines that should pay, especially for a pass rush that struggled last season.

The New Orleans Saints added talent to every level of its defense and they will have their hands full with the offenses in this division. Carolina Panthers added C.J. Anderson to the running back core, which is a position they needed depth.

Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at superstarproductions622@gmail.com.

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