With the Wild Card playoff games over, it was pretty easy to see where the losing teams needed improvement. For some teams, it was just certain position players, while for others it looked like teams needed a whole identity change. Overall, here are what each team needs to address in their offseason if they want to take that next step forward in the playoffs.
How Each Losing Playoff Team Can Improve
Texans: Need to establish a starting quarterback.
After watching Brian Hoyer play terribly in their wild card game versus the Kansas City Chiefs, it looks like the only thing missing for the Texans to take that next step forward is a starting quarterback. If you look back at the Texans season, they had four different starting quarterbacks this season and head coach Bill O’Brien couldn’t make up his mind over time. Now, I know injuries played a role on who was starting certain weeks, but they have to find somebody who the coaches and the fans can trust. The Texans can now either stick with Hoyer next year and then find a rookie quarterback to back him up, or they can look in free agency. Names to consider: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Sam Bradford.
Bengals: Need to have more discipline.
For the Bengals, they had that game won versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, but a poorly timed fumble and bad penalties down the stretch cost them that game. Now, that all falls back on the coaching and just shows that Marvin Lewis isn’t tough enough on his players. Overall, the Bengals don’t really need to find anybody in free agency, but they do need to make smart moves regarding whether they should keep certain players or let them go. They should keep guys like Leon Hall and Andre Smith, but they should let go of players like Adam Jones, who had a costly penalty in that wild card game.
Redskins: Need to improve defensively.
The only thing that really hurt Washington in their wild card game versus the Green Bay Packers was that they couldn’t get timely stops on defense. The offense was in rhythm for most of the game and did stall in the second half, but when it is the playoffs, you have to get stops when the game is on the line. The improvements the Redskins need to make is at cornerback and linebacker. Names to consider going into free agency: safety Eric Weddle or cornerbacks Prince Amukamara, Greg Toler, or Morris Claiborne.
Vikings: Need to find a playmaker at wide receiver.
Now, I know that the Vikings shouldn’t have lost this game because Blair Walsh missed a chip shot field goal, but my counter point to why they lost is that you have to put the ball in the end zone. If it wasn’t for Blair Walsh, the Vikings wouldn’t have even scored a point in the first place. Where the Vikings need to make improvements is at wide receiver. The team needs to find a playmaker that they can look at down the stretch of tight games like that. Current Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs has shown that he has a very bright future for this team, now they just need to find another target that can help Teddy Bridgewater. Names to look at in free agency: Anquan Boldin, Malcolm Floyd, or Jermaine Kearse.