2020 Way Too Early Power Rankings: 32-25
Don't look now, but we are now in the month of June, meaning the NFL off-season will soon be reaching its conclusion.
The hope is that all players, coaches, and all team personnel will soon be able to return to facilities for minicamps and workouts to prepare for their seasons.
With training camp hopefully just around the corner in July, now seems like a good time to start looking at the outlook for the 2020 NFL season. Who is looking strong? Who is looking like they are going to be in for a rough season? Now that much of the off-season has concluded, we can begin to answer these questions. What better way to do so than with some power rankings?
To kick off some way-too-early-power rankings for the 2020 regular season, we will take a look at squads who appear to be headed towards a long season. These power rankings will be split into four posts, each covering a quarter of the league until we reach the top-ranked teams.
Let us get on with it, starting with No. 32.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Plain and simple, the Jaguars seem to be in the midst of "Tanking for Trevor" even as the season is still months away.
If an uncompetitive and embarrassing season comes to fruition, it could mark the end of the head coaching tenure in Jacksonville for Doug Marrone, who is likely already feeling some pressures on the hot seat.
The Yannick Ngakoue situation is a mess. It is highly unlikely he suits up for the Jags this season and it is plausible they will look to deal him for draft compensation before the beginning of the season. A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell have already been traded this off-season as well. From their 2017 AFC Championship defense, hardly anyone remains.
This is a roster that is clearly rebuilding. It is clear that the franchise is trying to find young cornerstones to build around at a variety of positions. It seems to be off to a decent start after drafting edge-rusher Josh Allen and offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor in 2019 and seemingly having a real solid class on paper this off-season featuring C.J. Henderson, K'Lavon Chaisson, and Laviska Shenault Jr., among others.
While Gardner Minshew II was impressive as a sixth-round rookie last year, drafting a franchise quarterback may be the next big move the team looks to make. The main priority for this season will be for the young players to develop, while it is anticipated the squad as a whole will be largely uncompetitive.
31. Detroit Lions
Is this the last year for general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia?
If they finish as the second-worst team in the league, it most certainly will be. The pair received a vote of confidence from ownership as they return for another season, but there is pressure to turn it around now.
The problem is it doesn't appear to be an easy task. For starters, the NFC North remains a tough division. The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings both were playoff teams last season and appear to be contenders again this season. The Chicago Bears, while having a dilemma at quarterback, have a top-notch defense.
The Lions, meanwhile, are coming off a tough season and have some glaring weaknesses throughout their roster.
A full season of Matthew Stafford should help, but it won't solve anything. Stafford has been an above-average quarterback his whole career and has given the Lions franchise a stabilizing presence at the most important position. However, he just has never received adequate help from those around him and it appears to be the same for at least another season.
Maybe the trio of Patriots additions of Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon, and Danny Shelton on defense will help to build a winning culture. Maybe rookie Jeffrey Okudah becomes an immediate lockdown cornerback. Maybe D'Andre Swift pairs with Kerryon Johnson to form a dynamic duo at running back while T.J. Hockenson starts to live up to Rob Gronkowski comparisons.
Those are a lot of maybes to go with key departures such as Darius Slay and Graham Glasgow. With a challenging schedule and unproven coaching staff, this may not be the Lions' year quite yet.
30. Washington Redskins
Dwayne Haskins Jr. Not to put a lot of pressure on the second-year quarterback, but the team will go as far as he goes.
The defense will be a good unit. The defensive line is one of the deepest in football and new head coach Ron Rivera should help to make further improvements to a defense that was already tough to go against.
If Derrius Guice is able to stay healthy, there is a plethora of running back options for the offense to lean on with Adrian Peterson and others also in the fold. With a solid defense and Rivera's mentality as head coach, they could win some close games by winning turnover battles and controlling the clock.
However, in today's passing age, Haskins will need to take the next step.
With questions at both offensive tackle spots after the Trent Williams saga finally came to an end and an underwhelming, but youthful, group of pass-catchers, it won't be an easy task. Rivera hired a trusted confidant in Scott Turner to be offensive coordinator and be the guy for Haskins to take the next step with. Terry McLaurin seems like a star in the making at wideout, but someone else must emerge as well.
Rivera was a good hire by the Redskins and removing Bruce Allen from his responsibilities as a team-builder are two steps in the right direction. There is legitimate talent on defense and with a few more pieces, the offense could get there. 2020 seems too soon for it to all come together.
29. Miami Dolphins
Will rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa take a redshirt year to heal further and learn the ropes of the NFL? If he is thrown into the fire, will he hold up physically behind a questionable and young offensive line? Will he answer to the pressure and expectations that are coming his way?
If Tagovailoa plays and plays well, the Dolphins could end up a lot higher on this list.
Head coach Brian Flores is the real deal. The Dolphins were easily the least-talented football team in the league last season, but somehow mustered five wins. Flores wanted to set the tone by not tanking games, and he certainly has seemed to do so. The head coach is here to stay. If the quarterback proves to be the guy, watch out for the Dolphins.
For now, expectations should be staggered a little bit. While on paper the off-season seems good, it should take some time for everything to mesh. The Dolphins entered free agency with the most money and entered the draft with the most selections. The additions look solid, but come with a lot of turnover.
And because there were so many holes to be filled, naturally some are still unfilled. That includes some starting roles along the offensive line and depth pieces up front on both offense and defense. Flores also made multiple changes to a first-year coaching staff.
In short, the Dolphins are clearly going in the right direction. We will need to see how Tagovailoa is used during his rookie season and if all the new pieces can fit nicely together.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Quarterback Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, seems like a great first step to improve on the NFL's worst record.
The clear favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, Burrow will have plenty of offensive weapons to work with including A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III, and Tee Higgins. At the very least, the Bengals will be exciting to watch.
There are still questions to be answered. Is head coach Zac Taylor the guy to lead this franchise? He was maybe dealt an unfair hand in his first year, but now he has his guy at quarterback. Burrow and Taylor's partnership will be an interesting dynamic to follow as the season progresses.
The defense will have to hold up its end of the bargain as well. Being one of the worst units in the league last year, the Bengals tried to address the problem this offseason. D.J. Reader, while a pricey signing, seems to be one of the smartest ones of free agency.
The Bengals are usually one of the cheapest teams in the NFL. They finally forked over some real money to try to take the next step. A duo of former Vikings cornerbacks, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, will bring some experience and proven play to the backend.
In the draft, they added three linebackers in Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey that all should have prominent roles on the defense for years to come. With the linebacker play last season, it was certainly a needed investment.
The Bengals will be exciting to watch, but are dealing with a difficult schedule and a lot of change.
27. New York Giants
There are three big storylines to follow here.
Did general manager Dave Gettleman do enough in perhaps what could be his final off-season to make this team competitive? Is quarterback Daniel Jones going to build on a promising, but mistake-prone rookie season? And is Joe Judge, who seems to have a Bill Belichick coaching style, the right man to lead the G-Men?
Gettleman was aggressive, signing linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback James Bradberry to lucrative contracts to shore up some coverage deficiencies in the defense. These are legitimate players who should help new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham put together a successful unit.
If cornerback Deandre Baker can get past some legal troubles and improve on a tough rookie season, the backend seems OK for the first time in a few years. The question would then be if there is enough pass-rush up front. After questionably franchise-tagging Leonard Williams, they will hope he can address that issue.
After selecting Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 overall pick in April, he should be the left tackle for the Giants for the next 10 years. Two more mid-round picks were also used on offensive linemen. Clearly, the Giants are tired of getting blitzed up front. With improvement along the line, the offense could actually be potent.
Running back Saquon Barkley is a special talent. If Jones and the passing attack can protect the ball and take some attention off of Barkley, there is exciting potential for the offense. Like the Redskins, a lot will fall on how the quarterback develops.
26. Carolina Panthers
When you pay a coach who has coached at the NFL level for one season eight years ago as much as the Panthers paid Matt Rhule, you do not think he is the guy. You know he is the guy.
Rhule will be tasked with transitioning the franchise from the tenured Cam Newton and Ron Rivera era to a new exciting era that he wants to lead.
This season will have some rough patches along the way, but as long as Rhule begins to lay the foundation for what he wants to accomplish, it will be a success. His tenures at Temple and Baylor began in a similar way, with a rough first season followed by immediate success.
The newly signed Teddy Bridgewater is no slouch of a quarterback. He is a quality leader, proven game manager, and a guy who will make plays with his arm and feet in important situations. He has an exciting group of receivers to work with, featuring D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and free agent signing Robbie Anderson. The hope is the aerial attack can hit the ground running so running back Christian McCaffrey won't have such a big workload.
On defense, there is a ton of turnover. The loss of former All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly to retirement hurts and the defense will need to find a new leader. James Bradberry, the team's No. 1 corner for the past couple of seasons, will have to be replaced. Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Vernon Butler all departed along the defensive line.
The Panthers addressed this by using every pick in the draft on defensive players. That has never been done before in NFL history. Defensive lineman Derrick Brown and company will be important in how the team looks this season and ensuing seasons.
For now, the Panthers have an uphill battle to contend, but are not a disaster by any means. A tough NFC South doesn't help.
25. Chicago Bears
The Bears are facing a ton of pressure. No quarterback-head coach combination may be facing more of it than Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy.
By declining the fifth-year option and trading for Nick Foles, a lackluster vote of confidence has already been given. This is Trubisky's last chance to prove himself. Nagy, an offensive and quarterbacks guru, has rightfully not escaped criticism for Trubisky's lack of development and actual regression.
The defense is still a quality unit in the NFL. Even without Akiem Hicks for much of last season and transitioning from Vic Fangio to Chuck Pagano at coordinator, the defense didn't skip many beats. It likely will have to do much of the same this season for the Bears to remain competitive if the offense continually doesn't hold their weight.
The offensive line regressed mightily last season and must improve. Second-year running back David Montgomery and the running game must provide more than it did last season. Whoever is starting at quarterback on any given week must be more competent. The kicking game has to improve.
With the signing of Jimmy Graham and the selection of Cole Kmet, there are now adequate safety valves to throw to at tight end. The receivers are a decent group that haven't benefitted from their quarterback play.
If there are some forward steps taken by the offense, the Bears should be better than this ranking. We first need to see it on the field.