Still Breathing Fire
NEW GLOUCESTER, ME - The league's Most Valuable Player had never been traded before, so nobody knew what to expect from the Snapdragons in 2005. What resulted was a campaign full of intrigue, controversy, triumph and massacre. After new quarterback Chad Pennington was lost for the season in Week 3, the Dragons were left facing a season generalled by journeyman Anthony Wright, which prompted owner Jon Kinsman to make a change.
In a trade that was scrutinized by YFFL writers the rest of the season, the Dragons acquired Brett Favre from the division rival Big Boys after Week 6. Despite losing 5 games in a row at one point, the Dragons mustered enough victories down the stretch to win the NFC wild card. Two hardly fought playoff victories and the brilliant play of Tiki Barber vaulted the Dragons into Super Bowl XIII. The miraculous ride ended with a thud when they were routed by the Burger Buddies, ending an otherwise storybook season.
Biggest Question Facing Owner Jon Kinsman
What does Brett Favre have left? With retirement rumors swirling in the off-season, the YFFL's all-time leading scorer is back for a 14th season. Favre managed to finish third among QBs in scoring last season, but the bulk of that was early in the season. Scoring a measly 4 points in the Dragons' run to the Super Bowl, many could argue that the Dragons won in spite of Favre and not because of him. With little depth behind him, the Dragons will need a solid performance from the legend if they expect to compete for the division.
Player to Watch
Frank Gore, RB - When Kevan Barlow was shipped to the Jets, it confirmed the faith the 49ers have in this dynamic back out of Miami. While sharing carries with Barlow last season, Gore showed glimpses of what his future may hold. With a medical dossier full of knee problems, the Dragons will hope that Gore can stand up to the constant pounding of an NFL season.
Projected Starting Lineup
Favre, Barber, Gore, Ward, R. Smith, L. Smith, Graham, Jurevicius
With Barber and Gore, the Dragons head into the 2006 season with their most balanced rushing attack in years. Hines Ward and Rod Smith will spearhead the receiving corps again, and Kinsman will hope that Joe Jurevicius can duplicate his surprise 2005 season and that one of the rookie receivers can emerge. If everyone stays healthy and Favre isn't asked to win games by himself on a weekly basis, the Dragons should be a better team than a year ago and stave off the rest of the competition in the up-for-graps NFC East.
8-5; 553 points; 1st NFC East