Re: "Are we REALLY playoff material yet?!"
From a simple analytical standpoint, we are a team on the rise that improved itself this offseason. We were 8-8 last year, so we should improve upon that and be closer to the playoffs. Our two biggest weaknesses last season were in the running game and the secondary, so we brought in Alex Gibbs and Ray Rhodes to coach up our weaknesses along with adding Slaton, Brown, and Molden. The only aspect where we may be weaker is in the KR/PR game, where Andre Davis will have to prove that he's not a one year wonder. Other than that, we should be good.
Our passing game should be improved with another season in the system for Shaub, a healthy AJ, a maturing Jones, and the always solid first down machine that is Kevin Walter. Here's another area where Davis will have to prove that last year was no fluke. Daniels and Dreessen are very good receiving TEs, and should both improve as well.
Our line should be much improved with the additions of Alex Gibbs, Duane Brown (who should be starting at LT by the bye week), and Chris Myers, the hopeful return of Chris Spencer, the continued excellent play of Winston, and most importantly, dropping the power zone scheme for a pure zone scheme.
The defensive line should be improved with Mario and Amobi growing and becoming better players. Okoye hit a rookie wall, but should be better conditioned this season, meaning his play from the beginning of last season should be able to be replicated through most of this next season. Consistency is a hard thing to accomplish for a young DL, but if we can achieve it, we should be fine here. Weaver needs to give this team more or he will be gone after next season.
Our LB corps got better by adding Adibi, Thompson, and Bentley. Sam LB was a bit of a black hole last season, and either Thompson, Bentley, or Diles should be an upgrade over Clark. Demeco played through an injury at the end of last season that curtailed his season, but he should be back to his old form. Adibi and Greenwood should have a healthy battle for the starting Will LB job.
All in all, we are better across the board. The only starter that we may need to worry about having a drop in production is Salaam, due to his age. We had a very quiet, productive offseason. Don't expect us to be pegged to be anywhere but last in our division by the pundits, but that will work in our advantage. In the immortal words of Steve Smith last season, "These guys ain't that good. We should run over their asses like it's high school". Let's hope more players take that attitude towards us.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em...