In honor of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, The Sports Xchange will celebrate something positive -- The No. 1 Strength of every NFL team.
Sports Xchange reporters who cover each team were asked to select the best aspect of that team, something not often done by media convinced that fans would rather discuss the dark side of any issue.
In the interest of full disclosure, this assignment was apparently so unusual that two correspondents, who shall remain anonymous and their teams unnamed, responded with odd suggestions -- one naming youth as the team's strength and the other saying the coaching staff was the key, despite the fact that particular team probably has the most talented roster in the league and isn't hoisting a Lombardi Trophy.
In those cases, TSX asserted executive privilege, and experience, to change the strengths of those teams to something more appropriate.
So with that in order, cue the fireworks, and here is TSX's list of strengths for each team in the NFL (listed alphabetically):
--TEAM STRENGTH: Wide receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is still an elite player. Michael Floyd has shown great improvement. The additions of Ted Ginn Jr. and rookie John Brown improved the group's speed. Quarterback Carson Palmer has several options now in the passing game.
--TEAM STRENGTH: Quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan has shown that if protected and surrounded with weapons, the Falcons can win in the NFL regular season. After going 4-12, Ryan believes he can improve in order to help offset the retirement of legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez.
"I've tried to be as detailed as I can possibly be both in the weight room, film room and out on the practice field," Ryan said. "I think it's overall consistency. I think as I mature and I keep playing in this league, it's about tightening things up and becoming more consistent."
Despite moving up in seniority - only running back Steven Jackson (11 years), wide receiver Roddy White (10), wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester (nine) and guard Justin Blalock (eight) have more experience -- Ryan still feels young.
"I still feel really good," Ryan said. "My body feels great. I feel like I'm in better shape than I've ever been. I still love getting out and practicing. (Six) years went by fast, but I feel really good."
--TEAM STRENGTH: Outside linebacker. With bookend Pro Bowl outside linebackers in Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, this is obviously a strong part of the team. They combined for 19.5 sacks last season. Healthy this season, both Suggs and Dumervil appear ready for bigger things this season.
--TEAM STRENGTH: Defensive line. The Bills have three Pro Bowl players up front -- tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, and end Mario Williams, plus end Jerry Hughes. While setting a team record with 57 sacks in 2013, those four players combined for 41 sacks, including a team-high 13 by Mario Williams.
The Bills can also bring in players such as veterans Alan Branch and Manny Lawson, and they also like young players Stefan Charles and Corbin Bryant, both of whom saw playing time at the end of last season. Under new coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Bills might not blitz as much as they did when Mike Pettine was scheming the defense, but if the front four can continue to generate pressure without help, Schwartz won't have to send linebackers or safeties.
--TEAM STRENGTH: Linebacker Luke Kuechly. If the Panthers are going to make another playoff run, they will do it on the back of their defense, and Kuechly is the backbone of that defense. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year has taken on a bigger leadership role heading into his third season, which some around the team believe could be his best yet.
--TEAM STRENGTH: Starting wide receivers. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 2,716 receiving yards last year during Jeffery's breakout year, and unlike last year both enter training camp 100 percent healthy. Marshall last year was coming off hip surgery and took until at least a month into the season before he felt at or approaching 100 percent. Jeffery now has two years experience.
Few teams have one receiver with the combination speed and athletic ability of one of these two, and with two the Bears always seem to have an open option. With tight end Martellus Bennett and with Marquess Wilson starting to assert himself, it's possible one or both could have fewer catches. However, if this happens, it's possible the big-play threat will increase and their yards-per-catch average will go up. If Jay Cutler is able to go the entire season, their touchdown totals could increase, as well.
--TEAM STRENGTH: Coordinator Hue Jackson and the offense. The players have responded to the new energy in the offensive room as Jackson replaced Jay Gruden, now the head coach in Washington.
Players are energized and the numbers of Jackson's success running the offense in Oakland (top 10 both years he was on staff) back up his attitude.