As he season winds down, we are paying ever so close attention to the NFL playoff race. Tonight’s game, for example, has huge implications. A Cincinnati Bengals win gives Kansas City the driver’s seat to the AFC West, clinches the AFC South for the Houston Texans and ties the Bengals with the Patriots for the best record in the AFC. One game. That’s a lot of responsibility on the Bengals.
But what about the other end of the spectrum? Which team came through this season and showed that they really are the NFL’s worst team?
What makes the worst team? When I asked The Thread their thoughts, legendary fantasy football expert Saucy T said, “when you ask me worst, I’m thinking least talent and furthest away from winning a championship.”
That’s one way to look at it, and a good starting place.
Kid Robot immediately said the Titans or the 49ers. Two very good choices. However, I’m going to give the 49ers a pass — and I loathe the 49ers so as much as I would be elated to hand them the dubious honor of being the NFL’s worst, I just can’t.
The 49ers came into this season on the heels of their head coach skipping town, seemingly half of their elite defense surprisingly retiring, and 90-year old Frank Gore — their only staple for the past few years — heading to the Midwest. They also had Colin Kaepernick at the helms of their team.
If you followed my blog for any amount of time, you know my feelings on Kaepernick. I said he was the most overrated QB in the NFL after the Super Bowl, and I made it perfectly clear that I felt his implosion was coming this season. You combine all of those things together, and the 49ers didn’t stand a chance. Plus, Blaine Gabbert didn’t play half bad, so maybe they do have some choices to move forward with next season, whereas originally many thought they did not.
Nomi threw the Cleveland Browns into the mix and these guys need to be seriously considered. Their front office is a mess as they can’t agree upon whether or not Johnny Manziel is the future star quarterback in Cleveland, or the future star of his own reality show on VH1 (is VH1 still around?)
The place is a mess, and it has trickled down throughout the team. But I think the problem with the Browns is the coaching. They actually have talented pieces — not as many as premier teams –to at least build around for the coming season.
Gary Barnidge proved to be the real deal. Travis Benjamin played very well in his first real go as a full time wide receiver. Isaiah Crowell showed flashes of brilliance, but was inexplicably under used for most of the season. Duke Johnson, Jr. is a great change of pace back, with some of the best receiving skills out of the backfield in the league.
They showed they could stay competitive or beat the lesser teams in the league and even hung in there with the Broncos and Chiefs. They have the tools, I think they simply need more stability.
The Titans are a train wreck, too. Everyone on The Thread brought up Tennessee and as Saucy T said, they are in the “worst division in football and they are STILL that bad.”
Aside from Marcus Mariota — who showed in time he will be an NFL quarterback that is fun to watch — there is little to get excited about on this team. Dorial Green-Beckham could be fun to watch, but he needs to mature. The running back situation is a mess, I mean I guess Antonio Andrews could be ok, but he hasn’t eclipsed 90 yards in a game this season as a starting running back. Delanie Walker is their only true offensive weapon and he thrived from that aspect this year. At the end of the day, he is still Delanie Walker, which is a nice tight end, but not the star tight end he played like this season. Oh, and I think everyone is over Bishop Sankey after his “big rookie” season led people to drafting him in the fifth round of fantasy drafts.
The defense is atrocious. Brandon Weeden had his way with that secondary yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, Weeden seems to have a great chemistry with DeAndre Hopkins, but this is also Brandon Weeden. He was cut lose by a Cowboys team in favor of Matt Cassel. Did you watch him play this year?
So, the easy answer I guess would be the Titans. But I think it’s the Miami Dolphins.
This is a team that was supposed to scare the New England Patriots this year. This is a team that went out and got one of the most imposing defensive figures to add to an already stout defense. This was a team that had a quarterback of the future coming of a very good 2014. And they all took a step backwards.
And by step, I mean the fell of a freakin’ mountain.
I understand that — as The Thread pointed out — not living up to expectations is not a reason to label a team as the worst in the game. But it’s more than that. Look at the last three games.
They lost to the New York Giants — a team with essentially no defense whatsoever — the San Diego Chargers — who literally had most of their team on the inactive list — and the Indianapolis Colts — who played the second half led by Charlie Whitehurst.
It doesn’t make sense. Is it really all coaching? I mean, I guess it can be. It seems like the team has talent in place to succeed with Tannehill, Lamar Miller and Jarvis Landry, but what if Tannehill and Miller simply aren’t good.
Again, maybe The Thread is right. Maybe they are simply the most disappointing team in the NFL, and not quite the worst. But this is a team that has some serious question marks. Do they stick with Miller or is Jay Ajayi the answer? Is DeVante Parker going to get healthy, or was that a wasted draft pick? And who is the real Tannehill?
I don’t simply think it’s the let down. I think it’s the glaring inconsistencies and the losses that they have that defined them. And for that, they at least deserve to enter the conversation.