It’s at this time of the year where we say goodbye 62.5% of the NFL. The playoffs will begin next weekend, and 12 of the best teams in the league will battle it out for the Lombardi Trophy over the next month.
As for the other 20, we won’t see them again until September. Some were good, some were forgettable, and others were so downright awful that we’re happy we won’t have to watch them play again for nine months.
It’s time to write some eulogies.
What you just saw was a 3-13 season, which ties 2000 as the Cardinal’s worst since they moved to the desert in 1988. You won three games, and two of them were against San Francisco’s backup quarterback.
Josh Rosen showed some flashes, but you have so far to go to be anywhere close to relevant. Having the first overall pick should give you a big building block on defense, but much like the other three sports teams in your city, I see a long rebuild coming.
Matt Ryan became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards (4,924), at least 30 touchdowns (35), and fewer than ten interceptions (7), and finish with a losing record. Julio Jones also won the receiving yards title at 1,677.
You just had the best quarterback for a team with a losing record in the history of the sport, and also the best receiver in the league this year together. And you wasted it.
Five years ago you said you wanted to build a new billion-dollar stadium, and one of the big reasons was so that you could host a Super Bowl. And now the New Orleans Saints are 13-3 and just need two home wins to get to the Super Bowl.
You literally spent one billion dollars just so your biggest rival could have a party.
And I cannot think of a better metaphor for the ineptitude of this franchise wasting year after year of the best quarterback the team has ever had.
It’s still too soon to know if Josh Allen is your franchise quarterback, but he showed enough to get you excited. Allen finished the year with a five-touchdown performance against Miami that has Bills fans charging into next year with some optimism.
But you guys had a putrid offense in all of the non-Allen games this year. You scored three points against Baltimore, zero points in Green Bay, five points in Indianapolis, six vs. the Patriots, nine vs. the Bears, and 12 vs. the Patriots again. That’s an average of 5.8 points per game in a six-game sample size.
That’s not good enough. Your leading running back finished with 514 yards, and your leading receiver had 652. Get some playmakers for Allen.
Geez, what happened here? You started 6-2 and were cruising towards the playoffs, then lost seven in a row to torpedo your season. Cam Newton ended the season injured, and was probably playing injured down the stretch as well.
My message to you guys is you’re not as bad off as you think. You lost five consecutive one-possession games to go from 6-3 to 6-8, and that was with an injured quarterback. Turn those tight losses into tight wins and you could be right back in the playoff race next season.
But you have to get better on the road. 2-6 away from Charlotte isn’t going to cut it no matter how good you are in your own building.
The only coach in NFL history to coach at least 100 games with one team without winning a single playoff game is yours, that streak now stands at 131 games.
It’s another completely meaningless 6-10 season, and with the emergence of the Cleveland Browns, you’re clearly the worst team in your division.
We’ve said this for about half a decade now, but go hire a new coach or you’ll continue to lag behind your rivals in 2019 and beyond.
I have nothing but good things to say here. You went from one win in two seasons combined to seven wins this year. The most hopeless fanbase in the NFL now has the best quarterback they’ve ever had and a legitimate reason for optimism. You finally found the one thing you’ve spent the last two decades searching for.
But if you want to keep this going, you have to find a way to keep Freddie Kitchens. If you have to promote him to head coach, do it. If he needs a raise, do it. He’s the key to your offense being this successful again next season.
Vance Joseph is probably getting fired, and that’s a good start. When he decided to kick a field goal down by four points on fourth-and-1 at the 10-yard line in the fourth quarter against Cleveland three weeks ago, he probably sealed his own fate.
Philip Lindsay emerging at running back was one of the best stories in the league this year, but it all comes back to quarterback play. Case Keenum threw 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this year, and I think it’s fair for Denver fans to question if he can get back to the level he showed in Minnesota.
There are a lot more questions than answers here, and it’ll be really interesting to see how John Elway attacks the offseason.
In your opening game of the season, you got blasted 48-17 at home by a Jets team that finished 4-12. Things did not get better from there.
Your coach yelled at a reporter in a press conference for a lack of professionalism because he was not sitting up in his chair, when he himself wears a pencil in his ear 24/7.
Stat Padford had another forgettable season, and I have my doubts if a quarterback 10 years into his career without a playoff game on three different coaches and three offensive coordinators can win big things.
I think next year is a make-or-break year for Stafford, Patricia, and everyone else in a high-ranking position within the organization.
Green Bay Packers:
I think this year was a success in the long run because you finally ousted Mike McCarthy as head coach. You were embarrassing away from Lambeau Field with a 1-7 road record. That 20-point comeback against the Bears in the first game of the season probably kept Chicago out of a bye though, so at least there was one glimmer of positivity out of this season.
It’s all about hiring the right coach now. Aaron Rodgers is 35-years old, and it’s possible that the next coach you hire will be the last one for arguably the most talented quarterback ever.
You can’t afford to mess this up. Go make a good hire.
Is there a team in more shambles than the Jaguars right now? On Sunday, you finished out your 5-11 season with a pathetic 20-3 loss in Houston. After the game, Tom Coughlin came out and called Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon disrespectful and selfish. Blake Bortles was so bad this year that he got benched in favor of Cody Kessler.
You completed an impressive turnaround from first place to last place, and there are very few positive signs for the future. It all starts with quarterback play, but the market to replace Bortles with this offseason is incredibly weak.
It would probably be best for you to forget 2018 ever happened.
After week 15 of this season, the Dolphins were 7-7 in their last 14 games, 19-19 in their last 38, 23-23 in their last 46, 42-42 in their last 84, 66-66 in their last 132, and 199-199 in their last 398 games.
You guys are walking mediocrity in every sense of the word. This is the tenth consecutive season you’ve finished between six and ten wins, checking in at seven in 2018. This was another season where you were too inconsistent to make the playoffs but won enough games to get a draft pick where you can get a true difference maker.
I know you won’t do this, but it’s time to end the Ryan Tannehill experience. He isn’t your long-term answer. The 2020 quarterback draft has the early look to be a good one, so I think your best bet is to totally bottom out in 2019 and get a chance to draft a franchise changing QB.
You gave $84 million dollars guaranteed to the biggest fraud in the NFL. That’s all there is to it.
All you had to do to make the playoffs was beat a Bears team playing for pretty much nothing at home, and it took until garbage time against Chicago’s second-string defense for Kirk Cousins to even break the 100 passing yards plateau.
The Vikings went 1-6 against teams that finished with a winning record, and 7-1-1 against teams with a losing record. Cousins is now 4-25 in his career against teams with a winning record. You’ve committed way too much to him to make a change, so you’re stuck with him.
He has two more years to salvage the contract, but year one was undoubtedly a failure.
New York Giants:
When you were on the clock at the NFL Draft last season, you desperately needed a quarterback. There were four highly rated quarterbacks staring at you in Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson. All four ended up showing positive signs in 2018.
You chose to draft a running back over any of them. Your reward for that was a 5-11 season with Eli Manning.
Now you have three options. You either draft a quarterback in this historically weak QB draft, you pay a quarterback in free agency who will be 2-3 more expensive and 2-3 times less effective than what you could have drafted last year, or you stick with Eli for another season. Have fun!
New York Jets:
A lot of what I said about the Bills can be recycled here. Darnold showed promise, but you still sorely need to get him more to work with. I think this season was roughly what you expected it to be, but it doesn’t make your third consecutive season finishing in last place any less frustrating.
And of course, you’re going to have to hire a new head coach after Todd Bowles was relieved of his duties. There’s a long way to go here, but at least it looks like you could have the most important piece of all in place under center.
Oakland/Las Vegas/Who Even Knows Anymore Raiders:
You saw an ESPN broadcaster who fell backwards into a Super Bowl as a coach with a roster he didn’t build 15 years ago, and decided you wanted him to be your coach. Then you signed him to a 10-year contract. Ten. Years.
You traded Khalil Mack to the Bears, and he finished with more sacks on his own than your entire team did combined. He will be playing in the playoffs next weekend.
You traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys, and he was the difference in them going from a 3-5 start to winning the division. Cooper had more receiving yards in nine games with Dallas than all but two of your receivers did in 16 games in Oakland. Cooper will also be playing in the playoffs next weekend.
You went all the way to London as part of the NFL International Series, and lost 27-3. 10,690 miles round trip for three total points.
On two separate occasions, your new head coach was charged with a timeout in a game because he threw his challenge flag on a play that wasn’t challengeable. Yes, that happened twice.
The city of Oakland filed an antitrust lawsuit against your franchise earlier this month, and therefore you will not be playing in Oakland next season. Your new stadium in Las Vegas isn’t built yet. As things stand, you literally don’t have a stadium right now. Nobody knows where your games will be played next season.
Only nine more years of Gruden!
You missed the playoffs essentially because you lost a game to the aforementioned Raiders. And one to the 6-10 Broncos. You have Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and James Conner who burst onto the scene, and you missed the playoffs.
All you had to do to make the playoffs was go .500 in your last six games, and you couldn’t do that. I don’t care if Baltimore came alive at the end of the season or if the AFC was tougher than usual. You had the benefit of playing both games against Cleveland when they still had Hue Jackson coaching them, playing Baltimore when they still had Flacco, and playing Oakland period.
That was a choke. A debacle. The Indianapolis Colts who started the season 1-5 are still playing football, and you’re not. It will be a long, long summer in the Steel City.
San Francisco 49ers:
You pinned all of your hopes on new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and then he tore his ACL in the third game of the season.
I don’t think it’s fair to completely call a mulligan on the season because the defense finished 28th in points allowed, and that level isn’t going to work no matter how good Garoppolo is next season. But it was also clear this wasn’t the full-strength 49ers.
Your best hope is to follow the Indianapolis model of beefing up the offensive line and drafting well on defense to win with a quarterback coming off an injury. Whether or not you execute it is another story.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Those first two weeks where Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like he was bringing back the 2015 Fitzmagic were really fun. But they lost 48-10 to the Bears in week four, and the season sputtered from there. Tampa finished the year 3-11, and there are swirling questions about if there will be a fifth year of the Jameis Winston era.
I expect Winston to be back next season because of the lack of other quarterback options out there, but the defense allowing 464 points in 16 games will take more than one or two players to patch up. Once again the Bucs are in purgatory after another disaster of a season.
Unlike San Francisco, I think this is a team where you can actually argue quarterback health ended their playoff chances. Tennessee went 9-7 with first-year head coach Mark Vrabel, but Marcus Mariota missed the final two games of the season, and Blaine Gabbert couldn’t keep them afloat.
You just dumped a couple of games early in the season. Mariota got injured in the first game of the season, causing you to drop a tight one to the Dolphins 27-20. You also lost 13-12 to Buffalo and 20-19 to the Chargers. I hate playing the “turn this game into that” hypothetical game, but if you turn one of those losses into a win they’d have another game to play.
It wasn’t a bad first year for Vrabel, but missing the playoffs by one game given the circumstances has to be a tough pill to swallow moving forward.
Get out. You started the year 6-3 in first place, and then completely failed to adapt when Alex Smith went down to injury. You eventually decided that starting a guy who hadn’t thrown a pass since 2011 was your best option, and that went how you would expect it to.
You fell behind 40-0 to the Giants in a must-win game, and let the Eagles walk on your backs into the playoffs with a 24-0 win to close the year in a game that was allegedly in your stadium but had about 80% Philadelphia fans.
That’s a perfect representation for how far you’ve fallen, how much your ownership has alienated the fanbase, and how bad your future looks.