“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!—Don’t turn the light on!”
- Blanche DuBois “A Streetcar Named Desire”
It’s nearly 100 degrees outside, the sun beats on my back. It’s late July and I can smell hope in the air. I’m not alone. Every football fan feels like this could be their year. This is the one. If Cutler can just realize his potential or Matt Ryan can take that next step or Romo can stay healthy…
Football fans are an interesting breed. We are a gloriously hopeful species. We believe this draft, this free agent, this coach will be what we need to push us over the top. The optimism beams down like that fucking sun is beaming down on my head. Is it normal for man’s lower back to be soaked with this much sweat? ...I digress (I do that from time to time)
Positivity! It’s what we’re all feeling now. Even those poor fans in Cleveland are somehow deluding themselves into thinking that Hue Jackson Is the right man for the job, that RG3 will somehow rediscover the man he was just four short years ago, and that Josh Gordon will stay out of trouble after he’s reinstated. Wait a second, The Brownies are going to be good! It’s just so easy to fall into that trap. I know it all too well. You see, I’m a Jet fan. I’ve been teased by a 10-1 start, tantalized by a 8-3 Brett Favre led team, and titillated by Rex Ryan (or should that betoeillated? ....See what I did there?
Part of me feels like I should allow that hope to remain.
But, like I said, I’m a Jet fan. I want you to be as miserable as me even it’s just for a moment.
So essentially, what follows is the worst case scenario for each NFL team. I’ll try not to mention injury because almost every team is screwed if their starting QB goes down. Notice how I use the word, “almost” ...I’m looking at you NY Jets, SF 49ers, and Denver Broncos. Now some players are an injury waiting to happen and in those cases, I’ve got no choice but to present that possibility.
Stop being delusional. Your team sucks. You aren’t going to win anything this year. The highlight of your football season will once again be draft day.
Why your team is gonna suck…
‘Zona never recovers from the shellacking they got at the hands of Carolina. Coming off a torn ACL, Tyrann Mathieu isn’t the same dominating player as he was last year and Chandler Catanzaro misses another extra point at the most inopportune time.
Los Angeles Rams:
The Rams’ projected starting offensive line has played 230 snaps together and rookie, Jared Goff is slated to be under center. I don’t think we need to imagine what could go wrong here. By week 5, Los Angeles is wondering why they couldn’t have the Raiders instead.
San Francisco 49ers:
Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick are the options at QB. This is reality and I suppose the worst case scenario unless of course Chip Kelly shows that he still isn’t a good NFL coach, which he isn’t.
J’Marcus Webb, on his 3rd team in 4 years is on one side of the line and Garry Gilliam replaces Russell Okung on the other side. No Beast mode to hide this team’s offensive line deficiencies and too much pressure on Russell Wilson and the passing game to overcome.
Losing isn’t the worst case scenario. That’s inevitable. Thomas Dimitroff keeping his job is the worst case scenario. I could list bad personnel move after bad decision, but is it even necessary? Utterly clueless, Dimitroff gave Mohamed Sanu, who had under 400 yards receiving and zero TDs 6.5 million per year and 14 million guaranteed? Say what????
It’s a passing league and Carolina’s secondary might be the worst in the league. The loss of Josh Norman to the ‘Skins and Charles Tillman to retirement hits this defense hard. The swag
and coverage skills of Norman will expose this secondary and in turn, the defense. Cam Newton’s inconsistency with his accuracy continues at a consistent clip except this year it costs him.
New Orleans Saints
This feels like a team that made all the right moves in the off-season, most notably sending Brandon Browner and his lowest overall grade for a corner in PFF’s 10-year history, packing. This Saints have been trying to change their identity the past couple of years and the offensive line might finally be good enough to go that route. Unfortunately, Mark Ingram is the only running back on the roster with a modicum of talent and he can’t stay on the field. The ability to run the ball consistently and their continued issues in the front seven where they can’t seem to stop the run holds this team back once again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not a huge Lovie Smith fan, but what exactly did management expect when they started a rookie QB? Speaking of rookie QBs…
Jameis Winston holds the key to the Bucs season and frankly their future. He needs to develop and stop making mistakes. Their season will be a disaster if he reverts back to his poor decision making ways of his last season at Florida State. Worst case? Jameis has a down year and he succumbs to the off the field issues that some were concerned about leading into the draft. When it’s all said and done, it’s their offensive line, specifically the left side of that line that won’t allow the gifted skill position players on this team to thrive.
Silver lining? Expect decent fantasy numbers from Jameis and his receivers because the Bucs defense is horrid. See, I can be a glass half-full guy.
Sammy Watkins never fully recovers from his off-season and now that defensive coordinators have a year of tape on Tyrod Taylor, they make adjustments that Taylor isn’t able to deal with. Richie Incognito returns to his bullying ways and the locker room falls apart. By December, Rex Ryan knows he’s on the way out.
Tannehill stops improving. In fact, he stopped improving last year which is alarming considering how little experience he has actually playing QB. He should be getting better and better. Plateauing already doesn’t bode well. Mike Tannenbaum continues making personnel decisions for Miami. As a Jet fan, I rarely care if teams in the AFC east have to navigate choppy waters, but I wouldn’t wish Tannenbaum on my worst enemy.
The plethora (that means a lot - like a shitload) of bad passes, from Ryan Fitzpatrick, that should have been intercepted last year are intercepted this year and it only takes Jet’s fans five weeks to forget how bad Geno Smith is. Revis’ decline continues and the Jets are stuck with that abysmal contract and an old mediocre offensive line gets worse.
Jimmy Garoppolo is bad and when Brady returns, he notices that aging even affects the most beautiful among us. Gronk doesn’t stay healthy again (dude hasn’t played a full season since 2011 and without him this offense is a shell of what it can be)
Chandler Jones pass rushing prowess is missed and the Pats can’t get to the passer.
Ronnie Stanley, a rookie, is starting at LT and while he comes in as a highly regarded prospect, pretty easy to imagine him struggling. Flacco continues to be bad under pressure and incredibly inconsistent. Suggs doesn’t come back at an elite level after his 2nd achilles injury and without him, their pass rush struggles. And without a pass rush, their secondary struggles.
Healthy or not, (and he’s NEVER played a full season) Eifert doesn’t score 13 TDs again and without their #2 and #3 receivers from last year, teams can key on AJ Green. Andy Dalton seemed to turn a corner last year, but without enough reliable weapons he regresses. At least if the worst case scenario occurs, Marvin Lewis and Dalton don’t lose another playoff game. They are a combined 0-11 in post season.
An awful offensive line provides no protection for any of the QBs. They end up flip-flopping all year, going into the off-season still unsettled under center. Josh Gordon has another transgression, and too few young players emerge.
Le’Veon Bell misses the first 4 games. Oh wait, that’s actually happening. Martavis Bryant gets suspended for the year. Oh shit, that’s happening too.
Without Bryant, this offense while still good, isn’t spectacular and isn’t enough to overcome their
porous defense; This is a team that is relying on OLB James Harrison and he’s 91 years old. While not flashy, Heath Miller was as solid as they come. Big Ben and this offense miss his steady production and leadership?
Whether it’s a bad game plan or it’s on Andrew Luck (or both) he continue’s to hold onto the ball too long and takes hits when he doesn’t need to. This is not a well coached team. Henry Anderson doesn’t return from injury at a high level. Art Jones, suspended for 4 games, continues to be overpaid and underperform. How bad would he be if he were off the PEDs???
In addition, their RBs are horrendous and getting worse. Gore is now 33 and shouldn’t be starting for any team except maybe my Saturday flag football team.
Frank, call me.
This team has spent more on free agency than any other team the past two seasons. As far as I can remember, the team that spends the most has the best results, right?
Offensive line is this team’s weakest link and if Brandon Linder who missed most of the 2015 season can’t return to his good play in 2014 and Kelvin Beachum doesn’t perform like was paid to, it could be a long season.
Lot of high draft picks used on offensive linemen. Lot of potential, but not much production. If the line still underperforms, then it’ll be awfully tough for Marcus Mariota to perform. Worst case scenario is Mariota doesn’t develop fast enough for fans in Tennessee or for the team and we’re all questioning if he’s the guy come January.
JJ Watt gets injured. oops. already done that.
Most NFL teams don’t let a standout QB walk which makes you think maybe Denver didn’t see Brock Osweiler as a star. I mean, they let him go and replaced him with Mark Sanchez?!? ...
Well, this one’s easy. If Denver is right about Brock, Houston is bad and unfortunately for them, they’ll be bad for a while.
Mark Sanchez runs into the back of Louis Vasquez and fumbles away the teams chances of repeating. Trevor Siemian isn’t the answer either. Paxton Lynch is pressed into service far earlier than he’s ready
To pour salt in the wound, Brock Osweiler plays great in Houston making the entire Denver fan base wonder, “what if”
As a last ditch effort, they resign Tim Tebow.
Rivers seems like an uncommonly old thirty-four. Their horrendous offensive line and River’s immobility don’t complement each other well. Their running game continues to be pedestrian at best and Antonio Gates defiance of age finally catches up with him.
Not much to see here. Move along…
Kansas City Chiefs
It’s a passing league! And yet, Alex Smith continues to play in a time warp as if the games he plays in are somehow played in 1977. He’s efficient, but when Justin Houston misses a few games and doesn’t return at the high level he usually plays at, efficient won’t cut it. Alex Smith will be forced to open things up and his lack of weapons and dare I say, talent, will be their shortcoming.
Everyone’s foaming at the mouth over this team’s prospects. Carr’s improving and could be a top 10 QB, Khalil Mack could be one of the best (if not the best) defenders in the league and they have a massive offensive line that on paper certainly looks pretty good.
The risk? The team starts reading the headlines and forgets that the game isn’t played on paper. That, and Derek Carr’s progress stalls when he starts taking advice from his brother David.
Romo gets hurt….again. At this point, it’s hard to ignore that this is legitimate risk.
Dez Bryant doesn’t return to his previous all-world form.
Jason Witten started to show signs of age last season. If that regression continues this year, the Cowboys could be real thin at TE.
Essentially, if anything happens to their offense, they’re up the creek because they’ll need to score in bunches to win with their swiss cheese defense.
My inspiration for this article is my wonderfully optimistic and naive nephew. He’s a fan of the big blue and he believes. I’m entirely more negative. Eli is thirty-five and has gotten worse each year since 2011.
Their RBs don’t scare anyone. Outside of Odell Beckham Jr, nobody on offense is particularly dangerous.
As a rookie, Ereck Flowers was one of the worst pass blocking left tackles in the league. Now, maybe he’ll improve in his second season, but that rubbish is for a different article. At right tackle, Marshall Newhouse wasn’t much better; The issue with Newhouse is that he’s been bad all five years he’s been in the league so my pessimism is warranted. Their repulsive linebackers continue to hold back this defense from being anything more than forgettable.
Sam Bradford gets hurt and Carson Wentz is forced into action before he’s ready which stunts his growth. Well, at least they have a stellar group of running backs to rely on and take the pressure off the passing game. Oh wait, they don’t.
The strength of this defense is their line, but the ineptitude of the linebackers will keep this defense from being even average.
To top things off, Philly fans get nauseated when all the players they’ve jettisoned off, have career years while Chip Kelly leads SF to the playoffs.
The big risk is that Kirk Cousins just isn’t as good as what we saw last year.
Matt Jones and company can’t run the ball effectively which wouldn’t be a big leap of faith since he was horrible last year. Jordan Reed can’t stay healthy (also not a leap of faith)
Trent Murphy’s transition to DE doesn’t go smoothly and their front seven continues to struggle.
Back in 2009, When the Denver Broncos were willing to trade Jay Cutler, teams should’ve thought, why? Why would any team let a potential stud at quarterback go when they don’t have
a suitable replacement (don’t try to sell me on Kyle Orton) Over the past 7 seasons, we’ve all been waiting for Cutler’s potential to finally shine through. Seriously? We’re still waiting for this shit?
The Bear’s backfield is underwhelming. Kevin White, their top 10 draft pick from a year ago, might just be more athlete than receiver and their offensive line is atrocious.
Add to this, their secondary could be among the worst in the league.
Worst case scenario? They don’t get the #1 pick in the NFL draft next year somehow.
Another disappointing #1 overall pick, Matthew Stafford, just isn’t all that good. Some might point to his great play at the end of last year, but he’s had stretches like that before only to return to his mediocre ways. The inconsistency was apparent when Calvin Johnson was playing. Stafford is far worse when Calvin missed games.
Not sure if you got the memo, but Calvin retired. Ouch.
Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are talented, but neither is a true #1. Their offensive line won’t open up enough room for Ameer Abdullah and this offense will struggle.
The defense should be better, but their lack of depth in the secondary won’t allow them to keep games close.
Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson, now 31, doesn’t return to his pre-injury level and The Packers realize that it wasn’t just the fat that made Eddie Lacy very ordinary last season. Without a true #1 receiver and a balanced running game, this team won’t fulfill it’s potential.
On defense, if Julius Peppers starts to show his age, this front seven could be vulnerable because there isn’t much to be excited about at linebacker.
29-year old LaDainian Tomlinson had 2365 carries heading into the 2008 season. This was the year it was evident that even an all-time great like Tomlinson would break down eventually. His yards per carry dipped almost a full yard and in fact, his average went from 5.2 in 2006 to 3.8 in 2008. Still effective, sure. Still a viable NFL running back, of course.
Why do I bring this up?
Adrian Peterson is 31-years old and has 2381 carries under his belt. Am I suggesting his career is over? No.
What I am suggesting is that his dominance at the RB position could be over and JUST an above average Adrian Peterson isn’t enough to overcome Norv Turner’s awful play calling.
By the way, Teddy Bridgewater could be really good under a different coordinator who catered the offense to Teddy’s strengths. The fear is, the Vikings will misconstrue Bridgewater’s lack of progress and think maybe he’s not the quarterback for them.
“He turns the light on and stares at her. She cries out and covers her
face. He turns the light off again.”