An 0-2 start is a near-death hole
once again this year the NFL is selling hope, hard, for slow-starting teams.
“Since realignment in 2002,” an item in a news release previewing Week 2 says, “116 of the 192 playoff teams (60.4 percent) began the year either 1-1 or 0-2, including eight division champions ”
the intended takeaway? as the item’s all-caps lead-in words state: “No Need to paNIC.” Well, yes, there bloody well is if your record is 0-1 right now.
because if you separate the teams over the past 10 years that started 0-2 from the 1-1s, you’ll find that nearly all 0-2 teams failed to reach the post-season.
a dive by postmedia into NFL records from 2008-17 shows that only 7.5 per cent of playoff teams (9-of-120) lost their first two games. and if you go back only nine seasons, not 10, the playoff likelihood for 0-2 teams drops to 5.6 per cent (6-of-108).
this Sunday and monday, 14 NFL teams that lost in Week 1 hope to avoid that 0-2 near-death hole. they are:
atlanta Falcons, buffalo bills, Chicago bears, dallas Cowboys, detroit Lions, houston texans, Indianapolis Colts, Los angeles Chargers, New orleans Saints, New york giants, oakland raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, tennessee titans.
Five Week 2 games feature nothing but 0-1 teams: Chargers at bills, texans at titans, Lions at 49ers, giants at Cowboys and Seahawks at bears.
a sixth game pits 0-1 New orleans vs. 0-0-1 Cleveland, which tied pittsburgh last Sunday.
players and coaches on these teams this week spoke about their potentially ominous predicaments, and the importance of avoiding the dreaded 0-2 start.
texans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney said one key is to come out storming in Week 2. houston’s foe is tennessee, an aFC South rival.
“(tempers are) going to be high,” Clowney said. “you know we’re not trying to lose a division game. We’re not trying to go 0-2 this season. I’m expecting us to come out rolling and try to get after those guys early.”
the giants play at similarly winless dallas on Sunday night. New york safety Landon Collins, whose team started 0-2 last year before losing the next three and finishing 3-13, didn’t sugar-coat what a loss at at&t Stadium would mean.
“It’s a big hole, especially in this conference,” Collins said. “So we need this game. We need this win. It’s definitely big to us.”
giants receiver odell beckham Jr., in labeling Sunday night’s game “very” important, said that barring a tie, someone has to lose to fall to 0-2.
“might as well not be you,” he added. “there’s no feeling like winning. Just the overall feeling of everybody in the locker room knowing we did what we had to do We know the importance of this game. We know you don’t want to get 0-2 and start the season off that way. “We plan to come out and win.” ah, but how best to go about doing it? giants receiver Sterling Shepard said it’s vital not to dwell on the disappointment of the Week 1 loss.
“you just got to flush it down the toilet and get right back to work,” he said. “I think that’s the main thing — having guys that have a short memory. you take a loss, you learn from it. Come in, and you prepare for next week.”
New Lions head coach matt patricia is feeling the heat already in detroit, after a disastrous debut defeat, at home, to the New york Jets on monday night. as horribly as his team played in all phases in its 48-17 defeat, patricia by Wednesday was done talking about it, waving off question after question pertaining to the debacle.
“you can’t let one week lead into another week,” he said by way of explanation. “you have to learn, and unfortunately, on a very short week we have to learn quickly.”
In other words, it’s on to San Francisco.
the bills might have the steepest mountain to climb of any of the winless teams, even more than detroit. the bills got smoked 47-3 in baltimore by the ravens, in a game when almost nothing went right for buffalo on either offence or defence. Now the club is asking rookie quarterback Josh allen to win his first NFL start, in the bills’ home opener vs. the Chargers.
“the hardest part (is) just how we lost the game, and coming home (thinking), ‘damn, we just got our butts kicked,’ ” said running back LeSean mcCoy, a bills captain. “I was trying to remind guys that we lost like that last year, put it together (and) became a playoff team. No matter how you look at it, it may be embarrassing how we lost, but it’s just one loss. We’re not 0-5, 0-6; it’s 0-1, and the way you respond to a loss like that is win.
“to put things in perspective, we’ll be 1-1 after this game if we go out there and play well and win the game. you keep rolling. It’s the NFL. these teams are good; we didn’t come to play (in baltimore), simple as that. they did, we lost. Now it’s how you respond.”
mcCoy said captains provided the swath of young bills players with this additional message:
“guys have pride; that’s the biggest thing. also, one thing about this league, when a team does well, when a team wins, you forget about everything else in the past. We might’ve gotten beat by 43 points, 40 points, we come out here and win a game by one point, win game by a field goal – we’re moving on. It’s a win. We win the next game by a point, all that before doesn’t even matter.”
two NFL teams are tied for the longest active streak of 0-2 starts. No, one of them isn’t the browns, surprisingly. rather, it’s the Saints and Colts. both are in danger of beginning the fifth consecutive season at 0-2.
“It is certainly something that you pay attention to, and you look at from a coaching perspective,” Saints head coach Sean payton said. “I think that a few years prior, we were not very good. Last year, we started off with two tough opponents. We did not play particularly well in the second game, and fortunately, we started winning some games. this obviously is a competitive league.
“regardless ... it still comes down to both mental and physical preparation and (being) ready to play well early. (all) teams right now are in a race to improve. often times, that can happen a lot in the early part of a season.”
as for the lowly browns – who ended their 17-game losing streak that had begun in 2016 with their 21-21 tie against the Steelers, but extended their winless skid to 18 games – this Sunday’s game in New orleans is “another opportunity to earn a victory,” head coach hue Jackson said.
then he added an unnecessary point for someone whose record as browns head coach since 2016 is 1-31-1 (.045) and whose overall NFL coaching record is 9-39-1 (.194):
“obviously, victories are hard in this league.”
yes they are. especially if you open the season 0-2.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman is tackled by the Baltimore Ravens’ Za’Darius Smith during their game on Sept. 9. The Bills hope to avoid and 0-2 start when they play the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.