What went wrong
The common denominator among the NFL’s sad-sack squads are quarterback issues and coaching instability
you probably already have a good idea how the NFL’s best teams are faring, as the season enters its final four weekends. before we forget about the teams at the other end of the success spectrum until the pre-draft cycle kicks in after the Super bowl, let’s look at what went wrong for the 13 teams with losing records entering Week 14, listed in approximate draft order if the season ended now.
It’s important to note that of the 13, eight teams now start a different quarterback from Week 1, either because of performance or injuries. also, two teams already have fired their head coach, and seven already have fired a co-ordinator or key assistant coach. they won’t be the last.
Oakland Raiders RECORD: 2-10
WINS: cleveland (Ot), at arizona. WEEK 1 QB: derek carr. WEEK 14 QB: derek carr.
HEAD COACH STATUS: Jon Gruden (1st year). Presumably as safe as safe gets. Has nine more years to go on the reported 10-year, $100-million contract owner mark davis gave him in January.
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: No.
WHAT HAPPENED: Gruden blew up a roster and shipped away two of Oakland’s most talented players, arguably the game’s greatest pass rusher in Khalil mack, and Wr amari cooper. No NFL coach/ executive made more head-scratching moves in 2018. Lost his locker-room early.
San Francisco 49ers RECORD: 2-10
WINS: detroit, Oakland.
WEEK 1 QB: Jimmy Garoppolo.
WEEK 14 QB: Nick mullens.
HEAD COACH STATUS: Kyle Shanahan (2nd year). Presumably safe, but with impatient Jed york running the Niners, who is on his third head coach since he ran Jim Harbaugh (.695 in four years) out of San Fran in december, you never know.
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: No.
WHAT HAPPENED: Garoppolo going down in September with a torn acL killed the Niners’ season, full stop. c.J. beathard proved no better in year 2 — two losses to arizona in October, c’mon man — then he got hurt. mullens stepped in and flashed promise in a win over Oakland, but little since. there’s so much roster work for Gm John Lynch to still do.
New York Jets RECORD: 3-9
WINS: at detroit, denver, Indianapolis.
WEEK 1 QB: Sam darnold (r-rookie).
WEEK 14 QB: Sam darnold (r) or Josh mccown. HEAD COACH STATUS: todd bowles (4th year). Widely accepted he’ll be fired at season’s end. Is 23-37 (.383) with no playoff berths, although came close in 2015. ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: No.
WHAT HAPPENED: Starting a 21-year-old rookie Qb with a weak roster on both sides of the ball does not a recipe for a good year make. after blowing out detroit in the opener, little has gone right. Over his last three starts before suffering a foot injury in early November, darnold completed just 47 per cent for two tds, seven picks and a 43.3 passer rating.
Arizona Cardinals RECORD: 3-9
WINS: at San Francisco, San Francisco, at Green bay.
WEEK 1 QB: Sam bradford.
WEEK 14 QB: Josh rosen (r).
HEAD COACH STATUS: Steve Wilks (1st year). In serious danger of being a one-anddone.
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: WHAT HAPPENED:the
yes. Offensive coordinator mike mccoy, after Week 6.
cards are a mess.
It’s not often you read numerous accounts before december explaining why a franchise must move on from its first-year head coach. On both sides of the ball this team has been a disaster in 2018. Offensively the cards still rank last despite mccoy’s firing eight weeks ago, and defensively they can’t stop the run or intercept the ball.
Buffalo Bills RECORD: 4-8
WINS: at minnesota, tennessee, at Ny Jets, Jacksonville.
WEEK 1 QB: Nathan Peterman.
WEEK 14 QB: Josh allen (r).
HEAD COACH STATUS: Sean mcdermott (2nd year). Safe, and should be. Has done an exceptionally good job in his specialty, coaching up the defence. Only blind spot is a big one: Qb assessment and management. Oh, and in-game coaching challenges (he’s 1-for-9).
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: No, but mcdermott at times has taken over defensive playcalling from coordinator Leslie Frazier.
WHAT HAPPENED: repeated misguided mismanagement at Qb, based on a string of faulty assessments. march free-agent signee a.J. mccarron did not pan out as veteran bridge Qb. Peterman remained historically bad, but it took more than two months to finally cut him. that led to the emergency signing and starting of old, inept derek anderson. massively disappointing Wr Kelvin benjamin another impactful offensive roster whiff.
Jacksonville Jaguars RECORD: 4-9
WINS: at Ny Giants, New england, Ny Jets, Indianapolis. WEEK 1 QB: blake bortles. WEEK 14 QB: cody Kessler. HEAD COACH STATUS: doug marrone (2nd year). On the hot seat, big time. director of football ops tom coughlin is more animated during games than the entire disney film vault.
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: yes. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, after Week 12.
WHAT HAPPENED: In two words, blake bortles. blame coughlin, Gm david caldwell and marrone for deciding to re-sign the fifth-year Qb in February to a three-year, $54-million contract with $26.5 million guaranteed. bortles was so bad before being benched two weeks ago that without a starfilled defence, the Jags easily could be winless.
New York Giants RECORD: 4-8
WINS: at Houston, at San Francisco, tampa bay, chicago (Ot). WEEK 1 QB: eli manning. WEEK 14 QB: eli manning.
HEAD COACH STATUS: Pat Shurmur (1st year). Likely safe. Has made mistakes. but won’t confirm or share the frustrations he shows on the sideline during games.
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: No.
WHAT HAPPENED: No. 2 overall draft pick rb Saquon barkley has been as advertised, and a good Wr corps remained healthy. but the OL remains the big problem, and manning’s pocket courage was aWOL early on. also, an injury-pocked defence never came around.
Detroit Lions RECORD: 4-8
WINS: New england, Green bay, at miami, carolina.
WEEK 1 QB: matthew Stafford. WEEK 14 QB: matthew Stafford. HEAD COACH STATUS: matt Patricia (1st year). Probably safe. Whether he should be is another matter. Looks for all the world like he could be the latest ex-belichick assistant who brought his mentor’s arrogance and media aversion, but not the coaching acumen. ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: yes. Special teams coordinator Joe marciano, after Week 8.
WHAT HAPPENED: For starters, getting blown right out of Ford Field in every way in the monday-night opener, by a bad Jets team. Season could not have got off to a worse start. even thumping New england in prime time in Week 3 didn’t provide much momentum. Offence and defence are taking turns being the Lions’ biggest disappointment. as always. Atlanta Falcons RECORD: 4-8 WINS: carolina, tampa bay, Ny Giants, at Washington. WEEK 1 QB: matt ryan. WEEK 14 QB: matt ryan. HEAD COACH STATUS: dan Quinn (4th year). On the bbQ seat. that Super bowl berth two years ago might as well be 20 years ago. Since then: 14-14, with ryan and Julio Jones another
year closer to retirement.
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: No.
WHAT HAPPENED: Last year’s offensive blips have grown into full-blown dysfunction. With this talent how can atlanta not be an offensive juggernaut? and be worst in the league at rushing? defence has been ravaged by injuries, but still shouldn’t be among the NFL’s worst in the red zone, on third down and in almost everything else. Green Bay Packers RECORD: 4-7-1 WINS: chicago, buffalo, San Francisco, miami. WEEK 1 QB: aaron rodgers. WEEK 14 QB: aaron rodgers. HEAD COACH STATUS: mike mccarthy, fired after Week 13. Joe Philbin, interim. ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: yes.
Linebackers coach Winston moss, this week, in part for tweeting less than harmonious comments.
WHAT HAPPENED: In what had been brewing for years, rodgers and offensive play-calling head coach mccarthy reportedly agreed less and less on what kind of offence to run, and what plays to run in a given game. to the point the Packers offence now is constantly sputtering. also, O-line and secondary injuries again undermined this team.
Cleveland Browns RECORD: 4-7-1
WINS: Ny Jets, baltimore (Ot), atlanta, at cincinnati
WEEK 1 QB: tyrod taylor. WEEK 14 QB: baker mayfield (r).
HEAD COACH STATUS: Hue Jackson (third year), fired after Week 8. Gregg Williams, interim.
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: yes. Offensive coordinator todd Haley, also after Week 8.
WHAT HAPPENED: taylor was a shorterterm bridge Qb than expected, over troubled waters. Once he ascended to starter before October, it’s now clear that mayfield didn’t respect either Jackson or Haley, who’d clashed all year until their joint dismissals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RECORD: 5-7
WINS: at New Orleans, Philadelphia, cleveland (Ot), San Francisco, carolina. WEEK 1 QB: ryan Fitzpatrick.
WEEK 14 QB: Jameis Winston. HEAD COACH STATUS: dirk Koetter (3rd year). He’s on late-april ice, it’s so thin. barring a december to remember, he’ll be the latest in a line of forgetful bucs coaches this decade. ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: yes. defensive coordinator mike Smith, after Week 6. WHAT HAPPENED: despite all that September “Fitzmagic,” the bucs defence was downright dreadful. Since then, the Fitzpatrick/ Winston Qb carousel has wobbled. each has had two stints as starter, for a combined 32
(!) turnovers: Fitz 16 (12 picks, four fumbles); Winston 16 (11 picks, five fumbles).
Cincinnati Bengals RECORD: 5-7 WINS: at Indianapolis, baltimore, at atlanta, miami, tampa bay. WEEK 1 QB: andy dalton.
WEEK 14 QB: Jeff Driskel. HEAD COACH STATUS: marvin Lewis (16th year). Who knows? If owner mike brown hasn’t fired Lewis yet after zero playoff wins, and no playoff appearances since 2015, what’s his breaking point?
ANY ASSISTANTS FIRED YET?: yes. defensive coordinator teryl austin, after Week 10.
WHAT HAPPENED: Nothing much after a
4-2 start. dalton got off to a hot start, which peaked with the unlikely last-minute comeback he led in a 37-36 win at atlanta in Week 4. then the schedule got more difficult. dalton and star Wr a.J. Green are now gone for the year with injuries.
The 49ers’ once-promising season went down the tubes early when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore up his knee. GETTY IMAGES