What went wrong

The com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor among the NFL’s sad-sack squads are quar­ter­back is­sues and coach­ing in­sta­bil­ity

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - JOHN KRYK

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

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