why the nfl’s 13 worst teams are so bad

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Prob­a­bly you 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 are now start­ing 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 (first 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 WENT WRONG: 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 lock­er­room 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 (sec­ond year). Pre­sum­ably safe, but with im­pa­tient Jed York run­ning the Nin­ers, who’s 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 WENT WRONG: 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 still so much roster work to do for GM John Lynch. NEW YORK JETS RECORD: 3-9 WINS: at Detroit, Den­ver, In­di­anapo­lis WEEK 1 QB: Sam Darnold

(rookie) WEEK 14 QB: Darnold or Josh McCown

HEAD COACH STA­TUS: Todd Bowles (fourth year). Widely ac­cepted he’ll be fired at sea­son’s end. He’s 23-37 (.383) with no play­off berths, al­though he came close in 2015. ANY AS­SIS­TANTS FIRED YET? No WHAT WENT WRONG: Start­ing a 21-year-old rookie QB with a weak roster on both sides of the ball isn’t a recipe for a good year. 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 of his throws 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 (rookie) HEAD COACH STA­TUS: Steve Wilks (first year). In se­ri­ous dan­ger of be­ing a one-and-done.


Yes. Of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Mike McCoy, af­ter Week 6. WHAT WENT WRONG: The Car­di­nals 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 Car­di­nals 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 N.Y. Jets, Jack­sonville

WEEK 1 QB: Nathan Peter­man WEEK 14 QB: Josh Allen (rookie) HEAD COACH STA­TUS: Sean McDer­mott (sec­ond year). Safe, and should be. He’s 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 play-call­ing du­ties from co-or­di­na­tor Leslie Fra­zier. WHAT WENT WRONG: Re­peated mis­man­age­ment of the quar­ter­back po­si­tion, based on a string of faulty as­sess­ments. March free agent signee A.J. McCar­ron didn’t pan out. 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 pivot Derek An­der­son. Mas­sively dis­ap­point­ing re­ceiver Kelvin Ben­jamin was an­other im­pact­ful of­fen­sive roster whiff.

JACK­SONVILLE JAGUARS RECORD: 4-9 WINS: at N.Y. Gi­ants, New Eng­land, N.Y. Jets, In­di­anapo­lis WEEK 1 QB: Blake Bor­tles WEEK 14 QB: Cody Kessler HEAD COACH STA­TUS: Doug Mar­rone (sec­ond 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 co-or­di­na­tor Nathaniel Hack­ett, af­ter Week 12. WHAT WENT WRONG: 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 (first year). Likely safe. He’s made mis­takes, but won’t con­firm or share the frus­tra­tions he shows on the side­line dur­ing games. ANY AS­SIS­TANTS FIRED YET? No

WHAT WENT WRONG: 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.


WINS: New Eng­land, Green Bay, at Mi­ami, Carolina WEEK 1 QB: Matthew Stafford WEEK 14 QB: Matthew Stafford HEAD COACH STA­TUS: Matt Pa­tri­cia (first year). Prob­a­bly safe. Whether he should be is an­other mat­ter. Looks for all the world like he could be the lat­est for­mer Belichick as­sis­tant who brought his men­tor’s ar­ro­gance and me­dia aver­sion, but not the coach­ing acu­men. ANY AS­SIS­TANTS FIRED YET?

Yes. Spe­cial teams co-or­di­na­tor Joe Mar­ciano, af­ter Week 8. WHAT WENT WRONG: Forstarters, get­ting blown right out of Ford Field in ev­ery way in the Mon­day night opener by a bad Jets team. Their sea­son couldn’t 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, N.Y. Gi­ants, at Wash­ing­ton

WEEK 1 QB: Matt Ryan

WEEK 14 QB: Matt Ryan

HEAD COACH STA­TUS: Dan Quinn (fourth year). On the bar­be­cue seat. That Su­per Bowl berth two years ago might as well be 20 years ago. Since then the Fal­cons are 14-14, with Ryan and Julio Jones an­other year closer to re­tire­ment. ANY AS­SIS­TANTS FIRED YET? No WHAT WENT WRONG: Last year’s of­fen­sive blips have grown into full-blown dys­func­tion. With this tal­ent, how can At­lanta not be an of­fen­sive jug­ger­naut? And how can they be worst in the league at rush­ing ? The de­fence has been rav­aged by in­juries, but still shouldn’t be among the NFL’s worst in the red zone, on third down and 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 is the in­terim coach.


Yes. Lineback­ers coach Win­ston Moss, this week, in part for tweet­ing less than har­mo­nious com­ments. WHAT WENT WRONG: 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.


WINS: N.Y. Jets, Bal­ti­more (OT), At­lanta, at Cincin­nati WEEK 1 QB: Ty­rod Taylor WEEK 14 QB: Baker May­field


HEAD COACH STA­TUS: Hue Jack­son (third year), fired af­ter Week 8. Gregg Wil­liams is the in­terim coach. ANY AS­SIS­TANTS FIRED YET?

Yes. Of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Todd Haley, also af­ter Week 8. WHAT WENT WRONG: Tay­lor­was a shorter-term bridge QB than ex­pected, over trou­bled wa­ters. It’s now clear that May­field didn’t re­spect ei­ther Jack­son or Haley, who had 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 (third 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 co-or­di­na­tor Mike Smith, af­ter Week 6.

WHAT WENT WRONG: De­spite all that Septem­ber “FitzMagic,” the Bucs’ de­fence was dread­ful. Since then, the Ryan Fitzpatrick/ Jameis Win­ston QB carousel has wob­bled. They have com­bined for 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 co-or­di­na­tor Teryl Austin, af­ter Week 10. WHAT WENT WRONG: 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 big­gest fall from grace in the NFL this sea­son has been the de­cline of the Jack­sonville Jaguars. The Jags went from play­off team to 4-9, due in great part to the poor play of quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles, who even­tu­ally lost his job af­ter sign­ing a big-money con­tract.


The Oak­land Raiders are 2-10 de­spite hav­ing signed head coach Jon Gru­den to a 10-year, $100-mil­lion con­tract. The de­cline of quar­ter­back Derek Carr has been prob­lem­atic.


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