What went wrong

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

Winnipeg Sun - - SPORTS -

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?: Yes. Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Mccoy, af­ter Week 6.

WHAT HAP­PENED:THE 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.

GETTY IM­AGES

The 49ers’ once-promis­ing sea­son went down the tubes early when quar­ter­back Jimmy Garop­polo tore up his knee.

Oak­land Raiders head coach/gm Jon Gru­den (left) has made a lot of puz­zling moves this sea­son. Be­low, the Bucs have flip-flopped be­tween Ryan Fitzpatrick (left) and Jameis Win­ston at QB all year, with lit­tle suc­cess. Bot­tom, QB Blake Bor­tles’ lousy play is the prime rea­son why the Jaguars won’t be re­peat­ing as a play­off team.

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