NFL: Eulogizing the Teams That Didn’t Make It

Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yes, some made the playoffs and then faltered, but some missed the playoffs outright. These teams range from the glorious tanks to the mediocre, the injured, and the underachievers. Let us eulogize those that bowed out early this season.


New England Patriots

When Matt Patricia is your offensive coordinator, chances are you won’t make the playoffs. The haters and pundits were proven right this season and then some. To the delight of the rest of the league, the Pats were horrible and sluggish all season long. This included the worst play in NFL history made by the offense against the Raiders and the special teams imitating the Hindenburg in a season-ending loss to the Bills. That’s not the end of the laughter. Meet their new offensive coordinator. The legendary quarterback whisperer, Bill O’Brien! Buttchin is back, baby! Maybe he can ruin Mac Jones as he did Watson.


New York Jets

The Jets’ season went from shocking promise to another butt-fumble by losing 7 of 8 and six straight to close the year. The main culprit of its demise is, unsurprisingly, the offense. No one envies its quarterback situation. Its options are the Hollister model Zach Wilson, the ribless Mike White, or the washed-up check-down sensei Joe Flacco. They might have fired the offensive coordinator to improve it, but the faulty part in this machine has always been the one under center, just like the last 50 years of the Jets’ history. Robert Saleh has pledged faith in helping Wilson develop, but the Jets pick 13th in this year’s draft. Now watch them trade up and completely renege on this statement.


Cleveland Browns

Aren’t you guys so proud, Cleveland? You guys have officially one-upped the Raiders as the NFL’s resident penal colony. They bring in Deshaun Watson amidst a bevy of accusations, immediately sign him to a $300 million extension, and then watch as he gets suspended for 11 games, essentially tanking their season. Even when Watson returned, he was unsurprisingly out of sorts and rusty. No one feels sorry for them over this. Their high draft pick is now Houston property. Enjoy an offseason of hell.


Pittsburgh Steelers

This year was the rebuilding year for the Steelers; that cannot be denied. It’s disappointing to miss the playoffs via a tiebreaker, but this team has so much potential. That defense, just like the last few years, is stacked. I expect Kenny Pickett to make some strides next year, turn the Steelers into playoff hopefuls, and complete one of the fastest rebuilds in NFL history. Unfortunately, given its habit of not firing coaches, Matt Canada will be around next year to bumble around on the sidelines pretending to be a competent coordinator. The rest of the division thanks them for the trouble.

Houston Texans
Yet another year where the Texans imitate the tank of tanks by completely sucking at all things related to football. This year was another rebuilding year for them, which cannot be denied, but Houston was the worst team in the league by a country mile. It all culminated in a 32-31 win in week 18 to completely ruin their tank and fall to the 2nd overall pick behind Chicago. For his tank-destroying buffoonery disguised as a gutsy play call, Lovie Smith was fired after just one year, the second straight head coach for the Texans to suffer this fate. Bill O’Brien sold this franchise’s soul down the river, and it won’t recover for a while. Thanks to the Bears trading the first pick, I am enjoying missing out on Bryce Young.


Indianapolis Colts

This year for the Colts will go down as the year where it was exposed for the organization that it truly is. Frank Reich may have had his flaws, but he gave the Colts a calming, competent presence that served to veil the true nature of the organization. Reich was undoubtedly a reason why Indy was mired in mediocrity but firing him only exposed the true elements holding back the Colts. Let’s be real; they’re still the NFL’s Glue Factory. They haven’t learned a thing from the Luck situation, and Irsay is content with it being this way if he makes money and doesn’t get stripped of the team. It shows in who he brought in to replace Frank Reich: Jeff Saturday. A dude off of TV who had won a Super Bowl with the Colts, sure, but had never been a head coach past the High School level. The dude may have been a charismatic leader of men, but his tactics and game management were terrible, as everyone but Irsay predicted. He got hired as a yes-man and will probably be around next year, as Indy does the same thing. I feel bad for Chris Ballard. The team and roster he carefully cultivated over the past few years have been completely blown up by the previous regime ruining their franchise quarterback. He will also probably be out of a job next year. What a waste of a contending window.

Tennessee Titans

A team with a four-game lead in its division going into Thanksgiving usually makes the playoffs easily. Guess what the Titans decided to do. They lost seven straight to end the year after starting 7-3. Does ownership recognize the symptoms yet? This is a collapse for the ages. The ’18 Steelers and ’08 Bucs can only cringe in disgust at their failure. Their season started ominously, with Fat Randy choking the game against the Giants and getting massacred by the Bills the following week. Then, they rattled off 7 of 8 in a stretch that had them looking like Super Bowl contenders. Their one loss was with a backup QB to Kansas City.

Then, the collapse. They blew the game against Cincinnati after a lineman ran into the kicker. They got owned by the Eagles the following week, and ownership got so jealous that they fired Jon Robinson. It only got worse from there. Jacksonville destroyed their hope by lording over them and injuring Ryan Tannehill. They lost to the Texans in a game they were favored to dominate. They were dominated against the Cowboys in primetime and then lost on a defensive touchdown against the Jaguars to miss the playoffs. Titans fans can complain about how Dobbs’s arm was going forward all they want, but at the end of the day, the only ones they can blame are themselves. They deserve this failure. Now, it’s time to clean house. Their hack of an Offensive coordinator in Todd Downing has been deservedly axed, but I don’t think that’s enough. The issue with the Titans is Vrabel. Sadly, I don’t trust ownership to do the right thing this off-season. Once again, One Yard Short. Or about five on that last check-down they threw.


Denver Broncos

What a complete and utter disaster. A team hailed as a Super Bowl contender before the year was exposed for who they really were; the biggest frauds in the league. Russ’s cooking had worn off before he even entered the Mile High Kitchen. All he produced were burnt turnovers. In trading for him, they gave away the 5th overall pick in the upcoming draft to Seattle. You’d think his offensive play-caller would coach it out of him, right? Now try saying that about Nathaniel Hackett. The Hack was so bad in his brief stint as head coach that the fanbase castigated him after the first game, and then he was fired before the season was over.

You think the Football Gods would show mercy on them after this? Wrong. Ungodly amounts of injuries befell Denver to the point where they were dressing a rec-league team by the end of the year. Even Chef Russ himself went down with a scary concussion. The crazy part is they had the pieces to go far. They just grossly mismanaged them. Their defense was one of the best in football, but everyone else couldn’t do a thing to back them up. Here’s a telling stat. If the Broncos had scored just 18 points in each game they played, they would have finished the year 10-7. Instead, their offense sputtered around and imitated parking cones as defenses ate them alive all year. Now they have backed up a brinks truck onto Sean Payton’s driveway to salvage the situation. For the sake of everyone else’s sanity, I hope they fail. I need my laughs and punching bags.


Las Vegas Raiders

Well, I bet this was a disappointment for Raider Nation. Rather than keeping around the guy the team responded to in Rich Bisaccia, they went for a proven snake in Josh McDaniels. The results were predictable. Let’s be real: Vegas had next to no chance with that clown at the helm. He has ruined Derek Carr, and who knows where he’ll end up next year. This team is Al Davis’s corpse: rotting under the Vegas Strip and decaying into dust. Such a tragic end.


Washington Football Team

Yes, I know they’re the Commies now, but the memes of the Name Redacted franchise will never die. This year, their perennial failure to launch was brought about by a sluggish start and a furious push to make the playoffs, only to lose to the Cleveland Browns and get eliminated from the playoffs. Ron Rivera may have beaten the stuffing out of cancer, but his expiration date with the team has long passed. Do the right thing this offseason. Sincerely, the rest of the NFL.


Detroit Lions

Sure, they may have missed the playoffs in the end, but I don’t think many Lions fans are too upset over how this season went. They overcame a dreadful 1-6 start, storming back with an 8-2 swing, and only missed the playoffs via a tiebreaker. Even better, they swept the Packers for the first time in 5 years, knocking them out of the playoffs in Week 18. This offseason is going to be an interesting one for the Lions. They will pick 6th overall in this year’s draft, and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with that selection. At least they brought joy to us all by knocking out Green Bay. Speaking of which…


Green Bay Packers

The entirety of the football world dances on their grave. The Packers are uninspiring and mediocre once again. They technically were after getting embarrassed by the Niners last year, but Green Bay’s season was god-awful by their standards. They started 3-1, hope abounded, and then they lost 7 of 8 to knock them almost to the brink. Then, they rattled off four straight to make it to a win-and-in game against Detroit. They beat good teams on this stretch. They looked like a contender. And then they got flat-out exposed by a team that doesn’t have a great defense. This season leaves the Pack with more questions than answers. Yes, their young receiver talent showed promise last year, but Aaron Rodgers is upset and wants out for roughly the third straight off-season now. The Raiders and Jets are potential destinations, but who would want that baggage? The last time a Rodgers trade was rumored, he ended up staying put and signing a 9-figure extension. Green Bay better hope they can get something done in the draft, or he will be playing this year with one foot out the door.

Chicago Bears

Behold, everyone, the 2023 TANK BOWL CHAMPIONS!!! Fortunately for the Bears, they already have their franchise quarterback, so they will probably trade down, potentially fleecing a team desperate for QB help. Redemption for the 2017 draft, I guess? Regardless, this will be a massive off-season for Chicago. Their defense showed promise even after being gutted to hell and back, but their offense was flat at best. Their only means of achieving any moment were 60-yard scrambles by Justin Fields, and that’s just not sustainable. Get an interior line and wide receivers, and they’ll be good. Otherwise, it’ll be the same old ineptitude and tanking next year.


Atlanta Falcons

This season leaves Atlanta with more questions than answers. Things looked promising with a 4-4 start. They beat contenders. They would have been leading the division at their bye week if not for Grady Jarrett existing incorrectly in the same backfield as Tom Brady. Then, everything fell apart. Mariota got hurt again, forcing them to trot out 3rd round pick Desmond Ridder as their starter for the end of the year. He was revealed to be rawer than sushi. Incredibly skittish, making questionable choices and rookie mistakes, and needing serious development. They’re going to have an interesting draft. Drake London is less of a game-changer than Pitts and is also in need of development. I’ll await their choices this offseason.

Carolina Panthers

They tried. That’s all that can be said about their season. At 1-4, their season looked done after they got rid of Matt Rhule. Then, they finished the year in a .500 stretch and made Tampa sweat for the division title. The Panthers are at an exciting point. Darnold isn’t their long-term option, but they could trade up to get their quarterback in the draft. Steve Wilks, for his efforts, will not be around as head coach. Instead, they bring in their old quarterback, Frank Reich, to hopefully recreate the magic of his first few years in Indy. They’re interesting going into this off-season. Really interesting.


New Orleans Saints

Imitations rarely live up to the original, but that’s exactly what the Saints did in replicating last year. Like other seasons, they had a strong start, and injuries and Famous Jameis derailed their season. I said it when they got eliminated, and I’ll say it again: When Andy Dalton is getting first-team reps under center in this day and age, you’re done. They will probably go for a quarterback this draft, since Jameis has shown he isn’t ready to be their long-term answer. At least their defense looks good.


Los Angeles Rams

What a mess. The defending champs’ season was over by week 5- literally. Everyone remaining from last year’s Super Bowl got injured or underperformed dramatically. Matthew Stafford, their golden gunslinger under center, was knocked out of action with a neck injury and never returned to play. Their backup, John Wolford, copy-pasted Stafford’s injury, and he, too, was out for the year. With their 3rd string option in Bryce Perkins flopping, they were forced to claim Baker Mayfield off of waivers. He did okay, but the damage was already done. You think the injuries are done? Oh no, there’s even more of a price for that Super Bowl. Next up, their skill positions. Cooper Kupp went down with a high-ankle sprain. Ben Skowronick suffered the same injury. Aaron Donald was struck down midway through on defense and would never return to the field. What’s even worse? Typically, the Rams would receive a high draft pick considering how bad their season was. But remember last year, when they traded all their picks to buy rentals for their Super Bowl run? Guess who’s picking 6th overall in their place this year? Detroit. They laugh in the background as Stafford might not play another down. But they got their ring, though! That’s all that matters, right, Kroenke?

Arizona Cardinals

The injury bowl is a prestigious award that I give at the end of every football season. Unfortunately, I forgot to award it in my week 18 recap along with the Tank Bowl title, so this will have to do instead. Behold one of the most banged-up teams in the NFL. Their entire offense was suspended or injured for most of the year. It got so bad that they were forced to start Colt McCoy on multiple occasions. The coup de gras was Kyler Murray tearing his ACL on a non-contact play. And now he might not be able to play until the middle of the season next year, meaning he will be stuck on his couch playing Call of Duty instead of watching film. Cardinals, you can have no nice things. Kindly go back to being mediocre and uninspired.


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