A friend asked me yesterday at lunch which NFL team has had the most disappointing season to date. He thought it was a slam-dunk that I would pick the NY Giants who made the playoffs last year and who have stunk in spades this year. I agreed with him that the Giants had to get strong consideration for this label, but I said that I wanted time to think about two other teams that have disappointed themselves and their fans. Let me present my troika here:
- NY Giants: They have gone from 11-5 last year to a 2-10 record to date where the team has been outscored by 98 points; that is the worst point differential in the NFC – even worse than the Niners. To a degree, however, the Giants were a mirage last year. The defense played over its head and carried a flawed roster to a winning record. The Giants cannot run the ball and they cannot protect the QB; the roster is seriously flawed; injuries exposed the flaws dramatically.
- Denver Broncos: It was not all that long ago that the Broncos were Super Bowl champions; this year they are 3-9 and they have been outscored by 109 points. As with the Giants, the Broncos’ top-shelf defense masked fundamental problems on the offense – the most serious of which is the lack of a QB who is merely a caretaker. It appears that losing Wade Philips as the defensive coordinator was a serious loss for the team.
- Oakland Raiders: They made the playoffs last year and lost quickly because they had to play without Derek Carr in the playoffs. With him healthy, everyone thought they would be in the playoffs again and might be the AFC rep to the Super Bowl in February 2018. As of this morning the Raiders are 6-6 and have been outscored by 29 points despite that .500 record. I think I want to identify the Raiders as the team that has disappointed its fans the most in 2017 because I thought they had a better chance to go to the Super Bowl than either the Giants or the Broncos.
Why have the Raiders been so disappointing? How did they go from 12-4 last year to 6-6 as of this morning? Let me offer 4 reasons:
- For some reason, the Raiders changed offensive coordinators in the off-season. I have no idea why that happened because the Raiders’ offense last year was the main reason the team made the playoffs.
- The Raiders’ offensive line took a big step back in terms of effectiveness from 2016 to 2017.
- The Raiders signed Marshawn Lynch who has been mediocre at best at RB – until he broke a long TD run last week in a win over the hapless Giants. I wish the NSA would release transcripts of phone calls and/or e-mails between the members of the Raiders’ Front Office regarding this signing. I would not be surprised to learn that it was done as a marketing ploy to the fans in Oakland to get them to forget that the Raiders are leaving town soon. Lynch is “Mr. Oakland” and this smells like a ticket-selling operation to me.
- The Raiders hired John Pagano to be the “Assistant Head Coach-Defense”. I do not know John Pagano from John Adams, but I do know this. When an entity adds an extra layer of management, the results are usually negative and often very negative. Regarding the Raiders’ defense in 2017, the result on the field was “very negative”. Is that John Pagano’s fault? I do not know. What I do know is that the defensive coordinator – Ken Norton, Jr. – was fired in mid-season.
Speaking of “disappointing”, I was doing some historical research related to the ongoing futility of the Cleveland Browns’ franchise – candidly, I am not sure why I was looking stuff up, but I ran across this information and copied it onto my clipboard. The Browns have been part of the NFL since 1950 – save for that brief hiatus in the late 1990s when Cleveland lost the team temporarily until it decided to build a new stadium for a franchise. From 1950 to 1970, the Browns had two head coaches – Paul Brown and Blanton Collier. The two of them combined to produce a team record of 194-87-7. Brown and Collier are the two winningest coaches in franchise history.
Since 1970, however, things have been less than wonderful. The Browns have had 17 head coaches in 44 seasons (remember, they did not exist from ’96-’98) and of those 17 head coaches, only 2 left Cleveland with a winning record:
- Nick Skorich was 30-24-2 from 1971-1975
- Marty Schottenheimer was 44-27-0 from 1984-1988.
Now comes the datum that surprised me. Marty Schottenheimer left the Browns 30 years ago; the team has played 27 seasons since then under 12 head coaches. None has had a winning record; that is no surprise to me. However, the Browns’ coach with the most wins since 1989 is Bill Belichick. In fact, of the 19 head coaches for the Browns’ franchise, Belichick ranks 5th in total wins – – and just about everyone considers his time in Cleveland as a “failure”.
Jimmy Traina reported on SI.com that Rafael Palmiero is “considering a comeback” with a major league team next year; Palmiero will be 53 years old. Reporting on that supposed comeback made it to the local sports radio yakkers yesterday and to Pardon the Interruption and to one of the studio shows on MLB Network. Pardon my cynicism here, but my first thought was to wonder why this was even worth reporting in the first place – let alone worth talking about in a semi-serious context. Then I realized that this is a baseball story; this is December; there has not been a lot of “off-season action” to date; the Giancarlo Stanton trade stories and the “Whither Shohei Ohtani” stories have been done to death; so – – any port in a storm.
Finally, Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald had this comment regarding Scott Frost returning to the University of Nebraska as the new head football coach:
“Scott Frost has accepted the coaching job at Nebraska. At about 4 p.m. Saturday, a group of Nebraskans stormed Mount Rushmore and began carving Frost’s visage.
“This may explain why my “Bring Bret Bielema to Lincoln” rally was sparsely attended Friday night.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………