There’s an undesirable place nobody wants to find themselves stuck inside. It’s a place in which the waters are tepid and barely ripple. A place that produces no real movement up or down. This place is called the doldrums of mediocrity. And it’s where some NFL teams just cannot escape from these days.
These are the teams that are stuck in that place.
The last time Washington won a playoff game was way back after the 2005 regular season. Since then, this franchise has made it to the postseason just twice, losing in the Wild Card Round both times. In the five seasons of the Jay Gruden era, the team has made just one playoff appearance and has an overall record of 35-44.
Consistently poor decisions in free agency (that seem to be continuing to this day), and an incredible amount of dysfunction within the front office, have doomed this team to mediocrity. It’s hard to see Washington emerging out of this funk any time soon.
New York Giants
Unlike some of the other teams on this list, New York has some solid recent history on its side, having won a Super Bowl after the 2011 season. Since that point, however, it’s pretty much been all downhill for the organization. The Giants haven’t won a single playoff game since that title, and they have a combined record of 47-58 since 2012.
Much of the team’s decline can be traced to the simple fact that Eli Manning isn’t an elite quarterback and has actually been trending down himself for the past few years. Hopefully comments made by general manager Dave Gettleman signal better days to come.
The last time the Dolphins won a playoff game was way back in 2000. That streak looks to continue this year. It’s rough being in the same division as the New England Patriots. Yet the Dolphins haven’t done themselves any favors. Going all the way back to their decision to abstain from signing Drew Brees because of his darn shoulder problem, Miami has blundered at the quarterback position.
Most recently, the team finally ended the Ryan Tannehill experiment. Now the Dolphins are rolling with some FitzMagic as they attempt to tank for a top quarterback in 2020. Whether Ryan Fitzpatrick follows that plan remains to be seen. He could be just good enough to scuttle the whole project.
Before the 2017 season, Buffalo hadn’t even sniffed the playoffs since the Clinton administration. The Bills haven’t won a playoff game since 1995. It’s been a long, long time since this team had any real success.
More recently, Buffalo has won between six and nine games the past eight years running. That’s the very definition of mediocre. Is there any room for hope things will finally change going forward? It all hinges on the development of young quarterback Josh Allen, but the Bills are making the right moves around him to make it happen.
It almost feels a bit too optimistic even to say the Jaguars have been mired in mediocrity the past decade-plus. There is one bright spot, which was last year’s run at the AFC Championship Game. Yet remove that one shining moment and you’re looking at a team that has gotten to the .500 mark just once and has a record of 47-113 (not counting the 2017 season) since 2008.
To say that drafting Blake Bortles No. 3 overall in 2014 set the organization back would be an understatement. What’s even worse is that Jacksonville doubled down, going so far as to extend him last year. And now, the team has pinned its hopes on Nick Foles, who very much could be fool’s gold.
The Lions have posted just two double-digit-win seasons in the past 23 years. This is a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1991 season. It’s a team that has gotten to the playoffs just three times since the turn of the new century.
Detroit is also a franchise that has seen its two top stars in recent times — Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson — call it a career while they were still in their prime. Doldrums, indeed.
The last time the Bengals won in the playoffs was (squints and shakes head in disbelief) after the 1990 regular season. Losing Super Bowl XXIII in such dramatic style to the San Francisco 49ers seems to have completely broken the organization. Owner Mike Brown has since made a series of unfortunate hires at the head coaching position and famously stuck with Marvin Lewis for 16 years.
Looking ahead, it’s hard to know if things have any hope of changing with young Zac Taylor at the helm. He’s extremely inexperienced and still has a mediocre quarterback in Andy Dalton. Chances are, if the Bengals do find their way out of this funk, it’ll take some time.
A decade ago, the Titans were pretty darn good for a while. Since then, this team has struggled to hit the .500 mark, though the past three years have resulted in 9-7 finishes. A string of bad head-coaching hires and poor quarterback decisions have led to a 68-92 overall record since the start of the 2009 season.
Even now, though Mike Vrabel appears to be a solid head coach, Tennessee has the makings of a team that will remain stuck in the middle. In an era when most top teams have top offenses, the Titans are a run-first, defensive-minded franchise without a legitimate franchise passer.