There’s nothing worse than being stuck between okay and awful. When you suck, there’s a bottom and you can push off to gain elevation and recover. But being anchored in mediocrity offers little to no chance of recovery without drastic changes all around.
That’s the state we find a handful of NFL teams in this summer — teams that are simply stuck in the muck of mediocrity without any apparent way out.
These five teams need a miracle to avoid a disappointing season in 2020, and beyond.
It hasn’t been that long since the Eagles won a Super Bowl, so why are they on this list? First of all, Nick Foles is long gone, and he was the catalyst for that victory over New England in Super Bowl 52. Secondly, the team’s roster has a few big holes that have only been exasperated by a brutal injury to a top starter this offseason.
Pro Bowl left guard Brandon Brooks will miss the entire 2020 season with a torn Achilles tendon. That hurts big time. The Eagles are also weak up the middle defensively and need better edge rushers. Big-money receiver Alshon Jeffery is coming off an injury, and so is veteran burner DeSean Jackson. Rookie Jalen Reagor may take time to blossom as well. Finally, we’re not convinced Carson Wentz is as good as the Eagles think he is.
Los Angeles Rams
General manager Les Snead has swung for the fences in recent years. If not for Jared Goff choking down the stretch during the team’s Super Bowl run after the 2018 season, his moves might have been seen as savvy. Unfortunately, the ultimate result of Snead’s home-run swing was a strikeout. Now the franchise is in deep trouble with a ton of talent out the door and an overpaid quarterback who hasn’t lived up to the billing.
The big issue with the Rams is that Goff took a significant step back in the 2018 playoffs and never recovered last year. Given this franchise’s position as an NFC West team, more of the same would be brutal going forward. This division is stacked. Given the way the Rams had to purge their roster of big contracts this offseason, they may be the worst team in it.
When the Bears hired Matt Nagy away from the Kansas City Chiefs, I was one of the first to jump for joy that an offense worthy of contention might finally be back in the Windy City. Two things have happened since then. First, Mitchell Trubisky turned into a colossal bust. Secondly, Nagy hasn’t been the offensive mastermind we thought he was.
Those two failings have sent the Bears hurtling down the NFL rankings. Despite featuring an elite roster of defensive talent, Chicago is a tough out but not a threat to most contending teams. Perhaps Nick Foles will win the quarterback competition and lead the offense to greener pastures. But given how he looked last year in Jacksonville, we’re not counting on it.
Okay, so using the word “mediocre” to describe the Jaguars may be stretching the truth a bit. This franchise has been mostly awful since drafting Blaine Gabbert 10th overall in 2011 — sporting one winning season in the last nine years. The reason we’re including Jacksonville here is that this franchise seems destined to remain a five- to eight-win team for the foreseeable future.
The Jags have a penchant for running their best players out of town. Yannick Ngakoue is arguably their best defender right now, and he wants out as fast as possible. The defense — once among the NFL’s best — took a significant step backward last year and gave up 397 points. If 2019 sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew doesn’t turn into the second coming of Tom Brady, this team is doomed to stay in the basement for the foreseeable future.
New York Jets
Hiring Adam Gase appears to have been the wrong move. That was almost immediately evident last summer when his odd introductory press conference turned into a meme factory. Then, he alienated his top offensive weapon in Le’Veon Bell. From there, things never really got better.
This past offseason, new general manager Joe Douglas tried to fill some of the team’s huge roster holes in free agency. We recently dove into the moves and determined they were not likely to be good enough to fix all the issues. On top of that, quarterback Sam Darnold has shown some elite traits, but overall he still has a long way to go until he’s done seeing ghosts.