Which NFL teams are on their way to being really bad?

It’s pretty well known around here that the Raiders, Tampa, KC, and even the Rams were powerhouse teams just a few years ago, 2 of them facing each other in the Superbowl. Through some combination of age, injury, retirement, or bad management, they’ve all fallen apart and are always considered the underdogs.

Which current teams are on their way down? Who will be the next Oakland?

Playoff teams from 2008: Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens, Titans, Colts, Chargers, Giants, Eagles, Vikings, Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals.

This years’ current playoff contenders: Pats, Bengals, Colts, Chargers, Cowboys, Vikings, Saints, Cards, Broncos, Steelers/Ravens (Tied for Wildcard), Eagles, Packers.

It definitely seems like the Bears are trying hard to join that illustrious group.

The Bears have their brains in the right place though, this season they essentially have a rookie QB, their best WR is a converted CB, and their best player is out for the season, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they will be much better than their record reflects next year.

If they dump the coaching staff this offseason there’ll be a very quick turnaround. There’s quite a bit of talent on the roster and a ton of young potential. If they keep the coaching staff there’ll be a slow, tedious decline into the abyss. The bottom won’t fall out because Lovie and company are so stubborn and conservative, but that means the hole will be all the deeper when they reach bottom. The silver lining is that for as good as the Vikings are right now the team isn’t really built to sustain it, once Favre goes and a handful of the older and expensive guys on the lines break down or move on they’ll slip a lot. The Packers seem to be taking a similar trajectory as the Bears though Rodgers is good enough to keep them above water. The Lions are building something decent but they are still a long ways off and who knows if those young guys will resign when their contracts are up, they could find themselves in a nasty cycle.

Looking elsewhere I’d say the Cardinals and Seahawks have real potential to become consistently terrible. The Cards will probably lose Boldin and Warner soon and who knows what will happen with Leinart and they haven’t exactly thrived on adversity. The Seahawks are in even worse shape and Hasselbeck’s demise is even more imminent than Warner’s. They Hawks have quite a bit of money tied up in subpar players and are weak on both lines.

The Panthers are an easy target too, depending on who takes over for Fox. Delhomme is toast and they have no draft pick this year and no means to improve at QB. Their RBs have injury histories and the wheels could come off at any point and both Steve Smith and Julius Peppers will both be finding new homes soon. The cupboard will be bare very soon and they’ll have a lot of competition in the division.

From the first list I’d say the Panthers and the Eagles.

From the second list, I’ll say Broncos and Patriots within a couple of years.

I’m probably wrong about the Patriots.

I could see the Vikings slip to mediocre if they had to use a lesser QB that might allow the opposition to focus purely on the run, but still wouldn’t be bad.

Very few teams look to be a contender for the next ten years like the Eagles do. This is especially amazing considering they have already been a contending team for the last decade. Philly’s front office is among the very best in the league in retooling without rebuilding, and maybe even the best (though the results haven’t topped out like those of a couple of the other teams). They already have young playmakers at every skill position (I’m still not sold on Kolb, but he put up big numbers in replacement of McNabb earlier this season), and nearly every starter on both sides of the ball is under 30 years old. All that and they have a 1, two 2s, and two 3s in the next draft.

It’s a strange position to be in considering Andy Reid and the Eagles’ FO is so vastly superior to their competition, yet they won’t be winning any Super Bowls with him as coach. Is it enough to be a playoff team for almost a decade straight but know you won’t likely win a Super Bowl? Or do you fire him and make a two year run knowing that he’s a big part of why the Eagles have had only one losing season in the last 10?

I’m not sure the Cardinals are close to being a bottom feeder. Leinart showed a lot of improvement in his work so far this season (and preseason too, he was one of the bigger surprises then). Their coaching staff seems to be really competent too.

The Panthers are a good choice, but their running game is built so well that they could easily put a Dilfer-esque game manager at QB and focus entirely on defense for two seasons and be a playoff team again. Seattle is in a lot of trouble.

If I had to pick a very outside shot to go from really good to bad in 5 years, I’ll go with the Colts. Their offense is surprisingly old, and while their defense is, I think, entirely under 30, it’s built around Mathis and Freeney (who are 28 and 29 respectively). I wouldn’t bet on them being a bottom feeder in 5 years, but they give me the impression that their next two drafts are absolutely crucial.

Nobody in that group has a chance of being the next Oakland though. That’s a unique perfect storm of suck that can’t be easily repeated.

Giants and Ravens. Both defenses are nothing like they once were and I’m not sold on either offense. On the other hand, the previous poster is right, they won’t nearly be as bad as the Raiders. But they are on the path to being out of the playoffs for many years to come.

It’s too hard to predict past this year, with a probable uncapped year, and then whatever Labor deal they come too. If there is no cap going forward(which I don’t think will happen) there is also no minimum, and I could see several teams Dropping to 20-30 million payroll and taking whatever $ comes in straight into their pocket.

The Patriots are willing to dump overpriced stars and go for youth. That shows decent management that is continually building for the future.

Dangit, I thought my pick would be a surprise.

One of the keys to a bad team is when the balance of power is not maintained. The coach, GM and owner have to prevent each other from making bad decisions. Cooperation and communication between the three are essential.

Another key is age. To maintain a good team, you have to get value for value. When you lose good players to FA or retirement, your team gets worse, fast. There’s a reason the Giants (Strahan) and the Steelers (Bettis) got worse after Superbowl appearances.

Another important factor is cheating. When success is buoyed by cheating, and then you get caught, the losses follow. The main example (for me) here are the '97 and '98 Broncos. There was an article showing how the Broncos cheated the salary cap by backloading contracts, although Elway love has prevented other reporters from following up on the story.

All that being said, I think the Patriots are headed to infamy. Having a coach be the GM as well never works. The evidence is piling up that Spygate had some effect on the Pat’s success. Their defense is barely alive, rotating fresh old guys every few downs, and the key players on their offense are over 30. They try to re-build through the draft, but it takes years to develop starters, which is why their defense is such a patchwork quilt right now.


Right–that must be why the Patriots played so poorly in 2007 after the scandal broke following the Patriots’ first game of the season. Oh wait–that was the season they went 16-0 in the regular season and nearly won the Superbowl.

And this was surely why they played so poorly in 2008–not because their star quarterback was knocked out for the season in the first quarter of the first game.

As for 2009, the Patriots’ problems can surely be due to the aftereffects of Spygate, not because of the numerous retirements and trades of older players, right?

It looks to me like the Patriots are still drafting well - Meriwether, Edelman, Mayo, etc. Brady is neither old nor washed up, and neither is Moss or Welker. The defense is old but I think they could fix it.

What? No. He’s a third year starter. I am so sick of hearing this “rookie QB” nonsense about every QB in the league that doesn’t have 12 seasons of starting experience. Gah. How does Cutler in any way qualify as a rookie?

Exactly what I was going to say. Cutler and JaMeatLoaf over in Oakland have been the poster boys for this phenomenon lately. “Well, he didn’t start for three weeks 2 years ago, then his Offensive Coordinator got fired, then he played with an injured wrist for five weeks, so really he’s basically a rookie even though he’s been around for 4 years.” And stop telling me how incredibly talented they are. Being able to throw a football really hard is not talent. Jeff George could do that. Kyle Boller can do that.

No one cares if you can throw the ball through the broad side of a barn if you can’t actually HIT the broad side of a barn.

I meant he’s in a new system, and is still learning the ropes, I thought it was obvious. I’d give him at least a year to get his bearings.

I’m not saying it’s happening now, but they seem to be on that track. I’d say the storm will hit in about 3-4 years or so, when Brady hits 35.

I don’t think the Patriots are in any kind of serious trouble, they look to be a contender for another 5 years. They still have a dominant QB who has several years of elite level football left. And while New England’s drafts of late haven’t been home runs, they have shown every season that they can manipulate the other owners into favorable trades. They have a one and three twos in the 2010 draft and two ones and a two in the 2011 draft. They’re going to retool very quickly, even if they whiff on half of those picks.

New England and Philly are the masters at moving veterans for picks and deferring picks into multiple picks later on (either that same draft, or the next year’s). That’s the key to rebuilding, and I hope nobody else catches on.

In other news, it’s looking like Andy Reid is about to get an extension. I honestly can’t see his game day coaching mistakes every netting him a Super Bowl, but it’s really hard to argue with his success.

Hopefully Brady will take after Favre, who looks like he’s playing some of the best football of his life at age 40.

The Jets will continue as they always have – complete and utter mediocrity. Not gloriously bad, and no championships. Just occasional backing into the playoffs for a round. Two good years, then two more bad ones.

It’s part of the deal Joe Namath made with the devil in order to win Super Bowl III.

This. The only way NE drops is a career ending injury to Brady and Belichek being caught in bed with a dead hooker or live Ref. Even then they have to tools in place to recover quickly.