Metaphorically, the NFL is a big waltz. Some teams can stay at the top for years before sinking down because of a combination of messy management and bad luck. Some other teams are underdogs for years before having a breakout year which propels them at the top.
Unfortunately, 2019 is no exception. There are indeed a few poorly run franchises out there.
New York Jets
New York teams are well-represented in this “most dysfunctional teams” ranking post. However, it looks like spot No. 1 has to go without a doubt to the New York Jets.
The Jets have fired their general manager Mike Maccagnan not even three weeks after the NFL draft. Their results are far from positive lately; they haven’t made the playoffs in almost 10 years and they ended at the bottom of the AFC East four times out of the last five seasons.
They let go of their coach Todd Bowles at the end of 2018, which was not an illogical decision itself. What was completely crazy was leaving in place Maccagnan, and letting him hire Adam Gase from the Miami Dolphins, who had a losing record with Miami.
What’s even crazier is letting Maccagnan pick most of the Jets new players for 2019, spending 120 million dollars, on players whom Adam Gase did not even agree with in some cases like C.J Mosley or Le’Veon Bell, right before firing Maccagnan and handing the key of the Jets kingdom to Adam Gase. It looks like the perfect scenario for disaster or just an awful episode of the latest soap opera.
Let’s hope all this management turmoil will not ruin the career of Sam Darnold, picked third in the 2018 draft.
New York Giants
The Giants, the other team from New York, has some big challenges ahead of them for this year. First, they have no idea what to do with Eli Manning, their 38-year-old quarterback. During the draft, they surprised everybody drafting Daniel Jones at the first round, and the Giants GM Gettleman has thrown everything he could think of to defend his top pick.
When the media questioned Jones’ unimpressive numbers in college and his readiness to be an NFL efficient quarterback, Gettleman suggested he could take on a developmental role behind Manning for the next two or three years. What? A No. 6 overall pick sitting for two or three years?
On top of that, they let go All-Pro safety Landon Collins in free agency and sent their top wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns. They essentially shipped out their existing stars to replace them with questionable rookie players. This is a risky move and it might be a winning one, who knows? But it appears the Giants front office has some very upsetting months to go until the start of the new season.
The Raiders make perfect villains for the NFL, their aggressive style, black uniforms, and Mad Max-looking raging fans fit the description.
Nevertheless, the only terrifying thing about the Raiders these past two years is their top management!
They had some puzzling decisions last season letting go of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and giving full power to Jon Gruden, leading the team to have one the worst seasons in the AFC West of the past years.
With the on-and-off relationship between Gruden and his star quarterback Derek Carr, they just had a hard time this offseason rebuilding the team around him. The signing of Richie Incognito from the Bills has been described as the “worst move” by any NFL team since the draft and an unnecessary risk! Don’t forget, Incognito has a history of creating problems in the locker room as well as off the field! So making him the starting left guard raised eyebrows around the league.
In addition to that, they also signed ex-Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict, known to play dirty, and wide receiver Antonio Brown, who forced his way out of the Pittsburgh Steelers after a rift with his head coach and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It’s the perfect recipe to have a nonstop conflict on and off the field. What a good way to start the season on Hard Knocks…
The Jaguars already had an issue with the quarterback position last year. Keeping Blake Bortles, who has never been an elite quarterback, was an obvious mistake.
After a dominant defense and a great rushing attack got the team to the AFC Championship in January 2018, the Jaguars decided Bortles was worth a three-year, $54 million contract extension. One year later, the quarterback was released, costing the team $16.5 million of self-inflicted dead cap space.
So, anticipating the 2019 season, what’s the solution? Giving freshly released Nick Foles a four-year, $88 million deal, of course. According to NFL sources, the Jaguars gave him that much because “they need Foles to walk in there and be the leader” and the Jags were worried he wouldn’t get the same respect in the locker room if he did not get a big contract. Looks like a smart and well-thought-out decision, don’t you think?
Is Foles worth that much? Absolutely not. No further comments on that move…it speaks for itself!
Pittsburgh is another team with some issues during their offseason. After the Le’Veon Bell drama and the divorce from Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh has lost two All-Pro players from their roster. In addition to that, it looks like veteran quarterback Big Ben has a say on pretty much every decision the franchise makes. The QB who led the NFL in interceptions last season is entering his 15th season and is taking his leadership role very seriously.
So the big focus will be the locker room chemistry in 2019. Without the bad influences of Brown and Bell, who could become the leader of the Steelers? Will the management be able to contain some of the young players’ bad decisions on social media?
Even the big dynasties might have had dysfunctional times in the past, so we know the game can change everything. Even if many times the front office and top management decisions can lead to perfect disasters, only the players will be able to prove what they are worth on the field every Sunday.