Ranking the 5 Biggest Disasters of the 2021 NFL Season So Far
There is no shortage of bad teams in the NFL. As we enter the seventh week of what has been, to this point, an extremely exciting year, several franchises are already looking to 2022 and some will be considering major changes.
Not all disasters are created equal and some of the NFL's worst can look ahead to next year with grounds for optimism. Others, however, are a mess on and off the field, leaving fans wondering when the light at the end of the tunnel will come. But who is the worst of the worst in the NFL this year? Let's take a tour of the inept together to answer that question by ranking the league's most disastrous teams.
*We've listed the odds, via DraftKings Sportsbook, for which franchise to will finish with the fewest wins
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (+800)
A few weeks ago, the Jaguars would have had an exceedingly strong case for being considered the worst of the worst. The whole dilemma around Urban Meyer certainly didn't help. It seemed that things were going downhill very quickly in Jacksonville.
However, their performances in the last few weeks, or more specifically those of Trevor Lawrence, should give the Jaguars significant cause for hope. Lawrence is quickly adapting to the NFL and the flashes of the brilliance he consistently displayed at Clemson are growing ever more frequent.
With Jacksonville's 1-5 record, it has flown under the radar, but Lawrence is reasserting his position as the undoubted class of this year's crop of rookie quarterbacks.
The Jaguars have a long way to go and it remains to be seen whether Meyer will stick around beyond this season but, in Lawrence, they have the most important position locked down with a player living up to his hype.
Jacksonville will likely have a very high pick in 2022, meaning Lawrence could turn this ship around in a hurry if the right players are put around him.
4. Detroit Lions (-105)
The Jaguars at least have the quarterback, what do the Lions have? They don't have any wins but they do have a series of impressive performances in close losses. One could suggest that head coach Dan Campbell has this team going in the right direction.
Boasting a solid young offensive line and some playmakers in the form of D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson, the Lions do have the beginnings of a decent support system. Following the trade of Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason, Detriot also has two first-round picks in each of the next two drafts. This will allow them to find the face of the franchise and add further talent around their core.
The question will be whether the Lions go after that quarterback this year given the apparent weakness of the class at the position. Yet, with Campbell keeping them competitive and adding draft capital to go in several directions next offseason, Lions fans can afford to look to the future with at least some hope.
3. Houston Texans (+300)
Prior to the recent report that the Texans were close to agreeing on a trade to rid themselves of Deshaun Watson, Houston may have won the title of worst of the worst. On the other hand, should that report prove correct and the Texans receive a substantial return for Watson, they would be set up well for the future.
Yes, they are wildly uncompetitive in most of their games and David Culley is likely one-and-done as a head coach. But the Texans are at least set out on a path and have an experienced executive to lead them in their rebuild in Nick Caserio.
With third-round pick Davis Mills looking like a capable starter for this year and a top-five selection on the horizon, Texans fans already had some mild cause for hope. If the Texans get a haul for Watson, Houston should be much more excited about the future of a franchise that entered the year as a laughing stock.
2. Miami Dolphins (+4000)
The Dolphins have a claim for the best roster on this list, but their position as the second-worst disaster in the NFL is not about talent, it's about their process and results in rebuilding the roster.
Miami famously focused its efforts in the 2019 season on collecting draft capital to rebuild the team and after a 10-6 2020 season, it appeared that approach would be rewarded with a playoff berth this year.
To this point in 2021, each of their three first-round picks from 2020 have been whiffs.
Tua Tagovailoa's play has largely alternated between mediocre and dreadful, making the decision to take him over Justin Herbert at fifth overall look like a historic misfire. Austin Jackson has so far failed to successfully make the leap to the NFL at left tackle and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene has been scarcely used when the Dolphins defense has been healthy.
The Dolphins also traded their first-round pick in 2022 to trade back up from No. 12 to No. 6 to draft Jaylen Waddle, but have reduced one of college football's most explosive receivers to a wideout averaging only 8.1 yards per reception so far as a rookie.
Now, with the Dolphins' season cratering following an embarrassing loss to the Jaguars, there is talk of a potentially imminent trade for Watson that would see them abandon Tagovailoa and likely give up both the first-round picks they received from the 49ers in the trade that ultimately landed San Francisco Trey Lance.
Maybe it all works out for Miami in the end, yet there is no doubt the Dolphins' rebuild has been spectacularly mismanaged.
1. New York Giants (+1000)
While the Dolphins have the picks to alter the course of their franchise, there does not appear to be a way out of the rut in which the Giants are firmly stuck. After a somewhat encouraging 6-10 season in 2020, the Giants were looking for their defense to take another step and for Daniel Jones to demonstrate clear signs of development.
Well, neither has happened.
Jones ranks a mediocre 20th in Expected Points Added per play, while the defense is allowing 6.0 yards-per-play, the eighth-most in the NFL. There is no area in which the Giants have excelled this season and, with the Dallas Cowboys seemingly about to run away with the NFC East, it is tough to plot a realistic path to the postseason.
With another lost season, the Giants have not made the playoffs since the 2016 campaign. That should cost both head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman their jobs. However, their potential successors will likely struggle to find avenues by which to markedly improve the situation.
The Giants will have an extra first-round pick next year following their draft-day trade with the Chicago Bears, but Spotrac projects New York to be $11.6 million over an assumed salary cap of $208 million next offseason. Regardless of who is the general manager, they will be forced to get extremely creative to find ways to improve the team with open-market additions.
New York's reality is that the Giants are closer to rebuilding again than they are to making the leap to contention. For a team that has used seven top-30 picks since 2017, that is an unequivocal disaster.
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