We are two weeks into a new NFL season and things are already looking bad for several teams. There are currently ten teams without a win after week two. What led to those poor starts varies between teams. Some teams are young and developing and some have suffered injuries. To be honest though most are just bad teams right now. Let’s look at what led to these teams’ bad starts.
Miami Dolphins – Where do we even start with this team? They are just an outright bad team. The offense is terrible, defense is terrible, and the players do not want to be there. As I said in my predictions, I do believe they will have a quick turnaround. In two to three years I think they will be playoff contenders. They have an assortment of high draft picks and salary cap space in the future. Right now, the best they can do is play Josh Rosen and see if he is their quarterback of the future. If he is not then showcase him, Kenyan Drake and Devante Parker and try to gather as many assets as you can. In terms of wins and losses the season is already over for the Dolphins.
New York Jets – This is a team that I am high on. I think they have great core players on offense and defense. I am a fan of quarterback Sam Darnold, Safety Jamal Adams, they are franchise caliber players. They are off to rough start after playing the surprisingly undefeated Buffalo Bills and the offseason sweetheart Cleveland Browns. Injuries on both sides of the ball have likely derailed any hopes of the playoffs this year. Coach Adam Gase needs to focus on development this year in preparation of a big season next year.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers have not finished with a losing record since 2003, this amazing streak is likely to end in 2019. The team was blown out in week one by defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. Week two was even worse as they lost franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Coach Mike Tomlin is turning to second year quarterback Mason Rudolph to right the ship. I think Rudolph has a lot of talent and a bright future in the league. There are just too many obstacles in Rudolph and the rest of the Steelers way. They have no defined number two receiver; James Conner is already banged up. The defense added Minkah Fitzpatrick but they are still a mediocre defense. Injuries and age have derailed the early part of the Steelers season. I do not see them fully recovering from this start.
Cincinnati Bengals – Despite missing Pro Bowl receiver AJ Green the Bengals started the season on a promising note, losing by just one point to the Seattle Seahawks. The wheels fell off in week two as they were blown out by the San Francisco 49ers. The offense has had moments of brilliance in the first two games. The defense however has looked shaky at best. Quarterback Andy Dalton is off to a hot start throwing for over 700yds in the first two games. Receivers John Ross and Tyler Boyd both hit the ground running. They should make a dangerous trio when AJ Green returns from injury. They need to get Joe Mixon playing better and they must do something about that defense. With the Steelers potentially having a down season I think there is room for the Bengals to shake things up.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars entered the season looking to rebound after a terrible 2018 season. Those hopes already appear dashed. Quarterback Nick Foles was injured in week one and All- Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey wants a trade. This is a team that has talent but the disfunction between the players and the coaches has outweighed the talent. The bright spot so far has been folk hero quarterback Gardner Minshew. Minshew has looked promising in two games so far. I think the biggest issue with Minshew is the coaches need to take off the restraints and let the man play. If they can open up the passing game they can get running back Leonard Fournette going. All the team needs to do on defense is coach and play smarter. They have the talent just keep your cool and play smart. I think this will be another losing season for the team but with Minshew it should at least be fun to watch.
Denver Broncos – The Broncos have looked flat out bad on offense this season. They have a stable of running backs led by Pro Bowler Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman that have not produced so far. The coaches have restrained Joe Flacco and the receiving core. The defense looked confused week one and were playing a stale offense week two so its hard to judge where they are honestly. First year head coach Vic Fangio appears to be out of his comfort zone so far. The offense has looked good when they actually let Flacco throw the ball down field, if they do that a little more, they may have some hope this season. At least to be a respectable team.
New York Giants – The Giants have looked bad against two good teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. They have already benched franchise quarterback Eli Manning in favor of rookie Daniel Jones. The defense has been outclassed on all levels and needs a lot of work. The shining spot during the rough start has been All-Pro running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley has been unstoppable in two games so far. The best thing the Giants can do this season is develop Jones and hope to reload for next season.
Washington Redskins – The Redskins fall into an interesting category. They are both young and injury plagued. The team has drafted young at core positions like Dwayne Haskins at quarterback and Derrius Guice at running back. Veteran quarterback Case Keenum has started at quarterback the first two games and has done a solid job. The team is averaging 24 points per game despite missing Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams who is currently holding out. Derrius Guice is injured and expected to miss at least six weeks. The defense has been bad, they are allowing over 30 points per game. The addition of Landon Collins at safety has not worked out the way they planned so far. The Redskins have a decent amount of talent and what I believe is a good head coach in Jay Gruden. They just play in a tough division and conference. I think the Redskins are look at six to eight-win season at best.
Carolina Panthers – The Panthers are an interesting team. They are not a developing team and they only have one significant injury. The team is led on offense by quarterback Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey, and tight end Greg Olsen. On defense they are led by All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, lineman Gerald McCoy, and safety Eric Reid. They have a talent on both sides of the ball and have yet to live up to their potential. After starting 2018 with six wins in their first eight games they have lost nine of their last ten games. Cam Newton has obviously been injured, yet the Panthers won’t disclose the seriousness of the injuries. We know he had shoulder issues last year and now foot issues this year. Until Newton can confidently throw it down the field and scramble from the pocket the Panthers have no hope this season.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals have started the started the season by truly introducing the NFL to the fabled air raid offense. Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray became on the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards in his first two NFL starts. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense has thrown it 94 times in just two games. It’s been like watching a real-life Madden game. I would like to see a little more balance with the offense, they have only run the ball 34 times. It’s been fun to watch the defense as well, as they give up a lot of big plays. The defense has given up over 900 yards of total offense and allowed 25 points per game. The defense does get All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson back in a few weeks which should be a boost. If the Cardinals can find more balance on offense and establish a defensive identity, they will be fine moving forward this season. They are young but have a bright future.
This season’s early season losers are a mixed bag of hope and despair. I think a few teams have a real shot to turn the season around. I think a few should pack it in and look towards next season. The last few can go either way, it’s up to them. Whether your team is struggling or off to a fast start there is a lot of football left to be played and we can all be happy about that.