Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 24, 2020

Where do the NFL's worst teams go from here?

By ERIC LYNCH | October 15, 2020

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Keith Allison / CC BY-SA 2.0

NFL teams, such as the Atlanta Falcons, the New York Giants and the New York Jets, are having a rough season.

No National Football League (NFL) fan wants to see their team lose. But for three unlucky fanbases, that’s all they’ve seen this season. Whether it’s injuries, a bad coaching staff or underperforming players, there’s plenty of blame to go around. But no matter how the season has begun, these fans want to know one thing: Where do they go from here?

Atlanta Falcons

Let’s start with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2016 the Falcons were facing off against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Now they are 0-5 to start the season. Consequently, coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have been fired. While fanbases often rejoice at decisions like these, sometimes coaches can be scapegoats for larger problems.

One obvious area of concern is the team’s aging roster. Many of the players from 2016 are still on the roster, and four years is a long time in the NFL. Matt Ryan is 35, Julio Jones is 31, and the team has been starting 32-year-old tight end Luke Stocker too. The team’s backup quarterback is 39-year-old Matt Schaub. Todd Gurley has been a bright spot, but even the 26-year-old running back hasn’t been as consistently good as he once was.

The defense has perhaps been the biggest source of problems for the Falcons. In the team’s five games, they have two total interceptions and seven sacks. They’ve given up over 400 total yards in four out of the five games, and against the Dallas Cowboys in week two, they allowed 570 total yards.

Evidently, the firings were probably a good decision in the long term. The Falcons are in the terrible situation of being bad for three years in a row yet not being in rebuild mode. Instead of holding onto their aging roster and making win-now moves, the team should blow it up. They should trade away the team’s best assets for picks and promising young players, especially on the defensive end. Whatever Dimitroff was trying to accomplish, it wasn’t working. The new general manager who comes in needs to start from scratch and build a new team organically. 

New York Giants

The New York Giants have continued their string of bad seasons with an 0-5 start in 2020. Their season hasn’t quite looked as bad as the Falcons. Two of their losses were lost by a margin of fewer than five points, and their worst losses came against the 4-1 Los Angeles Rams and the defending Super Bowl runners-up, the San Francisco 49ers.

I would also say that out of the three teams on this list, the Giants are in the best position going forward. The Giants are leaning on sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones and sophomore wide receiver Darius Slayton, both of whom have shown promise in spurts. Their star running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL and is out for the season, so their limited success can partially be blamed on bad luck. In his place, Jones has become the team’s leading rusher, which isn’t necessarily going to be conducive to many wins.

I think the keyword for Giants fans is patience. The team has a lot of young players and, because of Barkley’s injury ruining their playoff hopes, can use this season experimentally to let them develop. Joe Judge is in his first year as a head coach, so he also needs time to develop in that role too. It’s tough to watch the team keep losing, but at least the Giants are all-in on the future.

New York Jets

As per usual, the New York Jets are a bad football team. The Jets are also probably in the strangest position of the three teams on this list. They aren’t doing much to improve season to season. The team has not shown much promise at all, only going for 300 total offensive yards in one of their games.

The team was hoping quarterback Sam Darnold would make huge strides this season, and he has certainly been a centerpiece in the minds of the fans. But if that’s the case, then the rest of the roster is confusing at best. 37-year-old Frank Gore is getting significant touches, and the team essentially has no decent receivers for Darnold to pass to. Le’Veon Bell was not enough to enable the young quarterback’s offense. Not to mention the inexplicable fact that head coach Adam Gase is still around despite only having a single winning season in his entire NFL career.

The Jets need to blow it all up, as they have needed to do for years. They need a new coach, general manager Joe Douglas needs to do a much better job of constructing a roster, and their players frankly need to be better. Jets fans will be waiting a long time for their team to turn things around. They have very little to build on; maybe keeping Darnold and building around him is a good move, but even then, that would require excellent drafting and offseason moves, which the Jets may not be capable of. But getting rid of Darnold would mean starting over from scratch again, something the Jets have done three or four times since they got rid of Mark Sanchez in 2013. Good luck, Jets fans; your team needs it.

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