While they may not like to admit it, there are always a few teams in the NFL that aren’t in the running for the playoffs. Sometimes they call it a rebuild, sometimes a tank. No matter how they view it, sometimes a team just needs to start with a clean slate. Here are teams that should blow it all up and start over.:
New York Giants
The Giants have been going backward for a few years now. They’ve had a series of head coach changes. Ownership has refused to consider moving on from Eli Manning at quarterback despite his weakening arm and declining overall play. Their offensive line has been leaky, and the defense has lacked consistent play-makers.
Although the Giants may boast some of the better skill positions on offense in the league, they have barely been in contention for playoffs since winning the Super Bowl in 2011. With so many needs on both sides of the ball, they should consider jettisoning some of the talent they do have. They should aim to acquire a few extra draft picks, so that over the next few seasons they can rebuild the team into a competitor.
If they can time it right, NYG could rebuild the team to coincide with Manning’s retirement. Until they accept their situation, the Giants will continue to have a lacklustre roster that restricts them from pushing for the postseason.
Cincy is in the midst of three straight losing seasons and have one of the longest playoff win droughts in the league. Like the Giants, they have talented offensive pieces but are held back by an inconsistent OL and subpar QB. Their defense has holes at all levels and the team has a new head coach for the first time since 2003.
That’s a start.
However, the AFC North has been a perennially tough division, repeatedly sending two or more teams to the playoffs. With the Cleveland Browns now relevant, the Bengals need to reflect on their place in the division. Whether Zac Taylor works out as HC or not, the team needs to hit the reset button.
Moving on from Andy Dalton at QB and recalibrating the offense is only a matter of time. Dangling players like AJ Green, Geno Atkins, or Giovani Bernard as trade bait is something they should consider.
By the time the Bengals get their house in order, those veterans could be on the way out anyway. Squeezing the last bit of value out of them would not only help them rebuild, but also bring in younger talent that will form a new core of the team.
Denver has been searching for answers at QB for a long time. Their whole offense needs work beyond last season’s rookies Courtland Sutton and Phillip Lindsay. Their offense is in a state ready for retooling and is clearly going to be a focus this offseason.
The Baltimore Ravens are moving on from Joe Flacco and he’s headed to the Denver Broncos. What does this trade mean for the man who brought Baltimore a title? #NFL #Ravens #Broncos https://t.co/E0k4oC3FoI pic.twitter.com/nraz3steVG— Unfiltered Access (@UnfilteredAXS) February 18, 2019
On the other hand, the defense has been one of the better groups in the league. Although they’ve lost a few key players in the last few years (Malik Jackson and Aqib Talib), it is in a good state. The question is: Do they stick with what they’ve got and hope they can get things figured out?
Since it will take a few years to have the offense firing, the Broncos need to consider if they can keep everything in place for the time being. If not, there’s no point holding onto any of the pieces that aren’t going to be needed.
The Motor City already has a team that has begun retooling the offense and it only needs a few tweaks. While they continue to build up the defense, they need to decide how much they believe in Matthew Stafford.
Stafford has been seen as the great shining hope for the Lions for a while. Yet he’s taken his team to the playoffs just three times, with no postseason wins.
The Lions are working on becoming a playoff team again, but if Stafford can’t get the job done, it’s probably in their best interest to move on. If the decision is made sooner, the rebuild can happen all at once. The longer they wait, the more rebuilding will be needed.
At a Crossroads
Both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans have had mixed success since drafting Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The Titans have made the playoffs, while the Bucs have looked downright dangerous at times.
However, the jury is still out on both QBs. With a regime in Tennessee one year in, and a head coaching change looming in Tampa, how long can the teams wait to start fresh? If either team can find a way to get the QBs going, they can avoid regressing. Then their rebuilds from the past five years aren’t wasted.
But if they think their current QB is the future of the franchise, some drastic measures need to be taken. There are major needs for both teams, but by the time they get fixed new needs will arise.
Will they learn from the Lions’ and Bengals’ problems with Stafford and Dalton, or can they make the leap? Neither franchise can afford to wait – either start anew or make the current situation work.
On the Horizon
In the next few years, both the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers will need a clean slate. Their QBs are edging closer to retirement, and the current Super Bowl windows are closing fast. Both franchises should consider radical changes when it happens so that they have a clean break. Rarely does a team transition from a standout era to another successfully.
The Steelers are dealing with an identity crisis already and the Saints endured a crisis of faith in Brees a few years ago. Both head coaches have been around for a while too, and a new start could be good for everyone involved. While they can wait another year or two, both the Saints and Steelers should ensure they aren’t in denial about their state of affairs.
Whether it’s a new HC, QB, or team in transition, NFL franchises need to decide if they’re built to win it all. If not, there’s no point holding onto a few key players hoping it will work out.