5 NFL Teams Set for Failure in 2013
While franchises around the NFL turn their sights toward the 2013-14 season, some are heading in the wrong direction.
Losing players to free agency, releasing stars to get under the salary cap and even having a complete lack of talent on the depth chart are all factors in backward momentum of five teams.
How can the Detroit Lions return to their playoff form of 2011 if they have an unruly locker room and are releasing players left and right?
What is the answer for a Jacksonville Jaguars team that has more buzz surrounding its new logo than its starting quarterback?
Let's answer these questions and more as we break down five NFL teams that are headed in the wrong direction and break down some ways to turn things around.
5. Oakland Raiders
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It's no secret that the Oakland Raiders were not very good in 2012. Oakland won just four games and had an inconsistent offense that was overshadowed by an inadequate defense.
Now, the Raiders appear to be simply spinning their wheels on a revolving track. Darren McFadden cannot stay healthy for an entire 16-game schedule, the defense does not feature a player who generated more than 4.5 sacks last season and there is not a reliable receiver on the depth chart.
Oakland is clearly in a rebuilding effort under general manager Reggie McKenzie, but this is a process that looks to be evolving a little too slowly. Will next year's team again be led by "seat-warmer" Carson Palmer?
There was a time when Palmer was an elite NFL QB, but that was in the past. Now, he is merely holding the job until a franchise signal-caller is found. Is that player going to be Terrelle Pryor?
We all know of Pryor's athleticism, and at some point in 2013, he is likely going to get a chance to prove himself at the professional level.
Oakland desperately needs a spark, something to rejuvenate the franchise and give hope to the fanbase. A consistent offense and added building blocks to the defense would be a tremendous start.
4. Arizona Cardinals
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The Arizona Cardinals merry-go-round at quarterback has to end by the time the 2013 season rolls around. Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer all took turns under center last season, and each had results less impressive than the last.
Is one of them the answer? Arizona needs to answer that question sooner rather than later if it is going to satisfy superstar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and return this franchise to relevance.
Similarly, the Cardinals are completely unsettled at the running back position. Beanie Wells plays below expectations every season (even as expectations continually get lower), LaRod Stephens-Howling is a free agent and Ryan Williams is seemingly always hurt.
This is an offense in a constant state of flux and in need of stability. Arizona ranked just 28th in passing yards and 32nd in rushing yards last season.
Of course, nothing can be fixed until the offensive line is addressed, but the draft is the perfect place to correct those issues.
Luckily, the defense is one of the best in the NFL, so all hope is not lost for Arizona.
3. Detroit Lions
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It seems the Detroit Lions have been on a consistently downward spiral since starting the 2011 season 7-3. In the time since, Detroit has gone just 7-16 and stopped looking like a formidable contender in the NFC.
Now, Detroit is scrambling to improve a depth chart lacking skill in the secondary and continues to lose valuable parts.
Detroit is low on cap space and still has to find a way to keep defensive end Cliff Avril in the fold. That will be no easy task, nor will it be easy to find enough pieces in the draft and bargain section of the free-agent market to contend in the best division in football—the NFC North.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
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The Jacksonville Jaguars new logo (via Chris Strauss of USA Today) says quite a bit about the current state of the franchise. Jacksonville is looking for a new direction—a rebirth of sorts—but instead, is only making minor changes.
The new logo is more of the same, and the 2013 Jaguars will look a lot like the 2012 version if major changes do not take place.
The Jaguars ranked in the bottom third of the league in most major statistical categories, including ranking 30th in both rush offense and pass defense.
The return of Maurice Jones-Drew should alleviate most problems with the ground game, but the secondary remains an issue. Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox are both set to become free agents, and Jacksonville must attack the problem head on via the draft.
Similarly, there is a rather dark cloud hanging over the quarterback position. Is Blaine Gabbert still considered the future of the franchise? Is he capable of finally showing progress and potential?
Obviously, an upgraded offensive line is required for whoever is under center, but Jacksonville must decide on an answer at QB.
A guy like Alex Smith would be great for this roster.
1. New York Jets
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New New York Jets GM John Idzik has said, in an interview with WFAN (h/t New York Daily News) that "competition is coming" for Mark Sanchez, but the fact of the matter is that he is still No. 1 on the depth chart.
As difficult as the Jets 2012 campaign was—and it was train-wreck awful—the 2013 season is setting up to be that much worse if Sanchez remains under center. New York simply cannot gain any forward momentum while it is hindered by a QB who refuses to develop.
Sanchez had the lowest completion percentage of any starter last season and threw at least 18 interceptions for the third time in four years.
With the Tim Tebow circus apparently headed out of town this offseason, there is at least a chance for some relief in New York, but if Darrelle Revis goes too—as rumors (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) are suggesting—then the Jets revert back to square one.
This is clearly a team with many issues, and another one that may be flying under the radar is finding a way to improve their 26th-ranked rush defense from a season ago.