The NFL is the epitome of parity. Pete Rozelle, the late, great commissioner of this league designed it to be as such. Every team is afforded every opportunity to become or stay competitive.
This grand design has fallen through the cracks in recent years in places such as Oakland, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Detroit. I never include them when speaking of underachievers because it should be inherent to the football fan's naked eye that these are inept organizations.
Each mid-November or so, I lay out my five biggest disappointments of the season, sans the four wastelands that I mentioned above.
The Cowboys exhibited oodles of hubris before the season started. Instead of knuckling down and focusing on avenging their playoff loss to the Giants, they decided to take a different road, exposing themselves to the nation on HBO's Hard Knocks and acquiring the league's poster boy for bad behavior, Adam "Pacman" Jones. This all has led to a false sense of security, injuries and poor play.
Owner Jerry Jones has spent more time and energy fussing about the new billion-dollar stadium he's building than putting actual talent on the field. He was in the high weeds before he begged Bill Parcells to turn his team around. Parcells did an excellent job bringing in talent and discipline, but Jones could not help himself. He intervened by forcing Terrell Owens on Parcells, which ended their relationship.
Since Parcells' departure, Jones has reverted back to his old ways and in now deep in the high weeds again.
See what happens when a coach stays too long? Mike Holmgren has been hinting that he wanted to leave, but the Seahawks let him stay around. The Seahawks were most pundits' pick to win the paltry NFC West, but they have had all kinds of issues from injuries to lack of depth.
Jim Zorn, the former offensive coordinator, is now in Washington doing great things. He should be the Seahawks' current coach, not Holmgren. Now Holmgren will be gone and the 12th man will be looking at some more sorry seasons. Jim Mora is now the coach-in-waiting, never a good scenario, and he will have his hands full in the coming years.
As frustrating a team to watch as you'll find in this league. They should have never kept Derek Anderson—I said that from the get-go. His value has decreased markedly over the past eight weeks, so now he will be almost impossible to deal. The switch to Brady Quinn is just one of appeasement.
The coaching staff and front office saved their collective hides by doing this, breaking the the season in two to deflect the real issues. The Browns have loads of talent, but they are devoid of chemistry. With players such as Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, and Jamal Lewis, and a quality O-line, they should be dominant. But it has not happened. They beat the Giants, though. Good thing, because if they didn't, they'd be 2-7.
4. Green Bay
Do they miss Brett Favre? Uh, yeah—they miss him. Aaron Rodgers isn't a bad player, but he isn't a good one, either. Plus the defense has fallen off and now has suffered some injuries. This team won't be in the playoffs. In fact, they may not even have a winning season.
Favre, on the other hand, has made the Jets legitimate contenders in the AFC playoff race. This season will go down as one of the more disappointing ones in Green Bay history—from hosting the NFC Championship Game to hosting the rubber chicken circuit.
5. Kansas City
Not that there was much expected here to begin with, but 1-8? Especially when the rest of the division has tailed off a bit. There was every reason to go out and get themselves a QB, but they did not.
Now, Tyler Thigpen is the starting QB and the Chiefs will not be on prime-time television for the foreseeable future. Herman Edwards cannot preach his way out of this.