Unthinkable Moves for Every NFL Team To Consider
Sometimes to get ahead in sports, you just have to do something totally crazy.
Like when George Foreman had the bright idea to return to boxing at the age of 38, 10 years after his last professional fight, then was stubborn enough to still think he could hold his own against the best in the world seven years later.
Or when Sean Payton had the audacity to call an onside kick to begin the second half of Super Bowl XLIV.
How’d that work out for him?
Crazy and sports just go together. Hell, look at all the crazy people who’ve excelled at sports in just the last 20 years. Ron Artest. Rasheed Wallace. Dennis Rodman. All are NBA champions. And tremendous athletes. And total looney–bins.
What about Mike Tyson? Mike Tyson used to be the baddest man on the planet. He was the most amazing boxer the world had ever seen for like ten years straight.
Today? He’s nothing but a clown. He’s an international punchline. The guy’s so crazy, he makes fun of himself for being so crazy now. Even he’s in on the joke.
For some NFL teams, the time has come to just surrender their sanity, throw caution to the wind and do something completely ridiculous, and for every NFL team, there must be some logic-defying maneuver they could scheme up that just might pay off in the long run.
The following is a list of suggestions for just that very purpose and, you know what?
Just because we’re all feeling so crazy let’s throw in an M. Night Shyamalan twist right at the end here: the list shall be arranged in order of how crazy thy team’s fanbase is, from sanest to screwiest.
Climb aboard, partner. Next stop: crazy town.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars: Give City an Ultimatum
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The Move: Set an attendance threshold for next season and relocate if it isn’t reached
Why They Should Consider it: Because this team deserves better; if the fans in Jacksonville don’t start appreciating what they have soon, some other fanbase will.
Los Angeles has already made it perfectly clear it’s dedicated to landing a team, after all, and even though Jacksonville’s attendance rates spiked last year and appear to be better this season too (they’re averaging over 90 percent capacity so far), they still rank among the bottom third of the league in every attendance category, and they still can’t match the allure of LA—the second largest television market in the entire country.
31. Arizona Cardinals: Put It All on the Players
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Move: Let the players choose all first-round draft picks
Why They Should Consider it: Because nobody knows where a team’s weaknesses lie quite like the players themselves, it’s never been attempted before, and the Cards are definitely a team that should be willing to take some risks in their draft process at this point.
Arizona has had five top-10 draft picks since 2003 (just one less than Detroit), but only three of those selections are still with the team today (Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown and rookie Patrick Peterson) and included among their ranks is one of the biggest busts in recent memory, quarterback Matt Leinart.
Players considered first-round prospects are usually familiar enough by the time the draft takes place that existing players could easily make an informed decision about who to take. Maybe the Cardinals’ front office narrows the options to five potential additions, and the players vote on who they want?
Then, maybe five years from now, that player is still on the team and contributing, and maybe the team doesn’t have to make another high-profile selection again for years to come?
30. Carolina Panthers: Become the All-Digital Team
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The Move: Upgrade all training and game-management processes utilizing state-of-the-art technology
Why They Should Consider it: The Panthers are the third-youngest team in the league and their youngest player, quarterback Cam Newton, has already shown us he’s not only able to compete in the NFL, he’s ready to win. Why not make the transition even smoother for Newton and his fellow Millennials by teaching football in the language they’re most comfortable with?
Some teams are already starting to convert their playbooks onto iPads, after all, and if somehow you could make analyzing opposing defenses as easy as whipping out your favorite smart phone, the entire NFL learning curve could be completely overhauled before our very eyes.
Turning rookies into All-Pros overnight? There just might be an app for that.
29. Houston Texans: Make a Secret Alliance with the Cowboys
Bob Levey/Getty Images
The Move: Create a partnership with the other team from Texas to encourage mutual success
Why they Should Consider it: Because by playing in the same state, both teams benefit economically from the other’s success, and by playing in separate conferences, they can help each other out without jeopardizing their own fortunes.
How thrilled would Texas be if these two met in the Super Bowl? In a Game 1 of them was hosting, perhaps? Would the whole stadium just spontaneously combust at kick-off?
28. Seattle Seahawks: Play for Rain
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The Move: Simulate rain during all practices
Why They Should Consider it: Because there’s a reason when you think of Seattle, only one very specific weather scenario comes to mind: cold and rainy.
It’s not that Seattle gets the most rain in the league (several NFL cities experience more annual precipitation) or even that it rains there most often (Buffalo and Cleveland both have more rainy days per year), it’s simply that rain has become one of the defining characteristic of this city (albeit an incredibly depressing one), so why not try and use their misfortune as a sneaky home field advantage, the same way New England does with its bitter cold winter, or Philadelphia with its constant threat of unprovoked fan violence?
Plus, if for some reason the weather doesn’t cooperate, in the near future they might be able to just go out and buy a laser beam to keep on hand just in case. Let it rain!
27. Indianapolis Colts: Put It All on Peyton
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The Move: Make Peyton Manning the first player/coach in NFL history
Why They Should Consider it: Because Peyton’s the only guy that might actually be able to pull this off, he already acts like he’s the coach anyway, and confidence in Jim Caldwell is shaky at best at this point.
This way, if his neck injury proves to be career-ending, he can just smoothly transition to full-time coach next season and he’ll already have a year of experience under his belt to draw on, and if it doesn’t, he’ll only be that much wiser when he does return.
26. San Diego Chargers: Engineer Greatness
Harry How/Getty Images
The Move: Genetically engineer a star athlete for the future
Why They Should Consider it: Because don't you get the feeling genetic engineering is going to take off at some point anyway? Why delay the inevitable?
If there's a way science can improve our lives, we humans are going to exploit it to the absolute fullest. It may take time, but once the initial stigma associated with any new advancement is overcome, widespread acceptance and universal praise are always sure to follow.
If modifying genes makes it possible to prevent disease, increase lifespan and ensure our children grow up stronger, faster and healthier than they otherwise would, we not only should do it, we have a duty to for the good of the human race.
Someone needs to step up to the plate at some point, then, and show the world that genetic engineering is not just some science fiction fairy tale, nor is it the harbinger of eternal doom, as others have suggested. What better way to showcase the technology's amazing potential than by creating an athletic phenom the whole world can marvel over together?
And who better to assume this responsibility than the Chargers, who are already stationed in close proximity to one of the best biomedical schools in the country, and who, between Phillip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson, already have access to some of the most valuable athletic genes in the league?
As long as they don't let Bob Sanders anywhere near the project, this could be a huge success for both San Diego and the world at large.
25. New England Patriots: Trade Tom Brady
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Move: Trade the biggest superstar in franchise history for a ridiculous price
Why They Should Consider it: Because as great as Tom Brady is and has been, his career will inevitably begin its decline at some point in the near future, and if there’s been one defining characteristic of today’s New England Patriots, it’s their uncanny ability to move star players before that decline takes place.
Why should Tom Brady be immune?
Bill Belichick is one smart cookie, and as good as Bill’s team has been with Brady as his quarterback, the temptation to deal the future Hall-of-Famer must be festering somewhere in the back of his diabolical mind at this point, knowing the 34-year-old has only a few more years left in his prime and knowing what a massive offer he would command in the open market today, especially considering his recent streak of dominance.
With Brady, this team wins today.
With a slew of high draft picks in his place and the Patriots’ ability to work the system like a Wall Street tycoon every single spring, this team keeps winning well into the future.
24. St. Louis Rams: Plan for the Long-Haul
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
The Move: Tank the next two seasons and build for the future
Why They Should Consider it: Because the Lions and Bills are just the most recent reminders that even the worst bad luck streaks can suddenly turn around one day once the right pieces are in place, and because St. Louis already has a strong young nucleus to build around if they start the process today.
23. Buffalo Bills: Build a Dome
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Move: Replace Ralph Wilson Stadium with a dome
Why They Should Consider it: Because Buffalo has quietly put together one of the most high-powered offensive attacks in the league (they’re averaging over 31 points per game right now), a dome would help promote the shootout type of setting in which their offense thrives, and nothing rejuvenates a consistently disappointed fanbase quite like a shiny new stadium to occupy.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Stay Young
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The Move: Trade or release anyone over the age of 30 every year
Why They Should Consider it: Because as the youngest team in the league, the Bucs already have a head start on this process, and considering how successful young players have become in the modern NFL (since 2005, the only 30-year-old to lead the league in rushing or receiving yards at his position was Tony Gonzalez in 2008), this system just might provide a tremendous advantage, securing in theory a roster that is always improving and never a single day past its prime.
21. Tennessee Titans: Trade for Peyton Manning
Craig Jones/Getty Images
The Move: Make a trade with the Colts to bring Peyton Manning back to Tennessee
Why They Should Consider it: Because Tennessee obviously admires the guy (the team's former coach did, at least), they could probably get him for a deal at this point given the uncertainty over his future in football, and considering how familiar Manning clearly is with the Titans (he’s 13-5 against them over his career), he could definitely give their defense some invaluable pointers they couldn’t find anywhere else.
20. New York Giants: Become the All-Cheat Team
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Move: Actively pursue any unfair advantage they can
Why They Should Consider it: Because we know now for certain the Giants have no problem bending the rules after two of their defensive players tried to fake an injury at the same time against the Rams in Week 2, and considering this is the same team that in Super Bowl XLII beat the most notorious cheaters in the modern NFL, the New England Patriots, we might just find they have a knack for the shady stuff themselves.
19. Denver Broncos: Up the Tempo
Bart Young/Getty Images
The Move: Become the most frantic no-huddle offense in NFL history
Why They Should Consider it: Because Denver already has a natural (and significant) home-field advantage playing at such high elevation, and if they consciously tried exploiting that blessing, they could easily put together one of the most dominant home teams in the league.
Road teams have been visibly winded playing at Mile High for decades now, and if the Broncos could only tweak their offensive attack to accelerate its pace throughout the game, the defenses they play against would be completely gassed by the time the fourth quarter rolled around at every single home game.
Denver already has the tools to make this happen.
Now, they just need the guts to do it.
18. San Francisco 49ers: Jump on the College Bandwagon
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Move: Only draft players from recently successful programs
Why They Should Consider it: Because when a college program is on a run, the well usually runs deep.
In the early 2000s, Miami was the school to draft from, producing big-name studs on both sides of the ball like the NFL’s unofficial superstar factory, then USC became the gold standard for a while (53 total picks since ’06), and most recently, in just the last three years, Tennessee has produced Denarius Moore, Eric Berry, Jerod Mayo and Arian Foster, each of whom have smoothly transitioned to the pro game in very little time.
Draft picks are by nature a roll of the dice anyway, so why not try and better your odds any way you can?
17. Atlanta Falcons: Bring Back Prime Time
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Move: Hire Deion Sanders as a consultant
Why They Should Consider it: Because Sanders’ remarkable career began in Atlanta, the Falcons are in desperate need of a momentum shift right now (particularly in pass defense, Sanders’ specialty, where they currently rank 22nd in the league), and no matter what you may think of him on a personal level, Deion’s skill set is so diverse, he must have something to contribute to any organization that’ll have him.
16. Cincinnati Bengals: Implement a Rehabilitation Program
The Move: Offer players incentives for good behavior
Why They Should Consider it: Because this team is obviously open to signing questionable characters and obviously has been absolutely wretched at keeping those players out of trouble.
Two months with no police run-ins? Here’s some extra playing time. Four months? You just earned yourself a $10,000 bonus! A whole season without beating up a single stripper, driving under the influence or running an illegal drug operation out of your car?
We’ll have your statue up in front of Paul Brown Stadium before next season begins!
15. Detroit Lions: Use Only One Wide Receiver
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Move: Make Calvin Johnson the only receiver in every offensive set
Why They Should Consider it: Because Calvin Johnson already draws double coverage every play anyway, and he’s already shown he has the skills to beat even triple coverage if he has to. Why send another guy out there just to take up space?
Better yet, why not throw another blocker out there instead, thereby allowing Matthew Stafford to wait for the best possible time to throw the ball to the most dominant receiver in the game today?
14. Baltimore Ravens: Become the All-Boring Team
The Move: Attempt no big plays from now on
Why They Should Consider it: Because even though they exploded for those three long scores during Torrey Smith’s coming out party in Week 3 against St. Louis, nobody expects them to reproduce that success any time soon, and now that they’ve established they do at least have the ability to make those plays, their already-stellar run game (they’ve been over 100 yards in four of five games so far this year) and equally stellar defense (third overall) will only be more effective as a result.
Why take unnecessary risks when you’ve placed so much emphasis on building a team that can grind it out and win against anyone?
13. Miami Dolphins: Change Divisions
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
The Move: Petition the league to move out the AFC East
Why They Should Consider it: Because if the Dolphins have an opportunity to finagle their way out of a division in which they’ve struggled to compete (they’ve gone 11-21 against the AFC East since ’06), they’d be very wise to take it .
They just might be able to pull it off, too: Miami’s location makes it as good a fit for the AFC South as it does the East, and when you consider the South currently includes cities like (semi-south) Nashville and (by no means south) Indianapolis, a change is not only possible, it actually makes a whole lot of sense.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Become a One-Man Show
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The Move: Get rid of every offensive player who isn’t a lineman or isn’t named Adrian Peterson
Why They Should Consider it: Because no one else on this offense is doing anything right now anyway (they rank third in the league in rushing but 31st in passing), and Peterson is such a versatile superstar he could shoulder the load as well as anyone.
He’s already voiced his frustration with the limited role he’s been asked to play so far this season (in the second half, at least), after all, so why not grant him his wish, and then some?
11. Cleveland Browns: Hit the "Reset" Button
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
The Move: Trade or release the entire roster before next season
Why They Should Consider it: Because even though they do have some young talent, Cleveland sports teams have been cursed for so long that only a change this drastic could possibly save them.
The Browns have yet to reach a Super Bowl. They haven’t been to a conference championship since 1989, and over the last 20 years, they’ve lost over 60 percent of their games and won just a single Playoff contest (back in 1994). Something’s just not right here. It’s time to exercise the demons for good and just start all over.
10. New Orleans Saints: Become the All-Big Play Team
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Move: Throw a Hail Mary during every offensive possession
Why They Should Consider it: Because Drew Brees is accurate enough to hit a couple of these every game if he tries, and even if he doesn’t, the constant threat of the long ball will make the short routes the Saints excel at even more dangerous than they already are.
9. New York Jets: Make Trash-Talking an Art Form
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
The Move: Use cold, calculated dialogue to get inside the head of every opponent
Why They Should Consider it: Because their coach has already set a tone that encourages this very kind of behavior, the strategy is clearly befitting of a team from New York City, and given the notoriously unstable mental state of so many professional athletes, there’s a good chance they’ll succeed if the skill is honed just right.
8. Washington Redskins: Take out the Competition (literally)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Why They Should Consider it: Because Washington is the only team in their division without a franchise quarterback, they’ve been falling victim to opposing gunslingers far too often for far too long now (Vick and Manning alone are a combined 15-5 against the ‘Skins over their careers), and at some point, they’re going to have to say enough’s enough. It might be time to make these guys an offer they can’t refuse.
7. Kansas City Chiefs: Empower the Fans
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The Move: Incorporate fan feedback into all major decisions
Why They Should Consider it: Because Kansas City has arguably the most loyal fan base in the league and, quite frankly, the team could use all the help it can get at this point.
The Chiefs have won just three measly Playoff games in the last 41 years. The last time they reached the Super Bowl, Richard Nixon was still a popular President and current coach Todd Haley was just two years old. It's been a rough couple of decades for the fans in Kansas City, and yet, if you spent a Sunday afternoon with them at Arrowhead Stadium, you wouldn't have a clue.
Chiefs fans care deeply about their team, otherwise they wouldn't have stuck around for all these years after so much heartache, and if any fan base deserves the right to mingle in its favorite team's affairs, it has to be them.
How about the next time there's a quarterback controversy in KC, the fans get to decide who to start? The next time the Chiefs need to sign a free agent, why not poll the city before pulling the trigger? Should the team go for it on fourth and short? If you'd all be so kind to please reach under your seats and whip out your personal handheld voting device, we'll figure it out!
If America's Funniest Home Videos can do it, so can they!
6. Chicago Bears: Abandon the Offense Altogether
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The Move: Either kick a field goal or punt the ball the first play of every possession
Why They Should Consider it: The universe already decided a long time ago that the Bears are never going to have an elite offense no matter what. By simply punting the ball every time and letting their defense do its thing instead, they’ll not only eliminate the turnovers their offense creates every year like clockwork (though only two have been lost, they’ve already coughed up 10 fumbles this year), they’ll also give more scoring opportunities to players who actually know what to do with them (Devon Hester, anyone?).
5. Dallas Cowboys: Bribe Their Way to the Top
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Move: Offer opposing players a little something extra to throw the game
Why they Should Consider it: Because Jerry Jones has already tried overspending on his own team and that hasn’t worked for over a decade now, and if he really wants to win another championship as bad as we all know he does, he might not have too many years left to pull it off.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and when you have the capital Jones does available to spend, this makes too much sense for him not to try it.
4. Oakland Raiders: Go Left
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Move: Draft a left-handed quarterback
Why They Should Consider it: Because although south paws have seen varied levels of success in the NFL so far, there’s still an inherent advantage in fielding one considering defenses are so accustomed to playing righties, and when it comes to quarterbacks, the Raiders always need any advantage they can get.
The Raiders haven’t had a legitimate franchise quarterback on their roster since Rich Gannon’s career fell apart back in 2003, and even in his case, the benefits Oakland reaped were limited to just two or three good years, as Gannon was already 33 years old when he joined the team.
JaMarcus Russell wasn't the answer. Jason Campbell, while better than his predecessors, still is not the answer. Carson Palmer? He deserves his chance, but based on how long it’s been since the guy’s been remotely relevant, you can’t help but feel he’s just another spin on Oakland’s never-ending carousel.
Drafting a lefty would by no means guarantee those woes will end, but it would at least give this team a little confidence at the position that they’ve always sorely lacked. And by knowing they hold a slight edge over almost every offense in the league in at least some capacity, it might just prove to be the boost they need to again become one of the game’s elite teams.
What do they have to lose?
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Became the All-Throwback Team
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Move: Wear only throwback jerseys from now on
Why They Should Consider it: Because this team needs a return to greatness, and with six Super Bowl Championships in their franchise history (the most of any team), they certainly have plenty of it to draw upon.
Pittsburgh is traditionally known for a punishing rushing attack (they have more rushing yards over the last 25 years than any team in the league) and a terrifying run defense (they’ve allowed the fewest rushing yards over that same span, excluding expansion teams), but they’ve struggled in both categories multiple times this year (they mustered only 67 yards against the 30th-ranked rush defense in Week 3 and have already been torched for over 130 rushing yards on three separate occasions) and have overall looked much worse than their 4-2 record would indicate.
Pittsburgh is in an identity crisis and needs to get back to its roots as soon as possible.
2. Green Bay Packers: Stop Kicking Field Goals
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The Move: Go for it on fourth down any time they’re in scoring range
Why they Should Consider it: Because this offense has been unstoppable for almost a year now, it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, and of the league-leading 197 points they’ve scored so far this season, only 30 of them have come from field goals anyway.
1. Philadelphia Eagles: Start 2 Quarterbacks
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The Move: Start both Michael Vick and Vince Young
Why They Should Consider it: Because Vick and Young are two of the most versatile dual-threat quarterbacks of this generation, and by playing together, they might be able to divert some of the immense pressure they both constantly face and play better as a result.
Vince Young has had a pretty lackluster career thus far, and the more Michael Vick plays this year, the further he distances himself from last season’s superhuman heroics. But let’s not forget these guys are both still extremely talented, however, and let’s not overlook that both have always played with a target on their back as a result of their multi-faceted roles.
How dangerous could Michael Vick become if another quarterback who could also run or pass at any given time were lining up right beside him? How would defenses respond?
How awesome would it be to have the chance to find out?