Stock Up, Stock Down for NFL's Worst Teams from 2014 Season

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IJuly 10, 2015

Stock Up, Stock Down for NFL's Worst Teams from 2014 Season

0 of 10

    Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

    In today’s NFL, it’s not unusual for a team to rebound quickly from a devastating season. In each of the past three years, a team that has finished 2-14 has bounced back with a winning campaign.

    When it comes to this exercise, the criteria are fairly simple. We are taking a look at every team that finished with at least 10 losses in 2014 (which, coincidentally, happens to be 10 clubs) and gauging what kind of strides they have made this offseason.

    While “stock up” would indicate significant improvement and a team headed in the right direction, “stock down” means a franchise has taken a step backward or has not made enough strides (yet) to make a big difference from a year ago.

    Yes, you may or may not agree with our choices and explanations. And rest assured there will be no delay when it comes to responses.

Stock Up: New York Jets

1 of 10

    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 4-12

    2014 Finish: Fourth in the AFC East

    Thanks to general manager Mike Maccagnan, the floundering New York Jets may be getting ready to soar again.

    This offseason, the team addressed its biggest area of concern in terms of a lack of talent. A defensive unit that gave up 31 touchdown passes and totaled a mere six interceptions has added the likes of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine.

    An already-formidable defensive line featuring Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson now has versatile Leonard Williams thanks to the sixth pick in this year’s draft. Of course, as Darryl Slater of NJ.com and others reported last week, Richardson will miss the team’s first four games after being suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

    On the other side of the ball, the Jets hope they haven’t made a mistake on error-prone quarterback Geno Smith, who has 41 turnovers in two seasons. But the third-year quarterback’s supporting cast has been bolstered this offseason with additions such as veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall and rookie wideout Devin Smith, as well as running backs Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy.

    Yes, new head coach Todd Bowles is aware that he’s in a division in which the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are also much improved and the New England Patriots are defending Super Bowl champions. But don’t be shocked to see these Jets more than double their wins from a year ago.

Stock Down: Atlanta Falcons

2 of 10

    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 6-10

    2014 Finish: Third in the NFC South

    Is anyone really worried about the Atlanta Falcons' ability to put points on the board?

    With quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White and Devin Hester and some new looks at running back and tight end, this should be one of the better offensive clubs in the league.

    But we are still somewhat concerned about the defense despite the arrival of head coach Dan Quinn, the recent defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. To bolster a pass rush that totaled a mere 22 sacks in 2014, the Falcons signed outside linebacker Brooks Reed and defensive end Adrian Clayborn and drafted Vic Beasley, who may see action at both of the aforementioned positions.

    While the rookie offers some hope, Reed and Clayborn have yet to enjoy breakout seasons.

    It also remains to be seen if the Falcons can be stout against the run, although the club made some strides a year ago.

    Quinn did a solid job with the Seahawks and has some pieces to work with in Atlanta. But the feeling here is that the defense may take some time to come into its own, which is why the Falcons may not progress as much this season as some may think.

Stock Up: Washington Redskins

3 of 10

    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 4-12

    2014 Finish: Fourth in the NFC East

    We are taking a leap of faith on a team that has finished last in the NFC East six of the past seven seasons.

    Then again, the Washington Redskins did win a division title with a 10-6 mark in 2012. Since then, the team has combined for seven victories in two seasons.

    However, while many concentrate on unpredictable quarterback Robert Griffin III, the promising news comes on the defensive side of the ball. New defensive coordinator Joe Barry takes over for Jim Haslett and has some nice new pieces at his disposal in linemen Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea, Jerrell Powe and Ricky Jean-Francois, as well as cornerback Chris Culliver and free safety Dashon Goldson.

    The Redskins ranked 20th in the league in total yards allowed this past season, down from 18th in 2013, while they surrendered a disturbing 98 offensive touchdowns in their last 32 games. But those numbers are about to look a whole lot better thanks to an influx of new faces.

    Add in a healthier and wiser Griffin and things are looking up for head coach Jay Gruden and Co.

Stock Down: New York Giants

4 of 10

    Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 6-10

    2014 Finish: Third in the NFC East

    Based on what we saw in 2014, you have to be excited with the idea of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning throwing the ball to both Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz this season.

    That’s also assuming that Tom Coughlin’s club has the ball enough to make a difference.

    The Giants defense, off a forgettable year, is now once again under the guidance of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. While he was one of the catalysts of the club’s Super Bowl XLII title campaign of 2007, he’s also bounced around the league since leaving the Giants following the 2008 season.

    There are some promising players on defense in the form of defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and outside linebacker Devon Kennard. There are high hopes for rookie strong safety Landon Collins, the team’s second-round pick this year. Meanwhile, we are in a holding pattern when it comes to the future of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the team’s unsigned franchise player who was injured on July 4. Jordan Raanan of NJ.com has the latest on the unfortunate incident.

    We feel that the Giants are capable of finishing in the NFL’s top five when it comes to scoring in 2015. It remains to be seen if Spagnuolo can fix a unit that allowed the fourth-most total yards and third-most rushing yards in the league this past season.

Stock Up: Jacksonville Jaguars

5 of 10

    Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 3-13

    2014 Finish: Third in the AFC South

    We are well-aware of the fact that the Jacksonville Jaguars have scored the fewest points in the league each of the past two seasons.

    We also know that second-year quarterback Blake Bortles has a lot of young weapons around him that will also need more time to develop. Promising performers such as wideouts Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee and rookie running back T.J. Yeldon all bear watching.

    Even the Jacksonville defense made some strides this past season, especially when it came to rushing the passer. Now head coach Gus Bradley has free agents such as defensive tackle Jared Odrick, linebacker Dan Skuta, safety Sergio Brown and cornerback Davon House to aid in the improvement.

    As for the aforementioned offense, the line has been bolstered with right tackle Jermey Parnell and center Stefen Wisniewski; the latter is looking to unseat second-year pro Luke Bowanko.

    Could the Jaguars actually double their wins from a season ago? That may not seem like much, but this is a club that has won a combined 14 games the past four years.

Stock Down: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

6 of 10

    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 2-14

    2014 Finish: Fourth in the NFC South

    From all indications, things are looking up for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that gained the third-fewest yards in the league and totaled a mere 277 points this past season.

    The arrival of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston appears to be a huge positive, especially with the idea of getting the ball to wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.

    However, a ground attack that ranked 29th in the league this past year is counting on second-year running back Charles Sims and/or Doug Martin, who hasn’t been the same since his rookie campaign. And a revamped offensive line will feature two rookies in the starting lineup.

    Tampa Bay’s defense has also had its issues as of late, and new faces such as defensive tackle Henry Melton, outside linebacker Bruce Carter and safety D.J. Swearinger hope to help.

    The arrival of Winston is offset by the fact that this club still has many question marks. There figures to be some improvement, but this still looks like a team in transition.

Stock Up: Chicago Bears

7 of 10

    Matt Marton/Associated Press

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 5-11

    2014 Finish: Fourth in the NFC North

    There is yet another new sheriff in the Windy City, and perhaps this time the Chicago Bears may be ready to move back into playoff contention.

    But let’s not count out John Fox’s deputies here. New offensive coordinator Adam Gase could be a good thing for quarterback Jay Cutler, who accounted for 28 touchdown passes and 24 turnovers this past season.

    New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, late of that formidable San Francisco 49ers unit, looks to reverse the fortunes of a team that has allowed 28.8 points per game over the past two seasons combined.

    Cutler no longer has Brandon Marshall to throw to but still has talented Alshon Jeffery and new targets in free agent Eddie Royal and rookie Kevin White. There’s also productive tight end Marcellus Bennett and versatile running back Matt Forte.

    The new faces on defense include linebackers Pernell McPhee and Mason Foster and strong safety Antrel Rolle.

    Knocking off the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North will be easier said than done. But the Bears look like a team that has closed the gap on both the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.

Stock Down: Tennessee Titans

8 of 10

    Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 2-14

    2014 Finish: Fourth in the AFC South

    In 2008, the Tennessee Titans owned the best record in the NFL.

    They haven’t been the same since. This club has now missed the playoffs three straight years and has had three different head coaches over that span.

    That same year, coaches Ken Whisenhunt (Cardinals) as well as Ray Horton and Dick LeBeau (Steelers) would eventually face off in Super Bowl XLIII.

    That’s enough reminiscing, especially for a team that enters 2015 with a 10-game losing streak. There is some excitement surrounding the addition of quarterback Marcus Mariota, the second overall pick in April’s draft who remains unsigned. A so-so receiving corps added free agents Hakeem Nicks and Harry Douglas.

    There is seemingly more hope on defense with the additions of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, cornerback Perrish Cox and safety Da’Norris Searcy. Don’t be surprised if this unit makes some serious strides.

    Unfortunately, Whisenhunt’s offense may take some time to get its act together. So while this may be a better team later in 2015, don’t look for major strides in just one year.

Stock Up: Oakland Raiders

9 of 10

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 3-13

    2014 Finish: Fourth in the AFC West

    Some would say when you haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2002 and you’re a combined 80 games under .500 the last 12 years that there’s nowhere to go but up.

    But for a change, it appears that all systems are go for the Oakland Raiders, who have bolstered their talent on both sides of the football this offseason.

    Second-year quarterback Derek Carr now has veteran Michael Crabtree and rookie Amari Cooper to throw to. Latavius Murray takes over in the backfield, but the team also added free agents such as Roy Helu and Trent Richardson. Free-agent pickup Rodney Hudson anchors the offensive line from the center position.

    Also keep an eye on the defense, which is now under the command of head coach Jack Del Rio and coordinator Ken Norton Jr. In 2014, the Raiders totaled a mere 14 takeaways and only 22 sacks. Additions such as defensive tackle Dan Williams, strong safety Nate Allen and rookie Mario Edwards Jr. join promising young linebackers Khalil Mack and Sio Moore as well as ageless safety Charles Woodson.

    Could we see this team climb above the .500 mark for the first time in more than a decade? You have to crawl before you walk, but this team could be a fast learner.

Stock Down: St. Louis Rams

10 of 10

    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    2014 Win-Loss Record: 6-10

    2014 Finish: Fourth in the NFC West

    Led by a star-studded four-man front and a defensive unit that played its best football during the second half of the season, the St. Louis Rams have become a vogue pick when it comes to making a move in their division.

    Add in the fact that the club added former Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, and there’s a thought that the club could push for its first playoff berth since 2004.

    But are we totally sold that the Rams are just a reliable signal-caller away from contention? The selection of running back Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in April is cause for celebration, but it’s hard to tell what kind of impact he’ll have as a rookie after an injury-shortened final season at the University of Georgia.

    And we are still waiting on a wide receiving corps that few defenses seem to fear.

    That means we’re afraid to jump to the conclusion that this team has improved enough to make some noise in 2015.

    All free-agent information and player signings/transactions are courtesy of Spotrac. Depth chart information comes via Ourlads. Unless otherwise noted, all player and team statistics come from Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X