Grading Every NFL Team's Offseason Before the 2017 Draft
The NFL resides in a perpetual state of movement. Even before the Lombardi Trophy is handed to its latest recipient, other teams are diligently preparing for the following campaign.
In essence, professional football follows the narrative of a Game of Thrones episode. Everyone knows winter—or the draft—is coming, yet the jockeying to establish dominance never ends.
The league's 32 fiefdoms operate in their best interests to crush each opponent. This doesn't just occur during the regular season. Preparation during the offseason's downtime often determines future success.
The New England Patriots operate like the Lannisters. They're ruthless, cunning, witty and unwilling to give up the throne.
A kingslayer will eventually emerge, though. Which team ultimately ascends and challenges the Patriots' dominance is determined during the offseason. Thus, teams that fail to take full advantage of every available opportunity are doomed to failure.
Bleacher Report slashes through the rigmarole to determine which franchises have done the most in an attempt to dethrone the reigning champions.
The Arizona Cardinals experienced a massive exodus this offseason.
Calais Campbell will no longer be the team's anchor along the defensive front after signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tony Jefferson, Kevin Minter and D.J. Swearinger combined to make 243 tackles last season. All three left in free agency too.
In return, the Cardinals signed aging veterans Karlos Dansby and Antoine Bethea, who have accrued 24 seasons between them.
Arizona retained Chandler Jones and re-signed tight end Jermaine Gresham, but the roster is worse today than it was last season.
The Atlanta Falcons are built for the long haul. This year's Super Bowl appearance shouldn't be a one-year aberration. General manager Thomas Dimitroff put together an exciting young roster with very few problem areas.
As such, the team could have stood pat prior to the draft and entered next season with a top roster. Instead, Atlanta made a splash in free agency with the addition of Dontari Poe.
Poe, a two-time Pro Bowl performer, adds to a defensive interior that already features Grady Jarrett and Ra'Shede Hageman. Free agency's top available defensive tackle provides size, athleticism and a stout body against the run.
At this point, right guard is the only glaring hole on the Falcons roster.
A year ago, the Ravens organization lured Eric Weddle to Baltimore. After he provided another Pro Bowl campaign, the team decided Weddle needed a strong counterpart. At 25 years old, Tony Jefferson was considered a marquee free agent with multiple franchises interested in his services, and the safety took less money to play for the Ravens.
"He is an ascending player," general manager Ozzie Newsome said, per ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley. "You are really lucky when you can get a player at the age of what Tony is and then get to watch him mature as a man and mature as a football player. That was attractive to us."
Despite Jefferson's addition and Brandon Williams' retention, Baltimore suffered a few key losses when right tackle Ricky Wagner, defensive end Lawrence Guy and Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk signed with other teams.
One goal supersedes everything else for the Buffalo Bills: The team desperately wants to make the playoffs for the first time this millennium. Since Rex Ryan's braggadocious approach couldn't relieve the franchise's plight, the coach was dismissed. Enter Sean McDermott.
Immediate changes to the roster and new approach became apparent. The organization renegotiated quarterback Tyrod Taylor's deal to retain his services. It signed defensive back Micah Hyde and fullbacks Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert to help create a new culture. Meanwhile, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, linebacker Zach Brown and wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin left in free agency.
Arguably the team's best additions came as part of the new coaching staff when McDermott added a pair of experienced coordinators in Rick Dennison and Leslie Frazier.
The Carolina Panthers made arguably the most head-scratching move in free agency when they signed left tackle Matt Kalil to a five-year, $55 million contract, per Spotrac. Yes, the Panthers desperately needed an upgrade at the position, but Kalil has been a disappointment through his first five seasons.
Otherwise, the team's offseason has gone quite well.
Julius Peppers returned to the Panthers after a seven-year absence. Fellow veteran Charles Johnson returns for his 11th campaign. General manager Dave Gettleman flipped Kony Ealy and a third-round pick to the New England Patriots for a second-round selection. Captain Munnerlyn and Mike Adams will help upgrade the secondary too.
Mike Tolbert, Mike Remmers and Ted Ginn did depart, but they're not significant losses.
As the Chicago Bears enter Year 3 of John Fox's tenure, the team needs to show significant improvement. A 9-23 record through his first two campaigns doesn't elicit hope.
The fact the organization allowed top wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to leave doesn't help, although Jay Cutler's release can be considered addition by subtraction.
The Bears responded by signing Mike Glennon to become the team's starting quarterback. He will be surrounded by wide receivers Kevin White (fingers crossed he stays healthy) and Cameron Meredith and last year's breakout star, running back Jordan Howard. The additions of tight end Dion Sims and receivers Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton should also help Glennon's transition into his new role.
The Cincinnati Bengals roster was pillaged during free agency.
The team's two best offensive linemen, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, are no longer on the roster. Running back Rex Burkhead proved to be the team's most effective back in limited opportunities, but he's now a member of the New England Patriots. Veteran leader Domata Peko is gone. Even the team's leading tackler, Karlos Dansby, wasn't retained.
Each is a major loss. The Bengals provided a pair of positive counter moves.
Dre Kirkpatrick's re-signing was crucial since he was expected to draw a lot of attention on the open market. Kevin Minter's acquisition during the second wave of free agency helps the Bengals become younger and more athletic at linebacker.
The Cleveland Browns spent free agency trying to build a stronger foundation.
The organization splurged when it signed the top available guard and center, Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter respectively. Incumbent left guard Joel Bitonio also agreed to a long-term extension. While signing interior blockers to massive contracts isn't sexy, they help build the cockpit for whatever quarterback takes snaps during the upcoming campaign.
Maybe the team's biggest move came when it traded for quarterback Brock Osweiler. However, the deal was viewed as nothing more than a salary dump by the Houston Texans. Osweiler isn't expected to start for Cleveland either. Instead, the acquisition of another future second-round pick became Cleveland's top priority.
The team grew stagnant beyond that point. Despite plenty of available cap space and multiple holes to fill, the Browns haven't been active during free agency's second wave.
The Dallas Cowboys are positioned well in the coming years with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their backfield. However, the organization's allegiance to Tony Romo created a missed opportunity to upgrade its roster.
In the long run, Romo's retirement is the best scenario for the franchise. However, Jerry Jones' refusal to release him prior to the start of free agency cost the team a chance to retain key free agents or upgrade problem areas on the roster.
Barry Church, Brandon Carr, J.J. Wilcox, Morris Claiborne and Terrell McClain all signed with other franchises. Each of those defenders played 400 or more snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus. Being able to retain just one of them or acquire a replacement would have improved Dallas' defense.
Instead, the team was only able to sign veteran Nolan Carroll, who graded among the league's worst cornerbacks last season.
After Gary Kubiak's unexpected departure due to health concerns, the Denver Broncos hired Vance Joseph as the 13th full-time head coach in the organization's history.
Once the new coaching staff was in place, general manager John Elway set about addressing the trenches on both sides of the ball. Guard Ronald Leary became the team's biggest offseason acquisition with the idea the 27-year-old blocker will solidify the offensive interior. Right tackle Menelik Watson was also added to compete for a starting spot.
Defensively, Zach Kerr and Domata Peko will provide a bigger and more physical interior.
Two questions remain: Who will start at quarterback and man his blind side?
The Detroit Lions made a big splash in free agency when they signed right tackle Ricky Wagner and guard T.J. Lang to solidify the offensive line. While both are excellent additions, the team merely swapped one set of starters for another. Since Riley Reiff and Larry Warford left in free agency, Detroit needed a new right side.
An argument can be made both Wagner and Lang are upgrades, but Warford and Reiff were reliable pros.
Otherwise, the Lions made marginal strides by signing tight end Darren Fells, cornerback D.J. Hayden, linebacker Paul Worrilow and defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Akeem Spence.
Two veteran presences will be missed in the locker room too. The team released DeAndre Levy after he played in only six games during the last two seasons due to injury. Anquan Boldin, the team's second-leading receiver in 2016, remains a free agent.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers' organizational approach is built around drafting well and re-signing the team's homegrown talent. The franchise veered from its modus operandi to a certain degree this offseason.
First, general manager Ted Thompson made a big move in free agency when he didn't re-sign Jared Cook and agreed instead to a deal with Martellus Bennett. Bennett was the top available tight end and an upgrade. The former Patriot is a better all-around performer than Cook, and he's a more reliable option, having played more snaps in each of the last four campaigns, per Pro Football Focus.
The team was also able to re-sign linebacker Nick Perry, although multiple key performers left. The Packers didn't retain defensive back Micah Hyde, guard T.J. Lang, center JC Tretter, running back Eddie Lacy and outside linebackers Julius Peppers and Datone Jones.
The fact the Houston Texans were able to ship quarterback Brock Osweiler to another team automatically makes it a successful offseason.
"I couldn't believe that Rick [Smith] was able to pull it off," owner Bob McNair said of Houston's general manager at the owners meeting, per the Houston Chronicle's John McClain. "It's unbelievable. Everybody around the league, their jaws are still hanging open."
Not only did the organization avoid Osweiler's $16 million cap hit this season, the quarterback's exit allows the franchise to immediately search for a replacement instead of hoping his play improved.
As important as moving Osweiler is to the Texans, the losses of cornerback A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps and John Simon are significant. Bouye was arguably the top available free agent, while Demps provided a strong veteran presence along the secondary's back line.
The departure of Ryan Grigson as the Indianapolis Colts' general manager was a massive step in the right direction for the organization. The team regressed under Grigson due to poor drafting (aside from his first class in 2012), ill-advised trades and over-the-hill free-agent signings.
When Chris Ballard stepped into the role, the organization took a different course with an emphasis on younger and more athletic players.
The Colts made one of the offseason's best signings well over a month into free agency. Johnathan Hankins was one of the top, young defenders on the market. Yet his asking price scared away multiple teams. The Colts decided to bring in the 25-year-old defensive tackle.
Along with Hankins, the Colts prioritized their pass rush with the signings of Jabaal Sheard, John Simon and Barkevious Mingo.
The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to be aggressive in free agency. After a massive offseason haul last year—which included the additions of Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson and Chris Ivory—the team's 2016 failure didn't scare the franchise from going big in free agency for a second straight year.
Jacksonville spent $172 million in total contract value during free agency, per Spotrac. This doesn't include the addition of left tackle Branden Albert, whom the team acquired via trade from the Miami Dolphins.
A.J. Bouye headlined this year's additions and served as a double whammy. First, the Jaguars landed arguably the No. 1 available free agent in the 25-year-old cornerback. Plus, Jacksonville signed him away from the rival Houston Texans. The team didn't stop there and acquired an anchor along the defensive line in the always reliable Calais Campbell.
With a new direction under executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone, the Jaguars are primed to convert a talented roster into a winning team.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs faced multiple difficult decisions this offseason, starting with Jamaal Charles' future. The organization decided to release its all-time leading rusher.
"I have a great deal of admiration for Jamaal Charles, his toughness and what he's been able to achieve in his time in Kansas City," general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. "These decisions are never easy, but we felt it was in the best interests of the club to move on at this time."
Charles never returned to form after tearing an ACL during the 2015 campaign and only played in three games last season.
Meanwhile, Kansas City re-signed All-Pro safety Eric Berry to a six-year, $78 million contract, per Spotrac, but did so at the expense of Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, who left to sign with the Atlanta Falcons. The Chiefs replaced Poe with Bennie Logan, though.
Los Angeles Chargers
As the Chargers prepare for life in Los Angeles, the team overhauled its coaching staff with the hire of Anthony Lynn as head coach.
In four years, the Chargers went from a 9-7 squad in Mike McCoy's first two seasons to a 9-23 franchise from 2015-16. Quietly, the roster eroded from the inside out.
Thus, the team set about finding improvements to a patchwork offensive line. The organization released former first-round pick D.J. Fluker and left tackle King Dunlap, and it signed Russell Okung to a four-year, $53 million contract, per Spotrac, to man Philip Rivers' blind side.
While overall roster movement was sparse, Lynn's hires of three experienced coordinators will help the first-time head coach. Gus Bradley, Ken Whisenhunt and George Stewart are chock-full of experience as play-callers.
Los Angeles Rams
The era of outdated football is finally over for the Los Angeles Rams.
Jeff Fisher is no longer the head coach after five seasons of 31-45 play. The Rams decided to shirk the old guard and trend in the opposite direction with the hire of 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay. The Rams should feature a modern NFL offense for the first time in a long time.
"This 24-year-old kid came in and knew everything about the offense and everything about everything," retired Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said about McVay, who served as his position coach, per ESPN.com's Alden Gonzalez. "I learned more about football than I had in my entire career in four weeks."
Along with McVay's arrival, the team's free-agent acquisitions of Andrew Whitworth, Robert Woods, Connor Barwin and Nickell Robey-Coleman improved the Rams at left tackle, slot receiver, defensive end and nickel corner respectively.
The most important yet overlooked aspect of player movement is how certain situations affect an individual's success.
For example, tight end Julius Thomas was a two-time Pro Bowl performer with the Denver Broncos under Adam Gase's supervision as his offensive coordinator. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Thomas to a large contract in 2015, but he never lived up to expectations. Thomas reunited with Gase this offseason when the Miami Dolphins traded for his services. Since the Dolphins head coach knows how to maximize Thomas' skill set, an uptick in play should result.
Tight end Anthony Fasano may be the Dolphins' most interesting offseason acquisition because he's the NFL's best blocking tight end and a perfect complement to Thomas.
Familiarity often breeds success, yet Miami will need to incorporate veterans Lawrence Timmons, Nate Allen and T.J. McDonald into the defense after re-signing Andre Branch and extending Reshad Jones' contract.
For a decade, running back Adrian Peterson defined the Minnesota Vikings organization. The Vikings rode the Hall of Fame talent for as long as they could before declining his 2017 option to keep him as the NFL's highest-paid back.
Instead, Peterson remains a free agent, while the Vikings moved on by signing former Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray.
Who carries the football won't matter if the Vikings can't build an offensive line capable of opening holes on a consistent basis. As such, the organization made a concerted effort to rebuild its offensive front with the signings of offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. Between the two, Minnesota invested $88.75 million in total contract value for the bookends, per Spotrac. The draft will likely provide even more offensive line talent to the roster.
The Vikings' failures last season started up front. The offensive front is better now than it was just two months ago.
New England Patriots
On paper, the New England Patriots are a better team today than when they captured a 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
New England retained three vital pieces of its defense when it re-signed nose tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Duron Harmon. From that point, the franchise wasn't content with its roster because areas existed where Bill Belichick and Co. wanted to improve.
The offense needed a consistent vertical threat, so the organization traded its first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for a 23-year-old, 1,000-yard wide receiver in Brandin Cooks. Instead of trying to negotiate with the top available tight end on the free-agent market, Martellus Bennett, the Patriots acquired Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts. As veterans Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard prepared for free agency, New England also made a trade with the Carolina Panthers to land defensive end Kony Ealy.
Plus, the Patriots signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore, running back Rex Burkhead and defensive end Lawrence Guy. This franchise is preparing for yet another Super Bowl run.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints haven't built their roster like any other organization since head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees arrived in the Big Easy prior to the 2006 campaign.
The Saints are an offense-driven franchise, and Brees leads the way, but the team made sure to hide deficiencies. How the team has built the offensive line is a perfect example. Since Brees is only 6'0", New Orleans prioritizes guards who can establish a strong interior pocket over the more valuable offensive tackle position. As such, Larry Warford became the team's biggest offseason signing to replace stalwart Jahri Evans.
Another example can be found at wide receiver where the franchise was willing to trade a dynamic, young wide receiver in Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots for a first-round pick. The Saints know there are others on the roster who can produce in their explosive offense, but the value the team received in return was far too tempting.
New Orleans hasn't made much progress on the defensive side of the ball, though. The signings of A.J. Klein, Alex Okafor and Manti Te'o don't move the needle.
New York Giants
One move improved the New York Giants by leaps and bounds as the 2017 NFL draft appears: Brandon Marshall's signing has the potential to make the team's offense into one of the league's best.
At 33 years old, Marshall isn't the player he once was, but his presence in the lineup alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard provides the Giants with arguably the best trio of wide receivers in the league. Marshall is the big, physical target New York lacked in recent years. Also, his league experience should be a boon to Beckham, whose combustible personality needs to be reined in at times.
The Giants still have problem areas at left tackle, tight end and running back. The free-agent additions of D.J. Fluker, Rhett Ellison and Shaun Draughn don't address those issues.
Marshall's signing is a tremendous opportunity to continue to build a more dynamic offense as long as those other areas are improved.
New York Jets
The New York Jets have finally entered a true rebuilding phase. Unfortunately for head coach Todd Bowles, the Jets aren't constructed to win during the 2017 campaign.
The organization released veterans Nick Mangold, Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis and Ryan Clady. An obvious changing of the guard needed to occur since the Jets lacked salary-cap space, and overpaid, aging veterans are the first to go.
But the team wasn't in position to sign quality replacements. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum, cornerback Morris Claiborne and quarterback Josh McCown are stopgaps. The Jets roster requires a massive overhaul. It doesn't even feature any of the four cornerstone positions—quarterback, left tackle, pass-rusher or cornerback—to inspire confidence that it's heading in the right direction.
Aside from the defensive line, New York owns one of the league's worst rosters.
The NFL's approval of a Raiders move to Las Vegas dominated the organization's offseason. But the move won't occur for a few more years, and the current team features one of the league's best up-and-coming rosters.
Quarterback Derek Carr already had the luxury of throwing to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. He'll benefit even more from the addition of Jared Cook. A tight end hasn't produced more than 534 receiving yards in a season since Carr became the Raiders' starter. A healthy Cook is one of the league's more dangerous pass-catching tight ends.
New signing Cordarrelle Patterson hasn't lived up to first-round expectations, but his speed adds another element to the offense and special teams.
The franchise is waiting to see what will become of its running game. Last year's top rusher, Latavius Murray, signed with the Minnesota Vikings. There have been numerous reports that Marshawn Lynch may come out of retirement to join the Raiders, but nothing is official. Even so, the league has to officially reinstate the retired running back, and the Raiders must provide the Seattle Seahawks with compensation for his services.
The Philadelphia Eagles are still trying to mold their team in Doug Pederson's vision. Last year they expunged multiple players brought in to play for Chip Kelly, drafted quarterback Carson Wentz and became less predictable on both sides of the ball.
The results were hit and miss with a 7-9 record that included a three-game winning streak to open the season, a five-game losing streak and a two-game winning streak to end the campaign.
Even though Pederson has his team trending in the right direction, multiple positions required upgrades.The Eagles targeted a pair of new starting wide receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Former first-round pick Chance Warmack adds depth and competition along the offensive line while rejoining his collegiate offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland.
On defense, Chris Long will attempt to replace Connor Barwin, and cornerback remains a pressing need.
The Pittsburgh Steelers usually aren't active during the offseason, yet the organization deftly navigated the second wave of free agency.
The additions of defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, wide receiver Justin Hunter, defensive back Coty Sensabaugh and running back Knile Davis help fortify four different position groups. None of them are marquee additions, but they're solid football players who add to the team's overall depth.
These moves supplement the organizational's more traditional philosophy of building from within. This became evident when the Steelers signed three-time first-team All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to a four-year, $68 million contract extension, per Spotrac.
Along with the potential reinstatement of wide receiver Martavis Bryant, the Steelers positioned themselves with a strong offseason to gain ground on the AFC favorites, the New England Patriots.
San Francisco 49ers
After two years of turmoil, the San Francisco 49ers appear to have a winning duo in first-time general manager John Lynch and new head coach Kyle Shanahan. While Lynch and Shanahan seem to be an odd couple, the two may ultimately mesh as well as Oscar Madison and Felix Unger.
"They know what their strengths are, they know what their weaknesses are and they are so complementary of each other that it's great watching how they work together," 49ers CEO Jed York said, per ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner.
They've started to shape the roster in their image with numerous free-agent acquisitions, including fullback Kyle Juszczyk, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, linebacker Malcolm Smith and quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.
A plan appears to be in place to point the team in the right direction, but too many unknowns exist even after apparent improvements upon last year's roster.
The Seattle Seahawks' offseason has been dominated by Richard Sherman trade rumors. Whether or not the All-Pro cornerback is eventually moved overshadows the fact Seattle hasn't done much to improve its roster, particularly in the trenches.
Head coach Pete Carroll seems unwilling to admit last year's offensive line was a disaster and requires massive upgrades. Instead of making a serious run at a top free-agent blocker, the Seahawks signed former second overall pick Luke Joeckel, whose career has been a bust.
"Luke is a guy who started at left tackle, was drafted at left tackle. I'm thinking of him as that, knowing he can play left guard," Carroll rationalized, per ESPN.com's Sheil Kapadia.
With the offensive line yet to be adequately addressed, Eddie Lacy's addition holds far less value since he needs room to run to provide the presence Seattle has lacked since Marshawn Lynch's retirement.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are gearing up for a run at an NFC South title in 2017. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons remain one of the league's best teams. If this year's NFC representative in Super Bowl LI takes a step back after its heart-wrenching overtime loss, the Bucs have the tools necessary to take advantage.
At 9-7, Tampa Bay finished only two games behind the Falcons last year. With Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David already in place, the organization continued to flesh out the roster in free agency with strong complementary pieces.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson provides an exceptional vertical threat opposite Evans. The veteran will help open up a pass offense that finished 16th last season. On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Baker can serve as a strong run-stuffer next to Gerald McCoy, and J.J. Wilcox will pair with Keith Tandy to form the team's new safety duo.
If Tampa Bay finds a running game (Adrian Peterson, anyone?) and keeps Winston upright, the Bucs may find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Tennessee Titans entered the offseason with two obvious need areas after a surprising 9-7 finish to the 2016 campaign. Upgrades were necessary at wide receiver and in the secondary. The team addressed one of the two in free agency.
The additions of safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Logan Ryan provide the Titans with two reliable pieces. Last season, Cyprien led all safeties with 128 total tackles. Meanwhile, Ryan graded as one of the league's better nickel corners, per Pro Football Focus.
These two steps forward were followed by a slight step back when the organization decided to release its most reliable defensive back, veteran Jason McCourty.
While the secondary is better overall, the Titans have yet to add a legitimate weapon to the skill positions. Both cornerback and wide receiver remain target areas during the upcoming draft.
The Washington Redskins' smear campaign of former general manager Scot McCloughan led to the league's worst offseason. Two reasons were given that led to the decision. First, McCloughan was reportedly drinking again. Second, the team didn't like him. Neither seems to be true.
"I know all the players did love Scot," former Washington wide receiver Pierre Garςon said, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. "Scot was a great guy, a football guy, all the players loved Scot and definitely [are] going to miss him."
The organization continues to operate without a general manager. Even so, it managed a handful of quality free-agent signings in wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, linebacker Zach Brown, defensive tackle Terrell McClain and safety D.J. Swearinger.
However, Washington's continued mismanagement mars whatever small successes the team seems to achieve.