We are getting to the point in the NFL season when some teams find themselves playing for nothing more than pride. For many, an entire season has been lost with downright horrendous play. As a result, they become the butt of all jokes the national media wants to throw their way.
At some point, it becomes obvious that certain players on losing teams are just looking forward to a trip to Hawaii and the Appletini's that come with it. This is even more magnified when said team is going up against an opponent that actually has something to lose.
This was clearly evident on Thanksgiving night when the New York Jets looked more like Al Bundy taking on Bubba Smith on Married with Children than an actual football team.
A comedy of errors led to New York giving up a whopping 35 points to the New England Patriots in the second quarter that night. It was so bad that even as someone without a vested interest, I just wanted to see more in order to be entertained after engorging myself with about 3,000 calories of food and six bathroom trips worth of adult beverages.
Yes, football is pure entertainment and comedic gold sometimes. With that in mind, I am going to focus on 10 reasons why your favorite team "may, in fact, suck."
1. Ryan Lindley Becomes Its Best Option at Quarterback
Lindley, who the Cardinals selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft from San Diego State, didn't come into the league with many expectations. The word on the young quarterback was that he was too inaccurate to play at the next level.
Sideline Scouting had the following to say about Lindley prior to the 2012 draft in their scouting report of the marginal quarterback:
Inconsistent accuracy, will make a spectacular throw then a terrible one... Doesn't always put the ball on the mark, makes receivers adjust to his throws too often... Has a tendency to overthrow his passes, tries to throw every ball as hard as he can rather than utilizing touch passes... Numbers regressed as a senior after losing his top two targets in Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson... Has never completed 60 percent of his passes... Needs to work on his mechanics... Throws off his back foot too often.
Following an injury to Kevin Kolb and some poor performances from John Skelton, Lindley was given the reigns at Arizona's quarterback position midway through its Week 11 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The rookie responded by losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown on his initial possession.
Still, head coach Ken Whisenhunt, conceivably without any other options, named Lindley the Cardinals starter for their Week 12 game against the St. Louis Rams.
Lindley ended up throwing four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns by fellow rookie Janoris Jenkins. He threw the ball directly to Jenkins in a perfect position for a pick-six. That is an off-balance throw you just cannot make in the NFL.
It is this type of erratic play that caused scouts to question Lindley in the first place. He doesn't have the technique, field awareness or experience to be a decent starter right now.
When all is said and done, Arizona had to choose between the lesser of three evils. Risk throwing Kolb out there in front of an offensive line that has done little to keep him from eating dirt, give Skelton another opportunity to prove that he doesn't belong anywhere near an NFL stadium, or give someone with at least some upside an opportunity to show he can recreate this thing we call a forward pass.
Needless to say, Arizona, who has now loss eight consecutive games, needs to actually find itself a quarterback that reminds us less of this guy and more of an actual NFL quarterback.
2. Its Quarterback Cannot Avoid His Offensive Lineman's Back End
When sitting down to watch a football game after a huge Thanksgiving meal, many of us hoped for something entertaining so we wouldn't fall asleep with a turkey leg in our mouth. None of us really expected Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets to come through our television screens and commit cannibalism on said turkey leg.
Following a scoreless first quarter against the New England Patriots, Sanchez and company set into motion a comedy of errors that would make the late great Steve Sabol and NFL Films proud. Multiple turnovers led to a whopping 35 points for New England in the second quarter
Among the most hilariously awful plays of the entire 2012 NFL season, Sanchez and fullback Lex Hilliard mixed signals in the backfield. What proceeded was a comedic performance of epic proportions. Sanchez ran into the butt of Brandon Moore, fumbled the ball and saw it returned for a touchdown by New England.
When all was said and done, the Jets yielded a total of three touchdowns in 52 seconds. Yeah, that doesn't happen all too often. In fact, the Patriots scored more points in less than a minute than the Jets have scored in six games this season.
Talk about disturbingly bad. Wow!
3. Its Fans Get Excited over the Prospects of Chad Henne Starting
Yes, this Chad Henne.
It really took Chad Henne to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to their first win since September when he took over for the injured Blaine Gabbert in Week 11. This is the very same player that was benched for the likes of Tyler Thigpen with the Miami Dolphins.
Meanwhile, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick, who both went well after Gabbert in the 2011 NFL draft, are looking like more than viable starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Once again, Jacksonville's quarterback situation is right back at ground zero. It won't be able to acquire an elite signal-caller in the 2012 NFL draft because, simply put, there really aren't any.
Do they look at Alex Smith as a veteran option and have him battle it out with Gabbert and Henne? What about taking a look at another veteran?
Either way, new owner Shahid Khan finds himself in a precarious position right now, probably having to give up a on a top-10 pick from the 2011 draft and looking for leftovers from other teams to fill the all-important quarterback position.
Will he come up with the luck end of the wishbone?
History tells us a story that isn't too kind to that happening. Heck, he might get his wish of a Tebow "reunion," which would set this franchise on a collision course with Planet X and heading to Hollywood for a media-created sequel starring our favorite 1990s sitcom diva.
Short of Mr. Tebow's father descending from the heavens, Jacksonville will be mired in the basement of the AFC South for years to come.
4. Its 2010 NFL Draft Bust Posts that He's Ready to Join a Real Team After Being "Released"
Rolando McClain was the eighth pick in the 2010 NFL draft. There was tremendously high expectations for the former Alabama All-American and BCS National Champion.
In fact, NFL.com filed the following scouting report prior to the 2010 NFL draft:
McClain has great length and strength for the position and has been the Crimson Tide's most active defender in 2009. Rolando is an instinctive player that makes all the calls from the middle-linebacker position.
He sheds blockers well to leverage the ball and understands angles to maintain proper run fits to the line of scrimmage. McClain is disruptive attacking a crease when blitzing the quarterback. He is powerful as a tackler and keeps good balance in the open field.
It hasn't worked out all too well for the Oakland Raiders and their current/former linebacker. He has struggled a great deal covering from the middle-linebacker position and has been pretty much relegated to being a two-down backer.
As we already know, the best inside linebackers in the NFL can cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. We saw that with Ray Lewis when the future Hall of Famer was in his prime. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman with the San Francisco 49ers magnify this aspect even more so.
The issues with McClain don't end on the football field either.
Filed the San Francisco Chronicle last year:
McClain was arrested and charged with assault in the third degree, menacing, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm inside the city limits in an incident that took place late Wednesday night, Nov. 30, 2011, in his hometown of Decatur.
The troubled linebacker was later sentenced to 180 days in jail for the crime. Considering that he allegedly held a gun to the victim's head and threatened to kill him, McClain got off lucky.
Then, news broke on Wednesday that McClain had posted a troubling comment on his Facebook wall (since removed). It pretty much stated, and I am paraphrasing here, that he was no longer a member of the Raiders organization and "looks forward to playing for an actual team."
The problem with this is that Oakland came out later and stated that McClain wasn't, in fact, released from his contract.
While various reports indicate that McClain will be released later today, this is just another embarrassing moment in the saga that is the Raiders. It is even more embarrassing for the talented linebacker.
Does he realistically think that an NFL team will pick him up after the Raiders, who are on pace to have an historically bad defense, release him? It appears that reality and McClain go hand-in-hand like "that's a three-and-out and the Raiders defense."
To make matters worse, Oakland didn't just miss with the selection of McClain, it whiffed big time. Fellow inside linebackers Sean Lee and Daryl Washington went in the second round that April, while All-Pro NaVorro Bowman was selected 84 picks after McClain.
Of course, all of these front-office mistakes, including the trading of two early round picks to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer, were conducted under the prior regime.
All said, you really have to feel bad for first-year head coach Dennis Allen and fellow rookie general manager Reggie McKenzie. They inherited a sinking ship and may have to hit the SOS button (if there is one) before all is said and done.
5. Its City's Baseball Team has Won a Game More Recently than Its Football Team
How does this happen?
The Philadelphia Eagles are in the midst of their longest losing streak since the Reagan administration (1983). The Philadelphia Phillies have actually won a game since the Eagles—some 62 days ago.
They are currently without a $100 million quarterback in Michael Vick, Pro Bowl running back and $50 million receiver. They fired their defensive coordinator as a cop-out for the real problem, only to come back and stink it up even worst on that side of the ball.
Philadelphia has now resorted to starting a mid-round rookie quarterback and another first-year running back in the form of Bryce Brown, who quit just two games into the 2011 season with Kansas State.
I guess we shouldn't be too surprise that the Eagles, as a whole, have quit at this point in the season. Head coach Andy Reid appears to be on the brink of checking out; at least, if you have suffered through one of his recent press conferences, that's what it looks like.
A talented roster that the ultra-enigmatic Vince Young once called "The Dream Team" looks more destined for the toilet bowl than anything else this season.
Moving forward, there really isn't much confidence that this team is going to be able to rebound anytime in the near future either.
Vick could easily be jettisoned out of town, taking Reid with him. Philadelphia doesn't have a quarterback of the future; it is in a horrible salary-cap situation and has a roster filled with veterans who are just not performing up to task.
Finally, fans in "The City of Brotherly Love" might be justified in booing one of their teams off the field. This has gotten uglier than anyone could have scarcely imagined at the start of the season.
6. It Starts 4-0 and Can be Eliminated from Playoff Contention in Week 13
We heard it over and over again when the Arizona Cardinals were 4-0. All those who foolishly looked at history (80-percent chance of making postseason) really didn't look at the dynamics of the situation. It was a false sense of hope for an Arizona team that just doesn't have the talent to compete for a playoff spot in the NFC, let alone a division title in the NFC West.
Still, they were 4-0. History itself told us a story that seemed to benefit Arizona. After all, since 1990, 82.5 percent of the teams that start 4-0 go on to earn a ticket to the second season.
In fact, you do have to be pretty decent in order to win four consecutive games in the National Football League. A lot also has to go your way if you don't possess the overwhelming talent that some of the best teams in the league have right now.
Arizona doesn't possess that talent.
It is now mired in a seven-game losing streak, which ties it with the Philadelphia Eagles for the second longest in the league this season behind the Kansas City Chiefs (eight straight).
The blame game here could continue to go to the quarterback position, which was referenced above. However, Arizona's quarterbacks have been sacked a whopping 46 times in 11 games and are on pace to go down a combined 67 times this season.
To put that into perspective, Eli Manning has been sacked a total of 57 times since the start of the 2010 season. Not a single quarterback, no matter his talent level, would be successful under that type of constant barrage.
The major issue here is that Arizona's front office did little to address this issue in the offseason. It selected three mid-tier offensive line prospects in April's draft and signed a marginal offensive lineman in the form of Adam Snyder away from the San Francisco 49ers. Heck, Snyder wouldn't even sniff the starting lineup of 25 teams in the NFL right now.
It's too bad, because Arizona has built something nice at its skills positions and on the defensive side of the ball. The Cardinals now need to actually address the two major shortcomings that are keeping them away from contention—quarterback and the offensive line.
Losing seven consecutive after winning your first four makes you an embarrassment. It really is that simple at this point.
7. Its Team Mascot Quits
This isn't good.
When your de-facto team mascot ups and quits on you, it really isn't a great sign.
While "Ed the Fireman" utilized the rationale that he was sick and tired of New York Jets fans when drawing up his resignation letter, I am pretty sure that the poor play from his team might have accounted for some of the venting on Metro.
See, fans actually do pay money to go see their teams play a game of football. They want to be be treated with some type of respect in the stands. More importantly, they want to actually see a decent product on the football field.
What the Jets did on Thanksgiving, already noted above, is tell their fans that it's okay to quit because we checked out a few weeks back. They're now just grown men running into one another on the football field, a quarterback playing like he is more interested in his most recent GQ photo spread and a head coach that has completely lost the locker room.
This isn't what fans pay for.
They expect the players and team to actually provide a serviceable product and play at a relatively high level. Even if the cheapest ticket for the Jets' upcoming home game against the lowly Arizona Cardinals is just $22, it is still too much. While Ed will definitely be watching from another part of the stadium on Sunday, I don't blame him one bit for giving the ol' middle finger to the players, the organization and even other fans.
Sometimes, it's best to just move on.
I guess that's what the Jets plan to do following the 2012 regular season. Their players will assuredly cash their paychecks and take a trip to Venice, Italy or something. Meanwhile, the fans will show up at Radio City Music Hall in April hoping against hope that this franchise and Woody Johnson get it right.
Don't hold your breath.
8. Norv Turner is Still Its Head Coach
Let's get this straight for a second. The San Diego Chargers have now lost six out of seven and are pretty much out of the AFC playoff picture. They have turned the ball over 16 times in those seven games and just blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter after giving up 30 yards to Ray Rice on 4th-and-29.
I just wanted to make sure I was clear on what is actually happening in Southern California.
Maybe owner Alex Spanos might want to tell his director of media relations to blame the fans once again.
There's still no word on whether head coach Norv Turner will be fired, though that is long overdue. What about general manager A.J. Smith, who has succeeded in gutting what was a Super Bowl contender just a couple seasons ago?
While I wouldn't go as far to say that the Chargers have one of the worst front offices from top to bottom in the NFL, it is getting damn near close to that level. A team that came into this season with playoff expectations is now pretty much playing out the string over the course of the last five weeks.
Of course, Philip Rivers and company will probably win five meaningless games in a row like they have done in the recent past, but it really doesn't matter.
The Chargers have become an absolute joke, almost on par with their California brothers, the Oakland Raiders.
The simple fact that Turner has retained his job at this point portrays the Chargers organization as nothing more than a bunch of stooges following a sheep down the one way path to self-destruction.
The definition of insanity if doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results.
It's damn time that San Diego actually switches it up a bit. Don't you think?
9. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Tony Romo
Yes, that is Pee-Wee Herman right there with Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Tony Romo. I attempted to find a picture with Herman and owner Jerry Jones, but the latter was probably too busy looking for a glory hole somewhere.
Oh, too many jokes and so little time.
As it is, Romo and Jones join Jason Garrett to form one of the most dysfunctional trios in the National Football League. The talent is most definitely there in Dallas, but until some drastic changes are made, this team is going to be nothing more than mediocre in a great conference.
Even at 5-6, Dallas is just one game out of the playoffs in the NFC. That being said, there is no one out there with any sense of logic that believes they are even close to contention at this point.
A lot of the blame has been placed on Romo, but there are so many different things wrong with the Cowboys that it would be unfair to pinpoint it all on him.
Romo is constantly running for his life behind what has to be one of the worst offensive lines in the entire NFL. Why Jones and company didn't recognize this weakness and attempt to fix it in the offseason is beyond me. As I mentioned before, no quarterback can succeed while being under constant pressure in the backfield.
Star wide receiver Dez Bryant, despite showing flashes, continues to be an immature and enigmatic figure. Heck, Dallas has even had to give the young receiver a curfew.
For his part, Garrett continues to make some of the most egregious in-game coaching decisions that we have seen in some time.
The most recent example of that was against the Cleveland Browns a couple weeks ago. Dallas was on the verge of taking the lead late in the game and prepared to leave the Browns without any time on the clock. Instead of running it out, Garrett and company called a timeout. This ultimately left a whole host of time on the clock for Cleveland to come back and win the game.
While the Browns were unable to take advantage—because, after all, they are the Browns—this lends more credence to the idea that Garrett just isn't a NFL-caliber head coach.
Wash, rinse, repeat. This story has been written over and over again throughout his two-plus years as the Cowboys head coach.
That being said, we cannot expect anything to change in Dallas until the culture itself changes. They aren't going to be a contending team as long as Jones has his hands in the proverbial cookie jar making every major player-personnel decision.
Until he takes a hands-off approach, the Cowboys will forever be mired in mediocrity.
10. It's the Kansas City Chiefs
Not much more needed in this header. Arrowhead Stadium used to be the envy of every other team around the NFL. Nearly 80,000 rabid fans decked out in that intimidating red, making the opposing team nearly sweat their jockstraps off.
Those were the days, as Archie used to put it.
Now, going into Kansas City is nowhere near the daunting task that it used to be. The Chiefs have yet to win a game at home this season in five tries. If they lose their final three games at home, it would represent the first time in franchise history that the Chiefs fail to win a home game. They have been outscored by an average of over two touchdowns per outing in those five home games.
Needless to say, the fans aren't too happy at this point.
Things boiled over when fans cheered what appeared to be a serious Matt Cassel injury during a Week 5 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
This prompted offensive tackle Eric Winston, in his first season with the Chiefs, to come out with the following after the game:
When you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out—I don't care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel—it's sickening. It's 100-percent sickening. I've been in some rough times on some rough teams; I've never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.
The veteran offensive lineman is definitely justified in his anger at the situation. No player, his performance aside, should ever be cheered when he is down on the field injured. In reality, any fan doing that represents the lowest common denominator.
That being said, Winston and the rest of Kansas City's players should be absolutely embarrassed by its performance over the course of the last couple seasons. Fans pay a high price to attend games and deserve better.
The reason why the Chiefs as a whole make this article is due to the fact that they have a tremendous amount of talent on both sides of the ball. Jamaal Charles, Winston, Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry are all Pro Bowl caliber players.
How the hell is a team with that type of roster 1-10 through 12 weeks?
Anything short of cleaning house completely probably won't change what we are seeing in Kansas City right now. Neither Cassel nor Brady Quinn are the long-term solutions at quarterback. Head coach Romeo Crennel just isn't getting it done, and Scott Pioli has been somewhat of a disaster as general manager.
One primary problem here is that there isn't really a franchise quarterback that Kansas City can pick up with what will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
One thing is for sure: the Chiefs must step up as an organization and change what is quickly becoming a laughingstock around the league.
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