The 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars have been called many things, most of which contain some reference to a dumpster, natural disaster or Matt Millen. There’s no question they are a very bad football team.
Just how bad are they? To determine the futility level of this year's Jaguars team, let's compare them to the NFL's worst seasons in various statistical categories.
In order to see how the Jaguars stack up against the worst the history of the league has to offer, we will look at how their numbers compare to the league records for least points scored, least total yards per play, most points allowed, most total yards allowed and worst point differential.
Some of these records are held by teams that played less than 16 games, so we will extrapolate the Jaguars’ stats to the appropriate number of games to get accurate projected totals. I used Pro-Football-Reference.com's Play Index tools to get all statistics for this article.
Let’s see just how bad the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars are...
Least Points Scored
NFL Record—1942 Detroit Lions: 11 games, 38 points scored = 3.45 points per game
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 games, 28 points scored = 9.33 points per game
Points are the most important factor in a football game. To win, you must finish with more points than your opponent. This indicates scoring less points would seemingly correlate to less wins.
Extrapolated over 11 games, the Jaguars are on pace for 103 points. Clearly, the Jaguars do not belong with the 1942 Lions among the league’s historically bad offensive teams.
The Jaguars' advantage against the '42 Lions is partially aided by their ability to put up points in garbage time, as Jacksonville has scored almost half their points (13 of 28) in the fourth quarter with the game's outcome having been effectively decided.
At the rate they are currently scoring, Jacksonville is on pace to finish with 149 total points, which would be the third-worst total by a team in a 16-game season after the 1992 Seattle Seahawks (140 points) and the 1991 Indianapolis Colts (143 points).
The Seahawks went 2-14 in 1992, and the Colts went 1-15 in 1991, leading me to believe the Jaguars will have trouble winning more than a game or two if they don't start scoring more frequently.
Least Total Yards Per Play
NFL Record—1943 Brooklyn Dodgers: 10 games, 538 plays, 1,579 total yards = 2.93 yards per play
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 games, 198 plays, 691 total yards = 3.49 yards per play
Yards per play is a more telling statistic than total yards because it’s a better indicator of offensive efficiency. I’m sure you would agree a team that compiles 200 yards in 20 plays is a better offense team than a team that compiles 200 yards in 50 plays.
The 2013 Jaguars are not on the level of the '43 Dodgers in terms of offensive futility on a per-play basis, but they’re not too far from the bottom. If the Jaguars continue to accrue yards at the same rate they have to this point, they would finish as the ninth-worst offense in NFL history in terms of yards per play.
No team in the league has put up less than 3.5 yards per play since 1977 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with the second-worst total of all time (3.23 yards per play), but this year’s Jaguars team could easily challenge for inclusion into that group.
Whether it's Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne (or Ricky Stanzi?) under center, the Jaguars offense needs to step up their production to avoid membership in this unfortunate club.
Most Points Allowed
NFL Record—1950 Baltimore Colts: 12 games, 462 points allowed = 38.5 points per game
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 games, 92 points allowed = 30.67 points per game
The Jaguars aren't near the top (bottom?) of the ranks in terms of points allowed per game, but 30 points a game is still not going to result in many wins.
Jacksonville's lowest point total allowed this year has been the 19 points they gave up to the Raiders in Oakland, but that total was only as low as it was because the Raiders left points on the field due to mistakes and missed opportunities.
Twenty-five teams have allowed over 30 points per game in NFL history, the most recent of which being the 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an average of 30.88 points allowed per game. The 2013 Jaguars are on pace to be the 26th.
For what it's worth, teams that have allowed over 30 points per game have a combined record of 57-297-4, "good" for a winning percentage of .159. Translation: allowing over 30 points per game over the course of a season seems like a great way to net a top draft pick.
Most Total Yards Allowed Per Play
NFL Record—2012 New Orleans Saints: 16 games, 1,089 plays, 7,042 yards allowed = 6.47 yards allowed per play
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 games, 190 plays, 1,108 yards allowed = 5.83 yards allowed per play
The Jaguars aren't quite at the bottom of the barrel in terms of yards allowed per play, especially since this week's game against the Seahawks dramatically changed their ranking in this statistic.
Going into the game against Seattle, the Jaguars were "only" allowing 5.14 yards per play; however, the Seahawks put up 476 total yards in 67 offensive plays for an average of 7.1 yards per play, which skewed the Jaguars' numbers for the season.
The Jaguars defense doesn't seem to be quite as bad as the number of points they've allowed suggests, but it's not a good enough unit to keep them in games either.
The 2012 Saints actually managed to go 7-9, despite allowing more yards per play than any team in NFL history. Giving up points isn't a death sentence in itself; however, combined with an offense that consistently fails to put points on the board, it's a recipe for a lost season.
Worst Point Differential
NFL Record—1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 14 games, 125 points for, 412 points against; -287 point differential
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 games, 28 points for, 92 points against; -64 point differential
Obviously, it says a lot that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers set the NFL record for worst point differential while only playing a 14-game schedule, instead of the 16-game schedules teams play nowadays.
To accurately compare Jacksonville's point differential through three games to Tampa Bay's 1976 season, we must extrapolate the Jaguars' point differential to the end of the season to see what it would be if they continue on the same pace.
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars extrapolated over 16 games: 149 points for, 491 points against, -342 point differential
That's right...the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars are on pace to end with the worst point differential in NFL history. Worse than the winless 1976 Buccaneers and 2008 Detroit Lions. Worse than any team in any year ever. Now THAT'S historically bad.
If the Jaguars don't start scoring more points, picking up more yards, allowing less points, allowing less yards or a combination of those four things, they have a chance to finish as one of the worst teams in NFL history. They could realistically go winless. How did this happen?
Previous general manager Gene Smith left the Jaguars devoid of talent. His GM tenure resulted in trades up in the first round for Blaine Gabbert and Justin Blackmon, neither of whom have remotely met expectations. He spent a second-round pick on Andre Branch, who looks like a total bust. Smith's draft record looks like a cheat sheet of replacement-level NFL players.
Smith also gave mediocre players like Chad Henne and Aaron Ross contracts worth millions of dollars and locked up good-but-not-great players such as Paul Posluszny, Marcedes Lewis and Dawan Landry to long-term deals worth substantial financial commitments.
Smith's tenure as Jaguars GM was a colossal failure, and he left the team worse off than when he took over. This says a lot, considering the awful state of the Jaguars roster following the 2008 season.
New general manager Dave Caldwell inherited a mess, and this is the first year of a rebuilding process. Do the Jaguars have a bad football team right now? Absolutely. Could it be historically bad? You bet. Does that mean it's time to give up on the Jaguars' future? Definitely not.
If you're going to tank, do it right: Let your young players get their feet wet in game situations and get rid of anyone who doesn't fit the vision for the team's future. This isn't "Tank for Teddy"...this "tank" job is for us. This year might be painful for Jaguars fans, but the light at the end of the tunnel is visible if you look hard enough.