NFL training camp is right around the corner, literally. Rookies are set to report today, with QB’s and injured players reporting a couple of days later. While the players report to camp, let’s jog your memory of the worst teams from the past decade, as the first season of the new decade is almost upon us.
2010 Worst Team: Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers started off the decade losing an impressive 14 games under head coach John Fox. Three QB’s combined to throw nine touchdowns all season. Nine. Thirteen players during the 2010 season caught more TDs than the entire Panthers offense.
Fox was fired between weeks 16 & 17, after running the team for the previous nine seasons. The highlight of Fox’s tenure as a head coach came in only his second season, where he had managed to make a 10-victory improvement since taking over, and led the team to the Super Bowl against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Pats would go on to win via a last-second field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri, and the Panthers would never again sniff that level of success under Fox.
As the QB’s struggled to throw a touchdown, the run game did not fare any better, with four backs amazing only seven TD’s on the season. Only two seasons prior had running back DeAngelo Williams run for a league-high 18 TD’s, but in 2010, while playing in only six games, he managed to score one TD via the run while gaining 361 yards on 87 carries. Luckily for the Panthers, some guy named Cameron Newton was draft-eligible out of Auburn University.
2011 Worst Team: Indianapolis Colts
According to former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning injured his neck back in a game against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 22, 2006. Manning experienced discomfort for a while, but kept it to himself/was written off by the trainers. A little less than four years later, a report came out that Manning had been injured before week one of the 2010 season, something he played through.
It was after the 2010 season Manning underwent two noninvasive surgeries to make sure the disk he’d hurt, would not damage the nerve. Eventually, Manning had his spine fused, successfully. But that meant he’d be out the entire 2011 season. Some questioned if he would ever be able to suit up again.
Without Manning, the Colts limped their way to a 2-14 record, running out Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins at QB. Orlovsky was no stranger to horrible teams, quarterbacking the Detroit Lions three seasons prior to the fourth winless season in league history. In total, the Colts scored 25 touchdowns via offense and defense, while giving up 49. Head coach Jim Caldwell was shown the door, and with a little bit of luck, the team’s future magically turned brighter.
2012 Worst Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Long before Pat Mahomes ran the offense with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs had a lot less success on the field. Very little success in fact. In head coach Romeo Crennel’s final season, the Chiefs clawed their way to a 2-14 record. Unlike the previous two worst teams, the Chiefs only trotted out two QB’s during the season.
Former Brady protege, Matt Cassel threw for only 1,796 yards and six touchdowns, against 12 interceptions, while Brady Quinn (remember him?) threw for 1,141 yards, two touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Running back Jamaal Charles attempted to keep the team in games, rushing for five touchdowns on 285 for 1,509 yards, while hauling in 35 passes. Defensively, the team was led by young, rising stars, Eric Berry and Justin Houston, who combined for over 150 tackles, 23 for loss, and ten sacks. The ensuing draft pick did not work out as well as the team hoped it would.
2013 Worst Team: Houston Texans
Houston started the season on a nice two-game win streak. Then things fell apart. Quickly. After scoring at least 30 points in the first two games, the Texans could only muster nine in the third game. Another loss in week four, followed by 31-point drumming at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, left the team 2-3 with no easy win ahead. Houston eventually finished the season on a 14-game losing streak, capped off by head coach Gary Kubiak collapsing on the sideline midway through a 15, 22-point loss at the Colts.
On five separate occasions during the season, the Texans were held to fewer than 10 points in a game, including four games in which they scored in the single digits. Running back Arian Foster, who in the previous season ran for a league-high 15 TD’s, was only able to find the end zone once via the ground and once via the air. In eight starts, Matt Schaub threw for ten touchdowns and 14 interceptions while backup Case Keenum fared a little bit better, becoming the first QB on the worst team, so far, to have a batter touchdown to interception ratio, with nine and six respectively.
A week after Kubiak collapsed on the sideline, he was fired and replaced by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on an interim basis. Phillips got canned at seasons end. The two of them had the last laugh, linking up in Denver two seasons leading, with Kubiak as the head coach and Phillips defense leading the Broncos to a super bowl victory. Now, if only Texans owner Bob McNair had kept the pair around.
2014 Worst Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Former Chicago Bears head coach, Love Smith, had to been hired to turn around a franchise that had not experienced success since Jon Gruden had been shown the door at the end of the ’08 season. Smith was the third head coach since Gruden, with the previous two only winning more than seven games, once, and never making the playoffs.
Smith would experience the same bad luck as his predecessors, and the playoff drought continued. Led by 35-year-old QB, Josh McCown, and inexperienced Mike Glennon, the Bucs finished 2-14. The two signal-callers combined to throw 21 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. At least they managed to score a little, unlike previous last-place teams.
Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans stole the show on offense, pulling in 68 passes for 1051 and 12 touchdowns. McCown, yes, the QB, led the team with three rushing touchdowns. Defensively, linebacker David Lavonte had a career season, racking up 146 tackles, 17 for loss, with four forced fumbles and one recovery. He’s been a mainstay on the team ever since. Lovie Smith hasn’t. A little more than two years into a five-year deal, Smith was shown the door. Don’t feel bad for the Bucs, though; they now have some guy named Brady at QB and Gronk at Tight End along with Evans and wide receiver Chris Godwin.
2015 Worst Team: Tennesse Titans
For the first time in the decade, the worst team won more than two games. Woo. But this time, unlike all the other organizations, they were led by a recent top-three draft pick. In the previous season, the Titans finished just behind the Bucs. They picked QB Marcus Mariota out of Oregon, second (remember when commissioner Roger Goodell fumbled his name on draft night? Good times.)
Mariota started the season on the right foot, pummeling the Bucs 42-14, then the team went on a six-game losing streak. An overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints in week nine stopped the bleeding, only temporarily. Tennessee would go on to win only one of their remaining eight games, finishing up 3-13.
A non-existent run game, led by Mariota and his two touchdowns had a little bit of help from the second-year back, Antonio Andrews, who scored three rushing TD’s. Andrews would play one more year with the Titans before falling off the grid entirely. Tight end Delaine Walker had one of the best seasons of his career, hauling in 94 passes for 1,088 yards and six scores. Rookie wide receiver, Dorial Green-Beckham, finished second on the team with 549 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Like Andrews, within two years, Green-Beckham would be out of the NFL.
2016 Worst Team: Cleveland Browns
Twas the night before the start of the 2016 season, and all thro’ the league, no analyst gave the Browns a chance, not even Skip Bayless. The players had reported to camp teeming with optimism, with hopes of a turn around the season. They practiced and worked, ran plays and read schemes, surely Santa would bring the team’s first winning season since 2007. Alas, when the time came, all they found was a lump of coal waiting at the end of a Brown colored “rainbow.”
They were stomped by teams, left and right, giving all of the media, something to write. One quarterback, two quarterbacks, three and four, surely there’s no way they could send out one more. But during the season, seven different players managed to throw at least one pass, and 15 touchdowns are all they could amass. Don’t worry, you see, they had a former rookie of the year, RG3. He managed to lead to their single victory! A week 16 win over the San Diego Chargers saved the team from history, but what happened to everyone’s talent throughout the rest of the season, remains a mystery.
Despite a 1-15 record, coach Hue Jackson was not let go, for fans, that was one severe blow. Christian Kirksey ran the defense collecting 148 tackles, a career-high, and while another good season ensued, fans would later clamor for the team to say goodbye. While 2016 was not the season fans hoped for, on the bright side, it could always get worse for the Browns.
2017 Worst Team: Cleveland Browns
Houston, it got worse. Unlike the previous season, which featured five different quarterbacks and two positional players taking a shot at slinging the rock, 2017 brought more “stability,” with only three QB’s trotting out onto the field.
Rookie Deshone Kizer was thrust into the starting QB role, completing only 53% of his passes for 2,894 yards, 11 TD’s, and 22 interceptions. A-One to two, touchdown to interception ratio, very Browns type statistic. Kizer tried running the team at every facet of the offense, leading the team in rushing touchdowns, with five. Swiss-army knife player, Duke Johnson, did everything for the Browns rushing for 348 yards and five touchdowns on 82 rushes while catching 74 passes for 693 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
Outside linebacker Joe Schobert had himself a breakout year, leading the team with 144 tackles, four for loss, six QB hits, three sacks, and an interception. Alongside him, Kirksey once again had a great season, with 138 tackles and three and a half sacks. But none of that was enough as the Browns went 0-16, becoming the fifth team in league history to accomplish the difficult feat. As if going 1-31 over the previous two seasons was not bad enough, Hue Jackson managed to hold onto his job. Again.
2018 Worst Team: Arizona Cardinals
A good sign of a lousy team offensively is when its held to under 10 points in a game, six times in a 16 game season. Four of those times, the team either scored in single digits or did not score at all. The lack of offensive production led to a 3-13 record. Former first overall pick, Sam Bradford was brought in the previous offseason to quarterback the offense. That didn’t happen.
After three unimpressive games, Bradford took a seat on the bench for the team’s first-round draft pick in the most recent draft, Josh Rosen. By week eight, Bradford would find himself without a team after the Cardinals cut bait. Easiest $13.4 million Bradford ever made. That’s $4.48 million per game he played.
More than half of Rosen’s 11 touchdown passes landed in the arms of ole’ reliable Larry Fitzgerald, who at 35, seemed to play like he was 25 again. David Johnson ran the backfield, for the most part, punching in seven scores to go along with 940 yards rushing. The team would clean house at the end of the season, firing head coach Steve Wilks after one season and eventually dealing Rosen to the Miami Dolphins.
2019 Worst Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis ran the Bengals for 16 years. In that time, he led the team to seven postseason appearances, as well as six seasons in which the team won 10 games or more. In those seven postseason games, the team won a whole big zero. None. Zilch. Ownership finally woke up and sacked him after the 2018 season.
Former Sean McVay disciple, Zac Taylor was brought in to lead the show. Things did not start smoothly. The Bengals raced out to an 0-11 start, before knocking off the Jets in a lopsided 22-6 win, in week 13. A week 17 win over the Browns would be the teams last. In his first season, Taylor led the Bengals to a 2-14 record.
Longtime QB Andy Dalton got acquainted with the bench, and then he didn’t, and then he did, again. Running back Joe Mixon rushed for five touchdowns, while chipped in four. Mixon also mamboed to haul in three touchdown passes, while receiver Tyler Boyd scored five touchdowns along with 90 receptions for 1,046 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, three players had over 100 tackles on the season, led by safety, Shawn Williams. While 2019 was terrible, 2020 may be worse.
Worst Teams Ranked In Order Of Record/Point Differential:
2017 Cleveland Browns: 0-16/-176
2016 Cleveland Browns: 1-15/-188
2012 Kansas City Chiefs: 2-14/-214
2010 Carolina Panthers: 2-14/-212
2011 Indianapolis Colts: 2-14/-187
2013 Houston Texans: 2-14/-152
2019 Cincinatti Bengals: 2-14/-141
2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-14/-133
2015 Tennesse Titans: 3-13/-154
2018 Arizona Cardinals: 3-13/-200 (Congratulations to the Cardinals, the best, worst team)