As the season reaches its end, the time for reflection draws near. There is a hierarchy of teams based off expectations and how the teams respond to those expectations. Either a team falls under a Super Bowl contender, Playoff contender, Middle of the Pack, Disappointed or Draft fodder. Being a disappointing team means that the team came into the season with medium or high expectations, and they failed to meet expectations. Here are the five most disappointing teams in the NFL this season.
5) Washington Football Team
Last season, on the strength of their defense, the Washington Football Team won the NFC East and gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a run for their money in the Wild Card. Experts were thinking maybe with an improved offense along with the already highly-thought of defense, Washington should make some noise.
Well, that did not happen. First of all, Chase Young suffered a torn ACL injury in Week Ten. Then, several players both on the offense and defense side of the ball were on COVID protocols, and the offense was inconsistent.
Early on, the Washington Football Team had consistency issues, putting on a record of 2-6 before their Week Nine bye. The offense had a few bright spots in Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin but it was not good enough. Even with the 7-10 record, quality wins against Tampa Bay and Las Vegas, the stench from the fecal matter leakage still stands at FedEx Field. Next season, it will take a lot more than a new identity to get Washington back to the playoffs.
4) Los Angeles Chargers
All they had to do was tie. Even though Justin Herbert, only in his second season, thrived, the Chargers missed the playoffs for the third year in a row. A 9-8 record is fine but considering it was in a 17-game season, that can be similar to a team having an 8-8 record in a 16-game campaign. Despite Herbert’s stellar performance and the rise of Mike Williams as a receiving threat, the Chargers were inconsistent in the final stretch of the season.
In the final six games of the season, Los Angeles was 3-3 with wins against Denver and Cincinnati. As long as the Chargers had defeated the Raiders in the final game of the season, they would have a postseason ticket. Unfortunately, LV wanted that final playoff spot so much more. Next season, Chargers fans would want coach Brandon Staley to make the playoffs with Justin Herbert at QB.
3) Carolina Panthers
Going from 5-5 to 5-12 in the span of a month and a half puts you in the “disappointing” category. The Carolina Panthers have been a walking disaster from the start, trading for Sam Darnold instead of drafting a quarterback and having an abysmal offensive line with 52 conceded sacks this season, with the only positive note being the output of D.J. Moore (1,157 yds). Even after signing QB Cam Newton mid-season to bring some of that box office feel to Charlotte, the results stayed the same.
Even with their defense finishing in the top half in the rankings, Carolina still did not play great in the second half of the season. Coach Matt Rhule has been on the hot seat for much of the season, and, barring any changes during the offseason, will continue to occupy that spot into the start of the 2022 season in September. All in all, Carolina will need to improve their offense and be hopeful that they do not make the list next season.
2) Cleveland Browns
What do you get when you have a team that went to the playoffs for the first time since 2001, won a game and caught the attention of the media as a possible Super Bowl contender with a roster filled with Pro Bowlers to match? This was the 2021 Cleveland Browns. Finishing the season with an 8-9 record, Cleveland completely missed the mark. That was in spite of a quality rushing attack, and a defense that produced 49 sacks this season, you would think that the Browns would be in the playoffs as we speak.
Moreover, Baker Mayfield is the key reason why this has been a disappointing season for Cleveland. Even though Mayfield had over 3,000 yards, he threw 13 interceptions as well. If you watch ESPN after a Browns loss, you would see the analysts do the usual bashing of Baker due to him being the first overall pick in 2018. Perhaps Baker should spend less time doing commercials and more time perfecting his craft because he will be needed to lead the Browns back to the playoffs in 2022.
1) Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts went from a team that was a dangerous wild card team to watching the playoffs at home with the rest of us. Inspired by a breakout season from All-Pro RB Johnathan Taylor, you would think that Indianapolis would be a solid Wild Card contender. However, the play of Carson Wentz stopped that from happening. Even though Wentz had a good season and before the Jacksonville game, Carson did not throw an interception on the road all season, he picked the wrong game to be inefficient.
The reason why the Colts are the most disappointing team of the 2021-22 season is because of how their season ended. After making the playoffs with Phillip Rivers at quarterback last year, the team thought it was going to experience the same fate with Carson Wentz. Unfortunately, like a war between two pro wrestling promotions, the result was not satisfying to fans. Whatever approach Indianapolis operates on next season, they will have to hope a late-season collapse is not in the cards.
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