NFL Teams that will Succeed and Disappoint
Every NFL season there are teams that take that step back and some that step up. For example, the 2008 Dolphins went from 1-15 the year before to 11-5. (Chad Pennington anyone?) Of course, everyone remembers the 1928 NY football Giants who went from 4-7-2 to 13-1-1(yes they love to tie games back then).
There is also the other end of the spectrum, teams going from Superbowl one year to the toilet bowl the next. The Houston Texans in 2012 went 12-4 and the next year went 2-14 (that one hurt). That brings us to the teams in this article that will fit in those two categories for 2019.
Teams taking a Harden stepback
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1 last year 2nd AFC North)
The Steelers had an eventful season last year, to say the least. Their star running back Le’Veon Bell did not play one snap, Antonio Brown well did what Antonio Brown does cause a major distraction at the end of the year. Their season was saved by the emergence of James Conner and Juju Smith-Schuster. They started the year 7-2 but collapsed down the stretch and missed the playoffs even with a 9-6-1 record.
Now Bell and Brown are gone that does not make you a better team despite the distraction. Roethlisberger is a year older with fewer weapons. Conner is a good running back but there are injury concerns. Smith-Schuster is a number one receiver but now you don’t have a number two the calibre of Schuster.
The defense was middle of the pack so they won’t be able to lean on a dominant defense like for instance The Baltimore Ravens.
LA Rams (13-3 1st place NFC West)
For a team that made it all the way to the Superbowl last year, there are pressing concerns coming into this year. The biggest issue is on offense. Todd Gurley who was an MVP candidate most of last year was a no show in the SuperBowl and is still dealing with knee issues that could derail his season. The Rams lost Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan on their offensive line. For a team that didn’t have a single injury on their offensive line the last two years, this is a big change. Jared Goff, like Gurley, had a fast start to the season but faded as well at the end of the year.
The defense is returning most of the starters but lost a big presence in Ndamukong Suh. The Rams were the worst defense in the league in rush yards per attempt (5.1) last season. With the loss of Suh, teams will try and gash The Rams right up the middle. Reigning defensive player of the year Aaron Donald will face constant double teams.
The Rams had a magical season last year but face some unanswered questions going into the new season.
Time to step up
New York Jets (4-12)
No team has exemplified mediocrity more than the NY Jets, a team that has watched the Patriots year after year dominate the division. Last year the Jets finished 4-12 in their usual spot outside of the playoffs. 2019 saw them bring in big-time names like Le’Veon Bell, Quinnen Williams, and CJ Mosley. Under the radar signings like Jamison Crowder and guard Kelechi Osemele, who was acquired via trade from the Oakland Raiders.
Second-year quarterback Sam Darnold is, of course, the key to a Jets revival. There were flashes last year and with an upgraded offense around him he could to take that next step.
Le’Veon Bell coming off a year-long holdout from the Steelers will have a bounce-back year and resume his place as a top 3 running back.
The one caveat is the defense that was the bottom of the league in several categories. With the addition of Mosley and Quinnen Williams the defense should be improved. Greg Williams is the new defensive coordinator who has improved teams defenses everywhere he has gone.
Every year their are risers and fallers and 2019 will be no different. Key offseason additions and subtraction will have a big impact on which teams will take that next step forward or that step back.