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Biggest NFL Busts of 2019

A Browns fan holds a worst to first sign.
photo: Joshua Gunter/Cleveland.com
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The Second Season is upon us, Flockers! 

What a strange feeling it is to not be participating in Wild Card weekend, yet also not hearing couch jokes and golf jokes in regards to the Ravens. Indeed, sitting cushy in a bye week is the lap of luxury for Baltimore sports fans, and given that it hasn’t happened for Baltimore since the 2011 season (the Ravens went 12-4 and edged out the Steelers for the 2nd seed thanks to a 6-0 AFC North record)? We truly cherish this added week of rest. 

Instead of our usual look around the league here in our 2MD, I’d like to write some quick eulogies for a few teams that came into 2019 with all of the hype in the world… yet fell flat.

Cleveland Browns (6-10)

“It’s better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all. This is how Browns fans feel about their team on a yearly basis, as the offseason anticipation builds to fever pitch… only to feel an instantaneous let down upon the regular season commencement. The 2019 Browns are going to be long remembered as one of the biggest ‘Paper Champs’ of all time in the NFL, as their Hulu-sponsoring QB’s dramatic regression came second only to his dramatic offseason interviews, shunning and publicly humiliating other teammates and coaches. The Browns leave behind an inconsolable fanbase, a diva wideout secretly looking for trade partners, and a never-ending animosity to future Hall of Famer, Art Modell.”

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)

“The Yinzers are experiencing a pain that, while fresh in their minds, is all too familiar at this time of year, as the Steelers once again watched the Baltimore Ravens extinguish any hope at life beyond December. In 2018, the Ravens ended the Steelers’ season with a C.J. Mosley interception of Baker Mayfield, leaving the entirety of Pittsburgh in utter despair. In very similar fashion, the Steelers needed a victory and some help in Week 17… only to come up short at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens backups. The pain and anguish the ‘black and gold’ are currently experiencing as they sob uncontrollably into their terrible towels is something these fans will never forget.”

Los Angeles Rams (7-9)

“LA fans mourn a franchise that put every last effort/penny into building a Super Bowl contender in 2018… only to see them fall far from grace in 2019. Jared Goff has apparently befallen a Curse of Bortles, who joined the Rams QB Room this past offseason, as he’s never looked the part. The Rams made the efforts of selling their souls and future in a Jalen Ramsey trade that, while beneficial, became a relatively flat gain after trading Pro Bowl CB Marcus Peters to Baltimore. The loss of the 2019 season will be short felt in LA, mostly because people in LA don’t care.”

Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

“This is less a mourning of passing, as it is a celebration of life, because with every death (Jason Garrett‘s job) comes new life (new Head Coach)… or will it? With a verdict that remains in the air as Garrett’s job is currently on life support with Jerry Jones‘ one hand on the plug, Cowboys fans are left in a gripping soap opera that, while it’s nothing more than commonplace in their lives throughout Jerrah’s reign, has reached a fever pitch. Alas, Dallas faithful hang in the balance with Garrett in limbo- a feeling much more painful than death.”

About Last Week…

 

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Ravens 28 Yinz 10

No starters for Baltimore?

No problem!

The Ravens have heard enough from Steelers fans with the ‘yea but we don’t have our starting quarterback or running back!’ excuse for a lackluster season, so head coach John Harbaugh opted to rest a handful of their stars (Lamar Jackson, Earl Thomas, Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Brandon Williams) and limit snaps on other key players against Pittsburgh in Week 17, just to make a point that those whining fans with their yellow towels are full of excuses for being the inferior AFC North team…

Or at least that’s what I’m telling Steelers fans, who were swept by Baltimore this season, including Week 17’s Bobby G3-led offense that closer resembled The Replacements (filmed in Baltimore, never forget). 

Realistically, the Ravens had locked up the top spot in the AFC for the playoffs and had nothing to gain or lose in this Week 17 matchup…

AND THEY STILL CRUSHED THE STEELERS.

Mind you, while the Ravens had nothing to play for, the Steelers had everything to play for as they needed a victory along with some help from the Tita,er…Texans to see the post-season.

Oh, and please don’t let any Steelers fan try to tell you that they didn’t play to win that game because they knew they’d get knocked out right away with their backups. I’ve actually heard that excuse (‘The Steelers rolled over because they knew they had no chance at a Super Bowl!’) and I nearly instantaneously burst into laughter/tears/stomach cramps. 

Alas, onto… well, onto a week off.

THIS WEEK: FILM, FOCUS, FRESH START

Having a bye in the Wild Card round means the Ravens will simply rest up, right?

Wrong!

The team has made it abundantly clear that they view their first place finish in the AFC as a result of hard work and dedication, but also as a thing of the past. Just as the calendar flipped, so does the season, and with the postseason resetting records to 0-0, the Ravens are treating every opponent with the same respect and dedication that they did from Weeks 1 through 17.

Health aside, one area where we can expect the Ravens not to rest is in the film room. Baltimore will spend this week digging into their three potential opponents for the Divisional Round – the Titans, Texans, and Bills (you can do the same here) – perhaps with slightly more focus on the Titans, as they’ve had to prepare for the Bills and Texans once already this season.

Always remember: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

The advantage of the added week off for both the physical and mental reset, as well as film study and game preparation, is going to play a huge role for the Ravens’ success as they look to take a deep run into the playoffs.

These Ravens are locked-in, focused, and ready to take on whatever comes next.

Wild Card Watch Schedule

Relax, grab a comfy seat, maybe a drink or two, and watch a full weekend of stress-free NFL playoffs as the 3rd through 6th place peasants fight it out for a chance to take on the big dogs…

Bills @ Texans 

Sat 4:30pm

I like the Texans here, folks. J.J. Watt is returning (albeit on a limited snap count), and I have faith that the Texans offense shows up for this one. The Bills O is just flat, especially against playoff teams in 2019, where they averaged 14.2 ppg. Comparatively, they’ve allowed 26.1 ppg in their last three games against playoff opponents (Eagles, Ravens, Patriots). 

Titans @ Pats

Sat 8:15pm

I’m taking the road dog at Foxboro. That used to seem like a crazier sentiment, but it’s really not anymore (which is even crazier to think about). The Patriots have lost two of their last three home games (last week’s crucial loss to Miami was hilarious), and against playoff teams the Pats are just 3-3, with two of those wins over the Bills, and the other over the Eagles, who eeked in. Meanwhile, the Titans are riding high, having won their last three road games, and averaging 33.4 ppg on offense over the past seven games. 

Oh, and King Henry will run all over them. Get ready Flockers: this will be your Divisional Round opponent!

Vikes @ Saints 

Sun 1:05pm

Ah, yes. The Revenge Game. 

The Saints come marching into Minnesota, and this time they’ll walk out victorious. The Saints are 6-1 in their last seven, with the only loss a 46-48 shootout against the 49ers. Really, you can look at their whole season and point to their other 2 losses – a WTF loss against the Falcons and the Rams loss when Drew Brees injured his hand and left the game in the first half – and wonder how they didn’t manage a better record. 

There’s only one team in the playoffs that truly terrify my to my soul as a Ravens fan, and that’s the Saints.

[Related: RSR Staff Wild Card Weekend Picks]

Seahawks @ Eagles 

Sun 4:40pm

I’m not sure that there could be a more ‘meh’ game to end Wild Card Weekend. 

The Eagles snuck into the playoffs because the Cowboys are awful and collapsed late in the season (coupled with Philly’s final four games being against the awful Giants twice, the Skins, and a yawner with the aforementioned collapsing ‘Boys), while the Seahawks have looked rather flat of late, having lost three of their last four with the only victory in that stretch a six-point win against a lowly Panthers team. 

So who wins?

I’ve got the Seahawks over Eagles for the second time this season.

Rank Em!

Oh boy… postseason Rank ‘Em isn’t exactly easy, especially when it’s the first of the 2020 calendar year! We need to dig deep on this one, and find a super thought-provoking, deep dive of a ranking…

Perfect! I’ve got it!

Top-5 Biggest Busts In The 2019 NFL Season 

5. Indianapolis Colts

10-6 in 2018 with Andrew Luck was great for Indy fans… then Luck retired. But hey, that’s okay! Because NFL analysts sung the praises of Jacoby Brissett, dismissing his previous shortcomings of 2017 as an anomaly due to poor O-Line play, and stood on the desk as they preached how great this season would be for the Colts and Brissett, as he had solid weapons all around him and a great OL that Luck benefited from in 2018… except that never happened. Brissett was a 60% completion guy, didn’t break 3000 yards, and only had 18 touchdown passes. Yes, he lost TY Hilton for six games, but Brissett still had a litany of pass catchers he failed to use. Peg the Colts as a team looking for a QB in the draft, because Brissett’s mediocrity killed them this season.

4. Los Angeles Chargers

I know injuries played a big role here, but can we please talk about Philip Rivers and the end of the line for a moment? 23 touchdowns is his fewest since 2007, and 20 interceptions is Rivers’ second most in any given season of his career. Compared to 2018, Rivers threw nine fewer TD and eight more picks, and he did so with the same weapons he had the previous year. The 38-year-old QB may be looking at an Eli Manning ending here soon, as he’s single-handedly dragging the offense down.

3. New York Jets

I might be on an island here, but I pegged the Jets to break .500 this season, only to see them barely get to 7-9. While the defense kept the record somewhat respectable, the Sam Darnold-led offense was vomit-inducing – and that’s putting it nicely. 32nd in yards per game, 31st in points per game, 23rd in total turnovers, 31st in first downs, 29th in passing yards, 31st in rushing yards… mind you this is an offense that went out and added Le’Veon Bell in the offseason to improve the ground game and give Darnold another big weapon… yeesh…

2. Los Angeles Rams

The team basically went from playing in the Super Bowl in 2018, to golfing during the playoffs in 2019. And really, they hardly lost any talent between the two years in which the Rams offense went from 2nd overall to 11th, while the defense may have jumped from 20th… but only to 17th. Notably, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley – the two biggest paydays for the Rams recentl y- went through long stretches of “WTF?!” play, and unfortunately for Rams fans, the future looks rather bleak, as they’ve sold away a handful of high future draft picks, while they teeter on the precipice of zero cap space to improve the roster, barring wholesale cuts. 

1. The Browns.

You knew the 2019 Paper Champs would be the biggest busts in 2019, didn’t you? The team many an analyst heralded as the future champions, a team that would own the AFC North, and a team to reckon with for years to come… yea, they went 6-10. Freddie Kitchens was a joke, Baker Mayfield regressed massively, Odell Beckham Jr. turned out to be pedestrian, and the team couldn’t get out of their own way with off-field incidents, on-field suspensions, penalties, and drama galore. But what can you say? Browns gonna Browns…

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