NFL writer Pádraig O’ Halloran looks at five teams who have been underperforming this year.
Every year in the NFL the summer months are spent debating which teams will conquer and which teams will fall. The offseason provides fans with the opportunity to talk up their teams’ potential for the upcoming season.
In essence, every team starts the year with the opportunity to win a Super Bowl with chants of “this will be our year” ringing out in football stadiums all across America. It’s almost always too good to be true.
Many teams were tipped as potential Super Bowl contenders during the summer months only to have failed to live up to these expectations. The regular season is now nearing a close and there are some standout examples those whose lofty ambitions look to be a thing of the past.
1. Houston Texans
The first team on the list is the Houston Texans. The Texans are currently on a nine game losing streak with wide receiver Andre Johnson admitting to reporters after their latest defeat that “we suck.”
That isn’t exactly the type of talk you want to hear from one of your own players. Then again, this hasn’t exactly been the type of season that the Texans were hoping for.
They were one of the favourites to win the Super Bowl this year but with only two wins to their name, the Texans have had a season to forget. So what exactly has gone wrong?
There have been problems at quarterback and they also haven’t been helped injuries to key players like Arian Foster and Brian Cushing.
Problems are rife with the coaching staff too with head coach Gary Kubiak suffering a mini stroke during a home game against the Indianapolis Colts at the start of this month.
Let’s hope the Texans recover both on and off the field for the next season.
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons were another team tipped for success in 2013. On paper, they appeared to have one of the most talented rosters in the league with a whole host of emerging stars.
But this talent hasn’t translated into results with the Falcons having an identical record to the Texans of two wins from eleven games.
Quarterback Matt Ryan signed a five-year contract extension with the team worth over $100 million before the season but has struggled to prove his worth on the field.
Ryan has thrown 12 interceptions and been sacked 24 times thus far. That isn’t what the Falcons were hoping to receive from their star man.
Just like the Texans, the Falcons have also been hampered by injuries this season with wide receiver Julio Jones in particular being a huge loss. Jones suffered a season ending foot injury in October.
Head Coach Mike Smith must improve if he wants to keep his job as the pressure mounts on the Falcons.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
The fall from grace of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been on the cards for a number of seasons now. The oldest and most successful team in the NFL are going through a serious decline.
Although still in the hunt for the Playoffs, the Steelers have been highly inconsistent in 2013. Their record currently stands at 5-7 after a Thanksgiving Day defeat to their division rivals Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers lost and there could be further consequences for the team with head coach Mike Tomlin facing a possible investigation after he almost interfered with a Jacoby Jones kickoff return.
The team’s main problem this year has been their failure to run the football with the Steelers having the ranked third worst in total rushing yards. Perhaps running back Rashard Mendenhall was allowed to leave too soon.
Who knows what the Steelers will look like after this year with difficult decisions to be made on the futures of head coach Mike Tomlin and veterans like Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu.
The Redskins are a prime example of a team whose talent had been overrated before the season. They made the Playoffs last year for the first time since 2007.
Many experts predicted them to make the Playoffs again with some even picking them to win the Super Bowl. But with three wins and bottom of their division, a Super Bowl win is not on the cards.
The NFL is a quarterback driven league and much of the reason for the Redskins demise this year is down to the performances quarterback Robert Griffin III. He was outstanding as a rookie last season before severely injuring his right knee in a Playoff game.
RG3 tore his ACL and LCL in that game and underweight offseason surgery. Despite a miraculously speedy recovery and returning to play in every game this year, he just hasn’t looked 100% and it has certainly had an effect on his performances.
The number one goal for the team this offseason should be to get RG3 back to full fitness and back to his rookie form.
5. San Francisco 49ers
If you were to ask ten NFL fans before the season who are the Super Bowl favourites for 2013, there is a good chance that many of them would have picked the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers were narrowly defeated by the Baltimore Ravens at Super Bowl XLVII but were expected to bounce back and mount a serious challenge for the title again.
With a superb head coach, a dominant defense and Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, expectations were high.
Surprisingly, the 49ers haven’t come anywhere near their high expectations this season with a current record of 7-4.
They are now sitting second in the NFC West and the Niners have a fight on their hands on their final five games to even make the Playoffs.
Podge O’ Halloran. Pundit Arena.
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