In the last 10 years, some NFL teams have thrived (hello New England), while others have gone in the toilet (adios, Los Angeles Rams).
The Patriots have been far and away the league’s premier franchise since 2007, posting a regular season record of 126-34, including a perfect 16-0 in 2007. Their playoff record is 13-7 since then, with two Super Bowl wins and two more unsuccessful appearances in the big game.
No other team has really come close to matching the Pats success, with the Green Bay Packers sporting an overall mark of 106-53-1. However, the Pack have made the playoffs in the past eight seasons, winning it all in 2010.
On the flip side of the powerhouse coin are teams that have absolutely floundered in that decade of football.
Is there an excuse for their ineptitude? Not really, as some of those mediocre clubs have had a chance to pick high in the draft and re-make their rosters.
Here are the 15 worst NFL squads since 2007, in order.
15. Minnesota Vikings (80-79-1)
The Vikings, despite four trips to the Super Bowl in franchise history, have never won the big game. And with the team they have now, no closer to going again, either. In 10 seasons, the Vikes have had four winning seasons and played in five playoff games, winning one in the 2009 season, their most successful at 12-4. They have also on their third head coach in that span, Mike Zimmer and wasted the superb talents of superstar running back Adrian Peterson. In their worst season, 2011, the Vikings were supposed to be a lot better, with six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb at the controls. Yet, the team could only muster a 1-5 record with McNabb at QB, after which he was replaced with the very ordinary Christian Ponder. They would finish 3-13 and end up with the fourth pick in the 2012 draft (OT Matt Kalil). They have alternated between good (11-5 in 2015) and bad (5-10-1 in 2013 since).
14. San Francisco 49ers (77-82-1)
We imagine that long-time 49ers fans are absolutely pining for the glory days of the 80s, when Joe Montana and Jerry Rice ruled the football world. The Niners were the second worst team in football last season, going 2-14. They beat the L.A. Rams 28-0 in the first game, then lost 13 straight before finally winning game number 15, again over the Rams. The lost season that saw Colin Kaepernick sitting out anthems can’t sit well in Niner-land. Before the last three seasons of mediocrity, things actually looked good between 2011 and 2013. They were 13-3 in 2011 and lost a 20-17 OT heart-breaker to the Giants in the NFC championship game. A year later, the Baltimore Ravens would clip them 34-31 in the Super Bowl after a 11-4-1 campaign. Finally, in 2013, the Niners posted a 12-4 mark, only to lose 23-17 to Seattle in the NFC championship.
13. Chicago Bears (74-86)
The City of Big Shoulders sure could use one to cry on these days. After making it to the Super Bowl in 2006, where they lost to Indianapolis, the Chicago Bears have hit the proverbial skids. They have one playoff win in 10 years (2010) and three winning records. The last three have been particularly horrific, with the Bears winning all of 14 games and fans having to watch the declining play of surly quarterback Jay Cutler (who is finally gone). Last season was definitely the one that had the Bears faithful questioning that faith in the team, as they went 3-13 and ended up with the second pick in the draft (QB Mitch Trubisky). With star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery also in new digs, the 2017 year can only be described as a rebuilding one. It may be another few years before ‘Da Bears’ are relevant again.
12. New York Jets (74-86)
Since winning the Super Bowl in 1968, the Jets haven’t been back. In the last 10 years, they have been one of the NFL’s most mediocre teams, enjoying just two playoff seasons (2009-10), making the AFC final both years. Otherwise, the Jets have been OK (10-6 in 2015) to awful (4-12 in 2007 and 2014). The quarterback carousel has gone from Chad Pennington (2007), to Brett Favre (2008), Mark Sanchez (2009-12), Geno Smith (2013-14) and finally Ryan Fitzpatrick. Rex Ryan, their most successful coach in that 10-year span, got fired in 2014 when he was saddled with an underachieving QB duo of Smith (13 TDs, 13 INTs in 14 games) and Michael Vick, of all people. After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2015 (they lost to Buffalo in Week 17 to seal their doom), the Jets slipped back into irrelevancy in 2016 at 5-11. Things aren’t looking all that hot for the team’s prospects this year, either.
11. Tennessee Titans (73-87)
The Titans haven’t won a playoff game since 2003 and have missed the post-season eight years straight. There is a ray of hope after a 9-7 season in 2016 and Mike Mularkey could look like a genius if he takes a team that finished 3-13 in 2015 to the post-season this year. The problem with the former Houston Oilers franchise is the fact they haven’t had quarterback stability in the last 10 campaigns, until Marcus Mariota showed up. Vince Young took them to the playoffs in 2007 and then Kerry Collins did it after their best year in 2008 (13-3). The two flip-flopped again in 2009-10, before their acts wore thin. Things got so bad by 2014 that they had to plug in sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger, who went 0-10 between 2014-15 and threw more interceptions (14) than TD strikes (12).
10. Kansas City Chiefs (72-88)
Kansas City is a bit of a surprise entrant here, considering how well they have done in three of the last four seasons. The Chiefs have had a winning record each year, making the playoffs three times, but winning just one of four post-season tilts. However, in the years between 2007 and 2012, they had two seasons of 2-14 and two more of 4-12 football. Andy Reid has certainly got them playing better as a unit, led capably on offence by Alex Smith and defensively by Justin Houston and Eric Berry. Those earlier K.C. teams, though, under Herm Edwards (6-26 in 2007-08) were a but a shell of a squad, quarterbacked by the likes of Damon Huard and Tyler Thigpen. The 2-14 Chiefs of 2012 had Matt Cassel (6 TD passes, 12 INTs) and the forgettable Brady Quinn (2 TD, 8 INT) splitting duties over center. The good thing to come from that season? The emergence of Justin Houston as a big-time defender.
9. Miami Dolphins (71-89)
Other than a horrible 1-15 campaign in 2007, the Fish have neither been very good, nor all that bad. Just kind of blah. In a 10-year span, they have had two winning records (11-5 in 2008 and 10-6 last year) and been to just two playoff games, losing both. Particularly galling for a team that once had Don Shula as head coach for 25 years has been the revolving door to the coach’s office. In order, the Dolphins have been helmed by the unfortunate Cam Cameron (1-15 in his lone NFL season), Tony Sparano (2008-11, 29-32 record), Todd Bowles (2-1 as interim in 2011), Joe Philbin (2012-2015, 24-28), Dan Campbell (5-7 as interim in 2015) and finally Adam Gase (10-6 last year). Gase, it seems, might be around for the long haul, but will be in tough with Jay Cutler at quarterback this season.
8. Buffalo Bills (66-94)
Should the Bills miss the playoffs again this season — as they most likely will — it will mark a 17th straight season without a post-season berth. Sure they have been competitive enough in a division that includes New England, but one winning record in 10 years just doesn’t cut it. For whatever reason, the Bills just can’t seem to find the magic elixir to prolonged success. Whether it’s trying out fair (Ryan Fitzpatrick) to mediocre (Trent Edwards, Kyle Orton) to bad (E.J. Manuel) quarterbacks or changing head coaches like underwear, Buffalo has not fared well. They have also drafted talented players in those 10 years like Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller and Stephon Gilmore, only to waste their promise and see them leave for greener pastures. The only bright spot of the upcoming campaign will be the play of LeSean McCoy, who will get a lot of rushing attempts and pile up the yards.
7. Washington Redskins (66-93-1)
When the Redskins have been good in the last 10 years, they always find ways to sink back to mediocrity. They followed up a 9-7 season and a playoff berth in 2007, with four straight campaigns on the outside looking in. They broke the string with another post-season appearance in 2012, only to go 3-13 in Mike Shanahan’s last season in 2013. That particularly odorous season was marked by terrible defensive play and even worse special teams performance (they were tabbed as having the second worst special teams unit in football history by some). The follow up season to that nasty 3-13 campaign was an equally lousy 2014 season that saw the Redskins go 4-12 under Jay Gruden. That year, Robert Griffin III all but played his way out of town and the defence performed so badly that DC Jim Haslett was let go.
6. Detroit Lions (63-97)
If the 0-16 season in 2008 is taken away, the Detroit Lions actually don’t look all that bad. And since going 2-14 in 2009, the Lions record in this 10-year period is a respectable 61-67. Since Matt Stafford has come aboard in 2011, the Lions have made the playoffs three times and had three winning records. However, when the Lions have been awful, they truly stunk the joint out. We point again to that forgettable 0-fer season (coupled with a 2-14 follow-up), which are cause enough for Detroit fans never to get their hopes too high about this team. The 2008 Lions have the inglorious distinction of being the only team ever to go 0-16 and the blame for that reached everyone. The team went 7-9 under Rod Marinelli in 2007 and were expected to do much better in 2008. So much for that. The Lions employed five quarterbacks that season, the “best” of them being Dan Orlovsky. The defence was even worse, allowing 517 points, with only a young Cliff Avril playing above his station as a rookie (five sacks in four starts).
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (63-97)
Historically, the Bucs fall into the same sad territory as the Detroit Lions. They too, had the indignity of an 0-fer season, going 0-14 back in 1976. But, the Buccaneers have won a Super Bowl since, in 2002, under Jon Gruden. Yet, those other Bay Area pirates have not had a whole lot of success in the last 10 years, going to the playoffs once, in 2007 when Jeff Garcia was quarterback. This is also remarkable in that Tampa has had four winning seasons in that span. With Jameis Winston now calling the shots at QB and the team adding key pieces like DeSean Jackson to the offence, things are looking up. It wasn’t that long ago, though, that Bucs fans suffered through the shared misery of a 2-14 season in 2014. That Lovie Smith coached team didn’t score much, despite the fact that two of their receivers, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, had over 1,000 yards each and that quarterbacks Josh McCown and Mike Glennon threw for 21 TD strikes. It was the turnovers, though, that killed as McCown was intercepted 14 times in 11 games and also fumbled the ball a team high 10 times.
4. Oakland Raiders (60-100)
Other than the 2016 playoff team, the Oakland Raiders were just plain bad in the nine previous seasons. In 2007, the Raiders were 4-12 and really a team without identity. They had taken what they thought was a big step to solidifying a long-standing quarterback problem by drafting JaMarcus Russell first overall that year. And we all know how that worked out. He played two very forgettable seasons and was gone after the 2009 season and is considered the biggest draft bust in NFL history. The revolving door at QB continued unabated until Derek Carr came on the scene in 2014. The team did go 3-13 with Carr calling the shots in 2014, however, his improving play and their low standing allowed the Raiders to rebuild the team through several drafts. They got LB Khalil Mack fifth overall in 2014 and WR Amari Cooper 4th overall in 2015, two cornerstone pieces to the 12-4 turnaround last year.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (53-107)
Since going 11-5 and making the playoffs in 2007, the Jaguars have been little more than cannon fodder for foes in the AFC South, along with pretty much anyone that faced them. In the nine seasons after that 2007 campaign, they won five games or less in seven of them. In 2010, their last so-so season (they were 8-8) and QB David Garrard was leading the offence to a respectable 353 points. The next season, after drafting QB Blaine Gabbert 10th overall, they anointed him starter and quickly became a team that couldn’t score. And Gabbert struggled mightily, getting sacked 40 times and fumbling the ball on 14 occasions, the most in the NFL. For two straight years, the Jags braintrust had good draft picks, selecting QB Blake Bortles third overall in 2014 and then OLB Dante Fowler at no. 3 in 2015. Those drafts also produced speedy wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson (2014) and RB T.J. Yeldon in 2015. Even with that kind of talent around, the Jags still underwhelmed. Is this the turnaround year?
2. Cleveland Browns (48-112)
Team Turmoil has been the laughingstock of the NFL for longer than 10 years. From the plethora of coaches over the last decade (six, and counting) to the Johnny Manziel fiasco and the ongoing substance abuse and suspension issues of WR Josh Gordon, the Browns have been needlessly bad. Their draft history and player retention has been atrocious, Manziel aside. That is, many of their first round picks in the last 10 years — and there have been quite a few — are now playing elsewhere. Pity likable OT Joe Thomas, who was picked third in 2007 and has stuck around through thick and mostly thin. Center Alex Mack went 21st overall in 2009 and is gone, same with DB Joe Haden (7th in 2010), DL Phil Taylor (21st in 2011), RB Trent Richardson (3rd in 2012), QB Brandon Weeden (22nd in 2012), LB Barkevious Mingo (6th in 2013), DB Justin Gilbert (8th in 2014) and of course Manziel (22nd, 2014). That is a lot of wasted talent, in our opinion. We’re not going to hold our breath thinking a complete reversal is coming, but they have drafted better the last two years.
1. Los Angeles Rams (46-113-1)
The Rams weren’t content being just a lousy team for the last 10 years, making a bunch of haters in St. Louis when they moved back to L.A. in 2016. Five times in the last decade the Rams have had four wins or less, the “best” campaign being a 7-9 season under the very capable Jeff Fisher in 2015 (who was probably relieved to be fired in 2016). Even though the team hasn’t had a lot of controversy other than that self-serving move, they, like the Browns, have drafted, developed and waved goodbye to quite a few talented players. A list of picks who would still look good in Rams blue and gold include DE Chris Long (2nd overall 2008), QB Sam Bradford (1st overall 2010), TE Lance Kendricks (47th overall, 2011), DB Janoris Jenkins (39th overall, 2012), WR Brian Quick (33rd overall, 2012) and FS T.J. McDonald (71st overall, 2013). Throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sticks has been pretty much how the Rams have conducted business the last 10 years. Not a recipe for success, in our opinion.