When it comes to football, last year’s cellar dweller, is often this year’s division champion.The inverse is also true. Many NFL teams have entered the season as “locks” to win their division, and sometimes, the presumptive Super Bowl contestant.
But it doesn’t always work that way. A fact the Philadelphia Eagles are quickly finding out.
Can they rebound? Or will the season end the way many other promising football teams have – in disaster?
Quarterback Bernie Kosar took his team to two AFC championship games in three years. They dominated much of the late 80s. But a new decade changed all that. They were shut out three times that season. They allowed 58 points in a game. And Kosar threw five more interceptions than touchdowns. Things were never the same in Cleveland. And, eventually, there was no more Cleveland -- owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore.
This was a bad year for Bills players, both current and former. Sure, they'd lost four consecutive Super Bowls, but there was no reason to think they couldn't reach a fifth. But injuries, including one to quarterback Jim Kelly, decimated the team. And a new collective bargaining agreement robbed them of much of their depth. They lost four of their final five games and missed the playoffs. And then O.J. Simpson was tried for double-murder.
Don Shula couldn't leave the NFL quietly. So he dispensed an impressive (at the time) $12 million in signing bonuses to the likes of Trace Armstrong, Terrell Buckley and Gary Clark to give Dan Marino, and himself, one final shot at glory. They were the AFC team that would finally knock the Cowboys and 49ers from the NFL's perch. And sitting at 4-0, they were well on their way. But then the wheels fell off. The losses accumulated. And the locker room divided. They squeaked into the playoffs as a wild card but were immediately knocked out.
When a team goes 3-13, there's not much room for further disappointment. Especially when you sign two free agent offensive tackles (Jumbo Elliot and David Williams), lure away your conference champion's quarterback (Neil O'Donnell) and draft the No. 1 pick (Keyshawn Johnson). But the Jets actually got worse. They finished with one victory! Then they fired coach Rich Kotite and brought in Bill Parcells.
Brett Favre enjoyed his greatest statistical year ever in 2009. Surely, like a fine wine, he would only improve with age…right? Wrong. He threw 19 interceptions and looked lost. The Vikings' vaunted defensive line regressed tremendously. And injuries to their receiving corps decimated Minnesota's season and cost Brad Childress his job.
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