With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers obliterating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55, this unhinged 2020-21 NFL season is officially in the books! This year, teams such as the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Washington Football Team surprised many with their unexpected playoff feats. On the other hand, it’s also important to acknowledge the other teams that didn’t live up to their high expectations.
5. Chicago Bears
After starting the season with an amazing 5-1 record, the expectations for the Chicago Bears began to rise higher and higher. With star wide receiver Allen Robinson playing at a high level, journeyman quarterback Nick Foles playing well in coach Matt Nagy’s system, and having one of the league’s most unstoppable defenses, some expected the Bears to pull off big things during the postseason. Sadly for the Bears, these predictions never came to fruition. During the second half of the season the Bears were an absolute trainwreck: Nick Foles and Mitch Tribusky began to struggle, the bear’s defense began to fall out, and despite Allen Robinson putting big numbers, the Chicago Bears still had one of the most dysfunctional offenses in the entire league. As a result of all these setbacks, the team finished with a mediocre record of 8-8.
4. Minnesota Vikings
During the 2020 offseason, the expectations for the Minnesota Vikings skyrocketed. With the addition of wide receiver Justin Jefferson, having an elite defense, and pro bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins playing at an elite level, many thought that the club would become an immediate Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately for Minnesota, these high hopes never materialized. With Kirk Cousins played inconsistently, the defense completely fell off, and star wide receiver Adam Thielen was held back by injuries, the Minnesota Vikings finished the season with an underwhelming record of 7-9.
3. Denver Broncos
Since winning Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos have found little to no success during the regular season: The team hasn’t found a coach to rely on, their star players always ran into injury and off-the-field trouble, and their quarterback position has always been a topic of concern. During the 2020 season, this was expected to change. With rookie quarterback Drew Lock showing flashes of greatness, Denver’s 4-year playoff drought was expected to come to an end. These high expectations ended being wrong. With issues such as injuries, bad quarterback play, and a mediocre offense, the Broncos ended the season with a paltry 5-11 record. Will the Broncos start next season with a new quarterback, or do they keep trying to win it out with Lock?
2. Atlanta Falcons
Just four years ago, the Atlanta Falcons rolled through the playoffs and almost busted Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Since then, the Falcons have been consistently poor, only making the playoffs once out of the last four seasons. During the 2020 offseason, this was expected to change. After a promising second half of their previous season, the Falcons added even more star power to their team by signing Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley. These high expectations didn’t pan out. With issues such as a midseason head coaching change, a terrible defense, and consistently blowing games, the Falcons ended with a dreadful 4-12 record. Does this team restructure their entire lineup, or do they try to win with their current roster?
- Houston Texans
The Houston Texans were the biggest disappointment this season. After making the divisional round of the playoffs, the Texans were just a step away from becoming Super Bowl contenders. This was until former Texans Head Coach and general manager Bill O’Brien made multiple careless decisions by trading assets such as star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins, as well as a lot of picks. Nonetheless, people still believed that the Texans had a good chance at making the playoffs because of star quarterback Deshaun Watson. When it came time for the regular season, these predictions couldn’t have been more wrong. The Texans’ o-line was struggling, the Texans’ defense was consistently horrible as they were last in the league in almost every single defensive stat, and despite Deshaun Watson putting up Pro Bowl numbers, it wasn’t enough, as the Texans ended with an abysmal 4-12 record. This shows how Bill O’Brien holds much of the blame for the downfall of their team.
Like every season in the NFL, there’s always going to be a surprise. Whether it’s a star player moving teams via trade, a star player facing a detrimental injury, or an expected “superteam” falling apart, these unprecedented changes are huge contributors towards both team success or failure.
Picture Source: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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