Rebuilding in the National Football League can be a shorter process than in other sports if done right, but it is a necessary evil nonetheless.
Attempting to rebuild through free agency rarely leaves satisfactory results when not combined with wise draft choices, which is something the New York Jets are experiencing right now. Whether it's the result of bad quarterback play and inept offense or swiss cheese defense that can't stop anyone - or all of the above - there are some NFL squads in desperate need of big changes.
Those teams that are successful in both free agency and in the draft quickly rise to the top of the league and the Oakland Raiders are a shining example of that. For others, it may take a bit longer, but just showing signs of greatness can be enough to hold fans over and prove that a team is on the rise.
Normally having a young, up-and-coming quarterback can be enough to turn a team around, while in other instances great play from the defensive side of the ball can kickstart a team's return to respectability. It doesn't matter how a team gets there as long as the end result is multiple playoff berths and a Super Bowl victory.
Curious to know which teams need a rebuild and which teams are on the rise? All of your questions will be answered below, so let's go.
15 Rebuild: New York Jets
The Jets are on a fast track to another failure of a season in 2016, as the veteran-filled team has played well below expectations this year. Journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing poorly and turning the ball over left and right, while former star cornerback Darrelle Revis looks to be on his last leg in the NFL after being burnt by receivers time and time again.
14 On the Rise: Philadelphia Eagles
Quarterback Carson Wentz went from not being ready to start the season to a top-notch rookie quarterback who is taking the league by storm. Wentz shocked many when he put up great numbers and got the Eagles off to an undefeated start, while also showing every quality of a competent quarterback when dropping back. He's aided by a young, albeit deep, wide receiver corps led by Jordan Matthews and also has a slew of running backs at his expense as well.
13 Rebuild: Cleveland Browns
Cleveland is easily the worst team in the NFL this season and it's back to the drawing board for head coach Hue Jackson. Robert Griffin III was in the Browns' plans for the future until he suffered a shoulder injury that will likely end his season. Now the Browns have to choose between Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, with the former being the best option for the future considering his young age.
12 On the Rise: Dallas Cowboys
Not only are the Cowboys on the rise, they are one of the best teams in the NFL this season. An injury to Tony Romo before the season started was thought to be the team's death knell for 2016, however, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has done so well in Romo's absence that people are debating whether or not the Cowboys should even let him start when he gets back.
11 Rebuild: Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer and the Cardinals were tabbed as a possible Super Bowl contender in 2016 after falling short in the NFC Championship last season. Those expectations are going by the wayside as the Cardinals are not playing up to the standards set the past few seasons.
10 On the Rise: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have slowed down since a 5-0 start, but the future is still very bright. Minnesota sports one of the best defenses in the NFL this season and is having success stopping both the run and pass. The Vikings are loaded in their front seven and a young secondary has risen to among the league's elite.
9 Rebuild: Miami Dolphins
In four full seasons with quarterback Ryan Tannehill at the helm, the Dolphins are 29-36 (as of Week 9) and on their third head coach in that span. Known as a quarterback whisperer, head coach Adam Gase hasn't had much success in turning Tannehill into a better quarterback and there's little to no hope he will ever be the signal-caller the team was hoping for when drafting Tannehill no. 8 overall.
8 On the Rise: Atlanta Falcons
A few years ago the Falcons might have been one of the teams in need of a rebuild; although that isn't the case anymore after Atlanta went 8-8 last season and is primed to improve on that mark in 2016. Head coach Dan Quinn has enjoyed a revival by quarterback Matt Ryan and the offense is clicking on all cylinders, both on the ground and through the air.
7 Rebuild: San Diego Chargers
It's all well and good that Philip Rivers might play his entire career with one team, but that doesn't mean the Chargers should let him do it. The fact is, Rivers hasn't taken the Chargers very far during his tenure and the lack of actual talent around him on both sides of the ball makes it certain that won't change.
6 On the Rise: Tennessee Titans
After Jameis Winston was taken no. 1 overall in the 2015 draft, the Titans wisely drafted Marcus Mariota and so far the move is paying off. Mariota had a great rookie season and has recovered after starting off his sophomore campaign in a slump. Tennessee's offensive line and running game are top-flight in every sense of the word and its defense has improved greatly.
5 Rebuild: San Francisco 49ers
Blaine Gabbert was a failure and now Colin Kaepernick is in the middle of reminding everyone why he lost his starting job in the first place. A new coach in San Fran should mean a new direction at quarterback and not the same old options of the failed regime before head coach Chip Kelly. The Niners should finish near the bottom of the league this season, meaning a choice at the top of next year's draft could net them a top signal-caller.
4 On the Rise: Oakland Raiders
Success is finally coming to Oakland with the Raiders becoming an elite squad in the league. Quarterback Derek Carr isn't just playing well, he's playing like an MVP and gives the Raiders their first legit quarterback since Rich Gannon led the franchise to a Super Bowl appearance years ago. Unlike in his first season, Carr has a ton of help with a great mix of veteran and young options, headlined by Michael Crabtree and budding superstar Amari Cooper.
3 Rebuild: Chicago Bears
The fact that head coach John Fox doesn't like starting quarterback Jay Cutler much means the veteran signal-caller's time isn't long in Chicago. Behind him, the Bears are weak at quarterback with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley as the team's lone options after this season. In need of a new quarterback in 2017, the Bears will have to revamp their offense entirely.
2 On the Rise: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After being selected first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, Jameis Winston has given the Bucs something the team hasn't had in a long time, if ever: a quarterback who can give the offense a vertical threat. With room to grow in his second season, Winston is just barely scratching the surface of how good he can be after winning Rookie of the Year in his first season.
1 Rebuild: New Orleans Saints
When the Saints were at their best in the Drew Brees era, the team had some semblance of a defense. It's no surprise that the team has been on a downward spiral as the defense has gotten worse and worse. No amount of Drew Brees passes can save the Saints from getting blown out by opposing offenses on a regular basis.
What's the solution? Free up some cash by unloading Brees, who is 37 and at the tail-end of his career. The Saints aren't winning anything with the roster constructed as is, and the organization can't make improvements with so much money locked up in one place. Trading Brees would net a huge return and it would start the rebuilding process on the right foot. The Brees and Sean Payton era was great for New Orleans, but now it's time to let it go and improve this roster from top to bottom.
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