If you somehow are confused after reading the article's title, I recommend you read again. On the eve of the 2017 NFL season, let's look back at the past decade and identify mistakes from the league's 32 teams.
What classifies as a mistake, you ask? Let's take a look at the ground rules.
- Mistakes are from 2007-now, although things from the 2017-18 season are ineligible. You may think the Chicago Bears trading all of those picks for Mitchell Trubisky was a major mistake, but it won't make our list. If there was something from the 2016-17 season, however, that would be eligible.
- We're going to do our best to avoid draft busts except when absolutely necessary (I'll let you figure out who I'm referring to). The majority of these are mistakes on the front office front, with everything from coaching changes to bad free-agent signings included.
- Player incidents that include domestic violence charges, arrests on felonies, and drug suspensions are not eligible. However, a team standing by a player/coach for that or giving second chances (i.e. Donté Stallworth continuing to get jobs after his 2009 DUI manslaughter would be eligible...although we like second chance, so Stallworth won't be on here.
- If we can, we'll put an honorable mention where we can. Not every team will have one, though.
If that all makes sense, let's revisit some of the NFL's worst recent history.
32 Arizona Cardinals: Trading Anquan Boldin
At first glance, you may be saying to yourself, "well wait a second, what about the Cardinals lacking a quarterback after Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer? In the grand scheme of things, Arizona did everything right: they tried to give Matt Leinart a chance (welp), signed Derek Anderson as a low-budget option, drafted a potential sleeper in Fordham's John Skeleton in 2010, and made a blockbuster deal for Kevin Kolb in 2011. When he wasn't concussed, Kolb actually showed the potential that made him a second-round pick in 2007, so we won't complain here.
But what does land on this list is the 2010 trade of Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin. Even if Boldin had battled injuries in previous years, wouldn't it have helped whatever quarterback starting for them on week one to be throwing to the Florida State product AND Larry Fitzgerald? Boldin was headed for a contract extension and Arizona did get three picks out of the deal, but this one still stings.
Honorable mention: Not adding a veteran quarterback down the stretch in 2014 when both Palmer and Drew Stanton were hurt.
31 Atlanta Falcons: Signing Ray Edwards
Most recently seen fighting Keenan "Good Burger" Hickman in November 2016, you'll most likely remember Ray Edwards as a highly productive defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings from 2006-10, recording 8.5 sacks in their 2009 run to the NFC Championship Game. and adding another eight in 2010. Clearly in line for a major payday, Edwards inked a five-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 2011 despite them already having John Abraham and a less-than-stellar history with big-name free agents not named Abraham.
Despite recording 3.5 sacks in 2011, Edwards was quiet for most of the season and the 2012 campaign before a surprising midseason release. Imagine how badly he'd have felt if the Falcons made the Super Bowl like they were supposed to? Lesson for the Atlanta Falcons: don't go for the splash in free agency.
Honorable mention: Failing to help Michael Vick mature prior to his 2007 dog-fighting arrest. Is that cheating? Perhaps...
30 Baltimore Ravens: Misusing Tyrod Taylor
A weird option? Maybe, but I still don't see why the Ravens would have used a sixth-round pick on a quarterback three years into the Joe Flacco era and keep him buried on the bench - sometimes as the third-stringer - for four years. Originally, they did look at Taylor as a change of pace quarterback not unlike what Auburn did with John Franklin III last season, but it never panned out...so why keep him? Why not trade him to a team needing a quarterback? You'd get more than you did when he walked in 2015...
By this point, you're asking why Ray Rice and the organization sticking by him after his domestic abuse incident isn't on here. Remember, the domestic violence policy and the overall league-wide reactions to it now are much different than they were three years ago; it was the guy's own business and so long as he wasn't a distraction, he was welcome back. If everything we know now - including the infamous elevator video - happened tomorrow and the Ravens stood by him, I'd put this here for sure.
And yes, that's our honorable mention. The Billy Cundiff kick wasn't even close to making it.
29 Buffalo Bills: Coaching Caroussel
As for the team that currently employs Tyrod Taylor, how can you not point to their front office inconsistency and dysfunction as their biggest mistake? Since 2007 alone, they've employed Dick Jauron, Perry Fewell (interim), Chan Gailey, Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan, Anthony Lynn (interim), and Sean McDermott as head coaches. When you have seven head coaches in ten years, that is not good. Not good at all.
How do you expect to remain consistent and properly develop your players when you're changing coaches roughly every two years? In the Bills' defense, the team did underperform with Jauron and Gailey (Marrone resigned), but did the Bills really need to hire Rex Ryan as a head coach? Why not retain Fewell and keep the consistency?
As for why the Bills not trading Marshawn Lynch is the honorable mention, he'd fallen out of favor and they couldn't have known he'd turn into the star he did in Seattle. Next...
28 Carolina Panthers: Releasing Steve Smith
You knew this was coming...right? I'd hope you did. When the time comes where teams need to let go of aging veterans because their play is dropping, I think there has to be a certain way it's handled. When the time comes where a team that is slowly turning into an NFC South contender releases the greatest player in franchise history over salary issues...yeah, there's absolutely no defending that.
I won't lie and say Dave Gettleman had an entirely bad tenure with the Panthers, but letting Steve Smith AND Josh Norman go? Smith takes high priority on the list because of what he meant to the franchise and how cold the release was; the NFL is a business, but Smith was still a capable player and showed that with his final three years in Baltimore. What were you thinking, Dave?
Honorable mention: Taking the franchise tag off Josh Norman.
27 Chicago Bears: Firing Lovie Smith
This still makes no sense. I'm sorry, I know there's plenty of other options like drafting Shea McClellin, continuing to give Rex Grossman starts, or even trading for Jay Cutler (there are people, I'm sure, that will argue that), but this is one of the worst coaching decisions a team has made in the past decade. Smith was two years removed from an NFC Championship Game the Bears lost because they didn't have a legitimate backup for Jay Cutler - who was hurt in 2011 and probably cost the Bears a playoff spot - and went 10-6 his final year. What gives?
Smith should have at least gotten the 2013 season to coach - he could have entered on the hot seat, but still should have gotten that year - but the Bears fired him and replaced him with...Marc Trestman? Of all people, they picked Marc Trestman? What could possibly be worse?
26 Cincinnati Bengals: Retaining Marvin Lewis
Oh, this is worse. Marvin Lewis still having a head coaching job with the Bengals despite never winning a playoff game in his 13 seasons is absolutely baffling - and at this point, I'm almost wondering if the theory that he's kept around so the NFL has more than one respectable black head coach (Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin is the other) is going to start getting major publicity this year.
I'm not rooting for the Bengals to fire Marvin Lewis, don't get me wrong, and I don't even care about him giving second chances to players with legal issues. My only problem is that by continuing to keep him around, the Bengals essentially admit that losing come January is acceptable and that's not alright. Will another one-and-done or even playoff-less season usher in a new staff next year?
Honorable mention: The Carson Palmer divorce if only for how it went to begin with.
25 Cleveland Browns: Take your quarterback pick
You knew we were going to talk about the Browns' quarterbacks here, right? Honestly, you could remove "Take your quarterback pick" and instead put "everything" and nothing would change, but I'm going to focus on the signal-callers here. I do not blame the Cleveland Browns for consistently trying to find a starting quarterback, but I do think we need to discuss some of the options they chose.
- Forcing the Brady Quinn pick in 2007.
- Using a first-round pick on Brandon Weeden, 28 at the time of the 2012 NFL Draft when younger quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Nick Foles could have been taken later.
- Signing Jason Campbell, who had more or less been dead since 2009, to compete for the starting job in 2013.
- Replacing Brian Hoyer, who had the Browns competing for a playoff spot in 2014, with Johnny Manziel after one bad game.
Stop me before I go crazy. Stop me before I go crazy. Stop me before I go crazy...
24 Dallas Cowboys: Prematurely firing Wade Phillips
If Jerry Jones doesn't get talked out of drafting Johnny Manziel in 2014, we may be discussing something entirely different here. Honestly, the Cowboys don't have many MAJOR mistakes over the past decade because you can't fault them for Tony Romo getting hurt, you can't fault them for getting shredded against the Minnesota Vikings during the 2009 playoffs, and you can't fault them for the Dez Bryant not-catch.
I'm putting Wade Phillips on here because I think this is another of Jerry Jones trying to do too much. Phillips was fired during a dismal 2010 season where the Cowboys lost Tony Romo to injury and had a tough schedule against; remember, this was a team that went 13-3 the year before and in 2007! Why was Phillips on such a short leash? Even if we didn't get to see him be a head coach again, we at least saw how his impact was felt with the Denver Broncos...
23 Denver Broncos: Trading Brandon Marshall
Let's flash things back to early 2010, when future Hall of Famer Brandon Marshall is absolutely pissed at the Denver Broncos. Not only have they misdiagnosed his hip issues, but then-coach Josh McDaniels benched him before a MUST-WIN WEEK 17 GAME over attitude issues. It was Marshall or McDaniels, and the Broncos chose the latter, shipping Marshall off to the Miami Dolphins a year after trading Jay Cutler to Chicago.
"I know looking from the outside it's hard to understand what's going on, especially when you lose players the caliber we've lost in the past couple of years, but it is the ultimate team sport," Broncos tight end Daniel Graham said. "Not one player is going to win the Super Bowl for us. ... It seemed like he really wanted to get out of here. He wanted to go somewhere where he felt he was going to be happy, and he didn't feel like that would be here in Denver."
You think? Imagine if the Broncos kept Marshall around and they patched things up?
Honorable mention: Failing to legitimately address the post-Peyton Manning era (if the Trevor Siemian Experience doesn't work out).
22 Detroit Lions: Taking a risk on Jahvid Best
No Matt Millen? No, because some of Millen's more atrocious front-office decisions come before the 2007 deadline...and really, there's not much to give Detroit a hard time about in the past decade. Do we want to make an argument for the 0-16 season in 2008? Maybe, but what's the mistake you put there? Allowing a team to go 0-16? Dan Orlovsky running out the back of the end zone?
I'm going to be nice and give the spot to the Lions using a 2010 second-round pick on Jahvid Best despite concussion issues in college. While concussions may not have been a major problem seven years ago like they are now, was it really worth taking that risk, especially with former third-rounder Kevin Smith still on the roster? Did I just compliment the Lions' decision making?
Honorable mention: Drafting Eric Ebron instead of Odell Beckham Jr.
21 Green Bay Packers: Not trading for Marshawn Lynch
What? You don't believe me that the Packers were seriously considering trading for Marshawn Lynch, then with the Buffalo Bills, in the fall of 2010?
"At the time, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Desmond Bishop, both of whom went to Cal and played with Lynch, were lobbying for the Packers to make the trade," Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported in February 2014. "Veteran back Ryan Grant had been lost for the season in Week 1 and Brandon Jackson and Dimitri Nance were handling the bulk of the carries."
What happens if this trade goes through? Green Bay has a long-term running back of the future, Seattle probably doesn't have their NFC stronghold, and Aaron Rodgers doesn't have to worry about passing the ball 40 times a game. There are so many different what-ifs here that you really have to ask, well, what-if?
20 Houston Texans: Being passive with quarterbacks
Is it fair to call the Houston Texans passive when it comes to their passing game? All puns aside, I really think that's a fair word to use after trading Matt Schaub following his interception-plagued 2013 season - a decision I thought was a mistake if only because he could be brought back in for competition - because with all of the weapons the Texans had to win, they were still playing with Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer.
That's not to say Hoyer isn't a good quarterback for a rebuilding team like Cleveland or San Francisco, but Houston had opportunities to make splashes and when they did, they went with overpaying Brock Osweiler. Welp.
Honorable mention: Trading Schaub. He had the yips in 2013, true, but he'd shown so much in the past that it almost seemed worth it to bring him back for one last chance.
19 Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Grigson
"Ryan Grigson was the failed general manager of the Colts. He was fired in January, but he has found new employment five months after his dismissal. Grigson was brought in to be the Senior Personnel Executive. Grigson did numerous terrible things in Indianapolis, and if the Browns begin signing overrated players for big-money deals, we'll know who's responsible. Grigson, fortunately, won't have input in that sort of decision-making. He'll help with his scouting experience, though that didn't do much for the Colts, who would've gone 3-13 each season had Andrew Luck not fallen into his lap."
I don't know what else to say, other than keeping Grigson around for as long as they did cost the Colts a chance at being the second-best team in the AFC.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert/Blake Bortles
Congrats, Jacksonville, two of your mistakes make it here and if not for drafting Leonard Fournette this spring, we could be looking at three. In 2011, Jacksonville reached on a project quarterback and took Blaine Gabbert, who was out of a starting job by his third season. In 2014, Jacksonville reached on a project quarterback and took Blake Bortles, who is potentially going to be out of a starting job by his third season.
They say drafting a bad quarterback can set you back five years and the Jaguars have been set back seven or eight years, maybe even longer by bad decision-making. Why would the Jaguars use a first-rounder on Gabbert in a draft that featured players that would be such better fits? Why would the Jaguars use a first-rounder on Bortles in a draft that featured players that would be such better fits.
Please, save me. Please.
Honorable mention: Allowing awful front-office moves to become routine.
17 Kansas City Chiefs: The Jon Baldwin Pick
I never understood this pick, even if Jon Baldwin had a consensus first-round grade going into the 2011 NFL Draft. Kansas City was a team that was building their offense through the running game, even with Matt Cassel as their quarterback, so why use a first-round pick on a wideout that was probably best utilized in an offense more devoted to passing? Was this an instance of a team trying to be smart with a player that dropped (i.e. the New York Jets and Kyle Wilson) or did they legitimately think Baldwin could be a playmaker?
Like the Cowboys, there's not many mistakes the Chiefs have made in the past decade - it's been more things that were out of their control - so Jon Baldwin is the pick. Yes, Chiefs fans, that's a good thing.
16 Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers: Letting Ladainian Tomlinson Walk
Here, I go back to what I said earlier about Steve Smith and the Carolina Panthers: When the time comes where teams need to let go of aging veterans because their play is dropping, I think there has to be a certain way it's handled. San Diego did handle letting Ladainian Tomlinson leave with class and, based on how much L.T. had been used in his career and how slow he looked in 2009, there's a defense to be made.
But still, this was a Chargers team that was coming off an elite 2009 season and seemed primed for a Super Bowl run in 2010. Did the Chargers really think they'd make the promised land solely by cutting Tomlinson and giving Darren Sproles the starting running back job? I wasn't a fan of cutting Tomlinson at the time and his two seasons with the Jets (4.1 yards a carry and seven touchdowns in two years) showed there was still something left.
Honorable mention: Moving to Los Angeles...if that doesn't pan out.
15 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams: Allowing 8-8 to become acceptable
Say what you want about Jeff Fisher being fed up with the 7-9 BS, but watching the St. Louis and then Los Angeles Rams seemingly accept being an 8-8 team at best got frustrating when you could see all of the pieces were there. Even playing in a tough NFC West, this team seemed like they were on the verge of something special each year, so what gives?
Well, that was part of the reason why the Rams let Fisher go last year and brought in Sean McVay as his replacement. Perhaps the 31-year-old McVay, who replaced Lane Kiffin as the youngest man to ever be hired as an NFL coach, can change the culture this season...or not.
Honorable mention: Trading Sam Bradford for Nick Foles, although Bradford was coming off two ACL tears.
14 Miami Dolphins: Richard Marshall for Vontae Davis
True, this wasn't quite a direct trade the way Nick Foles and Sam Bradford were, but this was in essence a one-for-one swap. In the spring of 2012, the Miami Dolphins signed former Panthers and Cardinals cornerback Richard Marshall to a three-year, $16 million contract, trading away former first-rounder Vontae Davis during the preseason. Marshall was released in August 2013, while Davis is still playing at a high level for the Indianapolis Colts.
Really, that's all there is to say. Miami tried to make a splash in free agency like they normally do it and it failed. Miami shipped off a valuable player through trade and that player proved to be a steal for the other team. What a fun time to be a Miami Dolphins fan.
13 Minnesota Vikings: Forgoing the rebuild
This one has always bothered me and apparently, I'm not alone. If you'll remember, the Minnesota Vikings seemed primed to enter a rebuild after the 2010 season; Brett Favre was gone, Donovan McNabb was serving as a stopgap for Christian Ponder, and the Vikings were hoping to be contenders by 2014, maybe 2013 at the absolute earliest. But, Adrian Peterson ran for over 2,000 yards in 2012 and literally carried the Vikings to the playoffs, so they had to abandon their rebuilding plan.
Why? If the Vikings knew that Adrian Peterson was doing all of that a year after his Achilles injury, wouldn't they have thought about doing one more year of the rebuild to make sure the team could survive if A.D. didn't run for 2,000 yards again? Was there a need in in signing Greg Jennings to a three-year deal? Alas, none of this mattered because Teddy Bridgewater came into play and things went from there, but this wasn't a smart move by the Vikings.
Honorable mention: The Metrodome's roof collapsing...oh wait...
12 New England Patriots: Not Getting Bill Belichick to smile
Bill Belichick has been the Patriots' coach for nearly 20 years at this point and we still rarely get to see him smile. Come on, Patriots. There's nothing you can do to make the Hoodie smile? Even Emperor Palpatine got some laughs in - although his were more of the sadistic variety - but Belichick? Unless the Patriots are winning the Super Bowl, the guy never smiles and it's upsetting. Smile more, Bill!
In all seriousness, we did consider putting Spygate and Deflategate on this list, but those weren't necessarily mistakes so much as they were common team tactics that they got caught doing. Is that fair reasoning? Considering a New Yorker made that argument, yes, it is. Now, as for a team that was involved in a scandal that we're not forgetting...
11 New Orleans Saints: Bountygate
Not unlike some of the NFL's other scandals over the years, Bountygate - the New Orleans' Saints pay-for-hits program - is something other teams used as well; YourTeamCheats reminds us that the Green Bay Packers once used a similar system for hard hits, but hard injuries?
From 2009 to 2011, anywhere from 22-27 Saints players were involved in a system that awarded cash prizes to players who injured key opposing players; if the Saints were playing the Falcons, for example, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and John Abraham may be select players New Orleans would try to hurt. There's some things in this game where you say boys are being boys, but this? Sean Payton knowing about it didn't help, but again, this was something teams have done in the past and some teams may still use something similar.
Welcome to the NFL: No F-cking Logic.
10 New York Giants: Living off 2007 and 2011
Say what you want about the New York Giants' problems now, but their problems in Tom Coughlin's final years were the team trying to live off the past. It's one thing to hope that you'll find the luck you had in 2007 and 2011 by going over similar schemes and maybe bringing back a play or two that worked, but things changed and the NFL was changing. But for Tom Coughlin, he thought he could stop the league advancing by revisiting his glory days.
Between bringing back former Super Bowl players like running backs Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward in addition to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks to fill holes and signing Super Bowl XLII defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo to return to his old post following some years in Baltimore, Coughlin was under the impressions reunions would bring about wins. Living off the old days isn't going to work forever, something the Giants seemed to learn last year under Ben McAdoo.
Honorable mention: Too many from the Coughlin era to put here.
9 New York Jets: The Mark Sanchez Debacle
This? Of all the things the Jets have done wrong in the past decade, this is what I went with? If you go back to the 2011 season, we were finally seeing the Mark Sanchez that people expected...until we didn't. Take a look at the stats.
Sanchez's first 13 games in 2011: 2,859 yards with a 56.81 completion percentage with 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and an 8-5 record.Sanchez's final three games in 2011: 615 yards with a 56.41 completion percentage with five touchdowns, seven interceptions, and an 0-3 record.
Why the Jets would overreact to that and trade for Tim Tebow in the following offseason, I'm not sure, but that helped set the stage for a broken Mark Sanchez in 2012 and drafting Geno Smith in 2013. I'm not going to pretend the guy was Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but he was the franchise quarterback who had improved every year (although the seven interceptions makes the stats look uglier). Why were the Jets willing to end everything?
There are other things to put on this list, yes, but the whole mess with Mark Sanchez I absolutely think has to be up there.
8 Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell
I knew this would be here. You knew this would be here. What'd Lane tell me about JaMarcus a few weeks ago after Calvin Johnson, who the Lions used the second overall pick on after Kiffin's Raiders took Russell, hung out and worked with the FAU Owls?
"You're setting me up for the thing about why we could've drafted him instead of JaMarcus."
Even ten years later and even with the Oakland Raiders seemingly having found their quarterback of the future in Derek Carr, we're still talking about JaMarcus Russell. There were so many different options for the Raiders to pick at number one - Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Joe Thomas - and they went with a quarterback who had one solid year at LSU? Al Davis, rest in peace, what were you thinking?
Honorable mention: Firing Hue Jackson after one 8-8 season (????).
7 Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly...all of it
There's two ways we can do this entry. Let's do both!
- After firing Andy Reid following the 2012 season, the Philadelphia Eagles took a major risk in signing Oregon's Chip Kelly to be their head coach. Kelly relied on schemes that worked at Oregon and the NCAA level, but probably weren't going to work in the NFL without major adjustments...which he didn't exactly make. There were better candidates on the market, but I understand why the Eagles made this move. HOWEVER...
- Giving Kelly full power of the front office was a mistake, as was allowing him to trade LeSean McCoy for the oft-injured Kiko Alonso because and cutting DeSean Jackson because...why? And no, Kelly's supposed racism isn't the answer.
What is the answer, though, is that the Chip Kelly experiment failed. Simple as that. Next...
Honorable mention: Using first-round picks on Danny Watkins and Marcus Smith
6 Pittsburgh Steelers: Falling for Jarvis Jones
More often than not, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been smart with their draft day decisions, especially in the later rounds; they value hard workers and those willing to risk it all, which made their 2013 selection of Jarvis Jones perplexing. While Jones did star at Georgia after transferring from USC over arguments with doctors about his neck, scouts were worried about his effort and an ugly Pro Day.
Was this the Steelers trying to take a risk when they saw the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals starting to really challenge them for AFC North dominance, or did they see hope for Jones? Regardless, Jones disappointed in his four seasons with the Steelers and is now with the Arizona Cardinals. Will he impress there?
Honorable mention: Pretending Ben Roethlisberger's incidents never happened. Yep, we went there.
5 San Francisco 49ers: Upsetting Jim Harbaugh
You had to have known this was coming. After Jim Harbaugh took the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship Games from 2011-14 and turned in an 8-8 performance in 2014, a power struggle between the former quarterback and CEO Jed York led to Harbaugh leaving to take the Michigan job.
“The 49ers are taking a gigantic risk here,” Business Insider's Tony Manfred wrote at the time. “Harbaugh has set an impossible standard for his successor – even his worst season (8-8 in 2014) wasn’t that bad. If the team doesn’t get back to the top of the NFC quickly, all anyone is going to remember is that the 49ers let Jim Harbaugh leave for no reason.”
Well, given how bad the 49ers have looked in recent years and are on their third coach in three seasons, I think we know how the risk turned out.
Honorable mentions: Letting Frank Gore walk and not defending Colin Kaepernick last year as well as they should have.
4 Seattle Seahawks: The Throw
I don't think anything the Seahawks have done in the past decade - other than their infamous neon green jerseys - even comes close to having Russell Wilson throw on fourth-and short against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX only to be intercepted by undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler. Nearly three years later, we're still asking why Pete Carroll didn't simply call for a rushing attempt by Marshwn Lynch.
We beat 'em, bro. We beat 'em. ... I'm speechless," Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin said that night. "Best back in the league, and the 1-yard-line? It wasn't even the 1 -- it was like half a yard. I will never understand that, bro. I will never understand it. I will never understand. ... When Jermaine caught that ball, I felt it was meant to be for us. Oh, no doubt -- we're gonna score. Beast Mode. Beast Mode! Best back on the (expletive) planet. That's crazy!"
Honorable mention: THE NEON GREENS!
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Greg Schiano Era
Sometimes, coaches don't work because they're simply not good fits or what made them great in previous stops didn't quite work with their current roster or the league they're adjusting to. However, there are times where a coach is hired and not only destroys all morale, but puts the team in a serious hole for the near-future despite inheriting so much talent.
Greg Schiano was a successful coach at Rutgers in part because of his my way or the highway coaching style, which works with college kids in need of maturing. But once Schiano made it to the NFL and was working with men that he couldn't quite treat like children...well, I'll let one ex-Buc take it from here.
"How bad is it there? It's worse than you can imagine," an unnamed player who spent 2012 with the Bucs, told NFL.com's Michael Silver in 2013. "It's like being in Cuba."
Woof. Oh, and he forced Josh Freeman out for no reason because...why?
Honorable mention: Retiring the creamsicle jerseys.
2 Tennessee Titans: Stepping on the Terrible Towel
This one may surprise people because there's plenty of other options, but if you wonder why the 2009 Titans started 0-6 or Marcus Mariota was hurt last year, think back to this 2008 incident. After defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers to clinch home-field advantage in the upcoming postseason, Titans running back LenDale White and linebacker Keith Bulluck stomped on the Terrible Towel, placing a curse that led to a one-and-done against the Baltimore Ravens and no playoff appearances since.
To reverse the curse the following season, Nashville radio host Thom Abraham sent a Terrible Towel signed by Bulluck to the Allegheny Valley School, which receives portions of proceeds from TT sales. Abraham sent a note with the towel, writing, “LenDale and Keith wish you all the best” and “P.S. Please release the curse!!”
“This is not an apology,” White said. “I’ll probably never apologize unless I’m playing with the Steelers one day, but, you know, it is what it is. It’s going for a good cause and I’m happy to help it.”
Honorable mentions: Reaching on Jake Locker...being too dependent on Chris Johnson...
Not-mistake: Becoming the first team to draft an FAU player (Rusty Smith) in 2010.
1 Washington Redskins: Being bossed around by Robert Griffin III
If you thought I was going to mention the Redskins' name here, I did admit to briefly considering that as an honorable mention, but Dan Snyder isn't changing that name anytime soon. What we will discuss, however, is the Redskins allowing quarterback Robert Griffin III to essentially bully the team into letting him play after his ACL tear in the 2012 Wild Card loss to Seattle. Remember Griffin's "#ALLIN" movement?
Given that Robert Griffin III was Robert Griffin III when he could run and pass successfully, allowing him to rush back from a TORN ACL was not the right call. Kirk Cousins was already on the roster and the team knew that RG3 was fairly brittle, so why not shut him down - literally and metaphorically - and start Cousins? Imagine how things would be now...
Honorable mention: The Donovan McNabb trade.
Which of these mistakes was the worst? Which mistakes did we forget? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!