Every team dreams about the Lombardi trophy, it is the ultimate prize. No team can be satisfied with first place in the division if they get knocked out first round of the playoffs, would you agree? Of course the team moves on, there is always next year. But the owner has to think what is next for the team. They must assess and consult with their advisers, GM, assistants and sometimes coaches, on what is the best move for the team going forward.
The offseason can arguably be as entertaining as the regular season for us extreme NFL fans. After all that is when usually the most exciting and beneficial moves regarding the teams' futures occur . Every team has its own needs, some teams might have all the right pieces and trying to just help out with some extra weapons, or a team that is beginning a rebuilding process which can be quit long as we see through the years. But every fan is hoping the management makes the right decision, because everyone wants to be successful. On certain occasions those exact thoughts are the motivation behind the big moves in history.
Sometimes we like the moves sometimes we do not, but they all excite us when they happen. That is just how it goes. At the end of the day we can only cheer on for our team, and just know that it is the managements job and they are the ones who call the shots. But what we can do, and what I like to do, is look back and see what were some key moves and moments for teams during the history of the NFL. Regardless if it caused the franchise to become the laughing stock of the league or made it a great dynasty. Remember, Lombardi trophy at any cost.
32 Chicago Bears - Mike Ditka Hired as Coach
As a player Mike Ditka was very successful, so for owner George Halas it was always an intriguing option to make the player who shined in the Bears jersey to be the next bench boss. Following the 1981 season Halas did just that and hired Mike Ditka. From that point Ditka did not disappoint. During his time with the Bears the team finished 1st in the division six times including a 15-1 season that was topped off with a victory in Super Bowl XX. Ditka established a winning tradition for years to come.
31 Cincinnati Bengals - Drafting Andy Dalton
It has been said, that what happens during the regular season does not matter, and the postseason is all that it comes down to. What has happened to the Bengals since Andy Dalton arrived as a second round pick, is the Bengals cannot seem to get over some sort of barrier. In five years in the league he managed carry his team to the playoffs each year and even throw for 124 TDs and 18,000 yards. But what puts a blemish on that, is hes horrible record in the post season which is now sitting at 0-4, with the Bengals losing in his absence this year. Still, the Bengals have not had sustained regular season success like this in a long time.
30 Buffalo Bills - 4 Consecutive Super Bowl Loses
In the early '90s the Bills were a dominant team and they have the Super Bowl appearances to prove it. But they do not have the bling bling. The Bills made it to the grand stage four consecutive years only to lose all four. The Bills just could not figure it out. After the last appearance it seemed like the Bills gave up, since the last Super Bowl the Bills have been to the playoffs only four times, with one playoff win. We'll see if the hiring of Rex Ryan proves to be another turning point.
29 Denver Broncos - Signing Peyton Manning
Denver was one of the teams on the rise after a subtle run in the playoffs in 2011. They rode a wave of Tebowmania to a divisional round exit, but Team President John Elway knew Tim Tebow wasn't the long-term answer at quarterback. In the offseason, Denver made a splash and signed star quarterback Peyton Manning. Since joining the team, Manning has carried the team to a 45-12 record including two Super Bowl appearances.
28 Cleveland Browns - Return To The NFL
It is hard to pinpoint one turning point on a franchise that's had so many bad decisions during the years. The new Browns returned to Cleveland as basically an expansion team, rather than the old established Browns. They ended up with a 2-14 season followed by 3-13. To make matters worse, three seasons after they had left Baltimore, the Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl. Maybe Ohio is not a good place for football teams. The Browns have only made one playoff appearance since the return of the franchise.
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 26 Consecutive Lost Games
In 1976, Tampa Bay accomplished something a team previously never have, losing every game of the season. They continued this amazing feat 12 games into the 1977 season ending the streak at 26 games. Needless to say it seemed like Tampa Bay developed the perfect losing formula because except for one Super Bowl in 2002 Tampa has not done well at all. Tony Dungy built the franchise into a Super Bowl contender and Jon Gruden finished the job, but this has been a losing franchise.
26 Arizona Cardinals - Drafting Larry Fitzgerald
Since Larry Fitzgerald was drafted 3rd overall in the 2004 draft he has been delivering consistency ever since. No matter who throws to him, he always seems to produce. He holds multiple franchise record and he helped out his team to make it to the Super Bowl in 2008 only to fall short to the Steelers. The Cardinals were often perennial losers throughout much of their history, but Fitzgerald has helped the Cardinals change the perception about them.
25 San Diego Chargers - Drafting LT
People knew LaDainian Tomlinson was going to be good. But no one knew that he would be this good. He arguably carried the Chargers team on his back to five playoff appearances in San Diego. He did that while having eight consecutive seasons with 1,000 yard rushing and 10 TDs including 2006 season which he scored league record 28 TDs. Ryan Leaf kept the franchise in a tailspin, but Tomlinson proved to be the franchise player the team was seeking.
24 Kansas City Chiefs - Trading for Joe Montana
Everyone in Kansas City was excited when they heard Joe Montana was coming to town. Montana did not disappoint. With fellow new comer Marcus Allen, the Chiefs created a dynamic offense and with an all ready solid defense in place it made Kansas City a Super Bowl contender. Montana and company managed to make it to the AFC Championship game only to be out outmatched by the Buffalo Bills. It is still the only AFC championship appearance since the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV.
23 Indianapolis Colts - Drafting Peyton Manning
It may have been a no brainer drafting Peyton Manning, but it remains a great choice as he helped the organization turn into one of the dominant teams in the league. Can you imagine if the Colts picked Ryan Leaf? Peyton Manning now stands as one of the greatest regular season quarterback . If only his percentage in the playoffs was better you could argue he is the best there was. Still, the Colts were longtime losers as a franchise, but Manning established a winning tradition throughout his time in Indy.
22 Dallas Cowboys - Herschel Walker Trade
At the time people were scratching their heads at why would the Cowboys give away one of the all time great running backs. But what people did not know was how much it was about to pay off. The Cowboys traded walker for some players and some draft picks. What became to be out of those draft picks was greatness. The Cowboys drafter Emmit Smith and Darren Woodson. Following the trade the Cowboys went on to play in 3 Superbowls winning every one of them.
21 Miami Dolphins - Losing Marino
Dan Marino may have not been the greatest quarterback in history but he provided the Dolphins with stability and consistency at the quarterback position. Many label him as the greatest player to never win a Super Bowl, as the Dolphins long failed to help Marino with a running game and a championship caliber defense. Following a terrible 62-7 loss in the playoffs to Jacksonville, Marino retired. Since then, the Dolphins haven't been able to find the solution having made the playoffs only three times since Marino's retirement.
20 Philadelphia Eagles - Hiring Andy Reid
The first five seasons Andy Reid was doing well, as he improved from 5-11 to making it to the playoffs with 11-5 record. He had a hand in drafting and developing good players in Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook . Over the years he would guide the Eagles to nine playoff appearances including five NFC Championships, reaching one Super Bowl in a defeat in Super Bowl XXXIX to the New England Patriots. The Eagles would hire Chip Kelly after firing Andy Reid, but fired Kelly after just three seasons. No coach in Eagles history had the sustained success Reid had.
19 Atlanta Falcons - Drafting Matt Ryan
Atlanta had not had a reliable quarterback since Michael Vick, who was locked up in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. So when they had the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft they could not resist. Matt Ryan went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year while leading the team to an 11-5 record. Since he entered the league he has established a great connection with one of the greats in the league Julio Jones. Seems like the Falcons are a couple of pieces on defense away from being a Super Bowl contender.
18 New York Giants - Hiring Tom Coughlin
In 2004 Coughlin was hired as New York's bench boss, and he did not disappoint, as he drafted the guy he wanted at quarterback and never looked back. Coughlin took the Giants to five playoff appearances including two great victories over Patriots in the Super Bowl. Coughlin had an ugly ending with the Giants, missing the playoffs in six of his last seven seasons, but it's hard to overlook two Super Bowls in 12 seasons.
17 Jacksonville Jaguars - Firing Tom Coughlin
Quite the segue, huh? Jacksonville fans will always ask themselves what could of been if Tom Coughlin was never let go? Coughlin guided the Jaguars to four consecutive playoff appearances, much better then the total of two in the last 12 years. No one can predict the future but I bet Coughlin did not let the firing bother him and went on to win two Super Bowls with the Giants. Tony Boselli, a former Jaguar said firing Coughlin was the franchise's biggest mistake:
"One of my regrets for the franchise is I think he could've been a Tom Landry, Chuck Noll type of guy in Jacksonville and stayed there forever," Boselli said, per the New York Daily News. "You talk to people in Jacksonville now, since he left he's still one of the most popular people in town. And I think for the longest time, people were like, 'Man, why did we fire Tom?' "
16 New York Jets - Belichick resigns, goes to New England
"I resign as head coach of the New York Jets."
That was a short statement Bill Belichick made to the media in New York just a day after being named the head coach in light of Bill Parcells' retirement. Seemed like no one but Belichick himself saw this coming. Parcells had arranged for team management to hire Belichick as his successor.
15 Detroit Lions - Barry Sanders Early Retirement
Detroit had found something great in Sanders, that why the drafter him. But no one could have predicted how great he would be and how little he would stick around. Sanders finished his career 3rd on the all time rushing list and set a lot of records. After he left the Lions seemed to have gone back to the abyss of not winning games. Perhaps now with Calvin Johnson's expected retirement, it could be deja vu all over again for the Lions.
14 Green Bay Packers - Farve Followed By Rodgers
It is known to be hard to find a good franchise quarterback in the NFL. The situation Green Bay found them selves in was quite unheard of. The Packers enjoyed the luxury of Farve and when it was time for Farve to hang up the cleats, the barely skipped a beat and continued their dominance with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. The fact that the Packers were able to move from one legendary quarterback to another is an amazing stroke of luck and proper planning for their future.
13 Carolina Panthers - Drafting Cam Newton
Cam Newton was an intriguing option coming out of college, but not the safest. Newton was leading a wave of new style of quarterback into the NFL called the mobile quarterback. Now a few years later and Newton is one of the best to play to do and he is going to be leading his team into Super Bowl 50 , you can say he was worth it. Can you imagine if the Panthers had gone with the "safer" pick and selected Blaine Gabbert? Sometimes a risk pays off.
12 New England Patriots - Tom Brady Era
When Drew Bledsoe went down every Patriots fan could not believe it, how can a 6th round pick can play at the helm of the Patriots? But Tom Brady took over and never looked back. Brady quickly became one of the greats due to his work in the film room. He proved every team that passed on him in the draft by leading the Patriots to a 172-51 record as a started in the regular season , and don't forget to add the four Super Bowl rings to his credit.
11 Oakland Raiders - Trading Jon Gruden
Jon Gruden helped build the Raiders team that went to Super Bowl XXXVII, only to be the one to thwart the Raiders' Super Bowl hopes after being traded to the Buccaneers the year before. Al Davisthought they got everything the could of Gruden so he decided to get rid of him while receiving some compensation. The team traded Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sure enough when the Super Bowl came Gruden knew all the ins and outs to the Raiders as his team went on to win 48-21.
10 Los Angeles (St. Louis) Rams - Kurt Warner Becomes Starter
After spending a season on the bench, due to injury to the starting quarterback Trent Green, Kurt Warner finally got his chance to shine. Warner accompanied by star running back Marshall Faulk and wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce , they lead the Rams to three consecutive playoff appearances including one Super Bowl victory and another appearance. Warner was released in the beginning of the 2004 season, since then the Rams have made the playoffs only once.
9 Baltimore Ravens - Drafting Ray Lewis
Drafted 26th overall, Ray Lewis quickly established himself as one of the most dominant players to ever play. He made 13 Pro Bowls, won DPOY twice in 2000 and 2003 and of course the two Super Bowl victories under his belt. Don't forget, this isn't just some player who made it onto the right team. This is a true baller who was the emotional leader for that team since the moment he stepped into that locker room. He was the face of the franchise for 15 years.
8 Washington Redskins - RGIII Trade
The Redskins really had their sights set on Robert Griffin III but they did not have the means to pick him, so they orchestrated of of the biggest trades in history. It all looked great they got the player they wanted, and the Rams were happy with three years worth of 1st round picks. But after a great rookie campaign Griffin has struggled mightily at times, and eventually got benched in favor of Cousins. The Redskins put themselves in a bad position by not being able to draft anyone in the first round for a few years.
7 New Orleans - Hurricane Katrina, Payton & Brees Comes to Town
Katrina showed no mercy and destroyed most of New Orleans crushing all hope. Only thing people had to hang on to was their love for football, and the Saints did not disappoint. Sean Payton and Drew Brees soon made their way to New Orleans and turned the franchise around. The team made it to the NFC Championship in Brees' first year in New Orleans. A few years after the disaster, Payton and Brees lead the Saints to a victory over the Colts in the Super Bowl.
6 Seattle Seahawks - 2 Great draft classes
You could say Seattle got lucky, but we will just say John Schneider, Pete Carroll and company are geniuses. Through three years the Seahawks made themselves a perennial Super Bowl contender. Seattle was able to rebuild using the draft and this way minimizing they expense by getting high caliber players like Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson all at late rounds, thus not having to pay them as much. They turned this into a Super Bowl championship and should have had a second one.
5 Pittsburgh Steelers - Coaching Stability - Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin
The key to the Pittsburgh Steelers being so successful as a franchise is having so much stability. Chuck Noll coached the team for 22 years, followed by Bill Cowher, who coached the Steelers for over 15 years. Mike Tomlin is now approaching his 10th season in Pittsburgh. No team has enjoyed such stability at the coaching position like the Steelers have. Since 1970 the Steelers have been to the playoffs 28 times and winning the Lombardi trophy six times. it seems like the Steelers ownership knows a thing or two about hiring the right man to do the job, take notes Cleveland.
4 Houston Texans - Drafting J.J. Watt
The Houston Texans were a team often flirting with the playoffs, just seemingly barely on the outside year after year. J.J. Watt is the heart and soul of the Texans defense and that is exactly what they team management intended when drafting him 11th overall. Quickly Watt became the most dominant defensive player in the league. Since entering the league, Watt never missed a start while accumulating 74.5 sacks and don't forget the three touchdowns he scored on offense. Since drafting Watt, the Texans have reached the playoffs three of his first five years. Watt is already a three-time defensive player of the year.
3 Tennessee Titans - Drafting Mariota
There hasn't been much bright spots for the Titans in history. But this is about to change, asthe Titans made a step in the right direction by drafting Marcus Mariota with the second pick out of Oregon. He already showed flashes of greatness and he is poised to prove he is capable of being a winning quarterback in this league. The Titans have had trouble finding success since the Steve McNair/Eddie George era, but fans in Nashville are hopeful the Mariota era will include Super Bowls.
2 San Francisco 49ers - Eddy DeBartolo Ownership
Eddy DeBartolo owned the 49ers for 23 years, and in those years he has been one of the greatest owners known to date. He was known as a players owner because he was loved by every player. He was rewarded with his hard work and love for the organization with five Super Bowl rings during his tenure. Since his departure, the 49ers have not won a Super Bowl and their ownership has often been called into question on the direction of the team.
1 Minnesota Vikings - Drafting Randy Moss
Drafting Randy Moss gave the Vikings a dynamic playmaker for years to come. He has helped the Vikings make it to the postseason four times falling just short of the Super Bowl, with two NFC Championship losses. He helped make the Vikings a scary offense that even the best of defenses had trouble defending against. He was essentially the missing piece that turned the Vikings into a viable contender for the 1998 season and several years after that.