When it comes to the NFL there is bound to be some disappointment that comes at the end of your team's season. Only one fan-base gets to be happy at the end, and while it may be yours, the odds are it isn't going to happen. For fans of certain franchises like the Cleveland Browns, who have seemingly defied the odds to stay as mediocre for as long as they have, disappointment may be the best emotion to use in describing your team.
Yet, when the off-season hits, optimism may be starting to grow because sure, you didn't win, but you may have had a really great draft class. Or you didn't really enjoy the players that you drafted, but maybe you really love your new head coach? The signing of Mike Zimmer to the Vikings may not have gotten as much hype as some big free agent signings that year, but you better believe it's going to have as big an impact as anything else.
As it seems to be every year, several teams have elected to go with a new head coach for the 2016-17 season. Maybe this is something that you love, while other decisions your team has made may leave you scratching your head.
At the end of the day though, there is always going to be that silver lining that tells you, maybe next year your team will accomplish something. Maybe something special, maybe just a non-awful season for once.
Here is (at least) 1 reason behind why every single NFL team should be optimistic going into next season (yes, even you Browns fans).
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32 Arizona Cardinals
When it comes to the Cardinals, the biggest thing that stands out for next year is the potential youth of the team. Sure, Palmer is getting up there in age, but the Cardinals have standout players that are starting to realize their true potential. Mathieu is a priority for the team to get locked up, and the emergence of rookie David Johnson this year, only helps to further prove that anything can happen in this league. The Cardinals have a talented enough group of players around them to help make any raw player turn into a standout. You can also look for Michael Floyd to continue his emergence, especially as Larry Fitzgerald gets up there in age.
31 Atlanta Falcons
When it comes to making sure you have a team that is going to be successful over the long term, one of the biggest components is making sure you have a strong team identity. The biggest indicator for the Falcons in forming that identity is their head coach, Dan Quinn. For the Falcons, this past season was one of ups and downs. They started out incredibly hot, but unfortunately cooled down and had a disappointing end to their year. At the very least, you need to hope that Quinn is going to improve in his 2nd year as a head coach. He's shown he can develop a winning game plan, he just needs his team to be more consistent.
30 Baltimore Ravens
If you’re a Ravens fan, you need to hope for next season if only because there is absolutely no way that it will be as injury-filled as this past one. The Ravens lost an astounding number of key players, including Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Justin Forsett and that’s just naming the top 3. On top of that, last years first round pick, Perriman, failed to see the field this year after suffering an injury. The positive is that the Ravens are almost always a top tier team, and with a higher than expected draft pick this year, they could be setting themselves up for a great 2016 season.
29 Buffalo Bills
When it comes to the Buffalo Bills, one of the reasons people may be a little less than optimistic is that the Bills are doubling up on their "Ryan" supply, adding Rob Ryan to the coaching staff alongside brother Rex. While their personalities are large, the results for both Ryan’s can be called into question. Yet, a big standout in the 2015-16 season was the play of Tyrod Taylor and that should have people feeling optimistic. The quarterback position can show tremendous growth, and you can expect Taylor to have a strong campaign next season. Especially given that he’ll now have this offseason to try and increase chemistry with his fellow players.
28 Carolina Panthers
When your team goes 17-1 and makes it to the Super Bowl, there should be countless reasons as to why fans should be excited about next year. It’s remarkable the success that the Panthers have had, especially when you consider their stud receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, tore his ACL before the preseason even began. A healthy Benjamin is going to be electric in this offense, especially because Cam has become a much better decision maker. Devin Funchess has also shown some promise towards the end of the season, and has the chance to be a big time contributor in the 2016-17 season.
27 Chicago Bears
When it comes to the Bears past season, there were definitely some ups and downs, but one of their biggest disappointments may have come when their first round pick, Kevin White, developed a leg injury that caused him to miss the entire season. Similar to Perriman in Baltimore, White is a tremendous talent and it would have been great to see him on the field with Alshon Jeffrey. If Jeffrey signs with another team this offseason, the expectations for White are only going to continue to increase. Let's hope the Bears can have a successful draft and start re-tooling.
26 Cincinnati Bengals
Oof, another great regular season that gets capped off with a disappointing exit in the playoffs. This is a site that Bengals fans are far too familiar seeing. When it comes to establishing reasons to be excited next year, fans can at least be happy that Andy Dalton showed some great signs of improvement this year. If they bring back Marvin Jones, him alongside AJ Green could be a great tandem. Not to mention the outstanding play of Eifert this season, who proved that when he can stay healthy, that he may be as good as any tight end in the game. Just try not to think about playoffs if you’re a Bengals fan.
25 Cleveland Browns
There isn’t a player on the Cleveland Browns roster that generates any great deal of excitement. Sure, Joe Thomas is one of the best players in the game, but a left tackle is still not going to be an eye-popping position. For the Browns, their optimism needs to be held in the fact that they brought Hue Jackson in to coach, and that they have the #2 pick. Jackson has experience working with quarterbacks, and the Browns desperately need to find some consistency at the position. The team is pitiful as of now, but maybe they will draft an exciting rookie and people will buy into Hue’s system.
24 Dallas Cowboys
If you’re a Cowboys fan, this past season was not the easiest to watch. Expectations were high, especially with the massive re-signing of Dez Bryant. Injuries to Dez, and then Tony Romo, completely haltered any momentum the Cowboys had. One of the most optimistic reasons, may be that there is a limited chance that both studs will be injured next year. Another reason? The injuries to Tony have at the very least opened Jerry Jones’ eyes to the idea of having a serviceable backup quarterback. If you aren’t putting Brandon Weeden into an NFL game, you’re off to a good start.
23 Denver Broncos
Broncos fans, first and foremost should be optimistic about defending their Super Bowl title next season. However, if we’re being realistic, this is probably Manning’s last rodeo (as he put it) and thus, fans need to hopefully be sold on the brief sample size that they saw from Brock "Lobster" Osweiler this past season. The Broncos running game failed to find a significant rhythm for most of the year as well, but you need to hope that they’ll be addressing some offensive line concerns and help create a more balanced attack for Brock next season.
22 Detroit Lions
Jim Bob Cooter might be the best name in sports. The former quarterback coach for the Lions, excelled when he was given the reigns of the offensive coordinator job during this past season. The Lions missed the playoffs, but largely because of how awful they played at the start of the year. With Calvin Johnson announcing his retirement, fans may think that Stafford is due for some serious regression next year. Yet, if anyone is going to be able to help him, it’ll be Jim Bob.
21 Green Bay Packers
Well, your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers. So I mean, that’s a pretty good start as to why you should be optimistic. Yet, if you look beyond that, one of the biggest causes for optimism may be that at least next year Jordy Nelson will be back from his torn ACL. Cobb had some nice moments, but Davante Adams was incredibly disappointing and it led to a Green Bay offense that was far from the lethal weapon it used to be. Adams works best as a #3, Cobb as a #2, and Jordy as their go-to guy. I’m sure Rodgers will be as excited as anyone else to see Jordy get back to the field.
20 Houston Texans
If there is one takeaway from being shutout in the playoffs, it may be that the team has finally realized that they need a quarterback. You can have all the J.J Watt’s in the world, but it doesn’t make up for Brian Hoyer throwing the ball. Deandre Hopkins had an outstanding past season, and also has the potential to jump to the top receiver in football next year if they are able to get some consistency out of the quarterback position. The team has come out and stated there need to improve at the quarterback position, so at least fans know their complaints are being heard.
19 Indianapolis Colts
Colts fans probably thought the saddest they could feel, would be when the Patriots blew them out of the playoffs 2 seasons ago. Joke was on them because the following season was going to lead to some injuries to Andrew Luck and the entire team looked disorganized. After a public feud between Grigson and Pagano, the team announced that they would both be back for next year (what? but don't worry, they had a heart-to-heart). Why be optimistic? I still think Luck is the best young quarterback in football. Just for the love of God, please draft an offensive line or some defensive talent.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars
One of the first reasons to be optimistic is the fact that your team has a great deal of money to spend in free agency. While this doesn’t always work out, the Jags are at the very least a young and promising team. Playing in arguably the worst division in football, continued improvement in Bortles, Robinson, Hurns, and other young studs may lead to the Jags finally turning the corner next year. Dante Fowler, the 3rd pick off of last years draft, is also expected to recover from a torn ACL that sidelined him for all of last season.
17 Kansas City Chiefs
Nobody could have predicted this past season for the Chiefs. After starting out 1-5, they would win the rest of their games, earning a Wildcard spot and winning a playoff game over the Texans. One of the biggest reasons for their success, and optimism for next year can be linked to Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. Kelce was one of the best tight ends in football, and a perfect option for Alex Smith who tends to avoid taking risks. Maclin was also outstanding at allowing the Chiefs to stretch the field and made several huge catches. The Chiefs have a much better idea of what they have on offense then they did a year ago, and that’s a really exciting thing.
16 Los Angeles Rams
If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Rams, it’s very possible that this is going to be your first year following the team. Nothing says bad blood like leaving a city, and many St. Louis fans are not going to be so quick to forgive. So, the first thing to be excited about? YOU HAVE AN NFL TEAM! The second thing? You might also have the most exciting young player on both sides of the ball. Todd Gurley showed he was clearly recovered from his torn ACL and had a great campaign last season. Aaron Donald is also a freak on the other side of the ball, and is arguably the most talented defensive tackle in the league. Clearly two cornerstone players that should get new L.A. fans up in their seats.
15 Miami Dolphins
If I were a Dolphins fan, the most optimistic thing I could think is that maybe next year Tom Brady will finally start to regress (though I doubt it). That being said, Ryan Tannehill still showed some signs of improvement last year and I expect he’s going to have a great season. Davante Parker, their first round pick from last year, was also slow to get going, but he picked things up as the year progressed. If the two can form a connection, it may be enough to knock off those pesky Pats (though I doubt it).
14 Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings may have had a heartbreaking end to their season, but that shouldn’t cloud the fact that they had a great year. Teddy Bridgewater showed some improvement and you can expect him to take another big leap next season. Stefon Diggs, their 5th round pick, also came out of no where to establish himself as Teddy’s #1 target for a solid stretch of the season. The Vikings won’t be the best team in football next year, but you can expect to see some improvement in some really exciting positions to watch. I hear Adrian Peterson also isn’t an awful running back.
13 New England Patriots
You’re the New England Patriots, you’ve been a powerhouse team for the last decade and if you need to find reasons to be optimistic then I feel bad for you. There will finally be a year where Belicheck and Brady see a drop off, but I don’t think it will be next year. Dion Lewis was also an electrifying game-changer, that they signed long term for a great price, before he unfortunately tore his ACL. If Dion can come back strong, it may allow the Pats to continue to try and balance out their offense. Until then, at least you have #12 throwing the ball.
12 New Orleans Saints
Rob Ryan is gone!! It takes a special ability to have a defense that looked as bad as the Saints did last year. One of their bigger free agent signings, Brendan Browner, was one of the worst cornerbacks in football and the team struggled mightily. If you’re a fan, you need to at least be happy that they fired their former defensive coordinator. Sadly, for Saints fans that might be the only point to get excited about. Drew still looked great at times last year, but he’s getting older and the team around him just does not seem to be very good.
11 New York Giants
If you have OBJ on your team, you can instantly think of a reason to be optimistic for next season. No matter what your record is next year, you will surely be witness to some amazing plays that will leave you amazed. Another reason? Tom Coughlin is no longer your head coach. Tom’s a legend, but his poor clock management really hindered the team last season. They promoted offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo to the role. Eli showed some marked improvement last season, and if anyone is going to get the best out of him, it may be McAdoo.
10 New York Jets
Last season may have ended with the Jets missing the playoffs, but I don’t think many fans thought they would win 10 games at the start of the year. This can be attributed to a number of factors, but I’m not going to downplay the role of Todd Bowles. In his first year as a coach, he clearly revamped the locker room from the culture that Rex Ryan had left. As one of the best young coaches in the league, Bowles is going to continue to implement his strong defensive mindset. If Fitzpatrick and Ivory both come back, you can hope for a more promising end to next season.
9 Oakland Raiders
The franchise may have been awful for the last little while, but I don’t know if there is a franchise that can be more optimistic going into next year than the Raiders. They have young playmakers all over the field, including the outstanding Khalil Mack who may be the best linebacker in football. Derek Carr is looking like a fantastic option at quarterback, and Amari Cooper is one of the best young receivers in football. If the Broncos take a step back next year (definitely possible, remember there may be no Peyton or Von Milller if he signs elsewhere), the Raiders might be the team to beat in their division.
8 Philadelphia Eagles
One of the most optimistic things for Eagles fans may be the removal of Chip Kelly. Kelly had limited success, but a massive impact, on the overall roster of the Eagles. Unfortunately, the Eagles then hired Doug Pederson as their new head coach which made many critics shake their head in confusion. Optimism may be found when you look at Jordan Matthews, who at the very least started to show signs of improvement over the past year. Yet, with Bradford perhaps not coming back, there is no guarantee that the Eagles will have a quarterback that can get him the ball. The Eagles might be one of the most disappointing teams next season.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens and Steelers might have a fierce rivalry, and apparently last year that also included the race to see how many prominent players could get hurt. When you have a playoff game and there’s no Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell (…or his backup) you’re bound to be sad. Bell already had a rough start to the year and after returning from suspension, his knee injury was heartbreaking for the fans. Big Ben also missed time this past year, and was hobbled for other games. Lets hope that for the 2016 season, fans can at least be optimistic that they probably aren’t going to be as banged up.
6 San Diego Chargers
Are they still going to be the San Diego Chargers? All signs are pointing to no, and like the Rams, the fact that the Chargers might be a new team to a city is exciting. At least if you aren’t talking to Charger fans. They’ll have some players coming back from injury, but the Chargers future is as blurry as where they’ll be playing. Lets hope that Melvin Gordon, who was incredibly disappointing in his rookie season, can figure out how to be a running back in the pro’s.
5 San Francisco 49ers
There is no way that this offseason is going to be as rough for 49er fans as the previous. After losing countless studs to other teams or retirement, the 49ers had an awful season in 2015-16. As a result, they shook things up and brought in Chip Kelly. Is that a good thing? NOBODY knows. But if you’re going to potentially suck, you might as well hire one of the more entertaining coaches in the league. You can expect Kaepernick to get another shot at running the offense, perhaps his skill set will lend itself well to the fast paced offense of Chip?
4 Seattle Seahawks
When it comes to Seattle, there might not be a fanbase that has had a more successful few years. Sure, they lost in the Super Bowl, but they also went to two straight and were incredibly competitive this past year as well. One of the biggest shocks from this past season was the performance of Thomas Rawls and Tyler Lockett. Rawls came in for an injured Lynch and was one of the best runningback’s in football before suffering his own injury. As the Hawks look to move away from Lynch, Rawls is a huge reason as to why. Tyler Lockett also had an outstanding rookie season, largely drafted for his special team skills (which were also on full effect), he also continued to establish himself as a great receiver in the league. If the Hawks move to a more pass-friendly offense in the future, you can expect Lockett to keep being all over the highlight reels.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you go back one year, the biggest decision that the Bucs had to make was what they were going to do with the #1 overall pick in the draft. They chose wisely, and went with Jameis Winston who looks to be exactly what they needed in a franchise quarterback. Winston had the reputation of character issues entering the draft, but he had a great rookie season and has left the fanbase feeling good. Mike Evans also continued to show growth in his second year as a wide receiver. If the Bucs keep these guys together, look out for them in a few years time.
2 Tennessee Titans
When it comes to being a Titans fan, you may be used to seeing an awful (or painstakingly average) team hit the football field every season. Last year was unfortunately not a different overall record, but one of the bright spots was Marcus Mariota. While he may not have been as impressive as Winston, Mariota clearly showed improvement as the year went on and that should have fans optimistic for the quarterback’s second year. The Titans are still a few pieces away from making any kind of noise in the league, but at least their quarterback position looks to be solidified.
1 Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins entered last season as the starter of the Redskins, but that may largely have been because Robert Griffin was clearly not the answer. Yet, after a great second half of the season, Cousins helped lead the team to a playoff spot and that’s worth being excited about. While he is a UFA, the Redskins have not been shy about saying they will offer a long term contract to Cousins in the offseason. For fans that had their heartbroken by RG3, it might just be nice to get some stability at the quarterback position.
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