NFL

Three NFL teams who won’t meet expectations in 2020

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Derrick Henry
  • Josh Allen
  • Rob Gronkowski
  • Stefon Diggs
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Tom Brady
By timrodriguez September 1, 2020 0 Comment
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The NFL off-season often promotes setting expectations for teams who have added to their roster. Which teams will fail to meet their goals?

Off-season championships are great. It’s always interesting to look at teams on paper during the Summer and crowing the “paper champs”. Sometimes, those teams work out and have phenomenal seasons. They ride their great roster to a playoff berth and a nice run. Unfortunately, there are some teams that simply do not live up to lofty off-season expectations. Take the 2019 Cleveland Browns. They had stars everywhere, but ultimately had an Achilles heel: Coaching. So, who will be 2020’s Cleveland Browns?

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are one of the more interesting teams in the NFL. So much of their success is predicated on good coaching and excellent defense. Those two things are sustainable in the NFL. However, the way the Bills won games last season is not sustainable. The first thing that will change is their schedule. Buffalo played four of the worst five teams in the NFL in 2019. They also played one of those teams, the Miami Dolphins, twice. They benefited from playing against subpar quarterbacks, combined with the fact that they have one of the best defenses in the league. The addition of star receiver Stefon Diggs is supposed to help catch their offense up to their defense and help them take the next step and become a true contender.

That is exactly where the problem lies – on offense. Quarterback Josh Allen took some positive strides in 2019 compared to his 2018 rookie campaign. However, he was still far from a star quarterback. Allen has all the physical tools. He’s big, fast, strong, and has an absolute cannon of an arm. Where things fall off the rails for the former Wyoming Cowboy is accuracy and decision making. He improved in the intermediate area throws (10-15 yards), but is still missing for too many deep shots down the field. He’s overthrowing guys by at least five yards on shot plays. Diggs is great, but does he make Allen more accurate? Buffalo will fall short of expectations thanks to an uptick in competition and the inconsistency of their young quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There’s a lot of buzz in Central Florida right now, and there’s a good reason. The supposed “greatest of all time” has taken his talents south and created “Tompa Bay”. Yes, legendary quarterback Tom Brady has left the New England Patriots and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With so much happening in 2020, that part still feels like a fever dream. He even brought future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski with him. Tampa is the definition of “Paper Champs”. They currently have the best odds to win the NFC. However, unfortunately for Brady and the Bucs, they won’t even be division champs.

It’s time to have a tough conversation about Tom Brady. Turn on the tape from 2019 and it’s pretty evident: he’s just not the same guy. That New England team rode an otherworldly defense and light quarterback schedule to a 12-4 division title. Back to back home losses to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill capped off a terrible second half of the season for Brady and the offense. Brady simply wasn’t himself. Now, he’s expected to win a division with the New Orleans Saints in it. They just don’t have what it takes.

The Bucs are better than New Orleans at receiver and linebacker, that is it. New Orleans has the advantage at coach, quarterback, offensive line, defensive line, and in the secondary. Even on special teams, the Saints are among the best in the NFL. Brady doesn’t lift Tampa over New Orleans, and asking them to travel to Philadelphia, or Seattle, or Green Bay to win a January playoff game is a tall task for a young team. The Bucs are perhaps a playoff team, but February football is not in the cards for them.

Tennessee Titans

What an incredible run the Tennessee Titans went on in 2019. After inserting Ryan Tannehill into the lineup, they were virtually unbeatable. They were able to ground and pound teams to death with Derrick Henry. After securing the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, the Titans caught fire again. They won back to back road games in Baltimore and New England. Unfortunately for the Titans, they ran into the buzzsaw that was Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Tennessee built a ten point lead, but the Chiefs would prevail. Following the loss, Tennessee had an interesting off-season. They did not have much cap room after extending Ryan Tannehill. They inexplicably sent Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos for a seventh round pick.

Following that, they lost more key starters such as Jack Conklin and Logan Ryan. How are they trying to replace these players? With draft picks. The goal is to have rookies step in for veterans like Logan Ryan. First round pick Isaiah Wilson may not be expected to start for Conklin right away, making the pick even more questionable.

Even with a less than stellar off-season, the Titans are returning a veteran team that was one game away from the Super Bowl last season. There are two things that will absolutely crush the Titans in 2020. The first one is depth. Tennessee is a top heavy team. 2020 had two big contracts come up in Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. The lack of resources restricted the Titans from naturally adding talent to their roster. They were forced to try and replace starters with draft picks, making them a top-heavy team. In a year where depth will be tested, the Titans are in a bad spot. The other reason why the Titans will fall short of their lofty expectations is their quarterback. Ryan Tannehill received a big extension after helping the Titans win two road playoff games.

What’s different about Tannehill in 2020?

Now, he faces something he has always struggled with: expectations. He’s no longer playing with house money. It will be harder and harder to beat teams into submission as the season goes on and Henry faces more wear and tear. Therefore, he’s going to actually have to win some football games. Every time he’s been asked to win a football game, he has faltered. Go back and look at his must win games in 2013, 2014, and 2018. Tennessee is begging to enter the dreaded land of “NFL quarterback purgatory”.

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