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Point/Counterpoint: Who has been the NFL's most disappointing team this season?

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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Daily Iowan staff members debate which NFL team has been the most disappointing team in 2013.

Green Bay

If Charlie Kelly were a Packer fan, his favorite team’s season would cause him to go into his bad room on a weekly basis. And if you don’t watch “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (you should, by the way), just know that Green Bay has been the most disappointing team in the NFL this season.

On paper, it may not look as though that’s true (7-6-1 isn’t awful) but when the Pack play in the sad excuse for a division that Roger Goodell calls NFC North, it’s very true.

The 2013-14 campaign started off well for Mike McCarthy’s crew, with a 5-2 record and an MVP quarterback who completed roughly 67 percent of the balls he threw and on pace to pass for more than 4,000 yards. But then, in what will probably go down as Shea McClellin’s only play with lasting effect in his lackluster career (why he was a first-round pick is beyond me), the defensive end shed a block, chased down Aaron Rodgers, corralled and slammed him on his left shoulder, and broke the quarterback’s collarbone — not a fun injury. I’ve broken mine.

With that first-quarter break came a loss to a Bears’ squad that can only be described as brutally average and a defense that is just plain bad. The ensuing weeks brought four losses and a tie with the division rival Vikings in a game that was miserable to watch.

Of late, Green Bay is on the upswing, meaning it beat Atlanta and Dallas, teams it should’ve, so the Pack have that going for them.

What I’m saying here is this should’ve been the Packers’ division to lose, which is why their season is disappointing. The Vikings are a joke, the Bears are, well, the Bears, and I’m convinced a Jim Schwartz-coached team riddled with dirty players (see Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley) will never win a playoff game.

Rodgers still could come back — the unbiased fan in me hopes he does — and Green Bay may still be in it come the Week 17 tilt in Chicago. But right now, No. 12 is out, and Packer fans are asking themselves a simple question, “What if?”

— by Danny Payne

Pittsburgh

When Mike Tomlin stepped on the sideline and impeded Ravens punt returner Jacoby Jones’ progress downfield during a game against the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, it poetically summed up the entire Steeler’s season in one play.

Outmatched and playing from behind, Tomlin’s attempt to help the Steelers gain an advantage over their opponents ultimately ended in failure and embarrassment for both himself and the team.

That’s pretty much how almost every game has played out for Pittsburgh this year.

Coming off of a bad 2012 season that saw the Steelers miss the playoffs for the first time since their 2009 Super Bowl victory, expectations were high.

New offensive coordinator Todd Haley had some serious growing pains in his first year manning the Steeler offense. As a team in 2012, it managed to score only 336 points, 22nd in the NFL.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, it doesn’t appear that much has changed.

After a full off-season, the offense has skyrocketed from 22nd in points scored all the way up to the 19th spot. With two games remaining on the schedule, the Steelers are on pace to barely eclipse their total point total from the previous season.

On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s defense has been equally brutal.

Once held as the trademark for Steeler football, this current edition of Pittsburgh “D” has looked more like a wet blanket and less like a “steel curtain.”

A far cry from the menacing stopping power it had when it won two Super Bowls in four years, Pittsburgh’s defensive corps has allowed 332 points, good enough for a very middling 15th.

Pittsburgh’s defense is aging rapidly, and it is beginning to show on the field.

Not exactly the rebound they were looking for.

— by Ryan Rodriguez

Washington

I’m making the trek over from Opinions to lay down some truth on all these sports yokels: Washington is the most disappointing team in the NFL, and it’s really not close.

In 2012, Washington finished 10-6 and won the NFC East thanks in large part to the shimmering rise of Robert Griffin III, who was widely considered the best quarterback among last year’s impressive rookie class. They closed the regular season on a seven-game winning streak, during which they beat the eventual Super Bowl-champion Ravens. By the end of last year, “SportsCenter” was running entirely on whack suits and fawning stories about RGIII’s zany socks and limitless potential.

Then Washington’s would-be savior tore his LCL in a wild-card loss to the Seahawks, and the ’Skins were sent home to dream of the titles Griffin would certainly be raining on the nation’s capital by mid-decade.

Before this season began, Washington was the consensus pick of ESPN’s crack team of NFL Insiders to win the NFC East. Most “experts” had ’em pegged around 9-7, at or near the top of a weak division.

Four months later, they are 3-11. Their erstwhile quarterback of the future (whose QB rating fell more than 30 points between 2012 and 2013, for the record) has been deactivated in favor of Kirk Cousins — Kirk Cousins — as a part of Mike Shanahan’s ongoing campaign to be fired.

Think the Packers have disappointed? They still managed to crush the Redskins, 38-20, in September. The 4-10 Falcons? They beat the woeful ’Skins on Sunday.

The Steelers? At least they have a coach who wants to keep his job and a functional front office.

Barely a year removed from the unbridled optimism that surrounded the streaking ’Skins, this was the question posed about the organization last week in the Washington Post: “Who deserves more blame, Mike Shanahan, the weasel of a coach who defames his enemies, deflects blame, and now may duck out of town if he gets the firing he craves? Or [team owner Dan] Snyder, the man who picked Shanahan, his seventh coach in 14 years?”

To top it all off — the losing, the organizational chaos — this steaming heap of an organization still clings to a blatantly racist nickname that a growing number of media outlets won’t even use. A disappointment indeed.

— by Zach Tilly

Atlanta

When considering the most disappointing teams of the 2013-14 NFL season, it’s impossible to ignore Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons.

At the beginning of this season, the Falcons looked like a contender for the Super Bowl. They had just come off a NFC championship appearance and one of their best finishes in franchise history.

Their off-season had been fairly uneventful with the notable exception of the signing of running back Steven Jackson and the re-signing of future Hall of Fame tight-end Tony Gonzalez.

The plan did not work out at all. Early in the season, both wide receiver Julio Jones and Jackson went down with injuries, and Ryan struggled to carry the workload by himself. Coupled with Ryan’s struggles, Atlanta hasn’t benefited from owning the worst rushing attack in the league, which averages an abysmal 79.3 yards per game.

The Falcons, aerial attack hasn’t been awful (they rank 8th in passing yards), but Ryan has thrown 14 interceptions, mostly because they usually play from behind.

On the defensive side of the ball, Atlanta hasn’t fared much better and owns one of the league’s worst defensive units. This, coupled with the high-powered offenses in their division (New Orleans and Carolina come to mind) became a recipe for disaster.

There are bits and pieces on the Falcons defense, such as defensive end Osi Umenyiora who has seven sacks on the season. Beyond that, the defense has not made many plays and has only 19 turnovers forced on the season.

What is most disappointing this season is the failure to meet the expectations raised by previous years’ success. Ryan has made the playoffs every season he has been in the league, a streak that will come to an end after this campaign.

A series of events led to this being a flop of a season for the Falcons, and it may take several years before they truly are a contender for the championship again.

— by Jordan Hansen


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