NFL Regular Season – 6 no wins; 3 no worries, 3 no way

There are 6 NFL teams with nary a win for their efforts after Week 2 of the 2012 NFL Regular Season; Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints.

The Numbers don’t lie

  • Five of the six are in their first year with a new head coach, which includes Kansas City who finished 2011 with Romeo Crennel and New Orleans with Sean Payton currently suspended.
  • Cleveland, Jacksonville and Tennessee have QB’s with less than two years experience.  Oakland, Kansas City and New Orleans have veterans under center.
  • Kansas City and New Orleans sit at the bottom in Defensive Pass Efficiency.  Jacksonville and Kansas City are top 10 in Offensive Run Success Rate, New Orleans close at #11.
  • Kansas City and New Orleans are last in points allowed at 75.  Jacksonville, Oakland, and Tennessee are respectively at the bottom in points scored (#30, #31, #32).
  • Four of the six have home games in Week 3, Kansas City goes to New Orleans; someone will be 0-3.

So what do you do if you’re a General Manager?  Which of these clubs is inclined to show patience, and which is inclined to show panic?  From the vantage of “video” suspended high in the sky, who has no worries and who has no way out?

Panic or patience?

It’s a bit too early to tell if these slow starts are a precursor to things yet to come, but at the moment all their paths lead to a top 10 draft pick in 2013.  If I’m Tom Heckert, Gene Smith, or Ruston Webster perhaps it’s prudent to start tinkering with my roster a bit.  If I’m Reggie McKenzie, Scott Pioli, or Mickey Loomis, I might want to just stand pat.  (Though either Pioli or Loomis won’t necessarily still feel that way after Sunday.)

It’s no coincidence that three of the six with the higher Offensive Pass Efficiency rankings are Oakland, New Orleans, and Kansas City.  I’d take my chances at the moment with Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, and or Matt Cassel over the near bottom rankings of Jake Locker, Brandon Weeden, and Blaine Gabbert.  And though the Raiders have struggled to find a successful running game (#31 in Run Success), both the Chiefs and Saints are hanging tough as earlier mentioned.  The Titans are last in the NFL, with the Browns in the back third at #23.

All three clubs (New Orleans when Joe Vitt returns) are headed by former defensive coordinators, so you’d hope that woes on the “X” side of the ball will eventually be figured out, or at least spackled and patched.

The reality of the situation

New Orleans is chasing Atlanta in the NFC South, no easy race but catchable none the less.  Cleveland is really already building for next season with the likes of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the AFC North.  Tennessee and Jacksonville are not going to catch Houston (the Texans are just better), unless Matt Schaub can’t stay healthy (and that’s a possibility).  Oakland and Kansas City are in a division that normally you could pull the final finish out of a hat, but with Peyton Manning in Denver no team can afford to get too far behind.

Fix your passing game…fast

I’ve repeated this time and again since starting The Football  Educator last summer, you have to be able to throw the football efficiently and successfully If you’re going to WIN in the NFL.  Not run the ball first, not stop the run with your smothering defense, and not even avoiding turnovers (though that does help).

But if you can’t move the ball through the air down field with some consistency, and in rather big chunks, your chances of winning are not going to be very good.  Heckert and Smith should have learned this last year (Cleveland #30 & Jacksonville #32 in Off Pass Eff).  Ruston Webster appears to be learning the hard way, one loss at a time.