20 NFL teams failed to make the playoffs in 2019, but for some teams, preseason expectations were either not met or fell far short of what they expected. Of the 20 teams that did not qualify for the postseason, six of them stand out as major disappointments and some surprises regarding their results. Those six are summarized below.
For Cleveland head coach Freddie Kitchens, in 2019 he became “one and done.” One season as head coach and after his team finished 6-10, he was fired. Unbelievably, the Browns now have to find a replacement, which will be the 13th hiring of a head coach in 19 years. That’s insane when you consider that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had only THREE head coaches in 50 years. But the search continues after a season of utter disappointment in Cleveland.
In this year’s preseason, the NFL hype went through Cleveland, Ohio, and many drank the kool-aid believing the Browns would be the surprise team this season and some even won the North Division title. AFC. Instead, it was a third-place finish, two games behind the Steelers.
A lot was expected of second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield, especially since he now had Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to work with. But Mayfield was inconsistent and with 22 touchdown passes, he also threw 21 interceptions. Cleveland managed to beat the Steelers, but became the same old Browns despite improving their record midway through the season from 2-6 to 5-6 after taking three straight wins after four straight losses.
Losing their last three games, the limping Browns in the offseason are still looking for answers. This team is a mess. From the sidelines to the front office, they can’t seem to get a clue of how they can become a winner again. Cleveland hasn’t experienced a winning season since 2007 when they finished 10-6, but they still missed the postseason. There hasn’t been a playoff game for the Browns since 2002. In 2019 the score was 6-10, one win less than the seven they won in 2018.
In 2017 it was an embarrassing 0-16 finish that came after the 2015 final record of 1-15. 3-13 was the year before that and since that season 2007 were years of winning only seven, four, five, four, five, four, five, five and four victories. The city of Cleveland is desperate for a winner and credit to the fan base for continually going out to see their eternal losers.
Two seasons away from the AFC championship are the Jaguars who were unable to replicate their 2017 success a season later. In 2019, they brought Super Bowl champion quarterback Nick Foles to Florida in hopes that his success rate would be repeated in Jacksonville. Not so. A very early injury to Foles put Gardner Minshew in the starting role behind center and after quick success, the “Minshew mania” subsided as did the rookie quarterback’s performances. Noles came back from injury only to play so poorly that he was benched and Minshew came back.
The boy with the popular mustache didn’t fare too badly considering it was his first year in the league, but with just six wins in 2019, the Jaguars’ season was deemed a flop. Many thought Doug Marrone would lose his job, but he and General Manager Dave Caldwell kept their jobs and will try to make the necessary improvements to the team so they win again next season.
Like the Cleveland Browns, Detroit is the only other team to lose every game on a 16-game schedule. The Lions suffered their embarrassment in 2008 and gradually returned to the fray despite only two victories the following season. But as of 2010, it looked like the Lions were solidly rebuilding to reach the playoffs in 2011 with a 10-6 record, but then they won just four games a year later. Since 2012, Detroit has made the postseason two more times, but both games were wild-card losses in the first round.
Unlike the Browns, the Detroit Lions have had a taste of playoff action three times since that dismal 2008 campaign, while Cleveland has not been in a playoff game since 2002. The Lions had two straight 9-7 seasons in 2016 and 2017 losing a wild card game at ‘sixteen. But last season they fell to 6-10 and last season they were three worst ending 3-12-1. Could Matthew Stafford’s days in Detroit be counted as the Lions try to rebuild themselves? He has been the quarterback since 2009 with Detroit and this season, despite strong numbers, he and his teammates were seen as having a disappointing season.
The Cincinnati Bengals would have made this list even before the season started. They were expected to suffer a losing season, but after dropping their first 11 games on the schedule, talks began about how they could join Detroit and Cleveland as the only teams to lose all 16 games. Then came the New York Jets at home and the Bengals suffered the greatest embarrassment of losing every game by outscoring the Jets 22-6.
After Andy Dalton was benched by Ryan Finley, Dalton got his job back for the Jets game and led them to victory. However, the taste of a victory did not last long and the Bengals would lose the next three games until they won only their second game on the final day of the season by beating Cleveland 33-23. Now Cincinnati owns the top overall pick in this year’s draft. This won’t be the first time the “Bungals,” as many have called them, own the league’s top pick in the draft. In 2003 they had the first selection and they took Carson Palmer. 1995 brought Ki-Jana Carter and the year before Dan Wilkinson. Now, in 2019, they have their fourth chance to pick a player they hope will become a star and help the team out of this problem. Cincinnati hasn’t had a winning season since 2015 when they finished 12-4 in five consecutive seasons of playoff appearances, though all five were first-round starts.
From Super Bowl LIII to third place in the NFC West, the LA Rams were expected to defend their division title after winning it two consecutive seasons in 2017-18. But all the Rams could handle last season was having a good 9-7 winning record for third place in the NFC West. The surprising 49ers took the title from Los Angeles and the Seattle Seahawks also did twice better than the Rams in the postseason finishing 11-5.
As a quarterback, Jared Goff may have been the Rams’ biggest disappointment, as his quarterback rating, in the end, was just 86.5 and he threw 16 interceptions on the season. But star running back Todd Gurley didn’t live up to expectations, nor was he rushing for just 857 yards in 15 games and posting a 3.8 per carry average. With the success of the 49ers and their strong defense, as well as the rejuvenated Seahawks, the road ahead of the Rams will be difficult.
The last team he mentioned that didn’t reach its potential in 2019 was my Pittsburgh Steelers. After a disappointing campaign in 2018 that saw them fall within a game of reaching the playoffs, the defense took leaps and bounds to improve in the offseason and before the season began, the Steelers Nation witnessed cancers being eliminated. costumers, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The “Killer B’s” were no more and all that was left of that trio was Ben Roethlisberger.
For Big Ben, he lost two main weapons, but the hope was that JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner would fill the void left by Bell and Brown. But in the second game of the season, Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury and Mason Rudolph was the man on the spot. Rudolph collapsed and would be benched by rookie Devlin “Duck” Hodges, who initially played extremely well and inspired fans to wear duck outfits and jump on his bandwagon.
However, Hodges’ success was short-lived and when it came to playing the New York Jets, Hodges was benched in the first half and Rudolph came back. The story of Pittsburgh’s season came when Rudolph injured his shoulder and ended the year. . Hodges came back as badly as in the first half.
As in 2018, the Steelers had one game left and it was against the AFC’s # 1 seed, the Baltimore Ravens in their turf. Baltimore had announced that several key starters would not play, but for the Steelers, they needed a Tennessee Titans win and loss to the Texans in Houston to make the playoffs. Last season it was the Ravens who needed to lose to the Browns for Pittsburgh to qualify, now it was the same Baltimore team that Pittsburgh needed to beat, but with the help of the Texans.
Not only did Houston make headlines and lose, but the Steelers folded and were embarrassed that the Ravens’ backups lost 28-10 and ended in an 8-8 draw. The 2019 story for the Pittsburgh Steelers was injuries. Roethlisberger was out for most of the season. Also Stephen Tuitt. James Conner battled injuries all year and hardly played. JuJu Smith-Schuster missed significant time with a concussion and knee injury. Vance McDonald couldn’t stay healthy. All of this and the Pittsburgh defense was outstanding.
Donte Moncrief signed in the offseason and it was terrible to finally get cut. Minkah Fitzpatrick came to the Steelers from the Miami Dolphins in a trade that saw the Steelers sacrifice their 2019 first-round draft pick and began his Black and Gold career by intercepting passes and picking up fumbles. While his momentum slowed toward the end of the season, the trade for Fitzpatrick set the tone for the Steelers’ secondary for next year.
Mike Tomlin did an excellent job as a coach, perhaps the best he could in 2019, as no one thought that Pittsburgh would win eight games with all injuries. But expectations for the season still fell too short and the Steelers were easily the best of this group on the list and would likely be considered by most to have achieved the most disappointing results of the 2019 season.