Every game is crucial during the NFL season. Falling behind 0-2 can be a preview of things to come, or just be the product of tough breaks. Either way, it’s a hole most teams struggle to climb out of. There’s reason for hope with some, while others are in for a difficult remainder of 2016.
Is it time to panic for these 0-2 teams?
Miami Dolphins – No
Topping the Patriots for the AFC East crown at 0-2 seems like a pipe dream, but the Dolphins still have Wild Card potential. Ryan Tannehill looked very comfortable for a good stretch last week vs. New England, but they’ll need him to build off his performance and limit his turnovers. Playing road games in Seattle and then New England is a brutal way to start a season, so don’t lose hope Miami fans. If Arian Foster is able to stay healthy, and young receivers Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker continue their development, the Dolphins should get back on track.
Buffalo Bills – Yes
Maybe hiring your brother to run the defense wasn’t such a great idea, Rex. The Bills defense was torn apart last week by middle-tier quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets. Not a good sign of things to come. They dropped 2 winnable games to start the season, and now face Arizona and New England back-to-back weeks. Oh, and they just fired their offensive coordinator. They’ll be getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers more under new offensive direction, but the forecast still does not look good. I see this team starting 0-4 and out of the playoff picture early.
Cleveland Browns – Yes
Three games, three different quarterbacks. That’ll be the case this week when Cody Kessler suits up after Robert Griffin and Josh McCown were both injured. Playing in the talented AFC North, a winless start really hurts the Browns chances of making any sort of noise this season. Isaiah Crowell has looked good, and their young receivers have shown glimpses of hope, but this team is still very much behind the competition on both sides of the ball.
Indianapolis Colts – Yes
This defense is in shambles. They don’t seem capable of stopping anybody. On the other side of the ball, their running game is a non-threat. This leaves Andrew Luck to shoulder the load. Luck is one of the premiere talents at the position, but he can’t do it alone. The young QB continues to take punishing hits from the opposition behind a weak offensive line, so we’ll see if he can hold up for the entire season. It’s worrisome for a team that already lacks game-changing weapons.
Jacksonville Jaguars – No
Last week had to be cause for concern amongst Jags fans. They went to San Diego for what should have a been a winnable game, and got trounced all afternoon. However, this team entered with high expectations after showing promise in 2015. I’m not writing them off based on one game. Their week one matchup with Green Bay was competitive and showed they have the talent to compete any given Sunday. These are the Jags next 5 opponents: Ravens, Colts, Bears, Raiders, Titans. With a favorable schedule coming up, I think Blake Bortles & company will be able to turn things around.
Washington Redskins – No
Kirk Cousins has struggled so far this season, but the young quarterback has shown an ability to bounce back from these types of performances. Dropping a divisional clash at home last week to Dallas was tough, but not reason to panic. There’s a lot of work to be done, and the NFC East is difficult to emerge from, but hope is not lost. They have a chance this week to get right back into the mix if they can knock off the division-leading Giants.
Chicago Bears – Yes
Hey, at least the Cubs look like a contender. It’s a good thing Chicago fans will be able to turn their heads to baseball this October, because the outlook for the Bears is bleak. Jay Cutler has not progressed at all in his past few seasons in Chicago, Matt Forte’s replacement(s) are struggling to fill his shoes, and John Fox’s defense has not been up to par. The Bears are alone in the cellar of the NFC North and there’s a clear talent disparity between them and the rest of the pack. It looks like they’ll be drafting very early in 2017.
New Orleans Saints – No
A brutal start for New Orleans. They’ve carried the lead into the 4th quarter both games this season and let it unfold. They find themselves in a very strong division this season, but I think they have the talent to get back in contention for a playoff bid. Drew Brees’ road struggles concern me, but this offense is loaded with talent. Receivers Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, and Michael Thomas all look like excellent contributors so far. I expect them to rely on Mark Ingram and the running game more this week against Atlanta. A more balanced attack will be crucial to their success moving forward, so keep an eye on Monday night’s game.