The 2014 NFL has come to an end, and the New England Patriots have won yet another Super Bowl. Over the past decade it has been much of the same in the NFL: the same teams keep winning and the same teams keep losing.
In the NBA there has been a lot of turnover the past few seasons. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are among the league’s worst teams despite championships within the past 8 seasons; and the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Cleveland Cavaliers are now among the league’s top teams.
For whatever though, teams in the NFL seem to have a much more difficult time. The Oakland Raiders have not had a winning season since losing Super Bowl XXXVII to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of the 2002 NFL season. The Jacksonville Jaguars have almost always been a franchise of mediocrity with only a few decent seasons sprinkled in there.
It is not impossible to turn a franchise around. The New Orleans Saints made some great offseason moves heading into the 2006 season, such as bringing in head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees; and they made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game that season and would go on to win Super Bowl XLIV in 2009. So it’s not impossible. It just requires bringing in some talent.
The problem with teams like the Jaguars and Raiders seems to be their front office more than anything. The NFL Draft is a very simple concept: the worst teams get the best picks, this way they can bring in talent to improve their team and win in the future. The Raiders and Jaguars have picked in the top 5 almost every one of the past ten seasons, but they still cannot seem to do anything with the players they select. Here’s why:
Here’s a few examples of players the Jacksonville Jaguars have selected in the first round (either with their own selection or players they traded up to draft) and when they selected them. There’s a reason you don’t recognize most of these names—they have done nothing with their professional careers except for being high draft picks:
Derrick Harvey (8th overall), R. Jay Soward (29th overall), Matt Jones (21st overall), Reggie Williams (9th overall), Blaine Gabbert (10th overall).
The Jaguars have also passed up a lot of talent in the draft. Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Meriweather, Jon Beason, Ben Grubbs, and Greg Olsen were all selected after Reggie Williams in the 2007 NFL Draft. The Jaguars also selected a punter in the 3rd round (which is bad enough), but then Russell Wilson was drafted just a few picks later by the Seattle Seahawks.
The Raiders have more than their fair share of draft busts as well. In fact, the Raiders drafted Jamarcus Russell 1st overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, possible the biggest draft bust of all time. Do you know who was selected 2nd overall that year? Calvin Johnson.
Sure, the Jamarcus Russell pick was a great one at the time; and that one pick alone is not the reason the Raiders are still bad 8 years later. The problem with both teams is not one draft bust or a bad trade, the problem is that these teams consistently make poor selections in the NFL Draft.
The other problem (especially with Oakland) is the constant turnover of the coaching staff. The coaches of these bad franchises often get blamed for losing despite being given little to no talent to work with on the field. The Raiders recently hired Jack Del Rio to be their newest head coach—their 9th new head coach since 2002.
With millions of dollars in cap room, the Raiders and Jaguars should be able to improve their teams over the next few seasons; but until these teams make some serious front office changes and get more of a winning attitude in both the locker room and the franchise headquarters they will continue to be the laughingstocks of the NFL.