Welcome back to our 2014 season preview of NFL teams that you love, hate to love, and love to hate. Asinine Analysis is here to give some fans hope and other fans a face mask penalty back into reality.
Our next targets have quite a post-season resume from the past decade: a few Super Bowls sprinkled in to a pile of playoff wins. But football isn’t about resting on the past. It’s about what they’re doing now, and some teams are only passable right now.
These are the teams of the NFC South.
Record: 4-12. This was supposed to be a Super Bowl year! Instead, everyone got hurt to the point that Harry Douglas was the top receiver and Jacquizz Rodgers was the running back. In case you were wondering, Harry Douglas is one of those receivers that catches the ball, then falls down. I picked him up in a fantasy football league to replace my #2 receiver Julio Jones, and promptly left him on the bench for the rest of the year.
The Good: Besides Tony Gonzalez, who decided to retire rather than give the Falcons another chance to blow it in the playoffs, the Falcons’ receiving corp seems ready to get back to catching the ball and not getting hurt in the process. With rookie OT Jake Matthews on the line, Matty Ice may even have a chance to throw it to them.
The Bad: The Falcons got rid of Michael Turner last season because he was getting old at 31 and about to hit the wall that running backs with over 1,500 touches face.
Who did they replace him with? Steven Jackson: a year younger, but almost 1,000 touches older. And Jackson’s hammy is already acting up in the preseason. Thumbs up, Dimitroff!
The Ugly: The Falcons defense doesn’t need Drew Brees to make them look awful. They can do that on their own. Last year they gave up 27 points to the Dolphins, 41 points to the Bucs, and made Geno Smith of the Jets look like Michael Vick. And the gang’s all still here! Well, with a few additions like Dwight Lowery and Javier Arenas to make it look like the Falcons are trying.
Record: 12-4. I know, I can’t believe the Carolina Panthers were that good, too. But they say that defense wins championships, so I guess sometimes it can also mean running over teams in the regular season in order to lose in the playoffs. The Panthers did it in style — Riverboat Ron style — but maybe losing to the 49ers was for the best. Steve Smith and Richard Sherman would have had a fistfight in the end-zone in the NFC Championship. I’m certain of it.
The Good: The Carolina Panthers defense is still an absolute machine, oiled by the blood of quarterbacks, with 60 sacks last season.
With Greg Hardy’s assault case in appeals, it looks like this defense is going to stay together, which is a good thing considering the offense consists of Cam Newton throwing to himself to complete a pass. He took rushing duties from his running backs long ago.
The Bad: Think I’m exaggerating about the Panthers offense? Their arguable #1 running back, DeAngelo Williams, rushed 201 times for 843 yards. Cam Newton ran 111 times for 585 yards and three more touchdowns than Williams.
Now Steve Smith, their 2nd top receiver, is gone. But I guess that isn’t too bad since their #1 receiver is actually their tight end, Greg Olsen. Expect more of the same this year until Kelvin Benjamin warms up.
The Ugly: The people of Charlotte clearly do not care that they have a football team. If they did, they wouldn’t hold racing events at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord when the Panthers have home games. They’re 18 miles apart, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could hear the race during a game at Bank of American Stadium.
New Orleans Saints
Record: 11-5. Who dat talkin’ ’bout winnin’ a playoff game on de road? Who dat? Mon Dieu, ah gone become a Saints fan.
The Good: Drew Brees may not be able to see much over the O-line, D-line, linebackers, and line officials, but it doesn’t matter. He only needs to be able to see his 6′ 7″ basketball star-turned tight end Jimmy Graham because that’s the only player he seems to throw to. This is one of the many reasons why Jimmy Graham was probably pushing to have his franchise tag apply to the salary of receivers.
The Bad: The NFL now has “The Jimmy Graham Rule,” which penalizes a team 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for dunking a football over the goal posts. This means that the already handicapped defense and special teams will be giving up 15 yards on the following kickoff. This will potentially lead to more scoring by opponents, which will lead to a need for more scoring by the Saints, which will lead to more touchdown passes to Jimmy Graham, which will lead to more dunks over the goal post, which will lead to more penalties, and the cycle will go on and on.
The Ugly: The Saints still have Insan-O Claus as defensive coordinator!
Okay, usually I use “ugly to describe horrible things about a team, but Rob Ryan’s antics are ugly in the greatest ways possible. He always looks like he just got out of prison, he doesn’t care what anybody thinks about him, and he overshadows every cheerleader.
Rob Ryan’s a man’s man! He shops like regular people!
ó Matt King (@atleehammaker) July 18, 2014
Pizza and stuffed animals in an airport? You NEED to be at that party if Rob Ryan’s involved.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Record: 4-12. Be honest. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost eight games in a row, didn’t you think they were ripe for the Clowneystakes? That’s right. I don’t shorten the Buccaneers name to “Bucs.” When a team is this terrible, every syllable of terribleness must be heard.
The Good: The pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium is hands down the greatest stadium perk in the universe. It’s like a giant party boat that you don’t have to worry about getting sea-sick on. Sure, once every few games or so, the cannons may go off to celebrate a field goal by the Buccaneers, but nothing’s perfect. What will be perfect is if the Tampa Bay cheerleaders take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at every home game.
As far as actual football, the defense is still solid, even after letting last year’s rental, Darrelle Revis, go to New England.
The Bad: The Buccaneers were the first team I ever heard of that released their starting quarterback during the season. Josh Freeman was pretty awful both on the field and in the locker room, and couldn’t even keep a backup job with the Minnesota Vikings.
Then there was the brilliant idea to bring in Greg Schiano, the head coach of Rutgers’ football team because they were finally mentioned by sportswriters a few years ago. Besides his sideline dance moves, Schiano didn’t bring much to the table. But now the Buccaneers have a head coach that knows how to make a defense hum: Lovie Smith! and he brought that quarterback that he couldn’t develop, Josh McCown!
The only hope the Buccaneers have is if Matt Forte puts on a Doug Martin costume and plays in Tampa Bay.
The Ugly: No team has had a history for ugly uniforms like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This year, the Buccaneers finally got sick of the taunting when their cream-cicle puke jerseys came out during their throwback games. Now their throwback jersey is made up of strong colors like red, pewter, and black.
Their normal uniform, on the other hand, looks like they came out of the short-lived XFL. It takes more than making your numbers look like a digital alarm clock to have an updated uniform, guys.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.