NFL

Which Teams Can Recover From 0-2 Start?

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The NFL regular season is a marathon and not a sprint, however recent history has proven to be unkind to teams that start off 0-2. Under the current playoff format, teams who get off to an 0-2 start only make the postseason 12 percent of the time.

After Week 2, eight teams are hoping to be apart of that 12 percent come this January. Nonetheless, only half of these teams are realistically capable of recovering from their slow start.

Seattle Seahawks – As soon as we realized Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor’s holdout would linger into the regular season, it was evident Seattle’s defense would take a step back. At the same time, did we expect for them to start off 0-2?

Probably not because most people picked them to beat St. Louis Week 1 and while losing to the Packers was expected, it still says a lot that the majority gave Seattle little to no chance in Lambeau.

Luckily for Seattle, their schedule begins to lighten up. The next six opponents are Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Carolina, San Francisco and an injury plagued Dallas.

While their schedule loosens up, this is not to say all of their problems will just disappear.

Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham still need to figure out how to play with each other. Through two games, Graham has only caught seven passes to go along with one touchdown. Against Green Bay, Graham only caught one pass for 11 yards.

Despite all of the bad right now, this team knows what it takes to win under pressure, which is why it’s way too early to right them off. Getting Chancellor back wouldn’t hurt either.

New York Giants – If New York had a better sense of clock management and received a few more bounces in their favor, they could very well be sitting pretty at 2-0. Unfortunately, the Giants find themselves sitting in an 0-2 hole.

The margin of defeat through two games for New York is a mere five points.

With the NFC East in complete flux, no one in the division can be written off this early. However, the Giants need Eli Manning to start playing at a higher level if they have hopes of making the playoffs.

Head coach Tom Coughlin doesn’t seem too concerned.

“He’ll get better. He’ll improve,” Coughlin said. “There are times when it’s tremendous, and other times when it’s not. I’m frustrated like you are in terms of, at that point in time, all the engines have to be going full-speed and not the other way around.”

New York needs to be able to get into the win column this week, as they play host to the Washington Redskins this Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles – You’ll be hard pressed to find a team in the history of the league that experienced more turnover than Philadelphia this past off-season. Having said that, no one is going to feel sorry for head coach Chip Kelly and company, as they shouldn’t.

Just like most coaches, Kelly has a strong ego, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you view it.

During preseason play, Philly’s offense looked like a juggernaut, but that offensive prowess hasn’t carried over thus far. They led the league in points per game (33.2) and yards per game (404.2) in preseason action.

The lack of production now stems from poor offensive line play.

When Philly obtained DeMarco Murray, expectations for the run game skyrocketed. So far things haven’t gone as planned, as Murray has only rushed for 11 yards on 21 carries.

Kelly realizes the line must improve quickly.

“Yeah, very disappointing.  Couldn’t get anything started,” Kelly stressed. “I don’t think the running backs even really had time to assess if there was a hole.  Too much penetration up front. Too many guys in the backfield.”

Their next three opponents are the Jets, Redskins and Saints.

Detroit Lions – Losing in San Diego Week 1 wasn’t a major cause for concern in the Motor City, even if they did blow a 18-point lead in the process. However, falling to the Minnesota Vikings is an eyebrow raiser if you’re a Lions fan.

“They are all tough,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “There are no easy games in this league. I am concerned about the next game but we cannot do anything about the ones before. We did not play well, but our focus has to be on the next one.”

It was expected for Detroit’s defense to take a step back after losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, which means in order for them to fully reach their potential, Matthew Stafford has to perform at a more consistent rate.

With Calvin Johnson being healthy and Golden Tate at his disposal, Stafford should be able to see more consistent success down the line. With that being said, Detroit’s offensive line must protect him a lot better moving forward.

Indianapolis Colts – Out of all these teams, the Indianapolis Colts are the most likely candidate to recover from their 0-2 start. This is an unit that was one game away from reaching the Super Bowl, but fell short after getting demolished by the eventual champion New England Patriots.

Heading into the season, Indy had expectations of taking the next step forward.

While this isn’t the start they’ve hoped for, it’s not the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination. First of all, from a pure talent standpoint, the Colts have one of the top offensive skill position groups in the league.

Despite all of the talent at the skill positions offensively, none of that matters if Indy’s offensive line doesn’t give Andrew Luck the proper time needed in the pocket. However, Luck still needs to take care of the ball a lot better.

“[Luck’s] got to take care of the football,” Pagano said. “Make great decisions. It’s not that hard. It’s not trigonometry.”\

After two games, Luck has thrown five interceptions and if the Colts want to see drastic improvement, the perennial Pro Bowler must be more efficient.

At the end of the day, the Colts should be fine because they’re in the AFC South and no other team in the division possess a real threat to Indy over the course of a 16-game season.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.