5 Biggest Mistakes Of The NFL Season


It’s easy to give out “off-season championships” before any of the new acquisitions have played a single game for their teams.  Now that the regular season is at the three-quarter point, we’re going to point out some of the biggest mistakes by NFL teams this offseason.

Mistake No. 1- Browns Pass On A Quarterback

At one point in the offseason, the Cleveland Browns held the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  As we know, they traded back with the Philadelphia Eagles for a myriad of draft picks.

Draft picks can be like lottery tickets, and when you trade back, you acquire more tickets.  That certainly makes sense for a team that’s rebuilding as the Browns are.

Unfortunately, Cleveland has had a horrible record in player evaluation and more picks usually mean more mistakes.  The Browns passed on Carson Wentz and every other quarterback that wasn’t named Cody Kessler.  Kessler is a nice prospect, but he lacks arm strength and his upside is that of a pretty good backup.

It was difficult for any team to evaluate with certainty if Wentz was going to be a solid prospect, but the Eagles took that chance and it appears that they now have a franchise quarterback.

Meanwhile, the Browns are 0-12 and it’s difficult to expect them to be much better next year, especially with no legitimate future signal caller.  Signing Robert Griffin, III was a nice band-aid, but he can’t be counted upon to stay healthy and that, along with the passing on Wentz or Paxton Lynch (or Dak Prescott) has put Cleveland into this winless mess.

Mistake No. 2- Jaguars Keep Gus Bradley

After last season’s 5-11 campaign, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan had the decision to make about his front office.  He opted to stay with head coach Gus Bradley after a 12-36 record through his first three years.

Giving Bradley the fourth year not only instilled a lack of accountability through the team and the fanbase but it for all practical purposes wasted a year of roster development.  The Jaguars currently sit with a 2-9 team and they find ways to lose games every week, despite having enough talent on paper where they should be competitive.

Keeping Bradley cost the team from going after some of the potentially very good head coaches that were available last year.  Namely, Adam Gase and Hue Jackson, among others.

Jacksonville had a good draft and spent a lot of money in free agency, only to be one of the worst teams in the NFL again.  Loyalty is a great thing, but keeping Bradley was bordering on insanity.

Mistake No. 3- Texans Sign Brock Osweiler

It seems pretty obvious now that the Houston Texans signing Brock Osweiler to a $72 million deal was a huge mistake.  Osweiler had a thin body of work in his time with the Broncos and was obviously a product of a great supporting cast that won a Super Bowl.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith needed a quick fix to their quarterback problem and they believed Osweiler would be it.  They passed on quarterback after quarterback over the past two drafts, only to take a guy who was a mediocre backup and pay him like an elite starter.

Houston is a worse team this year with more offensive talent, as they’re the lowest scoring team in the AFC and third-lowest in the entire NFL.  A lot of that falls on Osweiler, who the team doesn’t trust to throw the ball downfield.

Houston can part ways with Osweiler at season’s end and face a $25 million cap hit.  It’s unlikely that they will do that, but the really good teams in the NFL will admit to their mistakes and move on.

Mistake No. 4- Bears Pass On All QB’s In The Draft

The Chicago Bears finished 6-10 in 2015, good for last place in the NFC North.  They haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, and it’s pretty easy to see that they are, or at least should be rebuilding.

Most rebuilds begin at the quarterback position, and the Bears failed to address their obvious young quarterback needs entering the season.

With a $19 million cap charge for releasing starting quarterback Jay Cutler, it’s not a surprise that he entered 2016 as the Bears signal caller.  Still, everyone knew that this year would likely be his last in Chicago.

The team had nine selections in the 2016 NFL Draft and failed to select a quarterback in any round.  They had six more in the 2015 NFL Draft and also failed.  The last quarterback they selected was in 2014 when they took David Fales in the sixth round.

In hindsight, it’s easy to say that the Bears should have selected Dak Prescott.  There are probably 20 other teams that can say the same thing.  But Chicago should have used the foresight to select someone at the position, instead of rolling with Smokin’ Jay, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

Mistake No. 5- Panthers Let Josh Norman Walk

The Carolina Panthers have followed up their 15-1 regular season and subsequent NFC title with a disaster season, as they currently sit at 4-7 and own last place in the NFC South all to themselves.

Carolina’s pass defense currently ranks 29th in the NFL and they have been the main reason for the team’s precipitous fall.

When the pass defense is bad, most teams try to get better on the defensive line and in the secondary.  The Panthers are currently third in the NFL in sacks, so it’s clearly not the pass rush.  Perhaps an All-Pro cornerback would help?

Perhaps an All-Pro cornerback would help?

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman had placed the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman and then he waited a few months before rescinding the tag.  Carolina didn’t do anything with the money that they saved and now they have perhaps the worst secondary in the NFL to show for it.

Norman isn’t on the level of a Patrick Peterson or Darrelle Revis in his prime, but he’s a very good player who helped the Panthers get to a Super Bowl last year.  Why let him go before you have to?

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.