Five bottom-feeders can draw inspiration from Saints

The New Orleans Saints have given hope and been a source of inspiration to so many in the Big Easy. They rose up when their city needed it most to become Super Bowl champions. They also should serve as a reminder that any NFL franchise is capable of turning itself around, no matter how bleak the situation may seem.
 
Steven Jackson is a starting point, but the Rams are far from being showstoppers.
Steven Jackson is a starting point, but the Rams are far from being showstoppers.

When the Saints were 3-13 nomads in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, no one could have expected the kind of success they’ve enjoyed since (two NFC championship game appearances, one Super Bowl title).

 
The Saints’ rise after bringing in the right people — coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees — should inspire the league’s bottom-dwellers.
 
Here are the NFL’s lowest five, according to Sporting News magazine’s first 2010 power poll, and what the near-future looks like for them:
 

32. St. Louis Rams

It has been 10 years since St. Louis had the "Greatest Show" in the NFL. After what happened in 1999 — the Rams won a championship after going 4-12 in ’98 — the Rams know surprise upswings are possible. But a decade later, the team is mired again among the league’s worst.
 
One of their superstars in ’99 was running back Marshall Faulk, now an analyst for the NFL Network. Although Faulk is hopeful his former team can find its way again, he knows there is quite a mess to clean up.
 
"I’m not sure they know their plan and have an idea of what direction they want to go in yet," Faulk said. "It’s just been one year for (general manager) Billy Devaney, and one year for (coach) Steve Spagnoulo."
 
Success for Kevin Smith's Lions is more difficult while playing in the NFC North.
Success for Kevin Smith’s Lions is more difficult while playing in the NFC North.

The problems are similar to the team’s issues in the early ’90s — a lack of consistency at quarterback and a series of bad drafts that has especially hurt the defense. The team will need to hit on a young franchise QB to get above .500 in the next three years.

 

31. Buffalo Bills

Since the Music City Miracle befell them, they haven’t sniffed the playoffs. From 2000-09, they had to watch division rival New England win three Super Bowls and, more recently, the Jets and the Dolphins make dramatic improvements.
 
At quarterback, J.P. Losman hasn’t lived up to his potential and Trent Edwards might not, either. The offensive line must be rebuilt, and injuries and inconsistency have hurt at running back. Bringing in Terrell Owens to spark the passing game didn’t work, either. Now it’s new coach Chan Gailey’s turn.
 
Considering how well-coached and well-stocked the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins are, the Bills won’t be able to compete with them in the near future.
 

30. Seattle Seahawks

Former Seahawks league MVP Shaun Alexander told Sporting News at the Super Bowl that he wasn’t surprised at how far his former team had fallen since appearing in the Super Bowl four years ago. The Seahawks were able to win a division title just two seasons ago but have gotten caught between contending and rebuilding.
 
The team wasn’t able to find a replacement for Alexander, cornerstone left tackle Walter Jones missed the past 20 games and appears done, and the receiving unit must be overhauled. The Seahawks still haven’t drafted a potential successor to Matt Hasselbeck.
 
Kirk Morrison's Raiders have traded pride and pose for misery and frustration.
Kirk Morrison’s Raiders have traded pride and pose for misery and frustration.

The front office hired Jim Mora to maintain continuity from the Mike Holmgren era, and then abruptly fired Mora after one season. He didn’t even get a chance to put his stamp on the team before being replaced by the glossier option, Pete Carroll.

 
Carroll was used to reloading talent at Southern Cal, but he must be a lot more patient to get the Seahawks up to snuff.
 

29. Detroit Lions

Unlike St. Louis, Buffalo and Seattle, Detroit has no Super Bowl history of which to speak. The Lions are the only NFC team that has failed to win a conference championship during the Super Bowl era. If the Lions are to win anytime soon, quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Kevin Smith and wideout Calvin Johnson must stay healthy.
 
Like Buffalo, however, Detroit is stuck in a competitive division, where the Vikings, Packers and Bears continue to make splashy moves.
Minnesota and Green Bay have top defenses, and all three are intent on having a strong passing offense. All that makes the Lions’ task that much harder.
 

28. Oakland Raiders

Their Super Bowl hangover is seven years running, and the Raiders haven’t been able to exceed five wins during that span. In 2009, they had quality wins against the Eagles, Bengals and Steelers, and one wonders why they can’t do more of that.
 
"It is frustrating for sure," middle linebacker Kirk Morrison said. "It’s one thing to get big wins like that, but then you have to go out there and back it up with another win the next week. We can be much better if we’re just more consistent."
 
The defense has fine talent, including Morrison, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, outside linebacker Thomas Howard and former Patriots end Richard Seymour. If they can just stay healthy and consistent on offense — perhaps with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and running back Darren McFadden in the most important roles — the Raiders may not be as far away as many think.
 
Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

 

The New Orleans Saints have given hope and been a source of inspiration to so many in the Big Easy. They rose up when their city needed it most to become Super Bowl champions. They also should serve as a reminder that any NFL franchise is capable of turning itself around, no matter how bleak the situation may seem.
 
Steven Jackson is a starting point, but the Rams are far from being showstoppers.
Steven Jackson is a starting point, but the Rams are far from being showstoppers.

When the Saints were 3-13 nomads in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, no one could have expected the kind of success they’ve enjoyed since (two NFC championship game appearances, one Super Bowl title).

 
The Saints’ rise after bringing in the right people — coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees — should inspire the league’s bottom-dwellers.
 
Here are the NFL’s lowest five, according to Sporting News magazine’s first 2010 power poll, and what the near-future looks like for them:
 

32. St. Louis Rams

It has been 10 years since St. Louis had the "Greatest Show" in the NFL. After what happened in 1999 — the Rams won a championship after going 4-12 in ’98 — the Rams know surprise upswings are possible. But a decade later, the team is mired again among the league’s worst.
 
One of their superstars in ’99 was running back Marshall Faulk, now an analyst for the NFL Network. Although Faulk is hopeful his former team can find its way again, he knows there is quite a mess to clean up.
 
"I’m not sure they know their plan and have an idea of what direction they want to go in yet," Faulk said. "It’s just been one year for (general manager) Billy Devaney, and one year for (coach) Steve Spagnoulo."
 
Success for Kevin Smith's Lions is more difficult while playing in the NFC North.
Success for Kevin Smith’s Lions is more difficult while playing in the NFC North.

The problems are similar to the team’s issues in the early ’90s — a lack of consistency at quarterback and a series of bad drafts that has especially hurt the defense. The team will need to hit on a young franchise QB to get above .500 in the next three years.

 

31. Buffalo Bills

Since the Music City Miracle befell them, they haven’t sniffed the playoffs. From 2000-09, they had to watch division rival New England win three Super Bowls and, more recently, the Jets and the Dolphins make dramatic improvements.
 
At quarterback, J.P. Losman hasn’t lived up to his potential and Trent Edwards might not, either. The offensive line must be rebuilt, and injuries and inconsistency have hurt at running back. Bringing in Terrell Owens to spark the passing game didn’t work, either. Now it’s new coach Chan Gailey’s turn.
 
Considering how well-coached and well-stocked the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins are, the Bills won’t be able to compete with them in the near future.
 

30. Seattle Seahawks

Former Seahawks league MVP Shaun Alexander told Sporting News at the Super Bowl that he wasn’t surprised at how far his former team had fallen since appearing in the Super Bowl four years ago. The Seahawks were able to win a division title just two seasons ago but have gotten caught between contending and rebuilding.
 
The team wasn’t able to find a replacement for Alexander, cornerstone left tackle Walter Jones missed the past 20 games and appears done, and the receiving unit must be overhauled. The Seahawks still haven’t drafted a potential successor to Matt Hasselbeck.
 
Kirk Morrison's Raiders have traded pride and pose for misery and frustration.
Kirk Morrison’s Raiders have traded pride and pose for misery and frustration.

The front office hired Jim Mora to maintain continuity from the Mike Holmgren era, and then abruptly fired Mora after one season. He didn’t even get a chance to put his stamp on the team before being replaced by the glossier option, Pete Carroll.

 
Carroll was used to reloading talent at Southern Cal, but he must be a lot more patient to get the Seahawks up to snuff.
 

29. Detroit Lions

Unlike St. Louis, Buffalo and Seattle, Detroit has no Super Bowl history of which to speak. The Lions are the only NFC team that has failed to win a conference championship during the Super Bowl era. If the Lions are to win anytime soon, quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Kevin Smith and wideout Calvin Johnson must stay healthy.
 
Like Buffalo, however, Detroit is stuck in a competitive division, where the Vikings, Packers and Bears continue to make splashy moves.
Minnesota and Green Bay have top defenses, and all three are intent on having a strong passing offense. All that makes the Lions’ task that much harder.
 

28. Oakland Raiders

Their Super Bowl hangover is seven years running, and the Raiders haven’t been able to exceed five wins during that span. In 2009, they had quality wins against the Eagles, Bengals and Steelers, and one wonders why they can’t do more of that.
 
"It is frustrating for sure," middle linebacker Kirk Morrison said. "It’s one thing to get big wins like that, but then you have to go out there and back it up with another win the next week. We can be much better if we’re just more consistent."
 
The defense has fine talent, including Morrison, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, outside linebacker Thomas Howard and former Patriots end Richard Seymour. If they can just stay healthy and consistent on offense — perhaps with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and running back Darren McFadden in the most important roles — the Raiders may not be as far away as many think.
 
Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*