This week, most outlets will focus on lessons to be learned from the teams reaching the final four. But what about the four teams that failed to advance this past weekend? What questions face those franchises? I am asking them directly.
Buffalo Bills. Who are you?
Buffalo’s performance against the Cincinnati Bengals should create something of an existential crisis.
They were a significant favorite. They were home, in front of some of the best fans in the sport. They even got weather. And they didn’t show up. But what is most surprising is just how unsurprising that was. The Bills were terrible a week ago against the Miami Dolphins, and just about any quarterback but Skylar Thompson would have beaten them.
Who are they? What is their offense? What is their defense? This team, as the season progressed, became nothing more than “Josh, go make a play” and that’s not a successful organizational template. Nobody needs to be fired. The roster doesn’t require significant alterations. But an identity on both sides of the ball needs to be established if this team hopes to find themselves playing beyond divisional round weekend.
New York Giants. Do you understand how far away your roster actually is?
Brian Daboll has become the toast of the town in New York City. He is also 3-6-1 in his last ten games.
Daniel Jones, according to WFAN and CBS’ Boomer Esiason, is looking at a potential contract totaling $130-140 million. He also pitched to a quarterback rating of 53.8 against the Eagles on Saturday.
The Giants overachieved in 2022 but that overachievement should be understood in proper context. Their roster is not remotely close to competing for championships. Saturday night in Philadelphia should have illustrated that for Joe Schoen. Did it?
Dallas Cowboys. Are you sure on Dak Prescott?
The Cowboys have the defense and run game to compete with the league’s best. But they have a liability at quarterback.
Dak no longer deserves consideration among the better quarterbacks in the league; he is firmly in the Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, Daniel Jones category. Dak can be a winning player, but he does not possess the ability to elevate the talent around him. Dallas needs to add significant playmakers.
Jacksonville Jaguars. Are you ready to take the leap?
Only one team that lost this weekend should be energized today, and that’s Jacksonville.
First, they should have won the game. They made the kinds of mistakes a team makes when they’re not ready for the spotlight.
Second, more importantly, their structure and plan are clearly working. Doug Pederson stabilized this franchise. But next season, for the first time in a long time, there will be expectations surrounding the organization. They will be expected to win the AFC South. They will be expected to win playoff games. Are they ready to embrace those expectations?