Everybody has seen or heard the statistics. NFL teams that have started 0-3 in the Super Bowl era rarely, if ever making the playoffs. Of the those who sit in that spot, which of them has the best chance of igniting a turnaround?
Pittsburgh Steelers – Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell returns may help
Their Sunday night loss to Chicago didn’t start well and ended just as bad but through the middle of the game it looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers had a pulse. Indeed no team can survive turning the ball over five times but for awhile it looked like they might complete a comeback. For this team it is about getting that first win however possible. A big way to do that is get healthy in some badly needed areas. The first was at tight end as Heath Miller made his return for week three from a knee injury last season and played well. Next is rookie running back Le’Veon Bell whom the team drafted to help spark their struggling ground game. This will give Ben Roethlisberger a number of extra options on offense and perhaps allow the Steelers defense to play with a lead more often.
Turnaround chance: 50%
Minnesota Vikings – Defense is the big issue, not Christian Ponder
Losing two divisional road NFL games was bad enough for the Minnesota Vikings but suffering through all that and then coughing up a game against winless Cleveland and a backup quarterback is the pinnacle of choke job. This team went to the playoffs last year but some people wondered if that was just a fluke brought on by a ridiculous season by Adrian Peterson. So far those doubts are being confirmed. However, the reason for the struggles aren’t quarterback Christian Ponder as many wish to think. While he hasn’t played great he’s done enough to win. The real problem is the Vikings defense. They currently rank 28th against the pass and 21st against the run while allowing 32 points per game. Numbers like that don’t lead to many wins, especially with an offense built around the run. Until it changes Minnesota has to hope Ponder can find a way to use his weapons on offense to score points.
Turnaround chance: 15%
New York Giants – Tom Coughlin must find way to spark his team
Tom Coughlin is no stranger to having to turn his teams around. It seems like he has to do it every year with the New York Giants. Yet this time feels a little different. The problems aren’t isolated like in years past. Everywhere there seems to be an issue from the offense to the defense, particularly in the trenches. The offensive line keeps getting Eli Manning sacked and can’t open holes in the run game. The defensive line can’t put up a consistent pass rush or stop the run. It’s strange to think because New York still, on paper at least, is a talented team. Coughlin must find a way to give them a spark because at present it seems like they’re playing without purpose. Luckily the Giants are in a really bad division at present which could enable them to get back into the face quickly.
Turnaround chance: 60%
Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III must help the defense
This team just hasn’t been the same since Robert Griffin III tore his ACL in that playoff game back in January. The Washington Redskins have not played fast or consistent in any of their three losses. RGIII has had problems with slow starts and it in turn has exposed a defense that is awfully porous in the secondary. He must learn not only to get the offense going earlier but minimize the times the defense has to be on the field by not turning the football over. Griffin turned the ball over twice against Detroit in week three which had a profound outcome on the game. Until that changes there is no reason to think the Redskins can rescue their NFL season save for the fact they still have five divisional games to go.
Turnaround chance: 25%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Glennon up to bat next
Anyone with eyes saw it coming. Josh Freeman lived up to his inconsistent history and got off to a terrible start in 2013 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This led to some doubts about his work ethic, which resulted in him losing his captaincy first and finally his job. With the Bucs 0-3 and he completing under 50% of his passes, Freeman was relegated to the bench in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. The N.C.State product was an intriguing prospect who caught eyes of a lot of experts as one who could turn into the best quarterback to come out of the 2013 draft. That being said, he’s still very raw and figures to make some mistakes along the way. He will need help from his team, and TampaBay is well suited for it with a solid defense, good offensive line and some weapons to work with in Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin.
Turnaround chance: 20%
Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert return won’t do anything
It’s hard to wonder whether the Jacksonville Jaguars intentionally sabotaged their 2013 season in order to get ensured a high draft pick again next year or they’re just plain dumb. Those are the only two reasons to explain how the team could feel comfortable entering the season with Blaine Gabbert starting. Either way the Jaguars have little to no prospects of competing in the AFC South with their division rivals all 2-1. Their offense is a shambles and Gus Bradley is still busy trying to fix the defense. That will take time. Until then the fans in Jacksonville must try to be patient.
Turnaround chance: 3%