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The Race For The Number One Pick (Post-Week 2)

There have only been two weeks of NFL football so far, and four teams have only played one game. But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about which team will wind up with the number one pick in the 2018 Draft. So far, six teams separated themselves from the pack in terms of being particularly bad. The Bills, Texans, and Giants have not played well, but with only one loss each, I’m going to exclude them for now. And while the Chargers and Saints are 0-2, as long as Philip Rivers and Drew Brees are around, they aren’t going to be in contention for the first pick. But which teams are?

The Colts have been outscored by a league-high 40 points. Indianapolis lost to the Rams and Cardinals, and both of those teams lose their other game this year. Without Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis offense looks awful: After starting off with a touchdown and a field goal, the Colts final nine drives of the game ended with seven punts, a field goal, and an interception. Indianapolis probably has too weak of a schedule to be a real contender for the first pick, but the Colts will be a mess as long as Luck isn’t around.

The Colts play the Browns this weekend, in a matchup of bottom feeders. As a sign of how far Indianapolis has fallen, the Colts are currently +1 even though the game is at Lucas Oil. Cleveland, of course, went 1-15 last year, and things are not off to a good start this season. Myles Garrett was injured before the season, and on Sunday, Jamie Collins suffered a concussion, DeShone Kizer had a bout with a migraine, and Corey Coleman broke his hand. In other words, it’s factory of sadness as usual in Cleveland: eight minutes into the game against the Ravens, Baltimore scored more points than the Browns would score all game.

But Cleveland may not be the worst team in Ohio because of the Bengals. It’s weird to talk about Cincinnati — a playoff team each year from 2011-2015 — in the contention for the number one pick. The team’s 23 offensive drives have ended in 12 punts, 4 interceptions, 2 fumbles, 2 turnovers on downs, and 3 field goals. The Bengals just fired their offensive coordinator Ken Zampese — will that turn things around, or lead to a mutiny?  Losing at home to the Texans — who lost badly to the Jaguars, who just lost badly to the Titans — doesn’t inspire much hope.

The presumptive favorite for the number one pick prior to the season was the Jets.  Well, with an 0-2 record, a league-high 66 points allowed, and an offense that revolves around Josh McCown, that’s probably still the case.  The Jets allowed three rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns to the Raiders, while failing to record a sack, a turnover, or even a quarterback hit.  The offense ranks in the bottom five in both yards and first downs per game.  There are some good individual pieces — Jermaine Kearse has been a pleasant surprise — but the Jets are the least talented team in the NFL.  I would also like to take this time to remind you that the Jets have allowed the most points in the NFL despite 50% of their games coming against a team that scored three points yesterday.

Chicago played well in week one, but imploded in week two, falling behind 29-0 before scoring a garbage time touchdown.  The Bears were one of the worst teams in football last year, and so far, Mike Glennon hasn’t triggered any improvement: Glennon is averaging just 9.0 yards per completion through two games. Chicago’s first eight drives ended as follows: interception, fumble, interception, punt, punt, punt, downs, downs.   If Chicago turns to Mitch Trubisky, there’s the potential for a very ugly 2017 season.  Can the Bears defense keep the team out of number one pick contention?

If it’s not the Jets or the Browns, the favorite for the number one pick has to be San Francisco. The 49ers have not scored a touchdown this season, and Brian Hoyer and the offense have been ugly.  San Francisco has passed for just 255 yards in two games across 68 dropbacks: that’s a 3.75 NY/A average with a 2.43 ANY/A.  In other words, the 49ers passing attack has been about as efficient as a veteran fullback running the ball. The defense has played pretty well, but I have more faith in the defense playing poorly than the offense getting to even within shouting distance of average.

Given the presence of Luck and Trubisky,  Colts and Bears fans probably aren’t excited about landing the number one pick and getting to draft a quarterback.  Before the season, I doubt Browns or Bengals fans were, either. The Jets and 49ers are two of the teams most in need of a franchise quarterback. Who is going to land the number one pick? Which team do you think has looked the worst so far this year?

  • Deacon Drake

    Kind of shocked at how bad the 49ers have been. I thought they were a sure bounce-back candidate after a weird Chip Kelly experiment, but since they literally have no other options than Hoyer, they are probably forced to ride this one out.

    I also saw the Chargers being an improvement, but apparently it wasn’t McCoy’s stink losing those close games. Who’d have guessed that maybe the players influence the outcomes.

    • I definitely expected them to be better too. Maybe with so many new parts it will take a while to gel. If Hoyer’s confidence isn’t shot, they could have a nice little offense by season’s end with some of those talented skill position players.

      But I legit chuckled aloud at Chase’s line that “the 49ers passing attack has been about as efficient as a veteran fullback running the ball.” That’s a hilarious visual of a team running a Fullback Dive with 3 Tight Ends on 3rd and 5 because it has a better chance to work than passing.

    • Topher Doll

      The idea McCoy was the reason for the Chargers losing always kind of made me laugh. Impossible to imagine a coach was the reason for all the injuries and entirely luck based ways of losing. I mean there is even a bingo game of insanely low probability ways a team can lose where the Chargers check most off that Scott Kascmar uses. McCoy wasn’t a great head coach but he was hardly the main issue there.

    • Duff Soviet Union

      Maybe everything *wasn’t* Colin Kaepernick’s fault.

  • Richie

    It’s a wonder how bad teams ever get good. The Raiders finally turned things around.

    But with the Jets, they just traded away one of their best players (Sheldon Richardson), who is only 26. It’s so hard to come up with actual NFL talent. And then to get rid of one of the pieces you do find at such a young age. I guess there were some personality issues there. But the Jets aren’t going to turn things around if they win the 2018 draft. How many players from their 2018 draft are likely to be on their next playoff team? I wonder if tanking is a strategy that really works in the NFL.

    Before this season, I don’t remember any other teams appearing to actively tank a season. Somebody mentioned the 2003 Cardinals. I don’t remember thinking it at the time, but the argument was sound. And looking at their next playoff team (2008), they had 4 starters that came from the 2004 draft (Fitzgerald, Dansby, Dockett and Antonio Smith). So maybe it did work for them. Of course, that was far from a dominant team, and had they not been able to get Kurt Warner, making the Super Bowl would have been unlikely. And it took them hitting big on 4 picks in one draft to get as good as “above average”.

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