I’m sure the fans of the Broncos, Giants, Vikings and a handful of others are dancing in the streets right now. Each team is off to a good start. The thing about most NFL fans, I think, is that they buy into the hype real fast.
Take the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles. It was the team’s first year under Chip Kelly. They won their first game that season over the Redskins. Fox Sports actually did a story on how Eagles fans were now expecting to go to the Super Bowl. The Eagles went on to lose their next three, rebounded to snatch a wild card birth and then lose in the first round to the Saints.
So what have been the biggest collapses in the NFL? There have been PLENTY, but here are my ‘Top 5’.
5.) Denver Broncos, 2009
Under first year head coach Josh McDaniel, the Broncos roared out to a 6-0 mark, including a thrilling overtime win over New England in week five. But after a bye week, they lost four in a row and eight of their last 10 to finish 8-and-8, good enough for second in the AFC West behind San Diego. McDaniel was fired during the next season after 12 games. He has not been a head coach in the NFL since then.
4.) Arizona Cardinals, 2012
The Cardinals finished the 2012 season in last place in the NFC West with a 5-11 mark. What you may not know is that they started that season at 4-and-0. They were able to muster only one more win that season–in week 15–against Detroit. This would be the final season of the Ken Whisenhunt era. The next season the club got a new GM, Bruce Arians took over as head coach and Carson Palmer became the starting quarterback. The team’s fortunes have been on an upswing since then.
3.) Minnesota Vikings, 2003
The Daunte Culpepper-Randy Moss led Vikings began the 2003 season at 6-0. But they crashed and burned, going 3-7 the rest of the way including losses to the Giants, Raiders and Cardinals which were three of the worst teams in the league that season. Under head coach Mike Tice, the Vikings went to the playoffs the next year. His tenure in Minneapolis came to an end after the 2005 season. They have had moderate success since that campaign, but 2003 will go down as probably one of the most painful… next to the Gary Anderson missed field goal in the 1999 playoffs against the Falcons.
2.) Washington Redskins, 1996
Norv Turner’s third season as head coach of the Redskins started out incredibly at 7-1. A shocker, since his first two teams in Washington went 3-13 and 6-10. However, they finished 2-6 and seemingly could not stop anyone during the last half of the season, including giving up an incredible 522 yards passing to Boomer Esiason and the Cardinals in an overtime loss in week 11. Even though they finished the season with a fine win over the rival Dallas Cowboys, the 9-7 record and third place finish in the NFC East was one of the crown jewels leading to firing Turner four seasons later.
1.) Miami Dolphins, 1993
Do you remember the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas in 1993? It was the game in the snow when Leon Lett’s blunder cost the Cowboys the win over the Dolphins. That 16-14 win propelled Miami to a 9-2 mark under Don Shula. They did not win another game. Meanwhile, the Cowboys went on to win the Super Bowl. One of the main reasons the Dolphins crumbled in 1993 was the absence of Dan Marino. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon in week six at Cleveland and was out for the season. The Dolphins used Scott Mitchell and Steve DeBerg the rest of the way and finished second in the AFC East behind eventual AFC champ Buffalo.