The 2016 season is a fresh start for every NFL franchise, giving them the chance to compete in the playoffs and reach the Super Bowl. However, several teams haven’t truly utilized the offseason to put themselves in a better position for making those aspirations become a reality. That said, here are three teams that won’t make the playoffs.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles experienced a lot of change this offseason, highlighted by the front office finally cutting ties with head coach Chip Kelly. However, that didn’t stop the team from making even more changes as the franchise elected to deal Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans after just one season with the team. The front office also dealt cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Miami Dolphins.
On that same note, Philadelphia brought back Sam Bradford on a two-year contract following a lackluster first season with the team. The front office locked up Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins and tight end Zach Ertz to long-term deals as well. These moves brought some much-needed stability to the franchise, but many still question Bradford’s dependability as a quarterback after another disappointing campaign.
What doesn’t help their playoff bid: They possess one of the worst defenses in the league, which ranked dead last against the rush and 28th against the pass last season. The Eagles may have the benefit of playing in the topsy-turvy NFC East division, but their lack of reliability on defense will lead to their third straight season missing the playoffs.
2. San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers are coming off their worst season since 2003, finishing with the third-worst record in the league. Outside of the expected departure of Eric Weddle, the Chargers added a few notable players via free agency in defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, wideout Travis Benjamin, and safety Dwight Lowery, while retaining Antonio Gates on a two-year contract. However, the Chargers still possess a middle of the pack defense — at best — ranking 20th last season.
Philip Rivers may be a more-than-capable quarterback who can carry the offense, but it doesn’t hide the fact that they had one of the league’s worst rushing attacks, highlighted by a disappointing rookie campaign from running back Melvin Gordon. Benjamin should bring some stability to the passing game alongside Keenan Allen, who was limited to eight games last season due to a kidney injury.
San Diego will be an improved team, but they have the difficult task of playing in the same division that features two perennial playoff teams in the Kansas City Chiefs and the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos — along with a team on the rise in the Oakland Raiders.
3. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is coming off another highly productive campaign, throwing for over 4,500 yards for the sixth straight year as well as recording 30-plus touchdown passes and a 90-plus passer rating for the eighth consecutive season. However, his impressive season didn’t mask the Saints’ horrendous defense, which was constantly torched by opponents and finished ranked 31st in the league.
New Orleans did make a few additions in free agency in tight end Coby Fleener, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, and linebacker James Laurinaitis, but there are still plenty of questions on that side of the ball. Although 37-year-old Brees is at the tail end of his career, he remains a source of reliability on their offense, which should stay in the top 10 in the league.
The Saints’ major issue is their defensive struggles, which contributed heavily to their back-to-back seasons with an under .500 record. The Saints will field a better defense in 2016, but that will be the ultimate indicator of how their season plays out. With the Carolina Panthers in control of the NFC South, the Saints will have a chance to compete for a wild card spot, but it’s hard to see them getting over the hump and snagging a playoff spot.