Despite the ever-changing turnover at the top of the NFL food chain, four teams have managed to miss the playoffs every season since 2014.
Football fans in Cleveland have had some tough breaks since the Browns re-entered the NFL in 1999, but the last several seasons have been some of the most trying.
In 2014 they drafted Johnny Manziel as the new quarterback of the future. He was an absolute train wreck, finding himself quickly out of the league after a few dismal seasons. The team would go 3-13 in 2015, followed by two seasons in which they only won a single game under coach Hue Jackson for a two-year record of 1-31.
But what a difference a year makes. After selecting Baker Mayfield first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns went 7-8-1 last season.
After trading for Odell Beckham, Jr. this offseason, they’re now a popular sleeper pick to win the NFC North. It remains to be seen whether they’ll make the playoffs this year, but their fortunes are definitely looking up.
New York Jets
Baker Mayfield wasn’t the only QB taken with high expectations in 2018. The New York Jets selected Sam Darnold in the same draft and although he’s been promising so far, he hasn’t snapped them out of their several-season-long funk.
The Jets turned to former Arizona Cardinals’ assistant Todd Bowles to right the ship in 2015. Unfortunately, Bowles was unable to do so. Despite sneaking in a 10-win, non-playoff season in his first year, the team has largely struggled, winning no more than five games in any other season since. They are currently working on three consecutive last-place finishes in the AFC East and Bowles is out.
The team’s front office is also shaping up as a bit of a disaster. The team fired general manager Mike Maccagnan after the draft, promoting brand new coach Adam Gase to that role. Now the coach – who was last seen struggling with the Dolphins – will have even more responsibility on his plate.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over the past several seasons, the fortunes of the Buccaneers franchise have revolved around the QB. Jameis Winston has been equal parts promising and frustrating since the Bucs drafted him in 2015.
The Bucs have only won 25 games in the four years since drafting the former Florida State Seminole. Last season, Ryan Fitzpatrick played well in place of Winston for a sizable part of the season, but the Bucs still only managed five wins.
With Bruce Arians now at the helm, the Bucs fans have reason to be hopeful. The offensive mastermind was able to turn the Arizona Cardinals from a perennial doormat to an NFC champion, so maybe he’ll be able to work similar wonders with the inconsistent Winston.
San Francisco 49ers
The last few years have not been kind to the San Francisco 49ers. After QB Colin Kaepernick led them to a Super Bowl during the 2012-2013 season they assumed they’d have at least a few years as playoff contenders.
Kaepernick would battle injuries and inconsistent play, eventually losing his job to Blaine Gabbert. Moving on from Kaepernick, the team traded for Jimmy Garoppolo thinking the young prodigy and former Tom Brady backup might give them a better chance to compete.
After going 5-0 in limited action in 2017, he managed only three games in 2018 before succumbing to injury, submarining yet another season.
Is 2019 the year the Niners turn it around? It’s highly unlikely. They play in one of the league’s toughest divisions. The NFC West is home to the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams as well as the wild card qualifier Seattle Seahawks.