When it comes to NFL history, there have been some popular teams that have achieved greatness and left their mark. However, not all teams can be winners, and some have earned the unfortunate distinction of being among the worst NFL teams of all time. In this article, we will take a trip down memory lane and explore the five worst NFL teams of all time as of 2023.
The 5 Worst NFL Teams of All Time: 2023 Edition
Which teams are the worst NFL teams of all time? Join us as we delve into the depths of NFL history, where we encounter a team that faced a scoring challenge against LaDanian Tomlinson and another team whose quarterback struggled to find the end zone. Let’s explore the five most notorious teams in NFL history.
5. 2007 Miami Dolphins (1-15)
The 2007 Miami Dolphins had a season to forget, finishing with a 1-15 record. This dismal performance was particularly disappointing given the talent available in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Miami had the opportunity to strengthen key areas of their team but made some questionable choices. They drafted wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. at the ninth overall pick, a decision met with boos from Dolphins fans. In the second round, they selected John Beck, a quarterback who would later prove to be a bust.
Beck, along with fellow quarterbacks Cleo Lemon and Trent Green, struggled throughout the season, combining for just 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Notably, none of the receivers scored multiple touchdowns.
Even the return of superstar running back Ricky Williams, who had been suspended for violating the NFL drug policy, couldn’t salvage the season. After just six rush attempts, Williams tore his pectoral muscle and was sidelined for the remainder of the year.
The 2007 Dolphins narrowly avoided the ignominy of a winless season by securing a Week 15 victory against the Ravens. However, this lone win was insufficient to save head coach Cam Cameron, who was fired at the end of the season.
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4. 2016 Cleveland Browns (1-15)
The 2016 Cleveland Browns continued their string of disappointing seasons, finishing with a 1-15 record. This marked a regression from their 3-13 performance the previous year.
Despite their poor record, the 2016 Browns were not the worst NFL team ever, as they were unfortunate to lose five games by a single score, with two of those losses occurring in overtime. The team cycled through five different quarterbacks during the season, struggling to find stability at the position.
One notable decision that haunted the Browns was selecting Cody Kessler in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft ahead of Dak Prescott, who would later find success with the Dallas Cowboys. Additionally, they traded away the second overall pick in the draft, which the Philadelphia Eagles used to select Carson Wentz, ultimately helping them win Super Bowl LII.
3. 2017 Cleveland Browns (0-16)
The 2017 Cleveland Browns had a promising preseason, winning all four exhibition games. However, once the regular season began, their fortunes took a dramatic turn for the worse. They became only the second team in NFL history to finish the regular season with a dismal 0-16 record.
This unfortunate season followed their 1-15 performance the previous year, solidifying the Browns’ status as one of the NFL’s worst teams over a two-year period.
While the Browns were competitive in some games, four of their losses were decided by a single field goal, and two games went into overtime. On the defensive side, rookie pass rusher Myles Garrett showed promise, recording seven sacks and a fumble recovery in just 11 games.
However, the Browns’ Achilles’ heel was their quarterback situation. DeShone Kizer started in 15 games but struggled, throwing 11 touchdowns and a league-worst 22 interceptions. Backup quarterback Kevin Hogan performed so poorly that he was demoted to third-string quarterback.
The season’s heartbreaking conclusion saw Corey Coleman dropping a routine catch just after the two-minute warning in their final game, squandering the chance to secure a win and avoid the ignominy of a winless season. This incident even led to allegations of tanking against the Browns.
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2. 2009 St. Louis Rams (1-15)
The 2009 St. Louis Rams endured a dismal season, finishing with a record of 1-15. This was a franchise that had not seen a winning season since 2003, and their decline continued with each passing year.
Offensively, the Rams managed to score a mere 175 points during the entire season. To put this in perspective, LaDanian Tomlinson scored 186 points for the Chargers in 2006, surpassing the Rams’ entire offensive output for the year.
Their quarterback situation was dire, with Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller, and Keith Null combining for just 11 touchdown passes. Among them, Null had the worst performance, throwing three touchdowns and nine interceptions.
On a positive note, running back Steven Jackson had an outstanding season, earning a Pro Bowl selection with 1,416 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, and 322 receiving yards from 51 receptions. Unfortunately, his individual success couldn’t lift the team out of its downward spiral.
1. 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16)
The 2008 Detroit Lions are often regarded as the poster child for NFL futility. They managed to achieve the infamous feat of going 0-16 in the regular season, a record that no NFL team wants to claim. Head Coach Rod Marinelli’s quote, “I’m not 0-10! You’re 0-10,” is emblematic of the team’s desperate attempt to deflect their abysmal performance.
Their defense was porous, allowing a staggering 517 points during the season, averaging 32.3 points per game. This ranks as the second-worst defensive performance in NFL history, trailing only the 1981 Baltimore Colts. The Lions’ defense intercepted the ball just four times throughout the entire season, highlighting their struggles.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions used five different quarterbacks during the season, and none of them managed to maintain a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio or a passer rating above 73.0. Their passing game was so inefficient that they threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
One unforgettable moment that encapsulates the Lions’ woeful season occurred in Week 6 when quarterback Dan Orlovsky scrambled out of the end zone, unaware that he had run out for a safety. This blunder ultimately became the decisive play in that game.
However, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. The Lions were rewarded with the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and selected Matthew Stafford, who would later go on to become a franchise quarterback and win Super Bowl LVI with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. Despite their struggles, the Detroit Lions remain a part of NFL history, albeit not for the right reasons.
While the NFL is known for its moments of glory and triumph, it also has its share of historic failures. The five teams mentioned here have earned their place in NFL history for their struggles and unfortunate records. Each of these teams faced its unique challenges, but they will forever be remembered for their place in the annals of NFL history.