10. 1985 Buffalo Bills:
The Bills bottomed out in 1985, amid another 2-14 season as they started 0-6. The teams longtime veteran since the early 1970s, Quarterback Joe Ferguson was released during the previous offseason, and Buffalo’s offense reached new lows without him in 1985. The new quarterback carousel of Vince Ferragamo, Bruce Mathison and Joe Dufek was only able to produce nine passing TDs all season and the Bills were only able to muster 200 points for the entire season, the lowest total of the entire decade. Even Buffalo’s future favorite son, Jim Kelly, who was drafted in the 1983 draft, refused to even think about playing for the ailing franchise and bolted for the Houston Gamblers of the USFL. However, in the 1985 Draft, the Bills were able to acquire their future Super Bowl pieces of Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, and Quarterback Frank Reich and would become heavy AFC Contenders in the seasons to come.
9. 2007 Miami Dolphins:
Another AFC East club, the 2007 Dolphins started the season losing their first 13 games. Miami started the year on the wrong foot as head coach Nick Saban couldn’t resist an offer given to him by the Alabama Crimson Tide and left Miami to their fate. The Dolphins were also plagued by legal troubles from several of their players during the offseason leading up to the 2007 season. It didn’t help having the historic undefeated 07 Patriots in the same division; the Dolphins were left with a 1-15 record for 2007 and many questions to be answered for the following season.
8. 1989 Dallas Cowboys:
On February 25, 1989, gas and oil baron Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys from Bum Bright for 100 million dollars. Jones’ first move was to fire longtime Head Coach Tom Landry and General Manager Tex Schramm, who had both been on the Cowboys sidelines since the team’s inception in 1960. For Cowboys fans, firing Tom Landry was unimaginable. Jones replaced the man who had constructed America’s Team with the former University of Miami Head Coach Jimmy Johnson, who was making his first venture into the NFL. The Cowboys would draft parts of their future in the 1989 Draft with UCLA Quarterback Troy Aikman selected number one overall by Dallas, as well as Fullback Daryl Johnson, Defensive End Tony Tolbert and center Mark Stepnoski, all four would appear in Dallas’ Super Bowl run of the 1990s. But the 1989 season for the Cowboys was noted and remembered for shipping franchise running back Herschel Walker to the Vikings for a stock of Draft Picks, which led to their Hall Of Fame cornerstones for the 1990s. The Vikings believed Walker was the last piece they needed to build their SuperBowl team, Dallas had their SuperBowl ambitions after 1989. The Cowboys would win one game halfway through the 89 season and then bombed the rest of the way to finish 1-15.
7. 1990 New England Patriots:
It’s hard to believe now, but at one point the Patriots had some dark days in their history. The 1990 New England Patriots were marred on both the field and in the news. Aside from being the lousiest team in the league that season, scoring an unbelievable 11 points a game making them the worst offense and close to the worst defense on the field that year. Most of the news of the Patriots was taken up by the sexual harassment claims made by a Boston Herald reporter against the team in the locker room. It would prove to be a major distraction for the team in upcoming games. Longtime veteran Steve Grogan would make his final appearance as a Patriots quarterback, and even, he was unable to save New England. Quarterbacks Tommy Hodson and Marc Wilson got several starts for the team, but the Patriots dragged to a final 1-15 record after a week one win over the Colts.
6. 1991 Indianapolis Colts:
The Colts would tie their division rival’s feat the following season and prove to New England that they too could only win one game. The 1991 Colts scored a staggering 9 points a game and were close to the bottom on defense. Second-year Quarterback Jeff George struggled to gain a hold of the situation and started the season 0-9. The 1991 Colts scored the fewest points out of any team in NFL history up to that point on a 16 game schedule and unbelievably did not score a touchdown in 9 of their games. The Colts would finally get a win over the division rival Jets in week 11 of the season, winning by a single point and scoring the most points they had scored that entire season.
5. 2000 San Diego Chargers:
The San Diego Chargers were now shackled with 1998 NFL Draft bust Ryan Leaf on their roster and struggled to find any success during the 2000 season. The 2000 Chargers were slightly better on both offense and defense statistically than both the 90 Patriots and 91 Colts. But the 2000 Chargers would have an NFL record worst rushing attack for a 16 game season and would get their only win of the season from a last-second field goal against the Chiefs. they would win the game by only one point. The team released Ryan Leaf during the 2001 offseason, and the Chargers were able to draft future Hall of Famers, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Quarterback Drew Brees in 2001. Even though Brees would spend the majority of his All-Pro career with the Saints.
4. 1980 New Orleans Saints:
1980 was the first appearance of the “Aints,” and the fans were right to have the paper bags ready. Archie Manning was at the helm for New Orleans that year, and the Saints featured a league-worst defense for 1980 and did not win a game until week 15 of the season. The New Orleans Saints were poised to become the first team to go 0-16, but Quarterback Archie Manning would pull out a one-point victory over the mediocre New York Jets. The 1980 Saints were also responsible for being on the losing end of the then-largest comeback in NFL history as the future SuperBowl champion 49ers were able to rally back from being down 35-7. Archie Manning today has been largely overshadowed by Eli and Peyton Manning, same name, who knows if they’re related.
3. 2017 Cleveland Browns:
The 2016 Cleveland Browns were very close to becoming the second team in NFL history to make the distinction of having an 0-16 season. But that team was able to somehow, maybe at the mercy of the NFL gods, dodge the bullet and pulled an upset win over the Chargers in week 16. But the 2017 incarnation of that team had the privilege of achieving that feat, not only becoming the second team in NFL history to register an 0-16 season. The 2017 Browns would feature the NFL’s worst offense and second to worst defense. Hue Jackson in his ‘16 and ‘17 campaigns would have a staggering 1-31 record to rival the 76-77 Buccaneers. To add to that, Jackson would still be on the sidelines for Cleveland at the beginning of the 2018 season.
2. 2008 Detroit Lions:
We all remember the 2008 Lions vividly, completing its historic season and remember the image of quarterback Dan Orlovsky running out of his endzone for a safety. No team in NFL history since the 1976 Buccaneers had compiled a winless season. The Lions maybe made it their mission to overtake that record. By the time the Lions became 0-15, America saw the writing on the wall. Detroit beat Cleveland to the punch by completing the 0-16 season 9 seasons earlier and the first in NFL history to ever accomplish the feat in a 16 game schedule. Detroit featured a league-worst defense that surrendered 32 points a game and an offense that was equally as awful in its own right. As a compensation prize, the Lions were able to select Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford first overall in the 2009 draft, and giving Detroit maybe their first saving grace since the services of Mr. Sanders.
1. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The 76 Buccaneers are legends in their own right. In 1974, both Seattle and Tampa were awarded franchises to expand the league to 28 teams. For Tampa Bay, the new franchise was awarded by the arrival of former USC head coach John McKay. The Buccaneers returned the favor to McKay with the first winless season in the modern SuperBowl era, even without one tie, with an 0-14 season in their inaugural season. The Buccaneers were able to select from a wide array of talent for the 1976 expansion draft; Many of which who were in their late 30s and many not even reporting to training camp. Once when asked of his team’s execution on the field in a loss that season, McKay replied, “I’m in favor of it.” McKay, when he came into the NFL after winning four championships at USC, was less than impressed with the transition from college to pros in the NFL. These feelings didn’t go down favorably with some other high prestige coaches in the league. McKay with his first few seasons with Tampa Bay ran a college-style offense with pitches, traps, and sweeps and maybe McKay’s attitude towards moving to the pros showed on the field. That didn’t mean he gave up on the Buccaneers, McKay reportedly through the 1976 and much of the 77 seasons, would be holed up in his office watching hours upon hours of film. Only leaving for a few minutes to get a sandwich and wanting to prove to the higher-ups of the NFL that Tampa was worthy of an NFL franchise and he could win, not just in college, but excel in the pros. The Buccaneers would almost go win-less again in 1977, ridiculed by America. Tampa was slowly becoming one of the hard nose defenses of the NFL led by the Selmon brothers, who they selected in the 1976 Draft. Tampa amazingly, after all the ridicule, would make an NFC Championship game appearance in 1979, but fell short to another Cinderella team in the LA Rams.
Picture Credit- Andrew Zhang https://www.flickr.com/photos/mashget/