NFL 2014: You Can’t Spell Fail Without FLA
By Russell S. Baxter
Pro Football Guru
They say good things come in threes.
Are we sure?
It was a pretty forgettable 2013 for the Miami Dolphins (8-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12), making for plenty of overcast in the Sunshine State.
But just in case you thought this was a recent phenomenon, think again.
Dating back to 2009, the Dolphins (35-45), Buccaneers (28-52) and Jaguars (26-54) are a combined 89-151. The clubs have combined to make zero playoff appearances and have produced only one winning season (Tampa Bay finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs in 2010) over that time frame.
You have to go back to 2008, when the Dolphins won the AFC East with an 11-5 mark, to find a team from the 27th state in the union to reach the playoffs in the NFL.
Of course, for fans of the three teams from Florida, there will be plenty to talk about the evening of May 8 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Jacksonville owns the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, followed closely by Tampa Bay (7th) and eventually Miami (19th).
Is this the year things turn around?
The Bucs are trotting out new uniforms, a new head coach in Lovie Smith and a roster that remains pretty talented. Bill Lazor is the new offensive coordinator with the Dolphins, replacing Mike Sherman, and hopefully the team and head coach Joe Philbin can put last season’s embarrassing locker room incidents behind them.
As for the Jaguars, Gus Bradley’s club is hoping to build on the fact that following a 0-8 start last season, they split their final eight outings. For what it’s worth, the Bucs did the same exact thing this past season. Jacksonville also just re-signed potential free-agent quarterback Chad Henne, who threw nine of his 13 touchdown passes in the team’s final five games in December.
Still, all three clubs from Florida ended 2013 on a sour note. The Dolphins dropped their final two games while the Jaguars and Buccaneers each bring three-game losing streaks into this September.
So what can we expect from each club this offseason. Will Miami be as aggressive in free agency as they were in a year ago? Will Jacksonville and Tampa Bay delve deep into the open market when it opens on March 11?
In any case, it’s been far too long since the league has seen a team from the Sunshine State play beyond the regular season.
Perhaps this is the year the drought, per se, ends in the state of Florida.
Russell S. Baxter is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on numerous platforms, including Bleacher Report and Pro Player Insiders. Follow me on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru and Facebook at Pro Football Guru.