At the start of every new season, there are always several narratives that get people excited. It could be about a single team, a new rookie, or a free agent. Fans and analysts alike can’t stop talking about these stories and desperately want to see them perform on the field. This creates a lot of hype.
However, not all of these end well. We’ve seen sophomore slumps after sensational rookie seasons. Super Bowl teams have also missed the playoffs the following season. Then you get teams that go on impressive runs only to lose in the most improbable circumstances. So today, we’re going to look at how 30 hype trains derailed in the NFL via Bleacher Report. Check out our list below.
30. Tua Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa was once the top-rated quarterback in his class. But then he suffered a brutal hip injury at the end of 2019 and many people doubted that he could bounce back. However, he recovered and the Miami Dolphins went all-in on him in the first round of the 2020 draft. They started Ryan Fitzpatrick for most of the first half of the season before finally introducing the Hawaiian in Week Six.
The results were mixed as Tagovailoa endured highs and lows. He threw three interceptions in a blowout loss to the Bills and Brian Flores replaced him with Fitzpatrick twice. A lot of hype followed the Alabama Crimson Tide star but in his own words, he was disappointing. It’s not that he was terrible, but it didn’t help that the immediate draft pick after him, Justin Herbert, was phenomenal.
This is a harsh inclusion but it’s justified. McCaffrey is a devastating talent but we didn’t see much of him in 2020. This was because he suffered a series of injuries that kept him on the injury list for most of the year. The reason he’s here is that he just signed the most lucrative running back contract in NFL history. The Carolina Panthers signed him to a four-year, $64 million extension in 2020.
To hand him such a massive deal was a real display of faith by the Panthers. Furthermore, it left their fans salivating because their top offensive talent would surely repay them with blistering performances. Unfortunately, injuries derailed the hype and he only made three appearances in the following season. He does have time on his side to bounce back but it was an anticlimax.
Some people will laugh at this inclusion but Peyton Manning did hype him up to the extreme when he signed up to coach the New York Jets. Manning worked with Gase in Denver and credited the former quarterbacks’ coach with revitalizing his late-career. Then, Gase didn’t help himself by labeling himself as a quarterbacks’ guru. But he proved to be a total disaster in New York.
Gase ‘led’ the Jets to two losing seasons. Furthermore, he made Sam Darnold look like a high school QB minus the energy and enthusiasm. The Green Gang loathed him passionately and attended games with paper bags over their heads. It was a disastrous appointment and definitely not worth Manning’s misplaced hype. He definitely regrets his words because Gase damaged his credibility.
Bosa enjoyed one of the greatest rookie seasons in recent history. The defensive end helped the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and achieved nine sacks throughout an effective season. He also won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award for his efforts. Bosa emerged as an integral cog in the Niners’ defensive line and was one of their most significant players.
However, they missed him dearly the following season. A lot of excitement and hype followed Bosa into 2020 because he was so good in his rookie year. But he suffered a cruel torn ACL in just his second game of the year and missed the rest of the season. It was an unfortunate result because he was on course to become one of the NFL’s biggest stars. Fortunately, he’s young and can bounce back.
Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles suffered a massive decline over the past couple of years. His rookie season was phenomenal as the Eagles soared to the Super Bowl. He broke all kinds of records but actually didn’t play in the final game because of injury. Then, he made the Pro Bowl as the hype train took off. However, he took one step forward and ten steps backward.
2020 was an utter disaster for the Eagles’ man. After signing a massive extension in 2019, Eagles’ fans expected him to produce franchise quarterback results. Unfortunately, he was a disaster, and finally, Doug Pederson dropped him because his performances were so poor. He led the league in interceptions, turnovers, and everything else that is bad. What a fall from grace.
The Falcons were very good in 2010 with a 13-3 winning record in the regular season. That was a league-best record but they crashed out against Super Bowl champions New Orleans in the postseason. Then they decided to go for broke and bring in wide receiver Julio Jones as an attacking weapon.
After trading a whole host of draft picks to make this exciting move, a lot of people backed them for a deep playoff run. But their defense went into meltdown mode and the Falcons lost their opening game. The Chicago Bears mauled them 30-12 to send a dose of reality through their ranks and derail their hype train.
Fans of America’s Team always have an emotional reaction to their 2016 season. On the one hand, there were so many exciting moments including a scintillating 11-game winning run. But in the end, it was all for nothing, as they suffered a trio of crushing losses. The New York Giants swept them in Tony Romo’s last season.
But the Green Bay Packers really derailed this hype train with a cruel 34-31 victory in the playoffs. Romo walked away after an emotional rollercoaster of a year. Overall, the Cowboys had a lot of potentials and could have gone further in different circumstances.
Problems on and off the field derailed this hype train. Bell had an excellent rookie season for the Steelers before his career totally melted down. It was a disaster and extremely disappointing because he looked like a mainstay in their defense for the next decade.
But it wasn’t to be. The 2001 Defensive Rookie of the Year secured nine sacks in his first season and made the Pro Bowl. However, it took him another three years to match his rookie numbers again which shows just how far from grace he fell. It was extremely disappointing.
2015 was a sensational year for the Panthers. The NFC champions made it all the way to the Super Bowl before they eventually lost to Broncos. However, there was still a rightful sense of achievement after a franchise-record 15-1 season and hopes were high they would take the next step in 2016.
It was a case of one step forward and 10 steps backward though. The Panthers totally regressed as they started the new season 1-5. Furthermore, they obtained the awful record of becoming the first 15-1 team to miss the playoffs the following season. The hype train was truly derailed.
Regarded as the best defensive team ever to miss the playoffs, the Bills wasted a big opportunity in 2004. When you look at their remarkable numbers, you’ll realize how crazy it was. In one game, they only allowed the Browns 26 yards in a 36-7 victory. Their defense was almost impregnable.
However, somehow they managed to lose to third-string Steelers in Game Week 17. Despite the fact that everybody raved about their work at the back, the overall balance of the team was off. They weren’t able to capitalize against a weakened Pittsburgh squad in bemusing circumstances.
Slaton was like a panzer tank in his first season for the Houston Texans. The rookie was unstoppable as he rushed for 1,659 yards with 10 touchdowns. Needless to say, when it came to fantasy drafts the next season, many players had him as one of their most obvious picks.
The excitement was real but then he stuck a pin in the hype balloon by underperforming the next couple of years. Forget about a sophomore slump, this was a career collapse. His numbers deteriorated over his final three years in the NFL until he wasn’t on a team at all.
After a Heisman-winning year, the Chicago Bears picked Salaam in the first round of the 1995 draft. It’s always risky to use your first pick on a running back, but they took that chance because of his pedigree. He had a very good rookie year to build up some hype around his name.
Salaam rushed for almost 1,100 yards with 10 touchdowns in his first year. But then it all went wrong. Suspensions and injuries took their toll on his body and career. In the end, he only played three more seasons for the Bears and the Browns. It was disappointing because so many people expected more.
The Rams made the Super Bowl in 2001 and looked to go one better the following season. After losing to the 11-5 Patriots, they had a chip on their shoulder and many fans expected them to react. But they just couldn’t get going and lost their first five games of the season.
Then the Rams won their next five but finished the year with a 7-9 record. Nobody expected this to happen after their exciting run the previous season. Unfortunately for the Rams, they couldn’t sustain their momentum and missed out on the playoffs.
The Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985 and looked to make it two in a row. Many fans believed that they were good enough to establish a dynasty because they had demolished the rest of the NFL the prior year. However, that turned out not to be the case after they suffered quarterback woes.
In the end, their decision to back Doug Flutie cost them the chance to win a second Lombardi Trophy. He cost the team in their playoff game against the Washington Redskins. That was the end of their hype train.
All good things come to an end as the Broncos found out. They had won two successive Super Bowls coming into 1999. Then John Elway decided to retire and plunge the franchise into chaos. This was a major distraction in the offseason. While they weren’t favorites to retain the title, nobody expected them to implode the way they did.
The Broncos melted down at the end of games, losing several in the last couple of minutes. Terrell Davis injured his knee and missed the rest of the season. In sum, the Broncos dropped to a 6-10 record and missed out on the playoffs. It was quite the fall from grace.
Tony Romo is rightfully a Dallas Cowboys’ legend, but there’s no doubt that his rookie year was tumultuous. The Cowboys went 9-7 in 2005 and tried to bring in the right pieces to go even further. Enter the volatile Terrell Owens and Mike Vanderjagt. But in the end, they finished with the exact same regular-season record.
Romo put in some outstanding performances after taking the starting spot from Drew Bledsoe. However, he was directly responsible for the Cowboys’ defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs. In sum, Romo built up a hype train but at the end of the season, he couldn’t keep it going.
Look, we get it. It’s not easy to be a Cincinnati Bengals fan because they give their fans such little joy. But now and again they do have flashes of brilliance. Woods brought some joy to their roster in 1989. First, there was his trademark ‘Ickey Shuffle’ celebration dance. In short, fans saw it a lot that season.
15 touchdowns and 1,065 yards were a scintillating contribution in his rookie year. But then he tore his ACL and missed most of the season. He only played for two more years in the NFL but failed to make much more of an impact. To sum up, injuries derailed his promising hype train.
Brett Favre couldn’t just stay away, could he? He initially retired but then he changed his mind and wanted to play again for the Packers. However, the head office made it clear that it wasn’t an option as they were placing their faith in Aaron Rodgers. It would be interesting to imagine how things could have worked out if this hadn’t happened.
This mess unsettled the team. While they eventually traded Favre to the New York Jets, it was already in shambles. It also affected their performances. They went from 13-3 in 2007 to a losing record of 6-10 and missed out on the playoffs. In short, this hype train never left the station.
Fantasy football began to get really popular in 2005. Many fans picked Clayton for their teams after an electrifying rookie season. It looked like he was ready to blossom and emerge as a genuine elite superstar. But in the end, he was a waste of space on the Buccaneers’ roster.
After recording 1,193 yards with seven touchdowns in his first season, fans very excited. But the hype train derailed after less than 400 receiving yards and a total of zero touchdowns. This was despite the fact that he had played in 14 games so he had no excuses for his shocking output.
The worst season in the history of the franchise, the Browns had an appalling winless run that saw them become the second team to achieve this terrible record. After going 1-15 the year before, fans hoped that their draft picks would improve the team and make them more competitive.
Unfortunately, when a team tanks, it creates a losing mentality. The Browns became extremely good at this as they managed to go all season without winning a single game. In short, they managed to vanquish all of the hope of their fans in one of the bleakest seasons in football history.
Failing to win the Super Bowl can have a devastating effect on a team’s chances. The Eagles made it all the way to the final in 2004 but lost to the New England Patriots. Terrell Owens was a huge part of the problem. He effectively alienated himself from the team because of a contract dispute.
Meanwhile, their season fell into disarray. They lost their opener to the Atlanta Falcons before going on a three-game winning streak. But they couldn’t put back-to-back wins together for the rest of the season, eventually finishing with a 6-10 record. In sum, they derailed their own hype train.
Poor Griffin III. After a stellar rookie season where he put up magnificent numbers, the former Redskins’ quarterback looked like a star-in-waiting. Then along came an LCL and ACL tear to derail the hype train. In short, it was a tragedy because his career never recovered from this defining moment.
His 102.4 passer rating was the highest-ever by a rookie in the NFL. But he never came close to equalling that number as he, unfortunately, peaked too early. The 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year award winner slipped from being the most exciting young QB in the NFL to sitting behind Lamar Jackson with the Ravens.
When a team wins a Super Bowl, they usually become the favorite to win the next one. The Steelers found themselves in that position after winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the 2005 year. However, they proceeded to derail the hype train the following year with a very disappointing season.
Bill Cowher walked away at the end of this disastrous year. Of course, Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident did affect the team because he lost a lot of weight and wasn’t up to his usual standards. That was the theme of a bad year that saw the Jacksonville Jaguars shut them out on a miserable Monday night.
It looked like ‘America’s Team’ had got everything right in the 2020 offseason. Firstly, they hired head coach Mike McCarthy. Then they added some very solid free agents as well as an incredibly exciting draft class to their roster. In sum, you couldn’t help but be excited about them.
But the hype train definitely derailed after their very first game. It’s difficult not to feel a little schadenfreude at their expense after they lost to the LA Rams. Of course, they could still go and win the Super Bowl, but this definitely put a dent in the smug atmosphere in Texas.
Now a backup for the New Orleans Saints, it’s been quite the fall from grace for Winston. His rookie season was good but at this point, the hype train is well and truly derailed. It looked like he was on course to become a franchise quarterback for Tampa Bay but now sits on the bench in New Orleans.
In short, Winston has extraordinary talents but is responsible for far too many interceptions. As a result, Bruce Arians was happy to move him on and bring in Tom Brady. To sum up, Winston proves that statistics and records don’t necessarily reflect a player’s contribution on the field.
Baker Mayfield injected new energy and confidence into the Browns in 2018. After a bust of a season the year before, they desperately needed some hope. Then they added a genuine star receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. to provide Mayfield with an effective weapon.
Analysts believed that they had a great opportunity to do damage in the AFC North. But instead, the Browns regressed and looked like shadows of themselves from the year before. In particular, Mayfield took a step back after an excellent rookie season. They definitely derailed the hype train.
Tom Brady’s arrival in Tampa was one of the most intriguing narratives of the 2020 offseason. After 20 years of glory with the New England Patriots. However, some fans got too excited. They automatically assumed that Brady and his loyal Samwise Gamgee-like teammate Rob Gronowski would put Tampa in Super Bowl contention.
But Week One showed that this will be an up-and-down season for 2020 Super Bowl hosts. While they might still make the Super Bowl, it will not be as easy as they expected. Their 43-year-old quarterback was directly responsible for a pick-six and looked old. It was a shock to the system but they did rebound to silence their doubters.
A running back with the name ‘Cadillac’ was always going to seize the imagination of NFL fans. It also looked like he was going to live up to expectations after a great rookie year for Tampa. They really do feature a lot on this list, don’t they? With six touchdowns and 1,178 rushing yards, it looked like he had great potential.
Forget about hype trains derailing. This one just crashed into the mountainside because Williams went into total decline. He suffered a sophomore slump before injuries wrecked his career. In short, they robbed him of his explosive pace and previous confidence. His NFL career didn’t last long.
It was Jon Gruden’s second year in charge of the Buccaneers. Fans and analysts believed that the team could a second Super Bowl in a row and establish a dynasty. But their hype train imploded in the most ridiculous fashion as they even missed the playoffs.
First, they suffered a whole host of unfortunate injuries. Then they had to deal with problems off the field. There was drama in the office and the locker room as the franchise went into meltdown. In short, it was one of the most atrocious seasons in recent NFL history.
Vince Young infamously called the Eagles a ‘Dream Team’ in one of the most ill-advised comments in NFL history. Those words came back to haunt Young and the Philidelphia franchise after a disaster of a season. They missed out on the playoffs after tipping themselves to go all the way.
They won their first game but the hype train derailed after back-to-back losses against the Hawks and the Giants. The Eagles finished with an 8-8 season after several key players underperformed. Fans expected so much more from this exciting – at least on paper – roster.