The very fact that we had a 2020 NFL season is among the wildest facts of an insane year for sports. So many crazy things have happened, both on and off the playing field. From positive tests and breaking NFL protocols to franchises imploding, it’s been one of the most manic in recent memory.
We have some quarterbacks playing magnificently, while others suffered rapid declines. Meanwhile, franchises fired coaches and general managers after horrific starts. Then you have the Tennessee Titans being very naughty indeed. Finally, the state of the world and the health crisis casts their looming shadow over the game. Today, let’s take a look at 30 reasons why the 2020 NFL season is the wildest in recent memory. Check out the list below via The Ringer.
30. The Online Draft
2020 began in the strangest manner with an online draft. Traditionally, the NFL Draft weekend has a festival vibe. Thousands of people attend events over the weekend but obviously, that wasn’t conducive to the global health crisis. As a result, the NFL had to think of a way to get around this. This meant taking everything online. It definitely wasn’t as glamorous as expected, but at least it went ahead.
The draft was supposed to take place in Paradise City, Nevada. Players were set to take to a floating platform by boat but ended up sitting at home waiting for franchises to decide their futures. However, if this was 10 years ago, things could have been much more complicated. At least we have the Internet to keep things on track. The next NFL draft will take place in person again.
Washington head coach Ron Rivera used four quarterbacks in 2020 but Smith most likely should not have been one of them. The veteran signal-caller missed the entirety of the previous season after he suffered a gruesome leg break in a game against the Houston Texans. He was lucky to survive after sepsis set into the wound and almost cost him his leg. Surgeons seriously considered amputation to enhance his survival chances.
But after 17 surgeries, Smith made a remarkable full recovery. After Dwayne Haskins’ decline in form and Washington’s QB injury woes, he even found himself as the franchise’s starter. While his form was mixed, the fact that he was there at all was something truly special. As a result, the NFL awarded him the Comeback Player of the Year award. He deserved it more than anybody in recent history in one of the wildest stories of the season.
Every year a college player seizes the attention of NFL coaches and scouts. But few have done so to the same extent as Lawrence. The Clemson QB is considered a generational talent and as a result, the entire league was talking about him before the draft. It became clear throughout the season that two franchises were in with a chance to get him. The Jags and the Jets battled to see who could be the worst team in the NFL.
In the end, it was Jacksonville who won this dishonorable contest. Only time will tell how Lawrence fares in the NFL, but it does appear as though the Jaguars pulled off a coup by failing miserably. With his long hair, athleticism, and high ceiling, it looks as though Lawrence has superstar potential. But only time will tell how he settles in the professional game. Still, it was one of the wildest football stories of a wild season.
The NFC East was one of the worst divisions in the history of the NFL in 2020. It was diabolically bad and the fact that Washington won with a 7-9 record shows how weak it was. To be fair to Washington, they were actually solid enough and improved as the season went on. At least Ron Rivera’s team showed some promise for the future but the rest of the division was miserable.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles were horrific. Meanwhile, the Cowboys completely melted down after Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury. Finally, the Giants also finished with a 6-10 record and proved insipid the entire way through the season. A couple of wins in December prevented the division from being officially the worst ever. But it was definitely one of the weakest in the league’s history.
Two years ago, Mike McCarthy finally left Green Bay, although not of his own volition. Fans in Wisconsin will remember him for two reasons. First, they won the Super Bowl under his guidance and that shouldn’t be downplayed. The Packers are a classic franchise but they’ve arguably overachieved throughout their entire history when it comes to competing with big-city teams.
However, he also wasted the best years of Aaron Rodgers’ career. In 2020, Rodgers was a revived version of himself en route to the NFL MVP award. Meanwhile, new head coach Matt LeFleur took the pressure off of his veteran quarterback and helped him play with more freedom. Rodgers doesn’t have to be superhuman anymore, which is better for Green Bay because the offense as an overall entity is more balanced.
Of course, not every player has returned for the new NFL season. Several made the decision to sit out because of the condition of the world today. They cited social issues and health concerns as more important than playing sports for the purpose of entertainment. Many like Christian Miller and Maurice Canady say that family comes before money.
One of the most notable cases is that of Laurent Duverney-Tardif. The Canadian is one of the few players who was a regular starter last season. After winning the Super Bowl with the Chiefs, Duverney-Tardif decided to return to healthcare for the year. With a Ph.D. in medicine, he is working in Montreal at a long-term care facility. You have to respect that.
One of the saddest parts of this season is Philip Rivers and his displays for the Indianapolis Colts. Rivers had a dreadful final season for the LA Chargers last year but the Colts thought that it was worth bringing him as a veteran quarterback. However, this veteran has made a lot of rookie mistakes. Nobody likes seeing Rivers receive hate online, but fans are right in so far as this experiment isn’t working.
The wildest part is that they paid him a guaranteed $25 million for the season. The 38-year-old is more reminiscent of a racehorse past its prime than anything else. A nightmare showing against the Cleveland Browns in Week Four solidified fan outrage. The Colts made the playoffs but it was clear that the quarterback position was holding them back from being one and done. Rivers retired after the Colts’ playoff exit and the team acquired Carson Wentz.
Finally, Dan Snyder caved and agreed to drop the Redskins’ nickname. He was defiant in the face of criticism from activists and Native Americans. But when franchise sponsors decided that it didn’t look very good, he finally caved. The last team in the NFL to integrate also hung onto its dodgy nickname for far too long. Anyway, enter the Washington Football Team.
The Redskins’ nickname originated in 1933 after they changed from the Boston Braves. It lasted for 77 years until Snyder, under pressure, agreed to enter the 21st century. For the moment, Washington players have their numbers on their helmets instead of the former badge. Most people agree that the change wasn’t before time. Yet another wild 2020 moment.
All of a sudden, Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen is an elite quarterback. The signal-caller is undoubtedly talented but has a history of making the wrong decision at key moments of games. This was always going to be a great opportunity for the Bills to make an impact in the AFC East. The Patriots are in transition, Miami is inconsistent, and the less said about the Jets the better.
Allen’s pass completion rate rose from 58% as a rookie to over 70% in 2020. Furthermore, he demonstrated his leadership in key moments as he looks to take the dog to his opponents. Jim Kelly even said that the Bills have finally found his successor in Buffalo, just 19 quarterbacks later…
The world is in a strange place right now and we all have to adapt. The introduction of masks into daily life has become the norm. This is true both on the streets as well as in NFL stadiums. Effectively, everybody who isn’t a player has to wear a mask. The idea is that it reduces the likelihood of infected people spreading sicknesses through droplets from their mouths.
As a result, all fans lucky enough to make it into a stadium must wear a mask. But more jarringly, coaches also wear them in order to comply with NFL health guidelines. It feels like the apocalypse but we respect the fact that they are taking the current situation seriously. That doesn’t make it any less strange though.
The Raiders are officially a Las Vegas NFL franchise after Allegiant Stadium hosted its first games. But the condition of the world has had a severe impact on their start to life in their new home. Allegiant Stadium cost almost two billion dollars to build. However, Mark Davis still hasn’t allowed fans inside because of the current health crisis.
That’s not a criticism, but it is one of the wildest and strangest starts they could have had. In sum, nobody could have imagined this at all. Right now, they could be playing their games at a Nebraska High School because they could be anywhere. Let’s hope that they get to use the most technologically advanced stadium in the world properly soon.
Bizarrely, yes, the Cleveland Browns resemble a coherent, decent team again. Since 2016, the Browns have served up chaos and disappointment. We won’t lie, it’s been very entertaining. From their winless 2017 to the disappointment that was Baker Mayfield’s sophomore year, it’s been one of the NFL’s wildest rides. However, they’ve finally turned a corner.
Firstly, they’ve reduced the burden on Mayfield so that their entire offense doesn’t depend on him. Furthermore, the team now has an identity thanks to Kevin Stefanski’s hard work. That was no easy task considering the bizarre nature of the 2020 offseason. Only time will tell how their season ends, but there are many more positive sounds in Ohio these days. That’s good for the league.
The Steelers made it all the way to the playoffs in 2020 but it was one of the wildest rides ever. First of all, they established an 11-game winning streak. On paper, this appears to be very dominant but analysts thought that it was a fluke. This proved to be exactly the case because they suffered one of the worst meltdowns in recent history. In short, they lost every game from then on.
It wasn’t just the fact that they lost games but the way they went down in defeat. Furthermore, Ben Roethlisberger played horribly in a number of their games and looked every bit his age. But the problem for the Steelers is that they are stuck with ‘Big Ben’ because of the salary cap. It was a miserable way for the season to end after such a bright beginning for Pittsburgh.
We wrote earlier about the rules surrounding the use of masks in stadiums. Essentially it comes down to this: if you’re not a player then you need to wear a mask. However, not everybody is on board with this message. In fact, some people are totally disregarding it, namely the NFL coaching staff. But there is a logic to their violations.
They argue that they’re around the players every day so what difference does it make if they wear them or not? To be fair, they’ve got a point, but as it stands, they must follow the NFL guidelines or face a fine. So far the likes of Kyle Shanahan, Jon Gruden, and Sean Peyton have broken the rules.
Another of the most contentious aspects of the new season is the debate over fans. With a highly contagious sickness going around the world, is it really such a good idea to pack thousands of people into a stadium? So far, we have seen a mixed approach from franchises. 11 teams went as far as week five with no fans present. Others, like the Kansas City Chiefs, had them from the start.
Maybe it’s not the wildest but it’s definitely very weird. Fans totally change the tone of a game. In sum, the lack of atmosphere does have an impact on the mentality of players. It also looks wrong. At the end of the day, it’s the people’s game. The sooner we can have fans back everywhere, the better.
The Atlanta Falcons went 0-5 for the first time since 1997 and thus finally ended Dan Quinn’s reign as head coach. It’s been one of the wildest falls from grace in recent memory. Things looked stellar for the Quinn until the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI. In sum, it’s fair to say he never recovered from that traumatic event. Since then, the Falcons have regressed on a year-to-year basis.
It’s been a tragicomedy really, as the Hawks posted two losing seasons in a row coming into 2020. Five defeats in a row swept away any goodwill towards Quinn and Atlanta finally fired him. This is a sport where the tiniest variables have huge impacts and Quinn’s biggest failure has been his inability to deal with that.
The wildest thing about Jacksonville being the worst franchise in the NFL is that they weren’t the worst franchise in the NFL. No, this honor goes to New York Jets. They finished with a better record than the Jags but tormented their fans over and over again. Adam Gase was totally inept while Sam Darnold had the season from Hell. But things got even worse for them when they won.
This might seem counterintuitive but the Green Gang was furious when the Jets stunned the Rams in December. While their players were ecstatic, the fans were not. This was because their victory cost them the number one pick. Their fans were set on tanking so that they could draft Trevor Lawrence but they couldn’t even lose properly. What a miserable season this was.
One of the wildest aspects of the 2020 season was seeing Brady in a Bucs’ uniform. After 20 seasons, he finally left the Patriots for pastures new. It’s always weird when you see a former long-serving member of another team wearing a new uniform. But it really doesn’t help that the Bucs’ bright red is totally in contrast to the Pats’ navy blue. In sum, we just don’t think that it will ever look right.
Meanwhile, Brady had major ups and downs on the field. From a pick-six in his debut to throwing for five touchdowns against the Chargers, it’s been fun. He also lost his temper on the sidelines at his offensive linemen failed to defend him properly against the Bears. Finally, he became part of the first home-Super Bowl-winning team ever. But more on that later.
To be honest, this was probably one of the kindest things that could have happened to the Jets. After a positive test, the entire New York Jets franchise briefly shut down. They proceeded to close their training facilities and went online to do their meetings. However, the result was false. The wildest part is that this was the second time that they received a false positive test.
In the middle of their summer training camp, they shut down after the same result. Of course, this is just following NFL protocols, so they’re not overreacting. But to be fair, they probably have the same chance of winning if they don’t show up as if they played the game. It might even cheer up their fans if they don’t have to see their horrible excuse for football. The Jets can’t do anything positive, not even a test result.
At the start of the season, NFL analysts raved about the Cowboys’ offense. Meanwhile, their fans were bullish about their chances of making it all the way to the Super Bowl. Roll on a few of the wildest weeks in the history of the league, and they’re looking at a very different picture. Barely able to win a game, injuries have decimated their offense.
Star left tackle Tyron Smith will miss the rest of the year. It’s a major blow to their hopes of making an impact this year because he’s one of their truly elite players and is sitting on a $97 million contract. Then Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury in a win over the Giants. Meanwhile, a whole host of other players from their roster are out with injuries. It’s been a dreadful start after such optimism.
Postponed games have become an endless threat to NFL games. Competition protocols have resulted in thousands of tests taking place every week. Thankfully most of these are negative but the few that test positive create chaos. The Patriots vs. Broncos game in Weel Five was postponed until a later date due to multiple positive test results.
First, Cam Newton tested positive – more on him later. Then Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore suffered the same fate. All in all, a total of four players failed the tests. This resulted in both the Patriots and Broncos receiving a Week Five bye in order to keep everybody safe. However, this is the new normal and could happen with any game.
It’s been a crazy 2020 for Newton. First, he emerged from purgatory to replace Tom Brady in New England. It made a lot of sense for Bill Belichick because he was a free agent and still has an excellent pedigree. But it was also a case of the last-chance saloon for the former Panthers’ star. His fall from grace since his NFL MVP in 2015 was stark.
But it’s been good so far. He has settled in well with the Patriots and added a new dimension to their offense. While the team as an entity is definitely weaker than the great Pats’ sides of the past decade, his contribution is valuable. We saw this even clearer when he was absent because of a positive test. The Kansas City Chiefs were too good for the Patriots without him. It looks like a decent match.
Let’s forget about outside distractions for a moment and focus on pure football. Texas has provided two meltdowns this season but Houston’s is definitely the worst. After bizarrely allowing Bill O’Brien to go full Emperor Palpatine and take control of the franchise as GM and head coach, it all ended in tears. However, tears of despair turned to relief after they finally fired him.
It’s been one of the wildest runs in recent NFL history. After losing their first four games of the season they finally got a Week Five win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. That was a damning indictment of O’Brien because he wasn’t there anymore. From wacky trades to shocking in-game tactical decisions, it’s been a wild ride for long-suffering Texans’ fans.
First of all, nobody likes wearing a mask. They’re uncomfortable and make your face hot. But you grin and bear it because it’s the right thing to do. If you don’t, it’s irresponsible. Now let’s multiply the implications of that by a thousand and apply it to an NFL franchise defying league protocols. That’s right, we’re talking about the Tenessee Titans and the wildest shutdown so far as they brazenly ignored the rules.
Titans’ players and staff didn’t wear masks around their training facilities as required. Furthermore, they organized public training sessions instead of going home when there were infections at their training center. There is already talk of taking away draft picks as punishment or even suspending head coach Mike Vrabel and GM Jon Robinson. It’s been an embarrassing episode for the Titans in an uncertain time.
This was a real threat to NFL teams and their hopes of making the 2020 postseason. In particular, the Titans will worry about this after their alleged antics as stated above. The NFL seriously considered the introduction of forced forfeits if teams violate their safety protocols. Not in their wildest imaginations could they have thought they were going to get away with this drivel. There has never been a forfeit in the modern era of the league.
You have to go back to 1921 when the Rochester Jeffersons and Washington Senators resulted in a forfeit. However, with a tight schedule and more games at risk of postponement, forced forfeits, or at least the threat of them will definitely be a stick used by the NFL. If one does happen, it will be one of the wildest incidents in NFL history.
We’ve already discussed Josh Allen’s emergence as a genuine star quarterback. But the good news for the Bills Mafia goes beyond that because their franchise returned to the playoffs. They made it as far as the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1994. Of course, this meant that there were many videos on the Internet of their fans attempting the wildest celebrations in the NFL.
There are multiple reasons why Buffalo has regenerated. First of all, Sean McDermott deserves all of the respect in the world for his job in New York State. Meanwhile, the Bills also benefited from sitting stable in a weak division. The Patriots and Dolphins are still transitioning while the Jets were dire. This was a massive opportunity for the Bills to become the dominant force in the East.
It looked like the Chiefs were an unstoppable force on a run to back-to-back Super Bowls. After putting a beating on the Bills, all they had to was overcome Tampa. They had already defeated the Bucs in the regular season. But injuries to key players left them decimated. At one point there were even question marks about Patrick Mahomes after he suffered a concussion.
Then, a horrible story emerged involving Britt Reid, son of Chiefs’ head coach Andy, and a Kansas City coach in his own right. Police arrested him on a DUI charge after he left a young girl in a coma following a collision. Furthermore, the Chiefs made the strange decision not to travel to Tampa early and instead trained at home all week. It was one of the wildest and most chaotic weeks ever.
Tampa’s Super Bowl victory was one of the wildest in recent history for many years. First of all, the Kansas City Chiefs were supposed to be an invincible force. But they looked ordinary against the Buccaneers as Patrick Mahomes proved that he is human. The most surprising thing about this game was not that the Bucs won, but that they cruised to victory in such a nonchalant fashion.
Meanwhile, all of the statistics add up to make this even crazier. Bruce Arians became the oldest head coach ever to win a Super Bowl. Furthermore, Tampa became the first team to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Then there are all of Brady’s individual accolades. This was an exceptional and unlikely victory but one that every neutral fan wanted to see.
The spotlight was on Brady all season after his move from New England. Many expected him to fail because of his age and the challenges of learning a new system. But instead, he won an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl ring. To put this into perspective, he has more rings than any single NFL franchise in their history. That is quite simply stunning and there will never be anybody like him again.
Brady even won MVP honors for his performance in the game. His efficient display was in stark contrast to Patrick Mahomes who had easily the worst game of his career. After a tough start to life in Tampa, Brady made it all the way to the winners’ podium and proved that he doesn’t need Bill Belichick to win. It’s one of the wildest stories in the history of professional football.
The wildest thing about this season is that we actually have a season. Of course, the NFL was always going to go ahead, because money talks. If it meant creating a bubble in the Saudi Arabian desert or moving the league to the moon you have to feel like they’d do it. A suspended season would be devastating. Even now it looks like they will lose up to $4 billion in revenue. Imagine how bad it would be if it didn’t go ahead?
Now the biggest question is whether or not they will be able to complete the season. We’ve already seen postponed games but that can’t be infinite. There may come a moment where the NFL has no choice but to adopt a truncated format when it comes to the playoffs. These are unprecedented times and this is one of the wildest seasons in memory.