This is probably the longest -- and for that reason most regrettable -- version of the unPower Rankings all season long. Let it be known that I shall never dedicate this much time to stupid Power Rankings again!
I've spent time this year in this series looking ahead at what could be and behind and what was, but how about looking back at what could be? Why are the Jaguars where they are and the Seahawks where they are? What big moves did they make that they didn't necessarily have to make or what should they have done instead?
I know that I would make the best GM ever because I'm sittin' over here with my wine and can see plain as day that Star Lotulelei is better than Jonathan Cooper. You fools!
The most annoying guy in the room is the guy that not only thinks he knows it all, but that he knew it all back then too and would've done it differently. Well, with so many writers on Field Gulls, somebody has to be the most annoying guy. I think that's my niche, right?
Here's the reverse Power Rankings and a look at what each team did, what they should have done, and for the final 10 teams, what they could have done to make it all go wrong instead.
1. Jaguars (2-9) Last week: 1
What they did: Draft tackle Luke Joeckel with the second overall pick
What they could have done: Draft defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Big Cat Country endorsed)
It's easy to look at a player picked 14th and assume he would have never gone second overall, but Lotulelei was grading that way before reports came out that he had a heart condition. Right now it appears that heart condition is "loves to win football games too much."
An under-the-radar impact player this season has been Jags defensive tackle SenDerrick Marks, who has two sacks and seven pass deflections from the middle, but he's only on a one-year deal. Lotulelei will likely be one of the best DTs in the game for a long, long while.
Joeckel is on injured reserve with a broken ankle but hey, the team is 2-4 without him and they had Eugene Monroe at the time. It's interesting though that the first two draft picks with Gus Bradley were a tackle and then a safety. I seem to remember that working out pretty well in the first year of Carroll and Schneider, so maybe the same will happen for Jacksonville.
Why are the Jaguars still above the Texans despite beating them this week? Trust me, it's very, very close. We might actually be a week away from not calling them the worst team in the league anymore. (Some are already doing that, I'm still hesitant.)
Up next: at Browns
2. Texans (2-9) Last week: 4
What they did: Sign Ed Reed to shore up their secondary
What they should have done: Sign Dashon Goldson to shore up their secondary
Reed is about as easy a Hall of Fame pick as their is, but he may have parlayed his last few interceptions and a Super Bowl trophy into a contract he could no longer live up to. And by that I mean, any contract.
The Texans would've been wiser to sign the younger, better Goldson. Too expensive you say? Save money by not giving Arian Foster a five-year deal in 2012 that carries the same AAV as what Goldson got from the Buccaneers. There's only a few running backs in the league (maybe as few as three) that I would invest over $8 million per year in and believe it or not, Foster isn't one of them.
It's still unbelievable that Houston has the number one total defense in the NFL, but that's damning of the stat not praising of the team. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 92.4 and the Texans have just four interceptions as a team. That used to be as many as Reed could get in a month, but we shouldn't care about what "housta" happen.
Up next: vs Patriots
3. Vikings (2-8-1) Last week: 2
What they did: Believe in Christian Ponder for too long
What they should have done: Do better than Matt Cassel as insurance
Most likely Adrian Peterson gets to be "the Barry Sanders of the 2000s" and that's too bad. We all could see that Ponder was holding them back as they went into the playoffs and some thought that even Joe Webb was an upgrade. He wasn't but holy crap did you watch Webb against the Vikings? I've seen Rob Ford make better decisions! Take my wife, please.
Minnesota has made almost no effort in the last two years to avoid what's happened to them in 2013. Signing Josh Freeman -- Josh Freeman -- in the middle of your crappy season is not effort. Signing the worst QB of 2012 is not effort. Replacing Percy Harvin with a raw rookie wide receiver and an older, oft-injured Greg Jennings is not effort.
Well, it is. It's just poor effort.
The Vikings will get a new QB this year, probably in the draft. And Adrian Peterson will turn 29.
Up next: vs Bears
4. Falcons (2-9) Last week: 3
What they did: Thought the good times would just keep rolling despite signs that they weren't as good as their record might suggest
What they should have done: Like the Twilight Zone, found different dimensions
This one I really struggled with. Desmond Trufant has been a really solid player, Thomas DeCoud and William Moore seemed like really good safeties. Osi Umenyiora can't be that much worse than John Abraham and Tony Gonzalez came back...
But the Falcons can only do one thing on offense and when Julio Jones got hurt, they couldn't even do that anymore. With enough suck they'll get Jadeveon Clowney and that could be really interesting. Consider them the "San Antonio Spurs" of this draft, maybe.
(David Robinson got hurt one year, they sucked, got Tim Duncan -- for you non-basketball fans. Wait, if you're not an NBA fan then how does explanation even help?)
Up next: at Bills
5. Redskins (3-8) Last week: 5
What they did: Invest poorly in their secondary
What they should have done: Invest well in their secondary
All signs point to Robert Griffin III when they win and all fingers point to Robert Griffin III when they lose. But teams can win with the way he's played for most of this season, even if you could make the argument that if you have to ask him to be a pocket passer instead of allowing him to play the way that made him so successful, maybe he's not ready to play.
But the Redskins suck because their defense sucks. Especially their secondary.
By dealing for RGIII they had to try and find starting talent after day one in the last two drafts and stick with players like Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall at corner in the meantime. They were concerned enough about Griffin on draft day to take Kirk Cousins in the fourth round over a player like Brandon Boykin. They picked a corner and two safeties in the 2013 draft but are they asking them to do too much as rookies?
They didn't sign someone like Goldson or trade for someone like Darrelle Revis (not that they had the resources to do so, because of their acquisition of Griffin) and yet their fifth-highest cap number belongs to Josh Morgan.
Yes, the wide receiver Josh Morgan.
Blame RGIII all you want for him supposedly not blaming himself, but maybe he his right. The whole team is pretty crappy right now.
Up next: vs Giants
6. Raiders (4-7) Last week: 8
What they did: Trade down to take DJ Hayden and Menelik Watson
What they should have done: Trade down to take Lotulelei and Watson
Is it crazy that GM Reggie McKenzie almost made the perfect move? The top 12 of the draft looks kinda "iffy" right now but he went down from three to 12 in a deal with the Dolphins and was right there to take a bunch of good players. He went with Hayden and hey, maybe he becomes a star, but you know who's already a star? Star.
Watson was a fine pick, I guess. He could have also had Kawann Short which would be interesting to consider, considering.
It's almost like the Raiders are at least getting a little better in the draft. Progress!
Up next: at Cowboys
7. Bills (4-7) Last week: 9
What they did: Figured that now basically any rookie could lead you to the playoffs
What they should have done: There's only one Russell Wilson, baby!
EJ Manuel seems to be a fine first-year quarterback and the drop-off to Thad Lewis wasn't as dramatic as we might have expected. If there's one interesting aspect of Doug Marrone's offense, it's that CJ Spiller has been rendered as only a shell of his former self.
Would be interesting to see if he became a "bigger Darren Sproles" and caught 80-90 passes instead of being asked to carry it as much.
Also, maybe Manuel will lead the Bills to the playoffs!
Up next: vs Falcons
8. Packers (5-5-1) Last week: 10
What they did: Believed their success had something to do with things other than Aaron Rodgers
What they should have done: Not believed that.
The team is 0-3-1 now without Rodgers after going 40-13 with him in the previous 53 regular season games, plus a championship.
They'll need to go back to investing in quality backups, something that they have seriously flubbed in 2013. As is, they are probably worse than their ranking, which is still pretty bad.
Up next: at Lions
9. Buccaneers (3-8) Last week: 6
What they did: Hired and kept Greg Schiano
What they should have done: Hired and fired Schiano on the same day to show that they would obviously never go in that direction
What they might do: Keep Schiano again!
College coaches are "in" again with the NFL and that's probably going to keep happening for the foreseeable future. Even though Schiano still proves that not every college hire is a good one. Three wins in a row though and now it's like "Hmm, maybe not so bad!"
No, no, no, no. You haven't made the playoffs in six years and you already gave Raheem Morris one too many seasons.
Up next: at Panthers
10. Titans (5-6) Last week: 7
What they did: Gave into Chris Johnson's demands
What they should have done: Told him to go to heck
It's because of players like Chris Johnson that I refuse to invest heavily in running backs, especially when their greatest success came early. How many running backs can we name that had one good season? Outside of his 2,000-yarder, Johnson has proven to be a "good" running back at best and the worst running back at worst.
He possesses speed that few players ever have but that's not enough to make him the highest-paid player on the team. A decent running back could be had in basically any draft for a second or third round pick. This year's second round included Eddie Lacy, Christine Michael, Gio Bernard, Montee Ball and Le'Veon Bell.
I'd be fine with any of those over Johnson and his $12 million cap number.
The Titans might be the six seed in the AFC but I don't expect that to hold and it effects my ranking of them nil.
Up next: at Colts
11. Browns (4-7) Last week: 17
What they did: Drafted Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden in the first round of 2012
What they should have done: Why? Why? Why do you keep doing this to yourself Cleveland?
First they dealt their pick to Atlanta so that the Falcons could draft Julio Jones. Then they used that extra first round pick on... Weeden. Which does nothing to dissuade me from lambasting their pick of a running back with the third overall selection.
At least they get a suddenly-rising first round pick from the Colts.
Is it too early in these unPower Rankings to once again mention that Ryan Grigson won Executive of the Year over John Schneider?
Up next: vs Jaguars
12. Jets (5-6) Last week: 16
What they did: Draft Sheldon Richardson
What they should have done: Draft Eric Reid?
What John Butchko at Gang Green Nation had to say about taking Richardson:
The Sheldon Richardson pick for the Jets is an interesting case study in BPA vs. need in the Draft. The Jets really couldn't ask more than what they've gotten from Richardson, but they also have five other interior linemen ranging from good to great and holes all over the roster, particularly the skill positions on offense. They also had to relocate their 2012 first rounder Quinton Coples to the edge to make room for Richardson, and that isn't really panning out so far. I'm not really sure whether it was the right move or not, but it's an interesting launching point for discussion.
The Jets have the best run defense in the NFL and Richardson is certainly a part of that. But it is also true that they are overall, terrible. Pass defense is more important than run defense and Reid is already a very good safety. (Not to mention it keeps him out of San Francisco, which is nice for us.)
It was bad enough at safety for the Jets to sign that Reed guy mentioned above.
Up next: vs Dolphins
13. Rams (5-6) Last week: 11
What they should have done: What's happening?
The Rams have now blown out the Colts and Bears with Clemens at quarterback. The NFC West's worst team would probably win at least four other divisions.
Up next: at 49ers
14. Dolphins (5-6) Last week: 13
What they did: Traded up to take Dion Jordan
What they should have done: Not traded up for Jordan, trade up for Johnson, fire Jeff Ireland long ago... you pick!
Jordan was an odd selection at the time, is even odder now, and Miami had plenty of other holes to fill. They could have even taken Watson with the second round pick they sent to Oakland, stayed where they were, and drafted Lotulelei, Richarson, Cordarrelle Patterson...
Surprisingly, other than a blowout to the Saints, the Dolphins other five losses are all relatively close and to some pretty good teams. They might be the sixth best team in the AFC. Oh what a crappy conference it is.
The Phinsider's Kevin Nogle had a different take though:
I'm happy with the Dolphins move to get Dion Jordan. The way the coaches have slow played him this year has been frustrating, but that's on them and not on him. When he's on the field, he is making his presence felt. Given that the Dolphins had an extra second round pick, moving up made sense, and, altough it was a surprise at the time, the move was a great one.
Up next: at Jets
15. Giants (4-7) Last week: 14
What they did: Take an extra long summer break
What they should have done: Played games prior to Week 7
In their 0-6 start: 34.8 points per game allowed.
In their 4-1 record since: 14.2 points per game allowed.
It's a rather fascinating season to watch unfold but even winning the rest of their games probably won't matter since they were swept by the Cowboys and split with the Eagles.
Up next: at Redskins
16. Steelers (5-6) Last week: 12
What they did: Lost to five crappy teams and got destroyed by the Patriots
What they should have done: Won those games and not sucked so much, you sucky suckers.
I would probably put my money on the winner of this weekend's game between the Steelers and Ravens as the eventual wild card winner in the AFC. It will be cool when an 8-8 team represents the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Up next: at Ravens
17. Chargers (5-6) Last week: 18
What they did: Gave John Pagano a lifetime deal?
What they should have done: Hired somebody else?
Pagano has been with San Diego since 2002, which means he's been kept on by three different head coaches. He was promoted to defensive coordinator last season by Norv Turner and kept there this year by Mike McCoy. The Chargers are 31st in net yards per pass attempt allowed and 31st in yards per carry allowed.
I always believe that player talent comes first, and San Diego's defense is pretty talentless outside of Eric Weddle, but they're just terrible. Did you see Alex Smith on Sunday? He didn't suck!
Up next: vs Bengals
18. Ravens (5-6) Last week: 15
What they did: Made Joe Flacco the highest-paid quarterback
What they should have done: Watched Joe Flacco
The total value of Matthew Stafford's NEW contract is $53 million with $41 million guaranteed. The total value of Flacco's is $120 million (most ever) with $29 million guaranteed. Which would you rather have?
Flacco is having the worst season of his career, but he was never "great." Sometimes, he was good.
Up next: vs Steelers
19. Bears (6-5) Last week: 21
What they did: Stuff
What they should have done: I don't know
Before the season, I actually pegged the Bears as maybe the biggest thing standing in the way of Seattle. Now they're just... there. There's been some close losses and I think it's still possible that they're better than this.
Up next: at Vikings
20. Lions (6-5) Last week: 22
What they did: Let Cliff Avril walk, draft Ziggy Ansah
What they should have done: Re-sign Avril, go ahead and draft Ansah, heck sign Michael Bennett too!
I know who Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Ansah are, but I don't know who Willie Young is. I've never heard of Ashlee Palmer. They've got very little pass rush and they're playing a lot of no-names and young players and Jim Schwartz probably only had this year to save his job.
They should have gotten more veteran help, the defense is bad.
Up next: vs Packers
21. Cowboys (6-5) Last week: 19
What they did: Replaced Rob Ryan with Monte Kiffin and trust the players they had on defense already
What they should have done: None of that
Am I sold on Ryan because the Saints defense is all of a sudden so successful? Ehh... I don't know, but the Cowboys defense is awfully crappy.
They have a few talented players but maybe adding someone like Elvis Dumervil or Sean Smith in free agency would have helped? If they couldn't afford that, maybe re-thinking previous deals given to Brandon Carr and Miles Austin (for example) would've been good.
Up next: vs Raiders
22. Eagles (6-5) Last week: 20
What they did: Named Michael Vick the winner of a quarterback competition!
What they should have done: Named Nick Foles the winner of a quarterback competition!
Shit, revisionist history at it's finest right there. Right now Foles is the best quarterback in the history of ever but would he be that if he had started the other six games? If that was true, then Foles would be on pace for 51 touchdowns and no interceptions.
In all likelihood, he's probably only as good as 48 touchdowns and two interceptions, so pump your brakes people!
Up next: vs Cardinals
23. Colts (7-4) Last week: 25
What they did: Draft Andrew Luck
What they could have done: Draft Robert Griffin
Truth be told, neither one of them have been very hot lately. I don't think that I could sit in the same room with a Colts fan if you asked us to debate whether Luck was better than Wilson. (Their numbers are so ridiculously far apart by now... but Luck is tall!)
But given everything we know today, I think you still build around Luck over Griffin and that wasn't a slam dunk on draft day.
Up next: vs Titans
24. Bengals (7-4) Last week: 23
What they did: Draft AJ Green and Andy Dalton
What they could have done: Draft Jake Locker and Titus Young
Cincinnati needed a QB and a WR on draft day in 2011 and they opted to go with the high-end weapon first and hope that taking a QB in the second round would be okay. Remember that in 2011, drafting a quarterback after the first round and expecting him to start was not cool yet. The Bengals were quite the hipsters in that regard.
Up next: at Chargers
25. Chiefs (9-2) Last week: 26
What they did: Made low-risk moves to get better at their worst position immediately
What they could have done: Panicked and draft a QB first overall because that's "what you do."
Nobody needed a QB worse than the Cardinals and Chiefs. The Cards acquired Carson Palmer and the Chiefs acquired Alex Smith. Both moves seem to be working out okay because both teams already had some very talented defenses.
Maybe Smith isn't great but can you imagine how bad Kansas City would be with Geno Smith right now?
Of note: The Chiefs have allowed 68 points in their last two games after allowing 111 over their first nine. I think I predicted a 8-0 start and a 12-4 finish for KC. That record seems very reasonable.
Up next: vs Broncos
26. Cardinals (7-4) Last week: 24
What they did: Hired an offensive coach for a defensive team
What they could have done: Promoted Ray Horton
Not that there is anything wrong with Horton but I think it is interesting that the Cardinals went with Bruce Arians instead. Their defense is so talented that they felt they were already set there but the offense was just gross. They've scored 20 points in nine of their 11 games.
Last season they scored 20 points just once over the final 12 games.
Up next: at Eagles
27. 49ers (7-4) Last week: 27
What they did: I won't say nice things about the Niners
What they could have done: Nope, I can't do it!
Hey look at how silly they look with only two guys that can catch the football!
Even with the return of Michael Crabtree, I still imagine that receiver is one of the hardest positions to get back "up to speed with" in the NFL, as it were.
Up next: vs Rams
28 Broncos (9-2) Last week: 31
What they did: Sign Peyton Manning
What they could have done: Stuck with Tim Tebow
Up next: at Chiefs
29. Saints (9-2) Last week: 29
What they did: Kept Sean Payton, added Ryan, drafted Kenny Vaccaro
What they could have done: Blown it up amid suspensions
It's not as though the Saints were necessarily even close to firing their very successful head coach but they certainly could have gone that way during that time. Instead they took their one year penance, got a new defensive coordinator for the league's worst defense, and focused on stopping the pass first and foremost.
They don't run, they don't stop the run, but they're 9-2 and the biggest threat facing Seattle... For now.
Up next: at Seahawks, MNF
30. Patriots (8-3) Last week: 28
What they could have done: Gotten nostalgic
Is it weird to think that the Patriots actually never won a Super Bowl with Welker? Amendola isn't producing at the level that Welker did but clearly New England isn't playing the same brand of football that they did a year ago.
Belichick might be in the middle of his most successful regular season-to-date, considering that they've had to work with a fraction of what they've had in the last five years or so on offense. Drafting Chandler Jones 21st overall in 2012 also shows they can still pick some good ones.
Up next: at Texans
31. Panthers (8-3) Last week: 30
What they did: Draft Star, Short
What they could have done: Get "someone to finally play opposite of Steve Smith" and Le'Veon Bell or something
I was actually surprised about talk at draft time that getting a stud defensive tackle would all of a sudden make the Panthers defense great. Of course, it's not as simple as that sentence makes it out to be.
Carolina had plenty of talented players on defense already, now they just have a couple more. Their game on Sunday against the Dolphins wasn't ideal but a road win is a road win. Are the Panthers last year's Seahawks?
Up next: vs Buccaneers
32. Seahawks (10-1) Last week: 32
What they did: Took a "chance" on a man named Carrington
What they could have done: Drafted a lot of crappy quarterbacks
I wasn't a religious man until Russell Wilson came along but by the grace of God we have him and not Mark Sanchez. And not Tim Tebow. And not Colt McCoy. And not Kevin Kolb. And not Kaepernick or Dalton or Ryan Mallett.
Just him. Not them. Whoop. Whoop.
Up next: vs Saints, MNF