Are Poor Teams Devaluing the NFL's Product?
The 2019 NFL season has a problem just five weeks into the campaign.
12:05 09 October 2019
There are too many poor teams wrecking the product on the field. The Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are yet to win a game. Not only are they not winning, the teams are also struggling to be competitive on the field.
The Dolphins have been the worst of the lot. It became clear in the off-season that they were committed to a rebuilding operation in the hunt for the number-one overall pick in the 2020 Draft. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the man that every team in the lower ranks of the NFL are after and another surge for the National Championship will no doubt help his cause
The Crimson Tide are backed at +240 in the American Football odds to win the crown, and Tagovailoa’s performances will be crucial to their hopes in another potential showdown against the Clemson Tigers. The struggling NFL teams will be paying close attention to his form and progress over the course of the campaign, although it will not please the league’s hierarchy to see them give up on the season after only five weeks.
Washington chose to fire their head coach Jay Gruden after their 33-7 defeat to the New England Patriots, although he had lost 11 out of his last 12 games in charge of the franchise. The Redskins’ front office will have been alarmed by the performances of the players on the pitch, but also the crowd at FedEx Field. Reporters inside the stadium noted that it was 70-30 at the least in favour of New England supporters, which has been a growing trend around the league. It was also the case when the Patriots played the Dolphins where in the past Miami have had strong support, particularly in their games against their AFC East rivals.
The NFL will be extremely concerned about those figures as well as reports as attendances are declining in other stadiums across the country. Empty seats are not a good sign for franchises, especially in the early stages of the season when the tone of the campaign for a particular team has been set. The Dolphins, Bengals, Redskins and Jets have started poorly and it’s only going to get worse, although New York could be bailed out by the return of their quarterback Sam Darnold from illness. Games featuring the four teams will not draw huge audiences on television either, further damaging the product.
As long as there are other entertaining games on to pick up the slack at the same time there will not be a noticeable difference for the league. However, they will not want the example of the Dolphins to be followed by other teams, especially with other promising quarterbacks beginning to emerge from the college ranks, including Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. The NFL will not stand for its standard of competition being devalued for long, especially if it leads to them losing money in revenue both from ticket sales and television deals. Teams may draw the ire of the league if this continues.