Sunday, April 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Which of Florida's NFL teams is the worst?

This is embarrassing.

I mean, it would be one thing if Florida was lousy in hockey. That would be understandable. Our ponds don't freeze. We don't wear toques.

But football? We're supposed to know how to do football in this state. Heck, we're known for football.

We have beaches and Mickey. We know how to catch grouper and save par. We have oranges and sunshine.

And football, dagnamit. We have football.

Maybe we louse up elections and drive with our blinkers on and show up far too often in late-night monologues, but we don't mind because there's one thing we have always done really, really well: football.

Until now.

Do you see what's going on with the NFL teams in Florida?

If Sunday football is like religion in this state, we're all ready to turn into atheists.

Which team can you believe in?

The Miami Dolphins are at the center of football's biggest controversy. The Jacksonville Jaguars have won one game. The Tampa Bay Bucs have won one game.

The state of Florida is in a state of disarray.

It wasn't always this bad, you know.

The Dolphins used to have Don Shula and Dan Marino. They won Super Bowls. They still are the only team in NFL history to have a perfect season.

The Bucs have a Super Bowl trophy. John McKay and Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden coached here. Warren Sapp and Lee Roy Selmon and Derrick Brooks played here.

Heck, even the Jaguars twice came within a game of the Super Bowl under future Hall-of-Fame coach Tom Coughlin.

But these days, the three NFL teams are drowning in a sea of turmoil and futility. Who is the worst of the three? Let's take a look.

Jacksonville

For starters, the Jags play in Jacksonville — a city that's like 800 square miles wide and yet the only fun thing to do is drive to Daytona. The stadium is a canyon that covers up seats and houses a team that is 1-8 this season and has won only three of its past 25 games. If you don't count a pair of victories over the same team (the Titans), the Jags have lost 20 in a row.

Their quarterback situation is so bad that fans are begging for Tim Tebow. The whole team is so terrible that once a year we ship it off to London to play a game. Only a country that knows nothing about American football thinks this is worth watching.

The Jaguars' troubles are nothing that the right coach and a few decent drafts and a solid quarterback can't fix. Problem is, by the time the Jaguars get all of that, they'll be playing in Los Angeles.

Tampa Bay

Where do we start: off the field or on?

Off the field, the locker room is like a disease-filled Petri dish. That's not an analogy. A nasty MRSA infection has sidelined two players so far.

Then came rumors that the head coach — the star of billboards throughout town calling for his firing — rigged a vote so the quarterback would not be named captain. And now that franchise quarterback is with another franchise because he apparently couldn't work an alarm clock or a 7-yard out pass. The Bucs have turned to Napoleon Dynamite look-alike Mike Glennon, who may or may not be the answer.

The Bucs have won one game — against Miami, by the way — and now there's concern that they might win too many games to get a top draft pick. Well, there's not that much concern.

Miami

Up until a couple of weeks ago, the Dolphins weren't so much bad as they were irrelevant. That actually might be worse than bad. For years now, the Dolphins have been mired in mediocrity, winning six or seven while missing the playoffs and a high draft pick.

They haven't made the playoffs since 2008 and haven't won a playoff game since the 2000 season. This year, they started 3-0 but are now 4-5 after losing to the Bucs on Monday.

But forget all of that. The franchise is now at the center of this disgusting bullying case involving teammates Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. The owner, general manager and head coach are bumbling around like Moe, Larry, and Curly. Everyone is about to get hauled into the principal's office, and when it's all done, there likely will be firings and/or suspensions.

So who is the worst?

The Bucs might not be in the worst shape. If they can just find a quarterback — granted, no small task — they might start winning because there seems to be talent on this team.

And as messed up as the Dolphins are, this bullying case could be a temporary storm that will blow over soon. Plus, the Dolphins have something the other teams in Florida don't — a good, young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.

That leaves the Jags. They don't have a quarterback. And even if they get one in the draft, they are still several pieces away from being a complete puzzle.

Jacksonville is in the worst condition, but let's face reality: All of these teams are in rough shape.

Good thing we have the Seminoles and Gators.

Well, we have the Seminoles.

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