In the parity-driven NFL, many teams have successfully rebounded from a down year. These downtrodden clubs executed rebuilds flawlessly, bouncing back to have winning seasons, make playoff appearances and even go on deep postseason runs.
The Cincinnati Bengals recently became the latest team to pull itself out of the league’s basement, going from a 4-11-1 finish in 2020 to 10-7 in 2021, a record that was good for the AFC North title and served as a springboard for a Super Bowl berth.
Some of last season’s worst teams could follow in Cincinnati’s footsteps with a turnaround of their own in 2022.
All five of the league’s worst franchises (based on the final 2021 standings) are in various stages of rebuilds in wake of some tough seasons. Each still has a realistic chance to contend again as early as this coming campaign.
It won’t be easy, but these teams are all capable of taking a leap if they can show improvement and growth. With that in mind, here’s a look at the three main goals each of these organizations should be trying to accomplish in 2022.
New York Giants
2021 Record: 4-13
No. 1 Goal: Fix the Offensive Line
The New York Giants had one of the most roughshod offensive lines in football last year. Only two teams earned a collectively lower grade from PFF in 2021, with every starter outside of left tackle Andrew Thomas earning a backup- or replaceable-level score.
Fortunately for the G-Men help is on the way. New general manager Joe Schoen placed a priority on reinforcing this unit during his first offseason.
The team pulled off one of the biggest steals of the 2022 draft by selecting Evan Neal at No. 7 overall. The Alabama product was a top tackle prospect in the class—and a candidate to go as high as No. 1 overall—who makes an ideal bookend starter across from Thomas in the offensive trenches.
Veteran Mark Glowsinki earned a sizable contract to shore up the interior after another strong season with the Indianapolis Colts. Guard Jon Feliciano could be a value signing for New York if he can stay on the field after missing 15 games over the last two seasons.
Shane Lemieux might be the only starter returning this year aside from Thomas. The left guard only logged 17 snaps last year before going down with a knee injury that cut his sophomore campaign short.
Lemieux has to battle Ben Bredeson, Joshua Ezeudu and Max Garcia in training camp for the role, a competition that will likely result in a quality interior lineman earning a starting LG job with this much-improved unit.