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Which non-playoff NFL Teams Can Turn it Around, and When? 

Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers leaves Lambeau after last loss of the season.

By Kalen Lumpkins

Kalen is a fourth year BGSU student from Toledo, Ohio. He is a sports management major with a minor in journalism. His primary sport interests include football and tennis, but he also has an interest in a wide variety in other sports, from baseball to hockey. His dream job outside of college is to be a sportswriter for an organization like ESPN or Sports Illustrated.

January 21, 2023

The NFL playoffs are upon us! They kicked off on Saturday, January 14th for ‘Super Wild Card’ weekend, and a trip to the Super Bowl has never been more uncertain. 

What is certain, however, is that not everyone will have the opportunity to reach the Super Bowl. 

As the dust settled in the last regular season games, the offseason for teams that missed the postseason began. Some teams ended the year with genuine optimism for the next season, while others ended with major concerns about the future. 

Here is where each of these 18 teams stands: 

COMING FOR THE CROWN

New York Jets 

Jets’ fans had to deal with plenty in their rollercoaster season. New York, led by Zach Wilson at the time, raced out to a 6-3 start, which included home wins against the Bills and Dolphins. 

All good, right? 

Well, yes, until Breece Hall tore his ACL in Denver. When he went down, the offensive flaws that the prolific rookie covered up were revealed, and they were ugly. After a 10-3 loss to the Pats, Jets’ coach Robert Saleh benched Wilson in favor of Mike White. Unfortunately, the points were still absent. The Jets would go without a TD in their last three games and end the season on a six-game losing streak. 

A disappointing end to a promising season, sure, but the Jets’ campaign proved that they are truly just a QB away from being contenders. With the potential offensive AND defensive rookie of the year on the same team, and the pending return of Breece Hall, New York has a plethora of weapons that will keep the QB of this team in a good position. Who that QB will be is the looming question this offseason, but if they get that question right, the Jets will be the last team you want to see on your favorite team’s schedule. 

Detroit Lions 

It is all coming together for Dan Campbell’s team. The start of the season was rough, as the Lions would lose 6 of their first 7 while allowing 31.7 (!!!) PPG. In the next ten games, however, Detroit went 8-2, allowing 20.2 PPG across that stretch while ending the year with the 5th highest-scoring offense. If the Lions did not take a stumble at Carolina, we would have seen Detroit in the playoffs, and they would have arguably been the best wild card team in the field. 

Despite the postseason miss, they jumped over plenty of hurdles like sweeping Green Bay and finishing with a +.500 record, among many others. There is also no need to look for another quarterback as Jared Goff has been ‘lights out.’ 

While this offense is fully capable of outscoring opponents in a shootout, the Lions should focus on their secondary to fully boost their Aidan Hutchinson-led defense. The fans can feel the atmosphere changing for their team, and Detroit is a quality 2023 draft away from being contenders. 

ALMOST THERE

Pittsburgh Steelers 

Just like last season, there was no reason that Pittsburgh should have been over .500 this season, but here we are. The Steelers started 2-6 in their first eight games and finished 7-2 in the final nine. Mike Tomlin and company found ways to win this year and the coach has yet to have a losing season in his 16-year tenure. 

Also, like last season, however, was the presence of the Steelers’ offense, or lack thereof. In Ben Roethlisberger’s last season, the Steelers scored 20.1 PPG. Replacing him with Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett has resulted in an offense that scored 18.1 points a game. It was hard to watch at times when the Steelers had possessions, but Pickett has shown massive improvement to close out the season. Along with Pickett, George Pickens has shown that the Pickett-Pickens connections will be a big part of Pittsburgh’s playbook. 

There is still work that needs to be done on both sides of the ball, but the Steelers are potentially a good draft or two away from returning to the franchise’s winning ways.  

Washington Commanders 

The Commanders sat in the last wild card spot for most of the final part of the season, and it seemed like their spot to lose. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in Week 16.

If there is one thing that this season told the Washington organization, it is that the franchise QB may not be on their roster currently. Sam Howell showed out in the season finale, but that is a very small sample to go on when you are deciding who to hand the keys of the offense. 

At the same time, though, this may be their best option next season. The defense ranks in the top 10 of many categories while the offense has playmakers like Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, so Howell will not be thrown to the wolves. The plan in D.C. should be to see if Howell progresses throughout the next season. If he does, great! If not, the 2024 QB class is expected to be stacked with talent. 

Things may look a little grim for the Commanders right now, but there are options in the future.  Choosing the right one will determine whether Washington competes soon or goes into a full rebuild. 

New England Patriots

We need to tell the situation here how it is. Mac Jones needs help. He has put the Pats in positions to win, especially in divisional play, but the receiving core has let him down countless times. 

Yes, Tom Brady was able to go 12-4 in his last year with New England with arguably less, but the Pats still seem to have a hard time realizing that TB12 is not under center anymore. 

Now, let it not be mistaken, the Pats do not have a bad receiver room, they just need an elite weapon. That could potentially be Jordan Addison in the draft, or someone in a trade (Deandre Hopkins?). Whoever it is, that elite receiver will free up the playbook and allow Mac Jones to be stellar. 

50-50

Los Angeles Rams  

Long story short, it was not supposed to go this way. The defending champs started at a decent 3-3 record, but it was pretty evident that this team was not the same as last year’s championship team. Add in Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp’s injuries, and the Rams would finish the season 5-12. 

The Rams still have the pieces that won them a championship, but can they be healthy long enough? Age is starting to play a factor in the roster as well, as retirement rumors have swirled around names like Stafford and Aaron Donald. 

Even if everyone comes back, will they be able to compete at the same level? We have seen how good and how bad this team can be, and it will be interesting to see which team shows up come the 2023-24 season. 

Green Bay Packers 

The Cheeseheads are in the 50-50 category for now because how next season will go depends entirely on Aaron Rodgers. Losing a receiver like Davante Adams would be a blow to any quarterback, even if you are the great Packers’ QB. The remaining receiving core dropped many passes and was not on the same page as #12 to start the year. 

Then came the emergence of Christian Watson, which helped Green Bay go on a four-game win streak to set up a win-and-in game at Lambeau Field. 

Instead of making the playoffs, though, the Detroit Lions would give the Packers a hard slap back to reality. This was just the second time the Lions swept the Pack since 1991, and the season finale was a true testament to where the teams currently stand. 

Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson have shown that they can be legit wideouts, but last year’s draftees could be too little too late to keep #12. If he stays, Green Bay can contend. If he leaves, it could be tough sledding for a few years in Wisconsin.

Cleveland Browns

Yes, the offense did not click in Deshaun Watson’s six games played this season. However, the Browns are in the 50-50 category because a full offseason with the team could build chemistry and help the former Texan to get back to his prime play. Cleveland has all the weapons, including some they do not fully utilize (Nick Chubb, cough, cough) to help with this task. 

However, when you hand someone $230 million guaranteed, you expect results immediately. The AFC North is not going to wait around either, as the Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers are all looking to be legit contenders for the division crown. 

The story in Cleveland next year will be Watson’s progression, and if there is not any, the Browns will have to fix what could be the biggest mistake in the team’s history. 

Tennessee Titans 

The injury bug hit the Titans the hardest this season, but they were still able to fight until the final game of the season for the division crown. This is just a further example that Mike Vrabel continues to find ways to win. 

Of course, Ryan Tannehill should be back next season, but will that make a difference? The Titans’ seven-game losing streak showed that this team has needs in more areas than expected. The Tennessee defense allowed 274.8 passing yards per game, the worst in the league. The Tennessee offense passed for only 171.4 YPG, 31st in the league, and the offense scored 20+ points just six times in the year.

Again, Coach Vrabel does a great job adjusting, but there is only so much he can do. With the Jaguars gaining momentum into next season, it is make or break for the Titans in 2023-24. 

Denver Broncos 

What seemed like a match made in heaven when Russell Wilson signed with the Broncos quickly turned into a nightmare. 

This offense should have been lights out, but instead, they ended up as the lowest-scoring unit in the league. Wilson lacked chemistry with his receivers, but the coaching decisions also played a part in this. Nathaniel Hackett put the Broncos in poor situations during games all year and constantly made questionable decisions.

Management made the right choice in parting ways with Hackett, and a new coach is exactly what this team needs. The next person in line should have an offensive mindset to help Wilson strive and find use in all the weapons he has. There are plenty of options, like Sean Payton or Eric Bieniemy, that should be able to accomplish this feat, and the correct hire will change the atmosphere in Denver. 

PATIENCE, FANS

Carolina Panthers 

The fact that the Panthers were positioned to win the division in Week 17 shows that this team can compete… within the NFC South. The division was a slugfest all season long, and the division winner, the Buccaneers, only managed to win eight games. 

The Christian McCaffrey trade turned out to not be the rebuild call that we expected it to be thanks to D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard, but it did show the problems that McCaffrey’s play was able to cover.

Carolina started three quarterbacks this year, and none of them was able to spark the offense. DJ Moore tried his best to help the QBs out, but he cannot do it himself. 

The defense, however, has shown that they can be a legit unit. The play of Jaycee Horn and Brian Burns helped the Panthers stay in most of their games. 

This will be an intriguing unit for whoever takes over as the Panthers’ head coach, but they should be prepared to take a few seasons to rebuild the offensive side of the ball. 

Indianapolis Colts 

If the Colts’ historic collapse against the Vikings told us anything, it is that the veteran QB angle is not working. Philip Rivers had a good run, but the Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan eras have fallen flat. Ranking in the bottom half of the league in most offensive stats, Indy is in desperate need of a new face of the franchise. 

Luckily for them, there should be a quality QB prospect when to Colts come on the clock in April’s draft. The team is young, so a rookie QB to build with the rest of the squad should pay dividends later. 

Let us not sugarcoat it, though, this team needs improvement everywhere. Opposing receivers had career games against this defense, while the offense could not respond to opposing teams’ runs if their lives depended on it. 

This team is a good 3+ good drafts away from relevancy but drafting a QB with the fourth pick this year will be a good start for a rebuild.

Atlanta Falcons 

Marcus Mariota was the guy for the Falcons to start, but Desmond Ridder is the better choice going forward. 

The Falcons were helpless through the air, but they ranked 3rd in the league in rushing yards per game. That does help take some burden off your QB, but it is not a good recipe when you are trying to contend for the playoffs. 

The same goes for the defense that allowed 370.8 YPG and 22.7 PPG.

Ridder should be the future and building around him should be the team’s focus for the next few seasons. 

Chicago Bears 

There are rumors that the Bears may trade their top pick instead of being on the clock first. Neither would be a bad idea, but Chicago may be on the top of the draft board this time next year if the defense is not addressed. The biggest problem is that the Bears’ defensive line failed to pressure the opposing quarterback or stop the run.

Ironically, the Bears ranked last in rushing defense and first in rushing offense. The offense is thanks to Justin Fields, but he is still learning to be a consistent passer. The receiving core is not giving him much help, so there might be a few drafts before the Bears are back. 

Chicago fans, though, should be excited about Fields’ play and should look forward to his next steps. 

New Orleans Saints 

The Saints find themselves in the weirdest spot out of the other non-playoff teams. They have a road win over the #1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles, but also a loss to the 4-13 Cardinals. 

That alone should show the ceiling and the floor of New Orleans right now. 

There is a large question mark at the quarterback position, and some offensive weapons, like Alvin Kamara and Juwan Johnson, have not been able to consistently produce under Dennis Allen’s system. 

One thing that has stayed true is the Marshon Lattimore-led secondary, which only allowed 184 passing yards per game. 

Maybe a quarterback in the upcoming draft will fix the Saints (C.J. Stroud x Chris Olave reunion?), but we will not know the state of NOLA until the draft concludes. 

UH OH….

Las Vegas Raiders 

In a hectic season that saw Las Vegas blow leads, play down to inferior competition, and lose playoff-potential games among other circumstances, one thing remains. 

Raiders’ fans are fed up. 

How does a team have the rushing yards leader, a receiver with 1500+ yards with 14 TDs, AND a defensive end with 12.5 sacks on the year finish 6-11? 

The Raiders organization would point the finger at Derek Carr, hence why he was benched the last two games of the year with the full intention of moving on from the veteran. This move, though, could lead to detrimental consequences for the team. 

Davante Adams stated that Carr was the reason he went to Vegas in free agency, while Josh Jacobs has stated multiple times that he is tired of how the team is run. 

Those are just two of the huge question marks right there, along with some others. Who will be Carr’s replacement? Are the Raiders going to lose their star WR and RB all in the same off-season? How will they be able to afford to have them stay? Will the defense ever be fixed? 

As usual, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the Raiders. If Jacobs, Adams, and Carr all leave, though, the 2023-24 Raiders could be an ugly sight to see.  

Houston Texans 

For a 3-13-1 team, the Texans found themselves tough to beat this season. That is a great sign for a rebuilding team, but Houston still has a long way to go. 

The Texans have the #2 pick in the draft (due to a heavily criticized win over the Colts to close the year) and they will probably use that on a quarterback. Houston needs work almost everywhere, however, and fans should be prepared for a 3+ year process. There were promising signs, though, like the play of rookie RB Dameon Pierce and rookie CB Derek Stingley Jr. 

The most important action the Texans’ front office can take is to be patient with the next coach. The situation here is not ideal and changing head coaches every year is going to keep them at the starting line. Whoever gets the keys to the team next must also be fully willing to coach through slow progress. 

If Houston finds that coach, it will be exciting to see the rookies of this team grow into NFL stars. 

Arizona Cardinals 

Watching Arizona fall into the position they are in now has been disappointing, to say the least. Just last season, the Cardinals were off to a 7-0 start and had plans to win a Super Bowl. Ever since that start, Arizona has gone 8-19. 

This run has resulted in Arizona parting ways with Kliff Kingsbury, and the Cardinals suddenly find themselves in a hole. The health of Kyler Murray also comes into question as the former Heisman winner recovers from an ACL tear. Deandre Hopkins coming back to Arizona is not a lock either, so the Cardinals could be coming into next year with even fewer weapons than what they had last year. 

The Cardinals are slated to pick 3rd in the upcoming draft, and whoever they choose will be coming into a mess. Fans will continue to look at that 7-0 start and wonder what could have been because it is going to be a while before the Cards get to that point again. 

The Fox and the Bears: John Fox Potential New Coach?

By Ellen Chlumecky

The Bears fired Marc Trestman was fired on December 29, 2014 along with general manager Phil Emery. Opening the dreaded head coach position for the Chicago Bears. A very heavy task filled with frustration, a rocky history, and aggressive fans. A dream come true, right?

Ryan Pace has only been the new general manager for a couple of weeks now and he made it his first mission to be on a serious “fox” hunt for a new coach. Now on Friday, January 16th, ESPN sources confirm that he’s already almost near to closing a deal with a new coach. Specifically they are looking at, former head coach of Denver Broncos, John Fox.  The Chicago Tribune have commented that Pace is just in the “getting to know you” phase with Fox. However, whatever the case may be there is a serious possibility that Fox may be the new head coach of the Bears.

If Fox were to get the job, he would be the third head coach since 2012, following the termination of Marc Trestman. Trestman’s two seasons went 13-19, which explains a great deal about his termination. The Bears have missed the postseason four consecutive years in a row due to the coaching of Marc Trestman and Lovie Smith. Not exactly an ideal situation for any new head coach to walk into, however Fox might be the man to rectify the somewhat permanent losing streak they seem to be stuck in.

Fox has been in the business for a long time and has a long list of accomplishments. Fox coached the Broncos to 49 overall wins from 2011 to 2014. In addition, he assisted them in winning four consecutive AFC West titles. He also led the Broncos to a Superbowl game, even though they ended up losing to the Seattle Seahawks, which is more than Trestman can attest. Fox also is a seasoned defensive coach and has been the defensive coordinator for teams such as: the Los Angeles Raiders and the New York Giants.

The Bears could use someone who has won multiple conference titles and a vast amount of experience being a defensive coach. John Fox holds a mentality of acquiring plays with mental and physical toughness, which could be a helpful attitude to hold. While Bears fans are upset, which is not at all unusual, about the deal, there seems to be no snags in the deal as of now. He may not be Ditka, but let’s be honest, who is?

It’s Ryan Pace’s Time to Shine

By Ellen Chlumecky

Ryan Pace is the new Chicago Bears general manager. He is now the youngest general manager in the NFL at 37 years old. While he may not be a native of Illinois, he seems to have orange and blue coursing through his veins. His main task is returning the Bears back to greatness. The first crucial step in this long process is to hiring the best head coach for the team.

Before Pace was chosen for the coveted position of general manager for the Chicago Bears, he had quite a track record. Pace was a four-year letterman as a defensive end at Eastern Illinois University. Pace was selected by the Saints to attend the Stanford Business School’s Executive Education NFL-Stanford Program for Managers. Pace spent the last two seasons with the Saints as the director of player personnel. He clearly has the qualifications and experience to take on this position.

George McCaskey, team chairman for the Bears, said that Pace won the job over very qualified candidates. The three other considerations were: Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson, Houston Texans director of pro personnel Brian Gaine, and Chris Ballard who was the former director of player personnel for Chicago and current director of player personnel for Kansas City Chiefs. McCaskey expressed that Pace just stood out. He said he was thorough, charismatic, and showed himself as a leader.

Immediately after signing the contract, Pace started conducting interviews with potential head coaches starting with Todd Bowles. Dan Quinn and Adam Gase have also been interviewed for the position prior to Pace’s contract being signed. While Pace wants the position filled as soon as possible, there is no indication that a hire will be found in the next coming weeks.

Pace’s next item of business is to evaluate the roster and the staff before making any serious decisions about trading or rehiring. An excessive amount of attention has been put on what Pace will be doing with the somewhat tumultuous career of Jay Cutler. He wants to get to know Cutler before making a final decision on his career.

This isn’t Pace’s first problem team that he’s had to deal with in his career. He had to deal with the New Orleans Saints during the height of Hurricane Katrina.  He clearly knows how to handle a tough situation but the Bears have been in a rocky spot for more than just a couple of years now. It is quite noble of him to take on such a mighty task as his first GM job. He’s clearly up to the challenge, but we’ll have to see if he can succeed.

Is One Game Enough for Dominic Raiola?

By Kaleb Page

The game of football is a violent game. No matter what the rules are or advancements made in the name of player safety; the game will always be a violent one. Within the confines of this modern-day gladiator sport, there has to be the mindset to play hard nonstop but at the same time there should be no intent to hurt someone intentionally.

Dominic Raiola is one of the key pieces to the offensive line of the Detroit Lions. As the center and a veteran in the league, Raiola is key in getting the line in sync and making protection calls to protect star quarterback Matthew Stafford. This past Sunday in a key divisional match-up with the rival Chicago Bears Raiola made a play that will compromise that offensive line.

After a short run that was stuffed by the Bears, the pile was still on the ground and the play was just ending. For Raiola it was an opportunity to take a shot at a downed player. Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson was still on the ground when Raiola ran off to the side where Ferguson was on the ground. As Raiola went to pass Ferguson he took a hop and stomp down on Ferguson’s ankle. This action instantly got the Bears furious and words exchanged between Raiola and Bears players.

Monday Raiola’s actions were punished by the NFL at the tune of one game without pay for the final week battle between the Lions and Packers. A game that will decide the division winner for the NFC North. The thing about this one game suspension that is leaving those not only in the league surprised but national analysts as well is that this isn’t the first time Raiola has acted this way.

Watching ESPN First Take this morning, both Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith agreed that suspending Raiola only a game is not enough. Just months ago Raiola was seen throwing a punch to the back of a defensive lineman for the Patriots head and then as the final kneel down was made he went at that same players’ knees intentionally (he admitted it himself). Over the course of his career Raiola has had up to six run-ins with the NFL league office sending him some sort of fine for his actions on the field. That is why many are thinking just a one game suspension isn’t sending the message to Raiola.

Antonio Pierce was a guest on First Take and brought up an interesting discussion point. He brought up what would happen to a defensive player if this same scenario happened, say a defensive lineman stomped on Tom Brady’s or Peyton Manning’s ankle; then what? Would there still be a one game suspension? He highly doubted that and I would have to agree with him. If the league really wanted to punish Raiola it should have been at least this final game and the Lions first playoff game (possibly even the entire playoffs).

If you haven’t had the chance to see the stomp by Raiola here is a video to show that along with some further commentary (start at 36 seconds).

After reading this post, seeing the video and its commentary, what are your thoughts? Think it was intentional? Think more punishment should have been issued? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Chicago’s Quarterback Woes

By Savannah Malnar

As the NFL season winds down, teams are willing to make more chances with their starting lineups. This is the case for the Chicago Bears, who have decided to bench quarterback Jay Cutler who just signed on with the team for another seven years for a total of roughly $126 million after the end of last season.

The decision stems from a season of less than impressive performance from the Bears’ quarterback, leading the team to their current 5-9 record. Fans and media are questioning this choice, especially with the backup, Jimmy Clausen, who went 1-9 in his rookie season in Carolina and has only three career touchdowns.

Cutler was told Wednesday about the team’s decision and was obviously disappointed about being benched; already rumors are spreading that he has played his last game in Chicago. Many media outlets are publishing articles about the possible landing spots for Cutler along with analyzing the possibility of Bears’ coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery being fired after this season.

A more objective source, Sports Illustrated, published an article with the headline “By Benching Cutler, Bears Make Statement About Franchise’s Future.” It stated that Trestman’s fate as coach is “all but sealed,” but he could possibly make a strong argument for himself if he can pull off a win against the 10-4 Detroit Lions while starting Clausen.

Sports writer David Haugh for the Chicago Tribune is convinced that this move by the Bears definitely marks the end of Cutler’s reign as quarterback in Chicago. Haugh said, “Starting Clausen against the Lions accomplishes nothing other than make everyone wonder who decided after nine losses to hold Cutler accountable for leading the league in turnovers.”

Obviously there is a lot of pent-up frustration in Chicago about the quarterback and coaching situation. On one hand, the team does not want to put the waste the massive contract that they just entered in with the quarterback; on the other, they don’t want to be stuck with a “has-been” quarterback. The team will have to observe Clausen’s performance and make a decision on how they will end the season. If Clausen finishes the season against the Vikings, I thoroughly believe we won’t be seeing Cutler in Chicago next season.

Drama in Chicago

By Kia Tyus

Offensive Coordinator anonymously bashed star quarterback Jay Cutler, Cutler then gets benched, a locker room full of confused players, and the media making the team look like the coaches and executives have no control. Yes, there is “Drama in Chicago”.

The Chicago Bears are having a terrible season and will defiantly miss the 2014-15 playoffs sitting on a sub par record of 5-9. Frustrations have been brewing for some time now.

Lately, the Bears have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Jeff Dickerson wrote an article explaining the recent headlines of the Bears.

Dickerson’s first point was how the Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer anonymously said that the Bears were having doubts about giving Cutler such a big contract. Eventually, Kromer came forward out of guilt and admitted that he was in fact the one that bashed Cutler anonymously to the media. The media tour the story apart and superstars like Aaron Rogers came forward and stood up for Cutler.

The second point Dickerson touched on was the recent benching of Cutler. The Bears announced recently that Jimmy Clausen would start verse the Detroit Lions on Sunday. This is an embarrassment to Cutler someone who has brought the Bears many wins, while Clausen has a terrible record in his stint in the NFL.

To me, this moves states that the Bears are throwing the white flag on the season. Why on Earth would you change the quarterback when you are getting ready to play against the best defense in the NFL? To me, it shows a lack of professionalism.

Insiders from the Bears organization feel that the coaches handled the Cutler benching way different from the Kromer incident. They feel as though Cutler’s mistakes were leaked to the media but Kromer received a slap on the wrist.

The last point that Dickerson made was that players are very confused about what is going on within the organization. While they chose to stay anonymous, they did say that they do not object to the benching they just feel it was handled the wrong way.

Yes, the Bears season is over and they have waved the white flag. Players have trust issues with the coaching staff which Dickerson says makes them feel “confused and uncomfortable”.

Dickerson did state however that the Bears could be playing the safety card with Cutler. In the 2014-15 season, Cutler is the highest paid offensive player banking $22.5 million. In 2015, $15.5 million and is guaranteed $10 million on March 12th. If they sit him out the last two games, he won’t get hurt and they could trade Cutler, which would save them $10 million.

Brandon Marshall Challenges Rival Fan to a Fight

By Savannah Malnar

Professional athletes are always expected to have professional interactions with fans of the sport. Whenever an athlete makes gestures or even yells at fans during a game, that gets media attention. But wide receiver Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears took interacting negatively with a fan to a whole new level on Thursday.

Many athletes run their own twitters and interact with fans through that social media outlet; it provides an environment for them to respond to fans’ questions and criticism publicly. This can be both good and bad, depending on the athlete’s composure on the site. Marshall lost his, actually challenging a Detroit Lions’ fan to a fight.

The fan tweeted at Marshall a screen shot of his own comments on an Instagram photo Marshall had recently posted. The fan, in these comments, said “Remember when you called Detroit the little brother?”, referencing a comment made by Marshall last season, and then two more comments highlighted with expletives and a personal insult to Marshall’s mother.

Now, Marshall could have ignored the tweet like many athletes often do to rude fans. Some athletes even reply with sarcastic or funny remarks if they feel the need to actually interact with the fan. But Marshall decided to reply with an “offer,” telling the fan that he would give him $5,000 to “get in a ring” with him. He then upped the ante, saying that if he (Marshall) lost, he would pay the fan an additional $10,000. If the fan lost, Marshall wanted him to do 100 hours of community service.

The fan replied asking him to raise the bid to $25,000. Marshall shockingly replied yes, and tweeted shortly after “And you have to apologize to my mom.” The fan never replied, and Marshall tweeted again saying “Deal or no deal bro? This is your chance to back up your talk and make 25k.”

Now, there may be differing opinions by fans on whether this is acceptable behavior by an athlete. But the media’s opinions need to be looked at.

First, both national and local Detroit (where the fan is from) media took it surprisingly lightly. The reports of the words exchanged were written in almost a humorous tone. What was most interesting was the local Chicago sport media. NBC Chicago published a short article on it, and in it was this statement: “There’s no word on whether or not the fight will happen, but in a time when the Bears’ locker room is already suffering from divisions, a lack of leadership, and a coach who is trying to hold it all together, something like this isn’t exactly a welcome distraction.”

Whether the fan knew what he was doing or not, he definitely hit a sensitive spot with Marshall. The underperforming Bears are 3-6 going into Week 11 of the NFL season compared to the Lions surprising record of 7-2.