We’ve been in this glorious new decade for two months now, but experts are just now releasing their NFL “team of the decade” lists.
What with the Super Bowl just ending and all, a list completed back in December would have been somewhat incomplete — though would have looked much, much better for the Colts.
The general consensus seems to be New England as the team of the decade, then Indianapolis or Pittsburgh in no particular order.
But where’s the fun in that?
And the worst team of the decade is always in this order — Detroit at the bottom, then Houston, then Cleveland. Not much debate there either.
No, as always the big debate is overlooked and in the middle. The real question is: What was the most mediocre team of the 2000s?
Immediately, there is one clear-cut front runner: The New York Jets. They were the only team to finish 80-80. They also had three playoff appearances, which would be very close to average.
But this isn’t an exact science, so let’s include Miami (79-81), Chicago (81-79), Tampa Bay (79-81) and Carolina (79-81).
So five candidates for the most mediocre, marginal, average team of the decade.
Average teams don’t win Super Bowls. So good bye Tampa Bay. Besides, five playoff appearances is too much.
This decade, 15 teams made the Super Bowl in a 32 team league. So both making it, and not making it, could be considered average. So we’re not going to eliminate Chicago and Carolina just yet.
Well, now we’re going to eliminate Carolina. Three playoff berths seems average enough, but they did make two conference championship games. That’s a little too good to be marginal. So good-bye Panthers.
So we’re down to the Bears, Dolphins and Jets. And as much as I didn’t want to crown the Jets, I think we’re going to have to. As much as I wanted to dismiss the Bears’ Super Bowl appearance, that — and their winning record — go against them.
And with the Dolphins, a team that had a 1-15 record in a season, and managed just one playoff win in a decade, is not mediocre. It’s bad. Plus, there’s the 37 head coaches, the Nick Saban fiasco, Dave Wandstedt’s mustache, Chad Pennington being a savior and Ricky Williams.
So I guess it is as simple as looking at a record. The Jets, at 80-80 are the most mediocre team of the decade. Getting a third playoff berth this year helps. So does having six quarterbacks lead the team in passing this decade — the aforementioned Pennington among them, along with the living legend Brooks Bollinger.
And let’s not overlook eight years under Eric Mangini and Herm Edwards — possibly the two most average coaches of the modern era, if not all time.
Let the Patriots be the team of the decade.
J-E-T-S! Average! Average! Average!