For eight frazzled fan bases clinging to hope for 0-2 teams, the early season has been a horror show.
History tells us the NFL's remaining rash of winless clubs face an uphill climb toward January play. Since 1990, only 12.1 percent of 0-2 clubs have bounced back to make the postseason.
It's no fun when your favorite team endures a pair of butt-whippings to open the year while every other fan base floats around on puffy clouds -- acting like they did anything to earn it.
I can't change your fate, but here's an attempt to lift your spirits. A little dose of hope for every 0-2 team still twisting in the wind as Week 3 nears:
If the Bills already feel like an unfurling tire fire, keep in mind that Buffalo's defense is massively shorthanded. Imagine what this unit could be next season, when first-round pass-rusher Shaq Lawson is paired with pile-driving inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. Neither rookie is on the field today thanks to injuries, while phenomenal veteran tackle Marcell Dareus is currently in exile serving a four-game suspension. Whether Rex Ryan survives the season is anyone's guess, but whoever coaches this unit next season will get all three of these players back, along with an entirely new draft class.
With or without Jay Cutler in the lineup, it's tough to get excited about Chicago's chances this season. The offense is flat beyond deep threat Alshon Jeffery, but the defensive core -- led by nose tackle Eddie Goldman and inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan (who, of course, suffered a thumb injury Monday that will require surgery) -- gives the club something to build around. This is a storied and gallant franchise, but one that lacks identity right now. How about using the season to decide if you really want to be a Cutler-driven organization -- or swing for the fences in the draft? Change can be a good thing.
Browns fans can only feel unleashed dread seeing Eagles rookie Carson Wentzfry their team before taking down the Bears on "Monday Night Football." Passing on what looks like a legitimate young quarterback is especially painful for Cleveland, a team already starting its third arm of the year in rookie Cody Kessler. What I'd tell Browns fans -- full disclosure: I've been one myself since 1986 -- is this: Take hope in the fact that rookie wideout Corey Coleman looks like a star in the making, even if he'll miss some time with a broken hand. With Josh Gordon coming back in Week 5, Cleveland has the makings of a fine receiving core, a creative coach who knows how to maximize them -- and a pile of future draft picks to use on a quarterback next offseason.
I don't like the way the Colts are constructed on either side of the ball. The roster has regressed under general manager Ryan Grigson, but there's always hope when you have the quarterback position filled. Andrew Luck is under contract through 2021, giving this regime -- or maybe the next -- time to re-energize this roster. More immediately, it's too early to count out the Colts in the AFC South. Both the Jaguars and Titans are vulnerable, meaning Indy can hang around despite its obvious issues. This roster, though, needs work.
An offseason of raging hype only magnifies Jacksonville's off-kilter start. Sunday's loss to San Diego was flat-out ugly, but how many other teams on this list can point to an equal bounty of young talent? People don't want to hear about "more patience" with the Jaguars, but the defensive core -- Dante Fowler, Malik Jackson, Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Tashaun Gipson and Jalen Ramsey -- has played together for a whopping 120 minutes. We need to see progress from coach Gus Bradley, but I'm not ready to bail on this ultra-young cast of players.
We've seen fleeting moments of promise this season. There was a stretch during Sunday's loss to the Patriots when Ryan Tannehillcompleted 20 of 21 passes (with a throwaway). There's talent for coach Adam Gase to work with on offense, as Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Jordan Cameron and Kenny Stills all played well in Week 2. Moreover, Dolphins players absolutely love Gase, who is seen around the building as an alpha male who works well with his charges. The defensive line is loaded, and Miami was one ugly Stills drop away from beating the Seahawks in Seattle. Gase deserves time to put his plan in place.
New Orleans Saints
If you listen to the Around the NFL Podcast, you know we have our issues with the Saints. You still have Drew Brees, though, and second-round wideout Michael Thomas forms an intriguing pass-catching partner with slot sensation Willie Snead. New Orleans looked disorganized on defense in Week 1, but the Saintson Sunday limited a good Giants attack to just three field goals. The team could also get burly first-round defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (who suffered a broken fibula in August) back later this season. Beyond that, hometown fans live in a whirlwind metropolis with some of the finest watering holes and live-wire street activity on the planet. Get wild. Get frisky. Get loose.
You want optimism? GM Scot McCloughan will have made the right move if Kirk Cousins continues to plummet. Instead of signing the quarterback to a loaded, long-term contract, the Redskins essentially have the franchise-tagged Cousins operating under a one-year, prove-it deal. It's not easy to start over under center, but whether it's Cousins, another veteran or a newly anointed rookie in 2017, the team still has a fine mismatch weapon in tight end Jordan Reed signed through 2021. McCloughan has his doubters, but I can't help but recall how much talent he once brought to the Niners and Seahawks.