Being 0-2 isn't a death wish in the NFL, yet it's not the situation any team wants to be in after two weeks. The chances of making the playoffs for an 0-2 team is extremely difficult. Since 1990, only 11.5% of teams that have started 0-2 have made the playoffs, with only three of those teams winning the Super Bowl (1993 Dallas Cowboys, 2001 New England Patriots, 2007 New York Giants).
Of course 0-2 is bad, but 0-3 is even worse. Teams that start 0-3 have just a 2.5% chance of making the playoffs (since the field expanded to a 12-team postseason format in 1990). Only four teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-3 (1992 San Diego Chargers, 1995 Detroit Lions, 1998 Buffalo Bills, 2018 Houston Texans).
None of these teams want to be 0-2, but this is the situation they're in. The panic meter is certainly on for these teams to avoid 0-3, yet which player, coach, or team are on the highest alert? This just doesn't involve Week 3, but the fate of their organization going forward.
Of course the panic meter will be the highest for the teams that need a win this week.
1. Brandon Staley
Staley was already on the hot seat heading into the season, needing more than just a playoff berth to earn another year with the Chargers. Instead the Chargers are 0-2 and Staley is already feeling the heat after his exchange with reporters in his postgame press conference after a Week 2 loss to the Titans.
Los Angeles is already facing another 0-2 team in Minnesota, a must-win game for both teams. For a team with high expectations like the Chargers, Staley has to lead the team to a victory. He has Justin Herbert at quarterback and a talented roster around him.
As a head coach with a defensive background, Staley's unit ranking 30th in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed is unacceptable. Another reason why he has to right the ship in Los Angeles. Winning in Week 3 is vital, but getting back to playoff contention is more important.
2. Matt Eberflus
What a week it has been for Eberflus. First his defensive coordinator resigns after being away from the team for a week due to personal reasons (so he's calling plays on defense). Then Justin Fields calls out the coaching staff during his weekly presser, only to backtrack his comments hours later.
Oh yeah, and the Bears are 0-2 and the worst team in what was deemed a winnable NFC South heading into the season. The Bears are 22nd in points scored and 31st in points allowed, while Fields is 26th in passer rating. The Bears play the Chiefs this week on top of all the distractions.
A must-win is an understatement. If Fields plays better, at least that problem will be subsided.
3. Justin Fields
Fields can blame the coaches all he wants (and he has a right to), but he also has struggled in his decision making and his ball delivery. The stats tell the story, as Fields has faced zone coverage the most of any quarterback in the NFL this season (89%). Fields still has the third-longest average time to throw (3.2 seconds) in the NFL, despite having the fourth-lowest average pass length since 2006 (4.5).
The deep passes haven't been there for Fields as 19% of his pass attempts are gone for 10-plus air yards (last in NFL). Last year they were 38%, showing the combination of Fields overthinking and the coaching staff not putting him in the best position to succeed.
At the end of the day, Fields has to perform. He says he'll play freer this week, but does that mean better?
No team has ever made the postseason starting 0-2 in consecutive years. The Bengals are trying to be the first.
This isn't the position the Bengals want to be in, but they've started 0-2 and reached the AFC Championship Game last year. They also have the schedule to get back on track (next three games are against the Rams, Titans, and Cardinals).
Is Joe Burrow fully healthy from his calf injury? Burrow is 29th in completion rate (56.9%), 32nd in yards per attempt (4.2), and 27th in passer rating (70.6). This would be a good week for Burrow to get back on track, along with a victory to boot.
5. Bill Belichick
The Patriots still are a tough out, yet it's telling they haven't seemed to win games consistently in the post-Tom Brady era. Belichick is 25-27 since Brady left in 2019 and is 79-89 overall without Brady, causing some questions regarding his ability to win games consistently without Brady.
This year isn't off to a good start, as back-to-back slow starts in games have led to New England's 0-2 record. The Patriots aren't exactly doomed, losing both games by just one score (and were a game-winning drive in the final minutes from taking a victory from the Eagles and Dolphins).
Winning 14 straight against the Jets is a good way to get back on the right track.
6. Bryce Young
Young hasn't practiced all week, but there's a chance for him to play Sunday against the Seahawks. His rookie season hasn't gone as expected so far, ranking 28th in completion rate (58.2%), 31st in yards per attempt (4.2), and 31st in passer rating (66.6). His 4.2 yards per attempt are the third-fewest by any quarterback after two games (minimum 50 attempts).
The Panthers are tied for 31st in points scored (they're tied for last) and are facing a Seahawks defense that's 29th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. Maybe this week is what Young needs to turn his season around.
7. Vance Joseph
The Broncos are supposed to have a good defense right? They rank 28th in points allowed per possession (2.83) and yards allowed per possession (36.1), while being 30th in time allowed per possession (3:25). In other words, they can't get off the field.
This unit was supposed to be the strength of the Broncos, yet are the reason behind the 0-2 start. Doesn't help Joseph was on this coaching staff before, going 11-21 as a head coach. The Broncos are too talented to have a defense this bad.
Denver faces Miami this week, so the defense will have its toughest test this week. The pressure is on Joseph to keep the Dolphins at bay. Fortunately, the Broncos have the Bears and Jets after that.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Another team that started 0-2, but this one was expected after having a negative point differential with 13 wins last year. The Vikings were 11-0 in one-score games in 2022 and 0-2 in that same category this year. Minnesota is also revamping the defense under Brian Flores, and is 22nd in the NFL in points allowed per possession (2.25).
The Vikings got consecutive winless teams on the docket in the Chargers and Panthers. They have the opportunity to right the ship, yet it will be hard with a poor interior of the offensive line, subpar running game, and a revamped defense.
9. Arizona Cardinals
Being 0-2 was expected in Arizona, even though the Cardinals blew a 21-point second half lead against the Giants. The Cardinals are well on their way toward getting that No. 1 draft pick (and they also have the Texans pick to boot).
This is a rebuilding year in Arizona, an opportunity for the franchise to put itself in position to select Caleb Williams. Arizona is already stockpiling picks to overhaul the roster with young talent in 2024 and beyond. So far, so good.
10. C.J. Stroud
This year was going to be a rough one for Stroud anyway, yet he's playing well despite being down four of his starting offensive linemen last week. Stroud has completed 63.7% of his passes for 626 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions (91.2 rating) after two games, despite being sacked 11 times.
Week 3 will be a tough test against an improved Jaguars defense, but this year is a developing year for Stroud anyway. He's ahead of schedule.