Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott Cooper Neill/Getty Images

5 NFL Teams Who Should Consider Major Changes Without Winning Super Bowl Next Season

Brent Sobleski

A wise man once said, "If you ain't first, you're last."

Professional football tends to be a bottom-line business, particularly when a franchise reaches a point where it can't seem to break the glass ceiling to claim the game's ultimate prize.

Everyone in the NFL is laser-focused on winning a Super Bowl and building their legacy.

"I don't see bust. I see Super Bowl," Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell told reporters Thursday when asked if it's "Super Bowl or bust" for his squad this season. "I don't know what bust is."

But it's a process. Every organization finds itself in varying stages. Some teams are rebuilding. Others are fringe playoff teams. A select few are true contenders on a yearly basis. At that crucial point, the NFL turns into a zero-sum game.

Eventually, a team must find a way to topple the giant—in this case, the back-to-back champs, the Kansas City Chiefs—or go in a different direction. The latter option can be difficult to swallow but some teams reach a point where they're good but not quite good enough.

The following five squads find themselves on the edge, with the potential to win it all. If not, expect significant changes.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen surrounded by Kansas City Chiefs defenders. Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have been, arguably, the most talented NFL team for at least the last four years. They've made it to the AFC Championship Game once, while being bounced from the postseason by the Kansas City Chiefs on three different occasions.

General manager Brandon Beane already began a soft reset this offseason.

As the Bills roster started to get a little older, the organization decided to release veterans Mitch Morse, Jordan Poyer and Tre'Davious White. To be fair, Morse and Poyer are both 32 or older, while White only played in only 10 games over the last two seasons because of injury. But each was a key component to what Buffalo built under the supervision of head coach Sean McDermott.

Also, the organization traded its No. 1 wide receiver, Stefon Diggs (and a couple late-round draft selections), to the Houston Texans for a 2025 second-round pick.

Quarterback Josh Allen remains the key, of course. He's a legitimate MVP-caliber candidate, but things will be a little different around the franchise player this fall.

Despite that turnover, the biggest issue toward actually winning the franchise's first Super Bowl isn't the roster. The Bills still have a lineup good enough to rank among the AFC's best and find their way into the Big Game. However, there are those around the league who view McDermott as the primary stumbling block.

The onus is placed on the coach's "tight" demeanor and inability to take the blame.

"This job's too hard to fight from within and that's what you do there," one former Bills assistant told Go Long's Ty Dunne. "You're fighting against the head coach. You've got to overcome the head coach. This job is already hard enough. You've got to overcome all your opponents, all the dynamics. You've got to overcome so much s--t. But then you've got to overcome the guy who's supposedly steering the boat."

Another early playoff exit will almost surely signal the end of McDermott's tenure, with Beane possibly following.

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns feature a two-time winner of the NFL Coach of the Year, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the biggest guaranteed contract in league history.

These aren't the same old Browns, and they haven't been for some time. Expectations have been built by a winning record over the last four seasons.

Strangely, Kevin Stefanski's individual recognition isn't necessarily based on his team emerging as a dominant squad. Instead, Cleveland outperformed previous expectations in both of those instances either due to a previous regime's failures or injuries.

Those awards shouldn't be viewed as a safety net. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam went out and sank a fully guaranteed $230 million contract into quarterback Deshaun Watson. So far, his tenure with the team has been a complete failure through two seasons, be it because of suspension, rust or injuries.

The three-time Pro Bowler was brought in to finally give the Browns a franchise quarterback. The organization paid an exorbitant price to acquire his services. Stefanski even retooled nearly the entirety of his offensive staff this offseason in hopes of maximizing what the team has behind center. In doing so, he's dismissed all three of his initial coordinator hires over the past two offseasons.

Yet the 28-year-old old quarterback is entering Year 4 since anyone could consider him a viable starter.

The Browns are a team that wants to be taken seriously, with a need to win a championship. Top talent can be found among every single position group. Running back Nick Chubb (when healthy), wide receiver Amari Cooper, tight end David Njoku, guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, edge Myles Garrett, linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and cornerback Denzel Ward are all Pro Bowl/All-Pro-caliber performers.

At this point, it's all about the quarterback in Cleveland. If Stefanski and his staff can't maximize what they have behind center, either they or the quarterback shouldn't be with the team beyond this season. The Haslams aren't exactly known for their patience.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Dak Prescott. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys' lack of urgency this offseason screams incompetence.

Despite owner Jerry Jones saying the organization was "all in" multiple times over the last few months, the Cowboys have done next to nothing to improve their roster.

What's the old saying? Oh, yeah. "If you're not getting better, you're getting worse."

At 12-5, Dallas finished tied for the NFC's best regular-season record. Since that point, the Cowboys...

The final point is extremely important, because a clean slate may be the way to go for the Cowboys if they fall short yet again. Head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff are almost certainly gone if Dallas disappoints.

Prescott, 30, is also considering the possibility of walking as well:

"I allow that to the business people to say what it's worth. What they're supposed to give a quarterback of my play, a person of my play and a leader of my play. For me, it's about control what I can control and handle that part. The rest will take care of itself. I don't play for money. Never have never cared for it to be honest with you."

The amazing part about how Dallas operates is the front office appears to be the only one in professional football not capable of massaging the salary cap with void years or roster bonuses or multiple other ways to make the numbers work in its favor. Instead, the Cowboys have had to surrender quality players or move some because difficult salary situations.

Prescott is the starting point. An offer should already be on the table, because he's a legitimate top-10 quarterback. If that doesn't get done, the Cowboys might as well consider a full reset.

New York Jets

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The New York Jets, more than any other team in recent memory, are all-in for one season and one season only.

Everything is built around 40-year-old quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is coming off a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon.

In order to build around the four-time NFL MVP, the team brought in veteran offensive tackles Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses—both of whom are 33 years old. Plus, the organization didn't commit long-term to wide Mike Williams since he signed a one-year deal this offseason.

If healthy, the Jets do have the pieces in place to compete at a high level. Rodgers doesn't need to be an MVP candidate, not with running back Breece Hall, wide receiver Garrett Wilson and a much-improved offensive line (at least on paper). The veteran signal-caller isn't shying away from building expectations, either.

"I'm always confident, you know me, I feel like if I'm on the field and doing what I'm capable of doing No. 1, we've always got a chance," he told Mad Dog Sports Radio. "And No. 2, more than that, we're one of those, you know, half dozen to 10 teams that can win a championship this year. So that's what's exciting."

Furthermore, New York fields a top-three defense.

Obviously, Rodgers' injury after only four snaps with his new team tanked the 2023 campaign. His presence alone changes the math, but a potential championship window is only cracked open. It'll be slammed shut here shortly.

In order for New York to thread the needle, it must overcome the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins in its own division, then outpace whichever squad emerges from the brutal AFC North, possibly be forced to turn back an ascending C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans, then find a way to stop the Kansas City Chiefs.

The odds aren't in the Jets' favor. There's no reason to mess around with Rodgers for another season if things don't work out perfectly. Head coach Robert Saleh will have five mediocre years under his belt. General manager Joe Douglas is already on his second head coach.

It's all or nothing for this group.

Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

A little over 15 months ago, the Philadelphia Eagles played in Super Bowl LVII, which they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. Unless something drastically changes during the upcoming season, the Eagles may need a major shift in direction.

The Eagles took a step back in 2023 after losing offensive and defensive coordinators Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon to become the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals head coaches, respectively.

Neither of their replacements lasted beyond the 2024 campaign, with Sean Desai being quietly stripped of defensive playing-calling duties during the season.

Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni didn't skimp on his next coordinator hires, with two high-profile additions in Kellen Moore and Vic Fangio.

"We know those are really good coaches," Sirianni told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Have a lot of faith in them. It's the meshing of two systems to grow in both systems and put the best product on the field. That's why that's kind of stayed similar because we're going to be doing different things, but we're also going to be doing things we're successful at."

At the same time, no built-in excuses exist anymore. Moore and Fangio are well-regarded. The Eagles still field one of the game's best rosters, even with the retirements of Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox. General manager Howie Roseman upgraded the lineup among the secondary, with the first- and second-round additions of Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean, as well as Saquon Barkley's inclusion to the backfield.

This team shouldn't have finished its previous season by losing six of its last seven games, including a one-sided playoff meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Eagles are fully capable of a bounce-back season to get right back into the thick of where they were about halfway through the 2023 campaign. After all, the NFC is considered the weaker of the two conferences. But if Sirianni's squad continues to falter, a Super Bowl appearance two seasons prior shouldn't be enough to keep everything intact.

   

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