The success stories and failures of 2011

By Barry Wilner

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Dec. 26 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Many teams basically have been underachievers this season, including three — Cowboys, Jets, Giants — who still could make the postseason. While Tampa Bay has taken a huge nosedive a year after going 10-6, maybe that 2010 success was an aberration.

Clearly the biggest rejects are the Eagles, Chargers and Colts.

Indy, of course, can place a disclaimer on its 2-13 mark: Peyton Manning's absence. It's virtually unheard of for a team to collapse in the manner the Colts did without their star and leader, but it's still a valid reason for all the losing.

More troubling is how nobody picked up the slack until the team was threatening to go winless for the entire schedule. That could cost coach Jim Caldwell his job.

San Diego finally sprinted to a strong start under Norv Turner, going 4-1. Then it fell apart as Philip Rivers' struggled, penalties and frustration mounted, and injuries hit. Even though the Chargers (7-8) got back to .500 with a three-game winning streak, that's not the territory people projected for them.

"Every loss is disappointing, but knowing you are not going to the playoffs is even more disappointing," linebacker Shaun Phillips said. "There are going to be positives in your life, there's going to be negatives in your life, so it's what you do with those negatives."

They've piled up the negatives in Philly: The Eagles are sitting out the playoffs despite their talent haul in free agency.

Bringing in such prizes as cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, DE Jason Babin, DT Cullen Jenkins and WR Steve Smith raised expectations in Philadelphia. Most of the additions, particularly RB Ronnie Brown and backup QB Vince Young, didn't help raise the level of play, though.

"This is an unfamiliar feeling, an unfamiliar sight," wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. "I've never really witnessed this. It's a reality check. Look in the mirror."

What they will see is the biggest flop of 2011.

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