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Fixing the NFL's worst teams in 2020: Biggest issues with the Jets, Jaguars, Chargers, Lions

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Stephen A. and Max think the Lions owe Caldwell, fans an apology (1:44)

Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman are adamant that Lions fans deserve an apology for Detroit's decades of inadequacy. (1:44)

While NFL teams are aggressive about making changes after the season is over, what we saw over the past 48 hours would qualify as a bloodletting by in-season standards. After a dismal performance on Thanksgiving, the Lions abandoned their attempt to re-create the Patriot Way in Detroit by firing coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. On Sunday evening, the 1-10 Jaguars followed by dismissing longtime general manager Dave Caldwell, who oversaw double-digit losses in seven of his eight seasons on the job. Caldwell is already the fourth general manager to go down before we even hit the final quarter of the regular season.

As Caldwell saw during his time in Jacksonville, rebuilding an organization is hard. Let's run through the first steps that some of the league's worst teams should consider over the remainder of the regular season and into the offseason as they try to turn around their franchises. I'll take four of the league's rebuilding franchises -- including the Lions and Jaguars -- and try to carve out a new path for contention.

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Two teams that might be featured by their record but won't be included here are the Bengals and Cowboys, mostly because their paths largely involve fixing one positional group. For the Bengals, that's adding offensive linemen to play in front of Joe Burrow when the 2020 first overall pick returns from his knee injury next season. The Cowboys, meanwhile, need to add defensive backs to fix what has been a porous secondary in 2020. (After this year's events, it sure seems like extending Dak Prescott might be a good idea too.)

Jump to a team:
DET | JAX | LAC | NYJ

New York Jets (0-11)

1. Fire Adam Gase and replace him with an offensive head coach and Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. I'm OK with the Jets following the Rams' model to replace Gase and try to rebuild around the few pieces they have and general manager Joe Douglas, who is likely to keep his job. Phillips has a track record of turning around defenses quickly, and while the Jets don't have many pieces on that side of the ball signed for 2021, he can start with linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

The offensive-minded coach can be one of a number of candidates. Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs) is long overdue for an opportunity to serve as head coach. Kellen Moore (Cowboys) is a viable option. Arthur Smith has done wonders with Ryan Tannehill & Co. in Tennessee. Joe Brady's offense has been solid in Carolina despite dealing with injuries to key players such as Russell Okung and Christian McCaffrey. Any one of those four with Phillips would be a victory for the Jets.