2020 NFL season in review: What went wrong, what’s next for eliminated playoff teams

The 2020 NFL playoffs began Saturday, which means three more teams will say goodbye to the 2020 NFL season.

The Indianapolis Colts were the first to exit the stage with games between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Football Team to follow. Three more games complete the super wild-card weekend Sunday and the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers will join the playoff party next week after enjoying a first-round bye.

So what’s next for the teams that were eliminated from the playoffs this week? NFL Nation digs in.

Indianapolis Colts (11-6, 2nd AFC South)

What went wrong: It’s hard to say something went wrong when you finish with double-digit victories for just the second time since 2014. But the Colts didn’t give quarterback Philip Rivers a one-year, $25 million contract to simply lead them to the first weekend of the playoffs. Owner Jim Irsay wants to win “multiple Lombardis,” but they haven’t won any since the 2006 season. They had the talent to make the postseason, but the 2020 season proved there was little room for error. And Indianapolis nearly had one error too many. The Colts didn’t qualify for the playoffs until the final week of the regular season when they beat Jacksonville and then got help from Buffalo beating Miami.

Biggest offseason question: Who will be the starting quarterback and left tackle in 2021? After spending the first 16 seasons of his career with the Chargers, Rivers proved critics wrong by showing he could still compete at the highest level. But he’s 39 and has a high school head-coaching job waiting for him in Alabama when he retires. The risk of keeping Rivers — if all sides want that to happen — is his production falling off and the franchise has to hunt for a new starter in 2022. Fourth-round pick Jacob Eason spent this season as the team’s third-string quarterback, learning behind Rivers and Jacoby Brissett. It’s unknown if Eason is ready to push for the starting job next season. The Colts could re-sign Brissett, who will be a free agent, or look for a starter via free agency or a trade (Carson Wentz or Matthew Stafford). Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo will be 33 in August and he, like Rivers, has not committed to playing beyond this season. Castonzo flirted with retirement last winter. The only player currently on the roster who might be able to fill in is All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson. — Mike Wells

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