Making the Call on Whether These Struggling NFL Starters Should Be Benched

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IOctober 1, 2012

Making the Call on Whether These Struggling NFL Starters Should Be Benched

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    The New York Jets need to bench Mark Sanchez, pronto.

    Mario Williams isn't going anywhere any time soon, on the other hand, even though he is the most overpaid, under-producing player in the NFL. 

    The 2012 season is still young, and many starting NFL players have failed to make a positive impact for their respective teams. Follow along as we take a look at which struggling starters should be benched and which ones should retain their starting spots. 

Greg Little: Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns

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    Making the Call: Starter

    Greg Little has a horrific case of butterfingers, but the Cleveland Browns should keep giving him chances to improve. There's no doubting his outstanding athleticism and speed, but this young man must stop dropping the ball. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Little has dropped five passes so far through four game, and at least one of them cost the Browns a chance to win their Week 4 contest against the Baltimore Ravens. 

    Still, he's tremendously gifted, and as long as this team is in its developmental stages, the Browns need to keep letting him start. 

Shonn Greene: Running Back, New York Jets

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    Making the Call: Bench

    I know that the Jets are struggling in every facet on offense, but the simple truth is that Shonn Greene isn't a starting-caliber NFL running back. He's at his best when he comes off the bench and serves as a complimentary back. 

    So far this season, Greene has rushed for just 191 yards on 68 carries (2.8 yards per carry) and has fumbled the ball twice. The Jets would be better off starting Bilal Powell, who has averaged 3.8 yards per carry and who is more explosive as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. 

Jason Witten: Tight End, Dallas Cowboys

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    Making the Call: Starter

    Jason Witten has dealt with a ruptured spleen in the early goings this year, so we're going to give him a pass for his sub-standard play to start the 2012 season. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, through three weeks, Tony Romo and Witten had only connected on 40 percent of their attempts, and Witten had dropped a whopping six passes. 

    I expect Witten to start playing better as the season progresses, and there's no way he's going to take a seat on the bench any time soon. 

Matt Cassel: Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Making the Call: Bench

    Matt Cassel isn't like a fine wine—he hasn't gotten better with age. 

    Through four games this season, Cassel has thrown seven interceptions and fumbled the ball four times.

    His play has represented the antithesis of what NFL quarterbacks are supposed to do, and I don't care if it's Ricky Stanzi or Brady Quinn—someone has to step in and keep the Kansas City Chiefs from going down the toilet this year. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick: Quarterback, Buffalo Bills

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    Making the Call: Starter

    Through four weeks of the 2012 NFL season, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been like a caricature of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, tallying league-leading touchdown and interception totals (12 touchdowns and seven interceptions). 

    As far as I'm concerned, the interceptions are correctable—some were from tipped passes—and Fitzpatrick's upside more than makes up for his turnovers. 

    The only chance the Buffalo Bills have of staying in the chase for the AFC East is with him, and he's not going to be benched this year. 

Ahmad Bradshaw: Running Back, New York Giants

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    Making the Call: Bench

    Ahmad Bradshaw looks old and slow these days, especially when compared to Andre Brown. 

    So far this season, Bradshaw is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry with one touchdown, while Brown is averaging 5.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns. 

    Bradshaw is a better pass-protector and pass-catcher, and the Giants would be better off using him on third downs, with Brown taking the bulk of the carries on first and second downs.

Luke Kuechly: Middle Linebacker, Carolina Panthers

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    Making the Call: Starter

    To say that Luke Kuechly has struggled so far in his rookie campaign would be a disservice to struggling folks everywhere, but this young man will benefit from learning on the fly. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Kuechly has been the worst starting 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL through four weeks. He hasn't made many impact plays, and of his 26 total tackles, only 12 of them have been solo. 

    Still, Kuechly has enough speed and athleticism to become an excellent linebacker in the NFL, and the Panthers don't have anyone behind him who can do better. 

Michael Griffin: Safety, Tennessee Titans

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    Making the Call: Bench

    Michael Griffin used to be one of the most promising young safeties in the NFL, but his play this year can only be described as horrifying. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Griffin is the worst safety in the NFL. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 154.2 when throwing at him, and he has already missed eight tackles through four games. 

    I'm willing to bet that half the league's wide receivers could do a better job than him at this point. 

Mario Williams: Defensive End, Buffalo Bills

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    Making the Call: Starter

    As if the Buffalo Bills had a choice in this matter, but still, Mario Williams has been the biggest disappointment of the 2012 NFL season after being signed to a massive six-year, $96 million contract ($50 million guaranteed). 

    Through four games, Williams has only tallied nine tackles (seven solo) and 1.5 sacks. He has been pushed around for the most part by opposing offensive linemen, and he hasn't made much of an impact for his team at all. 

    That said, there's no way he's getting benched any time soon.

Mark Sanchez: Quarterback, New York Jets

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    Making the Call: Bench

    For the season, Mark Sanchez has completed less than 50 percent of his passes and has committed five turnovers, and the New York Jets are a true mess on offense. Sanchez has no running game to speak of, his offensive line is atrocious and his receivers haven't done him any favors this year.

    That said, Tim Tebow could make lemonade out of these lemons and succeed where Sanchez has failed. 

    Sanchez's confidence is clearly shattered at the moment, and unless the Jets make this change soon, their entire 2012 season will end up being a waste. 


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