Gauging the Temperature for Top NFL Players on the Hot Seat
We are now five weeks through the 2012 NFL regular season and mostly everything hasn't gone according to plan.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints have a combined 8-11 record. Meanwhile, the likes of the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts possess a 13-6 record.
That's a joke, right?
What this does mean is that there are multiple players, who were considered upper-echelon, in the proverbial hot seat as I type this article.
So, with further ado, let's take a look.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
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Temperature: 125 degrees.
Ryan Fitzpatrick continued his disastrous recent display against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. While he only threw one interception, the veteran quarterback led an offense that compiled just over 200 total yards.
The Ivy League alum has now thrown 17 interceptions in his last nine games for an average of one pick every 18 times he attempts a pass.
Those statistics just aren't sustainable, especially considering how bad the Buffalo Bills defense has been this season. They just cannot afford to keep running a quarterback out there that is turning it over at this clip.
It really is that simple!
Matt Cassel, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
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Temperature: 110 degrees.
Let me get this out of the way immediately. No player deserves to hear his home fans cheer an injury to the head...Absolutely no player. That was a disgusting display in Arrowhead on Sunday.
With that out of the way, Matt Cassel no longer deserves to be the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only do their fans deserve more, this organization and the players deserve more.
It is a story that has been repeated over and over again. Cassel either throws the ball into tight windows, the end result being an interception, or coughs the ball up in the backfield.
The idea of actually hanging onto the ball is basic in its premise. Don't throw into double coverage and cover up the ball when you feel pressure behind you. While that doesn't seem too difficult, Cassel continually has issues in both regards.
Kansas City has now turned the ball over 19 times in five games...Yes, that is about an average of four per outing. Seriously, this just isn't sustainable.
While Brady Quinn leaves a lot to be desired, it can be expected that he will put the Chiefs offense in a better situation to succeed. Hell, a majority of the backup quarterbacks in the NFL would.
Success as it relates to Kansas City's offense starts and ends with Jamaal Charles. Don't turn the ball over, give him it 20-to-25 times a game and manage the offense. Cassel isn't even able to do that at this point.
Greg Little, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns
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Temperature: 180 degrees.
The only thing keeping Greg Little on the field is the fact that the Cleveland Browns are lacking wide-receiver weapons on the outside for Brandon Weeden. Though, Pat Shurmur and Co. have obviously put the young wide receiver in their doghouse.
Little didn't catch a single pass and was only targeted twice against the New York Giants on Sunday. His major issue since coming out of North Carolina in 2011 has been drops, and he recorded yet another one this week on just those two targets.
It also seems that Little was losing out on some playing time to youngster Jordan Norwood. This is not a great sign considering that Cleveland was without Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi.
Little's seat is so hot that it could be noted it's about the temperature of a deep-fat fried Butterfinger, pun definitely intended.
Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
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Temperature: 80 degrees.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Tennessee Titans are going to keep running Chris Johnson out there with hopes that he is able to bounce back.
Outside of a stellar performance against the Houston Texans in Week 4, Johnson has been one of the most unproductive starting running backs in the National Football League.
Johnson is averaging less than three yards a pop, is on pace for less than 700 rushing yards and hasn't scored a touchdown in five games this season.
The former NFL rushing king will get his carries considering that Javon Ringer is going to miss four-to-six weeks with a torn MCL. At this point, Jamie Harper just isn't a viable option to take a ton of carries away from Johnson.
That being said, there remains a good chance that Tennessee just cuts ties with Johnson following the 2012 season if he doesn't get the ship righted throughout the remaining 11 games of the year. After all, they cannot afford a $12 million cap hit next year for an unproductive player.
Mario Williams, Defensive End, Buffalo Bills
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Temperature: 75 degrees.
Let's get one thing straight. Mario Williams, who signed a six year, $100 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in March, isn't going to lose his starting job anytime soon.
That doesn't mean that "Super Mario" isn't feeling any heat right now. He was brought on to help rebuild a defense that struggled a great deal last season. However, it has been much of the same for this unit in 2012.
Buffalo has yielded 97 points and over 1,200 yards in the last two games, by far one of the worst stretches in the modern history of the National Football League. They are the first team in league history to yield at least 550 yards in two consecutive games.
In short, Williams just isn't getting the job done. He has recorded a total of 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks in five games.
Michael Vick, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
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Temperature: 100 degrees.
Michael Vick has turned the ball over a total of 11 times in five games and is currently on pace to cough it up a total of 35 times this season.
Despite these issues, the Philadelphia Eagles are 3-2 and in first place in the NFC East. Just imagine where they would be if Vick and Co. played it a little closer to the vest on the offensive side of the ball.
With the type of defense that Philadelphia has shown through the first five games of the season, they don't need to score 30-plus points on a consistent basis. Instead, they need to become prolific in their opportunities and get LeSean McCoy involved more on offense.
Let's see where this team is in another three or four weeks. If they struggle through what promises to be a difficult stretch against the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints we could, once again, hear birdies talk about Nick Foles as a viable option.
Of course, this all changes if Philadelphia turns the corner on offense and wins a majority of their upcoming games. After all, they are still in first place through five weeks.
Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Detroit Lions
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Temperature: 75 degrees.
Matthew Stafford isn't going to get benched in favor of Shaun Hill. Seriously, that just isn't going to happen. This doesn't mean that the Detroit Lions quarterback isn't facing pressure and heat from the fan base, the media and even some within Detroit's organization.
It goes without saying that the former No. 1 overall pick has struggled through the first four games of the season. Stafford currently ranks 19th in quarterback rating, just behind the "great" Ryan Fitzpatrick. He is also on pace to throw a total of 12 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions.
Accuracy and scheme recognition have been the two major issues for Stafford thus far this season. He just doesn't seem to feel nearly as comfortable in the pocket as we saw last season.
It has been one major regression for the Georgia product through four weeks. If he, and the Lions, don't turn it around, there are going to be many who start calling Stafford a "one-year wonder."
Tony Romo, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
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Temperature: 180 degrees.
The Dallas Cowboys ended contract extension talks with Tony Romo last Sunday. He answered by throwing a career-high five interceptions against the Chicago Bears in an embarrassing loss the following day.
Romo, always a hot topic in Dallas, is now receiving even more flack from what appears to be a rightfully frustrated fanbase. While there are a lot more issues than Romo himself, the quarterback is a figurehead for mediocrity in Dallas.
The veteran quarterback is on pace for his worst statistical season and just seems to be out of touch with his wide receivers. Dez Bryant continues to struggle finding seams, catching the ball and remaining on the same page with Romo.
While we might be a long way from declaring a quarterback competition in Dallas, they do have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL in the form of Kyle Orton. More struggles from Romo and Co. could lead to a discussion about who Jason Garrett should send out there as the starter.
Let's see where this team is in another three weeks.
Mark Sanchez, Quarterback, New York Jets
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Temperature: 150 degrees.
Back in March, the New York Jets, much to the chagrin of their fans, signed Mark Sanchez to a lucrative five-year, $58 million contract. Less than two weeks later they acquired Tim Tebow, the most popular backup quarterback in the history of the NFL, from the Denver Broncos.
And, so began the media circus we all knew was inevitable.
If Sanchez had actually progressed from a disappointing 2011 season, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. The simple fact that some are clamoring for the Jets to replace Sanchez with Tebow has to be an indicator of just how bad the former is.
Sanchez now boasts the lowest completion percentage of any starting quarterback in the NFL and has accumulated a quarterback rating that sits higher than just Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden.
The only thing stopping New York from benching Sanchez is the fact that they gave him $20.5 million guaranteed in March. They have too much invested in the embattled quarterback to give up on him. Yet, somehow it has become readily apparent that he is no longer their "franchise" quarterback.
While Tebow might not be, either, there comes a time when you just have to mix it up a bit. That time is quickly approaching for the Jets.