Who Are the NFL's Most Disappointing Players so Far?
Some NFL players have been revelations for their teams in the first seven weeks of the NFL season, but others have been disappointing.
Whether it’s a free-agent star like Mario Williams or a franchise quarterback like Cam Newton, some guys have had high expectations placed upon them and failed to meet them in 2012.
Players with the most expected of them are the ones who prove to be most disappointing when they fall short of the bar.
Here are 10 such cases so far in 2012.
10. Laurent Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Laurent Robinson caught 54 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011 with the Dallas Cowboys. He turned that spectacular season into a five-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars worth $32 million.
He was expected to be Blaine Gabbert’s No. 1 target while rookie Justin Blackmon learned the NFL game in the regular season.
Instead, he’s caught just nine passes for 134 yards in four games for his fourth NFL team.
Unfortunately, Robinson has sustained two concussions this season as well.
9. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
When BenJarvus Green-Ellis was signed to the Cincinnati Bengals, his reputation as a ball-security maven in New England preceded him.
Then, he fumbled.
Then, he fumbled again.
The Bengals won the games in which he relinquished control of the football—but have lost three since.
With two touchdowns in seven games, Green-Ellis is on pace for four or five scores this season: a steep drop from the 24 he scored in the last two seasons with the Patriots.
He also owns just a 3.4 yards-per-carry average.
8. Brandon Lloyd, WR, New England Patriots
Brandon Lloyd was relatively underpaid (three years, $12 million) for his recent production as an NFL wide receiver.
This is a guy who led the NFL in receiving yards just two years ago, hauling in 77 passes for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010. He was almost a 1,000 yard receiver in 2011: Lloyd caught 70 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games.
After following Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the duo’s third location in three years, Lloyd was expected to put up monster numbers in New England with Tom Brady under center.
He has a grand total of one touchdown in seven games this season.
Lloyd also caught 35 passes for 407 yards—a full-season pace of 80 catches and 930 yards.
7. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick has managed to quell concerns about his health before the Philadelphia Eagles took their bye week in Week 7.
What he has not done, however, is take care of the football.
Vick has multiple turnovers in five of Philadelphia’s first six games—totaling 13 on the season. He has nine touchdowns to his credit (eight passing, one rushing).
He’ll have to limit those mistakes in Week 8 if the 3-3 Eagles hope to defeat Vick’s former team, the undefeated Atlanta Falcons.
6. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant has virtually unlimited potential; potential being the operative word.
In his third NFL season, the mercurial wideout was expected to enjoy a breakout year: He caught 63 passes for 928 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011.
Bryant’s 2012 so far has been maddeningly inconsistent. He has three games with 85 or more receiving yards and two with fewer than 20.
Even one of his more productive games—an eight-catch, 105-yard performance against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football –was marred by drops and misread coverages.
5. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford emerged as a star quarterback last season; he threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his third NFL campaign.
This season, with expectations even higher for the fourth-year pro and the Detroit Lions, Stafford has failed to be as productive as his 2011 numbers would indicate.
He’s thrown for 1,754 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions this season: a TD-to-INT ratio that is much less favorable than the one Stafford posted a year ago.
Stafford is on pace for 4,677 yards, 13 touchdowns and 16 picks this year.
4. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson could still be CJ2K—if you combined his rushing yards from the last three seasons.
After averaging 5.3 yards per carry in his first two NFL seasons, Johnson has averaged 4.2 in his last three (including 2012; seven games).
The 4.5 YPC that Johnson gained thus far this season tops his 2010 and 2011 averages, but it is buffered with a huge day at Buffalo in Week 7.
Before that game (18 rushes for 195 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season), he was averaging 3.3 yards per carry.
Nevertheless, Johnson’s recent improvement makes him a good candidate to be removed from future iterations of this list going forward.
3. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
That’s not elite.
What’s even scarier for Chargers fans—and more disappointing for football fans—is that Rivers is on an even worse pace with regard to turning the ball over.
His 66.5 completion percentage this season is a career high, but the Chargers passer is on pace for a whopping 32 turnovers this year. He has lost three fumbles and thrown nine picks in six games.
2. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton’s 2012 numbers aren’t quite as prolific as his rookie season.
The source of his inclusion on this list, therefore, has as much to do with his lack of improvement as it does his apparent regression.
Despite a higher average yards per passing attempt (8.02 to 7.84), Newton is completing a smaller percentage of his passes in his sophomore season (58.4) than his rookie year (60.0).
He also has more interceptions (six) than fumbles (five) and as many fumbles—three—as he had all of last season.
1. Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills
Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills got a nine-figure deal worth $50 million in guaranteed money this offseason. No defensive player has ever received as much guaranteed cash in one contract.
But plenty of guys have as many sacks as the highly-prized pass-rusher.
Williams has 3.5 sacks on the season. That’s not the only measure of a pass-rusher’s effectiveness—guys can command attention and free up others to get sacks—but the Bills defense as a whole has been awful this year.
Buffalo is surrendering 32.4 points per game in 2012.