Whether it was poor play-calling or foolish personnel decisions, a few notable names won’t be going to Hawaii this January thanks to their coaches. Here are the most egregiously screwed over.
3. Chris Johnson
With gaping holes at center and guard, Tennessee chose to pass on David DeCastro in the first round and Peter Konz in the second—the top offensive line prospects in the draft at their respective positions who somehow, someway fell to the Titans. Instead, Mike Munchak chose to throw mediocre O-lineman in front of Chris Johnson and he had another down year.
Johnson still managed to rush for 4.7 yards a pop, the third-highest average in the AFC besides Jamaal Charles and another betrayed back on this list. If Tennessee would’ve upgraded their line and not given Johnson 80 fewer carries than Arian Foster, who averaged just 4.0 yards per carry, he would’ve been a Pro Bowl shoo-in.
2. Alex Smith
Alex Smith’s 104.1 passer rating is still third in the NFL. He was benched by Jim Harbaugh despite completing 25 of his last 27 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns.
On top of those gaudy numbers is the fact that the San Francisco 49ers went 6-2 in Smith’s first eight starts and they’re just 4-2 in Colin Kaepernick’s six.
While the NFC has three worthy Pro Bowlers in Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin III, if Smith would’ve maintained the otherworldly efficiency he had prior to his injury, he would’ve blown them all away.
1. C.J. Spiller
If Chan Gailey actually gave C.J. Spiller the freaking football, he’d be in the discussion for NFL MVP. Yes, right alongside Adrian Peterson.
Spiller is averaging a staggering 6.5 yards a pop this season. And according to Jeremy White of WGR550-AM, that number is historically staggering.
Week 17 Record Watch - C.J. Spiller's 6.48 YPC on 183 carries is the highest single-season average of any player w/that many carries.— Jeremy White (@JeremyWGR) December 27, 2012
Despite carrying the football just 183 times this season, Spiller rushed for 1,185 yards. That’s more than Frank Gore, Ray Rice (a Pro Bowler!), BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Steven Jackson, Shonn Greene and Trent Richardson, who all carried the football at least 50 more times than the Bills back.
At Spiller’s pace, he would’ve needed just 308 carries to surpass the 2,000-yard rushing mark. AP is at 314 carries with another week to play.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Gailey is as good as gone. He ruined a potentially legendary campaign for Spiller—which ironically could’ve resulted in more wins and saved his job.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.