Predicting the NFL's 10 Most Disappointing Players of 2013
It's impossible to predict what's going to happen during the 2013 NFL season.
There are certain players that we have certain expectations for before the season begins, and the higher the expectations, then the greater chance there is of disappointment.
This article is going to discuss 10 players that could be heading for disappointing 2013 NFL seasons. The reasons are different for many of the players. They're getting older, coming off an injury or just aren't in a great situation to succeed.
Whatever the reason, these are my 10 NFL players that will disappoint in 2013.
San Diego Chargers Running Back: Ryan Mathews
Ryan Mathews had a bad 2012 season. You know it's a bad season when you have twice as many fumbles (2) and broken collarbones (2) as you do touchdowns (1).
But in 2013, we're going to hear the 'bust' label used on Ryan Mathews quite a bit. The San Diego Chargers had traded up in the first round of the 2010 draft to select Matthews at No. 12. He was touted as the heir apparent to former Chargers running back, LaDainian Tomlinson.
It's already risky to take running backs in the first round because their short career expectancy, but when you're trading up for a running back, it becomes even riskier.
Kevin Kolb, Matt Cassel, Byron Leftwich and Brandon Weeden all had as many 20+ yard runs (1) in 2012 as Ryan Mathews. They combined for 71 rushing attempts while Matthews had 184.
Mathews averaged below four yards per carry in 2012 (3.8) for the first time in his three-year career. That's not what you're looking for from your franchise running back that's supposed to be in the prime of his career.
The San Diego Chargers signed veteran third-down running back Danny Woodhead this offseason. Which means Mathews is strictly going to be a two-down running back in 2012, and that's only if he can stay healthy. He's missed 10 games in his first three years in San Diego and he's one more bad season away from carrying the bust label.
That season will be in 2013.
Carolina Panthers Quarterback: Cam Newton
The Carolina Panthers have the toughest strength of schedule in 2013 based on 2012's records. While this doesn't mean everything because some teams will be better and some teams will be worse than their previous season indicates, there's still some truth to it.
That means Cam Newton is going to have to be considerably better in 2013 if the Panthers are going to take that next step as an organization. There's a good chance that doesn't happen.
Newton's completion percentage dipped below 60 percent last season and he's still much more of a threat running the football than he is as a passer. This will lead to fantastic individual games and performances but won't help win games over the long haul. That's what really matters and for all the flash that Newton brings as a runner and on highlight reels for his athletic ability, he's still merely an average NFL quarterback according to most metrics.
Despite rushing for over 1,400 yards in his first two seasons combined, Newton still hasn't led the Panthers to more than seven wins in a season. While wins and losses aren't squarely on him, the Panthers' only considerable move this offseason to add weapons around Newton was adding former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver and returner Ted Ginn. That's not enough to pair with the aging Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell at wide receiver.
There have been numerous questions during his two-year stint thus far about his abilities to lead men on the field. Here's a quote from NFL.com where Steve Smith was talking about his quarterback's presence on the sideline.
"I watched D.A. and Jimmy (Clausen), they don't play in 20-something games last year," Smith said Friday, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. "And they get up and they observe and learn and get those mental reps," Smith said. "I told him, 'You can get some mental reps or you can sit on that bench and sulk.' "
The former No. 1 pick by the Panthers is at a critical point in his career when his leadership abilities are still being questioned and he hasn't made the overall impact on the field that translates to wins and losses.
With the schedule they face in 2013, there's a good chance that Panthers fans are let down again.
Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver: Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace is the third-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL based on average salaries in 2013. He's going to a new offense with a new system after signing with the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
Wallace's production has slipped each year since 2010 in terms of receiving yards. In 2010 he finished fifth in the NFL with 1,257 yards, in 2011 he finished 11th with 1,193 yards and then in 2012 he finished 34th with 836 yards.
There are many reasons for this and it's not the end-all, be-all to how effective Wallace is as a receiver. But he also won't have two-time Pro Bowler Ben Roethlisberger throwing him passes in Miami.
That's not a slight on second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but there's going to be some growing pains as Wallace comes into a new situation and when a team gives you $27 million guaranteed, you need to figure it out quickly. The Dolphins have also put a considerable amount of faith in second-year left tackle Jonathan Martin, as well. Martin's ability to step in and be effective in protecting Tannehill will affect Wallace's impact.
Wallace's game is built on speed and getting down the field. If Tannehill doesn't have the time to allow him to get down the field, your biggest offseason acquisition has been neutralized by your inability to keep your quarterback upright. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus touched on Wallace's abilities to run different routes.
Wallace still has enough deep speed to scare any corner he comes up against, and may be able to run the top off a defense like no other receiver, but he has never developed the ability to run a complete route tree, and is limited by the number of routes he can effectively run.
You have a receiver whose game is almost entirely dependent on his ability to get over the top of a defense and you have a question mark in protecting your quarterback. This isn't a good combination.
The Dolphins have completely revamped the weapons on offense for Tannehill, losing three of their top four targets from last season. Davone Bess was traded to the Cleveland Browns, Anthony Fasano signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent and Reggie Bush signed with the Detroit Lions as well.
The Dolphins added former St. Louis Rams receiver Brandon Gibson to pair with Wallace and re-signed Brian Hartline. Wallace will make an impact for the Dolphins in 2013, but it's not going to justify that contract and it'll leave Dolphins fans hoping that they'll figure it out by 2014.
San Francisco 49ers Running Back: Frank Gore
There aren't a lot of negative things that can be said about San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore. He's been a machine during his time in the Bay area.
In eight NFL seasons in San Francisco, Gore has carried the ball at least 200 times on seven different occasions. He's never averaged below 4.2 yards per carry in a season. That's amazing for a running back in today's NFL. The shelf life is so short nowadays for running backs that when you see one having that kind of production this late in his career, it's something to admire.
Frank Gore just turned 30 years old. That seems to be the end of the road for most running backs as we've seen throughout the years. We thought we'd see a drop-off last season in Gore's production and he blew the cover off that idea.
He rushed for over 1,200 yards and had a 4.7 yards per carry average, which was the second best output for him in the last six years in that category.
The 49ers have a stable of running backs ready to take over when Gore is on his last legs, which we should expect to be in 2013. Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon and rookie Marcus Lattimore are waiting in the wings to take the load of carries for the 49ers.
Gore shouldn't be expected to have the same kind of production again this season at 30 years old and for those who think he should, you're going to be disappointed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback: Josh Freeman
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a major move this offseason in trading for former New York Jets cornerback, Darrelle Revis.
When you add that to the free agent acquisition of former San Francisco 49ers safety Dashon Goldson, you can see the concerted effort the Buccaneers made to fix the worst secondary in the NFL last season against the pass. They even used their first pick in the draft on Mississippi State defensive back Johnthan Banks.
These moves to shore up a weak secondary will put even more heat on quarterback Josh Freeman to take that next step as an NFL quarterback. There will be no more excuses for Freeman next season.
Over the past two seasons, Freeman has thrown 43 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. We were expecting big things from Freeman in 2012 because the Buccaneers had invested a lot of money in wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who came over via free agency from the San Diego Chargers.
Freeman threw more touchdowns and fewer interceptions in 2012 than he did in 2011, going from 16 touchdowns in 2011 to 27 in 2012, and 22 interceptions to just 17. But his completion percentage dropped from 62.8 percent to 54.8 percent. That'll need to improve next season as he stares down the barrel of the most important season in his career.
Freeman is a free agent after next season. Therefore he not only has the pressure brought on by the moves the Buccaneers made this offseason to compete in a tough NFC South division with the likes of the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers right away, but he's also playing for that next big contract that NFL players get very few chances at during their careers.
We haven't seen enough from Josh Freeman at this point in his career to think he can elevate his game to a level that's on par with the kinds of moves the Buccaneers have made this offseason. He will hold them back.
Free Agent Wide Receiver: Titus Young
Does this slide really need any explanation?
Titus Young has the physical abilities to be a starting wide receiver in the NFL. His recent actions have put the possibility of seeing that in the future in serious doubt. He was recently arraigned on eight charges coming from two separate incidents. Via NFL.com
According to a felony complaint obtained by NFL.com, Young was due Tuesday in an Orange County, Calif., court, where he was arraigned on eight charges stemming from two separate incidents last week. Young pleaded not guilty to all eight counts and remains in custody, according to the Detroit Free Press.
This doesn't even include two more incidents that happened just two weeks prior to these events. From that same NFL.com article.
Young has more charges coming in relation to two other recent incidents in Riverside County. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI on May 5 and later released. Young was arrested again less than 15 hours later after he allegedly was caught jumping the fence of an impound lot, trying to recover his black Mustang.
It's a sad story that's becoming even sadder at this point. Young has become a punchline and a joke and it's disappointing. Young showed promise on the field during his two seasons with the Detroit Lions. In two seasons, Young picked up 990 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.
We might never see Titus Young on the football field again and that's extremely disappointing. But we're way past the story of an athlete and more about the story of a man who needs some help.
Washington Redskins Running Back: Alfred Morris
Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris exploded onto the scene in 2012 with an electrifying rookie season in which he ran for 1,613 yards on 335 carries with 13 touchdowns.
But don't expect a repeat performance from Morris in 2013. Teams have had an entire offseason of tape to watch and to prepare for as they get set to take on the Redskins in the upcoming season. Morris should have a solid season because he's a good football player, but there were circumstances surrounding his effectiveness his rookie year that just won't be the same in 2013.
Morris benefited from his fellow Redskins rookie, quarterback Robert Griffin III, and his ability run the football. Griffin could stretch the defense out horizontally and allow for less congestion between the tackles. This benefited a physical runner like Morris running up the middle. How much Morris benefited from this we'll know in 2013 as Griffin comes back from a torn ACL suffered at the end of last season.
We shouldn't see Griffin taking as many carries and playing with the same kind of reckless abandon for his body that we did his rookie year in 2012. That's going to affect how teams scheme their defense against the Redskins and Morris, specifically.
If they know Griffin isn't as likely to run the ball, they're able to key their run defenses off of Morris, which they weren't able to do with Griffin being so electric last season.
If there's a list of players we could bet on that won't have the same level of production as they did in 2012, there'd be a good amount of money on Alfred Morris.
Houston Texans Safety: Ed Reed
Ed Reed is more of a name than an impact player at this point in his illustrious, eventual Hall of Fame career. He'll turn 35 years old in September and isn't the same player we've been accustomed to seeing over the past decade with the Ravens. He logged career lows last season according to the Pro Football Focus signature stats.
Since Pro Football Focus’ inception in 2008, Reed logged career lows in just about all of our signature stats, as well as overall grade and coverage grade. But with that said, he still ranked within the top 25 qualifying safeties in the NFL in coverage snaps per target, coverage snaps per receptions allowed and yards allowed per coverage snap.
The Houston Texans are poised to make a playoff run. It made sense for them to bring in a veteran play-maker like Reed to help bridge the gap to their future safety, the guy they ended up drafting in the second round, former South Carolina defensive back DJ Swearinger.
Reed was given $5 million guaranteed on a three-year deal. Although he probably won't be playing throughout the length of that deal, it still brings up the question of how many snaps are they expecting from Reed at this point in his career?
If the expectation is for Reed to be a situational player that can come in in small doses to make an impact, he'll be in a good spot. But expecting anything more than that from Reed at this point in his career is going to be a letdown.
That contract either severely overpays a role player or expects too much out of a player at the end of his career.
Miami Dolphins Left Tackle: Jonathan Martin
The Miami Dolphins have put a lot of faith in second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin heading into next season.
Martin, the former Stanford Cardinal, spent the majority of his 2012 rookie season playing on the right side of the line at tackle. After starting left tackle Jake Long went down with a torn triceps midway through the season, the Dolphins asked Martin to move over to the left side for the final five games.
Reviews weren't very good on Martin's play on either side of the line in 2012. Pro Football Focus ranked Martin as one of the worst tackles in football last year.
It was a tough season for Martin regardless of which side he lined up. His -22.0 grade placed him 76th out of the top 80 tackles and his 92.0 PBE ranked 50th out of 52.
The Dolphins spent some considerable money at the wide receiver position this off season. They gave Mike Wallace a five-year, $60 million deal, Brian Hartline got a five-year, $30.7 million deal and finally, Brandon Gibson got a three-year, $9.7 million deal.
The Dolphins have made a sizable financial investment in the passing game by way of the wide receiver position. They're investing in wide receivers and gambling on a left tackle.
They'll need to make sure that Tannehill has the time to get the ball to these weapons. Based on what we've seen thus far from Martin's career at either tackle spot, there's a big cause for concern if he's taking over on Day One on the left side.
New York Jets Wide Receiver: Santonio Holmes
New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes' biggest problem heading into 2013 is trying to figure out who's going to be throwing passes to him next season.
Mark Sanchez has thrown 68 touchdowns in his four-year career and added 69 interceptions. He also included a career high in fumbles last season with nine. Despite all of that, he's the most likely candidate for the starting quarterback position with the Jets next season.
The Jets second-round pick from West Virginia, quarterback Geno Smith, is still an unknown. He's not in a position that you'll have to rush him onto the field if he's not yet ready. They can take their time with Smith.
If you're banking on Holmes' picking up just his second 1,000+ yard receiving season in his eight-year career in 2013 with a rookie quarterback or Mark Sanchez, you're asking a little too much and you're going to be disappointed.
Holmes played in just four games for the Jets in 2012 after suffering a lisfranc injury that placed him on injured reserve. He recently told the New York Daily News that he couldn't play right now if a game were tomorrow.
The Jets’ best receiver classified his recovery from the injury as “day-to-day” and added he wouldn’t be able to play if there were a game this Sunday. “I probably wouldn’t try that at all,” Holmes said.
The combination of coming off an injury, getting a year older and playing with Mark Sanchez is enough to know that Santonio Holmes isn't going to turn any heads this season, at least not for the right reasons.