NFL Hot-Seat Watch Heading into Preseason Week 4
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With Week 4 of the preseason approaching, the NFL regular season is right around the corner.
As we've progressed through the "practice" games, there have been performances that have caused major question marks surrounding players and coaches. From poor decision-making to turnover issues to getting outplayed by teammates, the following players find their seats a little warm after lackluster Week 3 performances.
Here is our hot-seat watch for Week 4 of the NFL preseason.
Geno Smith, Quarterback, New York Jets
To say Geno Smith struggled as the starting quarterback for the New York Jets would be the quite the understatement.
Smith went 16-of-30 with 199 yards for a rather low 6.6 yards per attempt average. To make matters worse, he threw three interceptions compared to only one touchdown and finished the game with an awful quarterback rating of 45.7.
All Smith had to do in Week 3 was play solid football without making too many mistakes. If he would have done that there would have been no way that the Jets could deny him the starting job for Week 1 of the regular season.
Now Smith needs to come back with a truly superb performance against the Philadelphia Eagles this week. Should Smith once again struggle, the Jets may be forced to bench their rookie until he proves ready for the NFL game.
Rex Ryan, Head Coach, New York Jets
If quarterback Geno Smith's seat is warm, then head coach Rex Ryan's seat is on fire.
The decision to put in quarterback Mark Sanchez late in the fourth quarter was one of the most ridiculous decisions ever. The end result was Sanchez getting injured and leaving the game with a bruised shoulder.
Now Ryan is facing one of the worst quarterback situations in the league. We just touched on how poor Smith looked as a starter, and now Sanchez could potentially miss significant time. That leaves either Greg McElroy or Matt Simms as the only other options at quarterback.
Let's just say if neither Smith or Sanchez are ready to play in Week 1, Ryan likely won't last the entire 2013 season as head coach of the New York Jets.
Tim Tebow, Quarterback, New England Patriots
While Tebow actually threw for more yards than he did in Week 2, it was only because he threw for zero yards. In fact, Tebow didn't even see the field in a blowout loss to the Detroit Lions this past week.
If Tebow can't see the field when the New England Patriots are down by over 30 points, then when exactly will Tebow see the field?
Simply put, unless Tebow can miraculously learn to play another position by this weekend, he'll likely be cut before the start of the regular season.
Matt Flynn, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders
In last week's game, Flynn only managed 19 yards on six attempts with two interceptions. Pryor, on the other hand, had 93 passing yards and a touchdown on only nine attempts. He also added an impressive 37 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Flynn got replaced by rookie Russell Wilson last year with the Seattle Seahawks, and now it appears as if the same will happen with the Oakland Raiders.
Ronnie Hillman, Running Back, Denver Broncos
The quickest way to lose a training-camp battle is to turn over the ball a ridiculously high amount of times during the preseason.
That's exactly what has happened to Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman. In three preseason games, Hillman has put the ball on the ground three times, with two of those fumbles being recovered by opposing defenses.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase had this to say about ball security for running backs, specifically Hillman, per Cecil Lammey of ESPN:
For ball security, when the ball is in your hand it can’t be on the ground. What happened the other day? I’m telling you —unacceptable.
Clearly, the Broncos aren't pleased with Hillman's proneness to turning the ball over. He'll need to look exceptional in Week 4 or else Denver will likely give the starting job to rookie running back Montee Ball.
Coby Fleener, Tight End, Indianapolis Colts
Many expected tight end Coby Fleener to come in and dominate right away for the Indianapolis Colts due to his chemistry with quarterback Andrew Luck. Of course, that didn't happen as Fleener battled injuries throughout his first year in the league.
To make matters worse, it doesn't appear as if Fleener's struggles with injuries are getting any better. He left Week 1 with a concussion and Week 2 with a sprained knee. He's only managed a pedestrian two receptions and 37 yards this preseason.
Unless Fleener can prove he can stay healthy and be an impact player in Indianapolis. he'll likely see playing time lost to fellow tight end Dwayne Allen.
Johnathan Franklin, Running Back, Green Bay Packers
Not only was running back Johnathan Franklin expected to get plenty of carries during his rookie season, but some even expected him to be a real threat to Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris for the starting job.
However, things haven't exactly gone to plan for Franklin. He's struggled all training camp to make an impact for the Green Bay Packers. If that wasn't bad enough, Franklin looked absolutely horrific this past week against the Seattle Seahawks.
He only received four carries in Week 3 and gained a whopping one yard. That's right, Franklin managed 0.3 yards per carry against the Seahawks.
Performances like that won't only keep you from getting a bunch of touches in the regular season, it'll keep you from even seeing the field. Franklin will need to put together an outstanding performance in the preseason finale if he wants to have the opportunity to make any type of impact during his rookie season.
D.J. Williams, Linebacker, Chicago Bears
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This might seem obvious, but if you aren't on the football field, it's hard to win a training-camp battle.
The Chicago Bears have been without starting middle linebacker D.J. Williams due to a a calf strain. His absence has opened up the door for rookie Jon Bostic to see loads of playing time.
All Bostic has done is play exceptional football and made the Bears' decision to bench him an extremely difficult one. In fact, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago believes that Bostic could potentially start in Week 1. He said:
Although the organization's original plan called for veteran D.J. Williams to start the season at middle linebacker, it's going to be difficult to move Bostic out of the spot, even if Williams returns in the next week from a severe calf injury that has sidelined him since the beginning of training camp.
If Williams can't get on the field to prove he should be the Bears' starting middle linebacker, then he will likely find himself in a backup role to start the season.