For every breakout performer this season, it seems there have been two absolute busts: guys who came into the year following huge 2007 campaigns or just highly-productive careers in general, who have failed to even come close to meeting their expectations for '08.
Some players' underperformance has had a dramatic effect on their teams—a very negative one. Without further ado, I give my list of the top 10 busts to this point in 2008.
Warning: If more than one guy from your team appears on this list, you probably aren't doing very well.
10. Joseph Addai (IND), halfback
The Colts, long one of the AFC powers, have fallen on hard time early in ’08, stumbling out to a 1-2 mark. Addai has really struggled in the early going. He carried 27 time for just 64 yards in the first two weeks of the season, and even after a decent 78-yard performance in Week Three against Jacksonville, he is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Addai gained over 1,400 combined rushing and receiving yards in each of his first two years in the league, but this year he has a very long way to go if he wants to approach those numbers. He has just 168 total yards through three games this year, and perhaps most disappointing is that he has caught only four passes, after catching 40+ in each of his first two years.
9. Roy Williams (DET), wide receiver
The Lions expected a big boost after getting Williams back from an injury that cut short his ’07 season. Well...Not so much. While second-year wideout Calvin Johnson has flourished opposite Williams, No. 11 has failed to provide much of anything (aside from rumors that his days in Detroit may be numbered).
He has caught no more than three passes in any of the games, totaling eight receptions for 113 yards thus far. Williams has not broken free for any big plays and has scored just once. With Matt Millen gone, it may be only a matter of time before big Roy exits, as well.
8. Tarvaris Jackson (MIN), quarterback
Nobody was expecting this guy to be the next Daunte Culpepper (at least I hope nobody was), but come on. When you place a young QB at the helm of a playoff contender, you expect to get at least something out of him.
I’ll give you some stats, but let me preface it with this: When you get replaced by Gus Frerotte (he of the 74.2 career QB rating) after just two games, you know you messed up.
Jackson completed just barely more than half of his passes (31 of 60) and accumulated only 316 yards through the air in two starts. He generated one touchdown but turned the ball over twice. Even with the juggernaut named Adrian Peterson with him on the Vikings' offense, Head Coach Brad Childress decided Jackson wasn’t ready, and so he replaced him with the aforementioned Redskin legend, Frerotte.
7. Peyton Manning (IND), quarterback
It’s a bad sign when both your QB and HB make this list, but it is the case with the Colts. Yes, it’s true that Peyton isn’t fully healthy, but this is Peyton Manning, one of the true greats of the game, and boy has he been pedestrian so far.
He’s ranked 24th in the league in passer rating, behind such notable scrubs as Kyle Orton and Mark Bulger. He has thrown more interceptions (four) than touchdown passes (three), and is completing less than 60 percent of his passes for the first time since his rookie year.
With Addai not providing the expected punch and Marvin Harrison in decline, it will be an uphill battle for Manning to regain his place among the league’s elite QBs.
6. Chris Perry (CIN), halfback
The Bungles, I mean Bengals, released Rudi Johnson with the belief that Perry would be an upgrade. I guess you can’t always believe what you believe? Perry really hasn’t been anything more than terrible. He has carried 72 times, 10th in the NFL, but has just 208 yards, 24th in the league.
His 2.9 yards per carry is second-worst among starting backs and is well below the league average. Additionally, he has contributed next-to-nothing as a receiver, with just 26 yards in that category. Not to pile on, but Chris has also fumbled four times already, losing two of them.
One positive stat, though, for Bengals fans: zero arrests for this guy!
5. Matt Hasselbeck (SEA), quarterback
I’ll concede that he did lose his top three receivers before Week One, but he hasn’t just been bad, he’s been atrocious. Remember, Donovan McNabb played the first three weeks without his top two wideouts and has been one of the top performers in the NFL.
Hasselbeck has thrown for just two touchdowns and his high passing yards for a game is just 190, done in Week One against Buffalo. His completion percentage is a horrendous 48.5 percent and his rating is an equally poor 60.1, second-worst among starters. This is bad.
4. Chad Johnson (CIN), wide receiver
Ocho Stinko has been a non-factor this season, despite his highly-publicized name-changing antics. Proving once again that he is not even the best receiver on his own team, No. 85 has caught just 11 passes in four games, compared to T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s 24.
I respect the fact that he’s playing through a painful shoulder injury, but wouldn’t it be better for his team if he got the surgery and took the time off? This scrub squad is going nowhere fast anyway (for my money, they’re actually a worse team than the Rams). Alas, it’s unlikely that Johnson is actually motivated by team-related factors.
85’s season high for yardage is 37, the only time he has managed to eclipse the prestigious 30-yard mark. He has scored just once and has fewer receiving yard than Johnnie Lee Higgins (That’s not a joke, Higgins is actually a real guy).
Just shut it down, Chad.
3. Braylon Edwards (CLE), wide receiver
Of the top three on this list, two play for the same team. And you wonder why the Browns suck? Edwards, 97th in the NFL with his 95 total receiving yards in four weeks of play, has been possibly the biggest shocker of the year. This is a guy who exploded for almost 1,300 yards and 16 TDs last year, establishing himself as one of the best young players in the league and one of the best receivers, period.
Oh, what a difference a year makes. That’s what they said last year, when the Browns rose from perennial cellar-dwellers to 10-win playoff contenders. Well, they can say it again this year, because this team is terrible.
Edwards, like Chad Johnson, has just 11 catches and one touchdown, but with the heightened expectations entering the season, he ranks as the bigger bust. Don’t forget, that Johnnie Lee Higgins stat applies here, too.
This past week alone, 11 different receivers had 100-yard games, a total Edwards has yet to reach this season! Three different Arizona Cardinals this week had more yards than he has this year. In his defense, though, maybe some of this is due to that play of...
2. Derek Anderson (CLE), quarterback
...our number two bust, Mr. Anderson. The cries for Brady Quinn have never been as loud as they are now, and who can blame Cleveland fans? After 3,800 yards and 29 touchdown passes last season led to a big contract extension, I’m assuming they expected more than this.
In four games this year, Anderson has thrown twice as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns (three), has thrown for over 150 yards just once (166 at Pittsburgh), and one week had a passer rating of 22.9.
Even with his big numbers last year, he wasn’t the most efficient passer, but this season, he has completed less than half of his tries and is averaging less than five yards per attempt.
I mentioned earlier that Matt Hasselbeck was the second-lowest rated passer in the league. Derek Anderson’s 49.9 rating is the worst.
1. Randy Moss (NE), crybaby
Last year, Moss had what was quite possibly the greatest season ever by a wide receiver. He had 98 catches for almost 1,500 yards, including a single-season record 23 receiving TDs. My, how circumstances can change things.
Have you seen Randy Moss, circa 2006, when he was with Oakland? If so, you’re already prepared for what’s to come. In Minnesota, he admitted to taking plays off. Well, in Oakland, the guy took two full years off, and without Brady behind center, this will be much of the same.
Moss has always shown a lack of effort when not paired with an elite QB, which makes very little sense, since in many cases it is Randy himself who makes the QB as good as he is.
In the past two games, with Matt Cassel at the helm, Moss has caught just six passes for 47 yards. By contrast, teammate Wes Welker has caught 13 for 127. Cassel is certainly good enough to get the ball to Moss, but no wideout in the NFL can succeed without maximum effort.
I agree preemptively with what many of the critics will say: Randy Moss has not been the worst player in the NFL this year and possibly not even the player who has most underperformed, given the expectations.
But in my mind, he is the most disappointing, given the fact that on any given Sunday, he has the ability to be completely unstoppable and has not shown that he cares about achieving that this season.
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