The 25 Members of the NFL Overrated Team
There are a number of reasons why a specific player may be overrated. He could have come out of college with such a huge media buzz that there was nowhere for his pro career to go but downhill from there. Maybe he built up a huge reputation with one team, and when he became a free agent, he signed for such an exorbitant contract that there was no way he could ever live up to the terms of the deal.
Players receive media hype, and then are always being compared to the media darling persona that they will never attain. Coaches build up a certain player making all these claims (maybe to save the general manager's reputation in the process) and create a certain level of expectations that can't possibly be met.
We are going to look at some recent players, as well as some older players in NFL history to create a slide show featuring 25 players that deserve a place in NFL annuls of being overrated. They are not ranked in any particular order because how would you ever rank the degree of being overrated?
If you would like to add your own player ideas to the list, please feel free to leave a comment.
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In doing research for this article, I happened to come across an interesting piece written about Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino. The article was entitled The Marino Mythology, and it was written by Cold, Hard Football Facts.com
The article covered a number of areas involving Marino and his game. What was a surprise to me was to learn the following cold hard facts about Dan Marino's postseason resume.
For his career, in playoff games when Dan Marino threw fewer than two interceptions in a game, the Dolphins were 7-1. When Marino threw two interceptions or more, the Dolphins' record was flipped to 1-9. For whatever reason, Marino failed to take care of the ball properly when the second postseason began, so that earns him a spot on the overrated list.
You might ask yourself how can a Hall of Fame quarterback be viewed as overrated? Are we saying he isn't any good? Of course not. But what we are saying is that for the degree of fame and respect he is thought to command as being recognized as one of the NFL best all-time quarterbacks, he only led his team to one Super Bowl appearance. He did lead the Dolphins to the playoffs 10 different years, but how many of those nine losses was he the cause due to his costly interceptions?
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Speaking of quarterbacks that don't do very well in the postseason, we bring you to quarterback No. 2 on our list, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys.
Tony Romo will be an unpopular choice for Cowboys' fans, but from a national perspective, you can categorize his inclusion under what have you done for me lately? He has been the Dallas Cowboys quarterback for five years, yet with all of the talent that surrounds him and the deep pockets of Jerry Jones to buy whatever help they need in free agency, the fact remains that Romo has directed the Cowboys to only one playoff win in five years at the helm.
Looking at the regular season results, you probably couldn't ask for more. Three Pro Bowl teams and a career QB passer rating of 95.5 speaks volumes about the level of his play. We need to acknowledge that 2010 wasn't Romo's best season, as he led the team to a 1-5 start. The 38-year-old backup Jon Kitna took the same team and led them to a 5-5 record.
It is not just me that feels this way. In a poll run by Sports Illustrated where they asked 269 NFL players who the most overrated player in the league was, Romo received the second most votes, trailing only Terrell Owens. Maybe 2010 was a down year for Romo, but you have to admit, when the second season starts, Romo turns in to a different quarterback.
In 2006, his botched snap led to the narrow defeat to Seattle 21-20. In 2007, the Cowboys lost to the New York Giants 21-17 while Romo turned in a passer rating of 64.7. In 2009, he finally turned in a worthy playoff game that matched his accolades when he beat Philadelphia 34-14, where he had a passer rating of 104.9. But the following game, Romo disappeared again with a rating of 66.1 when he was sacked six times in a 34-3 blowout by the Minnesota Vikings.
The reason that Romo appears on this list is that the national acclaim that he receives does not match the amount of postseason performance that he has delivered to date. He has the chance to change that perception as his career rolls along.
But until that time, in my book, he will be considered to be overrated. Maybe he should hold off on his golf game until he notches a few more playoff wins.
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After winning two Dick Butkus awards as the nations' top linebacker at the University of Oklahoma, Brian Bosworth was expected to take over the NFL by storm.
The red flags that arose when Bosworth was suspended prior to the Orange Bowl game for taking anabolic steroids never apparently registered in Seattle. They took him anyway.
Bosworth was drafted in the supplemental round by the Seahawks. What was interesting about his supplemental draft was that Bosworth had the nerve to write to teams to inform them which clubs he did not want to play for.
Three short years from 1987 to 1989, and his career was history. He only appeared in 24 games and made a total of four sacks.
Lots of media buzz accompanied Bosworth to the NFL, but he never could live up to the hype.
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During the 2010 NFL season, Sports Illustrated ran a poll by asking 269 players who were the most overrated players in the NFL. The leader vote getter was Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens, who had twice as many votes as anyone else.
Somehow the new and improved version of Owens when he played for Buffalo, never made it around to the rest of the NFL players.
Owens still has productive seasons, as he led the Bengals and the Bills in receiving yards the past two years. But for all of the celebrity status and media darling that T.O. has become, it is not all that surprising that the players feel his production does not equal the amount of press that he receives.
Who are we to argue with that many players anyway?
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Some players become among the various best at their position and go to a different team and can still perform at a higher level. Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears comes to mind as one example.
The flip side would be someone raises their game to become one of the best players in the league, and their salary demands become outrageous. They wind up on a new team, and because their owner had the deep pockets to foot the bills, the scenario is still set for disaster, since the player could never play to the level of the rich new contract.
Such is the case for Washington Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, who convinced Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder to pay him $100 million over seven years.
From feuding with new head coach Mike Shanahan to reporting to camp out of shape and throwing up during practice, Haynesworth is the poster boy for why small market teams prefer to target players that they can afford, and if they don't produce, it doesn't kill the team. Haynesworth was a huge deal against the Redskins salary cap and will be a difficult contract to move or swallow.
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Heath Schuler is a good example of a college player coming out with so much hype that he was labeled a can't miss prospect, but never could live up to all the notoriety. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1993. After being drafted third overall in the 1994 draft, Schuler held out of training camp for a big deal ($19.25 million over seven years).
He was outplayed by fellow rookie Gus Frerotte, so after three short years with the Redskins, they traded him to New Orleans. His first-round value was now suddenly reduced to a third- and fifth-round pick. ESPN rated him the fourth biggest NFL draft bust of all time. Shuler started 18 games in his first two years with the team and was benched in his third year, as Frerotte went to the Pro Bowl.
Schuler only lasted in New Orleans for the 1997 season due to injuries to his foot. He moved on to Oakland only to hurt his foot again, and then he retired in 1998.
Currently, Schuler is a politician in North Carolina, so we can only hope that he is better at that than he was as a quarterback in the NFL.
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New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs makes our list because he projects to be a wrecking ball on NFL defenses, due to his size, but the results are not what you would expect.
In his column of overrated and underrated players coming in to the 2010 season, CBS writer Pete Prisco ranked Jacobs as the most overrated player in the league.
Here is what Prisco had to say about Jacobs:
My most overrated player is New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. Even after 1,000-yard seasons in 2007 and 2008, I thought he was a bit overrated. People became enamored with his size since he is huge for a back at 6-feet-4 and 265 pounds. But I think his size hurts him. He doesn't make tacklers miss. If there is no hole, he isn't cutting to find one. He runs straight ahead and upright, not my style of back.
Jacobs gained 3.7 yards per rush last season and wound up with 835 yards. He seemed to tiptoe into the line. His touchdown total dropped from 15 to six. Some of it might have been the result of a knee issue that required scoping after the season, but I think the Giants offense is significantly better when Ahmad Bradshaw, all 5'9" of him, is in the backfield.
In 2008, Jacobs established career highs in yardage (1,089) and touchdowns (15). Since then, he has turned in two straight years where he hasn't been able to top 835 yards for the year, and he has failed to reach double-digits in touchdowns despite being the ideal sized back for goal-line carries.
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Was Ryan Leaf overrated? I can think of a few reporters in San Diego that could give you a very quick answer to that question. Leaf was the second overall draft pick in 1998 draft by the San Diego Chargers.
Fast forward to the end of his career in 2002 and Leaf was already out of the NFL. During his career, he had an unbelievably poor touchdown to interceptions ratio of 14 touchdowns to 36 interceptions. His career QB passer rating was 50. We have all heard of the Mendoza line in baseball, so maybe we should establish a QB passer rating of 50 as the Leaf line for terrible NFL quarterbacks.
Latest word on Leaf is that he fled to Canada to escape all the ridicule. What ridicule you ask? ESPN listed Leaf first on their list of the 25 Biggest Sports Flops between 1979-2004. MSNBC commentator Michael Ventre called Leaf the biggest bust in the history of professional sports. NFL Network listed Leaf as the No. 1 NFL quarterback bust of all time.
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Coming out of USC, Reggie Bush was expected to be the second coming of Gayle Sayers. The comparisons were flattering but set up such a high level of expectations that Bush will always be thought of as overrated, before he had a chance to prove otherwise.
Riding the momentum he had coming out of college, Bush established a career high of 742 receiving yards in his rookie year of 2006. Since then, those numbers have all gone downhill, from 742 to 417 to 440 to 335 to 208 in 2010. He established his rushing peak of 581 yards in 2007 and all downhill since then, from 581 to 404 to 390 and then an abysmal 150 yards in 2010.
Bush has scored 17 rushing touchdowns, 12 receiving touchdowns and four punt-return scores. But in 2010, he accounted for one touchdown for the entire season. True enough, he played in only eight games, but in those eight games, he only totaled 482 all-purpose yards for the entire season. Gayle Sayers? No way.
New Orleans was smart to draft Mark Ingram, so one Heisman Trophy winner replaces another. Bush will still be with New Orleans in 2011 provided he takes a big salary cut, but it may be time for him to be moving on.
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Our first USC quarterback that makes this list (there will be at least two more by the way) is a sad tale.
There was an article in Esquire by Mike Sager that referred to Todd's father, Marv Marinovich, as the second worst sports father. For those dying to know, No. 1 was Jim Pierce, father of tennis player Mary. From trying to create the perfect laboratory football player and destroying his natural childhood in the process, the elder Marinovich really did a number on his son.
A first-round draft choice by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991, he was done in the NFL as of the 1992 season. Drugs plagued him throughout his career and the majority of his adult life. It appears that the best laid plans of mice and men, often go astray is born out once more.
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Michael Vick is finally learning how to be a solid quarterback. The problem is that it didn't occur until he was already 30 years old. Vick was blessed with gobs of natural talent. He left college as a sophomore, and was the first overall draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001.
Vick didn't work that hard at his craft, because things came that naturally to him. He led the Falcons to the playoffs twice until his dog fighting ring took his career to screeching halt. After being away from the game for years, Vick came back to join the Philadelphia Eagles and finally started applying himself on the job. His play and leadership encouraged the Eagles to dump Donovan McNabb, and now it will be Kevin Kolb's turn to go to greener pastures.
If Vick had only learned early in his career how much better he could have been if he had worked at his craft, he would never have appeared on a list like this. But having that much talent and not maxing out those skills means that he will forever be regarded as overrated.
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Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, has not lived up to his lofty expectations. Coming out of the University of Texas, Williams was labeled as a can't miss prospect, and the Detroit Lions drafted him seventh overall in the 2004 draft. Fast forward through eight seasons in the NFL, and Williams has only had one season where he gained over 1,000 yards in receptions. He has never had a 100-catch season, much less a 85 catch season.
At 6'3" and 215 pounds, Williams has great size to be an effective NFL receiver. His best year was in 2006 with Detroit when he had career highs in yards (1,310) and catches (82). Since then it has been pretty much downhill. In the past four years, Williams has never topped 38 receptions in a season.
He isn't a total bust as some of the other players in this article, but he is another example of a player that was overrated, because they never lived up to the hype.
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We move from one Longhorn player to another. The Buffalo Bills have had their share of first-round draft flops, but they have not had an offensive lineman that turned out to be more overrated than Mike Williams from the University of Texas.
Williams was the fourth overall draft pick in the 2002 draft by the Bills, thinking that Williams would be an anchor for years on their offensive line. However, things didn't quite work out so well for the Bills. At least they eventually replaced Williams with Jason Peters, a move that worked out much better.
The Sporting News named Williams as the fourth biggest NFL draft bust for the 20 years period covering 1989 to 2008. The Bills tried him at right tackle, left tackle and guard. They even tried him on goal line defense package. After four years and not finding a proper fit anywhere, the Bills released him following the 2005 season.
Since then, Williams has had stints with the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins, but he has failed to make an impact with any team.
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Now we transition from one overvalued Buffalo Bills first round draft pick to another, as we take a look at the career of Aaron Maybin.
Maybin is a great example of a one-year-wonder type of college player that bursts on to the college scene but has no real identifiable track record to really know what you are going to get. Despite other great players available to select, the Bills were allured by his potential and took Maybin with the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Fast forward two seasons later, and Maybin is still looking for his first career sack. Things were so bad that he couldn't even beat out the undrafted guys out of college to make the special teams unit. The Jets have already released a similar pick that didn't produce Vern Gholston. The Bills haven't gone that far yet, but 2011 is said to be the end of the road for Maybin. Either he produces or he will be shown the door.
Based on how bad Maybin has been, Bills general manager took the 360-approach in the 2009 draft by drafting nothing but seniors, to make sure he did not have any one year wonders. In 2010, he took a couple underclassmen, but still avoided the one-year types. Maybe that will be the lasting legacy that Maybin leaves on the Bills organization.
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Was there ever a stranger disappearing act than the one that running back Larry Johnson performed on the Kansas City Chiefs?
In a two-year span from the 2005 season to the 2006 season, Johnson gained All-World status. In those two years, he rushed for a combined 3,539 yards and 37 rushing touchdowns. The amount of press he received was crazy, and all the attention got to his head.
So, Johnson held out on the Chiefs until they paid him like the back that he thought he was. After a lengthy holdout, the Chiefs wound up giving Johnson a $19 million deal only to see him come back as a different player. In the five years since he signed the deal, Johnson's combined totals for those five years 2,016 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
For what he held out for and what he delivered, Johnson earns a place on the overrated team.
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Nate Burleson, wide receiver of the Detroit Lions, is something of an overrated enigma. As early as his second season in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings in 2004, Burleson established himself as a 1,000-yard receiver. That earned him a reputation as a big time receiver, and there has been a star attached to his name ever since.
In the four years that he played for Seattle, he never came close to matching what he did in 2004. In fact in 2006, he played the entire season but only came up with 192 yards in receptions.
Finally, he moves over to the upstart Detroit Lions in 2010, and with defensive secondaries focused on stopping Calvin Johnson, Burleson again fails to deliver that much in production with 625 yards.
It appears that the 2004 season was an outlier, and as a result, we need to think of Burleson as an average receiver, then we can live with the lower results.
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We probably could have paired Vernon Gholston with Aaron Maybin and created the same slide. Gholson was a first-round draft choice of the Jets in 2008 and was the sixth overall draft pick that year.
In the three years that he has been in the league, Gholston has never registered a sack. The Jets got tired of waiting for him to produce and waived him in the offseason after the 2010 year ended.
Some team will probably take a chance on him, but maybe a change of scenery will do him some good. Is it possible he just had trouble playing to the expectation levels of New York City fans? He came in to the NFL with lots of fanfare but just couldn't find a way to follow through on all that promise.
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Running back Willis McGahee was the top running back out of the University of Miami, until he blew his knee out. The Bills took a chance on him and drafted him in the first round knowing he would be out for a year. The strategy seemed to work, as McGahee had a fine start to his career, when he notched consecutive 1,000-yard plus seasons with the Bills. He came within 10 yards of reaching the millennium mark for three straight years, and then the honeymoon ended.
McGahee kept bashing the city of Buffalo and wore out his welcome. He was traded to Baltimore for two third-round draft picks and another pick. He kept the century mark going, by rushing for 1,200 yards in his first year in Baltimore, and then McGahee hit the proverbial wall. Things have gone steadily downhill from there.
In the past three years, his rushing totals have dropped from 671 to 544 to 380. He might not even make the Ravens roster this year. This is a case of starting out great but not being able to live up to the high expectations. If you run your mouth, and then you stop producing, that earns a special place in the overrated list.
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Was there any quarterback in recent memory that was labeled as can't miss that turned out to be a bigger disappointment than Matt Leinart? Leading the USC Trojans to a national championship and winning the Heisman Trophy, Leinart was expected to have a big career in the NFL.
Leinart however, had other ideas, and you would keep hearing about his long nights partying in Las Vegas after his college career ended. That attitude prevailed as he entered the NFL, and work ethic and learning the pro game somehow eluded Leinart.
Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network wrote an interesting story about the possibility of Leinart being reunited with head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks. Lombardi refers to Leinart as the "king of the check down" and is in need of someone giving him a righteous shot to try to resurrect his career.
Leinart was drafted 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. They had Kurt Warner there to groom him. He could play in the hot desert sun, staying on the West Coast. But for whatever reason, Leinart failed to progress, and as he got beat out by Derek Anderson of all people, he will forever be known as overrated.
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The Dallas Cowboys have been patiently waiting for Marion Barber to break out with a big season. Hard to tell who will be waiting longer, the Cowboys or the fans that were trying to find their seats at the last Super Bowl in Dallas.
After rushing for nearly five yards per carry (4.8 average yards per rush) in both 2006 and 2007, big things were expected of Barber.
He got close to breaking the century mark (975 yards in 2007 and 932 yards in 2009) but either he or his team never found a way to allow for the extra yardage needed to get him over the hump.That 2007 season saw him named to the Pro Bowl team, even though he was not the starter on Dallas, a very unique feat.
In 2008, it was time for the Cowboys to take care of Barber financially, which they did with a seven-year deal for $45 million. As soon as the ink dried on that contract, there was an expectation level that Barber would have to live up to.
Fast forward to the 2010 season, where Barber only managed to produce 374 yards and that 4.8 average dropped all the way down to an average of 3.3 yards per rush. Those are not the kind of numbers you expect from someone with all of the hype and earning all that money.
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When you rush for over 1,700 yards as a sophomore in college, you create a lot of attention for yourself. When the team that drafts you, the St. Louis Rams, trades Pro Bowler Jerome Bettis on draft day to the Pittsburgh Steelers to create an open spot for you, that really puts you up on a pinnacle that sets very high level of expectations.
Those were the circumstances that Lawrence Phillips entered in to the NFL. With some character issues at Nebraska, some teams passed over Phillips, but the Rams believed in him and made him the sixth overall pick in the 1996 draft. So, what did Phillips do to pay back the Rams for their investment in him?
As a rookie, he gained 632 yards in 11 starts. In his second year, Phillips balked at coming to practice due to an issue he had with head coach Dick Vermeil over playing time. Vermeil's hand was forced, and the Rams decided to waive Phillips. His Rams career was done before two seasons came and went. Jerome Bettis went on to be a start with the Steelers for 10 years, one of the most regrettable moves of the Rams' franchise.
Things continued to spiral downward for Phillips. He had stints with the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, the Arena Football League, NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League. One of the more memorable plays during this phase of his career was his whiff of a block that allowed Aeneas Williams to knock San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young unconscious. Young was never the same after that, and it led to his career ending early.
For having all that promise and letting down so many people, Phillips was about as overrated as you could be.
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Vince Young seemed to have the world on a string when he led Texas to the national championship game over USC. My how things have changed. Young was voted the top quarterback in college and finished second to Reggie Bush for the Heisman Trophy award.
The Tennessee Titans made him the third overall draft pick in the 2006 NFL draft Young went on become the NFL Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl team. He repeated that honor in 2009 and went on to be the Sporting News NFL Comeback Player of the Year. So, with all of the glory of being a national champion and winning all the hardware, Young had established himself as a star with a long career ahead of him.
Then 2010 happened. Young had an ongoing feud with head coach Jeff Fischer that led to Young riding the bench for extended periods of time during his career with the Titans. Young exploded during a game and threw his shoulder pads up in the crowd. He had a meltdown with Fischer and was removed as the starter. Young was on a suicide watch, becoming despondent after all of the problems.
In an ironic twist, both Fisher and Young lost their position with the Titans, as neither one will be with the team in 2011. What happens to Young going forward remains a mystery. Perhaps playing for a head coach that believes in him will help, but for now, Young remains an overrated player, hoping for a chance to prove that he can become a champion again.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneer running back Cadillac Williams built up a very impressive profile due to what he accomplished at Auburn University. Consider the following information from his college career.
Williams gained 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns. He averaged 5.2 yards per rush attempt. He was SEC Player of the Week nine times, which is the most in the history of the SEC. He holds the all-time Auburn records for rushes and touchdowns and only trails Bo Jackson for rushing yards.
When you consider all of that, the bar was already set very high when Williams entered the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2005, head coach Jon Gruden had the Bucs draft Williams with the fifth overall pick of the NFL draft. Williams lived up to his billing and gained over 1,000 rushing yards and became NFL Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately for Williams, that would be the only season of his career that he ever eclipsed the 4.0 yards per rush level, as he finished with a 4.1 for the season.
If you continually rush for under 4.0 yards per attempt you will eventually be replaced. Williams has seen his average drop below that threshold for every year since his rookie campaign of 2005. He suffered a number of injuries at Auburn and that history followed him to Tampa Bay where he was limited to a handful of games in 2007 and 2008, gaining just 208 and 233 yards respectfully.
But Williams played in all 16 games in both 2009 and 2010, but still couldn't reach his earlier levels of play. In 2010, he was outgained by undrafted rookie free agent LeGarrette Blount 1,007 to 437 yards. Running backs have a shorter shelf life in the NFL because of all the pounding they take each week. But when you arrive on the scene like Williams did, it is difficult to not be considered overrated.
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We mentioned earlier the poll that Sports Illustrated ran where they surveyed 269 NFL players to find out who were the most overrated players were. Interestingly enough, both New York City quarterbacks finished in the top five vote-getters for being the most overrated players in the league.
A win in the Super Bowl apparently only buys you a certain amount of respect these days. Guess you could say that Eli is playing to a tough crowd. Part of his lack of appeal stems from the bloodline, starting with his dad Archie Manning and then of course his older brother Peyton.
Maybe it started out with his refusal to play for the San Diego Chargers, the team that drafted him and forced a trade to the New York Giants. That is not the greatest way to start off your career, making demands before you have even established yourself.
So, if that means that Eli Manning is on this slide, and there is only one slide left, then we can deduce that the final slide of the presentation would have to be another New York City quarterback.
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Mark Sanchez has led the New York Jets to two consecutive AFC Championship games. But according to NFL players, he is still getting way to much press or recognition for what the overall team is accomplishing.
The Jets employ one of the most dynamic defenses in the league. Head coach Rex Ryan gets the most out of his players and has them fired up to play. But Sanchez manages the game plan okay, but somehow this skill is sufficient for him to be treated as if he is a superstar, which he obviously is not.
The Jets selected Sachez with the fifth overall draft pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Sanchez was the first USC quarterback that did not use up all of his collegiate eligibility since Todd Marinovich, who we discussed earlier in the presentation. Sanchez so far has had a rocky road from a pure performance perspective.
In 2009, Sanchez had 12 touchdown passes to 20 interceptions, which is not a very good ratio. He completed only 53.8 percent of his passes. In 2010, he improved the ratio to 17 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions, but once again completed less than 60 percent of his passes (54.8). His QB passer rating for 2009 was 63.0 and it went up to 75.3 in 2010. He was sacked 53 times in his first two seasons.
For the amount of media attention he gets out of New York City, compared to the level of his play, it is easy to see why NFL players voted him as so overrated. Maybe he will make believers out of the league in 2011.