32 Teams, 32 Epic Fails
The best thing about sports is that it's played by humans. We are all fallible. Every person on the earth has flaws, and for professional athletes, those flaws are on display for millions and millions of people on a weekly basis.
Even the best teams lose between three and five games in the year, usually due to some unfortunate miscues and badly timed plays, so for every team there should be at least one "fail" situation and I'm just the guy to find them all.
This article is to show that from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low in the NFL world: Everybody fails.
Arizona Cardinals: Letting Go of Tim Hightower
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I considered making the Cardinals' biggest fail of 2011 the trade for Kevin Kolb, but that didn't seem quite right. Yes, they gave up a second round pick and a potential pro-bowler, but it's not as though Kolb has been worthless for the team. He's actually been fairly effective. When it comes to fails, giving up on Tim Hightower is probably a bigger fail.
Hightower was signed by the Redskins in the offseason and promptly faced his old team in week two. In the Redskins/Cardinals matchup, Hightower started and gained over 100 yards from scrimmage. Hightower looks like a stud this year, and I'm predicting over 1000 yards rushing for him this year barring an injury.
Still, he was never given a chance with the Cardinals because the team took Beanie Wells in the first round. Well, Wells and backup running back Larod Stephens-Howling were both prominently featured on the injury report week three. Hightower would have been nice to have considering he got 20 touches and scored a TD this week.
Bewteen Hightower and giving up as much as they did for Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals are likely to be back near the bottom of the league this year.
Atlanta Falcons: Trading the Future for Julio Jones.
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I know people are going to tell me that Julio Jones has made a big impact on the Atlanta Falcons and that this slide is way off base. Yes, Jones has been valuable to the team, but you need to consider other parts of the Jones deal before you call it a good trade.
Think for a second about how valuable a first round pick is. It lets you choose from the cream of the college crops a player among the 32 best in the country. In fact, every draft pick is a potential starter, from the number one overall pick down to Mr. Irrelevant.
The Falcons gave up five draft picks for Julio Jones: a first, second and fourth round pick in 2011 and a first and fourth round pick in 2012 for one player.
That wouldn't be an issue if the team was full of young players, but the Falcons actually have 16 players set to turn 30 or older in 2012 on their roster, including Tony Gonzales, Michael Turner, John Abraham and Roddy White.
It's fine though, the Falcons can always draft guys... oh wait.
The team traded away the future to win right now. It will come back to bite them.
Baltimore Ravens: Losing to Tennessee Week Two
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The Baltimore Ravens were riding high after beating the Steelers 35-7 in week one. Maybe a little too high, actually. The team came back the next week and laid an egg against a Tennessee team that had lost to a team with Luke McCown as their starting quarterback in week one.
Yes, the Titans came in and shocked the Ravens in week two, and it was bizarre.
When you think of the Tennessee Titans, you should automatically think Chris Johnson. After all, CJ has been among the league leaders in yards since he was drafted in the first round by Tennessee years ago. If you lose to the Titans because Chris Johnson goes off for 120 yards and a touchdown or two, that's understandable. It happens. If you lose to the Titans and Chris Johnson rushes for only 53 yards, then that's bad.
Johnson's disappointing 53 yards rushing was actually better than Ray Rice managed, by the way. The damage was done by 96-year-old QB Matt Hasselbeck against the Ravens vaunted secondary. Hasselbeck threw for 358 yards. The Ravens, on the other hand, had 226 yards of total offense and three turnovers. Ouch.
I'm sure Ravens fans would like to forget about that game, and it shouldn't be so hard considering the shalacking the team put on the Rams this week. Still, that embarrassing loss is there.
Buffalo Bills: 4th Quarter Defense vs. Raiders
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The Buffalo Bills are 3-0 this season, and it's time for people to start taking them seriously. That doesn't mean, however, that the team hasn't had its share of fails.
The biggest fail was the Bills' fourth quarter defense against the Raiders in week two. After going down 21-3 in the first half, the Bills' offense took off in the second half. They scored three straight touchdowns to start the second half, and took the lead for the first time early in the fourth quarter on a Fred Jackson touchdown run.
At that point the defense gave up a quick touchdown.
Then Ryan Fitzpatrick said "It's fine, I'll take care of this," and proceeded to lead another touchdown drive to retake the lead with under five minutes left. Five plays and 88 yards later, the Raiders were in the endzone again with a 50 yard pass. The drive lasted only one minute and seven seconds.
Someone on that coaching staff really should have reminded the Bills defense that the goal is to keep the other team from scoring, because they blew two fourth quarter leads in the same game. The defense had Fitzpatrick to bail them out, so it turned out OK, but if Fitz hadn't won that game for them, the Bills defense would be the Bills of old, not the shiny new Bills team we've seen in 2011.
Carolina Panthers: Wasting Cam Newton's Passing Records on Losses
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Very rarely do you see a rookie quarterback start his career with a good game. Even more rare is seeing a QB start his career with a 400 yard game. As far as starting your career with two 400-yard games, well that's never happened until Cam Newton did it this season.
Of course, that didn't stop the Panthers from starting out 0-2.
During those two games, the Panthers gave up 58 points. Even after a rain game against the toothless Jaguars, the Panthers have allowed the second worst yards per play average of any team. They also struggled mightily running the ball, probably because the coaching staff gave up on it entirely too quickly.
The Panthers' defense is not terrible. They actually rank right in the middle of the league in yards per game, and have fifty yards more offensively than they've allowed defensively. How do you do that and still start 0-2? By allowing quick strike touchdowns, that's how.
Cam had 832 yards passing after two games and didn't get any wins for it. What a waste.
Chicago Bears: Allowing so Many Sacks and Hits on Jay Cutler
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When the Bears gave up Kyle Orton, two first-round picks and a third rounder to get Jay Cutler, they thought they had landed a franchise quarterback. You wouldn't know it from the way the team has allowed Cutler to be brutalized by opponents.
Get this: Cutler is on pace to take over 100 hits this year. The team has also allowed him to be sacked 11 times in only three games. After the Bears' week two game, Cutler couldn't talk. He had his throat injured by an opposing defender.
Obviously, Cutler can't throw his offensive line under the bus, but every writer worth his salt knows that Cutler won't last the year at the pace things are going now.
In his first three seasons with the Broncos, Cutler took a total of 45 sacks. In his first year with the Bears, the team gave up 50 sacks. Honestly, they haven't gotten much better up front since then. It's forced Cutler to be super-jumpy in the pocket in his time in Chicago, and has led Cutler to throw a bunch of interceptions.
It's really too bad for Bears fans to have to watch a good QB go to waste.
Cincinati Bengals: Everything
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Seriously, the Bengals have done almost nothing right this season. They failed to resign Jonathan Joseph and forced Carson Palmer into retirement by not trading him. They lost the wide receiver weapons they had last year, and are stuck with Andy Dalton (who doesn't have a great arm) as their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
If you were expecting the Bengals to be even remotely relevant this year, then you will be disappointed. No more details are necessary.
Cleveland Browns: Offensive Disappointments This Season
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It's really hard to be an effective player on the 26th ranked offense in the NFL, but still, Browns fans must be disappointed by Peyton Hillis' performance this year. He was injured last week, and has managed 150 rushing yards to this point. Hillis also is tied for the most receptions on the team... with 10 catches through three games.
For a team with the Madden '12 cover boy at running back, they rank 22nd in rushing. It'd be hard to blame their ineffectiveness on an offensive line that has pro-bowler Joe Thomas.
The big wrench in the teams' offensive effectiveness is Colt McCoy. Despite playing like an all-star in the preseason, McCoy has come back to his normal self in the regular season with a 54 percent completion rate and a 78.4 rating.
Fortunately, they have enough picks from the Falcons to add some offensive players next year (cough, cough wide receiver). This year, though, there's not much going on offensively in Cleveland.
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo Injuries
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Last season, the Cowboys lost Tony Romo for the year. Then they proceeded to fall flat on their faces last season with Jon Kitna leading the offense.
In week three of the season, Romo already has a few broken ribs and a punctured lung. He also struggled at the end of the Jets game in week one, but it's much more concerning for Cowboys fans to have questions about your quarterback's health.
The Cowboys have looked a lot better this year than last year through three weeks. If Romo can't stay healthy, Dallas is in trouble.
Denver Broncos: The Tim Tebow Circus Sideshow
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The drafting of Tim Tebow very likely cost Josh McDaniels his head coaching job in Denver. Tim Tebow may have cost the Broncos an offseason of nothing but headaches.
First, there were whispers that Tebow would take over as the starting quarterback in 2011. The Broncos were rumored to be looking seriously into trading Kyle Orton. There were strong links made between the Broncos and the Dolphins. A trade was said to be close. It was almost "Tebow Time".
Then it turned out that Tebow hadn't improved his mechanics. He still didn't look like a starting quarterback. He struggled in preseason, and the Miami Dolphins said that they never made a serious offer for Orton.
So now, Tebow went from being hyped up as the new starter to being the talk of the town to being talked about just because he is not ready for the NFL. It's become a whole saga in Denver, and all that talk has to be annoying and frustrating for a team trying to recover from the unfortunate McDaniels era.
Detroit Lions: Trailing 20-0 vs. the Vikings
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The Minnesota Vikings are not going to be a good team this year. The team blew up their defensive line because of age and lost Brett Favre to retirement. To replace him, they brought in the not-so-gracefully aging Donovan McNabb. Admittedly, McNabb has done fairly well in the first few games, but he is not a longterm solution at the QB position.
He played especially well during the first half of this week's game, when the Vikings took a 20-0 lead against the Lions.
Yes. The team that has scored forty points a week for the first two weeks of the season was down by 20 points in the first half. They got shut out in the first half. They allowed the Minnesota Vikings to move effectively up and down the field. The Lions' offense was extremely ineffective through two painful quarters.
The Lions aren't the only team to let the Vikings get an early jump on them, but it still has to be embarrassing for a team as good as the Lions to go into halftime with an 0-2 team like that.
Green Bay Packers: Allowing 475 Yards to the Panthers
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The Green Bay Packers had one of the best defenses in the NFL last year. You would never be able to tell from the teams week two performance against the Carolina Panthers.
I had heard that Cam Newton's first drive of that game was a sight to see, so I decided to cue it up on NFL game pass and watch it. When I watched, of course Cam made some very nice throws, but more importantly, the Packers' secondary was torched by the Panthers' tight ends and WR Steve Smith.
Steve Smith is a good receiver who only disappeared once the Panthers' quarterback situation got out of control. Still, Smith is over thirty and the Packers struggled to generate any pass rush. It's also worth noting that the same offense that put up 475 yards against the Packers managed only 265 yards against the Jaguars defense.
Green Bay still won the game, but allowing all that yardage is not a good sign for a defense and would be pretty embarrassing.
Houston Texans: Defense Allowing 40 Points to Drew Brees
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The Houston Texans made it their first priority to address their secondary this offseason. Last year, they couldn't stop anyone. They had the 32nd best defense last year, and allowed more passing yardage per game than at least five teams allowed in total yardage per game.
The team went out and signed a few free agents in the secondary and drafted three DBs in the draft. They did everything they could to change their secondary as completely as they could. Still, this week against the New Orleans Saints, the old Texans showed their faces.
The Texans allowed 370 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air to Drew Brees. The Saints were down 15 points in the fourth quarter, but came back on three straight offensive drives to score touchdowns and take a seven point win.
This type of failure on defense is what has been keeping the Texans from achieving for years. The team is trying to convince the world that they're past the days of the hapless Texans. After this week, I'm not so sure they are.
Indianapolis Colts: No Backup Plan for Peyton Manning
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When people talk about the great teams of the 2000's, the instant answers are the Patriots and the Colts. They have the two great quarterbacks of the decade, and that carried over through each of those players' careers.
The difference between the two teams, however, is that when Tom Brady went down for the season, the Patriots had a backup plan. Matt Cassel came in for that year, and while there was a clear drop-off on the offensive side of the ball, Cassel still played well enough to get more than 10 wins.
When Peyton Manning went down, potentially for the entire year in 2011, there was no Matt Cassel-esque player on the Colts' roster. They had Curtis Painter, and they bribed old grampa Kerry Collins out of the retirement home with some new teeth and a picture of Jim Irsay's grandchildren.
Obviously, I'm making fun, but at some point a team is supposed to consider the future of the franchise and it's become clear that the Colts did not. There are rumors floating around that the team was interested in David Garrard, who was recently dropped by the division rival Jaguars.
They're beyond desperate at this point. Epic failure on the Colts' part.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Releasing David Garrard
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A lot of fans at the beginning of the season were calling for Blaine Gabbert to start week one. The Jaguars organization, on the other hand, insisted that David Garrard was the starting QB. The plan was to give Gabbert, who many scouts said would take time to develop in the NFL, some time to sit behind a solid starting QB in Garrard.
Garrard was not playing well at all in the preseason, but most people were still shocked to hear that the Jaguars put Garrard, a five-year starter for the team, out on his butt. Without Garrard, the Jaguars were reduced to starting Luke McCown and letting Gabbert sit. Of course, the thing the Jaguars forgot to consider is that McCown is not even remotely good.
As it stands right now, Gabbert is the starter and will remain the starter. Still, when comparing storylines, there are a very low number of teams who go from naming three different starting quarterbacks (not due to injuries) in the first month of the season and having any success.
The Jaguars magically have the 4th ranked defense in yards allowed after being near the bottom of the league last year. Still, the Jaguars are 31st in points per game and have rushed for more yardage than they've passed this year.
That's a pretty major fail!
Kansas City Chiefs: Complete Defensive Collapse
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The Kansas City Chiefs allowed 350 total yards, including 150 total yards and two touchdowns to Ryan Matthews this week.
Why is that a fail?
Because it is night and day better than the previous two games the team has played this year. The Chiefs allowed 89 points over the first two games of the season in 2011, while also ranking 32nd in scoring offensively.
After having a very successful pass rush last year, the team has only three sacks in their first three games. That's not terrible, but it's nothing to hang your hat on, especially if you've allowed more points than anyone else in the NFL.
For a team that looked last year like they were going to finally keep the Chargers out of the playoffs for a while, the Chiefs came back down to earth very quickly.
Miami Dolphins: Yards vs. Points Disparity
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The Miami Dolphins have an effective offense. They are in the top half (12th) of the NFL in total yards and boast a top 10 running game, even without Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. As far as offensive statistics are concerned, the Dolphins defense is not bad at all.
So why are they 27th in points per game this year?
The answer is somewhat of a mystery. It's certainly a significant factor that the team has had to settle for nine field goal attempts through only three games. Three of those field goals, by the way, were missed.
I'm sure many would like to blame Chad Henne, claiming he is an ineffective quarterback, but Henne's numbers aren't terrible this year. Henne has thrown for four touchdowns and three interceptions through three games (on pace for 20-15, which is a pretty good season) and a shade under 260 yards per game through the air. It's good enough for a passable 82.4 rating.
The real answer to this riddle is somewhere else. Perhaps the team gets terrible field position regularly. Maybe they have trouble powering the ball into the end zone. Who knows? Still, to gain as much yardage as the Dolphins do and not have the points to show for it is frustrating for fans and worthy of being called a fail.
Minnesota Vikings: Three Weeks, Three Blown Leads
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The Vikings have played three great halves of football this season. Unfortunately, they've all come in the first half of games and they fail at holding leads in the second half.
This week's collapse against the Lions was nothing new. The Vikings have failed to hold significant leads in every one of their games this season. The team led 17-7 in week one only to lose to the Chargers 24-17. The Vikings got ahead of the Buccaneers 17-0 at halftime week two before losing 24-20. This week, they had their hearts crushed again by blowing a 20-0 lead at halftime to lose 26-23 in overtime to the Lions.
The team has a penchant for (as the old saying goes) snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Adrian Peterson, the most talented running back in the NFL, rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown this week. Of those 78 yards, only five of them came in the second half.
These late-game collapses need to be solved by the team and soon. There's nothing more worthy of a fail than losing a game you really feel like you should win. Another late loss and this team's spirit might be truly broken.
New England Patriots: Brady's Four Interception Game
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Tom Brady is the class of the NFL. There should be no question about that. He's so good that I often just take it for granted that he's going to have an incredible game week in and week out. He was the clear winner of the NFL player of the week award for each of the first two weeks of the 2011 season. Of course, in week three, Brady didn't have an incredible game. He actually had a pretty bad one.
Tom Brady threw for four interceptions in a loss to the Bills this week.
Yeah, I'll give you all some time to read that statement again.
Brady threw four picks and the Bills beat the Patriots. First there's an economic crisis, then the whole "global warming" thing, and now this. The way I see it, we're one Horseman away from a bonafide "end of days" situation.
The Pats have nothing to worry about in the long run. They are still stacked with talent and as safe a bet as there is to be a playoff team this year, but it's no small embarrassment to lose to a team after winning the last 15 matchups straight. Heck, thanks to Brady's picks, the Pats don't even lead their division right now.
New Orleans Saints: Week One vs. the Packers
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The New Orleans Saints are a good team. They have a solid group of young players at the skill positions and a top five quarterback in Drew Brees. However, watching that team week one against the Packers was embarrassing.
The Saints allowed Aaron Rodgers to complete 77 percent of his passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns. The tackling week one was reminiscent of the play that need not be mentioned from last years playoffs. The defensive line addition of Shawn Rogers proved to be a weakness and not a strength.
When all was said and done, the Saints' defense allowed over 425 yards to the Packers. They surrendered 21 points in the first quarter alone, and nine yards per pass attempt for the game.
It's also worth noting that this is not an isolated incident. The Texans dropped about 425 yards on the Saints defense in week three also. It's something that should very much concern Saints fans. Drew Brees is not a robot, and there will be weeks where he fails as much as the defense failed week one.
New York Giants: Pass Defense
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All things considered, the Giants pass defense hasn't been nearly as bad as it could have been the past few weeks. The team lost two starting corners in the preseason: Terrell Thomas for the season and rookie Prince Amukamara for about half of the season.
Still, the Giants have been less-than-stellar stopping the pass this season. The most embarrassing game was the beatdown the Giants defense got from Rex Grossman week one. That's right, Rex Grossman.
To give you an idea, Grossman, in his past two games, has had a passer rating of 74.9 and 77.5. Not bad, but not good either. Week one against the Giants, Grossman threw for 305 yards and two 2 TDs for a 110.5 rating.
Week two, Sam Bradford threw for 331 yards against the Giants. In his other two games, he's combined to throw for 354 yards. That's what I call a "Giant" Fail... Your courtesy laughter is appreciated.
Anyway, the Giants can overcome their struggles in the secondary if their pass rush is working well, but any team that can give their QB some time against the G-men will rack up some big yardage.
New York Jets: Shonn Greene
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Shonn Greene is made of fail. Enough said.
I think that the Jets have managed to convince themselves whoever they play at running back will succeed. That's why they have been so gung-ho about dropping players like Leon Washington and Thomas Jones and adding a 32-year-old Ladanian Tomlinson.
As cute and naive as that is, I don't agree with Mr. Jefferson's belief that all men are created equal. All men are not created equal, and Shonn Greene averaging 3.3 yards per carry behind the same line that gave runners last year 4.4 yards a carry should be proof of that.
The Jets were 4th in the league running the ball in 2010. In 2011, they're 25th. Fail.
Oakland Raiders: Defensive Backs
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Do you remember back in the day when the Oakland Raiders had more speedy, talented corners than they knew what to do with? What happened since then?
The Raiders pass defense has been a huge issue for the team this year. The team has allowed the fifth most passing yards through three games, and beyond that, the defense has failed at so many key moments.
The Raiders surrendered three fourth quarter touchdowns in their loss to the Bills week two. Kyle Orton threw for over three hundred yards in week one, and Mark Sanchez torched the Raiders for 369 yards this week, as well.
The Raiders must really wish they still had Nnamdi Asomugha... Fail!
Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Vick's Fragility
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With Michael Vick coming off of the best year of his career in 2010, the way was paved for him to bring home a championship.
Vick became a $100 million man, Kevin Kolb was shipped off to Arizona, and Vick was a media darling and the leader of Vince Young's "dream team." Of course, that works as long as Vick stays healthy. So far, he hasn't been able to.
Vick has been knocked out of each of the last two games due to a concussion week two and a hand injury week three. The season hangs in the balance every time Vick takes a hit, which ,by the way has been fairly often the last few weeks. He even compained about referees "not protecting him" after his week three. I'm sure Jay Cutler sympathizes with Vick... Not!
If Vick fails to stay healthy, the Eagles fail to win games. Right now, the team is 1-2. They need Vick badly.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Week One vs. Ravens
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The Steelers have long been the class of the AFC North. Week one... not so much.
The Steelers turned the ball over seven times against the Baltimore Ravens in week one and lost big; 35-7. Ben Roethlisberger, by himself, accounted for five turnovers. He was plastered often by Ravens defenders and had two fumbles to go with his three interceptions. As you can see from the picture above, the team still can't block anybody.
Since then, the team has recovered well. With a win this week over the Colts, the Steelers are now 2-1, tied for the division lead with the Ravens.
San Diego Chargers: Tom Brady vs. Chargers Defense
The San Diego Chargers are not the only team to be torched by Tom Brady this year. They did, however, get absolutely torched by Tom Brady this year.
Brady threw for 423 yards in a 35-21 Patriots win. Basically, the Chargers looked terrible. Deion Branch came back from the dead to make eight catches for 129 yards and Rob Gronkowski (the second best receiving tight end on the Pats) caught 88 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
I don't want to beat a dead horse here, so I'll just say it wasn't pretty and leave it at that.
San Fransisco 49ers: Alex Smith
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Alex Smith is the starting quarterback for the 49ers. After a long, disappointing career in San Francisco, Smith is still in charge of the 49ers offense.
Behind Smith's sterling leadership, the team has amassed 213 yards as part of the league's 32nd best offense. Yuck.
Fortunately, the team has benefitted from strong special teams as a defensive play. However, Smith has not been nearly as effective as one would like from a quarterback. Hopefully, Colin Kaepernick comes through for the team sooner rather than later, because there's no way Alex Smith will be called on again in 2012.
Seattle Seahawks: Tarvaris Jackson
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The Seahawks starting quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson. Like... I don't even...
Fail! Fail! Fail!
Saint Louis Rams: Sam Bradford
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The Rams' wunderkind had a nice rookie year last year. In 2011, well, not so much.
The QB has earned almost half of his yardage through the air against the Giants' depleted secondary and has thrown for under 200 yards in each of his other two games.
I didn't really have much faith in the guy to begin with, but now I'm seriously questioning whether Bradford is what he's cracked up to be.
And when is Steven Jackson going to finally stay healthy for a full year? Never? That's what I thought.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Young DE's
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The Tampa Bay Bucs were extremely excited to have two big name defensive ends fall right into their laps during the draft. The team added Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers in the hopes that their newly drafted defensive line would help the team get off to a quick start.
The team is 2-1 in this young season, but so far, the Tampa defensive line has two total sacks. One from Adrian Clayborn and one from Brian Price. Where is this Bowers guy the team was so excited about? What's Gerald McCoy been up to?
Everyone around the league was scared by the pass-rushing ability of the Bucs. So far, it hasn't been much of a threat.
Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson
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Chris Johnson went from fantasy stud last year to a virtual nobody this year. He's gained only 98 yards, and the team is averaging a league worst 51.7 yards per game on the ground.
Seriously, after all that Johnson has accomplished, and all the complaining he did in the offseason about wanting a bigger contract, Johnson is now averaging 2.1 yards per carry. He's had no running room at all, and hasn't proven that he can make the yards for himself. If he's not playing well, the Titans are in trouble.
Washington Redskins: Chris Cooley
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Chris Cooley, when healthy, is a great player. He has exceptional skills as a receiver and can make a huge impact for the Redskins, especially with the resurgence of quarterback Rex Grossman.
The problem is, Cooley has only six catches for 62 yards in three games. His backup, Fred Davis, has 12 catches for over 210 yards and a touchdown. I had thought earlier in the year that Cooley would keep Davis off the field, but it seems as though Davis is threatening to overtake Cooley permanently as the Redskins' starting TE.
Anyone who had high hopes for Cooley, including and especially his fantasy owners, have to be very disappointed by his performance thus far. An unsettled QB situation doesn't help his outlook for the future, either.