Pull the Plug: One Player Every NFL Team Should Bench

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystSeptember 27, 2017

Pull the Plug: One Player Every NFL Team Should Bench

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    The NFL is considered the ultimate meritocracy. This is the league's great lie.

    Individuals often maintain significant roles without the requisite performance to warrant such a position. Contractual obligations or draft status can overrule on-field achievements. 

    Multiple starters or significant contributors on every roster aren't playing up to expectations and should have their roles decreased. Whether they're outright benched or used in a different manner, their teams would be better off addressing problem areas instead of letting them fester. 

    Even three weeks into the 2017 NFL season, trends have started to develop. 

    Coaches often discuss putting the best players on the field. They needed to follow through with that approach instead of spouting platitudes.

Arizona Cardinals: RT Jared Veldheer

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    The Arizona Cardinals offensive line is already in shambles, but the coaching staff must address right tackle due to Jared Veldheer's poor play. 

    Veldheer made the transition from left to right tackle, and it hasn't gone well. As a unit, the Cardinals surrendered six sacks Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys. 

    "Just wasn't good enough," Veldheer said afterward, per ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss

    The eight-year veteran couldn't hold Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in check. Lawerence is developing into one of the league's better pass-rushers, and Veldheer struggled to mirror the athletic edge-defender. 

    "I don't think it has anything to do with right tackle," general manager Steve Keim said Tuesday on the Doug & Wolf Show (via Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site). "The fact of the matter is he has to get better. He's got to improve all the little things … his footwork, his technique, his hand placement and get back to basics."

Atlanta Falcons: TE Levine Toilolo

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    For some unknown reason, tight end Levine Toilolo has been a constant presence in the Atlanta Falcons' lineup since the 2014 campaign. He's never caught more than 31 passes in a season and doesn't have a single reception through three weeks of play.

    Toilolo has never been a top-notch blocking tight end, either. At 6'8" and 265 pounds, the Stanford product could be a big-time red-zone target, but he isn't.

    Yes, the Falcons love to employ 12 personnel (one running back with two tight ends), and Austin Hooper is becoming a bigger part of the offense. It still isn't enough. The second-year tight end only has five receptionsincluding his 88-yard touchdown scamper in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears. 

    Atlanta has plenty of offensive weapons. Toilolo isn't one of them. Hooper can be. 

Baltimore Ravens: QB Joe Flacco

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    The entire Baltimore Ravens team should be benched after Sunday's pathetic effort against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But that isn't feasible. Doing something of substance at the quarterback position would sure rock the boat, though. 

    The Ravens are 2-1 in spite of Joe Flacco's startling decline. He's completed fewer than 10 passes in two of the team's first three games. 

    According to Pro Football Focus' Lorin Cox, Flacco didn't even throw the ball for positive yardage in London. The meager 28 yards he did manage all came from receivers after the catch. 

    "I could probably go back through each drive and tell you what happened, but you saw it. It just is what it is," Flacco said after the 44-7 loss to the Jaguars, per ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley. "We couldn't complete a pass. We couldn't keep any chunks and we couldn't complete first downs."

    Flacco ranks among the bottom 10 quarterbacks in completion percentage, yardage and quarterback rating, and he ranks dead last in yards per attempt. Despite what Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson apparently believes, Flacco isn't elite. In fact, he isn't that good at all. 

Buffalo Bills: DT Marcell Dareus

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    The Buffalo Bills are likely stuck with Marcell Dareus, even if they wanted to move on from the two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman. His mammoth contract is impossible to unload. 

    As such, head coach Sean McDermott must deal with the mercurial talent. Last week, he told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network that the team needs more "urgency" from the defensive tackle. 

    "At times. I'm going to be very honest about it, at times. At other times, not really," McDermott said. "This bus is moving and at the end of this year, we're going to have a pretty good feel for who's on the bus and who's not, and everyone knows that, I would hope."

    Dareus sat out Sunday's contest against the Denver Broncos with an ankle injury. McDermott already sent the talented defender home prior to a preseason contest due to a team rule violation. 

    An individual doesn't need to be in the lineup to find out whether he's ready to get on the bus and move forward with his teammates.

Carolina Panthers: LT Matt Kalil

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    To paraphrase the late, great Dennis Green, "Matt Kalil is who we thought he was, and the Carolina Panthers are letting him off the hook." 

    The NFL placed a premium on veteran offensive linemen during free agency. Even so, many blanched when Kalil agreed to a five-year, $55 million deal with the Panthers. 

    Why? Because Kalil turned out to be a first-round disappointment after the Minnesota Vikings selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. 

    Lo and behold, he's been a disappointment in Carolina so far. Kalil already surrendered four sacks, which is tied for second-worst among offensive linemen, according to Pro Football Focus

    It's time for Carolina to consider younger options such as John Theus, Taylor Moton or Daryl Williams. 

Chicago Bears: QB Mike Glennon

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    The end is nigh for Mike Glennon's reign as the Chicago Bears' starting quarterback.

    Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is doing everything in his power to hide Glennon's deficiencies. Glennon completed only 15 passes during Sunday's 23-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen did most of the work. 

    In fact, Glennon attempted only one pass that traveled more than 10 yards downfield, per WGN Radio's Adam Hoge. The Bears quarterback has tried the push the ball down the field 20 yards or further only twice this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information (via ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson). 

    Joe Flacco is the only starting quarterback to average fewer yards per attempt than Glennon's 5.75. 

    A team trying this hard to minimize its quarterback needs to realize it has the No. 2 overall pick sitting on the bench waiting for his turn. 

Cincinnati Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

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    Sometimes a player performs so well, a coach can no longer come up with a reason why he shouldn't be on the field. Such is the case for Cincinnati Bengals rookie linebacker Carl Lawson, who is forcing his way into the team's starting lineup, while Nick Vigil is merely a placeholder.  

    The Bengals coaching staff is trying to bring Lawson along slowly as the collegiate edge-defender transitions to "Sam" linebacker. However, he's been nothing short of outstanding when it comes to applying pressure on quarterbacks. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Lawson finished second overall this past weekend with 10 quarterback pressures. The fourth-round selection is second on the team with 2.5 sacks. 

    Vontaze Burfict is set to return to the Bengals lineup Sunday after serving a three-game suspension. Between his return and Lawson's standout play, Vigil's role will significantly diminish in the coming weeks. 

Cleveland Browns: WR Kenny Britt

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    Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson needs to hold his players accountable and send a message after another 0-3 start. 

    The entire wide receiver corps has been awful, but the team had to expect more from Kenny Britt after signing him to a four-year, $32.5 million contract in free agency. Five receptions for 69 yards isn't good enough through three weeks.

    Jackson already approached Britt about his lack of effort. 

    "I mean, he wants me to step up, bring more energy to practice and to the field, on and off the field and in the classroom," the receiver said, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "Because we're leading down a path that we didn't believe we were going to go."

    Britt is supposed to be the steadying presence in the Browns' passing game, yet he has already dropped multiple passes. Jackson needs consistency from his receivers to help 21-year-old quarterback DeShone Kizer.

    Kasen Williams, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Leslie deserve more opportunities, and they can't be any worse than Britt has been. 

Dallas Cowboys: OG Chaz Green

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    The Dallas Cowboys offensive line isn't right.

    Last year's group steamrolled its way through the NFL and earned the designation as the league's best. This season's play has been a far cry from last year's performance. 

    This is due in part to a pair of new starters trying to find their way. Left guard Chaz Green and right tackle La'el Collins have fallen short of the bar set by former starters Ronald Leary and Doug Free. 

    Green, in particular, has been a weak link. What makes his performance particularly disappointing is how he earned the job over Jonathan Cooper, who spent most of the preseason atop the depth chart. 

    Green's inability to consistently hold the point of attack while playing between two All-Pro performers is enough of an indictment to place Cooper into the lineup. 

Denver Broncos: OT Menelik Watson

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    Denver Broncos right tackle Menelik Watson performed well Sunday against the Buffalo Bills compared to his first two weeks of play. But a player shouldn't be applauded for doing his job at an adequate level after previously failing to do so. 

    Watson surrendered six sacks during Denver's first two games, per Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson. Some offensive tackles don't give up that many sacks over a multiyear period

    Whether it was with the Oakland Raiders or the Broncos, Watson's allure has always been his potential. He's never been a polished product, though, and it shows when he's asked to block the NFL's best edge-rushers. 

    For now, Denver may be reticent to bench Watson since rookie left tackle Garett Bolles is still dealing with a bone bruise in his knee and further injury could cause a major shakeup. Otherwise, Donald Stephenson or another lineman can take over on the strong side. 

Detroit Lions: TE Eric Ebron

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    The Detroit Lions continue to wait for Eric Ebron's breakthrough season. There are few tight ends as physically gifted as him, but he has yet to put it all together to become the force the organization expected when it drafted him 10th overall in 2014.

    Ebron's 6.7 yards per reception ranks 138th out of 152 eligible players. He led the position in drops last season and had two more during Detroit's 30-26 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, per Pro Football Focus (via DraftKings' Adam Levitan). Ebron only caught two passes against Atlanta for nine yards, despite being targeted seven times. 

    "Poor performance by me," Ebron tweeted. "I have to learn how to deal with adversity throughout the game. I'll be on my grind all week. See y'all next week."

    Meanwhile, Detroit fans continue to wait.

Green Bay Packers: LB Jake Ryan

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    Technically, Green Bay Packers linebacker Jake Ryan is already on the bench as he recovers from a shoulder injury. But head coach Mike McCarthy has a decision to make once his starting inside linebacker returns.

    With Ryan sidelined, rookie Joshua Jones has flourished in his place. The second-round pick led the Packers with 12 total tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks during Sunday's 27-24 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. 

    "He don't look like a rookie," defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois said, per Ryan Wood of Packers News. "If he's playing like a rookie, please show me. Because that kid is playing the way we need him to play." 

    Jones appears to be everything the Packers need in the middle of their defense, which begs the question of how or where Ryan fits in.

Houston Texans: OG Xavier Su'a-Filo

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    The entire Houston Texans offensive line needs a reset. Their play this season invokes the franchise's earliest days, when David Carr had no protection. 

    Any of the team's blockers could be singled out, yet Xavier Su'a-Filo gets the nod because the Texans coaching staff already benched him once this season. The fourth-year veteran has been overwhelmed at points and ranks as league's second-worst pass-blocking guard, per Pro Football Focus

    Potential improvements exist at left tackle and right guard. All the Texans have to do is agree to new terms with Duane Brown and wait for Jeff Allen to return from an ankle injury.

    Left guard and right tackle are far more worrisome. 

    Available upgrades exist on the free-agent market. Veterans such as Nick Mangold and John Greco should be strongly considered. The Texans must commit to improving their weakest unit, especially since they're starting a rookie quarterback in Deshaun Watson. 

Indianapolis Colts: RB Frank Gore

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    Frank Gore isn't a problem in the Indianapolis Colts backfield. The veteran running back is no longer part of the solution, either. 

    Gore will walk into the Hall of Fame once he retires. He is currently eighth in league history with 13,210 rushing yards. He should surpass Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson before the 2017 campaign is complete. 

    However, the 34-year-old's explosiveness and elusiveness are starting to fade. His 3.0 yards per carry is tied for 40th in the league. The lack of running room is partially attributable to Andrew Luck's absence, but backup Robert Turbin has been more effective in limited opportunities. 

    The Colts also have two younger options in Marlon Mack and Matt Jones, who they could begin to use more frequently as the season progresses. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Marqise Lee

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars morphed into a run-first offense after selecting Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in April's draft. But the team still needs its wide receivers to make plays on the outside and keep opponents' safeties honest. 

    Allen Robinson's season-ending knee injury didn't help. Allen Hurns' return to form has. Marqise Lee's play, meanwhile, has been suspect.

    Lee is second on the team with 11 receptions for 141 yards, yet he leads the team in targets (23). The former second-round pick is only catching 48 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. His drop rate is the third-worst among qualifying wide receivers, per Pro Football Focus

    The volume of passes thrown in Lee's direction should decrease while others receive more opportunities. Hurns can act as Blake Bortles' top option with Keelan Cole, Max McCaffrey and the recently acquired Jaelen Strong getting looks as well.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Chris Conley

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    The Kansas City Chiefs hoped to replace Jeremy Maclin with Chris Conley. He hasn't held up his end of that bargain. 

    The 24-year-old target had a lot placed on him. Tyreek Hill automatically became Alex Smith's top option in the passing game, yet Conley was asked to become a leader in the wide receiver room and learn multiple roles within the offensive scheme. 

    He has responded with six receptions for 98 yards through three games. 

    Conley is a big target (6'3" and 205 pounds) with the ability to stretch the field, yet quarterback Alex Smith hasn't looked to him often. Instead,  Albert Wilson, who works primarily out of the slot, is the team's second-most targeted wide receiver. 

    If Conley can't give the Chiefs more than he has, there's no reason why they shouldn't use Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson or De'Anthony Thomas more. 

Los Angeles Chargers: DT Brandon Mebane

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    Certain players hold value on a roster due to their experience and locker room presence. Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is one such example.

    "His leadership qualities are off the chain," defensive line coach Giff Smith before the 2017 campaign, per Ricky Henne of the Chargers' official site. "Just for a position coach to have that kind of leadership within your room, combined with his playmaking ability from the nose position; it makes my job so much easier."

    Mebane can be effective as a rotational player, but he's struggled as a starter. The 32-year-old veteran ranks 31st out of 34 defensive tackle qualifiers in run stop percentage, per Pro Football Focus. He has managed only one pressure, too. 

    The Chargers are loaded along their defensive front seven. Mebane doesn't need to be a focal point. 

Los Angeles Rams: LB Alec Ogletree

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams defense hasn't yet transitioned well to Wade Phillips' new defensive scheme. 

    Multiple defenders are struggling with the new system. The Rams rank 22nd overall in total defense and have surrendered 343.7 yards per contest. 

    Robert Quinn doesn't look comfortable at outside linebacker. Mo Alexander hasn't excelled at strong safety. The team needs to find a solid cornerback opposite Trumaine Johnson. 

    Alec Ogletree leads the Rams with 24 total tackles as he learns to play inside linebacker. However, he's looked lost at times, particularly in coverage. 

    He and Mark Barron are plenty athletic, but Los Angeles currently has the league's 29th-ranked run defense. 

Miami Dolphins: CB Byron Maxwell

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    The Miami Dolphins need help at cornerback in the worst way. Neither Byron Maxwell nor Xavien Howard are playing to the level expected of starting corners. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Maxwell ranks 97th out of 108 qualifying cornerbacks. Howard isn't much better. 

    Maxwell is more of a concern because he isn't a scheme fit in defensive coordinator Matt Burke's system. Burke prefers his corners to play off-coverage, while Maxwell excels when he can use his size and length to jam receivers near the line of scrimmage. 

    As a result, the seven-year veteran has struggled to maintain coverage against the opponent's top receivers.

    The Dolphins have two options. Either Howard can shadow opponents' No. 1 targets, or Alterraun Verner could move into a starting role as an outside corner. 

Minnesota Vikings: DT Tom Johnson

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    Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson isn't an every-down player. He's better suited as a rotational option used in sub-packages to collapse the pocket in pass-rush situations. 

    But the Vikings coaching staff had to compensate for Shariff Floyd being on injured reserve due to complications from a knee injury he suffered in 2016. 

    Johnson is listed at 288 pounds and struggles to hold up at the point of attack against bigger offensive linemen. This makes him a liability against opposing run games. 

    Johnson can't be faulted for any of this because he wasn't supposed to be the Vikings' starting 3-technique. Instead, head coach Mike Zimmer has the option to place a wide-body on the field during early downs, such as rookie Jaleel Johnson, and let Johnson flourish in his traditional role. 

New England Patriots: DT Adam Butler

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    New England Patriots nose tackle Alan Branch found himself in Bill Belichick's doghouse to start the season. The 350-pound defender appears to be crawling his way out after his performance Sunday against the Houston Texans. 

    Branch served as a tone-setter in the middle of the Patriots defense during last season's Super Bowl run, but he wasn't as effective to open this year. As a result, Adam Butler's role expanded. He isn't the same immovable option, though. 

    The Patriots rank 26th overall against the run and are surrendering 130.3 rushing yards per game. 

    Butler doesn't have the requisite bulk to demand consistent double-teams or hold the point of attack, which is a vital skill set in the Patriots defense. Branch needs to return to form, play more and provide Belichick with the same type of play he once demanded from Ted Washington and Vince Wilfork. 

New Orleans Saints: S Kenny Vaccaro

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    The New Orleans Saints must protect their assets. 

    Kenny Vaccaro played his best game of the season Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. The safety registered five total tackles, two deflected passes and an interception. 

    That performance should have increased his trade value among interested parties. 

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Saints attempted to trade Vaccaro following the first week of the season. Head coach Sean Payton benched him midway through New Orleans' 36-20 loss to the Patriots due to his inconsistent play.

    There's no better time for the Saints to trade Vaccaro than after a strong outing. The team already has his replacement in Vonn Bell, so there's reason to risk injury at this point. 

New York Giants: LT Ereck Flowers

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Ereck Flowers is the NFL's worst left tackle. 

    Flowers surrendered 134 quarterback pressures from the start of the 2015 campaign through Week 2 of the current season, according to Pro Football Focus' Mark Chichester. No other tackle allowed more than 116. 

    Flowers wasn't much better Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He made two major mistakes that cost his team during the 27-24 loss. 

    The Giants can't trot out Flowers every weekend expecting something different to happen. He isn't a natural left tackle. He doesn't have the athleticism or the technique necessary to excel at the position.

    While New York's options are limited, it needs to make a change in the worst way. 

New York Jets: WR Robby Anderson

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    Singling out New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson after his 95-yard effort Sunday against Miami may seem odd. This has less to do with Anderson and more to do with the Jets' approach to the season.

    While the organization won't publicly admit it, the Jets are in the middle of a massive rebuild. 

    Anderson is a tremendous vertical threatas evidenced by his 69-yard touchdown against the Dolphins—but he isn't a reliable target. Veteran Jermaine Kearse is now the team's top option. 

    The Jets need to evaluate rookie ArDarius Stewart, too. This year's third-round pick could be a valuable piece moving forward, but he needs to be on the field more. 

    "I'm out here learning and doing whatever I can for the team," Stewart said, per Connor Hughes of NJ Advance Media. "It's just being patient. Sitting back and waiting. Just taking everything with mental reps. I'm not trying to force anything or rush anything. When my time presents itself, I'll show what I can do."

Oakland Raiders: CB Sean Smith

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    The Oakland Raiders made a big splash last offseason when they signed cornerback Sean Smith to a four-year, $38 million contract. Since then, Smith has been demoted and even benched.

    The Raiders coaching staff pulled the 30-year-old defensive back Sunday when he surrendered two big plays to Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis

    "The package that we had in mind wasn't real effective with him covering Vernon [Davis]," head coach Jack Del Rio said, per Levi Damien of Silver and Black Pride. "Vernon got loose on him twice. On the second one honestly we should've had some safety help for him but he let to guy run across the field on the first third down, that was a momentum swing there. That's just the way the game flowed."

    Smith is only in the role because rookie safety Obi Melifonwu was placed on injured reserve after he suffered a knee injury. 

    The Raiders don't have any use for a corner who can't cover wide receivers or a hybrid linebacker who can't keep up with tight ends.

Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jalen Mills

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    NFL quarterbacks attack cornerbacks they deem liabilities. On Sunday, Giants signal-caller Eli Manning went after second-year defensive back Jalen Mills time and again. 

    According to Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson, Manning targeted Mills an outrageous 21 times. 

    "I was proud of Jalen. He did a very good job of limiting big plays," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said, per Eagles Wire's Turron Davenport. "Most of them were short. He was targeted 20-something times. I think the average was five yards per attempt. The biggest part of it is he shadowed one of the best receivers in the NFL."

    A disconnect exists between the coach and reality. Yes, Odell Beckham Jr. averaged 8.8 yards per catch. He also caught nine of his 13 targets, which included a pair of touchdowns. 

    The Eagles spent all offseason trying to overhaul their secondary. Mills wasn't supposed to be the team's top cover corner. Injuries have forced him into the role, and quarterbacks will continue to target whomever he's covering. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Joe Haden

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers jumped all over the opportunity to sign Joe Haden once the Cleveland Browns released the two-time Pro Bowl performer. 

    But the Browns moved on from their former standout for a reason. Injuries plagued Haden over the last two seasons, and it appears he lost a step. 

    According to Scott Barrett of Pro Football Focus, Haden ranked eighth-worst in overall grade and third-worst in opposing passer rating during the last three campaigns. 

    While his veteran presence presents an upgrade over some of Pittsburgh's previous options, the 28-year-old defensive back hasn't played particularly well. He currently ranks 39th in opposing quarterback rating, per PFF, and he hasn't lined up against stellar wide receivers.

    Haden can still contribute, but he's no longer a top-end cover corner. Artie Burns is Pittsburgh's best corner. Haden's previous struggles will likely be on display later in the season when he's asked to cover more talented wide receivers. 

San Francisco 49ers: QB Brian Hoyer

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    Reality smacked the San Francisco 49ers in the face. A 0-3 start dashed any hopes of a miraculous turnaround campaign, because the roster is clearly talent-deficient in certain areas. As a result, the 2017 campaign becomes an evaluation season. 

    Everything is now being built toward 2018, and Brian Hoyer isn't part of those plans. Having him in the lineup does nothing to advance the team beyond this season. 

    His play doesn't help, either. The 49ers signed the journeyman to ease the transition into Kyle Shanahan's offense. However, his play has been erratic. Hoyer ranks 20th overall in completion percentage and 28th in both yards per attempt and quarterback rating. 

    Hoyer's 332-yard explosion against the Los Angeles Rams served as an indictment of his play earlier in the season, when he combined for 292 yards in Weeks 1 and 2.

    Rookie C.J. Beathard played well during preseason. He may not be the answer either, but the 49ers won't know until he's on the field and is given an opportunity to lead an NFL offense. 

Seattle Seahawks: OT Rees Odhiambo

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    The Seattle Seahawks coaching staff already started its offensive line overhaul when it replaced Mark Glowinski in the lineup Sunday with Oday Aboushi. Head coach Pete Carroll can't stop there. 

    Left tackle remains a major concern. George Fant's preseason knee injury sent ripple effects through the entire front. Rees Odhiambo stepped into the role and struggled. 

    According to Pro Football Focus' Louie Benjamin, Odhiambo surrendered 10 quarterback pressures Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, as he couldn't handle outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. He is now dealing with an ankle injury, per the Tacoma News Tribune's Gregg Bell

    Matt Tobin deserves a shot to start at left tackle. Luke Joeckel can serve as the team's emergency blindside protector, too.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Chris Conte

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are lucky, as they're one of the few teams with three starting-caliber safeties. But they're starting the wrong two. 

    The organization expected Chris Conte and Keith Tandy to be its starting tandem this season. An unexpected opportunity arose when the Denver Broncos released Pro Bowl defensive back T.J. Ward. Tampa Bay signed Ward to a one-year, $4 million contract two weeks before its first game. 

    Even though Tandy is listed as a starter, he took a backseat with Ward being worked into the lineup. Conte, meanwhile, played 99 percent of the snaps Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, per Draft Sharks' Matt Schauf

    This is the wrong approach when it comes to finding complementary skill sets. Conte and Ward are both at their best playing strong safety. Conte is a field general who the coaching staff is comfortable putting on the field. Tandy has much better range, though.

    If Ward is used closer to the line of scrimmage as a run defender and blitz option, Tandy is the logical counterpart. 

Tennessee Titans: NT Sylvester Williams

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    Sylvester Williams is a starter in name because he lines up as the Titans' top nose tackle in base sets. 

    However, his overall effectiveness and amount of playing time provide little impact. Williams played 16 total snaps Sunday against the Seahawks, per Titans Online's Jim Wyatt

    The Titans signed Williams to a three-year, $17.5 million contract this offseason, but it's essentially a one-year deal since the organization can avoid $4 million of his cap hit by releasing him before the 2018 campaign. 

    The coaching staff is already using Austin Johnson more along the interior. 

    Williams provides a narrowly defined role. The Titans pride themselves on being bullies in the trenches. They can get as much from Johnson at a discount price. 

Washington Redskins: WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.

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    Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor St. must be better. There's no way around it. 

    "Guarantee in the next couple weeks, it'll start picking up," Pryor promised prior to Sunday's contest against the Raiders, per ESPN.com's John Keim

    The wide receiver proceeded to go out and catch two passes for 19 yards against Oakland. 

    Pryor is fourth on the team with 10 receptions and no touchdowns despite being targeted a team-leading 19 times. He's not yet clicking with quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

    Washington has other targets it can and should use more, including former first-round pick Josh Doctson and standout slot receiver Jamison Crowder. Cousins doesn't need to force-feed Pryor the ball for the offense to be effective. 

    All stats via Pro Football Reference or NFL.com unless otherwise noted. Contract numbers are courtesy of Spotrac

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