Posted October 01, 2013

Disappointments at NFL’s quarter mark: Eli Manning, Ray Rice and more

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Very little has gone well for the New York Giants this season.

Very little has gone well for the New York Giants this season. (MCT via Getty Images)

With the 2013 NFL season one quarter in the books, Audibles’ Chris Burke and Doug Farrar assess where things stand. Below, a look at the league’s 15 most disappointing players to date.

1. Eli Manning, QB, Giants: While big brother Peyton is setting the NFL ablaze with the Broncos, Eli is perhaps most emblematic of an 0-4 Giants team that seems broken from front to back on both sides of the ball. It doesn’t help that he’s playing behind the NFL’s worst offensive line (more on it in a minute), but the younger Manning’s numbers through four games are alarming — a league-leading nine interceptions, 14 sacks and a 56.3 completion percentage. Eli has never been the best statistical quarterback — his strength has always been in his ability to get things done when the spotlights are brightest — but he won’t have too many important games this season if things keep on like this.

BURKE: Surprises at NFL’s quarter mark: Jordan Cameron, Terrelle Pryor, more

2. Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: One suspected that things would end ugly between Freeman and Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano when Schiano replaced Raheem Morris before the 2012 season, but few could have predicted the current disasterbacle. Neither man will come out of this looking good — Freeman has missed meetings and played poorly, while Schiano comes off as a guy who burned the ground just to get his own quarterback (rookie Mike Glennon) on the field.

3. Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: When people are burning your franchise quarterback’s jersey in the parking lot of your stadium, that’s not a good sign. The Texans re-upped Schaub with a five-year, $66.5 million extension in September 2012, but the veteran hasn’t lived up to those rich dollars. Everybody’s frustrated with Houston’s limited passing game, and in the Texans’ 23-20 loss to the Seahawks, Schaub threw a pick-six in his third straight game. Perhaps most distressingly, opposing defenses are quite open about how easy it is to decipher Houston’s route concepts. This isn’t all Schaub’s fault, but it’s a bad start for a team many expected to compete for the AFC’s Super Bowl berth.

BANKS: Schaub’s time in Houston may be running out

4. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Nobody would question the contract given to Flacco after the Ravens’ Super Bowl run — when he threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions during one of the greatest postseason performances in league history, it seemed that everything was lining up perfectly for Baltimore’s 2008 first-round pick. One season later, however, with injuries and roster attrition doing a heavy number on his targets, Flacco has not looked impressive at all. He’s thrown five touchdowns to seven picks (five of those interceptions came last Sunday against Buffalo), and there seems to be a disconnect in the Ravens’ desire to maintain offensive balance.

5. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: Rice’s down season has been a major part of the problem in Baltimore. He’s been affected by a hip injury, but the team’s over-reliance on the passing game hasn’t helped either. Baltimore ran just twice in the second half of its 23-20 loss to the Bills, leaving Rice in the game to pass-block, which has always been his Achilles’ heel. This offense simply doesn’t work without Rice at his versatile best.

6. Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: Our own Chris Burke recently went into great detail on how the Rams seem incapable or unwilling to use their first-round playmaker in space — an issue that was shown in glaring detail last Thursday night when the 49ers beat St. Louis, 35-11, and Austin caught two passes on eight targets for six yards. This is less on Austin and more on offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who had a full offseason to put together a plan for a player who had electrified the NCAA.

7. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: After a 38-0 Week 3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in which he caught no passes, Nicks told the media that he “couldn’t throw the ball to myself.” Both Nicks and Eli Manning laughed it off after the fact, but it’s tougher to forget the three drops Nicks had in New York’s 31-7 loss to the Chiefs last Sunday. Nick suffered a dislocated finger in the Giants’ 43-21 Week 2 loss to the Denver Broncos, but he refused to blame that for his troubles in connecting with Manning. In any case, here’s one more reason the Giants’ offense is heading right off the rails.

8. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions: Pettigrew is an effective blocker, which appears to be the best reason to keep him on the field at this point. Per Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics, Pettigrew has been the least effective tight end in the NFL, both this season and last. He did manage seven catches on seven targets against the Bears last weekend, and any uptick for this former first-round pick would be nice for the Lions to see.

“He hasn’t been doing any work that he hasn’t been doing since last offseason,” head coach Jim Schwartz said of Pettigrew this week. “It’s not like all of a sudden he decided to come up with a new drill or something like that.  … I think he went and trusted his technique and went and played football. That’s a good sign for us.”

9. William Beatty and Justin Pugh, OT, Giants: During their recent Super Bowl seasons, the Giants were defined by strong line play — the 2007 team that shocked the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII probably had the league’s best blockers that season. This year, things are very different, and the problems really start on the outside. Both Beatty and Pugh have allowed 22 total pressures in four games — Beatty with four sacks, four hits and 14 hurries; Pugh with two sacks, one hit and 19 hurries. Only Atlanta’s Lamar Holmes has allowed more total pressures this season among offensive tackles.

10. Eric Fisher, OT, Chiefs: The first-overall pick in the 2013 draft may be the latest example of what a steep jump it is from a relatively small college (Central Michigan) to the NFL. San Francisco’s Joe Staley is another former Central Michigan left tackle who took a while to acclimate to his new surroundings, and he’s one of the best now, but … Fisher has been rough at best at right tackle for the Chiefs this season. Not only has he lost battles outside to speed rushers and inside to foot-fakes and counter moves, but also he’s been bullied back too often for a man of his power. Fisher has the talent to be great over time, but this backslide has been a surprise.

11. Mike Adams, OT, Steelers: The Steelers took a second-round shot on Adams in the 2012 draft despite a host of off-field problems, and he rewarded the team’s faith in him by winning the Joe Greene Performance Award as the Steelers’ rookie of the year. But his move this season from right tackle to left has not been a success — Adams has been the latest in a long line of Steelers blindside protectors to disappoint, looking overmatched in most situations and allowing four sacks.

12. Nick Perry, OLB, Packers: The Packers’ first-round pick in 2012 was off to a decent start in his rookie campaign before a wrist injury ended that season after six games. Head coach Mike McCarthy noted that Perry looked faster and more athletic before the 2013 season, but that hasn’t translated to the field just yet. In 147 snaps this season, Perry has no sacks, no quarterback hits and just four quarterback hurries. Green Bay expected the former USC standout to be the perfect pass-rushing bookend to Clay Matthews, but if anything, Perry’s regressed from last year.

13. Aldon Smith, OLB, 49ers: Obviously, production isn’t the issue here. When Smith is on the field and has his head on straight, he’s among the most consistently disruptive pass-rushers in the NFL. But a number of off-field issues have landed him in rehab for now — and the foreseeable future — and the 49ers will have a number of decisions to make regarding him this year and next.

14. Cortland Finnegan, CB, Rams: Finnegan has been burned all season, but at least he’s consistent. According to Pro Football Focus’ game-charting metrics, he’s allowed a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating on 19 targets outside — and a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating on 12 targets in the slot. He’s been dealing with thigh injuries since last season, but the more he plays, the more the Rams’ opponents are going to see how much they can light him up.

15. Tramon Williams, CB, Packers: Now, this is a surprise. Williams has been one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks over the last couple of seasons, but he’s allowed a 115.1 QB rating this season after clamping down on top receivers for a 74.3 rating last season. He’s been dealing with shoulder and knee injuries of late, and Green Bay’s suspect defense will be in a bigger hole if Williams can’t regain his former clampdown status.

37 comments
ScottBoyle
ScottBoyle

Julius Peppers should be top 5. He has been invisible.

rskins09
rskins09

Never liked Schaub - even when he played for UVA ...Above average at best ...Can never make the big drive, the big downfield play ..Reminds me of Danny White, former Dallas QB ..If Houston has a big lead- same with Dallas then - both QB were ok ..But to come from behind, keep a lead in a game, forget it ..They self-destruct  every-time . And Houston has the best WR in the NFL..Schaub just don't have it .. 

beekay31
beekay31

Nick Perry was playing well as a rookie right up to the point where he made an aggressive but legal hit on Andrew Luck for a sack and got flagged by a trigger-happy ref.  So far this year, he hasn't had the same motor.  I guess that's what happens when they sap your aggressiveness no matter how cleanly you are playing.  You're handcuffed.

LarryLemanski
LarryLemanski

Can we finally say that Flacco, Manning and Rothlesberger are above average QBs and leave it at that? None of them are HOF'ers as has been advertised. They've all played big in big games but, this is the NFL. You shouldn't be playing at all if you can't play big in big games. Above average. That's it.

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

No matter how promising, it's hard to put a rookie WR on a list of most disappointing. It's one of the least likely positions in the NFL for a rookie to excel at.  Having Austin on the list over veterans like Mike Wallace or Ridley just seems strange.  

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

Just about everyone questioned Flacco's contract that he got after the Superbowl.

pamperofirpo
pamperofirpo

Both Big Ben and RG3 should be on this list.

Fifilo
Fifilo

Chip Kelly, Coach, Eagles

GaryPartin
GaryPartin

I wonder if Eli called big brother Peyton to warn him about that smothering defense in KC?

Ole43
Ole43

Ha!!  The entire NFC East should be on this list.....

therednorth1
therednorth1

There's enough disappointing players in the league thus far that you could easily make a list 50 players long.

Joseph F
Joseph F

Also, Justin Pugh is playing just fine, Beatty on the other hand stinks.  The defense is not so hot either, JPP not his old self, linebackers missing tackles, etc. etc.  What the hell league are you watching anyway.

Joseph F
Joseph F

What a joke.  Eli is NOT the problem, the O line, the running game, dropped passed, blown routes, etc. etc. ARE the problem NOT Eli.

John3
John3

Maybe you wouldn't have questioned the payday to Flacco Mr. Farrar, but I and a lot other folks did. A massive contract, in line with what Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are earning, based on one lucky run to the Super Bowl was just plain stupid. Especially if you have to pay for that deal by dumping your best receiver. If Rahm Moore knocks down that pass in Denver Flacco gets a four year, $50 million deal.

closetjaysfan
closetjaysfan

Surprised that RG3 is not on here. 


Also:  Chip Kelly & Mike Wallace

anon76
anon76

@Grandmaster 

Wha??

Cutler's been great in 3 games and pedestrian in one.  At the current rate he'll have the Bears at 12-4 heading into the post-season.  How would that be a disappointment?

leftysarm
leftysarm

@LarryLemanski Put any NFL QB behind Big Ben's offensive lines over the years and let's see how they would do.  Manning and Brady would have retired at 30 if they took the pounding Ben takes.  I doubt the Steelers would have their most recent Super Bowls without Ben.

anon76
anon76

@LarryLemanski 

Well, if you're of the "Ring is the only thing" crowd, then their 5 combined rings puts them in a very select group that would have to be called elite.  If you discount playoff & SB play, where all 5 have honestly excelled, then they are simply above average.  Peyton, on the other hand, then easily becomes the greatest QB of all times.  Not that I'm particularly opposed to this school of thought, but it is definitely out of the mainstream.

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@nfinitwordsfoto 

They should've given him upper-end money for a good-but-not-great QB.  If he'd said no and taken off in a huff, it's "So long, good luck, thanks for the memories," and get someone else.  That $20M a year is going to bite them long-term as it reduces flexibility for keeping other guys.

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

@pamperofirpo  

Yes let us put a guy on the list coming off major knee surgery 8 plus months ago. A more invasive surgery than Derrick "soft girl scout cookie" Rose, whom sat out a full year, also playing behind the 31st rank defense does not help matters. 

@pamperofirpo  you are not the only one whom suggested RGIII @closetjaysfan has the same amount of lights working upstairs as yourself so do not feel bad. Flacco has not been lighting it up he came off a 5 interception game against the Bills but i would not put him on the list either, because i know better than that

Rick57
Rick57

@Fifilo Absolutely! He was supposed to revolutionize the NFL with his vaunted speed offense. What a joke.

Plainview
Plainview

@John3 flacco has been overpaid, but I appreciate the juxtaposition of Joseph F's comment above, defending Eli Manning's poor play by placing the blame on the offensive line. 

The problem with the ravens is the O-line, just as with the giants. 

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@John3 There was nothing 'lucky' about  the Super Bowl run. How about realizing that he has been 'UNlucky' so far this  season. 

kyyled5
kyyled5

@John3 I disagree with your assessment of a "lucky run" as 11 tds and 0 ints is not luck.


However, I agree that had Baltimore lost to Denver he gets 12-15M per instead of 20M.

anon76
anon76

@closetjaysfan 

What exactly was the expectation of RGIII coming off of extensive knee surgery that he's been a disappointment this year?

Perhaps you were expecting him to play in the Washington secondary, so that leading the team to 320 passing yards every week didn't get him off to an 0-3 start.

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

@MidwestGolfFan @nfinitwordsfoto Exactly.  I don't look at him as a sucky QB but I don't look at him as one of the elite guys that can do it with average players around him.  Put him in New England this season with the same team that Brady's working with and the Pats are 0-4.  

He should be in that 10-12m range.  

anon76
anon76

@Rick57

Uh, he has upgraded the Philly offense by about 100 yards per game, which would have put them 30 yards above the vaunted NE assault last season, and vaulted them from 15th ranked last season to 2nd ranked this season.  He HAS done really well on offense.

Defense of course is a different matter, but that doesn't seem to be what you're complaining about.

rskins09
rskins09

@nfinitwordsfoto @MidwestGolfFan ... Flacco  HAS always been over rated although he came on like gangbusters at the end of last year...They say his leadership  stinks ..Know the Ravens won a super Bowl & Flacco played great  but he's far from an upper echelon QB ...

EdStephens
EdStephens

@TLally @nfinitwordsfoto @Rickapolis @John3 Because the running game and defense compensated for Flacco's inability to lead a team for 60 minutes. Where was he in the first half of the Patriots playoff game and the second half of thew super bowl. The defense played lights out if you look at how many points they allowed in the three game playoff run, and who they played against. They were playing lights out in the super bowl till Goodell literally turned them out.

TLally
TLally

@nfinitwordsfoto @Rickapolis @John3 Flacco has been a 10 interception a year quarterback over his career, so how exactly is this season inline with the rest of his career please elaborate.