While it’s great that football is back, there are a lot of guys out there wishing it could have been a week later. Why? Well if you watched them over the course of the last six days you’d understand.
You see not everyone can be a star or play the game of their lives. Some people show up hurt, some people show up unprepared, and some people just don’t show up.
Well, we here at Pro Football Focus are akin to the accountability police. So every week we’ll be naming and shaming those who have let themselves down, knowing full well that this week’s chump could be next week’s champ.
It’s time for our Had a Bad Day, Team of the Week.
Quarterback: Brandon Weeden, CLV (-9.4)
Incredibly, Weeden set a record for ‘Worst PFF grade for a quarterback ever’ in his NFL debut. What’s more of an achievement is that he was worse than Michael Vick, barely, despite an atrocious display by the Eagle.
Running Back: Ryan Williams, ARZ (-3.7)
Sometimes a stat line can really tell it all, sometimes context is required; this was a little of both. The Cardinal back was only on the field for 20 snaps, had eight rushes for 9 yards and a fumble, and also gave up a quarterback hurry, but also suffered from some of the worst run blocking imaginable. Impressively unimpressive.
Full Back: Jed Collins, NO (-2.4)
An off day for Collins who struggled around the line of scrimmage with some very active Redskins linebackers. Our highest-ranked blocking fullback last year will want to return to his 2011 form sooner rather than later.
Tight End: Jason Witten, DAL (-5.0)
This is why you shouldn’t play hurt. It was admirable that Witten played through the pain but with some poor blocking, a dropped pass and two penalties he did more to hurt his team than help them.
Wide Receivers: Victor Cruz, NYG (-4.7) and Greg Little, CLV (-2.6)
There was no dancing from Victor Cruz as he put three balls on the ground and committed two penalties in a performance that left many smacking their head. Over in Cleveland it was like an extension of the rookie year that left Little disappointing so many. Four targets and no receptions aren’t entirely on him, but his drop-come-interception was.
Tackles: LT, D’Anthony Batiste, ARZ (-9.6) and RT, Guy Whimper, JAX (-6.1)
And you thought Levi Brown was bad? I once stated it would be impossible for the Cards to get any worse play from a tackle than the 2009-2010 Brown, but Batiste is off to a great start in proving that comment foolish. Another player who would struggle to surpass his issues from last year is Whimper. Forced into the lineup because of injury, he still suffers from the dreaded ‘turnstilitis’.
Guards: LG, Richie Incognito, MIA (-4.0) and RG, J.R. Sweezy, SEA (-7.5)
It’s telling that Sweezy beat out Pittsburgh’s abysmal Doug Legursky for this spot, after the cement-footed Steeler escorted Bronco defenders toward his quarterback. But he did, and the rookie convert from defensive tackle who looked so promising in preseason got a tough welcome to the NFL from Darnell Dockett. Miami’s Incognito didn’t have his finest day, with a couple of penalties and poor work in pass protection overriding a decent enough day in the run game.
Center: Lyle Sendlein, ARZ (-3.8)
When Brandon Mebane is on form he can be a tricky player to stop. If you don’t believe me, just ask Sendlein. The Cards’ center had a tricky day with him, and then compounded that by getting called for two penalties, giving up a tackle for a loss and getting beat for another tackle for a short gain.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: Jabaal Sheard, CLV (-6.8) and Jared Allen, MIN (-5.4)
What made the performance of Sheard all the worse, was that Emmanuel Stephens was on fire when he stepped into the lineup instead of him. Sheard registered just the one tackle all game long and couldn’t muster a single pressure in a frustrating day. That was similar to the experience Jared Allen faced as he was shutdown against Eugene Monroe (his hit and hurry came elsewhere), who won their encounter handily.
Defensive Tackle: Jonathan Babineaux, ATL (-2.9) and Linval Joseph, NYG (-3.0)
The Falcons’ Babineaux can be something of a boom or bust player, with his desire to get up field often taking him out of a play. Despite his sack, he was a little more bust then Atlanta would have liked, especially in the first half, in their game with the Chiefs. Despite our offseason praise, Joseph started the year quietly outside of a sack. Again it was his work in the run game that let him down, but outside of that sack he struggled to make much of an impact in his 55 snaps.
Linebackers: David Hawthorne, NO (-4.2), Paul Posluszny, JAX (-3.5) and Luke Kuechly, CAR (-3.9)
Two guys on the outside who were meant to help rejuvenate their team’s linebacker core. Take Kuechly, he was promoted as an every down player who would make a seamless transition to the NFL. He didn’t. Still, he’s rookie so he gets something of a pass. Hawthorne (who may not be fully healthy) looked all over the place against the Redskins. It’s not often we’re likely to see Posluszny in this team but the Jag had a rare off day, highlighted by two missed tackles.
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: Brett Keisel, PIT (-3.0), B.J. Raji, GB (-2.0) and Vaughn Martin, SD (-2.9)
As I watched Keisel getting manhandled by the Denver line I couldn’t help but think that for the first time I can remember, he looked a little old. Could it be an ankle knock he picked up in preseason slowed him down? Other than a penalty called on him you’d have been hard pressed to know Martin was playing, such was his impact. I wrote a lot last year about Raji not living up to his reputation; watch him in Week 1 and contend he’s the player he’s made out to be.
Outside Linebackers: Nick Perry, GB (-6.6) and O’Brien Schofield, ARZ (-5.1)
Not the best way to start your NFL career for Perry. He came up empty rushing the passer, was poor in the run game, and gave up four receptions on four balls thrown into his coverage. That can be life as a rookie, an excuse Schofield doesn’t have. He did at least pick up a hit and a hurry but you’d be forgiven for not realizing he was on the field such was the irregularity with which he got any push.
Inside Linebackers: A.J. Hawk, GB (-2.9) and Bart Scott, NYJ (-2.6)
As has become customary, Hawk failed to impress. Although 10 tackles may look impressive to some, as just three of those were defensive stops, and we also allowed all three balls into his coverage, we were not impressed. Scott, so often one of the league’s best, had a tough day against Buffalo. Too often he found himself trying to tackle the shifty C.J. Spiller who left him clutching at thin air.
Cornerbacks: Vontae Davis, IND (-4.8) and Keenan Lewis, PIT (-4.0)
Just when you think Hard Knocks had ended for Vontae Davis, he goes and gets picked on by Brandon Marshall. He walked away having given up two touchdowns and 104 yards. While the box score wasn’t anywhere near as bad for Lewis, he can’t have been happy giving up 7-of-9 balls thrown his way and a penalty.
Safeties: Michael Griffin, TEN (-6.6) and Roman Harper, NO (-2.3)
Harper narrowly edged out Mark Barron for the right to partner the Titans’ Griffin, who put up a performance so bad it has to be seen to be believed. Missing four tackles is never good, but that he gave up a touchdown really didn’t help matters. With no Gregg Williams to scheme him to sacks, Harper is starting to look out of place in New Orleans. A missed tackle, some poor awareness in coverage and a touchdown given up don’t help.
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