Worst players at every position for Week 8
If everyone who played in the NFL always performed at their best, it would be a far different game than the one we see every week. Some players, however, are going to struggle more than others. This is a list that highlights those poor performances, in stark contrast to our Team of the Week, which highlights the best players at every position.
This is the PFF Worst Team of the Week.
(Note: Updates are possible following our review process, and once the Monday Night Football game has been analyzed and graded.)
Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (-6.5)
Kaepernick makes his way back onto this team thanks to a poor performance against the St. Louis Rams. He finished with a -8.1 passing grade on the day, thanks in large part to his paltry under-pressure stats (3-of-13 for 12 yards). The 49ers’ offense kept it simple, running a ton of play action and bootleg dumps to the flats, and Kaepernick struggled even to hit those. It’s been a tough year for San Francisco quarterback, and he now sits with our second-worst grade among QBs this season.
Running back: Chris Johnson, Cardinals (-3.5)
Johnson had a decent day statistically, finishing with 107 yards in the Cardinals’ win. However, it took him 30 carries to get to that number, and he ended up with only 65 yards after contact. Worst of all, he fumbled twice, and lost both of them. Putting the ball on the ground once in a game is bad enough, but twice is just too much. Welcome to the list, Mr. Johnson.
Fullback: Bruce Miller, 49ers (-2.6)
Miller left a lot to be desired when it came to run blocking, only once making a positively-graded lead block. Most of the time, he was just making expected plays, and a few times he was beaten for big defensive stops. He also dropped the only target that came his way in the passing game, one that probably would have been for a touchdown.
Tight end: Richard Rodgers, Packers (-5.2)
Rodgers’ caught two-of-four targets for 16 yards, with only 3 yards coming after the catch, but it was his run blocking (-2.6) and pass blocking (-1.4) that really led to his low grade. He didn’t make a single positively-graded play when run blocking, instead getting blown up a few times, leading either to run stops or completely changing the run’s point of attack. He also allowed the sack to LB DeMarcus Ware that led to the Broncos’ safety.
Wide receivers: Mike Wallace, Vikings (-2.9) and Martavis Bryant, Steelers (-2.6)
Wallace had a tough time yesterday, seeing four targets and catching exactly none of them. To his credit, only two of them were actually on target—both of which were dropped. Bryant saw eight targets and caught four of them for 49 yards, but he only gained 19 yards after the catch, dropping a pass and also taking a facemask penalty. It wasn’t a terrible game, but it was enough to make this team.
Tackles: Cameron Fleming, Patriots (-7.2) and Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots (-5.2)
When it rains, it pours. This is yet another set of linemen teammates that make the team together. Only one tackle had a worse pass-block grade than Fleming (-5.8), who allowed a sack, a hit, and four hurries. He also caused a big gain to be called back by inexplicably running 10 yards downfield on a passing play. The tackle who had a lower pass block grade? That was Vollmer, who finished with a -6.1 grade when pass blocking. He allowed a sack, two hits, and four hurries. He was also beaten four other times, but the quick release of QB Tom Brady (on our Team of the Week) prevented any pressure from being recorded. It really says something about a team when they can win a game 36-7 despite both of their tackles making this list.
Guards: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Chiefs (-6.9) and Alex Boone, 49ers (-6.8)
Duvernay-Tardif allowed a sack and two hurries, which wasn’t bad compared to some other guards this week. But it was his -4.9 run block grade that really did him in. He was consistently either blown up or beaten off of the line, and was responsible for multiple run stops or forced running back cuts. Boone was even worse against the run (-5.2). He was unable to make any plays against the strong Rams’ defensive line, and ended up allowing multiple tackles for a loss. Not a good day for either of these two.
Center: Mike Pouncey, Dolphins (-3.9)
Pouncey mostly struggled blocking the run (-3.2). He allowed three run stops himself, and was beaten badly enough that the running back was forced to change direction three other times. He was a big reason the Dolphins ran for only 15 yards on 12 carries.
Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles), and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive interior – ends: Kendall Reyes, Chargers (-3.9), Letroy Guion, Packers (-3.7)
Reyes is back on this list after struggling yet again on Sunday. He managed just one sack on 36 pass rushes, leading to his -1.3 grade there. He also made only one run stop, missed a tackle, and was generally blocked out of running plays. Guion didn’t make a single positive play in run defense for the Packers. He was frequently cleared out of holes for a Broncos’ rushing attack that, until yesterday, had been completely ineffective.
Defensive interior – tackle: Ra’Shede Hageman, Falcons (-5.1)
The Buccaneers’ interior offensive line had their way with Hageman, as he was constantly unable to get off blocks and was frequently driven right out of the play. He was able to make three run stops over the course of the game, which shows you how much he struggled every other time, as he finished with a -4.8 run defense grade. Not a day to remember for Hageman.
Edge rushers: Jacquies Smith, Buccaneers (-3.2) and Mike Neal, Packers (-2.5)
Smith was nearly non-existent when it came to rushing the passer, finishing with just one QB hit on 23 pass rushes. He was slightly below average against the run, too, as he finished with zero tackles on the day. He also jumped offside on one play. Neal was just slightly below average in pass rushing and run defense, but that was enough to make the team this week. He recorded only one QB hurry on 24 rushes.
Linebackers: Craig Robertson, Browns (-3.6) and David Harris, Jets (-3.6)
Robertson didn’t make a single run stop in this game, which is not good for an inside linebacker. Hence, his -3.0 run defense grade. While targeted only twice in coverage, he allowed a touchdown on one of them. Harris made three run stops, but two of them were unblocked. Most of the time, he was blocked out of plays. He also missed two tackles (one was called back on a penalty).
Cornerbacks: Jamar Taylor, Dolphins (-5.2) and Antonio Cromartie, Jets (-4.8)
Taylor only allowed three catches on eight targets for 36 yards, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He was beaten and missed a tackle on a play that was called back by penalty. He was also beaten badly on a play where the receiver and quarterback got their signals crossed. It wasn’t pretty against the run, either, for Taylor, missing three tackles there as well. Cromartie was just struggling in coverage, as he allowed seven receptions on nine targets for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He also surrendered 85 yards after the catch, thanks to three missed tackles.
Safeties: Marcus Williams, Jets (-6.2) and Jahleel Addae, Chargers (-3.6)
Williams had a terrible day in coverage (-3.1), allowing three catches on four targets for 43 yards. He also had a poor run defense grade (-3.3). The main reason for such low numbers, though? Williams missed six tackles on the afternoon. That’s a lot of missed tackles, and hence the really low grade. Addae finished with a -1.3 coverage grade, which isn’t too bad, but he finds his way onto this team because he missed a tackle and took two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Kicker: Travis Coons, Browns
Coons missed an extra point and forced just one touchback on four kickoffs.
Punter: Mike Scifres, Chargers
Scifres averaged 44.3 yards and only 4.45 seconds of hang time per punt, which were both among the lowest in the league this week.
Returner: Marc Mariani, Bears
Mariani muffed two punts, something you just can’t do.