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Monday, March 19, 2018

15 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 12

Blake Bortles

Week 12 saw an abbreviated Sunday schedule on account of the Thanksgiving Day slate of games, but there were still plenty of top performers — and not-so-top performers.

We had some highly-touted players who didn’t live up to expectations, others who were unlucky to have the days they did, some who failed to keep their cool, and some who were targeted by opposing gameplans and simply couldn’t beat them.

Here’s a list of 15 big disappointments from Week 12’s games.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars

Can we put this man out of his misery yet? Please? Bortles threw for 160 yards, no touchdowns, and one horrible interception that changed the game in the final minutes. Said interception set up the winning Arizona field goal. Bortles is lucky that he has an elite defense behind him, because he certainly hasn’t done anything to put the Jaguars in the playoff race.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders

This was the first game of Michael Crabtree’s NFL career in which he was held without a single reception. Of course, that wasn’t really all a matter of performance; it was mostly down to the fact that he was ejected in the first quarter of Oakland’s game against the Denver Broncos for fighting with old enemy Aqib Talib. The Raiders won without him, but it was Crabtree who lost his cool and started the altercation. He’s also been accused of sucker-punching another opponent. Whatever his feelings toward Talib, he’s got to be smarter than that.

Denver’s top wide receivers

Sure, a lot of the Broncos’ struggles can be pinned on the quarterbacks. Paxton Lynch was ineffective when given the chance to play and, while Trevor Siemian actually scored points, his resume is unconvincing as well. Whoever you want to blame, Denver’s two big-name receivers — Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders — did very little. The two combined for eight total catches and 30 yards. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Together, they were targeted 14 times. They, along with their quarterbacks, simply did not make the necessary plays.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

Fitzgerald fell victim to Jalen Ramsey on Sunday — that and the fact that he had Blaine Gabbert throwing to him. Fitz was targeted plenty — eight times in all — but caught only three passes for 12 yards. Fitzgerald had been very good for four of the previous five weeks, so this is just a hiccup, as well as a testament to how good a corner Ramsey is. It doesn’t make his outing any less disappointing, though his Cardinals did escape with a win.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars

The Arizona Cardinals dim,d to Fournette what the Jaguars probably feared they would — they jammed up the box and forced quarterback Blake Bortles to try to beat them. The Cardinals clearly put an emphasis on stopping Fournette, and they succeeded. He was limited to only 25 yards on 12 carries. It’s no coincidence that Arizona ended up winning the game thanks in large part to a Bortles mistake. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the blueprint for beating Jacksonville.

Chicago Bears

Few expected the Bears to beat the Eagles — they were two-touchdown underdogs — but Chicago didn’t even put up a fight. They were down 24-0 before finally scoring, and they lost 31-3 in a game that was never competitive. Jordan Howard managed just six yards on seven carries as the Bears fell behind early, forcing them to abandon the run. Mitchell Trubisky was a total zero, throwing for just 147 yards and two interceptions. Tarik Cohen rushed for -11 yards. Even after starting with the ball at the Philly 42 for a possession in the first quarter, the Bears couldn’t come up with any points. It was a disappointing game all the way around.

Mike McCarthy, head coach, Packers

Give Mike McCarthy credit for having his team competitive with the Super Bowl contender Steelers on the road. With Aaron Rodgers injured, that’s no easy feat. But when you look at the chance Green Bay had to get the win, a few awful decisions stood out. First off, McCarthy made an indefensible decision to attempt a 57-yard field goal in the third quarter with his team up 21-14. Mason Crosby hasn’t made a kick that long since 2013. He’s missed three field goals all season. Combine the distance with the poor playing surface at Heinz Field, and the likelihood of Crosby making that were very low. Yet McCarthy attempted the kick, which was missed badly. Pittsburgh then got great field position at the 47 and drove for a touchdown to tie it. Green Bay should have punted and forced Pittsburgh to work much harder for the touchdown. That really helped the Steelers get back in the game.

Then with the game tied at 28, McCarthy should have been playing for overtime on the team’s final possession. Instead, he was throwing a pass on second down and trying to get into field goal range. Jamaal Williams went out of bounds on a catch, sparing Pittsburgh a timeout and helping the Steelers to eventually win the game. If McCarthy were so intent on winning the game in regulation, he should have just gone for two after the previous touchdown. Once he went conservative, he should have stuck to that strategy.

Paxton Lynch, QB, Broncos

Lynch’s Sunday was doubly bad. The Broncos didn’t score when he was in the game, he completed only nine of his 14 pass attempts for just 41 yards, with one turnover. You have to feel for the guy, though. After spending pretty much the entire season injured and watching the team’s other quarterbacks falter, he finally got his first start. Then he injured his ankle and was knocked out of the game. One can understand why he got emotional. It’s a tough break for him, but Lynch simply wasn’t good enough in the first place.

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