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Thursday, July 9, 2020

10 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 15

Devlin Duck Hodges

The NFL regular season is winding down, and the stakes are high. As clarity starts to develop in some of the playoff races, the pressure increases for those still in contention. It’s not just them, though; every team has players fighting for jobs, and even teams long out of the playoff hunt are still trying very hard to bolster their reputations and statistics down the stretch.

So who failed to deliver? Who disappointed in Week 15? Here’s a look at some who did.

Duck Hodges, QB, Steelers

The Steelers have been winning games this season by relying on their defense and hoping their offense doesn’t screw it up, or does just enough to win. They needed a little more than that from their offense on Sunday, but they didn’t get it. Duck Hodges was intercepted four times and sacked four times in a 17-10 loss. They were up 10-7 and in Buffalo territory before Duck threw a game-changing interception that allowed the Bills to flip the field and tie the game. Then with the Steelers hoping for some magic late to tie the game, Duck threw interceptions in the end zone on consecutive possessions. He just wasn’t able to do enough.

Los Angeles Rams’ defense

The Rams defense has actually been a pretty sturdy unit except for a couple games, like the ones against Baltimore and Tampa Bay. On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys joined those groups, putting up 28 first half points and 44 overall on the Rams. The rush defense was the Rams’ real weakness. Both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott ran for over 100 yards and got basically whatever they wanted whenever they touched the ball. It was a big setback for the Rams, who at 8-6 are facing an uphill playoff climb.

Daniel Carlson, K, Raiders

Carlson didn’t cost his team the game, and his performance may not have even impacted the result, but it certainly made the Jaguars’ life a little bit easier. Carlson actually missed a 50-yard try with 1:48 left that would have put the Raiders up by six, but Jacksonville ran into the kicker and gave Carlson an extra five yards. He proceeded to miss again from 45. Jacksonville, who benefited from a bad call by the refs, immediately drove downfield and ended up winning by four.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Gordon was far from the only culprit in the Chargers’ blowout loss to Minnesota, but he was the most visible and was even somewhat scapegoated for it. Gordon’s two turnovers both came on fumbles, and the second one got him briefly benched early in the second half. It sums up the season for Gordon. Though his stats are okay, his stock has fallen and he’s no longer vital to the Chargers’ offense. This was a bad day for him.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals

It’s nice that Dalton is getting a chance to say goodbye to the Cincinnati fans who have backed him for so long, but his departure is overdue. Matching him up with the New England defense was almost unfair, as Dalton was picked four times while throwing for just 151 yards. As long as the Bengals lose one of their last two games, they will clinch the top pick in next April’s NFL Draft. That will be a relief. Also, they should take a quarterback so they don’t have to use Dalton anymore.

Detroit Lions’ defense

Isn’t Matt Patricia supposed to be a bright defensive mind? It’s hard to tell these days with the state of the Lions’ defense. They made Jameis Winston the first quarterback to throw for 450 yards in back-to-back weeks, and he did it despite playing with a hand injury. Detroit’s defense is simply dreadful. It has been for a while, and it calls into question both the people who built it, and those who are coaching it.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers

The Falcons have been victimized by opposing quarterbacks time and time again this season, but Garoppolo couldn’t do it on Sunday. Garoppolo threw for just 200 yards and a touchdown, averaging fewer than six yards per attempt. That allowed Atlanta to keep it close, and they ultimately made the 49ers pay with Julio Jones’ last-second touchdown. San Francisco’s defense is fantastic, but if Garoppolo falls flat in the playoffs, they could be primed for an early exit, with today’s game serving as something of a warning sign.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns

Landry’s day was perhaps best summarized by a sideline incident with his coach because he wasn’t getting the ball enough. And Landry did not get the ball much — he was targeted eight times, but caught five of them for a modest 23 yards. This came against an Arizona team that can typically be beaten in the pass game. No wonder Landry was frustrated. It doesn’t help that the Browns continued their immensely disappointing season by losing by two touchdowns.

Drew Lock, QB, Broncos

Lock got a baptism by fire on Sunday, and it turned out to be a very rude awakening. In the snow at Kansas City, he completed just 18 of his 40 pass attempts and failed to find the end zone. He did, however, throw an ill-advised interception. Lock has a long way to go before the Broncos can safely consider him their franchise quarterback. Teams like this are going to give him trouble until he improves and becomes more comfortable at this level.

Washington Redskins’ defense

Believe it or not, Washington’s defense had been playing very well over the last three weeks. That stopped on Sunday. The Eagles didn’t have a lot of weapons due to injuries, but they used what they had to full effect. Carson Wentz threw for 266 yards and didn’t turn the ball over, while Miles Sanders ran for 122 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles put up 37 points (one score was a garbage play). This one performance undid a lot of the progress Washington seemingly made over the past few weeks.

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