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#pounditMonday, August 3, 2020

10 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 16

The second-to-last week of the NFL regular season settled some things, but left a lot of things wide open in Week 17. That’s good news for fans, but bad news for the teams and players who just weren’t able to get the job done in the penultimate week of the season.

Which of those teams and players fell short in Week 16? Here are 10 disappointments.

Dallas Cowboys’ offense

Simply brutal. Dallas hasn’t been eliminated from NFC East contention (here is their Week 17 playoff scenario), but on the evidence, they deserve to be. Dak Prescott missed open receivers. When he hit them, those receivers dropped passes. Ezekiel Elliott was bottled up. Amari Cooper caught just four passes for 24 yards and was a non-factor. The finger cannot be pointed at one person, but this was horrendous from Dallas in a game where they could have clinched the division against a defense that hasn’t exactly been elite.

Bill Callahan, coach, Redskins

This one is mostly a criticism from a fan standpoint. When Callahan’s Redskins scored a touchdown with 29 seconds left, it felt like they might as well go for the win. A two-point conversion would put them ahead. Both teams were 3-11 and had nothing to play for except draft position. Washington fans could have used the lift. Instead, Callahan kicked the extra point, and Washington never even touched the ball in overtime and lost to the Giants. Maybe he’s trying to get that No. 2 draft pick, but the whole thing felt very risk-averse when there was nothing to lose.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears were eliminated from playoff contention last week, and they acted like they were playing for nothing on Sunday night. The Bears hardly showed up in a 26-3 home loss to the Chiefs. Mitchell Trubisky, who is seemingly playing for his future, went 18/34 for just 157 yards. Worst of all, he was going up against Patrick Mahomes, whom we are so often reminded was drafted eight picks after the Bears traded up to get Trubisky. Mahomes didn’t have to do much to get a win, but upstaged Trubisky as expected with a couple of TD passes.

Carolina Panthers’ special teams

Full credit to Nyheim Hines, who had a phenomenal day returning punts. He did it twice, in fact, one for 84 yards and another for 71. Part of the blame, however, has to fall on Carolina’s special teams. As explosive as Hines can be, allowing two very long punt return touchdowns is just brutal. It was all part of a terrible performance by the Panthers — Hines outscored the Panthers’ offense all by himself — but this issue was particularly glaring. There’s a reason why Greg Olsen had harsh words for his team.

Nick Chubb, RB, Browns

Chubb ran for 165 yards against the Ravens in the first meeting of these two teams. And while Baltimore’s run defense is good, Chubb is good enough to beat it. He just didn’t on Sunday. Chubb was limited to 45 yards on 15 carries and failed to find the end zone. This is despite the fact that the Browns weren’t losing big until late and the game script should have been more favorable to the run. Chubb will be fine, but it would’ve been nice to see him go off here.

Gardner Minshew, QB, Jaguars

It’s anyone’s guess what the Jaguars will do at the quarterback position in 2020, but Minshew hasn’t done anything to demonstrate that he should be the guy. Against a mediocre Falcons defense, he only completed 13 of 31 passes for 181 yards. He got a touchdown, which is nice, and he didn’t turn the ball over, but this Atlanta defense sat in the top ten of passing yards allowed. If this is the best Minshew can do, it’s not good enough.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense

The Steelers played musical quarterbacks on Sunday, first benching Devlin Hodges for Mason Rudolph due to performance and then having to bring Hodges back after Rudolph got hurt. Neither got the job done against the lowly Jets. Rudolph at least took care of the ball better and found the end zone, but the bitter reality is the Steelers are in danger of missing the playoffs because neither of these guys are good enough to win games for a playoff team. It’s a shame, too, because their defense has done all it can. It may not be enough.

Seattle Seahawks’ offense

Sunday couldn’t have gone much worse for the Seahawks. First, there was the performance: Russell Wilson was repeatedly pressured by the Arizona Cardinals, and the whole offense seemed to fall apart around him. Wilson was limited to 169 yards as the Seahawks totally failed to get anything going. What will raise even more serious questions, however, is the now-decimated running back group. Rashaad Penny was already out for the season, and both Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise went down for the playoffs in Sunday’s game. That’s a brutal blow, and it seriously damages their playoff prospects.

Rams on 3rd and long

From a defensive point of view, it’s simple: if it’s 3rd and 16, get off the field. The Rams had the 49ers in that situation not once, but twice in a 31-31 game late in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Had the Rams done their job, the 49ers would have had to punt, forcing overtime at the very worst. Both times they converted, the second on a horrendously blown coverage that allowed Emmanuel Sanders to go all the way into field goal range. The Rams may have ultimately missed the playoffs anyway, but to clinch it in that fashion is simply brutal.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers

Winston could become a 30-30 quarterback with two interceptions next week. It’s not exactly the kind of history he’ll want to be making. Winston’s four interceptions, one a pick-six, led to ten Houston points and effectively cost Tampa Bay their game on Saturday. That’s alarmingly par for the course for Winston, who has 28 interceptions on the season and has chronic turnover problems. You never know what you’re getting with Winston, and that’s the problem — he’s just not a reliable and consistent quarterback, and he showed by again on Saturday.

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