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#pounditWednesday, January 20, 2021

15 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 10

Sean McDermott

Week 10 saw one of the NFL’s two remaining winless teams get a much-needed victory, plus a myriad of upsets or near-upsets, and some top performances. We also saw stars and teams struggle in unexpected fashion as the playoff race really begins to heat up.

Here are the 15 biggest disappointments from NFL Week 10.

Buffalo Bills’ defense

A once-promising Bills season is headed in the completely wrong direction. Buffalo has now lost two in a row following a 5-2 start, with Sunday’s home 47-10 loss to New Orleans being a particular embarrassment. The defense was simply not up to par against the revitalized New Orleans Saints, who ran all over Buffalo’s hapless defense. New Orleans put up 482 total yards, with 298 of those yards on the ground — a remarkable total for the Saints. They also rushed for six scores. Buffalo never had a chance with the way things went for the defense.

Broncos’ special teams

The Broncos have seen their offense struggle lately and, particularly last week against Philadelphia, their defense as well. Why not add the special teams to the equation? In the first half against New England alone on Sunday night, Isaiah McKenzie muffed a punt, which led to six points. They then allowed a 103-yard kick return for a touchdown. As if that weren’t enough, a blocked punt in the second quarter set up New England for another touchdown. Denver’s special teams hasn’t been good this year, but they were more or less directly responsible for New England’s first half performance. Stopping Tom Brady is already hard enough. Beating the Patriots after making so many special teams errors is nearly impossible.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars

Jacksonville may have squeaked out an overtime win on Sunday, but Bortles certainly did everything he could to literally throw this one away. Bortles threw two key interceptions to San Diego’s Tre Boston late in the game, with the second one looking like it was going to result in a surprising home loss. Jacksonville won this game thanks to their defense as Bortles was given a lot of opportunities to pass — and reminded us that he has many, many limitations.

New York Giants

Will losing to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers be enough to get Ben McAdoo fired? It’s too soon to say, but if his fate isn’t sealed now, it certainly feels like it will be soon enough. The 1-8 Giants allowed Kyle Shanahan to earn his first win as San Francisco’s head coach. Steve Spagnuolo has little reason to hold his head high either after his defense gave up nearly 500 total yards to a team quarterbacked by C.J. Beathard. The Giants need a total and complete cleaning of house. The only question is how long they’ll take to get it started.

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

Allen was being defended by Jalen Ramsey, so we knew he had a tough task on Sunday. He didn’t really deliver. Allen was held completely in check as the Chargers faced off against the difficult Jacksonville defense, catching only four passes for a total of 48 yards. Allen started off the season with two 100-yard games in the first month, leading many to believe he was set to duplicate the success he enjoyed as a rookie. Since then, he hasn’t done much. The inability for Philip Rivers to connect with him regularly was definitely a reason that the Chargers couldn’t pull this one out.

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

Brown got his usual share of targets, but the catches did not follow in a 20-17 win over the Colts. He missed a couple big play opportunities — not necessarily any fault of his own — and had his second worst game of the season in terms of yardage (47 on three catches). He looked in line for a big day against the lowly Colts, but it wasn’t happening for him as he and Ben Roethlisberger did not seem to be in perfect sync. Don’t expect that to become a regular occurrence.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins

It was one of those days for Cousins, who offers something for everyone. He went 26 of 45 for 327 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He gave something for his detractors to point to as evidence that he’s one of the game’s most overrated quarterbacks. His accuracy was shaky at times, his interception was not a good one, and he took advantage of some close rushing touchdowns. But on the whole, this was the kind of inconsistent performance that makes you doubt him for just a moment.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

It’s boom or bust for Hilton, and this was a bust week for the Colts’ star receiver. Pittsburgh’s secondary was there for the taking — Indianapolis did put up 17 points — but Hilton was not a part of it. He had just two receptions for 23 yards. On the whole, Hilton’s season has been a letdown. Playing with Jacoby Brissett as his QB, Hilton has had far more mediocre games than he has had good ones. But to follow up a 175-yard, two-touchdown performance with just 23 yards? Woof.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars

Fournette hadn’t played in about a month, which surely had something to do with his disappointing performance on Sunday. That was little consolation to the Jaguars, who gave Fournette the ball 17 times and saw him gain just 33 yards. Jacksonville threw the ball a lot more than usual on Sunday, though it’s debatable whether that was cause or effect for Fournette’s slow day. Either way, he looked rusty, and the numbers bear that out.

DeShone Kizer — or Hue Jackson

As the team’s head coach, Jackson rightly took the fall for the horrendously botched clock management at the end of the first half in the Browns’ loss to the Detroit Lions. Even three points would have made it a 17-13 game and could have changed the feeling of things coming out of the locker room. In reality, the mistake was likely attributed to Kizer. There seemed to be extensive confusion throughout the Cleveland offense on the play in question — but whatever the case, the poor play call is going to be a talking point, like it or not.

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions

Jones had been on a three-week hot streak, but he crashed back to earth against the Cleveland Browns, which looked like it should have been a favorable matchup for him. Jones was targeted twice and caught one pass for 22 yards. Lions QB Matthew Stafford leaned heavily on Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay instead, costing Jones dearly. Those looking for a big day from him against Cleveland’s secondary came away quite disappointed.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

Prescott looked a lot less convincing without Ezekiel Elliott, which was to be expected. One could argue that an even bigger reason for the second-year QB’s struggles was the injury that kept tackle Tyron Smith out of the game. Prescott was put under constant pressure by Atlanta’s front four and saw way too much of Adrian Clayborn, who had six sacks. Without those two key players, Prescott didn’t have much of a chance. He struggled mightily, completing only 20 passes for only 176 yards while losing two fumbles. One has to wonder if his ceiling is a little lower as long as Elliott is absent.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins

This has to be the low point for Pryor — or, at the very least, you’d hope so. In a game where Washington threw it 45 times, Pryor wasn’t targeted once. He only played 28 snaps. Pryor’s decision to sign just a one-year contract in hopes of cashing in big after a second good season in a row looks to have backfired spectacularly. Pryor has more or less become a non-factor in the Washington offense. Cousins barely targets him nowadays, and he’ll have to look long and hard at what happened to him this season.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills

None of the Bills had good games on Sunday, but Taylor’s performance stood out for all the wrong reasons. Taylor attempted only 18 passes, completed nine of them, and tallied up 56 yards. Part of the explanation for the poor stats was the fact that coach Sean McDermott sat him early to protect him in a blowout loss to New Orleans, but his performance was bad enough that some were wondering if Nathan Peterman might get a look next week. He won’t, but Taylor’s performance inspired little confidence.

NFL concussion protocol

Perhaps the protocol worked as intended, but Sunday’s events certainly didn’t make it look like it did. First, there was Thomas Davis allegation about Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman’s concussion, which did the league no favors. Worse still was the sight of a groggy Jacoby Brissett barely missing any time after a hit to the head, forcing the Colts to go on the defensive after their loss. All of this came after the Seahawks may have violated protocol with Russell Wilson on Thursday night.

It’s clear that the league still has a long way to go on head injuries. Week 10 proved that.

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