15 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 9
Week 9 saw a matchup between two NFC titans, and an evening matchup between two of the game’s top quarterbacks. It was another shaky week for some kickers, while some teams that have had a lot of success were suddenly stopped in their tracks. One team may have turned in the worst performance all season to date, too.
Here’s a look at the 15 biggest disappointments from NFL Week 9.
Sam Darnold, QB, Jets
There was always an acceptance that Darnold was going to have some hiccups in his rookie season, but we’ve moved beyond hiccups to something more worrisome. Darnold was very bad against a Miami Dolphins team that could have been beaten with a better performance. He threw four interceptions, including a pick-six, and failed to find the end zone once. This is the third consecutive outright bad game for Darnold, and unlike the others, this wasn’t really against a top-notch defensive opponent. No quarterback change is coming, but it’s concerning that the question even had to be asked.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins
The danger for the Redskins has always been that some team will stop their potent running attack and force them to alter their gameplan and throw it a lot. That happened Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, as Peterson fell flat on his face after a run of excellent performances. Some of it was down to a weakened offensive line, but nothing about nine carries and 17 yards looks good for AD. It was a big reason Washington lost.
Matthew Stafford and his offensive line
The Detroit Lions were always going to be facing a very difficult test against the formidable Minnesota Vikings defense, but they did themselves no favors on Sunday. Stafford himself wasn’t awful, but he was sacked ten times and often had nearly no time to throw or make decent decisions. His worst decision didn’t come on an interception, but rather with an ill-advised and inexplicable pitch that ultimately resulted in a Minnesota touchdown. Not coincidentally, the Lions didn’t find the end zone once on Sunday.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
Jones had a nice game against the Patriots on the surface. He rushed for 76 yards on 14 carries, good for a 5.4 average. He added two catches for 10 yards. But a fumble he lost at the start of the fourth quarter changed the game. The Packers and Patriots were tied at 17, and Green Bay was heading to the red zone where they would have likely taken the lead. Then Jones lost a fumble that the Patriots picked up. They turned around and went on a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to go up 24-17. That was the game-changing play as New England won 31-17.
Los Angeles Rams’ secondary
This was always going to be a very tough test for the Rams. They were facing the second-best offense in the NFL, but this is a team that made big moves to improve its defense with the aim of contending for and winning a Super Bowl. What they learned on Sunday was that if they come up against the Saints again, they’re going to have to do much better. Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns, while Alvin Kamara scored twice on the ground. The secondary in particular didn’t seem to have an answer for Michael Thomas, who caught an astonishing 12 passes for 211 yards.
Brandon McManus, K, Broncos
51 yards is a long kick for any kicker, but it’s a bit less difficult in Denver. McManus hasn’t been perfect on kicks from that distance, but the Broncos had to feel alright when McManus lined up from 51 down two with time about to expire. The kicker ended up pulling it wide right, allowing Houston to escape with yet another victory. It was his second miss of the day, though the first was from 62, and he can hardly be blamed for failing to convert from there.
Caleb Sturgis, K, Chargers
The Chargers got away with it, but Sturgis has very quickly become a real concern for this team. This is the fourth consecutive game in which the kicker has missed at least one extra point, and Sunday he missed two of three, along with his lone field goal attempt. If it were only a missed field goal here and there, it would be alright, but Sturgis is shanking extra points on an alarmingly regular basis. The Chargers may have to move on.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears
The Bears’ backfield is always a bit of a crapshoot, as you never know whether Cohen or Jordan Howard will get the hot hand. Cohen is so often utilized as both a rusher and receiver that it sometimes doesn’t matter. It did on Sunday. Even as the Bears trounced the Buffalo Bills, Cohen got five yards on six carries and only two targets, catching one for eight yards. He did have one long punt return at least. Let’s hope you weren’t using him on your fantasy team.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
As Flacco goes, so go the Ravens, and both are going in the wrong direction. Flacco completed 22-of-36 passes for 209 yards, and he didn’t throw an interception, but he also failed to find the end zone or move the ball efficiently. His most glaring error was managing to miss a wide-open Lamar Jackson for what would have been an easy touchdown. He’s just not getting the job done efficiently enough for Baltimore to win games like this.
Cleveland Browns’ defense
The Browns were hindered by key defensive injuries at a bad time on Sunday as they faced the Kansas City Chiefs. This was always going to be a very big test for a young defense, but many were keen to see how it would turn out. The answer was not so well. Patrick Mahomes threw for 375 yards and was only sacked twice, while the team added 139 yards rushing. Yes, some of this was down to injury, but the Browns proved they still have a way to go.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans
Coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, Miller just couldn’t find the magic on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. He only got 12 carries, which didn’t help, but his 21 yards didn’t exactly inspire much confidence. The lack of touches is concerning, as is the lack of success. Only his Week 3 performance against the New York Giants was worse for this season. Miller will have to try to get back on track against the Washington Redskins in two weeks, but that won’t be easy either.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
The hope was that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return to the quarterback position might be good news for Jackson’s numbers, but at least on Sunday, that was not the case. He only got four targets and caught two of them for a total of 42 yards. Those aren’t the numbers he was hoping for, especially in a game where Tampa Bay put up 28 points. Ultimately, Mike Evans got the bulk of the targets, and that may frustrate and worry the veteran wide receiver, who reportedly was hoping for a trade.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
Denver traded Demaryius Thomas during the week, and there was some thought that it might help Sanders, who is now firmly entrenched as the team’s No. 1 receiver. At least against Houston, it really didn’t. Sanders did catch six passes, but only for 47 yards, with his longest catch of the day being for 18 yards. In fact, Jeff Heuerman seemed to benefit more from Thomas’ departure than any other Denver receiver, Sanders especially.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
It’s a bit rough to put Gurley on a list when he went for 68 yards rushing and his team scored 35 points. He started both halves well and that was where he picked up the bulk of his yardage, but the big plays were sorely lacking from the star running back. The breakdown shows it well — he had 34 total yards at the end of the first half and only ended up getting to 80 on the game, locking in one of the worst performances of the season by his own lofty standards. The Rams didn’t really fall short because of anything Gurley did, but they probably would’ve liked a bigger game out of him.
It’s rare that a team looks like it outright quit on its coach this early in a season, especially when the coach is in his first year on the job. It was hard to draw any other conclusion, though, when watching the Raiders get blown out by the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night. The Niners aren’t a good team and were starting a third-string quarterback, yet Oakland was no match for them. In light of some recent reports, one has to wonder if the on-field issues aren’t reflective of off-field ones.