We are moving toward the part of the season where every game is decisive and every mistake is magnified in the NFL. Coaches are now starting to sweat it out as their seats get hotter, and teams are seeing their playoff hopes get slimmer and slimmer depending on how they do. In other words, the stakes are high.
So who isn’t living up to expectations? Here are five disappointments from Week 11.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins
It’s fair to ask if the Dolphins went to Tagovailoa prematurely. He struggled on Sunday, throwing for just 83 yards before being benched in a move that coach Brian Flores explicitly said was down to performance. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t lead the Dolphins to a comeback, but the team received a bit of a jolt when he came in. Tagovailoa isn’t passing well enough right now. The Dolphins are still in a solid position, but the quarterback needs to improve.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
Jackson came into the 2020 season talking about how motivated he was to go even further after the Ravens’ playoff loss last year. A rematch with the same Tennessee Titans team that knocked them out should have been a chance to make a statement. Instead, it showed just how much work they have to do. Jackson missed two opportunities for touchdown passes and threw for just 186 yards. Dez Bryant, signed off the street, was the team’s second-leading receiver with 28 yards. The offense is broken, and these postgame quotes didn’t inspire much confidence either.
The Carolina Panthers do not have a great defense. The Detroit Lions have enough talent on offense to at least be competent. Instead, the Lions got shut out, and their season is now circling the drain. Matt Patricia increasingly looks like a dead man walking. It never needed to get this bad in Detroit, but the franchise has completely lost its way — not that it was ever that close to figuring it out anyway. It’s time, once again, for wholesale changes.
New England Patriots’ defense
Deshaun Watson is entirely capable of hurting anyone, but the Patriots’ defense was brutal on Sunday. Their performance is even harder to excuse when considering the Texans essentially had the run game taken away from them. That meant Watson was passing a lot, and the Patriots couldn’t stop it. Watson threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns, then added a third rushing touchdown. In the end, Houston put up 399 total yards and 27 points. That won’t do against a team that has been struggling all year.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Packers
Sunday was cruel for Valdes-Scantling, who made a big catch late in the fourth quarter to get the game to overtime in the first place. However, the wide receiver made a huge mistake in overtime, fumbling away the ball after a catch to essentially set the Colts up for a win. It was, quite literally, a game-changing turnover, and he was visibly upset on the sideline afterward. He has the backing of his quarterback, but that’s unlikely to make him feel any better.
Jerry Jones said recently that the Dallas Cowboys are more likely to be buyers than sellers at the trade deadline, but they have already dealt away one big-name player.
The Cowboys have agreed to trade pass-rusher Everson Griffen to the Detroit Lions in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media first reported.
Griffen, 32, did not generate a ton of interest this past offseason before signing a one-year, $6 million deal with Dallas. He has 2.5 sacks and 20 total tackles in seven games this season.
While he is not as productive as he was a few years ago, Griffen should still provide the Lions with a nice boost along their defensive front. He had eight sacks for the Minnesota Vikings last year and a career-high 13 back in 2017.
Matt Patricia has not produced positive results with the Detroit Lions since they hired him as head coach back in 2018, and Sunday could reportedly be his last day on the job if things don’t go well.
Several Lions sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that they believe Patricia could be fired if Detroit loses to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Lions are 1-3 coming off their bye and have lost games in disappointing fashion this season, and Patricia and his staff were put on notice entering the year. Because of that, one source told La Canfora Sunday’s game “feels like do or die.”
The Lions are 10-25-1 since hiring Patricia prior to the 2018 season. Patricia made a name for himself as a defensive assistant under Bill Belichick, but his defense has left plenty to be desired. Detroit has allowed 31.8 points and 405 yards per game this season, which both rank in the bottom five of the NFL. The Lions also blew a huge lead earlier this year when Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears scored 21 points against them in the fourth quarter.
Ownership began expressing its concerns to Patricia around Thanksgiving last year, according to La Canfora. Some within the organization felt a coaching change should have been made before this season, but Patricia’s job may have been saved by an ownership transition. Whatever the case, it is clear the Lions need to start winning now.
When you make the kind of history the Lions have made this year, it usually isn’t long before the head coach is looking for work elsewhere.
After some questions about how much of a schedule the NFL would play in Week 4, a mostly full slate of games went ahead on Sunday. The schedule was slightly reduced, but there was no shortage of excitement and drama. There was also plenty of disappointment, too, as some teams and players with high expectations fell flat.
Here are five big disappointments from NFL Week 4.
What is happening in Dallas? Nothing good, as they got absolutely torched by Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, and the Cleveland Browns. Turnovers played a huge role — the Cowboys fumbled on back-to-back drives in the second quarter, setting up short touchdown drives for Cleveland both times. The big concern is a “soft” defense that gave up 508 yards and 49 points to the Browns, even as the offense produced at a high level. The Cowboys are now 1-3, and their season needs to turn around quickly.
The Lions have had a double-digit lead in all three of their losses this year. Even when they’re up, it’s started to feel inevitable that things will turn on them. That happened again on Sunday against the Saints. The Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Then the Saints scored 35 unanswered points. Matt Patricia appears incapable of turning things around, and the team can’t play 60 full minutes. A coaching change feels inevitable.
Kenyan Drake, Cardinals
The Cardinals were generally disappointing on Sunday, losing to a Panthers team without Christian McCaffrey. Drake is definitely a concern at this point, though. He was expected to be the lead back in an explosive offense. Instead, he has one touchdown and was held to 35 yards on 13 carries Sunday. Part of that was the game script going against him, but it continues a string of underwhelming performances from the running back.
Nick Foles, QB, Bears
Perhaps Foles leading the Bears to a comeback win last week raised expectations too high. He was poor on Sunday against the Colts, throwing for a modest 249 yards with an interception. His lone touchdown came in garbage time, and was too late to make any difference in the outcome. Foles hasn’t actually won a start since 2018. He remains a superior option for the Bears than Mitchell Trubisky, but he’s still not a leading NFL starting quarterback.
The dire predictions some made when DeAndre Hopkins was traded away in exchange for David Johnson are coming true. The Texans’ offense is a mess. Deshaun Watson doesn’t know what to do, his offensive line is not protecting him, and Johnson has not looked like his old self any more than he did in Arizona. The Vikings have been brutal defensively this season, but the Texans still only came up with a modest 386 yards. That’s not good enough, and it suggests that it wasn’t just tough opposition that was causing the Texans to go winless.
The Detroit Lions are known for setting unwanted records, and they did it again on Sunday.
The Lions jumped out to a 14-3 first quarter lead over the Green Bay Packers. The lead did not last, as the Packers stormed back to win 42-21 at Lambeau Field.
Remarkably, this is the fourth consecutive game the Lions held a double-digit lead in and went on to lose, setting a new NFL record.
The Lions coughed up a 23-6 lead against the Chicago Bears last week and lost 27-23. They had a 17-3 lead against the Packers in Week 17 last season and lost. They squandered a 10-0 lead over the Denver Broncos the week prior to that.
The Lions have found some absolutely crushing ways to lose these games. It’s an indictment of both the players and the coaching staff that this has become a legitimate trend.
Coach Matt Patricia was given a list of high expectations for 2020. So far, he’s not meeting them, and the Lions’ inability to see out games could cost him his job in the end.
D’Andre Swift scored a touchdown in his NFL debut with the Detroit Lions on Sunday, but it will be the touchdown he didn’t score that haunts him for quite some time.
The Lions were trailing 27-23 late in the fourth quarter when Matthew Stafford drove them into the red zone. With 11 seconds left in the game, Swift got free down the sideline and should have had an easy game-winning touchdown. He dropped a perfect pass from Stafford.
Swift did have to turn his body, but it’s a play that very clearly should have been made. Here’s another angle:
The drop came on second down, but the Lions failed to convert on their next play and wound up losing. Had Swift secured the pass, he would have been the hero in his first ever NFL game.
Swift, a second-round pick out of Georgia, had just eight yards on three carries, though he did score a touchdown. He was outplayed by Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries.
That has to be the worst drop we’ve seen since Nelson Agholor’s infamous flub last season.
Adrian Peterson was a surprise release by the Washington Football Team this week, but it didn’t take him very long to find a new home.
Peterson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Sunday that he is signing with the Detroit Lions. He said his familiarity with Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who served in the same role with the Minnesota Vikings several years ago, was a big factor in the decision.
“They’re giving me an opportunity to play,” Peterson told Anderson. “I know coach (Darell) Bevell from my days in Minnesota. Ultimately I feel comfortable going there and helping them to get better.”
Peterson had a productive season last year with Washington. The 35-year-old rushed for 898 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry, which was his highest mark since 2015. He has made it clear that he is nowhere close to considering retirement.
Lions running backs D’Andre Swift and Bo Scarbrough have been banged up this offseason, and Kerryon Johnson is coming off knee surgery. Peterson should provide some valuable depth for Detroit.
The Detroit Lions are undergoing a change with their ownership group heading into the 2020 season, as Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down from her role as principal owner of the team.
The Lions announced on Tuesday that Ford will step aside and her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, will assume the role of principal owner and chairman.
Martha Ford, 94, has acted as the chairman of the Lions since 2014, when her husband William died. William Clay Ford had been the sole owner of the Lions since 1963.
The Lions have never won a championship under the Ford family’s ownership. They have won four titles as a franchise, with their last coming in 1957 before the AFL-NFL merger.
The Detroit Lions have been fielding phone calls for the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft, and they may have a taker.
The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero reports that the Lions are planning to pick in the Dolphins’ spot at No. 5, which suggests the teams would be swapping first-round picks.
There has been noise about the Dolphins wanting to move up to No. 3, but it was supposedly for an offensive lineman. That makes little sense.
If Miami wants to move up that high, it’s probably to take a quarterback. We have long believed they want Tua Tagovailoa, and a trade would fit in with that desire. Detroit still might be able to draft Jeff Okudah at No. 5, so a move down by two spots would make sense for them.
The Detroit Lions are receiving trade calls regarding the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn told reporters via a Zoom call on Friday that they have had talks about trading the pick since the combine.
“We call every team in the league, see what they’re thinking,” Quinn said, via MLive.com. “Obviously I’ll handle the calls that are a little closer to our pick, especially this year, since we’re drafting at three. I’ve had a few of those conversations over the last week or so — had a few of those conversations, honestly, as far back as the combine — and then there will be more substantive talks next week if people are interested.”
The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers are viewed as teams that might have interest in trading up, and it has to do with a battle over quarterbacks. The Dolphins are widely expected to take a quarterback, while the Chargers might go that road too. Joe Burrow is expected to be drafted No. 1 overall, and it’s my view that Miami wants Tua Tagovailoa, who could be available at No. 5. Would the Chargers or someone else trade up to try and get him? Does someone want Justin Herbert badly enough to move up to that spot? One report says the Chargers are not expected to make a trade.
Meanwhile, MLive.com suggests the Lions are unlikely to make a deal. They are expected to take former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah with the pick.