We’re officially more than halfway through the NFL season, and it’s becoming quite clear who has a chance to compete in the playoffs and who doesn’t. As the stakes get higher, the disappointments get more extreme, and there was no shortage of letdowns on Sunday, including quarterbacks playing for their jobs and a high-flying offense finding itself completely grounded.
Here are ten big disappointments from NFL Week 9.
The Browns were gifted a matchup with untested quarterback Brandon Allen, who took the reins of an offense that had struggled all season. Cleveland still couldn’t win. They outgained the Broncos, didn’t turn the ball over, and still lost thanks to, once again, some brutal red zone offense. This has been an issue for a while now and is still not fixed. Every week, the Browns seem to find a different way to lose despite all their talent. It’s the mark of a bad football team.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Bears
Trubisky’s hold on the starting job has to be tenuous at best by now. He completed just 10-of-21 passes on Sunday, and failed to complete anything beyond the line of scrimmage in the first half. That half was historically bad, in part due to scheme but mostly because of Trubisky’s limitations as a quarterback. It’s not clear how much better Chase Daniel would be for this offense, but he couldn’t possibly be any worse than what Trubisky is doing for the Bears right now.
Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts
Vinatieri looked to have recovered from a major early-season swoon that sparked retirement consideration. The warning signs resurfaced a week ago, when he missed a field goal and an extra point. That was generally forgiven when he made two field goals from over 50 yards, including a game-winner. No such luck Sunday. The laces were in when Vinatieri badly hooked a 43-yard try that would have put Indianapolis ahead with 1:11 left, and he missed an extra point as well. It’s hard to see the Colts running a legend like Vinatieri out of town, but one has to wonder if they’ll ask him to consider his future this week.
The Detroit Lions surprisingly traded defensive back Quandre Diggs to the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday, and Lions players didn’t hide their displeasure on social media.
Diggs was dealt to Seattle for a fifth-round pick, as reported on Twitter by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Various Lions players reacted to that report in shock and disappointment.
No members of the team had a stronger reaction than star cornerback Darius Slay, who both questioned the trade and called it “some bull—-.”
Defensive lineman Damon Harrison and return man Jamal Agnew also had strong reactions when news of the deal came out.
Diggs was a popular member of the Lions’ locker room, and what’s more, this looks like a selling move despite the team being 2-3-1. Considering how close they were to leading the NFC North — and probably should have given the officiating in that game — it’s easy to understand why players are so furious. GM Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia might have some cleaning up to do over this one.
It may take quite a while for Detroit Lions fans to get over the way their team was robbed of a win by the officiating crew in Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers, and a group of them appear to have found a way to channel their anger.
Billboards have been popping up along major highways in metro Detroit this week that feature a referee making a penalty call while wearing a cheesehead, which of course is the official symbol of Packers fandom. Anonymous Lions fans purchased the billboards through Outfront Media, and Max White of WXYZ in Detroit says there are at least seven in total.
The Lions and their fans have every right to be angry. Had it not been for two egregious calls and one no-call in Green Bay, the result of Monday’s game could have easily gone the other way. The NFL has since admitted that one of the calls should not have been made, and the league reached out to Detroit’s ownership group to address it.
Relative to how Lions fans feel as a whole, those billboards are fairly tame.
The Detroit Lions fell victim to a series of horrendous calls late in their loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, and the NFL is admitting a flag should not have been thrown on at least one play.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said at the league’s Fall Meeting in Florida on Tuesday that the second illegal use of the hands penalty against Lions defensive end Trey Flowers in the fourth quarter should not have been called. He added that he will reach out to the team’s front office about it.
That may be a start, but it likely will not satisfy the Lions or their fans. There were actually two calls and one no-call that went against Detroit in the fourth quarter that were egregious, and the Lions could have won the game without them.
Obviously, the last thing the NFL wants is for the officiating to be the topic of discussion on a night when Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a thrilling win over a division rival. We’ve already seen several prominent current and former players speak out about it, and it is something the league has to address.
The Detroit Lions lost to the Green Bay Packers 23-22 on Monday night, and they seemed to be working against two opponents when one takes into account all the penalty calls that went against them. Detroit was hurt by some unbelievable penalty calls from the referees, not to mention a missed call.
There are three calls that came in the fourth quarter that all went Green Bay’s way and had an enormous impact on the game. Here they are in chronological order.
1. Trey Flowers called for illegal use of the hands with just over 10 minutes to go
Green Bay had a 3rd-and-10 and Aaron Rodgers was sacked. The sack would have forced a 4th-and-long and likely punt to Detroit with the Lions up 22-13 in the fourth quarter. Flowers only had his hand on the shoulder, not in the face. It was just a totally missed call.
The Packers ended up scoring a touchdown on the possession to make it 22-20.
2. Missed pass interference call
The Lions had the ball at their 41 leading 22-20 with 7:11 left. On a 2nd-and-6 play, Matthew Stafford threw deep to Marvin Jones Jr. Will Redmond mugged him but there was no pass interference call.
Detroit ended up punting.
3. Trey Flowers called for illegal use of the hands again
On 3rd-and-4 at the 16 with 1:36 left, Flowers was once again called. This gave the Packers a first down. It was a bad call.
Green Bay should have been forced into fourth down. Had they kicked to take the lead, the Lions would have had plenty of time to rally back for a field goal of their own. Instead, the Packers got to run down the clock and kick to win it.
All three plays — the two illegal use of the hands penalty calls, and the missed pass interference — hurt the Lions enormously in the game. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is nothing new for Lions fans.
The Detroit Lions’ defense did a great job holding up against the Green Bay Packers in the red zone on Monday night, but they cost themselves with a stupid penalty.
The Lions were up 13-0 on Green Bay and had just stopped the Packers on 3rd-and-5 from the 13. The Packers looked like they would have to settle for a field goal, but then the Lions were called for having 12 men on the field during a field goal attempt.
The five-yard penalty gave Green Bay a first down, allowing the Packers to put their offense back on the field. Two plays later, Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to make it 13-7.
That penalty cost the Lions at minimum four points, and potentially seven considering you never know if Mason Crosby would have missed the kick.
Calvin Johnson has openly criticized the Detroit Lions on more than one occasion since he made the shocking decision to retire from the NFL at age 30 three years ago, but the latest revelation he made about his time with the franchise may be the most damning.
In a lengthy interview with Michael Rosenberg of The MMQB, Johnson criticized NFL teams for only caring about their “product” and not the welfare of players. He spoke about the rampant opioid abuse across the league, and he also recalled a time when he suffered a concussion and the Lions made him lie about it.
Johnson said he suffered so many concussions playing football that he got used to them and could recognize the signs, which included “seeing stars” and having impaired vision. He says he sustained one in a game against the Minnesota Vikings back in 2012, but the Lions were unhappy that he spoke about it publicly.
“I knew I was concussed because I blacked out. I wasn’t seeing straight,” Johnson said. “And they wanted me to change my story.”
Johnson sat out six offensive plays in the 2012 game after taking a big hit from then-Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway. He returned the next offensive series. Johnson confirmed after the game that he had suffered a concussion and said he also suffered nerve damage and was having trouble gripping a football. The Lions released a statement saying neither assessment was accurate.
“In response to the various reports (Thursday) regarding Calvin Johnson and injuries, we reiterate that Calvin did not suffer a concussion at any time this season,” the team said at the time. “With respect to the Minnesota game on Sept. 30, Calvin sustained a hit that resulted in him being removed from the game and evaluated pursuant to the appropriate concussion protocol by our team doctors.
“He also was subsequently examined the following day and was found to have no concussion. Additionally, Calvin did not suffer any nerve damage. He sustained what is referred to as a stinger Sept. 30 and was able to finish the game.”
Johnson initially declined comment when reporters sought clarification, but he later released a statement of his own through the team.
“I would like to clarify some of my comments from yesterday. I am aware that I did not suffer a concussion in our game against the Vikings earlier this year,” the statement read. “I misused the terms ‘nerve damage’ and ‘concussion.’ I have not suffered any nerve damage nor have I received any treatment for nerve damage. I did suffer a stringer in the game against Minnesota and also have experienced the kind of wear and tear that most NFL players are dealing with at this point in the season.”
The statement read like it was given from someone who was called to the principal’s office, and Johnson said that’s basically what happened. He said he played through concussions many times because that’s what you have to do to earn “Employee of the Month,” as Rosenberg termed it.
Johnson has had a very public dispute with the Lions over his signing bonus, but it’s clear the hostility he feels toward the organization has to do with more than just money. If the Lions forced him to cover up a concussion to make themselves look better, you can understand why he’d be bitter about that.
How did the Detroit Lions blow a 24-6 fourth quarter lead and ultimately end up going home with a tie against the Arizona Cardinals?
Kyler Murray has a theory. The Cardinals quarterback, who suddenly caught fire in the fourth as Arizona stormed back, sensed that fatigue became a factor for the Lions late in the 27-27 tie.
Murray citing defensive lineman Damon Harrison’s absence is interesting. On Twitter after the game, Harrison blamed himself for the defeat and said he’d been “dominated.”
Are there consequences for a lack of preseason reps? Does sitting out most of the games make it harder to play a full 60 minutes early in the regular season? It’s hard to say, but the Lions did not look like the same team, particularly on defense, at the end of the game as they did in the first half. In fact, the questions surrounded Murray at that point. He stepped it up and looked totally different in the second half, and some of the credit has to go his way.
The NFL is back, and so are the letdowns. For every exciting winner on Sunday, there was a loser — unless you’re the Detroit Lions or Arizona Cardinals, who managed to tie. The week had its fair share of goats, from teams with high expectations falling flat on their faces to a cavalcade of blown double-digit leads in second halves around the NFL.
Here are the ten biggest disappointments of NFL Week 1.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Woof. What an ugly season opener for the Steelers. They were skunked in the first half and fell behind 20-0. They mustered very little in the second half and only got their points thanks to a poor decision by Mike Tomlin. Tom Brady ate up their zone defenses, utilizing deep threat Phillip Dorsett for four catches, 95 yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s offense lacked punch, running the ball for just 32 yards and throwing for 255. It’s almost as if losing Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown made them worse.
2. Cleveland Browns
After an offseason of hype and aspirations of a division title, this was absolutely not how the Browns envisioned things going in Week 1. They were outcoached and outmatched by the Tennessee Titans, who picked off an overwhelmed (and hurt) Baker Mayfield three times. Perhaps the biggest issues for the Browns were their offensive line and the team’s discipline. Mayfield was sacked five times and the Browns took a remarkable 18 penalties for a total of 182 yards. Six of them resulted in first downs. That can’t happen on a team that expects to contend.
The Detroit Lions have locked down Damon Harrison for another year.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the defensive lineman has signed a one-year extension with the Lions worth $11 million. It will guarantee him $12 million in total over the next two years.
Harrison was acquired last October from the New York Giants and quickly became a key part of the Lions’ formidable run defense, adding 3.5 sacks in 10 games. He had been seeking a new contract and even skipped minicamp in search of one. It took a while, but ultimately, they have found a short-term agreement.