The Denver Broncos fell to 2-6 on the season with yet another disappointing performance on Sunday, and Joe Flacco is tired of the team playing conservative when they have nothing to lose.
After his team lost to the Indianapolis Colts on a late field goal from Adam Vinatieri, Flacco was openly critical of the coaching staff for not going for the win late in the fourth quarter. He alluded to the Broncos being out of playoff contention and said “it just feels like we’re kind of afraid to lose the game.”
Flacco clearly feels the Broncos should have gone for it more on 4th down late in the game. He was probably particularly frustrated with Vic Fangio deciding to punt the ball on 4th-and-5 from the Indy 43 with 1:48 left. Giving the ball away allowed the Colts to drive down the field and kick a game-winning field goal. Indy had no timeouts left at that point, so converting on 4th down could have iced the game for the Broncos.
Flacco’s mediocre play this season has been part of the problem in Denver, though the team continues to stand behind him. It will be interesting to see if that theme continues after he publicly ripped the coaching staff.
Joe Flacco and the Broncos’ offense looked completely inept in Thursday night’s loss to the Chiefs, and it has become clear that the quarterback situation in Denver is no better now than it has been at any point since Peyton Manning retired. Despite that, Flacco is not in danger of losing his starting job.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio told reporters on Friday that he is considering making major changes on offense after the 30-6 loss, but benching Flacco is not one of them.
Flacco has an uninspiring passer rating of 86.3 on the season. He threw for 213 yards on Thursday night, which was his highest passing yardage total in the past three games. He also fumbled several times, one of which led to a defensive touchdown. The 34-year-old has thrown just one touchdown pass during that span, but Denver has won two of its last three thanks to some solid play defensively.
As a team, the Broncos managed just 284 total yards against a Chiefs defense that has not been impressive in recent weeks. Denver’s offense is easily one of the worst in football, and Flacco has played a big role in that.
Of course, Flacco was supposed to serve as a bridge quarterback for the Broncos. They drafted Drew Lock in the second round of the NFL Draft earlier this year, and the former Missouri star is now eligible to practice after beginning the season on injured reserve with a thumb injury. He can play in games beginning in Week 9, but it seems unlikely that the Broncos will throw him into the mix given how bad the entire offense has been.
If you want to know how pathetic Denver was against the Chiefs, look no further than what Troy Aikman had to say about them during the TV broadcast. Flacco clearly isn’t the answer, but Fangio is standing behind him.
The superlative performances continued in Week 2 of the NFL season, though there were plenty of low-scoring struggles as well. In either case, someone has to be a loser, but some players and teams had tougher weeks than others. Be it fumble issues, forced throws, bad offenses or defenses, there were definitely some who will look back on their week and feel very disappointed.
Here are 10 big disappointments from Week 2.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings
The Cousins contract looks worse and worse for the Vikings, who appear to be saddled with a mediocre quarterback at this point. Cousins’ decision-making against the Green Bay Packers was suspect at best, as he threw two interceptions into triple coverage. They were both completely on Cousins trying to force it. The quarterback also fumbled twice and completed just 14-of-32 passes. Even his lone touchdown pass could’ve been picked off. The reality is his performance inside the 10 continues to be a major issue.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles
Boy does Nelson Agholor wish he had one play back. Down 24-20, Philly had a 2nd-and-2 at their 40 with under two minutes left and Carson Wentz threw a perfect pass down the left sideline for Agholor. But he dropped it.
Agholor would have walked into the end zone for a touchdown to give Philly the lead and possibly the game. Agholor was lauded for making a big catch on 4th-and-14 a few plays later, but that matters little when he dropped the touchdown that would have given them the lead.
Before long, all 32 NFL teams will officially report to training camp in preparation for the 2019 regular season. It will be the beginning of a quest for Super Bowl LIV, and everyone should legitimately feel like they have a chance.
That extends to the players — both rookies and veterans — who will be trying to earn a job or secure a starting position.
It’s easy to point out highly-drafted rookies or fringe players who need to perform well in training camp, but what about players of prominence? Whether they’re coming off injury, switching positions, or just looking to rebound from a poor 2018 season, here are 10 players with the most to prove in training camp.
10. Joe Flacco, QB, Denver Broncos
The Broncos and John Elway are head-over-heels in love with Drew Lock if you listen to them tell the story, so what does that mean for veteran Joe Flacco, who came over from Baltimore after being put on the back burner in favor of a rookie quarterback last season? It must feel like the Twilight Zone for the former Super Bowl MVP. Needless to say, his starting job is anything but a given and a battle will ultimately rage in training camp. Flacco will need to prove he can still sling it at a top-end level, and he’ll have to do that with Lock breathing down his neck. Maybe the Broncos think the competition will bring out the best in Flacco. He seems to think it will.
The NFL has been a quarterback’s league for many years now, and teams typically go as far as their QB will take them. For franchises like the New England Patriots, that is a comforting feeling. For others like the Denver Broncos who are facing uncertain situations at the position, it leaves fans not knowing what to expect.
Like every season, there are going to be quarterbacks who exceed expectations in 2019 and those who fall well short. Here are several we believe could leave fans disappointed this upcoming season.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Garoppolo is working his way back from ACL surgery, which is never easy. Like we have seen countless times with quarterbacks in the past, he will likely have to work through some rust no matter how healthy he is. It should also be noted that Garoppolo was not playing all that well before he got hurt last year, as he had just five touchdown passes and three interceptions in three games.
The 49ers were linked to both Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason because they have serious question marks at the wide receiver position. They tried to address that by drafting former South Carolina star Deebo Samuel in the second round, but the questions remain. Between the time off and the inexperience around him, Garoppolo may have trouble living up to his massive contract in 2019.
The NFL is a business — a sometimes ruthless business — and things can change overnight. For most players, the presence of another player at their position is a signal that rough seas could lay ahead, which is what makes the NFL Draft both exciting and stressful for some.
If free agency doesn’t lead to job changes, the draft often does. Here’s a look at 10 other players who find their jobs in jeopardy.
10. Karl Joseph, S, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders did not pick up the fifth-year option on former first-round pick Karl Joseph, which is a potential sign of things to come. The team also inked fellow safety Lamarcus Joyner to a four-year, $42 million deal before selecting Alabama’s Johnathan Abram in the first round of the draft, leaving very little room at a suddenly crowded position. Not only would that series of moves seems to indicate Joseph’s job is on the line, but it could very well indicate that his career in Oakland is on the line.
It sounds like Joe Flacco is a bit more popular than his predecessor in the Denver Broncos’ locker room.
Broncos running back Devontae Booker suggested Friday that Flacco is much more personable than Case Keenum, who he says did not interact much with anyone but his fellow quarterbacks during his season with Denver.
Obviously, it’s only one player’s opinion, but it certainly paints Keenum in a fairly negative light. The fact that he didn’t play well certainly doesn’t help matters, and if the Broncos are hoping Flacco is a breath of fresh air, he seems to be off to a good start. He’s had his own questions about his brand of leadership, but he’s certainly won over at least one convert.
Which quarterbacks provide the worst value based on their contracts compared to their likely production in 2019? We have already identified the 10 best values at the position, starting with MVP Patrick Mahomes. Now, we turn to the opposite end of the spectrum, players that are being paid handsomely but where the value is not there.
Here’s a look at 10 quarterbacks who will provide the worst value based on their 2019 contracts.
10. Chase Daniel, Bears
Bless my boy Chase Daniel, who has made a great living as a backup. He has started four career games in the NFL and has a cap charge of $6 million this year. He will have earned over $30 million in the NFL after the upcoming season. That’s not bad money if you can get it, but when teams are able to sign guys like Ryan Tannehill and Blake Bortles for over half that amount, he’s not a very good value, while making more than a sizable minority of starting QBs on their rookie deal.
Joe Flacco is willing to help backup and potential heir apparent Drew Lock, but he has a unique way to do it.
Flacco said Monday he is hopeful that Lock will learn from new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, but does not intend to take on a hands-on mentoring role himself. He also hopes that the rookie picks up a thing or two from him as well, because if he does, it’s probably because Flacco is performing well.
Veteran quarterbacks are in a weird spot when teams pick rookie backups, and it’s led to awkward relationships before. Flacco is taking the approach that he has nothing to fear if he plays well, and that will prove instructive for Lock, too. Whether it works that way remains to be seen.
The 2019 offseason has seen no shortage of major trades, big names on the move, and players full of potential landing in new locations. Some of the fits appear obvious, while others may make you scratch your head. But which moves will turn out to be the best? Which players will thrive in their new locations? Let’s take a look.
10. Earl Thomas, Baltimore Ravens
As talent began to depart in Seattle, Earl Thomas saw his production and playing time decrease — the latter the result of injuries over the previous three seasons. A fresh start in Baltimore may prove revitalizing for Thomas, who will bring to the Ravens the same sort of playing style the team lost when Ed Reed walked following the 2012 season. Needless to say, it’s been a long drought for the once defensively superior Ravens, but that comes to an end in 2019 — at least at the safety position. Thomas provides the exact style of play Baltimore has been in search of, while his veteran experience and leadership in the locker-room can not possibly be overstated.
9. Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants
Jabrill Peppers entered the NFL essentially position-less and unsuccessfully tried to take over the free safety role during his rookie campaign. The growing pains were obvious, but more than the first-year transition, Peppers simply wasn’t cut out to take on big-time receiving threats in coverage. In 2018, Peppers took a dramatic leap forward playing strong safety and playing closer to the line of scrimmage. In New York, taking over for Landon Collins, that is precisely the role Peppers will assume, allowing him to develop his strength without having to concern himself with playing free safety.
8. Joe Flacco, Denver Broncos
The pressure had begun mounting for Joe Flacco in Baltimore years ago, so his benching a season ago came as little surprise. However, contrary to popular belief, Flacco was actually performing at a solid clip early on, ranking 16th overall in DVOA just behind Jameis Winston, Baker Mayfield and Aaron Rodgers. In Denver, Flacco will takes the reigns with far less pressure while also providing the Broncos’ offense with the one thing they’ve been lacking: a quarterback capable of throwing the deep ball. Expect Flacco to produce at or above his career averages, especially if John Elway & Co. cut him loose.
7. Michael Bennett, New England Patriots
Michael Bennett has already established himself as a quality defensive lineman capable of playing both inside and outside, but even after an arguable career year in 2018, he’s poised to get even better as a member of the Patriots. His off-field controversies and locker-room presence aside, Bennett is the exact type of player Bill Belichick tends to get the most out of. As for those potential locker-room issues, they won’t fly in Foxborough. The Patriots have a way of nipping that stuff in the bud and keeping players completely focused on the game of football. Expect big things from Bennett in 2019, which may be frustrating to hear for those who are sick and tired of New England.
6. Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s been a wild and rewarding ride for Nick Foles in recent years, and he has the Eagles to thank not only for that, but also for doing the right thing and letting him walk into free agency unimpeded. Now Foles finds himself in Jacksonville as the face of their franchise. There’s no one looking over his shoulder, his job is secure, and he knows what to expect going into work each day. All of that will culminate in Foles finally reaching his ceiling, which was witnessed in a glimpse during the team’s improbable Super Bowl run just two seasons ago. So long as the Jaguars can shore up their offensive line, Foles may rapidly develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
5. Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions
Trey Flowers had a level of success with the New England Patriots, but was capped by their system and style of play. That’s not a bad thing. For some, like the aforementioned Michael Bennett, it will work out. But for Flowers, he needs a little more defensive freedom, which he will find in spades in Detroit. Additionally, the Lions have suddenly begun to churn out pass rushers with remarkably frequency — Devon Kennard, Romeo Okwara and Jarrad Davis come to mind. Flowers, of course, is more of a pure pass rusher who will excel in those situations, wracking up the sacks at a faster clip than his new teammates. Expect double-digit sacks in 2019 and beyond.
4. Landon Collins, Washington Redskins
It was only a few seasons ago that Landon Collins was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. Since then, Collins’ production has steadily declined and the “box safety” label that plagued him coming out of college has returned. Part of that is due to repeated defensive coordinator changes, a lack of talent alongside him, and being forced to play out of position due to injuries. Whatever role Collins has in Washington will be defined, which immediately puts him ahead of the curve. So long as they pair him with a quality ball-hawking safety, Collins will be able to return to the player who was one considered on the level of elite defenders.
3. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
After sitting out an entire year, Le’Veon Bell will return to the field as a member of the upstart New York Jets, who are suddenly feeling quite good about themselves. Not only will Bell be running with a chip on his shoulder, but he’ll do so behind a quality offensive line and ascending young quarterback. And that is precisely where Bell will bring the greatest value. Although he’ll likely gain upwards of 2,000 yards from scrimmage, providing Sam Darnold a trusted outlet will go a long way is helping to build his confidence. It will also boost Darnold’s numbers and create opportunities for other playmakers to step up as Bell draws the vast majority of defensive attention.
2. Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
It was clear to anyone with a pulse that Antonio Brown had worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh and was no longer capable of coexisting with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Accordingly, he forced a trade to the Oakland Raiders where he will be able to start fresh with a new quarterback. And as the Raiders continue to retool, head coach Jon Gruden will lean heavily on his veterans and superstars, meaning Brown immediately will become the focal point of Oakland’s offense. How high he can fly as the centerpiece of a potentially talented offense is anyone’s guess, but we’re all going to find out in short order.
1. Odell Beckham Jr, Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. is already an elite superstar, but things simply weren’t working out in New York. Fresh scenery and a new start in Cleveland could be just what he needs, not only because Beckham escapes the bright lights and gossip of The Big Apple, but also because he reunites with friends and former college teammates. Additionally, Beckham now has the added benefit of playing for a team on the rise with a young quarterback who may fit his style of play better than Eli Manning did previously. So long as he can stay healthy, Beckham should have his best season in 2019.