The NFL’s regular season is over, and we now know how the playoffs will look. We also know who went out with a bang and who went out with a whimper in what was the last chance for many to make an impression until next September.
For the final time of the regular season, let’s take a look at 15 big disappointments from the week that was in the NFL.
Things were set up nicely for the Ravens — beat the Cincinnati Bengals at home and a playoff appearance would be theirs. Cincinnati knocked the Detroit Lions out of playoff contention a week ago, and that should have served as a warning to the Ravens. Baltimore came out flat, fell behind, fought back to take the lead, and then got burned by a late Andy Dalton touchdown pass on 4th and long. The defense will be replaying that moment in their heads for the entire offseason. The offense, particularly Joe Flacco, will be reliving an 89-yard pick six and two failed drives at the end of the game.
Corey Coleman, WR, Browns
Fairly or not, Coleman will live long in NFL folklore for all the wrong reasons. His fourth down drop on a pass delivered right to his hands ended Cleveland’s last hope of getting a win in 2017. It was typical Browns, really — a play that looked like it was falling apart was salvaged just enough to allow Coleman to make his dreadful error. There were plenty of reasons the Browns lost on Sunday and all season long, but Coleman’s drop will be remembered as the tipping point.
Ingram and dynamic rookie Alvin Kamara are largely responsible for the Saints being one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. Ingram has rushed for 922 yards and scored nine touchdowns, while Kamara has 1,220 yards from scrimmage and has scored 11 touchdowns. A New Orleans offense that is known for being pass-heavy has taken on an entirely new identity, and the result is a 9-3 record.
If the Saints can beat the Falcons Thursday night, Atlanta would will fall to 7-6 and be three games out of first in the NFC South. New Orleans would then only have to worry about protecting their division lead from the Carolina Panthers down the stretch.
Week 8 started on Thursday night with a blowout win for the Baltimore Ravens. The rest of the week produced games that were closer, with the Houston-Seattle game delivering a particularly awesome ending. The Jaguars had the week off, which means at least one quarterback was spared an embarrassing game. But between special teams, poor rushing attacks, and some quarterbacks, there were plenty of disappointments in the week.
Here’s a look at the biggest disappointments of Week 8.
Detroit Lions’ red zone offense
The Detroit Lions looked incredible on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers … as long as you don’t count what happened in the red zone. Their offense simply could not deliver in the red zone, and that cost them the game. They took five trips to the red zone and came away with only nine points. They failed to score a touchdown, settled for three field goals, and turned the ball over on downs twice.
They had a first-and-goal from the 10 in the second quarter and ended up kicking a 37-yard field goal. They had a 1st-and-10 from the 16 before halftime and kicked a 34-yard field goal. In the third quarter, they had a 2nd-and-goal from the 1 and got stopped three plays in a row and turned it over on downs. Then they gave up a 98-yard touchdown pass. Then for the second possession in a row they got a 1st-and-goal at the 4 and took the ball to the 1, but this time they took the field goal. After going for the field goal that time, they were down 20-15 on their next trip to the red zone. They were forced to go for it on 4th-and-7 from the 8 and turned it over on downs again.
Detroit’s defense kept them in the game. The red zone offense failed them badly.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
Winston would probably be near the top of any list of disappointments of the season, as the third-year quarterback is still making mistakes and failing to correct them despite being surrounded by plenty of weapons. On Sunday, Winston threw two more interceptions, lost a fumble, threw the ball all over the place, and failed to get the ball into the end zone. His Bucs fell to 2-5 with their home loss to the Carolina Panthers. Perhaps his lingering shoulder issue has something to do with his poor performance, but if that’s the case, he shouldn’t be playing — he was not good on Sunday.
With all the excitement coming out of New Orleans Saints practice over the way Adrian Peterson looks, it’s easy to forget that Peterson may not even be the team’s starter. That job will likely belong to Mark Ingram, who insists he is not concerned about losing it.
On Sunday, Ingram told reporters he is not afraid of having to compete for playing time — even against one of the greatest backs of all time.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in the backfield with me, who I’m competing with, I’m always going to give my 100 percent all,” Ingram said, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. “I respect him and everything he’s done. He’s still a great player; he’s overcome a lot of adversity. But at the end of the day, I’m going to compete, no matter who it is. Not afraid of competition, no matter how high on the totem pole they are. I’m always going to compete, I’m always going to give my best.”
Ingram, who sat out of the first two weeks of OTAs with an undisclosed injury, said he and Peterson feel they can make each other better players.
“We help each other,” Ingram explained. “He’s new to the system, so I can help him with some play calls and small nuances within the offense. And he’s an elite runner, one of the best that we’ve seen in this game. So just to see how he runs, how he practices, makes us all better.”
With the New Orleans Saints having signed one of the best running backs in NFL history in Adrian Peterson, there have been some rumblings that Mark Ingram could be on the trading block.
Not so, say multiple reporters.
After Saints center Max Unger suffered a foot injury last week that could force him to miss the start of the season, there was speculation that Ingram could become expendable if New Orleans gets desperate for offensive line help. The most popular rumor is that the Philadelphia Eagles, who need a power running back, could part ways with veteran center Jason Kelce.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter told 97.5 The Fanatic that there is “absolutely nothing” to the reports of a potential Ingram-for-Kelce swap.
“There is absolutely nothing to that. There was absolutely never anything to that,” Schefter said, as transcribed by Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. “I spoke to people in both organizations, and they both said the same thing; ‘We’ve never spoken.’ I don’t know where that started. Maybe that would start talks up now, but I doubt it based on those reactions from both organizations. That was never in the works. I don’t want to say it would never happen, because stranger things have happened, but I’m just telling you there is nothing to that as of right now.”
Peterson is a huge name with huge ability, but he’s far from a sure thing. Both he and Ingram have had some injury issues in recent years, so it would be wise for the Saints to use them as compliments to one another. Plus, Unger still has a shot to be ready for the start of the regular season.
Shortly after the Cleveland Browns selected Miami tight end David Njoku in the first-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, veteran Gary Barnidge tweeted at the newcomer, welcoming him to the family. Barnidge told Njoku to get ready for work. A few short hours later, Barnidge was back on Twitter, but this time he was saying farewell to the Browns and their fans, because the selection of Njoku meant his release.
The NFL is a business — a brutal business — and Barnidge experienced that firsthand. There was a new tight end in town, and before they even got onto the field, that rookie had taken his job.
Barnidge won’t be the only player to find himself without a job following the NFL Draft. In fact, quite a few veterans around the league probably will. That’s just the nature of the game.
Here are 10 other players who find their jobs in jeopardy following the NFL Draft.
10. Will Tye (Tight End, New York Giants)
The Giants had already signed former Minnesota Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison prior to the NFL Draft, which potentially put several jobs in jeopardy. After drafting Mississippi tight end Evan Engram in the first round, those jobs are now even more in question.
Will Tye has essentially taken over as the team’s starter following the decline of Larry Donnell, who remains unsigned. But Tye had been pushed by 2016 sixth-round pick Jerell Adams a season ago. The Giants have been impressed with Adams’ multi-faceted versatility, but acknowledge there’s still some development needed.
Unlikely to carry more than three tight ends, Tye could be the odd man out for the Giants despite doing a solid job over the past two seasons, hauling in 90 receptions for 859 yards and four touchdowns.
9. Chris Ivory (Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Ingram, 27, earned 205 of those 404 carries last season, rushing for 1,043 yards and six touchdowns. We heard earlier in the day that the Saints had already begun negotiating a contract with the 32-year-old Peterson. But Ingram has clear edges over Peterson in at least age, health, pass-catching, and pass protection, so it makes sense for New Orleans to maintain their backfield pecking order regardless of what happens.