Week 4 of the NFL season got started off with a high-scoring affair on Thursday night between the Vikings and Rams. The trend of big offensive games continued on Sunday, with multiple teams scoring in the 30s and several quarterbacks torching defenses. We saw some head-scratching coaching moves, some defenses get burned, teams that failed to show up, and players who put up stinkers.
Let’s take a look at the 15 biggest disappointments from Week 4.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers
Fitzmagic is over. Fitzpatrick was benched at halftime of Tampa Bay’s blowout loss to Chicago, though things weren’t solely his fault. Despite his 400-yard game against Pittsburgh, the cracks began to show last week and were put on full display against Chicago, as he went 9-of-18 for 126 yards and an interception. He’s unlikely to get his starting job back after facing a quality defense for the first time and proving to be little match for them.
Some say that the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” and the reasons for that are obvious. Football is a dangerous game played by some of the strongest and fastest athletes in the world. Most NFL careers are understandably short at an average of between 3-6 years, with the higher number projected by the NFL and the lower number projected by the NFLPA.
In some cases, players exceed those numbers, but Father Time catches up with everyone. And quite often, that’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who loves the game and knows nothing else. But in the end, retirement is inevitable for all who snap on the chinstrap.
Here’s a look at 10 NFL players who should be considering retirement in 2018.
10. Karlos Dansby, LB, free agent
Karlos Dansby briefly considered retirement a season ago before signing a one-year deal to return to the Arizona Cardinals, where he appeared in 16 games, recording 95 tackles and one sack. While Dansby’s numbers were still respectable, his Pro Football Focus grade dipped to 68.2, which is considered below average. But despite that, and the fact that he’s approaching the age of 37, Dansby still does not appear ready to hang them up, and teams remain interested. Ultimately, the window on Dansby’s career is closing. He’ll need to think about life after football sooner rather than later.
Jon Gruden was an excellent football coach, but handling personnel was not his forte. He even made a hilarious admission during Monday night’s game between the 49ers and St. Louis Rams about one of his personnel mistakes back when he was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
After watching Niners kicker Phil Dawson boot a 54-yard field goal — Dawson’s third of 50-or-more yards this season — Gruden offered a great self-effacing line.
“Can you believe I cut him, Mike? I cut Phil Dawson. I need to have my head examined!”
Dawson is in his 17th NFL season and has posted a career 84.5 percent mark on field goals. Gruden’s Raiders signed Dawson as an undrafted free agent in 1998, but they cut him. Dawson was eventually signed by the Cleveland Browns and had 14 successful seasons with the team. Obviously Gruden whiffed on that one. It’s nice to hear him criticize himself in such a funny way. His commentary all night was excellent.
Having a reliable kicker is a high priority for NFL teams. In fact, kickers can be the difference between teams winning and losing many games each season. But if your kicker is your team’s star player, you’re in trouble.
The Cleveland Browns found that out on Sunday.
Browns kicker Phil Dawson became a trending topic on Twitter during the team’s 25-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday while going 5-for-5 on field goal attempts. Though it’s great that Dawson, who has made all 12 of his attempts this season, is doing what he can to help the team, Cleveland’s inability to get the ball in the end zone is a major problem.
Cleveland put together 290 yards of offense against the Ravens. They had 174 passing yards and 116 rushing yards in the game, and they slightly out-gained the Ravens. But their drives stalled at the 11 twice, the 14, the 15, and the 23. They entered the game 25th in the NFL in scoring.
It’s a good sign that the offense, led by rookie Brandon Weeden, was able to score on three straight drives, but they need to finish them with touchdowns, not field goals. Baltimore is without linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardardius Webb. They still have some good playmakers on defense, but if Cleveland wants to ascend in the division, they have to take that next step.
Phil Dawson is a good kicker, but he’s not a name Browns fans want to keep seeing in the box score.
Since returning to Cleveland in 1999 after a three-year absence, the Browns have only enjoyed two winning seasons. As if having two winning seasons and ten losing seasons in 12 years isn’t bad enough, nine of the 10 losing years were double-digit defeat seasons. Simply put, other than a miracle 10-6 year in 2007, the Browns have been pathetic.
Perhaps nothing indicates the hopelessness of the sad franchise than their front office move on Tuesday afternoon: the team announced it was applying its franchise tag to kicker Phil Dawson, as LBS contributor Aaron pointed out.
It’s not that paying a kicker decent money is a bad idea. It’s not that having a really good, consistent kicker is a bad thing either. It’s that using your franchise tag on a kicker means that you don’t have enough talent at the other more valuable positions to warrant protecting them from the free agent market. And that’s a problem.
This reminds me of a fantasy baseball team I took over several years ago. It was a keeper league and the team had just finished last, so there was very little to choose from. I ended up franchising K-Rod even if closers only account for one fantasy category just because the other choices were uninspiring. Having good closers help you win fantasy baseball, but if those are your only keeper options you know you’re in trouble.
Nothing could have the poor state of the Browns more than their decision Tuesday. Good luck Pat Shurmur, you sure have your work cut out for you.