Famous Names Failing in the 2022 NFL Season
After last week’s article where I highlighted unknown players that are performing above expectations and making a name for themselves, this week I am turning the tables to explore some players you have heard of. But who are underperforming and not playing at the standard they have an NFL reputation for.
Russell Wilson – QB – Denver Broncos
When considering famous, ‘big name’ players underperforming this season it is impossible to start anywhere else other than with Russell Wilson. Wilson, was acquired with much fanfare in a trade from Seattle. A trade that cost Denver two first- and second-round picks as well as TE Noah Fant and QB Drew Lock. Wilson was meant to be the final piece in the puzzle for a Denver team with excellent offensive playmakers. Alongside an already stellar defence that would have put them over the top and into Championship contention.
This expectation, however, has quickly eroded. The brutal reality of Wilson’s poor play has left him under an intense microscope. Especially as he has performed well below the level that saw him elected to nine pro-bowl appearances as a Seahawk. The statistics of the Super Bowl XLVIII champion help to highlight just how far Russ has fallen off this year. He has posted an underwhelming 7:5 Touchdown to Interception Ratio. Whilst ranking in the bottom half of the league in passing yards. And achieving a passer rating of just 81.4, a mark which ranks only 28th.
Russell’s inability to steer the offence is doubly disappointing. Particularly given the exceptional level at which the Denver defence has performed this season. They have the league’s top unit in both points conceded and yards per game allowed. The magnitude of this disappointment now sees 1st year Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett on the hot seat. Now, pressure is mounting for the Denver offence and Wilson to turn things around. Although at this rate Hackett may not be around to help them achieve this.
Matt Ryan – QB – Indianapolis Colts
Like WIlson, Matt Ryan came into the season perceived as the missing piece. For a Colts team looking to compete for a championship. And, as in Denver, the performance of the new Colts’ Quarterback has failed to live up to the lofty pre-season expectations. This season, father time seems to have caught up with the 37 year old former MVP. He has clearly lost a degree of arm strength and has suffered behind a surprisingly weak Colts O-Line.
Ryan has been a turnover machine so far this season. Throwing the second most interceptions in the league with 9. That despite missing two games as he was benched in favour of rookie 6th Round draft pick Sam Ehlinger. As well as losing three fumbles during his seven starts. Having seen first his offensive coordinator and then his head coach fired, whilst also losing his starting job for a time, hopes of a Colts resurgence under Ryan during the closing stages of the season seem unlikely under Interim Head Coach Jeff Saturday. Although at only a game under .500 there is still everything to play for.
Kyle Pitts – TE – Atlanta Falcons
Ryan’s former teammate Kyle Pitts is another player performing at a level below expectation this season. Having made the pro bowl last year after an impressive debut season. During which he became only the second tight end in NFL history to record at least 1000 receiving yards in their rookie season. Pitts finds himself in the middle of a ‘sophmore slump’. Failing to reproduce a similar level of production in his second season. Although he has not collected the accolades of others on this list, Pitts’ rookie achievements meant that many were expecting to witness the step up in performance that often comes at the tight end position as players progress into their second years.
It is typically a more challenging progression from the college level into the professional game than at other positions. Contrary to these expectations, the former 4th overall pick has instead been largely absent from an inconsistent Falcons’ offence this year. He has recorded only 25 receptions for 313 receiving yards this season. With this yardage total, Pitts ranks only 14th amongst tight ends and 79th in the league as a whole for receiving yards. Which marks a sharp drop from his production last season. Where through nine games he had recorded 40 receptions for 606 yards.
Chandler Jones – DE – Las Vegas Raiders
In contrast to Pitts, Chandler Jones has developed a long history of success in the NFL. Being one of the league’s most impressive performers for over a decade. During his 12 year career Jones has risen to become a premier edge defender. Building up a remarkable resume that includes; four pro-bowl appearances, two First Team All-Pro selections as well as a place on the NFL HOF’s all-decade team for the 2010’s. With over 100 career sacks, this offseason the Raiders sought to pair Jones’ proven pass-rushing ability with the emerging talent of DE Maxx Crosby. Hoping to form one of the league’s most intimidating defensive duos. They invested heavily by signing him to a 3 year, $51 million contract.
As you might expect from his position on this list, however, Jones’ performance so far this year has not been up to scratch. It appears the 32 year old has finally begun to slow down. Truthfully, Jones’ impact this year has been largely nonexistent. Raiders’ GM Dave Ziegler must be suffering from some serious buyer’s remorse for the paltry return on his investment. wWith Jones contributing only 19 tackles and just half a sack for his new team so far.
Allen Robinson II – WR – LA Rams
Like the others on this list, Allen Robinson II came into the season as an established veteran who had joined a new squad. Hoping to make a late career push for a Super Bowl victory. Unlike the others mentioned above, however, Robinson was in a unique position to achieve this by joining the reigning champions LA Rams. Many hoped that he would flourish in an offence called by Sean McVay and helemed by QB Matthew Stafford. Robinson, who has been largely under-appreciated throughout his career as his talent has been hampered by poor quarterback play. From the likes of Blake Bortles in Jacksonville and Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago. Yet Robinson did achieve a pro-bowl appearance in 2015, and many were expecting a return to this form.
Unfortunately, however, this has not been the case. As the Rams have fallen victim to the dreaded ‘Super Bowl slump’. Sliding to a disappointing 3-6 record at the bottom of the NFC West. Robinson’s performance has been particularly disappointing. Particularly as the hope had been that he would be able to step into the WR2 role left open by the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. Acting as complimentary weapon opposite last season’s Triple Crown receiver Cooper Kupp. But instead Robinson has struggled to assert himself as the offense’s second option so far this season.
His dismal 32.4 receiving yards per game rank third in the team behind TE Tyler Higbee. And he has not been able to separate from the others in the receiving core. With 2nd year receiver, and former 7th Round pick Ben Skowronek recording only 5 yard less per game. Despite his shortcomings so far this season, however, with Kupp now headed to IR for surgery to correct a high ankle sprain, Robinson has the opportunity to make up for some of Kupp’s production. He could become more of a focal point for the Rams, and could prove to the team that he was worth the near $50mil contract he signed in the offseason.
Banner Image: Russell Wilson appears to be a famous face in the wrong place for the Denver Broncos. Image from milehighreport.com
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