The 2018 NFL season is far enough along to assess which teams and players have a good gig going while other situations continue to spiral out of control.
In covering the latter, poor player and overall ugly team performances have a small handful of franchises struggling big time. All the while, talented players strapped to struggling clubs continue to brew with frustration because of the sad state of their teams.
This, combined with some atrocious head coaching and unfortunate injuries, headline the biggest disappointments thus far in the season.
The mayhem surrounding New York is real
In calling out New York, it is not Sam Darnold and Co. that need criticizing. Instead, it is the chaotic Giants. This team is falling apart at the seams and floundering to score even 20 points on average per game. And while Eli Manning is completing 68.7 percent of his passes for an average of 277 yards per contest, he is on pace to throw only 16 touchdowns. His weakening arm and those famous turnovers of his are causing some teammates to lose faith in the two-time champ.
Topping that off, wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is boiling with frustration, while claiming he needs to get the ball more. Though his attitude and behavior are wearing thin on his head coach.
Defensively, the Giants simply cannot keep allowing 27 points on average per week. At 1-5 record with no end in sight has these Giants as major disappointments thus far on the season.
Jon Gruden’s three-ring circus is out of control
At 1-5 on the season, these Raiders are about as dysfunctional as their east coast counterpart in Jersey. This is an organization that continues to baffle its fan base on a daily basis. From Gruden delivering solid gold head-scratching quotes at his pressers to an overall lack of team cohesiveness, the Raiders are easily the laughing stock of the league.
They are giving up 11 more points on average per game than they score. Not one player should feel safe with recent threats of trade hovering around the locker room. All of this follows the Raiders trading away Khalil Mack, only to now hear Gruden say his team lacks an elite pass rusher. As the countdown to Gruden’s departure ticks away, the veteran head coach promises his Raiders are not trying to tank. Sure.
Injured top running backs
Unfortunately, the 2018 season has been cruel as far as injuries to several lead running backs. This list includes Marshawn Lynch, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, Jay Ajayi and Jerrick McKinnon.
Lynch reportedly could be placed on IR after sustaining a groin injury, which would leave his workload to Doug Martin and Jalen Richard.
Fournette is dealing with a hamstring injury and has only logged play time in Weeks 1 and 4. The Jaguars trading for Carlos Hyde is a sign that Fournette’s injury is more serious than previously thought.
As for Cook, he has now been ruled out for Week 7. Luckily for Minnesota, Latavius Murray has done a fine job picking up the slack.
Lastly, Freeman, Ajayi and McKinnon have all since been placed on IR. Freeman could not get past a groin injury and both Ajayi and McKinnon suffered torn ACLs. It goes without saying that folks who drafted any of these running backs in fantasy football drew the short end of the stick.
Luck is back, but the Colts are still losing
After missing the entire 2017 campaign with a lingering shoulder injury, Andrew Luck finally returned. And since his return, he is averaging a league-high 48 passing attempts per game. As such, Luck has recorded 1,792 passing yards along with 16 touchdowns, helping the Colts average a respectable 25.3 points per game. On top of this, the Colts rock during third-downs, and are converting a league-best 49.4 percent of their attempts.
Sadly enough, these efforts do not add up to a hill of beans. The other side of the field is yielding a ridiculous 30 points on average per contest. Indianapolis has accomplished one win and that came back in Week 2. This is unfortunate to say the least.
Don’t be fooled by the Broncos
Let’s not forget that heading into Thursday night’s 35-point blowout win over the Cardinals, the Broncos were coming off four consecutive losses. This was a losing stretch that saw the Broncos average just 18.3 points per game, while giving up 27.8 points on average. At the same time, Denver allowed two 200-plus yard rushing games, while quarterback Case Keenum went scoreless in two of these matchups.
While the Broncos’ 45 points looked good on paper Thursday evening, the high score was much to the credit of Denver’s defense playing against one of the worst offenses in the league. Thus, not much was required from Keenum, who has only eight touchdowns versus a league-high nine picks on record.
Lastly, the Broncos three wins on the season have come against Seahawks, Raiders and that very beatable Cardinals squad. We still need to see Keenum step up and for the Broncos to show they can win against more formidable opponents.
Jimmy Garoppolo hype train dead on arrival
Super fans of Garoppolo will have to wait several months to see him back in action. The 49ers losing him to a torn ACL in Week 3 was a huge bummer. Not only were 49ers fans devastated, but Garoppolo’s injury cast a dark cloud that went far beyond the Bay Area.
There was so much hype prior to the 2018 season after Garoppolo inked one of the richest quarterback contracts in the league. Though during Garoppolo’s brief time on the field, his performances lofted back to realty. Currently, the 49ers are struggling and sport a 1-5 record. It is anyone’s guess as to whether the team would be in better standing if Garoppolo had not become injured. Nonetheless, the vibe won’t feel the same until Jimmy G returns.
What happened to Sacksonville?
The roar the Jaguars had going on defense last year as it pertained to sacks — 55 on the season — was ferocious. Now, not so much. The Jaguars have managed to crank out only 14 sacks in six games. This is 12 less than the league-leading Baltimore Ravens of 2018.
Pass rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue tie for the lead in Jacksonville with four sacks each. While this is impressive, nobody else on the Jaguars defense has recorded more than one sack.
Outside of this, Jacksonville’s defense has scraped up only five total takeaways. This ties for the second-fewest in the league. It is nearing Halloween, yet nobody is scared of Jacksonville.
Marcus Mariota’s regression
It is kind of a miracle that the Titans are staying afloat at 3-3 in the AFC South. Because, Mariota is playing some terrible football. Throughout the five games he has played, he looked the real deal only once. That came in Week 4 when Mariota passed for 344 yards and threw for two touchdowns in a win against Philadelphia.
Outside of that, Mariota has failed to throw any touchdowns and currently has four interceptions on record. His regression is awkward to watch and it is certainly not sustainable for the Titans to win long term.
Overall, Tennessee’s offense is averaging 14.5 points per game and the team ranks fifth-worst in converting third downs. Thankfully, the Titans’ defense has helped come to the rescue.
The Cardinals are a red hot dumpster fire
The Cardinals have been absolute stinky garbage this year. This past Thursday’s loss at home to the Broncos by the score of 45-10 was a prime example of exactly how bad this team is. Rookie Josh Rosen got run through the ringer, enduring six sacks while turning the ball over five times. He is now wearing a walking boot after being thrown in harm’s way during useless late-game garbage time play.
Thankfully, the Cardinals finally had the sense to fire offensive coordinator Mike McCoy who should never work for the NFL ever again. But, rookie head coach Steve Wilks remains on the hot seat while the Cardinals attempt to put the broken pieces back together. Arizona is averaging just 13.7 points per game which is not going to cut it moving forward.
Among the many tasks at hand looking ahead is for new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich to get David Johnson involved in the passing game. Cardinals fans can only hope change is on the horizon.
Houston failing to protect its franchise quarterback
If the Texans want to succeed in keeping Deshaun Watson healthy for years to come, they need to better shield him. Watson has suffered an unforgivable 25 sacks over six games. This is absolutely absurd. It is no wonder that after six weeks into the season, Pro Football Focus ranked Houston’s offensive line at No. 32. This is not shocking news, but sadly dangerous for Watson. Per PFF, right tackle Julie’n Davenport has allowed a league-high 17 combined sacks and hits, making him the obvious main culprit that’s exposing Watson.
Watching the young quarterback get pummeled and thrashed around each week has been brutal. The Texans must find a rabbit in their hat and fix this situation to avoid further injury to Watson.