The holiday season is in full swing
It is hard to believe that the 2018 NFL year is three quarters of the way through. This means the December holiday season is in full swing.
There has been a lot of joy and riches delivered by the league so far this season. But along with the good stuff, there have been some players, coaches and teams that have drawn plenty of negative attention.
Losing records, firings, and poor on-field behaviour have led us to reflect on the biggest Scrooges of the 2018 season.
Jon Gruden: The evil Grinch
Gruden’s Oakland Raiders are the laughingstock of the league. At this point, nobody takes this team seriously. There is 10-year countdown clock already in action, literally keeping track of the years, months, days and minutes to the expiration of Gruden’s contract. Meanwhile, quarterback Derek Carr is miserable and fans are still wondering why the team traded away some of its best players. When addressing the press and coming up with one excuse after another for the team’s constant fails, Gruden just talks in puzzling circles. Surely, the biggest wish on Raiders fans’ holiday lists is that their Grinch of a coach gets jettisoned to the North Pole.
Aaron Rodgers: Got coaches fired
The tension that had been building over the weeks (and years) between the Green Bay Packers quarterback and former head coach Mike McCarthy came to a boiling point. Following an embarrassing three-game losing streak, McCarthy got the ax. Rodgers, being the classy player he is, has taken the high road and has formed his words wisely when discussing McCarthy’s termination. Though, this did not stop associate head coach Winston Moss from dishing on Rodgers on Twitter. His tweets questioning Rodgers’ leadership and accountability quickly got him fired. The bottom line is, anyone who questions Rodgers’ commitment or leadership is walking on thin ice.
Vontaze Burfict: Violent threats
It seems that this Cincinnati Bengals linebacker just can’t contain his poor on-field behavior. The 2018 season is no different. In a typical example, Burfict nearly got suspended for his naughty antics against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The veteran linebacker made a questionably rough hit on Antonio Brown, then threatened JuJu Smith-Schuster that “he was next.” Ultimately, Burfict was fined $112,000 for his antagonistic actions. C’mon man! Did Burfict not think this would get him in trouble, or is it that he simply does not care?
Jacksonville Jaguars: Delivered fans coal
After making it all of the way to the AFC Championship game earlier this past January, the Jaguars were supposed to be awesome in 2018, right? Well, the team completely missed this memo. Instead, the Jags have looked utterly atrocious on both sides of the field this season. Quarterback Blake Bortles found his way to the bench and looks to be on his way out of the franchise in 2019. All the while, Jacksonville’s defense has looked like a joke. A prime example of that was it allowing Titans running back Derrick Henry to rush for 238 yards and four touchdowns on “Thursday Night Football.” This team has disappointed its fans big time, currently sporting a last-place 4-9 record in the AFC South.
Steve Wilks: Ruining David Johnson in fantasy football
Boy. When it comes to fantasy football, thousands of folks would love a do-over for their first-round pick. Johnson easily flew off draft boards by the end of Round 1 with the hope he would rebound to his 2016 stellar self. But, no. Wilks and his offensive coaches have failed to find creative ways to utilize Johnson on the field. Instead, Johnson’s fantasy owners have watched him get stuffed on lousy run plays up the middle that get him nowhere. And, it does not help that the Cardinals are now allowing rookie Chase Edmonds to steal many of Johnson’s goal line touchdown attempts. Boo.
Kirk Cousins: Laughing his way to the bank, fails to deliver
Cousins enjoyed being the highest-paid player in the league for a short while after inking a fully guaranteed, $84 million contract. So, the expectation would be high that he holds up his end of the deal. That has not exactly been the case, however. Cousins currently ranks No. 6 in passing yards, but he has 23 touchdowns on record compared to nine picks. These are not exactly elite numbers for this time of the season. All the while, the Vikings are struggling with a 6-4-1 record. At this point in 2017, the Vikings were 10-2 with Case Keenum under center. There is definitely some food for thought here.
Washington Redskins: Blatantly snub Colin Kaepernick
We are going to call out the elephant in the room, which is the Redskins passing on the opportunity to sign free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Injuries to Alex Smith and Colt McCoy left the newly signed Mark Sanchez as the only able-bodied quarterback on the roster. While fans campaigned for Washington to reach out to Kaepernick, the Redskins snubbed that idea. Instead, they chose to fish out a bottom-feeding Josh Johnson off the waiver wire. Many might wonder, who? Johnson played on four teams in the NFL from 2009-14. He has five career starts on record. If this not a clear case of the Redskins doing Kap dirty, then what is?
Odell Beckham Jr.: The whiny, squeaky wheel
Since Beckham was drafted into the league 12th overall in 2014, he has commanded the spotlight. This has come naturally, but at other times it has been forced. This season has seen Beckham clamoring to get the ball more often. The thing is, Beckham’s whining has worked. OBJ has since been more productive with his touches increased. He even has two pretty spectacular passing touchdowns on record. While Beckham’s complaining might be getting on some folks’ last nerves, the talented wideout probably does not care.
Ben Roethlisberger: Shuns responsibility, plays the blame game
The Pittsburgh Steelers are hanging on by a thread to first place in the AFC North after dumping their last two games. The bumps in the road as of late, and earlier in the season, have been enough to prompt Big Ben to start pointing fingers. As a team captain and quarterback, Roethlisberger has been easy to call out his offense on multiple occasions. This would include him blaming his blatantly bad interceptions on his wide receivers. It is time for Roethlisberger to man up and act like a true franchise leader.
The Super Bowl Champions: One-hit wonder in the easiest division
For the Philadelphia Eagles and their fancy “Philly Special” of last year, the hangover in 2018 is real. The Eagles (6-6) play in one of the easiest divisions in that of the NFC East. This division has produced a total of just 23 wins split between Philly, Dallas (7-6), Washington (6-6) and the Giants (4-8). Let’s face it. The NFC East is still wide open. Can the Eagles channel their inner 2017 season greatness and make a playoff push? Or will they succumb to another bah-humbug regular season ending?