Mistakes are only getting more glaring.
As players and coaches get deeper into the NFL season, we’d love to see their blunders dissipate some. But with the season now beyond the halfway point, the mistakes are only getting more glaring.
The week of NFL action kicked off with a completely embarrassing performance from a team that’s already had its fair share through the season. That continued right on through to Sunday. On Sunday night, we saw Mike McCarthy ask his hobbled future Hall of Famer to run for big first down.
In between, there were plenty of blunders. We saw Hue Jackson get fired after Week 8. Based on what we saw in Week 9, other coaches and players should suffer a similar fate.
These were the most embarrassing blunders from Week 9 of the NFL season.
Raiders humiliate themselves in prime time
We can’t call anything that happened in Week 9 embarrassing without talking about the Oakland Raiders. Oakland was simply pathetic in its loss to the previously 1-7 San Francisco 49ers. Making his first ever NFL appearance, Nick Mullens owned the Raiders (quite literally, in the eyes of at least one Wikipedia user) in a near-perfect performance. But Oakland wasn’t just done in by Mullens having a big day.
The offensive line allowed seven sacks to the 49ers. San Francisco came into the game with only 17 sacks in its first eight games. Raheem Mostert rushed for better than 12 yards a carry before getting hurt. This included a 52-yard run where no Raider seemed terribly interested in even trying to tackle him. It was just a dismal effort from a team headed for an ugly second half of the season.
Sean McDermott’s lazy handling of the QB situation in Buffalo
Nathan Peterman threw three interceptions, including a pick-six (watch here) in Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears. But this isn’t a Peterman problem. We know he’s a bad quarterback. This is about a coach continuing to have no imagination with the most important position in the game.
We get that Josh Allen has been hurt and understand that Derek Anderson was unavailable. But while Matt Barkley or even Terrelle Pryor weren’t great options, both had more of a chance at succeeding than Peterman ever did. The Buffalo Bills lost 41-9 on Sunday despite Chicago failing to gain even 200 yards of total offense. Throwing Peterman out there against one of the league’s best defenses was almost cruel to the quarterback. McDermott got exactly what he deserved on Sunday.
Sam Darnold hit a new low point
Darnold has had some rocky performances in his rookie campaign. But none were as bad as what we saw on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. In a performance that the quarterback himself labeled as “stupid football,” Darnold threw no touchdowns and four interceptions. One of those picks was returned for a score.
Certainly, Todd Bowles and Jeremy Bates did Darnold no favors. Dialing up a game plan that saw twice as many passing attempts as runs was never going to work. But that doesn’t let Darnold off the hook for Sunday’s performance. He’s the No. 3 overall pick and needs to play a lot better going forward.
Lions offensive line abandons Matthew Stafford
The Detroit Lions have spent a lot of money and draft currency rebuilding their offensive line. Based on Sunday’s performance against the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions would have been better off lighting the money on fire. The Vikings hit Matthew Stafford 17 times, 10 of which were sacks. This is the franchise quarterback. He had no chance against the constant Minnesota onslaught.
To give credit where it’s due, the Vikings do have a good pass rush. But Detroit spent that money to build an offensive line that can stand up to defensive fronts like Minnesota’s. The Lions did anything but that in Sunday’s truly embarrassing effort.
Joe Flacco fails to see wide open Lamar Jackson for easy touchdown
With no points on the board in the first quarter of Sunday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens faced a third-and-goal. Flacco threw an incomplete pass to John Brown, which led to a Justin Tucker field goal. The problem? Jackson was wide open on the play. A random fan from the stands literally could have made the throw. Flacco just completely missed him.
It’s pretty clear that Flacco’s best physical days are behind him. While he’s still out there, the Ravens need him to be a quarterback who limits the mental mistakes. On Sunday against the Steelers, he made a whopper. It unquestionably cost his team four points. That could have made a big difference on how the rest of the game played out.
Broncos do themselves in with abysmal clock management
Trailing by three and facing a third-and-nine at the end of the first half to the Houston Texans, the prudent play for the Denver Broncos would have been to run. It could have led to a first down or at least made the field goal shorter. If nothing else, it would have forced the Texans to either burn their final time out or let the clock expire. Instead the Broncos threw an incomplete pass. That set Brandon McManus up for a 62-yard field goal — which he missed. That gave Houston time to kick a field goal of its own, which was aided by Vance Joseph giving Ka’imi Fairbairn a second chance by “icing” the kicker.
The mistakes didn’t stop there. Trailing by two, Denver’s Jeff Heuerman was tackled on Houston’s 37 with 43 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. The Broncos were in field goal range, but had plenty of time to pick up the yards needed to make the kick much more manageable. Instead, Denver ran only one play. Phillip Lindsay ran for five yards to set up McManus for a 51-yard must-make field goal. He missed.
The end-of-half sequences served as a nine, six, or three-point swing in Houston’s favor. Even if it’s only three, the final was 19-17. To figure why Sunday’s game went the way it did, Vance Joseph and the Broncos coaches need to do nothing more than find a mirror.
Marcus Peters has a hard day in the Big Easy
The 2018 season has generally been good for the Los Angeles Rams, but bad for Marcus Peters. Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints was bad for both. Michael Thomas pulling out the flip phone after scoring a touchdown (watch here) got the attention. But what led to that moving tribute to Joe Horn was Peters getting absolutely roasted by Thomas and Drew Brees on a 72-yard touchdown pass to put the game away.
And Peters wasn’t simply done in by one play. Brees was 6-for-7 for 132 yards when targeting Peters. On the season, quarterbacks are 24-for-30 for 462 yards with six touchdowns and only one interception. Peters might still consider himself a top corner in the NFL. But his play on Sunday and all season suggests otherwise.
Russell Wilson throws the game (and likely season) away
Despite glaring kicker issues, the Chargers defeated the Seahawks on Sunday. Much of the responsibility for that falls on Wilson. The Seattle quarterback threw an absolutely horrendous pick six to Desmond King (watch here). It’s the kind of mistake that you might expect from a late-round rookie who happens to find himself in a blowout game. But in a close game, someone like Wilson making that pass is really bad.
Obviously, we don’t know how the rest of the game would have gone had the mistake not been made. But that handed Los Angeles six points. If everything else played out the same way, the Seahawks would have been able to kick a field goal at the end of the game. It very well could have been the difference between a win and a loss. Looking at Seattle’s remaining schedule and the NFC standings, we might be looking back on that pass as what will keep the Seahawks from making the playoffs.
Mike McCarthy butchers end of the first half
Trailing 17-10 to the New England Patriots at the end of the first half, the Green Bay Packers had a chance to at least cut into the deficit with a late score. They were just shy of midfield and faced a third-and-one (a long one). That’s when Mike McCarthy made about the most baffling play call you’ll ever see.
He could have called a run to either Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams, who were both averaging better than six yards a carry at the time. He could have asked Aaron Rodgers to throw for the first down. Instead, McCarthy called a QB draw. And this isn’t the typical mobile Rodgers that we’ve grown used to seeing over the years. He was clearly hobbled. The play didn’t work. The Packers punted and ended up losing 31-17. McCarthy can now only wonder what might have happened if he’d used even a little bit of common sense at the end of the first half.
Dak Prescott’s unforgivable first quarter turnover
Early on Monday, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys would blow the Tennessee Titans out. The Cowboys scored one touchdown directly off of a turnover, and after another turnover, appeared ready to go up 14-0. Then, Dak happened. Kevin Byard’s celebration will get the headlines. But it was set up by an interception. And for the life of us, we can’t figure out what Prescott was thinking.
He got way too cute on a pass that he had no reason to throw in the first place. It was only second down. Even if it was third, a field goal to go up 10-0 would have been big in that spot. The interception gave Tennessee a chance to withstand the initial onslaught. That’s exactly what happened. The Titans tied the game on the ensuing drive and never trailed again afterward.