Four weeks of NFL action is already in the books as the 2017 season swims along. There are definitely some surprise teams and players who have climbed ahead in an early race to make the playoffs.
However, just as there are the pleasant things afoot, there are many unpleasant situations plaguing some teams stumbling out of the gates. Even worse is one of last season’s playoff teams has yet to accomplish a single win. Furthermore, last year’s Super Bowl champions have lost both home games thus far. What exactly is happening with Tom Brady and Co.?
Then looking at specific players, some veteran free agent signings are already looking to be complete fails. Meanwhile, a few select team owners, head coaches and general managers need to be put on blast for some really poor decision making.
Without further ado, let’s discuss the NFL’s biggest losers at the quarter mark.
Adam Gase/Jay Cutler marriage failing
Oh boy. An idea that seemed so right in August has gone so wrong so quickly. Cutler dazzled and seemed to be a natural fit at quarterback during the preseason. After all, Cutler had one of his best years working with Gase as a member of the Chicago Bears. Things changed quickly, and not for the better. The team has averaged a meager 8.3 points per game on the season. How long can the Dolphins stand playing at this meager level?
Despite Cutler’s struggles, Gase is standing up for his quarterback. Fans that stick around to watch the Dolphins sink rather than swim are witnessing some sketchy play calling between Gase and Cutler. One of the latest was a failed decoy play utilizing Cutler as a receiver in a Wildcat formation, which Gase now says was purposely planned to play out as it did. Perhaps featuring running back Jay Ajayi more might help, though he’s been awful the past two weeks while dealing with an injury. It is time for some pep talks and drastic improvements if the Dolphins plan to survive the Cutler era.
Adrian Peterson the old man out
At this point in time, inquiring minds are scratching their heads wondering why the New Orleans Saints signed running back Adrian Peterson to a two-year deal. The 32-year-old running back insisted he still had plenty to offer during free agency. So far, Peterson is not meshing with the team’s offensive scheme and is being pretty much made irrelevant by veteran Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara.
When given opportunities, Peterson just isn’t hitting many holes with the same explosion he was known for his entire career. As a result, he is averaging a meager 3.0 yards per carry. He is also clashing with head coach Sean Payton which makes for an all-around awkward environment. Fortunately, the Saints did plan well for their future when they drafted Kamara. He is proving to be far more valuable than AP, who may literally be on his last legs.
Indianapolis Colts pushing their Luck
The Colts would be wise at this point in the season to allow quarterback Andrew Luck the rest of the year to get healthy. Instead, the Colts’ brass, and the quarterback himself, seems intent on getting Luck back on the field as soon as he is able to. The good news is Luck has resumed throwing, which means eventually he should be ready to suit up. But, is it worth the risk?
The Colts’ chances of making it into the postseason are almost nil considering the team is 1-3, comfortably in fourth place in the AFC South. Indianapolis invested heavily in their franchise quarterback, and rushing him back to action could backfire. Why not just allow backup Jacoby Brissett to keep developing his chemistry with the offense while Luck takes the adequate time he needs to completely mend?
Unfortunately, that doesn’t look to be in general manager Chris Ballard’s game plan.
Dean Spanos bungles Chargers’ move to Los Angeles
The Chargers are unraveling on all fronts. They are losing games by narrow margins (hardly shocking), fan attendance is waning and quarterback Philip Rivers is at his wit’s end. Plus one player ranted after last game that the scene at Stub Hub looks more like an away game.
The Chargers’ offense is averaging just 18 points per tilt and the defense ranks within the bottom 10. Overall, nobody has much to smile about since Spanos ripped the Chargers from their San Diego roots. There is a very minuscule chance the team rises up the ranks of the AFC West with its 0-4 record. With the rate things are declining, this could be the season Rivers eventually calls his last.
New York Giants: The chaos is real
A team with so much promise after finishing last season in a Wild Card playoff game is in some incredible disarray after only four games. The winless Giants are tanking before our eyes. Head coach Ben McAdoo continues to employ some poor play calling, which makes us wonder if he will even have his job long term. He is first to admit the team can’t keep “doing the same thing over and over again.”
But, that seems to keep happening. Quarterback Eli Manning and his talented group of pass-catchers are not doing enough to keep up. This is a must considering the Giants’ run-game is nearly non-existent. On defense, the team is allowing 23.8 points on average and 359.3 yards per game. This is basically the same defensive unit that finished 10th last year. So much for wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s hopes to finish his career as a “winner.” The postseason is certainly not in sight at this rate.
Bears blow the Mike Glennon experiment
The Chicago Bears paid quarterback Mike Glennon quite handsomely to start for the team, only to trade up one spot to surprisingly draft rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. This was reportedly a move that head coach John Fox knew nothing about. But, perhaps it will be a move that pays off.
Glennon, who was outplayed by the rookie in the preseason, was utterly atrocious through four games. He committed eight turnovers compared to four touchdowns. He has since been benched even though the Bears committed to him from Day 1. Either way, Glennon gets paid. But now, the pressure will be on Trubisky to prove the Bears did not make another mistake in reaching for the rookie signal caller.
The bottom line is, the Bears need to start doing something positive no matter who is under center.
Beast Mode not so beastly
The Oakland Raiders fought really hard to acquire running Marshawn Lynch, who sat on ice in 2016. Lynch’s presence should be helping boost the Raiders to the next level. But, things have gotten quieter each week for Lynch. Beastmode has gone from whooping it up with dance moves on the sidelines to becoming nearly invisible. In his last two games, Lynch touched the ball a total of just 16 times for 38 yards.
His usage is dwindling, and we cannot help but wondering if the reason is to preserve him. The only other reason would be that he is actually losing is touch. It does not help at all that quarterback Derek Carr could miss multiple weeks with a back injury. This is terrible news for the Raiders, and Lynch could himself be more at risk for injury if he tries to shoulder the load on offense.
New England’s horrible defense
In 2016, the Patriots defense finished the season allowing an average of just 15.6 points per game. Wow, have the times changed. The Patriots are yielding 32 points on average per game, undermining any efforts made by quarterback Tom Brady and the offense. This is unfortunate because the Patriots’ offense is scoring more points than every team in the league but the Los Angeles Rams.
The Patriots have lost two home games, which is not exactly the healthy start to the season anyone expected. It is beginning to look like some of head coach Bill Belichick’s recent moves are backfiring. Trading away linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive end Chandler Jones has clearly left holes. Plus, the Patriots’ secondary has been horrible, as evidenced by yielding 335.3 receiving yards on average per game.
If Brady’s game-saving heroics ever start to fade, the Pats look to be in major trouble.
Is anyone home in Baltimore?
Multiple injuries unfortunately have been hitting the Ravens since the start of preseason last year. What’s happened this season is just a continuation of a horrible streak of bad luck.
It is clear that the team is reeling, and it is also crystal clear that quarterback Joe Flacco is floundering. The 10th-year quarterback looks like he is playing amateur hour. In four games Flacco has thrown just four touchdowns compared to six interceptions. He is averaging just 150.25 passing yards per game.
How is this happening with talented wideouts such as Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace at Flacco’s disposal? Baltimore’s run game, when the team has the chance to employ it, is at least averaging 4.5 yards per carry. But, there have been only two rushing touchdowns accomplished. The defense ranks 10th-worst in the league, which is a far cry to finishing seventh-best in 2016.
It not shocking that Flacco said his team lacks confidence after scoring a measly 16 points in its last two contests.
Cleveland Browns still a factory of sadness
After winning all four preseason games, the Browns are not finding the same success when the big stakes are on the table. The team as a whole is putting up a valiant effort, but the wins are slipping away. The Browns fully committed to rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, but the learning curve is steep. Kizer has completed just 51.4 percent of his passes and has scored five touchdowns compared to nine turnovers.
It does not help that Kizer is without second-year wide receiver Corey Coleman, who injured his hand in Week 2. It also doesn’t help that Kenny Britt might as well not even show up, he’s been so bad.
Plus, first-overall pick, pass rusher Myles Garrett, has yet to suit up. The good news is he is on course to play in Week 5 after taking time to mend his high ankle sprain. He will make an immediate impact on defense while the young Kizer and his offense keep striving to develop chemistry.