5 NFL Players Who Have Failed to Step Up

By Vincent Frank
Courtesy of USA Today: Joe Flacco needs a rebound performance to give Baltimore a shot at the playoffs.

Every single season around the National Football League, there are multiple players who lay absolute eggs at the least opportune time. And this season is no different.

From Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco putting up the worst performance of his season to Mark Sanchez failing as the Philadelphia Eagles fill-in starter for Nick Foles, here are five NFL players who failed to step up.

1. Brian Hoyer, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns

We fully understand that Johnny Manziel has started the last two games, both losses. But that really isn’t the point here. If Hoyer was holding up his end of the bargain, Mike Pettine wouldn’t have benched him for the rookie signal caller.

In Hoyer’s five starts prior to being benched in Week 15, he put up a combined 58.4 quarterback rating with one touchdown and seven interceptions. It’s not a coincidence that Cleveland went 2-3 in those five games and pretty much fell out of playoff contention before Manziel even stepped on the field.

Considering the talent on the Browns team, all Hoyer was tasked with doing was managing the game. Unfortunately for long-suffering fans in Cleveland, he couldn’t even do that.

2. Joe Flacco, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

Flacco has actually played pretty well this season. When he’s been on, it’s been fun to watch. That being said, his Week 16 performance against the Houston Texans was nothing short of atrocious. Flacco started the game by completing 4-of-22 passes for 35 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. And while he picked it up late in the game, Baltimore still fell to Houston 25-13.

Good quarterbacks pick it up when their teams need it the most. This simply wasn’t the case with Flacco. Now heading into Week 17, Baltimore needs some help to even make it to the postseason. Not only does it need to beat Cleveland, the San Diego Chargers have to fall to the Kansas City Chiefs. While this could still very well happen, Flacco made sure that it wasn’t going to be easy.

3. Mark Ingram, Running Back, New Orleans Saints

It appeared earlier in the season that Ingram was going to have a little bit of a resurgence in his contract year. During a three-game span in the middle of the season, Ingram put up three straight 100-plus yard games and averaged nearly five yards per rush. But after tallying 122 yards on 23 carries against Pittsburgh in Week 13, Ingram has fallen off big time.

Over the course of the past three games, Ingram has put up 140 yards on 40 attempts. That’s an average of just 3.5 yards per rush. More than that, he has failed to create any type of balance on offense. In fact, Drew Brees has attempted an average of 44 pass attempts per game during that three-game span. Now completely out of the playoff picture, Ingram and the Saints are left wondering what could have been.

4. Jamaal Charles, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs

Call it a lack of opportunities (thanks Andy Reid) or whatever else it might be, Charles simply hasn’t put up anywhere near the performance that he’s more than capable of putting up. After tallying 159 yards and two scores in a stellar outing against the Seattle Seahawks back in Week 11, it’s been all downhill for the All-Pro running back.

Over the course of Kansas City’s last five games (four losses), Charles is averaging just 57.4 rushing yards per game. Equally as disturbing for fans in Kansas City, he has tallied just 60 rush attempts in those five games. The wear and tear of the season might have caught up to Charles, who still only has one 100-yard game to his name this year.

In any event, he hasn’t been the difference maker that the Chiefs most definitely needed over the past month. And heading into Week 17, Charles and Co. need a whole heck of a lot of help to earn a playoff spot.

5. Mark Sanchez, Quarterback Philadelphia Eagles

What started out as a feel-good story for Sanchez and the Eagles has turned into a complete disaster. Now eliminated from playoff contention, Sanchez can look back and place the blame on himself.

The enigmatic signal caller dazzled onlookers in his first start for the injured Nick Foles back in Week 10 against the Houston Texans. Sanchez completed 20-of-37 passes for 337 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a huge Eagles win.

Since then, Philadelphia has lost four of its last six games, including three in a row. During that span, Sanchez has thrown as many touchdowns (eight) as interceptions.

We understand that it’s a team effort. And to be honest, Philadelphia’s defense has been atrocious during the last half of the season. But as you already know, most of the blame is going to go to the quarterback.

In this case, it’s richly deserved.

Photo: USA Today