Some of the names here are transparent enough if you watch football all day on Sunday. It’s much harder to pick out the guys who aren’t doing as well as they should be because in most cases, it’s not solely their own doing.
1) Larry Fitzgerald: It’s tough watching this guy waste away his good years in Arizona. He’s been 1 of my favorite wide receivers since he came into the league. Plus he’s always been just a class act among all professional athletes. In 9 weeks, Fitzy only has 3 TDs off 45 grabs. That’s disappointing for a guy who’s been the perennial #2 wide receiver for the last 3 years.
2) Matthew Stafford/Calvin Johnson: I’m lumping these 2 together, not because they play for the same team. But because Megatron winning the Madden cover is having a ripple effect for the Lions. Stafford won’t get anywhere near his 41 TD career best when Megatron has only scored once. ONE TIME! IN 9 WEEKS! Defenses are smothering him and he’s been reportedly fighting a knee injury. The Lions currently sit at the bottom of the NFC North. The receiving talent (Johnson included) is there to improve rather easily. Expect to get more familiar with Titus Young.
3) Michael Vick: I don’t know if I have a personal gripe with him because he plays for a division rival or if he’s really playing that poorly. Statistics show it’s the latter though. To paint a clearer picture, Christian Ponder (who is in his 1st full season as a starter) is a more accurate passer than Vick. Plus Ponder only really has 2 targets out there; Percy Harvin and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Fiberglass Vick is aggravating to watch because we all know he’s much better than how he’s been playing. If Eli and RG3 are playing through the tough match ups that have come to define the NFC East, I’m confused at why Vick can’t.
4) Cam Newton: Newton had the best rookie year for a quarterback that we’ve seen since Peyton Manning. It’s hard to repeat something that phenomenal. But something seems a little off with Cammy Cam. He’s lacking the mental presence he had last season. His mannerisms lack the leadership and maturity that a quarterback should have on and off the field. So far he’s throw for 4 TDs and rushed for 3. The Panthers sit at the very bottom of the league with a 1-6 record. They can’t seem to stop the run or protect the ball. Nonetheless, if Newton can snap out of this sophomore funk, I think they can win at least 3 of the next 9 games.
5) LeSean McCoy: I can’t even blame him personally. It’s the terrible play-calling that is characteristic of the Eagles. McCoy, who is yearly a 1st round pick in fantasy football, hasn’t been as active as previous seasons. That’s only because his quarterback is throwing. A LOT! Considering there was chatter about benching Vick, I see McCoy getting far more involved in the offense going forward.
6) Alex Smith: *Obama voice* Let me be clear, Alex Smith is the only underrated quarterback of this season. The effects of being under Jim Harbaugh’s tutelage are translating into pluses. However, let’s look at who he’s throwing to – Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, Ted Ginn Jr, and Kyle Williams. That’s not a stellar supporting cast compared to some other teams. In fact, most of their wins come down to drives ending with kicker David Akers. The only reason why I put Smith on the probationary list is because I still see the vast majority doesn’t give him the credit he deserves.
7) The Packers: Last year, this team was perfect. You were a troller if you said otherwise. But this year, they just look okay. Greg Jennings going out with that groin injury obviously hurt them terribly. They also lost their running game since Cedric Benson is out. What’s great for the Packers going forward is that they have a solid hybrid in Randall Cobb. He a mixture of Darren Sproles or Percy Harvin. His activity will be the X-factor in this offense as Aaron Rodgers will have to get James Jones and Donald Driver more targets.
8) Injuries: By the midseason, we start to see some of the marquee players either plateau or drop off completely due to hamstring/knee/ankle problems. 1 of those players is Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Since his week 4 ankle injury, the Patriots have had to rely on The Gronk and its bevy of RBs. You have to wonder what type of shape Hernandez will be in when he returns though. The Patriots are on their bye, which gives him the extra week to continue to workout. I hope to see him get back into the swing of things quickly.
That’s all I have for now. Happy watching!