NFL Pretenders: The Teams and Players who Won’t Stick atop the Leaderboards
Everybody loves articles with a negative slant! Or at least, that assumption is what I’m basing the inspiration for this next article off of. I’m taking a look at 6 NFL players (all offense) and 4 NFL teams who just don’t have what it takes to run with the company they’ve kept these last two weeks for an entire season.
Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals
He enjoyed probably his last moment in the sun during Week 2’s victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, as he enjoyed a nearly flawless day through the air en route to a victory. But this was a Cardinals team that lost at home to the 49ers, and looked awful in the process. Warner will keep the Cardinals afloat for about half a season, but he will eventually succumb to teamwide offensive regression, and this performance will be the shining moment of his 2009 season, and probably his whole career after last year’s super bowl.
Trent Edwards, QB, Bills
Edwards had a start like this last year, remember? What reason do we have to assume the Bills are going to be able to avoid another collapse given the issues on the offensive line and tough defensive schemes in the AFC East? Like last year, the Bills have started the season off with two pretty easy opponents (although, no one thought the Pats would look this bad through two weeks), they are 1-1 including their yearly Monday Night collapse, and while Edwards has shown the ability to win games in September, adversity seems to rattle him. This can last a few more weeks, but the Jets, Dolphins, and Titans should have a field day with Edwards, not to mention the Saints and Falcons.
Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
A really good start to his career, kinda reminds me of Ryan Leaf’s first two games. Yeah, that’s a bad comparison. Sanchez has actually played well in his two wins. I wanted to go to Kyle Orton with this spot, but Orton is in a very QB friendly offense, and though he’s going to get murdered when the Broncos competition gets tougher, I think he will come out of it alright. Sanchez on the other hand, I think the best part of his season was the start of it. When teams start to mix coverages and get pressure on him, I think he will struggle for a majority of his rookie year. However, the Jets, as a team, might just be the real deal.
Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Has Willis McGahee been the best RB in football through two weeks? DVOA thinks so. He has three rushing TDs, a receiving TD, and an obscenely high 64% success rate on his carries. He might just have regained his status as the lead man in the Baltimore rushing attack, but I think he’s the best bet to drop off of any back. We know how fundamental McGahee’s flaws are in producing a consistent running game, we know the Ravens offense probably won’t be as good as it’s been through two weeks (but the defense should get better), and thusly, when the TDs dry up, you’re left with good ol’ Willis McGahee. This will be the high point of his season.
Brandon Stokley, WR, Denver Broncos
This is an easy one, because his biggest play of the season was a complete fluke, but Stokley has always been a smart player as he proved on that play. At the end of the year, I don’t see him as one of the top two WRs on the Broncos in terms of receiving yards, and he’ll probably finish behind Daniel Graham in TD catches as well.
Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints
Right now, Shockey is the beneficiary of the ungodly nature of the Saints’ offense. As the season progresses, Drew Brees will continue to throw the ball to his wideouts, and there will be fewer and fewer touches for Shockey, who may or may not lose complete interest in football as a result.
San Francisco 49ers
This is a very well coached team who has now pulled back to back upsets over NFC west rivals, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a complete mirage. The offense has been quite horrible, although the difference between last year and this year is that they’ve gotten Frank Gore to the second level and the safeties have missed tackles. Before the season, I thought for this team to have any chance of being competitive, the defense would have to be great. And it has been, to an extent. But because the rush defense has been so disproportionately good to the pass defense, I don’t see them sticking around on defense, or in the win column.
I haven’t been impressed by the 2-0 start. Wins at home against the Dolphins and Panthers are nice, both were playoff teams last year, but the overall execution has been meh. Matt Ryan has been typically excellent, but Michael Turner just hasn’t gotten going yet, now Jerious Norwood is hurting, the defense lost it’s No. 1 draft pick in Peria Jerry, the secondary has concerns. I’m seeing 8-8 still for this team.
New York Giants
I picked the Giants to win the NFC East, but it’s them in my opinion, not the Jets, who are the mirage at 2-0. Eli Manning has been good again, and their receivers are for real, but the offensive line hasn’t opened up a lot of holes for the backs to run through, and as the injuries pile up, the pressure will start to get to Eli Manning. Right now, I don’t think they’ve been a very good defensive team, and are as much 2-0 because of poor efforts by the Redskins and the Cowboys as because of anything they did. I think this team will be heavily tested in inter-divisional play.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense
The offense is going to score this year for the Eagles, but the defense is a mirage. Drew Brees proved as much when he torched them for 48 points. In fact, I would argue that any defense that played the Panthers during a Jake Delhomme meltdown would look just as good right now on the Eagles. Going forward, they will be a points against machine.