Blitzalytics All-32 Series: Who has made your team look like a fool?
Sam Bradford (QB)
Mr. Bradford has not even taken a snap under center for the Cardinals yet but has already made the team look like fools! Bradford signed a deal with the Cardinals this offseason that is reportedly worth up to $20 million this season with $15 million guaranteed, and a team option of $20 million next season. While this isn’t crazy money for most starting QBs, it is for Sam Bradford. He can still sling it with the best of them when he’s healthy, as he had 346 yards on 27 completions of 32 attempts and three touchdowns in week 1, but he injured his knee in that same game and played in just one more match the rest of the year.
Don’t get me wrong– the Cardinals were most certainly a quarterback-needy team after Carson Palmer retired, especially because they had none on their roster until Bradford joined. But the way they went about it was piss poor, mainly due to the way they handled Tyrann Mathieu’s contract. The team opted to let a young, arguably elite, defensive playmaker walk away to the Texans for money reasons, but then signed one of the league’s most injured quarterbacks to a deal that pays him $20 million in 2017.
I’m not sure what Steve Wilks and company were thinking, but it seems like they passed up the chance to have a long-term defensive playmaker in the backfield for a short-term quarterback option who could potentially (but not likely) work out. The Cardinals are apparently at some sort of crossroads and need both a long-term and short-term option at quarterback. Sadly, Bradford is neither.
Super Bowl LI Coaching Staff
The Atlanta Falcons are perennially the NFL’s least scary team. Sure, there are seasons that they win their division or seem to be championship contenders, but nobody ever seems to take them seriously. They made the playoffs three straight years starting in 2010, but gave up 48 points to the Packers to lose in 2010, got destroyed 24–2 by the Giants in 2011, and were held scoreless in the 2nd half in a loss against the 49ers in 2012. However, nothing tops the team’s implosion of historic proportions in Super Bowl LI.
You all know the story. After leading 28–3 with a little over 2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Falcons managed to surrender 31 unanswered points to the New England Patriots to lose their first super bowl appearance since 1998. The entire team can and should be blamed for this loss, but I think the astonishingly bad clock management and play calling ultimately turned the tide in favor of the Pats. With a 3rd down and 1 with 8:31 left in the game, Falcons coordinator Kyle Shanahan decides to pass the ball, resulting in a fumble that the Patriots recovered. But even after a Patriots score, with 4:40 left in the game the Falcons lead 28–20, and are in field goal range. After losing a yard on 1st down, the Falcons again inexplicably pass the ball, resulting in a sack and pushing them out of field goal range. The drive ended with them unable to score what should have been a relatively easy field goal, and also left the Patriots with far too much time on the clock. This was the real defining moment of the game, and the Falcons coaching staff should be ashamed of their historically bad clock management in the biggest moment of the franchise’s history, cementing Atlanta’s status as a laughingstock of the NFL.
Breshad Perriman (WR)
For the past five seasons, the Baltimore Ravens have struggled more than most people realize. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2012 they have only been to the playoffs once (2014). One big reason for their struggles is the wide receiver position. The Ravens have tried to make splash free agent signings at the position for the past five seasons, signing players like Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Devin Hester, Jacoby Jones, and Steve Smith. Not exactly the most exciting group of names. This offseason, the Ravens have already signed Michael Crabtree and John Brown to try to fill in as playmakers at wide receiver. The whole position could be considered as the Ravens’ biggest fool over the past five years, and the silliest receiver acquisition of them all was Breshad Perriman.
Perriman declared for the NFL draft after his junior season at Central Florida. After two very mediocre years he flashed big play ability during his junior season when he caught 50 passes for 1,044 yards and 9 touchdowns. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.52 at 6’2”.
Many draft analysts believed he had some major potential, but they also noted that his route running skills were very questionable. Despite being a very raw prospect, the Ravens selected Perriman with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 draft, and he has been a trainwreck ever since. For starters, he was out all of 2015 due to injury. He went on to play in all sixteen games in 2016, but only started one. Last season, he battled injuries and only started three games. In his three season career Perriman has accumulated only 43 catches for 576 yards and 3 touchdowns. His play has been so lackluster that the Ravens spent big money this offseason on Michael Crabtree and John Brown while Perriman still remains on the roster. Before Crabtree, the Ravens even threw big money at Ryan Grant before he ultimately “failed” his physical with the team. All of these signings point to one thing: the Ravens no longer believe in Breshad Perriman, a player that they drafted in the first round only three short seasons ago.
Nathan Peterman (QB)
Before this season, the Buffalo Bills had gone 17 years without a playoff berth. That is a really, really long time for Bills fans to have to endure losing and disappointment. Through the first seven weeks of this season the Bills were off to a 5–2 record, and it looked like they were poised to finally make a playoff run behind a dynamic run-first offense and a solid defense. The team then went on to lose in weeks 9 and 10 to the Jets and Saints, respectively. The Saints absolutely dismantled the Bills 47–10, setting up the team’s most important game in recent memory in week 11 with the Los Angeles Chargers. They desperately needed the win to remain in the playoff picture. How did the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff decide to handle this monumental opportunity? They decided to hand over the quarterback duties to rookie fifth round pick Nathan Peterman.
Nathan Peterman was selected by the Bills with the 171st pick of the 2017 draft. Coming out of college he was viewed as a potentially solid backup quarterback in the NFL. After a relatively pedestrian preseason, Peterman sat on the bench for the Bills until the week 10 blowout versus the Saints. During garbage time, Peterman went 7 of 10 passing with 79 yards and a touchdown. The Bills decided to give Peterman his first NFL start in the most important game of the season versus the Chargers, a decision that shocked many at the time. Peterman started the game by throwing two nice completions for first downs. On his third throw of the game, he threw a pass that was deflected and picked off for a touchdown. He went on to throw four more interceptions over his next eleven passes before he was ultimately lifted from the game at halftime for Tyrod Taylor. In one of the most important games of the Buffalo Bills’ recent history, Sean McDermott decided to go with an unproven 5th round rookie that had never started a game in the NFL. Not only was this Peterman’s first start, but the game was also played away AT Los Angeles.
Luckily, the Bills made the playoffs after handing the ball back to Tyrod Taylor for the final six weeks of the season, even though they needed some help to get in the playoffs in week 17. Peterman’s performance in week 11 almost cost the Bills their first playoff berth since 1999. Shame on Sean McDermott for asking Peterman to start that important game when he was clearly not ready to play. Shame on Nathan Peterman for having one of the worst games all-time at the quarterback position. I am not sure who made the Bills look like a bigger fool.
Vernon Butler (DT)
While it might be too early to call Vernon Butler a bust, he has certainly made the Panthers look like fools for spending their 2016 1st round draft pick on him. 1st rounders are supposed to be players that come in and make an immediate impact on the roster, and Butler has done completely the opposite. In his first two seasons he has played 24 games, 522 snaps, 25% of the defensive snaps, and has 26 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks. PFF gave him a 75.2 grade for his 2017 season, which puts him as an average player. Since he has been drafted they have signed Kawann Short to a long-term deal and acquired Dontari Poe in free agency this year. Both of those indicate that the front-office doesn’t believe Butler will turn things around and be a long-term starter in their plans. With Short and Poe set to start at both defensive tackles spots, it is clear that Carolina spent a high draft pick on a guy who is just going to be a rotational player that fell short of expectations in 2016.
Mike Glennon (QB)
In the 2017 offseason, the Chicago Bears offered Mike Glennon a three-year, $45 million contract after two seasons as a backup in Tampa Bay where he threw 11 total passes. Glennon was cut from the Bears on Feb 28th, saving the franchise $11.5 million in the process. But his release still does not protect them from looking like fools in the first place.
Glennon was signed last year to be the Bears’ starting QB after the team was burned for years by Jay Cutler’s uneven play. But instead of starting Glennon, the front office traded multiple picks to draft his replacement before he even took a snap in practice. After some poor play at the beginning of the season Glennon was usurped by Mitchell Trubisky, who took the reigns as the starter much quicker than anticipated. Trubisky is now firmly entrenched as the Bears’ QB of the future.
The signing itself does not make any sense if the team knew they wanted to trade up and draft a QB. The organization primarily wasted Glennon’s time and their own money, about $4.5 million a start, for Glennon’s services for four games. Luckily for the Bears they structured the deal in a way that they could get out of it, but they also missed their chance on rolling over the salary from Glennon’s 2017 salary. Not the most foolish act on this list, but most certainly a head-scratcher.
John Ross (WR)
The Cincinnati Bengals had a rough 2016 season. They had just gone 6–9–1 and entered the offseason looking for answers. Their offense struggled mightily during the season, ranking 24th in the league in total team offense. AJ Green was injured for six games and there was no real receiving threat on the field while he was out. Their running game failed to produce a 1,000 yard back despite having both Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, their offensive line was not great, and their defense was just slightly better than league average. During the following offseason, the Bengals did not resign starting offensive linemen Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth, instead signing Andre Smith from the Vikings as his replacement. The Bengals had the 9th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, and they needed to make the most of their selection.
When it was time for the Bengals to make their selection they were linked to several intriguing defensive options including Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, Haason Reddick, and Jonathan Allen. Instead, the Bengals decided to take John Ross, the small playmaking wide receiver from the University of Washington. Ross had recently set the NFL Combine on fire after running a sizzling 4.22 40 yard dash and leaping 11 feet in the broad jump. At Washington, Ross was a deep threat who caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns during his final season. His big weaknesses was against physical corners, and when the Bengals made the selection many analysts felt like it was a reach considering there were other more physical wide receivers that better fit the NFC North profile. Ross is a deep threat receiver that relied on his speed, and Andy Dalton is not the type of quarterback that can make those throws consistently. To make matters worse, news came out shortly after he was drafted that Ross had recently had shoulder surgery. Ross went on to play only three games for the Bengals during his rookie season with just two targets and no catches, and fumbled on his only touch of the season. The Bengals looked foolish after John Ross’s rookie season, and there are more questions surrounding the receiver than answers at this point. Is John Ross already a bust? Not yet, because it is way too early to tell. But the fact of the matter is that Ross needs to have a good sophomore season, or else the Bengals may need to find another answer at wide receiver in a hurry.
Justin Gilbert (CB)
There are many players, coaches, and front office members that have made the Cleveland Browns look foolish over the past five seasons. Most of their draft picks have turned out to be busts while many of their free agent acquisitions have underperformed. The team has had three head coaches since the 2013 season and overhauled the front office three times during that same stretch. It is no wonder that the Browns have been the laughingstock of the league for quite some time. The hardest part about writing this section is trying to decide WHICH player, coach, or front office member to write about.
The Cleveland Browns held the 4th and 26th overall picks in the 2014 NFL draft with many holes to fill. GM Ray Farmer was looking to make a splash, and many analysts believe that Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans would make the Browns better immediately.
Khalil Mack was also thought to be a possibility. Instead, the Browns decided to trade back to pick #9 with the Buffalo Bills, receiving the Bills 2015 1st round pick, and a 2015 4th round pick in what looked like a nice deal at the time. The team then decided to trade up one spot to pick cornerback Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State, trading their 5th round pick to move up. At the time, Gilbert was thought to be the best defensive back in the draft. He was an athletic marvel, as he he ran a 4.37 40 yard dash at the Combine at 6’0” and 202 pounds. But his biggest problem was that some NFL franchises believed that he didn’t really like football, and those teams were right as Gilbert played only two years in Cleveland. He only started three games and, according to Pro Football Reference, Gilbert had only one interception and nine passes defended total. He was ultimately traded the rival Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2016 offseason, where he lasted only one season. The Browns passed on potential franchise players like Odell Beckham, Aaron Donald, Zack Martin, and Taylor Lewan in order to select Gilbert during the 2014 draft, certainly making the Browns look foolish. Later in the 2014 first round, the Browns moved up to pick #22 to select quarterback Johnny Manziel. That’s a story for another day…
Randy Gregory (DE)
Arguably the top edge rusher in the 2015 draft class, Randy Gregory experienced a massive slide down draft boards (if not taken off many) when he failed his drug test at the NFL Combine. That horribly timed mistake was not the first red flag, as NFL teams were increasingly aware and concerned about Gregory’s substance issues. However, Jerry Jones couldn’t resist the temptation when Gregory fell all the way down to the Cowboys in the bottom of the 2nd round, and he selected Gregory 60th overall. Jones has certainly taken risks on players before, some of which gave great return and others which made Dallas look irrational for taking a gamble in the first place.
Up to this point of Gregory’s career, it’s more than fair to call it a foolish move to pick him, primarily due to his lack of availability (cue the old cliché– the best ability is availability). He has played in only 14 games through the first 3 seasons of his career, mostly due to a 10-game suspension in 2016 and a yearlong suspension last year (both substance-abuse related suspensions). Stephen Jones, VP and Director of Player Personnel, has said the Cowboys are planning as though Gregory will not available to them this upcoming season, although reports say that Gregory is currently taking steps to apply for reinstatement to open the door to his availability. He will have a lot to prove if/when he steps on the field with the star on his helmet. Until then, however, this former second-round pick has made Dallas look foolish for being the team willing to take the risk on him.
Paxton Lynch (QB)
When Denver traded up to the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, they believed it was to select the future of the franchise as the heir to Peyton Manning. However, a combination of injuries and missed opportunity have caused legitimate doubt on this decision. Paxton Lynch not only failed to earn the starting job from Trevor Siemian his first 2 years in the league, but now as Lynch enters his third year the Broncos have gone out and signed Case Keenum to a 2-year deal to assume the starting role. Coming off a career year in Minnesota last year, Keenum is viewed as a considerable upgrade in Denver’s QB room, even if only as a short-term solution.
Although John Elway has said publicly that they still have high hopes for Lynch to develop into the player they envisioned when they drafted him, the Keenum’s signing says otherwise — actions still speak louder than words. Barring a major developmental leap in Lynch as well as relatively sharp regression by Keenum, it’s difficult to picture Lynch seeing the field in 2018 and probably 2019 too. Denver will have to decide after next season whether they want to pick up Lynch’s 5th-year option on his rookie deal, which will only be an increasingly difficult choice the less he plays between now and then. The decision to trade up for Lynch has so far been Elway’s largest blemish on an otherwise outstanding resume in Denver.
Eric Ebron (TE)
When taking a player in the 1st round you expect immediate impact on your roster. When you use a top-10 pick on them, not only do you expect that impact, but you assume this player will be productive on your team for a very long time. Well, that is what Detroit thought when they decided to use the 10th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft on Eric Ebron. He was supposed to come in and be a weapon that Matthew Stafford could depend upon for years. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as planned as he struggled with inconsistent play and injuries throughout his career with the Lions. In his four seasons with the team he registered 186 receptions, 2,070 yards, and 12 total touchdowns. Not jaw dropping numbers for a high draft pick skill position player. Even though they picked up his 5th-year option last summer, Detroit decided it was time to part ways with Ebron and let him walk to free agency a year early. Aside from his play that made his top-10 selection look foolish, take a look at the players available that the Lions definitely regret passing on: Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald, Kyle Fuller, Ryan Shazier, and Zack Martin. I’m sure many within the organization wish they could have a mulligan on the 1st round of the 2014 Draft.
Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy (RB)
The Packers have been in Super Bowl contention year after year on the back of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has single handedly taken this team to a whole new level and if he had any sort of running game, this team would be winning Super Bowls. Eddie Lacy was taken 61st overall in the 2013 draft and was supposed to be the running back they’ve always needed. Lacy’s career started off strong but dramatically tailed off. His first two seasons were strong, with over 1,100 yards each season. After that he recorded 758 and 360 his final two seasons in Green Bay, respectively. Lacy was supposed to be the answer to all of the Packers running needs and was unable to provide the consistency the Packers needed. After Lacy’s rookie deal the Packers were not phased by him moving on in free agency, as they had Ty Montgomery coming off of a breakout season at running back with 700 yards waiting in the stable. Lacy is now an afterthought in Green Bay.
Brian Cushing (LB)
“The best ability is availability.” This statement has always been tried and true to the NFL.
Brian Cushing was the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of USC by the Houston Texans. He was a phenomenal player in his rookie season, tying Ray Lewis for the AFC lead in tackles at 133, also contributing 4 sacks, 10 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles and 4 picks. He was one of three rookies to be selected to the Pro Bowl that season, and was awarded NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. But heading into the 2010 season, news broke that Cushing would be suspended for the first four games of the season after testing positive for a performance enhancing drugs. Questions about Cushing’s PED’s use began in the draft process while he was still in college, although he denied using it in college and denied using it again entering the 2010 NFL season.
Cushing had another very productive year in 2011 despite not being selected for the Pro Bowl. In 2012 Cushing suffered a torn ACL and had his season cut short, missing the final 12 games. Entering the 2013 season the Texans inked Cushing to a six year deal, worth $59 million with $31 million guaranteed, making him the highest paid linebacker in the NFL. Just a few weeks into the season, Cushing broke his fibula and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. For the following few seasons he played at a good level for a linebacker, but then tore his MCL in the first game in 2016. The final straw for Cushing came in 2017 when the NFL suspended him for the first 10 games of the season for PED’s, prompting Houston to cut him. While Cushing was a productive player for the Texans when he was on the field, his inability to stay healthy and, more importantly, his repetitive PED use caused the Texans to look like fools.
Nick Van Fossen
Ryan Grigson (GM)
The Indianapolis Colts have been one of the most up and down franchises in the past few seasons thanks to former GM Ryan Grigson, one of the worst GMs in the history of the Colts. In his first draft he did pick up Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, but in every draft going forward he made questionable calls and left Colts fans puzzled. Arguably one of his worst decisions was taking WR Phillip Dorsett over the likes of Damarious Randall, Malcom Brown, Landon Collins, Devin Funchess, and Benardrick McKinney. Beyond his poor draft decisions, Grigson also decided to bring in a haul of old veterans such as Trent Cole, Andre Johnson, and Frank Gore to try and bolster the roster. This attempt backfired as these players all became overpaid veterans for mediocre production, forcing the team to become strapped for cash year after year. The awful nature of the roster he put around Andrew Luck was on full display this past season without their QB, struggling mightily and leaving new GM Chris Ballard with one of the worst teams in the league.
Justin Blackmon (WR)
Honestly, one of the hardest situations to watch in the NFL was Justin Blackmon and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blackmon was taken with the 5th pick in the 2012 draft, only saw the field for 18 games in two years, and hasn’t played since. He was a problem throughout his career and was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in November, 2013 and has not been reinstated since. The Jaguars had a franchise changing receiver on their hands and he never got the chance to fully show what he could do. He showed flashes of what could be when he saw the field early in his career, but has made the Jaguars look like fools for taking a chance on him with the 5th pick in the draft. The passed on players like Luke Kuechly, Stephon Gilmore, Dontari Poe, and Fletcher Cox. This was one of the most foolish moves in recent NFL history.
Kansas City Chiefs
Jeremy Maclin (WR)
After a career season in 2014 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeremy Maclin was poised to become one of the highest paid receivers during the 2015 offseason. He left in free agency to sign a 5 year, $55 million contract to go play for his former coach Andy Reid. At the time, it seemed like a really great fit for both Maclin and the Kansas City Chiefs, as the Chiefs were desperate to find weapons for their franchise QB Alex Smith after having a season in which he did not throw a single touchdown to any of his wide receivers.
In 2014, Jeremy Maclin made his first Pro Bowl after coming off an 85 catch, 1318 yards, and 10 touchdown season with the Eagles. He had similar production the following season in Kansas City with 87 catches, 1088 yards, and 8 touchdowns, and the Chiefs were one of the hottest teams in the league heading into the 2015 playoffs. But then the injury bug hit: Maclin sustained a knee injury in the wild card round vs. the Houston Texans that hampered him throughout the playoffs. In 2016 Maclin appeared in 12 games, but groin injuries severely hurt his production. He finished the season with just 44 catches, 536 yards, and two touchdowns, all of which were the lowest numbers of his career (he didn’t play in 2013 due to a torn Achilles). After the season the Chiefs abruptly released Maclin. At the time people asked why they would let their best receiver go, but Alex Smith would go on to have one the best seasons in his career and Tyreek Hill, who took on the most of the load after Maclin’s release, would also have a career year and a Pro Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, Maclin would have another down year after signing with the Baltimore Ravens. He looked like a shell of his former self in his only season in Baltimore, hauling in a career-low 40 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games, prompting his release after just one season. Maclin could never reach his full potential in Kansas City because of recurring injuries; in the end, his production in Kansas City made his 5 year, $55 million contract seem foolish.
Los Angeles Chargers
The LA Chargers were one of the big surprises of the 2017 season, posting a 9–7 record after losing 4 straight games to start the season. They have a well-built team with a mixture of age and youth, led by a dynamic offensive trio of QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, and WR Keenan Allen. However, as the saying goes, football is ⅓ offense, ⅓ defense, and ⅓ special teams. The Chargers as a team had a dismal 67% field goal percentage in 2017, by far the lowest mark in the league. They went through four kickers during the season and lost their first two games on missed field goals. Had those kicks gone through, they would have had a high enough record to make it into the playoffs. Hysterically, the Charges signed Roberto Aguayo this offseason, the infamous former Buccaneer who was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft only to hit 71% of his field goals. The Chargers did also sign Caleb Sturgis who is a very good kicker and will likely be their starter for 2018. Hopefully he’ll end the comically bad kicking the Bolts suffered through in 2017.
Los Angeles Rams
Jeff Fisher (HC)
Being tied for the most regular season losses by a coach is embarrassing enough for Jeff Fisher, but his exit from Los Angeles was about as embarrassing as it gets. Fisher took over for the St. Louis Rams in 2012 and went 7–8–1. Fisher then went on a 4-season losing streak, with a 7–9, 6–10, and 7–9 record from 2013–2015, respectively. In their first year in Los Angeles, the Rams front office announced that they were bringing Fisher back on two-year extension through 2018. One short week later the Rams were throttled by the Falcons 42–14 and Fisher was fired before the next game. Fisher’s time with the Rams causes them to look like fools for multiple reasons. They never had a winning record as a team, and there were constant rumors about Fisher’s status with the team and whether he would be fired or not. To top it all off, the season Fisher left the Rams, the NFC Championship was spotlighted by Case Keenum and Nick Foles, two quarterbacks who had been on the Rams roster. This just perfectly highlights Fisher’s inability to develop players and effectively coach a team.
Nick Van Fossen
Dion Jordan (DE)
The Miami Dolphins held the #12 pick of the 2013 NFL They were coming off a 7–9 season and many NFL analysts believed that the team was heading in the right direction. They had selected quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the previous year’s Draft, and while Tannehill struggled a bit during his rookie season he did not have many weapons with which to play. The Dolphins also had some major offensive line issues, as they surrendered a sack 6.8% of the time they dropped back to pass (according to Pro Football Reference). Throughout the 2013 offseason many people predicted that the Dolphins would move up to try to grab some offensive help for Ryan Tannehill during his sophomore season. It was no surprise then that the Dolphins made a deal to obtain the 3rd overall pick from the Raiders in exchange for #12 and #42 overall.
The surprise came when the Dolphins used the pick on project pass rusher Dion Jordan. Jordan came into the 2013 draft process as a mid to late 1st round pick due to his athleticism and potential. He averaged almost five sacks per season over his final three years at Oregon and was viewed as an athlete, but undersized. Conventional wisdom pushed most teams to label Jordan as a 3–4 rush linebacker because of his slight stature (relative to many defensive ends in the league). The Dolphins traded up and drafted Jordan to be a 4–3 defensive end, setting him up for failure immediately. During his only two seasons with the Dolphins Jordan started exactly one game, Jordan accumulated just 39 tackles and 3 sacks. Jordan also failed two different drug tests in 2014, resulting in suspensions for 6 games. He failed yet another drug test during the next offseason which caused him to be suspended for the entire 2015 season and ultimately get cut by the Dolphins in 2017. Not only do the Dolphins look foolish for drafting him in the first place, but but they ook even worse for trading up to #3 overall to do so.
Laquon Treadwell (WR)
Over the past few seasons the Minnesota Vikings organization has done a very outstanding job with team building. They have hit on draft picks such as Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes, Danielle Hunter, and Dalvin Cook, and have done a great job bringing in free agents such as Latavius Murray, Case Keenum, and Riley Reiff. But there is one player that Rick Spielman and his staff unfortunately have not yet hit on, and that is Laquon Treadwell. In 2016, Treadwell was considered one of the best wide receivers in the NFL Draft. He was coming off a very productive 2015 season at Ole Miss (82 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns) after suffering a broken fibula injury in 2014. Some NFL scouts were worried about Treadwell’s speed and ability to run a full NFL route tree, but that did not stop the Vikings from drafting him with the 23rd pick in 2016. The Vikings were looking to get a #1 receiver to pair with their up-and-coming receiver Stefon Diggs (Diggs became one of the biggest steals in the 2015 draft). Unfortunately, Treadwell only played in 9 games during his rookie campaign and recorded 1 catch for 15 yards the entire year. In 2017 there was optimism that Treadwell would improve and hopefully become a breakout star. While he did improve his stats from the previous year, he recorded just 20 catches for 200 yards and no touchdowns and didn’t impact the Vikings in any way that would justify them using a first round pick on him. Fortunately, undrafted special teamer from Minnesota State, Adam Thielen, would turn into what they hoped Treadwell would be. With the free agent loss of Jarius Wright, maybe Laquon Treadwell will step up, shake the premature bust label, and turn into the WR that many hoped he would become.
New England Patriots
The Benching of Malcolm Butler (CB)
Many feel that the New England Patriots’ biggest mistake last season (and some even say the biggest mistake in Super Bowl history) was Bill Belichick’s decision to bench Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler. There have been many theories over this questionable decision, most of which include marijuana, a rough week of practice, and team curfew violations. Since we are talking about the Patriots and because Bill Belichick is as tight lipped as they come we may never know the real answer, but we do know Butler’s importance to the Patriots. Butler has played every game for the Patriots since exploding onto the scene in Super Bowl 49 by making a game-saving, goal-line interception. He was on the field for nearly 98% of the snaps last season and has a career 8 interceptions and 177 tackles. The Eagles did beat the Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl, yes, but Malcolm Butler’s benching helped them significantly. Current and former Patriots believe that if Butler had played the Patriots surely would have won. In the end that is all pure speculation, and Malcolm Butler’s benching will remain one of the bigger goofs in Super Bowl history.
New Orleans Saints
Greg Williams (DC)
Bountygate: arguably the biggest black eye the NFL has had in its history. In an effort to make his team’s defense more aggressive, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams created a fund that rewarded players for injuring players on the other team. In what they called “cart-offs”, which were appropriately named for when a player from the other team had to be carted off the field, the Saints players would receive $1,000, and for plays that they knocked someone out they would receive $1,500. This money came from Williams himself and the players who were involved. Following an NFL investigation, Williams was suspended indefinitely, head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season, general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first 8 games, assistant head coach Joe Vitt was suspended for the first 6 games, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season. On top of that the Saints were fined $500,000 and had to give up their second round picks in 2012 and 2013. I don’t even need to go into why this makes the Saints look like fools. As a Saints fan this is embarrassing to have to write, and as an advocate for a safe NFL it makes my stomach churn. Bountygate will never be forgotten by the NFL and its fans.
Nick Van Fossen
New York Giants
Ereck Flowers (LT)
Giants fans know all too well the ineptitude that Ereck Flowers has brought to the team. He was drafted #9 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft and was supposed to be the team’s offensive line anchor for the future. A quick look at some names that the Giants passed on to take Flowers: Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Marcus Peters, Danny Shelton. Pro Football Focus actually ranked Flowers as the worst player picked in the 2015 draft towards the end of that season, and exactly a year later was ranked that week’s 3rd worst player in the entire league. Flowers’ flaws are extensive– he almost completely lacks lateral footwork and speed, gets pushed back on his heels in pass protection despite his massive size, and garners no leverage against defensive ends.
To be fair, Ereck Flowers is a high character player who hasn’t directly started any controversy with the organization. He makes the Giants look like fools entirely on the team’s own doing. They have stuck with Flowers at left tackle for three years despite him immediately showing that he is unsuited for the position. Former GM Jerry Reese and former head coach Ben McAdoo refused to even try Flowers at a different position or entertain the idea of a different left tackle. And to top it off, the Giants could have drafted an absolute game changer in one of the players listed above. Fortunately, new GM Dave Gettleman and new head coach Pat Shurmur have relegated Flowers to right tackle with strong competition breathing down his neck. Hopefully they can turn the fool of the past regime into at least an average starter this season.
New York Jets
Christian Hackenberg (QB)
It’s hard to ignore the glaring mistakes that the Jets have made at the most important position in sports. Since the failed Geno Smith experiment, the team has drafted two other quarterbacks; Bryce Petty (4th round pick in 2015) has not been good, but Christian Hackenberg (51st overall in 2016) takes the cake as the Jets’ most foolish move lately. Largely considered a reach at the time of the draft, Hackenberg has still not taken a single regular season snap two years later, even after starting QB Josh McCown’s season ended early with a hand injury this past year.
Now McCown is back, Teddy Bridgewater has signed as a free agent, and the Jets will almost certainly take a QB after trading up with Indianapolis for the #3 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Oh, and we cannot forget, Petty is still on the team, someone who Hackenberg failed to beat out last year for the backup job. It appears Hackenberg’s chances of even being on the roster when the 2018 season gets underway are slim, considering he’s likely looking at 4 other quarterbacks above him on the depth chart (McCown, Bridgewater, Petty, 1st-round rookie). After just two seasons, it may be time for the Jets to cut their losses on the former 2nd-round pick.
Connor Cook (QB)
The Raiders traded back up into the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft to get Connor Cook, despite a common belief that he was not worth that price that the Raiders paid. Cook completed less than 58 percent of his passes in college and actually saw a dip in that number in his last college season. He was supposed to be Oakland’s starter, then David Carr’s backup, and when he did not perform there, he was demoted to third sting behind Matt McGloin. In his biggest games as a Raider he was always found on the sideline with a clipboard. When both Carr and McGloin went down in 2016 and Cook was named the starter for the team’s 2017 playoff game, he completed only 18–45 passes and threw 3 picks. Oakland’s decision to trade up for Cook is baffling to this day.
Chip Kelly (HC)
When Philadelphia brought in Chip Kelly back in 2013 they thought they hit a home run by hiring one of the smartest offensive minds in college football. During his first season it looked like they did, as he led his high-flying offense to NFC East title and a playoff berth. Kelly and Philly looked like a match made in heaven, but things took a turn shortly after their playoff loss to the Saints. The Eagles released DeSean Jackson because he didn’t fit the culture that Kelly was trying to establish under his reign. That move was met with backlash from fans because he was a fan favorite, and Jackson went on to have successful seasons with the rival Redskins. Kelly then turned around and drafted Marcus Smith with his 1st round pick, a player who never showed he was worthy of being selected that high.
Even though there were some questionable moves, Jeffrey Lurie gave Kelly additional responsibilities as head of football operations which ultimately is when the Eagles looked like fools. Kelly started off by trading LeSean McCoy for a former player of his at Oregon, Kiko Alonso. Since then, McCoy has been tearing it up in Buffalo, while Kiko has left Philadelphia for Miami. Chip then decided it was a good idea to trade Nick Foles and a 2nd-round pick for Sam Bradford, a QB who was coming off two ACL injuries. This was very questionable because of Bradford’s injury past and his lack of scheme fit. Signing DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews to replace McCoy was curious as well because they did not fit the scheme either. Over the course of the offseason Kelly continued to tinker with the roster in many ways that became problematic for the team’s future.
Besides failing as a personnel evaluator, it was well documented that most players didn’t view him as their leader. Some came out and said he couldn’t relate to his players, and they were happy when he was let go as head coach. Lurie realized early enough he was looking like a fool for giving Kelly that much power, so he fired him with two-years left on his contract. This was a smart move for the organization because once Kelly’s roster was gutted, it took no time to build a Super Bowl winning team.
Jarvis Jones (OLB)
As a Steelers fan, I can honestly say I’ve been very pleased throughout my life with the amount of great players we’ve had. I’ve had the privilege of watching guys like Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward– the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, with as many great players as each team’s fan base may see, there are also going to be some major disappointments. The biggest bust of recent memory for the Steelers is easily Jarvis Jones, this year’s “April Fool” for the Black and Gold.
Going into his final season at Georgia there was an abundance of hype surrounding Jones. On many draft boards he was projected as the top pick in the 2013 draft after having a standout season as a redshirt junior for the Bulldogs. However, injuries led to Jones slipping in the draft. When Jones fell to the Steelers at #17 many people, including myself, believed that he was a huge steal. Man, were we wrong! In his four seasons with the Steelers, Jones only accounted for 129 total tackles, 6 sacks, and two interceptions in 50 games played. That’s terrible for a guy who was highly touted and put into a starting role as a rookie!
After the Steelers drafted Bud Dupree in 2015, Jones saw his spot on the depth chart drop tremendously. He eventually left the Steelers for Arizona in free agency in 2017, but was unfortunately unable to play in a single game in 2017 due to injury. To me and I’m sure many other fans, Jones is a strong case of a “what could have been” player. He had all of the intangibles and the hype, but unfortunately, that was just never enough.
San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick (QB)
This one is less about a player making a team look like fools for his ability than it is for causing a media storm for an organization who was unprepared to handle it. In 2016, during the 49ers third preseason game, Kaepernick was noticed to be sitting on the bench during the national anthem. Following the game in a locker room interview Kaepernick stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” For the fourth preseason game Kaepernick chose to kneel this time, saying that he wanted to show more respect to former U.S. military members. Kaepernick quickly became the most polarizing player in the media. His jersey became the highest selling jersey on NFL Shop. The firestorm continued into this season when President Trump began tweeting about about players kneeling. Whenever an NFL player is being discussed on both sports and news networks something big is bound to happen. All in all, what Kaepernick did did not cause the 49ers to look like fools– it was the media response and people surrounding it.
-Nick Van Fossen
Pete Carroll (HC)
The Seattle Seahawks should have had back-to-back Super Bowls, but it was one bad call that made them all look like fools on the biggest stage of them all. They were just 36-inches away from making that happen, and they had a running back named Marshawn Lynch who is known for running people over to get where he wants. Instead, they opted to throw the ball, which resulted in Malcom Butler becoming (in)famous for his game-sealing interception. Everyone that was watching the game was in shock because they could have just pounded the ball in, and had plenty of time to do so. Who should we blame? Well, first you could look at Darrell Bevel, the guy that called the play. You could also question Russell Wilson, who didn’t change the play call at the line of scrimmage even while knowing that they shouldn’t have passed the ball in that situation. But in the end, it was Pete Carroll that made everyone look like fools that Sunday. He is in command of everything that the team does, and should have stepped in and told Bevel that they aren’t going to pass and lean on what brought them there. While he is still a great head coach, that play was talked about for that whole offseason and is still brought up to this day. I am sure it will haunt Carroll for the rest of his career.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Darrelle Revis (CB)
A first round pick, a fourth round pick, and a six-year, $96 million contract is what it cost the Buccaneers to acquire Darrelle Revis. Five years ago when the Bucs traded for Revis, they were coming off a losing season and Revis was coming off a torn ACL– a recipe for disaster. The trade was foolish when they made it and resulted in an all-time bust. Greg Schiano could not assimilate Revis into the defense, playing him in a zone when his strength was man. He also created a stressful atmosphere for the entire team which could also have led to his poor play. Not only that, but Revis never looked like his old self coming back from his injury, adding insult to injury.
The Bucs, under a new regime, decided to cut Revis after the 2013 season, making arguably the most dominant cornerback in the last 20 years a one-year rental. When all was said and done, the trade cost them a mid-first-round pick and $16 million. Not only that, but it led to a 4–12 season and the boot for GM Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano. Now ain’t that foolish?
Mike Mularkey (HC)
The best trick pulled on the Titans in recent memory was crafted by former head coach Mike Mularkey, who convinced the world and the team to use the term “exotic smash mouth” when describing Tennessee’s offense. This offensive style aimed to blend aspects of an old school offensive physicality with the new school innovative and creative play calling– a perfect marriage, as it seems. Mularkey delivered on the “smash mouth” part by building their team from the inside-out, drafting a talented offensive line and trading for DeMarco Murray to use in his run-heavy approach. But the “exotic” half has been missing for quite some time, which was never more evident than in the Titan’s loss to the New England Patriots in the 2018 NFL playoffs Divisional Round. The team was blown out 34–14, Mariota was sacked eight times, and they punted six times and had a turnover on downs. Yikes. Instead of crafting an offense that showcased Mariota’s skills as a dual-threat passer and runner, Mularkey chose to stick to his old-school style while Mariota suffered. This resulted in Mariota’s worst season as a pro, throwing for 13 touchdowns and 15 picks with a 79.3 passer rating, a far cry from what the former Heisman Trophy winner should be achieving in the National Football League. With Mularkey gone and Vrabel in, the Titans will hopefully move away from this sham of an offensive scheme and let Mariota shine. But if they choose to stick to this foolish offense, we may never see Mariota’s full potential.
The Redskins’ front office continues to make their organization look like fools year in and year out. They make head scratching moves that makes everyone wonder if they know what they are doing. They fired their previous General Manager Scott McCloughlin last year for understandable reasons, but they did it so late that they drafted off of his board and have yet to find someone who can take over his role. After paying Kirk Cousins over $40 million the past two years on the franchise tag they still couldn’t find a way to get a deal done with him. Instead, they opted to trade for Alex Smith, who is older then Cousins, and then decided to give him a 4-year extension that is worth up to $91 million and has $71 million guaranteed. Additionally, they gave up Kendall Fuller who is a young and promising cornerback. It seems like we can’t go an offseason without questioning what they are doing up in D.C. because Bruce Allen and Doug Williams continue to make moves that give no playoff hopes to their fans. One of the biggest problems is that owner Dan Snyder is hands on with everything in the organization; eventually he needs to cut ties with the football side of the business and bring in someone that can evaluate talent and build a roster that the fans will look forward to seeing every week. Until then, the front office of Washington will continue to make themselves look like fools to the rest of the NFL.