While everyone is giving thanks on Thursday, these five NFL players have none to give to their supporting casts that have let them down in 2016.
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As Dak Prescott can attest, a good supporting cast can help boost you to stardom. Likewise, a poor supporting cast can crush your value, because in today’s numbers-centric NFL, a dip in stats is a dip in attention and prestige.
Although Thanksgiving is all about the spirit of actually thanking people, we sometimes can’t help but slip into a sarcastic mood or simply get frustrated. That happens both to us as fans and surely it happens to NFL players at well. In fact, there are more than likely a number of players that want to do anything but give thanks for some of their teammates that are supposed to be helping them win.
A few of the names on this list are common picks, but I always like to throw in one surprise player. That player usually ends up being someone on defense, since many of them tend to go neglected in our fantasy football-focused world. With that in mind, these five players won’t be thanking anyone on their supporting cast for their help through 11 weeks.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) attempts a pass against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are third in the division at 4-6 and everyone wants to know what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers. Formerly the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the league, Rodgers’s play has slipped to the point where he’s barely in the top ten among quarterbacks this season.
That said, he’s still been a top-10 quarterback. Rodgers hasn’t been the flawless specimen of quarterbacking that we’re used to watching, but he has been quite good. This season, Rodgers is averaging 276.1 passing yards per game and he’s thrown for over 350 yards in each of the Packers’ past two games.
Sadly, those two performances came in losing efforts. Rodgers is operating the Packers offense without a running game and the defense has been just as bad. Without Sam Shields operating as the No. 1 cornerback, the Packers pass defense has fallen apart. Quentin Rollins and the other corners have been dreadful as Green Bay keeps surrendering monstrous passing plays.
Worse yet, the man who is supposedly the Packers best defensive player, Clay Matthews, has been a total non-factor. Matthews looked like the worst player on the field against the Washington Redskins and Robert Kelley benefited greatly from his undisciplined work against the run. Furthermore, Ty Nsekhe (yes, it is appropriate to ask “Who?”) and the Redskins offensive line had no problem neutralizing him in the passing game.
The Packers are 32nd in the NFL in net yards per pass attempt allowed and 27th in points per game allowed. But all anyone can talk about is Rodgers. Of course, the biggest omission from what Rodgers is thankful for is Mike McCarthy. To be fair, though, how can we hate on a “highly successful” head coach?
Nov 20, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Carson Wentz, QB – Philadelphia Eagles
Without Sammy Watkins on the field, Tyrod Taylor has the worst pass-catchers in the NFL around him. However, he also gets to benefit from LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, and a solid rushing attack. Carson Wentz doesn’t quite have that luxury and Ryan Mathews‘s injury only makes things worse. Wendell Smallwood looks like a quality back, but you can’t argue that the Eagles have better backs than the Bills.
Jordan Matthews is a quality receiver and Zach Ertz is cooking. But the Eagles don’t have a true No. 1 receiver and they only have a bunch of No. 3 types behind Matthews. Nelson Agholor drops everything in sight and Dorial Green-Beckham just isn’t good enough right now to be a big part of the Eagles passing attack.
Wentz joined a team that has mortgaged the future on him and the No. 2 overall pick is undoubtedly delivering. A natural leader with exceptional talent, Wentz is surrounded by the best and the brightest as far as coaching quarterbacks goes, but it would be nice for him to get some more help from the players around him on offense.
The Eagles wide receiver corps is as dreadful as it looks on paper and it’s undermined the fact that Wentz has been about as excellent as Prescott in his rookie season.
Nov 13, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) draws the flag for interfering with Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the second quarter of a football game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
DeAndre Hopkins, WR – Houston Texans
Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer are two of the most prominent names on the long list of failed Cleveland Browns quarterbacks. But I wonder if DeAndre Hopkins would give anything to have both of those players back.
Last season, Hopkins became an NFL icon by catching 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns from some of the worst signal-callers in the business. In 2016, “Nuk” has corralled just 50 passes and is averaging a meager 54 receiving yards per game. He’s been outshined by tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz lately and he only hauls in 52.3 percent of everything thrown at him.
Just watching his routes, Hopkins is about as good as he’s always been—one of the best 15 wide receivers in this league. Hopkins has few weaknesses in his game and he has some Michael Crabtree to him at the catch point.
The problem is that Brock Osweiler cannot accurately deliver the ball to him. Osweiler has 12 touchdowns to 10 interceptions this year with an atrocious 5.7 yards per pass attempt. Hopkins has to live with one of the least successful quarterbacks in the league and youngsters Will Fuller and Braxton Miller have, as expected, been more “flashes” than reliable secondary options.
Nov 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) rushes against Miami Dolphins linebacker Spencer Paysinger (42) during the second half of a NFL football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Todd Gurley, RB – Los Angeles Rams
As a rookie, Todd Gurley set the NFL on fire right when he stepped foot on the field and he showed no ill-affects from his torn ACL in college. Gurley rushed for over 1,100 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry on an otherwise awful Rams offense. The Rams had the worst passing game in the league and a poor offensive line, but Gurley still scored 10 times and ran for over 100 yards on five separate occasions.
In 2016, Gurley has regressed badly. Somehow, the blocking has been markedly worse and Gurley has stumbled to just 3.2 yards per carry. The former Georgia star looked as special as he did in college when he was a rookie, vindicating some of the lofty Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson comparisons thrown out there by draftniks.
Gurley is constrained by Jeff Fisher‘s coaching and the lack of talent around him. But it is worth noting that wide receiver Kenny Britt was enjoying a career year under Case Keenum. It is also worth noting that Gurley hasn’t run for more than 85 yards in a single game this season, whereas 85 yards per game was his rushing average in 2015.
Jared Goff showed exceptional pocket awareness in his debut against the Miami Dolphins, but he might not do Gurley any favors. Though Gurley busted out a 24-yard touchdown run on Sunday (just his fourth score of the year), he didn’t quite crack four yards per carry in Week 11. The Rams limited Goff considerably and that will likely be a trend for the remainder of the season—which may not bode well for the defensive matchups Gurley will face.
Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is pressured by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Cameron Jordan, DE – New Orleans Saints
You know, Cameron Jordan would be a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate every season if he played on a better defense. After recording 10 sacks and five passes defended last season, Jordan continues to be one of the only bright spots on the Saints defense in 2016.
The Saints aren’t quite as bad on defense as they were last season, but they remain 30th in the NFL in points per game allowed. New Orleans ranks 27th in first downs and 28th in net yards per pass attempt, and their defense is filled with mediocre players.
Paul Kruger has been a non-factor in his first season with the Saints, so you can chalk him up as another former Baltimore Ravens star-turned-castoff who isn’t getting done for the Saints (Dannell Ellerbe is the other one).
Meanwhile, Jordan is putting in serious work. He has just four sacks this season, but he does so much more, particularly when you consider how little the Saints have outside of him in terms of pass rushing prowess.
Jordan looked fantastic against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football and has been stellar in pretty much every Saints game.
An underrated run defender, Jordan is second in the NFL in defensive stuffs, per Sporting Charts. The former Cal star is also tied for fourth in tackles for loss, and he looks like a good bet to surge his sack totals to double-digits again. If only he had some semblance of assistance to be thankful for.