The NFL season is well past the halfway point, and in that has brought some major surprises, both for better and for worse. The latter half would more accurately be referred to as “busts” or players/teams with high expectations for the season that haven’t quite reached those standards set for them. Plus due to the season not being over, this list could become quite inaccurate come playoff time.
It is quite difficult to objectively define a bust, especially when dealing with as diverse a group of people/opinions as the NFL fanbase as a whole. Therefore, this article is not meant to say that these players are matter-of-factly total busts and that these teams should just release them to save themselves from further embarrassment, but rather should be seen as educated guesses based on speculation from the almost 12 weeks of NFL football that we as a fanbase have gotten to watch so far. Whether these players live up to the bust label, only time can really tell.
For the record, I will not be adding players to this top 5 who have been injured or haven’t been able to play due to circumstances out of their control. This would be unfair both to the players who would want nothing more than to be back out on that field representing their team and to the readers.
Really I could pick 5 season-ending injuries off the top of my head that have destroyed their team’s chemistry and call it an article. This season has seemed to have much more key players injured than seasons prior, but I could honestly just be forgetting how brutal of a sport we watch every year. However, I think a true bust is one that has been given the opportunities to prove themselves and fallen short time and time again. With that being said, let’s get right into the list.
Top 5 Biggest Disappointments Of The 2017 Season (So Far)
5. Marshawn Lynch (RB) – Oakland Raiders
If you’ve paid much attention to the Raiders this season, this one might’ve been a no-brainer. Although Lynch showed a little promise in Oakland’s last 2 games at the Miami Dolphins and versus the Patriots respectively, it has not been the results that Raider fans have hoped for. The fact of the matter is that when I’m referring to a player of Lynch’s caliber having back to back 50+ yard games as ‘promise’, it’s a disappointment to put it lightly.
Lynch was expected to be the “missing piece” so to speak for Oakland, with the Raiders having inconsistency at the running back position and Lynch returning to his hometown. However, how much can you really expect from a player who is used to having incredible seasons; the reality check should’ve been his break from football.
As previously stated, one can mainly attribute his poor play to taking a year off of football, as that’s not just something you can do at the highest level of this sport. I know nobody expected him to be the ‘Beastmode’ he once was, but his season has been less productive than the season which made him retire in the first place. As a player known for his ridiculous runs where he’s bouncing off tackles and running for 50+ yards and a touchdown, his season-long run is only 25 yards in his most recent game against New England.
This is not the Marshawn Lynch we know and love, and I know he can’t be satisfied with his numbers. Lynch and those who watch him are used to seasons like the 4 season stretch in which he ran for 1,200+ yards every single season. With this season well past halfway over, and Lynch just below ⅓ of that total, I think it’s safe to call him a huge disappointment this season.
4. RB’s Not Named Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
Although Joe Mixon hasn’t exactly been incredible either, the other two running backs on the Bengals, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, have not played up to the standards we’ve seen in seasons prior. Being a Baltimore Ravens fan myself, I’ve been genuinely afraid of these two running backs, as I’ve seen them destroy my team on the ground on more than one occasion. If you were to tell me that they wouldn’t even have the starting job for the 2017 season before it started, I would tell you the Bengals OC needs a new job.
I’m well aware that Mixon is quite the talent, but I would be the first to tell you that he probably needs a year to develop and learn from the two guys that used to be above him on the depth chart because they have already proven themselves at the highest level.
This is not so much a disappointment for the team as it is for Cincinnati’s fans. If I was a fan of the Bengals I would be sincerely upset, as the running back tandem that has shown flashes of stardom in the past have each gotten about 30 carries each this season, with each barely breaking 100 yards rushing respectively.
In fact, if you crunch the numbers, Mixon hasn’t even outperformed them enough to justify the depth chart change, if at all! He has less yards per carry than both of them and only has more touchdowns than them because he’s been given those opportunities. In 11 games, three touchdowns are not really that productive. I can almost guarantee that given the chance, either of the other two backs would’ve outperformed the rookie by a decent margin, and it arguably could’ve been a better decision for Mixon’s growth.
3. Trevor Siemian / Quarterback Position As A Whole – Denver Broncos
For any Broncos fans, this one probably would’ve been one that you expect to see on this list. In fact, I could’ve given this spot to the entire Broncos team, as the expectations for them were pretty high before the season started. With an elite defense that has underperformed, and coming off a decent season with a second-year quarterback that played better than expected, Siemian was poised to be the replacement to the Broncos last great quarterback: the one and only Peyton Manning. Although his first season was decent, Siemian has found himself on the Denver bench at this point in their season. How did that happen you might ask? I mean, this was the quarterback who exceeded expectations in the last season to earn the starting job without a shadow of a doubt. Well, the sophomore slump has been an obvious and tangible thing for Siemian.
So far this season (and these are possibly his full-season stats considering it doesn’t look like he’s getting another chance to start this season) he’s had 1,669 yards passing, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions on a 76.8 passer rating. Although these aren’t necessarily horrific stats, in the season prior he drastically outperformed these statistics.
In 2016 Siemian threw for 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions on an 84.6 passer rating. The stat that should really jump out at you is the fact that Siemian played twice as many games last season (14) as he did this one, thus matching his interception total from his first season as a starter in half the games. While I think that benching Siemian was definitely the right choice, I don’t think he’s hopeless. The Broncos really just need to address what changed this season which resulted in their quarterback falling off so heavily.
Brock Osweiler supplanted Siemian as the QB to keep the seat warm until Paxton Lynch was healthy enough to take over. Lynch, a first-round draft pick from a season ago, will start the remainder of the year as the Broncos will try to figure out if he truly can be the quarterback of the future or if they need to go back to the drawing board. The greatest disappointment as a whole is that the QB situation was not truly solved prior to the 2017 season, thus almost wasting another year of top talent.
2. Eddie Lacy (RB) – Seattle Seahawks
Everybody should’ve expected to see this one here. The expectations for Eddie Lacy’s move to Seattle were through the roof, as many thought he would be the true replacement for Marshawn Lynch’s continued greatness. Not only this but Lacy’s production for the Green Bay Packers early in his career were extremely promising.
Lacy has battled injuries throughout his career, and this season hasn’t been any different. Although this has affected his production, in the chances Lacy has had to prove himself, he hasn’t really shined the way many expected him to. The reason I bring up this point, in other seasons which he battled injury he’s still had much better showings. This is partially due to the Seahawks not giving him as many chances as other less known runningbacks (which surprisingly enough, has worked out for them) but Lacy has nobody to blame but himself for his lack of carries.
The proof is in the play for Lacy, this season he has played a total of 7 games and has had a season that would be below par on most people’s standards. He has rushed for only 130 yards on 51 attempts. Though this could be blamed on injury, this is where my earlier point comes into play. In just a season before, Lacy put up 360 yards on 71 attempts, and to add insult to injury he only played in 5 games.
This should be indication enough that he’s a disappointment, as to put up nearly 3 times as many yards on the ground with just 20 more attempts in 2 games less? Simply astounding. The point is, even with the expected injury issues, Seattle, and their fans expected a lot more from him, and the fact that he’s been outplayed by almost every other back at his position, who are far less of household names than Lacy, nobody could’ve been able to see that one coming, and that’s what makes him a true bust.
1. Terrelle Pryor (WR) – Washington Redskins
I honestly don’t know how many people would’ve actually seen this one coming, but to me, it was a no-brainer for #1. Disclaimer: This choice does resonate personally in my life. How so? Well, probably like many other of my fellow fantasy players, I spent an early draft pick for Terrelle Pryor to be my number 1 wide receiver.
Pryor is an athletic masterpiece, being about everything one would look for in a wideout. He’s 6’4, 228 lbs, and just entering the years that should be his prime (28 years old). Coming off a season where he put up 1,007 yards receiving on 62.9 receiving yards a game, I thought that picking him would be a home run. I especially liked Pryor because he was a quarterback before being converted to a wide receiver, and he was relatively good at both positions. Moving him to wideout was easily the correct decision in that manner.
So I thought I was getting a steal with Pryor because he had come off a season with 1,000+ receiving yards on the Cleveland Browns of all teams, who have had quarterback issues for as long as I can remember. Getting him on the Washington Redskins with a borderline elite talent like Kirk Cousins would do wonders for his career right? Wrong.
Pryor so far this season has just 20 receptions going into week 12 with only 1 touchdown, and 26.7 yards per game. How did switching to a better team give him less than half of his receiving yards per game? How are the Redskins not abusing his talent he showed in just a season ago on arguably the worst team in the league? The reason Terrelle Pryor is #1 is that these are questions that I simply do not know the answer to, whereas there were obvious answers for the other busts on this list. His lack of production has left me and others puzzled, and I can’t think of another choice for this position.
Pryor has recently been put on IR with an ankle injury.
Did we forget a bust candidate for the 2017 season? Let us know, we love debating with sports fans!