After five long weeks, and 64 games, the National Football League pre-season is finally over with. The past few days saw a number of surprising roster moves, as numerous players were either traded, released, or signed by various clubs, as all 32 teams had to submit their 53-man roster, and 10-player practice squads to the league.
From the Denver Broncos cutting Pro-Bowl Safety T.J Ward, and bringing back Quarterback Brock Osweiler, to the San Francisco 49ers releasing last year's leading Wide Receiver Jeremy Kerley, just a few months after sigining him to a 3-year contract extension, every franchise made at least one head-scratching move in an attempt to find out who they think will be their best starters on each side of the ball.
As we move forward to the opening week-end of the 2017 NFL regular season, whether we as fans agree with them or not, from guys like Terrance West, to Blake Bortles, to Virgil Green, to everybody's favorite Quarterback Jay Cutler, all 32 NFL teams, will have their starting line-ups set, and ready to go.
With that being said, we here at TheSportster, present to you The 3 Worst NFL Starters At Every Offensive Position.
15 QB: Jay Cutler -Miami Dolphins
You had to know we were going here. Despite all the talk about how great of a fit he is in Miami Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase's offense, the fact remains that Jay Cutler is still Jay Cutler.
For years, the Vanderbilt product, has frustrared fans (shoot over to Bears fan angrily nodding) a teammates alike, with his rocket-like arm, as well as his horrible body language, and bone-headed decisions, that usually occur with the game on the line.
Since being drafted eleventh overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, Cutler, has only guided a team to the post-season once (in 2010), and has a career mark of 208 touchdowns versus 146 interceptions. All that, despite the fact that has had some very good offensive talent at his disposal, in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Martellus Bennett, and an in his prime Matt Forte. He has also been coached by creative offensive minds, like Mike Martz, Marc Trestman, and the aforementioned Gase.
There is no doubting that Cutler landed in a good spot with the Dolphins. He has been reunited with his Bears Offensive Coordinator in Gase, and will share a huddle with Pro-Bowlers Jarvis Landry, and Jay Ajayi. Despite all that, the question still remains, why should we expect a different Cutler this time around?
14 QB: Mike Glennon - Chicago Bears
You just had to know this marriage was doomed to fail from the start, when the Chicago Bears seemingly outbid themselves for Glennon's services by giving the former backup, a 3-year $45 million dollar deal at the begining of free agency, despite the fact that Quarterback-needy teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, and New York Jets, all elected to pass on the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer pivot.
To matters worse, one month after signing Glennon, the Bears, who after a head-scratching trade with the 49ers, used the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, to select Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Despite severly out-playing Glennon in the pre-season, (Trubisky had 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a 106.2 QB Rating, compared to Glennon's 2 TD, 2 INTs, and 70.5 QBR) the rookie will start the season on the bench.
The Bears, who finished last season (3-13), will be lucky to reach .500 this year. Starting Glennon at the QB, will almost certainly ensure that they won't.
13 QB: Josh McCown -New York Jets
You know things are bad, when a team has to defend itself against tanking acqusations, before training camp even opens up, as the New York Jets had to do this offseason, after releasing former Pro-Bowlers Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold, Darelle Revis, and lost their top receiver Quincy Enunwa, for the year, due to injury.
Despite all the losses in personel, it is one of the team's off-season additions, that has fueled the tanking talk fire, and that is the free agent signing of Quarterback Josh McCown.
While the 38 year-old offers a lot of knowledge and leadership, he also brings a 2-20 record since 2014, a slew of injuries that have caused him to miss 18 games over the last three seasons, and in 13 years in the league both as a starter and back-up, McCown, has only thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in a season twice.
With numbers like that, it is a little hard not to think that the Jets are tanking.
12 RB: Bilal Powell - New York Jets
If you have seen Bilal Powell run with the ball, you will quickly see that he is a hard runner, who always tries to fight for extra yards, no matter what the score of the game is. The Louisville product can also contribute in the passing game, as he tied a personal best with 388 receiving yards.
Last season, while splitting carries with Matt Forte, Powell, rushed for 722 yards, and averaged 5.5 yards per carry, both of which were career-highs. The problem for the Running Back, the Jets, and their fans, is that in 2016, the franchise had some threats at Wide Receiver in Brandon Marshall, and Quincy Enunwa, that prevented opponents from putting 8 or even 9 defenders in the box to stop the run. This year's version of Gang Green, has nobody on the outside, or even at the Tight End position (more on both in a few) that will cause Defensive Coordinators to lose any sleep.
More importantly, going into his seventh season, Powell, appears to be nothing more than a change-of-pace Running Back.
11 RB: Paul Perkins - New York Giants
Last year, while splitting carries with the unimpressive Rashad Jennings, Paul Perkins ran for 456 yards, and zero touchdowns. The Giants allowed Jennings, to walk, or dance away to free agency this off-season, leaving the UCLA product as the team's starting running back.
The Giants signing of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the drafting of tight end Evan Engram, and the presence of the ever-dangerous Odell Beckham Jr., along with a boost in carries (he had 112 last year) should propel Perkins to have more of an impact on the ground game. It isn't a guarantee however, seeing that the fifth round pick struggled in the pre-season, gaining 46 yards on 17 carries. Not exactly awe-inspiring numbers.
10 RB: Ameer Abdullah - Detroit Lions
The third-year pro out of Nebraska, has speed, power, explosion, and quickness. In short, he posses everything you look for in a Running Back.
Unfortunately, for Abdullah, the Lions, and Detroit, the search for the next Barry Sanders continues, as the Running Back has been injury-prone and disappointing, so far in his tenure.
After suiting up for all 16 games as a rookie, Abdullah, put up an underwhelming 597 yards, and two touchdowns, on 143 carries. Last year, he ran for 101 yards, but missed the final 14 contests, due to a foot injury.
This offseason, the franchise elected not to bring in anyone to push Abdullah for his starting job, as they chose to stick with 3rd down specialist Theo Reddick, along with backups Zach Zenner, and Dwayne Washington at the position. Lions fans should once again prepare for the team to live and die by the pass.
9 WR: Kevin White - Chicago Bears
Looking back at Kevin White's Senior season at West Virginia, where he caught 109 passes, for 1447 yards, and 10 touchdowns, and ran a 4.35 40 time at the combine, you can't blame the Chicago Bears for drafting the Wide Receiver in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Just like David Terrell before him (sorry Bears fans but it's true) inconsistency, and a slew of injuries that have seen him play just 4 games in 2 seasons) has allowed the bust label to leak into the conversation about the pass catcher.
After letting Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, leave to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, and losing top WR Cameron Meredith, who came out of nowhere last year, to lead the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, with 888 and 4 respectively, to a torn ACL this pre-season, White, will once again not only be a starter, but be relied on to produce. Good luck Bears fans.
8 WR: Devin Funchess - Carolina Panthers
Doesn't it seem like forever, that we've all been waiting for Devin Funchess, to show us his worth? Since being drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, we have all heard that Funchess is primed for a break-out year. After posting 31 catches for 473 yards, and 5 touchdowns as a rookie, last year, his numbers plummeted, as he recorded 23, 371, and 4 respectively. Needless to say, we are still waiting for the wide receiver to put it all together.
The Panthers, who lost one of quarterback Cam Newton's favorite targets, in Ted Ginn Jr., did little to address the position, other than adding second round draft pick Curtis Samuel. While the former Buckeye can play the position, Samuel, is more of a dual-threat RB/WR who will most likely play in the slot, which means Newton, and Panther fans, will have to endure another season of Funchess in the starting line-up.
7 WR: Robby Anderson - New York Jets
As I mentioned earlier, the J-E-T-S, released Wide Receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker this off-season, and lost presumptuous 2017 starters Quincy Enunwa, as well as Quinton Patton, to injury. After the latter two, next up for Gang Green, is Robby Anderson.
Last season, the undrafted free agent from Temple, was quite a find, as he put up a more than respectable 42 receptions, for 587 yards, and two touchdowns.
With all four of the aforementioned pass catchers out of the picture in 2017, all the pressure will be on Anderson, to at least match last year's production. The tricky part however, will be doing it alongside a supporting that includes veteran WR Jeremy Kerley, who was just cut by the San Francisco 49ers after losing his job to a 5th round pick, and fellow rookies ArDarius Stewart, and Chad Hansen. Yikes.
6 TE: Marcedes Lewis - Jacksonville Jaguars
Credit to Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell, for getting rid of the horrible contract of Tight End Julius Thomas. The end result of that however, is the team going into the season with Marcedes Lewis as their starter.
The 12-year veteran has spent his entire career with the Jags. His best season came in 2010, when he produced 58 receptions for 700 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Other then that production, Lewis hasn't done much else, as he has only topped 500 yards twice, and has never scored more than 4 TDs. Hopefully the presence of stud rookie running back Leonard Fournette, will open up the passing game for Lewis, who had a mere 20 catches last season.
5 TE: Ben Watson - Baltimore Ravens
When putting together the list, I came across Ben Watson, and thought to myself, he's a solid Tight End. I know he missed last season with the Baltimore Ravens, due to a torn Achillies, but I still remember the 2015 campaign, where he put up an impressive 74 catches, for 825 yards, and 6 touchdowns, with the New Orleans Saints, at the age of 35.
If you ignore 2015, and the 2010 season, where he posted 68 receptions, for 763 yards, and 3 scores, the 14-year pro's numbers, show a player, who despite playing the majority of his career with future Hall-Of-Fame Quarterbacks Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, has put up rather ordinary numbers.
This year as a Raven, assuming he's available (that has been a major problem for the team, and their Tight Ends so far this year) Watson will be the starter. Don't be surprised if the Georgia product fails to provide much of a spark.
4 TE: Charles Clay - Buffalo Bills
From 2013 to 2014, Charles Clay put together back-to-back solid seasons with the Miami Dolphins, as he combined for 127 receptions, 1,364 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
In March of 2015, Clay, singed a five-year, $38 million contract with the Buffalo Bills. The Tulsa product, was supposed to be part of a high-scoring Bills offense that featured him, big-play Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins, and dynamic Pro-Bowl Running Back, LeSean McCoy.
In typical Bills fashion, those plans fizzled out. McCoy is as good as ever, but Watkins has been traded, and Clay has been average at best during his tenure in western New York, as he has combined for 105 catches, 1,060 yards, and 7 trips to the end-zone.
Despite his underwhelming production so far, the Bills still plan to start Clay at tight end.
3 OL: Luke Joeckel - Seattle Seahawks
It's a mystery as to why Seattle decided to pay Luke Joeckel $8 million a season, as Joeckel was a huge disappointment at tackle with the Jaguars. Being drafted 2nd overall back in 2013 came with heavy expectations for Joeckel, but he's struggled with injuries and consistency issues since he was drafted. He was brought in with the hopes that he could revive his career in Seattle and try to live up to his college hype. As of now, he hasn't helped Seattle's o-line at all, which in the early portion of this 2017 season, looks just as bad, if not worse than last year's unit. Let's hope for Russell Wilson's sake that his o-line figures it out or if perhaps the Seahawks find a worthy replacement.
2 OL: Ereck Flowers - New York Giants
There's plenty of blame to go around on the New York Giants. They came out extremely flat to open the season against the Dallas Cowboys and their weaknesses seem to have been exposed with OBJ missing the early portion of the season. The Giants can't seem to protect Eli Manning. While Manning hasn't exactly stirred any confidence, it should be pointed out his offensive line has let him down in recent years. Back in 2016, Flowers was rated as Pro Football Focus's worst offensive tackle at multiple points throughout the season, including a Week 13 loss against Pittsburgh when he coughed up eight total pressure on Eli. For the offense to realize their potential, the line will have to give Manning a clean pocket.
1 OL: New York Jets
We're breaking the rules a little bit here an placing all of the Jets' offensive line as a bunch, because there simply is no way of really pinpointing who the worst of the bunch is on a team so devoid of talent. The 2017 starters consist of Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Wesley Johnson, Brian Winters and Ben Ijulana. The Jets' roster was assembled seemingly to be the worst team possible so that the team can land the first overall pick in 2018 to pick their QB of the future. With this bunch, protecting Josh McCown, it seems they'll get there.
It's a little unfair to these players, but this is the way the front office assembled the team, so they'll have to take the fall here, for now.
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