The 15 Biggest Chokers So far In the NFL This Season
Who is the biggest choker of the 2012 season?
There is a difference between choking and making adjustments. I personally believe putting a rookie on a list like this is unfair. It is their first year in the NFL and they are just making adjustments. However, once you get that first full season under your belt you are fair game and there are a couple of players that fall under that particular category that you will see on this list.
The first question we will ask is what is a choke? I believe it’s not performing when all the cards seem to be falling in your favor. Whether it’s great coaching, great players around you, or you are just that great of an athlete and there is no reason you shouldn’t be playing better. Some players on this list don’t deserve to be, but injuries are apart of the game and scandals happen. A player needs to recognize this and just needs to play better through them. After all, you are getting paid millions of dollars to play a game.
These players are great athletes. Nobody can take that away from them, but being a great athlete comes with great responsibility. The fans count on you, your teammates, and coaches all need you to perform, so the team plays better. At this point in the season these athletes have not played their best and they need to play better, and if they don’t their position will not be so closed come training camp next season, or maybe even by the end of this season. So here are the top 15 biggest choke artists of the 2012 season, enjoy.
15. New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees
In the past, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees has found a way to outperform the other team even when his defense ranks among the worst in the NFL. This year he has failed to do that. You can’t put all the blame on Brees, but he is the superstar on a 2-5 team and the blame has to go somewhere. The Saints will most likely not make the playoffs this year and a lot of that has to do with “bounty gate”, but a great quarterback can overcome the worst. Nothing like this has ever happened to any team in NFL history, but the Saints needed to find a way to overcome it and they have not.
14. Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant
Dallas Cowboys’ receiver Dez Bryant is under-performing for all the hype he gets, therefore he can be designated as a choke artist. They funny thing is if he comes down with that grab to win the game against the New York Giants he doesn’t make this list, but the great receivers make that catch. He did not. Plain and Simple, black and white. If you want to be considered the best, you have to beat the best. Dez Bryant was not able to come down with a catch against the defending Super Bowl champs, he choked. He may have 41 catches on the season, but a big time player has to make big time plays.
13. Houston Texans' Andre Johnson
Houston Texans' WR Andre Johnson is another one of those guys I expect to have a breakout second half of the season. He can still hit his 1,000 yard mark for the season without that much effort, but his numbers are down this year. He has 34 catches for 444 yards which are pretty good numbers, but they are not Johnson’s best. He can do better and he will. QB Matt Schaub needs to do a better job of getting the ball into his number 1 receivers hands where he can catch it. Johnson still has 53 targets, but only 64 percent of them are finding their way into the big receivers hands.
12. Tennessee Titans' Jake Locker
Tennessee Titans' QB Jake Locker won the QB competition over veteran Mathew Hasselbeck, but his performances did not give the Titans the best chance to win. Since going down with an injury he may have not played his way out of the starting roll. The Titans lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but will Locker ever step back into his role as starter for the Titans this season? If the Titans lose he will, but if they win he will have to watch Hasselbeck from the sidelines the rest of the season.
11. Arizona Cardinals' Darnell Dockett
Arizona Cardinals' DE Darnell Dockett is a leader on his team. He gets them pumped to win the game, but his stats are lacking. He does all the little things right, but his injuries have slowed him way down. His sack count has slowly been declining since 2007, but right now he is at zero. Dockett needs to go head hunting in the second half of the season and a good place to start will be against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. His ability to get to the quarterback will help this team moving forward.
10. New York Jets' Tim Tebow
The backup quarterback has yet to earn a starting job on the New York Jets. Considering QB Mark Sanchez’s terrible output thus far in the season. Tim Tebow must be that bad for the Jets to have not considered putting him in there. If they do decide to start Tebow don’t expect much. At that point the Jets will be playing for a draft pick and Rex Ryan will be on the hot seat. The Jets, as a whole, have a team of under-performers at the moment. They all need to play better and the coaches need to coach better.
9. Arizona Cardinals' D'Anthony Batiste
So far this season, Arizona Cardinals’ LT D’Anthony Batiste has given up 10 sacks. The entire offensive line on this team has underperformed, but Batiste leads the way because of his large sack count. RT Bobby Massie could have easily made the list, but because he is so young I cut him a break. The Cardinals could easily be 5-2 or 6-1 if the offensive line could just play a little better. They have not and are basically in a free fall since going 4-0 to start the season. The loss of LT Levi Brown is huge and the Cardinals have not recovered from it. Apparently, Batiste is not up for the challenge.
8. New York Jets' Shonn Greene
After breaking out last season with 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, Jets RB Shonn Greene was poised for another great year. His stats through the first half season are not great on a Jets team that has a lot of other problems. If Greene cannot outperform his first half numbers the Jets will be looking for someone to replace him by the end of the year via the draft or free agency.
7. San Diego Chargers' Antonio Gates
The San Diego Chargers need to do a better job getting TE Antonio Gates a part of this offense. The future Hall of Fame tight end has done nothing but good things coming into this season. He may have lost a step, but he still needs to do a better job getting open. Gates only has 21 catches and more importantly 2 TDs coming out of the Chargers 7th game. He has nothing less than 700 yards receiving since his second year in the league for a total of just over 8,000 yards. So, this season is definitely disappointing for him and to the Chargers faithful.
6. Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson
Titans' RB Chris Johnson was probably number 1 on this list 4 weeks ago. If you look at his numbers they are really not that bad anymore. Huge games against the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans help inflate those numbers a bit, but let us not forget about the 4 games this season where he had less than 25 yards on the ground. With veteran Hasselbeck at the helm Johnson’s numbers will continue to improve and by the end of the season he will have dropped completely off this list.
5. Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton broke out last season. He was incredible. This year he is not having the greatest season and neither are the Panthers. Sitting at 1-6 the Panthers most likely will not make the playoffs. The Panthers need to change something up. Not all the blame can be placed on the young quarterback’s shoulders, but he has got to realize, as a quarterback, that is where a lot of the blame will be placed. I expect Newton’s play will get better as the season progresses, but it is too late to make a difference now.
4. Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick
The Philadelphia Eagles and Michael Vick are not performing up to their expectations. Vick is a 4 time pro bowler and has choked this season under the Philadelphia fans high expectations. He has 9 TDs on the season, but also 8 interceptions. Vick is the Eagles best chance of winning, so replacing him now would be giving up on the season. It looks like the Eagles will replace Vick, so they are giving up the season, but you never know Andy Reid is a maker of quarterbacks, so the man next in line could step up, but I don't see him playing better than Vick.
3. Buffalo Bills' Mario Williams
The 100 million dollar man has yet to perform up to his large contract. Except against the Cardinals, but we all know that really doesn’t count. Injuries have slowed Mario Williams, but like I said before when you’re making the kind of money he is, a little wrist injury shouldn’t slow you down that much. The Bills are a very hot and cold team, but if Williams plays up to par they could get hot moving into the second half of the season.
2. New York Jets' Mark Sanchez
The Jets are now 3-5 after week 8 in the NFL season. A lot of that can be attributed to the less than great quarterback play of Mark Sanchez. His completion percentage is barely over 50 percent on the season and you can almost hear the Tebow chants from Seattle. Rex Ryan says Sanchez is still his guy, but how can he be when you have someone waiting who has shown he can bring you to the playoffs. Tebow is one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, but you really can’t question his will to win. At this point, in a 3-5 season, fans are going to start to question Sanchez’s will to win.
1. Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo
There is one number that glares at you when you look at Tony Romo’s stats and that is his 13 interceptions through 7 games this year. He has not stepped up to the plate on a team stocked full of talented ball catchers like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten. He needs to play better, but if he doesn’t, there is nobody else on the Cowboys to keep him honest. The Cowboys are 3-4 heading into week 9 of the NFL season. They can still make the playoffs, but with Romo playing like he is they will be watching from the couch come January.