Columbus Day is Monday. So in honor of the man who stumbled upon the United States while looking for a shorter route to the other side of the world, let's talk about some big-name players who are headed in the wrong direction.
Darren McFadden: The Raiders are awful on offense, and it shows in their feature back's numbers so far. He had his only 100-yard game and only TD in a shootout win against the Steelers. But in three losses, he's averaged 2.2 yards per carry. And after 13 catches in the opener — in which he gained just 32 yards rushing — he has only five since. McFadden's talented, but it's going to be difficult for him to overcome his surroundings. So even if he does finally stay healthy, it might not make much of a difference.
Antonio Gates: In Week 2, Philip Rivers threw three TDs to the Chargers' starting tight end. Gates didn't play in Week 2. In the three games he has played, he's been a nonfactor. He hasn't caught more than four passes or gained more than 59 yards in any of them. As Dante Rosario's aforementioned performance in Week 2 shows, Rivers likes throwing to the tight end. And it's not as if Gates has any serious competition. Quick, name San Diego's starting wide receivers! It's obvious that Gates is not healthy and has lost a couple of steps.
Tony Romo: If this past week wasn't bad enough in dealing with my annual Welcome to Fall Cold, my malady had me condemned to the couch Monday night to watch my fantasy score decrease every time the Cowboys (briefly) had the ball. Like most who drafted him, I assumed Romo was due to get back on track after two straight subpar weeks (1 TD, 2 INTs). Instead, he had arguably the worst game of his career (he threw 5 INTs against Buffalo three years ago, but Dallas won). I want to be positive and hope he'll get it together after this week's bye, but I'm not sure that will happen. The Cowboys can't run, which puts all the pressure on the passing game, and Romo is getting no help from his wide receivers. Miles Austin was mostly held in check despite a TD late in the first half of Monday's loss to Chicago, and Dez Bryant was just awful — dropping what would have been a first down in the red zone when the game still was close, dropping another pass that would have been a huge gain, if not a TD, and being called for an illegal shift penalty that resulted in a replay of the down, on which Romo promptly threw a pick.
Hakeem Nicks: He played Week 1 but could hardly be called active, then after a week of will-he, won't-he status updates — during which plenty of owners benched the Giants receiver to avoid an empty roster spot or at least the poor performance of the opener — he played in Week 2 and had a huge game. But then, on a short week, he sat out the Thursday night game. Perfectly understandable. If you can give a top player 10 days to rest up, why not? Oh, but wait, not only is his surgically repaired foot still bothering him, but now his knee hurts. So he sat out Week 4, too. And it looks like Week 5, as well. This is the second straight year Nicks has been more trouble than he's worth. He's been more of a drag than the anchor system on The Santa Maria.
Matthew Stafford: This guy threw 41 TDs last year? Really?
Steven Jackson: A big, tough back in a Jeff Fisher offense seemed like a great match. But Jackson can't seem to get out of his own way. He's been dealing with a groin injury since Week 2, and while he's played the past two weeks he'd gained only 84 total yards on 29 carries heading into Thursday night's game against a tough Cardinals defense. Like McFadden, he's stuck in an offense that makes it difficult for him to get into a rhythm. Between looking the part and drawing sympathy for being stuck on the Rams, there's been a lot of wishful thinking regarding Jackson over the years. It might be time to admit he's not in the position to live up to the expectations.
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