NFL starters on the hot seat

Which NFL players will lose their starting jobs next season? I’ll kick off the discussion.

1. Geno Smith. Mike Vick is the better quarterback and Rex Ryan’s job is on the line. The Jets will lose a few games early in the season and Ryan will bench Smith for Vick.

2. Matt Schaub. He won’t bounce back, the Raiders will lose and Dennis Allen, hoping to save his job, will switch to Derek Carr.

3. Chad Henne. The Jaguars don’t want to anoint rookie Blake Bortles as the starter, but he will outperform Henne in training camp and earn the starting job.

4. Le’Veon Bell. It won’t take the Steelers long to figure out that LeGarrette Blount is the better tailback on first and second down. Blount averaged 5.0 yards per carry last season. Bell averaged 3.5. He will become the Steelers’ third-down change-of-pace back, and his main value will be as a pass-catcher.

Surprise: Eddie Lacy. He’s a good short-yardage back, but he averaged 4.1 yards per carry and 2.3 yards after contact per carry last season. James Starks averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 3.0 yards after contact per carry last season. Starks will be 28 next season.

This article has 93 Comments

  1. Agree with all except Le’veon Bell. Steelers O-line was a mess compared to the Pats…plus defenses respect Brady under center much more than Roethlisberger. Bell won’t be losing his job this year.

  2. All of those are pretty safe bets. Try projecting declining play by current stars resulting in an unexpected hot seat. You love to say Gore is done so he’d be on your list. I’d like to say Richard Sherman will be on the list if the NFL actually enforces it’s holding rules. What about Matt Ryan in Atlanta? He better produce playoff success this year or the team could start looking for a better answer at QB. Or maybe Arian Foster in Houston. He might be exposed without the running scheme employed by Gary Kubiak that has produced so many great stats for RB’s who are otherwise pedestrian. Or what about your boy in Dallas, Tony Romo. He better do something. The natives are growing restless. Or perhaps even Alex Smith in KC. The honeymoon is over and the writers and fans in KC were already grumbling about the ultra conservative play and missing open receivers last year. If the team takes a step back a coach like Andy Reid could feel some pressure and make a change.

    1. The honeymoon is over and the writers and fans in KC were already grumbling about the ultra conservative play and missing open receivers last year.

      A very small faction do Houston. Most noticed that the passing game ticked upwards in terms of production and that Smith didn’t really have many great options to throw to either due to injuries or a WR being overrated. It should be also noted that many draft analysts were seriously questioning why the Chiefs didn’t add anybody to assist Smith or Bowe in the passing game.

    2. Houston,
      I agree with Mid regarding the chiefs and Andy Reid. The chiefs had a very successful season when you factor in playing in the same division as the Broncos and the improving SD chargers.

      They faded in the final games of the season after a great start that helped propel them into the playoffs and lost in the playoffs to the Colts to a fast rising superstar in A.Luck.

      Their biggest needs are on the defensive side of the ball and once they can plug a few holes they will go deeper in the playoffs.
      BTW, Alex Smith proved his mantle in KC last year and he will have another good season.
      AS and A.Reid are safe.

    3. Eric Branch
      5 months ago
      #49ers … Is the #Seahawks secondary really the NFL’s grabbiest group? NFL Films’ Greg Cosell weighed in on @KNBR …
      “I think that’s probably myth,” Cosell said. “When you watch tape, everybody does stuff. It’s just you’re talking about a good team that’s in the spotlight, very visible, with a lot of talkative guys. And I can tell you right now – and I know in San Francisco they may not like to hear it – that’s the best secondary in football and it’s not close.

      “Earl Thomas is hands down the best free safety in the game, there’s probably no one in the discussion. (Cornerback Richard) Sherman, if you just watch Sherman on film, the guy is unbelievable. It’s the old Michael Irvin discussion about him pushing off. After awhile, it’s irrelevant. If the flag’s not out, then it doesn’t matter. It’s not a hold.”

      1. After awhile, it’s irrelevant. If the flag’s not out, then it doesn’t matter. It’s not a hold.”

        It matters especially if the opposing team is nailed for doing the exact same thing.

              1. After awhile, it’s irrelevant. If the flag’s not out, then it doesn’t matter. It’s not a hold.”

                Sounds like it’s a referee thing.

                Which of your comments do you disagree with?

      2. Why do you think anyone on this blog wants to read a bunch of pro-Seahawk drivel? This isn’t a Seahawk fan site.

        1. Bar None: “Why do you think anyone on this blog wants to read a bunch of pro-Seahawk drivel? This isn’t a Seahawk fan site.”

          That’s the beauty of living in America, isn’t it — freedom of speech. And the wonderful thing about it is: you don’t have to read or RESPOND to a thing I write. So stop bullying me and get a life!

          1. To be fair, that same freedom of speech allows Bar None to express his dissatisfaction with what you write.

          2. C’mon. That’s not bullying. He asked a question you didn’t answer for him or others who’d asked the same one previously. Common sense would warn you to have a thick skin if you want to play here just as any of us would on a Seadogs site. Right, Bay, LOL? Freedom doesn’t come cheap. And, by the way, you don’t have to respond to him either.

  3. Blount averaged 5.0 yards per carry last season. Bell averaged 3.5
    And being on their respective teams had nothing to do with those averages?

    1. Blount averaged 2.7 yards after contact per carry last season. Bell averaged 2.1 yards after contact per carry.

      1. Grant

        We really missed the boat letting Blount get back on the bus instead of signing him to a UFA contract as a rookie…He is an absolute monster, and with a good chain leash will absolutely be heard from in Pitt.

  4. 1. Geno Smith – Replaced by Vick after week 6.
    2. Michael Vick – replaced with Tajh Boyd after week 13. Vick will be better but they still wont win. Might as well give the ball back to the kid and see if there is anything to salvage there.
    3. Sam Bradford – Replaced by Shaun Hill. He’s used up all his chances and excuses. He was half expected to be replaced last season so the move wont be a surprise to most.
    4. Colin Kaepernick – Replaced with Kory Faulkner. No the 49ers don’t have to win the SuperBowl for him to keep his job but if they don’t and he has another up and down season anything is possible.
    5. Eli Manning – Replaced with Ryan Nassib. The Giants didn’t fix anything in the off season. Their OL moves will not pan out and Eli will again look terrible and it will cost him his job even if it isn’t completely his fault.

  5. Some other names to add to the list:

    – Jake Locker. The Mettenberger era may start sooner rather than later.
    – Trent Richardson. Colts wasted a first rounder on him.
    – Matt Cassel. Super Ted will be the best QB out of the 2014 draft, and start at some point this year.
    – Brian Hoyer. Can he even be considered a starter?
    – Stephen Hill. The competition isn’t great, but neither is Hill.
    – Brandon Pettigrew. He lost his starting job as soon as the Lions drafted Ebron.
    – Kendall Langford. Aaron Donald will take his starting role.

    Potential surprise 49er:
    – #1. Frank Gore. Unlikely to happen, but Gore is at that age where he’ll start to find it tougher and tougher. If Lattimore, Hyde and/ or Hunter look the goods, Gore could become more of a role player than starter.
    – #2. Justin Smith/ Ray McDonald. Hogswash you say? Probably right, but if Carradine plays well I expect to see a strong 3-man rotation of Cowboy, McDonald and Tank.

    1. Good list Scooter.

      A couple more I’ll add:

      RGIII – Not likely but with a new HC and Kirk Cousins sitting on the bench, RGIII’s margin for error has been shortened.

      Rashad Jennings (Giants) – A journeyman to this point in his career and could be overtaken by Andre Williams and David Wilson if healthy.

      Jeremy Maclin (Eagles) – Coming off of injury and has a couple of good young draft picks snapping at his heels.

    2. If tank is good enough to show some real spark, it would be to or advantage to rotate him in there. My question is will Fangio let essentially a rookie into the lineup. He had no choice with Eric Reed, he was gonna play.

      1. Thanks Razor for the tip about Farrar. I looked up his bio and he lives in Seattle and of course is a great Seahawk fan. Thanks again!

  6. You all lose!!!

    Especially you Grant!!! You call yourself a journalist!?!?

    #1 on everyone’s list should be Cutler. I expect Fales to hit full stride right out of the gate in training camp. There’s no way Trestman could deny such an extreme talent the starting role.

    Coincidently, I also predict the Bears to win the super bowl.

    1. You can catch up on everything in regards to David Fales by watching these shows MWN:

      Fales of Our Lives
      Game of Fales
      Breaking Fales
      How Fales Met Your Mother
      Around the Fales
      The Walking Fales
      The Fales People
      Modern Fales
      Late Night Show with David Fales
      Fales Dreadful
      Masters of Fales
      Hawaii Fales O
      Dancing with the Fales
      The Biggest Fales
      …and so on. See, there’s plenty of shows that can give you your Fales fix. :-)

      1. When the season starts I can’t wait for the return of Monday Night Fales. When they play the Cowboys it’s a double entendre.

  7. 1. Chris Johnson. He’s not the RB he once was and will continue to showcase that fact with the Jets.
    2. Ray Rice. This could be a do-or-die season with Rice, and with the team wanting to focus the offense more on the passing, the team may move on from him if isn’t a viable complement.
    3. Jake Locker. He needs to have a healthy and productive season
    4. Chad Henne. He has been up and down his whole career and the Jaguars could decide to stop riding the waves with him.
    5. Trent Richardson. He needs to justify his high selection and the confidence the Colts organization has in him.
    6. Justin Houston. He has all kinds of talent, but with very positive reviews coming from OTAs about Dee Ford, a holdout of any kind could cost him his spot.
    7. Matt Schaub. Do we really need to discuss this? I mean the option behind him isn’t exactly the greatest, but still…
    8. Josh McCown. He’s over the hill and benefitting from previously playing in offensive guru Trestman’s style of offense.
    9. Brandon Carr. No options are really available for the Cowboys, but being a high priced DB in a putrid secondary and being a part of the reason for that could merit a necessary change during the season.
    10. Sam Bradford. See Jake Locker.

    My surprise choice: Frank Gore. He has three very capable youngsters nipping at his heels, and if he has an injury that knocks out for some time and the trio behind him delivers, then it would make it all the easier for the 49ers to start the process of moving on from Gore.

    1. I forgot this one:
      11. Everyone on the Chiefs OL. This is prehaps one of the weakest lines in the league and if they struggle, then be prepared to see a turnstile in action, especially with the fact that the team otherwise has all of the pieces that it needs to be competitive.

      1. MWD

        very good list; especially #11 …I can’t believe that they let Brandon Albert out of town, and ‘Big’ Geoff at guard….Alex….DUCK!!

  8. The prediction question… Is Roman’s statement about revamping the offense?

    A) Just blowing smoke. The 49ers will run the same old offense. I think Harbs and the gang makes stuff up about 50% of the time just to keep work fun.

    B) A little true. A few more 3 WR sets, a bit more RB rotation, but no major changes.

    C) Somewhat. Still a power running offense, but more sweeps, passes to backs along with the 3 WR sets.

    D) Yes. Major changes. More sweeps, passes to backs and 3 WR sets. Gone is the constant running down the play clock before the snap. Relaying plays to the QB is more streamlined.

    The passing game will be more about timing, with CK getting rid of the ball a full .5 seconds from snap faster.

    Some (but not all) red zone blocking will be simplified, a bit like zone schemes, to seal gap penetration and improve line push.

    They will still be occasional use of extra linemen in the offensive backfield, bit not in critical short yardage situations. Any extra linemen will be on the line.

    I’m guessing C, but wishing for D.

  9. I like a lot of your predictions Grant, but I think you’re off on Lacy. For one, I’m not sure that one can compare yards per carry for every down backs vis a vis 3rd down backs. By their very nature, they face very different defenses and as such should realize different stats. Hunter wasn’t the #1 over Gore for a reason last year (despite higher ypc). If I were to play devils advocate against my own stats it would be blocking. Hunter isn’t big enough to be an every down back, but Starks might be. Still, I think Lacy will be #1. Keep up the good work and go Niners!

    1. That’s a good point. Starks is big enough to be an every-down back if he’s healthy. The Packers would have had a better chance at beating the Niners in the playoffs last season if they had given Starks most of the carries.

    2. Barring injuries, Lacy will lead the Packers running game this season and solidify his starting role.

      Tanier has a much better take on Packer’s running game here:!bcngcj
      “…Eddie Lacy’s rookie year was like four seasons in one. He looked lost in training camp and the preseason, then suddenly looked like the Terrell Davis to Aaron Rodgers’ John Elway, then had to carry the offense on his back when the zombie plague struck the quarterbacks, then gutted out a playoff run despite nagging injuries. Lacy is an excellent young runner in a great situation: the Packers need the I-formation power he provides, but they don’t need 25 carries per game in most non-Seneca Wallace circumstances.
      James Starks is a great No. 2 back who spent his whole career searching for a No. 1 back. Similarly, John Kuhn finally got the chance to line up as an I-formation fullback and truck some linebackers last year, and he was pretty darn good at it. …”

  10. Okay I’m not saying I want this to happen, or to assume I am a Colin Kaepernick hater. I will say it now that I hope he plays better as a pocket passer and the Niners are multi-dimensional. But for the sake of argument, what if he continues to struggle as a passer and the Niners are playing .500 ball. The Niners are good enough to beat the lame teams, but it becomes very obvious that to beat the NIners you put 8 in a box. Is Colin, Greg Roman, Trent Baalke or Harbaugh on the hot seat?

  11. Frank Gore to lose 50 carries off last year

    ESPN 49ers reporter Bill Williamson believes Frank Gore will see “about 220 carries” this season.

    Gore had 276 in 2013. GM Trent Baalke has discussed removing some of the load off of 31-year-old Gore’s shoulders, and the selection of Carlos Hyde was a clear indication the 49ers want to divvy up carries more this season. That does not mean Gore will fall off the map, though. As long as he is healthy, Gore will remain the lead back in San Francisco and a low-end RB2. Still, losing over 50 carries would deal a significant blow to his fantasy outlook.

  12. Michael Vick can put up a mean highlight reel, but like a lot of quarterbacks he has a major flaw: inconsistent accuracy (which means, inaccuracy, btw). Sometimes he throws 40 yard lasers right to the WR’s hands, but then he’ll follow up with a few balls which miss badly. The problem is, the few accurate balls look so spectacular that the constitute the noise which keeps you from seeing the true signal, which is that he’s actually inaccurate. Even an inaccurate arm will throw some on target. With his speed, athleticism, and arm strength, he can look spectacular…but that would be missing the truth, and it’s why he’s never been very effective as an NFL starter. Geno Smith is by no means God’s gift to the QB position, but the Jets will probably take a close look to see if he has a better all around game than Vick. If not, Vick will get the job, but not because he’s a good QB. At least this is the perspective from a diehard Niner fan whose current geographical situation has resulted in having to watch far too many Eagles and Jets games…ugh.

  13. I’m not in much agreement on this article.
    -Vick could supplant Geno, not much problem there. He has a better chance of starting week-1 than Bortles, IMO.
    -Henne starts week-1; anything can happen after week-4.
    -Blount will contribute but probably more on a 50/50 share than as a starter. The criteria for comparison Grant used here doesn’t hold up, but he’s a tough journeyman who is a system fit and runs lower than Bell and so may stay healthier.
    -I don’t think Starks is better than Lacy. They had Starks but Lacy got more carries. They had Starks when they drafted Lacy. Change of pace but Lacy gets most of the carries.
    -Schaub: OK, that’s the $64,000.00 Question; one among many for the RayDuhs. I’ve got no clue how this will go for him or them. Is the D better or are they playing from behind? Is the OL competent? Will Schaub get “it” back? He could, but until he does………well, currently PFT has the RayDuhs ranked #32.

  14. Proposed trade. Send La Michael James and next years #2 to Houston for Andre Johnson. Send Lloyd and Stevie Johnson Packing.
    I know this makes our receiving corp long in the tooth, but we still have Patton, Ellington and we can draft another wide out next year.
    Here’s why Johnson makes crazy sense for us for two years. He’s physical like Boldin, fights for balls and can still run by guys and get deep. His physical play gives our running game blocking on the edges. And he OWNS Sherman….

    1. Bay,
      If you were Houston would you make such a trade?
      LMJ is a fringe player at best who is not a lock to even make the team and a #2 in 2015 could possibly garner a player late into the 2nd rd if we make the playoffs again.

      I like Q.Patton and Ellington looks like a keeper so I agree with you about those two being our future. If Lloyd can still play he deserves a spot on the roster. Stevie Johnson could be the biggest surprise for us this season.
      Johnson’ low output in 2013 is attributed to poor QB play in Buffalo, but he is excited about a homecoming (played high school in Fairfield) and no doubt wants to prove that last years numbers were not on him.

      My 2014 roster WR’s:

    2. You are not kidding about Johnson owning Sherman. I went to the Texans vs Seahawks game. Johnson threw Sherman around like a rag doll. No exaggeration – On a running play in the first qtr Johnson threw Sherman down field about 7 yards and then went and stood over him and said something after the play. Johnson doesn’t trash talk so I’m sure he was just sending a message to Sherman to STFU. Sherman didn’t talk, Sherman stayed as far away from Andre Johnson as he could the rest of the game. On a pass play in the 2nd Qtr Johnson caught a little out pattern and then trucked Sherman like he was a little girl. If the 9ers want a total bada** at WR then Andre Johnson is the guy.

      1. Too bad Sherman took a 58-yard pick-six back after Johnson was having a good game for 110 yards and no TD’s. Of course the following week the 49ers held Johnson to 39 yards and no TD’s. Guess they really own Johnson, lol.

    1. Wow you predicted that a teams #1 WR would want off the team after they made no attempt to find a legitimate QB. You have amazing powers!!

      1. For you to make that comment shows just how much you don’t know what you’re talking about. I predicted it well before the end of the regular season when the Texans were going through such horrible times. You can go search and look it up. Also, Andre Johnson has stuck with the Texans for over a decade. He’s been incredibly loyal to the franchise even through extremely difficult times.

    2. I can’t see them bringing in another older WR and taking on that cap hit in the process. Houston would also take a major hit in dead money, so unless Johnson agrees to rip up his deal, then he’s pretty close to untradeable.

  15. Houston,
    I like A . Johnson as well, but can we afford him?

    What moves would you make to put him in a 49ers uniform?

    1. Get rid of Stevie Johnson….. He comes in at $6 million. Get Andre to redo his deal. Can you image the impact he would make on our running game?

      He may be the most physical WR other than Boldin in the entire league.

      1. Johnson counts for 3,925,0000 this year. I also think he is worth keeping as his production was consistently good before last season with poor QB play in Buffalo and everyone keying on him as the top option in their passing game.

        The idea of Johnson sounds good but you have to consider his impact in a much different offense than he’s accustomed to, and the fact he’s now 33 years old. He has a huge contract that they cannot absorb so the only way this would have any chance of happening is if he agreed to a much shorter and lower contract which I doubt he would. I don’t think he’s going anywhere personally.

          1. Sure, and Blackmon too. And maybe A. Hernandez on Work Furlough, although I don’t know how fast he can run with that ball & chain on his ankle.

            1. Brotha:

              Thank God. For a moment there, I thought player acquisition in real life was different from the way it is in Madden.

          2. Absolutely CB
            That gives us the perfect replacement for whenever Gordon is on suspension. It can be like shift work.

            1. rocket:

              It makes too much sense not to happen and will guarantee Lombardi No. 6. If Baalke doesn’t make this happen, then we’ll know for sure that he is either mentally deranged or on the Seahawks’ payroll. There could be no other explanation.

              1. Tuna: Plz — usually I admit and deny nothing, but I am younger than his mother. More like a sister or niece. His age is the best kept secret — Wikipedia doesn’t even list it.

                HOWEVER, I did find this interesting article on the Harbaugh-Baalke relationship.


                BTW, I’m surprised you’re all handling the eventual departure of Harbaugh so well. These distractions are so hard on the team and fans. I would be depressed if PC left.

              2. BTW, I’m surprised you’re all handling the eventual departure of Harbaugh so well.

                Kawakami has no clue. He was proven to be completely f-o-s about Aldon Smith’s option and I’m sure he’s f-o-s about Harbaugh- Baalke too. No need to worry about anything “reported” in a 5 month old bs Kamakawi story. The “eventual departure” of Cheatin Pete is as assured as is that of Jim Harbaugh.

              3. Can’t trust Kawakami. Hes the biggest hack in bay area sports. My aunt used to work with him, and people at bay area news group thinks he writes the way he does in order to get a national gig.

  16. I was thinking into next year when there are a lot of potential FAs that the 49ers could loose. The list is Iupati, Crabtree, Hunter and Culliver. These four guys could all demand significant salaries after next year (Crabtree and Iupati for sure). If the 49ers don’t resign any of these guys and depending on who they sign they could potentially have 4 high compensatory picks. I imagine the loses of Iupati and Crabtree would have to bring in 3rd round picks and Hunter and Culliver could easily be 5th rounders.

    1. Culliver won’t command that much. I’d love to see how that negotiation would work though. Think he’d bring brass knuckles to the negotiation?

      1. You can bet before he gets near the office, there will be a man in a black suit with a metal detector wand scanning him before entry into negotiations…..

      2. Bay – If Culliver starts and gets 4 or 5 INTs he will get a good offer. One that I think could warrant a 5th round comp pick for the 49ers.

    2. Dude,
      I would b a little more cautious with letting Crabtree walk next year especially if has a banner season.

      I don’t believe that we’ve seen the best of Crabtree yet. If he can remain on the field (that’s always a ?) and continue on the chemistry that he and CK were developing in 2012 he might make it very difficult for the Org come contract time to let go.

      Fortunately, that’s something that will play out this year and give the Org a better barometer by season’ end.

      1. AES, I agree with not letting Crabtree go. If it were up to me I would keep him. He obviously has a connection with Kaep. The issue is in the money though. The niners are up against the cap for next year already. I know they can re work some deals and open up space but Crabtree will still hit the open market. If he has a good year he will most likely get offered 12 Mil a year. I don’t see the 49ers coming close to that amount. I see a max of $8-9 Mil. I think they are already planning on loosing Crabtree with the trade for Johnson. He will still have 2 years left on his deal, Boldin will have one and Patton and Ellington will be ready for big roles.

        The big thing to watch will be who gets the money that Kap “gave up” so the 49ers can resign some players. It will be interesting to see if they actually give or maintain Kaps weapons or let them walk like the Pats did for Brady.

        1. Dude,
          The monies available for Crabtree may very well depend on what happens with VD this season.

          If the Org does not cave on VD, he may sulk throughout the season thereby effecting his game and making him a nuisance that the Org may not be happy with.

          My sense is that if Crabtree produces huge numbers the team will maneuver and find a way to sign him.

          1. AES
            I guess we have to see how the season goes, how much the passing game is involved in the offense and how well Crabtree does, but if he gets offered by some team $12 Mil do you think the 49ers would match that? I just don’t see them doing it.

  17. Dude,
    $12M will be very tempting indeed. Sadly, it seems that if Crabtree has a great year it will work against the 49ers come contract time.
    To make both parties happy (at least in imo) Crabtree walks for bigger greens after he helps us win the SB.

  18. ok,Ok,OK,OKay,OKAAYYY!!!! Lebron is returning to Cleveland, Ohio. I heard about it already. Can we give it a rest? GeeeeeeezLouise.
    By the way, the vultures are returning to Hinckley, Ohio next year too.

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