The Brandt Report  


DeMarco Murray, Greg Hardy among 2015's disappointments


As the 2015 regular season heads to a close, some players and teams are putting the finishing touches on triumphant campaigns -- and others are wondering where it all went wrong.

Before we turn our attention to Week 17 and the playoff race, I thought I'd round up the 10 players who've had the most disappointing individual seasons in 2015. Below is a list of guys who, for various reasons, have had years they'd likely prefer to forget:

1) DeMarco Murray, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

By the numbers: 633 rushing yards, five rushing TDs, 44 catches, 322 receiving yards in 14 games (eight starts).

When the Eagles signed Murray, I thought he'd make them the best team in the NFC East, but it's clear now that he was the wrong guy for this offense, and that this union was doomed from the start. He simply doesn't fit. When he's in the I-formation, he has the quickness to find the hole and break out; when he's not in the I-formation, he struggles, as we've seen this season. Murray also looks uninspired when he plays, like he doesn't have the same feel for the ball he had during his time in Dallas. I don't know if anyone expected him to repeat last season's league-leading performance, but I also don't know if anyone would've guessed the Eagles would win less with Murray than they did without him, or that he'd have a paltry yards-per-carry mark of 3.5. This was just one in a series of odd moves that likely helped contribute to Chip Kelly's recent exit in Philadelphia.

2) Greg Hardy, DE, Dallas Cowboys

By the numbers: 34 tackles, 6.0 sacks, one INT, one forced fumble in 11 games.

Hardy's ceiling was always going to be limited by his four-game suspension to start the season, but he has not had the kind of impact Dallas' defense needed this season. You want your pass rusher to fly off the edge to get to the quarterback, but that's not what I see Hardy doing. Cardinals veteran Dwight Freeney is nearly a decade older than Hardy, but he plays with much more effort and quickness than Hardy shows. Even factoring the suspension in, I would've expected Hardy to reach double digits in sacks. If it were up to me, I would not bring Hardy -- who signed a one-year deal with Dallas in March -- back, based on what I've seen on the field.

3) Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers

By the numbers: 59.0 percent completion rate, 1,615 passing yards, 6.6 yards per attempt, six passing TDs, five INTs, 78.5 passer rating in nine games (eight starts).

Kaepernick, who needed surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, went on injured reserve in late November, and I can understand if an injury gets in the way of a player's performance. I also understand he wasn't on a very good team. But he wasn't playing that well before he hurt his shoulder in Week 4. Consider that he completed less than 50 percent of his passes in two games this season. The bottom line is, you just aren't going to win many NFL games with that kind of accuracy and a passer rating of 78.5, no matter how bad your receivers might be. He had promise, but he hasn't made the necessary improvements since narrowly missing out on a Lombardi Trophy as a second-year pro in Super Bowl XLVII.

4) Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks

By the numbers: 48 catches, 605 yards, two TDs in 11 games.

You can't ding a guy for being hurt, but Graham seemed to be persona non grata in the Seahawks' offense even before he went down with a torn patellar tendon in Week 12. Given what Seattle gave up to acquire him, you'd want him to be the kind of red-zone weapon he was in New Orleans (51 touchdowns in five seasons). Instead, Graham was shut out of the end zone from Week 4 on. He's not a good blocker, and that did not help him get entrenched in Seattle's run-heavy offense. I saw him play when the Seahawks came to Dallas, and while Graham managed seven catches for 75 yards, he never looked like much of a threat; rookie Byron Jones tied him up pretty effectively.

5) Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers

By the numbers: 641 rushing yards, zero TDs, 3.5 yards per carry in 14 games (12 starts).

I was a big Gordon fan heading into the season, and I felt he was a good first-round pick for San Diego. I thought he really had a chance to make the Chargers' running game go. Alas, their ground attack is ranked 32nd, and Gordon landed on injured reserve last week after a less-than-impressive debut campaign. I think he's talented, and he tries, but I didn't see the flash and dash you want to see in your running back; someone with his speed should be making more splash plays.

6) Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

By the numbers: 59.9 percent completion rate, 2,180 passing yards, 6.8 yards per attempt, nine passing TDs, 17 INTs, 67.6 passer rating in nine games.

It might be tough to separate Manning's struggles this season from the effects of plantar fasciitis, with an aggravation of the condition having sidelined him since Week 10. But however you spin it, his 2015 numbers are a disappointment. Yes, Denver was 7-2 in games he started. But consider that he continues to lead the NFL in picks (17) despite missing the last six games, and he's last in the NFL in passer rating and TD-to-INT ratio. Perhaps most alarmingly, his yards-per-attempt mark dipped from 7.7 entering the season to 6.8. You don't ever believe a guy's fastball will slow down, but that might be what happened to Manning -- though, again, it's impossible to know right now how much of his drop-off can be attributed to health.

7) Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

By the numbers: 31 catches, 401 yards, three TDs in nine games.

Bryant's sixth pro season got off to a rough start, with a broken bone in his foot suffered in Week 1 knocking him out for the next five games. He was back on the field by November, but he hurt his ankle in his second game back and struggled to make his customary impact, logging an average of three catches and 40 yards per game from then on. He also really missed Tony Romo. Bryant and Romo have great chemistry, which they use to run a kind of scramble passing offense, with Bryant working to get open and Romo eventually finding him. He wasn't able to do that with Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. Bryant seemed to be visibly frustrated this season, which in turn led to him dropping some passes I think he would have caught otherwise. I wonder if missing some offseason workouts ahead of training camp as he negotiated a new deal factored into his troubles. Now it's time to look to next season, as he went on injured reserve this week and will undergo foot and ankle surgery.

8) Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Houston Texans

By the numbers: 40 tackles, 4.5 sacks, six passes defensed, one forced fumble in 13 games (nine starts).

Clowney has rare talent as far as athletic ability and speed, but he doesn't seem to consistently display the kind of aggressive attitude you want to see on the field from a former first overall draft pick. Clowney is in a good situation with coordinator Romeo Crennel and coach Bill O'Brien, and he's still, of course, young (22). Some guys don't reach their competitive heights until they've been in the league a few years, so there's plenty of reasons to think Clowney can fulfill his potential.

9) Byron Maxwell, CB, Philadelphia Eagles

By the numbers: 64 tackles, two interceptions, 10 passes defensed, two forced fumbles in 14 games.

The addition of Maxwell via a six-year, $63 million deal was another misstep by Kelly. Maxwell has some of the things you look for in a corner -- he's long, big, tall and can run pretty well -- but he doesn't have the feel to play pass defense well enough to justify that investment. He's been burned on 61.4 percent of the passes thrown in his direction this season (up from 58.6 in 2014 and 47.9 in 2013) -- he's practically burnt toast. Someone getting his kind of money should have four to five picks and a burn rate closer to 50 percent. Maxwell tries hard; you just don't see him making the plays he needs to make.

10) Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

By the numbers: 61.7 percent completion rate, 3,858 passing yards, 7.0 yards per attempt, 22 passing TDs, 12 INTs, 44 sacks taken, 87.1 passer rating in 15 games.

After making gains across the board in each of his first three NFL seasons, Tannehill plateaued in 2015. His numbers are OK, but I didn't see the improvement I was looking for; he hasn't taken that next step. I would have expected him to win more than five games with a team that is much better than its current record. He has the ability to play quarterback, but I wonder if he has the right instincts, or if the position comes naturally to him. In that way, he might be like Jay Cutler, another talented player who has yet to put it all together. Tannehill doesn't seem to be seeing things on the field like he should be.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.



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