The Worst of Week One: The Steelers, Gabbert and More!

Let’s set the bar low shall we?

Welcome to The Worst, where each week I'll highlight the worst of the NFL. It's easy to celebrate the heroes and the champions and the winners, but The Worst is here to remind you that mocking the losers can be just as much fun.

Being the worst player, coach or team in the NFL still makes you better than 99.999% of players, coaches and teams in the world, but knowing that fact doesn't make stank of the weekend wash off any easier.


Worst Loss

San Diego 28 Houston 31

It would be easy to tab the Ravens or Jaguars for this category, but perhaps no single game sums up the spirit of The Worst like San Diego's "the more things change…" game against Houston.

For a franchise eager to rinse clean the stench of Norv, the stunning second-half collapse at the hands of the Texans was positively Turner-ian. (Turnerian: adj Possessing the qualities or characteristics of Norv Turner. Cleveland's offense was Turnerian against the Dolphins.)

San Diego needed to show that things were going to be different under new head coach Mike McCoy. Instead, they turned Matt Schaub into the second-coming of Roger Staubach. They were eager to establish a new identity, and instead proved the long-held theory of the transitive property of Phil Rivers (This theory holds that Phil Rivers will find a way to implode regardless of how well he plays in any given game. Also referred to as the Vinny Testaverde Transitive Property).

What could be worse than a game recap with Chris Berman?

Worst Win

Indianapolis 21 Oakland 17

Hey a win is a win, right? 

Tell that to Indianapolis fans who are testy this week after narrowly-escaping Week 1 with a victory over the Raiders who started a guy more famous for his tats than his passing ability. While it's too early to compare Terrelle Pryor to Chris Anderson, no one will confuse the Oakland quarterback with Tom Brady, or even Michael Vick. 

Still, he ran around and gave the Colts defense fits all day on Sunday. Indy managed to pull out the victory behind an amazing performance by Andrew Luck, but in doing so put the NFL on notice: they aren't very good.

Indy showed all the same weaknesses they did in 2012, once again proving that spending a lot of money in free agency means little if you spend it on guys like Eric Walden.

Well, that's just embarrassing.  


Worst Performance: Team

Pittsburgh Steelers

For sheer embarrassment quotient, the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-9 loss loss to the Tennessee Titans takes the Week 1 cake. Against one of the worst defenses of 2012, the Steelers managed a single touchdown and took until the closing minutes of the game to get it.

The Steelers' meltdown was a true team affair. They fumbled the opening possession inside the Titans' 10-yard line, had three three-and-outs in the third quarter alone, held the ball for only 25 minutes, picked up one sack and no turnovers on defense, gave up a big return on special teams and generally managed to sleepwalk their way to an ugly 16-9 defeat.


Worst Performance: Player

Blaine Gabbert

One of my favorite stats about the 2012 season is that the Jaguars lost their first five home games by a combined total of 153 to 44. They cleaned house and opened the 2013 season with a 26-point loss to the formerly moribund Chiefs.

The common thread? The starting quarterback.

After proclaiming that all third-year starter Blaine Gabbert needed was protection, the Jaguars selected a tackle with the second pick of the draft. 


Gabbert set a new standard for crapulence with his performance against the Chiefs. Despite being the worst NFL quarterback over the past three years, Gabbert put up the worst statistical performance of his already putrescent career. He finished the day 16-of-35 for just 121 yards and two picks before attempting to slice off his own hand, presumably in disgust. 

Oh and as for protecting him? Try six more sacks on the day.

Gabbert actually had two additional near turnovers reversed by instant replay. Sometimes a performance isn't as bad as it looks. This was actually worse.

Real American or not, Gabbert is the worst player in the NFL this, and honestly every, week.


Worst Penalty

Lavonte David hits Geno Smith out of bounds

With the Jets driving for the game-winning field goal, Geno Smith scampered along the right sideline. As he slipped out of bounds, David bumped him about the Bucs 45-yard line.

The 15-yard personal foul penalty set up the game-winning kick by Nick Folk.

David's penalty didn't necessarily cost the Bucs the game, after all, the Jets could have run another play to set up a long kick, but it did illustrate just how difficult it is for defenders in today's game.

Smith was only about a step out of bounds, in fact, his first foot hadn't even hit the ground on the chalk yet. The call was technically correct, but given the circumstances, it would be understandable if the officials had swallowed the whistle.

Protecting the quarterback is necessary in today's game, but to have a game potentially decided on such a close call is the worst.


Worst Division

AFC North

Only one division went 0-4 in the opening week: the AFC North.

Only four teams scored fewer than 10 points. Two of them were in the AFC North.

There were only three games that involved a margin of victory greater than 10 points. Two of them involved the AFC North.

Considering that three of the candidates for worst team (Cleveland, Baltimore and the title-holding Steelers) all reside in the AFC North, declaring this week's champ is easy.


Worst Play

Darius Reynaud's Safety

Narrowly edging out Wes Welker's muffed punt, Reynaud offers up perhaps the worst kickoff return in NFL history.

On the opening kickoff of 2013, Reynaud fielded the ball just outside the goal line, and then brought it back into the end zone and knelt down. Because the ball didn't travel into the end zone on its own, the result is a safety. 

Ugh. That's just the worst.


Worst Media Moment

NBC compares Joe Flacco to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady

In an effort to manufacture a new football hero out of a mediocre player who had one hot month last January, NBC tried to position Joe Flacco as the second coming of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Of course to do that, you have to use goofy categories like "playoff wins in the first five years".

Of course, NBC declined to tell anyone that Flacco's "playoff wins" include a 9-for-23, 135 yard clunker against Miami and a 4-for-10, 34 yard, one pick victory over the Patriots. 

Those efforts were positively Gabbertian (Gabbertian: adj. possessing the qualities of Gabbert. These include: reality, Americanism, and sucking at football. This column is Gabbertian).

Playoff victories tell you everything about the team, and very little about the starting quarterback. No one talks about the playoff records of running backs or long snappers, nor should they. When you use playoff wins as the measure of the player, you hand out huge contracts to guys like Mark Sanchez. 

Here there be dragons.

By the end of the night, even Flacco was embarrassed by the comparison. He's never been considered one of the top 10 quarterbacks in football, and all the graphics in the world won't turn him into the next Tom Brady.


The Best

Just to show you I'm not a bad guy, The Worst will also celebrate the best in the NFL each week.

The best team goes to the San Francisco 49ers whose gritty win over arguably the second-best team, the Green Bay Packers, was easily the most impressive of the first slate of games.

The best player in Week 1 was obviously Peyton F. Manning whose seven touchdowns while keeping his head from falling off his neck were vintage in every possible way.

Perhaps the best moment of the week was Manning's subtle dig at Flacco. He did not like the Raven's picture on the side of his stadium. He's a fan of quarterbacks, but has no interest in sharing the spotlight with Flacco.

If you have a nominee for The Worst, submit it via Twitter or email. Use the hashtag #TheWorst.