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SAM FARMER / NFL REVIEW-PREVIEW

Some NFL stars seemingly have lost their luster

High-profile players such as Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer and Brandon Marshall are not achieving desired results and are having disappointing seasons.

November 22, 2010|Sam Farmer

The NFL's household names can't quite take it to the house. The big-money players are putting up bargain-basement numbers. The VIPs are standing on the wrong side of the velvet ropes.

All over the league, some of its highest-profile players are having disappointing seasons — Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer and Brandon Marshall among them.

The news of the day Monday was partly a byproduct of that. Minnesota fired Coach Brad Childress and replaced him with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, promoted to interim coach. That ended weeks of speculation that a change was coming for the Vikings, who dropped to 3-7 on Sunday thanks to a 28-point stomping by Green Bay.

It was Childress who worked so hard to woo Favre, last year chauffeuring him from the airport, and last summer flying to Mississippi to persuade him to come back for one last run at the Super Bowl.

To say things haven't panned out is a major understatement. Through 10 games, Favre already has 10 more interceptions than last season, and he would need to throw about four touchdowns per game for the next six weeks to match last season's total.

But Favre is only part of the story. The Moss experiment fizzled less than a month after the Vikings traded New England a third-round pick for the All-Pro receiver.

In his last three games — one with Minnesota, and two with Tennessee — Moss had one, one and zero catches.

Speaking of tumbling stars, Titans quarterback Vince Young was put on injured reserve Monday and will undergo surgery to repair a tendon in the thumb on his throwing hand. That injury came in Sunday's overtime loss to the Redskins, after which a frustrated Young tossed his shoulder pads into the stands.

How long Young will be with the Titans remains to be seen, but, according to the Tennessean newspaper, team owner Bud Adams intervened in the spat between the quarterback and Coach Jeff Fisher, telling them to "get this thing settled."

Tennessee's latest loss came to a franchise dealing with its own lagging luminary. Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb is slogging through one of his tougher years. His numbers are down across the board (except his bloated interceptions total), and the 12-year veteran has his lowest passer rating (76.1) since his rookie season.

Surely, Palmer can commiserate. His Bengals have lost seven in a row, and he has already matched his total of 13 interceptions from last season. Ten of those came during this losing streak, with two returned for touchdowns, and seven of the other eight occurring at either midfield or on the opponents' side of the field.

The "Batman and Robin" combination of Cincinnati receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco isn't producing the way a lot of people expected, either. Although Owens ranks third in the league in yards receiving with 897, Ochocinco has seen a significant dip in his yards-per-catch average, from 14.5 last season to 11.7.

Likewise, it has been a quiet season in Dallas for receiver Miles Austin, who signed a six-year, $54-million contract extension before the season. Although his numbers haven't been terrible — 49 catches, 732 yards, five touchdowns — they are off last season's pace, probably partly because of Tony Romo's injury. Over the last six games, Austin has averaged three catches, and it's becoming increasingly clear that Dez Bryant is the team's rising star of the moment.

In Miami, huge things were expected of receiver Brandon Marshall, who cost the Dolphins two second-round draft picks in a trade with Denver.

That deal has yet to pay big dividends. A typical Marshall season is within reach — something like 100 catches and 1,100 yards — but there's no denying he hasn't produced the desired results.

Marshall was supposed to transform that offense, opening the field for Chad Henne's big arm. But Miami's offensive numbers this season have gotten worse.

What's more, Marshall hasn't shown a lot of self-control. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in consecutive weeks. Four days after throwing a ball into the stands after making one catch, he tossed the ball to Chicago's Jay Cutler after making another.

"That," Marshall said later, "was a boneheaded move by me."

Boneheaded? Yes. But also fitting in a season when players who typically raise the bar now simply raise eyebrows.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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