Due to Saturday football, we are when again required to recreate the unholy union of the weekly sneak peek and evaluation columns. We begin with the Sunday FreakOut: Saturday Edition, reacting and overreacting to whatever that happened in the Week 16 Saturday games …
Things That Made Me Giddy
FitzMagic, Defined: In a must-win video game, when Tua Tagovailoa’s level of conservative play might just be described as Tyrod-ish, Brian Flores went to the bullpen as soon as again and Fitzpatrick delivered. Fitzpatrick’s one mistake was a third-and-goal, four-point misfire to a wide-open Mike Gesicki (Gesicki one-on-one against Johnathan Abram is the type of match an offensive coordinator dreams of however would never attempt anticipate to come across in truth). Aside from that, the vet was whatever you might possibly desire him to be.
Darren Waller Is Pretty Close to Unguardable: Due To The Fact That I’m a sportswriter, I can’t help but make this about myself: 2 offseasons ago, as previous podcast partner and spiritual guru Andy Benoit and I wrung our metaphorical and actual turn over the state of Derek Carr’s weapons, a number of Raiders fans complained about our lack of acknowledgment for ex-Ravens practice squad pickup Darren Waller. And for their input they went through my derisive laughter, Fools, he was on the practice squad for a factor, I would say to myself in the type of an inner monologue (however never ever aloud due to the fact that I’m a courteous boy). Anyway, Waller has consistently been a difference-maker over the past two seasons, and Saturday night, when Vegas had couple of other options in the death video game, Waller’s capability to beat one-on-one protection and make plays on the ball was the greatest reason the Raiders were in position to win that video game.
Jason Sanders Has the Magic in Him Too: On a day of unstable kicking throughout the NFL, Sanders once again shown to be an outright rock for the Dolphins, drilling the 44- yarder to win it.
Robert Saleh vs. Kliff Kingsbury: It was a coaching inequality for the ages, as Saleh’s system– so injury-plagued that it included a seemingly excessive number of players with numbers in the 60 s– took on a Cardinals offense including the 2019 draft’s top overall choice, the very best receiver in football, a Hall of Fame receiver, and an offensive line totally intact. The result was Saleh’s group thoroughly trouncing Kingsbury’s, particularly when it concerned resolving the Cardinals’ defense rules (every time Arizona slid a security, the 49 ers had a complimentary runner coming at Kyler Murray from the opposite). Ideally, after watching another week of Detroit’s non-competitive defense, Chris Spielman cleaned his taste buds by viewing Saleh’s group, then attentively rubbed his chin and thought of the future.
When the Phony Punt Isn’t a Surprise: The Dolphins understood the Raiders would be on alert for a phony on a fourth-and-1 at midfield, so they added a twist: Look at the unbalanced line, which triggers the primarily-special-teams-player-for-a-reason edge man to lose include and open the lowering lane for Clayton Fejedelem. That is, as the kids say, great coaching.
Jeff Wilson in Kyle Shanahan’s Scheme: It was another week in which Shanahan merely had his opponent determined (which seems to be most weeks): 22 hurries for 183 yards for Wilson, as the Niners chose 228 yards and 7.9 per bring (omitting a game-ending kneeldown) on designed runs in Arizona.
49 ers Play Spoiler: Like a great organization should.
Bears Fans Love the Packers: Or hate the Titans. Or, if you want to get technical about it, will root for the Packers to win Sunday night so that Green Bay has no playoff-seeding reward to play for in Week 17, when a Bears success (presuming they beat the Jaguars on Sunday) would send Chicago to the playoffs.
Raiders’ Situational Defense: An absence of talent is the unit’s biggest concern, however goodness, what did Rod Marinelli tell them entering that last drive? There’s 19 seconds left and the Dolphins had no timeouts working from their own 25, and rookie corner Damon Arnette played that like it was third-and-goal from the 3. Coaching is mentor, and apparently the rookie has actually not been taught well.
Is This Worthy of a 49- Yard Penalty?: With 150 seconds left in a one-point game with playoff implications for both teams? I rely on the rhetorical nature of those concerns makes my position clear …
The Raiders Illustration Miami Offsides Was Likewise a Blown Call: The motion by fullback Alec Ingold was indeed legal– the twitch that preceded it was not. That was an incorrect start– and a difficult couple minutes for Tony Corrente’s otherwise strong team.
The Cardinals Have Issues: They just headed out against what is essentially the 49 ers’ second-string defense and managed 12 points and 4.4 yards per play in a video game they required to have. To call the Cardinals’ offense “middling” at this point– regardless of the reality that they have actually been fairly untouched by injuries this season– would be rather generous. This is a franchise that ended on Steve Wilks after a single season; considering the profane investment they have actually made on the offensive side of the ball for their brand-new coach, exists any genuine validation to persevere aside from “Welp, can’t end early on another coach.”
[Exasperated Sigh] Tua …: The Dolphins were short on weapons once again, and you question what he may end up being if they surround him with a supporting cast the likes of which Drew Brees has enjoyed in New Orleans. Eight starts into his profession his restrictions have actually been on screen more than his strengths– he does not have the pure athleticism to develop his own time and area, he’s getting better at managing the pocket however it’s not great enough yet, and his arm talent necessarily limits the offense’s play designs (whether they desire to get more aggressive or not). Ultimately, I think he’ll be a quality starter as long as he shakes this conservative streak, but he certainly hasn’t been transcendent up until now and I’m uncertain there’s reason to think he will be.
Chase Daniel vs. Blaine Gabbert: At some point, the FCC needed to action in and pull this off the air. The only explanation is that Gary Pinkel greased some palms in D.C. Follow the money, people.
Robbie Gould: His streak of 31 straight makes from inside 50 crashed and burned in magnificent fashion, as he missed possible game-clinchers from 41, 37 and a PAT in order to keep us glued to our glitchy Amazon Prime feeds. (Really, my Amazon Prime feed was fine.)
Ryan Succop’s 2 Missed out on PATs and a Pulled 42- Yarder Indoors: Well it’s a mess, what a mess. What ya gon na do?
The Lions’ Pick Your Poison Defense: Are you going to throw it versus the zone coverage that immediately bails 12 backyards behind the sticks? Or are you going to run it versus the linebackers who won’t put a hand on your ballcarrier up until he’s eight yards downfield? Or are you going to suffer decision paralysis … similar to they knew you would. Anyway, one day this method will operate in Detroit.
Can We Get Matthew Stafford a Cart?: Or crutches? Or something? Or is this just an extension of the five-year giant task on Stafford that was the Bob Quinn period in Detroit?
Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Ha! Nelson Agholor: His Philadelphia profession consisted of a ring (he had 9 catches in a Super Bowl win!) Is mostly remembered as a meme for dropping passes Anyhow, he’s having a terrific bounce-back season in Vegas:
Myles Gaskin (and Two Downfield Blocks) Quickly Conserves Boxing Day:
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
The Bucs Are Absolutely On Track Now?: Maybe. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a number of tune-ups heading into the playoffs, but that’s all the Atlanta-Detroit-Atlanta portion of the schedule offers. They will not see defenses this bad in the postseason because groups with defenses this bad do not make the postseason (it’s not a coincidence that both those franchises fired their protective head coaches throughout the season). The Bucs are 1-4 versus teams that are presently “in” the playoff picture, and that moves to 1-5 if the Bears win in Jacksonville on Sunday.
Trade Matthew Stafford This Offseason: If you’re not picking at the top of the draft, Stafford is the one quarterback (possibly) available this offseason who can lift a good group to championship-caliber– much in the exact same way he just raised a zero-win group to a group that won some video games over the past three seasons. That’s worth a mid- to low-first-round pick. And as for the Lions, the Bob Quinn period left them taking a look at a multi-year rebuild, one that even in a perfect world won’t be prepared to compete till Stafford is likely well into his decrease. Unless Stafford demands remaining in Detroit, which is a decision he can make but need to be fulfilled by an intervention by liked ones, it’s time to proceed.
Who Begins for the Dolphins in Buffalo? : It has to be the Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game, right? The gods of the narrative wouldn’t have it any other way. ( UPDATE: Tua will be the Dolphins’ opener in Week 17.)
Now, if you’ll please join me in the amphitheater, we provide Football Things, previewing the rest of Week 16 …
1.2020 Ben Roethlisberger is beginning to smell a horrible lot like 2015 Peyton Manning, which is a mix of Aqua Velva, Papa John’s garlic sauce and a worrying lack of arm skill.
You might remember the heady days of late 2015, when Manning was benched in November in favor of Brock Osweiler, prior to Osweiler’s lack of competence swung the job back to Manning in the third quarter of that regular-season finale. That season, Manning’s arm strength had fallen below requisite levels for an NFL quarterback– ultimately it was a combination of a traditionally great defense and Jamie Collins’s failure to cover Owen Daniels in the AFC title video game (a performance that guaranteed Collins’s fate as a future Detroit Lion) that resulted in the Broncos’ Super Bowl success.
Fast-forward to 2020 (because nothing of note happened in between then and now, except for Ash Ketchum winning that Aloha region Pokémon title). In his prime, Huge Ben was perhaps the very best pure thrower the sport had actually ever seen; his capability to power the ball downfield properly from various platforms, often with pass-rushers hanging off his waist and/or legs, was otherworldly. Those throws ended up being less frequent as he got in quarterback middle-age– due to both effects of the aging procedure and enhanced capability to identify in the pre-snap stage– and they’ve completely dried up over the previous couple seasons. Roethlisberger’s arm talent hasn’t sunk to the depths that Manning’s when had. Physically, his battle to get the ball downfield appears to be rooted in less torque originating from his core– most likely the result of knee and back disorders. But, really, the chances are being limited by style.
In September, the Steelers revealed a brand-new motion-heavy, horizontal passing attack that differed from anything they ‘d run with Roethlisberger. It worked early in the year when opponents were surprised, however the tape is out there now and no one is getting captured by surprise (see Monday night, when the Bengals safeties were planting a foot at the breeze ready to come crashing down on those shallow crossers). The current play-calling betrays a petrifying worry that Roethlisberger can’t hold up against even the smallest little contact, and the outcome is an offense that hasn’t broadened as the seasons has actually gone on, regardless of it being a necessity.
If there is so much fear of a Roethlisberger injury, the Steelers could keep him on the bench until their next meaningful game, in the Wild-Card round. They don’t have even an Osweilerian backup they can turn to (which raises the concern of why they didn’t make the very little invest to resolve the requirement last offseason– even if it wasn’t going to be Jameis Winston, a Joe Flacco or even a Geno Smith, both signed for less than $2 million, would have been a fit and an upgrade).
Or perhaps Pittsburgh is taking a look at the 2015 Broncos’ unlikely path to a championship– a historically fantastic defense simply overwhelming each of the group’s shortcomings– as the model. That’s a narrow course to success over four games. The more sensible (and more likely) method: At some point, they’re going to have to recalibrate the risk/reward of assaulting downfield and putting Roethlisberger in harm’s way.
2. Consider this your semi-annual suggestion that the Rams have had their way with the Seahawks the previous couple of years, to the tune of eight wins in their last 11 meetings, a 5-2 record in the Sean McVay age, and comfortable wins in their last 2 matchups. If not for Greg Zuerlein shanking a 44- yarder as time ended on a Thursday night last season, L.A. would also have wins in all three trips to Seattle under McVay. And consider this a first-time-ever pointer that if the Rams go to Seattle and win on Sunday, they’ll when again manage the NFC West and nobody will necessarily care that they lost to the Jets (except for Jets fans who root for tanking).
Nevertheless, this matchup will be different than their first conference of2020 Week 10 was the final days of the short-lived “Let Russ Cook” age in Seattle– the Seahawks have called more pass plays than run plays in just one of their five games because that loss (when they were scrambling to play from behind in a loss to the Giants). Because game at SoFi, the Rams all however actually attempted Seattle to run the ball on early downs, showing exceedingly light looks on first downs just to have the Seahawks play right into their hands– Seattle backs ran it 13 times for 51 lawns in a loss that was much more uneven than the 23-16 final score would recommend.
Obviously, the Seahawks’ backs because game were Alex Collins and DeeJay Dallas. For the rematch, Chris Carson (10 th in the NFL in hurrying average, 5.0) and Carlos Hyde will be active, which indicates the Rams are taking their lives into their hands if they dare Seattle to run it. And coming off an underwhelming performance versus the Jets, celebrated first-year defensive organizer Brandon Staley has a much tougher challenge this time around.
3. Finally, this will be a weekly reminder from now up until completion of time– or at least whenever this column is no longer thought about profitable: By executing the novice wage scale in combination with the draft, the NFL has actually created a system in which groups are considerably incentivized to lose video games. Which flies in the face of one of the most basic tenet of competitive sports, that every team is attempting to win.
In light of this, when the next CBA shows up in 2030 the league should either abolish the rookie wage scale– forcing groups to pay something a minimum of resembling market price for top young talent– or better yet, abolish the draft altogether. With a hard salary cap currently in location, groups are not able to stock talent. Provide rookies the option of where to sign rather than, for example, forcing a generational talent to join a dysfunctional and strongly anti-labor small-market franchise. If players truly all want to sign with Kansas City or Miami or Dallas, they’ll be leaving a great deal of money on the table. And, as an included benefit, the annual Rookie Finalizing Night would be the greatest occasion in the history of televised sports.
As it stands today, the Jaguars’ (or Jets’) magnificent run of incompetence is going to be rewarded with a franchise quarterback locked into a contract that, for 3 years, will pay him approximately 25%of his real market value. Not unlike when the entirely inefficient Colts were rewarded with Andrew Luck practically a decade earlier. It’s unjust to the player, the league, the fans, and flies in the face of the spirit of competition.
4. As you may have heard, practically everybody with a consistent number in the 80 s or the teenagers for Cleveland is injured or on the COVID list now. NFL, do the ideal thing and hold off the Browns-Jets video game to Week 18 and press the postseason back a week. We’ll all live. And, maybe more significantly, we may have a Trevor Lawrence Tank-a-Thon clincher for the world to see.
5. Ladies and gentlemen … The Mountain Goats! (A little on-the-nose, I know …)
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