Welcome to this week’s edition of the “3M Report” – a weekly look back at the mayhem, magic and mishaps from around the NFL, focusing on situations and players that caught my eye or made me scratch my head in either awe or disbelief. So let’s take a look at week number four of the NFL season.
Talk about night and day, apparently Eli Manning and the rest of the New York Giants offensive players have settled into the harmonious rhythm of Ben McAdoo’s quick hitting west coast offense. The Giants secondary is also playing stout defense against opposing quarterbacks, something that sets them apart from the rest of their division rivals.
The thud you heard Thursday night was Kirk Cousins plummeting back to earth.
The Jets have no identity on offense and even less continuity – if that’s even possible. They seemingly try to reinvent themselves on every offensive series. Geno Smith has shown lapses in judgment and has certainly made more than his share of turnovers, but I’d also say Marty Mornhinweg’s schizophrenic play calling has been even more detrimental to the offense and certainly helped exacerbate his quarterback’s poor play.
No one – and I mean absolutely no one – has a better “pouty face” than Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler.
Was it my imagination or did Aaron Rodgers spend Sunday afternoon playing 7-on-7 drills with wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson just like they were back in spring OTAs? And while his 2.8 YPC still caused indigestion, it was nice to see Eddie Lacy find the end zone and finish the game with 17 carries.
[inlinead]?Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has quietly put together a very solid start to his second NFL season. Through four games, Hopkins has totaled 25 targets, 18 receptions, 291 yards and three scores and he’s done it all with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Hopkins has decent size (6’1″, 218 lbs.) and adequate speed, but it’s his overall technique, body control and hands which collectively make him so dangerous. Hopkins is also very adept at running a variety of routes and possesses a knack for finding open spaces against zone coverage. My favorite part of his game, however, is his ability to aggressively high point passes a 6’1″ receiver shouldn’t be able to get close to without a ladder. Still only 22 years old, this Texans wide out has a very bright future ahead.
Steve Smith Sr. got his revenge on Sunday. The Baltimore wide receiver torched his former team (Panthers) to the tune of 7-139-2 and the Ravens came away with a resounding 38-10 victory. I said it last week and I’ll say it again, Smith Sr. sets the tone for the entire offense with his toughness, focus and intensity.
I keep waiting for Justin Hunter‘s breakout game, but the Tennessee wide receiver continues to disappoint. Through the first four weeks, Hunter has hauled in just nine of his 26 targets and while some of that inconsistency can be attributed to poor quarterback play, a larger portion is a direct result of Justin’s “stone hands” and lack of focus. As for the rest of the Titans, unless HC Ken Whisenhunt starts to trust rookie running back Bishop Sankey, it appears tight end Delanie Walker is the only Tennessee player who will provide any type of consistent production.
Even though Baltimore rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro finished the day with 58 yards and a score, I didn’t witness the same purpose and determination I saw from him last week. Hopefully Taliaferro brings his A-game and his punishing downhill running style to Indianapolis next Sunday because the Ravens will need to keep Andrew Luck on the sideline as much as possible.
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt is a “breaker of worlds” and should have his own adventure movie in addition to the endless havoc he wrecks throughout the National Football League.
At one time I believed Matthew Stafford was the king of crazy arm angles, but E.J. Manuel has usurped that title. Manuel will throw one pass with text book form only to follow it up with four or five passes using a side arm motion that puts former MLB pitcher Chad Bradford to shame. After watching much of the Bills game I came away with two distinct thoughts – 44 pass attempts is not a good strategy for this team and they have to find ways to get C.J. Spiller into space more often. Sadly, I’ve been saying that about the Bills and Spiller for three years now.
The Steelers, to a man, must be crushed over getting outscored in the fourth quarter 10-0 and losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home. Considering how intense Mike Tomlin can be, his team continues to perform with a lack of discipline on the field.
It was nice to see rookie tight ends Eric Ebron (Detroit) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Tampa Bay) make a little noise yesterday. Rookie tight ends usually take some extra time to get acclimated to the speed of the pro game and this year has been no exception. Ebron finished his game with a stat line of 3-34-1 and ASJ saw seven targets against the Steelers, hauling in three receptions for 41 yards.
Antonio Brown is just soooooo darn good week in and week out. I’ve waxed poetic about my affinity for big, tall wide receivers when it comes to dynasty FF, so from here on out I’m going to pretend AB is really 6’4″ instead of 5’10” just so I don’t have a meltdown.
Whether he meant to or not, Miami head coach Joe Philbin lit a fire under Ryan Tannehill by discussing a potential quarterback change earlier in the week. Tannehill respond by completing 23-of-31 passes for 278 yards and two scores in leading his squad to a 38-14 victory over the Raiders in Wembley Stadium. Of course the Dolphins really couldn’t have asked for a better opponent when it comes to righting the ship offensively.
Thank you Lamar Miller! Thank you for playing well enough to keep Daniel Thomas on the bench for most of the game yesterday.
Ok, let’s talk rookie quarterbacks for a minute. I was impressed (as I’m sure you were) with both Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles in their first NFL starts. I spent most of the Vikings/Falcons game amazed at the poise Bridgewater displayed both in the pocket and on the run. I kept saying over and over again…skinny knees….tiny hands…narrow frame….but wow, can this kid play football and OC Norv Turner certainly knows how to play to Bridgewater’s strengths. Detractors will point to the ankle sprain late in the Vikings’ victory and talk about his frailty, but the bottom line for me is Bridgewater can be a very successful quarterback in the NFL. Bortles also played well (albeit in defeat) and obviously looks the part physically when it comes to playing the quarterback position. He displayed strength and accuracy with his passes and a decisiveness which usually comes with much more experience. He read through his progressions and limited the number of times he stared down his receivers. All in all, both rookie quarterbacks performed extremely well and it makes me wonder why we had to wait until week four to see those two calling signals instead of holding a clipboard.
I wish Jeremy Maclin didn’t play quite so soft. Also, whoever stole the real LeSean McCoy really needs to bring him back…..soon….PLEASE!
I’ve been talking up Jerick McKinnon for weeks and the rookie finally got a chance to show why so many dynasty owners covet this Minnesota running back. McKinnon totaled 135 yards on 18 carries and often flashed his game changing ability. Unfortunately for McKinnon owners, it was the “purple sloth” (Matt Asiata) who found the end zone three times. Hopefully McKinnon’s role will continue to expand as he gains confidence in pass protection.
My one complaint for Norv Turner…..if Jarius Wright can be that dangerous on bubble screens, just think what Cordarrelle Patterson could do with those same opportunities.
Every time I watch Colin Kaepernick, I’m amazed at how he struggles making the easy throws and how easily he makes the impossible throws. He must drive 49er fans absolutely crazy.
Dynasty strategy tidbit – remember that bye weeks create a great trade dynamic within your dynasty leagues. Target owners who may see the upcoming week as a “must win” game to gain an advantage in negotiations. Use this window to move less talented volume guys for long term upside players and/or future draft picks. Also, pay even closer attention to the waiver wire in your leagues. Sometimes owners will drop underperforming upside players from their benches in order to pick up a starter just to cover bye week line ups. Be there waiting to capitalize.
Last thought for week four – what a difference a week makes. The Buccaneers were blown out by the Falcons in week three only to rebound and upset the Steelers, a team who destroyed the Panthers just last week. The Falcons, meanwhile, coming off their big victory last Thursday get beat up by the Vikings this week. The Vikings? Last week they were dismantled by the Saints, the same Saints who just happened to be destroyed by the Cowboys. The Bears manhandled the Jets last week only to get embarrassed by the Packers who looked awful last week against the Lions. It’s amazing how in just one week a team can go from offensive or defensive juggernaut to totally inept and/or dysfunctional. Granted each week brings a new opponent with different strengths and weakness, but this Jekyll and Hyde dynamic we’re seeing Sunday to Sunday is really quite fascinating.
That wraps up this edition of the 3M Report and a look back at week number four of the NFL season. Until next Monday, here’s hoping all your fantasy starters perform well and avoid those nasty injuries. Follow Leo Paciga on Twitter – @FFhoudini[ad5]?
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