Week Three Television Main Events

Today we look at the television main games for week three. There are some interesting story-lines and two potential shootouts.

Sunday Late: Dallas @ Seattle (FOX)

These are two teams that want to get their run games going.

Seattle was 23rd in the league in 2017 in rushing yards per game with 101. They drafted running back Rashaad Penny in round one of the draft.Their 2017 seventh round pick, Chris Carson, returned in 2018 from a season ending injury in 2017. Carson has rushed for an average of 5.8 yards per carry this season which is sixth best for backs with at least 10 carries. Carson runs with power, can make a quick cut and shows good hands. Penny got off to a slow start in game one with only a 1.1 yard average on seven carries. He did have four receptions for 35 yards. He improved in week two averaging 3 yards a carry on ten attempts with a long of 10 yards.  Carson is listed as running back one on the depth chart. Will Penny push to take over that slot?

The Cowboys are 29th in the league in opponent rushing first down percentage (30.6%).  In passing defense the Cowboys are fifth in the league in opponent passing yards per game (183).

Ezekiel Elliot is 14th in the league in rushing average with 4.6 yards per carry for backs with a minimum 10 carries. He is 13th in rushing first down percentage at 25%.  he does have two rushing touchdowns which is tie for sixth in the league. The Seahawks are one of ten teams in the NFL that have yet to give up a 20+ yard running back play. I see these two teams working hard to dominate in the run game.

Sunday Night: New England @ Detroit (NBC)

New head coach Matt Patricia squares off against his former boss Bill Belichick.

Even though the Lions were 9-7 last season and they made the playoffs twice in the last four seasons they felt a coaching change was needed. You have to go back to 1991 since the Lions moved beyond the wild card game in the playoffs. Before Patricia the coach was Jim Caldwell. Caldwell’s record as Lions coach was 36–28 (.563), making him the first Detroit head coach (who lasted at least one season) to have a winning record since 1972. Caldwell’s .563 winning percentage was the best for a Lions’ head coach since the 1950s.  Patricia is now at 0-2 and faces a tough game against the Super Bowl competitor New England Patriots.

Record-setting quarterback Mathew Stafford had a horrible opening game against the Jets. He had four interceptions to one touchdown, a 58.7% completion rate and a 47.9 passer rating. He came back to form in the second game in the loss to the 49ers with a 101.7 passer rating. The Lions lead the league in passing attempts per game with 52.   The Lions may have the most talented three wide receiver set with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. The Patriots now have a talented receiver group with Josh Gordon and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The pass defenses of these teams are not great. The Lions have yielded n opponent passer rating of 117.7 and Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay is questionable after suffering a concussion last Sunday. The Patriots have yielded a better opponent passer rating of 90.7 but have yielded an average 267 passing yards per game (23rd).  This could be a shootout.

Monday Night: Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay (ESPN)

In passing yards per game these teams are ranked number one (TB – 405) and number two (PIT – 377).

Roethlisberger gets there with a combination of number of passing attempts coupled with decent yards per completion and receiver YACs. He leads the league in passing attempts per game (50). Only Lions’ Mathew Stafford is close with 49. Roethlisberger is ninth in yards/completion (12.7 yards). However his completion percentage (61.4%) and passer rating (86.5) are not that impressive. He is aided by two receivers in the top five per receptions – Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers are fifth in passing plays of 20+ yards with 10. However most of those are due to yards-after-the catch by the receivers. Per Pro Football Focus Roethlisberger has attempted 17 passes of 20+ yards and has connected on only three of them for 75 yards. He may be affected by an elbow injury that occurred in week one.

Amazingly Fitzpatrick is 24th in the league in passing attempts per game at 30. He is efficient with a completion percentage of 78.7% which is third in the league. His yards per completion of 17.1 yards is second in the league.  The Buccaneers have the second most passes of 20+ yards (12) and Pro Football Focus lists Fitzpatrick as the top quarterback in Big-Time throws with ten. The next closest is Russell Wilson with seven. The Buccaneer’s  receivers are not on the level of the Steelers but they do have three good receivers in DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Ryan Fitzpatrick has the highest passer rating thru two weeks with a 151.5. A perfect rating is 158.3.  The average passer rating for the first two weeks of the season going back to 2002 hovers in the range of 84 to 92.4. We’ll see Monday if these two teams continue to light it up.

Enjoy the week three games!

 

Intrastate Super Bowl?

Technically there has only been one Super Bowl where both teams were from the same state. It was Super Bowl XXIX on 1/29/1995 between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers. Technically because the Bills-Giants in Super Bowl XXV does not count as the Giants are from New Jersey and the Bills from New York. What teams have a shot to make another intrastate Super Bowl a reality?

California

Los Angeles Rams (2-0)

The Rams are 2-0 and have the largest positive point differential with a whopping +54 points. They have outscored their opponents by 67 to 13. The next closest team in point differential is the Baltimore Ravens with a +33 but they have a 1-1 record.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

Quarterback Philip Rivers is fourth in completion percentage (73.1%) and also in passer rating 119.6 this season. Rivers is a seven-time Pro Bowler with 51,028 career passing yards (9th all time) and 348 passing touchdowns (6th all time).  His career passer rating of 95.1 is 8th all time and his career completion percentage of 64.4% is 9th all time.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

San Francisco running back Matt Breida leads the league in rushing yards (184) and in average per carry (8.4 yards) (for backs with a minimum 5 carries) and in attempts of 20+ yards (3).  The 49ers are third in rushing yards per game (140).

Oakland Raiders (0-2)

According to Pro Football Focus, quarterback Derek Carr’s adjusted completion percentage of 93.8% (accounts for drops, throw aways, etc) against Denver is the highest for any quarterback in the NFL this year. He completed 29 of 32 passes. This season tight end Jared Cook has six receptions of 20+ yards, the most by a tight end.

Florida

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0)

Ninety percent of Keelan Cole’s ten receptions this season made first down. That is fifth best among receivers with a minimum of five receptions.

Miami Dolphins (2-0)

Receiver Jakeem Grant may be the hottest kick returner in the league after two weeks. He had three kickoff returns with all three going 20+ yards and one going 102 yards for a touchdown. He has done four punt returns and has averaged 11.8 yards which includes a 22 yard return. The Dolphins lead the league in lowest opponent passer rating (56.6).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)

The Bucs lead the league in average passing yards (13.4), passing yards per game (405), passing first down percentage (55.7%), passing plays of 40+ yards (4) and in passer rating (151.5).

Maryland

Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

The Ravens lead the league in lowest opponent pass completion percentage with a low 46.7%. They also lead in passes defended with 21.

Washington Redskins (1-1)

The Redskins lead the league in lowest yards per game allowed (247) and lowest passing yards per game allowed (161).

New Jersey

New York Giants (0-2)

According to Pro Football Focus, Saquon Barkley ranks 3rd in yards after contact per attempt (4.38) this season among running backs with a minimum of 15 carries.

New York Jets (1-1)

The Jets are tie for first in the league in interceptions with five.  The five interceptions are spread among the team’s defense with Darron Lee (2) , Jamal Adams, Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne all getting interceptions. They are fourth in the league in passes defended (17). The Jets are third in the league in lowest opponent passer rating (64.7).

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

The Eagles are tie for first in the league in rushing touchdowns with four. Running back Jay Ajayi is tie for first among rushers with three rushing touchdowns.

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1)

Rookie James Connor has been a nice surprise filling in for Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers are tie for first in the league in rushing touchdowns with four. James Connor is tie for first among backs with three of those rushing touchdowns. He had one for 22 yards and the touchdown.

Texas

Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

Dallas is ranked second in the league in sacks with nine for the season. The sacks are spread across eight players. Six of those nine sacks came against the Giants.

Houston Texans (0-2)

Houston leads the league in rushing yards (315). Contributing to that total is quarterback DeShaun Watson with 84 yards rushing ad a team high 6.5 yards per carry. Unfortunately he has had two fumbles on those rushes.

The most likely candidates for an intrastate Super Bowl would be Rams vs Chargers or the Jaguars vs Buccaneers (if FitzPatrick keeps his streak alive). Those two would next be followed by Steelers vs Eagles. But for that game has a load of questions. Will Wentz be back to his old form? Will Roethlisberger and the Steeler defense improve?

Enjoy the week three games!

Top Nine Running Backs in Rookie or 2nd Season in Week One

Here are my top 1-2 year running backs based on week one performance. Both rushes and receptions are counted.

1) Alvin Kamara (NOR)

Kamara had 17 attempts (pass/rush) and had 141 yards, three touchdowns, an 8.3 yard average, a long of 35 yards, two touches of 20+ yards and a 47.1% first down conversion rate.

2 ) Saquon Barkley (NYG)

Barkley had the longest run of all 1-2 year running backs with a 68 yard touchdown run.

3) Austin Ekeler (LAC)

Ekeler had the highest average among 1-2 year backs on combined pass/rush with a 12.6 yard average on 10 attempts. He gained 126 yards and one touchdown. Ekeler had a 60% first down conversion rate.

 

4) Phillip Lindsay (DEN)

Lindsay had 17 attempts (pass/rush) for 102 yards, a 29 yard touchdown reception, a 6 yard average and 35% of his attempts made first down.

5) Joe Mixon (CIN)

Mixon had a run of 20+ yards in each of the two games he has played in and another 20+ pass play. He had

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000961915/Joe-Mixon-escapes-chaos-cuts-back-for-21-yard-gain

6) James Connor (PIT)

Connor had the most rushing attempts (31), rushing yards(135) and rushing touchdowns (2) of all 1-2 year backs. One of his touchdowns was a 22 yard run. He also had five receptions for 57 yards.

7) Chris Carson (SEA)

Though only attempting seven rushes, Carson had a whopping 7.3 yard average per rush which included a 24 yard long rush.

8) Christian McCaffrey (CAR)

McCaffrey had 16 touches for 95 yards averaging 5.9 yards per attempt.

9) Nick Chubb (CLE)

Though only having three attempts Chubb broke a long one of 17 yards.

https://www.clevelandbrowns.com/video/nick-chubb-fights-out-of-the-pack-for-a-big-first-down

 

 

Week One Bottom Ten Teams By Yards

Continuing my previous post on the top ten teams in week one by yards we now look at the bottom ten teams by yards gained and yards allowed.

23. San Francisco 49ers (0-1)

The 49ers rushed for only 90 yards and a 3.6 yard average. Alfred Morris, 49er running back, turned the ball over on a forced fumble in the red zone at the one yard line.

24. Houston Texans (0-1)

DeShaun Watson passed for only 158 yards, had a 50% completion rate and a 62.9 passer rating. He threw only one touchdown to one interception. His average yards per completion was 9.3 yards which was 24th compared to other teams. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble.

25. New Orleans Saints (0-1)

Drew Brees was in a shootout with Ryan Fitzpatrick.  With Saints running back Mark Ingram suspended for So the Saints decided to give up the run game. They had just 13 rushing attempts , the lowest in week one. Their rushing average was only 3.3 yards per carry. Interesting that the Buccaneers did not abandon the run and rushed for 34 attempts which was fifth most in week one. The Buccaneers also averaged only 3.3 yards per attempt. As for the other game aspects you could say both team passing offenses were outstanding or both pass defenses were abysmal. I lean on the side of poor pass defense.

26. Detroit Lions (0-1)

The feel of the game was that the Lions were disastrous. However the Lions did tie the game 17-17 at the top of the third quarter. Then it went to pieces. After tying the game the Lions allowed Sam Darnold to drive the Jets down the field and score a touchdown. The next Lions possession ended in a Stafford interception by Jets Darron Lee for a pick 6. On their ensuing possession the Lions went three and out and punted, That punt was returned by Jet Andre Roberts 78 yards for a touchdown. In 6 minutes on the game clock the Jets had pulled ahead by 21 unanswered points. The Jets would go on to kick a field goal and score another touchdown on a 62 yard run by Isaiah Crowell. The Lions run defense was terrible allowing the Jets to rush for 169 yards, a 4.7  yard average and giving up the Crowell touchdown run. In the passing game Stafford was picked off five times.

27. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

What! The Chiefs! The Chiefs make this list due to the defense. Their pass defense allowed 418 yards (31st) of passing yardage, a 66.7% completion percentage, 45% first down completion and eight passing plays of 20+ yards (32nd). According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Chiefs defense combined to miss 19 tackles. This is tied for the third-most ever recorded by a team on the first week of a season. PFF rated the Chiefs defense as last. Granted they did play Phillip Rivers and the Chargers but still the defense was an area of concern going into the season.

28. Cleveland Browns (0-0-1)

Except for a run game aided by quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Browns ranked poorly in all other aspects. They gave up 313 yards on passing offense (28th) and 41.5% of the Steelers passing attempts made first down. The Browns allowed 159 yards rushing (28th) and a 4.5 yard average. On passing offense the Browns had only 150 yards (27th) and had a passer rating of 51.8.

29. Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

The Cowboys had only 138 yards of passing offense (30th), a 7.3 yards per completion average and only one pass of 20+ yards which was exactly 20 yards. The rushing game was held to 94 yards. Their run defense gave up 147 yards (27th) and two touchdowns.

30. Buffalo Bills (0-1)

The Bills ranked dead last in passing yards with only 70 yards and a 6.3 yard average per completion. Their passer rating was 17. Their completion percentage was a league low 33%.  Bills’ run game ranked 25th with a total 83 yards and a 3.8 yards per carry average. Their defense yards allowed ranked 19th for run defense (117 yards) and 21st for pass defense (252 yards).

31. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

The Seattle Seahawks run defense gave up 146 yards rushing (26th) and a 4.6 yards average. In Passing they gave up 324 yards (29th) and seven pass plays of 20+ yards (30th). Seattle’s run game had only 64 yards rushing (30th). In their passing offense they did gain 242 yards but that was only 14th in the league.

32. Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

Based on yards the Cardinals rank in last place. The best aspect of their game was their pass defense which gave up 247 yards (20th) and a 118 passer rating. The Cardinal passing game gained only 145 yards (29th) and their run game only 68 yards (29th). Their lowest score was for their run defense which gave up a league high 182 yards.

I would say not a lot of surprises. The only three are the Saints, Chiefs and the Seahawks.

The 48 points the Saints allowed Tampa Bay to score is the most the Saints gave up since the middle of 2015. That season they were dead last in points conceded and went 7-9. In 2016 they were 31st in points conceded and again went 7-9. The Saints brought in defensive talent drafting CB Marshon Lattimore, S Marcus Williams and DE Marcus Davenport. They had DE Cameron Jordan. In 2017 the Saints were 10th in points allowed, went 11-5 and made the playoffs. We shall see if this game was just an aberration.

The Chiefs are another high powered offensive team that has defensive problems. In 2017 they were 28th in yards allowed. For the 2018 draft five of their six selections were defensive players with only the last selection being on offense. In the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018 the Chiefs have three players but none on defense.

The Seahawks were 23rd in rushing yards per game in 2017. In the draft they went first round with running back Rashaad Penny. Defensively the Seahawks saw a large departure of defensive talent this offseason. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman, Sheldon Richardson, and Jeremy Lane will all be on new teams or retired in 2018. Safety Kam Chancellor is on the physically unable to perform list. Will the new starters be able to carry on the legacy of the Legion of Boom?

Enjoy the week two games!

Week One Top Ten Teams By Yards

The results are in for week one and here is a snapshot of the teams based on yards achieved and yards allowed. Granted one week is not a good sample size on which to draw conclusions but it does present a picture of what the teams were able to achieve coming together after a full preseason practice. The strength of the opponent is not factored into this analysis. However with parity being rampant in the NFL that may be okay. Just look at the Steelers-Browns game tie to see parity in full force. The analysis paints a picture based solely on yards gained and yards allowed. It is one aspect of analyzing the teams. This snapshot looked at passing and rushing yards achieved by the offense as well as passing and rushing yards allowed by the defense.  Here are the results.

The Top Ten

Eight of the top ten teams won in week one. The Steelers were the only team that tied and the Chargers were the only team that lost.

10. New England Patriots (1-0)

The Patriots excelled in pass defense allowing only 158 net passing yards which was ranked 8th  in the league. Edge rushers Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise had 1.5 sacks apiece. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore had an interception in the end zone. DeShaun Watson had a 62.9 passer rating. The Patriots allowed only 23.5% of passing attempts to achieve a first down and limited Watson to only one pass of 20+ yards.

9. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

The Vikings limited the 49ers to 90 yards rushing and a 3.6 yard average in the Viking victory. The longest rushing play allowed was only 14 yards. The 90 yards allowed was ranked ninth in the league. Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph had four tackles and a forced fumble.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

The Bucs excelled in both pass offense and run defense. The Saints did give up the run game to match FitzPatrick’s passing with their own. The Saints had the lowest rushing attempts in the league (13). Nevertheless the Bus did hold the Saints run game to an average of 3.3 yards and a long of 10 yards. In the passing game FitzPatrick had the league highest passer rating (156.2), highest passing 1st downs per attempt (60.7%), most 20+ yard passes (8 – tie), most passing touchdowns (4 – tie) and the third best completion percentage (75%). Jameis Winston watch out.

7. New York Jets (1-0)

Even though Sam Darnold had a good debut the real strength of the Jets was their run game and run defense. Like the Saints the Lions abandoned their run game to keep up with the Jets. The Lions had the second lowest rushing attempts (15). However the Jets did hold the Lions run game to a measly 2.6 yard average, a long of nine yards and a 13.3% first down conversion rate.  In the run game the Jets rushed for a league third highest 36 attempts and 169 yards. They averaged 4.7 yards per carry and had a long of 62 yards for a touchdown. Isaiah Crowell rushed for 10  attempts, 102 yards and two touchdowns. Bilal Powell had 12 attempts for 60 yards.

6. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)

The Chargers are the only team to make the top ten and lose their game. The Chargers were second in passing yards (418), third in passing touchdowns (3), third in passing first down conversions (45%), tie for first in 20+ yard passing plays (8) and ninth in passer rating (103.7). Phillip rivers’ 66.7% completion percentage was ranked 10th in the league. The Chargers run game and run defense were decent. Melvin Gordon rushed for 64 yards on 15 attempts. The Chargers averaged 5.6 yards per rush and had a 31.8% first down conversion rate on rushing attempts. Their pass defense is where things went bad. Patrick Mahomes threw for 256 yards, four touchdowns and had six passing plays of 20+ yards.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)

The Steelers had a tie against the Browns and are the only other team in the top ten besides the Chargers that did not have a win. The Steelers turned the ball over six times in the game. It is amazing that the Steelers got a tie with that many turnovers. If one can get past the six turnovers the Steelers had a dominant game in passing, rushing and pass defense. The Steelers passed for 313 net yards (5th), had a 41.5% first downs per passing attempts (7th) and had four pass plays of 20+ yards (8th).  In the run game the Steelers with James Connor rushed for 159 yards (5th), averaged 4.5 yards per carry (12th) and had two rushing touchdowns (2nd). The pass defense limited the Browns to 150 passing yards (6th) and 15% first down conversion on passing attempts (1st). Tyrod Taylor was limited to a 51.8 passer rating (5th). The Steelers were up 21-7 going into the fourth quarter after  the three interceptions. The Steelers gave up 177 yards in run defense (31st),  26% first down rushing conversion (24th) and two rushing touchdowns (26th).

4. Carolina Panthers (1-0)

The Panthers held the Cowboys scoreless until the fourth quarter. They the gave up one touchdown and a two-point conversion. The Panthers limited Dallas to 138 yards passing (3rd), a 5.9 yard average per pass attempt (11th) and had six sacks (2nd). In the offensive run game the Panthers had two rushing touchdowns. Cam Newton had the long run of 29 yards and one rushing touchdown. Christian McCaffrey had 10 attempts for 50 yards and a long of 15 yards. He also had six receptions for 46 yards and a long of 14 yards. The Panthers limited Ezekiel Elliott to 69 yards rushing and 17 yards receiving.

3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

The Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman could probably not have gone up against a tougher secondary than his disastrous opener. The Ravens secondary as covered in this prior post  is one of the more formidable secondaries.  The conditions of heavy rain and wind were not inducive to passing. Irregardless the Ravens held the Bills to 70 net yards passing which was the lowest in week one across the NFL. The Bills’ quarterbacks were sacked six times and had a combined passer rating of 17.1, the lowest in week one. The Raven’s run defense was also good holding the Bills to 83 yards rushing, a 3.8 yard average and a 13.6% first down conversion on rushing plays. The Ravens had a good passing offense with 252 yards passing, 68% completion percentage, three passing touchdowns, five pass plays of 20+ yards and a 113.9 passer rating.

2. Denver Broncos (1-0)

The Broncos held the Seahawks to 64 yards rushing with a 4.0 yard average and a league low 6.3% on first down conversions. Denver linebacker Von Miller forced two fumbles and recovered one of them. The Broncos had 324 yards net passing yardage (4th), three passing touchdowns, three interceptions and a 38.5% first down conversion on passing attempts. Case Keenum solidifies his choice as starting quarterback and quells any quarterback controversy for now. In addition the Broncos, led by rookies Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay,  rushed for 146 yards with a 4.6 yard average and a 25% first down conversion percentage on attempts.

1. Washington Redskins (1-0)

This was a surprise! The Redskins lead the top ten excelling in the run game and defense. The Redskins had a league high 182 yards rushing on a high 42 rushing attempts and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Newly signed Adrian Peterson was a workhorse rushing for 26 attempts and getting his 100th career rushing touchdown. The Redskins held Arizona to 145 yards passing (4th) and 68 yards rushing (4th). The Redskins do have a strong defensive front seven as covered in this post.

That is the top ten teams based on yards gained and allowed for week one. There were a few surprises for me. Those being the Buccaneers with a backup quarterback, the Jets with a rookie quarterback, the Broncos with “one year wonder” Case Keenum and the Redskins with the loss of Derrius Guice. They are off to a good start and have overcome adversity or the odds to get there.

I plan on putting out the bottom ten from week one before the Sunday games. So check back.

Enjoy the game tonight between the Ravens and the Bengals! The Ravens secondary should be tested a little more this week with A.J. Green.

 

 

Up-and-Coming Week One NFL Standouts

Following the quarterback padawan theme of my prior post, I expanded my search for a first to third year player at each position that stood out in week one.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes (KAN – 2nd year)

Known for his arm strength, deep ball passing and extending the play from college Mahomes did not disappoint in his 2018 season opener. He completed six pass plays of 20+ yards on only 27 attempts (22%). Mahomes had four touchdowns to zero interceptions.  Admittedly two of those four touchdown passes were more like hand-offs down near the goal line that counted as forward passes. According to Pro Football Focus, Mahomes average depth of target was 14.6 yards downfield. The highest single season mark for the last decade is 13.4. Mahomes had the fourth highest passer rating (127.5) in week one. He should be an exciting quarterback to watch.

Running Back Phillip Lindsay (DEN – Rookie)

Undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay is nominated for Rookie Player of the Week. He is the only nomination that was not a round one draft selection. Lindsay rushed for 71 yards on 15 attempts for a 4.7 yard average. As his long was 14 yards, his average was not overly inflated on one big play. He also caught two passes for 31 yards including a 29 yard touchdown reception. the 29 yard touchdown pass was a dump-off at the line of scrimmage.

Wide Receiver Kenny Golladay (DET – 2nd year)

In a disastrous opening day for the Lions one of the bright spots was the play of receiver Kenny Golladay. Golladay had seven receptions for 114 yards and a 16.3 yard average. Two of the receptions were for 20+ yards and six of the seven made first down. Golladay was the leading receiver on the Lions and accounted for 38% of the Lions receiving yards. He also forced a turnover with his hit on a Matt Stafford interception. Golladay was a 3rd round pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

Tight End Will Dissly (SEA – Rookie)

Selected in the fourth round of the draft for being viewed as the best blocking tight end, Will Dissly also showed that he has good hands. He was the leading receiver on the Seahawks and accounted for 35% of the receiving yards. Dissly had 105 yards receiving on just three receptions. Each reception made a first down and he had a long of 66 yards and one touchdown.

The next two players are from the Denver Broncos’ offensive line. In their win on Sunday the Broncos had the fourth most passing yards (324), the seventh most rushing yards (146) and the tenth best rushing average (4.6 yards). The one sack they gave up put them in the top eleven teams for sacks allowed. All five starters played all 74 snaps and the offensive line had zero penalties.

Offensive Tackle Garett Bolles (DEN – 2nd year)

A first round draft pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Bolles made All PAC-12 first team his senior season and the PFWA All-Rookie team in 2017. Bolles is an athletic  tackle. At his 2017 combine he finished first and second among offensive linemen in the forty, 3-cone, broad jump and 20 yard shuttle. His NFL draft profile says ” plays with a mean streak and loves to finish”.

Offensive Guard Connor McGovern (DEN – 3rd year)

Connor McGovern Combine
Connor McGovern Combine

McGovern is another athletic lineman. His 2016 NFL draft profile stated that he is one of the strongest players in college football. McGovern has broken weight room records at Missouri. He was chosen in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft.  He is said to have a great work ethic and is competitive and aggressive on the field.

 

Defensive End DeForest Buckner (SF – 3rd year)

In week one Buckner led defensive linemen in sacks and tied for first in total tackles among defensive linemen. He was third across all position groups in sacks with 2.5. Buckner was the seventh pick in the 2016 draft. He was the third defensive player selected with the first two being Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey. Buckner made the 2016 PFWA NFL All-Rookie Team. He led all NFL defensive lineman with 1,108 snaps on the 2016 season and ranked second with 73 tackles. His six sacks ranked fourth among rookies. In 2017 Buckner’s tackles (45) and sacks (3)  significantly decreased. There were high expectations coming out of the 2016 NFL draft for Buckner. Per his nfl.com draft profile one NFC scout said “”His comp is going to be Calais Campbell or Arik Armstead but I think he’s more talented coming out than either one of those guys.”

Defensive Tackle Larry Ogunjobi (CLE – 2nd year)

Ogunjobi lined up against Steeler two-time first-team All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey in week one and came away with seven tackles and a sack.  The seven tackles was tie for a league high among defensive linemen. He was one of only eleven defensive tackles that had one or more sacks and one of only two defensive tackles with seven tackles. Larry went to college at North Carolina-Charlotte which was just starting a football program. He started every game in the school’s history and led the team in tackles for loss in each of his four seasons.

Linebacker Cory Littleton (LAR -3rd year)

Littleton led the Rams with 13 total tackles. He also recorded an interception and one pass defensed. His eleven solo tackles was tie for first among league linebackers.  Littleton played all 74 defensive snaps in the Rams victory over the Raiders.  Cory signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2016 draft. His rookie year he made 13 special teams tackles en route to winning the team’s Carrol Rosenbloom Memorial Award as the Rams’ top rookie.  In 2017 he started four games and had an interception off of Marcus Mariotta. This year he has taken on the starting role and the defensive signal caller following the trade of Alec Ogletree to the Giants.

Safety John Johnson (LAR – 2nd year)

Johnson had nine tackles (six solo), two passes defended and one interception in the Rams victory over the Raiders. Johnson was a third round pick in the 2017 NFL draft.  He started 11 games his rookie year and had 53 tackles, 11 passes defended and one interception.  In 2017 he was graded solidly in both run defense (72.8) and pass coverage (82.9) by Pro Football Focus.

Cornerback Denzel Ward (CLE – Rookie)

Ward had two interceptions and three additional passes defended in his rookie debut. He ties three other players for most interceptions in week one and is the only rookie among the four players. Ward also had six tackles (2 solo). Ward was the fourth overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft. In his junior year in college in 2017 he was a consensus All-American.

Special Teams Jakeem Grant  (MIA – 3rd year)

Grant returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. That was one of only two kickoff returns for touchdowns in week one. In college Grant had a career four kickoff returns for touchdowns. In his senior year Grant had a kickoff return of at least 30 yards in 8 of 12 games including a 103-yard touchdown return.

 

 

Most Likely Padawan Quarterback ….

Today we look again at our rookie and second year quarterbacks to see which ones are the most likely padawan quarterback….

Free agent that deserves another shotJack Heneghan.

Dartmouth Career Ranks
Jack Heneghan Dartmouth Career Ranks

Heneghan signed as an undrafted free agent with the 49ers. Finally getting a chance to play in the last preseason game, Heneghan completed eight of nine pass attempts for 58 yards. He engineered a 16-play, 90-yard touchdown drive late in the game to give the 49ers a lead. Heneghan had a passer rating of 93.5. He even  salvaged a botched snap, picking the ball up and rushing it up the middle for a 10-yard gain. Heneghan was under center for two of the 49ers’ three touchdown drives on the night.

Heneghan is in the top five of seven Dartmouth career passing records and seventh in pass attempts. He earned All-Ivy League Honorable Mention at quarterback in 2017. Heneghan has been praised by high school, college and NFL coaches for his work ethic.

Practice Squad player to be promoted or snatched – Phillip Walker (Colts)

Walker was one of the top quarterback padawans in the preseason. He completed 61% of his 49 passing attempts. Walker had an average of 9.1 yards per pass attempt and 14.9 yards per completion. He had eight passes of 20+ yards which was tie for second most among padawans. Walker had a preseason passer rating of 101 and 39% of his pass attempts made first down. He had four touchdowns to two interceptions.

A 2017 undrafted free agent, Walker is the Temple Owls all-time leader in wins by a starting quarterback (28), passing yards, passing touchdowns,  completions, attempts, total yards and total touchdowns. Walker led the Owls to their first conference title in 49 years (2016) and their first ever back-to-back bowl appearances in school history (2015 and 2016).

Walker was awarded a single digit jersey his senior year which are awarded to the team’s toughest players as voted on by the players. He was a four-year starter and started 47 consecutive games since earning the starting job midway through his freshman year.

In the final game of his Temple career sometime in the 1st quarter Walker injured the right ring finger of his throwing hand. The finger had gone all the way up into his hand. It appeared to be broken. He pulled it back into place and continued playing. Walker kept competing and fighting as his team, once behind by 24 points, got to within five with under four minutes left. They wound up losing 26-34.

At Temple Walker went 28-19 as a starter with each year improving with two Bowl games and the final year winning the conference championship. Some may be put off by his height being only 5’11” but he is tough and a competitor. Temple coach Matt Rhule – “We put the ball in his hands to win the game.”

This scouting report from twoqbs.com:

“Walker’s best fit in the NFL will be on a team that embraces his athletic ability and his arm talent as a deep passer. Walker, albeit undersized, is an above-average athlete with a strong arm. He has the rushing ability and arm talent to be a threat on third-and-long, and that alone sets him above many others in his tier of quarterback. As a passer, Walker does his best work as an intermediate and deep passer, largely due to his impressive velocity. Walker’s mechanics too often get in the way of his accuracy, but his process from snap to throw is that of a high quality backup or serviceable starter.”

Non-Starter to Start – Chad Kelly

Chad Kelly moved up from the third string quarterback into the backup spot this preseason bypassing first round draft pick Paxton Lynch. Lynch was subsequently released. Kelly had the best passer rating (92.8) and completion percentage (66.7%) among Bronco quarterbacks in the preseason. He averaged 7.8 yards per attempt and 11.7 yards per completion. Kelly had five passes of 20+ yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Chad had a bad end to his college career at Clemson with an argument with coaches, off field fights, and injury. Kelly transferred to Ole Miss where he had two good years before a torn ACL sidelined him for the final 3 games of 2016. Kelly has a quick release, makes quick decisions, has a strong arm and has been referred to a a gunslinger or “baller”. At Ole Miss Kelly has career records of second in completion percentage (64) and third in passer efficiency rating (152.3). He is third all time in passing yards and passing TDs.

Kelly has matured since his rambunctious early college days. Here is Kelly in a 9News interview this preseason. “It’s the NFL and you’re the head man of a Fortune 500 company. You’ve got to act like, and approach every day, like you’re the boss and you want to be the man. You’ve got to come in with a level head. Keep on working hard and get those guys around me to follow suit.’’

I feel Kelly gives the highest probability of the quarterback/backup combinations. The quarterbacks looking over there shoulder seeing a young padawan are

  • Chad Kelly/Case Keenum
  • Nathan Peterman/ Josh Allen
  • Joe Flacco/Lamar Jackson
  • Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield
  • Sam Bradford/Josh Rosen

Starting quarterback to excel – Patrick Mahomes

Mahomes had the best preseason of starting padawan quarterback. He had a 72% completion rate on 43 attempts. His average yards per attempt was 8.5 and his average yards per completion was 11.8. He had three passes of 20+ yards with one going 40+ yards. His passer rating was 103.5. Thirty-seven percent of his pass attempts made first down and he had two touchdowns to one interception.

Offensively Mahomes has a strong supporting roster. The chiefs have Kareem Hunt at running back and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill. They also have tight end Travis Kelce. Pro Football Focus ranked their offensive line as 18th going into 2018. “The Chiefs are the definition of a solid, if unspectacular, unit.” – Pro Football Focus.

In week 17 of the 2017 season with a playoff spot secured the Chiefs started Mahomes for his debut. He helped lead the Chiefs to a victory over Denver 27-24. Mahomes is recognized for a very strong arm and can make throws with velocity and accuracy. Patrick also has a strong work ethic. In Texas Tech career records Mahomes is third in passing yards (11,252), first in adjusted yards/attempt (8.8), third in passing touchdowns (93) and fourth in passing efficiency rating (over 100 attempts) with 152. He is four times on the Texas Tech passing yards top ten records list with games of 734 (1st), 598 (5th), 586 (6th) and 540 yards (10th). His 734 yard passing game tied the FBS record. Mahomes also threw 5 touchdowns in the game loss (66-59) to Oklahoma. “Someone told me (about tying the passing record) in the locker room,” Mahomes said. “But, like I said, we didn’t win the game, so it really didn’t matter.” At the combine Mahomes scored in high all time percentile for 20 yard shuttle (93%), 3-cone drill (84%) and broad jump (73%).

The other padawan staring quarterbacks are Sam Darnold, Nathan Peterman, Deshaun Watson, and Mitch Trubisky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quarterback Newbies Opening in Week One

Opening week NFL season will see five quarterback padawans (1st-2nd year players) starting. All five play on teams that are the underdog in the match-up. Statistics of how they play will be tossed around. Quarterback stats are great for comparing quarterbacks. But to me the real measure of a great quarterback is in his win record. The great ones come thru in the clutch. They find a way to win games. They keep their teams in the game.

Here are the top ten most winningest quarterbacks of all time. Six of the ten are in the Hall of Fame. Another one will be eligible in 2021 and will probably be a first ballot vote in. The other three are still playing and will all make the Hall of Fame with two of those three probably first ballots.

  1. Tom Brady                  223 wins
  2. Peyton Manning      200 wins
  3. Brett Favre                 199  wins
  4. John Elway                 162 wins
  5. Dan Marino               155 wins
  6. Drew Brees               149 wins
  7. Ben Rothlisberger    148 wins
  8. Joe Montanna         133 wins
  9. Fran Tarkenton        130 wins
  10.  Johnny Unitas         124 wins

So with that in mind lets look at the chances of these quarterback newbies getting a win this weekend.

9/9 Sunday 1:00 BUF vs BAL (Home)

BUF QB Nathan Peterman
Favorite: BAL by -7
Peterman will have a tough go to move the ball on this Ravens defense. The Raven’s secondary is one of the best and deepest n the league. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is out due to suspension. However the projected starters of cornerback Brandon Carr, strong safety Tony Jefferson, free safety Eric Weddle will be joined by cornerback 2017 first-round pick Marlon Humphrey. In 2017 Humphrey played in 16 games and quarterbacks had a 53.5 passer rating when targeting Humphrey. That was the fifth lowest in the league amng cornerbacks. Humphrey was one of 12 cornerbacks who did not give up a touchdown all season. The Ravens are also strong at run defense. Pro Football Focus ranked them as sixth best against the run. Their missed tackle percentage on run plays for 2017 was 10% which was 5th best in the league. I don’t see Peterman leading the Bills to a victory.
Prediction: Loss for Bills and Peterman.

9/9 Sunday 1:00 HOU vs NE (Home)

HOU QB DeShaun Watson
Favorite: NE by -6
I see Deshaun Watson and the Texans pulling off the upset in Foxboro. I give the edge to the Texans in defense, run game and the passing game. The Texans eased Watson into the preseason on his return from the ACL injury that ended his rookie season after seven games. Watson was having a successful rookie season and made the PFWA All-Rookie Team. Watson has the slight edge in receivers with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. The Patriots have wide receiver Chris Hogan and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Texans have the better running back in Lamar Miller over Patriot new addition Jeremy Hill. Overall I give a slight edge to the Texan defense over the Patriots defense. With defensive ends JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney the Texans should put pressure on Brady.
Prediction: Win for Watson and the Texans

9/9 Sunday 4:05 KC vs LAC (Home)

KC QB Patrick Mahomes
Favorite: LAC by -3
These two teams are loaded at wide receivers. I give the slight edge to the Chargers as they have three elite receivers (Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin) to the Chiefs two (Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill). The running back advantage goes to the Chiefs (Kareem Hunt) over the Chargers (Melvin Gordon). Chief tight end Travis Kelce excels at the tight end position over the Chargers even if just signed Antonio Gates plays for the Chargers. The defense advantage goes to the Chargers with players like defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and cornerback Casey Hayward. Mahomes can escape pressure and in college Mahomes totaled more rushing touchdowns than Deshaun Watson over his final two years of college. Patrick Mahomes looked good in the preseason completing 72% of his passes and having a passer rating of 103.5.
Prediction: Win for Mahomes and the Chiefs

9/9 Sunday CHI vs GB (Home)

CHI QB Mitchell Trubisky
Favorite: GB by -7.5

Trubisky was thrown into the fire his 2017 rookie season after Mike Glennon was benched for a 1-3 start. Trubisky went 4-8 with a 77.5 passer rating, 59% completion rate and seven passing touchdowns to seven interceptions. He rushed for 248 yards averaging 6 yards a carry and had two rushing touchdowns. Trubisky had ten fumbles with three lost. In the 2018 preseason Trubisky did nothing to standout. On 18 attempts he had a 61% completion percentage, a 70 passer rating, an average yards per attempt of 5.2 and an average years per completion of 8.5.  Only 22% of his pass attempts made first down and he had no passes of 20+ yards. He had one passing touchdown and one interception.

The defensive edge goes to the Bears. There is a question as to how much each will play due to late starts but linebackers Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith should vastly improve the Bear’s linebacker roster. The Bears were in the top ten teams in minimum yards per game allowed in 2017. Offensive weapons wise,  I give the edge to the Bears. They have elite weapons in running back Jordan Howard, receiver Allen Robinson (if healthy) and tight end Trey Burton. The Bear’s offensive line is not as good as the Packers. However they are not far off. The big difference is the quarterbacks with Aaron Rodger having the significant advantage based on past performance. However Rodgers could be a tad rusty and he does not have a great supporting team.

Prediction: Trubisky and the Bears pull the upset and win.

9/10 Monday NYJ vs DET (Home)

QB Sam Darnold
Favorite: DET by -6.5

Sam Darnold did okay in the preseason but not great. Teddy Bridgewater was better but that is water under the bridge so to speak. So Sam gets the start. The Jets have one of the worst pass rush defenses in the league and Detroit has a top ten ranked receiver corp with Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay. Add to that the Jets secondary is nothing exceptional with the exception of safety Jamal Adams. On the flip side the Lions secondary is pretty good with Darius Slay and Glover Quinn. I do not see Sam Darnold being able to keep up with Mathew Stafford. Darnold averaged just 8.4 yards per completion in the preseason and had zero passes of 20+ yards. The Jets should have the advantage in the run game. However it will not be enough to keep up with Detroit.

Prediction: Loss for Darnold and the Jets.

Enjoy the Games!

Quarterback Padawans Revisited Following Preseason week Four

(This article is constantly being updated the week of the cut-down to 53 as rosters and practice squads are still fluid).

We revisit the rookie and second year quarterbacks to see who has excelled for the full preseason. The previous week raking is shown in parenthesis following the name (NR=Not ranked, HM=Honorable Mention). There are now 14 up from 12 as more quarterbacks were introduced in week four. I list the top 33%.

The Top Fourteen

1 ) Steeler Joshua Dobbs (1) finished the preseason in game four going 8 of 12 for 151 yards, one passing touchdown, three rushing attempts for 18 yards and an additional rushing touchdown. He had one fumble. Dobbs had the best preseason quarterback rating of all Steeler quarterbacks. I would not be surprised if the Steelers cut or trade Landry Jones and keep Roethlisberger, Dobbs and third rounder Mason Rudolph on the 53 man roster.

2) Buffalo Nathan Peterman (2) did not play in game four. His preseason passer rating of 124.7 was fifth best in the league. He was tied for third most passing plays of 20+ yards (8). Peterman led the league in preseason completion percentage (80.5% on 41 attempts).  He is listed on the Bills depth chart as 1st string with AJ McCarron. It looks like Peterman should be the day one starter.

3) Colt Phillip Walker (3)  had the highest preseason passer rating among the Colts quarterbacks (101.2 with 49 passing attempts). In the week four game he was 19 of 31 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran four times for 20 yards and lost one fumble. He is currently QB3 on the depth chart behind Luck and Jacoby Brissett. I would not be surprised if the Colts kept all three on their 53 man roster.

4) Chief Patrick Mahomes (5) finished the preseason with a 72% completion percentage and a 103.5 passer rating. Both best among Chiefs quarterbacks. Mahomes is the Chiefs starter.

5) Bronco Chad Kelly (4) has beaten out Paxton Lynch to secure the quarterback backup spot. This as announced by coach Vance Joseph and confirmed by John Elway. Kelly had the best passer rating (92.8) and completion percentage (66.7%) among Bronco quarterbacks in the preseason.

6) Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (NR) will most likely be QB3 on the 53 man roster. The Saints traded for Teddy Bridgewater. Hill plays a valuable role on special teams. Saints quarterback coach Joe Lombardi before the trade – “I think he’s (Hill) going to be on special teams regardless,” . Hill’s preseason stats include a 73.5% completion percentage on 49 attempts, five passes of 20+ yards and a 90.9 passer rating.

7) Chief Chase Litton (7) for the preseason was 24 of 41 for 299 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions. He was 39% on pass plays 1st down conversion, had 3 pass plays of 20+ yards and had a passer rating of 89.4. Litton is fourth on the Chiefs current depth chart for quarterback. However he is third in preseason passer rating pushing Matt McGloin for a third quarterback spot.

8) Packer DeShone Kizer (9) looks to maintain the backup role as he finished with the second best preseason passer rating on the Packers trailing Aaron Rodgers. Kizer had four passes of 20+ yards in the preseason with two being for 40+ yards. He had three touchdowns and one interception.

9) Brown’s Baker Mayfield (10) started off very strong week one making the number one spot. While he didn’t continue that outstanding performance he was in the top 10 every week.He finishes the preseason at number 9, tops among the 2018 round 1 quarterbacks and only second to Mahomes for round 1 picks in the last two drafts. Mayfield had a league high 10 preseason passes of 20+ yards.

10) Brown’s Brogan Roback (NR)had a nice week four game going 7 of 14 for 130 yards and one touchdown.  His preseason passer rating was 97.5.  Roback was cut by the Browns on Friday August 31st in a first pass at trimming the roster.

11) Steeler Mason Rudolph  (NR) went 5 of 9 for 102 yards and two touchdowns  and a 135 passer rating in the week four game. He had four passes of 20+ yards in the preseason and had a 90.6 passer rating for the preseason. If the Steelers do not want to risk a third round draft pick on the practice squad they may wind up cutting Jarvis Landry and keeping Dobbs and Rudolph on teh 53 man roster.

12) Viking Kyle Sloter (11) had a 114  preseason passer rating on 56 attempts which ranked eight.1 passer rating. h in the league and tops among Viking quarterbacks. He also had a 73.2% completion percentage, four touchdowns and zero interceptions for the preseason. He could challenge Trevor Siemian for the backup quarterback role behind Kirk Cousins.

13) Panther Kyle Allen (NR) finally got to play in week four and he made the most of it. He was 25 of 36 for 250 yards, one touchdown and a 98.1 passer rating. He is currently fourth on the Panthers depth chart. The competition between Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke and Garrett Gilbert is a close one.

14) Seahawk Alex McGough (8) had six passes of 20+ yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the preseason. McGough was in the top 12 padawans for each of the last three weeks. Brett Hundley was traded in as the backup quarterback. It is a close competition between McGough and Austin Davis for a third quarterback spot or McGough could go on practice squad.  In college McGough was a four year starter at FIU and only missed 3 games due to injury. Alex holds multiple FIU passing and total offense records.

Most Improved

From week one preseason to the final game which players showed the biggest improvement.

Chief Patrick Mahomes started off slow in week one completing 5 of 7 passes for an average of 4.7 yards per attempt and 6.6 yards per completion.  He had zero touchdowns and zero passing plays of 20+ yards. Only 29% of his passing plays went for a 1st down and his passer rating was 81. By week four his cumulative stats were he had completed 31 of 43 with an  average of 8.5 yards per attempt and 11.8 yards per completion. Now 37% of his passing plays were for a 1st down. He had two touchdowns, three passing plays of 20+ yards and a passer rating of 103.5.

In week one Raven Lamar Jackson had a 39% completion percentage on 28 attempts. He averaged 5.4 yards per pass attempt and 13.8 yards per completion. He had one touchdown with one interception, a 21% first down conversion rate on passing plays, three passing plays of 20+ yards and a passer rating of 54.5. His week four cumulative stats included a 50% completion percentage on 68 attempts, a 6.0 yards per pass attempt average and 12 yards per completion. He had three passing touchdowns to one interception, a 25% 1st down conversion rate and six passing plays of 20+ yards. His passer rating was 77.3.

In week one Joshua Dobbs completed 9 of 13 passes (69%) for an average of 7 yards per attempt and 10 yards per completion. He had one touchdown to one interception, he converted 31% of his passing attempts to first down.  He had one pass play of 20+ yards and a passer rating of 82.5. By week four his cumulative stats were he completed 29 of 43 attempts (67%) with an average of 10 yards per attempt and 15 yards per completion. He had four touchdowns to two interceptions, he converted 40% of his passing attempts to first downs, he had eight passing plays of 20+ yards and a passer rating of 112.

Under Performing Expectations

Which young quarterbacks that had high expectations have not played up to those expectations in the preseason.

Texan Deshaun Watson has made 9 completions on a total of 15 attempts for a 60% completion percentage.  He has averaged 6.1 yards per attempt and 10.2 yards per completion. He has one touchdown to one interception. Thirty three percent of his passing attempts go for a first down. He has two passing plays of 20+ yards and zero of 40+ yards. His passer rating is 72.1.

Bear Mitchell Trubisky has completed 11 of 18 attempts (61%) with an average of 5.2 yards per attempt and 8.5 yards per completion. Twenty-two percent of his pass attempts go for a first down. He has one touchdown to one interception. Trubisky has zero passing plays of 20+ yards. His passer rating is 70.1.

Most Regressed

Which young quarterbacks started off good in week one but by the end of the preseason their cumulative production had regressed.

Cowboy Cooper Rush started week one 15 of 23 (65.2%) with a 6.3 average yards per attempt and 9.7 average yards per completion. He converted 34.8% of his pass attempts for 1st down and had one touchdown to zero interceptions. He had 1 passing play of 20+ yards and a 97.2 passer rating. His cumulative stats by week four included being 46 of 74 (62.2%) with a 4.8 yard average per attempt and a 7.8 average per completion. Cooper had one touchdown to four interceptions. He was converting 23% of his passing attempts to first downs. He still only had the one passing play of 20+ yards and his passer rating was 56.

Titan Luke Falk started week one as 10 of 19 (52.6%) with a 5.5 yards per pass attempt and a 10.5 yards per pass completion. He had one touchdown to zero interceptions. Twenty-six percent of his passing attempts were for a first down. He had one passing play of 20+ yards and a 86.5 passer rating. By week four his cumulative stats include being 32 of 58 (55.2%) with a 5.1 yards per pass attempt average and a 9.3 yards per completion average. He still only had the one touchdown but added one interception. Twenty-five point nine percent of his passing attempts made a first down. He had three passing plays of 20+ yards and a passer rating of 67.9.

Packer Tim Boyle started week one as 7 of 15 (46.7%) with an 8.7 yards per attempt average and 18.6 yards per completion average. He had two touchdowns with zero interceptions. One third of his pass attempts made first down. He had two pass plays of 20+ yards with one for 40+ yards. His passer rating was 116.7. By week four his cumulative stats included 26 of 53 (49.1%) with a 5.5 yards per attempt average and a 11.3 yards per completion average. He now had three touchdowns to two interceptions. Twenty eight percent of his pass attempts made first down. He now had four pass plays of 20+ yards with still only the one of 40+ yards. His passer rating was was 69.2.

But What About ….

Who are the quarterbacks that we expected to see more of in this series but did not appear much? What happened with them?  They did okay. They did not do bad and therefore were not highlighted. However they did not either excel.

Cardinal Josh Rosen has a cumulative 55% completion percentage, a 5.1 yards per attempt average, a 9.3 yards per completion average, 31% of his passing attempts go for a 1st down, he has two passing plays of 20+ yards and zero of 40+ yards, he has one touchdown to zero interceptions and an 80.8 passer rating all on 29 passing attempts. Except for the touchdowns to interceptions nothing else stands out as excelling. Even the touchdowns is low compared to other padawans.

Jet Sam Darnold was 29 of 45 (64.4%) with a 5.4 yard average per attempt and a 8.4 yard average per completion. He had two touchdowns to one interception and one third of his pass attempts went for a first down. He had no pass plays of 20+ yards and had a passer rating of 83.9. Of the top fourteen padawans all had at least three pass plays of 20+ yards except for Kyle Allen. Allen at least had a 6.6 yard average per attempt and a 10 yard average per completion. I would expect a “franchise” quarterback to push the ball more downfield.

Buffalo Bill Josh Allen was 24 of 44 (54.5%) with an average of 4.8 yards per attempt and 8.8 yards per completion. He had two touchdowns to zero interceptions and 20.5% of his pass attempts made a first down. He had three pass plays of 20+ yards and was sacked seven times. His passer rating was 82.6. The only statistic that stands out is the two touchdowns to zero interceptions. Otherwise everything else is just okay.

And the Cuts Begin

The following quarterback padawans had been cut in the process of reducing rosters to the required 53. I will update this list as the cuts progress.

  • Brad Kaaya – Had only four pass attempts in the 2018 preseason. He was waived-injured. (Colts)
  • John Wolford – a late addition to the Jets most likely just to fill in for week four. (Jets)
  • Brogan Roback – one of the top fourteen of the preseason. His completion percentage was only 50% on 18 attempts. But he had a 97.5 passer rating and a padawan high 16.9 yards per completion. Roback was competing against Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield and recent veteran free agent signing Drew Stanton for a roster spot. (Browns)
  • Peter Pujals – only saw playing time in week four (Vikings)
  • Jack Heneghan – only saw playing time in week four (49ers)
  • Austin Allen – on 19 attempts finished with a 37% completion rate and a 15.4 passer rating (Buccaneers)
  • Kurt Benkert – had only a 44% completion percentage and a 35 passer rating on 64 attempts Benkert had zero touchdowns to four interceptions. (Falcons)
  • Tanner Lee – had a 50% completion percentage on 30 attempts (Jaguars)
  • Garrett Grayson – had a 37% completion percentage and a 47 passer rating on 19 attempts. (Falcons)57.6% completion percentage on
  • Kyle Allen – a top fourteen padawan. Allen had a 65.8% completion rate on 38 attempts and a 93.1 passer rating. Allen had a shot competing against Garrett Gilbert and Taylor Heinicke for a backup role behind Cam Newton. (Panthers)
  • Phillip Walker – a top fourteen padawan. Walker had the highest preseason passer rating among Colts quarterbacks (101.2). He had a respectable 61% completion percentage on 49 attempts. Walker could push the ball downfield having eight pass plays of 20+ yards, a 9.1 average yards per attempt and a 14.9 average yards per completion. The 14.9 was third best among the padawans. Walker competed against Jacoby Brissett for Andrew Luck’s backup. (Colts)
  • Garrett Gilbert – had a 57.6 completion percentage on 33 attempts and a 93.6 passer rating. Though he started out strong in the preseason the other padawans passed him by in their performance statistics. (Panthers)
  • Luke Falk – had a 55% completion percentage on 58 attempts and a 68% passer rating. He averaged 5.1 yards per attempt and 9.3 yards per completion. He was sacked seven times, had one touchdown and one interception. (Titans)
  • Danny Etling – had only a 53% completion percentage on 38 attempts and a 52 passer rating. He had one touchdown to two interceptions. Etling averaged 4.7 yards per pass attempt and 8.9 yards per completion. He had only one pass of 20+ yards and had a 21% first down conversion rate on pass attempts. (Patriots)
  • Nic Shimonek – had a 65% completion percentage on 20 attempts and a 72.9 passer rating. Shimonek averaged 4 yards per attempt and 6.2 yards per completion. He had zero touchdowns ad zero interceptions. Only 15% of his pass attempts made first down. He had zero pass plays of 20+ yards. (Chargers)
  • Logan Woodside – had a 56% completion percentage on 18 attempts with an average 5.6 yards per attempt and 10 yards per completion. He had zero touchdowns with zero interceptions and 22% of his attempts made a first down. He had a passer rating of 71.5 and had 2 passes of 20+ yards. (Bengals)
  • JT Barrett – had 55% completion percentage on 11 attempts with an average 5.7 yards per attempt and 10.5 yards per completion. He had zero touchdowns to one interception and zero pass plays of 20+ yards. His passer rating was 33.5.
  • Chase Litton – was a top fourteen padawan. He had a 58.5% completion percentage on 41 attempts with an average 7.3 yards per attempt and 12.5 yards per completion. Thirty-nine percent of his pass attempts made a first down and he had a passer rating of 89.4.  Litton had one touchdown with zero interceptions. He had three passes of 20+ yards with two going 40+ yards. Litton was competing with Chad Henne and Matt McGloin as Mahomes backup. (Chiefs)
  • Luis Perez – played only in week four. He had a 53% completion percentage on 15 attempts with an average 2.9 yards per attempt and 5.4 yards per completion. He had zero touchdowns with one interception and a passer rating of 31.2. (Rams)
  • Chad Kanoff – had a 41.7% completion percentage on 36 attempts with an average 4.9 yards per attempt and 11.9 yards per completion. A quarter of his pass attempts got a first down and he had one touchdown with zero interceptions. He had 2 passes of 20+ yards with one for 40+ yards. His passer rating was 66.7. (Cardinals)
  • Alex McGough – made the top 14 padawans. He had a 58% completion percentage on 62 attempts with an average of 6.7 yards per attempt and 11.6 yards per completion. McGough had three touchdowns to one interception and 26% of his pass attempts made first down. He had six passes of 20+ yards and a passer rating of 87.8. McGough had to compete against new free agent veteran signing Brett Hundley and Austin Davis for the backup role.
  • Davis Webb – had a 53% completion percentage on 53 attempts with an average 5.3 yards per attempt and 10.1 yards per completion. He had one touchdown, zero interceptions and 26% of his pass attempts made first down. He had three passes of 20+ yards with two going 40+ yards.

Other Padawans Making a 53 Man Roster

As of the latest update nine of the top fourteen padawans have made the 53-man rosters of their teams.  An additional four of the top fourteen have made practice squads. That leaves only one of the top fourteen as free agents (Brogan Roback). After the top fourteen here are the other padawans on a roster in order of their preseason performance starting after the top ten. The order is from better to worse. The padawans cut are not shown.

11) Lamar Jackson (Ravens)

12) CJ Beathard (49ers)

13) Sam Darnold (Jets)

14) Josh Allen (Bills)

15) Josh Rosen (Cardinals)

16) Tim Boyle (Packers)

17) Mike White (Cowboys)

18) DeShaun Watson (Texans)

19) Mitchell Trubisky (Bears)

20) Cooper Rush (Cowboys)

21) Kyle Lauletta (Giants)

And After Waivers

Luke Falk (cut by Titans) was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins. He is now on a a roster that carries three other quarterbacks – Brock Osweiler and David Fales backing up Ryan Tannehill.

Kurt Benkert (cut by Falcons) cleared waivers and was added to the Falcons practice squad.

Danny Etling (cut by Patriots) cleared waivers and was added to the Patriots practice squad.

Chad Kanoff (cut by Cardinals) cleared waivers and was added to the Cardinals practice squad.

Chase Litton (cut by Chiefs) cleared waivers and was added to the Chiefs practice squad.

Tanner Lee (cut by the Jaguars) cleared waivers and was added to the Jaguars Practice Squad.

Logan Woodside (cut by the Bengals) cleared waivers and was signed by the Titans to their Practice Squad.

Davis Webb (cut by Giants) cleared waivers and was signed to the Jets Practice Squad.

Alex McGough (cut by Seahawks) cleared waivers and was signed to  the Seahawks Practice Squad.

Brad Kaaya (cut by Colts) cleared waivers and signed to Colts Injured/Reserve.

Phillip Walker (cut by Colts) and signed to Colts Practice Squad.

Padawans Currently as Free Agents

The following eleven padawans are from the forty-two originally on rosters that are now free agents.

Brogan Roback (cut by Browns)

Garrett Gilbert (cut by Panthers)

Jack Heneghan (cut by 49ers)

Austen Allen (cut by Buccaneers)

Garrett Grayson (cut by Falcons)

Peter Pujals (cut by Vikings)

John Wolford (cut by Jets)

Nic Shimonek (cut by Chargers, Redskins)

Kyle Allen (cut by Panthers)

Luis Perez (cut by Rams)

JT Barrett (cut by Saints)

Good players on that should make some NFL team

The last preseason game was played and on Saturday (9/1) the teams will cut their rosters from 90 players to 53. Ten players could be selected for the team’s practice squad. So for 864 players they may have played their last football game. Here is a look at the last preseason game match-ups and good players that deserve a chance to make some NFL team – either their current team or a pickup on the waiver wire.

Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions

Browns’ rookie Wide Receiver Da’Mari Scott had 57 receptions and 566 yards in 2017 at Fresno State. He had 11 kickoff returns for 260 yards and a long return of 63 yards. He loves football, has a strong work ethic and has good hands.

Lions’ running back Zach Zenner only played in 8 games in 2017 due to injury. In those 8 games he only had 14 attempts for 26 yards. This disappointing season followed his best season o in his sophomore year in 2016. Then he rushed for 88 attempts, 334 yards and a 3.8 yard average. Zenner was tied with Theo Riddick as the top two backs on the Saints in 2016.  In college at South Dakota State Zenner had over 2,000 yards rushing in each of his last three years and averaged 5.74 yards per carry or better each year.

Status Update: Zach Zenner was placed in Injured Reserve and will miss the 2018 season.

Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons

Dolphin rookie linebacker Frank Ginda led the FBS in 2017 in total tackles, solo tackles and total tackles per game.

Falcon linebacker Anthony Winbush was ranked fourth in the FBS in 2017 in sacks and sacks per game.

Status Update:

Falcons cut Anthony Winbush.

Dolphins cut Frank Ginda.

New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles

Jet linebacker Obum Gwacham  converted from wide receiver to defensive end for his final year in college in 2014. That year he had 4 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, 17 solo tackles and 28 total tackles. Gwacham displayed good athleticism at his combine among defensive linemen coming in third in the forty, sixth in the vertical jump, second in broad jump, ninth in the three cone and sixth in the 20 yard shuttle. Per Lance Zierlein NFL.com scouting report prior to the 2015 NFL draft:  Exceptional personal and football character with a desire to learn his new position.

Status Update: Obum Gwacham cut.

Rookie Eagle safety Jeremy Reaves was the 2017 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. The sum of his 2017 team market share production for solo tackles, sacks, tackles for a loss, interceptions and passes defended was the second highest sum among all FBS defensive players. Reaves is team-oriented, high football character, defensive back with a strong work ethic. He has overcome adversity such as a broken the L5 Vertebra in his high school senior year, a no-invite to the combine, and going undrafted. He is a hard hitting safety. In his 2017 college senior year he had 104 tackles (70 solo), 1.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles and 10 run stuffs.

New England Patriots at New York Giants

Rookie Patriot linebacker Christian Sam came back from a season ending injury that cut short his junior year after one game. In 2017, his senior year, Sam had 127 tackles, 87 solo tackles (4th in FBS),  9.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 pass defended and 1 forced fumble. At his combine Sam had the top bench press among linebackers and the ninth best linebacker 3-cone drill. Sam excels in coverage and almost converted to a defensive back in college.

Giant cornerback Donte Deayon was an undrafted free agent from the 2016 NFL draft. He played in four games in 2017 before getting injured. He had 10 tackles (9 solo) and one pass defensed. In his last year of college (2015), Deayon led active career leaders in Interceptions per game (.43), was fifth in career passes defensed (43) and fourth in career interceptions (17).  Deayon was a ball-hawk in college and has flashed that capability when healthy in 2018 training camp.  (Note Deayon probably secured a roster spot with a two interception performance in week 4).

Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals

Colt second year quarterback Phillip Walker is Temple University’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense. Walker became the first Temple quarterback to lead his team to multiple bowl games. His senior year he was awarded a single number jersey which is given to the toughest players on the team as voted by their teammates. Walker had a 139.6 passer rating in his 2018 preseason opener where he completed 5 of 8 passes for 88 yards and one touchdown.

Rookie Bengal quarterback Logan Woodside put up some impressive numbers in college. In 2017 he was 20th in completion percentage (64.2%),  fifth in passing yards per attempts (9.4 yards), fifteenth in passing touchdowns (28), sixth in passer rating (162) and 17th in passing yards per game (277 yards). He was ranked second in career passing efficiency (162.9), seventh in career passing yards (10,514 yards), third in career completion percentage (65.1%) and third in career passing yards per attempt (9.02 yards). Per Pro Football Focus Woodside was calm under pressure in 2017 ranking second in adjusted completion percentage (70%) and fourth in passer rating (96.5). Woodside has yet to have any meaningful playing time in the preseason having only 9 snaps so far in the Dallas game.

Status Update: Phillip Walker was cut.

Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens

After a redshirt freshman season in college, Washington rookie offensive Tackle Timon Parris started all 41 games of his other four years playing at both tackle positions. Parris shows some nastiness in his play, carrying blocks thru the whistle.

Rookie Raven cornerback Darious Williams had a decent sophomore season at UAB in 2014. In 2015 UAB shutdown their football program for financial reasons. Two years later it started up. Williams stayed with UAB during the shutdown and continued to workout. When it restarted for William’s senior year he had a breakout season. He had 50 tackles (38 solo), 4 tackles for loss, 5 run stuffs, 5 interceptions and 15 passes defended. His 2017 sum of team market share percentages for solo tackles, sacks, tackles for loss, interceptions and passes defended was ranked third among FBS defensive players. Williams made the Pro Football Focus 2017 All American 1st Team .

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jaguar linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka was impressive in coverage per PFF. He led all FBS linebackers in fewest yards allowed per snap in coverage (0.21) and had most snaps per reception allowed (49.9). He was also good at rushing the passer. On 82 pass rushes he had 24 quarterback pressures.

Buccaneer safety Godwin Igwebuike started 43 games at safety at Northwestern. In 2016 Igwebuike was fifth in the FBS in solo tackles with 78.  His college career solo tackles of 214 is fourth in the Big Ten since 2005. Pro Football Focus had Godwin posting three straight years of 80.0-plus grade.

Status Update: Godwin Igwebuike was cut.

Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Panther Tight End Cam Serigne had 44 receptions in 2017 over 11 games. Thirty percent of his receptions were for 15+ yards and he got a first down on over half of his receptions. Per Pro Football Focus Serigne had a 76.9% catch rate from the slot which was third among 2018 draft tight ends. Serigne had nine receiving touchdowns in 2017 which tied for second among draft eligible tight ends. He made the Pro Football Focus 2017 All-ACC first team.

Status Update: Panthers waived Cam Serigne

Steeler Quarterback Joshua Dobbs has had a good preseason to date.  He has achieved a 67.7% completion rate on 31 attempts, an average of over 9 yards per passing attempt, a 38.7% 1st down conversion rate, five passes of 20+ yards including a long of 54 yards, a 101.9 passer rating, a 13.5 yards per completion and has three touchdowns with two interceptions. In my post on  rookie and second year quarterbacks, Dobbs is ranked number one. The Steelers will have some tough decisions to resolve their three quarterbacks behind Roethlisberger of Dobbs, Landry Jones and Mason Rudolph.

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

Ram linebacker Travin Howard has had to deal with a preseason injury that kept him out of the first two preseason games. He had 12.2% team market share of solo tackles in 2016. That percentage is indicative of a potential All-Pro to Pro Bowl players since the 1989 NFL draft class. Howard led the team in total tackles for three years.

Saints quarterback JT Barrett was a four year starter at Ohio State and has a record of 38-6. His Ohio state career statistics include 63.5% completion percentage, 2.4 touchdowns per game, 0.68 interceptions per game, 3.5 touchdown to interception ratio, 152.3 passer rating, 74 rushing yards per game and 0.98 rushing touchdowns per game. Barrett holds the Ohio State record for passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears

Bills’ Defensive End Mat Boesen was fourth in the FBS in sacks in 2017 with 11.5. He is one of only 14 FBS defensive ends that met the following defensive market share criteria – 6% solo tackles, 25% sacks and 15% tackles for a loss. Those percentages are indicative of a potential Pro-Bowl or All-Pro player.

Rookie Bear Running Back Ryan Nall had an 85% conversion rate on 3rd down with 1-3 yards to go in 2017.

Status Update: Ryan Nall was cut

Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans

Quarterback Kyle Sloter has a preseason passer rating of 111.4 which is best among Vikings quarterbacks and ninth in the league. This preseason he has three passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Titans Quarterback Luke Falk had a good college career. He had a career 68.3 completion percentage, 345 passing yards per game, 2.8 passing touchdowns per game and a 3.1 touchdown to interception ratio. This carried on a high school career where he averaged 232 yards per game and 2.4 touchdowns per game.

Status Update: Luke Falk was cut.

Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans

Rookie Cowboy Safety Kameron Kelly had eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 2017. Opposing team success rate of 55.4% when Kelly made a tackle is good and low for a safety.

Rookie Texan Cornerback Andre Chachere in 2016 had 27 solo tackles, four interceptions and fourteen passes defended. Per Pro Football Focus in his sophomore 2015 season he allowed only 37% of passes into his coverage to be caught. That was tied for best among 2016 returning cornerbacks.

Status Update: The Texans cut Andre Chachere

Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs

Packer Quarterback Tim Boyle through the first three preseason games has the second best passer rating of the four Packer quarterbacks with 105.7.  Only Aaron Rodgers had a better rating.

Rookie Chief’s Cornerback Arrion Springs had a college career high 44 passes defended which was seventh best in career leaders for the 2017 season.

Status Update: Arrion Springs was cut.

Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals

Rookie Cardinal Quarterback Chad Kanoff in 2017 completed 73.2% of his passes setting a Princeton and Ivy League record for single-season completion percentage. Chad tied the Ivy League record for most 400-yard passing games (three) and 300-yard passing games (eight) in a single season.

Bronco Running Back Phillip Lindsay averaged 5.4 yards per rushing attempt in the first three preseason games on 13 attempts. That was 8th best among rookie backs. His 30.8% first down conversion rate was ranked fourth among rookie backs.

Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers

Rookie 49er Wide Receiver Steven Dunbar ha. d 1,070 receiving yards in 2017 for a 34% team market share of receiving yards. That is indicative of potential Pro-Bowl or All-Pro players. He also had a 14.1 yards per catch and 9.6 yards per target with a 69.7% catch rate.

Rookie Charger Running Back Detrez Newsome had the second longest kick return in the preseason with 63 yards. For rushing Newsome averaged 3.6 yards on 42 carries. His long was 31 yards. In college at Western Carolina University he had a career 3,728 yards rushing which was second in program history and had 46 touchdowns which is the school record. Newsome had 2,279 career kickoff return yards and two for touchdowns.

Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Raider Running Back DeAndre Washington only played in one preseason game due to injury and arthroscopic knee surgery. He had a good rookie year in 2016 when he averaged 5.4 yards per carry on 87 attempts.  His 2017 season did not go well with only 57 carries and a 2.7 yard average. His long was only 11 yards. Washington was a beast in college. In the 2016 draft class he led all prospects in scrimmage plays of 10+ yards with 66 and averaged 5.08 ten plus yard scrimmage plays per game. Weighting the long plays for each 10 yards over 10 and averaging them per game, Washington ranked second among draft prospects. Scrimmage yards per play had Washington second with 6.9 yards. For touchdowns per game he came in 5th with 16 touchdowns or 1.23 per game. He has a respectable  one fumble per 104 touches good for 6th in the draft class. Pro Football Focus had him ranked third among draft prospects in elusiveness rating.

Rookie Seahawks Quarterback Alex McGough has had a strong preseason. He has demonstrated that he should be the backup quarterback in Seattle. He has a preseason completion percentage of 61.5%, a 7.3 passing yards average, four passes of 20+ yards and a 90.2 passer rating.  In college McGough was a four year starter at FIU and only missed 3 games due to injury. Alex holds eight FIU records including career passing TDs (48), single season passing yards (2722) and single season passing TDs (21).