Between 7 a.m. and midnight ET on Sunday, we had the continuation of 1 COVID-19 outbreak, concern over one other, huge schedule shuffling consequently, then an proprietor dismissing the head coach and GM who introduced him to a Tremendous Bowl simply 4 years in the past.
However the lasting picture of Week 5 within the NFL got here at about 6:30 p.m. ET, of a quarterback with so much on the line, his ankle bent the unsuitable manner and the 2 head coaches he’s had as a professional—Dallas’s new man in cost (Mike McCarthy) and predecessor (now-Giants OC Jason Garrett)—hovering over him because the cart pulled as much as take his 2020 season away. The look on his face gave away that he knew, and McCarthy and Garrett did too.
Final evening, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott underwent surgical procedure after struggling a proper ankle compound fracture and dislocation. And if you wish to know what he means to his workforce, and what Dallas is shedding, these pictures on the sphere instructed you. Earlier than he was carted off with a cumbersome stabilizing brace over his proper leg, dozens of Cowboys had joined McCarthy and Garrett on the sphere out of concern, and out of assist for the fifth-year professional.
Prescott wasn’t the one one shaken.
“I imply, Dak’s that all-around dude that you really want within the locker room,” receiver Michael Gallup instructed me postgame, from the locker room. “He is a frontrunner, he is humorous. He is there first on daily basis, he is the final individual to go away. He simply does what he is alleged to do. He makes positive that everyone else is doing what they’re alleged to do as properly. To see him go down like that, that is powerful. That man hasn’t missed a recreation in what, 4, 5 years? Hasn’t missed a follow in 4 or 5 years, I do not assume.
“Simply to see that, that is powerful. So he is positively in our prayers.”
The Cowboys did wind up outlasting the Giants. Prescott had earlier dug Dallas out of a 17–Three gap, and had the offense driving once more when he went down, with the workforce up 24–23 within the third quarter. Joe Choose’s feisty crew took the lead again, 34–31 within the fourth quarter earlier than Prescott’s backup, Andy Dalton, led lengthy, consecutive discipline purpose drives to tie the sport then win it late.
And Dallas is now on their own in first place within the NFC East, the NFL’s low-rent district in 2020.
However all that doesn’t negate how all the things modified for the Cowboys with one unhealthy break over the primary weekend of October.
Welcome to the Week 5 MMQB column, and there’s a lot happening that I hardly knew the place to start out as Sunday unfolded. So there’s loads to get to in right here, together with …
• Sunday’s COVID-19 insanity.
• Atlanta’s implosion.
• The Texans’ week.
• The Steelers’ resurgence.
• The Browns’ arrival.
However we’re beginning with the Cowboys, and what Prescott’s season-ending harm means for America’s Workforce, each within the brief time period and the long run.
There was nothing out of the unusual concerning the scenario or the play name—the Cowboys have been driving, in first-and-10 on the Giants’ 27-yard line, and the decision was a easy quarterback draw. Prescott took the shotgun snap, dropped three steps, paused, then tucked and ran via a gap up the center of the protection.
Within the open discipline, he shook defensive again Ryan Lewis, slicing inside, then out, and broke to his left in direction of the sideline. On his manner there, veteran DB Logan Ryan grabbed him from the facet and acquired a fistful of jersey to yank the quarterback to the bottom. However as Ryan pulled him down, Prescott’s foot acquired caught within the turf, his ankle bent again the unsuitable manner and that was actually that.
“I’ve seen Dak run that play 100 instances,” Gallup stated. “And he did not get again up on this one. I used to be the closest one to him. I did not wish to see it. Did not wish to give it some thought or something like that. It is powerful to see the chief that he’s go down like that. Simply prayers and, , hope to God. That is all I can say about that.”
There have been a lot of individuals on the market who didn’t wish to see an harm we’ll all probably see an excessive amount of within the days to return. And the impression coming is clear, each for now and for the longer term.
The current, to make certain, will get murkier for Dallas consequently. The Cowboys have by no means been extra reliant on Prescott over his half-decade on the town than they’re now. The protection has been a multitude. The offensive line’s been nicked up all yr, and simply acquired information that franchise cornerstone Tyron Smith isn’t coming again this yr. The workforce’s constructed now to win with its receivers.
Backside line: Prescott needed to play properly for Dallas to win and, for probably the most half, he had been. He and the offense confronted double-digit deficits the final 4 weeks in a row, and fought their manner again into all these video games, successful two of them. The offense’s sudden explosiveness helped mitigated the protection’s rising pains, and the quarterback’s legs helped to cowl up points with safety ensuing from the offensive line’s issues.
In order that’s now. As for what’s forward, the Cowboys can, and possibly will, tag him once more subsequent yr. Factor is, it’ll value $37.69 million to do it, in a yr by which the cap might fall all the best way all the way down to $175 million. And whereas that is perhaps a pleasant approach to maintain his rights and see how his harm is coming alongside earlier than waving within the Brink’s trunk, it’s essential to keep in mind that not doing a deal at that time will nearly definitely imply unfettered free company for Prescott in 2022. That’s as a result of it’d value the workforce $54.27 million to tag him at that time.
Which means, come the spring, the Cowboys both need to pay Dak or hand him a ticket to free company in 2022, they usually’ll probably must make that decision earlier than he’s able to follow. Which makes it a thorny scenario for everybody.
Now, the silver lining for Dallas. Whereas this wasn’t the appropriate yr for this to occur based mostly on the construction of the workforce, the timing is best by way of workforce depth on the place.
The Cowboys aren’t relying on a Cooper Rush or Mike White to develop anymore. When Prescott went down, it was Andy Dalton, and his 133 profession begins, trotting off the sideline and onto the sphere. And the distinction was felt straight away. Two performs after Prescott went down, Dalton transformed third-and-6 by becoming a tight-window throw to CeeDee Lamb, which arrange a 12-yard Ezekiel Elliott landing run.
“He came to visit there and did the identical factor that Dak does,” Gallup stated. “He came to visit there and hyped us up. We acquired to be sure that we all know he is within the recreation with us and we belief him. He did precisely what we thought he would do, tell us we will get this ‘W.’”
And Gallup did his half too, on the game-winning drive, with a pair highlight-reel catches to arrange Greg Zuerlein’s game-winning 34-yard discipline purpose. The primary got here on first-and-10 from the Cowboys’ 27 with 40 seconds to go.
Dalton took a fast drop from the shotgun and was flushed out to his proper by Giants DT B.J. Hill. Dalton stored shifting and shifting and shifting and, within the scramble scenario, Gallup labored his approach to the sideline and again to his quarterback.
“Only a broken-down play,” Gallup stated. “Andy scrambled, and fortuitously I noticed it. I simply began breaking towards the sideline. He threw an incredible ball, I simply had to verify I acquired my toes down, and I did.”
The remainder of was, properly, fairly spectacular. Gallup needed to attain for the ball whereas falling out of bounds, and was in a position to haul it in whereas dragging his proper foot throughout the AT&T Stadium turf. And it turned out that was only a warmup for the following snap.
The most important distinction on that one—a first-and-10 from the Dallas 46—was that Gallup knew properly forward of time the ball was coming him manner. The receiver was taught to learn the security. On this case, that meant studying Ryan, and if Ryan got here down within the field, Gallup would know he had a one-on-one deep and the ball was coming his manner. On the snap, Ryan got here screaming towards the road and Dalton launched a teardrop proper into Gallup’s ready arms.
Gallup went up for it and had the presence of thoughts on the again finish to get each toes down.
“I knew that ball was coming to me,” Gallup stated. “I simply had to verify [Dalton] was proper, and Andy was able to throw that deep ball. We have been on the identical web page.”
That one was good for 38 yards to arrange Zuerlein’s game-winner on the following snap. And so begins the remainder of the Cowboys season—one which’ll be performed shifting ahead with out Prescott.
The gamers, for his or her half, need to consider a lot will keep the identical.
“We’ll decide up the place we left off,” Gallup stated. “Clearly, Andy’s not a big-time runner like Dak might be, however aside from that I am fairly positive we will preserve it the identical.”
And after an enormous win, that’s the best way a participant must be considering.
Making it occur, as everyone knows, is a unique deal altogether. However that, from right here on out, is what the Cowboys must try to do.
THE BIGGEST SCHEDULE OVERHAUL YET
The NFL schedule appears to be like totally different this morning than it did even 24 hours in the past, and I wouldn’t guess towards much more adjustments coming quickly. Due to flare-ups this weekend in New England (a defensive participant examined optimistic Saturday) and Tennessee (one other coach examined optimistic Saturday), that is simply the place we’re.
And at this level, the schedule grid looks like a Jenga tower one pulled piece away from collapsing, significantly now that six groups are via their bye weeks, be they scheduled or compelled by the virus. Right here’s the fallout from Payments–Titans and Patriots–Broncos getting moved out of their scheduled slots.
• Payments at Titans is now on Tuesday (10/13).
• Broncos at Patriots was moved to Week 6 (10/18).
• Chiefs at Payments, beforehand slated for TNF, was moved to MNF (10/19).
• Jets at Dolphins was moved to Week 6 (10/18).
• Jets at Chargers was moved to Week 11 (11/22).
• Jags at Chargers was moved to Week 7 (10/25).
• Chargers at Broncos was moved to Week 8 (11/1).
• Chargers at Dolphins was moved to Week 10 (11/15).
• Dolphins at Broncos was moved to Week 11 (11/22).
And as for what’s taking place with the groups …
• I don’t assume the Titans’ investigation will end up till after they, presumably, play on Tuesday evening. I’m instructed the primary issues at challenge are that masks compliance gave the impression to be at round 75 to 80 % (which, by the league’s requirements, isn’t almost ok), and speak to tracing confirmed that bodily distancing within the constructing wasn’t the place it wanted to be. The league and union are additionally wanting into whether or not there was any form of coach path on the participant exercises at an area highschool (undecided they’ll discover something there).
• An fascinating level was raised to me on the Titans’ coach who examined optimistic on Saturday (with the check coming again on Sunday). Per individuals I’ve mentioned this with, he hadn’t been in touch with different workforce individuals for over per week. So is it doable that he acquired it from a member of the family as a result of he was dwelling? Clearly, the dynamic for all 32 groups modified when camp ended (shortening everybody’s in-office hours), and other people’s children went again to high school and spouses went again to work. It appears doable that’s what acquired this specific coach.
• The query of whether or not a tryout participant may’ve introduced the virus into the Titans’ facility has been raised. And presumably, that’s one purpose why the NFL strengthened its guidelines on groups holding free-agent exercises and visits final week.
• The Patriots, in the meantime, acquired information of their fourth optimistic check in 9 days very late on Saturday evening, and knowledgeable gamers and coaches to not are available in Sunday. This was after they’d spent their first day again within the facility, actually, outdoors the ability. Conferences have been held on follow fields, as was a walkthrough and a follow, and gamers didn’t even bathe onsite (as a substitute driving dwelling to try this). The Patriots’ compliance, as we stated in Thursday’s GamePlan column, has been very robust.
• Alongside these traces, I’m instructed New England coach Invoice Belichick has come off as engaged and knowledgeable on the NFL’s COVID-19 calls. Which isn’t all that shocking—when Belichick sees one thing as essential (we’ve seen it on guidelines points), he gained’t hesitate to discover a approach to get educated and concerned.
• On Saturday, the Chiefs had their first optimistic check since practice-squad QB Jordan Ta’amu examined optimistic per week earlier. It was an assistant energy coach, which raised apparent issues. However it was discovered that his contract tracing numbers have been, surprisingly sufficient, very low.
• And now my opinion: Week 18 has to return into play quickly. Per week from now, 10 of the NFL’s 32 groups could have expended their bye weeks. So I perceive attempting to carry off so long as you may to try to protect the calendar (and, let’s be trustworthy, the sanctity of the TV schedule), however it positive feels just like the dam’s breaking quickly on that one.
Now, you need excellent news? The excellent news is we get soccer the following two days. Tentatively.
THE FALCONS MAKE CHANGES
How does a coach firing fall this low within the column?
Effectively, there’s loads happening. And the writing’s been on the wall for a couple of weeks on Falcons coach Dan Quinn—a good man who did a good job on balance, however acquired himself into a multitude he couldn’t get out of quick sufficient this yr.
The very first thing that damage him was historical past. He by no means lived down Tremendous Bowl LI, and that stinks, however it’s the truth of all this. When his Falcons blew 20–0, 29–10 and 39–24 results in Dallas, and 16–Three and 26–10 results in Chicago, it was manner too simple to level again to 28–3. And generally, in circumstances like that, it may get in a workforce’s head, and notion can change into actuality.
The opposite piece of historical past to have a look at is that the workforce’s 0–5 begin wasn’t remoted. Final yr, Atlanta got here out of the gate 1–7, and Quinn acquired a keep of execution after the workforce rallied to 7–9 with a 6–2 end. Which brings us to the second factor.
That might be that Quinn was very clearly placed on discover—that call to not drop the hammer by proprietor Arthur Clean was explicitly made in hopes that the optimistic momentum from 2019, when the gamers clearly fought for a coach they cherished, would carry over into 2020. 5 weeks in, even when some form of miracle state of affairs might’ve been doable from right here, it was crystal clear that Clean’s hope for carryover from November and December wasn’t fulfilled.
That GM Thomas Dimitroff went down with Quinn is mildly shocking in its timing, even when Dimitroff wasn’t going survive a second coach firing on his watch (after Mike Smith in 2014). However it does enable for Clean to get happening working towards remaking his soccer operation, which has a ton of questions going ahead, given the monetary commitments to gamers like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Deion Jones and Grady Jarrett.
So for now, workforce president Wealthy McKay will oversee soccer ops, and a brand new head coach might be picked for the remainder of the yr. I do know Raheem Morris was a powerful consideration on Sunday evening, with Dirk Koetter and Jeff Ulbrich additionally within the combine. And from there, the coach and GM searches right here would appear to be fairly huge open, most likely extra so than in Houston. Talking of …
A NEW ERA IN HOUSTON
J.J. Watt couldn’t have been off the sphere for greater than 15 minutes when he tweeted this:
So naturally, after we talked after the Texans’ first win of the yr, a convincing 30–14 beatdown of the Jaguars, and within the wake of all the things that occurred in Houston this week, I needed to ask if there was something extra to firing that one off.
“I imply, it has been a very long time since we had a win,” Watt instructed me. “Clearly, we began off 0–4. We misplaced the final recreation final yr in fairly powerful trend. It has been an actual very long time since we acquired a win. So, lastly, it feels good to have a win.”
And if there had been extra to it than that, it’d be truthful to excuse Watt for it.
The Texans fired coach/GM Bill O’Brien last Monday, putting in Romeo Crennel because the workforce’s interim coach, and EVP of soccer operations Jack Easterby as interim GM. That illustrates how a lot has modified because the final time the Texans did have a win.
That was a 22–19 victory over Buffalo on Jan. 4, and Houston adopted that by racing to a 24–Zero lead over the Chiefs in Kansas Metropolis per week later. The remainder, after all, is historical past. Patrick Mahomes wound up taking on within the second quarter of that one, and the Chiefs went on to win the Tremendous Bowl, and, as Watt stated, the Texans hadn’t gained since. And therein is the place, I believe, the extra implicit a part of Watt’s tweet comes into play.
He didn’t say it himself, however the previous few weeks in Houston have been tense, with a lot on the road for the franchise on a week-to-week foundation because the losses mounted. O’Brien’s dismissal, at the least, gave the gamers some certainty in the place the franchise goes now, and Crennel was in a position to lighten the temper a little bit across the constructing within the aftermath.
“RAC’s persona simply does that naturally,” Watt stated. “He is a enjoyable man to be round. Anyone that is ever had a dialog with RAC, I do not assume you permit and not using a smile in your face. However one factor he did all week was simply preach elementary, all people doing their job, after which serving to out others after your job is completed. So all week lengthy, it was simply form of going again to the fundamentals, going again to the basics, doing all your job, having enjoyable, having fun with being on the market. And I believe that confirmed up immediately on the sphere.”
As Watt noticed it, that emphasis confirmed up in two areas towards Jacksonville.
The primary is the obvious—taking part in good elementary protection means stopping the run. And the Texans did that towards a Jacksonville workforce that’s all the time seeking to be forceful in that space, holding the Jags to 75 yards dashing on 20 carries.
The second space was extra situational, however each bit as essential. The Texans’ protection was twice put in sudden change conditions, coming off Deshaun Watson picks, and backed up in its personal territory. The primary time, within the second quarter, the Texans held the Jags to a single first down and compelled a missed discipline purpose. The second time, Houston blew up a trick play on fourth-and-1, forcing a fumble that Watt recovered.
“It doesn’t matter what occurred on the sphere, whether or not it was the protection gave up a landing or the offense threw an interception, the opposite group is able to pop up off the bench and say ‘We acquired this. We’ll make this proper,’” Watt stated. “And all day lengthy, that was form of our mentality, and all people stepped as much as the plate. That is how we acquired the win immediately.”
I did ask Watt how he managed the information personally this week, since he’d been with O’Brien for almost seven years—”any time you separate methods with somebody you’ve got been with for a very long time, it is going to be totally different”—and he took that likelihood to level out the vitality and focus his teammates confirmed throughout the week main into the sport, and the vitality the socially-distanced crowd introduced too.
“We had a whole lot of enjoyable,” Watt stated. “Profitable is enjoyable. So it feels rattling good to win once more and it feels good to have enjoyable doing it.”
So possibly the Texans, with a schedule that’ll loosen up, can discover a approach to play significant video games in November and December.
However both manner, everybody’s conscious there are bigger-picture choices coming. And as such, I did ask Watt about his personal future—and if he wished it to be in Houston, given the potential that the group might look loads totally different than it does now in 13 weeks or so.
“I have been right here for a very long time, and there is nothing that I wish to do greater than see this metropolis win a championship, and produce this metropolis a championship,” he responded. “That is been my purpose from the start, and that is still my purpose immediately. That’s the No. 1 purpose, and I am not going to cease working towards that till they kick me out.”
And that’s even when the trail to getting there’s extra muddled than ever earlier than.
CHASE CLAYPOOL’S MONSTER DAY
I’m undecided many individuals noticed what Chase Claypool did Sunday coming.
However Stephon Tuitt swears he did.
“I instructed them after we drafted him, This man’s going to be a freak of nature,” Tuitt instructed me.
OK, so he won’t be probably the most unbiased supply of knowledge right here.
“Everyone all the time gave me crap as a result of we went to Notre Dame,” Tuitt stated, laughing. “We form of maintain ourselves to a better normal up there, that is all I am going to say. … I all the time count on it. I am not going to sit down right here and let you know I do not count on the greatness that comes from Notre Dame.”
And far as he may’ve been joking, greatness is what the Steelers acquired from Claypool on Sunday. The rookie second-round decide—a 6′ 4″, 238-pound specimen of a wideout—ripped via the Eagles for 110 yards and three touchdowns on seven catches, and rushed for a fourth landing, because the Steelers beat the Eagles 38–29 to maneuver to 4–0.
However extra than simply what he did individually, Claypool is one other instance of a roster teeming with expertise younger and previous, that’s acquired its quarterback again now, after discovering a approach to go 8–Eight final yr with out him. So whether or not it’s the older guys like Tuitt, Cam Heyward, Joe Haden or Ben Roethlisberger himself; or the youthful set like Claypool, Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Conner, T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, it’s not arduous to determine how the Steelers acquired so far within the season nonetheless unblemished.
However the path there’s been winding. The Steelers’ bye week, you’ll keep in mind, was collateral harm within the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak—Pittsburgh didn’t get phrase till the Thursday earlier than their scheduled recreation in Nashville that it was being postponed—and so the gamers needed to swap gears on the fly. That they have been in a position to, Tuitt thinks, is an effective signal of the place the workforce is.
“It was one thing that was surprising,” he stated. “You may have a schedule, you observe the schedule. You may have a routine, you observe your routine. And all the things was at a halt. It stopped. And that was due to a workforce that ended up having an outbreak. And with that, we needed to do what we needed to do as a Steelers group to arrange for what might’ve been as a substitute of what we all know goes to occur.
“However I believe the group did an incredible job in ensuring we have been ready in case we had a recreation. However we did not. And it was an unlucky occasion to have a bye week so early.”
However Tuitt and his teammates didn’t waste it. The truth is, as a substitute of scrambling to make run-of-the-mill, I’m-shutting-it-down bye-week plans, Tuitt and a few of his teammates did the alternative, simply shifting their movie research from Tennessee to Philly and getting early begin on Week 5.
As they noticed it, it paid off on Sunday. Tuitt didn’t wish to get into particular particulars there, however he did point out his work on particular person opponents, one thing that got here up when he made one of many recreation’s largest performs—a first-down sack with lower than 5 minutes left and the ball close to midfield. It turned first-and-10 from the 44 into second-and-13 from the 47, and put Jake Elliott in a spot the place his go-ahead field-goal try can be from 57 yards.
“It was in a three-down rush, I got here from the surface, I used to be in a 4 method, and I went inside and I beat the guard again up the sphere,” Tuitt stated. “And Carson Wentz nonetheless had the ball in his hand and I used to be attempting to get to the ball, however I believe he tucked it final second. After I grabbed his foot and fell down, it was arduous to see if he threw it or not. As I acquired up, I acquired an opportunity to see the ball was nonetheless in his arms.
“That is a big-time play, as a result of while you get a sack on a drive like that, a drive they’re resulting in get factors, that adjustments the entire momentum only for them. That was an enormous time play for our protection, an enormous time play for our workforce.”
Elliott’s kick, on account of that distance being added to it, sailed huge proper, and Claypool’s fourth landing was forthcoming, making a sequence that confirmed, once more, how the Steelers are firing on all cylinders.
“We performed like a workforce,” he stated. “Each recreation just isn’t going to be fairly, however while you win, it does not matter. And I believe, offensively, defensively, we play for our offense. Our offense performs for our protection, particular groups play for each. I really feel like a whole lot of guys are stepping in and being unselfish. Actually placing the workforce first. A number of guys are understanding that with this case, this state of affairs with the COVID surroundings, it may actually put a detriment on us if any one among us is reckless. …
“A number of guys are respecting that. Staying inside the facility, staying with one another. We’re simply actually taking part in for one another. Like I stated, being a very good soccer workforce. We’ll proceed that week in and week out.”
I’ve puzzled for some time if the Steelers would profit from having needed to go with out Roethlisberger final yr and Tuitt agreed that they’d, in having to be taught to win in numerous methods. And now, they’ve that skill and Roethlisberger.
Not a nasty place to be.
THE BROWNS KEEP RUNNING
A couple of weeks again, Kevin Stefanski explained in this space the significance of having the ability to run the ball when the opposite workforce is aware of what’s coming—one thing the Browns did on a six-play, 75-yard, fourth-quarter drive (all runs) to place away the Bengals in Week 2.
That form of factor occurred once more for Cleveland on Sunday, and this time towards the NFL’s No. 1 protection, and though the Browns have been with out the companies of their star tailback, Nick Chubb. It was third-and-9, third-stringer D’Ernest Johnson was in, there was 2:27 to go and the Colts had one timeout left.
A primary down would successfully finish the sport, and 9 yards is loads to choose up on a run play. However Stefanski known as a run, and 28 yards later the Browns have been salting away a 32–23 win that gave the franchise its first 4–1 begin since Invoice Belichick and Nick Saban have been on the workforce’s payroll.
“That was a run we all the time have in each week,” heart J.C. Tretter instructed me. “It wasn’t a run we have been going to characteristic closely, and that was the primary time we known as it in that scenario. They gave us a double-A niche look with the linebackers mugged. It is form of an ideal name in that scenario as a result of we are able to block down on all people, pull the guard round, and the man that he is pulling for normally has already mugged up and is eaten up within the down blocks. So it nearly provides us a free hat on the entrance facet. It is an incredible name.”
It additionally labored to show the place the Browns are going.
Actually, the workforce’s offensive line has been an issue since Joe Thomas retired after the 2017 season—and it was worsening to the purpose the place in 2019 it was at a disaster level. So when Stefanski and new GM Andrew Berry arrived in January, fixing it grew to become an enormous level of emphasis. They employed Invoice Callahan to teach the offensive line. They drafted Jedrick Wills. They signed Jack Conklin. And the hope was, ultimately, this is able to all pay dividends.
I’m undecided anybody noticed it taking place this quick, although. And the 28-yard bully-ball run, with the third-string again ripping off a bit to shut out a recreation, is a pleasant illustration of it.
“These four-minute conditions, that is a whole lot of satisfaction for the offensive linemen,” Tretter stated. “Such as you stated, the protection is aware of that you will run, and it is only a conflict of they know what you are doing, that they know, and it’s important to go on the market and execute every run. And milk that clock out. Attempt to end out the sport. And that is the one factor you wish to do. You do not wish to give any life again to the opposite workforce and allow them to get a run at it. You wish to put it out and simply end it together with your guys holding onto the ball.”
That the Browns can do additionally it is a testomony to Callahan himself, who constructed imposing traces with the Jets, Cowboys and Washington over the past decade, and appears to be properly on his approach to pulling the trick once more in Cleveland.
“First off, expertise is huge. He is seen all the things,” Tretter stated. “It is nice to speak via issues with him as a result of he is acquired a solution for nearly any challenge that pops up. And never only one approach to decide issues up or to attract up a run. He is acquired a number of solutions for every look. And I believe one factor that is actually impressed me working with him is his skill to scheme up runs that open up huge working lanes for us simply based mostly off movie research that he does and understanding what the protection is doing. It has been actually cool watching him work.”
It’s been cool watching the Browns work, too. And it’s been some time since you can actually be ok with saying that.
It is a totally different Seahawks workforce. And that’s, partially, as a result of it may’t win with protection fairly the identical manner it used to. Which is O.Ok., as a result of they’ve the MVP of the league at quarterback and, lastly, must actually lean on him. So credit score to Pete Carroll for trusting OC Brian Schottenheimer to construct an offense that highlights the expansion of Russell Wilson as a quarterback, and credit score to Schottenheimer for (because it was defined to me) tailoring the playbook to seek out performs and ideas that Wilson owns, which provides him the power to regulate them on the fly. And credit score to Wilson for setting this unimaginable tempo. It goes with out saying that the 13-play, 94-yard drive to knock off the Vikings was a masterpiece. However loads went into it, and it must be enjoyable see that a part of the Seahawks’ recreation proceed to develop.
It’s important to give the Raiders credit score. Coming off their opener in Carolina—and the Panthers are higher than we thought—Jon Gruden’s crew confronted a frightening four-game stretch forward of its bye. They usually discovered a approach to cut up, beating the Saints and Chiefs, whereas shedding to the Payments and Patriots. Profitable in Kansas Metropolis, too, was a heck of a capper. There was some extent within the day the place I assumed Derek Carr may get benched. His decide to Bashaud Breeland was hideous and set the Chiefs as much as take a commanding a 14–Three lead. The Raiders appeared to lack objective and Patrick Mahomes seemed like, properly, Patrick Mahomes. And that’s why what we noticed from there was much more spectacular. On the street, towards the champs, one way or the other, the Raiders put their foot within the floor and got here from behind. Within the course of, they. …
• Dealt Mahomes his first loss to the Raiders.
• Acquired Carr his first win at Arrowhead.
• Acquired a Raider QB to 300 yards at Arrowhead for the primary time since 2002.
So, all in all, it was a very good Sunday for Vegas. And after the sport, you can hear how Jon Gruden felt good for Carr, a quarterback he’s brazenly thought of changing up to now. “I am simply comfortable Derek acquired an enormous win when it did not look good early,” Gruden stated. “I give Derek a whole lot of credit score; he is been via loads right here as a Raider. This was definitely an enormous win for him, and hopefully, we acquired much more huge wins to return.” For now, it’s a great way to move into per week off, with the data that what’s approaching the opposite facet (Tom Brady and the Bucs) gained’t be simple both.
One small nitpick with the Chiefs: the offensive line. If you happen to look over their final six video games, I’d say there have been 4 the place the opponent managed the road of scrimmage for at the least a part of the sport—the Niners within the Tremendous Bowl, and the Chargers, Patriots and Raiders throughout the early portion of this common season. Perhaps they’re feeling the lack of Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, who opted out to work on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Perhaps Kelechi Osemele, who tore tendons in each knees Sunday, was a bigger a part of the problem of late. No matter it’s, the Ok.C. line appears rather less constant than final yr. Is it going to maintain the Chiefs from attending to 12–Four or 13–3? I don’t assume so. However these are the sorts of issues that may sneak up and chew you within the playoffs.
DeAndre Hopkins’s success in Arizona didn’t assist the fellows in Houston. And I say that as somebody who absolutely understood the explanations for the transfer—paying him once more with three years left on his deal, based mostly on the place they have been roster-wise, and the remaking of the tradition they have been attempting to undertake, was a non-starter. However the truth is, Hopkins appears to be like pretty much as good as he ever has taking part in with Kyler Murray and for Kliff Kingsbury, and that was once more apparent on Sunday, because the Cardinals stomped the Jets 30–10. He’s additionally taking part in with a little bit edge he might not have had, absent the commerce. After going for an additional 131 yards and a landing on six catches in Jersey, he instructed the native media, “These guys belief me to get me the ball downfield. Lots of people take a look at me as only a possession receiver, I suppose. And my skills and my expertise, clearly, immediately’s and different video games, present that I am not only a possession receiver however I am a downfield risk.” Now, the numbers again his declare up—he had catches of 45 and 37 yards (one among which was spectacular, and you may see in Better of the NFL Web part beneath), his fifth and sixth of greater than 20 yards this yr. However it’s truthful take a look at what he’s saying and perceive there’s one thing there. The Cardinals, at 3–2, are the beneficiary. And no matter how sound the reasoning the Texans had in March was to do the deal, Hopkins’s success hasn’t helped the individuals main soccer ops in Houston.
It is perhaps time to fret for San Francisco. The 49ers’ loss final week nonetheless stands because the Eagles’ solely win. And what occurred this week was worse. There was nothing fluky concerning the bludgeoning San Francisco took from a Dolphins workforce that traveled cross-country and got here in with only a single win. They acquired outgained 436 to 259 in complete yardage. They acquired out-possessed 36:53 to 23:07. They acquired outscored 43 to 17. The distinction in workforce passer ranking (154.5 to 46.3) was in triple-digits. And nobody would’ve guessed that this recreation would go this manner 5 weeks in the past. However the largest query now has to narrate out to the way forward for the franchise at crucial place. Sunday marked Jimmy Garoppolo’s return from a high-ankle sprain, and it will be a short-lived one. The 28-year-old compelled ugly throws into protection—underthrowing the primary and airmailing the second—for picks on the workforce’s last two possession of the primary half, and was yanked in favor of C.J. Beathard at halftime. “Simply form of watching how we have been taking part in as a complete, how he was taking part in. You can inform he was affected by his ankle,” Kyle Shanahan stated postgame. “However I do know he does not usually throw the ball that manner, and I believe he was struggling a little bit bit due to it and the best way the sport was going, that I wasn’t going to maintain placing him in these positions realizing we have been going to need to throw it loads to return again.” Which is comprehensible, in a vacuum. The difficulty right here is that the Niners mulled different choices on the place final spring (specifically, Tom Brady), and so something approximating a benching goes to elicit extra questions. The primary one is straightforward, and might be answered within the coming weeks—when push involves shove, simply how tethered to Garoppolo are the Niners? Bear in mind, he doesn’t have one other assured greenback due on his contract. And there must be some engaging QB choices on the market, if he doesn’t get again on observe.
I wouldn’t get overly involved about Mike Thomas’s battle with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. My understanding of what went down is pretty straight-forward. Throughout a aggressive, five-play red-zone drill on Saturday, Thomas took exception with one thing whereas Gardner-Johnson was overlaying him. Gardner-Johnson fired again. And the 2 have been off, jawing at one another. A pair performs later, the temperature now rising, Thomas wound up and swung at Gardner-Johnson, who was carrying a helmet, and the 2 needed to be separated. Then, Thomas hesitated to apologize which, I’ve heard, contributed to the punishment. That, so far as I do know, was the top of it. Two guys who’re over-the-top aggressive misplaced their cool on the follow discipline. I believe the Saints might be O.Ok.
The Rams proceed to be a workforce to observe for me. They’re 4–1, with the lone loss being the sport in Buffalo, by which they raced again from a 28–Three deficit to take a 32–28 lead earlier than falling 35–32. They usually’re doing this with a remade workers, a reworked roster and after biking guys like Dante Fowler, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks off the workforce. I additionally assume their schedule has added an fascinating dynamic. Try the final 4 weeks …
• Week 2: LAX-PHL, 2,401 miles.
• Week 3: LAX-BUF, 2,217 miles.
• Week 4: House recreation.
• Week 5: LAX-BWI, 2,329 miles.
That’s a whole lot of time in transit. And whereas they’re not precisely going via TSA at Terminal B, the pandemic has made all the things about this form of journey a little bit tougher, and extra nerve-racking. Which is why Sean McVay sounded pleased with his group when he was requested concerning the journey on Sunday, after beating his previous workforce in Washington, 30–10. “I believe [it’s] simply what we have already form of recognized, that this can be a mature workforce,” McVay stated. “They’ll deal with a whole lot of issues.” Subsequent up: The Niners in Santa Clara subsequent Sunday. You’ll keep in mind McVay’s previous buddy Shanahan swept him final yr. Fairly positive he hasn’t forgotten it.
The Washington quarterback scenario goes to stay fluid all yr. I do know that the workers needs to present Kyle Allen a good shot to point out what he can do. And the extra Alex Smith gets his feet wet football-wise, the extra his expertise stage goes to point out up on the sphere. So my guess is we’ll see a few of each these guys. And Dwayne Haskins? I really consider that is as much as him from right here. That Ron Rivera didn’t draft him is an important nuance to this complete scenario—there’s nothing actually stopping Rivera from taking a quarterback excessive within the draft or signing somebody like Cam Newton in 2021, as a result of Haskins isn’t actually part of his file in D.C. So now, as I see it, it’s on Haskins to get a greater grasp of the offense and present he can deal with the demotion professionally. If he does that, I believe he’ll get one other shot by the top of the yr. If he doesn’t, properly, then it’s not arduous to see the place this one will wind up going.
I really like the place Carolina goes. The toughness and buy-in there has accelerated the workforce’s progress, and at this level, three straight wins are displaying us a few of that development. They’ve executed a whole lot of the larger image issues properly—Teddy Bridgewater’s taking part in good, environment friendly ball (116.2 passer ranking Sunday) with Joe Brady as his OC, and the workforce, even with out Christian McCaffrey, scratched out 4.6 yards per carry in Atlanta. However what’s most spectacular to me is how they’re successful on the margins. Take, for instance, the man who successfully ended Quinn’s five-plus-year run as Falcons coach, Juston Burris. He bounced from the Jets to the Browns to the Raiders and again to the Browns over the primary 4 years of his profession, logging follow squad time alongside the best way. The Panthers gave him brief cash in March (two years, $Eight million), and there he was ultimately zone within the fourth quarter on Sunday to choose off Matt Ryan, with the Falcons within the pink zone, down 20–13. And you could find tales like Burris’s throughout that roster. It’s going to be enjoyable to see the place Rhule takes the entire operation from right here.
If I’m the Bengals, I could also be searching for offensive line assist. And I do know you’ll have to overpay to get it this time of yr. However Joe Burrow can’t preserve taking photographs like he did towards the Ravens—the rookie was sacked seven instances. If there’s one positive approach to wreck a younger QB, that is it. And I say that with the sensation that Zac Taylor, Brian Callahan and Dan Pitcher have executed a very nice job growing him, and the understanding that, due to his aggressive nature, he will get himself in hassle generally. Which solely ought to provide you with extra motivation to guard him from himself.
SIX FROM SATURDAY
1) Trevor Lawrence appears to be like like a virtually excellent NFL prospect at quarterback for Clemson, and the tailback who traces up subsequent to him is perhaps far behind. Do your self a favor if you happen to didn’t see Saturday’s recreation and discover video of Travis Etienne’s evening. A number of scouts have been surprised he didn’t declare in January, and he once more confirmed why, displaying energy, versatility and big-play skill all evening at The U’s expense. I requested a scout for a comp throughout the recreation and he gave me Dalvin Prepare dinner. He appears to be like like a reliable first-round decide.
2) For all of the jokes, Lane Kiffin can actually coach an offense. I’d need to look nearer to see if there’s an A.J. Brown or D.Ok. Metcalf on the market—it didn’t look like it—however 48 factors on Nick Saban’s protection is 48 factors on Nick Saban’s protection.
3) Georgia linebacker Monty Rice is a blast to observe. I requested round some, and it doesn’t sound like scouts view him the best way they did Alec Ogletree or Roquan Smith popping out. However Rice, presently seen as a stable day-two decide, is quick and instinctive, and he’s acquired a whole lot of ball left with which to enhance his inventory.
4) With Texas and Oklahoma presumably out of the working for the CFP, the Oct. 24 recreation between Iowa State and Oklahoma State looms as an enormous one for the Massive 12, and possibly within the NFL teaching carousel too. The Cyclones have rattled off three straight wins after a season-opening upset loss to Louisiana—upending each TCU and Oklahoma alongside the best way—and their coach, Matt Campbell, stays a reputation to observe within the professionals. The Jets kicked the tires on him earlier than hiring Adam Gase (he turned them away early within the course of), and the Browns have been related to him at instances. A win over Oklahoma State would set ISU as much as go to Texas at 7–1 over Thanksgiving weekend. And that may preserve him within the sights of groups wanting.
5) Talking of, if Tom Herman doesn’t survive the calendar yr as Texas’s coach, he’d be a very fascinating offensive coordinator rent for somebody within the NFL. Herman’s creativity and talent to develop expertise was obvious at each Ohio State and Houston, and it’s nonetheless there at Texas—whilst different issues have festered.
6) Right here’s one factor I forgot to incorporate in last week’s MAQB: an evaluation from a scout who labored Trey Lance’s last faculty recreation, a North Dakota State win over Central Arkansas final weekend. So I’ll give it to you now. “The athlete/runner was spectacular, however he missed too many throws (early), then it felt like he was urgent. Got here on within the fourth quarter and made some extra throws, added some extra runs, and his accuracy and decision-making have been higher late.” That is smart, too, on condition that this actually was Lance’s final shot at his first impression with a whole lot of groups. It’s clearly early, however the consensus on the 2021 quarterbacks appears pretty straight-forward for now. It’s Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Lance, in that order.
BEST OF THE NFL INTERNET
I loved all of the hand-wringing over this. Tom Brady’s an intense competitor. Which has led to those types of moments, usually, up to now. And his workforce wasn’t taking part in a very buttoned-up recreation on Thursday evening. Therefore, the extreme competitor had a second in a time of comprehensible frustration.
It’s important to really feel superior for Smith’s spouse and youngsters, too. Simply an unimaginable second.
Respect from the person who suffered a equally grotesque harm 33 years to the day of Smith’s.
And respect from one other man who can relate.
And respect from the opposite facet, too.
Ball expertise. And balls. Loopy, gutsy catch by Hopkins.
Even acquired the sentimental music for the second!!
Goff’s taking part in nice, so we’re simply attempting to present him one thing to work on.
If you happen to wanted extra purpose to like Claypool …
… I’ll give it to you.
That is apparently a factor, as a result of Tuitt used this line too, with me: “You have acquired an incredible quarterback that may lead you open, and if he throws you the ball and calls your quantity, make the play. And he known as his quantity a pair instances immediately and he was in a position to produce. It was an incredible connection between 7 and 11.”
A number of well-wishes on the market on the web.
We’ll have loads of time to debate that final half.
I agree with Pryor on that. Jason’s dude.
That’s one. However not pretty much as good …
… Because the one I discovered (Sorry, Scott).
That pizza appears to be like good, and I’ll want extra info on it.
MONDAY NIGHT SPOTLIGHT
Every week, we’ll join with a participant set to climb atop the Monday Night time Soccer stage to get solutions to a couple questions. This week, Chargers first-round decide and rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray.
MMQB: You’re third on the workforce in defensive snaps. What do you assume it says that you simply’ve gotten there as a rookie?
KM: I believe it’s a testomony to the coaches’ belief in me. I actually assume that’s it. Simply having the ability to are available in, have an understanding of the scheme after which having the ability to exit and execute. I believe it’s the belief issue, that’s why you see me taking part in as a lot as I’m.
MMQB: How’d you earn their belief?
KM: Simply realizing what you’re alleged to do, day in and time out. In the event that they don’t see that you simply’re in a position to grasp and perceive and execute then clearly you don’t acquire that belief. So I believe it’s simply having the ability to present I can go on the market and execute.
MMQB: Is there anybody within the locker room who’s helped you get you able to go?
KM : Yeah, actually, it’s all of the linebackers that have been right here earlier than I acquired there. They’ve been an incredible assist—Denzel Perryman, Kyzir White, Drue [Tranquill], actually all people. It’s been a collective effort. They’ve all been useful and attempting to make my transition as clean as doable.
MMQB: What’s been the largest adjustment then?
KM: Clearly total, you could have some various things scheme-wise that I hadn’t been doing in faculty, that I’ve to get used to. Total, that’s actually it. It’s nonetheless soccer on the finish of the day.
MMQB: You noticed a model of the Saints’ offense at LSU in your final faculty recreation. Did that aid you in any respect?
KM: To be trustworthy, you take a look at it totally different, you recreation plan for it totally different and it’s additionally totally different for me as a result of I’ve a greater data of the sport than I did eight, 9 months in the past. All that elements into making it totally different. You’re taking a look at it from a brand new perspective, seeing what they do. They’ve a very good offense, a very balanced offense. I’m excited to play them on Monday.
MMQB: What’s the largest problem as a linebacker taking part in towards the Saints offense?
KM: It’s a enjoyable problem for us as a result of we see a workforce that’s actually dedicated to the run recreation. And as a linebacker, that’s form of like my child. That’s the a part of the sport you’re taking probably the most private. So coming off per week the place we might not have had one of the best week, run defense-wise, we’re excited to get on the market and bounce again and get again to who we’re.
MMQB: Clearly, Alvin Kamara’s the man for them in that part. What’s the problem in coping with him as a linebacker?
KM: He’s clearly a proficient man. However we’ve got proficient guys too. We sit up for going on the market and competing, to be trustworthy. He’s a man that’s in a position to be shifty out and in of his cuts, so it’s important to know that while you’re attacking him and simply go on the market and play soccer.
MMQB: Had been you listening to the hurricane this week, and the way the sport may’ve gotten moved to Indy?
KM: Nah, not likely. I heard about it. However that’s all, I simply heard about. I wasn’t centered on it way more than listening to it was a chance. It doesn’t actually matter, we might play in the midst of car parking zone, we’re gonna go on the market and play soccer.
MMQB: Coming in with fellow rookie Justin Herbert, how lengthy did it take you to acknowledge what sort of participant he’s?
KM: I’d say it was in camp, simply watching him throw the ball. He throws such ball. After which watching how mature he’s. He’s in a position to look off safeties and use his eyes in numerous features. A number of instances you don’t see that in younger quarterbacks. And so seeing issues like that instructed me he’s a man that’s positively able to being an incredible participant on this league.
MMQB: Have you ever guys talked in any respect about the way you each may very well be leaders right here for a very long time, based mostly on the positions you guys play?
KM: Yeah, we clearly each issue that in and perceive the place we’re in. And so for us it’s simply to exit and proceed to show it on Sunday and do what we do greatest when alternatives current themselves leadership-wise.
MMQB: How would you assess your play via 4 weeks?
KM: I really feel like I’m getting higher each week. And I believe that’s one thing I’ve harped on myself on doing, simply looking for one thing to get higher at each week, actually being essential of myself. For me, I really feel like each week I see one thing a little bit bit sooner, I learn one thing a little bit bit sooner, I’m in a position to make extra performs. I’m flying round to the soccer and I believe so long as I’m doing that, I’ll proceed to see extra enchancment and extra huge performs in my recreation.
MMQB: I do keep in mind listening to earlier than the draft how excessive character you might be. Why do you assume individuals acquired that impression of you?
KM: I believe that’s due to my focus and my dedication to wish to be nice. I believe that’s the place it comes from. I perceive what it takes, I perceive it takes loads to be nice. That’s one thing I wish to do. I don’t wish to simply be mediocre or common on this league. I wish to be referred to as one of the best within the recreation throughout my time right here on this league. I do know it’s gonna take loads. It takes a man being centered. In order that’s the place I believe that comes from.
MMQB: Something further for you taking part in on the Monday evening stage?
KM: I imply, clearly, it’s Monday Night time Soccer. You dream of taking part in in prime time, Sunday evening, Monday evening. So I’m grateful for this chance and I’m gonna go take full benefit.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
It’s 4:52 a.m. ET, and I’m submitting this story and going to mattress. See you guys mid-afternoon for the MAQB.