If your favorite NFL team is 0-2, I’ve got some bad news to share. Since 2007, 91 teams have started the season 0-2 and just 10 (10.9 percent) of them went onto make the playoffs. There are currently seven 0-2 teams in the NFL: Bills, Texans, Raiders, Giants, Lions, Seahawks and Cardinals.
The odds are not in favor of the postseason for the aforementioned teams and things drastically get worse if they fall to 0-3. Since 1980, 168 teams have started 0-3 and just 5 (2.9 percent) of them managed to qualify for the postseason.
The last 0-3 team to make the playoffs? The 1998 Buffalo Bills who finished 10-6 and sparked the classic Rob Johnson-Doug Flutie QB controversy.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open!
Big QB Tests
Last week I talked about Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins and his big test looming against TCU. 344 passing yards and two touchdowns in the 40-28 Buckeyes win later, Haskins nearly aced it. Keep an eye on him moving forward. He’s only a redshirt sophomore so there’s no guarantee we see him in the coming draft, but his traits are arguably the most exciting of any draft-eligible quarterback in the nation.
This week, more big matchups await other top QB prospects and I’ll be paying close attention. The noon slate of games on a college football Saturday can often leave much to be desired. And while I don’t expect the Missouri-Georgia game to provide a competitive contest, Missouri Senior QB Drew Lock against the Georgia defense will be revealing. Lock has a three-game stretch of games against Georgia, South Carolina and then Alabama which will be defining for his NFL evaluation.
Facing Tennessee-Martin, Wyoming and Purdue to start the season, Lock is sixth in the nation in passing with 1,062 yards with 11 touchdowns, one interception and completing 69 percent of his attempts. Operating in a wide open spread attack, Lock is carving up zone coverage and hitting dimes down the field against man looks. There’s been very little resistance against underwhelming competition but that’s about to change. We’ll revisit Lock after this gauntlet of tests.
Man I like the decision, placement and touch on this throw from Drew Lock pic.twitter.com/KHnM3JaqQU
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) September 13, 2018
After watching the 3:30 kickoff of your choosing, stick around for Oregon-Stanford at 8pm ET, where top QB prospect Justin Herbert takes on a Stanford defense that has allowed just 23 points through three games this season.
In a battle of Pac 12 undefeateds, I’ll be paying close attention to Herbert who offers a tantalizing skill set. He’s features a 6-foot-6 233 pounds frame with impressive mobility and a cannon for a right arm. If you watch him play, he slings it all around the yard to all levels of the field. With that said, seeing more from him in terms of working progressions and hitting throws with anticipation is needed for his development. There has also been some inconsistency with accuracy so monitoring his progress against a superb Cardinal defenses is critical for his evaluation.
We’re going to learn some things on Saturday about the 2019 QB class.
Rise of the Pocket Rocket Running Back (sort of)
Becoming the first ever UDFA to total at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two games, Broncos’ rookie RB Phillip Lindsay’s had an unbelievable start his career. What’s even crazier is that he’s 5-foot-8 and 184 pounds. Time will tell if he continues to produce at this level but a quick glance over the NFL’s current rushing leaders list reveals something I didn’t expect: sub-200 pound running backs are finding success.
Leading the NFL in rushing is Matt Breida who is 195 pounds with Lindsay third. Dion Lewis (5-foot-8, 195), Austin Ekeler (5-foot-8, 195) are also in the top 15 in rushing, putting four sub-200 pound backs among the most productive runners in the league so far this season.
Don’t get me wrong, the list is dominated by bulky runners built to endure a sizable workload for the duration of the season. But looking over the potential top backs for the 2019 draft, smaller runners carving out NFL roles is a good sign for them. Here’s the school-listed measurements from some of the potential top-10 running backs in the 2019 class:
- Justice Hill, Oklahoma State:5-foot-10, 190 pounds
- Bryce Love, Stanford: 5-foot-9, 196 pounds
- Myles Gaskins, Washington: 5-foot-9, 191 pounds
- Karan Higdon, Michigan: 5-foot-9, 190 pounds
- Travis Homer, Miami: 5-foot-11, 195 pounds
Keep in mind the listed numbers are usually quite generous, especially for smaller running backs.
When the Fitzmagic wears off…
The Fitzmagic has been at an all-time high to start the 2018 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ryan Fitzpatrick – the real Fitzmagic – has tossed for over 400 yards in each of Tampa’s first two games of the season with eight touchdown passes.
While not to this extent, Fitzmagic has been strong at various points his 14-year career. But at 35-years old, I promise you Fitz is not about to rewrite the NFL record books and the magic always wears off. We know who Fitz is as a quarterback. He’s more than an established NFL veteran and expecting him to suddenly morph into Kurt Warner circa 2001 for an entire season is not realistic.
Let’s look at some glaring issues with the Bucs that reveal some major concerns.
- TB is 27th in the NFL in rushing yards
- TB is averaging the fewest yards per rushing attempt in the NFL
- TB is 31st in yards allowed on defense
- TB is 31st in passing yards allowed per game
- TB is allowing 30.5 points per game which is 27th in the NFL
The regression to the mean is coming for Tampa Bay and the 2-0 start with wins over the Saints and Eagles were very unexpected for a reason. Don’t let the Fitzmagic distract you from the notable shortcomings of this team and realize the Bucs aren’t ready to compete in the NFC.
I saw Fitz lead the 2011 Buffalo Bills to a 5-1 start and finish the year 7-9. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Bucs fans.
Bama, Then Everyone Else?
The top four teams in college football as of today are clearly some order of Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State. As a Clemson truther entering the season, and I still am, it’s becoming abundantly clear that Bama just might be in a league of their own.
Outside of a challenging SEC West schedule, my biggest concern with the Tide coming into the season was its secondary. Losing its top three corners and starting safety tandem to the NFL, we were not certain how the new-look secondary would gel. Bama always reloads with highly touted recruits but it was a fair concern.
After holding Ole Miss to seven points in its own backyard and limiting Rebels’ QB Jordan Ta’amu to just 7 completions on 22 attempts, those worries have been erased. Ole Miss features the best group of receivers in college football and Bama blanked them!
QB Tua Tagovailoa is an exciting talent that gives Bama its most potent passing attack ever in the Saban era. As always, the rest of the roster is stacked and its just hard to envision an opponent playing well enough to outlast the Tide for four quarters.
Obviously, Alabama has to go out and prove it but I sure am regretting my preseason prediction to exclude them from the playoffs.
Corey Coleman is Cooked
What a disaster Coleman has been. In less than a month, Coleman was traded from the Browns to the Bills for a bag of peanuts, cut by the Bills, signed by Patriots and finally released from the Patriots. Buffalo and New England aren’t teams in position to move on from talented receivers that can produce on Sundays.
I give Coleman 4 weeks on that roster. He’s not a visual learner. Has to physically rep things to get it. Brady & Belichick will lose patience with time it will take him to get up to speed. Not cut out for Pats demanding environment. https://t.co/WNK5n5Gyv8
— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrownBills) September 11, 2018
That aged even better than Chris probably even expected. Yes, Coleman has outstanding speed but there is so much more to playing receiver than running fast.
Just from watching Coleman in the preseason it was clear that knowing where to lineup was a struggle much less executing post-snap. He may get another chance on an NFL roster but its’ hard to see it ever working out for Coleman or coming close to delivering on his status as a first round draft pick.
Best Football Player I Saw This Week: Patrick Mahomes
Goodness gracious does Mahomes look like a special football player and MVP candidate. He carved up the Steelers for 326 passing yards and a ridiculous 6 touchdowns, out-dueling Ben Roethlisberger to a 42-37 victory in the Steel City.
Completing 69 percent of his passes for 582 yards with 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in two games (both on the road) to start the season, Mahomes is putting up video game-like numbers. The Mahomes era literally could not be off to a better start.
The Chiefs deserve a ton of credit for masterfully acclimating him to the starting gig. Trading up from No. 27 to No. 10, the Chiefs identified their man and did what it took to acquire him. Blessed with exceptional physical traits and coming from the Texas Tech air raid system, Kansas City wisely sat him as a rookie to learn under Andy Reid and serve as Alex Smith’s understudy. In Year 1 as the starter, the Chiefs returned a veteran offensive line, a star running back in Kareem Hunt, a top 5 NFL tight end in Travis Kelce and immensely talented receivers in Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins to usher in the Mahomes era.
Every situation is different but the way Mahomes handled this transition was masterfully done.
Now there are plenty of concerns to be had with KC’s defense but Mahomes is taking the league by storm. The Chiefs offense is quickly turning into must-see TV. Kansas City hosts San Francisco on Sunday.