Every NFL team has played three games and there are four franchises with a .500 record. In fact, there are more 1-1-1 teams than there are those with 3-0 or 0-3 records.
Isn’t today’s NFL wonderful? Ties, bogus penalties, ridiculous roughing the passer calls, unending touchbacks, missed extra points and a severe supply-demand issue for quality offensive lineman. But we love it and there is almost nothing that is going to keep us from consuming it.
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!
I am excited and nervous all at the same time. Rosen was my QB1 in last year’s draft, ranked just slightly in front of Baker Mayfield. I’m incredibly excited about what he can become and his skill set is perfect for winning in the NFL. I called him the most pro-ready passer in last year’s draft and I meant it.
This Cardinals team is a complete disaster. Scoring on only 9.7 percent of its offensive possessions so far this season, Arizona is dead last in the NFL and the next closest team is the Vikings at 21.6 percent. A quick look glance at the offensive line and weapons, along with the cooked Sam Bradford at QB, and it’s not hard to see why the Cards are so underwhelming on offense. Hopefully Rosen can ignite the team but this is a tall order for a rookie QB.
We have to keep all of that in mind when watching Rosen play this year. Don’t fall victim to pouncing on bad performances like so many did to Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, and the same goes for all four of the rookie starting quarterbacks. The key thing is to see growth and the same mistakes not being repeated.
Rosen’s playing time in a lost year for the Cardinals should do wonders for Rosen. It’s an opportunity for Rosen to get accustomed to the NFL game and learn what he can and cannot get away with. In remembering his low points at UCLA, it was often being too greedy and confident in the places he can fit the ball. Rosen is inevitably going to take his lumps but he will be better for the exposure.
Good luck, Joshua. I’m rooting for you.
Vikings, Steelers Have Potentially Fatal Flaws
Nobody would have blinked if your preseason Super Bowl prediction was Vikings-Steelers, but the early portion of the season has revealed weaknesses on both teams that they may not be able to overcome.
For Pittsburgh, the secondary has been extremely poor. Artie Burns is not developing like a first-round corner in year 3 should, Joe Haden is showing signs of age and Coty Sensabaugh has played extensively the last two weeks and hasn’t performed like a rosterable player. The Steelers are 28th in passing yards allowed per game with 288 and have allowed a league-high 10 touchdown passes through three games. The secondary needs to gel for Pittsburgh to be taken seriously as a contender.
We knew Minnesota had glaring holes on the offensive line and it looks like it could spoil a championship-caliber roster at every other position. Football games are won in the trenches and the Vikings are likely to be over-matched on a weekly basis up front. Minnesota is one of only two teams with less than 200 rushing yards on the season (the other is Arizona) and it’s because the guys up front aren’t creating movement. Pat Elflein is being mixed back into the lineup but the veterans Minnesota most relies on in Mike Remmers and Riley Reif are getting torched in pass pro. The Vikings need to turn things around quickly up front or expectations aren’t going to be met.
Taylor Moton Emerging
The way Moton has performed this season has been outstanding and exactly what the Carolina Panthers needed. Carolina’s offensive line has been decimated by injuries and Moton has proven to be the model of consistency early this season.
The Panthers preferred starting five ideally would be:
LT-Matt Kalil, LG-Taylor Moton, C-Ryan Kalil, RG-Trai Turner, RT-Darly Williams
On Sunday agains the Bengals it was:
LT-Chris Clark, LG-Greg Can Roten, C-Ryan Kalil, RG-Tyler Larsen, RT-Taylor Moton
The Moton-led line limited an outstanding Bengals pass rush to only two hits on QB Cam Newton and paved the way for a career-high 184 rushing yards for RB Christian McCaffrey.
What’s most impressive about Moton is that he hasn’t even had a chance to gel at any one position. Entering the season, it felt like the left guard job was his to loose. When Williams went down with the knee injury in preseason, Moton slid over to right tackle before shift to left tackle after the Kalil injury. He started the season in Week 1 at left tackle but the last two week’s have been on the right side. He’s been a stabilizing force up front for Carolina and has the makings of a building block moving forward.
With Williams contract expiring after the season, Ryan Kalil retiring and Matt Kalil fluttering, him emerging with Turner gives the Panthers a couple nice pieces to work with for the future.
The Kelly Bryant Situation
Get ready for post-week 4 transfers to become the norm in college football given the new redshirt rules that allow a player to be active in four games and not lose a season of eligibility.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has committed to freshman QB Trevor Lawrence as his starter which prompted Bryant’s decision to transfer. Both the decision for Dabo to move forward with Lawrence and Bryants’ decision to transfer make perfect sense.
For Clemson, nobody cares if they go 13-1 or 12-2 with a loss in the playoffs. The goal is to win a National Championship and Bryant’s limitations as a passer held the Tigers back in its playoff loss to Alabama last season. The Tide contained Bryant and forced him to win from the pocket and he couldn’t find success. Bryant finished 18-of-36 for 124 yards with 2 interceptions in Clemson’s 24-6 loss. More consistency is needed in the passing game to win a National Title and Lawrence’s potential is more appealing than what we know about Bryant.
For Bryant, he isn’t going to maximize his draft stock by riding the pine for Clemson and a transfer is a logical move especially because he can start right away in 2019.
What makes no sense to me is how Bryant responded to Dabo’s decision. In an exclusive interview with The Greenville News, Bryant had some peculiar comments.
“I feel like it’s what’s best for me and my future,” Bryant said. “I was just going to control what I could control and try to make the most of my opportunity, but at the end of the day, I just don’t feel like I’ve gotten a fair shot.”
What??? He didn’t get a fair shot??? He started the last 18 games at Clemson! He performed side-by-side with Lawrence this season and it was clear Lawrence was superior running the offense.
I am sure Bryant has done everything possible to be Clemson’s starter and was probably told he was going to be the guy when Deshaun Watson left. With that said, he still has to be the best QB on the roster to cling to the starting job and Lawrence has surpassed him. Dabo couldn’t keep him on the bench; he had to make this move now and get Lawrence more experience heading into the ACC Championship and likely playoffs.
Bryant will have plenty of suitors as a transfer and I wish him every success moving forward. But a fair shot he was absolutely given.
Back on the Road
After Hurricane Florence spoiled the last two games on my travel schedule, I am back on the road this weekend to scout NC State vs Virginia. Who will I be focusing on?
- Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State – Alpha receiver with 1st round upside.
- Ryan Finley, QB, NC State – Methodical QB that some see as a potential 1st rounder. I’m not convinced of that but this is his biggest test of the season so far.
- Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State – One of my favorite sleepers in this years class. He’s rangy, excels in space, plays physical and has Day 2 upside.
- Garrett Bradbury, IOL, NC State – A technician that has an NFL future.
- Jakobi Meyers, WR, NC State – Has had monster games against top competition. He’s a converted QB that is developing quickly at receiver.
- Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia – A converted CB, Thorhnill is physical player with outstanding ball skills. He has Day 2 upside.
- Olamide Zaccheaus, WR, Virginia – He is an explosive weapon that is re-writing the Cavs record books.
The game kicksoff at 12:20PM eastern and all the marquee matchups start later on Saturday so watch along with me. Don’t sleep on this great scouting showcase!
Best Football Player I Saw This Week: Baker Mayfield
What this man did last Thursday Night was pure magic.
An unfortunate injury to Browns QB Tyrod Taylor forced Mayfield into the lineup and fireworks ensued. Trailing 14-0, Mayfield led four scoring drives to engineer a come-from-behind 21-17 victory against the Jets. It was Cleveland’s first win in 19 games which was the NFL’s second-longest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
Mayfield finished 17-of-23 for 201 yards in just over a half of action following Taylor’s injury.
Prior to Mayfield taking the field, Cleveland’s offense was bumbling with miscues, poor execution and just appeared putrid. Browns head coach Hue Jackson refused to give Mayfield reps with the first-team during the preseason so this was Mayfield’s first action with the ones and he executed masterfully.
Mayfield was in rhythm, confident, accurate and inspiring with his performance. He elevated the play of his teammates and ignited the team with his leadership.
I feel sorry for you if you aren’t a Baker Mayfield fan. He’s an exceptional talent that is primed to solidify the QB position for years in Cleveland. I couldn’t be happier for Browns’ fans.