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Ten Things I Liked About Week Seven In The NFL

Ramsey v. Hopkins, Cleveland sucks, A Leader of Men leads. Aaron Donald sacks. These are some of the things Matt Weston liked about Week Seven of the 2018 season.

Tennessee Titans v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Here’s what I liked about Week 7.

1.) Expose The Frauds

The Titans started the season 3-1. They won three games by one possession. They beat Houston, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia. Three pretty good teams. They then lost two one possession games, and to Baltimore, the best team they’ve played all year, 21-0.

The Dolphins started the season 3-0. They beat Tennessee, New York (J), and Oakland all by one possession, then lost by 21, 10, and 11 to New England, Cincinnati, and Detroit, and snuck one out against Chicago thanks to some redzone possessions.

Both these teams had some run ins with one score luck. The gravy fountain is dry. No longer can they sneak their way into the postseason by playing insidious football. I really can’t take a terrible wild card team this year. No Buffalo, No Miami, no Tennessee getting in because Baltimore and Los Angeles (C) see the inverse of what they have been provided. I can’t stomach another season where the Pats shoot a loogie and end up in the AFC Championship game.

2.) Fail Mary

I have never seen this before. I almost died laughing. Kevin White is now just Jaelen Strong I guess. That’s better than he was before.

3.) The Legend Of One Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are a turning defenses into Alamogordo. The lowest tally they’ve been held to is 27 against the Denver Broncos. Since then, when questions were raised if the Broncos had figured them out, if the magic was running out of mana, they replied with a hydra of 30, 40, and 45 points scored. Absurd. Not even a good Bengals’ defense could keep up with them in primetime football.

My new favorite about watching the Chiefs play is this myth, this legend, the broadcasts are rushing to create. Every week some intern is calling up every family member, pewee football coach, acquaintance, Texas high school football coach, to get grainy videos of Mahomes doing something with his arm. One week it’s a 90 yard high school touchdown pass. Another it’s a Powerade commercial 115 yard warm up throw. But last week is something I don’t think that can be topped.

They found a video of an 8 year old Patrick Mahomes throwing a basketball at the buzzer. He of course throws it over his shoulder with perfect form. The ball of finds its way into the hoop. The bard continues to sing. It is written. One day he will save the world.

It’s never going to stop. They’re going to keep finding more and more of this. Mahomes in a diaper throwing a cat. Mahomes heaving his rattle when his eyes were still blue. Mahomes tossing a gum wrapper into a city owned trash can. Mahomes spear fishing a Beluga whale this offseason. I’m going to liquidate my assets and buy up all the Mahomes throwing footage out there, copyright it, sell it to CBS, NBC, ESPN, Buzzfeed, whatever, retire and go out and die in the desert.

4.) Jalen v. DeAndre

I don’t know much at all about cornerback/wide receiver play. I’m 7’6” 340 pounds. I’m a gigantic man. The state won’t let me around kittens anymore. Whenever I played my hand was in the dirt like a real man, and hell, even when I played NFL street, I just stood in the center of the field, got torched as a wannabe safety, or just ran post routes over and over again. The specifics, hip swiveling, hand fighting, keys, torso manipulation, is all a mystery to me. I just watch it and think wow, it’s pretty cool and he stepped there and there and than ran over there to get open and catch that football.

So when I watch DeAndre Hopkins v. Jalen Ramsey, my favorite of all the cornerback v. defensive back matchups that occurs like the solstice, I’m enthralled, I’m joyous, I just don’t fully understand what’s going on. There’s a naive love of literalism and enjoying something for exactly what it is. Two skeletons wrapped in muscle running around to the tune of preset rules and expected movements.

DeAndre Hopkins had a moment in a 31-0 game against Ramsey last year. He beat Jalen Ramsey two out of three times to stave off the shutout. Beating Ramsey once with a fade route on a double move, and again to score with some hand fighting. That’s really it. Since Ramsey has come into the league, he’s struggled against the Jags. Before this game Hopkins had 27 catches on 59 targets for 320 yards, numbers that come out to 5.42 yards a target, 11.85 yards a reception, and a 45.67% catch rate. Whatever numbers that Donte Moncrieft would die for. But nothing comparable to what he does against the Colts and Titans.

In this game Hopkins had only 3 catches on 8 targets for 50 yards and caught 1 touchdown, and spent the entire game running routes one v. one against Ramsey. The entire game was a symphony of hand fighting between these two. Ramsey strong and sunk to the bottom of the sea, and Hopkins an eel slithering among the rocks.

I’ll always see Hopkins’s one handed catch against him. The Jags crowded the line of scrimmage before the snap. With everyone into block they brought it all, and dropped the safety to a robber position. Houston ran three routes from that. Two sideline fades with Fuller V and Hopkins, and a quick out to the right sideline. Hopkins gets open with a slight right hand. He doesn’t fully extend, but rather alligator arms Ramsey to create just enough of a window. Without full extension the ref keeps his hand his pocket. This little bit of space was all Deshaun Watson needed to lead him. The ball lands in his outstretched left hand—a pure one handed catch.

Hopkins’s touchdown was as violent of a route you can run. Ramsey is pressed up against him at the line of scrimmage. He maintains outside placement to protect against a corner endzone fade attempt. As a jump baller, Ramsey can’t soar to the heights Hopkins can. Rather than glide to the corner, Hopkins shuffles, sticks his right foot, clubs Ramsey with his left hand, and cuts inside. Watson wafts the ball over Barry Church’s head.

His third catch was an elongated out route. Hopkins runs inside at a soft angle, and slaps Ramsey’s one hand press away. Ramsey turns around. When he breaks to the sideline, Ramsey turns and breaks with him. Hopkins expects it and uses his inside arm to keep Ramsey off him when he cuts wide. This strength bumps Ramsey off his path. Hopkins almost picks up the first on first down. Mouth piece dangling. Ramsey is in dismay.

None of it was easy. It’s exhausting getting open against Ramsey. All of that effort just to make three catches. A constant headache of door propping arm extensions, tussling, and head punching, to create 50 yards. When Hopkins wasn’t getting open, he was pressed to the sideline during the five yard allowance.

He was surprising Ramsey with a shoplifter’s gait.

He was herded to the sideline after a head punch failed to work. A play where Watson was correct to just toss it up and away.

Yesterday’s slap fighting was everything you could want it to be. A physical wide receiver-cornerback battle between two top five players at their position, and maybe the best against the best depending on how you see it. Houston. Jacksonville. Week 17. Let’s run it back.

5.) [In An Intro To A 1995 Sitcom] Cleveland Sucks!

My discipline is withering away. I feel like I’m trying to fast for three days or go on a ketogenic diet or stop eating anything with added sugar and only drink water. I want to watch Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, Jabril Peppers, Larry Ogunjobi, and Denzel Ward. But I flat out refuse to watch a Hue Jackson coached team. He should be in jail for last year’s 0-16 season, and ruining the process. All that young talent wasted, Deshone Kizer ruined, because this man doesn’t know how to manage a game or run an offense unless he has a Pro Bowl quarterback playing for him.

The Browns are 2-4. Keep on losing baby. They have Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Atlanta, and Cincinnati left before they play Houston. That’s 2-8. That has to be enough to fire him. I haven’t missed a Texans game since like 2008. I really don’t want to because of principles. Come on Hue. Just a few more losses. You can do it. I believe in you. Go be the offensive coordinator of the Bengals next year once Phil Lazor gets a head coaching gig.

6.) Mike Vrabel Leader Of Men

Mike Vrabel went for two twice to try to win the game in London. The play was bad. They spread things out and Mariota threw it at a covered receiver. The reactions were better than the play itself. It’s like an exhibit I saw at the Getty where some guy electrocuted people to get a better look at how their faces crinkled up.

This is what Vrabel said afterwards.

I told the team that I made a decision that we were going to be aggressive early in the drive. When that drive started, I thought in my mind that if we scored, when we scored if there was less than 40 seconds we were going to go for two and we were going to win the game, and if there was a minute and 30, we were going to kick the extra point and go play defense. So I got a lot of faith in our players. They’ve been converting third downs and converting in those situations, and Marcus was doing everything we needed him to do and keeping plays alive. And so I can’t -- not going to second guess the call. Just didn’t work out.

I love his reasoning. He went for two not because of the probability to convert, his team’s strengths, the opponent’s weaknesses, overtime probability, having the game potentially decided on a coin flip, nope, none of that. He went for it because the Titans are going to be aggressive. They are men. They’re going to outwork you, out hit you, and then throw it from the two and one yard line to try and win a game. TITAN UP baby.

I love it. I would pull out my still beating heart for this man. I would gain seventy pounds and learn how to squat 600 pounds so I could play for this man. I would hop in a trench and eat rats for this man. Wherever he goes I go.

7.) Muah!

The 1990s Atlanta jerseys are my favorite jerseys in football. I love the logo. The falcon looks like something that can be etched on a tree to signify cannibalism ahead on some apocalyptic road map. It’s more like a vulture than a falcon. Enormous wings. Slowly flapping and staring down at all the bones. The real show stealer here is the red striping. It outlines the number, it runs down the side of the white pants, it wraps around the socks. It really ties the whole thing together. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I used to wear cutoff corduroy shorts. I love these jerseys. I love Atlanta playaction passes.

Most importantly, it’s a million times better than their 2000s rebrand. That decade was a scourge of sports logo redesigns. Once the calendar flipped to 2000 and the world kept spinning everyone felt like it was the future all the sudden. Too many 0s drives people to do crazy things. Too many teams got fast and cool and fierce. The pestilent marching Falcon became red striped, ferocious, and looked like it was in flight. The black was exchanged for midlife crisis sports car red. The white arm pit striping sucks. Resurrect General Sherman and eviscerate these things. Hide them in the Atlanta airport after an electric blackout. What was before is better than what’s now.

8.) Aaron Donald; Extraterrestrial

There are people out there living their lives. These people are watching football. They are having the same conversations we are having. Just slightly different. We praise and expound the scripture of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. There are other people doing the same thing, they’re just talking about Aaron Donald instead.

It’s usually hyperbolic rhetoric to say something like, Aaron Donald does things nobody has ever seen before. It sounds cool without being dramatic and without big heart gushing words. There have been a lot of people out there. Never, does someone do something never seen before. This is football. It isn’t some 1969 claustrophobic moon landing.

Yet, Donald does things I’ve never seen before. Right now Donald has 8 sacks (1st), 10 tackles for a loss (2nd), 13 quarterback hits (4th), and 28.5 pressures (1st). This past week he took the sack lead from J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Danielle Hunter, and Myles Garrett, by taking down C.J. BeatHARD four times. All while doing things I’ve never seen before.

On sack number one, the 49ers slide the pass protection to the left. Instead of help Weston Richburg, Laken Tomilson offers a weak hand to the inside, maintaining all of his focus on the defensive end. The ‘A’ gap? That ain’t my problem. Tomilson allows Donald to swim over him. Thankful the responsibility is passed along to someone else. There’s no punch, or shove here. Donald is around the first block without hindrance. When he makes contact with Richburg he punches his outside shoulder, taking on half of him. He grabs his punch with his right hand, and his chest with his left hand, flipping him backwards and into the quarterback. On these pushback sacks, I’ve never seen the quarterback fly like BeatHARD does here.

Donald plays 3-4 defensive end for the Rams. Stuck in the interior. One of the difficulties about playing pass rushing from this position is there are three offensive linemen around you. It’s hard to get blocked one v. one. The great ones almost always see three arms clawing at them. Wade Phillips has been coaching the 3-4 defense longer than most will ever be alive. He knows how to create one v. one matchups for Donald, like how he did with J.J. Watt before, and others before that.

On sack number two, Donald loops all the way around the right edge of the offense to get himself alone with rookie Mike McGlinchey. The right guard stands in his gap with nothing to do. While he’s in the patrol car, Donald has McGlinchey hostage. He grabs his punch attempt, comes into his chest, flattens, and takes him all the way into BEAThard. The quarterback falls trying to run away. Fade to black. Save the gore for the end.

On sack number three, it’s play action. The 49ers are faking the outside zone. On these run plays the backside tackle is trying to get to the inside shoulder of the defensive end and wall him off to create a cutback lane. Donald has absurd closing speed. Rather than fight the offensive linemen he takes the outside path. From there he can flatten to the line of scrimmage like a rat under a grimy sewer gate and find the football. As a preventive measure the 49ers also pull the strongside tight end over. Donald quickly swims past McGlinchey, rips under the tight end who doesn’t pull deep enough, and swallows up a laying down BEAThard.

Donald can also attack this play in the opposite direction. On an outside zone attempt, against the same rookie tackle, Donald stays in place while McGlinchey tries to get to the outside shoulder as the playside tackle. He sits while he takes all those steps. Allowing him to run past him. He then finds the running back.

This is a diabolical way to get Donald on his own. The Rams are in their nickle package with traditional ‘3’ and ‘5’ techniques. The inside linebacker is shadowing the center. At the snap both him and Samsom Ebukam (#50) drop back, and in their place are two defensive backs blitzing. There’s a defender in every gap. The location of these blitzes, and an inside loop, get Donald all alone with the center. With a running start, his leverage, and his explosion, he’s unblockable. He bullrushes him to the quarterback. The real magic happens when he extends Richburg with his left arm to create the space needed to lasso BEAThard with his right arm. Perfection. Years of practice to master interior pass rushing.

I’ve never seen anything like this before.

9.) Actually, I Liked Them Before They Were Cool

Yeah, I saw them LIVE first. It was in a basement in 2013. The AC unit broke. Middle of August. I drank Miller Light just to survive. Best show I’ve ever seen. Look at all these people now, at this amphitheater. Posers.

There’s one thing I love undyingly and that’s AFC South football. It’s mine all mine. It’s putrescent kitty-cat neo-classical poser battles on Thursday Night in garish peepee color and blue jean chicken fried colors. It’s horrendous quarterback play that always finds its way back to other teams in the division. It’s first round playoff exits. While the rest of the country hates that first Saturday playoff game, I love it.

Last year I knew it was going to happen. The roaches would come scurrying to take what’s mine. After Jacksonville made the AFC title game, the Titans won a playoff game, the Colts picked up a new head coach and saw the return of the prodigal son, and the Texans would be healthy again, BIG MEDIA would be out and praising this division. Is it the best in football? Will it have three playoff teams? Are the Jags a Super Bowl contender? Shut up and go away. I was a spurned lover eating chili for every meal.

After the Jags three game spiral, the Titans no longer winning close games, and the Colts graveyard secondary, a bad AFC South is back. No one died in the ring. The crowd has gone home. It’s just me and Andrew Luck destroying Buffalo, TITAN UP ringing a hollow morning tone through my yellowed ribs, Blake Bortles no longer being able to game manage, and the Texans are playing 2016 football again. What was is now mine again.

10.) It’s Happening

Earlier this week the Raiders traded Amari Cooper for a first round pick. Cooper is on the last year of his rookie contract. He’s going to see his cap hit jump by about seven million next year. He currently has a concussion and the Raiders, surprise!, are awful. Who knew trading a defensive player who led the league in percentage of plays made as an edge defender on the worst defense in football would be a disaster? This year Cooper has just 22 catches for 280 yards. There are entire games where he’s unheard from. One catch for ten yards against the Chargers. Two catches for seventeen yards against the Browns. The question would have been asked if the Raiders would have even given Cooper his fifth year option, with his low production, and John Gruden’s monomaniacal commitment to scrub every player from previous Oakland iterations from his roster. The Raiders picked up a first round pick for it.

Dallas is trying to make the playoffs this year because they are always trying to make the playoffs this year while masquerading as the Superbowl contender they’ll never be. They can blame the passing offense on a lack of receivers, which has some merit, the bigger problem with their offense has been Connor Williams struggles, and a scheme that doesn’t run enough play action or utilize Dak Prescott as a runner enough. It took until week six for him finally to have ten carries in a game.

Cooper has talent to be a true number one receiver. The drops and disappearing acts are horrifying thoughts for Dallas. This trade was desperate. Cooper may end up being Roy Williams 2.0. Oakland ended up making a great trade here.

Yesterday and today Eli Apple was traded to the Saints and Damon Harrison was traded to the Lions. Both teams helped smooth out their biggest weakness with these trades. The Saints are 2nd in run defense DVOA, but 30th in pass defense DVOA. Apple was great as a rookie in 2016, struggled last year, and has been better this year. It’s going to benefit the Saints to bump the disastrous P.J. Williams down the depth chart and replace him with Apple, who is also still on his rookie contract.

The Lions’ defense is butt. They can’t rush the passer. They have top talent in the secondary, but shoddy secondary players. They can’t stop the run. Their linebackers are bad. So they added Damon Harrison, a top run stopper who just hangs over the center as a ‘1’ technique and is impossible to move. He’s one of those pre-HM04 boulders. He’ll help the run defense, but doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, and the Lions’ defense is going to be atrocious regardless. He’ll help the Lions in close games. It will make it harder to sit on the ball and run out the clock, elongating the game, adding seconds to Matthew Stafford’s life span, and as he’s shown in his entire career, that’s all he needs.

I’m tired of the NBA’s obsession with the future because the present doesn’t matter. The hot stove heats the tea pot, but in a different way now that baseball teams treat their prospects like charm bracelets. Trades are the one FUN thing these two leagyes have that the NFL doesn’t. After Philadelphia exploitied this rarely used team building strategy to exchange midround picks to garnish their roster, and rebuilding teams understanding the importance of having as many wheel spins as possible to collect young talent, there should be more trades. Regardless of scheme fit, and summer school condensed learning, more trades should happen, have happened this week, and should continue to. No longer will Jay Ajayi be the BIG name exchanged. He’s fine. There’s just more out there.