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Ten Things I Liked About Week Six In The NFL

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FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK, early down deep shots, San Francisco’s front seven, blue jean Ryan Tannehill, the ghosts of first rounds past, and five other things Matt Weston liked about week six.

San Francisco 49ers vLos Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

1. FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK

4-0

With a 2019 cap hit of $24 million, Drew Brees is the league’s most expensive backup quarterback.

2. CONDENSED OUT OF CONTEXT

“4th and goal. There’s a Seahawk in the field.”

“Come get a taste right now.”

Cowboys kecker for the second year.”

“Now there’s life.”

“You try to grab him by the...foot (CLOSE ONE) or ankle.”

“I want to know all of it. Think of it. All the plays, all the people, coverages, formations, situations, it’s an entire universe, an entire system to shred apart with a quantifiable end—win or lose. No gray. It’s black. It’s white. And I’m so wrapped up in it, that, I, forgot that time passes and one day it will all come to an end. What are you seeing on this Mike?”

“Now Flacco is going to turn it up the field.”

3. EVERY DOWN IS A DEEP PASSING DOWN

First and ten and second and ten aren’t for running the football, or cute little screens and boring passes to set up more manageable second and third downs. No. Drill a hole and get to scrambling. Toss some jalepenos and potatos in the pan and pour out the goop from that frontal hole. Stop this line of thinking. First and ten and second and ten are for playaction deep shots. They’re stacking up the box. They want you to run. They’re expecting the run. Take advantage of the yanked safety, and the cornerbacks isolated in sideline coverage.

These throws are so easy, and so advantageous, that even Kirk Cousins can make them, well except for Teddy Bridgewater’s 2nd and 20 first down conversion.

4. FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS COMING

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t finished better than 8-8 since Jim Harbaugh’s took off his Dockers in 2014. Since then they’ve gone 5-11, 2-14, 6-10, 4-12, and now, look at that, they’re 5-0. The reason for this isn’t Jimmy Garoppolo. Look at how easy these throws are. He only has to make like one tough throw a game.

The offense is fine. The run game stretches the outside zone past the preconceived limitations the mind had imposed on it, and helps the passing game. They run a ton of play action. The receivers are ok. George Kittle is the only dominant player on it. This isn’t why the 49ers are 5-0.

The 49ers are a 5-0 because they have the second best defense in football behind the New England Patriots. Both teams are playing historic defense. The 49ers have a DVOA of -41.6%, and are 1st in pass defense DVOA and 12th in run defense DVOA. They forced two interceptions last season. They had two pick sixes against the Tampa Bucaneers in week one, three total in that game, and already have seven this season. They have allowed 64 points, and are allowing just 12.8 a game. Hold open the door. Let’s fall further in.

And the main reason for the historic defensive jump is the front seven has finally fallen into place. During this string of terrible seasons the 49ers have drafted 17th, 7th, 3rd, 10th, and 2nd, and each year, aside from 2018 when they selected the most Notre Dame man of all Notre Dame men Mike McGlinchey, they picked a defensive lineman.

Deforest Buckner was the only who one who provided any real rush. Arik Armstead was just enormous. Solomon Thomas had three sacks in his first two seasons. Bust was the word to describe these two players.

This season the production has bumped up from both. Thomas has already matched last season’s sack production. Armstead is a half sack away from matching his career high. They added Defensive Rookie Of The Year Nick Bosa with the second overall pick and traded a second round pick for Dee Ford, a former first round pick, who has provided a jolt on the outside.

This defensive line along with former third round pick Fred Warner, and offseason addition Kwon Alexander, brutalized the Rams’ last weekend, and each member of their first round pick club made vital plays to hold Los Angeles to seven points.

The Rams first drive was composed of 7 runs, 0 passes, and 56 yards that culminated in a touchdown. They didn’t score again. From that point on the Rams picked up 53 rushing yards on 15 attempts, and averaged just 3.1 yards a carry.

The Rams have struggled blocking on the interior this season. Everyone had a Brian Allen lookalike in their fourth grade class. That isn’t a shimmel under those pads. It’s a 1997 Old Navy flag shirt stained by corn syrup and food coloring. Short, and weighing only 303 pounds, he struggles against behemoths like Buckner and Armstead on the inside. Making matters worse, Joe Notebloom, their new left guard for 2019, was injured and replaced by Jemil Demby.

Last season’s all time great rushing attack is missing John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold more than they thought they were going to. Their run DVOA has dropped from 21.3% (1st) that was better than half of the league’s passing attacks in 2018, to 8.4% (7th this season). Todd Gurley’s injury issues are exaggerating these interior struggles.

This is inside zone. Demby turns Thomas and gets to the linebacker. Andrew Whitworth doesn’t get to Thomas’s inside shoulder, and the defender drives through him to make the stop for two yards. It looks like Whitworth was expecting more help.

Defenses have two options to play the outside zone. They can all sit in their gap and try to make tackles as the back comes by, or they can jump the snap, plunder the backfield, and force the back to make immediate cuts. The second option is riskier and opens up wilderness meadow cutbacks, but leads to a greater reward.

Allen couldn’t handle Buckner either. Buckner splits the double team, punches Allen and turns him, and then makes the tackle for the loss. The Rams traded for Austin Corbett yesterday. Allen’s starting spot is murky.

This time Allen is mauled into the backfield, which forces Malcolm Brown to cutback. He runs right into Armstead, who comes from the backside after beating a double team composed of two Los Angeles tight ends.

The Rams went for it on 4th and goal a few inches from the goal line. Quarterback sneak. Armstead turns Allen into mush. Robert Woods can’t block the defensive end. Football is a perfectly normal game.

Because of the Rams drop off in the run game they’ve needed Jared Goff to do more. That lasted for a half against Carolina. The Rams came out spread shotgun, failed, then shut up and played the hits and relied on Todd Gurley to take them the rest of the way.

With the Rams’ interior devoured in the run game, they required Goff to carry them in this one. The Rams went 0/9 on third downs and 0/4 on fourth downs. And during this run, Goff missed open throws, and sat on the same old routes that have grown stale and predictable.

In addition to moldy passing concepts and missed throws, the Rams’ pass blocking was bludgeoned by this front too.

Jet sweep. Play action. Los Angeles Rams football. Allen tries to aggressively block Thomas who’s a 2i. He’s too flat. Thomas is too quick off the ball. He beats the block instantly, and then does his best Aaron Donald impression to bend the interior. Crushed.

On Armstead’s sack, the 49ers are overloading the leftside of the line of scrimmage and loop back across. Armstead slants across Demby, who doesn’t adjust quick enough, and is fought off by a flurry of hands. A great bend back to the quarterback allows him to bring down Goff.

Bosa didn’t make the big box score plays, but was football good. He beat Whitworth throughout the game as a wide ‘5’ edge rusher, and added additional tally marks to bring his total number of pressures to 18. This is a beautiful inside move and rip to get through Whitworth’s punch. All he can do is hold on and take the ten yard loss.

Rob Havenstein got it as well. Ford is kind of a one trick player, but he’s so good at that one trick. This is a pure speed rush. Quick jump off the ball. The pass set isn’t deep enough. Rip, bend, and turn at the same level of the quarterback. Stick your hand out to make it even better.

And together, like medieval torture, they can bullrush tackles and squish the pocket, constricting and squeezing the quarterback until his fingers swell, his eyes bulge, his guts crumple, and there he goes, exploding into an eruption of gore.

With the emergence of Thomas and Armstead, and the offseason infusion, the 49ers now have a front seven that can dominate every gap and crush the best offenses.

After beating the Buccaneers, Bengals, Steelers, and Browns I didn’t know what to think about the 49ers. After obliterating the Rams, and cutting the horns off one of the league’s best offenses, I know what to think—the 49ers have a dominant defense and an offense that perfectly complements it. San Francisco is real. This isn’t a mirage. Losing is finally paying off.

5. J-E-RTS JERTS JERTS JERTS

Sam Darnold missed the last three New York games with an enlarged mono sickened spleen that could burst on impact, and at that moment, the entire world would die along with Darnold. He watched, and as he did, the Jets became unwatchable.

Now, the Jets weren’t outstanding in their week one Sunday matinee battling it out against the one true quarterback, our one true savior, Josh Allen. In that game Adam Gase kept with the quick passing, super genius, I miss Peyton Manning offense. Jamison Crowder had 14 catches on 17 targets for 99 yards. There should be a court order to separate these two.

Last week Pitchfork dropped its 200 best songs and albums from the 2010s, and at that moment, after losing the years from grinding the tape, Gase realized that The Suburbs came out nine years ago, and football has changed, and so has his quarterback.

Against the Dallas Cowboys Darnold’s average attempt traveled 8.5 yards through the air (16th) and his average completion traveled 6.5 yards (12th). He was at 5.6 and 2.3 in week one. Finally, the Jets played enjoyable football again, as long as your brain isn’t lite beer hungover clanging between the cymbals of apocalyptic air raid sirens.

Darnold is the true accurate quarterback in New York. This is a lovely backshoulder throw. How about Darny Dimes instead?

I’m a sucker for the slot fade or the slot wheel. Darnold isn’t all throw hard. He can glide some fingers down the spine. This is a lovely ball in the bucket to Crowder (#88).

As we all saw from Houston 2018 Darnold has some mobility. I can hear Robin Williams oooo-ahhh-ooooing as Darnold moves left to right to move away from the rush and convert on 2nd and 10.

The best throw of course was the 97 yard bomb to Robbie Anderson. The Jets stomped out the Cowboys on fourth down after Quinnen Williams sloshed from the backside to ruin a zone read play. The Cowboys are in cover three. Anderson and his Nickolodeon hair give Chidobe Awuzie a slight scent of a curl, and then takes off along the hashmark, giving Darnold a shorter throw. This one comes out to 47 yards through the air. Darnold looks off the safety Jeff Heath, who has no business playing deep middle, and attempts to come back across to dive and save the day. You have to love the deep ball. This play of course came on first and ten.

Heath also gave up a touchdown to Ryan Griffin. I’m sorry Mr. Heath you have to retire now. Pass the sticks. I make the rules around here.

Teams rarely comeback from 0-3 to make the playoffs—the 2018 Houston Texans are the scales at the bottom of the tail. They don’t comeback from 0-4 to make it. The Jets are dead, but, with a 22 year old quarterback, that doesn’t really matter. Being fun. Hanging out. Making new friends. That’s really what it’s all about.

The Jets will be with Darnold back and an offense that showcases his ability, and ontop of that, they may even scrap some of their expensive contracts to those serious football teams trying to win games. Leonard Williams? C.J. Mosely and Le’Veon Bell already? Injuries are happening and dreams are fading fast. No trade scenario is too outlandish anymore.

6. RULES FOR FOOTBALL AND RULES FOR LIFE

I’ve watched enough football over the years to have furious and very specific ideas on how to not only win football games, but play the game in its best and most beautiful way.

1.) Don’t block defensive ends with tight ends on pass plays.

It never works. I’ve watched Ryan Griffin and Garrett Graham fail to make this block too many times. These failures are littered throughout the zeitgeist.

2.) Throw downfield

See earlier. It’s the most fun play in football. It’s the best way to move the ball. Al Davis is the prophet standing behind the pulpit I kneel at.

3.) Time of Possession Doesn’t Matter

Scoring points, and, most importantly, scoring touchdowns and playing with a lead are what does. It doesn’t matter if you have a 12 play drive that takes 8:30 off the clock if it ends in a 4th & 12 punt at the 40 yard line, or a redzone turnover. Now you just have even less time to catch back up.

4.) Play Action Always Works

Did you just run a play action pass? Good. I bet it was a successful play. Do it again. Good. Are you only averaging 3.2 yards a carry and are worried it still won’t pull the linebackers? Don’t. Play action still works. An easy moving run game just accentuates it.

5.) Don’t Rush Three

Let your players be the best at the thing they do. Don’t try to be cute and have your nose tackle drop into a hook zone. Don’t sit in coverage, drop eight, and let the quarterback search and search and search until he finally finds someone sitting in the seam wide open. That’s what he wants you to do. Go get him. It also creates gaps along the line of scrimmage and gives the quarterback space to pull up and pop off.

7. RYAN TANNEHILL BLUE JEAN FRIDAY NIGHT

The Marcus Mariota era may finally be over. After two interceptions, zero points, Derrick Henry bashed by heavy boxes Mariota couldn’t throw Denver out of, and 83 yards of total first half offense, Mike Vrabel had enough. He pulled the plug. Ryan Tannehill almost scored points twice against the Broncos. He completed a few throws. Good enough. Tannehill will start his week against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Mariota will be remembered for three things. The playoff self suck touchdown against the Chiefs.

Maddening inconsistency.

And the fact that he could only complete one throw consistently. Play action. Throw the post to the slot. His first career touchdown five years ago came like this, and it was once again, the only pass he could complete in what maybe his last Tennessee start.

Tannehill is the perfect quarterback to take over for Tennessee too. Tall. Big arm. Inaccurate. Looks great in a pair of blue jeans. The Titans’ defense has been great without a pass rush thanks to their tackling and coverage. So far its been wasted. They just need a quarterback who can hit some deep passes and open up rush lanes for Derrick Henry. The Titans can’t block everyone. Never gonna grow up wooaahh never gonna settle down wooaahh sing it with me. It’s time for Tannehill.

8. I LOVE IT

It isn’t Christian girl autumn, or fat guy fall, or sp00ky season. It’s Vontober, which isn’t a diabolical late capitalism hellscape sandwich that Arby’s meat machine marketing team has conjured up with help from some dark lord. The man who won Peyton Manning a Superbowl in 2015 has come back to life now that the white straws of aspens are freckled in orange and red and staring down at baying Elks.

Von Miller had zero sacks, zero quarterback hits, and zero tackles for a loss in the Broncos’ first three games. Since then he’s put up 2.5 sacks, 7 quarterback hits, and 2 tackles for a loss the last three games.

One of the tackles to have to deal with these scarves and overcoats was Taylor Lewan, who was also quiet the first month of the season, slumbering and sobbing after failing a drug test. Last week against the Buffalo Bills was rough. He was called for multiple holding penalties. He and Rodger Saffold, a perfect tryst in August, failed to pick up stunts and meld together in the run game.

This week was slightly better only when the Titans ran the outside zone and let Saffold actually block what he’s good at blocking, but Lewan still had problems dealing with the Denver devil.

My favorite pass rush this week was Miller v. Lewan. The bad tattooed left tackle tries to aggressively set Miller, and by doing so, he turns his shoulders to the line of scrimmage, and opens up his inside half. This is exactly what NCAA tackles do, and why it doesn’t translate to the pro game. Right when he turns, Miller long arms his inside shoulder, and with leverage, he holds up the entire Earth like that great space turtle it actually rests on. From there Miller drives Lewan in a straight line all the way down to Marcus Mariota. Split sack. Derrick Henry can’t pick up two blitzes on one play.

9. AWWW YOU ARE DOING SO GREAT SWEETIE

10. GHOSTS OF FIRST ROUNDS PAST

Professional football is fairly spread out. One team does something that works, and then everyone gives it a try. See Seattle’s cover three, the Patriots’ commitment to power running, the Rams’ jet sweeps and wide receiver runs. Most of the time it doesn’t work. Novelty. It leads to players running schemes they shouldn’t be running, and hideous goal line shovel passes that are devoured behind the line of scrimmage.

I prefer the idea of each team being run by its own set of philosophies and guiding principles, and having very specific playbooks and team building strategies, to cover up the truth that a lot of it is the same, it just takes place in different cities with different colors. So much so that I’ll take one signing or player and run with it. Larry Fitzgerald is ancient. He was on the cover of a PS2 version of NCAA football. He plays in Arizona. The Cardinals should just sign every veteran and allow them to retire there, go golf in Glendale, and let that dry hot air cure their consumption. Terrell Suggs couldn’t have gone to a better place this offseason.

Sometimes these absurdist desires became surreal reality. The Lions love to sign former Patriots, like the Texans did, until they stopped and their team became better for it. The Cowboys sign former elite veterans that haven’t had a great season in three years. The Colts only retain their own and refuse to spend that gold they have hoarded in their subterranean dragon guarded vault.

My favorite team building quirk belongs to the the Seattle Seahawks. It started three seasons back when they signed former first round pick C.J. Spiller. Then Luke Joeckel and Sheldon Richardson. And then BIG PLAY Barkevious Mingo and Dion Jordan. The Seahawks love grabbing onto first round picks and seeing if the talent ever seeps out. It’s the D’Angelo Russell strategy.

This season the Seahawks have multiple first round picks drafted by other teams. Duane Brown, and Mike Iupati start at left guard and left tackle when healthy. They also have D.J. Fluker starting at right guard. Fluker was selected with the #11 overall pick by the San Diego Chargers. I have no clue how Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper never ended up here.

Jadeveon Clowney, traded to Seattle for a third round pick, Jacob Martin, and Mingo, is a former number one overall pick. He’s going to be spectacular once Jaraan Reed comes back and he isn’t devoured by guards and tackles on every play. And Ezekiel Ansash, the #5 pick from the 2013 draft, had a few great seasons until injuries zapped him some.

All in all, the Seahawks have five former first round picks from other teams on their roster, and if you want to add second round picks, they have Jamar Taylor (#54th overall 2013), and everyone’s favorite New York quarterback Geno Smith (#39th overall 2013). John Schneider is devastated the 49ers front seven is coming together. He was slobbering to give Arik Armstead a one-year $7 million contact.