Category Archives: 2018

Oakland Raiders vs. San Francisco 49ers, 11-1-18: In-Game Report

A battle of the Bay Area featured two of the worst teams in the NFL. However, San Francisco thoroughly dominated its area rivals on Thursday Night Football, winning 34-3. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

Nick Mullens 

Undrafted second-year quarterbacks don’t usually complete 16-of-22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns in their first career start.  But thanks to a poor defense and an excellent game plan, Mullens was aided in his debut. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s first 15 script of play calls allowed his quarterback to get comfortable through the use of bootlegs, screens and power running.  The 49ers scored their first touchdown of the game with a play action pass from Mullens to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who ran wide open over the middle.  Mullens’ teammates said his ability to perform on the primetime Thursday night stage didn’t surprise them.

“It was cool that he didn’t change under the big lights and these circumstances,” cornerback Richard Sherman said, during a postgame press conference according to ESPN.  “We’re not really surprised. We’ve seen him do it in practice. He plays with a lot of confidence.”

Mullens executed the game plan to perfection and might see additional playing time as the team’s primary backup, thanks to a strong performance. 

George Kittle

Mullens looked to tight end George Kittle whenever he needed a big play.  Kittle finished with four catches on four targets for 108 yards and one touchdown.  The second-year tight end made an impressive one-handed grab over the middle on 2nd and 12 and sprinted for a 71-yard gain to open the third quarter.  On the season, Kittle has caught 41 passes for 692 yards and three touchdowns.  As the 49ers cycle through quarterbacks, Kittle has remained a constant at tight end and his production hasn’t slipped no matter who has been behind center. 

Raiders miscues 

The 49ers had their way with the Raiders but Oakland committed more than their fair share of mental mistakes.  On offense, Derek Carr was harassed all evening due to a  shuffling offensive line because of injuries. The Raiders gave up eight sacks and as a team totaled just 242 yards of total offense. Defensively, the Raiders were penalized for having too many men on the field in the second half, left receivers wide open on bootlegs and couldn’t set the edge to prevent long runs.  Oakland traded away young talent in Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack and it looks like their eyes are on the future. The Raiders might not win many games in 2018 thanks to a lack of talent but that doesn’t excuse the mental errors that plagued both sides of the ball against the 49ers. 

New Orleans Saints vs Minnesota Vikings, 10-28-18: In-game report

In a rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional Playoff matchup, Minnesota and New Orleans put on a less entertaining showing on Sunday Night Football.  New Orleans took advantage of two costly Vikings turnovers to win 30-20.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

Saints Quarterbacks 

Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill (pictured at BYU in 2016) has been a jack of all trades for the team.

Sean Payton is one of the most innovative play callers in the NFL and he lived up to the hype on Sunday night against the Vikings, who came into the game ranked No. 10 in  total defense. The former quarterback, turned head coach, used backup quarterback Taysom Hill in Wildcat formations and empty sets and even lined him up at wide receiver while Drew Brees was under center. Hill is 6’2, 220 pounds and can run in-between the tackles and throw the football. His ability forces opposing defenses to have to game plan for something else while still preparing for Brees, the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards.  On one possession in the red zone, Payton even put Hill in shotgun and lined quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Brees out wide.  Hill ran up the middle for no gain but it goes to show Payton isn’t afraid to experiment with some new alignments and he may have used the wacky formation to get something on film for a later use.  Hill finished with one completion for 44 yards and three rushing attempts for -2 yards.  The former BYU quarterback has run for 123 yards and one touchdown so far this season. 

Vikings Receivers 

The Minnesota Vikings have two number one receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.   Against New Orleans, Thielen caught seven passes for 103 yards and set the record for most consecutive 100-yard receiving games to start the season with his eighth straight.  He ranks first in the NFL in receiving yards and receptions. On the other side, Diggs caught 10 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.  Most impressive is that the two combined for 17 receptions on 18 targets. Not only are Diggs and Thielen productive, but they make sure to catch anything and everything that comes their way. The Vikings made an effort to attack Saints cornerback P.J. Williams instead of testing Pro Bowler, Marshon Lattimore. Minnesota has two number one level receivers which allows them to pick on cornerbacks, who they deem more of a liability.  Both players made critical mistakes that resulted in big plays for the Saints defense.  With the Vikings up 13-10 and driving in for a score at the Saints’ 18-yard line with 1:11 left in the second quarter, Thielen fumbled after a hit by linebacker Alex Anzalone.  The fumble was recovered by Lattimore and took potential points off the board.  Then, in the third quarter (5:58), Diggs failed to continue to run across the field on a crossing pattern while being covered by Saints cornerback P.J. Williams.  Williams ended up picking off the crossing pattern by Kirk Cousins and returned it for a 45-yard touchdown.  It put the Saints up by 14 and stymied the Vikings attempt to tie the game.  Despite the mishaps, the Vikings will continue to be a force in the passing game behind the production of Diggs and Thielen. 

Saints defense 

Davenport has four sacks for the Saints thus far in his rookie campaign.

Earlier in the week, New Orleans acquired Eli Apple from the Giants for a fourth round draft pick.  Apple led the team in tackles on Sunday night but a lot of those tackles came after he had given up catches.  Apple, who started the game, should form cohesion with the Saints secondary in time as he is accompanied by fellow former Ohio State Buckeyes Marshon Lattimore and Vonn Bell. With the emergence of defensive end Marcus Davenport (two sacks against Minnesota) alongside Pro Bowler Cam Jordan, New Orleans has the makings of a solid defense.  If defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who served as the secondary coach during the Saints championship season, can get the secondary on the same page then New Orleans could match a strong offense with an equally strong defense. 

Update: Davenport was recently reported to have a toe injury that could keep him out for an extended period of time.

Detroit Lions vs. Miami Dolphins, 10-21-18: In-game report

The Miami Dolphins (4-3) missed a chance to keep pace with the New England Patriots in the AFC East after falling to the Detroit Lions (3-3) at home.  The Lions used a stifling secondary and an efficient offensive attack to win the game.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Kerryon Johnson

The rookie running back out of Auburn had his second career 100- yard rushing performance on Sunday. The Lions record would indicate that in order to win, they need production from Johnson. In the team’s three wins, Johnson has rushed for 109 yards per game and in their three losses he’s averaged 38 yards per game.  On Sunday, Johnson rushed for 158 yards and kept the Lions in favorable down and distances, which resulted in them only having to punt once all afternoon.  Johnson doesn’t just have an impact on the running game but the threat of his running ability has been enough to give quarterback Matthew Stafford, who finished with just four incompletions, cleaner looks on play action passes.  The Lions used Johnson as a decoy to score their first touchdown after Stafford faked the handoff and threw a touchdown to tight end Michael Roberts.  Johnson also gives the Lions a threat in the passing game (15 receptions on the season) and is a willing blocker in pass protection.  If Detroit wants to continue to win against good teams, look for the Lions to rely on Johnson to bring a balance to the offense.

Lions secondary

Slay, Jr. was named a first-team All-Pro in 2017 and has shown few signs of slowing down.

The Lions secondary didn’t force Brock Osweiler into an interception but did play well enough in coverage to help force four sacks and give their team a commanding 20-7 advantage in the second half. Quandre Diggs came down from his safety position to fill in for Jamal Agnew, the team’s regular slot cornerback who is on IR due to a knee injury. Cornerback Darius Slay has continued his All-Pro performance from last season and played well on the outside.  Slay prevented a would-be touchdown to Kenny Stills by bringing his hands through Stills’ hands and deflecting the ball away. For the game, Osweiler threw for 239 yards and almost a third of those yards came in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.  Detroit’s secondary is the backbone of their defense and should serve them well against a number of top-tier quarterbacks in the NFC.

Mike Gesicki

DraftNasty highlighted Gesicki’s athleticism in advance of the draft last season and that athletic ability was on display against Detroit. The rookie from Penn State caught passes both as a hand in the ground tight end and when split out wide.  Gesicki did a good job of chipping the defensive end before getting into the right seam and catching a pass in traffic. On another catch, Gesicki caught the ball over the middle on a crossing pattern and flashed his potential for getting yards after the catch.  In total, Gesicki finished with three catches for 44 yards. 

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, 10-14-18: In-game report

Two of the premier coaches in the NFL faced off in primetime on Sunday Night Football.  New England (4-2) was able to keep pace with the Chiefs (5-1) in the conference after a last second field goal pushed them to victory.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Patriots power running game

The Patriots use of offset I-formations with fullback James Develin (No. 46 pictured) and Rob Gronkowski (No. 87 pictured) led a running game that carried the offense for the much of the night.

Bill Belichick flipped the script on Sunday night, instead of relying on his future Hall of Fame quarterback, the longtime coach relied on a power run game.  The Patriots used fullback James Develin in the I-formation and the offset I-formation, while also putting Rob Gronkowski at the tight end spot with his hand in the ground in order to establish a strong push in the run game.  Kansas City ranks 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed and the Patriots took advantage of it.  New England ran for 173 yards and actually ran three more times than they passed.  This power run game will probably be an outlier, but credit to Belichick for his willingness to adjust the game plan for specific game-to-game needs.

Patrick Mahomes 

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes has a 112.2 quarterback rating through six starts in 2018.

The first-year starter has burst onto the scene and what immediately jumps out about Mahomes is his raw arm talent. Mahomes can make plays off schedule while falling off his back foot reminiscent of the kinds of throws that are usually reserved for Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.  In the first quarter, Mahomes darted  a pass from his back foot and across his body to the waiting hands of Chris Conley, placing the ball where only his receiver could make the play.  The Chiefs quarterback finished with 352 passing yards and four touchdowns but he did throw two interceptions, which led to points for the Patriots.  Mahomes first interception came when Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower faked a blitz and dropped into coverage, fooling the young quarterback.  The second came on a pass where Mahomes was rolling right and tried to throw across his body to tight end Travis Kelce, who was double covered.  Mahomes should be able to fix those types of interceptions with experience. For now, Mahomes should remind Andy Reid of another talented gunslinger that he coached in Brett Favre. 

Patriots defense 

Bill Belichick’s defensive mantra has remained constant since he came to New England: make your second or third best players beat us offensively.  The Patriots doubled Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce all night and sacrificed the pass rushing of Dont’a Hightower and Trey Flowers in order to chip Kelce at the line. The game plan worked as the Pats held Kelce to five catches for 61 yards. However, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill were left with more room to roam free as a result. The pair combined for 327 total yards and four touchdowns. It was a tale of two halves for the Patriots, who led 24-9 at halftime. If these two teams meet again in the playoffs, Belichick might have to tinker with his game-plan because despite holding Kelce in check, Hill and Hunt nearly upended New England in Foxboro. 

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks, 10-7-18: In-game report

Missed tackles and poor special teams play was enough to cost the Seahawks against the Rams. Los Angeles defeated Seattle, 33-31, to remain undefeated.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Seahawks secondary 

Prior to his season-ending injury, Thomas, pictured, had already posted 22 tackles and three interceptions for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks secondary was dealt another blow last week when Earl Thomas broke his left leg.  The losses in the secondary have been noticeable as the Seahawks now rank in the middle of the pack in terms of completion percentage against and yards per attempt, categories where they normally hover around the top of the league. Seattle has also struggled tackling on the back end, which caused them precious yards after the catch against the Rams.  A bright spot for the Seahawks has been rookie cornerback Tre Flowers (6’3, 194), a converted safety out of Oklahoma State, who against the Cardinals forced a fumble and then broke up a pass against the Rams that led to a Frank Clark interception.  Head coach Pete Carroll got his start as a defensive backs coach and he will have to continue to mold the young players in the secondary if Seattle wants to return to its defensive glory. 

Rams depth at receiver 

Rams second-year wide receiver Josh Reynolds contributed two receptions for 39 yards and rushed for a 10-yard gain on his one carry this past Sunday.

Starting receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp are currently in the concussion protocol after suffering concussions against the Seahawks on Sunday during the first half.  Head coach Sean McVay has impressed early in his coaching tenure because of his ability to put his skill players in positions to be successful. Second-year receiver Josh Reynolds and rookie KhaDarel Hodge combined to fill in for 53 yards on three catches.  The Rams should be fine in the short term because as running back Todd Gurley showed in the first quarter, he can take a swing pass and pick up 17 yards to convert 3rd down and long.  Gurley is a workhorse running back who draws so much attention that it will force the opposing defenses to cater to him leaving room for the receivers on the outside to work.  If Kupp or Cooks miss Sunday’s game against the Broncos, look for the Rams to run the ball early and often as McVay finds more creative ways to get Gurley the ball in the passing game. 

Seahawks running game 

Russell Wilson’s dual-threat ability is the foundation of the Seahawks offense.  However, in order to truly be successful on the offensive end, Seattle needs production at running back. Chris Carson and Mike Davis have stepped up over the last two weeks. Carson rushed for 116 yards on 19 carries against the Rams and Davis added 68 yards on 12 touches after rushing for 101 yards against Arizona a week before.  The Seahawks rely on bootlegs, RPOs (run-pass options) and play actions but in order to draw the defense in, the Seahawks have to establish a threat from the running back position.  Currently sitting at 2-3, the team will have to continue to groom its running backs in order to enter the playoff conversation by December. 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-24-18: In-game report

One team regressed to the mean on Monday Night Football while the other showed flashes of being a playoff contender. The Steelers used a dominant first half en route to a 30-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Ben Roethlisberger 

Roethlisberger is a gunslinger in every sense of the word. The veteran quarterback will evade pass rushers, pass up open reads and throw into triple coverage, sometimes all on the same possession. However, it’s tolerated because every now and then it leads to a big play.  For the most part, Roethlisberger’s antics paid off against the Buccaneers. He threw for 353 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception despite having a non-existent running game. Even without Leveon Bell, the Steelers have enough weapons to put up 35 plus points per game as they did against Tampa Bay.  But as always, it will be worth monitoring if Big Ben can avoid the costly turnovers and the unnecessary hits. As Roethlisberger showed on Monday, when he is under center, you take the good with the bad. 

Steelers Secondary 

A week after getting shredded by first-year starter Patrick Mahomes, the Steelers secondary looked better against the Buccaneers.  There wasn’t any personnel switch but a clear point of emphasis during the week had to be the importance of playing assignment football.  Mahomes looked good against the Steelers, but a portion of his yards and touchdowns came against blown coverage (see Travis Kelce’s touchdown up the seam), where Steelers defensive backs were seen confused and pointing at each other at the end of plays.  People will pick up the box score and see Fitzpatrick threw for three touchdowns and 400 plus yards.  But he also threw three interceptions and the Buccaneers receivers made some great catches as well, including an over the shoulder catch by Mike Evans in double coverage and a Chris Godwin catch over the middle in between a cornerback and a safety.  If you’re the Steelers, you can live with players making good plays if you’re in the right spots. The Steelers secondary was more active and engaged than they’ve been all season, an example of that is cornerback Artie Burns, hustling behind the play to force a fumble.  When this team plays well on the back end, it allows them to get into their zone blitz schemes, which netted them a few sacks and countless third down stops in the first half.   The Pittsburgh Steelers will go as far as their secondary takes them this year.

Buccaneers QB Dilemma 

Jameis Winston will return from suspension this week but he may not see the field. Ryan Fitzpatrick has come into the starting lineup and provided a level of consistency to the Buccaneers offense. What you see is what you get with Fitzpatrick.  He’s not as mobile as Winston but he will stay in the pocket and take a hit.  The quarterback also knows where his bread is buttered.  Winston has more physical tools, but Fitzpatrick makes up for his shortcomings with his decisiveness and trust in his eyes. Fitzpatrick doesn’t overthink the game, if Desean Jackson is open, Desean Jackson will get the ball, and the same goes for any of the other receivers. On the season, Fitzpatrick has thrown 11 touchdowns and four interceptions for the Buccaneers, who currently sit at 2-1. 

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys, 9-16-18: In-game report

In a classic NFC East battle, the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) and the New York Giants (0-2) turned back the clock and played a style of football reminiscent of their 1990s encounters. The Cowboys prevailed 20-13.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Cowboys defense

Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 33-of-49 passes but averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt on Sunday night.

If it hasn’t already, the game ball should go to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.  The Cowboys harassed the Giants offense all game, holding their division rival to 35 rushing yards and sacking Eli Manning six times.  Marinelli utilized  his traditional single high safety looks with a few twists.  Throughout the game, the fifth-year Cowboys defensive coordinator threw in some slot blitzes and twisting stunts along the defensive line.  Manning was forced to run off his spot and settle for checkdowns. Even when he had time, he “hopped” in the pocket and didn’t set his feet to throw.  A good example of this was in the second quarter on third down when Manning panicked and rushed a throw that went behind his intended receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.   The Giants addressed their skill positions in the offseason but Dallas took advantage of an offensive line and a quarterback that were out of sync.

Cowboys kicking game

Much to the dismay of Cowboys fans, Dan Bailey was released before the season. Bailey, who had an 88-percent field goal accuracy percentage over his seven-year career, was replaced with 28-year old rookie Brett Maher.  Maher missed his only field goal attempt from 47 yards against the Panthers in Week 1, but did go 2-of-2 against the Giants. The kicks were from 37 yards and 29 yards respectively.  Maher wasn’t tested in Week 2 with long range attempts but his progress over the season will be worth monitoring.  In a division which is so heavily balanced, special teams could decide who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t.

Saquon Barkley

The Giants second overall draft pick has showed through two games that he can contribute in multiple ways.  Dallas looked to stack the box against the run while also avoiding the home run ball to receivers Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard.  Despite rushing for just 28 yards, Barkley caught 14 passes for 80 yards. The rookie from Penn State has transferred his open field deceptiveness from college to the NFL.  On one play in the second quarter, Barkley caught the ball in the flat by beating the Cowboys linebackers to the outside and then used a spin move to avoid safety Kavon Frazier to gain a few extra yards.  Look for head coach Pat Shurmur to continue to tailor the playbook to get Barkley more quick touches in the open field, whether that be in the running or passing game.

 

New Cleveland Browns placekicker Joseph looks to solve team’s woes

After a Sunday afternoon 21-18 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints (1-1), the Cleveland Browns (0-1-1) released former seventh-round draft pick Zane Gonzalez.  Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt blocked a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal by Gonzalez in an overtime season-opening tie versus the Browns.  He then missed a go-ahead extra point and potential game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s three-point loss to the Saints.  Gonzalez missed two extra points and two field goals in the Superdome.

The kicker that the Browns signed to replace the NCAA’s all-time leader in field goals didn’t leave college with the same resume’, but his work in college was still impressive.  Former FAU kicker Greg Joseph had a knack for forcing teams to drive the length of the field versus the Owls 34th-ranked scoring defense in 2017.   Here’s a quick snapshot of Joseph, our sixth-ranked kicker in the 2018 NFL Draft class.

Greg Joseph PK 6’1 214

School: FAU

DraftNasty’s 2018 Grade: 4.05 (7th Round)

What makes this player Nasty….(Strengths): He’s a two-by-three-yard kicker who aligns right outside of the LT (left tackle).  2 ¼-step placekicker with ample leg strength.  Kicked a 54-yard FG with at least six yards to spare vs. Navy in 2017 (3-step). Rarely punches at the ball. Keeps his shoulders parallel during his motion.  Kicked the ball well in windy conditions vs. Western Kentucky in 2017.  Hit two 40-yard field goals from both hash marks (2nd FG-RT hash, 48-yd FG inside left uprights; 3rd FG-left hash, 42-yd FG).  Posted a 76-percent touchback rate on KOs in 2017.  Capable of kicking balls in the 75-to-77-yard range with 4-second plus hang times (77 yards, 4.06, Tulsa ’15;  77 yards, 4.03, Tulsa ’15).  Posted five touchbacks vs. North Texas in 2017 and three in the 74-to-77-yard range.   He’s capable of kicking directionally to his right on kickoffs.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent in 2015. When he drags his first step (plant foot), he’ll push kicks to his right from the collegiate left hash (missed 40-yd FG, Tulsa ’15).  Some of his kickoffs were held up in the wind vs. Western Kentucky in 2017 (4th KO-directional right, 60 yards, 4.03 hang).  He also had his fifth kickoff get held up in the wind (vs. WKU ’17).

Other Notes:

  • Born in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Attended American Heritage-Delray HS (Fla.) and was a standout soccer and football star
  • Earned All-State honors as a senior
  • 2014: 14-of-20 FGs (Long-43), 5-of-7 (30-39 yards), 4-of-7 (40-49 yards), 34-of-35 XPs; 60 KOs, 23 TBs, 1 onside
  • 2015: 18-of-27 FGs (Long-48), 2-of-4 (30-39 yds),  5-of-10 (40-49 yds), 0-of-1 (50-99 yds); 28-of-28 XPs; 62 KOs, 33 TBs, OOB (out of bounds)
  • 2016 (Honorable mention All-C-USA): 10-of-14 FGs, 3-of-5 (30-39 yds), 3-of-3 (40-49 yds), 1-of-2 (50-99 yds); 39-of-39 XPs; 54 KOs, 41 TBs
  • 2017 (Honorable mention All-C-USA): 15-of-21 FGs (Long-54), 3-of-4 (30-39 yds), 4-of-7 (40-49 yds), 1-of-3 (50-99 yds), 64-of-68 XPs; 101 KOs, 77 TBs, OOB, 2 onside kicks
  • Career Stats: 57-of-82 FGs (Long-54), 165-of-170 XPs

Time to get Nasty…(Our Summary): Joseph’s ability to drive kickoffs through the end zone could help him vie for a roster spot alone.  He has been better in each of the last two seasons with accuracy but there are a number of pressure performances missing on his resume’.   A four-year starter with upside, the Johannesburg native will need to monitor the location of his plant foot moving forward.

DraftNasty’s projection:  If there’s a significant concern for the Browns, it is that Joseph -who hit on all three of his field goals for the Miami Dolphins in the 2018 preseason- simply didn’t have an extreme amount of pressure-packed field goals at any time during his collegiate career.  In addition, he missed seven kicks in the all-important 30-to-39-yard range during his time in school.  This has relevance due to the NFL’s 33-yard extra point attempts.  After playing in the relatively weather-friendly environments of Boca Raton, Florida in college and then Miami, Florida this preseason, will he adapt to the ever-changing conditions off the lake in Cleveland, Ohio?  This was somewhat of a concern for Gonzalez up until he handled it admirably as a rookie in 2017.  We were able to see Joseph kick twice in person during his time in school and he impressed on both occasions.  He handled a torrential downpour seamlessly versus Marshall in 2017 and even kicked a 31-yard field goal after three consecutive timeouts by Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday right before the end of the first half.  Joseph posted six touchbacks on 14 kickoffs in the preseason and matched his collegiate career-long with a 54-yard field goal versus the Carolina Panthers in Week 2. 

 

 

Indianapolis Colts vs. Washington Redskins, 9-16-18: In-game report

Washington had a chance to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2011 but strong play from the Colts defense and key adjustments in the offensive passing game led to an upset.  Washington (1-1) fell to Indianapolis (1-1), 21-9.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Darius Leonard 

Meet the NFL’s tackle leader: Darius Leonard, the 31st-ranked player on DraftNasty’s 2018 Big Board.  And if you watched Leonard at South Carolina State this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Leonard stuffed the stat sheet against the Redskins, posting 18 tackles, one quarterback sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection.  As his numbers would indicate, Leonard was dominant in the run and pass game.  What was most impressive in the game against Washington was Leonard’s ability to use his closing speed to diagnose plays and keep potential 10-15 yard gains to minimal pickups. The rookie linebacker wears the helmet transmitter during games and has made himself into the quarterback of the defense.   His athleticism allows him to match up against tight ends and running backs in the pass game and is willing to help in the run game. He reminds me of Derrick Brooks with his sideline-to-sideline quickness and his matchup versatility.  Look for the Colts, who are in a rebuilding mode, to continue to build the defense around rookie linebacker Darius Leonard.

Colts offense

Hilton has 12 receptions and two receiving touchdowns in the first two games of the year.

Frank Reich has made a name in the NFL as a coach because of his ability to adapt and tailor his game plans from week-to-week. The Colts used a heavy diet of pick plays against man-to-man coverage that caught the Redskins off guard.  Washington has several corners, including Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar, who excel in press man coverage and the pick routes used by the Colts allowed their quick-twitched receivers to roam free over the middle of the field and took away the Redskins’ strong suit of jamming receivers at the line. T.Y. Hilton, the Colts star receiver, was the beneficiary of the game plan and from the first drive of the game it was clear that the Colts plan of attack centered on getting Norman off of his body.  To begin the second quarter, Luck bought Hilton in motion from the right sideline to the numbers and immediately snapped the ball, which gave the Pro Bowl receiver more room to work with on his post route against Norman, who couldn’t jam the receiver at the line. Hilton finished with seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown against Washington.

Redskins offense

If the Colts offense was original, the Redskins offense was vanilla and predictable.  The Redskins  finished with just 65 rushing yards and 269 passing yards, the bulk of which came in garbage time. Washington thrived in Week 1 with a balanced running attack but as has been the case in Jay Gruden’s tenure, the team has a tendency to abandon the run for no obvious reason.  The team’s receivers aren’t at the level to carry their offense and struggled against the Colts cornerbacks to get separation in their routes.  Look for Washington to get back to a more balanced attack against Green Bay as Gruden may open the game with a deep ball or two to loosen up the Packers secondary.

 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills, 9-9-18: In-game report

In an AFC showdown, the Baltimore Ravens completely dominated Buffalo and left the Bills searching for an answer at quarterback. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions of the Ravens 47-3 victory in this in-game report:

Ravens defense

The Ravens turned in a performance reminiscent of their defensive glory years of the early 2000s.  Cornerback Tavon Young recorded two sacks in the first quarter as defensive coordinator Don Martindale varied his blitzes and coverages early and often. In total, the Ravens held the Bills to 70 yards rushing and 83 yards passing. Even more impressive was the long list of names who contributed to the effort.  Safety Tony Jefferson had his second interception as a Raven when Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman sailed a pass high to his 6’6″ wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.  Jefferson was one of seven Ravens to finish with a tackle for loss.

Buffalo Bills quarterback dilemma

The Bills are still deciding whether Nate Peterman, pictured, will remain the team’s starting quarterback after the team’s lopsided loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bills started the game with Nate Peterman at quarterback. The former University of Pittsburgh quarterback threw two touchdowns and five interceptions last season with a 49-percent completion percentage.  His propensity to miss receivers and throw the ball to the opposition showed itself again on Sunday.  Peterman completed 5-of-18 passes for 24 yards and two interceptions before being taken out of the game for rookie Josh Allen.  Allen didn’t fare much better either going 6-of-15 for 74 yards.  He did show an ability to escape the pocket.   In his first possession, he fled the pressure up the middle and from Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs on the outside.  Allen didn’t find an open man and ended up throwing the ball away but at least it wasn’t a turnover.  It must be noted that the Bills got behind so quickly that in order to attempt to keep pace, they went into a lot of obvious passing formations, which allowed the Ravens to unleash its  pass rush.  All things considered, look for head coach Sean McDermott to take a long look at the quarterback position.

New look Ravens receivers

Quarterback Joe Flacco has seen a steady dip in his production since the Ravens won the  Super Bowl in 2012.  General manager Ozzie Newsome’s remedy to his perceived quarterback’s decline was bringing in some fresh blood at receiver in the form of a speedster John Brown and a move the chains-type in Willie Snead.  The Ravens also acquired a consistent veteran in former 49ers and Oakland Raiders standout Michael Crabtree.  It didn’t take long for the trio to stand out.   Brown worked his way back to the sticks and caught a laser from Flacco, after he extended a play with his legs on 2nd and 26.  Crabtree made an impressive toe-tapping catch in the back of the end zone to give the Ravens a 27-0 lead before halftime and all but put the game out of reach.  Snead worked the middle of the field, catching four passes for 49 yards and one touchdown.