Happy Halloween! The NFL trade deadline was scary-bad, in the sense that nothing exciting happened. In week eight however, we did get some intriguing talking points. Let’s see who impressed, who disappointed, and what stories need some attention.
Offensive Player of the Week
RB Tevin Coleman (11 carries, 105 yards, 3 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD)
Coleman had himself a game this week for the San Francisco 49ers. With only 11 carries, Coleman made the most of it with three rushing touchdowns in the first half. This game ended in a blowout but was the perfect game for Coleman who surely earned the trust of his head coach Kyle Shanahan moving forward.
WR Mike Evans (12 targets, 11 catches, 198 yards, 2 TD)
After a very up-and-down start to the season, Evans came through with a huge game in a must-win game for the Buccaneers. Even though they lost in the end, Evans was dominant hauling in 11/12 targets for almost 200 yards. After signing a massive 85 million dollar contract, Evans has lived up to it thus far with Jameis Winston at quarterback. Moving forward, his future is still bright even with the questions surrounding Tampa Bay.
RB Aaron Jones (13 carries, 67 yards, 8 targets, 7 receptions, 159 yards, 2 TD)
Jones is quickly establishing himself as a legitimate upper-echelon running back in this league. He is powerful and quick as a runner alone, but throw in his receiving ability and this Green Bay Packers team suddenly has the ability to beat you in a multitude of ways. The 1-2 punch of Jones and Jamaal Williams is working very well, and Aaron Rodgers is still, well, Aaron Rodgers. I expect to see a deep playoff run for this squad.
Defensive Player of the Week
EDGE Nick Bosa (4 tackles 3 sacks, 1 INT)
Maybe it is crazy to have a 49ers player for offense and defensive player of the week, but that is just how impressive they played this week. It was a complete game by the 49ers and Bosa, who is continuing to add to his Defensive Rookie Of the Year campaign. Another game with multiple sacks and now an interception. One must ask, how do you stop this man?
S Minkah Fitzpatrick (2 total tackles, 2 INT)
After Miami decided to go all-in with the tank, Fitzpatrick was the next logical player to be moved. The one really interesting piece of the move was that he was sent to the Steelers, a team who had just lost their franchise quarterback to a season ending injury. With the expectations of the Steelers, it seemed like a general no-brainer, as Fitzpatrick will in theory be better than a player they will get in the teens. In his first meeting against his former team, he picked off the other Fitzpatrick, Ryan, twice setting up the Steelers for two touchdowns. Moving forward, expect this to be a perfect fit and the Steelers to be the winners of this trade.
CB A.J. Bouye (6 total tackles, 5 solo tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defense)
Bouye is a player that has flown under the radar since going from Houston to Jacksonville. He has been, understandably, overshadowed by former teammate Jalen Ramsey, but Bouye has all of the talent to be a #1 cornerback. With Jacksonville still possessing a very dangerous defense without Ramsey, they still have a shot at making a playoff run if he keeps up his strong play.
Breakout Player of the Week
QB Matt Moore (24-36, 66.7%, 267 yards, 107.1 passer rating)
Moore’s last start in the NFL was for the Miami Dolphins two years ago. Sunday night he was called upon after the injury of Patrick Mahomes, who dislocated his kneecap just 10 days prior in a game versus the Denver Broncos. Moore started off a little sluggish but settled in nicely to give the Kansas City Chiefs a chance at winning the game. He may have to start another game or two but the Chiefs may not be as worried now after seeing how he led the team Sunday night.
TE Darren Fells (6 targets, 6 catches, 58 yards, 2 TD)
More known for his blocking than his receiving ability, Fells has stepped up as the go-to tight end for Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Catching all six targets, including a career-high two touchdowns, Fells has been a pleasant surprise for Houston. With a lot of the focus going on the excellent receivers Houston has on the outside in Hopkins and Fuller V, look for Fells to get more opportunities and become an even bigger factor in this offense.
S Taylor Rapp (12 total tackles, 11 solo tackles, 1 pass defense)
Rapp was a fan favorite for many NFL Draft fans that loved his versatility coming out of Washington, and he looks like he will fit in very well in a talented Los Angeles Rams defensive back group. His sure tackling and effortless instincts will soon have opposing coordinator scheming against him, and I believe he will be ready for it.
Disappointing Performance of the Week
QB Jameis Winston (21-43, 48.8%, 301 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 3 fumbles, 68.1 passer rating)
Winston is a very confusing guy to watch play quarterback in the NFL. He has moments where fans are scratching their heads and then others where they are going crazy in excitement. Each game he has a couple plays where he appears to be building and getting into a flow to eventually turn the ball over. He is The Good, The Bad & The Ugly all wrapped into one dude. It’s frustrating to watch and who knows which bench he will be sitting on next season.
QB Kyle Allen (19-37, 51.4%, 158 Yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, 28.9 passer rating)
After starting the season 4-0 as a starter taking over for Cam Newton, Allen hit a roadblock with a humbling 51-13 loss to the undefeated. Being pressured constantly by the 49ers all game, Allen took seven sacks and was forced into some poor throws. Luckily for Allen, head coach Ron Rivera has announced that Allen will get the start next week. With a potentially healthy Cam Newton ready at any moment, Allen needs to redeem himself in order to keep the starting job moving forward.
QB Josh Allen (16-34, 47.1%, 2 TD, 4 sacks, 81.6 passer rating)
The Bills are still in line to make the playoffs through eight weeks, but they will quickly fall out of the picture if they continue to string together disappointing performances like the one they had against the Philadelphia Eagles. Allen could hardly muster any offense together, completing less than 50% of his passes. As a young quarterback that is still learning the nuances of pro football, he will need to learn from his flaws, and soon.
Under-the-Radar Storyline of the Week
AFC South Division
This is a division that has several teams fighting for the number one spot and leaves a lot of fans wondering who will eventually win it. The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars are not out of the race and could very possibly win it if all goes right for them. The Indianapolis Colts appear to have the most complete team with a deadly running game. Will other teams find a way to stop it and if they do, can Jacoby Brissett lead them from there? The Houston Texans have a potential MVP at quarterback.
Will their offensive line keep him up and alive for an entire season? The Jaguars have the best defensive line in the NFL. Can rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II lead a Jacksonville team to the playoffs? The Titans are still putting the pieces together. Have they found a big enough spark in Ryan Tannehill to get this team rolling in the right direction? The real question is though, which one of these AFC South teams can stay healthy long enough to win the race? This is going to be one exciting storyline to follow from here on out!
Will Gardner Minshew Get The Brady/Wilson Treatment?
After Nick Foles went down with a broken collarbone in week one, Minshew has taken the NFL by storm, not only with his play, but he has become a cult favorite among fans. Not only has Minshew II leading the Jaguars to a 4-4 record been impressive, but he boasts a 61.9% completion rate, 13 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The one question that lies ahead for Jaguars is: do they go back to Nick Foles? We have some precedent for this, with both in similar situations.
Russell Wilson was a third-round pick in 2012 when the Seahawks signed free agent quarterback Matt Flynn to a 3 year, 25 million dollar contract. Pete Carroll wasn’t shy about benching Flynn for the rookie Wilson going into week one. The other example is Tom Brady. In 2001, Drew Bledsoe had just signed a 10 year, 103 million dollar extension when he got knocked out by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. Brady, who led the Patriots to a division title and their first Super Bowl championship, got to stay the starting quarterback once Drew became heathy and even after Brady injured his ankle in the AFC Championship game.
Where does Minshew fit into all of this? He was a sixth round pick the same year that Foles signed a 4 year, 88 million dollar contract in free agency. When you have a rookie playing this well, I personally believe they need to go for it, but how Jacksonville handles this will be very interesting to watch. I believe they will eventually go back to Foles since I believe Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone are fighting to keep their jobs. Whichever direction they go, the other quarterback should be the center of trade discussions for other teams this offseason (Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Chicago).
Could the Bears Be In the Market For a Quarterback?
At the start of the season, the Chicago Bears received a ton of hype, and to a degree, I get why. That defense is incredibly stingy, and there are some talented pieces on the offense. However, I’ve never been a Mitchell Trubisky fan, and through eight weeks I have seen nothing to change my mind. Rumors floated around right toward the end of the trade deadline, with some connecting the dots between Andy Dalton‘s benching and the Bears’ current struggles. For a team that gave up so much capital to get Trubisky, I can’t imagine his play is inspiring a ton of confidence. If this continues, Chicago could be a sleeper team looking to grab a new franchise QB.
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