At last, the 1972 Dolphins can breathe easy. No undefeated teams remain. The MVP race is as hot as ever, and in week ten, we once again saw some spectacular showings and some major letdowns. Let’s jump right in with our week ten awards!
Offensive Player of the Week
QB Patrick Mahomes (36-50, 72%, 446 yards, 3 TD, 119.2 passer rating)
Patrick Mahomes made his return after sitting out the last two weeks after dislocating his kneecap in the Thursday Night Football matchup against the Denver Broncos. Upon his return, he threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. He was back to his unique throwing angles and creating plays that appeared to be over. A jump pass to Mecole Hardman stole the day and just added another great throw to his highlight reel. It was an unfortunate loss with an unforgettable return.
QB Dak Prescott: (28-46, 60.9%, 397 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 0 Rushes, 0 Yards)
Usually, these player of the week spots are for players on the winning side, but Prescott was so good against a really good Vikings defense that it didn’t matter. Going into the game, Minnesota decided to force Dak to beat them, as they were successful in stopping Ezekiel Elliot in the running game to a tune of 47 rushing yards. If it weren’t for some questionable late-game play-calling from Jason Garrett and Kellen Moore, he likely would have done just that. Throughout the entire game, Prescott was fantastic inside and outside of the pocket, but especially on the run. His ability to continuously square his hips on the run before throwing the football should not be understated. Perhaps the most surprising stat was that Dak didn’t have one rushing attempt in the entire game. He is growing every week as a quarterback and will be very expensive for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason.
QB Lamar Jackson (15-17, 88.2% 223 yards, 3 TD, 7 rushes, 65 yards, 1 TD)
I tweeted it last week during the Sunday Night Football duel between the Patriots and the Ravens, but I don’t mind saying it again: Lamar Jackson is my favorite quarterback. Jackson unleashed one of the best runs I’ve ever seen against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, and he continues to shine in his second season. I know that there are critiques to be had; Yes, he’s not fully developed as a passer, and yes, he balls out against lesser teams and comes back down to earth stat-wise against good teams…but the potential is there. At 22 years old, Jackson has shown incredible growth and is making just a few teams regret passing on him in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Defensive Player of the Week
Atlanta Falcons (allowed 310 total yards, tallied 6 sacks)
It is unusual for us to give this to an entire defense but the 1-7 Falcons showed up on Sunday. In a game against their division rival, the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons head coach Dan Quinn passed his defensive coordinator duties to linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. Ulbrich appeared ready for the gig as he put this defense in position to wreak havoc. They did so with six sacks and creating consistent pressure on Drew Brees and only giving up nine points. It will be interesting to see how they continue to compete for the rest of the year with their new defensive coordinator.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick (4 total tackles, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 57 return yards, 1 TD)
There have been some great defensive players this season. Guys like Aaron Donald, Eric Kendricks and Shaq Barrett all have legit claims to be the Defensive Player Of The Year, but I believe Minkah Fitzpatrick is running away with it and should be heavily considered for the MVP of the league. Ever since Fitzpatrick arrived in Pittsburgh, his presence has been a huge difference. In his first 7 games as a Steeler, Fitzpatrick has 7 forced turnovers and two touchdowns, helping Pittsburgh turn its season around with a 5-2 record since his arrival. Not only has he proved worthy of a first-round pick, but he will be a cornerstone of this defense for years to come.
DE Jadeveon Clowney (5 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 TD)
The Seattle Seahawks absolutely stole Clowney from the Houston Texans, and every week he is showing that he should’ve been traded for much, much more. Clowney does not always fill the stat sheet, but his run-stopping prowess and sheer power make him a force on every single play. Paired with the MVP campaign of QB Russell Wilson, Clowney looks poised to make some game-breaking plays deep into the postseason.
Breakout Player of the Week
WR Christian Kirk (6 receptions, 138 yards, 23 YPC, 3 TD)
Christian Kirk exploded this week for a performance that may have shocked many. The relationship between himself and Kyler Murray is looking like a good one because Murray is going his way quite often now. Kirk had a big game earlier in the season when he had 114 receiving yards against the Baltimore Ravens, but has been quiet since. This game is catching the eyes of everyone and if he keeps it up he will be eventually become WR1 in Arizona after Mr. Fitzgerald decides to hang up his cleats.
QB Ryan Tannehill (13-19, 68.4%, 181 yards, 2 TD, 4 rushes, 35 yards)
His entire career, Tannehill has been one of the more interesting quarterbacks in football. While he never truly found his footing in Miami, mainly due to injury, he has always flashed the ability to be a really good quarterback. In Sunday’s game against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, Tannehill stepped up in a big way. While his stat line didn’t show a great performance, Tannehill did a great job leading the game-winning drive, showing great poise and leadership. After struggling the first 7 weeks, the Titans are rolling and could be a player for, not only the playoffs but also for the AFC South title.
RB Brian Hill (20 attempts, 61 yards, 2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards, 1 TD)
The Atlanta Falcons had an impressive upset over the division rival Saints and won nearly every facet of the game. What caught my eye, though, was the usage of running back Brian Hill. With Ito Smith on injured reserve and Devonta Freeman suffering a foot sprain, Hill tallied 20 attempts, which bears watching. Though Hill has been seldom called upon in his three years in the league, the powerful runner out of Wyoming has the size and talent to help keep Atlanta’s run offense churning.
Disappointing Performance of the Week
QB Jared Goff (22-41, 54.7%, 243 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 51.2 passer rating)
Since becoming the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, Jared Goff has had somewhat of a disappointing season. Goff has had two games this year with a QBR above 100 while throwing eleven touchdowns and nine interceptions. This week was no better as he was rattled by the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and sacked four times. If the Rams are wanting to keep up in the NFC West, then Mr. Goff and everyone else needs to step it up a notch.
QB Drew Brees (32-45, 71.1%, 287 yards, 0 Touchdowns, 6 rushes, 46 yards)
Before the season started, I had Brees at number ten in my quarterback ranking for 2019. While his football IQ is at an all-time high, he is physically regressing and this game showed just that. In a game where Atlanta held New Orleans to 52 rushing yards, Drew Brees needed to carry the load and he was unable to. In being sacked 6 times, Brees only averaged 6.8 yards per attempt, when the top echelon quarterbacks are averaging over 8 yards per attempt. After seeing what Teddy Bridgewater was able to do in his absence, the question remains as to whether it was the right decision to go back to Brees.
The Entire Indianapolis Colts Roster Outside of Darius Leonard, but Mostly Frank Reich
This one hurts to write, but being a fan of a team does not preclude them from criticism. Hooray for unbiased writers! Okay, back to the point. What a god-awful showing from the Indianapolis Colts at home against the now 2-7 Miami Dolphins. Yes, there were many factors Indy was up against, including QB2 (should we really call Brissett QB1 at this point? It doesn’t feel right yet.) being out, CB1 out, and WR1, 2 and 3 out! Regardless, this is a game that should have been handled with relative ease. Frank Reich had been at the forefront for Coach of the Year Honors through eight weeks but has laid two stinkers in back-to-back weeks. Similar to last season, Indianapolis is suffering from self-inflicted mistakes and putting more pressure on itself to put together a run down the home stretch to secure a playoff spot.
Under-the-Radar Storyline of the Week
The division that was predicted by many before the season to be won by the Los Angeles Rams is now up in the air. The San Fransisco 49ers just received their first loss of the season and the Seattle Seahawks are putting everything together with MVP candidate Russell Wilson. The Arizona Cardinals are not great, but they are competitive enough to shake up the division and potentially the conference if things go their way. This division is still very much up a toss-up on who will win out. None of their schedules get any “easier” but they all have a match up with one another. If Monday was a sign of anything it was that each of these division matchups will have a playoff-type atmosphere to it. It will be an exciting end to the season for the NFC West.
Has The NFL Figured Out Sean McVay?
Over the first two seasons of the Sean McVay era in Los Angeles, analysts were lauding him as a brilliant offensive mind and for good reason. For the first 28 games, he looked like just that. They were nearly unstoppable, having only lost 4 games in the regular season. Then, they went to Chicago and played the Bears on Sunday Night Football. In the first 28 games, the Rams scored 30+ points 19 times. Since the Bears game, they have only reached 30 points 5 times. What is the reason for that? A lack of growth and innovation. While McVay is a master of the scheme made famous by the Shanahan’s, McVay has not shown the ability to innovate and grow when shut down by opposing defenses. In order to maintain the level of success that we have come to expect from this team, McVay is going to have to be more creative like his mentor Kyle Shanahan. The biggest question I have moving forward is: will he be able to?
What Does the Future Hold for Matthew Stafford?
This past Sunday, Matthew Stafford’s iron man streak came to an end. Suffering from fractured bones in his back, Stafford had to sit out what would have been his 137th straight game. While a return to play is uncertain at this point, the injury left me curious about what the future looks like for the gunslinger. The Detroit Lions have been perpetually average-to-below average since I started watching football around 2004. They’ve won the division once since 1991, and are currently 3-5-1. To me, you might want to consider blowing this operation up and starting fresh, which could mean shipping out Stafford and searching for some young talent. Will the Lions actually do what’s right and give Stafford a chance to compete on some other complete roster? That remains to be seen.
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