The mission of this column—and a lot of my work—is to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality of football analysis. Football analysis—fantasy and reality—is often dramatized because there's a core belief that it's more important to entertain than to educate.
I don't live by the idea that it's better to be lucky than good. While I want to give you actionable recommendations that will help you get results, I prefer to get the process right. There will be a lot of people talking about how they were right to draft or start specific players. Many of them got the right result but with the wrong process.
The Top 10 will cover topics that attempt to get the process right (reality) while understanding that fantasy owners may not have time to wait for the necessary data to determine the best course of action (fantasy).
As always I recommend Sigmund Bloom's Waiver Wire piece which you'll find available on this page, Monday night. Bloom and I are not always going to agree on players—he errs more often towards players who flash elite athletic ability and I err more towards players who are more technically skilled and assignment-sound.
Straight, No Chaser: Week 9's Cliff's Notes
The article below will provide expanded thoughts and supporting visuals for the following points:
- Lamar Jackson and the Ravens won the regular-season battle with the Patriots with an excellent ground game and skilled adjustments against New England's blitz. However, I think New England will make adjustment if and when these two teams meet again in January.
- Football is a cyclical game. The narrative that running the ball is less consequential due to the changes in rules is changing. With defenses using so much nickel as its base defense,opponents are overmatching them on the ground. The Eagles ran over the Bears on Sunday, exploiting their nickel coverage time and again.
- While the Eagles offense pounded the Bears defense, this was the second week in a row here Chicago coach Matt Nagy was forced to abandon his desired offense of spreading the ball around the field in the passing game and opt for an old-school attack that fits Mitchell Trubisky—a player we migh accurate as labeling a toolsy game manager.
- Ronald Jones received his first start ahead of Peyton Barber and from my perspective, he earned his keep against the Seahawks. He's worth acquiring if the opportunity arises.
- Devin Singletary earned his first start ahead of Frank Gore. While I'm not convinced he's a long-term NFL starter of note, this was the first game I've seen where Singletary had opportunities to show that, to an extent, his vision and footwork compensate for him being slow. He's worth rest-of-the-season consideration in re-draft leagues.
- D.K. Metcalf's hands have always been underrated. However, I'm referring to his work before and after the catch and not at the catch-point. It's his upper body speed and violence that help him create separation as a route runner and ballcarrier, and it's why he's a weekly must-start in fantasy football.
- While the jury is out on Kyle Allen's viability as a long-term starter, Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore are refining their games on the perimeter and making Carolina and attractive destination for a top quarterback.
- Barring an awful rapport with Nick Foles, D.J. Chark Jr won't slow down as a fantasy producer and there are signs that Keelan Cole is digging himself out of a fantasy grave.
- We'll never prove if Miami is truly tanking but Kenyan Drake's performance is an indicator that his fantasy (and career) trajectory is pointing up and something is fishy in South Florida.
- This week's Fresh Fish:
- Baker Mayfield is failing at reading coverage this year and I share numerous examples, including similar reads Mayfield and Matt Stafford had this weekend.
- Chris Carson's two fumbles put Seattle in jeopardy at home against the Buccaneers.
- The Seahawks' defense gave up easy throw after easy throw for a 'false-positive' statement about Winston's long-term trajectory.
- The Bills' defense is too aggressive and gets exposed in the screen game.
For those of you who wish to learn the why's, the details are below.
1. The Ravens Won the Sunday Night Battle, which Bodes Well for Lamar Jackson (Until January...)
In may respects, the Ravens-Patriots game lived up to its billing on Sunday night. Baltimore fans will note that the contest should have been a blowout if not for early mistakes that allowed New England back into the game. However, we all have an unrealistic expectation of perfection when he should account for the likelihood of mistakes and expect our teams to adjust, adapt, and overcome.
Sunday's contest removed all doubts about Lamar Jackson and the Ravens scheme against the current iteration of New England's defense. According to the Sunday Night broadcast crew, John Harbaugh encouraged the Ravens to pull the trigger on drafting Jackson because he had the realization that too many teams fail when they chase west coast quarterback clones who look the part but they haven't figured out if they have the feel for the game as a passer, leader, and game manager.
Harbaugh and the Ravens went all-in on Jackson, changing the offense in dramatic fashion to match the talents of its new player. Jackson performed well in Bobby Petrino's NFL offense so the change isn't an indictment against Jackson's potential in the offenses we've been used to seeing in the NFL. Harbaugh realized that opposing defenses will have far more difficulty preparing for an unique offense that leverages the unique assets of its quarterback.
And one of those unique assets is Jackson's vision, footwork, quickness, and judgment to run circles around NFL athletes without incurring massive punishment.
The play above is the backbreaker for an opposing defense. However, the foundation of the Ravens offense is the option running game and if you know anything about the coaching philosopy behind the option its the idea that the system, when run correctly, will always prove that the defense is wrong.
I remember when Michael Vick was in the league and the current heads of the Fired Football Coaches Association would broadcast network games and scoff at the idea of the option ever working in the NFL. There was a hubris that the athletes were too good and had too much option training at previous levels of football to fall for it.
At that time, this might have been true. Now, that there are a ton of high school teams are even spreading the field, we know for sure that the option game is often a troublesome artifact for many college defenses used to steady doses of opponents operating West Coast, Erhardt-Perkins, and Air Raid schemes.
What we can say is that the Patriots had no answer for the Ravens ground game early and, if not for a muffed punt, Baltimore was a drive away from a commanding lead in the first half. Regardless of the Patriots' standing in this game, Jackson executed timely throws and, despite not delivering fantasy-worthy passing production, the Jackson and the Ravens' passing game beat the Patriots' defense when it had to.
Patriots confusion-Jackson TD pic.twitter.com/9JYCyEzhGQ— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
Threaten with heavy blitz? Move pocket and change lanes on blitzers... pic.twitter.com/nQm8e2RwOa— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
Analysts thoroughly enjoyed previewing this game and detailing the variety of defensive considerations Bill Belichick might employ to attack Jackson. Most agreed that the Cover 0 blitz tactics that we've seen throughout the first half of the year from New England would not work against Jackson unless they tweaked it.
For those of you unfamiliar with Cover 0, it's essentially man-to-man coverage on every receiver and the remaining players blitz the quarterback. It's often considered unwise to play this coverage against a dynamic runner like Jackson because the quarterback has the speed to gain chunks of yardage in an empty section of the field while the secondary players have their backs turned to the receivers working the intermediate and vertical game.
If football was like Monopoly, it would be Free Parking for Quarterbacks.
Among the various solutions analysts suggested, Dime Odd Mirror was a respected consideration. This is a dime package with two defenders essentially mirroring the movements of the quarterback and the running back. The intention is to spy until there's the right moment to attack with a late blitz and stifle the quarterback's escapability while still playing man-to-man coverage.
Alabama and Georgia are two defenses that have had its share of success with this concept in the SEC. I saw some mirroring of Jackson and the running back at some points during the game but I didn't have time (and no one has All-22 access on Sunday night or Monday morning) to determine the coverage specifics. What I can tell you is that Jackson handled most everything Belichick and this defense threw at him.
Because Harbaugh and the Ravens pulled the trigger on Jackson two years ago with the intention of building an offense to beat Pittsburgh and New England, Sunday night is a major victory in the battle to reach the Super Bowl. However, it remains an early battle.
It's ludicrous to think Belichick held anything back in this game. It's also equally absurd to think that Belichick won't have new ideas—or ideas he considered for Sunday's gameplan but prioritized behind what the Patriots installed for the week ahead. Expect New England to find new obstacles to throw at Jackson if and when they meet in January. Then, we'll learn even more about Jackson's in-game problem-solving acumen.
This week's game illustrates that Jackson and the Ravens can handle all-out pressure and the offense can currently dictate its terms to defenses. The biggest thing missing from the Ravens offense is the timing passing game on the perimeter where velocity is needed—comebacks, outs, and deep curls.
This is the wheelhouse of Miles Boykin's game but it requires the velocity from its quarterback that Lamar Jackson lacks. While Jackson has always been pretty good and getting even better with the vertical game on the perimeter where he can throw routes that require more air under the ball, we're not seeing enough targets of this nature to get excited about Boykin's long-term prosepcts and Marquise Brown's injuries have kept him off the field for much of the year.
Jackson, Mark Ingram II, and Mark Andrews are the options to use now. We saw on Sunday night how even a limited Brown can instill terror in opposing defenses. If Brown gets healthy, the big play in the passing game will be back and generate an even higher ceiling for Jackson and perhaps also open things up for Boykin and other perimeter receivers.
2. Jordan Howard shows the bears, "What comes around, Goes ARound"
For the past few years, fantasy readers have been hearing about the death of the ground game in football. Passing is king because the rules changes to pass interference, illegal contact, and roughing the quarterback.
As the NFL arms race intensified, offenses spread the field and opposing defenses opted to play more nickel as its base—stocking its rosters with lighter, faster players whose coverage skills earned a higher priority—and often at the expense of their ability to defend the run. However, the coverage of these changes led to analysts berating head coaches with run-oriented offenses.
The hubris became astonishing, including the jokes leveled at Jon Gruden intending to use an offense from the dark ages and relentless trolling of the Seahawks. Here we are in 2019 and heading into Week 9, Paul Charchian noted on Twitter that the top five teams in rushing percentage were a combined 29-8—San Francisco, Minnesota, Baltimore, Seattle, and Indianapolis.
Three of those five teams won yesterday. And I bet the Rams, Patriots, and Saints are pretty high on that list as well—three teams who are among the top five with the Vikings and 49ers in plays run from center. Those five teams were a combined 33-6 heading into Sunday.
Coaches understand that the game is cyclical in nature. Good coaches know when it's time to go against the trends and exploit them for riches. By the way, the Raiders may only be 4-4 but their offensive line is a steamroller of a unit that is making this team a potential playoff contender a year after the media lampooned the organization as a laughing stock.
Roll the tape...
17 for Howard vs nickel. Watch the Bears safety on this cutback. pic.twitter.com/eRDEUNKHjd— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
SEC safety vs UAB back = SOL for Bears on this play pic.twitter.com/9GFgO8Ylsg— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
After running over Bears safeties for a decent afternoon, Howard is the No.13 fantasy runner in standard leagues and No.17 runner in PPR formats. When you play nickel and expect to win against the ground game with a bull like Howard, you better have an excellent in-the-box safety.
Wait...what? The NFL doesn't draft these guys with priority any more?
What comes around, goes around.
After the Bears jettisoned its most reliable and refined offensive skill player (Howard) to create an offense with Mitchell Trubisky as its centerpiece, I have to think the city of Chicago is the living embodiment of this karmic statement on Monday.
Speaking of which...
3. Mitchell Trubisky Is A Basic Quarterback But the BEars MIght Compete with Basic
Trubisky is basic. I'm talking basic like Applebee's, Chik-Fil-A, and Taylor Swift.
And that's ok. More on that in a moment.
Unfortunately, the people who need to know something the most are often the last to learn. This has been the case for the Chicago Bears about Trubisky.
Trubisky is the classic case of the college quarterback prospect that John Harbaugh no longer wished to chase: The big-armed, productive athlete who tests well and sports the cover-your-assets resume points that won't get upper management directly blamed for his failure but if they stepped away from their massive egos, they'd eventually admit that they have no idea whether any of their risk-management-generated arguments will yield a successful NFL starter.
Like Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden, Trubisky probably won coaches over with his whiteboard prowess and ability to remember in the film room the game, quarter, drive, and play where he screwed up. These methods are some of the reasons why we're evaluating quarterbacks all sorts of wrong.
Trubisky self-destructs in situations where top NFL starters thrive. In our reactive society, this leads to conclusions that he's awful and not capable of being an NFL starter. This may eventually prove true but a more incremental reaction would be the conclusion that Trubisky can't carry a spread offense on his back and needs a potent groudn game to leverage his skills.
It appears Matt Nagy is arriving at this fact, albeit it reluctantly. In Week 8, Nagy pounded the ball in a 17-16 loss over the Chargers, giving David Montgomery 31 touches—including 27 rushing attempts. This weekend, Nagy tried to return to a spread attack but Trubisky did Trubisky things that have been well-detailed here and at the Rookie Scouting Portfolio since he was at North Carolina.
Trubisky lacking confidence in his MOF read of leverage and it leads to sack. pic.twitter.com/ExZDOvj8jQ— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
Bad play is infectious. pic.twitter.com/UgeOdrU8hN— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
By the second half, Nagy pulled out the stone tablet that he banished under the bleachers and began using I-formation, 21 personnel (running back, fullback, and tight end) against the Eagles. And the Fred Flintstone offense started humming with Trubisky as its triggerman.
Trubisky for 53 with rollout. Listen, the Bears QB is basic. You can win with it as long as your offense is Friday’s or Chili’s as opposed to the French Laundry pic.twitter.com/HCN9eM9Qda— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
This isn't the magic pill for the Bears' woes. It is, however, a solution that rids Trubisky of responsibilities that he cannot execute, empowers the talents of Montgomery and the offensive line, and sets the stage for play-action passing that will be easier for Trubisky to process and execute.
Long-term, this probably wouldn't hurt Allen Robinson, who still earned 7 targets and 62 yards against the Chargers. He might get easier looks. He'll at least have a quarterback throwing to him that is no longer confused.
It's basic, but basic can work. You may prefer a good Popeye's franchise like I do, but Chick-Fil-A ain't bad. Trubisky still has a chance to be Chik-Fil-A
4. Ronald Jones Earned His First NFL Start
Last week, I showed incremental improvement from Jones as a runner. This week, the Buccaneers gave Jones his first start against the Seahawks. Based on his performance in Seattle, he earned it.
Ronald Jones is getting better with each passing week. He is earning his role ahead of Barber. pic.twitter.com/IQ1oYWxsJ3— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
His stat-line wasn't amazing—18 carries, 67 yards, 1 touchdownd, and 2 catches for 15 yards—but his decison-making is getting better and he's earning tough yards in ways he didn't in the past.
Jones's willingness to press deeper into the line is improving, his ability to see and process information is more acute and confident, and it's allowing him to leverage his speed, power, and balance. Peyton Barber remains the better decison-maker but Jones has found his way enough that giving him the repetitions he needs to further refine his game won't result in a constant fear of mistakes that will hurt the club.
Arizona, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Indianpolis, and Detroit are good matchups for Jones, who also gets Alex Cappa back on the offensive line. The Buccaneers right guard is Michael Meyers (Rob Zombie version) with a helmet.
K.I.S.S. for Ronald Jones TD. Another good job by Cappa pic.twitter.com/sqVBXYslZK— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
Alex Cappa serving it up for Ronald Joned pic.twitter.com/161GfAaaAs— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
Jones has a real shot at fantasy RB2 production down the stretch and his floor is likely that of a solid flex play. Keep that valuation in mind if you happen on upon the chance to acquire him.
5. Disseminating Devin Singletary
I've refrained from evaluating Devin Singletary because I haven't seen the right kind of plays to make an assessment about the traits that generated the most questions about his NFL value heading into the NFL Draft. As I've stated, he's a short, small, and slow running back who also lacks great quickness—even if the Sunday broadcasters are reading scouting reports that state otherwise.
So what does Singletary have that made him a commodity worth consideration? Great vision, excellent decision-making, and strong footwork to execute what he sees and the solutions he processes. The biggest question for me was whether his ability to see the field, process creative solutions with the skills he has (essentially nuanced execution of pacing, footwork, and pad level) would compensate enough for his lack of testable athletic traits.
So far, I've only seen plays like these in Singletary's film portfolio in Buffalo. While fans will tell you he should have won the Heisman based on anything positive they see on social media, these clips don't show me what I need to see.
I finall saw some work where Singletary had to create compelling solutions on his own. So far, so good...
These clips demonstrate that he can deliver competent solutions in scenarios where the scheme requires a back to win one-on-ones. What I'm not seeing is the athletic ability to extend plays once he gets into space beyond that first man. He's not going to outrun pursuit angles and he lacks the tackle-breaking ability of an all-star.
He's a smart and nimble back who possesses great awareness of defenders around him and his own limitations. Frank Gore calls him the most natural young back he's ever been round. It's a great compliment and paired with the Bills' offensive line, he can be productive as a volume player who will author a few explosive plays in the range of 20-40 yards when everything clicks.
Singletary's value on par with Ronald Jones in terms of upside but his opponents are tougher. Think of Jones as the player more likely to earn a 12-carry, 150-yard, 2-touchdown outing but Singletary as the more likely to have consitent weeks of 15 touches, 75-85 yards and a score.
6. D.K. Metcalf's Hands Are Underrated (Just not How You Think...)
Metcalf has established himself as a solid fantasy WR2 in Seattle's offense and I while there's a chance Josh Gordon ruins it, I'm not counting on it. I'd actually buy Metcalf's services if someone plans to sell him this year due to the Gordon news, thinking they're selling high.
Doutbful, but it happens.
One of the skills that Metcalf consistently reveals on his tape is quick and violent hands at the line of scrimmage and as a ball carrier. This swat below isn't violent in terms of the striking power it generates but the motion and speed is violent in nature.
His handwork often earns him separation off the line of scrimmage that don't translate well to the Combine workouts. Speaking of which, this play won't earn him a medal from the Indianpolis judges but it worked enough for a clutch play on Sunday.
Be careful about how you use metrics to evaluate prospects. Most drills don't translate 1:1.
7. Curtis Samuel And D.J. Moore Are Taking the Next Steps In Their Development
I'm not ready to speak to Kyle Allen's play beyond the fact that he's made some nice throws that have shown trust with his primary receivers on the perimeter. The above statement is more telling of the improvement I've also seen from Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore as perimeter route runners and pass catchers.
The fantasy community was abuzz—with former Footballguy-turned-budding-celebrity Matt Harmon leading the way—about Samuel since the summer. Most seemed resigned to the idea that Moore would remain an inside-the-numbers receiver with excellent skill after the catch. Based on the past two weeks, I've seen plays from both receivers that they're developing their perimeter games, including 50/50 routes.
Mentioned this recently, if DJ Moore begins winning consistently on vertical perimeter routes. Watch out.— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
Messes up the hand position late at Target arrival but fingertips-first effort affords him second chance. Great effort and good route! pic.twitter.com/C20hyL9Yjo
Beautiful route by Curtis Samuel vs Malcolm Butler.
1. Reinforces Butler’s outside shade w/first step.
2. Dives inside w/stem.
3. Inset with great sale fto head to toe.
4. Takes Butler’s back. pic.twitter.com/JFtZ9Qr5NV
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
Moore had no clue how to earn position on these plays while at Maryland and Samuel's route tree at Ohio State didn't reveal the complete promise of his skills. Whoever is the long-term answer at quarterback, Moore and Samuel are rounding into form as complete receivers. The fact that both are top-30 options with first-time starter at quarterback—Moore is higher than Samuel in PPR and vice a versa—is reason for long-term optimism with this duo.
With Green Bay, Atlanta (twice), Seattle, and Indianpolis on the schedule, keep these guys in mind when negotiating deals.
As you know, I moderate Footballguys' weekly Roundtables. If I recall correctly, at least one of our staff cited Chark as a potential regression candidate from a list of players unlikely to drop off the face of the earth. It's an understandable pick given the parameters I set because Chark is a second-year option playing with a first-year quarterback.
After watching week after week of Chark, it's clear he's for real as an emerging technician. He's not a master route runner, but it's not like he's bad at the craft. His greatest flaw was his hand usage when attacking the ball. And, as I shared earlier in the season, he's corrected it.
Weeks later, I'm still impressed with his work, especially as we begin to see a variety of situations that challenge him.
Good technique for DJ Chark affords 2nd and 3rd chances to win the target. pic.twitter.com/MJJPUvdW5a— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
Another Jaguar I thought was emerging into a star last year was Keelan Cole. He excelled in the playoffs two years ago, but faded soon after an amazing game against the Patriots. Jaguars receiver coach and former Pro Bowl wideout Keenan McCardell—think Marvin Jones Jr with less speed and more strength—detailed Cole's loss of confidence during the summer but how there were positive signs of him rebuilding his psyche and his game during the summer.
With the depth chart already set with Chark, Dede Westbrook, free agent Chris Conley, and hope for Marqise Lee to get healthy, Cole has been an afterthought. However, he's seen playing time in recent weeks and earned 80 yards against the Texans on Sunday, showing some of the promise he displayed during the 2017 playoffs and early-2018 campaign.
Nice play by Cole on a more difficult target. pic.twitter.com/nx2ssnpZH0— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 3, 2019
Cole could prove a worthwhile addition from the waiver wire during the final weeks of the season. It will depend on his rapport with Nick Foles if Doug Marrone decides to bench Gardner Minshew. Consider Cole a preemptive, speculative addition because as much rapport as Foles showed with Conley during trainin camp, Cole is playing better.
9. KEnyan Drake Escapes the Fish Tank
We'll never prove that the Dolphins are tanking. Even if it was stated to some degree, it's too nebulous a matter to find clear-cut evidence. Still, the benching of Drake for Kalen Ballege and Mark Walton is enough for me to believe it's happening. Ballege has sub-par decision-making skills between the tackles and Walton, before his suspension, is simply competent in this department.
Drake was the most dynamic ball carrier on this roster. If you know my pre-draft thoughts on Drake, the fact that I'm now defending and touting him as a performer, speaks volumes about his development.
While we're not going to see Drake become a master of inside zone schemes, he's not going to constantly embarrass your team if the offense runs non-gap blocks with him as the ballcarrier. His footwork has become more efficient as he's learned to read the line of scrimmage and not just play from limited athletic instinct. This also extends to his work as a gap runner.
Long-term, I'd like to see Johnson moved to H-Back. He can still earn touches from the backfield, but let him develop his route skills and leverage his open-field skills while letting Edmonds and Drake share the workload. It's doubtful that Johnson will ever return to that banner production he had during his second year when the Cardinals used a downhill running game and had a decent offensive line.
If Drake doesn't earn a shot to be a fantasy-viable contributor in Arizona, I expect it will happen elsewhere. He's a long-term buy.
10. FRESH FISH: Week 9
Fantasy football is a cruel place. We're always searching for that weakest link. While we don't want anyone facing the wrath of Hadley, we'd love nothing more than having our players face an opponent whose game has come unglued on the field.
In the spirit of "The Shawshank Redemption," I provide my weekly shortlist of players and/or units that could have you chanting "fresh fish" when your roster draws the match-up.
Special of the Week: Baker Mayfield
I already detailed my long-held doubts about Mayfield weeks ago in this column. However his play is getting worse. I've seen claims that the problem is the system. After all, he was a progression-reading, red-zone-killing monster of a rookie last year, right?
It's not that simple. Mayfield has shown progression-reading skills when the defenses are spread out and there's a lot of space in the pocket. When the pocket is compressed, coverage is tight, and multiple defenders are in the area of his reads, Mayfield as more inclined to exit side-right of the pocket and improvise.
If he couldn't exit side-right, he was meek in the pocket and often late on throws that required a decisive mindset.
Watching Mayfield against Denver, there's a potential pattern that Mayfield isn't seeing the field well. He's not staying on receivers long enough where he has time to read the developing leverage. Instead, he's becoming a check-down and stare-down machine that's killing this offense.
Not exactly same coverage depth for S but similar position of WRs and DBs and Matt Stafford reads leverage well pic.twitter.com/ofhckdgSlM— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
Good result. Still, if he’s looking where I think he is, he had a deeper target working open based on leverage of DBs and a hitch buys him the moment to let it develop in rhythm but it is not a consideration. Not definitive of his game on its own but worth noting. pic.twitter.com/U286N17NQY— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
If this is a set play to Chubb, my point below is moot. If not, Mayfield has an open Beckham with no safety help with pre snap indicators this was likely. Not definitive and with field position, I can see the argument to check quick. Still, worth broaching. pic.twitter.com/yRS8Kyfef4— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
I think this play, after the other plays leading up to it, underscores the frustration with Baker Mayfield’s performance thus far.— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
Is he reading the leverage and delivering with anticipation or forcing this and it looks like decisions he missed earlier? pic.twitter.com/XY8iDzKNjC
And here’s the capper. Mayfield sees 2-high early but S on ODB’s side climbs early and the CB’s leverage indicates one-on-one with ODB. Hence WR’s frustration. pic.twitter.com/AzCdxI8Ibg— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) November 4, 2019
Whatever the reasons are behind it, Mayfield is playing poorly. I believe he wasn't the prospect that people touted him to be and his environment exacerbates the issue. Others think he's regressed and blame the coach and the offensive line.
He had time on these plays to make the right decisions. The right decisions would have led to positive plays—game-changers in two instances. I even showed you what Matt Stafford did in a similar look where Mayfield was reluctant to show patience.
Let's move onto additional specimens from the fish market:
- Chris Carson: Two fumbles nearly cost Seattle the game, despite some excellent runs .
- Seahawks Defense: Seattle's Cover 3 scheme plays very well into what the Tampa Bay offense likes to do and the result was Jameis Winston firing long completions off at will.
- Bills Defense: The Bills couldn't tackle Adrian Peterson the first time, the second time, and sometimes the third time. There's no shame in that game unless you consider that a rookie quarterback was under center.
Thanks again for all of your feedback with this column. Good luck next week and may your bold call come true.