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Week two is in the books. Some of the things we saw in week one were confirmed and many were debunked as teams changed gears. There are several injuries to be aware of that will, or at least could have a significant impact going forward. Here is the rundown of what I am seeing as we lead up to week three. Other situations
With two solo stops in each of the first two games, J.J. Watt has been a disappointment. Despite their struggles on the scoreboard, the Jaguars have given up just two sacks to date, so the matchup is not great on paper. That said, Watt is one of those guys who tend to blow up as soon as you give up on him. I’ll be putting him on the bench this week but I am not yet ready to throw in the towel altogether. If the Cardinals pull away early, as many expect, there will be a lot of pass rush opportunity in this one.
Chandler Jones followed a record-setting week one with a goose egg in week two. This is a good example of what can happen when an offensive game plan is designed to take neutralize a great pass rusher. The other bad news here is that Arizona’s defense managed just one sack despite the Vikings' focus on Jones.
Isaiah Simmons had another solid outing in week two, going 6-2-0 on 82% of the snaps, but it was Jordan Hicks who saw the most playing time of the inside linebackers, going 3-3-0 on 97% of the playing time. Zaven Collins was once again the third weel, logging 41% of the snaps. Hicks did not necessarily look bad, but he failed to stand out for a second straight game. One would think that at some point, the coaching staff has to go with talent over experience.
Jalen Thompson had a strong game with eight solo stops. He has shown flashes in the past but let’s see two good games in a row before we get excited.
Rookie Marco Wilson left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. Robert Alford Alford moved into the CB2 role with Antonio Hamilton moving up to nickel corner. As of Wednesday morning, there has been no update on Wilson’s status for week three Marcus Golden 2-1-1 FF, Chandler Jones shut out
The Falcons have struggled to find a pass rush in recent years. With three sacks against the Buccaneers, hope is rekindled, especially considering two of them came from the defensive line. Dante Fowler Jr played 71% of the snaps and was 2-1-1 with a forced fumble, and last year’s second-round pick Marlon Davidson also got to Tom Brady. After holding the title of starter heading into the season, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner was limited to 11 snaps in week two.
Strong safety Eric Harris turned in another solid outing with five solo stops. He has not been flashy and has limited upside, but could be a steady contributor as a DB3.
A.J. Terrell suffered a concussion early in the game and is in doubt for week three.
Rookie Jason Oweh may not be an official starter yet, but he led Baltimore’s outside linebackers with 75% of the snaps on Sunday night. He made an impact with a key forced fumble and recovery, likely locking himself into the lead role going forward. Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser were the other two players to see significant time at 51% and 63% respectively.
In 2017 both Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde were top-12 defensive backs. In 2018 and 2019, Hyde slipped into IDP obscurity with just the occasional solid outing. The first two games of this season suggest he might be significant again. Hyde has double-digit points in both games with a total of 13 combined tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. With Washington, Kansas City, and Tennessee among Buffalo’s next four opponents, the matchups could help to keep the trend going.
Tremaine Edmunds flopped in week two, going 1-2-0 against the Dolphins. Edmunds played 67% of the snaps in this game, which may have been related to the lopsided score, but it is hard to overlook the fact that Matt Milano was 5-0-1 with a fumble recovery and played 61 of 67 plays. It’s not time to panic if Edmunds is your guy, but it may be time for concern and preparation in case he flatlines again this week.
The Saints were horrible in week two. As a result, no Panthers defender recorded more than four solo or five combined tackles. When it comes to Jermaine Carter going 1-0-0, there is much more to the story. Carter played 95% of the snaps in week one. Against New Orleans, he was on the field for 13 plays. It was safety Sean Chandler who poached all the playing time, seeing 70% of the action as the third safety in a big-nickel base scheme. No one made many tackles so it is hard to say how effective Chandler can be in that role going forward, or which look the team will even use as a base on any given week.
Yetur Gross-Matos and Morgan Fox are nursing ankle injuries this week. Fox was 1-1-.5 against the Saints but had far more impact than the numbers suggest. He was all over Jameis Winston on seemingly every play, with several pressures and hits. Fox is a player that has looked good in the past and seems to be a great fit here. If he continues to play as well as he did in week two, the numbers are going to follow.
Haason Reddick added another sack and a half and is an early contender for the sack title.
Jeremy Chinn had another forgettable outing at 3-0-0, but it is hard to tell how much of that is due to the game script versus his new positional responsibilities. The watch and concerns continue.
The BBBears came through week three with a win and a healthy defense. The most interesting development from their matchup with Cincinnati will be to see if Roquan Smith can beat out Bobby Wagner for defensive player of the week. Smith made a serious case for the award, going 5-3-1 with a pick-six. The Bears totaled four sacks, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery in the game.
Week two revealed that the big game by Germaine Pratt in the opener was indeed a mirage. With the same role in week two, Pratt was on the field 60% of the time and had one solo stop on the day. Meanwhile, Logan Wilson is starting to look like the player we thought he would. Wilson’s tackle totals were backward at 3-6-0, but he added an interception and was on the field for virtually every defensive play.
Cincinnati’s defensive ends were quiet in the opener but they showed up against Chicago. Trey Hendrickson finished 1-2-1.5 with a forced fumble while Sam Hubbard went 5-2-.5. Rookie Cameron Sample contributed 3-1-0 as the third man in the rotation. The Bengals lost this one but through two games, it is safe to say this defense is greatly improved.
Anthony Walker landed on IR with his hamstring injury. Speculation has him returning in week five, but until then, Malcolm Smith might be a good answer for a fill-in. Smith stepped into the lead role going 4-4-0 with a pick on 58 of a possible 61 snaps. No other Cleveland linebacker played more than 25. Smith has a history of quality production when given enough opportunity.
After missing all of his rookie season and the first game of his second, Grant Delpit finally got on the field in week two. Most of his 26 plays were as the third safety though I believe he saw some time as a nickel linebacker as well. However he lined up, the results were good. Delpit totaled 3-1-1 and forced a fumble. Look for his role to grow over the next few weeks. With Ronnie Harrison (5-2 on 87%) also playing well, we could see a lot of big nickel from the Browns.
There is reason for concern when it comes to John Johnson III. He was on the field full-time again in week two but is now 6-3-0 through two games. With Harrison at strong safety and Delpit playing near the line in a safety/weakside linebacker role, Johnson has been relegated to center field duties, away from most of the action. Unless he can flip the big-play switch, his value could be marginal.
Delpit had the Browns’ only sack in week two, with Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett combining for 1-6-0. There is nothing to see here other than a simple fluke. Clowney and Garrett are healthy and should rebound nicely against the Bears' rookie quarterback.
Donovan Wilson’s goose egg was a leading mystery after week one. Late in the week, we learned he was dealing with a groin injury. What we don’t know, is when the injury happened. He was reported to have played 85% of the Cowboys snaps in the opener. So did he play through the injury, which would explain a lot? Wilson sat out in week two, which created a dilemma for us. Hopefully, you can stash him on IR until he returns but many of us do not have that option. What we do know, is Jayron Kearse has turned in a pair of solid games at the position. I am going to sit tight on Wilson for now unless/until I have to use the roster spot.
Micah Parsons was effective, landing a sack in his first game as a defensive end. With Randy Gregory set to return from the COVID list soon, Dallas should once again be in decent shape at the defensive end position.
The ripple effect of Parsons’ move to end was considerable on the linebacker position. It was reported that Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal would return to full-time roles with Jaylon Smith having an increased role, but leaving the field in sub-package situations. They lied to us. Vander Esch had a solid game at 4-3-1 but played 52% of the snaps. Smith played 76%, going 6-3-0 with Neal recording three stops on 72%. So we are still left with no full-time linebacker at the moment.
The Denver defense was hit hard on the injury front in week two. Both Bradley Chubb (ankle) and Josey Jewell (shoulder) landed on IR early in the week. Chubb should be back at some point but is expected to miss several weeks, while there is less optimism for Jewell. Malik Reed will step into the lineup at outside linebacker and is a quality replacement. At the inside linebacker spot, the situation is less cut and dry. Justin Strnad took over on Sunday and is the favorite to start this week. I have not yet had time to fully evaluate his performance on the field against Jacksonville, but from what I have seen, Strnad looked fairly good. From an IDP perspective, his 4-2-0 on 23 plays is strong enough to deserve a slot on many waiver lists.
For anyone thinking this might be an opportunity for Baron Browning to get on the field, that is a possibility but feels like a long shot at this point. The other twist here is the Broncos signing of Micah Kiser off the Rams practice squad. This move might be simply for depth, but Kiser has starting experience.
One more not on the Denver linebackers, Alexander Johnson played virtually every snap against Jacksonville and was a dismal 1-3-0 on the day. It was his second straight underwhelming performance.
As you probably know by now, I have never been impressed with Alex Anzalone. I am, however, one to give credit where it is due. He may have played the best game of his career on Monday against the Packers, and it showed in the box score. In the past, he has tried to run around blocks instead of taking them on, and/or struggled to get off blocks at the point of attack. Simply put, he was not physical enough, which led to poor production regardless of playing time. Part of Anzalone’s career-best 8-2-0, came from the Packers running the ball down their throat but he also did a much better job fighting through blockers and getting to the ball. One game does not trump his history of lacking production, but it does provide a reason for optimism. It will not hurt that the Lions are going to be behind a lot either.
After having far less than a full-time role in the opener, it was good to see Jamie Collins Sr on the field for 97% of the snaps against Green Bay. His production was unusually low considering the overall situation, but Collins was around the ball a lot and should rebound nicely against a Baltimore team with more of a power-running game.
Romeo Okwara has all of two assists in two games, but I would advise against giving up on him. Granted, the Lions are not going to play with a lead much, so his rush opportunity could be a bit light overall, but Okwara has ten pressures in those games as well. We should also consider he is playing with a sore shoulder that is likely playing a part. With his general lack of production and a questionable matchup this week, sit him down but hold on another week or two before giving up altogether.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers finally have their man at inside linebacker where De'Vondre Campbell is looking like a great fit. He went off for 10-3-0 and an interception against a Lions offense that struggled considerably for half of the game. Look for Blake Martinez-like numbers from Campbell the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Krys Barnes was relegated to part-time duty, seeing action on 44% of the snaps against the Packers. Expect his role to fluctuate from week to week going forward.
Justin Reid is taking to the free safety position well. His tackle totals have not been great but with an interception in each of the first two games and a forced fumble in week two, Reid has shown the big-play ability Houston coaches want from the position. with interceptions in each of the first two games and a forced fumble for a kicker.
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