The largest mysteries from NFL Week 7: How did DK Metcalf try this? What’s incorrect with Cam Newton?

Halloween is developing on Saturday, so it won’t be too stunning that the NFL delivered a Week 7 full of mysteries.

The week began and ended with dramatic comeback victories, and within the center, we had a half-hour of sheer chaos at the end of the early-afternoon window on Sunday. Followers of the Bengals and Falcons won’t think about blowing late results in be one thing new or inexplicable, however the Browns and Lions followers who benefited won’t know what to do with themselves after heartbreakers really went their manner.

Let’s run by way of the unsolved (or misunderstood) mysteries of Week 7 and attempt to unravel what really occurred. We’ll begin with the very last thing we noticed: Sunday night’s overtime thriller in the desert:

Bounce to a Week 7 thriller:
How did DK Metcalf catch Budda Baker?
How did Todd Gurley forget to fall down?
Why did Daniel Jones fall down untouched?
How did Davante Adams end up wide open?
What is Garett Bolles talking about?
What’s wrong with Cam Newton?

How did a workforce lastly topple the Seahawks?

One of many few guidelines we have been in a position to depend on this season is that the Seahawks all the time appear to discover a option to come out on prime, no matter how bizarre or unlikely the trail they take to get there. Final yr, the formulation for them to win shut video games was maddening. They might bumble round for 2 or three quarters, ask Russell Wilson to bail them out within the fourth, after which declare a slender victory.

It has been totally different in 2020. Wilson has been enjoying at an MVP degree. The protection has not. Regardless of rating twenty sixth in defensive DVOA, although, the protection has provide you with stops when the sport is on the road. Bobby Wagner got here up with a fourth-and-goal cease to seal the win over the Patriots in Week 2 and a fourth-and-1 cease to increase the sport and hand the ball again to the offense in opposition to the Vikings in Week 5. The Seahawks’ move rush got here up with a pair of three-man pressures to finish the sport in opposition to the Cowboys in Week 3.

The protection did extra of the identical in Sunday night’s 37-34 overtime loss to the Cardinals. Whereas the Cardinals have been in a position to transfer the ball all through the sport, Seattle’s protection got here up with large performs. It stuffed the Cardinals early within the recreation on a goal-to-go sequence after DK Metcalf‘s instantly legendary chase-down of Budda Baker. It picked off Kyler Murray within the fourth quarter when the rating was 27-24. After a Seattle landing, the Seahawks stopped the Cardinals on third-and-12 with 3:02 to go and compelled them into an extended discipline aim. In time beyond regulation, they held up on third-and-3 with 25 seconds to go and compelled Arizona into one other lengthy discipline aim try.

The problem with that formulation is that it depends upon the offense and particular groups to be practically excellent, and so they weren’t. Wilson threw three interceptions, together with one in time beyond regulation to arrange the Cardinals with a brief discipline. Seattle had a game-winning landing from Metcalf in time beyond regulation referred to as again for holding. A leverage penalty on Benson Mayowa on a Cardinals discipline aim try gave Arizona a brand new set of downs with three minutes to go, which it then used to attain a landing and pull inside three. (The Patriots’ and Cowboys’ drives have been ones that wanted touchdowns versus discipline targets as a product of failed two-pointers, missed additional factors and safeties from muffed kickoffs.)

ESPN Every day podcast: Bill Barnwell on a wild Week 7

Among the many groups with a transparent and apparent shot at profitable the Tremendous Bowl, none have a extra apparent weak spot than the Seahawks do with their move rush. They rank twenty ninth within the league in each sack price and strain price. They give the impression of being higher by ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric, however in Week 7, their 20% PRWR was the worst of any workforce within the league. Pete Carroll’s protection didn’t sack and even knock down Murray as a passer as soon as throughout 48 dropbacks. By the tip of the sport, the Seattle entrance seven was operating on fumes as Murray and Chase Edmonds ran round them. The Cardinals, in the meantime, have been in a position to warmth up Wilson with sim pressures late within the recreation, stopping the MVP favourite from delivering the knockout blow.

Seattle has simply $3.7 million in cap room, however in a yr by which Wilson is enjoying out of his thoughts, it has a lot to realize from solidifying that move rush. The Seahawks ought to attempt to make a transfer earlier than the Nov. 3 trade deadline, but it surely’s a place additionally they can attempt to tackle as veterans hit the market afterward. Final yr, the Chiefs may need solely claimed Terrell Suggs on waivers to attempt to hold him away from the Ravens, who have been Suggs’ desired vacation spot. As an alternative, he discovered himself enjoying significant snaps within the Tremendous Bowl for Kansas Metropolis. Normal supervisor John Schneider has to seek out his Suggs, as a result of with this present protection, Wilson has little margin for error.


It was a quiet recreation from Metcalf, who noticed heavy doses of Patrick Peterson and completed with two catches for 23 yards, however he helped swing seven factors for Seattle with an incredible tackle on Arizona’s star safety. I am going to let the dots break down what occurred right here:

Metcalf additionally has six inches on Baker, so even supposing he began the play greater than 10 yards away from Baker on the time of the interception, the broad receiver’s lengthy strides allowed him to make up the bottom and produce down Baker yards in need of the tip zone. The Seahawks then stored the Cardinals out of the tip zone on 4 goal-to-go makes an attempt to maintain the rating at 13-7. Baker, who did not have an interception in any of his first 50 professional video games, picked off an Andy Dalton move final week after which practically had a 98-yard pick-six this week. He took the near-miss in stride:


What was Kliff Kingsbury pondering in time beyond regulation?

For many of the recreation on Sunday, the Arizona coach did a fairly good job together with his recreation administration. He was proper to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line on that post-interception possession, given what number of factors the Cardinals have been possible going to want to beat the Seahawks.

Whereas Arizona’s drive down 10 within the fourth quarter wasn’t significantly quick, Kingsbury additionally was proper to take the factors off the board after Mayowa’s penalty to attempt to rating a landing, one thing different coaches would not have carried out. It is true that you simply want a discipline aim and a landing to tie the rating in some order, however when you get the ball deep into opposing territory, you need to make the most of that drive to get your landing. The Mayowa name gave the Cardinals the ball contained in the purple zone, and the Cardinals have been proper to make use of that second to go after the landing they wanted.

Kingsbury’s dealing with of the state of affairs in time beyond regulation, although, left rather a lot to be desired. After the Cardinals acquired a giant play out of Edmonds and a primary down out of Murray, that they had the ball on Seattle’s 18-yard line with 3:36 to go. Spikes apart, every of their offensive performs because the Mayowa penalty had produced a minimal of 6 yards and a mean of 13.5 yards. They have been gashing an exhausted Seahawks protection, and whereas they have been in discipline aim vary, they weren’t shut sufficient to essentially be in what can be thought of as chip shot territory. Working extra performs would have included the chance of a turnover, however Arizona additionally may have scored a landing or burned sufficient day without work the clock to stop the Seahawks from having a shot at profitable the sport if Zane Gonzalez missed his attempt.

As an alternative, issues went pear-shaped. Kingsbury apparently referred to as for Murray to maneuver the ball to the left hashmark, however tight finish Darrell Daniels missed his block on Seahawks security Ryan Neal and Murray misplaced 5 yards. Now, the Cardinals have been going through a 41-yard discipline aim versus a 36-yard attempt. Arizona then despatched Gonzalez onto the sphere and had the clock run all the way in which down earlier than frantically calling timeout to keep away from a delay of recreation. Within the course of, they iced Gonzalez, who hit his first try. I am undecided icing the kicker is an actual factor or has a significant impact, however as a substitute of making an attempt to maneuver the ball to select up the misplaced yardage, the Cardinals despatched him again out and noticed their younger kicker miss his would-be recreation winner.

On the ultimate offensive snap of the sport, Kingsbury despatched out a stunning playcall. Arizona had a third-and-3 on the Seattle 30-yard line, which might end in a 48-yard discipline aim if the Cardinals did not choose up any yardage. With 25 seconds left within the recreation, it had sufficient time to select up a completion for a primary down, spike to cease the clock, and kick a better discipline aim. As an alternative, Kingsbury’s playcall noticed three receivers run vertical routes, with Murray making an attempt a low-percentage throw on one of many three to Christian Kirk for an incomplete move.

Murray did have Larry Fitzgerald matched up in opposition to a linebacker in Bobby Wagner beneath on an choice route, but it surely was stunning to see Kingsbury not ship out a higher-percentage move idea to attempt to create a better discipline aim. In the long run, Gonzalez hit the 48-yarder to win an epic recreation. It wasn’t the one back-and-forth battle from this weekend …


How did Todd Gurley neglect to fall down on the aim line?

The Falcons and Lions each have a behavior of dropping shut video games in crushing vogue, so when the 2 get collectively, the outcomes are normally infuriating. In 2014, the 2 groups performed out one of the worst endings I’ve ever seen in London. In 2017, trailing by 4 factors with 12 seconds left from the Atlanta 1-yard line, the Lions managed to finish a move and nonetheless lose; a display to Golden Tate was dominated a landing, however when Tate was marked a half-yard in need of the aim line on evaluation, the ensuing 10-second runoff ended the sport. (For those who miss NFL crowds, watch this clip, hearken to the bellowing boos when the decision is reversed, and listen to the referee say “By rule, we might return to a operating clock” as if he concurrently hopes it is going to placate the Lions followers and is aware of it is going to make them even madder anyway.)

It should not be a shock that the 2020 matchup produced one other wild ending. Late within the recreation, the Falcons trailed by two factors and confronted a first-and-10 from the Detroit 10-yard line. Since there was only one:12 to go and the Lions have been out of timeouts, not like the Cardinals, the Falcons have been ready the place they might kneel twice and kick a chip shot to win. Younghoe Koo would have been trying a 28-yard discipline aim, and over the previous decade, kickers have hit from that vary roughly 97% of the time. Koo was additionally kicking indoors and would have had the power to name out his most well-liked hashmark to Matt Ryan.

As an alternative, only one play after Gurley had fumbled (and recovered his personal fumble), offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter selected handy the ball to the veteran operating again. Gurley broke by way of the road, and when Lions security Will Harris halfheartedly tried to deal with him, Gurley broke the deal with and proceeded toward the end zone. He was about to attain essentially the most damaging landing of his profession. If he had simply gone down on the 1-yard line, the Falcons may have continued to run the clock down and kicked an excellent simpler discipline aim.

If anybody ought to know what to do on this state of affairs, after all, it is Gurley. You may argue that an athlete cannot resist the urge to attain a landing and put his workforce forward when the sport is on the road, however Gurley did simply that twice within the 2018 season. He turned down a touchdown in October to seal up a win over the Packers, after which did it in a more marginal situation later that season against the Lions, to the purpose by which the Rams really despatched Gurley again out to attain the landing.

This time, although, Gurley realized that he wanted to fall down one second too late. It was as if Harris’ disinterest in tackling him reminded Gurley that he did not need to rating. Gurley tried to cease himself and hold the ball out of the tip zone, just for his momentum to hold the ball over the aircraft of the aim line. We have been left with the weird picture of a operating again making an attempt to not rating the lead-taking landing whereas the opposing protection celebrated by throwing up the landing image.

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Todd Gurley bursts up the center towards the tip zone and tries to cease himself from scoring in an try and run day without work the clock, however the ball breaks the aircraft of the aim line for a landing.

To be clear, I do not fault Gurley for scoring. Koetter by no means ought to have given Gurley the ball within the first place. In that Packers recreation two years in the past, the Rams solely wanted to kneel after Gurley’s run to wrap up the sport. On this recreation, the Falcons nonetheless needed to kick a discipline aim, which has a number of transferring components. As soon as the Falcons gave Gurley the ball whereas they have been trailing, they cannot anticipate him to not run the ball in.

I would wish to say what occurred subsequent appeared preordained, but it surely wasn’t like what occurred subsequent was straightforward. The Falcons transformed a two-pointer to make it 22-16. The Lions drove downfield with three completions, together with a miraculous catch from Kenny Golladay for 29 yards with three seconds left on the clock. (For those who’re a Falcons fan questioning why that catch did not end in a runoff, it is as a result of the choice stood as referred to as.) Matthew Stafford then hit T.J. Hockenson for an 11-yard landing to tie the rating, just for Danny Amendola to be referred to as for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play. The Lions have been really left with a 48-yard additional level to win the sport, which Matt Prater hit to seal up a tragic flip of occasions for the Falcons.


Why did Daniel Jones run 80 yards and fall down?

Gurley did not fall down when he needed to. Jones, alternatively, fell down when he needed to remain up. With the Giants trailing 10-7 within the third quarter of the Thursday night game against the Eagles, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett referred to as for a zone-read idea with Jones and operating again Wayne Gallman. The zone-read has been within the NFL for a decade now, and the idea is straightforward. Jones reads the defensive finish on the road of scrimmage as he goes handy the ball to Gallman. If the tip stays outdoors, Gallman will get the soccer. If the tip crashes inside, Jones retains it and runs outdoors.

One widespread protection for the zone-read is to do what is called a scrape-exchange, the place the defensive finish crashes inside and a linebacker or security on the second degree exchanges gaps with that defender and scrapes outdoors to take the quarterback. My suspicion is that the Eagles have been dealing with the zone-read this fashion, however whereas Brandon Graham lower inside to go after Gallman, security Rodney McLeod … adopted him inside. Suddenly, Jones had daylight, and he ran for a very long time.

After operating for about 60 yards and topping out at over 21 mph, although, he tried to succeed in for the afterburners to get the remainder of the way in which, solely to seek out out that the afterburners weren’t functioning. Jones started to lose stride and ultimately fell to the bottom untouched. It was a disgrace, too, as I do not assume he actually wanted to get quicker; we have heard tales of gamers utilizing the enormous screens ultimately zones to see the place gamers are behind them, however as somebody who would not usually run 60 yards untouched, he did not know what number of steps he had on the Philly protection and felt like he wanted an additional gear.

Jones was understandably the topic of punchlines the next day, though that is a bit of harsh. I do not assume I may run 80 yards with out falling down, and as I noted on Twitter, the ghost who tackled Jones can be the Cowboys’ finest security. No much less of an authority on athletic brilliance than Patrick Mahomes additionally steered he would struggle to run all the way on a 92-yard keeper for a score. The Giants ultimately acquired the ball ultimately zone in a while the drive, so Jones’ blunder did not imply all that a lot in the long term.

As an alternative, it has really distracted from extra significant issues. Jones continues to be a turnover machine, and whereas he wasn’t actually the one accountable for a second-quarter interception, the second-year quarterback continues to battle growing any type of really feel for opposing move strain. His consolation degree within the pocket generally is a blessing compared to different quarterbacks who battle to maintain their eyes upfield, however he takes too many sudden hits, and people hits result in fumbles. Graham strip-sacked Jones after he held the ball for 3.6 seconds late within the fourth quarter, with Philadelphia recovering to seal its one-point victory.

It is manner too early to make any type of daring proclamations about new Giants coach Joe Decide, however the way in which the Giants misplaced this recreation needs to be disheartening. Decide got here into city this spring as a disciplinarian who preached that the Giants would deal with fundamentals and be a blue-collar soccer workforce.

After the Giants went up 21-10 with a bit of over six minutes to go within the recreation, they appeared to neglect every thing Decide had been preaching. They dedicated 5 penalties on protection and added a sixth on particular groups, which had been Decide’s specialty in New England. Cornerback Ryan Lewis by some means acquired beat deep on the primary drive whereas staring into the backfield when the Eagles desperately wanted a giant play downfield. Evan Engram dropped what would have been a drive-extending move from Jones with 2:14 to go. Decide cannot flip Jones into Mahomes or Kyler Fackrell into Lawrence Taylor, however the 38-year-old has steered he could make a distinction by getting the Giants to do the little issues proper. With an opportunity to upset a division rival, the Giants did each little factor incorrect, and that dashed their probabilities much more than Jones’ slip-up.


Early within the season, it appeared just like the Patriots had discovered a cut price at quarterback. A wholesome Newton ran over the Dolphins in Week 1 and produced a massive game against the Seahawks in Week 2, coming inside a yard of beating one of many league’s finest groups. Newton wasn’t fairly as efficient in Week 3 against the Raiders, and after contracting the coronavirus earlier than the following week’s game against the Chiefs, he sat out for 3 weeks.

Since returning to the sphere on Oct. 18 against the Broncos, the previous league MVP has been terrible. In consecutive losses to the Broncos and 49ers, he has gone 26-of-40 for 255 yards with 5 interceptions. His Total QBR over that time-frame is simply 12.5, a determine that solely Joe Flacco didn’t hit over that very same window. Most of Newton’s manufacturing in opposition to the Broncos got here within the fourth quarter, however he did not even make it to the fourth quarter on Sunday, with Invoice Belichick benching his starter for Jarrett Stidham.

If it is potential, Newton seems worse than even these numbers would point out. The 31-year-old was making correct passes downfield earlier this season, however he seems completely out of whack over the previous two weeks. He has developed a sudden behavior of one-hopping throws, even on quick passes out into the flat. His completion share over expectation hasn’t been horrible — he’s 2.5% under expectation over the previous two weeks — however his passes have been all over.

It will be straightforward to chalk up Newton’s play to a recurrence of an previous damage and counsel that his surgically repaired shoulder or foot are giving him issues, however neither appears possible. He has nonetheless proven zip on a few of his throws when mandatory. The Auburn product’s foot damage precipitated him to sail passes a yr in the past, so the issues he is having now are the precise reverse. There have been solutions that Newton might have injured his hand in the Broncos game, and when it comes to his inaccuracy, that type of damage would take advantage of sense. If his hand actually was injured, although, it appears possible that we might have heard about it by now.

It appears extra believable that Newton is not one hundred pc as he recovers from a debilitating virus. Whereas among the gamers across the league who’ve contracted COVID-19 have been in a position to get previous it whereas remaining asymptomatic or exhibiting solely delicate signs, the virus would not impression each participant the identical manner. On Sunday, we heard in regards to the story of Jaguars operating again Ryquell Armstead, who was positioned on the reserve/COVID-19 listing earlier than the season started. Since then, the 23-year-old has been hospitalized twice and handled severe respiratory points. He is now expected to miss the remainder of the season.

It is also honest to level out that the Patriots actually haven’t got a lot round Newton proper now, particularly after they lose gamers to damage. Towards the Broncos, the Pats have been with out one star guard in Shaq Mason. On Sunday, the Pats misplaced their different beginning guard, franchise-tagged Joe Thuney, after 23 snaps. Vast receiver N’Keal Harry was knocked out of the sport after taking a success on a crossing sample, whereas Julian Edelman was a nonfactor and seems to be enjoying at effectively lower than one hundred pc. New England’s prime receiver in the mean time is Damiere Byrd.

On the similar time, even given the problems round him, Newton isn’t enjoying effectively. The issue is that Belichick would not actually have an alternate. Stidham is 11-of-23 for 124 yards with three picks in two substitute appearances. Brian Hoyer was benched halfway by way of his spot begin in opposition to the Chiefs. Newton has a a lot greater ceiling than both of Belichick’s different choices, which is why the legendary coach mentioned Newton would continue to be his team’s starter. Until Newton can elevate his flooring, although, Belichick goes to have loads of time in January to film more sandwich commercials.


Who’s enjoying quarterback for the Cowboys?

It is getting darkish terrible early for the Cowboys, who adopted their 38-10 loss to the Cardinals by losing 25-3 to the Washington Football Team on Sunday. It is simply the second time up to now 15 years that they’ve misplaced by 21 factors or extra in consecutive weeks, with the earlier occasion coming when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended in 2017.

Elliott remains to be round, however whereas enjoying behind 4 backup offensive linemen, the franchise runner may muster solely 51 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches. Dallas is as a substitute lacking quarterback Dak Prescott, and when Jon Bostic laid out Andy Dalton with a cheap shot in the third quarter, the Cowboys have been down their veteran backup for the rest of the sport. Bostic’s hit was brutal and uncalled for, however on condition that Dalton was 9-of-19 for 75 yards with an interception earlier than the damage, I do not assume it price the Cowboys the sport.

Dalton was changed by rookie seventh-round choose Ben DiNucci, who proceeded to fumble twice throughout his first 5 snaps. He blended in a pleasant honey gap completion to Amari Cooper in opposition to Cowl 2 in between the fumble and completed 2-of-3 passing for 39 yards, with Dallas largely preferring handy the ball to Tony Pollard in what amounted to rubbish time.

For those who had not heard of DiNucci earlier than, I can not be too offended at you. The 23-year-old began his profession at Pittsburgh, the place he spent a part of his time backing up Nathan Peterman earlier than transferring on to FCS powerhouse James Madison. DiNucci was solely a freshman when he performed behind the previous Payments starter, however even for essentially the most hardened Cowboys hater, “former backup to Nathan Peterman” should evoke some small sense of sympathy for America’s Staff.

Seventh-round quarterbacks are virtually all the time developmental sorts who not often play throughout their rookie seasons. Since 2000, solely two quarterbacks chosen within the seventh spherical have began video games of their first season out of faculty. One is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw eight picks on 135 move makes an attempt for the 2005 Rams. The opposite is John Navarre (Cardinals), who made one profession begin. It will be asking quite a lot of DiNucci to start out with a full complement of offensive items, not to mention with out 4 beginning linemen or his beginning tight finish.

If Dalton isn’t in a position to play Sunday in opposition to the Eagles, although, DiNucci can be doing simply that. The one different quarterback on the roster is Garrett Gilbert, who was signed off Cleveland’s follow squad two weeks in the past and has six profession move makes an attempt in six professional seasons. Essentially the most skilled quarterback the Cowboys have left who is aware of their scheme is offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who began two video games for Dallas in 2015. The previous Boise State standout is perhaps their best choice in the mean time.


After Sunday’s 43-16 loss to the Chiefs, Denver’s left deal with was requested in regards to the distinction between his workforce and the fellows within the different locker room. Bolles responded with the next:

Now, I perceive that Bolles is not going to listen to this query and reply by trashing his personal quarterback. There’s nothing to be gained from being brutally trustworthy and suggesting that Drew Lock won’t be on a degree with Chiefs backup Chad Henne, not to mention Patrick Mahomes. Denver’s most important offensive weapon left standing is Melvin Gordon, who is perhaps the third-string operating again if he have been transplanted onto the Chiefs’ roster.

Leaving the quote apart, this recreation was a mirrored image on how far the Broncos nonetheless must go, and the way they could have wasted time this offseason. They did not herald a lot competitors for Lock, and whereas the second-year quarterback appeared good for many of the recreation in opposition to the Patriots final week, he threw two interceptions within the fourth quarter and added two extra within the snow on Sunday. The primary one was extra egregious, as he confronted a giant blitz and threw late off his again foot. His fast out was neither fast nor out, and Daniel Sorensen jumped it for a pick-six. The second throw was off receiver KJ Hamler‘s palms and into Tyrann Mathieu‘s, but it surely was a move Lock threw behind his receiver.

Normal supervisor John Elway additionally signed Gordon to a two-year deal, and he blended in two fumbles whereas scoring a garbage-time landing. The previous Chargers again had the ball knocked out of his palms on a third-and-18 checkdown, then launched the ball over Lock’s head on a flea flicker and into the palms of Frank Clark. Gordon missed final week’s Patriots recreation with strep throat and likewise was cited on DUI charges. He may need been dropping time on this recreation to Phillip Lindsay, who carried the ball 9 occasions for 79 yards and appeared just like the far superior again, just for Lindsay to be knocked out of the game with a concussion. It would not be a shock if the Broncos voided Gordon’s $4.5 million assure in 2021 because of his DUI and his middling on-field play.

Paradoxically, one of many shiny spots for the Broncos on offense has been the play of Bolles. The previous first-round choose had few followers in Denver after committing a staggering 34 holding penalties from 2017 to ’19, 15 greater than every other participant. The Broncos declined Bolles’ fifth-year option and anticipated the Utah product to be in a struggle for his job at camp, however when Ja’Wuan James opted out, Bolles was left within the lineup virtually by default.

In what’s now a contract yr, although, he has surged ahead. He has dedicated solely two holding penalties, and whereas that is in a league by which offensive holding calls are down throughout the board, he has a team-best pass block win rate of 91.6%. Bolles all of the sudden seems like a potential constructing block on a workforce that has had treasured little go proper on offense in 2020. He must hold this up for some time longer earlier than shedding his previous tags as an issue, however his efficiency is a reminder that gamers enhance at totally different charges and haven’t got a simple cutoff level for fulfillment or failure. His quote, alternatively, is a reminder that gamers aren’t all the time one of the best liars.


Why is Carlos Dunlap promoting his home on Twitter?

A gentle producer for the Bengals over the previous decade, Dunlap’s feud with the group has escalated dramatically. After serving in a three-down function over the primary 4 weeks of the season, he complained publicly when defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo advised the Florida product that he can be moved to a part-time function for Cincinnati’s Week 5 recreation in opposition to Baltimore. Dunlap performed 46% of the snaps that day, was in for 45% of the snaps in opposition to the Colts final week after which performed simply 22% of the snaps in Sunday’s back-and-forth loss to the Browns.

Dunlap did not take the additional discount in snaps effectively. First, he got into an argument with Anarumo on the finish of the sport. After that, he determined to take issues a step additional by placing his home up on the market on Twitter. “~6000 sqft metropolis view with enormous balcony. 4 bed room. 4.5 toilet. In the most effective college districts on the market,” Dunlap wrote in the now-deleted tweet. “Do your market evaluation and make me supply. Critical inquiries solely with proof of funds! Proprietor is keen to promote furnished or unfurnished!”

It would not take a rocket scientist or a soccer author to see that Dunlap desires to be lower or traded. He won’t get his want. The Bengals are on the hook for Dunlap’s $7.8 million base wage, which has just below $4.6 million left with 10 weeks to go within the 2020 marketing campaign. Groups just like the Seahawks want edge rushers, however Dunlap is a dearer choice than different potential edge commerce candidates on condition that base wage, which could make a commerce tough. The Bengals may lower him, however possession won’t need to reward him for rocking the boat. Provided that risk, it isn’t a shock that Dunlap escalated his complaints earlier than the commerce deadline.

Quietly, one other Bengals stalwart has joined Dunlap within the ranks of the hardly there. Geno Atkins missed the primary 4 video games of the season with a shoulder damage, and within the first two weeks after his comeback, he performed 29% of the defensive snaps. On Sunday, that determine fell to 22%. He’s coming off his worst season as a professional, however the 32-year-old had 39 sacks from 2015 to ’18 and will nonetheless supply one thing as an inside disruptor.

Atkins hasn’t raised the identical type of fuss as Dunlap, however his contract is perhaps much more tough to deal. The Georgia product has $6.5 million in prorated base wage left in 2020. The Bengals may simply find yourself getting a late-round choose to get Atkins off their books, and groups just like the 49ers and Raiders may very well be interested by useful pass-rushing depth.


How did Davante Adams find yourself broad open on a 45-yard landing?

I’m all the time fascinated when a celebrity receiver finally ends up completely uncovered in the course of a giant recreation. It is easy for us on the skin to marvel why that occurs. Each spotlight of that play goes to incorporate some announcer saying, “How is he that broad open?” I needed to know why Adams, who was within the middle of a 196-yard game, was operating completely free within the secondary for a 45-yard landing. The reply was extra in regards to the Texans than in regards to the Packers star.

In 2013, earlier than Invoice O’Brien even arrived on the town, the Texans tried to revamp their security place by signing Ed Reed and utilizing a second-round choose on his eventual substitute, South Carolina security D.J. Swearinger. Neither transfer labored. Reed was a catastrophe in seven video games with the Texans earlier than being lower, whereas Swearinger was lower after two seasons with the workforce. The Texans then took cornerback Andre Hal, a seventh-round pick of Vanderbilt, and transformed him to free security, the place he began for 3 seasons.

In 2018, they signed Tyrann Mathieu to a one-year, $7 million deal. Shortly thereafter, Hal introduced that he was coping with Hodgkin lymphoma. Whereas he made a full return and served as a 3rd security for the Texans, he retired after the season. Mathieu impressed, however he left for a multiyear take care of the Chiefs, the place he helped them win a Tremendous Bowl. The Texans signed Tashaun Gipson to a three-year, $22 million deal to take Mathieu’s place, however the former Jaguars starter battled by way of again and wrist accidents in his first season and was lower after the 2019 season.

Whereas the Texans had crammed one security spot with Justin Reid, they wanted a participant to start out alongside him. Enter Eric Murray, who had excelled on particular groups with the Chiefs earlier than spending a yr with the Browns. Neither the Chiefs nor Browns appeared assured in Murray as an everyday security, however O’Brien gave Murray a three-year, $18 million deal to start out. After three video games, O’Brien tried to sign Earl Thomas to take over as free security, solely to spark the reported participant disenchantment that ultimately led to his gorgeous firing one week later. (Murray is nominally a powerful security, however Reid is flexible sufficient to play each free and robust security and would have possible moved to the sturdy security spot if Thomas did signal.)

Murray has stayed within the lineup and allowed a passer rating of 117.1 in coverage, which means he turns each goal into roughly your typical Russell Wilson move try. As a result of the Texans have not had Gareon Conley, misplaced Bradley Roby to damage, need to attempt 2019 second-rounder Lonnie Johnson Jr. at security and have needed to depend on guys comparable to Vernon Hargreaves and Phillip Gaines for significant snaps, Murray discovered himself enjoying slot nook for stretches on Sunday.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur unquestionably observed. There have been a few occasions early within the recreation by which the Packers got here out with 11 personnel, break up their tight finish out as a receiver, and noticed Murray come down towards the road of scrimmage as a cornerback. LaFleur acquired Adams aligned in opposition to Murray on a previous third down, however he made the mismatch depend later within the recreation.

On third-and-4 from the Houston 45-yard line, the Packers lined up Adams on the road of scrimmage in a diminished break up, simply to the within of Darrius Shepherd. The Texans responded with Murray throughout from Adams and Gaines throughout from Shepherd. I’d be shocked if Aaron Rodgers noticed this and even thought of going wherever else with the soccer. Inside a half-second of the snap, it did not matter. Shepherd ran a fast out to attract Gaines to the skin and permit Adams a free launch in opposition to Murray. Inside a half-second, Murray had been erased from the face of the earth:

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Aaron Rodgers airs out a move to Davante Adams, who will get into the tip zone for a 45-yard landing.

Adams really beats Murray twice on the play. He will get so open so shortly that Rodgers’ throw forces the star receiver to decelerate and spin to catch the move. Then, after Murray makes use of that slowdown to catch up, Adams turns his pace again on and accelerates away from Murray to attain.

Is that this Murray’s fault? It is determined by how lengthy your view is of the state of affairs. On this play, he doesn’t do something to cease Adams. This might and doubtless would have performed out precisely the identical manner if the Texans had despatched out 10 males and simply not covered Adams at all. This was primarily a route in opposition to air.

On the similar time, although, why on earth do the Texans have their sturdy security one-on-one in opposition to the most effective receivers in soccer on third down? I can depend the variety of safeties I would need to trot out within the slot in opposition to Adams on third down on one hand without having all of my fingers. The Texans haven’t got quite a lot of options of their secondary with Roby and Conley out, and the Packers can attempt to dictate mismatches with how they line up their personnel, however quite a lot of good defenses handle to keep away from lining up their worst protection security in opposition to celebrity wideouts on third down. The Texans aren’t ready to try this.

Within the large image, although, the truth that Murray is even on this state of affairs to start with is an organizational failure. Swearinger was drafted 12 picks earlier than Mathieu, who may have turn into a franchise cornerstone. Lacking on Swearinger led the Texans to short-term options in free company like Mathieu and Gipson, and buying and selling away draft picks prevented them from including extra gamers to deal with the weakest positional room on their roster. When O’Brien gained personnel energy, he ignored the everyday market worth of gamers like Murray and paid a premium for a man who was then overmatched for his new function. All these missteps led to a matchup the place the most effective receivers in soccer was operating free for an extended landing. Normally, that occurs as a result of a defensive again falls down. This time, it was a company.

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