Mac Jones’ Ankle Severely Injured in Patriots Loss to Ravens

FOXBORO — The New England Patriots fell flat yet again in a 37-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones putting forth one of his most horrendous displays as the team’s centerpiece, passing for three interceptions with a notable dropped pick six.

The Patriots quarterback saw his afternoon go from bad to worse when Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell fell on Jones’ leg on the team’s last offensive play of the game. With Campbell dragging Jones down and allowing all 300 pounds of body weight to contort the quarterback’s ankle, Jones immediate came up hobbling and in pain.

Jones was immediately greeted by the team’s athletic trainer on the sidelines and made his way directly to the locker room, despite time remaining in the game. The Patriots quarterback was subsequently seen exiting the X-Ray room with the trainer following the game.

Judging from his immediate reaction during the injury, Jones might be out for a significant portion of time — perhaps even for the season. Jones’ injury is most likely a serious high-ankle sprain.

While normal low-ankle sprains happen with internal rotation (like rolling your ankle while playing basketball), high-ankle sprains happen with external rotation. This makes them common in contact sports like football.

High-ankle sprains actually occur when the ligaments connecting the leg bones just above the ankle (tibia and fibula) are stretched out with this external rotation. They generally take around two months (~8 weeks) to heal. Therefore, if Jones returns for the Patriots, he may be able to return for the team’s Week 11 home matchup against the New York Jets.

Jimmy Garoppolo: The Ultimate Insurance Policy

The San Francisco 49ers went under a lot of scrutinies during this past off-season. Controversy circled around quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and when he would be moving from the bay area. Theories ranged from being sent to the Giants, a rare in-division trade to the Seattle Seahawks, or even outright cutting the signal caller.

Ultimately, the 49ers chose to keep him. An answer none of us saw as a possibility. The decision was again, scrutinized. Why keep an average NFL starter on your roster when you’re trying to see what you have in second-year quarterback Trey Lance? The debates ensued as Garoppolo returned to team practices with Lance comfortably as the starter. They opened the year 0-1 losing in a monsoon to the lowly Chicago Bears.

Aiming to rebound in week 2 against the Seahawks, things quickly got derailed. Trey Lance went down after taking a nasty leg injury on a designed run. He was quickly carted off the field, and out came Jimmy G.

He performed well, giving the 49ers their first win of the year over a division rival. Garoppolo passed for 154 yards and a score. Handing off the ball to Jeff Wilson Jr and taking the easy throws. Just as he did the last time we saw him.

This decision to keep Garoppolo has proved to be one of the wisest decisions in recent memory. Now that Lance is out for the remainder of the year, the 49ers aren’t necessarily cooked. They have an established quarterback to go back to who knows just as much if not more than the guy they were starting.

Looking Ahead

The 49ers are comfortably above water after losing their quarterback of the future. They have a signal caller who just took this squad to the NFC Championship Game last season. The 31-year-old veteran is in a prime position to take the 49ers right into the playoff picture. It’s not like they’re any worse from last season. This team is still star-studded on offense with all-pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel, superstar tight end George Kittle, and a deep running back stable.

Now are the 49ers suddenly Super Bowl champions with Jimmy Garoppolo under center? Probably not. They still have a gauntlet of a division to run through. As well as a tight NFC playoff picture to fit into. But one thing is for sure with Garoppolo, they’re not dead. They’re still very much in the playoff picture.

What was once considered a classic case of asset mismanagement by the John Lynch-Kyle Shanahan regime, now might just be one of the best decisions of this past off-season. Now instead of an unpredictable backup trying to keep this team afloat, they now have somebody who’s proven that he can do it for them.

The 49ers can look ahead to having Jimmy Garoppolo in the starting lineup next week when they take on the inconsistent Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Take a deep breath Niner Nation. Sure, Lance going down is a terrible situation for your young quarterback. But you’re not done yet.

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Patriots’ Kendrick Bourne Snubbed in Season Opener

The electric wide receiver saw just two snaps in a 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

After an exciting first week of the NFL, New England Patriots fans find themselves in disbelief once again. Kendrick Bourne, the Patriots’ leading receiver in 2021, only had a total of two snaps against the Miami Dolphins. 

Bourne had one catch for 41 yards against Miami. He had the second most receiving yards out of all of the New England receivers despite being present for only two snaps. 

Bourne was signed before the 2021-2022 season on a 3-year, $15,000,000 contract. He recorded 55 catches on 70 targets for 800 total yards receiving. He also posted 15 touchdowns. 

After the Patriots signed former Dolphins receiver Devante Parker, the order of the depth chart came into question. During training camp, Bourne had been struggling to maintain the number of targets he saw a season ago. His production in the offense hit a low point when he was kicked out of the joint practice against the Carolina Panthers for his involvement in a fight. In addition, Bourne didn’t receive a single pass in preseason.

Some recent reports claim that Bourne didn’t show up on time for a mandatory meeting before the preseason game against the Panthers. Given head coach Bill Belichick’s attitude towards players missing meetings, Bourne’s absence makes sense. After Bourne was interviewed in the locker room following the game against Miami, he explained how he needed to start gaining the coaches’ trust again. He claimed, “I’m just not giving the coaches what they need to see. I need to get better on my part.”

Whatever the situation might have been, the Patriots will need the production and the reliability Bourne has to offer. After the struggles at offense against the Dolphins, it is clear that they were missing Bourne’s electricity. 

SOURCE: Patriots Express Interest in Texas Longhorns LB

Everyone knows the common theme of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots being the best at finding under-appreciated stars throughout college football.

Whether it is J.C. Jackson, Malcolm Butler, Gunner Olszewski and (hopefully) Cole Strange, the Patriots have a knack at finding solid contributors through the world of collegiate football.

Well, they are already getting a head start on the 2023 NFL Draft and the incoming prospects.

According to a source, the Patriots have expressed interest in Texas senior linebacker Jett Bush.

Bush, who joined the Longhorns program as a preferred walk-on, is now on scholarship and is a key member of this Texas team, which recently competed with No. 1 ranked Alabama down to the final whistle.

The Longhorns have sent two players to the Patriots organization this past season, as WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey was signed to the active roster this past week, joining fellow Texas alum Brenden Schooler.

Schooler played on the defensive side of the ball with Bush, who has played in 33 games in Austin. Bush also has one career sack and one forced fumble to his name.

The current linebackers in the Patriots locker room are set to go through some changes after this season, as Raekwon McMillan, Jahlani Tavai and Mack Wilson Sr. are all set to face free agency come March.

On the field, the Patriots are planning to compete against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but behind closed doors, the front office and scouting department has been working hard to bring in the next crop of New England talent.

Mac Jones’ Injury is Concerning for Patriots

The New England Patriots quarterback dealt with back spasms following a loss to the Miami Dolphins.

On its own merits, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones’ injury itself doesn’t actually seem to be that bad.

The second-year quarterback was spotted walking gingerly towards the X-Ray room at Hard Rock Stadium following the team’s week one loss to the Miami Dolphins. Fortunately, the X-Ray came back negative for any major issues. Reports now point to back spasms as the main culprit in Jones’ post-game limp.

Back spasms are among the most common injuries across sports in general. They involve involuntary muscle contractions (tightening) and can be due to a variety of factors, including overuse, dehydration, and drained electrolytes. Basically, they’re back cramps.

So to put this as simply as possible, Jones had cramps after a hot game down in Miami. As Ian Rapoport put it, this is a “best case scenario.”

The most significant cause for worry with Jones’ injury comes from his back spasms most likely being due to overuse. In his first game of the season, Jones passed 30 times (not a crazy high amount). However, a good chunk (14, by my count) of these were past the line of scrimmage and to the sidelines while under duress — this usually meant that Jones was fading while delivering throws that required more power. Because of this, Jones may have been forced to rotate more explosively with his core, leading to the fatigue-based injury.

Of course, this isn’t really Jones’ fault at all. The Patriots offensive line was horrendous in pass protection. This brings me to the most worrying part of Jones’ injury. With the New England offensive line struggling with communication throughout training camp and preseason, their woes continued into week one. Seven of Miami’s points came as a direct result of this inefficacy. With Jones constantly having to go to the sidelines, the offense felt hard-pressed to find any yardage at all.

Jones is a pocket passer. To a great extent, this is because of necessity and not choice. The offensive line absolutely has to give Jones a clean pocket for the offense to have any kind of success this season. The alternative doesn’t just include offensive failure through the season; there’s a good chance it could mean cascading injuries for the team’s franchise quarterback.

The Case for More Ties

After every tie, the conversation is the same. How does professional football still have ties? Why is the NFL the only level of football to allow such an anti-American concept in the game? Nobody likes ties, get them out of the game. Overtime until someone wins!

Look, I get it. Coaches don’t like ties. Players don’t like ties. Fans loath ties. We all don’t like ties. Football is a game of winners and losers and there isn’t supposed to be an in-between. Despite this, The NFL needs to eliminate overtime (regular season only) and embrace ties, or at least learn to deal with them. Let’s look at why.

Ryan Santoso misses a 48-yard field goal in OT of the Lions 16-16 tie against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Ryan Santoso misses a 48-yard field goal in OT of the Lions 16-16 tie against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

College football implemented overtime in 1996, eliminating ties. Since then, there has been a myriad of attempted changes. Teams had to start going for a two-point conversion after a touchdown in the 3rd overtime. Starting in 2021, that became the second overtime while, starting in the third overtime, teams had to then alternate two-point tries to determine the winner.

This is a poor, and ultimately arbitrary, way to decide who is victorious.

Teams who excel in short-yardage situations are given an advantage in these situations while spread passing offenses are hindered. Ideas for field goal competitions have been proposed. This presents another arbitrary advantage-disadvantage situation. No matter the method, anything short of playing more, standard rules football, will not determine who the better team is, but rather who benefitted more from gimmicky rules.

Arizona kicker Chandler Catanzaro misses a field goal in overtime of the Cardinals 6-6 tie with the Seahawks in Glendale in 2016.

The NFL has portrayed itself as being pro-player safety-driven since the reports of widespread CTE became national news. Many rules have been changed to lessen the chances of injury to the players. These include a ban on lowering the helmet to initiate contact, protections for defenseless players, and shortening the overtime period from 15 to 10 minutes in 2017.

With each game that goes to overtime, players on the field are required to sacrifice their bodies for an additional 10 potential minutes of game time, on top of the 60 minutes of punishing hits they had already endured. If a primary goal of the NFL is player safety, not extending a game should be a focus.

Kyler Murray throws a pass during the Cardinals 27-27 tie against the Lions in 2019.

1,174 regular-season games have been played from the 2017 NFL season through Week 10 of the 2021 season. Of those 1,174, just 62 have reached the end of regulation with the score tied. Five of those games resulted in a tie. That’s less than 12 overtime games each year.

The Colts attempt a 4th and 4 in their 37-34 overtime loss against the Texans in Indianapolis in 2018.

There are other tie-limiting factors to consider as well. In 2018, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich famously left his offense on the field to attempt a 4th and 4 from their own 43 yard line in overtime against the Houston Texans. With just 27 seconds left in the extra period, the attempt failed. The Texans won on a field goal as time expired. Reich said after the game: “We’re not playing to tie. We’re going for it 10 times out of 10.” While this was more of an exception than the rule, it was not an isolated incident.

Later that season, then Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn attempted a 2-point conversion with four seconds left in regulation. Down one point in Kansas City to the Chiefs, Lynn did not want to take the risk of giving the ball to Patrick Mahomes in overtime. That fear had quality reasoning behind it.

Zane Gonzalez reacts to missing an overtime field goal against the Steelers in Cleveland in 2018. The game would finish tied 21-21.
Zane Gonzalez reacts to missing an overtime field goal against the Steelers in Cleveland in 2018. The game would finish tied 21-21.

Winning the coin toss is random and unpredictable. With each coin flip, the away team has a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly and, because of this, winning a game in overtime is far from random. Since 2017, teams that won the overtime coin toss are 35-22-5 (.605). Football is a game of inches. A 20 percentage point swing is monstrous and outside the bounds of standard variance. In 2021 alone, coin toss winners are 9-4-1. Overtime doesn’t decide who was the better team, it decides which was luckier.

Carson Wentz and Joe Burrow after the Bengals and Eagles tied 23-23 in Philadelphia in 2020.
Carson Wentz and Joe Burrow after the Bengals and Eagles tied 23-23 in Philadelphia in 2020.

Entering the final week of the regular season, playoff-clinching scenarios articles are in abundance. Every possible outcome is accounted for including which tiebreakers would be in play. Sporadic ties eliminate the need for those tiebreakers. The 2017 Buffalo Bills punched their postseason ticket on a tiebreaker with the Baltimore Ravens. Had those Bills tied with the Colts in an overtime game they won earlier that season (after winning the overtime coin-toss), and the Ravens tied with the Chicago Bears in a game they lost in overtime (Chicago won the overtime coin-toss) a more deserving Ravens team would have been in the playoffs.

Lamar Jackson slams the ball to the grass after being sacked during the Ravens 22-10 loss in Miami.

In Week 9, 2021, The Ravens hosted the Minnesota Vikings. The game lasted 69 minutes, 44 seconds. The Ravens won on a Justin Tucker field goal (after winning the coin toss), beating the Vikings 34-31. Just four short days later, that same Ravens team flew to Miami to take on the lowly 2-7 Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. Hard Rock Stadium was humid, hot, and mucky. Favored by 8.5 points, Baltimore came out flat, eventually losing 22-10 in a game the score did no justice. Thursday Nights are extremely hard on NFL players’ bodies (a case for eliminating those another time). Adding extra wear and tear only worsens the turnaround.

Daniel Carlson misses an overtime field goal as time expires in Green Bay in 2018. The Packers and Vikings tie 29-29.
Daniel Carlson misses an overtime field goal as time expires in Green Bay in 2018. The Packers and Vikings tie 29-29.

Not every game deserves a winner and a loser. If, after 60 minutes of game action two teams are even, so be it. Players should not have to sacrifice their bodies for additional game minutes without compensation. A loss should not be assigned to a team because the NFL arbitrarily extended their game. A team should not win because they won a 50-50 luck-based proposition. Other sports have recognized this. MLS awards three points for a win and one for a draw. The NHL rewards an overtime loss with one point. MLS plays twice the amount of games as the NFL while the NHL plays nearly five times as many. With NFL teams playing 17 games, and the noted randomness of overtime, too much is at stake to leave even one game riding on chance.

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Over Reaction Sunday, Browns Edition

What went wrong in New England and where the Browns go from here.

Whew. Alright Browns fans, take another deep breath. It is needed.

Now that a few days have passed to calm down, it’s time to look at what is real, what is an aberration, and what should be expected going forward this season. First off, let’s dive back into the 45-7 drubbing New England gave Cleveland.

A Complete Team Beatdown

Since returning in 1999, the Browns have suffered their fair share of blowout losses. Whether it be the opening 43-0 loss to the Steelers in 1999, the 41-0 Christmas Eve loss to the Steelers in 2005, the 31-0 loss to the Steelers in 2008, the 30-0 loss to the Bengals in 2014, the 38-7 loss to the Steelers last ye…yeah, you probably get it. Anyway, the expansion-Browns have lost big many times. The loss to the Patriots last Sunday has a case for being not just one of, but the worst since the franchise’s rebirth. Cleveland’s DVOA was -114 percent, one of the worst single-game performances by any team this season. They were out-coached, out-played, and out-classed.

Lack of Defense

If the pitchforks weren’t out in Cleveland for Joe Woods job, they are now. The Browns defense was thoroughly manhandled in every aspect. The Patriots offense largely neutralized the Browns front seven. Myles Garrett played well. It just didn’t matter. Every pass play, Garrett was chipped or double-teamed while Jones got the ball out quickly. When the Patriots ran, they simply ran to whatever side #95 wasn’t on. The rest of the defensive line was almost a non-factor. The Patriots offensive line mauled Cleveland opening massive lanes for their backs to run through. Three starters on the offensive line had PFF run-blocking grades over 80. Rhamondre Stevenson finished runs carrying Browns defenders. Tackling was atrocious across the board.

As for coverage, there was no coverage. Patriot receivers were schemed open and ran free. Woods D had no answers and made no adjustments. Greg Newsome looked like a rookie, Denzel Ward was far from his elite self, John Johnson fell back to earth after a good two-game stretch, Ronnie Harrison was his typical liability-in-coverage self, and Troy Hill is likely still on the turf after a piss-poor tackling attempt on the Jacoby Meyers Touchdown. Myles put it best in his post-game comments: “We never had a chance just because we didn’t make any adjustments on the sideline or when we had time to.” Yikes.

Offensive Offense

Ask anyone on the Cleveland coaching staff and they will all tell you the same thing: the Browns want to run the ball and play-action pass off of it. You wouldn’t guess that if you watched this team for the first time this weekend. Baker Mayfield dropped back 23 times. Only two of those dropbacks were off play-action and both were on the first drive. Nearly every quarterback benefits from play-action and few benefit as much as Mayfield does. Mayfield has a 75 passing grade off play-action and a 67 grade on straight dropbacks this season. Obviously, teams will play-action pass less in obvious passing situations, but that does not excuse an outright abandonment of it. Expect a drastic change next week vs Detroit.

The Browns offensive identity is based around their offensive line. Outside of the first drive, the Patriots defensive line dominated. Wyatt Teller looked like a replacement guard and Jedrick Wills looked dreadful, again. Blake Hance is not a starter in this league and played like it. Jack Conklin cannot return soon enough. On a positive note, Joel Bitonio was the only Browns offensive player who graded higher than a 73 (80.0). The Browns cannot be a dominant run team if they cannot block.

Speaking of the run game, D’ernest Johnson ran efficiently. As the blocking wilted with each quarter and holes closed up, Johnson finished runs well and showed patience. There just wasn’t anything to be had in yardage production.


This game was one of the worst, if not the worst, games of Mayfield’s career. A sizeable portion of the blame lies squarely at Baker’s feet. Mayfield consistently missed receivers and made poor decisions. Browns receivers did him few favors. The preseason glean of Donovan Peoples-Jones has completely worn off. DPJ struggles to get any separation from corners. His biggest plays are coverage busts (ex. at Titans 2020, last week at Bengals). That isn’t sustainable. The clock is quickly running out on his chances to be a starting receiver. David Njoku dropped a sure touchdown that nearly cost the Browns their only points of the day.

The Turning Point

Mayfield’s interception early in the second quarter was a dreadful decision. Mayfield cannot throw that ball. However, the decision isn’t entirely Mayfield’s fault. Stefanski called a flood passing concept. This concept attacks cover-3. Njoku is the slot receiver running a deep out while Peoples-Jones is out wide running a go route.

The idea is that the outside receiver clears out the corner dropping to the deep zone, allowing for the slot receiver, the primary read, to find a hole in the zone 7-10 yards downfield near the sideline. Jalen Mills jams DPJ off the line, causing him to be too shallow when the ball is supposed to come out. Njoku runs a terrible route, rounding his break and allowing Kyle Duggar to jump the route. Njoku is taken out of the play by Mills, the corner who was supposed to have been cleared from the zone by DPJ. Duggar easily intercepts the pass and returns it from a touchdown.

The Browns passing offense lives off timing. On that play, the Patriots defense throws off the timing immediately. Mayfield has to know better than to throw that ball while Njoku and Peoples-Jones need to run better routes. That play was the epitome of the Browns entire game.

The Sky Isn’t Falling

Browns fans may need the Aaron Rodgers treatment after this game.


in 2020, everything bounced right for Cleveland. They won close games and stayed mostly healthy, overachieving relative to their 11-5 record. The variance that went their way last season isn’t this season. This is to be expected, to a degree. They have dropped a few close games this year and are suffering from injuries, especially on the offensive line. Because of this, their offense has been less efficient in the run game. All signs pointed towards this being a 9-10 win (of 17 games) this season. at 5-5, they remain on pace for that. The Patriots loss can be chalked up to a combination of a bad matchup and poor play.

While the Browns maintain the status quo, pencil them in for a couple of blowouts per year. Last year was Pittsburgh and Baltimore. This year is Arizona and New England. The blueprint is the same. Build a quick lead, put Cleveland in a pass-first situation, and wait for Mayfield and Co to struggle. They cannot play from behind. This doesn’t mean this team cannot win. building a quick lead on them is not easy. Every team has a weakness. The Browns are no exception.

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Buccaneers Won… On Bye Week

“Tommy and Gronky” in their usual spots.

How the Bucs’ Season Outlook Improved Without Playing a Down

While Tommy and Gronky spent a rare off-Sunday kiddie-poolside, the rest of the league was busy doing them a few favors. No, the Buccaneers did not play a down this weekend, but the Bucs won the bye week. The Buccaneers’ seeding improved, and they got healthier. While other teams were fighting the war of attrition that is the NFL’s weekly punishment, Tampa Bay was finally getting some key pieces back on the field.

Reinforcements Have Arrived

Sean Murphy-Bunting has been sorely missed since suffering a dislocated elbow in Week 1. Tampa’s much-maligned secondary gains another returning reserve player in Dee Delaney.

The offense will welcome its primary speed threat, Scotty Miller, back into the fold. The Bucs are not short on receiving threats, but Miller makes defenses respect the deep ball. His speed opens up space underneath for other receivers while also pairing nicely with Mike Evans going deep on the opposite side. In either case, Miller’s mere presence puts stress on opposing safeties.

How the Bucs Won the Bye Week Without Winning

Week 9 is what we poetically refer to as “any given Sunday.” Underdogs league-wide proved that the lines between good and bad football teams are still very thin. Parity is what drives the NFL, and this weekend it was on full display. The Bucs won the bye week because almost every projected NFC playoff team lost.

The Atlanta Falcons almost Atlanta Falcons’d themselves to a loss yesterday. Thanks to a last-minute field goal drive, the Bucs staved off the Saints’ attempt at taking the first place spot in the NFC South. The Panthers remain in the picture, but Sam Darnold’s less-than-inspiring 3 INT performance last week has the entire franchise wondering if trading for Darnold was the right move.

Most of the NFC’s top threats looked beatable at best on Sunday. Dallas and Los Angeles are both looking in the mirror this morning and asking if this past week was who they really are. The Rodgers-less Packers notched a victory against the Chiefs, but these certainly aren’t the 2019 Chiefs.

The Cardinals did manage to defeat the 49ers without their two most important players on offense. Arizona has a clear path to home-field advantage, but after a jarring loss last week, and injuries piling up, they are far from invincible.

Odell Beckham Jr. Addition Pushes Patriots Deep Into Playoff Discussion

When the story of Odell Beckham Jr. first surfaced nearing the trade deadline, the name Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots immediately began to surface in connection. The immediate reaction was: “Please, not again. We’re tired of this rumor”. As this would not mark the first time a potential link between the Patriots and OBJ has been brought up. Yet, this time around, Beckham is subject to waivers, not a mere trade target to appease Tom Brady. 

The situation presents itself a little differently. New England will likely be looking for that one last playmaker to differentiate their 4-4 offense. Making the possibility of this deal actually happening seem a little bit more real. Leading one to imagine, what the offense would look like, how Beckham could function in the offense, what he could add to it, and whether his addition, at likely a restructured salary, would be worth it. 

The waiver wire process, Patriots’ chances

Of course, Beckham is going through the waiver wire, where the Patriots stand middle of the pack at 15th. There are a few teams in front of New England, posing as threats to snatch him off the wire. Most would likely have more money to do so. As the Patriots sit with their estimated $2.5 million in cap space. However, something to anticipate is the mere fact that some of the under .500 teams would have to consider between surrendering draft pick value for a season that seemingly cannot be salvaged, and the value of bringing in Beckham, who could potentially become disgruntled in a losing environment. That is especially if the quarterback situation is less than optimal. Leaving many contenders, looking for that last push over the hump, the most likely candidates for his service. 

Many of whom also have limited cap space to absorb Beckham’s large remaining salary of $7.5 million for the nine remaining weeks of the regular season. In fact, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there are only nine teams that can afford to claim Beckham without maneuvering any other money around. Many of those teams have reasonable questions regarding their competitiveness around the league, and or their quarterback situation. Leaving many to question if Beckham will get claimed off waivers at all. 

A lot still has to play out, yes. However, one thing to count on, if Beckham does in fact hit the open market, New England will be interested in some form. Beckham will share at least somewhat similar interest. The rest of the story is yet to unfold. 

With much speculation and possibility in the air, let’s try to address how he can fit in this offense. What does Beckham bring to the table, and how does he open things up for this offense?

How does Beckham fit? 

Adding Beckham gives you at the very least a fourth truly competent receiver to work with. With Jakobi Meyers in the slot, Nelson Agholor at the Z spot, the Patriots fit Beckham in at the X. That’s a receiver trio that Mac Jones should be comfortable with, and most other quarterbacks would agree. Especially with Kendrick Bourne also in the mix. Then, N’Keal Harry seeing some usage, the two tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, and the rushing threat of Damien Harris. That offense would have a lot of options at their disposal. They would be able to operate from a variety of different looks, and incorporate loads of pre-snap motion in order to create a multiplicity of mismatches on the field. On a consistent basis, they would have the personnel to beat the blitz, tight man coverage, and find empty holes in zone coverage, getting playmakers into space with the football.

Ability to draw favorable matchups from a variety of looks

Beckham would be that true number one receiver that New England is missing, and be the true X receiver they have been searching for. With top three receivers solidified and two top tier tight ends, the passing game could work out of almost any formation. 

That includes spreading out the field, and Jones reading out of a three receiver, two tight end set. With defenses focusing on not getting beat deep by Agholor and trying to account for Beckham and his playmaking ability, the defense would still have to account for both Henry and Smith in the passing game, along with either Meyers or Bourne (whoever is in the game) on the shallow route. Leaving those four to get favorable matchups in the passing game, and likely strengthen Jones’ quick passing game ability and options even further. 

Likely improvement on third-down conversions

Not to mention, the third-down conversion rate for this team (currently at 42.86%, good for sixth according to TeamRankings) would go up even further. Allowing them to compete for one of the top chain-moving offenses in football, which would be another way in which they could start to solidify themselves as a playoff threat. 

How the run game factors in; defensive stressors

Ideally, with solid offensive line play and Jones continuing to complete passes, avoid the mistakes, that offense plus Beckham makes them a serious AFC threat. Adding in the threat of the run game behind the offensive line still potentially awaiting the return of Trent Brown. Also factoring in the defense that has impressed throughout the season. A unit currently ranking twelfth in the league. Additionally, just won the game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Doing so by holding Justin Hebert to arguably his worst performance of the season. 

With the strong rushing attack, and the depth at the skill positions, play action would present problems for opposing defenses. Harris has been routinely rushing for 100 yards a game. So to have Harris or Stevenson as a rushing threat or a receiving threat, along with the two tight ends helping sell run until it’s a pass, would be enough stress on a defense. But also Beckham underneath, Agholor up top. Man, that puts a lot of different stressors on a defense and secondary. Especially when the offensive line can protect the pass. 

An underutilized wrinkle to call more: possibility of RPOs

Along those lines, the offense has not been afraid to dabble in the RPO from time to time this season. Offensive playcaller, Josh McDaniels, could also put defenders in a bind. With Alabama boys Jones and Harris, both familiar with similar RPO looks, have another weapon at their disposal. Beckham, who can be a threat on the slant route and with the ball in his hands. That RPO trio off different looks, including two-tight end sets, could be deadly. 

Beckham would get his targets, of course. He would likely be a big splash play guy. Play the role as someone who they would get the ball to in space. He’d be someone who could haul in given contested catch scenarios. Along with run those RPOs with on occasion. It would truly depend on how quickly he could get a feel for the offense and the environment. 

Dominating field position, moving the chains, & hitting the checkdowns

Regardless of Beckham’s individual statistical contributions, one thing is for sure. His addition to the offense would help in two of the three keys to winning football games (field position, turnovers, and penalties). This team with Beckham would be able to dominate field position on all three units. They’d be able to convert third downs at a high rate. By adding enough talent for defenses to need to respect, defenses get in a matchup bind. Therefore, allowing Jones to likely have his checkdown options and third-down chainmovers (Meyers, Henry, Bourne, potentially Smith) open even more. While for the times in which defenses don’t respect Beckham’s game-changing talent, you then have a big playmaker option in this offense. An offense that has struggled to produce plays of 20 yards or more in the first half of the season. 

What might Belichick think of all this?

That offense would have much at their disposal to push them into a Wild Card spot. It would be Wild Card at the very least, assuming this then high-powered team could go on a run to end the season. Given the team is currently the first spot out of the Wild Card, you better bet that Belichick is salivating at the idea of Beckham. The idea of being able to run his offense out of so many different looks and formations would be arousing to almost any head coach. The move would likely stamp his ticket to the team’s first playoff appearance of the Mac Jones/post-Brady era. A milestone that the he’s likely at least somewhat itching to get past. Buckle up folks, things could get interesting. 

As when Belichick was asked about mid-season acquisitions today, he responded with this:

And to top things all off for Belichick, this could sweeten the deal even more, given Beckham clears waivers:

Again, we’ve been looking at photos of Beckham cropped into a New England jersey for years. However, this time around, buckle up folks. It might just be that time a camera truly captures Beckham wearing the blue, red, and grey. Don’t buy the jerseys yet and monitor the weekend rumors distantly from the couch. Just keep in mind, if no team were to claim him Monday night, the Patriots will almost definitely swoop in hawkishly toward this missing puzzle piece to their offense. Making another aggressive push, just like the spending-spree bonanza they had this off-season.

Soared and Floored: NFL Week 8 Fantasy Recap

Welcome to PFP’s weekly studs and duds fantasy recap for the 2021 football season! Here we take a look at some of the standout performances, both and good and bad, from Thursday’s and Sunday’s contests. These are more instant reactions rather than in-depth analyses, with things to keep in mind as the season progresses. Let’s see who took to the skies and who bottomed out in Week 8! No article for Week 7, but you can check out Week 6 here.

Players Who Soared

Credit: Big Blue View


Mike White: 37/45, 405 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 2 INTs, 5 rushes, -1 rushing yards

We lead off this week’s article with the most unlikely top QB of the year: Mike White. The third-year veteran out of Western Kentucky got the start for the injured Zach Wilson. The first couple of drives went about how you’d expect for a backup to a bad team: A decent first drive ending in a score, followed by two awful interceptions. From there, though, White caught fire, able to command the rag-tag group of offensive players. He kept the Jets in contention as the Bengals struggled to separate against an inferior team. White looked good enough to start raising questions about if Wilson will even get his job back once healthy. A short week into a Thursday night contest against the Colts will shed some light on this enigma of a standout performance.

Justin Fields: 19/27, 175 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 1 INT, 10 rushes, 103 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

We finally got to see Fields’s potential shine through, and all it took was Matt Nagy to cede head coaching duties thanks to COVID. Just as expected, it was the rushing stats that are cheat codes for quarterback fantasy production doing the heavy lifting here. Fields still looked shaky as a passer but showed some flashes on limited attempts. It’s the top-5 rushing stat-line that showed what he can do as an athlete. Hopefully, when Nagy returns they’ll be able to start working this aspect of Fields’s game in more often. Heading on the road to Pittsburgh next week will be a true test for the young star.

Others of Note
  • Josh Allen: 29/42, 249 passing yards, 2 pass TDs, 8 rushes, 55 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
  • Jimmy Garoppolo: 17/28, 322 passing yards, 5 rushes, 4 rushing yards, 2 rush TDs
  • Tom Brady: 28/40, 375 passing yards, 4 pass TDs, 2 INTs, 1 rush , 2 rushing yards

Running backs

Credit: USA Today
Michael Carter: 15 rushes, 77 rushing yards, 1 rush TD. 9 receptions, 95 receiving yards

Along with his new starting QB, Carter exploded onto the scene against the Bengals Sunday afternoon. He not only led the team in rushing attempts and yards but also lead the team in targets (14 total). Unlike White, Carter’s rise was a bit more telegraphed. His snap counts have been steadily increasing, lead by his utilization in the passing game. He now has 23 total targets in the last two games, which is a recipe for sustained fantasy success on a team that will consistently find itself in negative game scripts. Carter will find himself as a weekly flex play if he can maintain this level of usage, especially in PPR formats.

Joe Mixon: 14 rushes, 33 rushing yards, 1 rush TD. 4 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

On the opposite side of the contest, it was a weird day for Mixon. The Jets defense which typically gives up all kinds of yardage to running backs gave Mixon a significantly tougher time than expected, only averaging just north of 2 yards per rush. The receiving work and multi-touchdown performance helped save his day in a big way. The good news is that nothing about this stat line is indicative of troubles to come. Mixon is still the clear leader in the backfield with Samaje Perine (2 for 16 receiving) barely getting any work behind him. He is one f the true workhorse backs in the league and will continue to have opportunities for big games fall in his lap.

Others of Note
  • Darrell Henderson: 14 rushes, 90 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 1 reception, 3 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Aaron Jones: 15 rushes, 59 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 7 receptions, 51 receiving yards
  • Elijah Mitchell: 18 rushes, 137 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

Wide Receivers

Credit: USA Today
A.J. Brown: 10 receptions, 155 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Brown is finally starting to hit his stride after a slow start to the season marred by a nagging injury. Julio Jones being inactive due to his ailments certainly helped his case as well. Brown has commanded 29 targets over the last three games, averaging 126 yards and compiling two scores over that timeframe. While this meteoric stretch is more of a regression to the mean rather than the new norm, it’s a great indicator that Brown is finally healthy and ready to contribute. You should not be scared to start him anymore, even in tough matchups against the Rams and Saints over the next two weeks.

Chris Godwin: 8 receptions, 140 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Godwin won the Brady roulette this week, as Mike Evans (2 for 48 with 1 TD receiving) was busy dealing with his long-time nemesis Marshon Lattimore all day. Godwin became the focal point of the passing game, continuing the positive momentum he had from last week as well. As Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski continue to battle injuries, Godwin should continue to see this increased target share in one of the best offenses in the league. However, those guys have a great chance to get healthy going into their bye week, so it remains to be seen how much Godwin will continue to be involved moving forward. The pedigree of the offense and his relatively safe 5 target floor will keep Godwin in the WR2/flex conversation every week.

Others of Note
  • Michael Pittman: 10 receptions, 86 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
  • Cooper Kupp: 7 receptions, 115 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Amari Cooper: 8 receptions, 122 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Tight Ends

Credit: The Fantasy Footballers
T.J. Hockenson: 10 receptions, 89 receiving yards

The season has not been as kind to Hockenson as his fantasy owners were hoping. While the third-year big man has been seeing a crazy amount of looks (at least 8 targets in six of eight weeks), the touchdowns and quality yardage just haven’t been there. What you can rely on is the targets: Jared Goff (25/34 for 222 passing) has been hyper-focused on Hockenson and the running backs in the passing game all season. That kind of consistency is extremely hard to come by at the tight end position this year. Look for Hockenson to retain his safe floor through the Week 9 bye.

Pat Freiermuth: 4 receptions, 44 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

With Eric Ebron missing the game due to a hamstring injury, Freiermuth took full advantage of his increased role in the offense. He saw the second-most targets on the team (7) and continues to earn red-zone looks from Ben Roethlisberger. Right now he sits solidly in the TD or bust category of tight ends, but these flashes are very encouraging for his owners. Rookie tight ends especially take some time to reach their full potential, and the future is looking bright for Freiermuth so far.

Others of Note

Players That Got Floored


Credit: Yardbarker
Matt Ryan: 20/27, 146 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 2 INTs, 2 rushes, 3 rushing yards

Heading into Week 8, Ryan enjoyed some consistent production against bad teams over the last few weeks. With the Panthers coming to town, and Calvin Ridley missing this game and potentially the rest of the season due to personal reasons, he crashed back to Earth hard. Carolina shut Kyle Pitts (2 for 13 receiving) out of the game as much as possible and Ryan was unable to compensate. It’s time to abandon ship on Ryan for now with the team headed to New Orleans next week as the offense goes back to sputtering.

Kyler Murray: 22/33, 274 passing yards, 2 INTs, 6 rushes, 21 rushing yards

The scoring streak, unfortunately, ends for one of the most consistent quarterbacks in terms of fantasy on the year. This was a rough game all around for Murray. The abuse he was taking over the last couple of games has finally caught up to him, culminating in a bum ankle at the end of this contest. His favorite target DeAndre Hopkins (2 for 66 receiving) is also dealing with a reoccurring hamstring injury. One final egregious plunder by A.J. Green (5 for 50 receiving) that led to Murray’s second interception capped an incredibly disappointing game for the young star QB. Murray has 10 days to get healthy and bounce back against San Francisco next week.

Others of Note

Running backs

Credit: numberFire
David Johnson: 2 rushes, 4 rushing yards, 1 reception, -1 receiving yards

The departure of Mark Ingram from the Texans running back room has appeared to have caused an even worse situation for the team. No one out of Johnson, Phillip Lindsay (3 for 8 rushing), Scottie Phillips (5 for 11 rushing, 2 for 9 receiving), or Rex Burkhead (4 for 21 with 1 TD rushing, 3 for 27 receiving) managed to stand out during the game against the Rams. Burkhead may have come away with the score, but the Texans will continue to use this four-headed amalgamation of a running game. If Ingram leaving gave you even a glimmer of hope that you could utilize anyone in this running game, this should convince you to leave it alone for the rest of the year.

Alex Collins: 10 rushes, 44 rushing yards

This was another instance of too many mouths being fed, as Seattle appeared to be distributing the snaps across their whole running back room to keep Collins healthy. He had some injury question marks coming into this game, opening the door for Rashaad Penny (7 for 7 rushing), DeeJay Dallas (1 for 6 rushing), and Travis Homer (4 for 9 rushing, 1 for 3 receiving) to give it a shot. The good news is Collins is still the clear best runner of the group. Also, Seattle heads into their bye next week, allowing Collins to get fully healthy and take back command as Chris Carson continues to heal.

Others of Note
  • Nyheim Hines: 1 rush, 2 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 22 receiving yards
  • D’Andre Swift: 12 rushes, 27 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 24 receiving yards, 1 fumble lost
  • Javonte Williams: 9 rushes, 35 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards

Wide Receivers

Credit: Doc’s Sports
Mike Williams: 2 receptions, 19 receiving yards

This was a disappointing day for the Chargers offense as a whole. Williams fell victim to Bill Belichick‘s old ways, getting schemed out of the game almost entirely. He’s now had two weeks in a row where he’s most likely killed your chances of winning. I would not expect this to continue, with matchups against Philadelphia and Minnesota in the coming weeks. Fantasy owners just need to take their lumps for now and hope Williams can get back to his scoring ways soon.

Courtland Sutton: 2 receptions, 40 receiving yards

Sutton’s dud of a game this week was a combination of Teddy Bridgewater’s (19/26 for 213 and 1 TD passing) low-volume passing attack and Jerry Jeudy (4 for 39 receiving) returning to the lineup. The dominance Sutton enjoyed over the last few weeks is now over, and he’ll once again be left to fight over scraps in a less-than-stellar offense. There is still an opportunity to shine here: Dallas and Philadelphia on the schedule next bring the possibility of having to play catch-up for most of the game. As long as Jeudy can stay healthy, Sutton is nothing more than a boom-or-bust WR2 even in those positive matchups.

Others of Note

Tight Ends

Credit: Best Odds
Anthony Firkser: 1 reception, 8 receiving yards

Firkser was a popular sleeper candidate going into the season and he is still trying to fight his way towards meaningful usage. He hasn’t seen more than 5 targets in a game this year and only has 4 total over the last three weeks. Geoff Swaim (4 for 23 with 1 TD receiving) got the only valuable points at the position thanks to the touchdown this week. Firkser is essentially irrelevant for fantasy unless the Titans suddenly change up their offensive gameplan over the second half of the season.

Ricky Seals-Jones: 2 receptions, 12 receiving yards

This is Seals-Jones’s first true dud game since taking over the primary tight end role from Logan Thomas. Denver’s underperforming defense was able to corral the Washington offense enough such that they were unable to do much overall against them during this game. His snap counts are still best in the league and that level of availability has been a serious boon for his owners. However, his time in the sun may be coming to an end as Thomas has made enough progress to have a chance to play after the Week 9 bye.

Others of Note

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