Some teams have put some ugly tape out there during this NFL season. Take for instance the Miami Dolphins’ first four games in which they were outscored 166-26, or the Washington Redskins’ embarrassing 33-7 home loss to New England.
We had a new entrant in Week 7, and Mitchell Trubisky’s struggles during the Chicago Bears’ 36-25 home loss to a Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints was one of the first “Things I Noticed” while reviewing last weekend’s games.
The score was far closer than it appeared as the Bears were down 36-10 at one point and rushed only seven times for 17 yards. The inability — or unwillingness — to run the ball contributed to the decision to let the struggling Trubisky throw 54 times. And while his final stats were OK (he completed 34 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns) you really had to see it to understand how bad it was.
I outlined his issues in the finely produced video above, stitched together by my main man Ron Schiltz, and I also outlined a quick fix for Trubisky that could get him going again. I’d urge Bears fans not to give up on their team; although they’re off to a 3-3 start this year, Chicago went 12-4 a year ago. I believe in coach Matt Nagy’s ability to get this offense turned back in the right direction.
Trubisky told reporters Wednesday that he knows Nagy has his back “100 percent,” which tells me that Nagy — who I got to know a little bit during his tenure as a Kansas City assistant — is planning to dole out a big “eff you” to all of Trubisky’s detractors this Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.
If that doesn’t happen, that’s when I’ll believe the Bears are in serious trouble.
Zeke is back and the Eagles are in trouble
Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott missed all of training camp with a contract dispute, and while I wouldn’t necessarily say he looked like it during the first six weeks of the season, there’s no doubt the Zeke we saw Sunday — in the Cowboys’ 37-10 throttling of Philadelphia — was the best he has looked all year.
It’s not just that Zeke tallied 111 yards and a touchdown on six carries, or that he caught six passes for 36 yards. He has posted similar stats all season. It was the way he did it, by making a preponderance of Eagles miss badly. I’m serious:
Elliott forced 10 missed tackles Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus, and his previous game-high this season was a mere three. His 10 avoided tackles was also a career-high, according to the site.
If this is the Elliott the Cowboys get the rest of the way, go ahead and pencil them in as the NFC East champs right now.
This suddenly ‘downhill’ D was the biggest surprise of Week 7
The Kansas City Chiefs’ run defense has been abysmal most of the season. Last week, the Chiefs faced the Denver Broncos’ very respectable rush offense, headlined by the sensational Phillip Lindsay. It was fair to wonder if the Chiefs would hold up at Mile High.
Turns out, they could. Not only did they dominate one of the league’s worst passing offenses – sacking Joe Flacco eight times — they also dominated against the run, as the down linemen regularly defeated blocks and the stack linebackers (finally) started attacking downhill to hold Denver to a mere 71 yards on 22 carries:
You know who else was surprised about it? Flacco. During his postgame address with the media, he used the word “downhill” a few times when describing the Chiefs’ run defense.
“They came downhill, they were playing hard downhill, fast,” Flacco said. “They played those things well and they didn’t give our guys a lot of room to run the ball.”
The Chiefs will need to do the same Sunday against a 6-1 Green Bay team that would love nothing more than to establish the run so they can set up some downfield shots for Aaron Rodgers. The Chiefs’ ability to defend the run, much like it was against the Broncos, will be the key to the game. If they can’t stop Green Bay from running, the Packers might put up 35.
Jalen Ramsey vs. Julio Jones
I’ve relayed my concerns about whether the Los Angeles Rams’ trade for Jalen Ramsey will be enough to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl loss hangover and push them to the top of a super-competitive NFC West. But in a vacuum, the trade was a good one for the Rams, who acquire another star to help them sell tickets for the palatial stadium they’ll be opening next season.
And guess what? Football fans are also winners because the trade means we’ll be able to watch Ramsey, one of the game’s most physical, most tenacious corners, play the type of man-to-man coverage he has always wanted to. Ramsey was limited, somewhat, in Jacksonville due to the Jaguars’ predilection toward zone coverage. In Los Angeles, I expect to see Ramsey be even more demonstrative on the field since he has shown a tendency to get amped up on 1-on-1 challenges.
We saw a bit of this Sunday, when the Rams beat the Falcons 37-10. Ramsey was allowed to trail star receiver Julio Jones, and while Jones finished with six catches for 93 yards — including a 39-yard gain in which Jones beat him straight up — Ramsey was also in coverage on several incompletions and played quite physically:
Ramsey finished with four tackles and a forced fumble for the Rams, who improved to 4-3. He’ll face the 0-7 Bengals in London on Sunday.
Saquon Barkley’s ‘box-out’ blocking
Sometimes when you watch a game, you notice a player doing something so interesting, so unusual, that you can’t help but scoff and go “what?” before rewinding it multiple times. That happened to me this week when I noticed New York Giants star Saquon Barkley (No. 26) use the following technique when blocking:
I like it. It’s a way for a player to do his job while showing the refs he isn’t trying to commit a penalty.
I’ll be on the lookout for more of this technique in the future.
Keith Jackson Call of the Week
This one is great. The Miami Dolphins were praying for a miracle, needing to recover an onside kick to earn their first win of the season, only to have those hopes squashed by Micah Hyde, who recovered the onside kick and ran it in for a touchdown. The call — with one of the last old-school NFL crowds cheering in the background — rose to the moment. It was a great watch on television:
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