Five biggest disappointments of NFL Week 6

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 10/19/20

Week 6 saw one winless team get a much-needed victory, while things got even worse for another. It also saw some memorable performances, especially by quarterbacks, though some were for the right reasons, and some very much not. The good news is the drama led to some fun games.

With good games come great disappointments, and here are five from Week 6.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

In the battle of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady was excellent, while Rodgers played one of his worst-ever games. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, the Packers tallied just 57 total yards on their next 41 plays. Rodgers was consistently harassed by Tampa Bay defenders. He threw interceptions on back-to-back drives, the first one being just the third pick-six of his career. The game got so lopsided that Rodgers was taken out of the game in the 4th quarter to get him off his feet. It’s too bad this quarterback matchup didn’t live up to the billing, but Rodgers was just awful. At least he had a fun celebration.

Minnesota Vikings

The Atlanta Falcons have been criticized all season, blown a number of late leads, and fired head coach Dan Quinn after another debacle last week. If the Vikings were going to get a win, this was a perfect opportunity. Instead, it was the Vikings who were left reeling. The Falcons stormed out to a 33-7 lead, Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, and Minnesota looked about as far away from contention as they possibly could. The fact that this came against a winless team makes the performance even more alarming. At this point, it’s worth asking how safe Mike Zimmer’s job is.

N’Keal Harry, Patriots

The Patriots’ sluggish offense continues to underwhelm; they were held to just 288 total yards by the Denver Broncos. Still, thanks to some errors by the Denver offense, the Patriots were in the game at the end. Trailing by 6 on a do-or-die 4th-and-10, quarterback Cam Newton sought out Harry, who had only been targeted once in the game to that point. Analysis shows that Harry ran the wrong route on the final play, and the pass fell incomplete. That’s a bad look for someone who’s supposed to be a major part of the offense but didn’t even make a catch on Sunday.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns

Mayfield probably shouldn’t have played Sunday, though one can understand his desire to. It was a divisional rivalry against the unbeaten Steelers, and the Browns wanted to prove they were for real. Mayfield just wasn’t up to it. He threw two interceptions and tallied just 118 yards before being benched for his own good in the third quarter as he battled a rib injury. Mayfield will have better days, especially once he’s healthy, but his effort to gut it out did the Browns no favors.

Houston Texans’ defense

The firing of Bill O’Brien appears to have finally opened up the Houston Texans’ offense. Now they just need to sort out the other side of the ball. The Titans posted 601 yards in an overtime win, with Houston’s defense having a full-on meltdown late. A Tennessee offense not known for being prolific stomped all over Houston on a game-tying drive that ended with A.J. Brown’s tying touchdown catch with seconds left. In overtime, Derrick Henry was involved in four of the Titans’ six plays on a game-winning touchdown drive. The Texans had no answer. Their offense looked to have won them the game, but the defense just wasn’t good enough.

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Steelers LB Devin Bush to miss remainder of season with torn ACL

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/18/20

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers had themselves a day, moving to 5-0 on the season with a huge 38-7 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. However, they didn’t come out of the week unscathed. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports linebacker Devin Bush will miss the remainder of the 2020 season with a torn ACL. He joins a lengthy list of players who have suffered the same injury this season, including Saquon Barkley and Nick Bosa, among others. 

With 2:32 remaining in the first half, Bush’s coverage on a Browns’ incompletion saw him go down without contact. He rolled over his knee beyond the visitors’ sideline. The 22-year-old was examined in the medical tent before exiting the field under his own power. 

Bush was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft at 10th overall. Through five games this season, he has 26 tackles, one sack and three passes defended. 

Robert Spillane took Bush’s place on Sunday, but Ulysees Gilbert is a more likely replacement for the remainder of the year. 

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Doctors on Dak Prescott’s recovery: ‘So far, so good’

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/18/20

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott underwent surgery to fix a compound fracture in his right leg, and he’s reportedly doing very well. 

According to sources of ESPN’s Adam Schefter, doctors are pleased that Prescott has had no infections from his surgery. 

“So far, so good,” the source told Schefter of Prescott’s recovery.

Doctors were afraid that an infection could set in and they were closely monitoring Prescott’s situation. He underwent surgery on Sunday and was sent home the next day. 

Prescott faces a four-to-six month recovery window, but Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy revealed Thursday that his quarterback will challenge any timeline that has been given to him.

The 27-year-old was off to a blazing start this season, throwing for 1,856 yards and nine touchdowns.

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Watch: Titans’ Derrick Henry outruns Texans defense on 94-yard TD run

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/18/20

Is there anything Derrick Henry can’t do? Last week, the Tennesee Titans running back stiff-armed Josh Norman in a highlight-reel play. This week, he broke free for a long touchdown run. 

The Titans were desperately in need of a big play after taking over on their own six-yard line with the Houston Texans ahead 23-21 in the fourth quarter, and that’s when Henry broke free for a 94-yard touchdown run.

He was clocked at 21.6 mph, and the TD gave the Titans a 29-23 lead. Tennesee eventually won the game 42-36. 

Henry now has 588 yards and six touchdowns rushing on the season. He also has 84 yards receiving. 

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Patriots have losing record in October or later for first time since 2002

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/18/20

The New England Patriots weren’t very prepared for their Week 6 matchup against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Multiple positive COVID-19 tests resulted in New England’s practice facility being shut down for a majority of the week, and the lack of preparation resulted in an 18-12 loss. 

According to WEEI’s Ryan Hannable, this is the first time the Patriots have had a losing record in October or later since Nov. 10, 2002. New England dropped to 2-3 with the loss. 

Bill Belichick’s offense struggled significantly throughout the afternoon. Quarterback Cam Newton returned after testing positive for the coronavirus and completed 17-of-25 passes for 157 yards and no touchdowns against two interceptions. He also rushed for 76 yards and one touchdown.

Besides Newton, running back James White was the only other Patriot to crack 70-plus total yards during Sunday’s game. White reeled in eight receptions for 65 yards and had four carries for eight yards. 

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Colts announce several positive COVID-19 tests

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/16/20

The NFL has been hit pretty hard by the coronavirus over the last two weeks, and the Indianapolis Colts now are feeling the effects of the virus that has swept the league. 

Indianapolis announced Friday that several members of their organization tested positive for COVID-19. They did not reveal a specific number. 

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RB Le’Veon Bell signing with Kansas City Chiefs

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 10/15/20

Veteran running back Le’Veon Bell didn’t remain available for long. 

Two days after the winless New York Jets announced that they were parting ways with the three-time Pro Bowler, Bell told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (h/t Adam Teicher) that he’s signing with the 4-1 Kansas City Chiefs. 

The defending Super Bowl champions fell to the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday for their first loss of the year. Kansas City is averaging 119.4 rushing yards per contest.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter added Bell’s contract is a one-year deal. 

Bell, 28, averaged a career-worst 3.2 yards per carry in 15 games with the Jets last year after he sat out the 2018 season following a contract dispute with the Steelers. He now joins a backfield that features rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire as its top ball-carrier. Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards and a score in a season-opening win over the Houston Texans but hasn’t hit the 100-yard mark or found the end zone since. 

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Teams that could sign Le’Veon Bell in free agency

Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 10/14/20

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that embattled New York Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t have a great relationship with running back Le’Veon Bell. In fact, there were rumors surrounding the Jets this past offseason that they were looking to move on from Bell.

This is now once again the case 19 months after the Jets inked Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract.

The Jets on Tuesday announced the release of the high-priced veteran after yet another spat with Gase.

On Monday, Bell took to Twitter liking posts from fan accounts recommending that the Jets opt to trade the former All-Pro back.

In response, Gase seemed more upset about the public nature of the supposed trade demands than the actual substance behind them.

Gase was upset about Bell’s social media activity while calling Le’Veon Bell out himself in a public manner. That’s about as cute as it gets. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

In reality, this was just a continuation of Gase showing himself in a bad light. This also adds another layer to major rifts between the head coach and his now-former star players in the Jets’ locker room.

Bell, 28, signed one of the richest contracts for a running back in NFL history back in March of 2019. It came after rumors suggesting that Gase was hellbent on another free-agent ball carrier that spring, Tevin Coleman.

The backdrop here is some major struggles from Bell during his brief stint with the Jets. After sitting out the entire 2018 NFL season with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a contract stalemate, Le’Veon Bell has recorded 1,363 total yards and four touchdowns at a clip of 4.1 yards per touch in 17 games with the Jets.

All said, the Jets take a $19.06 million dead cap hit by releasing Bell. He earned north of $18 million playing just 17 games with the team.

With everything mentioned above, there’s still a number of teams that will likely have interest in Bell on the free-agent market. He has past experience and would likely come on the cheap.

Washington Football Team signs Le’Veon Bell

Having released Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson during the offseason, Washington is now in need of some help in the backfield. It is averaging just 81 rushing yards per game on the season. Bell’s receiving ability would also help the team’s struggling passing game.

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NFL Week 5 grades from around the league

Posted 11 hours ago | By Sam Robinson

Unfortunately, Week 5 brought more major injuries. It also included a rare early-October GM firing. Here are some odds and ends, and grades, for every NFL team exiting the NFL’s fifth Sunday — along with a look at the bevy of teams that did not play Sunday.1 of 32

Carolina defense ahead of schedule

Carolina defense ahead of schedule
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A list of the defensive personnel the Panthers lost this year: future Hall of Famer Luke Kuechly, No. 1 cornerback James Bradberry, steady sack man Mario Addison and former Pro Bowl defensive tackles Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy. Carolina entered Sunday with starting cornerback Eli Apple on IR and lost corner Donte Jackson and D-end Brian Burns during the game. Buoyed by journeyman Juston Burris’ end zone INT, the Panthers (3-2) held the Falcons to their lowest point total in this series (16) since 2015. First-year NFL coordinator Phil Snow’s defense, which kept Kyler Murray in check last week, has been one of the NFL’s bigger surprises.

PANTHERS GRADE: B-plus | NEXT: vs. Bears (Sun.)2 of 32

Full-on restart in Atlanta

Full-on restart in Atlanta
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Dimitroff was in his 13th season as Falcons GM. He drafted Matt Ryantraded up for probably the best player in team history in 2011 (Julio Jones) and was there for three Falcons playoff byes. The team has declined since its Super Bowl LI collapse and is 14-23 since 2018, but the early-season GM firing is a bit of a surprise. Dimitroff’s ouster moves the franchise closer to a restart — which separates this from merely Dan Quinn being axed. Ryan is now 35; will he be part of the next era? If the Falcons do not land Trevor Lawrence, will they make a play for a QB? A franchise that has not rebuilt since 2008 appears set to do so.

FALCONS GRADE: D-plus | NEXT: at Vikings (Sun.)

Wentz-Ertz disconnect clouds TE’s Philly future

Wentz-Ertz disconnect clouds TE's Philly future
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Carson Wentz-to-Zach Ertz connection’s issues have forced random wide receivers to the forefront. The Pro Bowl tight end submitted a second straight sub-10-yard performance and has not helped the again-in-wideout-disarray Eagles (1-3-1) during a stretch without Dallas Goedert as well. One of the many Eagles nearing 30 or just north of that notable benchmark, Ertz (30 in November) has amassed just 145 receiving yards in five games. He was seeking George Kittle– or Travis Kelce-level money amid tense negotiations this summer. Wentz’s former go-to guy will struggle to approach that at this point.

EAGLES GRADE: D | NEXT: vs. Ravens (Sun.)

Chase Claypool’s expected breakout arrives early

Chase Claypool's expected breakout arrives early
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers viewers could have predicted a Claypool emergence, but the team’s receiver depth had limited his chances. The second-round pick changed the equation Sunday, dominating the Eagles for seven catches, 110 yards and a Steelers rookie-record four total touchdowns. No team approaches the Steelers in receiver development, and their latest find — Notre Dame’s 6-foot-4, 238-pound monster with a 4.42 40 time — could have a rare ceiling that surpasses most of the team’s previous Day 2 wideouts finds’. Claypool has quickly become Pittsburgh’s most exciting pass catcher; his rapid emergence makes this an elite NFL position group.

STEELERS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: vs. Browns (Sun.)

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Marshon Lattimore makes incredible tackle to win game for Saints

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 10/13/20

Marshon Lattimore sealed the New Orleans Saints’ 30-27 comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers in overtime on Monday night with an incredible tackle.

The Saints, who had been down 20-3, were able to tie the game and send it to overtime. They kicked a field goal on the opening possession of the extra period, and needed a stop to get the win. They were able to get it thanks to Lattimore’s incredible effort.

The Chargers threw a slant pass to Mike Williams on 4th-and-6 from their 44. Williams had an angle for a first down, but Lattimore wrapped him up and tossed him down a yard short of the first-down marker.

What a tackle!

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