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Some NFL fans often call for a player to get benched after he gives up a touchdown, drops a ball or allows a sack. Coaches have to exercise more patience in the heat of competition.
But in some cases, it’s time to move on.
As we head into Week 4, several players should look over their shoulders at the next man up, as his time may come sooner than later. In a 16-game season, teams can’t afford to wait for veterans to absorb a new playbook or inexperienced talents to shake off a slump. A slow start could result in missing the playoffs.
Along with starters, reserves with decent workloads aren’t immune to losing their roles in rotations. On the back end of the roster, late-round rookies and fringe contributors chomp at the bit for an opportunity to showcase themselves.
Here, we’ve highlighted one player each team should consider benching going into Week 4. Most of the players below have either struggled mightily in at least one game, has been outperformed by a backup or another role player at their position deserves more snaps.
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The Arizona Cardinals won’t see the best in quarterback Kyler Murray behind a subpar pass-blocking offensive line. Knowing this, the coaching staff experimented with the starter at right tackle.
According to the Washington Post‘s STATs, Justin Murray has allowed three sacks in as many games. In Week 3, the Cardinals decided to rotate him and Jordan Mills on the perimeter. The latter played the majority snaps and struggled as well.
Despite Mills’ rough outing, he should have a fair shot to claim the position after Murray’s unimpressive stretch in the starting role.
In recent years, Mills struggled in pass protection with the Buffalo Bills, but a change in scenery may help him extend his career. For now, Murray clearly isn’t the answer to plugging a hole on the far right side of the offensive line.
If they both strike out, undrafted rookie Brett Toth or a free agent may have a chance to earn the spot.
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Defensive lineman Jack Crawford opened the last two games with the Atlanta Falcons’ first unit, and his snap count increased after each game. But after recording 19 solo tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks and an interception last year, the eighth-year veteran hasn’t quite moved the needle through three weeks.
He’s registered six tackles (only two of which were solo), zero sacks and zero tackles for loss.
The Falcons might get a stronger push at the point of attack with Adrian Clayborn. In today’s league, teams aren’t shy about throwing early and often for a quick start.
Since Crawford has been listless as a pass-rusher, Atlanta’s coaching staff should consider a shift in the starting lineup to accommodate for pass-heavy or aggressive offenses.
After playing only 76 defensive snaps through three weeks, Clayborn should see a little more time on the field to mix up the looks on the defensive line. In a limited role, he’s registered two solo tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack.
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With cornerback Jimmy Smith sidelined because of a knee injury, second-year corner Anthony Averett slid into a bigger role in the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary.
We can’t fault defensive backs for struggling to cover the Kansas City Chiefs passing attack, but the coaching staff admitted after Week 2 that the 24-year-old is battling some inconsistency.
According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, head coach John Harbaugh said Averett “has a long way to go,” but added that “he’s a pit bull in coverage.”
Against Kansas City, Averett missed an opportunity for a takeaway, per the Baltimore Sun‘s Jonas Shaffer.
Based on Harbaugh’s comments, the Ravens will allow Averett to battle through his rough patches. Smith remains day-to-day without a clear return date. But in the meantime, Baltimore can experiment with its deep cornerback group. Cyrus Jones and Maurice Canady have played a combined 54 defensive snaps.
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It isn’t easy to nitpick an undefeated team, especially when most of the Buffalo Bills’ players have performed well up to this point. However, Dion Dawkins may be an area of concern.
Although Dawkins had a solid outing against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, the coaching staff may want to keep a close eye on him. According to the Washington Post‘s STATs, he has allowed 1.5 sacks and has committed three penalties in three games.
The Bills aren’t likely to bench the 2017 second-rounder while they’re winning games. However, the coaches should consider shifting him to the right side of the line or inside at guard.
Heading into the 2017 draft, NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein believed Dawkins had the tools to play inside as opposed to the perimeter.
“Shows some good initial quickness and a smooth kick-slide out of his stance, but might be better in short areas as a guard rather than in open space as a tackle,” Zierlein wrote.
If Dawkins falters in his technique and gives up multiple pressures in another outing, the Bills may have to experiment with his spot on the offensive line.
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It initially seemed like the Carolina Panthers mishandled Daryl Williams after re-signing him to a one-year deal.
The Panthers prepared rookie second-rounder Greg Little to take over at left tackle, but he didn’t suit up until Week 3 because of lingering concussion symptoms. In the meantime, Williams shifted to the blind side.
In Week 3 against the Cardinals, Little and Williams alternated series at left tackle. Aside from the latter allowing a strip-sack, the plan worked out. The fifth-year veteran also played a handful of reps at right guard to fill in for Trai Turner (ankle).
Turner didn’t practice Wednesday, so Williams may be in play for the right guard spot. Regardless, Little should start at left tackle.
Before Williams and Little shared the blindside spot, the former struggled at his new position, allowing four sacks, per the Washington Post‘s STATs. Arizona Cardinals edge-rusher Chandler Jones added a fifth with his strip-sack.
Instead of attempting to justify a one-year investment in Williams, who lost his spot to Taylor Moton at right tackle, the Panthers would be better off with Little at his natural position moving forward.
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Perhaps Kyle Long’s hip ailment has something to do with his subpar performance against the Washington Redskins on Monday.
On the first drive, he drew an illegal hands to the face penalty. Later in the opening quarter, the seventh-year veteran allowed a sack to Matthew Ioannidis on the interior.
Before Monday’s contest, Long talked about his mistakes, per Chris Emma of 670 The Score.
“There’s a lot of things I can do better, a lot of blocks I’m not making, a lot of guys unaccounted for,” Long said. “I’ll be on guys at the beginning of the play and at the end of the play they’re around the pile. I need to make it my personal goal not to allow my matchup to make the play.”
Since the start of the 2016 campaign, Long has missed 22 games because of various injuries. The latest ailment and his lapses in pass protection could be a sign of what’s to come.
Unless the pocket pressure becomes unbearable, the Bears aren’t likely to bench a team leader who’s played well when healthy. But if Long doesn’t correct his miscues, he may have to take a step back to heal or return to the fundamentals.
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The Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line became an area of concern once rookie first-rounder Jonah Williams suffered a shoulder injury which required surgery.
Williams’ absence meant Cordy Glenn would remain at left tackle, but he’s been in the concussion protocol and has yet to suit up for a regular-season game.
Without their top two options on quarterback Andy Dalton‘s blind side, the Bengals turned to Andre Smith, who’s in his second stint with the team.
Through three weeks, Smith has allowed two sacks and committed four penalties, per the Washington Post‘s STATs. Since the Bengals don’t have any other viable replacement options on the roster, they might have to look to the free-agent pool.
Cincinnati could reach out to left tackle Matt Kalil. The Houston Texans would have started him, but they acquired Laremy Tunsil via a trade with the Miami Dolphins.
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Cleveland Browns ball-hawking safety Damarious Randall has missed the last two games as he recovers from a concussion. Morgan Burnett and Jermaine Whitehead have logged heavy snaps in his absence, while Eric Murray had an expanded role against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3, logging 64 defensive snaps.
Among the three active safeties, Whitehead stands out in a bad way. He’s shown lapses in coverage and his decision-making in the secondary.
The 26-year-old also drew a flag during a crucial moment of the game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
“A costly error came in the fourth quarter when safety Jermaine Whitehead was flagged for unnecessary roughness for his hit on Goff at the end of a scramble,” Farmer wrote. “That put the Rams in position for a field goal that extended their lead to 20-13.”
Last year, the Green Bay Packers waived Whitehead after an ill-advised penalty that resulted in an ejection. In a small scope, he seems prone to the same mistakes in Cleveland. Perhaps a lesser role or time on the sideline would allow him to regroup.
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In the Dallas Cowboys’ Week 3 game against the Miami Dolphins, defensive lineman Christian Covington started before briefly exiting with a calf injury. He still managed to play a season-high 42 defensive snaps.
Through three weeks, the 25-year-old has logged four solo tackles and a quarterback hit. But because of depth and untapped potential in the reserve spots along the defensive line, Dallas could explore better options on the interior and cut back on Covington’s snap volume.
Dallas selected Trysten Hill in the second round of this year’s draft. In Week 3, he took the field for the first time, logging 34 defensive snaps. The Central Florida product hurried the quarterback twice and shot up the middle to nearly break up a handoff between Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen and running back Kalen Ballage.
Tyrone Crawford, who’s been the productive glue guy on the defensive line in running and passing situations, can also handle a higher snap volume (24.12 percent) if he shakes off a hip ailment.
Hill’s impressive debut makes him someone to develop over Covington—a fifth-year veteran on a one-year deal.
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Denver Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James sprained his knee in the season opener, and Elijah Wilkinson took over for him. Since then, the reserve offensive lineman has experienced some issues in pass protection.
The Broncos couldn’t protect quarterback Joe Flacco, who lacks pocket mobility, in a 27-16 loss against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Wilkinson allowed four sacks, per Zach Kruse of Packers Wire.
Denver doesn’t have much depth to promote an in-house replacement at right tackle. General manager John Elway may have to scour the free-agent pool for a veteran to man the spot until James returns to action.
Austin Howard and Joe Barksdale have experience on the right side, and both might be upgrades over Wilkinson. Because of Flacco’s inability to escape pressure, he’s heavily dependent on a solid pass-blocking offensive line.
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In a passing league, coaches cannot leave downhill linebackers in space. Jalen Reeves-Maybin’s snap count has dropped each week, as opposing quarterbacks have attempted to single him out in coverage.
In Week 1, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray connected with running back David Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown against Reeves-Maybin. Arizona and Detroit finished in a tie.
Reeves-Maybin can help against the run. He logged 21 solo tackles during his rookie year. However, it’s difficult to hide him on long third downs and obvious passing situations.
Looking at his rapid decrease in snaps, the Lions don’t seem eager to risk having the 24-year-old lose a matchup against a running back or tight end. Against pass-heavy offenses, Reeves-Maybin is an unplayable defender in the open field.
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Through three weeks, the Packers defense earned praise for sacks and the second-fewest points allowed, but the Philadelphia Eagles further exposed one glaring issue Thursday: the inability to stop the run. In Week 4, Green Bay allowed at least 149 rushing yards in a third consecutive game.
Running backs Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders repeatedly gashed the left side of the Packers front line as shown in the Twitter thread put together by Sharp Football’s Warren Sharp. Kenny Clark couldn’t make a play on multiple occasions, but Tyler Lancaster has been relatively quiet through the first quarter of the season.
Going into Week 4, Lancaster had played 40.19 percent of defensive snaps, the third-most among Packers interior linemen. But he had logged just eight tackles, which included only two solo takedowns.
Defensive tackle Montravius Adams started the first two games but missed the last couple of outings with a shoulder injury. The 6’4″, 304-pound gap-stuffer could help plug some of the holes when he returns. But in the meantime, the Packers may want to swap out Lancaster for another big body.
If Adams can’t return in the near future, the front office should search the free-agent pool for help on the interior. Perhaps it could sign 29-year-old nose tackle Bennie Logan to a short-term deal.
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Johnathan Joseph might have lost a significant step in his coverage over the offseason.
The Los Angeles Chargers went after the 35-year-old in Week 3. The Texans cornerback struggled to defend wide receiver Keenan Allen and track him down after receptions, per Aaron Reiss of The Athletic.
“According to PFF, eight of the 14 targets Allen received came while working against Joseph, who surrendered six catches to Allen for 68 yards,” Reiss wrote. “… Allen had 74 yards after the catch, his most since Week 4 of the 2017 season, and per PFF, 35 of those came against Joseph. He whiffed on two sideline tackles.”
Since the 2011 campaign, Joseph has manned the boundary as a solid defender. Eight years later, he may not have the same quickness and reaction time to handle some of the league’s top wide receivers.
The Texans shouldn’t overreact to a rough day, but Joseph belongs under a microscope heading into Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Second-round pick Lonnie Johnson Jr. could begin to see more action if opposing wideouts continue to win their battles against Joseph.
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It isn’t easy to move on from a future Hall of Famer, but the Indianapolis Colts may have to make the difficult decision to bench Adam Vinatieri, which would likely end his NFL career.
In Week 3, Vinatieri split the uprights on two field-goal attempts and converted on all three extra points. Still, he came into the game having gone only 1-for-3 on field goals and 2-for-5 on extra points.
After Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans, Vinatieri spoke as though he wanted to hang up his cleats, per Stephen Holder of The Athletic.
In a conference call with reporters, head coach Frank Reich didn’t place the club’s kicking issues on Vinatieri, though. He pointed to sloppy snap-and-holds as the reason for the field-goal inaccuracies.
“It was not a good operation,” Reich said. “The snap and hold was not clean, the ball barely got on the ground. It was not clean. So, it is what it is.”
However, the Colts worked out a few kickers last week, per ESPN’s Field Yates. Vinatieri could lose his job with another poor performance.
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Dede Westbrook came into 2019 with heightened expectations after he logged 66 receptions for 717 yards and five touchdowns during his sophomore season. He had a chance to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receiver unit, but the 25-year-old dropped multiple opportunities to separate himself from the group.
On Thursday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, Westbrook experienced a case of butterfingers under the bright lights.
“Should have been a third TD pass tonight for Gardner Minshew, but Dede Westbrook dropped a pass in the end zone. Tough night for Westbrook, who has multiple drops,” Phillip Heilman of The Athletic tweeted.
Through three weeks, Westbrook has converted 20 targets into 11 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Over the past two outings, he’s left plenty of balls on the ground.
The Jaguars don’t have to bench Westbrook for the remainder of the season. They could replace him in the starting lineup or cut down on his offensive snap count (83.05 percent) to divvy up opportunities among the reserves.
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The Chiefs’ coverage issues in the middle of the field date back to last season. The linebackers couldn’t keep up with pass-catchers on shallow routes, so teams exploited that weakness with tight ends and running backs.
While linebacker Damien Wilson has performed well in pass coverage and came up with impact plays in a victory over the Ravens, Anthony Hitchens hasn’t shown much improvement playing in open space. He also isn’t a strong supplement to the run defense, which ranks 27th leaguewide.
In addition, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would prefer to limit Hitchens’ snaps to keep him available for the long haul, per Nate Taylor of The Athletic.
Because of the need to avoid injury and his poor track record in coverage (eight pass breakups in 78 contests), Hitchens should cede snaps to Darron Lee and Ben Niemann. If the two take on bigger roles, Kansas City could be more equipped to defend spread offenses.
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The Chargers defense looks nothing close to the top-10 group that ranked eighth in points allowed and ninth in yards surrendered last year.
Safety Derwin James’ absence (foot surgery) isn’t the full cause of the team’s middling defense. The unit needs to beef up on the front line.
Rookie first-rounder Jerry Tillery and Justin Jones have a combined four solo tackles (one for loss). The former may take some time to come along because of inexperience. The latter is in his second year, but he doesn’t provide enough push up front while playing 66.67 percent of defensive snaps.
After allowing 203 rushing yards to the Colts in the season opener, the Chargers have surrendered fewer than 100 in their last two games. Nonetheless, veteran nose tackle Brandon Mebane would give the interior of the defensive line some direction and maintain a stronger resistance against run-heavy opponents.
Mebane has logged three solo tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss in just over 50 percent of the Chargers’ snaps through three games.
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Eric Weddle isn’t a liability in the Los Angeles Rams secondary, but he isn’t the same ball hawk who logged 10 interceptions with the Baltimore Ravens across the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The 34-year-old adds a veteran presence to a battle-tested group and comes up with stops in the open field.
But Weddle’s understudy, rookie second-rounder Taylor Rapp, can become so much more with a bigger role.
The Washington product filled in for Weddle (concussion) in the season opener and recorded seven tackles, three of which were solo. From there, he’s continued to showcase his talent and capture the coaching staff’s attention.
“In the blink of an eye, Rapp went from a package player to essentially a starter, and while the Rams knew they would need to rely on him, they suddenly needed to lean into Rapp much heavier than originally planned,” Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic wrote.
Rapp has played 62.69 percent of defensive snaps through three contests, but he’s fourth on the team in total tackles (16) with two pass deflections. The Rams don’t need to tie Weddle to the sideline for a majority of games, but no one could blame them for decreasing his snaps in favor of a young talent on the rise.
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The Miami Dolphins experimented with rookie guard Michael Dieter at left tackle, which didn’t work out so well against the Cowboys on Sunday. On the opposite side, J’Marcus Webb also struggled to keep defenders away from the quarterback.
According to Pro Football Focus’ Ryan Smith (via the Palm Beach Post‘s Joe Schad), Dieter and Webb allowed a combined 16 total pressures in Week 3.
Dieter played left tackle for one full season at Wisconsin, so lining him up against veteran pass-rushers isn’t the answer to pass-protection woes. Webb has played nine years in the league, but the 31-year-old is no longer a starting-caliber player.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald doesn’t view Webb as the long-term answer at right tackle.
“Among the tackles, the Dolphins view Ohio State rookie sixth-rounder Isaiah Prince (who has been inactive the first three games) as a project, and he cannot be projected for any significant role down the line,” Jackson wrote. “Nor, obviously, can veteran journeyman J’Marcus Webb.”
Webb lined up for 134 offensive snaps over the last two games, but he’ll likely end up on the sideline soon.
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Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen has started every game for the Minnesota Vikings thus far, lining up for 59.11 percent of defensive snaps. However, his workload hasn’t translated to production.
He’s logged only four tackles (three solo). In Week 2, the 28-year-old finished without a takedown.
The Minnesota Vikings don’t desperately need to bolster their pass rush, but the coaching staff can further strengthen this unit with an active penetrator on the interior. Minnesota could try to tap into the potential of 2018 fourth-rounder Jalyn Holmes, who fits into the 3-technique spot in head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Holmes flashed with an expanded workload at Ohio State, logging four sacks and 12 tackles for loss in his last two collegiate seasons.
With interior tackle Linval Joseph wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage with two early sacks, Holmes can line up alongside him and take advantage of one-on-one opportunities in the trenches. Stephen, a sixth-year veteran, doesn’t have an extensive history of high-end production as a pass-rusher (three career sacks).
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The New England Patriots have a decent pass-catching group, but opposing defenses won’t have to worry about double-teaming anyone in fear of a huge play. Josh Gordon poses a legitimate threat, but he’s eclipsed 100 receiving yards only twice in 14 games with them.
The Pats won’t find a dynamic pass-catcher in the free-agent pool not named Antonio Brown, but they can add depth. Ryan Izzo has recorded the most offensive snaps at tight end, probably because Benjamin Watson is serving a four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension, and Matt LaCosse missed two games with an ankle injury.
Izzo doesn’t provide much in the passing game, so he should fall into a light role if LaCosse can suit up Sunday against the Bills. Last year in Denver, LaCosse flashed some pass-catching ability, hauling in 24 receptions for 250 yards and a touchdown with limited offensive snaps (38.92 percent).
Once Watson returns to action, Izzo will most certainly fade into a backup role. For his career, the former has logged 530 catches for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns.
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After hauling in all seven of his targets for 101 yards, Ted Ginn Jr. has faded within the New Orleans Saints passing attack.
Ginn caught two passes for 15 yards over the last two contests, including none in Week 2. However, the 34-year-old has lined up for at least 60 percent of the Saints’ offensive snaps in each game.
Meanwhile, Tre’Quan Smith has been efficient with his opportunities, securing all five of his targets for 75 yards and a touchdown in primarily a reserve role.
Smith suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and missed the Saints’ win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but if the second-year wideout can suit up, he should take on a heavier workload as the No. 2 option. If he remains sidelined, the front office can explore an outside option like Michael Crabtree, who’s had at least 54 receptions in each of the last five seasons.
Ginn will likely hit the free-agent market next year. Since he isn’t a high-volume contributor, the Saints can attempt to feature Smith more often or bring in a proven veteran to push for targets behind wideout Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara.
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The New York Giants have two safeties capable of playing downhill and racking up tackles, but neither has shown the ability to help rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker over the top.
In Cleveland, Jabrill Peppers put together solid performances moving toward the line of scrimmage. He recorded 79 tackles (five for loss), a sack, five pass deflections and an interception last year, but the third-year pro isn’t equipped to read the quarterback in center field as a deep safety.
At 35 years old, Antoine Bethea seems to lack the quickness to provide help on deeper routes. If he second-guesses or fails to turn his hips in the right direction, the opposing quarterback could be looking at an easy six points on a 40-yard toss to an open receiver.
Since the 23-year-old Peppers isn’t fully developed and the Giants acquired him in the deal involving Odell Beckham Jr., the coaching staff should continue to stick with him. In the meantime, the defense needs a quick-twitch athlete with reliable deep-coverage ability downfield.
In his heyday, Bethea adequately defended aerial attacks and forced takeaways. Although the 14th-year veteran has recorded 24 career interceptions, he hasn’t picked off a pass since 2017.
Bethea shouldn’t be on the field for a team-high 99.53 percent of defensive snaps. He’s more of rotation defender capable of contributing in certain down-and-distance scenarios. The Giants could consider hosting free-agent safeties George Iloka and T.J. McDonald for workouts.
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Center Ryan Kalil’s comeback from retirement hasn’t gone as planned. He’s criticized himself for picking up the offense at a gradual pace, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
“By his own admission, he’s playing slow, probably because he’s learning a new system,” Cimini wrote.
Still, the New York Jets should give Kalil time to adjust to head coach Adam Gase’s system. On the flip side, Brandon Shell may need a couple of weeks to watch from the sideline.
According to Cimini, the fourth-year pro had a rough Week 3 outing against the Patriots: “RT Brandon Shell (3 sacks, team-low 76 percent pass-block win rate).” Shell also had some shaky moments going against the Browns pass-rushers in Week 2, which might have led to a pre-snap penalty.
Shell suffered a significant knee injury last year, so one has to wonder if he’s slow to react on the perimeter after surgery. The Jets can swap rookie third-rounder Chuma Edoga into his spot and compare their performances.
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Rookie first-rounder Johnathan Abram tore his labrum and rotator cuff in Week 1 against the Broncos. As a result, the Oakland Raiders turned to Curtis Riley to soak up snaps in the secondary.
Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Kirk Cousins spotted Riley in coverage and tested him deep, which didn’t end well for the Silver and Black. Over the past two games, the 27-year-old has been a liability 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen isn’t known as a burner, but he left Riley several steps behind on his touchdown grab in Week 3.
As an alternative to Riley, the Raiders can increase Erik Harris’ workload. He fared well last year, logging 36 solo tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions while playing fewer than 43 percent of defensive snaps.
Oakland also worked out free-agent safety T.J. McDonald a few weeks ago, per ESPN’s Field Yates, while fellow free agent George Iloka could be an option, too. The 29-year-old played four seasons under Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in Cincinnati from 2014 through 2017.
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The Philadelphia Eagles released left guard Stefan Wisniewski while cutting down their roster to 53 players, but the front office may want to think about re-signing him.
According to the Washington Post‘s STATs, Isaac Seumalo has allowed two sacks, but he experienced a game to forget in Week 2 against the Falcons.
“Technically, I was doing some things that I don’t normally do. I think I was oversetting a little bit. I think I played a little high,” Seumalo said, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s just things that all training camp and the first week [of the season], I hadn’t done any of that. Then, for some reason, [I had] just one of those games that things kind of pile up.”
Seumalo cleaned up his technique in Week 3 against the Lions but still allowed two quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus (via Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com).
Quarterback Carson Wentz’s injury history may encourage the Eagles to take a closer look at any lapses in pass protection. Although backup signal-caller Josh McCown looked serviceable in a brief series against the Falcons, he’s 40 years old and has never played in the postseason.
If Seumalo struggles again, he may be in danger of losing his starting job.
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With nine solo tackles, a split-sack and a fumble recovery for 22 yards, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Mark Barron seems like he’s off to a solid start to his 2019 campaign. However, he’s constantly being singled out on passing downs.
In addition to his questionable coverage, Barron committed a holding penalty on 3rd-and-11 that led to the San Francisco 49ers’ game-winning touchdown in Week 3.
“I don’t know what it looked like to everyone else, but I know what happened to me,” Barron said after the game while discussing the play. “I just felt like the guy ran into me. I just absorbed him. I didn’t get my hands off him fast enough and that was the call.”
The Steelers matched Barron with George Kittle, one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the league, and the 49ers had the edge in that battle. Pittsburgh may fare better with an extra defensive back in place of the 29-year-old linebacker in coverage assignments.
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The San Francisco 49ers have depth at wide receiver, but they need to allot more snaps to a high-potential playmaker at the position.
In each of their three games, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has targeted Marquise Goodwin no more than three times. The speedy wideout can stretch a defense for a few plays, but he’s been on the field for 63.43 percent of offensive snaps.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan should lighten Goodwin’s snap count to match his workload and elevate Dante Pettis, who hauled in the game-winning reception against the Steelers.
Pettis has played a mere 32.41 percent of offensive snaps. Following a solid rookie campaign, the 2018 second-rounder deserves more opportunities in the passing game than a spot-playmaker like Goodwin.
Perhaps Shanahan will make a few changes over the bye week and commits to featuring Pettis and rookie second-round wideout Deebo Samuel.
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Throughout his career, Seattle Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi has struggled in two areas: pass protection and penalties. Those missteps have continued to plague him in 2019.
According to the Washington Post‘s STATs, Ifedi has allowed two sacks and has been whistled for three holding penalties and one false start. The fourth-year pro continues to make the same errors, and he’s on track for another disappointing season.
Unless the Seahawks plan to showcase Ifedi for a trade near the deadline, the coaching staff should take a longer look at George Fant to improve the line’s pass protection on the right side. The Western Kentucky product played well as a hybrid offensive tackle-tight end last year.
Ifedi, a 2016 first-round pick, hasn’t shown significant and consistent improvement during his NFL career. In May, the Seahawks declined his fifth-year contract option, which came as no surprise.
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Peyton Barber is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting running back and leads the team in snaps at that position (45.15 percent of offensive plays). He’s the same player as he was last year, as he’s again averaging 3.7 yards per carry with little explosiveness in his runs.
In 13 fewer carries, running back Ronald Jones II has run for more yards than Barber, 164-163, and he’s averaging 5.3 yards per rush attempt. The younger tailback holds an edge in overall production and efficiency.
In two out of three contests, Jones outperformed Barber on the ground. The 2018 second-rounder is thus due for a bigger share of the workload.
After a rough rookie term, the 22-year-old has displayed signs of shaking off his slow start. With more touches, the USC product could push for a breakout year.
Barber doesn’t have a huge workload, but the Buccaneers should swap him out of the starting lineup in favor of a more productive ball-carrier.
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The Tennessee Titans shouldn’t remove Adoree’ Jackson from their secondary, but head coach Mike Vrabel may have an issue at punt returner.
In Week 3, Jackson muffed one, and the Jaguars capitalized on a short field with a touchdown on the next play. His miscue isn’t a one-off error, either.
“The Titans had hoped an offseason might cure the mistakes and lost confidence punt returner Adoree Jackson suffered for a good portion of the 2018 season,” John Glennon of The Athletic wrote. “But the results Thursday proved that hasn’t happened.
When asked about who would serve as the primary punt returner going forward, Vrabel left the door open for both Adam Humphries and Jackson, per Jim Wyatt of the team’s website.
“I think we’re going to focus on improving in that unit—that’s something we have to improve on,” Vrabel said. “There’s been accountability there. … Hump has done it and he’ll continue to do it, and Adoree’ is going to continue to work on it. We feel like he has a skill set that can help us.”
In the last outing, Humphries stood back for some punts but called for fair catches. Although Jackson’s speed and athleticism makes him a great fit for the position, the coaching staff may have to take away those responsibilities and give him time to work on that part of his craft.
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The Bears thumped the Washington Redskins 31-15 on Monday night. Right tackle Morgan Moses allowed constant pressure, which has been a running theme for his 2019 season.
While there’s no shame in losing reps to star defenders, Moses’ overall play looks underwhelming on tape.
“Moses has the lowest grade (54.0) of the five starting offensive linemen, according to Pro Football Focus,” Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic wrote. “Out of 123 snaps, Moses has allowed six hurries, two hits and a sack along with three penalties called on him.”
Moses’ struggles will make it difficult for quarterbacks in the pocket. Starting out 0-3, Washington may eventually start rookie first-rounder Dwayne Haskins, but he’s not a mobile signal-caller.
Head coach Jay Gruden may want to see Moses correct his recurring pass-blocking issues or replace him before trotting out the organization’s premium investment at quarterback.