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Rookies of the Week – Week 3

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50-point demolitions, supposed tanking teams pulling off shock wins, and a media frenzy in Kansas. Has the NFL ever been more eclectic than it is at the moment?

Anyway, let’s shake it off and take a look at the standout rookies from Week 3.

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De’Von Achane, Running Back – Miami Dolphins

Achane was outstanding in the Miami Dolphins’ 70-20 victory over the Denver Broncos, rightfully earning himself the AFC Offensive Player of the Week title.

Finishing with four touchdowns and 233 all-purpose yards, Achane became only the second player in NFL history to have two rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns, and at least 200 rushing yards in a game.

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Brian Branch, Cornerback – Detroit Lions

Branch, who was unlucky not to get in my Week 1 article, was outstanding in the 20-6 win against the Falcons. Not only did he hold his own against Kyle Pitts and Drake London in coverage, but he also helped his team stifle fellow rookie sensation Bijan Robinson, limiting him to 60 total yards.

Finishing the game with two quarterback hurries, 11 solo tackles, three for a loss, and two pass breakups, Branch only seems to be getting better.

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Jalen Carter, Defensive Line – Philadelphia Eagles

Carter continued his dominant streak for the third consecutive week, wreaking havoc on Tampa Bay’s offensive line. With half a sack, a QB hit, four pressures, and a first-career forced fumble, he’s proving to be a game wrecker. His 20.5% pressure rate so far this season is not just good; it’s All-Pro level good.

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Christian Gonzalez, Cornerback – New England Patriots

Could Gonzalez be having a Sauce Gardener-type year? It may be early in the season, but if his start is anything to go by, then he is well on pace. In Sunday’s 15-10 win over the Jets, Gonzalez was lined up against Garrett Wilson on 23 of his 41 snaps and held him to only three catches for 18 yards.

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Sam LaPorta, Tight End – Detroit Lions

LaPorta continues his hot streak on this list thanks to an eight-reception, 84-yard showing where he also scored his first touchdown as a pro. He now leads all tight ends in receiving yards with 186 and is second in receptions to T.J. Hockenson.

It’s also a third week in a row for the rookie tight end! To put that into perspective, only two players got on the list three times last year: Garrett Wilson and Dameon Pierce, albeit on a smaller ranking list last year.

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C.J. Stroud, Quarterback – Houston Texans

If Week 2 saw Stroud sneak into my article over Anthony Richardson, then Week 3 was where he cemented his place. The young quarterback had 20 completions on 30 attempts for 280 yards and two touchdowns. His PFF grade of 91.1 when throwing from a clean pocket led all quarterbacks in the league.

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Tuli Tuipulotu, Edge Rusher – Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers haven’t exactly wowed on defence, but that hasn’t deterred Tuipulotu from making his case as an early Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, and his performance against the Vikings will only help his case. With nine pressures and three sacks in the game, he now totals 12 pressures and three sacks in just two starts this season.

Honourable Mentions: JuJu Brents (Colts), Tank Dell (Texans), Jahmyr Gibbs (Lions), Marvin Mims Jr. (Broncos), Michael Wilson (Cardinals)

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Five Things: Week 14 – Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

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If there is a way to forget this game and it’s subsequent 48-22 score, then I am more than happy to try it. It was brutal to watch, and I can’t imagine doing this is going to make me feel any better, but the “good, bad, and ugly” theme continues! Here are five things that stood out:

The Good

If I were being brutally honest, the answer would be that the game is over and the Eagles can’t humiliate us anymore. Yes, it’s a damning statement, but after watching almost all of the defeat (thanks Sky Sports for switching to the Dallas game), there really wasn’t a lot to write home about. However, if you look at the bigger picture, there are at least a couple of good trends we can focus on.

Isaiah Hodgins, who seems to have completely taken on the so-called “Kenny Golladay” role, had another solid game, snagging four of his six targets for 38 yards and a touchdown while also adding a two-point conversion in garbage time.

Kayvon Thibodeaux had a good but not spectacular showing (four pressures); however, his counterpart Azeez Ojulari continued his incredible return from injury as he recorded four tackles (two for a loss), two sacks, and two quarterback hits on 41 defensive snaps. There were also sacks from two of our UDFA class members, as Ryder Anderson recorded his first sack and cornerback Zyon Gilbert, who had a drastically reduced workload this week, was also able to get home.

The Bad

Other than some sparks on the pass rush, the defence was almost nonexistent during the game, and Jalen Hurts was able to go up and down the field using both his legs and arm with relative ease.

Hurts, who barely had to get out of first gear in the passing game, completed 21 of 31 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. His first was a fourth-and-seven conversion, which was easily avoidable had Julian Love decided to force the incompletion; however, he went all in on the interception, missing the ball completely and allowing Devonta Smith an easy walk-in. His second came only five minutes later after a shocking punt from Gillan (more on that later) gave the Eagles great field position, and Hurts took full advantage with a one-play, 33-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown.

If the passing defence was bad, then the rush was worse. Hurts, Myles Sanders, and Boston Scott combined for four touchdowns and 253 yards on 31 carries. All three had a long of over ten yards, and they all averaged above five yards per carry; in fact, the Eagles averaged a disgusting 8.2 yards per carry. Inexcusable

The Ugly

In what seems to be a running theme for the Giants, our special teams unit outside of the stellar Graham Gano stinks. Admittedly, Elerson Smith did block a punt to set up our first touchdown, but that was the lone good moment.

In the Eagles’ return game, the aforementioned Scott, who seems to always have a career day against the Giants, had 117 total return yards, including a 66-yard return late in the second quarter. On the opposite side, the Giants’ return game was nowhere near as impressive, with the Eagles testing Gary Brightwell’s ability with short kickoffs that amounted to minimal gains, if any.

The punting game, though, is the real reason for this ugly entry. Though three of Gillan’s punts landed inside the 20-yard line, he will be remembered for one complete lapse of concentration in which he not only fumbled the ball as he went to drop it to punt but then followed through to kick the ball after it had bounced, drawing a flag and a 10-yard penalty for illegal kicking that paved the way for the A.J. Brown touchdown.

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Ward of Wisdom

With the stench of defeat fresh in the air, the beat writers started doing their rounds in the locker room, and after veteran defensive end Jihad Ward was asked about the Giants’ recent struggles, the air soon turned blue with his expletive-ridden speech, and for their own sake, the rest of the locker room better take notice:

“It’s December football, man. It’s about who the (expletive) wants it more. You know what I’m saying? There’s more to it than just doing your job. There’s more to it than just knowing the playbook. You have to do more. How bad do you want it?

“Ain’t nobody going to sit here and give it to us. How bad do you really, really want it? “Now is the time where the veterans put (the young players) on that and let them know this (expletive) ain’t no game out here. It’s a bunch of grown (expletive) men. We’re not treating these rookies like young bulls. They’re grown (expletive) men.

“I don’t see no rookie no more in my mother (expletive) eyes. You gotta come with it or you’re going to fold. What are you going to do? You want to sit back and wait until next year? I want it now. That’s the kind of mindset I have and one I expect every single person in this organization to have.”

On To Next Week

I think even the most optimistic Giants fans would have predicted anything other than a loss this week, and the way it went will obviously sting, but in the grand scheme of things, not a lot really changed in the playoff picture, except maybe momentum.

Seattle, who had an opportunity to knock the Giants out of the playoff spots, fell to a shock defeat to the Carolina Panthers, and Washington overtook the Giants into the seventh seed thanks to their superior divisional record.

All in all, it comes down to Sunday Night Football this coming week as the Giants travel to FedExField in what is essentially a make-or-break game for the G-Men. Win, and the playoffs are still a possibility. Lose, and it’s almost game over.