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Rookies of the Week – Week 2

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Another week in the books, and boy am I glad I extended this from three rookies to seven! These guys are setting records every week.

Let’s look at my standout seven from Week 2.

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Sam LaPorta, Tight End – Detroit Lions

It’s a position with one of the hardest jumps from college to professional; however, no one told LaPorta as he set an NFL record last weekend. With his five receptions for 63 yards, Sam is now the first tight end in NFL history to have five or more receptions in the first two games of their career.

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Marvin Mims Jr., Wide Receiver – Denver Broncos

Two catches were all it took for Mims Jr. to appear on this list. In the first half of the Broncos game against the Commanders, Mims had two targets, two receptions, 113 yards, and a touchdown. Unfortunately, though, he was unable to add to that as he wasn’t targeted again for the rest of the game.

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Puka Nacua, Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Rams

In Week 2, Nacua continued to make waves as he hauled in 15 catches for 147 yards. He has now set the record for most receptions for a single game by a rookie, as well as the record for most receptions by a rookie through their first two weeks with 25.

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Ivan Pace Jr., Linebacker – Minnesota Vikings

Could the Vikings have found one of the steals of the draft? After an impressive start to his career, Pace was given the starting job this week, and he repaid his coaches with seven tackles and one sack. Amazingly, he also has the highest pass rush grade among all linebackers.

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Bijan Robinson, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

A second week in a row for Bijan on this list, and if he continues to play the way he’s started, he might not leave. Robinson had 124 yards of rushing against the Packers, with the highlight being a 19-yard run early in the second quarter featuring a surplus of missed tackles.

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John Michael Schmitz Jr., Center – New York Giants

After a tough start to the season, Schmitz bounced back immediately with a dominant performance, helping the Giants in their comeback win against the Arizona Cardinals. Schmitz played all 68 snaps in the game, allowing only one sack and posting positive grades in both run blocking and pass blocking.

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C.J. Stroud, Quarterback – Houston Texans

The Texans might be 0-2 to start the season, but that’s no fault of the young rookie. It was an outstanding performance against the Colts, as Stroud threw for 384 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He is currently the fourth-highest quarterback in passing yards with 626, despite being the most sacked quarterback across the first two weeks.

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Rookies of the Week – Week 1

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The return of the NFL season really had everything. Shock results, devastating injuries, struggling superstars, and outstanding rookies.

Let’s look at my standout seven from Week 1.

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Will Anderson Jr, Edge – Houston Texans

Emotions may have gotten the better of Anderson pre-game, but he was zoned in as soon as he stepped on the field to start his NFL career. The versatile rusher, who lined up predominantly on the left side, recorded four tackles, three hurries, two quarterback hits, and a sack against the normally elusive Lamar Jackson.

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Jalen Carter, Defensive Line – Philadelphia Eagles

Now that’s why he was touted as potentially going first overall! A 92.1 overall PFF grade puts Carter as the 2nd overall defensive tackle, and it’s not hard to see why. In a monstrous performance, Carter had eight pressures, one sack, and one assisted tackle. It’s no wonder that Mac Jones will be seeing him in his nightmares.

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Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver – Baltimore Ravens

Does Lamar Jackson have a new favourite weapon? Flowers continued his strong preseason with an outstanding showing against the Texans, and much like the later mentioned Bijan Robinson, he was making defenders miss all over the place. Nine catches on ten targets for 78 yards led the Ravens, while he also had two rushes for nine yards.

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Xavier Gipson, Wide Receiver – New York Jets

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of! No one saw the Jets game winner being an undrafted rookie free agent, but here we are. He forced his way into contention due to his electric preseason on special teams, which caught the eye of head coach Robert Salah. Now, thanks to his 65-yard walk-off punt return touchdown, he can now say he is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

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Puka Nacua, Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Rams

If you were asked to predict the only rookie receiver to go over 100 yards this weekend, I can guarantee no one would have mentioned Puka Nacua. With Cooper Kupp now on IR, the Rams needed someone to step up, and their fifth-rounder did just that. 14 targets, 10 receptions, and 119 yards. Job done.

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Anthony Richardson, Quarterback – Indianapolis Colts

Richardson wasn’t perfect by any means, as he played conservatively and had an ugly interception, but he is now the proud owner of two NFL records. Against the Jaguars, Richardson not only became the youngest player ever with a passing and rushing touchdown in the same game, but he also became the first rookie in history to have at least 200 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown.

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Bijan Robinson, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

A shared snap count with Allgeier didn’t count against Bijan on Sunday, as he finished with 10 rushes for 56 yards while adding six receptions on six targets for 27 yards and a touchdown in the passing game. Add in five forced missed tackles, including that disgraceful stop-start on an attempted tackle from Frankie Luvu, and you’ve got yourself a debut.

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Week 16: Rookie Standouts

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With the usual Christmas slate running over the weekend, there was plenty of action on the table this week. With plenty of gifts being exchanged (Broncos, we’re looking at you), let’s look at the rookie standouts this week:

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Brock Purdy, Quarterback – San Francisco 49ers

Is it time to take Brock Purdy seriously as the 49ers start their march towards the playoffs? Purdy now has three starts under his belt and looks more like a starting quarterback in this league than some of his peers.

In Sunday’s game, Purdy posted career highs across the board, finishing with 234 yards passing on 22 attempts, averaging 10.6 yards per attempt. While he did throw an interception, he also threw for two touchdowns. Amazingly, the 49ers have scored 2.52 points per offensive drive with Purdy under centre, which ranks fourth in the NFL, and if you were to take away the kneel-downs, it would move to 2.76, which is good enough to be the best in the league. If he continues these stellar performances, then the 49ers are going to find themselves with a real quarterback headache next season, only a year after the last one.

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Kenneth Walker III, Running Back – Seattle Seahawks

Despite the Seahawks falling to a disappointing 24-10 defeat against the Chiefs, they can once again look to their rookie running back Kenneth Walker III as a bright spot for the future, even if they do end up missing out on the playoffs.

This past week was Walker’s third game this season where he has rushed over 100 yards, with him finishing this week with 26 carries for 107 yards at a rate of 4.1 yards per carry. The elusive Walker also forced five missed tackles, and he was able to move the chains six times. He’s now sitting at 803 yards for the season, and if he produces similar performances for the last two games, he could join Seahawks Ring of Honor member Curt Warner as the only backs in franchise history to break 1000 yards rushing as a rookie.

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Cobie Durant, Cornerback – Los Angeles Rams

It’s been a stop-start season for Cobie Durant, who shone during his debut in Week 2, but after finally getting some defensive game time in the last few weeks, it seems he’s gained the trust of the Rams coaching staff, and it’s starting to pay off for the rookie.

It was easily the young defensive back’s best game of his short career, as he finished with a pair of interceptions, one of which he returned 85 yards for a touchdown to seal the 51-14 blowout of the Denver Broncos. Both of his interceptions showcased his athleticism and instincts, with the first one being a highlight reel catch as he was able to extend, tip the ball to himself, and secure the catch as he hit the turf. The question that now arises is why the Rams did not give him an opportunity sooner.

Honourable Mentions

Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers), George Pickens (Pittsburgh Steelers), Rachaad White (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Isiah Pacheco (Kansas City Chiefs), Tyler Smith (Dallas Cowboys), and Brian Asamoah (Minnesota Vikings)

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Four Takeaways From A Much-Needed New Orleans Saints Victory Vs. The Rams

Does this victory turn around the Saints Season? Sadly, I don’t think so, but crucially it stopped the bleeding for now. However, one thing is for sure. It was just nice to see some positive plays and the Saints winning a game, especially against the Rams.

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Andy Dalton’s Best Game As A Saint?

This is the game the Saints want to see from Dalton every week; no, he’s not going to complete 84% of his passes every week whilst averaging 10.4 yards per attempt. But playing turnover-free football, getting the ball out quickly, taking what the defense gives you, with the odd big play sprinkled in, is exactly what the Saints want from their QB.

Speaking of getting the ball out quickly, Dalton’s time to throw (TTT) in this game per Next Gen Stats was 2.16 seconds. To put that into perspective, that was the third-quickest TTT any QB has had all season. Ironically four of the top five in that category have been against the Rams. Clearly, there is a blueprint out for the Rams’ defense. It’s also not a surprise Dalton resorted to this plan with the Saints down three of their starting five o-lineman.

Dalton has played mistake-free football in other games since taking over as the Saints starting QB, so what makes this game his best so far? There wasn’t even a sniff of a turnover. In other games, he’s gotten away with a throw that should have been picked off. In this game, there was none of that. Dalton operated with pinpoint accuracy and found his playmakers in key moments. 

He also probably made his best throw as a Saint, on third and nine, with Aaron Donald bearing down on him. He uncorked a beautiful deep ball to Chris Olave, who had flown past all-pro CB Jalen Ramsey resulting in a 53-yard touchdown. This came at a crucial time in the game after momentum could have easily been shifting back to the Rams. A failed trick play by New Orleans on first down resulted in a 17-yard sack. Dalton got all of that yardage back with a nice throw to Juwan Johnson on second down, and then that throw capped it off to give the Saints back the lead.

Does this performance mean Dalton will be the starter for the rest of the year? Normally you’d think yes, but the Saints are still 4-7. I really think it’s still a week-to-week situation for Dalton. Remember, Winston is the only QB under contract after this year, and you have to think the Saints want to see what he looks like in this offense. Now he’s back close to full health. So they can make a concrete decision on his future with the team.

When Taysom Hill Is Successful, So Are The Saints

Hill didn’t light up the stat sheet as he has in previous games this season:

  • 42% of offensive snaps played, 17 snaps at QB ( previous high was 11, in weeks five, six, and eight)
  • One completed pass on three attempts for 14 yards.
  • Nine rushes for 52 yards (5.8 average), zero TDs.
  • One reception for 8 yards on one target.

There’s nothing crazy about these stats; however, it does provide the Saints with consistent production and a way to keep the defense guessing.

With a deeper look at these stats, you can see a pattern emerging. In games where Taysom has taken ten+ snaps at QB, the Saints are 3-1. In games this season where Hill has nine or more rushing attempts, the Saints are 3-0.

Does that mean the Saints just need to give Taysom those snaps and make sure he rushes that many times and they will win? No, unfortunately not, but what it does mean is the Saints need to make sure they continue to find ways to keep Hill involved and make sure they are consistently evolving the plays they used with him to keep this Hill package from becoming stale, predictable, and easy to defend.

Is Kaden Ellis The Best Defensive Player In The League?

Sorry to get your hopes up, but no, he isn’t. Not yet, anyway. However, if Ellis kept up his level of play from the last two weeks for the rest of the season, he would be right up there with the best defensive players in the league.

That’s how good Ellis played yesterday and against the Steelers a week ago. Ellis was everywhere again yesterday. He excelled rusher the passer with 1.5 sacks and four total QB pressures. He led the Saints defense in tackles with 11. Is that it? No, he was also a beast in run defense, with six defensive stops, which was the most in the game for either side.

This is all very impressive. However, the area of Ellis’ game that might be the biggest surprise and strength? His skills in coverage. Ellis was targeted three times, giving up two receptions for 22 yards, both to Tyler Higbee is one of the better receiving TEs around. On his other target, Ellis nearly made an incredible play for an interception but couldn’t quite make the catch.

The play that was most impressive, though, didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Ellis was playing what looked like zone coverage in the middle of the field. He noticed a crossing route behind him, helped cover it, and took the route out of the play. This is particularly important as this is a route the Saints have traditionally struggled with. Ellis also did the same against a similar-looking play against the Steelers.

The Saints Throwback Uniforms Might Be Their Best Look 

Did you click on this article for pure football takes? Sorry to disappoint, but there is a clear takeaway from yesterday’s game, the Saints throwback uniforms and helmets are beautiful and should be in rotation every year. 

Quick Hits

  • Olave was great again today and is the best rookie WR from this year’s draft.
  • Juwan Johnson is really emerging at TE, especially in the Redzone ( five TDs in his last five games)
  • Landry also had his best game as a Saints since week 1
  • Carl Granderson really stepped up with all the injuries on D-line, 1.5 sacks, and multiple plays in the run game.
  • Paulson Adedo had his best game of the season, and rookie Alontae Taylor looked good again.
  • Punter Blake Gillikin has strung together to great games after a rough start to the season.
  • Chris Harris had a rough game not just because of the Tutu Atwell deep bomb ( i think that was as much the safeties fault as Harris) he got picked on all day.
  • The tackling on defense was still a problem but improved over recent weeks.
  • Only two penalties for the Saints

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Analysing Three Key New Orleans Saints Matchups Vs. The Equally Depleted LA Rams 

At one time, this would have been a marque matchup in the NFL. The winner of this game would likely end up with the number one seed in the NFC and be one of the favorites for the Superbowl.

This season, how the mighty have fallen, both teams ravished with injuries, staring down the barrel of an aging roster and limited resources to inject fresh, younger talent into teams that really need it.

Of course, both teams want to win this game, but how much does it matter in the bigger picture? With the Saints at 3-7 and the Rams at 3-6, Compare to the stakes of years gone by, this game has an unusual feel of unimportance.  

With prideful stars on each team, I doubt they feel like these teams’ seasons are lost, so let’s look at three key matchups for the Saints on Sunday.

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Saints Backup Offensive Line Vs Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald is one of the biggest nightmares for offensive coaches to plan, even if the team is at full strength on the offensive line. If the Saints injury report continues in the same vein, then they will be far from full strength.

As it stands, they will be down three of their five day-one starters. Starting LT James Hurst is currently still in concussion protocol and is not practicing. When a player is not practicing this late into the week whilst in the concussion protocol, it is usually a near certainty that they will not be playing.

Starting LG Andrus Peat is also not practicing due to a Triceps injury that kept him out of last week’s game, so it looks very unlikely that he will be playing this week. Add to that starting center Erik McCoy is on injured reserve and is for at least the next three games after missing the games Vs. Pittsburgh last week. That leaves the Saints very shorthanded at a position group that was one of their lone strengths earlier in the season. 

The expected replacements Landon Young (LT), Josh Andrews (C), and Calvin Throckmorton (LG) did not fill anyone with much confidence in last week’s game against the Steelers. The Steelers have plenty of talent on the d-line, including T.J. Watt, who’s as dominant of a player as Donald, but Watt generally didn’t line up against the replacement players too often. He spent much of his time facing off with incumbent starting RT Ryan Ramczyk.

Donald can and will regularly line up against the replacement players at center and LG., which presents a massive set of issues for the line and the Saints coaches to try and prepare for. It’s vital that they contain Donald as much as humanly possible, as in recent weeks when the blocking has broken down in both the passing and running game, the offense has ground to a complete halt. 

Saints Running Game Vs Rams Defense

As we’ve already highlighted, the Saints will again be down many key starters on the offensive line this week. Against the Steelers, this meant they struggled to create any meaningful offense. That struggle was massively due to the dis-functions on the offensive line, meaning the offense could not establish any running game.

Without a run game, this offense led by QB Andy Dalton is not potent enough to be successful. They need to be able to pick up solid yardage on early down carries to make third-down conversions easier. This team struggles hugely when it ends up in third and long, which frequently happens when they can’t run the ball.

Also, the offenses main weapons, outside of rookie sensation Chris Olave are Alvin Kamara, and Taysom Hill, both of these players are predominantly deployed in the rushing attack. Though they both should be a massive part of the passing game, the Saints have struggled in recent weeks to keep them involved in this area.

 The Saints depleted rushing attack face another stiff test this week with a strong Rams run defense. They rank 5th in the league (tied with the Jets) with a stingy 4 YPC allowed to opposing offenses. Led by hall of fame LB Bobby Wagner and the previously mentioned Aaron Donald.

A stand-out stat from looking at the Rams run defense, per PFF, they have only missed 21 tackles in run defense this year, which is incredibly low. The 49ers, who are allowing a league-low 3.4 YPC, have missed 25. The Saints, who were once the league’s best-run defense, have missed a massive 49 tackles whilst defending the run this season. This stat shows one of the Saints biggest issues that’s caused a huge drop in their production against the run this year.

if we look at the top two players from each team from LB and the D-line regarding tackles in the run game, some more Saints issues show up.


Cam Jordan- 20 tackles, six missed tackles, 16.7% missed tackle rate.

Pete Werner- 32 tackles, four missed tackles, 8.7% missed tackle rate.


Aaron Donald- 27 tackles, one missed tackle,2.8% missed tackles rate.

Bobby Wagner- 24 tackles, zero missed tackles.

This shows where the Saints are failing against the run and where the Rams are massively succeeding. The Saints have to find a way to overcome their disadvantages and establish the run this weekend. Otherwise, it will be another very long day for the offense.

Saints Front Four Vs Matthew Stafford 

The Saints pass rush has shown signs of life in recent weeks. It does look like they will be without Marcus Davenport again this week and could be without ironman DE Cameron Jordan who’s not been practicing due to a nasty eye injury. However, Payton Turner and David Onyemata have played much better in recent weeks giving the d-line a bit more depth.

The front four’s play is crucial this week. As it appears, blitzing Rams QB, Matt Stafford actually does the defense more harm than good. Below are Matt Stafford’s passing stats (provided by PFF) when under pressure and not when he’s blitzed and when he’s not.

What you can clearly see is Stafford’s play so far this year has been its best when he’s been blitzed, and Stafford has struggled a lot more when under pressure (not from the blitz) or when he’s been kept clean.

Meaning the Saints need to win up front without blitzing. This should not be a problem considering the Rams are actually more injured on their offensive line than the Saints. The Rams have six offensive linemen on IR, with at least three of those being starters at some point this year and others who would have been starters with the current injuries.

Even if the Saints are down some key starters, they SHOULD still have enough up-front to make Matthew Stafford struggle, especially when we won’t have the quick throw to Cooper Kupp available with Kupp also out this game.

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