Who are the Early Candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year?

We’re four weeks in and this season has been nothing short of riveting. As a draft geek, I love seeing how rookies fit with their new teams, and there have been some standouts thus far on both sides of the ball.

Today, let’s take a look at who are the early offensive rookie of the year candidates.

8. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb.

Just barely nudging into consideration is an emerging weapon for Baker Mayfield. Chubb has been an afterthought thus far, but his performance against the Oakland Raiders put the league on notice.

Chubb rushed for 105 yards on 3 attempts (yeah, that’s an average of 35 yards per carry) against Oakland, and the Browns are looking to give him more carries moving forward.

7. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen.

This is a true dark-horse pick, but if Rosen can turn this struggling franchise around, then he’ll most definitely be considered for OROY. I thought it was foolish to throw him into the fire against the Bears, but he showed some encouraging traits in his first start against Seattle.

Against the Seahawks, Rosen went 15 for 27 for 180 yards and 1 touchdown. Although these aren’t great stats, given that this was his first start and he didn’t throw any picks, it’s not bad. If Rosen can show that he can be an upper-tier QB in the NFL, he’ll OROY consideration.

6. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay.

Lindsay is the only undrafted rookie I have on this list, but boy is he deserving of it. I wanted to also include Lindsay’s teammate, Royce Freeman on this list, but Lindsay has shown way more explosiveness and he jumps off your screen.

So far this season, Lindsay has 267 yards rushing and he’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry. If Lindsay can continue with this type of production and be a factor in the passing game, Lindsay should get be in the OROY discussion.

5. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold.

In some aspects, it’s been a tough transition for the former USC quarterback. He’s thrown 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and his first appearance on Thursday Night Football ended in a loss to Baker Mayfield’s Cleveland Browns. However, Darnold has shown that he’s the future of the Big Apple.

His performance against the Detroit Lions put him on a pedestal that was probably too high for him, but he showed some spark. If he can revive this season and put the Jets in the middle of the pact, Darnold could become this year’s OROY.

4. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions 

Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson.

Johnson has had a quite, but impressive first four weeks of the NFL season. He became the first Detroit Lions running back since 2013 to rush for over 100 yards in one game.

Through four weeks, Johnson has run for 216 yards for 5.7 yards a carry. He has also been a factor in the passing game, too. In order for Johnson to become OROY, he must be entrusted to be the bell-cow and he must be given the ball more in the passing game.

3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns 

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield.

It looks like Hue Jackson’s plan of benching Baker for Tyrod Taylor for a year didn’t work in his favour. That’s alright, though, since Mayfield has shown promise in both his first appearance and first start, respectively. Could Mayfield become Cleveland’s saving grace? If so, would a mediocre record be enough of an accomplishment for him to win OROY?

In his first appearance against the New York Jets, Baker went 17 for 23 and 201 yards. In his first start against the Raiders, the Oklahoma QB went 21 for 41 and 295 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Not a stellar performance, but Cleveland’s offence putting up 42 points is noteworthy. The title of number one overall pick has lofty expectations, and if Baker can meet them, he’ll be OROY.

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley.

Let’s not lie to ourselves, everyone thought Saquon would be the unanimous OROY coming into the 2018 NFL season. Has he lived up to expectations? I don’t think he has, but I blame a lot of that on how poor the Giants are as a collective. It’s no secret: Barkley is versatile. However, in order to win OROY, he must demonstrate that he is an elite running talent.

Over the first four weeks, Saquon has accumulated 260 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns. As well, Barkley has 27 receptions for 193 receiving yards. He’s been good, but he has to push it into the next gear to get my OROY vote.

1. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley.

Perhaps an unlikely leading candidate for OROY, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley has been incredible in the first quarter of the season. Ridley has been an excellent complimentary piece to Julio Jones, and while that isn’t translating into wins, the Falcons must be happy with what they’ve seen.

Ridley has 264 receiving yards and a league-leading 6 receiving touchdowns. Julio takes a lot of targets, as he leads the league in receiving yards, but Ridley will get his fair share of attention from Matty Ice. Look out for Ridley to be my pick for OROY.

Digging Deeper with Daniel 10/9-10/15 New QB Generation

New QB Generation

Injuries and regression have run rampant this year among the older group of QBs in the league. Eli Manning has badly regressed along with Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. Matt Ryan has not played on the same level as last year and Aaron Rodgers may be out for the season. Tom Brady and Drew Brees have played well, but their inevitable regression can’t be far off. Carson Palmer just hasn’t been the same since his fantastic 2015 season. Luckily there are some promising young faces at the quarterback position looking to fill this void. Starting with the best in my opinion, we have Marcus Mariota. Mariota has been really good and shown limitless potential. The only thing that might hold him back would be what may be an injury problem. Last year’s number 1 overall pick Jared Goff has bounced back somewhat from his disastrous rookie year to show some franchise QB traits. DeShone Kizer has suffered from an appalling Browns receiving core and play calling set, but has flashed some promise.  Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson have not played as well as their numbers may suggest, but still look like franchise quarterbacks with bright futures. Even Jacoby Brissett has looked promising for the Colts. This year’s upcoming QB draft class also boasts Lamar Jackson who is an absolute stud and Josh Rosen who looks to have franchise potential. The future of the NFL quarterback looks bright.

Season of the Injury

Injuries have run rampant this season with a plethora of stars going down. Opening night gave us a hint at what was to come with Eric Berry and Julian Edelman going down with season ending injuries. Ryan Tannehill went down in the preseason. It only got worse from there. David Johnson will be out for 5 more weeks, but many of these injuries have been season ending. Star receivers Allen Robinson and Odell Beckham have had their seasons ended and rising star Cameron Merideth also will miss this season. Aaron Rodgers looks to be out for the season. Greg Olsen went down for 6-8 weeks. Rookie sensation Dalvin Cook will be out for the season. Many more players have suffered the same fate. Many of these injuries have been lower leg joint/ligament issues caused by an awkward body hit on a planted leg. The NFL might want to consider promoting more hits on the torso or upper leg to help prevent this issue.

General unpredictability

This season has been many things, but predictable is not one of them. The Jets are outperforming the Raiders, Cowboys, Giants, and Buccaneers. The Vikings and the Panthers are at the top of their divisions over each of last years NFC Championship teams. The Rams are challenging for the NFC West. Say what you will about the quality of play this season, but enjoy the parity and unpredictability.

Wats-Going-On With Deshaun?: The Disaster

Wats-Going-On With Deshaun?: The Disaster

Preseason Week 3 and 4

I’m finally back to cover the progression (being very modest today) of Deshaun Watson with the Houston Texans, after recovering from the relentless rage of Hurricane Harvey. Although I am currently in Austin, Texas attending school, my family and many of my hometown friends live in the Houston area. Trust me, CNN doesn’t do the travesty in Houston justice. Houston Texan JJ Watt has been running a historic charitable campaign to raise money for those most impacted by Hurricane Harvey. If you have any spare change, please consider donating to JJ Watt’s charity:

In other news: another disaster has hit Houston, and its name is probably unknown to the average American. Wildfire Watson has struck the Houston Texans franchise. As the coaches suppress the hellfires of Deshaun Watson to the bench to start off the season, Texans fans are left wondering if their beloved franchise just signed a deal with the devil. Will this young first round quarterback keep the youngest franchise in the NFL under the smoke of mediocrity? Only time will tell.

Watson Sucks In New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LA – AUGUST 26: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The title says it all. Not only did Deshaun Watson not improve, but his comfortability in the offense seemed to regress against one of the least talented defenses in the league.

More Bad Throws

Let’s start with his well known issue: his mechanics. Of his 10 incompletions, I counted 3 bad throws. Two of these throws led to drops, and the other sailed over the head of his receiver and was intercepted. What is scariest about Watson’s throwing blunders: these were all short passes. None of his attempted passes were particularly difficult. In fact, I don’t remember seeing a pass beyond ten yards from the line of scrimmage. To keep it simple, I’ll refer back to the title of this section: his mechanics just suck.

Add In Mental Lapses

The box score doesn’t even tell you how bad he was. We already talked about the interception, but we also need to mention his mental lapses in the game. 2 of his 10 incompletions were dropped interceptions. One pick was a flat out bad read where Watson threw the ball straight at the defender. The other was when Watson decided to fling the ball to the heavens over the middle of the field while he was under duress. Luckily, the pick was dropped. He put himself before his team with these two throws, which is why guys like DeAndre Hopkins prefer Tom Savage over him.

Watson also had two more mental lapses. On one occasion, he failed to recognize the coming blitz off the left side, and adjust the pass protection accordingly. This led to an unblocked sack. On another occasion, Watson was sacked because of his failure to get rid of the ball on what was obviously a quick pass-schemed play. He held onto the ball too long, and was eaten alive by blitzers.

The Few Flashes

Now, things weren’t all bad I guess. His pocket presence still had a hint of magic every now and then, and he still made some unorthodox throws. Escaping the pocket, he rolled out left and threw behind his body only for the pass to be dropped by his receiver. He also made a fantastic throw while being taken down by a defensive lineman. Watson flashes best with these unscripted plays, but his blunders within the scheme far outweigh any magic he can muster outside of it.

The Reality

In the end, Deshaun Watson has been terrible. Without a doubt, he has been the worst of the top four rookie quarterbacks. He looks the least talented, the least prepared, and the furthest from being deserving of a starting position. Let me put it into perspective for you:

Let’s take a look at my adjusted stats for Deshaun Watson against the Saints:

Adjusted Preseason Week 3 Stats: Deshaun Watson

12 of 21, 126 yards, 0 Tds, 3 INTs, 35.1 Passer Rating

Yes, a 35.1 Passer Rating. That’s out of 158.3 if you didn’t know.

Now, let’s look at his full preseason stats:

Adjusted Preseason Stats (Week 4 Canceled): Deshaun Watson

30 of 56, 53.6% Completion, 344 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 50.0 Passer Rating

44 Rushing Yards, 2 Rushing TDs, 12 inaccurate passes (23% Inaccuracy Rate)

Sure you can argue that the two rushing TDs could be calculated as passing TDs, but that would still only yield a passer rating of 61.9. That’s still awful. The scariest stat by far is that he was inaccurate on 23% of his passes in the preseason. Even if he could play within Bill O’Brien’s scheme, his mechanical issues will still be in his way until they are fixed.

2017 Regular Season For Deshaun

I never thought this would be the case, but Deshaun Watson has the worst chance of starting in 2017 between him, Mahomes, Kizer, and Trubisky. The Bears will probably be bad, and HC John Fox will quickly be forced to see what he has in his young 2nd Overall Pick. Kizer has already earned his starting role, leaving Mahomes as the least likely to start of those three. Tyreek Hill is their only weapon at receiver, and Alex Smith’s arm isn’t enough to get it down field. My guess: the Chiefs struggle to run the ball, TE Travis Kelce see’s a lot of double coverage, and the Chiefs will be stalemated on offense. In comes Mahomes who brings a true deep dimension to this often dimensionless offense.

Let’s face facts Texans’ fans. Watson isn’t ready to start. He is on the most well rounded team of these four rookie quarterbacks. Tom Savage simply fits what the Texans need right now at quarterback: a dink and dunk quarterback who doesn’t turn the ball over and can play within Bill’s stupid system.

So far, Wildfire Watson has threatened the future of the Houston franchise, but a year on the bench and working on his mechanics may be just put the heat on their opponents in the future.

 

Past Episodes of Wats-Going-On With Deshaun?

Episode 1: Preseason Week 1

Episode 2: Preseason Week 2

 

 

Is Kizer the Saving Grace for Cleveland?

Is Kizer the Saving Grace for Cleveland?

Browns fans, there’s something to look forward to this season.

On Sunday, Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson named rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer their starting quarterback this upcoming season. This is subject to change depending on how well Kizer performs, but on the surface, this is good news.

The Browns’ other options in Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan may present some limited immediate success, but starting Kizer gives this team something to build on for years to come.

As a rookie quarterback, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The pressure that comes from being a starting quarterback in the NFL is insurmountable, especially in Cleveland.

The disastrous quarterback lineage in Cleveland has put a stigma around this organization. So what makes Kizer different?

Taken in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, Kizer has shown promise in the first three preseason games. His discipline both on and off the field has shown in his play and in his interviews. He understands the situation he’s in, which is rare for a rookie quarterback. Kizer doesn’t believe he’s entitled to the starting role and understands the commitment level it takes to be a starting QB in the NFL.

A part of Cleveland’s lack of success has been selecting quarterbacks with a lack of talent or a surplus of ego. Kizer has the rare combination of having good feet and a cannon of an arm. His pre-game preparation and on-field decision making stand out in his play; two things every quarterback needs to succeed.

So what should we expect from Deshone Kizer in his rookie season?

Keeping into account the supporting cast which is around him, Kizer could have respectable statistics in his rookie year. The offensive line is a top 10 unit, the receivers aren’t terrible and the run game is steady.

For a 16 game season, my predictions are:

Completions/Attempts: 385/605 

Completion Percentage: 63.6%

QB Rating: 81.5

Passing Yards: 3800

Touchdowns/Interceptions: 22/13

Rushing Yards: 150

Rushing Touchdowns: 3

This would be a solid building block for the Browns to build around. With the receiving corps and defense taking steps this year, the Browns may have a chance to gain respect in the league. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mitchell Trubisky shines in preseason debut

 

As with most NFL seasons, all eyes were on the rookie quarterbacks in their preseason debuts, and this season, they did not disappoint. After an impressive showing by Texans QB Deshaun Watson last night, Chicago Bears rookie Mitchell Trubisky might have played even better.

Following a comedy of an offense by Mike Glennon and most of the Bears’ starting unit throughout most of the first half, Mitchell Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, galloped into the Bears’ first preseason game and immediately changed the state of the offense. After not even scoring a point in over 28 minutes of game play, it took Trubisky about 1:40 to get his team on the scoreboard with a touchdown to Victor Cruz. Cruz made sure to hit his seemingly patented salsa dance after scoring, as well.

Trubisky would go on to lead two more scoring drives in the second half, finishing the game with a passing stat line of 18-25 attempts, 166 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, and a passer rating of 103.1. He also added 38 yards on the ground.

The most impressive part of Trubisky’s game was his exceptional accuracy. He was extremely accurate in the short-to-intermediate range, hitting his receivers in stride and allowing them to get yards after the catch.

With Mike Glennon, the team struggled to move the football, turned the ball over multiple times, and didn’t even look competitive. With Trubisky, the team was completely different. They moved the ball with relative ease, did not turn the ball over, and was extremely competitive. And maybe more importantly, they were even a little fun to watch.

Trubisky did display some flaws, though. He never sought to throw the ball very deep down field, and with a chance to come back and win the game for his team in the 4th quarter, he failed. He did not have enough urgency on the final drive, resulting in the Bears only having one true shot at the end zone from 24 yards out. Trubisky bought time, rolled out to his left, but threw an uncatchable ball out of bounds to end the game.

Still, the rookie quarterback was impressive. So, he must be moving up the QB depth chart, right?  Wrong, says Bears head coach John Fox.

“Our depth chart is not going to change after one game, particularly a preseason game. That’s a really good defense our first unit went against, probably one of the top three defenses in the league…You have to look at a lot of different things. I can understand how you guys might think, but we’re not going to change a whole lot after one game.”

– John Fox, following the Bears vs Broncos preseason game

Well, it’s nice to know John Fox is still John Fox. Fox has a history of not playing rookies, and it appears as if this history will continue. But if Mitchell Trubisky continues to play this well, even John Fox will have to admit Trubisky must start.

Here’s another look at the box score, in case you missed it, Mr. Fox.

COMP ATT YARDS Y/A TD INT RATING
Mitchell Trubisky 18 25 166 6.6 1 0 101.3
Mike Glennon 2 8 20 2.5 0 1 0.0*

*We’re serious. It was really 0.0

Wats-going-on With Deshaun?: Preseason Week 1

Wats-going-on With Deshaun?: Preseason Week 1

Football is back baby! It feels like Christmas Eve, and our true American sport’s regular season is only four weeks away. After the Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, fans finally got a glimpse at the first of the three quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft: Deshaun Watson. It seems that most aren’t huge fans of the former National Champion out of Clemson, but as a Texans’ fan, I’m trying to keep my hopes at reasonably optimistic levels. Even to our owner, MJ, Deshaun Watson is one of the least impressive first round quarterback prospects in recent memory; he believes Watson will be decent but will quickly fade out of the league like his Titan’s very own Vince Young. Maybe so, but perhaps not. This is the first of my weekly (hopefully) articles following the journey of Deshaun Watson.

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