There is no real rhyme or reason to the ranking, just what I find most entertaining. Sometimes for its beauty, sometimes for the chaos, and sometimes for the maniacal portion of my soul. Feel free to reach out and direct me to the plays I missed.
Worst Of The Week: PI on Who?
Pass interference rulings have hit disastrous levels across the league. Christian Kirk and DeAndre Hopkins were tackled by defensive backs this week on downfield shots and neither penalty was called on the field, and only one was overturned after challenge. But somehow, neither of those deserve to be labeled as the worst call of the week.
The audacity to throw is flag on the defense is absurd. The positioning is perfect. Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker is running Kyle Juszczyk’s route for him, even turning his head to locate the football while in phase. The drive did end with Jimmy Garoppolo throwing an awful interception, so the ball is undefeated at upholding the truth.
10. Tired: Jimmy Graham. Wired: Jared Cook
When the Saints brought in Jared Cook this offseason, this is one of the moments they envisioned. Evoking memories of Jimmy Graham in black and gold, Brees floats a ball to Cook, and thanks to outside positioning, lift and extension, the tight end is the only one with a real opportunity to bring down the football.
The football alley-oop.
9. The College Years
Should we be alarmed that the Patriots felt like they needed to call two wide receiver throwbacks in order to generate big plays on offense? One was lateraled back to Tom Brady, but this one saw college quarterback Julian Edelman complete a touchdown to Phillip Dorsett, with some heat on it.
If you pause the clip upon release, you notice Edelman actually had a read on this throw. He chose Dorsett, which was correct, but if the defense backed up then a throwback to James White with multiple blockers in front of him was a secondary option.
I actually like these Patriots?
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8. Courtland Sutton's Breakout Continues
It’s been a difficult year for Xavier Rhodes, and it’s easy to blame him here. In reality, the positioning is very good. He even turns to locate the target, yet no play on the football is made. Over everything, I’m drawn to the concentration Sutton must have to come down with this catch. Zero focus on Rhodes, zero focus on hands limiting his movement, all eyes on the football and tracking it. Courtland Sutton had a ways to go coming out of SMU, but the possibility of a No. 1 WR was there if the pieces aligned.
7. Deebo Brings The Circus
Concentration level 100. Deebo Samuel is progressing in front of our eyes. He’s shifted from a manufactured touch receiver to a pass-catcher making circus grabs like this in less than a dozen games. The rookie gains control on the second bobble while being run over by two defenders in opposite directions and somehow is able to get a knee or two feet inbounds.
6. Julio Jones, Uncoverable
We know the Falcons crushed the Panthers, but without this play being made the halftime score likely is 13-0. This alignment by Atlanta was simple and smart. With the Panthers in Cover 2, Julio Jones ran his vertical route straight down the middle of the field, deep into Luke Kuechly’s responsibility. There was no defensive breakdown or mistake, it was simply an incredible throw and catch that beat great positioning by Kuechly. A game-defining moment. Not to mention that Ryan was clobbered just after release.
5. The One Star In Washington
In terms of impacting the final score, this plays offers nothing. In terms of making the Redskins watchable, it’s the only attraction. This ball should not be thrown, and it speaks to McLaurin’s talent. He is in a disadvantageous position throughout the play, except for the final moment. McLaurin elevates higher and goes over Marcus Maye while ripping the football away. My ball. McLaurin is special, and we would see it more often in a better situation.
4. Making The Difficult Look Normal
The more you watch it, the more impressive it becomes.
At the end of his drop Kyler Murray is pressured by two defenders, one to his front and one to his left side. That’s also the direction of his intended target. There are three 49ers in coverage that Kyler’s throw must beat: One underneath, one trailing in man coverage, and one driving from a deeper position. The throw is perfect. Ideal touch, ideal velocity. First-class.
3. Diving At Shoelaces
Lamar Jackson unleashes gains like this on a weekly basis. Never take them for granted. They are rare, we’re just lucky to be witnessing them so frequently.
How often do we see a quarterback force five defenders to dive for his shoestrings? These are the best of the best, and Lamar Jackson makes them look like FCS talents. So many of these runs start with Lamar making the read defender miss, then outrunning trailing defensive linemen. Just a fun, fun football player.
Whenever pro-Lamar comments are made, one Scrooge flares up to say “well it won’t last, look at how many hits he takes!” That’s your response? We watch the sport differently. Enjoy something, for once.
2. Kickstands On The Football Field
Have you ever seen an NFL player change direction like that? As Matt Waldman put it, Ingram unleashed the “kickstand” to halt momentum. You have to wonder if this was even on purpose; if Ingram’s foot simply slipped while slowing down to work upfield. That Ingram just has a natural feel for movement and went with it.
And it’s all made by linebacker Zach Cunningham doing the opposite. Not lowering his center of gravity. Not bending his knees. Simply overrunning his target out of bounds, resulting in the best seat in the house for Ingram’s eventual touchdown.
1. Quenton Nelson Never Stops Working
When Quinton Nelson went through the draft process a viral clip circulated of him working backside to a free blitzer, ultimately ending in a devastating decleater. We almost saw another on Sunday.
There’s no way this is Nelson’s responsibility. Yet, almost in unison, he follows Myles Jack across three other blockers. Jack is seemingly left stunned, halted, like a wall appeared in front of nose out of thin air. Nelson doesn’t settle, he then drives Jack even further out of the picture. Amazing, amazing stuff.