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We Don’t Want To Blame San Francisco’s Defensive And Tampa Bay’s Offensive Problems On Injuries


​​​​maya (Maya Sweedler, editor): Week 7 of the NFL season is sort of performed and dusted, and after some thrilling early weeks, it feels just like the league has considerably settled. By way of Sunday, solely half the league’s divisions embody a five- or six-win staff. Of these 4 divisions, simply two embody a number of such groups. (Are they the divisions we anticipated? No, however we’re very completely satisfied for the AFC East and NFC East.)

And as typically turns into the case, this season has already became a battle of attrition for some squads. Groups just like the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints are struggling to get their starters on the sector, and it’s taking a toll.

Let’s begin with essentially the most snake-bitten staff. The Niners’ fearsome protection was defanged fairly early this season, and after a 44-23 drubbing by the hands of the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, they’re beginning to appear to be a reasonably totally different staff than the one which got here out in Week 1. (After all, the late-week pickup of working again Christian McCaffrey didn’t damage.) Can these Niners get again on observe with present personnel?

joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): San Francisco is a curious case. Coming into the sport, the protection was extensively regarded as the power of the staff, they usually added CMC to shore up the offense. However it was their protection that permit them down. San Francisco anticipated a full sport from Nick Bosa, and acquired it. He performed 40 snaps (and graded out fairly nicely by Professional Soccer Focus, for what it’s value). Additionally they acquired security Jimmie Ward again, however neither addition appeared to assist a lot. Provided that, I’m unsure their points on the defensive aspect are harm associated.

dre.waters (Andres Waters, FiveThirtyEight contributor): I feel they’ve an opportunity to get again on observe — it’s exhausting to say definitively that they may or received’t. However after that loss yesterday, they really acquired break with the schedule as a result of they’ve the L.A. Rams subsequent, and in the event that they win that sport, they’ll nonetheless be in second within the division.

maya: Do BOTH JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling recover from 100 yards receiving if Emmanuel Moseley is taking part in, although?

Ty Schalter (Ty Schalter, FiveThirtyEight contributor): It’s tempting to throw this outcome out, as a result of not solely is Pat Mahomes Pat Mahomes, Kansas Metropolis head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy referred to as a implausible sport. However for a staff that has been — and remains to be presupposed to be — a title contender on the power of its protection, the Niners regarded nowhere near having the ability to decelerate certainly one of a number of robust AFC contenders. In keeping with NFL Subsequent Gen stats, linebacker Samson Ebukam was the one 49ers defender who acquired a couple of QB stress on Mahomes.

joshua.hermsmeyer: To Ty’s level, I feel any cornerback within the league goes to get carved up by Mahomes if the push doesn’t get there. The 49ers had hoped Bosa could be an answer there, however even after their early interception of Mahomes and being noticed a 10-point lead, they simply weren’t as much as the duty. 

maya: Yeah, Mahomes regarded dominant each time he went downfield. He was 7-for-7 on passes of at the least 15 air yards.

I additionally suppose we have to permit for the likelihood that we’re (gasp) underrating Kansas Metropolis.

dre.waters: It’s exhausting to say they’re being underrated. I’d say it was extra a matter of making an attempt to see how they modify to the blockbuster transfer of buying and selling away vast receiver Tyreek Hill.

The factor that’s stood to me is how they’ve been so profitable spreading the ball out and pushing it down the sector to sudden receivers.

To this point this season, all 5 WRs who’ve recorded a reception this season have at the least one catch of 30 or extra yards. By way of all 17 video games final season, solely 4 WRs had a reception of 30 or extra yards.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Mahomes regarded otherworldly, possibly for the primary time this yr. I feel he’s gone full John Wick. As for the Niners, they constructed their early-season popularity on protection off of a pair good video games in opposition to stable groups just like the Rams and the Seattle Seahawks, however they performed the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers and Broncos as nicely. I’m skeptical the protection is what they might want to hold their hat on for achievement the remainder of the way in which. Like the remainder of the league, they’re slowly regressing again to the imply. 

Ty Schalter: It’s not simply that the Chiefs threw it across the 49ers’ rush, although — the push simply wasn’t profitable. Ebukam had the staff’s finest go rush win charge on the day, per ESPN’s Stats & Info group, at 14.3 p.c. That’s barely above league common for the week (14.0 p.c). Bosa and Charles Omenihu tied at 11.8 p.c, and Drake Jackson’s was simply 8.3 p.c.

maya: It goes past preserving Mahomes clear, although. One in every of my massive questions coming into the yr for Kansas Metropolis was whether or not they might remedy their offensive line woes (which, to be honest, had been in no small half attributable to harm in recent times). Proper now, the offensive line is a stable unit, with the league’s finest run-block win charge after this week. 

Ty Schalter: Precisely the place I used to be going, Maya. Their pass-rush win charge is tenth finest, as nicely.

maya: It’s a powerful turnaround. Let’s transfer to a different spectacular turnaround (although maybe not one headed in the proper path). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up 3 factors in opposition to the Carolina Panthers, who fired their head coach two weeks in the past and have been gleefully promoting their offense for elements ever since. What did y’all make of that 18-point loss?

Ty Schalter: {That a} staff entered the week averaging 20.3 factors per sport and was favored by as a lot as 13 was one of many wildest leaps of religion by Vegas oddsmakers I’ve ever seen.

dre.waters: Simply specializing in yesterday’s sport, I do know that the Panthers’ offense has been underwhelming via the primary quarter of the season. However their protection has some actual expertise. They’ve been holding opposing offenses to round 20 factors per sport, which needs to be sufficient to maintain a staff in video games.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Tampa Bay doesn’t appear to be a playoff staff at this level. Brady had the second-highest off-target throw charge in Week 7 to this point. Possibly it’s simple to say that he has regarded distracted this season given what he’s going via in his private life, however a vibes-based take like that holds extra water when nearly 1 / 4 of your passes are mainly uncatchable. 

Ty Schalter: Yeah. Brady’s a dwelling legend, however no matter is incorrect in Tampa Bay — the change in Bruce Arians’s function, the spate of accidents to his favourite targets, an absence of bro time with still-retired-for-now Rob Gronkowski — he’s simply not taking part in nicely sufficient to make up for it. And what would possibly actually be incorrect is precisely what Josh identified: He’s simply not throwing the ball nicely. On the season, Brady is twenty second (-1.3 p.c) in completion charge above anticipated, in accordance with NFL Subsequent Gen Stats. 

maya: And but the Bucs nonetheless refuse to run the ball. They ran by design on simply 23 p.c of performs yesterday, after getting into Week 7 with the fourth-lowest designed rush proportion within the league.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Possibly Brady ought to yell on the coaches as a substitute of his o-line? 

dre.waters: HAHAHA

Yeah, Maya, there’s actually not a lot steadiness to that offense. By way of seven video games, they’ve 296 go makes an attempt to only 148 rush makes an attempt.

With Brady working the offense, skewing towards the go is to be anticipated, but when groups aren’t respecting the run … It’s a little bit tough to get an offense going. 

joshua.hermsmeyer: The Panthers’ D is healthier in opposition to the run than the go, so which will have had one thing to do with it. If you happen to’re greedy for hope for Tampa Bay’s passing sport, PFF has a stat referred to as “correct plus throws charge” — it’s a measure of balls thrown away from protection which might be on body — and Brady is third within the league amongst passers with 200 or extra go makes an attempt. The issue with the stat, from the angle of future efficiency, is that it isn’t predictive. 

maya: Tampa Bay can get pleasure from the advantages of a weak division, however a 9-8 Bucs staff within the playoffs shouldn’t scare anybody.

Ty Schalter: Would you consider the Buccaneers have the seventh-fewest factors scored per drive, and rank simply behind the Inexperienced Bay Packers?

dre.waters: Man, everyone’s about to restart the Brady-is-washed dialog once more and that man is gonna play til he’s 65.

Ty Schalter: Brady’s nonetheless keen to go deep, in contrast to a few of his ageing contemporaries; he’s 18th in common air yards per try. However it’s getting Tampa Bay nowhere: He’s thirty first out of 35 certified quarterbacks in common yards per dropback on throws of at the least 10 air yards.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Backside line although, it’s a must to rating greater than 3 factors in opposition to the Panthers. 

maya: Nicely put. Let’s transfer to a different interconference matchup. The Seattle Seahawks took management of the NFC West with a two-score win over the L.A. Chargers, who can rival the Niners by way of affect of accidents (they misplaced two extra gamers yesterday). Kenneth Walker had a large day on the bottom for Seattle. We’ve mentioned Geno Smith flourishing on this offense, however what’s standing out to you guys about this Seahawks staff?

joshua.hermsmeyer: The Hawks have moved right into a tier with the New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens by EPA/play, and that feels proper to me. They’ve been a surprisingly stable staff all yr, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see their success proceed. 

A scatterplot of defensive and offensive EPA per play.

Ty Schalter: I feel it’s necessary to notice Geno’s not simply flourishing, he’s crushing it! He’s main the NFL in completion charge above anticipated, and ranks fourth in Complete QBR.

maya: I’m loving Smith’s revitalization as a precision passer — at any depth of goal. He’s tied with Josh Allen for many passing touchdowns thrown 20+ yards downfield, with six!

dre.waters: Such as you pointed to earlier, Maya, I feel the emergence of Walker has been big. Going again to Week 5, he’s rushed for 88 yards, 97 yards and now 168 yards. That’s the kind of manufacturing an offense can lean on irrespective of who’s taking part in at QB, although Geno has been taking part in lights out all season as nicely.

Ty Schalter: Precisely, Andres — their balanced offense is ending drives. They’re fourth in per-drive scoring charge (45.8 p.c). 

joshua.hermsmeyer: I assumed we’d have seen the final of Sneaky Pete Carroll. But when he could make this staff right into a contender, he deserves to stay across the league a bit longer.

Ty Schalter: Josh, it wouldn’t be proper if he didn’t get at the least one or two extra coordinators head-coaching jobs that they received’t be capable of reach.

maya: If I needed to vote immediately, Pete Carroll could be my second selection for Coach of the Yr. And that’s a praise. (There’s little or no Brian Daboll might do to lose my vote.)

You already know what different coach completely fascinates me? Mike Vrabel.

Since he took over in Tennessee, I really feel just like the Titans are quietly a type of perennial almost-contenders who can knock out or scare a better seed within the playoffs. The Titans have received the division two years working and accomplished a season sweep of the Indianapolis Colts this weekend, the staff proper behind them within the division.

I don’t suppose we’ve critically mentioned this staff this season. Are they monitoring for an additional 11-6 season, bowing out within the divisional spherical to the eventual convention champions? Or might they put up an actual combat?

Ty Schalter: I liked this video of Vrabel congratulating/consoling heart Ben Jones: 

joshua.hermsmeyer: The Titans acquired one other massive sport from the large canine, Derrick Henry (30 carries, 128 yards). Some are saying Henry has misplaced a step, however they leaned on him to beat the (admittedly dangerous) Colts. If he can return to earlier kind, I don’t see why they’ll’t contend once more. Nicely really, I can consider one purpose: Ryan Tannehill, who’s twenty fifth in Complete QBR on the season. 

dre.waters: Henry could or could not have misplaced a step, however he undoubtedly didn’t lose any dimension. Get that man working downhill 30 instances, and finally good issues ought to occur, lol

Ty Schalter: I nearly see it the opposite method, Maya: They had been the AFC’s No. 1 seed final yr, and blew their dwelling playoff sport to the Cincinnati Bengals. Tannehill was the weak hyperlink in that contest, and he’s been his typical fine-but-uneven self once more this yr. With A.J. Brown and Julio Jones now elsewhere, I feel most analysts perceived them as having waved the white flag on competing with the Chiefses and Billses of the AFC.

Possibly that is extra about division power, then: They’re the AFC South champs by default, they usually’re going to be within the playoffs. If I had been an explosive AFC offensive staff, I wouldn’t relish an early sport in opposition to the Titans — and I’d be scared about well being and stamina for each of my traces popping out of it.

maya: However hey, if we’ve discovered something from Kansas Metropolis (and possibly Carolina?) this season, it’s that buying and selling away your main receivers received’t essentially value you.

Ty Schalter: Coughs in Inexperienced Bay Packers.

maya: Let’s finish with some good injury-related information! After disturbing accidents to Tua Tagovailoa in weeks 3 and 4, the dealing with of which led to modifications to the league’s concussion protocol, he returned to the Miami Dolphins this week to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Dak Prescott appeared in his first sport since sustaining a hand harm in Week 1 to steer the Cowboys to a win over the Lions (we’ll give him partial credit score for that one). Which signal-caller regarded strongest in his return to motion?

joshua.hermsmeyer: Tua regarded so robust popping out of the gate Sunday night time, however then every thing simply type of stalled out. Nonetheless, I’ll give him the sting over Dak simply based mostly on the joy of watching the Dolphins offense when it’s hitting on all cylinders. 

Ty Schalter: If you happen to simply take a look at the ultimate rating, it looks like Dak cruises away with this one. However with 4 minutes left within the sport, the Cowboys had solely scored 10 factors in opposition to the league’s worst scoring protection. If not for back-to-back Jared Goff turnovers within the closing minutes, Cowboys Twitter could be speaking about Cooper Rush once more this morning. 

dre.waters: Yeah, I’m with Josh. Tua regarded higher to me as nicely. He got here out and led Miami to an early lead, then they simply held off the Steelers. Dak, like Ty stated, wanted assist from Goff and Detroit to get a win in a sport that was nearer than the ultimate rating suggests. 

maya: Tua additionally has the good thing about two of the speediest, strongest receivers within the league.

Ty Schalter: One in every of my pet theories popping out of this season to this point is that QB/WR match is the brand new frontier of offensive effectivity. A really nice quarterback ought to be capable of do every thing nicely — however getting the proper receiver, one who excels at working the routes your quarterback finest throws — can elevate the quarterback’s effectiveness, typically dramatically so. Pairing Tyreek Hill with a quarterback who has excellent accuracy on shorter routes permits each gamers to shine. And having Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki, two gamers who win numerous one-on-one matchups, and you’ve got a passing offense that’s extraordinarily exhausting to cowl for 4 quarters (even when Tua’s not having his finest deep-ball day). 

dre.waters: Are you able to inform that my Baltimore Ravens, Ty???? 

joshua.hermsmeyer: Andres, simply roll that up and ship it by provider pigeon proper into Greg Roman’s sales space!

I feel Ty is on to one thing right here, although — as long as the match is an elite WR and an honest QB, with an emphasis on elite WR. In any other case I feel many of the customary assumptions about nice QBs making the gamers round them higher nonetheless apply.

maya: Guess all of it comes right down to chemistry, on the finish of the day.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Each on and off the sector. Simply ask Tom Terrific.

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