March 22, 2023
The Athletic

Scouting Notebook Week 9: Justin Fields steps into elite territory, D’Andre Swift plays second fiddle and more

Yes, Justin Fields is now perhaps the QB1. He was awesome. He’s a top athlete with the speed of the best running backs. He’s taller than Lamar Jackson and just as fast. But since turning his season in three games, he has rushed 37 times for 320 yards with three points. That’s a pace for 209 carries in a season. Can you program this for your QB and expect him to persevere? I say, “No way.” Seven carry a game, maybe three or four, that’s really the max. That’s 119 dead. His pace over the past three weeks has been insane. It’s not a sustainable business model.

Noah Fant is the big story in Seattle. I have no idea if we can trust him, but 96 yards on six targets is an automatic shot. Again, the Cardinals are terrible against tight ends. This seems to be their plan on this side of the ball. It’s bizarre.

De Andre Hopkins lost a second TD in an illegal procedure call Robbie Anderson, who obviously didn’t have the head in the game at all. Anderson has spoken about retiring and I wouldn’t be surprised if he quits mid-season.

kenwalker runs hard and is fast, but the Seahawks drafted really well and completely rebuilt their offensive line and made it one of the top units in the league.

Kliff Kingsbury needs to be fired. How was he ever hired? We knew Patrick Mahomes was a god in 2019 and my grandmother, who never watched football, could have noticed Kingsbury lost in college with perhaps one of the best QBs of all time and that should be disqualifying.

The Rams have the worst-anticipated future of any team. No picks. A bunch of terrible contracts. Matthew Stafford appears to be injured. Your best players (Cooper Kupp) will be over 30 next year. They can’t block. You don’t have a pass rush. There is no second WR. No running back. They had nine first downs and were 4-for-15 on third down. Sean McVay will destroy his career if he honors the 2026 extension he has signed. There is no hope here.

Tom Brady was terrible too until he pulled it out at the end. I’m pretty sure Doug Williams threw the last TD pass Chris Godwin achieved. I’m guessing that was around 1979.

The hawks are the bizarre dolphins. They also lead their passing game through just two players. On Sunday, Kyle Pitts and DrakeLondon combined for 14 of the team’s 24 goals. But they had 50 yards, not even four yards per goal. Markus Mariota left about 73 yards and a game-winning TD on the field late in the game, missing a wide-open Pitts. Mariota is one of the worst QBs we’ve seen. It’s like he’s a beginner.

Does Cordarrelle Patterson still deserves to be the most-touched RB in Atlanta? He found wage dirt twice. That saved the day for him, but he was outclassed by the other two defenders in that terrible three-man committee. I would try to move Patterson.

Josh Palmer average 10 yards per target. I have to agree with him. He’s a WR2 while both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen (doing his Michael Thomas impression) are out.

But there’s no juice in this passing game. JustinHerbert averages 6.4 yards per attempt. That’s 1.1 fewer than last year (when he wasn’t much better than average on the stats). In the past four weeks, Herbert has had a total of four touchdowns. You’re not crazy if you want to bench Herbert. But QB is so weak.

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle Get 60-70% of Dolphins yards every week. A team with a top corner (or two very good ones) will end this offense. This team is not the bears.

The Miami defense is nothing special. They were 23rd in yards allowed and gave up 368 to Chicago. (See Dolphins fans, that’s unnecessary shots at the Dolphins, which I didn’t do last week. Now you can complain in the comments.)

if Baker Mayfield is back, DJ Moore can be back on the outs. But according to NFL Network’s Michael Florio (not this one), Moore had over 40% air yardage in the second half with Mayfield.

No matter who the QB is, I say again: get Terrace Marshal.

Joe Mixon always ranks among the frontrunners in expected fantasy points as the Bengals use him like he’s their fantasy RB. But he had the most fantasy points of any player with five TDs against Carolina all year.

come on Aaron Rodgers. That just hurts. He’s in decline. Not everyone is playing at the top of their game in their 40s. We were spoiled by Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Rodgers’ YPA is a career low. He already has more picks than any season since 2017. He just had nine points against the league’s worst defense. This is his 39-year season. That’s super old. Rich Gannon was the 2002 MVP at 37 and that was it. He was washed from the next year.

I like Allen Lazard, who has five TDs and well over 400 yards in seven games. Who could believe that we would like to start a Rodgers WR – but not Rodgers. Lazard has a huge catch radius and can go deep. You’ll roll your eyes but he honestly reminds me of Mike Evans.

How about Aaron Jones? He jogged to the dressing room after spraining his ankle. Then it seemed to go south:

What are you D’Andre Swift will defenders say now? When will he get a reasonable amount of touching? He had nine snaps! Also, when will he be 40, which is still bad? week 13?

We need to rank Jamal Williams now no lower than RB15.

The Colts Patriots were just a brutal watch. Get this: The teams put up 19 first downs and 324 yards combined. Not averaged, combined! The Colts were 0-to-14 in third place and 0-to-2 in fourth place. good sir Okay, one more thing: 2.0 yards per play for the Colts and 3.3 yards for the Patriots. The teams started the game with nine yards in the first 23 games. Uncle!

I can’t believe I’m saying this but they have to get it Matt Ryan back in. I think Frank Reich will probably get fired this week. I would fire him.

Michael Carter is much better than James Robinson but the Jets want Robinson to run between tackles. The Jets somehow took it down the throat of the Bills to win the game without their best RB and most of their starting offense.

Jets fans couldn’t care less Elijah Moore but he ran 14 distances and had no goals. Denzel Mims had more snaps and is a top blocker, plus he made the catch that really won the game as he forced the Bills to spend all of their timeouts before the Jets kicked the game-winning field goal in the final two minutes.

The weird thing Zach Wilson he’s second in the NFL in QBR when he’s not pressured (he may have passed Patrick Mahomes given how terribly pressured Mahomes was Sunday night). The analysis of projecting QBs is that the no-pressure stats are best because it’s the largest sample and offense can limit pressure from intrigue. On Sunday: 17-for-21 for 145 yards and a TD (near-perfect 91.3 QBR).

The Bills have problems offensively, but only a top defense like the Jets can take advantage of them. Buffalo can beat every other team in the AFC Josh Allen and her passing game. But the Jets got 15 pressures and five sacks against Allen despite only blitzing twice. So you could drop seven. Also, the Jets have two top corners, and if you stop Stefon Diggs from making big plays, who else is going to beat you? It’s a style that frustrates everyone (and every QB). Allen threw deep and that wasn’t the way to play it on Sunday. Allen seemed absent, but that was because he had to play small ball and refused.

Gabe Davis is one of the worst calls I’ve ever made. The process was good. The modeling was solid. I researched him well. But not only is he not a #2 recipient, he’s hardly a #3 recipient.

TJ Hockenson surprised with nine goals. This was another ugly offensive game. Kirk cousins started 9-for-10 and then went 13-for-30 from there.

The same for Derek Carrwho just broke down after a blistering start where he had the chemistry Davante Adams that we dreamed of. However, it was fleeting.

Yes, having just totally shopped Josh Jacobs, he was pretty terrible. So drop him on the floor of the first row of RBs.

Christian Kirk is probably a WR2, at least a borderline one.

Trevor Lawrence was very good after the Jaguars fell 17-0 down in the second quarter. I really stand behind Lawrence and Fields and Wilson. The league needs fresh blood in the QB to replace Stafford, Brady and Rodgers.

(Top Photo: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)

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