Stud of the Week: DE Yannick Ngakoue
I could use this spot to talk about Jalen Ramsey again, as he had a really good day outside of a blown play that allowed a huge 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter (although it doesn’t actually look like it was his responsibility, the safety should have switched onto the deep receiver instead of dropping down). However, I’ve decided to highlight another rookie stud for the team in Ngakoue, who leads the team in sacks and forced fumbles.
At the start of the season, fans thought that the LEO position would belong to Dante Fowler and that the team would use the third-round pick Ngakoue as a situational pass rusher, primarily due to Ngakoue’s inability in college to hold up against the run. However, Ngakoue has had more snaps than Fowler in all 4 games this season and is the team’s primary LEO. Is he good against the run? No, but he’s shown the ability to be an actual playmaker at a position that is tailored for his skillset. He recorded a sack, a forced fumble and an INT this week to help us roll out to a large lead. I’ve been really impressed with Ngakoue’s play this season, and fans shouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation along with Ramsey this season.
Dud of the Week: Play-Calling when in the Lead
I’m not going to lie, coming up with a true dud this week was tough. While several people didn’t have GREAT games, no one was bad enough to call them out. However, I just want to look at the horrible play-calling (mostly on offense) that allowed the Colts to come back and nearly win.
Near the end of the third quarter, we had all the momentum in the world. Our running game looked good and we needed to milk the clock. So, to start the fourth after a Colts’ TD, what do we do? Pass for 5 of the next 6 plays and take a whole minute and a half off the clock. The next drive consisted of 2 passing plays, but Allen Hurns was able to score a great touchdown, so it’s hard to fault the staff for that one. Here’s the really irritating drive: with under 3 minutes remaining, we throw a dump-off that gets Benn pushed out of bounds, then run the ball, then throw an incompletion. There is no reason to throw the ball 2 out of 3 plays on that drive.
This just showed me that our entire team doesn’t know how to play with a lead, even the coaches. If you don’t want the fans to criticize you for every mistake that the team makes, you have to show that you can make good calls in times that matter. This staff needs to learn this lesson fast or they’ll always look like a coaching staff that tries its hardest to lose.
Offensive Player to Watch: RB TJ Yeldon
TJ Yeldon has earned his role as the number one running back on our depth chart. He just looks so much more explosive than Chris Ivory while also proving to be more consistent. Sure, his Baltimore and Green Bay games were horrible, but he was able to put up 71 yards on 14 carries this week, along with 46 receiving yards on 4 catches. He fits with the young, athletic talent on this offense much more than the lumbering Ivory does. Yeldon should be receving around 60-70% of the carries for this offense to be successful. This London game could get Yeldon rolling for the next several games to come.
Defensive Player to Watch: DT Sheldon Day
Rookies like Jalen Ramsey, Ngakoue and Myles Jack turned heads on Sunday, but so did the often-forgotten DT Sheldon Day. Day was a highly touted fourth round pick out of Notre Dame but was buried on the depth chart, behind several good interior D-Lineman like Malik Jackson, Sen’Derrick Marks and Abry Jones. Day has only played 48 snaps this season, but he caught my eye on one play against the Colts where he exploded into the backfield and ruined the offensive play. I don’t know if he’ll have the opportunity to keep making plays, but I still think he is a better option than Sen’Derrick Marks (who PFF has graded as the 107th DT in the league and the worst on our active roster) right now. I hope the coaches decide to let Day loose onto the league and show what he can do.
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