Welcome to the Tuesday Fake Punt, your skip-through guide to the weekly NFL stories you might – or might not – be talking about.
Bomb Down The Sideline, 60-yard TD
Wide receiver stardom can feel quite fleeting in the league. Take 2016 – TY Hilton led the league in receiving. A slight surprise, but not much of one. Other breakout years included Amari Cooper, Tyrell Williams, Terrelle Pryor, Kenny Britt, Willie Snead and Cameron Meredith.
I was thinking about this list when scanning some of the players who’ve started well – if not Michael Thomas 38-from-40-for-398-yards well. Kenny Golladay, Tyler Boyd, Robert Woods, Quincy Enunwa, Keelan Cole and Geronimo Allison all have over 200 yards from three games, which is pretty respectable. How many of these will see this year as a one-off, a historical curio? How many might become stars. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Golladay is as close to nailed on as you can get. He looks a complete receiver. Speedy, agile, a great – and intelligent – route-runner, and in that Honolulu Blue, sometimes he looks just a little like Calvin Johnson…I’m just saying!
While star receivers might be emerging, one potential QB star had the worst news. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took a non-contact knee injury where his leg buckled beneath him. Your worst fears in that instance are an ACL tear, and sure enough, that’s what happened. It’s awful for Garoppolo and Niners fans, who were legitimately excited about their future with Garoppolo.
Oh man. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)
Garoppolo will be back, probably at full strength. And to be fair, the 49er roster was not built to compete this year; the offensive line is week, running back depth was poor and receiver depth even moreso. If you want a silver lining, you can say that San Francisco will struggle to pick outside the top-10 this year. That means pick of the prospects, but it’s still all the unknown and provides scant consolation with all that optimism dissipating.
Punter Pass falls incomplete
And there’s an interesting dichotomy here. Though Garoppolo’s was a non-contact injury, generally the league knows it has to protect quarterbacks at all costs. When the league wants to make sure a new audience follows the sport, it’s the gaudy numbers that will get attention. But the new guidelines on roughing the passer this week may have led to William Hayes getting his season ended trying to avoid putting weight on the quarterback. Will the league take teams looking defensive ends over potentially losing quarterbacks for the year? I think…yes. But for the love of everything please don’t charge me with taking sides here.
Punter Takes It To The House!
Deep down, I doubt many in the Jaguars or Titans organisations are too fussed about the stink the two teams played out on Sunday. These are two fantastic defensive competitors with offensive frailties. Jacksonville had games like this last year and still nearly won the AFC Championship Game. The Titans should offer more offensively but are lacking key offensive linemen, and Marcus Mariota isn’t fully fit. Both look playoff calibre provided the offenses don’t play like that every game.
Blocked Punt Returned For TD
That said, thinking about the Titans and receivers has reminded me of Corey Davis. The #5 overall pick from 2017 displays everything that should make him an elite receiver. But he is not getting an opportunity to hone his craft in Tennessee. If Davis is going to become elite he needs volume of passes, and he needs depth of target. Sure, he’ll have friendlier secondaries than Jacksonville’s to do it against, but we should be a tad worried for his future.
Can Corey Davis kick on in Tennessee’s offense? (Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports)
Funny thing, the draft. It works in favour of parity, but players can be collateral damage in that. By the time Davis’ rookie contract and fifth-year option are over, he’ll be nearer 28 than 27. He’ll be heading towards the downslope of his career, and might not have had the opportunity to become the star he could have. I don’t think too much will be done about rookie contract lengths whatever happens with the upcoming CBA negotiations. So it goes.
Attempted Fake Punt Sneak; Fails
You might have missed an aside during the Monday Night Football broadcast where color commentator Jason Witten described the current interpretation of the roughing the passer rule as “left wing”. Witten’s an imbecile, but respect for embracing the fact sport and politics mix, in defiance of his ilk’s usual “Stick To Sports” mantra towards anyone they disagree with.
My main takeaway is, trying to avoid someone being injured is left wing, right? So…people being injured is right wing? Is conservative white America a death cult? It certainly explains a lot.
Guard Runs For 13 Yards, 1st Down
Just another week with Patrick Mahomes passing for three touchdowns and the Chiefs racking up 35 points before the half. And just another week where the defense looks like they’re playing a completely different sport. Mahomes has passed for 896 yards; the Chiefs’ opponents have passed for 1,127. Who knows how long that’s sustainable, but either way the Chiefs are still appointment viewing every week.
Turnover on downs at midfield
The Falcons lost starting safety Ricardo Allen to a season-ending injury this week. Their other starting safety, Keanu Neal, is also out for the season. Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid has no job and is in the prime of his career. Did you know that? The Falcons do, and every team in the league does too.
No fake punt worthy of the award this week, so let’s give it to a punt-block, as the Rams’ Cory Littleton bursts through the line to block a Chargers punt and convert it to a Touchdown. With an honourable mention to the Saints again blocking a Falcons punt, bringing back memories of Steve Gleason’s in the return to the Superdome.