Week 2 Game Analyst News and Notes

by Cody Carpentier, September 23, 2021

This new season-long mini-series is brought to you by the RotoUnderworld Game Analyst Team. The Game Analyst Team consists of over 75 individuals that chart and re-watch every snap from every game in the NFL between game end, and Monday afternoon. The guys you have generally not heard from before stop in to drop some tidbits from their weekly game charting process in hopes to give us a sneak peek into the depth of the games each Sunday. As the Head Game Analyst – I charted for two years and this idea was always in the back of my mind. People always share the broken down, clean, processed reviews of games in the NFL. That’s not what this is. I asked everyone to gives me some Notes or Takeaways from their game this past week, and below are the raw responses I received.

Jacksonville

They just got completely outclassed by Denver. Denver’s Corners put on a clinic & hardly let any Jags receivers get open. The game still seems a little too fast for Trevor Lawrence at the moment. He’d missile in some throws expecting his arm to beat the corner to his wr but whatever window he saw it would close quicker than I think he expected. Sometimes he’d lock onto one receiver and miss others that were wide open.

There was one pick play in particular on a third-down I believe where he had Marvin Jones wide open for what should’ve been a first down but Trevor never saw him and forced a pass to Laviska Shenault instead that was incomplete. Urban and Darrell Bevell didn’t exactly help Lawrence either with playcalling to give him easy passes. That was like one of the only pick plays they ran and never ran a single screen pass to buy Trevor extra yardage.

Trevor also would miss his receivers the few times they actually got open too which was weird. It was a rough day for them. James Robinson did look pretty good but watching the Jags and seeing how many holes they have makes the Travis Etienne pick (who I like as a player but not as a first-rounder for that kind of team) even more egregious.” – Shervon Fakhimi

Houston

“They are enigmatic. Good enough to screw around and win a handful of games, but bad enough to not capitalize on opportunities. There were a few things that jumped out to me:

I obviously think the play calling is scatterbrained (the decision to decline the offsides on third down only to punt on 4th and 2 was a fiasco). What is their identity? They have some interesting concepts (unique use of TE motion to isolate the slot, split-back shotgun sets designed to rub a mesh route with a bigger body TE and set up a wheel, etc) but they don’t commit to anything.

Tyrod Taylor is a damn efficient QB. Those first few drives were masterful. He made quick decisions and pushed the ball against a stellar defense. The contrast between Taylor and Davis Mills was made painfully obvious when Mills came in. He has some of the worst 1st read looks I can remember in recent memory (like Jake Locker bad). They tried to adopt a Zone Read scheme, but Mills made some bad reads and is not as mobile as advertised. Bad. Bad. Bad. 

Brandin Cooks is at the pinnacle of his career right now. Despite all the peripheral reasons for him to regress, he is playing better than he did last year. Even with Ward following him for some of the game, he was constantly getting separation. Even against physical jamming at the line, something he has historically wrestled with) he is breaking free. The dude is so underrated. Since Mills can only see him (55% share, I think is what I noted), he is poised for a high volume (albeit low efficiency) season. *Also, Chris Conley… is a good role player on that team. Strong blocker, decent separator, and STRONG at point of contact.” – Bishop Darby

Miami

Jacoby Brissett got his ass kicked, had the game continued I think he would have gotten hurt eventually, multiple close calls.

Myles Gaskin is still the best RB on the team but it doesn’t matter, given Brissett’s limitations I can see an uptick in safe passing down work for him. 

Buffalo’s defense is good, they played a lot of man coverage as they weren’t scared at all of either Jacoby’s arm or their WR’s ability to create a threat.

Mike Gesicki got open often but that was likely a schematic side effect of committing to pressure on Jacoby.

The Tua Tagovailoa injury is reported as a rib injury but looking at the play it appears it may be more complicated than that, pure conjecture though. 

DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle were OKAY in real terms, not fantasy as they presented no threats deep at all, both topped out at about 15 yards deep occasionally.

One reason to be optimistic about the team, they have a noteworthy coaching staff that might be able to develop a gameplan around their new dynamic if Tua misses significant time, they face the Colts, Jets, Jaguars, and Texans in 4 of the next 6 weeks and might surprise as their competition may be more broken.” – Robert Oberlander

Denver

“The insane amount of air yards for Courtland Sutton was definitely the biggest standout. Teddy Bridgewater looked great again and continued pushing the ball downfield more. Also noticed Broncos used a super tight rotation of WRs and opted for more 2 and 3 TE looks, often lined up 1-2 yards behind the tackle, rather than going down the depth chart to Kendall Hinton or Diontae Spencer.” – Caleb Jensen

Cincinnati

“A lot of empty formations and lack of downfield passing.” – Ajay Raheja

Buffalo

“Miami played almost exclusively man, with Xavien Howard shadowing Stefon Diggs. Makes sense when your CB’s are Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, but it was still interesting how they only ran man. To my very, very untrained eye, they were not creative with coverages. Blitz packages were mixed up sometimes, but, for the most part, it wasn’t very difficult to see what Miami was doing.

In 1 receiver sets, Emmanuel Sanders, not Diggs, was the one predominantly on the field. 

Pretty sure Dawson Knox had close to a 100% snap share. He was close to the only TE used as a pass-catching option and is versatile enough to be used as a blocker, split-end, or inline TE.

Isaiah McKenzie was used primarily as a gadget and motion guy. Bills liked having him run motion through the backfield pre-snap to fake an option. It may have also been to see if Miami was running man, but it was always safe to assume that they were running man.

As we already knew, Josh Allen prefers to operate out of shotgun. The majority of offensive plays were run in shotgun with 3 or 4 receiver sets.” – Brett Hewling

Kansas City

“The Chiefs use of motion and Raven’s disguised coverages here and there. Byron Pringle should have had a monster game. On empty, 5-wide sets he was often the inside flanker and basically left uncovered time after time from what I could tell. Patrick Mahomes often hit his 1st read though on a short pass in those situations. He obviously found Pringle on the TD play and again on the final drive for a big gain that started the drive on what should have been a game-winning Field Goal. attempt. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was not targeted once even though he was on the field for numerous pass plays. The Chiefs did not design anything to get him involved in the passing game (screens, wheel routes, etc). Ceded more playing time to Jerick McKinnon, specifically on pass downs. Darrel Williams is mostly ineffective outside of vulturing the one goal-line carry/TD opportunity.

Tyreek Hill was completely kept in check. Baltimore stayed back the entire game and forced everything underneath. 

Mecole Hardman had multiple opportunities to make plays down the field. Was missed or simply didn’t make a play when the ball was there.

The Chief’s run defense stinks. Frank Clark clearly ineffective not close to 100%. Chris Jones pretty much neutralized. Despite the two interceptions, Mathieu is also not 100%.

Chiefs let the Ravens off the hook multiple times not being able to get the timely stop, Mahomes’ 1st career interception in September and of course Clyde Edwards-Helaires fumble.” – Josh Moore

New England

Jakobi Meyers is the WR1 for this offense. They’ll be spreading it around but you could tell they’re still easing Mac Jones into the offense. He led the team with 63 air yards, and it seemed that he’s the guy Mac trusts when he wants to go deep (two targets of 20+ air yards), he’d be a guy I’d want to flex in deeper leagues in projected negative Game Script games once Mac looks ready to open it up.

 It’s going to be difficult to project TE usage, but from the looks of this game Jonnu Smith is used more like a gadget (motion, backfield snaps, screens/short drag routes) and Hunter Henry is the downfield threat (39 air yards was second on the team). Might be ugly trusting either in fantasy lineups but Henry should lead the two in air yards every week, which is the type of sticky stat that we like.

Kendrick Bourne played a lot of snaps and was used in the slot and out wide. This isn’t going to be an offense where we can trust more than 2 receivers given White, Henry, and Smith’s usage in the passing game, but his workload is something to note going forward (ran a route on 24 of 30 snaps played).

James White is going to get enough work to be a weekly flex consideration (the bonafide pass-down and 2-minute drill back).

Lastly, and we kinda already knew this, Damien Harris is the bell cow back and going to get plenty of work each week since this team is dedicated to running the ball.” – Matt Babich

Atlanta

The Falcons line did a little better job of protection/run blocking this week. I love what Matt Ryan has done for the team/franchise, but his inability to push the ball downfield really caps their playbook. Most of the receiving yards come after the catch. And I don’t know if it’s because he shares a backfield with Mike Davis, but Cordarrelle Patterson looked surprisingly athletic this week.” – Jerel Bawayan

Minnesota

“In passing plays out of 21 personnel there was an odd number of times when the FB and TE would run a route and Dalvin Cook would stay in and block, which really cut out dump off opportunities for him. 

Adam Thielen was the receiver out there in 1 WR sets, though they were usually run plays and he is a strong blocker.

They were creative with alignments and motion early in the game. The motion was usually K.J. Osborn in the slot. Creative alignments included cases of RB’s and TE’s lined up out wide.

Tyler Conklin with the vast majority of snaps – especially late in the game – but Ben Ellefson was worked in to block as well as Chris Herndon.” – Darren Nelson

Arizona

“I found in pre-scouting last week’s game, and early in this game, that in 1 WR sets it was Byron Murphy out there as the sole corner. But in 3 WR sets Murphy would be in the slot. I thought that was very interesting and said something –  probably about Murphy’s versatility relative to Robert Alford and Marco Wilson. But when Wilson got hurt early it was Antonio Hamilton in the slot and Byron Murphy stayed outside. 

Very man-heavy defense.” – Darren Nelson

Houston

Cleveland needs Odell back, or someone to help stretch the field. Texans surprised me. If not for Tyrod’s injury, I think this would have been a much closer game. Not sure what that means. 

David Culley made a horrendous coaching decision early in the 2nd quarter. 3rd and 12. Pass to Cooks comes up a yard short. Hold on. Flag. Offsides on the defense. Culley elects to decline the penalty and punt on 4th and 1 from the 49-yard line instead of attempting to convert on 3rd and 7….yikes. I feel like if you decline the penalty you are setting your team up to go for it on 4th and 1 almost at midfield. Instead, David Culley decided to punt. The way the Texans offense was playing I think you had to take the penalty and try to convert on 3rd and 7. Maybe I’m looking at this wrong, but that decision makes no sense to me.” – Seth Diewold

New York Jets

Jets personnel included a lot of 2 TE sets staying back to block…the RB’s did run routes but stayed back in protection more than (anecdotally) I have observed other teams. Corey Davis and Elijah Moore were the only threats the Patriots needed to worry about, everything else seemed underneath. I know the Jets o-line was down a man and didn’t play great in week 1 but if I was a Jets fan I would have liked to see experimenting with more 11 personnel especially since Zach Wilson is mobile and their RB group is serviceable catching balls out of the backfield” – Ryan Kelly

Pittsburgh

Ben was getting hammered even when he got the ball out quick. Ugly game from the O-Line overall.” – Mark Munnell

“They rarely use two TE or two RB formations. Najee is their guy, if he is not in the backfield (which he is 90% of the time) he’s lining up in the slot. And Pat Freiermuth is becoming their other “guy”. He is a great blocker/ball catcher and is becoming a security blanket for Ben Roethlisberger. I don’t really see much of a need for Eric Ebron in the future. Runs bad routes and is not a great blocker.

There is not much of a mid-range game. Ben Roethlisberger either throws it +30 yards or under 10. And when he goes +30 he rarely connects. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster looked good – ran a lot of routes and was more involved than Chase Claypool and more efficient than Diontae Johnson. Could be a good buy-low if you get him for cheap and people are not paying attention to the Johnson situation. 

And if you are paying attention to the Diontae Johnson injury… I’d sell high on his target share and hope to get someone who is underperforming but in a better situation! (Robert Woods & Allen Robinson)” – Ahmed Hassan

Tennessee

“Tennessee uses a ton of multiple tight end sets and looks to establish the run throughout. I didn’t realize how much until now. 

A.J. Brown was missed on a few routes and he normally makes a reasonably tough catch that he dropped.

Julio is still Julio.

Nobody else really exists in this offense, especially with Anthony Firkser out. Although, Jeremy McNichols looks pretty solid when he got his chances.

I’m not sure what the stats are, but I didn’t notice a huge increase in play-action passing out of this offense.” – Teddy Roth

LA Rams

“I thought it was interesting how little the Rams changed their personnel (in comparison to the Browns which I charted last week). I see how some analysts like Tyler Higbee because of his high snap share and performance last week, but I am still stuck on a stat I saw prior to the season on how >70% of his career fantasy points have been from his monster 4-week stretch to end 2019. 

Jared Goff got T.J. Hockenson to work last week, but that’s also because of the WR void that he didn’t have in prior years with Kupp and Woods. 

Sean McVay said that Darrell Henderson has a rib cartilage injury so that would explain Sony Michel‘s uptick in snaps, particularly in the fourth quarter (10 carries to Henderson’s 1). I see a shift to RBBC and Henderson’s value drops with Michel getting more accustomed to the playbook. It may be the last time to sell “high” on Hendy. 

Last comment: Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp was not a fluke; I like his odds of finishing in the top 5 at the position at the end of the season and there’s only a couple of guys I’d flip him for.” –  Chris Reelfs

New Orleans

Jameis Winston missed a bunch of open guys. (Held the ball a lot). Didn’t seem to have as much faith in these wideouts because Ty Montgomery is not a Mike Evans level guy.

Adam Trautman was out there more than Juwan Johnson, but still, a lot was for blocking.

Brian Burns is very very good.

Either the Panther’s defensive backs are legit, or Marquez Callaway and the rest of the Saint’s wideouts are not great. Hard to tell from the angles because I was really only able to see the releases. Plus the DB’s played with a lot of cushion so I couldn’t see much once they were out of the frame.

Chris Hogan was out there more than I would’ve expected. Callaway was still the main guy in 1WR sets. I don’t know why they don’t use Deonte Harris more, he’s pretty dynamic but barely saw much work.

It was painful to watch the Saints run the ball a lot on 1st/2nd down nearly every time because it put them in bad situations where Jameis is just gonna make bonehead decisions. Also, a lot of penalties hurt the Saints offense.” – Julius Bourodimos

Dallas

“I was impressed how they won an ugly game. They threw so much to keep up with Tampa last week. This week they ran the clock out from the start of the third. They only had 3 possessions in the 2nd half.” – Adam Verdugo

Dallas: “Tony Pollard has WAY WAY WAY more juice than Zeke, doing more with fewer opportunities, looks great on evaded tackles, might be a guy we want to aggressively pursue in fantasy based off what we got outta this game.” – Christopher Bergum

Indianapolis

Carson Wentz looked good and had a little bit more time to throw this week and make some great throws until he sprained his ankle in the 4th. He also took some shots down the field which he didn’t do last week. Started to look like the old Wentz before the knee injury. The colts o-line also played a lot better, but Aaron Donald is still a monster. However, I will say this they did move Donald around to get him away from Quenton Nelson. Nelson was probably the only o-line man that Donald didn’t beat.

As for the Rams sides of things, Matthew Stafford continues to be a huge upgrade over Goff although some throws were errant. Both of the touchdowns thrown to Cooper Kupp could have been more on the mark, but Kupp made some great plays to haul them in. McVay’s system will keep Stafford putting up nice numbers.

The Colts defense was able to force pressure and got to Stafford a few times. The Rams were forced into some quick throws in order to avoid the pressure. A few great plays by DeForest Buckner too. The Colts D-line still needs to get sacks in order for the back end of the defense to play better due to the Cover 2 scheme they run.”Marc Nuzzo

Denver

“Denver dominated in all phases and most statistical categories. I will say that the big red flag to me on the offensive side of the ball was that they were just 2-11 on third down. Another thing I noticed is that Courtland Sutton was nearly unstoppable when they lined him up in the slot. Even though they only had 96 yards on the ground, the O-line and both running backs looked really good.” – Chuck Passe

Summary

We had a great Week 2, with Eight games scoring over 50 total points compared to seven in Week 1. Other key takeaways in the NFL are the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos being the only two 2-0 teams in the AFC on the shoulders of the league Passing Leader Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater, who is No. 10 in passing. As we move on to Week 3, three games are projected to hit the 50 point total line, and only one consists of undefeated teams as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to So-Fi to play the Los Angeles Rams in the late window. Let’s have a week.

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