Week 3 – NFC Game Analyst News and Notes

by Cody Carpentier, September 29, 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.

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Atlanta

This team was built to play underneath the safeties with an emphasis on the run game and YAC. That combination is the ideal fit for Cordarrelle Patterson. Matt Ryan has a very low ADOT, and it seems to be by design and them leveraging his lack of a deep ball. This is another reason why it wasn’t ideal to keep Julio as his threat to take the top off the secondary was minimized and he began running more slants and dig routes than 9’s.
Kyle Pitts is fast, not quick. He is built for the deep ball and fade. Ridley, Llama-Day(JAG), and Tajae (Stevie Johnson without the Deep Ball), can all run the short to intermediate route tree that fits this system and specifically, Matt. They are not going to scare any secondary with a solid CB1, in this case, Bradberry, whose metrics are superior to Ridley and he was able to shadow Ridley across the formations.  The defense can key in on Pitts because he pops out with his Size/Speed ratio and is a deep ball threat. Unfortunately, he’s not being utilized enough as a Big X, isolated on the island one-on-one with whoever, with Ridley at Z. They can open this offense and still hit underneath plays to the YAC-monster Patterson, and Mike Davis and force Cover 2 corners to come up and hit. Consequently, taking those deep shots and deep comebacks.
Hayden Hurst must be in someone’s dog house. They are not using him in the receiving game nearly as much as advertised.  He’s someone that can stretch the seam while they set up the draw or the 1-1’s on the edge with Pitts and Ridley. Until Matt starts pushing the ball down the field, this team will struggle to move the ball.
The Falcons will come out with running formation personnel and use play-action with delayed blockers who release underneath giving Matt five pass catchers to choose from with nobody to take the top off the defense. His lack of confidence behind the line causes him to not step up and minimize DOT yards lost. This costs the Falcons precious hidden yardage and they end up with 3rd & Long situations that this team is not built for.
Once Martinez went with down the torn ACL, there was more emphasis on inside run plays and NYG may get exposed in that department, especially having key injuries to so many of their offensive weapons who maximize their Time of Possession.
When Lee Smith is on the field, it’s a run or a screen. They don’t do a good job at disguising this unless they’re setting up New Orleans for some kind of trick play down the line since that’s when they decide to dig in their bag for plays like a trick-or-treater.
While on that, Feleipe Franks lining up in the Dirty Bird formation proves they know they need a mobile QB for this system just like Coach Smith had with Ryan Tannehill. A bonafide QB like Deshaun Watson would be a good target as he can run this offense with the read-option/low ADOT passes. The read-option will save hits on Cordarrelle Patterson and soften the defense with Mike Davis (Hello Alfred Morris Jr.).  He is also mobile enough to stay alive long enough to take shots at Pitts and Ridley. Arthur Blank may not have developed the mettle to pull the trigger stemming from his PTSD with controversial QBs. But if this is the direction this offense is taking, he should take a shot and bring the hometown kid home after passing on Fields. – Brian King

Arizona

Sometimes Kliff looks like an idiot and other times he looks like an offensive genius. Also, DeAndre Hopkins won’t be used if he is injured and they have a good enough lead. James Conner looks like the goal line running back and is getting more efficient. Finally, Kyler needs to stop with the interceptions, it kills drives every game. – Miles Brooke

Chicago

 This was a poor showing from Justin Fields, but he had no shot. Nagy called a bad game and the O-line was horrific. Myles Garrett was swimming behind the O-Line. Cole Kmet is the starter and playing almost every snap. No other takeaways from this game, other than I hope Nagy gets out of Chicago ASAP. – Jason Hummel

Detroit

Quintez Cephus and Kalif Raymond further separated themselves as the WR1 and 2 while Amon-Ra St. Brown fell deeper into a gross rotation at WR3. This was furthered by an increase in 12 and 13 personnel for Detroit. T.J. Hockenson was surprisingly not on Jared Goff‘s radar, leaving room for Raymond to draw 10 targets while every other WR only garnered 1. D’Andre Swift continued to assert himself as the go-to playmaker for this offense. Despite playing a season-low snap percentage he racked up over 100 yards and a 100% catch rate, making explosive plays from the backfield and from out wide. – Caleb Jensen

Tampa Bay

The Bucs should never rush the ball, Ronald Jones is awful and should not be getting snaps over Leonard Fournette or Gio Bernard.
The Bucs also had their first rushing TD of the year and it was from…Chris Godwin…just goes to show how bad the rushing attack is this year.
Jalen Ramsey is also a very good football player who can do WHATEVER the defense needs and seemed to be everywhere on the field making plays. – DJ McAdams

Carolina

Sam Darnold is showing his ability to throw accurately on the run–he looks like a QB capable of supporting multiple weapons. Terrace Marshall Jr. had a SIGNIFICANT increase in snaps from the beginning of the game. The increased snap count was not a product of garbage time. While his big catch came in the 4th, there were numerous plays where Marshall got open. It looked to me like he had a good understanding of finding the right areas in zone coverage that created a lot of space for Moore. That should have earned him more trust going forward. Tommy Tremble flashed for a big catch and a TD, and should also see increased usage with Dan Arnold getting traded for CJ Henderson (an absolute steal).  – Gabriel Skora

Minnesota

With Dalvin Cook out the Vikings ran essentially the same offense with Alexander Mattison in the backfield utilizing a heavy dose of run plays and screens.  He can be safely started in season-long and DFS when Cook is out going forward.
K.J. Osborn didn’t have the production he had the last 2 games but still played a high snap share and is the clear WR3 and 3rd option in the passing game for the offense.  He will have dips in production like this as the Minnesota offense is run first and has two dominant Wide Receivers in Thielen and Jefferson but Osborn will see more games similar to his week 1 and 2 output.  He should be owned in 12 team leagues and a possible punt option for DFS when the Game Total is high.
For the first time in 3 games, the Minnesota Defense finally got some stops in the second half of the game.  It is unclear how this will translate going forward though as they have notoriously high home/road splits in their production and it was only one half as they were getting rolled on by Seattle both on the ground and through the air to start the game. – Jared Michelizi

Dallas

The Cowboys look real deal good, like Super Bowl contender good, and the Eagles were just out-gunned. – Jake Trentman

New York Giants

Kadarius Toney looked exciting in his few touches this game, which is something you can’t really say about many other offensive pieces for the Giants. He *should* get increased playing time with several other WRs getting injured this week, but they need to manufacture touches for him which is something they don’t seem willing to do. Still sort of a confusing draft pick. Hopefully, they figure out how best to use him soon. – James Peterman

San Francisco

Brandon Aiyuk is alive! He played on 55 of the team’s 66 snaps and ran routes on 38 of those snaps. He wasn’t that far off from Deebo’s usage (58 snaps; 40 routes run), but Aiyuk’s targets typically were farther upfield than Deebo’s. Aiyuk also had at least about 3-4 end zone targets. His touchdown was over Jaire Alexander and he had another one at the end of the first half that he simply dropped. I think it’s safe to put Aiyuk back in your lineups, especially next week against Seattle.

Also, I wasn’t overly impressed by Trey Sermon. It seems like Kyle Shanahan still doesn’t fully trust him, evidenced by Kyle Juszczyk getting a ton of reps in the backfield, especially in passing and high-leverage situations. When he did get the ball, he didn’t make it a habit to shake defenders all that much. As someone who has been on the Elijah Mitchell train from the beginning, watching Trey Sermon play didn’t exactly have me shook at the thought he’d take Mitchell’s gig away. I’d try to buy low on Mitchell if you can.

Lastly, I don’t think this is a super big deal, but it is something I noticed. George Kittle played 65 of the team’s 66 snaps but ran fewer routes than both Deebo Samuel & Brandon Aiyuk and the same number as Mohamed Sanu (33). There were a few plays where Kittle would stay as a blocker while and lesser options would run routes, which seemed odd to me. Kittle is still a monster of a football player, but the number of times he’d block on pass plays was a little curious. – Shervon Fakhimi

Seattle

Well, Freddie Swain and Gerald Everett are new components to the Seahawks’ offense. Charting left me somewhat surprised how often Swain was on the field and how often Everett was lined up as a receiver, both in the slot and lined out wide.

I’ve always felt the Seahawks were slow starters and strong finishers. It’s been quite the opposite the last two weeks. Russell fizzled in overtime in week 2 — quick three and out. This week, with just under 12min to play in the 4th quarter — down by 10 — it had the feeling of that Russell magic, but Russ missed and overthrew a wide-open F. Swain running across the middle of the field on a big 3rd down.

Minnesota proceeded to dominate the time of possession, which they had been doing for most of the game. It was roughly a 24 – 36 split in terms of the time of possession in favor of Minnesota. The Seahawks put up a quick 17 points with 11:12 to play in the 2nd quarter and wouldn’t score again. After that, we wouldn’t sustain a drive longer than 6 plays and we wouldn’t hold the ball any longer than 2:46 during any one possession. After the 11:12 mark in the 2nd quarter, they possessed the ball for 31min to our 10.

The Seahawks were also victims of a missed field goal — something the Vikings had been on the wrong side of in previous clashes.

However, the offense wasn’t all to blame. You can’t allow 171 scrimmage yards to backup Alexander Mattison and expect to win. The Seahawks couldn’t seem to find an answer to the Vikings’ designed screenplays and dump-offs to Mattison.

The Vikings and Kurt Cousins do deserve credit. They were far more efficient on 3rd downs 9-14-64% vs 3-8-38%. One particularly difficult conversion came on 3rd & 5 in the 4th quarter with 8:20 to play. Cousins was facing extreme pressure from an unblocked Cody Barton and managed to put the ball in the perfect spot for a crossing K.J. Osborn to convert the 1st down.

Ultimately, I just hope the loss isn’t compounded by injury. Metcalf, Carson, Lockett, and Jordyn Brooks all got banged up in this one. Hopefully, those guys can rehab, recover, and be back out there for week 4. – Justin Edminster

New Orleans

 Great defense, able to get pressure on Mac Jones all day. Post-Lasik, Jameis Winston‘s decision-making still remains highly questionable. No legitimate offensive threats outside of Kamara, this offense desperately needs Michael Thomas to return. – Jaylan Glenn

Atlanta

Matt Ryan had a solid outing but the lack of downfield throws and under-utilization of both Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts made it extremely difficult for the offense to get rolling.  They rely on short passing and YAC for pretty much every single play.  As we can see from the first 3 weeks, that philosophy is not an offensive-friendly one.

Ryan did focus in on Ridley, but most of those were not in positions where he could produce massive numbers.  The lack of targeting Pitts is concerning.  He was split out as a WR even more with the absence of Russell Gage, but Ryan did not seem to look his way.  His day would have looked a little better if they could have connected in the red zone, but Ryan sailed one pass and on the second try NYG committed a PI to prevent the TD grab.  We can only hope that is a sign of better things to come.  The Mike Davis/Cordarrelle Patterson split will remain as Arthur Smith seems to have found ways to utilize both pretty well with Davis handling more of the rushing attempts and Patterson handling more of the receiving work.

Outside of the Ridley, Pitts, Davis, Patterson foursome, nobody else seems to make an impact.  Lee Smith did catch a TD but finds his way on the field more so for blocking purposes.  Whoever is the WR2 between Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus for the week will get targets, but will be hard for them to produce in such a sluggish offense. – Taylor Greenhut

San Francisco

In football, an idiom I always like to follow is “pay attention to how teams finish halves”. It’s usually a great indicator of coaching staff settling in and finding their groove. Nothing could be truer for the 49ers against the Packers this week. Only converting their 2nd 1st down with 9:52 left in the 2nd quarter they rallied back to find a way to score just before the half and head into halftime down 17-7 and getting the ball back in the 2nd half. The rest of the game would turn into what most of us expected as SF marched down and scored a TD on their opening drive and the game turned into a back and forth contest.

If I was Team Trey Lance I’d be incredibly frustrated watching Jimmy G throw multiple passes 3-5 yards behind the line of scrimmage and get sacked on bubble screens and while having to hear Trey needs time to study and get a feel for the game. – Trenton Midby

Washington

The Washington Offense as a whole was low volume on Sunday. Antonio Gibson showed why he should get more volume in the passing attack with his 73-yard house call but this game did nothing to dismiss the notion that J.D. McKissic will continue to be the primary option on passing downs. There will be better days as a whole for the offense but as of now you only want Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, and Logan Thomas. – Robert Kelley

Summary

Through three weeks, it’s all but clear that Dallas is the team in the NFC East after multiple disappointing games from Philadelphia and Washington. After trailing 17-7 to Seattle, Minnesota went on a 23-0 run in week 3 to defeat Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Biggest question mark in the NFC right now has to be Carolina and New Orleans… what are they? New Orleans is tied for the lead of the NFL in Net TDs with 6 with Buffalo. Defeating Green Bay, and New England while losing to the Panthers in Week 2. While the aforementioned Carolina Panthers opened with two home games and a road game against the worst team in football. Carolina has a tough stretch in Dallas, Philly, and Minnesota from Week 4-6 before and Week 15-18 that features Buffalo, Tampa, New Orleans, and Tampa. I am not confident in Carolina is as real as they look, I still believe they are a year early on being real competition come January.

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