10 things that defined the 2019 NFL season

By Sean Tyler (@seantyleruk)

Looking back at last season, there were some great games and some awful ones. Amazing throws, catches and runs. Incredible touchdowns. Last-ditch tackles. But that’s the case every year. So what were the events that really defined the campaign? Here’s the @Full10Yards take on what 2019 should be remembered for.


1. Luck finally runs out as Colts’ QB retires


The first headline of the 2019 season was written during Indianapolis’ preseason game with the Chicago Bears, when 29-year-old franchise quarterback Andrew Luck suddenly announced his retirement. Sadly, he was booed off the field at Lucas Oil Stadium as the news leaked out.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The reasons cited at an emotional press conference in August centred on the mental and physical toll of the injuries sustained during his career. Referring to the seemingly endless cycle of injury and rehab, he said “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game… and the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football. It’s the hardest decision of my life but it is the right one.”

Touted as a generational talent, the Stanford QB was selected as the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft as the successor to Peyton Manning. He immediately delivered, leading the Colts to the playoffs in his first three seasons without missing a start. His best season, 2014, saw him throw an NFL-leading 40 touchdowns as Indy reached the AFC Championship game.

But during his final four years, he missed 26 games and played in pain most of the time. He tore abdominal muscles, rib cartilage and a labrum, lacerated a kidney, suffered concussion and, in what was probably the final straw, endured a mystery ankle issue that was never resolved.

Despite an injury-blighted 2015, he signed a $140m extension to become the highest-paid player in the NFL, but then missed all of 2017. The four-time Pro-Bowler came back with a career-high 4,593 yards in 2018, and finished his career with 23,761 yards (third on the Colts’ all-time list) and 171 touchdowns.


2. Player holdouts become a thing


The 2019 season saw more NFL holdouts than ever before. Skipping training camp seemed to be an increasingly common and effective tactic as players tried following in the footsteps of Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack.

There are several reasons why players hold back their services and demand a trade: it’s usually about money so each franchise needed to weight up whether keeping the player active benefits either party in the long run. And in 2019, the results were mixed.

Take Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon from the LA Chargers. With two years left on his rookie deal, Zeke held out through August and got a six-year, $90m contract extension for his troubles. Gordon didn’t. He was looking to prove his value though his absence but the Chargers dug their heels in and leaned on Austin Ekeler instead. Gordon, in the fifth year of his rookie deal, caved after a few weeks of cat and mouse, and slinked back into the fold in late September when his request fell on deaf ears.

Despite being set to make a paltry $1.1 million in 2019, Saints star wideout Michael Thomas was adamant that he wouldn’t hold out, but he did. But boy, did it pay off. Negotiations led to a $100m, five-year deal – a new record for a receiver.

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The Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney also had a deal below market value so he sat out all of preseason, prompting a trade to the Seahawks days before the start of the campaign, while the Jaguars’ defensive end Yannick Ngakoue refused to attend minicamp and preseason workouts until his contract was resolved.

There were also two holdouts not driven by the dollar: Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey demanded a trade after a touchline bust-up with head coach Doug Marrone during their Week 2 game against Houston, and Washington tackle Trent Williams sat out the entire year due to the way he believed the Redskins medical staff handled a health scare. 

To me, saying you won’t play till you get what you want feels like a spoilt child sulking and stamping their feet. Then again, it might be worth a try if you’re gonna get paid $100 million to zip it.


3. Antonio Brown quits the NFL


The former Pittsburgh wide receiver had a difficult 2019 to say the least. Having bounced around three different teams in under a year, he tried to claim back around $40 million in unpaid wages, fines, guarantees and bonuses from the Raiders and the Patriots.

Lynne Sladky/AP

Oakland acquired him from the Steelers but cut him before Week 1, creating a flurry of complaints concerning fines, lost guaranteed money and a $1m signing bonus voided because he was axed prior to playing a regular season game. Picked up by the Patriots just hours later, Brown is also attempting to salvage his unpaid Week 1 salary plus another $9m signing bonus, accusing the franchise of breach of contract. Then there’s the two (unsuccessful) grievances he filed against the NFL while disputing the ban on his preferred style of helmet.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Brown was also accused of sexual assault by his former trainer, Britney Taylor, while another woman accused him of sexual misconduct and sending intimidating text messages. Brown strenuously denies the charges but that final claim tipped the scales for the Pats. He was released after just 11 days and one game.

Soon after, AB84 hit social media saying he wasn’t going to play in the NFL any more, as team owners can obviously cancel whatever deals they liked. He also took pot-shots at Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Steelers teammate Ben Roethlisberger, who had both been linked with scandals in the past without much fall-out.

The investigations rumble on but whatever the eventual outcome, the league has lost a star. The 31-year-old was one of football’s most prolific offensive players with the Steelers, where his 686 catches and 9,145 receiving yards were the highest totals for a receiver over a six-year span. But it has also lost a troubled soul. Let’s hope he gets the support and professional help he needs.


4. Kaepernick holds a weird workout


Colin Kaepernick is undoubtedly a divisive figure. At his peak, the quarterback led the 49ers to consecutive NFC championship games but in his last season, the Niners went 2-14. He has been out of the league since 2016 after kneeling during the national anthem – a protest against police brutality on people of colour. Since then, there has been no love lost between the player and the NFL.

Having settled a lawsuit with the NFL in February after claiming teams blanked him in retaliation for his protests, the league organised an out-of-the-blue, take-it-or-leave-it tryout for Kaepernick in mid-November. He was given just two hours to accept. A work-out for 25 teams was scheduled to start at the Atlanta Falcons’ training complex but amid bickering over terms and conditions, Kap pulled out and held his own private workout at a high school in Georgia, 60 miles away. About six representatives made it to the new location in time.

Carmen Mandato, Getty Images

The workout was clearly a PR stunt by the NFL – probably in an attempt to deflect criticism of their treatment of Kaepernick – but it was his only shot to get in front of scouts. As a free agent, he is eligible to sign with any team and at the time, several potential suitors were being mooted.

Regardless of the motivations behind it, one guy did something out of it but it wasn’t Kaepernick. Jordan Veasy, one of the receivers used in the workout, was subsequently signed to the Redskins’ practice squad, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.


5. A new position is invented: the quarterback-up


How many quarterbacks saw game time in 2019? Would you believe 57? Most teams had to rely on at least one stand-in and in a few cases, more than one. Every week or two, it seemed like a franchise QB was replaced by a stand-in for one reason or another, and with varying degrees of success. 

Injuries were obviously the main reason for a swap and for some, there was hardly a blip. 41-years-young Drew Brees lost five weeks but the Saints’ stand-in Teddy Bridgewater held the fort admirably, going a perfect 5-0 in his stead. Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes also missed game time when he dislocated his kneecap against Denver, but veteran Matt Moore ably took over.

Alas, it didn’t always work out so well. Jets back-up Trevor Siemian – pressed into action when Sam Darnold contracted mono – didn’t even complete two quarters before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Luke Falk’s two subsequent starts produced 0 TDs, 3 INTs and 14 sacks. Likewise, after Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow surgery, Pittsburgh were forced to call upon Mason Rudolph and then Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges (both underdelivered) while Matthew Stafford’s deputies were Jeff Driskel (0-3) and then David Blough. The undrafted rookie had a blinding first few minutes, throwing TD passes against the Bears on his first two possessions, but the rest of his five-game run was ‘sub-optimal’.

Retirement also played it part, with the Colts forced to start Jacoby Brissett after Andrew Luck retired, while the Giants hastened the changing of the guards just two weeks into the season, subbing in Daniel Jones at the expense of the outgoing Eli Manning.

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But for many teams, starting QBs were benched left, right and centre purely due to their performance. After a mediocre stretch in Miami, Ryan Tannehill took the Titans’ starting job from an underwhelming Marcus Mariota in mid-season and promptly went 9-4, including two on-the-road playoff victories at New England and Baltimore. With 22 TDs and 6 INTs, Tannehill went from ‘work in progress’ for the Dolphins to Comeback Player of the Year in Tennessee.

Back in Miami, Josh Rosen floundered for six games, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick to pick up the pieces and win five games (despite the team being in full rebuild mode) while in Washington, journeyman Case Keenum paved the way for young buck Dwayne Haskins, the possible future of the franchise. In contrast, Ryan Finley really isn’t the future in Cincinnati. Andy Dalton was benched with the Bengals at 0-8 but the rookie was beyond terrible. After three more painful losses, Dalton was restored.

Likewise for the Panthers, Cam Newton’s injury gave Kyle Allen his chance. After four wins in four starts, he was sacked seven times by the 49ers (with a painful 28.9 passer rating) in Week 8, and was replaced by Will Grier. But he was even worse in his two starts: amid a flurry of interceptions, fumbles and sacks, Carolina lost both by 32 points.

There was one other guy I deliberately haven’t mentioned, as he deserves an entry of his own, so let’s move on… 


6. Minshew Mania


Having signed a $88m deal to become Jacksonville’s QB1, Nick Foles went down with a shoulder injury in Week 1. The Jaguars needed a new hero. Step forward sixth-round draft pick Gardner Minshew II.

The rookie put the Jags’ first W on the board in his second start, a Thursday night win over the Titans, and by the end of September, he’d been named Offensive Rookie of the Month, having thrown for 905 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in four games. The Jags were 4-5 when he handed the reins back to Foles but not before “Minshew Mania” had taken hold.

Not all heroes wear capes; some wear helmets and cleats. And on their days off, they wear aviators, headbands and cut-off denim ‘jorts’. Aided by giveaways of fake moustaches at home games, fans dressed themselves and their kids as Minshew. His distinctive look even became the Halloween costume of choice. With plans for his own fashion range, Minshew has since filed trademark applications for several terms, including Minshew Mania.

Somewhat appropriately for our moustachioed maverick, the mania ended in November (see the UK men’s health campaign Movember to see why), when Nick Foles returned. However, Minshew wasn’t quite done, replacing the former Eagle halfway through a 28-11 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 13.

Looking beyond the hype and hysteria, Minshew racked up 3,217 yards, 21 TDs and six INTs in 14 appearances, and oversaw all six of Jacksonville’s wins. Solid enough production to reassure fans, should he be called upon again.


7. Myles Garrett loses his head


As we all know (*cough*), Rule 12, Article 17 of the NFL rulebook states: “A player may not use a helmet … as a weapon to strike, swing at, or throw at an opponent.”

Well, eight seconds from the end of Cleveland’s fractious 21-7 victory over Pittsburgh in November, that’s exactly what occurred. Steelers QB Mason Rudolph had just completed a pass when he was engulfed by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. The players shoved each other, then wrestled and grabbed each other’s face masks. The top draft pick from 2017 pulled Rudolph’s helmet off and clobbered him over the head with it.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

The ensuing melee led to three immediate ejections, followed by fines for both teams and suspensions for the main protagonists. Garrett’s indefinite ban for his actions – termed “totally unacceptable and inexcusable” by coaches, players and pundits alike – was only rescinded after the season ended. And he had previous: Garrett had already been handed a $50,000 fine for punching a Titans player and two roughing-the-passer penalties against the Jets, one of which ended Trevor Siemian’s season.

At the time, Garret said: “I lost my cool and I regret it. I hurt my whole team.” He later stated: “A win’s a win. I don’t think it’s overshadowed by what happened.” Yeah right, fella – we’re only going to remember the result.

Contrite at the time, Browns Head Coach Freddie Kitchens added: “I’m embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It’s not good. He understands it’s totally unacceptable.” But just a couple of weeks later, Kitchens was pictured wearing a “Pittsburgh started it” T-shirt, reigniting tensions just 48 hours before the teams’ rematch. Smart.


8. The Patriots play i-spy (again)


There’s a well-known saying: “To get caught spying on your opponents once is unfortunate; to get caught twice is foolish.” OK, there isn’t, but given New England’s track record, there should be.

In early December, the Patriots acknowledged that a video crew working for them filmed the Bengals’ sideline during their game with the Browns, violating league rules in much the same way they did in 2007 during the original Spygate scandal. The Patriots admitted that a crew, making an online series titled “Do Your Job”, inappropriately filmed the field from the press box, and failed to inform the Bengals and the league of their intentions. They did, however, hand over all footage. In a statement, the Patriots accepted full responsibility for the incident (blamed on an error with credentials) but Bill Belichick distanced himself and the team from the shenanigans.

AP Photo/Gary Landers

When confronted by security, the video guy reportedly said he was an employee of Robert Kraft, not the team itself. That’s very interesting, as a key witness 12 years ago told investigators that was exactly what he’d been told to say if caught.

The seized tape apparently showed eight minutes of footage focusing on Bengals coaches signalling during the game. Sounds incriminating enough to me, especially with a game with Cincy coming up. Yet according to the NFL investigation, there was no clear evidence of the Patriots trying to gain a competitive advantage.

Maybe it was just a communication breakdown but with the Pats also at the centre of the 2015 Deflategate scandal, I can’t help thinking “there’s no smoke without fire” – and that is a well-known saying.


9. Tough Mudder comes to the NFL


In October, the Super Bowl-bound 49ers faced the Redskins at FedEx Field, holding them to 154 total yards and zero points in a 9-0 win. The game was played in appalling conditions: driving wind and rain turned the already substandard field into a quagmire, with many players struggling to keep their feet in the pooling surface water.

Not surprisingly, literally nothing of any note happened during the regulation 60 minutes (check out the box score if you like). ‘Skins QB Case Keenum made nine throws for 77 yards and Washington had -7 net yards in the fourth quarter. On the other side, Jimmy G only made 12 of 21 attempts and the game’s only points came courtesy of Robbie Gould’s boot.

That’s why the game will be remembered for what happened after the last play. Nick Bosa sacked Keenum as the clock hit zero and celebrated with a headfirst slide 10 yards across the grass. Fully embracing the conditions and their inner child, several teammates joined in. Before you knew it, a pack of white jerseys (OK, brown) were skimming across the sodden field like body-boarders.

Niners defensive end Deforest Buckner said. “It was a lot of fun. It was definitely worth it. Everybody started sliding around. It was like a bunch of little kids out there. That’s part of the game, having fun. Right now, we’re having a lot of fun.” Cornerback Richard Sherman added: “It takes you back to being a kid: you’re sloshing around and your shoes are full of water and mud. Guys had a lot of fun slipping and sliding out there.”

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

10. A new UK venue earns its spurs


Coming to London for regular season games since 2007, the NFL continues to grow over here. British fans sport flags, foam fingers, face paint and the jerseys of all 32 teams. We hang out like old friends, then scrap like alley cats for the merchandise fired into the crowd by the ‘party patrol’. And then there’s the possibility of a London-based franchise.

In 2019, we got four games for the first time as the all-singing-and-dancing Tottenham Hotspur Stadium joined Wembley as a UK International Series venue. In early October, the Oakland Raiders saw off the Chicago Bears in front of 60,463 people. The Raiders led 17-0 at half-time, the Bears fought back with 21 unanswered points but Oakland eventually triumphed 24-21.

But it wasn’t Josh Jacobs’s late TD or Gareon Conley’s game-ending interception that will stand the test of time. It was the authentic experience created by an arena built to NFL specifications that went down so well with players, coaches and fans. The dual-purpose venue has a grass football pitch (used just five days earlier for Spurs’ 7-2 Champions league defeat to Bayern Munich) that retracts beneath the stand, revealing a synthetic, NFL-ready surface. Then there’s the bespoke, super-sized locker rooms and conference suites for both teams.

Miles Willis Photography

No wonder Raiders QB Derek Carr liked it so much. “Everything is first class, every little detail,” he said afterwards.This is definitely one of, if not the best, stadiums I’ve ever been at. Bears coach Matt Nagy concurred, adding: “It blows you away – it’s absolutely phenomenal.”

Rather than borrowing a ‘soccer’ stadium like Wembley, the NFL may just have found its spiritual home on these shores.


11. And one more for luck…


We started with a story about Luck so for a purr-fect finish, we should end with one too, even if it takes us over our designated 10 items.

During the second quarter of Dallas’ Monday night game at the Giants’ MetLife Stadium on 4 November, play was delayed for a few minutes when a black cat trotted onto the field. Displaying Amari Cooper-esque speed and agility, the elusive feline evaded players, officials, stewards and security with some neat route running and play-action before heading off under one of the stands.

Game caller Kevin Harlan had a ball, providing play-by-play commentary on the moggy’s progress: “Now he’s at the five… he’s walking to the three… he’s hit the two. A state trooper has come on to the field and the cat runs into the end zone! That. Is. A. Touchdown!”

The black cat seemed to give the Giants instant bad karma, as the home side threw away a 9-3 lead to eventually lose 37-18. And for weeks afterwards, superstitious fans clocked the fact that the ‘cat’ teams – the Lions, Panthers, Bengals and Jaguars – couldn’t buy a win for love nor money. In fact, it took almost a month, when Cincy beat the Jets on 1 December, for the hex to be lifted.

Full10Lookahead – Week 5

By Tim Monk and Shaun Blundell

As Thursday Night Football kicks off, most teams are now a quarter way through the season. Don’t forget to check out Thursday’s podcast for more of a preview on the weekend’s games including the London game between the Bears and the Raiders. Look out for a piece by Lawrence on that game specifically in a day or too.

Back to the rest of the week 5 games….

Dak and Pack

This is usually a highlight on any gameweek in the season. Recent matchups have been thrillers including the famous #dezcaughtit game but the game on Sunday Night is actually quite an important one.

Both teams coming off a loss to NFC rivals, both teams have been asked a question for the first time and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond. Teams in their division have made up the ground in what initially looked like 2 teams that should comfortably see January football.

Dallas stymied by New Orleans and Green Bay outgunned at home vs Philadelphia, the loser of this game at AT&T stadium could end up having to do a bit of soul searching.

A doubtful Davante Adams for Green Bay could prove pivotal, though Rodgers usually gets production from whoever is on the field.

Defences should both enjoy decent nights but the better QB and playcalling combination should see this one through.

A win for either team and their troubles should dissipate for the short term, but the team taking the loss will be starting to feel the pressure.

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West about to get wild

Hawks vs Rams go into their NFC West tussle on TNF with quite a lot at stake.

Not only is it a fiercely contested matchup, where a win will help with the tiebreaker that may come in to paly come week 17, but both teams will be trying to catch the currently unbeaten 49ers! The Seahawks get homefield advantage and face a Rams team that were just embarrassed at home by the Bucs and the Seahawks have been anything but convincing thus far despite being 3-1.

It’s fair to say the Rams have not reached their peaks of 2018 and the cursed Super Bowl hangover seems to be there. Todd Gurley isn’t Todd Gurley, jared Goff is quite frankly not a great QB which is epitomised by an awful 500 yards passing performance.

Chris Carson has had a case of the fumbles early on, though managed to avoid that bug last week against the Cardinals and the Seahawks defence as a unit aren’t what they were a few years ago in prime legion of boom time.

How will the Rams respond? Can the Seahawks finally put in an assured performance? Plenty of storylines heading in to TNF and if last year’s games are anything to go by, should be a pretty good game for those staying up to watch it.


Daniel Jones first real test

Image Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

Daniel Jones to date has faced the defences of Tampa Bay and Washington. Pretty vanilla stuff.

Next up on the docket is a Vikings defence that have only given up a 5th best average of 15.75 pts so far this season and a 6th best 312.75 yards per game.

Jones through his 2 games as starter is 46/67, 561 yards 5 Total TDs and 2INT. Is that good vs the defences he has faced? Probably not, but he is a rookie and you can’t expect him to be putting in Tom Brady type performances (he’s already at Eli Manning level).

The same can be said for the Giants’ offensive line too. It will certainly be interesting to see how Jones copes with the opposition this early on in his career, especially with no Saquon Barkley for a  while.


AFC South is up for grabs

For the first time since the AFL/NFL merger (and this blows my mind), all teams within a division are all 2-2 through 4 games.

That means it’s all to play for and looking at week 5, the Jags face Carolina, the Colts travel to Arrowhead, the Texans are at home to the Falcons and the Titans travel to Buffalo.

As the records suggest, there’s a lot of inconsistency in the division and it’s very hard to predict who will come away with the division title and likely be 1 and done in the playoffs.

Houston are the front runners purely as they have the best QB in the division (though he is getting VERY beaten up), despite Minshew Mania taking the league by storm. Titans haven’t won the division in over a decade and are strong on defence but aren’t putting up a great deal of points and then the Colts are very hot and cold on both sides of the ball.

It will only take a couple of wins to be strung together by one of these teams to steal a march on the rest. Who can achieve that though is anyone’s guess. Houston are the bookies’ favourites at around 13/8, but in a 4 horse race and with all the other teams around 3/1, it’s a wide open affair.


Dan Quinn’s hotseat starting to burn

Image Credit: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Matty Ice and the Falcons travel to Houston this week currently sitting at 1-3 and you cant but help thinking, what a waste of talent on this team. Yes, they’ve gone to the Super Bowl (anyone remember that game for any reason?) but this team should have achieved far more than they have.


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Head Coach Dan Quinn has had his ups and downs with this team but even at this early stage, they seem up against it to make the post season. Consequently, you have to wonder whether Quinn will be back. After hosting the Super Bowl last year in their back yard, to not make the playoffs was actually quite embarrassing for the owners.

The offensive line is shoddy despite having 2 first rounders plugged in to the right hand side and Matt Ryan’s attempts through 4 games are as high as they ever have in his career. For god’s sake, Austin Hooper is fantasy relevant!

They’ve had a hard schedule thus far against the Vikings, Eagles, Colts and Titans but I’ve got more bad news, they’ve not even had a divisional game yet and this is a division that will be hard to get wins from.

Talking of divisional games, how in the hell can a team not play a divisional game until after their bye in week 9?

Regardless, you can forgive Falcons fans for thinking that it’s going to take a huge overhaul here to change their fortunes as it just seems to be the same story every year and unfortunately, their Super Bowl run seems to be the anomaly.


And Then There Were 3

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“Any given Sunday” that is definitely the mantra when it comes to a teams chances in the NFL. As we pass the quarter mark of the season only 3 teams remain not knowing what a defeat tastes like.

Many would not have been surprised to see the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs as part of this exclusive club but hands up those who had the San Francisco 49ers as the only NFC undefeated team at this stage?

Of course a bye in week 4 (how ridiculous) helps anyone’s quest to stay undefeated but all 3 open up as favourites for their week 5 matchups, so will anyone be on the wrong end of a result this week?


Can The Ravens Rebound?

Image Credit – Shawn Hubbard / baltimoreravens.com

After 2 weeks of dominant performances against inferior opposition followed by 2 weeks of poor displays the Baltimore Ravens hit the road to face old foe the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This has been a matchup down the years with huge implications on the destination of not only the AFC North crown but also playoff and tie breaker implications. The Steelers are trending upwards after notching their first W of the season on Monday Night Football as Mason Rudloph and co get to battle the wobbling Ravens defence.

Having given up over 500 yards in back-to-back games for the first time franchise history it’s that side of the ball that the Ravens need a kick start from, regardless of how good you think Lamar Jackson is or isn’t at quarterback.

Poisoned Chalice

Image Credit – Jeff Haynes / AP Photo

A quarterback currently wearing a walking boot, a quarterback who hasn’t played or practiced since training camp or a rookie quarterback who threw 2 picks on debut last week.

That is the dilemma facing Jay Gruden as he prepares to select his starting quarterback for week 5. Not exactly an ideal situation so fingers crossed that the schedule falls kindly……ooops.

Whomever gets the nod will have the leagues leading defence in the New England Patriots to combat. Having given up their first touchdown of the year last week it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see them pitch another shutout as they travel to the nation’s capital, a popular daily fantasy play again this week for sure.

Defences Matter Too

Image Credit – Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports

I make no apology for admitting I love a bruising defensive battle in today’s day and age of high scoring, heavy offence NFL.

A hard hitting, turnover hungry, physically intimidating defence sets the attitude of a team and the Buffalo Bills @ the Tennessee Titans pits 2 such units against each other. Buffalo made even Tom Brady look ordinary last week so expect Marcus Mariota to struggle to move the Titans. Buffalo is likely without Josh Allen and this represents a really tough start for Matt Barkley if that is indeed what ends up happening.

It’s a game not likely to spend much time on Scott Hanson’s read zone coverage Sunday, but expect a tight and tense battle that will likely be a 1 possession differential as the clocks hit zeroes.


Feeling Dangerous

Image Credit – Ken Blaze / USA Today Sports

A certain contributor to this regular article dubbed them the San Francisco “Phoney”Niners, this week is a true test for what they really are.

The Browns finally put it all together last weekend and head over to the West coast to close out the weeks action on Monday Night Football. This is a great barometer for both of these sides with the undefeated niners favoured at home.

It’s a bet that I will gladly take though as last week felt more of a statement than it did just a win for the men in orange and brown. The production as mentioned should continue to come from Nick Chubb on the ground but the attitude undoubtedly starts with the polarizing quarterback Baker Mayfield.

To use his own words, he “plays better with a swagger” and he is certainly portraying that as he looks to lead the Browns over 500 for the first time since Brian Hoyer was playing quarterback. 


Full10Takeaways – Week 3

By Tim Monk, Lawrence Vos and Shaun Blundell

The division standings are starting to take shape. We’re starting to see which teams and players are destined for the post season and which teams are already back at the drawing board.

Here are our main takeaways from week 3 in the NFL.

Fly (Low) Eagles Fly (Low)

Image Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

You can have everything in place; A forward thinking, risk taking GM. An analytical playcalling coaching staff and head coach coupled with all of the necessary talent in the locker room to boot.

However, results are determined on the pitch and if there talent isn’t out there, the playcalling cannot be executed to it’s maximum effectiveness.

Prior to this game, WR Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson were ruled out of this game and Dallas Goedert “gave it a go”. Include on to that list Jason Peters and 1st round pick Andrew Dillard leaving the game due to injury. Other stalwarts including Malik Jackson are done for the year too.

You can quickly see why this season is turning in to a bit of a nightmare for Philadelphia and their fans. A loss to Detroit in a game where they were behind for all of the game, still had chances to win it is a testament to their ethos and how good they are. But now staring down the barrel after falling to 1-2, travel to Lambeau on Thursday Night football and could after Sunday’s results, be 3 games back.


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Yay or Gay

Image Credit: Getty Images

In another parallel universe, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never had kicker problems.

Since Connor Barth had his troubles, it’s fair to say it’s been a big mess at the kicking position. Roberto Aguayo, Chandler Catanzaro, Nick Folk, Cairo Santos, Patrick Murray, Kyle Brindza, Rian Lindell are all names that have come in and then gone back out the door of Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs have had a new place kicker each of the last 8 seasons and whilst they all haven’t had the investment of former 2nd round pick Roberto Aguayo, they’ve all brought home the same amount of bacon (Peppa, you’re safe for now).

Matt Gay up until his last kick in the game actually has been spot on the money in this game and was 7/8 on the season.

Daniel Jones drove his New York Giants into a late lead with 1:21 left in the 4th quarter only for Jameis Winston to emphatically reply. A 44yard toss down to Mike Evans (who, as predicted on the podcast had himself A DAY!) who caught the ball at the Giants’ 9yd line. After a bit of shenanigans, the ball was placed dead center at the NYG 16yd line. 34 yards was the distance for Matt Gay to have himself a five star performance.

Unfortunately, just like many times before, it squeezed past the upright and the Buccaneers lost the game. Ultimately, I think Gay will get a bit more time as he has been fairly solid thus far, but in a world where there aren’t many highlights for kickers, this one will be in a few recap reels to add to the long notorious list in west Florida.


San Francisco Phoney9ers

Image Credit: Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

Of all the 3-0 teams, surely the 49ers are by far the most fortunate.

Easy defences beaten, backup quarterbacks and less than potent offences faced.

Yes, the 49ers have a talented HC in Shanahan, which was there for all to see last week vs Cincinnati and yes, they beefed up their defensive front to be one of the most piercing in the league to the tune of 9 combined sacks and 5 interceptions.

But I am sorry, I cannot buy the 49ers. I still think they’ll miss the playoffs.

Their schedule isn’t as accommodating as the first 3 weeks (although Pittsburgh wasn’t going to be an easy game coming in to the season) and face the Browns and the Rams in weeks 5 and 6. They also have Green Bay, Atlanta and probably a Saints team welcoming back Drew Brees still to play as well as all of their divisional games ( went 1-5 last year). I think the 49ers despite being top 5 in points for and top 10 in points against will continue to struggle and the main reason is their handsome QB, Jimmy G. Yes he’s 58/84 (69%) but that’s all primarily going to the running backs Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson due to the genius of Kyle Shanahan. Garoppolo has an adjusted Net air yards per attempt of 7.47 which is brutal combined with just 5TDs and 4INT.

In their game against the Steelers (notorious poor west coast travellers), they turned the ball over 5 times and still won. There aren’t many teams on that list, that’s for sure. Garoppolo was the culprit for 3 of those (2 INT, 1 Fumble lost) turnovers and it’s fortunate the Mason Rudolph was feeling just as generous and got absolutely nothing going.

They are on a week 4 bye and will be feeling pretty good about themselves and quite right too. After the turmoil over the past few years with Shanahan leading the team, it must be a breath of fresh air for those in the Bay area.

Of all the 3-0 teams though, the 49ers are by the least likely to make the playoffs. Yes you heard me, The Buffalo Bills will have a better chance at making the playoffs than the 49ers. Bank on it.


Not 3-0, But Still Undefeated

Image Credit – Jerry Habraken / Delaware News Journal

Did you know there is a team yet to taste defeat but without a perfect record? I ask the rhetorical question in jest as a way of illustrating just how little noise is following the currently undefeated Detroit Lions.

An opening night draw with the Arizona Cardinals has been followed up with wins against 2 teams with playoff ambitions in the Chargers and Eagles. I’m not buying into them just yet though. If you actually take a look into the game you will see that the Lions were there to capitalise on the Eagles beating themselves.

Winning in the NFL is hard, and that becomes almost impossible anytime you have to try and overcome 3 fumbles and 7 dropped passes. Fair play to the Lions for being in position to strike and I must say it was refreshing to see a kick off returned for a touchdown in todays NFL.

A win is a win however you get it and the Lions have yet to taste defeat so maybe they are better than we think. Chiefs up next though, good luck!


Can I Just Pop You On Hold?

Image Credit – David Richard / AP

Let’s all hail Tom Brady! I know it’s not an easy thing for us all to do but he possibly made the NFL much more watchable this week.

After a flag infested Thursday Night Football between the Titans and Jags, Brady tweeted his displeasure at the amount of times yellow laundry was thrown onto the field by officials. Fast forward to Sunday and the difference in the officiating was huge. Including the Thursday Night Football game there had been 188 flags thrown for offensive holding in the opening 33 contests.

On the Sunday games there were only 41 offensive holding flags thrown, or to put it another way – half as many on average. Yes the rules already favour offences but seeing every other play called back by a flag had become incredibly frustrating and following a conference call between officials on Friday we saw big changes this weekend.

Lets hope this continues moving forwards as a flowing game is a better game.


Cooking Up A Storm

Image Credit – Elizabeth Flores / Star Tribune

I called out in last weeks look ahead that the Vikings needed to get back to pounding the rock and limiting what they ask Kirk Cousins to do.

Well they did just that this weekend and let me throw it out there now, Dalvin Cook is in the conversation as the league’s best running back.

Averaging nearly 7 yards per carry for his 110 rushing yards and adding a team leading 4 receptions for 33 yards he found the endzone for the 4th time this year. Before you think I’m jumping onto a bandwagon early, bear in mind Adrian Peterson spent 10 years with Vikings, yet Dalvin Cook is the first ever Viking to rush for 100 yards in 3 straight games to open the season. He is doing things nobody has done before him and with the Vikings gameplan (36 rushes/21 passes) favouring the run he has a chance to be the leagues leading rusher.

He has immense power but also great speed with the ability to hit a home run every time he gets the carry, Vikings fans should be excited.


Filling up your Kupp

Image Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

If you stayed awake throughout this year’s Super Bowl snooze fest you came away with one abiding memory, that of Julian Edelman catching everything that came near him.

Possession receivers can have a huge impact on a game’s outcome, keeping the chains moving and helping drain the clock. Perhaps the personification of a powerful possession receiver was on display Sunday night as the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cleveland Browns.

Rams WR Cooper Kupp, who was injured in the 2018 regular season and unable to perform post-season plays, was pretty perfect in Week 3. His two touchdowns were the difference in the game, and his exquisite route-running made Jared Goff look like a Montana/Brady-esque clone. It’s absolutely no coincidence that with a fit Kupp performing wonders as a slot machine the Rams are now 3-0.

Todd Gurley may still not be right but Kupp has come back from a season ago stronger, faster and determined to prove he can be a difference maker.


Hey mr D.J. can you play that tune every week please?

Image Credit: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

When draft aficionados collectively sent their thumbs in a southerly direction when the New York Giants drafted QB Daniel Jones in the first round of the draft, I don’t think they were expecting him to be starting Week 3 as a rookie.

The agony for Big Blue fans was finally buried when they pulled Eli Manning from the starting line-up last week, opting for the Duke gunslinger. OK Jones’s win in his debut was delivered courtesy of his opponents missing a last-gasp field goal but putting up over 30 points, 353 passing yards, two scores by air and by ground and no picks in your debut is a pretty positive experience. Jones, the 2019 Senior Bowl MVP was given such bad treatment by the media that it’s a surprise he wasn’t psychologically scarred for life.

Thing is, wins have a funny habit of erasing pigskin prognostication, and by the look of the glowing pro-Jones headlines in the New York daily newspaper he has already won over some of his harshest critics.

Here’s a stat attack for you: Daniel Jones was the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era with 300+ pass yards, 2+ pass TDs and 2+ rush TDs in a game. At 18 points in the hole, he led the Giants to their biggest comeback since 1970 whilst being under pressure on 47% of his dropbacks (3rd highest of Week 3). Eli Manning was 0-44 in games where he trailed by 18 points. Maybe Gettleman DID have a plan afterall….?

With Saquon Barkley injured for around a month, October will be a tough test for the 1-0 rookie.


Hey Cam, take ALL(EN) the time you need

Image Credit: Ralph Freso / Getty Images

If you are an ‘All or Nothing’ fan you would have seen how tough Cam Newton was, playing hurt for the vast majority of the campaign, before finally succumbing to a pine ride in Week 17. The quarterback who filled in for the Carolina Panthers was Kyle Allen, who looked solid if not spectacular.

Fast forward to 2019 Week 3 and Allen made his second start, this time producing a stat-line and a victory that will be hard to forget. Four touchdowns was impressive, but this has to be put into context this was against a poor Cardinals pass defense without the presence of All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson. Allen did complete 73% of his passes on Sunday and was not intercepted, but he faces a tougher test against the J.J. Watt led Texans in Week 4.

With the news this week that Cam Newton may have a Lisfranc injury and is definitely out this weekend Allen will be hoping to build on his impressive season debut. The ageless Panthers TE Greg Olsen, who is probably held together by frog-tape and bits of soldering iron, will be relishing catching balls from someone who is younger, more accurate and less crocked than Cam.


Burger me – I’ll take a Big Mack and a Terry Mc

Image Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Monday Night Football may have witnessed a stunning second quarter from Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel, who became the first player in MNF history to catch three touchdowns in a single quarter of play, but his performance was shadowed by his Tottenham bound colleague Khalil Mack who dominated from start to finish. Mack recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles as Case Keenum handed out turnovers like Thomas Cook did P45’s this week.

Elsewhere there was a small crumb of comfort for Redskins fans as rookie 3rd round selection Terry McLaurin became the first player in NFL history to record five catches and a touchdown in his first three NFL regular season games. If Mitch Trubisky continues to take what he is given, through intermediate routes to Allen Robinson, Gabriel and Anthony Miller (who has not yet shone this year) then this is a playoff bound team.

The defense is scary, and whilst the Washington offensive line was not the toughest test, this is a team that is a decent kicking game from an NFC Championship.