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  • Plus, the silver lining for the Cowboys in Denver, an embarrassing performance from a Seahawks offensive lineman, a diamond in the rough in New England’s pass rush and more
By Andy Benoit
September 22, 2017

1. From a pure “throwing the ball” standpoint, the first three series of the Patriots-Saints game last Sunday might have been the best three-series sequence of Tom Brady’s career. Brady was 11 of 15 for 177 yards and three touchdowns on those drives. He made several incredible throws with the pocket closing down, including multiple downfield throws that he couldn’t step into. His accuracy was pinpoint. What always stands out with Brady—or, maybe, doesn’t stand out, since it’s so subtle—is how little he moves in the pocket. He won’t relocate unless absolutely necessary, and when he does he covers the minimum amount of ground needed. No QB is more poised in the pocket.

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

2. The Patriots’ only discernable weakness is their pass rush. Aside from the technically sound Trey Flowers (who was kept quiet last Sunday by the Saints), there isn’t a dynamic threat. Or, we didn’t think there was, anyway. Keep an eye on fourth-round rookie Deatrich Wise Jr. He’s long and can bend the corner. He beat Saints left tackle Andrus Peat multiple times off the edge and also showed glimmers of inside pass rushing prowess.

3. On the bright side for Dallas last Sunday, first-year starting right tackle La’el Collins frequently went up against Von Miller one-on-one and, for the most part, survived. It wasn’t always pretty; Miller did heat up a bit in the fourth quarter (he tends to do that). Collins must get better at maintaining foot movement after making contact. But all in all, it was an encouraging outing for Dallas’s talented 24-year-old.

4. Trevor Siemian was roundly praised after beating the Cowboys, but his performance looked better on TV than it did on film. At times, Siemian played with disorderly vision and left several open receivers untargeted downfield. With Denver’s ground game rolling (178 yards on the day) and its defense dominating, Siemian settled in, but there was still plenty for offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and he to discuss in the film room on Monday.

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5. I don’t know if Travis Kelce is a better tight end than Rob Gronkowski right now, but Kelce is more valuable to the Chiefs than Gronkowski is to the Patriots. Kelce is key to Kansas City’s formational diversity and to much of the offense’s misdirection concepts. He has also developed into a terrific run-blocker, both on the move and up on the line of scrimmage.

6. You can’t replace Eric Berry, but the Chiefs defense so far has carried on well in his absence. New dime safety Eric Murray was fine in matchup coverages against the Eagles last week, while Daniel Sorensen, who took over Berry’s spot in base packages, turned the game in Kansas City’s favor with his fourth-quarter blitzing.

7. Jameis Winston is fun to watch on film. Several times a game, he forces you to rewind by throwing into tight windows that you’d looked away from, assuming the ball couldn’t go there. He completes a lot of these (albeit, sometimes to the other team). Winston has a chance to be great. Against Chicago, he was particularly sharp in pre-snap blitz identification. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio rarely blitzes. When he did last Sunday, it was from the slot, and Winston quickly converted against it.

8. It feels like only a matter of time before Mike Glennon, the man Winston replaced in Tampa, gets replaced in Chicago. Glennon throws well when he has a clean platform. But when the pocket gets muddy, anything can happen. His two interceptions against Tampa Bay were both to underneath defenders in straight zone coverages. If John Fox is willing to live with that, he might as well play Mitchell Trubisky and at least chalk up the mistakes to a young QB’s learning experience.

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9. Seattle’s O-line has a long, long way to go. That especially pertains to new left tackle Rees Odhiambo. His performance early against San Francisco was, quite frankly, embarrassing. He was passive in pass protection, which is a problem when you don’t have long arms. To Odhiambo’s credit, he fought through and was competitive in the second half. Still, there’s a lot of work to be done.

10. What doesn’t need work in Seattle is the defensive line; it’s the best we’ve seen under Pete Carroll. Mainstays Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are still in their prime. Third-year pro Frank Clark is entering his prime and might be the quickest of the bunch. Ex-Jet Sheldon Richardson has settled in nicely as a 3-technique. And, not to be overlooked, last year’s second-round pick, Jarran Reed, is fast ascending. Reed has grown-man strength and great feet for a 306-pounder. A natural nose-shade tackle, he’s becoming a quality nickel pass rusher. If Seattle’s brass had fully expected that when drafting Reed, they wouldn’t have waited until Round 2 to get him.

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