First and 10: On Carson Wentz, Dion Jordan and the Jets Dance to Anything Craze
1. The Eagles have indeed used some spread concepts (they’ve built in run/pass options) to get Carson Wentz playing faster, and one advantage is being harvested on the offensive line. Second-year tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai is starting in place of injured left tackle Jason Peters. Vaitai came from the TCU spread, and so the Eagles get Lane Johnson’s new bookend playing pretty competently.
2. Lions LT Taylor Decker’s return to the lineup, whether it happens this week or next, will fly under the radar. But it shouldn’t. Detroit believes its 2016 first-rounder, injury-permitting, is an All-Pro waiting to happen, and his presence will change the dynamic for the other four guys on the line. With each of the other NFC North teams having QB issues, Detroit’s in a pretty good spot.
3. As Teddy Bridgewater nears his return, I’m reminded how Vikings GM Rick Spielman described the comeback to me: “It wasn’t just a regular ACL, it was potentially, we thought, a career-ending injury. But his demeanor never changed. I’m sure he had his up days and his down days going through the process. But his demeanor never changed.” That, it seems, has served Bridgewater well.
4. For three years, we’ve been arguing what level of good Redskins QB Kirk Cousins is. And the truth is, it doesn’t get much better than the two throws he made to beat the Seahawks in Seattle last Sunday inside the final two minutes of the game—first a 31-yarder to Brian Quick, then a 38-yarder to Josh Doctson. Both were downfield, and difficult with the rush coming, and Cousins nailed each.
5. Ezekiel Elliott’s status is still up in the air, so it’s worth repeating the tentative plan should his suspension be enforced—Alfred Morris would become the lead back, with Darren McFadden rotating in, and Rod Smith chipping in on third down.
6. Things remain imperfect for the Falcons offense, and the closer we get to the end of the season, the more questions will be raised on the team’s future. Based on the 2017 struggles, and the fine details/depth that ex-coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme has, it feels like Dan Quinn and Co. may be tempted to choose between letting current coordinator Steve Sarkisian run his own system next year, or just hiring a new coordinator.
7. Dion Jordan gets back on the field tonight, presumably, and he’ll be wearing a Seahawks jersey. Long forgotten, Jordan was the third overall pick in 2013, and uber-talented. And now, he’s up from 250 pounds to 280.
8. The #JetsDanceToAnything hashtag was pretty big last week, but the way that all went down is bigger than just some stunt. New York focused on acquiring guys this offseason who love football and wear that on their sleeves, and so the impromptu on-field party was an illustration of it.
9. The hope in Buffalo is that Kelvin Benjamin gives Tyrod Taylor just what he gave Cam Newton—a supersized wideout who knows how to use his body to get the ball. As was the case with Newton, Taylor now has a big target to aim for downfield when plays break down around him.
10. When Ryan Fitzpatrick starts for the Bucs on Sunday, it’ll mark the 10th consecutive year in which he’s drawn at least one start. Which is great for him, not so much for the players who got injured to keep that streak going.