Justin Fields’ career day; Packers’ offensive woes; Tom Brady’s late magic: 3 up, 3 down


After another excellent NFL Sunday, with big underdogs winning, good teams continuing their hot streaks, and some bad teams pulling away even more, I rate stocks as up and down after week 9

up

Justin FieldsChicago bones

The Bears’ new coaching staff’s decision to tailor the offense to Justin Fields’ strengths has been a positive development for both Chicago and the second-year cornerback. During an 11-day break between an embarrassing offensive performance in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings and a game with the New England Patriots earlier in the season, the Bears overhauled their offense. They put Fields on the move, using his ability to move into space and rush the run to create explosive plays.

The Bears opted for easier passing concepts that force the ball out quicker, and when there’s no throw, Fields takes off down the field for big gains. It has changed the career trajectory of this young quarterback.

Through the first six games of the season, Fields completed just 54.7 percent of his paltry 116 pass attempts. Over the past three games, Fields has completed 65 percent of his 74 pass attempts for 453 yards. His adjusted air yards per attempt are also up well over a yard in these past three weeks. Fields has rushed for 320 yards over the past three weeks, including a stunning 61-yard scramble on Sunday as part of his 178 regular-season rushing yards, the most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era . The three-week total is more than the first six games of his career outing.

Now that the Bears have Fields playing with more confidence, they can add more concepts to the offense. They can get more creative by using Fields’ ability to throw accurately on the run. They can design more run pass concepts that put the defense in a tizzy. These concepts also help the offensive line as they need to block for less time and/or sell a run. A well-supported offensive line playing with fewer mistakes will make Fields even more comfortable in the pocket. The stock arrow points up for Fields to reach its full potential

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense

Hardly His stock is just an uptick after hitting rock bottom during Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams. The Bucs offense has looked broken for the most part and it starts with the playmaker. For starters, they run the ball too much for a team that stinks at running the ball.

Either the Bucs don’t self-explore and/or ignore their data to increase the success rates of certain concepts. They keep calling run plays that don’t work in this offense. The Bucs went nine plays in the second quarter where they went run, run, pass three times in a row until a field goal attempt. No creativity at all. It’s predictable and boring.

Then, just when it looks like he has something going, someone drops a pass. Or Tom Brady misses a throw. Or there is a withholding penalty. However, when the Bucs needed it most, the offense came alive. After scoring just nine points with 263 yards in 59 minutes, the Bucs needed just six plays to go 60 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

After listening to Brady (who reached 100,000 career passing yards in the comeback win) speak at the podium after the win, you could feel a weight lifted. Tampa Bay finally got some positive results offensively, and it looks like this could be the turning point of the season.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are a legitimate division winning team this season. After trading Russell Wilson and announcing Geno Smith as their starting quarterback this season, many analysts believed the Seahawks were on their way to a top-three pick. The opposite has happened as Seattle is 6-3 with a 1.5 game lead in the NFC West.

Seattle is doing it with a reinvigorated Smith, who is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season. He’s completing 72.7% of his passes with a passer percentage of 107. The Seahawks have quietly had the best 2022 draft class in years, as evidenced by two blocks of tackles for a rookie running back to Kenneth Walker III, who is the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Walker had another 109 yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

‘We kept fighting’ – Geno Smith on how Seahawks kept fighting to get win against Cardinals

Pam Oliver interviews Geno Smith after the intense game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks’ defense started the season near the bottom of the NFL, but has picked up steam in the last month. This is typical of a Pete Carroll unit. Like the offense, the defense is bolstered by the rookie corners who are playing so well. The Seahawks look like a complete team. They play as one. They play with confidence. They are a playoff team.

down

Buffalo Bills/Josh Allen

The Bills seemed to be on cruise control. They are the legitimate favorites to win the Super Bowl and have a road win against the Kansas City Chiefs in addition to multiple wins this season.

They entered Sunday’s contest against the New York Jets as 10.5-point road favorites. Then the Bills started to lose, 20-17. It’s fair to credit the Jets defense, which is slowly becoming one of the best units in the NFL, for limiting the electric Josh Allen on Sunday.

It was Allen’s worst game of the season, with the MVP candidate returning to his old self for two horrible interceptions that had nothing to do with the defense. Just bad pitches.

The loss was compounded as Buffalo now lost a game against the Chiefs (they still own the tiebreaker) and the Miami Dolphins, who they already lost a game against, in the AFC playoff race. When you’re fighting for the No. 1 seed, it’s hard to have upsets and end up with a first-round bye. The Bills are still my favorite to win the Super Bowl, but this setback could hurt their bye chances.

Aaron Rodgers

Now is a good time to ask: Is Rodgers washed up? It just doesn’t play well. There is no sugarcoating it. You can blame the play calling, not getting enough touches for Aaron Jones, injuries on the offensive line, lack of depth at receiver…but Rodgers just isn’t playing well.

There are opportunities to make plays, and when those opportunities are getting rarer by the week, Rodgers needs to take advantage. In Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions, he tore through his left tackle on a play call from the two-yard line that ended in an interception. He threw a pass off the Lions’ helmet target for an interception. Then, he severely botched a touchdown that would have tied the game later in the game. At one point, he threw a fade as the wide receiver leaned over.

Aaron Rodgers and Packers offense thwarted in 15-9 loss to Lions

Aaron Rodgers and Packers offense thwarted in 15-9 loss to Lions

The Detroit Lions defense forced Aaron Rodgers to throw three interceptions, including two in the red zone.

As much as we think Rodgers and the Packers offense can flip a switch to turn on the offense like we’ve seen for so many years, I think that switch is permanently off for the rest of 2022. That’s the Packers.

Josh McDaniels, Raiders head coach

Between 1960 and 2021, the Las Vegas Raiders franchise lost five games after being ahead by 17 points or more. The Raiders have lost three of those games this season after blowing a 17-0 lead Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders are now 2-6, with wins over the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans.

McDaniels was brought to the desert to maximize Derek Carr’s potential. The Raiders traded for All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to help Carr become more explosive. Before Adams’ 10-catch game Sunday, he had combined for just 17 catches over his last six games. That’s not getting it.

Also, the Raiders offensive line doesn’t help the offense. They can’t block well enough to overcome the play call. And when you hire a coach who is in charge of a unit (offense or defense) and that unit underperforms drastically, that coach’s status will be called into question.

At this rate, it seems unlikely that McDaniels will get a second season in Vegas.

Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his freshman year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.


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