NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 6 Mailbag: Answering questions on Giants' Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold landing spots, Justin Herbert and more

It’s that time of the week again. You ask, and I answer, then we all enjoy some football. Week 6 mailbag — let’s get it.

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If I had to bet right now, I’d say they do! I think they could very well sneak in as the third wildcard, and I also think you can pencil in these teams in some capacity: Packers, Seahawks, Saints, Bucs and a single NFC East representative.

That leaves two more spots between the Rams, Cardinals, Bears, 49ers and Panthers. The Panthers have all the weapons offensively to be in any game, and with their young defense, they will only see improvements on that side of the ball over the course of the season.

I’ll let the data do the talking on this one. Here are the Las Vegas Raiders‘ expected points added (EPA) per play figures:

With Ruggs on the field: 0.28
Without Ruggs on the field: 0.06

The former would be the best mark of any team in the NFL — the Packers currently pace the league at 0.251 — and it would be nearly 0.1 EPA clear of the second-place Kansas City Chiefs (.182). Deep threats — they matter.

As the response to your tweet said: this one has to be Le’Veon Bell.

He gets some hype heading into the season, he gets off to a very underwhelming start (46 total yards Week 1), he's mostly forgotten about (Bell goes on IR), and then he's sent packing (Bell gets cut). The only difference is Bell found a suitor afterward, and I’m still out here for the right reasons.

GMs are very quick to buy into quarterbacks who “look the part” across small sample sizes. Remember when Dave Gettleman knew Daniel Jones “had it” after one drive?

I think you’d see about a two-thirds-Burrow-to-one-third-Herbert split if you asked GMs to choose right now.

He’s going to be a borderline first-round player for a number of reasons — it’s a very strong safety class, the safety position has seemingly been devalued across the NFL, and I don’t think he will test out with an elite athletic profile, given that he'll have missed a whole year of football. He’s got deep/slot versatility but is not going to be the safety you want dropping down in the box like a Jamal Adams or a Derwin James.

For those who don’t know, the North Texas receiver is the toast of college football after his 244-yard toasting of Charlotte this past week, and his 485 receiving yards currently lead the FBS. He’s a 5-foot-9, 174-pound senior who plays slot for the Mean Green. He’s broken 34 tackles on 190 catches in his career.

As a prospect, he unfortunately profiles to the dreaded “slot only” designation. He’s agile, but I’m not sure he’s quite explosive enough to survive outside at his size like a DeSean Jackson (or, more recently, a Darnell Mooney) can. He’s made the most of the handful of reps he’s seen when split wide this season, with a couple of nice deep receptions, so more of that would help his stock.

I’ll give five spots I’d love to see, in order of likelihood:

  1. Chicago Bears
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. New Orleans Saints
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers

I think this is a fairly rank-average secondary as far as NFL standards go, and the majority of their defensive prowess is predicated on the dominance of the defensive line. The interesting thing is that for all the hype that comes with them being the blitz-heaviest team in the league (ALL THEY DO IS BLITZ!!), they actually don’t blitz much on third down. They’ve only blitzed on 28.6% of third downs (18th most in NFL) yet gotten home for pressure 58.9% of the time (most in the NFL). That’s a fairly strong indictment of how their secondary has played, considering they’re 27th in third-down conversion rate allowed.

If we take the target breakdown from the 2015 Bengals — Dalton’s career year — as a corollary for how targets will end up, it looks like this:

A.J. Green (Amari Cooper role): 131
Marvin Jones Jr. (Michael Gallup role): 99
Mohamed Sanu (CeeDee Lamb slot role): 53

That could have very well been talent-related as well, because Dalton was targeting Tyler Boyd in the slot more than anyone else up until the end of his tenure.

I would absolutely love it. Having teams like Rutgers collect their Big Ten Network paychecks to get rolled every Saturday diminishes the product. While it will never happen, I think the pandemic could lead to a slight shakeup of conference affiliations.

This is a very good question, Gordon! I’m partial to an ice-cold Miller Lite. Side note: Has anyone tried a Papa John’s Papadia, and can anyone speak to its quality? I’ve been so close to ordering one on multiple Sundays after seeing their ads but cannot justify it. It looks like I’d enjoy two bites then hate myself the rest of the day.

I’m not sure what kind of talent will be around with the 32nd pick, but with yet another deep receiver class, I’m guessing that there will be someone there. With their new-look offense, someone with speed and ball skills would be nice for a change (sorry, MVS). Either Purdue’s Rondale Moore or Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle would be the dream scenario for Green Bay.


I thought Johnson would have been perfect schematically for what the Chiefs want to do, and he’s already excelling in man coverage. As far as Laviska goes, if I were evaluating him solely as a running back he may have been RB1. It’s no surprise that he's already third among all receivers in broken tackles after the catch, with six.

I’ve had multiple offers to join “The Boys” chats after this tweet. No one has yet to give me a sampling of what kind of content I’m in store for, however. I’ll join any group chat if you guys are putting forward some top-notch content.

I was one of the people who were mildly high on Jones coming out. And by mildly high, I mean, if you drafted him at the back end of Round 1, I wouldn’t have argued.

The worry with me is how high his ceiling could go. Sure, he could be in rhythm to throws underneath all day, but could he consistently bury you downfield? While Drew Brees’ noodle arm has drawn all the headlines, Jones has quietly attempted only one more deep pass (10) than the Saints quarterback all season.

He’s never been quite accurate enough to operate the offense Brees does and certainly has not taken care of the ball well enough, either. He’s a capable starter, but if you’re trying to win a championship, I think you should set your sights a lot higher.

A little bit. More so, I think about how the NFL game has evolved to be able to take advantage of players with a combination of athleticism and arm strength. Being able to dictate coverage looks with the threat of the quarterback running makes life a lot easier when it comes to transitioning to the NFL. So, while there are concerns — and I wrote about them here  — Lance has a special skill set with a proven track record.

I don’t know if “over his head” is the right phrasing. Rather, he's “not Sean McVay.”

I don’t know if the Bengals were sold this, but the media obviously touted Taylor as a McVay disciple after his two years with the Rams. That hasn’t been the case offensively. You can see that in Taylor’s use of play action and bunch sets — two things we’ve seen be effective tools around the NFL, regardless of other factors.

This one is simple geography. Do you know how many four-star or better recruits there are in Nebraska and all the states it touches for the 2021 class? 13. Do you know how many four-star or better recruits there are in the state of Florida alone for 2021? 51.

As much as we love to think of our schools as a national brand that plays in households across America, that reputation fades quickly when recruiting 16- and 17-year-olds. It’s nearly impossible nowadays to have a consistent, quality football program without being attached to a fertile recruiting area.

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