NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 8 One Up, One Down For All 32 Teams: Tua Tagovailoa shines, 2021 QB class struggles

Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) throws the football during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

• Growing pains: Jets QB Zach Wilson and Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence were both included in the “down” category with sub-50.0 passing grades.

• Third-year ascent: Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was this week's highest-graded offensive player with a 96.8 mark.

• Scoring surge: Running backs Tony Pollard, D'Onta Foreman and Alvin Kamara all made the “up” list with three touchdowns apiece.

Estimated Reading Time: 13 mins

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ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH


ARIZONA CARDINALS

One up: DeAndre Hopkins

Key grade: 82.3 receiving grade

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray clearly missed Hopkins while the wideout was suspended for six games. In Hopkins' second game back, he caught 12 passes on 13 targets for 159 yards with a touchdown, nine first downs and three contested catches.

One down: RB Eno Benjamin

Key grade: 53.9 rushing grade

Benjamin looked ready to take James Conner’s starting job last week. He carried the ball nine times for just 22 yards with no forced missed tackles in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings.


ATLANTA FALCONS

One up: TE Kyle Pitts

Key grade: 80.4 receiving grade

Pitts had his first game of the season with over 20 yards receiving and a touchdown. He hauled in five catches on seven targets for 80 yards with a touchdown and forced two missed tackles in the overtime win over the Panthers.

One down: S Dean Marlowe

Key grade: 31.9 coverage grade

Marlowe got lost in coverage on a 62-yard touchdown connection from Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker to wide receiver D.J. Moore. He was bailed out by a missed extra point in regulation and a missed field goal in overtime.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

One up: TE Isaiah Likely

Key grade: 87.4 offensive grade

The rookie tight end out of Coastal Carolina saw a heavier workload with Mark Andrews banged up, catching six passes on seven targets for 77 yards with a touchdown. He also contributed with a 91.9 run-blocking grade on 13 such snaps in Baltimore’s win over Tampa Bay.

One down: OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

Key grade: 34.8 defensive grade

Facing his former team, Pierre-Paul registered just one hurry on 39 pass-rush snaps.


BUFFALO BILLS

One up: WR Stefon Diggs

Key grade: 83.2 receiving grade

Diggs was tough to cover in Sunday night's win over Green Bay, catching six passes on eight targets for 108 yards with a touchdown. He forced one missed tackle and had three explosive plays.

One down: S Taron Johnson

Key grade: 45.7 defensive grade

Johnson let up six catches on six targets to Packers receivers for 78 yards with one touchdown and three total first downs in Sunday night's win.


CAROLINA PANTHERS

One up: RB D’Onta Foreman

Key grade: 85.3 rushing grade

Foreman is a very good player when given an opportunity, and that’s what the Christian McCaffrey trade and Chuba Hubbard injury afforded him. He totaled 118 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries in Week 8. He also forced six missed tackles and picked up 76 yards after contact.

One down: LB Shaq Thompson

Key grade: 29.6 coverage grade

The former college safety struggled in coverage, allowing six catches on six targets for 94 yards with a touchdown and five total first downs.


CHICAGO BEARS

One up: QB Justin Fields

Key grade: 72.6 offensive grade

At the present moment, Fields looks like the best quarterback from the 2021 NFL Draft class. He made one big-time throw and no turnover-worthy plays while carrying the ball eight times for 60 yards on the ground. He picked up 37 yards after contact and forced one missed tackle.

One down: LB Roquan Smith

Key grade: 28.5 defensive grade

The impending free agent let up four catches on four targets for 4 yards with a touchdown and three total first downs in coverage.


CINCINNATI BENGALS

One up: S Jessie Bates

Key grade: 90.2 run defense grade

Bates was all over the field in Monday night’s loss to the Browns. He made four stops in the run game, allowed just one 26-yard catch and hurries QB Jacoby Brissett on an interception.

One down: LT Jonah Williams

Key grade: 32.2 pass protection grade

Williams had a tough game, allowing three sacks and a hurry against the Browns’ pass rush. He was beaten by his defender an additional two times.


CLEVELAND BROWNS

One up: EDGE Myles Garrett

Key grade: 91.9 pass-rush grade

The All-Pro pass rusher was a complete game-wrecker in Monday night’s win over the Bengals. He finished with eight total pressures, including two sacks and a QB hit. He beat his defender an additional three times. QB Jacoby Brissett (86.0 passing grade), linebacker Sione Takitaki (91.6 pass-rush grade) and the entire Cleveland offensive line deserve special mention, as well.

One down: CB Greedy Williams

Key grade: 57.2 coverage grade

The Browns put forth an impressive overall performance, but Williams did allow a 41-yard touchdown to Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.


DALLAS COWBOYS

One up: RB Tony Pollard

Key grade: 82.2 offensive grade

With Ezekiel Elliott out, Pollard feasted with 14 carries for 131 yards with three rushing touchdowns in the win over the Bears. He forced six missed tackles and picked up 116 yards after contact.

One down: CB Anthony Brown

Key grade: 47.3 coverage grade

Brown got turned around in coverage while letting up a touchdown to Bears tight end Cole Kmet. He also should have come away with an interception pass breakup on a target to Dante Pettis but whiffed.


DENVER BRONCOS

One up: CB K’Waun Williams

Key grade: 90.8 coverage grade

The offseason addition was targeted three times, got his hand on the ball twice and didn’t allow a reception. He made the game-clinching interception in Denver’s win over the Jaguars and forced another incompletion.

One down: WR Courtland Sutton

Key grade: 48.8 offensive grade

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receivers K.J. Hamler and Jerry Jeudy and tight end Greg Dulcich all made big plays in Denver’s win in London. Sutton managed just one 13-yard catch on four targets with a drop.


DETROIT LIONS

One up: QB Jared Goff

Key grade: 84.3 passing grade

Goff was one of our downs last week. He rebounded with 321 yards, a touchdown, four big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays in the loss to the Dolphins.

One down: CB AJ Parker

Key grade: 28.4 coverage grade

It’s a thankless job trying to keep up with Dolphins wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Parker let up four catches on six targets for 84 yards and a touchdown to Miami.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

One up: CB Jaire Alexander

Key grade: 91.3 coverage grade

The All-Pro cornerback put together a dominant performance in Sunday night's loss to the Bills. He intercepted quarterback Josh Allen and didn't allow a catch on five targets with three more forced incompletions.

One down: CB Rasul Douglas

Key grade: 29.1 coverage grade

Douglas did not have the same level of success against Allen and the Bills, letting up five catches on seven targets for 99 yards with a touchdown.


HOUSTON TEXANS

One up: CB Steven Nelson

Key grade: 89.5 coverage grade

The veteran cornerback didn't allow a catch on two targets and intercepted Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis.

One down: G Kenyon Green

Key grade: 6.8 pass-blocking grade

The 2022 first-round pick allowed a week-high nine total pressures, including two quarterback hits, against Tennessee's defensive line.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

One up: RT Braden Smith

Key grade: 79.2 offensive grade

Back at right tackle for the third straight week after a brief stop at right guard, Smith was a standout overall in Sunday’s loss to the Commanders. He allowed two pressures to Washington’s defense.

One down: LG Quenton Nelson

Key grade: 45.2 run-blocking grade

Nelson, one of the NFL’s top guards, had a rare down game. In addition to his low run-blocking mark, he was beaten by his defender four times in pass protection.


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

One up: RB Travis Etienne

Key grade: 88.3 rushing grade

The Clemson product had his second straight 100-yard game and set career highs with 24 carries for 156 yards and a rushing touchdown. He picked up 97 yards after contact while forcing eight missed tackles.

One down: QB Trevor Lawrence

Key grade: 42.2 passing grade

We’re still waiting to see some consistency out of the 2021 No. 1 overall pick. Lawrence threw two back-breaking interceptions and added a third turnover-worthy play. He went 18-of-31 for 133 yards with a touchdown and one big-time throw.


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: BYE

 


LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

One up: S Trevon Moehrig

Key grade: 77.0 defensive grade

The TCU product surrendered just one catch on one target for one yard to earn a team-high defensive grade. It was an otherwise miserable performance by the Raiders' offense and defense on Sunday.

One down: WR Davante Adams

Key grade: 45.4 offensive grade

Adams’ five receiving yards marked his lowest total in a single game since Week 3 of the 2015 season. He caught one pass on five targets with a drop in Las Vegas’ 24-0 loss to the Saints.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: BYE

 


LOS ANGELES RAMS

One up: RT Rob Havenstein

Key grade: 77.3 pass-blocking grade

Havenstein had a nice bounce-back game after laboring more than usual in Weeks 5 and 6. He let up just two hurries in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers.

One down: LG Bobby Evans

Key grade: 15.5 pass-blocking grade

The Rams’ offensive line issues aren’t going away. Evans allowed four pressures, including a sack and two quarterback hits. He was beaten by defenders two more times, as well.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

One up: QB Tua Tagovailoa

Key grade: 96.1 passing grade

It’s almost unfair for Tagovailoa to have wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle at his disposal. The Alabama product threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns with two big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays in Sunday’s win over the Lions.

One down: S Jevon Holland

Key grade: 34.3 coverage grade

Holland had a rare off-day, allowing five catches on five targets for 123 yards and four first downs in coverage.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS

One up: CB Patrick Peterson

Key grade: 85.2 coverage grade

It was a vintage performance for the 32-year-old cornerback, allowing just two catches on five targets for 42 yards and a touchdown with three forced incompletions in the win over the Cardinals as Minnesota improved to 6-1.

One down: RG Ed Ingram

Key grade: 16.9 pass-blocking grade

The 2022 second-round pick had a tough time against J.J. Watt and the Cardinals’ interior rush, letting up six total pressures, including a sack, a strip sack and a quarterback hit.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

One up: RB Rhamondre Stevenson

Key grade: 85.2 offensive grade

Stevenson led Patriots skill players with 72 receiving yards and added 71 yards on the ground. Thanks to some hits behind the backfield, he actually finished the game with 83 yards after contact and six total forced missed tackles.

One down: LG Cole Strange

Key grade: 37.7 offensive grade

The Patriots’ entire offensive line — outside of right guard Michael Onwenu — could have a spot on this list. Strange was flagged for holding twice, let up a sack and two hurries and was beaten by his defender one more time. He was sidelined at times for reserve offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. Quarterback Mac Jones also played poorly, but the one interception he threw that counted came when he was hit by a defender while throwing. A roughing the passer penalty erased what would have been a pick-six by Jones.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

One up: RB Alvin Kamara

Key grade: 81.0 offensive grade

When you score all three of your team’s touchdowns, you earn an “up.” Those are the rules. Kamara finished the Saints’ win over the Raiders with 27 touches for 158 yards with one rushing touchdown and two receiving scores. He forced seven total missed tackles.

One down: LG Andrus Peat

Key grade: 36.1 pass-blocking grade

We’re really nitpicking here because there weren’t a lot of downs for New Orleans in its shutout win over Las Vegas. Peat was beaten by his defender three times.


NEW YORK GIANTS

One up: CB Adoree' Jackson

Key grade: 89.9 coverage grade

Jackson forced one incompletion and made three defensive stops in the passing game. He allowed seven catches on 10 targets for 65 yards with a touchdown and only one other first down.

One down: QB Daniel Jones

Key grade: 44.4 passing grade

Jones earned a team-low 38.3 offensive grade while going 17-of-31 for 176 yards with no big-time throws and two turnover-worthy plays in the loss to the Seahawks. He also couldn’t make any magic with his legs, carrying the ball six times for just 20 yards.


NEW YORK JETS

One up: CB Michael Carter II

Key grade: 90.1 defensive grade

Carter should have had a pick-six on a throw from Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, but a roughing the passer penalty erased it. He still wound up with one interception that counted while allowing five catches on five targets for 41 yards.

One down: QB Zach Wilson

Key grade: 48.1 passing grade

On the surface, Wilson’s stat line looks almost OK in the loss to New England. He went 20-of-41 for 355 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. But two of those interceptions were among the worst turnover-worthy plays you’ll see. The second-year signal-caller’s worst plays are when he drops too far back, bails out of the pocket and tries to make magic happen, and those situations aren't rarities at this point.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

One up: WR A.J. Brown

Key grade: 92.2 receiving grade

Brown looked completely uncoverable while catching six passes on 10 targets for 156 yards with three receiving touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Steelers. Three of those six receptions were of the contested variety.

One down: LB Kyzir White

Key grade: 48.3 defensive grade

White was targeted heavily in the passing game, letting up nine catches on 10 targets for 59 yards. He also earned a 44.8 run-defense grade.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS

One up: CB Cameron Sutton

Key grade: 76.7 coverage grade

In a game in which Pittsburgh let up 308 passing yards and four touchdowns, Sutton was barely involved. He allowed one catch on three targets for 14 yards with a forced incompletion.

One down: S Terrell Edmunds

Key grade: 43.0 coverage grade

Edmunds, however, let up a team-high 102 yards on five catches and six targets, including two touchdowns.


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

One up: LT Trent Williams

Key grade: 93.0 run-blocking grade

Running back Christian McCaffrey had passing, rushing and receiving scores, but Williams earned a team-high 87.7 offensive grade. He let up just one hurry in pass protection and pushed around Rams defenders in the ground game during Sunday’s win.

One down: RG Spencer Burford

Key grade: 25.8 offensive grade

On 17 pass protection snaps, Burford allowed a pressure and was beaten by a defender once. He also finished with a 27.6 run-blocking grade.


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

One up: QB Geno Smith

Key grade: 91.1 passing grade

Hopefully, you weren’t waiting for Smith to slow down this season. He made four big-time throws without a turnover-worthy play while going 23-of-34 for 213 yards with two touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the 6-2 Giants. Smith and the Seahawks are now 5-3 on the season.

One down: C Austin Blythe

Key grade: 6.5 pass-blocking grade

Blythe played just nine pass protection snaps before leaving with a knee injury. He allowed a sack and a quarterback hit.


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

One up: RT Tristan Wirfs

Key grade: 79.6 offensive grade

The right side of the Buccaneers’ line — Wirfs and right guard Shaq Mason — didn’t allow a single pressure in Thursday night’s loss to the Ravens.

One down: S Mike Edwards

Key grade: 37.1 defensive grade

Edwards had a tough time in the run game against Baltimore, whiffing on tackles and taking some bad angles.


TENNESSEE TITANS

One up: RB Derrick Henry

Key grade: 91.3 rushing grade

Henry had 190 rushing yards … after contact in Sunday’s win over the Texans. The Titans road Henry to the victory, forcing rookie quarterback Malik Willis to throw the ball only 10 times. Henry forced 12 total missed tackles on his 33 touches for 228 yards with two scores.

One down: LB Zach Cunningham

Key grade: 42.6 coverage grade

The Titans put together a pretty complete performance when accounting for the fact that they didn’t really throw the ball. Cunningham did allow three catches on three targets for 19 yards with a touchdown in coverage.


WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

One up: RB Antonio Gibson

Key grade: 94.0 receiving grade

Washington couldn’t get much going on the ground in its 17-16 win over the Colts, but Gibson caught seven passes on seven targets for 58 yards with 64 yards after the catch, a touchdown and three missed tackles through the air.

One down: C Tyler Larsen

Key grade: 25.8 pass-blocking grade

Larsen didn’t allow a sack, but he did let up seven pressures — including a quarterback hit — and was beaten by his defender another time.

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