PFF senior analysts Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo dove into the film, advanced stats and grades to offer their key takeaways from Week 9 of the 2019 NFL season.
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BRANDON ALLEN LOOKED BEST IN THE BOX SCORE
Brandon Allen’s debut was an interesting exercise in how statistics can sometimes mislead or misrepresent performance. He ended up completing 12 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a very healthy-looking passer rating of 125.6, but his overall PFF grade was only 58.6. His first touchdown pass involved Courtland Sutton straight-up Mossing the cornerback to snag a pass that was at best a risky ball, and his second was a catch-and-run by TE Noah Fant in which three separate Browns defenders simply fell off tackles allowing ever-more yards after the catch. Given expectations, Allen was fine, but his numbers were very inflated.
BROWNS CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE
The Cleveland Browns remain a frustrating product of everything being out of sync, particularly on offense. The structural components are all there, but much like an engine whose timing is off, without that final tuning, the entire system grinds to a halt. Baker Mayfield still misses too many routine throws, his receivers are too often on different pages, the line is far from a strength and the playcalling isn’t necessarily helping any of them out. Mayfield’s average time to throw this week was notably faster than earlier in the year, but too many problems remain for this team to realize its potential without significant changes.
TYREEK HILL IS ONE OF THE NFL'S BEST
Tyreek Hill isn’t just fast; he operates at a completely different speed to even fast players. The best attribute Minnesota cornerback Trae Waynes has is blazing straight-line speed. He ran a 4.31s 40-yard dash at the combine, but Hill was able to breeze past him multiple times with ease this week. In all, Waynes allowed three catches for 111 yards and a touchdown to Hill, as well as surrendering another 32 yards to other receivers. Hill was one of the difference-makers in the game and looks like one of the best players in all of football at any position.
BENCH THE ‘BISKY
Sometimes players need to be benched just to make the point that the level of play they have consistently hit is not acceptable. The Tennessee Titans finally reached that point with Marcus Mariota, and the Bears should have reached it now with Mitchell Trubisky. This week was the best PFF grade of Trubisky’s season, and it came in a game in which the offense had fewer than 10 net yards on offense at the half. He has three games this year with PFF grades in the 40s, and his overall grade is 48.5 for the season. Chase Daniel may not represent a significant upgrade, but it may not matter. This is a move that needs to be made.
BUD DUPREE GIVES THE STEELERS A VIABLE EDGE RUSH PRESENCE
After four middling seasons that saw Dupree grade anywhere from 43.9 to 62.6 overall, the 2019 season has been a breakout campaign for the former first-rounder. Dupree has accumulated sacks through the years, but he’s failed to win one-on-ones at a high rate while adding below-average work in the run game, but he’s now ranked No. 17 among edge defenders with 225 or more snaps played through Week 9 in overall grade (80.6). He's racked up six sacks to tie a career-high and two forced fumbles so far this season. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Dupree picked up five pressures, including two sacks, one of which was a fantastic strip-sack and recovery. His breakout has coincided with T.J. Watt’s league-high 90.4 overall grade this season, giving the Steelers one of the best edge-rush duos in the league.
RAVENS' OFFENSE IS DIFFICULT TO DEFEND
The Ravens’ offense has been keeping defenses off balance all season, but the nation got to see it firsthand in primetime against a top-notch defense. The Patriots were torched by a rushing attack and misdirection passing attack that moves underneath defenders and keeps the front-seven guessing just enough to set up blocks and free yardage. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the key to the attack, and he picked up 51 yards on 11 designed runs, but perhaps more importantly, a combination of Lamar’s run threat and good run blocking gave running back Mark Ingram 73 yards BEFORE contact on just 15 rushes. That’s 4.9 yards per carry before a defender touched the runner, and it led to a 115-yard outing for Ingram. Baltimore proved that they can hang with the best in the AFC.
SEAHAWKS WIN WITH A PASS-HAPPY ATTACK
Beyond the Ravens, no team has relied upon the run as much as the Seattle Seahawks over the last two seasons. Coach Pete Carroll is a ball-control/play-good-defense coach at heart. This year, they have the top MVP candidate in Russell Wilson and they’re still relying heavily on the running game, but they changed their stripes for one game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wilson dropped back 47 times, going 29-for-43 for 378 yards and five touchdowns while posting an 87.2 overall grade and leading the Seahawks to 40 points in the overtime win. While playing ball control and racking up rushing attempts may be the weekly goal in Seattle, this game showed that a Wilson-driven, pass-heavy attack can light up the scoreboard, even if it’s against a Bucs team that has the seventh-lowest coverage grade in the league. More Wilson is generally a good thing, and that’s why he’s the leading MVP candidate through nine weeks.
FITZMAGIC DOESN'T TANK
The Ryan Fitzmagic coaster is not conducive to predictability, so it was always inevitable that the Miami Dolphins would get one of his top-notch performances to thwart their winless season. On Sunday, it was high-end Ryan Fitzpatrick, as he graded at 86.0 overall, including the top passing grade of the week at 90.6. The stats matched the grade, as he finished 24-of-36 for 288 yards and three scores. It was a classic Fitzpatrick aggressive outing that saw 17 passes thrown at 10-plus yards down the field. He completed 11 of them for 194 yards and two of the touchdowns. Miami made some key defensive stops in order to earn their first win, but the driving force was Fitzpatrick’s best grade in a start since Week 2 of last season.