Trevor Lawrence Steals the Show on Sunday
Another week is behind us. We were delighted by young quarterbacks and continue to be disappointed in offenses we thought would be high-powered. Matt Harmon and James Koh dive into that and more in this week’s episode of Reception Perception: The Show.
Is It Jordan Love Time in Green Bay?
Back-to-back MVP, Aaron Rodgers, is dealing with multiple injuries right now and even pre-injury didn’t look like Rodgers of the past. In Week 12, 2020 Draft pick, Jordan Love was unveiled for the first time this season.
He was thrown into the game kind of in garbage time after Rodgers left with an injury. Love looked good, though. He looked like a starting-caliber quarterback, against the tough Eagles’ secondary.
It begs the question, should Green Bay let Love continue to play? The first-round pick has only one start under his belt, in 2021 versus Kansas City. It was a low-scoring affair and Love finished 19-of-34, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
Over the last four years, Aaron Rodgers had the lowest interception rate in the NFL, this season he’s already thrown more interceptions (9) than he has in an entire season since 2010. The Packers are 1-7 in their last 8 games and we know that Rodgers is dealing with multiple injuries. He has said that if he can play and they aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoffs, he plans to play.
James and Matt both think Green Bay has to give Love an extended look. Christian Watson has taken a step forward over the last several weeks. (Be sure to check out his Reception Perception Rookie Report.) In Matt’s opinion, Christian Watson is successful at the things that will benefit Love.
The Packers have to decide if they’re going to exercise Love’s 5th-year option and in a season that’s circling the drain, there’s no better time to see what you have in the quarterback you spent high draft capital on.
The guys also look towards 2023 and if the Packers could or would figure out a way to get out on Rodgers. There were some Broncos/Russell Wilson parallels drawn and if I’m being honest both Matt and James derived too much pleasure from laughing at my Broncos.
Bucs Offense Lagging
Tampa Bay currently has the 6th lowest points per game total. (They’re averaging the second most field goal attempts, that’s just a little note from me.) James surprises everyone with this one: they’re averaging fewer points per game than the Carolina Panthers. Go ahead and read that again.
Matt is still trying to pin down the precise reason why the offense isn’t firing on all cylinders. Tom Brady and Mike Evans haven’t been in sync all year. Evans has had some notable drops on the year, but there seems to be a timing issue between the two. It’s interesting that a timing issue would arise so late into the duo’s time together.
The run game is abysmal. The Bucs are 32nd in EPA/rush and 29th in rushing success rate. The offensive line has sustained multiple injuries this season. Chris Godwin has been coming back from an injury. Julio Jones and Russell Gage have both dealt with injuries. Leonard Fourneete is dealing with an injury. Gronk retired. Matt makes a joke about the Gisele curse, but maybe it wasn’t a joke at all.
In regards to the run game, James would like to see some more of Rachaad White. He got a chance to shoulder the load against the Browns in Week 12. Matt acknowledged that it was a good game by the rookie against a pretty terrible run defense.
It hasn’t mattered that the run game leaves much to be desired. HC Todd Bowles and OC Byron Leftwich want to establish the run. Matt points out their love for running on 1st down. Imagine establishing the run when you’ve got Tom Brady, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans.
A lot of the offensive success in Arizona has come on the back of Kyler Murray kind of scrambling out of the pocket, running around a bit, and then making something happen off-script. Matt wants to know if that’s a playbook issue or a Kyler Murray playing out of structure issue.
The public assumption has been that Kliff Kingsbury is running a vanilla offense. The “horizontal raid” as Matt calls it. That being said, rumors have started to surface regarding Murray’s mental preparation for games. Is he studying the game film? The playbook?
Matt thinks both things can be true and both guys agree that Kyler Murray has taken a step back this season, albeit a minuscule one. “He certainly hasn’t taken one forward” – James.
Of all the bad things that can be said about the state of the Cardinals right now, Matt does credit them for how they’ve used Marquise Brown this season. In his first week back from injury Brown ran routes on 100% of dropbacks.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals deploy DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Brown when Moore gets healthy. Ultimately, Matt isn’t excited about this offense as a whole so it’s hard for him too excited.
Trevor Lawrence Breakout?
James and Matt both think Trevor Lawrence had a bit of a breakout game against the Ravens on Sunday. In particular, James mentions the final drive of the game and the 2-point conversion which he found very impressive.
Lawrence hasn’t lived up to the pre-draft hype so far in his career, a tall order considering he was tagged with the word “generational.” But he showed flashes of greatness in that game-winning drive.
Until last week, Matt says Lawrence lacked a “signature moment.” He has been plagued with late-game turnovers. He slayed both those demons versus the Ravens. With 2:10 left on the clock, Lawrence led a 10-play drive that was capped with a game-winning 2-point conversion on a pass.
James wants to know if Matt thinks Zay Jones will be a thing going forward this season. Matt sounds skeptical, at best, saying Jones is probably the best outside wide receiver the Jags have but is no more than a WR3 in skillset.
Bengals Getting Hot
Tee Higgins has been great the last two weeks, both of which he finished as a top-10 wide receiver in PPR with Ja’Marr Chase due back as early as Week 13, does Higgins continue his reign for the Bengals? Matt thinks Higgins is a 1B receiver, at worst.
The offense is getting rolling at the right time for Cincinnati. Matt and James agree that this Bengals team right now is better than the team they took to the Super Bowl last season.
The 2021 Bengals’ offensive line was bad and the team went into the off-season intending to improve it. They poured money into that positional group and James thinks the offensive line is finally starting to gel.
Matt also mentions how well the defense has been playing but more specifically how well they have been coached. He gave flowers to DC Lou Anarumo for how he’s been able to coach up this defense.
Cincinnati has lost their top wideout to injury in Ja’Marr Chase, as well as their top cornerback, Chidobe Awuzie going down with a season-ending knee injury. The coaching staff deserves recognition for how they’ve kept this team thriving, and both Matt and James deliver that recognition.