Chris Simms' Team-by-Team Grades for NFL Week 6

Chris Simms@@CSimmsQBNFL Lead AnalystOctober 18, 2016

Chris Simms' Team-by-Team Grades for NFL Week 6

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    Everyone was required to take gym back in my Ramapo High School days—varsity athlete or not.

    That policy must have changed with this new generation. Because I saw too many former 4- and 5-star recruits who looked like they could use some physical education.

    I’m administering my own kind of presidential fitness test in this latest edition of NFL grades. Toughness and physicality were big factors in determining Week 6 success. Any team that showed up unprepared won’t get a passing mark.

    Was your team tough enough? Was it physical enough? Were players gassed or asking out of games? Scroll through this slideshow to find out. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    Offense: The Bengals couldn’t do it. The Packers couldn’t do it. I don’t think any team has what it takes to beat this Dallas Cowboys offensive line. It is without question the most dominant group in football. It puts a great running back on Eric Dickerson’s career path and eliminates Dak Prescott’s rare mistakes (fumble, interception in Week 6). Just quit now.

    Defense: I never thought I’d call this Cowboys defense a dominant one. That’s exactly what it is, though. Dallas has accumulated a deep rotation of pass-rushers it can cycle in to keep fresh. Take second-year tackle David Irving. Pro Football Focus placed his snap count at 19, but the Iowa State product totally harassed Aaron Rodgers. Same goes for Morris Claiborne on the outside against Jordy Nelson. Rod Marinelli’s unit will be a problem if it plays like this.

    Grade: A+

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Offense: Let’s not be too harsh on Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The fifth-round pick out of TCU struggled to protect Carson Wentz. But where was the back to chip? Where were the quick throws? Philadelphia did keep a tight end in, but Brent Celek ended up blocking Ryan Kerrigan one-on-one and gave up a sack. Back to the drawing board, Doug Pederson.

    Defense: Jim Schwartz should post a "help wanted" sign on the left side of his defensive front. That’s where Washington gained 186 of its 231 rushing yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Let’s remember what a miserable rushing team the Redskins are. Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan can’t come back healthy soon enough.

    Grade: D

New York Giants

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    Offense: This wasn’t your typical four-yard-out-and-punt approach. Eli Manning took his shots downfield way before he connected on two big ones with Odell Beckham Jr. Then, he hurried his offense back to the line and kept Baltimore’s defense backpedaling. Manning’s pocket was mostly clean throughout; New York’s running game is another issue.

    Defense: Janoris Jenkins' best performance as a Giant just happened in Week 6. Only two or three throws were completed on him by my count (Pro Football Focus had it at two). I haven’t seen him play at this level since...ever. It occasionally feels like he’s the only impactful member of the Giants defense.

    Grade: B+

Washington Redskins

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    Offense: Kirk Cousins will usually launch a fly route so far ahead of his receiver that I’m laughing before the ball hits the turf. I wasn’t laughing in Week 6, though. Cousins lobbed several beautiful throws right on the money against Philadelphia’s secondary. When all else fails, he looks for Jamison Crowder across the middle and hopes for missed tackles. That usually happens.

    Defense: Remember last season when teams boldly announced they’d test Josh Norman? Seems like that was just a fad. Philadelphia became the latest team to locate No. 24 and look the other way. I saw only one catch he allowed straight up to Jordan Matthews. No. 1 receivers are disappearing again when they head to Norman Island.

    Grade: A-

Buffalo Bills

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    Offense: I could care less what Tyrod Taylor’s stats say. The quality of his completions is what stands out. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn asked him to clean up on third down on the rare occasion the 49ers stopped LeSean McCoy (140 rushing yards, 3 TD). He kept the chains moving, particularly when San Francisco brought additional blitzers.

    Defense: The Bills blew coverage on a streaking Torrey Smith. They also allowed Colin Kaepernick to break outside and pick up a few rushing first downs. Other than that, they dominated the day. There’s not a better linebacking tandem than Zach Brown and Lorenzo Alexander. And they’re doing this all without Marcell Dareus.

    Grade: A

Miami Dolphins

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    Offense: So that's what Ryan Tannehill can do behind an NFL-ready offensive line! I started to question his ability as a franchise quarterback, but hats off to the kid. He delivered on two or three throws you would've seen from a healthy Ben Roethlisberger. It must have been nice for Tannehill to go through a game without feeling the need to throw his team back in it. Also nice: Jay Ajayi's 204-yard rushing day. The Fins have found their running back.

    Defense: This week was missing something. Oh yeah! A huge Antonio Brown catch-and-run. Everyone had AB84 penciled in for one or two this week. Former Eagles castoff Byron Maxwell had other plans. This was his best lockdown cornerback job since his Legion of Boom days in Seattle. I would've liked to see more pass rush from Miami overall. But if that's the only issue I can find with this defense, the arrow is pointing up.

    Grade: A+

New York Jets

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    Offense: I’ve held nothing back in my past critiques of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but let’s not pretend Geno Smith is some cure-all for what ails the Jets offense. Their problems run deeper than who’s behind center. For starters, Gang Green can’t (and won’t) run the football. Matt Forte chewed up 19 yards on nine carries, and one of those carries went eight yards. There’s no threat at tight end for this team. The post-Fitzpatrick era looks bleak.

    Defense: A front featuring three first-round picks isn’t supposed to be manhandled. New York’s was. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams weren’t obstacles in David Johnson’s way. Johnson walked right by those three non-factors and the gap an injured David Harris left behind. He went untouched on two of his three scores.

    Grade: D-

New England Patriots

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    Offense: Looks like Rob Gronkowski is back to smashing again. We know what big old No. 87 is capable of with a full head of steam. Let’s talk about No. 28 instead. Bill Belichick always finds a Kevin Faulk type to do the easy in-the-flat receiving work. He has another human mismatch in James White.

    Defense: People looked at me like I had three heads when I told them Malcolm Butler was a top-five cornerback. I don’t hear much backlash now. Butler covered both Brandon LaFell and A.J. Green on Sunday to little or no fanfare. He went about his business and surrendered three catches total—all while tipping three more passes away, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Grade: A

Chicago Bears

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Offense: Bet the Texans would take Brian Hoyer back right now. He hasn’t had a passing day under 300 yards since he took over for the Bears. But I’ll say this again: Hoyer can’t do it alone. The Jaguars game-planned for Jordan Howard this week; he only managed around two yards per carry.

    Defense: Willie Young tallied two more sacks; he now has five in two weeks. Can Leonard Floyd start generating pressure on the other end? Even Blake Bortles can pick apart a secondary with enough time. He had a clean pocket when he delivered the touchdown ball that Tracy Porter fell down covering.

    Grade: C+

Detroit Lions

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    Offense: Jim Bob Cooter cooked up a second amazing game plan in as many weeks. Matthew Stafford had a great mix of screens and deep balls on his plate, and he executed almost all of them. Few guys are playing the quarterback position better. It sure helped to have Golden Tate and Zach Zenner hit career marks in Week 6.

    Defense: You know what? I can’t be critical. The Lions accomplished what every team’s battle plan would be against the Rams and shut Todd Gurley down (4.1 YPC). And let’s not forget they did it with a half-healthy Ezekiel Ansah and missing starters such as DeAndre Levy and Haloti Ngata. It looks like Darius Slay had a bad day in coverage, but he was beaten by several perfectly placed Case Keenum throws and a career day from Kenny Britt.

    Grade: A-

Green Bay Packers

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    Offense: The Packers didn’t re-acquire John Kuhn for Week 6. So those must have been actual boos raining down from the Lambeau Field faithful whenever this offense sputtered. That was early and often. Dallas shut down Eddie Lacy and nearly every skill-position player.

    Defense: Dom Capers’ defense was "meh" in football form. It had to be; Green Bay’s two starting corners were out, and the replacements couldn’t handle any exotic looks. That meant Dak Prescott could sit in his comfort zone all afternoon. The Packers did nothing to make him uncomfortable in the first half and nothing to slow Ezekiel Elliott in the second.

    Grade: D

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Billie Weiss/Getty Images

    Offense: Andy Dalton and Co. led 14-10 into the third quarter and should have led by more. So what happened? Just the usual stuff. This offense became predictable and one-dimensional. Dalton couldn’t find any receiver wearing a non-18 jersey. And Cedric Ogbuehi earned a benching when his hold wiped out a first-down throw. Dont’a Hightower got to Dalton for a safety on the next play.

    Defense: Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins applied some early pressure, but the Bengals’ best defenders play on the line of scrimmage, not in space. They couldn’t man up against the immovable object that is Rob Gronkowski. This game played out like I thought; Cincy’s linebacking corps were no match for the tight end tandem of Gronk and Martellus Bennett.

    Grade: C

Cleveland Browns

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    Offense: I didn’t think Cleveland could play a game so close without its power-run game in full effect. I was wrong; Tennessee shut down Isaiah Crowell and forced Cody Kessler to carry this team. That’s what the rookie did. Kessler’s 336 passing yards against a good Titans defense is nothing to overlook.

    Defense: Ray Horton eliminated the Titans’ near-perfect rushing attack. How? By leveraging former first-round pick Danny Shelton as his moose in the middle. Shelton had five tackles from 5-technique. He also wrangled down Marcus Mariota for a sack. Impressive stuff for an 0-6 team.

    Grade: C

Baltimore Ravens

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    Offense: Did this team swap out offensive coordinators? Could have fooled me. Despite 23 carries from Terrance West, I saw a similar offense to the one former play-caller Marc Trestman left behind in Baltimore. Its main calling card? Penalties. Joe Flacco couldn’t move his team forward when it kept lining up incorrectly or jumping offside.

    Defense: Jimmy Smith was the only Ravens cornerback capable of matching Odell Beckham Jr.’s speed. He left the game with an injury and left the floodgates open. I couldn’t help but notice how slow the defensive backfield looked as it chased Beckham from behind. Smith might have that sixth gear, but no one else does.

    Grade: C-

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Offense: I’m surprised they didn’t give Le’Veon Bell 40-plus carries. Miami’s defense never would have stopped him. Instead, they let Ben Roethlisberger try his luck down the field on one good leg. He was picked twice; Pittsburgh’s offense is all or nothing when it comes to scoring. I still don’t know if the Steelers can sustain drives.

    Defense: Don’t blame the banged-up Steelers front. They were just bad. Laremy Tunsil locked down the left side, and Jay Ajayi skipped through holes bigger than the Roberto Clemente Bridge. They were dominated for a second straight road appearance. That’s a troubling trend.

    Grade: F

Atlanta Falcons

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    Offense: Seattle took a 17-3 lead into halftime, and I thought the rout was on. I was wrong; offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan made enough halftime adjustments to reposition his team for a huge road win. Chief among them: Julio Jones was placed directly across from Richard Sherman on a few big passes. Matt Ryan and Co. only lost on a questionable pass interference penalty. In the big picture, this was a big moral victory.

    Defense: Atlanta’s defensive backfield surprised me in a good way. Desmond Trufant held his ground against big Russell Wilson throws, for instance. Keanu Neal looked like Kam Chancellor swapped jerseys and played last Sunday. One downside? The pass rush that gave the Falcons such a boost against Denver went back in its shell.

    Grade: B

Carolina Panthers

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    Offense: Cam Newton wasn’t asked to scramble as much as I thought; Ron Rivera must have wanted to ease him back. Newton did everything else, though. The reigning MVP had 322 yards passing, but he should have had more with drops and throwaways. Reuniting Newton and Jonathan Stewart would have been scary in Week 2. Is it too late now that we’re six weeks in?

    Defense: Zack Sanchez was signed off the practice squad on Oct. 7. Nine days later, he was asked to play man against Brandin Cooks. Something does’t add up. Rivera’s coaching can only mask so much terrible play in coverage, right?

    Grade: D+

New Orleans Saints

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    Offense: I’ll never doubt you again, Sean Payton. New Orleans’ offense had the perfect plan to catch Carolina. In short: Find a Panthers cornerback and throw deep—especially to Brandin Cooks. When those throws weren’t there for Drew Brees, he could always come back underneath to Marques Colston 2.0, aka rookie Michael Thomas. The kid isn’t afraid to take a hit over the middle.

    Defense: You don’t need to go deep-sea diving to find the pearl in a bad Saints defensive effort. It was Cameron Jordan all day. New Orleans’ only remaining pass-rusher got to Cam Newton for two hits. He forced four early throws. And he also tallied two tackles at the line of scrimmage or better. Jordan’s team almost blew a 21-0 lead, but he was a silver lining nonetheless.

    Grade: B+

Indianapolis Colts

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    Offense: Frank Gore dialed his play back to The U for Sunday Night Football. His 106-yard evening was one of the more impressive rushing performances of the Andrew Luck era. Speaking of Luck, the Colts quarterback was slinging it early. He dealt high on some uncharacteristically bad throws that might have led to points. Maybe Jadeveon Clowney’s presence forced his hand.

    Defense: The wheels on this IndyCar fell off with about four minutes left in regulation. Brock Osweiler could do no wrong; the Texans quarterback led three consecutive scoring drives that might mask an otherwise off-target night. Indy’s meltdown was complete when it defended a deep Osweiler throw to perfection...and Jaelen Strong still caught it in overtime. Not good.

    Grade: C-

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Offense: Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon carried the ball 17 combined times. That’s nowhere near the balance an effective offense needs. But if Jacksonville is going to embrace an air-it-out philosophy, this is the year. Save for a few lapses with left tackle Kelvin Beachum, this unit pass-blocked well.

    Defense: Jalen Ramsey might want to focus his energies on the field instead of at the podium. News flash, Jalen: You’re a rookie, and teams aren’t afraid to throw at you. Johnathan Cyprien and Prince Amukamara were impressive, though. This group can find the football with a little more pressure.

    Grade: B

Houston Texans

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    Offense: A 14-point fourth-quarter comeback shouldn’t blur the facts. Would anyone complain in Houston if Brian Hoyer returned? Brock Osweiler’s off-target quarterbacking has epitomized mediocre. It’s not like this Colts defense stops anyone. Head coach Bill O’Brien is lucky he could lean on Lamar Miller, who finally broke out in red, white and blue (24 carries, 149 yards, 1 TD).

    Defense: Jadeveon Clowney is a machine. In pass rush or run support, the former No. 1 overall pick does something to impact the rhythm of each offensive play. Clowney and Whitney Mercilus dialed up their pressures as the Texans mounted their comeback. Luck went down three times in the game’s final two minutes.

    Grade: B-

Tennessee Titans

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    Offense: How do you stop the Titans attack? That answer is a little more complex after Week 6. DeMarco Murray took a week off from his regularly scheduled rushing heroics (65 yards on 21 carries). This time, Marcus Mariota did the heavy offensive lifting and threw Tennessee to its third win. Credit the second-year quarterback for finding Kendall Wright enough times to pull ahead for good.

    Defense: Let’s keep it simple, shall we? Almost every member of the Titans’ scary front seven got a sack. The time to stop sleeping on this Dick LeBeau-coached group is now.

    Grade: B+

San Francisco 49ers

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    Offense: Blaine Gabbert was the NFL’s most run-happy quarterback this season by a wide margin (no other passer was within 10 carries of his total before Week 6 started). So the plan is to put a more explosive runner in Gabbert’s spot and see what happens. Colin Kaepernick was either rusty or regressing in the pass game, but there’s no denying he’s a more natural athlete and a difference-maker back there. Three drops didn’t help his case.

    Defense: The big Ducks front looked ready to play; Oregon products Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner each grabbed at least one sack. Tramaine Brock was excellent in run support. The eight other 49ers defenders? They wanted no part of containing Buffalo’s run game. LeSean McCoy bounced outside as he pleased.

    Grade: D-

Arizona Cardinals

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    Offense: Bruce Arians’ team might have discovered a new identity Monday night. Eight different players caught passes, but none went over the 60-yard mark. Meanwhile, the Cardinals rode David Johnson 22 times for 111 yards and three magnificent rushing touchdowns. Arians should take it as a sign: Johnson, not an aging Carson Palmer, should be the focal point of this offense.

    Defense: Brandon Marshall bested Patrick Peterson on a few routes. His partner in the Cardinals defensive backfield looked much better, though. Tyrann Mathieu had a little extra pep in his step when he crashed the edge in run defense. Honey Badger also got his hands on a Geno Smith interception. Both are good signs for Arizona.

    Grade: A

Los Angeles Rams

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    Offense: Case Keenum can play lights-out. Kenny Britt can emerge as this team’s first true No. 1 receiver in years. But what happens when Todd Gurley can’t knock a 4th-and-goal in from the 1-yard line? They lose. It’s amazing how a team can lose sight of its offensive centerpiece so quickly into a season.

    Defense: Put a stopwatch on Matthew Stafford in the pocket. I’m willing to bet that he had between five and seven seconds to throw with regularity. That’s inexcusable when Aaron Donald plays one of those front-four positions. L.A. plays too soft in coverage behind its super-aggressive front, and Stafford exposed it.

    Grade: B-

Seattle Seahawks

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    Offense: This Seahawks offense offers a little bit of everything—read-option, Jimmy Graham isolation plays, etc. It still lacks the kind of power-run game we’ve seen in Seattle in years past. Most of the Seahawks' Week 6 rushing yards came after contact. That tells me guards such as Germain Ifedi and Mark Glowinski need to do a better job pushing D-lines around.

    Defense: An injury forced Michael Bennett into a premature exit this week. Had he stayed, the Seahawks star would’ve put together a signature game of quarterback harassing. Credit defensive coordinator Kris Richard for preparing the reserves—and also dealing with Richard Sherman’s sideline gripes.

    Grade: B+

Denver Broncos

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    Offense: Gary Kubiak’s offense was too vanilla to exploit a Chargers secondary minus Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers. That’s manageable—plenty of teams win with a super-predictable passing attack. Denver makes it even tougher on Trevor Siemian and its run game, though. It’s inside zone and outside zone, and that’s it. Teams will be right 50 percent of the time against C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker.

    Defense: For my money, Denver still has the best defense in professional football. Remember: Thursday Night Football was a 10-3 game at halftime, despite Siemian’s 39 passing yards. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ group held San Diego to four field goals, including one on a short field.

    Grade: C-

San Diego Chargers

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    Offense: Ken Whisenhunt parlayed Philip Rivers’ quick release into a head coaching job not too long ago. He’s back in San Diego these days, but his play-calling approach hasn’t changed. Whisenhunt’s mission? Get the ball out of No. 17’s hands as soon as humanly possible. Check it down, if need be, to emerging tight end Hunter Henry. It helped keep Von Miller’s pressures to a minimum.

    Defense: Joey Bosa is back from contract limbo...and he brought some swagger with him. The Ohio State product’s output (two official quarterback hits, much more pressure) is contagious. Fellow rookie Jatavis Brown caught on when he pried a huge fumble away from Demaryius Thomas in the fourth quarter. So did San Diego’s secondary; Trevor Siemian had 72 passing yards through three quarters.

    Grade: A-

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Offense: Deep throws aren’t Alex Smith’s cup of tea. I counted only five throws that went a full 10 yards or more downfield in 22 attempts. The more impressive number? Three. That’s how many incompletions Kansas City’s quarterback threw all afternoon. Smith took care of business—and took advantage of a big rushing day from Spencer Ware—with ruthless efficiency.

    Defense: The Derek Carr-Amari Cooper-Michael Crabtree trio has scared plenty of defensive coordinators. Not Bob Sutton. Kansas City’s defensive play-caller drew up plays to pressure Carr (two sacks from Dee Ford), stymie Cooper (one second-half catch) and eliminate Crabtree (two catches for 10 yards overall).

    Grade: A+

Oakland Raiders

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    Offense: Amari Cooper could have had a 300-yard afternoon in Week 6. Instead, the Raiders decided to forgo any creativity when it came to getting No. 89 the ball. The end result? Cooper had eight more catches for 109 more yards in the first half than the second. It was a disappearing act.

    Defense: This defense is a joke. At no point during the game did I get the sense that Oakland could slow down Kansas City. The playbook wasn’t "Intro to Rocket Science," either. Spencer Ware gashed this group by either running straight at it or catching a pass and running by it. Khalil Mack was relatively silent.

    Grade: D+

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