B/R Staff NFL Week 6 Report Card: Bill Callahan Gets Washington Back on Track

NFL StaffContributor IOctober 14, 2019

B/R Staff NFL Week 6 Report Card: Bill Callahan Gets Washington Back on Track

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    When two NFL squads that entered Sunday winless provided the weekend's most competitive contest, the rest of the regular slate must have gone off the rails somewhere.

    An early-morning kickoff got Week 6's Sunday slate started. Unfortunately, the international community "enjoyed" a sloppy contest between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jameis Winston threw five interceptions in London. But more on that later.

    The day didn't get much better when teams not on ridiculous travel schedules met.

    The Cleveland Browns blew a 20-6 lead. The once-mighty Kansas City Chiefs fell for the second time in as many weeks. The Minnesota Vikings thumped the Philadelphia Eagles. The New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars combined to score one touchdown.

    All this nonsense happened during the early portion of Sunday's play.

    The late-afternoon slate saw the Sam Darnold-led New York Jets slip past the Dallas Cowboys, the Atlanta Falcons continue to falter and two less-than-competitive matchups: the San Francisco 49ers versus the Los Angeles Rams and the Tennessee Titans versus the Denver Broncos.

    Now six weeks into the regular season, teams are beaten up and adjusting to the realities of professional football. Only a couple of squads are really good. The majority of the league's franchises are mediocre. And some downright awful clubs are masquerading as supposed opposition.

    Bleacher Report's group of NFL writers attempt to discern and grade a few of the negatives, as well as some positives, from Sunday's action.

         

Bill Callahan's HC Debut in Washington

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Washington Redskins fired head coach Jay Gruden after last week's 33-7 loss to the New England Patriots. Team brass named Bill Callahan the interim head coach.

    Both moves made sense after Washington's 0-5 start, and Callahan might be able to right the ship since he's an experienced coach with previous stints leading squads.

    Washington eked out a 17-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins thanks to a failed last-second two-point conversion.

    "Games like this, two winless teams, everybody pulls out the stops," Callahan said after the contest, per the Associated Press. "It was wild all the way to the last minute."

    How did Washington look with Callahan leading the way?

    Ty Dunne: D

    Callahan beat a team desperately trying to get beat every week. By one point. No need to schedule the Super Bowl parade in D.C. quite yet.

    Mike Freeman: D

    They barely beat the awful Dolphins. Callahan isn't the problem. The owner and front office are. Until those two things change, this team will stink.

    Mike Tanier: C

    Congratulations! You beat the Dolphins! Barely! Let's hope no one in Washington thinks this victory vindicates "establishing the run" or making veterans run sprints to signal a "culture change." (Everyone in the organization believes 100 percent in both those things.)

    Brent Sobleski: B

    A team can only beat the opponent placed in front of it. Washington shouldn't be dinged for beating the Dolphins when it entered the game without a win. Callahan was fortunate Miami played for the win instead of a tie, but he walked away with a victory in his first game as interim head coach.

    Brad Gagnon: D

    Callahan's team was lucky to beat arguably the worst team in NFL history. No way you can give him a good grade just because he won since we all know he's just a placeholder.

    Gary Davenport: D

    Well, Callahan wasn't kidding when he said he was going to commit to the run. Washington ran the ball 33 times and threw it 25 in a one-point win over the hapless Dolphins. This will probably be the only week that caveman approach to offense works, though, and all it really did was cost Washington draft position.

Christian McCaffrey's MVP Chances After Down Day

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    Tim Ireland/Associated Press

    An early look at the battle for MVP already appears to feature a two-horse race with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey leading the way.

    McCaffrey leads the NFL with 618 rushing yards while carrying a Panthers offense with Kyle Allen behind center. The Buccaneers held him in check, though. The versatile runner carried the ball 22 times for 31 yards and a score Sunday, though he did catch four passes for 27 yards and another touchdown.

    Wilson, meanwhile, brought the Seahawks back from a 20-6 deficit with a near-flawless 295-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Cleveland Browns.

    Have McCaffrey's MVP chances lessened after these latest performances?

    Ty Dunne: B

    McCaffrey still scored twice, and the Panthers still won, so his sluggish day in London shouldn't hurt his MVP chances too much. More than his 1.4 yards per carry, what hurt McCaffrey's MVP chances was another brilliant day from Russell Wilson.

    Mike Freeman: B+

    McCaffrey's so good that when he scores two touchdowns, we think of it as a down day. He remains the most spectacular offensive player in football.

    Mike Tanier: C+

    Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson.

    Brent Sobleski: B

    Yes, the MVP is pretty much a quarterback award, and Wilson should be the frontrunner. But the second part of that statement has nothing to do with Sunday's play. McCaffrey still scored a pair of touchdowns and provided a couple of dazzling open-field plays. He's very much in the mix, even if Wilson has the early edge. 

    Brad Gagnon: D-

    McCaffrey has almost no shot at MVP unless he breaks the single-season record for rushing yards or scrimmage yards, and his chances took a huge hit with just 57 yards as a rusher and receiver Sunday. He's had two ugly performances against the Bucs defense this season, and that probably already takes him out of the MVP race.

    Gary Davenport: F

    McCaffrey didn't post ridiculous yardage numbers in Week 6, but he found the end zone twice in a Panthers win. None of that really matters, though. McCaffrey is not a quarterback, so his odds of winning MVP were already remote.

Jameis Winston's Long-Term Job Security in Tampa Bay

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    Tim Ireland/Associated Press

    Jameis Winston's season-long audition to become the Buccaneers' long-term starter hit a major bump while driving on the other side of the road in London.

    Winston threw five interceptions and lost a fumble in a 37-26 loss to the rival Panthers. In doing so, he produced his fifth four-turnover game since entering the league. No one else has two during the same span, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

    At the same time, the 2015 No. 1 overall pick became the first Buccaneer ever and only the fifth quarterback 25 years old or younger to throw for 100 touchdowns, per ESPN's Jenna Laine.

    The talent is obvious, but so are the mistakes. Should the Buccaneers attempt to build their franchise around Winston, who is set to become a free agent after this season?

    Ty Dunne: C+

    Yikes. Bad Jameis was back in a big way. Right when we all think that maybe, just maybe, he's turning a corner with Bruce Arians and a few solid performances, Winston regresses like that. Arians is such a great coach and the Bucs are so loaded at receiver that I don't think we should all write Winston off quite yet.

    Mike Freeman: F

    He's gone. His time in Tampa Bay is over. It's only a matter of when.

    Mike Tanier: B

    He's a tenured professor who can fall asleep in front of the lecture hall three times per week and still not lose his job. Predicting Winston will lose his job is like predicting Tom Brady will get old. After years of being wrong, I'm just not gonna do it anymore.

    Brent Sobleski: F

    Winston can't be trusted because he's a turnover machine. The last thing any coach wants is an untrustworthy quarterback. None of this is new. His poor decision-making and turnovers date back to his time at Florida State.

    Brad Gagnon: D

    There have been too many young quarterback success stories of late to pay Winston, who continues to be remarkably inconsistent, unreliable and mistake-prone. Barring an unbelievable turnaround, I think he's done. The only question will be where he lands as a backup in 2020.

    Gary Davenport: D

    I can't rule out the Buccaneers re-upping Winston because NFL teams get the yips when it comes to the idea of parting with a quarterback. But Sunday's six-turnover debacle showed he's not the long-term answer for Tampa—unless you like turnovers.

Tyreek Hill's Return

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    Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

    Tyreek Hill injured his sternum and collarbone during the Chiefs' Week 1 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars and didn't play in the four subsequent contests. The wide receiver returned Sunday with spectacular results.

    Hill led the Chiefs with five receptions for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 10 targets in the 31-24 loss to the Houston Texans.

    How did the three-time Pro Bowl selection's lineup reinsertion impact the Chiefs?

        

    Ty Dunne: A

    The threat of Tyreek Hill deep looms every play. If he's not beating you deep, he's probably opening up something for a receiver underneath. Even though the Chiefs lost the game, he scored twice and, with arguably the most difficult catch of the season, reminded everyone how much more dynamic he makes the most dynamic offense in football.

    Mike Freeman: A

    Hill showed why he's one of the most formidable offensive players in the sport. The Chiefs lost, but having Hill back will pay off even bigger than it did this week.

    Mike Tanier: B

    Two touchdowns, one of them a miracle, but some sloppiness and inconsistency mixed in. Let's face it: We expected the Chiefs to drop 50 points on their opponent when Hill returned. The fact it didn't happen could turn out to be a season-defining problem.

    Brent Sobleski: C

    Let me be perfectly clear: Hill is a dynamic weapon and an elite target. However, his return simply offset the loss of the injured Sammy Watkins. Furthermore, Hill's penchant for breathtaking plays doesn't neutralize the Chiefs' protection issues. Right now, Eric Fisher's return would mean far more.

    Brad Gagnon: B-

    The 46-yard touchdown catch was obviously awesome, and I'm taking into account the fact he likely wasn't 100 percent. Still, aside from that poorly defended play, he caught just four of nine passes for 34 yards, and he was nowhere to be seen in the fourth quarter.

    Gary Davenport: B

    From a statistical standpoint, Hill's return to the lineup was great. But I can't give Hill an "A" when the Chiefs dropped their second straight game at Arrowhead.

Miami Benching Josh Rosen

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Josh Rosen remains the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback as long as it's convenient.

    "Josh will continue to be the starter," head coach Brian Flores told reporters after he benched Rosen during Sunday's 17-16 loss to Washington. "If we feel like we need a spark and [Ryan Fitzpatrick] has to go in, we'll continue to do that."

    Rosen threw for only 85 yards and a pair of interceptions before he was yanked. Did Flores make the right move by benching the 22-year-old signal-caller?

    Ty Dunne: F

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is a better QB than Josh Rosen. Josh Rosen is much younger and, thus, deserves more snaps to see whether he's worth being the QB long term. What a mess. Let's just give everything in Miami a firm "F" until further notice.

    Mike Freeman: F

    Rosen or Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick or Rosen. Unless Dan Marino emerges from cryogenic freezing, it matters not.

    Mike Tanier: F

    Planning to give Rosen a season-long audition and then yanking him after three quarters is a good way to tank at tanking.

    Brent Sobleski: D

    In this instance, "D" stands for dumb. Yes, the Dolphins nearly pulled out a victory, but that's shortsighted. The team is trying to achieve two goals. It needs to know whether Rosen can be the long-term starter, and, if he's not, it must play poorly enough to draft a franchise quarterback. Miami achieves neither by playing Fitzpatrick.

    Brad Gagnon: F

    Absolutely awful decision. Miami almost accidentally won the damn game.

    Gary Davenport: F

    Yes, Rosen was terrible against Washington in Week 6. He's been mostly terrible for the Dolphins, just as he was last year in Arizona. But by rolling out Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins almost messed around and won. Winning a meaningless game and blowing the first overall pick in 2020 would be a very Dolphins thing to do.

Sam Darnold's Return

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    Sam Darnold returned to the Jets lineup after a bout of mononucleosis, which cost him the previous three games. He helped lead his team to a 24-22 victory over the visiting Cowboys.

    The second-year quarterback threw for 338 yards, a pair of touchdowns and an interception.

    More importantly, New York entered Sunday's game ranked dead last in total offense. The Jets averaged 179.5 yards per game through their first four contests. The unit managed 382 total yards against the Cowboys.

    The Jets performed much better as a whole. How did Darnold function individually?

    Ty Dunne: A+

    This is why folks in the greater New Jersey/New York area were so excited about the Jets leading into this season. Wow. With Darnold's mono behind him, the Jets have hope again. He was fantastic. Adam Gase can officially turn that frown upside down.

    Mike Freeman: A

    I didn't know mono turned you into Hawkeye (from the Avengers, not M*A*S*H). The team is markedly better with Darnold, and some of the passes he tossed were absolutely gorgeous. Are we seeing the beginning of a Jets run?

    Mike Tanier: A-

    It wasn't perfect, but it's amazing how close to perfect adequacy can look after a month of humiliation.

    Brent Sobleski: B+

    The Jets offense looked competent. That fact alone is a gigantic step in the right direction. Darnold can't cover up all of New York's deficiencies, but he makes the team competitive, which is far more than they were without him.

    Brad Gagnon: B

    Darnold made some killer throws against a relatively talented defense, and he did so despite the fact he probably felt like garbage. My brother had mono this summer, and I can guarantee you Darnold isn't close to 100 percent yet. Under those circumstances, this was impressive.

    Gary Davenport: A

    Darnold topped 300 yards, tossed two touchdown passes, posted a passer rating north of 110 and led the Jets to their first win of the season. Other than that, he was just OK.

Ryan Tannehill as Titans' QB for Rest of the Year

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    The flirtation with Marcus Mariota being pulled in favor of Ryan Tannehill finally became reality. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel decided to make the move after Mariota threw his second interception in a 16-0 loss to the Denver Broncos.

    "At that point in time, we're really just trying to find a way to move the football and score some points," Vrabel told reporters about the decision. "... We were in the game, and we needed to find a way to score."

    Tannehill was far more efficient while completing 81.3 percent of his passes, but he also threw an interception.

    "It was OK," Vrabel said of Tannehill's performance, per ESPN's Turron Davenport. "It wasn't good enough."

    Should the Titans name Tannehill their starting quarterback?

    Ty Dunne: C

    Let's call this one right down the middle because we pretty much know everything we need to know about both Tannehill and Mariota and, chances are, the Titans are going to yo-yo between the two the rest of the season. Buckle up!

    Mike Freeman: F

    Might as well start Marcus Mariota next week. His interceptions look prettier.

    Mike Tanier: A

    Tannehill is never the answer, but Mariota has been so mediocre for so long that the Titans need to at least start asking the question.

    Brent Sobleski: F

    Starting Tannehill accomplishes absolutely nothing. Another franchise already gave him seven seasons to prove he's not the answer. Mariota still might be, even though those odds decrease with each passing day.

    Brad Gagnon: F

    Even if you argue Tannehill gives Tennessee a slightly better chance to win, is that worth it? Might as well give Mariota one final chance at redemption so you can be absolutely sure he's not the answer. Tennessee would be better off tanking with Mariota than sputtering with Tannehill.

    Gary Davenport: C-

    Now that the move has been made, the Titans might as well give Tannehill a start or two. But he's not likely to have much more success than Mariota. The Titans stink.

Sean McVay's Offense Through 6 Weeks

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    The Los Angeles Rams offense isn't exactly clicking on all cylinders. Statistically, it's not quite as good as last year's. The San Francisco 49ers held their rival to 157 total yards and sacked Jared Goff four times in a 20-7 victory.

    "Was it a humbling day for us? Absolutely, but it's something we're going to learn from," Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters after the contest. 

    Los Angeles, meanwhile, is suffering through its first three-game losing streak in the McVay era.

    Has the Rams offense taken a step back this season?

    Ty Dunne: B

    Wild how things change in this league, right? One minute, anyone who knows McVay is getting head coaching jobs, the next the Rams are gaining 10 first downs, scoring seven points and producing under 100 yards through the air against the 49ers. Here's thinking this dud of a game had more to do with the 49ers defense being legit and Todd Gurley's absence than real panic in L.A.

    Mike Freeman: D

    Jared Goff's significant regression has been one of the more stunning stories this season. The scariest part for the Rams is McVay doesn't seem to know how to fix him.

    Mike Tanier: C

    This is what getting figured out looks like. It's time to see what sort of counterpunches McVay can throw.

    Brent Sobleski: C

    The 49ers' defensive front is made up of a bunch of badasses. Being whooped by those dudes is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially since the Rams aren't as stout up front as they were a year ago.

    Brad Gagnon: C+

    I'm not ready to condemn an offense that still scored 29.2 points per game in the first five weeks of the season. But the personnel isn't what it once was, and Goff has been badly exposed as a result. They're a lot better than they were against an excellent 49ers defense, but we might have to accept the fact this isn't an elite offense anymore.

    Gary Davenport: D

    The Rams are still a good team, and the 49ers defense deserves its share of credit for shutting them down in Week 6. But 157 total yards, seven points and an oh-fer on third and fourth down aren't going to get the Rams back to the Super Bowl. They haven't been right since that game, and there's no easy fix that will instantly change that.