B/R Staff NFL Week 7 Report Card: Rain Doesn't Ruin Kyle Shanahan's Revenge

NFL StaffContributor IOctober 21, 2019

B/R Staff NFL Week 7 Report Card: Rain Doesn't Ruin Kyle Shanahan's Revenge

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan set the table for the NFL's Week 7 slate with a nuclear-level burn on a previous team.

    Shanahan returned to Washington six years after he and his father received their walking papers. During the week, reporters asked Shanahan what was the best part of coaching in Washington. He responded, "Working with my dad."

    The next question was obvious: What was the worst part?

    "Everything else," Shanahan said.

    Imagine the level of vitriol necessary to throw that much shade after three different stops beyond that point in his career.

    The front-runner for quote of the year also served as a metaphor for multiple other storylines throughout the weekend: Change is good.

    Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Marcus Peters both made impacts in their first starts with new squads. Jacoby Brissett continues to impress despite not being the Indianapolis Colts' chosen leader. Two organizations invested top-10 picks in quarterbacks, and both were on the field with varying results. 

    What's the best part about working for Bleacher Report? Its team of NFL writers, who gathered together to grade each of these changes and more.

    The worst part? Deciding which players, coaches or teams deserve failing grades. (OK, that's still part of the fun.)

        

Jalen Ramsey’s Debut for the Rams

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Jalen Ramsey has a new home, and he's a natural fit with the Los Angeles Rams.

    On Tuesday, the Rams sent 2020 first-, 2021 first- and 2021-fourth round picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the 24-year-old cornerback. After months of bitterness, Ramsey is ecstatic with his new digs.

    "I was overjoyed. I was super, super excited," Ramsey told reporters after the trade. "A fresh start and a fresh start at a place like L.A. with the culture that I've heard about here." 

    In his first start with the Rams, Ramsey shadowed the game's best wide receiver, Julio Jones, in a 37-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

    How did Ramsey look in his new colors?

       

    Ty Dunne: A

    The knee-jerk reaction is to rip teams for giving away first-round picks in any trade, but give it up for the Rams. They see a Super Bowl window and know they must maximize that window. Every time he's on the field, Ramsey proves he's one of the best shutdown corners in the game—this trade was an absolute game-changer for all the right reasons in L.A.

    Mike Freeman: A

    Ramsey wasn't perfect, but you see why the Rams traded so much for him. He's physical, hard to beat one-on-one and adds an exceptionally smart and athletic defender to that defense.

    Mike Tanier: B+

    It's hard to evaluate any defender facing the Atlanta SurrenderBirds, even the guy shadowing Julio Jones. But Jones was quiet for most of the game, and Matt Ryan took a lot of sacks (and an injury) while searching for someone else to throw to. That's exactly the kind of impact the Rams were looking for.

    Brent Sobleski: A

    Ramsey could have played horribly—he didn't—and still received a positive grade because he's exactly the type of player worthy of such a trade. He's a playmaker at a premium position in his prime. His length and physicality are exactly what Wade Phillips wants for his scheme.

    Brad Gagnon: A-

    He gave up just a few catches in coverage against one of the best wide receivers of this era, and he did so despite that fact he's not 100 percent (back) and has barely practiced with his new team. Throw in that he forced a fumble, and you have to applaud his debut.

    Gary Davenport: B+

    Given that Ramsey has only been with the Rams less than a week, he played about as well against the Falcons as you could reasonably expect. Ryan had topped 300 passing yards in every game this year—he didn't clear 160 against the Rams.

Kyle Shanahan’s Return to Washington

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Kyle Shanahan spent four seasons as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator alongside his father, Mike, who served as the organization's head coach from 2010 to '13.

    Numerous issues, starting with the handling of then-franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III, became a major point of contention and ultimately cost both Shanahans their jobs.

    The younger coach never forgot how the organization dealt with the situation and presented his father with the game ball after Sunday's rain-soaked 9-0 victory, according to the Associated Press.

    How did Shanahan handle his return to Washington despite the inclement weather?

       

    Ty Dunne: A

    He won, he remains undefeated and he's a front-runner for NFL Coach of the Year. It's still insane Washington let Shanahan and McVay and LaFleur all get away—fitting that they scored zero points in Shanahan's return.

    Mike Freeman: B

    Shanahan got to see what a dumpster fire this Washington team has become. Then again, he already knew that.

    Mike Tanier: B

    He's had an outstanding year as a play-caller. But Shanahan probably took one look at the condition of the field and thanked his lucky stars that he no longer plays for that nightmare organization.

    Brent Sobleski: A

    A win is a win. Seeing the offense you once coached slip and sputter with 154 total yards makes the victory even sweeter. The 49ers are now an elite squad led by Shanahan, while Washington still has no clue what it's doing. 

    Brad Gagnon: B+

    I'm sure he would have loved to score some touchdowns against his former team, but it also must have been satisfying to shut out the offense he once ran. With the weather also factoring in, he deserves a strong grade despite the nine-point offensive showing.

    Gary Davenport: W (for wet)

    It's hard to read too much into San Francisco's soggy win over a Redskins team that's so pitiful it perhaps stole most of the joy from getting a measure of revenge. By game's end, Shanahan was probably relishing the idea of being dry more than the idea of Daniel Snyder being mad.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s Ability to Lead 49ers on a Super Bowl Run

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Washington's offense wasn't the only unit to struggle in Sunday's downpour. The 49ers managed 283 total yards and didn't score a touchdown.

    Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn't handle a wet ball all that well; he completed 12 of 21 passes for 151 yards and an interception.

    Obviously, the weather played a factor. Both of the 49ers' starting offensive tackles are injured. The unit lacks weapons at wide receiver as well.

    Based on everything so far, how has Garoppolo performed in the 49ers' 6-0 start and is his play good enough to help lead the team to a Super Bowl?

       

    Ty Dunne: A

    It was ugly Sunday, without question, but the 49ers still made a cross-country trip and won in crummy conditions. They should make no apologies. With that defense and that head coach calling plays, San Francisco remains the best team in the NFC right now.

    Mike Freeman: B

    All Garoppolo has to do most games is not screw up. That San Francisco defense is the true star. If the 49ers get to a Super Bowl, which they can, it will be because of the defensive side of the football.

    Mike Tanier: C

    It was impossible to evaluate anything in Sunday's Washington mudwallow, but so far this season Garoppolo looks like one of those quarterbacks folks pretend is playing really well because his team is playing well. Those quarterbacks (and teams) usually fizzle in December and early January.

    Brent Sobleski: C+

    With Sunday's contest, Garoppolo finished his first full season (16 games) as a starter. No one knows exactly who the 27-year-old signal-caller really is. With that said, Garoppolo completed 69.9 percent of his passes before the rain-soaked affair in Washington. He's good enough with Shanahan calling plays. 

    Brad Gagnon: C

    The 49ers might be a Super Bowl team, but if that happens, it'll be because they're a complete team with an elite defense and superb running game. The jury's still out on Garoppolo, who failed to do much partly due to poor conditions Sunday.

    Gary Davenport: B-

    If the 49ers have an Achilles' heel in 2019, it's likely Garoppolo and the passing game. It's hard to imagine him winning a duel with Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. But with the way that defense and running game has played, he may not have to do that much to lead the Niners deep into the playoffs.

Jacoby Brissett’s Chances at MVP

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    Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

    Andrew Luck's retirement will go down as one of the most surprising departures in professional football history. The Indianapolis Colts didn't panic, though, because they had a talented and experienced backup in Jacoby Brissett.

    At this juncture, Brissett shouldn't have the backup label because he's outperforming most starters. Brissett set new career highs Sunday with 326 passing yards and four touchdowns in a 30-23 victory over the rival Houston Texans. The 4-2 Colts now sit atop the AFC South.

    Considering the extenuating circumstances and Brissett's individual play, what are the chances the Colts' quarterback becomes a legitimate MVP candidate?

       

    Ty Dunne: C

    Brissett was phenomenal against a rolling Texans team—and he's been way better this season than any of us realize—but we should probably wait on the MVP talk for now.

    Mike Freeman: A

    Brissett remains one of the most underrated players in the league. Is he an MVP candidate? Hell yes, he is. The offense isn't as explosive as it was under Luck, but it's more consistently good. He's one of the best surprises of this season.

    Mike Tanier: D

    I have no interest in dislocating my shoulder on this reach. Let's reward Brissett with a long-term starting job (in Indy or elsewhere) first before we dream big.

    Brent Sobleski: B+

    Take away the names for a moment and consider this: Only three quarterbacks have thrown more touchdowns passes than Brissett this season. Two are former MVPs, while the other is the current front-runner for the award. Brissett's 14 touchdown tosses fall one behind the 15 of Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson. And Brissett has played in one fewer game. 

    Brad Gagnon: C

    This might have been his best game yet, but it's not as though he's carrying the Colts. This is a great all-around team, and Frank Reich's offense has made it easier for Brissett to succeed. By all indications this game was an anomaly in terms of Brissett's aggressiveness. He still hasn't made close to enough big-time throws to be a top-tier MVP candidate.

    Gary Davenport: C-

    This is not a knock on Brissett. But the MVP race is part popularity contest and part performance review. As things stand right now, it's hard to see Brissett beating out a bigger name like Wilson. But that this question is even being posed speaks to how well Brissett has played.

Rookie QB Bowl

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Two quarterbacks heard their names called among the top-10 selections in April's NFL draft.

    The Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray first overall, while the New York Giants surprised many when they chose Daniel Jones with the sixth pick.

    The two teams met Sunday with their first-year signal-callers leading the way.

    Murray threw for only 104 yards in the Cardinals' 27-21 victory. Jones produced 223 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception in the loss.

    Which rookie performed better?

         

    Ty Dunne: Murray, C; Jones, D

    Murray and Jones had near-identical passer ratings with neither getting much of anything going. Especially Jones. The Cardinals took the ball out of their rookie's hands more, leaning on running back Chase Edmonds, and that was the difference. Just a reminder that both players still have a ways to go.

    Mike Freeman: Murray, B; Jones, C

    Murray has already demonstrated his potential is incredibly high, and everyone again saw examples of that in this game. He's smart, plays like he's been in the NFL for a decade, and is athletic.

    Jones also demonstrated some of those moments, and I'd be encouraged if I were a Giants fan. But he's taking some absolutely brutal shots, and his head coach isn't very good.

    Mike Tanier: Murray, C-; Jones, D+

    Murray had some strong games leading up to Week 7, but he spent a lot of Sunday trying to Madden scramble like a little kid impersonating Russell Wilson on a playground (when he wasn't handing off).

    Some (ahem) dimes, some miserable plays and some bad circumstances from Jones. I'm sure there's someone out there who thinks that how Jones played in a steady rain proves everything that was said about him before the draft.

    Brent Sobleski: Murray, C; Jones, C

    The game wasn't won or lost based on quarterback play. The Cardinals succeeded with a strong running attack, whereas Jones still produced despite breakdowns throughout the Giants offense. Really, both flashed, and that's all you can ask of rookie quarterbacks.

    Brad Gagnon: Murray, D; Jones, B

    Murray's Cardinals won, but Jones outplayed the No. 1 overall pick. He took a ton of sacks but also made some impressive throws under pressure and was actually better with his legs. He was also victimized by several drops. Meanwhile, Murray had a clean pocket much of the day but hardly attempted anything deep.

    Gary Davenport: Murray, C+; Jones, D

    Neither young quarterback exactly lit it up, though given how bad the weather was in the second half, that's largely forgivable. What wasn't was Jones' three turnovers—the Giants aren't a good enough team to overcome those kinds of mistakes.

Chase Edmonds Is Cardinals' Answer at RB

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    David Johnson and his mega-contract carried the ball once Sunday for the Arizona Cardinals. He didn't catch a pass, either.

    Instead, the Cardinals turned to Chase Edmonds since Johnson still has a balky ankle. The 2018 fourth-round pick didn't disappoint with 27 carries for 126 yards and three scores.

    "I told [head coach Kliff Kingsbury], 'I'm going to carry this load and hold it down,'" Edmonds said, per the Arizona Republic's Bob McManaman.

    He certainly did. How strongly should the Cardinals consider pushing Johnson out of the starting role once he's fully healed based on Edmonds' play?

       

    Ty Dunne: B

    Johnson, when healthy, is a top-five back in the entire league, but...wow. How do you not feature Edmonds after this performance? The Cardinals should ride the hot hand as long as they can.

    Mike Freeman: A

    It's only one game, but there were teams that thought Edmonds had a chance to be more than a backup when he was drafted. Some teams believed he could be a consistent starter and you see why.

    Mike Tanier: C+

    Sure, as long as each week the Cardinals face a defense fooled by those two tricky new plays Kingsbury brought with him from college: inside and outside zone.

    Brent Sobleski: A

    Edmonds brings juice to Arizona's lineup. He's clearly more explosive than Johnson at this point. This allows Edmonds to be ultra-successful when the Cardinals come out in 10 personnel, spread the field and create creases against light boxes.

    Brad Gagnon: A

    He was quietly averaging 6.7 yards per carry prior to Sunday's huge performance, which indicates this might not have been an aberration. He looks like a much better option than Johnson.

    Gary Davenport: B

    Edmonds has been great, and the Cardinals need to keep him involved. But Johnson is hardly a bum, so the smart play is for Kingsbury to figure out a way to get the ball in both runners' hands.

Marcus Peters' Debut in Baltimore

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    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    Jalen Ramsey wasn't the only big-name cornerback traded this past week.

    The Rams flipped Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for linebacker Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round draft pick so the defense had room for Ramsey. The Ravens quickly benefited from Peters' acquisition, much like the Rams did with Ramsey.

    The 26-year-old defensive back made a wonderful first impression with a 67-yard pick-six in his first Ravens appearance. More importantly, fellow cornerback Marlon Humphrey told Ryan Mink of the team's official site that Peters was "calling out plays throughout the entire game and was helping to pick up his teammates on the sideline."

    Could Peters' debut in purple have gone any better?

       

    Ty Dunne: A

    Hard to argue with this low-risk move by the Ravens. They're not on the hook long term and, in the short term, you get plays like Peters' pick-six on Sunday. When he's on, he's on.

    Mike Freeman: A

    One week, Peters will get burned so bad he time-travels. The next week, he'll look like Deion Sanders. This week he was the latter.

    Mike Tanier: A

    Oh yeah, that's right: The Rams traded Peters before they traded for Ramsey. Forgot about that. Anyway, Peters is gonna mix a few games like this with ones where he forgets which position he plays and allows three touchdowns. It's good to start things off on the right foot.

    Brent Sobleski: A

    That Peters had vital communication with the rest of the defensive backs throughout his first game despite very little practice time says far more about his play than the touchdown.

    Brad Gagnon: A+

    The Ravens won big on the road against a good team, Peters was lights-out in coverage against the league's leading MVP candidate, and he provided a pick-six as a cherry on top. Couldn't have asked for a better debut. We know he has the talent. Now you wonder if he'll experience a rejuvenation in Baltimore.

    Gary Davenport: A

    Peters notched a pick-six in Baltimore's huge win less than a week after joining the team. Is that good? It sounds good.

Sean Payton's Coaching Job Without Drew Brees at QB

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    The New Orleans Saints improved to 5-0 during Drew Brees' absence with Sunday's 36-25 victory over the Chicago Bears.

    As impressive as the record is, it's even more so considering running back Alvin Kamara, wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith and tight end Jared Cook didn't play in the Saints' latest contest. Yet the offense led by Teddy Bridgewater still managed 424 yards against a talented Bears defense.

    Is this the best coaching job Sean Payton has done throughout his career?

       

    Ty Dunne: A+

    No Brees. No Kamara. And it didn't matter, not even against a Bears defense we all thought was one of the best in the entire league. The numbers are ridiculous: 424 yards, 24 first downs, 36 points. And now that Payton finally has a suffocating defense of his own, he can call a different type of game on offense.

    Mike Freeman: A

    Bill Belichick is the best coach in football. The second-best might be Payton. What he's done this year—both on offense and defense—has been remarkable. It's one of the best pure coaching jobs I've ever seen.

    Mike Tanier: A+

    What the Saints have done without Brees, without Kamara this week, without a first-round pick this year and without two nickels' worth of cap space to rub together because of Brees' contract has been nearly miraculous.

    Brent Sobleski: A

    Payton is clearly the NFL's second-best head coach. Unfortunately, he's done his job in an era when Belichick overshadows everyone else. It's not just about losing Brees, either, because Bridgewater is quite talented. The Saints are well-rounded and can win games in all three phases.

    Brad Gagnon: A+

    Without Brees and Kamara, the Saints just scored 34 offensive points on the road against a defensive juggernaut that was coming off its bye week. Chicago hadn't allowed more than 30 regulation points on defense in a game since November 2017. Bridgewater is a solid quarterback, but that's still legendary. 

    Gary Davenport: A

    Bridgewater deserves a ton of credit, too. But Payton has done a masterful job of both calling plays that play to Bridgewater's strengths and rallying the team around its backup quarterback.

Chargers' Decision to Ride Melvin Gordon over Austin Ekeler

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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers' 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans goes down as one of the most baffling of all time. 

    From the 1-yard line with 34 seconds remaining—after a false start, incomplete pass and pass interference penalty—the Chargers attempted two running plays with no timeouts. Melvin Gordon III had a touchdown call reversed on the first and fumbled on the second.

    Gordon averaged 2.0 yards per carry on 16 totes. Austin Ekeler didn't fare much better with seven yards on five carries, but he was a big part of the passing game with seven receptions for 118 yards and a score.

    Did the Chargers make a mistake by emphasizing Gordon near the goal line instead of giving Ekeler a chance?

       

    Ty Dunne: F

    This is the most baffling self-inflicted wound in the NFL. The Chargers were rolling on offense while featuring Ekeler, their own homegrown star, in every possible way. Gordon returned and now their season is completely spiraling out of control. Note to all: If something's working, let it be.

    Mike Freeman: D

    Ekeler is the better player. He should have gotten the football late. It's really that simple, and the fact that he didn't get a touch is a massive coaching fail.

    Mike Tanier: C-

    I look at Gordon's carries as a way to keep Ekeler fresh as a receiver. I also tuned out of Chargers football about three weeks ago. Sorry (not sorry).

    Brent Sobleski: D

    The Chargers aren't a complete failure because they did get Ekeler involved late in the game, and he nearly scored the game-winning touchdown only to come up a half-yard short. Then, the coaching staff relegated Ekeler to receiver instead of using the offense's most explosive player with the game on the line.

    Brad Gagnon: F

    I know Ekeler didn't have a great game on the ground, but he didn't really have a chance to get rolling. It's an absolute disgrace that such a talented player has carried the ball just 13 times the last three weeks, all while Gordon has averaged an atrocious 2.3 yards per attempt.

    Gary Davenport: F

    There are many things going wrong for the Chargers right now, but riding Gordon over the more effective Ekeler is near the top of the list. Maybe Anthony Lynn is trying to get fired. Given the injury luck the Chargers have on an annual basis, I don't know that I'd blame him.