The Weakest Link on Each NFL Team's Roster

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2021

The Weakest Link on Each NFL Team's Roster

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    Heading into Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season, teams should be able to pinpoint weak spots across their rosters. Some coaching staffs have already made changes to starting lineups and rotations. 

    Some clubs should cut back on an underperforming player's snap count to try to get the best out of him. In other situations, ineffective starters belong on the bench, giving way to an upstart talent or a backup who's played well in a limited role. A starting quarterback who's struggling must find a way to snap out of a funk. 

    As we look across all 32 rosters, we'll identify every team's weakest link and that player's deficiencies, some of which relate to his club's overall issues on either side of the ball.

    Every player listed below has started in half the games (three starts) or played at least 40 percent of the snaps on offense or defense, so the focus extends beyond primary starters in a league with so much emphasis on weekly matchups.

Arizona Cardinals: NT Rashard Lawrence

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    With a 6-0 record, the Arizona Cardinals have few roster holes. However, the coaching staff should address a glaring weakness on the defensive side of the ball.

    Arizona is giving up 5.2 yards per carry, which is the second-highest average across the league. In four of the last five weeks, the Cardinals' opponents have accumulated at least 121 yards on the ground.

    Nose tackle Rashard Lawrence has started in five out of six contests, although he left Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns with a calf injury. The second-year pro hasn't made much of an impact, logging only four tackles on the season.

    To consistently match up against physical teams with strong ground attacks, the Cardinals must beef up their defensive front. At 6'2" and 308 pounds, Lawrence hasn't done enough to stuff the run.

    Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph should give Corey Peters (6'3", 335 lbs) more snaps once he returns from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Atlanta Falcons: CB Fabian Moreau

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    The Atlanta Falcons have allowed a ton of yards and several touchdowns in their three losses. In those games, quarterbacks Jalen Hurts, Tom Brady and Taylor Heinicke threw for a combined 830 yards and 11 touchdowns without an interception.

    While cornerback Fabian Moreau isn't the only one to blame for the Falcons' defensive issues, opposing quarterbacks have clearly targeted him as the weak link in the secondary. He's allowed four touchdowns, a 71.4 percent completion rate and a 133.8 passer rating in coverage.

    Coming out of a Week 6 bye, the Falcons should consider a new starter on the boundary in place of Moreau, who's played 91 percent of their defensive snaps.

    The Falcons signed Moreau to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, so they shouldn't feel beholden to him as a lead cornerback. Perhaps he's better suited as a reserve for the slot and boundary spots, similar to his role with the Washington Football Team between 2017 and 2020.

Baltimore Ravens: LB Malik Harrison

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    The Baltimore Ravens defense hasn't performed at a level comparable to years past. While the absence of cornerback Marcus Peters has been a big blow to the secondary, the inside linebackers have struggled on all three downs.

    Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison have looked a step slow against the run, and they've become targets in passing situations. The latter's coverage numbers are slightly more disappointing than the former.

    Harrison has allowed two touchdowns, 10.1 yards per completion and a 133.6 passer rating in coverage. Compared to his 2020 rookie season, he's shown no improvement as a pass defender.

    Harrison played at least 50 percent of the Ravens' defensive snaps in three of the first four weeks of the season. However, he's played fewer than 27 percent of the snaps in each of the past two weeks, which indicates he doesn't have a secure role at his position.

Buffalo Bills: DE Mario Addison

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    The Buffalo Bills have a deep rotation at defensive end with the addition of rookies Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham. Second-year pro A.J. Epenesa has taken on a bigger role on the edge, playing 33 percent of the defensive snaps compared to 27 percent last year.

    While younger defenders have bolstered the Bills' pass rush, Mario Addison continues to show decline in his age-34 campaign. He's logged only five tackles and one sack while playing 42 percent of the defensive snaps.

    At this point in his career, Addison isn't an every-down defender, and his sack numbers have dipped since the 2019 season.

    With budding talent at defensive end, Addison will likely see his role shrink in the second half of the season. Meanwhile, Basham and Epenesa could see a bump in their workloads.

Carolina Panthers: OG John Miller

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    Though quarterback Sam Darnold has made strides in his first season with the Carolina Panthers, he's felt constant pocket pressure from the interior on his right side.

    In September, the Panthers placed right guard John Miller on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He had a bout with the illness and dealt with symptoms for a few days. Perhaps the lingering effects have adversely impacted his performances on the field. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Miller has committed three penalties and allowed three sacks, which is an alarming rate for a guard. He also hasn't made a significant impact on running plays.

    The Panthers are averaging only 3.9 yards per carry, which ranks 23rd leaguewide. Running backs Christian McCaffrey and rookie fourth-rounder Chuba Hubbard are averaging fewer than four yards per carry.

    The Panthers need help at guard to boost a ground game that ranks 17th leaguewide.

Chicago Bears: TE Cole Kmet

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    Cole Kmet has surpassed Jimmy Graham as the Chicago Bears' lead tight end. He showed flashes as a rookie last year with solid blocking and decent hands (28 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns), which underscored his potential to become a balanced player at his position. 

    However, Kmet has yet to make notable strides as a receiver this season.

    The second-year tight end has played with two quarterbacks in Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields, which requires an adjustment. However, he has already finished three games with only one catch.

    Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times praised Kmet's blocking but acknowledged his shortcomings as a pass-catcher.

    "Kmet's development as a blocking tight end can't be ignored—it's expected to be a big part of his game," Potash wrote. "But after the Adam Shaheen experience, the focus on Kmet's blocking four games into Year 2 already is looking more like a red flag than part of the process of Kmet becoming a dual-threat tight end." 

    Fields could make a leap in his development with a reliable big-bodied target. Kmet, who's 6'6" and 260 pounds, should be able to fill that role.

Cincinnati Bengals: NT Josh Tupou

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    Josh Tupou has started in four out of six games for the Cincinnati Bengals. He's played 37 percent of the team's defensive snaps, logging only six tackles (two solo). 

    As a rotational interior defensive lineman, Tupou isn't a difference-maker. The Bengals should pair D.J. Reader with B.J. Hill on the inside rather than use two 340-plus-pounders together.

    Hill, who's recorded 15 tackles, three for loss and three sacks, can collapse the pocket and stuff the run behind the line of scrimmage.

    As a backup for most of his five-year career, Tupou has a low ceiling. With his modest run-stopping numbers, he's a replaceable cog on the defensive line.

Cleveland Browns: QB Baker Mayfield

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    Through six games, Baker Mayfield has thrown for only six touchdowns and three interceptions. Aside from two outings with 300-plus passing yards, he's served as a game manager while running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt led the way for the league's top ground attack.

    In fairness to Mayfield, he's playing with a torn left labrum. He also fell on that shoulder during the Browns' Week 6 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. 

    Mayfield intends to play through the injury, but he could face a ton of pressure behind an offensive line without its starting tackles. Meanwhile, Chubb and Hunt have both been ruled out of Thursday's game against the Denver Broncos because of calf injuries.

    Mayfield will try to tough it out, but he doesn't have the athleticism to escape constant pressure. On top of that, he's still struggling to build chemistry with wideout Odell Beckham Jr. while Jarvis Landry recovers from a sprained MCL.

    With a battered quarterback, the Browns' 26th-ranked passing attack won't kick into high gear anytime soon. While we can commend Mayfield for his toughness, quarterback Case Keenum may be the better starting option right now.

Dallas Cowboys: DE Tarell Basham

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    The Dallas Cowboys defense has shown improvement under coordinator Dan Quinn, but they need a solid temporary replacement for defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who's missed the last five games with a broken foot.

    In an effort to fill a void on the edge, Tarell Basham has started in the last three games. He's played 58 percent of the defensive snaps on the season but has recorded only 13 tackles, one for loss, one sack and two quarterback hits.

    Fortunately, the Cowboys haven't relied solely on Basham to bolster their pass rush in Lawrence's absence. Linebacker Micah Parsons has jumped out as the front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year with 30 tackles, three for loss, 10 quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks. 

    If the Cowboys need a spark in the pass rush, Parsons is more equipped to drop down to the defensive line and rush the quarterback than Basham.

Denver Broncos: OT Garett Bolles

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    Denver Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles had his best season in 2020, earning a spot among second-team All-Pros. After being flagged for at least 10 penalties in each of his first three campaigns, the Utah product only drew four last year. 

    Through the first six games of this season, Bolles looks more like the player who struggled between 2017 and 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, he's been flagged for three penalties and allowed four sacks.

    Bolles took the blame for the Broncos' Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

    "I think (the loss) just came down to the little things," Bolles told reporters. "Particularly me. I didn’t play too well. I feel like that loss is on me, being the leader of the offensive line. I wasn’t doing my job 100 percent like I needed to (in order) to make Teddy (Bridgewater) feel comfortable.”

    The Broncos should feel a bit uneasy about Bolles' performances after signing him to a four-year, $68 million extension last November.

Detroit Lions: OT Penei Sewell

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    The Detroit Lions selected Penei Sewell with the seventh pick in the 2021 draft, making him the first offensive lineman to come off the board. However, he hasn't played up to those lofty expectations yet.  

    Sewell played left tackle at Oregon, but he went through a rough stretch in an offseason transition to the right end while Taylor Decker manned Lions quarterback Jared Goff's blind side.

    Decker suffered a finger injury prior to the start of the season, which sidelined him for the first six weeks. Sewell slid over to left tackle in his absence, but he has performed at a below-average level for a starter.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Sewell has committed five penalties and allowed four sacks.

    While the massive rookie tackle has the size (6'5", 331 pounds) to create running lanes for D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, he must improve his blocking in passing situations. Goff is currently on pace to take 42 sacks this season.

Green Bay Packers: OG Royce Newman

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    The Green Bay Packers offensive line may welcome back a few starters in the coming weeks, which will allow them to shuffle their personnel and move Royce Newman to the bench. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Newman has allowed four sacks. He's a clear liability in pass protection, so he'll likely lose his starting spot once the Packers field an offensive line at full strength.

    Two-time All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari, who started the campaign on the physically unable to perform list, will practice this week, so he could make his season debut soon. Meanwhile, head coach Matt LaFleur thinks rookie center Josh Myers will probably miss "a couple games" because of a knee injury. 

    Whenever Myers reclaims his spot at center, his fill-in, Lucas Patrick, can shift to right guard, where he logged most of his snaps during the 2020 campaign. The Packers also have flexibility with Elgton Jenkins, who can play all five positions across the offensive line.

    Regardless of the starting five-man combination, the coaching staff must replace Newman at right guard to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers from interior pressure.

Houston Texans: TE Pharaoh Brown

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    Aside from wide receiver Brandin Cooks, the Houston Texans don't have any other consistent offensive playmakers. The tight end group hasn't provided substantial contributions in the passing game.

    Pharaoh Brown leads all Texans tight ends in snaps (239), and he's started in five of six games. Despite a sizable role, the fifth-year veteran has caught only nine passes for 103 yards with a 60 percent catch rate.

    Though rookie quarterback Davis Mills has to work through his inconsistencies in place of Tyrod Taylor, he's shown some flashes, including when he threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns against the New England Patriots in Week 5. In that game, Brown had a quiet performance, hauling in only two out four targets for 22 yards.

    The Texans could help out their first-year quarterback with a reliable big-bodied target at tight end. Right now, they don't have that type of lead player at the position.

Indianapolis Colts: OT Eric Fisher

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    Coming off a torn Achilles, Eric Fisher isn't close to his 2020 Pro Bowl form.

    In the Indianapolis Colts' season opener, Julie'n Davenport started at left tackle and then moved to the right side to make room for Fisher, who's started on Carson Wentz's blind side for the last five games.

    Fisher has been called for six penalties and surrendered four sacks so far this season, per Pro Football Focus.

    After a subpar Week 3 performance against the Tennessee Titans, Fisher admitted that he's still on the road to a full recovery, per Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star

    "The one thing that I was told, going into surgery, post-surgery, throughout rehab, is the last thing to come is that quick-twitch explosiveness," Fisher said. "Whether I came back Week 2 or Week 6, whatever it was, there was going to be an adjustment in quick-twitch training experience." 

    Fisher may not be able to mirror agile pass-rushers for another few weeks, which leaves Wentz susceptible to pressure from aggressive defensive fronts with athletic defenders.

Jacksonville Jaguars: S Andrew Wingard

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    Safety Andrew Wingard has played 90 percent of the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive snaps, and his numbers look decent. Thus far, he's recorded 40 tackles, two for loss, a sack, a pass breakup and an interception.

    However, Wingard whiffs on too many tackles, which is a major concern even though he lines up eight to 10 yards downfield. Because of his poor tackling, receivers can rack up yards after the catch. As the last line of defense, he's a vulnerable target.

    On one hand, Wingard ranks second on the team in tackles. However, he's missed on 16.7 percent of his tackling attempts. With a prominent role in the secondary, the third-year veteran must make some technical adjustments.

    If Wingard doesn't improve in the coming weeks, rookie third-rounder Andre Cisco could eventually take over at free safety.

Kansas City Chiefs: LB Anthony Hitchens

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    In Week 6, the Kansas City Chiefs benched a weak link in safety Daniel Sorensen for Juan Thornhill. They should continue to elevate their youth to bolster their weak defense.

    Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can make another tweak to tighten up the Chiefs' 25th-ranked pass defense. He should bench Anthony Hitchens, who exited the previous game with a hyperextended elbow.

    Hitchens has allowed 15 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown on 19 targets while giving up a 120.6 passer rating in coverage.

    The Chiefs have two young athletic linebackers to develop in rookie second-rounder Nick Bolton and second-year pro Willie Gay, who returned from a toe injury in Week 5.

    With a pair of early-round picks from the last two drafts at linebacker, the Chiefs should steadily dial back on Hitchens' snaps. 

Las Vegas Raiders: RG Alex Leatherwood

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    The Las Vegas Raiders have already moved rookie first-rounder Alex Leatherwood from tackle to guard on the right side, which is indicative of his rough start to the season.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Leatherwood has allowed five sacks and committed nine penalties.

    In Week 5, Leatherwood shifted inside as the Raiders tried to bolster their pass protection. In his second start at guard, he had a bright moment while blocking for running back Kenyan Drake on an 18-yard touchdown run, but he also drew a flag on 3rd-and-1 later in the game.

    When a rookie changes positions early in his first season, it typically means the coaching staff has admitted to a mistake in its initial evaluation, which falls on the team and not the player. However, Leatherwood's infractions raise some concerns regardless of his role on the offensive line. 

    As a guard, Leatherwood could bolster the Raiders' 30th-ranked ground attack, but he must cut down on his false starts (five) and improve his pass-blocking technique to match up against penetrating defensive tackles.

Los Angeles Chargers: NT Linval Joseph

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    The Los Angeles Chargers have to address their defensive line to fill holes on run downs. They're giving up the most rushing yards per game (162.5) and the most yards per carry (5.4) leaguewide.

    Before the Chargers' Week 6 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, head coach Brandon Staley summed up the issues in run defense.

    "What we need to do at the first level of our defense is play more fundamentally sound," Staley told reporters. "That's what happened [Sunday] on the first level. We weren’t fundamentally sound at the point of attack."

    Without mentioning any names, Staley put the spotlight on the interior defensive linemen.

    Both Linval Joseph and Christian Covington have played more than 62 percent of the Chargers' defensive snaps. Neither has done a particularly good job at shedding blocks to take down ball-carriers, but Joseph is in his age-33 season and may be more effective with fewer snaps.

    In his prime, Joseph stuffed the run and provided interior pocket pressure. He's still capable of the latter, but he offers too little of the former. He has more assisted tackles (14) than solo tackles (12).

    The 12th-year veteran is no longer equipped to make a consistent push up front while battling double-teams on early downs.

Los Angeles Rams: CB David Long Jr.

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    The Los Angeles Rams have already shown they aren't quite satisfied with David Long Jr. 

    In Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams benched Long for rookie fourth-rounder Robert Rochell. Cornerback Darious Williams suffered an ankle injury toward the end of that contest, and the team later placed him on injured reserve.

    Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris told reporters that he would use a committee to fill in for Williams. However, Long fell behind Rochell, Terrell Burgess and Dont'e Deayon in the pecking order, playing only 20 defensive snaps in Week 6 against the New York Giants.

    While the third-year pro may still have to chance to crack the rotation in a bigger role within the committee, he has to earn the coaching staff's trust.

    Even though Long has three pass breakups and an interception, he's allowed too many chunk plays, giving up 13.2 yards per completion and a touchdown. Barring a string of solid performances, the 2019 third-rounder will likely fall further down the depth chart once Williams returns to action.

Miami Dolphins: LT Liam Eichenberg

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    The Miami Dolphins have shuffled their offensive line, starting rookie tackle Liam Eichenberg on the left and right side.

    Eichenberg opened the season on the left, flipped over to the right for three weeks, and then went back to his original spot for the past two games. However, he's allowed constant pocket pressure regardless of which side he plays on.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Eichenberg has surrendered four sacks and committed four penalties. He isn't the only offensive lineman with technical and pass-protection flaws in Miami, but his miscues have resulted in the most sacks among the Dolphins' starting five-man unit. 

    Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has a history of injuries and just missed three games because of fractured ribs. If Eichenberg cannot hold his own on the edge, he puts Tagovailoa at great risk.   

Minnesota Vikings: DE D.J. Wonnum

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    At times, a team's game script can dictate a player's snap count. In other cases, the coaching staff will dial back on a starter's workload in favor of a more productive backup.

    That's likely the case with Minnesota Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum.

    Wonnum started in each of the Vikings' first four games this season. Since then, he's transitioned to a reserve role behind Everson Griffen, and his snap count dropped in consecutive outings.

    The Vikings have familiarity with Griffen, who played 10 seasons with them (2010-19) before his brief tenure with the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, but he's 33 years old. The 23-year-old Wonnum still has time to develop into an every-down defender, but the Vikings don't seem to think he's ready to make that jump yet.

    In 261 defensive snaps, Wonnum has 12 tackles, one for loss and one sack. For comparison, Griffen has 11 tackles, three for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble in 217 snaps.

New England Patriots: WR Nelson Agholor

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    Nelson Agholor revived his career with the Las Vegas Raiders last year, catching 48 passes for a career-high 896 yards and eight touchdowns. He parlayed that breakout season into a two-year, $22 million contract with the New England Patriots in free agency this past offseason.

    However, through six games, Agholor has only 17 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown. He's playing with a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones, but so is wideout Jakobi Meyers, who's hauled in 36 passes for 346 yards. 

    Agholor plays far more snaps (76 percent) than Kendrick Bourne (56 percent), but the latter has been slightly more productive, logging 18 receptions for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

    Even though Jones needs time to develop a rapport with his pass-catching group, Agholor hasn't made enough plays during his time on the field. He's fourth on the team in both receptions and yards. 

    With the Raiders, Nelson played like a No. 1 wide receiver who can elevate a quarterback. However, he's been an afterthought in the Patriots' aerial attack.

New Orleans Saints: TE Adam Trautman

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    In his second NFL season, Adam Trautman has a strong grip on the New Orleans Saints' lead tight end role. He's played 73 percent of the offensive snaps, while Juwan Johnson has been on the field for only 20 percent of the snaps.

    Because of their shortcomings in the passing attack, the Saints should close the gap in snap count between Trautman and Johnson.

    Trautman has helped the Saints' ninth-ranked rushing attack with solid run blocking on the perimeter, but he doesn't provide much as a receiver, having logged only six catches for 64 yards through five games. Johnson has also caught six passes for 64 yards, but he has three touchdown receptions. 

    Until star wideout Michael Thomas makes his return from offseason ankle surgery, the Saints should give more snaps to their better pass-catching tight end. Trautman's run-blocking ability has value, but he isn't a threat on passing downs for a team that's accumulated the second-fewest yards through the air.

New York Giants: LB Tae Crowder

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    The New York Giants have a significant issue with short-to-intermediate pass coverage. Reggie Ragland and Tae Crowder don't have the speed to match up against running backs and tight ends in the flat or in the seam areas. 

    Opposing quarterbacks have logged a 140.1 passer rating when targeting Crowder. He has surrendered 16 completions for 176 yards and four touchdowns on 21 targets.

    Crowder took on an expanded role after Blake Martinez went down with a torn ACL in Week 3. Though the latter had issues in pass coverage, he recorded 144-plus tackles in each of the last four seasons as a high-quality run defender. His replacement hasn't filled that void. 

    Crowder has recorded 45 tackles, but only one has resulted in a loss of yardage. He needs to make more impact plays behind the line of scrimmage. Big Blue's run defense ranks 29th in yards allowed while giving up 4.5 yards per carry (25th).

    The Giants signed Benardrick McKinney to their practice squad Monday, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Once he's up to speed, they can shake up their rotation at inside linebacker.

New York Jets: OG Greg Van Roten

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    New York Jets guard Greg Van Roten criticized rookie quarterback Zach Wilson for his tendency to hold onto the ball for too long, but the veteran also has to clean up his pass-blocking technique.

    Van Roten has already allowed three sacks this season, per Pro Football Focus. On one particular play (h/t Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor), he couldn't handle New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche, which may have cost the New York Jets a touchdown. 

    If Van Roten makes a stronger push at the line of scrimmage, the Jets may be able to establish the run with their backfield committee. Gang Green has accumulated the second-fewest yards on the ground through six weeks and are averaging only 3.6 yards per carry.

    As a veteran guard who's been in the league since 2012, Van Roten has to help out his rookie quarterback and lead the charge on run downs.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jalen Reagor

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    While Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jalen Reagor has shown flashes here and there, he has yet to emerge as a consistent playmaker.

    In the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, Reagor hauled all six of his targets for 49 yards and a touchdown. Since then, he's eclipsed 24 receiving yards only once through five scoreless outings.

    Last week, the TCU product saw three targets but finished without a catch. He did draw two long pass interference calls, though.

    Mostly ineffective while on the field for 75 percent of the Eagles' offensive snaps this season, Reagor has watched Quez Watkins blossom into a big-play receiver and complement to No. 1 wideout DeVonta Smith.

    The 2020 first-rounder still possesses a lot of upside, but he needs to start translating his potential into production. Otherwise, he'll fall behind among the Eagles' pass-catching group, which includes Smith, Watkins and tight end Dallas Goedert. 

    Heading into Week 7, Reagor ranks fourth on the team in receptions (17) and fifth in receiving yards (140). He may see a slight increase in target volume after the Eagles traded tight end Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals last Friday.

Pittsburgh Steelers: RT Chukwuma Okorafor

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers restructured their offensive line this past offseason. Right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor is the only primary starter who returned from last year's group. 

    Ironically, Okorafor may not be the Steelers' best option at right tackle.

    Though he has yet to allow a sack, the fourth-year veteran has drawn five penalties, per Pro Football Focus. Last year, Okorafor committed five penalties through 16 games (15 starts).

    Okorafor had a solid outing against Denver Broncos edge-rusher Von Miller in Week 5, but he's still far too inconsistent on the right side. Pittsburgh should consider a change at the position during its Week 7 bye.

    In late September, the Steelers designated right tackle Zach Banner (knee) for return from injured reserve. If he starts, Okorafor could shift to the left side in place of Dan Moore Jr., who suffered a hip injury in Week 6.

    Sixth-year veteran Joe Haeg has starting experience (39 starts) and played well at right tackle in short stretches this season as well.

    Though Moore has gone through his rookie struggles, Okorafor is still shaky with his technique and pass protection. That's why the fourth-year veteran is Pittsburgh's weakest link.

San Francisco 49ers: WR Brandon Aiyuk

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    Heading into the season San Francisco 49ers wideout Brandon Aiyuk slipped on the depth chart because of lackluster performances and a hamstring injury.

    In Week 1, Aiyuk played only 47 percent of the Niners' offensive snaps and didn't see a single target. He has since reclaimed a starting role, but he remains mostly ineffective in the passing game, logging fewer than 38 receiving yards in each contest and one touchdown for the season.

    Without star tight end George Kittle on the field in Week 5, Aiyuk saw only four targets from rookie quarterback Trey Lance, who dropped back to pass 29 times. 

    Aiyuk's efficiency has dipped as well. He has a 53.3 percent catch rate with a pair of drops compared to last year's 62.5 percent rate and five drops through 12 games. 

    Lance has started in only one game for Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered a calf contusion in Week 4, so Aiyuk's struggles are not due to constant changes at quarterback. Coming off a rocky offseason, he's still trying to find his way.

Seattle Seahawks: DE Carlos Dunlap

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    Last year, the Seattle Seahawks acquired Carlos Dunlap from the Cincinnati Bengals before the trade deadline. He provided a significant boost to their pass rush, logging five sacks in eight outings with the club. 

    Dunlap opened this season as a starter, but he has since faded into a reserve role. Still, he's played more than 50 percent of defensive snaps in four out of six games. 

    Dunlap hasn't done much in those snaps, though. He's finished without a tackle in four games, and he's logged only six tackles, two quarterback hits and two pass breakups on the season.

    Without a consistent presence near the pocket or in the opponent's backfield, Dunlap may see his fluctuating snap count drop in the second half of the season. The Seahawks have depth on the edges with Rasheem Green, Alton Robinson, Benson Mayowa and Darrell Taylor, who rejoined the team after he had been carted off the field Sunday night.

    The Seahawks should look to develop Robinson while feeding Green and Taylor most of the snaps.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE Cameron Brate

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    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has a plethora of pass-catching options, so his wideouts and tight ends may contribute sporadically for extended periods. However, Rob Gronkowski's rib and lung injuries created opportunities for backups to take on bigger roles.

    Gronkowski caught 16 passes for 184 yards and four touchdowns over the first three weeks, but he hasn't played since Week 3. Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard have had a chance to fill a void at the position over the past three games.

    While Brate has played more snaps than Howard for the season (194-175), the latter has been on the field more than the former in the last three outings. Howard also gained some momentum with six receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

    Since Week 4, Brate has only six catches for 67 yards and zero touchdowns. He could fade into an inline blocking role while Howard sees more targets in Gronkowski's absence. 

Tennessee Titans: OG Nate Davis

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    The Tennessee Titans offensive line has crumbled in pass protection on various occasions, which factors into quarterback Ryan Tannehill's regression this season. He's taken a league-high 20 sacks. 

    Tackles Taylor Lewan and David Quessenberry had rough outings as pass-blockers in Weeks 1 and 4, respectively, but they've put together solid stretches as well. Meanwhile, Nate Davis has struggled to minimize pressure in just about every game this season. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Davis has allowed four sacks and committed two penalties. While he's been a solid run-blocker, the third-year veteran had a problem sealing a lane for running back Derrick Henry early in the Titans' Week 6 upset victory over the Buffalo Bills.

    The Titans' offense runs through Henry, who's eclipsed 113 rushing yards in five consecutive games. Nonetheless, Tannehill will have trouble moving the ball downfield if he continues to face pressure up the middle.

Washington Football Team: S Landon Collins

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team's defense has regressed. After allowing the fourth-fewest points per game last season, they're giving up a league-high 31.0 this season. 

    Washington has a leaky pass defense that's susceptible to big plays over the top. In the secondary, Landon Collins looks out of his element when he's the deep safety. 

    Collins has allowed five touchdowns, 17.7 yards per completion and a 139.1 passer rating. He has yet to record an interception or a pass breakup.

    Though Collins is better suited to play in the box closer to the line of scrimmage, the seventh-year veteran has missed on 15.6 percent of his tackles. He isn't equipped to play center field and has some issues with his tackling in space.


    Player snap counts via Pro Football Reference.

    Player contracts via Over the Cap.


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