2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Preseason Wk3 Game Analysis: Browns 19, Falcons 10
We got the Browns 1st-team (mostly) offense, including Baker versus the Falcons 1st-team-ish defense…so that was at least something. However, we got the Falcons backups on offense against a mix of 1st/2nd teamers (early on) for the Browns defense.
In the bubble of this game, the Falcons continue to show me they’re going to not be pushovers in 2021…that they might be a scrappy .500+ team with fringe playoff hopes. The Falcons defense is playing energized and they battled the ‘vaunted’ Browns offense pretty well here. The Browns were acting like this was a casual 7-on-7 practice for them to work on some things while the Falcons defense came to fight a war.
The Browns have more depth of talent, especially at QB, and thus ‘won’…but on the topside, the Falcons defense were ‘fighters’ here. They didn’t back down to the Browns. Watch out for the Falcons.
Before we get into the player notes, may I add: I cannot take one more syllable from Cris Collinsworth on football commentary. This was a Sunday Night game, so it was an NBC affair. I want to claw my ears off when Collinsworth starts talking. I don’t know who he is talking to…but he thinks they’re dumb and thinks he’s so smart to try and explain the obvious.
Collinsworth is a mix of bad jokes/useless observations, kiss-assery/cliches, and then harping on one thing he knows about some lower-level player so he sounds like he’s smart…all while Pro Football Focus gets more free attention all game long.
I shouldn’t make fun… He’s really a genius, I guess. A genius for figuring out how to extract big money for nonsense commentary while getting his nonsense football website over and getting his son hired to do NBC analysis as well.
There go my hopes of working for PFF. It’s not the organization, per se, who I have some friendly contacts within, but Collinsworth himself that drives me nuts.
Dynasty/Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Well, we got the Kyle Pitts (1-27-0/1) debut…and he took the ‘designed dump pass heard ‘round the world’…it must have been because I got a bunch of emails and texts from heavily FF-vested people on how magnanimous it was.
Let’s talk about ‘the play’:
Pitts came across left-to-right after the snap, parallel to (behind) the line of scrimmage and rolled to the right with the QB…and when the D-End went after the QB, Pitts separated away from the DE and mirrored the QB rolling, and the QB just floated the pass over the DE and safely to the sprinting Pitts…who then collected himself, turned up field and started trucking down the sidelines. He caught the pass around the line of scrimmage and 20+ yards later he met opposition. One touch and gone from the game soon after.
It was a nice start, but it didn’t tell us much…we saw no routes or coverage duress, etc. So, I went back over the simple play several times (10+ times to be more exact) to see what else I could see…to report back on. The play: https://youtu.be/oE3XPkZ3nuo
Couple things I noticed…
1) Pitts was lined up at traditional TE on the left (of the QB), and upon the snap he went behind the line of scrimmage and sprinted across to match the QB who was rolling to the right as well.
I don’t recall TEs often coming across the back of the line like that for a purposed passing route. They usually go forward then drag across (hoping congestion conceals them or the linebackers are all chasing other things and nit’s an empty zone for them), or you put the TE lined up on the right to easy slide off the line to match a QB rolling right…because most TEs are too slow to do what Pitts did – he came from all the way left to all the way right to catch up with the QB.
2) When coming across the field to match the QB, I thought he was trying to block the lone D-End going after the QB. No, it was just Pitts was coming across and the DE was in the way…they almost collided, and that’s where Pitts had to quickly cut out of the way…that cut away shows some of the X-factor of Pitts…his feet are amazing for a guy his size. He looked like a nimble running back that juked to create space…not a plodder TE. I think most TEs would have slowed to avoid the contact or not been able to stop and would have run into the person. Just my speculation…noticing how quickly Pitts can change direction for his size.
3) Pitts catches the pass with his momentum heading to the sidelines. By the time he’s able to stop his sprint and catch momentum, he’s almost on the sidelines. He then turns to head up the field. At this point, he has a couple of defenders 4-5 yards away from him but one (Gustin) is at the same spot on the field (just 4 yards sideways away) and another linebacker (Lee) was 4-yards behind him in a chase/sprint after him as Pitts is almost stopped to then relaunch up the field.
A freeze frame look at it as Pitts was about to head up field, you’d wonder if Gustin can keep up with him? Would the in-pursuit Lee catch from behind? If Pitts is a 4.4-4.5 runner, they’d better not.
Gustin had an angle to chase him down, but Pitts pulls away in the chase. Gustin gets fingertips on him but has to dive (to no avail) to try and stop him, but Pitts just keeps flying.
What I missed in the first few watches was…after Pitts got passed Gustin, a DB was flying across the field with an angle. Either Pitts was too fast, or the DB wanted no part in stopping him because the DB got there and tried to grab Pitts but Pitts was too fast and too strong and the DB just tried to catch a moving train with his arms extended. Pitts never acknowledged it and kept going right thru the two-hand touch event.
What about the linebacker (Lee) that was 4-yards in a sprint behind Pitts, when Pitts had almost fully stopped and restarted? Lee went from 4 yards to 7+ yards behind in a hurry. He was not close to catching Pitts when he might ought to have made it close/respectable. Pitts left him in the dust quickly.
4) Pitts finally runs into defenders that are in front of him at the 32-yard line, where they make contact…the two would-be tacklers are kinda standing still waiting as Pitts is trucking. They only slow him, and two other defenders have to join from chasing behind as Pitts earns 5 extra yards from the point of first contact by just barreling through them.
I don’t think any of the six guys who touched Pitts on the play, at various points, were prepared for how big and fast Pitts is…and how scary he is when in a full sprint. They couldn’t keep up with his speed and they had a hard time tackling him. The amount of times Pitts will be in single coverage, catch a pass, and breakaway from a tackler and just launches out for 10-20-50+ more yards is going to be frightening (frighteningly good for FF owners).
I would add – Evan Engram offers some of the same features, but isn’t as tall, isn’t as agile and doesn’t get plays designed for him like Pitts will. And Engram is a so-so pass catcher, while Pitts is a brilliant, powerful catcher of the ball.
It’s all up to Arthur Smith now, but the potential Pitts as that ‘chosen one’ that breaks all the rules (about TEs, and rookie TEs, etc.) – its’ definitely on the table.
…and as this preseason goes along and I watch Smith coaching on the sidelines – I’m becoming very encouraged. I know he has the smarts but wasn’t sure about the personality to lead. He is showing control of the sidelines all preseason. I am getting more excited about Arthur Smith than I was when I first ‘met’ him (in my research). Whereas Urban Meyer has gone the opposite direction for me this preseason…I think Meyer is doomed now. Self-imposed doom.
-- Rookie RB Caleb Huntley (8-16-0, 1-5-0/2) started for Atlanta, and that made me think Qadree Ollison (5-21-0, 1-6-0/2) must not be playing. And then halfway into the 1st-Quarter Ollison came in. And as a curious Ollison speculator, FF-investor – this rattled me.
They may have wanted Huntley to get a bigger look against the better version of defense, as they decide the final 53 players for 8/31. I’m hoping that was it.
a) definitely the better RB between them.
b) definitely showed that slimmed down, more agile self…an encouraging sign.
We’ll see what the final roster and depth chart says this week, but likely Ollison will be the #3 back behind listed co-starters Davis-Patterson, and Huntley might be 50/50 to make the roster…with the hopes they might can cut him and put him onto the practice squad (and then the Ravens might claim him).
-- The Browns have more talented backup RBs than the Falcons ones just mentioned…
D’Ernest Johnson (3-11-0, 5-44-0/6) is Alvin Kamara 2.0 (as I’ve proclaimed for 3 years now) if anyone in the NFL was paying attention. Sean Payton should’ve traded for Johnson by now…but he probably doesn’t even know he exists. Johnson is one of the best-looking #3-4 RBs in the league.
Rookie Demetric Felton (4-15-0) showed me that he’s better than his bad Pro Day measurables. He is much shiftier than advertised. Felton is just a really good/sound football player -- but should be moved to primary/slot/possession WR. He’s going to be a slick RB/WR type weapon along with return man in this league. FF-viability? Not sure he ever gets there, but maybe in 2022-2023.
-- Browns rookie WR Anthony Schwartz (1-6-0/1) isn’t grabbing attention like Felton is. Schwartz is supposedly so fast, but I haven’t really seen it in NFL play yet.
-- Two QB notes…
Baker Mayfield (6-10 for 113 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) looked very comfortable and fine in his mini work. Still, not unleashed…very robotic in the designed passing game. I love gunslinger Baker, but the plan is for him to be robotic. Until the Browns start losing, there’s no need to change from a scripted plan.
This might be blasphemy, but I thought Josh Rosen (9-18 for 118 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) looked good/promising/with some hope for the NFL. I was shocked. It was subtle, but Rosen was showing a pocket awareness and some money throws a lot of backups cannot make. He should be on an NFL roster and being worked on by a QB guru…but he won’t be. Rosen has some scraps of talent, but he’s lost all NFL credibility. Easier for the NFL to just mock him and forget him.
-- Falcons WR Juwan Green (3-58-1/5) is a hopeful, rosterable NFL talent…but he’s so under the radar he’s likely to be cut and revert right to the practice squad. He has a future hope to be an NFL WR, but not yet…not here/now. He’s a better version of rookie Frank Darby (2-13-0/3) but Darby has cred with NFL scouts from the Senior Bowl, so Darby will likely get the roster nod over Green.
-- One last note, an IDPer…
So, on one particular play in this game Qadree Ollison (a big, tough back who always gets +2-3 yards on plays) took a screen pass in red zone (about 15 yards away from paydirt) and it was beautifully set up and he was racing clean to the end zone – and he’s a big, strong, now faster guy going with a head of steam to the finish. Browns safety Jovante Moffatt (4 tackles) broke from the middle of the field to get to Ollison going towards the left sideline. I thought for sure Ollison would walk in for the score or break any tackle with the free sprint he was on, but Moffatt came flying up and in a full speed collision and textbook tackle, Moffatt dropped full speed Ollison in his tracks – the first time I’ve ever seen that on Ollison.
Moffatt was one of my highest rated safeties of the 2020 draft class (as he went undrafted). He might get cut…I wish some team would recognize the potential here…but likely he’ll go unclaimed and go onto the practice squad.
***The 2021 FFM Draft Guide Package is now available – see the FFM homepage for more information, including Combo deals with the In-Season Package and Dynasty Stash reporting.
2021 College Football Metrics subscriptions are still available – all the NFL Draft/rookie prospect scouting reports, Dynasty Rookie Draft (weekly top 350) coverage and analysis PLUS our annual Devy scouting report/rankings summer series begins in July.***
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