Monday Night Observations

It seemed like there were more reveals in the Monday night games than most of Sunday. We know who the Jets No. 1 target likely is, that the Lions still can’t run the ball or play defense, that Kenny Golladay is ready to break out, that Brandin Cooks should have a much bigger role than Sammy Watkins did last year, that Isaiah Crowell is a good fit for the Jets and that Jared Cook is going to be a featured weapon in the Raiders passing game, among other things.

There were also a few surprises like Matthew Stafford’s awful play at home against the Jets, Amari Cooper’s no-show, albeit against a strong defensive team, and Robby Anderson’s potentially smaller role, though it was only one game, he caught a long TD and the Jets were playing with a lead the entire time.

• How very Jets it was for Sam Darnold to throw a pick six on his first NFL pass. But how very Lions it was to get outscored 48-10 from that point on. Darnold looked a bit herky-jerky to me, but that’s to be expected in his first-ever pro game. He moved well, and his arm looked strong. I’d bet against him being anything special, but that’s always the safe bet with young QBs, irrespective of pedigree.

• Quincy Enunwa looks like the team’s top target with a 10-6-63-1 line. It was all short stuff, but Enunwa is 6-2, 225 and runs a 4.45, so he’s capable of big plays. Anderson caught his only target, a 41-yard TD, and he’ll be integrated further when the game-flow warrants. Terrelle Pryor caught all three of his targets for 49 yards too.

• Bilal Powell actually saw more carries than Crowell, 12 to 10 and ran well (60 yards), but Crowell got 102 and scored twice. This looks like a 50/50 time share, and Powell could get more catches when game flow warrants.

• Matthew Stafford had one of his worst games as a pro – four picks, including one returned for a TD, 6.2 YPA in a home game against the Jets. The lone bright spot was Golladay – 12-7-114. He looks like a star in the making and even chipped in with a tackle and forced fumble after a Stafford pick.

• Golden Tate went 15-7-79-1 and given the state of the running game and defense is a lock to get his 90-ish catches should he stay healthy all year. Marvin Jones had a few near-misses on big plays, finishing at 8-4-54. With no TE of which to speak, all three should be playable most weeks.

Theo Riddick went 7-5-15 through the air and led the team with 20 yards rushing, but it was ugly on the ground. Kerryon Johnson looked quick, but had nowhere to go, and LeGarrette Blount was stuffed whenever he touched the ball.

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• People were mocking Jon Gruden on Twitter, but I thought his game plan was fine. He just got poor QB play from Derek Carr and was outgunned everywhere else. With Amari Cooper (3-1-9)  locked down by the Rams secondary, the Raiders don’t have anyone else who can make a big play.

• Except apparently TE Jared Cook who went 12-9-180, tying him for the fourth most receiving yards for a TE in a single game in NFL history. Interestingly he also has the ninth most, making him the only TE to have two games in the top 10 (though Rob Gronkowski has three in the top-16.) Needless to say, Cook warrants a pick-up, despite his history of sporadic big games and long-term disappearances.

• Carr threw for 303 yards, but was otherwise awful with egregious picks that gave away the game.

• Marshawn Lynch looked strong, bulldozing (with help) for a TD, but game-flow won’t be his friend this year. He caught two passes, but Jalen Richard – 11-9-55 – was the prime back in garbage time.

• Jordy Nelson’s 4-3-23 is more or less what I expected of him. I still like Cooper a little, but he struggles against top corners and has a tough CB schedule.

• Jared Goff wasn’t great, but I like that he took plenty of shots downfield, and the stats don’t show the two big PI penalties on Brandin Cooks. You have to love the cheap forward-hand-off passing TD he got to Todd Gurley too. Goff will have a big year, and Sean McVay was still running play-action passes late rather than predictably handing it to Gurley to chew clock.

• Cooks went 8-5-87 plus two massive PI penalties. The Rams traded a first-rounder for him, then paid him, and it looks like they intend to use him plenty.

• Cooper Kupp and Robert Wood each saw nine targets, with Kupp getting the TD. All three wideouts will be involved, but Cooks, the field stretcher, is an easy bet to lead them in yardage should he stay healthy.

• Todd Gurley had a ho-hum 20-100 and 3-39-1 day, just business as usual.

• Greg Zuerlein missed one kick from the infield dirt, but drilled four others including a 55-yarder than might have been good from 70. He looks like he should have another monster season.