Chatting Up Players of Interest
Just to dive deeper into players of interest, Upon Further Review will look at five players each week with a discussion involving John Tuvey and David Dorey. We’ll keep an eye for the players that interest us the most or that we apparently disagree about. Like to make a suggestion? Go to the Start Bench List for a link. If we get enough requests, we’ll happily include players the most people want examined more.
Josh McCown, QB, Buccaneers
First off, Josh McCown is a 35-year old journeyman quarterback who is clearly not the future for the Buccaneers. But apparently Mike Glennon is not either and the Bucs want to try anything to win games including reverting back to McCown. That seemingly paid off last week when McCown passed for 301 yards and two scores versus the Falcons. It was good enough to get McCown to this week as the starter again but there is no guarantee that he’ll remain so. Facing the Redskins who rank 27th against quarterbacks is a nice situation though it is on the road. McCown has the weapons in Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and all the running backs. But McCown is a risk to rely on. I projected him for 280 yards and two scores this week on the assumption that the Skins would finally be able to get a lead and force McCown to throw. Versus the Skins, he would have some success. If this was in Tampa Bay, the confidence would be higher in him. But McCown’s only started three games and the first two did not reach 200 yards. The young receivers are much better now and that will help. But anytime you use a QB that has only started three games on the year and just one was good, even a great situation is no lock for a great performance.
Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers
Oliver has a good projection for now with 90 yards and a touchdown against the visiting Raiders but that will be changing on Friday afternoon with the update. Ryan Mathews is doing so well now that he’s had a full practice and is expected to start as the #1 back again. Oliver was great fun for his owners while it lasted but his production declined in each of the last four games and he only managed 19 yards on 13 carries in Miami. He could be very good at home against the Raiders who rank 30th against the position. But Oliver is a third down type back and at 5-8/203 is less adept at power running and needs to reach the edge where his speed helps. Mathews will take over the primary role and we already know Donald Brown has been a flop in San Diego. On going, the expectation is that Oliver remains in the rotation but only as a secondary back. Even against a weak defense like the Raiders won’t be enough to consider him more than a very low-end flex play if that.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants
Same situation as Oliver only the other side. Rashad Jennings has been out since week five with an MCL injury but has returned to practice and is expected to play if not start. Andre Williams just has not been effective and even in great matchups failed to do much. He never catches the ball and hasn’t topped 59 yards in any game since Jennings was out. The speculation (given the evasive replies by HC Tom Coughlin) is that Jennings will play and may even get a majority of the carries but will share a bit more with Williams for this first game back. The outlook for Rashad isn’t that great for this week given that the 49ers are a top five team stopping running backs, but he has two tough home games (SF, DAL) and then a nice ending to the season with @JAC, @TEN, WAS and STL through week 16.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Eagles
I find this a very interesting situation because Sanchez was an elite quarterback coming out of USC when he was the 1.05 pick by the Jets. He went through the grinder known as New York for four years and got spit out no differently than what Geno Smith is currently experiencing. Sanchez could be a really nice fit for the Eagles though. He’s with a team that is all about the offense and that has passing weapons well beyond what he ever had in New York. He stepped into the Texans win and threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns. His first start against the visiting Panthers could not have gone better with 332 yards and two scores as the Eagles stomped on Carolina. On going, the outlook for Sanchez is positive. The remaining schedule is @GB, TEN, @DAL, SEA, DAL and @WAS in week 16. The nice part about the Eagles offense is that when the game is going well, they run a ton of plays and use their receivers extensively. When the game is not going well, they run a ton of plays and use their receivers extensively. The Eagles rushing offense is only average so Sanchez has to pass to help win every game. Sanchez could be making himself a lot of money and settling into a great situation if he can help the Eagles offense shine for the final seven weeks.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings
If you can remember all the way back to week three, Kyle Rudolph left with a sports hernia. His start to the season was nothing special but he did score in St. Louis and caught five passes for 53 yards against the Patriots but he never really played with Teddy Bridgewater who would have his first start in week four. Bridgewater has only two distinct trends so far. First, he cannot connect with Cordarrelle Patterson exactly like any other NFL quarterback who has tried. Second, he’s come to like using his tight end recently with second-year tight end Chase Ford catching six passes for 61 yards in Tampa Bay and then five receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown when the Redskins showed up last week. But – now comes Kyle Rudolph back into the offense. He’s been targeting this week and had a full practice just yesterday. Better yet, the Bears are terrible at stopping tight ends and rank dead last in the NFL. Aside from road trips to Detroit and Miami in weeks 14 and 15, the remaining schedule is good for passing to tight ends and Rudolph has a chance to at least end 2014 with several big games.