Drew Brees

Chris Simms’ full 2019 Top 40 NFL quarterback rankings

Leave a comment

NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms released his 2019 quarterback rankings on his podcast ‘Chris Simms Unbuttoned‘ before training camp arrived.

Check out his full rankings here from 1-40:

  1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  5. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
  6. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  11. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
  12. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
  13. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
  14. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions
  15. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
  16. Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars
  17. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
  18. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
  19. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
  20. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
  21. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
  22. Sam Darnold, New York Jets
  23. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
  24. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
  25. Joe Flacco, Denver Broncos
  26. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  27. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  28. Case Keenum, Washington Redskins
  29. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
  30. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
  31. Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts
  32. Josh Rosen, Miami Dolphins
  33. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
  34. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  35. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
  36. Robert Griffin III, Baltimore Ravens
  37. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
  38. Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins
  39. Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins
  40. Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers

How a pump fake helped Saints beat Eagles

Getty
Leave a comment

NEW ORLEANS — Sometimes, in a slog of a game, when your season’s on the line and you’re down two touchdowns and absolutely nothing is coming easy, you’ve got to turn to a little hocus-pocus. You’ve got to call Doobie Pump.

And sometimes, when you’ve caught more passes than anyone in the league, and you’re near the end of a long season, and you are just dying to put your team on your back and prove to America and to your home crowd—which, by the way, lost its collective vocal chords in a high-decibel performance for the ages at the Superdome on Sunday—that there’s no better receiver in the NFL, you have to take one for the team. You have to be a decoy.

“At a crucial point of our season,” Drew Brees told me later, “Michael Thomas was a big piece of cheese.”

Thomas caught a Saints postseason-record 12 balls for 171 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles in the divisional playoffs, but it was a ball he didn’t catch that was his biggest contribution to the game … and a play that was his favorite play of his best postseason day.

Eagles 14, Saints 0, midway through the second quarter, fourth-and-goal at the Eagles’ 2-yard line. All eyes on Thomas, one of three Saints receivers to the left of the formation. The Saints, in a very Doug Pederson call, were going for it, and two Eagle defenders cheated toward Thomas as Brees called the cadence. Thomas came in motion from outside the numbers to the slot.

“Plays like this are the cool plays,” Thomas said in a quiet moment by his locker later, after the media herd thinned out. “It’s the kind of play the real coaches and the real players appreciate.”

Brees took the snap, stared at Thomas and pumped his arm forward. Everyone in the place, and Eagles defensive backs Cre’Von LeBlanc and Josh Hawkins, focused on Thomas.

After the game, Sean Payton stood in his office and drew it up on his whiteboard. Three receivers to the left, and the widest, Thomas, motions inside. “Looks like Mike’s gonna get it,” Payton said, stopping the blue marker behind the left guard, “but all of a sudden, it’s a pump. See, most times this season people would see that motion and we’d stick it in there to Mike, but in this case, Drew pumps. Everything about this play was Mike Thomas, till it wasn’t.”

“So,” Brees picks up the story, “I pump to Mike and they’re reacting to it, and that leaves [rookie receiver Keith] Kirkwood with a step on his guy over the top in the end zone, just the way we hoped, and just what happened in practice.”

The key was getting one of the corners, LeBlanc, who was on Kirkwood, to tend to Thomas in the same neighborhood. He did. And Kirkwood got a step on LeBlanc, and Brees’ throw was true. Easy touchdown to Kirkwood. One of the toughest TD drives of the year, from start to finish, for New Orleans, but also one of the most rewarding.

“I really wanted that play to work,” said Thomas. “It’s strange, but sometimes, when I’m getting all these targets from Drew—I caught the most passes in the league this year and didn’t drop many—people don’t really get to know exactly what kind of player I am. You know, I’m kind of selfish, but selfish in a way that I want to see the other guys I play with succeed too.”

Thomas said these “real plays” are the one receivers would talk about away from the field. “That’s the kind of play that the Larry Fitzgeralds and the Anquan Boldins, the great receivers, the guys who go to the Hall of Fame, they do. I’m happy to build my résumé by putting that one out there for people to see.”

That’s the fun thing about the Saints. They had so many issues  Sunday, with dumb penalties—guard Andrus Peat was flagged four times, twice for holding—but they keep coming at you. Afterward, Brees reflected on his long tenure, and whether he could have envisioned another shot at a Super Bowl after three straight 7-9 seasons in 2014, ’15 and ’16.

“Well, ’14 and ’15 were tough, really tough,” Brees said. “We lost a ton of guys and it was a different locker room, a different vibe. But after the ’16 season, we made an effort to draft the right guys—guys of character, toughness and intelligence. We rebuilt the foundation and the culture of the team that we had for so long here but somehow we lost. We brought in the right guys, and look at the results.”

“What are you going to do Tuesday?” I asked.

“My birthday?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said. “Your 40th.”

“I’m gonna be sitting there grinding on Rams film,” he said. “Like I always do. I’ve got the whole offseason to celebrate. My son [Baylen] turns 10 Tuesday. He was born on my 30th birthday. So it’ll be all about him. I might get a piece of his birthday cake.”

It’s not often a quarterback gets a second life with many of the same important characters, like Payton and GM Mickey Loomis. But as Brees reveled in it Sunday in his locker room, and as Payton and Loomis told stories postgame with visitor and Saints fan Isiah Thomas, this felt like the good old days, the nine-year-old Super Bowl days, in the Big Easy. That’s the last time I heard the crowd like this—in the NFC Championship Game overtime win against the Vikings. The franchise, and the city, will have a lot to live up to Sunday against the Rams.

Read more from Football Morning in America here

NFL Week 13: Cowboys, Seahawks, Falcons seek wins as favorites

Leave a comment

Dak Prescott and the streaking Dallas Cowboys will face a top pass rush against the Minnesota Vikings, who are tough to defeat twice in a row.

The Cowboys are listed as the 3.5-point favorite against the Vikings in the Thursday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cowboys come in red-hot, going 6-0 straight-up and 5-1 against the spread in their last six games as a favorite.

Prescott has proven unflappable and his strong offensive line will have the challenge of nullifying the Vikings defense, which has an impressive 28 sacks. The Vikings are 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 games after losing the previous game in a matchup, but based on what they have shown, it’s doubtful whether QB Sam Bradford and their mediocre offense can keep pace with Dallas.

The Atlanta Falcons are four-point betting favorites against the Kansas City Chiefs. While Chiefs CB Marcus Peters might negate WR Julio Jones, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has many more weapons including WR Taylor Gabriel and RB Devonta Freeman. The Chiefs had a thrilling overtime win last week in Denver, but are 0-7 ATS in their last seven games after an ATS win.

The Arizona Cardinals are 2.5-point favorites against the Washington Redskins. Arizona’s No. 1 defense could cancel out Washington’s No. 2 offense. On the other side of the ball, Washington is susceptible to the run and Cardinals RB David Johnson is capable of taking over a game. The Cardinals, who were blown out by Atlanta in Week 12, are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games after a loss.

The New Orleans Saints are five-point favorites against the Detroit Lions. Chances are, quarterbacks Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford might trade touchdowns all afternoon. New Orleans, which is 2-8 ATS over its last 10 games as a favorite of at least 4.5 points, is giving up more yards per game on defense than Detroit but has faced a higher caliber of opposing offenses.

The Baltimore Ravens are favored by 3.5 points against the Miami Dolphins in a matchup of two teams that have crept into the AFC playoff picture. The Ravens’ No. 2-ranked defense, led by ILB Zachary Orr and SS Eric Weddle, should be able to slow down the Dolphins’ balanced offense that is built around QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Jay Ajayi.

The Indianapolis Colts are the one-point road favorite against the New York Jets in the Monday Night Football matchup. Colts QB Andrew Luck is practicing again, and he tends to make his teammates better while struggling Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick does the opposite. The Colts, who are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 Monday games, will have to keep Jets RB Matt Forte and WR Brandon Marshall from taking over the game.

And the Seattle Seahawks are favored by seven against the Carolina Panthers in the Sunday Night Football matchup. The Seahawks, sitting third on the odds to win Super Bowl 51, are 11-1 SU in their last 12 home games against teams with losing records. The Panthers, though, are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven matchups as underdogs of at least seven points.