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Packers: 3 under-the-radar observations from Week 1 win

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Green Bay Packers, Tyler Ervin (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Three under-the-radar observations from the Packers’ Week 1 win.

The Green Bay Packers kicked off the 2020 NFL season with a resounding victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Though they only won by nine points (43-34), the outcome wasn’t in much doubt in the second half.

The top takeaways have been clear—Aaron Rodgers was as accurate, on time, and in control as he’s been in the past three seasons. Matt LaFleur’s gameplan was masterful. Davante Adams remains elite. The offensive line weathered injuries to log an impressive performance.

The defense didn’t inspire quite as much confidence, but a solid performance overall and a couple of huge plays from Jaire Alexander were enough to notch a comfortable win.

How about some less obvious observations?

1. Tyler Ervin is a weapon

Brian Gutekunst’s relative lack of activity at offensive skill positions this offseason was a major (and warranted) point of concern for Packers fans. It seems that the emergence of Tyler Ervin might help lay some of those worries to rest.

Ervin began getting worked into gameplans more and more as last season wore on. On Sunday, he gave a great preview of the impact he can have on the offense this year.

Ervin played only 12 offensive snaps. But on each of those snaps, he made an impact. He touched the ball on four of those snaps, logging three carries for 38 yards and one reception (on a push pass behind the line of scrimmage) for six yards.

On nearly every snap he played, including each of his touches, Ervin was in motion as the ball was snapped. Though Marquez Valdes-Scantling has comparable speed, no offensive Packers player can match his quickness and change-of-direction ability. That made him dangerous when he got the ball. But even when he didn’t, the Vikings linebackers were forced to pay attention to him in motion, which helped open up holes on rushes to the more traditional running backs.

Look for LaFleur to continue utilizing Ervin this way in future games, and to potentially even involve him more in the passing game.

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Buffalo Bills: Breaking down the snap counts from Week 3

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This is a breakdown and some notes from the snap counts for the Buffalo Bills in Week 3.

The Buffalo Bills once again won, moving to 3-0, after an exciting last-second touchdown by Josh Allen that gave them a 35-32 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. While the result was the same, there were some distinct differences this week, due in part of injuries but also some coaches’ decisions to mix up the starting lineup.

This is a breakdown of the snaps on the offense and defense for the Buffalo Bills in Week 3.

Buffalo Bills offense

The first thing that stands out is that the Bills officially made a switch on the offensive line as Cody Ford moved to left guard while Brian Winters got his first start with the Bills at right guard. Aside from a few special teams snaps, Quinton Spain was regulated to the bench.

Both Winters and Ford played 100% of the snaps, along with Daryl Williams at right tackle and Mitch Morse at center. Dion Dawkins missed eight snaps this week due to a shoulder injury and Ty Nsekhe stepped in.

This was also the highest snap count for running back Devin Singletary at 89%. It certainly wasn’t a surprise considering that Zack Moss was out due to a toe injury. This was also the best game for Singletary this season with over 100 yards from scrimmage.

Another player who saw a career-high was wide receiver, Gabriel Davis. The rookie played 74% of the snaps and finished with four receptions for 81 yards. This increase is likely tied to the absence of John Brown, who suffered a calf injury, but Davis has played very well this season and should see his snaps continue to increase.

At tight end, Tyler Kroft played a season-high 71% with the absence of Dawson Knox due to injury. It is also interesting to see Lee Smith play only one snap all game, which ended up being a touchdown reception for the veteran tight end.

Buffalo Bills Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, A.J. Epenesa continues to see his snaps increase. He was active for the first time last week against the Dolphins and played 17 snaps and on Sunday played 24 snaps (35%) against the Rams. He also registered his first career sack and should continue to be more involved in the coming weeks.

The rotation at defensive tackle is interesting as Quinton Jefferson continues to lead the position in snaps. He played 64% of the defensive snaps, one week after playing 63% of the Buffalo Bills snaps. Ed Oliver has been second both weeks and against the Rams was on the field for 57% of the snaps. Moving forward, Jefferson and Oliver should be considered the starters at the position.

Next: Position grades for the Bills in Week 3

The good news is that Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano were exclusively the Buffalo Bills linebackers against the Los Angeles Rams. Milano played every snap while Edmunds played 68 out of 69 snaps. If there were any lingering effects from their injuries, it didn’t stop them from being on the field.

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Chicago Bears Week 3 coverage report: Jaylon Johnson remains shut down

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The Chicago Bears have to be very enthused with what Jaylon Johnson has brought to the table

Through three weeks, Jaylon  Johnson has been a shutdown cornerback for the Chicago Bears. It started with a strong performance against Marvin Jones and was followed up by better play against Darius Slayton. Johnson was expected to line up against Julio Jones but did not get that early-season test.

Instead, most of his day was spent on Olamide Zaccheaus. Still, no matter the opponent, Johnson needed to show up, and he did. He gave up a few receptions, but overall, shut down one side of the field.

Below is our week 3 cornerback report

Jaylon Johnson

Matt Ryan was 4-6 when targeting Johnson. Still, that only went for 51 yards, and eight after the catch. Zaccheaus was 3-4 for 35 yards lined up on Johnson, per PFF. It was not an elite day, but the Falcons did not test Johnson, and through three weeks, he has not made any major errors.

Kyle Fuller

Fuller spent most of the day on Calvin Ridley. Ridley got loose early in the game, but in a zone, Fuller had the flat, and Eddie Jackson beat deep. With that in mind, Ridley was 3-4 when lined up against Ridley. He was 4-7 when targeted in general, and that was for just 37 yards allowed. It also includes just one first down and zero yards after the catch.

Fuller was excellent in this game and was the Bears best cornerback.

Buster Skrine

Skrine was lined up against Russell Gage until an injury forced him out. Then, he saw Brandon Powell. In total, Ryan was 4-5 when seeking out Skrine, and Skrine allowed 39 yards, 11 coming after the catch.

Notable

As noted, Jackson allowed a 63-yard reception to Calvin Ridley, the biggest play of the game allowed by the defense. That was his only blemish. Roquan Smith was fantastic in this game, allowing 2 receptions on 6 targets for just 22 yards allowed. Even Danny Trevathan was better, albeit targeted just twice.

Joel Iyiegbuniwe also allowed a TD to Hayden Hurst.

Next: Nick Foles ignites Allen Robinson

2020 season:

Kyle Fuller: 10-22 107 yards, 8 YAC, 1 INT, 2 PBU

Jaylon Johnson: 9-18, 130 yards, 17 YAC, 4 PBU

Buster Skrine: 12-17, 117 yards, 47 YAC, 1 PBU

Touchdowns Allowed:

Tashaun Gipson– 1

Joel Iyiegbuniwe- 1

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Chiefs vs. Ravens: What we learned in Week 3

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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 28: L’Jarius Sneed #38 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks back to the locker room after being injured against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 28, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

What we learned about the Chiefs in their dominant win over the Ravens in Week 3.

The Kansas City Chiefs put on a 60-minute masterclass this week, squashing an AFC powerhouse, the Baltimore Ravens. This week, a lot of what we learned is more what we relearned.

After a skittish Week 2, the Chiefs put the kibosh on the touted Ravens, leaving no question as to who runs the AFC. Here are some things we learned from a superb Week 3 victory.

The Chiefs have a legit pass defense

The Chiefs’ secondary, and cornerbacks in particular, have strung together three weeks of stifling defense. This week, a returning Charvarius Ward, rookie L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, and safety Tedric Thompson were especially impressive. The rag-tag collection of corners is playing with exceptional swagger and, more importantly, collective discipline. Shockingly, this secondary had their best performance against reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, holding him to a tepid 97 yards passing.

Beyond that, according to Next Gen Stats, Chiefs cornerbacks, when targeted as the nearest defender, allowed 10 yards passing.  The cornerbacks, even when Bashaud Breeland plays, is considered one of the weaker positional units for K.C. So this lights-out play even in the absence of their top corner has been a surprise, and a best-case situation for the Chiefs.

I was especially impressed with Fenton, whose aggressive coverage stymied any explosive plays from Ravens receivers. Quietly, Thompson was formidable; he delivered a few resounding tackles in bit moments, displaying plenty of awareness and comfort within Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. L’Jarius Sneed continued to wow, and added another excellent game to his superb rookie campaign. Unfortunately, he went down with a collarbone injury late in the game, so Chiefs fans should monitor his status moving forward.

Beyond the cornerbacks, Juan Thornhill had his best performance of this young season. He kept pace with Lamar Jackson on a few key plays, shadowing him and making Jackson uncomfortable on some scrambles. That’s really all you can ask when it comes to defending Jackson in the open field. Thornhill did a great job of covering running angles, an extremely encouraging sign given that Thornhill is coming off an ACL surgery. So far, his mobility and speed looks as good as ever.

The takeaway? The pass defense is gelling. There’s clear chemistry across the secondary. This “no-name” unit is proving to be anything but. They present a collective discipline and fierceness, a balance that is hard to achieve. So far, so good for Spagnuolo’s group.

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