Image Credit: Royal Rundown
Hey, all. The last time we got together, we chopped it up about amazing Week 1 performances from Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray’s debut and some stock reports for other teams. The 2019 NFL season is now in full swing, and plenty of early-campaign storylines are developing. In addition to our normally-scheduled NFL talk, I think Whit Merrifield deserves a section all to himself. Without further ado, let’s jump in.
Brees, Roethlisberger set to miss extended time
Early in the New Orleans Saints’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees went down with a thumb injury. It has since been revealed that he has torn a ligament in that right thumb and will likely miss six weeks after surgery. Luckily for the Saints, they paid former Minnesota Viking Teddy Bridgewater more than any other backup quarterback in the NFL to study under Brees. The team will be getting its money’s worth, for sure.
The Saints’ next six opponents are the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals. Seattle and Dallas both figure to be difficult matchups, with Chicago serving as a wildcard in that scenario. The Bucs, Jags and Cards are all inferior opponents to New Orleans. At 1-1, it would be viewed as a success if Bridgewater can lead the Saints to a 3-3 record over those six games and allow Brees to return to a 4-4 squad with half of a season left to play. All hope certainly isn’t lost in the Big Easy.
On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season appears to be over. Starting the year with an 0-2 record put them behind the eight ball but to make matters worse, Ben Roethlisberger’s 2019 is finished. Injuring his throwing elbow and requiring surgery, the 37-year-old will run it back in 2020 with two years left on his current contract. Without their leader and likely their best player, the Steelers’ outlook moving forward is a grim one. The lone bright spot in this situation, though, is that the franchise will get a long and hard look at what it has in last year’s third-round pick, Mason Rudolph.
Chiefs offense without Tyreek Hill… still dominant
For just about every other NFL team, losing your No. 1 receiver would completely change how you operate on offense and would likely lead to a decrease in productivity. When Tyreek Hill went down with a sternoclavicular injury, there wasn’t much panic surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs and their elite unit. Against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the Chiefs scored 28 points in the second quarter. That turned out to be all that they needed for the entire game.
With Kansas City down 10-0 after the first 15 minutes of the ballgame, the commonly-used phrase “trap game” was thrown around quite a bit. Reigning league MVP, Patrick Mahomes, quickly silenced those rumblings with a second quarter for the ages. Throwing for a whopping 278 yards and four touchdowns in the second frame alone, Mahomes was a man possessed. Andy Reid’s offense had woken up from its slumber and what was a 10-point deficit turned into an 18-point lead by halftime.
In addition to the typical suspects doing damage — Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins combined for 13 receptions, 156 yards and a TD — rookie receiver Mecole Hardman caught his first career touchdown. The story of the game on offense for Kansas City was wideout Demarcus Robinson. The fourth-year man out of Florida hauled in six catches on six targets for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns:
LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams combined for 31 rushing yards on 20 carries. That’s good for a yards-per-attempt average of…
1.55. No bueno. Apparently, though, it’s going to take more than absences from Hill, Eric Fisher & the team’s rushing attack to slow down this offense. Reid is a mastermind. Mahomes is a real-life cheat code. Even without Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs have plenty of speed to burn. Good luck stopping them.
Whit Merrifield continues to put up numbers
Whit Merrifield didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 27 years old. To say he’s been making up for lost time would be an understatement.
The former South Carolina Gamecock is a two-time stolen base leader and is likely going to lead the league in hits for the second-straight season. Merrifield’s lifetime slash-line of .297/.346/.448 has been supported by a .306/.353/.473 2019 season thus far. Able to play both second base and right field at a high level, in addition to other positions at a replacement level, every contending club should have a player like Merrifield.
Luckily for the Kansas City Royals, they have the All-Star under club control for the next four seasons. Locked up through his prime, the team has the flexibility to play him at multiple positions and get the most return on its investment. If the club’s timeline for contention doesn’t match up with Merrifield’s best years, Kansas City can trade him while he still has some value.
Merrifield’s name has been thrown in the proverbial hat containing MLB trade rumors for the past couple of seasons. He’s a versatile player who’s good at just about everything and has turned into a leader before everyone’s very eyes. Regardless of whether or not he is traded or finishes his career as a Kansas City Royal, enjoy what Whit Merrifield has brought to the game of baseball. His story has flown under the radar, much like his production. It’s time to recognize and appreciate both.
- Rumor has it All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey is not satisfied with the Jacksonville Jaguars organization. His agent has requested a trade for him. Ramsey is known for being outspoken and this week’s spat with head coach Doug Marrone fits that description. With that said, he’s one of the best pound-for-pound corners in the entire NFL and is under contract through the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. Jacksonville wants at least a first-round pick in return (more on that kind of value in the next paragraph), which is something several teams probably wouldn’t have a problem parting with for two years of Ramsey’s services.
- Speaking of stud cornerbacks and first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins dealt Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first-round selection on Monday night. On the same day the extent of Roethlisberger’s injury was released, the Steelers displayed a huge amount of confidence in Mason Rudolph to potentially save the season. If not, this pick could be in the top half of the first round, giving Miami yet another great slot to work from. Fitzpatrick is a versatile corner under contract for two more seasons after this one. This is clearly a win for the Dolphins, and I’d say the Steelers got a solid deal out of it as well.
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