Lamar Jackson Hits for the Cycle, Mac Jones Laps the OROY Field
Friend of Walkthrough Michael David Smith reported for Pro Football Talk that Lamar Jackson recorded his 11th career "double-triple" in Sunday night's thrilling victory over the Chiefs: over 100 passing yards, over 100 rushing yards.
Here's the all-time double-triple list for both regular season and postseason games. Jackson is the career leader with 11 double-triples. Michael Vick is second with eight. Colin Kaepernick, Donovan McNabb, and Russell Wilson are tied for third with four. Tim Tebow and Bobby Douglass each only had one double-triple, which is surprising. Vinny Testaverde had one, which is terrifying.
Teams are 38-20-1 historically when their quarterbacks record a double-triple: very good but not spectacular. (Cam Newton pitched a 37-37 tie with the Bengals in 2014). You probably spotted the problem with the double-triple the moment you saw it: 100 passing yards is not a benchmark of excellence by any means, especially not in the modern era. The double-triple list is essentially a list of starting quarterbacks who rushed for 100 yards, perhaps because they are great dual-threats like Jackson, or running for their lives like Kevin Hogan in 2016, or had no idea what they were doing like Johnny Manziel in 2015.
A better two-way benchmark for dual-threat quarterbacks would be 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards, a feat Jackson accomplished on Sunday and four other times in his career. Surprisingly, teams are historically just 13-12-1 when their quarterbacks reach both thresholds. The stricter criteria chops out a lot of defensive showdowns won by Vick/Cunningham/Tebow types, plus the odd old-timey victory by someone like Charley Trippi. Still, the 200-100 threshold provides a better list of quarterbacks: Jackson five times; Wilson and Newton three times; Josh Allen, Kaepernick, McNabb, Tobin Rote and Vick twice; plus Aaron Brooks, Cunningham, Marcus Mariota, Kyler Murray, Terrelle Pryor, and Steve Young.
The 200-100 thresholds don't lend themselves to a catchy name, unfortunately. So let's add one more criterion: three total touchdowns, either passing or rushing. I hereby christen a 100-rushing yard/200 passing-yard/3-total touchdown performance "the cycle."
Jackson reached the cycle on Sunday for the second time in his career; he also did it in a 20-15 Ravens win over the Browns in 2019. Newton is the all-time leader with three cycles: two wins and that Bengals tie. Wilson also has two cycles, a win and a loss to the Rams, both in 2014. Kaepernick had two cycles, a win and a loss. Cunningham, Mariota, Murray, and Rote each had one cycle, wins for the first two and losses for the second two. That makes a total of 13 cycles in all of NFL history, with teams going 8-4-1 in those games. (You'll have to go off this list I used for the 200-100 club; I'm not handy enough with PFR's filters to mix and match passing and rushing touchdowns).
The cycle still doesn't correlate with winning as much as I would like, and it's obviously skewed toward recent quarterbacks. Still, the fact that Jackson did something on Sunday that has only been done a dozen times before is worth celebrating, especially when it contributed to an exciting victory over the defending conference champions.
While I am making up new things, a "super cycle" is 100-plus rushing yards, 200-plus passing yards, three-plus touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Jackson did not do that on Sunday, though he did it in that 2019 Browns victory. Wilson has two career super cycles, Newton two, McNabb one, and Cunningham one. It's truly elite dual-threat company. And Jackson is all but certain to end up at the top of this very exclusive list in a few years.
Wednesdays at Walkthrough are all about quarterback messaging and expectation management.
Carson Wentz has Two Sprained Ankles
Wentz has not been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Titans yet, because the Colts must worry about what doctors call a "cascading injury" -- Wentz's training camp foot injury leading to Sunday's ankle ailments leading to a crippling emotional setback if Jacob Eason replaces Wentz and plays well.
Tests on Tua Tagovailoa's Ribs Reveal No Major Issues
Brian Flores responded to the news by naming the MRI machine a team captain.
Matt Nagy Asserts Andy Dalton Is the Bears Starter if He Is Healthy
Nagy's the guy on the sinking ship who climbs onto the anchor.
Tyrod Taylor Will Miss Several Weeks with a Pulled Hamstring
Deshaun Watson will miss with several months with … sheesh, just brainstorming a Watson gag makes me want to take a wire brush to my cerebellum.
Robert Saleh Praises Zach Wilson's "Resilience" after the Jets' Loss to the Patriots
"Four interceptions?" Saleh thought to himself. "Heck, Wilson is already playing the way Jimmy Garoppolo used to practice!"
MRI of Baker Mayfield's Shoulder Reveals No Structural Damage
However, Mayfield's MRI's did reveal damage to Carson Wentz's shoulder.
Walkthrough Tank Watch: New York Giants
Every Wednesday, Walkthrough will check in on one of the NFL's worst teams to determine what's going wrong, what (if anything) is going right, and what (if anything) they can do to start heading in the right direction.
The Giants Story so Far: The Giants have started out 0-2 for the fifth consecutive year and are now 18-48 since 2017, tied with the Jets for the worst record in the NFL during that span. They lost convincingly to the Broncos in Week 1 and a heartbreaker to Washington last Thursday night, illustrating that they remain a notch below the NFL's middleweights in Joe Judge's second season, Daniel Jones' third ,and Dave Gettleman's fourth.
What's going wrong? The highlights:
- The Giants play offense as if their objective is to settle for a field goal on every drive and defense as if they are genuinely shocked that opponents don't have the same philosophy.
- There's a preponderance of evidence that Judge's video game cut-screen drill sergeant routine has created a toxic environment. But maybe that's all a media narrative and it's normal for multiple players to retire early in training camp, wide receivers to blow up on the sideline and on Instagram, etc., etc.
- We could sift through mistakes from the Thursday night loss for specifics, but here's the bottom line: the Giants have assembled (at best) wild-card talent, but their coaching staff will cost them games this season, and the front office is in denial about the team's trajectory.
Is Anything Going Right? The offensive line played well despite injuries on Thursday night. There's still hope for the youngsters on that unit.
Daniel Jones ranks somewhere between Jared Goff and Mitch Trubisky on the disappointing young quarterback spectrum. He could putter along for years as a lower-tier starter who can win with bombs and sneaky (he's white!) designed runs if he finds himself on a team that's outstanding at other positions. The Giants have little hope of becoming such a team, because they have talked themselves into believing they already are. Jones would make a lot of sense backing up someone such as Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson, and that's probably his future.
What Needs to be Done? "Fire Judge and Gettleman" is a little lazy and trite. The Giants aren't likely to do those things in the 2021 calendar year. So let's see if we can change their mindset.
- Escape the Bubble. The Giants organization is trapped in an alternate-fact ecosystem. In their reality, they were a legitimate playoff team that got robbed in 2020. They were also robbed by bad calls on Thursday night. Jones is an unappreciated Josh Allen 2.0, Saquon Barkley will revert to 2018 form any day now (and that will actually make a substantial difference), and the Giants defense is like their 1990 defense, not a second-quartile unit bulwarked by maxed-out veterans. Someone at the Mara ownership level needs to shake Gettleman and Judge by the lapels to try to snap them out of the delusion before Gettleman starts holding press conferences outside of Four Seasons Landscaping.
- Accelerate the Timetable. Along similar lines, Gettleman has become a master procrastinator. Jones' development is gonna take time. Barkley will look like his old self by Week 6 or so. Free beer tomorrow. Ownership needs to set some goals and ultimatums: a winning record in 2021 or else. That would probably just cause Gettleman to make panic trades and Judge's rubber band to snap, but bringing the problems to a head is preferable than settling for another year of stalling tactics.
- Fix the Red Zone Issues. If Judge, Jason Garrett ,and Patrick Graham want to save their jobs, they can start with the red zone woes: eradicate the arch-conservative calls and penalties on offense, rethink some of the bonkers concepts ("let's leave some interior gaps uncovered at the 2-yard line") on defense.
So How Bad are the Giants? They are perfectly capable of beating the Falcons on Sunday and winning four or five more games this season. Wins against easy opponents are a mixed blessing for this organization, because their braintrust will willfully misinterpret them as vindication.
What's Next? The Giants visit the Saints and Cowboys after facing the Falcons, then host the Rams in Week 6. A 1-5 start may be a best-case scenario, and it could result in Judge losing a locker room that he never really controlled.
Walkthrough Prop Watch: Offensive Rookie of the Year Race
Every Wednesday, Walkthrough will handicap the field in an NFL awards race or some other type of futures bet.
Mac Jones isn't the best Rookie of the Year candidate after two weeks. He's just about the only Rookie of the Year candidate after two weeks.
Jones is +350 to win the OROY Award, which may be evidence of how lukewarm both the house and the public are about this year's rookies thus far. That moneyline might appeal to Patriots homers enamored with the adorable lad in the Tom Brady pajamas, but there's neither enough sizzle around Jones nor enough meat on that bone for the rest of us.
Trevor Lawrence is sitting at +550, which feels like a shoulder-shrug of a number: why fiddle with it if no one is playing it? Justin Fields sat at +600 on Tuesday while the world tried to interpret Matt Nagy's mutterings about the Bears quarterback situation. Fields is a smarter play at that moneyline than Jones or Lawrence. If the award comes down to "which quarterback rides his defense to the most victories?" Jones has the edge. But if the determining factor is "who made the most splash plays in low-scoring victories?" Fields has both an edge and a superior payout.
Trey Lance's chance at OROY decreases every time Jimmy Garoppolo hands off for a 10-yard gain. Lance is now at +1000, while 49ers rookie running backs Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon are at +2000 and +5000. Look for Shanahan to deliver the triple knockout to all three rookies by rotating Mitchell and Sermon with JaMycal Hasty and Trenton Cannon in a way that keeps Garoppolo viable as a starter. (Also, both Mitchell and Sermon were banged up against the Eagles).
It's worth noting here that Lamar Jackson didn't receive a single vote when he came off the bench to lead the Ravens to a 6-1 record and a playoff berth down the stretch in 2018. Even Quenton Nelson earned a pair of votes that year! Voters are likely to make up their minds over the next month or so, then become too busy with other football matters to change them.
Najee Harris is intriguing at +800. His 83 rushing yards and 3.2 yards per rush after two games are unimpressive, but backup Benny Snell has rushed just twice, and Harris was 5-43-1 as a receiver against the Raiders. Eddie Lacy won OROY by grinding out high-volume production for an 8-7-1 Packers team in 2014, and it's easy to picture Harris following a similar path if the rookie quarterback race never materializes. If I felt compelled to place a bet, it would be on Harris.
No wide receiver has won OROY since Odell Beckham in 2014, but Ja'Marr Chase (+1000) could win it by default if he keeps racking up the touchdowns. It's still a tall order. Chase could have a 1,000-yard, double-digit-touchdown season and still lose the race to a quarterback such as Jones or Fields who helps his team squeak into a final wild-card spot. Chase is also not likely to garner as much attention in Cincinnati as Beckham attracted in New York.
Walkthrough is a Rondale Moore fan blog, but +2500 isn't tasty enough for a receiver forced to share targets with DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green. Elijah Moore's +5000 is more tempting, but Elijah and Rondale are not the same guy no matter how often I mix them up, nor are their circumstances remotely the same.
No offensive lineman has ever won OROY, so Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater at +6500 are pure schmuck bait. In fact, the only offensive linemen to receive Rookie of the Year votes since 2010 were Nelson, Zack Martin, Larry Warford, and Maurkice Pouncey. No offensive tackles! Even the best rookie tackle will allow a few easy-to-spot, high-profile sacks, instantly submarining his awards campaign. Guards and centers have a better chance of riding their reputations to the bottom of the ballot. Walkthrough cannot find anyone offering odds on Creed Humphrey right now, which is probably a good thing.
As you may have figured out, Walkthrough is less interested in placing an Offensive Rookie of the Year wager before Week 3 than in taking stock of why this year's rookie class has been so uninteresting so far. Most of the quarterbacks are either trapped on the bench or in bad situations. The one workhorse running back is stuck behind a rickety line with a beer league softball pitcher at quarterback. The top receivers and tight ends (Kyle Pitts, +2000, no thanks) are sharing targets with other quality weapons on offenses in various states of rebuilding.
That leaves Mac Jones as just about the only offensive rookie standing, which makes for some indifferent wagerers and lots of semi-disappointed fans in Jacksonville, New York, Chicago, etc., etc.