As much as I would like to pretend like Week 1 never happened (Scott Tolzien who?) we can’t ignore the facts of the matter, this franchise is in trouble. At least until Andrew Luck, the savior, comes back.
Anyhow, let’s not focus on that, let’s put a microscope on the newbies of the roster and see how they did against the Los Angeles Rams.
Rookie of the Week: Marlon Mack
Our own Chris Blystone wrote a nice work-up on Marlon Mack’s day that is a must read. Looking at the tape, Mack had some issues, specifically the fumble he had early on, but overall he provided a spark to the offense that’s been missing from the running back position for quite some time.
He scored 2* touchdowns in his professional debut and did a little bit of everything else as well.
Mack should get a larger workload when the game still matters moving forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if he found a bigger role in the offense than Frank Gore by the end of the season, and though I love Gore, I’m hoping this will be the case sooner rather than later.
Honorable Mention: Malik Hooker
Hooker’s first half wasn’t great, he had enormous trouble taking on blocks, he was getting beat in man to man coverage and he just wasn’t playing as fast as he has shown he’s capable of on tape. This is all understandable considering the amount of time he missed during the off-season and because he’s still relatively new to the position.
However, a lot of this had to do with Chuck Pagano and company’s usage of him as well. On second watch, he wasn’t in the box as often as I originally suspected during my live viewing, but it was still too much.
His calling card, coming out of Ohio State, was playing the center field role in the back end of the defense. This is where he should be for the majority of the season, or at least more than he was in the first half of Sunday’s game, in a Colts uniform as well.
Funny enough, he started to play faster in the 2nd half. This was because he wasn’t being taken out of the game as often for Matthias Farley, and he was allowed to take his perch as the single high safety more often.
It wasn’t a perfect showing from Hooker, but he made his potential known and that’s all that should be expected from him at this point.
Nate Hairston saw the most snaps defensively out of the rookies, and he also had an up and down day. Overall, I like what I saw, especially for a fifth-round rookie. He showcased that he has the whereabouts to break on balls before they get there but also looked lost at times and got absolutely destroyed on a route by Cooper Kupp while in man to man. Hairston can be a contributor on this defense as long as he becomes more confident in his decisions.
Quincy Wilson was difficult to assess seeing as he didn’t play much and when he did it was time to take out the trash. Why the coaching staff decided to bench him in favor of T.J. Green, who just switched over to corner from safety, which he switched over to from offense in college, I’ll never understand. We’ll have to monitor his situation going forward.
Side note; why is Green playing so far off his man? He has issues with working in space, and his switch to corner only seemed to be the right move because he’d have less ground to deal with. Somehow Pagano and Monachino found a way to put Green at corner and still give him a ton of grass to worry about. It’s quite impressive how often they put their players in bad situations.
Regardless, getting back to the rookies, Matt Danely’s breakdown of Tarrell Basham was quite on point. He has the toolbox, he just has to figure out how to use the tools.
Deyshawn Bond played like an undrafted free agent. He would have plays where he found a way to do his job, but even they looked to be on the verge of disaster and Bond did the minimal amount to get by. Even still, he did have a few stretches of passable blocking, but he’d top them off with some blemishes that were difficult to watch. Essentially, he played as well as you’d expect him to play snapping the ball to Tolzien.
This game was an abomination to the eyes, but this rookie class may have something to offer. Unfortunately, it seems this team is putting a clamp on the usage of these young men, and that needs to change ASAP.
The time for the future is now, I’m just not sure if this coaching staff is attuned enough to logic to understand that.