Film review: Breaking down Aidan Hutchinson’s performance vs. the Seahawks in Week 4

Film review: Breaking down Aidan Hutchinson’s performance vs. the Seahawks in Week 4

We’re back with another player spotlight film breakdown. This week’s subject is Lions rookie DE Aidan Hutchinson in the Week 4 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.

The prior weeks have focused on CB Jeff Okudah and LB Malcolm Rodriguez. We didn’t get a Week 3 review because the NFL’s game film was glitched and I didn’t get an alternate source in time.

In this game, the 48-45 loss to the Seahawks, Hutchinson was credited with five tackles and two QB hits by the NFL’s official statistics.

Jeff Okudah: Breaking down the Lions CB’s Week 1 performance vs. the Eagles

Malcolm Rodriguez: Breaking down the Lions rookie LB in Week 2

As with the previous ones, I went through each play involving Hutchinson on both the broadcast feed and the all-22. Hutchinson played on 57 of the Lions’ 70 defensive snaps in Week 4.

I went through and assigned a plus or minus for each play for Hutchinson individually. He didn’t factor into every play; runs and rollouts to the other side or quick passes don’t earn any marks. Stalemates on run plays, especially when Hutchinson was double-teamed, also didn’t earn marks.

The tally came out to 11 plusses and eight minuses. Breaking them down into a little more detail:

  • Three plusses came on pass rush wins vs. the left tackle, on five attempts on that side. Two were inside wins.
  • Three were on run stuffs where Hutchinson got off a block and made a tackle.
  • Four of the minuses came on passing plays where he lost by getting too far inside. All came vs. the right tackle, fellow rookie Abraham Lucas (who has more than a little Penei Sewell to his game).
  • Two minuses came when he clearly lost on a wide rush to Lucas.
  • One plus came on a QB hit, but Seattle’s Geno Smith still completed the touchdown pass thanks to bad coverage.

I also tallied up the amount of double-teams Hutchinson faced. I counted 12 true double-teams and three others where the Seahawks had help dedicated to Hutchinson. Nine of those 12 doubles came when he was aligned vs. Lucas on passing plays and Seattle had the TE stay in and double. The other Lions defenders did not register a single QB pressure on any of those double-teams.

He earned one penalty for being offsides but also forced a false start, evening out the ledger.

Overall I thought it was a solid but uneven performance from Hutchinson in his fourth career game. He was more successful in attacking the left tackle than the right tackle, which is something defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn needs to heed. There were a handful of undisciplined run defense reps where my takeaway was Hutchinson was trying too hard to make something happen. No. 97 was the only Lions pass rusher who logged any true wins vs. the tackles all afternoon.

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Texans finally bottom out in Touchdown Wire NFL power rankings

The Houston Texans finally bottomed out at No. 32 in the latest Touchdown Wire NFL power rankings.

Sooner or later, Clutch City sports fans knew their team was going to end up at the bottom of the power rankings if they didn’t start winning.

According to Mark Lane from the Touchdown Wire, the Houston Texans ranked as the No. 32 team in the NFL power rankings.

Last week: 31

There is no way to sugarcoat it anymore. The Texans can’t seem to get a full win and fall apart in the fourth quarter. The Davis Mills experiment is starting to look like a failure, and coach Lovie Smith’s patented Tampa 2 defense is having trouble stopping the run. Unless thing turn around quick, Houston may be the new No. 32 in the NFL.

Coach Lovie Smith told reporters Oct. 3 that while the NFL “is not forever,” he does believe the team is starting to put together positive elements that should be able to rattle off wins soon.

“I think we’re close enough to where we can get over the hump just based on all of the things that we saw,” Smith said. “There were a lot of good things that we saw. We talked about the running game going. We’ll get the defense to where they need to be. A lot of positive things that we have seen are going to get us over the hump.”

Across the rest of the AFC South, the Jacksonville Jaguars were No. 19, no doubt a reaction to their close loss on the road at the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles. The Indianapolis Colts were No. 17. The Tennessee Titans flirted with the top-10 as they placed No. 11.

The Texans go on the road in Week 5 to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Central Time at TIAA Bank Field.

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Lovie Smith says Texans will stay with Davis Mills as starting quarterback

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith says there won’t be a change at quarterback, and the team will stick with Davis Mills.

Davis Mills hasn’t looked impressive through his first four starts.

The former 2021 third-rounder has compiled an 0-3-1 record and 80.4 passer rating, which is more suitable for the 1980s than it is for 2022, an era in the NFL where the game is built around offensive productivity and high-powered passing games.

Even though Mills has thrown two interceptions in each of the past two games, coach Lovie Smith still remains confident in the second-year signal caller.

“We’re not making a change at the quarterback position,” Smith told reporters Monday. “The things we’ve talked about is with Davis leading us and whatever Davis and everyone, coaches, what we all need to do better.”

Smith took the side of his quarterback and pointed out how the Texans were in a position to compete with the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth quarter because of how well Mills performed throughout the third quarter. Houston even pulled within three points of the Chargers despite losing 34-24 Sunday afternoon in Week 4 at NRG Stadium.

Said Smith: “Did I just tell you we were in the fourth quarter? Do you know who our quarterback was that led us in position to take the lead there at the end? Davis Mills. He’s our quarterback.”

Although Mills may be the quarterback going forward, organizationally his performances will be under immense scrutiny as they compare to the upcoming 2023 NFL draft class.

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Bettors expect Rams to snap regular-season losing streak against 49ers on Monday night

The Niners are favored at home, but the public is going the other way.

Scoring a single touchdown in two of your first three games won’t do a lot to gain public trust, and that appears to be the case with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

Despite the Niners being favored — the spread was -1.5 as of Monday afternoon — the public is backing the Los Angeles Rams to not only cover, but to win outright, according to data from Tipico Sportsbook.

The Rams have received 73% of bets against the spread and 74% of moneyline bets. As for total handle, 69% of money on the spread and 59% of the moneyline handle is all on the Rams.

Bettors are expecting a different outcome than the recent meetings between these teams with San Francisco taking six straight regular season games over LA, though the Rams did win their playoff meeting last year.

The public also likes the point total over, with 73% of total bets on the over and 87% of the handle.

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Sportsbooks suffered their first losing Sunday of the 2022 NFL season in Week 4

Bettors fought back in Week 4.

For once, NFL bettors had their day against sportsbooks in Week 4. Sunday was the first losing Sunday of the 2022 NFL season for several sportsbooks.

SuperBook at Westgate, Caesars and WynnBet all reported losses, according to ESPN’s David Purdum, and that’s even with many books beating the public on the New England Patriots cover against the Green Bay Packers.

At Tipico Sportsbook, 81% of bets on the Patriots-Packers spread were on Green Bay and 86% of the money. That single win apparently wasn’t enough to offset the collective losses though.

“It’s definitely a change from the first three weeks, when the results were pretty solid,” Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook told ESPN.

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Among the matchups the public nailed are Dallas’ win and cover over Washington, Arizona’s win and cover over Carolina and Las Vegas’ win and cover over Denver. Purdum also credited several player props for contributing to a poor showing for the books.

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The 49ers were right to give up on Jimmy Garoppolo, and they’re about to be validated

The 49ers knew what they had in Garoppolo. Now they’ll experience frustrating deja vu.

When the 49ers, one of the NFL’s mainstays over the last few years, made a somewhat surprising run to the NFC title game last January, everyone knew something was missing.

A powerhouse offensive line buoyed by perhaps football’s best big man in Trent Williams? Check. A dynamic set of skill players, such as Swiss Army Knife receiver/running back Deebo Samuel? Check. A defense led by premium ball-stoppers and superstars in Nick Bosa and Fred Warner? Oh, heck, yes.

But a quarterback they could lean on, especially when it was time for a “gotta have it play” in crunch time? Uh, about that. Let’s just say Jimmy Garoppolo was more of a rusty anchor hanging onto the brig of one of football’s best rosters rather than a robust, powerful engine. It’s a huge discussion that will undoubtedly come into focus during the 49er’s matchup against the Rams on Monday Night Football and for the rest of the 2022 season.

Because they knew what they had, San Francisco not-so-subtly tried to move on from Garoppolo before the 2022 campaign began. But now that an injury to hopeful prodigy Trey Lance has forced their hand — the NFL world is about to be re-reminded of the impeccably low ceiling Garoppolo offers as a quarterback.

To be clear, I don’t think Garoppolo is the worst offensive signal caller in the NFL. In a league where it seems at least a fourth of the active teams seeks a new quarterback every offseason, Garoppolo offers a steady hand. On a good day, he can manage an offense and spread the wealth to his bevy of playmakers. On occasion (emphasis on occasion), he’ll make a big-time throw. And, for the most part, he won’t outright lose the game by himself. I know this isn’t a high standard I’m setting, but aside from the handful of stars some of us know on a first-name basis (“Pat,” “Lamar,” “Josh,” “Tom,” etc.) — the bar for professional quarterback performance isn’t positioned very high.

At the same time, that’s the exact problem the 49ers were hoping to finally rid themselves of this season. San Francisco’s in the middle of a Super Bowl window. A team with one NFC title and two appearances in the conference championship round in three years can’t afford to have an experienced quarterback who won’t move the needle much. The 49ers’ roster is so good that you’ll find them overcoming a quarterback like Garoppolo’s deficiencies more often than you’d expect from an average team. But when it comes to consistent, high-level play, when the squad lining up across from them is an elite playoff contender with a solid defensive front, Garoppolo will wilt. Like he seemingly always does.

Suffice it to say that’s not a flaw the 49ers can simply ignore. It’s fatal wiring for their grand Lombardi Trophy ambitions. They’re a team that needs a hero under center, not someone they sometimes have to carry on their collective back. And no: It certainly isn’t the play calls.

In 2021, Garoppolo ranked 22nd in the NFL with an average pass attempt of 7.5 yards. At the same time, his interception percentage was also 22nd at a hurtful/impactful 2.7 percent of all throws. This is who he is, and it’s who he’s been his entire career: A limited quarterback with flashes of competence who can never quite make you not dream of having something better.

The young Trey Lance could be a lengthy project when he gets healthy again. But his presence alone as a better athlete — who can make his plays with his legs and a stronger arm — gives the 49ers more promise in the long run. With Garoppolo back in the fold, for now, it’ll probably be an impossibly frustrating fit of deja vu. San Francisco will flutter about aimlessly around this midseason mark. Their core will start to piece it together during the stretch run as they get hot in a weak NFC. Then they’ll upset a heavyweight in the first round of the playoffs before they run out of steam in late January when Garoppolo fails to elevate them. Rinse, repeat, see you next year.

The 49ers were right to try and give up on Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. And now they’ll likely waste a year of a championship window because they have to play him again.

The pick: Rams 24, 49ers 20

Before the Rams defeated the 49ers for last year’s NFC championship, San Francisco had Los Angeles’ number in a season sweep. I think this primetime matchup will resemble more of the pair’s recent date for the NFC than either of those regular season games. It’ll be grimy and probably a bit unwatchable, but the Rams are a better team overall.

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Special teams misadventures cost the Lions dearly in Week 4 loss

The Lions had a couple of great special teams plays but also some very costly mistakes

Detroit’s offense in Week 4 was great, scoring 45 points. The Lions defense was inept, surrendering 48 to the visiting Seahawks. But what about the third unit, the special teams?

It was an interesting afternoon for coach Dave Fipp’s punt and kick units.

Early on, special teams was about the only thing working for the Lions. Rookie LB Malcolm Rodriguez forced a fumble on Jack Fox’s first punt. Detroit quickly cashed that takeaway in for a pretty Jared Goff-to-T.J. Hockenson touchdown strike. Later in the first quarter, Fox found Quintez Cephus with an accurate dart and converted the fake punt on fourth down. Maurice Alexander, called up from the practice squad, had a nice kickoff return in there too.

Yet even the good special teams came with some warts. Kicker Dominik Eberle, signed off the practice squad on Saturday due to an injury to Austin Seibert, missed the extra point after the first Hockenson touchdown. Eberle booted a kickoff out of bounds, leading to a Seahawks field goal. Alexander ran into a wall at the 16-yard line on the subsequent Lions return, setting up some bad field position.

But Eberle wasn’t done. He missed a second extra point late in the second quarter. What should have been a 24-17 deficit was instead a two-score margin at the half. In a game where the Lions defense did not stop the Seahawks once, every point was critical.

Think about it this way: if Eberle hits those two routine extra points, the Lions are going for the tie on their last touchdown — or even another 2-pt. conversion and the potential late lead.

NFL Week 4 results make 49ers matchup vs. Rams even bigger

Fun with early-season sample sizes: The #49ers can either be in first place or last place after Monday night.

As if the first 49ers-Rams meeting since the NFC championship game in January needed some extra intrigue, results from the Week 4 slate make it an important early-season NFC West bout.

The day started with an upset for one of the 49ers divisional foes. Seattle went into Detroit as the underdogs and led by 15 going into the fourth quarter. The Lions kept swinging back and staying in the game, but the Seahawks always had an answer and held on for a wild 48-45 win in the Motor City. That moved the Seahawks to 2-2 on the season.

In the afternoon it was Arizona’s turn to stay near the top of the NFC West race. They visited the Panthers and got off to a rocky start, falling behind 10-3 at the half and in general looking disjointed the way they have for most of their 1-2 start to the year. The second half was a different story. The Cardinals outscored Carolina 23-6 in the final two quarters and rolled to a 26-16 victory. That moved them to 2-2 for the year to keep pace with the now 2-2 Seahawks a half game behind the 2-1 Rams.

Sitting behind in the race are the 49ers and their 1-2 record. That’s why this game becomes so crucial for San Francisco. Given their injury situation and a difficult stretch of their schedule coming up, they need to start stacking some division wins and keep from falling multiple games behind.

A win would put the entire division in a four-way tie at 2-2. A loss would push the 49ers to last place, a full game behind both Seattle and Arizona. They’d also be two games behind the 3-1 Rams (though that was the case regardless of the other outcomes). That difference is stark for a club like San Francisco where the margin for error isn’t particularly large.

Bouncing back from a disastrous Week 3 to take home a Week 4 win was always going to be important, but the chance to stay up in first place instead of sitting in last is enough to add a little extra motivation for the 49ers on Monday night (just in case they weren’t already motivated by a divisional game against a team that beat them in the NFC championship game nine months ago).

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QB Davis Mills urges Texans fans to still show up to games, ‘keep this place rocking’

Houston Texans QB Davis Mills says that fans should still keep coming to NRG Stadium amid the team’s 0-3-1 record to keep the venue “rocking.”

Houston Texans fans haven’t seen a win inside NRG Stadium since the David Culley era.

The last time the Texans won at home, let alone at all, was Week 16 against the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021. The Texan weren’t able to get their first full win of 2022 as the Chargers beat Houston 34-24 in a rematch inside NRG Stadium.

Texans fans were noticeably upset throughout the loss, a defeat where the home side fell down as far as 27-7 at halftime. Inevitably boos rained down, but quarterback Davis Mills understood why the fans were agitated.

“Yeah, I mean, as all fans are, you want to love your team as much as possible when they’re doing well, and then it’s tough for you to like them when they’re not doing well,” said Mills, who went 26-of-35 for 246 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The second-year signal caller had a simple message for fans: still keep coming to games.

Said Mills: “Just urge them to come in here and keep this place rocking. I mean, when the energy was — when everyone was loud and we had energy I think late in the game, the players feed off that. That’s helping us play well, and we have to use that every ounce of it when we’re at home.”

The Texans go on the road once more to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 at TIAA Bank Field. The Jaguars are 2-2 and coming off a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Houston has to find a way to cultivate a win and improve their 0-3-1 record or else there may not be anyone left the next time they suit up at NRG Stadium on Oct. 30 against the Tennessee Titans.

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6 fascinating facts about Texans RB Dameon Pierce against the Chargers

Houston Texans RB Dameon Pierce finally had a breakout game. Here are six stats regarding his performance against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Houston Texans may have had a letdown against the Los Angeles Chargers, falling 34-24 Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium, but their rookie running back did not.

Although the Texan fell to 0-3-1 on the year, fourth-rounder Dameon Pierce assuredly had his breakout game. The former Florida product tallied 14 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown — including a 75-yard gallop that provided a much needed boost for the Texans’ offense to keep pace with Los Angeles.

“In the NFL, that’s hard to do,” coach Lovie Smith said of Pierce’s 75-yard touchdown run. “He is just kind of showing you all of the things that he can do.”

Here are six interesting facts about Pierce’s fourth career game.