Week 12 in the NFL is (almost) in the books, and Derek Rackley and Ovie Mughelli of 120 Sports are here to break down the major storylines. Rackley had an eight-year career as a tight end for the Falcons and Seahawks, while Mughelli was an All-Pro fullback with the Atlanta Falcons in 2010.
What did you think of that Odell Beckham Jr. catch?
Rackley: Two words that come to mind: Silky smooth. But I'm not surprised, since I called a lot of his games when he was at LSU and saw his athleticism in person. Before the season, Beckham got a lot of flack because of some lingering hamstring issues. Some were even questioning whether he was really tough enough for the NFL. Well, hopefully this shut a lot of those people up. He does one-handed catch drills in practice, but you can't teach the play he made for the touchdown, especially with the coverage draped all over him. Really impressive. Too bad the Giants couldn't finish the job. Beckham gave them a boost, but their defense let them down. Giving Tony Romo almost 10 seconds in the pocket in the fourth quarter? Ridiculous.
Mughelli: It's the type of thing you think you'd only see in video games. I was joking with some of my colleagues over here at 120 Sports, you can't tell me he doesn't have Stickum on his glove. Actually, more like velcro. It was really incredible. Best catch ever, though? Let's calm down a bit on that. I know it was right in front of us and we all saw it on big screens with 1080p and higher resolutions. But that sort of discounts some of the great catches of the past. TO. Chad Johnson. Andre Johnson. Larry Fitzgerald (who I've seen bring down plenty of one-handed catches). I'd be willing to put it in the Top 5 or Top 3 ever, though.
What do the Browns need to do to make a playoff run?
Rackley: They're competing in arguably the best division in football, which is tough luck. But getting Josh Gordon back is a big boost as he brings back that sheer playmaking ability. On Sunday, he was targeted 16 times -- that's a ton for someone who wasn't with the team at all for so long. They still need Brian Hoyer to play better. But he put his team in a position to win the game, something he's able to do constantly, and that's more important than his stats.
Mughelli: Brian Hoyer was good early on because he took care of the ball. Now it seems he's getting more careless. On Sunday, I think he was trying too hard against a defense he didn't really need to try hard against. And it was good to see Josh Gordon back, but his awareness wasn't quite there yet (there were a couple of passes that it seemed he could have caught or at least knocked down so that the defender didn't have a chance at an INT). Hopefully, if they can get Jordan Cameron back, it'll help Gordon get more comfortable and take some pressure off. Then they might have something.
What did you see from the Seahawks defense today that hasn't been there in the last few weeks?
Rackley: I do think Sunday was almost a must-win game for Seattle, so there was a lot of urgency there. They had lost a little bite on D, but they got some mojo back. They held the Cardinals to a 25-percent conversion rate on third down and just 140 passing yards. Going up against one of the best teams in the league at this point in the season, that was quite a statement. We'll have to see if they can keep this momentum going, but for one week, at least, they showed that the defense can still be a shutdown unit.
Mughelli: They got the Boom in their Legion of Boom back. When going against a lot of these fast-paced, no-huddle offenses, the Seahawks often appeared like they were always on their heels. But they were getting better calls today, executing rotations, getting presses when they needed to and rallying to the ball well. A lot of that had to do with the leadership of Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor, who had seven solo tackles. The swagger is back.
Did RG3 make any improvements this week or was it same old, same old?
Rackley: With all the weapons they have, 106 yards passing is pathetic. There just seems to be so much disconnect between the owner, the head coach and the quarterback. I know there are rumors that certain players in the locker room are not big fans of RG3. But the bottom line is, he needs to start showing them something. Last season was a failure and it looks like this one will be, too. Can he make improvements? Yes. But this team doesn't look like they're going to roll off a bunch of wins before the end of the season.
Mughelli: The ironic part is that, if RG3 could have picked a week to call out his teammates, it would have been this one. His left tackle Trent Williams did him no favors, letting his guy through the line easily all day long. After you've been sacked several times from that one side, you're going to get a little nervous in the pocket. They didn't give him much to work with. But, in general, it just doesn't look like Griffin is a good fit for Jay Gruden's offense. Something will have to give, eventually.
Talk about T.Y. Hilton's heartwarming moment (dedicating his game to his newborn daughter). What did that say to you?
Rackley: There was a situation when I was playing for the Falcons -- one of our guys, Brian Finneran, was expecting a baby with his wife during the season. We were actually walking onto the airplane for a road trip when he got the call -- then he walked back off. Everything went well and he jetted to meet us that week. He didn't have quite the performance that T.Y. had, but he played with emotion nonetheless. Sometimes, fans may forget that NFL players are people too and go through the same things everyone else does. Sunday was a great day for TY … and a pretty cool touchdown celebration too.
Mughelli: I related to the moment. I had a son in October and my daughter was born two years ago when I was in training camp with the Rams. For a lot of guys in the league who are married and have kids, by thinking about their families, they play with a lot less angst and tightness. Life doesn't begin and end with football. What matters is the people who will be there after we hang up our cleats. Hilton's daughter will love him unconditionally whether he scores a touchdown or not. This was a good reminder of that.