Week VI

Needless to say the buzz around the 2014 draft reached a crescendo when Dallas got on the clock with the 14th pick overall. Would Jerry Jones, who has never been one to shy away from making a splash, pull the trigger and take former Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, arguably the most celebrated player ever in the draft. In the end, it probably wasn’t the biggest surprise that the Cowboys ultimately passed on Manziel; they already Tony Romo so what were they going to do with the enigmatic kid known affectionately as Johnny Fooball. What di raise a few eyebrows around the league, though, was the fact that defensively challenged Cowboys, who had given up the third most yards ever in NFL history in 2014 and weren’t going to get any better on that side of the ball with the departure of DE Demarcus Ware and DT Jason Hatcher, selected OG Zach Martin with their #1 pick rather than address the other side of the ball. However, nobody’s laughing much these days as Martin has been perhaps the best rookie in the league so far this fall. And Martin had one of his best games of the season this past weekend as the Cowboys stunned defending Super Bowl champion Seattle 30-23 right in their very noisy building. Against the usually stingy Seahawks‘ defense on Sunday, Martin helped pave the way for star RB DeMarco Murray to run for 115 yards - the 6th straight game this year he has passed the century mark - while affording QB Tony Romo plenty of time in the pocket - he was sacked just once and hit on only two other occasions - all from the outside - as the Cowboys ran their record to an unexpected 5-1. All that was enough to earn Martin this week’s nod for the GBN ‘Rookie of the Week’ award. In fact, Martin becomes the first offensive lineman to earn weekly rookie honors in over two years.

Other highlights an lowlights for the 2014 rookie class this past weekend included:
  • Close but no cigar …. There wasn’t necessarily a whole lot wrong with the numbers posted by rookie starting QBs around the league this past weekend, but when the smoke had cleared Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater of Minnesota and Oakland’s Derek Carr were a combined 0-3, although at least Bortles and Carr were close. Bortles, the 3rd player selected this past May, for example, completed 32 of 46 pass attempts for 336 yards and a score, while he ran for another 38 yards, but the Jaguars came up short in a 16-14 loss in Tennessee. Meanwhile, Carr, whom the Raiders chose with the 4th pick of this year’s second round, threw for 282 yards and 4 scores as Oakland gave San Diego everything it could handle before dropping a frustrating 31-28 result. On the other hand, the Vikings’ Bridgewater, the last player taken in this year’s opening round, and the rest of the Minnesota offense were grounded by Detroit in a 17-3 loss in which Bridgewater completed 23 of 37 pass attempts, but for less than 200 yards, while he was picked off three times.
  • Last week’s top rookie, undrafted San Diego RB Branden Oliver, had a second strong outing in a row in the Chargers tight win over Oakland as the former Buffalo Bull had 123 yards from scrimmaging, including over 100 rushing yards for the second straight week. In fact, it was a pretty good week all around for undrafted rookie free agent backs as Isaiah Crowell of Cleveland had 77 yards on just 11 carries - including a 24-yard TD runs in the Browns somewhat shocking 31-10 dismantling of long-time divisional nemesis Pittsburgh.
  • ‘Tis better to receive … Interesting week for first-year receivers as a number had multiple catches, but none was able to pile up much in the way of significant yardage. New York Jets' TE Jace Amaro, the team's second round pick this year, for example, had 10 receptions and a TD in their 31-17 loss to Denver, but averaged less than 7 yards per catch, while rookie WR Allen Robinson of Jacksonville had 8 catches, but for only 68 yards, in the Jags' loss to Tennesse. Meanwhile, in  Green Bay's dramatic 27-24 win in Miami, the Packers' Davante Adams and Jarvis Landry of the Dolphins, a pair of second round picks this, year both had 6 receptions with Adams netting 77 yards and Landry 75. At the same time, Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin had 7 receptions and a TD in the Panthers' tie with Cincinnati, but netted only 49 yards.
  • It was also a relatively quiet week for defensive rookies, although San Diego CB Jason Verrett, the 25th player taken this year, had 6 tackles and a pick in the Chargers win over Oakland, while Baltimore LB C.J. Mosely, this year's 17th pick overall, again led all rookies with 9 tackles. Elsewhere, CB Jon Newsome (5th) of Indianapolis, Tennessee CB Marqueston Huff (4th), Denver CB Bradley Roby (1st), and San Francisco OLB Aaron Lynch (5th) had sacks, while Detroit DT Caraun Reid (5th) was credited with a half sack in the Lions win over Minnesota. 
Previous Weekly Winners:

Week I:   Denver CB Bradley Roby
Week II: Chicago CB Kyle Fuller
Week III: Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin
Week IV: Minnesota QB Teddy Bridgewater
Week V: San Diego RB Branden Oliver

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