By Jose Saldana
Week 3 featured highs and lows for Stanford alumni in the NFL. A couple of breakout games from Christian McCaffrey and Doug Baldwin helped bring up Stanford’s status in the NFL, but alumni such as Zach Ertz and Richard Sherman had some head-scratching moments.
Carolina’s running back Christian McCaffrey finally had a significant impact on the receiving game for the Panthers. He had 101 receiving yards on nine receptions (all career highs). McCaffrey’s receiving efforts ultimately came up futile because the Panthers were dominated by the New Orleans Saints 34-13. He has still yet to record a touchdown this season and hasn’t done much on the ground, as he is only averaging 2.9 yards per carry.
McCaffrey, who was the eighth pick in the 2017, hasn’t lived up to the expectations set when he was drafted so early and his performance in training camp had fans and pundits hyping the season he would have. Maybe this game will get McCaffrey to be a more consistent contributor, but he needs to make more impact in the running game.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas, who was the third pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, has been largely silent (at least on the stat sheet) in his first two weeks of the season. Week 3 was no different, as Thomas managed only one tackle in the 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. However, Thomas will probably see his minutes go up, and he could even start, after the 49ers lost defensive lineman Tank Carradine to IR. Thomas was largely playing on passing downs, so an opportunity to be on running plays could help Thomas’ production.
Seattle’s wide receiver Doug Baldwin erupted on Sunday against Tennessee when he caught 10 passes for 105 receiving yards and one touchdown. He almost exceeded the amount of receiving yards he caught in his first two games combined. His performance helped spur a Seahawks offense that has been incapable of scoring points. Before this game, Seattle was averaging 10.5 points per game but ended this week with 27 in the loss to the Titans.
Baldwin’s fellow Stanford alumnus, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, certainly had an interesting game. He racked up three tackles and one pass defended, but the story of his performance has been dominated by his controversial tackle on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota had already been pushed out-of-bounds when Sherman hit him, drawing an “unnecessary roughness” penalty. The penalty was nullified after Titans players were flagged when an altercation broke out.
Many pundits and fans thought Sherman should be ejected for “unsportsmanlike conduct” instead of the unnecessary roughness that was actually called. He stayed in the game and played all 74 defensive snaps in the game.
Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz had a wild game, too. On the surface, his stats for a tight end are pretty good: one touchdown (his first of the year), eight receptions and 55 receiving yards. And he was guarded by one of the premier safeties in the New York Giants’ Landon Collins. However, a fumble in the fourth quarter, which the Giants converted into a game-tying touchdown, and a dropped wide-open touchdown made Ertz to be the scapegoat if the Eagles lost. Fortunately for Ertz, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott knocked in a 61-yard field goal to win the game and erase (somewhat) Ertz’s horrible mistakes in the game.
The other Stanford tight ends (Austin Hooper, Levine Toilolo and Coby Fleener) combined for two catches and 30 receiving yards. Hooper and Toilolo, who play for the Atlanta Falcons, had only two targets and both were for Hooper. This is kind of surprising, since Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw the ball 35 times, but the focus of that offense has been on the playmakers in the backfield and the outside and not on the tight ends.
The greatest Stanford quarterbacks of the last ten years, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Cleveland’s Kevin Hogan, didn’t see the field in Week 3.
Luck, who had offseason surgery on his shoulder, has not been able to practice at all this season. He missed all of training camp and the Colts (1-2 record) have been miserable without him. Luck might not play into well into the season as labrum repair surgery is usually six to nine months for a full recovery.
Hogan played last week, as he filled in after starter DeShone Kizer developed migraines. He scored a touchdown before Kizer came back to finish the game. This past week, the Browns continued with Kizer instead of Hogan, and they lost 31-28 to the Colts.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.