Beware of the QB kicker
Passer rating of Nick Mullens in his pro debut Thursday night for the San Francisco 49ers — the highest by any NFL player in his first game since the 1970 merger, according to ESPN. The Niners crushed their Bay Area rivals, the Oakland Raiders, 34-3, thanks in large part to the three-TD passing performance of Mullens. An undrafted second-year player, Mullens played in place of injured C.J. Beathard, who became starter in September when Jimmy Garoppolo tore an ACL.
The Los Angeles Rams present numerous difficulties to any NFL team — on offence, defence … even special teams. Rams placekicker Greg Zuerlein is among the best and most accurate in the league (9-of-10 on field goals, perfect on extra points). And punter Johnny Hekker is as good as any, landing 11 of his 22 punts inside the 20 this year. But Hekker is a dual threat — on punt fakes.
“A lot of backup quarterbacks haven’t had as many (pass) attempts as he has,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said Friday.
True enough. Hekker has thrown two passes this season off fake punts, and completed one, for 12 yards. Los Angeles Chargers backup Geno Smith and Indianapolis Colts backup Jacoby Brissett have thrown one pass apiece in 2018.
In his seven-year NFL career, all with the Rams, Hekker has thrown 17 passes and completed 10, for 149 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
That’s a passer rating of 107.2, which blows “There are a lot of stats that the Steelers are actually better without him. That might be why he’s riding a jet ski down in Miami right now.”
— Ravens defensive coordinator, on the continuing absence of holdout Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell, and the standout play of his replacement, James Conner. Beleaguered Buffalo Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman, aka the Interception Machine, has never made it into the fourth quarter of any of his three NFL starts (two times because he was pulled, once because he got hurt). On the other hand, he has never played before the fourth quarter in any of his four relief appearances. He’ll start Buffalo’s home game Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
DON (WINK) MARTINDALE,