Eagles in the NFL: September 2019
By Bryan Bruwer
Welcome back to Eagles in the NFL, a monthly recap of the performances of Boston College’s premier football alumni. In this edition, we’ll be looking at how eight of BC’s finest performed in the first month of the 2019 NFL season.
Matt Ryan (QB) Atlanta Falcons: September was certainly not kind to Matty Ice and the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons currently sit at 1-3 after an embarrassing home defeat to the Tennessee Titans this Sunday, and coach Dan Quinn’s seat is getting considerably hotter. To make matters worse, the other Boston College Eagle on the Atlanta roster, rookie Chris Lindstrom, broke his foot in the first game of the season and is currently on injured reserve. Ryan has also been uncharacteristically careless with the football this year, leading the league with 6 interceptions. However, things aren’t all bad for Ryan and the Falcons. Ryan is still averaging over 300 passing yards per game and is completing 72% of his passes; he is also fourth in the league with eight touchdown passes The Falcons will look to get their season back on track in what is likely a must-win against the Houston Texans next week.
Luke Kuechly (ILB) Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly has been one of if not the best inside linebacker in the NFL over the last half-decade or so, and he has continued to play at a high level this season. Kuechly is currently second in the NFL with 44 tackles (23 solo, 21 assisted); he also recorded the first safety of his career in a masterful performance in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In that Thursday night game, Kuechly recorded a gargantuan 18 combined tackles, (10 solo, 8 assisted). Despite the injury to quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers have remained afloat at 2-2 thanks to strong efforts from the Kuechly-led defense that is allowing less than 15 points per game since Week 2.
John Johnson III (S) Los Angeles Rams: John Johnson III has played tremendous football so far in the 2019 season. He picked off Drew Brees and Baker Mayfield in back-to-back weeks, and recorded 11 tackles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. Johnson III also has 26 tackles on the season, and much like Johnson III, the Rams have played exceptionally well this year. Despite a brutal showing from the defense in a 55-40 Week 4 loss to the Bucs, the Rams are 3-1 with victories over quality opponents such as the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns.
Matt Milano (OLB) Buffalo Bills: Milano has made the most of his newfound role as a regular on a stingy Bills defense. Through 4 games he has tallied 26 tackles and a pass deflection, recording nine of those tackles in a hard-fought victory over the New York Jets in the season opener. The Bills defense has yet to allow over 17 points in a game this season, and proved their dominance by limiting the Patriots dynamic offense to a meager 16 points in Week 4. Although the Bills were unable to come away with the victory, they sit at 3-1 and made it clear that they have playoff aspirations.
Justin Simmons (S) Denver Broncos: Now in his fourth season with the Denver Broncos, Simmons has continued to contribute at a solid clip. He has recorded 22 tackles so far this season and had a standout performance in a Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears, where he recorded nine of those tackles. Simmons is on pace to approach 100 tackles for a second straight season. Unfortunately for Simmons, the Broncos as a team have limped out of the gate to an 0-4 record, and unless the Joe Flacco-led offense and what should be a dominant pass rush improve, it could be a long season in the mile-high city.
Harold Landry (OLB) Tennessee Titans: Looking to build on a rookie year where he flashed his potential in limited playing time, Landry has gotten the chance to make a splash on the Titans defense. He has played on 88% of available snaps, and has flashed that same potential this season. Landry recovered a fumble and knocked down Jacoby Brissett in the Titans loss to Colts in Week 2, and he has also record two tackles for a loss. The Titans defense hasn’t allowed more the 20 points in a game this season, and they’ll look to lock down a potentially Matt Barkley-led Bills team next week.
Anthony Castonzo (OT) Indianapolis Colts: After the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck late in the preseason, having Castonzo serve as the lynchpin of a once shaky Colts offensive line became even more important for Indianapolis. Castonzo has continued to be a stabilizing force for the Colts, committing zero penalties and allowing no sacks of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. In fact, the entire Colts offensive line has done an exceptional job keeping Brissett upright, as he has only been sacked six times so far this season. The Colts currently sit at 2-2, in the thick of four-way tie in what will likely be a tense race for the AFC South crown come December.
Isaac Yiadom (CB) Denver Broncos: After barely seeing the field as rookie, Yiadom has taken on a bigger role in the Broncos secondary this year, starting opposite Chris Harris Jr. at cornerback for the Broncos first two games before taking a backseat in Week 3. In these games, Yiadom racked up 11 tackles including one TFL. Yiadom had been picked on by opposing QBs with 91% of balls being thrown his way resulting in catches. Depsite his early struggles, Yiadom has plenty of time left to right the ship.