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Three “Roll Tide” rookies reign supreme

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the NFL Player of the Week award for the top players of Week 12 was gifted to a trio of rookies. It wasn’t gifted by me, but by the veterans of the league, who have been impressed with the class so far and wanted to acknowledge their dominance. So they took the week off from having elite performances and allowed the young bucks to be rewarded.

NFL Player of the Week | Week 12

We’ve once again arrived at Ricky Bobby’s least favorite spot. Here lie the bodies of those who came in close proximity to first but didn’t quite win this week.

No quarterback had a performance like Justin Herbert had a week ago. Josh Allen had a good day, but he still made a few mistakes. Joe Mixon was a deserving candidate with his 2 TDs and 165 yards rushing, but I went in another direction. Three college teammates and national champions swept the NFL Player of the Week awards this week.

NFL Quarterback of the Week | Mac Jones

Mac Jones continues to grow in his role as the quarterback of the New England Patriots. Early on, he was simply a facilitator allowing players to work with the ball in their hands around the line of scrimmage.

He’s become far more comfortable pushing the ball downfield in recent weeks, placing passes into intermediate windows against both man and zone coverages. New England had worked a lot around the line in their passing attack, but things changed against Tennessee.

It ended up securing the NFL Player of the Week award for Week 12 for the rookie QB.

In fact, 11 of Jones’ 32 attempts traveled more than 10 yards downfield, while only 5 passes occurred behind the line. He finished the day 23-of-32 for 310 yards, completing 8.2% more passes than expected.

NFL Offensive Player of the Week | Jaylen Waddle

Things have been ugly at times for Jaylen Waddle throughout his rookie season. When Tua Tagovailoa isn’t on the field, we see different usage rates and effectiveness for the rookie wide receiver. But the former Alabama teammates have an outstanding rapport.

The 57-yard catch and run from Waddle was a big highlight. It displayed the blurring acceleration and long speed he possesses as he sliced through the Panthers’ defense.

Waddle finished with 9 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown, but that was an afterthought.

The touchdown dance that played off his name was the real star of the game. Waddle secured the catch and immediately stiffened his arms straight down by his sides, palms facing down. He then began waddling like a penguin, which is one of the most innocent and entertaining celebrations I can remember.

NFL Defensive Player of the Week | Patrick Surtain II

Patrick Surtain II is an excellent case study in eye candy being weighted more heavily by amateur analysts and the NFL alike. Playing in a Crimson Tide scheme that was endlessly complicated, he was as technically sound as any cornerback I can remember. His athleticism was questioned because he never really had to drop a gear and go — he was always in the correct position.

Oh, and he didn’t get his hands on a bunch of passes in college.

Surtain has continued to play technically sound football as a rookie, but he’s also getting his hands on more passes. His pick-six was an early Christmas present, but his first interception changed the entire momentum of the game. The Broncos were up 14-7 when Surtain jumped a Herbert pass in the end zone, earning him NFL Player of the Week honors.

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