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Built By Bama: A Weekly Analysis of Former Alabama Players in the NFL (Week 12)

Much like their Alma Mater, plenty of former Tide players have their eyes set on this year’s playoffs

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

This week, I’m changing a few things up. If we’re being honest, I don’t think I’ve kept a concrete structure for any of my articles to this point. Sorry. This time, I’ve included the scores from all the games in Week 12, the Top 5 Performers from Week 12, a short section featuring more takeaways from former Alabama players in the NFL, and a handy little table featuring every former Alabama player’s performance in Week 12. I spent the week home sick from work so I had a lot of time to focus on writing. If you came for a little light reading, once again, I’m sorry. Now let’s get down to business!

Week 12 Scores

Vikings 13 @ Lions 16

Redskins 26 @ Cowboys 31

Steelers 28 @ Colts 7

Rams 21 @ Saints 49

Bengals 14 @ Ravens 19

Chargers 21 @ Texans 13

49ers 24 @ Dolphins 31

Cardinals 19 @ Falcons 38

Giants 27 @ Browns 13

Titans 27 @ Bears 21

Jaguars 21 @ Bills 28

Seahawks 5 @ Buccaneers 14

Patriots 22 @ Jets 17

Panthers 32 @ Raiders 35

Chiefs 30 @ Broncos 27 in OT

Packers 27 @ Eagles 13

Week 12’s Top Performances

It’s been three weeks since Mark Ingram has appeared on the top performers list. Since that week, his performances have been lackluster. Two weeks ago, Ingram carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards against a Denver Broncos defense that has plummeted from number 3 in the league in rushing yards allowed last season to 27th this season. The following week, Ingram went up against a Carolina Panthers defense that is currently ranked 2nd in total yards allowed on the ground. The former Alabama running back had an equally poor performance with only 28 yards rushing, but part of this can be accredited to him leaving the game early after only 7 carries to enter concussion protocol. This week, however, Mark Ingram could not be contained.

The Saints took it to the Los Angeles Rams 49-21 this past Sunday. Ingram’s huge performance has to be given some credit for this beat down. With the running game working, quarterback Drew Brees was able to torch the Rams defense through the air. On 14 carries, Ingram racked up 146 yards and a touchdown, which is the third most yards he has put up in a game in his NFL career. His longest rush of the day went for 61 yards before being brought down inside the redzone. Ingram’s big day didn’t just take place on the ground, as he was also the recipient of a screen pass from Drew Brees which took the former Heisman winner 21 yards behind a convoy of blockers into the endzone. Mark Ingram’s week 12 performance landed him at the top of the league’s rushing yards for the week, as well as at the top of Built By Bama’s Top Performers list.

Mark Ingram’s Week 12 Highlights

Ingram is only 48 rushing yards away from matching last year’s total of 769 yards on 30 less carries to this point in the season. With five games left in the 2016 season, this could very well be the first time in his six-year career that Mark Ingram has rushed for over 1,000 yards. The closest Ingram has come to this milestone came in 2014 where he rushed for 964 yards on 226 carries and was selected to the Pro Bowl. At 27 years old, it appears Mark Ingram’s career is only getting better with age.

2016 has not been Marcell Dareus’ year. He was suspended for the first four games of the season for missing a drug test, then missed the next three weeks with a hamstring injury before finally seeing action against the New England Patriots in week 8. Dareus was once again sidelined, this time with a groin injury, and missed week 9 against the Seahawks. A bye week in the 10th week of the season helped Marcell get healthy before playing against the Bengals last week and the Jaguars this past Sunday.

Despite only playing in three games this season, Dareus now has the third most sacks out of any Bills player and has the 14th most tackles. The majority of the players ahead of him have played in at least 11 games. The Bills have been a completely different team with Dareus in the lineup with his ability to get to the quarterback and stuff the run. The Patriots are ranked 7th in the league in rushing yards per game. However, the Bills were able to hold New England to only 72 yards on the ground. This past week, Buffalo gave up 183 yards on the ground, however that was mostly due to Blake Bortles’ ability to scramble out of the pocket as he accounted for 81 yards on 8 rushing attempts. Bortles wasn’t able to escape every play though, as he was sacked twice (both times by Dareus). Despite only being sacked twice, Bortles didn’t have much time in the pocket during Sunday’s game. Unlike Bortles, Marcell Dareus appeared to have plenty of time as he even made a trip to Party City during the game to pick up a sweet captain hat to conduct his post-game interview in.

Unfortunately for the Bills Mafia, Dareus’ day didn’t end on a high note. The injury bug that has plagued his 2016 season came back with a vengeance towards the end of the game. Although the severity of his injury is unknown at the time, it was enough for Rex Ryan to keep the star defensive tackle on the sideline of the final two drives. Dareus promises that the apparent abdominal strain is nothing serious, we won’t know for certain until practice this week. With cornerback Ronald Darby out next week with a concussion, the Bills can’t afford to lose another impact player on defense against the high powered offense of the Oakland Raiders.

1.5 total tackles and Dre Kirkpatrick ended up at number three of Built By Bama’s Top Performers List? The rest of the former Alabama players must have played like Auburn did against Alabama, right? Nay nay! It’s not the size of the stats that matter, ladies and gentlemen. Joe Flacco did all he could to avoid throwing in the vicinity of Dre Kirkpatrick on Sunday; which was probably a good call. While the rest of the Bengals secondary were beat on quite a few plays, Kirkpatrick played out of his mind in the loss against the Ravens. The player he was matched up against for most of the day is no stranger to getting under the skin of cornerbacks; this year especially.

Last season, Steve Smith Sr. was caught on camera bad mouthing the entire Bengals secondary after scoring a go-ahead touchdown in the 4th quarter.

Smith had 186 yards and 2 touchdowns in last year’s eventual loss to the Bengals. This year, Smith wasn’t able to blaze the Cincy defense; accounting for 4 receptions and 20 yards. Kirkpatrick couldn’t let Smith’s words from last year go unanswered and fired back after the game.

“Eighty-nine said I was trash. If I’m trash, what did he do today? F*ck, clean that up. Who was trash today? He said what he had to say last year. I just wanted to let him know, am I trash now? Eighty-nine looked to trash me, but he didn’t do anything.”

Sa-vage, Mr. Kirkpatrick, but Steve Smith is hardly undeserving of a little shit talking. Kirkpatrick joins Jaguars Jalen Ramsey and Cowboys Anthony Brown as those who have gotten into it with Smith this season. This is more than likely the final season for Steve Smith Sr. and the final game on the Ravens schedule just so happens to be against the Cincinnati Bengals. Grab your popcorn because this matchup is going to be a thriller.

Alabama players led the league in two statistical categories in week 12. Mark Ingram had the most rushing yards out of any player, while Mark Barron was tied with Sean Lee for most total tackles throughout week 12. Both players had 14 total tackles, but Barron racked up more solo tackles than Lee of the Cowboys. Unfortunately, Mark Barron’s big game couldn’t bring the Rams a win as the Saints absolutely mollywhopped Los Angeles 49-21.

Don’t let the score of this week’s game fool you; despite giving up 49 points, the Rams have one of the better defenses in the NFL. They are currently ranked number 9 in total defense out of the 32 teams. The Saints, however, have the statistically best offense in the league and it showed this week. Barron was notably irritated by how his defense played and shot off a tweet with some fun words attached.

Up to this point in the season, linebacker Alec Ogletree is the only Rams defender with more tackles than Barron. If Mark Barron remains the only player that remembers how to wrap up on a tackle, this could change very soon. Barron is well on his way to 100 tackles for the season, needing only 9 more to accomplish this feat.

The lingering effects of the toe injury suffered by Titans starting running back DeMarco Murray was apparent in this week’s game against the Chicago Bears, but nothing can be taken away from how well Derrick Henry performed when he was given the opportunity to run the ball. On 8 carries, Henry averaged 7.5 yards per carry and racked up his second career NFL touchdown against the Bears defense. If anything, the Bears rush defense could be seen as a litmus test for any team running the ball against them, as they are sitting right in the middle of the league in rushing yards allowed per game. Statistically, the Bears appear to be the toughest challenge for the Titans running attack compared to their final four opponents. In the upcoming weeks, the Titans face the Broncos (27th in rush defense), the Chiefs (29th), the Jaguars (24th), and the Texans (19th).

If this week showed us anything, it’s that head coach Mike Mularkey has to be smiling ear to ear about his team’s chances of making the playoffs. The Titans are fortunate to be in the AFC South, which appears to be the division with the most parity in the NFL. Houston sits atop of the division at 6-5, followed by the Titans (6-6), Colts (5-6), and the Jaguars (2-9). Barring a complete and total meltdown from the first three teams, the Jaguars still aren’t out of contention for the playoffs. In related news, I think my chances of getting with Daisy Ridley are pretty good too. More than likely, the division will be decided on the final game of the regular season with the Texans travelling to Nashville to take on the Titans. If Mike Mularkey decides to quit pulling a Gus Malzahn by taking players out of the game when they’re hot, I see Henry and the Titans making it to the playoffs.

On the Titans first drive of the second quarter, Henry replaced DeMarco Murray in the backfield after the Titans were able to drive down to the Bears’ 26 yard line. The next two plays featured back-to-back runs by the former Heisman winner that went for a game-long of 17 yards and 6 yards, respectively. This brought up a 2nd down on the Bears’ 3-yard line. Henry was then replaced by Murray in the backfield who proceeded to get stuffed for a 1-yard loss. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, but from the way Henry was running the ball on Sunday, I don’t think there was a chance the Bears would have kept him out of the endzone had he been given a third straight carry. After this game, however, Alabama fans have to be optimistic of Derrick Henry’s future in the NFL.

Since the AFC South playoff race is so close, I don’t expect the Titans to rest their starters, but I do see Henry being given a bigger workload in December. Even if the NFL isn’t your cup of tea, Alabama fans should tune in to the Titans’ final games of the season. On offense, Tennessee features three former Alabama players. Henry and Jalston Fowler will be seeing significant playing time, while offensive guard Chance Warmack may be making his return from the IR in the upcoming weeks. Defensively, the Titans utilize former Alabama safety Rashad Johnson who has started in 7 games this season. The playoffs are just around the corner and this year could feature the most Alabama players ever in the NFL postseason. Finish your household chores on Saturday and be sure to tune in to what is guaranteed to be a regular season finale that is hotter than Butch Jones’ seat.

More Takeaways From Former Alabama Players In Week 12

  • A’Shawn Robinson is now tied for the lead in passes defended (5) for defensive linemen. Last Thursday’s game against the Vikings was his first career start.
  • Mark Ingram now leads the league in rushing yards per attempt for all running backs in the NFL (5.3 Y/A). Against the Rams, he averaged 10.43 yards per carry.
  • Kenyan Drake now leads the league in average yards per kickoff return among players with more than 5 attempts. Drake’s 78-Yard Kickoff Return against the 49ers.
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s Interception on Monday night against the Eagles was the Packers first takeaway since November 6 against the Colts. Clinton-Dix intercepted Andrew Luck twice in that game. He is also the only Packer to have multiple interceptions this season (3).


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