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Built By Bama: A Weekly Analysis of Former Alabama Players in the NFL (Week 19)

College Football may have one more game left, but the Playoffs are just about to begin in the NFL and the Tide is still rolling!

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s been a few weeks, Roll Bama Roll, since I’ve posted my last Built By Bama. For all of my fan that missed me, I’m sorry. If you haven’t been following the NFL lately, let me bring you up to date. The Playoffs begin this Saturday at 4:35 EST with a Wildcard matchup between the Raiders and the Texans. Then at 8:15, the Lions take on the Seahawks. Sunday’s action begins at 1 PM with the Dolphins taking on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Finally, at 4:40 the Giants travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers. For a more in depth guide to the NFL Playoffs (and more importantly what to expect from former Alabama players in the Playoffs), check back later this week on Roll Bama Roll. Without further ado, let’s delve into this sweet, sweet Week 17 NFL goodness.

Week 17’s Top Performances

Throughout the majority of the season, Julio Jones had seemed like a lock for finishing the year as the league leader in reception yards. However, a toe injury kept Jones sidelined for weeks 14 and 15. In those two weeks without seeing any action, both TY Hilton and Odell Beckham Jr. jumped the Falcons wide receiver in total reception yards for 2016. This week, Before the Falcons faced the Saints, the Colts wide receiver TY Hilton accounted for 95 yards to remain ahead of Julio Jones as the league leader in reception yards for the season. In order to finish the regular season on top, Julio Jones would have had to account for 136 yards against the Saints defense this week. Unfortunately, Julio finished the regular season only 39 yards short of TY Hilton, however his performance against the Saints lands him a well deserved top spot in Built By Bama’s Top Performers of Week 17.

The Falcons only had possession of the ball for 3 minutes and 14 seconds of the 1st Quarter. With 52 seconds left in the 1st Quarter, Julio Jones was targeted for the first time. The pass went incomplete and drew a flag as fellow Tide alumni, Roman Harper, was called for pass interference which would have given Julio Jones at least 46 more yards. Those 46 extra yards would have given Julio enough yards to retake first place in reception yardage this season. Thanks Roman. With the exception of his second reception, which went for 7 yards only to be stopped a yard short of the goal line, all 6 remaining receptions went for either a first down or a touchdown. Jones finished the day with 13.71 yards per reception and could not have been more clutch against a Saints team that threatened to come back late in the game. Although it hurt his average yards per reception, Jones’ 1 yard touchdown grab was once again a thing of beauty.

The Falcons now get ready to enjoy a bye week, which will hopefully give Julio Jones enough time to recover from his foot injury. This upcoming weekend will decide whether Jones and the Falcons have to face the Giants, the Packers, or the Seahawks in the semifinals of the NFC Championship. The NFC appears to be the most confusing road to the Super Bowl, but if QB Matt Ryan can continue to play at a MVP caliber level and Julio Jones can play at 100% throughout the playoffs, the Falcons have a very realistic shot at making an appearance in the Super Bowl.

Moving on to a team with about as realistic of a shot at making the Super Bowl, let alone the playoffs, as Auburn does being given Alabama’s spot in the National Championship Game. Before week 17, the Jets were 4-11 and sitting pretty to draft Cam Robinson for their first pick since their line is going to need some serious rebuilding. This horrible season for the Jets and a better draft pick was within their grasp, however the Jets overlooked one very large detail - They were playing the Buffalo Bills: Disappointment Incarnate. After the firing of brothers Rex and Rob Ryan this past week, OC Anthony Lynn took over as the interim head coach of the Bills. In typical Buffalo fashion, the Bills were unable to win a game they were supposed to.

James Carpenter had an extremely solid day for the Jets as well as being the only staple at the offensive line position. After this game, all four of the offensive linemen besides Carpenter have combined for a total of 20 starts. Carpenter started his 32nd straight game starting for the Jets offensive line Sunday against the Bills. Carpenter’s pass blocking against the Bill’s front seven was practically flawless, as he allowed no pass rushes to pressure QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick completed 20 of his 30 passes for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Jets offensive live also allowed running back Bilal Powell to rush for 122 yards on 22 carries.

Although neither the Bengals nor the Ravens had a shot at making the NFL post-season by winning this game, Cincinnati certainly didn’t play as if that was the case. The then 5-9-1 Bengals dominated the then 8-7 Ravens for all four quarters. Up until about three minutes left in the game, Cincinnati was up 20-3 until the Ravens were able to score their first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run from Kenneth Dixon after an 8 play, 70 yard drive.

With under 5 minutes to go in the game, the Ravens were down 20-10 and faced with a 4th and 5. Baltimore went for it and Dre Kirkpatrick broke up Joe Flacco’s pass intended for Breshad Perriman. Cincinnati took over the ball at the Raven’s 25 yard line. The Bengals offense was able to put the nail in the coffin as they were able to eat up 2 minutes and 24 seconds on a touchdown-scoring drive that consisted of 8 run plays.

Against the Ravens, Kirkpatrick accounted for 3 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, as well as a pass deflection. Kirkpatrick was on the field for 93% of the defensive snaps and was targeted 10 times and gave up only 6 receptions for 47 yards.

It’s been 10 years since the New Orleans Saints have produced a 1,000-yard rusher. Who was the last one to do it? Deuce McAllister, back in 2006. After this Sunday, the answer is Mark Ingram in 2016. Although the Saints will be missing out on the playoffs, New Orleans fans can rest easy knowing that Mark Ingram is getting better with age. In his six year NFL career, former Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram had never rushed for over 1,000 yards until this season. In 2014, Ingram was selected for the Pro Bowl, however he barely missed out on 1,000 yards rushing on the season by 36 yards.

Although the Saints came up with a loss against the NFC South Champion Atlanta Falcons, Mark Ingram had a day that should put a smile on anyone’s face regardless of fanbase. Ingram finished the day with 103 rushing yards on 20 carries. He also accounted for a 1-yard touchdown run in the 4th Quarter to cap off his career high yardage breaking drive. Ingram’s longest rush of the day went for 38 yards. Ingram also played a role in the passing game for the Saints as he accounted for 29 yards on 6 receptions. Now I’m no math magician, but I drunkenly drew out a chart in crayons of Mark Ingram’s career and if my calculations are correct, Ingram will end next season with under 1,000 yards rushing and finish the 2018 season with around 1,279 yards rushing.

This Sunday, Landon Collins and the Giants took on a Washington Redskins team that absolutely had to win this game to make it to the playoffs. The final score reads 19-10 New York Giants, however the game was much closer than the score appears. The score was tied 10-10 in the 4th quarter until 2 minutes and 12 seconds was left on the clock. The Giants’ Robbie Gould hit a 40-yard field goal to put New York up 13-10. The Redskins were given one final shot at winning the game with 6 seconds left on the clock on their own 6-yard line. A botched lateral by Jordan Reed was recovered by NYG’s Trevin Wade for a touchdown to seal the game.

Collins played in all 55 defensive snaps as well as 4 special teams snaps. He also finished the day with 4 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, and a sack on Kurt Cousins.

The Giants will be playing this weekend in the NFC Wildcard matchup against the Packers. Even though the AFC Divisional Race appears to be the Patriots’ to lose, the NFC will be the one to watch. Personally, I’m picking the Falcons to win the NFC, but anything can happen with this selection of teams. Should the Giants beat the Packers and the Seahawks beat the Lions, the Giants would have to play the Cowboys in the next round. If Pro Football isn’t your thing or you forgot, the Cowboys are 13-3 this season and 2 of their losses have been to the New York Giants. Not only will Landon Collins be going to the Pro Bowl, but the former Alabama star may also be making a trip to the Super Bowl to face the Patriots. If that doesn’t make your undercarriage tingle just a little, then I don’t know what will. Let me remind you: The last two times the Giants won a Super Bowl was in 2008 and 2012. Both of those times were against the Patriots who had the best record at the time entering the playoffs. Here’s a little sabermetrics for you: 2012 was four years after 2008, 2016 is four years after 2012; the Patriots have the best record entering the playoffs. The hat trick is coming, Boston.

More Takeaways From Week 19

Did Evan Mathis Just Announce His Retirement?

Of all the active players that served in Alabama like Roll Tide, Evan Mathis has been in the NFL the longest. He started his pro career in 2005 after being drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 3rd Round. It wasn’t until 2011 and three different teams after the Panthers before the Eagles realized they signed an absolute stud. Since being a part of the Eagles, Mathis has been to two Pro Bowls, and even won a Super Bowl when he was traded to the Denver Broncos in 2015. Earlier this week, Mathis tweeted out a tweet insinuating his eminent retirement.

That’ll do, Pig. There’s not much more a 12-year vet in the NFL could ask for after going to the Pro Bowl multiple times and winning a Super Bowl. Of the 43 active Alabama alumni in the NFL, Evan Mathis is one of only five that has never won a college National Championship. If this truly is Mathis’ retirement announcement, Roman Harper (2006) would take over as the oldest former Alabama player on an NFL roster. This season has been riddled with injuries for Evan Mathis and retirement is definitely the best decision for this veteran. So enjoy your retirement, you deserve it. Roll Tide, Evan Mathis.

Amari Cooper’s Gonna Need a QB That Can Win Playoffs

Amari Cooper great catch and reaches for the TD

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper makes a nice catch down the sidelines from QB Connor Cook and reaches out tipping the pylon for the 32-yard score.

Posted by Every NFL Touchdown on Sunday, January 1, 2017

Overall, Amari Cooper didn’t have a stand out day. Although this may have been due to Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr having to miss the remainder of the season with a broken fibula. This is merely speculation though. Before his 32 yard touchdown in the 3rd Quarter, Cooper only had 2 receptions for 5 yards. Despite only putting up 39 yards against the Broncos, Amari Cooper was a huge part of this game and could have been an even bigger part had Derek Carr never been injured. Quarterback Matt McGloin overthrew a wide open Amari Cooper on what would have been another touchdown and this time for 64-yards. Fortunately if you’re a Raiders fan, your playoff hopes will lie on rookie quarterback Connor Cook. As we all know, Cook was made for high pressure situations such as the playoffs... Congrats on your Super Bowl appearance, New England.

Complete List of Former Alabama Players in the NFL

Evan Mathis Arizona Cardinals Guard Ankle injury against 49ers (Week 5) 69 IR 2005
Ed Stinson Arizona Cardinals Defensive Tackle DNP 91 3rd String 2014
Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons Wide Receiver 7 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD, 84.8 Offensive Grade on PFF, 49 (79%) Off. Snaps, 3 (9%) ST Snaps 11 Yes 2011
Courtney Upshaw Atlanta Falcons Linebacker 1 tackle, 1 assisted tackle, 17 (22%) Def. Snaps, 5 (15%) ST Snaps, 2 penalties (Unsportsmanlike Conduct 1Q, Unnecessary Roughness 4Q) 91 2nd String 2012
C.J. Mosley Baltimore Ravens Linebacker 2 tackles, 10 assisted tackles, 61 (90%) Def. Snaps, 4 (16%) ST Snaps 57 Yes 2014
Marcell Dareus Buffalo Bills Defensive Tackle 2 tackles. 2 assisted tackles, 0 QB pressures on 19 pass rushes, 45 (73%) Def. Snaps, 6 (21%) ST Snaps 99 Yes 2011
Cyrus Kouandjio Buffalo Bills Offensive Tackle 69.8 Offensive Grade, 33.2 Run Blocking Grade on PFF, 63 (100%) Off. Snaps, 2 (7%) ST Snaps 71 This Week 2014
Reggie Ragland Buffalo Bills Linebacker ACL tear in preseason 59 IR 2016
Wallace Gilberry Cincinnati Bengals Defensive End 1 sack, 1 tackle, 1 assisted tackle, 38 (52%) Def. Snaps 95 Yes 2008
Dre Kirkpatrick Cincinnati Bengals Cornerback 3 tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 6 receptions allowed on 10 targets, 1 pass deflection, 84.2 Defensive Grade on PFF, 68 (93%) Def. Snaps 27 Yes 2012
AJ McCarron Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback DNP 5 2nd String 2014
Rolando McClain Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Suspended indefinitely by the NFL on 12/2 55 Suspended 2010
A'Shawn Robinson Detroit Lions Defensive Tackle 3 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 40 (53%) Def. Snaps, 3 (11%) ST Snaps 91 2nd String 2016
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Green Bay Packers Safety 6 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 66 (100%) Def. Snaps, 8 (29%) ST Snaps 21 Yes 2014
Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers Running Back Placed on IR October 20 (Ankle) 27 IR 2013
Kareem Jackson Houston Texans Cornerback 79.8 Defensive Grade on PFF, 1 tackle, 1 assisted tackle, allowed only 1 reception for 2 yards, 32 (52%) Def. Snaps 25 Yes 2010
Ryan Kelly Indianapolis Colts Center 71 (100%) Off. Snaps, 1 tackle after a fumble 78 Yes 2016
Carson Tinker Jacksonville Jaguars Long Snapper 10 (33%) ST Snaps 46 Yes 2013
T.J. Yeldon Jacksonville Jaguars Running Back Placed on IR December 26 (ankle) 24 IR 2015
Mark Barron Los Angeles Rams Linebacker/Safety 4 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 pass defended, 70 (100%) Def. Snaps, 3 (9%) ST Snaps 26 Yes 2012
Kenyan Drake Miami Dolphins Running Back 4 rushes, 10 yards, 1 kick return, 21 yards, 12 (20%) Off. Snaps, 13 (50%) ST Snaps 32 3rd String 2016
Anthony Steen Miami Dolphins Guard 2 (8%) ST Snaps 65 2nd String 2014
Andre Smith Minnesota Vikings Offensive Tackle Torn triceps (Week 4 vs Giants) ; Free agent in 2017 71 IR 2009
Austin Shepherd Minnesota Vikings Guard DNP - Signed to the roster from the practice squad on January 2nd 74 SIGNED 2015
Dont'a Hightower New England Patriots Linebacker 1 tackle, 41 (69%) Def. Snaps, 3 (12%) ST Snaps 54 Yes 2012
Cyrus Jones New England Patriots Cornerback DNP (knee injury) 24 2nd String 2016
Deandrew White New England Patriots Wide Receiver DNP 17 Practice Squad 2015
Roman Harper New Orleans Saints Safety 3 tackles, 40 (65%) Def. Snaps, 3 (9%) ST Snaps, 1 penalty in 1Q (Pass Interference - 46 yds) 41 This Week 2006
Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints Running Back 20 rushes, 103 yards, 1 TD, 6 receptions, 29 yards, 45 (58%) Off. Snaps 22 Yes 2011
D.J. Pettway New Orleans Saints Defensive Lineman DNP Reserve 2016
Landon Collins New York Giants Safety 1 sack, 4 tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 55 (100%) Def. Snaps, 4 (14%) ST Snaps, 1 Unsportsman Like Conduct Penalty (4Q) 21 Yes 2015
Kevin Norwood New York Giants Wide Receiver DNP 81 Practice Squad 2014
James Carpenter New York Jets Guard 81.7 Offensive Grade on PFF, perfect in pass protection, 61 (98%) Off. Snaps, 6 (21%) ST Snaps 77 Yes 2011
Amari Cooper Oakland Raiders Wide Receiver 4 receptions, 39 yards, 1 TD, 42 (78%) Off. Snaps, 89 Yes 2015
D.J. Fluker San Diego Chargers Guard 80.6 Offensive Grade on PFF, 66 (100%) Off. Snaps, 5 (18%) ST Snaps 76 Yes 2013
Damion Square San Diego Chargers Defensive Tackle 2 assisted tackles, 43 (70%) Def. Snaps, 1 penalty (Encroachment in 4Q) 71 This Week 2013
Quinton Dial San Francisco 49ers Defensive Tackle 11 (17%) Def. Snaps 92 Yes 2013
Vinnie Sunseri San Francisco 49ers Safety 2 (3%) Def. Snaps, 23 (72%) ST Snaps 40 3rd String 2014
Jarran Reed Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle 2 tackles, 38 (62%) Def. Snaps, 3 (9%) ST Snaps, Ejected in the 4th Quarter for throwing a punch 90 Yes 2016
Blake Sims Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Back Signed to the roster from the practice squad on January 2nd 25 SIGNED 2015
Jalston Fowler Tennessee Titans Fullback 16 (26%) Off. Snaps 45 Yes 2015
Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans Running Back 15 carries, 65 yards, 1 TD, 1 reception, 3 yards, 2 missed tackles forced, 28 (46%) Off. Snaps 22 2nd String 2016
Rashad Johnson Tennessee Titans Safety 2 tackles, 31 (42%) Def. Snaps, 1 (4%) ST Snaps 25 2nd String 2009
Chance Warmack Tennessee Titans Guard Placed on IR Sept. 21 (hand) out at least 8 weeks 70 IR 2013
Arie Kouandjio Washington Redskins Guard DNP 74 2nd String 2015