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Penn alumnus and Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justin Watson only made one catch for five yards against the New York Jets on Oct. 1 (Photo by Mike Carlson/Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

Justin Watson, Greg Van Roten and Kevin Stefanski faced some of the biggest challenges of the year so far as hardships hit Penn alumni across the league. 

Greg Van Roten — Guard, Las Vegas Raiders

Going into week four with their backs against the wall, a fourth-round rookie quarterback under the helm, and plenty of disgruntled star players — the week went just as well as you’d expect for Van Roten and the Las Vegas Raiders. Falling 24-17 in a tight contest, the Raiders pass protection sank the team all game, allowing six sacks to Chargers defensive end Khalil Mack alone. Mack set a Chargers franchise record for sacks in a game, and became just the fifth player ever to record six sacks in a game since the metric was first recorded in 1982.

Van Roten specifically had an uncharacteristically below average performance in the run game. Star running back Josh Jacobs once again averaged few yards per carry, and Van Roten himself fell out of the top five ranked interior offensive linemen in the league in rush blocking win rate. If his run blocking continues to drop, it spells bad for the Raiders chance of reaching a .500 record. The team's next game is against the Green Bay Packers, who have had the worst run defense in the league for nearly three years, so Van Roten could be primed for a bounce back performance in the interior. 

Justin Watson — Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs

Watson reached a haltering stop after a flaming hot start to his season. The wide reciever played little into the Chiefs' win versus the New York Jets this past weekend. Only making one catch for five yards, Watson was out shined by Kadarious Toney, rookie Rashee Rice, — both of who have finally warmed up themselves after slow starts — and another appearance by Taylor Swift in the stands. It’s fair to say his lackluster performance was due to the elite Jets defense, and the struggles of his quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who appeared to be outplayed by Zach Wilson on the Jets. Still Mahomes’ best deep threat, look for Watson to bounce back versus a porous Vikings defense next week.

Kevin Stefanski — Head Coach, Cleveland Browns

Continuing the theme of an up-and-down season, the Stefanski-coached Cleveland Browns hit a new low this week — losing to their divisional rival Baltimore Ravens 28-3. The Browns were without franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson due to a shoulder injury, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a fifth round rookie, had to step in. While impressive in the preseason, Thompson-Robinson couldn’t translate against NFL starters as he threw three interceptions in an abysmal performance. The offense could only muster up a poultry three points against a heavily injured Ravens defense. 

On top of this, the Browns defense let Lamar Jackson tear up the field with little resistance. Browns corners got burnt multiple times, and the defensive line was less dominant than normal.  It’s hard to blame Stefanski for the recent struggles, but the inconsistencies are mounting. The news gets worse for the Browns as they face arguably the league's best defense next week in San Francisco. The Browns struggled scoring against a much weaker Ravens defense, it’s almost impossible to imagine them having a chance against Kyle Shanahan and crew without Deshaun Watson under center.