A quarter of the way into the season, things are starting to take shape in the NFL.
Deshaun is Detruth
Bill O’Brien and the Texans have finally found a quarterback around which to build in Houston. Credit to O’Brien for quickly realizing what he has in Deshaun Watson and rolling with the first-round rookie. Watson accounted for 5 total touchdowns in Houston’s 57-14 thrashing of division opponent Tennessee in Week 4.
Not your slightly older brother’s Rams
Los Angeles Rams’ rookie head coach Sean McVay has made a ton of difference for the Rams’ offense in a short span. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley — asking with a plethora of young receivers — appear to be on the come-up…kinda like the Cowboys team they defeated Sunday. Exciting times for an organization that could use some hope.
Dollar, Dollar Bills Y’all
The Buffalo Bills went into Atlanta and dropped an impressive L on the Falcons. The Bills defense was fast and aggressive, while the offense made critical plays when needed. Not many would have thought that the Bills would be 3-1 and in first place in the AFC East at the season’s quarter mark.
It appears as if Cam Newton has regained his sauce, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Newton and the Panthers went in and slayed the proverbial dragon in Foxboro Sunday. Graham Gano’s game-winning field goal sealed what Carolina definitely considered a statement victory over the defending champion Patriots. This could be a huge building block for a team trying to reestablish itself as one of the league’s elite.
Expectations are rising un three Big Apple for Gang Green. The Jets were considered by many to be of the worst teams in NFL history coming into the season. However, they have found an identity as a team that plays hard-nosed defense and pounds the ball on offense. That formula will keep them in lots of games and actually pick up wins over equally challenged rosters. Kudos to Todd Bowles and his staff.
Steeltown Role Reversal
All the talk around the Steelers, coming into the season, centered around its high-powered offense. But, through the season’s first four weeks, it has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense that has sweet the tone to a 3-1 start. As it showed in dominating the Baltimore Ravens’ Sunday, this young group can hold it down while the offense gets it together.
Joe Mixon (Cincinnati), Alvin Kamara (New Orleans), Chris Carson (Seattle) Elijah McGuire (Jets) are asserting themselves as go-to rushers in their respective backfields. Each of them are building, weekly, on impressive showings and may soon be staples in the league. A potentially severe ankle injury to Carson will put a hold on his ascendance, however.
One Giant Thud
The Giants were an assumed playoff team — and picked by some — to win the NFC East… myself included. But, four weeks in, What we see is a team that is limited offensively and underachieves on defense. I don’t think its unfair to say that this team is closer to resembling a top-5 draft pick holder than a playoff contender.
Not Brady Proof
The New England Patriots are 2-4 and lucky to not be 1-3 at this point. While Tom Brady is as good as ever at 40-years-old, not he can cover up for the dumpster-juice container which is the New England defense. There are no playmakers on that side of the ball and they lack talent up front. Add to that, the continuous mental breakdowns in the secondary, and you have a unit that will hold this team back from even sniffing another title.
Hope These Dolphins Can Swim
When Ryan Tannehill went down with a season-ending knee injury, all appeared lost in Miami. Then, the Dolphins went out and signed semi-retired signal-caller Jay Cutler and all appeared well again…except to people who have seen Jay Cutler play! For the life of me, I can’t fathom how anyone thought the last-minute signing of a quarterback well-known for his lack of attention to detail / preparation would save the sinking ship in Miami. The offense is rudderless and going down fast with Cutler at the helm.
All Charged Down
The Los Angeles Chargers are off to an 0-4 start, and they keep finding ways to lose. Missed field goals to end games, blow assignments on defense and most discouraging is the lack of consistency from an offense brimming with playmakers. On top of that, no one is showing up to watch the Chargers play..well at least no one actually rooting for them. Even Chargers’ opponents have taken notice that playing at StubHub Center feels like a Charger road game.
In short…where’s the “D”? Until the Cowboys show they have any teeth on the defensive side of the ball, they shall be referenced without their first initial. Granted, the aforementioned Rams are much-improved on offense, but _allas’ lack of cohesiveness and talent played a big part into that as well. In 2016, they were able to play with early big leads, rendering opposing offenses one-dimensional. This year, they are playing much tighter games and have not been up to the task.
I got Blake friends showing Blake love…
It seems like every time Blake Bortles has a promising game, a week later he reveals himself as a fake. Last week in London, Bortles dismantled the Ravens, playing the best game of his career. This Sunday against the Jets, Bortles was as bad as he’s ever been. The maddening inconsistency will likely continue and lead to his ticket out of Jacksonville.
Mo’ Injuries, Mo’ Problems
Critical injuries happen every week, but it still does nothing to eradicate the agony. During Week 4, the most critical of those appears to be Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook being lost for the season with a torn ACL. Feel bad for him and his team. Other injuries that could be deflating…Atlanta wide receivers Juio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Jones seems to be on track to play after the Week 5 bye (but hip flexor injuries tend to linger). On the other hand, Sanu is said to be out for 2-3 weeks. Bills wide out Jordan Matthews will miss a month after injuring his thumb against Atlanta. Aforementioned Seattle RB Chris Carson suffered a broken ankle, while his teammate, offensive lineman Rees Odhimabo suffered a cardiac contusion (whatever the hell that is…but ouch!). Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden suffered a serious knee injury and will miss some time. Colts’ center Deyshawn Bond tore the quad muscle that connects to the kneecap and will need surgery…he’s done for the year.