Five quick takes on Week 5 in the NFL:
1. The NFL gets credit for scheduling the New Orleans Saints on Monday night in the fifth weekend of the season. The odds were that it would be the week Drew Brees broke the passing yards record and he did, making it a primetime celebration. It also made an otherwise rout of the hapless Washington Redskins worth watching. He even got the record with a 62-yard touchdown pass instead of a five-yard dumpoff. That was a nice touch. Brees isn’t just putting up numbers, though. He has the Saints at 4-1, and they have to be considered a Super Bowl contender. Still, his career must be kept in context. Brees played in a passing era and is not another Johnny Unitas or Otto Graham. He’s arguably not even on the list of the 10 best passers in NFL history.
2. Four rookies quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and the two Joshes, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen) all posted victories, the first time that four rookie QBs have gone 4-0. But it is still too early to judge how good they will be. As Tom Brady recently pointed out, the NFL has taken some of the physical play out of the game. He said it’s turned it into glorified college football, and that makes it easier for college quarterbacks to make the transition.
3. Veteran kicker Mason Crosby missed five kicks in Green Bay’s 31-23 loss to Detroit. If Crosby were a young player, a game like that could have cost him his job. Instead, Mike McCarthy said he believes in him, but the pressure is now on Crosby to avoid another meltdown.
4. The Redskins were blown out on Monday night by New Orleans and yet, believe it or not, they are in first place in the hangover, while the Dallas Cowboys are 2-3 and the New York Giants are 1-4 but within a game-and-a-half of first. It’s not good for the NFL to have the NFC East as one of its worst divisions, because they are all big-market teams. For the Philadelphia Eagles, though, it means they have time to get on track and win the division. But I don’t think it’s premature to say they won’t repeat as Super Bowl champions with the Los Angeles Rams and Saints both looking so good.
5. Deshaun Watson can be a great quarterback, but he’s got to stop thinking he’s Earl Campbell. He took a beating while leading Houston to its overtime victory over the Cowboys and came out of it with a chest injury. Even coach Bill O’Brien said it’s not a sustainable way to play. Watson said he’s built to take those hits, but he isn’t. O’Brien has to convince him to protect himself and not to try to barrel over defenders.