A look back at NFL Week 6

It wasn’t so long ago that Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Cam Newton were supposed to be the future of the NFL.

Winston and Mariota were the first two picks in the 2015 draft and Newton was the first pick in the 2011 draft.

It now looks as if they will never be the quarterbacks they were expected to be, although Newton may be the victim of the injuries he suffered from running too much.

Mariota was yanked in a shutout loss to Denver in the third quarter after throwing for just 63 yards with two picks and a 9.5 quarterback rating. Ryan Tannehill replaced him and will keep the job.

Winston threw five picks and lost a fumble in a loss to Carolina but finished the game and seems to be intent on ruining Bruce Arians’ reputation as a quarterback whisperer. He will keep his job but his long-term future remains in limbo.

Newton is sidelined with injuries and Kyle Allen is 4-0 as his replacement. Newton was 0-8 in his last eight starts. Does he get the job back even if he is healthy at some point? There’s no guarantee he will be healthy this year or that he will get the job back if he is healthy and Allen keeps playing well.

Like Mariota, he could be looking for a new home next year.

Positives

—San Francisco’s defense is for real. The 49ers remained the only unbeaten NFC team as their defense didn’t allow the Rams to convert a third or fourth down. The last time they did that was in 1988 in Bill Walsh’s last year.–Sam Darnold showed what he means to the Jets when he came back from mono to lead the Jets to the victory over Dallas. The Browns passed up Darnold for Baker Mayfield. They may regret that decision.

—The Denver defense is back. After not getting a turnover in their first four games, they have seven sacks, five picks and a fumble recovery in their last two. That included the win over the Titans when Mariota was benched.

—Lamar Jackson of the Ravens had 388 yards from scrimmage in the victory over hapless Cincinnati, including 152 yards rushing. But is it hazardous to his health to keep running that much? See Newton, Cam.

—Much-maligned Kurt Cousins has finally found his touch. Things were so bad that former teammate Zach Brown, now with the Eagles, said he was the weakest part of the Vikings offense. Sunday after Cousins torched the Eagles for his second big game in a row, Brown said he wasn’t talking about Cousins, who has completed 44 of 56 for 639 yards, six touchdowns and one pick while beating the Giants and Eagles. At 4-2, the Vikings are back in the playoff hunt. The Eagles cut Brown Monday after Cousins passed for 333 yards against them.

Negatives

—The Rams were 24-8 in the regular season their first two years under Sean McVay andh went to the Super Bowl last year. They then started out 3-0 before losing three in a row, including a 20-7 loss to the 49ers. Jared Goff seems lost and McVay has to figure out how to get the team back on track.

—Dallas also lost its third in a row after starting out 3-0 when they were beaten by the Jets. But the Cowboys are playing in the NFC East and tied for first with the Eagles, who also are 3-3. A .500 record could win this division.

—Kansas City started out 4-0 and has now lost two consecutive home games in the wake of the loss to the Texans. It is the first time Andy Reid has lost two straight home games since Reid’s first year with the Chiefs. The problem is that the Kansas City defense can’t keep opposing teams off the field. The teams that play the Chiefs that the best way to stop Patrick Mahomes is to keep him off the field.

—The Chargers were supposed to be a contender but fell to 2-4 with a 24-17 loss to the Steelers, who started third string quarterback Devlin Hodges. The Steelers took a 24-0 lead and held on to the win. The Chargers again showed they aren’t winning the hearts and minds of Los Angeles fans as their small stadium was filled with Steeler fans.

—The NFL has apparently decided the new pass interference rule was a mistake, which is was, so they have stopped overturning pass interference calls and non-calls on replay. Only one of 25 challenges have been won. The one-year rule will likely be thrown out at the end of the season, but it is a bad look for the rule to be ignored. Coaches should learn not to challenge pass interference calls because they won’t be overturned.

Another problem is that the number of penalties being called is up this year and there are too manycalls like the ones in the Monday night Green Bay-Detroit game. It is difficult to officiate today’s fast-paced game but the league needs to put more emphasis on improving officiating.

Previewing NFL Week 6

After five weeks, it looks as if there are 24 teams fighting for 12 playoff spots. The four winless teams and the four one-win teams have only a remote shot. But the seven two wins teams can’t be ruled out. Last year, five of the 12 playoff teams had losing records after five games.Game of the Week: San Francisco at the Los Angeles Rams.The Rams seem to be suffering a typical Super Bowl loss hangover with a 3-2 record after five games and they can’t afford to lose to the surprising unbeaten 49ers. If they fall to 3-3, they would have to climb out of a big hole to win the division because San Francisco would be 5-0 and 4-1 Seattle is likely to go to 5-1 at Cleveland. The problem for the Rams is that the line can’t protect Jared Goff after losing two starters in free agency. And a new problem is that Todd Gurley is suffering from a quad injury. A loss in this game and the Rams have to start thinking about getting a wild card spot.Game of the weak: Washington at Miami. Both teams are winless and the loser has the inside track on the first pick in the draft. Washington is favored as the Redskins have a new interim coach while Miami is rebuilding and/or tanking. Josh Rosen, who has been named the Dolphins starting quarterback, will be trying to convince the Dolphins he can be the team’s quarterback of the future but he doesn’t much of a supporting cast around him so he will have to carry the team.What to watch for:–Matthew Stafford tends to be underrated because he has mostly played for losing teams in Detroit. But he’s put up impressive numbers in his career. If he passes for 352 yards against the Packers Monday night, he will become the first player in history to pass for 40,000 yards in fewer than 150 games. He has 39,648 in 145 games. Matt Ryan did it in 151 and is the current leader. So if Stafford doesn’t become the fastest this week, he will do it next week.–Jimmy Garoppolo struggled in the preseason, proving once again you can’t put too much stock in the preseason. He has led the 49ers to a 4-0 record and is 12-2 as a starter going into Sunday’s game against the Rams. He has seven touchdowns and a 99.4 passer rating. A victory will enable him to become the eighth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win at least 13 games in his first 15 starts.–Only two players in NFL history have had at least a thousand scrimmage yards in the first six games of the season – Jim Brown and Marshall Faulk. Christian McCaffery can become third Sunday in London for the Panthers against the Bucs. He has 866 in five games.–Russell Wilson leads the NFL with a 126.3 passer rating and has had a passer rating of more than 100 in the first five games of the season. Against Cleveland, he can become just the fourth player to do it for the first six games. The other three are Aaron Rodgers (12), Tom Brady (8) and Carson Palmer (6).–Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, the 10th and 12th picks in the 2017 draft, will meet for the first time Sunday in Kansas City. It won’t be the last time. Every time they both win their divisions in future years, they will meet the following year and it will be no surprising if there are playoff meetings in their futures. It will be no surprise if Watson gets the nod in this one. Kansas City doesn’t have the defense to stop him while Mahomes suffered an ankle injury in his first loss last week.

Looking back at NFL Week 5

It looks like the 1972 Dolphins can put the champagne on ice now that the Kansas City Chiefs have suffered their first loss and there are only two unbeaten teams left – New England and San Francisco.

Both have benefited from easy schedules so far so we don’t know how good they are. The odds, though, are that the 1972 Dolphins will continue to be the NFL’s only perfect team. Not the best team, but the perfect team.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the league, there are four winless teams and four one-win teams. So much for parity. And two winless teams, Miami and Washington, which just fired its coach, will meet in Miami on Sunday with the winner having the inside track on the first pick in the draft.

Washington is trying to win but doesn’t know how. Miami is rebuilding or tanking depending on what phrase you like. Miami still has two games left against the winless Jets and one against winless Cincinnati.

Positives

–The Indianapolis Colts exposed the fact that the Chiefs don’t have a good run defense. Firing Bob Sutton didn’t solve that problem. The Colts ran 45 times for 180 yards against the Chiefs just as the Patriots ran 48 times for 176 yards in beating them in the playoffs last year, although the Chiefs would have won if Dee Ford hadn’t jumped offsides to negate a Tom Brady interception. Most teams can’t run that much against the Chiefs because they score so easily and teams have to pass to catch up, but the Colts defense also grounded the the Chiefs’ high-flying offense. The Colts snapped their string of 25 games scoring 25 or more points. The Colts are 3-2 and a contender despite losing Andrew Luck.

–Quarterbacks have won 11 of the last 12 MVP awards, but Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey belongs in the conversation after he shredded the Jaguars defense. He has 866 yards from scrimmage in his first five games, second only to Jim Brown’s 988 in his first five games. Always a good thing to be in the conversation with Jim Brown.

–The Denver Broncos were winless in their first four games with no turnovers. They got three against the Chargers in posting their first victory. Turnovers matter.

–Deshaun Watson showed what he can do when the Texans protect him. He had 426 passing yards, five touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating. Only the third quarterback to have a perfect rating and pass for more than 400 yards and five touchdowns in Super Bowl era.  And the 53-32 score of their victory over Atlanta was the first game ever to end in that score.

–Packers running back Aaron Jones became the fourth player since 1950 to post 100 rushing yards, 75 passing yards and four touchdowns in a game in the win over Dallas. The first three were Gale Sayers, Dub Jones of the Paul Brown Cleveland Browns and Shaun Alexander.

Negatives

–It looks like Falcon coach Dan Quinn won’t get back to a Super Bowl to get a chance to win one after 28-3. With the team falling to 1-4 after the Texans loss, he probably won’t be back next year, much less get to a Super Bowl.

–Dallas started out 3-0 against teams with a 2-12 record but have now lost to the Saints and Packers to fall to 3-2. This puts more pressure on coach Jason Garrett because his contract runs out at the end of the year although owner Jerry Jones isn’t likely to make a change during the season. He has done that only once in 2010 when he fired Wade Phillips and promoted Garrett to the head job.

–Cleveland may turn out to be the most overhyped team of the year as they fell to 2-3 when they were routed by the 49ers in prime time. They got more prime time exposure than they deserved. Baker Mayfield said they aren’t pushing the panic button. With Seattle, a bye and New England coming up maybe they should.

–Cairo Santos was fired by the Titans after failing to make four field goal attempts in a seven-point loss to Buffalo. He missed from 50 and 36 yards in the second quarter and had a 33-yard attempt blocked in the fourth and missed from 53. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein missed a 44-yard yard attempt at the end that cost the Rams a loss to Seattle but kept his job since he won the NFC title game last January with a 57-yard kick.

More of the dreary same from the hapless Dan Snyder

Dan Snyder is back shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

He fired his coach Monday morning after calling him into a 5 a.m. meeting. Nothing new about that. Jay Gruden was his eighth coach in his 20-year reign of error, he has fired seven of them.

Gruden was the longest tenured coach in the Snyder era, entering his sixth season after getting a two-year extension, so he will walk out the door with a lot of money.

But his reputation is in tatters after he was a highly touted offensive mind during his three-year tenure as the Bengals offensive coordinator. It is never good for a coach’s reputation to work for Snyder.

Bill Callahan was named interim coach but Snyder will look for a new coach in the offseason. But what difference does it make? Snyder will still own the team and Bruce Allen will continue to be his right-hand man.

Allen is another example of NFL nepotism at its worst. His only qualification is that he is glib and is the son of Hall of Fame coach George Allen.

His brother rode his name to the U.S. Senate in Virginia, but then the voters voted him out. The Redskins fans get no vote.

The solution for Snyder would be to fire Allen and hire a good personnel man and let him do his thing. Snyder’s not going to do that. He is a Jerry Jones wannabe who loves to meddle. Look up owner meddling in the dictionary and Snyder is the definition.

Snyder, though, didn’t attend the press conference Monday when the firing was officially announced. He sent out Allen to answer the awkward questions.

When asked about Snyder’s absence and when he will talk to the media, he said Snyder meets with the media from time to time but didn’t say when that next time will be.

He was also asked the obvious questions about his accountability and whether Gruden wanted rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. He ducked the questions saying nobody is hiding from the record. And that Gruden was excited about the selection of Haskins.

Meanwhile, nobody knows whether Gruden would have been a successful coach working for a good organization. He made the playoffs once and had them in the running for a playoff spot last year at 6-3 when Alex Smith suffered a devastating injury. They are 1-11 since then.

They took Haskins on the first round to be their quarterback of the future but the word is Gruden didn’t want him. Haskins was probably a Snyder pick.

Doug Williams runs the personnel for the Redskins but nobody knows who makes the actual picks. It is obvious they don’t pick anyone Snyder doesn’t approve of.

Meanwhile, Snyder has turned off what was once one of the best fanbases in the NFL. There are either thousands of empty seats or they are filled by fans of the opposing team. The game against New England last Sunday seemed like a Patriots home game.

The unfortunate thing for the NFL is that a bad team in Washington is bad for the NFL. They are supposed to be one of the flagship franchises.

So they will hire a new coach next year and nothing will change. The first day he is on the job, he will be one day closer to getting fired.

Snyder’s timing was good in one respect. He did it the week before they play winless Miami, which seems to be tanking the season. The Redskins will likely get a win and Snyder will convince himself they aren’t as bad as they looked in the five losses under Gruden.

Snyder is just fooling himself. He is the problem but he is not going to fire himself, so the Redskins will continue to be a once great franchise that lost its way under Snyder.

Firing the coach is just more of the same.

Been there. Done that.

Previewing NFL Week 5

The NFL starts its second quarter this weekend with two of the league’s three unbeaten teams in prime time. The 4-0 Chiefs attempt to go to 5-0 against the Colts Sunday night while the 3-0 49ers are coming off a bye to face the Browns Monday night. The other unbeaten team, New England, is virtually guaranteed a 5-0 start when they go to Washington to meet the 0-4 Redskins.

Game of the Week

The Packers go to Dallas to meet the Cowboys in the latest game of a long-standing rivalry. The most famous game they played was the Ice Bowl. It’s also an important game since they are both 3-1 after both suffered their first losses last week.

Game of the Weak

The 0-4 Bengals face the 0-3-1 Cardinals in a game between two teams that aren’t going to the playoffs. Both have rookie coaches who have yet to post their first victory so barring a tie, one of them will get it.

Five Things to Watch

–Patrick Mahomes and Matt Ryan have passed for over 300 yards in their first four games this year. If they both do it Sunday, they will tie Peyton Manning for second place with five. Manning did it five times twice. He’s also tied for the record with Kurt Warner with six. The difference is that Mahomes has the Chiefs at 4-0 and Ryan’s Falcons are 1-3.

–Washington, going against New England, figures to fall to 0-5 and set up a battle next week with 0-4 Miami, which has a bye this week, with the loser figuring to have the inside track on the first pick in the draft. The difference is Washington is trying to win and doesn’t know how while Miami is content to get the first pick. Denver and Cincinnati also are 0-4 but seem to be playing better than the Redskins and Dolphins. The Jets are 0-3. Arizona is 0-3-1.

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