NFL Week 5 Reactions: Bills Blast Chiefs, Campbell Cries, Gruden’s Gone, Lamar Leads Comeback, Cardinals Stay Unbeaten

I’m going to preface this post by saying I was out of town for the weekend so I didn’t have my usual multi-TV Red Zone setup where I could keep tabs on every game. I was only able to watch a few games this weekend, so the games I was able to watch, I’ll go into in-depth, but the games I wasn’t able to catch, I’ll just briefly touch on.

TNF – Rams 26, Seahawks 17:

The big story to come out of this game was Russell Wilson’s finger injury. In fact I almost forgot who actually won the game. But it was, in fact, the Rams who came away with the win to improve to 4-1 while Seattle falls to 2-3. As we know, Seattle lost more than a game, with Russell Wilson being sidelined for probably 4-6 weeks.

I was watching this game with a friend of mine and as soon as they showed Russell Wilson’s busted finger after the play, my friend immediately said it was Mallet Finger, because my friend had the same thing a few years back. It’s not just a normal broken finger; it’s where the tendon that connects all your phalanges (the little individual bones in your finger that bend) snaps or disconnects, and it causes the tip of your finger to just dangle there useless:

When my buddy had Mallet Finger, it lasted for at least two months. And he said you have to wear a splint on it at all times, even in the shower, or it won’t heal. He said Russ would be out about 2 months. Now, Russ elected to have surgery to repair his finger, which my buddy didn’t do, and I guess they’re expecting Russ back in 4-6 weeks, but the point here is this is a serious injury, and when it’s on a QB’s throwing hand, forget it. He can’t throw the ball. That’s why Russ couldn’t finish the game. Mallet Finger is no joke. Russ will make a full recovery in due time, but he will miss at least 4 games.

This is a devastating blow to the Seahawks, who were already struggling as it is. It might be a season-killer for them, honestly. They’ll probably have at least 5-6 losses by the time Russ comes back. I know Geno Smith looked pretty good in backup duty, but it’s a lot different when the opposing team has a week to prepare for you. I don’t know if Geno will have as much success throwing the ball when he becomes the full-time starter.

It just sucks for Wilson because he had basically become the NFL’s Iron Man since Eli Manning retired: Russ has never missed a game in his 9-year career. Not a one. Apparently he’s never even missed a practice either. This feels like a mortal blow to the Seahawks’ season, especially playing in that division with the Rams, Cardinals and 49ers.

As for the Rams, Matthew Stafford didn’t look all that great in this game, but he was still able to secure the win. However, Stafford was dealing with a finger injury himself, albeit not as bad as Wilson’s. So there’s a decent excuse as to why Stafford wasn’t throwing the ball well. Stafford should be just fine going forward. And now the Rams get the Giants, Lions and Texans for their next three games.

London Game – Falcons 27, Jets 20:

Partly due to the fact that it was in London and kicked off early in the morning, partly due to the fact that it was the Falcons and the Jets, I just didn’t catch much of this game. The Falcons aren’t a good team, but they are good enough to beat the Jets. The Jets were clearly not in their element for this game, as they fell behind 20-3 by halftime. It was Zach Wilson’s first game in London so I’ll cut him some slack.

But honestly, these are just two bad teams and I don’t really want to spend a lot of time on this. I will say Kyle Pitts is already a beast, going for 9 catches, 119 yards and tuddy. And Cordarrelle Patterson keeps producing as the Falcons’ do-everything X-factor weapon.

Packers 25, Bengals 22 (OT):

Joey Franchise played most of the game with a throat contusion, which sounds painful, and almost led his team to a victory. However, the Bengals wouldn’t have been in that game had Mason Crosby not missed 3 field goals. Mason Crosby attempted 7 field goals in that game. Seven. He missed three of them, including one at the end of regulation, plus he also missed an extra point. But he redeemed himself by booting in a 49-yarder to win it in overtime with just 1:55 remaining, avoiding the dreaded tie.

Rodgers was his usual brilliant self, and really the only blemish on his statline was a questionable pick he threw early in the game. He rolled out of the pocket and tried to sling one downfield and force it to Davante Adams, but he was covered and the ball got picked. But after that, he was great. He finished 27-39 for 344 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT and a 102.9 rating. The reason the Packers didn’t score more points despite his 344 yards was because of Mason Crosby’s missed kicks, but also because the Bengals defense did a pretty good job in actually holding the Packers to field goals in the first place. The Bengals defense is really underrated.

The Bengals are much improved this year, and while a big reason is Joe Burrow becoming Joey Franchise, don’t sleep on that defense.

The Bengals, in my opinion, handled the end-of-game situation somewhat poorly. With about 31 seconds remaining and the ball on the Green Bay 42, 3rd & 5, Taylor called for a run play to Perine, who picked up 3 yards and set up the 4th and 2. Cincy had 2 timeouts left at this point, but Green Bay called their last timeout to ensure the Bengals couldn’t run down the clock and then either kick a field goal or try a hail mary. So on the 4th & 2, Taylor decided on the 57-yard field goal. He’s got a rookie kicker, but a rookie kicker who has already won them 2 games at the buzzer. So I get it. But 57-yards is a whole different beast.

But my issue with Cincy isn’t just with the decision to kick a 57-yarder. It’s what they did on 3rd down that I didn’t like.

I thought they should’ve tried to throw for it. But Taylor was scared of stopping the clock with an incompletion, and then at that point Green Bay would have had a timeout of their own just needing a field goal. Taylor probably figured even if he punted, it still might be enough time for Rodgers to get into field goal range. After all, any time left on the clock is too much time to leave Rodgers. And an incomplete pass on 3rd down would’ve meant either punt or try a 60 yard field goal, which is probably too much to ask of your rookie kicker. So that’s why he called the run play: to get a little closer for the field goal.

But still: that’s coaching scared. You don’t beat Rodgers coaching scared. I thought Taylor should’ve trusted Joe Burrow to get 5 yards on third down with his arm. Cincy has three very good receivers. Trust them to make the plays to win the game. Had Cincy picked up that first down on 3rd & 5, they could’ve called a timeout and still had 1 remaining. At that point you could’ve picked up even more yards to make the field goal easier. I think Taylor got too conservative and settled for an unrealistic 57-yard field goal. He should have gotten aggressive and gone for the first down. He was too concerned by the idea of an incomplete pass on third down, and I just don’t think you should coach that way.

McPherson ended up missing the kick, the game went to OT after Crosby missed a 51-yarder at the buzzer, and the Packers won it obviously.

Burrow for his part had a beautiful 70 yard TD pass to JaMarr Chase at the end of the first half. It was a perfectly thrown ball, and it’s those throws that are the reason I’m so bullish on him.

However, he did have a bad INT in the third quarter. It looked a lot like the one Rodgers threw in the first quarter: rolling out to the right, throwing across the body to a covered receiver. Burrow has to just throw that one away. He’ll learn. But hey, even Aaron Rodgers made the same type of mistake. These things happen when you trust your arm as much as these guys do: sometimes they’ll make a careless throw and get picked off. But that’s the risk you take, because more often than not, these dudes can complete those crazy passes.

Burrow also had a really bad INT in overtime that should’ve been the game-breaker. It was literally the first play of OT, at the Bengals’ own 25, and Burrow, with a clean pocket, just made a really bad decision to dump it off to Tyler Boyd, who was about 5 yards past the line of scrimmage but covered. It seemed like Burrow immediately regretted the decision once he started to throw it, but couldn’t stop the ball from leaving his hands, and the ball went straight to a Packer defender who caught it and ran it back to the Bengals’ 17. Somehow Crosby missed the 40 yard field goal that would’ve won the game.

I don’t know why Burrow was in such a rush to get rid of the ball, and especially to Boyd, who was covered. He had other guys open, he just didn’t look at them. I think he might have thought he had less time to throw than he did, and just wanted to get rid of it.

On the Bengals’ next drive, the Bengals got the ball into Green Bay territory after a beautiful sideline toe-tap catch by Chase (who, in case I haven’t mentioned it enough, is extremely good at football). Cincy wound up faced with a 3rd & 2 (really it was a long 1 yard) from the Green Bay 33, ran it up the gut with Mixon, but he got stuffed just shy of the line. Taylor decided to try a 49-yarder, but McPherson doinked it, and the Packers were able to win the game on their next possession.

The Bengals had every opportunity to win this game. I would have liked to see Taylor go for it on that 4th down in OT, but he trusted his kicker with a 49-yarder, and I’m okay with that even though the kick didn’t go in. He would have gotten killed in the media for passing up a 49-yarder if he went for it on 4th down and didn’t get it. A 49-yarder is certainly no gimme, but it’s a very makeable distance. I just think when you play a team like the Packers, you have to go aggressive. You have to go for it on 4th down.

It would have been cool if the Bengals won that game, because they absolutely could’ve, but at the end of the day, this game is why the Packers are the Packers and the Bengals are the Bengals. It feels like Cincy is really close to being a team to reckon with, but they’re not quite there yet.

Vikings 19, Lions 17:

Couldn’t catch this one in full, but I saw the ending. Just a heartbreaker for the Lions. Dan Campbell was in tears after the game, and honestly, no other coach in the league could pull that off. If any other coach in the league cried publicly after a loss, he’d lose the respect of his team and everyone in the city in a heartbeat.

But not Dan Campbell. He cried because he just loves football so damn much, he loves his players so damn much, and he wants to see his guys get the win they rightfully deserve. His tears were for his players, and that’s why he gets respect for crying. Because he’s a competitor.

Dan Campbell is the only guy who can cry after losing a game and actually gain respect.

The Lions just keep losing heart-breakers, and Dan Campbell was sad for his guys. They lost to the Ravens on an improbable last-second field goal three weeks ago, and they lost this weekend to the Vikings on another improbable last-second field goal (albeit not quite as improbable as Justin Tucker’s 66-yarder off the crossbar).

The Lions were losing this game most of the way, but because it’s Dan Campbell’s team, they never stop fighting and they never stop playing hard. Down 16-9 at the 2-minute warning, the Lions had the Vikings on a 3rd & 7 on the Minnesota 21. Detroit had already burned their last timeout, and so Minnesota handed it off to Alexander Mattison with the expectation that after he was tackled, they’d be able to run the clock down to about the 1:20-1:15 mark and punt it away.

Except, the Detroit defense ripped the ball away from Mattison and picked up the fumble. The Lions had the ball with 1:51 to play on the Minnesota 20. They scored a TD to make it 16-15, and then, because he’s Dan Campbell and he wants to win, he went for 2. And his guys delivered to put the Lions up 17-16.

But there was still time left on the clock. Kirk Cousins got the ball with 33 seconds remaining and 2 timeouts, and was able to drive the Vikings down the field to set up a 54-yard field goal, which Greg Joseph hit as time expired to steal the victory away from Detroit. Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer shared an awkward shove/hug thing and that was that.

As good a win as it was for the Vikings, I couldn’t help but feel sad for the Lions. After they made all those plays at the end of the game to somehow take the lead, only to lose the game because there was just a bit too much time left on the clock. Heartbreaker.

Honestly, watching Dan Campbell shed real tears up there at the press conference, I thought to myself: “I would run through a brick wall for this man.” And I’m not even a football player. Dan Campbell is one-of-a-kind. I am pulling for the Lions because of that dude.

They may not have the roster to win a lot of games right now, but if they give Campbell some time and have patience, and trust the process, when this team gets some more talent, they are going to be dangerous. Imagine a team that plays as hard as the Lions with even average talent: they’re going to make some serious noise in the NFL.

Steelers 27, Broncos 19:

I know going into this game, most people thought the Steelers were dead in the water and that the Broncos would be able to bounce back and get the W, but in retrospect, this is exactly the type of game the 2021 Steelers would win. You have a good-not-great Broncos team dealing with a bunch of injuries to their pass-catches, and the Steelers were able to beat them and give their fans reason to keep hanging on.

The Steelers’ season so far has gone thusly: after beating the Bills in week 1, it was “Okay, the Steelers are back on track after crashing and burning after the 11-0 start last year. The Steelers are good this year.” Then, they lost 3 straight games to the Raiders, Bengals and Packers, and it was, “Okay, the Steelers suck this year. Big Ben is washed. Let’s do some mock drafts and see which QB we can get next year/photoshop Aaron Rodgers in a Steelers jersey.”

Now the Steelers win this game against Denver, and the fanbase is like, “Wait, actually maybe we don’t suck this year. Maybe if we just keep playing great defense, Big Ben has just enough in the tank to get us to the playoffs and possibly make something happen….”

This game was like when you’re at a live sporting event and your team is down late, so you leave early. But on your way out, you hear the crowd roar, so you turn back to see what happened and rush back to your seat thinking, “Wait, we might actually be able to pull this out.” This win over the Broncos was, for the Steelers, the equivalent of that crowd roar you hear as you’re walking out of the stadium to beat traffic.

The 2021 Steelers are not a bad team by any stretch. But they’re not a good team. Do not be fooled by this win. The Steelers’ ceiling this year is 9-8 or 8-9. That’s their absolute ceiling this year, and it’s only because they have Mike Tomlin, who has never had a losing season. Mike Tomlin just knows how to win games. He knows how to manufacture wins even when he doesn’t have that great a team. Mike Tomlin is why the Steelers will never have a high draft pick: he’s just too good of a coach for the Steelers to be really, truly, unambiguously bad.

Mike Tomlin and Big Ben have won Super Bowls in this league. They just know how to win. And they will beat teams that don’t know how to win, or maybe aren’t fully sure of themselves, like the Broncos. Even though Big Ben looks washed, he’s still got enough veteran savvy and experience to beat teams like the Denver Broncos.

It’s a lot like the situation in New England this year and last: the Patriots’ roster is not good, but they will win more games than they should because of Bill Belichick. He just knows how to win games and outcoach people. The Patriots had an absolutely abysmal roster last year, yet still won 7 games because they’re better-coached than pretty much any team they play.

The Steelers’ roster isn’t quite as bad as the Patriots overall, but I also don’t think the Patriots have any one position group that is quite as bad as the Steelers’ offensive line. And it’s the offensive line that is the reason the Steelers have fallen off so much this season. They will never be truly dead this season until December. They’ll be one of those teams listed as “in the hunt” later in the season when the playoff race heats up. You’ll never feel like they actually have a shot at making it, but they’ll be lurking, clinging to playoff life until the bitter end.

And then when the season does end, and they send Big Ben off into the sunset, they’ll get to work on fixing that offensive line and trying to recruit Aaron Rodgers.

But wait.

That’s also the Broncos’ plan for the next 6 months, minus the Big Ben part.

Was this Steelers-Broncos game the Aaron Rodgers Potential Next Team Bowl?

Was this game Mike Tomlin’s way of sending a message to Aaron that he should choose the Steelers over the Broncos? Obviously he wanted to win the game no matter what, but maybe there was a little extra motivation given the rumors flying around about Aaron and the Broncos. Makes you think.

Bucs 45, Dolphins 17:

This was a 24-17 game going into the 4th quarter. The final score looks like a blowout, and it was, but it wasn’t a blowout for the first three quarters.

The Dolphins are just a bad team. They’re last in the whole league in point differential now at -75, which is even worse than the Jaguars, who are -59. Miami sucks. I know they’ve been without Tua, but the real problem is that they have the 3rd-worst scoring defense in the league, having allowed 154 points this year. Their defense has regressed massively.

This was Tom Brady’s first-ever game with 400 passing yards and 5 passing TDs, as crazy as that sounds. I assumed he was putting up numbers like that all the time back in 2007 when he threw for 50 TDs, but apparently not. Somehow at 44 he’s still getting better.

Saints 33, Washington 22:

There’s the good Saints, and then there’s the bad Saints. The good Saints showed up against Washington.

Jameis Winston is coming along after 5 games under the tutelage of Sean Payton, and now boasts a 12:3 TD to INT ratio, he’s ranked 10th in the league in Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt, and he’s got the highest TD% in the NFL at 10.3% (next closest is Mahomes at 8.2%). However, he’s only completing 60% of his passes and he only has 892 passing yards (league leader is Tom Brady with 1,767). But hey, he’s taking care of the football, the Saints are winning more than they’re losing, and unless something goes horribly wrong, he won’t be anywhere near 30 interceptions this season.

I’d say the Jameis Winston era has gotten off to a pretty good start. You can tell Payton doesn’t fully trust him to really open the offense up yet, but it’s only been 5 games. Jameis still has a lot of learning to do before he’s fully comfortable in this system, which, we should keep in mind, revolved around Drew Brees for 15 straight years.

As for the Washington Football Team, I know it feels like they’ve been a disappointment and that they’ve regressed from last season, but let’s remember, they went 7-9 last year. I know they looked a lot better than a 7-9 team towards the end of the year, and they played the Bucs tough in the playoffs, but anyone who was expecting the Washington Football Team to come out and be a top-10 team in the league this season was kidding themselves. 2-3 is just about where they should be this year.

However, this isn’t to say there hasn’t been any regression. The defense is clearly worse than it was last season. Way worse, actually. They’re allowing the 6th-most yards of any defense in the league, and they have the 2nd-worst scoring defense in the league, already surrendering 155 points this year and behind only Kansas City, who has allowed 163. A lot of this has to do with the fact that their pass rush has been ineffective this season: they have just 9 sacks on the season, which is near the bottom of the league: only 5 teams have fewer than 9 sacks, and the Chiefs are dead last with 7. And Washington is currently middle-of-the-pack in QB pressure rate at 23.6% (the best is Carolina at 32.3%, the worst is Indianapolis at 14.1%).

The WFT defense needs to get it together soon, because the Cowboys are already running away with that division. 7-9 ain’t gonna get it done this year.

Patriots 25, Texans 22:

You didn’t really think Bill Belichick was going to lose to the Texans, did you? It may have been a little close for comfort against a bad team, but Bill Belichick finds a way to get it done.

You do have to be concerned that the Patriots were at one point down 22-9 in this game, so even though they scraped out a win, you’d like to see a better effort out of them. Maybe it was an emotional hangover from the Brady game last week, maybe the Patriots just aren’t that good, I don’t know.

The Patriots just aren’t very effective on offense. Mac Jones does not appear to have the green light to throw the ball deep just yet, so they rely on dinking and dunking with him, and without the big play threat, your offense has to string together a lot of 10-12 play drives, and that’s simply hard to do consistently in the NFL. Davis Mills looked like the better QB in this game, and that’s a bit concerning.

Eagles 21, Panthers 18:

I did not watch this game, but what a disappointing loss for Carolina. They appear to be going all-in on this season after trading for CJ Henderson and Stephon Gilmore, but when you can’t beat the Eagles, it’s cause for concern.

Sam Darnold now has 5 INTs over his past 2 games, so maybe it was a bit early to proclaim the Sam Darnold we all expected him to be when he was drafted has finally arrived. He’s clearly better than he was with the Jets, but at the same time, he is who he is. He was never going to become a top-10 QB just by jumping to a new team.

Of course, I doubt the Panthers expect him to be one because they appear to be building their identity as a defensively-driven team, but they do expect him to be better than he was against the Eagles. Now, in Darnold’s defense, Carolina’s offense has not been the same since Christian McCaffrey went down early in week 3. He’s one of the very best offensive weapons in the league, and you cannot just lose him and be fine. Carolina needs him back ASAP. They’ve lost two straight.

Titans 37, Jaguars 19:

Dan Campbell goes 0-5 and gains respect, Urban Meyer goes 0-5 (and gets caught with his finger in some chick’s asscrack at a bar) and becomes the laughingstock of the league.

The Jags have now lost 20 games in a row, something no team has done since 1977. The longest losing streak in NFL history is the Buccaneers from 1976-1977, 26 games.

Now, I know only 5 of those 20 losses happened under Urban Meyer, but given the way public opinion has turned against him, if the Jags end up breaking that 26-game losing streak record, that will fall on his shoulders.

I really did think Urban Meyer could work in the NFL. It now seems I was wrong about that. He’s made some poor decisions basically since Day 1 of taking the job. It has gone about as bad as it possibly can go down there in Jacksonville for him. Maybe he’s just not cut out for the NFL after all.

The Jags really need to beat the Dolphins in London this coming Sunday. They cannot break that old Bucs record.

Moving to Tennessee, they finally got AJ Brown back but are still missing Julio. I’m sure they didn’t want to rush Julio back against a team like Jacksonville, which is fine. Brown only had 3 catches for 38 yards, but this was a Derrick Henry game. He ran 29 times for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns. Henry is good enough to beat the Jags basically by himself.

Chargers 47, Browns 42:

I did watch this game. The Browns had the chance to really put it away when they were up 27-13 with the ball, but they let the Chargers back into it. Justin Herbert is an elite QB at this point and it’s pretty much undeniable. I thought the Browns’ defense was ready to roll, but while they have a lot of talented pieces, they still haven’t really come together and lived up to their potential.

The Browns should’ve gotten more aggressive late in that game when they had the opportunity to put it away, but the conservative playcalling allowed the Chargers to get the ball back and win the game.

Also, I have no idea why Baker can’t connect with Odell Beckham. I’m starting to think it’s Baker, not Odell. Because we’ve seen Odell away from Baker before, and he was spectacular–a top-5 receiver hands down. It’s getting to the point where it’s flat-out unacceptable that Baker isn’t maximizing Odell’s talent.

The Browns are going to have to really think hard about whether or not they want to commit to Baker long-term. Personally, I don’t see how they can justify paying him top-dollar.

It may sound like a pipe-dream, but I think the Browns should go after Aaron Rodgers in the offseason. They’re a much better option than both Pittsburgh and Denver for him. They’ve got a great offensive line, they have Odell and Jarvis and plenty of tight ends, plus a couple really solid receivers in Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins. Not to mention Chubb and Hunt. Plus, they have Alex Van Pelt as their offensive coordinator. Van Pelt worked with Rodgers in Green Bay and Rodgers always speaks highly of him.

I think it would make a lot of sense for the Browns to go after Rodgers, and I think it would make a lot of sense for him to consider going to Cleveland. It may not be the location he wants to live, but then again, neither is Pittsburgh.

Look, I like Baker Mayfield a lot. But we’re in year 4 and he’s not been able to consistently deliver high-level quarterbacking. He has flashes of greatness, but sometimes he’s not good. I’d be hesitant to give a guy like that a franchise QB salary. This Browns roster is ready to win the Super Bowl right now, if they have the right QB. If Baker gets a little bit better and a lot more consistent, it might be enough to take them to the promised land. But that’s a big if.

Bears 20, Raiders 9:

It turned out to be the final game of the Jon Gruden era in Las Vegas. It’s unfortunate the way his tenure came to an end, but such are the times we live in. The sad part is, all the accusations leveled against Jon Gruden are based on things he said in emails many years ago, not on his actions. If Jon Gruden were truly homophobic, then why was he the only coach in the league with an openly gay player on his roster?

And if Jon Gruden is a racist, then why would he even be a coach in the NFL in the first place? First of all, 70% of the NFL is black. Why would a racist even want to put himself in that situation? A white person who is racist wouldn’t last long in the NFL. And second of all, if Gruden was racist towards black players, somebody would’ve exposed him long ago, and nobody would want to play for him. Gruden was an NFL head coach for 15 years and got his start in the NFL back in 1990.

Look, I’m not saying there’s nothing wrong with what Gruden said in those emails. But I think the accusations that have been thrown at him are unfair.

I suspect the real reason these emails were brought to light was because someone wanted them to be seen by the media and the general public. Colin Cowherd always says that when anything is leaked, there’s a reason, a motivation for it. Things are leaked for a reason. Maybe Mark Davis was having some regrets over giving Gruden a 10-year contract with full control of the team and wanted a way to get rid of him. I don’t know.

The NFLPA is now demanding that all the emails reviewed in the league’s investigation of the Washington Football Team–which is how the Gruden emails were discovered–be turned over and made public. And that’s the thing: Gruden wasn’t even the one under investigation here. It was the Washington Football Team and all the messed up shit that was going on there over the years. Gruden’s emails can’t have been the only incriminating evidence dug up in that investigation. The UPI article says they found over 650,000 emails. Are we really going to believe the only bad stuff they found was what Gruden said? Come on.

This article on Yahoo Sports makes a great point:

I have no sympathy for [Jon Gruden]. But what I can’t square, and what is as repulsive as Gruden’s emails, is that the NFL is fine with letting them leak but it continues to protect Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder like he’s a human Fort Knox.

The breadth and depth of Snyder’s involvement in and knowledge of the toxic workplace environment at the offices of his NFL team, an environment that festered for years, might as well be the nuclear codes.

After slow-walking its involvement last year and initially letting Snyder essentially investigate himself and his business, the league finally stepped in.

What did it find? We really have no idea. The NFL, in a transparently absurd move, decided not to be transparent with the findings.

Actually, that undersells it. The NFL told the firm that conducted the investigation not to produce a written report of its findings, instead asking it to make a presentation, like this was eighth-grade English and not a multi-billion dollar entity that had made things so uncomfortable, so hostile to dozens of women that many of them sought therapy and some were so desperate to escape they left without having another job in place.

No written report. Nothing that delineates clearly what Snyder knew, how long he knew, how involved he was in any or all of it.

The NFL is covering for Dan Snyder here. What they’re covering up, I have no idea. But they threw Jon Gruden under the bus and have closed ranks to protect Snyder.

As for the Raiders the football team and how they performed on the field, they got pretty much shut down by the Chicago defense. I have always felt that the reason I could never really buy into the Raiders under Gruden was that they just don’t have a true identity. They’re not elite at any one thing. They’re decent on offense, decent on defense, but that’s not good enough in the NFL. You have to be great at something, and that forms the identity of your team. I’ve never really known what the Raiders’ identity was: are they an offensive team? A defensive team? It’s hard to tell.

The Bears, on the other hand, look like a much better team with Justin Fields at QB. It’s already evident that the offense is so much more functional with him, even though he hasn’t really posted spectacular numbers yet. I am a lifelong Bears fan, and I can tell you from first-hand experience, the Bears offense looks as functional as it has ever looked in my lifetime. That’s not to say it’s great or anything, it’s more just a reflection on how consistently bad the Bears have been offensively for decades.

Fields was only 12-20 for 111 yards and his first passing TD of his career, but the Bears’ gameplan against the Raiders was to run the ball, and they did that pretty well: the rookie Khalil Herbert, and the former Chief and Super Bowl hero Damien Williams combined for 34 carries and 139 yards in the game, with Williams getting a rushing TD. The 4 yards per carry the Bears’ running backs averaged wasn’t great, but it was good enough. The Bears should be in good hands at running back until David Montgomery comes back.

Overall, this is what everyone was looking for out of the Bears: let Justin Fields get in there, let him show his talent and develop, play strong defense, run the ball, and the Bears should be able to win some games. It’s amazing that it took until week 5 for the Bears coaching staff to figure this out given that everyone on the outside of the organization, from the media to the fans in the stands, could see from the very start that this was the formula. Fields may be a rookie, but he’s the QB that gives the Bears the best chance to win every week due to his natural, God-given talent. The Bears finally recognized this.

I like what I’ve seen from Justin Fields. Dare I say he’s been the most impressive rookie QB of the bunch this season? I know the stats don’t really pop, but it’s more the throws I’ve seen him make and the way he’s able to win games. None of the rookie QBs this year have looked anywhere close to how good Herbert was last season, but he was an extreme outlier–he had the best rookie season in NFL history. Let’s not compare these rookies to him because that’s just unfair to them. But between Lawrence, Wilson, Lance, Fields and Jones, I honestly think you could make an argument that Fields has been the best of the bunch so far. It’s a small sample size, to be sure, and it’s not like he’s looked significantly better than the other rookies, but he’s taken much better care of the football than the other guys have, and there are some throws he makes where it’s pretty clear he’s got a live arm. Maybe I’m just biased as a Bears fan, though. I don’t know.

The Bears’ next four games, however, will be the real test for Fields: Packers, at Bucs, 49ers, at Steelers. That is not going to be fun.

Cardinals 17, 49ers 10:

I was not able to catch this game, which sucks because I really wanted to see Trey Lance in his first career start. From what I saw in the highlights, he looked great as a runner, but definitely needs to get some better control on his passes. He sailed one big-time early in the game that Budda Baker was able to pick off, and it led to the Cardinals’ first TD of the game. If you’re a rookie making your first start, it’s forgivable to have some bad throws and/or decisions.

Lance finished 15-29 for 192 yards, no TDs and a pick. But on the ground, he had 15 rushing attempts for 89 yards. I liked what I saw out of him. He has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker. He had some impressive throws, including a few on the run and some that were fit into tight windows. He looks fast and powerful running the ball, but he’s still a very raw talent and it shows. I trust the 49ers coaching staff, though, to be able to develop him. I think Lance could be something special.

As for Lance’s counterpart in the game, Kyler Murray is dealing with some sort of arm/shoulder injury, even though it’s not really talked about and he was able to play the whole game. He still had a pretty damn good day throwing the ball, 22-31 for 239 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, and a 104.1 rating. However, he only had 7 carries for 1 yard on the ground and played more like a traditional pocket passer in this game. I don’t know if the shoulder injury had anything to do with his hesitation to run, or if the 49ers were just doing a good job of keeping him contained.

I did some digging on Twitter and only found a few tweets about Kyler’s injury:

Let’s hope.

Rondale Moore, though, looks awesome. This dude Moore is so perfect for the Cardinals. He’s like Kyler Murray in wide receiver form. He’s short, shifty and fast, and when Kyler passes him the ball, it’s almost like Kyler has the ball again: Moore can do what Kyler does when he’s running with the ball. Kyler’s running around, nowhere to go, so he tosses it to Moore, and then when Moore has the ball, it’s like Kyler has the ball, but 15 yards down the field. I’m so glad the Cardinals were able to get him, because those two little guys are going to be a problem for NFL defenses for years to come. They work so well together.

And Kliff Kingsbury clearly knows what kind of talent he has in Rondale Moore; he knows how to use him. The thing most draft gurus were saying about Moore before the draft is that he had the potential to be an extremely explosive playmaker, but only if he went to the right coaching staff that knew how to put his talents to use. You can’t just expect him to be a traditional wide receiver. Kliff Kingsbury knows how to use him. He even lines Moore up in the backfield sometimes, too. And that’s how you have to use him. He can make plays from all over the field; just get the ball in his hands and let him go to work. He had a beautiful toe-tap catch in the second quarter, too. This kid is so good.

Next week the Cardinals face the Browns in Cleveland. The Browns will need to bounce back from that painful loss to the Chargers, so this will be a tough one for Arizona to remain unbeaten. I know Arizona was able to beat the Rams convincingly at SoFi, but the Cardinals have never seen anything like this Browns rushing attack. And if Kyler isn’t 100%, that could spell trouble against a ferocious Cleveland pass rush. Should be a good one.

The Niners should be able to get back on track when they host the Colts next week. If that Indy secondary is banged up for the game, Trey Lance should have a much easier time throwing the ball than he did against Arizona.

Cowboys 44, Giants 20:

The Cowboys, now that they have a real defense, are an actual, legitimate contender for the first time in a long time. Trevon Diggs is becoming a superstar, Micah Parsons is a one-man wrecking crew, and the emergence of those two this season has elevated the Cowboys’ defense significantly.

As for the Cowboys’ offense, I love what Kellen Moore is doing. They have so many weapons and he somehow finds a way to get them all involved. Dallas has two stud receivers, two stud running backs, an emerging tight end in Dalton Schultz, and their offensive line is doing a phenomenal job: through 5 games, Dak Prescott has been pressured the 3rd-fewest times of any QB in the league. He’s only been sacked 8 times this season. The Cowboys’ offensive line is also great at run-blocking: Ezekiel Elliott is second in the league in yards before contact with 250, behind only Derrick Henry’s 362. That means the O-Line is doing a great job of bulldozing the defense on run plays. Even Tony Pollard has 180 yards before contact, 13th-best in the league. In terms of yards before contact per play, Pollard is averaging 3.5, which is 2nd best among all running backs behind only Chase Edmonds’ 3.9.

Not only are the Cowboys’ two running backs getting great run blocking, they’re also gaining extra yards themselves once they do meet the defense. Both Zeke and Pollard rank in the top-10 in the league in yards after contact. Overall, the Cowboys are 2nd in the league in rushing yards with 864, behind only Cleveland’s 938. They’re also 2nd behind Cleveland in yards per attempt at 5.3 (Cleveland is 5.4). The Cowboys offense is 2nd overall in points scored with 170, just shy of Buffalo’s 172.

Dak had a pretty miserable start to the game, with a tipped-ball INT in the first quarter and a fumbled shotgun snap on the goal line that the Giants recovered. But the beauty of it is this Cowboys team no longer needs him to throw for 450 yards every game. They’re not in shootouts anymore. They can run the ball and get stops consistently.

All in all, the Cowboys look like a complete team, and they are absolutely rolling.

As for the Giants, the injuries were just too much to overcome–in addition to the fact that even when healthy they’re not as good a team as the Cowboys. They were already missing offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, plus starting linebacker Blake Martinez went down with a torn ACL on September 29.

But things got worse during the game. Saquon Barkley left midway through the first quarter after inadvertently rolling his ankle on another player’s foot after the whistle–it was just a freak accident, and you hate to see it in a guy who is just now recovering from a torn ACL. It seems like he won’t be out long, but still.

Kenny Golladay left the game early with a hyperextended knee, but it appears he won’t miss too much time.

Danny Dimes suffered a concussion while diving for the goal line late in the second quarter. He was out for the game, replaced by Mike Glennon, and might miss next week’s game against the Rams, but it’s not out of the ordinary for guys to clear concussion protocol within a week.

There was, however, one bright spot for the Giants: Kadarius Toney, their 2021 first round draft pick wide receiver. They took him at 20.

Whatever “it” is, this dude has it. I can already tell. He just has that look to him. You know it when you see it: he’s going to be a problem in this league. He finished the game with 10 catches for 189 yards, and was tackled on the 1-yard line twice, depriving him of 2 TDs.

The man just makes defenders look silly. The shiftiness and change of direction quickness he has is something special, he does things out there that nobody else in the league does. To me, that’s the mark of a great player: a unique skillset. The only other player I could even compare to him is Kyler Murray, just in terms of his shiftiness and escapability, but Kyler’s a QB. If Chris Berman’s “WHOOP!” came to life, it would take the form of Kadarius Toney.

Even though Toney was the Giants’ only real threat at receiver, he was consistently getting open. When Glennon would force-feed him the ball, he made contested catches. He even beat Trevon Diggs a few times.

I know people are saying Toney only did so well because everyone else on the Giants was hurt, and that’s partially true: he’s not going to have 10 catches on 13 targets for 189 yards every week. But whether the other guys are healthy or not, Kadarius Toney is the best wide receiver the Giants have. He is so dynamic; I’m telling you, he’s already better than Golladay, Shepard and Slayton. This is nothing against those three guys because I actually think they’re all pretty good in their own right. It’s more about how special Toney is. It would be stupid of Jason Garrett to not try to get him the ball as much as possible going forward.

Now, Toney did suffer an ankle injury of some sort, so that bears monitoring. At he did get ejected for throwing a punch at Damonte Kazee late in the game, so he might suffer some disciplinary action for that. In Toney’s defense, Kazee threw him to the ground after the whistle was already blown, and Kazee shoved Evan Engram after Engram rushed to Toney’s defense. Still, he’s gotta have better discipline than that. But if the NFL doesn’t suspend him, Joe Judge probably won’t because he can’t afford to. Toney’s just too good. If you didn’t watch the game, just go watch his highlights from the game and you’ll instantly see what I’m talking about: this guy looks like no other player in the league

This is a dude to watch going forward. I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw out of him on Sunday. He looks like a real playmaker. If he can stay healthy (and out of trouble), he is going to terrorize defenses in this league.

Bills 38, Chiefs 20:

Is it time to start worrying about the Chiefs? Nick Wright, the sports media’s most over-confident Chiefs fan, was talking all week about how Josh Allen was overrated and how the Chiefs were guaranteed to dumpster the Bills. While I thought the Bills had a much greater chance to win than Wright did, I was mostly in agreeance with him that the Chiefs would win the game and get their season back on track. As rough as things looked for Kansas City through 4 games, there was still always the assumption that they could easily flip the switch and go back to their dominant ways.

I mean, we’re talking about a team here that, from November 18, 2019 to the Super Bowl this past February, went on a 25-2 run including winning the Super Bowl. And one of those losses was week 17 last year to the Chargers while resting their starters. So really it was a 25-1 run over about a season-and-a-half. But including the 31-9 loss to Tampa in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs have gone 2-4 in their last 6 games. They were pretty lucky to get that win over the Browns in week 1, too.

The Chiefs are now in sole possession of last place in the AFC West through 5 games of the season. They have a net point differential of -9 on the year. Mahomes leads the league in TD passes with 16, but he’s also tied for the third-most INTs with 6. The only guys with more INTs than him are rookies: Zach Wilson (9) and Trevor Lawrence (8). I wonder if maybe Mahomes now has a little too much confidence in his arm and is starting to get reckless with the ball. He threw 2 picks to the Bills, including a pick-six to Micah Hyde in the third quarter that made the score 31-13 Buffalo. Mahomes also had a fumble in the red zone with 3:36 left in game that basically sealed the deal, even though the Chiefs were down 18 at the time.

Now the Chiefs did have to deal with losing Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the game. He got dogpiled by Bills defenders and basically had his body bent into a circle. It looked bad. He was down for a while and then got literally carried off the field by Tyreek Hill and another one of his teammates. Now it wasn’t a season-ending injury, but it turned out to be an MCL sprain that will keep him out for several weeks. As if the Chiefs didn’t have enough problems.

The real problem in Kansas City, though, is their defense. It was bad that they only scored 20 points on Sunday night, but it was even worse that they let up 38. Granted 7 of those points came on a pick six, but still, 31 points allowed ain’t good. The Bills had scoring drives (either TD or field goal) of the following lengths: 75 yards, 75, 62, 68, 85. The fact that Kansas City can’t stop anybody is a real problem. They’re now allowing 7.1 yards per play to opposing offenses, which is by far the worst YPP allowed in the NFL. Next-worst is Detroit at 6.5. Allowing 7.1 YPP is historically bad. (The Bills, on the other hand, are best in the league at 4.3 YPP allowed).

The Chiefs now have the 4th-worst pass defense and the 4th-worst run defense. They’re allowing 8.6 yards per passing attempt, 2nd worst in the league, and 5.2 yards per carry, 3rd-worst in the league. Opponents score on them on a league-worst 54.2% of drives. The Chiefs defense is worst in the NFL in terms of expected points contributed, -95. They have allowed the most points in the league, too. If they’re not the worst defense in the NFL, they’re very close to it. Unless Steve Spagnuolo can get things turned around quickly, the Chiefs have zero shot of winning a Super Bowl with a defense this bad. It’s just not going to happen. The problem isn’t just Anthony Sorensen getting burned deep all the time. The whole defense is playing like garbage. They’re also dead-last in the league in sacks with just 7 through 5 games (the Bears have the most, 18, for reference).

When your defense is this bad, not even Patrick Mahomes can overcome it. And I do think a least a part of the reason Mahomes hasn’t been the Mahomes we all expect him to be this year is because of how bad his team’s defense is. It causes a QB (and the offensive playcaller) to do things differently. Mahomes knows he basically has to get a TD on every drive because the Chiefs defense can’t stop anybody. It’s completely eliminated his margin for error, but the problem is he’s having to take even more risks with the ball knowing that if an offensive drive ends with no points, the team is basically screwed. So he’s making riskier and riskier throws now.

It’s not a good situation in Kansas City right now. They need to fix that defense yesterday.

I was downplaying the Bills’ success through the first 4 games of the season, too. I said they didn’t have a defense and they couldn’t run the ball, and basically needed Josh Allen to carry them singlehandedly in every game. But now, it looks like the Bills have a real defense. Their running game still isn’t as good as you’d like, but it’s obviously not a problem. Buffalo leads the league in point differential by a massive margin at +108. Next-best are the Cardinals with a +62 net point differential. That’s how dominant the Bills have been. I think we can officially say the week 1 loss to Pittsburgh was a fluke, and write that game off as the Bills’ 4th preseason game. The team we saw man-handle the Chiefs is the real Bills, not the team we saw lose to Pittsburgh.

If Buffalo isn’t the best team in the NFL, I don’t know who is right now. It’s between Buffalo and Arizona right now for the top spot in the power rankings.

MNF – Ravens 25, Colts 22 (OT):

Our third game of the weekend that finished with a 25-22 score, oddly enough. 5 and 2 are those numbers you pull in Super Bowl squares and you immediately think, “I have no chance at all.” But somehow, this week, 3 games ended with this score.

Of course, as with any time Lamar Jackson has a good game passing the ball, all the “pReTtY gOoD fOr A rUnNiNg bAcK hUh?” crowd pours into social media and starts competing with one another to profess their love for Lamar Jackson the most. It’s just funny that almost every sports pundit believes they are the only sports pundit who thinks Lamar Jackson is a good quarterback. It’s a cacophony of “Look at me, I was right about Lamar Jackson and you all were wrong!”

Even though they’re all saying that. So of course it can’t be true: if every sports pundit is acting like they’re the only person who believes in Lamar Jackson, then who, exactly, is out there that thinks Lamar Jackson isn’t a good quarterback? I really want to know. I see it all the time, too. They’re acting like the conventional wisdom is that Lamar would be better off as a running back, when in reality, I don’t see anyone on social media saying that. Not a soul. Maybe some goofballs in the comments say it, but that’s far from a representation of the public consensus.

Look, the fact is, Lamar Jackson is a good, not great passer. He’s limited as a passer, always has been and probably always will be. But he doesn’t have to be an elite passer because he’s the best running quarterback the game has ever seen. All he really has to do is be able to hit his receivers when they’re open.

And last night, they’re were wide-ass open. A lot. Go back and watch the highlights of that game from basically the end of the third quarter on: the Colts couldn’t cover anybody. Lamar was either dumping it off to running backs or just tossing the ball in there to open receivers. I’m not trying to detract from his performance because he led a great comeback, but I’m just trying to point out that the stats he put up in that game were a little deceptive. It wasn’t like he was making these incredible throws into tight windows. His receivers were wide open the whole fourth quarter, when he did the bulk of his damage through the air.

I started to wonder if the Colts had just stopped trying on defense after going up 25-9. But apparently there was a good reason the Colts’ secondary was so bad: they were decimated at cornerback. Rock Ya-Sin missed the game altogether. Xavier Rhodes went out in the game. Starting safety Andrew Sendejo went down in the 4th quarter with a concussion. By the end of the game, the Colts’ starting cornerbacks were Anthony Chelsey and BoPete Keyes. Who? I know, exactly. Those dudes were third-stringers, listed behind Ya-Sin, Rhodes, Isaiah Rodgers and TJ Carrie.

So it’s no wonder Lamar diced them up. Again, I’m not trying detract from Lamar here, I’m just stating the facts. He was doing a lot of dinking-and-dunking to running backs and wide-open receivers due to the fact that the Colts’ secondary was almost completely decimated. It’s not as if Lamar had this Mahomes-esque performance where he was making the most incredible throws you’ve ever seen. I know his statline was incredible–37/43 passing for 403 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, and a 140.5 rating–but be honest with yourself, go back and look at the throws he was making in the 4th quarter, the statline was a bit misleading as to how impressive his passing performance truly was. He had a clean pocket and was throwing to wide open guys.

The real question when it comes to Lamar Jackson is this: how many QBs in the league would you rather have over him? That’s where the supposed Lamar Lovers start to get uneasy: when you rattle off some names of top-QBs and ask them if they’d rather have Lamar instead. This is the list of guys I came up with that I’d take over Lamar:

  1. Mahomes
  2. Rodgers
  3. Allen
  4. Brady
  5. Herbert
  6. Russ
  7. Kyler
  8. Dak

That to me is definitive. It may not be the exact order I’d rank those guys, but it’s close and there is no way I’d take Lamar over any of those guys. I just think all of those guys are clearly better passers than Lamar. The real debate for me is between Matthew Stafford and Lamar. Those two would round out my top-10, but I’m not quite sure who would go at 9 and who would go at 10. Stafford is the better passer, but is he that much better of a passer than Lamar that it outweighs Lamar’s running ability, which is vastly better than Stafford’s? I think I would actually lean Lamar when viewed in this light, meaning I’d have Lamar at 9 and Stafford 10.

As for the Colts, they led 25-9 in this game but just ran out of gas. They didn’t have the bodies. And on top of all their injuries in the secondary, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was dealing with a hip injury, which probably contributed to him going 2/4 on field goals and 1/2 on extra points. If he even just hit that extra point, the Colts probably win that game.

But now the Colts are 1-4 and look to be in a lot of trouble. They’re tied four ways for the second-worst record in the AFC with Miami, Houston and the Jets, and they’re ahead of only the 0-5 Jaguars. Clearly the Colts are better than those teams they’re down in the basement with, as their point differential this year is only -20, compared to -52 for the Texans, -54 for the Jets and -75 for the Dolphins, but your record is your record. In a 17-game NFL season, there are no moral victories. You cannot afford to lose games in the NFL. The margin for error is just so slim. It’s not like baseball or basketball or hockey where losing a regular season game isn’t really that big a deal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s