With week 5 in the books, let’s look at some of the biggest takeaways of the season so far.
1. Coaching is more important than ever
It’s amazing how much good coaching can change a team. When you look at the best teams right now, what do they all have in common? A great coach. The Chiefs. The Patriots. The Rams. The Saints. They all have elite coaches. When you look at the rosters of the bad teams, they aren’t that much worse than the good teams. They just don’t have coaches that properly utilize their players. With good coaching, the Browns could easily be 4-1 or 5-0 this season. Good coaches find ways to win and that’s obvious. Just look at the difference between the Rams and Cowboys on Sunday. The McVay’s decision won them the game and Garrett’s opposite decision cost the Cowboys the game.
2. Refs need to get on the same page
Since I have NFL Sunday Ticket, I watch a lot of games. I usually just watch Red Zone, which cycles me through many of the games, but occasionally I’ll change the channel watch an actual game. What I’ve noticed is that there is little consistency among referees. I’ll see plays, especially on the quarterback, that result in roughing the passer calls and then I’ll see more egregious plays that aren’t called. There was a play in the Sunday night game where Desean Watson got absolutely hammered in the head on a pass and it wasn’t called. A couple weeks ago, I saw a play where Big Ben basically got tapped on the head and it was called. Since Clay Matthews’ back to back weeks of awful calls, I’ve seen at least 10 “body weight” sacks or hits that haven’t been called. And yesterday, I saw a play where TJ Watt avoided Matt Ryan, but Ryan tripped and fell anyway, resulting in a penalty on Watt. Either the rules need to change or there are least needs to be some consistency in how they are enforced. They are already costing teams games and soon, they will be costing teams playoff spots and coaches their jobs.
3. The Texans aren’t that bad
Remember when I mentioned earlier the difference between good and bad coaching? Well the Texans are an example of bad coaching. They’ve won their last couple games despite their coaching. In fact, their wins are a result of debatable coaching decisions that worked in their favor. With a capable coach at the helm, or at least a better playcaller, this Texans team could easily be 4-1. Now that Watson is starting to settle in, this team can make a playoff push. But if they don’t, we could see the end of Bill O’Brien in Houston.
4. What is going on with kicking
I’ve gotten to the point where whenever I watch a kick, I expect it to miss. The last two weeks have seen so many missed kicks. I mean, Mason Crosby and Dan Bailey, two of the most reliable kickers in today’s game, missed a combined 7 kicks on Sunday. Meanwhile, Graham Gano is hitting 63 yard game winners as time expires. Go figure.
5. The Packers are running out of time
When are the Packers going to put some actual pieces around Aaron Rodgers? He doesn’t have that many years of prime Rodgers left. Having Aaron Rodgers and only having one Super Bowl is a shame. And it’s entirely on the GM and owner. Aaron Rodgers is great (In my opinion the best) and it’s only because of him that the team is even relevant each year. But he needs a little help if they want to make it to February. It was painfully obvious on Sunday that if Adams can’t get open, then the team is in trouble. Valdez-Scantling stepped up a bit but still, pairing Rodgers with a true number 1 or even a solid 2 behind Adams would put that team over the top and get them another Lombardi trophy.
6. The NFL is pretty exciting this year
Overall, the NFL is actually pretty exciting this year. It seems like every week, anyone can beat anyone. We are going into week 6 and we have no winless teams and only two undefeated teams. It makes for better football when there’s so much parity. Of course, it may also make the playoff picture fuzzier as the end of the season approaches. Let’s see if some teams start to settle in and if the cream rises to the top.
7. The AFC North might be the best division in football
The AFC North has no teams with a losing record. On top of that, all four also have a positive point differential for the season. Every game is competitive for each of these teams and all four have shown the ability to have an explosive offensive game. People thought the AFC South or NFC South would be the best divisions but both divisions have had good teams with disappointing starts. This will also be the most interesting division down the stretch and could truly be won by anyone.
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)
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