Andrew Whitworth, Andy Dalton, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Christian McCaffrey, Cincinnati Bengals, Covid-19, Dak Prescott, Dan Quinn, Jamel Dean, Jim Turner, Joe Burrow, Kansas City Chiefs, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Matt Rhule, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Nick Foles, Russell Wilson, Sean McVay, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Thomas Dimitroff, Tom Brady, TWF NFL Dynasty League, Zac Taylor
Well ,week five finished with an unexpected result that I called wrong in the picks competition, which is becoming a worrying trend, but at least the Titans are back playing games and the NFL looks like it can keep to its scheduling plan for now. Meanwhile, the Bills after facing two scenarios about who they were playing have to move on quickly as they face the Chiefs on Monday night.
That said, I feel all over the place with the site at the moment, and having spent a chunk of time yesterday dealing with how our dynasty league would managed the waiver wire this week given that we were still locked in week five, I delayed this post by a day as there is no competition Thursday this week as we have no Thursday night game.
So let’s take a look at what happened in week five.
What I Saw
The week five Thursday night game was a ragged affair that I still found entertaining thanks to the two good defences on display, but it was frustrating to get my pick wrong as my assessment of the Buccaneers ability was fairly spot on but it was their indiscipline on offence that cost the Bucs this game. The Bucs actually went up by ten points in the first quarter of the game as the Bears struggled to move the ball consistently but kept themselves in touch thanks to their defence. The Bucs finished this game with three-hundred and thirty-nine yards of offence, ninety-six yards more than the Bears were able to generate but the Bucs also were flagged eleven times for a loss of one hundred and nine yards. This was forty-three more yards in penalties than the Bears and the combination of penalties and the Bears defence meant that after the first quarter the Bucs were only able to kick field goals for the rest of the game. That said, despite being streaky, Nick Foles managed to complete more passes that Tom Brady, even with Bucs corner Jamel Dean seeming to wage a one-person battle on the Bears’ passing attack at the end of the game. The Bears were able to do enough on offence against a Bucs defence that was regularly getting pressure to eek out a one point lead at the end of the game, but with how tight the game was the key play might have been when Bucs’ running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn caught a short pass and fumbled the ball setting up the Bears offence with a short field and that led to their second and last touchdown of the game in a crucial burst of point scoring in the second quarter. This is a game that I feel the Bucs really could have and probably should have won, but they need to clean up the penalties if they are to reach their potential. Meanwhile, if the Bears can keep getting enough production from Nick Foles on offence then their defence is good enough that they will keep winning games even if they likely won’t maintain their current twelve win pace or compete with the best teams in the NFL.
I don’t want to spend too much time on the Bengals this week as they were very poor, but the problem remains the offensive line and I’m now getting really worried about Joe Burrow operating behind it. In fact, I have a wider concern, Zac Taylor is a young head coach, hired due to his relationship with Sean McVay and the Bengals stressed how much they committed to his plan with rearrangements of both the practice facilities and offices, as well as hiring Taylor the largest staff they have ever had, but the offensive line is a good representation of my wider worry. Taylor’s choice of Jim Turner as o-line coach didn’t sit well with me from the start. Turner not only tolerated the bullying in his position group whilst at the Dolphins, but the investigation into the resulting scandal implicated him in taking part. Not content with this, when he returned to Texas A&M he was involved in another scandal involving inappropriate jokes at a football clinic for women. It’s one thing for a person to make a mistake and learn from it, but I have no patience for bullies or people who clearly have no interest in reforming their ways. The o-line has been a problem since Andrew Whitworth was let go, and the lead in to last season was undeniably tough with injuries and retirements, but it doesn’t feel like anything is changing or that players are developing and if the head coach can’t see this then I have to wonder about their judgement. It is appears I lied about spending too much time on the Bengals, but moving on to the Ravens – the blip against the Chiefs aside the Ravens are clearly a very good football team who will meet far stiffer challenges over the rest of the season and likely emerge victorious from most of them.
The other early game Sunday game I watched this week was the Carolina Panthers winning their third straight game, beating the still winless Atlanta Falcons. It was not a spectacle of a game, but the seventeen points the Panthers scored in the second quarter was enough for them to comfortably beat a Falcons team who have continued to struggle and that ultimately led to both GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn being fired. The Falcons have been trending this way for a while, but it had to be a difficult decision as a lot of the basis for the team that went to the Super Bowl is still there, but they have just not been able to recapture that form. Meanwhile, the Panthers have quietly got themselves to 3-2 despite losing Christian McCaffery to injury in week two, but could very well still be in contention by the time he returns from IR and that is a lot more than I was expecting of them coming into the season. The rest of this year will be strange for the Falcons as both players and coaches will be trying to prove they belong in the league, but it is going to be a long time before the Falcons as an organisation can do anything directly in terms of replacing their GM and head coach. That said, if the head start in the background checks the Falcons get by making the decision now leads to a similar result as what the Panthers have got so far with their new head coach having made an early change themselves last season then they will be very happy.
The final game I got to watch in week five was the closely fought contest that the Minnesota Vikings narrowly lost 27-26 to the Seattle Seahawks. The Vikings scored thirteen unanswered points to build a halftime lead, but came roaring back in the third quarter with three touchdowns and were taken to the wire by the Vikings. The big talking point coming out of this game was the Vikings decision to go for it on fourth down on the Seahawks’ six yard line with two minutes on the clock rather than kick a field goal. There may well be a statistical argument for doing what they did, both in terms of if they made the first down and in turning the ball over with under two minutes left on the clock on the opponents six yard line, and I would usually totally support the decision if that was the case. However, there are a handful of quarterbacks that you feel could execute a ninety-four yard drive in that time and Russell Wilson would be very much near the top of that list, particularly with the form he is in this season. The Seahawks did precisely that, scored the winning touchdown but failed on the following two-point conversion. The same conversion they would have needed to take the game to overtime if the Vikings had just kicked the field goal and taken an eight point lead. It is easy to be wise in hindsight, and I would normally support the maths, but this is one of the few times where I would countenance taking the safe option.
What I Heard
I am going to have to start taking better notes as I have heard lots of interesting things and couldn’t immediately bring a lot of it to mind. However, one thing that did stick is that whilst looking for what coaching tape to watch, I decided to look at the Football Outsiders DVOA stats for offensive line and have a look at the best team. Well, according to the site the team with the best adjusted line yards were the Cleveland Browns (closely followed by Dan’s Dolphins [the real NFL franchise, not his dynasty team]) and this was not wholly a surprise. Unlike the Bengals, who many people have commented on as being poor (although not in adjusted line yards where they rank a lofty twenty-six despite conceding the most sacks in the season so far), I have heard several people talking about how good the Browns’ offensive line is, and how impressive this was given they had a new coaching staff that had to install their offence during a Covid- shortened pre-season. A lot of credit has brrn given to their o-line coach Bill Callahan, and whilst I don’t know enough to evaluate him or the praise, it does make sense and I am looking forward to getting a head start on the coaching film this week with no Thursday night game.
What I Think
Despite the situation with the Titans, the NFL has as yet not lost a game from their schedule and they will be hoping the problems in Tennessee were an outlier and not a foreshadowing of what is to come. The NFL are continuing to adjust their protocols and re-enforce existing ones with talk of restricting the roles of those who are found to have been close contacts of players who have tested positive. I am still pretty impressed that the season has run as well as it has so far, but we are now heading into autumn with the weather becoming more favourable for the virus so soon we shall know if this start was the positive beginning of getting the season finished, or the warning signs that things are about to get a lot tougher.
What I Know
I know the Bengals o-line is bad, that the Panthers are better than I thought they were and that I am looking forward to seeing what Andy Dalton can do with the Dallas offence this week. It may not seem like much, but with everything going on at the moment I’m clinging to the small things and hoping the rest falls into place. I just hope the NFL have planned more carefully than that!
What I Hope
There is only one possible thin I can hope after the week five games, and that is both that Dak Prescott make a full and speedy recovery from his horrible injury sustained on Sunday and that it is a long time until we see anything similar.