What We Learned from Week 5
5) Special teams haven’t been so special
I have seen more special teams’ blunders in the five games thus far than the total that I can remember since I started watching football. Last Monday the Dolphins lost the game because of their special teams mistakes. Yesterday the Chargers had two punts blocked that gave the Raiders nine points in a game the Chargers ended up losing by eight. It seems like every week there is a blocked punt or field goal for a TD or kickers are missing chip shots. If you want to see the glass as half full than the all the kickoff and punt returns for points are a good thing. On every level of football from pee-wee to pros, special teams are looked at as the necessary evil. Nobody wants to do it but, for whatever reason, it’s a part of the game so players have to. Teams better start paying more attention to the third phase of the game or risk taking a loss because of it.
4) Superbowl Hangover
Maybe the Saints celebrated too hard after the Superbowl because they definitely look hung over. The defense is playing good enough to protect a lead but they don’t have any leads to protect. The offense that was so potent a year ago seems to have disappeared. Last year the Saints were scoring touchdowns, this year they are barely making field goals. The offense is also suffering from a lack of a running attack. The Saints are 31st in rushing. When you’re a one-sided offense you’re easier to defend. With all that said I still wouldn’t bet against Drew Brees. Every week I keep thinking this is the week that offense will explode and one week I’m going to be right.
3) Kansas City is for real
Coming into yesterday’s match-up with the Colts all the talk was “are the Chiefs for real at 3-0?” I think they gained a lot of supporters with their performance in Indy yesterday. Sure Kansas City lost but they put up a fight most people didn’t expect. In fact if HC Todd Haley elects to take the points and not the chance or Dwayne Bowe catches the pass that hit his hands in the end zone, we would be talking about the 4-0 Chiefs. That young defense continues to look good and the Thomas Jones/Jamaal Charles tandem is sitting at 3rd in the NFL. With that home field advantage I don’t think the Chiefs will lose a home game all year. The biggest question mark is the QB. If Matt Cassel can give them anything at the Quarterback position, the Chiefs could find themselves winning that division.
2) Injury bug apparently likes Cheese
Every year some team with high aspirations gets hit hard by the injury bug. This year the Packers appear to be that team. They came into the year with starting corner Al Harris and starting safety Atari Bigsby on the PUP list and both starting offensive tackles banged up. Since the season began linebacker Nick Barnett, running back Ryan Grant, and safety Morgan Burnett who all starters have all been ruled out for the rest of the season. In yesterday’s loss to the Redskins DE Ryan Pickett, LB Clay Matthews, LB Frank Zombo, TE Jermichael Finely, and TE Donald Lee all left the game early and did not return. To make matters worse QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion on the Packers last offensive play in overtime and could possibly miss next week’s game. The injuries are piling up way too fast for the Packers, hopefully their JV can provide a competitive Band-Aid until enough varsity players get out of the infirmary.
1) Cowboys have Texas sized problems
When Jerry Jones was awarded the Super Bowl in Jerry World, he had expectations that his team would be playing for the trophy and rightfully so. The Cowboys are often called the most talented team in football. With that said nobody imagined going into week 6 match-up versus the Vikings both Dallas and Minnesota would be 1-3. The people of Minnesota got a glimmer of optimism last week with the return of Randy Moss. The people of Dallas need to be concerned. Why the Cowboys are sitting at 1-3 is a head scratcher to most. They didn’t lose any key free agents, they have no significant injuries, they have no huge controversy in the locker room, and they haven’t played an extremely tough schedule thus far. The only thing you can look to is the coaching. After every loss Wade Phillips says “I’m not worried” or “I’m not panicking.” He better start panicking with the Giants coming up twice as well as Green Bay and Minnesota. Maybe he should tell Jason Garret to get away from his 2 to 1 pass to run play ratio. If the Cowboys find themselves at 1-5 after two weeks look for Jerry Jones to be coaching this team from the owner’s box.