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10 Things, NFL Week 5

The Seahawks need to unleash Russell Wilson. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

TEN
I don’t understand the Seahawks. I find Seattle’s offense most threatening when they allow Russell Wilson to run around and make plays. Carolina does a similar thing with Cam Newton. When they put Newton in the pocket and make him a traditional quarterback, he and the offense suffer. When they free Newton to improvise, the offensive is more apt to big plays and exploiting defensive breakdowns.

Seattle is in a slightly different situation because right now they couldn’t protect Wilson if Ciara’s life depended on it, but at 2-3, Seattle doesn’t have a lot more time to hope the offensive line comes around in pass protection. Why not put Wilson on the run more? Let him dissect a defense much like he did his rookie season when he was a threat to take off for 10-15 yard bursts at a time. Wilson has proven he’s smart enough to avoid the hits that essentially ended RG3’s career and he’s always been most dangerous to defenses when improvising. It also doesn’t help that Seattle still hasn’t figured out how to use Jimmy Graham, which in itself is pretty amazing. While Wilson is no Drew Brees, he can get the ball to open receivers. Graham is open even when a safety is on his hip. He’s that athletically gifted.

NINE
Baltimore is a disaster right now. The ground game has finally found its footing the last two weeks and the Ravens still can’t find a formula for victory. Injuries are obviously an issue considering Steve Smith missed Sunday’s game, 1st round pick Breshad Perriman has yet to play, and Terrell Suggs has been lost since Week 1. However, John Harbaugh’s Ravens are known for depth and a “next man up” mentality. This season, the starters are hardly showing up, especially defensively. Remember, this is the same team that nearly sent the Super Bowl winning Patriots home from the playoffs nine months ago. Now they can’t stop anyone. The Baltimore defense surrendered 500 yards to the Cleveland Browns while squandering a 21-9 3rd quarter lead. Ed Reed is beside himself right now.

EIGHT

  • Blake Bortles threw for as many touchdowns as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning combined.
  • Andy Reid’s offense just lost its best player. If Reid wants to save his job, he better put Alex Smith on the bench and prove he can run an offense that can get the ball downfield.
  • The Cowboys would probably be undefeated or close to it if they had a full squad through the first 5 weeks.
  • Colin Kaepernick did quarterback things Sunday night. That was an encouraging sign. Or maybe it’s a national TV thing, because Kaepernick also looked great in the Monday night opener in Week 1.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. nightmares have commenced.


SEVEN

The Chase Utley suspension is garbage. Sure, Utley is old and washed-up, but he’s not dirty. He plays old school baseball. You know, the kind where players weren’t whiny pansies. I entered the MLB Postseason with zero rooting interest. I just wanted exciting games/series. Now I want the Mets to lose. I’m rooting for everyone else. Even the umpires.

SIX
Despite a 5-0 record, Matt Ryan has played pretty poorly through five weeks. He’s had flashes of brilliance like the 2nd half vs. Dallas or the 2nd half vs. New York, but otherwise he’s been erratic and sloppy. I’ve seen every Falcons game because Julio Jones is one of my favorite players to watch, and Ryan has overthrown, bounced, thrown behind, and completely ignored open receivers all season long. With a relatively soft schedule thus far, it’s likely Ryan’s struggles will haunt Atlanta as the season progresses. It almost cost them Sunday against the Redskins.

SIX A
While watching Julio Jones do amazing things, the emergence of another NFL star has been pretty obvious. Devonta Freeman. Whoa, boy. It’s hard to find a more explosive and exciting back in the league right now. Every time Freeman touches the ball he’s moving the chains.

FIVE
Power Rankings

  1. Patriots
  2. Bengals
  3. Packers
  4. Cardinals
  5. Broncos
  6. Falcons
  7. Panthers
  8. Seahawks
  9. Giants
  10. Jets

No changes to the top 10 this week. There was some shuffling, however. The Cardinals leapfrogged from 8 to 4. I like the Cardinals more right now than the Broncos, Panthers and Seahawks because they boast a dominant defense AND a reasonably potent offense. The other three aforementioned teams struggle offensively, especially the Broncos and Seahawks, who have both been downright anemic.

FOUR
As Mike Tirico said Monday, the Steelers won with a walk-off touchdown. Mike Tomlin is now a gutsy genius only a week after being the incompetent goat against the Ravens. These are the slim margins in sports. While I agreed with Tomlin’s call to run a play at the goal line with only 5 seconds remaining, I thought LeVeon Bell made what could have been a costly mistake. In that situation, Bell was likely told that as soon as his momentum forward was stopped, he should drop and call timeout. With only 5 seconds, fighting for extra inches would run out the clock and thus forfeit Pittsburgh’s chance of tying the game. Well, Bell met contact but instead of dropping he bounced to the outside. If Manti Te’o grabs just one of Bell’s legs the game is over. Bell’s choice to continue fighting would have cost the Steelers the tie. Watch the replay. Bell’s legs are right in front of Te’o’s face. If he looks up and grabs a foot the game is over. Credit to Bell for fighting and finding a way to score, but that’s how close these moments are. Tomlin went from goat to GOAT because Manti Te’o couldn’t lift his eyes a half second sooner.

THREE
We’ve covered Peyton Manning’s noodle arm ad nauseam through the first quarter of the NFL season. While watching the Broncos struggle offensively Sunday I realized that defenses are impacted by Manning’s lack of arm strength. On three separate occasions Sunday, Raider defenders made early contact with Denver receivers simply because the football had not arrived when expected. Like quarterbacks, defensive backs have an internal clock. When they see a quarterback make a throw, they have a pretty good idea of when that ball will arrive. It’s shocking to see these defensive backs accidentally make contact before the ball arrives simply because the ball is traveling at such a slower speed than a typical NFL quarterback would throw. Unfortunately for the Broncos, officials only called pass interference once. It’s something to watch, though, because it’s both depressing and comical at the same time.

TWO
There’s a writer in Philadelphia covering the Eagles (Jimmy Kempski) who is obsessed with how the NFL refuses to call intentional grounding on quarterbacks, most notably Eli Manning. (This writer – @jimmykempski – also does hilarious stick figure drawings via Microsoft Paint. They’re hilarious. You should check them out.) On Sunday night, NFL officials again missed an intentional grounding by Manning. It continues to amaze me how the NFL over-penalizes defenses while mostly ignoring the most obvious offensive infractions. See for yourself:

ONE
MVP: Josh McCown
Runner Up: Cardinals Defense
Left off Ballot: Nick Foles

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