You may have noticed a slight decrease in participation for these weekly NFL reaction posts. It turns out we were a little ambitious in thinking we could support this commitment for 17 weeks, so we’re going to scale back slightly. This will be the last weekly reaction piece this season. The group will be back for a “third quarter” check-in sometime around week 12 and then we’ll get the band back together after the season for a postmortem. For now, enjoy Paul’s thoughts on this past week in the NFL.
I give up trying to figure out the Ravens and Jaguars: Before the season, I thought the Ravens and Jaguars were below average teams with good enough defenses, but anemic offenses that would make it a struggle for them to even sniff the playoffs. After the Ravens started the season 2-0 in impressive fashion, I figured I was wrong about them and started to believe… right before they got blown out by the Jaguars. That kicked off a stretch where they went 1-4 and I realized that fast start was a mirage… until they destroyed a Dolphins team that looked to be halfway decent (they’re still a 4-3 team). Now they’re 4-4 and I still have no idea how good they are. Are they the offensively inept team that got blown out in losses to the Jaguars, Vikings and Steelers? Or are they the stout defensive team that had impressive wins over the Raiders and Bengals? Maybe they answer is both, but considering I still wonder how good those latter teams are, I’m still leaning towards them being a below average team. Wouldn’t at all be surprised if they blew out the Titans this week, though, and that’s enough to keep them in the playoff hunt.
The Jaguars have a similar story. They’ve looked awesome blowing out the Ravens and Steelers, but also have baffling losses to the Jets and Titans tossed in the mix. In fact, the Jaguars have yet to win two games in a row. That should change in a few weeks, as they get the Browns, Cardinals and Colts in a row. I’m slowly coming around to the fact that the Jags might be a legit playoff contender, and considering the injuries to Houston’s defense, they could easily win the division as well. They already have one win over the Texans from week 1…
For that matter, the Dolphins too: How are the Dolphins 4-3? Seems like every week they lose an ugly game to a mediocre team. They got their 4-3 record very differently from Jacksonville, piecing together a 3 game win streak against the Titans, Falcons, and Jets. The jury is still out on the level of competition from those wins, which has me skeptical of how legit the Dolphins are, but at least their front office seems to agree with me. How else would one explain them trading away their starting running back for a 4th round pick?
The Jimmy Garoppolo experiment: I’m really interested in how the Jimmy Garoppolo trade is going to work out. I’ve documented in the past the strange tendency of Patriot back-up quarterbacks under Belichick to under-achieve once leaving New England. Garoppolo is following the exact same script as those before him, and it’s tough to see him having much success this year in San Francisco. He’s likely going to be thrust into starting before he can fully pick-up the offense, on a team that is light on play-makers on the offensive side of the ball. I like Kyle Shanahan as an offensive mind, but I would be much more optimistic if Garoppolo had gotten a full camp to assimilate the offense.
There’s so much more intrigue to this than simply how Garoppolo performs outside of Belichick’s influence, though. Considering all the rumors of Kirk Cousins wanting to be traded to the 49ers to rejoin Kyle Shanahan, this throws a monkey wrench into many of those off-season scenarios. Also, considering this is the second back-up quarterback that the Patriots have traded this season, it seems to cement the idea that Brady has no intention of retiring anytime soon and the Patriots are prepared for him to be their quarterback for the next few years. One final bit of intrigue? Brian Hoyer, the one quarterback who has had success post-Patriots, is considered the favorite to be re-signed as Brady’s new back-up.