With week 5 of the NFL all but over lets see what the biggest takeaways are.
San Francisco 49ers look better when they run the ball
For reasons that defy explanation the 49ers spent the opening three games of the
season allowing Colin Kaepernick to spray the ball around like he is Peyton Manning. Predictably, the 49ers struggled going 1-2.
Then in the game against the Phialdelphia Eagles the 49ers spent the first half doing the same thing. Despite, the Eagles offense barely getting a first down in the first two quarters the 49ers found themselves behind thanks to their attempts to lean on the pass.
Fortunately, in the second half the 49ers started feeding the ball into the arms of Frank Gore and running the ball. Gore finished the game with 119 rushing yards off 24 attempts as the home team won 26-21. Lets hope Jim Harbough has got the message and will continue to run the ball with Frank Gore.
Offensive lines are really important
It's a corollary to the above point but as good as Frank Gore was against the Eagles the 49ers were also lucky to face a Philadelphia team whose offensive line has been
completely decimated by injuries.
When the players in front of the runner cannot make the blocks even LeSean McCoy starts to look normal. McCoy finished the game with 17 yards from 10 attempts. Fantasy owners everywhere who drafted McCoy in the first round, probably with the first or second pick overall, weep.
Pro-days mean nothing
If you followed the lead up to the NFL draft one of the most back and forth stories of the entire process was centred around then-Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. First he was the most “pro-ready” out of all the potential quarterbacks, guaranteed to go off the board in the top five.
Then Bridgewater had a nightmare pro-day and all the talk was that Bridgewater was not good enough. In the same breath pundits would say that pro-days mean nothing before
acting like a reckless banker uttering the phrase “this time it's different”.
With all the focus on Bridgewater's pro-day and whether he should or should not be wearing a glove the young QB slipped down the draft order. QB needy teams like the Browns and Jaguars passed over him. It looked like Bridgewater was going to endure a horrid draft day.
In the end though the Vikings traded back into the first round to get Bridgewater. It was a strong show of faith in Bridgewater but I think we can now say that the gamble was
worth it. In the games on the road in New Orleans and home to the Falcons Bridgewater has shown that he has the poise and talent to cut it in the NFL. So remember everyone Pro-days mean nothing.
New Orleans Saints aren't as good as we thought
Heading into week one of the season I had the New Orleans Saints ranked third overall in my power rankings. Like many I thought the NFC Championship and possibly the Superbowl would be decided on whether it was the Saints or the Seahawks that won home advantage in the playoffs.
After defeats on the road to the Falcons, Browns and Cowboys though it is clear that Drew Brees and the Saints were perhaps the most overly hyped team in the NFL. After
four games they are 1-3 with their sole win coming against an Adrian Peterson-less Vikings.
The Saints may have plenty of talent but given the start they have endured they now face a tough task to make the playoffs. Simply put they aren't as good as everyone
The Panthers should have kept Steve Smith Snr
Steve Smith Snr looked great in the first three weeks of the season. When I picked the Panthers for the win last week the “blood and guts” everywhere factor had me worried. As it turned out I was right to be worried Steve Smith finished the game with 139 yards and two touchdowns off seven receptions.
Given the paucity of options in the Panthers running game and Cam Newton's seeming
inability to rush himself getting rid of Smith looks like an even stupider decision now then it did at the time.The Panthers should have kept Steve Smith Snr.
Its between the Jaguars and Raiders for next year's first pick
The Jaguars and the Raiders stand alone as teams without a win so far this season.
Neither are very good football teams and it is safe to say that the competition for the 1st round pick in the NFL draft is now between the two of them.
My money is on the Raiders coming out on top. They seem to be the weaker of the two teams. Were the Raiders and the Jaguars playing each other the Jaguars would be comfortable favourites. They only real question is whether the Raiders manage to pick up a win at all.
Maybe Joe Philbin knew what he was doing
It is hard to think of coaching decision that has received as much derision as Joe Philbin refusing to confirm Ryan Tannehill as the starter before this weeks game but the stats don't lie.
The Dolphins hammered the Raiders and Ryan Tannehill finished with 278 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and a passer rating of 109.3. Maybe a bit of tough love was exactly what Tannehill needed.