Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Overreactions, reality checks for NFL Week 5: Dolphins better than ‘Greatest Show on Turf?’ Belichick done?

Week 5 of the NFL season was filled with exciteme nt across the board. The Pittsburgh Steelers had a thrilling victory over the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Buffalo Bills, while the Miami Dolphins continued their offensive blitzkrieg on the league. 

Ja’Marr Chase and A.J. Brown shined while De’Von Achane and Zack Moss flashed again. Joe Burrow finally looked like Joe Burrow as well. 

As the Sunday games wrapped up in Week 5, there were plenty of overreactions to go around. Which are overreactions and which are reality? 

This is Bill Belichick’s last season coaching the Patriots

Overreaction or reality: Reality

Belichick should be embarrassed over what thePpatriots have become. After Sunday’s 34-0 loss to the Saints, the Patriots have been outscored 72-3 over the last two games. New England has just 55 points on the season — or the Dolphins have scored more in one game (70) than the Patriots have all year. 

The Patriots were dealt back-to-back 30-point losses for first time since 1970 and Belichick has suffered the two worst losses of his career in consecutive weeks. In his first 453 games as a head coach, Belichick lost by 30 points one time — he’s lost by 30-plus points in his last two games.

New England is injured on defense and horrible on offense, benching Mac Jones in consecutive games. The Patriots should do the right thing and thank Belichick for his tremendous career with the organization after the year. 

Maybe Belichick needs a fresh start somewhere else. Or perhaps the game has passed Belichick by. 

Dolphins have better offense than ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ 

Overreaction or reality: Reality

The Dolphins are just making NFL history by the week at this point. Take a look at what Miami has accomplished:

  • Most total yards (2,568) in any team’s first five games in NFL history (passed the 2000 Rams)
  • Most yards per play (8.3) in any team’s first five games since 2000 Rams
  • Most points (181) in any team’s first five games since 2015 Patriots and 2015 Cardinals

The Dolphins lead the NFL in passing yards (1,639), yards per attempt (10.0), rushing yards (929) and yards per rush (6.9) this season. They lead the NFL in yards per game (511.0), yards per play (8.02), firts downs per game (25.5), and points per game (37.5).

Miami just leads the league in every major offensive category with an incredibly balanced attack. The 2000 Rams (the historic start for those 1999-2001 “Greatest Show on Turf” teams) did score more through five games (43.4 points per game), but the Dolphins beat them in yards per game (505.4) and clobber them on the ground. The 2000 Rams averaged 395.4 passing yards per game but only 110.8 rushing yards, while the Dolphins are at 327.8 passing yards and 185.8 rushing yards. 

Both offenses are record setting, but the Dolphins have the edge. 

Joe Burrow is back 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Burrow certainly has made a case that he is back, especially since this week was the first week all year he wasn’t on the injured list. He threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns in the Bengals‘ 34-20 win over the Cardinals, moving around in the pocket and completing a season-high 78.3% of his passes. 

While Burrow’s numbers were good, he averaged just 5.9 yards per attempt. This was with Ja’Marr Chase going off for 15 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns. This was an excellent step in the right direction for Burrow, needed against a rebuilding Cardinals team. The Seahawks — and getting Tee Higgins back — will be a good test for Burrow next week. 

Lamar Jackson just isn’t a clutch quarterback 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Games like Sunday are difficult to defend Jackson, especially after how two of his final three possessions went against the the Steelers late in the fourth quarter. If the goal line interception on third-and-goal up 10-8 wasn’t bad enough, Jackson fumbled on the Ravens‘ next offensive possession on the second play after the Steelers scored a touchdown to take the 14-10 lead (Alex Highsmith forced the fumble and TJ Watt recovered). The Ravens ended up losing as Jackson had two turnovers in the fourth quarter. 

Doesn’t mean Jackson isn’t a clutch quarterback. He has a career 94.6 passer rating in the fourth quarter with 25 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions — while also having seven rushing touchdowns and 4.1 yards per carry. Jackson does have nine game-winning drives since becoming a starter in 2019 (but the Ravens have typically been ahead in fourth quarters under him since he’s 42-17 as a starter. 

The numbers say Jackson can get the job done, even if he’s 13th in the NFL out of 30 quarterbacks in passer rating in the fourth quarter and overtime since 2019 (minimum 300 attempts). Jackson is an enigma and Sunday added to that. 

The Jaguars are a Super Bowl contender in the AFC 

Overreaction or reality: Reality

The answer to this is a resounding yes. After a 1-2 start, who would have thought being the first team to play consecutive weeks in London would be enough for the Jaguars to get their act together? Jacksonville never let up against a Buffalo Bills team that looked like they played in London for the first time, rushing for 196 yards against a Bills defense that allowed just 100.7 yards on the ground to that point.

The defense also held Buffalo to just 20 points, this after the Bills averaged 41 points per game the previous three weeks. Buffalo was the hottest team in the NFL heading into this game and never led. 

This may have been Doug Pederson’s signature win with the Jaguars, as the Jacksonville defense has held the Bills and Kansas City Chiefs to 20-or-less points in their matchups. Both were believed to be two of the best three teams in the AFC heading into the year. The Jaguars have entered that conversation. 

With the Indianapolis Colts, new Orleans Saints, and Pittsburgh Steelers coming up before the bye week, the Jaguars have a golden opportunity to solidify that Super Bowl contender status by getting off to a 6-2 start. 

Zach Moss should start over Jonathan Taylor

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

The Colts just paid Taylor and made him the highest-paid running back in football. That isn’t going to happen. 

However, Moss brought the discussion up after finishing with 23 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns (7.2 yards per carry) in Indianapolis’ 23-16 win over Tennessee. Moss finished with 195 yards of offense and had 26 touches to Taylor’s 7. The Colts obviously rode the hot hand, but Moss is one of the best running backs in the NFL through five games. 

Moss is third in the NFL in rushing yards (445) and is one of 12 players to average 5.0 yards per carry or higher (5.0). He’s also tied for ninth in rushing touchdowns (3). The Colts are paying Moss $1.1 million to be this productive.

Perhaps Moss won’t start, but his production through five games may have caused Indianapolis to overthink paying Taylor. 

Jalen Carter is the Defensive Rookie of the Year

Overreaction or reality: Reality

What Carter has done through five games for the Eagles has been special. Carter was a game changer for the Eagles defense in Sunday’s win over the Rams, finishing with two sacks, three pressures, and two quarterback hits. Carter is the third Eagles player to have 3.5-plus sacks in their first five career games, joining Corey Simon (4.0 in 2000) and Reggie White (4.5 in 1985).

Carter is tied for seventh in the NFL in pressures (23), leading all defensive tackles. His pressure rate of 17.8% is also seventh in the NFL (minimum 100 pass rushing snaps) and leads all NFL defensive tackles. He’s also tied for third amongst all defensive tackles in sacks, trailing only Chris Jones and Ed Oliver

Who knows where the Eagles defense would be without Carter, but his impact is felt every week. He’s the best defensive rookie in football through five games. 

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