Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? We are already four weeks into the NFL regular season, and we have seen plenty of surprises and disappointments. Here is what we’ve learned from the first quarter of the NFL season.
Marvin Lewis: A Brand New Coach(?)
When I received word that the Bengals had resigned head coach Marvin Lewis, I was pretty upset, even though I am not a Bengals fan. The Bengals as an organization do not care about the city of Cincinnati and Bengals fans everywhere, they just care about their money…is what I thought at the time. Marvin Lewis has been much better in all areas as a coach and the Bengals have been better as a team overall. Since our columnist, Braeden Guthrie, recently published an article on our website, www.thesportswave.net, about how Marvin Lewis has changed, I will not go in-depth on the subject. Here is the link to Braeden’s article if you wish to read about Lewis’ advancement: https://thesportswave.net/2018/09/24/how-much-has-marvin-lewis-changed/.
The Los Angeles Rams are as Good as Advertised (Or Better)
Everybody knew that the Rams were an elite team last year. The scary thing, though, is that they arguably improved more than any other NFL team in the 2018 offseason. They brought in star cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, as well as stud defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (I’m pretty sure I spelled that right). They have arguably the best coach in the NFL not named Bill Belichick, arguably the best GM in the league not named Bill Belichick, arguably the best running back in the NFL, arguably the best receiving core in the NFL, arguably the best defense in the NFL, a great quarterback and a great offensive line. They are easily the most well-rounded team in the league.
Ryan Fitzmagic was Just a Fad
He had three great games. But then, he played arguably the best defense in the league in the Chicago Bears, and went 9-18 for 126 yards in the first half before getting benched in favor of former 1st overall pick Jameis Winston. It was announced this week that Winston would start for the Bucs moving forward. To be fair to Fitzpatrick, it was probably a rude awakening to finally face a truly great defense. But in order to be the best, you have to beat the best, and Fitzpatrick obviously cannot beat the best.
Khalil Mack: Worth All of $141 Million
When the Chicago Bears traded up from 105th overall to 51st overall in the second round of the draft, I thought that was the “exclamation point” of their offseason, a move that said, “We are ready to win now.” On the morning of September 1st, Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace dwarfed that move with a blockbuster trade for generational pass rusher Khalil Mack. Generally, when a team gives up two first round picks in a trade, it is hard to immediately say that it was a bargain, this situation is an outlier. In four games for the Bears, Mack has recorded a sack and a forced fumble in each game. Through the first quarter of the season, he has 17 total tackles, 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 interception returned for a touchdown. However, numbers cannot represent Mack’s impact, or “The Mack Effect” on the Bears. If an offensive coordinator thinks it is a good idea to try to one-on-one block Khalil Mack, he is not going to have a very good time during the game. Mack commands double and triple teams, and even destroys them sometimes, too. I remember watching the Seahawks vs. Bears game in Week 2. Mack was triple teamed and still managed to get a strip sack on Russell Wilson. Mack elevates everyone on that defense, and even overshadows some of the other great players on that roster like Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan and Eddie Jackson. Mack is a huge part of what looks to be an extremely bright future for the Chicago Bears.
Where I was Right on Rookie Head Coaches
A while back, I did a series called “Rookie Head Coach Expectations for 2018 and Beyond,” where I went in-depth on each newly hired head coach in 2018. In that 7-part series, there were two coaches that I said were going to absolutely outstanding: Mike Vrabel, hired by the Titans, and Matt Nagy, hired by the Bears. Each of those two have started 3-1, and the Bears really should be 4-0. Nagy and Vrabel have each done nearly everything right, from creating a great culture to winning games. To read the entire series, visit my page at www.thesportswave.net, at https://thesportswave.net/author/bearsupdater/. To read the articles featuring Nagy and Vrabel, click on these links: https://thesportswave.net/2018/07/07/rookie-head-coach-expectations-for-2018-and-beyond-mike-vrabel/; https://thesportswave.net/2018/08/01/rookie-head-coach-expectations-for-2018-and-beyond-matt-nagy/.
The Philadelphia Eagles Seem to Have Regressed, as I Expected
I wrote an article about my predictions for the NFC playoff picture. I predicted the Eagles to win their division and earn the 4th seed, but they went on to lose in the Wildcard Round to the New Orleans Saints. Really, the only reason I had the Eagles winning the NFC East is because it is a pretty awful division. The Redskins look good right now, but we’ll have to see how that continues. The Eagles lost their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, both of which were offered higher ranking jobs at other teams, and were an integral part of the Eagles’ success last season. The Eagles brought in defensive end Michael Bennett, who will help the pass rush, but could be a big distraction in the locker room. Head coach Doug Pederson and now-backup QB Nick Foles each wrote books after 2017, which doesn’t sound so bad, until you look at people like Andy Reid, Bill Belichick and Sean Payton, who have had years of success in this league, yet still have not written a book. Bill Walsh, one of the best, most innovative coaches in football history wrote a couple of books, but that was after he won four Super Bowls, coached for many years, retired, and established himself as one of the all-time greats. This just gives me a bad feeling about the Eagles.
Patrick Mahomes could very well win MVP if he continues to produce like this. If is the key word there. I’m not making any predictions or hot takes, but remember 2017? Through Week 5, it was “Chiefs 5-0! Chiefs to the Super Bowl! Alex Smith for MVP!” Through the first quarter this year, it’s “Chiefs 4-0! Chiefs to the Super Bowl! Patrick Mahomes for MVP!” And it wasn’t just 2017. For years, the Chiefs have come out firing on all cylinders, but have struggled mightily late in the season and into the postseason. Again, I’m not making any predictions, but the Chiefs’ history should make us all at least a little skeptical about the Chief’s season. Also, something has got to be done about their defense; it’s not very good.
Thanks for reading my article, and be sure to check out the articles I mentioned in the article! They can help you better understand what I am trying to get at!