October 13, 2015 - Greg Gabriel
The Football Weekend in Review
Five weeks into the NFL season and six weeks into the college season and we know one thing for sure, things aren’t going to be the way we thought they were. There are a number of different story lines that dominate college and NFL football and that’s what makes this season so interesting. The Atlanta Falcons Who would have thought that after five games, the Falcons would have a perfect 5-0 record. New Head Coach Dan Quinn has brought new life to the Falcons and they are playing with an enthusiasm that we haven’t seen in years. The Atlanta resurgence has been led by quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman. All are off to tremendous starts. Three of the Falcons next four games are on the road but all four games are against teams with losing records. As well as the Falcons are playing, it’s possible they are 9-0 before they play another quality team. The Detroit Lions Many felt the Lions would challenge the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title. That won’t happen, at least not in 2015. The Lions have yet to win a game. What has been troublesome is the offense. In the last four games the Lions have averaged just over 13 points a game. This is with a quarterback who is supposed to be one of the NFL’s elite according to many “experts”. That quarterback is Matthew Stafford and he got benched Sunday for his poor play. If his poor play continues, it remains to be seen if backup Dan Orlovsky will take over. CBS Sports Adam Schein tweeted Sunday “The Detroit Lions…rebuilding since 1957…”. If the Lions don’t make some top to bottom changes soon, they may still be rebuilding in 2027. The Cincinnati Bengals Right now the Bengals are the class of the AFC North with a perfect 5-0. This includes an outstanding come from behind victory over last year’s NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Quarterback Andy Dalton is off to his best start ever, passing for over 1500 yards and 11 touchdowns in the five victories. Another player off to an outstanding start is third year tight end Tyler Eifert. Eifert was bothered by injuries in each of his first two seasons, but to date this season he has 24 receptions for 312 yards and five touchdowns. Dalton has taken a lot of heat in the past because he hasn’t performed in the playoffs, but if he continues to play the way he has this season he will be looked upon as one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Jay Cutler Over the past few years, Jay Cutler has taken a lot of abuse from fans and analysts nationwide. Some has been deserved, some underserved. In 2015 we have seen a “new” Jay Cutler emerge. Gone is the moody player who wore his emotions on his shoulder. What we have seen this year is a much more relaxed player who has also taken on a new leadership role. He has also played his best football since becoming a Chicago Bear in 2009. In the last two weeks, playing without his top receivers, he has led the Bears to two straight victories and this is while playing with a severely pulled hamstring. His stats over the last two games are 54 completions in 88 attempts for 533 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception. For those who thought that Jay Cutler was going to be one-and-done under new Head Coach John Fox, you can forget about that. Cutler will be in Chicago for a while. Fox and Cutler have built a strong relationship and that is the reason for Cutlers improved play. Tom Brady If the original “deflategate” suspension was upheld, Tom Brady would not have played in New England’s first four games and it’s highly likely that the Pats wouldn’t be 4-0. When the suspension was overturned, Brady went on a mission to prove he may be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. In his first four games this year, Brady has thrown for 1387 yards and 11 touchdowns with no interceptions. His quarterback rating is a whopping 121.5. Next up for the Pats is a game against the “deflategate” whistle blower Indianapolis Colts. If Brady keeps playing the way he has, this game could be the best game of his 16 year NFL career. Payback’s a bitch! USC USC was supposed to be one of the favorites to win the PAC 12 this season. Instead they are off to a disappointing 3-2 start with both losses coming in conference play. Sunday, Head Coach Steve Sarkisian was placed on leave due to off field issues related to alcohol. Late Monday afternoon, USC fired Sarkisian and a search for a permanent replacement will begin shortly. Following reports in both Los Angeles and Seattle papers, Athletic Director Pat Haden could also be in trouble. The papers brought up several instances of high alcohol consumption by Sarkisian documented with receipts. With receipts in hand, many are now questioning Haden’s vetting process when he hired Sarkisian. This could get ugly before it’s over but one thing is clear and that is the reputation of one of the great football programs if all time is in serious danger. Jared Goff About 10 days ago, I wrote my early scouting report on Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff. I pointed out that while Goff is talented, he isn’t ready to make the jump to the NFL. He needs another year of college football. Of course I was bombarded by Goff and Cal fans as well as by some of the draft media who disagreed with my opinion. Saturday night in front of a national television audience Goff bombed in a loss at Utah. Goff completed 25 of 47 throws for 340 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. In the second half he lost his composure and his accuracy especially on longer throws, he was way off. In my report I stated that in the early season Goff had not played a top defense and that we would see what his real talent is in games versus Utah, UCLA, USC and Stanford. With the Utah game behind us, Goff has the other three games to redeem himself in the eyes of NFL evaluators. As for me, I will stick to my original opinion. He needs another year of college and he will be much better off if he uses that year. His college playing experience will be invaluable to him when it comes time to make the jump to the NFL.