5 Lessons I Learned During Week 5
1. Cam Newton is officially in a Sophomore Slump. After a stellar Rookie year which lead to some NFL “experts” predicting an MVP type season, Newton has struggled out of the gate and has led the Panthers to a 1-4 start. In last week’s game, Cam did literally nothing the entire game, but due to a Carolina defensive TD to open the second half, the Panthers found themselves on the 5 yard with a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter. With the score 16-10 on 4th and goal, the Panthers rolled Cam out to the right and had a wide open man in the end one for a game winning score. Newton decided to throw a bounce pass at his target, channeling the great John Stockton. Unfortunately, on a football field, the ball doesn’t bounce off the turf and even if it does, the referees will usually call it incomplete (unless they are replacement refs). Cam, it’s time to quit the Superman act if you keep playing like Quailman.
2. The NFC West is much better than we thought. My Superbowl Champion pick from May, the San Francisco 49ers are coming off two dominating performances in which they outscored their opponents by 84. The Arizona Cardinals are sporting a 4-1 record and look to have the defense to keep up the good play in the next few weeks. The Seattle Seahawks at 3-2 have played reallly well as Pete Carroll has led his team to wins in Carolina, against the Packers and even their two loses were close games at both the Giants and Cowboys. Rounding out the division is the 3-2 Rams, who have played much better under Jeff Fisher, as they are coming off a Thursday night victory in which they handed the Cardinals their first defeat of the year. Two years ago, the NFC West was won by Seattle with a 7-9 overall record and NFL fans were calling it one of the worse divisions in history. Obviously, all 4 teams have rebounded well in a very short period of time.
3. Andrew Luck does not look like a Rookie. One of the most surprising teams in the league thus far has been the Luck lead Indianapolis Colts, as they honored their Head Coach Chuck Pagano with a shocking win against the Green Bay Packers. Pagano was diagnosed with a curable form of leukemia early last week and nobody would have blamed the Colts if they came out against the Packers slow. Andrew Luck would not allow that to happen. The overall #1 pick went toe to toe with the defending MVP Aaron Rodgers, and outlasted one of the best QBs in the game for a thrilling 30-27 win. He went 31 for 55, throwing for 362 yards, 212 of them to Reggie Wayne. He is quickly making Colts fans feel better about their divorce form the legendary Peyton Manning. Luck brings the Colts into Met Life this week to face the Jets, in what will be a make of break game for both teams. As a Jet fan, I’m not feeling overly confident.
4. NFL Records are not nearly as big a deal as MLB records. It was cool to see Drew Brees break Johnny Unitas’s record of consecutive games with a TD pass, but on the real, I had no idea the record was held by Unitas or what the number was. There are a few NFL records that do stand out from the others, Emmit Smith’s all-time rushing record, Rice’s insane amount of receiving feats, Favre’s consecutive games played, the 17-0 Miami Dolphins, but overall, football is not a sport built on these statitistics. All sports fans know about Cal Ripkin’s streak, DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, CY Young’s victories, and the numerous HR records that have unfortunately been set by juicers in recent years. Baseball is a game about numbers, football is game based on action and violence. Not to take away from Brees’ accomplishment, it is truly impressive. To me, it’s just really not as exciting as the media and NFL made it out to be. Hell, they even let Sean Peyton in the building to watch!
5. It’s almost time to pull the plug on Michael Vick. The athletic, talented dog killer has become a huge liability for the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick seems to be allergic to the football lately. He has fumbled the ball 8 times, losing 5 of them in the early season. The Eagles are a very lucky 3-2 and could easily be 0-5 due to Vick’s carelessness. With his 5 lost fumbles, Vick has also thrown 6 picks to lead the league with 11 turnovers (thats even more than Sanchez!) With all the weapons Vick has in Philladelphia, he needs to get the ball out of his hands and let his playmakers like Lesean McCoy, Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin make plays for him. I don’t think it’s time yet to make a move, but Andy Reid’s job is on the line and if he doesn’t at least alter his game plan to hide Vick’s flaws a little bit more, Reid will find himself on the unemployment line at the end of the season.