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Ten Thoughts on the NFL

Another week in the books with plenty more to talk about

Kansas City Chiefs v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

1. Thoughts on Tua

I know that Tua shouldn’t have been allowed to return to last Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. You know that too. Basically, every fan with a modicum of common sense knew that if they watched him stagger off the field. So why did the league’s safety protocols fail him? Why did that mistake not get addressed in the lead up to the ridiculously fast turnaround time for the Thursday Night Football game? Why was anyone surprised when Tua left via stretcher after taking another hit to the head? (And why, oh why, did Amazon feel the need to show it over and over?!)

We, the viewing public, should be asking ourselves this question and demanding answers from the league office that would love nothing more than to make a sacrificial lamb out of the doctor on the scene instead of take any responsibility. The league and the NFLPA share blame on this as they should have been insistent on cognitive tests in the lead up to the game from multiple sources. All players deserve that level of protection as well, not just quarterbacks, but it takes an event like this to wake us all up to the flimsy protocols in place. My thoughts are with Tua and his family.

2. Double Byes

It’s time to bring up my favorite idea that makes so much sense that the league will never do it. Add another week to the season as a bye week. I don’t care if you steal it from the preseason or add an additional week onto the end of the year. Each team will have two bye weeks – one as the traditional full week off, the other an 11-day bye week where they’ll face another team coming off a similar break in a Thursday Night Football game, followed by another “mini-bye” for their next game the following Sunday. This would eliminate vanilla game plans, sloppy play, and most importantly, needless injury risk asking players to turnaround in such short time.

Honestly, everyone wins here. It’s a better product for the fans, coaches get extra time to game plan, and players can actually rest their bodies. The math works out pretty well where teams would play Thursday games starting in Week 3 (first two teams take a bye in Week 2) and Thursday games continue through Week 16 or Week 17, depending on how the league wants to play Thanksgiving. Each team would play one Thursday night game (not counting the teams that play the opener) and the potential of asking two of the Thanksgiving teams to play again the following Thursday. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it would totally work. So don’t hold your breath.

3. JJ can play play

Justin Jefferson racked up another 147 yards on 10 grabs on Sunday, his 16th career 100-yard receiving game in his short career. That mark ties him with the great Harlon Hill, among others, for 3rd all-time for players in their first three seasons. Harlon Hill, it should be noted, accomplished that mark in 12-game seasons, which is essentially the pace Jefferson currently enjoys – and he did it in the 1950s.

Jefferson has plenty of rope to move into first place past fellow Vikings great Randy Moss and current Free Agent / future Buffalo Bills WR Odell Beckham Jr who both posted 19 such games in their first three seasons. My guess is that a healthy year from JJ lands him somewhere near 22, a record that will be tough to beat. He’s going to terrorize Bears fans for a long time.

4. Trubenchsky

The Mitchell Trubisky era in Pittsburgh appears to have lasted a disappointing 14 quarters. The former Bears quarterback grabbed a clipboard as Kenny Pickett ran for two scores and never let the ball touch the ground (10-13 with 3 INTs). I had mentioned in this space earlier this season that this could be the game for the Steelers to make the switch, coming off the Thursday Night Football game a week ago. Trubisky remained the starter entering the game but couldn’t make it out of the locker room.

This always seemed like the path for Trubisky and the Steelers. If he’s willing to stick around the league, he will likely have a job as a backup for as long as his athleticism warrants a roster spot. As for Pickett, I’m curious to see how the hometown kid manages his opportunity as the Steelers face a very difficult upcoming schedule.

5. The Love of Justin Herbert

There are people that can’t understand why Justin Herbert gets as much love as he does from NFL enthusiasts. He has not been able to carry his team to the playoffs yet in his short career and the Chargers stumbled out of the gates this year with a team that’s built to compete. Besides the 3-5 throws he makes every game that would be on most quarterback career highlight reels, his ability to process at a high level makes him one of the most fun players to watch in the game today.

He just tied Andrew Luck with 19 career games of 300 passing yards in his first three seasons. He’s got 13 more contests to take that record and extend it out where it will be difficult for anyone behind him to reach. I think that’s also what a lot of people see – this guy with all the tools and the stats that will eventually translate into something impressive in the win column. We shall see.

6. Lions Still Lioning

Who had 93 total points for the Lions game this week? Anyone? The Seattle Seahawks look like one of those teams everyone circles on the schedule for an easy win, particularly when they have to venture outside of the Pacific Northwest. Somehow, they marched into Detroit and put up 555 total yards of offense and 48 points for a 3-point victory. Detroit accumulated 520 offensive yards of their own, making it one of the most prolific games in NFL history. The Lions fall to 1-3 on the year and despite having a competitive offense, won’t go anywhere with this defense.

If you know a Lions fan, give them a call. See if they’re doing okay. This has to be a tough one after all that trash they talked this off season.

7. King Arthur

The Atlanta Falcons sit at 2-2 in a disappointing NFC South, tied with the sluggish Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They dropped two close games that they had chances to win to open the year while closing out the Seahawks in Seattle and holding serve against the Browns at home. With a date at Tampa Bay this weekend, the Falcons could take the lead in the division.

That would put them ahead of schedule in Arthur Smith’s second season. Not much was expected of the Falcons as the roster underwent a deep clean with Matt Ryan dead money haunting spending decisions, forcing them to sign every former Bear they could find. Smith’s offense has emerged as one of the most intriguing week in, week out, using his offensive play makers in interesting ways. The Falcons are a top ten team in rushing efficiency and in passing efficiency with Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Mariota leading the way (Patterson suffered an injury in this one and will be out for a while). There were some that believed Smith was a product of Derrick Henry and didn’t really have the goods as an offensive mind. I’d say by the end of the season, no one will be left with that opinion.

8. Can we do Bills-Ravens again?

I’d like to see these two teams square off again, sometime in January, and preferably in decent weather. With Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, we’re guaranteed to get at least a handful of wow moments and this one felt dampened too much by the rain. The Bills came back from a 20-3 deficit as the Ravens have now blown two big leads to AFC East opponents to start the year.

The big decision that everyone is talking about is the 4th and goal to go for the Ravens that ended with a Lamar interception. I don’t mind the call, particularly when the Bills were moving at-will in the second half, it’s just the worst possible result with the interception taking away the field position advantage that a turnover on downs at the two would’ve given the Ravens defense. As it is, the Bills wrung out the rest of the clock on a final drive and ended the game on a 21-yard field goal. John Harbaugh’s a good coach, I like the aggressive decision. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

9. Statement Win

After laying an egg in Indianapolis in Week 3 (and sinking many survivor pools), the Kansas City Chiefs rolled into Tampa Bay and whipped the Buccaneers 41-31. There is no one better than Patrick Mahomes when he’s on and on he was for Sunday Night Football. I think many are guilty of Mahomes fatigue, moving onto the next hot thing because it’s more fun to talk about. However, there’s a reason the Chiefs have been to the AFC Championship Game four years in a row. It was a fair thought to think the absence of Tyreek Hill would impact Mahomes, but the early returns show that he hasn’t really missed a beat.

In a crowded AFC with a number of good teams and almost all of the game’s elite quarterbacks in the conference, Mahomes still occupies the center of the solar system. A colossal Week 6 game looms against the Bills at Arrowhead.

10. Justin Fields

Our friend Brad Spielberger did a nice job of summing up where Justin Fields is at one quarter of the way through this 2022 season:

It’s bad, folks.

What are your thoughts on Week 4? Hit up the comments below or find me on Twitter @gridironborn.