The pandemic has made this an odd and challenging start to the season. Here are four large food stalls from the first four weeks.
This year you have to win offensively.
The long-known concept of defense winning championships ended when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady entered the NFL in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The fact remains that while defense and playing games can help get teams into the playoffs, it is quarterbacks that win Super Bowls.
This season is going to be an extreme example of the importance of winning in the NFL. The combined score in games averages one touchdown more than last year, and 18 quarterbacks averages more than 250 passes per game. Russell Wilson joined Manning’s record of 16 touchdowns in the first four games – an incredible 64 point pace. Teams use presnaps, sets with two narrow ends, and formations with four wide receivers to create devastating effects.
You really don’t want to be a defensive coordinator in the NFC. Nine quarterbacks in the conference are on pace for 4,000-yard seasons. Wilson and Aaron Rodgers were amazing and took the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers 4-0 and look like serious competitors. Brady and Drew Brees have overcome difficult starts for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints, two other teams that will be very competitive in the NFC.
An invisible factor that helps crime: A 50 percent reduction in the number of calls in the first four weeks. This gives quarterbacks more time to throw and puts crimes at a distance in more favorable situations.
Injuries – and positive tests – are gradually taking their toll.
In the first four weeks, the teams had 385 missed starts – a huge jump from the 302 last year through four weeks. It was especially brutal for the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, who lost Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas and Dee Ford from their line of defense. Each of the top four cornerbacks missed at least one game and saw George Kittle and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo miss the time.
The Philadelphia Eagles had five offensive linemen in the injured reserve and played without most of their broad receivers. The Saints lost six starters against Detroit on Sunday. Some teams were hit hard at the cornerback and had to play against young people who are not yet ready to start.
We’re also starting to see the effects of positive coronavirus tests. The Titans may be able to continue their season against Buffalo this week if they run out of positive tests, but it’s unclear how many of the players who have tested positive will be available to play. Losing quarterback Cam Newton before a critical game against the Kansas City Chiefs was a blow to the New England Patriots, and it is possible that he will miss this week’s game against Denver as well.
New coaches fight while others join the hot seat
The league’s five new coaches were expected to have a particularly tough time this season with no offseason programs or preseason games, and their combined record is 7-13. Joe Judge of the New York Giants is without a win. Washington’s Ron Rivera and Dallas Mike McCarthy are both 1-3. Matt Rhule is progressing with a young Carolina Panthers team and is 2-2.
The success story is Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns at 3-1. Stefanski made the Browns a run-first team: They lead the league with 818 yards and have an average of 5.9 yards per carry. That made life easier for quarterback Baker Mayfield, who ranks 26th in the league with 116 attempts to pass.
Every season starts with coaches in the hot seat, and unfortunately those spots have only gotten hotter for this year’s group – and for Bill O’Brien a 4-0 start resulted in him being fired by the Houston Texans on Monday. He leaves the team in a difficult position. Texans have the highest payroll in the league, and that’s how much money goes on the offensive: four recipients collectively earn $ 44 million a year, a quarterback $ 39 million, a left-handed $ 22 million, a center $ 11 million and one Return of $ 13 million. They have no choice for the first round next year after going to the Miami Dolphins as part of the Laremy Tunsil trade. Make sure the Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels becomes a prime candidate for the job next year.
Among the others in trouble: Adam Gase of the New York Jets, Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions, Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons, Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos, and Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers.
The NFC Ost has the chance to be historically bad.
That was the worst division in football a year ago, and after four weeks it seems to be getting worse this season. Despite Philadelphia’s win against the 49ers on Sunday night, the NFC East teams are a combined 3-12-1. The Eagles are also in first place after starting 0-2-1.
Washington and the giants were expected to fight. You’re in recovery mode with young quarterbacks. The Eagles have some kind of excuse that injuries have ravaged their offense.
The big surprise was the cowboys, who were expected to see a revival under McCarthy. Instead, they have made great strides, but have been terrible on defense. Coordinator Mike Nolan is trying to install a hybrid unit mixing 3-4 and 4-3 concepts and it clearly isn’t working. Communication problems are evident during their games and it seems like the system is too complex for the players. They give up a remarkable 36.5 points per game. Their only win required a comeback down 19 points.