Slow Start for Will McDonald – Other NFL Thoughts
In this week’s NFL thoughts, we’re diving into a variety of hot topics that are shaping the league. Will McDonald is off to a slow start for the NY Jets. Bill Belichick’s monumental 300th win to the Jets strategic moves at the trade deadline, there’s plenty to dissect. We’re also casting a critical eye on the Bills’ diminishing AFC title hopes and the surprising sack leader of the season. Whether it’s the Bengals’ and 49ers’ pivotal matchup or the Chiefs’ continued dominance that’s got you talking, we’ve got it all covered. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what’s making headlines in the NFL right now.
– We happily give Bill Belichick a kick whenever he’s down. The truth is that he has rarely been down over his Hall of Fame career, and Sunday’s Patriots win put him solidly on the Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches. Belichick joined Don Shula and George Halas Sunday as the only NFL coaches to reach 300 wins. This is as elite as elite gets in the NFL. Congratulations, Coach!
– The NFL trade deadline was hardly even noticeable in years gone by. Not so much anymore. Several trades have already happened, and ESPN has a piece on 32 players that could be dealt before the deadline this year. They mention the Jet’s Carl Lawson as potentially being moved. It makes sense for the Jets. Lawson is in the last year of his contract and has fallen to the bottom of the depth chart. If they can get a late-round pick for him, it would be a major score for New York. Lawson figures to welcome a chance to play, even if it’s somewhere else.
– The Bills may no longer be a serious contender in the AFC. There are major concerns about Buffalo. The team can’t run the ball consistently, and the defense cannot generate a pass rush. The window is closing for the Bills and will slam shut if Buffalo can’t figure out how to get more out of the players that surround a very talented core group.
– A very solid performance thus far from the Jet defense has helped to keep everyone from noticing the lack of playing time and production from the team’s number-one pick in the draft. Will McDonald has one tackle on the season. The spotlight will come around sooner or later, and we will need to consider that a front office who has been lights out in the draft since they took control may have selected their first bust. Defensive End isn’t typically a position that requires a ton of ramp-up time before a player can start to contribute.
– This week’s most interesting game is Cincinnati at San Francisco. The Bengals come in off the bye week and face a 49ers team that has now dropped two straight games after an impressive start that had them set up as a Super Bowl favorite. Both teams need the game. Cincy is trying to resurrect its playoff chances after a terrible start. The Niners will face a confidence crisis if they drop their third straight game.
– The league leader in sacks thus far is not TJ Watt or Myles Garrett. It’s Danielle Hunter of the Vikings. Hunter was available in the offseason. With the premium placed on elite pash rushers, it’s a wonder why Hunter wasn’t more seriously pursued. With the Vikings surprising the 49ers Monday, Hunter may be off the market as the team reconsiders its chances at the postseason.
– The Atlanta Falcons face a talent deficit in nearly every contest. It hasn’t stopped them from being competitive. The overachieving Falcons sit alone on top of the NFC South at 4-3. Arthur Smith deserves to be noticed. Smith is an early season favorite of ours for Coach of the Year.
– Speaking of coaches, the race is on to see who is relieved of duties first this year. Josh McDaniels may be out front. The Raiders lost to the one-win Bears Sunday to drop their record to 3-4. The Raiders don’t figure to win this week in Detroit, so they will be 3-5 the next week when they face the Giants. If the Raiders can’t beat the Giants, they should fall to 3-8 as they face the Jets, Dolphins, and Chiefs after that. It’s hard to imagine McDaniels survives that scenario.
– Puka Nacua continues to be relevant even after the return of Cooper Kupp. Nacua has 19 targets over the last two weeks and has to be a leading candidate for rookie of year as he sits at third in receiving yards for the season.
– Chiefs fatigue is real. If you’re not a Chiefs fan, their run of success in recent years is tiresome, and it’s only exacerbated by all the attention Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift’s relationship has garnered. The bad news for weary fans is the league’s number two overall offense has a top defense as well. Kansas City is seventh in total defense. If the Chiefs maintain that level of play defensively, and Mahomes and Kelce stay healthy, we are in for a lot more of those shots of Taylor Swift celebrating with Brittany Mahomes.
– The Steelers are hard to figure. They had a head-scratching blow-out loss to the Texans in week four, but besides that and dropping their opener to San Francisco, Pittsburgh has been solid. If Dionte Johnson can stay healthy and provide developing quarterback Kenny Pickett a true number-one wideout, Pittsburgh could be right in the mix in the AFC. If it happens, Mike Tomlin would join Arhtur Smith at the top of our list for coach of the year honors.
– The Miami Dolphins have a long way to go to restore themselves as a contender in the minds of the fans. The league’s leading offense was held to just 244 total yards against the Eagles. The Dolphins have now lost to both winning teams they have played this season. Neither of those games were close. The Dolphins should manhandle New England at home this week, but then Kansas City comes to town. If they drop that game and thus fall to 0-3 against winning teams, the comparisons to last year’s Vikings will start.