Just how have 8 weeks of the 2019 NFL season passed so quickly?
Despite a number of earth shattering injuries to some of the biggest names in league history the quest for NFL supremacy waits for no man — including Patrick Mahomes it seems. Here are some our biggest takeaways at the half way mark of the 2019 NFL season. Roll the tape…
Zebra’s need help
Every season has bad officiating at times — blown calls, missed PI’s and so on, but this year feels different. The tone appeared to be set in week 2 when the Saints had a defensive TD against the Rams called back despite Jared Goff fumbling the ball — something every man, women and child could see. Additionally, the ability for head coaches to challenge and overturn PI calls has yielded little to no success. Rightly or wrongly, the league appears to not want to go against the officials and instead appears to have the rule in place as a fail safe — in an apparent attempt to avoid the type of controversy seen in last years NFC Championship. Oh did we forget to mention the increased protection QB’s appear to be receiving? Look we get it. QB’s are the lifeblood of the NFL and Roger Goodell wants to avoid another concussion based class action lawsuit, but ‘roughing the passer’ has taken on a whole new meaning in 2019. No wants to see players get hurt but can’t we just let the players play?
The 49ers are legitimate Super Bowl contenders
Hands up if you thought the 49ers would pose a threat to the NFC this year? Put them down and stop lying to yourself. Despite Kyle Shanahan being considered to be one of the games best offensive minds, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has turned this team into a defensive juggernaut. Just look at their defensive line — Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Soloman Thomas and Dee Ford is scary good. Then add Kwon Alexander and Richard Sherman to that. Unfortunately, because the Patriots appear to be enjoying their own defensive homecoming — destroying every single season defensive record and putting up the biggest mid season point differential since the 1920 Buffalo All-Americans in the process — the 49ers are being overlooked for having the NFL’s best defensive unit since the 2015 Denver Broncos. Much to Robert Kraft’s dismay, something tells me we might see Brady vs Garoppolo in February.
The Browns need a Head Coach
The Dawg Pound just can’t seem to catch a break. After drafting elite level talent on both sides of the ball over the last 2 years the Browns went all in (with a view of making the playoffs for the first time since 2002) when they brought in Odell Beckham Jr. during the offseason. However, a team comprising of the league’s best WR and players such as Mayfield, Landry, Chubb, Garrett and Ward (you get the picture) is currently 2-5. Granted they do have a favourable end of year schedule and a 9-7 season could very well get them into the playoffs, but this team has a number of issues. Cleveland have committed an utterly ridiculous 70 penalties thus far and with Mayfield regressing — he has been a turnover machine this year — it would be easy to place the blame squarely on Freddie Kitchens’ shoulders. But Browns GM John Dorsey should have known better than to hire a man who was a running backs coach just 18 months ago. Yes it may seem unfair to make a change so soon into Kitchens’ tenure, but with the Bengals in full rebuild mode and the Steelers having an off year the Browns need to win and win now.
The Chargers need to win or find a new home
It’s safe to say the Chargers may regret moving to Los Angeles. With the team unable to fill a 25,000 capacity ‘soccer’ stadium for the third year in a row, team owner Dean Spanos has had to revise projected annual revenues to $150m — down from the $400m they were expected to make by making the move alongside the Rams. With L.A. perceivably remaining a Rams/Raiders town and home games being regularly ambushed by away fans, the Chargers may ultimately have to move in the not too distant future. Of course all this could be avoided should they ultimately win a Lombardi trophy, or perhaps be in the position to offer L.A. natives the hottest ticket in town by acquiring someone with undeniable cache, someone like Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. for example. Stranger things have happened of course, but the likelihood of at least one of the above scenarios coming to fruition is currently slim to none whilst having a 3-5 record.
The Bears must look beyond Trubisky
With the Chicago Bears narrowly losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in last years NFC wild card round much was expected from Matt Nagy’s boys this year. However, with respective resurgent Packers, Vikings and Lions squads, they currently sit bottom of the NFC North with a 3-4 record. From a team that has one of the best head coaches in the game and a defence that is led by Khalil Mack, Bears fans have rightly identified Mitch Trubisky as the weak link in what is undeniably their best chance of winning a Super Bowl since the mid 80’s. Despite injury the third year QB has consistently struggled with both his second and third reads. To rub salt into their wounds the Bears passed up the opportunity to draft both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017 — trading UP to get him. Can the Bears still win a Super Bowl? No doubt. But it would be a damn site easier if one of those third year QB’s were running this offence.
Mahomes/Watson rivalry is here
Talking of the league’s most electric QB’s, the NFL has patiently waited for a ‘New Age’ rivalry at the QB position ever since Peyton Manning retired and now they appear to have it. What Patrick Mahomes achieved in his first year as a starting QB was nothing short of a miracle — after all, only Tom Brady and the aforementioned Peyton Manning have dropped 50 TD’s during a 16 game regular season. Couple this with the fact that Mahomes was on pace to throw for an utterly ridiculous 7,000 passing yards before dislocating his knee, one has to wonder whether this man will break the record for every statistical category once he calls it a career. Nevertheless, stats don’t win championships and Deshawn Watson has just as much of a chance to win a Super Bowl as Mahomes does. Watson has shown time and time again that you can’t count out the Texans whilst the ball is in his hands. Just ask the Chiefs, who lost to Watson in week 6. Something tells me we are going to see these QB’s square off for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for at least a decade.
Russell Wilson is the MVP frontrunner
I know many will lobby for Aaron Rodgers and others will protest the lack of defensive candidates each and every year — Stephon Gilmore and Nick Bosa come to mind, but in reality there is only one man worthy of league MVP at the half way mark and that man is Russell Wilson. Outside of Tom Brady the Seattle Seahawks QB has been the most consistent player under centre over the last decade. Perhaps influenced by THAT play that cost the Seahawks back to back championships in Super Bowl 49, Wilson has been criminally overlooked in the race for regular league honours. However, this could well be his year and with a stat line that includes 2127 pass yards, 17:1 TD/INT’s and a 77.6 QB rating, should he continue at this pace its going to be hard for those with a vote to deny what would be a career defining season for the diminutive signal caller. J
What are your top midseason takeaways? Sound off in the comments section below.