NFL Week 5 ended with several teams exhibiting their mettle (like the Jacksonville Jaguars), while others showed that they weren’t quite ready for the limelight. Additionally, injuries (such as J.J. Watt’s) struck a number of the game’s biggest stars.
Here is a look at the highs and lows from Week 5 of the NFL season:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars arrive
The Jacksonville Jaguars went to Pittsburgh and did something few teams ever do to the Steelers. They hammered the perennial playoff contenders 30-9 on their home field. Oh, and they did it without their starting quarterback Blake Bortles throwing for 100 yards.
Couple that with the Jaguars’ 44-7 demolition of the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3, and it’s clear that they are a serious contender in the AFC South.
2. Philadelphia Eagles emerge as NFC East favorites
The Arizona Cardinals may not be the powerhouse they were a couple years ago, but they still have plenty of talent that could cause opponents problems. The Eagles handled that talent with ease and set the tone for the NFC East in a huge way. Their 34-7 win over the Cardinals highlighted the emergence of a tough rush defense and an offense littered with talent at every skill position.
Quarterback Carson Wentz, in particular, continues to prove that the Eagles made the right decision to take him with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 304 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in the rout. Wentz connected with eight different receivers as the Eagles dominated the Cardinals for all four quarters. His leadership alone puts Philadelphia in great position to make a deep playoff run this season.
3. Alex Smith’s recognition
The San Francisco 49ers selected Alex Smith No. 1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. He went through some bumps and bruises during his time with the 49ers, but once Smith started to emerge, they traded him away. Since then, the fates of the 49ers and Smith’s new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, have changed. San Francisco continues to struggle after essentially giving up on Smith’s replacement, Colin Kaepernick. Meanwhile, the Chiefs emerged as a league power and currently sit as the only undefeated team left in the NFL.
Smith will never post the numbers that superstars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have over their careers. However, he continues to win regardless of the personnel surrounding him. Smith deserves recognition for what he’s done throughout his career. He’s a winner; that’s what we all saw in the Chiefs’ 42-34 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday night.
1. The injury bug hits
Several major injuries occurred during Week 5, none more serious than those suffered by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Both stars will be out for the season, leaving huge gaps on the rosters of their respective teams.
Football is a violent sport. Injuries happen. However, losing star players hurts the league more than anything in a time when protests and other issues are hurting the NFL. The NFL needs its stars to keep fans engaged. Losing Watt and Beckham Jr. is a blow that will be felt across the league throughout the season.
2. L.A. Rams show they aren’t ready
The Los Angeles Rams lost 16-10 to their archrival Seattle Seahawks at home on Sunday. While the Rams showed some mettle by fighting to the end, they also proved that they aren’t quite ready to compete for the division title.
Head coach Sean McVay is partially to blame for the Rams’ failure. He opened himself up to criticism by abandoning the running game in the second quarter. His actions shut his best weapon, running back Todd Gurley, out of the game and made McVay’s offense one-dimensional.
The Rams also turned the ball over five times and continued to struggle with penalties at critical moments. However, one thing is clear: the Rams remain a team to watch. They might not be ready, but L.A. is close. The Rams will be a major contender in the NFC sooner than later.
3. Bigger issue than football
The Miami Herald reported that the Miami Dolphins were investigating a video showing offensive line coach Chris Foerster using a $20 dollar bill to snort lines of cocaine. The team has now confirmed that it was Foerster ingesting the drug. Alcohol and drug abuse continue to be an issue in the NFL, but it has to sting the league for a coach to be caught red-handed. Coaches are meant to be examples of integrity even to professionals, and for Foerster to be videotaped snorting cocaine is a new low. Hopefully, Foerster finds the help he needs to one day coach again.