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NFL Week 2 observations

Keelan Cole had the catch of the year so far. Jacksonvillejaguars.com

Week 2 of NFL action is in the books. Some teams are as bad as they looked in week 1, some looked completely different, and some have shown two different sides. Here are a few observations I’ve made:

The Good

-Jags receiver Keelan Cole had seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, but he had perhaps the catch of the year. About 4:30 left in the first quarter, Jags up 7-0 already, it was 1st & 15 when Blake Bortles threw one up to Cole and he proceeded to catch the ball over a Patriots defender one-handed, pull it in and keep it away from being knocked out.

-Chiefs second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes has 10 touchdowns in his first two games this year! Nobody in NFL history has ever thrown this many touchdown passes in the first two games of the year. What’s more impressive is the fact that he hasn’t thrown an interception yet.

- The Dallas Cowboys entered this season with questions on the defensive side of the ball. They signed defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to the franchise tag, but don’t have anything proven other than him as far as a pass rush goes. They totaled six sacks against division rival New York Giants Sunday night. If this keeps up, that maligned defense will be feared.

The Bad

-The “Aaron Rodgers Rule” is becoming a boil on the ass of the game. Defenders are now penalized for roughing the passer if they land all of their body weight on a quarterback. It earned that nickname from the hit Vikings’ linebacker put on the Packers quarterback and broke his collarbone last year. Karma bit the Packers as Clay Matthews was assessed one at a crucial point Sunday that may have cost the, the game. Competition Committee needs to address this.

-Speaking of the Packers, their game with the Vikings ended in a tie, just as the Browns/Steelers game the previous week. Ties are like kissing your Aunt Hilda who has weather-beaten leather for cheeks. How about a field goal competition starting from 40 yards and moving five yards back after every make until someone misses?

-The Seahawks offensive line gave up five sacks in the first half against the Bears! This is just the latest in teams having franchise quarterbacks and not giving them an offensive line to protect them. Colts’ Andrew Luck, Packers’ Rodgers, Texans’ Deshaun Watson, and others are all at risk because teams don’t invest well enough in protecting these guys.

The Ugly

-The Buffalo Bills are bad at football. They are so bad in fact that cornerback Vontae Davis apparently retired at halftime. Reports state that he got dressed and left the stadium. A team has to be bad for a guy to walk away from the game. But at halftime of a game in week two of the season?

-Kickers have it bad. No matter what they do, they’re not seen as “real” football players to many. However, they are real people who have high-pressure jobs that are on the line each week. Former Browns and Vikings kickers Zaine Gonzalez and Daniel Carlson respectively were cut because of poor performances this week. Hopefully those guys land on their feet. Such is the life of a kicker that costs their team games.

-The Arizona Cardinals are abysmal. They may give the Bills a run for their money in the number one pick sweepstakes. They’ve been outscored 58-6 and outgained 861-350 in total yards in their first two games. Don’t know about you, but this isn’t a recipe for success.

The league is in a healthy place right now because of parity. Teams come out of nowhere every year to make playoff appearances. There are also perennial Super Bowl contenders. It’s too early to tell, but there will be a mix of both when the playoffs roll around. Let’s see if water finds its level when the Wildcard round rolls around.

 

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The Texans have a big decision to make. Composite image by Jack Brame

The last few weeks have brought us some very interesting episodes of "As Kirby Turns." Cal McNair has admitted he hasn't spoken with Deshaun Watson and has also doubled down on his affinity for Jack Easterby by saying he's staying around. The franchise's only member of their Ring of Honor, Andre Johnson, came completely out of character by tweeting his support for Watson to "stand his ground" in what most assume is his desire to play elsewhere. Newly hired general manager Nick Caserio has the hardest job in the NFL because he's basically a one leg man in a bleep kicking contest. National and local media are all floating rumors and opinions about Watson's status with the team. Meanwhile, Watson himself has been cryptic and hasn't come out and said one thing either way about his status with the team.

My opinion is that he won't be traded and this is his way of using the leverage he has to get some things done his way to ensure more of his career won't be wasted. Once they hire a head coach he approves of and they talk, he'll be back in the fold and blow things over by saying he never demanded a trade and was only upset about some things due to miscommunication. Blah blah blah. However, where there's smoke, there must be fire. I'll examine some pros and cons to a potential trade of Watson.

Bad news first. This franchise has waited its entire existence for a franchise quarterback like Watson. Finally getting one and having to deal him amidst the bumbling owner and charlatan right-hand man would be a big blow to overcome. This coming year is shaping up to be difficult as it is, but doing so with Watson wearing a different jersey could prove to be a near fatal blow. It would take an additional year or so to recover. The only way this timeline is expedited, is if they get a quarterback back in the trade or with one of the draft picks that they feel can be the man moving forward.

The bright side. Watson is this team's most attractive asset as it looks to rebuild. There are teams in the top five of this year's draft who need quarterbacks, and a couple of them have multiple first round picks. The Jets, #2 and #23 overall in the first round this draft, are the most intriguing destination because they may be bad next season with Watson if you get that pick in the trade as well. Throw in Sam Darnold, who's still young and salvageable, and this could be a hard reset that may not take as long. The Dolphins, #3 and #18 overall this draft, also have a lot to offer. Rumor has it Watson would like to go to Miami in a deal that includes Tua Tagovailoa, who was a guy Caserio liked when entering the draft. Again, another potential hard reset that may not take long if either young quarterback pans out. You could also trade back from those top slots to acquire more picks to help fill some of the many holes you have.

I reiterate, I do not believe Watson will be traded. I'm not even sure his no trade clause is applicable since he's still under his rookie contract and his extension hasn't kicked in yet. The new CBA rules call for stiffer penalties for players who refuse to report, so a holdout is highly unlikely. I'll be glad when they hire a coach Watson likes, and we get the happy family press conference introducing him, so this soap opera can move on to its next episode.

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