GOOD, BAD AND UGLY

NFL Week 5 observations

James Connor of the Steelers had a big game against Atlanta. Karl Roser, Steelers team website

Week five of the NFL season was interesting. We saw four starting rookie quarterbacks go undefeated. We’re also seeing teams reveal their true selves, as well as some teams emerge from early season funks. Let’s take a look at how I saw it play out:

The Good

-Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards on 25 of 43 passing. He’s looking more and more comfortable. I was most impressed with his play after he threw an early interception on their first possession. It didn’t derail his confidence and seemed to focus him.

-Steelers running back James Conner had a career day in their 41-17 win over the Falcons. Conner had a total of 185 yards on 25 touches and two touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell may be coming back in week seven, but Conner is making Bell look expendable.

-The Bengals are 4-1 right now and are a sneaky team to watch out for. They beat the Dolphins 27-17. The most impressive part was the two defensive touchdowns. Who thought they’d be atop the AFC North right now?

The Bad

-The Falcons are now 1-4. Two years removed from an epic Super Bowl collapse, this team was considered a favorite to challenge the Eagles in the NFC this year. Injuries have derailed them defensively, but that offense has enough weapons to start World War 3. 1-4 after five games is unacceptable.

-When the Jags have to rely heavily on quarterback Blake Bortles, bad things happen. Bortles threw four picks and put his team in position to force them to have to throw the ball way more than they wanted to. A 61 to 17 pass to run ratio is not Jag football.

-Although their teams won their starts, rookie quarterbacks Josh Allen of the Bills (10/19 for 82 yards and a pick), Josh Rosen of the Cardinals (10/25 for 170 yards and a touchdown), and Sam Darnold of the Jets (10/22 for 198 yards, three touchdowns and a pick) played awful. Their teams won in spite of their performances. I don’t doubt this crop of rookies will be good, but there will be growing pains.

The Ugly

-Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed four field goals and an extra point in their 31-23 loss to the Lions. He was clearly upset and frustrated with the misses. Cool to see Aaron Rodgers was seen comforting him on the sidelines. The Packers are sticking with the veteran kicker…for now.

-As if the Eagles Super Bowl hangover wasn’t enough - they’re 2-3 on the season so far - starting running back Jay Ajayi is now out for the season with an ACL injury. They use a running back by committee system, but he gets the bulk of the touches.

-The Giants plan on trading or cutting offensive tackle Ereck Flowers. They would like to trade him by 3 p.m. our time Tuesday, which is highly unlikely. The fact that they’re most likely cutting the former number nine overall pick from the 2015 draft shows how bad of a pick he was.

You ever took a picture with a Polaroid camera and shook the picture and/or blew on it and waited to see the reveal? Remember when the image was starting to come into focus and you could make out parts of it, but not the entire image? That’s kind of what this season is at this point. Week 5 is when the picture becomes clearer, but not quite fully visible. As the season progresses, that picture will become crystal clear.

 

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The Marlins are showing interest in Yuli Gurriel. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near, there are still some decisions hanging over the Astros. One of them is whether or not to bring back Yuli Gurriel. “La Piña,” as he's affectionately called, is 38 years old. He turns 39 in June. His leadership and instincts cannot be matched. The man has seen a ton of baseball and comes from a family of baseballers. So, what's the holdup?

Enter the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman, is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on the heavy Cuban population in the Miami area. Bringing in the Cuban Babe Ruth is a great way to attempt to get more fan engagement. The franchise has only been to the playoffs three times. First two times (1997 and 2003), they won it all. In 2020, they were swept in the NLDS. They're most likely offering him a ridiculous amount of money to come to a team with a losing history. Knowing the Marlins are willing to hand out stupid money, would you blame La Piña for taking one last ridiculous payday?

Think about it. He's got two rings and made a ton of money. He can safely retire very comfortably. The lure to come back for another year or two would definitely be about money. The Marlins aren't a real threat in the next couple of seasons to do anything, but are willing to pay me like I'm still a star? Plus, I'm closer to my home country with all my family and friends? Sign me up!

This is where the Astros have to make a decision. Bring Yuli back for another year or move on. If he follows through with his last four years, this should be a bounce back year. Since 2016, his first year in Houston and MLB, he's hit .262, .299, .291, .298, .232 (pandemic shortened season), .319, and .242 last season. The man is a professional hitter. He knows how to work an at-bat and can drive pitchers nuts. His defense isn't bad either. He's a more than capable first baseman.

This won't win me any favor, but I think it's time to move on. Yuli will always have a place in my heart because he was a major factor in the Astros' two World Series wins. Last season's title run was even more satisfying since it helped silence the haters. That was the mouthwash that got rid of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. Piña was there through it all.

Now, it's time to start transitioning towards the future. Piña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr were the only holdovers from the 2017 team. Verlander was one of the guys the Mets backed the Brinks truck up for this offseason. Altuve (32), Bregman (28), and McCullers (29) should be all that's left of that group. While it would've been great to have Verlander (39) back, the emergence of the youth movement in the pitching staff made his loss somewhat expendable. At some point, the nostalgia wears off. Father Time and Mother Nature are both undefeated. If they were to bring Piña back, he should be a part timer transitioning into a hitting coach. Careers come to an end. It's time to start looking at his exit.

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