Monday, October 18, 2021

Five things we learned in NFL Week 4

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2) John Elway: an engaged GM

When the Denver Broncos took Peyton Manning in the 2012 NFL Draft, the future Hall of Famer was an unknown commodity, as was his eventual quarterback successor Brock Osweiler. As Andrew Landry’s masterful post-mortems on John Elway show, the two key decisions Elway made had an almost immediate impact on the team and Manning’s legacy. And in a way, Elway was asked to do that again with Osweiler. Denver still had a dedicated fan base that greeted Osweiler with loud public cheers. But now those cheers were for him. Elway’s bold decision to retain Osweiler before any team else could proved prophetic, as the Broncos beat the Raiders for the second time this season to take a 2-0 lead in the AFC West. The big question now is whether Osweiler should stay or go. As Landry wrote, Elway will have “a lot of discretion” in whether or not to trade him, so things don’t get overly heated right away. But I think Elway has done a very good job over the first two games of this season of making sure he’s informed most of the decision. When the Broncos go into their bye week, I don’t expect to see Osweiler flocking the exits.

3) Where is Cameron Wake?

Sometimes quarterbacks become better under the mentorship of others. Ryan Tannehill began his career as a dropback passer, then he was tutored by David Garrard, and now he’s in the pocket taking care of business. But was Cameron Wake back for the Dolphins against the Chiefs? He has been a massive liability to Tannehill, rushing 13 times for 111 yards, forcing three fumbles and providing constant pressure against Tannehill this season. And it was obvious on Sunday that Wake was short of contract, and he went after Cam Newton, targeting the Panthers star twice on direct snaps. Wake’s presence doesn’t hurt the Dolphins’ defense against the run. He was missed on Sunday. And if the Dolphins are going to contend, Wake needs to be a factor in the pressure department. As Dolphins Nation knows, Wake wasn’t offered a contract extension earlier this year, and he expressed his disappointment, but the team didn’t trade him. He’s hit the market, and the Dolphins need him back.

4) The Patriots are at it again

Did you see New England’s Week 2 victory over the Houston Texans? The Patriots were playing on the road in a frenetic, hostile environment against a team that had the makings of a team destined for the playoffs. New England had a number of questions hanging over their heads entering the season. What made that week so important? Turnovers. The Patriots turned the ball over four times. I wrote back then that this team would respond and they have. On Sunday they forced three turnovers against a Philadelphia team that came into the game ranked second in the NFL in turnovers forced. The Patriots are doing a number on teams, not allowing them to control the football with a clock-killing run game. It’s been a great start for Tom Brady and the Patriots, as evidenced by the win on Sunday night.

5) Miami may be better than 3-0

Yes, the Dolphins are 3-0, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t write this line in Week 3 when everyone was super-hyped about the Browns beating the Bengals, and Josh Gordon’s game with seven catches for 199 yards and a score. Tom Brady was throwing the ball that way all night, and it’s also very obvious that the Dolphins’ pass rush is playing well. But the Buffalo Bills have at least a few weeks to prepare before they host the Dolphins on 16 November. And the Bills have the highest ranking in the AFC and, perhaps, the most promising quarterback for the next decade in Josh Allen. The Dolphins must improve their run game, but Sunday night they were good enough to run a balanced offense against the Bills and improve to 3-0.

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