Up The Gut: Week 4

The New England Patriots have "leaks in the foundation," Shaun Morash says

The DA Show
September 28, 2018 - 9:29 am

USA Today Images

Categories: 

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

The 1-2 Patriots, feels strange to type it, read it, and re read it. Yet here we are with New England at 1-2 for just the 3rd time in Bill Belichick's era as head coach. Only 1 of those previous 2 seasons resulted in a Patriots Super Bowl, that being Tom Brady's 1st year as a starter in 2001. The other was in 2012 when they lost to the Ravens in the AFC Championship game.

1-2 is significant, maybe not for other organizations as much, but for the Patriots where anything short of a trip to the Super Bowl is now a disappointment. This Patriots team feels different, losing to their former defensive coordinator by double digits, losing back to back games by double digits, and having a star player openly admit Belichick had a trade in place for him to leave only for Rob Gronkowski himself to nix it. The leaks in the foundation are apparent, how much water the team takes on is another question. Many Patriots haters and frankly NFL fans outside of Boston have waited for this team to hit a down swing, it may not be a steep decline, but the downswing is undeniably here even if it is at it's earliest stages. 

Ten Yard Gain

1-Roughing the passer calls are ruining the league, this isn't hyperbole. When you have a star quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger essentially admit the same, when these rules are intended to help someone like him, that should be the most alarming wakeup call the NFL competition committee needs to not wait until next year to do something. Make a mid-season adjustment, finally we have guys not targeting knees or heads, yet they are still getting flagged? What exactly are we supposed to teach players at all levels now?

2- Andrew Luck being pulled off the field in favor of Jacoby Brissett was a story line not discussed enough following Sunday's games. Luck came out this week in defense of himself saying he can make "all the throws," while admitting his deep ball can get better. If the argument Frank Reich has for not letting Luck get that crack is simply not trusting the shoulder strength yet, then why have Luck uncork 53 passes in Week 1? It seems like much have the last 2 years is staying the same when it comes to Luck, a bunch of guessing and no real answers on his recovery. 

3-The Jets made a mistake racing to trade Teddy Bridgewater before the season began, and they need to look no further than the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo as to why. The Jets did not want a quarterback controversy if Darnold struggled early, especially in a town hungry for winning football. In that mindset, they traded Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints for what amounted to a 3rd round pick, and an expected late one if you were a Saints believer preseason. Had they held onto Teddy, and dealt with some idiotic fans yelling for him to start, they could have held a team that believes they are a contender who loses a quarterback to injury, as seems to happen every year, over a fire for Teddy B. In come the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo going down for the season after 3 weeks. The Jets almost assuredly would have gotten at least a 2nd rounder in return. They played the panic game rather than the waiting game and lost. 

4-Bill O'Brien is being exposed for being the lousy head coach we should have accepted he was years ago. He was supposed to be the quarterback whisperer that could never find a quarterback. Then last year happened, and Case Keenum took off under the watchful eye of Pat Shurmur in a way he never could under Bill O'Brien and Jeff Fisher. With Deshaun Watson healthy this year many had the Texans as a Super Bowl pick, instead their season is now over before October and they have Bill O'Brien to thank for that. 

5-Earl Thomas is presenting the most unique case for wonder whether a player is being selfish or not. Unlike Le'Veon Bell, Thomas did show up for this teammates without a contract on the eve of Week 1, but after his, ass-kissing, for lack of a better term vs the Cowboys on Sunday I can't help but feel uneasy about Thomas even being on the field for that Seahawks team. He admits he won't even practice with a head ache, and who can blame him, but openly flaunting his not-caring about the Seahawks themselves as he wears their uniform and practically begs an opponent to trade for him is a contract situation I could never have imagined unfolding. 

6- I'll say it since nobody else will, the Bucs sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick over Jameis Winston, even if it is just one more week is the wrong move. At 2-1 the Bucs have good momentum, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's 2nd half on Monday Night to get the Steelers on the ropes, only to be too little too late, had many in Tampa still believing in the beard. Let's not forget the real Ryan Fitzpatrcik appeared int he 1st half of that game, throwing the Bucs into a loss with 3 interceptions. Tampa has 13 game left to figure out if Jameis Winston is a franchise quarterback or not, because we already know Fitzpatrick is not. Start Jameis now, before leaving you with more questions than answers in the off season. 

7-A legend was truly born in Cleveland Thursday Night. Baker Mayfield's 1st regular season game that leads to him being the permanent starter felt a lot like Tom Brady's shot to take over the Patriots in 2001. Quarterback's ahead of each of them just waiting for a chance, and then they play the New York Jets, Drew Bleadsoe and Tyrod Taylor go down, and legends born in cities that had become accustomed to losing. Now I am not saying Baker Mayfield is the legend Tom Brady is, but at least for one night, in a football town dying for a moment, Baker Mayfield gave Cleveland a glimmer of hope that things will be different. 

8- Jon Gruden was supposed to bring relevance back to the Raiders ahead of their move to Vegas, instead they will be anything but relevant. 0-3 and counting, a defense that can no longer rush the passer, and an offense as unimaginative as it is boring. These poor fans in Oakland have to watch pig slop in their final days before the franchise packs up in the Bay Area for good. 

9- Can anyone play defense in the NFC South? The Panthers, Saints, Falcons, and Bucs are putting up points like the division has become the BIG 12 and playing defense like it is as well. If scoring is your thing buckle in and circle any NFC South vs NFC South showdown that appears on a schedule, without a doubt the division winner will have the worst defense of any of the 12 playoff teams when the season ends, barring of course multiple BIG 12, err, I mean NFC South teams in the playoffs. 

10- Alex Smith is going to get a team to the playoffs and do nothing with them again isn't he? Perhaps that is an overreaction to the 2-1 Redskins start but it is certainly on the table. If not for the Bills in Week 3, Washington would have had the most surprising win of the weekend that was. Yet here they are, a Redskins team that looks better than it did with Kirk Cousins, yet we all know how this ends, without a Super Bowl, but perhaps with a Wild Card berth that goes nowhere, in typical Alex Smith fashion.

Five Games To Chew On

5- Eagles @ Titans: The Titans and Eagles represent the two 2017 post season teams that have been the most beat up on the injury front in 2018. The Tennessee offense hasn't had a healthy Marcus Mariota, and the new coaching staff phased out Rishard Matthews so much that he essentially quit the team, The Eagles didn't look like the 2017 Eagles in their nail biting win over Indianapolis last week. Just when we count the Titans out, the find a way to win games, albeit ugly, don't be shocked if we see one here.

4-Saints @ Giants: Each of the last 3 meetings between these two teams, and legendary quarterbacks, have resulted in the game being won one way or the other by a field goal. The Saints defense may be what helps cur a Giants drought of not scoring 30 points in a game dating back to 2015. This game will feature two mismatch nightmares out of the backfield in Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley. Expects points galore in this late window game for CBS Sunday.

3-Bengals @ Falcons: The 2nd straight road game at an NFC South team for the Bengals, where they hope to have a healthy AJ Green, or at the very least AJ Green period, in what should be an aerial back and forth in the dome. The Falcons lost Ricardo Allen for the season, meaning just 4 weeks in neither of their starting safety's will play again this season. While far from a must win for either team, both are setting up as contenders in very competitive divisions, and this game could make the different between 9-7 and 10-6 for either 

2-Ravens @ Steelers: This rivalry is not as fun as it was when Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu were flying around, but this game still presents a big one on Sunday Night. The Steelers defense almost blew 20-point halftime lead on Monday Night, while the Ravens rallied from a double digit deficit early on Sunday to the Broncos. The whole the Steelers dug themselves can only get deeper if they take 2 steps backward from an opportunity creating defense in Baltimore. We may be nearing the Joe Flacco-Ben Roethlisberger division rivalry this season, though not nearly as tasty as Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady, it has still been a lot of fun.

1-Dolphins @ Patriots: Imagine waking up Monday, grab the coffee, turn on your car, and The DA Show's open is discussing the fact the Patriots will end September 3 games back of the Dolphins for 1st place in the AFC East. That is on the table if Miami does the unthinkable and pin the Patriots down while they have fallen. Everyone and their mother believes the Patriots will have the last laugh and "be fine" despite their 1-2 start and back to back blow out losses, well it's time for them to prove it.

My Picks

Oh boy, another 1-2 week has us at a losing 4-5 for the season. Time to finish September strong:

Texans +1 @ Colts: The Texans season has spiraled, beyond their preseason hype. Are they 3-13 bad? Talent still says no. The wins, as few as they may end up being, have to start to come. The Texans defensive line, namely JJ Watt with 3 sacks in Week 3, are starting to come alive. The Texans bugaboo has been their offensive line, and the Colts don't have the pass rush to take advantage. Both quarterbacks will make plays in this game, but ultimately Deshaun Watson finally makes too many plays to DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans win this road divisional game outright.

Jaguars -7.5 vs Jets: Sam Darnold is nearly on pace to tie or break Peyton Manning's rookie record for interceptions. Their offensive line has been low key abysmal in pass protection. The Jaguars present the best defensive front in football, and a corner in Jalen Ramsey that will make you pay for a mistake. This, to me, is the worst possible x's and o's matchup for this Jets offense. The Jaguars offense won't be boggled up for 2 straight weeks, give me Jacksonville in a romp. 

Lions +3 @ Cowboys: ​Win or lose, the clapper is going to clap. Jason Garrett and the Cowboys offense continues to sputter, and coming back home won't change that. They are favored in this game on name brand only, knowing this country of Cowboy homers can't resist betting them vs a Lions team nobody believes in. Defensively, Matt Patricia's defense has to feel confidence and be licking it's chops to shut down Zeke and Dak. This feels like a game where Matt Stafford makes more big plays then big turnovers for once, and the Lions win outright.

Football Food of The Week

Macaroni and Cheese Spring Rolls. You want to get nuts? Let's get nuts! -(Frank Costanza voice.) Full disclosure I have yet to make these and only stumbled upon them on social media this week, but if you have read this column before you know anything, flaky, crispy, fried, and gooey is a win on a football weekend. This checks all the boxes, a true 5-tool snack. Picture sitting down, 12 hours, remote greasy, and your just looking to nervously pick at something that leaves your tongue tickling. Spring rolls without veggies and with noodles and cheese, yeah that's a bigger win than the Bills had last week. For the recipe, check it out here.

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.