Ten Things We Learned in the NFL This Week: Week 5

1. Cam Newton has an issue with female reporters

By most accounts, Cam Newton is a generally likable public person.  He signs autographs for sick kids, does lots of charitable work in the community, has a smile a mile wide.  He’s a major face of the NFL and a MVP quarterback.  He’s also weirdly sexist about women reporters for a guy who has dealt with professional female journalists for his entire career.  After laughing at a concise, well-phrased, professional question from Jourdan Rodrigue about receiver routes, the usually affable Newton explained that he thought it was funny “to hear a female talk about routes”.  Newton has since issued an apology of sorts, claiming that he was being sarcastic and was attempting to pay Rodrigue a compliment, but it has largely fallen flat.  He’s already lost a huge endorsement deal with Dannon in the wake of his comments and the shallow apology.  Newton had some trouble dealing with the media earlier in his career, but had seemed to right the ship recently.  Apparently he still has some work to do.  C’mon Cam.  You’re better than that.

2. The NFL has an injury problem…

And for once, I’m not talking about concussions, though that’s still the NFL’s real life boogieman.  I’m talking about players trying to play injured and having catastrophic results for their careers.  Who can forget Washington sending a visibly injured RGIII onto the field in an ill-fated attempt to win a meaningless game.  Griffin was never the same after that, his career effectively ended before it ever really began despite a comeback attempt in Cleveland last year.  This week, Odell Beckham Jr. broke his previously injured ankle Sunday, ending his season.  Never mind that Big Blue lost THREE other receivers in the same game and their depth chart is now non-existent.  Beckham has been the lone bright spot in what has been a dismal 2017 for Giants fans, but it’s possibly much, much worse for him.  Beckham is one of the best receivers in the league, he’s the face of his franchise, he’s one of the most recognizable players in the NFL, period.  He’s also wildly underpaid on his current contract with scarcely any guaranteed money.  This injury will likely cost him double-digit millions in the long run, as the Giants will probably be scared to pay him what he’s worth until he proves that he’s not a liability.  The Giants will more than likely slap him with a franchise tag and test that surgically repaired ankle next season, and he might never be the same.  Playing on a weakened ankle that had never fully healed, Beckham risked his entire career.  It could cost him a staggering sum if he can’t return to his previous form.  NFLPA, I’m looking at you. Say it with me, guaranteed contracts are NON-NEGOTIABLE.  Football is a dangerous game and this, along with concussion mitigation should be the number one issue for the players’ association.  Careers end as quickly as they begin.  This needs to be a major issue for the player reps, and players need to be willing to fight to make it happen.

3. Adrian Peterson was a bad idea for the Saints

Well, that went almost exactly as bad as we thought it would.  The Saints have shipped Peterson off to the Cardinals for an undisclosed draft pick, where, shockingly, he will likely improve a run game that ranks dead last in the NFL.  His tenure as a piece in the New Orleans system was…lackluster to be kind, totaling only 81 yards over four games.  He was particularly useless against Miami, where he garnered four, count them, four yards from scrimmage.  He’ll be handed the ball far more in Arizona, but don’t get your hopes up too high, Cardinals fan.  Remember the Emmitt Smith era.  An older RB is an older RB, no matter what they were capable of in their prime.

4. It’s Trubisky Time in Chi-Town, still…

I know, I know.  The panic meter in Chicago is on overload after almost a decade of Jay Cutler futility.  The golden boy lost the game Monday night by throwing a bad interception late in the game.   I get it.  It was a bad throw that he shouldn’t have made.   That’s true. But I’m going to overlook it.  Here’s why.  Firstly, the Bears had a chance to win that game late.  The score was tied BECAUSE he kept them in it that far.  Mike Glennon loses that game by two TD’s, easy.  Next, he looked pretty good all game for a rookie QB, in his first game, on the larger-than-life Monday night stage.  Plenty of pressure there and Trubisky, for the most part, looked up to the task.  He threw several really nice balls, especially on third downs and the TD was a perfect example of what he brings to the table.  His ability to move the pocket, direct traffic and make the correct throw to an open man is why the Bears moved up in the draft (probably unnecessarily) to get him.  That Harlem Globetrotters-style double pitch for the point after, pure magic.  The Bears might not be very good this year, but Trubisky should bring some hope to the Windy City for the first time in a long time.

5. The Eagles are flying

Remember when I said I was confused as all get-out by the NFC East? Yeah.  I’m not confused anymore…I’m good.  Carson Wentz has this Eagles team soaring and they look good.  How good?  I’ll tell you.  Not only are they tied for the best record in the NFC, they also have the highest point differential in the NFC.  Not the Packers, not the Lions, not the Panthers…The Eagles.  They are winning, and doing so with style. Their only loss thus far came against the Chiefs, and we all know how that crew is rolling so far this year.

6. Aaron Rodgers, just, wow!

Question: Just exactly how little time do you need to have on the clock to feel safe against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?

Answer:  If you aren’t in the locker room, your lead isn’t safe.

If I was the sort of person who felt such emotions, I’d feel sorry for the Cowboys.  The defeat was only a single point away from being an exact carbon copy of last year’s demoralizing playoff defeat by Rodgers and these same Packers.  Luckily, I’m not sentimental about the Cowboys, because boy, you could see this coming a mile away.  I texted a friend “Too much time” as the Packers marched.  Aaron Rodgers probably won’t win enough titles in his career to make a case for his place on football’s Mt. Rushmore, but wow, is he fun to watch.

7. Big Ben might be striking midnight

Wow, that was ugly.  I’ve mentioned that Jacksonville has been up and down thus far this year.  They have that distinct Jekyll and Hyde vibe, blasting the Ravens apart one week and then losing to the Jets the next is just kinda…weird.  But the Jaguars took another big bite out of the AFC North this week, manhandling the presumed champion Steelers in a 30-9 rout that saw Ben Rothlisberger cough up five interceptions and zero TD’s.  Yes, the Jaguars are having some moments of brilliance, but this is on Ben.  Four of those INT’s were on downfield passes that simply weren’t accurate enough.  He has publically mulled retirement recently, so perhaps his heart’s not in it.  Maybe his throwing shoulder is gassed and he needs to adjust his expectations when it comes to the downfield playbook.  In any case, the Steelers are not the team we thought they were if Rothlisberger is a shadow of his former self.

8. The Seahawks are still in the driver’s seat

Man, the Rams are fun to watch, but until further notice, Seattle still owns the NFC West.  That game on Sunday was a battle of wills and the Seahawks won it.  Seattle has started slowly several times and come roaring back to contention.  This was LA’s chance to put them in a deep hole, and they couldn’t make it happen.  As it stands they sit tied, atop the division.  If Seattle starts putting it all together, as we’ve seen them do previously, the Rams might be out of luck.  On the plus side, I think most Rams fans view this as a several year project to get back to contention, so they’re on the right path.

9. New York, New York

A tale of one city and two teams.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Now, raise your hand if you knew that after five weeks of the season, Big Blue would be a dumpster fire at 0-5 while the J-E-T-S would be a downright shocking 3-2 and have a share of the AFC East lead.  Now stop lying.  The Jets situation will likely become much clearer in the next four weeks, with three divisional games and a tilt against the reigning NFC champion Falcons.  The Giants, on the other hand, are 0-5 and are entirely out of people who catch footballs for a living.  Here’s hoping Eli Manning has some as yet undiscovered chemistry with the practice squad guys…

10. The Texans lost their face, and their edge 

The Texans have looked much, much better since their week one destruction at the hands of the aforementioned Jekyll & Hyde-esque Jaguars, so I won’t put much stock in their losing to the NFL’s top team, the Chiefs, this week.  Where I WILL express my concern for the Texans is in their depth chart on the defensive side of the ball, as Texans defensive poster boy J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus are both likely done for the season.  These two injuries are huge and will drastically effect their ability to rush passers and will likely derail their season if Jadaveon Clowney doesn’t transform into the Incredible Hulk every single Sunday.

Question of the Week: Theresa M, San Francisco, CA.

“Will the NFL owners bow to pressure from the White House and force NFL players to stand for the National Anthem?”

Frankly, I have no idea, but I hope not.  That publicity stunt the VP pulled was about as transparent as a piece of scotch tape and it cost the taxpayers a quarter-million-dollars-worth of travel and secret service protection, but it seems to have turned the screws on the owners.  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seems to think he can strong arm his team into standing all by himself, threatening to bench players as the president has asked. Commissioner Goodell has sent a memo to all teams asking for unity and implying that a rules change at owner’s meetings could codify standing during the anthem as mandatory.  The league seems to think that by providing some sort of pre-game moment for players to express their objections to social injustice, these protests will simply go away.  I find it highly doubtful that even if some sort of league wide concession is made to protests, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are going to show cellphone footage of police brutality on the Jumbotron to bring awareness to the issues of systemic racism.  In the end, protests aren’t convenient.  They aren’t meant to be.  I have no idea when, or where this all will end, but I hope it doesn’t end with a bunch of uber-rich men silencing their employees who are using their platform to challenge racial inequality in an attempt to make our country a better place.

Got a burning question?  Disagree with me? Want more proof?  Want to know my thoughts on your rookie that I didn’t mention?  Hit me in the comments and I’ll answer the week’s best question (or questions) in next week’s edition.


Tom Capo


Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.




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