One of the most oft-repeated articles of faith in professional football is that you can't hide your quarterback. Over the long haul and with few exceptions, it's true. Only a small handful times in NFL history has any team reached the promised land with substandard quarterback play.
The last team to do so was the Denver Broncos in 2015, who had Peyton Manning on his last legs. While it was Gary Kubiak who coached the team to its championship, it was John Fox who presided over the building of the team, and the establishment of its defensive identity as Manning's skills waned. Like few others, Fox has been able to capture wins while asking next to nothing of his quarterbacks.
On Sunday, Fox's Bears team won despite its QB, Mitch Trubisky, attempting only seven passes, the fewest by a winning team since the 2006 Panthers, another team coached by Fox. Chicago's defense is improving, and may already be formidable in the eyes of some. But that doesn't mean what we saw is a sustainable strategy for consistent winning. Trubisky will have to be called on to do more. Bounces won't always go their way. The defense won't always give you a multiple-score lead to salt away over the course of the second half.
No one really knows yet how good Trubisky will be, or even if he will be good. One thing working in his favor for now is that he has a coach that is able to stay competitive while hiding a young quarterback's flaws and not burdening them with impossible expectations.
Farewell Joe Thomas' consecutive snaps streak
Earlier this season, Browns tackle Thomas' consecutive snap streak passed 10,000 -- a mind-boggling number given how pervasive injuries are at the position. The franchise has produced bust after bust through high draft picks and lost scads of games as a result. All along, Thomas was the one reliable exception, playing at a Pro Bowl level amid a sea of incompetence. That streak came to an end on Sunday after Thomas suffered what has been reported as a torn triceps. The final tally was 10,363 snaps. Thomas fittingly received a standing ovation from the Cleveland crowd as he was helped off the field in the third quarter. Titans tackle Taylor Lewan ran halfway across the field to give his condolences and pat Thomas on the shoulder. Hopefully it won't be the end of his career and if he does return, some semblance of respectability will join in on the Browns.
You will believe a safety can kick extra points
It wasn't only Hall of Fame linemen who were knocked from action. Kickers felt the brunt as well. Dan Bailey had to leave the Cowboys win over the Niners in the first quarter after he aggravated a groin injury, leaving safety Jeff Heath to handle kicking duties. And the former high school kicker did pretty well, all told. He made two of his three extra point attempts. The game was never closely contested enough that he had to sweat any of his kicks. After the game, Heath cited being a kicker as "the most fun I had playing football in a long time."
And now, three straight months of wardrobe malfunction jokes
The NFL confirmed that Justin Timberlake will perform the halftime show at Super Bowl LII, 14 years after the infamous incident at Super Bowl XXXVIII with Janet Jackson. Few would contest that Timberlake doesn't have the notoriety to headline. Many fans hold a grudge with him based on what he did and didn't do during the fallout of the famed "wardrobe malfunction". Janet was forced to make a public apology to viewers and had her invitation to the Grammys that year rescinded. Jackson said in an interview with Oprah two years later that she didn't feel that Timberlake helped her in any way during the fallout.
The Steelers and Vontaze Burfict still don't like each other
man dude gotta go man...that's not football AT ALL!! https://t.co/IFbNZPZtWR- Le'Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) October 23, 2017
Some things remain constant in the AFC North: the Steelers beating the Bengals and Pittsburgh players being disgusted with Burfict. The Bengals linebacker refused to shake hands with Steelers captains during the pregame coin toss. Only two plays into the game, Burfict kicked at a Steelers player after being shoved on the ground. The amusing thing is this isn't even all that physical by recent Steelers-Bengals game standards. Burfict's reputation means he is always being watched closely by the league. The fact that there was an exchange with both sides sharing some portion of the provocation means he'll likely avoid another lengthy suspension.
Fan of the Week
"Look, how many times do the Cardinals play in London? We need a Ringo."- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) October 22, 2017
"I don't wanna be Ringo." pic.twitter.com/3uVpEUyjOf
The Arizona Cardinals might as well not even have made the trip to London, given that doing so only resulted in a shutout plus an injury to their starting quarterback that will keep him out for about eight weeks. On the upside, four fans repurposed old Cards jerseys into an amusing Beatles tribute. That's… something. Oh, and Carson Palmer is old enough to have been born when all the band members were still alive.
On Sunday night in foggy Foxboro, the Falcons went more than 80 minutes of gametime between scores, and it took an amazing play from Julio Jones to even get on the board on Sunday night. That said, the Pats defense was supposed to be easy pickings. They had allowed every quarterback they had faced this season to throw for more than 300 yards. Even when Atlanta could move the ball, they squandered opportunities, having one field goal blocked and missing another. In a year where the pecking order of the NFL is muddled, the last thing everyone wants is the Pats defense rounding itself into respectability.
Ted Ginn Jr.
The New Orleans receiver's work on punt return duty was a bit of an adventure early in the Saints-Packers game. Luckily, the Packers bailed him out on one potential fumble by touching him before the ball hit the ground on a fair catch. In the passing game, Ginn was at his best since he was the Panthers no. 1 receiver in their Super Bowl season of 2015. He led all receivers on Sunday with 141 yards and caught all seven passes thrown his way.
The Bears rookie safety made an impressive bit of NFL history against the Panthers by scoring multiple defensive touchdowns on returns of 75 yards or more. He's the first defender to score multiple times in a game since 2012. That he was the only one on either team to find the end zone makes it all the more sweet.
The ongoing saga concerning Zeke's suspension for domestic violence doesn't appear to going away anytime soon. In the meantime, he's making the most of his time on the field. The Cowboys didn't struggle at all in rolling past the 49ers, and their running game was a big reason why the outcome was never in doubt. Elliott rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jaguars defense posted double-digit sacks for the second time this season, putting them on a historic pace of bringing down the quarterback. But how often does anyone get to say nice things about Bortles? Against the Colts he looked downright competent, throwing for 330 yards on just 26 attempts. He had a passer rating over 100 under pressure. What's more, he did all this with stud running back Leonard Fournette inactive. String together a few performances like this and there just might be hope yet for Bortles.
The Jets wouldn't have fared much worse leaving a receiver uncovered in Miami rather than having cornerback Skrine on them. He allowed catches on all seven passes he was targeted on, giving up an astounding 119 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores came in the Dolphins' 17-point fourth quarter charge for the victory. Sure, a 3-4 record is still overachieving compared to how the Jets were expected to do this season. They could have had a key win over a division rival and remained tied for third in the AFC East. Instead, they're basement dwellers.
Well, that was a fun week of Peterson being back. Things were woeful all around for Arizona in his second game with the Cardinals. AP didn't do anything to stand out positively. He rushed for an abysmal 21 yards on 11 carries. The passing game has never been his strength and Sunday was no different -- he dropped two passes and acquitted himself poorly in pass blocking, missing a blitz pickup on the play that got Carson Palmer injured.
One big reason the Bears were able to do next to nothing on offense and still walk away winners was costly turnovers from the Panthers quarterback. Perhaps it wasn't Cam's fault two of them were returned for touchdowns. Still, turning the ball over three times is not often a recipe for success. Newton did lead the Panthers in rushing with 50 yards, so it's not as though he got tons of help from the rest of the offense.
Some truly horrendous drops for Graham in the Seahawks-Giants game at MetLife Stadium. One that would have been a touchdown, another potential big gainer. Graham had a decent statistical season in 2016 for Seattle, but 2017 is shaping up to be a big regression. Ultimately, he just isn't the player he was in New Orleans. For a while fans figured the Seahawks needed to feed him the ball more. Now it's dawning on them he's just not playing that well.
Joe Flacco is hardly blameless for the Ravens offensive struggles in their latest loss, though his line is doing him few favors. Problems were bound to arise when Marshal Yanda went down for the season. Baltimore's line has lacked stability ever since, and Eluemunor was the worst offender against the Vikings, allowing a sack, two hurries, while also committing two penalties.
The week in celebrations
In terms of highly orchestrated and clearly premeditated celebrations, it's hard to beat the hide-'n'-go-seek bit that Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back Le'Veon Bell put on after a touchdown in the second quarter against the Bengals. Incorporating the post as the hiding spot made it very precious and pure.
If you'd prefer a more presumably spontaneous form of exultation, there's Jets receiver Robby Anderson's decision to hoist himself into the fancy field-level seats in Miami and get comfortable. One likely needs to be making something in the neighborhood of NFL player-type money to afford those seats. Even with relaxed celebration rules this year, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see the NFL demand a little something from Anderson for jumping in there.
You've seen the Lambeau Leap. Here's the Luxury Leap. pic.twitter.com/WYwjEkD2Md- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) October 22, 2017