In the past 40 years, there have been two quarterback draft classes that have been revered among all others: 1983 and 2004.
1983 gave the NFL the likes of John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, three Hall of Famers. 2004 provided Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. It's too early to pronounce whether the 2016 belongs in the same breath as those other two, but it's at least an idea to entertain.
In their second seasons, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Dak Prescott appear as though they'll be the face of the league for years to come. On Sunday, Wentz and Goff each went off for four touchdowns in victory. The way their teams are playing, they could be meeting in January with a Super Bowl trip on the line. Oh, and there's also Jacoby Brissett, who is proving himself to be a worthy starter eking out wins behind a deeply flawed Colts team.
Early promising returns can be deceptive. In 2012, you could be excused for labeling Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as inevitable all-timers based on their respective rookie season. So it may be some time before we can say for sure one way or another that the 2016 class is one for the ages. We can claim with confidence that 2016 is already better than 2007's QBs. Apologies, Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.
A winning culture respects team photo day
In a last-minute decision before kickoff against Cincinnati, the Jaguars announced that they were benching star running back Leonard Fournette for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. It didn't take long for the news to come out that the move was partly due to Fournette missing the team photo day. Some would question the need to possibly put your team at a competitive disadvantage just to drive home the point about team photos, but at least it didn't come back to haunt the Jags on Sunday, who won handily 23-7. Mostly what this says is that the Bengals are the type of opponent against whom coaches can use to put on a sanctimonious moral stand without too much risk of repercussions.
Cincy will show you what an undisciplined team looks like
Rightly or wrongly, the Bengals have cultivated a reputation for being reckless hotheads. A.J. Green is probably the player least responsible for this, and yet you couldn't tell much based on what happened Sunday. After being shoved by cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Green more or less applied a rear choke on the Jags corner, hurled him in the ground and started throwing punches. Both Green and Ramsey were ejected. The decision to toss Ramsey was questionable based on the footage available. Sure, Ramsey pushed Green after the play, but it was Green's reaction that elevated the situation to dangerous. Analysts posited that Ramsey might have said something extreme, which the refs heard and decided was not acceptable. Either way, those two players are spoiling for more.
Where exactly is the Titanic going, Cam?
I don't think Cam Newton has ever seen the end of Titanic pic.twitter.com/UVjH9uS8XO- NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) November 5, 2017
Discussing the loss of receiver Kelvin Benjamin in a trade this past week, Cam Newton replied that the Titanic has to keep moving. I'm not a starting quarterback or anything, but that's not the metaphor I would willingly apply to my team in the middle of the season, especially when things are going generally well. Or maybe Cam fancies himself the equivalent of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
This prevent defense needs more preventing
This almost never happens, and he made it look easy pic.twitter.com/wWkAFtzbqu- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) November 5, 2017
Though the Cowboys still won by multiple scores over the Chiefs, some lax defense at the end of the first half made the game closer than it should have been. On the last play of the half, Dallas dropped eight into deep coverage, assuming a conventional Hail Mary. Kansas City instead threw a short pass to Tyreek Hill and let a couple other receivers block for him downfield. The gambit worked, thanks to some nice blocks, and the fact that Hill is swift enough that he makes eluding three tacklers look like the easiest thing in the world.
Fan of the week
A+ sign from a Boise fan at today's game (📷 by Brian Losness/USA Today Sports) pic.twitter.com/rpjcWtSSVp- Chris Murray (@MurrayRGJ) November 5, 2017
Technically this is a college fan from Saturday, but it certainly fits into the current NFL zeitgeist. As for Colin Kaepernick, he stayed in the news on Sunday, and not just because he was being compared favorably to a lot of reverse quarterbacks pressed into action due to injury. Early in the day, Jay Glazer reported that the Texans have been willing to consider the idea of bringing on Kaepernick after Deshaun Watson went down. NFL teams often use access reporters like Glazer to float potential ideas and give the team an idea of what public reaction will be like without actually doing anything. If it's less divisive fans you seek, I think we can all unite in the view that this kid is not made out to be a football player. That's just a natural aversion to the football you're never going to overcome, kiddo.
Scouting report for this baby: doesn't want the ball, not a leader, not pro ready pic.twitter.com/8lKITwQAp8- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) November 5, 2017
There was a wholesale lack of effort being displayed by the Giants secondary, but Goff still stuck some impressive throws in as he passed for 311 yards and four touchdowns against New York in a 51-17 victory. With Seattle losing on Sunday, it's starting to seem like the Rams may very well be in the mix for a first-round bye in the second half of the season. Quite a leap from being mired in also-ran status under Jeff Fisher for the past few years.
The Eagles poured it on the vaunted Broncos defense, winning 51-23, and the running back for which Philly traded during the week contributed to the effort. Ajayi scored in his first game as an Eagle on a 46-yard run. His other seven carries went for 31 yards, for a respectable clip of more than four yards per.
The contract status of Washington's inside linebacker will never garner the attention that Kirk Cousins does. The team would be well-advised to re-sign him before he becomes a free agent in the spring, though. He's been hailed for his speed and leads the NFL in tackles. He posted 11 more in Sunday's 17-14 win in Seattle, as well as a sack. Cousins might have led a dramatic scoring drive at the end, but it was the Washington defense who kept them in it for most of the game.
No doubt it's a pleasant surprise to find your defense suddenly facing Tom Savage instead of Deshaun Watson. A performance that includes two interceptions and two forced fumbles is impressive against any competition. The Colts' 20-14 victory in Houston likely saved head coach Chuck Pagano's job for at least another week, so hopefully he gives his linebacker some nice praise during film breakdowns.
The Titans safety had two interceptions of Joe Flacco In Tennessee's 23-20 win over the Ravens. That gives him five picks over the past two games, tying him for an NFL record in consecutive games since the merger.
Brock's duty was to keep the Broncos' starting QB job warm until 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch is healthy enough to take another stab at it. The problem is, Denver might be effectively out of the playoff picture by the time that happens. At 3-5, the Broncos can only afford to lose one or two games in the second half of the season to have any hopes of returning to the postseason. The defense is usually going to be more effective than it was on Sunday, and they'll also need better quarterbacking than the multiple-turnover game Osweiler turned in.
How does a six-catch, 118 yard performance earn you demerits? When you completely honk a wide-open touchdown catch on a fourth down in the fourth quarter in a game that your team loses by three points. It's really hard to overstate how bad of a drop this was. Jones is at least five yards from the nearest defender and doesn't have to extend himself in any way to make the catch.
What have you done with my Julio Jones? pic.twitter.com/9h00aS4hGF- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) November 5, 2017
The Seahawks kicker went 0-for-3 in Seattle's loss. Had he hit any of them, Seattle would have at least been tied at the end of regulation. They might very well have won, given that the Seahawks attempted twice to go for two after touchdowns in the second half rather than kick extra points. Walsh had only missed once prior to this week. Now, however, he's at the same 12-for-16 season number that got him cut from the Vikings in 2016.
After getting a new five-year deal back in March, the Bengals corner has rewarded the team with constant struggles in 2017. Week 9 was the latest inglorious chapter, as he gave up nine catches on 11 targets for 93 yards against the Jaguars. If this is the year sweeping changes finally come to Cincinnati, dealing with Kirkpatrick is likely to be among the chief player issues.
The Giants secondary
The unit deserves this distinction for allowing the Rams to convert a 3rd-and-33 with a receiver screen. Were that the only break down on the day, New York might have had a chance at a competitive game. Instead, the talk over the next week or so will focus on whether the team has quit on head coach Ben McAdoo.
The week in celebrations
A major theme in group celebrations so far has been pantomiming other team sports, whether that's baseball or basketball or bobsled racing. As we saw with the Steelers' hide-and-seek celebrations, referencing wholesome games that kids play is another theme that will be mined by creative celebrants. The Chiefs had their own elaborate entry on Sunday. After Travis Kelce scored, he and two teammates put on a pretend sack race that Kelce also happened to "win." That may have disguised the fact that Kansas City has now dropped three of its last four.
Travis Kelce: "okay I'm down with the potato sack race idea so long as I win" pic.twitter.com/l9vTIFdhUI- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) November 5, 2017
If you're keeping score of all the niche sports referenced in celebrations this season, well, that's nice. Now you can check off surfing, as Titans receiver Rishard Matthews climbed on his imaginary board and rode the waves after getting in the end zone. It's worth noting the Titans rookie contract with Marcus Mariota reportedly included a clause that forbid him from surfing. I wonder if that also applies to the pretend end zone variety. Only the lawyers know for sure.
Hang Tenn. 🌊🏄🤙 pic.twitter.com/784dNIuEdv- Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 5, 2017