Hello football fans of America! If you’ve been watching these first couple of weeks of the NFL, you may have noticed that something does not seem right about the notions you may have had prior to the start of the season. Enigmas such as the resurgence of Fitzmagic or the disappearance of a thought-to-be Super Bowl favorite Saints team have unraveled right in front of our very eyes. I’ll be here on a weekly basis to inform you of which takes are on point and which ones are way off as we look ahead to the rest of the season. Use this column as you please, whether that’s for fantasy advice or just a place to think and discuss. Here we go.
Take: Fitzmagic is for real.
On point. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Ryan Fitzpatrick surpassed all expectations filling in for a starter and now looks to be competing for the starting job. Fitzmagic is in the air, and he doesn’t look like he’s stopping any time soon. While the secondaries this journeyman quarterback has faced to open the season haven’t been anything special, Fitzy still earned the top PFF grade amongst quarterbacks both weeks with grades of 96.1 and 96.3. He won’t be slowing down this week either as the Bucs take on the porous Steelers defense that just let up 6 TDs through the air to first-year starter Patrick Mahomes. There is no doubt in my mind that this Harvard grad has outplayed, outsmarted, and out-alpha’ed Jameis Winston. Famous Jameis has never even had a game worthy to place him at the top qb spot for any given week, and Fitzpatrick just showed us he is fully capable of doing just that – two weeks in a row! Additionally, he never threw a turnover-worthy pass against the defending Super Bowl champs, and he is leading the entire league in big-time throws; this is no fluke. This is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s team now, and there is no stopping him (until Father Time comes to catch him and rip Tampa out of the playoff race).
Take: The Browns are still the Browns.
Way off (okay maybe not way off, but still sort of off you know? Like in a Zane Gonzalez sort of way). Yes, the Browns still haven’t won a game since Obama was president. Yes, the most troubled-but-also-possibly-the-most-talented receiver in the league just got traded away. Yes, Hue Jackson is still a joke of a head coach. But the Browns do not look like the Browns we have been used to watching the past few centuries (or what feels like it). This roster is brimming with talent at almost every position, and this defense especially looks ready to prove doubters wrong as they have already limited the perennial offensive powerhouses of Pittsburgh and New Orleans to a combined five touchdowns. These two teams combined for an astounding 6.1 touchdowns per game last season, so the Browns have brought this figure down by almost 20%. Additionally, Cleveland has improved from the worst team in the NFL at generating turnovers to become the top-ranked defense in this regard so far this season with eight (yes, you read that correctly) takeaways in two games. Now I’m not saying that the Browns will end up with a winning season or even many wins in general, but there’s something to believe in here
Take: The Miami Dolphins have no chance of making the playoffs.
Way off. Remember the last time the Dolphins made the playoffs? It feels like that was forever ago, but this team played in a Wild Card game in January of 2017. One of the biggest blows to their actual chances of winning that year was the loss of Ryan Tannehill, and after last year’s debacle with the Smokin’ Jay Show, they are ready to win again. This Miami team just persevered through the longest game in the NFL since the merger, and then they proceeded to go on the road to a divisional rival and won both games. Anyone that is still in doubt of the capabilities of Adam Gase and his players better be prepared to be disappointed when their team takes a surprise loss to the Dolphins this year. Now I’m not saying this is a special roster by any stretch of the imagination, but the defense has pieces such as first-round draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary and newly-acquired vet Robert Quinn to lead this stout front seven; in fact, Miami has only allowed 79 rushing yards per game so far this season. On the offensive side of the ball, Ryan Tannehill 2.0 is back and ready to rumble as Gase’s scheme is built around what his quarterback can do. Add in speedster Kenny Stills and emerging halfback Kenyan Drake, and this team could really compete with most others up until the very end of the game. A faceoff against the Gruden Grinders (Oakland Raiders) at home should be another win in the books for the ‘Phins, so don’t be surprised when they’re still playing for a Wild Card spot in Week 17. I still think this roster needs another year before reaching its full potential, but to say that this team doesn’t have any shot at playoffs this season is absurd.
Photo Credit: Moe Epsilon