It’s extremely hard to talk about sports today, but this is a sports show. Let’s go back to Thursday night, when the Packers beat the Bears in Lambeau. That made sense. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers and the Bears have Mike Glennon, who, as of this morning, has now lost his job to Mitchell Trubisky. So Week 4 in the NFL felt like it was getting off to a logical and predictable start. And that could not have been further from the truth.
It started yesterday morning with New Orleans shutting out Miami in London. Even saying that sentence sounds weird. Every part of it. But the weirdest thing isn’t that the Saints and Dolphins were playing in England, it’s that the Saints shut out someone anywhere. The only thing predictable about that game were the “hey, guess those English fans know a thing about low-scoring games at Wembley, right” tweets when the Saints led 3-0 at halftime. Hey-o! Real fresh soccer zinger, everybody. New Orleans has been known for many things lately, but a lockdown defense isn’t one of them and yet somehow they put the clamps on the Dolphins.
Speaking of New Orleans, how about the Carolina Panthers coming off a blowout loss to the Saints, only to beat New England in New England? The Carolina Panthers, who lost to the Saints, who lost to the Patriots, just beat the Patriots, in Foxboro. And in doing so, Cam Newton seemed to find 2015 Cam Newton. 316 yards and 3 touchdowns in the air, 44 yards and a touchdown on the ground. But more than the numbers being back, the swagger was back. It’s infectious. When he’s rolling, the team is rolling. When he’s confident, they’re confident. And after beating the Pats in Foxboro, you have to think they’re very confident.
The Pats, on the other hand, are one drive away from being 0-3 at home and have allowed the most points in the NFL. That’s not good. In fact, that’s downright bizarre. I’m not going to be shoveling dirt on the Pats four weeks in. In fact, I’ll probably never shovel dirt on the Pats as long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are there, but that defense is bad and their whole vibe is weird. Almost as weird as the Bills going into Atlanta and beating the Falcons and claiming the lead in the AFC East. Or the Pats being tied with the Jets for second in the AFC East.
Or Joe Flacco taking a break from complimenting Joe Flacco to give this assessment of how Joe Flacco played, “I sucked.” I have always said that saying something sucks is not a take, but if Joe Flacco says Joe Flacco sucks, that’s a take. And a strong one at that. Also, an accurate one. He had 235 yards and a touchdown to go along with two interceptions yesterday against the Steelers. And somehow that felt like a significant improvement over that 28-yard, 2-pick clunker he threw in London against the Jags.
But Joe Flacco saying that Joe Flacco sucked wasn’t as weird as Raiders punter Marquette King getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. How often do you see a punter get a penalty, let alone one for unsportsmanlike conduct?
Or the Rams going on the road to beat Dallas in Dallas. Todd Gurley said that the Rams were going to “whoop up” on the Cowboys. And they did. Rams 35, Cowboys 30. Todd Gurley 121 rushing yards, Todd Gurley 94 receiving yards. That was a monster performance. The biggest total from scrimmage in his career and the most by a Ram in nearly a decade.
But afterwards, he played it cool: “We didn’t quite whoop up on them. But we got the win. We got the win, and it wasn’t just any win. It’s America’s Team. Everybody was watching.”
Everybody was watching and he’s right, that wasn’t just any win. That was a statement. Sean McVay has something working. It’s one thing to beat the Colts in LA. It’s another to beat the Niners in the Bay. But beating the Cowboys in Dallas, that’s saying something. That says that Sean McVay is building something, starting with that offense. They’re leading the league in scoring. Think about that, the Los Angeles Rams are leading the league in points per game right now. They scored 35 points yesterday and it lowered their average.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, remember when Mike Martz said that hiring Sean McVay made him want to “puke.” Neither do I. And neither should anyone else.