Five Wide: 2023 Week FIve
By Thomas Willoughby
Falcons are BACK babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! The TOOK APART a SURGING Houston Texans in CONVINCING fashion. Every cog in the machine was EXCEPTIONAL. Who’s stopping us?!? No one!
In all seriousness, someone must have been feeding Desmond Ridder my tweets all week because that man looked dialed in. A really excellent performance from him, and hopefully this is the start of his NFL career proper.
Another good week of NFL action, another good game in the nation’s capital, and another pile of irrelevant bits and pieces of sift through. Let’s go!
Wilson Watch, Episode 2
I know I mentioned Zach Wilson last week, but I couldn’t tell you how much I enjoyed the Jets victory over the Broncos this weekend. Call it 50% wanting to see the much-maligned Wilson turn it around, and 50% wanting to see the reputation of Sean Payton utterly destroyed in oxygen-bereft conditions. But, as I enjoyed Redzone post-Falcons victory, we kept cutting back to Mile High Stadium (or whatever the sponsor is this week). He made some throws, but he missed on some throws. But, by and large, he looked pretty alright?
Up until Sunday, only two sides hadn’t taken an offensive snap while leading a game: The Jets and the Giants. The Jets snapped that in pretty difficult conditions. On Sunday, they face the Eagles. Arguably Zach’s toughest test yet. Expect another Wilson-watch in 7 days time.
Every year, without fail, that question rears its head: What’s next? What comes next for the NFL outside of the United States? Will the international games see an expansion? Is the plan of a permanent franchise stationed overseas still on the cards? What’s next? From my standpoint, it felt like the prospect of a London franchise, for example, was not the priority for the NFL, and they’d sooner have every team playing at least once overseas every season. I think Sunday pushed the idea of the overseas franchise(/franchises?) back into consideration.
One of the prominent arguments against an overseas expansion has been that of competitiveness. Can teams based outside of the US really compete with the rest of the NFL, when they have to travel as far and as often as they might have to? The Jaguars playing back-to-back games here proved to be an interesting experiment, in that regard. One game at Wembley against a side that isn’t so hot, and another at Tottenham against a side that is very much at the top table. They got it done. Both times. And, let’s be honest, never looked like losing in either fixture.
There are two ways of looking at Sunday’s 25-20 Jaguars victory. Either, the Jaguars received some sort of unfair advantage by stationing themselves in London for 10 days, or the Jaguars proved that it doesn’t matter where you play, planning, execution, and talent, is the best advantage. I’m leaning towards the latter, and I think the NFL will want to explore this further. So, I’m making a prediction: within the next 3 seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars will either play 2 overseas games in 2 different countries (Republic of Ireland and UK), OR two home games in London in non-consecutive weekends. Let’s really explore just what you can do to a team before pushing all our chips into that suggested European division.
Songs of Plays
So I saw this from The Overlord on Saturday, and it made me giggle:
Bren saying this for years! Was workshopping something to the tune of Baker Street a good decade ago...— Simon Carroll (@NFLDraftSi) October 7, 2023
"You used to throw the ball to Cole Beasley. You used to throw the ball to Cole Beasley. But Dez Bryant. Dez Bryant now."
Cue the saxophone! #Cowboys https://t.co/pqMu10eUwe
Saw THIS on Sunday, and it got a hearty chortle out of me:
THROW IT TO PUKA— JP Acosta (Pug Dederson Stan Acct) (@acosta32_jp) October 8, 2023
THE BEST RECEIVER WEST OF MINNESOTA https://t.co/bpbUT5jC6O
And so, I’ve spent the past two days trying to come up with some NFL-specific chants. Si’s right, if we’re gonna play games over here, we need to properly make it our own. We, as a collective, missed a trick by not pulling out “Diggs, Diggs will tear you apart. Again.” on Sunday afternoon. I’m not totally convinced that the league is ready for “My old man said be a Raiders fan…” (fans of our football know where that chant goes). Someone help me out, hit me with your best chants.
I was chatting to a mate of mine, big 49ers fan, on Monday evening, when he came out with the following: “I now think he’s just good and would be good anywhere not just with the 49ers”. We were, of course, talking about Brock Purdy, the most relevant member of the Irrelevant family in years. After the 49ers wiped the floor with a Cowboys side some had title aspirations for, it’s difficult for me to really argue.
For context, that man has been a stout Garoppolo fanboy since before the 9ers traded for him. It hurt him for San Francisco to move on, I just know it. And it’s taken some time for him to come around to Purdy. But the season he’s having (let’s be honest, the career he’s having), is enough to swing anyone’s opinion. Purdy has not lost a game that he has played fully. His one “defeat” as a starter came in the NFC Championship game last season, where his night was cruelly cut short thanks to an injury that required off-season surgery. He’s recovered, and then some.
Brock Purdy has been so impressive that the 9ers were willing to jettison the quarterback they gave up a billion first-round picks for in 2021. Trey Lance shifted for peanuts in favour of a former 7th-round pick. It’s paying off. Clearly. The question, my friend has posed, is not whether the 49ers go to the Super Bowl, but whether they go 20-0
I have reservations over whether Purdy is viable in any other situation. You know me, I’m the Shanahan guy. That guy turned water into wine at the running back position and has now decided to create an offense that doesn’t require what would traditionally be considered top-level talent. And who are we to argue against him? It’s working. Oh, how it’s working.
Listen, they might still turn this around...
A very short word on the New England Patriots. They’re in a hole, aren’t they? 1-4, and even that one win is looking pretty sorry in hindsight. I really thought they were going to be well organised, a bit of a thorn in the side of teams this season. You don’t develop the dynasty they’ve had without some wherewithal. But. Man. These Pats. They might be cooked, you know?
Their offense is just a disaster. 3 points in the past two weeks, Mac Jones hooked on both occasions. The vintage Patriots of old were never offensive juggernauts (most of the time), but you would rely on a really solid defense. But the Patriots have given up 72 points in the past fortnight. Granted, some of that stems from their offensive struggles, but come on.
What comes next? Bit of master vs. apprentice stuff this weekend with the equally incompetent Las Vegas Raiders, but if the Patriots are going to be anything in 2023, they’ve got to win this one. And if they don’t? Look, even now I’m still reluctant to write these off. Even now. Ridiculous.
Features Image Credit: Ian Walton-AP Photo