Five Wide: 2023 Week Seven

By Thomas Willoughby

I’ve got to give a huge shout-out to the nations mobile signal masts. They’ve come on leaps and bounds over the past decade. I remember coming back from a football match in 2014, trying to load up Falcons/Bengals and getting a 140p stream for about 2 minutes before hitting a deadzone. I managed to watch the first quarter of Falcons/Buccaneers on Sunday outside the Royal Albert Hall, AND watched Redzone on the train all the way home later that night. Superb work.

Week seven felt like the week of the upset, to me. Seemingly the easiest weekend to get a Ballsy Callsy point on the board. With that in mind, here are 5 things that aren’t really relevant!


The uniform turnover in the NFL is slow. Very slow. I’ve supported the Atlanta Falcons since 2009, and they didn’t see their uniforms update until a good 10 years after that point. AND the jerseys they were updating from had been in place since about 2003. So, when teams unleash new kits, we’re going to pay attention. This weekend saw two new uniforms hit the league, to varying degrees of success.

Let’s start with the star of the show. The belle of the ball. Philadelphia’s “Kelly Green” jersey’s having seen playing time since 2010, and the excitement was palpable. And rightly so. Just look at that. A delight for the senses.

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Eagles

Meanwhile, the hapless Indianapolis Colts debuted their brand new “Indiana Nights” alternate jersey, to far less enthusiasm. I mean it’s fine, by and large, but it’s not going to win any awards. I saw some compare it to an XFL uni, which might explain why PJ Walker was able to come in and lead the Browns to a victory.

It feels like the people are far more into vintage than they are present-day alternates. People are far kinder to the Falcons when they’re in their black throwbacks with red helmets than they are the red/black gradients that graced London in 2021, for example. There’s a reason why people have yearned for the Buccaneers “creamsicle” jerseys for a while. My suggestion? Embrace it. Wholeheartedly. 2 or 3 “throwback” weekends across the season. Give the people what they want; a fashion show.

Falcons Minute

Time for a Falcons minute. Sorry, folks. Yeah, I know, I’ll be as quick as I can. The Atlanta Falcons are 4-3, sit atop the NFC South, and have just defeated possibly their biggest rival for the divisional crown on the road. Everything’s coming up Atlanta, right? WRONG. IT’S HORRIBLE, ACTUALLY.

Maybe that’s a stretch, but the fanbase is at war, and Desmond Ridder is the cause of it. This week’s battleground: turnovers. Ridder fumbled the ball on 3 separate redzone possessions this weekend, and all three were recovered by the Buccaneers. Granted, the first was a result of poor pass protection. The second, you could argue, was a combination of a bad snap and poor concentration. But the third? He had the ball punched out of his arms a centimetre from the goalline as he’s jogging in for the score. Unforgivable!

The response has been as you’d expect, on both sides. “Against better opposition, we’d be punished”, the skeptics argue, whereas “outside of the fumbles, he looked really good! You can coach out turnovers!” is retorted. Which leads to my question: are turnovers actually something you can eliminate? Daniel Jones has been paid handsomely this off-season, but he fumbles now like it’s his rookie season. Whereas improved technique solves all three fumbles from this weekend. It’s a quandary, and one I expect the wider NFL to pay next to no attention to, because why would you? Join me on the next Falcons minute, where I’ll tell you if they solve that specific issue.

The great Pittsburgh Steeler question

Feel like I have one of these every week. A perpetual state of perplexity. But just who are the Pittsburgh Steelers? Are they good? I don’t think they’re good. I’m routinely told just how horrific Matt Canada and is offense is. But they’re winning, and they’re only a game behind the Baltimore Ravens with a game in hand. So are they lucky? Well, no I don’t think it’s that, either. Though, based on their win this Sunday, it’s difficult for me to argue that they’re not.

Is the defense good? Yes, to be fair. It always is. That’s a staple of Steeler football. And said defense has won them games by themselves this season. But it was an offensive showing that won the day this Sunday, I thought. The Najee Harris TD? Genuinely smart play design. The Pickett/Pickens connection? Stronger than the next leading provider’s fibre optic package. It was weird.

They’re a bit of a wildcard, the Steelers. You don’t really know what you’re getting week to week. But they’re certainly worth watching. The highlights of. Because I’m absolutely not dedicating 3 hours of my Sunday to figuring it out.

Gregory Bull-Associated Press

Sneaky Sneaky

It seems the entire league is obsessed with QB sneaks. Not your traditional QB sneak, that one the Eagles do. The tush push. The brotherly shove. Horrendous nicknames; effective play. When you’re in need of a yard, just push your QB over the line. Philadelphia do it basically every single week, to high levels of success. And people HATE it.

We’re told that the play should outlawed because it’s not really a football play. It’s more akin to a rugby play. I suggest going back and watching early footage of American Football, because it’s a staple. We’re also told that it’s basically impossible to stop, which just isn’t true, is it. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it. I don’t really care about that debate, though. I want to start another debate.

How far do you reckon the Eagles could do that push? Like how many yards do you reckon they could pick up in one go? They had a very long 3rd and 1 on Sunday night and picked it up with ease. Try it from a 3rd and 8 this weekend, Philly, you cowards. I’m trying to see something.

Bill Streicher-USA Today Sports

Viva la Tight Ends

Apparently, it was Tight Ends day on Sunday. Like an actual day dedicated to Tight Ends for…? Some reason? I guess? Either way, it was a weekend filled with Tight Ends at the focal point. Fair play to those “sometimes blocking sometimes catching” boys, because they showed up.

I’ll start with Kyle Pitts, who opened the day catching a pass one-handed behind him, and ended it with a 39-yard nab to put the Falcons in field goal range for the win. Mike Gesiki and Darren Waller both scored vital TDs in their respective sides wins, with the latter ending the day with the most yards receiving of anyone involved in the Commanders @ Giants fixture.

The biggest day, however, was reserved for Travis Kelce who, in between shots of some rando singer in the crowd, put up 179 yards from 12 receptions, and scored a touchdown. He basically secured his side, and my fantasy side, a crucial W. Long may he reign. And long live the tight end: a position that is constantly undervalued, yet vitally important.

Features Image Credit: Mark LoMoglio-Associated Press

Thomas Willoughby