Five Wide: 2023 Week Ten

By Thomas Willoughby

This is it, now, isn’t it? If you’re not in the hunt, you’ve one eye on the games taking place on Saturday nights rather than Sunday. The window to make a run on the playoffs is closing. The bus is about to depart. Get your acts together before it’s too late.

Another blockbuster week in the National Football League, with points everywhere apart from where I was looking, apparently. Let’s break it down, some.

Welcome to reality, Deutschland

That’s more like it! Three games into the experience, Germany has finally seen, what I’d call, an international series game. The bad Colts vs the even worse Patriots. Ugly football, on a cold, wet, disgusting November afternoon. You can’t have the greatest quarterback of all time every week, guys. Sometimes you’ve got to slog it out.

And slog it out they did. Horrid game, really. 10-6, not really a defensive battle, either. Just two bad offenses sometimes making things happen, but often not really doing anything. Mac Jones looking pretty horrid, seeing him replaced by Bailey Zappe on the final drive, only for him to throw a game-losing interception off of a fake-spike? VINTAGE international series, baby!

And that’s that for the international NFL games in 2023. We’ve had some good ones, some bad ones, the Falcons; everything you could hope to expect. Where do we go in 2024? 3 games in London, 2 in Germany, a return to Mexico, and a first-time excursion to Madrid, I dare say.

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Blip over

Well, the 49ers are back. They rolled into Jacksonville on a 3 game losing streak, to face a Jaguars side that has looked every bit the team we thought they were before the season started since traveling over to London. And slapped them left and right. 

Look, they’ve had injuries. To good players, no less. Worse teams than they would have folded completely. And, really, they should have won at least two of the three games they’ve lost recently. They showed up this weekend, regardless. To the point they could just repeatedly give the ball to Christian McCaffrey in an attempt to keep his touchdown streak alive.

So, yeah, the 49ers are back. They host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next weekend, and ought to win that. Then onto the big top-of-the-division clash in Seattle. They’ll win that, too.

We took a deeper dive into the 49ers being back on this week’s podcast.

Tommy DeVito lives with his parents

The Giants’ season is done. They have no offense. They have like no defense. They have nothing, right? What do you get excited for, knowing you’re going to get slapped every single weekend? Very little. So you just latch onto whatever’s going to give you something of a smile. Step forward, Tommy DeVito.

Imagine starting for the New York Giants and being the second name that comes up on Google, by the way. DeVito has some way to ursuping The Four Season’s Tommy DeVito, apparently. Telling the world you still live with your parents will go some way to helping bumping your profile up, however.

This feels unprecedented. A starting NFL quarterback living with their mum and dad feels like a pitch for a failed sitcom. And yet, here we are, as the New York Giants signal-caller waxes lyrical about the benefits of not doing your own laundry. 

I don’t really have anything more to say about this one. Just feels weird to me.

David Zalubowski-Associated Press

What are you McDoing?

Is Sean McDermott’s seat warming up? I feel like Sean McDermott’s seat should be warm. The Buffalo Bills have been one of the leagues premiere outfits over the past few seasons, and entered 2023 with expectations as high as they can be. A tier one AFC side, alongside the Chiefs and the Bengals, we were told. But they’re 5-5, 2nd in the AFC West, and a world away from where they’re expected to be.

Oh, and they’ve just cut loose from Ken Dorsey, their offensive coordinator. Despite being a top 3 offense in terms of EPA this season. For those keeping count, that’s both last season’s offensive and defensive coordinators fired in the space of 9 months. That’s a pretty bold strategy given they’ve been perennial play-off outfits of late.

The Bills situation is a weird one, because they’re clearly good, but they’re just not as good as we thought. They’re a step behind the league’s top sides, and it feels like if they were going to be who we thought they were, they needed to refresh last season or the year before, and just didn’t. I don’t think McDermott’s the cause of the Bills somewhat startling showing this season, but by cutting loose of your coordinators in the manner he has, you’ve effectively said you believe it’s a coaching issue. And if things don’t improve, there’s nowhere really left to hide. The buck stops with you, Sean. Hope you know what you’re doing.

The defense rests (perpetually)

A call to arms to finish us up this week: can the Los Angeles Chargers do something about their defense, please? They’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, dealing the ball to one of the most exciting and varied offenses in the NFL, only to lose every week. Enough is enough, man. Give my man Herbert some help.

We touched on this in the Touchdown Podcast this week (give it a listen, great show), but the Chargers and the Falcons share so many similarities that I feel like I’m watching the exact same team I’ve watched for years, just in blue. The names and faces are different, but the outcome is exactly the same. Matt Ryan spent a career needing to be damn near perfect every week for the Falcons to stand a chance at winning. Grow his hair out and give him some dodgy facial hair, and guess who’s dealing with the same problem on the other side of the country? That’s right!

I watch the LA Chargers of today and get flashbacks to the Dan Quinn-era Falcons. Top(ish) offense, no defense, headed up by an alleged defensive genius. Listen, I do think that Brandon Staley is obviously a brilliant mind, and is going to rebuild his career in a big way as a defensive coordinator somewhere next season. But this experiment feels like it’s run its course. Unless something changes on the field, I’d get that CV updated.

Features Image Credit: Megan Briggs-Getty Images

Thomas Willoughby