NFL Football 2012: Lessons Learned So Far

By Kevin Goodwin

After four weeks of the NFL season we have learned a lot. We’ve been shocked by some calls and non-calls by the replacement referees; baffled by the lack of offense by some teams; and confused how a few teams got off on wrong foot. In no particular order, here is a breakdown of the first four weeks of the season.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and the officials finally came to terms on an eight-year deal, putting an end to the replacement referees. While there were many bad calls – most noticeably the Golden Tate ‘touchdown’ catch against the Packers on Monday Night Football. Ironically that was the last call the replacement officials made as the league and regular officials came to terms and were back in games for Week 4. They showed some rust as there were a few questionable calls. The thing we all have to remember is there are going to be miscalls throughout the year, but hopefully they won’t be big enough to make any headlines. It’s time to focus on football and not any off the field issues.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton
New Orleans coach Sean Payton is still suspended
and his team has struggled out of the gates
without him on the sideline.

Despite not having head coach Sean Payton this season no one thought the Saints would start the year going 0-4 heading into Week 5. Does a coach really make all the difference? New Orleans is showing it does matter. The team still has a ton of explosiveness on offense and the defense, on paper, should be better. Can they turn things around though? I think they can but it’s probably too late to make a difference. The Falcons are off to a hot start and clicking on all cylinders. Barring a complete meltdown in Atlanta, the Saints will be fighting for a Wild Card spot for the postseason. They have an uphill battle, but Drew Brees is the quarterback and leader that could will his team to a complete turnaround. This is going to be an interesting team to watch the remainder of the year solely based on all the drama surrounding the franchise.

The New York Jets shocked the entire country by putting up big numbers in Week 1 versus the Bills. After being the last team to score a touchdown in the preseason, I wondered if they would ever score when it counted. The Jets proved us wrong for a week that the offense can move the ball, but we now know it was against a sub-par defense. New York is struggling to get all the players on the same page and are without Santonio Holmes for the rest of the year. This offense is out of sync and needs help. Fans won’t be happy to hear this, but it is going to be a long season for the Jets. They won’t be making the playoffs and have a lot of issues that need to be addressed.

NFL Football 2012: Lessons Learned So Far
Cleveland can’t catch a break this season – like
many past years – and aren’t giving fans
much to cheer about.

Another team that is playing like Jekyll and Hyde is Dallas. The Cowboys beat up on the defending Super Bowl Champions in the first game of the year. Since that game Dallas has not looked good. The defense gave up some big plays in Week 4 and can’t carry the team. Tony Romo tied a career worst five interceptions versus the Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 4 and got replace by backup Kyle Orton late in the game. Orton led the team to a touchdown drive, showing Romo a few things. I don’t think it is time to bench Romo, but the Cowboys went out and got a veteran backup for a reason. Romo has gotten banged up the past few years leading Dallas to turn to Jon Kitna. No offense to Kitna, but a team won’t win many games with him under center. Orton may get a shot in Big D sooner rather than later and if he does Romo’s future with the ‘boys could be coming to an end. The Cowboys could always trade Romo later in the season if the team continues to struggle, but that is something we can discuss in another blog.

We could have another 0-16 team this year. The Browns, despite putting up some good offensive numbers, can’t stop anyone on defense. They don’t have enough fire power to get the job done and will have a difficult time finding a win. They play in an extremely tough division and the way things are going probably will go winless in the AFC North. Cleveland is the only team left without a win and I don’t see this losing streak ending anytime soon.

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