- Plus, an emerging corner in Dallas and a draft steal in Washington
1. Dolphins coach Adam Gase’s ability to relate to all different types of people in all kinds of different situations—and lead as a result—was a big piece of what the Miami brass liked about him as they pursued him two years ago. Between the Hurricane Irma fallout, the Ryan Tannehill injury, and now the Chris Foerster mess, this season has shaped up to be an awfully good test of those qualities.
2. Teddy Bridgewater’s knee will be evaluated on Monday, and the Vikings quarterback is eligible to return to practice on Wednesday. And the team is optimistic he’ll be physically able to practice soon. Given Sam Bradford’s lingering bone bruise, it’s not hard to see a scenario where Bridgewater gets his job back before season’s end. Coach Mike Zimmer told me over the summer that if Bradford played well, there’d be no decision to make, otherwise, the door would be open. The door is open.
3. OT Branden Albert’s flirtations with the Seahawks and Giants are interesting. After trading for the ex-Dolphin, and enduring his holdout, the Jaguars were unconvinced that Albert was in the NFL for anything more than one last paycheck. And those in Miami saw a guy worn down physically by a litany of injuries. We’ll see if either Seattle or New York, both in dire need of line help, see a guy who’s fire has been reignited.
4. Patriots QB Tom Brady’s sore left shoulder is absolutely worth monitoring, because of the amount of damage he’s taken early this year. He absorbed 15 sacks in 12 games last year. He’s already taken 16 through five games this year. Left tackle Nate Solder has struggled, which has exposed problems elsewhere, and tight end Dwayne Allen hasn’t been the blocker that he was in his younger years in Indy. Brady once led a team—the 2011 Patriots—to a Super Bowl with a slightly separated non-throwing shoulder. But he was 34 then, and that injury came much later in the season.
5. If there’s a positive to come from Dallas’ loss to Green Bay, it’s that rookie corner Jourdan Lewis has emerged as a very viable option. He played 80% of the team’s defensive snaps on Sunday. Add that to the return of suspended DL David Irving, and there’s reason to believe the Cowboys’ defense will ascend in the coming weeks.
6. In the end, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were just better options for the Saints than Adrian Peterson. But it can be instructive to look at Peterson’s final days in Minnesota, too—when he was hurt last year, Vikings coaches felt like it opened the offense up because Jerick McKinnon was far more versatile. Peterson’s lack of versatility didn’t help in New Orleans either. At this point, you have to carve out a specialized role for Peterson, which the Cardinals are set up to do in Bruce Arians’ system.
7. Last year, the Texans were able to mitigate the loss of J.J. Watt with Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney. Losing two of the three is altogether different, and why Houston was scouring the veteran market for help this week.
8. I had questions in this regard, so I have to give credit where it’s due: John Elway and the Broncos have done a bang up job churning the guts of their defense around stars like Von Miller, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. The Broncos have replaced five starters off their 2015 defense and are still very much elite on that side of the ball (which is bad news for their offensively challenged Sunday Night opponent from Jersey).
9. Based on the way he’s played, it’s outrageous that Jonathan Allen was available to the Redskins with the 17th pick in April. He looks like the same dominating player he was at Alabama. If his shoulders hold up, and that’s a significant if, then Washington got itself a steal.
10. The Chiefs rank second in the NFL in total offense, and while Andy Reid’s getting much deserved credit, no one should overlook the contributions of coordinator Matt Nagy. He’s earned a reputation as a great creative mind, and he’s clearly had serious input in what’s become the league’s most innovative offense. So he could be a head coaching candidate to watch when we get to December and January.