Just in case the 31 shots of Drew Brees stretching and flexing his thumb on the sideline of Sunday Night Football didn’t make it clear to you, dear viewer, the Saints have been without one of the best players in football for two weeks now. In that time, the Saints are 2-0, with wins over two of the best teams in football.
It says a lot about the roster Jeff Ireland and the scouting staff in New Orleans put together. It says a lot, especially, about Dennis Allen’s defense. But it also speaks volumes about Sean Payton, since the entire operation falls under his maniacal purview. Save for maybe what Bill Belichick is doing in New England, it would be difficult to find someone doing a better job coaching right now, though Payton is not the only one saving his team’s season from obvious ruin with some ingenuity.
If we were to group only the teams together who have suffered some type of catastrophic injury or other emotional typhoon, how would you rank the best crisis managers so far?
2. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
With the mustachioed Gardner Minshew under center, on the road, trailing with under two minutes to play, the Jaguars rumbled down the field to beat a winless but still quite talented Broncos team. Marrone is in the middle of a hell storm. Nick Foles, his starting quarterback, went down Week 1 with a broken collarbone. The team’s star cover corner is trying to force his way off the roster. And yet, the Jaguars came within a point of beating the Texans, throttled the Titans on a short week and then edged a Broncos team that is tough to beat at home.
3. Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
A disappointing loss against the Raiders this week, though the Colts were in it until the final moments. It helps to have someone like Jacoby Brissett to pick up the pieces when your starting quarterback retires right before the start of the season. That said, this has been quite a lift for Reich in his second year as head coach. Indianapolis is in the thick of a deadlocked division.
4. Pat Shurmur, New York Giants
I don’t think Shurmur has been given enough credit for his handling of the Manning transition, while still getting Daniel Jones ready to play. Yes, their two wins came on a fluke missed field goal and against a Washington team that, when all is said and done, may end up being the biggest dumpster fire in the NFL in 2019. But this was 1.5 games without Saquon Barkley and a brand new rookie starter under center. They’re in second place in the division, with Barkley now reportedly expected back sooner rather than later.
5. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
It’s unclear why Cam Newton’s various ailments have been handled the way they were, but here the Panthers are, sitting at 2-2 on a two-game winning streak with Kyle Allen under center. While the game plan Sunday was obvious (Christian McCaffrey), Carolina has been expertly treading water while they figure out what is next for their franchise QB.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: This is my ready list for owners and GMs considering a coaching change. … The Magic of Gardner Minshew. … On Cam Newton’s direct-to-the-consumer approach to talking about injuries.
1. What happened in the end-of-game kerfluffle between current Giants, former Giants and Washington football team members?
2. Good to see Cleveland media isn’t overreacting after a strong win against Baltimore
3. While this was viewed as a burn on the reporter, to me, I see it as Deshaun Watson trying to make us smarter (even if he does seem a little miffed about it).
4. Mitch Trubisky’s injury raises more questions.
5. Odell Beckham is having a difficult time keeping all of his jewelry accounted for.
May we all have a second act in life like the great Roy Orbison.
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