The 2019 NFL season is already a quarter of the way finished and team’s identity are starting to shape into form. At this point, there are only three undefeated teams left in the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and surprisingly the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, there are six winless teams and almost half the league is sitting at 2-2. If this course continues, the playoff race will be as exciting as ever, but what have we learned over the first quarter of the season? The Scorecrow family has put together another roundtable giving you their opinions on five NFL questions. Be sure to follow all the writers on twitter and ask any questions you may have regarding their answers. Without any further ado, let’s get into it.
Most Impressive Team?
Mike Fanelli: Buffalo Bills
You can’t knock a team for who they play, just how they play and if they win or not. The Bills have three solid wins, but none against a likely playoff team. However, despite that, they have outdone most people’s expectations this season. Even after losing Josh Allen to a concussion during Sunday’s game against the Patriots, the Bills only lost by six points. While the NFC has several teams fighting for the wild card spots, the Bills have easy opponents in three of their next four games (Titans, Dolphins, Redskins) and could find themselves with the third-best record in the AFC at 6-2 or 7-1 at the midseason point of the season.
Ethan Hewett: San Francisco 49ers
There are only three teams who remain undefeated and the 49ers are one as they are 3-0 and sit atop the AFC West Division. Jimmy Garoppolo still hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but a solid run game in Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert have made up for it sitting second in total rushing yards. The team’s success can also be attributed to an over performing defense who is currently third in total yards allowed this season along with a stout run defense averaging just 75 yards allowed a game. Combining the talents of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Garoppolo along with coach Kyle Shanahan on offense is starting to pay off, and I expect the 49ers to continue to impress in the coming weeks.
Dan Corrigan: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have been quite the surprise so far. Jameis Winston is on the final year of his rookie deal and has impressed. With 1,167 yards passing and nine touchdowns, the marriage with Bruce Arians has worked so far. To go with that, the Buccaneers have the number one run defense only allowing 59.2 YPG. If they can improve on that pass defense, they can make a run at a wide open NFC South.
Frank Ammirante: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs offense has not missed a beat without playmaking wide receiver Tyreek Hill. They’ve scored 40, 28, 33, and 34 points in their four games so far. The absence of Hill has allowed Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman to gain experience, so in the long run this injury will have been a good thing for this offseason. The Chiefs have way too much firepower and in today’s NFL, I’d rather have a high-flying offense than dominant defense. I don’t think any team is capable of slowing down Patrick Mahomes and company.
Michael Pallas: New England Patriots
The operative word in this question is team. The Patriots are a team usually carried by their offense early in the season. However, this team isn’t simply being carried by their offense. They’ve given up 17 total points in three games. While it’s against some of the worse teams of the league, it’s still impressive, because it usually doesn’t happen that way.
Least Impressive Team?
Mike: Los Angeles Rams
Despite having a 3-1 record, the Rams have been very underwhelming coming off their Super Bowl appearance. I don’t want to say they have Super Bowl hangover but this team is not sharp at all. Even before their embarrassing 55-40 loss to the Buccaneers where Jared Goff had four turnovers and the defense made Jameis Winston look like prime Ben Roethlisberger, the Rams haven’t had a dominating win. They barely beat the Panthers in week one, only blew out the Saints in week two thanks to Drew Brees getting injured, and couldn’t score 21 points against a Browns’ secondary that was missing four of their five starters. Needless to say, the Rams need to find out what’s wrong and fix it quickly or they could miss the playoffs.
Ethan: Washington Redskins
After another loss on Sunday to the New York Giants 24-3, the Redskins have fallen to 0-4 to start their 2019 campaign. Combined with a defense that can’t seem to stop anything along with a mess at the quarterback position, Washington has earned themselves the title of the least impressive team. Defensively, the Redskins find themselves in the bottom half of the league in nearly every category and their young, developing rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins got thrown under the bus against the Giants. The only bright spot for this team right now is rookie wideout Terry McLaurin and he is currently dealing with a hamstring injury and didn’t play Sunday. This could be a very tough year for Redskins fans.
Dan: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have not gotten off to a particularly “hot start.” Their only wins have come over the Bengals by one point and the Steelers by two. Russell Wilson has been great with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions, but it’s hard to pinpoint their playmaker. I think Seattle is still a very good team, they just have not met their dominate expectations yet.
Frank: Washington Redskins
While the Miami Dolphins are getting blown out weekly, at least they’ve traded their assets for some premium draft picks. The Redskins have gotten beat up in consecutive weeks, but they refuse to trade left tackle Trent Williams, even though he has made it clear that he will not play for them again. Washington’s defense should be much better, especially since they have two first-rounders on their defensive line in Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne. This team is underachieving due to poor coaching across the board. It’s time to rebuild and allow Dwayne Haskins to start for the rest of the season.
Michael: Cleveland Browns
The Dolphins would be the easy answer, but the Browns are the least impressive to me. They came into 2019 with a lot of hype. With the additions of the combination of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. was supposed to help propel this team into the playoffs, but they are 2-2 and have struggled until this past Sunday.
Current MVP Favorite?
Mike: Russell Wilson
Patrick Mahomes is the obvious choice and will likely win back-to-back MVPs as he is taking over the league. However, I’ll make a case for the highest-paid quarterback in the league, Wilson. So far this season, Wilson leads the league in completion percentage, while being ninth in passing yards, and tied for eighth in passing touchdowns despite a lack of big-time weapons. He is one of two quarterbacks to start every game this season and not throw an interception. The NFC West might be the strongest division in football right now and if Wilson can lead the 3-1 Seahawks to the division title, he belongs in the MVP conversation right next to Mahomes.
Ethan: Carson Wentz
The Philadelphia Eagles are currently 2-2, but Wentz has had a solid start to the season. Wentz has started his 2019 season almost identically to his potential MVP season in 2017. Wentz finds himself with 963 yards with nine touchdowns to just two interceptions. Wentz has also had to deal with several drops this season with nine coming in just the first three weeks. However, Wentz has continued to be a playmaker and after winning against the Green Bay Packers last Thursday, the Eagles’ future is bright. I expect Wentz to have really good games in the coming weeks against the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, both games I expect Philadelphia to win. Keep an eye on Wentz as the season progresses.
Dan: Patrick Mahomes
This one is easy, Mahomes, every day and twice on Sundays. He has 1,510 yards passing with 10 touchdowns and no turnovers. He just makes things look so effortless out there. Without Tyreek Hill or a true RB1, Mahomes is proving that his first full year starting was no fluke. He is easily on his way to winning back-to-back MVP awards.
Frank: Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes has led the Chiefs to a 4-0 record. Coming into week four, Mahomes was leading in passing touchdowns and passing yards. He’s following up last year’s 50 touchdown season with another dominant year. The MVP award is usually given to the quarterback with the best numbers on a contending team. I expect Mahomes to continue to lead the league in virtually every passing category and the Chiefs should win 12+ games, making him the likely winner of this award.
Michael: Josh Allen
We really should call this award the Most Outstanding Player, but that’s a debate on semantics that I won’t get into now. Patrick Mahomes is the easy answer given his numbers, but Allen has been the most integral player in winning for his team at the most important position. So, he’s the early MVP favorite. For more on why I think Allen is the MVP front runner click here.
Other than the Dolphins, which team has the best odds at the top pick in the 2020 draft?
Mike: Denver Broncos
As a Redskins fan, I want to pick them but they will find a way to win three or four meaningless games in the second half of the season and miss out on a top-five pick. However, the Broncos just lost Bradley Chubb to a torn ACL injury and have a very tough schedule for the rest of the season. Aside from a week six matchup with the Titans and week 17 meeting with the Raiders, the Broncos are likely to be five points or more underdogs to every other opponent the rest of the season. They will probably win a game or two somewhere but with almost half the league currently 2-2, a four-win season could wind getting you the number two pick in the draft this year.
Ethan: Cincinnati Bengals
While the Dolphins seem like the obvious choice, the Bengals have a chance at beating them in the race to the bottom. While the connection between Andy Dalton and John Ross has been great, they aren’t scoring points as they are only averaging 14.3 points per game compared to the 27.5 they are giving up. A young defensive secondary is getting exposed as the Bengals have struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and a lackluster offensive line has slowed down stud running back Joe Mixon. After a 27-3 defeat on Monday and a tough schedule ahead, this Bengals team could be lucky enough to win four games this season.
Dan: Washington Redskins
This spot is reserved for the Dolphins. They are so bad. I feel bad for Josh Rosen, I don`t think he is a bad player, but what a horrible team to “start fresh.” But other than the Dolphins, I think the Redskins could very well end up being the worst. Jay Gruden has no idea who is playing quarterback. Having Dwayne Haskins practice with the scout team and then throw him in the fire, that’s just a terrible move, especially for your rookie quarterback.
Frank: Washington Redskins
It appears the Redskins’ management is content with allowing Jay Gruden to coach the rest of the season, even though the players’ uninspiring play seems to indicate that Gruden has lost the locker room. Barring a coaching change, the Redskins are headed for a terrible season. They still have games against the Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots, Bills, Vikings, Lions, Packers, Panthers, and 49ers. This team is going to struggle to win three games this year.
Michael: Washington Redskins
The Dolphins are tanking, and they will probably go 0-16. However, if they find a way to accidentally win some games, the next best option is the Redskins. They are the worst team in the NFC, and they might fire their head coach midseason. They will likely be changing quarterbacks, and that’s never a good sign. If the Dolphins somehow find a way to accidentally win some games, don’t sleep on the Redskins when it comes to selecting first overall.
Which head coach is the first to be fired?
Mike: Jay Gruden
Now the Redskins fan in me is coming out. Gruden has to go! He has clearly lost the locker room, doesn’t have any respect for Dwayne Haskins, and the team is such a dysfunctional mess. Between Trent Williams refusing to play, all the injuries, and a lack of proper communication on both sides of the ball, this team needs a fresh start from the owner on down. While it will take a miracle for Dan Snyder to sell the team, firing the head coach is a start. The Redskins have a week 10 bye, if at that point the team’s only win is over the Dolphins, Gruden won’t be coaching after the bye week.
Ethan: Jay Gruden
In Gruden’s five seasons and four games with the Redskins, the team has found themselves one NFC East title and a record of 35-48-1 with two seasons above .500 and just one playoff berth (2015). Not a great track record, and once former offensive coordinator Sean McVay left after the 2016 season, offensive production dropped as the team found has found themselves in the bottom half of the league the past two seasons in total yards. 2019 started with some hope after a close loss on the road to the Philadelphia Eagles, but that hope has vanished after a 24-3 loss on Sunday to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones and the New York Giants. After an 0-4 start, Gruden should be out the door at the end of this year, if not sooner.
Dan: Jay Gruden
I think Gruden will be fired sometime soon if he can’t figure out his quarterback situation. You have one of the most talented rookie quarterbacks in Dwayne Haskins and are stunting his development. If you want him to play, get him some first-team reps in practice. Gruden’s 35-44-1 record certainty won’t keep him employed very long.
Frank: Jay Gruden
Gruden has lost the locker room in Washington, as the team has continued to under-achieve on a weekly basis. This team consistently turns the ball over and commits tons of penalties. One of the coaching decisions that exemplifies Gruden’s incompetence came against the Giants, where he decided to decline an offensive holding call that would have put the Giants at 4th and 7 with a long field goal attempt. Instead, it was 3rd and 17 – the Giants gained 15 on a passing play before converting on 4th and 2. The drive ended in a touchdown. Simply put, Gruden needs to go.
Michael: Jay Gruden
To piggyback off my last answer, Gruden is likely the first to get fired. There are reports that there’s a rift in the organization over starting rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and if he doesn’t at some point that might be the end of his tenure in D.C. Gruden is in the midst of his third straight season under .500 and his fourth overall. So, he may not even make it to the end of 2019.
Usually, our writers don’t all agree on one question but everyone seems to think Gruden won’t be around much longer for the Redskins. The 2019 season has been amazing so far. If you enjoyed this roundtable, be sure to look out for our next one, which should be out around week eight.
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